Saturday, 4 June 2011

Where is Canada headed now?

Harper and Layton share the railing
Our new Prime Minister, now with a majority of seats in the house (167/308), has run on a series of planks that scare me. Last time he ran (2008) and ended up with a minority of seats, he promised to reform our expensive Senate. It is stacked with party favourites, retirement age: 75, although Stephen Harper promised that this institution would be revised. NOT. The upper house continues, as appointed members, to influence laws created by elected House of Commons duly elected members. Large salaries, huge costs ($90 million), no accountability for attendance, and terrific pensions.
How the other half lives

His 2011 platform runs against my sensibilities:
  • abandoning the gun registry

How police use the gun registry

'That adds up to a staggering 3,438,729 queries from police officers last year. It’s hard to imagine a federal database more intensively mined.'
  • lowering taxes
life in the swamp
The middle class carry the bulk of the tax burdens. The rich get richer, the poor do not pay taxes. We'll have less money for universal healthcare, to support those who need our help. Big business, with lowered taxes (likely cut to 15% in 2012, the US rate is 35%), is theoretically supposed to improve our economy.

More was proposed in the last budget, likely to be resurrected...
  • Additional or increased tax credits for family caregivers, volunteer firefighters, post-secondary education, children’s fitness and art programs and energy-efficient home improvements are probable. 
Road maintenance
Let's hope. Yet, the small tax credit for caring for failing parents, is less than meaningful. Many firefighters do not make enough money for their tax credit to be worthwhile. 
For middle class families putting kids into a fitness or arts program, what a drop in the bucket. 
A tax credit for improving our houses energy efficiency, might help the middle class, but not those living without the means to reduce heating and hydro bills by incorporating green solutions (especially fixed-income seniors). Many cannot afford repairs to their aging homes.
  • Free trade agreements with the EU and India will be pursued. 
  • The Canadian Wheat Board, the last major agricultural marketing monopoly in the world, will likely lose its exclusive hold over the buying and selling of Western Canada’s wheat and barley.
What worries me:
  • little attention, understanding, or respect for the environment, 
Green energy sector not cheering Tory majority
May 03, 2011 – Industry executives say they don’t expect government to show leadership on renewables
It's an overgrown swamp
The previous owners of this house, while running on well and septic, have a large container of weed killer. Other neighbours and citizens shoot guns off-season, hunt protected wildlife, decimate habitat, and dump garbage on their land and in the ditches.
  • media claims: universal healthcare is broken
Harper stares down the people
Articles in the media claim healthcare is broken. This is an excuse to go for private clinics, which drain the system of its doctors and nurses. Concierge healthcare is a scary proposition. We cannot aim for the US model. I predict they are hoping to create a two-tier system. In this way the poor will share its physicians, while the rich go to specialty Concierge clinics. The doctor/patient ratio will only get worse.
  • getting 'tough on crime'
Ruffled Senate feathers
Crime rates are, in fact, are lowering. Getting tough on crime has resulted in crowded prison systems, the training of criminals, rather than their rehabilitation. Offenders more comfortable within the criminal system, rather than in the community, contributing to society and getting help for their psychosocial issues and addictions or finding work. The stories you read about criminal breaking out, running, are those who are not rehabilitated, and are destroyed by the crowded system. My contacts, where I volunteered in the prison system, assure me this is so. Those close to being able to be reached; minor drug offences, fraud, girlfriends who get caught doing something for a boyfriend...these people learn how to be hard core in prison. I believe more in rehabilitation and facing consequences, giving back to the communities they have exploited. 

expensive cottages, playground of the rich
Conservative John Baird, the re-elected member for Ottawa West-Nepean, had said the Conservative government would trim $4 billion in annual federal program spending if elected. They say, through attrition, but I am not convinced. Every time they cut jobs, it isn't the expensive managers. It's the people who work on behalf of those who have no voice.
  • The Conservatives also support the elimination of mandatory retirement requirements at federally regulated employers such as banks. 
They are changing mandatory retirement age. Without workers to pay taxes, we'll have to find new jobs. There are many who must work at low-paying jobs who do not have pensions and cannot afford to retire. 
Why does our Senate have highly-paid senators who retire at age 75, if this is their philosophy?

This house is beyond redemption!
Another Conservative issue: 
Without environmental and safety legislation, we risk the land and our people. There are those who say not to fear, that our Conservatives are no where near the US Tea Party attitude, but I beg to differ. I've seen it here in Lanark County.

We shall see what happens!


Deb said...

It scares me too.

red said...

You're preaching to a convert here. Yes I think all these things will happen. I can't believe tha people elected some of these clowns. Bev Oda? John Baird? Vic Toews? Some of the people elected have done some pretty awful things.

Christine said...

very good (worrisome) points Jenn. I'm not political but I'm sure many are uncomfortable with the new Conservative majority. My friend thinks he's too authoritarian.