Friday, August 31

Reinstate the National Early Learning and Childcare Program

Women’s groups in Newfoundland and Labrador are joining women across the country in demanding the Harper Conservatives reinstate the Liberals’ national early learning and childcare program, Liberal Status of Women Critic Maria Minna said today

“We have heard the same thing from women’s groups right across Canada – in Vancouver, Winnipeg, and just this week in Newfoundland and Labrador,” stated Ms. Minna. “They want an immediate reinstatement of the agreement the previous Liberal government signed with all provinces and territories in 2005.”

While in St. John’s for the Liberal Summer Caucus, Ms. Minna held a roundtable meeting with representatives of several women’s groups from Newfoundland and Labrador as part of her Canada-wide outreach to Canadian women and families.

“We will work to ensure that family caregivers of today are not the poor seniors of tomorrow. We will fight the poverty faced by many aboriginal women and single-parent families. And we will continue to pressure the minority Conservative government to live up to its obligations under the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.”

Thursday, August 30

Hat Tip to BWI - Building and Woodworkers International

At the BWI founding Congress in Argentina, BWI adopted a global programme that addresses the needs and priorities of women workers and also committed itself to continuing support of women and young people in our sectors. In this regard BWI adopted in its strategic plan a global objective for Gender Mainstreaming.

Gender Mainstreaming comprises of the reorganisation, improvement, development and evaluation of decision making processes in all policy fields and areas of work of BWI. This means in practice that BWI and its affiliates should:

  • Integrate women and gender concerns in all education and training activities
  • Develop gender training sensitive materials
  • aim for a minimum of 50% women participants in all gender fair training programmes and at least 30% in all other programmes

In order to organise effectively women workers in our sectors, BWI should address both the practical and strategic needs of working women. The International Women’s Committee has called for all BWI regions to conduct a gender audit, reports for each region should be tabled to IWC in November 2007 for consideration and Way-forward.

Quebec pledges millions to fight child abuse

In an all-out effort to save Nunavik's children from abuse and neglect, Quebec will pump an additional $5.5 million each year into Nunavik's health and social services department, along with $31 million to build new staff housing for social service workers.

These are "significant and rapid responses," Quebec's health minister Philippe Couillard told the Katimajiit meeting on Nunavik's social and economic development last week in Kuujjuaq.

With this money, Couillard says his department is responding to nearly all the 21 recommendations made earlier this summer by Quebec's commission for human rights and the rights of children and youth.

Quebec Premier Jean Charest, who was asked by the human rights commission to personally intervene in improving conditions for Nunavik children and youth, called the report "brutal" and "hard to read."

"None of us here can accept what it describes," he said. "Things must change. They absolutely must change."

Labour's gains threatened by Harper government actions

In a message prepared for Labour Day 2007, Paul Moist, CUPE national president andClaude Généreux, national secretary treasurer point out that Stephen Harper's government has operated behind closed doors, shutting out the very people his government is elected to serve.

  • They cancelled the Kelowna Accord that promised to provide housing,water, and education for Aboriginal people.
  • Child care agreements with the provinces were cancelled and a universal quality child care system was abandoned.
  • They are ignoring green house gas emission targets in the Kyoto accord.
  • Funding to women's programs, literacy, and court challenges have all been drastically chopped or eliminated.
  • Funding for municipal infrastructure renewal is inadequate and contingent on privatization through P3s.
  • Students are suffering under inadequate funding for post-secondary education.

Behind closed doors Harper is looking to minimize the impact of a strong labour force whether it is within Canada through inter provincial trade deals or in collusion with attempted partnerships with the US and Mexico, and the removal of barriers for the continued exportation of resources-both raw materials and human.

On this Labour Day, 2007 CUPE's national leadership is reiterating its pledge to move the union line forward. Those who attempt to erode public services and our manufacturing economy will be challenged by Canada's larges tunion. CUPE's primary effort will continue to be focused on building strong communities for our families, friends and neighbours


Wednesday, August 29

Fact Check - Do boys really learn better from female teachers?

It lacked the historical levity of "Dewey Defeats Truman" or the gut-wrenching gravitas of "12 Found Alive in W.Va. Coal Mine," but on Monday the Ottawa Citizen made a fine contribution to the world's treasury of incorrect newspaper headlines: "Boys read better when they're taught by a woman, study finds."

Indeed, the study, which appeared in the May issue of feminist behavioral science journal Sex Roles, found no such thing. While researchers did indeed "question an international drive to recruit more male teachers into elementary schools to improve boys' literacy," as the Citizen's Janice Tibbets reported, they also deliberately warned against concluding that "young boys have a better chance of learning to read when they are taught by women rather than men."

According to statistics, men are less likely than ever to choose a teaching career. The total percentage of male teachers fell from 41 per cent in 1989 to 35 per cent a decade later, according to Statistics Canada. And that trend is accelerating as older teachers retire. An article in the June edition of the Ontario College of Teachers' magazine, Professionally Speaking, notes that only 27 per cent of students currently enrolled in the province's teacher education programs are male. As of 2006, men comprised just one in five primary-junior teachers.

LINK: Entire story at Maclean's

Sunday, August 26

Group says Sask. hot spot for violence against women

Members of the Sisters in Spirit initiative say this province is a hot spot for racialized and sexualized violence.

