Categotry Archives: Canadian Politics


Be Careful What You Don’t Ask For


Categories: Canadian Politics, Just Wrong, piss in your eye, Rants, Women, Tags: , , , , , , ,

PremierTweetNot even three full years after enacting moderately sexist “Frat House Legislation“, Premier Brad Wall announced that his government had “reversed our mistake to allow strip clubs in SK.” With a rather smug nod to the reason being related to human trafficking, without any …whattayacallit… proof or supporting documentation whatsoever, without any public consultation other than the irate moral majority who have nothing better to do than call in to radio talk shows to rant about how watching someone get nekkit on stage at a bar is going to cause their children irreparable damage, and without any, it would seem, common sense.

Leaving for a moment, our senses behind, as is the wont of the government currently in power over us, let us contemplate all of the *actual* dangers of people getting nekkit while alcohol is being served:

  1. Boners
  2. Uncomfortable boners
  3. Spilling drinks (although it can be argued that people in any stage of dress or undress could cause drink spillage; we put this here simply to acknowledge potential dampness)
  4. Labial dampness unrelated to drink spillage
  5. Did I mention boners? Oh. I did. Right.
  6. Having God revoke your get-in-to-heaven-free card because it states quite plainly in 2 Abyssinians how “The Lord Shall Smiteth anyone whososever shall gaze upon the nekkit flesh of dancing dancers while consuming the wine of the grape or the beer of the barley plant”. Oh wait. That’s not in the bible? Really? Well who WROTE that thing? It should be. You know what? I’m just going to pencil that right in there. What do you MEAN Abyssinians isn’t a book in the bible? I’m penciling that in there too. THERE. Now there’s BIBLICAL PROOF that strippers are, like, evil and shit when there’s alcohol being served. TAKE THAT, ALBERTA. You’re all going to hell. Except Taber.
  8. Boners

Women and men who choose to dance, I can’t believe we have to go over this again, nekkit or mostly nekkit, choose to do so for many reasons. In some cases, women (primarily) and men are being forced in to the ILLEGAL SEX TRADE (of which, I’m sure, a side-line is perfectly legal, regulated, and inspected nightclubs) for a multitude of reasons, including *but not limited to* poverty, substance abuse, mental health challenges, abusive histories, and a shameful and general lack of support for any of those things.

This may be a naive and simple view of the issue, because I don’t have any of the details the provincial government used to base their wishy-washy reversal of their own legislation on. They haven’t chosen to make that information public yet. I would like to see the statistical numbers from police across the country that will show me a positive causative relationship between dancing with your clothes off while alcohol is served and a rise in human trafficking.

The assumption that this legislation ONLY affects “young women” shows a fairly common (but maddening) dismissal of what’s actually happening in the sex trade.

This legislation isn’t going to protect young people at risk (regardless of their gender). It will serve to drive those activities further underground and will put the people working in these trades at further risk. You want to talk exploitation? Let’s talk about whether someone who chooses to dance partially nude (remember, the previous legislation prevented women (and only women) from displaying the “ends of their breasts” (nipples) and all dancers from displaying their genitals) is being exploited, or whether someone who’s had to, for a multitude of reasons, turn to the streets to earn their living and who is forced in to dancing partially nude (or fully nude, since the reversed new legislation doesn’t care about nipples OR junk) is being exploited. I know some folks will say both people are being exploited. I think that choice is, at its core, fundamentally empowering. And if you freely and without coercion, understanding all the risks and benefits, choose to shake your booty at a bunch of people who are simultaneously consuming liquor, THAT SHOULD BE YOUR RIGHT.

Making sex illegal does not stop the sex trade. It never has. What it DOES do is put sex workers at risk. There IS empirical evidence to support this.

Now. We’ve left our sense behind long enough. Let’s look at what else this asinine decision does.

  1. Removes any sort of credibility the governing party might once have had. The initial legislation was introduced in the fall of 2012, and it wasn’t until two years later that licensed establishments were beginning to pop up. There were discussions about where strip clubs could and couldn’t be located (not within 50 feet of a bowling alley, that’s for sure), and local business owners were just starting to really take advantage of this new and somewhat progressive (if sexist) legislation. But then, in March 2015, the Premier announced that nope, sorry. No titties. Specifically, no titties while you enjoy a brew.
  2. Proves to the people of Canada that Saskatchewan is pretty much a laughing-stock of a province. Because no matter how much you trumpet that this decision was “not motivated by the morality police”, NOBODY IS GOING TO BELIEVE YOU. We’re already considered the bible belt of Canada, for God’s sake. Hell, just try being brown. Or even off-white. WE ARE THE OZARKS OF CANADA.
  3. If you don’t care about what the rest of the country thinks about us (and if you’re willing to stop comparing us to Alberta), then maybe you care about what kind of precedent this move sets. The government brings in progressive legislation, and then, a week after it releases a somewhat shady budget (in which it borrows rather a lot of money in order to “balance the books”), it reverses the progressive legislation. That kind of move screams “SHELL GAME! SHELL GAME!”. Where SHOULD you be looking?
  4. By re-criminalizing (partially) nude performances in licensed establishments while alcohol is being served, the Saskatchewan government has re-linked burlesque performances, strip teases, and exotic dancing with the illegal sex trade. Philosophically and realistically.
  5. We’ve just called every woman and man who chooses to do burlesque, strip tease, and exotic dancing a prostitute. How? We’ve just said, by repealing this legislation, that nude performances in licensed establishments when liquor is being served is pretty much the same thing as people being sold against their will for sex acts. We haven’t said that overtly, but that is absolutely one of the connotations. Classy.

This could turn in to a much longer rant about how the only real way to combat the illegal sex trade is to legalize (or at the VERY least decriminalize) all aspects of the sex trade, but I’m not going to go there. That’s for another day.

I would like to hear from the parents of children in places where strip teases, exotic dancing, and burlesque are legal and regulated at licensed establishments. I want to know how, exactly your children have been IRREPARABLY DAMAGED. I would like to know how much the crime stats have risen in regard to human trafficking, and how much of that can be directly related to topless (but with pasties) dancing women, and not to OTHER organized crime activities like, oh, I dunno, drugs and weapons.

I will admit I don’t know a whole lot about organized crime, so I don’t know if it’s a common practice for, like, the Russian mob to make under-the-table deals with legitimate, law-abiding business owners to provide underage or coerced/unwilling strippers for their shows. The guy who ran that strip club in small town Saskatchewan seemed pretty okay with what sounded like a fairly dodgy practice, and I’d like to see business owners have an incentive to hire Saskatchewan performers over imported talent in general – not just in the thong-and-pasties categories. I think that’d go a long way to combating human trafficking in strip clubs.

Ultimately, I have to trust that the Premier of Saskatchewan is operating on some very compelling, very provable, very reliable statistics that without a shadow of a doubt prove that women (particularly) and men shaking their mostly nude booties in establishments where patrons consume liquor are at risk of human trafficking. Sadly, I don’t trust that the Premier of Saskatchewan has any such information, because if he did, he’d release it for public scrutiny. And if the Premier of Saskatchewan will backpedal so fast and so completely on this issue, what else is he going to backpedal on?

I’m disappointed in my province once again.



Saskatchewan Racist as Fuck No Surprise To Anyone But Folks Who Don’t Like Indians

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Categories: Bad Mojo, Canadian Politics, education, Just Wrong, Rants, Tags: , , , , ,

Yeah, I stole the title from my own Twitter stream.

I’ve seen these headlines over the last couple of days that talk about how SHOCKED everyone is to find out that SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH has PROVEN that Saskatchewan is full of people who pretty much hate each other. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has lived in this province for more than ten minutes. Seriously, we can’t stand each other. But because it’s so goddamned cold in this province, we help each other because there’s a good chance that at some point in the near future you’re going to be stranded on that stretch of highway #1 between Moose Jaw and Swift Current where literally nothing happens for days unless someone is looking, which nobody ever is.

