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
following:
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.

Iggy the Idiot, Part I

When my daughter was young, she watched a CBC-TV show called Under the Umbrella Tree which featured Holly and her three puppet roomies, Gloria Gopher, Jacob Bluejay and Iggy Iguana.

Perhaps our own Iggy the Liberal leader watched too much of that show.  Or maybe it’s just part of the attributes that attach to that name but the iguana Iggy was characterized as “thinking too highly of himself and unwillingly making mistakes.”

Iggy the Liberal has certainly been thinking too highly of himself and too little of others.

His support for Harper’s budget bill is a slap in the face to Canadian women.  Of course we shouldn’t be too surprised at this given the Liberal Party’s record with women.  Wasn’t it Paul Martin as Finance Minister who began the federal attack on women’s organizations funded through Status of Women Canada?  So, to see Iggy and his ilk support an attack on pay equity and infrastructure solutions that exclude women while still denying Canadian women a national childcare plan is really to be expected.

But Canadians have some kind of sick idea that the Liberals are better than the Cons.  Not me.  Liberal or Tory, it’s the same old story.  Tommy Douglas was right about that in his story of Mouseland.  Not that the NDP or any partisan organization will be the savior of Canada or Canadian women, for that matter.  But at least the NDP get it when it comes to women’s issues.  Mind you, it’s not quite to the extent that the Bloc Quebecois get it, but it’s good.

About Iggy the Liberal unwillingly making mistakes, well, I’m not sure.  It’s looking to me like he’s willfully making mistakes at the expense of Canadian women and children.

It’s an anger-making day!

I’m angry today.

It’s -28 degrees Celsius here right now.  And with a 40+ km/h wind coming in from the north, it makes for a wind chill factor of about -45.  It’s the first day of real winter here on the prairies.

But that’s not what’s making me miserable.  I’ve lived in Saskatchewan all my life.  Cold, I can handle.

It’s abuse of power that has my blood boiling.  Earlier today, in a PS to his Journamalism post, pogge sent me to Paul Wells’  blog at Macleans.ca.  Paul strings together the true story of our Prime Minister’s disdain for Parliament, then summarizes his opinion:

In short, he’s been a bit of a twit, has our dear leader. It does us no good to have a Prime Minister who flies to Winnipeg and Peru singing Kumbaya if he can’t set foot in Parliament without bringing a blowtorch. He clearly cannot stand the place. That’s a problem because at some point, he’s going to need a functioning Parliament to get anything done.

Well, that’s a problem if he actually wants to do something. Turns out that’s a big “if.” It’s becoming more and more obvious that the impasse in the House of Commons is an expression of the Prime Minister’s own conflicted feelings about the place. He showed on the Afghanistan war that when he wants to he can lead a government that bends and concedes in pursuit of its goals. But that was about soldiers. He cares about soldiers. He has never convinced me he cares about the economy, or believes any government can do anything to affect its course. Build roads? Bail out car companies? Take advice from Jack Layton? He’d sooner cut off the opposition’s allowance, then hit the road to tell more fibs about Stéphane Dion.

From a springtime of committee chaos to a summer of ultimatums to a fall election, a December crisis, a tasty prorogue-y holiday feast, and the near certainty of another New Year psychodrama. I could swear there was a pattern in there.

There, in the comments section, I found a link from Robert, to this Toronto Star story.  Apparently, Mr. Harper does not need Parliament to get things done:

OTTAWA–The Conservative minority government is letting people take advantage of some tax measures in its fall economic statement, despite the fact the Tory fiscal plan hasn’t been passed by Parliament.

Ottawa issued a news release yesterday announcing that Canadians can take advantage of a proposal to reduce the minimum withdrawal from their registered retirement income funds by 25 per cent for 2008.

The Canada Revenue Agency has advised financial institutions that it can administer the proposed change before the law is passed, the release says. It also says if the proposal does not get passed by Parliament, the agency would not apply penalties to anyone who follows the proposal.

It’s a blatant abuse of the rule of law.  Apparently, Steve the Sweater Guy is above that.  I mean, we know that, don’t we?  Certainly, we witnessed it quite clearly when he broke his own fixed date elections law.

This action seems to fit well with what James Laxer has identified as Harper’s “paranoid style” of political maneuvering. Though the corporate media and the CBC praise Harper’s political acumen, Laxer cuts through the spin to the real deal:

By paranoid style, I mean, that Harper belongs to the resentful right, whose adherents understand the world in simplistic, binary terms, and depict those who disagree with them as the agents of endless conspiracies against the forces of righteousness. (A telling example of the paranoid style is the way Conservatives have taken to labeling the Liberal-NDP coalition as “un-Canadian”. This ludicrous term is lifted from “un-American”, an unsavory epithet that was much employed by McCarthyites during the 1950s who believed they had a corner on what it was to be American. Until the Harperites appeared, no politicians in Canada were so certain of their monopoly of virtue as to label their foes “un-Canadian.) [Go read the full post.]

Stephen Harper is absolutely paranoid that he may lose his reign on power and he will do anything to hold onto it.  He knows that since he has not produced a majority government for his right wing alliance after three elections his leadership will be under review.  It’s likely he would be replaced.  And there are already rumours about who might do that.

He is paranoid and my guess is he will hold desperately onto every power Parliament affords him right now and use it to undermine his opposition.  He will continue with more questionable acts, such as rule by Order-in-Council and edict, over the next few weeks. It’s a trick Grant Devine used in Saskatchewan and other rightwingers have used elsewhere and one I’ve been expecting.

Here’s hoping the coalition has the courage to see these treacherous acts for what they are and bring down this would-be dictator come budget day.

Addendum:  The Jurist over at Accidental Deliberations has also added to this.

But it seems clear that Harper would rather govern illegitimately by fiat rather than not at all. And every step the Cons take to evade the need for Parliament to pass Canada’s laws moves us further from anything that could possibly be described as democracy.

Bonus for making it this far:  Bruce.

Saskatchewan on the leading edge…of child poverty

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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]