PM must listen to will of the majority

TheStar.com – opinion/letters
Published On Wed May 04 2011.    Stefan Hostetter

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s mandate is not what he thinks it is. I am sure he woke up the morning after the election quite happy, and he very well should be. He is the Prime Minister of Canada with a democratically elected majority government. Congratulations.

With this new found power, however, comes responsibility and that it is his job for the next four years: to ensure that this responsibility is not misplaced. Let us not forget that he was elected with only 40 per cent of the popular vote but as Prime Minister his duty is toward 100 per cent of Canadians.

I am sure over the next coming months he will be speaking in great length about what Canadians have told him they want. I am sure this will include his billions of dollars for fighter jets and fancy new prisons. I imagine it will also include more tax breaks for corporations and a stronger coast guard.

He is Prime Minister, it is his right to decide what is best for Canadians, but let us not fool ourselves. His government carries far more seats than it does a percentage of Canadian support and to ignore that fact would be to turn his back on what Canada truly values.

In a recent survey 65 per cent of Canadians answered that the federal government has a great deal of responsibility to deal with global warming. A further 86 per cent support a strengthening of public health care over a switch to a system of both public and private health care.

Not to mention that 60 per cent of Canadians voted for parties that would have scrapped the billions of dollars that will be spent on those fighter jets. That means almost 3 out of every 5 Canadians feel that it was a mistake for him to get rid of the long-form census and that nearly every organization that used that data, from both ends of the political spectrum, felt it would damage the work they did.

His mandate is not to protect the oil sands regardless of their impact on the earth. His mandate is not to continue defunding of women’s advocacy groups or international aid. His mandate is not to Americanize copyright law, political party funding, military spending and our legal system, or to give tax breaks for corporations at the expense of inner city literacy. His mandate is not to cater to the west at the expense of the east or to see the whole of Canada as your 40 per cent approval rating.

His mandate is to listen to the Canadian people. And I for one, hope he does. He says Canada is the best country in the world. What would it say about a leader who refuses to listen to the best citizens in the world?

Mr. Harper, you have your wish, four years of a majority government. This is what Canada will remember you by. So what will history say of you Mr. Harper? Will you respect the Parliament? Will you regain Canada’s reputation as an international leader? Will you lead a Canada that Canadians can be proud to call home?

Only time will tell. But know this, Mr. Harper. I am watching. Millions of Canadians are watching. The world is watching. History itself is watching. Everyone is waiting to know the answer to one simple question.

Can you hear us?

Stefan Hostetter, Toronto

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