Friday, December 09, 2005

Canadian Politics: The Election Campaign

Well, once more the Conservatives have managed to annoy the hell out of me.

I was watching Stephen Harper's latest ads, which are set up to look like a newscast interviewing him.

Actually, I should correct that. I have never been able to sit through one of his ads.

The thing is, I am not a conservative. I support gay marriage, I believe that Canada needs public not-for-profit health care, and a national day care program. Stephen Harper does not. I don't believe we need more tax cuts. Stephen Harper does.

Now, I have not been following this campaign as closely as some. I know who I'm going to vote for, and it isn't the Conservatives. But I did want to talk about child care beacuse my baby just entered day care and it is costing us $62 a day. $310 a week. Put that to a year and it is $15,500, assuming 50 weeks. Now, Stephen Harper wants to give me $1200 a year towards that child care and to give tax breaks to for-profit child care companies to encourage the growth of more spaces.

He calls this "having a choice."

What he carefully doesn't say is that the Liberals (albeit with some NDP prodding) are working towards a national child care strategy which will create more not-for-profit, regulated, cheaper spaces. The example we should all strive for is Quebec's, where provincial child care programs cost $7 a day. This is a rate which no privately run child care program can match, because it is subsidized by the people of the province.

Public daycare, properly run, with proper standards of health, safety and education, ensures that all the children of the country will have the opportunity to gain valuable skills, learn to get along with one another, and get a jump on their education, at a price that we can all manage.

Private child care subsidies mean that private child care companies will pocket the extra money and keep charging the same amount.

I'm not voting Conservative, I hope you aren't either.

Back to work.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

You'd better believe I'm not voting Conservative!

Erik Buchanan said...

Well, now there are at least two of us. :)

On the bright side, no one in Quebec (or, if that's where you are, no one else) is voting Conservative either, so if they do get in it will be as a short-lived minority.

James said...

I for one am voting conservative. After having supported the NDP for 17 years of my life, including membership and working during elections for them, I woke up to the reality of life, I have travel extensively throughout Canada and around the world in my job, I have talked to numerous people and have slowly come to realize that the socialist Canada we have can not work. Wake up guys and look at the reality of this world. My former company moved over 200 high paying jobs to Indonesia recently, they no longer do any business in Canada and they don't care to. Why? TAXES to pay for our social welfare system. As far as I know not one of those 200 people have got a better job, a full-time job (contract work is all the rage) and some are moving out of the country. Keep smiling guys and bury your heads in the socialist soil of Canada, but remember to cover your butts because reality is sure to come along and bite it.

Erik Buchanan said...

Welcome to the blog, James.

I have to disagree with your comment that it was taxes that moved the high-paying jobs overseas. Canada has one of the lowest corporate tax rates of the G8, and currently Mr. Martin is working on making it lower.

I would suggest that the reason those jobs got moved is for what you said they were: high paying. It would be interesting to compare not just the company's savings on taxes, but also on wages. My guess (and it is only a guess, I don't know the situation) is that you will find that the second is the higher of the two.

As for the social welfare state, we have to look at what things Indonesia is lacking. Do the majority of people there have access to medical care? How about clean water? How about regular food? Do the majority of children get to go to school, or only the children of the rich? Is the standard of living there higher or lower? These are all things that tax dollars, personal and corporate, go towards.

Yes, there are some costs to living in a social welfare state, but there are even greater costs to dismantling one. Look back to the abuses of the Industrial Revolution to see what will happen if we once more allow everything to be about the corporate financial bottom line.

Debbie said...

I have to agree with you, Erik. I think that the current Conservatives are dismal.

James, I understand your comment, however, a Conservative government wouldn't solve problems like that. Also, the Liberal and Conservative platform are not so different. So, I don't know what you expect the Conservatives to do that the Liberals have not done already or have plans to do.

This election is just an excercise anyway. I simply can't believe that Harper thinks he has a serious shot, unless he just never leaves Calgary Centre. Once they loose he must step down and that party has to re-evaluate their strategy.

Hey, for a little fun Maisonneuve Magazine (out of Montreal) has an election contest: www.maisonneuve.org. Click on the banner across the top. You precdict the amount of seats each party will get. You could win a prize.

Anonymous said...

It never ceases to amaze me when left leaning socialists feel that it is their entitlement to have Canadian taxpayers share in the financial responsibilities for the life choices they have made.

For a great number of us Canadians, having children usually means that we may have to make certain sacrifices. These sacrifices range from monetary to lifestyle to even putting careers and education on hold until the children enter schooling on a full time basis. We take full responsibility for the children we bring into this world and are proud that we do the best we can without depending on handouts from the already over burdened taxpayer.

I do support some form of public child care assistance but for only those that truly need it such as low income single parents who find themselves in their unfortunate situation through no fault of their own. This assistance should come in the form through the tax act, monthly or quarterly payments etc. The last thing this country needs is another big, fat and expensive bureaucracy as proposed by Paul Martins Liberals. As was the case with past boondoggles implemented by the current government, in the end it will provide little value for the people it was meant to serve.

Erik, I gather that you are married and that both you and your spouse work outside the home. Have you ever considered the idea that one of you may opt to stay home and provide the childcare to your own child ? Unless your child has special needs, there is no one better qualified than the childs parent to provide that early childhood development and care contrary to what the Liberals may say. After all, it has been going on for thousands of years and it is truly rewarding although it is a sacrifice.

I also find some of your comments hypocritical, in one statement you say that "I don't believe we need more tax cuts" and then in another you whine about how much money it is costing you for day care. Perhaps if Canadians elected governments that respected and properly managed their hard earned tax dollars we would not be taxed to the limit and we all could have more of our hard earned dollars in or own pockets. For people such as yourself that choose to have strangers and institutions provide your childs early development and care that extra tax money may go along way to ease your financial situation and you will have the added benefit of making your own choices of how it is spent.

You also indicated that you are not following this campaign as closely as some and I truly believe that with some of the statements that you have made. One in particular that is disturbing to me and should be to everyone else is the one that you think that we should all strive for the Quebec's model of child care programs. The province of Quebec's auditor recently announced that this years annual fiscal deficit is over 1 billion dollars. This 1+ billion dollars will be added to the other billions of dollars of accumulated debt for that province alone. No different than the Federal Government's 500+ billions of dollars of debt that successive governments have let mount since the time that Trudeau's Liberals were in power, taxpayers hard earned dollars are used to service the interest charges on those debts which in itself is billions. I doubt that when your child and thousands of other children get to be your age that these debts will all have magically disappeared. We and our parents have already sentenced our children to a life of economic burden.

It is time for our generation to stop being so self centered and selfish. If you truly love your children which I believe everyone that has them does, start paying attention to what is going on in the real world. What happens on the Hill in Ottawa may appear to be theatre or a Survivor series (for those of you that are entertained by that sort of stuff) but it is not. Those people are making real decisions that can have impacts for a very long time in this country. Whether you are politically left or right leaning or somewhere in the middle, try to see past all of the rhetoric and try to understand what the true issues are. Don't be afraid to make some sacrifices.

I am conservative in nature. I support gay marriage but I also support democrocy and free vote. I also believe in a public not-for-profit health care program but one that works for the people it was intended to serve, not the bureaucrats, or the hospital CEO's or armies of administrators, facilitators and coordinators. I believe that people should be responsible for their own actions and their own lives. I believe in the sayings that charity starts at home and that we should cleanup our own backyard before sticking our noses in others. I am always willing to give a helping hand up for those that are truly in need but that choice should be mine. I believe in personal freedom and freedom of choice and I do not want the state to control every aspect of my life. I believe that all members of our society should respect our common laws, respect each other and that we should never have to live in fear. I believe those that break the law should be held accountable and punished accordingly.

I have not decided who I will vote for yet, but it will certainly not be the Liberals and in my opinion anyone that does, supports corruption, waste and mismanagement as well as dishonesty. In the last 12 years, the Liberals have shown us on many occasions who they really are and where their true interests lay and it is certainly not with the future and people of Canada. I for one will not turn the other cheek.

Al in Ottawa

Anonymous said...

izz bean a vot'n for tha librals al my lif cuz theys them promises me tax moneys that iz can spend on beer an poppy corn ahm for dat child careing center cuz they can bath mary sue and fedz her fur for freee shez hadnt had a bath fur a year
iz a liken the way that the prim minster standes up to that meanz ol' gorge bush iz dont like duh fact dat tha u.s is candaz #1 tradn partner iz thinks wez shold get more clos in tradn wit dem north koren peoples cuz canda shold be mor lik dem folk. der government dos everythin fur ther peple , even cuts off der hands when dayz wanna wack da willy

ur pal cletus keptvill ontariario

Erik Buchanan said...

"ur pal cletus keptvill ontariario"

Ladies and Gentlemen: Mike Harris's cuts to educational funding at work.

Erik Buchanan said...

Some good points, Debbie, welcome.

Erik Buchanan said...

Hi Al in Ottawa. Welcome.

I noticed you took great pains in your comment to claim that I, as a left-leaning socialist, was neither a Canadian nor a taxpayer. Wrong on both counts.

So, as a Canadian taxpayer who does not feel that we are overburdened, I believe that putting the 4 billion dollar surplus that we had last year into a national child care program that could ensure every child in Canada a good start is a lot less "selfish and self-centred" and wishing for more money in my own pockets.

And yes, Al, my wife and I did examine our choices. We did consider one of us staying home and this is what we found:

First: studies have shown that children who take part in early childhood education tend to be more independent, more intellectually and physically advanced, and better able to form relationships than those who stayed at home. To give our child the best start, we needed to give her that, and that requires two salaries.

(By the way, my parents both worked in family services at one time, and I can assure you that many times the parent is the person least qualified to provide early childhood education)

Second: if one of us stops working, the loss in income will mean we will spend the next five years (at least) living in our downtown two bedroom apartment, rather than being able to buy a house with a yard our child can play in and room for her grandparents to come visit.

Third: if one of us stops working, the loss in income will mean we will only be able to put half as much towards our child's RESP, limiting her choices for higher education.

So we made our sacrifices. My career (writer) has taken a back burner in favour of taking a job (administrator) that will help pay for that daycare, that house and Maggie's education. We will be moving away from Toronto, leaving behind our friends, our networks, and our chosen careers to go to a community where we can afford those things we want for our child.

By the way, the phrase "make your own choices" is part of Mr. Harper's anti-child care campaign. Right now there are choices for those with money, not for anyone else. Anyone with money can choose private daycare, public daycare, or to stay at home with their kids. Those without money can only choose to stay at home with their kids, thereby making themselves even less financially able, putting more strain on the system, and giving their children an even greater disadvantage at the start of their lives.

By creating a national, affordable public daycare we create another option; one that will allow those who are not high-income to see their kids properly nurtured in a safe, caring environment while they work to better themselves and their situation.

By giving us $1200 a year, Mr. Harper will not even be giving those in Toronto enough to pay for 2 days of child care a month.

There is much more we could discuss, Al, but it's not like we're going to agree on anything, and it's very late and I have a meeting tomorrow morning.

Good luck choosing someone to vote for. I, of course, suggest the NDP or the Green Party.

Erik Buchanan said...

And thanks to the Progressive Traditionalist, who has a link to this blog in the Mixed Bag on the progressive populist website.

See you at the Green Knight, PT!

Anonymous said...

Hi Erik,

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my comments. Even though it is obvious that you are unwilling to consider any other points of view unless it involves bashing Mr. Harper and the Conservative Party, I would still like to retort some of your latest comments.

Firstly, I never indicated that you were not a Canadian and not a taxpayer and I apologise if I some how conveyed that message as it was not my intention.

Secondly, I do not think you understood what I was trying to say about taxpayer funded national child care programs so let me be more blunt. It is your right to have children and it was your decision, not mine or anyone elses that you went and did so. I am happy for you as I am also blessed by being a parent. However, why should I be financially burdened via the tax system because of your choice of wanting your child's early development to be achieved by use of an institution ? I can sympathize with your current situation (2 bedroom apartment, relocating to a location that is more affordable to you etc, been there, done that) as well as your desire to get ahead in life, I think that most of us have similar desires, but how does the position that you have put yourself into become my responsibility and that of other taxpayers ?.

Thirdly, If you feel that institutionalizing your child will be better for your child, that again is your choice and only time will tell. However to quote some self serving BS study that institutionalized early childhood education produces better quality human beings in general is not only offensive and insulting to me and my wife who did choose to stay home with our child (An extremely popular Honor student by the way), but to millions of other Canadians who also made the same choice. Based on your logic and beliefs, there must have been some type of divine intervention in play for the human race to have survived until the formation of the Canadian Liberal and NDP parties. After all without the benefit of institutionalized child care most of us until now were and are intellectually and physically inferior, dependant on something, not sure what though and incapable of forming and maintaining society or so says the studies.

We do agree on at least one thing, I do use the words choice, choices and choose alot. That is because I believe in freedom and self determination. Contrary to your early childhood study (my mom was a stay at home mom)I am independent and able to make independent decisions.

I have independently decided to support Mr. Harpers Conservative Party. Although I don't much care for some of the planks in his platforms (the $1200 and the $500 rebate for childhood sports expenses for example)his party seems to be the only viable party that is willing to "STAND UP for CANADA". The two other major parties only offer dictatorship, financial ruin and ultimate destruction of this great country.

P.S

Hang in there Cletus, perhaps help will be on the way. Oh yeah, just a couple of other points, during the Mike Harris mandate, the Liberal Finance Minister, Paul Martin slashed tens of billions of dollars in transfer payments to the provinces for health and education. The provincial Premiers including our illustrious Liberal Ontario Premier, Mr. Promise er Broken Promise, Dalton McGuinty refers to this as the fiscal imbalance. Mr. Harris also inherited hundreds of millions of dollars of deficit and hundreds of millions of dollars in added debt load from then NDP Premier Bob Ray who I will paraphrase one of his more enlightened lines when he was Premier - "we will spend our way out of the recession".

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and the best of luck.

Al from Ottawa

Erik Buchanan said...

Hi Al,

Of course you're voting Conservative. As a conservative-minded individual who is ticked at the Martin Liberals, who else would you vote for?

Now, to reply to your points:

I never indicated that you were not a Canadian and not a taxpayer

Language is an interesting thing, Al. For example, in your comment you used the following phrases:

...when left leaning socialists feel that it is their entitlement to have Canadian taxpayers...

and

For a great number of us Canadians...

Both of these statements imply a seperateness. The first indicates that left-leaning socialists are not Canadian taxpayers. The second uses "us Canadians" which indicates that I am not one of you (a Canadian). To improve these comments the first should have read: "...that all Canadian taxpayers..." and the second "For a great number of Canadians..." This way you are being inclusive of all Canadians while still making your points.

...why should I be financially burdened via the tax system because of your choice of wanting your child's early development to be achieved by use of an institution?

Not just you, Al. I believe that I and the other millions of Canadian tax payers should be (and I hope will be) burdened via the tax system for the early childhood education of my child, and of other children at my child's daycare, and of other children long after my child is no longer in daycare. Increasing the number of available, affordable daycare spaces increases the opportunities for all of our children and for their parents. You said "I believe in the sayings that charity starts at home..." Well, my home is Canada. It doesn't end at the front door of my apartment. The other kids out there are going to be the ones that my kid plays with; they are going to be the ones that my kid works with; and they are going to be the ones that my kid dates and one of them may be the one my kid marries. Should each of them be given less of a chance because you feel the only kid you should be helping is yours?

By the way, the Liberals are currently offering to put $1 billion a year for five years towards this program. They are not talking about a tax increase to do this. The annual net income tax revenue for Canada (based on the 2002 Revenue Canada Audited Statement) is $158 Billion. This means that 0.6% of federal income tax revenue will go towards it which means that, unless you are earning over $72,756 the amount of your personal income tax going towards this program would not be enough to buy you and your wife a week's worth of groceries (based on 2006 federal tax rates).

...to quote some self-serving BS study...

How do you know the studies are BS? Have you read them? How do you know they are self-serving? Do you know who commissioned them? The answer, since you don't know which studies I am referring to, is obviously no in both cases. Don't toss words about if you don't have the evidence to back them up.

...that institutionalized early childhood education produces better quality human beings in general...

Not what I said. I said, "..tend to be..." and the studies refers specifically to their peer group, not to what they my become years later (congrats on your kid being an honour student, by the way).

...not only offensive and insulting to me and my wife...

Insulting? Let's review:

...having children usually means that we may have to make certain sacrifices.

Implying that I and my wife are not willing to make sacrifices for our child.

We take full responsibility for the children we bring into this world...

Implying that I and my wife do not take responsibility for our actions.

Have you ever considered the idea that one of you may opt to stay home and provide the childcare to your own child?

Directly saying that I and my wife didn't bother to look at options because we are selfish people.

It is time for our generation to stop being so self centered and selfish...

Implying that because you think of yourself as self-centred and selfish, everyone else (including me and my wife, who may not even be of your generation) must be, too.

And we already talked about the Canadian tax-payer thing.

I nearly deleted your comment out of hand because it was insulting to myself and my wife, neither of whom you have met, neither of whom you know anything about. I chose to answer it instead because I believed my position to be a defensible one, and I chose to do so without stooping to the implied slander that was rampant throughout your comment.

I am a professional writer, Al. If I wanted to insult you, you would have known about it.

And by the way, unless your child was actually one of the ones examined, the statements in the study can only show you general trends, not specific information about your child.

...but to millions of other Canadians who also made the same choice...

And since you've spoken to them personally, you are qualified to make that statement? Didn't think so. See the point above.

Based on your logic and beliefs... or so says the studies.

Not bothering to quote the rest of the paragraph, since it is an example of generalization, hyperbole, bad logic, and an attempt to use emotional response to cloud fact. See what I said under ...to quote some self-serving BS study... and ...that institutionalized early childhood education produces better quality human beings in general... for your answer.


Oh yeah, a couple of other things....

...Paul Martin slashed tens of billions of dollars in transfer payments to the provinces for health and education...

Actually, first the federal government changed the transfer payments to one lump sum, then he slashed those lump sums. It was left to the provinces to decide where to cut. Mr. Harris chose health care and education, and the fact that no hospitals or schools closed in the areas of Toronto that voted Conservative was purely coincidence I'm sure.

...Mr. Harris also inherited hundreds of millions of dollars of deficit and hundreds of millions of dollars in added debt load from then NDP Premier Bob Ray...

And after gutting our schools, hospitals and civil services, Mr. Harris then proceeded to cut taxes so low that we ended up with an even bigger deficit and debt, rather than using the money to pay down debts from previous governments.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, too, Al.

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