Saturday, October 24, 2015

On The Restoration Of Canada's Soul And Other Matters

There is a series of excellent letters in today's Star that I hope you will take time to read. I am reproducing the first two dealing with what the ejection of Harper means for Canada; the third, about the long-form census, is followed by a link to an As It Happens interview with Munir Sheik, the former chief statistician for Statistics Canada who quit over a matter of integrity and principle. Sheik talks about why a return to the mandatory long-form census is crucial if we are to have data that can be relied upon.
The dismissal of Stephen Harper and his Conservative government provides welcome and palpable relief for those Canadians they tried to browbeat, bully and frighten into submission. This election, more than any other in the past 40 years was about soul of our nation. Canadians came down squarely on the side of decency, fairness and inclusivity as the moral foundations of political leadership.

Mr. Harper now understands that federal democratic governments are not in power to abuse it. They are not there to frighten, intimidate and shut up our nation’s researchers and scientists; they are not there to value the lives of first nation women less than others; nor to marginalize and badmouth all refugees while ostracizing the physicians, nurses and others who care for them.

They are there to govern with respect and inclusion for all in this country. Bullying those Canadians whose opinions differ from theirs became the nasty, bulldozing hallmark of the Conservatives under the stamp of Harper. Thankfully, it is now this belligerence and oppositional defiant government behaviour that Canadians rejected.

I suspect the same feeling of release and relief is being felt by many across Canada today. Mr. Trudeau was bang on in his post election conversation with Canadians. Sunnier days!

Dr. Paul Caulford, Toronto

It’s not a new Canada as the Star’s Tuesday headline suggests. It’s still the same old Canada: relatively progressive and open-minded. But back to the future? Not quite.

Almost a decade of Harper’s rule failed to destroy this nation. His attempts to turn us into a country of fear, hate and discrimination didn’t work, as Monday’s results demonstrated. Despite its imperfections, the first-past-the-post system served us well.

And yet again the NDP’s move to the right cost them dearly and, as happened here in Ontario last year, they paid the price. When Canadians want change they vote for it, as they did last spring in Alberta and nationally on Monday.

Although I don’t expect a full-fledged just society to emerge under Trudeau the Younger, he does have a golden opportunity to restore Canada’s tattered reputation on the global stage, while jump-starting our economy through a welcome dose of Keynesian stimulus spending.

Where Canada goes now is up to the Liberals. They can start by following through on the promises that won them the election.

Andrew van Velzen, Toronto

On the same day as Prime Minister Trudeau is sworn in, he should instruct StatsCan to restore the mandatory long-form census, if possible in time for the 2016 census. This simple action would be widely popular, would help the economy, and won’t need legislation.

No single action taken by the Canadian government led by Mr. Harper has been so thoroughly discredited and condemned as making the long-form census voluntary. Manufacturers and marketers, property developers and professors, cities and school boards have repeatedly pointed to the serious economic and social damage caused by not having this data available. If Mr. Trudeau wants to signal that he is serious about creating real change, perhaps the best way to start is by making it clear that this parliament will use data, and not ideology, to make decisions, policies, and laws.

Howard Goodman, Toronto

Click here for Munir Sheik's thought on the census.

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