Oh Canada, We Stand On Guard For Thee, Eh!

I don’t consider myself to be a patriotic person. In fact, patriotism is something I’ve never encouraged in anyone. I think it’s dangerous, quite frankly.

Democracy and participation in the democratic process, well, that’s something else entirely! What’s happening in Canada right now, with the surge of clicking on Facebook and the creation of this website, is something that should make our Prime Minister a little nervous.

Yes, Canadians are ticked that the Harper Conservatives have given themselves an extended Christmas break by proroguing Parliament. But I’m not convinced that’s the only reason Canadians are making the click. The majority of Canadians are not happy with the Harper government. And, in my experience, Canadians don’t like being dismissed as silly or not caring because really, compared to many, we are a heartful bunch. We have a social safety net and yes, it could be stronger. We have socialized medicine and yes, it could be better. We have a decent education system and yes, it needs work, too. We could do more and better in a lot of areas, certainly, but not with Herr Harper at the helm and Canadians know that.

And now it appears that Canadians are recognizing that our democratic institutions also need improvements. These are the conversations we can have while our MP’s are posing for photo ops in their constituencies and at the Olympics. And these are the conversations we can bring to the next election, whenever that may be.

I hesitate to say it, lest I sound patriotic, but, well, WAYTAGO, CANADA, WAYTAGO!

Taking Action on Climate Change

Several weeks ago I received an email inviting me to be part of an international action on climate justice.

 

Climate Justice Fast! aims to send a powerful message to members of the public who are as yet unaware of the urgency of climate action, as well as to inspire those who are already aware of climate change to become more politically active. In addition, our act will serve as a powerful reminder to our leaders of the importance, and moral consequences, of their decisions on climate change. We believe that hunger striking could not be more appropriate for the issue of climate change. We desperately need to bring attention to the enormity of its injustice, and to alert the general public to the urgency of climate action.

 

 

On Friday, the Climate Justice Fast! got started with a news conference in Barcelona, Spain and with 80 people in 13 countries signed up to fast.  A core group began a water-only fast on November 6 and will continue on through the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen from December 7 to 18.  The fasters are prepared to go beyond that date.  Talk about commitment!  I signed on early, almost immediately upon hearing about it, actually.  But I knew I could not commit to the full fast because of familial and professional commitments.  I did decide to fast for at least one day per week over the six weeks.  Today is the first of what I’m calling my solidarity fast.  I want to show support for the long-term fasters, demonstrate my commitment to the issue and be part of a long tradition, a tradition which in the past century includes determined British suffragettes, the amazing Mahatma Gandhi and, more recently, a Canadian grandmother, Donna Dillman.

 

As a feminist activist, my concern on the climate change issue focuses on the lives of women and children — people already treated as second class citizens the world over.  Climate change is making their lives even worse.  From Save The Children UK:

 

Quick facts: climate change and children
– In the next decade, up to 175 million children are likely to be affected every year by the kinds of natural disasters brought about by climate change. 1
– The percentage of the world’s population exposed to malaria, one of the biggest killers of children under the age of five, is expected to increase from 45 per cent to 60 per cent in the next 100 years due to climate change. 2
– By 2010, there will be 50 million ‘environmentally displaced people’, most of whom will be women and children. 3

The year 2010 begins 50 sleeps from today in my part of the world.  It is imperative that our world leaders take immediate action!  Even though the mild chills and hunger pangs I am enduring today seem so very small I know that I am support those who are doing something very big — risking their lives — in order to get those leaders not only to listen but also to act.  CJF!’s call for justice:

We, the participants of Climate Justice Fast!, are undertaking our international
hunger strike in order to call upon world leaders – and all people, everywhere –
to act with courage and good faith for our common, global good, by implementing
the most rapid possible transition to stabilise atmospheric greenhouse gases

below 350ppm CO2-e
, and by committing to deliver justice for the global poor
and future generations
– who are the least responsible for causing
climate change, yet who suffer the most from its effects.

Climate Justice for the poor and for future generations can be delivered by
funding climate adaptation and mitigation activities in developing nations with
at least US$160 billion per year; by reducing and
rejecting over-consumption,
wherever it exists, and by
phasing out fossil fuels completely – starting with
the elimination of developed countries’ fossil fuel subsidies, shifting them wholly to
renewable energy and international climate finance.

We urge all people, everywhere, to make a commitment to
join the movement for climate justice,
and to not to give up until we succeed in these demands being met.


Feeling doubtful?  Well, let me leave you with Margaret Mead’s words:  “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Climate Justice Fast!

I am using today, Blog Action Day, to let readers know that in recent weeks I have become involved in an international action in regard to climate change and climate justice.  As part of the international group wanting to move our leaders to take climate change and climate justice seriously at the upcoming meetings in Copenhagen, I have decided to act in solidarity with those who will take on a 42-day Climate Justice Fast! in the spirit of Ghandi and others.  Though I am unable to commit to the full six-week fast for a variety of reasons, I am committing to 1 to 2 days per week.

Here is our statement:

We, the participants of Climate Justice Fast!, are undertaking our international hunger strike in order to call upon world leaders – and all people, everywhere – to act with courage and good faith for our common, global good, by implementing the most rapid possible transition to stabilise atmospheric greenhouse gases below 350ppm CO2-e, and by committing to deliver justice for the global poor and future generations – who are the least responsible for causing climate change, yet who suffer the most from its effects.
.
Climate Justice for the poor and for future generations can be delivered by funding climate adaptation and mitigation activities in developing nations with at least US$160 billion per year; by reducing and rejecting over-consumption, wherever it exists, and by phasing out fossil fuels completely – starting with the elimination of developed countries’ fossil fuel subsidies, shifting them wholly to renewable energy and international climate finance.
.
We urge all people, everywhere, to making a commitment to join the movement for climate justice, and to not to give up until we succeed in these demands being met.

.

I invite you to join with us, be it for the full fast, a week or two, a day or two, or a meal or two or in spirit.

.

You can read more about fasting on our website.

.

Know that I do this out of a deep love for our planet and all its beings.

TRM @ Vertigo

Well, in case you somehow escaped my email and Facebook messaging, here’s notice that I’ll be giving a public reading at the autumn opener of the Vertigo Reading Series. Come out on Monday, September 28 to hear a Saskatchewan quartet of writers — Sheri Benning, Randy Lundy, David Sealy and me — share our words. The show gets underway sometime around 7 p.m. at  Aegean Coast Coffee and Tea, 1901 Hamilton Street (corner of 12th Ave & Hamilton St), in Regina.

See you there!

And because I’m feeling generous, a still-drafty poem to honour the work of the Prairie Lily Feminist Society!

There’s a war on women

and the United Nations knows it, created the Convention

on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination

Against Women. CEDAW.

See, duh? It’s true.

There’s discrimination. Otherwise, why

are women 52% of the world’s population

and own only 1% of its land.

There’s a global war on women

but no one’s talking about it, not really.

CEDAW’s not working so well, the UN’s shifted

to Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) to fight an msg headache

the size of which no one wants to believe.

Women world-wide live in poverty, violence, disease

targetted by goals to make change. Goals.

There’s a war on women and it’s happening in Canada, too.

Mulroney and the boyz axed NAC, dissed

women’s work for equality. Chretien kept it up.

Chopped away at women’s programs, goodbye Cretin

and hello Paul Martin, Minister of Finance turned PM,

carried the axe for far too long.

There’s a war on women

and now Harper’s leading the charge.

No need for equality. Mandates

for feminism. Organizations which won significant rights —

Charter rights

reproductive choice

employment equity

same sex marriage —

goodbye.  A left-wing fringe group? Huh?

There’s a war on women

and it’s happening here, in Saskatchewan, too.

Ah, but the NDP, they’re different!

Not! Romanow and Link, lovers of feminists

until elected, tossed us aside in favour of debt reduction, big biz,

derided us as too radical. Quietly called us feminazis. Calvert

closed Women’s Sec, purged policy wonks

too Keynesian, captured headline praises from Fraser’s Institute,

that rightwing think tank the Harperites love.

There’s a war on women

and it’s here and now

Premier Wall won’t appoint a woman

to be Responsible for our status,

won’t balance gender on Enterprise SK,

and assigns 12 men to decide our uranium future.

He’d rather men continue their war

leaving us in poverty, earning 70 cents on a dollar

while his boyz call us dumb bitches .

There’s a war on women

and it’s right here and now

It’s right in your face, if you dare open

your eyes.

There’s a war on women

and we’re standing up to it.

Brave lilies, a feminist society, organizing.

—B. L. Wagner

We have become so accustomed

Word.

We have become so accustomed to living in a society saturated with misogyny that the barbaric treatment of women and girls has come to be more or less expected.

We profess to being shocked at one or another of these outlandish crimes, but the shock wears off quickly in an environment in which the rape, murder and humiliation of females is not only a staple of the news, but an important cornerstone of the nation’s entertainment.

The mainstream culture is filled with the most gruesome forms of misogyny, and pornography is now a multibillion-dollar industry — much of it controlled by mainstream U.S. corporations.

Life in the United States is mind-bogglingly violent. But we should take particular notice of the staggering amounts of violence brought down on the nation’s women and girls each and every day for no other reason than who they are. They are attacked because they are female.

A girl or woman somewhere in the U.S. is sexually assaulted every couple of minutes or so. The number of seriously battered wives and girlfriends is far beyond the ability of any agency to count.

There were so many sexual attacks against women in the armed forces that the Defense Department had to revise its entire approach to the problem.

We would become much more sane, much healthier, as a society if we could bring ourselves to acknowledge that misogyny is a serious and pervasive problem, and that the twisted way so many men feel about women, combined with the absurdly easy availability of guns, is a toxic mix of the most tragic proportions.

