Where I Stand

By Julia

Canada's Federal Issues

Canada in 21st century is experiencing both rapid advancement and change. As a relatively prosperous and democratic country, Canada and it citizens entertain many different privileges that are not privy to other nations. However Canada and its government also faces a multitude of issue regarding the needs of many people who call Canada home. These issues range in size and severity yet several affect the nation on a federal level. Three such issues are those regarding international trade, aboriginal affairs, and veteran affairs.
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International Trade

Why Trade is Important

Canada has traditionally been a country that exports a vast amounts of goods. Due to the globalization of the world's economy Canada has been able to expand its number of trading partners over the past few decades. Trade and the policy surrounding it has vast implications for all levels of business and thus the Canadian economy. As the market for even small businesses is becoming more reliant on international consumers, trade is a vital part of Canadian growth. The importance of trade to the Canadian economy is described in this report on Canada's Trade and Investment in 2012, linked below

Issues of Trade

However Canada's trade is lagging behind that of its other developed counterparts. Exportation to the world's fastest developing markets, most notably China and other parts of Asia, is not being properly expanded so as to benefit Canadian businesses. Rather, Canada is relying too heavily upon imports from such country, evidenced for example by the fact that Canada's imports from China is equal to 4 times that of its imports. This has several impacts on Canadians, most widespread of which include less job opportunities due to foreign manufacturing and higher prices for domestic goods which further leads to job loss due to lack competitiveness. Furthermore Canada's lagging trade agreements are limiting many Canadian businesses and having several debilitating effects on Canadians. This includes limiting access to consumer bases and preventing job and growth opportunities in the various sectors that would expand with trade.

Trade Should Be Encouraged

Promoting trade has many positive effects, many of which were noted in the aforementioned link. These include heightened productivity of Canadian businesses, better wages due to greater sales, and a higher variety of products available for consumption. Clearly it is important for the federal government to expand Canada's international trade, both to mitigate reliance on foreign entities and to expand Canadian enterprise. Canada's Minister of International Trade, Ed Fast , should ensure this occurs. This could be encouraged through having greater access to trade promotion services offered by the government such as the Trade Commissioner Service. If small businesses had more access to such federal programs they would be better able to expand globally, strengthening both the Canadian economy and Canada's trade presence. Another avenue for growth could be pursuing more trade agreements with a more progressive attitude. With current trade talks such as the Trans-Pacific partnership occurring , the federal government should endeavor to finalize the deals by proactively dealing with other nations and finding solutions that satisfy all. These deals should be made to benefit the entirety of Canada as much as is realistically possible.

Aboriginal Affairs


Another issue in need of attention on a national level is that of Aboriginal Affairs. As Canada's indigenous people, the Aboriginals of Canada represent a small yet significant faction. About 3.5% of Canada's population is made up of people of Aboriginal heritage. However these people's needs are not being adequately met. As a minority group, their needs which have often been dismissed must be addressed in order to make Canada a land of equal opportunity for all. These needs that the government must help fulfill include combating poor conditions in aboriginal communities such as inadequate federal housing and lack of access to clean water. Water and shelter are two basic rights of humans, and the government should work to ensure that Aboriginals are not discounted from their programs to provide such. Other issues that must be confronted are those regarding the social conditions of these people, most notable regarding education and violence rates. Although Aboriginal education has been reformed in recent years, more most be done to encourage youth to engage in and remain within the school system. Violence, particularly against indigenous women, is an issue that the government must tackle. Aboriginal women have shown to be three times more likely to be a victim to violent crime. This is unacceptable, as the government should ensure that women, especially those susceptible to harm, are safe regardless of their origins.

The following video describes some of the many issues facing the Aboriginal communities of Canada today. It serves to offer a more in depth look at the reality these people face, and why the government must pay greater attention to the well being of all its citizens.

