Ah Mr. Premier, although you’ve provided me with enough material to write a daily column lately, what with the extra few bucks that the new Vancouver Convention Centre will cost us (over 400 additional million, wasn’t it?) and your government’s refusal to even discuss raising the deplorable minimum wage in beautiful BC, my attention has been hijacked by the Prime Minister’s recent forays into previously uncharted, dark and murky regressive Conservative territory.
Gord, as a Liberal (smile), you must be as wide-eyed as I am as Canada’s New (Conservative) Government continues to do a slow striptease to reveal some of its seedier, more fundamental, antediluvian, bare bone proclivities. Although the Conservatives just dropped the GST another 1% - and this was appreciated - it is interesting to note that it was the Conservatives who initially brought us the GST on January 1,1991, Prime Minister Mulroney as I recall, was the man who gifted us with this tax. Kind of a take and give approach to taxation eh?
And Gord, would you believe, that a couple of days ago the Conservatives, via Minister Stockwell Day, proclaimed that Canada’s New Government would no longer be appealing the death penalty for Canadians who face said archaic judicial determination as a result of legal proceedings in other “democratic countries.” (Wonder how they define “democratic” – would Iraq count? How about Iran? China? Columbia?) Gord, this isn’t about someone breaking laws in another country and having to submit to that country’s judicial system. It’s about the leading role Canada has played in the world since 1976 in advocating for the abolition of the death penalty internationally. MP Dan McTeague hit the nail on the head when he said: "Canada is a democratic nation, and it has expressed itself democratically many times on the issue. Mr. Harper does not have the authority to proceed on this.” McTeague further stated that the Conservatives have not brought the policy change to parliament, nor moved a motion to abandon the country's stance discouraging Capital punishment. "Mr. Harper and Mr. Day are trying to accomplish indirectly that which they have no authority to do directly.” Perhaps Mr. Day and Mr. Harper might refer back to Gandhi’s statement that “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” Or perhaps, these two deeply philosophical Ministers might want to consider Albert Camus’ position that: “For centuries the death penalty, often accompanied by barbarous refinements, has been trying to hold crime in check; yet crime persists.”
In addition to the intriguing machinations happening on Parliament Hill, the toxicity in politics in general has captured my attention lately. I must admit Gord, I’m beginning to seriously consider that we have to find a better, more honest, efficient, and less bullying way to run our countries than the current version of power politics. Why just in the last couple of weeks, we’ve been regaled by reported incidents of political harassment, intimidation and persecution that boggle the mind. And along with this, the level of duplicity, double-talk and just out and out b.s. seems to have risen to lethal levels. For example, President Bush continues to threaten war with Iran because they might develop nuclear weapons (as opposed to the US that does have nuclear weapons); the war in Iraq continues even though there were no WMD’s; the US government will not allow Mahar Arar back in to the States nor will they apologize for their actions that directly resulted in him being tortured, but Secretary of State Rice did say that they would try to do better next time (???); the Harper government refuses to honour the Kyoto agreement regardless of the fact that Canada signed an international agreement; the previous Liberal government signed the Kyoto agreement but did nothing to achieve the goals and now they are ragging on the Conservative government; Canada emerges as the world’s sixth largest supplier of arms to other countries yet we see ourselves as peacekeepers; Canada has incredible capacity to develop new alternate sources of power (wind, solar, geo-thermal, etc) yet we continue to suck oil out of the Alberta tar sands and create an impending ecological disaster as a byproduct. I have to wonder, does it ever end?
Gord, is it any wonder with all these political horror stories that so much focus is on entertainment these days? I’ve read that the BC Lottery Corporation has decided to offer bigger and better prizes, up to $25,000, via their casino operations. This might include a day with a celebrity or a trip down a red carpet. It’s intriguing that a corporation like BC Lottery would spend even more money to discover new ways to seduce individuals with gambling addictions to play even harder. But after all, they do kick in a huge amount to your government’s coffers so I guess I can appreciate how dependent (addicted?) the government is on maintaining this level of payback. This reminds me of the booze and tobacco dollars that flow into the government treasury as well, not to mention the MSP payments that also end up in general revenues.
Well Mr. Premier, thanks for listening. If by luck I ever do win one of those super duper prizes from BC Lottery, would you by chance be one of those celebrities that I might get to spend a day with ? Now that would be something I’d really look forward to! Maybe we could take the ferry from Nanaimo and spend the day touring the new Convention Centre and have a wee chat along the way. (I’m hoping the cost of the ferry is covered by the prize winnings.)
I look forward to our next tÍte-à-tÍte.
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