The DAILY DIGEST: INFORMATION and OPINION from ST. JOHN’S to VICTORIA.
ST.JOHN'S TELEGRAM - Friend or faux?
HALIFAX HERALD - A departure in confusion
MONTREAL GAZETTE - A hard, cold shower on Iraq experiment
MONTREAL GAZETTE - Quebec goes soft on cheese
TORONTO STAR - RCMP chief's exit leaves questions
NATIONAL POST - Pro-choice, pro-censorship
SUDBURY STAR - The same, but different; Tories who think Dion is easy prey should think again before they gloat
SASKATOON STARPHOENIX - RCMP needs good shakeup to clear image
REGINA LEADER-POST - RCMP mired in mistakes
CALGARY HERALD - Supervisory body could help keep RCMP on track
CALGARY SUN - Question of perception
EDMONTON JOURNAL - Welcome closure on same-sex unions
EDMONTON JOURNAL - Better thinking on Iraq
LETHBRIDGE HERALD - Marriage issue is over, this time for good
VANCOUVER SUN - There's no easy way, but Bush has to get Americans out of Iraq
VANCOUVER PROVINCE - Justice's weak link
VANCOUVER PROVINCE - We must end parole possibilities for Hay and lifers like him
VICTORIA TIMES-COLONIST - Global warming's real threat
Fishermen angry over native treaty
A new tack in native education
Afghans 'running out of patience'
AFGHANISTAN: 'Moderates, Not Military, May Win War on Terror'
Jackson: Reid was naive about war
Opposition to Afghan Mission Grows in Canada
Canadian turned back by Americans wants answers, compensation
Boom lowered on higher ed
Replacement staff bill 'one-sided'
Still more skilled workers needed
HEALTH CARE RELATED
Clinics let cancer patients purchase treatment
Reforming our refugee system
POLITICS IN THE PROVINCES
Provincial health ministers want federal dollars to meet wait time guarantees
Sask. PC party opens office
NDP desperation starts to show
Emotional chief touts need for public trust
Zack: I tipped Day - Says he wanted to clarify misleading testimony
Comment force and harper no longer with him
RCMP's failure to communicate
Settlement with Arar in sight, Day says
Arar investigation not over, Day says
Tories declare same-sex issue closed
Wheat board fires back at Strahl
Tory MP attacks Harper, Prentice over native treaty deal
MP: Tsawwassen treaty 'long-term trouble'
Dion not holding trump card as native son of Quebec
B.C. power couple invaluable in shaping successful Dion team
Dion would sacrifice French citizenship to become PM
Dion adjusts his principles on Charter issue
Amended accountability act unanimously waived through Commons without vote
Proposed legislation to give watchdog teeth
Dion's parrot: That bird could say the word 'ideology.' That's the fate of anyone whose principles aren't popular enough
Global warming: a few skeptics still ask why it's happening
From success to suspect
On the day Maher Arar's life changed, the world was more in the grip of fear and fury than usual. In the United States, envelopes of anthrax were turning up in the mail, inciting widespread panic. In Pakistan, violent protests had erupted over the American assault on Afghanistan that had begun days earlier.
