The Time is Now.

The time is now.

I keep waiting to write so I’ll know the right thing to say to galvanize our community.

The truth is there’s nothing perfect to say. Nothing will make everyone feel something.

candle with flame blowingTonight, in Windsor, Ontario, I’m taking my three daughters to a candlelight vigil downtown at City Hall Square north. We’re going to stand in the cold because we have the freedom and the ability and the invitation to do so. We’re going to stand beside our neighbours of all races, religions, sexes, creeds and nationalities, and we are going to say to the people of Quebec, to our Muslim Canadian friends and to anyone who wishes any of us harm: we are all Canadian.

No maybe the girls won’t ‘get’ it because they’re too young. But I want them to reflect back on many times where I advocated active community involvement, even when they were too young to get it. Where I showed up, where I spoke up even when my voice shook with fear, where I listened, where I empathized, where I wrote about struggle and pain and confusion and fear and what we can do even when we feel that way.

And this is for me too. So I can feel connected, so I can remind myself that when I feel that fear, it’s ok to walk through it. And to remind myself that sometimes doing the right thing looks different from moment to moment and person to person, but that I’m doing my best. And to remind myself that I am not the only one around here with fear. And anger. And confusion and sadness. And where the opportunity presents itself to come together, I will meet you there. With all my baggage and all my discomfort, I will still meet you there.

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Empathy in our Politics

help wanted signI’m shocked but not at all surprised to see the way our politicians treat each other. My lack of surprise is simply because I watch the same thing happen around me every day. In short, we treat each other like shit, and then react in horror as our leadership does the same to each other.

In order to get our attention, political campaigns must spend the bulk of their time putting The Other Guy down. Describing to me the horror of an Other Government, and basically getting a buy-out of having to prove that their own merit and ability are worthy of my vote. We complain when our local candidates knock at our front door during dinner, and we don’t show up to local meetings because we’re too busy. We are never too busy to repost a damaging article, likely having not truly read it, and throwing a “politicians suck” label on top. When we do show up to rallies and debates, we boo when the other candidates are mentioned, we cheer when the there’s descriptions of retaliation, we consider ourselves of superior intellect and demonstrate such in our daily lives.

We spit at the notion that women should fill 50% of cabinet seats because “shouldn’t they just earn it?”, implying that female cabinet ministers are ditzes who gleefully accept the cookie of their high political appointment. Then once they do, we shame them for not wanting to put their kids to bed. It’s adorable when a male politician tells the House that he reads stories to his kids over Skype every night he’s in Ottawa. It’s tragic and heartbreaking “for those kids” when a woman says the same.

We are so afraid of each other that we cover it in anger because that feels more acceptable.

Our politicians are reflections of us. We hire them because they beat the other guy, and then we expect them to immediately be able to effectively work with the other guy. We treat each other with disdain and contempt, all the while wondering aloud why our leadership cannot rise above. There’s nothing for them to rise to. They’ve never seen it. They are us. They are who we’ve always asked them to be. They are who we ask ourselves to be. They don’t go to a special school between election and their first day in the House of Commons, to learn how to be more reservedly polite colleagues. They carry the weight of that election into the House, sit across from their “honourable colleagues” whom they’ve spent weeks criticizing and we expect them to then be able to get the job done in a fashion that suits us. All while we post bitter diatribes on Facebook and secretly unfollow anyone who doesn’t agree. THEY ARE US.

I’ve seen it in my own life. Unions go out on strike, spend weeks trying to turn the public tide against their employer, while their employer makes the public case that they’re simply managing greed. It’s a literal argument, alongside a psychological battle to win. Once the deal is done and everyone is back to work, we’re asked to collaborate. We’re expected to understand that the mess we dealt with before, which very much affected how we all felt about our jobs every day? It’s over now. We’re all fine here. Except for anyone who chose the right to walk across the line, you’ll have to pay. Probably in debts of your personal pride.

We shame others to deflect the shame we feel. We blame others for the failures we possess ourselves. Admitting we empathize with their shortcomings is akin to admitting we have shortcomings of our own, and that is exposure and exposure is terrifying. We do not invite empathy into our politics, and then we recoil when contempt is on display. We have no empathy in our parenting, in our workplaces, in our social lives, we don’t even have empathy with ourselves. We want to believe that politics leads, but the reality can be very different- politics reflects. They are us. And until we show up, until we display the kind of communication we want to see, our leadership will keep mirroring back to us what they see.

