To be brave enough to speak

But to hear the noise from the Conservative side of the House of Commons this week, one would think that the Halifax NDP MP and her colleague from Nickel Belt, Claude Gravelle, were treasonous subversives who should be drawn and quartered at dawn.

Their crime?

They went to Washington to provide a different point of view on the Keystone XL pipeline project and to tell American legislators that, contrary to the cheerleading of Stephen Harper and his cabinet, not every Canadian was a proponent of Alberta’s tar sands.”

  • Tim Harper: For Conservatives, contrary positions are treasonous, Published On Thu Nov 17 2011 , Thestar.com

For the last 10 years, I have noted one scary trend: the trend toward “political absolutism”. In 2004 and 2006, the Martin Government claimed that the opposition Tories had something to “hide”. While, recently Prime Minister Stephen Harper has claimed the Liberals or the NDP are traitors. Mr. Harper said ““This government does not go to another country to argue against job creation in Canada, but that is what the NDP did, a party that is totally unfit to govern,” Harper said inside the Commons according to Mark Dunn, Senior National Reporter for canoe.ca in his piece “Harper slams NDP for killing jobs in Canada”.  

The Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver described the NDP trip to the US as being  “bizarre”. He further noted that the “NDP are totally out of touch with ordinary Canadians and economic reality. Send in the clowns”.

David J. Climenhaga, of Beacon News.ca, noted something similar in his recent piece:

When you hear reports of opposition to Transcanada Corp.’s Keystone XL Pipeline project in Alberta’s media nowadays, it’s always cast as the work of nutty environmentalists – and treasonably un-Albertan ones at that, if the environmentalists in question happen to be from around here.”

From what I can tell, this is not just a Canadian trend either. In the United States, the Republicans indicate that the Democrats are engaged in “class warfare”, while the Democrats complain that the Republicans are the party of the rich. Depending on who you are listening to, Corporations and Unions are buying elections; while other outside interests like the Federal Reserve Board are criticized for problems that they have not caused. Constructive criticism is never given and everybody has an opinion.

So what do we do? We raise our voices respectful and intelligently. We should not allow ourselves to be shouted down. But we must always be respectful. With this notion, I find myself having a lot of sympathy with the Occupy Movement, with environmentalists speaking against the XL Pipeline and with business people who call for great efficiency within our economy.

I share ideas with those who feel that the Canadian military needs greater resources, and a simplification of our income tax system is necessary. Our country needs to have a serious policy discussion on where we need to be. We, as Canadians, need to be brave enough to speak about the issues that exist.

For example, Statistic Canada has noted that Canada is a country that is beginning to experience social inequality. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. In their Monday, September 24, 2007, Press Release called the “Daily”, Statistics Canada pointed out that “in 1992, Canadians in the top 5% of the taxfiler population accounted for about 21% of total income. By 2004, they accounted for 25% of total income”. Or put differently, the top 5% of the country’s taxfiler population, those who made over $89,000 a year, found that their income increased. This cannot be said of rural Canada or the lower income Canadians, as noted in “the Daily” dated Thursday, July 21, 2005.

Jeffrey Simpson reported that Canada’s reputation is taking a hit because no one can hold the federal government to account. In an article entitled “Amid dire warming warnings, Canada is MIA”, in the Globe and Mail.com, he noted that “at Durban, once again, Canada will be excluded from any serious deliberations. Canada is widely considered a climate-change miscreant. Nobody who knows the climate-change file in Canada or abroad believes the federal government’s intention to reduce emissions by 17 per cent by 2020 from 2005 levels.”

While, Barrie McKenna, also a Globe and Mail Columnist, noted in his article “Canada’s innovation window of opportunity”, something that the business community has known for years. “We are underperformers – not compared with our overindebted G7 compatriots but compared with our economic potential. Canada’s record on productivity is poor, and the country suffers from a chronic innovation gap. Outside of the mining and energy sectors, the list of Canadian companies making a meaningful impact on a global stage is exceedingly short. The most innovative one of all, Research In Motion Ltd. of Waterloo, Ont., has been put on the defensive by foreign competitors that have been stealing market share with products that are more cutting-edge than the BlackBerry.”

Yet, again, our federal government does not act. The reduction of income taxes or other reduction in tax revenue has not helped. Under three different Prime Minister’s – Harper, Chrétien and Martin -, the Canadian Government has reduced personal income, corporate and consumption taxes. Yet none of those changes has solved the efficiency problem in our economy.

The truth is that real action is needed and we need to speak with a clear “voice”. The only voice any government seems to listen to is the one that comes from our vote. The Tories are not listening to the majority of Grain Farmers because they say that they have a majority. So ask your friends about their voice and help them raise it. Be clear and do not be afraid. Raise your political voice.

 

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