Common Front for Social Justice

For Immediate Publication

June 23, 2008.

PRESS RELEASE

The Common Front for Social Justice is planning its 2nd Provincial Poverty Summit for October 17 and 18, 2008.

The Common Front for Social Justice is announcing today that it will be holding its 2nd Summit on Poverty October 17th and 18th, 2008 in Moncton.

Our theme this year is Justice before Charity. As you will probably recall, our 1st Summit theme in 2006 was “Faces of Poverty”, where we highlighted the different aspects of poverty in New Brunswick. This year we want to start a province-wide debate on what is actually being done to reduce or eliminate poverty. We are searching for the appropriate actions to undertake.

The Common Front for Social Justice, Inc. believes that New Brunswick community organizations, individuals, non-governmental agencies, the government, all does who are working to reduce or eliminate poverty need to start asking themselves if the actions they are involved in are truly helping to eliminate the root causes of poverty.

As we all know, the situation of people living in poverty in our province is not getting any better. This is certainly true for workers earning wages below the poverty line, for citizens on a fixed low income and for those on income assistance. These thousands of individuals and their families are facing increases in the cost of energy, food, housing, etc. We do not see any real positive changes coming up to alleviate their situation. Right now, contrary to other provincial government, New Brunswick does not have a strategy to reduce or eliminate poverty. It is relying on community organizations such as food banks and other non-profit groups to help people living in poverty.

At the Common Front for Social Justice, we believe that, regarding the question of poverty, the time has come to initiate a public debate around the principle of Justice before Charity. We believe that the notion of Justice appeals to our sense of equity, social inclusion as well as being an integral part of society. The notion of Charity, on the other hand, presently seems to refer to actions which tend to make citizens dependent on the organizations willing to help them. We would like a debate on this issue to take place in many public arenas and with as many individuals and organizations as possible.

In 2008, we believe that the time is ripe for a general discussion on the different actions, programs and services that have been put in place to reduce poverty during the last ten years. We need to ask ourselves if they helped or hindered the fight against poverty. This is a vital discussion which activists and community organizations need to undertake if they are to move forward toward a common goal which is to eliminate poverty. We understand that such a debate will not be an easy one but we strongly believe that it is needed if we are to create a society where everyone has an equal chance to participate as well as reap the benefits of an improved standard of living.

We have put together a program we feel will help all of us in this very important reflection.

On Friday, October 17, we are very pleased that Judy Rebick has accepted to address our Summit’s theme Justice before Charity. Judy Rebick presently holds the CAW San Gindin’s Chair in Social Justice and Democracy at Ryerson University in Toronto. She is also a writer, a feminist, a social activist and the founder of Rabble, an independent online news and discussion site. She played a role in the organization of the Toronto Social Forum and was for many year the President of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women.

Following her speech, we will have our traditional annual march as October 17 is a very special day, namely the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. To commemorate this day, the Common Front erected a monument in Riverfront Park. This is why we will start our march from this monument.

In the evening, we will have a panel who will talk on three burning issues: the current crises in the areas of food, housing and energy.

Auréa Cormier, Emeritus Professor at the University of Moncton, will address the issue of the food crisis.

Kurt Peacock, Visiting Scholar at the Harold Crabtree Foundation at UNB Saint John, will talk about the energy crisis.

Our speaker on the housing issue will be announced later.

On Saturday, October 18, the Hon. Mary Schryer will address the participants and tell them what the provincial government is doing to put Justice before Charity.

Later in the morning, we will have an interactive session under the theme: Common Good versus Private Interest under the guidance of a professional from CPRF, a participatory training centre from Montreal.

We are inviting all New Brunswickers to attend this Summit. We hope to have a good cross section of participants, ranging from social activists, community groups, members of the labour movement, people living in poverty, individuals committed to work on justice issues, social workers, members from faith-based organizations, students and the general pubic. As was the case at our 1st Poverty Summit, we are hoping that approximately 50% of the participants will be people who are living below the poverty line.

Contact :
Linda McCaustlin, Co-Chair : 855-7046
Jean-Claude Basque, Provincial Coordinator : 851-7086 ; 867-9182

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