Pubdate: Thu, 13 Aug 2015
Source: Era, The (CN ON, Newmarket)
Copyright: Metroland 2015


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.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom