Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What you do to One, you do to All

I've just begun a new blog, The Long View, to indulge my musings on the various books that I read my way through. I figure it gives me some justification to read as much as I do and buy as many books as I do.

One of the books I'm reading right now is Tomorrow's God: Our Greatest Spiritual Challenge by Neale Donald Walsch. I was just blogging about how his challenge to us is to realize that we are all one. That there is no such thing as separation. That every part of this Creation is also the Creator. Y'know, that kind of stuff.

And then this article came across my Twitter stream (Tweet-stream?). Jason Kenney, the Conservative Minister for Citizenship and Immigration, deleted any mention of equal rights for non-hetero citizens. Really? And then, according to the article, he was surprised that it had happened. Really.

It seems to me that this is a perfect example of not doing unto others, and not following any sort of belief that we are all one.

At least to me, if he had these beliefs, he would be unable to ostracize and continually villianise even one person, let alone an entire demographic of the population. And let's be honest, he's been on record against same-sex rights for a long time.

And, to be clear. I care because I believe we are all One. What we do to another, we ultimately do to ourselves.

That is why I care about equal rights for all citizens.

That is why I care about human rights for all people.

That is why I care that 20% of the world's population has 80% of the wealth.

And, that is why I care that we are devastating our natural environment and resources.

We have been terrible stewards of our world. I think it is time to change that.

Harper's Canada is not my Canada. And that's why I'm running for the Greens.

So there.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Missing Aboriginal Women and Missing Federal Funding

I'm simply passing this information along from the Facebook group, Proud to be a Member of That "Left-Wing Fringe Group" Called Women,* with the fervent hope that you will take action and write to your MPs, Minister Guergis and Mr. Harper. Our country has a very poor record when it comes to the treatment of aboriginal populations and aboriginal women have borne the brunt of this mistreatment.

Please help this group continue its work by making the Conservatives aware that we do care - about every person's rights and dignity.

Thank you.


From Elizabeth Pickett, February 15 at 5:56pm

Minister of State for the Status of Women Helena Guergis has made several announcements over the last ten days with respect to small funding grants to various groups across Canada, particularly those encouraging and coordinating educational projects for women entrepreneurs fitting with SWC's theme Strong Women, Strong Canada. There has been no announcement about funding for the Sisters in Spirit initiative of the Native Women's Association of Canada. From the Winnipeg Free Press :

"We haven't heard anything," said Sisters in Spirit director Kate Rexe. "The government is silent on the issue."

With a grant of $5 million, Sisters in Spirit spent the last five years compiling a database of more than 520 women who have disappeared or been killed over the last 40 years. The group prepared tool kits for families and police to use when a woman goes missing and developed policies and programs to help stop the cycle of violence.

Rexe said the Sisters group is prepared to begin implementing policies and community programs aimed at three specific areas -- the justice system, child welfare and poverty. But that's been on hold for months because Ottawa won't say if it plans to keep funding the work.

"It's unbelievably frustrating," Rexe said. "We have all the knowledge, the momentum. We can actually start to implement change, but we don't even know if we can keep planning."

A year ago, Status of Women Minister Helena Guergis said she was working on extending the project. "I want you to know, I've already engaged in the process of what Sisters in Spirit Two would look like," Guergis said at the Status of Women committee meeting Feb. 12, 2009.

But a spokeswoman for Guergis would not say Friday whether funding for Sisters in Spirit is forthcoming, and said in an email Ottawa has asked NWAC to share its database with police.

Please support Canadian First Nations sisters in spirit and write, phone or fax Helena Guergis, the PM, opposition critics, opposition leaders and your MP demanding full funding for this critical initiative. First Nations women must be the leaders in resolving the national shame of missing and murdered Aboriginal women - they are our experts. The RCMP and provincial and local police have miserable track records with respect to these tragedies and must work in partnership with women to create effective strategies for their resolution.

