Councillor Donna Macdonald at Sunday’s Canada Day celebration at Lakeside Rotary Park.

Standing up for Canada

Canada Day always leads us to contemplate our country and what we stand for, as we wave our little red-and-white flags

In a news report last week about the US Supreme Court’s upholding of Obamacare, a man said, “This is too much socialism. I want to move to Canada.”

At first I chuckled, thinking, that’s a switch. Usually Americans, especially conservative ones, see Canada as the evil socialist empire to the north. This guy is obviously confused.

But, then, I paused. What if he’s right? What if he perceives what’s happening in Canada more accurately than we Canadians do?

Canada Day always leads us to contemplate our country and what we stand for, as we wave our little red-and-white flags.

In my lifetime, we have been proud of what I would call our progressive values — looking after each other through social programs and volunteerism; protecting our environment; ensuring economic justice and prosperity; enabling democratic discourse and participation; being peacemakers on the world stage. And the subtext was that we counted on our governments to uphold and advance those values.

The Harper government is quietly and inexorably changing all that. The much-criticized omnibus bill will have impacts that we may not see immediately. But some day, we’ll ask — how did that happen? What happened to food inspectors or protection for fish habitat or a decent income level for seniors? Well, remember the “budget bill” back in 2012?

Remember how we didn’t really know all the collateral, yet fundamental, legislative changes that were included? The weakening of government and its relationship with citizens — lower taxes means fewer services means less relevant government. The increased power of the corporate sector, especially in the energy field, increasingly the main source of government revenues. The race to exploit and export our finite natural resources. The weakening of civil society, all those charities that are under attack and tiptoeing around instead of freely bringing forward alternative ideas to those of the prevailing culture.

I know, the Conservatives hold a majority in parliament, and can do what they want. But are their actions and decisions really what Canadians want? Did we fully understand their agenda; did they tell us the devilish details of their grand plan?

Apparently not. Recent polls have shown that Canadians have quite different priorities than Mr. Harper. In an EKOS poll, social inequality was chosen three times as often as fiscal issues as people’s main concern. Fifty-nine per cent of people chose investing in social programs as the highest government priority, compared to 16 per cent who wanted to keep taxes as low as possible.

In polling by the Broadbent Institute, even 58 per cent of Conservative supporters agreed that they were willing to pay more taxes to save social programs (72 per cent of Liberal and NDP supporters agreed).

The Globe and Mail did an interactive poll before the federal budget and concluded that what stood out was the across-the-board call for higher taxes.

So I think those progressive values that I hold very dear, and that are brought to life by wise use of our tax dollars, are still held by many Canadians. We need to speak out, not just answer phone polls. We have to remind not only the government, but also each other that these values still matter, that we reject the prevailing narratives that try to persuade us otherwise, that tell us a different story about being Canadian.

This all matters as we sit around the council table, making decisions for our community. Because it all trickles down. The federal government’s inaction on climate change, for one, means some day Nelson, like Kaslo and Sicamous this year, will face tremendous costs to protect our citizens. Policing costs increase with the law-and-order agenda. And under the current unfair tax regime, local governments only get eight cents of every tax dollar, and are expected to do more and more as senior governments withdraw.

Oh Canada, we will stand on guard for you. And our American friend? He should perhaps review his options.


Councillor Donna Macdonald  shares the Wednesday council column with the rest of his colleagues around the table.



Just Posted

Four-storey development slated for Hall-Front intersection in Nelson

Building will be mixed commercial and residential

Wildflower School to keep its bee hive

City council voted to give the school a bylaw exemption

Nearby wildfire closes Idaho Peak

The popular hiking spot is off limits to the public

Granite Pointe’s GM honoured among world’s top golf teachers

David Belling has been included on a top-100 list

VIDEO: Nelson Leafs prepare for new season with training camp

Forty-seven players hit the ice last weekend

VIDEO: Monday Roundup: Aug. 13, 2018

The Nelson Star’s weekly news roundup

Plane fighting wildfire crashes near Canada/U.S. border

The plane experienced an unknown problem.

RCMP to search for body after man drowns in B.C.’s Buntzen Lake

Officers and fire crews responded but the man from the Lower Mainland is believed to have drowned.

Police chiefs call for stricter controls on pill presses to fight opioids

Canada’s police chiefs are urging Ottawa to beef up its fight against the opioid scourge by closely vetting people who import pill presses

Hot, dry conditions forces drought rating to highest level on Vancouver Island

The province says Vancouver Island is under Stage 4 drought conditions

Victoria police say explicit calls continue to target women

Over 50 reports of unwanted, sexually explicit calls have come in

‘It’s like a party in your mouth’

B.C. creator’s Milkshake Burger makes its debut at the PNE

Darkwoods Conservation is closed to all public road access due to wildfires

Boat access to Tye along the shore of Kootenay Lake is still permitted.

Most Read