Category Archives: Politics

Bible Verses in the House of Commons

Bible verses were being tossed back and forth in Canada’s Parliament on Friday as the House of Commons debated a bill that would make conversion therapy for LGBTQ+ people a criminal offence.

The Liberal MP for Kingston, Ontario, Robert Oliphant spoke in defence of the bill. Mr Oliphant is a gay United Church minister and he quoted Micah 6:8 in his remarks. It is a passage that refers to the qualities of justice, mercy and humility.

Conservative MP Tamara Jansen who represents Langley British Columbia and opposes the bill in its current form, used a passage from Matthew 23:27 in her response to Mr Olipant. The Matthew passage she quoted talks about people who are hypocrites and unclean.

One of the reasons I was so interested in the way the Bible was being used as justification to argue both sides in a contentious debate was because I just started an online course with Dr Heather Barkman, a religion professor from the University of Manitoba and in our first class, we learned about the origins of the gospels of the New Testament.

One of the oldest copies of the New Testament we have

There are no original texts for the materials in the current four gospels. What we have are copies of texts, or even copies of copies, all subject to the errors that can occur when copying and re-copying take place. The original texts that were the sources for our current versions of the four gospels were not written by eyewitnesses to the life and ministry of Jesus, but were accounts that had been passed on orally for at least forty years or more, in the case of the gospel of John close to 90 years, and subject to all the changes that can happen during such a lengthy period of oral transmission. We have no idea who wrote the original texts. They were given the names of Jesus’ followers Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to lend them an air of authenticity, but those men most certainly didn’t write them.

Could some of the copies that have been found up till now be forgeries? Dr Barkman said it is entirely possible. Might other ancient copies still be found that contain different information and viewpoints. That is entirely possible too.

During the first several centuries after Jesus’ death there were a multitude of different gospels circulating about his life, each written by different people in different times for different reasons. Then in the year 393 some powerful bishops reached a final decision about which four gospels would become the stable Biblical canon, the one we use today.

Irenaeus the Bishop of Lyons had some interesting reasons for choosing only four gospels for the canon

Why chose only four gospels from the many available? Well, one of the bishops instrumental in that decision said it was because the wind came from four different directions. And why decide on a canon? The reason for that probably involved unifying various Christian groups and spreading Christianity for political reasons.

As I read about the debate in Parliament over the bill to criminalize conversion therapy I marvelled how the Bible remains such a powerful book. There it is, being used to defend and question new laws in the political house of a large and influential nation.

Yet, as I am learning in my course the Bible’s origins and authenticity are clearly subjects open to discussion and as one person in the course put it, the choice to accept certain gospels and their unique points of view was most likely made by “a bunch of powerful men with a political agenda.” Given those realities it is truly interesting to ponder how the Bible has maintained itself as such a source of authority by people of every political stripe for thousands of years.

Other posts…………

First Officially Affirming Church in Steinbach

The Post Election Priorities of American Christians

Did Jesus Have a Wife?

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Filed under Politics, Religion

Does a Female Finance Minister Make a Difference?

Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland

This is what you get when Canada appoints its first female finance minister-a proposal for a national system of high-quality early learning and childcare, that is great for kids, pays for itself in long term benefits to society, creates jobs, reduces poverty, assists parents in unprecedented ways and helps women remain in the work force. 

Last week, at the Liberal Party policy convention Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced that a nationwide early learning and childcare system will be a key piece in the Liberal government’s COVID-19 recovery plan. 

The pandemic has made it difficult for women to continue working while providing childcare

Ms. Freeland pointed out that the pandemic has caused a frightening decline in female workforce participation. Literally hundreds of thousands of Canadian mothers left their jobs to look after children when schools and daycares closed.

Prior to the pandemic women were providing 40% of household income. They were vital to their families’ financial security and the nation’s economic health. Experts agree it is not possible, for Canada to have a successful economic recovery post-pandemic without women going back to work. A universal daycare system in Canada will be a huge incentive and support as women seek to return to their jobs.

A national plan to provide quality early childhood education and daycare almost became a reality in 2005. The Liberals had crafted a ground -breaking agreement for universal childcare in Canada that had been officially agreed to by every province.  Unfortunately, in 2006 Stephen Harper was elected and dismantled the plan. Since then, political expediency has stood in the way of bringing it back. 