I so often repeat the line from the movie Remember The Titans that I feel as if I should tattoo it on my person somewhere: Attitude reflects leadership.

In this case? I believe we are the leaders. There are more of Us than there are of Politicians. Is it that what we say we want and what we actually want are so different? Where is the breakdown of communication between our expectations of our elected officials and their actions? And can you apply that breakdown to your own life, your own relationships, your own inner voice?

We need empathy in our politics: I see you, I understand your frustration, I will consider you. In order to get it into the House of Commons? It has to start in your own house.

Being critical of ourselves: American politics and The Establishment

What you are seeing right now is The Establishment at work.

This is what I’ve been waiting for. The Republican National Committee taking its power, its money, its influence and saying “not this guy.”

I did not know it would come in the form of Mitt Romney. But pay attention, because there is more to come. The Republicans may have been late to the Presidential Nominee game in my opinion, but make no mistake that they have picked a pony (Rubio) and they will employ every tactic necessary to make sure he shines. You’ll see sleeker outfits, more elaborate stage set ups, and an astonishing influx of Marco Rubio’s face all over our news cycles.

I don’t love that politics is this demonstrative in the background, but I do recognize it. I see its power and I understand that this is part of campaigning. They’re campaigning for your trust. All of Them. Be critical. Even of the stuff you believe. Read the opinions of the folks on your Facebook feed who anger you. Try to keep an open mind, asking yourself why it angers you. Is it fear? Is it logic? Where is that logic based? Is it what your parents have always said? Is it what you hear at your job? Could your opinion be changed, and what would that look like? Would it matter who said the thing that influences you?

We can all be influenced. We all have morals and values deeply our own.

Pay attention. Be critical. Instead of jumping straight into a politically-based argument, stay silent for a few steps longer than you normally would. Then let your first step in be a question. And not a rhetorical one, but a question that asks for clarification. Demand answers, but be open to listening to all the facts that come from the answer, even the ones you don’t believe.

Pause. Read again. Walk away. Come back, and read again.

Ask questions.

Be critical.

Even, and especially, of yourselves.

And American politics too!: My predictions on the Republican candidates

I’m an equal opportunity political junkie. Meaning all political discourse appeals to me. Our neighbours to the south are having an election soon (like, there’s no way you didn’t know that, come onIt’s been going on foreverandadayomgenoughalready.) I have…thoughts about it. Many.

Let’s start with the piece of the race to the White House that’s getting the most press right now: the Republican nomination for their candidate for President of the United States. There are still, unbelievably NINE candidates still running for the nomination. 206 days out (as of February 3rd, 2016) of the Republican National Convention, the field is still so wide that the winner of the Iowa caucuses only got just over 22% of the vote. My word. So that has to shrink, considerably, in the next little while.

They’ll drop out as the money flow starts to dry up, as support is harder to drum up, as they lose caucus after caucus. Because if you can’t pay for ads, you’ll never reach anyone. And if you can’t pay for gas for your bus, you can’t get to the people. And if you can’t get even 5% of the vote, it’s really hard to convince volunteers to stump for you. But I digress.

Here are my predictions:

Before the New Hampshire primary (Feb 9th, 2016), at least one more Republican will drop out of the race. Maybe even two. I’m guessing it’s Carson or Santorum or both. Then Fiorina goes. Unfortunately Kasich is probably next, then Christie. Bush will stick it out even though he shouldn’t.

Trump is a wild card, he won’t take the nomination. He doesn’t want to be President. There’s not enough money and not enough actual power in the Presidency. Not the kind that Trump likes.

It’ll go between Cruz and Rubio, down to the very last second, maybe all the way down to the Republican National Convention.

I’m guessing Rubio takes it. And if that happens, I believe the RNC and Reince Priebus are behind it. They don’t want Cruz, he’ll have too hard of a time against Democrats. He’s too polarizing, he’s too unlikable, he’s not Presidential enough.

Before New Hampshire, either Carson first; 

if not Santorum. Then after New Hampshire; 

Fiorina. Then it’ll be;

Kasich, followed by 

Christie.

I think those will all be in quick succession.  

Next, Bush will go, then

Trump will take awhile but he’ll check out with controversy.