RCMP 9/11 dragnet targeted eldest Khadr
OPINION AND INFORMATION
Corruption and culture
PM sends mixed message on women
Minority rights ugly subtext in same-sex debate
A lack of national purpose
The CRTC is killing Canadian TV drama
Selling out on human rights
Decency wins in same-sex marriage vote
Le Parlement fédéral adopte finalement la Loi sur la responsabilité
La CSN voit la main de Lucien Bouchard dans les gestes d'Olymel
Ottawa aura une nouvelle réglementation sur les substances toxiques
Stephen Harper promet qu'il ne rouvrira plus le débat sur le mariage gai
Maher Arar attend encore des explications
La coalition tue 20 insurgés
SAME-SEX BATTLE OVER, BUT CULTURE WARS RAGE ON
by Daniel Tencer
December 8, 2006
Canada’s battle over same-sex marriage is overso said Prime Minister Stephen Harper yesterday, after losing a vote in parliament on whether to re-open the issue. The outcome of the vote was hardly a surprise, given the support same-sex marriage received from all major parties except for the Tories. And, emboldened by the 175-123 vote, commentators in today’s papers were quick to declare a winning side in Canada’s version of the Culture Wars. Writing in today’s Globe (subscription required), John Ibbitson says it’s time for Canada’s social conservatives and evangelical Christians to throw in the towel. “Thoughtful evangelical Christians must ask themselves some hard questions. Such as: Isn’t it about time we admit we’ve failed?” Ibbitson goes on to argue that the evangelical political agenda has achieved little either here or in the US. And the Star’s Chantal Hébert pulls no punches, calling Harper “the first post-war Prime Minister to ask the Commons to consider taking away the rights of a Canadian minority.”
So has Stephen Harper truly accepted defeat on behalf of Canada’s social conservatives? Not according to the conservatives themselves. “This is far too serious of an issue to give up so lightly,” the Post quotes former Liberal MP and same-sex marriage opponent Pat O’Brien as saying. Brian Rushfeldt, director of the Canada Family Action Coalition, warns in the same article that the Tories’ “weak performance” on the marriage issue could mean that many of their core supporters will stay home come the next election. Indeed, it’s unlikely that Canada’s conservative minority will give much ground. Note, for example, the furor in anti-abortion circles over several students’ associations at Canadian universities barring pro-life student clubs from gaining official status. Unlike in the US, there is little appetite in Canada to re-open the debates on abortion, the death penalty and other social issues, that were settled decades ago. These issues have a tendency to pit one person’s rights against another’shomosexuals’ rights versus religious freedoms in the same-sex marriage debate; women’s rights versus freedom of expression in the student clubs controversy. These are difficult minefields to navigate in any democracy. Progressive forces have won the same-sex battle, but they should not rest on their laurels. Canada’s version of the Culture Wars is far from over. All that remains to be seen is which issue will form the next battleground.
CAN IVORY TOWERS SAVE OUR LUNCH?
The Globe (not available online), the Citizen, the Star and La Presse go inside with a stark warning that Canada could fall behind other developed countries if it doesn’t come up with a national vision for post-secondary education. The report, from the newly established, federally-funded Canadian Council on Learning, says the country’s twenty-nine-billion-dollar-a-year higher education system is so poorly tracked that it’s hard to tell whether it is getting results. Canada has one of the lowest rates among developed countries of graduates in science and engineering, and the country also produces fewer than average PhDs, the report’s authors point out. This means other countries will “eat our lunch” unless clear targets are set for post-secondary education, council president Paul Cappon said yesterday. Cappon pointed out that Australia, the European Union and others have instituted universal targets for funding, graduation rates and library holdings, among other things. He also pointed out that education provides more than just economic benefits to society; educated people tend to lead healthier lives and become involved less frequently in crime than those with limited education.
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Hill scribes taking gubmint lolly on the side
'Scandalous' probe of reporters seen as 'witch hunt'
This one has to receive a prize !!!
j, would sure like you to pick up my position on electoral reform which i forward in plain text and will publish in next sunday's issue! being considered by the policy committee drafters before next sunday afternoon's st. paul's policy meeting.
06 12 3
Pro tem draft
1. The St. Paul’s Conservative EDA Policy Committee endorses election of parliamentarians by “first past the post” as best ensuring that each individual member of parliament represents the views of electors in each individual electoral district.
2. The St. Paul’s Conservative EDA Policy Committee recognizes that long-standing disparities in electoral justice must be redressed by narrowing population variances within each province’s individual electoral districts from the present plus or minus 25% from the average population - aside from a few even greater variances - to not more than + or -5%.
