Further to my open letter to #RBE, another open letter to @PremierBradWall

the regina mom attended a public meeting with representatives of the Regina Board of Education regarding Ecole Connaught Community School.  The following open letter to the Premier follows the open letter to the RBE published in the Regina Leader Post earlier this week.

Dear Mr. Premier,

No doubt my constant challenges and snide remarks on Twitter are annoying to you and your staff.  That’s kind of the point, you know.  It was always tit-for-tat in my family of origin.  Yes, I do try to be a better person now, but sometimes I fall back into old patterns.

It seems the Regina Board of Education (RBE) is also falling back into old patterns.  Yet again, they’re trying to dupe the Cathedral community.  Through years of neglect, the RBE has created a crisis at Ecole Connaught Community School.  Two construction firms with which the RBE conducts regular business have declared the school to be in such terrible shape that the cost to fix it is prohibitive.  Yet, neither of those firms are known as experts in the area of heritage buildings.  In fact, both P3 Architects and J.C. Kenyon are known for their involvement in new builds in the province.  Are there no conflict of interest guidelines within the Ministries of Education or Highways & Infrastructure for local school boards to follow?

And so, based on questionable data, the RBE decided that a rebuild is the only option and will proceed to convince you and your government to fund it.  This is in direct opposition to what residents and the school community have requested.  The RBE has furthermore refused to work with the community and allow heritage conservationists, funded by private citizens, into the school to conduct tests and to provide expert opinions on the matter.  I therefore hold to what I stated in a March 2013 letter to you regarding this matter,

As a 25-year resident of the area I draw on my fundamental human right, as guaranteed by the United Nations, to insist you preserve the building. The real value of Connaught has not been properly assessed. The non-market aesthetic, cultural and other values of a refurbished school have not been properly accounted for. Furthermore, the environmental, social, and economic cost-benefit analysis of alternatives requested in public consultation meetings have not been addressed – in essence, the impacts of redevelopment on our community, our property values, our local businesses, our environment and other amenities such as the Connaught library have not been properly assessed nor communicated to local residents.

It is time for the Province of Saskatchewan to insist that the Regina Board of Education take its fiduciary responsibility seriously.  But to do so, the Province must take seriously its role as Steward of a nationally-recognized historic school.

Really, Mr. Premier, there is an easy fix for this.  Send the RBE back to the drawing board.  Otherwise, according to the rumblings I heard tonight, you’d best be prepared for lawsuits.  And, quite possibly, for me to fall back into old habits.

Sincerely,

B. L. Wagner
Regina SK

cc: Minister of Education
Deputy Minister of Education
Minister of Highways & Infrastructure
Deputy Minister of Highways & Infrastructure
Regina Board of Education Trustees
Regina Leader Post
Prairie Dog
Metro News
Save Our Connaught
Real Renewal

To work, to work!

the regina mom is checking in to say that she’s in Regina Beach for a month, working as Writer-in-Residence for the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre.  She thinks it’s a great gig!  If you want to follow her meanderings there, check out her other blog.

 

Politics over poetry again

the regina mom again steps away from poetry-writing and into political writing because she thinks it’s that damned important!  And who knows?  She might get a poem out of it, too, one day.

trm sees more and more rightwing, American-style politics crossing our border and the unFair Elections Act is certainly one of these instances.  Brent Patterson at the Council of Canadians has more on that, particularly the bit about fraud at the polls being virtually non-existent.  Yet, the HarperCons address it as though it’s a real problem.  Lead Now has a petition addressing that.

Alison@Creekside riffs and expands upon the Andrew Coyne article, What problems are the Conservatives really trying to solve with bizarre Fair Elections Act?, from which trm cited yesterday.  The problems Alison@Creekside thinks the Cons identified are these:

  1. Investigation into election fraud in 2011 Election 33 months ago being rushed along at dangerous breakneck speeds.
  2. Public trust in fair elections in Canada at all time high.
  3. Serially violate election law successfully but then lose court battles to election watchdog.
  4. Too many people vote – 61% in the last federal election – especially aboriginals, young people, old people, and poor people.
  5. Parties not spending enough time and money on elections.

trm loves the analysis and hopes you read Alison’s take on how the Act provides solutions to these so-called problems.  Michael Harris lends credence to Alison’s arguments with a doozer of an article at iPolitics!

