velvetpage: (Jack Layton)
In the interests of countering all that "Mulcair will move the party to the centre!!!1!!eleventy" stuff that's all over the media, I wrote an open letter to Mr. Mulcair. I'd appreciate a signal boost, especially from those who often discuss Canadian politics. Thanks to [ profile] thebitterguy for doing so on Twitter already.

In other news: I hope Mulcair doesn't shave his beard. I like the beard.
velvetpage: (Default)
Olivia Chow is already being asked about a leadership bid, and hasn't ruled it out. Upsides: She's a very savvy and experienced politician; she represents the immigrant face of Canada in a way that no other leader at the moment does, and that will resonate with many people; she's riding a sympathy tide in the wake of her husband's death. Downsides: Her French is less than fluent, which cannot be understated as a factor; there could be a perception that she's riding on Jack's popluarity instead of forging her own, and that will eventually bite her.

I'd consider voting for her. (As a party member, I'm going to get to vote. That's exciting. Expect to see a lot of NDP stuff in this space over the next few months.) But I won't commit to it.

On the same day that Bob Rae is claiming Liberals can win the next election, Justin Trudeau is quoted (so far only in twitter) musing about being open to a Liberal merger with the NDP. I'm amused.
velvetpage: (Default)
We got back to Hamilton about an hour ago.

We started the day in Nathan Phillips Square, reading the chalk tributes and adding our own. After some street meat, we made our way to Queen and University, where we hung out with the hundreds of Toronto cyclists who were preparing to join the People’s Procession as the funeral procession passed that way. There was a samba band, and people danced to it, and there were buskers on stilts wearing orange ties. Orange was everywhere - everyone had a little bit of it and about half the crowd was wearing a t-shirt or dress of it. Mine was in the form of a ribbon in my hair (it wouldn’t stay up around my arm) and my pashmina shawl that I used as protection from the sun.

The funeral procession came down Queen St. around 1:20. We added ourselves to its back end, joining a throng of humanity celebrating and mourning together. I haven’t seen the estimates of numbers, but I can tell you that David Pecaut Square (the public space outside Roy Thomson Hall) was packed full, as were the streets nearby. Thousands and thousands of people, showing admirable courtesy and common purpose. The church next door to RTH (I think it was St. Andrews Presbyterian, but don’t quote me on that) closed its doors just as we went by - it was packed to the gills.

We wove our way through the crowd as the casket was settled at the front of RTH, and eventually found ourselves on the walkway just to the west of RTH, watching on the screen directly opposite at the other side of the square.

There we settled in to work on our sunburns and watch. The sunburn part was a blazing success. winces 45 SPF sunblock, applied an hour and a half late, does not stand up to two hours of blazing sun.

I was the only person near us who understood the French bits, so I kept bursting into applause when nobody else knew what was going on.

The funeral service itself was a celebration of Jack's life. It was also an opportunity to drive home the values that Jack lived and worked for: love, hope, optimism, social democracy, civility in politics, the ability to change the world through the power of community coming together. It was a wonderful moment of community, a single afternoon when it felt like the entire city and country felt the same way. I know that’s not true and I’m not trying to speak for people, but there on the ground, that was the feeling.

I am so glad I went. I hope Jack’s life and legacy energizes Canadians to remember that what he stood for is what we want for our nation - and that the only way to get it is to get out there and work for it, for Jack and for each and every Canadian.
velvetpage: (Default)
Canadians need to watch this and pass it on, especially if you live in Ontario.

velvetpage: (Default)
I can't think of a better descriptor for this election night than that.

Basic breakdown of the election )
I've decided what I'm going to do.

For too long, I've been an armchair politician, willing to peddle my vote between several parties on the basis of several factors, never committing to any of them. This is very, very common on the Left in Canada, and while it has its benefits for tolerance and good feeling, in the end it loses elections and costs us a voice. I have ideas. I have things to bring to the table. But they're being heard in ways that don't affect the outcome of elections.

