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Week In Politics: Marches Are Planned Across The Nation For Voting Rights – NPR

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Trudeau warns against vote split in tight Canada election

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Brooklin, Ontario (Reuters) -With the Canadian election in a dead heat two days before the Sept. 20 vote, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Conservative rival implored supporters to stay the course and avoid vote splitting that could hand their opponent victory.

Both men campaigned in the same seat-rich Toronto region on Saturday as they tried to fend off voter defections to the left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP) and the populist People’s Party of Canada (PPC), both of which are rising in polls.

The latest Sondage Leger poll conducted for the Journal de Montreal and the National Post newspapers put the Conservatives one percentage point ahead of Trudeau’s Liberals, with 33% over 32%. The NDP was at 19% while the PPC was at 6%.

Trudeau, 49, called an early election, seeking to convert approval for his government’s handling of the pandemic into a parliamentary majority. But he is now scrambling to save his job, with Canadians questioning the need for an early election amid a fourth pandemic wave.

“Despite what the NDP likes to say, the choice is between a Conservative or a Liberal government right now,” Trudeau said in Aurora, Ontario. “And it does make a difference to Canadians whether we have or not a progressive government.”

Trudeau has spent two of the final three days of his campaign in Ontario where polls show the NDP could gain seats, or split the progressive vote.

A tight race could result in another minority government, with the NDP, led by Jagmeet Singh, playing kingmaker. It has also put a focus on turnout, with low turnout historically favouring the Conservatives.

An Ekos poll released on Saturday also showed the main parties neck and neck though the Liberals had an edge at 30.6% compared to 27.7% for the Conservatives. At these levels, neither party appears likely to reach the 170 seats needed for a majority in the 338-seat House of Commons.

With a Liberal minority the most likely result based on polls, Trudeau was asked if this could be his last election. He responded: “There is lots of work still to do, and I’m nowhere near done yet.”

If voters give Trudeau, who was first elected in 2015, a third term, everything they dislike about him “will only get worse,” Conservative leader Erin O’Toole told supporters on Saturday, saying his party was the only option for anyone dissatisfied with the Liberals, in a dig at the PPC.

The PPC, which has channelled anger against mandatory vaccines into surprising support, could draw votes away from the Conservatives in close district races, helping the Liberals eke out a win.

An election that had appeared set to be an easy win for Trudeau, whose Liberals had led comfortably in polls before it was called, has become an unexpected slog due to a lackluster campaign, the reemergence of old scandals, and public anger over its timing.

“I wish it wasn’t happening, to be honest,” said Connie Riordan, a voter in Cambridge, Ontario, who said she had switched to the Conservatives in advance voting from the Liberals.

On Saturday, the Liberals announced they would drop a candidate over a 2019 sexual assault charge that the party said was not disclosed to them. The candidate, a naval reservist running in an open Liberal seat in downtown Toronto, will not be a member of the Liberal caucus, if he is elected, the party said.

Earlier this month, Liberal member of parliament Raj Saini ended his re-election campaign amid allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards female staffers.

O’Toole, 48, campaigned in Saini’s district on Saturday, one of three Liberal ridings he is hoping to swing his way. Earlier, he appeared in a Conservative-held riding west of Toronto that was closely fought during the 2019 election.

The area’s member of Parliament, who is not running again, came under fire last spring for saying COVID-19 lockdowns were the “single greatest breach of our civil liberties since the internment camps during WW2.”

O’Toole, who said he wants to get 90% of Canadians vaccinated, has refused to say who among Conservative Party candidates were.

(Editing by Daniel Wallis and Andrea Ricci)

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5 Reasons It’s Hard For Disabled People To Trust Politics And Activism – Forbes

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Disabled people’s attitudes towards politics and activism are complicated.

Distrust in politics is almost standard among Americans today. Some of that distrust extends to various forms of activism as well –– or to anyone trying to change public policy, or people’s beliefs and behaviors. But what about people with disabilities, who have historically benefitted from the fruits of politics and activism, but also felt let down by them more than once?