It’ll come down to Cruz, who will have too hard of a time convincing folks he’s more likeable than…

THE WINNER! Rubio.

(Gross, but ya gotta pick one)

 

::rubs hands together:: Let’s go, kids.

Stop asking “should women be 50% of Trudeau’s Cabinet?”

Are we really debating whether or not to have 50% women in cabinet?

Are we really debating the merits of allowing 50% of women in decisive positions of government?

And are we really using language that makes it sound like women are too sad to be away from their kids, that  makes it sound like women can’t hack it? Like men have been doing this so much better, for so many years why rock the boat?
Why do we need more women in the cabinet?” Because you’re allowed to ask questions like that.
I think it’ll be great once we get our long form census back (yay!) to actually see what the breakdown is of women versus men in our fine country right now. Because my voice, my female voice, is getting left behind. There are not enough of us in politics to speak for all of us in the nation.

When we talk about meritocracy, and simultaneously exclude women from choice because we don’t allow for  an equal number of them to be represented in the first place,  you lose your argument of meritocracy.  It’s not merit based on status quo,  it’s merit based on the best options available. No one ever asks the question of whether the Cabinet should be 50% men, it’s simply accepted as fact. Because it’s always been that way. Yet we all constantly complain about “the way it’s always been”. Our merit is being questioned because our gender is being brought up, so you’ve already recognized that we’re different and underrepresented. Now you want to tell us that we shouldn’t need to be recognized for the chance at these jobs because we’re women?

No one is advocating for unqualified women to be in Cabinet simply to make a feminist point. In fact, the point being made is that diversity in politics is not only better, it’s exactly what politicians are supposed to be: representative of their constituents.
And it’s so frustrating to hear a woman make the point that females historically can’t adjust to the hours, or the toll it may take, that it’s mentally too much. Women historically have never been given a chance to prove that we can. And when we are given a chance, it’s hinted that we’re doing the wrong things for families, that were making a choice that will hurt us in the end, if only we could see that for our pretty little selves. Let’s just let the men take on that burden, shall we? They’ve proven over decades to be so much better at it. ::eyeroll::
When we talk about women’s (lack of) abilities in this way in the public, we further degrade their capacity to consider themselves in that position. Women don’t get into politics because they can’t see themselves in politics. The optics are stark: there are way more men and there always have been. It’s discussed as this hard life and visually, women are excluded. It seems in a way, we’re talking about it like we are protecting women from this difficult position, when in the end we never asked you to do that. In fact we are asking very much to be at the table, to be heard, to have our voices be part of the discussion, to have our issues be Canada’s issues.
50% women in the cabinet is being talked about like a massive undertaking when in the end it’s the very least you could do. It’s the bare minimum to start with, so let’s start with that. And talking about it as if it will ruin the future of the country is both shortsighted and walking the line of fear mongering. “Sorry ladies, you probably can’t hack it, just let us finish this work. It’s hard out here for a pimp.” With all due respect, you guys haven’t exactly done a bang up job. So please, scooch over just a little, let me pull up a chair and let’s see if we can work this out better together.

Pushing for Change & #VoteToEndPoverty

Today I got the chance to participate in a local event put on by the Homeless Coalition of Windsor and Essex County. Along with some other incredibly inspiring speakers, I got to encourage a crowd of over 100 people to get out and vote. And it. was. AMAZING.

Joe Roberts spoke about his upcoming Push For Change alongside an incredibly inspiring true life story of perseverance and success. His message was simple: we are all full of possibility. With motivation, a strong support system and a personal sense of DO SOMETHING, we can do anything. Everyone is worthy of fulfillment. Go read his story, and about his Push For Change.

I was able to talk about my passion: voting. I did a piece on voter apathy, which is obviously much better in person, because commentary a la my charming self is pretty awesome…but in any case, I’ve had a request to put the powerpoint slides up here for others. I’m happy to oblige!

VoterApathy

#GlobeDebate and the Economy

Thursday night was the Globe and Mail federal leader’s debate on the economy. It included Tom Mulcair, Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau. It inexplicably did not include Elizabeth May. What a sham.