"Deny" image by Asif Akbar used royalty-free from

“Deny” image by Asif Akbar used royalty-free from

White folks are racist towards “The Indians” (or, if you’re outside of a small town but not quite in one of the cities, “The Natives”), “The Immigrants”, “Those Mooselimbs”, “The Catholics”, “The Protestants”, “That Black Guy” [excluding football players], “The Chinese” (sometimes also referred to as “Asians” as if Asia weren’t, you know, fucking immense and full of many nationalities, but whatever. See “The Indians” above.), “The French” and basically anyone who can’t trace their own lineage to other white folks. French people are not included as “white folks” because Quebec. And of course people (mostly dolts) talk about “reverse racism” (which doesn’t exist) which is what happens when a brown person hates a non-brown person. It’s still racism. It’s just the kind of racism that happens when an historically ill-served and abused culture ends up hating the privileged class or race.

And yes, I’m just going to go ahead and use the term “racist” and “racism” synonymously with “bigot” and “bigotry” because sometimes when I get going on a rant I don’t much care about the vagaries of nit-picky word origin when we all know what we mean. We mean the kind of knee-jerk, ingrained, culturally insensitive distaste and prejudice we have against an entire class/culture/group of people based on a single or small select group of characteristics. SO GO AHEAD AND TELL ME IT ISN’T TECHNICALLY RACISM TO HATE MUSLIMS. It’s still ruddy bigotry so that’s what we’re dealing with.

Look, we have a long and storied history of misunderstanding, ignoring, mistreating, and basically hating the Aboriginal peoples of our province. And the immigrant peoples. This comes primarily from the long and storied history we have, as descendents of Europeans, of hating each other. THIS IS WHAT WE DO. It should come as no surprise to anyone that WE STILL HATE EACH OTHER. Because what have we done to change our own behaviour?

Sure, you watched a movie about Gandhi, and boy howdy he was a really smart little Indian dude. You thought Nelson Mandela was kind of keen. You said you’d have voted for Obama. It’s sure easy to point our fingers at all the hate and intolerance all over the world and still be unable to see our own prejudices. To be unable to acknowledge that we still comment about how our doctors are “darkies, but they’re not quacks” (that’s a direct quote from a guy I know). To express shocking ignorance at our own history of systematic destruction of entire nations’ language, culture, and religion in what any other place would be called genocide or ethnic cleansing but what in Canada we choose to call “that nasty business with the residential schools”.

It’s pretty easy to say shit like “well all that nasty business that happened with the residential schools – you should just get over it. If it weren’t for the Europeans, you’d still be living in tents, for God’s sake”, which is something I still hear people say. And they’re not joking. Heaven forfend you should mention Treaties. Because somehow, magically, these internationally-binding agreements that *our government* signed on *our behalf* don’t apply to us? Because, what, that was just, you know, a thing that some dudes did, like, a hundred years ago or whatever but it doesn’t apply now.

Do you know why there are a bunch of different countries in Europe? Africa? Asia? BECAUSE OF INTERNATIONAL TREATIES, you boob.

Anyway. Yeah. That Saskatchewan is racist as fuck is not news. That very few people seem to be able to figure out that ACCURATE INFORMATION and education is the first way out of the hole into which we have all, seemingly quite happily, jumped is pretty sad. The first step in eradicating racism is a very, very easy step. But it involves leaving your ego at the door, and sadly, I don’t think we’re even close to that yet.


Great Tracts of Land


Categories: Canadian Politics, Canadian Politics, Rants, Tags: , , , ,

newbra This was another one of those yelly-at-the-radio days.

Listen, it isn’t very often that I’m actually *ashamed* of the place that I choose to live. I love this place 98% of the time. But then some ninny axes a film employment tax credit or some jackass starts up a petition against frigging strip clubs and I get a little tetchy. So here’s the deal. I’m sure you’ve already heard about this, and if you haven’t, I envy you.

A little while ago, Saskatchewan enabled some pretty sexist legislation. The gist of it is that we have now joined the rest of the filthy, heathen, craven and friendly-to-criminals places in the world that *allow* licensed establishments to feature exotic dancing – specifically, stripping – WHILE ALCOHOL IS SERVED. I know, I know, you’re clutching your pearls and reaching for the little tin of nitrous tablets you keep tucked just inside your girdle. You’re fanning yourself with the programme from this morning’s church service (where the sermon was “Wasn’t Jesus a Nice Guy? Like, He Was Really, Really Nice. Except To Some Of The Jews.”) You’ve screwed up your face into a tight little slit-eyes-and-pursed-lips potato and you are sitting down to write a letter. AND YOU MAY NOT OPEN IT WITH “DEAR” BECAUSE YOU ARE SO UPSET.

There is, of course, a catch to this legislation, but don’t let go of those pearls yet because it ACTUALLY GETS WORSE. Yes. WORSE THAN SERVING LIQUOR WHILE SOMEONE TAKES OFF THEIR CLOTHING IN PUBLIC. If you are a man, you can strip down to your loincloth, but if you are a woman, you have to truss up your milk taps. Because we all know that nipples killed JFK. And started the second world war. Probably at the same time because nipples, as we all know, can time travel. AND ARE RADIOACTIVE. It is, frankly, a wonder that any of us survived infancy at all. Thank GOD the dairy and pharmaceutical companies in the US put so much money into promoting infant formula!

…of COURSE I’m getting off topic.

[Reel it in, cenobyte. Reel it in.]

So MORE THAN TWENTY PEOPLE and groups will be speaking against a business owner who wishes to open a strip club in the industrial area (don’t worry, it’s nowhere near a bowling alley) in Regina. MORE THAN TWENTY. That’s, like, some kind of record. I think we only got seven speaking out against the stadium they’re building RIGHT NEXT TO THE EXISTING STADIUM. [And now we play ‘how many rage-inducing news stories can cenobyte fit in to one blog post?’]

Fine. Whatever. Speak out against strip clubs and show off your “Oral Roberts-Moral Majority-Right wing ultra conservative-Let’s try to get the church EVEN MORE involved in government” political leanings. Trot out your asinine (and, might I add, fallacious) argument that strip clubs mean organized crime, prostitution, and I dunno, probably scurvy. Trot out those arguments with absolutely no substantiation, no evidence, and, frankly, no common sense. If you just came right out and said “look, this is a knee-jerk reaction I’m having because frankly nakedness terrifies me”, I’d be much happier. But there are a few things going on here that grind my gears.

1) To the nutsack on the radio (“Rob from Regina”) who said “to these women who dance in strip clubs and have families, how do you look your children in the eye”, I’d just like to say “the same way you do, buttmunch”. People who choose to remove their clothing for money are exploiting very common human weaknesses: libido and voyeurism. You’re probably jealous that dancers can make more money in a weekend than you make in a month, *just by taking off their shirts and trousers and writhing to some shitty music*. The women and men who choose to dance at nightclubs are, by and large, not forced to do so. Dancing is an art form and a rigorous physical activity. Don’t believe me? Then get up in front of your television tonight and dance for an hour. Leave your clothes on if you’d like because everyone knows naked bodies are unclean in the eyes of the Lord. What is wrong with earning money by taking off your clothes? It’s a STRIP CLUB, not a goddamned BROTHEL. And if it WERE a brothel, there STILL shouldn’t be anything illegal about selling sex, but I fear I’m getting off topic again.

This may be the same nincompoop who said “I don’t want my children to have to see that every time we go to the pet store across the street; if this club opens, we will shop elsewhere”. a) Probably the businesses won’t notice your leaving, unless you drop several thousand dollars there a week, but the sentiment is appreciated; b) way to teach your children that avoiding an issue you feel strongly about is the best way to deal with it. Classy. Reeeeeal classy; c) I’m not making any judgements here, but when I go shopping for pet food with *my* kids, I choose not to stop at the strip club with them. I mean, that probably makes me some kind of Hitler, but the last time I was in Calgary and had to pick something up at a business across the street from the strip club, I just left the kids in the car with the windows rolled up and the doors locked and the engine shut off because safety first. They *were*, of course, wearing their safety helmets. It’s okay; I wasn’t gone more than a second. And they had their portable DVD players and watched reruns of Dora anyway. They kept begging me, “Mom, can we PLEASE go to that building over there that’s clearly closed in the middle of the day and has no windows and vomit in the parking lot? That place looks like a LOT of fun!”, but I just said no. Because sometimes, you have to say no to your children.

Astarte in Phonecia – statue from the Louvre, image from Wikipedia

2) The legislation itself is ridiculously sexist, and the application of it appears to also be sexist. It’s always really bothered me that strip clubs that feature women dancers do not have a cover charge for female patrons. I don’t understand that decision, and I don’t like it. I’ve been to several strip clubs, some “classier” than others, most featuring godawful music and a distinct aura of deep and abiding melancholy sadness and misery, but some of those dancers were bloody amazing to watch. I never much liked the lap dances, but then I read something about Astarte/Ishtar, who was a warrior goddess who embodied sex and fertility (her sister Asherah was the mother goddess, showing a distinct separation of sexual passion and motherhood, which some of us appear to have forgotten), and how she could control entire armies by dancing. She danced and inflamed the soldiers’ passions until they fought among themselves and kind of forgot to attack the thing they were going to attack. Then I think she killed them all and showed no mercy, but you know, this is why she is often represented as an “evil” goddess – we simply cannot abide women having any sort of power.

Again, I’m off-topic. I have a huge problem with the sexist nature of this legislation. I still don’t understand what makes female nipples so bloody terrifying; do strippers shoot acid out of them? Is that why female strippers need to wear electrical tape pasties? Are female strippers’ nipples wired to terror cells in the middle east so that crazed “radicalized” jihadists can personally identify western leaders and target them? [waves at the NSA – hope you enjoy the blog. Stay for some cookies after.] Oh, oh. *I* get it. Women’s nipples remind politicians of their grandmothers. THAT’S why they’re so scary.

3) You have no problem building your house within spitting distance of an oil refinery or a steel plant that probably pump tonnes of toxic whatever into the air right around the yard your kids probably don’t play in because teevee, but you’re getting your knickers in a knot over some people taking off their clothes in front of drunks? What is the worst that’s going to happen at a strip club? Some guys will have too much to drink and will try to touch one of the dancers or will start fighting over who gets to slip a $20 into Cinnamon’s thong, and they’ll be kicked out. Maybe some police will show up. Some woman will end up crying in the bathroom because her boyfriend whatever-whatever drama God I don’t miss my 20s. How is this different from *any other nightclub*? Gee. Call the national guard. Tell them people are morons when they drink and that someone, somewhere in your city has nearly naked boobies on display.

Why are you so afraid of men and women being sexually aroused in a public place? Do you not understand how SAD that really is? It’s the furthest thing from dangerous there is. Some poor schmo goes to the strip club to see naked people dancing (sorry: almost naked), has a few drinks, then goes home to have a sad and lonely wank over the Penthouse centrefold from January 1999. Or a bunch of women get together and actually can’t come up with anything better to do as a fundraiser or a night out together than to go to the strip club and watch oiled beefcakes shake their packages in sequined speedos. Several drinks later, those same ladies will be scrapping on the bus over some stupid thing that one of them said to someone else’s room-mate’s sister’s seventh dog’s previous owner.

Sex is entertainment just as much, if not more than, it is an intimate display of affection. Let’s just think about what else there is that we do which has been commodified, commercialised, and exploited. Sports, art, music, broadcasting, exercise, pregnancy, family, education, health care, agriculture, resource mining, renewable resources, food, labour, trades…Find me something that hasn’t had a reality show made about it, and I’ll concede that there’s a possibility that it hasn’t been exploited for money (yet). So why vilify the sex trade at all? And why vilify this pretty innocuous portion of the sex trade?

It’s just boobies, people. Just boobies. And junk. But mostly boobies. If you live in Regina and have an opinion on this, there’s a committee meeting tonight about it. Go have your voice heard. Whether you’re a pearl-clutcher (who is probably apoplectic after this rant) or not.


Creative Industry versus Arts

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Categories: Canadian Politics, Porblems, Rants, True Stories, Tags: , ,

Recently, the Saskatchewan government released information surrounding the creation of a new agency to support the second and third and leg of the arts continuum. “What the hell are you talking about?” You may be asking. “What in the blue hell is an arts continuum?”

I know you’re asking this, because most of the criticism I’ve seen against the move by the government to create this agency has been all about how this will be the death knell for the Saskatchewan Arts Board (the oldest standing arms-length arts funding agency in the world, after London). I’ve heard that the creation of this agency was meant as a replacement for the film employment tax credit. Murray Mandryk mistakenly, in his column in the Regina Leader Post, claims that a fund included in this announcement was “siphoned” from the Arts Board and that the government “replaced a grant system for the film industry with a far less lucrative grant system for the entire arts community”. (Mandryk’s column in the Leader Post is here.)

I’m going to tell you what (in my opinion) the government has done wrong in this whole schlameel. First, they got rid of the Film Employment Tax Credit. That was just stupid. It was short-sighted, and it firmly placed Saskatchewan in last place in most of North America when it comes to progressive, revenue-generating programs for industrial arts grants. Second, they have not done very much (and it’s not just the government here; we all of us in the Creative Industries need to do more) to educate the people of this province about what the Creative Industries are and how they differ from “the Arts” and “Culture”.

So, with your indulgence, I’m going to tell you what the Creative Industries are and why what the SaskParty government is doing with Creative Saskatchewan is a Good Thing. I’m also going to tell you why Murray Mandryk is so wrong about that one million dollar ‘transitional fund’.

The Arts Continuum – Here’s how it works: And artist is a creator. Artists create art because that is their profession. Because they are driven to do so. Writers, painters, photographers, dancers, actors, musicians, sculptors, graphic artists, etc., are all *creators*. You/we make things from nothing. We transform things that already exist into something else. We are engaged in the creation of art. Some of us do this for the sake of art. Some of us do this to try to make a living. The arts in Canada must be publicly funded – and what I mean here is that there must be public funding for artists to create art. That is the role of the Saskatchewan Arts Board. They help make it possible for artists to create, and they help to promote and to foster an understanding and appreciation for the arts and for the importance of the arts. The Saskatchewan Arts Board is an integral part of Saskatchewan, and it isn’t going anywhere. I hope to God it isn’t going anywhere.

Once the creation process is complete, some art forms then go on to a production stage. This is the industrial component of the Arts Continuum, and it encompasses, but is not limited to, the commercialisation of the artistic product. What I mean is, a musician composes a song (art) and performs the song (art) and then records the song (production) and then sells the record (commercialisation). A writer pens a novel (art) and reads from the novel (art) and a publisher accepts the manuscript for publication (production) and sells the book (commercialisation). A producer finds a script she likes (an artistic product) and hires a director and actors to perform the screenplay (production) on film. That film is then distributed (commercialisation) and sold.

The Creative Industries are the PRODUCERS of artistic products. They are the art galleries, the recording studios (or the musicians themselves, if they produce their own recordings), the book publishers (or the writers themselves if they self-publish), the theatre companies, the film producers, the craftspeople and artisans whose primary focus is to distribute, sell, and market their products. Creative Saskatchewan is being constructed (and it’s important to note that this agency is still in gestational form – nothing is solid in its creation yet) for the purposes of supporting Creative Industries in a similar fashion to how the Saskatchewan Arts Board fosters artists and creators.

Many arts-focussed agencies (like the SK Arts Board) do not focus on sales, distribution, marketing, production, market penetration, etc.. Many arts-focussed agencies concentrate on supporting “the arts” and the CREATION of art. What the SaskParty Government is doing here is trying to foster the Creative Industries. The commercial aspect of the arts which is often kind of forgotten or overlooked. There are agencies that exist like this for the non-creative industries.

British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes provinces all have some kind of Creative Industries support. In most provinces in Canada, a model similar to what the government proposes for Creative Saskatchewan is in place IN ADDITION TO publicly funded arts agencies like the Saskatchewan Arts Board. The creative industries agencies help producers to access domestic and international markets with cultural products (books, movies, music, craftworks, visual art, dance productions, theatre productions, etc.). So what the SaskParty government is trying to do is to put Saskatchewan in the front of Canada’s Creative Industries, not have us trailing behind.

In other words, this agency is not, and was never proposed to be a “replacement for the Film Employment Tax Credit”. Creative Industry Sector Organisations have been talking about a creative industries agency for YEARS. Long before the government axed a perfectly good revenue-generation support for an entire industry. Be angry about their having axed that program. Be VERY angry about it. But don’t pretend that Creative Saskatchewan is intended to be a replacement or a band-aid or a consolation prize. And the film sector has been, is, and will be included in all of the planning for this agency. It’s not like the province just said “screw you; here’s your gift bag, go home” to the film industry.

This one million dollar fund that Murray Mandryk claims is being “siphoned” from the SK Arts Board was established years ago. Initially it was money that was supposed to be used for something entirely different. The SK Arts Board became the steward of that fund (following a review of the music industry in Saskatchewan, when all of the Creative Industries Sector Organisations were moved from one funding agency to another [from SaskCulture to SK Arts Board]) and it became their $1.15M revolving loan program. The truth of the matter is that that fund was under-utilized. It was not accessible to many creative industry applications because of the nature of their business models. The SK Arts Board did everything in their power to increase the use of the fund, but it just wasn’t something that most creative industries could use. The SK Arts Board, working with the Ministry of Parks, Culture, and Sport, have transitioned that fund from something completely unusable to something that DOES have real applications in the creative industries. So it’s not being siphoned from anywhere. It’s been changed so that people and cultural industries producers can actually use it.

What are the Creative Industries in Saskatchewan? Again, here the media releases have it a little wrong. “Writing” is not a creative industry. Writing is an artistic endeavour. PUBLISHING is a creative industry. Currently, the Creative Industries Sectors (and their related organisations) are: music (SaskMusic), film and television (SaskFilm and SMPIA), book publishing (Saskatchewan Publishers Group), craft (Saskatchewan Craft Council), art galleries (SaskArt), dance production (Dance Saskatchewan), theatre production (currently without an industry organisation but represented by individuals from the theatre production community), visual arts (CARFAC), and digital arts (and I’m ashamed that I can’t remember the name of the organisation that represents digital arts – which includes the games industry, btw). In all the media releases you have seen, “writing and publishing” has been included as a creative industry, and that’s wrong. It’s a small error, but it’s one that sticks in my craw.

It indicates that the government’s big mistake here is in not being as clear as possible about something that most of the people in this province have not heard of, are not familiar with, and don’t understand. Another shameful oversight is that nowhere in the media release or anywhere on the Government’s website is it indicated that Saskatchewan has and has had a well-established Creative Industries Council (a non-profit organisation developed by and run by people from the five original cultural industries organisations in the province) for years. Its website is here:

So. That’s the deal. The SK Arts Board isn’t going to be taken over by Creative Saskatchewan. They have completely different mandates (or they will, once CS is actually created), and completely different applications, and completely different sectors/patrons. The provincial government isn’t trying to replace the Film Employment Tax Credit with this transitional fund, and they’re not trying to squeeze film out of the new agency. Their big mistake is in not taking up the mantle of public education about the Creative Industries, and, on a smaller scale, of *still* not quite getting it right when it comes to the publishing sector.


Labellium, Labellia, Labellioooo


Categories: Canadian Politics, Tags: , , ,

Because if you will not uphold Canada's foundations, the entire house of cards will come tumbling down around us, eagle feathers, wheat sheaves, and all.

(this post has been featured on Five Star Friday! Five Star Friday )

We are all so frightened of labels. We say we’re not, but really, we are. You say you don’t give a fig what other people think of you, but when someone calls you a bully or an intolerant bitch, there are plenty of figs to be given. It’s a veritable cornucopia of figs. A HORN O’FIGS A’PLENTY, one might say.

This has really struck home in the last few weeks as the Idle No More movement has swept across the country sparking action and debate. I made the mistake of listening to the radio this morning (it behoves me that there are so many ass-o-penny dinglehoppers on the radio nowabouts, because radio really is my first love, and lover, you’re losing me) and some jubejube said something about how Idle No More doesn’t really have a ‘focus’ and how their ‘platform’ is ‘vague’. I complained a little about this in my last post.

I’ve read the Idle No More website, and their focus seems pretty focussed to me. Sovereignty and working towards sustainable, renewable development of resources which need to be protected. That’s…that’s pretty clear. I mean, short of saying “we want a say in how our environment is going to be used”, I’m really not sure how much more clear that could be. Personally, I think there are people who CHOOSE not to “get it”. Just so that they can be thicky thick thick McThickertons from Thickville (to borrow liberally from my favourite Doctor). Perhaps I have misunderstood entirely what the movement is about.

Anyway, aside from the thicky thick thick McThickertons from Thickville, there’s something else going on that’s really interesting. People are talking. And most of the time, they’re skirting around some pretty big button items. They’re speaking in a kind of code. It’s not a subtle code, but it’s code nonetheless. And they’re speaking in this code because they’re terrified of being labelled. Specifically, they’re terrified of being labelled racists.

Whether you support this grassroots movement or not, you are entitled to your opinion. Whether you believe Canada’s First Nations are actually sovereign nations is your decision entirely. Whether you believe the Government of Canada is doing all the treaty people a huge disservice by inserting the thin edge of the wedge into waterways and environmental protection is completely your game. You get to think what you want and you get to say what you want and personally I think you ought to do so without being afraid of the labels you’re going to have stuck on you.

I mean, if you *are* a racist, then I want to hear you say it. I want to hear you say “I just don’t like Native people.” Then I know where I stand.

And…and here’s the really important bit. It’s super duper important. It’s probably one of the most important things I’m going to say in a while. Just because you don’t agree with someone doesn’t mean you are being discriminatory or bigoted. That means you can disagree with Idle No More without being a racist. You can disagree with the treaties themselves without being a racist. You can hate the fact that ANY Canadians get treated differently from any OTHER Canadians, and that doesn’t make you a racist.

You’re going to hear a lot of words bandied about in this narrative. You’re going to hear words like patriarchal and colonial and my own personal favourite, “white privilege” (I get a kick out of people who don’t think the term white privilege is racist. Of COURSE it’s racist. If it were just ‘privilege’, it’d be different, but once you assign an ethnicity/skin colour to it by which you define a group of people who may or may not be a part of the group, you’re using bigoted terminology). You’re going to hear a lot about sovereignty and nation-to-nation consultation and discussion. You’re going to hear a lot about injustice and inequity.

I’m not saying those things don’t exist. I’m saying they’re buzzwords. And a lot of the time, people use buzzwords like that because either they think it makes them sound more clever or more authentic or they think it gives their arguments more gravitas. The *problem* with using buzzwords is that they begin to lose their meaning. They begin to be a bit fuzzy.

I, and my family for the past three generations are part of Treaty 4. You can find the entirety of Treaty 4 here. And you can find a guide to Treaty 4 here. In fact, you can find all of the treaties signed between the British Empire and the First Nations peoples in those same locations. I am not going to go in to much about the treaties, because I am by no means a scholar in the subject and barely even have a working knowledge of them. But I have read Treaty 4, and much of Treaties 5 and 6, and some of Treaty 7. I may have read more than that in grade school, but I don’t now recall it if I did (yes, we did study the treaties when I was in grade school).

I come from a place of privilege. Great privilege, in fact. Both of my parents are University graduates and had good-paying careers. All four of my grandparents had careers (not just jobs) and earned good incomes for their families. Seven out of eight of my great-grandparents had paying jobs that helped them provide for their families. None of my grandparents were harmed in residential schools. None of them was told they could not practice their religion nor speak their language. Only the women were told they could not go to the same public places others could. My grandparents and my parents were able to provide for me the sort of life their own grandparents couldn’t have imagined. And I benefitted from this over and over, and still do, to this day.

I had a stable home to live in. We had good food to eat. I had good clothes to wear. I received an excellent education. I received excellent health care. We owned our own land, and our own home. We had income and savings. We could afford to travel. I was able to participate in sports and in cultural groups and events. The cycle of substance abuse was stopped. The history of violence ended before I ever came into the world. My life was stable. But more than that, my life was SAFE.

