Dear group of people who will become the next federal government of Canada, we the struggling class would like you to do something for the votes we are trustingly about to give you in our desperate attempt to sweep aside the current group.
We want you to know that we are in need of your absolute commitment to our wellbeing. We are having a hard enough time meeting all the financial demands to keep maintaining the basics of life placed on us daily.
We want you to know that the reason we can’t take advantage of the current government’s tax-free savings plan, now being increased from the generous $5,500 annually, is that we can’t even save $500 annually. That’s why we don’t go to the movies; that’s why we don’t buy magazines; that’s why we don’t even dare to buy a bunch of flowers to brighten up our homes.
We want you to know that although we understand you would not be in charge of raising the minimum wage, there is much that you can do about taking steps to create a guaranteed annual income program. In addition, we want you to make it your mission to initiate funding that would go to covering dental care within provincial healthcare programs.
We want you to understand that a national affordable housing program is one of our priorities. We would like you to send a message to the provincial governments that your group of politicians is prepared to do whatever it takes to ensure funding for tertiary education, as it has become an absolute necessity in today’s economy.
We would like you to develop a living wage bill that addresses the new working economy of part-time, short-term contract and self-employed workers.
Another thing: it’s well past time to stop playing games with the native peoples of this land.
We, who are on the outside of things political, do not understand what mysterious transformation takes place once human beings are elected, but it happens time and again. Whatever it is, we need you to not follow that well-beaten path of shoring up private interests and kowtowing to powerbrokers, but instead to just have a heart and not just be decent people but take the actions that speak of decent, honourable people. Give real meaning to the term “public servant”.
We know it must be difficult to stay in touch with the day-to-day realities of this country’s growing underclass, so we advise you to have in place a model for maintaining honest and meaningful two-way communication with this large and growing population.
After a decade of tax cuts and measures that signal disregard, if not complete disdain for the working poor in this country, we need a group in Ottawa that will restore some goodwill.
If, however, your only goal would be to have power, then we will have to find another way to bring fairness and balance to this country. Political parties come and go, the life of each party will depend on how well it serves the best interests of all the people. We have had a decade-long experience of a government for some of the people. It’s time for a different model.
A note on hope and disaster…
For some time now boatloads of people have been leaving the northern shores of Africa bound for Europe. People believing in the story of a better life in Europe have been risking their lives to make that story a reality in their own lives. That optimism, or was it desperation, was what apparently led a reported 700 migrants to their death in yet another recent attempt to cross over into Europe, heading as they were toward the Italian coastal town of Lampedusa. The report is that when many moved to the side of their boat from which they could see an approaching commercial ship, their boat became unbalanced by the shift in weight and capsized. Although they depart from the shores of northern Africa, most of these migrants come from the central and southern continental region. The stories of Europe and North America being the lands of prosperity have attracted people for generations. Yet, at what cost?
Pat Watson is the author of the e-book, In Through a Coloured Lens. Twitter@patprose.