Monday, April 30

In Memory of Bertha Wilson - First Female Supreme Court Judge

“She was right there at the defining moment,” said University of Toronto law professor Brenda Cossman. “She was absolutely foundational to the emergence of Canadian Charter culture. Being the first woman to do anything is a tough role to fill. You have to be kind of exceptional - and she was. She was an incredibly influential judge.”

Had Bertha Wilson meekly followed the patriarchal advice handed down to her when she inquired about doing a law degree in the mid-1950s, the Canadian judicial system might have looked very different today. "Madam, we have no room here for dilettantes. Why don't you just go home and take up crocheting," Horace E. Read, the dean of the law school at Dalhousie University barked at her when the minister's wife and former school teacher appeared before him, seeking admission to the school in the fall of 1954.

What Bertha gave us:

  • Her landmark cases included one in which she created the so-called battered woman's defence for women who had killed abusive partners (R v Lavallee). In another landmark case - R v Singh - she wrote that refugee claimants must be given proper oral hearings.
  • She displayed a fierce, uncompromising streak of independence; becoming known in some quarters as ‘the great dissenter.'
  • “She was an imaginative judge who saw the underlying purpose of the Charter as being to protect groups that had been disadvantaged. She called it like an umpire - the way she saw it.”
  • Her most famous words were probably penned in the Henry Morgentaler abortion case. While the majority reasons in the Morgentaler judgment were relatively narrow and technical, Judge Wilson wrote a concurring judgment that went well beyond her colleagues in asserting a woman's right to be free of state interference.
    “It is not just a medical decision,” Judge Wilson wrote. “It is a profound social and ethical one as well. It asserts that the woman's capacity to reproduce is to be subject not to her control, but to that of the state.”
  • In her abortion ruling she also said, "This decision is one that will have profound psychological, economic and social consequences for the pregnant woman." She added, "It is probably impossible for a man to respond, even imaginatively, to such a dilemma."
  • “She had tremendous compassion, and she could peel the onion as well as anyone I have ever known in terms of analyzing issues. In my view, her bench had the hardest job, because they had to give shape to the content of the Charter in moving forward. The first attempt at anything is the toughest.”
  • She believed that the Charter ought to be read as containing social and economic rights, such as a right to welfare or housing.
  • The conservative group REAL Women of Canada complained to the Canadian Judicial Council, saying Wilson had a feminist bias. The complaint was thrown out.

Bertha Wilson was born in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, on Sept. 18, 1923. She died of Alzheimer's Disease at Rideau Place on-the-River on April 28, 2007. She was 83. She is survived by John Wilson, her husband of 61 years, her brother James and two nephews. There will be a memorial service in Ottawa at 2:00 p.m. on May 8, 2007 at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church (Wellington and Kent Streets).

LINK: Globe and Mail
LINK: CBC video on her appointment

Biography of Dorise Nielsen wins 4 Manitoba book awards

A biography of pioneering feminist and socialist Dorise Nielsen has won four awards, including book of the year, at the Manitoba Writing and Publishing Awards.

A Great Restlessness: The Life and Politics of Dorise Nielsen is the first book by Faith Johnston, a former Ottawa teacher.

It documents the remarkable life of Nielsen, a homesteader's wife who struggled through the Depression in rural Saskatchewan, began working against poverty with the CCF and became the first Communist elected to the House of Commons in 1940. She moved to Mao's China in 1957, and watched communism there take an ugly turn.

So why has Dorise Nielsen been largely forgotten, although the names of her political allies, including Tim Buck and Jacob Penner, crop up in histories of war-time Canada? I think it is because she was a difficult woman who espoused a difficult cause. She turned her back on Canada. She is just too ornery to celebrate.

LINK: Dorise Nielsen
LINK: A Fascinating Yet Forgotten Feminist

Sunday, April 29

Why Sexist Language Matters

Gendered words and phrases like "you guys" may seem small compared to issues like violence against women, but changing our language is an easy way to begin overcoming gender inequality.

For years I've been teaching a sociology course at the University of North Carolina on gender inequality. I cover such topics as the wage gap, the "second shift" (of housework and childcare) that heterosexual women often do in the home, the "third shift" (women's responsibility for intimate relationships with men), compulsory heterosexuality, the equation of women's worth with physical attractiveness, the sexualizing of women in the media, lack of reproductive rights for women (especially poor women), sexual harassment and men's violence against women.

What I've left off the list is the issue that both women and men in my classes have the most trouble understanding -- or, as I see it, share a strong unwillingness to understand -- sexist language.

I'm not referring to such words as "bitch," "whore" and "slut." What I focus on instead are words that students consider just fine: male (so-called) generics.

Read entire article at AlterNet (see link below) and on the second page there are a number of reader comments that both agree and disagree with the premise of the article which was originally printed in the Center Line, a newsletter of the Orange County Rape Crisis Center.

LINK: AlterNet - Why Sexist Language Matters
LINK: YouAll

Nix the headline grabbing media fiction designed to divide women.

A strange duality affects the news media today. The more that women advance in the worlds of business, academia, medicine, and law, the gloomier news about women and their achievements becomes. As statistics report the rise in the number of women obtaining college and advanced degrees, the media increasingly tells them that this is a terrible mistake and that only by returning to traditional roles of wife and mother can women find true happiness. This message, often based on specious “scientific” studies and reports, gets played over and over again in televised newscasts, print newspapers, the internet, and other media outlets purporting to be objective.

Caryl Rivers has been tracking major media narratives over the past decade for her new book, “Selling Anxiety: How the News Media Scare Women.” (Book due out April 2007)

Some Media Myths About Women

So what's wrong with stories that are wrapped in a veneer of “research,” badly skewed science, and that overhype or misinterpret findings?

Here’s why that matters: if journalism repeatedly frames and/or reports the wrong problem, then the folks who make public policy may very well deliver the wrong solution

LINK: Common Dreams
LINK: She Writes Like She Talks
LINK: Send a message to CBS, NBC, and ABC know it's time to move beyond the false rhetoric of the 'Mommy Wars,'

Does a Judge's Gender Matter?

Authors Moin A. Yahya and James Stribopoulos conclude that it does. Here is the abstract of their article:

In this study, an examination of the busiest appellate court in Canada, the Court of Appeal for Ontario.

This study collects data on the votes cast by individual judges on that court in every reported decision between 1990 and 2003. Each case was coded by type, for example “criminal law”, “constitutional law”, or “private law”. In addition, the votes cast by individual judges in each category were tracked based on variables such as the type of litigant, the political party that appointed the judge, and the judge’s gender.

This study reveals that, at least in certain categories of cases, both party of appointment and gender are statistically significant in explaining case outcomes. Between these two variables, gender actually appears to be the stronger determinant of outcome in certain types of cases. While these findings are cause for concern, this study also points toward a simple solution. Diversity in the composition of appeal panels both from the standpoint of gender and party of appointment dampened the statistical influence of either variable. In other words, in the case of gender, a single judge on a panel who is of the opposite sex from the others, or in the case of political party, a single judge appointed by a different political party, is sufficient to eliminate the potential distorting influence of either variable. This finding suggests a need to reform how appeal panels are currently assembled in order to ensure political and gender diversity, so as to minimize concerns about the potential for bias.

