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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

No exception for Assange: Rape apologetics and the left

Posted on rabble, this piece is co-authored by Matt Fodor
Fallen left heroes.

Their mythology is often the hardest to defeat.

Just the other night, Bill Maher, the libertarian who, due to his willingness to confront the "sacred cows" of the right, has become a seeming icon to many on the left, conducted a live TV interview with Julian Assange, safe as he is from serious accusations of rape, secure in the Ecuadorian embassy, and with millions of uncritical supporters around the world, including Maher.

Maher said "I hope you get out soon Julian," at the end of a discussion of  the apparent importance of Wikileaks, acting as if Assange was already in prison for his "political activities" as opposed to being in hiding in the U.K. to avoid charges of sexual assault in, and the likelihood of extradition to, Sweden.

And now Assange appears to be running for office in his native Australia. Some think he might win.
Assange has become another in a tragically long series of men, leaders within their own left groups or within their specific context, that the left has given a "pass" to on allegations of rape and misogynist violence, both ignoring the abuse of women and making it clear that this is seen to be subordinate to the "greater" importance of the fight against the "capitalist class" or "imperialism."

The appalling example of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in the U.K. recently covering up the actions of its male "cult of personality" leader is a case study in how leftists are willing to sell out women who have been victimized by the left's internal misogyny. There is nothing new about this, and leftists have come blindly to the defense of rapists before, as they did in the case of Mark Curtis in the U.S. in the '80s, who everyone now acknowledges was obviously guilty.
Despite this, but due to the persistence of patriarchal ideas within western socialist and left movements, yet again we are hearing the same falsehoods in defence of a man accused of serious crimes against women.

While the authors of the piece accept the important principle that people are innocent of all charges until proven guilty in a court of law, we also accept the equally important principle that men, no matter what other noble causes or actions they may have taken in the past or what ideology they represent, must answer to criminal accusations of sexual assault in these same courts.

Normally, this is hardly a controversial position in the left. But, even now, many months later, and due to what can only be described as a convoluted series of falsehoods and half-baked conspiracy theories, there remains widespread support within the left for Assange. Even important leftist thinkers, like Noam Chomsky, usually immune to conspiracist ideas, have taken up Assange's cause and repeated the "arguments" of his sycophants, even though these are often demonstrably false.

Given how many sisters fought for generations to try to get society to take sexual violence seriously, and given that they have counted the left as their allies, this is simply not acceptable.

For Assange's supporters, the charges must "really" be about Wikileaks. And after the two women filed complaints they were subject to horrendous attacks and demonization. Rumors soon began to circulate, without a shred of evidence, that this was a "honey trap" and that one of the women was a "CIA agent." For far too many on the left, a conspiracy theory trumps taking women's claims seriously.

As the evidence against the "conspiracy" theories swirling around Assange is very clear, it is to these that we will first turn.

Assange and the alleged "honey trap" 

