BY CATHERINE SOPLET
In a little over 100 days from now, on the other side of Thanksgiving, Canada’s political trajectory will be set for the balance of the 21st century.
Ontario is the tail and that wags Canada’s 43rd Parliament, as it is holding 121 of 338 seats in the House of Commons. Quebec currently holds 78 seats, with 32 of those held by separatist Bloc Québécois.
Based on the last 100 days in Ontario politics, and higher order government influences nationally and abroad, Peel residents’ future as yet remains an open question. Will Canada’s trajectory after Halloween 2021 be a trick or a treat?
I envision our collective choice to be stirred by values that embody lumbering dinosaur that is throwing its weight around. We must not embrace this image. We must refute and correct it. So much has changed, for most of us, in our daily lives since the 2018 Ontario election and 2019 federal election.
A scant few or us, positioned in the elites, could suffer minor discomforts to contain personal risk of COVID-19 infection in isolation; could maintain and retain income while reducing personal costs that led to increased discretionary bespoke purchases delivered to our door; and aggregate unimaginable household savings.
Will you vote for your non-enfranchised neighbour and their family members in the next federal election? In fairness, you will need to decide soon. Pundits with an eye on the Sep. 25, 2021 date of cessation of federal COVID-19 emergency benefits calculate that a federal election will be called within weeks, in August, for a September vote.
In Canada, federal voter turnout is larger than either provincial or municipal turnout. In June 2018, when Ontario’s population was 14.32 million, there were 9.8 million registered voters. Of these, only 58.04 per cent voted. Of note, Ontario saw the highest voter turnout vote recorded since 1977, when 66 per cent of Ontarians showed up at the polls. In contrast, greater numbers of the 2015 federal vote drew out 68.5 per cent of electors. In 2019, federal voters declined — but matched — the 66 per cent voter turnout of Ontarians at the polls.
At the recent meeting of the Peel Region Poverty Reduction Strategy – Advocacy and Awareness Roundtable, key issues were flagged for advocacy. With sustained, modest investment, the results and impacts will lead to impactful difference to transition those with a lived experience of artificial dead ends and thwarted ambitions.
These key gaps to societal progress encompass: · health equity, for those marginalized populations that have unmet needs under the Canada Health Care Act · digital divide – whereby the trifecta of access to bandwidth, ownership of devices and resources to foster IT literacy are a barrier to access public channels to resolve social issues; · child care – which must be 24-hour, quality, accessible, adaptable and accountable for families · income supports, that ensure persons with disability do not struggle against levels of poverty · housing – which is safe, accessible, affordable and universally designed to accommodate life cycle needs and disability contingencies · non-profit sector – as a driver of culture by which all other small and medium business find an ecosystem in which they can thrive.
Scary times do not predict our individual response. Heroes move to act without hesitation. Let us take up their call to action in defense of their social justice. Halloween precedes All Saints Day, Nov. 1. Perhaps we should aspire to meet that day with a call-to action which moves the needle on social justice — and think about our choices for the next four years and beyond very carefully