Statement on Convoy Protest
February 11, 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
The opportunity to express discontent with government decisions in a non-violent and peaceful manner is part of the democratic process. Ordinary people, though, expect that rights are balanced with responsibilities. Safety and consideration of everyone impacted in engaging in the democratic process must be prioritized. This means that police should respond to the acts of violence, harassment, hate speech and racist actions occurring, including responding to citizen calls and complaints in a balanced approach.
The occupation and blockades that have occurred at the Manitoba Legislature, health facilities, schools, and at the Emerson border are impacting people’s lives, including their employment, health, wellbeing, and sense of safety. We know this group doesn’t represent the views of science or everyday Canadians.
We are concerned with political representatives at municipal, provincial and federal levels creating a false narrative naming the Convoy Protest as equivalent to protests and marches by groups like Black Lives Matter and Idle No More.
Unlike the Protest Convoy, Black Lives Matter, Every Child Matters and Idle No More protests are characterized by:
- Absence of symbols of hate such as swastikas or that promote slavery (U.S. Confederate flags);
- Absence of harassment or threats to personal safety of others;
- Teachings offered and welcome made to people who may disagree or may not fully understand the issue;
- Disruptions are limited to acknowledge that while Indigenous, Charter and all Human Rights issues must be honoured, there are too many who struggle just to get by for a variety of reasons, poverty, mental health, addictions etc…, so potential harm to them must be limited;
- Media coverage is welcomed and dialogue encouraged.
We know that approximately 90% of Canadians have gotten vaccinated and are fulfilling their responsibilities to keep themselves, all of our loved ones, and every one of us safe. The concerns brought by the convoy group do not represent systemic oppression and it is irresponsible and damaging to be making these statements and do not reflect that we have serious concerns to address in Winnipeg and Manitoba, including:
- the highest rates of child and family poverty, 1 in 4 Manitoba children live below the poverty line;
- the number of children in the child welfare system in Manitoba, 90% of whom are Indigenous;
- community members without access to mental health and housing supports;
And sadly the list could just continue.
We are calling for our leaders to provide leadership and bring an immediate end to the occupations and at minimum a public statement that police will respond to acts of violence, harassment, and racism when they occur, including responding to citizen calls and noise complaints in a balanced approach.
Thank you to the 100+ organizations that are signatories to the Police Accountability Coalition Policy Brief and allies.
“We live in a democratic country, and everyone has the right to protest and air their grievances with civility and decorum. We should not be making connections between civil protests like Black Lives Matter, Every Child Matters and Idle No more with hate filled, swastika waving, racist individuals who have no respect for other people’s rights.” Abdikheir Ahmed, PAC Co-chair
“As the police accountability coalition we are calling for police accountability. All citizens of Winnipeg deserve safety and should receive appropriate responses when asking the police to address safety concerns in their neighbourhood.” – Michael Redhead Champagne, PAC Co-chair
“There are almost 89,000 Manitoba children living in poverty. This means that their freedom is limited by their lack of resources and the stigma of being poor. Their parents, who struggle in poverty which is largely created by our systems, are at greater risk of infection by Covid 19 and of hospitalization. These freedom violations dwarf the misguided concept of freedom by the occupiers who demand that their liberty is more important than a democratic government’s actions to protect its citizens, especially the most vulnerable.” Sid Frankel, Campaign 2000MB
“I do worry about the false equivalency messages. Of the many reasons that what is happening at the Leg, the border, Ottawa etc… are out of bounds is because what they are asking for had already been signaled. Here, the provincial government had already said they were looking for a restriction free Spring. A move that was immediately questioned by front-line medical professionals as too soon. The data didn’t support it. Today they have released an accelerated timeline as they continue to announce more deaths. Time will tell but past lifting restrictions too soon has caused a resurgence of Covid hospitalizations and death.” Kate Kehler, Social Planning Council of Winnipeg
We work with newcomer and ethnocultural groups and COVID-19 has taken a disproportionate toll on in terms of their income, education, health and social wellbeing. However the freedom these communities embrace is the one that is centered in people’s health, safety, inclusion and acceptance for all. The public health restrictions are about keeping us all as safe as possible in these very difficult times.” Reuben Garang, Immigration Partnership Winnipeg
“The protests and occupation are promoting dangerous far-Right ideas. For example here in Manitoba a geometric symbol with origins in antisemitism was marked in the snow outside Manitoba’s Legislative Building. Leaders of the protests have documented ties to anti-Islamic and white supremacist causes. We unequivocally condemn such ideas. Freedom gained through the oppression or deprivation of another is unworthy of the name. We stand for positive freedom: striving to make sure everyone has what they need to make a good life. This can only be achieved through democratically elected governments acting in the public interest, constantly pushed by an informed citizenry, and committed building of a fairer and more just society for all.” – Molly McCracken, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – Manitoba
“What we hear is: “We want our lives back, a return to normal, the pandemic over etc…” Who doesn’t? But they seem to want to impose what they deem to be an acceptable level of risk on the rest of us? We do call on the province to address the real harms caused by the necessary public health restrictions such as poverty, mental health and addictions all too prevalent prior to the pandemic and now are so much worse.” David Kron, Cerebral Palsy Association of Manitoba
For more ideas on how to inform the municipal budget, check out these appearances by community experts and leaders at the last EPC on December 10, 2021:
Manitoba: Missed Opportunities, Manitoba Child & Family Poverty Report Card Release, Campaign 2000, December 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 1st, 2021
What We Don’t Change, We Choose
Campaign 2000 is a national coalition that monitors progress and setbacks to end child and family poverty in Canada. It was initially formed to hold the federal government to its 1989 unanimous motion in the House of Commons to end child poverty by the year 2000.
