Mercer’s hot; MacKay is not!

Peter MacKay is pretty easy to make fun of, but no one does it better than the CBC’s Rick Mercer. This week’s Rick Mercer Report had me belly-laughing more than a couple of times. I’ll admit I haven’t laughed a whole lot over this linguistic affair because it’s difficult to see all my fears about the Cons materializing. But this spoof was good! It was a spoof of a dog food commercial, a long, drawn out commercial featuring Peter MacKay Dog Food! It’s available for viewing on the show’s website.

The misogyny of the latest Con to speak on the MacKay comment is over the top! The reason this story has legs, according to former Mulroney aid and former Ambassador, Norman Spector, is not because the Cons are tripping all over the place, but because there are women in the Ottawa Press Gallery. OMG! Those damned uppity women cannot keep their mouths shut, I guess. Now CTV is reporting that Spector’s comments have brought calls for Spector to be dumped as a political pundit in the media.

I suppose, in a way, we should be thankful for all this as it points to the fundamental need for increased, not decreased, funding to Status of Women Canada!

Rick’s visit to 24 Sussex and the sleepover on PMS‘s couch was good for a laugh, too, especially when PMS handed Rick his lunch bag and gave him a hug. Gotta wonder how hard that was for PMS! And, Rick’s Rant of the Week was good, too. The video’s on the show’s site and the text is available at Rick’s blog. He rants about Fortier not running in the upcoming byelection in Montreal and makes some very good points about democracy as well as provides links to the two petitions he’s set up.

Oh, there’s a new Photo Challenge, too.

Thanks to skdadl at Peace, order and good government, eh? for the heads-up on the Spector story.

UPDATED 23:29 PM to link to the Feminist Toronto blog post on this issue.

Happy Hallowed Eve!

To witches and pagans everywhere, blessings, this Samhain.

Many fundamentalist Christian groups stand against the celebration of Halloween because they feel it is associated with demons and Satan. Unfortunately, most (if not all) of their ‘facts’ are incorrect.

…to Pagans who celebrate Samhain, it is the third and last of the year’s harvest festivals. The crops are in, and it’s time to relax and prepare for the long winter ahead. Samhain is a time to reflect on the events of the past year, and to remember those who have passed away. It’s at this time of the year that spirits travel from this world to the next. Both good and evil spirits. Part of the mythology of the holiday is that the God dies at Samhain, and the Goddess mourns Him until His rebirth at Yule. It is Her mourning that brings about the shorter, cold days of winter. After His birth at Yule, the days begin to get longer again.

Many of the symbols and traditions that we see around Halloween today can be traced to earlier times. Carving of jack-o-lanterns probably started with turnips rather than pumpkins, but the idea is the same either way. With the spirits of the dead travelling on this day, people would carve faces into turnips (or gourds or whatever) in order to scare away any evil spirits. The dressing up in costumes was also done to scare off bad spirits.

The idea of playing tricks was not done maliciously, but just as a way of having a bit of fun before the long dark winter settled in. The original gathering of treats was done to provide offerings to the Gods, in thanks for the harvest.

Personally, I leave a candle lit in the window along with a food offering for the spirits that might pass my way.

One last word. Many fundamentalist Christian groups have a strong negative bias towards any religion that is different from their own. Please keep this in mind when reading their websites for more ‘truth’ about Halloween.

“Feel the Heat”

Well, well, well, it’s interesting times for environmentalists in Saskatchewan.  It seems our NDP government, the same one that opposed the Kyoto Protocol in its early stages, and the same one that is promoting increased uranium activities in the province is the same one that may actually have to look at the economic effects of climate change.

The Saskatchewan NDP will hold their 70th annual sacred convention in Saskatoon in a couple of weeks. The theme is Saskatchewan: Feel the Energy which, according to organizer Cathy Duncan, “refers to some of the positive developments in the areas of health, youth and economic development.”  The event could probably be renamed Feel the Heat, to more aptly reflect what the SK NDP are up against.
Environmentalists are fed up with the NDP government, calling it anti-green.  SK has had an 62% increase in greenhouse gas emissions since 1990, the worst of any province in Canada.  The crown corporation, SaskPower, is the 3rd largest emitter of CO2 in the country.  Few people believe the government’s line, “We have a plan.”  Given his recent cuddling-up to the business lobby, most green-thinkers here expect similarities to Harper’s Clean Air Act.

