Thursday, August 3, 2006

Hey Steve, where's the "Fifth Priority"?

News this morning that a 20th Canadian has died in fighting in Afghanistan while driving a light armoured vehicle (LAV) makes me wonder why we still have LAVs as support vehicles. What happened to all those heavy armour G-Class Mercedes SUVs that we bought? Aren't the Canadian Forces supposed to be using them?

Meanwhile, the latest Decima poll shows the Harperites in a near dead heat with the still leaderless Liberal Party (32-31). Even more significant is that the Grits are now way ahead of the Conservatives in Ontario (42-33) and are slightly ahead of the Cons in Québec. No doubt the situation in the Middle East and Stephen Harper's pro-Israel stance has put a damper on his popularity, especially in urban areas.

I think the much bigger issue is "Steve" Harper's coziness to the Bush Administration. He promised he would "Stand Up For Canada." Signing a softwood lumber dead that gives the lion's share to US producers, making the NORAD extension permanent rather than on the old five year basis, and parroting every single stance of the religious right in the US -- is not my idea of defending Canada.

And whatever happened to his fifth priority -- a health care guarantee? You know, a maximum wait time for specified emergency procedures with an offer of intraprovince or ever interprovince travel in case one's home jurisidiction can't handle the patient? Since Parliament reconvened in April, there has not been one single mention of how Harper is going to implement this. Not one.

Could it be because he never had any intention of implementing it in the first place -- preferring a US style system of be rich or die? Or could it because the provinces won't cooperate unless they get their way on reforming equalization? Or could it be something much deeper, a desire to risk a snap fall election on the issue?

It's obvious he's going to use any pretext to drop the writ; to make any issue one of non-confidence.

I for one would like to know whether all of a sudden he's changed horses in mid-stream and decided the fifth priority is joining the Globar War Against All Extremism or World War III or whatever it's called this week. If he has, he's proven he had no intention of standing up for Canada in the first place. Canadians' first priority -- not the fifty -- is reforming health care and making the single payer system work for the Third Millenium. The Romanow Report continues to gather dust, as does the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Affairs which also spent a great deal of ink and money talking about health care.

It's time for "Steve" to start talking. I'd suggest the current respite from the heat wave as a good time as any to begin the dialogue.

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