Ms. Freeland says the pandemic has created a childcare crisis for women and this gives our country a window of opportunity to finally provide federally funded affordable quality universal childcare to every Canadian family that needs and wants it. 

Leah Gazan NDP Critic for Children, Families, and Social Development

I know the New Democratic Party will be behind the plan because last summer my New Democratic Member of Parliament Leah Gazan was circulating a petition calling for a universal childcare and early learning program in Canada. I not only signed her petition but agreed to make regular donations to help Ms. Gazan in her quest. 

Conservative Members of Parliament that are anti-abortion as identified by Campaign for Life

 I hope the Conservative Party will lend support as well.  The Toronto Star has reported that more than 40 members of the current Conservative caucus are publicly anti-abortion supporters. Ms. Freeland’s proposal is their chance to put their money where their mouth is.

Research repeatedly shows that two of the most frequently cited reasons women give for having abortions are financial concerns and the impact the pregnancy could have on their careers. It makes sense that the availability of quality childcare would help ease those concerns and could conceivably further lower our country’s abortion rate which is already at its lowest point in more than a decade. 

I am only speculating that one of the reasons the Liberal government is making a federally funded childcare program a priority is because we have our first female finance minister. But I am sure it didn’t hurt. Ms. Freeland spoke for thirty minutes at the recent Liberal policy convention and spent almost the entire time talking about childcare. Our Deputy Prime Minister is the mother of three and well knows the challenges of managing both parenting and a career. When she was negotiating Canada’s NAFTA deal, she told a reporter that sometimes figuring out childcare arrangements for her three kids was almost as tricky as figuring out a trade agreement. 

I will be thrilled if the Liberal party goes through with their plan for an affordable national childcare and early education plan.  It will be good for kids, good for women, good for families and good for our country. 

Other posts………….

Politics is Tough

Paternity Leave- A Winning Scenario

Pro-Choice and Pro-Life- What Might We Have in Common?

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Filed under Canada, Family, Politics

Teacher Can You Spare A Dime?

Brian Pallister the Manitoba premier was taken to task last week for offering teachers a 15% tax credit for the first $1000 they spend on their classrooms. Many teachers were insulted saying if education was properly funded by Mr. Pallister’s government it wouldn’t be necessary for teachers to spend their own money on supplies to enrich the education program they offer to students.

Cartoon by Chris Chuckry used by permission.

I was a teacher for 35 years and can attest to the fact that I spent a great deal of my own money to stock my classroom. When I taught elementary school I bought rugs, pillows, puzzles, bookshelves, magazine racks, charts, toys, maps, math manipulatives, puppets and hundreds of books for my classroom. I even had a sand table custom-built.

With a class of my students at Elmdale School in the 1980s

I bought food stuffs for baking projects, gifts for children at Christmas, stickers, craft supplies and in the age before digital photography paid for film and developing hundreds of photos each year.  In one school I kept granola bars and other breakfast items in my cupboards for kids who weren’t getting breakfast at home. I also paid for professional conferences, books and courses.  

Some of my students at the Steinbach Regional Secondary School in 2006

As a high school teacher I bought a huge coffee maker and started brewing coffee and baking muffins to lure late sleepers to my first classes of the day. I invested in magazine subscriptions and bought hundreds of used books for my classroom to entice my teenagers to read for pleasure. I never kept track of how much money I spent on my students. It would have been too scary.

The phenomena of teachers spending their own money on their classrooms is not unique to Manitoba. A recent survey in Nova Scotia showed the average teacher there invested some $500 a year in their classroom and American teachers were more likely to invest double that.

Photo by Julia M Cameron on Pexels.com

A Huffington Post article points out that the pandemic has upped the ante for many teachers who have invested their own money in all kinds of upgrades to their technology to make teaching from home or online more effective for their students.

One thing that concerned me as a university education department mentor was how much money my students were investing in their practicum teaching assignments in schools. My students paid for printing costs for learning games, mittens for kids, books to read to students, costumes for plays, writing journals, prizes for contests, art supplies and one junior high physical education teacher bought deodorant for the students who needed it. Most of my university students were already struggling to make ends meet and were working at part time jobs to cover their tuition costs. They couldn’t really afford to be investing money in the classrooms where they were interning.