Another big piece of the problem for the NDP is its active promotion of the uranium agenda in the province.  They conveniently ignore the fact that SK’s uranium is killing people in the Middle East and will continue to do so for generations to come.  They’ve participated in creating a demand for jobs, as well as a public call and a national sales pitch for uranium as part of their neoconservative agenda.  Minister of Industry and Resources, Eric Cline, displays amazingly flawed logic and provides a racist argument when he says,

“We know that the world is going to continue to use nuclear power and therefore uranium is going to be used. Even if all the uranium mines in Saskatchewan were shut down, this would continue to happen. Saskatchewan has the best occupational, health and safety standards in terms of uranium mining in the world, the best system of decommissioning mines in the world, and the mining sector pays amongst the highest wages in Saskatchewan and has significant Aboriginal involvement. So, if uranium is to be mined, where should it be refined? Right here in Saskatchewan where we know it will be done right.”

Pretty much everyone in SK knows that the likelihood of the NDP soaring to victory in the next provincial election runs anywhere from slim to nil. The election will be the right wing Sask Party’s to lose. The only hope for Saskatchewan progressives are

a) Brad Wall and the Sask Party pull a major blunder; or

b) Lorne Calvert resigns and the NDP returns to its roots with a leader like Nettie Wiebe; or
c) the Green Party of Saskatchewan makes a major breakthrough and grabs votes away from the Saskatchewan Party; or

d) the Liberal Party of Saskatchewan is born again.

The first or second would be preferable, the third is plausible and the fourth is highly unlikely.

The Road to Peace

Nettie Wiebe has been in Regina this week, speaking at various events.  Today she was one of the guest speakers at Making Peace With Earth, a conference linking peace and environmental issues.  Nettie took an interesting approach, being a farmer.  She spoke about peace and ecology in terms of human security.  And she focused on food as a key component of that human security.  This woman is our new Tommy Douglas.  She gets it.  She gets social justice.  She gets environmental issues.  She gets women’s issues, agricultural issues, peace issues.  She just gets it all.

Notes from Nettie’s Speech 

Food is about human security; we cannot live without it.  Food is also about community.  Yet, we rarely hear a word about it in our news of war, devastation, and destruction.

Human Security 

To feel secure as a human we need to be able to go to bed at night knowing that when we rise in the morning our basic needs will be met.  We need also to feel safe in our environment.  And, we need to be able to participate, in a meaningful way, in the shaping of our future.

Palestine

In Palestine, however, people have been separated from not only the olive trees, but also from their water systems, by the building of the wall.  Trees have been uprooted, water systems have been destroyed, cisterns have been dug up.  This kind of destruction is just as lethal as property destruction.

Peace in the Middle East will not happen unless food, water and land are returned to proper production and people can return to it and live securely.

Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, many have always been poor.  The land doesn’t look farmable.  However, there are fertile river valleys.  In fact, pre-conflict (1970s) Afghanistan was the world’s major exporter of dried fruits and nuts.  And they also exported olives and dates and were near self-sufficiency in grains.

All that was destroyed by war.  When war came, poppy production grew in leaps and bounds until the Taliban took over, turning the land back to grains.

The huge anti-drug initiative spearheaded by the USA is supported by Canada.  However, the government in Afghanistan and Afghan soldiers ar actively supporting poppy growing.  And, there are now rumours that the Taliban are telling farmers to grow poppies in protest to the invasion.

Canadian Deaths

The area in which Canadian troops are active in Afghanistan is the area in which “reconstruction” is occurring.  Canadian soldiers are guarding the building of a 100 meter wide and 4 kilometer long stretch of road in a fertile valley.  Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from this farming area in the middle of the growing season!

When they came home, they returned to complete destruction.  Crops were devastated, animals were gone or dead and, worst of all, the road permanently cut off the water supply.  The road that Canadians are helping to reconstruct has devastated farming and the security of the people living their.  Some engineer gave no thought to human security when designing the road, focussed instead on how to move military equipment from point A to point B.