Despite the urgency of problems and issues disabled people face, a great many of us remain alienated and suspicious of social and political action. Exploring the reasons why is important if we are to fully understand ourselves, and if others –– especially politicians and policy makers –– are ever to understand us.

It helps to start by recognizing some of the reasons for disabled people to be optimistic about politics and activism today:

  • There was more detailed focus on disability issues by the 2020 Presidential campaigns than ever before. At least ten candidates for President issued specific, multi-point disability plans, nearly all of which included at least some of disabled people’s most cherished priorities.
  • Voter participation by people with disabilities significantly increased in the 2020 Elections. Rutgers University researchers Lisa Schur and Douglas Kruse report that although there is still a participation gap between disabled and non-disabled voters, it shrunk in 2020. Disabled voter turnout was 5.9 points higher than in 2016, and 17.7 million disabled people voted in the 2020 Election overall, a potentially powerful contingent of voters.
  • There is a rare chance right now for passage of major investments in home care through the Better Care Better Jobs Act, and for significant reform and updating of SSI in the SSI Restoration Act. Both are high priority issues for the disability community that are finally being at least taken seriously by a Presidential administration and Congress.

All of these developments suggest that disabled people’s involvement in activism and politics really can work. And they didn’t come out of nowhere, or because politicians are suddenly more compassionate or interested in disability issues for their own sake.

These gains and opportunities exist today because of decades of organized protest, policy activism, and political engagement starting in the early 1970s by movements of disabled people, fighting for ourselves. This movement has won specific victories, like passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, as well as more gradual shifts, like inclusion in schools, deinstitutionalization, and the gradual expansion of home care.

These are impressive gains, won by disabled people’s involvement in activism and politics. But yesterday’s victories can only do so much to persuade most disabled people that fighting for change is time well spent. Many if not most of us remain wary and skeptical about organized activism and electoral politics. Some disabled people are distinctly hostile to them.

Precise reasons are hard to pin down. But there are broad factors worth considering:

1. Politics and activism aren’t accessible.

Despite clear and longstanding mandates, voting accessibility is inconsistent from region to region. Would-be disabled voters still regularly contend with inaccessible polling places, antiquated voting systems, and poorly trained poll workers.

Now, some measures that made voting a good deal more accessible in 2020 are under direct attack in many states. This includes efforts to restrict or eliminate voting by mail and early voting. Meanwhile, countless other petty measures are being passed that make the act of voting more physically restrictive and demanding rather than less. Whether intentionally or not, these measures turn voting into a test of endurance, instead of a civil right.

Political events are often inaccessible too. This includes party and campaign meetings, public forums, campaign rallies, and voter outreach activities. Disabled people who want to participate in politics constantly run into problems with:

  • Wheelchair accessibility
  • Sign Language interpreting
  • Captioning for video content
  • Transcripts for audio content
  • Website accessibility
  • Plan language versions of key documents

Even disability organizations can fail at some of these basic components of accessibility. And there are other, more subtle problems with inclusion in disability culture as well.

Disability activists sometimes put unreasonable physical and emotional demands on each other. Sometimes this happens because of sincere enthusiasm and momentum for a vital cause. Other times it’s part of a vain effort to demonstrate disabled people’s ability to achieve in mainstream social action, without compromise to our impairments. Either way, it’s ironic and wasteful that so many disabled people are allowed to conclude that their own disabilities make it impossible for them to do disability activism.

These practical deterrents don’t just keep disabled people out of politics and activism physically, but discourage us from even trying.

2. Mainstream politics tends to either ignore or misunderstand disability issues and culture.

Until fairly recently, disability issues and disabled voters were virtually invisible in political campaigns. When they were addressed, it was only in the most vague and inconsequential ways. There has always been lots of “support” for our rights, but little in the way of policy that was politically challenging, or likely to make a real difference in our lives. This is beginning to change, but the progress so far is lopsided.

It’s progress that ten Presidential candidates offered substantial disability plans last year, but unfortunate that they were all from one party. Republican Presidential candidates offered no plans or positions on disability policy. And few “lower ballot” candidates of any party bothered to put out disability plans, even though Congress and state legislatures have far more practical impact on disability issues than presidents do.

