Appeared in North Shore News – April 1, 2011
It’s a stock pose of the opinion-mongering trade to affect boredom in our elections — but already this one really, really bores me in my private places.
The programmed candidates will say little or nothing about the vital issues on this citizen’s list: Food. Radiation. Immigration. Courts. Character (yes, character).
Start with radiation. At this writing authorities say radiation levels from the Japanese reactor meltdown have risen on our coast but aren’t dangerous. No specific numbers. Reassured?
Running against type, no less a number-crunching house maverick than Vancouver Sun columnist Stephen Hume claims: “Burning more coal to produce electricity poses a greater threat to your health than the three worst nuclear accidents combined.” To be as dangerous, “you’d need 25 meltdowns a year.”
My take: Canada — world’s biggest uranium exporter and, in another commentator’s term, “pusher” — should place a two-year selective moratorium on exports while convening top-level scientists for their data and advice.
Pain? You said it. I own uranium shares. I’ll survive.
Food. Only five per cent of British Columbia is precious arable and grazing land. Ottawa and the provinces should join in quickly halting urban sprawl on farmland, like on the 537-acre Southlands property. Hunger is a Canadian and global issue far too vital for beleaguered Delta Mayor Lois Jackson to handle.
Which segues into immigration. Indeed, put aside the undoubted positive aspects of immigration. Put aside too the ugly face of immigrants importing terrorism, pressuring Canada to adjust to them and not vice versa, flag-of-convenience off-shore abusers of our health and social benefits, the stupidity of the Supreme Court of Canada in ruling that anyone in a leaky tub gets constitutional rights the moment a foot touches the shore. Of course not one candidate dares touch those matters.
Put all this aside and just talk numbers. The Conservative government is proud that Canada absorbed 280,000 immigrants in 2010, 30,000 more than in average years. I say, cut that by three-quarters for two years. The magnet for immigrants is a few cities, especially Toronto and Vancouver. That’s shooting up real estate prices — and municipal taxes — to super-absurd levels. Offshore zillionaires, many of whom get rich by means unconscionable or illegal here, are bidding up those prices.
Some people are nuts enough to think that bigger is better. No, better is better — better space, quietude, peace, safety, sound sleep for citizens. I abhor the mania for growth, those who seek a bigger gross national product, more corporate profits — and let’s not forget construction unions that couldn’t care less for casino evils, they just lust for the jobs — they will all be cut out of my will.
Life would also be a lot better with fewer immigration lawyers. Some stiff their own nationals, and corruption is doubtless far more widespread than any political party dares to explore. That might be “racist,” and every ethnic “community” (God, that’s a loathsome word) with a letterhead would scream.
Courts. They’re jammed. My take: No more than two genuine remands for most ordinary cases or courts would order a hearing to replace counsel. And by the way, how many judges sit Friday afternoons, when they could be putting white-collar con artists behind steel, like forever?
Character, as in good. I couldn’t prove whether Canadians cumulatively used to have more of it, but the ideal was prominently in the air and often shamelessly practised, and in neighbourhoods people knew who had it. But the vocabulary of responsibility, duty, honesty, integrity, manners has vanished in our culture, replaced by reports of celeb inanities, psycho-babble, self-pitying whines, spurious get-rich and healthy-living books and motivational-speaking junk.
Oh yes, and damfool election twaddle. To quote myself, there’s nothing like a democratic election for exposing the attractions of the divine right of kings. In the ridiculous weeks ahead, all parties’ promises, as if to an infantile populace, would somehow square the unyielding circle of lowering taxes while providing more goodies.
I am not so disillusioned as to think most Canadians have fallen that far in gullibility or moral sloth. In fact, a very great deal of good occurs in this country in practice which doesn’t work in theory.
Then there’s the one precious benefit that even the most dedicated party can never deliver. And that is to give back to the injured, the abused, the neglected — the 10 per cent who cause 90 per cent of serious social problems — the first five years of their lives. For too many, that is where it all begins and, tragically, ends.
And no, this is no April Fool.
© Trevor Lautens, 2011