Sarnia’s mayor wants more talk about poverty from political party leaders

Posted on August 23, 2015 in Social Security Debates – News/Local/Election –
August 23, 2015.   By Tyler Kula, Sarnia Observer

Sarnia’s mayor says he’s fed up with a federal election campaign that’s ignoring the issue of poverty.

“Normally, in the past, at least one or two of the main parties were always very vocal about equality and inclusion, trying to bring together that gap between those that have and those that don’t,” said Mike Bradley.

“And that’s not happening this election.”

Rather, the major political party leaders are focusing their brands on the middle class, he said, in an election in which many have said the ballot question is on who will be the best steward of the economy.

“I understand the middle-class focus,” Bradley said; “but to the exclusion of those who don’t have the advantages of the middle class?”

One in seven Canadians live in poverty, according to the Statistics Canada 2011 National Household Survey.

Earlier this year, during a Sarnia stop of the Dignity for All campaign for a national poverty strategy, local social justice advocate Thea deGroot noted many in Sarnia are concerned with balancing affordable housing and their grocery bills.

“People are having to choose between stable housing and food,” she said in May. “Food prices have gone up a lot, especially healthy food prices.”

Affordable housing is also an issue, Bradley said.

“There’s a two-year waiting list in this community for social housing,” he said, noting a national housing strategy is needed.

“We don’t have a plan to deal with poverty consistently across the country,” he said.

And poverty is a complicated issue that requires a broad approach, dealing with problem areas like addiction, unemployment, homelessness, education and transportation simultaneously, he said.

“I think now is the time to have those discussions.”

While childcare and child benefit plans in some party platforms focus on the issue of inequality to a degree, the topic of poverty has taken a back seat to talking points about the economy, security and the middle class, Bradley said.

The Conservatives, Liberals and NDP, meanwhile, have all pledged to eliminate child poverty, he said.

“To me, this is what we should be talking about.”

He’s hopeful, he said, that NDP leader Tom Mulcair talks about poverty when he visits Sarnia Tuesday — his second stop here in just over a month.

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One Response to “Sarnia’s mayor wants more talk about poverty from political party leaders”

  1. It is surprising and seemingly illogical that political parties mostly neglected the impoverished. Poverty is an important issue which the federal government must address through social security, food programs, education, housing and other intervention programs. However, apart from the humanistic importance of addressing poverty the political parties are missing a huge opportunity. Imagine for a moment the outcome of the election if the New Democratic Party had not only made promises to the one in seven Canadians living in poverty, as mentioned in the article, but empowered this group to vote. The outcome of the election may have been significantly different. However, this massive electoral force has been left untapped yet again. Reforming the flaws in our electoral system which make it difficult for those living in poverty to vote should now be a priority for the Liberal party. If Justin Trudeau intends on building a genuine base electorate for the next election, which is not formed out of the desire for change, he must address the needs of the geriatric, middle class, youths and just as importantly those in poverty. He must show the country he is serious about improving the quality of life for all citizens not just the middle class, as his rhetoric may suggest. It is vital that he empower all citizens to exercise their right to vote not just for his own gain but for the health and integrity of our democracy.


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