Happy International Women’s Day!

Oh, the regina mom‘s been a busy woman this past year! Marketing a book takes time and energy in the planning and carrying out. Needless to say, this blog has fallen by the wayside.

However, I could not miss the opportunity to wish my readers a happy International Women’s Day and to share a piece I was asked to write for the Equity Issue the Prairie Dog published last week. The editor contacted me, requesting a rant and, of course, I could not say no. But, later that day, when I attended my meditation class and we talked about “wise speech” and were invited to practice it over the upcoming week I realized that I could not write this rant in my usual way.

It was a challenge, indeed, to say what needed to be said in a wise way. And so, I’m curious what you, dear reader, think.

And here’s the rant, as published in The Dog:

Beyond Despair

Women survive, against all odds.

Even though we women make up 52 per cent of the global population and we own only one per cent of the land, we survive.

Even though climate change impacts women around the world more harshly (try gathering wood, food, water in a drought zone or flood zone every day), we survive.

Even though we earn 73 per cent the wages of men and are over-represented in part-time, low-pay jobs, and even though the world economies once counted us as chattel and told us our work was not work, we survive.

Even though cooking, cleaning and caregiving, the three Cs of women’s work, are worth between $234 and $374 billion in labour that remains unpaid, and even though we never received the national childcare program we were promised and yet we still find time to fill the gaps when governments offload services onto communities and families, we survive.

Even though, right here in Saskatchewan, one child in five – a full 20 per cent – live without adequate food, shelter and clothing, and even though more than 43,000 of our children live in poverty and 60 per cent of children living in households headed by a lone woman live in poverty, and children around the world continue to live in deep poverty, we survive.

Even though governments dismally fail to acknowledge our inequality, respect our issues – or even hear our voices – and instead, privatize economic decision-making, grant corporations more rights and less taxes, doctor documents, cut funding to programs, close doors to our organizations, oppose same sex marriages, peel back our reproductive rights, ignore our human rights, spurn and deride us, tell us to “go slowly,” that we’re “too radical” and dismiss us as “dumb bitches” or “Feminazis,” we survive.

Even though violence against us is epidemic the world over – we are assaulted emotionally, psychologically, physically, sexually – even though 50 per cent of us will experience violence to our person in our lifetime and we have sisters, daughters, grand-daughters who are treated as illegal goods to be trafficked and sold into sexual slavery, and even though we are stoned to death, gunned down, disappeared or murdered, we survive.

Even though we live our lives in the global war waged against us right here and right now, as it has for centuries – even though we die daily, we survive.

We survive because we are strong.

We are strong because we are one community. We are one community with a diverse population: women of colour, Indigenous, Métis women, who have immigrated, emigrated, who are refugees, who are urban, rural, peasant, homeless women, are mothers, grandmothers, child-free, who are sex workers, waged workers, volunteer workers, who are lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, queer, are religious, atheist, agnostic, spiritual, women with disabilities, healing powers, visions, who are older, younger, middle-aged…

We survive because we are coming to know the power of diversity, to know our power as women. And we know that our time to wield power is at hand.

c. 2011 Bernadette L. Wagner

Happy IWD!

Col. Williams: Other questions lurk

The horrific crimes perpetrated by Canadian Forces‘ Colonel, Russell Williams, have forced those of us who’d rather not, to look at disturbing images which were presented as evidence in the courtroom.  You won’t find a link to those images here.  Why the media insists these images are publishable news, that this is a story of fetishism, is beyond me!  It’s sensationalist journalism, at best.  At worst, it’s abuse of the privilege and power afforded to the corporate media in this culture.   The media grabbed onto the wrong narrative.

As feminist blogger and activist, Elizabeth Pickett, points out, this story is about power and control, about the predatory behaviour of a decorated Colonel.  And the media has failed — royally — to tell that story.  Instead, they give several column inches to the Prime Minister’s defense of the Canadian Forces, where he named the Forces as victim.  Oh, yes, he did mention the direct victims, but only as an afterthought.  See what Dave, at the Galloping Beaver has to say about that!  Harper’s spin simply shows him for the misogynist he truly is.

