Are you really going to vote based on the niqab?

I was reading an article about a demonstration of the Conservatives in the Quebec city area.  For some reason, this area has always been favorable to the Conservatives.

Stephen Harper focused most of his speech on the niqab situation.  This is discouraging.  He’s claiming to be champion of the economy and all he can talk about is the niqab.  Come on!  I mean, enough is enough!  We’re talking two cases over hundreds of thousands.

The article was stating that the niqab situation was the turning point in this campagne so far.  If this is true, history will most likely remember this election as the biggest mistake Canadians will have ever made.  Are we that easy to manipulate?  We need to focus on the real issues here.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Job security (who will create good jobs, protection of our farms with the Trans-Pacific Trade Deal)
  • The state of the economy (how to generate growth again)
  • The state of the public finances (balancing budgets, focusing on right priorities)
  • International affairs (how to react to the Islamic State, how to react to Russia, relationship with the US, our assistance to migrants)
  • The age of retirement
  • Helping out provinces with their health system
  • Investing in our infrastructure
  • Protecting our environment

Those are the important points I will be considering when choosing who I will vote for.  If you think Harper is the best on those points, then fine, vote for him.  You are entitled to your opinion.  But please, don’t vote only on the niqab.  If the points mentioned above would have you vote for someone else, then I say that these are much more important priorities than the niqab.

I’ll leave you with this food for thought.  Consider this from Stephen Harper.  He is ready to put aside his so important values when votes are in the wager.  For example, selling military equipment to Saudia Arabia seems perfectly fine because he’s afraid that doing the right thing might cost him some precious votes in Ontario.  He is prepared to sell military equipment to a country where humans rights are ignored.  He’s prepared to sell military equipment to a country which most likely supports the niqab more than everyone else.  But yet, he’s claiming we need to adopt the hard way against the niqab here, a problem that is much more smaller than selling weaponry to Saudia Arabia.  By the way, it’s interesting to see how much he will not hesitate to sign deals with a country that his responsible for the dip in oil prices right now.  Stephen Harper claims to have values.  He has values but only when it doesn’t cost him.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership

While Stephen Harper and his Wizard Of Oz (Crosby) are attracting our attention to the niqab false problem (this concerns two women who refused to remove their niqab out of hundreds of thousands), he his quite potentially giving away important parts of our economy.

What’s troubling here is that he’s not ready to commit to protecting farmers in this deal.  This is a disaster.  Here is why:

  • if we start importing our food and our basic necessities, we’re becoming too depending on what’s happening elsewhere.  Furthermore, we totally loose the control on what it’s going to cost us to eat.
  • Grocery is perhaps the biggest expense households have right now.  This is also the most stable (people have to eat).  Do you honestly want to give away the jobs related to this important function?  I don’t think so.
  • Importing food is a disaster for the environment.  While every expert on the planet will tell you that we need to start growing our food next to where our population lives, this deal is perhaps going to cause just the opposite.  Transporting food over long distances just doesn’t make sense.

It is true that lots of jobs may be created with this deal.  The question you need to ask yourself is that are they going to be good jobs.  Will our farmers need to sell their land to external interests?  Will we live in a world where there will be crop fields next to our cities while our people are starving because they can’t afford to eat anymore?

Please consider the consequences of this deal before voting for Stephen Harper.

An aging economy

Yesterday, Statistics Canada announced that for the first time in our country’s history, people aged 65 and over outnumber the group of the 0-14.  Experts picked up on this and even analyzed that our country is aging at a very rapid pace, saying that by 2024, people aged 65 and over may very well account for 25% of our population.

When such a thing happens, there are important consequences:

  • The burden on the health system becomes very difficult to support
  • Economic growth is near impossible (if there is growth, it’s very weak)
  • People get to have to work up until a much more older age

Japan is an example of an aging economy.  It has unfortunately gone through multiple recessions and it’s quite possibly heading into yet another recession.  Not that the aging population is the only reason but it sure doesn’t help.  And it sure shows a strange pattern that aging economies have much more recessions and economic problems.

The same experts that were describing the aging economy problem were also saying that such economic systems need to be stimulated if we hope for any growth to be achieved.  Stimulating the economy basically means investing into projects that will generate jobs and growth.  Stephen Harper is not doing or planning on doing this.  By wanting to balance budgets at all cost and keeping the taxes low, he’s betting that the private sector will be able to bank on these principles and generate jobs and growth.  This is not going to work unfortunately.  This is just hoping a problem will solve by itself.  The problem we’re facing and too deep and touches too many fundamental principles that it just can’t solve by itself.

