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We need a federal election, now!

The Mulroney-Bourassa-Corporate agenda for a new Canada is hurtling along on what looks like a run-away train. It must be stopped. Now.

Is there any doubt that if they get their way, they will drastically and permanently transform this country, wiping out the social structures and redistributive programs built by our parents and grandparents?

Consider. Through the Free Trade Agreement we've lost control of our natural resources, and lost a significant portion of our manufacturing base. Privatization has dismantled 28 Crown Corporations. The CBC is in jeopardy. Tens of thousands of public sector jobs have been eliminated causing a severe deterioration in the delivery of social services and the Tory tax revolution has just about undone in seven years whatever progress had been made in the last fifty in equalizing incomes and equalizing access to essential services.

The latest federal budget, by extending the freeze on Established Program Financing, will kill Medicare before the decade is over. That's because the Canda Health Act, which authorizes Ottawa to reduce its cash transfers to any province where hospitals or doctors are permitted to impose user fees or extra-billing, will be rendered useless when federal cash transfers for Medicare are eliminated.

How long will it be before the Tories hand over the health field to the provinces -- or before one or more of the wealthier provinces asks for it -- one more step in the bit by bit dismantling of national programs? Ins't it obvious that Mulroney is deliberately creating facts that logic will demand be incorporated in the new constitutional scheme he is concocting?

This is a government of national disintegration. To keep Quebec in Canada and thereby hold onto his electoral base while posing as the saviour of the country, Mulroney is determined to transfer substantial spending powers to Quebec. To get this accepted in the rest of Canada (no Special Status, please), he will offer the same package to the rest of Canada. For those who resist this offer, he will promise continued federal responsibility. The political elites get what they want, but Canada disintegrates in the process -- which suits the transnationals just fine, now that Ottawa has done their bidding in harmonizing the country to the USA.

Where is the opposition to this madness?

We need to defend the capacity of the federal state to manage the national economy to achieve full employment, to implement universal social programs, and to redistribute wealth and income between social classes and regions. We need a fairer system of regional representation. We need to negotiate aboriginal self-determination -- self-government with a land base and a fiscal capacity. And we need to democratize our elite-dominated political system.

As for Quebec, we agree with the vast majority of Canadians (65 per cent according to a recent poll) that Canada should not negotiate under the terms of the Allaire report to keep Quebec in Canada. The danger of negotiationg is that anything acceptable to Quebec would have to be close enough to Allaire as to be destructive of Canada. Total separation is preferable to the massive decentralization of the federal system advocated by Allaire.

We would be prepared to see Quebec granted special status in recognition of her national character. But we recognize that at this time we are in a distinct minority on this question. We repeat, a sovereign Quebec with some kind of economic link to a federal Canada is far preferable to the disaster Mulroney is concocting.

But who will blow the whistle?

We ask Audrey Mclaughlin, Bob Rae, Roy Romanow, Mike Harcourt and all New Democrats: what will you do to stop Mulroney's plan to destroy federal government powers to regulate the national economy, confront the transnationals, protect and expand social services and reduce regional disparities?

We call upon the Pro-Canada Network, the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, The Assembly of First Nations, The Canadian Labour Congress -- any or some or all of them -- to organize a people's popular assembly to put forward alternatives more consistent with broadly held Canadian values -- and a plan of action to stop the Mulroney steamroller.

We need a federal election and we need it now.

What will it take to get one? A national petition with millions of signatures is one possibility. But the stakes are too high to reject anything out of hand. Let the popular assembly consider any and all possibilities, up to and including a campaign of civil disobedience.

What do you think? We ask our readers to contact us by letter, fax, or phone. Let's get it together!
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Title Annotation:Canada
Publication:Canadian Dimension
Article Type:editorial
Date:Apr 1, 1991
Words:757
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