If my friends could see me now!

Last night I had some friends over for dinner. I did well with the mix of people, from 24 to 64, we sang songs from Broadway. It was to borrow an old fashioned term a hoot! It went on past the midnight hour finally succumbing to our bodies need for sleep. We really wanted to keep going. It was one of those times you never want to end.

The food and wine was good. The intergenerational mix added much to the night. I am expecting to do this again, trying to recapture the magic. It will be different next time and with a couple more people my tiny kitchen will be pushed to its max as will the simple joy of making our own entertainment.

This weekend I will be headed to our farm, where we do this sort of thing often. We have space there and a commercial sized kitchen. Ideal for bringing people together. We will be hosting the Radical Faeries Canada Day weekend gathering and if you know faeries, you know they can entertain. We do it together. Only 20 or 30 of us make up the cast, crew and audience, it may as well be on Broadway. We are into it, we are the stars, the music is perfect, the dancers, as light as the country air and the curtain calls are many!

The gathering will as it has in years gone by bring together young and old, with all of us feeling the joy of our magic, letting that inner kid, child and maybe a little brat out for an entire weekend. The food will be vegetarian as always, it will be good of course, we are known in Fae circles as the 'gourmet gathering' and long will it be as we be blessed with such a good mix of people and place.

All of that brings me to this video below. Its something that happens often these days and some of us might like to try this action in a public place near you one day. The magic of the moment brings everyone exposed to it a moment of the joy we had in our little Toronto apartment last night.

We will of course be looking to bring more people into our not so secret society. No secret handshake, unless you want one, we don't have one but wouldn't object to you creating one that makes us dance or smile, or laugh, or sing, or just enjoy being together.

The video below isn't us. It is however a reflection of many a night here in this comfy apartment, a representation of our gatherings here and at the farm. Egad, have to go, its another curtain call...


Sober second thought

Sober second thought, of what...

A globe editorial said even though Bill C-6, A Bill to force the resumption of postal Services sailed through the upper chamber, the bill received considerable airing.  Let me tell you what happened in the Senate...

Conservative Senator: Okay the Man wants this passed by this afternoon, I`m sorry Honourable Members that you had to come in on Sunday, but its not like we actually sit more than 3 days a week anyway.  Get this through and we don`t have to be back here till fall sometime.

interjections by some Honourable Senator: this never happened in my day

Conservative Senator: The Honourable Member who was appointed by Trudeau says they never did it like this, ha ha remember wage and price controls, you guys campaigned against them and then brought them in.
Now where was I, oh yes, time to order those ungrateful mailmen back to work.  I would like to lend my support to the Prime Minister for giving me this great gig.  Our job, that`s funny as hell as its hardly work eh guys and gals, anyway back to the issue of incredible national importance, we must get the mail moving and the only way those mailmen will understand that they work for us is if we pay them less and reduce their pension, they should feel damn lucky to have a job, I work hard for Canadians and they should too.  I move we pass the legislation forthwith.

Liberal Senator:  With respect my honourable friend, some 30 of my fellow Liberal Senators couldn`t make it here to vote today.  Those of us that made it to this debate can at least add some sober second thought.  I mean that's why there be at least 105 Senators.  I flew back from Mexico for this so lets provide a thorough airing of the bill before we pass it.  I move we ask the head of Canada Post and the the head of the Strikers, whoops, I mean locked out employees.

Conservative Senator: So Mr. CEO of Canada Post. Before I start. I want to thank you for that lovely little weekend at your cottage, your selection of scotch is second to none sir.  Now lets get serious for a few minutes.  Did you want the government to order the mailmen back to work.

CEO of Canada Post: No most honourable Senator. We wanted to work out our issues with the workers and certainly did not want to ruin your weekend.

Conservative Senator: There you have it, it was those mailmen that caused this whole crisis.  Over to you my Honourable Liberal friend.

Liberal Senator: So Mr. CEO, You didn`t lockout workers because you knew that would give the government an excuse to order an end to the strike, I mean dispute between you and the mailmen.

CEO of Canada Post: No my most Honourable Senator.  I was so involved in trying to settle the dispute, frankly I never heard the Minister of Labour say she would use back to work legislation to end our dispute.

Liberal Senator: Thank you for being so forth right and for making yourself available on a Sunday, I know you are a gracious family man and I too would like to thank you for your generous hospitality at your condo in Barbados.

Conservative Senator: I guess we need to talk to the mailmen now, is he here yet.  Be nice if he could make himself visible.  Oh there you are, dressed like that I am surprised they let you in sir.

Union Leader: Thank you for the opportunity to explain our side of the story.  Canada Post and the Govt want to contract out our work, cut our pensions and create a two tier wage contract. That means younger workers will get less pension and lower wages.

