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


Saskatchewan on the leading edge…of child poverty


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!


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)