As despicable as the PM is the police force that did not believe the crimes several female victims reported, that did not warn women that a perp was on the loose, and that took far too long to solve the case.  Antonia Zerbisias has been on the story from the get-go.  And she has been in recent conversation with one of the assault survivors who said:

I feel liked chopped liver & I can’t even comprehend how the little one is feeling. Now if I could get a message out to the masses it would be-if you survive a violent act of sex don’t report it, just run for cover & find your own protection minus the police & the system they represent.

Says a lot in a couple of sentences, doesn’t she?  The police force should be apologizing, rather than patting themselves on the back!  Their job was not well done.  Far from it!  One mainstream journalist at the Toronto Star finally got that part figured out:

Col. Russell Williams is a burglar, predator, rapist, torturer and killer. There’s nothing titillating about that and his crimes shouldn’t be viewed through the distorting prism of Tweety Bird underwear, lacy lingerie and puerile voyeurism. (Emphasis mine)

In a Facebook discussion, a friend posed another question.  Colonel Williams served our country in different parts of the world.  Predators do not become predators overnight.  Predatory behavior escalates.  So, are there women in other parts of the world who were violated by him?  Will we ever know?  Will anyone ever look?  Or, is that information already there, labeled classified, and hidden from the citizenry in the name of national security?  Could the Forces be a co-conspirator to these crimes?

So, there you go, MSM, we’ve done your thinking for you.  Now, will you dare to seek out the answers?

40 years post-Bird…

Need I really add more?
SEPTEMBER 28, 2010

OTTAWA – Today marks the 40th Anniversary of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women Report, which was groundbreaking for women’s equality in Canada. Sadly, many of the recommendations still have not been implemented.

“Many things have changed for women over the past 40 years,” said New Democrat Status of Women Critic Irene Mathyssen, (London-Fanshawe). “Married women can now enlist in the Canadian Forces and the minimum wage for men and women is the same. But amazingly, four decades later, we’re still waiting for many of the recommendations from the Royal Commission to be implemented.

“New Democrats will continue to push forward policies and legislation that originally were recommended in the Royal Commission report – such as pay equity, equal representation in public office, improvement in the conditions in the lives of First Nations women and establishing a national Child Care Act,” said Mathyssen.

Mathyssen condemns the lack of action taken by the Harper government. Its outright opposition to women’s rights has turned back the clock on women’s equality. Whether it is cutting funding to women’s organizations, abandoning the court challenges program or ending real pay equity for federal workers, this government has shown a complete disregard for women’s rights.

“New Democrats have led the way in advancing women’s equality in Canada,” said Mathyssen. “We’ve been vocal and consistent in defending reproductive rights, breaking the silence on domestic violence, electing the first female federal leader of a political party and electing the highest proportion of women Members of Parliament.”

For more information, please contact:
Rupinder Kaur, press secretary: 613-222-5048 or rupinder@ndp.ca




OTTAWA – Aujourd’hui marque le quarantième anniversaire du rapport de la Commission royale sur la condition féminine, un rapport innovateur pour l’égalité des femmes au Canada. Malheureusement, plusieurs des recommandations du rapport n’ont toujours pas été mises en œuvre.

« Beaucoup de choses ont changé pour les femmes depuis 40 ans, » a déclaré Irene Mathyssen (London-Fanshawe), porte-parole du NPD en matière Condition féminine. « Les femmes mariées peuvent maintenant s’engager dans les Forces armées canadiennes, et le salaire minimum pour les hommes et les femmes est équivalent. Mais ce qui est surprenant, c’est qu’après quarante ans, nous attendions encore que plusieurs des recommandations de la Commission royale soient mise en œuvre. »

« Le NPD continuera à présenter des politiques et des législations qui étaient au départ des recommandations du rapport de la Commission royale, comme l’équité salariale, la représentation égale dans la fonction publique, l’amélioration de la qualité de vie des femmes des Premières nations et la mise en place d’une loi nationale sur les garderies, » a de plus ajouté Mathyssen.

La députée du NPD condamne le manque d’initiative du gouvernement Harper. Son opposition aux droits des femmes est un malheureux retour en arrière pour l’égalité des femmes. Qu’il s’agisse des coupures aux groupes de femmes, l’abandon du programme de contestation judiciaire ou la fin de l’équité salariale réelle pour les travailleurs fédéraux, ce gouvernement a démontré un mépris véritable pour les droits des femmes.

