Sisters In Spirit Under Attack

The HarperCons have gone much too far now!  Apparently, the Sisters In Spirit Campaign, organized by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) has been too successful in raising the awareness about murdered and missing Aboriginal women in Canada.  Or something.  They’ve done a lot, that’s for sure, including heightening awareness throughout the country, establishing a database of missing and murdered Aboriginal women, and co-ordinating vigils in more than 80 communities across the country.  APTN reports that

Status of Women officials had asked the organization [NWAC]  not to use any government money for projects under the name Sisters in Spirit or for work on their vaunted missing and murdered Aboriginal women database.

Alison@Creekside has a thorough post addressing the many issues involved in that, as well as the Cons posturing around it.  Please go read her post!  And the links!  Then come back here and take action:

NDP MP and Critic on the Status of Women, Irene Mathyssen, says that

[D]espite the Conservative government’s praise of Sisters in Spirit (SIS), the recent $10 million announcement to address the issue of violence against Aboriginal women left SIS out. The main voice calling for action on how missing women cases are reported and investigated has been excluded. Many fear this means the end of Sisters in Spirit since the government made it very clear that SIS will not receive any more funding for this project.

Sisters in Spirit, a project under the umbrella of the Native Women’s Association of Canada since 2005, led the way in research regarding missing and murdered aboriginal women. Their April 2010 report, “What Their Stories Tell Us”, identified knowledge gaps that hindered the creation of effective policies and programming to address the high number of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in Canada. Problems such as different jurisdictions not communicating as happened with the victims of Robert Pickton, delays in starting missing persons investigations if the woman was Aboriginal or in the sex trade, lack of resources for family members to deal with the aftermath of murder, and not enough investments in anti-violence programs and front-line community workers, were all identified by SIS.

Since SIS didn’t receive any of the $10 million, the research they did may be lost as they cannot get funding from any other government department. The minister needs to make it known how this data will be protected and maintained. Sisters in Spirit is the voice for the most vulnerable in Canadian society. Shutting them down after they demonstrated how we are failing Aboriginal women is another example of Conservative bully tactics, and the common conservative practice of trying to cover up embarrassing truths.

She has prepared a petition she will present to the House of Commons. All we have to do is to get the signatories.  Here’s the text.

Petition to the House of Commons –“Sisters in Spirit”
We, the undersigned, residents of Canada, draw the attention of the Government of Canada to the
THAT for the past five years, the Native Women’s Association of Canada’s (NWAC) Sisters In Spirit initiative has worked to identify root causes, trends and circumstances of violence that have led to disappearance and death of Aboriginal women and girls;
THAT in March 2010, NWAC released the report “What Their Stories Tell Us” which provided evidence that 582 Aboriginal women and girls have gone missing or been murdered in Canada; and
THAT the fact that so many mothers, daughters, sisters, aunties and grandmothers have been lost to violence in this country makes this the most pervasive human rights crisis facing Canada today.
THEREFORE, your petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to renew funding for the Sisters In Spirit initiative Phase II “Evidence to Action” and to invest in an “Action Plan for Aboriginal women”, which NWAC has developed, to stop the devastating number of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in Canada.


It’s a paper petition, so it’s a bit more work that we digital activists are used to.  But, it’s a must.  It’s a must for more than partisan reasons.  It’s a must for the betterment of our country and, most importantly, it’s a must for demonstrating our support of and to Aboriginal women and girls in Canada.  Download it now!

Take it to work, take it everywhere you go and get folks to sign it.  Then send it to Irene, free of charge.


Budget 2010: Still Leaving Women Behind

This came my way via the PAR-L email list.  Huge thanks to Kathleen Lahey for this work.  It puts a light on the inherently sexist economic system in which women exist, a system Stephen Harper is determined to prop up, regardless how much it hurts women and their children.

Kathleen Lahey
Mar. 5, 2010

The big picture: Women are half the population in Canada and nearly half the official labour force – but still do 62% of all unpaid work, and receive only 40% of after-tax incomes.

