Depending on how you look at it, Oak Bay author Andrew MacLeod’s book A Better Place on Earth either took a couple months to complete or a lifetime based on past experience.
“I remember being a child seven or eight years old and walking around with my dad and there were people who were panhandling,” he said.
His father’s reply boiled down to, “Hey this is Canada, everything’s OK”.
“I accepted that to some degree,” MacLeod said.
During his stint writing for Monday Magazine from 2002 to 2007 he delved into the issues as welfare rates stagnated.
“At the same time we saw this explosion of homelessness,” he recalls. “For years I would write about poverty issues … When you reframe it as inequality, it brings everybody into it.”
A Better Place on Earth provides tangible suggestions to reduce inequality and increase political will to change public policies on taxation, benefits and services to battle inequality.
“We’re at a point where inequality has been going up everywhere, it’s a worldwide thing … In B.C. it’s been going up faster,” he said. “A lot of the decisions that get made happen at the provincial or local level. As far as I know, this is the first [book] to bring it down to ‘what are the factors at the local levels that drive inequality?’”
His perspective comes from growing up in a home with a decent income, and now heading his own double-income family living in Oak Bay.
“I come from a background of privileges … so my interest comes from there, wanting for others what we want for ourselves,” MacLeod said.
“It’s a middle-class response of looking around my city.”
A Better Place on Earth explores the reasons for, and consequences of, inequality. Featuring interviews with economists, politicians, policy-makers and activists, it also gives voice to those living on the edge: a single parent whose child support payments are clawed back by the government; a 25-year-old struggling to live on disability payments; a security guard who isn’t given bathroom breaks.
“It’s solutions oriented,” MacLeod said. “It lays out things we could do if we were serious about reducing inequality … It really is optimistic about the options.”
The book launches on Tuesday, April 28 at Bard and Banker in Victoria.