Monday, April 05, 2010

Front Line Issues: Poverty in Canada ... (part two) ...

Lindalee Tracey, in her book "On the Edge" published in 1993 observes:

Governments the world over are bowing to the demands of these huge corporations, relinquishing precious sovereignty and national dreams, ceding control over environmental and social policies. National economies are being streamlines for the convenience and plunder of the transnationals. It's a kind of suicide, the pathetic attempts of an anorexic to achieve beauty by denying herself sustenance.

We're offering our most vulnerable citizens as human sacrifices to global restructuring, institutionalizing Third World poverty within what remains of our borders. Working people are being slapped back a generation, and the poor and unemployed cannot hope to ever move ahead. This isn't the dream my mother fed me on, nor the country she scraped and sacrificed to include me in.

Poverty is getting worse in Canada because there's no political will to stem it, because we insist on our social amnesia, because we're looking out for our own narrow interests. But a nation of poor people is a dangerous and menacing thing - just step outside on the sidewalks and see.

There is no lack of good and workable ideas about sharing fairly in the county's wealth. Many are election promises made and reneged on: a national day-care program, affordable housing initiatives, a real retraining effort, a decent minimum wage, a guaranteed annual income that could loosen welfare's chokehold on 2.5 million Canadians. But if the very notion of social justice is cut out of the national heart, if we perceive our national programs as an obstacle to economic progress (an unfair subsidy, an unfair tax, a financial drain); if the poor continue to be caricatured as parasites, then there is no place to begin again, but at the beginning - in the stinking bog of social Darwinism. Is this our Canada in the 21st Century? Is this the legacy we want to leave for our children?

(One the Edge: journey into the heart of Canada by Lindalee Tracey. Douglas & McIntyre 1993)

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