There are several claims made by Assange’s uncritical supporters that are just outlandish.  For instance in a documentary for ABC Australia, “Sex Lies and Julian Assange,” Assange’s U.K. legal adviser Jennifer Robinson actually stated the following:
You only need to look at the way that Red Notices are used around the world. Red Notices are normally the preserve of terrorists and dictators. The president of Syria does not have a Red Notice alert. Gaddafi in Libya, at the same time Julian’s arrest warrant was issued, was not subject to a Red Notice but an Orange Notice. It was an incredibly… it was incredibly unusual that a red notice would be sought for an allegation of this kind.
This a flat-out lie. This “traffic light analogy," parroted repeatedly by Assange supporters, does not apply to Interpol notices. A Red Notice is not more severe than an Orange Notice.  Here is what the various ‘colors’ actually mean:
Notice type:
Red Notice:
Requests (provisional) arrest of wanted persons, with a view to extradition. An Interpol Red Notice is "the closest instrument to an international arrest warrant in use today". Interpol does not have the authority to issue arrest warrants in the formal sense of the word, as this is the domain of the sovereign member states.
Blue Notice:
Requests additional information about a person in relation to a crime.
Green Notice:
To provide warnings and criminal intelligence about persons who have committed criminal offences and are likely to repeat these crimes in other countries.
Yellow Notice:
Asks for help locating missing persons (usually minors) or identifying people who are unable to identify themselves.
Black Notice:
Seeks information on unidentified bodies.
Orange Notice:
Warns police and other international organizations about potential threats from disguised weapons, parcel bombs, or other dangerous materials.
Purple Notice:
To provide information on modus operandi, procedures, objects, devices and hiding places used by criminals.
Interpol-United Nations Security Council Special Notice:
Issued for groups and individuals who are targets of UN sanctions against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. This was created in 2005 at the request of the UN Security Council through the adoption of resolution 1617 and implemented through the adoption of Interpol resolution AG-2005-RES-05.
In fact, of the more than 10,000 notices issued in 2011, 7,678 were Red Notices. Nor is it at all unheard of for Red Notices to be issued for rapists. A cursory look at the current Interpol database includes persons wanted for rape, as well as for theft, fraud, armed robbery, assault and drunk driving. Again, Red Notices are issued for any suspect who has left the country. 
There is also no basis to Assange’s own claim that Sweden is the “Saudi Arabia of feminism.” It is simply untrue that what Assange is accused of in Sweden would not constitute rape in the U.K. and it is unconscionable for any progressive-minded person to dismiss these charges on this basis. The City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court ruled :
The framework list is ticked for rape. The defence accepts that normally the ticking of a framework list offence box on an EAW would require very little analysis by the court. However they then developed a sophisticated argument that the conduct alleged here would not amount to rape in most European countries. However, what is alleged here is that Mr Assange “deliberately consummated sexual intercourse with her by improperly exploiting that she, due to sleep, was in a helpless state”. In this country that would amount to rape.
This was upheld by the High Court:
It is clear that the allegation is that he had sexual intercourse with her when she was not in a position to consent and so he could not have had any reasonable belief that she did.
Nor is it true that Assange is ‘merely’ wanted for questioning.  As David Allen Green points out:
Assange is not wanted merely for questioning.
He is wanted for arrest.
This arrest is for an alleged crime in Sweden as the procedural stage before charging (or “indictment”).  Indeed, to those who complain that Assange has not yet been charged, the answer is simple: he cannot actually be charged until he is arrested.
The oft-repeated claim by Bjorn Hurtig that Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny had given Assange permission to leave the country is false, as is the claim that Ny had refused to arrange for an interview with Assange. According to the court record :
The lawyer gave live evidence covering in some detail the attempts made to secure an interview with his client. On 15th September Ms Ny told him there were no “force measures” preventing Julian leaving the country, i.e. he was allowed to leave. He asked when his client would be interrogated but was told the officer she needed for the investigation was sick. He phoned his client to say he was free to leave the country to continue his work.
 As for the claim that Ny ‘refused’ to interview Assange:
In cross-examination the Swedish lawyer confirmed that paragraph 13 of his proof of evidence is wrong. The last five lines of paragraph 13 of his proof read: “in the following days [after 15th September] I telephoned [Ms Ny] a number of times to ask whether we could arrange a time for Mr. Assange’s interview but was never given an answer, leaving me with the impression that they may close the rape case without even bothering to interview him. On 27th September 2010, Mr Assange left Sweden.” He agreed that this was wrong. Ms Ny did contact him. A specific suggestion was put to him that on 22nd September he sent a text to the prosecutors saying “I have not talked to my client since I talked to you”. He checked his mobile phone and at first said he did not have the message as he does not keep them that far back. He was encouraged to check his inbox, and there was an adjournment for that purpose. He then confirmed that on 22nd September 2010 at 16.46 he has a message from Ms Ny saying: “Hello – it is possible to have an interview Tuesday”. Next there was a message saying: “Thanks for letting me know.  We will pursue Tuesday 28th at 1700”. He then accepted that there must have been a text from him. “You can interpret these text messages as saying that we had a phone call, but I can’t say if it was on 21st or 22nd”. He conceded that it is possible that Ms Ny told him on the 21st that she wanted to interview his client. She requested a date as soon as possible. He agrees that the following day, 22nd, she contacted him at least twice.
…Mr Hurtig was asked why he told [former Swedish judge] Brita Sundberg-Wietman that Ms Ny had made no effort  to interview his client. He denied saying that and said he has never met her…He agrees that where he had said in his statement (paragraph 51) that “I found it astonishing that Ms Ny, having allowed five weeks to elapse before she sought out interview”, then that is wrong. He had forgotten the messages referred to above. They must have slipped his mind.
Hurtig’s antics led the judge to rule that Hurtig made “a deliberate attempt to mislead the court” and in fact did mislead expert witnesses Brita Sundberg-Wietman and Sven Allam. Hurtig received a disciplinary warning from the Swedish Bar Association

What of the claim that Sweden would extradite Assange to the U.S.? Isn’t it reasonable for the Swedish government to issue a guarantee before Assange is extradited to Sweden? Is their refusal to do so a sign of complicity with the U.S. government, and that the charges are ‘really’ about Wikileaks? It is our argument that such claims are absurd and would not be raised by progressives in any other context.

