And so, a few items of note.
Nothing new there as regular Broadsides readers know. If I had the time, I would add in a lot more starting with the threats to our reproductive choices and the pending elimination of the long-gun registry.
By coincidence, Regina Mom today documented the dollar value of some of the cuts to programs that helped women achieve equal rights and economic parity.
Finally, NDP leader Jack Layton took advantage of the current political climate to issue a news release challenging party leaders to put Canadian women and children first.
Mr. Layton invited Mr. Harper, as well as Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe, to cooperate in 2010 to improve the lives of Canadian women and children. He outlined a series of concrete New Democrat proposals that, if embraced by the other parties, would mean real progress for women and children. Those proposals include:
- Employment Insurance rules that deny eligibility to six in ten women;
- adopting key recommendations of the 2004 Pay Equity Task Force;
- increasing support for women’s groups working to prevent violence;
- launching an inquiry into 520 missing or murdered Aboriginal women;
- launching a federal initiative to ensure every child has daily access to healthy food;
- boosting the Guaranteed Income Supplement to end poverty among seniors (overwhelmingly women).
It's stunning to me that, in this country, in this century, kids and seniors go hungry.
Who was it who said that, if you want to know the true measure of a man, watch how he treats old people, children and animals?
UPPITY WOMAN DATE: Layton had an op-ed in today's National Post.
Canada is among the wealthiest nations in the world, yet 70% of Inuit preschool-age children live in homes where there is not always enough food. There are many mothers in Canada who live in unsafe places, who are going without food, electricity or heat because of persistent, deep poverty. These deprivations have a devastating effect on Canada's very youngest, evidenced by the fact that infant mortality rates in low-income neighbourhoods are almost double those in richer ones.
Mr. Harper acknowledges that the solutions to maternal and child health problems are "not intrinsically expensive." This holds true for Canadian women and children as well: Providing safe drinking water on reserves, addressing the affordable housing crisis, and funding organizations that support women and children are all relatively inexpensive compared to the health and social costs of poverty in Canada, which are estimated at more than $20-billion per year.
To put the full consequences of (Harper's) indifference into perspective, imagine a city the size of Winnipeg full of children: That is the number of our kids who live in poverty in Canada today.
As a country, we have the ability to take decisive action to end this cycle of marginalization, and Mr. Harper has shown that he knows that investing in women and children will get the job done in the developing world. It will be pure hypocrisy if he refuses to make similar investments here at home.