Aboriginal Issues in Canada

Why this Must be Adressed

As Canadian's Aboriginals have equal rights necessities like safety and access to proper living conditions. As people they deserve to have equal opportunities as the rest of Canada. The government should ensure these peoples rights are met and protected on solely on the basis that they are Canadian. Education is one issue that is addressed would be beneficial to many. Education is the first step to increasing employment for Aboriginal peoples. It also allows for the narrowing of the existing income gap between indigenous and non-indigenous people. This would in turn allow them to improve their own standards of living. Improvement in education would aid this minority community in growing, improving, and overall attaining a higher standard of living. With self-reliance would come less of reliance on federal services, something that would positively impact all tax-paying citizens. The issue of the safety of aboriginals, in particular women, is one that must be tackled. The safety of all Canadians should be a priority, regardless of their heritage. The government must ensure that law enforcement bodies should act in order to mitigate violence for the greater good of all people. In general, aboriginal issues must be dealt with in order to ensure Canada is just and democratic nation that ensures the rights of minorities.
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What Could Be Done

Several things must be done in order to ensure that these issues are paid the attention that they deserve. The many concerns mentioned must be dealt with for the benefit of all of Canada. Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt has a duty to the Aboriginals people and the entirety of Canada to make sure that each issue is appropriately handles. In terms of education, greater input by the aboriginal community coupled with federal funding and advisement would do wonders to improve graduation rates and engage aboriginal youth. This would in turn allow them to have equal access to the same opportunities members of other Canadian school boards enjoy. In regards to safety, a proper government probe into the reality of violence against aboriginal peoples is necessary. This would allow an analysis of both the cause and the effects of such violence to occur, which would enable law enforcement agencies to better provide services to protect these minorities. Finally in terms of broader issues such as housing and general poverty, the federal government must pay greater attention to the needs of the Aboriginal population. Rather than focusing on the wants of majorities to hold political sway, the government must fulfill its civic duty and uphold the rights of minorities and ensure their needs are met.

The link below regards violence against aboriginals along with proposed solution and subsequent reactions.

Veteran Affairs

The Importance of Veterans to Canada

Veterans are the men and women who serve in Canada's Armed Forces in order to protect and defend our country and its interest. They are defined by Veteran Affairs Canada as anyone having served in the Canadian Armed Forces who underwent basic training and received an honorable discharge. These people have been involved in a range of conflicts, some dating back to the First and Second World Wars other being as current to the conflict in Iraq and Syria. As Canadian citizens, these people have done a huge service to the country. They have sacrificed their time, personal safety, and in some cases their lives for the sake of a safer nation. The price of Canada's continued freedom and safety has been their continued dedication to military life with all of its trials and hardships. Thus it is necessary that Canada and its government respect and further care for those who have served the country so well.

Issues Concerning Veterans

Veterans sustain many debilitating injuries and losses both mentally and physically when returning from battlefields. The government has thus created measures in order for them to compensated for their service. However this compensation is often not enough for veterans to live comfortably. The most recent law describing these benefits is the New Veterans Charter of 2006. However the benefits outlined in this law equal to less than the laws preceding it. It has led to the removal of the previous lifelong pension and support program, leaving many veterans with a lack of resources. The benefits through this system and the Disability Benefits Program are much harder to access with some veterans waiting 8 months to process the claims necessary for them to receive vital treatment. The government must seek to change this, as many of its soldiers spend excess amounts of time waiting for services such as those offered by operational stress injury clinics. Without this treatment and adequate compensation, veterans are often left to deal with their varied injuries on their own, a difficult task considering the transition from military to civilian life. Thus the veterans must not only have access to compensation and benefits but also receive services that allow them to reacquaint them self with civilian life. This includes finding employment, denoted by the fact that 16% of Toronto's homeless once served in the military. As they have served the country in such a sacrificial manner it is reasonable to assume that the government can aid them in this important aspect of normal life. These issues are all compounded by the fact that the government failed to spend $1 billion of the allotted for funds for veterans despite the many issues cited.

Below are links relating to issues affecting veteran soldiers, namely homelessness and unemployment along with insubstantial benefits.

