You won't find out what the real issues are in The Moncton Times&Transcript or any other news medium. The Times is not alone in being vacant today. Almost all of our news media have vacant days. New Brunswick takes it a step further. Vacant is its normal, basic stage of New Brunswick papers, usually followed by vacuous and then vitriolic.
So what are the real issues?
Forget about the economy. We're heavily linked with economies all over the world; and we're one of the smaller players. If the rest of the world picks up, so will we. If if doesn't, we won't. We survived the his the US took - not because our corporations are better run, but because we have used government to regulate them so that it's harder for them to pull off giant scams.
Simlarly, we are committed to military alliances and promises (US, NATO, Israel). If any of those sinks deeper into wars and debt, so will we. If economies get really bad, and there is civil unrest, we are already well on the way to committing Canadian troops to put down rioting in the US, and the US is reciprocating.
Of all the things we can deal with, only one is likely to receive much attention in the news media - proportional representation. I think it's a good idea. Unfortunately, it won't solve the major problems of our political system.
The major problem is that most ordinary people have no real control over who gets elected.
1. Elections cost big money. The only parties that can get themselves significant media space are ones that are obedient to the sources of big money - large corporations and the very wealthy. Harper has promised to make it even worse by cutting off government funding for parties.
2. The news media of Canada keep Canadians largely ignorant of what is going on in the world, and what our choices are. That's because most big news media, like print, radio or TV, are owned by very wealthy people who want the news to carry what they want us to think.
Result, most people haven't the faintest idea what the elections are about. That's why the last New Brunswick election was inane. Remember how the Liberals lost because Shawn Graham and his Liberals were discredited by the energy proposal with Quebec?
Come on, folks. Do you seriously think the energy deal was Shawn's idea? Did he ever give the impression of being a daring and inventive person who would push through a piece of legislation with tremendous implications for manufacturing costs - and without being told by corporate leaders to do it? If you do, get real. Like Premier Alward, Shawn Graham is a pet dog. The boss throws the ball, and Alward and Graham chase it. It's like that in most provinces, and federally.
Canadians cannot cast an informed vote because they have no information.
Have you ever seen any figures on how much large corporations cost us taxpayers per year? Taking into account all grants, subisides, contracts, reduced taxes, civic works, etc. carried out for private benefit? Do you know how much tax of the total of all taxes is paid by large corporations? So you know that there are a great many large corporations in both Canada and the US that pay no income tax at all? Despite doing well for their executives and shareholders? And that takes us into another, related issue.
3.The US now has the largest gap between a few wealthy and millions of poor in all of the developed world. Canada is moving in the same way. The giant corporations that fight a rise of a buck fifty or so for minimum wage, give 20%, even 100 %, increases to their senior execs (plus all the perks of club memberships, diners' cards, paid holidays, massive severance pay, etc.) Right through the recent, bad years, their share of national wealth has been increasing dramatically, while poverty has risen.
What they are doing - and doing on a national and international scale - is not only a perversion of the principles of capitalism. It is a destructive force that can destroy our society just as it is now destroying Libya and Egypt.
Greed and excessive ambition will destroy our society as surely as they have destroyed so many societies in the past. The only way to prevent that is to ensure that business is intelligently regulated, and that wealth is widely distributed, both as money and as services.
4. Then there is the question of our foreign policy - which mostly means our relations with the US. No matter who is president, the US faces years of war and a declining economy as its inlfuence is challenged all over the world. That's what the middle east rioting in about. That's what much of the civil warring in Africa is about. That's what Afghanistan is about. It looks very likely to be repeated in Central and South America where the price of US dominance is being seriously challenged.
Do we want to join those wars? The Canadian Council of CEOs will want us to, just as it wanted to send troops to Afghanistan. (Some members of the council so rather well out of cheap labour and lack of regulation in Central and South America. Canadian mining companies are particularly notorious.) Do we want a generation and more of those wars? All other considerations aside, can you imagine the impact that would have on our society?
As oil gets more expensive, will we be allowed to sell it wherever we wish? Will we be allowed to regulate (and enforce regulations) on oil drilling in the high Arctic?
As inland water levels drop (check out Hoover Dam), will we be allowed to control our own fresh water?
Where is this being debated for the public in this election? Where is the informed commentary?
No. We won't see it. Mr. Harper was here and in PEI, presumably because of the election. He said nothing of substance here, and ditto while serving up coffee in PEI.
In a badly informed country, this province and PEI are probably the worst informed, and the least open to serious public discussion.
There's a price for that.