PM Harper

House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6
Telephone: 613-992-4211
Fax: 613-941-6900

Helena Guergis
Minister for Status of Women

733 Confederation Building
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A6
Phone: 613-992-4224
Fax: 613 992-2164

Suzanne L. Clément
Deputy Head

Michael Ignatieff

Anita Neville (Lib MP, Winnipeg South Central & party critic on SWC)

Jack Layton

Irene Mathyssen (NDP MP, London-Fanshawe & party critic on SWC)

Libby Davies (NDP MP Vancouver East)

Olivia Chow (NDP MP Trinity-Spadina)

Nicole Demers (Bloc Québécois MP Laval & party critic on SWC)

Find Your Member of Parliament

* The name of this group refers to a comment Mr. Harper made in a supposedly closed-door meeting in Thunder Bay where he commented on the cancellation of the Court Challenges program and proclaimed that they had shut down the influence of left-wing fringe groups. It's at 3:40 of the video though you might enjoy his bragging about the cancellation of universal daycare at about 3:30. Sadly, one of, if not the major beneficiary of the Court Challenges program had been the equity and rights of women through many cases. It was a major loss to equity in this country and it slipped right by, almost un-noticed and un-challenged. We might as well change it to the Minister of State Against the Status of Women

Sunday, February 14, 2010

If democracy doesn't function, it isn't the fault of politicians

[Letter number 2 in what will most likely be a series of Letters to the Editor of the Era-Banner that I am not allowed to send because I am a declared candidate for an election that will happen sometime in the future. I wish I had realized that when I declared for the Green Party I would lose my voice at the Era-Banner but such is life. Now I get to make my letters longer. Ha!]

Dear Editor,

Re: Voter turnout low because politicians lie, letter from Mr. L. Rothwell, Feb 11 / Re: If you care about democracy, vote, editorial, Jan 28

With all due respect to Mr. Rothwell I must challenge his hypothesis that when "80 per cent of voters... stay at home. Then, maybe, politicians will get the message."

While there are a few directions my disagreement could take - including my belief that when 80% of voters stay home we will live in a true oligarchy where only the select few have any say in government and tyranny will reign and Canada will weep. Though, this scenario is fairly close to the mark with respect to municipal elections. Anyways.

That was not the point.

What I really wanted to dispute was Mr. Rothwell's obvious anger towards 'politicians' and his categorization of them as "people who lack integrity and ethics."

Of course, as a recently declared political candidate I take it a little personally that because of my political choice I suddenly have no integrity nor ethics. I actually consider myself to be a person possessing both integrity and a high ethical standard.

But that is still not the point, though closer to it. The point is - there are no politicians. There are merely people, just like Mr. Rothwell and myself, that have chosen to join in the political process.

Politicians are not usually born. They are made. They are people who have decided to pursue a public life - hopefully in the service of their country and the best interests of the electorate.

Do these people sometimes lose focus and become swayed by the pretty, shiny danglings of lobby groups? Yes.

Do they sometimes pursue power to the exclusion of everything else. Yes.

Do these people sometimes let us down? Yes. Often.

Do we have a democratic crisis in Canada? Yes. I believe we do.

But my point is that sitting at home and whinging about it is not the best use of one's time.

Stand up. Get engaged. Make your voice count.

And if you can't find a single political candidate that you can trust - then take the leap and become a candidate. For municipal, provincial, or federal politics quality candidates are desperately needed.

Of course, it would be super-spiffy if you would support me and my bid to be the first Green MP for Newmarket-Aurora, but if you can't, then get your butt out there and run against me.

I also have an issue with your contention that "the population is a lot more educated these days." Hardly. When the anti-proroguing rally was being organized most people did not even know that our democracy had been suspended. They didn't understand what it meant. And they didn't know why they should care. Some were happy to get the 'liars' out of Ottawa for a while. People know far more about what Britney Spears is up to than what our PM is doing showboating in Vancouver.

But that isn't the politicians fault. If there are issues with our democracy it is because we expect 'someone else' to take care of it for us.

We are the change we wish to see. We are the smallest unit of a democratic society. And it is up to us to keep it safe and keep it strong. If we don't have anyone to vote for then it is up to us to find them - or to become them. That is what I did. And it is what I encourage everyone else to do.

