|It is not unusual to have people stop paying attention to me when I start talking about Canadian politics unless I am buying beer. Actually, according to voter statistics, almost half of Canadians have no interest in the political process at all, beer or no beer, so that means many of you have already stopped reading.
Those that are still reading, however, and those that will actually take part in the electoral process have the potential to decide who will become prime minister on June 28 in an unprecedented way.
Given that the Prime Ministers brain trust or those in the Prime Ministers Office whom I like to call the PMOers have pretty well managed to upset people in all of the traditional strongholds of a Liberal government, as well as in areas such as Alberta, when the polls close in Ontario the voters in western Canada may just hold the outcome of the election in their hands.
What this means is that the half of you who will vote and the half of you who wont have a good reason to steer the agenda of the election and the party who wants your vote. What you must not do is walk away from the process. Turn and engage the political process like you have never done before.
The status quo is not an option, nor should it be part of any election conversation. The status quo is why more than 50 per cent of Canadians, and more than 80 per cent of Canadians under age 30, do not vote, do not want to vote, and will not vote unless there are fundamental changes to our political system and those who want to be our political leaders.
Last year at a Stampede breakfast, Paul Martin spoke of the greatness that awaits Canada and Canadians. There has been much talk about changing the way the federal government operates. Now it is time for the prime minister and his cabinet, whoever that ends up to be, to put actions to those words.
Canadas leaders must have a bold new vision of Canada, one that looks past the horizon, brings Canadians back into the political and democratic processes that affect their lives, and ends the very real alienation western Canadians experience when dealing with the federal government. The prime minister must resist the typical Reform-Alliance-Conservative policy of using the rearview mirror to steer the country into the future.
Jon Lord, MLA for Calgary-Currie says the federal election should be about ethics, integrity, tolerance, social capital, economic opportunity for all, innovation, infrastructure, social inclusiveness, individual liberty, and peace, order and good government. Instead he thinks it will probably be about anger, jealousy, negativity, western separation, gun control, scandal, accusations, misrepresentation, money, opportunism, argument, pandering and the ends justifying the means.
We should demand that our politicians start talking about the possible. Here are a few suggestions:
Canada will find a cure to the major cancers in the next 10 years, as well as a cure for and prevention of AIDS/HIV worldwide.
Canada will rebuild its international spot on the world stage with a modern military designed to take advantage of the unique set of abilities it has acquired in global conflict areas, and be ready to go whenever people need peace, health and protection from war.
Create a secure perimeter around Canada, but also maintain Canada as a place of last resort for many fleeing oppression and death. Make Canada an independent country that can work on world issues with independence and trust, much like Switzerland does, without tying its sled to the U.S.s tired team of horses.
Every Canadian child will have access to the high-speed Internet before the end of this decade, with proper computers, programs and electronic infrastructure.
Canada can feed the hungry, with food from the land and sea, without changing the delicate balance that exists between a healthy environment and a dead earth.
Canada will become the place in the world that attracts creative and innovative researchers in high technology with the freedom to pursue their ideas for new products for the betterment of the world.
Create duty-free zones in the country at the major import gateways where businesses can import, process and export value-added products that incorporate Canadian raw resources. A good example of this is our softwood, beef and steel. Its been reported by Statistics Canada that Canadian wood exports are at record levels thanks to the United States home-building industry. So why should we change our forest management systems to suit a foreign government? Stop relying on the American market, and start looking to the world as a market.
Create a government that is fully accessible by Canadians through E-Government, E-Democracy and E-Literacy, and make it an example and centre of excellence to export to the rest of the world.
Go to the bottom of the oceans, not Mars, and set up operations to clean up the oceans and rebuild some of the manmade dead zones in the seas. Leave Mars to the U.S.A.
Create a Canada that will not turn its back on any Canadian citizen anywhere in the world for any reason. Make a country that Canadians are proud of, with Canadian values and that elusive Canadian identity, so that Canadians travelling the world carry one passport.
Create an atmosphere for those working in the government and their associated agencies that they are working for the people of Canada, and serve at the pleasure of the voter.
Create policy changes to national building codes and mortgage and insurance rules that will allow for basement suites to be more easily built in homes. It is one way of helping with the affordable housing crisis in Canada and it will not cost one dollar.
Are the above bold and daring? Yes.
We need a prime minister that has not hung his political hat on the building of walls around Alberta, or Canada, but someone who has the vision and courage to steer a bold and new course for Canada into the future, and not while holding the hand of the U.S.A. We need a future that is created and determined by Canadians for Canadians.