20.1.06

on special interests

on this third day before the dreaded election, these words remind me of how much is in peril should the you-know-whos emerge victorious. here are excerpts from a "late in the day rant regarding the election" by an amazing woman i've known since way back in sask. you go grrl.

I AM A SPECIAL INTEREST

Seeing as how everyone seems to be into manipulating statistics and percentages, I thought I'd throw my interpretation into the mix. My riddle is to solve who exactly are the Special Interests.

If we mean visible minorities who declare foreign birth or heritage, this would mean more than 18% of the population. Canada is the most polyglot country in the world, this not including the hundreds of distinct tribes and cultures living here prior to British and French invasion, colonization, and theft.

Does Special Interest mean the First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples who in the last census are approximately 4.4% of Canadian citizens? As a First Nation Cree woman, damn right I have a special interest. Truthfully, whichever party is declared the Best Hoodwinker on January 23 makes no difference to me when we are talking historic obligations and sovereign rights as we have been somewhat screwed by whole lot of governments. It's just some party is getting a tad nasty when appealing to "ordinary working families" to kick us all off what is referred to as welfare. As if we as Aboriginal peoples are not ordinary, working or families. Some people see our situation through a social justice/human rights kind of lens and so they will have my vote - call it what you want.

My son, daughter and I have a degenerative muscular disease along with over 16.3% of Canadians who live with a permanent disability. Are we Special Interests? Bear in mind this does not include the short-term disabled or the 12% of Canadians who do not even have a family doctor or 18% of Canadians who report being unable to even access a doctor. But at least right now we don't get forced to pay up-front before receiving basic health care, get turned away or receive a big hulking bill in the mail. I actually cry when I think that someday my children's lives may be diminished or be lost because I cannot afford the more expensive privatized services. Universal health care is the pride of this country and I am proud of this. Does this make me a Special Interest when demanding my country and elected officials ensure this right remains tantamount?

4.7 million Canadians live in poverty with over half of these being children and young people. Tax breaks mean nothing for those people who do not earn an income, cannot afford to file their taxes nor have a stable address. $100 a month will buy 48 disposable baby diapers, a case of formula, a cheap lottery ticket and a small Slurpee. In Ottawa, my family of six pays 50% of our gross income for rent as the waiting list for subsidized housing is 2-3 years. When I work for $7.50 per hour, $6.00 per hour of my wage pays for childcare. We use the food bank now almost monthly instead of twice a year (2005) and receive what should be 5 days worth of food. Bless their hearts at our local branch but moldy whole-grain bread and dented cans of beans should not be what people are donating. Am I a Special Interest person now because I am sick of cooking chili and creating various ways to disguise bruised produce but still need to feed my children with whatever dignity I can muster?

Am I Special Interest because I believe gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgendered and two-spirited people are at least 10% of us (What is 10% of Thirty-Something Million)) and that they better have equal rights?

In civilized countries when a tax reduction is suggested, concerned citizens say - OH MY GOD - what will we have to lose or cut down to pay for this tax cut. Here in Canada we say - yipee- another whole $300 for our tax refund - but where the hell do we put all these plastic margarine tubs and Granny with her Alzheimers?

Am I Special Interest because I do not believe in finding elusive weapons of mass destruction nor that every person of colour is automatically related to Osama bin Laden and therefore let's detain them for three years without cause if we don't torture or shoot them first? Am I Special Interest because I get upset when my communications with like-minded people becomes flagged as anti-American and likely soon to be anti-Canadian?

Don't even get me started on why people shoot each other or use addictive drugs. How prisons are an old cash cow. How safe injection sites and alternative justice plans are a good thing. How reproductive choice is a right. Addressing how many people are dying with AIDS. How we can deal with homophobia and racism. Clean drinking water for all would also be nice.

Or not get me talking about post-secondary education. Providing affordable or accessible education for all our children will take much energy. I truly pray I do not work my fingers to the bone to support a system where my kids aspire to unrealistic goals and spend the rest of their lives as serfs paying back huge student loans which can take decades to repay. The thought of them living in a big non-energy efficient house and with gas-guzzling vehicles and supporting a culture of consumption until there is no more fuel just frightens me. Stop me now, I think I am leaving Special Interest and entering the Average Canadian dream.

I could go on, declaring what I think should be Special Interests and why we are all not "ordinary working families" that owe over $350,000 in suburbia mortgages, working like demons to preserve this lifestyle. Hating non-white people for all their social welfare benefits will not make lives easier.

When you are massively in debt, you will vote for anyone who points the finger to some other cause and gives you a couple of hundred dollars tax credit and RRSP advice. Most ordinary people will take the easy path. But I think you get the point.

Anyway, I think the Special Interest population adds up to a great portion if not all of Canada. Add up the percentages. So what's wrong with that? If the NDP is accused of trying to represent Special Interests, so be it. Who is left after all?

Arlo Yuzicapi Fayant, Cree Mother & Writer

1 Comments:

Anonymous Blue Cross of California said...

Great blog I hope we can work to build a better health care system as we are in a major crisis and health insurance is a major aspect to many.

11:41 p.m.  

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