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Candidates invited to tackle poverty issues

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In Barrie
Sep 29th, 2010
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By KAREN FOX AND RUTH BLAICHER Barrie Examiner September 28 2010
In keeping with Examiner policy of not allowing registered candidates in the municipal election to write columns or submit letters, Roots Issues’ Erich Jacoby-Hawkins has enlisted the help of guest writers during his campaign
Our key concern is sustainability. That’s far more than just an environmental issue: a community or society must at once be ecologically, socially and economically sustainable. When some people aren’t treated fairly, aren’t given opportunities, or are left out of prosperity, it has negative consequences for all. Therefore, we always seek a big-picture view and look at what’s affecting each segment of the community so we can move forward together.
A great chance to achieve that takes place Friday at 7 p.m. It’s a special event called ‘A Night Out in the Cold’. No, this isn’t Barrie’s Out of the Cold program for the homeless to spend the night in a church basement. Rather, it’s an election debate designed to force candidates to confront poverty issues head-on. It’s been held at all election levels: 2006 municipal, 2007 provincial, 2008 federal, and now we’re back to municipal.
This event is unique in several ways. First, it is the only event to include candidates for mayor and all council wards. All candidates are invited, but not all take part, which, right off the bat, gives some indication about who does (or doesn’t) care about poverty in Barrie. (Candidates have had plenty of warning, enough to make sure they don’t have a conflict that evening). This year features something new: candidates have been asked to contribute at least $25 to a local support agency in order to participate. When they introduce themselves, they can say which agency they chose and why, to demonstrate how they perceive the poverty challenge in Barrie.
And, like the homeless, the candidates will have to take part sitting outdoors, despite hot sun, cold snow, or heavy rain. Whatever the day brings will be their lot.
The event is preceded by a march starting at 5 p.m. from Queen’s Park to Fred Grant Square to raise visibility. Then, at 6:15 p.m., a free dinner is served at the Square. Finally, at 7 p.m., the candidates will face two hours of questions from the moderator and the audience. The event (and parade and dinner) are open and free to all.
As always, this event is hosted by the Simcoe County Alliance to End Homelessness (SCATEH), a coalition of organizations supporting the homeless, poor or at-risk. Each member of the Barrie chapter is helping with the event, by providing food, a stage, a sound system, dishes and cutlery, coordination, etc.
For more information, visit www.endhomelessness.ca.
Ruth Blaicher and Karen Fox are local realtors and founding members of Transition Barrie with a passion for green issues and are directors of Living Green.

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