Feeding Poor Children: Not a Tory Priority

This man doesn't care about your starving child.
This man doesn’t care about your starving child.

Straight from the horse ass’ mouth, Tory industry minister James Moore says it’s not his responsibility to feed his neighbour’s child, this in reference to the fact that child poverty is an area of provincial jurisdiction, not federal.

The minister, who represents Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam (a part of Metro Vancouver) in parliament, reminded us that the Tories are doing an excellent job keeping ‘kids’ bellies full’ by cutting taxes and apparently creating jobs, even though unemployment rose last month in British Columbia, and that province further has one of the higher rates of childhood poverty. One in seven Canadian children live in poverty, and despite a unanimous motion passed in the House of Commons in 1989 to eliminate childhood poverty in Canada by the year 2000, nothing was done (other than, somewhat absurdly, renewing the motion nine years after the initially-projected date of completion). Minister Moore argued that the Fed can’t be responsible for making sure kids get a breakfast, and that he wouldn’t support an ‘intrusion’ of the federal government into realms of provincial control.

Moore was emphatic: “We’ve never been wealthier as a country than we are right now. Never been wealthier.”

Bullshit.

1. Today the average Canadian is burdened with the highest individual and household debt rates in our nation’s recorded history.

2. Our real estate market is the most overvalued in the world and an entire generation of Canadians lack sufficient means to own their own home.

3. Our currency is projected to lose about a dime’s worth of value in the next year.

4. Wealth is increasingly concentrated in the hands of our local ‘top one percent’.

5. By some estimates we have one of the world’s most over-educated workforces with far too few jobs requiring that level of skill, which in turn results in stagnant salaries for people with increasingly expensive tertiary educations and an influx of highly-skilled workers into job categories normally filled by people with lesser skill levels. The cascading effect has arguably pushed about 2.5 million Canadians into a near-permanent underclass of unemployed people.

6. Our economy is less well-balanced than it once was, as manufacturing has declined significantly our wealth is now almost exclusively generated by environmentally and economically unsustainable primary resource extraction.

7. The middle class has had its economic foundation as well as the social safety net steadily dismantled over the course of the last thirty years, though the process has picked up of late. First went the industrial jobs, then many of the white collar jobs too. Jobs that brought pride to the worker and bought a home, a car, a retirement, vacations and educations were replaced by service-sector jobs that lack in both pay and benefits. Our economy isn’t driven by production anymore, but rather by consumption. Across the country a plethora of communities have lost the means of production and have seen big-box stores, casinos and call centres becomes the primary local economic drivers. Now, the middle class faces new challenges, namely in terms of retirement planning, since the Tories are insistent the Canada Pension Plan not be extended.

Wealthy?

No, we’re not wealthy.

Not when three-quarters of Canadians can’t make any RRSP contributions in a given year. We can’t possibly be a wealthy country if the Tories believe, as they insist is gospel, that 50,000 jobs will be lost if individual contributions to the Canada Pension Plan are increased.

Real wealth doesn’t work that way; wealth is derived from saving money, even if it is mandatory. Yet Canadians are making less than they were a generation ago. Costs keep rising and salaries haven’t kept pace with the value of what we produce. This is fully untenable.

And while I concur that minister Moore is correct in his assertion that combating child poverty is tactically the responsibility of the provincial governments, it is of strategic federal concern.

The federal government provides regulations and guidelines for food inspection, education standards and hospital operations, so why not extend this to guaranteeing no child goes hungry as well, and providing provinces with the means to address this particularly onerous and shameful problem?

The federal government has a responsibility to all Canadians, and childhood poverty is of concern to all. And yet all this government does is hack away at the social fabric, the safety net and the people’s ability to maintain a proud and powerful middle class.

Ending childhood poverty is exactly the kind of major problem only the federal government has the means to properly, and expeditiously, address. There’s nothing stopping the Fed from leading the provinces in a combined effort to eradicate this problem, aside from a complete and total lack of will.

And there you have it, the Tory MO.

It’s not in their interest to bring this country together. It’s not in their interest to make the state work for the people, because all this does is remove new realms of profit for the ruthlessly expedient among our business class. It’s not in the Tories’ interest to make Canada Post work, nor to keep the CPP well-funded, because their strength and their power comes from dismantling and privatizing as much of this as is possible.

If we continue down this path, what next? Will we privatize our prisons? Will we privatize healthcare? Will we privatize the army too?

In any event I’m off point. I read this article and felt sick to my stomach – this is the kind of sleaze we’ve allowed into government. He has been trained only to repeat the talking points about cutting taxes and the apparent link to the creation of jobs, even though time and time again it has proven such is almost never the case. Lowering taxes on the already wealthy only makes them wealthier, it never enriches the people nor the state.

So when this industry minister tells you just how wealthy we are, remember always that the we he is referring to isn’t you, or I for that matter. He is referring to those who are already wealthy, to the small clique of elites who’ve parked their support behind the most regressive and stubborn political elements in our country and far too many of our allies. This is a man who knows nothing of his people, has no vision for their collective future, and has no qualms whatsoever about his disinterest in dealing with childhood poverty.

In a normally functioning democracy, such callous disregard for the lives of Canadian children would require an enhanced RCMP personal security detail for the minister. It is a profoundly sad irony this is the same party that argues anyone supporting the legalization of marijuana is, in effect, looking to personally sell drugs to minors (and a more specious argument I’ve never heard in my entire life. What’s worse, it betrays the general lack of knowledge Tories have about how economy works – do they honestly think children have much money for drugs?)

One thought on “Feeding Poor Children: Not a Tory Priority”

  1. I emailed the Minster yesterday to thank him for motivating me to donate to a local foodbank in addition to a donation I made to the Gazette Xmas Fund – I exolained to to him that I felt it was everyone’s responsibility to feed hungry children and I hope he would make a donation – no response yet.

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