Red Deer South MLA, Jason Stephan, was recently quoted from a debate amongst Alberta’s MLAs on ratifying the referendum results, where 62 per cent of those Albertans who voted want the removal of equalization payments from the Constitution, as saying “equalization was socialism” which he described as “the enemy of self-realization.”
For those who are in the know, programs like universal health care, old age security payments and Canada’s social safety net are products of socialist ideology which Stephan has tried to demonize with his comments in an open forum. The suggestion that citizens of Canada have been denied the ability to self-realize, or been prevented from doing so, due to social policies put in place to protect the “have nots” in our society and provide benefits like quality health care and senior benefits to those living below the poverty line, is something you would expect out of the mouth of a far right-wing politician from places like Texas where they have passed laws to essentially ban abortion, restrict voting rights, and make it illegal to impose vaccine and mask mandates.
The narrative, created by politicians like Stephan and those from jurisdictions like Texas, that government should stop protecting the disenfranchised and vulnerable members of our society so that they can learn to self-realize and self-determine their lives ignores the fact that the playing field for these people who need help is not level. If you are a member of the wealthy elite it is easy for you to criticize social programs because you have no need for them. Is not our income tax system based on the premise that those who earn more should pay more in taxes, unless you are in a financial position to hire an expensive tax lawyer to avoid paying your fair shair of taxes? Are not equalization payments based on the same premise that the well-off should share their wealth with those who are not so fortunate?
In my mind this concept of sharing is one of the basic tenets of Canadian society that separates and elevates us from much of the rest of the world. In a time where we need more politicians to promote unification and empathy for others who are suffering due to the pandemic we are often subjected to a handful of elected representatives who seek to divide and promote separatist sentiment in Alberta and a few other provinces. The majority of proper thinking Canadians must become more vocal in telling these politicians that their views do not reflect the view of many, even those who may have made the mistake of voting for them in the last election prior to them gaining power and revealing their true colours. I would be tempted to use the term “wolf in sheep’s clothing” but I have respect for wolves.
John McBeath, Red Deer