Chretien Should Widen His Mind, Not Our Highway.

It seems as though Chretien is casting about for ideas on how to leave a legacy for Canada marking his prime-ministership. One idea that may be catching his fancy is expanding the Trans-Canada highway to four lanes across its length.

Much as I appreciate the fact that Chretien is now thinking beyond his prime-ministership (meaning that the end can't be that far away), twinning the Trans-Canada Highway has to be one of the most dumb-assed political legacies considered by a prime minister ever.

Sure, Eisenhauer is noted for the United States' Interstate network, but that's an Interstate NETWORK: a comprehensive transformation of a superpower's transportation infrastructure, for better or worse. The Trans-Canada Highway is one road. And yes, Canada's transcontinental railroads forged this nation, but they were bolts of iron shot into the wilderness, transforming us from a provincial colony to a dominion stretching from sea to sea. The Trans-Canada Highway is one road, whose economic benefits, while measurable, pale in comparison. And, yes, the Trans-Canada Highway was a marvel of engineering; but is it the first thing one thinks about when one thinks Canada?

If you want a true legacy, how about one that will actually make a difference to this country? How about universal college education? If you are a Canadian citizen or a landed immigrant and can pass the entrance exams, your university tuition is free. Or how about a universal day care program, promised back in 1984? Either of these elements could dramatically improve Canada's position in the world for decades to come, producing a high-tech, productive and literate giant. A day care program would remove more people from the welfare rolls than Mike Harris could ever dream of. How about buttressing our national health care program, which you threatened with cutbacks when you took office in 1993? How about an urban infrastructure program? Even a TGV between Toronto and Montreal would have a more lasting impact and serve more people.

Or should you really be caring about legacies at all? Aren't legacies (especially those of the monumental variety) the specialities of dictators and egomaniacs?

Sorry, I forgot who I was talking about.

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