Election’s lack of focus on social issues is regrettable

Our next visit to the ballot box is approaching and, after eight years with Premier Dalton McGuinty, a lot of people have developed strong opinions about the direction our province is heading in, whether in approval or disapproval. I know many people have short-term interests in this election – for example, financial assistance for students – however, there are many social issues that I feel deserve special consideration when we go to vote due to their long-term implications for what Ontario will be when today’s students have careers, homes, and families.

The first issue that I think needs to be brought to light is the provincial government’s use of tax dollars to pay for abortions in Ontario. There are several reasons why the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) should not provide coverage for abortion. First, as the baby boomers age, we will require a larger base of people to pay taxes and cover the cost of the social services they receive. We need as many potential taxpayers as possible to increase our population base. Having a policy that encourages reducing the number of potential taxpayers by making abortion services more accessible does not prepare us, but rather hinders us, in preparing for this demographic change.

Second, as the Campaign Life Coalition Youth have noted the money that was used for abortions (over $30 million each year) could have been allocated elsewhere for real healthcare services – hiring more doctors and nurses and purchasing hospital equipment. If we are to maintain public healthcare services with an aging population, we need to allocate our resources in a better way. Unfortunately, it seems that none of the major parties are willing to tackle this issue.

A second issue that students should be concerned about is respect for parental rights when it comes to the education of their children. In 2010, the McGuinty government nearly introduced a radical sexual education program in which elementary school students would learn about topics such as masturbation and oral sex. Such material is hardly appropriate for schoolchildren, is offensive to many families and the teaching of it would likely detract from time that could be dedicated to teaching more academic subjects.

Pushing the issue further, McGuinty would have forced the plan on the Catholic school system. To be fair, the government eventually chose not to implement the plan due to the public outcry against it, but it is disturbing that this is the attitude the Liberals have toward the state’s role in educating children – believing it is in their domain to teach such sensitive subjects, rather than that of parents. Many students should realize that they have a stake in the formation of curriculum since they may one day have children in Ontario’s public schools.

Another issue that should be taken far more seriously is the existence of the so-called Ontario Human Rights Commission. These human rights commissions exist across the country and have ruled in favour of various minority groups at the expense of free speech. In Alberta, for example, Ezra Levant was brought in from of Alberta’s commission because he published the infamous Danish Muhammad cartoon, and groups such as the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada objected to it.

Levant was acquitted, though only after a trial that never should have taken place. Free speech should be held as one of the key tenets of our society and it should not be ruled against in favour of political correctness. If an actual human right is violated then I hope that a court would prosecute the violator, but no Canadian should be prosecuted for expressing a controversial opinion.

Human rights commissions are very anti-democratic institutions, and anyone that wishes to preserve the rights possessed by individuals in a liberal democracy should seek to elect candidates who do not support its agenda. Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak had once addressed this issue as party policy but has since been silent on the issue. We need to urge our leaders to actively oppose these commissions because liberal democracy rests on the ability of citizens to express political opinions freely, and if that cannot be done, then our political system will soon find itself to be built upon sand.

I recognize that the major parties often do not take strong positions on these issues, but instead of ignoring them, students should recognize their long-term significance and demand that action be taken on them. Even if the parties fail to adequately address all of these issues, choose the party (presuming there are no preferable independent candidates) that would be most receptive to reform, vote for its candidates, and then write to them, expressing how important these issues are to you.