Friday, November 24, 2006

(Spin) Doctors Without Orders

In light of how much influence Main Stream Media pundits and columnists have on the politicial discourse of the day, I think we should consider improving our system of democracy.

In future, I propose we expand our electoral roster to include representatives within the major media outlets.

Journalists should have to run for the positions of influence they have.

What the hell, they set the tone anyway, at least this way they'd set a tone more reflective of what the majority are REALLY thinking about the issues.

Pass the Gravol. Major spin fatigue is sweeping the 'nation'(s).

Saturday, November 04, 2006

To Bitch or Not to Bitch

Ya, not much time for posting lately as I type away at this dissertation, beg for funding from here, there & everywhere and fulfill my TA obligations, etc.

Not many opportunities to sit and leaf through Other People's blogs, but now and then a lull, and a chance to find a gem like this one posted on "Bitch Ph.D"...

Oiy, such a satisfying read, on so many levels, not least of which the crawling panty level.

Feel free to bitch at will in the comments section here.

Paul Wells, in the latest MacLeans print edition, suggests use of the reference 'dog' to Belinda Stronach by Peter McKay is not relevent to the daily lives of Canadians, and that people like Ralph Goodale should let sleeping dogs lie, as it were. I disagree, of course, because as a woman, my every day life IS and has been affected by the use of such slurs - it's use is indicative of a tacit acceptance of a wide spectrum of ways to keep women down: at one end is seemingly off-hand use of such derogatory tags against us, while at the other end is the murder of women daily at the hands of partners, ex-partners, strangers, and governments simply because they are women...

The message that trickles down via (uncensured) use of the reference 'dog' to a woman in our house of parliament is further endorsement from wherein our leaders represent us and, ostensibly, LEAD us.

A clip of Norman Specter (sp?) responding to the McKay incident on a radio station in BC was played on CBC 's "The Current" with Anna Maria Tramonti this past week with a discussion following regarding use of the word 'bitch. That, since Norman Spector (sp?- who cares?) stated that Ms. Stronach is plain and simple a bitch and nothing but a bitch and who wouldn't say she is a bitch, and so on...

The 'bitch' word much to say, so little time... but, alas, the above posting is a good place to start from.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Pussy loving Prime Minister addresses weakening female support in polls


From the Prime Minister's Web Site (


October 25, 2006
Ottawa, Ontario

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement in celebration of the 15th annual Women’s History Month:

“Women’s History Month recognizes and celebrates the instrumental role Canadian women have played in building our great country. From the Famous Five’s hard-fought victories for legal and political equality to the celestial achievements of Roberta Bondar, the first Canadian woman in space, successive generations of women have helped make Canada the peaceful, prosperous and successful country it is today.

“In every conceivable field of human endeavour – politics, business, scientific study, athletics, or entertainment – Canadian women have made their mark. This year, Women’s History Month is focusing on Aboriginal Women – Canada’s First Women. They have always been central to the success of their families and communities, but their contributions have often been overlooked. Now aboriginal women are taking on increasingly prominent leadership roles as artists, athletes, educators, health professionals and politicians. In no small way, they are making history.

“Canada’s New Government is also making history. For too long Canadian law has denied equality to native women living on reserves by failing to recognize their matrimonial property rights. Our government is now taking action to right this historical wrong and make sure that Aboriginal women living on reserves have the same matrimonial property rights as all Canadian women.

“Women’s History Month reminds us that in our country, unlike so many others, women have the opportunity to participate in every aspect of Canadian life. It is also a time to celebrate the accomplishments of all Canadian women who contribute so much to our great country.”

Friday, October 20, 2006

State of Affairs inThe Great White North

This article by Richard Fricker, posted on on October 17, pretty much sums it up, from one American journalists viewpoint.

Highly recommended reading.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Thanksgiving in Canada

I thought Bob Rae was thoughtful and terrific tonight on TVOntario's "The Agenda with Steve Paikin". The panel discussion focused on foreign policy issues only.

