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:
Posted by thereginamom on December 6, 2013
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.
Posted by thereginamom on December 2, 2013
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 PM. Even 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.
Posted by thereginamom on November 30, 2013
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.
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.
Posted by thereginamom on November 11, 2013
the regina mom lives in Saskatchewan where the rate of child poverty among Indigenous children is at 55%! Disgusting!
Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan is apparently not so good for Indigenous Peoples, is it?
Posted by thereginamom on October 26, 2013
the regina mom has been on retreat with a bunch of writers at her favourite monastery. Yes, she knows it’s rather odd for a feminist to be hanging out with Catholic monks, but she finds their worship of the Virgin Mother to be very interesting…
Anywho, she has learned that the Saskatchewan Writers Guild has been granted special ‘transition funding’ amounting to 90 percent of what the City of Regina had provided before. (Apparently, there are some readers on Council.) Regardless what happens in the next go-round of grants, according to trm‘s source, the City of Regina Writing Award will be funded and may even be increased. It’s been separated out from the ginormous pool of money being shared around amongst a bajillion cultural and social justice groups.
Well done, writers! We can breathe a sigh of relief. For now.
Posted by thereginamom on July 17, 2013
It appears to the regina mom that the City of Regina would rather fill that new pie in the sky, outrageously overpriced, not yet built football stadium with ticket-buyers than fund events for writers in the Queen City. The Vertigo Series, Coteau Books and the Saskatchewan Writers Guild will receive nothing, as it stands. From the member newsletter, eBriefs:
City of Regina Slashes Literary Funding
For many years the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild has successfully applied to the City of Regina for about $24,000 annually to assist with literary programming in Regina. This year, our funding request was denied in its entirety.
SWG is one of at least three literary organizations denied funding by the City of Regina grant program. Coteau Books and the Vertigo Reading Series have also been cut. The rationale provided for the cuts is that the SWG application “scored low in the area of community need.” We have been advised that SWG also scored low in the area of “financial need.”
Meanwhile, performance, film and music organizations that run festivals generating ticket sales have received more funding than in previous years.
The Saskatchewan Writer’s Guild has a rich history of literary programming in Regina, some of which we have provided for over thirty years. We offer a wide array of free programming to writers and the public, raise literary awareness, raise writers’ profiles, and enrich the lives of hundreds of people, including key identified targets of youth and Aboriginal constituents.
A new application process that groups all disciplines and former community grants into one is partly responsible for the cuts. The literary arts and the community will suffer heavily in Regina this coming year.
As a result of these cuts, beginning August 1st or earlier, the following Guild programs will be affected and/or suspended:
· City of Regina Writing Award (sponsored by the City for 32 years)
· Words in the Park (3 years)
· Writer-in-Residence at a Regina school (10+ years)
· First Nations Reading series (5+ years)
· Signature Reading series (15+ years in various editions)
· Aboriginal Storytelling Month (2 years)
· Aboriginal History Day/Month (4 Years)
· Talking Fresh (11 years)
· Regina Workshops (25+ years)
· Apprentice Readings (15+ years)
· Windscript Launch (4 years)
· Playwrights Reading series (5+ years)
· Historic Walking Tours (4 years)
Guild staff will be meeting with the City Community Consultant responsible for the grant programs on Tuesday next week to see if there are any options for alternate funding. We will inform you of the results shortly thereafter.
We encourage you to contact Regina City Council to voice your concerns about literary arts being cut from cultural funding, and to raise their awareness that the literary community is strong and viable, and this programming serves an important community need. You may email Regina City Councillors and/or Mayor Michael Fougere at the following link:
trm has already let her Councillor, Shawn Fraser, know about this abomination. He’s a good guy and has not heard about it but is looking into it. However, it would be very useful for people “from away” to chime in and let Mayor Fougere know how they feel about the big #YQR #fail!
Posted by thereginamom on May 24, 2013
Carrying on in the series of Notes from #CNFC2013 Part 1 and Part 2, here is Part 3, the final piece from the session, “Ownership: Stories and Lies,” with Kate Braid and Tyler Trafford, moderated by Myrna Kostash at the 2013 Creative NonFiction Collective’s annual conference in Banff.
the regina mom struggles with how to describe Tyler Trafford. He is not your average writer. And his story is not your average story. He explained that at a young age he became enthralled with the classic hero’s journey, thanks to his mom’s reading of great literature such as The Old Man and the Sea. It became his way of understanding the world.
And then he went on to talk about lies. He said, “Lies help you feel the truth, help you express the truth for other people.” And he took it further, to show how Kate Braid had used a lie in her book, Journeywoman. She uses an extended moment, a psychological reality, to detail a fall, taking time to notice all around her as it happened. He named that as a lie because, in fact, the fall would take only 1/8th of a second — and he provided the math for it, too! It’s a necessary lie, one that is fundamental to the truth of the story.
In his book, Almost A Great Escape, Trafford tells his mother’s story, a story he had to unravel after her death.
