BC FORUM News - From The Advocate, Autumn, 2021
FROM THE PRESIDENT
From crisis to crisis to crisis to an election
By Diane Wood
President, BC FORUM
Some mornings, when I get up and pull the blinds on the windows, it looks like the world is on fire. We’ve been hit with extreme drought and killer heat waves in B.C., across Canada and in many other nations.
At the same time, people in parts of Europe have lost their homes, their livelihood and even their lives to unprecedented floods.
Many scientists are now acknowledging that the climate crisis is forcefully upon us much sooner than they expected.
In several provinces, including B.C., we’ve seen horrifying confirmation that hundreds of children were buried in unmarked graves at former residential schools, as well as evidence of systemic racism and an increase in hate crimes.
All of this, of course, is taking place during a global pandemic that has taken millions of lives and jobs and shows few signs of abating. The faster spreading Delta variant of COVID-19 is causing a large increase in cases in Canada, and in other jurisdictions, a significant increase in hospitalizations and deaths among young people.
Danger and opportunity
My late friend and colleague John Shields used to point out that the Mandarin word for “crisis” can be translated to English as “dangerous opportunity.”
That’s how I think of this election. It is full of dangers. It is also an opportunity to build a more civil society, and to begin to tackle the gaping holes in the social safety net that have been so painfully exposed by the ravages of the pandemic.
On the very first official day of campaigning, the Conservative leader’s biggest issue was government spending and the deficit. Already Erin O’Toole is laying the groundwork for cuts.
Cuts during multiple crises can only deepen the pain, but it’s not surprising O’Toole would take this position. He is a close ally of Premier Jason Kenney who is rewarding Alberta’s nurses for their pandemic heroism by demanding wage cuts. He was also a cabinet minister in the Harper government that unilaterally cut health care funding.
The Liberals deserve full credit for buying lots of vaccines and I’m grateful they did. On other vital issues, I’m less confident. In election after election they have promised child care and Pharmacare and failed to deliver.
Let’s shake up Ottawa
Measures to help Canadians stay afloat during the pandemic were the direct result of the New Democrats’ sustained pressure on a minority government. While Conservatives delayed and denied, and Liberals had to be pushed and pressured to act, Jagmeet Singh and the NDP proved that they’re on the side of ordinary people.
In a comprehensive 115 page document, the New Democrats put their commitments in writing. Affordable and available child care. Lifting seniors out of poverty. Real action on climate change, reconciliation, systemic racism, making super-rich tax avoiders pay their fair share of taxes and much more.
Let’s reject the danger of going backwards and seize the opportunity for real progress for people.