(www.ARPACanada.ca – June 2011 – M Penninga) Regardless of what one thinks about the Conservative Party and Stephen Harper, the very nature of a stable majority government that identifies itself with conservative principles should mean that Canadians can expect to see changes to our governance. But as with all things in life, much more will be accomplished when goals are set and accountability is in place to keep the goals front and centre. Over the next four years, at least 10 noteworthy steps can be taken by our nation if our leaders have the courage to lead and if citizens give them the encouragement and accountability to do so.
The Harper Conservative government could very realistically…
1) Give Aboriginals the responsibility and hope that belongs to all Canadians: Many in our nation have bought into the lie that having First Nation’s ancestry entitles someone to a status of victimhood. The CBC has devoted years to cultivating this victimhood mentality, and politicians have not had the courage to challenge it (ironically it has been the Liberal party that showed some leadership on this issue in past decades). The sad reality is that the group this is harming most are the First Nations themselves. The many social problems among the First Nations (such as poor health, addictions, suicide, and unemployment) won’t change if we think that more money and more statements of regret for the past is the solution. Apologies have been made, and last year a group of aboriginals made a powerful witness in publicly offering forgiveness. It is time to move forward. As with all Canadians, our government should encourage individual responsibility by promoting employment, requiring accountability for all funds, getting rid of the reserve system, and treating all races equally under the law. Rather than suppressing the First Nations, this will give them hope for a future that is much brighter than the past century.
2) Reform the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC): It is mind-boggling that the Conservative government hasn’t yet done anything to reign in the CHRC. Voices from across the political spectrum have realized that basic freedoms (especially speech, religion, and expression) are being trampled by the commission and tribunal. Threats of human rights complaints have created a climate of fear in our land where few dare to publicly oppose anything politically correct lest they be fined for hurting someone’s feelings. Go to www.HumanRightsCommissions.ca (an initiative of ARPA Canada) for a list of 30 problems with the HRC’s. It can’t be argued that the Conservative government would not have public support to do something soon. The mainstream media has been very critical of the HRC’s, with almost every big newspaper writing against them. A Liberal MP in the last Parliament had the courage to introduce a private members motion asking that the CHRC be reformed. And when the CHRC paid $50,000 to its own hand-picked “expert” to give the appearance of looking into the many accusations against it, even he concluded that the CHRC has serious problems. Provinces are beginning to enact reforms, with Saskatchewan getting rid of its tribunal completely. What is holding the Conservative government from making real changes to the federal commission/tribunal and code that gives it so much power?
3) Appoint Supreme Court Judges who respect their role as being under the law: The Supreme Court has been perhaps the most influential arm of government in Canada since the Charter was made a part of our constitution. The Prime Minister has the authority to choose new Supreme Court judges when they retire or have to leave office. As it stands, it looks like at least six of the nine judges will need to be replaced in the next four years. That means the entire make-up of the Court could be changed. Conservatives have long recognized the activist nature of some of the Supreme Court judges – “reading in” rights that don’t actually exist and forcing governments to make new laws. Now is the time to appoint judges who understand that their role is to interpret the law rather than create the law. The primary standard for selecting new judges ought to be ability rather than appeasing interest groups who want a specific race, gender, or ability to speak both official languages. This will have a lasting impact on our nation. That said, one of the reasons why the Supreme Court has had such an influential role is because Parliament has conveniently allowed the Court to make decisions on issues that it preferred not to address. Parliament could do more…if it is courageous enough.
4) Reduce spending, shrink government, and decrease our debt: Our debt has ballooned in the past two years, under a Conservative government. 11 cents out of every dollar the federal government spend goes towards interest from our debt. That is about 80 million dollars per day wasted on interest payments. We are stealing from future generations by demanding services and goods today that we can’t afford. By definition a “conservative” government believes in minimal government interference in society and encouraging other institutions to fulfil their respective responsibilities. A majority government has the ability to make deep cuts to government agencies and social programs and thereby remind Canadians of our responsibility in caring for those around us. Canadians will always ask for more handouts. We need a government that is strong enough to say no.
5) Drop the “ism” from Environment: Stewardship requires astute care for our land, water, air, vegetation, and animals. It does not require bowing down to the religion of environmentalism and its chief doctrine of “climate change.” The climate will continue to change as certainly as dogs bark and fish swim. “Climate Gate” was only the tip of the iceberg for exposing the self-serving and empire-building motives behind much of the climate change rhetoric. Billions of tax dollars have been wasted on inefficient technology, ideological brainwashing, and appeasing our guilty consciences for the sin of carbon. Surely a conservative government can stop paying lip service to this new religion and be devoted to stewardship rather than climate change. This requires more than good stewardship policies. It also requires shifting the Overton Window by publicly challenging the climate change rhetoric and the ideology behind it.