In the other hand, we have parties right now that are proposing we invest right now into our economy and generate growth and good jobs.  This is perhaps a better approach than the “hope for the best” approach Stephen Harper is proposing.  We need a government who will help families.  And trust me, it’s not a 160$ per month check that will accomplish this.  On the grand scheme of things, young couples will not make the decision of having children based on 160$ per month.  This is just not enough.  If Stephen Harper had proposed tax cuts that would benefit everybody, that 160$ combined with the tax cuts would be a good step.  However, Stephen Harper is proposing that we implement income splitting to save up to 2000$ in tax.  Well, unfortunately, the 2000$ in tax cut plus the 160$ (that we have to give back partially) will not allow a young couple to provide for a child.  In today’s world, for a young couple to provide for a child, you basically need two good jobs.  Just one of the two jobs at minimum wage is not going to be enough if the other job is at the average salary.  The 2000$ and the 160$ a month will not cover enough.  As well, with the poor quality of the jobs Stephen Harper has created, we see couples having children at a much more older age, sometime causing couples to have only one child.  In order for a young couple to have children, you need the following conditions:

  • two jobs at the average salary
  • two jobs that are stable.  That means that both spouses need to have a certain level of confidence that they will not lose their job in the near future.  This is perhaps the most important factor.  I’ve often heard of women waiting to get to be permanent before having children because they were afraid that they could not find work when they would want to get back to the job market.  And even today, there is no such thing as permanent positions, even within the government.
  • reasonable work schedules.  Hectic work schedules just makes it impossible for a young couple to commit to children.  As well, we often see people having to work two jobs to make ends meet.
  • affordable housing.  This is also important.  Young couple will often wait to own a house before they have children.

Now, look at what Stephen Harper is proposing and tell me if there’s any condition being met.  The answer is no.  Therefore, young couples will not have children at the pace we would need to sustain our economy and our population.  Even worse, those of us working right now might not be able to enjoy a retirement at all.  We need a government who will work on those 4 essential conditions mentioned above.  To some extent, the Liberals are the closest we have seen.  They’re sure willing to put the necessary money to at least meet the first three conditions.  The NDP are claiming they want to create good jobs and are also making interesting proposals.  The daycare program they are proposing has proven to be positive in Quebec, despite relatively high cost.  The economic boost created by women going back to work rather than staying home is to be considered.  The Conservatives are doing quite the opposite.  TFSA accounts and income splitting are in most cases favoring people who are retired or close to retirement.

One could also argue that immigration might be a solution.  Yes and no.  With immigration, you have to be careful on accepting people who will become productive members of our society.  It’s also important to accept people who will adhere to our basic values.  We can’t just attract enough people and accept them at a pace that is fast enough right now.  Furthermore, our population has fears right now (some are legitimate while some are somewhat overreactions) which we must respect and reassure our population on.  Harper is certainly not working on increasing immigration right now.  He doesn’t have enough manpower (because he’s made cuts) to evaluate all the candidates.  He doesn’t have the necessary programs in place either to properly great the new arrivals and make sure they adapt as fast as possible.  This is why he’s keeping immigration low and this is why immigration just won’t be enough to change the tides on our aging economy.

In this election, we have an opportunity to act now and put in place a government which has the vision of helping out young families.  This is our future.  We need to have children who will sustain our society of tomorrow.  Now, ask yourself who has been coming forward up until now with proposals to help out young families.  Stephen Harper is just not in the game on this important subject.

When two smart persons say the same thing

Today, in the newspaper “Le Devoir” from Quebec, Doctor David Suzuki was talking about how much harmful it would be to elect Stephen Harper once again.

I don’t believe I need to do much more explaining here.  When extremely intelligent people such as Doctor Suzuki come forward and make such statements, I think it’s worth considering.

As well, Mark Carney, former governor of the Bank of Canada (and now governor of the Bank of UK) was talking about how much climate change would have a deep impact on the economy.  I’ll concede that Mark Carney didn’t speak up on who to vote for.  However, his statement on the relationship between climate change and the economy is certainly to be taken very seriously.

I think we all agree here that Stephen Harper is definitely not the champion of the environment.  He will claim he is sensible to the environment problems but will not act accordingly.  He first muzzled Environment Canada and made deep cuts to this department.  He’s favored pipelines and wagons of oil being transported across the country with the consequences the people of Lac Mégantic all know too well.  Turning our back on important environmental considerations such as what Stephen Harper is doing is just allowing perhaps irreversible damage our children will suffer for.  And if we consider mister Carney’s position on the subject, we may be working at the very destruction of our economy as we speak.  Stephen Harper may be doing the very opposite of what he intends to do.  Perhaps on a not too distant future, jobs will be lost forever because of climate change.  We will then have destroyed irreversibly our environment and have deep economic problems.  This is an important consideration and I plead with Canadians to seriously consider this aspect before voting for Stephen Harper.

Like I was saying

I was just going through an article from CTV news about Trudeau needed to take a break for the week-end while his financial plan is out.  Surely enough, there were people ready to throw rocks at him while others were ready to defend him.

Honestly, I don’t get his strategy here.  You’re releasing perhaps the most important document of your campagne and you somehow manage to disappear for the week-end?  I just don’t understand what’s going through the minds of the Liberals spin doctors these days.  It’s not the week-end off that is the problem it’s rather to release the financial statement on that very same week-end.  I would have just delayed it until next week.  They probably want to see the comments over the week-end and pep talk the guy in order to align his answers.  It shows he is not that strong on economics but at the same time it shows that it’s a team working and not a one man show.  All in all, there is some good and some bad.  You make up your own mind on this one folks.

