It’s a report that could change the way that homeless people are treated in Canada. Funded by the federal government, “At Home/Chez Soi” is the largest study of its kind, with five years of research conducted in five major cities. It’s estimated that more than 150,000 people are homeless across the country, costing Canadians $1.4 billion each year.
The report suggests putting homeless people in housing, even before they have dealt with other problems such as mental illness and addiction, works to improve their lives. And it saves money.
I recall once that Stephen Harper believed in championing religious freedom. Except for people he doesn’t like.
Now he’s appealing a federal court ruling allowing people to exercise their religious freedom by becoming citizens while not publicly removing their niqab.
But why, you ask?
Because Canada is transparent, open, equal and just. And Stephen Harper is our leader, so he too is transparent, open, equal and just.
Except he’s not. At all. He’s a racist and a hypocrite. Read on!
“I believe, and I think most Canadians believe that it is — it is offensive that someone would hide their identity at the very moment where they are committing to join the Canadian family,” he said.
“This is a society that is transparent, open and where people are equal, and that is just, I think we find that offensive; that is not acceptable to Canadians and we will proceed with action on that.”
Ishaq, a Pakistani national and devout Sunni Muslim, says her religious beliefs obligate her to wear a niqab. She has said while she has no problem unveiling herself in private so that an official can confirm her identity, she draws the line at unveiling herself at a public citizenship ceremony.
The “precariat” are precarious proletariats. We have too many of them; but fewer in Denmark!
Let’s follow their lead!
What Danish fast food workers have that their American counterparts do not is a powerful union, and fast food franchise owners who are willing to make a little less of a profit, though they still do make a profit. Denmark is also a much smaller country, with a higher cost of living and a huge social safety net. And yes, a fast food burger is a little more expensive in Denmark than here in America.
Martin Drescher, the general manager of HMSHost Denmark, the airport restaurants operator, told the Times: “We have to acknowledge it’s more expensive to operate. But we can still make money out of it — and McDonald’s does, too. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be in Denmark.”
He also said: “The company doesn’t get as much profit, but the profit is shared a little differently. We don’t want there to be a big difference between the richest and poorest, because poor people would just get really poor. We don’t want people living on the streets. If that happens, we consider that we as a society have failed.”
You participate in a sex crime if you search for or look at revenge porn.
It is really that simple.
A Richmond, B.C., woman hopes her story of having nude photos leaked online will foster laws to protect women against cyberbullying.
Anisa Salmi was working at her desk when she got the call from a friend: Did you see what was posted about you online?
When the 27-year-old typed her name into Google she saw intimate photos of her posted online on The Dirty, a U.S. website known to feature photos of men and women and comments about them.
“It was horrifying. I just felt like my life was over,” said Salmi. “I felt violated.”
She would have liked to pursue the matter in civil court, but the lawyers she spoke with told her it would cost up to $30,000.
Salmi says she’s gotten a lot of support from other women since she posted her open letter online.
“A lot of my friends came up to me and said they were put in the same position,” she said.
She says she identifies with the plight of actor Jennifer Lawrence who recently spoke out against the unauthorized online sharing of photos of her and of other celebrities that were stolen off servers, calling it a “sex crime.”
“As a woman I understand how vulnerable and how horrifying it feels to have your private life on display and for people to judge you and shame you for it,” Anisa said.
Mine are all about seeking equality and justice: economically, socially, politically and environmentally.
Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals is an inspiring classic. Some agree with it, some disagree. Some paint it as the template of Obama tactics [hardly, but still, you should also read this bit below written just after Obama’s first inauguration] and some paint it as wholly insufficient. You can read some key excerpts from it here. Then you’ll need to ponder what you think about ideals and pragmatism.
Beyond that, see #1 above. That’s what I’ve got from distilling 2.5 years of thinking about Occupy. Can you express what you think about, and want for, Occupy Vancouver in one sentence? That’s a good exercise for tomorrow night!
Alinsky’s Rules: Must Reading In Obama Era By PHYLLIS SCHLAFLY | Posted Monday, February 02, 2009 4:20 PM PT
Immediately after the Democratic National Convention in Colorado, the Boston Globe published a letter from David Alinsky. He boasted about how Barack Obama had made effective use of his training in the methods of David’s late father, the famous Chicago radical, Saul Alinsky.
David Alinsky gloated: “I am proud to see that my father’s model for organizing is being applied successfully beyond local community organizing to affect the Democratic campaign in 2008. It is a fine tribute to Saul Alinsky as we approach his 100th birthday.”
What was Saul Alinsky’s model that Barack Obama used so successfully to defeat the Clinton machine plus the Republican Party in a dramatic one-two punch never before seen in politics?
