All posts by Tia Everitt

Tia is a mystery, wrapped in an enigma and covered in a crunchy candy coating of genuine British Columbian snark. She is currently exiled to Winnipeg for an unknown duration of time.

Are Canadian Women Also Radical Enemies of the State?

In an orgy of axe swinging and program bludgeoning last week, the federal government set their sights on taking a clean shot at the health and well-being of Canadian women. With all of the vitriol and paternalistic reining in recently, one can’t help but wonder if the government has lumped people with two X chromosomes in with the other “radical” enemies of the state, like Dr. David Suzuki or people who like whales. The latest casualties? 6 federally funded women’s health programs, which fall under the umbrella of the Women’s Health Contribution Program.

The following programs from Halifax to Vancouver will be forced to close their doors by March 31, 2013 or accept funding elsewhere:

  • Le Réseau québécois d’action pour la santé des femmes (RQASF)
  • The Canadian Women’s Health Network (CWHN)
  • The Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health (ACEWH)
  • The British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health (BCCEWH)
  • The Prairie Women’s Health Centre of Excellence (PWHCE)
  • The National Network on Environments and Women’s Health (NNEWH)

What does this mean? Limitation, cessation or compromise of access and research in the following areas of women’s health:

  • women’s health implications of the federal government’s regulation of toxic chemicals (NNEWH);
  • hyper-sexualization of girls (RQASF);
  • inter-generational legacy of residential schools on Aboriginal women and their families (PWHCE);
  • need for trauma-informed counselling  for women with addictions (BCCEWH);
  • working guide for conducting sex and gender-based analysis in health research (ACEWH);
  • a critical analysis of funding for the HPV vaccine (CWHN).

Shame on the Feds, who have simply succeeded in creating further burden on our exhausted health care system, and once again shown that the status of women across the country is truly second class.

Springtime for Hitler in Ottawa


Last week, our favourite sweater vest hoarding Prime Minister made the world’s laziest Nazi/Hitler invocation during Question Period. This is the latest in a string of Hitler references made by sundry politicos in Ottawa during 2012, and we’re not even half way through the year. His gaffe brought jeers and tears of laughter to denizens of the House and online. For your viewing pleasure, witness the exchange between Mulcair the Bearded Sandwich Explainer and Stevie Soulless Eyes HERE.

After I was done laughing and wiping tears of hilarity from my eyes, I went back to the Politics Respun crew, and asked them for their input. Stephen Elliot-Buckley, Kevin Harding, Jasmin Mujanovic and I weighed in:

Is there ever an appropriate time in debate for comparing our politicians, parties and policies to those of Adolf Hitler?
Short of starting some ethnic cleansing campaign or annexing a neighbouring state, no. The bar is set quite high. That said, I think there’s too much careless thoughtlessness when people are rejecting criticisms of fascism and totalitarianism and corporatism. Tossing those words around seems to fit some of the positions we’ve seen in Canada in recent decades that are contemptuous of democracy. As a society we need to be better educated about the meaning and historical context of those words so we can use them more intelligently. And we don’t need Hitler for all that. – Stephen

I’m not one to really ascribe limits to speech, save for the kind that involves things like yelling “fire” in a crowded movie theatre. That being said, I also think that there’s problems with making comparisons between exceedingly horrific historical events and the leader of the NDP asking Harper when he was going to bring Canadian soldiers home from our neo-colonialist romp in Afghanistan. There’s a balance; if you honestly, seriously, fully think that comparing the actions of your debate opponent to those of Hitler are necessary, then, by all means, do so – but don’t be surprised if you’re made out to look like an idiot after doing so. It’s a comparison that should be made exceedingly rarely, and only in circumstances that actually warrant it. – Kevin

Sure but only once they begin engaging in or advocating for the systemic genocide of a segment of our population. Until then, it’s juvenile idiocy. – Jasmin

If the politician/party/policies are truly akin to those of Adolph Hitler and not simply something that opponents of the politician/party/policies merely dislikes or takes offense to, yes. Using it as a tool to insult or derive a reaction (Godwin’s Law) does make it a de facto debating tactic. – Tia

Was Harper out of line on Thursday when he erroneously stated that the NDP did not support the fight against Hitler in 1939? Was Mulcair, when he shot back about Reform Party?

I think it would be wonderful to get into the debate about where Canada has stood on events like the Boer War, WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq x2, and Afghanistan. And the centuries of various forms of war against the first peoples. There is precious little serious, non-zinger based rhetoric floating around when, as a nation, we ought to be getting into the soul of the issue of the role of our military. – Stephen

No, and no. In the most literal sense. Take a look deeper at the statements – Harper said that the “leader of the NDP in 1939” didn’t even support war against Hitler. This – and only this – is specifically true. J.S. Woodworth, an ardent pacifist, opposed war in Germany. And he – alone in the House of Commons – voted against the declaration of war. And he was soundly castigated for his actions, and made fun of quite rightly, for his vote. Extending this smear to insinuating that the NDP itself loved Hitler is just fucking stupid, plain and simple. Mulcair, on the other hand, shot back about the Reform Party’s policies – here, he took the policies of the party as it then was and compared it to the actions of the party as it is now. No spurious smearing; if the party changed names, it’s still the party’s policies as they were, not the actions of an individual who was then castigated by the party. – Kevin

Harper’s statement was the depths of gutter politics–pathetic more than anything else. I thought Mulcair’s retort was rather funny, though, and I don’t even really like the guy. Not much else to do in a situation like that than mock the Prime Minister. – Jasmin

If the HOC was a UFC octagon (which would actually make a lot of politics in Canada much more entertaining and culturally relevant for the masses) this tactic by Harper would have been a move akin to kneeing your opponent in the balls. It was cheap, lazy and a last ditch effort to keep away from having to tap out. Mulcair’s retort was priceless, and he chalked up laugh points from me with his verbal ground n’ pound. – Tia

In the media (both traditional and social) there are perpetual invocations of Hitler/Nazis by Left of centre thinkers/commentators directed towards Harper, his government, and Conservative Party policy. Is there legitimacy in this comparison?

