Rural areas of Canada and the U.S. are strongholds for Conservative/Reform/Republican politics. Words like liberal, welfare, rights, environmentalism are bandied about like slurs, while abstract concepts like pullling yourself up by your bootstraps, making your own work, and loyalty to your country and used almost as religious mantras and identifiers of the true believers. Spin doctors are quick to latch on to this blind faith and give impassioned speeches about the farmer, the way things were, the heartland. But do they really have their best interests at heart? Time and again it seems the answer is no.
Travel back with me to Alberta circa 2004 when having been promised a major bail out from the government farmers found out that;
…more than 10 per cent of the province’s $400 million in mad cow aid went to two meat-packing companies: Lakeside Farm Industries and Cargill Foods. The province’s agriculture minister says they got the biggest cheques because they have the most invested in the industry.
That doesn’t sound like they value the Canadian farmer above their corporate buddies now does it?
Now what about that “respected” think tank the C.D. Howe Institute and their report that Canada Post should be privatized? A decision that the Harper administration seems set to move on.
From the report, “..First, it is not clear that the USO requires strictly uniform prices and services across regions. As with other goods or services provided to remote or sparsely populated communities, one of the burdens of residing in such communities is the additional transportation and communication costs of providing goods and services over longer distances. The costs of travel to a hospital, for example, or the cost or scarcity of public transportation, are more burdensome for rural communities…”
What this is saying is the postal rates will increase exponentially the further away from a major center that you are. And in some instances you may have to travel to a designated area to pick up your mail. Said designated area not likely the local town post office you deal with now.
Image via WikipediaThe problem is that private companies do not care about the citizenry as whole. They care about the bottom line and ways to inflate it. Providing service and miles of wire to a few scattered homes is not in their shareholders best interests. And so while the report on Canada Post assumes that the slack will be taken up by internet transactions they fail to recognize that most rural homes rely on dial up service which is not the ideal way to conduct business online. The takeover of BCE seems to be presenting no improvement for rural service either.
Bell Aliant could be sold if the new owners aren’t interested in rural wireline service, or they might purchase the stake it doesn’t already own.
The report also presumes that everyone has access to a computer or knowledge of how to use one. CAPS programs which are especially useful in rural areas are regularly being scaled back, underfunded and at risk of being scrapped altogether.
The Harper government has shown utter contempt for grain farmers.
In June, for the third time in 11 months, a federal court ruled that his government willfully broken Canadian laws. In October 2006, the PM erased the CWB’s right to speak freely to the farmers it serves.
Keep in mind that any communication with farmers is paid for by farmers, not taxpayers, and the Wheat Board is controlled by farmers.
Ruling on the gag order case, Federal Court Justice Robert T. Hughes was shocked by the government’s actions, and said, in part, “It is entirely clear … that the (government) directive (was) motivated principally to silencing the wheat board…”.
The Harper government has slashed proposed Canadian Grain Commission funding by up to 67% in some areas – putting at risk vital programs that protect producers and Canada’s international reputation for quality grain.
The proposed cuts are in line with the Harper government’s plans, but legislation (Bill C-39) to gut the Canadian Grain Commission has not yet been approved by Parliament. Now that the House of Commons has adjourned for the summer, the government has no business carrying through with these planned cuts.
Please join with us to urge Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz to reverse his government’s planned cuts.
I was often surprised when I was living in a rural area at the tory talking points that were repeated as gospel based on the assumption that the government represented their views and their concerns. Yet so often this was not the case.
Many women on farms work in the closest town to supplement family income and require daycare. Yet they voted in droves for a government that not only refused more spaces but cut some of the precious few there were.
These are but a few of the ways this government fails those who support them.
Other parties need to stop letting the ‘Conservative’ governments set the talking points. They need to show rural communities real interest, real support and peel back the facade exposing the reality of a government whose true loyalties follow the money.
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