Last 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 discreet 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 embarrasing a trait as my husband thinks.
We Placed Our Lives in His Hands
Plants That Talked To Me
“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.
Looking Back Instead of Forward
Could I Join the Conservative Party?
I Sat in the Speakers Chair
We were out with friends last Sunday night. We had spent many hours together and were enjoying one last beverage before we went our separate ways. I mentioned something Donald Trump had done that week.
“I thought we were going to get through the evening without talking about him,” our friend said with just a little disappointment in his tone.
My friend’s response wasn’t a rebuke exactly but it was a good reminder. I need more time spent without thought and worry about the troubling political developments south of the border. It intrudes too much on the joy I should take in the blessings of the present, the company of good friends, the love of family and the opportunities I have to be creative, contribute to my community and learn and grow as a person.
I know I need to keep informed about what is going on in the United States because it does impact Canadians and the rest of the world but………. I should remember there are always more productive and positive things to focus on and talk about than the latest antics of the American President.
The Trump Silver Lining
I’m So Tired of You America
A Religious Opinion
The Canadian Senate may soon kill a bill that alters our national anthem to make it more gender inclusive.
The bill introduced in the House of Commons by the late Liberal MP Mauril Belanger and passed by a majority vote, would change the phrase ‘in all thy sons command’ in O Canada to ‘in all of us command.’ The bill is awaiting Senate approval to become law. Senator Don Plett and some of his colleagues may prevent that from happening. Plett has introduced an amendment to the bill that would return the contentious phrase in the song to its original 1908 wording ‘thou dost in us command’.
The wording Plett is championing is also gender inclusive but here’s the problem. If the Senate amends the bill it has to go back to the House of Commons to be voted on again. Since Mr. Belanger has died members will have to agree unanimously to let another MP sponsor the bill. Some members may refuse to agree because they don’t want to change the words of the anthem. Thus the bill will die.
Plett is aware this could happen but won’t withdraw his amendment. He says he isn’t comfortable tinkering with the song’s language even though the Toronto Star reports the anthem’s words have been altered many times in the past. I wonder if those who oppose making the anthem gender inclusive would feel the same way if the phrase in question said ‘in all our daughters’ command.’
Statue at the Manitoba Legislature that recognizes the famous five who fought to have women recognized as persons in Canada
In a Senate speech Plett claimed our anthem shouldn’t change because it reminds us of where we came from. The current version which uses the word ‘sons’ to refer to Canadian citizens does remind us of the past when women weren’t persons in Canada. They were their husbands’ and fathers’ property. They couldn’t vote and their contributions went largely unrecognized. Mr. Plett is right. It is very important to remember where we came from. We come from a time when women were victims of all kinds of abuse because they had fewer human rights than men.
Anyone watching the new television version of Canadian author Margaret Atwood’s chilling story The Handmaid’s Tale will recognize just how vital it is not to take for granted what women have gained in their fight for equality. Atwood’s tale reminds us there is great peril in forgetting the negative ramifications of patriarchy, not only for women but also for society as a whole. I wonder if Mr. Plett and his colleagues are thinking we need to maintain the sexist version of our national anthem so we remember those terrible times and continue to fight for equality? Somehow I doubt it. There is a time for looking back at the past but our national anthem should inspire us to think about a better future.
‘In all of us command’ represents reality. Women can serve in our country’s armed forces in all the same roles as men. Women make up half our government’s cabinet.
The current debate about the anthem reminds me of something that happened in a church I attended in the 1980s. I asked for the church constitution to be changed removing the pronoun ‘he’ from descriptions of duties for elected offices in the church. A number of women held these offices but they were still being referred to as ‘he’ in our constitution. My suggestion caused so much debate and alarm I almost left the church.
A trio of Quebec suffragettes who fought for 22 years to give women the right to vote in their province.
But that was more than three decades ago. Surely people have realized by now that language is powerful and can exclude and marginalize. Language isn’t stagnant. It is ever evolving just as the role of women in Canadian society continues to evolve. Hopefully Mr. Plett and his like-minded senators can come to see that.
Are You This Determined to Vote?
An Inclusive O Canada
The Famous Five
Filed under Music, Politics
I have never voted for a Conservative party candidate in my life. My world view, social sensibilities and faith stance are more in line with the policies of other political parties. However a political candidate campaigning at my door this week made think about joining the Conservative Party even if only for a short time.
I live in Point Douglas, a provincial riding that will hold a by-election in the near future due to the resignation of our MLA Kevin Chief.
Jodi Moskal is running for the Conservative nomination for Point Douglas and I have to say she has an impressive resume. A licensed electrician, who helped to run a family business, she has served as chair of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce and a board member of the Winnipeg Construction Association.
