Category Archives: Politics

What A Difference

school trustee
Here is a photo of the board of trustees of the Hanover School Division in the 1960s. This is the school division where I attended school and worked almost my entire career as a teacher.
hsd-board
Here is a photo of the current board. Notice any difference? This second photo includes three men who serve as the division’s superintendents. If you factor that in it means that in 2018 there are more female trustees than male trustees.

In an interesting article called Why Women Need to Be Elected to Office writer Dawn Hucklebridge notes that the United States has an abysmally low record when it comes to electing women to political office compared to other countries. But the one exception is that women comprise 40% of elected officials on school boards. 

The same article makes some interesting claims.

    1. Women are more likely to run for office because they feel called to serve and want to make a difference in their community. Men report running to fulfill a life long dream.
    2. Women are more productive and progressive in political office than their male counterparts.
    3. They are more likely to champion policies that support women and families.
    4. They are more likely to work across the aisle with political opponents.
    5. They introduce more new legislation and policy.
    6. There is less corruption during their terms of service.

The article suggests that women’s desire to serve and make a difference on school boards should make those boards fertile ground for candidate recruitment for other offices. Women who have served on school boards view political office as a way to fix problems and improve their communities. And those are exactly the values needed in higher political office.

Other posts………

Thankfully Times Have Changed

Women Were Honored? Think Again. 

Are You This Determined to Vote?

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Doing Something

I am so dismayed at what is going in the United States.  A man seemingly without a moral compass in his personal, business or political life is leading the country and………… nearly half of its citizens have no problem with that. The members of his party follow their immoral leader like fearful sheep anxious that not doing so might cost them their own political jobs.  An American speaker in our church on Sunday said it is hard to have hope in a time like this, hard to believe that God’s love will triumph when vulnerable people are being placed in ever greater jeopardy and racism of many kinds flourishes in a way many Americans thought was relegated to the past.  

As a Canadian who wants to help people like our speaker have hope, and as someone who could have my own life effected by the president’s actions on climate change, free trade, immigration, and military action I feel helpless.  What can I do?  I decided one little thing I could do was to buy subscriptions to a couple American periodicals that seem to report with integrity. 

I decided to subscribe to The Atlantic and The Washington Post since both I believe offer a fairly measured and honest view of what is happening in America.  I admit I was attracted to The Washington Post by the recent movie about it and also by the fact they just won a Pulitzer Prize for their story about defeated Republican candidate Roy Moore of Alabama.   I figure by supporting the efforts of the free American press with my subscription money I can encourage  journalists to keep reporting the news in an honest way even when their country’s president is constantly calling them ‘fakes.’  

Purchasing a couple of news subscriptions isn’t doing a whole lot.  But it’s doing something. 

Other posts………..

Seeing The Post in Lisbon With People Who Truly Understand What Freedom of the Press Is

A Prayer for Journalists

Her Worship

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Racism- Pure and Simple

We were having supper in a small hotel in Portugal and my husband struck up a conversation with the only other diner, a man from Chicago. He was in Portugal looking for a retirement home to buy.  He and his wife had planned to retire in Arizona or Florida but the election of Donald Trump and the fear he might get re-elected in 2020 has them looking elsewhere for a retirement residence.  

Our dinner companion said he wants to throw up every time he sees Donald Trump on television. He called him and I quote “a moron without morals.”  He told us he is particularly sickened by the evangelical Christian support of a man who is the antithesis of everything Christianity should embody.  I asked him why he thought Donald Trump enjoys so much support in the United States. His answer was quick.  “It’s racism. Pure and simple.” He felt Donald Trump made people feel less uncomfortable about their underlying racist tendencies. He was sure Trump was voted in as a back lash against the election of a black president. 

The morning after our conversation with the Chicago businessman I happened to read an article in The Atlantic called The Heavy Burden of Teaching My Son about Racism in America. It was by Jemar Tisby, a PhD history candidate and the president of a group called The Witness. They seek to engage the Christian church in an honest dialogue about racism in America.

 Tisby’s article explained how he, like all diligent black parents, has had to introduce his seven- year old son to the reality of racism in the United States. Black parents must remind their children early and often that people may consider them threatening for no reason. They must tell their kids they will have to work twice as hard as others and won’t get second chances. They have to teach their children that just hanging out with other black kids in too big a group can raise suspicion.