3. The St. Paul’s Conservative EDA Policy Committee recommends the prefered way of largely resolving these and other imbalances, by constittutional amendment if necessary, is to adopt voting in the house of commons so that each M.P.’s vote is tabulated by the population of the individual electoral district which is represented by the vote. This amendment is known as the David Simpson Amendment to honour the memory of the e.d.a. director of Trinity-Spadina who first proposed it in an informal policy meeting of Trinity-Spadina federal and provincial members.
4. The St. Paul’s Conservative EDA Policy Committee asks that any Conservative government not redress regional imbalances in the Senate until the distribution of electoral districts in the House of Commons reflects more accurately the vigorous growth of populations in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia .
Subject: Happy New Year
To: Day Stockwell <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Cummins John <email@example.com>, Cannan Ron <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Abbott Jim <email@example.com>, Fast Ed <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Harris Richard B.C. Caucus Chair" <email@example.com>, "Hiebert Russ MP.Sec.of State for Defence" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Hinton Betty <email@example.com>, Kamp Randy <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Warawa Mark <email@example.com>, Grewal Nina MP <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Hill Jay MP <email@example.com>, Lunn Gary MP <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Lunney James MP <email@example.com>, Moore James MP <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Strahl Chuck MP <email@example.com>, Mayes Colin MP <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Emerson David MP <email@example.com>, PM@pm.gc.caCc: Julia_Mott@gov.nt.ca, "Nunavut The Hon.Paul Okalik" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "North West Territory The Hon.Joe Handley" <email@example.com>, "Yukon The Hon.Dennis Fentie" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Britisdh Columbia The Hon.Gordon Campbell" <email@example.com>, "Alberta The Hon.ed Stelmach" <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
"Manitoba The Hon.Gary Doer" <email@example.com>, "Saskatchewan The Hon.Lorne Calvert" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Dion S." <email@example.com>, Jack@NDP.ca,
Bloc Quebecois Gilles Duceppe <firstname.lastname@example.org>
December 7, 2006
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Conservative Party in B.C.
On the end of another fiscal and political year it is time to look over the shoulder and consider what has happened, yes or no. Many of us do spend hours during the day reading and rereading articles, Joe Hueglin send daily some 60 or 70 headlines across the country through the internet, others talk to each other by e.mail / snail mail and forward letters to the government in power and opposition,.directly or as well by e.mail.
All the efforts are largely a lost cause as 90 percent of the communications don't reach the Members of Parliament in question, for the simple reason that such mail is scrutinized by Members of Parliament hired bureaucrats whom have no other accountability than to their tax-payer paid for and elected employer, the voter is the one on the bottom of the garbage can.
After years of participating in the rise and fall of Canadian politics there is no doubt that in between election the view of the voter has no influence, as their presentation is guarded by the hired hands.(maybe told to use the shedder, who knows)
The hopes were set by many for the New Governments, which to this point, has demonstrated to be no different than any of the previous. The voter from time to time gets a general notice in the mail telling the receiver how wonderful the government is working for you, surprisingly some may even receive a letter carrying the MP's rubber stamped signature, a letter that also carries a rubber date stamp as the content has been used many times over the same day or week..
Today we heard about the marriage vote as promised but no debate, just the motion to make it look good, why waste the time, all know that Quebec is the largest province supporting the changed interpretation. Further we see on TV over and over the Arar affair but no one is speaking the truth, I didn't know, I never heard, I never saw, are the main responses..(the ADSCAM all over)
The Liberal opposition is shouting out loud "fire him" but don't remember the ADSCAM event and the restricted investigation instructions written by the rt.hon.Paul Martin.
So here we are facing a new year, most likely an election build on promises and more promises, that disappear like snow in British Columbia, here for a day or a week at the most. We will be standing in the ballot booth trying to find the spot that ask for a mark "none of the above".
Welcome to the world that thinks Canada to be a democratic country, as we are no more democratic as the country with restricted rights.