With regard to the guarantee, Glenn Greenwald demanded that Green retract his “clear and crucial falsehood” that the Government does not have a final say in the extradition process and thus can issue such a guarantee. In a critique of Greenwald, Stockholm University law professor Mark Klamberg  notes:
The problem is that Greenwald earlier and later in the same text argues for a sequence that would put the Government before the Supreme Court. In essence he is arguing that the Government should have the first and the last say with the Supreme Court in the middle. That would make the Supreme Court redundant which is contrary to the sequence that is provided for in the Extradition Act which I have tried to describe. It may also violate the principle of separation of powers.
And Pal Wrange, also of the Stockholm University law faculty, points out , while it is true that the Government makes the final decision:
Even if the Government has leeway under national law, it is bound by international law. Both the Swedish and the UK Governments have extradition agreements with the US, and these agreements provide that extradition shall take place, if the legal requirements are met. Hence, the Government could not provide a guarantee, without potentially violating an international obligation.
It is difficult, to put it mildly, to take the claims that Assange would simply be handed over to the U.S. seriously. Espionage is considered a political crime in Sweden and Swedish law as well as its extradition treaty with the U.S. prohibits extradition for political crimes.
Consider the case of Edward Lee Howard, a CIA agent who sold secrets to the Soviet Union, devastating U.S. operations in Moscow, and who was arrested for overstaying his visa in Sweden. The U.S. government requested Howard’s extradition, which Sweden refused. The prime minister of Sweden at the time was Carl Bildt, the current Foreign Affairs Minister who Assange supporters claim is a U.S. ‘lapdog’ who would immediately extradite Assange after “a single phone call” from the White House.

One final question that is never answered by Assange supporters: wouldn’t it have been far easier to extradite Assange to the U.S. from the U.K., which is much more of a ‘lapdog’ than Sweden? The U.K., unlike Sweden, does have an extradition treaty with the U.S. for espionage. Indeed, it would be much more difficult to extradite Assange from Sweden, as it would require the support of the governments of both Sweden and the U.K. Both are signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights which forbids the extradition to countries where the accused could face the death penalty.  He cannot just simply be handed over to the U.S.

The left and rape culture

In August, 2012, during one of his regular broadcasts noted British leftist and Respect Party MP, George Galloway, when coming to Assange's defence stated:
Even taken at its worst, if the allegations made by these two women were true, 100% true, and even if a camera in the room captured them, they don't constitute rape...At least not rape as anyone with any sense can possibly recognise it. And somebody has to say this.
Woman A met Julian Assange, invited him back to her flat, gave him dinner, went to bed with him, had consensual sex with him, claims that she woke up to him having sex with her again. This is something which can happen, you know. I mean, not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion....
Some people believe that when you go to bed with somebody, take off your clothes, and have sex with them and then fall asleep, you're already in the sex game with them. It might be really bad manners not to have tapped her on the shoulder and said: 'Do you mind if I do it again?.' It might be really sordid and bad sexual etiquette, but whatever else it is, it is not rape or you bankrupt the term rape of all meaning.
While this is a particularly appalling example of a leftist man showing a total lack of understanding of what constitutes rape and of the terrible impact of sexual violence against women, what is equally notable is that, when the controversy that erupted around these disgraceful, misogynist comments had run its course, it was not Galloway that had been forced to resign in disgrace from his "leftist" party.
Rather it was its female leader, Salma Yaqoob who resigned. Resigned due to the fact that she had publicly criticized Galloway and, instead of rallying to her support, as they should of, the leadership of Respect stood by Galloway, their sole MP and their central male "cult of personality" figure.
This is both a telling and very sad statement about the left. It has, all too often, put blind support for its men and male leadership ahead of justice for women. It has accepted the false notion that, somehow, some systems and types of oppression take precedence over others; specifically over the oppression of women.

Galloway, by no means, is alone among the many leftists who have come Assange's defence. As noted earlier Noam Chomsky has, with idiotic and facile claims about Sweden's alleged lack of sovereignty. So has Naomi Klein, Naomi Wolfe, Michael Moore and altogether too many others.
This is a terrible error and it helps to reinforce the global culture of rape that the left has claimed to have traditionally opposed, as well as being yet another example of leftists making excuses and exceptions for one of their male leaders or heroes.