Can't wait for televised leadership hopefuls debate.

The calibre of candidates this round makes for exciting, stimulating, and hopeful times in Canadian politics these days. Something to be thankful for, as we pause to take stock of good fortune this weekend.

Keepin' the faith,

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

It's Only a Paper Map

I've recently learned that the federal government plans to stop printing paper topographical maps for Canadians. These maps will be available soon ONLY OVER THE INTERNET, so that the quality of map one can print at home for an outdoor adventure over ground, water, or snow will basically be crap. Good luck with that, they say.

This site (Maps for Canadians) explains the looming situation and provides information as to how we can agitate to stop this: write, call! Have you ever tried to plan a portage trip without a topo map???

How about less of the huge surplus toward hymnals and keep the damn paper maps? I don't know about you but I feel closer to the power of this universe when I'm surrounded by nature than freaking fundamentalist wingnuts.

This land IS your land, and you CAN do something about where your money goes! See page two of this publication.

Suggested Readings: Michael Ignatieff

I'm copying an article which does a fairly good, if brief, job of outlining Ignatieff's policy proposals for Aboriginal issues (including dismantling of the Department of Indian Affairs - see paragraph 12).

Other Ignatieff links (profiles and his own writings) follow this article text, and I'll come back and add on to the list as I have the time to expand it.

I haven't selected to suit my own views. Warts and all, we should all make the effort to be as well informed as we can be and then make our own judgements. Any additional sources would be appreciated.

Changing the Liberal catechism

Peter C. Newman
National Post
Sat 23 Sep 2006

One week from today, the Liberal Party of Canada will pick the 5,000 delegates who will go to Montreal on Dec. 2 and elect the party's new leader. If present trends hold, Michael Ignatieff will lead the pack on the initial ballot, though that is no guarantee he will emerge as the ultimate victor.

Still, his run has been remarkable. From a standing start -- he had spent the previous 30 years in distant academic puddles -- Mr. Ignatieff has fielded a masterful campaign. It is based on the identical conviction that has fuelled his university, literary and social activist careers -- namely, that the world exists to be put in order, so that its scattered details make sense. That takes more guts than brains, or at least as much of each. Why else, to pick the most outrageous example, would he advocate constitutional reform, which has ensnared every Canadian politician brave enough to venture into its labyrinth?

When we look back at his campaign, it seems as if he woke up each morning, mumbling to himself: "Which beehive should I poke today?" At times, his approach smacked of the worst kind of amateurish attempt to grab headlines, hoping public exposure would translate into delegates' votes. At the same time, he never developed the swordsman's eye for being alert to counter-thrusts, so that he frequently had to wrap his sallies in retroactive, explanatory nuances the next morning.

In fact, there was nothing accidental about any of his remarks, no matter how casual they might have sounded. He may have the manners of a prince, but he has the mind of a chess master. Every detail of his strategy and every word of his bravura declarations had been carefully programmed by his retinue of two dozen advisors -- really a private think-tank -- which secretly plotted his strategy, from day to day and debate to debate. No campaign has been so minutely planned since the 1968 leadership run by another party outsider, Pierre Trudeau, who similarly appeared to grab startling pronouncements out of the breezes, though he was actually programmed down to every shrug.

Because he was the outsider in a field of party veterans, Mr. Ignatieff decided early on that he had to differentiate himself from the pack. He did so with a vengeance. He jettisoned many of the political verities that kept the Liberals in power for most of the last century, and the first half-decade of this one, because he found them outdated and not in tune with current realities. Instead of treating the party as the sacred instrument of sedate populism that legitimized its claim to being "Canada's natural government party," he has, to coin a graceless metaphor, pushed the envelope out of the ballpark. His campaign was aimed at nothing less than creating a new political movement with a contemporary vision designed to win both the final delegate count on Dec. 3 and the general election, which he feels is certain to follow in the next six months.