« Le NPD a mené la voie pour faire avancer l’égalité des femmes au Canada, » a par ailleurs expliqué Mathyssen. « Nous avons fait entendre notre voix de manière persistante pour défendre les droits reproductifs des femmes, pour briser le silence entourant la violence domestique, en élisant la première femme en tant que chef d’un parti politique fédéral et en faisant élire la plus grande proportion de femmes comme députés. »

– 30 –

Pour obtenir de plus amples informations, veuillez communiquer avec :
Rupinder Kaur, attachée de presse : 613-222-5048 ou rupinder@ndp.ca

Women threatened while held in T.O. detention @ G20

I am so angry I am sick to my stomach. I’m about to cry because what I’ve discovered is too horrendous!

Amy Miller is an independent journalist aka a freelancer who was throttled and taken down then detained for 13 hours in Toronto on the weekend. She tells of harassment by the police — threats of gangbanging and rape — as well as of one woman who was strip-searched by a male officer and inappropriately touched, i.e. fingered. This is absofuckinglutely reprehensible!

Watch it here and then let’s determine how we, as the feminist movement, will respond to these atrocities in our own country.

Uppitydate: The Toronto Star has additional accounts of police harassment, abuse and brutality.

Uppidtydate 2: Another account, thanks to Joanne in the comments.

What Harper’s Done to Canadian Social Programs

I wrote this for rabble.ca 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

Alice Walker on Encountering the Horror

From the Voices Education Project

Alice Walker is one of my favourite American poets and political activists. She is, I believe, a role model for all poets and all citizens of the world. In her recent essay, OVERCOMING SPEECHLESSNESS: A Poet Encounters “the horror” in Rwanda, Eastern Congo and Palestine/Israel,” she details the horrors of hatre,d and the amazing capacity of women to survive, with references to each of those locations, most particularly Gaza.

There is no hiding what Israel has done or what it does on a daily basis to protect and extend its power. It uses weapons that cut off limbs without bleeding; it drops bombs into people’s homes that never stop detonating in the bodies of anyone who is hit; it causes pollution so severe it is probable that Gaza may be uninhabitable for years to come, though Palestinians, having nowhere else to go, will have to live there.

She reminds us that Israel fed the South African Apartheid government a diet of arms and expertise,  but that regime fell thanks to worldwide pressure.  She encourages each of us to take action, to speak out, to make our voices heard so that we bring down the Israeli regime.

Building a wedge

Already, there are splits in Iggy’s Liberal caucus.  Two Newfoundland and Labrador Members of Parliament are threatening to oppose the federal budget unless there are amendments.  This is a result of constituent action.

If women are a constituency, then it makes sense that Canadian women contact the Liberal critic responsible for the status of women, Anita Neville, because the budget fails women in a huge way:

– continues the attack on pay equity in the civil service

– provides no support to the working poor or those living in poverty

– does nothing to provide desperately-needed childcare supports

– provides stimulus to male-dominated areas of the economy, further ghettoizing the “pink ghetto

Mention any and all of these (& more) in your communications with the Liberal MP, Hon. Anita Neville (Winnipeg South Centre):

Parliament Hill Office

House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6
Telephone: (613) 992-9475
Fax: (613) 992-9586
EMail: Neville.A@parl.gc.ca
Web Site:* www.anitaneville.ca/
Preferred Language: English

Constituency Offices

Unit D – 729 Corydon Avenue,
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3M 0W4
Telephone: (204) 983-1355
Fax: (204) 984-3979

I mean, really, what century is this, anyway?

UPDATE:  As Beijing York suggests below, it wouldn’t hurt to also email the leaders of the opposition parties.  DuceppeLaytonIgnatieff.

An anti-woman rampage

As published in Regina’s Prairie Dog and Saskatoon’s Planet S.


Intentional or not, Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivered another bitchslap to Canadian women in the economic and fiscal update his finance minister, Jim Flaherty, delivered on Nov. 27.

Sure, he took swipes at political parties and unions and promised to sell off public assets, too. And he also attacked women’s right to equal pay for work of equal value within the federal civil service.

Harper apparently hates anything to do with equal rights for women. As a result, women don’t vote for him. Maybe that’s why instead of wooing us, he takes extreme measures to further punish us.

Just look what he’s done in the past: he smacked down a national child care plan, killed off the Court Challenges program, attacked women’s reproductive freedom by supporting Bill C-484, axed jobs at Status of Women Canada (SWC) and eliminated the word “equality” from its mandate, silenced advocacy groups, shut down community-based women’s organizations and stripped money from women’s agencies and programs.

