“other people’s shit on their heads”

Thanks to Purple Library Guy over at POGGE for the link to a powerful new Arundhati Roy interview at Zmag.org.  I admire Roy’s activism particularly in that she isn’t afraid to speak truth or, if she is, she doesn’t hold back from speaking it.

On India’s Growing Violence: ‘It’s Outright War and Both Sides are Choosing Their Weapons’

Arundhati Roy interviewed by Shoma Chaudhury

You have been traveling a lot on the ground — can you give us a sense of the trouble spots you have been to? Can you outline a few of the combat lines in these places?

Huge question — what can I say? The military occupation of Kashmir, neo-fascism in Gujarat, civil war in Chhattisgarh, MNCs raping Orissa, the submergence of hundreds of villages in the Narmada Valley, people living on the edge of absolute starvation, the devastation of forest land, the Bhopal victims living to see the West Bengal government re-wooing Union Carbide — now calling itself Dow Chemicals — in Nandigram. I haven’t been recently to Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, but we know about the almost hundred thousand farmers who have killed themselves. We know about the fake encounters and the terrible repression in Andhra Pradesh. Each of these places has its own particular history, economy, ecology. None is amenable to easy analysis. And yet there is connecting tissue, there are huge international cultural and economic pressures being brought to bear on them. How can I not mention the Hindutva project, spreading its poison sub-cutaneously, waiting to erupt once again? I’d say the biggest indictment of all is that we are still a country, a culture, a society which continues to nurture and practice the notion of untouchability. While our economists number-crunch and boast about the growth rate, a million people — human scavengers — earn their living carrying several kilos of other people’s shit on their heads every day. And if they didn’t carry shit on their heads they would starve to death. Some fucking superpower this.

Quebec Election: Disappointing for Women

Fewer women in the National Assembly will not be good for women from the new minority government in Quebec.  We know that the more women are represented over 30 percent in political institutions,  the better their issues are handled.  With that critical mass now gone, it will be interesting to see what happens for women in Quebec.  From the Inbox:

Last night’s Quebec election means there are fewer women in the National Assembly. Of Quebec’s 125 provincial seats, only 31 now are held by female MNA’s –or 24.8 per cent.

At dissolution, Quebec had been first in Canada, with 38 women of 123 occupied seats or 30.89 per cent.

Prince Edward Island’s legislature now is 25.92 per cent female: and Ontario’s 25.24 per cent female. An election coming Oct. 10, 2007 in Ontario is an opportunity to improve women’s poor record in politics in Canada.

Louise Paquet, of Le Collectif feminisme et democratie, forwarded the new Quebec number. She will issue a more detailed report later today.

On Getting Re-elected

Well, PMS is certainly desperate for that Majority, isn’t he?  Remember all the boo-boos we at P’n’P pointed out along the way?  Well, he went ahead and made them despite public outcry, declaring them to be right for Canadians, blah-blah-blah.  But when the polls started looking a little poorly for him and his band of Reform-a-Tories, he started shapeshifting.

Now look at him!  He’s gone green (and included monies for E85 cars in the budget because the plant is close to Flaherty’s riding)!  He’s dumping tonnes of money into the provinces (attempting to buy votes in Ontario and Quebec with transfer payments)!  He’s making noise about investing in childcare (but it’s really a cut because he has yet to replace all the money he’s taken from it).  He’s re-investing money in women (but won’t put equality back into the mandate of Status of Women Canada).  I could go on.

But I won’t because there’s enough here to show that all he’s doing is all for show.  He is a cold-hearted and calculating man who is desperate to be re-elected.   If we allow him his wish, we will lose all he has promised and more.  North American Union will proceed very quickly, mark my words, and we will be one step closer to being a fully fascist state.

Commentary: SK Budget

The Sask Indymedia Collective has a number of commentaries on the recent provincial budget posted at Act Up in Sask

Larry Hubich of the Sask Federation of Labour notes a couple of decent things, namely, the cap on drug costs for seniors and plans to get more workers to stay in SK.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says that the government is not doing enough to ensure that all of SK’s people benefit from the economic prosperity of the province.

The Sask Government and General Employees Union welcomes the extra money that will go into highways but says more is needed in the community service sector, particularly for the front-line workers at Community Resources, Child Welfare and the Social Assistance Plan.

That last one pretty much sums up why the NDP are poised to lose the next election in SK.  The poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer.  The NDP government in SK has done so little in the area of social programming and support that they are being spurned by their own.  But that’s what happens when those who were once progressives adopt a neoconservative economic agenda.