Like I said above, I think we need to be more precise. When we say totalitarian, we need to talk about an issue like “free speech zones” in Vancouver during our Olympics corporate orgy, with respect to the Charter and how such acts are an egregious violation of reasonable limits from Section 1 []. When we talk about corporatism and the corporate-political junta that is the neo-liberalism of the Liberal Party, Reform Party and Conservative Party, we should be clear on how we talk about governing for corporate interests. When we bring up soft fascism or hard fascism, we should connect that discussion with these handy 14 elements of fascism: – Stephen

There’s legitimacy in comparing a lot of the actions of governments to fascism. To Hitler? Nope. And don’t get me started in the stupidity that one can find in certain right-wing fora who insist that Hitler was a commie socialist, not a right-wing fascist. – Kevin

No, absolutely not. I have very, very strong objections to Harper’s policy in particular as it relates to our treatment of First Nations peoples and overseas(mis)adventures–situations where people are actually dying)but he’s not Hitler, nor are the Tories Nazis, either. We have plenty of fascist movements around the world (including Canada) who make very few bones about their politics; we’d be better off actually engaging those people than wasting time on these partisan theatrics. – Jasmin

Comparing what is actually going on in Ottawa with the current Conservative government and WWII Nazis is laughable and makes your argument look small minded and uninformed. Like Harper or not, he’s not actively gassing his enemies in death camps and annexing small nations. Find a better comparison in history or grab some originality and create a term. I’m fond of Sweatervestism, myself. – Tia

Is Nazism a useful symbol for what makes us angry, from opinions on extended breastfeeding to criticism about opposing politicians?

I believe in Godwin’s law. Short of contemporary Nazis and similar groups, I think we need to educate people with more precise terms. – Stephen

If you legitimately think that the comparison is necessary, sure. Just don’t be surprised if you’re made to look like a complete idiot on your comparison if it’s out of line. There are way more useful comparisons or symbols to use. Boots stomping on faces, sweater vests, et cetera. – Kevin
Only a Nazi could ask such a question! Which is to say: sure…but only if you’re kind of slow and un-creative. First of all, very rarely are our opponents actually Nazi-like in nature. And on the odd occasion where I have engaged with actual fascists, the comparison to the Nazis was hardly insulting to them. So, with very few exceptions, the comparison is unjustified–and none of those exceptions are part of the mainstream Canadian political scene. – Jasmin

What is the term I’m looking for? Ah, yes. Reductio ad Hitlerum: claiming that a policy/group leads to/is the same as one advocated or implemented by Hitler/the Third Reich, and so “proves” that the original policy/group is undesirable. Guilt by association. Having been called a “Boob Nazi” (somewhat erroneously) often and FemNazi a few times, I am always perplexed as to how the person making the comparison arrives at the choice of words. I presume that the person throwing the terms around lacks a functional vocabulary/creativity. – Tia

Does invoking Hitler/Nazi in Canadian politics trivialize and desacralize memories of holocaust and the horrors of WW2?

Yes. And while trying to elicit empathy for violated peoples is a valid motive, we should do it in a more realistic context. We don’t have to go to gas chambers to talk about the abject poverty that millions of Canadians are one paycheque away from because of neoliberal, totalitarian, corporatist soft fascism. – Stephen

No. It trivializes the person making the comparison, if the comparison is not justifiable. Cf “Godwin’s Law” and etc. – Kevin

Yes, full stop. – Jasmin

Hell, yes. It’s disrespectful of people who have been affected by Hitler, who dealt a lasting blow generationally to so many families and individuals around the world. My grandparents were children/teenagers during WWII in Germany/Eastern Europe and our family is still impacted, several generations later. – Tia

Other thoughts/comments on this topic?

Harper is clearly desperate. He’s seen his polling numbers drop stunningly since the NDP leadership race, which is the kind of event to give the NDP a bump, not usually a corresponding plummet in the governing party’s stature. And now that I enjoyed the Twitterverse Monday morning kicking the tires of the NDP talking about expecting a coalition government with the Liberals and not a merger, the Harper Junta will be further trimmed in the polls. And now that the Liberals are going to let non-members vote in their leadership race, Cullenistas in the NDP can vote for a leader who is interested in a distinct, yet cooperative posture with the NDP. And yesterday NDP House Leader Cullen called for the speaker to enforce more decorum in the house. Cooperation and dignity, two of Cullen’s core leadership messages, seem to be defining this era of the NDP even if Cullen didn’t “win” the leadership. Harper’s a politician full of hate and vitriol. He is so angry, eager to demolish the Liberals, eager to cram his self-assured ideology wherever he can for the sake of some monarchist imperial brand of corporatism. He knows that suppressing voter turnout illegally or through negative politics keeps voters who embrace hope from turning up and mobilizes his base that hates their enemies. We need to reject gutter politics. As simply as last spring when Layton unilaterally stopped his party from heckling in the House, there is room for building something positive. Harper is incapable of doing that. So he invokes monsters, and in doing so, Godwin. – Stephen

The meta-narrative on Harper’s stupidity in jumping into Godwin’s law so quickly ignores the fact that Harper didn’t have an answer as to when the troops engaged in neo-colonialism in Afghanistan will be coming home – so instead he pulled out Hitler. Idiot. – Kevin

I’ve been left with a Broadway show tune from The Producers in my head, ear-worming me endlessly. Springtime! For Hitler! In Germany! Thanks for that, Harper. – Tia

A Handmaid’s Tale: Intended as Fiction, Not a Guidebook

I have become very weary of being perpetually assaulted, all day long, and being utterly helpless to defend myself from the onslaught. If it isn’t advertisers shoving things I don’t want down my throat, it’s the bank ramming their hands in my pockets. The media fills my eyes and ears with sights and sounds that wage war on my mind. If I exercise my right to vocalize dissent against the corporate bedfellows and pet projects of the federal government, I find my hands are tied, and my mouth gagged. When I thought I couldn’t be violated more, I turned around and found Ottawa making a grab for my uterus. Excuse me? I don’t think so. MINE.

When you were little, you learned about stranger danger, and what to do if anyone ever attacked you/touched your private parts/tried to abduct you. You’d scream. You’d kick and claw at their eyes with your nails. Perhaps kick them squarely in the crotch. You’d try to get away and draw as much attention to yourself as possible, so as to get help, and have the offender nabbed.


Ol’ Stephen Woodworth is a Con MP from Kitchener. Stephen Woodworth thinks he knows better than Canadian women do about what rights they have when it comes to their reproductive choices. Stephen Woodworth doesn’t like that women currently have options beyond being pretty little baby making machines. Stephen Woodworth (who has a very phalic last name, indeed) has tabled a private members bill (It’s nice that your members get to stay private, right?) called M-312. Under M-312, a special committee in the House of Commons would be formed to review the section of the Criminal Code that states that a baby only becomes a human being after it is born. Which, in turn, opens up the door to the abortion debate that Mr. Harper has been reassuring Canadians was not open to debate at this time. In turn, our happy far-right neo-Con folks get to play high stakes poker with the personhood of Canadian women. Does this sound familiar? It should. One only needs to look to our neighbour to the south and see what fruit this right wing, dystopian abuse of women’s rights has begun to manifest. Our government seems to have mistaken Atwood’s  fictional A Handmaid’s Tale for an instruction manual.

This is vastly more than just a simple introspection on personal moral and ethical beliefs surrounding conception, gestation, abortion and the value of human life.  Bill M-312 threatens the human rights of Canadian women, and if they were to come into effect, make our role in society simply one of being a walking, breathing incubator. While I was doing my research, someone came along and did it for me – thanks to the Radical Handmaids and Rhapsody Blue for saving me time and consternation:

Today at 5:30 PM, the House of Commons will debate MP Stephen Woodworth’s motion to form a committee to “review the declaration in Subsection 223(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada which states that a child becomes a human being only at the moment of complete birth”, as well as answer several subsequent questions.


MP Woodworth has chosen to market the motion under the title “Canada’s 400 Year Old Definition of a Human Being”, good-naturedly alleging that the law as it stands is simply out of date, and that lawmakers of the past lacked the scientific understanding of human development that we have today.


Krissy Fair [1] has pointed out the inaccuracy of Mr. Woodworth’s assertion that the current law exists because, at the time of its creation, we did not understand that an unborn child was human, in addition to pointing out that the law itself is only 120 years old. The law was written with the understanding that extending the provisions of the Criminal Code to the unborn would have several unacceptable consequences.


Just so we are clear on the text of the law as it stands currently: “a child becomes a human being within the meaning of this Act when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother, whether or not it has breathed; it has an independent circulation; or the navel string is severed.” Note the language that specifies the context: “within the meaning of this Act” – that is to say, for the purposes of criminal prosecution.


Much has been written about this motion, and a great deal of it focuses on the abortion issue, as it should.


However, as MP Woodworth so kindly reminded me in a form letter reply that disregarded the entire contents of my original letter* to him, the motion “has far wider implications than merely for the abortion issue”.


It is with an eye to this fact, and in the spirit of Prime Minister Harper’s promise not to re-open the abortion debate, that I would like to present several implications of Motion 312 that do not concern abortion.


We need not speculate on the results of declaring the unborn to be legal persons for the purposes of criminal prosecution. In fact, we may simply cast an eye South of the border, where “personhood” laws have been implemented in several states.


If the unborn are declared persons:

  • Miscarriages would require full criminal investigations by the police, and could result in manslaughter convictions even in the case of no ill intent or wrongdoing. Personally, I think miscarrying a wanted pregnancy must be tragic enough without adding jail time to the mix. Consider the story of Christine Taylor, who was arrested for attempted homicide after feeling lightheaded and falling down while pregnant. Wanting to ensure that no harm had come to her unborn child, Taylor sought medical attention, which resulted in her arrest. [2] Laws declaring the unborn to be persons actively dissuade pregnant mothers from seeking help and making the best medical decisions for their pregnancies.
  • Doctors would have the right to obtain legal custody of a fetus and, thus, a woman’s body. Consider the story of Samantha Burton, who was forcibly confined to a hospital after she had the audacity to request a second opinion on her physician’s advice of bed rest. Her forced hospitalization separated her from her two young children, and she miscarried while being confined in the hospital. [3] Laws declaring the unborn to be persons rob mothers of their right to obtain as much information as possible and make their own medical decisions.
  • Certain forms of fertility treatment, including in vitro fertilization, would be made illegal.
  • Women who take prescription drugs for any reason during pregnancy, even with the approval of their OB/GYN, may be charged with delivering drugs to a minor, or child abuse. Child abuse laws regarding narcotics, after all, do not allow administration of drugs not prescribed to the child if there is relatively low risk of harm: it’s just illegal, and with good reason. Thus pregnant women may be forced to compromise their health and well-being during a pregnancy.
  • Conversely, women who fail to take proper vitamins such as folic acid (perhaps because they did not know that they were pregnant) would be subject to criminal prosecution.
  • Women struggling with addictions to drugs or smoking could be arrested for undergoing assistive treatment, or using products such as nicotine gum in an effort to live a healthier lifestyle during their pregnancy.
  • Canada may be forced to outlaw life-saving treatment for ectopic pregnancies should the date of personhood be set early enough. Ectopic pregnancies, as I am sure you are aware, rarely result in viable births and, if left untreated, will often render the woman infertile or kill her. Treatment for preeclampsia (the leading cause of death for pregnant women) could also be made illegal.
  • Doctors may force pregnant women to have major surgery such as Caesarian surgery against the pregnant woman’s wishes, as was the case with Angela Carder (who died, along with the fetus) and Laura Pemberton [4]. Police may arrest pregnant women who have exercised their right to medical decision-making regarding pregnancy, labour and delivery.

These are just a handful of considerations. I encourage you to ponder them, regardless of where you stand on the abortion issue. This motion has implications for all pregnant women, not just those who would like to have abortions.


I think that the moment of birth is the easiest way to define a person in practical legal terms; if an unborn child is to be a person, Canada must presumably begin granting unborn children the full rights of citizenship the moment they are deemed persons. I wonder, will expecting mothers be able to declare unborn children as dependents for tax and other benefit purposes? Does this also include phasing out birth certificates and birth dates in favour of personhood dates?


Take a moment to consider your position… then regardless of what you decide, I encourage you to take action!


* I am aware that MP Woodworth’s office must be very busy. But I was still surprised to receive a form letter reply that, among other things, thanked me for my “kind comments” and implored me to “promote the views we share with the utmost sensitivity and consideration toward those who disagree” and to publicly express my support for the motion.  The email also included a package of media releases, a pro-Motion 312 flyer, and a similarly supportive petition that I could pass around. I was certainly polite, but I wouldn’t have called my email kind, nor did I express any sort of support for the motion. In fact, I encouraged MP Woodworth to conduct a respectful debate in the House, and presented several arguments against the idea of striking a committee, in the hopes that he might decide to vote against his own motion. I assume my email was not read.

Abortion is ugly. It is sad that it continues to have to be an option, that not every child is wanted/able to be cared for/loved or healthy. Not all circumstances are equal, and it is essential that we continue to be given choice and control over our own reproductive decisions

Hopefully, I don’t wake up to an unwanted name change when this is over. OfStephen is really unbecoming.






Occupy the Church, Occupy Together






What do these words mean to you?

For many, the connotations are negative. Personal experiences with judgemental, rigid, frozen people who identify themselves as Christians have left a bitter taste in their mouths. Memories of being harangued, condescended to and lectured linger long after their encounter. Media and political examples of those who proclaim to be faithful are nearly always of a deafeningly ignorant and perplexing sort. If these were my sole run-ins with Christians, I would write them off as a group as well. After all, who wants to yoke themselves to a group of closed-minded and finger pointing hypocrites?

I found myself bashing my head against my desk earlier in the day, when I stumbled upon a Tweet from Westboro Baptist Church. Westboro is notorious for being vehemently anti-gay, anti-Semitic and vicously Pro-Life,  and have gone to extremes to publicly harass and shame these aforementioned groups in the media, often turning up at events with angry pickets and inflammatory signage. Should you ever require an emetic to induce vomiting after eating some bad sushi, I whole-heartedly suggest reading through their website.

As someone who identifies as a Christian, I am loath to lump myself in with their ilk, and was disgusted and nauseated after reading through their prejudiced, hateful vomiting of words. Today, they were generating press for themselves by announcing that they were going to ramp up their new crusade of placards and brimstone, by picketing the funeral of deceased Apple founder, Steve Jobs. Beyond smacking of a cheap stunt to get attention, I fail to understand how this would be useful to anyone, other than the Westboro coffers that are filling up with the tizzied tithes of like-minded Tea Party wing nuts and illiterate mouth-breathers. According to Margie Phelps of Westboro, Jobs is sizzling in the deep-fryer of Hell tonight, because he failed to use his riches to give glory to God. Ergo, this is a good time to spread a little of the crazy in front of his mourners and the sundry members of media in attendance.  I’m impressed that Westboro has been struck with the divine ability to know with certainty what Jobs is doing for eternity. Margie, honey, it’s time to go back to the basics, and visit Matthew 7: 1- 5.  “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”  Hmm. Convenient to forget this choice nugget, n’est pas?

After I finished spitting at the screen, and hissing invectives, I was consumed by reading up and following the Occupy Wall Street solidarity movement, Occupy Together , that has been gaining traction worldwide. Borne out of backlash against the corruption, oppression and suppression of Americans by corporations and government, the movement has replicated like a virus, with a rapid surge of action groups springing up in cities around the world. As it should. For too long, people have been complacent in allowing themselves to be stepped on and kicked by the greedy and evil. A good, old-fashioned peasant revolt, replete with pitchforks and torches has been direly needed for a long time. It has begun. It is good. Again, Westboro’s various Twitter accounts decry the movement, proclaiming protestors infidels, sodomites and heathens. As do other fundamentalist, extreme right lurching (they don’t lean) organizations.

Epic fail.

Jesus would occupy.

The man, whose name so many draw upon to justify their hatred and prejudice?

He was a liberal.

He was a rebel.

He was a political leader.

He was angry.

The Son of God was no namby-pamby, milquetoast, limp-wristed man. He blasted money changers in the temple, who were thieving and corrupting though commercial activity. He didn’t keep company with royalty and rulers, starlets and the popular. He had a band of misfits and loners who shucked off the trappings of everyday life, and gave up their comforts to incite action. Jesus hung out with prostitutes, and worse, the universally reviled tax collector. He doled out free health care. He dispensed food to the hungry. He forgave people of their debts to God. He was a carpenter who labored, and became a radical teacher. He faced the death penalty for a crime he didn’t commit.

This man would Occupy.

So for those who need to return to the basics, and revisit exactly what Jesus DID espouse, I’ve got a few reminders of why Christians are called to be radical, inclusive, loving and political and why we need to Occupy the Church and our communities instead of hiding in glass houses.

Make Peace, Not War

Canada and the US spend absurd quantities of money fighting wars to protect the interests of multinational corporations that toss them kickbacks. We send our troops to places they have no business being, to come home in body bags, to fight wars that are not our own. Stop policing the world. Fix the problems here, where our people are being bled dry.

  • Matthew 5:9  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be Called the Children of God.”
  • Matthew 5:39 “Resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite the on thy right cheek, turn the other also.”
  • Matthew 5:44 “I say unto you: love your enemies. Bless them that curse you. Do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which fully use you and persecute you.”
Corporate Greed is an Abomination
Corporations are not citizens. They are given leeway by the government to devastate the environment, enslave workers, create artificial economic hardship, destroy lives.
  • Luke 12: 15 “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in abundance of his possessions.
  • Matthew 6: 24 ” You cannot serve God and money.”
  • John 2:14 & 15 “In the temple courts, Jesus found men selling cattle, sheep, doves while sitting at tables, exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove them from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers, and overturned their tablets.” 
Equality and Social Programs
All people deserve equal access to free health care, free education, and accessible housing. Not just those who can afford to pay, to skip a queue, to be born into a better social standing.  Is that what we have now? Not even close. We are charged to take care of those who are unable to do this for themselves.

  • Luke 14: 13 & 14  “But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, 
    because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
  • Matthew 22:39 “So in everything do to others as you would have them do to you.”
  • Matthew 19:21 “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”
Crime & Punishment
The recent case of Troy Davis in Georgia is a perfect example of the hypocritical nature of governance, law makers and those who are able to exert power over us. Even when presented with law that would cast reasonable doubt, decision makers in the state of Georgia were able to exploit loopholes to strong-arm their will. North Americans cried foul, rallied for benevolence, pleaded for justice. There was none. This was not the first, nor will it be the last time the death penalty was used to send a message to the world. “Screw you. We are the government. We do what we want.”
  • John 8:7  “If any one of you is without sin, let him cast the first stone.”
  • Matthew 7: 1 & 2 “Do not judge, lest you too be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged with the measure you used, and it will be measured unto you.” 
Christians are called upon to be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14) and to speak for those who have no voice. God does not hate fags. Or Buddhists. Or single mothers. Or immigrants. God hates hypocrites who spread lies, hatred and death. If Satan truly comes to kill, steal and destroy, as it is written in John 10:10, then it is our governments, banks and corporations that we need to rebuke. Jesus came so that we could live life, and live it abundantly. To watch our fellow-man wither on the vine, broken and indebted is to defy what our mission on Earth is. Every day that you and I turn our back on social justice, deny righteousness and turn a blind eye to corruption is a day that all of us have failed. The sickness and the sorrow that we are drowning in are symptoms of our own depravity, and the willingness to put on a blindfold. It is time to unite, join in solidarity, and scream “This isn’t working! Stop the madness. Fix this, and fix it now!”

Occupy your city.
Occupy your church.
Tomorrow is too late.

Encouraging Early Political Engagement:

It is not an accident that I am a political junkie.

Even as a toddler, I was fed a steady diet of left-of-centre ideology, pro-union sentiments and anti-monarchist dogma. My mother, who was not overtly political, ensured I could recognize political leaders from around the world by sight before I could read, that I understood the vast differences between different types of political thought, and the inherent differences in Canadian political parties before I was school aged. During election season, she brought me with when she voted, and made sure that I was well aware that voting was a responsibility that we had as Canadians, and was something that was not an option. One of my earliest memories as a child is one of smearing mud on the back the giant brown and orange   “JIM FULTON, NDP” billboard in our yard when I was sent out to play while my infant brother napped. In a subsequent provincial election, the neighbours erected a massive Social Credit sign on their front lawn, and I was informed “SoCreds are evil. NDP is Good. SoCreds only work for big businesses. NDP is for the working class people…like us.” One might even say I was brainwashed.

When I was in grade 4, I engaged in fisticuffs on the school bus with a boy from down the street. Ryan was a year older, and his parents were self employed. There was some sort of provincial election brewing, and Ryan’s parents had a megalith of a Social Credit sign on the corner of the lawn. I informed Ryan that his family was clearly batting for the wrong political team, and that, people who voted SoCred were evil and sucked. Ryan retaliated, informing me that only losers would vote NDP. We wound up smacking the hell out of each other with math books, and were sent up to sit in the front of the bus for the remainder of the year.

Why are my memories of a blue collar, slightly pinko childhood in Northern BC in the 1980’s relevant now?

As Manitoba (where I am a home owner and my children go to school) creeps ever closer to the October 4th provincial election, there has been an onslaught of automated calls to our residence, glad-handling politicians standing on my doorstep, reams of glossy campaign fliers from the Conservative, NDP and Liberal parties festooning my mailbox. Most of the propaganda is of the usual variety: health care funding/cuts, taxation increases/cuts, infrastructure, aboriginal issues, education. Bored to tears of watching the Three Stooges bonk one another on the head on the local news, I was pleased to notice something that was out of the realm of the usual regurgitation. It was a large 1/4 page ad in the Winnipeg Free Press, advertising a website: The tag line? “When You Vote on October 4…Bring Your Child.” On it, a man voting at a booth, with children surrounding him. Under the picture, it read “It is never too early to learn about democracy.” Finally! A government campaign that I could relate to!

A quick visit to the CitizenNext website shows that someone in the employ of the government put some thought into the program. There are games and puzzles for kids to enjoy while passively learning about democracy. There are voter pledge cards, which can be personalized and printed off for the child, and a sticker that they can finish it off with only when they go to the booth with you to vote.  They list books to read to children about democracy and politics. While I’ve seen previous campaigns that were targeted at educators, this one is targeted at parents. The gist is that declining voter numbers can be traced back to parental apathy, and that by acting now, we can turn the tide in a decade or two, by educating our children now. The site also shares a number of simple ways to foster engagement early:

Ideas for raising kids to be engaged citizens:

Talk about it – Let your kids know why you think it’s important to vote. Even very young kids can understand the idea of selecting a leader. Engage older children in a discussion about political issues that are important to you or that come up in the news. Encourage your kids to express their own opinions and ideas.

Vote at home – Introduce the concept of voting by holding simple votes on household issues. It could be as simple as voting on what to prepare for a special meal.

Bring your child with you when you vote – Children are welcome at voting stations. Show your kids what voting looks like.

Visit our Game area – For games and activities related to citizenship and voting.

Take older kids to a live debate or watch one on TV – Discuss the points the candidates make and ask your kids for their views.

Point to resources on the Web – There are many excellent websites devoted to encouraging youth to participate in the election process.

All of the people that I know, who are avid political enthusiasts and are active politically, have at least one parent that downloaded some sort of passion or duty into them. When reading biographies of politicians, they often come from what seems to be dynasties: generations of people who catch the bug, and can’t shake it. What concerns me about this campaign, which I believe is a fantastic start, is that it misses the mark. People who care already do this with their kids. They are having these discussions. They’re involving their charges. They’re taking their progeny to the booth. The problem is that people who are already apathetic are not going to pick up the glossy half page flier in the mail and suddenly feel inspired to a) leave the house and vote and b) have deep and meaningful conversation with their children about the importance of voting.

I give the Manitoba Government an “A” for effort, but remain skeptical of the impact that this will have long term.

