Betty Hinton, MP Masthead
Member of Parliament for Kamloops Thompson Cariboo
Canada Coat of Arms

Betty Hinton MP Column

On December 12, the same day Paul Martin becomes Prime Minister, the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservative Party will ratify a merger of their two parties. Unlike the Liberals, the new Conservative Party of Canada will offer a fresh perspective on fiscal and democratic issues. The new party will meld the experience and tradition of the PC Party with the vision and enthusiasm of the Canadian Alliance. It will have a clear and specific agenda for reforming Parliament and the electoral system, making Canadian neighbourhoods safe, reversing the erosion of the Canadian Forces, and lowering taxes and government spending.

Paul Martin pretends to be a great hero of the war on the fiscal deficit. Now this stale politician wants to be commander-in-chief in the war on the democratic deficit. History tells us Paul Martin has been a Johnny-come-lately and a glory hound, not a leader. I will watch with interest how he intents to change his persona to fit with the promises he's been making across the country in the past year.

In actual fact, working Canadians have been the ones winning the war on the fiscal deficit. You took the hit when Paul Martin broke his party's promise to scrap the GST. You bit the bullet when Martin and Company misappropriated over $40 billion of your Employment Insurance premiums, when he slashed payments to the provinces for health care, and yet again when he endangered the lives of Canada's over-worked troops by slashing $20 billion from military funding. Canadians paid more year after year, and received less in return during his reign of error as the country's cheque-writer.

The Paul Martin I have observed has been a draft-dodger from the war on the deficit, moving his multi-million-dollar shipping corporation overseas to avoid paying his share of Canadian taxes. While ordinary Canadians fought the deficit on the front lines through higher payroll taxes and reduced government services, the Liberal government - through Finance Minister Martin - wasted billions in unaccountable HRDC grants, contracts for Liberal friends to do bogus work, an unworkable gun registry and handouts to select corporations.

Martin's record on democratic issues is as abysmal as his deficit-reduction. Time after time he voted with his Liberal colleagues to invoke closure on debate, allowing important issues to be rammed through without enough discussion from all sides. He was absent from Parliament when the Liberals passed legislation forcing taxpayers to fund all political parties in proportion to the number of seats they hold in the House of Commons - a program that will have taxpayers financing parties they don't philosophically agree with. He has voted against countless motions introduced by the Canadian Alliance to make Parliament more democratic.

The next six months in Canada's federal political realm will be interesting. There will no doubt be an election called at the whim of the Prime Minister, instead of on a set date as the Official Opposition and many others have called for. By the time the date is finally set, there will be an enhanced national alternative called the new Conservative Party. There will be choice.

I ask you, the voter, to put aside the rhetoric and look at the record of broken promises. Ask yourself, "can a leopard change its spots?"


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