Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 27, 2006
PM asks for CWL representation
CWL will send a delegate to the National Council on Seniors and Aging
PMO Photo by Deb Ransom
Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with Betty Anne Brown, left, CWL President Lorette Noble and Mary Nordick Nov. 2
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
Following a second meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Catholic Women's League (CWL) has been asked to send a representative to the National Council on Seniors and Aging at his request.
CWL president Lorette Noble said the invitation came via a phone call during a meeting of the national executive and provincial council presidents in Winnipeg Nov. 10-12, and a week after a three-woman delegation visited Ottawa to inform politicians of the new resolutions passed at the national convention in Halifax in August.
Old Age Security
Two of this year's resolutions concern senior citizens: one seeks a raise in the Old Age Security benefits, the second seeks the elimination of the GST on funeral expenses.
"This is good that a government department should get in touch with us directly," said Noble in a telephone interview from Candiac, Quebec, Nov. 21. "That's nice. I don't think esteem is too high a word."
The National Council on Seniors and Aging is an advisory council for the human resources minister. Noble is looking for a CWL member who can fulfill the requirements for sitting on the council.
Last year was the first time in recent memory the CWL had obtained a meeting with a prime minister, despite sending delegations every year to Parliament Hill for decades.
The second meeting in early November was less formal, but Noble said she was able to raise concerns about the upcoming vote on reopening the debate on marriage. Accompanying her for the meeting were resolutions chairperson Betty Anne Brown from Ontario, and legislation chairperson Mary Nordick from Saskatchewan.
Noble said she told the prime minister that marriage was high on the CWL's list of concerns and reminded him of his promise to hold a vote.
"It was an impromptu decision to ask him," she said, noting they asked whether the marriage issue was on the back burner or whether there was a serious intention to hold a vote.
Harper said he still planned to hold the vote, but warned that it would be difficult and the outcome uncertain, Noble said.
The impromptu meeting with Harper arose while the delegation attended a scheduled meeting with the prime minister's parliamentary secretary Jason Kenney. They soon found themselves ushered into Harper's office across the hall for what Noble said was mostly a photo op, with conversation happening as the photographer arranged them.
The delegation also met with former Liberal cabinet minister Maria Minna. While the CWL had hoped to meet with representatives from the Bloc Quebecois and the New Democratic Party, scheduling conflicts made that impossible.
They did, however, meet with senior policy advisors from seven ministries, including health, environment, justice, international trade, foreign affairs, human resources and social development.
In addition to the Old Age Security benefits and GST elimination on funeral expenses, the CWL brought resolutions concerning religious persecution, renewable energy, protection for conscience rights related to same-sex marriage, and the better labelling and disposal of pest control products.
They also brought up previous resolutions "that had not been resolved" such as the elimination of human trafficking, funding for literacy and palliative care, ending child poverty and preventing euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Noble said they also raised concerns about recently announced cutbacks to palliative care and literacy programs.
"We made the point that in our society there are some bedrock issues like palliative care, like literacy that shouldn't be dependent on the whim of one political party or another," she said. "They should be so much a part of who we are."