There's a new bland ad in town and its fixing to bore you with platitudes... China and India, I suppose that is the focus Mr Ignatieff is taking in his promise to do better by opening new markets overseas. The first Liberal ad made a distinct mention of those two developing super-economies. What possible commodity that isn't dug out of the Albertan ground in a stench of pollution could we sell those two behemoths? There's nothing that we can manufacture and ship there cheaper. India is quickly taking over a greater and greater percentage of our customer service and telemarketing sector. China is the world's factory. Who the hell does Ignatieff think this overseas market is going to be comprised of, Tongo?
The Conservatives are a duplicitous bunch of inept fuckwits and Canada had better hope and pray that we have better options than a bunch of second hand Mike Harris' losers like Clement and Flaherty. They are living exceptions to the Peter Principle, failing their way up the ladder, one dimwitted rung at a time. But really, Michael Ignatieff is supposed to be able to "do better" by pretending to be a comfie casual dude in his demin shirt in front of a tree. Gord help us, we're fucked. With the United States rapidly losing its collective marbles, turning into the fat, white and deeply stupid version of Mad Max with bibles, we'd better come up with some ideas to fix our own mess, in our own house.
I've been sniffed at for lipping off about the Liberal's sad assed choice of leadership but leadership is only part of the equation. I don't believe that Canada's future rests in a desperate effort to try and compete in the manufacturing sector with a workforce of almost two and a half billion in asia. That's utterly fucking naive. Canada needs to pay attention to global issues and concerns but our problems are here at home with us, we'd best start conjuring up some solutions here too. We have an energy sector that is artificially strong, disgustingly filthy and non-renewable. We spend enough natural gas to heat three million Canadian homes on the extraction of tar sands oil every year. Alberta now produces more greenhouse gases than some European nations. There are plans to triple the scale of the tar sands. Then, every year, enough gas to heat nine million homes will be spent boiling up poisonous filth and the tailings ponds will grow to become unmanageable, toxic, inland seas. And all of that money will disappear into a few pockets and we the people will be left to foot the bill of remediation. The short term gain of the few now outweighs the long term health of the nation.
What is Igantieff's bold plan to "invest in Canadian know-how"? Where is the bold initiative? My gut feeling, my every instinct tells me that the learned man, the self-styled great man, has not the first inkling of an imagination up to the task of changing course in this turbulent era. He and Stephen Harper are two of a kind. They are cut rate pols who subsist on slogans and focus groups and polls. There isn't a lick of actual vision between them. What we need to see in this nation is a fundamental tack out of the failing currents we're in. There are some very basic needs that are imperative and that are threatened. We need clean air, water and land. We need well insulated, efficient shelter and a ready supply of nutritious foods. We need the best possible education and first rate health care services. We need a vibrant and accessible cultural and artistic sector. And most important, we need each other, communities, families both by bloodline and by choice. We need a solid legal system founded on the rule of law and rooted in both justice and compassion.
We do not need the artifice of petty princes arrayed in denim. We need real ideas that will work for real people, in their homes, neighbourhoods and communities. Canada has committed a grave sin of stupidity by building unsustainable, sprawling cities on some of the world's finest arable land. We have fallen into the trap of the ostentatious show of trinkets and disposable treasure. So here are a few of the things that Michael Igantieff and Stephen Harper will not be bringing forward for our nation in this time of... what did the artificial grin call it... oh yes, "the restructuring of our economy".
1. Reduce energy use. The single largest non-renewable expenditure of energy is in housing and our homes are among the largest sources of greenhouse gases. All new housing must meet or exceed LEED standards. Marketing is an amazing thing. If smaller, more efficient homes are made desirable we can turn away from the vulgar stupidity of the suburban monstrosities that have dominated the real estate markets. Canada needs to take a leadership role in the areas of design and architecture, materials and building technology. And that starts from the ground up. Meaning minimizing reliance on fossil fuels for heating. New homes, unless geology prevents it, should be built on a geothermal foundation. Supplementary heating to be derived from passive solar and solar water heating. These are all technologies that exist and are readily available. Insulation, structural berming and north/south orientation for maximum efficiency make plain common sense and smaller structures require less energy. On the high tech end, computerized internal climate control can further reduce expense and energy. A cornerstone of home renovation industries must be the conversion to geothermal heating where possible, an instant billion dollar industry that makes homes safer, warmer and more secure.
