Monday, February 9, 2009

Harper - Dismantling The Nanny State

Its no secret that Stephen Harper is not a big fan of Canada's social safety net, in fact its a matter of public record. A previous entry here made note of several Harper quotes, available on line via CTV. Among them were a couple of gems:
A welfare state? Okay...I guess, depending on one's perspective. Personally, like many other Canadians, I am proud that our country attempts to look after its citizens through socialized programs like Health Care, Employment Insurance and the Canada Pension Plan...among many others. That doesn't mean I don't understand those who share Harper's view. There are many in this country who find our social safety net cumbersome, expensive and ultimately a barrier to greater prosperity. Its not a view I share however, and I suspect even Stephen Harper realizes that to campaign on a plan to dismantle our social programs would give him zero hope of ever attaining a mandate strong enough to begin acting on his true agenda.

The Toronto Sun recently published excerpts from soon to be published memoirs by Gerry Nicholls, a colleague of Harper's from his days with Canada's National Citizens Coalition (some coalitons are okay), the title "Loyal To The Core: Stephen Harper, Me, and the NCC". Included is this little snippet wherein Nicholls writes of Harper's decision to go back into politics and the reason why:
But how do you dismantle social programs that took years to establish? Pierre Trudeau is largely credited with establishing and/or strengthening our national social programs. But it didn't happen overnight, and it didn't come cheaply. Canadians carry a substantial tax burden, the cost of looking after the weakest and most vulnerable members of society, and ensuring a minimum base standard for all Canadians.

That doesn't mean Harper and company haven't been working at eroding the foundation however, and that foundation is our system of taxation which funds our social programs. By lowering the GST by 2 points the Conservatives have weakened the national treasury to the tune of billions of dollars. Individually it only adds up to a penny or two saved here and there...unless you're regularly making purchases in the tens of thousands of dollars. I know there are some out there who do buy new cars worth $50,000 or more every year among other luxury items.

Were I lucky enough to be in that economic strata I might like Harper's plan. social conscience and morals would still get in the way. But if I were self centred to such an extent that I only cared about myself and viewed others as leeching off of my get the idea.
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By wiping out the surpluses previous Liberal governments had operated on, Harper has undercut our national government's ability to even maintain the national programs on which so many Canadians rely, programs upon which many of us base our national identity...We're not the United States, we look after ALL of our citizens! Yes I know it ain't perfect, but it sure as hell beats a user pay system with no minimum standards.

The current economic crisis has allowed Harper to further pursue his agenda. By instituting tax-cuts in the most recent budget the Tories are further hamstringing Ottawa's ability to play an active role in the social welfare of the Canadian people. We'll be racking up over $100 billion in deficit spending over the next 5 years, a lot more if Flaherty's record of forecasting is any indication...and when this crisis is over we're going to be left with one hell of a bill.

Every tax dollar that is spent on servicing the national debt is a tax dollar lost that could be used to fund programs like Health Care, Education, Welfare, Disability, Old Age Supplement...its a long list. And therein lies Harper's chance at success in fulfilling his mission, seeing that his children don't grow up in 'socialist country'. If Canadians ever give Stephen and his Conservatives a majority none of our children will be growing up with the social programs relied upon by all. Better hope those tax cuts can fill the void in a new User-Pay Canada.

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