Thrown under the campaign bus – The unsung issues of Election 2015

Posted by Miguel Santa Maria & filed under Life, Politics.

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Many critical issues important to Canada were highlighted and strongly emphasized in this 78-Day Election Campaign. From the country’s technical recession to battling ISIS, Canada’s political parties have had no shortage of big topics to persuade your vote.

Yet with all the commotion, this abundance of new topics also unfortunately leads to key issues being swept under the rug. Issues that are not only just as important as the trending ones, but those that have been prevalent throughout society much longer than this year. This aversion is also particularly odd considering that the Niqab became a last-minute hot topic in the election.

With the campaign ending very soon, here are some significant topics that were only slightly touched upon or bypassed entirely in this 78-day campaign.

Aboriginal Communities

There is no doubt that Aboriginal people have dealt with so much pain in this nation’s history. Even today, First Nations communities are in a dire state – from the poor living conditions in reserves, to the ongoing violence against aboriginal women.

Despite these problems, the concerns of these communities were barely brought up by any of the parties throughout the campaign. It is an odd reluctance considering this year’s release of the Truth and Reconciliation report and loud calls for an inquiry on aboriginal murders. It has come to a point where communities have to rely on their own grassroots campaigns to raise awareness.

To the NDP and Liberals’ credit, both Trudeau and Mulcair significantly weighed in recently on the subject. Still, it leaves us wondering why this much light was not shone on Aboriginal rights sooner.

Poverty

For the most part, Canada’s federal parties really love talking about the middle class in this campaign.The Liberal’s campaign platform is sprinkled with the term, and the Conservatives are anything but shy when talking about child benefits. The NDP also tout themselves as leaders of middle-class values in their ads.

Unfortunately, it’s also led to almost everyone below that class line being given a blind eye. From a personal standpoint, I have watched almost every single English debate and barely remember any point where poverty became an important subject. When leaders say that all Canadians deserve “a fair shot at success“, the proper amount of attention to this demographic is needed too.

As the Toronto Star reports, others have noticed this absence and, once again, took it upon themselves to bring more recognition to the problem. They also have some worrisome statistics that emphasize how this issue should not be overlooked.

“Over the past 25 years, incomes for the poorest 10 per cent of city neighbourhoods have gone up by just 2 per cent, while the richest 10 per cent have seen their wealth grow by 80 per cent… Toronto has the second-widest income gap in Canada, and it is growing at twice the national average, up 96 per cent since 1990.”

The Environment

Climate change and the environment are usually hard to avoid in terms of party platforms. This is especially when this nation’s environmental record has been in a slump in recent years. It is also something that not only affects this country, but affects the rest of the world in general.

Apart from being thoroughly discussed in the Maclean’s Leaders Debate, the environment has not gotten much attention in this campaign. According to CBC News, the topic is “reduced to fine print” in terms of campaign mentions.

With the reasonable exception of the environment-heavy Green Party, the subject looks like just another checkbox to tick in the grand scheme of party policy.

Racism

In light of the recent Niqab debate and its effects on the campaign, Canada may not exactly be the accepting country we think of it as. The fact that the Niqab debate has dramatically affected voting intentions itself does not make a good sign at all for diversity tolerance.

There are also these other factors to take into account of: throughout the election, plenty of candidate signs have been vandalized – a good chunk of them with Islamaphobic connotations. Just this year, Maclean’s magazine labeled Winnipeg as the most racist city in Canada. Also, the popular polling group EKOS released a report implying eroding acceptance for visible minorities across the country.

Indeed, some parties claim there should be more action in regards to diversity – be it defending the Niquab, or helping refugees come to Canada. Justin Trudeau has pointed out numerous times on the dangers of fear mongering and its effect on certain identities. However, with attack ad visuals like these, there should be more insight as to why that works in the first place.

There might be a handful of excuses from any of the parties as to why these issues did not get their due in the last three months. Nevertheless, whichever party takes the most seats on October 19th should prepare to take all these into account along with many other ignored topics.

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