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Other things to think about before you vote...

Grace Miedema, Chaplain | Interrobang | News | January 16th, 2006

It's tempting to look in the mirror and see only our best selves reflected back. But there's a disconnect between what Canadians say they believe and the actual policies of our country. We're a bit like the queen in Snow White who constantly asks the mirror who's the fairest and gets told she is, until one day there's another view. We like to think of ourselves as tolerant, caring, forward-looking, respecting of human rights, inclusive… But Canadian politics is often a politics of rivalry and exclusion. We often believe that if you get what you need then there is less for me. By contrast, a politics of justice and compassion calls us to trust that if we all get what we need, we will shape a strong community that not only protects the well-being of all citizens, but leads to greater happiness for all. It is the path of true security.

Canada is a nation blessed with incredible wealth and resources, but in the presence of affluence there is a persistent problem of poverty. Many churches are doing great work to provide out of the cold shelter for some of these people; meanwhile, federal and provincial governments have been struggling to find a national housing strategy for the last 5 years. Ask candidates to work for housing solutions that encourage responsibility and partnership among all of us — in the interest of housing justice.

Ask what the party's strategy is for reducing child poverty, and poverty in Canada in general. Check or for more info here.

Some other issues to keep in mind:
Climate control - ask your candidates if they support the Kyoto Protocol, or what short- and medium-term goals they have to protect the environment.
Water rights - Do they support publicly controlled water services, and will they oppose policies that promote privatization?
Aboriginal Land Rights: - How will each party act to recognize and implement Aboriginal land and resource rights? How does each party expect to protect the rights of Aboriginal people in urban settings?

Welcoming Refugees - There are 31 million people worldwide living as refugees, and Canada accepted only 26,000 displaced people in 2004, less than 0.1% of our population. Ask what measures your candidate will support to integrate newcomers into Canadian society.

Canadians like to think of themselves as global citizens — consistently supporting peace keeping and international development and giving generously when disaster strikes. We care about our neighbors around the world — but this campaign has spent precious little time addressing these justice issues. In this election we can encourage our leaders and our neighbors to work for justice and hope around the world.
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