Conservative Senator: Do you really think you work harder for your pension than I do. How ungrateful.

Liberal Senator: I would like to interrogate the Union Leader now. Sir I want to say how troubled I am that it has come to this. I support my union mailmen. You deliver my bank statements, my pay cheque, see I am old fashion, still like to see the cheque, you would too if you saw mine, anyway, I am sorry it has come to this.  It really is a sad day. I would have at least preferred we waited a couple more days. I was in cabinet the last time you were ordered back to work, its not something I take lightly, but that is also why I am in this place, to pass judgement over the likes of you.

I can only add that I will be voting against this draconian action of my Friend, the Honourable Conservative Senator`s boss the Right Honourable Prime Minister of Canada. We could have waited a day or two more before ordering mailmen back to work.

Speaker: All in favour:  All opposed, The Bill passes.  Good work Gentlemen. I will be hosting an evening in my offices directly following this vote. breaking out some vintage scotch, given the enormity of today`s vote.

North American Security Perimeter Agreement

Many of us look forward to four years of fights with the Stephen Harper Government.  They have in the first session so far signaled that they will do what it takes to curb the rights of workers.  They will have many opportunities to do more of this in the following session.

It seems however the areas we most need to keep an eye on involve trade.  I know its hard to narrow the hard right turn this country is headed on and suggest trade maybe at the top of the list of concerns but it is.

Firstly we are about to sign the North American Security Perimeter agreement with the USA.  This will harmonise many of law as and regulations as to who gets into Canada, with those of the US. There has been no public debate. 

Prime Minister Harper said the following after a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama at the G8 meeting in Deauville, France in May of this year...

"The president and I are committed to pursuing a perimeter approach to enhance our security and accelerate the legitimate flow of people, goods and services between our two countries," Harper said. "We are pleased that discussions are on track, and we expect to have an ambitious joint action plan ready this summer following public consultations." CBC, May 26, 2011
It`s already the end of June and the Government of Canada has yet to signal any intention of consulting Canadians. Consultation I suspect will be with industry and trade organizations and not the rest of us.  The Government of Canada has not even published a report for Canadians of their efforts to reach an agreement with the US.  
Until I see more, and given Stephen Harper`s secretive nature, I can only assume Canada will sign an agreement, which in turn will give up many Canadian `freedoms`in the name of trade.   It is Fortress America.  The US will have access to more information on ordinary Canadians.  When crossing the border back into Canada, it`s likely we will be screened by an American border agent as we harmonize resources. 
Scrutiny of the deal looks to be one that is left to Parliament. Lets hope Harper won`t use closure to bring it into law.
I almost forgot, didn`t Harper use he money for border security for Tony Clements` riding.  300km from the border.


Afghanistan document link

Have you been following the Afghanistan Detainee fiasco in Parliament?  If so the Harper Conservative government today released some 4,000 documents to the media.  MACLeans Magazine is making them available on the web.
They (documents) will be posted here as fast as I am able to upload them. The 4,000 pages of detainee documents have now been released to reporters.  - Aaron Wherry reporter
That is a lot of documents.  There is also a lot of not telling us stuff.  Notice the redactions in this photo of a document released today...

And that is not one of the worst for redactions.  The Harper government is hell bent to keep as much secret as they can.


Let's be Marines! Get over DADT

Sgt. Maj. Barrett speaking to new Marines and I suspect to the attackers of  DADT ...
Sgt. Maj. Barrett, top ranked enlisted man in US Marines
“Get over it,” he said. “We’re magnificent, we’re going to continue to be. … Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines.” - Washington Wire
Will these people opposed to gay people serving in the military ever grow up. They have lost this fight on all counts, morally, ethically and politically.

More on DADT here.

h/t to Matthew Elliott on twitter

They are going to create a monster here

“They are going to create a monster here, because you will have at the end of the day … an elected body that may or may not be elected, that the Prime Minister may or may not accept the recommendations that come out of an election. It’s going to be one ugly scene and throughout that generation, we will spend $100 million a year feeding this beast which will by and large stand in the way of democracy in this country … It’s a disaster for Canadian democracy, all wrapped up in the guise of Senate reform.” - Jack Layton, Leader of the Official Opposition (The Star)

I think Jack summed that up rather well.

He robbed a bank of one dollar to get health care

North Carolina man robs store for a dollar so he can get health care in prison for medical problem
"The pain was beyond the tolerance that I could accept," he told the Gaston Gazette. "I kind of hit a brick wall with everything."  With little money to his name and many medical problems, including a growth on his chest, two ruptured disks and an unidentified problem with his left foot, he said the "robbery" was his last resort. 
Health care is so important and one of the things that binds Canadians from coast to coast to coast.  We have a good system here, it could be better, yet its not like the USA.  This man was so desperate, run out of options that he robbed a bank of one dollar.  