This Budget: The government claims that it is providing one last $19 billion ‘stimulus’ package this year, shorn of new tax cuts or spending items. This is highly misleading. New corporate tax cuts and continued huge PIT and GST cuts bring the total to $41.9 billion for 2010/11.

Gender gaps This $41.9 billion is being delivered in forms that will benefit far more in Budget 2010: men than women, widen gender gaps even further, and continue to drive up poverty rates among women and single parents:

2010-2011: Amount: Women’s share:
Infrastructure spending $ 9.6 bill. 7% to 22%
Corporate tax cuts $10.1 bill. 10% to 37%
GST tax cuts $10.0 bill. 38%
Personal income tax cuts $ 7.4 bill. 40%
EI enhancements $ 4.8 bill. 36%
Single-parent UCCB tax cut $ 0.005 bill. 81% (max $168/C)

Infrastructure spending $9.6 billion, 2010-2011
($8 billion, 2009-2010)

• For 2010-2011, the ‘base’ infrastructure fund is $7.7 billion, which will continue to be allocated to road, municipal improvement, and building infrastructure:

– only 7% of construction, trade, transportation workers are women
– only 21-22% in engineering, manufacturing, and primary industries/women1

• For 2010-2011, an additional $1.9 billion is being added for post-secondary infrastructure, consisting of both construction and enhancement of selected areas of research and technology innovation:

– these construction funds will impact women in the same 7% to 22% range
– there are relatively few women in the research and technology areas targeted for the remainder of this funding: only 21% to 23% are women2

• No gender equity requirements have been included in any of these spending programs

• Tying provincial and municipal construction project criteria to federal funding forces provinces/local governments to match funds on the same terms (provincial shares: 61%) and continues to block child care projects desperately needed across the country

• Will women get another 2 shelters this year? (Cf 3 animal shelter projects in 2009)
Corporate income tax cuts $10.1 billion, 2010-2011
($6.3 billion, 2000-2010)
($44.8 billion, 2010-2014)

• These tax cuts were announced beginning in 2006, were accelerated in 2008, and will be fully implemented in 2012 – they reduce the general rate from 22.12% to 15% by 2014

• By 2014, total federal revenues produced by corporate income taxes will have been permanently cut by a third of former corporate tax revenue

• The $10.1 billion cut in 2010-2011 reflects the 1% cut that came into effect in 2009 plus the new 1.5% cut coming into effect in 2010 (but buried in fine print in Budget 2010)

• These cuts permanently depress Canada’s annual revenue, and form one basis for the argument that Canada cannot fund programs like child care or women’s services

• The federal government has been pressuring provinces to make similar large rate cuts

• Once the combined federal-provincial corporate income tax rate falls below 35%, the US government will begin collecting a share of Canada’s foregone CIT revenues

• The government itself has admitted that corporate income tax cuts only weakly promote economic growth (Budget 2010, table A1.1)

• Men will be the largest beneficiaries of these cuts, because almost all CEOs, directors, and controlling shareholders are men, and 63% of corporate shares are owned by men

• One of the tax benefits of receiving corporate dividends is that the first $50,000 is tax exempt ($34,000 if issued by small business corporations) – compare this with those who live on subsistence incomes of $10,320 or less – such low incomes are PIT-free, but will still bear total taxes of 17.175% from the GST/HST-PST, EI, and CPP GST tax rate reductions (2%) $10 billion (annual) ($34.8 billion 2007-2011)

• The GST and PST/HST are highly regressive, giving the biggest benefits to those with the highest incomes regardless of whether they save or spend

• The GST tax credits refunds only a small part of the GST that is paid by those with low incomes (the credit covers the tax on approx. $4,750 of spending)

• GST tax savings per year on spending, for taxpayers in —

Bottom income quintile: $280
Top income quintile: $1,244

• The 2% rate cut has contributed substantially to the sharp reduction in federal revenues, thus impairing federal capacity to go ahead with adequate affordable child care or expand EI to give benefits to more marginalized members of the labour force

• As the federal government has placed pressure on provinces to induce them to ‘harmonize’ their PSTs with the federal GST, provincial tax bases are being expanded to include previously non-taxed services, resulting in further increases that affect lowincome taxpayers the most negatively (usually without offsetting low-income credits)