It was hosted online and you can watch it back on YouTube, but I’m going to give you my admittedly biased opinion on the main points and key takeaways. ::cracks knuckles:: let’s do this…

  1. To indicate the end of time a leader got to answer a question, we had a light ding sound which is so adorable I can barely stand it.
  2. All three leaders seemed like they were just hell bent on getting to their talking points. Meaning essentially that they seemed not to answer the very pointed questions the (terrible) moderator was presenting. That’s depressing because we can read all that on the internet you dopes, tell us something detailed, something concrete, something we like and makes us want to vote for you.
  3. Trudeau seemed heated, which made him come across juvenile…but then had the unexpected effect of riling up Harper. I’ve rarely seen him so obviously rattled, and it was interesting though it didn’t make me think he gets easily emotionally tumultuous. It was a distracting tactic, if indeed it was a tactic at all. Points landed if so.
  4. When we talk of Environment and try to marry it to the Economy, you lose average Canadians. We can understand that there’s money tied to environmental decisions, but we can’t grasp how that can change. I don’t know how to solve this divide, where it applies to cap & trade and not directly referring to oil in pipelines.
  5. The Liberals are admitting straight out of the gates that they’ll run three years of deficits. It’s an odd move, but I kind of like it. They basically say their going to spend on infrastructure and the only way to afford that is to go into some debt. From a practical standpoint, this makes sense to me. I confess to not grasping the long term possible effects of then trying to eek out of three consecutive planned deficits when we manage to get into deficits even without planning and then find it difficult to get out of.
  6. There was also talk of an Infrastructure Bank which…wut?
  7. Perhaps one of the more useful pieces of the debate centred around immigration. We of course discussed Syria and refugees, and well we should. There were a few slam dunk points made- one by Mulcair highlighting the job gap for immigrants with foreign degrees we don’t recognize. (This is a problem. We have highly qualified professionals who can’t contribute to our economy in the capacity they should be able to. We don’t recognize their degrees- in medicine, engineering etc- and we lose not only their talents, but their taxes and spending power.) I loved the line from Mulcair aimed at Harper: “Stop using security as an excuse to do nothing.” Because yes. No one is proposing you don’t background check for our national security, there are ways to increase our flow of immigration without compromising the secure way in which we process these would-be Canadians. The fact is, Canada does profit from immigration. We need a smoother system.
  8. Talk of the long form Census coming back under a Liberal government and YES PLEASE. Who thought less data is better? (I know who.) We can’t make informed long term decisions without the proper data on Canadians. We need the census to tell us where people are living, how they are living, where we could be spending more, where there are gaps in services, surpluses in funding…the lack of that means more guessing games, and that’s expensive and inefficient.
  9. I suggested on Twitter that future debates include less questions and more opportunity for open discussion. I don’t know if that will prevent all the yelling and talking over each other like belligerent children, but sonofabillygoat you guys…STOP INTERRUPTING EACH OTHER. And stop talking to the camera. It’s weird. I hate it.
  10. Here’s my major takeaway for Canadians from this economic debate: be very suspicious of a promise to lower taxes. This so rarely happens. And when it does, they get it back in another way. Trudeau is saying the Liberal plan is to raise taxes for the wealthiest 1% (barf, political rhetoric, barf) and lower them for the middle class. Pump the brakes. What will end up happening is that rise in taxes may fly (offering more $$ for infrastructure, he says) but the middle class taxes will not go down. Think of how you run your house: you live up to (or over) your means. The government is no different. If ever there is a time where you were collecting money repeatedly from a source, would you consider it a good idea for your overall economic growth to say to that source: “Nah, I don’t need that.” You wouldn’t. You like those dollars coming in, you’re already spending them yourself. So is the government. They are not giving you back your money now that they already have it.

There were a disappointing few mentions of Aboriginal Canadians, an embarrassing one mention of Veterans, and no mention of our military at all. So. Predictable if not depressing and uninspiring.

My 9 year old daughter asked me to tell her in the morning who won the debate. And I laughed. Because I knew there would be no clear winner, and for me there was not. Their performances were lacklustre and uninspiring. They basically presented their same talking points over and over, trying desperately to weave a new one in to even loosely tied debate points. The debate sold me on no candidate.

I will say it did give me enough information that I can now see where my own personal loyalties lie when it comes to what I want for the economy in our next federal government. So now I can go and read their party platforms and see where they sit on my spectrum of acceptability. I don’t think there are any slam dunks here, but I am thinking I’ll find at least a few points I can attach a possible vote to.

What happens in a Canadian election? Let’s follow your vote!