Now in the USA robbing a bank is very serious.  The guy will likely get several years in jail.  Once in jail, his multiple health issues will finally be dealt with.  Imagine the desperation one must be in to commit a crime so he can get health care. 

I suspect that many of us in Canada find this unreal.  Yet  millions of Americans have no healthcare. Many States are rationing healthcare for the poor. Texas is trying to get out of the federal program of Medicaid all together, a state where 25% of the people have no health care coverage at all. 

I have a friend that works in a upper middle class profession in North Carolina.  He has a first class health care plan.  He only pays five to six thousand a year in co-pays.  He pays for every Doctor visit, every specialist visit.  Last year he had a heart operation.  

After scheduling the operation and a talk to the admitting clerk a week ahead of time he received a call from the accounts receivable department.  They wanted to know how he would be paying his three thousand dollar co-pay.  Would that be by check or credit card, when would they receive the check.  It was that straight ahead.

Now my friend could pay this fee.  He gave them a credit card number and agreed to pay two thirds up front and the remainder after surgery.  He was home only three days after the surgery and they called about the additional money. 

My friend feels very lucky to have his plan, even with the many additional costs he has to pay. He knows that earning an upper middle class salary and having a Cadillac health plan makes him fortunate.  He can pay the co-pays.  Unfortunately many Americans can not.

This same friend comes to Canada every summer. He needed to have monthly tests done on his blood so he could adjust his heart medication.  This is a vital test.  Here in Ontario he would go to a lab, get the test done and receive the results in a week. It cost eleven dollars (the test is free to OHIP card carriers). The same test in the United States cost him seventy five dollars.  

I know we have much work to do to improve our system, yet it is still much better than the USA, especially if you are a middle class income earner or someone with little or no income.  Its vital that we in the next few years, work to protect our public system and not opt for more privately delivered care in this country.

If we go the way Steven Harper wants us to go, I fear for our collective well being.

Government misses CAW but slams CUPW to the Floor

These are very busy times.  First there was the Air Canada fiasco.  They were out less than a day and the Prime Minister was laying down Back to Work Legislation.  Fortunately the parties concluded an agreement before the Legislation could be passed.  The Canada Post management then decide to lockout workers and again, in less than a day the Minister starts screaming that the economy is falling apart and it is her intent to legislate an end to the dispute.

Canada Post never likes to negotiate. They prefer the government to settle disputes because they usually have a big business friend in the government. They certainly do now. The Legislation is decidedly anti-union.  In the offers exchanged between the parties to date Canada Post offered 1.9% increase.  The union was asking for 3.5%.   The government has decided that Canada Post's offer was too generous and has set the rate at 1.75%. 

The government is not acting to end a dispute, it has decided to take this opportunity to slam the union.  The legislations calls for binding arbitration.  The arbitrator is to take the last union offer and the last employer offer and choose one of them.  There is really nothing to arbitrate. The wages have been set by legislation.  The arbitrator will then decide which proposal will be implemented.  

All of this becomes a roll of the dice for the union. Do they take their chances? I don't envy the Union leaders decisions in the coming days.  

You also have to know if the government really wanted Canada Post and the Union to work out a deal, they could have told the company in which they control 100% of the stock to lift the lock out, told CUPW to go back to work and negotiate   It was that easy.  

The government just missed its chance to slam CAW workers at Air Canada, they won't let that happen again. 


Where did your rights come from?

What have unions done for people? Its something we often forget.  Many of us don't remember the days when vacations were unpaid, sick leave was unpaid, weekends were for working, 40 hour weeks were a short work week.

Fortunately there is a good list here to remind us...

Let's get one thing straight...

"...Employers and Corporations did not feel generous and decide to give you two days off every week to have a social/personal life. (We now call them weekends). Corporations did not just feel like being nice one day and give their employees paid vacations. CEOs didn't get together in a board room and say "Let's give our employees more rights at work" or "Maybe there should be laws to limit our power over an employee". ...
Here is some of the list ... Its American but many Canadian applicable law/rights

36 Reasons Why You Should Thank a Union
  1. Weekends
  1. All Breaks at Work, including your Lunch Breaks
  1. Paid Vacation
  1. FMLA
  1. Sick Leave
  1. Social Security
  1. Minimum Wage
  1. Civil Rights Act/Title VII (Prohibits Employer Discrimination)
  1. 8-Hour Work Day
  1. Overtime Pay
  1. Child Labor Laws

Illegal for Teachers too Talk about Homos

Time to allow teachers to do their job and protect all students In Canada and the USA.

