I would like to address some of the issues raised by the other candidates and parties recently – issues over which the people of this riding have also expressed concern.
First off, I see two themes running through the policies of many of these candidates and parties: treating the symptoms and extravagant spending. More on this later.
Illegal drug use
There is an opioid crisis that has not passed our community by. For example, the Pembroke Regional Hospital regularly treats drug overdoses. The chic solution to drug use these days seems to be legalization, a stance taken by the Green Party, Libertarian Party, the NDP and implemented by the Liberal Party. The solution to crime and social problems is not to change the laws so that criminal acts are no longer illegal.
All parties focus on treatment of current addicts, which is great in the short term, but that is all it is – short-term thinking, which is the hallmark of politics today. These types of short-term, finger-in-the-dyke fixes do not address the real issues or look at long-term prevention.
Perhaps instead of treating the symptoms we should be treating the causes. In the present case these causes include the breakup of families and communities, low paying jobs, poverty, hopelessness, and a multitude of other social issues that legalization and treatment completely ignore and that are making their way, slowly but surely, into the Ottawa Valley.
The solution to the drug problem doesn’t involve legalization or quixotically attempting to cut off the supply, but on reflecting on a society in which destructive drug use has become normalized and is no longer even newsworthy.
A closely related issue is mental health.
It is well accepted that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) very often have a tremendous impact on later life (mental) health and well-being. While we should certainly be spending resources treating adults and children suffering from mental health issues, more resources should be spent in prevention of these ACEs and other causes of mental health problems.
Mental health and drug use often have the same or similar causes: the breakdown of families and communities, violence, poverty, materialism, etc. Perhaps it is time for some soul searching. Our own prime minister says that Canada has no core identity. If a country has no core identity, then how can its citizens? If individuals are left to drift any way we please with no common goal or moral guiding principle, is it surprising to see psychological pain and suffering? Extremes are not healthy for society. Extreme and radical individualism breaks apart families and communities as sure as collectivism does – only the path is different.
A similar lack of reflection is seen when it comes to the environment. News story after news story exposes the hypocrisy and luxury of people who lecture us to consume less. For example, “the Duke and Duchess of Sussex sparking a row when it emerged they took four private jets in 11 days, despite speaking in support of protecting the environment,” and “(the Duchess of Cambridge’s) dresses had their own seat, to make sure they were kept flat.” It grinds my gears to read this when the government imposed carbon tax forces a pensioner in the Ottawa Valley to choose between turning the heat past 17C during a cold snap and buying their grandson a present. (Source: https://www.express.co.uk/news/royal/1180773/Kate-Middleton-news-Duchess-latest-dress-today-Prince-William-pregnant-today)
Half of all carbon emissions are created by the wealthiest 10 percent, yet it is the 90 percent who are the ones expected to reduce their consumption. It should not be about trying to live in a science fiction world powered by rainbows, or telling seniors to keep their heat at 17C during a cold snap so the wealthy elite can continue to fly around the world in their private jets, but instead, we should start by examining our overly materialistic society (which also contributes to the breakdown of families and communities). I would encourage those who are happy paying the carbon tax to live on $15,000 for an entire year (or the equivalent for their family size) and try to see first-hand the choices the government is forcing us to make.
How soon will it be before air travel is out of reach for the 90 percent and proper nutrition is only for the elite, while the rest of us eat Soylent Green in our unheated hovels? These are serious ideas being proposed today.
Superhero movies like the latest Spider Man that is on its way to a 600 percent profit of over $1 billion are vehicles only for excessive profit and greed. How many private jet flights and how much CO2 was emitted in the making of movies like this? And for what? A movie of little entertainment value and even less cultural and spiritual value. Movies like this are targeted to and make their money from the same children who, without seeing the contradiction, lecture adults on climate responsibility. The responsibility should lie with the biggest polluters and their enablers, but the Cult of the Celebrity forbids this common sense approach.
This summer, before the election was called, the current government went on a spending spree – a regular occurrence before an election. Since the election all parties have made tens of billions of dollars in new spending promises. None of them, however, have shown any tendency towards fiscal restraint whatsoever. It is spend, spend, spend, with no plan about where this money is coming from. Sure it sounds good, a few billion more for healthcare here, a few billion for housing there, no problem! But there is a problem, beyond the source of this money; at the very least it sets a poor example for young people who see successive governments borrowing and spending without a plan to ever pay it back.
A younger constituent recently asked me “Why should me and my generation show fiscal restraint when all others before me haven’t?” When you live in a society you can be a giver or a taker. You can be a net contributor or you can live off the wealth of others. If all you want is “more free stuff” then you will have a difficult choice to make since all parties are trying to buy your vote with exactly that platform. When elected I will help you succeed on your own. Your success is my success, and I want us all to succeed together.
Politicians try to buy your vote with your own money, except that now they have famously run out of your money and are now using your children’s money and your grandchildren’s money. “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”
Proper economic and fiscal management is one key to successful and healthy families. Since families are a microcosm of communities, and communities a microcosm of a country this principal of sound management is never out of place. Temporary overspending and deficits are one thing if they are balanced with repayments, permanent deficits are something else entirely.
This idea of what is good for the smallest unit (the family) is good for the largest goes beyond just economics and finance. Strength, Truth, Wisdom, Principled Leadership, Purpose all contribute to healthy families and healthy communities and healthy countries. Instead of policy making that is designed to annoy the opposition of the day and hoodwink the public into believing their short-termism is a substitute for real solutions, politicians should find common sense solutions.
I am spending much of my time going door-to-door meeting residents of this riding to hear their concerns first hand. Similarly, I spent the last several weeks meeting with the mayors of this riding to hear their concerns. A few mayors absolutely refused to see me. We need to take back our communities from politicians who think they are too good for us and think we can be bought with our own money and promises of quick fixes and easy solutions.
There is little need to further comment on Justin Trudeau’s entitled upbringing and the poor choices that result from it, or Andrew Scheer’s one year of real-world experience or any of the other leaders and politicians who can never know or appreciate the people of the Ottawa Valley. If the voters of this riding are as fed up as I am with out-of-touch politicians who ignore us and are so short-sighted to only offer us too-good-to-be-true quick-fixes, then I offer them a fresh conservative perspective as an alternative this election.
Unfortunately I don’t find the same pleasure in talking about myself as most politicians do, and I would rather talk about the issues that are important to the people of this riding, but I understand it is part of the job. I was born in St. Catharines, Ontario to a military father, and spent most of my childhood living on military bases across Canada and Germany. My first job was delivering beer door-to-door in Soest, Germany, after which, back in Canada I picked fruit on farms and crushed gravel for CP. I then dropped out of high school and started selling shoes part-time where I was put in an accelerated management training program. By the age of 26 I was the manager of Sayvette (Loblaws), one of the largest department stores in Toronto. I adopted a son and began raising a family, but was not spending enough time with them. I gave up this very successful career and 40 years ago I bought an empty storefront in Petawawa sight unseen in order to spend more time with my family and haven’t looked back. I started a chain of three convenience stores in Pembroke/Petawawa (Criger’s Grocery), a clothing store, and a mail order company. Today I own and operate Criger’s Country Decor with Carolyn, my wife of 49 years. Canada is a country where opportunities like these still exist for anybody who is willing to put in the time and effort – especially the effort. The spirit of hard work and success is within us all, and I want to dedicate the next four years to helping the people of Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke succeed – no matter their definition of success.
Independent Candidate for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke
Criger,D. (2019,Sept.28) Dan Criger – Letter to the Editor / News Release [media release]