Thursday, August 12, 2010

Compassionate conservatism at work

Senator Hugh Segal offers a rare glimpse into the Harper Cons' view of poverty - which is to say that as far as he's concerned, it was rough on Marie Antoinette to have to contemplate sharing her cake:
The costs of poverty, which are borne by taxpayers who are not poor, but who face increased tax burdens from health-care bills, penal institutions, and justice and education systems made more expensive by the knock-on real costs of poverty and its pathologies, continue to burden and render less productive the wealth-creating part of our economy.
So the Canadians actually stuck in poverty themselves? Apparently they aren't suffering any "costs of poverty" at all: their actually living the "pathologies" of poverty doesn't count since they wouldn't be doing anything useful anyway. Which seems to suggest that if someone proposed the Ralph Klein strategy of simply sending the poor out of the country never to be heard from again, Segal would see that as a plus.

But the danger that the existence of poverty in Canada might present a nuisance to "the wealth-creating part of our economy"? Now that's reason to leap into action.

Of course, Segal's actual suggestion (of a guaranteed annual income) is substantially more constructive than the reasoning behind it. But the fact that his main concern is the burden on the wealthy rather than the people directly suffering from poverty should tell us all we need to know about how little he and his party value the interests of the millions of Canadians in poverty on their watch.

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