Save the Fraser Declaration Day

Today is the third anniversary of the Save the Fraser Declaration which has been signed by a coalition of Aboriginal groups in BC. Vancouver Mayor, Gregor Robertson, even declared today, December 13, 2012, Save the Fraser Declaration Day in Vancouver. An excerpt from the Declaration lays out exactly what they plan to do to stop the Northern Gateway Pipeline:

We will not allow the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines, or similar Tar Sands projects, to cross our lands, territories and watersheds, or the ocean migration routes of Fraser River salmon.

It is so clear and succinct.

There are so many reasons to oppose this pipeline it is hard to know where to begin. The process underway is inherently racist and does not provide any meaningful consultation with First Nations. Today on BC Almanac, a caller related an anecdote about a First Nations Elder testifying at one of the hearings. Apparently he was continually interrupted to put his answers in the appropriate, legalistic language being used at the hearings. A request to have someone help him with this was denied. If the process itself is a barrier to participation how can there be any meaningful dialogue?

Another major issue with this pipeline is that we are shipping unprocessed bitumen out of the country without processing it. This means jobs that could be created here are being shipped out of the country along with the bitumen. This has been a perennial problem in our ‘hewers of wood and drawers of water’ approach to research development/exploitation. We always seem to sell out our resources to the highest bidder.

Opposition to the Northern Gateway Pipeline will be huge in BC. Not only will the government have to manage Aboriginal opposition, the environmental lobby will also be out in full force to stop it. The pipeline is not a wedge issue though as most British Columbians are well aware of the project and many oppose it. In fact, I don’t think I have met one person who supports it. Given the dictatorial nature of our Federal Government, I can also imagine that they will try to ram the pipeline through BC regardless of our opposition. This will not go over well in this province. We have a long and storied tradition of effective opposition that has stopped other projects. Given the excerpt from the declaration above, I can imagine an Oka like standoff in Northern BC. And I will support it. I would even be prepared to go and stand shoulder to shoulder with First Nations.

Dispatches from The Swamp – the ‘rant edition’

It’s been a while since I have done a rant post so here goes!


Why, oh why, do the BC RCMP insist on setting up HOV lane checks on Highway 1 during rush hour? Here is why this is a stupid idea: the mere presence of the RCMP on the highway causes a back up. Seriously, you could just park an unoccupied cruiser on the highway, with no officers in sight, and that highway backs up for miles. I have actually asked them this question, via twitter, and they say they are there because people complain about HOV lane cheaters. I call bullshit. I would like to meet one of these people who would rather sit in traffic for an extra 45 minutes just to have the RCMP nail the cheaters.[1] So here is how I see it – the BC RCMP create the situation that causes people to cheat by going into the HOV lane by creating such a backup that people lose it in frustration. Sounds a helluva lot like entrapment if you ask me. The number of times they are out there during rush hour has increased incredibly. The cynic in me believes that the RCMP know they are going to lose this revenue stream once the new lanes come on line and the new Port Mann is open. Why else would they be doing this so much right now? I have been commuting into Vancouver for 6 years and they only started doing this recently. The other thing that pisses me off about this is all the costs incurred by traffic snarls. Think of the gas (pollution created) burned, the time spent and the overall cost to the economy to have so many people sitting in traffic so they can catch some cheaters. Seriously, BC RCMP stop it now!

My ‘discussion’ on Twitter with @BCRCMP


I am a little late to the party on this one but here goes anyway. So, last winter the feds parachuted in a ‘third-party’ manager into Attawapiskat to deal with the housing crisis. Instead of owning up to their part in the housing crisis there, the feds accused the Band of mismanagement. The Band challenged this decision in court, rightly so. It turns out that the federal government over-reached its authority and, in fact, there was no mismanagement at all. To add insult to injury, the manager appointed by the Harper Conservatives, had been fired by another Band. It is time that Canada steps up and recognizes First Nations as the experts on their lives and needs. We have treated First Nations so abhorrently there is nothing we can do to apologize for residential schools, the robbing of culture and the complete disregard for their right to self-governance. We must pressure our federal politicians to do the right thing. And, as winter quickly approaches, there is still not enough housing in Attawapiskat; people are still living in the treatment centre and substandard housing.