• 62% of these federal GST tax cuts go to men, 38% go to women Personal income tax cuts $7.35 billion, 2010-2011
($18.4 billion, 2008-2010)

• Lowest income tax rate reduced from 16% to 15%: ($5.5 bill)

– At least 40.4% of women receive no benefit from any of these cuts because their incomes are so low they already pay no income taxes

– These cuts to to middle and high income taxpayers too – to all taxpayers
– Women’s average incomes are too low to use the whole benefit of this cut
– The average benefit to men of this cut is $196 – to women, $171
– Men receive 57% of this cut, women, 43%

• $220 increase in the personal exemption: ($0.55 bill.)

– At least 40% of women will receive nothing from this cut (no tax liability)
– This cut is also available to all taxpayers, no matter how high their income
– 54% of this cut goes to male taxpayers; maximum cut/year = $333

• $1,894 increase in the lowest income bracket (15%): ($1.0 bill.)

– Only 14% of all women taxpayers can get this tax cut (and 30% of all men)
– 67% will go to male taxpayers; maximum cut/year = $1324

• $3,788 increase in the second income bracket (22%): ($0.3 bill.)

– Only 6% of all women taxpayers will enjoy this tax cut (and 14% of all men)
– 70% of this cut goes to male taxpayers; maximum cut/year = $1515
Employment insurance $4.8 billion, 2010-2011
($2 billion in 2009-2010)

• For 2010-2011, $2.6 billion of this total is being allocated to further extensions of EI for those with ‘standard’ eligibility for regular benefits

• For 2010-2011, an additional $2.2 billion is being allocated to labour market adjustment projects in regions facing special challenges

• Regardless of program allocations, those working less than 35 hours per week during qualifying periods have marginal eligibility

• Because 70% of all part-time workers are women, and because the hourly wages of women in all employment categories are lower than men’s, only about 36% of those receiving regular EI benefits are women

• The EI extensions offered in 2009 and 2010 (announced in Budget 2009) are only available to workers already qualifying for EI; they do not bring other workers into EI

• The new women workers who might qualify under EI enhancements are those who stayed at home for long periods of time with their children – not women in nonqualifying paid work who have only taken time out for maternity leave, and who are disproportionately disadvantaged in obtaining those EI benefits due to the current eligibility criteria

• There is growing support for the 360 hour EI qualification test

• Postponement of increases in employee contribution rates and reduced employer contribution rates that have never occurred are not real tax benefits Home buyer tax credits $200 million in 2009-2010

• These credits will only be available to those who can afford to purchase a home

• Because these credits are not refundable, even low-income taxpayers who are able to purchase a home cannot use them, because they will have no tax liability against which to offset them

• On average, women will thus receive far fewer credits under this program, because their average incomes are much lower than men’s:
– women’s average incomes: $27,000
– men’s average incomes: $45,0006

• Most women’s incomes fall into the three lowest income quintiles, all of which are net dis-savers – they end every year with net debt7

• For the same reasons, low income taxpayers – predominantly women – will not have RRSP savings that they are allowed to roll into home purchases on a tax-free bases Working income tax benefit $580 million per year

• The current Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB) is $522/year for a single individual and $1044 for a single parent; Budget 2009 enhanced these benefits to the current levels:

– Single individuals: to $925 credit per year, phased out at income of $16,700
– Single parents: to $1,680 credit per year, phased out at income of $25,700

• Only one spouse/partner or the other can claim this credit

• Women who cannot enter paid work without affordable reliable child care will not be able to take advantage of this increased credit Canada child tax benefit $230 million/year

• The brackets measuring the phase-out of the Canada Child Tax Credit and the National Child Benefit Supplement are each being increased by the same $1,894 that is added to the 15% income bracket

• The result of this change is to increase at the top end of the brackets used to phase-out these two low-income benefits, adding a bit more to the after-tax income of the parents currently receiving the CCTB or NCB Supp at the highest end of that income scale

• No new money is going to parents at the low end of the income brackets used to measure qualification for these benefits, however UCCB/Single parent calculation $5 million/year

• The ‘Universal Child Care Benefit’ was introduced in 2006 to replace the $5 bill. national child care program established in 2005 (UCCB cost/year = $2.1 billion)

• The government claimed that it ‘will support child care choices by families’8

• The UCCB is taxable, and this change will reduce the single parents’ tax on it by $168/yr

• Even the full UCCB ($1200/yr) is far too little to enable single parents to ‘choose’ to stay at home to care for their children vs. pay for childcare so they can earn income Joint tax measures Ongoing; expanded in 2006

• All joint fiscal measures create disincentives to women’s paid work

• Joint low-income refundable tax credits impose tax penalties on low-income women:

• There are a few tax benefits that are designed to provide refundable credits to those whose incomes are too low to be able to claim ordinary tax benefits (40.4% of women) GST tax credit Canada Child Tax Benefit
Working Income Tax Benefit [$580 mill/yr; $522 single; $1044 couple]

• However, these refundable credits are all subject to couple-based LICOs that artificially bar many low-income women from receiving these refundable credits

Single taxpayer: $13,500 [2009: $16,700]
Coupled taxpayer: $21,500 [2009: $25,700]

• These couple LICOs raise the ‘welfare wall’ for low-income women in relationships

• They impose tax penalties on relationships without regard for the economic realities of those relationships

• Open-ended joint tax measures undermine women’s economic security:

• Unlike joint provisions for low-income refundable tax credits, many joint tax benefits discourage women with mid/high income spouses/partners from earning income

• Most joint tax benefits reward higher income spouses for supporting their spouse/partner

– without any upper limits on eligibility, no matter how high the income (e.g., dependent spouse credit and transferrable spousal credits; family limits on child care deductions; spousal RRSPs; caregiver credits; Universal Child Care Benefit; pension income splitting; TFSA investment income splitting)

• Pension income splitting (2006 onward; $0.6 bill/year): For couples only: The higher the income of the supporting spouse, the higher the tax benefit from pension splitting:

Supporting spouse/ $26,800 Tax benefit: —
partner income: $31,800 $500
$41,800 $700
$72,000 $2,975
$100,000 $8,125
$140,000 $11,216

• Creates fiscal disincentives for lower-income spouse to work after higher-income spouse/partner retires, to have own-source pension income, or a spousal RRSP Tax-free savings accounts: $0.5 billion (2009; expanding)

• $5,000 can be contributed to tax-exempt accumulation accounts each year for ultimate tax-exempt withdrawal; $10,000 per couple; $5,000 per adult child

• Only the top quintile of households have enough savings to fully fund TFSAs fully9

• Spousal TFSAs are not required to remain the property of the non-earning owner

1. Statistics Canada, ‘Work Chapter Updates,’ Women in Canada (Ottawa: 2005); online:
2. Statistics Canada, ‘University Enrolment, 2007/2009,’ The Daily (July 13, 2009);
3. Based on data in CRA, Income Statistics 2007.
4. Based on data in CRA, Income Statistics 2007.
5. Based on data in CRA, Income Statistics 2007.
6. Canada Revenue Agency, Income Statistics 2007 [2005 tax year] (Ottawa: 2007) table
at 15-16; online:
7. Sauve, Vanier Insitute for the Family, 2005.
8. Hon. Flaherty, Minister of Finance, The Budget Speech 2006 (May 2, 2006); online:
9. Sauve, Vanier Insitute for the Family, 2005

What Harper’s Done to Canadian Social Programs

I wrote this for some time ago but never did blog it.  I’ve been trying to find it for some time because it’s in need of an update. Here it is.  Please feel free to use the comment box below to add the other places Harper’s axe has landed since this was written.

What Harper’s Done to Canadian Social Programs

by Bernadette Wagner

In September 2006 our boy, Steve Harper, pulled out his axe. Here’s a little review of where the axe fell.*

Aboriginal Programs

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada “operational efficiencies” = $3.5 million cut

“Unused funding” (re: Nunavut) = $50 million not re-allocated or otherwise made available

Elimination of funding for First Nations and Inuit Tobacco Control Strategy = $10.8 million cut

Status of Women Canada

“Administrative savings” = $5 million cut (40% of budget), job layoffs, offices closed, organizations unfunded, their offices also closed.