Subject: Fw: Quebec 'nation'
Sorry, I just could not find the time to follow this debate on your DD, but did send this letter to Michael Chong. Not really wanting to extend the debate, but still wanting to have my thinking on the record, I decided to send this to you. Hope you will publish it on the DD. Best regards to you and yours.
----- Original Message -----
From: Bob Bliss
To: Michael Chong
Sent: Tuesday, November 28, 2006 11:05 PM
Subject: Quebec 'nation'
I was sorry to hear that you felt it necessary to resign your cabinet post. I respect your making this major career sacrifice (short term I hope) on what you feel is an important principle. Your outstanding class and dignity in dealing with this is extremely commendable.
But Michael, with great respect, I feel compelled to say that your sacrifice was unnecessary and in fact undesirable. You well know that the government motion simply expresses Canada's formal recognition of the French fact in Canada (centred in Quebec). Obviously, nobody disputes the existence of the French fact in Canada. It is entirely understandable that the French speaking people of Quebec look to their Provincial government first for the protection of their language, their culture, their laws, and their French speaking environment. That does not make them any less Canadian or less loyal to Canada. It does perhaps make them "not a Province like the others". I do not believe that this is ethnic tribalism. Perhaps ethnic tribalism occurs when the separatists try to fracture our Country and thus destroy its whole character, its history, and its geography.
The question must be asked, what specifically would you have done in Mr. Harper's shoes, when faced with the original Bloc motion. We all know this tactic by them would have been extremely divisive and destructive, and was intended to be so. If a decision was made to vote it down, we would have had casualties among our Quebec ministers and M.P.'s. Or even if there was a free vote, in either case, we would have had a dangerous English/French split in Canada. This would be the worst kind of threat to our national unity
The English speaking opposition to the government motion agonizes over definitions and meanings and clarifications. Some of the opposition talk about one Canada, as if this motion means more than one Canada. I just think that all this hand wringing over minute details is trivial nonesense. We all know that nation can have several meanings depending on context and language. In this context it clearly means a community of people. It has been said that words don't have meanings, people have meanings. And in this kind of context (and in constitution making), some ambiguity is probably a necessary element in getting agreement. I think we should forget about the minute details and focus on the larger and primary issue, i.e. recognition of the people of Quebec in a united Canada.
Those who ignore the mistakes of the past are condemned to repeat them. Not passing the Meech Lake accord was a tragic mistake for Canada. If that had been passed, we would not have had this debate, we would not have had the '95 referendum scare, and Quebec would have signed the constitution.
For years we have been referring to our aboriginal population as First Nations. Nobody gives this usage of the word nation a second thought. And the concept of a nation within a larger state is not unique to Canada. Scotland thinks of itself as a nation within Britain. Catalonia sees itself as a nation within Spain. Suppressing the wishes of a people within a state will not stop the separatists, and to the contrary will re-double their efforts. Empowering and facilitating the full expression of a people's development and personality within the state will dampen the fires of separatism. When this is done, nobody loses, everybody wins. I cannot see that any Federalist loses anything, with this government motion.
Your stance on this, it would appear, is very similar to Pierre Trudeau. He certainly greatly enhanced the development of the French language in the rest of Canada and is to be commended for that. But he apparently could not accept the primacy of the Quebec government in the protection of the French fact in Quebec. Therefore he opposed the Meech Lake accord, and was instrumental in its failure. For me, the preservation of Canada as our Country, one Country, strong, united, independent, and free, is everything. Everything else is mere detail. But I know we have to fight constantly for our unity. I hope we don't adhere to a principle at the expense of our Country.
I heartily commend Mr. Harper for his strong, decisive leadership on this issue, when faced with the divisive tactics of the Bloc. And I especially commend him for highlighting the fact that the Bloc's motion in the House of Commons (and the government motion in response) strengthens the concept that all of Canada has a say in Quebec's future. I think this is extremely important and needs to be constantly in the forefront in this ongoing fight with the separatists.