Connection: gas tanks and dinner table

Sandra Finley is the Leader of the Green Party of SK, an entity much different from the Green Party of Canada.  This is her take on some recent announcements and propaganda as well as a letter to a Con MP by Marc Loiselle and an excellent piece by Darrin Qualman, the Director of Research for the NFU.

Subject: Connection: gas tanks and dinner table socjust
Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2007 13:49:14 -0600
From: Sandra Finley <xxxx@xxxxxxxx>
To: xxxx@xxxxxxx

In "health" we have fought the increase in pesticide use brought about by
the introduction of gmo crops.  Now, the Government is providing hundreds of
millions of dollars to help develop the production of crops for "biofuels".
The economics, etc. don't support it.  But another concern of mine is that
as cropland is turned over to fuel production, we will have more and more
gmo crops.  Because people won't follow what's happening if the crops are
destined for our gas tanks and not dinner tables. ... /S
-------------------

Many thanks to Marc Loiselle for his letter to Member-of-Parliament, Brad
Trost.
Brad is also my MP. I received the same letter that prompted Marc to "set
the record straight".

Marc used the excellent analysis provided by Darrin Qualman (below -
BIODIESEL AND ETHANOL CAN'T FUEL THIS CIVILIZATION) to contest this MP's
claim  "Biofuels:  A Win-Win Situation".  (Unfortunately the MP's article
isn't yet posted on his web-site.  www.bradtrost.ca.  And I don't have time
to type it from hard copy for you.)

I left a message for Conservative MP Carol Skelton and talked with the
office of Conservative MP, Lynn Yelich.  I don't know if the letters to
their constituents contain the same article used by Brad Trost.  I hope not
and have forwarded this email to both Carol and Lynn.  We have bad decisions
when people, MP's and others, are poorly informed and thereby voiceless.

*** IMPORTANT:  in smaller print at bottom of his mail-out, Brad Trost, MP
cites his source
  "Statistics from:  Canola Council of Canada  www.canola-council.org ".

NEED TO UNDERSTAND the MP's INFORMATION SOURCE:

Our work on the opposition to Monsanto's gene-altered
"spray-chemicals-on-it-and-it-won't-die" wheat led us to the Monsanto vrs
Percy Schmeiser Supreme Court case.   One of the questions addressed was:
why would a "farmer organization" (the Canola Council) be an intervener in
the Supreme Court on the side of Monsanto?  why wouldn't they be on the side
of Schmeiser?

What we found is that the Canola Council is a "bought" organization.  The
buyer is Monsanto.  Some memories will be twigged by the example of Ed
Sirski from Manitoba, one of the farmer Directors of the Canola Council.  He
and his wife were wined and dined on a free trip to Spain.  At the time we
provided other examples of other "boughts".

The Canola Council IS Monsanto. The glossy Canola magazines are industry
propaganda.  Paule Hjertaas submitted an analysis of an article in the
Canola Digest.  The article manipulated the research to proclaim to farm
families that they are not at risk from exposure to chemicals.  Paule showed
how the reporting of the research was manipulated.  In spite of letters to
the Board of Directors they wouldn't, of course, print her analysis for
their farm readers.

It is Monsanto's herbicide-tolerant canola that heavily impacted overseas
markets for Canadian canola.  But hey!  we can use it for mass production of
bio-diesel. ... It can happen ONLY IF we citizens do not have INFORMED
DEBATE and SOLID INFORMATION on the actual economics of the biofuels.  They
can proceed IF all we receive is the industry propaganda.  How convenient
for the industry to have the Government doing that job for them.  (How
fortunate for us that we have the analysis by Darrin Qualman below, and the
internet to access more information!)

We have gone through the long list of examples from the public record of
just how corrupt Monsanto is.

Now here we have this Member-of-Parliament pumping out the virtues of
biodiesel.  Biodiesel is made from "oilseeds such as canola".  Monsanto's
gmo canola.

There are many UNBIASED sources of information - Darrin Qualman has nothing
to gain financially from his consideration and analysis of the economics and
trade-offs related to biofuels.  I EXPECT BETTER than that the "information"
distributed by my MP is based on "Statistics" from the Canola Council
(Monsanto).

God help us if the decisions of Government, all the money they are now
pouring into the development of biofuels, is based on  "Statistics from:
Canola Council of Canada  www.canola-council.org " .  From Brad Trost's
newsletter:  "The Conservative government has allocated $345 million to help
farmers & rural communities take advantage of new opportunities to produce
biofuels, biofibres and biopharmaceuticals."

I urge you all to follow the lead of Marc Loiselle.  Talk to your elected
representatives.  They are taking us onto a band-wagon headed for oblivion.
We are BADLY in need of informed decision-making by Governments, decisions
that are not based on industry propaganda and corporate interest.

