Did any of you ever watch the movie called Groundhog Day? This is the one starring our own Jim Carrey? The last time I watched it, it reminded me a lot of where I live: Niagara Region. Each day I wake up, I confuse the events of the day with the events of the day before, and the day before that, and so on.
In Niagara Region, the politics is so stale, I could leave the area and return fifty years later and I wouldn't miss a thing. If it's not the same old people at the helm, it is the same old family members of people at the helm. Many of the Niagara-based businesses are family businesses, which means the good jobs go to family. It isn't hard to guess who the bad or low-paying jobs go to.
One can learn about the groundhogs in Niagara by reading letters to the editor. Apart from my own tinge of sarcasm about the political backwardness of the people here, or the fact that Niagara has not yet grown up and developed itself a transit service yet, many people argue about the Bible.
The Bible is two thousand years old or more, and to me, there is no point arguing about it. The book is read, and it is time to move on. I am not that concerned about what is in the Bible. If all people have to think about or worry about is what the Bible says or what it means, obviously they are comfortable living in a perpetual Groundhog day. As for me, I want change.
To me, it is not about the people themselves, although a little bit might be about the people, but it is mostly the politics and how slow things seem to happen. Getting Regional transit in place here is like waiting for molasses to pour in the bitter cold of January. In the meantime, people like me lose money because we have to go places too, yet those of us that don't drive are not allowed to do so with comfort, reliability and affordability.
I have often been accused of attacking drivers. Well, taxpayers (which includes ME too) have been over-subsidizing their "privileges" for years. We subsidize drivers on a per capita basis more than we subsidize people on a per capita basis for our universal health care system. We pay for roads, traffic lights, traffic enforcement, highways, parking lots, environmental damages of highway building, pollution and its effects, and other things that keep cars on the road and drivers driving, yet we pay less than 20% of this figure on subsidizing transit users. Transit users pay taxes too, and yes - when I have to take a $70 taxi ride to and from Welland, I am sure they can take some of that out for my "share" of the roads. I just want to get around without giving up my first born each time.
Other than transportation, there are a lot of other issues that Niagara is lacking for ... probably because it wants to still think of itself as a township and not a region or network of cities. For example, my neighbourhood that I live in is okay. I own my own home, although people think I pay less than most do for it (which is about $1200 - $1500 a month including all utilities and costs). It is peaceful in my backyard ... we have built a small communal porch, a sitting area under a gazebo and a waterfall, as well as a compost area/garden. Our front porch which is sheltered from the elements is especially nice. The neighbourhood is quiet, which is probably a good thing after I leave the wingnuts of downtown.
However, that is it. They are just wingnuts. People without direction. People without political discourse. We have as much if not more poverty, disability and hardship as Toronto, yet there are very few protests or even community meetings to go to in order to discuss these things. People in Niagara take it up the tail pipe literally.
I am probably well known in this community for my outspoken manner and devil-may-care attitude. Why? I've never had an employer that bothered wanting to hire me for my skills, so I don't have to kowtow to anybody. If I had a good job with a good employer, I suppose the attitude would have to be kept at the door, and I've done that for years when I did work for others. It is not that my attitude is bad, as most people seem to like what I have to say ... I am actually not disrespectful of individuals, just political environments.
While it is true that people create political environments, I just feel that the folks involved in creating Niagara's political environment have to try harder to make this region a truly inclusive one. When they hear from people like me that at times I do not feel like I am even a citizen with rights in this region, the leaders need to ask why ... and I can rest assure them that I am not the only that has felt this way. I am just getting sad and my nose is getting out of joint because I am losing way too many friends to other cities, even provinces, where they have miraculously been able to find work or fit in better.
There are a lot of beautiful places in the region to go to, but I've never been to see these places in years. One needs a car to get to any of them. If Niagara wants to stand out as even a tourism destination, they should at least provide other ways for potential tourists to get around, as NOT EVERYBODY DRIVES ... I miss the Falls. I miss the town of Jordon. I miss Fort George. I miss most of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Maybe someday I will get there if I ever get my bike back on the road. But for now, these places might as well be on the moon.
