Saturday, February 23, 2008

Liberal Policy Series #4: End Atrocities in Darfur (Etobicoke Centre Young Liberals Policy)

It's time to hear about the 4th policy in this 5 part series about Ontario Young Liberal policies. The first three were Enforcing Standards of Practice for Canadian Mining Companies Operating Abroad (a policy I authored which was put forth by the Brant Young Liberals) and Giving Green an Advantage: GST Cut for Environmentally Friendly Products (put forth by the Peterborough Federal Young Liberals) and Opt-Out Organ Donation: Saving Lives and Saving Money (written by Janie Fischer and put forth by the University of Western Young Liberals). I strongly encourage you to read them if you missed them.

This next policy was put forth by the Etobicoke Centre Provincial and Federal Liberal Youth Association. Their President (and founder) Terry Chemij has agreed to talk to you about their policy. Terry's club Etobicoke Centre has been a fairly active since its inception and has successfully managed to get policies of theirs passed as official OYL policy two years running. Terry has been active with the Western Young Liberals as well, whom as I mentioned last time are one of the most active clubs in the Province.

Terry also serves as VP Policy and Education for STAND Western (Students Taking Action Now in Darfur) so in line with that the policy his club pushed and helped pass is about tackling the crisis in Darfur. No one can say this crisis doesn’t need greater attention and it is certainly true that Harper Government has largely neglected it and needs to do more. Paul Martin made it clear to Rick Hillier that he wanted there to be enough Canadian troops left over to help in Darfur if ever needed and Stephen Harper threw that concern to the wind. It is my hope (that I think is shared by many) that the Liberals make helping alleviate the crisis in Darfur a priority when they get back in Government.

So what you see below is what Terry has provided me word for word on his club’s policy. Feel free to give your thoughts...

End Atrocities in Darfur

It can be argued that there is no greater crisis on the face of this planet as genocide. Genocide is taking place right now as you read this, and what are we doing to stop it?

The empty jargon of NEVER AGAIN is just that, an empty promise that the international community and previous generations have made. My hope is that our generation of youth, who I see as passionate and concerned with what is happening around the world, will not stand by and fail humanity once again. If older generations fail to lead, then our generation must step up. We are fully capable as Young Liberals living in this province and in this country during this time to drive the issues that are important to us.

This policy is a drop in a bucket of the larger movement to stand up against injustice. Canada had a window of opportunity to lead the world into the Darfur region and build consensus on a peacekeeping mission. That window of opportunity came and passed. The second best option is to assist with the implementation of UN Resolution 1769. This resolution calls for an African Union and United Nations hybrid peacekeeping force (UNAMID) to protect the innocent civilians and humanitarian aid workers in the region. Canada has not been asked to commit troops. However, the resolution does welcome ongoing preparations for the Hybrid operation including putting in place logistical arrangements, operational policies (such as the establishment and operation of an HQ), as well as financial and administrative mechanisms to ensure effective management of the mission.

Canada has provided financial resources for the mission; however, the mission has been delayed due to limited transport resources and opposition from the Government of Sudan.

We, the future of Canada have leant the lesson of previous unanswered calls for help while death tolls raised to 800,000 in Rwanda. We, the Ontario Young Liberals will not stand by and watch as the death toll in Darfur increases.

It is time that the Young Liberals demand more from the government of Canada. Especially when human lives are what is at stake. It’s time to drive the OYL agenda.

- Terry Chemij, President, Etobicoke Centre Federal and Provincial Liberal Youth Association

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