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Monday, 4 April 2011

Red, Blue or Orange?

The Federal election is now less then a month away and we have already been subjected to a full week of promises and rhetoric. Since we have four more weeks of this stuff we may as well take a good look at what's being promised by whom. Of course, here at The Rural Lens we want to delve into the depths of the rural aspects of the policy platforms for each of the three major parties. We'll take each party platform and spend a few minutes to see exactly how they feel about rural issues. Today we'll start with the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC).


This platform document contains various positions on education, fiscal policy, health care, public pensions and yes even rural Canada. The section on rural issues is titled "Rural Canada Matters." Sounds like a good start. Lets see how much rural Canada matters to the LPC.

The document states "A Liberal government will commit to narrowing the gap between rural and urban Canada starting with new measures in five major areas." Those areas are:
*NOTE that The Need in NL notes are added by The Rural Lens to provide perspective*

Rural Broadband
The Need in NL: High speed internet is a vital part of small business and there are far too many areas in NL that still do not have high speed access.
The promise: 100 percent high-speed internet connectivity of at least 1.5 MB/sec for all Canadian communities within three years of being elected.

Rural Healthcare
The Need in NL: Healthcare in rural NL continues to be an issue, especially as rural populations continue to age.  
The promise: A Liberal government will introduce a new incentive by forgiving a portion of Canada Student Loans for doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners choosing to practice in a designated underserved small-town or rural community.

Volunteer Firefighters
The Need in NL: Volunteer firefighters keep rural NL safe. They are sometimes understaffed and undersupplied.
The promise: A Liberal government will introduce a $3,000 refundable tax credit...volunteer firefighters with a minimum of 200 hours of volunteer service during the tax year will be eligible.

Mail Service
The Need in NL: While there may be some minor issues I was not aware that this was a significant issue in NL.
The promise: A Liberal government will: Protect Universal Service. Restore and Maintain Rural Mail Service. Improve Community Consultation.

Food Policy
The Need in NL: One of our significant issues is that we import so much of our food supply. I have heard that the island portion of the province could only last for 3 weeks without food shipments. While rural areas can be more sustainable it does depend on the season and the location. For more information on food security in NL check out the Food Security Network of NL.
The promise: A Liberal government will: Conduct a comprehensive review of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency(CFIA), Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and Invest an additional $50 million over four years to improve food inspection. There are also points around sustainability, environmental stewardship, and capacity building.

So, it would appear there is some recognition of rural issues by the LPC but these are but promises of a party that may never have to implement them. So what about the other two major national parties? Well, the NDP website has a "Platform" link that leads to a rather short page with 4 headings, and none of them are focused on rural issues. And the Conservative Party of Canada's Website has a link labeled "Policy." If you click on the link it just reloads the main page again. There is a drop-down link to the recent budget they proposed, including those cuts to ACOA. When both parties get their platforms developed and published, I'll review them in kind.

It's a start for the Liberals. As for the NDP and the Conservatives.....get your act together people. In case you weren't aware there's an election in a few weeks!

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