- Dan Gardner rightly notes that we should be encouraging more public advocacy from charities and other groups with useful input to offer into policy debates - not shutting it down as the Cons are doing:
“Many charities have acquired a wealth of knowledge about how government policies affect people’s lives. Charities are well-placed to study, assess, and comment on those government policies. ... It is therefore essential that charities continue to offer their direct knowledge of social issues to public policy debates.”
That’s the government talking. More specifically, that’s the government’s principle policy statement on the involvement of charities in political activities. It came into effect in 2003. It’s still in force.
And who could disagree? We’re not talking about partisan politics, which charities aren’t permitted to get involved in. Here, “political activity” means debates about whether some law or policy should be changed in some way (or retained, if change is being discussed). Charities develop specialized knowledge about the fields they work in and if they get involved they add an informed perspective. Whether I or anyone else agrees with their views, or whether the government ultimately acts on them, does not matter. They enrich the discussion. And that can make public policy better.
(L)leading Conservatives are now using incredibly bellicose language to attack charities involved in what they consider to be inappropriate political activity. Senator Eaton has even suggested that churches — a big part of the charitable sector — have no business getting involved in political activity at all. “I don’t think churches should take political stands,” Senator Eaton said in a recent interview. “I think they should be more about helping people and giving people succour.”
Of course Eaton’s statement is gibberish, since politics can be an effective way to help people. But this isn’t about logic. It’s about sending a message. And the Senator’s message to charities couldn’t be clearer: Shut up and stay away from politics.
You can bet charities are hearing that loud and clear.- Erika Shaker exposes a few of the myths behind the reactionary response to Quebec's tuition and civil liberties protests.
- Paul Dechene points out that a list of Canada's most endangered heritage sites includes Regina's Connaught School.
- No, I don't expect that many respondents were actually hugely familiar with the Cons' move to close the Lake of the Woods Experimental Lakes Area until Forum polled about it. But it still seems noteworthy how many of those polled recognized the problem once they were informed about it.
- Finally, shorter Preston Manning, speaking strictly as a neutral and nonpartisan citizen with no interest whatsoever in shilling for the Cons or the tar sands:
WAAAAH! No fair pricing carbon to take into account the costs of pollution unless we also charge more for hydro! And the sun! And the wind! And energy conservation! And...