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By Seema Gupta



Browsing through the last minute shopping guide, making a list of all prospective purchases, making sure I nabbed all bargain-hunters dream deals, the fact that Christmas is almost the end of the year saw my happy holiday mood turn into a somber, reflective analysis of the year that was not just a ‘not a good year’ but a huge let down in many ways. Evaluating the events of the passing year is a long time journalistic ritual, the last effort to put it all in a platter before its expiry but it does make the world seem like a carnival, where you play the same games year after year, where you cry and laugh, lose and win yet forget everything after the show is over. No matter how disturbing or pleasing any news is, its importance is only so long as it is alive and then it slithers into oblivion. Every year it’s basically the same old story, the names change but the games remain the same – somewhere it’s about power struggle, somewhere dealing with crime or somewhere honoring philanthropy.

The year 2008 has marked the focal point in Canadian politics as the fight for leadership in the elections with economy as the most important policy issue resulting in an ironic situation. It is speculated that the tug of war between the two parties – Liberal and Conservative – might bear its brunt on the economy with another election, something our leaders don’t seem to be sorry for even while propagating the revival of economy as the major issue. In lieu of the sorry state of affairs mocking the parliamentary democracy, it is not surprising that the Parliament was prorogued by the Governor General because the minority government of Stephen Harper was about to lose a vote in the Commons. While the opposition has sworn to vote a no-confidence if the government does not present a budget in the national interest, the country remains under the threat of being ruled by a coalition government (a nexus of Liberals, NDP and Bloc Quebecois).

While the political leaders are sitting on the edge waiting for the imbroglio to unfold in their favor, the common man has his nose buried in a more serious problem – the economic tribulation. With a lot of companies announcing layoffs and bankruptcies, the common man is living with the fear that tomorrow he might be the next in line at the unemployment office. Not acting in concert for promoting Christmas as the big economic stimulus, people are restraining from spending as liberally this year and are trying to save a little for the rainy day. Right now they are not worrying about the trickle down effect of spending less; they are more concerned about getting the right foothold to see them through these harsh times. While politicians are looking for a stimulus package to kick start the limping economy back on track, people are trying to cut back their spending which might be a sensible decision for their family’s economy but not so much in favor of national interest. As people buy less, there is lesser demand for merchandise, lesser production and lesser employment; it becomes a vicious circle. However, people have high hopes from the new federal budget due on January 27, 2009 to come out with a viable recovery program for our hard hit economy. In keeping with the idea that major new spending or tax cuts will be needed to rescue the economy, Harper while talking in a preview of the January 27 budget has said, "We are going to have to run a deficit, do some spending measures we hadn’t planned on doing…we want to bring in some recovery programs that will help sustain the economic activity and avoid some of the worst problems."

If dealing with the political turmoil and economic slowdown hasn’t drained our energy enough to make good sense of our lives in present times, there is a bunch of other social issues that have hogged our attention lately and are worth talking about. The news of Canada’s low ranking among 25 developed nations in providing the vital daycare service has not only left many parents heartbroken but has got them worrying about the credibility of daycares in providing a good foundation for those early impressionable years of a child. Canada just meets 1 of 10 standards measuring affordability and quality of daycare services. Single mothers or parents are not able to work full time because they are waiting for subsidized daycare facilities. All this and now the news of a 5 yr old having been abused by one of the caregivers has drawn parents of young kids to the end of their tether wondering if it is at all possible to find a safe growing environment for their kids.

Sinking us lower than the low economy is the harsh reality of humans getting lured by the easy ways, some morally wrong others illegal, to pacify their immediate needs. Scams and scandals, which have got busted in the face of the poor economy, were working as an integrated part of the system and it’s a shame that some of the most educated and reputable people were engaged in these acts. The recent exposure of the illicit business of degree forgery has not only tarnished the reputation of our education system but has shown our vulnerability to foul means of making money. While we are still thinking of ways to fight terrorism and respond to deadly games played by the enemies of humanity, we have to reason out ways to conquer our own gullibility to inhuman traits – deceit, forgery, crime against women, child abuse, murders, burglaries and other crimes enacted for power and money.

Today the newspapers might be filled with grim news on the economy and with war and terror, we have to find spaces to talk about the bravery of our soldiers, generosity of the donors, the amazing contributions of the volunteers, the incredible efforts of all sincere and honest professionals and the effort of every individual in making this world a better place to live. In appreciation of every act that builds a strong society we have to remember our strengths and reasons to be proud of ourselves as humans of loving and being loved. After all this is the season to be jolly…so what if the platter didn’t have many savory dishes the dessert always leaves a good after taste.

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