Best wishes,
Sandra
=====================

MARC'S LETTER

SENT TO:  Stephen Harper;Clements, Tony. Min.Health; G.Breitkreuz, MP; NDP
Caucus; Nilson,J. Min.Env.; Parti Vert/Green Party-info.; Peter Prebble,
MLA; Saskatchewan Environmental Society; Serby,Clay, Min. Rural Dev; SK
Party Caucus; Skelton, C. Min. WD; Taylor, L. Min. Health; NFU; Mark Wartman
Min.Ag; Sandra Finley, SK Green Party

Mr. Trost,

I read with disgust your cover page on Biofuels in you latest newsletter
sent to constituents. You and your government have been swindled into
believing that biofuels are a panacea for the agricultural sector and for
the environment. The truth is just the opposite and the money you have
allocated, $345million will only be money in the pocket of the biofuels
developers, not to farmers!

The perceived benefits of biofuels are offset by the actual energy necessary
to produce them. We need to look at the whole picture, which includes what
it takes to get a final product; not just at the so-called benefits.

This investment would have been much better spent on sustainable organic
agriculture across Canada and adding back to provide more publically funded
agricultural research instead of handing it to large corporate and
multinational interests who don't have the best interests of Canadian
citizens in mind, only those of their shareholders.

I invite you to please read the following document authored by Darrin
Qualman, a leading researcher in Saskatoon. (document is also attached file)
He explains in layperson terms, what the actual situation is with biofuels;
something sorely lacking or purposefully avoided by proponents and
mainstream media.
Taking an excerpt from Mr. Qualman: "Ethanol is bad physics, bad biology,
and bad policy..."

Expecting better from government!

Regards.

Marc Loiselle
==========================

BIODIESEL AND ETHANOL CAN'T FUEL THIS CIVILIZATION  (Darrin Qualman)

The following represents the opinions of NFU Director of Research Darrin
Qualman and is presented for information only.  It does not necessarily
represent the policy of the National Farmers Union.  Your comments are
welcome.

            It is hard to convey just how powerful, convenient, unique, and
irreplaceable petroleum is.  Oil is hyper-concentrated energy available, in
many places, for the pumping.  It is relatively stable and transportable—you
can carry it in a bucket. With a bit of refining, it can be poured into weed
wackers and luxury jets; it can run factories and cargo ships.  It is the
energy windfall equivalent of a thousand lottery wins.  It has created the
largest and most luxurious civilization the world has ever known.  There is
nothing else like it on Earth, and there never will be again.

                Biofuels—ethanol and biodiesel—offer only a fraction of the
energy that petroleum does.  More precisely, they offer only a fraction of
the energy surplus—energy not required to be put back into the system to get
more energy, energy you can use to support other aspects of our
civilization.  Any move from an oil-fueled economy/civilization to one run
on bio-fuels would require a radical downsizing and restructuring, because
bio-fuels are dramatically less “powerful” than oil.

                The preceding is true if you accept the well-founded but
necessarily pessimistic energy balance calculations of David Pimental or Tad
Patzek, but equally true if you accept the optimistic energy balance
calculations put forward by biofuel proponents.  This point bears repeating:
The problem with biofuels is not just that their energy balance is less than
one (that it takes more energy to create them than they eventually yield),
the problem is that even if you accept industry claims of energy balances
greater than one, biofuels yield only a fraction of the surplus energy that
petroleum does.  Planting the entire planet to biofuels would yield only a
tiny fraction of the energy we use today.  Biofuels cannot replace
petroleum; they are not a sufficiently powerful energy source to fuel our
current version of civilization*—not even remotely close.

                There are many claims that the energy balances for biodiesel
and ethanol are “positive”—more accurately, claims that the energy balances
are greater than one.  Just for the sake of this article, let’s accept for a
moment that the energy balance for ethanol is 1.5 units of energy out for
every unit in ( www.greenfuels.org ) and the energy balance for biodiesel is
2 units of energy out for every unit in (  www.biodiesel.org  )  (Both these
figures ignore “externalities” such as resource and water and topsoil
depletion, but externalities also exist for petroleum production.)

            If biofuels’ energy balance is 1.5 or 2 units of energy out for
every unit in, then if you put the equivalent of ten barrels worth of
biofuels energy into the biofuels production system, you end up with 15 to
20—a net gain of 1.5  to 2 times the original investment.  That’s what the
energy balance number means: a balance of 1.5:1 or 2:1 means you get out 1½
or 2 times more energy out than you put in.

