As most, if not all of you know, Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently launched what is expected to be the longest and most expensive election campaign in over a century. Now, if you’re like me (and Mark Critch), you know that most of the Canadian public probably won’t take much of an interest in this election until, you know, it’s actually almost time to vote. Given the ridiculously unnecessary length of this campaign (by Canadian standards), that’s to be expected. After all, only 61% of the electorate exercised their right to vote in the last election, which was only 37 days long (Fun fact: Canadian elections are actually supposed to be 37 days long! When you make an election longer, you get an increase in 1) the budget, and 2) my level of annoyance!). How can we expect the general public to pay close attention to an 11 (that’s right, eleven!) week campaign?
The short answer is we probably can’t, especially if it’s just going to be 11 more weeks of Justin Trudeau themed attack ads (honestly, I’m bored already… #GetSomeNewMaterial2k15).
Regardless, it is important to do your research before an upcoming election, so that’s exactly what I’ve decided to do. For the most part, this means keeping up with what society deems as hot-button issues, but it also means understanding who has (or claims to have, since we are talking about politicians here) your best interests at heart when it comes to your own make-or-break topics.
For me, this means that in addition to focusing on things like missing and murdered Indigenous women, Bill C-51, vaccinations (or lack thereof), etc., etc., I also want to focus on – you guessed it – disability, accessibility, and accommodation!
According to the Canadian Survey on Disability (2012), about 13.7% of Canadians identified themselves as being disabled. Some of you may think that’s a small number, but it equates to roughly 3.8 million people. As disabled people, we’re more likely to live in poverty, experience abuse or sexual assault, and struggle to find and/or keep employment. We’re also less likely to obtain a post-secondary education, have adequate and accessible housing, and receive the healthcare we need (the irony just hits you like a brick, doesn’t it?).
Think about that for a minute.
Personally, when I think about the fact that I, as a disabled woman, am more likely to be abused, impoverished, and homeless because of the fact that I’m disabled, it makes my blood boil, my mind race, and my heart hurt.
Well, now I want you to consider something else: While I am disabled and mentally ill, I’m also white, cisgender, and a member of the middle class. All of those things mean that despite my own experiences as an oppressed person, I am also tremendously privileged, because let’s not forget that intersectionality is important. So, if I’m struggling this much, and if I’m at risk of all those things I just listed… what about disabled people who are also people of colour, or who are trans, etc.?
What the hell are we, as a country, doing to help disabled people from all walks of life? People who are struggling, and facing discrimination (yeah, you heard me), and who need some goddamn help?
The answer: Not a whole heck of a lot, because despite all this, we still don’t have a strong national policy on disability (like the Canadians with Disabilities Act being proposed by Barrier-Free Canada, for example!).
My question(s): WHY THE **** NOT? And WHY aren’t more people talking about it?
If you go online to try and find out what Mulcair, Trudeau, and Harper have to say about disabled people and the struggles we face on the daily, you’ll find very little. Sure, Mulcair talks about healthcare in his platform, Trudeau made a statement on the International Day of People With Disabilities, and Harper… well, Harper defends millions of dollars in lapsed funds for Canadians with disabilities (one of these things is not like the others!). That’s (almost) all well and good, but where’s the serious discussion about the circumstances we’re facing? Where’s the call to action from our federal leaders? Where’s the real commitment to creating a more accessible and inclusive Canada? Where’s the endorsement of the CDA?
If anybody knows, feel free to fill me in, because I would love to vote for someone who gives a shit. If you think your candidate does…
– Stephanie, ECC
P.S. – Regardless of whether or not your politics align with mine, I encourage each and every one of you to do your own research before casting your ballot this October.
Read the party plans and platforms:
(*The BLOC Québécois is, of course, a regional party)
Get to know the party leaders:
- Tom Mulcair (New Democratic Party)
- Justin Trudeau (Liberal Party)
- Elizabeth May (Green Party)
- Gilles Duceppe (BLOC Québécois)
- Stephen Harper (Conservative Party)
Pay close attention to your local MP candidates:
And don’t be afraid to contact the parties! If you’re like me, and you have one issue that you really care about, that you aren’t seeing much of a stance on, reach out to the parties, or to your current MP, and say, “hey, where do y’all stand on this issue?” That’s what I plan to!
If all of that is a little overwhelming (or if you just don’t trust the info on party websites), try taking this quiz to see where you stand and who you side with!
No matter what, vote for the person and/or party you think is best for you, and for Canada. If you don’t have confidence in any person and/or party, please consider spoiling your ballot rather than not voting at all! Every vote matters, and Election 42 is a chance for us to make our voices heard. Don’t miss it.
Thanks for reading, y’all.