October 22, 2010 – Advocating for issues that matter to all Canadians as we age requires talking directly to political leaders. CARP advocacy did just that this week in Ottawa. Over two full days of meetings and videotaped interviews, Advocacy Vice President Susan Eng engaged MPs, party leaders, senators, and cabinet level government officials on the issues that matter to all older Canadians.
“Our essential message to the Parliamentarians is that older Canadians, like CARP members, are the most politically engaged voters,” Eng said. “So, if they address the issues that resonate with us, it could pay off at the ballot box. We’ve been saying this in the media all along and now it was time to bring that message right to Parliament Hill.”
And that is just what CARP did in meeting with a number of MPs who focus officially on seniors’ issues, including Judy Sgro (Liberal Critic for Seniors and Pensions), Raymond Folco (Liberal MP), Wayne Marston (NDP Critic for Pensions), and Olivia Chow (NDP Critic for Seniors).
In addition to the MPs, CARP met with Jack Layton and Michael Ignatieff, the leaders of the NDP and Liberal Party, respectively and with Senator Nancy Ruth. CARP also had a long and productive meeting with Diane Ablonczy, the Conservative Minister of State for seniors’ issues, a cabinet level post.
The meetings were a true back and forth, with CARP reiterating the importance of older Canadians as voters and identifying a number of key issues that need concerted political attention, including home care and national caregiving support, pharmacare, ongoing pension issues, and the need to eliminate mandatory retirement in federal agencies.
Eng acknowledged that “the Parliamentarians were generous with their time. Not only were they prepared to account directly to our members but they also recognized the importance of a well-informed group of politically engaged voters.”
Politicians on the Record
CARP gave the parliamentarians an opportunity to share their messages directly with CARP members. Indeed, CARP leveraged its partnership with Zoomer Media to great effect. The combined resources allowed CARP to bring a video crew to The Hill, giving each of the MPs and Senator Ruth an opportunity to state just why CARP is important to the political process and to all Canadians as we age. Each message was distinct, but the voting prowess and political engagement of our members was the common thread.
“We’ve been working with MPs from all parties on our advocacy issues,” Said Eng. “In our newsletters we try to give them the opportunity to address CARP members directly to tell us their position on our issues. This time they were able to do it in person.”
Soon CARP members will be able to see the messages on our website, as we post the video messages from the Parliamentarians to CARP members. The meetings with national political leaders are further evidence that CARP is taking the concerns of older Canadians directly to the politicians. Now, the politicians are now talking back.