The ancient Sufi poet, Attar of Nishapur, once observed that “this too shall pass.” By this, he meant that, in good times, enjoy what you encounter, for the good times shall pass away. In bad times, do not despair, for these too shall also pass away.
As I look around St. Albert, I sense that the good times we have been enjoying could soon depart, unfortunately. By this I mean that we are about to lose the most outstanding mayor our city has ever enjoyed. Nolan Crouse committed his heart and soul to fulfilling the duties of mayor. He attended every conceivable event that was held in our community, he worked hard to understand the issues, the problems, and devoted himself to finding the solutions, something he did with amazing frequency. He provided enlightened and focused leadership and despite the condemnations from a few who were determined to take the low road, he held himself to a high standard, and always stuck to the high road. I did not always agree with Nolan, of course. Over time, I believe he came to think that government is the solution to most problems. For me, I stick with Ronald Reagan’s statement that “government is not the solution, government is the problem” (although Reagan himself could also be the problem on occasion). However, Nolan is a well-informed individual who listened, carefully, to his critics and considered all points of view. For reasons I do not understand, a few members of council seemed determined to make the Mayor’s life as miserable as possible, and they often attempted to ruin Nolan’s reputation through a series of minor little errors. Anyone who knows Nolan appreciates he is a man of honour, a man of his word, and never attempted to gain personal or financial advantage from his elected position. For a mayor who worked so hard to improve our city, he certainly deserved better treatment than he received.
Yes, St. Albert will continue. New mayors will arrive, and old mayors will leave. Some will likely be good, others not so much. Old problems may linger, new problems will arrive, some will be solved, others will not. But if we have learned one lesson, it must be that if we ever want to attract good men and women into politics, then we need to support them, defend them, and show that their efforts are appreciated.
So, thank you, Mr. Mayor. As I have said on many occasions, Nolan Crouse is one of the most remarkable men I’ve ever met in my life. I am proud to have you as a friend, and delighted (but not surprised) that St. Albert prospered under your years of enlightened leadership. And since I began with the words of an ancient poet, I close with the words of another ancient poet, this time from Greece. His name was Aeschylus, and he cautioned all of us to understand that the search for wisdom in a long and difficult battle: “He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God”.