Spirit Quest


A Fair Country — As an antidote to

the bullshit of election ads, read this book

By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan
True North Perspective

If I had money to invest I would do so in an industry that produces squared paper and HB pencils. Rubber erasers and pencil sharpeners might be a good deal as well. So we are persuaded  just as politicians, bankers and economists encourage us, as they unleash tons of statistics to prove whatever theory they espouse on matters of taxation, productivity, national debt and deficit.

I am frankly bamboozled by all of it. I also recall the dictum that statistics don’t lie but you can lie with statistics. In the “sturm und drang” of electioneering we shall be inundated by numerous numbers.

I have a hard time with budgets, my own as well as those projected by governments. I am more concerned by the ideas and ideals that  underlie those figures. What do the politicians have in mind? What are their visions of society that their numbers are supposed to undergird?

Stephen Harper leaves no doubt about his vision for a Canadian government — a Conservative Majority. Within hours of achieving his dream we shall awake to a new society. The wraps will be off and a new nation will be born. That birth may be akin to a Caesarian section with cuts and drains, but what of the newborn? Harper has barely hinted as this vision of the new society for fear of public revulsion.

As Christian Nadeau writes in his book Rogue in Power, “Conservative political conviction push them to the point where they dismantle our institutions or render them virtually useless.... It is a movement that aims to dismantle the progressive values that have prevailed over the past forty years, one after another, and to substitute the values of a new right–wing conservative worldview.”

It is this Weltanschauung that needs to be discussed. I doubt very much that such a discussion will take place at those all-candidate panels to which we shall be exposed. What will be substituted are reams of numbers showing or dispelling what can or can’t be done as long as we don’t raise taxes which is assumed to be a given. Yet many people have told me that they don’t mind paying higher taxes as long as they know that they are well spent on such items as health care and education rather than planes and jails and compensation for disgraced bureaucrats. The budget will be dissected in order to prove  why it will not work or why it will benefit the people of this land, or at least some of them.

Of course the moms and dads will be happy to be able to afford to enroll their brilliant and precocious bairn in arts programs, or that they can tighten up their leaky windows and doors with government largess as well as many other little initiatives. But is that the sum total on which we ought to make our decision about who rules the roost after that ominous day in May?

As to budgets, has anyone taken seriously the Alternate Budget proposed by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, or is it just too left wing to be taken seriously and dismissed with “it hasn’t got a chance.” For those ready with squared paper and sharp pencil I would highly recommend a careful study of that document. You might be pleasantly surprised. The worldview behind this budget is unashamedly different from that of the parties contending for power.

My great fear is that Canadians will only be awakened by the shock occasioned by a Harper majority, a shock too late.

The Canadian Spirit, and I believe that there is one, is expressed in our motto: “Peace, Justice (Fairness) and Good Government“ rather than an economic free-for-all where nothing is free and all are subject to what is called the “market forces.”

In his excellent book, A Fair Country, John Ralston Saul asks, “What is our problem? It has nothing to do with global economic forces. It has everything to do with weak managers, frightened by the real market. And beside them are public officials who seem to understand nothing about economics as power. And hovering over these two groups is an eerie sense of emptiness — the artificial stillness brought about by a fundamental absence of ideas.”

He further asserts that, “leaders who set out to undermine their poorer citizens in order to save the rest of society small amounts of taxes, are dysfunctional.” As an antidote to the bullshit of election ads read this book.

That “Invisible Hand of the market” coined by Adam Smith and much touted by the late great Milton Friedman and the Calgary School of Economics, Harper’s alma mater, is not the hand of the God that I believe in. Rather I bow before the God of true community of people, not merely consumers as per Margaret Thatcher. 

Can we afford it? As in Obama’s campaign slogan, “Yes, we can!” Indeed we can do anything that we truly believe in or as the squared paper people would say, dare to finance with truly progressive taxes. 

I believe that there is a Spirit in this country that continues to strive for Peace, Justice and Good Government. May we not succumb to other  so-called “affordable”  alternatives

The Spirit Lives!


Excellent points, Hanns. It's frightening to see the gap between rich and poor widening all the time, and the Conservatives offering band-aids which don't begin to provide solutions.

Look around us in Ottawa: expensive high-rise condos squeezing out affordable housing, cuts in bus routes to those who can't afford to live close to where they work, food banks running out of supplies because there's such high demand.

A really good election campaign would publish a list comparing annual income of the wealthiest (including many elected and appointed people who are paid from public coffers) with those still in the narrowing middle class (teachers, firefighters, police, nurses, those who actually run the small and large businesses that provide jobs), and those at the very bottom.



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