A friend of mine alerted me to the fact that Toronto Star columnist and recently-resumed blogger Antonia Zerbisias has issued a challenge to us bloggers to recognize the American “blog for choice day” today, the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. (She also points out that “January 28th marks the 20th anniversary of R. v. Morgenthaler, the Canadian Supreme Court decision, the one that declared it unconstitutional to force a woman to carry a fetus to term.”)
I was reminded of said challenge last night as I joined young Greens for a pub night at the Imperial Pub near Dundas Square. This billboard currently imposes itself directly outside the bar. (Apparently those who oppose a right to choose also pick this time of year to make their case.)
Therefore, since today I’m both a blogger and a candidate in the middle of an election campaign, I’ll quote from the Vision Green chapter on Women’s Equality to let you know that Green MPs (including this one) would “oppose any possible government move to diminish the right of a woman to a safe, legal abortion. We fully support a womanâ€™s right to choose. We will also expand programs in reproductive rights and education to avoid unwanted pregnancies, and expand supports for low-income mothers.”
Now, if you’ve been reading NDP blogs (or possibly been listening to some NDP volunteers at the door), the above might surprise you. Unfortunately, some NDP supporters have taken to spreading a lie about Elizabeth May, saying that she believes the opposite of what’s printed above. You should know that that’s not true, no matter how often Elizabeth’s words are selectively and/or misquoted. (In a 15 minute recorded statement made over a year ago, Elizabeth explained that she doesn’t believe abortion is something to be desired or treated casually, but that she recognizes and affirms the need for women to have access to safe legal abortions. I expect that’s the position of most Canadians. She also said that she herself would never have an abortion, which some “pro-choice” people have criticized her for, apparently without realizing what the word “choice” means.) Anyone concerned about that whole affair should read Elizabeth’s open letter to Judy Rebick.
Or, if you’d rather not rehash past drama, know that I, the Green Party (as the only major national party led by a woman) and Elizabeth May are all firmly committed to advancing women’s equality and rights.
It’s extremely cold out today. Perfect for trying out your new Christmas sweater, eating a bowl of hot noodle soup for lunch, or curling up on a coach in front of whatever your couch is in front of. (So far, I’m two for three. During election campaigns, one does not find much time for one’s couch.)
It’s also a good day to remember that there are still tens of thousands of people in Toronto, including thousands of children, who are either homeless or too close for comfort. In a city and country as wealthy as ours, there’s no excuse for that.
Canadians rightly pride ourselves on our universal health care, and in recent years have considered introducing additional “universals,” including universal child care. It’s time to add universal housing to the list of things that make us proud as a nation.
And we can achieve universal housing throughout Canada. Not only can we afford it, but when full-cost accounting is applied it would cost government even less than the status quo. (As one simple example, one of my campaign volunteers works in a hospital emergency room where homeless people routinely come in complaining of some ailment. After a few hours the hospital staff realize that all the individual wanted was food. That’s a very expensive sandwich.)
There are a number of specific actions that Green MPs would take. In short, the federal government needs to provide more funding for affordable housing, and that funding needs to be used in a more creative and effective way. We don’t need to look far for positive examples. Here in Toronto Centre we have the St. Lawrence area, which Wikipedia calls “the model for the design and planning of new urban communities across North America.” Its successful mixture of market and subsidized housing has been duplicated around the world, yet we haven’t duplicated it in our own city.
Obviously, homelessness is also tightly linked to poverty, and the connections run both ways. Providing housing helps to eliminate poverty by giving individuals a stable base from which to seek employment and build confidence. We must simultaneously use new and realistic solutions to tackle poverty directly with a view to its elimination.
We can’t allow the lack of affordable housing in Toronto and other Canadian cities to continue. It’s time to move forward.
Mark Warner, the ousted Conservative Candidate in Toronto Centre, has warned in a video posted to MySpace that he is “concerned” that the government of Stephen Harper has “a hidden agenda with respect to capital punishment.” Recent actions have indicated that this government no longer opposes the death penalty for Canadian citizens or internationally.
Warner, an international lawyer, explains why he believes that recent actions by the Conservative government are designed to lay the groundwork for a long-term dismantling of the legal arguments against capital punishment in Canada. This is consistent with Harper’s leaked strategy of “incremental Conservatism,” whereby right-wing policies are introduced slowly, with increasing extremism.
The former candidate also points out how much Harper is damaging Canada’s reputation internationally, saying, “this decision has been greeted with outrage by the kind of people who normally applaud the actions of Canada.”
You can watch the full video here.