Pay attention. That is my message to you, Great Canadian Womxn.
Pay attention to politics in Canada. Wait! Don’t scroll past this post yet, I know, politics, but give me a few minutes here to make the argument about why it’s important to pay attention. Are you thinking this now: I do not have time to follow any politics! I have my career and job to focus on. Any spare moments I have need to be spent with my family. It is a challenge to make it from day to day paying my bills and doing all the things I need to do. I have no time for politics! Or maybe you’re thinking this: Politics! All politicians are the same, they are in politics for themselves or for power and they don’t understand me or what my family needs. I do not trust politicians!
Perhaps this comes to mind when you think of politics: Getting news about politics from the media is biased. The media have their own agenda. I don’t trust the media. The way the information is presented is confusing or I don’t understand the terminology or what they’re talking about! I get it. There are lots of reasons why we don’t choose to spend our time following the politics of Ottawa. In an era of a global pandemic that has created profound health and economic consequences here in Canada and exacerbated existing challenges and inequalities in our country, now is the time to start paying attention, to be informed. Here are three reasons why.
One. The policies and programs our federal government implements impact us. There are governmental programs, policies and laws that impact you, me, your family, my family, your neighbours and your community. Some examples include: Employment Insurance, the federal carbon tax, infrastructure projects, trade agreements, citizenship and passports, grants and funding for science and innovation and federal regulations for business and industry. We need to be aware of the impacts, positive or negative, to know how we will benefit or be disadvantaged by public policy. There may be times when a policy has no relevance to you or your family. But it may be something very important to another part of Canada or a group of Canadians that you don’t identify with. It is worthwhile for an understanding of the country as a whole to be aware of what others’ needs are. An awareness of what the government is doing and how it affects Canadians is necessary to be an engaged citizen.
Two. A federal election will come at some point and it is important to vote! Your voice matters. When you go to the polling station to vote, you will want to know who and what you are voting for. One of the ways to be prepared when it comes time to vote is to pay attention to what your MP (Member of Parliament), the Prime Minister, Cabinet and other political party leaders are saying and doing right now. The Liberals, being in a minority government, and with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting every Canadian in some way, it has meant all political parties in the House of Commons have had to work together to pass legislation. The federal government has spent billions of dollars to meet the needs of Canadians, workers, families, seniors, students, business and industry through this unexpected crisis. Canada has a $343 billion deficit for 2020 – 2021 and an accumulated debt of $1.2 trillion. Unemployment as of July was 10.9%. Economic growth has slowed. Systemic inequalities and racism exist in government, institutions and Canadian society. There are a lot of problems to solve and challenges to overcome. You are important to the solutions and to the path forward for Canada. Beginning to learn the facts about what our country is facing and acquainting yourself with who Canada’s political leaders are will prepare you to vote in the next election.
Three. Information is power. With information you have the power to make choices that are best for you and your family. It is a privilege to live in Canada. A democracy that allows each Canadian citizen 18 years and older to have a say in who represents you at the local, provincial and federal levels. As we become aware of the politics of our community and our country, we learn what programs and policies are best serving us and our neighbours. When a program isn’t working and we understand the issues surrounding it we have greater confidence to get involved. We can call our MP and explain the problem we have with the program and share our ideas on how to improve it. We can be involved in the governing of our country!
As a Great Canadian Womxn, I know your personal well-being, your family’s well-being and that of your community is important to you. Where and how we live and raise our families and what opportunities are available to us and our children are critical to our progression and happiness. It is a pivotal time in our history and there are a lot of crucial decisions to be made in the coming years. One of the best things we can do now is to pay attention to the events of Canadian politics and learn about the impacts of public policy on Canadian life. You have the power and your actions today will create the future.