Walking by Canada’s Parliament buildings at night, they look so quiet and peaceful. You might smile at them, fondly. They are like a sleeping puppy; you can’t imagine why you’d ever be mad at them. Then you turn on Question Period some time (likely by accident, be honest) see everyone is shouting at each other, have a hard time believing anything is getting done, and … well there is likely a “doghouse” joke somewhere in here, but we’ll leave that sort of thing to Peter MacKay.
At any rate, today marks the return of Parliament, such as it is. The Conservatives could have decided to start things off on a classy foot. Instead, they launched a handful of attack ads against Liberal leader Stephane Dion, while insisting that of course we are not going to have an election anytime soon! We’ve also got the Liberals trying to paint themselves green, the Greens trying to paint themselves pro-choice, the NDP jockeying for position everywhere, and the Bloc trying to more or less stay out of it.
CUPE is hoping that progressive policy doesn’t get buried in all of this. We’re going to do our best to ensure it doesn’t. We’ve got some things we’d like to see come out of this session:
Long-term funding framework developed to ensure that municipal taxation powers match program and service responsibilities and allow municipalities to plan for strong public services and strong communities.
The passing of the NDP’s national child care act that lays the foundation for a cross-Canada child care program.
Enforcement of the Canada Health Act - withhold funding to provinces allowing private clinics and other violations.
Real solutions to healthcare waitlists, not privatization in the guise of care guarantees.An increase in the minimum wage
Affordable and accessible post-secondary-education
The upholding of the New Deal for Cities and Communities
The additional $400 million per year targeted in Bill C-48, the 2005 budget amendment act, to improve public transit
Existing infrastructure programs renewed and agreements revised to remove incentives for privatization
Reversal of the cuts to Status of Women Canada and the Court Challenges Program
For Harper’s Conservative government to not use federal infrastructure dollars to force for-profit public services on communities
The refusal of this Parliament to pass a disastrous budget of tax-cuts and reduced public spending.
If the Conservatives can’t find a political ally to pass their March 20th budget, we’ll be back at the polls before you know it. But we hope the next election doesn’t turn into a meaningless content-free campaign contest, wherein everyone makes sure not to miss a single unflattering picture or verbal gaffe of any of the candidates. We’d like to instead use this period for meaningful discussion and new ideas. Let’s not embarrass ourselves trying to embarrass each other. We’d rather discern where the parties stand on the real issues of the day.