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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Climenhaga exposes more Wildrose Anti-Choice shenanigans

In a great post on his blog, Alberta Diary, David Climenhaga exposes more Wildrose shenanigans about abortion. Kevin Kinahan, former candidate in Lethbridge-West has been explicitly anti-choice in the past, calling for an end to funding abortion. Have a look at Climenhaga's excellent post here. My thanks to David for continuing to dig, even after the election is over.

Both Wildrose and the Federal Conservatives try to have it both ways on abortion, remaining anti-choice to thier base while pretending to be neutral or pro-choice to the rest of us. Here is yet another example. Like David, I wonder how long this page will stay on the internet? Any bets?

Friday, June 22, 2012

The delay of M-312: What does it mean?

In my ongoing series on what to expect while we’re expecting Motion 312, here is some more information, specifically about the delay in the second hour of debate and the vote. 

You will recall that the second hour of debate had been scheduled for June 7 with a vote for June 13. All indicators were that this motion was an embarrassment to the government and Mr. Woodworth’s attempt to re-open the abortion debate would fail miserably. In fact, a June 6, 2012 article in the Globe and Mail reported that a vote in favour of the motion would be considered a vote against the Prime Minister and Tory MPs were being urged to quash it.

That article had likely already gone to print on the night of June 5 when word came out very late that night that the vote was going to be delayed. The word was Mr. Woodworth was having a family medical emergency. In an email to supporters he explained that his mother was ill and added, “The new arrangement has personal benefit for me.”

The “personal benefit” he receives from the delay is that he gets the summer to lobby. According to Miriam Rycroft, Policy and Stakeholder Relations Officer with the NDP, Mr. Woodworth’s office is trying to book meetings with some of the male MP’s about M-312. The request for meetings states that he wants “to better educate his colleagues on the real issues within the bill.” He goes on to say that, “some issues have been distorted by the media and are not well understood.”

I think Canadians understand what’s going on with your motion just fine, Mr. Woodworth. Do I have to excerpt Gordon O’Connor’s speech against the motion in the House again?

Woodworth may be hoping to gain momentum from anti-choice activities happening over the summer. The fetus-mobile blood and guts road show isn’t winning any friends from what we can see, so I think this effort will fail.

The note that he is specifically approaching male MPs is telling. Apparently, as with his GOP brethren to the south, Mr. Woodworth thinks men are better able to think straight about women’s bodies.

But having said all that, the process undertaken to delay the motion seems a bit convoluted and needs a second look. Normal protocol would be that the House Leader’s office would deal with scheduling private member’s business. But this is not how it worked in this case. Mr. Woodworth swapped his motion with a Liberal to get the timing changed, which seems to indicate his request to delay the motion was turned down by the House Leader’s office already.

I have always found it mystifying that in spite of the Prime Minister’s insistence that he wants this issue buried, it lives on. I have wondered before on this blog if this means Mr. Harper slipping a bit in his control-fest. Did Woodworth do an end run around him by going to the Liberals for the switch? Possibly. But it is also entirely possible that the Conservatives are putting on another show and doing an end run around us, using another private member’s bill to appease their base on an issue that is not supported by the majority of Canadians. With the delay, they make the Christian right wing anti-choice base of the party happy, while at the same time being able to deny responsibility for the delay and the continued presence of this issue in the public. Good Game. Looked at from their side, this delay has a bright side both for the MP and the PM. But looked at from the pro-choice side and the side of the vast majority of Canadians who are pro-choice, every day this motion hangs around is another day for us to remind ourselves that this government is perfectly willing to put women's rights up for debate, to play politics with our health and our security, and raise the spectre of recriminalization.

The important thing to know is that the anti's haven’t given up on this. For the pro-choice side, this means we can’t get complacent. Continue to email your MPs and get petitions signed, knit wombs, and plan your actions. It’s not over.

Meanwhile, I'm still reeling from the Omnibus Budget Bill. Talk about shenanigans. I wouldn't put anything past this government. If you aren't already, follow ShitHarperDid on Facebook and search the hashtags #denounceharper and #blackoutspeakout on Twitter for more about the C-38, F-35s and other letter number combinations that will get your head spinning and make you wonder what kind of tin-pot dictatorship Canada is becoming thanks to Mr. Harper. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Misrepresenting Amy Tan and Misrepresenting Choice

I'm doing some research for an essay that is taking me to some strange places, like Andrea Mrozek's ProWomanProLife blog. I couldn't help noticing that Mrozek listed a quote from the wonderful writer Amy Tan on mothering. This is the content of the post for May 29:

"Amy Tan is the author of The Joy Luck Club among other books. I found this quote by her and rather liked it:
I love my daughter. She and I have shared my body. There is a part of her mind that is part of mine. But when she was born, she sprang from me like a slippery fish, and has been swimming away ever since.
'She and I have shared my body' is a lovely sentiment and a far cry from 'my body, my choice.'"

What Mrozek doesn't seem to know is Tan is pro-choice. Vehemently. I looked a round a little more and found this content from Tan's facebook page that couldn't be a much clearer pro-choice post. Tan wrote this after she was criticized for name calling some GOP candidates (and who among us hasn't done that?):

"To those who criticize my perversion of the GOP candidates' names, please know that name-calling is not my usual standard of response. Nor do I normally use expletives. But I make exceptions. Never in my lifetime have I seen such a line-up of candidates who want to pervert the lives of women, who want to f**k them over every which way they can think of. These perverts are men, and variously they are telling us that single women should not have sex, should not use contraceptives, should consider a baby conceived from a rape to be a blessing, and to leave all matters concerning their uterus to them. They say that contraceptives for women make it too easy for them to "do things." They do not offer the same opinions on men and their tendencies to "do things." Their rhetoric makes it sound like women are wanton spirits who must be controlled. I am a writer because I have strong opinions. Those opinions on women's rights come from my grandmother, who was raped, and my mother, who was raped at gunpoint by her husband, and who was jailed when she ran away from him. My mother told me as a child and a grownup, that no one should ever tell me whether I should have a baby. How could I be any other kind of writer, any other kind of person? How could I not protest the perversion of women's rights espouses by these candidates? The twisted names I give them may sound "hurtful" --as name-calling is. But the hurt they would give us would not be temporary slights, but permanent scars. This country is not divided because of Obama. It has been divided for a long time by the Republican Right who vote down the line on personal moral beliefs. They are out of touch with the the actual governance of this country and its relation to the larger world. Would these candidates cut off relations with China until China abolishes the one-child policy? I was born the daughter of a Baptist minister. I know how intractable religious beliefs are supposed to be, how by faith, you must carry those beliefs into the world, into all walks of life, without compromise, without listening to any other opinions. By that faith, you save who you can and smite who you can't. To these GOP candidates who want to rule government by the divine guidance of their cocks, study the pages of history on the Inquisition and the Holocaust, and keep your hands off me, my nieces, my sisters, my women friends, their daughters and their daughters to come."

Holy tirade. Go Ms. Tan.

In this case, Mrozek demonstrates one of the fundamental misunderstandings that anti-choicers have of the pro-choice movement. We in the pro-choice movement support a woman's right to control her own fertility AND we love our children, think poetically and beautifully about them, and still say, "My body, My choice." In fact, I mean it even more (if that is possible) when I think about my daughter's body and how important it is for me that her body be her choice. I can be pro-choice, and love my family all at once.

The word "shared" in the Tan quote used by Mrozek is an important one. Share, as a verb, means to allow someone to use or enjoy something that one possesses. Sharing is done willingly. If not, it's not sharing. If I'm forced to give something of mine to someone else, it means someone who has power over me has oppressed me. If by body is not given willingly and voluntarily, it is appropriated, conquered, seized or stolen. You can only share your body if you do it by choice.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Democracy is as Dead as Monty Python's Parrot

Today, I wish to register a complaint. Democracy is dead. I know a dead democracy when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now. It's not stunned. It's not pining for the Fjords, it's not just tired and shagged out after a long squawk. It's dead. It has been nailed to it's perch since Harper got away with proroguing Parliament. Twice. But now there is no denying it really is dead, like the Norwegian Blue Parrot of Monty Python fame. It has ceased to be. Gone to meet its maker. Joined the choir invisible. 

Apparently, in Harper's world, democracy takes too long. He warned us we wouldn't recognize Canada when he was finished with it, and he was right.  As the Hamilton Spectator said, he treats Parliament as an inconvenience. It is more efficient to attach 400 pages to a five page budget bill that don't have anything to do with a budget because everything can be done at once. Amend or kill 70 Acts. End Fair Wages. End environmental assessment. Let the minister approve Gateway without it. Or with it. Why bother even doing an environmental assessment since the Minister now has the power to approve projects like Gateway no matter what the studies say?