In the meantime, my daughters both have “I VOTED – CITIZENNEXT.CA” stickers on their coats, because they joined me at the advance polls over the weekend. I can only hope someone else sees the round little reminder on their coats as they scamper by, and  suddenly feels compelled to put an X in the box on October 4th, possibly with their child in attendance.

Leash Laws are for Chumps: The Credo of the Dog Owning Sociopath

Over the course of the last decade, I’ve allowed myself to become something of a chubby haus frau.  I derive considerable pleasure in planting myself in front of the computer and not bothering to watch what I stuff in my face. Several times a year, something in my brain chemistry is rudely altered, and I find myself yearning to run half-marathons and participate in hellacious boot-camps. Ordinarily, I try to avoid running, as my thighs tend to rub together in such a way that the friction from the slabs of fat swinging back and forth causes me to give off smoke, and it smacks of effort. Yet this morning, still high from the heady excitement of the federal election the previous evening, I felt compelled to go for a jog before going to work. Spring has finally sprung in Winnipeg, and after being cooped up for months on end, it seemed like a really good plan to take the dog (a six pound Pomeranian) out to the Assinaboine Forest for a speed waddle.

Besides the dawning reality of running being that it actually involves movement, my forays into the land of exercise generally end badly. Those who know me, already know what always happens when I go out alone with a child or a small dog: I get attacked by a snarling, gigantic, hell hound.

These beasts are never leashed.

My beef is not with large dogs, specific breeds, or people who train their dogs well and are responsible owners.

My contempt and resentment is directly aimed at the selfish and irresponsible louts who cannot be bothered to think past themselves, subsequently endanger other people and their animal.

There is something disturbingly sociopathic about individuals who go about procuring large dogs, and then persist in taking them to public places and setting them loose, with zero capability to reign them in. Even more so when they do this the face of glaring signage that specifically implores them NOT to let their dogs off the leash. What twisted sense of entitlement do you have to feel, to justify allowing Cujo to charge at seniors and children, unchecked? How do you come to the conclusion that you and your snarling ball of canine terror are somehow exempt from city ordinances that are in place to protect the rest of us from you?

Today was no exception. I arrived at the park with my dog  (who is more of an over-fed squirrel, really) and snapped her leash on. I grabbed a couple of poop scoop bags from the  glove box, and locked the doors. I stopped to read the trail map, some of the historical notes, and was pleased to note that off-leash dogs were prohibited. The map gave directions to a nearby  off-leash park, and warned of fines for those who failed to heed the leash warning. The fuzzy dog and I set off down the trail, enjoying the fresh wind, frog songs from the pond beyond, and the shrill trilling of birds from the birch trees around us. The place appeared to be devoid of other park users, although there were several vehicles at the gate, so after about 15 minutes of brisk jog-walk-running, I was starting to relax, and believed that this time would be different. This time I wouldn’t have to save my purse pooch from becoming a Scooby snack for a rabid monster! No sooner had I let my guard down, did a massive, unrestrained dog appear at the trail-head, snarling and aggressively letting me know it was NOT my friend. I grabbed my yapping fool, and stomped my foot at the demon dog “Git! Go!” I yelled at it. Around the corner appeared it’s owner: a woman in a down vest with sunglasses and Lululemon yoga gear. She had a leash draped, pashmina-like around her neck, but showed no inkling of desire to move to put it on her mutt. “Oh, don’t worry! Charlie is FRIENDLY!” she called to me, all Tinkerbell and sunshine. I stood there, staring her down. “Please leash your dog” I said firmly. “Charlie won’t hurt you!” she called. Charlie, of course, decided that this was the moment he had been waiting for, and launched himself at me, full tilt, barreling down the pathway. I screamed at her “GET YOUR FUCKING DOG” and started backing down the trail, ready to UFC smack down her dog if it dared to come closer. “Charlie! Come here boy!” she said as she stood there, meters up the trail. Meanwhile, Charlie was leaping on me, trying to get at my dog, who was now screaming. I fell over, and she had to pull the dog off of me with both hands on his collar.

Did she apologize? Did she chastise the dog?


Instead, this is what she said.

“You know, you really didn’t need to swear like that! My dog just wanted to play with you.”

If there was a legal way that I could have decked her in the face, I would have. Redfaced and angry, I snapped “This is not an off-leash park. The signs indicate that your dog needs to be on a leash. Why isn’t your dog on a leash?”

“He needs his exercise” was her reply, and she took off down the trail saying “he’s never had a problem with anyone before.”


I wish this was the first time I’d heard this from someone. Or even the second time. It’s not. This happens to me several times a year, and the response is always the same: my dog is friendly, you have the problem, I don’t give a crap about rules, screw you if you disagree.

Is it me that has the problem? I decided to see what the City of Winnipeg had to say about leashes and parks:

Is there a by-law about my neighbours dog running around without a leash on?
The City of Winnipeg Pound By-law 2443/79 Section 20.(1)(a) states that no owner shall permit his dog to run at large.

What does run at large mean?
The City of Winnipeg Pound By-law 2443/79 Section 16. defines “at large” as being off the premises of the owner and not on a leash held by a person able to control the dog.  The leash shall be no longer than six (6) feet.

Can I let my dog run off leash in the school grounds if no one is around?
No – the City of Winnipeg Pound by-law 2443/79 Section 20.(1)(h) prohibits dogs on any school or playground, at anytime.

Why can’t I let my dog run without a leash?
The City of Winnipeg Pound By-law 2443/79 Section 20.(1) clearly states that as a dog owner you must keep your dog on a leash while off its property.  The leash cannot extend longer than 6 feet and the leash must be held by a person able to control the dog.

Letting your pet run loose puts them and the community in danger.  Every year hundreds of dogs and cats die in traffic accidents.  Motorists may be injured trying to avoid these animals. When allowed to run at large your pet can be killed or injury by another animals, they can ingest poison or come in harms way in numerous other ways.

A large playful dog may frighten seniors and children and can cause injury by jumping up on them.  Dogs and cats also create conditions for disease by ripping apart garbage and by soiling property.  A stray dog or cat also puts people at risk for rabies.