The SIS initiative was started by the Native Women's Association of Canada and has done extensive research to identify areas in Canada where there's a high rate of missing and murdered aboriginal women, said Theresa Ducharme, a community development co-ordinator for SIS.

"I'm sad to say Regina is one of them as well as Saskatoon, so that's why we're here in Saskatchewan," said Ducharme, who can't explain why the numbers are so high.

On Friday the group was in Regina at the Gathering Place to speak about the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women. SIS plans to host 10 similar workshops across Canada; the first was held in Saskatoon on Wednesday.

"We're here to educate. We're here to do prevention. We're here to give the tools to say, 'This is what you can do not only to prevent it but to raise awareness,' " Ducharme said.

She said it's important to raise awareness about the issue, and provided those in attendance with information and violence awareness tool kits. Ducharme said it's important to keep talking about the issue of violence against women because it's not getting better.

"This is like a genocide happening right under our nose and everyone is silent about it," said Ducharme.

LINK: To the entire article at the Saskatoon Phoenix

Friday, August 24

The Criminalization of Poverty?

Thursday August 23, the Supreme Court intends to deliver judgment in an application for leave that, however decided, is sure to provoke considerable controversy. The case, David Banks, et al. v. Her Majesty the Queen (31929), concerns an appeal by a group of homeless men convicted of panhandling offences under sections of Ontario’s Safe Streets Act, 1999, S.O. 1999 c.8 and the Highway Traffic Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8 (as amended by section 7 of the Safe Streets Act). While the appellants concede that by ’squeegeeing’ on various Toronto city roads and soliciting money from cars stopped at red lights, they had committed an offence, they seek to have their convictions set aside because the legislation is unconstitutional in nature.

The Safe Streets Act has long provoked the consternation of advocates for Ontario’s homeless youth, who envision the overall piece of legislation as an attempt to criminalize poverty, and to further politically and economically disenfranchise some of the province’s poorest citizens.

At the Court of Appeal, the appellants were represented by the Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth and the Law (a.k.a. Justice for Youth and Children) and the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty. These two groups worked together to file an impassioned and well-reasoned factum that, despite its virtues, ultimately failed to persuade the Court of Appeal.

Read more....

Women working later in life, StatsCan says

Older workers — especially women — are staying longer in the workforce, reducing the danger of sudden labour shortages as baby boomers hit retirement age, Statistics Canada says.

A study published Friday says that more than 2.1 million people aged 55 to 64, representing 12 per cent of the workforce, were employed or looking for work in 2006.

That compares with just over one million, representing 10 per cent of the workforce, three decades earlier.

One big change was the tendency of women to keep working, the study says, offering contrasting figures:

  • 32 per cent of older women were in the workforce in 1976, a figure that rose steadily to 51 per cent 2006.
  • 76 per cent of older men were in the workforce in 1976, a figure that fell to 58 per cent in 1995 before rebounding to 67 per cent in 2006.
  • The combined rate for both sexes rose from 53 per cent in 1976 to 59 per cent in 2006.

"Women's labour force attachment today is much stronger throughout the life cycle than in the past," co-authors Katherine Marshall and Vincent Ferrao write.

"Therefore, as younger generations of women reach their retirement years, they will have higher rates of labour force participation than their predecessors."

Vancouver's Library Strike: Men get nearly $6 more hourly for similar work, says union.

"Pay equity is a human rights issue," said Laura Safarian, a librarian at VPL's downtown main branch, and a member of her local's bargaining committee.

"Canada has signed on to international agreements that recognize the human rights implications of gender bias in wages. This statement from the city, awkward as it is, represents the first time we've seen any recognition at all of the issue from the employer. We have made significant compromises in our negotiations already, including a reduction in the special wage adjustment we're asking for, for all professional librarians," Safarian added.

Research available on the Local 391 website shows that gender-based pay differentials put library workers far behind male city workers doing work of equal value. Titled "Overdue: Pay Equity for Library Workers," the paper compares hourly wages for an entry-level library assistant (usually a woman, as the VPL workforce is 65 per cent female) with entry-level labourers (a job category that has traditionally been filled by men). The library assistant starts at $15.31 and hour, while the labourer starts at $21.08 an hour.

LINK: The Tyee

Tory shuffle underwhelms Bloc Québécois MP Nicole Demers

Laval Bloc Québécois MP Nicole Demers says she isn't impressed by Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper's latest cabinet shuffle, which was announced last week. "It's all very well that Harper changes his ministers' positions," said the Bloc's official critic on women's issues.

"The problem remains the same," she added. "The Conservative government's vision goes against Quebecers' values and mostly sets back the interests of women."

Brush-up recommended

Johanne Deschamps, the Bloc MP for Laurentides-Labelle and the party's co-critic on women's issues, added that if the Conservatives' new minister for women, Josée Verner, wants to be credible, she'll have to do a lot of work. She said that Verner — who handles multiple portfolios, which include international cooperation, La Francophonie and official languages — will have to brush up in those areas.

Abilities doubted

Verner has not managed to defend the presence of French in the army, nor to inject an element of humanitarianism into Canada's mission in Afghanistan, Deschamps and Demers said in a statement. They said they had doubts as to Verner's ability to defend the cause of women, since she has always voted against motions seeking to reintroduce previous criteria that were once part of the federal government program for promoting women's interests.

