Category Archives: Politics

That’s Not My Kind of God Either

I have been watching the American television series The Fosters on Netflix.  It frequently addresses current political issues as it tells the story of an American family in San Diego. In the fifth and final season of the drama many of the episodes revolve around immigration as two high school seniors from the Foster family provide support to a college student from a Mexican family.  Her name is Ximena. 

Callie, one of the girls from the Foster family holds a photo of her friend Ximena at a rally to support young people in the DACA program.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement have arrested Ximena’s parents who are illegal immigrants. ICE officers arrive at a highschool dance to take Ximena into custody too. Ximena is acting as a chaperone for her younger sister at the dance.  Ximena has had DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival) status in the past but is waiting for her status to be renewed. The younger sister who was born in the United States is taken away by Child and Family services but two teenagers from the Foster family help Ximena slip out a back door and drive her to a church where she receives sanctuary. The pastor of the church provides the young woman with food, clothing and bedding. 

At one point the pastor says, “If you want to talk or pray, I’m here.”  The young woman replies, “I don’t want to pray to a God that would allow my family to be torn apart like this.”  The pastor replies, “I don’t pray to that kind of God either. I believe in Immanuel God with us and God is with you always, in your family’s strength to keep going, in your hope for the future and in the people who have helped you tonight.”  

I  think along the same lines that fictional pastor in the television program did. I find it really hard to understand people who say they believe in God and yet support the current American administration who are arresting desperate asylum seekers, separating refugee parents from their children, and refusing to fully respect and honour the DACA policy established by their country in the past.  I admit it makes me want to ask, “What kind of God are those people praying to?”  I realize of course that they are probably saying the same thing about me. 

Other posts………

Tolerating Other Christians

Standing Up For Children

3 Comments

Filed under Media, Politics

Women in Politics

I am a columnist for the newspaper The Carillon but I know many of my blog readers do not subscribe to the paper so from time to time I include one of my columns in a blog post.  I wrote this column in response to another Carillon columnist who thought it was just fine that Doug Ford the new Ontario premier had made no attempt to have a gender balanced cabinet. He had simply picked the best people for the job.   I thought that was quite ironic. 

caroline mulroney public domain

Caroline Mulroney is a Harvard educated lawyer who has worked as financial advisor for a global financial institution and headed many major philanthropic initiatives.

In his Carillon column two weeks ago Michael Zwaagstra praised the new Ontario premier Doug Ford for making some astute decisions in choosing his cabinet.  Zwaagstra highlighted two women in particular, Caroline Mulroney and Christine Elliot who ran against Mr. Ford for the leadership of the Conservative Party.  Ms. Elliot has been named Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Ms. Mulroney is the province’s new Attorney General and Minister of Francophone Affairs.

Christine_Elliott public domain

Christine Elliot has nearly a decade of experience as a member of the Ontario Legislature, served as the auditor for one of Canada’s largest banks and has a international award for being an outstanding citizen because of her pro bono legal work.

As Mr. Zwaagstra suggests these two women are highly qualified and experienced. In fact, a quick read of their biographies and then of Mr. Ford’s makes it abundantly clear the two women are much more qualified and experienced then Mr. Ford himself.  Both women have advanced law degrees from prestigious universities, belong to families with a long history of political service and have impressive resumes when it comes to experience and to accolades received in both government spheres and the international worlds of business, philanthropy and finance.   

doug ford public domain

Doug Ford opposed the building of home for disabled youth in his civic constituency while on the Toronto City Council. He said it would ‘ruin the neighborhood.’

Mr. Ford on the other hand graduated from high school but dropped out of a technical college without completing even one year. He has a little civic government experience and runs a family business. According to articles in the Toronto Globe and Mail that business has struggled both financially and operationally. 

It leaves one wondering why Mr. Ford was elected leader of the Conservative Party and not one of the two vastly more qualified women running against him.  Kudos to Ford, for putting Elliot and Mulroney in his cabinet but shouldn’t one of them be the premier?

Interestingly Mr. Zwaagstra’s column of two weeks ago is all about how the most important factor for choosing candidates for jobs should be their qualifications and experience, not their gender. Yet in choosing Mr. Ford, the Conservative Party of Ontario clearly ignored the highly superior qualifications and experience of two female leadership candidates and selected a much less qualified and experienced male candidate who was short on substance but for some reason big in popularity and bravado.

 This brings to mind the Carillon’s editorial last week in which Grant Burr wonders aloud why Susan Penner is not a candidate for the upcoming mayoralty race in Steinbach.  Burr who is a regular observer at city council meetings says Penner, an eight year veteran of the council, is imminently more capable and articulate and has much stronger leadership skills than the male councilors who are running for mayor.  Since she holds many of the same viewpoints as one of the men who has thrown his hat into the ring, Burr says it is unfortunate she isn’t the one representing that political perspective in the race. Burr speculates that Penner may not be running because she would have little chance of beating the male candidate. He appears to be short on substance but for some inexplicable reason big in popularity.

rona ambrose public domain

Rona Ambrose the former leader of the Conservative Party of Canada who at the request of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is currently lending her strong and experienced voice to Canada’s NAFTA negotiation team.

In a Macleans essay former Conservative party leader Rona Ambrose addresses some of the public attitudes that continue to impact the number of women we see in political office. She claims voters have different expectations when it comes to women.  She wonders for example if a woman with five young children would have been elected the leader of a political party as Andrew Scheer was.  Ambrose talks about her personal experience in politics.  She was mocked, dismissed, insulted, threatened, underestimated, disrespected and ignored because of her gender.  Despite this she encourages women to run for office.  Canada needs their diverse talents and their intelligence. Perhaps there will come a time when expertise and experience win the day in the political realm and gender is irrelevant.  We aren’t there yet.

Other posts…….

Could I Join The Conservative Party?

International Women’s Day

What A Difference

Leave a comment

Filed under 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?

Leave a comment

Filed under Education, Politics

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Media, Politics

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

4 Comments

Filed under Politics

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

Leave a comment

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

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Politics