Ten Big Ideas For 2015
We’re less than 2 years away from the next Federal election and things don’t seem to be moving in the Conservative Party’s favour. Harper’s leftist critics like to paint Canada as a conservative dystopia in which everything good about the country is systematically being dismantled. Harper’s conservative critics are hesitant to criticise him too heavily, but there are grumblings throughout the grassroots. Either way, Harper seems to have run out of steam. His agenda has been mostly fulfilled and he is now facing the ‘Paul Martin problem’ of simply offering Canadians a progressively more comfortable couch.
But can a society thrive when the overall mandate is based on making the national couch ever more comfortable?
“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egotism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984, Postman added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that our desire will ruin us.”
Canada’s national discourse is too comfortable, unambitious and pedestrian. The Conservative Party, at this point, has been reduced to talking about Facebook bullying, wireless fees and picking television channels more efficiently. It’s a laundry list of first world problems in Canada and it’s time for the Conservatives to start driving some bold ideas for the 21st century. Here are 10, free of charge.
#1. Annex new territory
Check out this list of some places outside of Canada that were or are potential areas of expansion. It would be great to travel to the Turks and Caicos islands without ever leaving Canada, wouldn’t it? How about a province off the coast of France? Fact is, Canada is the envy of the world and now is the time we should take advantage of our status and think bigger. It’s empire time.
#2. Abolish the Senate
Instead of careful and measured responses that endlessly end up with inaction, let’s abolish the Senate anyway that it can be done and end the debates once and for all. The issue is a tough one that just keeps dragging on, but some creative thinking and courage could fill in the gaps. Get rid of it once and for all.
#3. Fund a superhero team
Growing up I enjoyed reading Alpha Flight. They were known as “Canada’s answer to The Avengers”, and they captured the imagination of comic-book readers around the world. We’ve had movies, books and cartoons based on superheroes, so why not aspire to a little “life imitates art” and have the Federal government sponsor a real life version of a superhero team? A few billion dollars spent on an idea like this would be far more inspiring than whatever outdated social welfare garbage from the 70’s is still kicking around. Roll the team into a branch of the military and the next time there’s an ice storm or a flood, give them their debut!
#4. Eliminate income tax for one year
Roughly $175 billion in revenue is collected yearly from income tax. Economists usually agree that income taxes are one of the worst taxes to impose because it functions as a tax on ambition and productivity.
Imagine if Jim Flaherty announced that 2016 was going to be the year of zero income tax. We’d have to increase our federal debt from $600 billion to $775 billion in one year, but it would be a grand, prosperity fueled economic experiment.
#5. Institute everything on this list
Last year I wrote an article listing 10 ways to cut the deficit. Someone in the CPC needs to put it to use.
#6. Increase immigration to 1 million people a year
Currently we accept roughly 250,000 people into Canada every year. With our current demographics and fertility rate, we are destined to eventually become a country of about 42 million people before flat-lining.
Some people have suggested aiming higher...much higher.
Why not bring in a million people a year? The results would most likely not be orderly, but they would be interesting and extremely dynamic.
#7. Fund a $300 million movie about the history of Canada
Canada’s film industry is one of the weirdest in the world. Wave after wave of Canadian films have been made, from NFB documentaries to exploitation films in the 70’s and art films in the 21st century.
What Canada could use, however, is a myth building national icon movie that turns our history into a sprawling epic. We never have the budgets or the ambition to make a massive cultural statement.
Imagine a combination of Australia, Far and Away and Last of the Mohicans combined with Forrest Gump and American Graffiti. Okay, so that sounds like the shittiest movie of all time, but you get the gist. A big, inclusive warm blanket epic that makes us feel good about who we are as a nation. Take it out of the CBC’s annual budget.
#8. Let’s go to Mars first
Chris Hadfield became a sensation doing PR work from space. Let’s take the next big jump and aim to be the first country to build a settlement on Mars. (I know this contradicts #5 but whatever...I’m blue sky thinking here.)
#9. Let’s get rid of the Indian Act
Jean Chretien had it right in the 60’s. Abolish the Indian Act in favour of equality. Unfortunately, it never happened, but there’s no reason not to push for something similar now. Of course, an avalanche of vested interests would scream at the very notion of moving out of socialism/apartheid towards Indians, but let them scream. It’s time.
#10. Build a nuclear powered, ice breaking, aircraft carrier (that could also do research or something)
I can’t take credit for this one. It’s as awesome as it sounds and not even Putin would want to deal with something so bad ass.
Conclusion: It’s time to think bigger in this country. Our national debate is bogged down with debates about pipelines. People are fretting about what the weather might be like in 100 years. Poor people are obese. Simply put...we are a spoiled, unambitious people and it’s time for some national momentum towards big ideas. Managerial government is fine, but not always. Now is the time to think in epic terms.
Share your ideas in the comments below.