Suddenly, Stephen Harper doesn't seem all that out of place. The latest from pollster Nik Nanos is that many Canadians are pessimistic about the future that awaits our youth.
"...the low expectations for the future are not confined to Quebec. Everywhere in the country, except for the prairies, people told the polling company they believe the next generation is facing an economic decline.
"'I think what we are seeing is a grinding effect of a prolonged period without significant growth and it’s just wearing people down,' said Mr. Nanos, who said he did not believe a survey conducted five years ago would have obtained similar results.
There’s no real end to the economic downturn in sight, he said. 'On top of that, you’ve got record levels of personal debt, an unstable economy, and governments looking at controlling the costs of many of the services and benefits that they provide.'"
The actual numbers were just 37% of respondents who believed the next generation is hooped while 25% said they think our youth will actually be better off. Who's right? Until we ditch the Petro-Pols of Parliament Hill, I think the 37% are a safe bet. So long as we have governments so beholden to a primarily foreign resource industry that they're prepared to gut environmental protections, seemingly at whim, we're living under governments that don't serve us.
For our youth, this government is malevolent. They're the population segment most harmed by its "slash and burn" policies, by its lack of commitment to their education and health care, by its refusal to intervene to reverse the growing gap between rich and poor and the inevitable ascent of class divide and inter-generational tensions.
Today's youth will face enormous challenges, individually and collectively, as this century progresses. While, directly, Canada will be one of just a handful of nations blessed to be the "last and least" impacted by environmental change already setting in through the most vulnerable regions of our planet, we will not be immune to the repercussions and what is coming our way will be immensely challenging.
How Canada responds to the challenges of the 21st century depends on circumstances some beyond and others within our control and there must lie our focus, the circumstances we can shape. As perhaps never before it will be critical that we have a strong, educated, confident society. To bear the strains we absolutely must have a cohesive society that can only be achieved, in the context of democracy, by the maintenance of a strong, robust and broad-based middle class. Education and health care are the building blocks of that middle class but so are the narrowing of income and wealth inequality and the promotion of equality of opportunity.
It's time we proclaimed that digging sludge out of the ground is not the answer to our country's future; that our youth are the answer and that they, not bitumen, must be our priority.