Too much of the time, election-minded editorials denounce what we see as failings in our political leaders. Only rarely do we editorialists express what we’d like to see our leaders striving for. This is one attempt to right the balance.
Job #1 – Imagine a federal government that actually treats Canadians with respect. By respect, I mean as adults fully capable of understanding the issues they face. That means being truly open and transparent with the information the government uses to make decisions that affect us all. In fact, it would be nice if those in government acted as self-respecting adults rather than a gang of sniggering playground bullies. Instead, the last decade has witnessed the development of a secrecy-obsessed government that attacks the weak and sucks up to the strong. The damage to our democracy has been immense.
Job #2 – Imagine a federal government that tried to bring people together, instead of dividing them. Wouldn’t it be nice to see leadership that respected our differences, diverse communities and lifestyles instead of using the variety of humankind as a weapon to fire up people with hate in their hearts? This country is devolving into a bunker mentality, with people judging others on their appearance or background, all with the rabid encouragement of the Harper Conservatives. A huge job for the next government will be to undo this damage and help Canada evolve into a country of tolerance, acceptance and solidarity.
Job #3 – Imagine a federal government that saw the development of people, rather than foreign profits, as a priority. The vast majority of our non-renewable resource wealth flows straight out of Canada – into the pockets of multinationals, tax havens or into the bank accounts of the People’s Republic of China. Only in underdeveloped Third World countries do we see these levels of economic giveaways. We need a made-in-Canada resource policy that keeps much more of this wealth in Canada, for the benefit of Canadians. As much of that wealth comes from First Nations territory, the social and economic benefits of their ancestral lands should at least be seen as a tool to bring standards of living and services in Native communities up to the national levels.
Job #4 – Imagine a federal government that did not see the environment or those who wish to preserve it as enemies. A priority for the next occupant of 24 Sussex Drive must be to re-establish protection for our waterways across the country – something disastrously eliminated by the Conservatives. We finally need to accept that climate change is a clear and present danger, and start pulling our weight as a nation-state. The natural splendour of Canada is one thing that truly sets us apart from the rest of the world, but we too often act like entitled kids in a candy store than as wise stewards of an incredible, yet fragile, land.
Job #5 – Reclaim an international place of pride among the community of nations. Canada’s reputation has suffered terribly over the past decade. We have become an international pariah, seen as a belligerent rogue state that takes sides in international conflicts based on low – and local – political calculations rather than the principles that we used to espouse and fight for. This job will be long. Convincing the world that we are not war-mongering, treaty-busting racists will take concrete action and perseverance. We’ve never been perfect, but our contributions to the world community were, in the past, admired. We can regain that reputation.
All of these jobs can only be achieved by voting for a new government. Please vote on October 19.