Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Why I love Google and Clay Serby

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I made a phone call to the Saskatchewan government yesterday looking for information on the status of the wheat board referendum that is supposed to take place in that province.I spoke to someone in the department of agriculture, made my request and was told someone else would have to phone me back. All I asked for was an update on the status of the referendum.So I almost fell off my chair when a few hours later my phone rang and the woman on the other end of the line told me Minister Serby was waiting to talk to me.My first thought was – “Who the heck is Minister Serby? And why is he calling me?”My pregnant pause (I think I may have even uttered a guttural uh, as my brain worked overtime to remember why the name was familiar) led her to say that he was calling to talk about the wheat board referendum.Then I thought – "Did she say Serby? Maybe she meant Strahl. I was waiting for federal Ag minister Chuck Strahl to call me. Maybe I heard her wrong? Argh. Work brain work."All I can say is thank God for Google. And fast computers. In the mere seconds between the woman connecting me with Serby and our initial greetings (which in January means we talked about the weather) I was able to find out he was a minister in Saskatchewan. Though he is no longer the minister of Agriculture as I initially thought and wrote in the paper today. He's the deputy premier and minister of regional economic development.We chatted for several minutes about the referendum and what Saskatchewan is doing and then we said our goodbyes. And I spent several minutes looking at the phone, wishing every government minister was so accessible. And also wondering if i should review the names of other ministers in Saskatchewan just in case.I’ve always known it’s a lot easier to get ministers on the phone in Manitoba, and other smaller provinces than it is with bigger governments. But to get a minister respond to an interview request you didn’t actually make – now that’s what I call service.I wrote here recently about my failing patience with the federal government and the general difficulty getting Manitoba Senior Minister Vic Toews and his colleagues to respond to interview requests.Just as an update to that complaint I have been assured Minister Toews’ office heard my pleas and whining loud and clear. I have yet to test the new world and new relationship this newspaper may have with him and his office. But the optimist in me thinks things might get a little better and I may get to chat with the Manitoba senior minister a little more often. Which means you folks at home will also get to hear from him more often.If not, at least I know now someone besides my mother reads this blog.

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