The Canadian government has promised grain to help the people of the region, but food aid is not a long-term solution.  And since when has the Canadian military become an expert on building roads?  Incidently, the area is full of roads.  But the roads are winding roads and not suitable for the transport of military equipment.

This is not the road to peace.

The Road to Peace

The new highway in the fertile Afghan valley is not the road to peace.  The road to peace is stopping the destruction, is negotiating, not handing out candy.  The road to peace is rebuilding imaginations so that dreams can live, grow and thrive.  The road to peace is in coming to sit at the table — not in a drive-by, fast food agenda.  The road to peace is a long, winding, and uncertain road that runs through all those Afghan villages.  It is not a road we can rebuild and run.

We have a responsibility in Afghanistan, but it’s not a military one.  We have a responsibility here, at our own tables, to remember that what we do in the world gathers around other tables; it reflects us.  As such, we should gather humbly, thoughtfully and ask for peace.

End Canada’s Occupation of Afghanistan

National Day of Action to Bring our Troops Home

7:30 p.m. Saturday, October 28th
Unitarian Fellowship Centre
2700 College Avenue
Regina
Contact: Cathy Fischer 347-7693

October 28 is a day of action across Canada to let our government know they must end Canada’s participation in the war in Afghanistan. The Canadian Peace Alliance, the Canadian Labour Congress and the Canadian Islamic Congress have called on the people of Canada to unite in telling the Canadian government to bring our troops home from that war-ravaged country, and particularly to take action October 28.

In Regina the Regina Peace Council and Unitarian Fellowship are sponsoring a gathering to hear Richard Sanders speak on this topic. The gathering will take place at the Unitarian Fellowship Centre, 2700 College Avenue in Regina, October 28, at 7:30 p.m. Sanders will address the question of Canada’s role in Afghanistan and Iraq, and its support for the Ballistic Missile Defence system.

Richard Sanders for many years has been co-ordinator of Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT), in Ottawa, and editor of their magazine Press for Conversion, and is noted for his research of the background of peace issues. For information on this event, contact the Regina Peace Council at 347-7693 (Cathy Fischer).

On the morning of October 28, Sanders will also be speaking at the Making Peace with Earth conference taking place in Regina. For information on the conference contact Saskatchewan Council for International Co-operation at (306) 757-4669, or email SCIC at conference@earthbeat.sk.ca .

Reginans are urged to come and bring a friend and say no to Canada’s complicity in the business of war – Bring our Troops Home.

Holding our space

Nettie Wiebe* was the guest speaker at the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) Person’s Day Breakfast in Regina. She spoke about war, federal cuts and her garden.  Read on for a rough paraphrase of how she fit it all together.

Current Context

War

In our daily news, we are inundated with war, death, destruction. It’s a grim diet. Yet, we are told we are engaged in Afghanistan for the equality of women and the education of girls. Since when has the Canadian military been a mainline feminist organization?

Militarism and violence have proven to be “very dangerous for women and girls.” We should be “very worried about that agenda.” Fear is very often a pretext for the suppression of rights and freedoms. “Militarism is the patriarchy reinforcing itself.” If it is creating fear here in North America, we can be sure it’s doing likewise elsewhere on the globe.

Federal cuts

With regard to Status of Women Canada (SWC) and the Court Challenges Program, Nettie said, “Stephen Harper says not to worry. But I find that — only moderately reassuring.” If the SWC is no longer funding research then how will we, and more importantly, our government, know how its policies and programs are impacting the status of women in this country? She says she finds a “curious lack of curiousity” coming from the Harper government. She wondered if to the Conservatives, as Stephen Colbert has said, “reality has a liberal bias.”

She wondered who it is that sees equality as a problem and it took her to the REAL Women’s website, whose motto is women’s rights, but not at the expense of human rights. “I thought,” Nettie said, “we had established that we were, in fact, full-fleged humans with the Person’s Case!” Spending time at the REAL Women’s website took some time, because she had to think about what they were saying. “The whole undercurrent which has surfaced in this policy regime is that they are unhappy with SWC and to to get rid of its ministerial mandate.” And, she added that there is also a movement to get rid of Human Rights tribunals because they get in the way of traditional Judeo-Christian marriage.

