Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘enraged’ edition

National Blog Posting Month is a great reason to end the hiatus here at Dispatches from the Swamp. I am not sure why I have let the blog languish for so long but I have some ideas. It has been a rough six or so months. I may or may not blog about what has happened. Suffice it to say it has been difficult. I am pretty much on the other side of it all now but I still need to do lots of healing.

I have also been feeling quite overwhelmed with the world. It seems as though women are faring worse now than ever before. I have spent a fair bit of time absolutely enraged by the struggles of women just to exist in this culture. Blogging about some of these issues would mean I would have to engage with my anger when, at times, it seemed it would consume me. There have been six women raped at UBC in the last several months. Of course the response is always to beef up security for women to ensure women are accompanied on campus, especially at night. This enrages me! I think it is time that rape becomes a problem for men. What about accompanying men at night to ensure they don’t rape women? It is time we curtail the freedom of men in the same ways that women have endured, perhaps then there will be change.[1] Now, before everyone jumps on me about hating men that is not at all what I am doing. I am caring for women with this idea.

The current political state of my province and country is enraging me as well. The Harper government continues to steamroll over all that is good and decent about Canada. I have truly come to believe that this man is evil. He will not rest until the Canada we have known and loved is gone. Pipelines and the tar sands dominate the agenda and pollute our country. Our provincial government is no barrier to the whims of Harper. Even though Christy Clark has laid out her ‘5 conditions’ she will roll over like a good woman and conservative for Harper and his minions. Meanwhile our Aboriginal people are not consulted in any meaningful or honest way. They will pay lip service to listening but the deals are done.

The only hope I see on the political front is my most favourite senator of all time Mike Duffy. Yes he has taken advantage of loose, honour system rules with regard to expense claims, and clearly he has no ethics. The only person Mike Duffy is loyal to is himself. He was content to play along with Harper, taking the fall and suffering the disgrace as long as his livelihood was protected. Once Harper cut him loose and allowed the Conservative majority in the senate to try to suspend Duffy without pay, Duffy went on the offensive. Personally, I believe that the PMO has orchestrated this whole thing including telling Duffy what to say and when. Clearly Harper never thought this whole thing through or he could have predicted Duffy going on the offensive. All the skills for which Harper appointed Duffy and turned him into one of his best fundraisers could also be used against Harper. Go Duffy go!

[1] I know not all men are rapists, in fact most men are decent people.

Why we need a new social contract

Over the past three decades we have seen the decimation of the social contract between us, the governed, and our collective governments. As pursuing profit at all costs has become the new religion, our governments have breached their responsibility to us. Continued privatization and deregulation has opened up more ways for corporations to rob us at every turn. Whether it is as a consumer or an employee, the social contract is gone.

Take the latest example of corporate greed. Caterpillar, a company that makes billions in profits, has locked out its employees in London, Ontario. Caterpillar wants to reduce wages by over 50%, add co-pays to benefits and force employees to pay 25% of the cost. It has been common for manufacturers to ask employees to take a pay cut but 50% is unheard of. It is not like this company is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Apparently, Caterpillar has a reputation of extracting concessions from its workers by waiting out their unionized employees until they are desperate.

Where is the intervention of the federal government? How come at the whiff of a labour dispute at Air Canada had Lisa Raitt running to the Industrial Relations Board? Where is she on this one? This is union-busting at its finest and clearly the Harper government couldn’t care less. Why is it ok to force a 50% compensation reduction on a group of legally unionized workers? Surely if a company does not have monetary pressures to demand these concessions, it ought to be illegal.

If the government(s) can’t protect us what are we to do? Clearly there is something seriously wrong with our system. It is time that people wake up and withdraw their consent to be governed. Once again, the Occupiers have it right.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘I am f*cking depressed’ edition

  • The above video of some beagles who have lived in wire cages as test dogs for their entire lives. They have never been outside, felt the sun or the grass beneath their feet. The fact that something like this exists in our world is so fucking disturbing. Are there not laws that mandate how animals must be treated? It is absolutely heartbreaking to watch these dogs take their first steps on grass! One dog actually falters because he doesn’t know how to walk outside of a cage. I know that I am going to research every product I use and make another choice if it is tested on animals. I urge you all to do the same.
  • Still on the animal front, I posted this blog from SAINTS yesterday on Twitter and Facebook. Carol highlights animals who ended up at SAINTS in spite of being a loved and desired pet. Minnie Pearl is a dog who ended up at SAINTS because her family had a divorce and when she could no longer be used as a pawn in the battle she was dumped. Here’s the thing people – if you go out and get that cute puppy, kitten or other animal you must make a commitment to that animal for the rest of its life. If you don’t think you can do this then get a virtual pet. Live animals require care and sacrifice. If you are thinking about adding a companion animal to your family please find one at a shelter or rescue.
  • Now we will move on to people. It is unfathomable that in 2011, in a fully developed country like Canada we have the Red Cross going into the Aboriginal village of Attawapiskat to provide direct relief! Then, in typical paternal fashion, the Federal government is appointing a third-party administrator. Seriously folks our paternalistic attitudes towards First Nations is the reason things are so bad. First Nations must be given the resources they need embrace their culture and thrive. In order to this though they require appropriate housing and a predictable source of income. There are so many examples of First Nations succeeding when they are given control of the economic levers. Paternalism will never succeed and gives us things like Residential Schools.
  • Oh and I failed miserably at NaBloPoMo this year!

Prison Farms

Canada Corrections, in its ‘infinte wisdom,’ has decided to close Canada’s prison farms. Their reason? Apparently the farms cost too much to maintain and very few prisoners who worked on the farms went on to get jobs in agricultural. Sadly, the government’s short-sighted view will compromise the ability of Corrections Canada to rehabilitate inmates.

Working in agricultural is about so much more than getting a job out of prison. Some of these farms had livestock. Anyone who has been around farm animals in any capacity would know the healing power of animals. Looking after the animals gives people a sense of responsibility and pride in their accomplishments. They would need to approach the work calmly and kindly to be effective. Inmates would be able to see the effects of their behaviour on other live beings – this is serious rehabilitation that could not be replicated. Forming caring relationships, even with animals is a key element in any rehabilitation.

Growing crops may not seem like a skill set needed in our technical society. Starting something, setting goals and seeing something through to the finish are invaluable, transferable skills. Many people who commit crimes do so because either they do not have other skills or they do not believe that they do. Agriculture is hard work. Inmates who have been successful doing hard work have a much better chance at integrating into back into society.

Corrections Canada is responsible for incarcerating and rehabilitating convicted criminals. While the prison farms may not have turned a profit, they certainly provided locally grown food and rehabilitation opportunities to inmates. Providing skills and a sense of pride and accomplishment gives a great deal to the inmates. In doing their work on the farms they would learn patience and perseverance. They would need to work together so that the farm was both safe and successful. The government has yet to announce a replacement for the prison farms beyond ‘decommissioning’ the farms. What a sad outcome.