June 9th, 2010


Bureaucracy, A Canadian Tradition Since the Days of the Empire

I am sending in my passport renewal, which in itself is not particularly odious, particularly since it is no longer required to get a notary, CGA or medical doctor to vouch for my identity. I'm slipping everything into the envelope provided and spot a little notice on the back
Passport Canada, Canada Post and Service Canada are working together to increase your access to passport services. Visit the Passport Canada website at www.passportcanada.gc.ca
"Oh," I think to myself, "does this mean I don't have to put postage on this? Can I just drop it off at the post office?"

So I go and look, and yes, I can submit my application at participating postal outlets—for a $20 additional fee. Meaning that I can go to the post office and hand them my renewal in person for $20 or I can get them to put a stamp on it for $1 and send it to Québec to be processed. Even if I shell out for tracking as they suggest when mailing it, it is still only $6. How on earth does paying $14-$19 more to hand the same envelope to the same person "increase [my] access to passport services"?

This is the sort of thing that is invented by life-long civil-servants of the sort that will swarm around the box of Timmy's brought in by Agnes in the Scrivening Department like corpulent vultures, yet are unwilling to take the last half of a half of a half of a doughnut for fear of being the bad person who took the last piece. Technically there is still some doughnut left. And technically I do have the option of applying for my passport renewal at the Post Office.

And this is enough for some nearing-retirement assistant-undersecretary to the assistant-deputy-ministers at Canada Post and Passport Canada to make it worthy of announcing on the envelopes. They have contributed. They have a legacy. Your tax dollars at work.