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October 06, 2008

Some Simple Truths As Canadians Head to the Polls

Img_6649 Some simple truths, as I see them, as Canadians prepare to head to the polls.

  • We talk about how we want to feel safe and secure -- to have a government that makes sound economic decisions that take the needs of the ordinary citizen into account -- and that won't cause us to lose our bank account savings or our homes.

Simple truth: We need a government with sound economic vision and a willingness to steer clear of the mistakes of the Bush administration.

  • We talk about how important it is to us to stop destroying the planet so that our beautiful country will be able to provide the land and water that our children and grandchildren will need to grown and thrive.

Simple truth: We need a government that is offering Canadian voters a fully-costed visionary plan on tackling the biggest issue of our generation. The Conservative Party of Canada is completely at odds with the kind of action Canadians want to see on the environment. Every other party understands the necessity of making the environment a priority issue.

  • We talk about how industries that are doing the damage to the planet should be the ones to pay to clean it up.

Simple truth: We need an environmental action plan that taxes what we burn, not what we earn. Read this article to find out why David Suzuki thinks a carbon tax is the way to go.

  • We talk about how much our health care system matters to us -- and how important it is to us that every Canadian be able to have access to a family doctor and how chronically underserviced communities and provinces need to have their long-standing shortages in certain health specialties (for example children's mental health services; mental health services in general)?

Simple truth: The progressive parties understand what Canadians mean when they say that our health care system is failing us. It's not all about wait times and better record-keeping. Nor is privatization the answer.

  • We talk about how we want a government that protects the health and safety of Canadians.

Simple truth: Public health and safety should never be compromised; nor should our public health standards be lowered to appease business interests. And yet that's precisely what has happened under the Conservative government. When a respected health authority like the Canadian Medical Association issues a warning like this, it's time for Canadians to take that warning very seriously. Here's what the CMA had to has to say on this issue. (Read the full article in the October 7, 2008, issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, available for download from the cmaj.ca website.)

Government policy errors helped bring about this epidemic. Yet surprisingly, government has taken no remedial steps beyond issuing a food recall. Instead, officials praise the success of our infectious disease surveillance system — as if, with 16 dead [20 as of today], there were cause to celebrate — while food safety standards remain as low as ever.

The listeriosis epidemic is a timely reminder that the Harper government has reversed much of the progress that previous governments made on governing for public health.

....And listeriosis may be the least of it. The same November 2007 Cabinet decision that handed self-inspection to the owners of meat plants did the same for operators of animal feed mills and cut back the avian influenza preparedness program. Yet bad animal feed led to the epidemic of bovinespongiform encephalitis (mad cow disease), and in an influenza pandemic tens of thousands of Canadians may die. Listeriosis pales in comparison. Overall, it would seem that, as a country, Canada is far less prepared now for epidemics than in the past.

- Editorial, Canadian Medical Association Journal, Oct 7, 2008 issue

  • We talk about the importance of protecting our rural heritage while creating safe and healthy urban environments -- cities in which people can walk or bike to work instead of driving their cars.

Simple truth: We need a government that will ensure that the provinces, the cities, and our rural governments are able to create healthier, greener, communities where everyone has the same opportunity to thrive.

  • We talk about how we want a government that looks out for the needs of farmers and that provide Canadians with accurate and reliable information about genetically modified foods, agri-business, and other issues that affect the food that shows up on their dinner table.

Simple truth: The Conservative government defeated a bill designed to provide Canadians with full details about the genetically modified foods (the so-called frankenfoods) that are showing up on our grocery store shelves. We need a progressive government that will put the health and safety of Canadians first and the interests of big business second.

  • We talk about how much we value freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and government transparency, and government accountability -- and how much we want politicians who are accessible, genuine, and trustworthy.

Simple truth: It hasn't even been possible for Canadians to get full disclosure from Stephen Harper during this campaign. Or before the campaign, for that matter. He has conducted carefully staged media events and tried to stay out of the public eye as much as possible. The campaign has been one of the nastiest on record, with the Liberal campaign having to issue almost daily "Reality Checks" to counter the campaign of misinformation being carried out by the Prime Minister and key members of his cabinet. And the U.S. style attack campaign launched against Stephane Dion one month after he became Leader of the Official Opposition -- and that continued for the 21 months leading up to this election -- has taken the art of the political smear campaign to new and unimagined lows. But Harper and his team have learned from the best: they've had campaign coaching assistance from the team that taught George W. Bush how to fight dirty. (Oh yeah: one other thing. Members of the Conservative Party tried to defeat a bill that allows Canadian journalists to protect their sources -- an almost sacred principle of Freedom of the Press. Fortunately, members of the opposition parties rallied to get the bill through. Pretty incredible, don't you think?)

  • We talk about how much we regret the treatment that aboriginal people in this country have received -- and how we want to move forward in ways that take serious action to right those wrongs.