(One day when I’m super talented, I’ll make you a fun video about this, but for now I’m still very uncool, so fun words will have to suffice.)

Peter Mansbridge is airing some interviews with the party leaders this week. He did them outside which I can only imagine his producers were less than thrilled about accomodating because it’s rarely a good idea to have Canadian geese honking their way through Justin Trudeau’s incredibly vague three point plan on demoralizing ISIS. What has come up in the first few interviews is an apparent confusion point about how our government is indeed formed. That sounds crazytown, right? Like, shouldn’t you have to complete some kind of proficiency exam in order to run for Prime Minister which includes you knowing things like how our votes add up to who is in power? The answer is yes, they should know this. I’m not shocked they don’t. I won’t be shocked if you don’t. So let’s try to help.

Let’s follow your vote.

October 19, 2015, 5:47pm. <insert Hockey Night in Canada theme song here. The old one. C’mon now.> Sure you worked all day, but you know it’s pretty badass to vote, so you strut through the doors of your polling station. You visited this sweet website, The Voting Project (!!), and got all the info you needed. You know who you’re voting for. Inside you find a desk or table, you give a sincere “good evening” to those Elections Canada volunteers, because they’ve had a long day & you’re Canadian, and that’s what we do here. You present your approved identification, and they hand you a ballot, and give you some instructions on how to fill it out properly, how to fold it when you’re finished, and where to take it. You nod, and walk behind an odd makeshift cardboard fort thing. It’s your fort. Forts are fun. You colour in the dot, you fold it correctly (probably) and bring it to the clerk. Depending on your particular station’s technology, you feed your filled out ballot FACE DOWN into a machine that scans and records your vote, or you drop your still folded ballot into a box where your vote will be counted by human brains later.

Sample ballot- Elections Canada

Then you go home and wait. While you wait, your vote is very busy.

(Parts of this are fictional for fun, cause there isn’t a line up outside Parliament Hill on election night, you guys. Let’s just be fun and consider it a metaphor of sorts. Don’t ruin my fun here, political dorks.)

It can get tallied in a few ways. First and foremost, it’s added to the pile of all the other votes for the same candidate you voted for. The candidate with the biggest pile of votes in your area becomes your Member of Parliament. (More on what they do tomorrow.) Let’s just say your vote was for the person who becomes the MP of your riding, so your vote’s job is not yet done. Your new MP takes his/her winning pile and gets in it’s party line with all the other winning MPs from allllll the other ridings across Canada. There are 338 of them, Ontario has the most and each of the territories only have 1. (One Member of Parliament for the entire territory. Crazytowns.)

So outside Parliament Hill, there’s a Liberal line, a Conservative line, a Green line and an NDP line. One by one, the elected MPs take a number and take a seat in their section of the House of Commons like polite Canadians.

In its simplest form: the party with the most seats wins the election and the leader of that party becomes Prime Minister of Canada.

Only it’s rarely been so simple. Many things can happen, and it starts to get tricky. Because we have so many parties to choose from, our votes can get quite spread out. And we have to do some fancy footwork to form a government that most closely represents how Canadians voted.

Scenario 1: Majority Government (hahahaha…) The magic number of seats needed for a government to declare a majority is 170 seats. 170 Members of Parliament voted in by Canadians would all be from the same party. That party’s leader becomes Prime Minister and they’re probably able to pass legislation quite easily. (Ok, so there’s an extra step in here which involves basically asking the Governor General and by extension, the Queen of England for the right to form the government we’ve selected but it’s just a formality. It’s kind of funny and kind of depressing at the same time. Like, “Mom, I own a home and pay my own bills and junk but can I buy this TV with my own dollars? Thanks.” Whatever.)

Our Canadian voting system is based on plurality/first-past-the-post. Coles Notes version of plurality is: the party with the highest number of votes is the winner- we are very careful not to say “the majority of votes” because that means something different altogether (see above). See also: Could we BE more Canadian?!!? (We’ll talk election reform soon.)

Scenario 2(a): Minority Government, the clean version. There aren’t 170 seats held by any one party, but instead they are spread usually between two parties. The party with the most votes gets to form the government, and the party with the second most essentially becomes second in power. This is unstable, as you can imagine. Usually the second party just makes it incredibly difficult to get anything passed in the House of Commons and eventually the governing party, through the Prime Minister, can no longer hold the confidence of the House and calls another election. (This is so bastardized, but it’s the quick and dirty version.)

