Thursday, March 31, 2011

campaign acrobats

The election campaign is less than a week old, and I already want a bottle of Pepto Bismol. I'm not complaining . . . no one should complain about the privilege to vote (even though it's the fourth time in seven years). And yes, I fully understand that those poor North Koreans and Cubans would give their right arms to have a free vote just once, and the Libyans are already giving their right arms. I just wish we could have an election without the lousy circus acrobatics. Here's what I've learned from the campaign so far:

  • Harper is a dictator that hates democracy

  • Ignatieff plans to make a reckless coalition

  • Layton could potentially be a reckless coalition member

  • Duceppe might be reckless coalition member, but he really wants to sever Canada in two

  • Elizabeth May doesn't exist

Of course I've heard nuggets of policy about tax cuts for small business, green energy, grants for college students, and caps on credit card interest rates, but who cares about superficial stuff when we can watch a political jousting match, with candidates skewering and roasting their opponents like souvlaki over a barbcue?

I refuse to endorse any of the five parties, partly because this isn't a political blog (honest), and partly because I'm a dough-brained bush boy from the peripheral edge of the universe that barely has enough political savvy to vote.

I do know that Mr. Rafferty is a down-to-earth, get-er-done, friend of volunteer firefighters. I also know that Brian Jean ignored my email about supporting Rafferty's motion for volunteer firefighters. The Northern Alberta MP may have better things to do than chat with a two-bit Ontario fire chief, but a simple, "Shut up and leave me alone," from one of his aides would have been better than complete silence.

The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs wants us to vote Conservative to ensure that the volunteer firefighter tax credit makes it into the budget. The president of the New Brunswick Association of Fire Chiefs thinks the tax credit will make it into the budget regardless of who gains the most votes. I take the fatalistic view that it's more complex than simply Conservatives or Liberals in power, and that both parties will act according their best interests . . . which may or may not be our best interests. I do sincerely hope that some party will put my inner cynic to rest. It's hard work always expecting your government to let you down.

Even if the tax credit survives, they'd better not say, "You got what you wanted. Now shut up and let us get on with important stuff." The volunteer fire service must become part of the "important stuff" in every budget.

A $3000 tax credit is a good start, but it won't stop the hemorrhaging of personnel from our ranks, especially in small communities. Think about it. $450 - or even $700 - off a tax bill is a nice piece of money, and will be much appreciated by volunteers that put in the required 200 hours. However, if an employer only valued your time at $2.25 - $3.50 per hour, would you stand in line for the job? I dare say that if our politicians would work for that price, we'd see the Canadian deficit vanish faster than wet snow in June.

Still not complaining, by the way. Many volunteers do it for nothing, and this will be a well-deserved break for them.

If it survives.

[Here's where I grab my inner cynic by the throat, hurl him to the floor, and try to throttle the life out of him once and for all. Only 32 more blogging days until the election . . .]

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