Pubdate: Thu, 13 Aug 2015
Source: Aurora Banner, The (CN ON)
Copyright: Metroland 2015


ISSUE: Prime minister seems to be waging campaign based on

While it's far too early to predict precisely what this nascent
federal election will be "about", it looks increasingly likely,
judging from the conduct of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, that the
Conservative government seeks to wage a campaign based around fear.

Harper wasted little time in the days following the election call
casting himself as the lone hero who could protect us from the horrors
of a "Netflix tax", which would, without a doubt, in the prime
minister's mind, be introduced by a new government helmed by either
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau or NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair.

If there's one thing that can tingle the spine of any Canadian, it's the 
thought of paying yet another tax, but there was one problem with the 
narrative laid out by Harper: neither Trudeau nor Mulcair had proposed a 
tax on Netflix or said anything on the subject one way or another.

Social and mainstream media were quick to seize on to that fact and
satirists swiftly lampooned the campaign.

Fear mongering was again the tactic earlier this week as Harper played
the public safety card and vowed to crack down on "terror tourism",
which is, barring Canadians from travelling to certain parts of the
world unless they had a government-approved reason for going there.

Without delving into the slippery slope such a law would create and
the fact some Canadians could lose the ability to visit family who
simply have the misfortune of living in a terrorism hotspot, it's
unclear how big a problem this truly is - the Conservatives themselves
said terror tourists could number as many as 210 in 2014 - and why
such a law would be required when existing legislation already
prohibits citizens from travelling abroad to take part in terrorist

Harper was back at it Tuesday, this time warning that relaxed
marijuana laws would harm the health of Canadians, encourage more
people to start using drugs and make it easier for children to obtain

While these are tired prohibition arguments, the prime minister also,
curiously, made reference to Colorado, a state which, since legalizing
marijuana, has, indeed, seen an uptick in users, but has also
experienced increases in revenue and tourism.

Its decision to legalize pot has largely been seen as a

Ultimately, it begs the question: don't we have enough real problems
to debate in this election campaign without the prime minister
conjuring up imaginary ones?

In last week's Maclean's debate, Harper himself conceded, when pressed
by Mulcair, that Canada was in a recession, although he attributed the
lion's share of the blame for the economic contraction on the energy
sector and said the rest of the economy is growing and will continue
to do so.

Obviously, we can't say if that prediction will prove true, but the
fact remains there are some serious and very real concerns with the
economy at the moment.

The loonie is hovering around an 11-year low of 76 cents - with
slumping oil prices largely to blame - and, while the unemployment
rate has held at 6.8 per cent over the past six months, recent reports
point to a troubling trend where overall job creation is up, but with
lower paying, part-time positions and self employment taking the place
of decent-paying, full-time work.

We propose it's more likely the economy keeping Canadians awake at
night, rather than boogeymen such as alleged Netflix taxes, terror
tourism and our kids buying marijuana at the local convenience store.

By all means, let's have a campaign, but there are enough pressing
issues to debate without inventing new ones.

BOTTOM LINE: Let's focus on real issues that keep Canadians awake at