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By the time you read this article, in all likelihood we will be in another merry-go-round with a federal election. Each of us has a responsibility to become familiar with each political party’s platform, dealing with the major issues facing Canada externally and internally. We have a vested interest in asking our local candidates what they will do different for our riding. What will they do specifically to relieve issues that are most important to you personally? Quoting Robert M. Hutchins, “The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.” It is your responsibility if not for yourself, then for those who came before you and those that come after to vote.

Voting is the most basic essential of citizenship and I believe without much reservation, that those men and women who fail to avail themselves to this basic democratic right for which hundreds of thousands of people throughout history have given their lives to secure, should be socially shamed, given a badge of dishonor and made to watch the first twenty minutes of the hit movie Saving Private Ryan.

Now personally, I have never submitted myself one hundred percent to any system of opinions and beliefs. Not to religion, not to philosophy and certainly not to any political party and for the record most anything else for that matter, where I believe I’m capable of thinking for myself. I see such an addiction to be the very last degradation of a free and moral individual. If in so doing I could be withheld from entering the Gates of Heaven then I’ll be seen walking the streets of the other place, hopefully with a few of my old pals.

The election polls fluctuate more than my blood pressure, with Tories first having a lead and then the Liberals. Who do you believe? I like to think of each of our political party leaders in the manner to which Tallulah Bankhead described herself, “I am as pure as the driven slush.” As the campaign trail moves down the road and pollsters crank out their numbers (weekly) I suspect that Alice Roosevelt Longworth’s statement “if you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me,” is not invoked, but then again that’s wishful thinking.

Here are some issues you might think about and certainly be asking local candidates before you make up your mind as to how you’re going to vote. What is Canada’s future in Afghanistan? One must remember that we’ve had troops there since 9/11 in 2001, and we’ve pulled what nobody disputes “hard duty,” all the while our allies had a softer ride. Our American friends have finally sent 4,000 heavily armed troops into Kandahar where we’ve been in combat all these years. Promising to send in a total of 100,000 more troops, I think it’s time we bring our troops home for nothing more than an honourable tour of duty. The Tories have promised they’d do just that, however, have also recently been spending more than $5 billion to upgrade our army’s combat vehicles, are they telling he truth? Germany and Britain are now calling for an Afghan conference so that Afghans take on more responsibilities. Where is Canada? So, can the government be trusted, when we’re crawling out of a recession and the average family needs some financial breaks? Why, I’d ask, if we’re coming home are we spending this type of money now? What’s the platform of the other parties on this issue?

On another front, remember USA Vice-President Cheney and weapons of mass destruction? I mention Cheney for I never believed George W. Bush was the real president, did you? Anyway, in files released by the CIA, Saddam Hussein stated that he “falsely let the world believe Iran had weapons of mass destruction because he feared revealing his weakness to Iran, the hostile neighbor he considered a bigger threat than the U.S.” Another small point as to why I don’t believe all I read or hear. But the question now for our Candidates is what is our foreign policy dealing with President Ahmadinejad and Iran? When any country’s political leader is brazen enough to say that “Israelis and the Jewish people are filthy bacteria,” you know we’re headed for another conflict, thus Iran needs to be looked at not only for its nuclear program, but also on its domestic repression and genocidal incitement. Let’s not have another genocide similar to Balkans, Rwanda and Darfur.

Yet on another international issue, we the voters need to know will we be protected by our government when and if we travel abroad. The recent case of Suaad Hagi Mohamud’s identity crisis and lack of government support is not only shameful but also un-Canadian. What political actions/policies would be put in place to insure our protection if elected?

Nationally, what are the political parties’ platforms and financial plans to get us out of this national debt? The Liberals once said that tax increases might be needed, for which the Tories send out scare ads telling us that the Liberals will, if elected, increase our taxes. Political sense has since prevailed and the Liberals are now saying there will not be tax increases. Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty is preparing a plan that, according to the prime minister, no tax hikes and no deep spending cuts will be needed. But then again these two politicians were elected to this minority government, campaigning on the fact that there wasn’t going to be a recession—remember that one? As far as claiming that the federal program of mass stimulus packages are working, the federal budget

A watchdog says “there’s no proof it worked and if anything had very little impact.” I have an idea where it is; it’s in our new deficit, and we’d better pay it off soon or once again history will repeat itself and we’ll be paying millions in interest to banks. What are the various parties’ plans? And how are going to pay for it? Specifics, please. One group that will not be paying for it are the bank executives, who, even after the European capped bonuses for bank executives, our Finance Minister Flaherty says, “It doesn’t particularly apply to Canada.” What is he saying or thinking or not thinking? Oh yes, this minister has had difficulty with having the banks reduce interest rates on credit cards, so I understand now. You have loads of questions here, from all parties on banks, bonus, rates etc. If, like me, you believe Canada is a fine place and worth fighting for, then come along and get involved. It’s your right, privilege and duty.

Organizations: CIA

Geographic location: Canada, Iran, Afghanistan Kandahar Germany Britain U.S. Balkans Rwanda Darfur

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