ECOSPECTIVE: Businesses don’t vote – people do!


07/21/2008

Daniel O’Neail
“Twenty-four nations unite with one voice under one flag, Canada’s.”

So, lets just say I am a recently landed immigrant in London from South America. I have difficulty with the language, have no idea about bus routes, or where to shop. I have to find a new job but am unsure if the company I am applying to is fair because I don’t know Canada’s labour laws. My landlord is talking about some other expenses I have to pay to rent an apartment. I am alone and nervously trying to learn the rules and laws of this nation where I am trying to make a fresh start for me and my family. While City Hall can provide me with a little information most of their attention is on bringing industry to London, and one or two new Londoners are not on the radar.

This is where CALA comes in; The Canadian Latin American Association of London is a recent initiative created by a few members of London’s growing Latin American population. President Yolanda Pech-Hernandez, and Vice President Yvette Gutierrez were at Sunfest drawing attention to this rapidly growing ambitious project.

The idea is to have a community and information center here in London, not just for people from one country, but for all Spanish speakers. Somewhere that can provide people with information on healthcare, education, transportation, and laws, presented in their native tongue to prevent miscommunication.

Speaking to a few potential members, I received mixed opinions on this idea. While some thought it was great a few commented that they cannot get along with people from neighbouring countries, oddly enough all those who said this were from different cultures and spending the day together as friends.

Regardless of the nay-saying of a few, this initiative is well on it’s way. Currently there are member families from 24 different nations. The group already provided seminars to the schools and are involved in the local police forces community diversity project, reaching out to the youth of the community and building the lines of communication with the police.

“Twenty-four nations united with one voice under one flag, Canada’s.”

The organization formed in September of last year and has already achieved this much, and hope that by the end of the second year they will have a location for the community center. I wish them all the best in this endeavor to improve the lives of the members of our community.

We need more organizations like this in London and throughout Canada, as they are going to be the real port of entry to Canadian culture. If a company was coming to settle in London, City Hall would be taking the owners out to dinner, showing them the sites, pointing out the best places to build their industry, and offering incentives to settle in London instead of elsewhere. While I understand that this is the nature of government, to stimulate the economy, I wonder how this came about.

When did the needs of industry become more important and better represented than the needs of the people?

Why does every level of government in Canada offer more tax breaks to the industrial giants then to the very people who elected them to office?

Organizations such as CALA are necessary to fill the role ignored by governments – protecting the people, by simply arming them with the knowledge of their rights as members of our community, while government bodies side more often then not with the privateers wanting to rip up environmentally and socially responsible laws as detrimental to progress.

It’s as if the only way to be successful is to destroy, and the moment someone prepossess caps and controls to leash this voracious beast, they are labeled as attempting to ruin our economy.

Does this mean our economy is founded on destruction, instead of production?

It seems producing goods in a responsible manner is bad business. Our government, by its actions in support of this economic model, demonstrates what is fundamentally wrong with our current system.

Businesses don’t vote, people do. People vote to be represented and supported, not for business interests. Any responsible democratic governments first duty is to protect the people, so when Prime Minister Stephen Harper says, “carbon tax is not an environmental policy. It is just a wealth redistribution program disguised as an environmental policy,” and that this plan to shift taxes toward carbon-emitting industries and away from individuals would devastate the Canadian economy, what’s actually being said is they do not want to provide tax relief and better living standards to the voter, as it is not in the best interest of businesses.

The voters need to reclaim what democracy gives them, remind those elected who actually holds the power over who sits in government, and who those elected actually work for.

Until that time, organizations such as CALA will need our support to fill in those gaps our governments have left behind, including education, and human rights.

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