My biggest concern in all this is the effect, of English speaking resistance and opposition to the government motion and similar events, on the attitude of the Quebec people. If this resistance is loud and prolonged and successful as in Meech Lake, it generates tremendous support for separatism. The English speaking opposition worries me more than the separatists.
On a lighter note, Joe Clark once called Canada a community of communities. He was sneered at for this, but I always thought this was not justified. I think his characterization of our Country was fairly accurate and a good insight. Perhaps now we could be called a nation of nations.
I hope you find it worthwhile to respond to this, which is submitted with the greatest respect. If I am off base, please show me where and how. I wish you, Carrie, and family all the best. I wish you future political success and hope you may be back in cabinet soon.
Best regards, Bob
(Well worth the wait)
A few things:
1. To Rosalie P:
Taking a legal opinion from a "minority" of lawyers
does not make a case to represent the majority of
Canadians regarding SSM.
Further in the same source that you cite it states:
"Section 15 of the Charter provides essentially for
legal equality for all."
You don't like SSM - I get it, but blame not the
minority groups that asked for it - blame the
foot-dragging of both Liberal and Conservative
governments for not creating an alternative that
recognizes all relationships, both heterosexual or
homosexual - THAT is the issue, and Joe's suggestion
would go a long to way to eliminating this inequality.
Under the Charter, and using the same article you
reference, you cannot have a government body creating
a separate institution that is not available for all.
Ultimately this is the problem of a political body
wading into areas of our lives over which they should
have no authority.
Regarding the Status of Women - what should have
happened was a public and transparent social audit of
all government programs to determine publically which
were meeting their mandates, if not why, and which
ones should be eliminated. To arbitrarily decide what
gets cut and where, is irresponsible.
The Stephane Dion issue - who cares? Only those
NDP'ers and Conservatives who will use anything to
gain votes. I find it amusing because under French
Civil Code, Chapter IV, Section 1, Art 23.8:, Stephan
Dion and any other member of parliament would lose
their citizenship at the discretion of the French
"Loses French nationality a French person who, filling
an employment in a foreign army or public service"
While it would be purely symbolic for Dion to renounce
his French citizenship, it is not necessary under
Canadian law - and if it is THAT important, I expect
the Conservative government to make the necessary
amendments to the law.
Michael Watkins, Vancouver Kingsway
Ms. Piccioni in her latest missive unveils another latent prejudice: "I
understand that Dion has dual citizenship (especially with France)! An
amazing revelation." -- R.P.
Putting aside the offhand slur made ('especially with France'), the only
'amazing revelation' is that Ms. Piccioni would chose to pick on any
Canadian who happens to hold other citizenship thanks only to byzantine
foreign citizenship laws.
Dion is a citizen of France through no action of his own - he was born a
Canadian, to a French mother - but is a Canadian who has without dispute
defended Canada in ways that transcend partisanship.
And while Dion could hardly chose his parents, according to one report, his
membership in the House of Commons may very well have years ago automatically
made him ineligible for French citizenship, thanks again to foreign,
byzantine, citizenship laws.
CTV reports Dion doesn't hold a French passport and further informs that
dozens of MP's, including a number of Conservatives, either hold or are
eligible to hold foreign citizenship from countries including England (Tony
Clement) , Brazil (Steven Fletcher), China (Inky Mark), Paraguay (Vic Toews),
and the United States (Myron Thomson, Diane Albonczy, and certainly not least
Alberta's almost-premier, Ted Morton) -- to name only a few.
Where is Ms. Piccioni's outrage over these MP's and Ministers?
There is no issue here. Dion, like many Canadians holding dual citizenship
for reasons of birth, is a Canadian through and through, and any straight
thinker can see that Dion thinks first if not only of Canada, not France,
whether you agree with his politics or not.
It seems that Piccioni and Harper and his muted MP minions so afraid of the
diminutive member from Saint-Laurentâ€”Cartierville that they have resorted to
using what amounts to blatant racism in order to get their supporters dancing
to a jingoistic drum beat.
