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Dear Santa,

Joe Canuck here. Please excuse my bothering you during the Christmas rush. And also to the reindeer who stepped on my foot as I was dropping off the note, I am sorry. I was in a hurry to get my note in.

I have been sort of good this year. Not very. But I hope it’s OK because I only have a modest request. Normally as you know I start by asking for a biggie, like Peace on Earth, Good Will toward Men, and eventually bargain my way down to some decent wool socks. Or anything not made in China. But today I have something else in mind, a gift to all my countrypersons.

It’s not even for anything new. More of a repair. You know that government you gave us back in 1867? The peace and order job? Gee, it was a swell gift. Not as flashy as the one Cousin Sam got about life, liberty and all that there. But solid, well-made, practical.

We liked it. We used it for years. And I don’t want to seem pushy or ungrateful. But here’s the thing. It’s broken.

Not just a few flakes of paint off it or a crack down one side or a wobbly wheel. It’s, well, totally busted. It can’t do anything. And it’s making us sad.

I’m not saying we want a new one, that could do stuff like fix the weather, create new genders, make everyone healthy rich and wise. I know you hear talk like that sometimes from the Playpen on the Rideau. But I’m really trying to keep it real here, and modest. I just want the old one back, fixed.

You know, like the Grinch promised Cindy Lou Who? Just stuff the thing up the chimney, back to your workshop, fix it up there and bring it back here. Some glue, fresh paint, clean it out, get it back in order.

The reason I ask is that, well, like I said, it’s busted. It’s kind of depressing, actually. I can’t think of one single thing it can do right. Not one. Like it supposedly had this self-balancing budget thing, like one of those old inflatable Popeyes. But now we’re over a trillion dollars in debt and the politicians can’t make it stop. Instead when we complained, the Department of Finance suddenly told us its forecasts the politicians have been using as propaganda for decades “should not be viewed as a prediction of the future”. (This after the finance minister said a rising debt to GDP ratio was “a line we will not cross” then stumbled across it.) Well if a forecast isn’t a prediction, what use is it?

I guess on the bright side the budget put the red into our Christmas. But on the green, and again it’s not even that I necessarily like it all that much but the politicians are fanatical about it, could we get environmental policy that “works” even by moving us in a bad direction? Our Environmental Commissioner just described the nation’s past performance on climate as “shoddy”.

It’s a bad word, right? If you went to one of the elves and said “Son, this here present is shoddy” they wouldn’t be thinking “Oh yeah, I’m in line for a Christmas bonus this year?” now would they? More like “Guess I’m cleaning the stables again.” Or “Must stop ordering from China and start making things myself.”

Actually the Commissioner went on to say “Canada is the only G7 country that has not achieved any emission reduction since 1990”. And again I’m not saying you have to switch to zero-carbon reindeer feed. I’m just saying if they care that much, surely they should be able to do something even if it turns out to be a bad idea. But they can’t.

See, we also have a terrible housing crisis. So what did they do? Remove red tape? Cut taxes? No. The Minister of Housing suddenly said “If you are an adult working in Canada you should be able to buy a home…. If you cannot work you should have a home too. Government should work together to provide it to you.”

“Government should work together”. That’s all they’ve got. Oh, except they keep making feeble housing promises but then accidentally let in a million people a year and for some reason it’s hard for them all to find homes. Also that business about being unable to control or even explain immigration policy. It’s pretty basic.

Speaking of basic, the old government sort of had a military. I know, I know, peace on Earth. But meanwhile defence of the realm is the primary duty of government and we have no armed forces. There’s a naval crisis out the Red Sea way and we sent three staff officers. No ship.

I realize we have lots of bureaucrats. In fact the Canadian state has swelled up like a dirigible in the last decade so we have plenty to spare. But with all this hiring, the government has never been bigger, more conceited or more helpless. And it’s not fair to the rest of us.

I made a list. I wanted to do your Nice/Naughty thing. Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery and me angling for good loot, I mean. But it was all naughty. Even this one: “A climate program to phase out diesel generators in Arctic Canada is nowhere near reaching targets despite millions in subsidies, documents show.” Not rocket science, is it? And a good thing too. And instead of delivering results, they delivered excuses. “The Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations blamed the pandemic and inflation.”

You don’t do that, do you? Did any kid wake up Christmas morning to an empty stocking except a note “I blame the pandemic and inflation. Thanks for the cookies, though. Santa.” Hardly.

I’m not trying to pressure you, Nick, old buddy. I know you’ve got elves to supervise, reindeer to feed, lots of fancy toys to deliver. But um there was just this report that this year the government completed precisely no recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and won’t get through the list until 2081. Imagine if you didn’t deliver the prezzies in half a century. Someone else would be driving the sleigh, right?

Sorry. That might have sounded pushy. It’s just so frustrating, though. And I don’t think I’m asking for all that much. I mean, a lot of aboriginal kids would be happy on Dec. 25 if they could just turn on the tap and get water that’s safe to drink. Which the politicians promised with the usual smarmy smile almost a decade ago and then just flubbed feebly.

Oh, and speaking of flying through the air, what about this story that my fellow Joes and Janes Canuck aren’t even bothering to file complains with the Canadian Transportation Agency over wretched airplane travel experiences because it has a 61,000-case backlog and a two-year wait time. What is it, the health system?

There’s another point. I don’t actually understand who thought politicians and bureaucrats were doctors. But whoever it was added this supposedly sacred thing to our state apparatus that’s totally not working. And I’m not even asking you to fix it. Could you just pry it off and return the government without it?

I could go on and on. Maybe you think I already have. But just one more, given that Christmas is associated with trees as well as sacks, sleighs and so forth. The Canadian government promised in 2019 to plant two billion trees. How hard could it be, in a country that already has 300 billion?

Or how useful, I might add. But even if some policies aren’t a great idea, if they’re really dear to the hearts of the politicians they should be able to make them happen and then we can decide. Like sometimes you super-totally want some trendy digital game for Christmas and by Dec. 29 you’ve realized it’s not nearly as fun as the box it came in?

Anyway, with the tree program flat on its bark, the best the Minister could come up with was “Looking ahead the program will continue its efforts to remain nimble”. Can we instead get back a government whose tree-planting program continues its efforts to plant trees, and actually does a half-way credible job?

I mean, be honest. If these things were in your sack, you wouldn’t deliver them, would you? Not even to the Naughty list.

So please, this year, could you take the government back, fix it and drop it off all shiny and worth having?

Oh dear. I perceive from the look on your face that I have asked too much. So never mind. Let’s start with the easy stuff, like Peace on Earth, and continue our nimble efforts to fix Canada’s government by 2081.

Yours sincerely,

Joe Canuck

P.S. Sorry again for the hoofprint on my foot. My fault for sure.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

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The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.