“In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”
In his Inaugural Address on January 20, 1981, President Ronald Reagan charted a path forward that realigned the balance of power in the United States.
With this speech, President Reagan drew a line in the sand declaring that action would be taken today, to preserve tomorrow. Where some may have expected a detailed articulation of government taxation schemes and a bloated bureaucracy, he instead shifted the spotlight to its rightful place: the people.
He made a commitment with words, which was followed by actions, to reduce the tax burden on Americans and allow them to reap the benefits of their success, without penalization. He isolated the economic hardships triggered by dramatic inflation that resulted from previous governments choosing to pile deficit upon deficit and live beyond the nation’s means.
President Reagan understood the best way forward was not to increase the size of government or amass more control at the top, but rather to empower the nation’s solution-makers, problem-solvers, and wealth-generators. The solution was in the people.
He knew that positive change should not be left up to an elite few to make decisions and impose them on the general population, as so many on the political left would advocate for. Government for, by, and of the people was the miracle of the United States of America, and he was going to bring that back.
Although his speech was delivered over four decades ago, it rings just as true today in Canada as it did in the United States then.
It is the Canadian men and women—the farmers, the retailers, the healthcare workers, the miners, the restaurant owners, the electricians, the plumbers, the engineers, the emergency responders, the social workers, the teachers, the truck drivers, the house cleaners, and the servers—who make this country what it is, and no politician or political party can ever take that away. It is Canadians who bear the promise of this nations’ future, not the government.
In our liberal democracy, the government is not meant to hold the power. It is the people. Sadly, we have seen a distortion of this foundational principle in recent years as governments have taken more and more opportunity and responsibility away from the people while placating them with niceties, such as government cheques. The end result of this socialist-leaning path is known, and it is not the outcome any of us should be happy to accept.
The pandemic has illuminated the lengths to which governments are willing to go to avoid accountability and accrue control. From the outset, the Trudeau Liberals attempted to get away with unlimited taxing and spending powers for close to three years. They shut down Parliament and replaced it with a special committee, where opposition parties were stripped of their powers to hold the government accountable, all the while billions of dollars were flying out the door.
It is undeniable that the larger government becomes and the more present it is in our daily lives, the more problems arise. We are worse off.
Along with the government’s attempt to monitor, mediate, and regulate more and more of our lives, it is simultaneously speaking down to Canadians telling them they are helpless, in need of saving, and almost valueless without the hand of government.
This is a lie. It is self-serving politics masquerading as charity, and it is fostering weakness.
It is when the government restrains itself that competition is allowed to thrive and excellence, innovation, and prosperity result. We know that when the economy does well, charitable giving rises, poverty declines, and people report being happier and healthier. It is individual liberty and free markets that permit wages to go up and unemployment to go down, not big governments who tend to tip the scales in favour of elite insiders and special interest groups.
It is when we, as individual Canadians, seize the opportunities in front of us; steward the gifts, talents, and abilities within; and work toward a vibrant tomorrow, that the country we call home will really flourish.
So, my question to you is this: what do you want tomorrow to look like?
What will you dream of? What blueprint will you draft? Who will you partner with to the build future? Is there someone you can mentor to ensure your wisdom is passed on?
One day, I believe we will have a federal government that will truly empower the people of this nation, rather than impose its own will and desires on those who live here. There will be a reordering of power to its proper alignment. In the meantime, we must remember we are not victims, we are victors, and the world is ours to positively impact.