Tuesday, April 19, 2011


We're heading into the home stretch of the current federal election campaign and, I must say, I am quite underwhelmed by the content and quality of the "debate" that is not happening. As most of you know by now, I have tendencies to support the Liberals over the other parties. So, with that knowledge, you would be forgiven for assuming that I have nothing but criticism, even contempt, for the Conservative campaign so far. And you'd be right! But the offerings of the other parties haven't left me eager to embrace their campaigns either. Both Liberal and NDP seem quite content to get down in the gutter with the Conservatives and sling mud and call Stephen Harper names and warn us of the dire consequences of voting for him. Don't get me wrong, I think Harper is a bad Prime Minister: anyone who is formally held in contempt of Parliament doesn't deserve anyone's vote. But Jack Layton's puppet shows are not even entertaining, and Michael Ignatieff's own scare campaign make me almost ashamed to be liberal, and risks having me so ticked off that I might just consider not voting.
It is a phony campaign, and it treats all Canadian voters as though we are scared children, or a collection of village idiots. At some point, I would love to ask the parties a series of 5 questions on things I'd like to hear them speak to. (Why 5 you might ask? Well, it's a good number for our Prime Minister, so why not?)

1) Why haven't aboriginal issues been addressed? We have approximately 2 million aboriginal citizens in Canada. Many of them live in poverty that rivals third world countries. Few have the means to join in the educational and employment sectors that are wide open to other Canadians. Land claims and treaty obligations have been ignored for generations. When will the federal government start taking these issues seriously? I have suggestions, of course, but I would love to just hear what the parties would do for these people.

2) What, exactly, is our foreign policy? If we don't have one, what would the parties do to implement one? We seem to be eager to join in multinational efforts to intervene in world conflicts without clearly stated goals. What, exactly, are we going to do in Afghanistan when our combat mission ends this year? When do our troops come home? What is our strategy in Libya? If we are willing to get involved in Libya, why not in Yemen, the Ivory Coast, Darfur, the Congo, Syria, or North Korea ? Surely those countries deserve as much support in striving for democracy as Libya does. Or, if they do not, then why choose Libya to make our stand in promoting democracy in the world?

3) What will the parties do for our larger cities? We get mumblings every once in a while, but nothing concrete from any of the leaders. Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and other large cities have responsibilities in maintaining infrastructure, transit, health care, police, social services, yet do not have sufficient ability to raise the revenues needed to meet these responsibilities. The federal and provincial governments are fond of downloading responsibilities on municipalities, but dole out money with eye droppers. Is this what our senior governments want? Most Canadians live in cities, so the parties must start paying attention to them.

4) What are the parties saying about land use, food production, and the water supply? I haven't heard a peep about this, yet I constantly see woodlands and farm land taken over for new residential or commercial development. I see subdivisions, golf courses, malls and farms encroach on water systems we need for our very survival. I see trash, litter, and piles of fill surround our towns. Land is being wasted, yet Canada is rapidly becoming an importer of food, when we used to be one of the world's great agricultural nations. Do the parties want this to continue?

5) Do the parties have reasonable policies on science and technology and innovation? Canada used to lead the world in several technologies: nuclear technology comes to mind. Nuclear is now frowned upon ( probably rightly so, given what is happening in Japan ), but are there other technologies we are involved in? And, if so, what are the consequences of being involved in these? I have recently become interested in the move to create true artificial intelligence: to my knowledge, no country on earth has tackled the philosophical and ethical implications of this headlong rush to create AI. While the research and development in this field will not be stopped, surely a discussion is needed as to how we SHOULD proceed in this field. Or are the parties blissfully ignorant ,and do they wish to keep us that way too?

I could go on, but Mr. Harper probably wouldn't let me. So, I'll stop at 5.