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Mary Walsh is right

With a horned Viking hat, fake metal armour and scads of improv confrontation, actor/comedian Mary Walsh has challenged and discomfited some of Canada’s top politicians. Beyond her satirical Viking role as Marg Delahunty on CBC Television’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes (a show that Walsh created), she recently lashed out at the federal government for its indifference to child poverty.


If senior government had made the same financial commitment to abolish child poverty as it did to Olympic athletes, Canada would be a far different country, Walsh told the March 8 annual general meeting of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation at the Hyatt Hotel in Vancouver.


“We got the most gold ever won by a host country and they say that cost about $4.2 million per medal,” the keynote speaker said of Canada’s 14-gold-medal achievement. Walsh charged the federal government with failing to fulfill its commitment made decades ago to eliminate child poverty by 2000.


“If they had thrown money at that then, I think we could be looking at a different country today,” she said.


For the past six years, British Columbia has had the highest child poverty rate in Canada, with a shocking rate of 18.8 per cent in 2007, the last available annual measurement. Pitted against the $58.8 million spent to earn Canada’s gold medals, what does this say about our national priorities?!

March 14, 2010 at 6:33 pm
1 comment »
  • March 26, 2010 at 10:13 amFrank McElroy

    Yes, she is surely correct. Poverty in Canada and the US is beyond description, and particularly in the country that declares itself incorrectly as the most powerful, the richest and the most free, it is simply unacceptable. The Olympics is the most regular reminder that the world’s people live on earth together, in joy and most often misery. Look around and beyond Canada and the US and you see poverty and oppression which makes the desperately sad circumstances of so many here look like a happy cake walk. The money spent for the Olympics would only begin to address the issues of poverty in Canada, and it would take 10 times more to do the same in the US. But the Olympic cost is an effective foundation for the debate – what do we really care about? Eliminating the Olympics would not solve a single problem, but the Olympics as a basis for discussing the issue of national focus and caring is an opportunity which must not be lost. I’m an American but come from a distinctly Canadian family and perspective – I believe that Canada (more than any other major powers) can be more compassionate, caring and enabling, but Canada (moreso it people) starts very high, most of the world far behind. Trashing the Olympics is easy and maybe worthwhile, but the Vancouver experience has proven that the west coast of Canada is the most beautiful place on earth, it is an objective destination for most of the world, its people are kind and beautiful, that it is a part of the world and can make a difference in Canada and abroad. The connections between people, rather than the connections of business, finance, the internet, are what the Olympics and thousands of other international sporting events remind us. Direct communication between people, the celebration of humanity, actively, face to face, is what is necessary to overcome the isolation which the “one world order” has wrought. The Olympics is a part of that. And Vancouver and BC will shine in people’s minds for a long time. Now is the time to take the gleam of that experience in hand and wield it for meaningful change. It was a gigantic investment, and every one of us is responsible for marshaling the interest toward what is important for Canada. And the world.

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