Letter from Edinburgh 10.04.09

I had to escape the feeling of rejection. So there I was on Sunday morning, sitting at Sumburgh waiting for the Aberdeen plane … and who should walk into the terminal but a fellow contestant.

The aftermath of the CLAN dancing judges’ decisions and marks were discussed, analysed and noted. How could they not recognise the enormous talents that were on display? It was all too much.

Valerie was heading for retail therapy in Aberdeen. My relaxation is meeting Canadian politicians in Quebec to discuss politics. Yes I know. It is difficult to understand. How could any sane person believe that an escape from the Strictly CLAN Dancing result would be to discuss politics and the Canadian constitution?

In passing, a huge well done to everyone who organised quite a night at the weekend at Clickimin. It looked great. Terrifying, but great. And Shane and Michelle looked the part and were worthy winners. The amount of money raised was staggering.

So many Shetland families are touched by the impact of cancer, so playing a small part in helping people in the future is the least we can all do. It was Shetland at its best and made me very proud of our islands. That is after the feeling of rejection wore off.

The serious stuff this week has been the relationship between Canada’s federal government in Ottawa and the provinces. I was with a cross-party group of MSPs looking at ways in which the relationship between London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast could be refined, improved and developed.

There are of course great dif­ferences but there are also many similarities. In Canada, the federal government spends money on issues for which it doesn’t have responsibility. So healthcare, for example, is the responsibility of Quebec. But Ottawa spends money on a Canada-wide health care plan. That annoys the provinces. It’s like the UK Government paying for a new Gilbert Bain Hospital over the heads of the Scottish Government. Superficially attractive – but creating long-term tensions.

Canada’s western provinces, like Alberta and British Columbia, feel remote and ignored by the federal government in Ottawa. It’s about geography and distance, exactly like Shetland or the north east feeling ignored by Edinburgh or London. So fascin­ating differences and similarities.

There is no perfect system of government. But I like Canada’s because it is constantly changing and evolving with the objective of producing better quality decisions and services for local people. That’s got to be our objective in the UK as well.

Tavish Scott MSP


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