She said she was not surprised to find anti-abortion rhetoric, but was surprised to find their disagreement with human rights and divorce. Apparently, people do not try hard enough in their bad relationships. So, she implied, are women supposed to try harder when they are being abused in a relationship?

Federal language change

The language of equality has been removed and replaced with participation. Participation is good, she said, especially in the House of Commons and in the Legislatures, etc. But, women can be in a room, participating, and still be marginalized. Participation isn’t enough to hold our place. Full participation for women is hooked into equality in such a way that we’re moving forward. We’ll know we’ve reached equality when the language of equality is not questioned. We need to reject the shrinking of our space.

Nettie’s garden

Nettie grew a great garden this spring because there’d been rain. And then one day a hail storm came through. Everything was smashed to the ground. Then, a few weeks later, as she looked out her upstairs window, toward the garden, she noticed green in the garden, so she hurried down to it. The plants she’d written off were coming back; their roots had been strong enough to withstand the storm, to be able to come back.

“This new regime in Ottawa is a bit of a hail storm,” she said, “And our feminist roots are planted deeply enough to withstand it. We will hold our space.”

_______

Nettie Wiebe farms with her husband at Laura, Saskatchewan, growing organic grains and pulse crops as well as raising cattle. In addition to caring for their four children, she served as Women’s President of the National Farmers Union (NFU) from 1989-1994. She was elected President of the NFU in January 1995, the first woman to lead a national farm organization in Canada, a position she held for four years. She is currently the Professor of Church and Society, lecturing on ethics and social and economic justice at St. Andrew’s College, University of Saskatchewan.

A writer, panelist and speaker on agriculture, environment, public policy and trade issues, Dr. Wiebe has been an advocate for farm families and rural communities in many forums in Canada and abroad. She is a coordinating member of the Via Campesina, a global movement of peasants and small-scale farmers. She was presented with the Distinguished Canadian Award by the Council of Canadians in November, 1999.

SK MP stalls new Kyoto legislation

One of our SK Members of Parliament, Tom Lukiwski, stalled the House Environment Committee for an hour and a half, effectively stopping debate on the Liberal’s new Kyoto bill. From Macleans.ca:

Saskatchewan Tory MP Tom Lukiwski delivered a 120-minute monologue on alleged procedural transgressions by the committee as it prepared to debate a Liberal bill on Kyoto – one supported by all opposition parties and the vast majority of MPs.

Opposition MPs didn’t even pretend to listen to Lukiwski who, under the Commons rules on points of order, was allowed to carry on at will.

Their eyes glazed over. They joked amongst themselves. And they muttered their complaints about Lukiwski’s filibustering performance.

“It was a historic performance, yes,” said Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez, author of the Kyoto bill. “But it’s one they should be ashamed of – not proud.”

Jack and Gilles aren’t very impressed either.  They have nothing good to say.  And, quite frankly, what good is there to say when a Government stalls the process of governing?  And in a minority government situation?  Talk about rebranding?!?  This is truly bizarre!

Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe said the Tories are worse in government than the Liberals because they’re not only arrogant, but incompetent as well.

“I would say they’re paralyzing themselves,” Duceppe told a news conference.

“(Stephen) Harper was telling us – Jack and I – at the time we were in opposition that the Liberals were arrogant in not speaking to us.

“He’s doing worse than them. And since they have almost no experience in the House, they’re worse than the Liberals in the procedures because they’re acting like amateurs.”

NDP Leader Jack Layton also blamed Harper.

“He has an arrogant and controlling attitude to his caucus, to the media, to the Canadian public, and also to the representatives (in opposition) of a majority of the Canadian people.

“This is why we’re seeing a logjam in the House of Commons. There is no desire on the part of his government to work with other parties.”

He suggested it’s about time for an election to solve the deadlock.

Yup.  It’s time.  Harper now has enough rope and seems to be using it well enough.

Thanks to Robert at My Blahg for the lead.