An invitation to “ethnic” Canadians from the Conservative Party to a photo op and suggesting they show up in “ethnic costumes” has signaled that this party believes its hoped-for majority lies with the support of so-called ethnic voters in the federal elections on May 2.
Long before this election campaign, the Conservatives, who have not traditionally been seen as the party of choice for most new Canadians of identifiable ethnicity, have been working hard to change that image. Jason Kenney, the Harper government’s immigration minister, has made it his personal mission to cultivate connections with this country’s immigrant and ethnic communities – mainly Asians and South Asians – in anticipation of just such a day.
This is the sixth day of an already scorching federal election campaign. With a month left to go we wonder how an already disaffected Canadian electorate will fare in the coming days of blistering attacks by the parties as they try to diminish each other in their bid for power.
Leading the attack is Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has made no secret of his contempt for the Opposition. In fact, it was contempt that brought his government down in a vote of non-confidence by the Opposition parties.
Harper’s campaign of vindictiveness and fear is now in full form. Between campaign promises, he doesn’t miss any opportunity to state that if he gets another minority the Liberals and others will form a coalition to seize the government and that is not what Canadians want.
Whether Conservative and undecided voters support the Stephen Harper government in the next federal election will depend on one of two things. Voters will either be willing to overlook the growing list of transgressions because they believe that the Harper Conservatives have benefited them financially and handled the Canadian economy well during a difficult economic recession. Or they will reject the Conservatives because of this government’s blatant disregard or contempt for the rules and traditions of Parliament while the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) takes on an air of autocracy.
A Conservative win or loss will come down to a vote either on economics or principle.
The recent firestorm in the city over the auditor-general’s report on “inappropriate expenditures” at Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) has again brought into focus the urgency of dealing with housing for people living on low incomes.
With a housing stock in constant need of repair and refurbishment, the report by Auditor-General Jeffrey Griffiths showing that tens of thousands of dollars were spent on Christmas parties, boat cruises and restaurant meals by TCHC staff and millions more for contracts given without competitive bidding, the state of social housing in Toronto is in crisis.
Anyone who depends on Toronto’s public transit system to get around this city – for work, medical or social reasons – may feel a sense of relief that the provincial government is getting ready to make the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) an essential service.
Frustration with the declining level of service that has crept into the TTC has proved a strong basis for public support of this move to rehabilitate the service. For the many for whom public transit is the only way, this decision at the provincial level would be reassuring.
The federal government has been shifting the direction of Canada’s immigration numbers, narrowing the range for who can apply, as well as endorsing a negative analysis of people who in desperation risk all to seek refuge in Canada.
Under cover of the current nervousness brought on by the 2009 economic slowdown and tentative recovery, the Harper government seems bent on forging a narrower gate for entry into this country. But is it a good move for Canada?
There is no question that Toronto’s new mayor Rob Ford and his brother Doug, the new councilor for Ward 2, Etobicoke North, are polarizing figures. Therefore it comes as no surprise that people with strongly held views – contrary to theirs – would react strongly to them. Ford ran on a campaign to bring change to City Hall by cutting spending while retaining services. Yet, while a significant number of Torontonians voted for that change, there are many who are concerned, if not angry, at the changes being implemented or proposed.
One of every five persons living in Canada is an immigrant, so it is a positive sign that most people here believe, according to a recent survey by Washington DC-based Transatlantic Trends, that immigrants are integrating well into Canada.
Yet, the 2010 Immigration Public Opinion Survey revealed that 27 per cent of those who responded had a somewhat negative view of immigration as “more of a problem”. Interestingly, that figure shows a small increase in the findings of a similar survey done in 2009, following a year in which the federal government made a point of negatively highlighting refugees (the Tamil refugees arriving by boat in Vancouver, for example) and other migrants.
One of Toronto’s most well known historical sites, the St. Lawrence Market, was once a place where people of African descent were bought and sold. We need not travel to the United States, or the west coast of Africa to walk in the footsteps of ancestors who were held in bondage.
Were this 1811 instead of 2011, if we, as Black people, walked along such places as Front and Dundas Streets, or through Yorkville, we might not have been doing so as free men and women. Think about it.
This February marks Canada’s 15th annual official observation of Black History Month which had its origins in the U.S. in 1926 under the guidance of African American historian and scholar Carter G. Woodson.
Federal election campaigning has begun, although we keep hearing that no one wants an election.
Although he doesn’t openly admit it, Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants one so he can try again for that majority that has so far eluded him; a majority so that he can pursue his own truly conservative agenda.
Harper has done a masterful job of skirting around the opposition to move forward with some of his policies but a majority is his holy grail. However, with four parties sitting in Parliament, another minority government is almost assured.