The reason why I’m writing an article is because I was looking over at the comments people were making.  More precisely, comments about whether we had a better standard of living since Harper took office.  Some were saying yes, while some were saying no.  Those who were saying no were saying no for various reasons (environment, economy and more).  There was however a pattern we could see with those who were saying yes.  In all the cases, people were super happy about Harper because they could shelter money in a TFSA and because of the cut to the GST.  They were also happy about income splitting.  Do you see a pattern here?  All of those people already had good amounts of money.  They could all afford to have their RRSP full and their TFSA full.  I’m personally making a decent salary and I’m telling you, this is not something I can achieve myself.  I have some RRSP and no TFSA at all.  And income splitting doesn’t do squat for me since me and my wife have income that are close enough.  Those people were in the vast majority people close to retirement.  Normally, you have more income when you’re close to retirement because some of your payments should be done by now.  Kids should be out of the house and their tuition fees should also be history.  But to all of you who have fully loaded TFSA right now, I have a question.  Don’t you already have enough money as we speak?  I mean, you most likely have tens of thousands of dollars already put aside and you want even more?  I mean, if we can lower your taxes and keep the economy rolling, fine, I’m all for it.  But the problem is right now that the economy is not rolling.  We need a leader who will invest and not just be happy to do the least he can do to get the support of targeted groups such as yourselves.  To all retirees and close to retirees out there, who have lots of money, I have another question:  do you have grand-children or perhaps children who are struggling to make ends meet?  Do they have to purchase a home that is 3-4 times more expensive than what it used to be when you bought your own home?  Do they have no job security at all and have to sometime combine two jobs to make ends meet?

Perhaps I’m tired and I shouldn’t write what I’m about to write but too bad, here it goes.  Put on the hat if it fits.  You baby Boomers enjoyed probably the most favorable condition you could ask for.  Yes you has your time of difficulties like every generation but over all, you had job security in the vast majority of cases and, you were the first generation to benefit from money that was left over from your parents.  You had decent salaries and some of you didn’t have to suffer from being overworked because unions protected you like crazy.  Your homes were affordable, even with the high interest rates.  Now that all the risks are over, you are all too happy to just vote for someone like Harper who will give back to you perhaps 2000-3000$ a year while the young families trying to start on their own struggle.  We have university grads not being able to find decent work for crying out loud.  All of this because our government won’t invest.  And you have the audacity to tell us we’re better off?  I suggest you stop looking at just yourself and look at the others around you.  Look at the young families overpaying for their houses because you want more and more profit when you sell yours.  Look at the unemployed who would very much like to find work to even start considering starting a family.  Look at single parents struggling.  In the end, we will all pay a heavy price for this.  We will just not have any children anymore because no one will be able to afford it.  You will be loaded with cash not being able to get services because there will be no one there.

I find it strange that you’re all claiming that Trudeau’s plan will be passing on a bill to the generations to come.  In fact, his plan is more to save this generation and prepare the country so that there is a generation to come in the first place.

When you go out and vote, look at all the angles here.  You already have the money, you already have a good situation.  Are you ready to sacrifice an entire generation by putting Harper back in office just so you can have an additional 3000$ per year on perhaps a total of some 60,000$ net?  Are you reading to send your grand-children working perhaps for 25,000$ a year while trying to pay for a 300,000$ house just so you can fly to Florida in winter time?  I have a daughter and if I would be close to retirement, I’d be hoping the best for her and I would try to vote for the guy who would favor her, not me.  Just think about what you’re about to do.

And to all of you who don’t have a good job right now.  To all of you looking for work.  To all of you trying to start a family: look carefully at Harper’s plan and see if it’s going to help you.  Look at the job you currently have.  Look at your salary.  If you can’t afford a TFSA right now, then Harper has nothing in stock for you.  Sorry.  The paradoxe here is that polls often show that people who support the most Harper are low income families.  This is strange.  You vote for a guy who will not do anything for you while the other guys are trying to come up with something to help you.  They might not be perfect and they might not have bullet proof plans but at the very least they’re trying.  Harper is not.  He is hoping for the generosity of some the Baby Boomers full of cash and for the generosity of the private companies.  Both are not there to be generous.  Companies are partially owner by investment funds held by people who have money and want even more with profits.  Companies can only achieve more and more profits on your back.  They have to make you work harder for less.  It’s simple and efficient.  On the other hand, rich Baby Boomers are all too happy to keep money in their savings.  I’m not blaming them, this is what they have to do.  They have to save money to pay for long term care for themselves.  I’m however blaming a government who will just favor them in order to get enough votes to get in.

How it all relates

Man, I’m telling you, we are less and less Canadian by the day with this Harper guy.  We’ve just learned yesterday that he’s been favoring an important weapons deal with Saudia Arabia.  Since when are we in the business of delivering weapons to a country that is not respecting the basic human rights?  He’s considering this country an ally.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying we should forbid all trading with this country.  But trading weapons with them?  I mean, what reassurance do we even have those weapons won’t end up in the hands of the Islamic State?  Not that this country itself is for this group but there could be underground dissidence in this government to pass on some of those weapons.  What prevents Saudia Arabia to sell those weapons in return to Syria?

I’ll admit, I’m going on a tangent here and I have no proof whatsoever to back what I’m saying.  All that I’m saying are the following questions:

What if the weapons we’re producing in Canada end up somehow being used in Syria?  What if we have a participation in the migrants crisis more than we want to admit?  What if we’re sending out our own troops to fight against weapons produced here in Canada?  What if we’re participating in the destruction of a country and then turning our backs on the affected populations?

