Have we already forgotten what they died for?

Regardless of political stripe, there is one thing that unites almost every Canadian: We work damn hard for our paycheque. Some of us have three, four, even five jobs and can still barely scrape a decent living because at the end of the day most of what we earned for our blood, sweat, and tears has been taken by the government in the form of taxes. A lot of us can’t even find jobs to begin with. People are lining up at the poorhouse while our government drops millions on a fake lake. Hundreds of thousands are out of a job and the government drops $1 billion on security for the G20 summit; untold dollars more for their photo-ops. They’ll naturally have us believe they’re for fiscal responsibility.

Now, I’m not unreasonable. For our society to function, we need to pay taxes. Taxes pay for our essential services. Taxes are meant to go towards paying for a strong and proud military that defends our people. Taxes are meant to go towards paying for roads and highways to facilitate travel and trade. Taxes are meant to pay for police departments, fire departments, schools, and hospitals. But what happens when our taxes our wasted? Who is held accountable? Apparently nobody.

Recently in the House of Commons, the supposed backroom deal the Conservative government made with the US that would synchronize our immigration, border security measures, and more was being discussed. It would create a North American perimeter and essentially all but erase the border with the US. Now, on paper, it seems lovely that the Canadian government would run hand-in-hand with the American government through a field of posies and they’d have an equal and fair negotiation, but let’s snap back to reality. Who is the larger partner of the two? The United States has about ten times our population and about ten times our economy. In this “partnership”, if it can even be called that, the United States would –undoubtedly- dictate the terms, just as they dictate the terms to us on every other issue. Effectively what it amounts to is Washington deciding who can and cannot come in through our borders. That’s the American government deciding how things are run in OUR country.

Little by little, every day, this country’s democracy and sovereignty are being eroded by this government. When Ignatieff dared to question the parliamentary secretary to the minister of the environment, Mark Warawa, about the agreement (how dare he!) and pointed out how this would erode our sovereignty, instead of answering the question and addressing the issue, Warawa replied with a BS obfuscation and reiterated the government’s goals at the Cancun UN climate change negotiations. Mr. Ignatieff rightfully demanded a real, direct answer to the question when Public Safety Minister Vic Toews stepped in and quipped “I can only speak to the facts, and that is that all Canadians win from increased co-operation, national safety and protection with the Leader of the Opposition’s homeland”, making reference to Mr. Ignatieff’s life of academia outside of the country.

When you punch in at the time clock to put in another 12 hour day, just to have most of your paycheque vanish in a wisp of smoke, remember it goes to buffoons like Warawa and Toews who refuse to do their job and directly and honestly answer questions directed to them on the floor of the House of Commons. It’s your sovereignty and democracy being eroded and you’re paying the crooks to do it. They’re taking hundreds of thousands of your hard-earned tax dollars in pay and they refuse do their job as parliamentarians. It’s a telling sign of the times when a government gets to be this arrogant that they can not only kill bills in the Senate without debate or consideration, but actually refuse to give direct, meaningful replies to an honest and legitimate question or gotten so arrogant that it prorogues Parliament at will in order to stay in power.

Who will hold Toews and Warawa accountable? Nobody. The status quo will continue unfettered because Ignatieff – the only person with any real power to put a stop to this madness – refuses to budge. He’ll continue barking to put on a show, but he won’t do any biting because he’s just as complicit as the rest of them, whether through design or political cowardice. If Mr. Ignatieff really cared that much about the civil liberties of Canadians, he would be donning war paint, ready to challenge our government and bring it down, politically speaking. That’s his job that we also pay him our hard-earned money to do and he’s not doing it. It’s time that Canadians finally arise from their political slumber and let politicians know they get paid by hard-working folks like us and we expect them to carry out their work with diligence, accuracy, honesty, and cooperation. We should not tolerate juvenile partisan attacks in our most sacred House of Commons from any party.

Here in Thunder Bay, our own New Democrat MP Bruce Hyer has introduced legislation M-597 that aims to increase cross-party cooperation to help make our House of Commons a more productive place (now that’s tax dollars well-spent!). It used to be that the House of Commons was a place for legitimate debate based on differing opinions and ideology, not a possible future venue for the WWE’s next cage match. It really speaks loudly which party is interested in this sort of cooperation and productivity. Canadians need to get beyond believing there is some sort of dichotomy of Liberal Party versus Conservative Party. There are far better options and your vote will not be wasted on a party with lesser support. Your vote will do more damage if you vote for a party full of crooks that will drag this country in the mud all in the name of corporations that want to steal your hard-earned taxes from our elected government. If you don’t vote, you will only maintain the status quo. If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain about what the government does. You had a chance to help make this country better and passed it up.

Conservative Canadians need to realize their party is not working for them. I once considered myself a Conservative Party supporter. I bought into Harper’s rhetoric. I loved his message of Arctic sovereignty, defending Canada’s shores from the Red Soviet horde who were waiting with grim, moustachioed faces from behind a snow bank for an opportunity to send a Tupolev, undetected, to wipe out Baker Lake, Nunavut. But anyone with two neurons to rub together can see these words are empty. Harper will spend billions on military hardware in the Canadian Arctic, in the name of defending our sovereignty, but give the keys to 24 Sussex to his American business friends.

I am a big believer in working with our closest ally. We SHOULD cooperate on these sorts of measures. But ask yourself why these negotiations had to have been done behind closed doors and why can’t we have a legitimate debate over their merits? Surely if the idea was worth its salt, it would stand the tests of fire in the House of Commons. If we want security, increased trade, and more, I don’t think there’s a red-blooded Canadian opposed to the idea. But do we really want that at a cost of our sovereignty; at the cost of our beloved Canada? Do we really want to give up control over our domestic affairs to a foreign country?

Minister Toews thinks you don’t deserve a straight answer to that question, by his conduct in the House of Commons, and is all too glad to receive his generous pay and benefits on your dime. If you find that sort of arrogance acceptable from him and other politicians like him, by all means, vote Conservative. Whatever, you do, get informed and vote. Now, more than ever, our country requires the due diligence of the Canadian people to exercise their democratic right. We honoured fallen Canadian soldiers a month ago. Have we already forgotten what they died for?

Kyle Pereira

The opinions expressed by readers are those of the author.