Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Good News: It's a New Year - the Bad News: Expect More of the Same

Best wishes to everyone in 2013. I would like to express my hope that all will enjoy a prosperous 12 months ahead, but given both domestic and international realities, I know that will not be the case for many.

This, despite the self-congratulatory tone Stephen Harper frequently strikes when talking about how Canada is doing so well vis-vis the rest of the world. Yesterday, this boast was placed in its proper context by The Globe's Lawrence Martin, who offers the following observation:

If Canada’s doing well compared with other well-functioning economies, it’s something to boast about. But if the barometer is basket cases, let’s not get out the pompoms. It’s no great measure of success.

He points out, for example, that only a half-point separates our unemployment rate (7.2%) from that of the United States (7.7%).

Martin suggests that our real economic state is hidden:

We have a manufacturing sector that’s in steady decline, leaving an economy overly dependent on staples and their price fluctuations. It’s chiefly our natural resource endowments that have helped us outperform others. Should we pat ourselves on the back for that? What country, blessed with such abundances, couldn’t have done the same?

His piece goes on to adumbrate our myriad failures both internationally and domestically, a few of which I reproduce below:

- On climate change, this great green land has taken on the reputation (Liberal governments share the blame) of a black sheep.

- In regard to first nations, the acute adversities find little alleviation.

- We left Afghanistan with our mission mostly unaccomplished. We now witness the F-35 muck-up.

- On foreign affairs, our long-time open-minded country is now steering closer to a path of unilateralism. Our self-righteousness is striking, and we’ve become a United Nations basher.

- While other jurisdictions move progressively on criminal justice, we renew our emphasis on incarceration. While other jurisdictions move to decriminalize soft drugs, we maintain a war on them.

Martin ends his piece by reminding us of how much our beloved democracy has suffered under the Harper cabal. It does not take a long memory to recall unnecessary omnibus bills, parliamentary prorogation, and the contempt shown both inside and outside of parliament for those who dare disagree with the Tory agenda.

I am well past the age where I make New Years' resolutions, but my resolve is the same as it has been since 2006, when these renegades first came to power: to do everything I can to inform as many as possible about the true nature of this government, and to encourage as many as possible to engage or reengage in the political process.

May it be a productive year.