It seems that the Parti Quebecois has made a decision to become secular and remove religious paraphernalia from the Province’s National Assembly. It seems that Monsieur Tremblay is a Catholic and in his little pea brain he believes that Christians have a right to promote express their religion in all aspects of Quebec and Canadian culture. His reasoning is that Canada is a ‘Christian’ country founded on ‘Christian’ beliefs. While he is technically correct that Christianity informs a great deal of our culture, that doesn’t make it right. What is even more disturbing is that he is singling out one PQ candidate: Djemila Benhabib. It seems that Ms. Benhabib[2] had the audacity to support the PQ’s secularist stance and she supports removing the crucifix from the National Assembly. In the year of our whatever 2012, religion has no place in politics. Separation of church and state people. Monsieur Tremblay believes so strongly that he is right that he is appealing a human rights case so that he can continue to recite a Christian prayer to open council meetings. The clip of him speaking with Bernard St. Laurent of the CBC was so racist and dripping with white, male privilege! Because Ms. Benhabib was not born in Canada, he believes she does not have any right to express an opinion on the subject. In his mind, he can’t go to Algeria and assert Christian supremacy so she should just accept Canada’s Christian values. He does say she is free to be a Muslim. Wow, big of him. I am sure she is very relieved that she can practice a religion in Canada!

I am not a big fan of organized religion. It has been used to keep the masses in line. So much has been done in the name of religion that it really boggles the mind. I have studied a fair bit of religious history and honestly I do not see any upside. I believe people can be spiritual but bowing down to an angry, punitive god is not on my agenda. Our society is growing increasingly secular which is a good thing. And don’t forget that Monsieur Tremblay’s brand of Christianity is Catholicism. This is a religion that does not want people thinking for themselves EVER! They are not even allowed to interpret the bible for themselves – they must rely on priests. They believe in transubstantiation whereby the priests can turn wine and bread into the blood and body of Christ.[3] Attendance at mass is down in most of the developed world perhaps due to the sheer number of children abused by pedophile priests, supported by the Vatican. Don’t even get me started on Benedict.


This lovely gem is fresh from the news today. I don’t even know what to say. I cannot believe that she and I inhabit the same planet. I don’t believe in capital punishment but if she is convicted of animal cruelty, I would flip the switch myself. I doubt I am alone in this one.

[1] Yes, it is frustrating to see people cheat the HOV system. Personally, I would rather focus on my driving than worry what others are doing.

[2] Commenting on her name on As it Happens last night, Monsieur Tremblay stated that it was ‘unpronounceable.’ Apparently in his world the only names acceptable are ones familiar to him. Privilege run amok here folks.

[3] Hello, critical thinking skills!

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!

Just Keep Your Head in the Sand

The BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) has done an investigation into how the RCMP treats people in northern BC. Apparently, there have been many issues and tensions growing between the RCMP and the population. Of course, anyone who pays attention to politics in BC could have predicted what they would find when they did a consultation. Reports of First Nations people and the homeless being subjected to illegal arrest, racial profiling and illegal search and seizure were some of the major concerns. The BCCLA published the complaints anonymously understandably to protect peoples’ privacy.

The RCMP was not invited to the party for whatever reason. I am sure we can speculate. Perhaps it was felt that if they were there they might have retaliated. If people were not guaranteed anonymity maybe they may not have come forward. Now, the RCMP say they are not going to investigate these abuses of power.

Clearly the RCMP has no intention of taking action on members who behave badly. You would think given all of the issues with the RCMP of late they would be more than willing to work with the BCCLA to make some positive change. Obviously the RCMP is very comfortable policing small town BC.

Maybe it is time to get rid of the RCMP as an answer to local policing for small communities. Obviously, small towns like Terrace are not going to be able to create their own forces. However, with some provincial leadership, there is no reason why a provincial police force cannot be created. This will take leadership, serious leadership. Perhaps the next step for the BCCLA is to talk to the various leadership candidates in both the BC Liberal Party and the BC NDP to see any leadership can be found. The citizens of BC deserve more fair policing.

I am fuming…

I have not found a link for this story I heard on the CBC News yet. Hopefully it will be posted tomorrow. Anyway it was about a Native man who stole 3 bottles of mouthwash when he was drunk. He was, of course, convicted. His lawyer thought that the judge in the case would take into account his background. He was marginalized and disenfranchised and had been an alcoholic since he was sixteen. He had been convicted seventy times for petty crimes over the years. His lawyer argued that he receive a 3-month sentence. The judge sentenced him to a year. A year for the theft of items that did not amount to $20. An appeal court upheld the conviction saying that the trial judge had not erred and that, in fact, she had served the public interest. Great, it is so important to protect us all from mouthwash thieves.

