my addictions extend beyond the House

may i just say about tomorrow's opposition day debate that i'm looking forward to irene mathyssen working more of her spunk as she continues her 1.5 week long coming out as a respectable scrapper. how much did i love her calling the tory cuts an attempt at "de-fanging" the women's movement [the photo at that link shows irene with penny in a headlock - now that's feisty]. oh and also, not that ANYONE should give a rat's ass about who politicians sleep with, but i got to thinking: if she rises tomorrow on the resolution about women's issues, what kind of crap will They fling at belinda? would They be able to resist? [holy shit, as i type, tanya kim is 'reporting' about the belinda/tie relationship - jesus].

omigod, i can't seem to talk about anything other than this swc thing. i'm not a uni-issue kinda gal. i have things to say about the new fall tv season, for instance. there are hard questions to pose about calista flockhart's face, as revealed last week in her new show (and were all those cheeky references to body size between her and her 'brother' really necessary?) ... and about meredith's annoying decision to date - not choose between - mcdreamy and the vet. i'd rather eat glass than watch celebrity duets, but can't help but loosely monitor the contrived racial wars on survivor. speaking of race, did all four brown people have to get eliminated from the amazing race on episode one? and what's up with those twins on the new cycle of antm?

i suppose if i were to weigh in on musharraf on the daily show last night, it would be a perfect blend of my news/politics and pop culture junkie sides. but i'm distracted.

7 more sleeps til lost returns to me ... *sigh*

opposition day

thursday is opposition day. the liberals are dedicating the whole thing to the status of women file. i'll be riveted to cpac mid to late afternoon when maria minna - lover of garish lipstick and earnestness - intends to stand up from the liberal pen and float this resolution:

"That, in the opinion of the House, the government fails to recognize the many roles of women in Canadian society and the importance of providing all Canadian women with equal opportunity; and the House objects to the government's partisan and discriminatory cuts in federal support for women's programs and services."

given all the fuckery of the past week, aka 'trimming the fat' (thanks, flaherty, for your deep concern over MY diet), who knows what kind of debate minna will spark. wow me, please. because this is Go Time. unless the opposition rocks the House hard, and fast, we may as well sit back and watch the mike harris-ing that will ensue. if we peered into harper's How I Spent My Summer Vacation essay, it would say "i fantasized about using the next parliamentary session to finally show people we mean business. i'm hankering to get back to the office and start rolling out my own common sense revolution. first, equality. then, social services. then, civil liberties! if things go according to plan, the right people will be impressed, the right people will be pissed, and i'll land us a majority in the spring."

no one, for one second, should under-estimate harper. this is no starry-eyed career politician. he's not a party mouthpiece. he's a bona fide STRATEGIST, people. he's been THE strategist for over 15 years. let's not kid ourselves. harper, along with the likes of ezra levant and tom flanagan, has been crafting every painstaking detail of the conservative plan for a Very Long Time. harper came to work. and he doesn't fuck around.


cases of smart

a good blogging samaritan has posted a whole bunch of thumbnails of cases initiatied by the court challenges program, one of the targets of yesterday's harper government stealth attack on equality.

status of women - halved

yesterday was crazy. most everyone - including well-placed insiders - were stunned by the announcements to slash swc's budget in half and to annihilate the brilliant court challenges program.

slick move, harper et al. cut at the knees an agency whose budget hardly registers as a blip on the federal funding radar but whose incapacitation sends a resounding and deliberate message to your support base. it's not like joe and jill voter know very much about the department. your attack is stealth, strategic. the women's movement is concerned, but hardly in a position to mobilize against your action what with you preserving the budget for the program that funds us - for now. clever.

well, by now it should be clear to everyone that you are intending to send us to the polls right quickly. baby step by baby step, seems you're using the fall session to lay the groundwork for a campaign that will demand voters give you a majority so that you can wreak less subtle damage.

here's a little something we wrote yesterday about your quiet but tacit retreat from federal involvement in ensuring equality in canada. well actually, you've flipped the bird to equality, period.


First they came for childcare. Then they came for same-sex marriage. Then they came for gun control. And now, it appears they have come for women’s equality.