The left should not make an exception for Assange.  As David Allen Green puts it:
Assange has challenged the arrest warrant in Sweden.  It was upheld.
He then repeatedly challenged the European Arrest Warrant in the United Kingdom.  He lost at every stage, but each of his many legal arguments were heard and considered in extensive detail.
And in doing this, Assange had the assistance of first rate legal advice and advocacy from some of the UK's leading human rights lawyers, and he also had the benefit of having been granted bail in England in the meantime.  The extradition was fought by him all the way to the Supreme Court.
Assange has been afforded more opportunities to challenge the warrant for his arrest than almost any other defendant in English legal history.  This is hardly "persecution" or a "witch-hunt".
Furthermore, as Rebecca Solnit recently wrote for Aljazeera:
We have an abundance of rape and violence against women in this country and on this earth, though it's almost never treated as a civil rights or human rights issue, or a crisis, or even a pattern. Violence doesn't have a race, a class, a religion, or a nationality, but it does have a gender.
We cannot abandon our sisters on the supposed alter of class anymore, and we can no longer pretend that "other" oppressions somehow take precedence over the oppression of patriarchy. Nor can we continue to give precedence to male leaders over serious accusations of rape.

Assange, while not guilty of any crime yet, clearly and demonstrably should face trial in Sweden. And leftists should abandon the apologism for his alleged actions and those of other left wing men when they are accused of sexual crimes and remember that, yes, left-wing men do also commit rape and sexual violence, and no one, no matter what else they may have done, should be above answering for it.

For more information on the Assange case, we highly recommend the excellent website Wikiwatch ( as well as Green’s article “Legal Myths About the Assange Extradition” ( in The New Statesman.
Matt Fodor is a Toronto based writer and academic. He is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at York University.
Michael Laxer is a political activist, a two-time former candidate and former election organizer for the NDP, was a socialist candidate for Toronto City Council in 2010 and is on the executive of the newly formed Socialist Party of Ontario.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Resolutionary Socialism: Why a leftist agenda within the NDP is futile

There can be little doubt anymore, other than to the willfully blind, that neither the federal NDP nor any of its provincial wings are socialist parties. The shift towards centrism and the embrace of neo-liberal hegemonic economic ideas, such as Tom Mulcair's recent backing of corporate free trade deals, has become obviously irreversible. The NDP, which sees itself not as a movement to change society, but rather as a "government in waiting", entirely within the framework of capitalism, has turned a corner.

This change is now of a fundamental nature. The basic characteristics of the party are different.

In an article written with Andrew Klochek prior to the launch of the Socialist Party of Ontario, we wrote of how dramatic the ideological shift is. This article not only remains true, but its conclusions, from an ideological point of view, are even more pronounced then they were then. The shift is accelerating. As a new federal convention approaches we are sure to see "socialist" removed from the constitution of the party, which it, for those who care about honesty, should be. It will only be acknowledging reality to remove "socialist" as the NDP bears no resemblance to a socialist party at all. There is no commitment, even in a long term Bernstein sense, to creating a socialist economy.

Given that this ground has been covered, it is not, here, my intention to cover it again.

However, despite these shifts, despite the unrelentingly rightward turn, despite defeat after defeat for the left within the NDP over the last 40 years, many socialists, even revolutionary socialists, remain within the NDP and insist that the only way to push a socialist agenda in Canada (or any of its provinces outside of Quebec) is to fight within the context of the NDP to seek to "convert" NDP members and to, somehow, change the NDP from "within".

The purpose here is to move beyond the ideological problems with supporting the NDP and working within it, though we will, when appropriate, touch on that as well, and to show that this is also tactically wrong. It is a strategy that is a proven failure. As such, continuing to pursue it is both destructive to the alleged intent and harmful to the socialist idea in Canada itself.

Resolutionary Socialism

Leftists within the NDP, especially those organized within some of the party's entryist groups(1), engage in what could be called the theory and practice of Resolutionary Socialism(2).

Resolutionary Socialism is the notion that the point of a socialist movement is to agitate within the country's existing  "mass worker's party" to get resolutions passed at conventions and get people elected to the party's governing bodies with the intent of shifting the party to the left and towards a radical or, in some cases, revolutionary socialist idea.

Then, presumably, either the left will seize control of the "mass worker's party" or, when the revolutionary or radical "moment" comes, they will march out of the party, red flags blazing in the wind, taking the radicalized elements of the membership with them.