So tomorrow, I'm stopping by my newly-re-elected NDP MP's campaign office while they'e packing up, and joining the party formally. If possible, I'll join the provincial branch at the same time, though it may require a separate trip and fee; then I'll make myself known at my NDP MPP's office. I'm going to volunteer for the NDP for the Ontario election in the fall. I'm going to go to riding meetings and write for riding association publications between elections. I'm going to take my flyers, printed by [ profile] mrs_dm, with me. Provincially, my talking points will be slightly different from my talking points in the federal office, because the responsibilities of the two levels of government are different, but I'm no longer confining myself to slactivism on the internet.

It's time to actually make things happen.

Right now, I'm calling in sick because I've had absolutely no sleep and I'm still not asleep. I can't face trying to stay non-partisan with my students while explaining what a Harper majority means for Canada.
velvetpage: (Default)
Jack Layton, as the Harper Conservatives have been talking about him for about a week now:

velvetpage: (Default)
Maclean's Bull Meter for political lies is fascinating. I counted, just to be sure there was no confirmation bias going on. If you discount the single-bulls, of which the Conservatives and Liberals each have one (because those are slight twists on the truth rather than outright lies) the Liberals and the NDP are tied at one 3 and one 4 each, while the Conservatives are ahead with 4, 4, and 2.

It's also interesting to note what they're lying about: the Liberals' biggest lie so far is the one about Ignatieff's family coming here from Russia with nothing after the Revolution, so a lie about personal history designed to shield him from Conservative attack ads, while the Conservatives' two 4-bull stories are about a Liberal policy that pretty much doesn't exist and about the danger to the economy of an election. I don't think it's bias to count those as more substantial lies, since they're directly related to the issues at hand, though I do wonder how much of an influence Ignatieff's silver-spoon has on his policies. (I don't think he gets to claim that he's an everyman when his education includes Upper Canada College. On the other hand, I prefer not to vote for an everyman; I think a lifetime spent analyzing international policies and writing lengthy treatises for highly critical audiences of scholars is not bad preparation for being Prime Minister, even if I don't agree with all of his conclusions; I'd be prepared to bet that he no longer agrees with all of them, either.)

At the same site is a promise tracker. It's fascinating as much for what's left out as for what's there. For example, the Conservatives are the darlings of agricultural communities across Canada, but have made not a single promise in regards to agriculture. The only one of the bunch of them promising to do something about the issues with EI (and they are myriad, beginning with the fact that they've set the number of qualifying hours so high that most part-time women, i.e. second-time moms who went back to work part-time after the first, do not qualify) is the Bloc Quebecois. The NDP, traditionally a strong alternative on the environment, has no environmental promises laid out for this election, and neither does the Bloc. The Conservatives are planning to throw money at a panel about hunting and wildlife, which only just barely falls under environment at all.

Some interesting stuff.
velvetpage: (Default)
Canada's going to the polls in May. The government fell today. (Yes, it really is that fast. The minimum time frame is 36 days; it looks like the election will happen May 9th, though it won't be called officially until Harper meets with the Governor General tomorrow. He will officially dissolve parliament and call the election.

There's not a lot that's good in this. None of the opposition parties are really ready for an election, and the Conservatives are up in the polls. The economy is still recovering and people generally see the Cons as stronger there than the other parties (though it was the Liberals who balanced the budget and kept it balanced for a decade, and it was the Liberals who protected the bank regulations so that the collapse that hit the rest of the Western World was mitigated here. Meanwhile, the Cons have run up the deficit, cutting taxes where they should have held and increasing spending in at least some of the wrong areas, so I'm not buying that the Cons are strong on the economy.) The ethical issues the Cons are facing at the moment don't seem to be a big deal to anyone off Parliament Hill, mostly because the Liberals have some skeletons in their closet so nobody trusts them to be better than the Cons.

So it looks like we'll get another minority Conservative government, which Harper will bill as a mandate, and use to do more stuff only 30% of Canadians had any desire for him to do.

I'm debating offering to run the Student Vote at school for the fours and fives, but the grade five teacher has run it before and she can do it now. An election is awesome for grade five - that's the year kids learn about government, and the quantity of election materials that come out is always astounding. Free classroom materials! Anyway, I suspect I'll mostly stay out of it this time. I'll vote, but that's it.


