Al Errington says that Gang Politics, a new book that he co-authored with Riley Smith, was born out of frustration with dysfunctional governments.
“The political parties really operate like gangs - protectionist gangs that take over our government for a certain number of years, and then we’re forced into a fairly dysfunctional electoral process where we have to choose different gangs to rule us for the next three or four years,” he said.
Errington was just one of 20 authors who set up shop at the James L. McIntyre Centennial Library Friday to discuss and potentially sell their published works as part of the library’s Author Palooza event.
Errington says the idea behind Gang Politics began when he served as president of the Northern Ontario Tourist Outfitters Association in the early to mid-2000s.
That was when the idea of governance began to surface.
“What frustrated me, because we interacted a lot with government, is how dysfunctional a government was, so I started applying what I had and developed in regard to understanding of governance to government,” he said.
People often confuse governance with government or governing, Errington tells SooToday, but he says that’s not the case.
“It’s actually how an organization is governed. It’s a word about the internal structure and processes of how an organization is focused on achieving what it should, and being accountable in achieving what it should,” he said.
Errington says the title of the book he co-authored with Smith was an attempt to put a name on the control that political parties have upon governments, which are ultimately intended for the people.
“They actually operate a lot like gangs in regard to controlling territories and protectionism and bribing, coercing, those types of things - they actually work a lot like gangs,” he said.
Errington credits co-author Smith for her contributions to Gang Politics, which included a substantial amount of writing and editing.
He says the two met while working on a passenger train-related project.
“She is a media professional and a very good writer,” said Errington. “I asked her, ‘Riley, could you help me with this? Could you help me put this together?’ and between the two of us, we put this together.”
Errington has also taken some of his thoughts on organizational governance to the classroom as an educational tool and has developed a consultation business and website aimed at governance education.
The author gave a talk on governance to a grade 12 class at White Pines Thursday.
“Government is completely messed up, and the fundamental dysfunction is all related to organizational governance,” said Errington. “The problem with governance is there’s very little good educational material for governance fundamentals, so I started developing my own - mostly graphics, a set of four graphics that make it easy to understand governance.”
Errington says the reaction to Gang Politics has been positive.
“Well, considering the book has only been out for about two weeks now, we’ve been fairly pleased,” he said. “We’ve been making some sales online, had a few sales at the library here today and got to talk to some people about governance.”
EDITOR'S NOTE: Riley Smith is also an Assistant Editor at SooToday