The first time I was able to vote I was a young nineteen-year-old in South Africa and I voted differently to my parents. They and their generation voted for apartheid. Clearly, they were thinking about themselves, their job security, their retirement, and their taxes. I loved them and I love and respect their memory, but I have to be honest and say that this was the case.
My parents refused to see that the system they voted for could not last forever and that their children and grandchildren would have to pay for and fix the mess that their politicians created. They turned deaf ears to or castigated the people who were warning them - and who turned out to be right - notably, for me, Helen Suzman and Helen Joseph. (Albert Lutuli and Nelson Mandela were far too "radical" for me in the late 50's and early 60's.)
My family (wife, 5 children) and I came to Canada a little over 10 years ago in 1998 and we came with almost nothing. We have been Canadian citizens for about 5 years and are proudly so. My family and I owe Canada and, in particular, its taxpayers a huge debt of gratitude especially when I think of the subsidized education (elementary, high, college and university), the hip replacement surgery, the post-surgery unemployment benefits, the cancer treatment and other healthcare benefits we have received.
I am approaching "senior" age and am very grateful that Ontario law changed a few years ago so that I will no longer be obligated to retire when I turn 65 because, quite frankly, I cannot afford to retire after being in the Canadian system for only 13 years. Nevertheless, I cannot, in all conscience, repeat the mistakes of my parents and vote with only myself and my retirement in mind. There is a whole generation of children under 18 who cannot vote and who rely on us to vote on their behalf.
I will not attempt to suggest what political party anyone should or should not vote for. However, I would urge my family and friends and any Canadian reading this blog to think beyond the time between this election and the next. What kind of a world do you want for your children and grandchildren when they are adults?
Our economy is built on the shrinking foundations of dwindling natural resources which are destructive in our use of them. The world as we know it and abuse it cannot last for even another generation any more than apartheid could have lasted forever. Are we going to start fixing our mess - and paying for it ourselves - or are we going to leave our debt for our grandchildren to pay off for us in between visits to our retirement home or graves?
This, I believe, should be the acid test for a political candidate to get my vote.
Dear politician, do you have any idea as to what kind of a world, and a Canada in particular, today's three-year-olds should be inheriting from us when they vote in 15 years time? What in your party's platform today is ensuring that we get there and what measureable milestones do you have in your schedule for four years' time, eight years' time?