We sure want jobs in Canada.  But do we want jobs by helping out a regime that is far from being a democracy?  Do we want jobs at the expense of sending weapons in a region of the globe where those weapons could be used in a wrongfully manner?  Like I was saying, what guarantees do we have that Saudia Arabia will not turn around and sell those weapons to groups which we would never sell weapons to in the first place?  We’re not talking selling weapons here to an allied country, member of NATO.  We’re talking selling weapons to a monarchy that totally ignores human rights and democracy.  And then we have Harper telling us that some of the acts committed by this country are barbaric.  Tell me then how it’s a good idea to sell weapons to these guys?

Gille Duceppe used to be out of the race in my books.  But, with yesterday’s question, I’m thinking he scored some big points.  It’s totally ironic that somehow, it’s a separatist from Quebec that blown the whistle on a truly Canadian value.  With Harper, we’re not just intervening militarily, we’re also providing weapons to countries which perhaps we should not.  It’s also ironic to have Harper telling us to be against the niqab situation while he’s providing weapons to one of the countries which is the source for this practice.

In all fairness however, I have to say that the response from Trudeau and Mulcair was quite shy.  So did Elizabeth May.  I’m hoping this is because this question took them off guard and that they wanted to analyze the situation before taking position.  But, if we’re really providing weapons to Saudia Arabia, we have to seriously consider the implications that this has.  And parties have to come out and say that they will put an end to this, even if it costs votes.  Sometime, you have to stand by your convictions.

When using the services of a magician

I’ll grant you that.  That Harper guy is clever.  Trailing in the polls, he got the services of a certain Crosby to come and help him out.  That guy knew exactly how to shift the focus from the important elements (aka the economy) to the element where he knew Stephen Harper would score the best: scaring people with immigration.

I have a problem with this.  First of all, we’re not talking about what’s important to us anymore.  Rather, what we’re doing is talking about our deepest fear, the fear of the stranger we don’t know.  That would score high at any time and it was clever.  I’m here to set the balance back tough.

First, is it justified to be afraid of all immigrants and adopt a tough line?  In some cases, making a stand for our essential values as Canadians is not bad.  Fortunately for him, Harper was the only one that was clear with this.  However, does it justifies forgetting all the other important aspects of the different programs for that fear alone?  When accepting immigrants, there is a tendency to observe.  First generation immigrants will hold on to the values of their country of origin far more than the 2nd and 3rd generations of immigrants.  This is a constant we have seen countless times.  Observe the conflict the parents have with their children because they don’t want to follow tradition anymore.  Furthermore, sometimes, the influence these children of immigrants have on our society in general are all for the better.  Therefore, to solve the problems we observe and disturb us, is a tough line on immigration the answer?  Is it even that necessary considering that the differences fade out with the passing generations.  Those 2nd and 3rd generation influence positively the different communities of immigrants as well.  Perhaps it’s with the local laws and enforcement where we should focus.

I will always completely agree with standing for our own values which we have as Canadians.  On this, I agree with Harper.  My support however stops there.  I don’t believe however that excluding someone from our country will solve the problem.  You see, the basic problem we’re being faced with here is violence against women.  The niqab is perhaps the most representative symbol of that violence (or at least we perceive it as violence against women).  Then, what we should do is to accompany those women so that they can truly make a choice of their own without the influence of a controlling or violent husband.  And we have countless forms of violence against women in our society where Harper will not want to lift a finger to do something about it.  The aboriginal women problem is one which he’s completely missed the train.  Other forms of violence such as rape or a husband beating his wife are also to be looked at.  Punishing the husband or the rapist goes without saying.  But, we should also perhaps look at preventing these problems in the first place.  This is where Harper is wrong.  He’s basically cutting funding to many programs that would assist these women get a better life.  He’s not focusing on the economy right now, which would make sure these women could get better jobs and be free from those controlling husbands.  He’s not investing in education in making sure women victims of agressions are ready to speak out.

Therefore, Harper is working on your fears right now, not addressing the real problem at the base: violence against women.  In a sense, I’m comforted to see that Canadians are sensitive to the conditions women live in.  This is a sign of a progressive country.  Just don’t be fooled by the Wizard of Oz on this one and consider the problem in a more complex way, not just focussing on immigration, making you believe this is going to solve everything.  It will not.  Perhaps the other parties have a position that is worth considering.  The Green Party has a position that is worth looking into.  Yesterday, Elizabeth May was bang on with her comments saying that the niqab is a false problem and that violence against women was the real problem.  Mulcair was also on the right track.  Harper is for all intents and purposes focusing on immigration right now, leaving aside the essential of the problem.

The Devil you know

When deciding to vote for Harper, I often see that people come up with weird reasons to do so.  However, rarely this is because they really like the guy or like what he’s doing.  It is as if they vote for him because they don’t know what else to do.  They then come up with the following reasons:

