Where's Canada's Bernie Sanders? Where's British Columbia's Elizabeth Warren?

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      In the early 1970s, Canadians could be pretty smug about their station in life.

      The dollar was trading at par with the U.S. greenback in 1972 and even rose to US$1.04 by 1974.

      Canada wasn't mired in the Vietnam War. The dashing prime minister of that era, Pierre Trudeau, was not caught up in a career-ending scandal like Watergate, which brought down U.S. president Richard Nixon.

      And British Columbia was governed by a jolly, progressive premier named Dave Barrett. He created a provincial ambulance service, protected farmland, took human rights seriously, and expanded benefits for the elderly.

      Canada was a bastion of progressive thinking. People in this country looked upon those narrow-minded Americans as being out of step (even if Ralph Nader was occasionallly proving them wrong).

      Nowadays, many Canadians continue to feel a sense of smugness when they compare their prime minister, Justin Trudeau, with Republican frontrunner Donald Trump.

      But when it comes to tackling income inequality and the growing gap between rich and poor, Canadian politicians have a great deal to learn from two U.S. senators: Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

      At the age of 74, Sanders has ignited the passions of young Americans by railing against the rich and promising dramatic action to address climate change. He encouraged millennials to seize the agenda and save their country.

      "You make change not by sitting down with Mitch McConnell," Sanders says in the video below. "You make change when millions of people in this country demand change. That's the way change has always taken place."

      Bernie Sanders points out that real change requires mass movements.

      Sanders made economic inequality the cornerstone of his campaign. The video below explains how there has been an enormous transfer of wealth from the middle class and the poor to multimillionaires and billionaires.

      "Since 1985, the share of the nation's wealth owned by the bottom 90 percent—90 percent—has plummeted from 36 percent to just 23 percent," Sanders says.

      Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, has zeroed in on how large corporations dedicate far more of their earnings to shareholders. And that, she says, has left workers in the lurch.

      Elizabeth Warren highlights how companies thrive and workers suffer.

      Both Warren and Sanders are wildly popular with millennials, who feel they've been economically shafted.

      Yet in Canada, there don't seem to be politicians prepared to make income inequality their raison d'etre in the same way that Sanders and Warren have.

      There are a number of reasons for this. Canada's income inequality isn't as pronounced as the situation south of the border.

      Also, Canadian political parties act in a more collective fashion whereas U.S. legislators tend to be more freewheeling and independent.

      In addition, the Canadian media is fairly conservative and somewhat reluctant to give a voice to politicians ready to condemn billionaires like Warren and Sanders do.

      At the same time, there's a great deal of pent-up rage among younger voters, particularly in Vancouver where housing prices have reached stratospheric levels.

      Some politicians, such as Vancouver-Point Grey NDP MLA David Eby, have made inroads by highlighting the scope of the problem and advancing solutions. Others, such as Vancouver-Kensington NDP MLA Mable Elmore, have worked hard to build up grassroots movements, which have the potential to bring about real change.

      But the NDP's tendency to want to avoid taking risks, both at the provincial and federal levels, often holds it back from truly galvanizing the public.

      One day, I expect we'll see a Canadian version of Sanders or Warren as dissatisfaction with the growing weath gap sinks in among larger numbers of Canadians. The seething anger is already apparent in the blogosphere and in the comment sections on websites.

      Whether the NDP is the vehicle for this type of change, however, remains an open question. As things stand now, the party still seems a bit too cautious to take the kind of risks that have made Sanders and Warren so beloved by progressives in the United States.