And the list goes on.

Now, he spins a pay-out of “over $4 billion in pay equity settlements” as an extraneous expense for government? Hello? That’s money stolen from women! Women who performed work equivalent to men in the federal civil service were paid less simply because they were women. It’s money they earned. The Canadian Human Rights Commission said so in 1984. That was 24 years ago! In 1999, after 15 years of legal wrangling, the Federal Court of Canada agreed women had been short-changed and ordered the government to cough up.

Some women have died waiting for their fair share. But Harper’s revenge would see those payments slow down. And their right to pay equity subjected to contract negotiations.

And their right to strike eliminated.

Gilles Duceppe was the first to stand up to Harper, accusing him of using the economic crisis as an excuse to attack women’s rights. “[The government] has decided to attack women’s rights by submitting their right to pay equity to negotiation,” he said. “Since when are rights negotiable?”

Since when, indeed! Some women I know want Gilles as PM. Others, including the Ad Hoc Coalition for Women’s Equality and Human Rights, say that “the prospect of a coalition government means that things are definitely looking up for women.”

No kidding! What would be worse for women than another day of Stephen Harper as PM? /Bernadette Wagner

Cross-posted at rabble.ca

Women’s groups criticize anti-coalition organizers

This just goes to show how much the Cons care about violence against women, eh?

*Conservatives wrong to call for protest against coalition government on day
to end violence against women, say women’s groups*

OTTAWA, December 2, 2008 – Women’s groups are indignant that protests in
support of the Harper government are being scheduled on December 6th, which
is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
“This is a timely reminder that a coalition government will be better for
women,” said Jessica Notwell of the Canadian Women’s CED Council.

December 6th marks the murder of fourteen young women at l’École
Polytechnique de Montréal in 1989 by a man who targeted “feminists.”
Established by Parliament in 1991, December 6th represents an opportunity to
reflect and act against violence against women in our society.

The Conservative plea to support Harper on this day leaves many women
shaking their heads. While the majority of rallies in support of the
proposed coalition are taking place on December 4th, pro-coalition events
are also planned for December 6th in Montreal and in Toronto. However, women
say there’s no conflict with the coalition. They have a problem with
attempts to prop up a government that has deliberately and methodically set
out to derail equality rights for women.

“This is the government that gutted Status of Women, eliminating all funding
for women’s advocacy and removing the word ‘equality’ from the Women’s
Program mandate,” said Gisele Pageau of the Communications, Energy and
Paperworkers Union of Canada. “This is the government that scrapped a
universal child care program and now intends to roll back pay equity when
women still earn an average of 71 cents on the dollar. They don’t deserve
our support.”

“If we’re serious about ending violence against women, let’s recognize that
we need strong advocacy, affordable housing, fair pay and a child care
system we can depend on,” said Rhonda Roffey of Women’s Habitat. “And we
know Stephen Harper just won’t do that.”

The coalition composed of the Liberals and NDP, with support from the Bloc,
has committed to support the implementation of the Pay Equity Task Force’s
recommendations as well as access to EI for women. Furthermore, the accord
signed by the parties specifically mentions the need for further government
intervention to improve child care.

“We believe a coalition will take steps to repair significant damage caused
by the minority Harper government,” said Aalya Ahmad of the Ad Hoc Coalition
for Women’s Equality and Human Rights. “That is why you will see women’s
organizations out in favour of the coalition this week. The prospect of a
coalition government means that things are definitely looking up for women.”

For more information, please contact Aalya Ahmad, co-coordinator of the Ad
Hoc Coalition for Women’s Equality and Human Rights at 819-503-6969.

Les Conservateurs ont tort de demander des protestations contre le
gouvernement de coalition le jour marquant la revendication de mettre fin à
la violence faite aux femmes, selon les groupes de femmes*

OTTAWA, le 2 décembre 2008 – Les groupes de femmes sont indignés que les
manifestations de soutien du gouvernement Harper soient prévues pour le 6
décembre, qui est la Journée nationale de commémoration et d’action contre
la violence faite aux femmes. « C’est un rappel en temps opportun qu’un
gouvernement de coalition sera plus favorable aux femmes », a déclaré
Jessica Notwell, du Conseil pan-canadien du développement économique
communautaire des femmes.