  1. It’s the devil you know.  Yes, sometimes, this is a sound approach.  Stop complaining about what you have because the alternative could be worse.  But honestly, we’ve had 10 years to pass a judgement on Harper.  We know he could very well be the devil (especially since 2011 where he got a majority).  This is troubling in a sense.  People are saying let’s vote for Harper, even though he is very mean, because the other guys will be mean as well.  Do you honestly believe this?  Do you honestly think the other guys will be worse?  In another post, I’m talking about the intention of the candidates.  What you need to do is to ask yourself what are the intentions of the candidates.  We all know what Harper wants to do: nothing.  He just wants to stay the course on low taxes, no stimulation of the economy and just hope things will get better.  The other guys at least want to try something.  They are truly concerned for the middle income families and want to see their situation improve.  I don’t know about you but I’m willing to take my chances with the other guys.  I don’t think Harper will improve in a next mandate (especially if he wins a majority).  If all, it’s probably going to be his last mandate and he will not be shy to impose some of his views because he will have no interest for the next mandate.  I think if we get him back, we’re going to see the true colors of this devil and I’m prepared to bet that many Harper supporters won’t like it.
  2. He’s not perfect but he’s done some good things.  Yes, I agree, he is not perfect and no one should be asked to be perfect.  If at all, he is honest and he does what he sais he’s going to do.  Balancing the books and a tight management of the government is not bad either.  Those are the strong points of the guy and I’ll admit it, they are important.  I could not treat anyone considering voting for Harper because of those qualities an idiot.  However, consider this: the good things he’s done, who benefited from it?  Who has the most to gain for corporate tax cuts?  Who wins with income splitting?  Who wins with TFSA?  It’s unfortunately a minority of Canadians, those who have money.  For the rest of us, we didn’t see the benefits of Harper’s measures, quite the opposite.  The maritimes had a hard hit with the employment insurance, so did some other parts of the country.  This was totally unnecessary as there were no funding problems there.  He has deteriorated services Canadians enjoy (Canada Post, public service cuts, veteran affairs, long waiting lists to get access to services from the government) all of which don’t affect the rich but rather people who would need the assistance of those services.  I mean, I’ll give you an example.  If you have money, you won’t have any problem paying someone to pick up your mail at a community box for you.  However, if you have mobility problems and are living on a tight budget, picking up your mail could become a challenge on it’s own.  You see the pattern, he’s always cutting on the back of those who are already struggling to make ends meet.  Therefore, yes, Harper did good things but over all, the good things he’s done don’t benefit the vast majority of Canadians.  Perhaps you will think or have the illusion those measures apply to you.  However, look at how much money he’s saved you.  If you’re like the majority of Canadians, he’s saved you very little money and he’s made sure you have to work harder for your money.
  3. He is the best person for security.  Yes and no.  Yes, in a sense that he’s willing to put in place tighter security and be harder on crime.  No because if we need increased security, I sincerely believe it’s a good part his fault in the first place.  By adopting a tough line on terrorism and hitting the population of other countries, he is just creating more terrorism aimed at us directly.  Don’t get me wrong, terrorism should never be tolerated and each country should say that it won’t tolerate it.  However, is waging war on countries, often creating innocent victims, the best solution?  Terrorism is born from the result of a war.  War don’t solve terrorism at all.  What solves terrorism is to have open communications, be opened to other point of views (without adopting them necessarily) and let the other countries live the way they intend to.  If people are oppressed in other countries, it’s always possible to either provide humanitarian assistance, provide programs that help them settle somewhere else or even have some of them join us over here in Canada.  It’s also possible to adopt economic sanctions on those countries.  Dropping bombs on someone will rarely convince them that they should not come over here to engage in terrorists acts.  You have to let them live the way they intend to and protect populations that might decide to flee or to make a stand.  But you stop there.  Another troubling element for his stand on security is how much he is willing to let go of basic individual freedoms to justify his tough line.  For example, some manifestations could become under his definition illegal acts.  There is a nuance to be made here.  People have the basic right to express themselves and point out elements that they think don’t work in a society.  A gathering of people is not something that should be declared illegal.  If you start with this, then where will you stop afterwards?  It’s a slippery slope that he’s drawn us into and we have to be very careful.
  4. He is the champion for the economy.  Again, yes and no.  To say he is all bad is an overstatement.  However, to declare him champion of the economy is an overstatement as well.  Cutting taxes and trying to put back money in the pockets of people was a good idea in the first place.  However, in his implementation, he’s made critical mistakes.  With him, it’s not what he does but it’s in the way he does things.  You see, cutting corporate taxes was perhaps a good idea.  However, why not make this tax cut conditional on some investment back from those corporations?  Right now, corporations took the tax cut and ran away with it.  He gained nothing.  The cut to the GST was another place where we saw almost no difference.  Whatever he cut, the provinces decided to get back from us.  Granted this move helped the province get funding that they would have otherwise never got if the GST would have stayed at the same level.  However, we didn’t see this money in our pockets.  In his implementation, he has also failed to diversify the economy.  He’s relying too much on the good will of the private sector.  You see, the private sector’s main objective is to make money.  The more money they make, the happier they are.  I would too.  However, they are not preoccupied with the well being of their employees.  They have little gain with this, even if an happy employee is a more productive employee.  They prefer to burn out people, throw them away and get someone else.  Who cares, they have 5 persons willing to come to replace each employee.  He also made one critical mistake: he’s put all is eggs in one basket, oil.  Canada is too dependent on natural resources right now.  It used to be good for a while but now we need to diversify the economy.  It’s perhaps even too late as we speak and this is perhaps his most critical mistake, one that I just can’t forgive him.  On that side of things, he was really bad for the economy.  You see, although he is claiming to be a good manager, he has made critical mistakes, guided by ideology only, that we will all suffer from.
  5. He has a tough line on immigration.  On that aspect, I’ll agree with him.  People who want to come and live here must accept how we live or go somewhere else.  He is completely right to adopt the position he is adopting.  Perhaps, this is one point where I have nothing to say against the guy.  And yes, I think it’s an important point to look at.  People who come live here must not come to destroy our way of life.  We have basic values which we want respected, period.  This is perhaps a point that ties all Canadians in a common cause.  Are the other guys worse?  Well let’s just be faire and say that they don’t do as well as he does right now.  They should perhaps listen to the message Canadians are sending and perhaps change their position on the subject.

