Vern's Verbal Vibe

Singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist and purveyor of folk 'n' roll: spirit-filled sad songs made better.

September 27, 2007

Letter to Howard Hampton, Leader, Ontario NDP

Dear Mr. Hampton,

As a lifelong NDP supporter, I regret to inform you that your Cancer Prevention Strategy, as unveiled in the current election campaign, compels me to take my vote elsewhere.

I quote from your web site: "Closely following priorities set by the Canadian Cancer Society, the NDP will build on its reputation as a leader in the fight against tobacco with a strong tobacco reduction strategy to prevent lung and oral cancers. The NDP plan includes cracking down on contraband and an Anti-Smoking Tobacco Tax to increase the cost of cigarettes by 17 per cent, bringing the rate up to British Columbia's, the leader in Canada."

A disproportionate percentage of Ontario's poor are smokers. This regressive, punitive tax hits one of your core constituencies where it hurts them most: in the wallet. It is with shock and dismay that I witness the New Democratic Party, champion of the oppressed, punishing—with pride, no less—a minority group that is among the most persecuted and reviled in Ontario today. The McGuinty government, through its recent series of campaigns, has seen fit to assault Ontario's smokers with ad hominem attacks that border on hate speech (e.g., telling them they "smell like dog crap" in a television ad).

I infer from the quoted material above (and the NDP's endorsement of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2006) that strategies such as these have your full support. Your sole complaint, I would surmise, is that they don't go far enough. To wit: "We know there's a direct link between tobacco, exposure to toxins and cancer. It [sic] we're going to fight cancer, we need to stop exposing our families to cancer-causing agents including tobacco and toxic substances in our homes and backyards."

I remind you that Ontarians are legally entitled to smoke in any realm not specified in the Smoke-Free Ontario Act. This includes, but is not limited to, their "homes and backyards." Does the NDP's toxin search-and-destroy mission know no bounds, even if it means stripping one in six Ontarians of their legal rights as private citizens?

Federally and provincially, I have supported the NDP for nearly twenty-five years. As I stand in the ballot box this October 10th, I will mourn the death of the kinder, gentler New Democratic Party I knew—that of Donald MacDonald, Stephen Lewis, and Bob Rae. I will plaintively recall a party that sought social justice for all and reluctantly cast my vote elsewhere.

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