I have a lot to be thankful for. Good health, a loving family, a home and a gratifying job. But like many, I often take these blessings for granted. This year, however, is different. Today I am thankful for having shared a cup of coffee with Syrian women refugees in Sawere, a small town in Lebanon's Bekaa valley.
The searing images of three-year-old Alan Kurdi have moved through cyberspace and galvanized reaction around the world. For Canadians, there are layers and hard questions that go further than our basic human response of sorrow. That's because Alan Kurdi's family could and should have been in Canada by now.
When we ask our political leaders to talk about issues affecting women what we're asking for is a conversation about the unseen and largely unacknowledged inequalities that affect girls and women throughout their lives. I have a daughter. Like every Canadian woman, she's growing up in a country where to be female is to be overrepresented in poorly paid part-time work; under-represented at every level of authority and power; and so devalued as a worker that virtually any sector that attracts a female workforce pays less than sectors dominated by males.
The Seventh Summit of the Americas will take place in Panama on April 10-11, 2015 and it is set to be an historic occasion, given Cuba's participation for the first time since the founding summit in 1994. In the 2012 Summit, all Latin American and Caribbean countries voted to give Cuba a seat at the table. The United States and Canada opposed Cuban participation. Although Latin America and the Caribbean have been able to make some headway in reducing economic inequality, it is still the world's most unequal region. Much more will be needed to address extreme inequality than what is contemplated in the Mandates for Action.
A report released today by the University of Victoria's Environmental Law Centre calls for sweeping reform of Canadian charitable law in line with other jurisdictions such as the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and England. Current rules around "political activity" are confusing and create an "intolerable state of uncertainty," the report says.
Oxfam will take on the most powerful and wealthy organizations and individuals in the world. And the voice on this occasion is Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam's international spokesperson, speaking to the global elite as they gather this week in their annual state of the global economy meetings in Davos, Switzerland. And does she ever have a story to tell, backed by research and motivated by a deep sense of social justice. Byanyima will hit those people present with a remarkable and troubling truth: as of next year, over half of the world's wealth will be owned by the top 1 per cent. This is staggering, perhaps even representing the end of the economic order we have known and which sustained the West for decades.
Recently, Canada's Parliament introduced the Extractive Sector Transparency Measures Act, which could have a huge impact on people around the world experiencing the "resource curse." Too often, poor communities have no say in the extraction of resources from their land and receive little information about the scope of these projects, the revenues they generate, their timelines and potential impacts. The Canadian government has an historic opportunity to make a low-cost contribution to fighting corruption and improving the lives of thousands of communities around the world.
I'm angry. You see, as most Americans were waking up this morning, and those in Europe and elsewhere around the world were going about their daily routines, here in Israel -- over one million people were running for cover from a hail of rockets being rained down by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza. Can you imagine if even one rocket was fired on Washington, London, Paris or Moscow? No nation on earth can, or should, tolerate such attacks on its people. I'm angry that there is someone out there who does not know me and has never met me, yet still wants to kill me -- for no other reason than being Israeli. No, I am not angry. I am outraged.
In a report called "Left Behind by the G20?", Oxfam looks how every country treats its poorest. Inequality in Canada rose as fast as India's and nearly as fast as South Africa's. Only four have managed to reduce income inequality since 1990 and they are all emerging powers: Brazil, Korea, Mexico, and Argentina.
Since appeals first went out for donations to the east African famine, relief agencies have reported that approximately $16 million has come in from Canada. The figure for Britain, however, stands at £45 million in public donations. Why? It is our lack of organizational ability to combine our efforts that fails.