When Jodi came to my door to campaign this week I had a good discussion with her about my concerns and questions regarding some of the current Conservative government’s policies and plans. I also talked to her about issues in our riding that are important to me. Jodi was a good listener, knowledgeable and open- minded.
I told Jodi I applauded her for running for the nomination. Deciding to open yourself to the kind of public scrutiny and criticism politicians face can’t be easy. I really wanted to support Jodi because we definitely need more qualified women in politics and I think its great she is taking on the challenge. I could almost see myself joining the Conservatives briefly just to help Jodi get nominated.
Unfortunately her party is not one I can support ideologically. I have however started following her on social media. I’ll be curious to see how she does. Kudos to her for entering the political arena!
There are People in Provencher Who Aren’t Unsavory and Ignorant
Giving Up Donald Trump For Lent
I’m So Tired of You America
The people in the political riding of Provencher are “hateful, unsavory and ignorant!” That’s what you might think if you read the second page feature in Tuesday’s Metro newspaper. I had a copy of the Metro handed to me as I boarded the bus early Tuesday morning. I opened it up and read the piece during my transit ride. I found the article unsettling. It describes a video posted by Provencher member of Parliament Ted Falk on his Facebook page. In the video Mr. Falk suggests refugees who cross the border into Canada at Emerson are taking advantage of kind-hearted Canadians. Falk calls on the Liberal government to make their stance on the issue clear.
I had watched Mr. Falk’s video prior to reading the Metro story. I thought there would have been better ways to address the concerns of his Provencher constituents in Emerson. I wished Mr. Falk had adopted a more welcoming and open-minded tone. While expressing his opinion that additional information and a clear policy from the federal government was required in the Emerson situation, he could have also talked about the many concrete ways we can all provide practical assistance to people from war-torn countries. Mr. Falk could have reminded his constituents that at one time most of their families had been refugees too.
The Metro writer says hundreds of people have written accolades about Mr. Falk’s video on his Facebook page and that is true. I scrolled through the nearly four hundred responses and many are written in a fairly reasonable tone. There are some that remind Mr. Falk he needs to be more compassionate. They speculate as to how Jesus might have acted towards ‘the least among us’ who are crossing the border at Emerson. There are also some comments that say very disrespectful and unkind things about Muslims, the prime minster and refugees in general. I agree with the Metro writer that having provided a platform for these kinds of comments Mr. Falk might respond to them in some way. He could delete or moderate inappropriate comments and remind his Facebook followers that informed, rational dialogue is the path to understanding.
One line in the Metro piece stood out for me. “Sadly, Falk’s views are in tune with those held by many of his constituents.” That line makes it seem like the people in Provencher don’t care about refugees or their plight. I know that isn’t true. To balance their reporting on the Falk video the Metro might also have published a photo of the huge sign outside Grace Mennonite Church in Steinbach that welcomes all people as neighbours in both Arabic and English. They might have reported on the refugee families that are currently being sponsored by groups in southeastern Manitoba or have been sponsored in the past. I personally know of many such stories.
Last summer in the coverage leading up to the Pride Parade in Steinbach the media largely ignored the efforts of the people in southeastern Manitoba who have welcomed their LGBTQ neighbours for years and worked hard to make their communities more accepting. Instead they chose to focus on the less supportive comments and actions of local political leaders. Now they are doing the same thing with the refugee situation.
I lived in Mr. Falk’s riding for some four decades. I know it is home to many people who are open-minded, welcoming, well-informed, thoughtful and compassionate. They need to be featured in media reports about Provencher as well in order to provide more balanced coverage.
Pride in Steinbach isn’t Something New
Thoughts on Refugees
My Former Church and the Pope
Filed under Media, Politics
I need to stop ‘googling’ Donald Trump. I admit I do it several times a day. I am so worried about the changes his government might make to our world that I can’t help myself. But it really isn’t healthy. I can find out enough about what he is doing just from reading the Winnipeg Free Press and listening to the CBC. These are media habits that are part of my regular routine. There is no reason to look for more information. I admit I sometimes even watch Fox news on my computer and read more conservative newspapers because they seem to normalize Trump’s character and the things his government will do to destroy the environment, cause global instability and further hurt the disenfranchised. If these news sources aren’t terrified maybe I shouldn’t be either.
But it would be healthier just to stop looking for so much information. It is taking up too much of my time and worrying about what Trump can and might do is taking up too much of my energy. I could use that time and energy to focus on things I can do to make the world a more compassionate and caring place. I am going to stop ‘googling’ Donald Trump and I will not click on articles about him on my Facebook page. There! Telling you about my resolution makes it a little more likely I will carry it out.
The Trump Silver Lining
Three Lessons From the Movie Arrival
Sunset Walk in America the Beautiful