6) Come up with a good prostitution law: Although the act of prostitution is legal in Canada, everything around it is prohibited (i.e. pimping, soliciting, living off the avails, keeping a brothel, etc.). The laws are commonly ignored in establishments across the country. In 2010 an Ontario Superior Court struck down Canada’s laws against prostitution. This is in the process of being appealed. The question is, will our federal government decide to let the courts call the shots, or will it come up with a good law? It is Parliament’s mandate to do this, but as with abortion, Parliament can sometimes be too afraid to take on a controversial issue after the courts have struck down the existing laws. There is an undeniable connection between prostitution and human trafficking, and trafficking increases where prostitution has been legalized. In addition, prostitution condones the objectification of human sexuality, leads to increased breakdown of marriage and the family, and is by its very nature harmful. Countries like Sweden have been able to enact laws with much more positive outcomes than places where it is legalized. Canada needs to study the evidence and make a new law against prostitution.
7) Take an incremental approach to abortion laws: Canada is the only country in the developed world without a law on abortion. When the Supreme Court struck down our abortion law in 1988, the judges said it was Parliament’s job to come up with new legislation. To add to this, polls consistently show that a majority of Canadians would support abortion laws. Yet Stephen Harper has promised to not touch the issue. As a result of our county’s choice, 100,000 children die every year in Canada through abortion. Part of the problem is that the pro-life community itself is divided, with some continually opposing efforts to introduce laws because the legislation does not go far enough and ban all abortions. With a government in fear of the issue, a vicious media, and a divided pro-life community, is there any hope? Yes. Incremental steps can be taken in Canada to make abortion more difficult, increase awareness of the harm it causes, and limit the time at which a woman can have an abortion. MPs are willing to introduce private member’s bills that would advance this, just as Rod Bruinooge did with Roxanne’s law. Now the pro-life community has to rally around these brave MP’s with 100% support. And the government must allow a frank and open discussion about this, as the Supreme Court called for.
8) Allow Income Splitting for tax purposes: Canadian families that have one spouse stay at home and the other work pay far more taxes for the same amount of income than homes where both spouses work. As a result, in an era where it is already difficult to have a stay-at-home spouse, the financial burden is even greater. The Conservatives pledged during the most recent election campaign to introduce income splitting when they balance their budget. That is to be commended. An Ontario party has already promised to one-up this should they be elected. This is a great example of how leadership with a good initiative sparks increased willingness from other leaders to do the same. Now we have to make sure that these promises come to fruition.
9) Increase the fertility rate now to avoid a demographic winter soon: Canada’s fertility rate has increased slightly in recent years, but it is still only 1.6, which is far below the 2.1 needed to replace our population. When Canada was founded, our fertility rate was close to 7 children per woman! As a result of our low fertility rate our population is quickly aging. This is putting huge pressure on our economy and welfare state, especially public health care and pensions. Even worse, it is translating into increased pressure on the elderly to justify their expense in a world that is eagerly looking towards state-condoned suicide. Policy initiatives can affect fertility rates. Abortion alone removes 100,000 children from our population every year. But they are not enough to reverse the trend. What is really needed is a change in thinking about the value of human life, especially children. The civil government’s policies on marriage, divorce, parenting, and adoption will either encourage strong families (which in turn will lead to a strong nation) or promote individualism, group rights, and social experimentation. Universal childcare and early-learning programs are sold as family-friendly but actually have a net result of discouraging children because the goal is often quality of life for adults rather than children.
10) Listen to European nations that are telling us that multiculturalism is a failure: Multiculturalism is not about celebrating our varied ethnic heritages. We all welcome that. Rather it is a government policy that says that all cultures are welcome here as equal and don’t have to subscribe to a core group of tenets. Europe’s leaders have gone on record in recent months calling multiculturalism a failure. They are experiencing the problems of not having a shared set of values. When worldviews like Islam are using the riches of the West (such as freedom and the rule of law) to overthrow these very riches, we end up destroying our foundations. Canada needs to have the courage to say that if a would-be immigrant is not willing to respect and uphold the values that made this country strong and free then they are not welcome. Freedom is too precious to sacrifice to political correctness.
Just how realistic are these goals? Even MPs who privately agree with these ideals will often balk at actually taking steps to accomplish them. We are often told that Canada isn’t ready yet – society has to change first. In response we need to respectfully remind our MPs that they are leaders, not followers. They are called to serve this country for good, not for political favour. One of the reasons why it has been so difficult to advance goals like these is that too many of our leaders have lacked courage. When some speak up, others will be more willing to join them. The next time a Conservative MP tells you that now is not the time to talk about multiculturalism or abortion, ask them when the time will come. If a Conservative majority is not enough, what exactly are they waiting for? A dynasty? Why have they pursued office if they will just follow the status-quo?
Our tone should not be negative – these are opportunities to do great good. We can offer to help out. And when they call us to help we have to be there. It can be easy to criticize from the side-lines. Actually making the hard decisions in a secular context is not easy. It requires compromise and patience, something that we have to be understanding of.
Please be in touch with your MP soon, asking him or her to take on these goals with zeal. You can use ARPA’s Easy Mail program to send a pre-made or customized letter to your MP in minutes. Even better, use this summer break to take them out for coffee or lunch to discuss these ideas. This allows for a relationship to be built that can be followed-up on in the years to come.
Canada is a democracy – let’s speak up!