Up here in Canada, all of us parents started our summer with a great big(ish) check from our federal government. Ostensibly, it’s a new child tax credit, retroactive to the beginning of 2015 – 160$ per month for children under 7; 60$ a month for kids 7-18.
Our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has spent millions advertising his new plan for returning money to ‘hard working families’. In reality, it’s a bribe to sweeten his appeal to middle class, suburban voters in advance of this October’s federal election. Politicos will recognize the move – George W sent 200$ checks just before the 2004 election.
Why does this bug me? An $800 check is a nice thing to get. For me, it’s the hypocrisy and the regressiveness of the whole thing. Hypocrisy – This gift coming 3 weeks before the election is to be called, and it will throw the government back into a deficit situation… something Harper has been promising to eliminate since he came to power in 2006 (after a liberal government with a long series of surplus budgets). Regressiveness – some people really, really need financial assistance to care for their children…. and some – me included – do not. For those in need, 60$ a month is not a lot of money… but the $3 billion Harper is spending on this program could buy a lot of day care spaces for low income families or it could subsidize a lot of after school sports programs for kids in disadvantaged neighbourhoods…. but poor families don’t vote.
So, how to spend the $840 we got? My wife and I were discussing what to do with this money. We came up with some options. The altruistic part of me says donate it to the Liberal Party of Canada – Harper is set to seriously outspend them in the upcoming election, especially since he is calling it 6 weeks earlier to get around the (normally very effective) Canadian election spending limits. A whole bunch of $800 donations would really help. Alternatively, I could find another worthy cause… maybe the Boys and Girls club.
But a big part of me wants to do something that would really piss Harper off. $840 would buy a decent amount of weed and/or a very nice sexual adventure for a couple of over-stressed parents… maybe a visit to the strip club or an erotic massage parlour. The truth is, like many middle and upper middle class parents, we have the money to care for our kids… what we lack is time and opportunity to have fun, decompress, enjoy the fruits of our hard work.
Maybe that’s the golden ticket… weed and strippers. Happy parents make happy kids. And if Stephen Harper gets royally pissed off in the process… that’s just the icing on the cake.