How odd that the very people who were called “serial cheaters” this week by Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair are now rewriting the mandate of the office that runs elections and vouches for their integrity. The people who were the problem are providing the solution, which in normal language is called being judge in your own cause. A dubious principle in law and politics.

If you haven’t listened to the interview with Marc Mayrand, Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer, on CBC Radio One’s, The House, you want to.  Also take a look at DAMMIT JANET! for a list of links to excellent pieces by Stephen Maher and Chantal Hebert, for starters, as well as to a commentary by Don Martin. His point that ramming a bill on democratic reform through Parliament is not very democratic is well taken by trm. Also of interest at DJ are tweets which fairly summarize the issue.

Another angle on this Act has to do with its constitutionality which is to say it may violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in that it stand[s] between Canadian citizens and our right to vote. Have a look at that, too.

So take a moment today to Call a Con! Support Maude Barlow and the Council of Canadians’ Hold the phone action to stop Harper’s new Elections Act!

Democracy over Poetry, for today, anyway

the regina mom is currently on retreat at her favourite Catholic monastery in rural Saskatchewan.  Try as she might, she is unable to fully concentrate on the poetry while the current attack to Canadian democracy is underway.

It’s become pretty clear that the Harper regime will stop at no end to promote the greed of the corporations, particularly those into resource extraction.  The environment and environmental groups, science and scientists and scientific libraries — all are game, fair or otherwise, for him.  As are the people of our First Nations, women, veterans, unionized workers and anything else that gets in his way — including the Canada Elections Act.

Last week, his government introduced what they mistakenly called the Fair Elections Act, about which political columnist, Andrew Coyne, says,

It’s a bizarre bill. But the government is plainly proud of it: so proud that it refused to consult with the chief electoral officer on its contents; so proud that it is now being rushed through Parliament with a bare minimum of debate, using the government’s power of time allocation. And what problem was that intended to solve?

trm is not sure she agrees on the pride angle, thinking perhaps it’s more like arrogance, a “nyah-nyah” to the forces of democracy in Canada, the thousands and thousands of activists who have been tireless in their campaigns to raise awareness about the attacks on our freedoms and our long-standing traditions.

Marc Mayrand, Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer, expressed deep concern about the new Bill in this interview on CBC Radio’s, The House, which everyone should listen to.

He is right to be concerned.  After Vic Toews’ nasty letter calling out environmentalists as terrorists, trm took a look at Naomi Wolf’s blueprint for how open societies become closed societies.   trm examined Canada in that light and found it frightening then.  That was two years ago!  Much more has happened since, and only some of it referenced in the links above. The window is closing, and closing quickly.

Hold the window open, Canada!  Sign the Council of Canadians petition which will be presented in the House of Commons tomorrow.  Also consider participating in the Hold the Phone: Call for Democracy campaign tomorrow, Monday, February 10.  There are, apparently, some Conservative backbenchers who aren’t strongly supportive of this recent attack on democracy.  The calls may sway them enough to make a difference to our future as a democratic state.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.  –Jack Layton

Demand an Apology from Senator Dagenais

the regina mom is pleased to see that at least the NDP are taking the misogynistic and ageist personal attack by Senator Dagenais against MP Charmaine Borg seriously.  In the House of Commons on Monday, MP Charlie Angus asked if the PMO was involved.  Not surprisingly, the Prime Minister’s Parliamentary Secretary, MP Paul Calandra, gave a  non-response. [Beginning at 1:00]

MP Charmaine Borg, who is regarded as a good and hard-working MP, has lodged a formal complaint with the Speaker of the House.

In the letter, which was copied to all MPs, senators and their staff, Dagenais characterized Borg as a whiny, ignorant, useless Quebec MP who was elected by fluke and stands little chance of being re-elected.

