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.

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: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/gncy/stts/gb05/pst/fnl/pdf/table6-eng.pdf.
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 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

O Canada, I believe: A ‘No Prorogue’ poem

O Canada, I believe: A ‘No Prorogue’ poem

O Canada, I believe we have a problem. PMS: Prime Minister Steve. Canada’s Prime Minister prefers to ignore advice from scientists and diplomats in the warfields, silence watchdogs and whistle-blowers and shutdown dissenters and to let Parliament decide–Later*. A mere war-criminal or -monger, he is Disaster, Capital’s arrogance and greed, personified.

O Canada, I believe our system needs some medicine. When it allows abuses of democratic power by a Minority government leader to evade investigations into the torture of detainees– well, O Canada, there’s something wrong. We need to talk. And we’ve started. We are here.

O Canada, I believe in the energy of our activists and our votes, in the people on this street and all the streets all over our nation and beyond. It’s the energy that’s given us public healthcare, unemployment insurance, minimum wages… Personhood.

O Canada, I believe in the maple leaf – the Manitoba Maple that lives in these parts. I believe in the leaves on trees, the air we breathe, the water that flows and the earth that grows the food we it. I believe in the power of symbol to connect us.

O Canada, I believe we care. I believe in our capacity to care, to take care, of each other in our families and communities, in this province and our country and all around the world. I believe we do it, not for personal gain, political games or polling numbers– We do it because we genuinely care.

And, O Canada, I believe in the strength of diversity. Though partisans would have us divided, we hold together, one voice, united. No! No prorogation!

O Canada, I believe in the power of the people. I believe in the power of the people to create a flashpoint, to make a difference, to take back democracies.

~ Bernadette L. Wagner
January 23, 2010

* from the poem, W.L.M.K. by F. R. Scott

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.

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

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.

Prorogue precedents

Steven Harper wanted to shut down Parliament just because he does not agree with it. Some say this is unprecedented.

In fact, Harper is following parliamentary tradition. Consider the following precedents:

1629 King Charles I in England
1799 Napoleon in France
1913: Victoriano Huerta in Mexico
1933: Adolf Hitler in Germany
1936 Francisco Franco in Spain
1939: Benito Mussolini in Italy
1973: Augusto Pinochet in Chile
2008: Steven Harper in Canada

with thanks to Sean in Ottawa for bringing this to my attention.

Coalition: Keep Meeting

Keep meeting

This is posted from a comment by Eric Finley to a post at pogge.ca.  This action would demonstrate that opposition to Stephen Harper and to the events of the last week isn’t just some fleeting, momentary frustration. And it would demonstrate that objection to today’s decision is based on both serious concern for our democracy and for the urgency of the occasion. Please give it your consideration and feel free to leave your comments below.

Keep meeting.

To the coalition: Keep meeting.

Parliament has been prorogued. So you’re not meeting in an official capacity. But nonetheless meet as if you were not prorogued.

Find a site. Pay for it yourselves, and be explicit about that. You’re citizens meeting to speak. But in so doing, keep up the business of Parliament. Debate. Draft bills. Hold (unofficial) committee meetings. Vote… on memoranda of understanding.

Show the country, its citizens, and its investors that while you do not argue with the legality of the delay, you see no need to go on vacation in this crucial economic time. Assume (without even explicitly saying it) that in January when Parliament reconvenes, Harper will fall, the coalition will form government, and the memoranda of understanding and drafted bills will be dealt with, bang-bang-bang, because you have already hashed this out.

Invite the Conservatives to join you. If you get some momentum, you might get no few disgruntled members willing to bet that Harper’s fury will not control their lives.

Let the Conservatives take an extended vactation. Shrink the proposed vacation period instead, to mark the severity of the economic need.

Make it plain that you do not dispute Her Excellency’s right to consent to her nominal first minister’s request to prorogue, and that you respect her for making a difficult decision in uncharted waters. Open each session with a consistent, well-crafted adaptation of protocol which is sufficiently distinct that it does not trespass upon Parliament’s formal privileges… but that nonetheless shows clearly that you do this out of the uttermost respect for the Queen, the Governor General, and the Canadian people.

Repeat frequently that you’re just trying to get work done now, so that things can happen fast when the doors unlock in January. It can’t be trespass upon the privileges of government if its level of formality is that of a caucus meeting.

Be completely transparent. Defeat the smoke-filled rooms meme. Heck, hold it in a bar, if you can find one big enough.

The media will come to you. I can think of no more efficient way to stretch your advertising dollars than a bold, newsworthy stroke like this.

If you do this, I will donate to the limit of my ability. I will write letters to the editor praising your actions. I will take my four children and go door to door. In Edmonton. In December.

Pass it on.


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