I spent a great deal less of my own money on my classroom when I left the public school system to teach at a well funded private school in Hong Kong

During the years I was teaching in Manitoba I never got a dime in tax credit for the money I spent on my classroom and most people were shocked to learn how much of my personal coin I was doling out. Mr. Pallister’s recent statement at least recognizes that teachers are investing their own dollars in their students and he is giving teachers some compensation for that investment. But it is not something he should be encouraging teachers to do because in an adequately funded education system teachers wouldn’t find it necessary to spend nearly as much of their own money.

About twenty years ago Time Magazine ran a feature called Teacher Can You Spare a Dime which talked about all the money teachers spend on their classrooms and what could be done to change that. It appears that in the last two decades nothing has.

Other posts…….

My Dad Was Once A Teacher

A Bathtub in My Classroom

5 Things I Believe About Learning

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Filed under Education, Politics

A Television Series Senator Plett Should Watch

I just finished watching the television series Unbelievable. It isn’t an easy drama to view but it is an important one. It tells a true story about a serial rapist who attacks a young girl in Washington and then a string of women in Colorado. He meets his match when two dogged female detectives literally work night and day and leave no stone unturned to try and find him and convict him.

Toni Collette and Merritt Wever are brilliant in their roles as two female detectives pursuing a serial rapist. – Photo from Netflix

Unbelievable teaches you a great deal about rape.

Police can interview victims in a way that makes them feel like their story isn’t believable or they can interview them in sensitive and respectful ways.

Although it shouldn’t make a difference, a woman’s past, her race, her age or even her occupation can have an impact on how seriously her rape claims are taken.

Men with military backgrounds and police backgrounds are checked first as possible suspects because they have a much higher rate of violent behaviour.

Police in one district don’t routinely share information about rapes with police in other districts. In Unbelievable the fact that detectives from two different districts work on finding a rapist together happens just as a matter of chance.

Rape changes a woman’s life forever. As the victims shared their stories in the trial during this series it didn’t matter whether they were box store workers or college students or grandmothers or career women the rapes devastated them, totally turned their lives upside down and left them vulnerable and afraid.

I kept thinking as I watched Unbelievable that a series like this should be mandatory viewing for judges and politicians. In 2017 former Conservative party leader Rona Ambrose introduced a bill in Parliament ensuring judges in Canada were trained in sexual-assault law. The bill required judges to learn about rape myths and stereotypes and how biases of race, gender and other social factors could influence their decisions.

Rona Ambrose the former leader of the Conservative Party of Canada

Rona Ambrose worked in a rape crisis centre in university and that experience made her realize the need for such a bill. She found support across the political parties for her legislation. Her efforts were definitely seen as necessary after an Alberta judge told a sexual assault victim she should have” just kept her knees together” and after a Halifax judge said a woman can give consent even when she is drunk. Ms. Ambrose said responses like those discourage women from reporting rapes and laying charges.

Rona Ambrose’s bill was passed unanimously in the House of Commons but Senator Don Plett from Manitoba and some of his Conservative colleagues decided to stall it in the Senate for over 700 days so it didn’t pass before the last federal election call. Ms Ambrose expressed her disdain that those “old boys” in the Senate had failed to protect Canadian women. She specifically called out Senator Plett for procedural stalling. A CBC article stated that “because of political procedural moves by the Conservative whip, Manitoba Sen. Don Plett, private member’s bills like Ms. Ambrose’s haven’t made it onto the Senate agenda.”

Such a response was hardly surprising since Senator Plett was a vocal supporter of President Trump who has faced some twenty-six charges of sexual misconduct, including rape, and brags about his skill at grabbing women’s genitalia. Senator Plett has referred to Mr Trump as his good friend.

Unbelievable makes you very aware that many things need to change if we want to adequately protect women from sexual assault and rape. I wonder if Senator Plett has watched Unbelievable? Maybe someone should suggest he do so.

Note: Something I found very interesting about the series is that one of the detectives on the case is a woman with a strong Christian faith and it helps her deal with the disturbing things she witnesses as she investigates rape incidents. Her partner on the case is an atheist because she can’t believe that if there was a God that God would allow such horrible things to happen to women. It is interesting to see how the two detectives influence one another in matters of faith as they pursue their case.