Perhaps this all happened because of the colour of my great-grandparents’ skin. Or because of the religion my grandparents observed. My ancestors are survivors of colonialism and were driven from their native land. Their religion and culture was outlawed as well. Yet I still come from a place of privilege. And I don’t think for a moment that that makes me better or worse than anyone else. I also recognise that’s probably the privilege talking. It’s easy for me to say that because I don’t know what it’s like any other way. And that is absolutely, 100% true. I could very well be talking out of my arse here.

When I was young, there were families living on the student residence up the street from my home. My neighbour’s auntie, who was an elder, used to have me over for fry bread and tea. I learned a lot from that terrifying woman. I think most of all, I learned respect. Because she demanded it. Because she lived it. She just…she HAD it, you know?

So listen, I don’t consider myself a bigot. I really don’t. Maybe I am. Maybe I have some outdated ideas, or maybe my ideas come from ignorance or from a lack of empathy or understanding. I freely admit these are all possibilities.

I also freely admit that I don’t know if “assimilation” is good or bad. I can see both sides of the argument. Sure, every citizen of a country ought to have the same rights and privileges. Sure, there are historical inequities and injustices that must be addressed before we can consider ourselves to be on equal ground with many cultural groups in Canada. First Nations, whose ancestral grounds we now call ‘home’. Asian peoples, whose ancestors emigrated here and were essentially treated as indentured servants. Japanese and eastern European people, who were placed in internment camps during the war on suspicion of espionage and treason. We all of us have rights, and we all of us deserve to be treated with respect and with a mind to the historical wrongs which have been committed against us by our own government.

My point here is why can’t we have these discussions with one another without fear of reprisal of being labelled as intolerant, discriminatory, racist bigots? Why can’t we express our opinions without having to FIGHT about them? I support the Idle No More movement. I support the Duty to Consult (incidentally, if you’d like to know more about the government’s legislated duty to consult with First Nations and Aboriginal Peoples regarding land use, stewardship, etc., there’s a really good book out there about it called The Duty to Consult: New Relationships with Aboriginal Peoples by Dwight G. Newman. And if you’d like to read up on Treaty and Constitutional Rights, check out Aboriginal Law: Commentary and Analysis by Thomas Isaac). I don’t know what I think about “assimilation”; it sounds terrible. I don’t know what I think about Bills C-30 and C-45 (did I get those both right?). My gut reaction is that the federal government, which I don’t trust any further than I can stand to PM Harper Himself, is using these omnibus bills to, if you’ll pardon the expression, bend us over a sawhorse and leave us with our britches to the wind when it comes to environmental protection and the sovereignty of our waterways. I haven’t any evidence to substantiate that suspicion.

But I don’t think it’s fair to call me a racist if I don’t agree with your position. If I don’t want to use words like colonialism and patriarchy and ‘white privilege’. I agree that genocides have been committed, without agreeing that my family is in some way personally responsible. Particularly when they were fleeing the same institutions that did the same thing to their families so far away. They didn’t vote for the King or the Queen. They didn’t want that government. And for cripe’s sake, some of them weren’t even white. WHY DOES THE COLOUR OF THEIR SKIN MATTER?

Argh. I’ve got myself all off-topic again.

But the gist of all of this is that I think it’s *possible* and, indeed *necessary* to get rid of the incendiary language if we’re going to actually have meaningful discussions. You can say what you mean to say without being arrogant or aggressive or cruel or vindictive, and so can I. We can talk about important things that matter without starting a fight. And we must. Because whether you agree with me or not, if you live in this country, your future depends on the Treaties. Your future depends on the sovereignty of our nation, of our nation’s ability to and willingness to provide due diligence when it comes to land and resource use policy and implementation. Your future depends on our ability to speak plainly to one another and to try to understand, even if we’ll never live in one another’s lives, and never truly share each other’s memories and souls. Your future depends on our government’s willingness to follow their own laws without passing new legislation that works around other legislation or that provides a convenient loophole or exception to the laws and agreements that this country was founded upon.

Because if you will not uphold Canada’s foundations, the entire house of cards will come tumbling down around us, eagle feathers, wheat sheaves, and all.


Walk a Mile

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Categories: Canadian Politics, Canadian Politics, Rants, Tags: , , ,

A few days ago, I had one of those "eff you, I'm turning off the radio and all y'all are just a bunch of paint-sniffing reticulated jerk muffins" moments. It was about Idle No More. If you're Canadian and you haven't heard about this grassroots protest against legislation that may infringe upon our treaty rights. It's an interesting movement and protest, and I think it's starting to polarize the country in a way that few other things have in recent memory.

A few days ago, I had one of those “eff you, I’m turning off the radio and all y’all are just a bunch of paint-sniffing reticulated jerk muffins” moments. It was about Idle No More. If you’re Canadian and you haven’t heard about this grassroots protest against legislation that may infringe upon our treaty rights, you may be a cave dweller, or you may just be the sort of person who doesn’t pay attention to…you know…stuff. Like everything. It’s an interesting movement and protest, and I think it’s starting to polarize the country in a way that few other things have in recent memory.

We’ve had the primarily east versus west debate against whether gun registries are a good idea, but I don’t think that polarized anyone. There were folks with strong opinions, but central Canada doesn’t listen to them anyway, so it didn’t count as polarization.

But here’s the thing that upset me the other day. Chief Theresa Spence has embarked on a hunger strike in an attempt to get Prime Minister Harper to meet with her to discuss the concerns Canadians have with the omnibus bill that appears to target our treaties. She began her hunger strike in early December, and she’s living on an island within view of Parliament. And it’s come as a surprise to precisely no one that Prime Minister Harper has basically put his fingers in his ears and has been singing “LA LA LA LA LA I DON’T HEAR YOU!” ever since.

Our Prime Minister has made no secret of the fact that he’s a brilliant tactician, which means he’s a bit of a despot. He controls all the information that his party gets to have. He keeps his MPs on a short leash. He tells the media where and when they can ask questions, and if he doesn’t like the questions they ask, he doesn’t just refuse to answer them, he leaves. He does things his way, and he doesn’t give a fiddler’s fart what anyone else in Canada thinks about his way of doing things. He gets to run rampant over what used to be the best country in the world because Canadians can’t be arsed to vote him out. [Insert rant here about how democracy doesn’t exist in Canada.]

So someone in the media started bitching about how Chief Spence’s hunger strike involves her drinking water and fish broth, and how that doesn’t actually count as a hunger strike because a hunger strike is supposed to be when you don’t eat any food at all and clearly Chief Spence is doing it wrong and so that negates everything she says. And on the heels of that “neener neener we’re way smarter than you and can see right through your stupid hunger strike that isn’t a REAL hunger strike because if you were on a REAL hunger strike you’d be DEAD by now” opposition, there are people saying that the Idle No More movement lacks focus, is too vague, and is disorganised.

First things first. Hunger strikes were recognised as legitimate means of protest since the Irish invented it (which was a very long time ago. Seriously. I read it in a book. And the all-knowing Wizard Wikipedia just confirmed it. So it has to be true.) Now, I’m not really sure if there’s a “Hunger Strikes for Dummies” book, or if there’s a how-to manual, or how people decide to use this form of peaceful civil resistance to protest laws they feel are unjust, but here’s what I have to say about it: if you feel Chief Spence is ‘doin it rong’, I encourage you to protest her protest by engaging in a hunger strike in which you consume water and fish broth. I also encourage you to do it at a time when your friends and family are celebrating the winter vacation and holidays with feasts and parties and being together. If you think she’s doing it wrong, or if you feel cheated by the fact that she is consuming fish broth, put your money where your mouth is and show her up.

If you don’t like what she has to say, fine. If you disagree with her point of view and with her claims, fine. If you think the whole idea of the Idle No More protests are unnecessary because you’re tired of Canada having a two-tier system that favours Native Canadians, that’s great. Go hard. Criticise her. Criticise the whole movement. Disagree. Call their facts into question. Call their arguments into question. Enter in to respectful debate. Don’t be afraid that people are going to call you a racist. Don’t be afraid that people are going to say you need to educate yourself on the treaties and on Canadian history. Those are the standard arguments you’re going to hear. But do it. PLEASE do it.

If the Idle No More protesters and if Chief Spence and if the people who disagree with the legislation that sparked all this aren’t able to respectfully and intelligently and kindly debate with you, with wisdom and facts-based knowledge, then you win! Good for you! You won a thing! YAAAAAY!

But if, on the other hand, you want to point your finger and snigger because a leader of the people is fleecing the Canadian people by eating fish broth, which means she’s not actually starving herself to death, you’re grasping at straws. Desperate people do desperate and foolish things (I’m referring to you here, if you’re the “Chief Spence is a big dumb liar lyingpants because she’s not actually dying” sort). This is the equivalent of calling someone Hitler when you don’t like what they have to say.

You can find a lot of information about the Idle No More protests on news sites. CBC tends to have a more pro-protest angle, and the National Post tends to have a more anti-protest angle (a phrase which, of itself, makes me smile). It’s interesting that it seems to be conservative, politically right-leaning people who have the most problem with the idea of protests of any kind. It was primarily that camp that got their panties in a knot over all those dirty homeless people who set up their filthy tents in parks that our tax dollars have been used to build so that they could basically be a public nuisance since their ‘protest’ lacked focus.

Granted, an awful lot of people who jumped on the Occupy protests didn’t pay much attention to the messages they were supposed to be sending. That’s kind of the downfall of grassroots movements. Come to think of it, that’s kind of the downfall of a lot of political ideologies that rely on more than a handful of people.

Anyway, I’ve digressed. Big surprise.

If you don’t agree with Chief Spence and the Idle No More movement, engage one another in actual discussion (not just flinging thinly veiled or passive aggressive insults at one another. Saying things like “you need to study the treaties” is passive aggressive, and it’s insulting and obnoxious. Cite the actual passages of legislation to support your argument. Don’t tell one another that they’re stupid or uneducated or racist. That just digs the hole way frigging deeper. And don’t assume that someone who disagrees with your point of view is arguing from a place of privilege or special interest. Sometimes, it’s okay to just disagree.)

In another bit of ridiculous trolling, someone used the word ‘ghetto’ in reference to having to drive through “the hood” and was immediately labelled a racist. And that just made me pissy. Because a “ghetto” is an area where underprivileged groups tend to congregate and live. That’s not racist, that’s a definition. And I’m all for using words in ways they are meant to be used. Every city has a ghetto. Many small towns have ghettos. Saying “I had to drive through the ghetto” doesn’t make you a bloody racist. It makes you the sort of person who recognises that there are areas of town where few people are employed, where addictions and (organised) crime are rampant. It means you recognise there are places in the communities in which you live where life is really, really shitty.

Now, if you say “I had to drive through the ghetto and I could feel all those [insert racial slur here] straing at me”, that’s a different story. But calling a ghetto a ghetto is not racist. It may be insensitive. It may be obnoxious. It may be incendiary. And it’s probably rude. You could pick a different word that’s less charged, like “the hood” or “the wrong side of the tracks”. But I don’t think the word “ghetto” itself is a “racist” word. And I argued this at the time, and I will still argue it.

I’m okay to disagree.

Also, to the person who recommended I “Google the meaning of the word”, I just kind of hang my head in shame. Not that there’s anything wrong with using Google to find word definitions. I just…well. That’s probably not worth debating, actually.


Frat House Legislation


Categories: Canadian Politics, Rants, Tags: ,

Saskatchewan passed new sexist legislation yesterday which makes all sorts of changes to the Liquor and Gaming Act. There are gems in there like how you’re now allowed to serve liquor without having to serve food, in a licensed establishment, how spas and movie theatres are now permitted to sell liquor, and, my own *personal* favourites, increased flexibility in how liquor is served (“e.g., beer ‘towers'”), and allowing restaurants to operate as adults-only taverns after 8pm. Get to bed, you whiny little brat, Mama’s goin’ for shooters.

I have decided to call this Saskatchewan’s “Frat House Legislation”, and you can find a copy of the amendments here.

Now, I was a little unfair up there at the beginning. I said that the amendments are sexist, and that isn’t true. There’s only one amendment that’s sexist, and it reads as follows:

Allow strip-tease performances and wet clothing contests in adult-only liquor permitted premises; full frontal nudity will continue to be prohibited.

Apparently, this means “no nipples”. But specifically, it means “no girl nipples”. Boy nipples are JUST FINE. And TECHNICALLY, the actual clause that’s being amended is in the Alcohol Control Regulations, 2002, is this:

Prohibited entertainment
63(1) It is a term of every permit that no permittee shall permit or allow in the permitted premises or premises for which a special occasion permit has been granted:
(a) any nude activity or entertainment; or
(b) any activity or entertainment that consists of a striptease performance or wet clothing contest.

(2) Section 139 of the Act does not apply to a permittee who contravenes subsection (1).
10 Jan 2003 cA-18.011 Reg 1 s63; 27 Mar 2009
SR 20/2009 s43.

So here’s the thing. The actual legislation itself isn’t sexist. But in its application, it *is* sexist. “Full Frontal Nudity” needs to be defined. Because to me, that means you can strip down to your skivvies. But apparently the Honourable Donna Harpauer, Minister responsible for Liquor and Gaming, has a different, and sexist, definition. First of all, according to @SMillsSK and @SLangeneggerCBC, who were at the media scrum, Ms. Harpauer used the phrase “the ends of the breasts” rather than use the word “NIPPLE”, which is utterly ridiculous, and I’ll get to that in a moment. But more to the point, the legislation apparently defines “full frontal nudity” completely differently from the rest of the world.

Look, if you don’t want people seeing actual female breasts in liquor-serving establishments, then just stand up and say “the Government of Saskatchewan has chosen to continue to prohibit partially nude performances in establishments where liquor is being served”. And you have to make that apply across the board. No ladies’ nights at the bar where some well-oiled young cabana boy comes out and removes his shirt and trousers to the adoration of dozens of well-corked women well into their cups-in-hand.

No more gents in g-strings at the local Blue Oyster Club either. If you’re going to disallow nudity in licensed establishments, you have to go all the way, as it were.

If, on the other hand, you want to attempt to kowtow to a certain population of the electorate, you can come up with a half-baked asinine amendment to, let’s face it, legislation drafted by people with FAR more churchin’ than any of us actually WANT. You can come up with something EXACTLY like what the SaskParty has come up with.

“Let’s let bars feature strippers, but not ACTUAL strippers, because then we’ll lose the moral majority and the old people. But if we allow bars to have SORTA strippers, we’ll gain the votes of the 20-something and 30-something male electorate, and that’ll boost our numbers!”

I’m *positive* that’s the discussion held behind closed caucus doors. There’s no other discussion that makes sense. If “full frontal nudity” means “no clothes on at all, facing the crowd”, then *FINE*. Go ahead and pander. But you can’t have it both ways. You can’t say “you can have a wet tee-shirt contest and you can have strippers, but you can’t show nipples”. Well you *can*, but it isn’t logical. When you define your own definition by saying “performers must wear pasties”, you’re being sexist. You don’t see it? Let me break it down for you:

When was the last time you went to a chippendales’ show, or a male revue, or whatever, and saw the male performers wearing electrical tape over their nipples? Let’s assume you weren’t at a bondage show. When was the last time you ever HEARD of male strippers wearing pasties? You never did, did you? Do you know why? Because for some reason, female nipples are terrifying.

I did this whole rant on Twitter about that, btw. If you look up the hastag #FratHouseAct and #WhyNipplesAreBad, you’ll see just how offensive I can be in a two-hour window. Okay, not really, but I did go on for an awfully long time about it.

I don’t understand what the SaskParty is trying to accomplish here. One part of me thinks that they’re trying to provide legislation that allows business owners to feature nude (sorry: mostly nude, nipple-free) entertainment; and the other part of me thinks that they’re terrified of having to deal with the small but vocal groups of people who say that it’s morally wrong to watch someone take off their clothes as entertainment.

Listen, we are so fucking behind as a society when it comes to ethics and morals that there’s no reason ANYTHING should be illegal anymore. Trying to pretend that sex and sexualisation and the whole business of arousal is *not* a commodifiable product is narrow-minded and short-sighted and, simply, wrong. EVERYTHING is a commodity. Religion, sex, politics, innocence, violence, emotions, death, birth, health care…they’re all on the same level as winter tyres and holiday turkeys.

In fact, I don’t think you can ascribe ethics to society. I think ethics are something that individuals possess. But a society is a different animal. It’s a different entity. And I think it might just exist outside of morality and ethics. But that’s quite a different argument from what I’m presenting here.

Permitting men to go topless and prohibiting women from doing so is clearly, and obviously sexist. I do not, have not, and will not support a government that passes sexist legislation. Particularly when the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled on MULTIPLE occasions that women have the right to be topless in public. Sure, individual proprietors of business have every right to insist on what is appropriate attire for their customers. And, within reason, what is appropriate attire for their staff.

But when you come up with something as ridiculous as “women performing in licensed establishments cannot display the “ends of their breasts””, you’re being uncompromisingly, and illegally, discriminatory. And really, WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL WITH NIPPLES? Everyone except Jesus has them. And the jury’s still out on Jesus.

Incidentally, the media release on the government’s website says that the “Government modernizes more than 70 liquor regulations”. I’m not sure I agree that these changes are “modernizations”. But whatever. They’re amending more than 70 clauses in two sets of Acts or Regulations (The Alcohol Consumption Regulations, 2002; and The Liquor and Gaming Regulation Act, 1998). These documents are available from the Queen’s Printer Publication Centre if you’re interested in reading them. Warning: reading Acts, Legislation, and Regulations is pretty sad, trompy stuff.


Thinly Thought


Categories: Canadian Politics, Canadian Politics, Just Wrong, piss in your eye, Rants, Tags: , ,

I wasn’t going to do this.

I really wasn’t. But then something happened to a friend of mine and it got my knickers in a knot and I know I’m going to be skimming over vast chunks of the actual issues, but please bear with me because I’m a little ranty at the moment. Incidentally, whenever I see the phrase “bear with me”, I get this picture in my head of a giant grizzly bear just, you know, hanging out with me. And then I think “that can’t be right,” and I try to change it to ‘bare with me’, and that’s a MUCH lovlier mental image, but not entirely right and I understand the phrase means ‘bear my burden with me’, but I can’t get those goddamned bears out of my head.

So recently, a friend of mine took ill. She took ill rapidly and had to be admitted to hospital with some kind of ridiculously contagious intestinal bug that resulted in her requiring IV fluids for the dehydration, and an actual stay in hospital. She ended up leaving before she was well and healed up because of an incident involving hospital beds in hallways, cleaning crews disturbing patients’ much-needed rest by using floor buffers in the middle of the night, total disregard of, in my opinion, basic patient care, and all of this as a result of the hospital not having enough beds for the patients who need care.

Let’s look for a moment at the reasons we go in to hospital. It’s not for a vacation. It’s not for a jaunty stay in a rejuvenating retreat. We go in to hospital because we’re really bloody sick. When was the last time you sat around the picnic table with your family and said, “you know, that steak was really good, but what I’d most like to do right now is get admitted to hospital. It’s just so *lovely* there.”? I won’t go in to too many details right now, but I’m sure you remember my extreme reticence to even consider delivering The Nipper in hospital.

Hospitals are in place to care for the ill and, hopefully, to help them get well. When there are contagious illnesses about, hospitals are supposed to be refuges for the ill and safe containment areas. Hospitals are supposed to be places where you can actually heal up. Hospitals are supposed to be staffed by enough people to provide that care. Hospitals are supposed to have on staff enough medical professionals to triage, assess, and evaluate patients in a timely and humane and ethical manner. There are supposed to be enough resources so that if you need care, you receive care.

They aren’t supposed to be goddamned frat houses with beds tossed into every corner because there isn’t enough bloody space to fit all the people who need attention into the wards.

Now I get that our province has grown rather rapidly. And I also get that Regina used to have three hospitals, but in a shocking move of utter stupidity, one was repurposed into an educational institution. And in another shocking move of utter stupidity, most of the hospital facilities in smaller, rural centres were shut down so that people needing hospital care in those centres have to be rushed in to city hospitals. WHERE THE URBAN DENSITY, AND THEREFORE PEOPLE REQUIRING MEDICAL CARE IS MUCH HIGHER.

You’re going to say “well, it was your chosen political party who made those asinine decisions”. THAT IS NOT THE POINT. The point is that no political party has a monopoly on asinine decisions. Case in point. We are currently, in this province, spending over 4.6 billion dollars on health care. Now, either that is not enough, or the spending we’re doing is all wrong because if we don’t have enough hospital beds to accommodate people who actually need medical care and attention, WE ARE DOING IT WRONG.

Should I mention the 10-12 month wait for psychiatric care? Should I mention the 12-16 month wait to see a specialist? Should I mention that people who work in hospitals are overworked, over scheduled, and have ridiculous schedules? Should I mention the number of nurses I’ve talked to who’ve quit because they aren’t willing to work 20 hour shifts anymore? Should I mention the specialists I’ve talked to who’ve said they won’t work in this province because the schedules are bordering on inhumane and the pay is paltry? Should I mention the people I’ve talked to who’ve spent hours and hours in hallways or broom closets, needing medical care, and having to wait while the ER staff has to deal with 200x capacity issues?

And yet. And yet, our provincial government wants to spend how much on building a stadium we don’t need? I’m all for support for sports. I think Canada in general has a SHAMEFUL history of being decidedly unsupportive of amateur sports. The federal government should be shelling out all KINDS of money for developmental and semi-pro sports programs. It would be really nice if our top atheletes could afford to eat AND train. It would be even nicer if the majority of Canadian children could access whatever sport interested them, regardless of how many luxury vehicles their parents owned (hockey, for instance, is prohibitively expensive for most families). But I’ve gone off on a tangent. I don’t have a problem with a sports stadium being built in Regina. I don’t even have a problem with municipal and provincial tax dollars being allocated toward it, provided it HAS A FREAKING ROOF.

But here’s the thing. If you don’t have enough freaking space in your freaking hospital for the freaking beds your freaking patients freaking need, don’t spend your freaking money on freaking stadia. And if you DO have enough freaking money to provide enough freaking space in your freaking hospital for freaking beds, then SPEND YOUR FREAKING MONEY RESPONSIBLY SO THAT YOU CAN MAKE SURE THE PEOPLE WHO PAY FREAKING TAXES IN YOUR FREAKING PROVINCE CAN GET THE FREAKING MEDICAL TREATMENT THEY FREAKING NEED.

Sorry for the harsh language there. I’m a little miffed.




Categories: Canadian Politics, When There's Weather, Tags: , ,

Not long ago, my provincial government decided to do away with a program that created hundreds, if not thousands of jobs in the province, and which brought with it millions of dollars in revenue for the province. On the face of it, to much of the public, this move seemed like a really good idea. By way of a bit of background:

For the last several years (four, I think. Maybe five), the provincial government has provided the Saskatchewan Motion Picture Industry Association (SMPIA) with a refundable employment tax credit on labour costs incurred in Saskatchewan during the production of film projects. Basically, the way this worked was that the production company would hire people (in some cases, hundreds of people) to work on the crew, in make-up, costuming, set design and construction, lighting, sound…basically everything *except* acting (although acting might be included in that as well; I’m not certain). I don’t know how much you know about film/television production, but for every person you see on screen, there are about ten or eleven other people employed  behind-the-scenes. So the production company would hire people in Saskatchewan to work on projects filmed in Saskatchewan (this is important).

This meant that there were, as I mentioned, hundreds, if not thousands of (primarily) young, passionate, capable people being offered jobs in a dynamic field that was the last in Canada to be supported in such a way. At the end of the project, the production company would file their financial records indicating how much was paid out in terms of labour costs, and a portion of that cost was refunded to them by the provincial government. Part of this program served as a mentorship and training program specifically for Saskatchewan people. In short, the Film Employment Tax Credit was a refundable credit provided by the Provincial government to make Saskatchewan competitive in the film industry, by providing incentives like this one, for businesses to conduct…well…business…in the province.