Today’s announcement of the federal government’s 5 million dollar cut to Status of Women Canada (SWC) is a serious attack on the lone department engaged in the development of gender policy, gendered budget analysis, as well as international and inter-governmental matters as they relate to gender. SWC is home to the Women’s Program which funds organizations that monitor and work to uphold Canada’s accountability to the principles of equality enshrined in the Charter and in the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

This announcement follows last week’s 11th hour restitution of federal funding to some national women’s organizations, and appears to be the latest cat-and-mouse game being played with the values held by a majority of Canadians.

We now see the government’s real priorities revealed.

The strength and integrity of SWC is integral to the efforts of organizations that work to protect universal women’s rights. We do work such as this because while crucial legal reforms that grant equality to women in Canada have been accomplished, the substance of daily life for many women fails to live up to the promise that formal structures indicate.

Most Canadians are proud of our free society of equals. But those at the front line who work with women every single day – in shelters, job centres, food banks, children’s services, housing agencies, and support groups across the country – bear witness to the failure of this promise daily.

The hundreds of women who die at the hands of their male partners each year and thousands more who flee their homes in fear for their and their children’s lives are stark evidence that formal equality, while necessary, is hardly sufficient in creating the conditions of true equality for women and girls. This gap between real-life experience and legal equality is the basis for much of the work undertaken by women’s groups in Canada and SWC, who supports it. And until now, they were together supported at the bargain-basement cost of $24 million federal dollars a year (compared to the $15 billion announced by Harper in June for military vehicles over the next few years).

These cuts by the federal government give us no choice but to ask some serious questions before we next go to the polls:

During an era of record federal surpluses, how come we are at depression levels of financing for social investment?

How is it that a so-called “fiscally responsible” government could take on a 45 billion dollar surplus, yet in a few short months, seems poised to present a bare cupboard for our social values?

At a time when fatal violence against women in their own homes shocks Canadians at their TV sets each night, our patchwork of excellent but under-funded shelters is deemed adequate enough?

Since when is a five dollar a day baby bonus somehow plausible as universal quality childcare?

Is pay equity really such an archaic notion because “a girl can do anything a boy can do” while employed women still make 71 cents to the male dollar?

When four out of five sexual assaults against minors is committed against a girl, why is it that anyone calling for social change is said to be behaving like a “victim”?

We should all be concerned about gutting the only institution set up to assist us in answering these questions. Surely none of us want to wake up to find there is no one left to fight for the Canada we all want to live in.

- 30 -


cleverly marginal

among many other interesting bloggers i am coming to know through the progressive bloggers community which i recently became a part of because, well, you know, we all just wanna belong (you may have noticed the new snazzy link on my left side), there's polly. her blog is smart, relevant, and sassy. she and i seem to have similar interests and World Views and such, and that would be enough for me to dig her. but then this week she copped to actually making it through jeffrey sachs' book which is no small feat (i read and met sachs last year when i organized his ottawa visit for make poverty history and the man is Heavy). THEN polly posted about rebuttals to sachs from one of my idols (who i have also had the pleasure of meeting and can describe to be heavy too, but the Awesome kind).

today i happened to notice that polly has me listed in her left column, under 'notable' no less.
blush blush. so i've added her marginal notes to my modest blogroll. high 5s grrl, i think we're new friends.


american pie

resisted buying homemade pies, candies, and preserves yesterday when i took a drive to a nearby "general store". i did, however, pick up some locally-made granola and let me tell you, it was divine with my fruit and cottage cheese this morning. my drive yesterday got me reflecting on all my experiences i've had in various american places. i can't claim any real appreciation of what northern vermont is like - i've barely breached the self-imposed parameter around the squirrel parade that is this cottage. but this area has a similar feel to parts of wisconsin or maine or oregon. nothing on earth feels like new york. and places that start with "las" or "los" have lots in common: los angeles, las vegas, los miami.

some things are totally reliable no matter where you are in this magnificent country. oh, you quirky americans with your
fractions on highway distance signage, your confusing but deeply entertaining elections [claude and i will be asking "what's happened to bernie?" in that condescending lilt for, like, ever], your crazy ballot initiatives, your insistence on using 're' instead of 'er' at the end of words like 'centre', your penchant for abrasive verbal delivery, your patriotism as decor.