So despite some recent encouraging signs, “addressing disability issues” still too often means candidates running sentimental ads and photo ops with unnamed kids in wheelchairs –– or addressing the needs of disabled people indirectly and mistaking the concerns and priorities of parents, teachers, and “caregivers” as being the same as those of disabled people themselves. This condescension has done a lot to sour disabled people’s feelings about politics, despite other undeniable gains.

3. The goals are good, but it’s too hard to see or recognize results.

Disability activists and policy developers are often on the right track, and are being honest when they describe the better lives disabled people can have if we all join the push for needed reforms. But in disability activism and politics, satisfaction is usually not just denied or delayed, but also disguised.

Even when change does come, we usually have to wait far too long before seeing the direct, personal results we were promised. And it’s not always obvious that a modest improvement we are experiencing now is a result of intense and committed disability activism that happened five or more years before.

There is also often a strong status quo bias. Some disabled people don’t like their living, working, or financial circumstances, but come to believe that any sort of “change” is more likely to make their lives worse than better, no matter what activists say. This may partly explain some of the backlash, even among some disabled people, against changes like increasing funding of home and community based services, and ending sub-minimum wage.

A lot of disabled people feel burned, not just by those who oppose change, but by the disabled activists who promise it, but rarely seem to deliver. This breeds a very specific and corrosive kind of mistrust –– a mistrust of optimism itself.

4. It’s hard to keep track of what’s happening.

There is usually just too much going in disability activism and politics for most disabled people to keep track or up to date.

The disability community is fragmented. There is no one source of reliable information, no single recognized leader to rally support at key moments. This diversity is a strength. And it can be bad in a different way when a very few disabled people or disability organizations have a monopoly on attention and power. But being this decentralized is also a weakness, especially in situations where coordination and mass dissemination of information is vital.

Internet communications have more recently helped sew some of the various disability communities together. But social media is also making the task harder, because it speeds everything up even more. We have the tools to let millions of disabled people know instantly when calls are needed to pass a bill. But we can rarely count on anyone to put those tools to use in time. And most disabled people have barely even begun to explore disability networks online, much less in their own towns and local organizations.

Disability politics and activism may actually have been easier when there were fewer realistic possibilities for us. More opportunities mean more work. The disability community’s goals may be outpacing its capacity to achieve them. That’s a positive sign for the future. But it’s a real and difficult practical problem for the present.

5. Nearly every victory the disability community wins brings risks.

The Americans with Disabilities Act was a massive moral and legal victory for disabled Americans. It remains one of our proudest accomplishments and the basis for most of our current claims for access, equality and fairness. But almost as soon as it was passed in 1990, efforts were underway not so much to overturn the law, but to make it manageable and blunt its more demanding and significant mandates.

Large companies especially were quick to develop effective strategies to “comply” with the ADA, while avoiding more meaningful improvements for actual disabled people. People complain about disability activists and lawyers using the ADA to make money off seemingly small accessibility violations. But far more consultants and lawyers have been making a living for decades by teaching businesses and employers more how to avoid compliance, or accomplish it superficially and on the cheap.

This isn’t unique to the ADA. Disability policy changes are almost always so complicated that it makes them less effective. Reforms like the ABLE Act have done genuine good for disabled people. But like so many other disability policy bills, in order to pass it was limited, trimmed, and loaded with conditions in ways that leave significant numbers of disabled people out and make even approaching it intimidating. The combination of narrowed eligibility and hard to understand rules make even some of the best disability reforms and programs all but invisible to the people they are meant to help.

Advocacy success breeds other problems, too. Now that we are seeing more disabled people elected and appointed to key government positions, it’s fair to ask how much a numerical increase in high profile “disability representation” really improves things. There’s a danger that truly effective activists can win well-deserved positions in government and politics, only to be constrained by the shackles of government itself, and held back by the politics that helped win them power.

