The Conservatives must stop dismantling our public institutions

Everyone has played dominoes at least once in their life. We all know how long it takes to meticulously place each piece in the right spot, and how easy it is to knock the whole thing down with one wrong move.

Please excuse the analogy, but the same goes for our public services. People worked together and engaged in social struggles to build these public services, but these services are increasingly being targeted by Stephen Harper’s troops, who are visibly determined to rip them to shreds.

 Members of the Conservative government are direct descendants of the Reformers of the 90s. These services represent nothing but an obstacle between them and slightly lower taxes. Since that time, the form has changed but the substance has not: they have taken a step back from their full-frontal verbal attacks on our institutions. They now claim to support them, but covertly do everything they can to weaken these services.

 CBC/Radio-Canada is the perfect example of what these kind of tactics look like. No longer do Conservative members openly spout venom at the crown corporation and call for the public broadcaster to be shut down altogether. Instead, they claim to support its mission, but they have made massive cuts since they came to power. As a result, there are fewer journalists, whole chunks of programming have disappeared and flagship programs such as Enquête have to make do withlimited means. In the meantime, the Minister of Heritage is twiddling her thumbs in the face of an evolving media landscape.

 CBC/Radio-Canada is just one example of many. It is becoming increasing difficult for an unemployed worker to qualify for employment insurance. Canada Post has dealt with blow after blow, with a lock out and then the end of home delivery. VIA Rail has been abandoned and has cut service across the country. Federal funding of the health care system is plummeting. Even our scientific libraries are being quietly dismantled!

This continued weakening is nothing short of a death by a thousand cuts. These essential services, to which all Canadians contribute and which serve the common good, will certainly be weakened by the Conservatives’ relentless attacks.

However, although the Conservatives believe that Canada’s social safety net and our common institutions are nothing but a set of dominoes ready to be knocked over, Quebeckers and Canadians believe that these things are part of our identity. We are proud of these services. We rely on them. They enrich us, and we need to protect them and improve them; we certainly do not need to dismantle them. 

The NDP is fighting a number of battles to stop the Conservatives’ relentless destruction and to ensure that our children and grandchildren will be able to inherit the heritage we have built over many generations.

MPs Dany Morin and Libby Davies are leading the charge to force the government to reverse its cuts to health care. Alexandre Boulerice takes every opportunity to talk about Canada Post or the erosion of workers’ rights. Pierre Nantel is fighting tireless to get CBC/Radio-Canada out from the Conservatives’ clutches.  Meanwhile, Yvon Godin and Philip Toone are doing the same for VIA Rail.

My colleagues and I will continue to work hard to stop the Conservatives from destroying our institutions. However, the real battle will be in 2015, when Quebeckers and Canadians will finally have the opportunity to vote for a government that improves public services instead of knocking dominoes over one by one.