Skills and Literacy Programs

Literacy division of HRSD under one banner = $55.4 million cut

Youth employment subsidies for businesses and organizations = $17.6 million cut

Elimination of the Canada Labour Business Centre

Statistics Canada

“Organizational efficiencies” = $15 million cut & reduced ability to collect vital data

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)

Social economy research program (community outreach) = $2 million cut

Health Canada

Policy Research Program eliminated = $7.5 million

“Health portfolio efficiencies” = $28.1 million was cut through

Foreign Affairs

Youth International Internship Program eliminated = $10.2 million cut

Delays and cutbacks on international postings and outreach programs at Canadian embassies = unknown but substantial cuts

Law Commission of Canada

Eliminated = $3.2 million cut, including two large scale projects on indigenous law and vulnerable workers

Court Challenges Program

Eliminated = $5.6 million cut and no legal assistance for equity-seeking groups who do not have the resources to take forward a legal challenge.

Treasury Board of Canada

Training programs for civil servants = $82 million cut

“Unallocated funds across all departments” = $18 million cut

Elimination of advisory panels in Revenue Canada and Agriculture Canada = unknown amount cut

* This information was culled from a Canadian Association of University Teachers Commentary

Sexist Economics Enrages Me!

Sexist Economics

Sexist Economics by Bernadette L. Wagner

I am a woman, enraged!

I am enraged that global capital, after more than three centuries of greed, continues in its greedy ways, wanting more concessions from government, calling for bigger bottom lines, demanding more, more, more.

I am enraged that women and their children bear the brunt of the greed, living in poverty, suffering illness, dying too young.

I am enraged that governments bend to corporatists, hold tight to neoliberal paths, junk programs that attempt to redress imbalances.

I am enraged that our current economic system is based in a social system of  women as chattel and has not “adjusted” to the reality that women are human beings.

I am enraged that, in economic terms, the work that women do to keep our families healthy and functioning, that moves the economy through its cycles, that makes the world a better place for the many, doesn’t matter.  If it did matter, our GDP would look very different.

I am enraged that the “Feminist Dozen” has yet to be addressed in any real way by any of our governments.

I am enraged that in the 21st century the realities of women’s lives are repeatedly forgotten and dismissed in favour of an economics that degrades and devalues women’s worth.

Crossposted at

Ken Epp’s Phony Act

As promised, here is the article that appeared in the May 22 issue of the prairie dog. Btw, the editor has suggested I invite my fans to “write SHORT letters to the editor praising [my] last column…otherwise how will the dumb editor know anyone reads it?” So, ah, any takers? The address is at the end of the article!

Ken Epp’s Phony Act

Tory member’s legislation is a sneaky attack on reproductive rights

by Bernadette Wagner

“The intent of this law is to give rights to fetuses so that abortion can be re-criminalized.”

Not surprisingly, Ken Epp’s introduction of the Unborn Victims of Crime Act met opposition from pro-choice groups like the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) when it was introduced last fall.

That opposition has continued as the bill slimed its malevolent way through second reading and into committee this past March.

“The intent of this law is to give rights to fetuses so that abortion can be re-criminalized,” said Joyce Arthur, ARCC’s coordinator.

Epp claims the bill provides protection for pregnant women by allowing for two sets of charges to be laid should a pregnant woman be assaulted. While this may sound good, it isn’t. For starters, it attempts to separate a woman’s body from the fetus she carries — hardly a practical notion.

It’s useless in any case — even if two charges could be laid, incarceration time would remain the same. In Canada, sentences are served concurrently.

Many were shocked to see the Conservative MP from Edmonton-Strathcona’s private members bill pass second reading March 5. A Conservative-Liberal anti-choice vote was enough to edge it through the House and on to the Justice Committee for review.

