Workers Day of Mourning reminds us of the good in regulations

We hear much about what hindrance regulations can be these days.  How less regulation will help our economic engine roar to life and spread wealth throughout the land.   If you allow yourself to be swept up in the message it can feel as if you are listening to a sermon based on the story of Davey and Goliath. Upon closer inspection, you can see that the roles have been reversed and there is much of an advertiser’s edge to the claim that cutting red tape is the cure for our economic problems.

Are these just regulations that pile up and stop the free market from doing what it does best – or does the use of the phrase ‘red tape’  indicate a willingness to accept unnecessary risks as part of making a buck?  

In Elliot Lake there is a Miner’s Monument that serves as the backdrop for Workers Day of Mourning ceremonies every April 28th.   The monument is carved with the names of those workers who lost their lives to occupational hazards and serves as a visible reminder that we have the capacity to remember and to learn from workplace death, illness and injury.  Those lessons learned become part of our health and safety policies and take life as regulations.  The regulations are the nuts and bolts of laws that are created to protect us in many ways including those that protect us at work - not red tape.

A Canada without reasonable regulations is a country from our past.  For those who think it is impossible for such backwards moves to take a place in our modern country, I invite you to look at how we treat our environment.  Our government has gone from not fully enforcing existing environmental regulations to chopping and gutting them to suit the needs of big oil and their developer friends.

Please remember that for years the environment has placed at or near the top of issue rankings among Canadians.  The Conservative government not only ignores that fact, but has the gall to question the patriotism of Canadians who still believe that it remains important all the while rebranding our environmental regulations as ‘red tape.’ 

Bear that in mind next time you hear how regulations are impeding development.  Sure, we can do away with outdated items like local bylaws demanding businesses have hitching posts for horses, but regulations that protect our land water, air and safety at work shouldn’t be so easily tossed aside.  Nor should the ultimate power of decision be left in the hands of reckless Ministers who cares more about big oil’s interest that they do for reasonable sustainable development. 

Regulations, whether they protect our work places, environment or health as consumers, are the product of evidence based considerations and are not created on whims.  Great countries are built pragmatically with appropriate protection for citizens that allow business to survive as well; those safeguards should not be cast aside haphazardly for short term gain.  Nation building is a long term project.