LINK: "Does a Judge's Party of Appointment or Gender Matter to Case Outcomes? An Empirical Study of the Court of Appeal for Ontario (Canada)" Download it here.
LINK: Feminist Law Professors

Election Primer: Platform for a New Canada

In the absence of a radical program to campaign around for the upcoming federal election, Canadian Dimension suggests one.

Feminists and social justice activists should take note of Sam Gindin's "Idea For Popular Assemblies" wherein he poses two questions:

Can popular, community-based assemblies, which would bring various movements together into a democratic and permanent structure, become the first step toward building a larger project?Are popular assemblies the way to link these local structures into social forces of regional and national significance?

Gindin challenges the notion of “mobilizing” which "ignores (and is often even threatened by) building the kind of popular understandings, political capacities and organizational forms that can actually win substantive reforms, let alone change the world. "

Other Campaign Articles:
12-Step Program to Combat Climate Change
Canada and World Order After the Wreckage
An Energy Security Program for Canada
A Democratic Tax Reform for Canada
Toward a New Policy Paradigm for First Peoples
Ideas for Popular Assemblies

No mystery to Harper's unpopularity

At the risk of angering the acolytes of conventional wisdom, it's time someone pointed out the obvious: Maybe Stephen Harper isn't so damn smart after all.

Captivated.....Remarkably, it's not just the Conservative caucus who seem captivated. Media and political observers describe Harper with a blend of terror and admiration previously reserved for cinematic bogeyman Keyser Soze. Even members of the opposition parties sermonize on Harper's shrewd, strategic brilliance.

There is plenty of evidence that Harper's political strategy is crude, over-calculated and fundamentally schizophrenic. One thing more: It's not working.

  • First, he isn't remotely likeable. That, alone, isn't necessarily fatal. Pierre Trudeau, for example, was loathed by whole chunks of the electorate.
  • Second, he champions policies that most Canadians oppose. He's extended our stay in Kandahar, walked away from Kyoto......torn up 10 provincial agreements to expand child-care spaces.....
  • Finally, his political strategy is at war with itself. are shunned as a hindrance, an unwelcome filter of the government's message....He exploits (sic) people's prejudices, this can be a particularly unsophisticated brand of politics. It preys on fear and appeals to the least, rather than the best, in human nature. It also assumes that voters are dumb – that simple, selfish gimmicks will attract support. Much of what you see from this government is built around these principles.

LINK: The Toronto Star

Cosmetic Surgery and the Televisual Makeover

Cressida Heyes has a problem with reality shows like Extreme Makeover, and she's letting people know about it.

Heyes, a philosophy professor at the University of Alberta, was recently published in the journal Feminist Media Studies' March issue. Her article, "Cosmetic Surgery and the Televisual Makeover," examines the premise behind makeover shows, and she has a book coming out soon with Oxford University Press called Self Transformations.

Heyes believes shows like the now-defunct Extreme Makeover and The Swan, where participants undergo myriad cosmetic procedures to emerge shiny and new, are not just about helping someone feel good.

Dr. Wayne Perron, a plastic surgeon who's worked in Calgary for 25 years, says he's definitely seen an increase in demand. Although Canada does not track its own statistics, Perron says we mirror the U.S.

At the end of March, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) released figures showing nearly 11 million cosmetic plastic surgery procedures were performed in the U.S. in 2006, up seven per cent from 2005. Minimally invasive procedures like Botox and laser hair removal jumped eight per cent to more than 9.1 million procedures in 2006.

LINK: Vancouver Sun
LINK: Cosmetic Surgery and the Televisual Makeover
LINK: Cressida Heyes - more papers

Even Nellie McClung had to start somewhere.

The writer and pioneer legislator, who was a Liberal MLA in Edmonton in the 1920s, remains a role model for many Canadian women considering running for office.

Eighty years later, generations of women in this country have participated in the political arena.

But in Nova Scotia, the relatively low number of female legislators in all three levels of government has been seen by most people as a persistent disappointment. To that end, the provincial government is preparing to host its third non-partisan "campaign school" for prospective candidates who are women.

The program, which will run at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax next month, aims to demystify the political process for future candidates, a release this week said. The school runs May 25 to 27.

Thirty spots are available to women on a first-come, first-served basis, the release said. Organizers hope "to attract women from rural and urban communities, and diverse backgrounds," it said.

Registration forms are available by clicking on the What’s New! link on the Status of Women website at, or by calling 1-800-565-8662.

LINK: The Chronicle Herald
LINK: Cartoon Credit - DeAdder

Friday, April 27

Iqaluit activist Watt-Cloutier wins UN award

Environmental activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier of Iqaluit has been chosen as the recipient of a United Nations lifetime achievement award for human development.

Watt-Cloutier, the 53-year-old former chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council and a current Nobel Peace Prize nominee, will receive the 2007 Mahbub ul Haq Award for Outstanding Contributions to Human Development. She will receive the award in New York City on June 20.

In February, she was nominated along with former U.S. vice-president Al Gore for the Nobel Peace Prize.

LINK: Sheila Watt-Cloutier
LINK: Sheila Watt-Cloutier Speeches
LINK: CBC News Story

Mainstream Media - It's more than a woman thing

A feminist dream team is doing its best to get more women's views into the news. Old friends Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda visited the Sun-Times Wednesday as new business partners in the New York-based Women's Media Center. They want to serve as a resource for journalists, they said, and influence the coverage of issues critical to women.

They shared their opinions on:

  • The Middle East. "The only groups in Israel and Palestine that are talking are women's groups," Steinem said.
  • The possibility of a military draft. "There is a draft," said Steinem. "There's a poverty draft, an education draft, a green card draft."
  • Presidential candidates. "It's interesting that women who support Hillary Clinton think that she can't win, and black men who support Barack Obama think that he can't win," Steinem said.
  • Newspapers that publish upbeat "women's news." "It's called, 'Why don't you smile, honey?' " Steinem joked.
  • Don Imus. There were no black women with a radio forum to vent their outrage, they noted.
  • Immigration -- which, for some reason, is viewed as a male issue, while sex trafficking is perceived as a female event, Steinem said.

    They don't want to silence men. The Women's Media Center is an effort to make sure women are more accurately represented, president Carol Jenkins said. Women should be "as powerful in the media as they are in real life," she said.

    LINK: Chicago Times

Thursday, April 26

Masculinist takes direct aim at "feminist radicals "

A landmark legal case started Monday 23rd April at 10.00 am in the British Columbia Supreme Court when our Fathers Rights Activist Ken Wiebe went to trial in his legal suit against "radical feminists" within Status of Women Canada and the Federal Minister responsible for SWC. The trial is expected to take two weeks.

Wiebe is going after the main author of the report ( entitled "School Success by Gender: A Catalyst for the Masculinist Discourse), Pierrette Bouchard who is a professor in the education department at Université Laval.

Bouchard was surprised at what she found on the masculinists web sites like

"At first, I thought, Well, these are just a few small fringe groups, it's not important. But eventually, I found that there were more of them than I thought and that they had a large network on the Internet, through which they are disseminating their views. That does bother me. It was very surprising."In conducting this research, we found attacks on feminists on a lot of sites. We were only reflecting what we saw on their sites."

