A Labrador stimulous wish list

Michael Johansen
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Christmas seems to be coming early this year, or maybe just a little bit late.
At least that seems to be the national hope. People all over Canada are sending wish lists to Santa Claus - who, in this case, is being represented by the so-called prime minister and the guy he's got handling the nation's finances.
They've asked all kinds of citizens (from economists to financiers to bankers, accountants, to governments and government officials, to some large national and multinational corporations, as well as to several millionaires, billionaires and possibly a googolplexinaire or two, but not apparently to those who take care of households, who must go to work every day to pay the bills, who are running small businesses or trying to make a few honest bucks as independent contractors, consultants or artists, or who are unemployed or facing unemployment and could stand to see a more reasonable EI system) how the federal government should spend taxpayer money to get Canada out of an economic slump.
One hopes that those Canadian citizens to whom Stephen Harper and Jim Flaherty are listening remember that the whole point of an economic stimulous plan is to put money into empty pockets so that people will have something to spend and not to put it into the pockets of those who already have lots, but are afraid if they don't make more their shareholders will get cross with them. In other words, Canadian taxpayer money should only be spent in ways that will benefit the most number of Canadian citizens directly.
The equation is simple: The more people earn money by working or collecting unemployment insurance the more they spend; the more they spend, the more jobs are preserved or created. In turn, the people with those jobs will also have more to spend.
It's the upward spiral everybody wants.
Benefits, however, should not just come from more people working, but from the work they do. That's perhaps the best argument for sending the bulk of the money straight to municipal councils.
No level of government knows better what potholes need filling, what bridges need repairing, what roads need rebuilding and what parks and other facilities need developing. If there's any money left over after that it can go to the provincial governments - as long as they're made to spend it on necessary things like schools and hospitals, not on pointless transmission lines.
One hopes that Harper's blue ribbon panel of high-priced lawyers and corporate CEOs knows about things like crumbling bridges and mildewy classrooms. Let's hope they're aware that while spending billions of dollars on unwieldy megaprojects might improve some stock exchange pay-offs, it won't put as many people back to work as investing in numerous smaller projects that repair the things that are broken and create new infrastructure. Hopefully, they also know that by promoting technologies like solar banks and wind turbines they can prepare the economy for the future, rather than shackle it to the oil-burning past.
With that in mind, there are a few things Labrador could put on a wish list.
Some of those turbines and solar collectors, for instance, would go well in all the communities along the coast to first supplement and eventually replace all the noisy, polluting diesel engines they now need to produce electricity. As well, the roads that exist throughout the region (and the one that will soon be completed between Happy Valley-Goose Bay and the Cartwright junction) can be upgraded and paved - and it wouldn't hurt to rebuild ones like Route 520 that desperately need strong foundations to eliminate the piecemeal reparations carried out every year. If more suggestions are needed, they can easily be found.
One doesn't know, however, which ideas are making it all the way into the minds of Harper and Flaherty and one won't know until the so-called prime minister finally screws up his courage to face Parliament with a throne speech and much anticipated budget. Canada may or may not get something that will help the economy, but the country will at least find out if Harper has learned to play well with others and to listen to what they are telling him.

Michael Johansen is a writer living in Labrador.

Geographic location: Labrador, Canada, Happy Valley Goose Bay

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