Dagenais’ letter was sent in response to a flyer Borg sent out in her riding advocating the NDP’s long-held belief that the Senate should be abolished.

Borg says she was particularly insulted by Dagenais’ suggestion that she should get some books from the parliamentary library to inform herself about the Senate before criticizing the institution.

Borg, who is just 23 years old, says that’s the kind of “old-school mentality” that discourages young women from entering politics.

“The overall tone of this letter suggests that I am simply a little girl who does not take her work seriously,” Borg told the Commons on Monday.

Ms Borg also spoke out to reporters today:

“I think if I was an old, white man, he would not have attacked me,” Ms. Borg, 23, told reporters. “We’re not doing any favours to young women who want to run in the future by having this type of behaviour in Parliament.”

Ms. Borg said the letter was “condescending,” pointing out that she took political science classes at McGill University and is well-versed in constitutional matters.

“If his letter contained real facts, had a real debate about ideas, then I wouldn’t be here having a question of privilege in the House,” Ms. Borg said.

She added it’s “very ironic” that the attack originates from an unelected senator.

“He was a failed candidate, and then a year later, was named by the Prime Minister as a senator,” Ms. Borg said. “I don’t think he has any place to challenge my legitimacy.”

And, Ms Borg appeared on CBC’s Power and Politics.

trm was very happy to see that; it takes a lot of courage to stand up to a bully!  trm particularly loves that Ms Borg challenged Dagenais to step down from his Senate seat to run against her in 2015!  Oh, that young woman has spunk! trm looks forward to more from Ms Borg!

Demand an apology from Senator Dagenais!

How the Old Boyz Work

Several years ago, the regina mom wrote a letter to the editor of the local daily newspaper, accusing the Premier of the day of misogyny.  trm received supreme shit from an older male family member for doing so because it forced him to look up the definition in the dictionary and because she dared to call a man a “woman-hater.”  Well, there are some very subtle ways of expressing hatred toward women and trm wishes a few more people, particularly those  in the Senate and the House of Commons would do some digging and come to an understanding of how misogyny works.

Take, for example the attack Senator Dagenais delivered to NDP MP Charmaine Borg and cc’d to all Senators, several media outlets and all Members of Parliament because Ms Borg sent a flyer critical of the Senate to her constituents. Perhaps people in Quebec are not aware that the NDP has a long-standing policy to abolish the Senate and reading about that set the Senator off.  Perhaps Dagenais was reminded that he lost an election next door to Borg in the 2011 election and he still feels bitter about that.  Perhaps he spent too much time as a police officer.  Who knows?  But here is Dagenais’ letter to Borg, from Nathan Cullen’s Facebook page:

Charmaine Borg
Member for Terrebonne-Blainville
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A OA6

By email

Dear Member,

What a rag!

That is the only word I can think of to describe the pamphlet that you sent to citizens in the riding at the expense of all Canadian taxpayers.

As an NDP MP, who would likely never have been elected without Quebecers’ spontaneous sympathy for Jack Layton, who appointed a bunch of puppets to fill the holes in several of the province’s ridings, did you know that the abolition of the Senate that you’re talking about isn’t even part of the NDP’s platform? And you certainly don’t know enough about constitutional matters to be making such claims. There is a well-stocked library on the subject, available to you in Parliament, and I suggest you use it.

Under the circumstances, I understand that you are blindly parroting your leader Thomas Mulcair to denigrate the Senate and its senators. Can you remind him that he has wasted enough time in the House of Commons, where other priorities like the economy, jobs and security could have been discussed in recent months for the good of the country? However, with a program as weak as yours, I understand that he may not have anything else to talk about.

I hope that the results of the recent by-elections will make him reflect on your chances of returning to Parliament in the next general elections.

Because you believe that senators are useless, allow me to inform you that since the election of NDP MPs in Quebec, I have been asked on numerous occasions by citizens and organizations in your riding to intervene in government matters. When I suggested that they first go and talk to their MP, they all responded that you were useless and powerless to do anything. Make a note of that and tell your colleagues. You can even tell them that it gave me some pleasure to hear that.