            But if you have ten barrels of oil and you put them into oil
production, you can produce anywhere from 50 to 100 barrels of oil,
depending on where production takes place and under what conditions
(tarsands production exempted from the preceding statement).
                With oil, it’s approximately one or two barrels in: ten
barrels out.  With biofuels, it’s approximately five to eight barrels in:
ten barrels out.

                These ratios mean that if you have ten barrels of oil, you
only need to set one or two aside to get ten more barrels; the other eight
or nine surplus barrels can be used to fly aircraft, build cities, fuel
automobiles, wage wars, etc.  But if you have ten barrels of biofuel, you
need to set aside five to eight to get ten more barrels.  You only have two
to five “surplus” barrels to fuel the other projects of civilization.  In a
biofuel system, the majority of your energy supply is required for energy
production.

                Any proposed transition of our economy/civilization from oil
to biofuels would mean a transition from an energy source that yields a 500%
to 1000% gain on energy invested to one that yields a 50% to 100% gain (at
best, and probably less than 0% if the many scientists who calculate
biofuels’ energy balances at less than one are correct).  The impoverishing
effects on our energy-dependant, growth-based economy and civilization are
easily predictable.

                Running a civilization on oil is like running a farm with a
very efficient pony: for every ten bushels of oats you and the pony grow,
the pony eats one or two; you have lots of oats left over to sell and lots
of surplus money to re-invest in expanding other aspects of the farm.  But
running a civilization on biodiesel or ethanol is like farming with a lazy,
hungry pony—it eats most of the oats it helps to grow.  You have little
surplus to re-invest in other areas.  Your farm is not nearly as prosperous
or fast-growing.  In fact, if the surplus oats is not enough to feed you and
your family and to sell to cover the other bills, the farm may have to
shrink.

                Biodiesel and ethanol are not sufficiently rich energy
sources to support the kind of civilization we are now running—the western
car culture of leisure, luxury, and privilege.

            Over and above the problem of whether biofuels could
theoretically yield enough surplus energy to underpin our economy, there is
a second problem: in absolute terms, there will never be enough  biofuel to
support current energy consumption levels.  Global oilseed production
(canola, soybeans, etc.) is about 400 million tonnes annually.  At 60
gallons of biodiesel per tonne of soybeans, turning the entire global supply
of soybeans into biodiesel would yield 24 billion gallons per year.  That’s
about 1/6 of the 150 billion+ gallons of diesel fuel consumed each year in
the world.  Turning the world’s entire corn and wheat crops into ethanol
would similarly supply less than a third of the world’s gasoline needs.

                Thus, converting the world’s entire food supply to biofuels
might supply us with 20% or 30% of our fuel needs (again, accepting the very
optimistic energy balance numbers put forward by promoters).  More
realistically, we could, at most, turn 10% of our land over to fuel
production—yielding, at best, 2% or 3% of our liquid fuel needs.  And the
reality may be even worse: If the biofuels production system were actually
fuelled totally by biofuels, we wouldn’t even have this small fraction
available to run trucks and cars: we’d have to put well over half the
biofuels back into the energy production system to produce more.  Thus, that
2% or 3% would really be just 1% or 1.5%.  Biofuels are irrelevant.  These
small percentages make biofuels largely irrelevant.

            Further, we may not even be able to access that 1% or 1.5%.  We
are in a food-supply drawdown; in six of the last seven years, humans
worldwide consumed more grains and oilseeds than we produced.  We are in the
fastest food-supply drawdown recorded in the 45-year data.  The world’s
cropland area has been static or declining for a decade.  And we are adding
the equivalent of a North American population every six years.  Given
declining food supplies and a static landbase, it is hard to believe that we
can solve our current hunger problems and feed an additional 2.5 billion
people and fuel a global proliferation of the SUV culture.  We should
consider the possibility that we may be heading toward food supply
challenges, and that there may be no “surplus” land available to produce
biodiesel and ethanol.

            Finally, there is the question of greenhouse gas emissions.
This issue is complex and potentially confusing, but consider the pony-oats
analogy again.  Imagine a pony that ate all the oats it helped produce.  It
could produce and consume for 20 years and never yield any surplus oats.  In
energy balance terms, this is equivalent to an energy balance of 1—the
energy (oats) in equals the energy (oats) out, and there is no surplus.

                Similarly, if you had an ethanol system with an energy
balance of 1.0, you could run it round and round, year after year, making
and burning ethanol (or burning the ethanol-energy-equivalent in diesel fuel
and natural gas), and creating no surplus energy.  The greenhouse gas
emissions (from fertilizer plants, farm tractors, etc.) would mount, but you
’d never succeed in fueling an automobile even a single mile because you’d
never generate any surplus ethanol to put into that car.  In this scenario,
the greenhouse gas emissions for ethanol would be infinitely greater than
for gasoline.