He uncovered her lie — what she had kept hidden — all her life. It’s an amazing story and another book on trm‘s To Read list. And it’s an interesting concept, this lying bit. Poets and fiction writers are expected to tell lies in their work. But to suggest that creative nonfiction writers also do so seems to go against the grain of what nonfiction is about. But his examples — in Braid’s work and in his own — harken back to what Kostash spoke of in her opening remarks to this session, that bit about the anxiety in society about nonfiction.
What lies will the regina mom tell in order to make her nonfiction stories true? She knows how to do it in poetry and fiction, but to transfer that to nonfiction is an interesting concept, to say the least! Perhaps they’re already there, lying in wait (pun not intended), for her to discover. Oh, her editing process is going to be a lot more fun now, that’s for sure!
Posted by thereginamom on May 3, 2013
Further to the regina mom‘s Notes from #CNFC2013 Part 1 here is part 2, detailing the session, “Ownership: Stories and Lies,” with Kate Braid and Tyler Trafford, moderated by Myrna Kostash at the 2013 Creative NonFiction Collective’s annual conference in Banff.
trm knew of Kate Braid’s work as a poet, having been introduced to her Georgia O’Keefe poems at the Sage Hill Writing Experience more than a decade ago. She did not know that Kate Braid was also a nonfiction writer and so listened intently during the presentation about her latest nonfiction work, Journeywoman: Swinging a Hammer in a Man’s World. trm knows women who work in trades and technologies. In fact, when she first became active in the women’s movement, she met many women involved in Saskatchewan Women In Trades and Technologies (SaskWITT), women who, like her, were part of the women’s coalition that came about during the end of the Devine years.
But back to Braid, who said that memoir writing is not the same as autobiography. Rather, it tells part of a life. She said she struggled with finding the stories that mattered and added to it as she went along. Wisely, she had kept a detailed journal and was able to reference her notes. Her first draft took more than 25 years to write and was over 1,200 pages! Eventually, it was carved to a book, thanks to her editor who was able to see the narrative.
She said her intent was to be emotionally honest about her experience in the construction trade, about that time in her life, and found that the tense she chose to use, present tense, afforded her the best means of doing so. The past tense tended to pull her away from the story. She also said that a memoir’s success depends on the author showing what s/he has learned and referenced Myrna’s opening remarks about memory being like a computer. “Memory is a backseat driver who wants control,” she said. Truthtellers, of both emotional and literal truth, she added, are essential to credibility.
Her advice, which comes from Beat poet, Allen Ginsberg, is what the regina mom tries to do, that is to “write as though no one is ever going to read this.” Easier said than done, but doable. Still, Braid knew people would read her book and so she changed some people’s names to protect them. She asked herself if names were essential to the story and, in instances where they were, she sent out chapters to those named and sought their feedback. trm is thinking she may well have to do that with her Sask women’s movement essay, presuming it ever gets written, that is.
Braid spoke about her fear and how it stopped her from writing over and over again. At one point she was paralyzed for years and it got even worse after she submitted the manuscript to her publisher! But once she was able to figure out who she was writing the book for, the tradeswomen who went through what she went through, it was easier. She decided she was providing a baseline of what it was like to be a woman working in the trades. She knew the book wanted to be written, knew it had to be written. She wrote various versions of it — scholarly, lighthearted, for example — and finally got it written.
trm can’t help but wonder about the women who, when she worked at the YWCA, were apprenticing in the trades and remodeling various locations in the building. How many of them faced ridicule and insult once they completed their training? How many even completed the training? Certainly, working as part of an all-women crew would be very different from working as the only woman on a construction crew! And trm bets they’d love to hear Braid read from her book, so she’s going to do what she can to get Kate Braid to Saskatchewan for a reading in the near future.
Posted by thereginamom on May 2, 2013
Further to a previous post about the Creative NonFiction Collective’s annual conference in Banff, the regina mom offers the following notes from Myrna Kostash’s opening words to the session, “Ownership: Stories and Lies,” with Kate Braid and Tyler Trafford.
Myrna began the session talking about nonfiction and memory. “What is a memory?” she asked. There’s been a lot of work done around memory and she suggested that each time you think about a memory, the memory changes. “How many iterations of it are there?” she asked. She compared memory to a computer file that is opened, changed and saved back onto the computer hard-drive, making a case for false memories.
This fits entirely with what trm has been thinking as she works on her Wolverine Creek essay. Each of her visits to St. Peter’s Abbey, where she fell in love with the creek and began the essay, have morphed into one big long hodgepodge of memory. She has become entirely reliant on other sources, including the memories of others which, she now understands, can be as unreliable as her own! So, she’s looking forward to The Art of Memory with Seán Virgo taking place at St. Peter’s College this summer.
Kostash went on to speak about the “anxiety” that society has about nonfiction. That’s a whole new think for trm! This essay helped her get her head around it and was a useful read when trying to understand something else Kostash said, almost in passing. “Every journalist knows that what he [sic] does is morally indefensible.” It’s a disputed quote, but it got trm thinking about another essay she’s trying to write, one about the Saskatchewan women’s movement 1985 to the present. She has much to say, much to work though, but it feels too much like venting, too much of what a good essay should not be. But now that she thinks about it it might be the route through to completing that first draft!
So that was the first ten minutes of the session. More to come!
Posted by thereginamom on May 2, 2013