We live in exciting, challenging times. They demand Ottawa go into the “opportunities” business.
First, the people need greater opportunities to talk to Ottawa about their views. This land was built on the democratic principles of public participation, debate, and dissent. Excessive partisanship, letting ideology trump fairness and common sense, destroys the people’s faith in politics and respect for public service. When Canadians have little opportunity to scrutinize and critique their governments, they may go outside of mainstream political processes – even out of the country – to make their points. The Keystone XL pipeline issue illustrates this well.
Second, running a successful opportunities business also means Ottawa needs to offer more opportunities to the people to acquire the tools and skills needed to live good lives. This is especially important for our youth and communities.
What’s my hope for the Next Alberta?
- The democratic principles of public participation, debate, and dissent will be better respected. Ottawa should be generous when it comes to offering opportunities for Canadians to participate in government hearings.
- Parliamentary institutions will become more accountable to their electorates. For the Senate this means Bill C-7, the Harper government’s Senate reform legislation, needs fundamental change. The nine-year term does not put in place any measures to ensure Alberta’s Senate nominees will remain accountable during their nine years of public service.
- I would urge leaders in the House of Commons to adopt measures to reduce party discipline and increase the independence of MPs.
- Offering Canadian youth accessible and affordable post-secondary education opportunities is vital to the Next Alberta. Ottawa should consider alternative post-secondary funding options that would increase student choice. With respect to post-secondary teaching Ottawa should introduce a Canada Teaching Chair program. This program should be modeled on the successful Canada Research Chair program. It would help to insure that Canada’s very best university and college teachers have the resources needed to inspire tomorrow’s leaders.
- Ottawa should build on the positive step it took in 2011 when it committed to a permanent annual investment in municipal infrastructure of $2 billion. Unfortunately, this important investment ignores the impact inflation and future population/ economic growth will have with respect to infrastructure needs. Therefore, escalator options such as those proposed by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities should be implemented.
- The federal government should increase its assistance to local communities to improve the public transit available to their residents. It should support the Canadian Urban Transit Association’s recommendation to commit an additional share of the federal excise tax on gasoline revenue to municipalities for this purpose.