Re-open regional women's offices

Demers and Deschamps said Verner must now make herself heard by her leader, Stephen Harper. She must convince him of the importance of reopening the 12 Status of Women offices the Conservatives closed, and re-establish the original criteria of the program and reinstate a judicial contestation program, if she wants to prove that she and her government really care about women, said Demers.

'Must act for all women'

"My colleague, Johanne Deschamps, and I, will continue to pursue this government, to keep an eye on it and denounce policies that go against the rights of women," she added. "Mrs. Verner will not be able to content herself with the mere role as spokesperson for the decisions made by the cabinet of Stephen Harper. She will have to act in the interests of all women."

Verner a 'socially liberal' Tory

Verner, who represents the riding of Louis-Saint-Laurent, was first elected in the Tory sweep of several Quebec City constituencies during the 2006 general election, defeating the Bloc Québécois' Bernard Cleary in the process. Her win, with a 57.7 per cent share of the votes, was one of the few Quebec victories for the Conservatives in recent decades. A former member of the Action Démocratique du Québec, Verner, has come out supporting same-sex marriage and is considered to be one of the most socially liberal members of the Conservative caucus.

Tuesday, August 21

Women have good reason for not liking or voting for Harper

Canadian women just don’t like him that much. Polls continue to point towards a growing gender gap for the Conservative prime minister.

According to recent polls, 71 per cent or more of Canadian women say they do not support Harper, and in Quebec it is even worse if you’re the prime minister of a minority government looking for a majority. As few as 14 per cent of Quebec women say they would vote for Harper.

These are tough numbers. Despite 20 months in office and a nearly free ride from the Liberals, Harper is no more popular today than when he was in opposition.

Last week’s cabinet shuffle was all about changing that. He is clearly hoping a few pretty faces will help him overcome his many deficits. Once again, Harper has underestimated the women of Canada..... Josee Verner, the photogenic Quebec MP who just took over the Status of Women portfolio from Bev Oda.

Oda failed miserably to convince Canadian women they have equality, and she was demoted for her botched efforts.

Harper doesn’t like it when his flunkies fail at their assigned tasks......

Unconvincing argument

In Oda’s case, she wasn’t able to get women to like her boss. Oda was unable to convince Canadian women that because we have rights under the Charter, this somehow translates into equality. And that the truth is merely some big lie being perpetrated by angry feminists.

At one point, Oda told the standing committee on the Status of Women that “we have to understand that if women are continually told they are not equal, they will continue to believe that. We say in Canada that everyone is equal.”

Easily said, but far too many Canadians know the difference. They are living it.

She was also unable to sell Canadian women on the government’s decision to cancel $3.7 billion in child-care funding to the provinces. This probably has something to do with the reality of women’s lives. Only 15 per cent of Canadian kids have access to regulated child care, which means their moms and dads spend a lot of time every day at work wondering how their children are doing.

Verner has a tough job ahead of her. She must persuade Canadian women that they ought to like and trust the prime minister.

The voting gender gap and Afghanistan are the two biggest problems facing “Canada’s new government.” And they are intrinsically linked. Women tend not to support war.

And why would Canadian women support Harper, when he doesn’t support them?

His caucus has a dismal 11 per cent female members, and he refuses to support measures that would increase female participation in his own party and in the political system. He took away child care. He told women advocating for equality that his government would no longer fund their work.

LINK: Story posted in the Telegram

New child-care website missing key information: critic

A co-ordinator with a child-care policy resource institute says the website launched by the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services to help provide parents with information about licensed child care in Ontario is lacking crucial information."

I was extremely disappointed when I saw it, the information is very lacking," said Martha Friendly, the co-ordinator of the Childcare Resource and Research Unit, which also deals with early learning issues.

For example, the site was missing the type of facility — such as whether it is a home or a school — whether it is a not for profit, and information about the training of the staff, she said.

That is one of the main indicators of the quality of care that can be delivered, Friendly said.

The site is designed to help parents choose among 4,500 day-care facilities in the province by listing the licensed daycares and their inspection reports.

LINK: Read more at the CBC website

Flickr Feminism - Graffiti and more

Visit Emilie Margaret at Flickr for more great photos

Monday, August 20

The Great Granny Revolution.

In the 1970s, American feminist and journalist Gloria Steinem predicted that one day an army of grey-haired women would quietly take over the earth.

Today they call it the Great Granny Revolution.

There are currently 150 granny groups in North America, working on the front lines to make the rest of the world a little bit more like their kitchens.

In the village of Wakefield, Ont., documentary filmmaker Brenda Rooney and her husband Robert decided to record the phenomenon from their tiny town’s perspective.

Also a granny with the local group, Brenda is now proudly touring the film across the country.

Filmed both in Ontario and the Alexandra Township in South Africa, the aptly named The Great Granny Revolution details a movement of grey-haired women across continents and oceans “wherein one small group of women start off by responding in a personal way to the AIDS pandemic.”

These granny groups are centred around supporting their counterparts in South Africa, where many older women are left raising their grandchildren in wake of the fatal disease.