Parliamentary life, Ms. Borg, is not just about whining, although you’ve become very good at it and the media certainly takes delight in it. Canadians and a large majority of Quebecers recognize that we have a healthy economy thanks to the Conservatives and they continue and certainly will continue to reject your socialist ideas.

Jean-Guy Dagenais
Conservative senator and citizen of Blainville

According to trm‘s friends at DAMMITJANET! the MSM has been glossing over the misogyny of the attack, taking the lead from Harper harpie Stephen Taylor who suggests the unsuggestable, that naming it as sexist weakens the definition of sexist. How he purports to know anything about that makes trm want to bash her head against a wall.  Remember, these are the boys and girls who took the word “equality” out of the mandate of Status of Women Canada! And this Senator was appointed by the Prime Minister.

The letter is a demeaning, dismissive and shaming personal attack and has no place in Canadian politics. trm invites you to demonstrate support for Ms Borg by demanding the Senator apologize to her.  Regardless how you feel about the Senate, surely we can all agree that this kind of behavior is exactly what drives people — especially women — away from politics.  Borg has been an excellent, hard-working MP and should be encouraged, not abused, for her good work.  Getting a rise out of a Conservative Senator, though possibly a badge of honour, can negatively impact a person.  trm wants to make sure the impact of positive support from the grassroots is stronger.  Please take a moment to demand an apology.  And cc it far and wide. Email addresses and additional information are below.

CONTACT INFO:

Jean-Guy Dagenais
Senate of Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A4
Telephone: 613-996-7644
Toll Free: 1-800-267-7362
Fax: 613-996-7649
E-Mail: dagenj@sen.parl.gc.ca

Charmaine Borg, MP
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6
Telephone: 613-947-4788
Fax: 613-947-4879
EMail: Charmaine.Borg@parl.gc.ca
Web Site:*www.charmaineborg.info/ (in French only)
Preferred Language: French

Consider cc’ing your message to
Prime Minister Stephen Harper pm@pm.gc.ca
Thomas Mulcair, Leader of the Official Opposition thomas.mulcair@parl.gc.ca
Niki Ashton, Opposition Critic on the Status of Women niki.ashton@parl.gc.ca
Justin Trudeau, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca
Kirsty Duncan, Status of Women Critic, Liberal Party kirsty.duncan@parl.gc.ca
Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada elizabeth.may@parl.gc.ca

 

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

Maclean’s Magazine: http://bit.ly/1gNzRfe
Borg’s Member of Parliament Profile Page: http://bit.ly/1hEUD3C
Borg’s NDP-NPD page: http://www.charmaineborg.info/
Borg on Katimavik at rabble.ca:  http://bit.ly/1csI6fT
Wikipedia Page on Charmaine Borg: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charmaine_Borg
Michael Geist on Charmaine Borg: http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/6794/125/
NDP note on Harper’s Senate Appointments
Dagenais and China: http://www.roc-taiwan.org/MX/ct.asp?xItem=432360&ctNode=2240&mp=1

December 6

Today is the 24th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, that day in 1989 when 14 women were gunned down because they were women. Today, we make a point of remembering:

dec6

Scandal, -Gate, Affair and Reform

Without a doubt, these are interesting times for those who, like the regina mom, follow Canadian politics.  The Senate Scandal aka the Wright-Duffy Affair aka Prime Minister Harper’s Watergate has legs and continues to run, despite Margaret Wente’s mad ravings in the Globe and Mail.

I love a juicy scandal. What better way to fill a column than stories about greedy, lying politicians getting their comeuppance, and secret payoffs, and explosive revelations, and the decline of democracy as we know it? Besides, Stephen Harper is not most people’s favourite guy. So it pains me to report that despite the most recent breathless headlines, the Senate scandal has run out of legs.

Wrong, Marg.  Today, the Prime Minister’s Office announced that the Privy Council Office found the missing email messages from former PMO legal adviser Benjamin Perrin!