temperature is dropping. our trek to montpelier to see this was postponed today on account of greyness and damp. more reading and writing it was for me. no, i did not press big awkward letters onto lined paper with a chubby pencil. i did, however, manage to make some progress on a couple of position statements for miss vicky and whip up a progress report for mcss for a client so that's pretty neat. i even got to deek back into claude's studio to lay down a few more vocal tracks - i shall never tire of putting on those honking headphones and singing into a screened mic. now to pull out my "to be paid" file and take care of some outstanding bills. aw yeeah, we're whooping it down here at the cottage. and that chicken smells mighty fine in the oven.


vermont is nice

we have apparently rented the House of Knick Knacks near a village called north hero in the champlain islands of vermont, just east of the new york state border and just underneath quebec. the nearest town of any significant size is burlington, about 35 minutes away, which we visited on tuesday after I discovered my modem cable didn't fit; when we found a (hottie, no less) computer guy, he slid the damn thing right into the laptop. i felt like an ass. we decided the trip was not a total bust thanks to a lively visit to this borders during which several dvd box-sets were unnecessarily purchased and I got hit on hard by a adorable chubby black man named mikey [in related news, i finally own all 3 seasons of the entirely inappropropriate strangers with candy that i had scoured the ottawa valley to rent or buy, to no avail]. tomorrow, we will drive down to montpelier so I can take obligatory shots of the state capitol building and claude can push through his thrift store shopping list.

vermont is nice, by the way, and has a great vibe about it. i have set up my workspace at a large window overlooking a stunning lake with faint hills on the horizon and open sky [if i'd remembered to bring the usb transfer cord thingy for my camera, i'd show you]. as i write, i listen to tunes and the fire beside me, i watch waves making their mysterious journey, i laugh at little woodland creatures scurrying across the yard, i smell good smells.

autumn is definately upon us - my feet are constantly cold and I sport a thick scarf around my neck most of the time. perfect walking weather, though. i am reading a couple of interesting books in bed at night: "what should i do with my life" by po bronson and "dropped threads vol 3", a series of essays by canadian women writers.

claude is good company. we're figuring out each other's space and pace. he seems really content in this setting, pursuing the music like a man on a mission. we had intended to dance for one hour every night, but so far that dream hasn't been realized.

i hate dial-up internet. i really really do. but i think it's good for me to have strained access to the techie habits that make up most of my days. the challenge, though, has been keeping up with the fast-paced developments in my world Back Home. having offered pro bono media relations help to national women's groups, i've had a hell of a time staying on top of this week's news cycle and in touch with journalists from this quaint locale. but i AM catching up on paid work, as intended, and hopefully by monday i'll carve out the kind of time i want to do some personal writing. i mean, i'm not going to try and force some contrived notion of creativity [ok, you are in an idyllic setting with nature and silence as inspiration - now quick, BE BLISSED OUT AND CREATIVE dammit]. i will, however, attempt to let go of shit enough to float into a less cluttered place in which creativity and i might meet and do some cool stuff, however momentarily. and that Would be bliss.

oda goes yoda

it's not that ndp status of women critic irene mathyssen isn't well-intentioned. omigod, she SURE is. but i never expected her press conference - held on tuesday with the full complement of women ndp mps - would make the radar in the week's news cycle. but then mathyssen, the bq's mourani, and surprising others, spent the week on their feet in QP hammering the minister about her chilling silence towards the women's groups who have been waiting for months to hear about their applications for grant funding from swc (and we all know about the crazy buzz there's been about whether swc will or should be killed).

and here i thought afghanistan and other Important News would shut out women's program funding from the news. and anyways, reporters were unsure what to make of the oda peppering. i spoke with jennifer ditchburn who wavered about whether or not to even file a story, given the rapidly-changing and precarious developments in ottawa on this matter. but she did. (she's the cp writer who covered irene's press conference).

so oda caved. late tonight, fafia got word via formal letter from the minister herself that their funding application has been granted. and by tomorrow morning, we'll know who else got rushed letters from the woman who went from oda to yoda after 2.5 days of medium level media coverage. not like these approvals have been pending since may. they are likely a panic change of attack for a government that maybe suspected it could quietly make disappear an entire sector of equality-seeking groups. oda got wise, finally, and will close out the week with some talking points about how these applications were never in doubt, the orgs were never in peril, etc.

we can only wait and see what yoda's intended announcement yields regarding swc's mandate changes. it's expected next week. and if oda stays yoda about things, we can all breath a bit easier that women's equality is still a government concern, at least til 07. jesus.


thin cam

audra posted earlier about a new digital camera that has a "slimming" feature - she even sent me an email about it, with the subject line "OH GOD."

i haven't clicked over to the web-based promos, but i'm thinking i shan't. my new digital camera works just fine for me, thank you very much, and if i want monuments or trees or obtrusive buildings to slim down in my shots, i'll take a few steps back. as for animate subjects like humans, say, well there's always photoshop. or The Truth.


maher day

i am right now in a country that had the good sense to splash maher all over the front pages of major papers and broadcast news, citing it as the first example of a big "mistake" made in the name of the war on terror. thank you, washington post et al, for noticing.

the incomparable maher is a headline today thanks to his long-awaited exoneration. the closing of this chapter in his painful story has now opened the door for him to seek retribution. and he's going for it. his case against canada is a strong one, if not bleak. and so he's suing canada for something like 450 million. fuck. ok. get it and run, i say. when maher was addressed in the house of commons today, harper made no actual apology, but he sure tried to sound regretful. nice.

guess i'm feeling glad this thing is getting done for maher, that the media hasn't forgotten him, and that the right lines are seemingly being drawn between this story and the Bigger Point - that the so-called war on terror is executed with very real costs to very innocent people.

the news flurry today transported me instantly to when maher returned home from his syrian torture hell. alex neve - our head cheese at amnesty - called from the trudeau airport in montreal where he was waiting to greet maher right off the plane. all us staff were gathered in the board room of the amnesty office to greet alex when he got back to ottawa to recount in precise detail every moment of the mayhem that surrounded maher in that airport. later, when we were visited at the office by maher himself, most of us fumbled our words when attempting to convey to him, meekly, how honoured we were to say hi. for me, it was a surreal experience - the abstract work life collided poignantly with a real life moment, an in-the-flesh person to touch and talk to, who brings into sharp real-life focus every reason for every thing we do, and why.


plug for pam two

gotta help promote this amazing event on behalf of my pal, pam #2. if you are anywhere near the national capital region this weekend, attend this. it's going to be really cool.

do you live in one place, work in another, shop in another, and play in yet another?

been stuck in traffic lately? starting to worry about the quality of the air in ottawa? are you one of the 77% of voters in ottawa who did not vote in the last municipal election? feeling the $75 million cuts to city services in 2004? wish your neighbourhood was more of a community?

come to Imagine Ottawa – a city social forum september 22nd and 23rd.

hear from local experts on some of ottawa’s problems relating to housing, poverty, democracy, environment, arts, culture, and community. learn how you can make a difference. meet organizations working to make a difference. share your vision of this city you call home. meet others in your area to think about what issues you want to see addressed in the november municipal election and beyond.

another ottawa is possible...


yes minister

i am beaming like a proud mama with the news that brother warren has been appointed to cabinet. with this announcement, calvert seems to be correcting a noticed mistake. we'll take it, thanks lorne. so the former lumberjack-y grunge-y activist is now the minister of corrections and public safety in the saskatchewan government. let us all rest easier.

at the risk of sounding like a eulogist, warren was a key influence on this naive student activist. we called him 'brother warren'. he was burly, bearded, and a force. i first met him during campus organizing around the lloyd axworthy reforms in 94. from then on, warren was a solid comrade in whatever team was organizing. we accomplished some cool shit during our time with the synd (the battle against the sask gov't on gun control still haunts me). and when we weren't coordinating the historic student strike of jan 25th 95 or working to elect progressives to student government, he was a common fixture in the women's centre i ran - peacefully passing time on the couch amidst the feminists, discussing the issues of the day. if his current approach is anything like it was during those heady years, that caucus and cabinet have in warren a thoughtful, sharp, and trustworthy colleague.