Addressing the Issues

Veterans have served Canada in the past just as soldiers will continue to do so in the future. Canada's need for defense will not disappear in the foreseeable future and knowing the importance of veterans to Canada as aforementioned, Canada must ensure these men and women can access the benefits they need. Veteran Affairs Minister Erin O'Toole must ensure that the programs instituted by the government are in fact as beneficial as possible to members of the armed forces. This would mean reviewing existing programs and ensuring they run at maximum efficiency in order to avoid longer than necessary wait times for benefits. It would also mean guaranteeing that the $200 million dollars that has just been allotted to Veteran Affairs will be used to create more treatment centers as promised. This department must make certain that funding does not go to waste as seen in the excess $1 billion dollars. This money would be better spent in aiding veterans transitory efforts into civilian life. This would include having the government help reintegrate them into the workforce. It would also include any physical and mental rehabilitation required due to injury or stress.

Works Cited

Aboriginal Issues in Canada. Dir. Ethan Varga. Western University, 21 Jan. 2015. Web. 3 May 2015.

Aboriginal Protest. Digital image. Idle No More. N.p., 2012. Web. 5 May 2015.

Attawapiskat Housing. Digital image. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. N.p., Dec. 2013. Web. 5 May 2015.

Blatchford, Andy. "Canada Losing out Because of Global Trade Stalemate: WTO Director." CTVNews. N.p., 9 Oct. 2014. Web. 05 May 2015.

Canada. Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada. Canada's State of Trade: Trade and Investment Update 2012. N.p., 30 Apr. 2013. Web. 05 May 2015.

Canada. Foreign Affairs and Trade Development. The Trade Commissioner Service. N.p., 22 Apr. 2015. Web. 2 May 2015.

Canada. Foreign Affairs and Trade Development. Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Negotiations. N.p., 1 May 2015. Web. 2 May 2015.

"Canada Lags in Trade with China, Says Emerson." Toronto Star. N.p., 16 Jan. 2007. Web. 3 May 2015.

Canada. Veteran Affairs. Who Is a Veteran? N.p., n.d. Web. 5 May 2015.

Canadian Armed Forces. Digital image. Veteran Affairs Canada. Government of Canada, n.d. Web. 6 May 2015.

Elliot, Josh. "AG Report: Vets Face Long Waits, Complex Process for Benefits Eligibility." CTVNews. N.p., 25 Nov. 2014. Web. 05 May 2015.

Injured Marine. Digital image. Our Wounded Iraq Veterans. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 May 2015.

Galloway, Gloria. "Benefits for Wounded Canadian Veterans Do Not Stack up." The Globe and Mail. N.p., 9 Mar. 2015. Web. 5 May 2015.

Map of Canada. Digital image. Maps of the World. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 May 2015.

Mccue, Harvey. "Aboriginal People: Education." The Canadian Encyclopedia. N.p., 06 June 11. Web. 2 May 2015.

Mckenna, Barrie. "Harper’s Game Risks Losing Billions in Trade from Trans-Pacific Partnership." Globe and Mail. N.p., 5 Mar. 2015. Web. 3 May 2015.

Potvin, Emelie. "Canadian Businesses Need More than Trade Agreements to Succeed Internationally." · Canadian Chamber of Commerce. N.p., 12 May 2014. Web. 05 May 2015.

R.C.M.P. Veterans. Digital image. Veteran Affairs Canada. Government of Canada, n.d. Web. 6 May 2015.

Sawchuk, Joe. "Social Conditions of Aboriginal People." The Canadian Encyclopedia. N.p., 31 Oct. 2011. Web. 2 May 2015.

Shaw, Ron. "Shocking Statistics Spark Calls for Action to Help Homeless Veterans." CTV News. N.p., 6 Aug. 2013. Web. 5 May 2015.

Small Business Collegues. Digital image. Small Businesses Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 May 2015.

Trans-Pacific Partnership. Digital image. Foreign Affairs and Trade Development Canada. Government of Canada, n.d. Web. 6 May 2015.

World War Two and Korean War Veterans. Digital image. Veteran Affairs Canada. Government of Canada, n.d. Web. 6 May 2015.

Worried About Job Loss. Digital image. Help Guide. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 May 2015.