Peterborough residents have their eyes on plenty of political issues. Filtering through them, from the niqab debate to the TPP, may prove difficult. I asked Peterborough City Councillors what they thought were significant issues for the region and a few were kind enough to respond to my questions about the upcoming election.
Henry Clarke (Monaghan) provided an extensive list of what, in his view, the federal government needs to address in regards to Peterborough’s interests: “Employment for all those who seek and are capable of holding a job, support for those who cannot do so, leadership and stewardship for the environment, looking past the [present] and looking for the long term welfare of our planet, and care and compassion for those around the world who do not enjoy the quality of life that we as Canadians are so fortunate to possess.”
I appreciate Clarke’s claim here that persons in other countries should be considered by the federal government just as much as Canadians. It is true, comparatively speaking, we are offered many privileges in Peterborough, although, as Clarke also notes, we have our share of problems. More specifically, he feels that better child care, reasonable benefit support, and a national housing policy are key concerns for our region.
Councillor Diane Therrien (Town) stresses the need for affordable housing and a national policy as well. She writes, “The federal government has not properly funded this initiative in years, instead downloading it to the province, [which] then downloads it to the municipality.” With the possible closure of Peterborough’s Brock Street Mission, an issue to be covered in a later Arthur article, housing is of the utmost importance to Peterborough.
Councillor Therrien additionally notes that the elimination of the long-form census has greatly affected municipal politics. The “best and most thorough source of information about our communities” is now unavailable, thus local governments have difficulty accurately addressing the needs of its constituents.
She further writes that Canadian relations with First Nations have been soured by the current administration. “The federal government is the primary signatory to the historic treaties between the crown and First Nations,” she observes, thus better leadership is required as well as a strong commitment “to engage in good faith negotiations […] to address decades old land claims, underfunding of on reserve education, and the national shame of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.”
One way to work on relations with First Nations is through the Arts, Culture, and Heritage sector. At Artsvote 2015 (see “Artsvote 2015” in this issue), MP candidates were asked by an audience member about their commitment to Indigenous arts. Michael Skinner (Conservative) supports the Canada Council for the Arts (CCA) and their efforts in that area. Liberal Candidate Maryam Monsef will follow through with the 94 recommendations put forward by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. The Liberals also support the CBC, a great hub of Indigenous culture.
Toban Leckie (Strength in Democracy) provided an answer that generated applause. New policies on Indigenous culture are needed as well as an overhaul of the current relationship between settlers and Indigenous communities. According to Doug Mason, the Green Party platform includes protection for Indigenous property and intellectual rights. Lastly, Dave Nickle (NDP) observed the importance of including indigenous culture in school curriculums. (At the time of writing this article, October 7, Tom Mulcair is unveiling his commitments to indigenous peoples.)
On this last note, Councillor Clarke recognizes that the present is only significant if it provides for the future. He wants the next government to look ahead, look to the youth, and prepare them for what lies ahead.Clarke echoes the voices of Monsef, Leckie, Nickel, and Mason at Artsvote: whichever party takes the helm of Canadian governance, they will need to “rebuild the position of respect that our country held on the world stage for many years…, [the position that] makes us an open, equitable, and caring society.”