warren was razzed hard when he decided to run for a seat in the legislature. i wasn't there, but he endured a fair bit of taunting about being a sell-out. people, including myself, were rolling eyes at the thought that any effective good could happen anywhere but from the outside.

but time rolls on. opinions evolve. i can't speak for my former activist allies back home, but i can no longer be hard on people who chose to run. i don't judge warren, i support him. about a month ago, i had the good fortune to be seated at the firepit behind brother warren's cottage in the stunning qu'appelle valley. he was speaking reflectively about his time as a politician, the challenges, the compromises. and despite a distinct weariness in his tone, the sound of faith was palpable. they may not be making it easy for him, he may be putting up with ageism and elitism, and sometimes it feels like an emotional and mental meat grinder, but warren still believes he can make a difference in there.

so that's good enough for me. it's a comfy lefter-than-thou place from which we would cast stones at allies in the struggle who put their name on a ballot. who the fuck am i to determine where someone can or can't be politically satisfied. fact of the matter is, few of us have the balls it takes to ante up and play at the decision-maker's table. we sure do our best in the trenches, but folks like warren suit up and actually go in. and i appreciate it.

speaking of suiting up, this guy who worked at cupe national in ottawa for awhile is running a catchy campaign for mayor of winnipeg. he's pretty serious about it, and it looks like his rainbow-studded bid is getting lots of attention. i never really knew he had civic ambitions - best memory i have of kaj is the two of us hanging on the periphery of an ndp christmas party on the hill making terribly inappropriate cracks about the mp's lack of fashion sense and singing talent. go kaj go! shake it up like miss vicky is doing here in your nation's capital.


from the twisted mind of

take a semi-confident woman in pursuit of good work and good politics, mix with a serious bout of political fatigue and emotional angst, and whadya get? an unsure neurotic who has fashioned a couch fort out of blankies and a yoga mat, who is clutching a jar of kraft smooth peanut butter and a single spoon. i'm not coughy or snotty or pukey, but this has been a week of utter sick. in the head.

it's not so bad though. to keep the mental chops cut, have slid into sporadic bouts of writing - ongoing advocacy project for cpf, prelim text for feminist web project that audra and i hope to launch soon, personal rants about love and lack of it.

funny thing about this sort of temp funk is that my Intellectual Self knows exactly what's wrong and exactly what to do. my Child Self, however, wants to curl up and just feel really bad about taunting questions like Can We Ever Win, Who Fucking Cares, What Am I Doing, Does It Matter, What Does He Want, What Do I Want...

late night convo with girlfriend 13 hours ago yielded these actual statements, which we decided would make heelarious blog post titles. figure out who said which (mom, stop reading here):

- i fucked paul wells
- is he a grower or a shower?
- foreskin is fascinating
- i have lube hand prints on my ceiling

ok, ok, snapping out of this will occur forthwith. it's no big deal, though, to feel really shitty about things for a minute and dabble in agoraphobia, mmkay?


quebec hangover

2 days back from quebec city and still barely functioning. had full intentions of posting 'live' from convention floor, but doing so would have required the availability of ten consecutive minutes and a power source, and that just wasn't panning out.

the short version: we showed up in droves, showed strongly on the floor, and impressed lots of people. when the declaration passed, overwhelmingly, there were ovations and hugs all around. it was pretty emotional. pierre cried a little bit, and he wasn't alone. the party we threw at a local bar was, by all accounts, a success - over the course of consuming two demi-caraffes of red wine, i told an incredibly stupid personal story to a former member of the quebec campaign staff and got my hair embarassingly caught on some guy's watch. the debates on afghanistan and lebanon were great. keifer was great. nathan was adorable. perhaps not surprisingly, there were chicanes inside the quebec caucus meeting, but all turned out well and so i am trying not to think about how humiliated i felt on behalf of all people who actually appreciate meeting decorum.

