Candidate forums full of political correctness
Political correctness was rife at the all-candidates meeting sponsored by retirees on Wednesday evening last. Candidates for the Liberals, NDP and Greens were present but the Conservative candidate was absent. As well, candidates from the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) and Christian Heritage Party (CHP) participated. The first three gave standard and predictable answers to questions about supporting pharmacare and protecting pensions; the NDP boasted of a record of proposing policies for the common man, the Liberal defended his party’s record and the Green occasionally inserted environmental issues which were not pertinent to the question. The other two were more interesting, perhaps as “fringe” parties such as the Greens have been and probably still are. The PPC was concerned about state control and the loss of personal freedom, while CHP offered more philosophical responses that illustrated the difficulty in the simplistic answers of the three main parties.
Promises to fund universal pharmacare were easily made, but the CHP candidate pointed out that optional and expensive remedies might be too expensive, and require access to the private history of patients. Coupled with a question about abortion, that the moderator attempted to dismiss, the CHP added that the government should not fund medically unnecessary procedures, which is to say procedures that were a matter of “choice”. This led to the usual slogans of “pro-choice” and “woman’s right to choose” by the Liberal and NDP, who were not willing to say they were in favour of abortion, just “choice”; these were greeted with resounding applause by a large number in the audience. It was evident that it is not politically correct to say that one opposes abortion (or to favour the equally ambiguous “pro life”). The PPC ventured that while women have rights, so do foetuses, an opinion coloured by her knowledge of state enforced abortions as a means of birth control in her native China. Another question on ethical government allowed candidates to speak against Saudi Arabia and oil pipelines, but they conveniently neglected to address the questioner’s mention of support for Palestinians, as this also is politically incorrect in Canada.
While the issue of additional funding for health benefits for retirees was raised and answered by an implied increase in taxes or the deficit, a final attendee asked for the response of the candidates on re-structuring the tax system. Pointing out that VAT in Europe was on the order of 25 percent, with top marginal income tax rates similar to Canada’s, he asked whether there was support for reducing income tax, a disincentive for socially desirable activity like working and saving, and replacing it by an increased GST as a disincentive to consumption that led to pollution, cutting down forests and filling garbage dumps with plastics. The NDP talked of increasing taxes to soak the rich, the Liberal said that getting the public to accept an increased GST would be almost impossible (as usual, concerned with offering the public what it wanted to hear), while the Green stated that her party planned to re-investigate the tax system. The PPC and CHP were not offered an opportunity to comment. Consumption taxes also seem politically incorrect.