Editorial: Is everything broken, or just rhetoric?

Federal Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre has often said recently that Canada feels broken. It is a sentiment that some support, and not just the party partisans. Higher interest rates and a pending recession are placing a financial squeeze on Canadians. Rising inflation is compounding that squeeze. But is Poilievre right in saying that Canada feels broken? Is Canada a broken country?

A broken country is a failed country, defined as a nation that has lost the ability to effectively govern. Failed countries have succumbed to regional, civil, ethnic, or religious wars, are controlled by gangs and/or cartels, or have devolved into despotic dictatorships. Prime examples of these failed states include: Yemen, Somalia, Syria, South Sudan, and Haiti. Canada is not on that list. The U.S. think tank Fund for Peace, which maintains a Fragile States Index, ranking corruption, democratic institutions, rule of law, and the ability of public services to function, ranks Canada 172 out of 179 countries.

A think tank does not need to tell us that Canada is not broken. All we need to do is look through the eyes of others. Since Russia’s unprovoked and illegal invasion of Ukraine almost one year ago, and the subsequent war between the two countries, over 130,000 refugees have come to Canada. Last week, The Leader published a lovely letter of thanks from one such refugee family for the support of the South Dundas community at what can only be described as the worst time of their lives – fleeing a war-torn country. That letter is among many letters of gratitude that have been printed in newspapers across Canada. Could a broken country or a broken people open its doors to welcome refugees?

Does Canada have issues? Of course. The financial issues are challenging for many Canadians, especially those who struggle with employment, food or housing insecurity. Our social fabric is strained through the chronic cost-cutting in the 1990s which left our health care, education, and social service systems underfunded and ill-prepared to adapt. Excessive corporate tax cuts to attract and retain business have left governments at all levels unable to properly maintain physical and social infrastructure at proper levels.

In responding to our challenges, some politicians have skewed their focus on building things rather than providing the human capital needed (people) to provide services. Others politicians are just happy to be at the table, making no tough decisions for the betterment those they were elected to represent. All these issues do not make Canada broken – not even close.

Politicians on all sides of the political spectrum, and at every level of government, can water down problems to simplistic jingoistic catch phrases and false narratives as vote-getting fodder. Taking a mature and realistic view of the situation shows Canada is not broken. The country has issues – first world problems if you will. But that means taking up the challenge of addressing these issues, and not just filling the room with empty platitudes and talking points. Canada is a work-in-progress, and to make things sound worse to garner votes does nothing to address the real issues. It is not Canada but rather its political rhetoric and discourse, that is broken.

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