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Language Requirements Counter to Public Justice Values

Two weeks ago, Minister for Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney stated that he believed immigrants should be required to speak English or French before being accepted into Canada, arguing that this would encourage newcomers to integrate more into Canadian society. His statement has since sparked a heated debate about immigration policy in Canada. How do we integrate newcomers into Canada? Is a language requirement fair and necessary for integration?

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What’s God got to do with it? Faith and politics at the Cabinet table

Cabinet minister Gary Goodyear recently made headlines for refusing to state his beliefs on evolution. The response highlighted the uncertainty with which many Canadians approach the topic of faith and politics. Some Canadians believe that faith has no place in politics; others believe that politics is a power struggle in which people of religion must seek to impose their religious values on others. These are both problematic propositions. Faith cannot be separated from politics, but people of all faiths have a responsibility to engage in respectful, dialogue-based politics that practice public justice and seek the common good.

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Collaborative government: Are coalitions the answer?

While Canadians responded with fear and outrage to the possibility of a coalition government, many other countries are used to coalition governments. Experience from Germany and the Netherlands suggests that coalition governments can work well, offering stability and good governance. They represent accommodation of multiple viewpoints, and offer a positive platform for governance that does not restrict the role of other parties to opposing the government. Lessons from Europe could provide useful alternatives for the Canadian system, offering a more collaborative, transparent approach.

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The StreetoHome Foundation: Working to End Homelessness in Vancouver

Vancouver has one of the highest rates of homelessness in Canada. The lack of affordable and supportive housing has left hundreds of people without a warm, safe and decent home. It is estimated that there are over 1,700 people living on the streets and in shelters in Vancouver. 50 percent of these are people who are chronically homeless, having gone without a home for over a year. And the problem is growing.

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Momentum is Building

It feels counter-intuitive, but very, very real. Despite a global recession and a federal government seemingly blind to social exclusion, momentum is building for action on poverty in Canada.

It began in Quebec. In 2002, following three years of grassroots mobilization and a citizen-led initiative to draft anti-poverty legislation, the Government of Quebec passed an Act to Combat Poverty and Social Exclusion. The bill created a strategy that aims to make Quebec “one of the industrialized nations having the least number of persons living in poverty” by 2013.

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Supreme Court refuses to hear Safe Third Country case

On February 5, a three-judge panel of the Supreme Court of Canada rejected an appeal application that sought to have the Safe Third Country Agreement deemed unconstitutional. The appeal came from the Canadian Council for Refugees, the Canadian Council of Churches and Amnesty International, who were appealing a Federal Court of Appeal’s decision to uphold the STCA.

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Part III – A Deeper Look at GLI: Jobs for Everyone?

People often fear the work disincentive of guaranteed livable income because they believe that people will choose not to work if they have income security. This belief assumes that there are enough jobs for everyone, and that GLI or generous social benefits encourages some people not to engage in paid employment. The reality is, however, that there are not enough paid jobs for every Canadian, nor enough good jobs to meet every Canadian's needs. Income security for Canadians should therefore not be determined solely by participation in the paid labour force.

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Barack or Stephen: Who really stimulates you?

On February 19, Barack Obama flew into Ottawa for his first presidential trip outside the United States. His host, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is yearning for some of his visitor’s high approval ratings to rub off here at home.

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Strengthening Women’s Equality through Childcare

While women in Canada enjoy relative equality in comparison to many other countries around the world, gender inequalities still exist. Government policies can help strengthen the status of women by offering opportunities for women to participate more fully in society. One such policy is childcare. Accessible, affordable, quality childcare can help promote women’s equality by assisting them with their domestic caring responsibilities and enabling them to engage in the paid workforce if they choose.

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On Dignity

Worth. Honour. Respect.

These terms are all included in the Oxford Encyclopedic English Dictionary definition of dignity. Several others could easily be added: integrity, virtue, self-esteem, independence, pride, strength.

Dignity. It the basis for who we are as human beings and it is the foundation of international human rights agreements. But how does it translate into our daily lives?

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