2. Fresh, local foods. During the great depression and the second world war, families looked to their gardens to help provide food. Today we have vast expanses of grass, useless living carpet. I propose offering significant cuts in property taxes to homes that generate their own food. We need to sow the seeds of an urban agrarian movement, return some of the vast tracts of urban and suburban land to productive use. What better summer employment for young people and seniors, therein is the continuity of community and culture. The less food we consume that has to be flown, shipped and trucked, the less drain on infrastructure, the lower the energy cost of our sustenance and the better we can trust our food supply. Community gardens build communities.
3. Information technology and digital workplaces. I live in the technology triangle of Southern Ontario and our local roads are clogged with commuters belching fumes and welling with stress. Every spring the infrastructure is torn up due to exceeding capacity. I propose a reduction of provincial and federal income taxes for employees who work no less than two days per week from home. A similar tax relief incentive program to be arranged with employers who maintain a 20% lower on site work force. That coupled with the reduction in overhead for property, heating and square footage makes for massive savings and presents a distinct advantage to businesses considering locating their offices here.
4. Education and opportunity. Every single child in this country should have the opportunity to attend a college or university. Education should be something that is ongoing throughout our lives. As technologies change, the failure to retrain our workforce makes our workers obsolete. Tuition fees must come down sharply and enrollment must go up just as sharply. The education paradigm is ripe for change and telepresence, distance education and the virtual classroom are all possible at a minimum of cost. We must look for new solutions to the cost of education, it makes no sense to spend the energy of the recent graduate on overwhelming burdens of educational debt. Further, when it comes to copyright and intellectual property issues, it is cultural suicide to think that locking down art and information and holding it ransom through onerous legislation is to any benefit beyond an incredibly short term. Fair use provisions and sharing must be accommodated, digital course materials should be exempt from taxes and intellectual property owners compensated for their contribution through tax incentives. Screw the DMCA and other restrictive intellectual property scams. Canada should stand firm against the implementation of DRM technologies and the antisocial implementation of EULAs.
5. The arts and cultural sectors. Canada has long been a source of great art and entertainment. We grow brilliant writers, actors, musicians, artists and entertainers and we let them leave to be swallowed up by the slob next door. It is high time that Canada takes a rightful place as one of the world's premier hubs for art and entertainment. The nature of the film and television industries are changing and we are supremely well situated to take a much larger slice of the billions of dollars generated every year in the international marketplace. Hollywood north needn't be a branch office. We have the infrastructure, technology, technical and creative talents to make the greatest films in the world. Toronto's film industry is languishing for one reason and only one reason, there is blessed little home grown investment. We lack the courage and fortitude to see the vastness of our potential. Many of my friends are looking for work outside of the industry because he American film work they depend on isn't coming here. Using the Canadian Film Centre model as a jumping off point we need to develop partnerships between business, government and the creative sectors. There's no reason that our creative resources should be for export only. The next James Cameron or Norman Jewison shouldn't be forced to leave home to have a chance to work. On a smaller scale, there is a new and untested market getting ready to explode through the Youtubes and internet based distribution models, we need to invest in young creators to get a toe hold in these new markets and forms. It will be all too easy to be left behind and any slack jawed conservative that can't see the value in investing in the arts needs to be mocked without mercy as the creative sector already represents more than 10% of our GDP.
These are just a few of the notions that come to me off the top of my head. And here's Michael Ignatieff's new commercial. What do you think?