Pets that run free contribute to the already explosive pet population in Winnipeg.

Owners who fail to keep their dog or cat on a leash in Winnipeg are subject to fines of $200.00.

Remember, a leash keeps your dog where it wants to be – by your side.

And that, folks, is my point. Your dog, no matter how loving and playful he is with you, was bred to protect you. Everyone and everything else is a threat, and he will do what he can to minimize that threat, even with lethal force. He’s doing his job.

Your dog is a weapon.

Would you stand idly by if someone were to drive their 4×4 through the centre of the park towards a group of children?

Would you feel unsafe if I ran at you with a crossbow or shotgun from a stand of trees?

Then why is it alright for your dog to do so?

If I jumped on you, and tried to bite your face, wouldn’t you call the cops and have me charged with assault?

Why is it different for you and your dog?

It’s not. Leash the dog, or take it to the off-leash dog park.

The rest of society will thank you, and your dog will too.





Public School Fundraising = Bleeding Wallet + Unreal Expectations

Ah, the optimism of a newly-minted, first time kindergarten parent! Isn’t it refreshing? Blissful?


Seasoned parents (for fear of driving away fresh and enthusiastic blood to work the Dairy-Soy-Gluten-Peanut Free Hot Dog Day and monitor the playground in sub-zero weather) fail to disseminate vital information to the newcomers at the beginning of the school year. If the school were an olde-tyme internet chat room, the mid-September newsletter would read like this:

“N00Bs! U have been pwnd by the PAC Fundraising Committee!!111!! All UR wallets belong to us!”

Last night, I nearly wept as I pulled yet another fundraising catalog out of a dingy backpack, along with a PAC notice, which advised me that I was allowed to opt out of the fundraising for the 2010/11 school year.

For a minimum contribution of $100/child.

It is only the first week of October. *gnaws wrists*

If my math is correct, the school is trying to raise at least $50,000 this year, based on a minimum of $100 child, in a school with 500 children.


This means that each child is being asked to either provide money from the parents directly, allowing them to skip the plethora of inane fundraising projects, OR participate in the 5 + fundraisers through the year by selling products/asking for pledges.

God have mercy on your wallet if you have multiple children.

Since September 8, I have had money liberated from my bank account, via/for my children’s schools, as follows:

  • $35 for communal classroom art supplies
  • $65 registration fee
  • $35  for criminal record check so I can volunteer
  • $40 = runners x 2
  • $40 for school photos

“Whew! Glad that’s over!” I said to myself.

Then the fundraising-hell clusterfuck began.

The eldest child came home with a glossy, slick kit, enabling her to go door to door to sell over-priced magazines. The more magazines the kids sell, the more money the PAC gets to put towards their annual projects. That’s fine and dandy if you’re able to get Granny and Gramps to renew their National Geographic subscription from McMaddysonne so she can get credit for the sale. Or perhaps you’re one of those perky-types that brings the kit to work with you and guilts your co-workers into buying so that you leave them alone until the next fundraiser! But..what if you’re not? Now your kid, is left to go door to door (which is a potentially dangerous enterprise for a young child) or not participate. Never mind that really young students can’t really read or write to take the orders.

Now it’s your problem, Mama.

Then the next note came, about the Walk-A-Thon, with a pledge sheet, once again imploring my kid to harass the neighborhood for pledges.

Following that was a set of four Scholastic Book orders, imploring me to order books, so that funding can go towards buying books for the classroom.

By the time the PAC sent a note home to remind me that there were still a Read-A-Thon to pledge, a bake sale, a plant sale, a family dance and silent auction and a community breakfast to pay for, I was about ready to homeschool.

But wait! There’s more!

This morning the younger child arrived home  with an envelope full of wrapping paper swatches, a catalog,  yet another set of Scholastic order forms, and a note advising us that she (at the age of 3.5) needs to get in touch with her inner Iacocca. Yes, my preschooler needs to move ridiculous volumes of wrapping paper and ribbon by the 25th, so her preschool can afford a new kitchen. Her government funded preschool.

Therein lies the problem, folks…

The government.

We’ve let them off the hook. We allow them to continue to slash funding to our schools…to whittle it down to a stump  that barely passes for what was once a decent public education.  Whether it’s through apathy or lack of involvement on behalf of the parents, the province axes more and more programming every year and almost nobody bats an eyelash.

Shhhh. Listen!


There goes more and more funding.

Enter the fundraising machine.

School fundraising is a stop-gap measure, which allows the PAC to make up for the deficit left behind by the government termites. Every year, things need replacing. Improving. Renewal. That funding must come from somewhere. After all, who doesn’t love a new playground that isn’t a tetanus orgy, a field that isn’t filled with dog-dung land mines, or perhaps, the luxury of *gasp* library books?

While the mindset of the PAC is altruistic (supply needs of the classroom through fundraising) the necessity to do so is a sickening and pathetic statement of how little our elected representatives value public education.

Why do you hate fundraising so much, Tia?

  • Fundraising is a disservice to children in poorer socioeconomic neighbourhoods. Public education should provide all children with equal opportunity to learn, play and be safe at school. Fundraising creates tiers in this system, allowing children in more affluent neighbourhoods to raise more money, thereby having increased access to better equipment, field trips, books and educational tools. Less disposable income in a home means less fundraising dollars and parental buy-in, therefore less ability to improve the school beyond what the school board allocates.
  • Fundraising lets the Province off the hook. The more the PAC fundraises and provides amenities to the school, the less the government feels the need to kick in. Good luck trying to get it back once it’s gone, folks.
  • Fundraising masks the government’s failure to provide. If you are not active in school decision-making (and most are not) you will never know where the funding comes from, where it goes to, and how it is spent. Sitting in on even one PAC meeting each year will allow you to see just how much money went into PAC coffers, where it is being allocated, and just how little the government is actually kicking in for items like Smart-Boards and balls for the gymnasium.
  • Fundraising allows private corporations to profiteer off of young children. That company that has you and your child selling $100 subscriptions to Popular Mechanics? Is not doing it because they care about the community. They’re doing it because it’s an effective and brilliant sales strategy. What company doesn’t want thousands of young Canadians (and their parents) acting as unpaid sales and merchandising reps for them across the country? It’s a brilliant way to take your product to market with little overhead. Think about it. What a marketing strategy! Your kid goes door to door for their company, in the name of the school. The company hauls thousands of dollars per campaign. The school gets a few token bucks tossed their way. Child labor in Canada? Alive and well, thank you very much.
  • Fundraising places a strain on parents and caregivers financially. In an era where we’re already taxed to the hilt, paying through the nose for every aspect of our lives, and watching our standard of living slip into the abyss, the perpetual requests for handouts by the school add insult to injury. The pain of the hit to the wallet increases exponentially with every subsequent child. Woe to ye who dare to put your children in sports or music activities on top of this, for they too require fundraising and fees galore.

