(This column was published in the North Shore News on May 26, 2004)
Five-week spin fest kicks off
By Leo Knight
"I am proud of our record. But I want to do much more, so I will be setting out a plan to do just that."
- Prime Minister Paul Martin on Sunday, the day he announced an election call
PROUD of the Liberal record is he?
That statement alone should tell you everything you need to know to ensure you cast your vote on June 28 for anyone other than Paul Martin's Liberals. He's proud of underfunding health care and downloading costs onto the provinces and ensuring queues for specialists are longer than the new rides at Epcot Center and Disneyland combined.
As a side note, it constantly amazes how the true believers think that Martin is all about saving our national health-care system and Stephen Harper's Conservatives are all about destroying it. Could it be more broken than it is now?
On the weekend, Peter Warren, on his CKNW talk show, ran a straw poll for about 15 minutes. All but two callers said they would not vote Liberal. One of the two pro-Liberal callers, a female, said she would vote Liberal because she didn't want Harper's "American style health-care system" that would cost her more money. She said she couldn't afford a few hundred dollars a month more at a time in her life when she really needs health care.
Stupid doesn't even begin to describe that type of thinking. Does she actually think that we aren't paying for it now? Does she actually think health care is free in this country?
In order to get this pathetic excuse for a health-care system, we are taxed at a rate that has now set Tax Freedom Day in British Columbia at June 28, oddly enough the same day that Paul Martin wants you to vote for him. By contrast, those Americans with a health-care system that is way more efficient than ours, celebrated their Tax Freedom day on April 11 this year, according to Tax Foundation Special Report No. 129.
Tax Freedom Day is the day when the citizens have earned enough money to pay off their total tax bill for the year. So, how much money do your earn between April 11 and June 28? How much insurance could you buy with that money?
You should also note that Tax Freedom Day, 2004 is almost two months later in Canada, according to the Fraser Institute, than 1961 when these calculations first started to be made.
But it's not just the Liberals' sacred cow of "universal health care" we are paying for in those extra 21/2 months of giving everything you earn to the government. No, it also helps fund the Gun Registry now nearly $998 million over budget from its original projections.
In the dying days of the 37th Parliament, Martin's doyenne of public safety, Anne McLellan, announced changes to the laughable and oh-so-expensive gun registry. Big deal! Anything less than killing it and committing the money to law enforcement, to actually fight organized crime which is where the gun problem starts and stops, is nothing more than a continued waste of your hard-earned money.
But really, what's a billion here or a billion there to Paul Martin and his sycophants?
Martin is but the latest of Liberal PMs who were once employed by the Desmarais family and their aptly-named Power Corp. But Martin probably is more beholden than his predecessors inasmuch as Paul Desmarais set it up so the current prime minister could buy Canada Steamship Lines and become one of the richest men in Canada. Well, not as rich as the Desmarais clan, but filthy rich by yours and my standards.
While Martin is trying to distance himself from his predecessor who was warmed by the hearth at 24 Sussex Drive while he engaged in bilking us out of every possible dollar he thought he could get away with and was, in my view, the worst prime minister this country has ever seen, he hopes and believes that the voters will forget that his Guccis were, as finance minister, firmly planted under the cabinet table for each and every major decision made during those years.
With Adscam still hanging in the air like a bout of flatulence at a dinner party, Martin denies he knew anything. The RCMP have laid charges thus far in a small part of the mess first addressed by the auditor general back in 2001. There's much more to come. Not to mention the ongoing police investigations into the BDC scandal, Shawinigate and the HRDC billion dollar boondoggle.
And he says he's proud of his party's record. Fraud, deception, negligence, cronyism, bloated bureaucracy and political malfeasance are truly some impressive things to be proud of.
For the next five weeks you are going to be engulfed with enough bovine scatology to fertilize all the fallow fields coast to coast and back again.
You can accept the consequences of another five years of Liberal rule, or gird your loins and vote for change.
But whatever you do, exercise your franchise in what remains of our democracy and vote.