By Patrick Meagher
There’s a federal election on Oct. 19 and Canadians are agonizing over who should get their vote. There’s talk of balancing the budget by some parties whose promises would put us so far in the hole that one wonders where the billions of dollars would come from to pay for them.
As I see it, the political playing field needs an overhaul to keep promises and actions in check. This brings me to my wish list, my dreams of radical change to improve the way government runs. (Caution: Very little of what you read will likely ever come to pass.)
1. Tie a politician’s wage to a balanced budget (emergency funds for well-defined emergency situations don’t count). If the budget balances, each MP gets a 100 per cent bonus of his or her salary. Considering the size of the Canadian budget, the bonus is peanuts well spent to keep elephant projects and cash grabs off the table. But if the budget doesn’t balance, the MP loses an equal percentage of pay for every percentage increase over budget. You want a wallet-busting budget? Then let the MPs be the first to pay for it.
2. Bonuses for MPs who pass bills that don’t raise taxes. Bills that save the taxpayer money and implemented ideas will mean another bonus. Before you scream that MPs could start pulling in big, fat incomes, let me tell you that it would be wonderful if they did. Bigger pay for them means bigger savings and a better life for us. Not sure how the NDP, the party of “yes,” would benefit. In my brave new world, they might be the grumpiest in the House of Commons.
3. Raise the voting age to 30. I base this on the axiom that with experience comes wisdom. That would quash the legalizing of the ridiculous, like smoking pot. But what about cradle to grave infantilism? Children inflated by age? The 21st century social reconstruct that has created adults who don’t want to grow up? I would give the electorate extra votes if they prove they are big enough boys and girls. How so? They have to have skin in the game. Got property? You get an extra vote because the laws and the tax system matter more to you. Got kids? You get an extra vote because you have a stake in the future. Got more than three kids? You get another vote. Got a criminal record? You’ve lost your right to vote for two elections. Violent criminal offender? You don’t get to vote again. If you have property or business interests in other countries or dual citizenship, you lose your extra votes because your interests are divided. I could go on. You get the picture.
4. I would follow the U.S. example and end a prime minister’s term after two full terms. Rightly earned or not, baggage piles up. I understand that after many years people want change and, like this year, they don’t seem to care what kind of change. Just change. Sounds like tantrum voting. Did I mention raising the age of voting?
This idea would actually have benefited the Conservative Party. As of the first week in September, 50 per cent of voters in this election were undecided. If Prime Minister Stephen Harper had decided one year ago to pass the torch, he would likely have secured another Conservative victory. Canadians are not fed up with Conservative policies but are unconvinced by the face that leads it.
5. Families are the building block of any society. It is in the family where children learn how to conduct themselves before they are released into the world. Therefore, parties must be encouraged to put families first. I would, therefore, not pressure families into sending their babies to daycare with the carrot of a $15 per day service. What child from a good family would say “yes,” if asked: “Would you like to be raised by someone other than your mother and father?”
Give tax credits to all parents and subsidize parents who stay home to raise their babies to school-age if one must also subsidize daycare. But give a parent an opportunity to stay home with a child. You can’t deny that parents are best suited to raise their own children and a parent, who quits a job to stay home, has just created a new job for someone else.
These are just some of things I wish for. I’ll stop whining if I could at least get a balanced budget. I could be waiting a long time.