This isn’t even about corruption or “selling out.” The dilemmas disabled leaders and representatives face are real. It takes more than most people can manage to balance a true commitment to disability activism, the obligations of responsible office, and the need for political unity and mutual support within any administration. We want to see disabled people in government where they can do some good. But is that even possible?

Distrust in politics and doubts about the usefulness of disability activism are natural, even healthy feelings for disabled people to have. At best they prompt us to ask uncomfortable but necessary questions. The problem comes when healthy skepticism becomes toxic cynicism. For the disability community to keep moving forward, we have to be wary and aware, but without giving in to pessimism and apathy. If we can manage that, it could even be a lesson to all Americans, with or without disabilities.

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Politics Briefing: O'Toole reaches out to 'angry' voters, urges them not to support smaller parties – The Globe and Mail

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Erin O’Toole appealed to “angry” voters who are supporting smaller parties to instead vote Conservative and block a Liberal re-election, while maintaining his practice of never directly naming Maxime Bernier and his People’s Party of Canada in his public comments.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau was repeating his own late-campaign pitch for strategic voting Friday, specifically naming the Green Party and the NDP and claiming the Liberals have a stronger climate-change platform. The NDP and Greens disagree.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s entire campaign message has largely aimed at pushing back on the strategic voting pitch, by arguing on the campaign trail and through advertising that the Liberals can’t be trusted to deliver on their promises.

Speaking in London, Ont., Mr. O’Toole made several references to angry and tired voters Friday.

“To Canadians who are fearful, angry and feeling let down. Let me say this: I get it,” he said. “We deserve change here, and If people vote for anything other than the Conservative party of Canada for that change, they’re voting for Justin Trudeau.”

Mr. Bernier is a former federal Conservative cabinet minister who finished a narrow second to Andrew Scheer for the party’s 2017 leadership race. Mr. O’Toole finished third. Mr. Bernier then formed the PPC, which failed to win a single seat in 2019 but is polling higher during this campaign. His campaign has focused heavily on opposition to vaccine mandates, but he has also accused Mr. O’Toole of proposing big-spending policies that are not much different from the Liberals.

Mr. O’Toole’s comments Friday suggest the party is concerned that it is bleeding some of its traditional support to the PPC.

Meanwhile Friday, Mr. Trudeau said said one of his Toronto candidates has “paused” his election campaign after past allegations of sexual assault were revealed, but the Liberal Leader would not commit to removing him from the party before Monday’s vote.

The Toronto Star reported on Thursday that Kevin Vuong, who is running for the Liberals in Spadina–Fort York, was charged in 2019 with sexual assault but the charge was dropped later that year. Mr. Vuong told the newspaper the allegations are false and that he “vigorously fought” them. The Globe and Mail has not verified the allegations and has reached out to Mr. Vuong’s campaign team for comment. Mr. Vuong did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Vuong is also facing a $1.5-million lawsuit from a former business associate in a pandemic mask-making business, first reported on by The Globe and Mail.

On a lighter note, Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet was asked about this week’s campaign appearances by former Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien and former Progressive Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney and why he has not appeared with former Bloc leaders. Mr. Blanchet noted that Lucien Bouchard has stayed out of federal politics for a long time and Gilles Duceppe, another long-time Bloc leader, is busy as a TV analyst.

“I must say… I listened to Mr. Chrétien and I listened to Mr. Mulroney, and I said they are so much more interesting than the new ones,” he told reporters Friday. “Maybe I don’t want to compare myself to Mr. Bouchard.”

Hello,

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. Filling in today is Bill Curry. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

CANADA CAUGHT OFF-GUARD BY NEW SECURITY PACT BETWEEN U.S., AUSTRALIA AND BRITAIN: The Canadian government was surprised this week by the announcement of a new security pact between the United States, Britain and Australia, one that excluded Canada and is aimed at confronting China’s growing military and political influence in the Indo-Pacific region, according to senior government officials. Story by The Globe and Mail’s Robert Fife and Steven Chase is here.

