"The test of serious moral commitment to the family is a willingness to spend public money. Effective child protection, universal access to health care, affordable child care, first-rate primary and secondary education - these are the building blocks of the protective arch that society must raise over its families. This institutional arch doesn't come cheap, but those exponents of family values who won't stump up for it are just engaging in cheap talk." - Michael Ignatieff (1)We are in serious trouble in this country. We have had five years of the worst possible excuse for a government, and if we don't smarten up, we will have another five years, if there's still a country left to govern.
But this is not the opposition's fault. At least not entirely. And we can't even put the blame completely on the media, many of whom live in fear.
We have been attacked by a powerful enemy, that no one was really prepared for, though we should have been. Michael Ignatieff gave a lecture at the University of Toronto in 1998, and he said then that the worst a progressive society could do, would be to ignore the threat of neoconservative.
Conservative strategist Dalton Camp said the same thing. But we thought we were immune. Boy, were we wrong.
However, it's too late to whine over how Stephen Harper was able to take complete control of our country, and has everyone living in fear. It's now time to put our heads together and figure out how we are going to change things.
In Linda McQuaig's column yesterday she spoke of the audacity of Harper's chest thumping over his imagined accomplishments, including "saving us" from a legitimate child care plan.
But then she goes on to blame much of the problem on the opposition, referring to them as "meek". This attitude suggests that it's really not Harper's fault. I remember a day when blaming the government meant blaming the government. Now it means blaming others, and excusing our government for the problems they have created.
It’s worth pausing for a moment to marvel at how Harper has managed for five years to get away with this sort of ludicrous, misleading, deceptive statement. Rather than showing disrespect for parents, a government child-care program — like the ones common in Europe and Quebec — is the only way to provide millions of Canadian parents access to decent child care.
By setting up a public program paid for through taxes, we can bring down costs and ensure high quality, thereby providing a vital service for people unable to afford it privately. In cancelling the child-care program upon taking office and replacing it with a $100-a-month payment to parents of young children, Harper was throwing a tasty bone to conservatives who believe a woman’s place is in the home. But he risked alienating the vast majority of Canadians who no longer live in the Father Knows Best patriarchical world of the 1950s.
Michael Ignatieff has stated that he wants a national childcare plan to be his legacy. Many in the media scoffed while the Harperites cried cocka-doodle-do, or something like that. They spew such nonsense I rarely pay attention.
But constantly blaming the opposition only makes us part of the problem. We need to become part of the solution. If there's money for fighter jets, prisons and corporate tax cuts, then dammit there's money for social programs, things we need far more.
Michael Ignatieff says that he's ready to fight for the Canada we love. Are you?
1. The Rights Revolution: CBC Massey Lectures, By: Michael Ignatieff, Anansi, ISBN: 978-0-88784-762-2, pg. 111