Note: The current Liberal government introduced a bill very similar to Ms. Ambrose’s and it passed in November. Because it is not a private member’s bill there is a much better chance it will make it through the Senate as well.

Note: The thing that makes Unbelievable so chilling is that it is almost 100% accurate in depicting a true story reported on the podcast This American Life and in a print story by Ken Armstrong and Christian Miller.

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Filed under Movies, Politics

A Puzzling Speech in Parliament

I listened to the speech Provencher Member of Parliament Ted Falk gave last week in the House of Commons. He called on the federal government to end pandemic restrictions.  Mr Falk talked about the negative effect of lockdowns on businesses and families.  He demanded the Liberal government provide timelines on vaccines, the lifting of restrictions, and the recovery of the economy.  He said we need to protect the vulnerable, provide vaccines to those who want them, and let everyone else live their lives. 

I suspect Mr Falk was voicing the frustration of many of his constituents when he talked about closed businesses, lost jobs and the inability to visit elderly loved ones.  And while there may be value in airing such frustration, I found everything else about Mr Falk’s speech truly puzzling.  

The federal government has implemented travel restrictions. They are supported by 90% of Canadians according to a recent poll published in the National Post. All other restrictions, like business and church closures, and a ceiling on the number of people who can gather in a home, have been imposed by the provinces.  Interestingly the majority of provinces have Conservative governments. They belong to Mr Falk’s political party.  Wouldn’t it be more productive for him to discuss restrictions with his provincial Conservative colleagues instead of the members of Parliament? Most restrictions fall under provincial jurisdiction.  Surely Mr Falk knows this. 

Secondly, Mr Falk is not speaking for most Canadians.  That poll published by the National Post showed 65% of Canadians support restricting people to their homes except to avail themselves of essential services or to provide them to others. 71% agree we should have to carry a health card proving we have been vaccinated. Mr Falk’s suggestion that we open everything up, let people choose without accountability whether to have vaccines and simply allow everyone to live their lives, does not resonate with the majority of Canadians at all. Surely Mr Falk knows this. 

Everything about this pandemic is new so it is impossible to produce definitive timelines for when it will end

Mr. Falk’s demands for timelines regarding the lifting of restrictions, vaccine roll out and economic recovery just aren’t realistic. We are in the middle of a pandemic of a kind never experienced before. The vaccines that have been developed are brand new and so problems with production and distribution are bound to happen. It will be some time before we fully understand just how effective vaccines can be in the long term. Scientists can make educated predictions about when the pandemic may be under control, thus allowing for the lifting of restrictions and the beginning of economic recovery, but there is no way to produce a definitive timeline like the one Mr. Falk is requesting. Surely, he knows that.  

Mr Falk’s final statement is truly puzzling.  He wants us to protect the vulnerable but let everyone else live exactly as they like.  Yet we know that if everyone lives exactly as they like we will not be able to protect the vulnerable. That has been clearly demonstrated throughout the pandemic and in quite a dramatic way in Mr Falk’s own riding which was the only one in the province that had to shut down schools before Christmas because of the high infection and death rate amongst the vulnerable.  Surely Mr Falk knows this.

Mr Falk probably had a limited time for his Parliamentary speech, but it would have been much more effective if he could have backed up his entreaties for a quick end to restrictions and his lack of a hearty endorsement for vaccines, with some sort of scientific research, expert opinion or facts that supported his views.  Surely Mr Falk knows this. Or does he? 

Other posts……….

Life Liberty and Family

Human Rights and February Holidays

Candice and That Hat

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Filed under COVID-19 Diary, Politics

Human Rights and February Holidays

In February we recognize two important holidays.  Both remind us we are making progress towards respecting diversity, but each should also remind us we need to continue to be vigilant about protecting human rights. 

Lion dancer I photographed during Chinese New Year celebrations in Hong Kong

We are in the midst of the Chinese New Year celebrations which run from February 12 -26th.  Canada is home to more than one and half million people of Chinese descent. I learned to thoroughly enjoy Chinese New Year celebrations during the six years I lived in Hong Kong. Some of my colleagues at the international school where I taught were Chinese Canadians.  I was interested to learn that their families had been in Canada longer than mine.  