Conservative shenanigans have stalled the Justice Committee from conducting any business so the NDP who, except for one MP, opposed C-484 along with the Bloc, now propose it move to the Standing Committee on the Status of Women.

Fears around C-484 are justified. It contradicts the definition of “human being” already established in Canadian jurisprudence — namely, that a fetus is part of a woman’s body until it is born.

And — despite Epp’s claims to the contrary — this bill would indeed legally establish the fetus as a human being.

Here’s the problem: if the fetus a woman carries has rights, what happens to her rights? This is why, according to ARCC, the bill would endanger reproductive freedom. Any moderately astute anti-choice activist would cite it as a precedent when pushing for re-criminalization.

That Epp did not consult with anti-violence advocates in drafting this legislation should not be a surprise. The membrane of C-484 is thin; it is clearly about establishing fetal rights. “Pregnant women don’t need Bill C-484. They need the men in their lives to stop being violent,” wrote Coalition Against Violence coordinator Vyda Ng in the Western Star.

In the U.S., laws like this are being used to police, arrest and jail women. And the rates of violence against women, pregnant or otherwise, are not dropping.

Epp’s claim to “protect women” is paternalistic at best and disingenuous at worst. “There is something seriously wrong with our system when the so-called ‘right’ to end a pregnancy takes away another pregnant woman’s right to have her wanted baby protected in law.” he said in a recent newspaper commentary. But Canada has laws which prohibit assault against women, men and children. And as part of a woman’s body, a fetus is protected.

Epp’s legislation “would not protect pregnant women, and would do nothing to respond to violence against women,” says Arthur on ARCC’s website. “The Criminal Code already recognizes that spousal violence is an aggravating factor in sentencing. Judges already do recognize pregnancy as an aggravating factor in sentencing,” she says.

Epp’s suggestion that women’s reproductive rights trump pregnant women’s rights makes no sense. His attempt to pit the one idea against the other is spin which detracts from the real issue: good old-fashioned intolerance of women’s rights to make decisions about their own bodies.

A Facebook group in support of C-484 states that the bill is “a key step in recriminalizing abortion.” A social-conservative blogger dubbed C-484 the “Kicking Abortion’s Ass bill”.

Clearly, this bill is part of an incrementalist strategy, typical of the Harperites, to attack women’s reproductive freedoms. As Harper struggles to win favour with women voters, it’s unlikely he’ll be able to wipe the blood from his hands on the matter of women’s reproductive choice.

SaskParty MLA calls NDP MLA a “dumb bitch”

Well, it is not surprising to this SK citizen that the SaskParty’s MLA for Cut Knife-Turtleford, Mike Chisholm, called the NDP MLA for Moose Jaw Wakamow and the former Minister of Labour, Deb Higgins, a “dumb bitch” in a legislative committee meeting this week. It didn’t surprise me at all. I wish it had.

But no, Chisholm is from rural Saskatchewan where that is just the way women are often treated. Many women, even those who consider themselves feminist, are afraid to speak their minds lest they be ostracized — or worse — by the men in their communities. It’s appalling, to say the least!

And yes, Premier Wall can accept some of the blame for this. His less than convincing response to a videotape featuring racist comments, sexist slurs and homophobic hatred in which he and some of his current colleagues were featured players did little to quell the rampant sexism in the province. And the premier had no choice, given what he did say in response to the video, to accept Chisholm’s resignation as legislative secretary.

But the NDP can assume some of the responsibility for this, too. Had the initiatives set forth by the Saskatchewan Women’s Agenda of the early 90’s been adopted by the government of the day, the very culture of the province would have become a lot less sexist. However, that was not the case. Sexists and misogynists within the NDP were able to get away with writing off the Women’s Agenda as that of “feminazis”, of radical feminists. And today, one of their own, one of the women who withstood all the sexist shit thrown at her, still has to be subjected to it.

Will this be a lesson for the NDP? One can hope, but I doubt it.

Here’s the CBC’s story on the issue.
MLA apologizes after making offensive comment against Opposition member
Last Updated: Thursday, May 8, 2008 | 10:41 AM CT
CBC News

A Saskatchewan Party MLA has apologized and resigned as a legislative secretary after referring to an NDP member as a “dumb bitch.”

