Members of the Progressive Economists Forum noted with dismay the premature cancellation of Ontario’s basic income pilot and have penned an open letter to Federal Minister Jean-Yves Duclos (Families, Children and Social Development) calling for federal support for the project. So far, the letter has been signed by 50 CanadianContinue reading
Oxford University Press has recently released the second edition of Social Policy in Canada, co-authored by the father-daughter duo of Ernie Lightman and Naomi Lightman. I recommend this book as an excellent resource for students of social policy. It will be useful for classroom instruction, while also being a handyContinue reading
Allan Moscovitch and I have co-authored a blog post that looks at the history of child benefits in Canada. Points made in the blog post include the following: -Child benefits can reduce both poverty and homelessness. -When child benefits began in Canada after World War II, one major motivating factorContinue reading
Over at the web site of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, I’ve written a blog post about Canada’s National Housing Strategy consultations. The link to the blog post is here. Points raised in the blog post include the following: -In Canada, public social spending as a percentage of our GDP is well below the OECD average. […]Continue reading
Over at the Behind the Numbers web site, Allan Moscovitch, David Macdonald and I have a blog post titled “Ten Things to Know About Federal Income Support for Low-Income Seniors in Canada.” The blog post argues—among other things—that if the age of eligibility for Old Age Security were to move from 65 to 67, the […]Continue reading
Anti-democratic investor rights deals are in the news again, thanks partly to a Communications Workers of America & Trade Justice Network event that brought Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz to Canada. Professor Stiglitz pronounced the Trans-Pacific Partnership the “worst trade deal ever”, adding that provisions allowing multi-nationals to sue governments are particularly toxic. Professor […]Continue reading
A version of this originally appeared in rabble. Conservative ads have focused on the NDP’s fiscal and economic record, claiming that the “NDP Can’t Manage Money”. These include another round of staged interviews with people who repeat “the NDP can’t manage money”, “the cost of their plans is huge”, thatContinue reading
The CBC, our national broadcaster, is usually justified on the basis of two fundamentally important services it provides: it serves as stage for Canadian culture and it unites a broad, diverse country. I suggest it serves us in yet another way that is equally important: it is the only nationalContinue reading
The primary objective of Stephen Harper’s absurdly-named Fair Elections Act is to prevent hundreds-of-thousands of Canadians from voting for the NDP, Liberals, Greens, etc.
The Conservatives are, in effect, “cheating” the electoral process again, just as blatantly as in the past. They know that a large number of people – students, marginalized people and First Nations – will have a hard time voting because of the changes. And they know those people would not likely vote Conservative.
Even though the Conservatives are trailing in the polls, it’s much too soon to say they will lose the election. Harper’s gang of strategists and pollsters have masterminded their way to victory three times, overcoming tough odds each time.
But efforts to help people to register to vote are not as strong as they could be. There needs to be close co-operation among groups to make sure that as many people as possible – particularly people in some 70 ridings where the Conservatives are vulnerable – have the identification they need to vote.
|Alexie Stephens is one of Leadnow’s staff members
working to defeat the Conservatives.
The Council of Canadians contends that some 770,000 people may have a difficult time voting because of the changes to the Act. Included are 400,000 people who used the voter ID card in 2011 and believe that’s all they need this time; 250,000 people who will move during the election period; and 120,000 who used vouching in 2011.
Harper ‘scheme’ must be stopped
If many of those 770,000 people are unable to vote, the Conservatives could win a crucial number of closely contested seats. Vote splitting among New Democrats, Liberal and Greens – similar to what occurred in 2011 – could also result in another Harper government.
A second factor could prevent many people from voting. Voting was less complicated when Elections Canada enumerators went door-to-door registering voters and explaining where to vote, a process that was eliminated in 1997. Now voter information is compiled from tax records, which are less reliable.
“ It’s all part of voter suppression, making it as complicated as possible so people will just throw up their hands and stay home,” says Stephanie Sydiaha, a Saskatoon activist working on registering voters.
Public interest organizations are responding to the challenge, hoping to play a leading role in defeating the Conservatives.
Dozens of groups want to “knock off” the Conservatives, including well-staffed NGOs, the Council of Canadians, Leadnow, and Dogwood Initiative; unions UNIFOR, the Public Service Alliance of Canada , the Professional Institute of Public Servants of Canada, the Quebec Federation of Labour and others; First Nations groups in many ridings; and avaaz, the international lobby group.
Some groups are urging people to vote strategically for either the NDP or Liberals in as many as 70 ridings, while others are campaigning for just the NDP.
So far, only a few groups are running campaigns that encourage people to vote.
Fairly similar campaigns
The Council of Canadians and Leadnow’s ‘Vote Together’ are the main groups encouraging people to vote. Their campaigns are quite similar. People who visit their websites are asked to pledge that they will vote. So far, the response has been limited.
Both groups are giving extra attention to young voters. The Council has hired high-profile activist Brigette DePape to run its campaign.
The Council and Leadnow are conducting door-to-door campaigns, talking with people and leaving information on what they need to do to vote. The Council has been working in 10 ridings and Leadnow 13. Both groups say they plan to conduct detailed work in more ridings.
Because the Act makes it more difficult for people to vote, groups should do more than just drop off literature and a voters’ guide.