This tactic is now, more than it has ever been, entirely detached from reality.

As a bit of history, one of the constant refrains of socialists working within the NDP is that they are trying to recapture the energy and "success" of movements like the Waffle in the 70s, the CAP (Campaign for an Activist Party) in the 80s and the NPI (New Politics Initiative) in the 90s, all of which vied for power internally and managed to secure 25-35% support from the membership of the party.

What they fail to note is that every one of these intiatives failed.

This is not a reflection, at all, upon the activists. They were all entirely noble in their efforts.

It is, however, what happened.

Every single one of these "high water marks" for the left within the NDP ultimately receded and dissolved. The Socialist Caucus has been in existence within the party since 1998 and has been an unhappy handmaiden to the period during which it shifted right most dramatically.

In each case, after the movement crested the party leadership consolidated its hold and pushed both the platform and practice of the party not in a left direction, but in the opposite direction.

But Resolutionary Socialism has been dealt an even greater blow in that, as is obvious to any detached observer, the resolutions no longer matter. For the simple reason that the "Democratic" in NDP is a sham. To an even greater extent than in the past the deck is rigged. The "left" of the party cannot win.

The NDP now routinely prevents left candidates who are not willing, ultimately, to play ball,  from either seeking nominations or, should they win them, actually running for the party. This includes, most obviously, the leader the Socialist Caucus itself, Barry Weisleder, whose nomination in Thornhill was revoked by the party. But there are many other examples.

Resolutions Committees within the NDP ensure that "left" resolutions basically never make it to the floor of conventions anymore anyway. If they do, and if, in the unlikely event they pass, they then fall into the black hole that is the party's membership's "platform" (not to be confused with the farce the leadership and its strategists trot out at election time, which is the actual platform), a platform that is never publicly published and that the party has claimed does not even exist! If you doubt this, feel free to ask for the memebership's platform anytime you want.

Do not hold your breath while waiting to receive it.

There are other instances of the party, provincially or federally, either preventing its membership from exercising democratic control, or simply disregarding or invalidating the results when they do.

In fact, given that the right shift depends on the isolation of the party leadership from any embarrassment that might be caused by the membership, I think one could easily argue that the membership of the NDP has less power than any membership in any political party in Canada.

To be blunt, it is a fight that cannot be won. To describe it as utopian would be unfair to utopianism, which is predicated on the principal that its struggle is Sisyphean. This is a case of activists tilting at windmills without recognizing that they are doing so.

Even worse, they do so without understanding that the membership of the NDP is not at all what it used to be. Many members seek to be on board with a "winner". They are politcal junkies or careerists as opposed to socialists.

They are, in fact, in my opinion less likely to be recruited by a socialist movement than the general public, especially if socialists work with certain specific communities. 

Why working within the NDP helps the NDP's right

The basic idea of the leftists in the NDP is that they are fighting within a party receptive to leftism.

This disregards the party's last 40 years. It also disregards the fact that many members of the NDP are members of the party precisely because they want to be a part of a party that will take power, and some hope to directly gain from this (as they have already by the party "winning" opposition).

Further, it is predicated on vanguardist ideas of "enlightening" the "masses" within a "mass" political party, a notion not only elitist and facile, but also assuming (as the vanguardists always do) that the NDP membership are sheep waiting for a true leader to show them the true path.

Even when dealing with actually working class members, this principle is already false. But the NDP membership is comprised of many professionals (such as teachers, professors, social workers, white collar civil servants, etc.) and its basic class composition is not a "mass" party at all in the way the leftists mean "mass".

In fact, I think it is quite likely that the membership of the NDP is actually less likely to be responsive to radicalism and leftist ideas than, say, citizens in Parkdale in Toronto. Or in downtown Winnipeg. Or in Cape Breton.

Within the NDP you are talking to a membership that has joined in or stayed within a party in spite of its shift.

The radicals have already left.

By going door-to-door, as they do, for a neo-liberal party espousing a neo-liberal ideology, and by encouraging leftists to join this party, leftists within the NDP aid the party establishment as opposed to hindering it. They reinforce the party's hold on Canada's left politics.

Working within the NDP, as a leftist, means directly contributing to the rightward shift as it  allows the party a thin veneer of "left-wing" credibility by your presence, and they can take you for granted, which they do. 
Since you cannot win internally, you do not worry them at all, and if they win government leftists who cause trouble will be out. You can count on this. 