"There is no question that I have very little patience for feminists, especially the radical variety of feminism here in Canada," Ken Weibe told the National Post. "But I have a wife, I have daughters. This notion that because we are opposed to the feminists' political agenda, that that somehow equates to a dislike of women, is just propaganda. That's some kind of smear campaign."

Abortion Rights and Abortion Fights

Canada's abortion battle legally ended in 1988 when the Supreme Court ruled that women had dominion over their own bodies. Abortion became a woman's choice. But ever since, the provincial anti-abortionists have continued their mean, small-time work by targeting working-class women. Thus, the problem for Canadian women is not abortion rights, it is access to abortion. And New Brunswick has become a tragedy in this respect.

LINK: Rabble: Heather Mallick

Women's Advocacy Gets Parliament Committee Nod

On April 17, 2007, the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women released its seventeenth report, urging the federal government to support advocacy groups that address the challenges women face, particularly in regards to economic insecurity and poverty.

Supporting and promoting women’s equality, working towards the fullparticipation of women in Canadian society and addressing the issues ofviolence towards women and girls were also identified as areas requiring funding.


Gender inequality is a global system

At Radcliffe recently, Catharine A. MacKinnon could just as well have called her lecture “Are Women Human?” That’s the provocative title of her latest book, a collection of essays published last year by The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

In case you wondered, the answer to that question is no — perhaps to be expected in a book that includes an essay titled “Rape as Nationbuilding.”

In legal terms, women are not human, according to MacKinnon, who discovered that fact while parsing the language of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The 1948 United Nations document defines what a human is, and what people are universally entitled to — but fails to explicitly recognize women, and their “full human status in social reality,” said MacKinnon.

Being human first requires being “real to power,” she said, and women are not. While most states explicitly guarantee women sexual equality, the reality — filtered through cultural norms — is often quite different. Women have status, but not a real place in statehood.

Why? “The state is of and by men and usually for them,” said MacKinnon. “Gender inequality is a global system.”

Who Is Catharine A. MacKinnon ?

  • In the 1970s, MacKinnon, who has both a law degree and a doctorate in political science from Yale, successfully used federal Title VII law to argue that sexual harassment is sex discrimination, an interpretation that made her famous, and turned employment law on its ear.
  • In the 1980s, MacKinnon — who represented “Deep Throat” star Linda Lovelace (Linda Susan Boreman) — used civil rights law as an argument against pornography, inspiring strict new obscenity laws in Canada and a U.S. debate still alive today. (MacKinnon’s unyielding stand that pornography is a form of sex discrimination earned her the enmity of many censorship critics as well as a coterie of self-described “sex-positive feminists.”)
  • In the 1990s, she started legal work on behalf of international clients, including Bosnian and Croatian women who had been systematically raped during wartime by Serb forces. The resulting U.S. court case in 2000 won a $745 million settlement for the women, and was the first to recognize rape as an act of genocide.

LINK: Harvard University Gazette

Feminism Equals Activism

The leadership at Egale Canada will be getting a kickstart when local activist Helen Kennedy takes over as executive director on Mon, Apr 30.

"It's a permanent position," says Kennedy. "I'm the first woman [to hold the top position at Egale], which is also very exciting. It's a great opportunity.

"I want to advocate. I am an activist and a lifelong feminist. I believe all equal rights issues are feminist and all true feminists are activists for equal rights."

LINK: Read entire article at

60 Reasons to Dump Harper - Continued brings us a countdown of 60 of the ways Harper is reshaping Canada in his own image. Since our last post:

REDUXReason #56 bemoaned Darrel Reid's appointment to Rona Ambrose's office. He only lasted four months, we reminded you. But what's much scarier is Reid's promotion: he's now in the PMO acting as the prime minister's deputy director of policy and research.

Reid headed up Focus On The Family Canada from 1998 to 2004, an ideologically anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-abortion group with connections to the leaders of the US Christian right. Though the Canadian organization has traditionally enjoyed little influence outside of rural enclaves and evangelical churches, the US parent is seen as a major influence on the Republican Party and politics generally. Reid was gone by late January, meaning he lasted four months or less.

The prime minister of this country has the former leader of a reactionary religious group as his deputy director of policy and research. That's right. It's time to move to Norway.

LINK: Cartoon credit - Mike Keefe

Virginia Tech, Gendered Violence, & Mainstream Media

Another school shooting, and the mainstream media compounds the damage by continuing to ignore women.The shooter had a past of terrorizing women. This current gunman had a history of stalking women. Of taking "illicit pictures" of them with his cellphone under desks. Of writing about rape for class. Who reportedly (but this is rarely included in the news stories) riled against women in his "suicide note." Who went to kill a woman he was either involved or obsessed with. She died first.

We call these events "unimaginable," "unthinkable," and "unspeakable."

As such horrors happen time and again, it's time to start imagining, thinking and speaking why these things are happening -- or they will continue to.

My most pained sympathies to everyone at Virginia Tech.

YouTube film by Radical Feminist

Tuesday, April 24

Mass Murderers and Women: What We're Still Not Getting About Virginia Tech

Excerpts from Mother Jones : Evidence shows that many mass murderers begin and end their rampages with violence against women. With over 30 dead in Virginia, can we finally begin to take the issue seriously?

Of all the lessons contained in the horror at Virginia Tech, the one least likely to be learned has to do with the deadly danger posed by the dismissive way we still view violence against women.

  • The first person killed by Cho Seung-Ho, a freshman named Emily Hilscher, was initially rumored to be Cho's current or former girlfriend – the subject of his obsession or jealous rage. Australia's Daily Telegraph published a photo of a smiling Hilscher with the line "THIS is the face of the girl who may have sparked the worst school shooting in US history." (The page is still up.)

  • Virginia Tech President Charles Steger said authorities believed the first shooting was a "domestic dispute" and thought the gunman had fled the campus, so "We had no reason to suspect any other incident was going to occur." The assumption, apparently, is that men who kill their cheating girlfriends are criminals, but they are not crazy, not psychopaths, and not a danger to anyone other than the woman in question.

  • In another high-profile case, the December 1989 mass shooting at Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique, Marc Lepine was after women, whom he hated, and had a list of feminists he wanted to kill. He murdered four men and 14 women, and wounded 10 more women.

  • In September 2006, Duane Roger Morrison walked into Platte Canyon High School in Bailey, Colo., and took six female students hostage, killing one

  • Last October, Charles Carl Roberts IV took over an Amish schoolhouse, let the boys go, and killed five girls.

Monday, April 23

Women on Reserves - Canada's Most Vulnerable Group

Native women living on reserves have fewer rights than women in most countries - let alone the same rights as other women in Canada. Every woman in Canada, whether they are Canadian citizens or not, have clearly defined rights when it comes to matrimonial property such as the family home. First Nations women living on reserves do not. Provincial laws govern how such property is divided after death or marital separation, but they do not apply to land on reserves, which come under federal jurisdiction. ...

The Native Women's Association of Canada first brought the problem to the attention of the federal government 20 years ago. The lack of property rights and the chronic housing shortages on reserves force women to make heartrending choices - to remain in abusive relationships or build a new life off reserve. Women who married into another band have to apply for membership, and there's no guarantee they will be allowed back in.

The Department of Indian Affairs is now studying the final report from recent consultations by the federal government on this issue.