What is known today as “the Alinsky ideology and Alinsky concepts of mass organization for power” are fully set forth in Alinsky’s 1971 book, “Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals.”
Alinsky’s worldview was that mankind is divided into three parts: “the haves, the have-nots and the have-a-little, want mores.” His purpose was to teach the have-nots how to take power and money away from the haves by creating mass organizations to seize power, and he admitted “this means revolution.”
He wanted a radical change of America’s social and economic structure, and he planned to achieve that through creating public discontent and moral confusion. Alinsky developed strategies to achieve power through mass organization, and organizing was his word for revolution.
He wanted to move the U.S. from capitalism to socialism, where the means of production would be owned by all the people (i.e., the government). A believer in economic determinism, he viewed unemployment, disease, crime and bigotry as byproducts of capitalism. “Change” was Alinsky’s favorite word, used on page after page. “I will argue,” he wrote, “that man’s hopes lie in the acceptance of the great law of change.”
Alinsky used what he called “general concepts of change” to move us toward “a science of revolution.”
What he called change meant an alteration of our socioeconomic structure; what he called organizing meant pursuing confrontational political tactics.
Alinsky taught the have-nots to “hate the establishment of the haves” because they have “power, money, food, security and luxury.” He claimed that “justice, morality, law and order are mere words used by the haves to justify and secure their status quo.”
Alinsky didn’t ignore traditional moral standards or dismiss them as unnecessary. He was more devious; he taught his followers that “moral rationalization is indispensable at all times of action whether to justify the selection or the use of ends or means.”
To achieve his goals, he sought local community organizers who projected confidence and vision as well as change. Barack Obama fit the profile.
Alinsky didn’t want just talkers. He wanted radicals who were prepared to take bold action to organize the discontented, precipitate crises, grab power and transform society. He taught his organizers how to infiltrate existing institutions such as churches, unions and political parties, gain influence in them and introduce change.
The qualities Alinsky looked for in a good organizer were ego (“reaching for the highest level for which man can reach — to create, to be a ‘great creator,’ to play God”), curiosity (raising “questions that agitate, that break through the accepted pattern”), irreverence (“nothing is sacred”; “detests dogma, defies any finite definition of morality”), a sense of humor (“the most potent weapons known to mankind are satire and ridicule”) and a personality with confidence in presenting the right reason for his actions only “as a moral rationalization after the right end has been achieved.”
The organizer must “rub raw the resentments of the people of the community, fan the latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt expression. . . . stir up dissatisfaction and discontent.”
Alinsky trained his community organizers to adopt a “middle-class identity” and familiarity with their “values and problems.” After achieving “the priceless value of his middle-class experience,” he will “begin to dissect and examine that way of life as he never has before.”
Alinsky’s trainees are instructed to return to the suburban scene of the middle class with its variety of organizations, from PTAs to League of Women Voters, consumer groups, churches and clubs. Alinsky boasted: “With rare exceptions, our activists and radicals are products of and rebels against our middle-class society. . . . Our rebels have contemptuously rejected the values and way of life of the middle class.”
Put “Rules for Radicals” on your must-read list if you want to understand much of contemporary politics.
It’s nothing new, but when can media just stop. Maybe when it’s no longer profitable? We need a revolution in media by boycotting all venues that perpetuate the women-as-sex-meat theme. Here’s what’s new, this time with Eugenie Bouchard and Cate Blanchett.
Values, discrimination, the Swedish way: all these ideas are in the mix as stakeholders of IKEA’s treatment of workers express how they feel about IKEA’s plan to break its union in Richmond, BC.
We’ve been writing about this new front line in Canada’s war against workers for months now. But the members of Teamsters Local 213 have been living it.
This is the Christmas season. If you intend to buy anything IKEA-ish in Richmond, Coquitlam, elsewhere in Canada or around the world, spend some time finding another vendor then tweet or Facebook IKEA letting them know you’re part of the boycott because of their horrible labour practices. [UPDATE: they deleted my post on their Facebook page. Did they delete yours too? You may need to post it again. And again, and over and over. Hint hint.]
The provincial government has finally relented in its dignity-crushing stance of continuing to allow a developer to pursue building condos on top of a Musqueam burial ground. And while this change of provincial policy does not extend to a solution of land ownership, this is a critical first step to see the provincial government is not blatantly racist. I guess that’s a kind of win for them too. Though, a sad one.
News of this change of heart came out around 4pm today. A Friday. And any Aaron Sorkin devotee knows that’s when the government takes out the trash: releases news they don’t want the media to run with since few people follow the news leading into the weekend, all because it’s bad news, or embarrassing or otherwise something they’d rather hide, but can’t.
