Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

GREY CUP SPECIAL

Posted by strattof on November 21, 2013

The Riders did it! We’re in the Grey Cup!! GO RIDERS!!! As we celebrate the Riders’ big win in Calgary, it might also be a good time to review some of the gains and losses in the fields of peace and social justice.  First, let’s CELEBRATE GAINS.

TOUCHDOWN, SYRIAAgreement to dismantle chemical weapons. After questionable calls for war by the United States, a great block by the British Parliament who refused to go along. Stars of this game: Russia and the United States, who negotiated and resolved differences without war, and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which was awarded the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize for its work. Unfortunately the civil war goes on, continuing to inflict terrible suffering on the people of Syria.

FIRST DOWN, CANADIAN SENIORS Programs reduce poverty. Starring the Canada Pension Plan, with support from OAS and GIS.  While the outcome was in doubt for many years, these programs have dramatically reduced poverty for seniors.  But in recent years there has been a small, worrisome increase in senior poverty that threatens this great gain.

5 YARD GAIN, HOUSING Housing First. The Mayor’s Housing Commission supports a Housing First approach that aims to reduce homelessness in the City. There is $1.5 million per year in federal funding for this program.

NO GAINS

ARMED CONFLICTS: In 2012, there were 26 armed conflicts in 23 countries and none of the conflicts that were ongoing in 2011 ended. The Syrian civil war was the most deadly in 2012.

CHILD POVERTY: Canada has not eliminated child poverty. 14 per cent of Canadian children are in poverty, a rate that is in the bottom third for well-off, industrialized countries.

PUBLIC TRANSIT: No increase in the 2013 Regina Transit budget even with a 9% increase in ridership in 2012. The $600,000 in surplus revenue from ticket sales went back into general revenues. One bus load of passengers takes the equivalent of 40 vehicles off the road, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 15,000 tonnes a year.

LOSSES

CLIMATE: Earlier this year, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere reached 400 parts per million for the first time in human history. The safe threshold for atmospheric CO2 is 350 parts per million. The leading cause of increase in atmospheric CO2 is the burning of fossil fuels. Rising CO2 levels in the earth’s atmosphere are a major cause of climate change. Climate change has dramatically increased the risk of extreme weather events, such as the super typhoon which has wrecked such devastation on the Philippines.

PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS (P3s): The loss of the referendum permits the City of Regina to provide wastewater treatment through a P3. It is a blow to those who support provision of essential services by the City. The provincial government appears intent on pursuing a P3 model for schools. Adoption of this model threatens the quality of schooling in the province.

DEPORTATION OF NIGERIAN STUDENTS: After more than a year in sanctuary, two University of Regina students who mistakenly worked off campus at Walmart were deported from Canada on October 18 2013.  Walmart has not been held accountable.

A SOCIAL JUSTICE COACH’S PLAY CHART FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING

1   A short pass to start a long downfield march: A rent control program for the province, with rent rollbacks for those at low incomes. 

2   Another first down straight ahead: A City of Regina program to provide adequate housing for the homeless and hidden homeless – those couch-surfing, doubling up, living in vehicles, or staying in shelters. A Housing First policy for the city is a good start.

3   A long run almost to the goal line: A provincial and City of Regina program to create affordable rental housing.   

4   Touchdown, game, and Cup winner: A program to create and maintain affordable housing for all Canadians, including those at middle and lower income, as well as seniors, renters, and homeless people. This program needs to be well funded, with an ongoing commitment by the federal, provincial, and municipal governments, as well as the construction and housing industry.

WE ARE THE 13th WOMAN AND MAN

Just as a loud crowd of Rider fans can influence the outcome of a Rider game, so a loud crowd of citizens can help shape or even change government policy. Be the 13th person for housing justice.

Let Prime Minister Stephen Harper know you want the federal government to develop an adequately funded, long-term national affordable housing program involving all levels of government: pm@pm.gc.ca or 613-992-4211.

Let Premier Brad Wall know you want the provincial government to pass rent control legislation: bwall@mla.legassembly.sk.ca or 306-787-9433.

Let Mayor Michael Fougere know you want the City of Regina to require all developers to include truly affordable housing in their plans or pay a fee into an affordable housing account: mfougere@regina.ca or 306-777-7339. 

FUMBLE ALERT, Somerset – Building housing on land between Evraz steel plant and the Co-op refinery could create an unsafe neighbourhood. Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment, and the Co-op are concerned about air quality in the proposed Somerset development.  Access and proximity to a rail line are further problems. Don’t let the City fumble the ball on this one. 

Tell Mayor Fougere and City Council to postpone approval of building plans until a full environmental assessment can be done.  

G  O    R  I  D  E  R  S !

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