Brad Nickason: The Canada we once were and who we can be again

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      Under Harper’s breed of conservative government, Canada has changed.  What has changed for the worse is our international reputation, the penchant for imposing our will on the global community, a decline in our culture’s openness toward new Canadians, and deterioration in the value and support our government extends to the families who are here now.

      Be they naturalized, First Nations, or born and bred, it looks more as if this new Canada favours a class system with haves and have-nots. It’s looking judgemental, elitist, and mean. On this path we have seen drastic shifts to favour a corporate few letting them, in effect, write policy for the rest of us.

      What we’ve seen coming out of Ottawa is a steady erosion of co-environmental constraints and social protections and general civility—things that had been Canadian hallmarks attractive to people from all over the world. To the cries of “we must have the lowest possible taxes!” we seem to have lost our sense of togetherness, equality, and fairness. We appear to have lost the sense of working with and for each other. We seem distracted, divided, and conquered, instructed to pursue our own selfish interests and forget the next guy. Forget our nation’s future.

      I don’t know how you may feel about our slide, but I don’t care for that diminished Canada in the least.  This is why I am a candidate for change in a better direction, running as the Green Party’s nominee for MP in Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam.

      The larger trends in our society often manifest locally in perhaps small but illuminating ways.  My riding, for example, has become what might be the only community in Canada whose residents are forced to pay a stiff fee every time they need to cross a major river by a bridge that is fundamental to their economic and social lives. Charging citizens this way, we are left with a lower-looking tax bill each year, but only by means of an alternate form of taxation that is regressive toward the poor, many of whom must take the bridge each day to work, while it favours corporations—which can write off tolls against their taxes at year’s end—over the rest of us, who cannot.

      I am a strong supporter of Canadian businesses, yet it troubles me to see company trucks travel the bridge under an implicit subsidy paid for by regular working people, seniors, and families.  I am concerned that, across our province and nation, recent years of conservative-led government have brought a proliferation of such arrangements, quietly  favoring moneyed interest groups over the needs and welfare of ordinary citizens.  

      Can we afford to let our governments undercut our nation’s traditions of fairness and caring for all of our citizens?  Can we tolerate their maneuvers to centralize power, advantage the wealthiest, reduce transparency in Ottawa, stifle proper debate in Parliament, hide science that should help guide policy, and mislead the public with manipulative spin campaigns? Is this what we truly want?

      In reaction, we are hearing the burdened left rumbling in anger. So they should. It cannot be reasonably expected that downtrodden and financially abused citizens won’t assert their will and fight back for their own interests, if not in this election then in the next. When the left rises up to take the reins of power, will we be surprised if the government they shape in their own image imposes its own blinders and special interest giveaways targets their ideological adversaries, and generally operates by the debased winner-takes-all philosophy that Harper’s era has brought to our land?   

      Stepping back from our partisan allegiances, do we really believe that such a pendulum swing will help Canada come together as it must in order to succeed in the challenging times ahead? 

      As a Green, I believe the divisively partisan mindset pervading our country today is keeping us from recognizing and seizing the enormous opportunities, and tackling the real dangers that lie before Canada.

      We are entering an exciting new technological era driven by a now desperately urgent need to move away from carbon-based fuel sources. Proven options can provide us with great scientific, educational, investment, business, career and job opportunities. Canada can be leaders in this movement, unifying us as a nation working together across the spectrum of political ideologies. That is what the Green Party represents, a way for us as people to put aside petty squabbling and entitlements so that we can work together to create more opportunities and help each other.

      That is the Canada we once were and who we can be again by voting Green.