Edmonton - Monday, October 7, 2002 - by: Ron Thornton

in Canada's

Well, I can say I've been truly inspired by the man who no doubt will go down in history as one of our greatest Prime Ministers. After all, as the recent Throne Speech pointed out, we are all confident regarding Canada's future. Forget about some giants of industry being reduced to just penny stocks on the market, and the thousands being tossed out of work. Kyoto? So what if investor confidence has been shaken and our dollar is just a fraction of what it once was. What we must concentrate on the "accomplishments of the last decade" and the establishment of "the foundations for great success" for our nation.




Which may be true, especially when compared to what the next decade within confederation might bring us. Be it man-made or the natural phenomenon as it has been in millenniums past, we are going to tackle the challenge of climatic change, be it global cooling or global warming or whatever catch phrase the environmentally challenged have come up with next week. Still, what will be the cost? What is the cost of doing absolutely nothing? Are we heading into an ice age, where global warming might be considered a positive step? Are we to do nothing about the toxins and the real pollutants that actually kill us rather than increase our longevity? As for what affordable, alternative fuels that will be available for that new age car you'll have to buy to avoid the crushing taxation on gas, well I guess we'll just have to wait on that.




In his Don Quixote-like quest for a meaningful legacy our Prime Minister wants to be more of a Dr. Feelgood. He wants a health care system for the 21st century, whatever that means. Does it mean the feds kicking in more than 14% of the provincial costs, down from its former bench mark of 50%? Does it mean if we get sick or injured we might get in to see a doctor before the effectiveness of our 18-hour deodorant wears off? Well, maybe a hint might come from the fact they are considering giving you compassionate leave if you have a loved one dying. Now, there is something to look forward to.


Jean Chretien's compassion knows no boundaries, as he strives to become the next Bob Geldof, the ex-Boomtown Rat that brought us Live Aid and rocked us with "I Don't Like Mondays." In his desire to do what is right for African nations, our own Doomtown Cat plans to reduce tariffs and quotas on almost all products from the least developed nations. Good idea, but I wonder how much of our dollars will get past the bully dictators and their gangs to trickle down to where its most needed? Instead, we are buoyed by the fact that some of the world's most oppressed people, under some of the world's most tyrannical regimes, will be able to provide us with the best their sweat shops have to deliver, at bargain prices. Yes, sir, I couldn't be more proud.




"We live in uncertain times," this throne speech reminded us. "We still see far too much poverty", which is true, but we also see far too little democracy, but enough about Canada for a moment. General Chretien says his government "will continue to work with its allies to ensure the safety and security of Canadians." I believe him, because as we continue to leave our Armed Forces essentially unarmed, we need the Yanks and the Brits to ensure we are safe and secure. As for what we might be doing to that end, "the government will set out a long-term direction on international and defense policy that reflects our values and interests and ensures that Canada's military is equipped to fulfill the demands placed upon it." If those values are representative of what we've seen thus far from this government, I guess all we need to do is put flowers in our hair, strum the sitar, flash the peace sign, and hope for the best. Thankfully, the Canadian soldier has learned to adapt, even when placed in the desert in jungle green uniforms, with museum pieces for equipment. Are we the only country in the world where our old helicopters are more likely to sink into the sea than any of our new submarines?


He might not stand on guard for thee, but he figures he could be Uncle Jean to our children. I'm so pleased that our Prime Minister wants to ensure that all Canadian children have a good start in life. Maybe we could aid that start in providing opportunity to their parents. Handing out cash to charity cases might not be a long-term solution, but providing real opportunity and real hope to those who wish to reach out and grab it would do wonders for us all. Creating real economic growth that creates jobs with a future, with some reasonable level of security, would go a long ways in providing for our children and families facing poverty. It would also free up funding for those truly in need, who simply can not take advantage of opportunity due to a real disability or disadvantage. Taxing us less to allow us to spend more of what we earn wouldn't hurt.




My heart quickens with the dedication this government will have to protect our children's well being, including increased penalties for abuse and neglect enshrined in the Criminal Code. So, if one of my boys needs a little swat on the butt, will the Child Welfare Nazi's come storming through the door, or will some much needed intelligence be put forward to recognize the difference between corporal punishment and cruel beatings? I can just imagine their touchy-feely definitions of what makes our children victims and what makes us good parents. My father tanned our hides when it was warranted, kept us in line, retained our love and respect, and not one of my brothers or sisters have ever seen the inside of the big house. Not all parents can say the same.


More democratic institutions would go a long way in creating confidence in our governing bodies. It should be a right of every Canadian citizen to be represented inclusively within the Canadian framework. We can only hope such a governance model put forth under the PM's plan for First Nations will be less demonstrative of what the Prime Minister currently enjoys and more attuned to a system focused on democratic principles, transparency, and public accountability. With more flak on its way over government ads, Mr. Chretien's two Flying Versailles jets, and his determination to keep his appointment schedule hidden from public view, I'm not so sure our PM would provide the right example. But, hey, if democracy works for the First Nations, maybe we just might give the idea a whirl in Parliament.

to be

The throne speech concluded with
"We know that by pursuing the common good, we pursue our own good; that a country is more than a collection of narrow interests, it is a common enterprise to which all can contribute."
We pursue our own good, and our own greed, be it in regards to a golf course, a federal bank loan, some new planes, canceled helicopter contracts, or friendly Public Works folks. Not being a Liberal, I guess I'm automatically considered a narrow interest.


Still, to be honest, I guess we've all made a few similar Throne Speeches of our own from time to time. The only difference was, when we were finished we had the decency to flush.


Ron Thornton



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