Saturday, November 03, 2007

Saskatchewna Election Chapter 3

I'm sitting at my desk, where I'm supposed to be until 10:00 PM because it's revision day for enumerators. This is the day we make any last minute additions and corrections to the voters' lists and the returning office will phone us with any changes that come in to their hands. Naturally, it's a beautiful day out; I am allowed to enjoy the sunshine and blue sky through my window.
The leaders' debate was a debacle with three men in suits talking simultaneously and loudly much of the hour, and very little information actually being promulgated. I think it was water under the bridge in any case: the latest polls have the Sask Party 20 points ahead of the NDP in popular support with the Liberals way behind. It led to mixed feelings last night as I listened to a lecture by my favourite New Democrat in the world - Stephen Lewis - and realized that the fervent idealism and social conscience that characterizes him used to characterize the Saskatchewan CCF/NDP movement. I hope it will again, but that will have to be under new leadership. Lorne Calvert has lost the confidence of many party members and electors, and a dehorned bull can only bellow and kick up dust; he can no longer gore.
So what do we have to look forward to, here in the heart of medicare? Well I think the future will resemble what we would have seen federally had that other Stephen won a majority two years ago: lower taxes, trimming of arts and social programs funding, corporation stroking, law and order emphasis, etc. And likely deficit budgets despite the strong economy. And highways. The Sask Party backbenchers like highway construction and every secondary road in the province will be crying for money.
Stephen Lewis was magnificent. About 800 or so people gathered in the Great Salon at TCU Place in Saskatoon to hear him. His talk was about the scourge of inequality and he was a guest of the Saskatchewan Law Society. He talked about the AIDS/HIV situation world wide, about the UNs attempts to pass human rights conventions to protect children, women and the disabled and gave us an interesting statistic on this last convention. To be adopted as an international commitment by UN members, 20 countries have to ratify it. Only 7 have. Canada is not one of them. On the convention on children, all to the worlds governments have ratified it except Somalia and - you guessed it - the USA.
A further statistic was even more troubling. Lester Pearson once talked the developed world into adopting a goal of .7 % of GDP for foreign aid. All the G8 countries are moving closer to this target except Canada. Canada's contribution to foreign aid is actually declining by this measure.
Lewis said that the most troubling issue currently facing the world generally is the inequality of women and men. He told horrific stories of the abuse and rape of women in several African countries, particularly Congo, and said that in many parts of the world, the protection of women and children - even in countries that have ratified the UN conventions designed to protect them - the conditions for women and children are actually deteriorating. The UN has known about the problem in Congo and chooses to do nothing. It seems the Security Council can only think in terms of national security of borders and security against terrorism these days. There is little interest in women and children suffering in that august body.
And now, Saskatchewan is going to join the rest of the country in choosing "free enterprise" governance, where the major emphasis will always be the growth of the economy and may the devil take the hindmost. In that, we are more and more similar to our G8 friends and the World Bank.
By the way, did you know that the World Bank stipulated some time ago that countries borrowing money would only be granted loans if they applied user fees to health and education services? All across Africa, as a result, millions of children are not in school and cannot get appropriate medical treatment because they don't have the money to pay the user fees. I thought Lewis was on the verge of apoplexy when he told us this. Apparently the World Bank has been appropriately shamed into reversing this policy, but much of the damage has been done, and in one country, the sudden arrival of over a million students in school has created a major facilities and personnel crisis.
Well, that's not exactly about the Saskatchewan election, but then, it's all of a piece, isn't it?
In passing, Lewis divulged - tongue in cheek - his favourite election campaign strategy. He suggested that people favouring, say, an NDP candidate should go door to door after midnight, wake up the households and announce at each that they were campaigning for the Saskatchewan Party or the Liberals.
In four days we vote. I have revised my prediction: Sask Party 42, NDP 18, Liberals 0, Green Party 0.

No comments:

Post a Comment