The last two weekends found me working a Conservative Party of Canada trade fair booth at Fort St. John and Dawson Creek respectively. I was reminded yet again of why I have such a healthy respect for those hardy individuals who travel the Trade Show circuit for a living!
While you might believe that a politician should be suitably attuned to speaking all the time?being constantly on your feet interacting with hundreds of people isn?t as easy as one might think. I don?t know how I would have done it without the willing volunteers who assisted me in handing out hundreds (700 in Fort St. John, 900 in Dawson Creek) of balloons to the kiddies. After all, we did try to have some fun as well as talking politics with as many constituents as possible.
Although the issues raised with me were almost as varied as the individuals themselves, one concern seemed to dominate. Perhaps it is the time of year. Perhaps it is the media?s preoccupation with coverage of the Public Accounts Committee?s investigation of the Liberal Sponsorship scandal. Or perhaps it is just that for countless Canadians they are well and truly fed up with paying the highest taxes in the western world only to see so much wasted!
More than one constituent, of both genders and all age groups, approached me to say how disgusted they were with those who had appeared before the Committee?Gagliano, Pelletier, Ouellette, Guite and others. All either proclaiming complete innocence or total ignorance of what was going on!
Yet unknown millions of hard earned tax dollars are missing. Many expressed their dismay and belief that no one would ever be held accountable at the end of the day?and they couldn?t believe the audacity that some of these so-called ?witnesses? would turn on Auditor General, Sheila Fraser. That they would have the unmitigated gall to suggest she had ?got her facts wrong?!
National polls suggest Canadians are no longer as focussed on the need for tax relief as they once were. Judging by the reaction these past two weekends, it may well be that Canadians are currently more attuned to the need for greater accountability in how their tax dollars are spent and the need to provide timely health care and better education, than tax cuts.
However, due to the blatant misspending and alleged money laundering, there was lots of talk about paying less tax too. In fact, a number of constituents approached me specifically to state they were no longer filling out their tax returns and sending any more money to Ottawa until they saw an improvement in the government?s respect for their money! Idle threats perhaps, but there was a pattern of underlying anger which I have not witnessed since the imposition of the hated Liberal long gun registry in ?96!
One irate young man even asked me why he should continue to send his taxes in when his Prime Minister?s company, CSL, won?t pay their share? Tough question?maybe he?ll have the opportunity to ask Mr. Martin during the next election.