An Open Invitation to Election 2011 Candidates of Prince Edward and Hastings Counties:
I am Canadian - one of millions proud to call this great country "home." I have been blessed with incredible family, good health, and a husband who works long hours to provide for our growing family. While we are not rich, we are not quite poor, either. Mostly, we are getting by and trying to enjoy ourselves along the way.
It's not always easy. My husband lost his job during the recession and we were forced to sell our first home and move to "The Friendly City" when he finally found work after six long months of searching. We have spent the past few years settling into a life here and trying to climb out from under a mountain of debt - a challenge facing many Canadians.
We do not live large or take vacations. My husband drives a 12-year old car and we're hoping to get one more winter out of our 42-year-old furnace. Our children do not wear designer clothes unless they've been handed down and we eat a lot of potatoes. I am a menu-planning, strictly-budgeted coupon clipper.
I stay at home with our two children and have done so for almost six years. It is a sacrifice, but one we've made willingly. Happily. Besides, even if I wanted to find a job outside of our home, daycare costs would soak up any financial gains. Trust me - we've crunched the numbers over and over: until our youngest son is in school full-time, I will be here, trimming the budget and raising the future.
My husband earns a decent wage, especially for this area of the province, but in order to do so, he works more than 60 hours every week. Like so many others eking out their living, we are practically paycheque-to- paycheque, and every month, bemoan the loss of all those long hours to taxes.
Yes, we have access to healthcare and appreciate that we will - eventually - receive compassionate care should we call the doctor's office, visit a clinic or end up in the hospital ER, feverish child in-arms. Our children do (and will) participate in the French Immersion program in a Catholic school mere blocks away and their grandparents have graciously offered to pay a portion of their sports-related fees.
We are lucky - to have each other, our children, great neighbours and family within a two-hour drive.
Still...we worry. We worry that the price of groceries will continue to rise, the cost of gas will cut further into our already-tight budget and that the day will come when our children will be accepted to university and we will not have enough in the coffee-tin coffers. (RESPs are presently on hold because we simply do not have enough left over at month's end. This, in particular, bothers my husband, who is still paying off his OSAP loans.)
I worry about our aging parents and wonder what will happen when they can no longer care for themselves. How will they afford the best possible care? Will they be able to afford any care at all? Will they be separated - a heartbreaking, shameful reality for many of our nation's seniors. If not, how will we afford to care for them, should it come to that?
I wonder what sort of lessons we're teaching our children when we tell them that this is the best country in the world, but that they hear us say that we have little trust in those longing to "be the boss" of it.
We pay our taxes, pay tithing, pay the piper and always, it seems, are paying our dues.
But as we do all of this, while raising our boys to be earth-friendly and globally-minded, what will YOU do? If I tick the box next to your name on May 2nd, what will YOU bring to this city, in need of change, of restoration, of hope? What will your party bring to this country, reeling still from financial setbacks and a depressing job market? What will your party bring to all of us who've been frustrated with governmental power or felt disappointment that those we chose to lead, were not chosen?
I invite you to visit me here, in my home. It's small and bursting at the seams with the stuff of boys, but the coffee is hot, the chairs are comfy and the door is always open.
I invite you to share with me - and my children - how your party can and will offer new direction for this country, fresh ideas for a clean and bright tomorrow. Please, convince me to have faith in your promises and tell me how I can add my voice to yours.
Tell us, an average Canadian family, how we can help to shape the future.
Do this and I will give you my faith...and my vote.