B.C. politician makes some odd comments about child poverty

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

I think most people accept the fact that individuals have different political ideologies.

We understand that there are people on the extreme left, in the centre and the extreme right of the political spectrum.

But I don't think I've ever heard any politician in Canada — no matter what political stripe — dismiss the concept of child poverty as Liberal MLA Marc Dalton did in the B.C. legislature earlier this week.

In it, the MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission seems to suggest child poverty in his province isn't really as bad as it sounds.

To put Dalton's comments into context, here's his preamble where he does acknowledge that there are some people in his constituency who are having trouble making ends meet.

"I will say that British Columbia has seen a reduction of child poverty by about 43 percent over the past decade or so. Right now we have the lowest level of child poverty in decades. I believe it's about 30 years. So we've come a long way. There's certainly a lot more to do, but we're on the right track.

"As MLAs, we all meet people in our offices and our constituencies who struggle with poverty and the challenges of making ends meet. It's especially troubling when children are involved. Our hearts go out to them."

Nevertheless, justifying poverty and diminishing the struggles faced by our impoverished youth by touting our free education, healthcare and thrift stores is a rather bold move.

Especially since British Columbia has the worst child poverty rate in the country.

[ Related: Industry Minister James Moore apologizes for child poverty comment ]

A poverty reduction advocate who lives in Dalton's riding of Maple Ridge Mission suggested that the MLA's comments were out of line.

"I was shocked [by his comments]," Chuck Griffith Director of Operations for Friends in Need Food Bank in Maple Ridge told CKNW Radio.

"I'd say come down to...the Salvation Army or my food bank and actually spend a day and talk to the people you're actually talking about."

[ Related: Promise to eliminate child poverty in Canada ringing increasingly hollow ]

The opposition New Democrats even used Dalton as an example in their press release, this week, about B.C.'s poverty problem.

"B.C. Liberal MLAs are out of touch with poverty in their own communities," they noted in a statement.

"Maple-Ridge Mission MLA Marc Dalton suggested just this week that no B.C. children go hungry, and that youth homelessness doesn't exist."

Yahoo Canada News did offer MLA Dalton an opportunity to clarify his statements but his office had not replied by press time.

What do you think? Are is comments out of line?

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)

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