 More on Publicly funded Catholic Schools in Ontario soon, where they have banned GSA's and rainbows.

FCKH8.com: The "Teachers Can't Talk About Homos" Law from FCKH8.com on Vimeo.

Catholic diocese challenges award to abused altar boy

This one is for Bruce.

Read more: 

This crosses the borders of decency. It is more abuse on the man that as a boy suffered many sexual assaults at the hands of priests.  Its beyond my understanding how the Catholic Church could take the position they have in this attempt to appeal a judgement against them.

The boy was repeatedly raped. He was forced to participate in sex with an adult against his will.  He was likely told he needed to do this to honour god. 

In this case the Catholic Church argues that religious freedom is under attack if they have to pay this settlement. If religious freedom means you can abuse young boys, then they deserve no freedom in our society to practice their religion. 

I know many people that are Christian. I know many Catholics. I know them to be good people. These people have to rise up and condemn this effort of the Catholic Church. 

Bruce railed against this abuse on his blog, Canuck Attitude which has disappeared after his unexpected death in December 2010.  Bruce who saw all of the Christian religion as evil, then he met my sister online.  He discovered that there were good christians.  At least they did not condone the actions of the people that preached death to gays, that accepted gays could be christian and have a sex life.  

Yet many christians felt Bruce went too far in his ongoing campaign to end the genocide against queer folks. They took it as he was attacking them.  He was in fact attacking them. Religions and its followers have made big money by demonizing gay people. They have worked to elect people that would ban gay people from having rights that others enjoy.  Rights like having a partner, renting an apartment, keeping a job, raising children, visiting sick or dying partners in hospital, inheriting, or having pensions and benefits.

This latest attempt by the Catholic Church to claim that religious freedom is under attack because they have been found guilty of some of the most heinous of crimes, abusing children, is as corrupt and surely unforgivable from their own GOD.

Yesterday a Twitter friend posted that she had her church pass a gay acceptance policy. See I know that Christians would like to do the right thing.  Its time for them to stand up against the violence being perpetrated against queer people. Its no longer good enough to say I care, its no longer good enough to say we don't practice such things, we don't listen to our church.  Try saving some more gay people from hell on earth and then maybe some of you will legitimately make it to your heaven.  

I never met a band that wants to jail their fans

Charlie Angus and Andrew Cash sing, discuss today's music and copyright law.  The Harper conservatives are soon to introduce copyright law that would make many people criminals if they share their music.  Angus tells SunTV reporter David Akin, "I never met a band that wants to jail their fans."

Angus is the longtime NDP MP from Timmins - JamesBay and Andrew Cash is the new MP for Toronto Davenport. Both these men played in a band "L'etranger".  They were a punk band.  A band that spoke of change and now they are both in the House of Commons, working for change.

Check out this video from SunTV News. These NDP MP's are truly talented entertainers and will contribute much to the debate over new copyright laws.  

Link to video at SunTV is here.

When Punks Turn into Politicians

Edit: correction as per comment below!  Thanks Thor!


NDP can see the road ahead and it leads to the Government benches

I wish I were in Vancouver for the NDP's convention.  Too bad I have too work at a regular job!  The next best thing to being in Vancouver is the internet and my cell phone with a plan including free long distance. 

The mood is exciting.  The mood is heading forward.  The mood is about what could be possible in just four more years.  The NDP plan to go for it.  No one will be laughing next election when Jack Layton says he is running to be Prime Minister.  

I know many in the media and my good friends in the Liberal party want to keep telling the NDP they have won nothing, Harper has all the cards. In one sense they are right. Harper can do as he wishes over the next four years.  

What these reporters and Liberals miss or are trying to avoid looking at is the way the NDP's message and Jack Layton are connecting with Canadians.  This last election saw the NDP's hard work in Quebec pay off with a JACKpot. We all know that people wanted a change in that province.  We all know that Quebec generally tends to be a little more progressive than other parts of Canada. 

The NDP's success in Quebec had some luck for sure, but as the old saying goes, you have to be good to be lucky.  Layton made Quebec a priority when he became leader.  You have all heard about his efforts to recruit candidates. What you haven't heard is about the ground work that went into the NDP's positions on issues of importance specifically to Quebecois voters.   

The election of  the immensely popular Thomas Mulcair allowed the NDP positions to be heard over the din emanating out of the BLOC.  Finally we had someone in the province who could command attention from media.  Once the media started listening, the people of the province heard what the NDP was doing.

That success may have come sooner and in larger numbers than we expected.  The results mean we will now have to move quickly to solidify our gains and find the remaining seventy seats to form the next government. We have a good new base to start from, we finished first in Quebec and second in every region and territory in the country. We finished second in over one hundred ridings. 