Oct. 26th, 2010 06:51 am
velvetpage: (Harper)
Toronto: the vote on the left was split several ways, while the vote on the right was concentrated on one right-wing ideologue who got the ear of the suburbs by promising an end to corruption and a drastic reduction in social services that the suburbs use less anyway. Want to know how it is that a country where most people lean to the left of centre manages to keep electing these clowns? Here's how: there are so many good ideas and decent people on the left that people can't settle on just one, and with a first-past-the-post system, it means the right-wing guy with less than a majority often comes up from beind.

All of which boils down to one thing: it's time for voter reform in this country. A ranked ballot would be an improvement, for example. Rob Ford did not - quite - have a majority of the votes.

Hamilton: Oh, puh-LEASE. Bob Bratina? Really, Hamilton? The a.m. talk radio personality from the eighties with a rep for a short temper and a thin skin during his seven years on council? Don't blame me if City Hall continues to get nothing done, while we continue to miss out on money and services from a provincial government fed up with trying to get us to make decisions. The best thing about Bratina is that his platform boiled down to, "Can't we all just recognize how much we have to offer each other?" I appreciate the "let's all just get along" message - I'd just rather see it coming from someone else.

I didn't really follow any other race closely. How'd it go in Ottawa? I know that race was being closely watched.
velvetpage: (Harper)
Last night I went to an organizational meeting for a rally asking for an inquiry into the G20 debacle.

There was a reporter there.

I volunteered to bring the materials for the banner we're going to make, which means a trip to Ottawa street to buy a big piece of cloth and a trip to the dollar store for paints and brushes and containers for the paint.

Anyway, we're expecting between seventy and a hundred people, at Gore Park tomorrow from 1:00 to 3:00. If you're available and not already going to the Toronto rally, please come!
velvetpage: (Default)
Tories threaten fall election

I have no idea how well the other parties are prepared for an election, but I'd hope they're starting to get their acts together. It's time to boot Harper out of government.
velvetpage: (Canada rainbow)
I'm not a die-hard patriot. I don't love my country solely because it's my country and despite its failings. I'm not a fan of nationalistic fervour as a way to raise armies or keep people complacent in the face of nastiness from government. I try to look critically at the good and bad.

There's been some bad this week. Police very near here treated essential liberties as privileges to be taken away at a whim. They treated journalists as people to be silenced. It's looking increasingly likely that much of the violence was committed by undercover cops attempting to spark violence so that they had a reason to deny the right to peaceful assembly to other citizens. I'm not happy or proud of that.

And yet there's the other side. Nobody died. The mechanisms in place for dealing with it are being activated. The media, both mainstream and citizen, is speaking out to condemn what happened and make sure that the stories of violent protests cunningly quashed do not win out over the truth of peaceful protesters abused. If we were already a police state, none of that would be happening. The fact that nobody is going to come knocking on my door to arrest me for joining a Facebook group asking for an inquiry is still something to celebrate.

I have no interest in the kind of patriotism that says others should be grateful for what they have here or should leave. To me, patriotism is a reason to seek to see clearer and improve what we've got - not rest on our laurels, complacent while others start to take it away.

I believe in the intrinsic good of people. I believe Canada has done as good a job as any country in the world at bringing that out in as many of its citizens as possible. I believe that my calling as a teacher is an integral part of that. I believe we have a responsibility to protect what we've built here and spread it peacefully, through a global exchange of ideas that respects many paths to the same end, learning from others as we go.

So: Happy Canada Day. May we enjoy what we have and work to make it better. May we teach our children that real citizens treat critical thought as a cornerstone of democracy.
velvetpage: (Default)
For heaven's sake, LARPer weapons are not real threats! Can we all mock this pathetic attempt to make it seem like the arrests resulted in seizure of actual weapons? Does no one in the police force belong to the SCA or a LARP?
velvetpage: (Default)

It makes me wonder: how much better do Canadians really have it? With our government leading us down the merry fundamentalist path, prioritizing the tar sands and downplaying any environmental effects; with our economy mostly service-based already, and more than 70% of what exports we have going straight to the States; with our national medical association claiming our health care is in collapse, because they know they can make more money if it's private, and then working to make sure it happens; with crushing levels of consumer debt here, too; and with the fact that 80% of us live within an hour's drive of the American border; how much better is it here?

