Ola! February 2012
- CPJ co-sponsors Hill forum on poverty
- A Tireless "Crystal Spirit"
- CPJ opportunity: Policy Intern position
- CPJ Goes West
- Budget 2012: Stay Tuned!
- Welcome Patricia!
- Would you like to serve on CPJ’s Board?
- Canadians for Tax Fairness Summit
- CPJ presents free Lenten Bible study: Living Justice and the Psalms
- Web Features
- Prayer for Justice and Compassion
Welcome to this February edition of Ola!, the e-newsletter of Citizens for Public Justice. February has been a busy and fruitful month for CPJ, with two major events successfully organized and many other plans underway. Read on to learn more about these activities and who’s new in our burgeoning CPJ staff!
CPJ co-sponsors Hill forum on poverty
On February 14th, Citizens for Public Justice, along with our partners on the Dignity for All campaign for a poverty-free Canada hosted "What’s Next? How do we Address Poverty in Canada?" on Parliament Hill. Over 130 people – including a significant number of parliamentarians, advocacy groups, CPJ members, and members of the public – attended the public forum, with many more from across the country watching online via our live feed.
The evening featured a panel discussion with representatives from all parties. Participants expressed a strong desire to continue the non-partisan dialogue established at the event and to work together to identify and implement concrete, achievable measures for ending poverty with broad appeal and support. This represents a significant step forward in the fight against poverty for which CPJ is proud to have played a role.
A video of the event is available at www.dignityforall.ca
A Tireless "Crystal Spirit"
On February 17 and 18, CPJ held the memorial and workshop event Hungering for A New Politics: The Life’s Work of Gerald Vandezande. Almost 130 people attended the memorial event on Friday evening at the First Christian Reformed Church of Toronto.
The evening featured a video of Gerald and then testimonials from family members and those who worked closely with him.
Gerald was remembered as Canada’s unassuming prophet, a Christian activist who thought like a prophet but fought like a politician. Seeking reconciliation and a new politics beyond partisan ways, Gerald worked across all party lines.
One highlight of the evening was when Hon. John McKay, MP for Scarborough Guildwood, passed on Liberal leader Bob Rae’s memory of Gerald. In reference to a poem by George Orwell, Rae saw in Gerald’s face an unshakeable "crystal spirit" as he worked tirelessly for public justice and the common good in Canada.
Saturday featured a panel discussion and workshops around some of the issues that were especially important to this tireless crystal spirit. The event truly represented two days in the spirit of Gerald Vandezande and inspired participants to become agents of change.
CPJ opportunity: Policy Intern position
For the last several years, CPJ has been able to offer a keen university graduate the chance to work for a year as a Policy Intern with our seasoned team of researchers and advocates. Located a half-dozen blocks from Parliament Hill, CPJ provides a unique, hands-on opportunity to experience work in the voluntary sector and engage with federal decision-makers. Visit the CPJ website for application details. This position commences September 4, 2012. Applications are due March 18, 2012.
CPJ Goes West
From March 2-8, CPJ’s Joe Gunn and Simon Lewchuk will be in BC to meet with churches, justice networks and CPJ supporters. On March 2-3, Joe and Simon will be running workshops at the "Do Justice, Love Fearlessly" seminar at New Life Christian Reformed Church in Abbotsford. From March 4-6th they will meet with various groups in and around Vancouver. Included in this is a discussion on faith & public life at First CRC in Vancouver. On March 7th they will be in Victoria for a workshop with Faith in Action and KAIROS to introduce church leaders to CPJ’s resource and action guide on poverty, Living Justice. For further information on these or other events, contact Simon.
Budget 2012: Stay Tuned!
While no official date has been announced, the federal budget is expected sometime in mid-March to early April. With plans for up to $8 billion in program cuts across federal departments and concerns over possible reforms to income security measures, this year’s budget promises to give much to consider. Be sure to check the CPJ website shortly after its release for an analysis of the priorities, commitments and vision outlined in the budget.
CPJ is pleased to welcome Patricia Graça as a Socio-Economic Policy Analyst. Patricia, an internationally trained lawyer from Brazil with a Master of Laws degree from Cornell University (United States), will be filling an 8-month maternity leave contract. She has extensive experience in public justice framing of socio-economic policy debates, and a strong sensitivity to gender analysis developed through volunteer work with the Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa. Patricia also has experience working with women in abusive relationships as a Public Defender Intern at the Federal District Court in Brasilia, Brazil, and as a Community Co-Mediator at the Catholic Immigration Centre in Ottawa. We are excited to benefit from her talents and expertise at the CPJ office.
Would you like to serve on CPJ’s Board?
CPJ has a vacancy on the Board in 2012, and we are especially looking for a representative of Quebec or Ontario. The Board usually meets twice a year, and holds teleconferences or committee meetings almost every month.
Nominees need to:
- be a CPJ member;
- be a Christian;
- affirm that they agree with the document entitled, "Public Justice for citizens, governments, and CPJ"; and
- be willing and able to serve well and enthusiastically as a Board Member.
