They say all politics are local. Nothing could be truer about this election. This campaign did not begin 10 weeks ago, it began nearly one-year ago when 2000 municipal leaders came together and made a united call for a new approach. A new era of cooperation between all orders of government focused on our most pressing challenges: jobs, the economy, our quality of life
Young people vote at much lower rates than older Canadians. In the 2011 federal election, only 41 per cent of Canadians under 30 voted. However, when it comes to rates of participation in political and civic life beyond voting, younger Canadians' participation rate is 11 percentage points higher, on average, than their older counterparts across 18 forms of participation.
As the federal election comes to its final stage, many eyes are on Ontario. Stephen Harper has been a regular visitor in ridings that the Conservatives currently hold, giving the impression that he is focusing on keeping versus increasing seats. Justin Trudeau on the other hand, is venturing into Conservative and NDP held ridings looking for new support. Winning seats in Ontario requires some fine balancing. While there is a desire to figure out what will appeal to voters across the province, it is also a bit of a mug's game and far more challenging than it looks.
Could we as a people, despite our many distinctions, be giving birth to a new kind of revolutionary optimism, to the belief we recognize that the political estate can only be as collaborative, visionary, or as engaged as we are? If so, and if the advanced polls are any indication, we could be building our own "Field of Dreams," but with one great distinction.
Be aware that, in our midst, a group of Canadian citizens are being dehumanized. History has shown us over and over again that this leads to oppression, hatred, and violence. Move past your knee-jerk reaction of protectionism. Don't be fooled by rhetoric. Understand that to that Muslim woman wearing the niqab, not being able to choose what she wears is oppression, even if it makes you personally uncomfortable.
The federal government must invest in solid labour market research and incentives for employers to hire Canadian youth, like grants and tax breaks. Industry has to step up, too, offering co-op education placements and paid internships, as well as career mentorship for young employees. We should closely watch and learn from the European Union. Facing massive underemployment, over the past four years the EU has launched a sweeping youth employment strategy, including better labour market research, apprenticeship and skills training programs, as well as government-business partnerships that are expected to create more jobs.
It's been nearly 25 years since Canada signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, agreeing to protect and ensure the rights of our youngest citizens. Yet there is still no formal mechanism to hold the government accountable for the way it treats its youngest citizens. Every day, Canadian children experience poverty, abuse, neglect, preventable diseases, and unequal access to quality health services and education. At the root of many of these problems is public policy that does not put the needs of children first.
In response to the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis, our current Canadian government has reluctantly offered some support. We shall, according to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, accept 10,000 refugees over the next three years. As medical students committed to global health, we call into question this lukewarm commitment to such a pressing crisis and call for stronger commitments in line with Canada's values.
Marineland has launched lawsuits targeting myself, former orca trainer Christine Santos and animal care supervisor Jim Hammond. My latest round of legal bills totaled more than I will earn in this year -- $100,000. Our lawsuits are shining examples of the urgent need for the anti-SLAPP legislation that is Bill 52: Protection of Public Participation Act. It is unbearable to think that this historic piece of legislation -- as it is currently written -- will not apply to the very people who have largely inspired it. Why is the province turning its back on us and leaving us behind? Where is the procedural fairness for those of us who are already proceeding with unfair cases before the courts in Ontario?
With the confirmation of the Canadian recession by Stats Canada earlier this month and the government's subsequent announcement of a $1.9 billion surplus, spending has become a particular point of interest in our upcoming election. Small business owners, who make up 98 per cent of employer businesses in Canada, will be looking to see which party's proposed spend will have a tangible effect on their bottom lines.
There is a distinction between two kinds of rights held by copyright owners: economic rights and moral rights. Any Canadian politicians seeking to use a musical work at a public event should be aware of the legal issues that may arise when a work is directly linked with a political party or message.
The trend is clear: when voters are faced with a left-leaning party campaigning on centrist economic ideals, they will pick the real deal every time. Every. Single. Time. At its best, Mulcair's NDP can inspire. Bill C-51 is the best example, but its universal child-care policy and promise to abolish the senate also fall into this category. But there have been too many blunders. Mulcair's sudden love for balanced budgets not only affirms the faulty framework that inexplicably lauds Stephen Harper as a responsible steward of the economy, it cedes precious ground to Trudeau at the moment Canadians want an alternative to neoliberal pabulum.
Simon Kuzents, the economist who developed the GDP measurement, warned it was not a good meter stick for national well-being. Still, that's exactly how the GDP has been used globally since the 1940s. GDP is the total value of all the goods and services a country produces in a year. So, creating jobs and producing equipment to clean up an oil spill, for example, adds to the GDP. As does producing guns and bombs for war. GDP is blind to factors like unemployment, living conditions and environmental degradation. Make sense? Not really. Whether it's genuine progress, national happiness, or a system that blends the best of both, the global community must agree on a more holistic way to measure our nations' progress that doesn't just count the money we make.
Not all political dynasties are created equal -- one key difference lies in the calibre of their descendants. Last year, the Liberal Party elected as its leader Justin Trudeau, son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Warren Bennis, a noted scholar on leadership, said, "The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born -- that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That's nonsense."
As a socialist, I was excited for this election as I hoped the NDP would stretch its wings and become a vocal proponent for the poor, the under-housed, the underemployed, etc.; that they would put front and centre the issues that carry the greatest ethical and moral weight for Canada's society. But no. The party of the little man -- Tommy Douglas's party of mice refusing to be led by cats -- is now courting middle-income Canadians. For me the crisis facing Canadians is not one of an attack on the middle class.
The heart-rending image of Alan Kurdi dead in the sand, as though sleeping peacefully, sparked a global mobilization to aid Syrian refugees. But while they number more than four million, Syrians still only represent one-fifth of the almost 20 million refugees in the world today -- the greatest global refugee population since World War II. While Canadians open their homes and wallets to Syrian refugees, here are some of the others we cannot allow to be forgotten.
Election season is heating up. The leaders debate on economic policy is almost upon us. And my mother wants me to say a few things to those who aspire to lead our country. She wants me to say that, as a strong woman who is the mother of a strong woman and grandmother of a strong granddaughter, we need to do better.