It's at least slightly better. I'm not convinced that Canada will be able to avoid being pulled down if (perhaps I should say when, but I'm not quite that much of a pessimist) the U.S. collapses.

On the list of things we've got going for us: we're one of the few Western nations that is NOT technically insolvent, though Harper's economic policies may very well turn that around. (Ironic, isn't it, that the previous Liberal government was the fiscally responsible one except for a couple of scandals, while the current, theoretically more conservative government is cutting taxes and raising spending and generally driving us deeper into the hole.) We've got one of the strongest banking systems in the world. Our workforce has a higher percentage of well-educated people than the States (though lower than most of Europe.)
velvetpage: (Default)
Still from [ profile] siobhan63, as was the last one.

Apparently, the Conservative government is quite happy to slash funding to pro-choice groups, including refusing to fund international initiatives of maternal health that include abortion, all while starting an initiative aimed at maternal health around the world. But they're prepared to give $800K to groups that are translating the Bible into various African dialects.

And they still manage to deny that the choices of which agencies to fund is more about ideology than their ability to run their agencies well.

velvetpage: (Default)
In fact, I need to start paying more attention to the newspaper again and writing the countering letters.

Growth of the Christian Right in Canada
velvetpage: (Harper)
I haven't been following politics as closely as I should have been lately. The only time I have is right before bed and the antics of the Cons led by Harper have a history of causing me sleepless nights due to sputtering about their stupidity.

However, I was nonplussed to find a link to this in my inbox this morning. I was unaware of any of these points. I'd like some confirmation from anyone who's been following the situation closer than I have, followed by the perennial question: what can we do about it?
velvetpage: (exterminate)
In the testimonial from the Mayo Clinic she went to in Arizona, her
condition is not a life-threatening cancerous brain tumour; it's a
vision-threatening benign cyst on her pituitary gland. She was not
going to be dead to wait six months, if in fact she'd even had to wait
six months - she didn't wait to find out.

Furthermore, she's not suing the government to get her money back;
she's suing the government to dismantle the health care system we
have, and she's funded by a registered charity called the Canadian
Constitution Foundation. Registered charity - that means our tax
dollars are paying for it via tax deductible contributions.

Holmes is misrepresenting herself, and our system, to Americans.
She's a fraud. I wonder if her circuit of talk shows and that
commercial have paid off the new mortgage yet?
velvetpage: (outraged)

Thanks [ profile] siobhan63 for the links.

The woman in that commercial who is trashing Ontario's health care, saying she would have been dead in six months if she'd had to wait that long, so she mortgaged her house and went to the States?

She's lying about that. She didn't have a tumour. She had a cyst. Her vision may have been threatened, though there's only her word on a previous testimonial for that. Her life was not in significant danger from this cyst.

Furthermore, she's not suing the Ontario government to get her money back. She's suing with the backing of the Canadian Constitution Foundation, a registered charity (i.e. donations are tax deductible, so taxpayers are funding this) dedicated to challenging all aspects of Canada's socialist system, in particular single-tier health care.

That is, she's trying to take away other Ontarians' access to single-payer health care, and she's using tax money to do it.

I think it's time for another letter to the editor to point this out. Not only is she lying to Americans about what happened, not only is she trashing a system without having actually gone through it, she's using a taxpayer-funded charity to try to destroy the system for everyone else.

I'm incensed.

Edit: Please, go ahead and link, either to me or to the articles I listed. Spread this far and wide. She's going to slander our system, she's going to be exposed as the fraud she is.

EDIT #2: A link to the cached page from the Mayo Clinic. They took down the original version a few days ago when Daily Kos linked to it, but it was cached first.

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