The Privy Council Office has informed the RCMP that emails belonging to Benjamin Perrin, the former counsel for the Prime Minister’s Office named in court documents related to a deal between Nigel Wright and Senator Mike Duffy, were not deleted as was previously believed.

In fact, Perrin’s account had been frozen “due to unrelated litigation.”

“We regret that we previously failed, even if inadvertently, to accurately inform you [the RCMP] and the PMO about the availability of Mr. Perrin’s emails,” the PCO says in a letter to the RCMP. “We apologize for any inconvenience it may have caused.”

The PCO says it will turn the email records over to the RCMP immediately.

Back in May when this story was just growing its legs, Perrin said he had nothing to do with the mess.

I was not consulted on, and did not participate in, Nigel Wright’s decision to write a personal cheque to reimburse Senator Duffy’s expenses.

I have never communicated with the Prime Minister on this matter.

In all my work, I have been committed to making our country a better place and I hope my record of service speaks for itself.

Is Perrin going to be the next one thrown under the PM’s bus?  Will this finally be the end of Stephen Harper as PM? Or is something else going on here?

trm asks that last question because she noticed a lot of wet pants on Twitter over the weekend, following the National Post‘s publication of Andrew Coyne’s piece praising CPC MP Michael Chong’s proposed Reform Act.

Should it pass, Parliament would never be the same again. The bill would fundamentally recast the relationship between party leaders and caucuses, and with it the whole structure of our politics. The balance of power would shift, irrevocably, in favour of MPs and their riding associations, and away from the leaders and their apparatchiks. In sum, this is a vastly consequential bill, and fully deserving of the historical echoes in its short title: The Reform Act 2013.

Though the Act has yet to see the light of day, Tweeps were raving about it, under the #ReformAct hashtag.  It seems to trm that Canadians are so eager to rid the country of Stephen Harper that they’ll take the first thing that comes along — sight unseen — to do so. If other parties had a one member, one vote system of electing a leader they’d be less eager to legislate power away from the parties’ grassroots.  Or, if Conservative Party Members of Parliament had courage they’d stand up to the PM.

As far as trm is concerned, it’s dangerous to make decisions based on what pundits say or about something not yet available to read.  But saying so on Twitter does not make one a lot of friends.  Chong was going to present it on Thursday but has since changed his mind and will now do so on Tuesday.

Since the text of the bill has not been released, there has been much speculation about its intent. The bill should not be viewed as a critique on any of the current leaders in the House of Commons. To suggest otherwise, misinterprets the intent of the bill.

Due to the interest surrounding the content of the bill, I have decided to introduce it in the House of Commons earlier than previously planned. This will allow me to release the text of the bill to the public and explain its content to Canadians.

This is all well and good — and lookit! There’s a website, too!  But isn’t it interesting that it will fall in the news cycle immediately following stories about the almost magical finding of Perrin’s emails?

trm has many more questions!  She hopes the scandal doesn’t get lost in the hullaballoo already publicizing the Reform Act.

Is Harper going down?

the regina mom firmly believes the HarperCons stole the 2011 election to secure their Majority government.  And so, she has been hoping that there would be a way to stop it.  Learning the truth about the Robofraud scandal seemed the most likely, until now.

The past few weeks have shown trm that Tom Mulcair is an amazing Parliamentarian, holding the Prime Minister to account on the Senate-PMO scandal.  The PM’s stumbling response, repeating the same story, has only made the situation worse for the poor PMEven his own people are turning against him!

As if Senator Gerstein, PM Harper and his smear-boy, Paul Calandra, had not received a stern enough chiding from bloggers, tweeters and the mainstream media, in comes CTV’s Don Martin, with the most scathing and convincing takedown to day.  trm believes it’s a must-watch for all Canadians! GO:  When the government speaks, the only consistency is inconsistency itself.

Remember the women

Today is Remembrance Day, the day that the regina mom learned was set aside to honour our war veterans, those who fought so we could have peace.  What no one mentioned during her upbringing was the hundreds of thousands of women who suffered as a result of gendered power during times of war.  No one taught her that rape is a weapon of war.