There’s no way we’ve missed the idea that instead of Friday afternoon, they could have released this news, say, on Monday morning at 9am to capitalize on all the press it would receive, except they’d look like people who have just learned that they are being racist when they keep saying, “I’m not a racist, but…”.
But even more stunning is the “outrage” that the developer feels about being shafted by the provincial government because they are no longer free to develop their private [sic] property. Now, before you read this hilarious, irony-free quote, please remember that around 95% of BC is unceded traditional First Nations land, covered by no treaty and not gained through conquest:
“In effect they have expropriated the property without compensation and bascially said you can’t do anything with that property and we are not doing anything to compensate you for that and I think every owner of private property in BC should be very concerned about that.”
The phrase in bold is my emphasis. I want you to now re-read that sentence, but replace the words in bold with First Nation in this land. Because that is exactly what has happened in this majestic province of the Queen of Canada for centuries. Ten bonus points to Shane Woodford for noting this fantastic quote which epitomizes the systemic racism or ignorance that so often surrounds “Canada’s” relationship with the first peoples.
So I ask this in all seriousness: do the owners [sic] of this property honestly not understand the colonial history of BC?
Their punishing ignorance should be an embarrassment. But I fear they are beyond shame.
Now we move forward to address why the Musqueam were legally barred from purchasing their burial site decades ago [hint: racism] so that we can seek a solution which restores dignity to those buried there, and to our settler society that has been a party to this shameful abuse of a burial ground.
Earlier today, the Vancouver Mayor’s office posted an announcement on twitter that quite a few people were likely happy to hear: the proposed bylaw that would have charged people in Vancouver $200 plus a $1000 deposit to have a protest where a literature table or even a sign stuck in the ground was being sent back “to the drawing board.”
In the linked news article, Mayor Gregor Robertson posits that there ought not be fees attached to the right to have a protest with a sign, and that a better ‘balance’ can be found.
Sounds good, so far, right?
Well, a whole new bylaw is supposed to come back from the city by Wednesday. And it will be telling how much will change – that will tell us what’s more important to Vision Vancouver.
If you go back to my original piece on this issue, you’ll see that there were a ton of restrictions that the city wanted to place on protests with structures. They could only be up from 8am to 8pm. Only in certain parts of the city. (That particular restriction would have effectively completely banned the original protest that gave rise to all of this, the Falun Gong protest on southern Granville Street outside the Chinese consulate). The restrictions went on and on and on.
Effectively, it looked like getting the right to protest would have been almost as complicated as a building permit. All to have a tent. Or a sign stuck in the ground.
Well, Gregor’s promised a new bylaw. With a new balance, a new approach.
Will it still have onerous restrictions, but drop the fees? Will it still ban night-time vigils? Restrict tents to keep off the rain to 2m by 1m in size? Only one side of a block, to a maximum of 30 out of 60 days? It’s quite possible.
I have a perhaps modest proposal – the bylaw could be quite simple. Protests are permitted, as is our constitutional right. And if a protest does construct a structure that is somehow or in some way dangerous to public safety, the city can attend the site, and tell the protest organizers what needs to be done to fix the risk.
At a lot of protests, there are rally marshals. They organize the route. Keep people from getting lost. There’s often a police liaison who speaks with the police. Treat protest in Vancouver this way. Fix the problems as they arise, not create so many hoops that people outraged at the most recent stupid thing their government has done risk financial ruin or jail time because they didn’t fill out the 24th form or submit an architectural drawing of the folding table they’re putting the sound-system on.
But what’s more important in this respect: keeping the Falun Gong practitioners out of Kerrisdale, appeasing the Chinese consulate, Vision Vancouver saving face, or free speech?
As I said before, democracy doesn’t have a price tag. But it also doesn’t happen only between 8am to 8pm, one side of a block, and only 30 out of 60 days.
In sort of a break from the ever-so-boring federal election coverage that we’ve been bringing you lately, the City of Vancouver and its maybe-progressive governing party Vision Vancouver and former NDP MLA and now VanCity mayor (and Gordon Campbell endorser) Gregor Robertson have (almost) decided that any protests that have a literature table, tent, or even sign at them might well be charged $1,200 – a fee charged to citizens in order to exercise their (supposedly) constitutionally guaranteed right to assembly.
Sadly, it looks like the progressive Mayor Gregor Robertson is showing us what a Harper majority government would probably do to our “democratic rights.”
The country that has disappeared Ai Weiwei (艾未未) simply because he did try to exercise his (not guaranteed) free speech.