Sculpture illustrating the important contribution Chinese workers made to the construction of Canada’s railroad at the Winnipeg Millennium Library

My Mennonite ancestors immigrated in the 1920s but in the early 1880s 17,000 Chinese workers came to Canada to help build the railroad.  Many stayed here and prospered despite the virulent racism they faced. Their families continue to make valuable contributions to our country in politics, culture, business, science, education, technology and sport. 

Sadly, according to the Toronto Globe and Mail, in the last year more than 600 incidents of hate related crimes have been reported to Chinese Canadian organizations. Although some of these incidents are related to historical anti-Asian racism many are the result of the racialization of COVID-19. Vancouver police have reported a real spike in cases. They investigated seven racist incidents in 2019 and sixty-six in 2020. 

Dr. Theresa Tam- Canada’s Chief Medical Officer

Although it is easy to point fingers at the United States where their former president’s continual reference to COVID-19 as the Chinese virus has caused a massive increase in anti-Asian hate incidents, we have a similar problem in Canada. One need look no further for an example of such anti- Chinese sentiment than the comments of former Conservative Party member Derek Sloan. He accused Dr. Theresa Tam our country’s chief medical officer who is of Chinese descent, of being more loyal to China than to Canada. This kind of dishonest racist rhetoric has no place in a respectful society.  

I photographed Winnipeg’s Metis mayor Brian Bowman at the opening ceremonies for Folklorama in 2019

On Monday we celebrated Louis Riel day. Louis Riel was a staunch defender of the rights of Manitoba’s Metis people. The mayor of our capital city Brian Bowman is Metis as was a former provincial premier John Norquay. Think of hockey player Theoren Fluery, writer Katherena Vermette, artist Joe Fafard, actress Tantoo Cardinal and members of Parliament Dan Vandal and Shelley Glover and you will get some idea of just how many important contributions the nearly 90,000 Metis Manitobans have made to our province.  

Yet it doesn’t take long to find stories about Metis people being discriminated against in many different areas of society.  In September of 2020 a CTV news story reported that David Chartrand the president of the Manitoba Metis Federation had sent a letter to the Manitoba Human Rights Commission alleging systemic discrimination against the Metis people throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Chartrand said the provincial government had been unwilling to work with the Metis nation in an information sharing process that would have benefited both the Metis and the Manitoba health care system.  

I photographed this sculpture titled Manitoba by Metis artist Joe Fafard at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

In 2018 almost the entire Manitoba Hydro Board, whose members had all been appointed by Premier Brian Pallister, resigned to protest the decision the premier made to not honor an agreement the board had negotiated with the Manitoba Metis Federation. Clearly there is still work to do in addressing discrimination against the Metis community. 

A pair of holidays we celebrate in February recognize the rich contributions of two diverse communities in our country. Those holidays should also remind us we need to continue to work at respecting the human rights of those communities.  

Other posts………

Making Chinese Dumplings

Manitoba is Metis

It’s Louis Riel Day

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Filed under Canada, Culture, History, Holidays, manitoba, Politics

Life, Liberty and Family

When The Carillon, the newspaper I work for, posted my latest column on Facebook I received lots of feedback. My column questioned the wisdom of Canadian politicians showing public support for former President Trump. I was called delusional, leftist, a liar and someone who should be ashamed of herself by various people making comments.

One respondent said he would vote for any politician who defended life, liberty, and family even if that government leader’s personal conduct wasn’t always moral. He implied he could forgive someone like Donald Trump his outrageous behaviour because the former president was a defender of life, liberty, and family.

This photo was taken at a family celebration some fifty years ago with my Dad’s extended family. Family is an important value for me.

I said I agreed life, liberty, and family were very important values. And…… that got me thinking about what exactly those values meant to me. At first, I was going to articulate that by making a list of all the ways I believed President Trump had caused considerable damage to those ideals, but then…….. I decided it might be more helpful instead to figure out what I thought a country would look like if life, liberty and family were truly valued.

Celebrating our son’s university graduation. Post-secondary education should be available to all.

Life

Life is respected by making sure affordable housing, clean drinking water, universal child care, good schools and free post-secondary education are available to everyone.

Life is protected when fair laws are enforced in the community by a highly-educated, sensitively trained, scrupulously vetted, mature group of individuals. These wise and experienced professionals serve in a just manner that is equitable for every person no matter their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or income level.