Scenario 2(b): Minority Governmentthe coalition version. So this is where it gets super confusing and, in my opinion, pretty shady. So this version assumes that not only is there very few more votes for the winning party, there isn’t even that many votes separating the second and third place parties. Canadians, they just ain’t really sure. So this gives at least two parties an idea: “What if we joined together and formed a coalition? Together, our two parties have tons of MPs and we could pass some laws and not piss off too many people! High fives, new team!” So this can happen in two ways: the barely winning party strengthens its top position by bringing another party & more MPs into its weak hold (which is what Mansbridge was baiting Harper to admit he wants to do) OR the second and third place parties join together and just stick it to the winning party, virtually no legislation gets passed and the governing party loses confidence of the House and we’re back to an election again again again. AGAIN.

I hate the coalition option. I didn’t vote for you jointly together, I maybe wouldn’t have voted for you at all had you told me from the beginning you wanted to partner up with that guy. You’re taking my vote and playing with it for your own power. No. Also: no more goddamn elections before it’s time. We can’t keep up, folks. We just voted for…something, I can’t even remember what, but I’m pretty sure there were signs up and I’m confused and overwhelmed and if you’re not going to just accept the defeat I fed you, then what is the damn point anyway?!

So this is over 1200 words on the possibilities that may arise on October 19th, 2015. It’s complicated.

Your vote is important, it really really is. It does good work.

Income Splitting, and why government money is suspicious

Stephen Harper, current Prime Minister (for like, ever) announced in the fall of 2014 that his government was offering all of us Canadians the choice at income splitting. And in a rookie yet effective PR move, he packaged it as the “Family Tax Cut”.

Canadian Loonie- flickr user JayPIncome Tax Splitting can get…confusing. It basically allows a higher earning spouse to transfer up to $50,000 of their income to the lower earning spouse in order to avoid the higher earner being taxed at a higher rate. Sounds awesome, yes? Then you should be suspicious, because ain’t nobody givin out dollars for free. To sweeten the deal, Harper was all “here’s this sweet new tax break!…AND all these extra Universal Child Care dollars for your kiddos, you’re welcome, Families!” :: finger guns :: (And then his handlers were all, “we’re calling an election in the summer so let’s wait and give em all a big wad of cash riiiiight as we announce!” Which is…typical if not gross.)

Immediately I pumped the mental brakes. “Is that…hush money?” I thought to myself? It might be. Cause if you took it all at face value, it looks like the majority of Canadians who need a tax break and help with the costs of raising a family, are getting a solid from the Canadian government. More money every month, and less taxes owed yearly? Whew, feels like a weight off, certainly. And the truth is, for some, it just might end up being a breath of fresh air. But there’s a whiff of something shady in it for me and I’m gonna explain what that is.

The $60/mo increase in Universal Child Care and the extension of that program until your kid turns 18 is nice as a month-to-month realization. Money in your bank account from the government is sweet. The program, however, is a lot like throwing a bone to the majority of people that the Family Tax Cut doesn’t help. Single parents, lower-income families, and spouses who earn close to the same won’t realize the savings of income splitting because it doesn’t apply to them. Which is unfortunate because it should be glaringly obvious that at least two of these are the Canadian families most in need of tax breaks. Never mind that the Universal Child Care benefit is taxable income. Actually, do mind. It may end up being minimal, but the government is effectively adding more to the bottom of the pile it’s claiming to be scooping the top off of.

John Geddes did an early analysis of the program for Maclean’s magazine and found that income splitting mostly benefitted both those families making over $180thousand a year (LOLOLOLs…) and those between $60K & $120K. High and middle-class, basically. Great! So that leaves a growing gap between the middle class and those below it, and provides an increase in benefits to the highest earners who actually don’t need it to like…survive. It leaves me cold. In a social way, it also promotes the traditional idea that one person in the home will be earning much much more than the other. Which? Eff that ish.

I’m no economist, I can barely math on my best day, but it seems to me like we could scale the income splitting benefits to apply an increase in benefit for those families earning below $60K. Or shift the increase in UCC instead to the Canada Child Tax Benefit, which is non-taxable and based on your income- meaning the lower earners get the greatest amount of benefit. (Duh.)