“Women are funny and women are collegial and we are so supportive of each other that it isn’t surprising that we would reach half-way around the world in empathy with women who we felt were having to take on an enormous burden,” said Brenda, adding that comes across in the film.
“It’s a story about empowerment.”

“And, although this is a personal story of women making a difference, really it is about a demographic.

“This generation of women, the baby-boom generation, who had careers like no other generation before them and are now facing retirement in large numbers, have their health and sense of well-being and community — well, we are taking on activities that will see a change in our society.”

Aside from making a difference on the home-front, these women have raised millions of dollars across the country to help ease the pain of HIV/AIDS at the grassroots level.

Their friendships have also supported African grannies in their struggles, giving them the courage to go on and the ambition to become more active in their own communities.

“We all benefit from the friendship and collegiality of being on a team and that’s something that as we get older becomes less available to people,” said Brenda.

A scrapbook of their struggles and joys over years, regardless of their distance and differences, The Great Granny Revolution is a meaningful and uplifting story.

“These women are not defeated. They sing and dance. I mean, they have pain, too, and they cry, but that doesn’t mean that overrides their entire life,” said Brenda.

“Hopefully, it will inspire [Canadians] to do things and respond to things, not to feel that they’re overwhelmed by history or overwhelmed by issues or by problems, but that we can actually do something. We just have to start.”

The Great Granny Revolution will be shown Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Thompson Rivers University Clocktower Theater and will be followed by a question and answer period with Brenda and members of the CanGo Grannies of Kamloops.

For more information, visit or call Joan at 374-4996.

Sunday, August 19

Photos of anti-SPP demo on Parliament Hill today

From August 20-21, Stephen Harper will welcome his American idol George W. Bush and Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon to Montebello, Quebec.

The security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) was launched two years ago by then-prime minister Paul Martin, President George W. Bush and his Mexican counterpart Vicente Fox at the so-called Three Amigos summit in Waco, Texas.

The SPP grew out of concerns that security crackdowns would cripple cross-border trade.

With juggernauts such as China and India looming on the horizon, the three countries agreed they had to act fast to stay competitive.

Now the SPP has grown into a mind-boggling array of some 300 initiatives, involving 19 teams of bureaucrats from all three countries.Its stated mission is "to keep our borders closed to terrorism yet open to trade" by fostering "greater co-operation and information-sharing" in security protocols and economic areas such as product safety.

Little-known in Canada, the accord, if fully implemented, could affect almost every aspect of Canadian life, from what drugs you can access, to whether you can board a plane and even what ingredients go into your morning cornflakes.

While you may not have heard of the SPP, you may have heard about some of the controversies it has sparked: Canada's adoption of a no-fly list; negotiations to lower Canada's pesticide standards to U.S. levels; or fears the deal will lead to bulk-water exports.

This weekend, the debate hits the headlines across the nation as the three heads of state and their advisers converge on Montebello, Que., 60 kilometres east of Ottawa, for the SPP's third annual summit.

Thousands of protesters are also expected to descend on the area, hoping to confront the "Three Banditos" about a deal they say is a secretive sellout to the cowboy capitalism and militarism of the superpower to Canada's south. Today - there was a rally on Parliament Hill

LINK: Slideshow

Saturday, August 18

Conservatives persist in insulting women

Recently appointed to cabinet, Calgary MP Diane Ablonczy told The Canadian Press Friday that women can rise up the political ranks more quickly than men, but generally, politics is not a career that interests many women. “Women generally place a higher priority on caring for their family – either their own children, or sometimes grandchildren, and sometimes older parents,” Ms. Ablonczy was quoted as saying.

That explanation drew a quick and fiery response from NDP MP Irene Mathyssen, who issued a press release criticizing the Conservatives' approach to women's issues and noting the NDP caucus is 41 per cent women.

“Now they're blaming women for having the wrong priorities,” she said.

  • The NDP strongly criticized Harper’s Conservatives for their persistent lack of understanding of women’s role in Canadian politics. The charge came following comments made by newly appointed junior cabinet minister Diane Ablonczy who suggested that women are less interested in a political career because their priority is caring for their families.

  • Dion uses controversial powers naming veteran party activist Michelle Simson as the next Liberal candidate in Scarborough Southwest.
    Mr. Dion defended his use of the rarely used appointment power on the grounds that it will help him meet his commitment of running at least one-third female candidates in the next election.

Callwood's visionary HOA versus the subprime catastrophe

Life was a whole lot simpler when Gertrude and Joe Barron bought their first house in Hellertown, Pa., a generation ago.

The couple got a mortgage from a local bank – the same bank where Mr. Barron deposited the paycheque he earned working at the nearby Bethlehem Steel plant. And the couple dutifully made their monthly payments until the house was paid off.

The story might have ended there.

But three years ago, Ms. Barron, 77, by then a widow living on social security, unwittingly stepped into the arcane world of subprime lending, helping to set in motion a chain of events that has rocked financial markets around the world and left few investors untouched.

Until this month, few Canadians knew what “subprime” meant. Fewer still could imagine why they should even care. Common in the United States, these loans are a rarity in Canada, accounting for roughly 5 per cent of all mortgages.

But these risky loans – made at inflated rates to borrowers with inadequate income and spotty credit histories – were all the rage south of the border. Last year, they accounted for 20 per cent of new mortgages, spawning a $1-trillion (U.S.) market.

