Maybe it is because the prairies are still wide open and pristine that Western Canadians would rather vote for Harper than Dion or Layton. Or maybe it’s because Harper, as savage as his world view is, hasn’t been tainted by corruption. I don’t know Dion well enough to know whether I trust him but I do like his platform so far. Tax the crap out of energy gluttons and give those of us riding bikes and buses a tax break.
Harper says that now is no time to be taking risks with the economy but, if we include depreciation of the environment in our accounting of the economy (and how can we not?), Harper’s platform is far more risky. Furthermore, his willingness to sacrifice quality of life and Canadian culture can be viewed as depreciation in the economy — if we view the economy as more than the sum of money spent.
Indicators like Gross National Product are certainly no measurement of the quality or security of our lives. For instance, if we want the GNP to go up, we should hope for natural disaster and war because the costs associated with all that misery actually increase the GNP. So we should not pay attention to those indicators as much as we should watch the other ones — the ones that actually measure how well Canadians are doing.
I want to know how many Canadians have jobs with benefits, how many are losing their homes, how many are being treated for addictions. I want to know about homeless rates, divorce rates, suicide rates, and how long we have to wait for MRIs. I want to know how many books are being published, how many theatre productions and concerts I can go to. I want to know how many people each recreation centre is expected to serve. I want to know that we’re secure in our food supply, that we can heat our homes this winter, and that the families of soldiers serving in Afghanistan aren’t depending on the food bank.
I want to know if the balance sheet on the environment is surplus or deficit. Is air cleaner? Is energy consumption going down? How much land is protected or exploited? How is the polar bear population doing? How many farms have adopted environmental stewardship programs?
I really want to know how many Canadian children are living in poverty.
I really don’t give a crap about the GNP. I actually don’t believe that cutting taxes does stimulate the economy or create jobs. Governments take credit when people have jobs and they blame mystical, magical forces that they cannot control when unemployment goes up. When times are tough, government has to step up and help people through the tough times — knowing that you’re not going to lose your home or be denied health care or education is what creates confidence in a society, not the fake promise of endless growth. Perennial economic growth is a death sentence for the planet, is not sustainable, and everybody knows it.
I am not going to get fooled into voting for Harper by a bunch of pseudo-economic mumbo jumbo. Economists are just theorists and I have no confidence in their theories. I am going to ask the other candidates for their plans to impact real quality of life and real sustainability for Canadians.
– Eleanor Claire