It’s official: Canada is going back to the polls on May 2, 2011. While some of us are a bit election fatigued from having elections in 2004, 2006, and 2008, they’re some of the few times we get a chance to ask our potential future Members of Parliament where they stand on issues important to us.
It’s not all that difficult. You can phone your local candidates’ office and ask when local all-candidates’ meetings are happening. Lots of them will let you ask questions there. Or you can email or call your candidates to get their positions.
The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada has suggested some good questions on reproductive rights and it made me think about other questions I think Canadian feminists should be asking, keeping a broad definition of “feminist issue”. Because many issues are feminist issues, I’m going to break this up into a few posts, in no particular order. This post will cover reproductive rights, childcare, LGBT rights, and Aboriginal justice.
Other issues that’ll be covered later include health, education, economy, democracy/ethics, environment, public safety, housing/poverty, immigration, defence/trade/foreign aid, and food justice. If I’ve left any out, let me know. And I’d love to hear your suggestions for questions, so if you have ideas on any issue, please post them in the comments below!
Reproductive Rights (questions from the ARCC, slightly modified for length)
1. The Conservative government has been dismantling frameworks for women’s equality and cutting programs that vulnerable women need. They closed most regional Status of Women offices and barred funding for groups advocating women’s equality. They cancelled universal childcare, pay equity, and the Court Challenges program. If elected, will your government restore the various programs that have been cut under Harper?
2. The Conservative government is no longer enforcing the Canada Health Act against provinces that violate it. In particular, the NB government’s refusal to fund the Morgentaler clinic violates the Act and the Supreme Court Morgentaler decision from 1988. This is a serious violation of women’s rights that has been ongoing for over 20 years. During the last Liberal government, the Health Minister was coordinating an arbitration process to resolve the issue, but the Conservatives dropped the issue and refuse to take any action. If elected, will your government promise to enforce the Canada Health Act and hold the NB government accountable?
1. The former Liberal government brought in a national child care program just before being defeated in the 2005 election, after promising such a program since 1993. The Conservatives scrapped the program, preferring tax benefits that favour wealthier families. Groups like the YWCA are calling for a national child care program, noting the benefits it would have for the economy and women’s equality. What is your party’s position on creating a national child care program? If you support a national strategy, what are your targets for creating new spaces and how will you ensure it’s accessible to the families who need the support most?
1. Just before the election, retiring NDP MP Bill Siksay passed a Private Member’s Bill, C-389, guaranteeing legal protection against discrimination for trans people. Due to the election, his bill has died before being passed by the Senate. If elected, will you support this bill if it is re-introduced?
2. If elected, will you commit to preserving same-sex marriage rights?
1. The Conservative government have created funding challenges for the Native Women’s Association of Canada’s Sisters in Spirit program, which has raised awareness of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and helped combat violence through vigils and a missing women database project. How will you and your party work to ensure continued funding for crucial programs like Sisters in Spirit?
2. In 2010, the Canadian government endorsed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Fully implementing the declaration would mean taking steps to ensure Indigenous rights, including right to health, territory, and self-determination. If elected, what steps will you and your party take to ensure Indigenous rights in Canada?
3. Underfunding for child welfare for on-reserve children has resulted in a two-tier system where on-reserve Aboriginal children get fewer child welfare services than those living off-reserve. The Auditor General has confirmed that federal funding for on-reserve child welfare is inadequate and organizations are calling for efforts to ensure that services become more culturally-appropriate. Will you commit to working to ensure culturally-based, fully-funded child welfare programs for on-reserve Indigenous children?
Got other questions you’re thinking about asking your candidates? Suggest them below!