The NDP's success outside of Quebec was impressive.  Part of that success has to be attributed to a new and improved data base that the provincial arms of the party have been using for a couple elections and federal party support on the ground with the deployment of  paid party staff.  Local ridings were better funded, better prepared and much more effective in getting the vote out and donations collected.

The last election saw the NDP win the support of more women than any other party.  Young people supported the NDP in larger numbers than any other party.  Two areas the NDP has been focusing on a lot are new immigrants and seniors.  Traditionally these groups have voted for Conservatives and Liberals.  This last election saw the Conservatives win a majority based on their support from these groups.  Jason Kenny is often quoted these days saying he would be at all these ethnic events and nary a Liberal in sight.  I suspect he will see a lot of the NDP sitting at the table with him over the next four years.

The NDP's focus on seniors in the election could soon pay off.  Every low income senior in this country owes a debt of gratitude to David Lewis and the NDP who forced the Trudeau government to dramatically increase Old Age Pensions. That however was 38 years ago.  Medicare was 50 years ago.  Unemployment Insurance is even older.  The NDP also won concessions from the Liberals to build social housing in the 70's.  Millions of Canadians have benefited from this.  Of course social housing fell apart in Canada when the Liberals stopped funding it in 1995.

The NDP has not been as effective as it has needed to be for a while now.  That changed with the last minority government and of course this last election.  Finally we have a platform to be heard.  That is a win for me, even if the Media say its a loss.  

How do we spend our lottery winnings? Brad Lavigne, NDP director pointed to the way forward last night in his report to the NDP convention.  First is to work to elect NDP provincial governments in BC, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Elect more provincial representation in Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, and PEI.  

The goal is not out of reach.  The NDP provincially is showing more strength in all regions of Canada.  We have already began a huge effort to build infrastructure in Quebec. Fundraising efforts are meeting expectations and the bar has been raised to match that of the Conservatives within four years.  With more NDP provincial governments and more money, it will be harder for the usual red scare to resonate with voters.  People will see, right across this country, that an NDP government will be their government.

So with all the continuing infrastructural work going on, the NDP is also the government in waiting. That means going after Harper and his Conservative gang, stalling his agenda when they can, raising public pressure when he bulls ahead anyway.  The NDP can see the road ahead and it leads to the Government benches.


Who responds to queer issues in the Harper Government?

The NDP caught the federal Conservative government off guard yesterday.  They did not know who should answer the question put to them by NDP MP Dany Morin (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord)

M. Dany Morin (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, NPD): 
Monsieur le Président, les dernières statistiques démontrent une augmentation de 18 p. 100 des crimes haineux contre la communauté gaie et lesbienne. Alors que la plupart des autres crimes haineux sont principalement perpétrés contre la propriété, plus de la moitié de ceux commis contre les gais et lesbiennes impliquent de la violence. C'est inacceptable.

Quelles mesures le gouvernement entend-il prendre pour combattre l'augmentation des crimes haineux contre les gais et lesbiennes?

L'hon. Peter Van Loan (leader du gouvernement à la Chambre des communes, PCC):

Monsieur le Président, le bilan du gouvernement est éloquent. Nous croyons fermement qu'il faut protéger les droits de tous les Canadiens, indépendamment de leur milieu ou de leurs origines. Le gouvernement a toujours la même la position.

M. Randall Garrison (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, NPD):

Monsieur le Président, il est triste et injuste de constater que les Canadiens trans ne sont toujours pas protégés contre les crimes haineux ou contre la discrimination aux termes de la Loi canadienne sur les droits de la personne.

Au cours de la dernière session, la Chambre a adopté une mesure législative visant à offrir cette protection, une mesure législative qu'a appuyée le ministre de la Justice.

C'est une question d'égalité pour des Canadiens qui sont nos frères, nos soeurs, nos filles, nos fils, nos voisins et nos amis. Le gouvernement agira-t-il maintenant pour protéger les droits et la sécurité des Canadiens trans?

L'hon. Peter Van Loan (leader du gouvernement à la Chambre des communes, PCC):

Monsieur le Président, je le répète, l'engagement du gouvernement à l'égard de l'égalité de tous les Canadiens reste aussi ferme que par le passé. Notre position n'a pas changée et ne changera pas.

