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Advocacy groups publish federal election guides

By Deborah Gyapong
Canadian Catholic News

08/26/2015

OTTAWA (CCN) — With the federal election underway, advocacy groups have published election guides to help voters decide who should get their vote on Oct. 19.

The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP) issued a guide urging members to consider international development, the impact of Canadian policies on the Global South, and climate change when they assess candidates. The document places an emphasis on international Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and on the growing worldwide push — aided by Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical Laudato Si’ — to address “the climate change crisis.”

“Working simultaneously on objectives related to poverty and the environment from a universal perspective is necessary in our current context, where issues of poverty, pandemics and climate change transcend borders,” the documents says, urging members to let political leaders know these issues matter. CCODP says it places a priority on two issues in the upcoming campaign: “ecological justice and international aid.”

The Canadian bishops’ overseas development agency urges Canada to act on greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs); to support an international agreement on curbing GHGs; and to address the international consequences of climate change. CCODP advocates a move away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy. “Such a retreat from the use of fossil fuels requires a profound review of how we produce and consume energy, as well as a shift from our current economic model which is focused solely on growth,” it says.

CCODP also includes a section on “agriculture and food security,” noting “small farmers feed 70 per cent of the world’s population.”

“We must focus on the nurturing and environmental dimensions of agriculture and not only on its commercial aspects if we want to mitigate climate change.” The guide can be downloaded at devp.org.

Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) has issued a 12-page booklet that examines a range of issues from improving democracy, a national anti-poverty program, and “climate justice.” It suggests a series of questions voters can ask candidates on these issues and others such as a national housing program or affordable child care.

“Poverty impacts every part of a person’s life,” CPJ’s guide says. “It makes it difficult for people to live in dignity and to respond to God’s calling in their lives.”

“Today roughly 4.78 million Canadians struggle with poverty,” the CPJ says. “This takes a heavy toll on society through negative health impacts and high economic costs.”

The CPJ document places a major stress on the need for federal action in the area of climate change, describing “creation” as “under threat.”

CPJ warns of species extinction, the disproportionate impact on Canada’s Aboriginal peoples, and “more frequent natural disasters,” as a consequence.

The guide can be ordered or downloaded at cpj.ca.

While CCODP’s and CPJ’s election guides may veer more closely toward elements found in the New Democratic Party or Liberal party platforms, guides from two pro-life groups point more toward the Conservative party.

REAL Women of Canada’s 2015 Federal Election pamphlet provides a nutshell comparison of the three major political parties’ positions on abortion, physician-assisted suicide, child care, family taxation, marijuana, safety — law and order, and unions.

“These issues can either assist or destroy our family life because they deeply affect us on a daily basis, and especially affect the security of our families and the destiny of a nation,” REAL Women says.

“The most basic of our rights is the right to life, the right from which all other rights flow,” REAL Women says, urging voters to choose a pro-life candidate or to use the chart analyzing party policies to pick the candidate or party which is “least hostile to the right to life and to the family and to the common good of society.”

The pamphlet can be accessed at realwomenofcanada.ca

For those interested identifying specific pro-life candidates, Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) has published a list of more than 100 candidates CLC considers electable on its website campaignlifecoalition.com.

“Supportability is based on voting records and information gathered from CLC candidate questionnaires and CLC riding contacts,” says the guide published on the website.

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