CHINESE MAJOR-GENERAL WORKED WITH FIRED SCIENTIST AT CANADA’S TOP INFECTIOUS DISEASE LAB: A high-ranking officer in the People’s Liberation Army, recently lauded by President Xi Jinping for developing a Chinese COVID-19 vaccine, collaborated on Ebola research with one of the scientists who was later fired from Canada’s high-security infectious disease laboratory in Winnipeg. Story by The Globe and Mail’s Robert Fife and Steven Chase is here.

CANADA’S 2021 FEDERAL ELECTION PLATFORM GUIDE: See where the Liberals, Conservatives, NDP, Greens, Bloc and PPC stand on issues of health care, jobs, climate, housing and reconciliation and more. Compiled by The Globe and Mail staff.

PANDEMIC ELECTION PUSHES PARTIES TO PUT MENTAL HEALTH IN SPOTLIGHT: During a year of unprecedented stress, mental-health care is garnering more than its usual share of the political spotlight in the federal election. The three main national parties are variously promising money, tax credits and policy changes aimed at correcting a chronic inequity in the system: too many Canadians waiting too long for help, unless they can pay out of pocket for the treatment they need. A Globe and Mail analysis by Erin Anderssen can be found here.

THROUGH TIKTOK, COMMUNITY VISITS, ACTIVISTS AND CANDIDATES CAMPAIGN TO ENSURE INDIGENOUS VOICES ARE HEARD IN THE COMMONS: AFN National Chief RoseAnne Archibald said she is encouraging First Nations people to vote for the party that offers the best solutions and partnerships to keep the country moving forward on the path to truth and reconciliation. She said Indigenous people and Canadians want reconciliation and healing, particularly after the horrific discovery of unmarked graves at former residential schools. The Globe and Mail story by Willow Fiddler and Ntawnis Piapot is here.

MILLIONS OF CANADIANS RENT, BUT THEY HAVE BEEN LEFT OUT OF FEDERAL CAMPAIGN PROMISES: Renters have largely been left out of federal election campaign promises to make housing more affordable, even though a growing portion of Canada’s population rents and struggles to make their payments, The Globe and Mail’s Rachelle Younglai reports here.

LEADERS

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau held a news conference in Windsor, Ont.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole held a news conference in London, Ont., and is scheduled to hold an evening event in St. Catharines.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh held a morning news conference in Sherbrooke, Que. He is then scheduled to campaign in Nova Scotia, with stops in Sackville and Halifax.

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet held a news conference in Saint-Étienne-des-Grès, Que. His schedule includes campaign stops in Trois-Rivières, Lévis and Quebec City.

Green Party Leader Annamie Paul is scheduled to hold an afternoon news conference in Toronto.

People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier is scheduled to spend Friday through Sunday in Alberta, beginning with a Friday evening rally in Strathmore.

OPINION

Kelly Cryderman (The Globe and Mail) on how all roads in Alberta’s latest COVID crisis lead back to Premier Jason Kenney: “[Mr. Kenney] continues to present the government’s choices as binary – between ‘permanent, unmovable, consistent, hard, lockdown-style policies,’ and throwing everything open. In fact, there is a lot of grey area in between… So, yes. The province’s health care system is on the verge of a full-blown crisis. It shouldn’t be about Jason Kenney. But it still is.”

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail): writes up a guide for voters focused on which party has presented the best plans in areas including climate change, Indigenous issues, fiscal management and housing. “Canada is a pretty lucky country. From this desk, either Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau or Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole could be trusted to provide competent, responsible government. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet have shown the ability to make a minority Parliament work while holding the government to account. A vote for any of them would be a good choice.”

Don Braid (The Calgary Herald) on Jason Kenney’s handling of COVID-19: “There seems to be no situation — not even the impending collapse of the health-care system — that will mute this man’s impulse to deflect… His Wednesday news conference was a litany of denials for the government’s cluelessness about what was happening in Alberta. The Premier did not apologize for lifting COVID-19 measures in July, only for pushing ‘Open for Summer’ too hard and declaring the pandemic to be over.”

Send along your political questions and we will look at getting answers to run in this newsletter. It’s not possible to answer each one personally. Questions and answers will be edited for length and clarity.

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop

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