What about jobs? Niagara has lost a ton of them ... entire companies have gone under and sent pink slips home to thousands of Niagara workers. No "white knight" is going to come to the region to replace these companies, and any new jobs that come out of our "new economy" aren't likely going to pay even half as much. So, those of us with mortgages, payments, kids, and other expenses, are not likely going to want to do these jobs, unless we can do three or four of them simultaneously (which gives us a new meaning for multi-tasking). As it is, most families need two or even three incomes to survive. Try surviving on just one! Mine!
Well, Liberal leader Michael "Rasputin" Ignatieff has finally turned against the present minority Conservative government in Ottawa. He wanted to create this hairy ass election over ... whatever. The other parties, the Bloc Quebecois and the New Democrats saw the nonsense in Ignatieff's move in his attempt to call an election that nobody wants ... so they sided with the Conservatives. It is not because they are now buddies with Stephen Harper, but this is minority government at work ... the particular ways and means bill was about implementing many of the popular aspects of the budget the Conservatives tabled last January, and by the way ... a budget that Ignatieff bought and supported (but now he doesn't support?).
This is just another example of the circus coming to town. We all know that Barnum and Bailey wouldn't make it in Ottawa, as there already is a "free" circus available to anyone at Parliament Hill. All somebody has to do is start singing, "Send in the Clowns" ... oops, they are already there. The animals are all there too, up to the usual parlour tricks, except they are all two-legged animals. It kind of makes you want to cozy up to groups like PETA and ZOOCHECK to protect the four-legged kind from being corrupted by this type of circus.
So despite the histrionics and hissy fit thrown by Michael Ignatieff in an attempt to push for an election that nobody wants, the whole tough talk that he gave over the summer seemed to have died down to a trickle. If I walked down the street here and asked everybody I see if they can identify the leaders of the three main political parties in Ottawa, I would bet the least identifiable would be the leader of the Liberals. Many would not even know how to pronounce his name!
However, over the radar of awareness is this new HST (harmonized sales tax) that is being shoved down all of our throats here in Ontario. It is supposed to be good for business, which I still fail to understand. I run a business. How is charging my customers 8% more for my services going to benefit ME or MY CUSTOMERS? They say there will be less paperwork. I don't give a flying hoot about paperwork. That's what I pay my accounting firm for. I am sure they aren't going to reduce their fees to do my annual corporate, HST and personal returns ... I am sure if you asked them they will tell you there is no less work in preparing these returns than there was before.
I am supposed to be able to claim more input credits. Well, what are input credits? This is something my customers don't give a horse's you know what about ... they just see the 8% hike on their bills. Sure I can now write off items that had PST on it before. Whoopie doo! Let's release the balloons. I will still be forking over more of this tax than I get to keep as a result of these inputs, or why else would the government force this HST down our throats in the first place? They have to be making big bucks off of this ... off of small business, off of consumers, off of anybody that comes through my door.
The government has PROMISED income tax cuts in return for us buying this tax. Who are my customers? About a third of them are individuals with disabilities, usually receiving an income that does not attract provincial (or federal for that matter) income taxes of any kind. The work I do involves making insurance companies, government agencies, large companies and other people do what they were supposed to do in the first place ... and even when we get paid in full, none of the proceeds are taxable to them anyways. We also have quite a few senior citizens on "fixed incomes". These are NOT the people with the GM or Teacher's Pensions to give their golden years more than just "fool's gold". Most of these people get at least some Guaranteed Income Supplement, and their own savings are either poor or non-existent, so I don't see these people paying much provincial income tax either ... but I am told I have to hit all of these people with an 8% tax hike!
Unfortunately, with this tax, there is no harmony at all ... so I prefer to call it what it is... the BST, initials for which you don't even have to ask. The Tories call this the Dalton Sales Tax, and the NDP call it the Unfair Tax Grab. Would love to give Hudak's head a shake, like wasn't it HIS federal Conservative cousins that just dumped $4.2 billion on the province to set up this new tax? I just don't get it anymore. Canada's politics are all screwed up.
Each time there is an election, there seems to be less and less people showing up to vote. I know that at some point in my lifetime, there will be an election called and nobody will show up. We will end up with a lot of empty ridings, as nobody will run either. So, we might just not bother with elections anymore. Maybe coup d'etats serve more of a taste for Canadians at this point. I don't know the answer.
But I think it is worth a discussion.
What about you?