Quelles mesures le gouvernement entend-il prendre pour combattre l'augmentation des crimes haineux contre les gais et lesbiennes?
L'hon. Peter Van Loan (leader du gouvernement à la Chambre des communes, PCC): 
Monsieur le Président, le bilan du gouvernement est éloquent. Nous croyons fermement qu'il faut protéger les droits de tous les Canadiens, indépendamment de leur milieu ou de leurs origines. Le gouvernement a toujours la même la position.
M. Randall Garrison (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, NPD): 
Monsieur le Président, il est triste et injuste de constater que les Canadiens trans ne sont toujours pas protégés contre les crimes haineux ou contre la discrimination aux termes de la Loi canadienne sur les droits de la personne.
Au cours de la dernière session, la Chambre a adopté une mesure législative visant à offrir cette protection, une mesure législative qu'a appuyée le ministre de la Justice.
C'est une question d'égalité pour des Canadiens qui sont nos frères, nos soeurs, nos filles, nos fils, nos voisins et nos amis. Le gouvernement agira-t-il maintenant pour protéger les droits et la sécurité des Canadiens trans? 
L'hon. Peter Van Loan (leader du gouvernement à la Chambre des communes, PCC): 
Monsieur le Président, je le répète, l'engagement du gouvernement à l'égard de l'égalité de tous les Canadiens reste aussi ferme que par le passé. Notre position n'a pas changée et ne changera pas.

The government's response was mind bloggingly inept.  This is a weak link for the Conservatives.  The NDP are strong on this issue and like Asbestos, have the high ground again!

Here is the english:

Mr. Dany Morin (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, NDP): 

Mr. Speaker, the latest statistics show an increase of 18% in hate crimes against the gay and lesbian community. While most other hate crimes are committed mainly against property, over half of those committed against gays and lesbians involve violence. This is unacceptable.
What measures does the government intend to take to combat the increase in hate crimes against gays and lesbians?

Hon. Peter Van Loan (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, CPC): 

Mr. Speaker, our government's track record is clear. We believe strongly in protecting the rights of all Canadians regardless of their background, regardless of their roots. That continues to be the position of our government.

Mr. Randall Garrison (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, NDP):

Mr. Speaker, sadly and unjustly, transgender Canadians are still not protected against hate crimes nor are they protected against discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Code.

In its last session, this House passed legislation to provide those protections, legislation that was supported by the Minister of Justice.

This is a question of equality for Canadians who are our brothers and sisters, our daughters, our sons, our neighbours and our friends. Will this government act now to protect the rights and safety of transgender Canadians?

Hon. Peter Van Loan (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, as I already indicated to this House, the commitment of this government to the equality of all Canadians remains as firm as it has always been. That continues to be our position and will be in the future.


Starbucks, Triple Venti Non justice topped with Blatant Homophobia

I came across this post tonight while I avoided the Vancouver Canucks Boston tea party.  I like Starbucks and the anti - big corporist in me always chastises me as I cross the threshold of one of their many many stores.  I admit I love their cofeee and their efforts for a better world one cannot miss when you enter.

My usual Starbucks is on Church Street in Toronto. I have my doubts anything like the situation you are about to read about could happen here.  I mean its in the heart of what is left of the gay village in Toronto. That said not all Starbucks are in places that have to be nice to queer employees or clientèle.

I have printed off the open letter linked to below.  I am going to deliver copies of it to every Starbucks I go into over the next month, until something is done. I hope you can find time to at least write Starbucks or tell their staff about this on your next visit.  This should be easy to resolve. I don't think of Starbucks as homophobic in general, yet it appears some of the staff are.   No boycott needed, just a little interaction with your barista.

Here is an excerpt and link to the letter....

"Yesterday when I walked into your  Centereach, Long Island  location  I saw one of the most brazen and unapologetic displays of homophobia I have ever witnessed in my entire life.  What was most concerning about it was it was perpetuated by not one, not two but THREE of your employees and it was directed towards a fourth employee.  I don’t know this man, but I know his name is Jeffrey because the woman (who seemed to be in charge of this circus)  loudly scolded, spoke to in a condescending manner, humiliated, and then let go.  In the middle of your store. Two feet away from my table.   Then when Jeffrey, who was visibly shaken went to the bathroom to collect him self, the women at the table went on a long, ranting homophobic rant that lasted about five minutes. This rant transpired two feet away from my table where I sat with my daughter. A three year old child, with two mothers. I have never, in my entire life seem such a gross and unapologetic display of ignorance and intolerance. The most horrific aspect of it was that it was by someone that your corporation put into a position of power.  I have never, ever in ANY context seen ANYTHING so unprofessional in my entire life.  I was horrified that my daughter was exposed to that."

I Know Starbucks is Not an Anti-Gay, Homophobic Company (by Policy)…. BUT…

First Nations Education

I came across an article posted by my fab faerie brother Issac on Facebook.  The article was on the Residential Schools.

My Great Grandmother, Gertrude Pinchbeck suffered under this colonial imprisonment.  That is what it was.  Take kids away from their parents and everything they know, stuff them into stark spartan buildings and beat the Indian out of them.

