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ZYTARUK: Bureaucracy a bellyache from cradle to grave

So let it be written…

We all have examples of asinine dealings with bureaucrats, from cradle to the grave. Some are so egregious they make headlines. Here’s a few more for the pile.

My father, a Canadian air force veteran no less, is 85 years old. He lives in the Fraser Valley and has been trying to renew his passport — he’s had them before, you know — but he’s running into some walls because his name Alex appearing on some documentation doesn’t jibe with Alexander on other documentation.

So, the passport people want him to obtain a new birth certificate from Manitoba, where he was born, to sort it all out. In he goes, through that hoop. The Vital Statistics Agency, at 254 Portage Avenue in Winnipeg, subsequently sent him a letter telling him they can’t fulfill his June 4 request because he needs to provide to them his father’s “correct place of birth other than Austria” by Sept. 30 or “the file will be closed and a non-refundable $30.00 administration fee will be kept.”

So they want my 85-year-old father to submit to them his father’s birth certificate — a fellow who emigrated to Canada in what, 1908?

Could you imagine trying to find such a document? Of note, the bureaucrats say his father’s place of birth is not registered as Austria on the birth registration, so they already have the answer to their own question. They go on to inform my soon-to-be 86-year-old father, “If you would like this information corrected on the birth record provide a $30.00 amendment fee and we will review the application.”

And here’s the kicker: On this single-sheet “More Information Required” letter from the Vital Statistics Agency in Manitoba, sent along by these quibbling sticklers for detail, they’ve addressed my father as Alex Zytaruk, Alexander Zytaruk and Alex Zataruk…

Vital Statistics should be called Vital Stick Its, because they really stick it to you.

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Before marrying my wife in Guatemala, the powers that be required proof from me that I didn’t already have another wife in Canada. So I had to pay I think it was $75 for a sheet of paper from the stick-it-to-you people in Victoria. It contained two paragraphs that said something to the effect that while B.C. had no record of me being married, Canada still has nine more provinces and three territories where I could have been married, unbeknownst to them…

Last year, I wrote a column about a woman whose first name is Canada. She was looking forward to receiving her first Old Age Security payment.

Enter, the feds.

“They want my passport from 1975,” Canada groaned in 2017. “C’mon, who hangs onto those things?

“C’mon, it’s 42 years ago,” she said. “They want to know how many places I’ve lived in since 1975. Really crazy information.

“Why me?” she pleaded to the universe. “There’s a saying that God only gives you enough that you can handle. Well, I’ve had enough.”

I daresay, Canada, that God has nothing to do with the botheration of government bureaucracy, but that other guy downstairs certainly might.

It seems retirement isn’t all about paragliding off into the sunset, like the television commercials suggest.

It is, however, about having to deal with government fatuousness until you breathe your last.

Do you have a fearsome tale of brainless bureaucracy to share?

I mean, frustrating enough to make you scream out loud?

Share it with me, if you will. Might be the only relief you get.

So let it be done.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com
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