Brian Lee Crowley

K1A mess for sure

Contemplating the current frenzy over the census, I am moved to ask: What should we call an issue that excites the usual suspects in Ottawa but doesn’t interest, or matter to, normal Canadians? In the United States they say “Inside the Beltway” but “North of the Queensway” isn’t really adequate.

When I was in the UK studying, I heard a talk by a very senior civil servant who, instead of using the “Whitehall” language to describe British government preoccupations, called them “SW1 problems”, SW1 being the postal code that covers much of the government machinery in London. “SW1 problems” were by definition “insider insider”, the things that preoccupied grey mandarins and fed the conversations in the pubs around government offices, but had no resonance in Balham or Birkenhead or Bristol.

I think we should adapt that to Canada and talk about an “Inside K1A” issue. because all postal codes beginning with K1A are for federal government offices and, moreover, it is the only postal code in the country that crosses a provincial boundary in order to take in parts of the federal bureaucracy located in Gatineau. (Only federal offices; all residential or private business addresses in Gatineau start with J.)

I think that if Canada has 100 top problems, whether or not we fill in a long form census is approximately number 536. What an “Inside K1A” issue.

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Brian Lee Crowley
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