By Jane Taber, Globe and Mail, September 29, 2011
This piece refers to several focus groups conducted by Innovative Research Group of both long-standing NDP members and people who voted NDP in the May 2nd election.Their opinions have been released today.
Asked if people who don’t get ahead in life should blame themselves or the system, 34 per cent of “stable” NDP said themselves compared to 31 per cent who said the system should be blamed. The new contingent, however, looked at this differently – 52 per cent said they blame themselves compared to 13 per cent who blame the system.
Given these statistics, Mr. Lyle said the Conservatives and Liberals could make inroads is if they were to come up with work-for-welfare programs.
“The concept of work for welfare is that handouts can destroy the work ethic so when you are giving income assistance to people who are employable, you should have them do some form of community service in return,” he told The Globe. “While it is now often seen as a right wing American idea, it has a strong Canadian appeal.”
The Liberal Party is the natural "fit" for any "work-for-welfare" program and let's hope that party leaders have already tasked their research staff to put together such a proposal, in light of the report from this research group. Certainly the Conservatives will jump on the idea, given their Darwinian approach to winning all of the elections for the rest of this century. However, their approach will, inevitably, focus on the government's power to "save the Canadian taxpayer" millions, without caring whether the program works, shows that people can and do work their way out of poverty, off welfare and into the mainstream of the economy. Conservatives in this government "don't give a rat's ass" about the rehabilitation of people, not those being processed through the courts, nor those currently "draining" the economy by abusing the government's assistance programs. They care only about the fiscal and economic success of their base, the rich and the powerful corporations and individuals.
Only the Liberal party is positioned, historically, and hopefully in the near future, to design, and to deliver a work-for-welfare program that would meet Canadian cultural, political as well as fiscal standards. There are so few "red" Tories left that they have become an endangered species.
Even the NDP is not positioned in as effective a position as the Liberals, on this proposition, since they would generate a program that provided too much government money for such a program, thereby putting their ideology of sharing the wealth ahead of the rehabilitation of the individuals and families it seeks to benefit.
This is a strong vote "for" a work-for-welfare" program, as another legitimate step toward our long-held, and even longer hoped-for day when a guaranteed annual income will become the norm in Canada.