25/03/2011

Vision, or the Lack Thereof

I am not writing this, as just another opportunity to slag Stephen Harper, although I generally don't have a problem with doing that. What bothers me is that, on the eve of an election being called, neither Stephen Harper, Michael Ignatieff, Giles Duceppe, Jack Layton nor Elizabeth May are offering us any real vision for our country.

We have a new "stay the course" budget from Harper without a bold new initiative in sight. Sadly, I don't expect much more from any of the political parties as the campaign goes forward. Oh sure, they'll promise to tweak this and tweak that, to be more open and to rebuild Canada's proper role in things international. But what else?

We expect a campaign of slogans not substance. They will argue about who has been more bereft of principle, the Conservatives, the Liberals, the separatists or those socialist NDP. We'll argue about tough on crime agendas, accountability, fighter jets, arctic sovereignty and dirty oil. You can bet no will talk about the gun registry. Get ready for a campaign full of attack ads but lacking any plan which would plot a course showing how we will move forward, as a country.

My Canada cares about people, not slogans.

A Vision the Cares About People

I was taken by a story I read this morning in the Globe & Mail about the fact that in Denmark, seniors are entitled to free home care, around the clock if necessary. The basic service includes help with shopping, and cleaning but in addition, anyone 75 and older is entitled to an annual home assessment to determine if additional care might be needed. The Danes do this because they believe "It gives the elderly better well-being and healthier lives." The added result is increased life expectancy and fewer admissions to hospital and nursing homes.

My brother recently suffered from a health issue while visiting France. They were in a small village without any real medical facilities. After a call to the nearest hospital to seek advice a doctor quickly turned up at the house they were renting. He diagnosed the problem and prescribed medication.

He explained that it was better to have a few roving doctors treating patients in their homes than it was to overcrowd emergency facilities. His charge was modest and he went on his way and the medication took care of the problem in a few days..

A Canadian I know of who lives in Italy was recently visited by his father who became quite ill while he was there. So ill in fact, that he was hospitalized for three or four days.

When it came time to leave the hospital the expat asked how much they owed for his father's care. The response was "You owe us nothing." Questioned about how that was possible the hospital administration replied, "What kind of country would we be if we charged a visitor to our country for care he would have received free had he lived here."

Those my friends, are examples of vision at work.

What about Infrastructure?

I also noticed a story about the Gotthard Base Tunnel being built by the Swiss. Begun in 1996, the tunnel will be 57 km long, and will be the world's longest rail tunnel. It should become operational at the end of 2016. It's twin track will run between Switzerland and Germany and will accommodate both freight and high speed passenger trains.

Remember the Chunnel?
I got thinking about big projects on the go here in Canada and I couldn't think of any. Aren't we lucky Stephen Harper wasn't Prime Minister when we needed a national railway coast to coast or when we needed the St Laurence Seaway.

We have to ask how our government can boast about being so economically responsible while our infrastructure is crumbling. Everyone's focus is on reducing taxes and we are passing on the infrastructure problems to our children and grandchildren to pay for.

They have no vision.


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