Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

What we can't live with

If you read just one post on the new Conservative budget, it shouldn't be this one, it should be Declan's. But presuming you're able to stand just one more take on it, read on.

As a general rule, I'm too much of a pragmatist to be wired for outrage. What this means is that when I watch a government making bad decisions, my first reaction is always: "okay, this is pretty appalling, but can we live with it?" Ralph Klein's trademark "prosperity cheques," in which the Alberta provincial government chose to give each Albertan, rich or poor, a cheque for $400, was a classic example. Sure, we all have to go on paying for our health care premiums ourselves, and severely handicapped people have to continue living in poverty, but it wasn't going to, say, destroy the world.

In this Conservative federal budget, there are a number of other examples of bad decisions we can live with. The GST cut is pure politics--and lousy economics--but it's not going to kill anyone. Aboriginal communities didn't get the Kelowna Accord, but they got more than they would have probably gotten had the Conservatives gotten a majority. We don't have enough of a surplus to seriously pay down the debt, but hey, maybe next budget.

Then we have the decision to cut the anti-global-warming programs by 80% and replace them with a tax deduction for public transit passes. First off, there's something pretty hypocritical about bringing forward a program that only works for urban lifestyles when you've spent the last umpteen months criticizing the Liberal and NDP child care programs for doing the same thing. But far more importantly than that, this is a decision we can't live with. If we don't act now to slow down global warming, it will have irreversible effects on our weather, on disease, and on our agriculture. And at this point we're not talking about the distant future, either--the effects are already being felt now and will only worsen in years to come.

Far more than anything else, this is the greatest threat facing Canada today. If Harper isn't going to take it seriously, how does he expect enough Canadians to take him seriously enough to give him a majority government?


wilson61 said...

Environment clean/air & water; will be in the next Big 5.

After they (next 5) come out, what will the left's talking points be?

LeoPetr said...

Considering what Harper's newspeak idea of "daycare program" has turned out to be, I fully expect any sort of "clean air initiative" of his to be a grotesque lying monstrosity. Pah.

Jen said...

(OT: plesae poke me about joining fair vote... or at least tell me that it's really easy and I should get off my lazy ass...)

Climate change starts at home... far be it from me to want to let the Conservatives get away with ignoring it, but I'm buying energy saving bulbs, hanging out my clothes instead of using the dryer, and trying to keep the people I live with from turning on the 200kW+ rows of halogen spotlighting too often (we're looking to replace them altogether, but that's easier said than done). Not to mention trying to buy more (and eventually 'mostly') local, seasonal produce, and refusing to jump in the car at the drop of a hat. I do have to agree with former PM PM that, when it comes down to it, we will only have ourselves to blame for detrimental climate change.

Oh, and to wilson61's comment above: when the Tories take a hard, effective line on climate change, I will already be growing bananas in the Rockies.

running42k said...

jen is correct, environmental change does indeed begin at home, (I ride a bike to work and have a manual push lawn mower to do my part) but government policy is still required to compliment those efforts. Corporations are not going to save the environment unless they are mandated or there is a buck to be made. Hence the need for government involvement.

Rumor said...

Just to add to what's been said above: we all need to be environmentally conscious at the individual level, but there is an essential role for government to regulate the environmental impact of industry. Just to use one example, the amount of freshwater used (and spoiled) in extracting oil from the sands in Northern Alberta makes any water usage on the part of individual Albertans utterly insignificant. So there's a role for us, and there's a role for the government, and we can hope both are followed.

I'm also somewhat worried that the Tory's are going to buy their way into a majority government on tax reductions and credits alone. I wonder if that will work...

Jen said...

running, rumor, definitely agree with what you say above, re: government legislation, especially for corporations - one last point, though, that if there isn't education on an individual/personal level, there will be cries of the kind that government doesn't know what's best for us. It is individuals, in the end, running corporations, and the more conscientious they are, the less whining and complaining they will do representing their corporate interests. (Well, in theory, at least.)