Therefore, whatever the reason you decide to vote for Harper, consider the character in all is strong and weak points.  Make sure you vote for him for the right reason.  Perhaps you should take each candidate and assign a score to each point (based on 20) on see who gets the better score.  For example, let me give you my scores:

  1. Devil you know (Harper 14, Mulcair 13, Trudeau 13)
  2. Did good things (Harper 12, Mulcair 14, Trudeau 15) I think Trudeau’s team has the best plan right now
  3. Best Security (Harper 13, Mulcair 12, Trudeau 14)
  4. Champion Economy (Harper 10, Mulcair 11, Trudeau 15) I think Trudeau’s team has the best plan right now
  5. Tough immigration (Harper 16, Mulcair 12, Trudeau 12).

Total : Harper 65, Mulcair 62, Trudeau 69

As you can see, this is a tight race.  But if you wage in the general intention of the candidate towards helping out people, then Harper looses a lot of points.  Therefore, you may agree or disagree with my analysis but when you go voting, ask yourself who have the better intentions towards you.

Why Stephen Harper Must Go

As I’m following the 2015 Federal Election, I can’t help but to be very concerned that some of my fellow citizens are still considering voting for Stephen Harper.  I know telling other people who they should or shouldn’t vote for is an extremely delicate subject.  It’s like telling someone: “you’re wrong!”.  Nobody likes to be told that and I would perfectly understand some of your reactions as you will read this article.  Therefore, in this article, I will not necessarily focus on who to tell you to vote for.  I’ll just try to depict a picture of what is my perception of Stephen Harper and why I’m asking people to seriously think about it before they vote for him.

Therefore, here are some of the reasons why I’m asking people to be very cautious when voting for Harper.