            Now, consider a situation wherein the ethanol energy balance is
1.5:1.  If you burnt the energy equivalent of one unit of ethanol in the
ethanol production system, you’d get 1.5 units of energy out.  Of those 1.5
units, you’d have 0.5 units surplus, and you’d put the other 1.0 unit back
into the system and burn it, yielding the next 1.5 units—another surplus of
0.5.  Now you’d have accumulated a total surplus of one unit (0.5 units plus
0.5 units); but you have already burned two units getting that one.  And,
when you burn the 1 surplus unit in the car, your total will be three units
burned: 1 in the car and two in the field and refinery.  For comparison—on
basis comparable to the 3 units of ethanol burned and emissions
produced—simply burning gasoline would yield about 1.25 units of
emissions—one unit burned in the car and 0.25 burned in getting the oil and
refining the gasoline.  For an energy balance of 1.5:1, for a given mile
driven by a given car, burning ethanol creates over twice the emissions that
burning gasoline creates.

                Let’s forget the preceding for a moment.  Let’s accept what
the proponents of biofuels claim: that the use of biofuels reduces
greenhouse gas emissions.  We could ask: By how much?  Moving, over the next
five years, to a 5% ethanol blend in Canada will result in little or no
reduction in actual gasoline burning because total motor fuel use will
probably continue to increase at about 1% per year as it has.  Thus, five
years from now, even as we add ethanol to the mix, we’ll be burning the same
amount of gasoline we are now; plus we’ll be burning about 5% as much again
in the form of ethanol—a fuel that, according to proponents, generates only
slightly fewer greenhouse gases (and according to many credible sources
produces more).  Even as we move to adopt biofuels, we are increasing our
greenhouse gas emissions from oil-based motorfuels.  The widespread adoption
of biofuels, seemingly Canada’s only significant current  initiative to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions, will not even begin to tackle the problem.
And by some analyses, such a move makes the problem far worse.

Conclusion
                Investing massively in ethanol and biodiesel production may
turn out to be the greatest public policy mistake in a generation.  As
energy sources, even accepting the rosy calculations of proponents, they
will never be sufficiently powerful or abundant to replace more than a tiny
fraction of petroleum.  And for that fraction they do replace, they may well
increase greenhouse gas emissions and speed global warming.

                The fervour with which policymakers, the media, and the
public have fastened onto ethanol and biodiesel may simply be a reflection
of our fear.  We fear what an oil-limited and a climate-change-constrained
future may hold for our experiment in economic and energy-use hyper-growth.
Our focus on ethanol and biodiesel, like similar attention being paid to
hydrogen, may simply be a way of ignoring biophysical limits and pretending
that we can double and re-double the size of our global economy and the rate
at which we use resources.  The dominant belief still seems to be that each
generation will be better off than the previous one, and that 9 billion
people can eventually come to live like Toronto suburbanites.  As we plow
into problems created by trying to fuel our castle-in-the-sky civilization
on oil, we are now casting around for other solutions, telling ourselves we
can fuel it by burning food.

                One last thing needs to be said, however: This isn’t all bad
news for farmers.  Clearly, incinerating the world’s food supply in
ever-more-numerous SUVs has the potential to create shortages and to drive
up grain prices.  The current grain supply drawdown began eight years ago,
before the advent of significant ethanol or biodiesel production.  But
biofuel production (coming as it does at a time when grain supplies are
touching a thirty-year low and coupled with the reality that we’re adding
the equivalent of two-and-a-half Canada’s each year to global population)
has the capacity to trigger short term grain shortages that could lead to
grain prices doubling, as they did in the mid-’70s and mid-’90s.  Ethanol is
bad physics, bad biology, and bad policy, but the publicly subsidized
vaporization of food stocks can be good for farmers.  Despite valid concerns
about energy balances or greenhouse gas emissions, the biofuels project will
proceed and accelerate.  And with or without ethanol or biodiesel, there are
almost certainly higher grain prices ahead for farmers. nfu

 *          Our current industrial civilization and its growth-based economy
has its detractors.  This article won’t examine whether continued production
and use of “Hummers”, either as assault or commuter vehicles, is in the best
interests of the biosphere or the global population.  What this article will
do is to analyze the question of whether an automobile-based, industrial
economy could be significantly fuelled by biofuels.  Can ethanol and
biodiesel even partially sustain the status quo?
    <!--[endif]-->
<!--[if !vml]--><!--[endif]--> Food is energy (and vice versa)

Modern, industrial agriculture turns fossil fuels into food.  Nitrogen
fertilizer is synthesized directly from natural gas.  Humans are now
producing so much nitrogen from fossil fuels that we have doubled the amount
of nitrogen cycling in our biosphere.

