On the other hand, Toronto Star Business Columnist David Olive wrote, “I feel ashamed to be a Canadian today.” Acknowledging Canada’s need to address problems of poverty, growing income inequality and food insecurity, he continued:
No, what shames me is the churlish response of my federal government to the U.N’s honest, good-faith call to action.
…If anything, De Schutter was overly diplomatic about the challenges we face. Three million of us are enduring some measure of deprivation, from dire poverty to struggling to make ends meet. That includes more than 600,000 children.
We not only have a growing gap between rich and poor, but it’s growing faster in Canada than most rich countries. Our middle class hasn’t seen a pay raise in 30 years. Meanwhile, Brazil has been narrowing its income gap, by an average of 1.5 per cent a year, over the past decade.
Doug Cuthland, in a special to The Star Phoenix, wrote:
The Conservative strategy is clear. Have an Inuit politician parrot the party line, thus making the issue internal to aboriginal people. In the House of Commons question period she was answering questions directed toward Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan.
Sadly this is a federal government that would rather fight and turn people against one another than deal with the very important issues of poverty and malnutrition.
Food Security Falls on Volunteer Shoulders
While the federal government struts like the emperor who had no clothes, volunteers around Canada struggle to keep food insecurity from becoming starvation for the thousands of families who turn to food banks, soup kitchens and other non-profit initiatives. Those responses to poverty sprang up in the 1980s as a temporary measure during an economic downturn. Successive governments have seen them as a solution to food insecurity rather than what they are, a stop-gap measure that should be embarrassing to a rich country.
Across Canada, thousands of committed volunteers support organizations like Food Secure Canada, Food Banks Canada and the many local and regional groups working for a just and sustainable food system.
Meanwhile, in Ottawa, the well-fed architects of Canada’s shattered safety net throw barbs at a UN envoy who is only speaking the truth.
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Photo credits: 1,3 and 4 Thinkstock; Photo 2 from Walter Schwabe (@fusedlogic) via Flickr Creative Commons
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