The responsibilities of a Board Member are to:
- oversee the development and implementation of policy;
- approve program areas, new staff positions and hiring criteria;
- select and evaluate the Executive Director;
- approve the annual budget and any major expenditures that may not be included in the annual budget;
- support and participate in fundraising activities, including the annual telethon;
- participate in membership recruitment activities;
- participate in semi-annual two-day meetings and conference calls or email discussions between meetings;
- participate in Board Committees by conference call or email discussions; and,
- be a public face of CPJ in your geographic area, and help organize events in your area.
Within these criteria, the Board will endeavour to add diversity to their membership with respect to location, gender, race, denomination, age, employment, skills, and academic background.
If interested in serving, please contact Joe Gunn.
Canadians for Tax Fairness Summit
Canadians for Tax Fairness is hosting a conference in Ottawa on tax fairness, social needs and public services. The conference is intended to foster support for progressive taxation and dialogue on related issues such as income disparities and underfunding of important public services. It also represents an opportunity to share and learn from experiences of campaigns in other countries. The summit will feature academic experts, elected officials, NGO leaders, and labour leaders among others, and will take place March 29-30. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or click the banner above.
CPJ presents free Lenten Bible study: Living Justice and the Psalms
Is your church interested in how a biblical understanding of poverty and justice issues in Canada can inform efforts for change? Do you wonder what the Psalms have to say about emotional, spiritual, community, or material poverty?
Just in time for Lent and Easter, Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) has released Living Justice and the Psalms, a free 6-week online Bible study based on the Psalms and CPJ’s ecumenical prayer and action guide, Living Justice: A Gospel Response to Poverty.
Designed for churches or individuals, Living Justice and the Psalms, can be used for reflections, a Bible study, small groups, or sermons in preparation for Easter. Each study consists of six main parts: (i) an introduction and opening prayer; (ii) a Bible reading from the Psalms; (iii) a brief reflection; (iv) a devotional reading from Living Justice; (v) discussion questions and suggested activities; and (vi) a closing prayer. Highly engaging, each study encourages reflection, discussion, and action.
More information, including a study overview, facilitator’s guide, and preview of the first study is available on our Living Justice and the Psalms webpage.
Participants will require a copy of the companion resource, Living Justice: A Gospel Response to Poverty (individual and bulk pricing available).
A New Parliament faces the question "What’s Next: How do we Address Poverty in Canada?"
On Tuesday February 14, more than 130 people gathered at the Government Conference Centre in Ottawa for an exciting event organized by CPJ along with Dignity for All campaign co-partner, Canada Without Poverty (CWP), with the aim to renew the national conversation on poverty issues and find a way forward for a poverty-free Canada. Featuring an all-party discussion panel, this event marked a very important step in the fight against poverty, supported by individuals who are passionate and committed to this common goal. Read more…
A case for Employment Insurance reform
Employment Insurance (EI) is an integral part of Canada’s social safety net. But when EI doesn’t work for a majority of the people who need it, the system needs reform. In May 2011, only 42% of unemployed Canadians were eligible for benefits. People who work part-time, hold multiple jobs, work contract to contract, or are self-employed are amongst those excluded. EI eligibility also varies from region, further complicating chances of support. For many, alternatives to EI are insufficient or non-existent. All of this suggests that EI reform is not optional but necessary. Read more…
Looking beyond the numbers
While the details haven’t been released, Canadians have been given hints that Budget 2012 will include $4 billion - $8 billion in program cuts across federal departments and further corporate tax cuts representing some $3 billion a year in lost revenue. More recently, Prime Minister Harper announced that Canada’s retirement income system will be next in a long line of government programs facing reforms. What will be the social implications of such measures? The annual federal budget, soon to be tabled, is one of the most important ways that we as a nation chart out our values. What can we expect from it? What values will it reflect? Now is the time to have your say. Read more…
Have poverty issues been forgotten in Ottawa? Not totally. In the 68 sitting days thus far in the 41st parliament, the word poverty has been mentioned 252 times, an average of 5.19 times a day. Yet Federal involvement in shaping a national strategy to address poverty does not seem to be a priority. The federal government, with its particular policymaking, legislative, taxation and redistributive powers, has an especially critical role in dealing with poverty in Canada. The time for simply talking is over. What next steps are needed to move the anti-poverty agenda forward at the federal level? How can we work together to eliminate poverty? Read more…
Prayer for Justice and Compassion
God of Justice and Compassion,
We ask forgiveness for the widening gulf between rich and poor
the use of money as the measure of all things,
the culture of aggressive self-gratification,
the continuing disparities between women and men,
the alienation of disadvantaged communities.
Forgive us for our assumption of a continually improving
quality of material living,
and our acquiescence in the worship of economic growth,
in a world where resources are limited
and we are already using more than our fair share of some of them.
Forgive us for going along with harmful trends because they are gradual,
and failing to come to grips with the problems of change and complexity.
So fill us with a living faith that we may become lively seeds
of your kingdom,
growth points in your way of love,
instruments of personal and social reconciliation,
vehicles for a new dawn of spiritual and social liberation.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
Alan Litherland. As found in Harvest for the World: A Worship Anthology on Sharing in the Work of Creation, compiled by Geoffrey Duncan. The Pilgrim Press, 2002, pp. 70-71.
For all at CPJ, Melodi Alopaeus. Enjoy winter’s season finale and see you again in March!
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