 The very high energy content of our food prompted one NFU member to quip
that biofuels are a way of “turning energy into food into energy.”  This
observation has some merit.  Biofuels are a project wherein we channel part
of our energy-augmented food supply into creating a food-augmented energy
supply.
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Marc & Anita Loiselle
*Loiselle Organic Family Farm*
'Holistic Stewardship for Abundant Life'
Certified Organic since 1985
Championing Red Fife Wheat
*Ferme Biologique Familiale Loiselle*
'Intendance Holistique pour la Vie Abondante'
Certifié Biologique depuis 1985
Champions du blé Red Fife

Celebrating a century of family farming 1906 - 2006
Le centenaire de notre ferme familiale 1906 - 2006

P.O. Box 25
Vonda, Saskatchewan
S0K 4N0
tel: 306-258-2192
fax: 306-258-2169
email: loiselle@baudoux.ca
website: http://loiselle.ma.googlepages.com

Farmer of the Year award – 2007
Organic Crop Improvement Association, Int.

Marc Loiselle - board of directors Chairperson,
Prairie Red Fife Organic Growers Cooperative Ltd.

Marc & Anita Loiselle
Worldwide Marriage Encounter provincial registration contact couple
A WWME Weekend is a gift you give each other and a wonderful affirming love
and life enhancing event. We believe every married couple deserves this
experience!

Marc Loiselle
Communications & Research Director,
Organic Agriculture Protection Fund (OAPF),
‘To preserve and protect certified organic food and fibre production’
directeur des communications et recherche,
Fonds de Protection de l'Agriculture Biologique (FPAB),
‘Pour protéger et préserver la production d’aliments certifié biologique’
Saskatchewan Organic Directorate (SOD)
http://www.saskorganic.com

“Biotechnology and GM crops are taking us down a dangerous road, creating
the classic conditions for hunger, poverty and even famine. Ownership and
control concentrated in too few hands and a food supply based on too few
varieties planted widely are the worst option for food security.” Christian
Aid

“La planète est le bien commun de l’humanité. En prendre soin donne un sens
à la vie” SOS-Planète

====================
Email from:
Sandra Finley, Saskatoon
306-373-8078; sabest1@sasktel.net
Email network started in year 2000
Joined Green Party in May 2006
Leader, Green Party of Saskatchewan, Oct 2006
--

Fed Budget 07: Families fell under the radar

Commentary on the recent federal budget from the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) is below.  Founded in 1893, NCWC is a non-sectarian, non-partisan federation of voluntary organizations, whose goal is to improve the quality of life for women, and society, through education and advocacy.

Ottawa, March 22, 2007
*                                                    MEDIA RELEASE*

*                                        NCWC Responds to March 19th
Federal Budget*

For all of Finance Minister Flaherty’s rhetoric about “hard-working families,” * lower income hard-working families once again fell under the Conservative radar* in a budget which is geared to the middle and upper-middle classes.

* A family who’s income is $30,000. or less does not qualify for any
tax relief for  children up to age 18. The non-refundable $320.
tax benefit translates into about $25.00 per month for those who
do qualify.

* The $100. per month for a child under 6 is considered taxable
income, further the Provinces are not impeded from clawing back
the amount as they did for the child tax credit in the past.

* These families *are not* in a position to contribute to an RESP
when they can barely manage to meet their living expenses!

* The government did not lower the income tax rate from 15.5%, which
would have helped lower-income families.

*This budget fails* those many Canadian families raising their children on less than $30,000 a year; worse than that, it gives them no hope.

*                                        No hope and no child care!*

The budget states: “Many older Canadians want to continue working and saving” Clearly the government does not understand that the word is “*need*” not “want.”  The majority of those “older” Canadians working minimum wage jobs are women who “need” to work because the pensions (OAS and CPP) are woefully inadequate.

This budget fails to provide funding for the type of specific Aboriginal initiatives that provide programs for Aboriginal women and children.  What good is job training if there are no jobs?

No change to eligibility rules for Employment Insurance means that the government continues to amass huge surpluses in their coffers, while:

* *1 in 3* unemployed women qualify to collect benefits, down from
70% in 1990.
* *4 in 10* unemployed workers qualify to collect EI benefits, down
from 80% in 1990.

The *dismantling* by this government *of Status of Women Canada* is of grave concern to women in this country.

