The results of the election on May 2 should shake people out of a long stupor.
Sixty per cent of the Canadians voted against the Conservatives yet Prime Minister Stephen Harper was given the privilege of governing – the party is now free to implement its agenda without opposition.
As the governing group, the Conservatives now have the privilege of passing legislation on several fronts without the opposition they had during their “minority” term in office.
The election proved once again that Canadians have short memories and that they don’t think too deeply about who will govern them.
In his victory, speech Harper promised to represent all Canadians, even those who didn’t vote Conservative. He also said, “… we intend to move forward with what Canadians understand about us and I think what they’re more and more comfortable with.”
So what can we expect?
There will be ongoing cuts to corporate taxes and transfer payments. Large corporations will be the big beneficiaries and Jack Layton and his NDP crew will scream loudly about the cuts, but he’ll be shouting in the wind.
Health care transfers to the provinces will continue to be increased by six per cent per year until 2014 and during that time, private health services will be likely be allowed to grow and undermine medicare.
The war on crime will result in more prisons being built and more felons put behind bars for longer terms.
The long-gun registry will disappear along with the Canadian Wheat Board.
The government subsidy for political parties will cease, leaving them to fend for themselves to fund their future campaigns.
Refugees who choose to arrive on Canada’s shores by boat will be subjected to new laws in an effort to discourage them from choosing Canada as a safe haven.
The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and Europe will be completed and signed in 2012. Whether it will be debated in the House of Commons prior to its signing is unknown.
The discussions to date have been held in secret. CETA will affect every village, town and city in Canada yet their representatives have not been involved in the negotiations. Fears are that the agreement will be worse than the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) signed by Brian Mulroney.
The security perimeter deal with the United States will be signed.
A new fleet of 65 fighter jets will be purchased from a single source. During the election campaign it was announced that the purchase price did not include the engines.
Dirty energy will continue to be promoted and the Enbridge pipeline will be likely be given approval. Within a decade oil tankers could be plying B.C.’s coast.
There are a multitude of other things that could occur in the next four years. Will there be deep cuts in spending to balance the budget by 2015?
Will Canada continue to look to the United States for direction on greenhouse gas emissions control? What initiatives will the government take to grow the economy?
Will childcare, poverty and the homeless be discussed? Will Canada’s water resource be protected from export?
The democratic responsibilities of Canadians didn’t end on May 2 at 10 p.m. They have the right and the responsibility to be involved. The job of holding the government accountable does not fall strictly to the NDP, Elizabeth May or the remaining Liberals. Everyone has a stake in what happens and their contribution matters.
During the next four years the task will be to protect the laws, rights and services that make Canada a special place to live.
Maude Barlow, president of The Council of Canadians says the work will be hard and it will take a great deal of courage, but she believes there is no more important work to be done.
– Roy Ronaghan is a columnist for the Grand Forks Gazette