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Watching the challenges of misogyny, sexism, racism, discrimination, poverty, and unemployment play out on centre stage in the United States has heightened the awareness that the same issues are still alive and well in our own country. The impact that a prime minister or president can have on the issues we care about is more than immense.
Jamilah Taib Murray founded Sakto Corporation, one of Ottawa's foremost property development and management companies. She is a long-time philanthropist with a particular dedication to fostering education for women and children, and female empowerment through promoting participation and leadership skills building
Why don't we let 15-year-olds vote? We educate them about citizenship from the time they are in elementary school. We wail and moan about ever-decreasing voter turnout. But we don't really look at young people as citizens. We think of them as citizens-in-waiting.
This is the week when we are supposed to say thanks and farewell to our teachers. They and our children now get a well-deserved break from each other. With any luck, we will have a chance to reflect on teaching and learning, before it all starts again in the fall.
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Last week, a teenage girl who was suspected of harboring drugs while in her Quebec school was taken by her female principal and vice-principal to a room where she was ordered to remove ALL of her clothing, including her underwear. I am continually struck by the notion entertained by certain people, including rather a lot of school administrators, that young people are not rights-holders.
Our classes often look at cases and circumstances where a decision must be made about what happens to people's bodies, and indeed, to their lives. Do students who do not yet have the right to vote care about such issues? My experience is that they care deeply and passionately. They are profoundly interested in fairness and justice -- and they are waiting for us to listen.
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I heard a story this week about a civics lesson. It did not take place in a high school. It was a lesson both learned and taught by some elderly newcomers who were participants in a civic awareness project. Along with learning to speak English and finding out about the systems and the laws of Canada, these folks are being challenged to engage with their new communities.
We believe it's imperative that we work to identify ways to engage this large, powerful, passionate demographic. After all, there are 9.2 million millennials in Canada -- who in the next 15 years will comprise 75 per cent of the labour force.
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When the shirtless jogger encountered Rob Ford at the Canada Day parade he took the opportunity to do something the media had been forbidden to do the day before: He asked the mayor questions. Like it or not, our elected leaders should expect to be asked hard questions -- and they should be ready to answer those questions, because in a democracy, we expect accountability. And we should be relieved that teachers like Mr. Killoran are demonstrating the courage it takes to stand up and hold politicians accountable.
If parents and teachers want their children to grow up to be fine people and citizens of the world, the kind of people who make a difference, we need to be fearless. We need to engage our children in very difficult conversations. You know what I mean, the conversations we all dread.
Imagine if we celebrated Canada's democratic volunteers in the same way we celebrate our entrepreneurs, sports stars and community leaders? Samara is trying to do just that, by finding and highlighting the work of these people in the Everyday Political Citizen project. After all, politics will only change if citizens show the way.
Many issues will come up when the civic elections happen in October. One important issue that should take a seat front and centre in the campaigns is whether the City cares about public engagement when it comes to new developments that are due to appear right next door to your home.
If the cases of the Stadium Centre and Shawnee-Evergreen developments are of any indication, Calgarians should expect a rude awakening when plans are put in place to reshape communities.
These days Vancouver city hall is twisting itself into pretzels trying to figure out why citizens have stopped engaging with the political process. In my view, Philip Owen was the last mayor to really make a personal effort to get to know the city he led. He wasn't in a bubble created by political aides -- his staff was tiny in comparison to those in office today. Often regarded as a "mayor's mayor," he made himself available to citizens, media, and through a primetime cable TV call-in show.
Given political goings-on it's no wonder people are checking out of the political world and channelling their energies elsewhere. But imagine if, in the same way we celebrate volunteers, we celebrated people who take the time to be political.