Throughout this election campaign, many issues have competed for our attention in the media and in local ridings across Canada. But it can be difficult to gain a wider perspective as to how these individual issues are connected and form a larger picture of the kind of society in which we live. By asking ourselves, our friends, and our neighbours what kind of vision we have for our country, we can be challenged to vote according to our values and in support of a better Canada.
With more than 3.3 million people living in poverty in Canada, we see the face of poverty every day. Organizations throughout the country working in the fight against poverty agree that it is a critical issue that needs to be addressed with a federal poverty reduction strategy. It is good news that four of the five major political parties have addressing poverty among their priorities in the current election campaign. We encourage you to engage your local candidates, ask them to share their vision for Canada, and remind them that poverty is an issue.
Elections have always been about values, but a new practice is appearing in Canadian politics: framing. Framing is a way of conveying values and associating them with certain policies or parties. Canadians who are truly concerned about voting their values must therefore not take election campaigns at “face value”. Many important issues need to be addressed, but if we allow ourselves to be manipulated by the framing of political parties, we may end up voting against our own values.
Looking beyond the mistakes and disappointing personal attacks that obscured policy debate during the first week of the campaign, it’s clear that the environment and the economy were the two big issues. They were the focus of the first policy announcements from parties, and parties’ stances on the topics were the target of opponents and pundits alike.
As Canadians head into our third election in four years, how easy it would be to become cynical about the whole political process. Will voting really change things? Yet cynicism is a tool the status quo uses to its advantage. The only way change will happen is if we become and stay engaged. Make sure you speak up about ideas you don’t support and vote for the candidate you believe supports public justice.
While immigration is crucial to Canada’s population and economic growth, immigrants arriving in Canada today increasingly face structures of inequality and barriers to full participation in the economy and society. The effects of deepening poverty and the lack of access to decent and affordable housing pose enormous challenges to successful immigrant settlement and integration. Public justice calls the government to invest in affordable housing and provide the necessary funding and support for immigrant services to help newcomers find and maintain housing.
While people across the globe celebrated World Refugee Day last Friday, refugee advocates in Canada also celebrated the passage of Bill C-280, which calls for the implementation of a Refugee Appeal Division. The creation of this new appeal mechanism will enhance the integrity of Canada’s refugee determination system.
In this 45th anniversary year, we look back with thankfulness to the many different people who helped lay the foundations for CPJ and public justice in Canada. From the founding members to our new supporters, CPJ has been blessed with many dedicated, strong voices for justice.
May was an exciting month for CPJ as we travelled across Canada engaging people in a dialogue about poverty in Canada and suggesting ways to fight against poverty. In coordination with the recent launch of our Envisioning Canada Without Poverty campaign, CPJ held workshops in five different cities, Ottawa, Halifax, London, Winnipeg and Edmonton, to explore a national poverty reduction strategy and empower citizens to engage in advocacy. Advocacy is an ongoing process; change does not come in a day. We must keep persisting because we have a duty to work toward a just society in which all people can live in dignity and have access to basic needs.