This election we have seen very little talk or actual debate around most policy issues. We also have seen many issues left on the sidelines. The leaders debates were long on vague attacks and pronouncements about democracy and short on discussions and debates around basic policy issues.
The main issues in this election, from what I can gather from the major parties are: taxes, the economy, seniors, good governance and spending. These very vague categories at the best of times exclude all sorts of perspectives and issues from the table.
Here are a list of issues either completely ignored or not talked about enough.
1)Climate justice and climate change. Canada has no national policy or strategy (of worth) to deal with climate change. The biggest thing Harper has done on this front is to begin to militarize the North to claim sovereign control over shipping and resource extraction when the Arctic becomes more accessible. The other parties have pretty much stayed away from this issue. While the Green Party platform is built around the premise of dealing with climate change, its perspective, using the force of capitalism and development for “good” distorts the debate. There is zero talk about climate justice and the upcoming COP 17 in Durban South Africa. What will Canada do? No major party has laid out a plan nor have they decided a national discussion is necessary.
2) There are hundreds of unsettled and disputed land claims in Canada. The Canadian government has allowed the courts to stall the process of settling land claims by indigenous nations throughout Turtle Island. A 2007 Senate Report found that at the rate that the federal government is negotiating land claims, it will take 90 years to settle land claims. In some cases it was taking 28 years just to get the claims before a court! This is unacceptable. And no party is talking about this.
3) The thousands of missing and murdered women in Canada has been completely ignored. The ending of funding of the Sisters in Spirit program by the Harper government was sickening. We are society that has condoned the disappearance of women, especially indigenous women. We have created a class of disposable people. We need to redress this immediately.
4) Sex work needs to be decriminalized now! There needs to be a national policy that calls for the decriminalization of sex work across the country. Sex workers should also have the rights and privileges of other workers (Access to EI and CPP). This needs to be done in way that promotes decriminalization and not government regulation.
5) The Trans rights bill, which died on the table when the election was called, needs to be passed immediately. Whatever, its shortcomings, the bill is a major gain for trans rights in Canada.
6) I would like to see discussion and debate around the creation of a national dental care program. Healthcare should not stop in your mouth! There is no discussion about this at all.
7) There needs to be more discussion and action surrounding the decriminalization of marijuana! Back in the Martin minority government days this almost happened. But where is this sensible policy now?
8) A clear and workable national childcare program needs to be on the table.
9) Canadian Mining companies and the absolute destruction they wreak on communities from Guatemala to Papua New Guinea. Canadian mining companies have a terrible human rights record. Where is this issue in the election?
10) Canada’s role Haiti. Our leaders love to talk about their love for democracy. Yet when it comes to Haiti that love becomes unabashed hatred. Canada was instrumental in destroying Haitian democracy. There needs to be full release of Canadian documents in regards to Haiti and we need to pay the Haitian government (not NGOs!) not out of a sense of charity but as reparations for our role in the evisceration of Haitian democracy.
11) A discussion on Canadian foreign policy in general would be nice. The bombing of Libya, unquestioning support for Israel and the continued involvement in the Afghan occupation have somehow disappeared as election issues.
12) In the face of unprecedented attacks on labour in America (and in Toronto) we need to talk about more extensive protections for unions and non-union workers.
These are just a few, non-radical, issues not being talked about in this election.