As Manitobans head to the polls for the April 19 provincial election, I think it is fair to say party politics locally and across Canada are going through major upheaval. At the federal level, both Conservative and NDP parties are in search of new leadership where, in either case, no heir apparent is obvious. Here in Manitoba, at the provincial level, both the NDP and Liberal leaders participated in questionable tactics thereby representing themselves unfavourably in the media.
As a concerned citizen who has taken my vote seriously and never failed to cast a ballot, I am at a loss as to how to vote on the 19th. Should I base my decision on the leadership or the principles espoused by a party? Can a party reach its potential under divided and/or weakened leadership? Do I set aside my mistrust in party leadership and vote for the issues of importance to me hoping the leader will follow through? Do I vote for the party that will do the least harm?
These are complex questions, but they still require answering. As I seek answers, I am drawn to referencing my values when considering these three primary issues—human poverty, world peace and planet degradation. Unfortunately, world peace does not appear to be on this province’s political table. However, “greening the economy” — a reframe and potential solution for climate change — has recently starred in global (the Paris Agreement), federal and local political arenas. And with great interest, I note that poverty strategies have been tried and tested for decades.
In 1973, Manitoba’s NDP Premier Ed Schreyer and Canada’s Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau signed a cost-sharing agreement (25%-75% respectively), which funded a basic annual income for everyone in Dauphin, Manitoba. For five years, poverty was completely eliminated in that community. In response to naysayers who thought the “Mincome” recipients would lose motivation to ever work again, “They didn’t” as commented on by still-surviving participants of that era. Furthermore, 2011 research conducted by Dr. Evelyn Forget on the innovative program found reduced hospitalization rates — mental health diagnoses, accidents, injuries — for those recipients.
By giving a community’s poorest residents enough to lift their incomes
above the poverty line, there was a measurable impact on the health care
system. It’s this kind of logic that Forget hopes will propel the idea of basic
income forward, four decades later. Zi-Ann Lum, Huffington Post
Of course, the NDP and Liberals are not the only parties with a historical interest in a universal basic income. Progressive Conservative Robert Stanfield argued for a basic income for Canadians in 1969 as a means of consolidating security programs and reducing bureaucracy. In addition, former Conservative Senator Hugh Segal has long favoured such an initiative stating “it’s an abomination that we wouldn’t discuss it when we have close to 10 per cent of the [Canadian] population living beneath the poverty line.” Finally, the current Manitoba Green Party led by James Beddome promises to halve poverty rates by implementing a guaranteed annual income.
Given that every political party in the province and country considered a basic income for residents could solve the issue of poverty, one has to wonder what it would take for a revival. Maybe a radical vote in that direction?
What direction are your values leaning you toward?
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