Excellent project in Saskatoon
Interestingly, one small group is doing a more thorough job. In Saskatoon’s downtown generally low-income core, a group of about 15 volunteers have been trained to take people – many of whom have never voted before – through the entire process to get ready to cast their ballot.
The volunteers, equipped with laptop computers, printers and cell phones, go to locations in the city where people congregate. They show people the Elections Canada website and, if they’re not registered, they help them through the process. They make sure people have the right pieces of identification to make sure they will not be turned away at the polls.
“I started with one church I knew about that has a food market for core neighbour residents,” says Stephanie Sydiaha, who launched the volunteer campaign. “I called the Food Bank, they were very eager, so we go there one afternoon a week.”
“We’ve been going to a soup kitchen that feeds 1,000 people a day – yes, in booming Saskatoon, they feed 1,000 people a day,” says Sydiaha , a long-time activist. “These are people who are not reached by politicians, they don’t have TV, or computers, etc. But they want to vote, believe me.”
This kinds of hands-on facilitation should be used by other groups in many neighbourhoods.
Some 14-million-plus people are expected to want to vote. It’s difficult to say how many will not make it through Harper’s rabbit snare of a voting process. But if a million are stymied, it will have a significant impact on the outcome of the election.
I dread thinking of a situation where, two or three days before the election, the NDP is leading the Conservatives by, say, three points in opinion polls. But come the morning after the election, and Harper ends up with perhaps three more seats than the NDP because of his latest trickery.
Serious need for groups to get involved
There is still time – and a serious need – for more groups, particularly unions, to get involved in voter registration campaigning.
Groups involved in the registration campaign need to co-ordinate their efforts. The Canada Elections Act restricts groups (Third Parties) from colluding to provide more than the legal amount of advertising revenue in support of a candidate, but there’s nothing in the Act preventing groups from working together to help people to vote.
Even at this late date, the creation of a national co-ordinating committee could give the campaign the profile needed to warm people about the changes to the Act. There’s still time to publicize the issue and conduct fundraising through a series of national newspaper ads.
Or, if you’d rather work in your neighbourhood on your own, that’s great too. Post voter information in community centres, churches, and grocery stores.
If the campaign works, it will be one of the main reasons why Canadians will wake up on October 20th to a new government.
The primary objective of Stephen Harper’s new absurdly-named Fair Elections Act is to prevent hundreds-of-thousands of Canadians from voting for the NDP, Liberals, Greens, etc. The Conservatives are, in effect, “cheating” the electoral process again, just as blatantly as in the past. They know that a large number of peopleContinue reading
Here is the link to buy a new book, Canada After Harper, edited by Ed Finn and with an introduction by Ralph Nader, just published by Lorimer. Most Canadians know that Stephen Harper has had a tremendous impact on the country since becoming prime minister in 2006. But few haveContinue reading
Louis-Philippe Rochon Associate Professor, Laurentian University Co-Editor, Review of Keynesian Economics Follow him on Twitter @Lprochon Mr. Harper and the Conservatives never miss an opportunity of reminding Canadians that we should vote for them in October in order to ensure economic prosperity in the future. At the heart ofContinue reading
The Conservatives have started early on their advertising campaign for the upcoming election. We are, for example, being told ad nauseam that Justin Trudeau isn’t ready. With their large war chest, the Conservatives can afford to lay it on thick. But they’re not only relying on their own funds, theyContinue reading
It’s only been a couple of weeks since Disney, that most iconic of American companies, moved to displace all its home grown techies with low-cost foreign temporary workers, But the company had to beat a hasty retreat in the face of an outpouring of criticism. Amid the deluge of commentaryContinue reading
Louis-Philippe Rochon Associate Professor, Laurentian Economics Founding Co-Editor, Review of Keynesian Economics Follow him on Twitter @Lprochon Originally published by CBC. Find commentary here. The federal Liberal Party’s recent election promise to create a new tax bracket for rich Canadians has been quickly decried by – well, richContinue reading
Louis-Philippe Rochon Associate Professor, Laurentian University Co-Editor, Review of Keynesian Economics With the tabling of a new federal budget on April 21, the Conservatives are trying to reinvent themselves as good economic managers, stalwart of sound finance. But after almost nine years in office, the data simply does notContinue reading
THE FEDERAL BUDGET AND CANADA’S ANNUS HORRIBILIS See Original post here for the CBC. Canada’s Finance Minister Joe Oliver announced a new – and long overdue – federal budget for April 21. With the Canadian economy doing so badly, this budget will be crucial. Will the minister do the rightContinue reading
Over at the blog of Northern Public Affairs, I’ve written a post titled “Ten Things to Know About Homelessness in Canada’s North.” Topics covered in the post include the high cost of construction in many parts of the North, the relatively high costs of operating housing in the North, andContinue reading
The Harper government gives five reasons why Canadians ought to be happy with its proposal to double the maximum contribution to the Tax-Free Savings Account. Examine each of its points more closely, however, and it’s clear that the TFSA carries far higher risks than rewards — for individual Canadians asContinue reading
Posted earlier as an opinion piece for CBC. See original post here (this post slightly modified from original) By Louis-Philippe Rochon Follow him on Twitter @Lprochon Much was at stake earlier this week when finance ministers from G20 countries met in Istanbul to discuss Greece and the state of the worldContinue reading