Le 6 décembre marque l’anniversaire du jour, en 1989, où un homme qui disait
haïr les « féministes » a abattu quatorze jeunes femmes à l’École
polytechnique de Montréal. Déclarée journée spéciale par le Parlement en
1991, le 6 décembre est une occasion de réfléchir et d’agir pour mettre un
terme à la violence faite aux femmes dans notre société.

Le fait que le gouvernement demande d’appuyer M. Harper ce jour-là laisse de
nombreuses femmes incrédules. Bien que la majorité des rassemblements
d’appui de la coalition proposée soient prévus pour le 4 décembre, des
événements pro-coalition doivent également se dérouler à Montréal et à
Toronto le 6 décembre. Toutefois, les femmes disent qu’il n’y a pas de
conflit avec la coalition. Cependant, elles trouvent à redire aux efforts
d’autopromotion d’un gouvernement qui tente méthodiquement de faire
dérailler les droits à l’égalité es femmes.

« C’est le gouvernement qui a affamé Condition féminine Canada, éliminé le
financement des activités de défense de cause et retiré le mot ‘égalité’ du
mandat du Programme de promotion de la femme », a indiqué Gisèle Pageau, du
Syndicat canadien des communications, de l’énergie et du papier. « C’est le
gouvernement qui a mis au rancart le programme universel de services de
garde à l’enfance et qui entend maintenant faire marche arrière en matière
d’équité salariale alors que les femmes gagnent encore en moyenne 71 cents
par dollar que gagnent les hommes. Il ne mérite pas notre appui. »

« Si nous voulons vraiment mettre fin à la violence faite aux femmes, nous
devons reconnaître qu’il nous faut de forts services de défense de cause,
des logements à prix abordable, l’équité salariale et des services
appropriés de garde d’enfants », a dit Rhonda Roffey, de Women’s Habitat. «
Et nous savons que Stephen Harper ne nous donnera pas cela. »

La coalition composée des Libéraux et du NPD, avec l’appui du Bloc, s’est
engagée à appuyer la mise en œuvre des recommandations du Groupe de travail
sur l’équité salariale. De plus, l’accord signé par les partis améliorerait
les options en matière de services de garde d’enfants et l’accès des femmes
à l’a.-e.

« Nous croyons que le gouvernement de coalition prendra des mesures pour
réparer les dommages appréciables causés par le gouvernement minoritaire
Harper », a dit Aalya Ahmad, de la Coalition spéciale pour l’égalité des
femmes et les droits de la personne. « C’est pour cela que vous verrez des
organisations de femmes se prononcer en faveur de la coalition cette
semaine. La perspective d’un gouvernement de coalition donne nettement de
l’espoir aux femmes. »

Pour obtenir de plus amples renseignements, veuillez communiquer avec Aalya
Ahmad, coordinatrice de la Coalition spéciale pour l’égalité des femmes et
les droits de la personne, au 819-503-6969.

Ad Hoc Coalition for Women’s Equality and Human Rights / La Coalition
spéciale pour l’égalité des femmes et les droits de la personne
http://www.womensequality.ca http://www.egalitedesfemmes.ca
Email: coalitionforwomensequality@gmail.com

The 2008 Canadian Blog Awards: Another Mistake?

It’s awards season again.  Apparently, the 2008 version of the Canadian Blog Awards is underway.  Thanks to Beijing York, a regular reader, this blog has been nominated in the Best Feminist Blog category.  I appreciate the recognition.  And I am grateful that the Best Feminist Blog category has been added to this year’s list.  It took a lot of people making demands for such last year to make sure the organizers got it right this year.

However, it seems they didn’t quite.  Get it right, that is.  In the nominees’ list for Best Feminist Blog are at least two blogs which consistently and continuously produce rabid anti-feminist, anti-women posts.  Furthermore, they bring their gang of freepers along wherever they go.  I’m sure it’s great that they have friends because the vitriol they post does not find favour among feminists (nor among some Saskatchewanian politicians, apparently).

As a result, I have requested that the regina mom be removed from the list. I do not accept the nomination. If I must share a nomination with those who actively work to undermine the great work of dedicated feminists commited to making the world a better place for women and their families, then, with all due  respect to the organizers, I want no part of it.