Reader: Focus on federal issues

Remember what each level of government does

To the Editor,
With a federal election campaign now underway, it is an ideal time to draw attention to what each of our three levels of government is supposed to be responsible for, so candidates and leaders will not discuss with voters those things that are not federal areas of jurisdiction.
Health care is not a federal responsibility, and it would be grossly misleading for Canada’s federal politicians to campaign around the nation promising all sorts of money for, and improvements to, each province’s health care system. With the dozen recent deaths linked directly to the listeriosis crisis, the federal government ought to be focusing its Health Canada resources on areas it is responsible for, such as improving the inspection of Canada’s meat industry in the interests of public safety.
Medical wait-times are something the provincial governments must tackle. Federal parties should only be promising the transfer of taxes collected on behalf of the provinces, with no strings attached, and nothing more. Provincial health ministers must be given the room to maneouvre they require in order to ensure the availability of adequate levels of health care services for their residents.
Inner city safe needle injection sites, highway and other infrastructure projects, industrial and labour policies, energy, educational scholarships: These are all provincial jurisdictions. The federal parties have a bad habit of stepping on the toes of the provinces – especially at election time – in order to grab the attention of voters.
There is no shortage of purely federal issues to discuss: the war in Afghanistan, international trade agreements, the federal debt and taxation levels, the Canadian dollar and its impact on Canada’s – and in particular Ontario’s – economy, criminal justice, the successor to the Kyoto Accord and Canada’s poor environmental record, global warming and sovereignty issues in the Arctic.
So Mr. Harper, Mr. Dion, Mr. Layton, and Ms. May, let us please confine ourselves to federal political issues. There is plenty of meat on that bone for you all to chew on.
Brad Harness
Leader, Reform Party of Ontario