I wrote this letter spontaneously in response to the LeadNow campaign (http://leadnow.ca/) promoting inter-party cooperation in the next national election and for support for electoral reform. I’ve long been a supporter of proportional representation and the excellent advocacy done by Fair Vote Canada (http://www.fairvote.ca/). But I must confess to growing skepticism over the sincerity of almost any political candidate in these times. Still, it struck my writer’s nerve, so here it is….
Dear Mr. Trudeau: past generations of Canadians have recognized when a national crisis confronted them and pulled together, putting aside partisan differences to achieve a goal. Whether it was sacrificing their personal lives to fight fascism in the world wars, marching for labour rights when there were none, women marching for voting rights when they had none, etc.
Yet today we are faced by just as great a crisis as World War II, the Great Depression, or any other catastrophic moments in our history. We are faced by a government that is run by kleptomaniacs hell bent on plundering the public purse for their corporate friends, leaving behind a gutted, dysfunctional public services system that serves nobody. We are faced by a government that openly despises the values of the majority of Canadians and is doing everything it can to eviscerate those values—whether it’s our values on the environment, medicare, social services, or international affairs.
So how is it that this generation of Canadians is somehow less able to mobilize as our grandfathers and grandmothers, great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers did in times of crisis? Have we become so complacent, so addicted to luxury that we can’t make the personal sacrifices required to save everything we hold dear about this country?
I was fortunate to grow up in Canada during the years when your father was Prime Minister. Pierre Trudeau, while a flawed human being like any of us, truly fit the mantle of the visionary leader. He understood that markets cannot be left entirely to themselves to run a country, that fair and balanced regulation is needed to ensure that the public is protected. He understood the danger of the current mania for ‘globalization’ that even its proponents are now finally recognizing, by setting up the Foreign Investment Review Agency that was so sadly eviscerated by Prime Minister Mulroney. Prime Minister Trudeau understood that a country that allows itself to be sold off and parceled out to foreign interests will not long have control over its own internal policies. He also understood that, as he famously said, “the government has no business in the bedrooms of the nation.” And I believe he would have understood that the punishment mentality does nothing to reduce crime. With crime at an all time low, privatizing the prison system makes no sense economically or otherwise.
I believe Pierre Trudeau would also have understood that cooperation is not a dirty word to Canadians. It is only viewed as such if one is dedicated to the pursuit of power at all costs, including the cost to our democracy. When the country is in a national emergency, as I believe we are now, it is not the time to pursue private power agendas. Politics as usual will not work at such historic moments.
We are on the cusp of either total disaster or a new age. The choices we make now will determine which one it is. We are in the 21st century and have all the knowledge we need to realize that the old ways of doing things no longer work—in economics, in politics, in the environment. Global climate change only adds to the urgency yet we are now pumping 50% more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than 20 years ago. We continue to grandfather oil industry subsidies that they absolutely do not need while sustainable energy industries struggle to get off the ground. The status quo of coddling industry at public and environmental expense cannot hold if we are to survive as a society and as a species.
Yet we have progressive economists who know how to rebuild a sustainable economy, who understand that more equal societies are ultimately better for everyone. We have cutting edge economists pointing the way forward with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (http://www.policyalternatives.ca/). We have brilliant people who have ways of rehabilitating our damaged environment—people like Alan Savory and Janine Benyus (http://www.savoryinstitute.com/, http://biomimicryinstitute.org/about-us/what-is-biomimicry.html). We have political progressives who are ready to work cooperatively rather than competitively to meet these crises. For years now Fair Vote Canada has been providing logistical support to provinces where there is a hunger for proportional representation in government. And we have the Council of Canadians, holding the Conservatives to account for the ‘robocall’ fraud in the last election and standing up for true Canadian values (http://www.canadians.org/).
If ever there was a time to cooperate to meet this challenge, this crisis, head-on, it’s now. Please consider doing whatever you can to be part of this change, possibly the last best hope we have, before it’s too late. I love this country. It gave me a sense of pride to be Canadian because of our progressive values. However, for the past 10 years or so, for the first time in my life, I’ve been ashamed to be Canadian. That must end. We must light the way into the 21st century not just for our own sakes but for all those generations to come, just as our First Nations say—even to the seventh generation.
If indeed you have time to read this Mr. Trudeau then I thank you for your consideration.