Election campaigns in Canada see politicians stick to bread-and-butter issues.
A good number of our federal leaders (and would-be leaders) are political wonks, the kinds of people who can eagerly debate the specifics of tax reform or infrastructure policy for hours.
But during an election campaign, people want to know about the basics – jobs, taxes, health care, child care, education, and the environment. About 90 per cent of all actual policy debate will be about those issues.
This leaves many ideas orphaned. One exception this year was the Conservative pledge to ban puppy mills – an obvious legal change that I hope sails through Parliament regardless of who wins at the ballot box.
So here’s a few odd policy ideas that I wish would get a hearing.
• Should Canada ban MLMs?
MLM stands for multi-level marketing, and some of the more notorious ones have been making the news lately.
MLMs are far more restricted in Canada than in the United States, where they are often accused of being straight-up pyramid schemes. Canadians are already protected against the worst excesses of MLM policies.
But should MLMs even be legal in Canada? What’s the benefit to society for allowing companies to create a sales force that is entirely unpaid – unless they manage to sell their product? Why can’t MLMs just sell directly online, or act as wholesalers?
• Should cats be allowed to go outside?
This is, believe it or not, a serious environmental issue. Cats, whether feral, stray, or pampered house pets, kill millions of small birds and mammals every year. A neighbourhood with all indoor cats would have both more biodiversity and more birdsong.
• Should Canada have more provinces?
This would likely run into some constitutional issues (I know, it makes me want to run and scream, too) but our current provincial boundaries are largely based on centuries-old colonial divisions plus a bunch of lines drawn by 19th century British geographers.
Should B.C. be all one province, or does the Interior and North have different needs from the coast and Lower Mainland? Could Indigenous land claims be partly addressed by the creation of new provincial governments? Is Ontario just too darn big?
• Should we tax synthetic fabrics?
Another weird-but-real environmental issue – microplastics, which come in part from synthetic fabrics when they’re run through the washing machine, are getting into the marine food chain.
Should Canada encourage the wearing of natural fibres like cotton, wool, linen, and hemp? We already grow a lot of the latter, although for other purposes.
• Should we pay students to graduate from high school?
One thing that strengthens a society is education – so why not give every high school graduate a cheque? The feds are best placed to do this, since it ought to be a national program to make it really effective. Incentivizing graduation while setting students up for post-secondary education seems like a pretty good idea.
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