That is why I am so proud of local organizers like Liz, Neale, Nick, Carter and everyone else who helped make the January 23rd rally such a success - and who are now organizing a public meeting in Aurora on February 25.

Holding the Line on Democracy will take a frank look at what is happening in our society and, hopefully, send people away feeling more educated, more empowered, and more motivated to take action to keep our democracy strong.

Mr. Rothwell, I am personally inviting you to join us. It's kind of fun to be around other people who care as passionately as you obviously do.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Suddenly, Harper cares about women?!

... oh! Wait. It's just our uterus' that he cares about. Okay, no change there.

A funny thing happened a couple of weeks ago. In his inaugural speech as 2010 President of the G8, Mr. Harper proclaimed that he was very, very concerned about maternal and infant health and that, during his term, he was going to champion these two causes (Millennium Development Goals #4 and #5) and bring much needed attention and funding to them - on a global basis. No. Really. He said it.

Immediately, other commentators began to question his good intentions. Mr. Ignatieff, for one, thought it a bit odd and discussed how "Harper has made cuts to the status of women and equality programs, while salary gaps between men and women are increasing in Canada" and that, perhaps, Mr. Harper could "start showing at home in Canada the same commitment to women."

And this is all well and good. I expect certain people to have problems with everything that Mr. Harper announces.

But when Stephen Lewis has problems with the same announcements, then my ears prick up. Why? Because I have seen no evidence that he is anything other than a profoundly humane and compassionate man in a very challenging and frustrating position, exposed to the most heart-breaking conditions on Earth and managing to carry on year after year. To him I listen.

His critique is that it seems odd that Mr. Harper would trumpet Canada's burgeoning awareness of the issues of maternal and infant health when the G8 has been working on securing funding for the past year. Note that the MDGs were first developed leading up to 2000 with a due date of 2015 - sometimes it just takes a while to get the ball rolling, y'know.

In addition, Mr. Lewis noted that none of the other MDGs were mentioned and that it didn't "include sexual violence, child marriage, sexual trafficking, female genital mutilation, economic autonomy, political representation, land rights or inheritance rights. It include[d] none of the panoply of women's issues which consign women to subordinate positions around the world."

Anyway, I'm sure that members of the G8 hope that Canada will stop actively opposing humanitarian causes and denying human rights and freedoms to as many groups as they possibly can. I wish I could believe Mr. Harper but I have seen no evidence that he cares about anyone except for white, straight males, and preferably corporate oil executives at that.

Especially since he considers women to be a 'left-wing fringe group'.

The audacity of Mr. Harper is threatening to make my brain explode - is this his attempt at a kinder, gentler Harper to try and make us forget that he is a cynical, arrogant, autocratic leader who has shown only contempt for Canadian citizens and our democracy. Is this a reaction to the pro-democracy, anti-prorogue rallies that occurred all across Canada last month?

Probably. He honestly seems to believe that we will be easily lulled back to sleep with the belief that he is going to take care of the world's poorest and most vulnerable citizens. When he doesn't care about those same people right here.

How about raising the quality of life, or, heck, even the standard of living for our own aboriginal populations? How about taking care of the poorest and most vulnerable right here?

How about that Mr. Harper?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Kevin Page - economic hero?

I was trying to find out more about the structural deficit predicted by the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) when I wandered across this groovy article in Macleans on the man himself, Kevin Page.

I tell ya, it's a rosy picture they paint of Mr. Page. I have a bit of a crush now. And he's a Queen's grad. And he said this:

"These days Page sees signs of Ottawa sliding back into a pattern of spilling red ink year after year. The Tories have cut taxes without curbing spending, and an aging population looms. 'This problem is going to get bigger and bigger and bigger,' he says."

But that wasn't the information I wanted so I went to the PBO site. Much better. No frills, just a statement of their mandate and a list of recent reports.

I must say I'm looking forward to a report on whether the economic stimulus is working - the issue that sent me looking in the first place.