Life is enriched by well funded public spaces like parks, libraries, museums, art galleries and sports facilities. The arts receive public funding as do amateur athletics and there are accessible opportunities for everyone to further their education and skills in a variety of ways.

Marching in the Pride Parade in Steinbach. Photo credit- Grant Burr

Liberty

People have the liberty to marry the person of their choice, apply for the job of their choice and live in the neighbourhood of their choice regardless of their gender, race, religion or sexual orientation.

Capital punishment is a thing of the past and steps are in place to reduce and perhaps even eliminate the prison population.

Women have the liberty to make their own decisions about their own bodies.

People have the liberty to make their own end of life decisions.

Four generations by Pitaloosie Saliaone of my favourite pieces from the Winnipeg Art Gallery collection depicting a family

Family

All jobs pay a fair living wage that makes it possible for someone who works eight hours a day to provide adequately for the needs of their family. If for some reason no one in a family is able to work at some point that family would still be guaranteed a basic living income.

Families are supported by free health care that addresses their medical needs no matter at what stage of life their family members may be.

Workers have employment agreements that allow them to provide necessary care for their infant children, sick family members and elderly parents.

The painting The Scream by Kent Monkman shows Indigenous children being taken from their families and sent to residential schools. Life, liberty and family have not always been respected in Canada. Those are values we still need to work at.

The values of life, liberty and family will mean different things to different people. What are some values you would add to my list or change about the ones in my list?

Other posts………..

The Scream

Pride in Steinbach

A Very Personal Story

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Filed under Canada, Politics

The Power of A Poem

As far as I’m concerned the poet stole the show at yesterday’s inauguration of American President Joe Biden. Standing full of promise in her bright yellow coat and bold red hat twenty-two-year-old Amanda Gorman’s voice rang true and clear across her country and the world as she recited the rich and rhythmic words she had written especially for the occasion. What passion! What poise! What purpose! I’ve listened to Amanda recite her poem The Hill We Climb about half a dozen times now and so far I just can’t choose which is my favorite line.

We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another

Even as we grieved we grew, even as we hurt we hoped, even as we tired we tried

Victory won’t lie in the blade but in all the bridges we’ve made

We will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one

If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.

Let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left

For there is always light if only we are brave enough to see it. If only we are brave enough to be it.

I have a feeling Amanda’s poem will be read or listened to in many classrooms this morning. By yesterday afternoon my Twitter feed was lighting up with ideas from teachers about how they might share The Hill We Climb with their students.

I was thrilled about that. I taught high school English for six years and inevitably when I would introduce our poetry unit there would be groans in the classroom. Teenagers thought poetry was boring, hard to understand, and certainly not something they could write. I loved to watch them develop personal preferences for certain poems and poets, learn that a poem could mean something different and true to every person who read it, and realize they too could be poets.

Amanda’s poem will certainly become one that is oft-recited and loved and its words will be interpreted in a myriad of ways as people think about how its message applies to them. I wonder if it may have the power to inspire a whole generation to believe they can be poets and also practical people of principle who dream they can change the world and then go out and do it.

A very young and incredibly gifted Black female poet stole the show at yesterday’s American presidential inauguration. What could be more fitting or give the world more faith in the future?

Other posts………

Poetry and Teenagers

Artistic Inspiration For Our Time

The Comfort of a Poem

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Filed under People, Poetry, Politics

Candice and That Hat

Candice Bergen a member of Canada’s Parliament who also serves as the Deputy Leader of the Conservative party in Canada as well as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has been getting some media attention in the last week for a photo circulating of her wearing a camouflage Make America Great Again hat. The photo might suggest Ms. Bergen is a Trump supporter or that she was at one time.

Although Ms. Bergen has denounced the violence that took place in Washington DC last week she has not apologized for wearing the hat. She has not confessed that she is embarrassed or ashamed she wore the hat. She has not explained the circumstances around when or how the photo was taken. While she has stated she believes Mr. Trump incited the insurrection and it was wrong of him to do so, she has not explicitly said that she was never a Trump supporter or if she was, that she clearly regrets that decision now.

