I regret to inform you that your current lifestyle and future is at risk. You had the privilege to grow up during Cape Breton’s golden age, coal and steel employed thousands, the fisheries dragged in tons of cod processed at local fish plants, the harbor was filled with ships from around the world and the possibilities, they seemed endless. You remember the streets buzzing with young families; multiple hospitals and schools filled with the hopes and dreams of the future. This is the past you fondly remember; a past when you worked hard raising your families and prospered. You should be proud of your achievements; how you shaped this community. This is your legacy; your history and I applaud you, thank you for your hard work. Unfortunately your contributions are now being wasted. The taxes you paid towards community infrastructure, the money you raised for hospitals and halls, ball fields and parks, volunteer fire departments and equipment are now wasted. A lifetime of commitment to family and community is all at risk!
Cape Breton is in a downward spiral as more and more people exit our community in search of employment. Your history is not your children’s and grandchildren’s present. You know this, you drive through your community pointing to the vacant lots where you once worked, overgrown ball fields and playgrounds falling into disrepair. The proof is reported daily, schools are closing, the university eliminating staff, hospital beds reduced and emergency rooms closed. Every year businesses close and your neighbors continue to struggle. In fact, every year you pay more tax for fewer services because there are no new tax payers, they’re leaving and you are left to pick up the bill and unfortunately you can expect more demanded of you in the future. Now, I know you know the answer to the problem; your years of life experience tell you we need to create jobs. I also know you look to our politicians to lead our community out of this whirlpool, hoping your families won’t have to leave and I also know you reminisce of better times and you wish you could hold the grandchildren who now live far from Cape Breton’s shores.
Guess who also know you reminisce of those better times. Politicians know! Guess what else they know? They know you are the key to their political future. You are the most active voters in our community and to get your vote they promise jobs. Unfortunately there is another tactic they use to manipulate you into voting for them, one that hurts us all, they promise a return to the past, the things you fondly remember, big industry, harbors filled with ships, mines churning out coal and all manner of industrial projects, because they know you vote hoping they can make the past come to life. The reality is, for the past 20 years they have all failed to deliver on that dream. Not any one political party has succeeded and they have proved it through numerous failed attempts and hundreds of millions of dollars. Please take my words to heart, “no amount of money invested in these promises is stopping your children from leaving.”
There is a reason; the world you grew up and prospered in no longer exists in the way you remember. I could give you a thousand reasons but that past, that history as glorious as it once was is not our future. This is why you have to be afraid. This is why you have to not vote for politicians that are selling that dream. One of your generation’s greatest minds Albert Einstein gave us his definition of Insanity, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Does this describe what you have witnessed over the last 20 years? What gives me hope is that you, the older and wiser members of our community hold the true power, you can influence the future and you can do it with your vote. Here’s how, each time a politician promises big industry he is playing on your memories and your desire to have jobs for your family. You must resist the temptation to believe! Recent history has proven that most of these projects, especially if they depend on Government money are likely to fail. If the CEOs of these companies saw an opportunity worth exploiting, they would be doing it, simply because they can make money, no other reason. The tax breaks they ask for simply add to the bottom line, but are not the reason they will come, the profits have to be there in the first place the rest is simply a bonus. What you need to recognize is that big business benefits typically result in a transfer of your tax money into the hands of people that if it was truly viable could afford to do these projects without government support. Remember, these groups have no true commitment to Cape Breton, no true commitment to you or to your family beyond the money. Loyalty stops at the bank!
You must forget the past and ask questions regarding how they intend to support small local entrepreneurs get off the ground and succeed; hold them to it and make them accountable. These are the very people that live in your community, the people who will raise a family and pay for the very services you’re losing. These are the companies that hire local, will buy local and any investments made by government will likely stay here. Even if the start-up company fails, that money will be spent here and the entrepreneurs in our community will learn and be better next time. Think of it as an investment in education. So I share these thoughts with all retirees and seniors, you have the power, you can drive change, and as biggest political influence in our community, I beg you, ignore the big announcements and demand that the government invest significantly more in helping launch local small businesses. Everything you worked for shouldn’t find its way into the hands of the agencies that will be left to care for you, it should go to your families. Your future and the future of your families depend on giving local entrepreneurs a future. Cape Breton can prosper again; it simply needs your help to demand an investment in a significant kick-start!
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