I for one would be glad to end the madness, and do away with the fundraising all together. Our time and energy would be much better spent being an active participant in holding the feet of our politicians to the fire, demanding better funding for our children, and protecting our families from additional stress and burden caused by excessive wallet bleeding.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to figure out how to sell 2 cases of Girl Guide Cookies by the end of the month, which is another story all together.

Yuan Good Turn Deserves Another

Sheesh. It’s about time.

China has finally walked the plank (or was prodded with sticks until they lept) and is now dog-paddling in the sea of flexible exchange rates. The word on the street?  China has decided it’s time to cease pegging the Yuan at artificially low rates against the US Dollar,  thereby allowing it to gradually rise over the course of time.

Well. That’s certainly special. What the heck does a free-styling Yuan potentially mean for Gord and Gordette McCanadiana?

The Financial Post has some thoughts(You may wish to pack some hip waders to slog through the jargon.)

Ever the vaguely conservative optimist, I see this move as a potentially magical “unicorns & sparkles” scenario for Canada.

  • We’re going to pay higher prices for our daily dose of imported, melamine spiked baby formula and sawdust enhanced dog food if it was made in a Chinese factory –> This should discourage some of the mindless purchasing of cheaply made import products that seem to saturate our market on every level, and encourage us to purchase domestic-made products.
  • Levels the export playing field, allowing us to send Canadian made products/materials off more competitively than they have been for years *The flagging BC forest sector does a happy dance *
  • Increase in export goods/materials = spin off jobs = spin off investments.
  • Canadian GDP continues its upswing trend as the rock star economy of ye olde G20.

Alternatively, everything goes to shit really quickly, and we’ll be watching interviews with the Four Horsemen of the Apocolypse on CNN by early 2012.

I’m going to roll my dice and put my marker on the first scenario. Blow on ’em for me, will ya?

Sipping Purple Kool-Aid with the Fraser Institute

Those whacky folks down at the Fraser Institute are at it again.

The Fraser Institute’s latest report is a shining beacon of vagueness and generalities, touting their usual stance that the holi polloi have been misguided, and led down the path to ruin and destruction by the evil anti-HST movement.

Amongst the vast piles of heifer-dust in the report, Gordo’s lapdogs assert the following points, ad nauseam:

  • HST will create financial gains for poorer families
  • HST does NOT shift the burden of tax onto the individual when it is taken off of corporations, because reductions in personal income tax will outweigh the at-the-till spending
  • HST is a fair and more effective manner of taxation than the existing PST system, which forces businesses to pass on costs to the consumer through reductions in rate of ROI/low wages/high pricing.
  • Precedent set by provinces which instituted HST taxation (NFLD/NS/NB) show that the competitive nature of the HST directly related to cost reductions in form of lower pricing. Sayeth Niels Veldhuis:

Our study explains why reductions in income taxes must be considered along side the increase in sales taxes in order to get an accurate picture of the impact of HST on British Columbians. Overall, the income tax reductions significantly mitigate the effect of the HST, in a relatively minor increase in the total tax bill for the average BC family.

They then go on to explain that the HST is a gentle tax on consumption, and that the government will use lube when they gently penetrate our collective wallets for a piddly $410M over the next 12 months.

If you just drink this tasty purple Kool-Aid, gentle citizen, you’ll see that the HST is good for you….

So, why is it then, that Stats Can is painting the HST as more of a violent financial raping, than a romantic encounter?

  • Stats Can’s HST analysis anticipates that the provincial government will be hauling in $1.5B over the next 12 months.
  • The Statistics Canada report allowed for increases to personal tax credit, tax rebates and incentives, costs to business.
  • The very people that the Fraser Institute claims will be least harmed  (low income/elderly etc.) are singled out in the Stats Can report as people who will be hit hardest.

Methinks that Ye Olde Fraser Institute is trying to get British Columbians to close their eyes, plug their noses, and open their mouths so they can cram a heapin’ helpin’ of HST flavoured cod swallop down our collective throats.  They are asking us to believe that after the miracle tax is initiated, retailers will leap about as in Wal*Mart commercials, slashing prices willy-nilly! Employers will toss extra money at us! What is good for corporations is good for all of us! The evil dragon of Personal Income Tax will be slayed! British Columbia will be a veritable utopia! Hurray for the wonderful world of trickle down theory! Whee!

I wonder why it is that I’m so hesitant to chug my Kool Aid?

The HST is wonderful… if you’re a large corporation. No more pesky PST tacking on 7% more than you’d pay in AB or other HST provinces! Decreases cost of machinery! Creates investments! Easier tax reporting! Yet, how often is something that favours big business going to benefit John and Jane Public?

The HST now lays a hefty weight on tax payers, because corporations are no longer going to be kicking in their portion. We are now tithing that missing chunk of dough. I fail to see evidence in the Fraser Institute report that actually depicts HOW the little guy is going to save these fabled truckloads of money. Exactly what kind of personal income tax cuts will we be enjoying so that we no longer feel violated when we’re forced to cough up an additional 7% out of pocket when eating out, getting our hair cut, paying the cable bill, jumping on a plane or buying a house? Who is going to ensure that employers – having realized substantial savings – show us the money? I’m skeptical that my ever rising grocery bill is suddenly going to take a dip because the grocer is feeling the love.

I’ll bet the government won’t even bother to use lube.