Taken For Granite

Taken For Granite

What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others. Pericles


Written in stone? Not so much these days. The preponderance of our everyday writing, including this commentary, is tenuous; bits and bytes mapped on a magnet displayed as pixels. We still use paper made from wood fibre, of course, the paperless society is yet to fully evolve and we still use soft wood’s cousins linen, rag, and parchment paper.

One particular sheet of paper has some very interesting bit of writing inked upon it. That ink is a visual representation of what we think is right, correct, and worthy. The words are not literally written in stone, but many Canadians hold those words with the same solemnity. We call it ‘The Charter or more formally The Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Our government sets many rights in metaphysical granite: Laws, Treaties, Accords, Covenants, Protocols, agreements of all sorts. Many, like The Charter, are written in Canada by Canadians; others are international agreements written and accepted in concert with other sovereign nations. One of those Covenants is known as United Nations’ International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, certainly a mouthful hence — (ICESCR). This covenant was signed and ratified forty years ago in 1976.

A Covenant of this sort contains many articles; at last count: 31. Our interest today is on article 11 which acknowledges: “the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his [sic] family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions.”

Agreed to under the auspices of the Liberal Party of Canada, we find that a generation later our commitment to that Covenant has resulted in 350,000 of our neighbours being threatened with homelessness and another 35,000 people homeless every night.

Do we really want to go through another generation ignoring the obvious? The homeless need homes. Fix it.


The opinions in this article are those of the author and do not represent any other organization. Norm is an At-Large Member of Canada Without Poverty’s Board of Directors. norm@homefromtheedge.ca. ©Norm Skelton 2018

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