However, if real left candidates, as in Quebec with Quebec Solidaire, were to even get 3-5 % of the vote in downtown Toronto, (a totally achievable goal, for those who insist on being "realistic") thereby no longer allowing the NDP to take the support of left-wing citizens for granted, then the mainstream "left" party has to take notice. And its positions and policies will change accordingly.

This has happened in Quebec and Europe...and it will not happen in English Canada without this.

As is usually the case, the threat to those who operate within circles of power and electoral politics and who accept, as a starting point, the "realities" of our system,  has to come from outside. It cannot come from within.  

(1) I have written of these groups before in a piece on my blog.

(2) With apologies to my dear friend, and long time comrade, Andy Lehrer, from whom I stole the term.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Canada's greatest child abuse problem: Poverty

Another year. Another report on how we as Canadians are failing one in every six of our children.

According to The Conference Board of Canada, the child poverty that all Canadian political parties, in 1989, pledged to eliminate by the year 2000 has not only not been eliminated, it has actually increased since the 1990s by 15.1%.

At almost the same time that this report, a report that simply confirms what we as citizens and all our politicians provincially and federally have known for years and acknowledged almost twenty-five years ago to be true, came out, the federal government with a great deal of fanfare was announcing its plans to "protect" children from crime and sexual exploitation.

This is, of course, a noble and lofty goal. And it is important to protect children victimized in this horrific way.

But it is also disingenuous for the federal government, or, frankly, any provincial government regardless of which party is in power, to pretend and cry false tears for children as they ignore one out of every six of them.

If protecting children is the goal, then surely lifting children out of the violence of poverty, given that this violence impacts hundreds of thousands of children, none of whom, even by the barbaric standards of our capitalist society, can remotely be said to be at all responsible for their "lot", should be a greater goal.

Why, one might ask Rob Nicholson, is his government doing absolutely nothing to end child poverty, with all of its clearly and demonstrably negative effects which impact on equality of opportunity and which brutalize children daily? Where is a federal housing strategy or a Lyndon Johnson style declaration of "war" on poverty? Where is even a remote acknowledgement that this poverty might, as is clearly the case, greatly increase the chances of children being exploited and abused, both in childhood and later in life?

The impact of poverty on children, who are entirely innocent of any "responsibility" for it, and are simply born into it by fate, is life-long and effects health, education, and, frankly, happiness. (Let alone obviously increasing the likelihood of the child either being a victim of crime or being drawn into committing crime). Everyone, even when doing nothing about it, knows this is true and no one really disputes it, other than a few delusional religious types who actually believe poor kids deserve their fate as some type of moral purgatory.

The problem is not that anyone debates that there is a problem. The problem is, simply, that there is no political will to do anything about it.

And it is not just Rob Nicholson and the federal Tories. No political parties, the Liberals, NDP and Greens included, have any meaningful programme to confront and eliminate this appalling moral scourge that draws so many into its maelstrom of injustice, hunger and day-to-day brutality.

And make no mistake, this is what child poverty is; a daily crime inflicted on children by a wealthy society that has the means to eliminate it, but that has decided not to. We are all complicit in this crime, no one more so than the politicians that could actually effect change, but remain idle instead.
In Ontario, for example, we have a Liberal government that passed a law, Bill 115, entitled the "Putting Students First Act", and yet whose last budget actually cut welfare rates, in real terms versus the cost of living, by nearly 2%. This cut was supported by the NDP, whose constant mantra is doing what is "achievable".  What of the children born to parents on welfare? How are they, and they are "students" also, being put "first"?

Clearly, in the books of the Ontario Liberals and NDP, lifting children out of poverty, in one of the wealthiest places in the world, is not "achievable".They have  no plan, at all, to do so.
This recent welfare cut, combined with the continuing freeze of Ontario's minimum wage,  and the total lack of political will to reverse tax cuts for the upper and middle classes, helps rather obviously to keep Ontario's children in poverty, and those who have allowed it to happen are directly responsible for this. It is that simple.  

It is, also, no different in any other province.

We are not absolved of blame by abstention or good intentions. Nor are we absolved because we think that "doing something" might be too radical and might harm chances of re-election. Only actions matter. Positive sentiments are as meaningless in actually protecting poor children and helping them as are Tory crime bills.

As the author of the report, Brenda Lafleur, noted “If we want to address a problem like child poverty...we know we can do it — we just have to work together and actually decide that it is a problem.”

Apparently, as decades of preventable child suffering continues, we, and the political parties that represent us, are still not willing to admit that it is really a problem at all.  .