Sunday, July 14, 2024
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor – Feb. 14, 2024

Outdated binaries

Dear Editor,
Thank you for your thoughtful editorial about the insanity of our merry-go-round world (Feb. 7, 2024). As you said, and I paraphrase, many of us are inclined to bury our heads in distractions as the greater world makes less and less sense. We may also be inclined to feel powerless as political discussions become increasingly polarized and empty, but it is exactly at this time that we must exercise our democratic rights with more vigour.
What do I mean by vigour? Energetically vocalizing our dislike of the current state of national and provincial politics. The current binary system is not working. Not for us, nor for our planet.
The human race is a very large collective. It cannot be described in a binary: us against them, liberal vs. conservative, my land, your land, and so on. But this is what war represents. Pre-2019, the human world was tending toward inclusivity, caring and acceptance. The Trudeau administration came in dancing on rainbows, legalized weed, gender equality in parliament and electoral reform. Then the pandemic dealt its global sucker punch.
From then on we have been spiralling into a protectionist default which pits one group against another, like Russia against Ukraine, Palestine against Israel, Liberal against Conservative. Western “democracies” against communist authoritarian regimes, cat lovers against dog lovers, the list goes on.
These are outdated binaries. Could we not get beyond them? Could we not stop the narrative, stop playing this ridiculous simplistic game?
We cannot continue to support our bipartisan governance - Liberal, Conservative flip-flopping. Electoral reform was an idea floated many times but most recently in 2015. Representative government models went under the microscope and then were conveniently swept aside. But not everyone has forgotten. Recently, the tiny and irrelevant Green party, forwarded a motion to reopen public consultation on Electoral Reform.
Why is our national administration afraid of electoral reform? It’s a rhetorical question, I know, you know. Have you ever heard countries speak badly of New Zealand, Lithuania or Finland? No. Any idea why? In my opinion, it’s because they have a representative system, rather than a first past the post electoral system which allows for a more diverse debate to occur in government. Better decisions, less controversy, less news worthy. They have moved away from the binary.
It’s time we do the same - time we take pride in our people in all their stripes by allowing more diverse voices to be heard in parliament. Sure, multi party debates, rather than binary debates, can be challenging. But when you contrast challenging with the absurdity of the superficial arguments repeated over and over by the official opposition without any creative suggestion for how they will make the current main issues go away, challenging seems refreshing and real. At least it does to me.
If you agree that Canada is backsliding into American style badmouth politics it is time to exert you democratic right to have your voice heard.
What can you do? Contact our MP, Sophie Chatel. Tell her we’ve had enough of bipartisan politics, to dust off the Senate report on representative government and that the choice of electoral system should be given to the people in a national referendum.
Contact Andre Fortin, our MPP, and say the same goes for Quebec.
We can no longer stand by as the world’s pendulum swings back toward fractious warmongering and while the planet experiences 1.5 degree above normal temperatures for an entire year . . . the planet needs us to be responsible, caring and inclusive and to stop playing by outdated rules.

Andrea Goffart, Beechgrove

Government services

Dear Editor,
Here’s a way of looking at government which may make it easier to avoid feeling hard done-by in your day-to-day dealings with society.
Government, in our space and time, is more or less an insurance policy, indemnifying us against bad things happening. Your tax dollars aren’t sufficient to pay for the services provided by government(s) at all levels. Municipalities have only property taxes as income, from which they must build, improve and maintain roads, train and equip a fire/emergency response team, and provide for disposal of waste material.
When a large project is proposed, local tax money is not enough to pay for it; a provincial grant must be called in, to pay for big-price undertakings. When that happens, taxpayers from all over the province are chipping in to help our local government.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot; municipalities are charged for police services, and in Thorne, we were told we could expect a drive-by once every 35 days, so criminals beware.
Lately, police in other jurisdictions have helped me to calibrate my speedometer. Apparently, my concept of a sensible driving speed on a dry highway with clear visibility is off by several kilometres, and they let me know about it. Those can be expensive reminders.
MRC has no property tax income, but gets its funding from shares paid by the municipalities. Again, large expenditures are funded through provincial grants, so province-wide taxpayers foot the bill. The federal government is nearly irrelevant in most governmental happenings in Pontiac. The federal government has provided us with a long-term experiment in whether radioactive waste stored by the Ottawa River will or won’t cause contamination of that most significant waterway. The results won’t be fully known for about a hundred thousand years, but rest assured, we’ll be the first to know.
If you complain about your government, you may get the chance to see it from the inside, and find that it’s made up of ordinary people, trying to keep these mandated essential services rolling along. Become informed, not inflamed.

Robert Wills, Thorne and Shawville

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