Campaign 2000 Manitoba’s most recent child and family poverty report card Manitoba: Missed Opportunities demonstrates once again that successive Manitoba governments have failed to meaningfully tackle child and family poverty. Manitoba remains the province with the highest rate of child poverty. More than 1 in 4 Manitoba children live in poverty. When speaking of children under the age of 6, it is 1 in 3. Manitoba used to be home to the federal ridings with the 1st, 3rd and 5th highest rates of child poverty but now we have the 1st, 3rd and 4th.
“The saying goes: What we don’t change, we choose. We have continued to either ignore the problem or blame those who are trapped in the systems that are supposed to help them out of poverty but in reality end up keeping them mired in it. We are a rich country. Why do we allow this to continue?” Sid Frankel, Campaign 2000 National Steering Committee
“Each year, campaign 2000 releases a report on poverty in Manitoba and each year the impacts of poverty for First Nations continues to be far worse. There is a direct correlation between what perpetuates inequality amongst First Nations and systemic, institutional, and colonial practises. First Nations are disproportionately over-represented in Child and Family Services, Justice, Health, and homelessness. In an era of reconciliation, we need a committed government to begin putting tangible action into the recommendations that Campaign 2000 identifies. As First Nations, we are willing to collaborate with the government to address these contributing factors of poverty and to finally eliminate poverty for First Nations in Manitoba.” Cora Morgan, First Nations Child and Family Advocate Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
“Fearless R2W serves families involved in child welfare in one of the poorest ridings in Canada, Winnipeg North. We are calling for increased access to quality public services, the ending of selling Manitoba Housing stock, free internet and exemption from CERB/CRB recovery to alleviate child and family poverty, and reduce the over apprehension of children.” Mary Burton, Fearless R2W
“We called the report Missed Opportunities because of the most recent missed opportunity of our provincial government to capitalize on a federal initiative, the 2016 Canada Child Tax Benefit. The government released their poverty strategy in 2017 but did not resource it and even changed the legislation so they would no longer be required to report back on it. The result? Child poverty rose in 2017, 2018 and 2019 which is the most recent data available. And again, we are still talking about pre-pandemic conditions. How do we think these families weathered the pandemic storm? Too many children in Manitoba are missing out on opportunity” Kate Kehler, Social Planning Council of Winnipeg, C2000 MB
“The recent Throne Speech promised to develop innovative approaches to meet the needs of single parents and Indigenous youth. Given that 62% of children living in single parent families live in poverty and Indigenous people living on reserve and off reserve make up 65% and 53% respectively of people living in poverty in this province, and 90% of the kids in Child and Family Services are Indigenous and we know these kids then end up being over-represented in houselessness and jail, any and all investment is long, long overdue. We need a real commitment to providing the necessary supports to keep families together while helping parents fulfill their dreams of better education and/or meaningful employment.” Desiree McIvor, Make Poverty History Manitoba
“As nurses, we see firsthand the results of children and families living in poverty, which includes poor health outcomes. The Manitoba: Missed Opportunities report is aptly named, as we are indeed missing the opportunity to make a meaningful impact on the lives of so many Manitobans, especially our children. We call for action on the part of the Manitoba government, there is simply no more time to waste.” Darlene Jackson, President of the Manitoba Nurses Union
“Teachers know that child poverty has a profound effect on students’ ability to learn—and on their opportunities for educational success. As a society, we need to find the moral compassion and financial commitment to help these children more quickly. Lifting kids and families out of devastating poverty is not a burden, but a privilege.” James Bedford, The Manitoba Teachers’ Society
“One in 7 Manitoba households were food insecure prior to the pandemic, meaning they did not have the financial resources to buy enough food (PROOF Food Insecurity Policy Research) and resulting in significant impacts to their physical and mental health. One in 5 Manitoba children lives in a food insecure household. Rising food prices and lost wages during the pandemic have only made the situation worse. Household food insecurity is not an issue of food, but one of equity, including our collective obligation to provide a high quality of life to everyone in Manitoba. A properly resourced provincial strategy with clear timelines for ending child poverty is key to fulfilling this obligation.” Rob Moquin, Food Matters Manitoba
“If there is anything that needs Manitobans to pull together, it should be to eliminate or reduce poverty among sections of communities and specially among children with newcomer children included. Government leaders have to commit to allocate funding differently to empower families and communities that are often left out in decision making processes. For newcomer children investment in after school programs and culturally sensitive holistic health programs are a few of the practical ways to reduce poverty.” Reuben Garang, Immigration Partnership Winnipeg
“Poverty grinds people down. It makes for an endless set of days that are stressful for parents from the time they wake to the time they go to bed. Newcomer families living in poverty worry about how they are going to pay their bills and also pay for their children’s school supplies. They worry about not having enough money to pay back the transportation loans they were charged by our government, a poverty-entrenching policy that few other governments require. If we alleviated poverty through financial empowerment, a living wage, affordable social housing, and low-cost universal child care, that ideal passage from newcomer to citizen would be so much smoother, and we could achieve the ideal of an inclusive multicultural society that we hold dear.” Shereen Denetto, Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba.
“The report also makes note that Manitoba’s income disparity is growing which makes the province an outlier when compared to others. In Manitoba, those earning less than $25,000 annually saw their income go down while those earning $50,000 to $80,000 saw their after-tax income rise. These are policy choice from this government that must be amended so that those who need the most get more.” Josh Brandon, Social Planning Council of Winnipeg
Office & Communications Administrator
Social Planning Council of Winnipeg