By Grahame Stap - Retired Priest
Published: March 2011
Related Topics: Social Justice
In a secular dictionary 'lent' is explained as the past tense of 'lend'. To me it has always seemed that we should do something during Lent rather than giving something up and this year with our emphasis on social justice there is an ideal opportunity for us to do something positive by 'lend'ing our time and energy to something we can actually archive.
There is, before the House of Commons, a private members bill, Bill C-545. It is a bill to eliminate poverty in Canada. Unfortunately private members bills rarely pass and the only way Bill C-545 will pass is if enough Canadians get off our collective apathetic butts and lift the phone to call our M.P to say we support this Bill and want it passed.
There is, however, an even easier way: we can send an email to Tony Martin, MP for Sault Ste Marie. His email address is MartiTo8@parl.gc.ca Tony is the sponsor of Bill C-545 and we can add our names to his petition, which reads as follows:
We, the undersigned residents of Canada, draw attention to the House of the following:
Poverty affects over ten percent of Canadians, and disproportionately affects aboriginal peoples, recent immigrants, people with disabilities, youth and children;
Poverty leads to poor health, such that individuals living in poverty suffer more health problems and have lower life expectancy than those who are not living in poverty;
Poverty and social exclusion constitute obstacles to protecting and respecting human rights, including those guaranteed in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Canadian Human Rights Act;
The effects of poverty and social exclusion impede the economic and social development of society as a whole and threaten its cohesion and progress;
Canada ranks far behind most other developed countries in the extent of poverty among working age adults and among children;
Implementation of poverty reduction plans in several Canadian provinces and other countries has shown poverty can be reduced;
A majority of provincial and territorial governments have adopted poverty reduction strategies, but are limited in the extent they are able to reduce poverty in their jurisdiction without support of the federal government;
Bill C-545 would require the federal government to develop and implement a strategy for poverty elimination in consultation with the provincial, territorial, municipal and Aboriginal governments and with civil society organizations;
We call on Parliament to ensure swift passage of Bill C-545, an Act to Eliminate Poverty in Canada.
We cannot do as Jesus did. We cannot take two fish and five barley loaves and feed five thousand but we can do the next best thing. We can tell our government we will no longer accept poverty in a country that is ranked among the wealthiest in the world. We can, this Lent, be proactive and help those who cannot help themselves. Please take those fingers that so readily send jokes to others and send the message to our government I think Jesus would send 'Poverty in Canada must end!'
This time I hope that it is not just my opinion but also the opinion of us all.