The Native Women's Association ... do not want the government to impose a process that is inconsistent with Native traditions - the rights of spouses to a fair share of the family home must be balanced with the collective rights of First Nations. Currently, western practices use an adversarial approach to solving marital disputes. The Native Women's Association views this method as foreign to Aboriginal culture. They advocate the development of policies and laws in partnership with Aboriginal communities to ensure that they are meaningful. ...

- Excerpt, column by Chairperson Ginette Petitpas-Taylor, Times & Transcript, April 12, 2007

LINK: Native Women's Association
LINK: MRP - Matrimonial Real Property

Behind the Pay Gap

Pay gap exists as early as one year out of college,says new U.S. research report

New research released in April 2007 by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation shows that just one year out of college, women working full time already earn less than their male colleagues, even when they work in the same field. Ten years after graduation, the pay gap widens.

The report also includes other findings:

  • Women who attended highly selective colleges earn less than men from either highly or moderately selective colleges and about the same as men from minimally selective colleges.
  • Ten years after graduation, women are more likely than men to complete some graduate education.
  • Men and women remain segregated by college major, with women making up 79 percent of education majors and men making up 82 percent of engineering majors. This segregation is found in the workplace as well, where women make up 74 percent of the education field and men make up 84 percent of the engineering and architecture fields.

    LINK: American Association of University Women Educational Foundation

Sunday, April 22

The F-Word; No labels please

Negative connotations associated with the word feminist aren't new.

Back in 1913, author Rebecca West said: "People call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or prostitute."

"It's become the f-word," said Susanne Luhmann, head of the Women's Studies Program at Thorneloe University, part of Laurentian. "It's largely negative." It hasn't always been this bad.

When Luhmann was growing up in 1978, a golden time for second wave feminists, it was a "cool thing to be involved with." Feminists were thought of as interesting women.

Luhmann has noticed this generation is not keen to take on labels. Labels cut two ways: They give us a sense of identity, but at the same time they constrict, she said.

Personally, Luhmann doesn't think it's necessary to take on the label of feminist so long as the person is willing do the work and take on the values

These excerpts were taken from a three-part series on teens and feminism featurede in the Sudbury Star:

  • Part One, April 5: Teens reaction to the f-word. What is it? Where women are in terms of equality?
  • Part Two, April 12: No label please. University/college women talk about why the label of feminist is a difficult one to embrace, but also the gender issues that are important to them. A women's study professor and sociologist wade in on whether labels like feminist are needed.
  • Part Three, today: Third Wavers at work in arts and culture. We profile a young author on blogs and her new book and explore why feminism is still needed.

Poster - It's like dialing 911 and being put on hold..

This poster was distributed on Parliament Hill today - Earth Day - by the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition.

Speakers included Elizabeth May, Green Party, Paul Dewar, NDP, Stephen Hazell, Sierra Club, and representatives of Climate Action Network, Sierra Youth Coalition, ACT for the Earth, Native Women's Association of Canada, National Union of Public and General Employees, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and more.

Link: CYCC

Mother "Earth Day" Tribute to Ecofeminists

Ecofeminists argue that a relationship exists between the oppression of women and the degradation of nature, and explore the intersectionality between sexism, the domination of nature, racism, speciesism, and other characteristics of social inequality.

A central tenet in ecofeminism states that male ownership of land has led to a dominator culture (patriarchy), manifesting itself in food export, over-grazing, the tragedy of the commons, exploitation of people, and an abusive land ethic, in which animals and land are valued only as economic resources.

Noteworthy Ecofeminists:

Facts About Earth Day:

  • It's been 37 years since Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator, and former governor of Wisconsin, witnessed the culmination of his seven-year campaign to put the environment to the political front burner in the era of the Vietnam War, civil rights and feminism
  • On April 22, 1970, an estimated 20 million people across the country demonstrated, held teach-ins and celebrated Earth Day in some fashion.
  • Over the years, participation in Earth Day waned. By 1994, it was estimated that fewer than 1 million participated in Earth Day activities nationwide.

LINK: CUPW Bulletin - Earth Day 2007

Countdown - 60 Reasons To Dump Harper Continued

 brings us a countdown of 60 of the ways Harper is reshaping Canada in his own image. Since our last post:


Picture a Miss Manners school for so cons, run by everyone's favourite Reformer, Preston Manning. In Feb 2006, a few weeks after Stephen Harper plucked up enough seats to form a minority government, newly elected MPs and their aids gathered at an Ottawa Holiday Inn for a lesson in "diplomacy".

Don't abandon your beliefs but you must appear non-threatening, Manning told the recruits. It's a message the Conservatives have taken to heart. You can let God direct the public agenda, he advocated, but don't appear that God is directing your political work.

The theme of the workshop was "a sheep among wolves", but the staff is sure it's the other way around. Apparently, Manning went off his notes and stumbled into some claptrap about how us gays choose our lifestyle after a bad hetero relationship sours us. That's bad — but his gaffe highlights the message he was trying to send the newly faithful: keep your mouth shut and just do it.


Prime Minister Stephen Harper's latest controversy is not over policy, but over make-up. That's because Harper and his aides are refusing to say who foots the bill for his personal stylist, CBC make-up vet Michelle Muntean.

In the grander scheme, it hardly matters if the taxpayers are paying for Muntean's services. An argument could be made that, as embarrassing as it is, Harper represents the public face of the nation to foreign leaders and the press.

So why won't they say whose name is on the top of Muntean's cheques? It's part of the classic Harper double standard. He wanted access to all the details of Liberal spending when he was in opposition, but he's been one of the most tight-lipped prime ministers in recent memory. If there's nothing to hide, don't be so mum, Harper.

LINK: Cartoon credit - Cam Cardow

Saturday, April 21

Housework - feminism's uncrossed frontier

According to a recent NBER survey of women and men in Europe and the US housework is divided equally (give or take ten minutes) between the sexes!!

Researcher Philippe Wiel says that the reason women feel they have less spare time than men is because they sleep more??

This US/Euro information differs from a 2005 time-use survey that showed that Canadian women did on average 4.3 hrs/day of unpaid household work, versus 2.5 hrs/day for men


  • Who the heck is America's "National Bureau of Economic Research" and why do they scare me?
  • Could the recent NBER survey be a retaliation to an earlier study in the UK that said employed women living with their employed partner actually spend more time doing housework than single women?
  • If men shared housework equally would they build a robot to perform housework for them? Like a robot that could pour you a cuppa and even wash the cup afterwards (video here)
  • Where's Roll-Oh (the 1940 World Fair robot ) today? 67 years later and all I got was a robot vacuum!

Conservative child care report troubling

On April 10, while the House of Commons wasn’t sitting, the Harper Conservative government quietly released a report addressing the gap between the supply and demand for high quality child care.

A Ministerial Advisory Committee to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Report appointed last summer had long finished its work, but the government was sitting on its report.

The release was likely spurred by Freedom of Information requests filed by the NDP, Code Blue for Child Care and journalists. The government only unveiled the report after the federal budget had been introduced, too late for the recommendations to have much impact this year.

But beware, some of the report’s flawed recommendations could still form part of the defective policy of a Conservative government fundamentally opposed to the sound social programs that Canadians want.