Parents must choose the right way to explain lynching and slavery since they play such an important role in family history. Tisby lives in Mississippi and he says racism is especially prevalent in the American south. He believes in the south for “every adult who is trying to train their children to confront racial intolerance, there is another teaching their children how to perpetuate and preserve it.”

Illustration from blog post called Youth Perspectives on Racism by Tom Yoder

I had wanted to believe my Chicago acquaintance from the previous evening was exaggerating when he talked about the extent of racism in the United States. Tisby’s article suggested he was not.

 And we Canadians need not grow too smug, We have our own issues of racism to address. 

Other posts……..

I’m So Tired of You America

A Novel So Long It Took Us Through Eight States

Bear Witness

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Dear World

 Eight year old Bana Alabed narrates a tragic story in the book Dear World.  She and her family lived in Aleppo Syria and Bana started a Twitter account to describe the horror and deprivation her family was experiencing. She garnered nearly 400,000 followers.  Bana’s family has now escaped to Turkey where they have become citizens and Bana and her mother have written a book about their family’s experiences that has been published by Simon and Schuster.  

I had heard nothing about the book before I read it myself and I was moved and mournful as Bana described the terror of bombing raids, the agony of hiding for hours on end in cold and dirty basements, the stark reality of having little or no food to eat, the fear of dodging bullets to get water, the disappointment of having her school destroyed, the anxiety of seeing her family separated and the sadness of losing her dearest friend in a bombing.  

The city of Aleppo where Bana’s family lived

After finishing Dear World which includes a response from Bana’s mother Fatemah at the end of each chapter, I went online to learn more about it and now I am not at all sure what I think of the book.  Many Amazon reviewers, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and a host of websites have questioned the veracity of Bana’s tweets and her narrative in the book.  Even in favourable articles like this one in the New Yorker there are suggestions that Bana’s videos on Twitter are too scripted and that she is being coached. Critics say in interviews Bana simply doesn’t exhibit a good enough knowledge of the English language to have written the tweets she did.  Some even accuse her parents of being aligned with terrorist organizations. Since the announcement of her book launch some of her more political tweets have been removed from her feed. 

Yet I am left thinking …….. Would Simon and Schuster publish her book if they didn’t think it was true and would author J.K. Rowling be Bana’s number one fan and supporter if her story wasn’t verifiable? It’s hard to know. 

The bottom line is that the war in Syria has been devastating for thousands of children.  If Bana Alabed’s story brings attention to their plight and inspires people to help them that’s a good thing.  But it is not a good thing if questions about Bana’s motivations and authenticity does anything to hinder bringing support and aid to the refugee children of Syria .  I am not sorry I read Dear World.  I wish I could still take its very sad story at face value. 

Other posts……….

Meeting the Street Children of Delhi

Standing Up For Children

Thoughts About Children

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Filed under Books, Childhood, Politics

Women Were Honored? Think Again John Kelly

“When I was growing up we honored women.” John Kelly, President Trump’s chief of staff made that comment at a recent press conference. I think he was referencing the Harvey Weinstein case currently monopolizing media headlines. Some sixty women have accused the movie mogul of sexual impropriety. Of course Weinstein’s behavior does not honor women although the fact his female accusers are being taken seriously does.

What’s remarkable about Kelly’s comment is he seems to think there was a time in history when women were more honored than they are now. And frankly that’s delusional. Kelly was born in 1950. If we look at how women were treated in the 50s and 60s when Kelly was ‘growing up’ it is abundantly clear they were not honored as Kelly suggests.

Telephone operators in 1952

During those years women’s contributions to the work force weren’t honored because in Canada and the United States women were being paid about 60% less than men for doing the same work. American employers did not have to grant maternity leave. In Canada pregnancy was still reason for dismissal by an employer and there were no legal penalties for sexual harassment on the job.

Women did other jobs so men could fly. Women  couldn’t be air force pilots themselves

Women’s strength and courage wasn’t honored because they weren’t allowed to serve on active duty in the American military or fly planes in the Canadian Air Force. Women could not join the RCMP in Canada till 1974 and by 1980 women still only made up 5% of American police forces.

Emily Stowe Canada’s first female doctor

Women’s intelligence wasn’t honored because universities limited how many women could join their faculties. Till 1972 Harvard medical school for example had their female enrollment limited to 5% of the class. In Canada in 1970 only 14% of medical students were women.

Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs before their famous Battle of the Sexes in 1973

Women’s athletic prowess was not honored. The new movie Battle of the Sexes takes place in 1973 and chronicles Billie Jean King’s fight for fair pay and equal respect for women in the sport of tennis. In the 50s and 60s there were still dozens of sports in the Olympic games not open to women. It wasn’t till 1991 that the International Olympic Committee ruled any new sport entering the games must include women’s events.

Agnes Macphail – First woman elected to Canada’s Parliament

Women’s political contributions were not honored. In 1980 only 20 of the 441 members of the American Congress were women and only 10 of Canada’s 308 members of Parliament were women.

A woman’s right to safety and protection was not honored. In her book Runaway Wives and Rogue Feminists Margo Goodhand says there were no shelters for victims of domestic abuse in Canada till the 1970s. The first American shelter was opened in Minneapolis in 1973.

Women couldn’t always have their own credit cards

Women’s financial acumen and responsibility was not honored. Till 1974 it was still legal for American companies to refuse a woman a credit card based on her gender. They could demand her husband’s signature of approval before granting her a line of credit. Canada’s Royal Bank only appointed the first woman to its Board of Directors in 1976.

It is troubling when powerful men like John Kelly publicly extol the virtues of some imaginary time in the past when life was better for women, when they were honored. They weren’t. When men like Kelly talk about making America great again many women shudder because in the past America wasn’t that great a place for them. Canada wasn’t either. Thankfully our country has current leaders who appear to be more progressive and realistic about what it means to honor women. Kelly and his boss Donald Trump, whose track record with women is hardly honorable, might have something to learn from them.

Other posts………

The Famous Five

Should Women With Young Children Be Politicians?

International Day of the Girl

 

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We Both Talk With Our Hands!

jagmeet singh creative commonsLast week the New Democratic Party of Canada elected a new leader Jagmeet Singh.  He is a 38-year-old trial lawyer and provincial politician known for his colorful Sikh turbans and stylish dress.  Jagmeet was born in Canada to immigrant parents and grew up in Ontario and Newfoundland. I watched one of his first television interviews as the new leader of his party. He was articulate and personable but the thing I noticed most about him was the way he used his hands when he talked.  

I do that too and most of the time I don’t  even realize my hands are moving but my husband does.  On Sunday we had guests and I was relating a story to them. I happened to glance over at Dave. He caught my eye and slowly moved his right hand up and down to let me know my gestures were getting way too dramatic and frequent. It wasn’t the first time he’s provided that kind of discrete reminder. 

I feel a little bit better knowing that one of the new political leaders of our country uses his hands when he talks, even on national television.  I’m wondering if it may not be quite as embarrassing a trait as my husband thinks. 

Other posts………..

Hands

We Placed Our Lives in His Hands

Plants That Talked To Me

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Should Women With Young Children Be Politicians?

“Could Andrew Scheer have been elected the leader of a national party if he were a woman with five children including a newborn? “

In an essay in Macleans magazine Rona Ambrose, the previous interim leader of the Conservative party writes about ways to encourage more women to be involved in politics. She says we have to be willing to accept that women regardless of their physical attributes and family compositions are capable of holding government office.

Her comment about Andrew Scheer the father of five young children and…….. the Conservative party leader who succeeded her, suggests we don’t always think of male and female politicians in the same way. There’s an assumption that mothers of large families with young children might not be the best political candidates, but fathers of similar families are.  Ambrose says this reflects not only the obvious practical challenges in such a situation but also ” the real, judgmental, and sexist perceptions that women face in politics. ”  

Women with young children should represent us politically.  They are in tune with the needs of young Canadian families and their voice is of great importance.  What things could we do to encourage and support them so they would not face stereotypical discrimination and so many practical impediments to political service? Should affordable child care with extended hours be offered on Parliament Hill? Should members of Parliament have more flexible working times, additional help with travel expenses so families can be together more often, and assistance with finding schools and housing in Ottawa? Should there be a greater openess to allowing children to be present in their parents’ work place on Parliament Hill?  Implementation of some of these changes has already begun  as this CTV News article suggests.

These changes will not only benefit women politicians but also support fathers like Andrew Scheer and my own member of Parliament Robert Falcon Ouellette who has five children, so they can share parenting responsibilities  more equally with their partners. 

Other posts………

Looking Back Instead of Forward

Could I Join the Conservative Party?

I Sat in the Speakers Chair

 

 

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