David McConkey - Columnist, Consultant, Citizen
Columnist. Consultant. Citizen.

Issues for the Next Election?

Brandon Sun, May 22, 2011 - David McConkey

That was quite the Canadian election three weeks ago, eh?

And now the election is just a distant memory, with the flood, not to mention other news.

But revisiting the election for a moment, I’d like to raise some controversial issues that were not discussed.

As great as democracy is, it has a problem in dealing with some issues. Apparently politicians think we citizens can’t handle the truth!

Here are six examples.

Some suggestions are too right wing even for the Conservatives. Or too left wing even for the NDP. Or too radical even for the Greens. Or too mundane even for the Liberals.

  War on Drugs

The war on drugs is hopeless; this war has been lost. But will any politician come out and actually say it?

What about decriminalizing marijuana, which was openly debated a few years ago? Now it is too hot to mention. Even the NDP has abandoned the topic as the party goes mainstream.
But I’m not talking just about decriminalizing marijuana.

I’m talking about legalizing all drugs. Let’s look at how we can use information, regulation, taxation, education, and rehabilitation to deal with the issue.

Like all difficult issues, the answers won’t be easy. But we need politicians to at least start asking the questions.

•  F-35 Jets

Aren’t those fighter jets sexy!

Just the glamorous item to be in favour of (Conservatives). Or to be opposed to (NDP). Or to be both in favour of and opposed to (Liberals).

But I’d like to see more discussion about dull and boring things for our military. Like trucks.

Specifically MRAP (mine resistant, ambush protected) trucks. These trucks are better than traditional armoured vehicles in protecting against improvised explosive devices. IEDs were the cause of many casualties in Afghanistan, and will be a problem in any other such engagement.

Imagine a politician who might say, “The government is spending billions of dollars on trucks. Your taxes are going up to pay for them. Thank you for supporting our troops.”

•  Taxes Taxes

Perhaps the biggest taboo subject is taxes. Every politician promises more from the government. But somehow we won’t have to pay more in taxes?

We need politicians who are much more forthright. We need to pay more overall in taxes. And we need to pay more in consumption taxes rather than income taxes. 

Yes, that means increasing the GST.

And instituting a carbon cap and trade scheme or other policies to address climate change. And being honest that such environmental measures will increase the price of the products we buy.

•  Economic Growth

Politicians of all stripes like to say they will encourage economic growth. Growth that will give us more jobs and more prosperity.

But, we cannot keep growing in a finite world.

The reality: there are limits to growth. The question: will we address the issue in time?

•  Aboriginal Issues

Aboriginal issues tend to be controversial and tend to get ignored.

But right now could be a special opportunity.

The majority Conservative government has its base in Western Canada, where aboriginal issues resonate the most.
As well, seven MPs with aboriginal ancestry, the most ever, were just elected. Of those seven, five are Conservatives. 

Everything should be openly discussed, including the official racial separation of the Indian Act. 

The Indian Act has not been questioned since the Trudeau government did 40 years ago.

By the way, the “Statement of the Government of Canada on Indian Policy (White Paper)” from 1969 still makes interesting reading today. (It’s easy to find online.) 
•  Struggling Families

Of course, many Canadian families are struggling. They are coping with the impact of poverty, crime, illness, or close to home right now – natural disasters like floods.

And regular life can be challenging. But, compared to others in the rest of the world and compared to how we lived in the past, middle class families in Canada are not really struggling. 

Yet politicians, especially Jack Layton but also others, describe just about everyone as struggling.

That presents a problem. It then seems never to be the right time to discuss difficult, contentious issues. 

We need leaders who can strike the right balance. Acknowledge the great help needed by some, the regular services needed by everyone, and the everyday demands faced by all.

But also inspire us to talk about the controversial issues.

And take on the big global challenges like the environment and climate change, international development, and war and peace.

* * * *

See also:  

Real Discussions on Tax and Crime are Being Avoided

Drug, Alcohol Policies Reveal Our Hypocrisy

We Can Forge a New Drug Policy

Canadians Must Maintain a Higher Standard in War

A More Thoughtful Approach to Racial Issues is Required

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David McConkey,
Brandon, Manitoba
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Some Reviewed Books:

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Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now


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Islam and the Future of Tolerance:
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Extraordinary Canadians:
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The Greatest Show on Earth:
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