* The *closure* of 12 out of 16 regional offices.

* The *removal* from the mandate of the Women’s Program of the words
*equality*“, “*research*” and “*advocacy*“.
While the government has allotted more money to the program – $20 million over the next two years — this includes the 5 million budget reduction that was later reallocated -  the money cannot be accessed for research or advocacy purposes, but *is now accessible to for-profit *corporations.

Qualifying projects appear to have been reduced to service delivery. How can we address systemic inequalities for women when no provisions are made for research to determine the root causes and for advocacy to make the changes that would eliminate the need for “service delivery programs”?
*Once again*, this government *fails to deliver to those who need help the most*: women, children, seniors and Aboriginals.    Predictably, it gives more to those who already have more.

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For more information please contact *Karen Dempsey, NCWC Vice President Economics,* through our Head Office or at (902)422-8485.

The National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) is a non-sectarian, non-partisan federation of voluntary organizations, whose goal is to improve the quality of life for women, and society, through education and advocacy.  NCWC was founded in 1893 and has played a leading role in many of the milestones reached in Canadian social history. Responding to a variety of interests embraced by its affiliates, NCWC has often been a leader in presenting developing issues to the government.  From women’s equality to children’s rights, public health reforms to inner-city playgrounds, consumer protection to citizenship work, the concerns of NCWC have been wide ranging and its influence far reaching. For more information, consult our web site at www.ncwc.ca.  As an NGO, we hold Consultative Status (II) with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
NATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN OF CANADA
205 — 251 Bank Street, Ottawa, Ontario   K2P 1X3
Tel: (613)232-5025

Climate Change & the G8

From Avaaz.org,

Dear friends,

Last week, Avaaz campaigners hand-delivered our 100,000-signature climate change petition to the environment ministers of the world’s most polluting countries. It worked. The chair of the meeting waved the petition in the air, calling on his fellow ministers to act–and they agreed that climate change would be the #1 issue at the G8 summit in June.

The momentum is on our side. Let’s build on it. Next Tuesday, another high-level group will meet to move forward with G8 planning — and we can keep the focus on the climate issue by showing that the call for action is growing. Can you help us reach our ambitious goal of 150,000 signatures by Tuesday by forwarding this to ten friends? Your friends can sign the petition here:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/climate_action_g8

Here’s how our campaigner Iain Keith, who presented the petition, describes his experience:

When my turn came to speak to the Environment ministers, I was so nervous that I thought my voice would quiver. But I wasn’t just speaking for myself–I was there on behalf of 100,000 Avaaz members, and I couldn’t let them down. I walked to the microphone, took a deep breath, and said, “Dear Ministers, ladies and gentlemen, m y name is Iain Keith and I’m here on behalf of the 1 Million members of Avaaz. Avaaz is a new online community where global citizens can go to take action on the biggest issues facing our world. I have here, in my hands, a petition from our members who would like to tell you that they are scared of climate change, and the lack of action being taken. The countries represented in this room are responsible for the majority of global greenhouse gas emissions. As ministers of the environment you are in an excellent position to persuade your leaders to make tackling climate change the number one priority for the next G8 summit. Our members humbly request that you acce

I handed the petition to the German environment minister, Sigmar Gabriel. The meeting continued, with speeches on other issues from other organizations. I wondered if all of the work had been worth it.

And then came Minister Gabriel’s closing speech.

I could hardly believe it: he was saying that climate change must be the number one priority at the G8 summit. And he was holding our petition.

“Thanks to increased pressure from people around the world,” he said, “the tide is turning. When an international NGO can gather this many signatures” (here he holds up the petition), “we cannot ignore this problem anymore… As Environmental ministers, we have a responsibility both to the environment and our voters to make sure our heads of state act!”

And a few days later, German Chancellor and G8 President Angela Merkel vowed to put climate change at the top of the agenda for the G8 Leaders Summit.

We did it!!

Iain’s right. And we can do even more. Can you forward this to ten friends, and help us reach our goal of 150,000 signatures by Tuesday?

http://www.avaaz.org/en/climate_action_g8

It’s amazing what can happen when we work together. Thanks for all that you do.

With hope,

Ben, Iain, Ricken, Lee-Sean, Galit, Graziela, and the rest of the Avaaz team

P.S. For a more detailed report of the meeting, including photos, visit the Avaaz blog

Fed Budget: Not a budget for women

FAFIA’s 2007 federal budget overview: Not a Budget for Women can be found on their website at http://www.fafia-afai.org.  This, from the report:

The report has been organized into four categories:

§ Poverty Measures

§ Tax Breaks

§ Social Programs

§ Values

Our starting point is that women in Canada are affected differently than men by tax and spending policies of governments as a result of their varying labour market opportunities, family and community responsibilities, as well as levels of economic security.

