The federal election has at last caught the attention of The Moncton Times@Transcript. The occasion was the debate between our local candidates in our federal elections. Well, sort of a debate. Sort of about the federal election. But as nearly as I could tell from the reporting, three of the candidates stuck their noses firmly into their own belly buttons, and kept them there.
The big debating point, it seems, was the crushing need for a big, activities centre (hockey rink) to save downtown Moncton. Boy, I bet that's a hot, national issue all the way out to BC. Yesiree. Even beyond that to the streets of London and Baghdad and Beijing where everyone talks about nothing but the growth of Moncton, and already ready rushes for tickets to our hockey games before we even decide on a location of the new arena.
Hey, kids. This is a federal election, the kind that determine the direction of Canada for years, maybe decades, to come. There are surely a few issues in here that are more important than a hockey rink.
1. Will the economic downturn and the deficit be met by hammering the poor and the middle class?
2. Will we keep corporations taxes low and subisides high to stimulate the economy. It has never worked in human history, and it has brought the US to the edge of social breakdown.... But, what the hell, the editors of The Moncton Times think its a good idea. So do the corporations.
23 Will we hit the middle class and the pooe even more by privatizing parts of medicare?
3. Exactly what should be Canada's stance on foreign affairs? Britain and France are both puppets of US foreign policy. Canada certainly looks like one. While our politicians babble about a new hockey rink, we're drifting very quickly into a series of wars, most of them followed by long-term, military occupations, for as long as can be seen. Canada is now at war on two fronts.
Will Britain, France, and the US and Canada go beyond the UN mandate by sending ground troops into Libya. In fact, Britain, France and the US already have, under the names of advisors and special ops. What will Canada do?
4. Getting sucked into wars has pretty serious implications for our economy. World War One taught the world that one cannot run a war based on a peacetime economy because that's leads to inflation, heavy public debt, and inefficient use of resources. The US has been fighting wars while living on a peacetime economy since 1950. Look at the result. Do we want to go that way?
5. What happens when the US economy goes down even more? (and it will.) That's some 90% of our market. Who will buy our goods, particularly our consumer ones? (If you think the Chinese will be lining up for Moosehead, think again. The Chinese make their own beer, so good and so varied that we can only dream of having such beer.)
- and one could list the issues for a very long time.
But that federal election debate was like a vote for town council. A very childish town council.
I'll declare my politics now. I don't believe in any ideology - capitalism, socialism, communism, conservatism, liberalism as a remedy - in its pure form. Nor do I believe any of them cures all, or fits all situations.
I have usually voted NDP because it is really the closest party to the middle of the road. Liberals and Conservatives are both instruments of corporations. Our national Conservatives are the more dangerous of the two because they actually believe the nonsense they talk. Beware of true believers.
I have twice , I think,voted Liberal for Warren Allmand, a genuinely moral, intelligent, and caring Liberal who served as Solicitor-General under Trudeau. He is, I believe, still active in Catholic Social Action.
I was not surprised by the triviality (ignorance? deceit? cynicism? childishness?) of the Liberal and Conservative candidates. I was surprised and disappointed by the failure of the NDP candidate to be drawn into the hockey rink debate as though it were a compelling national issue. The NDP still has principles. It shouldn't hid them.
I was impressed by the attempts of the Green's candidate to raise the level of the debate.
This is what you get when you have trivial, uniformed news media whose ideas of news and opinion is whatever the journalists are told they will be by the owners. Result - there are really people out there who are going to vote for whoever will promise them a hockey rink that a millionaire thinks he needs for his team (which has a tough time filling its present arena.)
As for that multi-purpose centre (hockey rink), get real. Downtowns across North America died with the rise of cars. People went to malls because they could park there. A hockey rink/convention centre will make downtown Moncton worse, not better. That's why dowtowns in some cities have been revived by providing cheap and convenient alternatives to the automobile. Montreal's downtown lives and thrives within a block or two each side of its subway line.
(I should add that when the the Montreal Canadiens moved from their old arena to a new one that was a good two kilometres away, there was no noticeable change in the character of the area in it moved from. There was only one change in the area it moved to. A small sandwich shop opened up, mostly for the lunch trade.
There is also a downside possible in reviving a downtown.. In that long band of offices that have survived thanks to the subway, there are whole streets of restaurants and bars, pretty much jammed every night, also thanks to the subway. There, bartenders and waiters commonly peddle drugs supplied by local gangsters who also collect a regular toll from the bars, in return for protection and a selection of hookers with, you know, class. It's a very lively downtown.