Earlier this week, I came across a post on Facebook that intrigued me. It was written by a guy named J.D.M. Stewart. I had no idea who he is, but he was ‘liked’ by my friend Roy MacGregor, so I decided to google him. It turns out that J.D.M. Stewart, like MacGregor, is an author and a journalist. He is an expert on Canadian Prime Ministers and has written a book called, Being Prime Minister. He has also written in a number of national newspapers. Here is what he said about the current election cycle we are in.
“I don’t know that I remember an election with so many promises, and quite frankly, a lot of them bullshit. Just promise me to balance a budget, address climate change, help the well less off in society and don’t be an egotistical jerk while in office, and I might vote for your Party.”
BINGO! I could not have said it better myself. Governments are not intended to be Santa Claus. They cannot be and should not be, all things to all people. They exist, at least they should exist, to manage our financial and natural resources, protect our infrastructure, keep us safe, look after those who cannot look after themselves and provide support for the elderly and for families who are struggling to get ahead and want desperately to make a contribution in an increasingly turbulent society. That’s pretty much it. Otherwise, Government should stay out of our lives, especially our bedrooms and as much as possible, out of our pocket- books.
So, let’s look at a couple of those things and start with a balanced budget. The Federal Government spends a staggering amount of money, our money, just paying interest on its debt. And yet the current government just keeps giving money away.
In his first three months as Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau made $4.2 billion in financial commitments to be spent outside of Canada. Skipping to the last three months of this term of office, his Government has made spending promises to Canadians exceeding $10 billion. And to put icing on the cake, Mr. Trudeau announced just this week, that a future Liberal Government, using taxpayer’s money, would provide $2000 in travel bursaries to send Canadians camping, a move that national journalist John Ivason, said, “might be the stupidest thing I’ve heard so far in this election”.
All of this, with a deficit much higher than the Liberals promised, adding to a growing national debt of almost $700 billion, a debt, that will unchecked, eventually see our economy collapse and beat climate change to the punch, when it comes to choking future generations to death. It’s that important, and in spite of the short-term pain, any political party that does not have a plan to move quickly to a balanced budget, should not be elected.
I also believe that any government we elect should have an effective plan to deal with climate change and the pollution of our environment. The key word here is ‘effective’. To date, I haven’t really seen any political party that has a tough strategy that deals with the reality of our economy and the related need to protect our environment.
Climate change is real, and it is not new. The hard truth, is that climate change is inevitable. It started when the world began, long before humans were here, and it will continue until the world ends. We cannot stop it, but we can slow it down and over time, we can adapt to the changes we cannot stop.
Some will argue that the carbon tax is an effective way to fight climate change. I wonder about that. I question the carbon tax, not because I don’t take climate change and pollution control seriously, but because I do. I have seen no real evidence of the effectiveness of a carbon tax and I wonder why half the Provinces in Canada are against it?
The carbon tax has been in effect for industry, for nine months and for individuals since April. Why, especially in an election period, have we not seen any empirical evidence that our carbon footprint has been reduced by one iota? My fear is that the carbon tax is more of a smoke screen, to give the appearance of fighting for our environment, without having to face some of the really hard decisions that would actually protect it.
So, what might some of these be? Plastics are a good example. They are a terrible pollutant. There has been talk about dealing with them, but no concrete, time- limited, plan for legislation that would seek biodegradable alternatives and ban plastic for any domestic use.
Instead of taxing people to protect the environment, when we don’t know where the money really goes, we should fine the abusers, and I mean really fine them like they do in a number of countries. In Singapore, you go to jail for spitting on the sidewalk. I’m not sure we should go that far, but we should have heavy fines, heavy enough to make people think twice before they foul up our environment in any way. The same goes for the industrial world. Set reasonable carbon and pollution levels, insist on the latest technology to minimize emissions and then fine the crap out of those that do not comply.
We also have to do more than just talk about how important protecting our environment is to future generations. We have to convince them, at least those that are here now, to come to the party. I watched the youth “climate change strike” around the world this week and was actually at the one in Huntsville. They were impressive and I am sure most of them were sincere. Activism is one thing, and I know it is important. But actual action is even more so.
I noticed countless iPhones at the youth rally in Huntsville. How about challenging everyone, including our young generations, to cut the use of their electronic devices, most especially cell phones, in half. That would substantially reduce the amount of beryllium, tantalum, arsenic and copper, all toxins, leaking into our environment. And maybe, a few times a week, bring a sandwich to school instead of frequenting the fast-food joints. And if you live a few miles or so from school, try walking. That would be good both for you and the environment. Don’t just blame the old farts. Take some responsibility yourselves.
Balancing a federal budget is hard. Effective control of our environment is tough. Changing our personal habits, no matter our age, can be a pain in the butt. But is it a necessary price to pay, in this time of an unprecedented quality of life?
You bet your booties it is.
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