EDITORIAL: Watered Down
We have many reasons to be glad we're living in Canada. But few of these reasons emanate from our nation's capital. We seldom have any occasion to be proud of our federal government. Most of the decisions, policies, laws, and actions it takes tend to make us ashamed, not enthused.
The list of parliamentary misdeeds ranges from the savage cuts in social spending to the abetment of environmental damage, from the failure to reduce child poverty to the repeatedly broken promise of national child care, from jobdestroying "free trade" agreements to collusion with U.S. military aggression. The list would fill the rest of this space-and has already filled many pages of The Monitor over the past several years.
There's an old saying that every country-especially if it's a purported democracy-always gets the government it deserves. There may be some truth to that cynical dictum, in the sense that our governments are created by the electorate. But, in a skewed first-past-the-post system, it's debatable whether a party that garners less than 40% of the vote really has any claim to speak and act on behalf of the majority of Canadians.
Let's take as an example the decision by the former Liberal government of Jean Chrétien, at a meeting of the UN Human Rights Commission in 2002, to vote against the proposition that access to clean water and sanitation is a basic human right. To our shame, Canada was the only Western nation to take this benighted stand. "Canada," said our delegate bluntly at this meeting, "does not accept that there is a right to drinking water and sanitation."
Was he really speaking for Canadians? Absolutely not! Most of us strongly agree with the UN that water should be regarded as a basic human right and that governments should make access to it by all their citizens a top priority. We are appalled that as many as two million people-many of them children-die needlessly every year for lack of safe drinkable water.
Our federal government's denial of the right to clean water-which is apparently being maintained by the current Conservative minority regimestands in sharp contrast to its support for the privatization of water and sewage systems promoted by the World Bank. …