This has been a gamble that Kenny Rogers might have envied. As one member of the Ignatieff inner circle confided to me, strongly suggesting that I don't use his name, "We're all saying to each other, 'Jesus, is he going to blow himself up before he gets there?'" The answer to that question -- "you bet" or "not bloody likely" -- will determine his political future. His handlers point out that this week's informal polls of delegate preferences did not include the party's ex officio voters whom they expect to drive his lead on the first ballot to at least 25%.

His fate will depend on whether he will grab the opportunity to make a convincing case for the political revolution he has launched. One test of that precarious endeavour will be the perception of whether he was just making trouble or actually stands behind his contentious pronouncements. According to his political intimates, he does. Every damn word. One of his most influential advisors compares his determination to the 16th-century theological reformer Martin Luther's famed cry: "Here I stand. I can do no other."

Ignatieff's chief strategist has been Ian Davey, 42, the son of Senator Keith Davey, who earned his title as "The Rainmaker" during the three decades he spent in Ottawa modernizing the Liberal party, as its national director. "A lot of Liberals are frightened by the Ignatieff campaign," Davey told me, "and you know what? They should be. We're trying to change the culture of the Liberal party, and it's not easy. We have this unbelievably bright group of young advisors who have never been in politics before, and don't see why they shouldn't be led by possibility -- by what should be instead of what is. This is no longer Liberals against Conservatives, but Canada against the world -- to ensure that we make the most of our potential."

The impressive collection of policy wonks backing Davey are in their 20s or early 30s, mostly from outside the party. (The sidebar to this column contains a partial list.) Some are former Ignatieff students, most are independent-minded, bushy-tailed activists, others are professional experts who were approached, not on the basis of seeking their endorsement, but their advice. "I came to Michael's team without policy experience and no hidden agenda," I was told by Brad Davis, the campaign's National Director of Policy and Internet Strategy, a perky 33-year-old (which makes him the oldest of the Ignatieff policy advisors) who has taken a leave of absence from his law firm. "Michael is offering Liberals and Canadians a series of progressive policies built on the premise that the federal government has one sole overriding purpose: to secure and maintain the indivisibility of Canadian citizenship."

An Ignatieff-led Liberal party will continue to attract the best and the brightest, who recognize his immense capacity to effect radical reform. There is, in this process, a generational change and the development of a mentoring system that can only happen in the perfect storm that is Michael's campaign led by Ian Davey. This must be contrasted with the "play it safe" tactics of Bob Rae. The leadership convention is now shaping up to be a simple ballot question: Does the Liberal party really want genuine renewal and regeneration? We're betting on the answer being, yes.

Ignatieff's policy shifts illuminate not only interesting future options but his perception of the failures of current Conservative -- and Liberal -- policy lapses. He is asking Canadians to rethink their self-perception of peacekeeping, made and kept in the face of terrorism. Interestingly, Romeo Dallaire, who knows more about the subject first-hand than any Canadian, has endorsed his candidacy. Unlike his opponents, Ignatieff admits that Canada will not meet its first Kyoto targets and has argued for a tax on carbon emissions as the core of his policy on climate change.

Those who championed Kyoto within Liberal circles, especially Stephane Dion, are angry at him. To some of his critics his approach smacks of a confiscatory, anti-Alberta approach. Yet many oil patch executives are remaining silent or calling his plan "gutsy." At the same time, he advocates a new era of trust in pursuit of aboriginal self-government, and the dismantling of the Department of Indian Affairs. He has pushed that debate beyond its "post-Kelowna" phase, with new initiatives on self-governance, aboriginal health care, aboriginal environment and aboriginal education and training. In the process Ignatieff has quietly lined up the support of most of the new-generation native leaders, beginning with Gary Merasty, a Grand Chief from Saskatchewan and Liberal MP. His call for a "new citizenship contract" that grants rights and imposes responsibilities -- as a framework for Canadian multiculturalism and diversity in the 21st century -- has brought aboard such minority community MPs as Raymonde Folco, Susan Kadis, Albina Guarnieri, Ruby Dhalla, Paul Zed, Herb Dhaliwal, Paul Szabo, John Cannis and Gary Merasty.

