In Crinan, the western Elgin County farming community where I was raised in the 1950s and 1960s, people made a point of being classless. Some farmers had more money, there were distinctions between men and women, a few people were more popular than others, but we regarded ourselves as common people, ordinary folk. When I was in elementary school, we used British accents to imitate upper-class people. Obviously, we had no sense of the intricacies of the English class system.
Now, if you didn’t attend Argyle Presbyterian Church, you were not held in the same regard as members of the congregation. And if you were Indigenous, would you have belonged, even if you attended that church? I’d like to think so, but I’m not sure. Let’s call it close to a classless society.
My, how things have changed.
On May 17 of this year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a $10 million piece of a 2021 budget that exceeds $508 billion. In a multi-billion dollar budget universe, $10 million hardly seems worth mentioning. Chicken feed, really.
But this $10 million warranted a substantial video and print release. I happened to hear an audio clip of the announcement on CBC Radio’s Afternoon Drive, a local show for the London to Windsor audience. The length of the clip gave me pause. I did a little research. In 2016, the Liberal government added $75 million to CBC funding, followed by an extra $150 million in funding annually through 2021. Chicken feed really, but enough of it for chickens to scratch each other’s backs once in a while.
In his May 17 announcement, Trudeau committed to training new energy advisors for the launch of the Canada Greener Homes Grant program to “help up to 700,000 Canadian homeowners across the country improve the energy efficiency of their homes and reduce their energy bills through an investment of $2.6 billion over seven years.”
In the video, Trudeau says, “If you are a homeowner, this will make your life more affordable and lower your energy bills, all while fighting climate change and creating good middle class jobs.”
This seems perfectly reasonable if you don’t think about it. But if you do …
There’s this making “your life more affordable.” Not just your energy bills, life itself.
“All the while fighting climate change.” The word “fighting” is interesting. This government is not prepared to fight the Province of Quebec over its quelling of the right to freedom of religious expression in the public service, or to fight for Quebec to remain a bilingual province. The language of war is reserved for climate change, an opponent with the advantage of not being a voter in a federal election that may be called this year.
“Creating good middle class jobs.” Emphasizing the middle class makes sense only in the context of upper class and lower class. A woke progressive like our Prime Minister, dedicated to diversity and inclusion, can’t be thinking of emphasizing class divisions, can he?
Perhaps he doesn’t realize what he’s saying. Maybe he thinks of the middle class as all of us. Well, not billionaires, but the rest of us.
Or possibly JT isn’t thinking at all. Perhaps he’s reading words crafted by a speechwriter whose mission is fundamentally one thing: re-election.
If that’s the case, it’s a shame of more than cluck-cluck proportions. Our PM seems like a nice guy, and he sure is easy to look at. But a version of the Stealers Wheel song plays like an earworm in my head: Here we are, “stuck in the middle with you.”