Now, the subprime market's collapse has become the catalyst for the deflation of the U.S. housing bubble, and a virulent and spreading global credit crunch.

Callwood's Vision - Home Ownership Alternatives.

Four months after her death, the small miracles that June Callwood germinated all over the city continue to blossom.

Here is one that almost nobody knew about until now.

A decade ago, Callwood helped found a non-profit corporation called Home Ownership Alternatives. Its goal was to provide modest-income families with the chance to buy a home of their own. It offered them loans, worth up to 15 per cent of the purchase price, to make a down payment. No repayment of principal or interest was required until they sold the home.

The scheme was the brainchild of Callwood's nephew, Michael Labbé, an urban planner who passionately believed that home ownership could reduce poverty and revitalize threadbare neighbourhoods.

The initiative began quietly. The founders didn't have much seed money and their approach was at odds with mainstream thinking about affordable housing.

But the formula worked.

Friday, August 17

Quality child care – make it the law

Parliament is scheduled to resume on Sept. 17, and with it comes a final vote on Bill C-303, the NDP’s Early Learning and Child Care Act.

Take action supporting this bill right now by emailing your member of parliament.

Thursday, August 16

Half of Canada lacks clout in cabinet

Female representation stuck at 22 per cent

Women have not gained clout or numbers in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's cabinet and some critics are saying that women were the big losers in this shuffle.

The 32-member cabinet has seven women – the same 22 per cent ratio that Harper had in his past two cabinets. Women accounted for between 24 and 28 per cent of the Liberal cabinets in the years immediately preceding the Conservatives coming to power in 2006.

Moreover, there are virtually no women in the frontline ministries and none in charge of the areas that Harper identified as priorities for his government, such as crime, the economy, Canadian sovereignty and the environment. In the last cabinet shuffle, Rona Ambrose was shuffled out of the environment post and replaced by John Baird.

She says while Harper is keeping women's numbers down and putting them in "pink portfolios," Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion is on track to have one-third of his candidates be women in the next election and has vowed that they'll have the same representation in any future Liberal cabinet

LINK: TorStar

Tuesday, August 14

Bev Oda and Josee Verner have switched posts

Bev Oda and Josee Verner have switched posts -- Oda moving from the heritage and status of women files to minister of international co-operation and Verner taking over Oda's duties. Verner retains her responsibility as minister of official languages. Verner has mostly flown under the radar during her tenure as the minister responsible for the Canadian International Development Agency, but Oda has had to fend off calls for her resignation. She was forced to defend several of her party's decisions including $5-million in cuts to the administrative budget for Status of Women and the removal of the word "equality" from the department's mandate.

The decades in since 1967 have seen advances in racial and social equality

There was a sense of heady optimism during the Summer of Love that the flower-power generation could change the world.

But as many drifted into middle age, they must have wondered about past ideals: Saddled with mortgages, they spawned kids who watched too much TV, played too many video games and suffered from more obesity problems than any previous generation.

The baby boomers also bought more pre-packaged food, riddled with chemical additives, than ever before in history. Food packaged in non-biodegradable containers, brought home in plastic bags.

While many were first stirred to environmental activism after reading Rachel Carson's seminal 1962 book, Silent Spring, it took years before the effects of global warming became too serious to ignore, now serving as a wake-up call to the boomer generation after years of rampant consumerism.

So, 40 years later, did the boomers change the world?

In some ways they did, says University of Victoria historian Dominique Clment, who's written a new research paper titled An Anachronism Failing to Function Properly: How the Baby Boom Generation Transformed Social Movements in Canada.

Sixties youth were the front-runners of a historical time when political activism and radical ideas were pronounced, his paper says, and while the generation was not revolutionary, it had a revolutionary impact.

The boomers fought for racial and social equality, gay rights, women's rights, student rights, and campaigned against war and poverty, Clment points out."The size of this demographic bulge, combined with widespread social and economic changes unique to this period, was bound to have a profound impact on social movement activism," he says.

One of the most identifiable impacts of the generation can be quantified by looking at the proliferation of professional social movement organizations (SMOs), which he defines as a formal organization that identifies its goals with the preferences of a social movement and attempts to implement those goals.

The proliferation of SMOs in Canada in the '60s and '70s was astounding," Clment observes.

The number of women's groups in B.C. alone, for example, jumped from two in 1969 to more than 100 by 1974."The student movement and the New Left peaked in the '60s and early '70s as the boomers entered and graduated from college and university," he says."

The boomers also left their mark on the women's movement. Disgusted at the rampant sexism among student radicals, women formed the first women's liberation groups in Canada."At the same time, the first gay rights organizations were formed in Vancouver and Toronto, and a national association began in 1975.

Greenpeace started in Vancouver in 1971, the birth of the modern environmental movement, and between 1960 and 1969, four national aboriginal associations and 33 provincial organizations were born, he says.Clment points out that boomers also created African-Canadian SMOs across the country while advocates for children's rights, prisoners' rights, animal rights, peace and official languages organized in unprecedented numbers.By the mid-1980s, the federal secretary of state was providing funding to more than 3,500 social movement organizations, Clment says.................continued at link below

Saturday, August 11

Subsidized child care is a proven way to increase birth rate

But Canada, except for Quebec, balks at it, despite looming demographic crisis

Last month's census data confirmed several long-standing and problematic trends: a lower-than-ever birth rate, a higher-than-ever median age of nearly 40, with the West younger than the East mainly because Easterners have moved West to work in the oil boom.

