Pubdate: Thu, 13 Aug 2015 Source: Aurora Banner, The (CN ON) Copyright: Metroland 2015 Contact: http://www.yorkregion.com/aurora-on/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/5430 WHY IS HARPER INVENTING ISSUES? ISSUE: Prime minister seems to be waging campaign based on fear-mongering. 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 activities. 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 weed. 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 success. 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 night.