Mike Chisholm, the MLA for Cut Knife-Turtleford, made the comment Wednesday in a legislative committee in reference to New Democrat Deb Higgins, who represents Moose Jaw Wakamow.

The comment came just after Chisholm had been complaining about language used by an NDP MLA.

On Thursday, Chisholm told the legislature he had submitted his resignation as legislative secretary to Premier Brad Wall, and Wall accepted it.

“I have no excuse,” he said. “I was wrong and it shouldn’t have been thought or said.” Chisholm will retain his seat and remain in the government caucus.

Chisholm made a reference to Wall’s recent call to MLAs to be more careful about using insulting language.

That followed after a 17-year-old videotape of Wall surfaced showing him at a social gathering making jokes in a Ukrainian accent.

A Project to Raise Awareness of Sexual Violence

Several years ago I served on the Board of Directors of the Regina Women’s Community Centre and Sexual Assault Line. It was an important way for me to give back to the Centre which had helped me come to some kind of peace with my experience of a date rape that had occurred in my late teens. For too long, I had blamed myself, even though I had loudly and clearly said, NO!

It disturbed me when I saw the video featuring Premier Wall, MP Tom Lukiwski, and those anonymous Conservative men denigrating women in the way they did. It bothers me that they have not yet apologized to the women of the province, for the role they have played in promoting sexism and sexist behaviour. And it disturbed me even more, then, when I learned this:

Regina has the third highest rate of sexual assault per capita in Canada (Statistics Canada 2006).

Now, many of you know that I’m not a major fan of Mayor Pat Fiacco, but I’ll give him credit for this:

Mayor Pat Fiacco has proclaimed the week of April 13 to 19 Sexual Assault Awareness Week. It is time to Draw The Line against sexual violence in our city.

The Regina Women’s Community Centre and Sexual Assault Line have organized this event:

A Project to Raise Awareness of Sexual Violence

Bring a t-shirt to decorate to honour yourself or someone you know who has experienced sexual assault

Regina City Hall Courtyard
April 19, 2008
12:00 p.m. — 2:00 p.m.

Sexual Assault affects us all; young and old.

Please come support this event because survivors of sexual assault are someone’s mother, sister, grandmother, aunt, daughter, niece, friend, or even someone’s father, brother, uncle, or son.

Thank you in advance from all of us at The Regina Women’s Community Centre & Sexual Assault Line for sharing this message with those you know and love.

I can be at this event for only a short while as my daughter arrives home from her immersion experience that afternoon (YAY!!!). I’ll hope that this awareness campaign can prevent all of our daughters from experiencing what I experienced when I was just a wee bit older than my daughter is now.

Nurses livid! Proposal “most regressive in SUN’s history”!

There’s so much going on in this province right now, most of it quite frightening. I’m going to start with the most recent and work my way back as time permits over the course of the weekend. This media advisory, from the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses outlines the attack on nurses in SK. This, at a time when SK is experiencing unprecedented economic growth!

Friday, April 4, 2008
<<<Regina>>>The Saskatchewan Union of Nurses says that the province’s regional health authorities have tabled the most regressive contract proposals in SUN’s history, and has predicted that hundreds of nurses will either resign or retire early in response.
The union is calling for the Minister of Health to replace the department officials and regional health authority leadership that is responsible for what SUN President Rosalee Longmoore describes as “a destructive and malicious attack on nurses and safe patient care and a crude attempt to tear up the SUN/Government Partnership.”
Longmoore says, “They are refusing to commit to fill current vacancies, because they are using the vacancies to balance their budgets. Instead, they have submitted proposals that would require nurses to work unlimited overtime. That’s not a retention strategy – that’s a detention strategy that will backfire -nurses cannot work more and more overtime. They have a professional obligation to refuse more overtime if they are too tired to provide safe patient care. They will refuse, or they will just quit.”
SUN says that regional health authorities want to muzzle nurses who report instances where safe patient care is being jeopardized. According to Longmoore, “Nurses went on strike in 1988 and 1999 to get the right to report in writing to supervisors when patient care is jeopardized. Nurses are obligated by legislation and professional standards to protect patient safety – we will never give that up.”
“The Minister of Health is going to have to decide – how long is he going to continue to let his own Ministry officials and regional health authorities try to tear up the SUN/Government Partnership and avoid implementing it? How would the worst contract in SUN’s history help the government achieve its retention and recruitment targets? The retention and recruitment proposals from the Partnership must be binding in the collective agreement, or regional health authorities will continue to defy the Minister,” said Longmoore.
The union has advised Conciliator Doug Forseth that they are adjourning contract talks until after their annual meeting on April 23-25.
To speak to a SUN representative, please call:
Rosalee Longmoore, SUN President (306) 539-6162 (cell)