Canada has always had the option of trying to encourage a higher birth rate to maintain its population, yet only Quebec has gone down that road.

Canada by and large does not provide inexpensive or accessible child care. Canadian parents, excluding Quebecers, pay on average twice as much for child care as Europeans. Barely one in five single Canadian parents has access to subsidized care.

Despite the fact that Quebec's system of generous state support for parents has proved successful in raising its birth rate, other provinces and the federal government have all pointedly - and wrongly - ignored it as an example to follow.

Men more confident than women on workplace equity?

It seems men and white people are confident that women and ethnic minorities will have an easier time in the workplace a decade from now, according to a Business Week poll

The magazine surveyed 2,000 executives, and found that folks with privilege are much more confident that sections of the workforce that experience discrimination now, will see their experiences improve within 10 years.

A Feminist Law Professor writes: These data suggest that people who are race- and/or gender-privileged have a more sanguine view of how easy it is to “get ahead” than do those without such privilege

Thursday, August 9

International Day of the World's Indigenous People

Yes folks - today is the International Day of the World's Indigenous People

I choose to celebrate our Indigineous People by acknowledging the amazing honour bestowed upon Sophia Rabliauskas recipient of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for 2007 (one prize awarded to each of the six continents)

About Sophia

The traditional territory of the Poplar River First Nation—1,200 members of the Ojibway indigenous people—is located on the eastern side of Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba, and forms a significant part of Canada’s boreal forest. For thousands of years, the Poplar River First Nation has carried out its traditional mandate to protect the region and its resources. However, massive industrial clear-cut logging to the south and hydro-power development on boreal rivers to the north of Poplar River land continue. First Nations territory is legally public land. As such, it is common for provincial and federal agencies to grant long-term leases to industry without consulting the First Nations who live on the land.

A leader of her Poplar River First Nation in the boreal region of Manitoba, Sophia Rabliauskas has for the past eight years worked with her people to secure interim protection of their two million acres of undisturbed forest land (three times the size of Rhode Island). In 2004, Rabliauskas along with several other community members led Poplar River in the development of a comprehensive land protection and management plan for their territory—a precedent-setting accomplishment among First Nations in the boreal. Rabliauskas’s and Poplar River’s current efforts are focused on securing permanent protection of their land from the Manitoba government. With that victory, they will seek a UNESCO World Heritage listing for a larger region of First Nations boreal forest.
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Goldman Environmental Prize

Grassroots environmental heroes too often go unrecognized. Yet their efforts to protect the world’s natural resources are increasingly critical to the well-being of the planet we all share. Thus, in 1990 San Francisco civic leaders and philanthropists Richard N. Goldman and his late wife, Rhoda H. Goldman (1924-1996) created the Goldman Environmental Prize. The Goldman Prize continues today with its original mission to annually honor grassroots environmental heroes from the six inhabited continental regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands and Island Nations, North America, and South and Central America. The Prize recognizes individuals for sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk. Each winner receives an award of $125,000, the largest award in the world for grassroots environmentalists. The Goldman Prize views “grassroots” leaders as those involved in local efforts, where positive change is created through community or citizen participation in the issues that affect them. Through recognizing these individual leaders, the Prize seeks to inspire other ordinary people to take extraordinary actions to protect the natural world.

PM's hard choices replacing female ministers

Heritage Minister Bev Oda, viewed by many Tories as a weak communicator, is widely rumoured to be facing demotion to a lower-profile portfolio, such as National Revenue. The current Revenue Minister, Carol Skelton, could be dropped because she has announced she will not run for re-election.

The puzzle of cabinet-making is complicated by the fact that polls show the Conservatives have far less support among women than men – and opposition politicians will be quick to pounce if Mr. Harper reduces the number and influence of women in cabinet.

Some Conservative insiders speculate that Mr. Harper, who has only 14 women in his caucus of 125 MPs, will look to promote a backbencher such as Diane Ablonczy, Joy Smith or Lynne Yelich, or raise junior foreign affairs minister Helena Guergis to a bigger portfolio.

LINK: Globe and Mail

Wednesday, August 8

Feminism and women of color

In this week's Addicted to Race podcast, Carmen Van Kerckhove of Racialicious and Latoya Peterson of Alter Ego Maniacs discuss why women of color sometimes feel ambivalent about feminism.

“Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender” -Alice Walker

"Womanist and womanism are populist and poetic synonyms for black feminist and black feminism. They were coined in 1983 by Alice Walker -- African American novelist, poet, essayist, and activist -- in her collection of essays, In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose.

As Walker explained to The New York Times Magazine in 1984, "I don't choose womanism because it is 'better' than feminism...Since womanism means black feminism, this would be a non-sensical distinction. I choose it because I prefer the sound, the feel, the fit of it; because I cherish the spirit of the women (like Sojourner) the word calls to mind, and because I share the old ethnic-American habit of offering society a new word when the old word it is using fails to describe behavior and change that only a new word can help it more fully see."

