in need of
I read this morning's headlines I didn't know whether
to laugh cry or curl up in a fetal positioin.
first story was about the family members of children with
autism who demonstrated on Parliament Hill to bring attention
to a lack of funding and education in Canada.
The second story was about the job cuts at the Royal Ottawa
Hospital needed to eliminate a $4.2 million deficit and
the fact that their budget has been frozen for the past
third story was about the estimated $528 million price
tag for Canada's war against ISIS in the coming year.
the risk of sounding over dramtic, our society is at an
important crossroads. We seriously need to examine our
priorities before the current paradigm gets so skewed
there's no turning back.
of millions of dollars are being spent on giving Canadians
a false sense of security while children with autism and
their families are being paid lip service; more money
is spent on campaigns lifting the stigma of mental illness
than treating the mentally ill; and access, or the lack
thereof, to long-term care facilities is a national disgrace.
don't get me wrong, I agree that something needs to be
done to stop ISIS or at least curtail their activities,
but does it require spending half a billion dollars?
we give the Iraqis $300 million to deal with ISIS themselves
and use the other $300 million to provide enhanced services
to individuals with autism and their families, or people
stuggling to deal with mental illness?
at all levels are constantly telling us they only have
so much money and that our expectations need to be based
on our ability to pay. Well, if we can afford to spend
half a billion on waging a war with ISIS, or tens if not
hundreds of millions of dollars beefing up or anti-terror
establishment, surely we can afford to build more long
term care facilities that won't burn up our grandparents'
life savings before they die.
tragedy is that more words will be exchanged and press
releases written debating safety and security in the next
election than senior care, mental health services and
autism combined. I know this because none of those issues
even registered a blip in last year's provincial election.
also much easier to peddle fear than hope, especially
when the media are willing accomplices. Case in point,
the tragic death of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and the storming
of Parliament Hill by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.
news agencies and 24-hour news channels were tripping
over themselves trying to one up each other. The result
was borderline hysteria, if not on the streets than at
least in the newsrooms.
it turned out Zehaf-Bibeau was little more than a petty
criminal with a serious drug habit and an even more serious
mental disorder. To discribe him as a terrorist is an
insult to even the lowliest masked ISIS fighter.
don't talk to me about the video message he left behind.
He probably memerized the entire thing after watching
countless other extremist manifestos on the Internet.
is still no evidence that he had any communication with
any known terrorist organization before his attack. He
was just an individual who used religion as a misguided
motive to commit his last desparate act.
this isolated incident plays into the hands of the fear
peddlars who would rather spend $100 million on CSIS than
$100 million on enhanced services for families dealing
with autism; mental health services; or seniors.
do think we need to be vigilent in defending ourselves
against legitiate terror threats, but not at the expense
of the most vulnerable in our society and not at the expense
of the freedoms that separate us from them.
required is balance. What's required is a government that
is willing to establish priorites that address issues
like autism, mental illness and senior care on the same
level as safety and security.
can only hope that discussion will take place during the
next federal election. I just don't plan on holding my
breath waiting for it to happen.
you wish to comment on this or any other View Point column
please write to
Fred Sherwin at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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