Simple truth: Destroying the Kelowna Accord, as the Harper government did, amounted to breaking a treaty between two nations. And aboriginal people in Canada continue to live with the fallout of historical wrongs that need to be addressed in a meaningful way.   

  • We talk about how much we value being part of a society in which everyone has equal opportunity to succeed -- including new Canadians -- and in which no one is discriminated against.

Simple truth: The Harper Conservatives changed the mandate of Status of Women Canada to eliminate all activities that have to do with "political equality" or advocacy work. You only have to consider the number of women who make it Parliament Hill in this country to see that this cut was ill-informed (and, many say, extremely mean-spirited). The fallout is being felt by women's groups who do valuable work across this country.   

  • We talk about how proud we are of the Canadian Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms -- and a justice system that assumes innocence until a person is proven guilty.

Simple truth: The Harper government chopped funding to the Court Challenges Program -- one of the only hopes "the little guy" in this country had of launching a Supreme Court challenge. Some of the key rights and freedoms that we enjoy in this country were defined by Supreme Court challenges. The Liberal Party has promised Canadians it will bring back the Court Challenges Program.

But that's not all. The Harper government embraces a U.S.-style approach to justice -- "lock up young offenders and throw away the key" -- isn't just ineffective (it leads to higher crime rates); it's also at odds with our traditional belief in rehabilitation of troubled youth. Even the judge who prepared the report recommending changes to the Youth Justice Act has spoken out harshly against the Harper government's regressive approach to justice in this country. (He also didn't appreciate having Harper falsely claim that he had endorsed the Harper youth justice program.)

  • We talk about the importance of giving young people the best possible start in life -- how the early years are the most important years: a critical time when we must invest in our children because they are our country's future.

Simple truth: We need a government that is willing to invest in those early years by creating quality childcare spaces operated by not-for-profit operators rather than trying to mislead Canadians with a tax credit that shrinks down to very little once the tax man gets his hand on it.

  • We talk about how much we value our children and our families, including our seniors.

Simple truth: We need a government that will safeguard the health and financial well-being of seniors. Seniors are among the most vulnerable populations in times of epidemics and, as the Canadian Medical Association has warned, Canada is far less prepared for a global epidemic than it was before Stephen Harper came to power, as a result of incredibly ill-advised policy decisions in the area of Public Health.

And then there was the broken promise about income trusts -- a breach of trust that took a huge bite out of the savings of ordinary Canadians -- including seniors. 

  • We talk about how proud we are about being Canadian and having a uniquely Canadian identity.

Simple truth: At the heart of that unique and vibrant Canadian identity is a tradition of investing in the arts and culture sector in this country. The Conservative government has demonstrated that it doesn't value what artists contribute to the Canadian economy and that it would like to play Big Brother when it comes to deciding what types of material make for suitable entertainment for Canadians.

  • We talk about how fortunately we are to live in a country like Canada that is one of the safest countries in the world.

Simple truth: It's difficult to feel safe when there's so much we aren't being told about the safety of our food supply, our preparedness for a global pandemic, and who knows what else. It's the who knows what else that is the scariest part. We need a government that will be frank and open with Canadians and work with all levels of government -- provinces, cities, rural municipalities -- to ensure that no other Canadians are allowed to fall through the safety net that we Canadians both prize and take for granted. We don't want any more public health disasters under the watch of the Conservatives.

  • We talk about how proud we feel when we travel abroad and people from other countries speak glowingly about Canada and its peacekeeping and environmental stewardship record abroad.

Simple truth: Our international reputation has been badly damaged by the actions of this government. We're no longer seen as advocates for peace, justice, and the environment. We don't always step forward when the right thing needs to be done. Instead, we look over our shoulder to find out what the Americans are doing -- and then we adjust our position accordingly. Our independent voice in the world has been silenced and countries around the world are suffering as a result. What has happened to Canada? they ask. Many Canadians are asking themselves the same thing.

And, finally, the simplest truth of all:

If this is what we want and value as Canadians,
we can't afford to vote for Stephen Harper in this election.

When you vote, please vote for the kind of government that will create the Canada you want. And please urge other like-minded Canadians to get to the polls, too.
- Ann Douglas

CBC.ca Summary of Party Platforms

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Comments

Thanks, Sassy.

Jack -- I downloaded a copy yesterday and added it to my links -- but thanks for mentioning it in the comments. It's a fabulous song. I feel like driving around Peterborough with my windows rolled down, playing it really loudly. Hey, maybe I will! Ann

Hi Ann, I thought this might be of interest to your readers. Avaaz.ca has put together a song titled, “You Have a Choice” featuring Canadian artists (including K-OS, Hawksley Workman, Sarah Harmer, Jason Collet and more) who have banded together to mobilize Canadian voters to defeat Harper and fight climate change. An mp3 of the song is available at their website: avaaz.ca

Simply a good post, thanks for your clarity.

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