RALPH GOODALE’S REPORT
A weekly commentary by the Member of Parliament for Wascana
A new year should be a time to anticipate the future with fresh optimism, but instead, the federal government is telling Canadians to curb their enthusiasm, and even orders Parliament to get out of town.
Lower your expectations, and don’t look to Conservatives for encouragement – that’s the message from Stephen Harper.
The economy may be crawling out of a deep recession, but there’s still a long way to go. Signs of feeble growth emerged at the end of 2009, but recovery is not yet tangible for a big majority of Canadians:
- 60% of those over 30 say they’re worse-off today than when the recession started;
- Canada’s standard of living has dropped by 4.5%;
- one-third of middle-income families have so much debt (in addition to their mortgages) that it will take more than three years to pay off, even if the prime interest rate stays at 0.25%;
- three-quarters of those over 45 are worried about surviving financially once they retire; and
- all of this is on top of the hard reality that more than 1.5 million Canadians remain out of work, and many of their pre-recession jobs are not coming back.
In these circumstances, it’s cold comfort for Mr. Harper to say we should all be glad we’re not in as big a mess as the United States.
Surely our measure of success should be something more than just being “less badly off” than the country that started the whole recession under George Bush.
We need to aspire to excellence, not mediocrity.
And that requires a government that’s pro-active – stimulating innovative new jobs, investing in the best education (from early childhood development to post-graduate degrees), advancing science and technology, and securing decent retirement incomes for seniors.
Parliament should be in session, and working on issues like these.
Ralph Goodale, M.P.