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My 2 Sense

What Canadians Really Want


November 11, 2009
What Canadians Really Want Have you ever noticed that politicians are always saying, "Here is what the Canadian people want" or, "The Canadian people believe this or that" or "Canadians expect this or that" or, "Canadians are the kind of people who are this way or that."

My belief is that most Canadian politicians have no idea what we want, and if they do, they don't really care. The Canadian people were loud and clear about the GST, they didn't want it, but they got it. They were clear again in expecting Jean Chrétien to get rid of it as he promised, and were let down. The Canadian people were furious with the 84 million dollar UIC overpayments and wanted the

money back. Paul Martin chose to keep the money. The Canadian people were adamant about not wanting a gun registry, and look at the fiasco.

Have you ever noticed that politicians are always saying, "Here is what the Canadian people want" or, "The Canadian people believe this or that" or "Canadians expect this or that" or, "Canadians are the kind of people who are this way or that way."

My belief is that most Canadian politicians have no idea what we want, and if they do, they don't really care. The Canadian people were loud and clear about the GST, they didn't want it, but they got it. They were clear again in expecting Jean Chrétien to get rid of it as he promised, and were let down. The Canadian people were furious with the 84 million dollar UIC overpayments and wanted the money back. Paul Martin chose to keep the money. The Canadian people were adamant about not wanting a gun registry, and look at the fiasco.

Democracy as a political and social system driven by the economic engine of capitalism is broken even as the communist political and social system driven by socialism was broken and eventually failed. My dear dad used to say, "Son, democracy isn't perfect, but it's the best system there is in the world." Well if it isn't perfect, then we should fix it.

I was amused at the glee with which Americans, and to some degree, Canadians enjoyed the fall of the Soviet Union and the communist system believing that democracy was triumphant. But, let's face it; democracy is NOT working. As Alexander Posner, the Russian talk show host, said on getting his American citizenship, "I was a card-carrying Marxist-Leninist, but the system failed the people. Now I am a die-hard capitalist and a proud American. The one question I ask, is, how good is a system which allows a basketball player to make $10 million a year, when there are 11 million homeless?" This is not rocket science. And yet nobody in power seems to understand this basic fact. The irony is, that both the U.S. and Canadian systems are 'for the people, of the people, by the people' in theory, but certainly not in actuality. America and invariably, Canada are heading for a fall, plain and simple.

In 1960, the GNP went up 10% a year, the cost of a house went up 10% a year, salaries and wages went up 10% a year and the cost of most consumer goods went up 10% a year. There was no huge national debt or deficit financing. There were no homeless people, visible poor or Food Banks. Unemployment was manageable. Canadians had the most money in savings accounts of the developed nations. There was no huge consumer credit card debt. The armed forces had good equipment and schools were not overcrowded. There were less police per capita who provided more services than they do today. University was relatively inexpensive to attend and the average family could afford tickets to sporting events. We didn't bargain every time we bought something because the price was inflated to accommodate 'dealing' and stores didn't have to have bars over the fronts to protect them at night. So, what the FUCK happened?

During the last election, I saw my MP, Stephen Owen glad handing in front of his campaign office in Vancouver. I told him if he answered one question to my satisfaction, I'd give him my vote. He said he'd be happy to oblige and I asked him the question above, "What the fuck happened?" And what did I get? A political answer; "you can't compare Canada now to Canada then. You must compare us to the other G8 nations now to judge how well we're doing." Buzz. Wrong answer. No vote for him. He then introduced his wife to me and I asked her if she was going to vote for him.

The fact is, back in 1960, 80% of government income tax was corporate, and 20% was personal. That is now reversed. Through various legislations, policies and rules, the rich HAVE gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer. We have seen the takeover of the country and the world by mega corporations to the detriment of the employees and the consumers of the products and services provided by those companies. In short, we have seen capitalism run rampant and in my view, become a threat to the stability of the nation. It is an historical fact that when the disparity between the rich and the poor becomes too great, the result is revolution. And who the hell wants that?

Sure, there were social-political issues that came along that maybe couldn't be accounted for. However, all the so-called experts in Ottawa should have been able to predict things like the effect of the baby boom generation and the aging of our infra-structure.

Government policies are responsible for where we are at today, and despite what Stephen Owen believes, or espouses, we CAN turn the clock back to a healthier economic model. It simply takes political will to battle the forces of the mega corporations and it takes an honest desire to SERVE THE PEOPLE.

It's obvious that you can't govern a country by referendum; however, in the 40 years since I voted the first time, I don't recall the public EVER being given the opportunity to vote on ANY national issue of the day. The Canadian flag, capital punishment, GST or anything else. The only time I have had the opportunity to vote on a referendum was a Vancouver civic issue; the new Cambie Street bridge, and later on the 2010 Olympics. Provincially, I voted on the Native Land Claims referendum, which was rigged to get a desired result.

The thing is, we were brought up to believe certain things and were taught to have certain values; by our parents, our teachers and spokespersons for our institutions. And guess what? Not much of it is true. We were raised to believe that hard work was rewarded, and yet we see millions of hard working people struggling to make ends meet. We were told that honesty pays, and yet we see dishonest politicians, union leaders and corporate CEOs taking advantage at every opportunity at the expense of their constituents, members and shareholders. We were told that there are consequences to our actions, so one must take responsibility for their acts. And yet we see, politicians, bureaucrats, police and individuals in all our institutions ducking and diving, spinning and winning, denying and lying when called to task for their actions.

Despite the promise of equality under the law in our demographic system, the fact is that there are two classes of citizens. Actually more like six. We have the politicians, the officials, the rich, the working poor, the homeless and the rest of us all with equal rights under the law as written, but different in reality. In the real world, politicians and the rich go to the head of the line when they need a hospital bed or medical care. Banks lend them money with less collateral than you or I, and forgive their debts when their investments go bad. If they run afoul of the law, the government will pay the legal expenses of the politicians, and the rich will buy their way out of trouble. The officials are the ones who can sign your passport. Your doctor, lawyer, teacher or police officer. Hell, my plumber has known me longer and better than my lawyer and is a hell of a lot more honest. Why can't HE vouch for me on my passport application. The homeless have nothing, no status, and are free of responsibility, ironically just like the rich, They are the visible victims of our system. The working poor and the rest of us, struggle along trying to live up to the values we were taught. The reality that we were told existed, behaving as honest, upright citizens, living by the rules actually means taking it up the ass in every which way.

I don't think Stephen Harpger could tell you the price of a pound of butter, and I don't think many other MPs could either. I don't think any of them understand what it means to wonder where your next meal is coming from or how to cope living on welfare. I don't think any of them have ever seen the inside of a jail cell, although God knows some of them should. I don't believe any of our politicians have served in our military, and therefore haven't a clue about what it means to really make a sacrifice. I don't think any politician understands the struggles of small businesses in the most over-regulated nation on earth. They are out of touch. And they don't care. They call themselves public servants, but they seem to only serve themselves, for money, power, status and ego.

The truth is, that in the last 40 years very little has changed. Our immigration policies and practices remain ridiculous, our law and justice systems continue to fail to reflect our current reality, our prisons and parole systems are a joke, and our foreign policy is haphazard.

The Canadian public is fed up with corrupt, self-serving politicians, deficit financing, high taxes, reduced social services, dishonest, money crazed national and international corporations, chicken shit judges, inefficient, crooked and stupid bureaucrats, short sighted non-representative unions and rampant organized crime.

The Bottom Line: Basically, we must restore honesty, responsibility and accountability in our country's institutions and those that run them; in government, business, unions and churches, so they reflect the same standards expected of its citizens. When the public sees that there is a level playing field, you'll see a happier and more prosperous and fair country where people believe that voting in our system actually means something.

Courtney Smith