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Commentary

Give credit where credit is due

Mon, November 27, 2006   |   Author: Rod Taylor   |   | Share: Facebook | Twitter   

When I heard Finance Minister Flaherty's recent "economic statement"-not exactly a mini-budget, but an opportunity for the government to make a fiscal policy statement-and he spoke of "paying down the national debt like a household mortgage", I had two immediate reactions: First, I was delighted that at last a federal Finance Minister has addressed the problem of long-term debt, with a view to actually eliminating it; Second, I was annoyed because I thought (selfishly, I admit): "That's our policy! The Conservatives have stolen it!"

But it doesn't matter who first thought of it; what matters is the good of the nation.

We need to examine some of the fine-tuning. For example, Mr. Flaherty talked about paying down the "net debt" rather than the full gross national debt; and he's making it subject to surpluses, rather than making a commitment to consistent payments, like the mortgage payments average householders must make; and the resolve to end the debt could evaporate like morning dew if the surpluses-brought by the current boom in resource commodity prices-should end, as it will. We need a stronger resolve and a stronger commitment than that. Still, any move to end the practice of burdening future generations with the cost of politicians buying votes today is welcome.

Followers of the Christian Heritage Party will remember that this principle has been a major plank in the CHP's election platforms since 1996; but it never got any serious attention from any of the other parties during election debates… until now.

One of the key roles of an opposition party-even one with no elected members-is to introduce creative ideas into the ongoing debate that is the heart of the political process in a democracy.

As we continue to try to elevate the character of that debate by presenting policies that reflect proven, time-tested principles, eventually those who are elected to govern-whether it's us or someone else-will weave those ideas into the fabric of the legislation that emerges. That's good.

So congratulations to Mr. Flaherty for listening… and congratulations to CHP candidates who so faithfully presented this option to the voters over the past 10 years. At last a government has introduced this strategy-"treat the national debt like a national mortgage"-into fiscal management.

Next, I began to hope, and pray, that another principal piece of our policy would be heard by government: the entrenchment of the "personhood" of pre-born children into law, so they can enjoy the same Criminal Code protection that other Canadians enjoy.

And finally, I thought about these important issues that we inject into the political process, and what it is that distinguishes the CHP from those parties that may one day activate our policies. The key distinction is "principle". When the CHP introduced the idea of paying down the national debt, it was not because of budget surpluses, nor because of political expediency; we recognized that deficit finance is literally stealing from our children, and we feel themoral imperative to give them back their inheritance.

Similarly, when we speak of the personhood of pre-born children, it's not because of economics-although abortion and the attendant "birth dearth" portend dire economic times for Canada; nor to interfere with the private lives of Canadians. It's because we recognize that the Creator invests purpose and significance into each and every child from the moment of conception, and that no facet of human authority should ever be allowed to override the Creator's intent.

So, while we're giving credit and appreciate to Mr. Flaherty for putting legs under our policy initiative, we should also recognize that the only way to ensure that such policies get properly implemented is to begin electing the CHP candidates who introduced those policies-and many others of similar merit-in the first place.

Ian Knight has served CHP in various functions since 1988, including Deputy Leader from 1994-2003, and stood as candidate in 3 general elections. He currently serves on the executive of York-Simcoe EDA.



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