Give us ALL our daily bread

By Michael Lashley

It would seem that provision for our bread and butter is not included in this year’s election budget presented by the Harper government.

It would also seem that provision for same has not yet been included in the parts of the economic program put out so far by the Trudeau Liberals in preparation for the federal contest. Only Thomas Mulcair’s NDP seems to be talking repeatedly about providing for all those in need of the basics of life, which of course includes most of us.

In those most unfortunate circumstances, I rise to protest.

Not only should we be entitled to earn and save enough to pay for the basic necessities of life for ourselves and our families but we should also have a few more modest items added to the basic necessities already listed above. My own suggestion is that our daily bread, jerk chicken, roti and pelau are to be supplemented by such fundamentally important and nutritive elements as our doubles, char siu kai fan and stewed oxtail.

That principled protest of mine is being provoked by federal politicians’ concentrated focus on winning over the “middle-class” voters, clear evidence that at least two of our leading political parties are discriminating against those “classes” to which we belong: the struggling and the impoverished classes.

Justin Trudeau has indicated some support for those struggling to join the ranks of the “middle classes”. He still has time and an obligation to make specific plans for the lower income and lowest income groups, to announce those plans as an integral component of his party’s program and to make an undiluted, public commitment to implementing them.

Such discriminating strategies are the norm. It is argued that they are the logical and necessary result of the first-past-the-post electoral system which is purely a numbers game. It does not matter whether you win over the support of 50% of votes cast. All you need to do is to win more ridings than your nearest rival.

I do not deny the shortcomings of that electoral system but I object to the distasteful political ethics of blatantly neglecting the needs of the majority of voters in a party’s manifesto and campaign strategy.

Any strategy that is so exclusively fighting for the middle-class vote suggests one or the other of three conclusions: either the party in question thinks it cannot win the support of the struggling and impoverished voters and hence it should not “waste” its resources and efforts by attempting to win them over; or, the party in question does not care about the needs of the struggling and impoverished voters; or even that the party in question is so confident it already has the support of the struggling and impoverished voters “in the bag” that it can afford to take them for granted.

On a second thought, do you think that any of our political parties may be motivated by the first two of those conclusions? Whatever the case, all three of those attitudes mean that we do not carry much electoral clout in the minds of some politicians.

So it is important we support all the communities and groups, be they professional, cultural or sectoral  which advocate for the cause of those in need and for the interests of all segments of society to be catered for in the federal budget and in each political party’s federal election campaign.

We applaud the African Canadian Summit which recently launched its Black Voters Campaign and we salute the work of the Canadian Black Caucus which is continuously nurturing the participation of Black youth in our country’s political processes.

We also commend the principle that our society cannot achieve meaningful progress unless we are all involved. A prominent lady recently defined progress as “the ability to work collectively towards mutual social goals, formulating them together as you go.”

Michael Lashley
Michael Lashley