Its not all bad. The sordid and distasteful attacks have at least reminded
Canadians that a bigoted beat pounds steadily just beneath the surface of the
"new" Conservative Party and "new" Government of Canada.
Pretty shameful stuff.
(The letter writer likes to believe that the former Progressive Conservative
Party of Canada would not stoop to employing racism to score political
points, nor attract those who would. - /mw)
There is a great letter in the current edition of the Western Standard asking Minister Strahl that if the Wheat Board cumpolsary monopoly is so great for the "nation of Saskatchewan" why does he not compel the nations of Ontario and Quebec to enjoy these benefits too? Ha ha.
Subject: Fwd: "Probe into Hill Journalists' contracts a 'waste of time,' Liberal MP sa...
Hello, again, Joe.
My earlier e-mail left out the following:
Ottawa publisher requests Members of Parliament to review the questionable practices and procedures of journalists and their employers provided favoured access to the publicly funded, privately owned, Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery Corporation.
The review was requested by the Publisher of the independent Ottawa newspaper - The National Capital News Canada - which has been illegally denied equal and full access to these substantial competitive advantages without the protection of the Speaker of the House of Commons to the fundamental right of freedom of the press and freedom of expression equally for all Canadians.
Fwd: "Probe into Hill Journalists' contracts a 'waste of time,' Liberal MP sa...
Date: 07/12/2006 8:05:34 AM Eastern Standard Time
To: Reid.S@parl.gc.ca, Day.S@parl.gc.ca, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org , email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, McTeague.D@parl.gc.ca, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Telegdi.A@parl.gc.ca, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
CC: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
File: Human Rights Program.htm (80000 bytes) DL Time (52000 bps): < 1 minute
December 7, 2006
Mr. Scott Reid, MP,
Mr. S. Day, MP,
Mr. Art Hanger, MP,
Mr. Stephen Harper, MP,
Mr. Peter Julian, MP,
Mr. James Walugembe, Editor, Uganda News,
Board Member -WAN - World Association of Newspapers,
Mr. Derek Lee, MP,
Mr. John Godfrey, MP,
Mr. Peter MacKay, MP,
Mr. Paul Martin, MP,
Mr. Keith Martin, MP,
Mr. David McGuinty, MP.
Mr. Dan McTeague, MP,
Mr. Peter Milliken, MP,
Mr. Chuck Straghl, MP,
Ms Belinda Stronack, MP,
Mr. Irwin Cotler, MP,
Mr. Andrew Telegdi, MP,
Mr. Myron Thompson, MP.
Ms Diane Ablonczy, MP,
Mr. Jim Watson, MP,
Mr. Vic Toews, MP,
PUBLIC INQUIRY INTO THE PRACTICES OF THE PRIVATE CORPORATION CANADIAN PARLIAMENTARY PRESS GALLERY INC. SUGGESTED.
The Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery Corporation, funded by the House of Commons, needs full and public review and audit by the Members of Parliament.
I am requesting a meeting with interested Members of Parliament to investigate the practices and procedures of the Parliamentary Press Gallery which have been found by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs Mary Robinson, in 1999, to be in violation of the fundamental right of freedom of expression.
See attached UN Views, for your perusal: www.gc.ca search "Robert G. Gauthier"
Thank you for your consideration.
Robert G. Gauthier, Publisher/Proprietor
The National Capital News Canada, est 1982
181 Bank St. rpo 71035
Ottawa, ON K2P 2L9
Brian D. Marlatt
Subject: Privatizing health care delivery
Private clinic coming to city Residents, NDPers pack chambers to protest new surgical centre
Surrey council has OK’d a controversial private surgical clinic despite opposition to the facility. details
Posted on Dec 05 2006
Private ER drops plan to charge its patients
VICTORIA – B.C.’s first private emergency room has dropped its fees for treating patients, after the provincial government took steps to audit the operation’s billing practices for violations of provincial and federal laws. details
Posted on Dec 05 2006
Federal autism plan not good enough: FEAT
The federal government’s five-point plan to improve knowledge of autism spectrum disorder has been criticized by parents who’ve lobbied for years to have government help pay to treat their children. details
Posted on Dec 01 2006
Private surgical clinic OK'd
A private surgical clinic should be up and running in Surrey by the middle of next year after city council approved rezoning by a 7-2 vote Monday.
