Industry Minister James Moore drew ire this weekend after comments to the effect that it’s not his problem how other Canadians manage their lives.
Apropos of news that British Columbia maintains the highest levels of child poverty in the country, a reporter for Vancouver’s News 1130 asked Moore whether Ottawa has any responsibility for this epidemic.
“Obviously, nobody wants kids to go to school hungry, but yeah, certainly we want to make sure that kids go to school with a full belly, but is that always the government’s job, to be there to serve people their breakfast?” Moore responded. “Is it my job to feed my neighbour’s child? I don’t think so.”
Outrage ensued. The Twittersphere called him the Grinch, among other things. Child poverty watch groups want him to apologize.
For his part, Moore claims to have been quoted out of context. Whatever the context his comments were intended to be taken in would be met with great interest, though none of us are holding our breath.
However lacking in compassion Moore’s comments may have come across, they should be of surprise to absolutely no one.
How could anyone with a remotely working knowledge of political ideologies in Canada be shocked to hear a Conservative express what is an entirely predictable Conservative view?
It is no secret that Conservatives tend to see charity as an act up to the individual, not something over which they see the government as having any responsibility.
By definition, Conservatives believe the role of government should be kept to a bare minimum. Anyone having a hard time is on their own, likely victim only of their own poor choices.
The undoing of the social safety net is a point of pride for these Tories. Whether it’s Employment Insurance, CPP or any other program designed with the idea that by helping each other, we help ourselves, Tories see these initiatives as things that develop dependencies among Canadians. Not things that help.
If Moore’s comments are a departure at all, they are only inasmuch as they were perhaps more blunt than the doublespeak Canadians usually hear from this government.
No, Moore’s belief that neither he nor his government have any responsibility in alleviating child poverty is not especially compassionate. But it shouldn’t come as a surprise either.
UPDATE: Moore apologized just before 1pm Monday on Twitter, saying: “An apology. The cause of fighting poverty is not helped by comments like those I made last week. I am sorry.”