The deal breaker could well be his determination to recognize the Quebec and aboriginal nations. Almost every English-language newspaper editorial in the country has come down hard on his pledge, labelling it dangerous folly, while the French press has applauded his courage.

It's hardly news. Fifteen years ago, in Blood and Belonging, Ignatieff described Quebec as a civic nation. Somehow he has to make the case that it's mostly symbolic and that he is not rejecting the Trudeau vision of Canada, but helping it come true. "Quebec is a totally flourishing distinct society and it has all the powers it needs," he has declared.

Ignatieff is deeply disturbed by Quebecers who are socially progressive leaders in the province, but now voting for the Conservatives. He claims it's because the Liberals haven't made themselves relevant to Quebecers. He believes that labelling Quebec a nation doesn't have any kind of ethnic overtones. "This isn't any threat to Canada, this is just part of the patchwork of our diversity," he told a friend recently.

It will be a hard sell.

Because the Liberals have become a big-city, Ontario-centred party, Ignatieff spent nearly three-quarters of his campaigning time outside Ontario in rural constituencies. That's where the push has to come, if his visions are realized. Michael Ignatieff has already proven that history is no longer the domain of scholars leafing through dusty archives. Now, as well as writing it in his lively fashion, he wants to make some history of his own. The ballot count next weekend will decide whether he gets the chance.


SEE ALSO... DENIS SMITH'S BOOK: "Ignatieff’s World: A Liberal Leader for the 21st Century?"

Monday, October 02, 2006

What has feminism done for you lately?

I was tagged by Scout at Harper-Valley blog to post today on the topic of "5 Things Feminism Has Done For Me", so here goes:

1. Education. I'm currently completing a PhD in geography - a discipline which is still hugely lopsided in terms of male faculty. My research is qualitative; in large part informed by feminism. I work in the subdiscipline of cultural-historical geography with focus on femininities and masculinities and their evolutions through space and time, as specific to place. My doctoral committee happens to be all-female, which is a first-time experience for each of the members. My work is very currently feminist in that it does not look at gender in terms of only women's experiences. It examines men's experiences, as well as all the accompanying intersections in the web of race, class, and (dis)ability, etc. This is one of the most widely misunderstood aspects of feminism today - the fact that the very nature of feminism is, in fact, INCLUSIVE. Our work contests exclusion of any sort.

2. Reproductive Choice. I was able to choose when and how many children I would have. I'm blessed with four. I'm able, through the example of my own life, to teach them the values inherent in inclusivity, tolerance, curiosity and a hunger to learn how this world can be made better by individual efforts.

3. Choice of work. I stayed home to be a full-time mother while my two oldest children were younger. I then taught high school full time until returning to continue my education. Childcare is available to me. I've had so many choices, and my decisions at various stages have been accepted by my family and society. My vote and political activism can influence this society.

4. My life. I was adopted, and am extremely grateful to know that although my maternal biological grandparents offered to raise me, my birth mother ultimately made the choice of adoption for me. She was not coerced; she made her own decision and I think it was the right one. Not without its baggage, adoption, but the knowledge that my birth mother had agency makes the baggage that much lighter for both of us. She had choices. She was rejected as 'marriage material' by my birth father and his family because she is native. She went on to have a good and fulfilling life with a professional career, and eventually - once I found her - rich relationships with my children and me. She made her own choices and landed on her feet, to say the least. She was never cowardly. She is a true warrior. My adoptive mother (my mother) made me see I could do anything. These two women inspire me!!!

5. My partner. My partner is as strong a feminist as one can get, my best friend, confidante, strongest supporter, and the kind of father anyone would wish they had. He instills the sense of possibilities and promise to our two girls and two boys that should rightly be there. He's fair and respectful and gentle and encouraging. I'd accept no less, and neither would he of me. Raised in another age, another place, he would not be who he is, and I would not be who I am.

What has feminism done for you?