Gertrude was the oldest of 14 children.  She was sent to the residential school near Williams Lake BC for a couple of years, until the priest decided that she was needed at home to help her mother look after the all the kids. My Gramma would tell me some of the stuff that happened, mostly involving the time after she returned home.  One of her most vivid memories was the twice annual visit of the Priest every fall and spring.  He would demand there be another baby by spring. Gramma's parents delivered.  It was a Catholic breeding farm.

They were all expected to attend church on Sunday.  There were few good excuses for not showing up, the best being you were in jail or deathly ill.  Gramma said she would have to steal money from her parents in order to put it in the collection plate at church.  The priest expected it and he or his collectors watched and noted those that did not contribute.  She was deathly afraid of what would happen if she had nothing to put into the collection plate.

The church ruled over their whole lives. The Indian Agent usually worked to keep Indians from getting ahead  and enforced the law of the land and church with all too much vigour and glee. Gramma's parents would try to hide some of the kids when the summer was over, to prevent them being sent away too school.  It never worked.

Our treatment of First Nations people has been horrific.  These people are still paying the price of this cultural genocide generations later and so are Canadians.

We have had many opportunities to turn it around and have failed miserably.  Look today at the conditions on Indian reserves.  Why is it we can't deliver fresh water to most of them? Why do they have so few or inadequate schools? Why are so many in jail? Why did so many of them make up the numbers of the Missing Women atrocity in Vancouver?

Schools and education are a key too turning it around.  Charlie Angus has been leading that fight for several years in Parliament.  Listen to him on CTV's Question Period as he sees the chance to make some progress on education.


Asbestos - Harper's Shame

Canada is one of the world's biggest exporters of Asbestos, even though its is severely limited in its use here at home due to health concerns.  We are in some dubious company in trying to keep asbestos off the world's banned list - Russia, Iran, Zimbabwe. 

Chrysotile asbestos is the fancy new marketing name for Asbestos. Just as the tar sands get referred to as Oil sands, the Harper Government is trying to disguise the damaging product.  

During the federal election the NDP  came out solidly opposed to the export of Asbestos. They did it even though the Quebec government endorses its export.  Harper visited the riding and said his party would continue to support asbestos mining and its export as long as other countries were willing to buy it.  Where does most of this asbestos go?  To the third world and countries like India.  

How much value is there to this product to Canada? Ninety million dollars annually according to CBC.  That is a drop in the bucket nationally.  We would hardly miss the money.  

CBC has discovered that the Harper Conservative government has not only been supportive of the industry, they have done so despite the advice of Health Canada.  Now that's a Canada that's here for who? Certainly not for me or you, or the poor folks that will be using this product.

The Liberals can't be jumping too high here.  They in government supported the industry for many years as well, for purely political reasons. Now with those reasons gone, the Liberals are on board to ban the export of this substance.  Welcome to the party!

Finally this whole thing kinda makes me laugh when I hear the Quebec provincial government get on their high horse to chastise Alberta for the tar sands.  We all know what would be happening if those Tar Sands were in "La belle province".

On The Hill - Twitter List

Canadian Federal Political resources on Twitter: Looking for hashtag or twitter account for an MP, check out this page here compiled by David Akin.  You can find it on his blog, On the Hill.  The list includes organizations, media, political parties and other influential folks in Canadian politics.

Can't find a twitter account: check out On the Hill.

Yes, the NDP can get things done....

‘We can get things done’, Joe Comartin justice critic, for the NDP

That's the way to do stuff.  Comartin is a lawyer and has been on this issue for a while.  The issue is mega trials, involving 10, 15, 20 or more accused, usually bikers, or organized crime folks.   He has managed to get this issue resolved because of his tenacity and working with the government.

Likely the first bill to pass after the budget will be this one, and won't that play well in Quebec where many of these trials have been occurring.  A good beginning for the new Official Opposition or should I say Official Proposition.

Yes, the NDP can get things done....

Globe and Mail : ‘We can get things done’: Tories, NDP team up on mega-trial bill


Steven and Bruce

Today I am here.  The title of this sounds a little like some cheap gay porn.  It's not, Steven and Bruce both enjoyed a smart cocktail and would have enjoyed the others company.

Steven's passing nine years ago seems a little harder on me this year, likely because of my good friend Bruce whose life ended in December seven months ago.  Not much more I can add right now, just thought I had to share it or I would burst.  You can find my recent thoughts on Bruce here.


Establishment elite gang up on a Senate Page

The main stream media seem hell bent to protect the environs of the Senate. Their attack on Senate Page Brigette DePape has been relentless. And I have to say I am disappointed in the reaction of the NDP, Liberals and Elizabeth May.