According to the Beverley Jacobs, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada’s, this
federal budget was « extremely disappointing ». There were absolutely no funding announced for
Aboriginal specific initiatives and organizations that provide vital support programs for Aboriginal
women and children. « What about those who are struggling to find jobs and who are living
below the poverty level? There’s no help for them. There’s no specific focus on Aboriginal women
and children. There’s no support for those who continue to struggle, » said Jacobs. 

While this year’s federal budget invests an additional $342 million per year for language
instruction and employment-related support, the federal government has backed away from its
commitment to establish a federal agency to assess and to recognize credentials at the federal
level. It has instead directed resources to providing immigrants with path-finding and referral
services to identify and connect with the appropriate assessment bodies. However, the difficult
question of how foreign credentials will be assessed has yet to be resolved.

Women in Canada have high levels of poverty, and their poverty causes their children to be poor.
But the only anti-poverty strategy in this budget is the working income tax benefit, a refundable
tax credit intended to help low income women and men move from social assistance to work by
lessening the “welfare wall.” It provides a maximum of $500 to singles and $1,000 to families.
This is a tiny amount, not sufficient or effective enough to move a woman by herself or a woman
and her children from the entirely inadequate rates of social assistance currently being provided
to affording a safe, decent place to live and to enough to eat. 

This budget proposes to eliminate all tax on scholarships for children who attend private
elementary and secondary schools. It offers as an example a young man who receives a
$30,000 scholarship to attend a private high school in Ontario, stating that the exemption will
save his family over $3,000 in federal income tax. We note that the exemption applies regardless
of the family’s income level. This is a tax subsidy for private education at a time when
governments claim they cannot find the resources to ensure that public education is properly
funded, a critical need to ensure equal opportunities for children from all socio-economic
backgrounds. It is also important to note that by the government’s own example, this tax subsidy
is worth more than three times what a low-income single parent or couple could receive from the
Working Income Tax Benefit.

But that’s what the Harperites are about, eh Canada?  Helping the rich get richer and to hell with the rest?  Democracy for whom?

SK Budget ’07: Update to A Missed Opportunity

The Sask Arts Alliance has provided the following regarding monies to the arts in today’s budget. It’s almost as though the NDP want to lose the next election…

 

SAA Logo

March 22, 2007

2007 – 2008 Provincial Budget

Hon. Andrew Thomson tabled the 2007 – 2008 Provincial Budget: Making Life Better in the legislature today. In a pre-budget briefing, Culture, Youth and Recreation Minister Glenn Hagel spoke about his Department within the context of the Government key priorities: Keeping the Strong Economy Growing, Making Saskatchewan an Even Better Place for Young People, Increasing Access to Health Care for Saskatchewan Families and Seniors, and Building Highways and Infrastructure to Secure Growth.

On the positive side, government is introducing supplementary eye care benefits and enhanced drug coverage for lower income workers (which we presume includes independent contractors). A Saskatchewan First procurement policy was adopted and Sask. Property Management Corporation will allocate 0.5% of capital costs to public art in public buildings. Minister Hagel again committed to bring the Status of the Artist Amendment Act to the spring legislature. The Building Communities Program for new construction, sustainable development and rehabilitation of community-created recreational and cultural infrastructure should also offer opportunities for arts organizations.

Overall though, the budget fell far short of expectations, particularly considering that Saskatchewan is experiencing great prosperity. Given recent government initiatives such as the Music Industry Review and Status of the Artist legislation, it appeared that Government recognized the value of the sector, and understood the demands it faced in terms of both increased costs and increased expectations to meet Government priorities. However, although there are increases in some areas, none are substantial enough to address the long-term pressures facing the arts sector let alone to provide for sustainable development. The Saskatchewan Arts Board allocation is far short of its needs (about 10% of their new money will be earmarked to address this year’s collective agreement and pay equity for their own staff). The Cultural Industries Development Council is still suffering from cuts to its funding that occurred in 2004, and Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation funding is so limited it is losing ground in its efforts to save our heritage.

Although disheartened with today’s budget results, its is a step, albeit a very small one, forward and Saskatchewan Arts Alliance remains committed to work on your behalf for sustainability of the sector.

Following are excerpts from the Culture, Youth and Recreation Estimates. 

Arts Related Estimates With Comparison to 2006-07 Estimates (in thousands of dollars)

Links to all budget documents can be found at http://www.gov.sk.ca/budget0708.