Tuesday, September 25, 2007

February holiday needs to be thought of seriously

By Sean McMullen

If re-elected on Oct. 10, the provincial Liberal government vowed to create a statutory holiday on the third Monday in February dubbed Family Day, a day intended for Ontarian families to focus more on each other. Family Day would boost Ontario’s statutory holiday number to nine, making it even with Saskatchewan, British Colombia, Alberta and the Territories.

While the exciting promise of a day off in February is enticing, it is nothing more than a vote-garnering tactic for the Liberal party. This late in the election game, voters should not base their vote on one promise the Liberals may not even keep.
Finance Minister Greg Sorbara’s reasons for the potential holiday were because Ontarians work hard, their winters are lengthy and because they deserve it. Sorbara also said Ontario is economically viable enough to give the proletariat a day off with pay.

Broken promises to the Liberals are comparable to feeding a destructive crack-cocaine addiction: they just keep doing it, regardless of the consequences.

For instance, Dalton McGuinty promised in 2003 that he wouldn’t raise our taxes. In fact, personal income tax revenues have gone up by 32 per cent since they took power in 2003. But that’s only the tip of the dishonest iceberg, which ironically is the same iceberg the Liberals are now slipping off.

There is no doubt a long weekend in bitterly cold February is attractive so why didn’t the Liberal party promise this before they were elected in 2003 or at least enforce it while in power?

Family Day’s origins began 17 years ago in Alberta. Then-Premier Don Getty created the holiday in response to a family drug scandal involving his son. Getty told the public it was his son’s involvement with drugs that caused him re-evaluate his priorities and to focus more on his family.

Criticism of the new statutory holiday came from Alberta employers who felt the additional holiday was a monetary yoke and they weren’t willing to put it on their shoulders.

Most likely, critics of the holiday will be labeled anti-family, especially opposing political parties.

James Cowan, A National Post journalist asked Ingrid Thompson, a Conservative spokeswoman what her party’s stance was on the issue. She said, “It’s always nice to seem like you’re giving candy to the voter, but it needs to be considered and thought through in terms of what its impact might be before anything is firmly decided.”

The Liberals must also consider the effects a possible holiday might have on people without families or if their families are far away. How would they celebrate Family Day? Should they be considered to have the day off work? I mean, if they don’t have a family, why would they?

The Liberals are also backing Conservative MP John Tory into an unyielding corner if he doesn’t support their holiday plan. If Tory praises their idea (and how he could not), he will be supporting a party he directly opposes. On the other hand, if he doesn’t believe Ontario needs another long weekend, he could lose votes from his followers, provided they aren’t uneducated sheep and know when a candy promise is being made.

However, this wasn’t the first time Family Day was proposed for Ontario and it wasn’t from the Liberals.

Earlier this year, Conservative MPP John O’Toole attempted to introduce Family Day to Ontario and his reason was that family is “one of the great institutions of civilization.”

So it seems both parties are trying to boost their image as “family-orientated” by proposing this new holiday. Playing with the hearts and minds of voters through seemingly sincere promises has always been a prominent staple in politics.

The Ottawa Citizen reported two weeks ago that the Liberals party has already made over 71 promises, while the Conservatives have pledged 142 including the controversial religious school funding.

Hypothetically, if the Liberal party is re-elected and they don’t follow through on their promise (which will probably be the case), they will come under a lot of heat from people who voted based on that one promise. And another broken promise would be the final cannonball sized hole in the ship they’re sailing on, not to mention the already stormy sea of angry voters.

Judging from the time of the announcement, it was a smart move to promise a new holiday while on Labour Day. People would be at home enjoying their day off, sipping some lemonade on their deck, hear the news on their transistor radio and think, “Hey, I could use another day off just like this.

Perhaps the money-grabbing provincial landlords are geniuses after all. But they need to get one thing straight. Please don’t take away your proposed holiday in February because I really want to go visit my family that weekend, you know, to spend more time with them.

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