In its length, in its cost and in its debate schedule, this election is unusual. The first and possibly only real debate of the campaign ended and here are the highlights of what happened.
Smiles for the cameras. Tight Conservative polos made just for the occasion. That’s right, it’s that time of year again. It’s “Christmas in July” – where the Conservatives read your ecstatic tweets about the extra bundles of cash you just received if you are part of a happy family with children. Retroactive to January, the $3 billion payout will mean the first bundle of cash will be big: six months of $160 per kid under 6 and an extra $60 if the kid is between 7 and 17 years old. The taxpayer funded ad campaign says it all, parents with children under 6 will receive nearly $2,000 per year per child and if the child is older than 7, that amount will be $720 per year per child. Everyone should rejoice, Harper’s Conservatives have pulled off a miracle for Canadian families and everyone will benefit from their improved Universal Child Care Benefit. Wait a minute. Cut the cameras, take off the polo and rewind the tape. Does that sound a bit rosy to you?
Newly appointed Conservative Senators are finding their perks rather appealing – so appealing that they are cheating taxpayers to cash in. First Patrick Brazeau abused the system, and now Mike Duffy. We can all agree they should repay their takings and we all agree their expenses will never outweigh their salaries. We can, then, agree the housing allowance perk should be scrapped and the savings be refunded.
Two weeks after American food inspectors stopped the import of Canadian beef products infected with E. Coli, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has finally started rolling out recalls for meats and has finally pulled the plug on its source: XL Foods based in Alberta. After 2 weeks, Canadians are weary and uncertain of the meats in their freezers. Most of our stores are still uncertain as to whether they carried the contaminated meats.
You may have seen the series of ads on TV recently that feature a soothing folk music and clips of diverse gatherings, beautiful landscapes and a sense of opportunity and hope. These ads are part of the American bid to adopt what was once the Canadian dream – a dream that has been under dismantling since Harper took office in 2006.
In politics, there is no such thing as a reality. If people think a certain way of a party, this way of thinking becomes a reality that is set in stone. While polls aren’t always accurate, they give people a chance to see what others are thinking and it also gives a chance to see where people stand on policies and what perceptions they have of political parties.
It is no surprise that Canadians are scurrying across the boarder. Go into most Canadian stores and look for the same products in the United States and you will realize that we have been gauged for some time.
UN Food Envoy Oliver De Schutter blasted Canada for its widespread problem of food insecurity, stating that the country needs to drop its “self-righteous” attitude about how great a country it is. The UN person in charge of the right of food spent 11 days touring our nation as his first developed nation.
Flaherty’s new budget outlined the increase of retirement age from 65 to 67 but meanwhile the golden pensions of MPs remain in tact and will only be discussed this fall. Again, the Conservatives put ideology ahead of the wellbeing of the population, but don’t count on the opposition to provide a real alternative.
While Vic Toews fights to the brink for his bill, and attempts to retract claiming he didn’t know it would permit warrantless access to all online and mobile activities, Canadians and activists are fighting back. As Toews hides behind child pornography and attempts to do what Conservatives do best: divide and conquer, the joke is on him as parts of his life entered public light.