Womanism brings a racialized and often class-located experience to the gendered experience suggested by feminism. It also relects a link with history that includes African cultural heritage, enslavement, women's culture, and a kinship with other women, especially women of color. As Walker also told the Times, "Feminism (all colors) definitely teaches women they are capable, one reason for its universal appeal. In addition to this, womanist (i.e. black feminist) tradition assumes, because of our experiences during slavery, that black women are capable."

Oda's ouster would not be mourned

The biggest cultural development of the summer could be an impending cabinet shuffle, said to be in the works for next week.

That's because Bev Oda – who has been an enigmatic and lacklustre head of culture as heritage minister since early 2006 – is a likely target for Stephen Harper.

Oda's exit would not be a matter of profound regret to many ...........

LINK: The Star

Aboriginal Women Meet With Premiers Today

The President of the Native Women's Association of Canada is hoping to walk away from a meeting with the premiers today, armed with a financial committment.

President Jacobs says, "Although, only two hours are set aside for the meeting, what will be discussed could prove paramount to moving the Aboriginal agenda forward in areas such as health care, violence prevention, and economic and social development."

"Following the Health Summit in B.C., the Economic Summit hosted by Saskatchewan and more recently, the National Aboriginal Women’s Summit in Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador, there is no doubt we are all aware of the issues. Now is the time to act on the recommendations, but we can’t do it without a solid commitment from all provinces and territories," adds President Jacobs.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis leaders are heading into discussions united and with a goal of working in partnership with premiers as Canada’s Aboriginal peoples can no longer wait for action.


Tuesday, August 7

Angry men get ahead while angry women penalized: study

A man who gets angry at work may well be admired for it but a woman who shows anger in the workplace is liable to be seen as "out of control" and incompetent, according to a new study.

This research, conducted by Victoria Brescoll, who is a post-doctoral scholar at Yale University, will be presented at the annual meeting of the research and teaching organization, Academy of Management.

To do this research, Brescoll had her study participants watch videos of men and women job candidates who used the same or similar scripts and she asked them to estimate each candidate's salary and status.

As Gloria Steinem once said, "The truth will set you free . . . but first it will piss you off." Here's to truth, freedom, and a little righteous anger.

LINK: Washington Post
LINK: Scientific American

Breastfeeding and the employer's duty to accommodate

Bell Canada worker Hayley Cole claimed her employer did not accommodate her need for a work schedule so she could breastfeed her infant. Physicians had recommended the infant, who has a congenital heart defect, be breastfed as long as possible to strengthen his immune system. Cole’s request to end her day 1 hr earlier (unpaid) was denied. Her request for a guaranteed 4pm end of shift was eventually granted for one year but she had to provide medical documentation requiring repeated visits to her doctor.

In April 2007, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled that Bell failed to adequately accommodate Cole’s needs, mischaracterizing her as a disabled or ill employee.

“In order for a working mother to bestow on her child the benefits that nursing can provide, she may require a degree of accommodation. Otherwise, she may end up facing a difficult choice … stop nursing to continue working …; (or) abandon your job to ensure that your child will be breastfed.

This dilemma … has the potential to create the type of obstacle that would deny women an "opportunity equal to others”.” The Tribunal ordered Bell to establish a policy on accommodation; pay $7,000 compensation and wages lost getting medical notes.


Collecting Child Care stories

Saskatchewan MP and Parliamentary Secretary Lynne Yelich has announced that she is collecting personal stories from women regarding their childcare experiences for use in a parliamentary debate of care for children in the fall.

Goldman Sachs, the investment bankers, not usually known for their radical positions, have clearly identified the economic and social importance of helping women balance paid work with children. Quebec has made considerable headway in this area. The coming debate in the House of Commons needs to hear your views too.

Send a brief summary of your experience (at-home parent, grandparent, tag-team, home-school, nanny, dayhome, daycare or other circumstance) to .

Related: "A third-wave feminist legal agenda would include child-care issues"

No To Polygamy

After studying the evidence of polygamy and sexual exploitation of minors in Bountiful, a community in southeastern British Columbia, a special prosecutor retained by the province says the chances of convicting anyone are weak. Instead, he is recommending to Attorney-General Wally Oppal that the province ask the B.C. Court of Appeal for an advisory opinion on whether the Criminal Code offence of polygamy can withstand a constitutional challenge.

Women Bloggers

Despite Pew research reporting that women are actually 50% of all people who blog, corporate journalists and independent bloggers alike often prefer to fall back on the hand-wringing question, “Where are the women bloggers?” They’d know the answer if they took the time to seek us out as news sources, read our commentaries or cover events such as BlogHer.

Angel Street

Iqaluit's new 'Angel Street' remembers domestic violence victims... to commemorate victims of violence was suggested to Iqaluit city council by provincialand territorial ministers responsible for the status of women, when they ... - 35k - 2007-08-03"We thought it'd be appropriate to name a street that's going towards our women's shelter in memory of those that have either died or have been abused," Iqaluit Mayor Elisapee Sheutiapik said in an interview.

