Talk is cheap
Oh, I want to believe. I dearly want to believe. (Note the boldface added by me.)
Canada will get a national child-care program under a future Liberal government, no matter how big the federal deficit has grown, leader Michael Ignatieff has vowed.
“We will find the money, because it seems to me an excellent investment,” Ignatieff told reporters in Ottawa today. “I am not going to allow the deficit discussion to shut down discussion in this country about social justice.”
Past Liberal governments put child care on the back burner while the country’s finances were in the red, but Ignatieff said if he becomes prime minister, there will be no delay in delivering a national program. The current federal deficit is around $56 billion and will not be eliminated before 2014 or later, according to Conservative government estimates.
“This is the number one social priority of an incoming Liberal government,” Ignatieff said, during a break in today’s all-day discussion on poverty and homeless in Canada. Child care is a key part of that discussion, the Liberal leader said.
“It’s also the best anti-poverty program. I want every single child in Canada to have the opportunity to get a square meal when they come to day care; to get loving care and tender care. A lot of children in our country, we don’t like to admit it, start in very turbulent difficult environment at home. The great thing about these programs is they give kids an equal start.”
Skeptical me has seen national childcare program promises crash and burn before. Seems that, whenever there are cuts to be made, women -- and let's not kid ourselves that this is not a so-called ''woman's issue'' -- get it in the back.
Cynical me finds the timing of this announcement rather, um, opportunistic. That's because, last week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper came out all concerned about maternal and child care everywhere else in the world -- but here. He got a lot of criticism over that, including this column by me. (More on this coming up later today.)
Pessimistic me doesn't believe that any of the opposition parties will be able to get enough votes to oust the Harpercons. Plus, judging by the way they are going at each other, I doubt the parties can tune their violins long enough to form a coalition.
Which is why I titled this post the way I did.
Oh, and there's another reason:
"[modern families] need help to survive...effective child protection, universal access to health care, affordable child care, first-rate primary and secondary education - these are the building blocks of the protective arch that society must raise over its families. This institutional arch doesn't come cheap but those exponents of family values who won't stump up for it are just engaging in cheap talk."
— Michael Ignatieff, "The Rights Revolution", 2000.
UPPITY WOMAN DATE (2/2/10): More in today's Star.
Education has been looming as a potentially major piece of any future Liberal election platform. But it's also been a big part of past Liberal policies – a $5 billion national child-care program was among the big-ticket promises in the 2005-06 election, in which the Liberals were defeated.
And when the Conservatives came to power, Prime Minister Stephen Harper implemented instead a $100-a-month payment to parents for child care, arguing that it gives parents choice to either stay at home with their kids or send them to an early-education program.
Sparrow (Ryan Sparrow, a spokesman for Human Resources Minister Diane Finley) restated this view on Monday when asked about Ignatieff's proposal.
"We believe that parents know what is best when it comes to raising their children and that is why we are providing choice in child care," he said.
And I believe that th HaroperCons believe there is only one way to raise children.
At home with a housebound mother.