I think the public interest could be better served with a much different plan. What about treatment? Clearly this man needs some help. He needs rehab and a program not a cell and guards. How about some education? He never finished high school because he was kicked out in grade 6. What about some higher education? Maybe some cultural expression could help him connect with his roots. We all know that without culture people do not have roots and stability.

Instead, he will spend a year in jail which will only confirm for him that the world is an unfair place where he does not fit in. We will house him, pay the salaries of the guards who protect us from this dangerous mouthwash thief. Paying for treatment and an education for him would be much less expensive and, in fact, might even prove to be an investment in the future. With treatment, an education and hope this man may be able to become a productive member of society. But sadly we are far more interested in punishing people. I am ashamed to be Canadian today.

Privilege (heterosexual and others)

I am writing this blog entry in response to all the comments I received on facebook when I updated my status to indicate that I was annoyed by heterosexual privilege. Frankly, the comments surprised me but I guess I should not have been. Inherently, when one is in receipt of a societal privilege they may not be aware of it. This appears to be the case. Rather than going into a long drawn out explanation of heterosexual privilege I will refer you to an excellent blog entry written by Teh Portly Dyke. She does an excellent job explaining this and its impact on homosexuals. She also issues a challenge in her entry I encourage you to try it to gain a better understanding of how insidious heterosexual privilege is in our society.

Privilege is everywhere in our society and depending on your class, race, economic status or gender expression you may or may not enjoy privilege. Being Caucasian in our society affords you a great deal of privilege. Our society is geared to make life easier for people who are white. All of our institutions are inherently racist and difficult for people of colour to navigate and receive fair treatment. If you don’t believe me ask a person of colour what their experience is at a bank or worse trying to get welfare or other government services. When I worked in a downtown eastside welfare office in Vancouver there was a great deal of racism dished out to people of colour and particularly aboriginal people.

Class is another area of privilege. I certainly noticed that as a homeowner I am treated very differently by service people than I was when i was a renter. The white woman in Kerrisdale is treated much differently than an Aboriginal woman from the downtown eastside. Many of our judgements about class are rooted in the Protestant work ethic and Protestantism in general. One of the foremost Protestant thinkers, John Calvin, believed that it was predetermined who was going to heaven and who was not. Those people who were successful in life were assumed to be going to heaven and therefore treated differently from those who were impoverished. It was also believed that if those who were not successful ‘just tried a little harder’ they too could be successful. The old adage of ‘pulling up their boot straps’ applied. We may not consciously think this way but these ideas inform our culture and the way we view the world and the people in it.

Gender expression is another area of privilege. Those who fit into society’s binary gender roles of male and female enjoy privilege. There is no question which bathroom to use and you are treated with respect. Those who are gender queer, gender ambiguous or trans have murky waters to navigate. A male to female transsexual for example may be harassed for using the woman’s bathroom. Gender expression seems to invoke violent responses from some people. Many trans people are routinely targeted for abuse by people in our society who are uncomfortable with their gender expression.

It is interesting to talk to people who are different from you and to learn how privilege or the lack thereof impacts their lives. As a white woman I know that I enjoy a fair amount of privilege in our society. I have privileges of class, race and gender. However, somethings work against me. As a fat lesbian woman I have been the target of discrimination and hate although not that often. The group with the most privilege in our society are straight, white men. It is interesting to determine what privilege you enjoy and why you have it. Deconstructing privilege helps us to understand how our society works and how we can work to be allies to those who do not enjoy the same privileges that we do. It takes a great deal of work to look inside and see what is really there – the racist and classist thoughts and to try and understand how they impact our interactions with other people. It is a life-long process and one that is very difficult. Realizing our own racist, classist and gender biases can be uncomfortable. Talking about them and challenging others racist, classist and gender biases is even more difficult. If, as an individual, you are committed to an egalitarian society it starts with you.

They got it right this time

Disgraced, former judge David Ramsay has been denied parole. Apparently he has cancer and is not expected to live out his sentence. I guess he thought he was entitled to mercy. The parole board noted that he has resisted treatment and shown no remorse for his actions.

As a sitting judge, Ramsay, used his position of authority to abuse young First Nations women. Three of his victims had appeared before him in court. Apparently he liked to make his victims scream. Well I hope David Ramsay screams alot as he dies of cancer in prison. May he receive all the mercy he has shown his victims.