THUNDER BAY, ON ---- April 9, 2011 --- It was a sobering thought - and this being the weekend, the fewer of those the better - when the early morning bus driver mentioned that he had been reading this column on-line and sincerely appreciated my take on the election. This in turn amplified a little voice that I have been doing my best to ignore, which is that I can't just write things like ...
Ottawa (wire) - Prime Minister Harper today denied wearing the uniform of an SS Major to the 2010 Conservative Party Hallowe'en Party. "Don't be ridiculous," snarled PMO spokesman Ron Ziegler III, "The Prime Minister would never be seen as any rank beneath Field Marshal."
That sort of nastiness is fun for me and fun for you, providing 'you' aren't Stephen Harper; and I think we both know you aren't. As much villainous pleasure as I get out of that kind of thing, I do actually owe you some dinner before the dessert.
Furthermore, my email in-box and Facebook messages have been filled with growing numbers of good, hard-working people feeling turned off by the over-all election coverage. If they're feeling turned off now, just wait for what happens when the polls start to turn (current averages: CPC: 39 LPC: 30 NDP: 16) and the Tories start to not just throw mud, but mud with ground glass inside.
That is the hidden 'advantage' of negative campaigning. Make the rational people go away and hide, leaving just the yahoos and knuckle-draggers to whoop their way to the polls.
My duty is to stop the madness.
So, let's look at what the Big Three parties would actually do if elected. I'm going to break the issues down into general categories of Family, Jobs, Environment, Health Care and Defence. A) those are the big ticket budget items. B) the polls tell us that those are your chief interests.
I'm going to go straight to the Party websites and condense for you exactly what they themselves say on these topics. And yes, I'm going to grade the responses, because in all candor, if I can affect your vote, I will. But I will not spin what the Parties say.
Last note, I'm ignoring for the most part any 'costing' of the various promises. The numbers are meaningless right now. I don't believe them, you don't believe them...hell, the backroom staff who write them don't believe them. What is important is the actual proposed legislation. S'right? S'right.
Okay, right off the top I'm annoyed. http://www.conservative.ca/ and http://www.ndp.ca/#enter have no internal search engine. Thanks Stephen Harper. Thanks Jack Layton. Thanks a lot. http://www.liberal.ca/ does have a Search button, in the top right corner where you'd look for it.
So I'm going to have to do some digging here. Damn it.
Anyway, for your Family, the people you immediately care about, the Conservatives say:
Supporting families through our Family Tax Cut and more support for seniors and caregivers.
Ummm...that's not much. So I open up the pdf of the Tory platform and search by Control + F 'family'. 17 references. What do they reveal?
Well, there is the Family Tax Credit coming in 2014...if the budget is balanced by then. There is immediate help for those who are Family Caregivers - assisting elderly parents, or disabled family members. That will be in the form of a $2,000 tax credit. Now that Tax Credit will only help the wealthy. If you are the principal caregiver for i.e. a disabled parent (as I am) you already receive and have received for years a write-off roughly equivalent to half that parent's Personal Tax Exemption, or $6,000. So that $2,000 will only be assisting those earning somewhere north of $60,000 per year. Not the sort of direct grant that caregivers actually need.
O'Hearn Grade: C-
The NDP have only three references to 'Family' in their platform. This shocked me. This is the NDP for God's sake! Here is their message:
And we’ll ensure that every family takes home more of every paycheque.
You know what, let's just print the entire NDP platform!
It’s time for a leader who will get things done for you and your family. Jack Layton’s New Democrats will work with others, stop the scandals and get results. Together, we can start fixing Ottawa – right now.
Making life more affordable
New Democrats will reduce the cost of everyday essentials like home heating. And we’ll ensure that every family takes home more of every paycheque.
Rewarding job creators
Under Stephen Harper, your tax dollars went to companies shipping Canadian jobs overseas. New Democrats will target investment to small businesses and companies actually creating jobs right here at home.
Improving front-line health services
New Democrats will take concrete steps to train more family doctors. We’ll improve homecare. And we’ll make your prescription medicines a little more affordable.
Putting families first
New Democrats will strengthen pensions. We’ll make childcare and education more accessible. And we’ll improve EI to make it easier for families to care for ageing loved ones.
That's it. A party of policy wonks has a Platform of... 158 words!
This is saving time for me and reading for you.
O'Hearn Grade on the NDP Platform: F
So what have the Liberals got? Holy sh!t. 3170 references. Let's summarize.
The Liberals offer a 6-month EI benefit to caregivers of gravely ill parents, along with $1,350 a year for caregivers with an annual Household Income of under $106,000. This I like. That $1,350 would effectively pay most of the $30 a week it costs me out of pocket to hire a caregiver to shower and dress my mother on Tuesdays and Fridays.
O'Hearn Grade: B+
We'll look at the other categories over the coming days.
But right now The Masters is on...
Be seeing you!
Politics for Joe
By: Hubert O'Hearn
for: Lake Superior News