November 24, 2000 Halifax Herald
A number of things bugs this columnist
A number of things bugs this columnist
This column is about things that bug me. From day one of the federal election campaign, Prime Minister Jean Chretien, as he crisscrossed the country, has lamented how government funded health services have deteriorated and how it must be protected from the Alliance. Since it was his government that cut back drastically on funding for the program, his sanctimonious posturing about protecting the service seems rather incredulous. Electors would be on the mark if they asked: If the Liberals are re-elected, who will protect health services from them the next time they decide to do some cutting?
The Liberal posturing about protecting health care is so far out, it reminds me of this statement made by Governor Jonathan Belcher to the Mi'kmaq Chiefs at the Burying of the Hatchet ceremony in Halifax in 1761: "...this mighty king...has (the) power to protect you...against the rage and cruelties of the oppressor." Since the Mi'kmaq had only known one oppressor, the English, the Chiefs must have wondered with great curiosity what measures the governor would take to protect them from the English.
Adding more to the incredulity of the Liberal position is the indignation they express about what they claim is a push by the Alliance to establish a two tier health system. From what I've seen of special treatment for the empowered under Liberal administrations, it can be stated without reservation that such already exists and has since day one. If you doubt this assertion, go search hospitals across this land and find a political bigwig housed in a hallway or waiting for any length of time for an operation or treatment. They get VIP treatment while many cloutless, hurting taxpayers expire or suffer unneeded delay because of staff shortages caused by - you guessed it - Liberal cutbacks.
What increases the incredulity beyond belief is the fact that so many among the electorate have swallowed the Liberal position hook line and sinker. Hey, folks! Have you forgotten that downloading on the provinces is what balanced the federal books and is now forcing the provinces to download on the municipalities? The end result is that we're paying more taxes while the Liberals are twisting things around to make it appear that they've reduced them. This kind of fact manipulation is what the pros call political spin.
My next peeve is the high tax governments have put on heating oil. A few weeks ago, the oil company came and topped off the tank. The cost was $177.12, plus $26.57 HST, total $203.69. Just who is really ripping off the consumers the most; the oil companies or government? A good portion of the $177.12 is also tax. Therefore, when governments add HST to the $177.12, they are taxing the taxes already included. That is not defensible in this cold country. This lack of conscience is also displayed by the fact that they tax clothing, housing and non-prescription drugs.
Then there is the border ripoff. In September, Pat and I were in Saint John attending a conference, when a rescheduling of events presented us with some time to kill. As a diversion, we decided to take a quick trip to Maine. At a Christmas store and a Wall Mart in Calais, we purchased a few odds and ends. When we went to recross the border, Canada Customs descended on us like a plague. They got so enthusiastic that they even wanted to tax food - a few cans of Boston baked beans and coffee. We managed to fight them off in this regard, but they got their pound of flesh anyway by taxing the few Christmas decorations Pat had bought ($50.US). To add salt to the wound, last week I received a book as a gift from a friend in Louisiana. Guess what? Canada Customs charged $3.22 GST and $5 for handling.
What ever happened to free trade? If Canada keeps shaking down Canadians daring to buy a bit of American goods, it will be only a matter of time before United States authorities start retaliating. In order to avoid this, it’s time for our countries to enter into a free-passage agreement that will close border-crossing checkpoints. The present, expensive system doesn't prevent drugs and other contraband from entering either country; all it does is aggravate law-abiding citizens on both sides of the border.
The issue of Sunday shopping is back in the headlines again. The big question I have is; why not? The vast majority of jurisdictions throughout North America have it and the same probably can be said for those around the world. And, believe or not, the world hasn't stopped rotating because of it. It’s time to get with the times!
Highway 101 is also high on my list of peeves. The times I've driven over this nightmare is beyond recall. The road is poorly designed, it retains water and has very few passing lanes. This scarcity of passing lanes is viewed as a joy by drivers who drive very slowly where one can't pass, and then go like a bat out of hell where one can. I fully support twining it from Kentville to Halifax. I do so, knowing that after it is used for several years, it will wind up like the 102 - having more than its fair share of potholes because the province can't afford to maintain it. The 103 between Bridgewater and Halifax is another dangerous road that is in dire need of a twin.
On a less serious note: Where, oh where, can I get fresh eggs? The "fresh" ones supermarkets offer often give the appearance, when broken open, that they've been stored in a hot room for a month. Refrigerate them from the hen to the table, PLEASE!
Daniel N. Paul