Friday, April 29, 2011

Monday's election: Vote local

This election, I'm voting local - I mean really local, for Winnipeg Centre's Liberal candidate who has worked on social justice issues in this riding for 20 years. Allan Wise arrived in Canada as a refugee from Iran and has lived through poverty and struggle, and always given back. Now I'm giving him my vote on Monday.

Allan is the executive director of the Central Neighbourhoods Development Corporation (CNDC), and teaches politics as a sessional lecturer at the University of Winnipeg.

Unlike Winnipeg Centre’s Conservative and NDP candidates, I have attended the last two all-candidates forums: one at Gordon Bell, the second at Magnus Eliason Recreation Centre. Bev Pitura attended neither, while Pat Martin was absent at Gordon Bell (he attended a fundraiser instead).

I first met Allan on my doorstep where, eloquently and passionately, he explained that he wants to be the voice for the people of this riding in Ottawa. He wants to take his experience with social justice issues and translate them into policies on housing, jobs and youth programs that make a difference on the ground, here at home. He has pledged to hold town hall meetings throughout the year and to listen to us more than he talks at us: “I have two ears and one mouth; this means I should listen more and speak less,” he says.

In my neighbourhood of Wolseley, we represent only 20% of the Winnipeg Centre riding, yet hold the voting power. We show up at the polls, while many, many residents north of Portage and west of Main Street do not.

Before you vote, please consider the record of our incumbent MP and think about everyone in our riding who needs – desperately needs – a strong, locally rooted voice in Ottawa. If this election is truly about change, that change begins with your decision about who to vote for on Monday. It matters to you and to me, and it likely matters even more to the kids who go hungry for lack of food in the fridge at home and who think a short stint in jail is the best way to find a place to sleep. For the single mothers of every race who cannot afford a decent, safe place to live and raise their children. For the immigrants and refugees who are trying to find their way into a new life of meaning and dignity in Winnipeg. The list goes on...

Think before you vote on Monday. Same old, same old is not the best choice this time round.

For more info about Allan Wise, visit him online at .

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The state's role in daily life

As we head into the final stretch of the current federal election, I am horrified by people's apathy. How can you not be interested in participating in the democratic process that brings clean water to your kitchen tap, content into your classrooms, snowplows onto your winter streets, clean camping sites into your provincial and federal parks, qualified doctors into your hospitals, skilled bureaucrats into innumerable positions of power, influence and service within systems that manage everything in Canada from housing to infrastructure to culture to immigration programs.

I feel strongly about voting, feel everyone should live up to their responsibilities as a citizen by voting, and wish that every eligible voter would ask themselves these two questions:

1. "What role do you want the state (government) to play in your life - when you're healthy? when you're sick? when your loved one is in trouble on the other side of the globe?" Do you want the state to have put in place systems that help you, support you, encourage you, rescue you? Or do you want to go it alone, always, because everyone should always be self-sufficient?

2. "Would you feel comfortable if all services in our society were privatized and run for a profit? And I mean everything from schooling to healthcare to utilitities to...the list goes on." Of course, when something is run for a profit the people involved often play third or fourth (never mind just second) fiddle to the bottom line.

I believe that government (the state) has a strong role to play in Canadian society, and MUST play a strong role to keep our country one in which every person has opportunity not only the person who is privileged with brains and money; to keep our country one that is open to immigrants and refugees who not only need our freedoms, but whose skills and contributions WE need; to keep our country one in which we can expect - every day - to have access to clean water, qualified healthcare professionals and educators....the list goes on.

Vote. Vote with your brain and your heart engaged. Do not succumb to voting for the incumbent merely because you recognize their name. Take the time to become educated and informed on the issues.

Even if you don't care about the outcome, I sure do.