First, a bit of history. Those of you familiar with the city on the edge of Lotus Land may well remember the constant presence of Falun Gong protestors and their signs depicting the horrendous atrocities the Chinese government visits upon practitioners outside the Chinese consulate in Vancouver, which itself is situated in a residential zone. No one, as far as I am aware, is suggesting that the Falun Gong protest was violent or unruly. In fact, most Falun Gong practitioners I’ve known are calm, and quiet, and they almost, well, flow with the qi.
Well, one day the city decided to ban these protestors. They used a bylaw to prohibit any “structure” (the Falun Gong signs) on public property (the edge of the sidewalk) and evict the entirely peaceful protesters. Sue Zhang, one of the organizers, rightfully challenged the bylaw in court, and after a series of cases, the BC Court of Appeal struck down the bylaw, saying that blanket prohibitions were unconstitutionally restrictive on free speech rights and rights of assembly.
That being said, there’s a court order in place at the moment, preventing the Falun Gong protest from re-establishing itself, to allow the City to bring its bylaw to shape in order to pass constitutional muster. Effective April 19, the court would strike down the current law which bans any structure.
Let’s put this in plain and simple terms: charging $1,200 to have a table, or a sign, or a tent at a protest limits free speech. It restricts freedom of assembly to those who can afford it. There should not be a fee on democracy.
This is a ridiculous concept. One, a lot of protests and rallies involve a table for literature or refreshments. $1,200 permit charge. Two, a lot of protests and rallies involve a tent to keep rain off of speakers and sound system equipment. $1,200 permit charge. And it rains a lot in Vancouver. If you happen to stick a sign into the ground, $1,200 charge. Imagine that you put up an installation art piece. $1,200 permit charge.
The Falun Gong protestors set up a series of signs and a rain shelter on city property directly outside the Chinese Consulate. They couldn’t put the signs on the consulate property – that would be trespassing. They used public property for their signs. The same public property we use every day to walk on, to protest on, to rally on. However, they put up signs. Here, the city is trying to ban protests that occur on public property unless you can afford to pay a $1,200 fee for a permit to actually hold a protest this way.
The City won’t tell anyone what they discussed with China, bastion of free speech, because they signed a “confidential agreement” about the consultations.
The city says that this wouldn’t restrict sandwich boards for stores. That’s covered under other bylaws. In fact, according to the city, this proposed bylaw only impacts “non-commercial installations.” So, not only do I need to pay one thousand two hundred dollars to put up a table and show off my “PROTECT FREE SPEECH” signs – the store down the way can put up its signs and/or kiosks hawking whatever it wants for free?
Whose free speech is being protected there?
The message box emerging from Vancouver council appears to be as such: currently, the city bylaw bans all structures on public property. No tables, tents, or structures used in a political protest are allowed under the current Vancouver bylaw. According to the city, the proposed bylaw would actually enable people to do things that have been illegal all along. Gracious move by the city to save us?
No. The BC Court of Appeal said that the prohibition was illegal and it will strike down the prohibition as of April 19. This talking point will be moot in exactly 11 days. It’s also incredibly disingenuous. Yes, the current (as it exists) bylaw bans ALL structures on city property. But yes – the BC Court of Appeal has said that’s illegal. So, Council, you’re not rescuing people from the vagaries of an unfair law – the BC Court of Appeal has already done that.
Could the same be said on April 2oth? Effective April 19, the bylaw that currently prohibits all structures is struck down, it ceases to exist. All structures would be legal. The Vision Vancouver councillors can get away with saying that this is a proposed bylaw that would enable people to protest, that would legalize protest, until April 19th. After that, they’re making a lot of protest illegal. Of course, any time you add opportunities when no opportunities legally exist, you’re adding. But when everything’s legal? Then you’re restricting.
Instead, the City of Vancouver is proposing that the following restrictions will apply to any protest that need a table, or a tent, or a free-standing sign:
Structures would only be permitted from 8:00AM to 8:00PM
There must be people attending the structure
Structures would not be permitted in areas of the city that are zoned residential or that have residential units on the ground floor
There could only be one permit per individual at a time.
There could only be one permit per ‘face’ (side) of a block.
You wouldn’t be able to get a permit for a kiosk and a sign and a tent.
Your permit would only be valid for 30 days, but you could only get a permit for an area for 30 out of 60 days. So, only one month out of every two. And once a protest has been permitted the same area couldn’t see a protest for another 30 days.
The size could not be larger than 2.1 meters high, 2 meters wide, and 1 meter deep.