Warring groups use rape as a weapon because it destroys communities totally, says Major-General Patrick Cammaert, former commander of UN peacekeeping forces in the eastern Congo. “You destroy communities. You punish the men, and you punish the women, doing it in front of the men.” Adds Cammaert: “It has probably become more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in armed conflict.”

Rape has been a dishonourable camp follower of war for as long as armies have marched into battle. In the 20th century, perceptions of rape in war have moved from something that is inevitable when men are deprived of female companionship for prolonged periods to an actual tactic in conflict. The lasting psychological harm that rape inflicts on its victims has also been recognized: Rape is always torture, says Manfred Nowak, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Yes, rape is always torture.  The Amnesty International report, LIVES BLOWN APART, explores some of the horrors experienced by women and girls in war-torn regions

In most of today’s wars, civilian casualties far outnumber those of armed combatants. Women and men both suffer human rights violations in conflicts, such as unlawful killings and torture. However, the particular ways in which women are targeted for violence, or are otherwise affected by armed conflict, are usually overlooked.

Women and girls are more likely to be the target of sexual violence, especially rape. Women face extra, sometimes insurmountable, obstacles to obtaining justice, because of the stigma attached to survivors of sexual violence, and women’s disadvantaged position in society. Whether civilians or combatants, refugees or displaced people, the impact of war weighs particularly heavily on women.

In this report, Amnesty International shows some of the ways in which conflict affects women, and the many different roles which women play in conflict. Women are not only victims and survivors, but also activists, negotiators, peace-builders and human rights defenders. Attempts to address the human rights consequences of conflict, including its particular effects on women, can only be comprehensive and long-lasting if women play an active part in rebuilding society at all levels.

Last month, more than 100 countries agreed  to endorse the Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict.

The declaration holds that sexualized violence in conflict is in direct violation of international humanitarian law (IHL) and declares that the perpetrators should be pursued and arrested no matter where they are in the world. The declaration also calls upon signatory member states to do more than raise awareness to the issue and to provide better support not only to the victims but to national and international efforts to prevent and respond to sexualized violence in conflict.

80 nations refused to sign the Declaration, including Burma/Myanmar.

The international community, eager to praise these reforms, has neglected to call Burma out on its sexualized violence problem, ignoring the ingrained culture of impunity that has allowed sexualized violence to flourish for decades. The military regime that came to power in a 1962 coup has used rape, particularly against women in the ethnic and border regions, as a way to quell opposition movements and retain control. A weapon of war, the practice is typically employed to keep communities compliant by sowing fear and humiliation and punishing and interrogating those who would support opposition groups. Sadly, the Burmese military junta’s campaign of widespread and systematic sexualized violence continues unabated today.

And, shortly after that, the Government of Canada spoke out about violence against women in times of war.  But, the government refuses to provide funding through its international development program to help women who survive the atrocity and find themselves pregnant as a result and seek to terminate the pregnancy.

Status of Women Minister Kellie Leitch is blasting the “abhorrent” practices of rape as a weapon of war and the forced marriage of young children in the developing world.

But she’s defending Canada’s refusal to fund any aid projects that might help the victims of such barbaric practices obtain abortions.

Leitch, who was at the United Nations on Friday to celebrate the UN’s International Day of the Girl, told The Canadian Press that Canada needs to target its aid efforts and has chosen to focus on pre- and post-partum maternal and child health.

How much does the regina mom despise her country of origin right now?  As one who has experienced rape, survived it and come out the other side of it, even though it did not take place in a war zone or a time of war, you can bet it’s more than a little.  The multiple impacts of rape are horrendous, without war thrown into the mix.
AI notes that the consequences of sexual violence experienced by females include “serious and chronic medical problems, psychological damage, life threatening diseases such as HIV/AIDS, forced pregnancy, infertility, and stigmatization and/or rejection by family members and communities.” Few victims of sexual violence have access to health care in their time of need.
We must do more to end the global war on women.
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