All three opposition parties have lined up to denounce the silent act DePape made in the Senate chamber during the Throne Speech. I am not totally surprised by the Liberal reaction, but I am with the NDP and green party. At worst I would have expected Layton to say It was the wrong place but in a Democracy this follows a time honoured tradition of non-violent protest.

We all know our rules allow the Conservatives a majority Government, even when 60% of Canadians choose another party to support. With the media falling all over themselves to out do the other in maintaining Harper's rights, dismissing the act as disrespectful and wrong, misses the ethical and moral place DePape actions stem from.

In a system where one can win absolute power without the majority of Canadian voters, acts like DePape's may be the only way we can assert the rights of the majority of Canadians. For a more thoughtful response to the MSM condemnation check out these well thought out articles.

Fast Facts: Silently Speaking Truth to Power
by Shauna MacKinnon
Is it DePape’s protest that is insulting
The Senate Page that did!  Jian Ghomeshi CBC Q


Regrets - its never too late to fix it!

How many of us live with regrets?  I expect most of us do.  Bronnie Ware was a palliative care nurse for many years who has compiled a list of the top five regrets people expressed while in her care.  You will find the list here.

In reading the list I can say I too have experienced many regrets.  The regrets have actually been the subject of discussion in recent times with people from my work place, from home and with complete strangers I have met in coffee shops.

This post is here likely due to my recent discussions with some of the people I care for deeply.  The subjects of the discussions are based on ego in some fashion.  Things like, I'm not getting the recognition I deserve for my body of work,  I hate my work, I don't want to go away, I don't have anyone to look after me, I wish I had someone to mentor.

These discussions can be quite painful.  They fill up space in our thoughts to the exclusion of what we really have, which is right now.  Now is the only thing we have real control over.  What happened before has happened, we can't change that.  We can plan for tomorrow but that hasn't come yet and could be derailed.  Shouldn't we be enjoying life.

My home family group here in Toronto includes three others.  We were looking forward to a good year. Then one has a serious health issue, another hates his job and another is feeling desperately lonely.  What is common among these people is that each one is accomplished in their field, two are accomplished academics and the other is revered for his service and dedication.

I was fortunate, maybe lucky or just maybe smart.  I met Steven, (that was the smart part). I wish my family here had met him.  Steven was my partner for a small portion of his life, which ended on June 9, 2002.  Steven showed me we have today. We need to live now.  Enjoy today, make the most of it.  Yesterday is gone, can't change that, Tomorrow we don't know what that brings. All we really have is now.

If all we really have is now, why do we spend so much time and energy about things we can never change.  If we are with loved ones, why are we burning energy on what tomorrow brings.  Wouldn't it make sense to spend the same energy being happy.  Wouldn't it make more sense enjoying what it is you are fretting about missing from tomorrow.

I use to regret the lack of recognition I received for my efforts in the fight for gay or social justice work. That was until I found I didn't really need it.  I know what I have done, and oddly enough, its the little things that make me smile, like the Privatised Highway worker in BC who took my advice and now has a financially secure retirement, or the 15 year old gay boy who sought comfort and is now a proud gay man, or the logger in BC who was anything but NDP, who thanked me for helping him be heard or the smiles I receive from distraught folks I assist in my current work place.

It seems we all get rapped up with what others think of us when we become adults. We lose our child like approach to life, of accepting where we are and enjoying the now. Steven helped me to understand and embrace that child like approach. It is that openness to others that makes me attractive to those I love.  That allows people to approach me.

I have one regret that I need to ditch.  I have been very lousy in staying in touch with friends and family.  Seeing the list of regrets I linked to above has made it evident I want to be better.  Lets see how well I do on that front.

Being gay has contributed to much to my being. It often meant earlier in my life that I felt I needed to hide who I was.  That takes much energy.  That saps you.  Yet we still have a life to live and in the end, it really isn't any different from others.  We all want to be accepted.  We all want to be loved. We all want to be comfortable in our own skin.

I love my family, I love my friends. I miss many of them and wish I could see them more regularly.  I have about twenty five people I want to reach out too in the next two months.  I should be able to accomplish that. That's my goal.  I expect that once I contact these old friends and family, I will reduce the number of regrets I have when I leave this world behind someday.

Notwithstanding what I have said above, the fight for social justice continues, living and enjoying today doesn't mean putting on blinders. I continue to pursue a better world for others. And I close with a thank you to Bronnie and her list and to Brigitte De Pape. Jian Ghomeshi's essay on Ms De Pape has reminded me of me, many years ago.  I take up her challenge in making tomorrow better than today, while enjoying what I have now!