  1. Stephen Harper is not necessarily working for all Canadians equally.  What I mean by this is that Stephen Harper is mostly working for entrepreneurs and business owners.  All the actions he’s taking are oriented in this sense.  In a way, it’s not necessarily a bad policy in itself.  However, he’s pushing it a bit far.  For instance, he’ll tell you that he’s created thousands of jobs.  What he won’t tell you however is the quality of those jobs.  You see, Harper doesn’t like well paid jobs where employees enjoy benefits.  To him, we should be paid for the work we do and just work whenever the employer tells us to do so at his conditions.  We should also be prepared to be laid off at any time and therefore not make any financial commitment.  He likes this kind of approach because it makes the country very competitive.  No benefits means cheaper price to produce commodities and services which we can sell to other countries.  Without any doubts, this means to him that we will then sustain jobs here because we will be competitive.  So far so good.  There is logic in this approach.  Where there is a flaw is with the human factor.  You see, human beings are not machines.  They need to have something to look forward to when they work hard.  They want families and want to enjoy good times.  In Stephen Harper’s mind, this is where we get in the department of the luxury.  To him, being able to have supper with your children and spend time with your families is the least of his concerns.  It’s also the least of his concerns for you to own a house, own a decent vehicle or to have hobbies.  To him, you’re just a part of a big system where you work, go to bed, don’t complain and eventually die.  An if it’s possible for him to make you work as close as possible to your death, it’s all for the better.  Therefore, when you listen to him talking about jobs, ask yourself about the quality of those jobs.  Are those low paid jobs without any benefits with an indecent schedule or are those jobs with a fair salary and leaving you with some time for your family?  I think we all know the answer to this one.
  2. He’s put all his eggs in one basket.  Stephen Harper is far from being dumb.  He’s managed to get elected as Prime Minister of Canada and it’s just not everybody who could do this, period.  However, he has a tendency to over simplify the problems and this is where he gets to be dangerous.  You see, to Stephen Harper, relying on oil only was good enough until it blew up in his face.  Why spend the money and invest in other sectors when we were making good money with oil?  Problem solved, let’s now focus on other elements such as depriving people of their freedom of speech.  That wasn’t the best of strategies to start with.  All good investors will tell you not to bet everything on one horse.  You have to diversify so that other elements can pick up when one goes down.  Stephen Harper just failed to do this.  To him, manufacturing wasn’t even on the radar until the dip in oil prices.  The country was doing good as a whole and that was good enough.  Some regions were having a hard time but that wasn’t something he needed to be concerned about.  The proof: they were no good jobs in the maritimes.  His solution: move to Alberta, we’ve got plenty of jobs over here.  However, what he failed to mention is that there is a cost for a family to do this.  First of all, you have to sell a house that is basically worth nothing and then purchase a house that is worth a fortune in Alberta.  Perhaps you have a good salary but it’s all going to pay for the house and in the end, you’re not better off than you were back home.  You’re just working harder.  Second, moving from one end of the country to the other has impacts on the family.  Kids lose their friends, you see your relatives less frequently and you’re basically adapting to almost another culture.  Now, imagine your reaction when oil prices blow up in your face and you lose your job.  Where is Stephen Harper now?  Where is he to help you?  He is nowhere to be found.  He’s refusing to create a program to assist Alberta in waiting out the storm.  And most insulting, his new friends are now the manufacturing entrepreneurs in Ontario.  I’m telling you, why Albertans still have faith in this man is mind bugling to me.  I don’t understand as to why Albertans are not demanding more from this man.  After all, they have supported the country financially, working countless hours with very little conditions in return, paying for overpriced houses.  And he won’t lift a finger to help them out?  This is just indecent.
  3. Stephen Harper just about destroyed every possible mechanism to properly govern the country.  He’s muzzled scientists, muzzled departments such as Statistics Canada and Environment Canada, cut on different programs to help out the most vulnerable people and cut many important sources of revenue for the government (GST, corporate taxes).  All of this makes it so that today, he’s basically flying blind, entirely guided by ideology and with almost no capacity whatsoever to help jump start the economy.  But hey, all of this was worth it right?  You can now split your income and hope to get peanuts in most of the cases, put money in a TFSA (if you have that money to start with) and you get a nice check in the mail for your kids (but wait, you have to give it back at the end of the year and you lost an important deduction in the process).  In other words, that did you get in return?  I’ll tell you: you got nothing.  The money he’s put back in your pockets is peanuts and you have less services that you used to have (remember all those nice cuts to public service back in 2012).  But the most troubling part is that he’s basically slashed and diced all the tools that could have helped him out in making your lives easier.  He’s left with no money to invest to help out the economy in those times of needs and he doesn’t have information as to where to start.  To him, keeping taxes low will just solve everything magically.  How ignorant does he think we are to believe that?  This is like saying: “the car is working badly right now because the oil level is low.  Therefore, let’s not put any oil in the car and I’m sure that at the next curve, it will get better.”  I mean, obviously it won’t work.  The same goes for the economy.  It’s down right now because we’ve relied on the good will of rich people to invest back (totally not naïve) and they’re not doing so.  The tax break companies enjoyed is just gone.  Flaherty knew it back then so did Mark Carney.  Flaherty tried to get it back in 2013 with the elimination of some tax loopholes but to no avail.  It was too late, the money was just gone.  Companies took the tax break, put it in their pocket and were far too happy not to invest it back.  It’s easy to understand: if you invest back, you will most likely create good jobs in the process.  If you do so, your employees will either leave for those good jobs or demand better conditions.  Do you think it was in their interest to do so?  Asking the question is answering it.  You see, the government has to be a referee.  In other to do it’s job, from time to time, it has to intervene.  I grant you that there is a balance to be obtained here.  However, Harper is clearly at to other end of the spectrum.  Try to play a hockey game against an NHL team.  You try to start your own little team and try to go on the ice against them.  You don’t stand a chance unless the referee or someone with two cents of judgment comes along as says: “stop!  This doesn’t make sense.  Let’s come up with something so that the team of buddies stand a chance.”  You see, we’re the team of buddies and the corporation and the rich are the NHL team.  Harper is in the crowd right now enjoying the show and drinking a beer that we’ve paid him.  You get the picture?  If you have money (when I say money I mean if you could stop working tomorrow morning and still enjoy a decent life), voting for Harper makes sense .  For the rest of us, voting Harper is just making sure that we will eventually just lose whatever we were able to accumulate working like crazy.  Little government is good, no government is just singing your death warrant.  Look elsewhere and try to see where governments just don’t exist if people enjoy good conditions (Sri Lanka, India, Africa).  I don’t know about you but I’d just love to live there right?
  4. Stephen Harper is just obsessed with numbers.  Stephen Harper cares about one thing only: a balanced budget.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, this is far from being dumb.  We all do it.  We all try to set out a budget and respect it.  If we don’t do so, we will just lose everything in the end.  However, there are nuances to be made here.  Let me give you an example.  I could if I wanted draw a budget that would make sure that I enjoy going fishing every week.  Sure, the wife or the kids would have to stay at home doing nothing while I go fishing but my budget would be balanced at the end.  The roof of the house could leak, there could be water infiltration in the basement but my budget could be balanced.  If I’m clever enough, all I have to do is to scare my family with balancing the budget and impose a regime of austerity at home.  Of course, I don’t do that.  What I do instead is consider everybody’s needs and at least consult my wife as to where we will invest our money.  And whatever austerity we will have to come up with will be self-imposed and not dictated by one dictator in the house.  And if we get a hard hit (leaking roof for example), I will not go out and tell the kids to stop eating because we need to pay for the new roof.  What I will do instead is to go out to the bank and borrow the money.  Now, I have to pay pack that loan.  What I will do is perhaps stop going fishing and not get a new car this year until we’ve paid a good part of the loan.  I’ll try to make sacrifices but in the end, I’ll make sure everybody can eat, get dressed and go to school.  I’ll even try to keep a little money for some fun.  Harper is not doing this.  He is quite clever.  He’s scaring all of you with balancing the budget but he’s not telling you what he is sacrificing in the process.  I’ll tell you what he’s sacrificing: well paid jobs.  He’s cutting on public service jobs (we need to cut there but there are better ways to do it).  He’s also cutting on contracts (jobs again) and he’s cutting on investments (look, jobs again).  He’s slashing on culture, health just about everything that doesn’t involve either digging a whole to pump oil or to bake donuts at Tim Horton.  He’s even putting back more money in the pockets of the rich (so they can go fishing more) at the expense of the more vulnerable of the society.  You see, with Stephen Harper, it’s not so much what he does but how he does it.  We all agree on what he’s trying to accomplish.  It’s in everyone’s interest to have good solid public finances.  But ask yourself who is he favoring in his choices?  Ask yourself if it’s the right time to balance books.  By imposing too much austerity, Stephen Harper could do just the opposite of what he’s pretending he’s trying to do.  He could just go out and harm the economy.  On the other end, in the current situation, making modest deficits might be the right thing to do.  Many economists have come forward right now and said that this is the way to go.  This is just not the idea of one contender to the job of Prime Minister.  The roof is leaking right now Stephen.  If you don’t fix it, in the end, it’s going to be much more expensive for fix your mess.  But wait, you will most likely not be there by the time we get to fix your mess.
  5. He just doesn’t know how to control spending.  I mean, clearly he’s controlled spending because the books are practically balanced.  However, he’s done it by asking a part of the population to stop eating.  He’s cut good public service jobs (jobs that could set a standard for other employers) that were important to Canadians, he’s cut on health transfer (provinces now have to chose between education and health to balance their books) and he has cut on several investments.  Like I said before, it’s all in the way he does things.  Instead, here is what he should have done.  First of all, cut public service hours from 37.5 to 35 hours (with the salary adjusted).  This will save money right away.  Put a freeze on public service hiring.  When you have close to 3% attrition rate a year, it doesn’t take long that it counts.  Close public service in the Holidays, except for critical services (passports, inspections, critical stats).  Finally, cut on some conditions such as excessive sick leave and the health plan that is completely paid for.  Over all, we’re talking a cut of roughly 17% over the course of two years.  All of this without a single loss of job and with a small impact on the lives of public servants.  This just aligns public service jobs more with private sector jobs.  There are roughly 260,000 public servants costing an average of 85,000$ each for a grant total of around 22 billions dollars.  Cutting 17% means 3.75 billions dollars without a single loss of job.  Last time he’s cut in 2012, he’s basically cut 20,000 jobs over 280,000 for a grand total of 1.7 billions.  But in the process, we have lost 20,000 jobs and created uncertainty.  Now, losing jobs is part of life some of you will say.  Some of you will say it happens all the time in the private sector so why not in the public sector?  I agree.  However, should we work towards making sure no one enjoys conditions or should we otherwise work at preserving the jobs where we can have some control?  Where we can avoid layoffs, we should avoid them.  We should even take the 3.7 billions we have saved and invest it back in some form of programs that would allow every worker to put aside some money for difficult times.  I haven’t seen Harper come up with this.  Instead, he’s just making sure no one can enjoy job security.  Even worse, he’s putting more pressure on the private sector by eliminating 20,000 clients and creating 20,000 new competitors.  This is just making it worse for everybody.  No one wins.  And I won’t even talk about the Senate and the generous conditions MPs and ministers get to enjoy.  Tell me that there isn’t any room to cut there?  In all the cuts he’s done, he never suggested a single time to cut on the conditions of the members of parliament.  This is just indecent.
  6. He’s attacking basic freedoms and the very basics of democracy.  He’s prevented public servants from talking freely.  He also tried several times to muzzle the supreme court or to intervene in an inappropriate way.  He’s tried to muzzle the budget officer, one of his own creation that just became inconvenient.  He has cut on political parties funding as based from the election results which makes it unfair.  Finally, he’s directly attacked the CBC, Statistics Canada, Environment Canada, reporters and unions, all entities that at some point in time have embarrassed him.  In order for democracy to exist, you need to have independent entities that act as watchdogs.  By suppressing funding for these entities or putting in place laws and rules and regulations, he’s basically making sure Canadians only have his side of the story.  This is extremely dangerous. Throughout history, each dictatorship that was capable of establishing itself was able to do so with the control of information.  How else could you do it?  People fundamentally don’t want to be controlled.  Therefore, you have to make them believe that whatever measures you put in place are in their own interest.  It’s just impossible to do so without absolute control of the information.  He also suspended parliament a few times to avoid being overturned.
  7. He is a one man show.  Just look at all the MPs and important ministers that have decided not to run again.  Need I say more?
  8. He is giving a bad image of Canada.  He’s picking fights with Russia (like this is the idea of the century), aligning unconditionally with Israel, pushing for war, not respecting the UN or the environmental agreements.  He’s tied foreign help to economic interests only.  The loss of the UN seat on the Security Council was major hit for our international image.  He’s done very little for our international image.  Not that is most important but in the end, it will affect how we are perceived and affect our capacity to establish commercial agreements with other countries and partners.  If he had managed to score well on the other points I wouldn’t even be mentioning this but this just adds up to a very long list.  And I’m not even mentioning how he dealt (or lack to deal with) with the Syrians refuges crisis.  I agree with him not to let in just about anyone.  But when a family is fostered by someone already in Canada, there must be a way to meet in the middle here.  Nope, that wasn’t a preoccupation and there was no money to be made there.  Who cares about the faith of poor families?  Well, I did and this is why I wrote this article.

When I look at forums right now, I see people saying that Stephen Harper is not perfect but he did good things for the country.  He’s done good thing but only for a part of the country.  Are you in that part?  The other guys aren’t perfect either.  Now the question you have to ask yourself is that if they are worse then Stephen Harper.  Personally, I don’t think so.  I don’t think do because I believe that they are well intentioned while I don’t think it is the case for Stephen Harper.  When voting on October 19, all that I ask is that you consider this question: how much Stephen Harper is well intentioned towards you?  Good thinking.