now, i feel deplete of pretty much everything. what i really need to do is dive back into everything that lacked my attention these past weeks, yet i can't seem to transition back to 'real' work and real life. i'm late on getting the first draft of the advocacy booklet to these kind folks. i'm (perpetually) late on some help for vicky's campaign. i'm late on connecting with certain community groups on behalf of this cool client. and i'm late in getting the hell out of dodge to join claude on our Much Deserved artistic retreat. so basically, lateness all around and some back pain in the mix for good measure.

i shall also confess to feeling some heartache too. there is, of course, the inevitable Low that hits when the frenetics of an intense weekend come to an abrupt halt. but then there's this. the fatigue led to rawness which led to sadness that has exposed some shit. now i'm marinating in it for a bit instead of clamoring back to denial. but stuff is getting out - this is probably a very good thing, even if it makes me want to curl up in the fetal position and vaporize.

speaking of flaking out, i spent 9-11 horizontal, fantasizing about getting fired by everybody, forever. i was proud of myself for managing to avoid almost all coverage of any commemoration news. though i will say kudos to cbc sunday night for airing evan solomon's piece about 9-11 conspiracy theories instead of a story about terror or wreaths or dumb presidents.


kill em with info

we threw some potentially surprising factoids onto the back of the handbill we will be distributing to delegates at convention this weekend. i really dig it.
the front is pretty great too.
squinting? click on it.

kiefer by video-satellite, but still

kiefer is apparently confirmed to introduce his own mama at convention this weekend, sadly not in the flesh But Still. that's not why i'm wound up though. i just told a friend it is the Buzz - disturbing though it may be - that makes me simultaneously loathe and love political gatherings like a federal convention. this buzz is the pale, far less hip cousin of the election campaign - federal, that is (provincial or municipal election buzzes are the distant relatives you only see at an occasional wedding or a familiy reunion that you attend under duress, kicking and screaming and swearing you are only going to stay for one game of pictionary, then you're fucking outta there).

we are busy beavers here in the belle province, scrambling around to tidy up the place before the guests from the RoC drops in. over 700 of them will board a special ndp train in montreal on thursday night. it never occured to me how cool and crazy this thing would become. imagine an Entire Train filled with hundreds of giddy new democrats. unless the policy geeks take over and start reading aloud from the resolutions package, that train might actually turn out to be a pretty good time.

i'll miss it - opting, of course, to head up to quebec city early to join my quebec ndp colleagues in forming what might be the leanest welcoming committee ever, but here's hoping. it's just one of the things we're up to this weekend. and our humble welcome wagon will morph into one of the largest quebec caucuses in ndp history. 120 or so of us will test our diplomacy skills in attempting to convey to our pan-can colleagues that we are indeed a project worth getting behind. at least that's what i've been pep talking us to do. but let's face it - we all know you just can't 'teach' people about the importance of quebec, politically speaking. i'm no longer an idealist on this point: people either get it or they don't, and very few can fake the middle ground. so perhaps our most important objective this weekend is to successfully shepherd the Declaration de Sherbrooke through its resolutions block, then to the floor. confession: i don't want it to pass thanks to successful vote-getting by the politically agile. it sorta feels like a referendum, in a way, and if the chair has to resort to roll call when the cards go up, we'll have lost... regardless.

hey, do you suppose it's the potential debate on national unity that drew these numbers? aw shucks, really you guys? we didn't know you cared. for real though, i can't get over that this is the 2nd largest non-leadership convention in party history (at least that's what i heard). i have to admit that as the quebec section, we're pretty stoked that 1500 delegates have decided to show up in our backyard. god only knows what hell might break out on plenary floor - we all know what kind of pain a few crazed policy wonks can inflict - but i can confirm we are hosting a soiree quebecoise at a local watering hole on friday night and so at least 200 thirsty delegates can hide out there for awhile.

i've been swamped with comms stuff, coordinating our little promo handbill that tells delegates a few things they might not know about the ndp in quebec; updating the website; prepping the media advisory; and planning for my gig as agente de presse for this guy. i'm already pooped and i haven't even left my home office yet.

but Woo F-ing Hoo i gots the convention fever in me and that means sleep doesn't feel particularly necessary, nor does sustained attention to Other Work for longer than 30 minutes at a time. i'm not saying i'm proud of this affliction, but i have come to terms with it.