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JASON ALWARD: We are a society divided

Jason Alward is president of NDP P.E.I.
Jason Alward is president of NDP P.E.I.

Jason Alward
Guest opinion

With this month’s events of Jan. 6 taking place in Washington, D.C. one is not surprised by all of the social media posts virtuously extolling “it’s better here in Canada”. These expressions of relief are unfortunately misplaced as similar happenings on a smaller scale are also sadly occurring in our country.

What happened in Washington was an expression of racism and hatred that has no place in this world. History has shown how these movements are cultivated. My grandfather fought fascism in the Second World War, and make no mistake … Trump is of that ilk. While systemic racism is nothing new and is something that needs to be called out and challenged at all costs, further underlying issues may speak to an ever-growing unrest both in the United States and Canada.

The days of being able to obtain work, buy a house with little to no debt and have good union employment are simply fictional items to today’s generation. That dream of the middle-class life started eroding with my parent’s generation and has descended into full free-fall by my time. We have been slowly moving society into a “have now, pay later” mindset.

For example, the deregulation of trade systems has essentially decimated our manufacturing, sending work to parts of the world where we can turn a blind eye to human rights and environmental devastation. Locally this has played a part in eroding the livelihoods of P.E.I.'s dairy farmers and the proliferation of precarious and low-wage jobs. In these scenarios, “have now” equals cheap products and ”pay later” equals reduced livable wages and rights in both offshore nations … and in Canada.

Privatization of public services, reduction in public health care and/or elimination of social safety programs have also shown that governments and corporations have been playing the “have/save now” … and not addressing the “pay later” aspect.

And so, how does this pertain to the current unrest? Globally, over the last 40 to 50 years, we have been relying on an unjust economic system that favours corporate power, greed and accumulation of wealth by a few rather than the people. Multiple generations have now been pushed to a point of desperation and hate for institutions that are supposed to protect and support us. Instead of these institutions addressing and correcting these failures, they seem steadfastly committed to continuing with the status quo – depending on impossible economic growth which pushes them to cut further to the bone.

I’ve often pointed out to friends that I have never liked Donald Trump and am certainly happy to see him gone. However, unfortunately the underlying austerity trends that have been created throughout these last decades and supported by mainstream liberal parties as well as the Right, still exist.

If we don’t begin taking better care of humanity, we will continue revisiting these Capitol-style events; and someone more dangerous than Trump could be here in 2024.

Jason Alward is the president of the New Democratic Party of P.E.I.

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