Status of Women in SK

Spring has sprung and the regina mom has been busy offline.

Imagine my surprise, when gathered with a few others, I learned that Premier Wall believes that women in Saskatchewan have equality! I’ve been working for women’s equality for more than twenty years now, so I’m totally amazed!  A brief scan of his Cabinet confirms it, however.  There is no Minister Responsible for the Status of Women.

I mean, really, we should have seen it coming, what with his buddy-buddy-ness with PM Harper.  For some reason, however, I believed that Wall really was going to be different.  But in fact he is more like the NDP than ever.  He is more of the same-old, same-old graduate Saskatchewan Old Boys’ Club in which the Saskatchewan NDP’s old boys held memberships.

And that’s terrible news for the women of Saskatchewan, women who will be even further marginalized by uncaring white men with power.

Enterprise SK is Unfair to Women

The Sask Party government has been in power about two months. And SK women are already being shafted.

SK Enterprise and Innovation sent out 300 invitations to SK groups and businesses asking for their nominations for candidates to serve on the board of Enterprise SK. Of those 300, a grand total of two were issued to women’s organizations. Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan, an excellent organization which has helped many SK women to be successful businesspersons, received both of those invitations!

Membership in the Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan Inc. has grown to over 820 since the organization was founded in 1995. To date, Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan Inc. has assisted over 27,600 women with information and path finding services; has provided business training sessions for over 13,750 women; has scheduled over 20,550 business advisory appointments; and received over 318,000 unique visits to the website. In addition, Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan has lent over $13.4 million from its loan fund to help women start, expand or purchase existing businesses in the province and leveraged an additional $10.3 million in funding.

Not surprisingly, women’s businesses do very well in this province. In fact, women’s businesses do well all over. And it’s because women know how best to organize their lives for success. According to the book, Ladies Who Launch: Embracing Entrepreneurship & Creativity as a Lifestyle, women’s creative and intuitive capacities make them more successful and happy in their own businesses. Women think creatively differently from men. It’s part of the feminine process, according to the authors of Ladies Who Launch.

Ah yes, but we in SK are apparently too backwoods and backwards and sexist to admit that, to celebrate that. Instead, we’re supposed to be happy that women of Saskatchewan will be guaranteed a whopping .67 percent — yes, that’s right less than one percent — of the nominations to the Board of Enterprise SK.

I say, blow it out your ear, Brad! We want more. We deserve more. And it’s up to you, as Premier to all the people in the province  — women are people, too, you know — to honour our capacity and our success.

We have not come very far, good women, if this is how we’re treated by the powers that be. Our contributions to the economy, to the wisdom of enterprise continue to be soundly ignored by the men who are running the province. And this will continue to happen because the patterns already so deeply entrenched will be even more deeply entrenched by the body appointed to advise government on the economic policies for the future.

These policies will impact not only us, but also our daughters and our granddaughters and our families. We have to speak out on this; we have to change the course of history and make it our story, too.

Please add your name to the comments section below. I’ll forward the list to Minister Stewart and Premier Wall. If you have time to do more, please click on the links and send a message to the Minister and the Premier. I know they’ll want to hear from as many as possible on this issue.

And hey, thanks for stopping by!

The Regina Mom

PS:  Boys and men are welcome to sign in, too!