Elections and the faithful

Although not exactly overly religious I do read – religiously – Louise McEwan’s beautifully crafted columns in the Times. In her last one, “People still poor”  (March 31) she made the rather surprising but astute observation that “income inequality is linked to a number of social problems, society benefits when GOVERNMENT POLICIES ADDRESS POVERTY. (capital letters are mine )

I say surprising because traditionally, the church – almost without exception – has always aligned itself with the more conservative political parties. The majority of the faithful follows and in that I see a predicament shaping up for them in the upcoming federal election.

As is obvious to all of us, the policies of the present Conservative government under Harper are far from beneficial for the poor. Harper has clearly identified what’s important to virtually all Canadians – the economy – and he’s stressed that repeatedly in his present campaign. But even to the casual observer, it is obvious that Harper has two parallel-running economic policies: one for the already very rich, intent on maintaining the multimillion-dollar salaries and bonuses for bankers and CEO’s plus tax cuts for the better off in our society – and a different policy for the less well off and the poor. A policy that could, more accurately, be termed “economic vandalism.”

Nothing less than stealing from the poor to give to the rich.

The little I remember from my early catholic upbringing about the commandments- no doubt as a youth I conveniently forgot some of them – but the ones about greed and not killing others still stick in my mind.

So when Harper decides to buy 65 new attack jet fighters at enormous cost and at the same time puts the kibosh on topping up the Canada Pension Plan, it becomes obvious that his policies are not quite addressing poverty.

(According to a senior economist for the Canadian Labour Congress, the cost of topping up the CPP, thereby lifting 266 000 seniors above the poverty level, would amount to 1.7 billion dollars)

So for the cost of, say five of these infernal machines, he could have made a real difference for many needy Canadians and still have another 60 of them to bring “peace and freedom” to far away lands .

Where are we going, I wonder?

It seems only a few short years ago that Canada was still much admired, world wide, as a peace-keeping nation! And no, having experienced, first hand, for five years the horrors of war I no longer believe in the concept of a “just war.”

So you might ask at this point, where is the predicament? Well, actually, the answer can be found in the scriptures: Ephesians 5:3-11, “ Therefore do not be partners with them “.

As for me? That’s easy, I simply fly by my conscience.

Peter Van Iersel

Fruitvale