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Our Debates Don’t Serve Canadians

I watched the French debate on TVA last week, the first of two French debates. Why is that? French Canadians and French Quebecers form less that 25% of the population, yet there are twice as many French debates as there are English. Another French debate today, Wednesday the 8th, and the other, finally in English, on Thursday. If we are to respect Canadian demographics, shouldn’t there be three English debates to one French debate? Not sure of the reason but I can guess. Quebec is vitally important to any party that wants to win a majority. Justin Trudeau failed to take home all the chips in Quebec in 2019, because a newcomer, with an at home forum to display him, the Bloc’s Yves-Francois Blanchet, ‘un gas de Chambly-Beloeil’, stole the show, in French. And stole Trudeau’s majority.

If Canada purports to be officially bilingual, why don’t we have a bilingual debate? Interpreters of course required, but it’s feasible. I agree it could get messy when one leader talks over another as we often see and hear, but if that’s how they are going to conduct themselves, that’s the way it’ll be seen, and heard.

Do all these debates really serve all Canadians. Certainly not. This first French debate highlighted the pandemic, social issues and ‘le Canada de Demain’. We could have a debate on each of these topics. Discussion on the handling of the pandemic, and the billions of unaccounted expenditures could easily take up an hour or two. A debate on the pros and cons of free and lavish spending in the weeks leading up to the election call, another two hours. We could have a debate on Afghanistan. Despite its initial noble purpose, and some last-minute heroic efforts, it was a catastrophic miscalculation, and considered a 20-year failure by the Americans and all those who helped out. That would definitely include Canada. We deployed 40 thousand members of the Canadian Armed Forces, lost 168 men and women, and sustained two thousand injuries.

The west does not give a damn about Quebec, but it should when it comes to Bill 96. It not only affects western Canada but all Canadians. As the respected former Quebec minister Clifford Lincoln puts it, the bill is “the substitution of the National Assembly for the courts of law, as the arbiter of language provisions in the bill.”. This could easily apply to other provinces, not necessarily affecting language, but our sacred Canadian rights. That’s why all Canadians should pay attention.

How about a debate just on our Public Health system? But the moderator(s) has to probe when there is mention of those billions of dollars given to the provinces. This should not be an exercise in accounting. It’s about what is relative and meaningful to you and me the viewers. We want to know how this money would be used, and how it would benefit you and me when God forbid, we are sent to emergency, or admitted for surgery. Would it reduce wait time in the ER? Would it eliminate having to seek medical assistance in the US, Mexico, or Europe? Would it add more nurses? How would it raise the poor standards, and medical professionalism in long term care homes?

Debates can be extremely useful as a means of informing the electorate. Instead, this quick two-hour debate we are exposed to, whether French or English, is centered on who won and who lost. Who cares? The vote results will determine that. It should not be about whether the debate results advance a leader in the polls because he/she articulated their position well, but rather what did I learn as a tax paying viewer about their respective program content, its viability, and credibility. It’s about leadership qualities, and whether the head of that party will deliver for me as a Prime Minister. That’s what it’s all about, or should be.

The process of mail in votes will start soon. It will be a new experience for many of the over 27 million Canadians registered. I’m still in the dark about why we are holding an election at this time when the majority of us do not want to go to the polls during the 4th wave of a Covid 19 pandemic. No one has adequately answered that question, especially the person who called this election.

The nearly 80% of us who have been vaccinated wonder why, and frankly want these impudent hooligans, anti vaxxers, screaming vitriol in front of hospitals, to stop. STOP. It’s the height of disrespect for the health care workers, crying out their frustration and fatigue. And it’s rude and disrespectful to the patients in those hospitals trying to recover from surgery, and Covid-19.

That’s What I’m Thinking

Robert Vairo