As John Ibbitson observed in this article, the robocall scandal has taken up much of the political oxygen in Ottawa. Now, this is serious business and it must be investigated (impersonating an Elections Canada official is a criminal offence...criminal offences can lead to imprisonment)... but, there are other important things going on right now.
First, the state of Aboriginal education in this country is a disaster.
The average First Nation's student receives $6,000 a year less in funding than a student under a provincial system. First Nations schools are rotting. They are understaffed. They lack basic equipment. The government is now claiming to be dealing with this issue. One of their proposals is to fund First Nations education at the average level of provincial education. I really hope that they are serious about this. We can't expect First Nations children to compete if we don't at least give them an equal opportunity. Forget affirmative action...how about safe classrooms, with books, teachers, and paper?
Another big issue are changes being made to the Old Age Security pension. The government claims that it is unsustainable...which it is not, however they are right to note that Canada is going to face some big demographic changes as I noted in an earlier entry. In order to keep on top of these changes, we do need to be looking at ways to ensure that our pension system is sustainable.
Copyright reform. Right now, the Copyright Modernization Act is before committee. On the one side, we have producers (many of them small time, independent artists) who are not getting paid for their work. One member of the committee noted yesterday that up to 90% of the content on an iPod has not been paid for. On the other hand, should material previously purchases be subject to controls to prevent it from being copied? Also, where does education fit into this? I haven't read the bill in depth, but I think that the Conservatives seem to be on the right track on this one.
And of course, on March 29 the government will bring down the budget. That should make for some very lively debate as it will likely have an ounce or two of pain.
So, though it's good to pay attention to Harperland's latest egregious scandal, let's keep in mind that the wheels of government haven't simply stopped.