Ralph Goodale's take on the Liberal Rural Canada Initiatives... Seems fitting that the only party which can govern AND be positive towards all of Canada.... the party of Nation-building, is introducing these new measures.
There is a restlessness in rural Canada. The Conservatives - who tried to be all things to all rural peoples (even where there are seriously divergent interests) - have all but abandoned much of rural Canada. Save the "bible belt" in some parts of "Aberhardt Country", rural Canadians everywhere are beginning to have doubts about the dubious nature of the Reform/Conservative rural legitimacy. Rural Canada needs a voice - and it isn't the big business/tax haven regime of the SoCons. It is through measures which will help farmers - BOTH big and small - to sell their product (because that is why they're in business in the first place). It is to help Canadians in general access better food products. It is needed to encourage the growth of crops which will increase profit (aka - much of the "100-mile diet" type market gardening, organics, etc.).
Here's Ralph's take:
SIX PLEDGES TO RURAL CANADA
The Liberal Official Opposition is preparing a plan to better connect with rural Canadians.
It’s a work-in-progress – in consultation with farmers, rural municipalities and others – but so far it includes six key elements:
• Create a Rural Secretariat right in the Prime Minister’s Office to focus constant attention on rural concerns;
• Preserve rural postal services;
• Forgive student debt for young doctors and nurses who set up their practices in rural, under-served areas;
• Implement a National Food Strategy that teaches urban-dwellers about the importance of farming, promotes nutritious eating, rewards farmers for sound environmental stewardship, and backstops farm incomes with predictable, bankable “safety nets” (designed from the farm-up, not Ottawa-down);
• Provide volunteer fire-fighters with a $3,000 tax credit in recognition of the costs and risks they face; and
• Achieve 100% high-speed internet connectivity for every rural community.
These are practical, tangible commitments to help bridge the gaps between rural and urban Canada. A new Liberal government will implement them within its first term in office, responding directly to what rural Canadians themselves have suggested.
For example, the Rural Secretariat idea comes from SARM. Financial incentives for rural health care workers is a proposal of rural health districts. The tax credit for volunteer firemen responds to a request from Canada’s 3,492 Fire Departments. The expansion of high-speed internet coverage will link 800,000 rural households with the modern communications technology of the 21st century.
The costs of all these measures are significant, but affordable. It’s a matter of making sensible choices.
Mr. Harper proposes to use all the federal government’s foreseeable financial flexibility to give bigger tax cuts to Canada’s wealthiest corporations (which already enjoy a 25% tax rate advantage over their U.S. competition).
Liberals believe it’s more important right now to invest in rural Canadians.