BOB HERBERT, “Women At Risk,” New York Times Op-Ed, August 7, 2009 <http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/08/opinion/08herbert.html?_r=2>

Do both Harper and Iggy hate women?

Well, we know the Harper hates women. But Iggy, too?

Let’s see.  Iggy supported Harper’s budget which saw a continuation of Harper’s attack on women. And Iggy encouraged the Senate to push it through even though Senators had problems with it. And Iggy’s done nothing to appease women since taking the helm of the Liberal Party of Canada.

But now, this seems to ice the cake, so to speak.

Grit insiders say the federal Liberals are unlikely to nominate one-third female candidates in the next election and that the new Liberal leader’s main focus is finding winnable candidates rather than focusing on gender.

Oh, the backlash against feminism is strong, isn’t it?  And now we have two federal party leaders jumping on that bandwagon!

What’s a girl to do?  Sure, quotas are the only answer.  But hello?  Have you read any research about the impact on women’s and children’s lives when at least 1/3 of the movers and shakers are women?  It’s huge!  It’s as though women’s lives suddenly matter, as though women finally get taken seriously.  Does Iggy know anything about CEDAW?

It appears that, no, he does not.  He’s too busy cosying up to the big boys in the sandbox, those who don’t want to share their toys with half the population.  Like I say, Liberal, Tory, same old story.

Thanks to Challenging the Commonplace for the pointer.

2009 Budget & Women

“The budget also contains no mention of childcare spaces and maintains the attack on women’s ability to pursue pay equity complaints.”

New Democratic Party of Canada

On today’s tax cuts

“Those making more will get more”
Gilles Duceppe, 27 January 2009, CBC-TV

(Link: TBA)

Saskatchewan on the leading edge…of child poverty

[rant]

I’ve blogged about this before.

In 2006 nearly one in every five Saskatchewan children were living in families with incomes below the low-income cutoff line, according to a new report released Friday.

According to the 2008 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Canada this province’s child poverty rate is the second highest in the country, following only British Columbia. It would be even higher if the report included children inFirst Nations communities where it is estimated one in four lives in poverty.


I’ve blogged it in passing, here at rabble, and in more detail over here. I’ve also written about it for magazines and newspapers, in lobby documents and various other places. I don’t know why I bother.

“We have been dealing with this issue for almost 20 years and the numbers have not been changed in any significant way,” said Ailsa Watkinson, a member of the University of Regina Faculty of Social Work Social Policy Research Unit.

In fact, according to Watkinson, the depth of poverty has grown as the disparity between the rich and the poor widens.

Does anyone really care?  Hell no!  But apparently, the economy and the corporations are more important.  The markets have feelings, too, don’t you know?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, speaking here on the eve of the APEC leaders’ summit, said markets “remain in a state of fear” and vowed to take “unprecedented fiscal actions if they are necessary” to stimulate economic growth and ease tightened credit conditions.

The markets are “in a state of fear.” Right. Markets have feelings, don’t they? Perhaps children do not.  Perhaps children are supposed to continue to bear the brunt of neoliberal and neoconservative agendas that have dominated our culture for the past two decades.  Perhaps children really don’t matter.  I mean, after all, they’re really just a burden, aren’t they?  A liability?  That’s really what political doctrine dictates, isn’t it?  The federal Mulroney/Chretien/Martin/Harper governments as well as the provincial Devine/Romanow/Calvert/Wall ones of the last 20 years have not cared about kids. They certainly didn’t take “unprecedented fiscal actions” when it was necessary to help kids!

Canadians — and Saskatchewanians, in particular — let’s just admit it, ok?  When it comes to tending to the needs of children, to the wellbeing of our future, politicians of all political stripes are effing LOSERS!

They penalize women for pregnancy, taking away almost 50 percent of their wages.  They force females through hell by refusing to provide decent, affordable, quality childcare to them when they’re ready to re-enter the workforce.  They place women at an economic disadvantage by providing next to nothing financially when women place their children in care or when they choose to stay at home.  And, on top of all that, they refuse to recognize in any meaningful way that the work women do in rearing the children contributes to the economy!

What kind of sick, sick effing world is this?

And we all know how much the corporate sector does for children, too, don’t we?  Of course, they’ll donate a couple of bucks to a program here, provide bling for a raffle there, take pretty pictures, and say they’re good corporate citizens while they rape our land, overcharge us for mostly useless goods and services, grossly overpay their executives, and run away with billions in profits.

All this they do while one child in four lives in poverty in my province.  It is despicable!

Markets have feelings?  Go to hell! Corporations care?  Chuck you, Farley! I spit in your face!

[/rant]

Congratulations, Citizens of the USA and the World!

There is little to say beyond that, right now.  There is much that needs to be done, but for now at least, we can breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate that there is some hope for a kinder, gentler world.  Well done, USA.  And thank you.  Very.  Much.

The USAs First Family To Be

The USA's First Family To Be