Absolute Equality

Absolute Equality -

The beginning or the end?

This week marks the second week of a coroner’s inquest into the suicide epidemic in Nunavut. More than 450 people have committed suicide since the territory was created in 1999. Many of those who take their lives are young people. One boy was only 11 years old. His grandmother testified that the boy was distraught over the murder of his sister.

Suicide and murder are two of the many issues First Nations, Métis and Inuit face at a much higher rate than other Canadians, all as a result of the legacy of residential schools. A legacy that was studied in depth by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission over a number of years.

Both the Liberals and the NDP have promised to hold an inquiry into the more than 1,100 missing and murdered Indigenous women, but that is just one of the 94 recommendations handed down by Justice Murray Sinclair and the Truth and Reconciliation handed down in June of this year.

While Conservative Leader Stephen Harper rejected two of the TRC’s recommendations when the report was released, both the Liberal and NDP leaders said they would work with the document for aboriginal peoples.

So where are the recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in this election campaign?

Why the Prime Minister is right (and wrong)


In his prime time interview with Peter Mansbridge on Monday night the Prime Minister told the anchor that he would not try to form government if he did not win the most seats. Twitter went a little crazy after he made this statement with people declaring that the PM was right or wrong in his explanation of the way the Canadian government works.

But the fact is that Mr. Harper was both right and wrong about the way he views government formation.

The fact is that in our system the sitting Prime Minister, no matter the election results, has the option to form government and try to win the confidence of the house. Those are the rules. It just so happens that most Prime Ministers who didn’t win the most seats haven’t tried.

Except for good old Mackenzie King. It didn’t go well.

So while Harper told Peter Mansbridge that the convention is that the party that wins the most seats governs he was right. By convention, that is true.

But in reality, by rule, Harper would have every right to try and gain the confidence of the house, and when he lost it (which he probably would fairly quickly given what the parties have been saying about each other) the party that actually had the most seats would get a shot at it. And hopefully that would stick, at least for a while.

(According to my current readings for class, at least six months would send us into another election when that minority eventually fell).

Good times ahead.

The Kids Today

The campaign is on and already I’ve heard a news story about engaging youth in the election and getting them to vote. As always one of the aforementioned youth told the reporter that the politicians need to talk to them and address their issues.

This is the general loop we go through – we’re told that youth don’t vote because politicians don’t focus on the issues that are important to them and that politicians don’t focus on the issues important to youth because youth don’t vote.

But here’s what we should really be teaching our young people: Every single decision made by a the next government will affect your life.

It might not affect the life you’re living right now, but it will eventually affect you, and that’s something you should not be ignoring.

People are doing you a disservice by acting like it’s somehow okay that you don’t vote now. Chances are if you don’t realize the importance of voting at a young age you’re unlikely to pay attention and realize how important voting is as you get older.

And that will affect every part of your life – we’re talking the environment you live in, the education you get, you’re health care, your retirement (which may seem like a long way off, but it might take you that long to pay off your student debt), you career path…

Everything in your life is being determined by the governments we choose. And it’s not okay to just not care. It matters.

If you’re not informed and asking questions you lose out. It’s not about them talking to you and giving you things. It’s about you helping to shape what this country becomes, no matter what the campaign looks like for “your” issues

Christmas in July

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In advance of the federal election campaign (in fact, much closer to it than we realized) the Conservative government sent Pierre Poilievre around the country handing out cheques.

These cheques amount to an additional $60 per month per child ($160 for children under six, $60 for children over six). Except that in the end they don’t amount to that at all.

In the end the government has this spokesperson touring the country telling Canadian parents that they’re getting all this money which:

1) Will be taxed and amount to about $15 per month in the end;

2) Wouldn’t begin to cover childcare or most needs of a child even if it were actually $160 per month.

We paid childcare for two years. As it turns out we were about average for our area, and that amounted to approximately $1,200 per month.

What our family has been doing with the $100 per month benefit up until now is something I’ve recommended to other people – put it in your child’s RRSP. The government will match some of that money and after a few years they’ll have something built up to pay for whatever tuition is when they get there.

I actually heard this idea touted by a Conservative member of Parliament. But my answer to that is simple enough. If I hadn’t been paying $1,200 per month for childcare, we would have saved up her full tuition long ago.

So, all in all, the UCCB isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And this was made worse By Mr. Poilievre. He went on Twitter and asked Canadians to let him know when they had received their cheques. His response to one? “You earned it!”

How does that follow?

The Canadian government decided to win votes by giving away money to those who were smart enough to procreate.

Congratulations people with custody of children six and under! You earned it.

Further reading:

Global News: Who benefits from Canada’s Universal Child Care Benefit?