I think the best part about the PBO is that he was part of the accountability and transparency measures put in place by Mr. Harper when newly elected, measures that I am sure he now regrets but that keep the rest of us informed.

I'll keep you up-to-date.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Now *that* was some impressive negotiating

The media is all abuzz today about the wonderful deal finally reached between American and Canadian officials to exempt Canadian businesses from the 'Buy American' clause of the $787 billion infrastructure aid program set up in the US last year. After months of tough negotiations Ministers van Loan and Cannon proudly made the announcement this morning.

Fabulous! That is great news for Canadian businesses...



Except that there is only about $75 billion of the money left - less than 10%.

Oh yes, and the deadline for proposals is February 17th. So our businesses have, hmm, let's see, less than two weeks to actually get proposals together and compete for that money.

Oh! And this agreement only applies to this particular program - other legislation that has 'Buy American' clauses is not included - though there is apparently a negotiated fast track. We'll be fighting this battle over and over again - meaning we will be always slightly behind American companies in the Request for Proposal (RFP) process.

Oh! And it only applies to the 37 states that are WTO signatories. However ALL Canadian provinces are included.

What did we have to offer up in return? We just had to agree to one teensy little WTO clause. One small little clause that opens every municipal, provincial and federal RFP process, in perpetuity, to American and European Union companies.

Well. Seems like they made a great deal. Well done Steve!

So what is really happening here?

Seems to me like Harper is using this issue as an excuse to further his plans to fully integrate the economy of Canada under the U.S. After being thwarted at the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) he has found another way to circumvent citizen pressure and preference. This article mentions how "the new deal also furthers Harper's goal of breaking down interprovincial trade barriers and gives momentum to his push to have a single securities regulator."

All on the pretext of saving Canadian exports.

We'll see. But I don't think so.

(P.S. I confess I am writing this without having seen the full agreement - as soon as I can check it out I'll let you know if I'm wrong about any of the points.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Rally Letter to the Editor - alas!

I was reading the Tuesday edition of the Era-Banner this morning and enjoying their excellent coverage of the pro-democracy rally on Saturday when I started to notice some interesting facts being tossed about on page 10. 'Facts' about session lengths and prorogue frequencies. Stuff like that.

Disagreeing with the numbers, I sat down and wrote a very nice Letter to the Editor setting out my version of the facts.

Unfortunately, I received a note from the Editor, Ted McFadden, that it is their policy to *not* publish letters from political party candidates.

Since I'm the new Green candidate I have no voice - even though I believe my letter was fairly non-partisan.

So there you have it. And now you'll have my letter, because I'm posting it here. Gotta love the Net.

Dear Editor,

Thank you for the excellent coverage of the pro-democracy rally this past weekend in Newmarket. It was very exciting to be part of the event and an honour to be one of the speakers. John Taylor made what I think is a very important point: that the loss of democracy is always preceded by seemingly minor or technical incursions and silence on the part of the people. So it was with great pride that I joined the other demonstrators.

Contrary to Ms. Brown's statement, I do not think it was the appropriate time to end the session. There were 37 pieces of the government's own legislation still in consideration that were killed and their mandate had in no way been fulfilled.

I was a little surprised by what I perceived as inaccurate statements in your article regarding the last session of Parliament and proroguing in general. The last session was only 128 days, not 228, this can easily be confirmed by examining the parliamentary calendar for 2009. As well, the average is not 2 prorogues per year - there have only been 105 prorogues since Confederation. Finally, the average number of sitting days in a session since 1982 when the parliamentary calendar was introduced has been 183, not 128.

If the Conservative government could come up with a viable reason to prorogue Parliament, there would not be an issue, but the cynicism and arrogance with which our current Prime Minister has called not one, but two, prorogues in an attempt to avoid scrutiny is an affront that the people of Canada are not prepared to accept. Thank goodness and thank you again for your coverage.

Vanessa Long
Newmarket-Aurora Green Candidate

(Here are the sources I used to get my information: You can count the sitting days here: Parliamentary Calendar and the Liberals have an interesting article on session length and the history of prorogation.