Dan Herman
COLUMNIST

Matt Smith
PHOTO EDITOR

I hate to be cynical, but since the federal election was called on August 2, the most consistent thing I’ve heard is that each of the primary parties want to buy our votes.

Do you happen to be a craft brewer? Well, there’s a potential tax cut for you. And you, over there, are you a teacher? We have a tax cut for you. And you, way over there, with the big house and that grandiose addition being built at the back, wouldn’t you love a home renovation tax credit? Sure you would.

Do any of these policies make economic sense? Hardly. They range from being so small that they’re ineffective in spurring any real consumer spending, to being so expansive that, in the case of the proposed home renovation tax credit, they’re a huge misallocation of resources.

Do any of these policies solve any real problems? Hardly. If craft brewers are having a hard time starting up, the problem isn’t taxes – it’s the lack of capital being invested in small ventures.

If teachers are having to pay out of pocket for expenses, the problem is the lack of money being invested in our schools and educational programs. And if you really need new windows, well, then, you should probably pay for those yourself.

Don’t get me wrong I understand the political game at work here. When I first heard about the home renovation tax policy my ears perked up since we’re doing some renovations around the house. However, it’s a shot in the wrong direction. If you can afford new windows, you likely don’t need a few dollars back. And if you’ve looked into our real estate markets and the service providers around them, they’re not exactly in dire need of assistance.

Want to solve some real problems? How about committing to the construction of a rapid two-way, all-day public transportation to and from Toronto on an accelerated schedule?

Or how about developing an internship fund to make sure that every individual who arrives in Canada is guaranteed work experience in their field? Or a childcare program that is geared to income? (Wait a minute, one party does have that one right!) Or how about a scale-up fund to ensure that high-potential companies who show the ability to grow internationally have a pool of capital to borrow from?

There’s no shortage of real problems in this country, and in this community. And there’s no shortage of smart people with good policy ideas to tackle them. What’s in the way, however, isn’t just politics – it’s the attitudes that each of us hold about what’s important.

Politicians build off of those perceptions and feed them right back to us. So perhaps it’s time for all of us to stretch our necks and look beyond our backyards. Rather than simply thinking about how a particular policy might help our pocketbooks, it would be nice if more of us could remove our heads from the sand and think about how we keep a great place like Canada great.