Weighing in on the Federal Election
Well, that was an interesting election, wasn’t it? By now, all the pundits have pundicized on what the Tories did wrong and what the Liberals did right. For me it came down to a few simple things: Inspiring hope is better than peddling fear. Canadians want to be uplifted and inspired by their leaders. Engaging in wedge politics, low blows, negative campaigning and cheap shots (by any candidate from any party) is something that doesn’t belong in a Canadian election (particularly if it involves hair, youth or niqabs).
I thought political discourse had reached a low when a Tory candidate in Oakville claimed the Liberals would mandate legally protected brothels near marijuana dispensaries in residential neighbourhoods (lowering voters house prices). But when niqabs became an election issue and a snitch line was suggested to report “barbaric cultural practices,” I realized it had sunk even lower.
That’s why I respected Conrad Black’s pieces in the National Post, where he took strips off the Tories for everything from Bill C-51 (which he said would be “abused in a way profoundly offensive to Canadian traditions of respect for individual rights and the rule of law”) to mandatory minimum sentences. Building more prisons in response to declining crime rates was a “retrograde, total-immersion plunge into primitivism” he said. “Native people will be the chief occupants of the new prisons, which should be repurposed at once as assisted housing.” “The entire reactionary agenda,” he said, “is obnoxious to traditional Canadian respect for rights and due process.” And creating an election issue out of a woman wearing a niqab at a citizenship hearing was a “shabby act of desperation,” “pandering to knuckle-dragging authoritarians.”
The entertainer Ezra Levant has already mocked the new PM’s “infrastructure repairs” to 24 Sussex Drive, accusing the Liberals of “awaking their zombie army of lobbyists, schemers, scammers and everyone to get their share of the loot.” He forgets that prime ministers of all parties meet presidents, diplomats and even schoolchildren there, and
if 24 Sussex needs to be overhauled to prevent the roof from collapsing on a Christmas choir, then it should be fixed. Just like the rest of Canada’s infrastructure. (Besides, it’s not like Justin’s going to flip it.)
So here’s some free advice for the new PM. First, ignore Ezra Levant, but pay close attention to Conrad Black, who is a voice to be reckoned with and who believes the best method for Canada to be influential in the world, and to achieve the recognition Canadians aspire to for their country, is to become a successful laboratory for innovative legislation and social policy. Make it so, Justin.
Second, raise the GST/HST by 2%, but specifically dedicate at least 1% to cities and municipalities pro rata for targeted capital projects, such as homeless initiatives and infrastructure creation and repair. 1% of GST/HST is $7 billion. As most Canadians live in cities, future federal governments will eliminate this at their electoral (and eternal) peril.
Third, campaigning is easy but governing is hard. Governing involves difficult choices and tough compromises for the greater good. All MPs make sacrifices to be in public life, and have valuable contributions to make, so try to build bridges with the other parties and opposition MPs. Inviting Elizabeth May, Tom Mulcair and the interim Tory Leader to the UN Summit on Climate Change in Paris is not only good politics, its good governance.
Fourth, reinstate the long-form census, regulate guns, trust the scientists again and adequately fund programs for our veterans.
Fifth, somehow decriminalize marijuana, but allow the provinces to regulate it like liquor so they can tax the bejesus out of it.
Finally, (and it’s a selfish request), please put all-day classical music and jazz back on Radio 2.
The views expressed herein are strictly those of Tony Wilson and do not reflect the opinions of the Law Society of British Columbia, CBABC, or their respective members.