On the one hand Ms Bergen’s reticence in distancing herself with a clear red line from Trump is not surprising, since a poll published in Macleans magazine in June indicates that forty six percent of Canadian Conservative party members said they would prefer to have Donald Trump as our Prime Minister rather than Justin Trudeau. In an article in the Ottawa Citizen Andrew MacDougall the communications director for Canada’s former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper cites a poll that says 41% of Canadian conservatives believe Donald Trump was cheated out of an election win. I suspect that in Ms. Bergen’s riding, which has a large contingent of conservative voters her wearing of a MAGA hat will make her popular.

Despite the disdain many in her party have for Prime Minister Trudeau Ms. Bergen might take a page from his book when considering her response at being caught in an old photo wearing a hat supporting a political movement led by man whose connections with white supremacists have been well documented. When a dated picture of Mr. Trudeau wearing black face surfaced in 2019 he offered two contrite public apologies for his actions something Ms. Bergen might consider as well.

I guess I am surprised on a couple of fronts to see Ms. Bergen wearing the hat. One would think it would be an item she would be loathe to even touch much less wear with a smiling face.

First of all she is a woman and a very successful, articulate, hardworking one as those who follow her political career know. Her own former party leader Rona Ambrose has been outspoken about the problem of misogyny in Canada’s political and judicial systems. Yet Ms. Bergen is wearing a hat that implies support for a misogynist who has bragged openly about his ability to “grab a woman’s pussy” whenever he wants. It is easy to find endless lists of demeaning comments Mr. Trump has made about successful prominent women just like Ms. Bergen.

Second of all she is a Canadian. Mr. Trump has not been especially kind to Canadians. He has consistently targeted Canada for criticism. He has implemented tariffs on imports of Canada’s aluminum and steel. He’s chagrined us for not doing our part when it comes to defence spending, called our prime minister names and made negotiating a new NAFTA agreement unduly difficult.

The MacDougall article in the Ottawa Citizen suggests that from a political standpoint Ms. Bergen should probably quash any idea she might support Trump’s ideology. Although it may make her popular in her own riding, and with a minority of her party’s members, it will not make her political party popular with the nationwide Canadian electorate.

In a different time Ms. Bergen could perhaps just let this matter fade away. This is a private photo and some might argue it is no one’s business but her own. However when the political situation in our neighbouring nation remains extremely volatile largely due to the actions of Mr. Trump and his supporters, and it is being suggested that a Canadian election may be on the horizon in the next few months, it would probably be politically expedient for Ms. Bergen to distance herself from Donald Trump in as clear and honest and forthright a way as possible and to indicate her regret and error at ever having suggested she might support him.

Other posts………….

Women in Politics

Old White Men

Hot Wives and Christian Leaders

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Talking to Kids About Wednesday’s Madness

As I scrolled through Twitter on Wednesday afternoon and evening, trying to keep track of what was happening in Washington D.C  I noticed something interesting start happening on my feed  just after the supper hour. I follow lots of teachers, librarians and school administrators on Twitter. I also follow plenty of education publishers and professional groups for teachers.
In the late afternoon and evening on Wednesday one question kept popping up in my feed, “What do we say to the children?”  Teachers and others involved in education were wondering how they would discuss the Washington DC riots with their students the next morning.

It wasn’t long before they began to share ideas.  Some gave tips on how to frame the event for kids in  ways that would reassure them. Others provided questions that might engage children in critical thinking. Some provided links to news articles that described the events clearly and succinctly in language kids would understand.  

Teachers shared the names of helpful books that could be read and helpful prompts for classroom conversations.  One educator quickly set up a zoom meeting so teachers could share ideas.  Teachers reminded each other their primary purpose on  Thursday morning would be to make kids feel safe, to listen to their fears and concerns and to reassure them that things would be okay.

I didn’t envy these teachers the task of having to help their students process what they had seen on their television and computer screens. But these responsible and dedicated educators  were facing reality and trying to prepare themselves for the coming day well aware of how difficult it would be.  

It struck me as I read the teachers’ concerns and ideas that if the rioters and politicians involved in the debacle at the Capital in Washington DC on Wednesday had been forced to stop for a minute to think about how they would explain what they were doing to kids the next morning, it just might have influenced their actions.  

Other posts………..

The Children Are Watching and Listening

Getting Him Out of My Head

 

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Filed under Education, Politics