Peter Julian: Stephen Harper doesn’t want you to vote

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      If you’re poor, young, disadvantaged, or progressive, Stephen Harper doesn’t want you to vote.

      In the maelstrom of Big Corporate Media coverage on the 2011 federal election one key element is missing: the impact of 20 years of right-wing trade and economic policies from first the Liberals and now the Conservative party.

      These policies have left most Canadians poorer. Family income has declined in real terms for the middle-class and the decline has been even greater for the poorest of Canadians—younger Canadians, those with less education, people with disabilities, and aboriginal people. As family income declines, most Canadian families have landed in a debt crisis. The debt-load of the average Canadian family is now double what it was 20 years ago.

      During this same period, the wealthiest Canadians have seen their incomes skyrocket. The economy has been turned backwards and income inequality is now where it was during the 1920s. In what can only be described as a stunning reversal of Canadian values, we have regressed back to 90 years ago—back to the painful days of profound income inequality that marked the period prior to the Great Depression. Back then, this inequality was finally reduced by strong pressure from the CCF (the NDP’s predecessor party) and its backers. Thanks to the NDP’s predecessor, greater income equality led to the most prosperous economic period in Canada’s history.

      This effort for more economic equality came from real pressure from citizens. Political and activist involvement was at an all-time high and that made a fundamental difference. There was also a greater diversity of views in Big Media at that time. In one case, one big chain daily newspaper was even so balanced that it endorsed the NDP!

      In response, Stephen Harper and his predecessors worked to ensure that citizen participation—particularly among the most disadvantaged groups—was reduced to much less than that of more privileged Canadians. Perfected in the United States by the Republican Party, the strategy uses attack ads and right-wing shock jocks slinging mud to make politics mean-spirited and nasty and turn off younger voters and those looking for real solutions to their problems. This cynical strategy clouds and obscures fundamental issues that should be discussed, such as increasing economic inequality, social justice, and environmental stewardship.

      It is that obscuring of real issues that has allowed the Harper Conservative government to waste vast sums of Canada’s collective resources on Conservative pet projects such as mega-corporate tax cuts ($60 billion), F-35 jet fighters ($30 billion), and new prisons ($10 billion). These vast sums are thrown away with little public benefit and a terrifically high cost. While Harper’s corporate friends and insiders get rich, our society suffers from high rates of homelessness, record levels of student debt, a record number of seniors, aboriginal people, and Canadians with disabilities living in poverty, a deteriorating health care system and public infrastructure, and a declining environment.

      So, how do we get Canada’s prosperity and equality back? All of us, as activists and concerned citizens, must re-engage in the political system. We must stop the take-over of our public policy and public decisions in the interests of the few at the expense of the many. That means exposing the lie that all politicians and all political parties are the same. They’re not. No political party is perfect. But the Canada’s New Democrats are made up of strong activists for social justice, economic equality, and sound environmental stewardship.

      As a proud New Democrat, I ask you to surprise Stephen Harper by doing what he doesn’t want you to do: vote. Canada will be the better for it.

      Peter Julian is the NDP candidate for Burnaby-New Westminster.

      Comments

      22 Comments

      TheMan

      Apr 8, 2011 at 10:26pm

      Hey Mr. Julian, I'm a conservative who agrees with you on one issue, no political party is perfect. You're entire article, from my point of view, is left wing whining.

      However, I will criticize all political parties for the same reason....
      You're all talking about problem solving by throwing around a billion dollars here or there, but what about the issue of rising gas and food prices? Not one political party is even mentioning this, and this issue will eat Canada alive.

      From the right, tax cuts are not the answer, and from the left, income redistribution is not the answer. Come up with some solutions for the right reasons instead of smearing your way through an election so you can get a fat pension. Arguing about fighter jets isn't going to make it easier to run a small business or help me feed my family.

      You're probably too busy to read this anyways. And you won't care since I mentioned I'm a conservative.

