It's time to get "un-political" and just plain old "reasonable." Let's hope that time off from the hectic pace of Parliament Hill over a long weekend offered an opportunity for reflection -- especially around Bill C-23, the so-called Fair Elections Act, which has been hotly contested, reviewed, analyzed and refuted for the past two months. The government should spend the same amount of effort to promote voting and protect the Charter right to vote as they have towards marketing a flawed and chastised Bill. Let's move past the false advertising.
Changes proposed in the Fair Elections Act are top of debate, particularly when one of the proposed changes could dramatically hinder access to the polls for our country's most vulnerable people. Under the proposed Act, the option of voter vouching is on the chopping block. Individuals without appropriate ID, including homeless people, have relied on this option in order to vote. If the discussion is about fairness, then ensuring all citizens can participate in the electoral process should be a top priority. This includes keeping a system of voter vouching. Not only is it the right thing to do, but democracy depends on it.
Despite the many upstanding, ethical police officers out there, the force has given the public numerous reasons to question its conduct. There have been a number of high profile cases of alleged police brutality in Canada and Quebec, including the 2010 G-20 Toronto summit protests, the 2012 Quebec student protests, and the Robert Dziekanski taser incident.
As winter came roaring into Toronto over the past few weeks, many Torontonians -- close to 228,000 to be more exact -- were left in the dark and without power for up to a week as a result of the freezing rain that blanketed the city. In total, the damage and cleanup is estimated to cost the city $106 million. It has been a punishing start to what could be a very long, bitter winter.
In Abbotsford, a letter allegedly from "The Abbotsford Downtown Homeless Association" was recently delivered to the doors of local businesses. The letter was snapped and posted all over Facebook, sparking huge debates regarding the homeless in the city. Before seeing this post, I had no idea there was so much going on with the homeless in Abbotsford.
We know that chronic homelessness is a challenge that is complicated by social issues like addiction and mental health. Safe, stable housing is an essential element in addressing homelessness and the problems that can often come with it. This is why the HPS takes a Housing First approach with a focus on chronic homelessness.
For Canada's veterans the Throne Speech was a big flop. It devoted a total of 10 sentences to vets, and only two of them said anything about Harper's plans. The other six were self-congratulatory backslapping: meaningless rhetoric from a government which appears to think supporting veterans is as simple as saying those words over and over.
I see him everyday, standing out in the street in the heat or the cold fighting ghosts in his head. All too often in Canada, the street or the emergency ward has become the place where those with severe mental illnesses end up. Those with mental illnesses make up a disturbing percentage of the homeless.
On any given night, thousands of Canadians languish in ramshackle housing, line up at shelters, or sleep in our streets and alleyways. This situation is not limited to our big cities, with the Homeless Hub estimating that on any given day, 30,000 Canadians are without homes. How can it be that in such a prosperous country, we continue to struggle to house those most in need?
On any given night in Canada, 30,000 people are homeless. These are people -- men, women, and families -- who are unsheltered, in emergency shelters, or in temporary "provisional" accommodations. The report also notes that as many of 50,000 Canadians may be "hidden homeless;" those who are staying with friends, family, or relatives, but it can be difficult to gather correct data for these instances.
Issac Newton said that for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction. While this may be true for physics, it certainly does not carry over into interpersonal matters. Often the gentlest of gestures, smallest of actions or the quietest of whispered kind words will have an avalanche effect on the lives of others.
Something largely overlooked by wide media coverage of the federal government's Economic Action Plan 2013 was that it marked a significant change in the way we will tackle homelessness in this country. The policy lens dramatically shifts from supports for "helping the homeless" to "ending homelessness."
My daughter would come home sad everyday. She would cry every week. We would have pep talks regularly, but I could not mend her broken heart. I could not take back the words kids said to my child. Her loneliness haunted me. As a mother, I was watching a child dying on the inside. It was like watching a beautiful flower wilting in the cold.
With support from Electronics Arts, the Directions Youth Services media room helps street youth find the voice many never realized was inside them. Co-ordinator Colin Ford and the staff teach music, art, audio recording, film-making, computer literacy, digital media skills and teamwork. They provide an opportunity for social inclusion and creative expression where it might not have existed before.
Project Winter Survival is a remarkable event where volunteers come together to help the homeless survive the cold winters. With the growing Canada-wide demand for Project Winter Survival's kits, being able to help as many of the homeless as possible is what my Bargains Group team pushes for, and this year were able to pack and distribute 3,000 kits.