It must be at least 5 meters from a building entry or exit, 5 meters from a bus stop, 5 meters from street corners, and 0.5 meters from a curb. A structure could not also cover more than 25% of the front of a building.
Interestingly, the area in which the Chinese consulate is located is in a residential area, so, of course, no protests with structures would be permitted there. Anywhere else where you can meet these proposed restrictions (that the City of Vancouver would likely prefer us to read as “enabling conditions”) you can:
Put down a $1,000 deposit
Pay a $200 license fee
Pay $25 for any renewals
And then you can put your sign in the ground.
The staff person presenting the report at the council committee meeting was very specific in saying that this wouldn’t prohibit protests where everyone held their own signs and banners, of course. This is because the city only bans structures at the moment, and this is what the court case centres on – Vancouver can’t constitutionally put a blanket ban on structures used for political expression. I also think that this restriction is in danger of being ableist – I’ve seen people with disabilities bringing signs and banners that are free-standing to protests. Do they need permits?
But what exactly is a structure? There was an interesting back and forth between Councillor Woodsworth and the city staff person presenting the report.
Q: Is it a structure if I stick a sign in the ground?
Q: What if I put a table on the side of the road and set up a tent around it?
In Vancouver, it rains. And most protests in Vancouver I’ve been to have a tent in case of that, to keep the sound system dry. $1,200 fee, only in certain areas. Plus, no bigger than 2m by 1m. You also won’t be able to set up a petition table at the back of the protest, without that fee and that permit. And only in certain areas.
One, that’s a pretty close interpretation of the COPE campaign during the Olympics that had t-shirts that read “I am a free speech zone.” Nice move, Vision Vancouver.
Two, Vision’s statement is kind of sad. It states that Vancouver is a free speech zone. Right, it is, under the constitution anywhere in Canada is. The statement says that the City is working to protect free speech, and that the party “will not accept changes to the law that restrict these critical social expressions.”
Here’s a key point, Vision Vancouver: no changes to the bylaw could restrict free speech any more than they already do. This is part of your message box – the bylaw right now simply prohibits structures as part of a protest, full stop. That’s why the Court of Appeal said it was unconstitutional. Very technically speaking, any changes you make – even if it were to only permit structures on the south east corner of the Art Gallery lot with a $1 million permit fee – would have the effect of “enabling” free speech MORE than is already the case.
With the logic that they won’t restrict free speech any more than it is already restricted, Vision could do a lot, seeing as how free speech with any structures are completely banned at the moment – until April 19.
Would the same logic hold up after that, when the law is struck down by the courts? Hard to say.
But again – charging $1,200 for any protest that would need a table isn’t democracy. Democracy doesn’t require an admissions charge.
Councillor Reimer and I had quite a civilized twitter chat, though she suggests that there’s a lot of misinformation and creative editing going on. I’ve given you sources for every claim I’ve made in this piece, and while all opinion pieces contain flair, I don’t think I’m going overboard. Ms Reimer even graciously acknowledged that her electioneering tent was on the street and 100% illegal.
I’ve offered Ms Reimer the opportunity to add comments, corrections, and even her own viewpoint on this article, which I will post directly at the bottom of this piece , without any editing. I’d invite any other Vancouver councillor to do the same, so that everyone in Vancouver can see what their elected representatives are thinking.
Now, Vision Vancouver is asking for public input on the proposed bylaw. I suggest that we all take the moment to send them an email with our thoughts, or send them a twitter message. According to their statement, you can email them at email@example.com.
When you do so, remember:
The official message is that any changes to the bylaws would be an improvement, because the current bylaw (which is unconstitutional) prohibits all structures. However, the quasi-emancipatory changes proposed by the City include a $1,200 fee for permission to have a structure – anything from a sign in the ground to a table to a tent – at a protest. Democracy doesn’t have an admissions fee.
All structures for political protests would be perfectly legal after April 19th – after April 19th, these proposed bylaw changes would be restricting speech that had been made free by the courts.
These restrictions only apply to non-commercial messages, because other bylaws already permit commercial (ie advertising, etc.) signs under specific conditions.
No function of democracy should have a price tag attached to it or restrictions as to when or where democracy can be practiced.
This isn’t just a municipal issue. It’s our right to free speech, with a table for our signs and petitions, or a tent for the rain.
Democracy doesn’t have a price tag. Certainly not one that is $1,200.
Here’s where I’ll add any corrections, clarifications, or comments from any Vancouver City Councillor who wants to clear up any ‘misinformation’ or ‘creative editing,’ and I’ll post them without any editing on my part. Post your comments in the comments below, or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
De-Spinning the Political and Re-Spinning it for Social, Economic and Political Justice