But next door in White Rock, thanks to the charitable Peace Arch Hospital and Community Health Foundation:
More beds at hospital by fall 2007
Chronic overcrowding at Peace Arch Hospital is expected to ease with the completion of the top floors at the hospital and addition of beds.
Friday, December 8, 2006
The State has no Business in the Refrigerators of the NationFor too many politicians and bureaucrats most problems can be solved with a healthy serving of taxation and a side order of regulation. The latest? Taxing and regulating “bad foods” to tackle the obesity epidemic. Those very smart persons in government and academia conclude that if we taxed Big Macs and Eat More bars we’d all reduce our consumption of “bad foods” and fill the streets with Lance Armstrong look alikes. The concept is nothing new.
Cigarettes and alcohol have been deemed ‘politically incorrect’ for years. More recently gasoline was added to the list. Apparently, heating your home or driving your kids to school is a “SIN” so we tax it in the hope that consumption will be reduced. Is it working?
People continue to drink and smoke. And, horror of horrors, people continue to heat their homes in winter. It’s true that the choices many people make are not healthy ones. And it’s also true that they shoulder responsibility for those choices. But is arming the Nanny state with food police a good idea?
Imagine bureaucrats deciding which foods are “healthy” and which aren’t. Would a high-carb potato be subject to the tax? What about the fatty but protein-rich steak? A new skyscraper would have to be constructed in Ottawa to manage the exemptions and inclusions, while lawyers would be required to defend those decisions against food producers who think their particular product should not be subject to the tax. Government could call it the indigestion tax!
Studies done in the United States indicate a link between socioeconomic status and obesity. Basically, the less education you have and the lower your income, the more likely you are to be obese. This tax proposal only exacerbates their plight. Making poor people poorer further limits their choices. It doesn’t make them healthier.
Second, what does taxing food have to do with obesity at all? Just because someone eats a candy bar doesn’t mean they’re obese. The only point in imposing an obesity tax on a marathon runner who enjoys a Snickers bar once in a while is that it – pardon the pun – fattens government coffers. And that’s the real agenda here.
There are two alternatives to taxing food. One rests in the demands of the market place. The fact is, even McDonald’s consumers can order a salad and low-fat yogurt. Why? Because McDonald’s understands sensible people on the go want alternatives to Big Macs or they will go somewhere else to eat. It’s the same reason car manufacturers are beginning to produce hybrids on a mass scale and why many restaurants went smoke free long before the Nanny state arrived. The market responds to consumer demand.
Finally, if Canadians paid out of their own pocket for their own health care there would be a built-in incentive to choose healthier lifestyles. Buffet-style, one-premium-fits-all style health care insulates people from the consequences of their choices. Insurance premiums are based on the relative risk an individual poses. If someone smokes, is over weight and drinks excessively, his or her health premium will rightly be higher than for someone who exercises three times a week and doesn’t smoke. Canadians face – and indeed welcome – these consequences every day when it comes to renewing their automobile and life insurance policies.
If policy makers want to tackle obesity then they should consider reforms to medicare premiums as an alternative to creating multi-billion dollar food police and bureaucracies that have more to do with stuffing government coffers than instilling personal responsibility in those who are genuinely at risk. Former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau once quipped that the state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation. Well … it has no business in the refrigerators of the nation either.
Troy Lanigan and David MacLean, Canadian Taxpayers Federation
Friday, December 08, 2006
Daily Digest December 8, 2006
Joe Hueglin wrote: