Category Archives: Politics

Happy About the USMCA?

dairy-cows public domain picture

Dairy farmers aren’t happy with USMCA.

There are Canadians who are happy with the new (USMCA) United States- Mexico- Canada agreement and there are Canadians who are not.  For example on October 1 Macleans magazine ran an interview with BC dairy farmer Dave Taylor who is very disappointed in the agreement but on October 2 the magazine featured an opinion piece by southern Manitoba grain farmer Toban Dyck who says the agreement will continue to foster strong global trade and that’s vitally important to his family’s agriculture operation. 

I belong to (CANSCAIP) The Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers and will be attending their annual conference in Toronto in November.  On Tuesday members received a press release from the Association of Canadian publishers thanking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Minister Chrystia Freeland and the entire Canadian negotiating team for they way the USMCA provides ongoing support to Canadian culture. Apparently the growth and development of the Canadian publishing industry was assured by a section of the agreement that will continue to make it possible for Canadian publishers to export their books to the United States where they earn half of their revenue. 

Listening to the debate during Question Period in Parliament on Monday I heard  Conservative critics grilling Chrystia Freeland about the USMCA pointing out all the ways it was bad for Canada, yet in a quote in the Financial Post the former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney said the agreement was highly significant and Canada had achieved its most important objectives during negotiations. 

Is the new USMCA agreement a good one?  I guess it depends who you ask. 

Other posts……..

Should Women With Young Children Be Politicians?

I Sat In the Speaker’s Chair

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Laughing At the Suffering of Others

They laughed at suffering women!  On May 12, 1982 NDP health critic Margaret Mitchell rose in the Canadian House of Commons to address the issue of domestic abuse.  As a member of the Standing Committee on Health, Welfare and Social Affairs Ms. Mitchell had been hearing story after story from battered women who at the time had no legal recourse to hold their abusive partners accountable and no safe places in the community to escape them. 

Margaret Mitchell speaks in the House of Commons. Photo by Andy Clark -Canadian Press

During question period Margaret Mitchell asked the Liberal Minister for the Status of Women Judy Erola what the government was going to do to address this crisis. “One in ten Canadian husbands beat their wives regularly”  said Ms. Mitchell.  At that the predominantly male House of Commons erupted in laughter. Yes laughter ! Then Tory members of the house began to heckle her. 

Ms. Erola rose to tell the men she did not find their behavior amusing and neither did the women of Canada. She promised to provide funding for more transitional housing.   Margaret then asked the Solicitor General to require the courts treat spousal abuse as a criminal act. Of the more than 10,000 charges laid by abused Canadian wives up to that point only two had resulted in convictions. 

The next day Ms. Mitchell introduced a formal motion asking that the members of the House of Commons who had laughed at her and heckled her apologize.  It was defeated. 

The Atlantic magazine ran an article this week called The Cruelty is the Point. Writer Adam Serwer lists incident after incident where President Trump has made fun of the suffering of others. And incredibly many of his supporters hoot and holler and applaud when he does so. According to Serwer the American President really takes pleasure in his cruelty.

Trump believes the United States is the birthright of straight, white, healthy Christian men. Accordingly he says cruel things about the LGBTQ community, immigrants, black athletes, women who are the victims of sexual violence, Muslims, and people with physical challenges. His bravado in doing so makes his fans feel so proud and happy and united they cheer and laugh. 

But we Canadians should not feel too smug. We need to remember we are capable of such cruelty too, capable of laughing at the suffering of others.  Margaret Mitchell’s experience is a good example. 

Other posts…………….

Are You This Determined to Vote? 

From Pale and Weak to Platoon Commander

Encouragement After the American Election

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Who Should I Vote For in Point Douglas?

Mike Pagtakhan who has represented my home ward of Point Douglas on Winnipeg City Council for the last sixteen years has retired from political life so I need to decide who I will vote for as his replacement.  There are four candidates vying to take Mr. Pagtakhan’s seat. 

Photo from Ms. Santos’ website

Vivian Santos has lots of political experience having worked as Mike Pagtakhan’s assistant and also in the office of mayor Brian Bowman. Before her more recent jobs in city politics she was a legal assistant for two large corporate law firms. According to Ms. Santos’ website she’s been involved in a great many community initiatives and improvement projects as a volunteer. She’s helped build fitness trails, develop programs for seniors, plant new species at an ecological reserve, worked on traffic studies and organized charity events. And she’s a national bronze champion in arm wrestling.  

Photo from Ms. Sjoberg’s candidate Facebook page

Kate Sjoberg has been the executive director of the North Point Douglas Women’s centre and the Spence Neighborhood Association and currently serves as a consultant with the Louis Riel School Division working to improve educational outcomes in neighborhoods impacted by poverty.  She’s on the national board of the John Howard Society which advocates for prison reform. Ms. Sjoberg is also an instructor in urban studies at the University of Winnipeg which means she would bring relevant academic credentials to the role of councilor. Ms. Sjoberg’s website lists her many impressive community involvements which include working to make low-income housing safer, acting as an advocate for more efficient public transportation and trying to get to the bottom of possible lead contamination on land in Point Douglas. 

Photo from Mr. Koshelanyk’s candidate Facebook page

Dean Koshelanyk has such a wide variety of work experience. He’s had jobs in farming, construction, forestry, commercial cleaning, the restaurant business, school photography and technology.  He has been a Winnipeg School Division trustee and has volunteered in the community for more than 7000 hours although on his nominee profile he doesn’t get specific about what kind of volunteering he’s done.  Mr. Koshelanyk has lived in the Point Douglas ward for almost 20 years.  He hasn’t got a website but he does have a Facebook page   where he states the three cornerstones of his campaign are common sense, financial prudence and safety.

Photo by Ligia Braidotti from the Winnipeg Free Press

Filippo Palmisani is the owner of Centurion Enterprises a plumbing and heating business.  It is a little hard to find information about Mr. Palmisani’s platform or background because he appears to have no official website or Facebook page.  I did find a Free Press article written about him at the time he announced his candidacy. He wants to institute a city sales tax to replace property taxes and be more aggressive in attracting businesses that offer high paying jobs to Winnipeg. 

I have to say that right now from what I can find out about the candidates online Ms. Sjoberg is at the top of the list for receiving my vote.  Perhaps I will get more information before the election to change my mind.  I’m certainly open to that. I appreciate the fact that four civic minded people are willing to take the time and make the effort to run for office to represent Point Douglas on city council.   

Other points………..

Pop Up Toilet

Getting Involved At the Nelson Mandela Exhibit

A Woonerf in My Back Lane




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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


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

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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.
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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