Despite acknowledging the urgent demand for quality early learning and child care documented in countless previous studies and reports, the Committee didn’t make any recommendations that would strengthen or expand a child care system.

Here are some of the more troubling recommendations:

  • Despite concluding that businesses are not keen on opening child care centres, the report still includes a long list of incentives encouraging businesses to create child care spaces. One plan is to establish a fund, managed by an arm's-length agency, that gives money to eligible employers to open child care spaces. This is poor public policy. Local, provincial, and federal governments must be at the centre of work to design a child care system if we are to end the current patchwork of care. Giving employers incentives has failed in other provinces. For more on this see Code Blue’s analysis of the intiative.
  • Another set of recommendations ignores the need for government investment and accountability in developing a system, instead relying on individual tax measures and work accommodations. This approach was condemned by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in a recent report that put Canada on the bottom of the heap when it comes to investing in child care. The report chastised countries like Canada that promote “choice for parents” to “hide a service patchwork”, and rely on the market to fill in the gaps.
  • The report completely sidesteps a central issue, the human resources crisis in early learning and child care. Quality child care depends on well-paid, qualified staff. Without a policy framework and considerable investment that can address this human resources dilemma, early learning and child care professionals are leaving the field and fewer are entering the profession.

While this report has been ignored for the 2007 budget, its foundation is consistent with the Conservative government’s backwards approach on child care, leading to the desperate predicament of Canadian families and communities who are still waiting for a national system of early learning and child care.


60 reasons to dump Harper - continued

# 41 North American Union Planned....But Quietly

Dozens of regulations are being quietly altered to help integrate Canada with our neighbors to the south. The problem is, almost no one knows about it and no one has been consulted.

Up for grabs is the Canadian energy grid, Canadian drug laws and federal food regulations. At a 2006 meeting in Banff, public safety minister Stockwell Day and defence minister Gordon O'Connor met with Donald Rumsfeld and other military, political and business elite to discuss how to open the Canada-US and US-Mexico borders.

Notes obtained through US freedom of information laws outlines participants' fears that further integration, similar to that of the European Union, would not be well received by the citizens. Their solution? Integration by stealth, with the harmonization of food, drug, transportation and energy regulations — which do not require parliamentary approval — as the first steps.

Who says that Harper is hamstrung by his minority government? brings us a countdown of 60 of the ways Harper is reshaping Canada in his own image. Since our last post:

  • #42 $22 Billion, Unspent, Used To Pay Down The Debt
  • #43 Harper Rails Against Judges Who Strike Anti-Gay Laws
  • #44 Mandatory Sentencing Catches Anal Sex Law
  • #45 CBC Kaput After Harper Majority

  • LINK:

    YWCA to open new Iqaluit chapter

    Lyda Fuller came to Iqaluit with a cheque, and also rekindled long-standing hopes that a shelter for homeless women will one day exist in the capital.

    YWCA will start its second chapter north of 60.

    "The YW in Yellowknife was started 40 years ago and we've been the only YW north of 60," Fuller told reporters. "I'm just so excited we'll have a compatriot in the North."

    Fuller said the YWCA is doing a feasibility study to determine the best way to set up a shelter for homeless women in Iqaluit. There's been no decision on whether that would involve renovating an existing building or starting from scratch, but Fuller said she'd like to see a 20-bed shelter open by the fall.

    "We've been canvassing the community for what might be out there," she said.
    Between 100 and 150 women are homeless in Iqaluit, according to the Qullit Status of Women Council. Others estimate the number is double that estimate.

    "The capital community is a magnet community for women coming in from the smaller communities, so right now we'll concentrate our efforts on Iqaluit but we've been talking with the status of women council," Fuller said. "So we're getting a good idea of how the issues extend out into the communities."

    LINK: Nunatsiaq News

    Friday, April 20

    Help get Bill C303 passed. Take action today.

    Bill C303, the Early Learning and Child Care Act, is a private member's bill that will help build a real child care system.

    A parliamentary committee starts studying the bill April 24th. We need your help right now to convince committee members to approve this legislation.

    Please contact committee members today by phone, email or fax.

    A sample letter and full committee contact list is available at Please copy on your correspondence so that we can keep track of the numbers of letters sent.

    Bill C303 passed Second Reading in the House of Commons with the support of all three opposition parties. It is now going to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA) for review. If all three opposition parties continue to support this important legislation, the bill will move forward to the House of Commons for final consideration.

    Screaming about Alberta's compassionate care leave

    Last month a Sacramento, California amusement park added a ride called the Screamer. This thing takes riders 168 feet in the air, spins them, and then drops them face-first towards the ground at 65 miles an hour.

    Talk about a scream. The funny thing, though, is that riders are forbidden from screaming on the screamer. In fact, they are warned that any noise from them will mean they are pulled from the ride. The Screamer riders are told by park employees to muffle their shrieks by placing their hands firmly over their mouths. One teenage rider interviewed at the park stated the obvious: “Don't have a ride called ‘Sky Screamer’ if you can't scream while you're in the air.”

    The Screamer on which you cannot scream is a little bit like Compassionate Care Leave in Alberta, which is not a leave and is anything but compassionate. Compassionate Care Leave is defined by federal law as “the provision of care to a gravely ill or dying spouse or common-law partner, child or parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, in-law, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, foster parent, ward, guardian or a gravely ill person who considers the claimant to be like a family member, who has a significant risk of death within 26 weeks.”

    • Three years ago the federal government changed the Employment Insurance (EI) rules to provide people with 6 weeks of EI in order to provide care to a terminally ill relative. Every Canadian province except Alberta has changed their labour laws to protect the jobs of the people who take this leave. You read that right: in every Canadian province, if you take time off work to care for your dying spouse, parent, or child your job is protected. Except in Alberta.
    • In Alberta, notes employment law specialist Yosie Saint-Cyr, the editor at, those “employees who request leave to care for an ailing family member ... will not have job protection, meaning employers will not be obliged to keep their jobs or reinstate them after their leave ends.”
    • Study after study shows that around two-thirds of these caregivers are women. Women are more likely to be the care receivers and more likely to be the caregivers. There is, in the words of Prairie Women's Health Centre of Excellence, a “differential impact” on women.

    LINK: Read complete article at Vue weekly

    Thursday, April 19

    The Real Cost of Harper's Phony Child Care Cheques

    World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) should turn its attention to an instance of improper use of a domain name: the Harper government’s shameless appropriation of the domain name

    Calling what the Conservatives are doing “universal childcare” is like calling Mike Harris’ landlords’ bill of rights “the Tenant Protection Act”.

    It’s a cruel joke on Canadian parents who are desperate to find quality, affordable care for their children – both to allow them to work and to foster the early development of their children.

    That said, even on its own terms – as a straight up payment of $3.28 a day to parents of young children – the Harperites’ cheques for children scheme is a huge failure.

    LINK: Entire article at Echo Weekly
    LINK: Dolighan cartoons

    Majority of lowest earners in hotel sector are immigrants, women, visible minorities with little chance of job advancement

    When Linette Brown began working as a housekeeper at a Toronto hotel in 1973, she earned 95 cents an hour, rent for her two-bedroom apartment in North York was $250 a month and a TTC token cost a quarter.

    Now, in her early 60s, she makes $15 an hour as a maintenance worker at the same hotel.

    But while her income's gone up, so has the cost of living, and Brown says she considers herself just as impoverished now as back then, paying more for her apartment, transportation and other expenses.

    After three decades in the industry, Brown laments "I'm still `working poor,' like most other hotel workers."
    According to a report to be released today by the union-led Task Force on the Toronto Hotel Industry, Brown has lots of company. Of the 30,000 people who work in Greater Toronto hotels, 70 per cent are immigrants.

    To a large degree, poverty in the industry is segmented along race and gender lines. Among its lowest earners, room attendants and laundry workers, 93 per cent are immigrants; 82 per cent are visible minorities; and 80 per cent are women.

    The report recommends:

    • Setting up a city-wide training centre using negotiated contributions from hotel chains and governments.
    • Measures that provide flexible working hours, personal days, workplace child care and extended parental leave and benefits.
    • Affordable housing, child care and transit initiatives, and subsidized transit passes like those offered at the Fairmont Royal York, Starwood and Hilton hotels.
    • Equity programs to eliminate "job ghettos" based on race and gender, to give marginalized groups more advancement opportunities.
    • Extending the right to union representation for hotel workers.

    LINK: Complete story at the Toronto Star

    Striking women occupy First Ontario credit union

    Striking First Ontario Credit Union workers have no regrets after they occupied the company's east Mountain branch and padlocked the doors to try to get the financial institution back to the bargaining table.

    Hamilton police smashed the glass on a door to gain entry to the Queensdale and Upper Sherman Avenue branch to end the occupation an hour after it began at 3 p.m. yesterday.

    About 70 members of Local 343 of the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union (COPE) have been on strike for six months over such issues as sick pay, benefits and language protecting full-time positions. Negotiators from the two sides met Tuesday but there was no resolution.

    "It was worthwhile because we've raised public awareness," said Barb Rowell, chief steward for the negotiating committee, shortly after she and a dozen other protesters left the premises at about 5 p.m. after being spoken to by police.

    "We've made our members realize we are very serious about this. We will not leave any stone unturned to end this labour dispute successfully."

    LINK: Hamilton Spectator

    Photo: Golden Women’s Resource Centre get funds

    KOOTENAY-COLUMBIA MP Jim Abbott presented the Golden Women’s Resource Centre with a cheque on April 11, the first installment of the $50,000 from the Status of Women Canada. The funding will be used for a unique 18-month project titled ‘Putting Women on the Payroll: Overcoming the challenges in rural B.C. to improve women’s economic status in our community. On hand for Abbotts visit were board members Ellen Zimmerman (far left), Kuya Minogue, administrator Laurie Dalzell, Outreach worker Sara Davis, board member Carmen Gustafson, Safe Homes co-ordinator Karen Wilson and board member Saskia Acton.

    LINK: BCNG Portal

    Charest’s gender-balanced cabinet breaks new ground

    Premier Jean Charest presented a slimmed-down, 18-member cabinet that is split 50-50 between men and women — believed to be a first in North America.

    Charest noted his new lineup is “one of the smallest” Quebec cabinets in modern times. Before the election, the Charest cabinet counted 26 ministers, including the premier.

    Francoise David of Quebec solidaire and a noted feminist, said she believes that to be true, and while other countries such as Finland, have a majority of women ministers, the composition of the Charest cabinet is “an important advance.”

    “Another bit of good news is the first black woman,” in a Quebec cabinet, David added.
    But David also noted that the percentage of women MNAs actually went down after the 2007 election to 25 per cent, from 30 per cent in the 2003 race.

    LINK: NatPost

    Wednesday, April 18

    Dion vows to restore court challenges program

    Liberal leader Stéphane Dion says he will reverse the Conservatives' pattern of "antagonism and neglect" toward Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    It's Equality Day in Canada - the 25th anniversary of the Charter coming into force - and Dion says it's hard not to notice that Conservatives don't seem to be celebrating.

    Dion told a Charter conference at the University of Ottawa this morning that a Liberal government would restore the Law Commission of Canada and double the old funding of the Court Challenges program, which were both dedicated to making the Charter and the judicial system accessible to citizens but were cut since Prime Minister Stephen Harper came to power.

    Harper was invited to the same conference, but cited scheduling difficulties and none of his cabinet members appeared either.

    The Conservative government cut off funding last fall for the court challenges program and the law reform commission, a think tank that explored ways to improve the law.

    Sunday, April 15

    60 Reasons to dump Harper - Continued


    At least two recent announcements by the Harper government are designed to keep women at home.

    The first was the 2007 budget, which disproportionately rewards married couples where one partner earns most or all of the income. These breaks shift the trade-off for women who are already at home in the direction of staying there — and even rewards partners who work part time for quitting to stay at home.

    The second is the $1200 child care benefit for children under six. While doing virtually nothing for those moms who work — where can you find child care for $25 a week? — the plan was a hit with those already staying at home with their kids. When it won nearly universal approval from ultra-con so-called family values leaders last fall, one had to wonder what they were actually applauding: tax breaks or social engineering?

    Starting on April fool's day (not an accident) and for the next two months, brings you a countdown of 60 of the ways Harper is reshaping Canada in his own image. Here are numbers 47 to 50 that we have missed since our last post:


    LINK: Aislin (cartoon credit)
    LINK: Xtra

    Saturday, April 14

    June Callwood dies at 82

    Callwood blazed trails for women's rights, gay rights and the rights of the underprivileged in a history of activism dating back to the 1960s.

    LINK: F-email Fightback feature - June Callwood's last interview
    LINK: CBC - Obituary

    In her 70s, with her children grown, Ms. Callwood took up gliding. For her 80th birthday in 2004, her family gave her a mahogany-coloured Mazda Miata, the latest in a string of mini convertibles that she drove in all weather with the top down, especially on annual sojourns to Florida.

    Although the cancer was progressing, she seemed serene as her life ebbed. She felt no fear about her impending death and said she had very few regrets. “I'm a very healthy woman except for a lot of cancer tumours. They aren't scaring me, although I wish I could breathe better because it is hard to go up stairs and I can't walk very far,” she said in November 2006. She remained irredeemably cheerful, partly because every time she looked up her disease on Google, “I read my life expectancy and give myself a six month extension.”

    Four months after that interview, on March 21, she moved into the palliative care wing of Princess Margaret Hospital, where she said farewell to friends and family, nibbled on chocolate, sipped ice water and the occasional sherry, and exuded a calm acceptance — a model, as always, for those around her.

    June Callwood - Condolence Book

    Casey House has a tradition of honouring lost friends by lighting the candle that sits in our front window. A candle burns for June. And like the memories of the others this candle has honoured, the memories we have of June will never be extinguished.

    To share your memories of June Callwood in this online Condolence Book, please send Casey House an email at

    LINK: Casey House - one of the world's first hospices for people with HIV/AIDS. Volunteers inspired by their experience providing palliative care to a friend with cancer rallied in the mid 80's with Toronto activist/writer June Callwood to build a place of care and compassion to meet the needs of people affected by HIV/AIDS.

    Women Online: Taking a New Look

    Bucking the perception of the internet as a male-dominated world, a study released this week found more women than men are going online in the United States.

    An estimated 97.2 million females aged 3 and older will be online in 2007, or 51.7 per cent of the total online population in the U.S.

    A Statistics Canada study of adults conducted in 2005 found a minuscule difference in usage between the sexes, with 68 per cent of men versus 67.8 per cent of women counting as internet users.


    SWC Women's Program - first grants since abolishing research and advocacy

    This is among the first grants provided under the renewed Women's Program at Status of Women Canada.

    April 13 - Crossing Communities Art Project

    • $165,000 to the Crossing Communities Art Project Inc., a registered charity aimed at developing art projects and networks by mentoring women and girls who are in a marginalized position.
    • Based in Winnipeg, Crossing Communities will directly engage up to 30 Aboriginal and visible minority girls and women who face significant barriers in their lives."

    April 11 - Second Story Women's Centre

    • $110,255 to the Second Story Women's Centre for training workshops. These workshops regarding the Canadian pension system will be provided to senior women in five regions of Nova Scotia.
    • These workshops regarding the Canadian pension system will be provided to senior women in five regions of Nova Scotia.

    April 11 - Golden Women's Centre

    • $50,000 to the Golden Women's Centre Society for a project designed to improve access to employment information and support for 100 rural women, half of whom are immigrant or Aboriginal
    • The project, "Putting Women on the Payroll," will also seek practical solutions for employers to make their workplaces safer and more flexible.

    LINK: Latest News at SWC

    Friday, April 13

    Charter of Rights - A "kicking horse" for (Conservative) critics?

    Critics haven't made convincing case, chief justice says

    It is a myth that Canadian courts are soft on crime and that the Charter of Rights is responsible for criminals escaping conviction or receiving light jail terms, says Canada's chief justice, Beverley McLachlin.

    In a speech to mark the Charter's 25th anniversary, Chief Justice McLachlin told a legal conference yesterday that the constitutional bill of rights has perhaps become a "kicking horse" for critics who believe that courts, citing rights violations, treat criminals too leniently.

    • the country's incarceration rate remains high by world standards, with Canada recently ranking fifth of 15 countries.
    • The Conservative government has also complained that judges are too lenient and, to that end, has introduced legislation for mandatory minimum jail terms for a variety of gun-related crimes
    • A survey taken earlier this year showed Canadians do not have a solid understanding of the charter, with just under half of those surveyed saying they did not know that governments have the power to override certain court rulings, she noted.

    Louise Arbour, the United Nations chief commissioner for human rights, told the conference the Charter of Rights has not lived up to its potential when it comes to social and economic rights, such as protecting people from poverty.

    • "International monitoring bodies have often criticized Canada on its economic, social and cultural rights record and I truly believe that the recognition of those rights is the new frontier in charter protection," she said.

    • The charter is increasingly out of reach for many Canadians because they cannot afford to go to court. It is therefore "unfortunate" that the Conservative government recently cancelled the Court Challenges Program, which helped fund litigants in challenging government laws on Charter grounds.

    The Charter of Rights, signed on April 17, 1982, as part of the repatriated Constitution, gave judges the power to not merely interpret laws, but to strike them down if they were found to violate any of the established rights.

    They include freedom of religion, expression and association, the legal right to life, liberty and security of the person, and the right against unreasonable search and seizure.
    Equality guarantees, including freedom from discrimination based on age, sex, race, or disability, came into effect in 1985.

    Former prime minister Jean Chretien, former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow and Ontario's chief justice, Roy McMurtry -- three men who were responsible for hammering out a constitutional deal that was endorsed by all provinces except Quebec -- relived an intense night of negotiating that went on behind closed doors in an Ottawa kitchen in November 1981.

    The deal-maker to what has been dubbed the "kitchen accord" was adding the notwithstanding clause to the charter as a constitutional safety valve for politicians to override court rulings.
    Mr. Romanow, who was Saskatchewan's justice minister at the time, told the conference he believes that the controversial and seldom-used compromise clause is a valuable check on the judiciary in light of it endorsing expansive rights, such as private health care.

    Mr. Chretien, who was federal justice minister when the deal was signed, refused to be drawn into a debate about the notwithstanding clause, saying "you can debate it until you die" and it won't make a difference because it is entrenched in the Constitution.

    Although there is an amending formula, history has shown making changes is virtually impossible because it requires the consent of seven of 10 provinces with more than 50 per cent of the population.

    LINK: Ottawa Citizen
    LINK: F-email - Court Challenges

    Unions, most racial minorities have left court empty-handed

    While choosing Charter winners and losers is a subjective exercise -- many legal triumphs can be partial or Pyrrhic -- few would deny that one of the biggest losers has been the trade-union movement.

    Activists who represent the poor and the homeless have also come away pretty much empty-handed, as have racial minorities -- with the exception of aboriginals.

    "Topping the list of Charter winners are gays and lesbians, aboriginals and the women's movement. The latter has won major victories in how the courts have defined obscenity, in beating back protections for those charged with sexual assault, and in the area of equality.

    LINK: Kirk Makin, Globe and Mail

    "Canada's New Government"

    This post dedicated to anyone and everyone who is tired of reading Tory press releases that begin with "Canada's New Government".

    The intention - a marketing ploy - will hopefully meet the same demise as the Coke marketing flop of the eighties.....we can only hope?

    New Coke was the unofficial name of the sweeter formulation introduced in 1985 by The Coca-Cola Company to replace its flagship soft drink, Coca-Cola or Coke. Properly speaking, it had no separate name of its own, but was simply the new version of Coke, until 1992 when it was renamed Coca-Cola II.

    Public reaction to the change was devastating, and the new cola quickly entered the pantheon of major marketing flops.

    LINK: Coke's Marketing Flop (by Wiki)

    LINK: Tories rebrand government to reflect change of guard Like the rebranding of Coca-Cola as New Coke, the Harper government is instructing some public servants to use the term "Canada's New Government" instead of the traditional "Government of Canada."

    "As per the Minister's Office, effective immediately, and until further notice, the words 'Canada's New Government' are to be used instead of 'the Government of Canada' in all departmental correspondence," said the memo from the manager of the executive documents and appointments unit in the department's strategic policy branch.

    "Please note that the initial letters of all 3 words are capitalized."

    Thursday, April 12

    Workers with home commitments get fewer opportunities

    Toronto (12 April 2007) - Workers whose family commitments impact on their work get fewer chances to advance and have poorer relationships with bosses, says a study conducted by researchers at three Ontario universities.

    Statistics suggest Canadians are having a more difficult time balancing work and family life. In 2005, a Statistics Canada report said Canadian workers spent 45 minutes less with their family during workdays than they did 20 years earlier.

    Study based on responses by public sector workers


    Wednesday, April 11

    BC Women’s centre gets funding from Status of Women

    The Golden Women’s Community Resource Centre has received some good news – and $50,000 - from the Status of Women Canada (SWC), a federal agency that recently went through a shake-up that caused confusion and chaos at women’s centres across the country.

    SWC has provided funding to the local centre for the past 27 years for projects that aid vulnerable women in the community.

    But when cutbacks were made to the SWC administration budget last November, the local centre cut hours of operation while they waited to see what would happen with the federal agency.

    Laurie Dalzell, Golden women’s centre administrator, says the grant was approved following a tense few months for the centre.

    “A whole lot of things hinged on the status of this money,” she says. “It would’ve affected everyone’s jobs here if we didn’t get it.”