Friday, August 3

Constitutional challenge today of Canada's prostitution laws

Two Vancouver lawyers will launch a constitutional challenge today of Canada's prostitution laws, arguing they force sex workers into unsafe conditions and infringe a sex worker's right to freedom of expression."The prostitution laws . . . subject sex workers to increased risk of physical and sexual violence, psychological injury, kidnapping and death," says a statement of claim to be filed in B.C. Supreme Court."

The prostitution laws deprive sex workers of the ability to lawfully conduct their work safely because they are prevented from taking steps to establish health and safety conditions in their work," it adds.

On Thursday, lawyers Katrina Pacey of Pivot Legal LLP and Joseph Arvay planned to file the statement of claim on behalf of the Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society, a group of mostly aboriginal women, some of whom have experienced physical or sexual violence because of their work in the sex trade.

Vancouver East MP Libby Davies said she, too, feels the prostitution laws need to be contested."

The status quo is completely unacceptable, in fact it is harmful," said the NDP MP, who was part of a parliamentary committee which, despite her protests, concluded its investigation of prostitution laws in 2006 without recommending decriminalization.

Thursday, August 2

Courtside view of gender politics

On April 26, Mike Penner wrote what he thought would be the toughest article of his career. "I am a transsexual sportswriter. It has taken more than 40 years, a million tears and hundreds of hours of soul-wrenching therapy for me to work up the courage to type those words." The piece ran in the Sports section, next to his regular column.

Michael Daniel Penner returned to work on May 23 as Christine Michelle Daniels. So far, it appears to be smooth sailing. But Daniels' very public transition has put a spotlight on a culture that is slow to acknowledge, let alone attempt to rehabilitate its ingrained intolerance and bigotry.

LINK: AlterNet

Conservatives Deceiving Families with Canada Child Tax Benefit Mail Out

Conservative government propaganda being distributed to Canada's families is covering up broken child care promises and cutbacks of income support for families of young children, said Liberal Social Development Critic Ruby Dhalla.

"An insert, recently mailed out by the federal government to families who receive the Canada Child Tax Benefit, is Conservative double-speak at its most mean-spirited and hypocritical," said Ms. Dhalla.

The document informs Canadians that the Canada Child Tax Benefit families receive will no longer be impacted by the child care expenses that families claim because the supplement for children under age 7 "will no longer be a component of the CCTB calculation."

"The only reason this is true is because the Conservative government has completely eliminated the Young Child Supplement. It is extremely dishonest to dress up a broken promise not to touch the Canada Child Tax Benefits and spending cuts to income support for families in need . This government's conduct is disgraceful," said Ms. Dhalla.

The Young Child Supplement of the Canada Child Tax Benefit provided up to $20.25 monthly to parents who did not claim child-care expenses for their preschool-age children.

"The cancellation of the Young Child Supplement was an ideological decision by this Conservative government to take away benefits from low-and middle-income families in order to pay for the Universal Child Care Benefit.

"The Conservative government has received failing grades from families and child care experts for its failure to deliver new child care spaces and for its paltry, taxable child care benefit. Parents do not need propaganda, cover-ups and lies. They need viable, affordable child care solutions," said Ms. Dhalla.

LINK: Liberals

International Federation of University Women's Conference in Manchester, England

Canadian Federation of University Woman (CFUW) will have more than 45 members attending the conference.

Because American groups are not attending this year, Canadians will be more prominent at the conference, which passes resolutions on many issues, which are then forwarded to the United Nations for review.

What's good for women is good for society. When women are well protected and treated with dignity and respect and with equality, the whole society benefits," said Brundige.

Some examples of the proposed resolutions this year are the advocating for health and hygiene programs for women and girls which will ensure comprehensive education in all facets of health, hygiene and disease prevention, investigation into the short and long-term effects of depleted uranium on humans and the environment, and take action in the UN to have the use of depleted uranium in armaments declared illegal under the international laws of war and liable to prosecution in the International Criminal Court.

Labour Day: Can’t wait for child care!

Working families, students, people living on social assistance and unemployed people have been waiting three decades for quality early learning and child care. This Labour Day, let’s send a strong message: we can’t wait any longer.

CUPE’s national child care working group is encouraging locals to make child care a visible issue this Labour Day in parades, on floats, at picnics and other events.

The working group has developed some easy and creative ideas to help make this happen. Use these suggestions as a springboard to a successful Labour Day event, adding your own ideas to suit your members and community. With just over a month to go before Sept. 3, now’s the time to get organized.


Union Workload - a barrier to women surviving labour-movement leadership?

Workaholism is deeply rooted in labour-movement culture.

While unions have successfully fought to reduce the work day and week for members, these same unions demand long hours of work from their leaders. These workload expectations assume that union leaders - elected, hired, and volunteer - are men who are always available and have no competing responsibilities or interests. For those who do not fit this male-leader model, becoming and remaining a leader in the union movement is impossible or onerous.

“Becoming-Woman?” in theory or practice?:

Thanks to Brother B for this suggested blog post. It comes from the blog ZAPAGRINGO .....
weekly reflections on zapatista-inspired rebellion in the USA, Mexico, and the rest of the galaxy...originally published in the premier issue of Turbulence, June 2007

"....there is something to this linking of feminism with the politics of contemporary movements....What does it mean to see yourself as part of a movement governed by feminist and minoritarian logics when in so many of the most visible spaces, the voices and languages of women continue to be less audible? "

It is a great blog post and a must read