Photo: flickr/ItzaFineDay

I believe Canadians desire a just, compassionate and democratic Canada. With both Progressive Conservative and Liberal governments and strong citizen participation, over the decades Canada has developed such a society. I believe we live in exciting and opportune times.

Canada is well endowed and strategically placed to live out a hopeful vision for the common good. We are blessed with resources, people, a co-operative spirit, vibrant business and labour communities and imagination infused with compassion. Believing in policies and programmes to enhance the common good, we developed a global reputation for being peaceful and progressive. Until this moment in time.

Under Mr. Harper, the Canada we love is being dismantled, just as he promised. He leads the most corrosive and mean-spirited government in Canadian history. Our Federal Government believes in punishment, ideology, enemies at home and abroad and understands both politics and governing as warfare.

Taxes are bad. Climate change is questionable. Indigenous peoples are a nuisance. Poverty is caused by “the poor.” Public Servants are freeloaders. Scientists are not “realistic.” Citizens are either consumers or commodities. The list of Mr. Harper’s attacks on valued Canadian institutions, legislation and programmes is long and not to be forgotten.

The Government’s labeling of all who disagree with it is perhaps the most revealing. It indicates a total disrespect for the democratic process and the right to dissent. Serious public discourse is denigrated or ignored.

After elections, instead of being the government of and for all Canadians, our federal government governs on behalf of special interests. In current TV ads, one cannot tell the difference between the government of Canada and Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers’ attempts to convince us that all is well.

The most disgusting example is the maligning of scientists, non-profit organizations and other citizens who raise well founded and serious questions about climate change and the “pedal to the metal” development of fossil fuels. In our own country, engaging in public discourse, we are called “enemies,” and sometimes “terrorists.”

The list of highly respected Canadian institutions slashed or eliminated by the Feds is staggering: Law Reform Commission, Experimental Lakes Area research project, Centre for Offshore Oil and Gas Energy Research, Institute of Ocean Sciences, National Roundtable on the Environment and Economy, National Water Research Institute, Global Environment Monitoring System, Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration and many Fisheries and Oceans projects, just to name a few.

All of these are relatively inexpensive and slashing them does little to relieve the debt. Finding the $3 billion lost in the labyrinth of security would help much more. Then there is the legislation that flies in the face of evidence and facts. Eliminating the Long Form Census, and ramping up punishment in the Criminal Justice system come to mind.

Climate change is real. We need to retreat from our addiction to fossil fuels and a carbon based economy. We have abundant hydro, sun, wind, tidal and geothermal power possibilities. We have some of the best minds and experience in the world. More than almost any other jurisdiction, we are blessed with all the ingredients to develop renewable energy and truly sustainable communities. We could begin building a positive future for the next generations.

The Conservative Party is holding a policy convention in Calgary this year from October 31 to November 2. They will accelerate their destructive agenda. They will push for a less progressive tax system, continue the attack on public institutions (such as the CBC) and public servants, divide Indigenous peoples and support the rapid extraction of everything in the earth and under the water, while ignoring science and citizens.

But the Conservative convention will not be the only game in town. Down the street, at the public library, there will be a teach-in sponsored by Public Interest Alberta and Common Causes.  An outstanding line-up of respected Canadians representing Indigenous communities and organizations, scientists, the Council of Canadians, unions, ecologists, authors and others will present positive, practical and inspiring alternatives to the dreary fare offered up by the current governing party.

They will present a vision and policies which will put our earthly home and people first. We need not be stuck in 19th century thinking. We have all it takes to build a Canada relevant to the 21st century.