    The $50,000 grant will cover an 18-month project titled ‘Putting Women on the payroll: Overcoming the challenges in rural B.C. to improve women’s economic status in our community’.
    The funding allows Dalzell to work at the centre on the project and keep up with the administrative side of operating a non-profit organization.

    “It’s a very specific and local project, and that’s what I wanted - to use what we can do to affect our community,” Dalzell says. “The grant will give us all time to focus on the projects and stop wasting our time on finding money for our jobs.”

    She says with the funding, community partners will work together to address the barriers women face to getting or keeping jobs.

    The project proposal she submitted explained that many studies link women’s physical and mental illnesses to the pressures they experience from work and home, which are major underlying causes for absenteeism and disruption in employment.

    Dalzell says the grant is good news for everybody in Golden.

    “Issues that affect women affect everybody,” Dalzell says. “Nobody lives in a vacuum.”
    Cathie Green is an expert in health and wellness issues. She cannot stress enough the importance of places such as the women’s centre.

    “They address tangible economic, health, and social issues like pay equity, violence, and personal coping skills,” Green says. “Just as importantly though, they provide a gathering place for women to connect with each other, share information and resources, and develop social ties.”

    Green, a community development facilitator with the Interior Health Authority, says the centre does a great job of working on the tangible social, economic and health issues for women.

    The SWC grant was so important, Dalzell invited Kootenay-Columbia MP Jim Abbott to tour the centre so she could explain to him what they do there and how important the money was for its future.

    “I really emphasized to him that if we didn’t know by the end of the fiscal year (March 31), it would be very difficult,” she says.

    Abbott says he and his staff worked to make sure the grant was approved before the March 31 deadline for 2007 funding.

    “I and my staff in Ottawa just kept on calling up and saying, ‘we know this complies, we know we should be getting the money, please give us the official word that this is coming’,” Abbott says.

    Dalzell checked with other women’s centres throughout B.C. and found Golden was one of two that received funding from SWC.

    She says some places did not even bother to submit an application because they were under the impression funding would not be provided after the recent changes at SWC.

    The confusion stemmed from a reallocation of $5 million in administrative costs and changes to the criteria for project funding.

    “We streamlined the agency, so we saved $5 million in administration that we reallocated for programming,” explains Veronique Bruneau, press secretary for the Canadian Heritage and Status of Women Agency.

    She says SWC has never given core funding to organizations, it has always funded centres on a project-by-project basis.

    “We’re funding initiatives that address women in their daily lives and we’re not funding advocacy anymore,” she says. “Groups are free to advocate, but if they ask for money for projects to advocate, then they won’t be funded through SWC.”

    An official announcement about the grant will be made at the Golden women’s centre today, Wednesday, April 11, at 11:30 a.m. On hand will be MP Jim Abbott and a member of the Ministry of Canadian Heritage, the ministry responsible for the Status of Women Canada.

    Tuesday, April 10

    Harper Watch - #51 Why Do You Want To Get Hitched? Fear. brings us a countdown of 60 of the ways Harper is reshaping Canada in his own image.

    When the Cons were polling behind the Liberals — despite the sponsorship scandal — we were cool as cucumbers. That was December 2005. Then it began to look like a Conservative government in the first days of 06.

    And in the final days, pundits were predicting a Conservative majority government.

    Gays got scared. Harper had promised to try to repeal gay marriage. Hence, the gay Harper-shotgun wedding was born, making the weekend of Jan 20, 2006 one of the busiest weekends for gay nuptials since the practice was legalized.

    Around the offices, we're not big fans of marriage to begin with, so that Harper actually encouraged some of us to tie the knot doesn't sit well with us.

    And of course, Harper's very real ability to give the gay community a collective ulcer is one more reason he gets a failing grade.

    LINK: McCann - "SHHH. Soccer moms are softening on Harper. That doesn't mean he's not making SoCon ideological moves. He's just doing it quietly!"

    Monday, April 9

    Harper Watch - #52 Harper Is No Good If You Like Museums

    Or any kind of culture really, unless the military counts.

    First we heard, the Museum Assistance Program was canned. The $4.5 million program was small potatoes — and recently replaced with a $5 million 2-year program to hire summer students, which the Canadian Museums Association calls an initiative "stemming more from electoral preoccupations than from an analysis of the museums' priority needs."

    Then we noticed that the Portrait Gallery of Canada had been left out of future federal budgets entirely. Mothballing the portrait museum may be a bad idea, but cutting the already meager federal assistance to museums nationwide is worse for those that don't live in Canada's Capital Region.

    Now the program that helps museums put their pieces on tour is closing its doors. The program — good for anyone who thinks museum's acquisitions are too centralized in Ontario — will shut down in less than a year.

    Heritage minister Bev Oda has reneged on her commitment to a comprehensive national strategy for preserving Canada's museums, a plan she supported as heritage critic. Why? Is Harper waiting for a majority so he can axe federal contributions entirely?

    LINK: McCann - "SHHH. Soccer moms are softening on Harper. That doesn't mean he's not making SoCon ideological moves. He's just doing it quietly!"

    Lewis Black: Pagans and Feminists

    F-email Fightback loves to laugh and loves to find ways to make other social justice seekers laugh too! Here, Lewis talks about Jerry Falwell blaming 9/11 on the Pagans and the Feminists. Enjoy

    LINK: F-email Fightback's VodPod


    It's the story of a place called Mouseland. Mouseland was a place where all the little mice lived and played, were born and died. And they lived much the same as you and I do.

    They even had a Parliament. And every four years they had an election. Used to walk to the polls and cast their ballots. Some of them even got a ride to the polls. And got a ride for the next four years afterwards too. Just like you and me. And every time on election day all the little mice used to go to the ballot box and they used to elect a government. A government made up of big, fat, black cats.

    Now if you think it strange that mice should elect a government made up of cats, you just look at the history of Canada for last 90 years and maybe you'll see that they weren't any stupider than we are.

    Now I'm not saying anything against the cats. They were nice fellows. They conducted their government with dignity. They passed good laws--that is, laws that were good for cats. But the laws that were good for cats weren't very good for mice. One of the laws said that mouseholes had to be big enough so a cat could get his paw in. Another law said that mice could only travel at certain speeds--so that a cat could get his breakfast without too much effort.

    All the laws were good laws. For cats. But, oh, they were hard on the mice. And life was getting harder and harder. And when the mice couldn't put up with it any more, they decided something had to be done about it. So they went en masse to the polls.

    They voted the black cats out. They put in the white cats.

    Now the white cats had put up a terrific campaign. They said: "All that Mouseland needs is more vision." They said:"The trouble with Mouseland is those round mouseholes we got. If you put us in we'll establish square mouseholes." And they did. And the square mouseholes were twice as big as the round mouseholes, and now the cat could get both his paws in. And life was tougher than ever.

    And when they couldn't take that anymore, they voted the white cats out and put the black ones in again. Then they went back to the white cats. Then to the black cats. They even tried half black cats and half white cats. And they called that coalition. They even got one government made up of cats with spots on them: they were cats that tried to make a noise like a mouse but ate like a cat.

    You see, my friends, the trouble wasn't with the colour of the cat. The trouble was that they were cats. And because they were cats, they naturally looked after cats instead of mice.