Ralph Surette has been around a long time. He has seen politicians come and go. And, for him, Stephen Harper cannot go fast enough:
Environmental and fishery laws, our international reputation, the integrity of Parliament, relations with the provinces, and more, have been junked; scientists have been gagged, information snuffed under a pall of non-transparency, and so forth. Virtually every week, for years now, there’s been a new outrage; they have become so routine that they’re hardly reported.
And, from the perspective of a Maritimer, Harper's "reform" of EI really means the destruction of the system:
As of now, by some calculations, only four out of 10 people who pay into the system can actually collect, thanks to its accumulated dysfunction. If so, the present changes, in my estimation, will drop that to 30 or even 20 per cent. Much has been said about having to take any job within an hour’s drive and the inspectors going around sniffing out fraud. More to the point is the closure of the regional EI offices and the demand that everything be done by computer, including being on standby as Ottawa emails twice a day on job openings “in your area.” Meanwhile, the conditions to be met (competency evaluations, attending job fairs, networking and others) are geared to big city conditions.
Canadians may have forgotten that
these changes, like everything else in the Harpersphere, were never debated. They were part of last year’s budget omnibus bill, a violation of democratic process in itself. The argument that EI is a support for seasonal industries, not unlike subsidies for the auto or oil industries, never entered the calculation.
Perhaps, Surette suggests, the prime minister believes he doesn't need the Maritimes -- just as he doesn't need Quebec -- to win the the next time around. Those regions are disposable. In fact, if he only needs 39% of the vote to win, that means the majority of Canadians are disposable.
Given those kinds of numbers, Surette writes:
The real point now, I suggest, is how much damage is yet to be done by this government before its number is finally up in a couple of years.