Play the puck, not the man

Open letter to MP Ryan Leef: This is a response to your comments in the House of Commons on Sept. 26. You said: "Mr.

Open letter to MP Ryan Leef:

This is a response to your comments in the House of Commons on Sept. 26.

You said: “Mr. Speaker, as winter approaches and temperatures begin to drop, Canadians in my riding up north and across the country are thankful that they are not subject to the NDP’s massive carbon tax.”

Frankly, I wouldn’t mind a carbon tax. I approved of Stephane Dion’s Green Shift plan. However, the NDP are proposing a cap and trade, or polluter’s pay, policy to reduce our carbon footprint. How did this get wrangled into a carbon tax? Where exactly did you come up with the $21-billion figure? I looked and couldn’t find the basis for this number.

We have more to fear from the Northern Gateway Pipeline than we do from a fictitious carbon tax. In An Economic Assessment of Northern Gateway, economist Robyn Allan contends that once the pipeline goes through, international forces will cause our fuel costs to rise. She stated: “The inflation Northern Gateway represents will lead to higher interest rates, a permanent and long-term decline in GDP, a loss of jobs, decline in labour income and standard of living for many Canadians, as well as deterioration of government revenues.”

Speaking of taxes, former Bank of Canada governor David Dodge believes that the cut to the GST is what led to our current structural deficit. The Conservative government is reducing services and programs such as closure of regional Canada Revenue offices, cuts to Parks Canada, important scientific laboratories and programs that provide help for disadvantaged Canadians in order to lower our deficit.

Furthermore, Canadians have grave concerns about what the Conservative government is doing with the tax dollars it does have at its disposal.

In its last full year in power, 2004-2005, the Liberal government spent $49.5 million on advertising.

In 2010-2012, (the last year complete numbers are available) the Conservative government spent $83.3 million on ads, many of them electioneering propaganda under the guise of stimulus package ads. In the first quarter of 2012-2013, cabinet approved an expenditure of $64 million on advertising which includes $5 million to advertise “responsible resource development,” $8 million for ads defending cuts to Old Age Security and $16 million for the “Economic Action Plan” telling us what a great job the Conservative government has done. We are likely to match the 2010-2011 advertising expenditures this fiscal year.

Finally, I’d like to address name-calling as a political tactic. The phrase “ad hominem,” when translated from Latin, means “against the person.” Ad hominem is said to be the lowest form of debate. I would contend that it is an evasion of debate.

In your speech you said, “The NDP’s regressive $21 billion carbon tax is reckless and unfair to hard-working families” and that “The NDP should be ashamed of its sneaky carbon tax.”

I am disappointed, Ryan. The above is a classic example of ad hominem. While many politicians use insults to deflect attention away from their inability to defend their positions, I don’t think you should do so as well. It is not unreasonable to expect our elected representatives to behave better than schoolyard bullies or right-wing pundits.

When you behave this way, you diminish yourself and your constituents. Please don’t do it again.

The great conservative statesman Peter Lougheed died recently. During his career, Mr. Lougheed used his considerable intellect to take on his debating opponents while remaining courteous and principled. That is why he is so well respected.

Dany Morin will have presented his motion to create a special committee to address nationwide bullying by Monday, Oct. 15. I hope you will vote for it.

May you walk on the high road.

PS: Recently, in a closed door meeting, the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans shut down debate on a motion to restore the Experimental Lakes Area, an important natural laboratory which had an annual budget of $2 million. Are you still a member of this committee?

Linda Leon is a Whitehorse freelance writer. This is the 17th letter in this series.