The smarmy Andrew Scheer couldn't push back. As Speaker, he agreed to limit the time for votes on amendments and group the amendments. And Canadians could not find 13 brave CON MPs to stand for Canada and stand against this sham. Afraid to be made an example of like the hapless David Wilks, they towed the line for Steve, but not for us. They pulled a fast one on us. They got C-38 over with quick before Canadians woke up and smelled the stench of democracy rotting.

I've been concerned about what is happening to dissent and democracy in Canada for years. Recently, we've seen the Harper government muzzle scientists who want to talk about climate change. Even when they had a minority government, their efforts to control the message were clear. They have made the collection of data needed to write and refine public policy difficult by ending the long form census. Munir Sheikh, former head of Statistics Canada, resigned his post over Harper's decision to do this. He would have had to put up or shut up, and he couldn't do either. To me, he is a hero. Another high profile dissenter against the Harper agenda was Linda Keen. Remember her? She was dismissed as head honcho at Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. when she refused to authorize the restarting of the aging Chalk River reactor because of safety concerns. The Harper government both kills the message and the messenger.  

Yesterday, while the Ominousbus Bill was being considered, news broke that Parks Canada employees had been sent emails warning them not to criticize the government. C-38 included massive cuts to Parks Canada, including cuts to ecological researchers and cultural and historical experts. One Parks employee had referred to the cuts as a lobotomy of the Parks system. I wonder if the fellow who said this still has a job. It has been made clear that criticism of the government would be considered disloyal to the government. Disloyal. Words like that scare the heck out of me. This is a word used in dictatorship. In a Democracy, we would call criticism free speech, or maybe even just "criticism."

Maybe next we'll have American style attempts to ban climate change action and limit information about the negative impacts of climate change offered to us on the already cow-towing CBC. I've been shocked by the lack of critical coverage of C-38 from CBC. With their knees knocked out from under them by Harper's funding cuts, I guess they've learned the lesson. Don't bite the hand that feeds you.

But the thing is, it isn't Harper's hand who feeds them. My hands feed them, and yours. And I want CBC fed. I want the scientists fed and I want their dinner conversation too. I want reports from the parks from ecological researchers that can help me understand my world, not faded, dumbed down interpretive sign posts. I want real experts willing to share detailed knowledge. I want to know. But in C-38, any chance I have of knowing what's going on and influencing what's going on gets hit again. We might as well just turn the whole kit and kaboodle over the the Koch brothers now. That would really save time.

A local progressive paper, FFWD, has just completed a survey naming Stephen Harper as Calgary's best villain and most embarrassing citizen. The same survey ranked him third in the "claim to shame" category, but that was done before C-38. I'm sure he'd make the top of the list now.

Democracy, like the Norwegian blue parrot, has ceased to be. It is nailed to its perch, and the salesman, Harper, pretends it is alive. But we know a dead parrot when we see one.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Responding to the Crapavan

Our friend Joyce Arthur at Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada and I just wrote a piece about responding to the newest crazy tactic of the anti-choicers. They've taken the fetus mobile onto the TransCanada, away from its usual home in Calgary and maybe to a city near you.

Have a look at the article here, and consider it today's blog post.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

M-312 showdown on the Hill

According to the Globe and Mail today, a vote for Motion 312 is a vote against the PM. Harsh words. What will the simpering fetus fetishists do? Will they risk the ire of the PM and a permanent place in the backbenches? Or will they fight for the fetuses? It will be a while until we know since despite the PM's assurances that he wants this issue gone, the next hour of debate and the vote are delayed, likely until the fall. This would seem to me to be quite a contradictory message. Maybe the all-controlling Harper is slipping a bit?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Motion M 312 debate and vote delayed

I'm not too sure what the story is yet, but it looks like the second hour of debate and the vote for M-312 are going to be delayed until the fall. ARCC and the Radical Handmaids seem to have the word on this. Check their websites for more.

We can only hope it's because the CONs decided to use the time to debate the Omnibus Bill. Ha! Good one. I crack myself up sometimes.  Honestly, why do I not have my own television show?

Seriously, it will give us time to focus on the dreaded budget Omnibus Bill, so go to BlackoutSpeakout and make some noise.