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      mavis

      Apr 9, 2011 at 12:00pm

      why is it, any opinions outside the conservative box are constantly dismissed with a negtive connotation as invalid?
      eg, ''left-wing whining'' or there's a need to take presumptuous digs, ''You're probably too busy to read this anyways. And you won't care since I mentioned I'm a conservative.'' ?
      the answer: ignorance!
      as a non-partisan canadian citizen and tax payer, i am constantly reading articles, following campaign speeches and coverage, engaging in politacal convesartion with others, talking with party members who come to my door, and thinking critically about the facts to make the best choice for me and for what i believe my canada could/should be. Why cant we agree to disagree and maintain a level of mutual respect?

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      NotTheMan

      Apr 9, 2011 at 1:25pm

      "Arguing about fighter jets isn't going to make it easier to run a small business or help me feed my family." Well it's not going to help you feed your family just talking about it, but it's sure as hell not going to help feed your family by spending 30 billion dollars of our money on fighter jets.

      I love how conservatives (especially the ones under the 500k/per year mark) tend to respond to left wing views quite irrationally, while not making any points of why the conservative party is better than the rest. You didn't even give any points or examples as to why this article is so bad. You just called it "left wing whining."

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      Wayne Clark

      Apr 9, 2011 at 3:00pm

      Prerequisites of being a Conservative, the ability to believe the unbelievable and disbelieve the undeniable.

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      Andrew

      Apr 9, 2011 at 4:42pm

      Just an observation, but don't you spend more time in this article attacking Harper than you do stating how these issues should be addressed? It's all well and good to say we need to focus more on social issues than economic ones, but show me where the money is coming from before you spew a bunch of rhetoric. In a perfect world, we could just give everyone free health care, education, etc, but this world falls well short of perfection. I'm not saying Harper is perfect, the G20 mini-lake springs to mind as an example of gross expenditure with little or no benefit to Canadians. But the fact is we have it pretty good in this country right now, at least relative to many other areas in the world, and it is partly due to the well thought out actions our gov't took to handle the recession.

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      Bruno15

      Apr 9, 2011 at 5:23pm

      The problem the left will always have in their supposition that the state should do more (I.e. Higher services provided by the government in exchange for higher tax rates) is that is an inherent conflict in that the taxes they are talking about raising are not their own taxes, it's always "the rich's" taxes I.e the tax brackets above them. This is the classic all gain, no pain position.

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      Bruno15

      Apr 9, 2011 at 5:41pm

      Peter, every think a tiny fish in a huge pond like canada can't just do whatever it likes within an international economic system without consequence ... You know, like squeezing the tube of toothpaste and sitting there all dumbfounded when it explodes all over you. Oh Jeez, look at all of the corporate offices that left Canada ... How the heck did that happen?

      Although I do agree with you on the jets and the prisons :-)

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      Steve Y

      Apr 9, 2011 at 10:27pm

      I'm actually thinking of voting NDP for the first time in anything but I would like the NDP to work towards having a more sane immigration approach in canada. I would like to see a system that responds to unemployment. If we have higher unemployment than 5%, reduce immigration until we get under 5. This is sensible and helps immigrants as well as native born canadians. If you look at http://www.canadianimmigrant.ca/ a canadian immigrant magazine, most letters to the editor involve people needing help finding jobs, people not being used for their skills, people being woefully underpaid. This hurts everyone in the country. If the NDP could help fix this, I will become a voter for life.

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      Rolf_Auer

      Apr 10, 2011 at 12:23am

      It's strange how some of the groups that need help the most Harper is doing his best to discourage from participating in the democratic process. Why is that? Is he afraid of some kind of backlash?

      @Rolf_Auer

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      A.

      Apr 10, 2011 at 2:59am

      I know two people under the age of 25 that will vote for Harper. All of my other peers feel differently (and I'm no part of any sort of radical group and have little interest in politics as a whole). Harper's policies in advertising and in running the country just don't mesh with the younger generation's ideals. It's a shame there is such a low voter turnout for our demographic as it would probably cripple his already decrepit platform at the knees.

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