Much excitement has come from the latest Conservative policy to be highlighted in our recently called election campaign. Mr. Stephen Harper has suggested that his party would create an entitlement for preschool children should he win the upcoming federal election. There have been many who have come out in support of this move, and some have been against it.
For the Liberal Party, this is a huge black eye. The Conservatives have just stolen a key plank out of the Liberal’s election platform. Not only have they hijacked it, but they have revamped the issue and given it some credibility and a form that will help the people who need it the most, the parents of preschoolers. The Liberals were quick to denounce Mr. Harper’s scheme, accusing him of not being sensitive to the needs of preschoolers and early education. Mr. Paul Martin went so far as to say that child care should be as universally entrenched in our country as medicare. Looking at the condition of medicare, that statement terrifies me.
While the usual people gave the usual responses, there have been many new voices praising Mr. Harper for finally giving families some choices and some flexibility. Some experts have been touting a program such as this for a long time, but it seems that the NDP and the Liberal Party are more concerned about expanding the role of government and the size of its bureaucracy. Indeed, the thought of the Conservatives giving the money and the choice to lowly Canadians is much to their dismay. Within their liberal mindset, they cannot understand the logic of asking, no, allowing Canadians to care for themselves.
Sociologist Reginald Bibby of the University of Lethbridge, directed a study entitled “The Future Families Project” and it was done in conjunction with the Vanier Institute of the Family in Ottawa, Ontario. They published the study on February 10, 2005, and it offers some very eye opening facts. It must be noted that the Vanier Institute is held in high esteem as a reputable think tank and research institute, and works on a non-political basis studying trends and the needs of, and is a national, charitable organization dedicated to promoting the well-being of Canadian families.
In their study, Vanier “found that 90% of Canadians feel that, in two-parent situations, ideally, one parent should stay home and take primary responsibility for raising children.” The study also found that, in their perfect Canada, the number one choice of Canadians would be one’s partner, followed by a parent, then another relative. Rounding out the top five? Home-based child care followed by daycare centres. At the bottom of the list were friends and sitters.
If this is true, then why do so many parents seek childcare? Working class families with one stay at home parent making the same amount as a family with two wage earners pays almost double the income tax. Simply put, many parents find that they are unable to raise their own children because of an unfair tax system. Thus, the Conservatives have also offered up an income splitting scheme allowing families where one parent raises the children to split the income between both parents. This will allow many more parents to stay home, and will eliminate the need for another bloated bureacratic program. What a concept. Women’s groups, who for years have been decrying the worth of the work a woman does at home, have been strangely silent.
Knowing full well the information that is found in this study, as it is disseminated to all political parties, why is there only one party willing to do the will of Canadians? Why is the media negligent on publishing this angle of the child care debate? After all, don’t we all want what is best for our children? Perhaps it is time to start considering the answer to that question. Perhaps we should also ask if there are any political parties willing to use our children’s best interests as political capital.