By Franco Cortese
The Canadian Longevity Alliance (CLA) is the recently-inaugurated Canadian arm of the International Longevity Alliance, an international organization dedicated to social advocacy, activism and lobbying for an increase in the funding allocated by government and academia to life-extension research. The kinds of initiatives practiced by the ILA include both grassroots-level activism and petitioning, higher-level petitioning to larger governmental and regulatory bodies, and proposals for legislative change and reform regarding both the funding life-extension research receives as well as the regulations applying the research, development and proliferation of emerging medical therapies. The CLA will focus on representing the mission and vision of the ILA, and their policy and law-change initiatives, on the Canadian front. A shorter-term focus will be forming a network of Canadian activists, providing activists with free resources (like printable signs, petitions and informative literature to distribute to interested onlookers) to help reduce the logistical challenges facing activists and demonstration-organizers in organizing and implementing an activism demonstration, encouraging activists to become advocates on behalf of the CLA at speaking engagements and events, encouraging activists to directly participate in education and outreach initiatives, and organizing effective and actionable activist demonstrations in Canadian locales. A longer-term focus is formulating law-change proposals, tailored to the specificities and unique legislative landscape of Canadian law, and pushing for their review by the appropriate Canadian legislative and regulatory bodies. We also encourage active debate, discussion, research and scholarship amongst our members and the public on ways to increase the effectiveness of longevity advocacy, activism and lobbying and to make such activities more actionable. One specific message relating to effective political lobbying for longevity research that we would like to espouse in a more detailed and formal fashion is the following: that if life-extension is to become a serious political topic, it should ally itself very explicitly in terms of policy and platform with notion of (1) the longevity dividend and (2) the notion, advocated most prominently by David Kekich of MaxLife Foundation, that healthcare in general and life-extension therapies in particular will constitute one of the most lucrative investment sectors in the coming decades. Furthermore, longevity politics should mount its call in tandem with the aging of the baby-boomers, who constitute a very large portion of the voting demographic. Never before will so many voters be so old, and so ready to see the appeal of the longevity dividend. While many attempts to bring life-extension into the realm of politics have come from underlying humanitarian concerns (e.g. that 100,000 people die per day due to age-related diseases and ill-health that are in principle preventable, and that this constitutes a humanitarian crisis), and legitimately so, we feel that longevity will have a better likelihood of becoming a viable political topic by focusing on the massive economic benefits that could result from investment in life-extension therapies, for instance avoiding the enormous strain on the healthcare system expected to result from (ineffectively) treating the age-related diseases of the aging baby-boomers once their age-related diseases have progressed. By focusing on economics, longevity could become a viable political topic with more weight and more pull.
The CLA is proud to join the growing number of national branches of the International Longevity Alliance, and to support their mission, vision, and initiatives on Canadian ground. Please visit the group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/LongevityCanada/