campaigns to support

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Do you have five extra minutes? Could you help out some good causes? What about an hour? The following are a number of things people could do from their homes. Three out of five are about supporting Ontario campaigns but people can offer support from any far away too. The twitterstorm on my list is being organized by a man in Britian in solidarity with a struggle here in Ontario. And if none of these campaigns appeal, look up the issues for your province and country (and share your recommended campaigns and why they matter in the comment section).

Join the Twitterstorm in support of the Ontario Raise the Rates Campaign – on March 22nd the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty and their allies are going to be taking action around the Ontario Liberal Convention, calling them out for their lack of concern for those living in poverty. OCAP already made it inside the Premier’s fundraising dinner. They aren’t just a social media campaign, they’re an honest to goodness direct action group. They’re doing the hard work. The least the rest of us can do is tweet for them. There are sample tweets on the page linked, so all you have to do is sign up for twitter and click the “tweet” button there.

Help prevent paid plasma donation in Ontario. The union OPSEU is calling for people to Health Minister Deb Matthews and health critics France Gelinas and Christine Elliott to urge them to quickly pass a bill that will ban paid plasma donation. Paid plasma donation will reduce the availability of volunteers for Canada’s blood system.  The commercialization of blood services has other risks too, as we need to keep safety, not profit, the paramount concern.

Take Action for Ombudsman Oversight – this link goes to a group that is working to get the Ombudsman the legal power to investigate situations at universities, children’s aid society, hospitals, etc. I heard about this issue through stories of people in poverty being afraid to access services for fear that their children would be taken away. Ombudsman oversight of CAS won’t solve all problems, but it could provide a means of solving some.

Urge the minister of natural resources not to allow the Northern Gateway pipeline to proceed without first nations consent. Amnesty International is calling for people to sign their petition urging the Canadian government to respect the First Nations and not force the Northern Gateway pipeline through their land. We owe this to the First Nations people. We owe it to our children and grandchildren that we not have a our government force projects through that benefit few while risking tremendous ecological damage. We owe it to ourselves that we work to force our government to treat the First Nation people with respect. Those of us who are descendants of settlers or even more recent must remember that we are all “a treaty people” bound by treaties to share the land (and recognize that we haven’t shared it as much as expropriated it, and we need to stop doing that).

Send an email in support of Canada Post door to door delivery service. Yes, the service doesn’t reach everywhere in Canada. (In my hometown people still have to walk down to the post office for the mail.) But the service does employ a large number of people in reasonable paying jobs, while at the same time providing a valuable service. I know there’s days when the mailman delivering the mail still provides that little bit of excitement and expectation. Community mailboxes suggested are often harder for those with limited mobility to get to (particularily in winter when snow piles up in front of them). And while many of us do our banking and bills online, I’ve met plenty of people who still receive cheques in the mail because service charges for a bank account would cut too deeply into their already limited budget. There are plenty of people who can’t afford a computer and if they have email, use it only at their local libraries or when visiting with family. But speak against it also because Canada Post is a profitable enterprise providing jobs and services, that doesn’t need to be cut.

Of course e-petitions, tweets and emails aren’t much, though they are something. They’re a good first step. So the next easiest thing to do from home is to write letters, and one easy way to do that is to look up the address of the people these campaigns are targeting and send them a snailmail letter. Sometimes I get my kids to draw pictures about whatever I’m writing on in the desperate hope that the pictures will help make the letter stand out for the secretary opening the letters.

Writing letters to the editor is also good. Choose a topic. Read about it. Send it to your local paper. Best though to choose something relevant to your local setting.

Blog about social justice issues. Talk to your friends about them. When candidates come around asking for your support tell them that you care about environmental issues and poverty and whatever other issues you care about. But care about things beyond your own life and make your voice heard on the issues.

I know people are busy with their own lives. I’m a homeschooling mom, I sympathize. But then when I get discouraged I go outside, I meet people panhandling and I sit and talk with them for a little bit. They want to get on with living their lives too and I owe it to myself to do whatever I can to help them. Giving money is good – I’ll do that – but I don’t have enough money to solve their problems and we need to make structural changes to make things better. And then when I think of what structural changes would help them, I think also about other things, and other things, and everything is connected. There is so much we need to do. It’s like a big knot of threads, but it doesn’t need to overwhelm us because we just need to grab one thread and work on pulling it out. One problem at time, till we hit a point where we can’t get further with that one and then grab another thread and keep pulling. We’ve got to be able to wiggle our way to a better world, nudging one thing here and another there, and standing up and making our voices heard and not giving up. We can’t let go. We can’t give up. Change must come.

There’s speculation that there will be another Ontario provincial election coming up, and I’m rather disappointed with the options. Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne seems to have given up on even pretending to be a social justice premier (something she claimed she wanted to be known as) and definately real social justice activists won’t let her claim that title without doing something to earn it. But the NDP seem pretty tame and hopeless with their pitiful proposed increase to minimum wage – making an offering $1 higher than the Liberals offered though not in force till 2016 and still $2 lower than needed to allow a single person earning minimum wage to raise above the poverty level. The Hudak Conservatives seem to be walking slightly back from trying to totally gut unions but at best that puts them on par with the Liberals more subtle union busting. And no party is willing to talk about the serious need to increase social assistance rates.

But even with pitiful choices of political parties, I take hope in the knowledge that there are many, many people out working to change things. There are people who are into social justice for the long-haul, who look beyond just the next election or the next march or campaign and keep working. Please, if you’re not part of the struggle, join in. We need more people working for good.

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