I want to be clear about something. Production companies only qualified to apply for this business incentive if they hired Saskatchewan residents. I believe eligible businesses also had to establish offices in Saskatchewan. So this means that in order to qualify for this incentive, production businesses must set up shop here, hire local people, and do work here. This also means people had to live here. Which means they paid taxes here. Which means that the amount of money coming *in* to the province was far, far more than the amount of money the government was spending on this business incentive.

Without any form of consultation, and a year before the contract between the film industry and the province was due to expire, the government elected to end this successful and lucrative (for Saskatchewan) program. This makes us the only province in all of Canada to have no incentives for film production businesses to do work in our province. Two other provinces in Canada have done away with similar programs, and within a few years recognised the detrimental effect it had, and ended up reinstating it. This leaves Saskatchewan as the only province in all of Canada (and, indeed in much of North America) that does not have a business incentive for employment in the film industry.

What does this mean? It means that our province is going to lose business. It’s going to lose trained, talented, passionate, energetic people to other provinces where they can find work. It means that our province will be losing several million dollars in revenue.

“Now hold on, cenobyte,” you’re saying. “Didn’t the provincial government just recently say that they’re replacing the Film Employment Tax Credit with a similar tax credit program?”

Well, yes.

The new tax credit program will provide corporate tax subsidies or incentives for film production companies in the province. However, due to the nature of the new program, few if any production companies will qualify for it, and that means that the net result is a non-usable “incentive” that actually ends up being a DISincentive. If that’s a word. Which my spellcheck tells me it isn’t.

The new program offers a non-refundable reduction on a portion of corporate taxes production studios pay in Saskatchewan. Most production companies don’t actually pay enough corporate tax to take advantage of this reduction.

It’s like saying “we offer corporate tax deductions, but only if you already pay several hundred thousand dollars in corporate tax. If you’re a small or independent business owner, you will still pay the maximum amount of corporate tax for doing business in our province.” Kind of. That’s a gross oversimplification, and I don’t purport to understand the intricate working of tax legislation at all.

But essentially, the government took something that was working incredibly well and replaced it with something that simply isn’t workable. Such is the way of governments, perhaps.

And, to add insult to injury, our own Premier said, and this is not a direct quote, so please forgive me if I muck it up a bit, that if an industry is not viable without government subsidies, should the taxpayers continue to pay for it to operate in our province? And that is a very, very good question. It makes me wonder why the province is offering any kind of subsidies at all to any businesses. Including oil and gas, mining, agriculture, forestry, financial industries, insurance companies, tourism, and hospitality industries. All of those are subsidised in some way by our provincial government.

And the bottom line of all of this is that it makes me very sad, because the value that we, the taxpayers, receive from arts and culture, is immense. In very real terms, some of that value comes in the form of revenue and investment in our province, in our cities and towns. Some of it comes in the recognition we get, being able to compete on a world stage with similar endeavours from around the world. Some of that value comes in being able to live and work doing what you love to do, what you’ve studied to do, and what you’re good at doing. Arts and culture *create* jobs. Arts and culture *create* revenue. They also create communities where people want to live and work.

But now I’m getting in to the soapbox stage of things, and I oughtn’t do that, I think, because we’ve been on this merry-go-round before. So I’ll just say I’m looking forward to seeing some of the changes that are happening in our province, and I’m also very disappointed in what appear to me to be somewhat short-sighted decisions in other areas. There won’t be any minds changed on this, I’m afraid, and that just makes me a little…ashamed.


The Inevitable

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Categories: Canadian Politics, Canadian Politics, Tags: ,

You might not know this about me, but in a little under three weeks, I am going to be going to the Greater Metro Lumsden Downtown Core Community Hall to do some serious, *serious* civic duty. Hardcore civic duty.

And so in the lead-up to my hardcore civic duty badassery, I have been following, with a small amount of disgust, the platforms of all two of my province’s political parties. Sure, sure, you can tell me the Liberals are still alive in Saskatchewan, but I’ll just tell you that the black-footed ferret is still alive in Saskatchewan too, but chances are good you’ll never see one.

With a few exceptions, I think the neo-centrist party that’s currently running the game in Saskatchewan (the Saskatchewan Party, for the record) isn’t doing too bad of a job, but I’m not entirely happy with them. Partly because they’re not my style of political ideal, and partly because of some Bad Experiences with conservative-style parties in the past. I’d like to tell you that the conservatives backed over my trike when I as a kid, but that was the De Mertts, and it was my fault for leaving my trike in their driveway. I’ll never forget watching my father walk up the street in his jeans and white undershirt, carrying my mangled tricycle in one hand. He tossed the carcass on the grass at my feet and said, “this is what happens when you don’t take care of your things.”

The last time the province had a conservative government, they didn’t take care of their things. They sold off all of our highways equipment (and now they blame the NDP for the highways falling out of repair). They cancelled dental care programs for children that had been proved to improve children’s overall health care (remember this; it will become important in a minute). They spent the province into an ENORMOUS debt (because that is what Conservative governments do; they spend and spend and spend while at the same time cutting services).

Now, people who follow politics have long memories. And some of us, even though we were still in short pants when the last Conservative government ran this province (into the ground), we still remember some of the more egregious things that were done. Or maybe ‘remember’ isn’t the right word. “Listened to everyone around them complain for twenty years” might be more appropriate.

The SaskParty hasn’t gone to that level of ridiculous abuse of public trust, but they also haven’t done an awful lot by way of improving the quality of life in the province. They have certainly catered to industry and business, and I think the leader of the party (our Premier, the Honourable Brad Wall) really cares about the province, and really gives a shit. I think he thinks about the future of the province, and of the people who live here. I think he’s an intelligent, hard-working man with good values. But I also think his government is altogether too focused on just one aspect of governance (and that is developing business and economy without paying enough attention to other things).

But here’s my problem.

I *refuse* to vote for the socialist party in this province because I am so vehemently opposed to the opposition leader. I don’t trust the man. I don’t know him personally, but my family does. I could (but won’t) tell you stories that would curl your hair. Or straighten it, if it’s already curly. But aside from that, politically, this man is almost entirely like the sort of fish that jumped out of the lake during an algal bloom and landed on the shore several weeks ago, just before a cold snap, whose cold, lifeless body hasn’t even been touched by crows.

Of the promises he has made the people of Saskatchewan during this election, exactly none of them is an original thought. Every single one has already been done here, by people whose political acumen was more savvy than his. Remember that dental program I mentioned? That was instituted in Saskatchewan in the late seventies. It was a partnership between the dentists and the provincial school system. Every elementary school-age child registered in a recognised educational program received regular dental checkups and dental hygeine training twice a year. Minor dental procedures were also covered by this plan. It was spearheaded based on research that indicated people with good dental care have better health later in life.

I know a lot about this program. My mum was on the board that instituted it.

So every time I hear the NDP talk about how they’ve come up with this REALLY COOL DENTAL CARE PROGRAM, I cringe. Because not once do they say “reinstitute” or “re-establish” or “reintroduce”. Yeah, it bugs me that this knob is taking credit where credit is not due.

The NDP says they’re going to freeze tuition. This is a bad plan. It’s always been a bad plan. The NDP government who did this in the 90s discovered just how bad a plan it is. Tuition freezes create a false economy and serve to cripple the Universities in the short-and long-term. If Lingenfelter did his homework, he’d find that previous NDP governments have already done this.

The NDP want to institute rent control. If Lingenfelter did his research, he’d find that the last NDP looked at rent control and decided against doing it. Do you know why? Because it ends up hurting communities in the long run. What the last NDP government was trying to do was to address the underlying issues behind poverty. They tried programs designed to create more housing, rather than institute rent control. And those programs worked. They weren’t perfect, but they were working.

In fact, the only political promise that Lingenfelter has made that hasn’t been rejected by other NDP governments is the one that was NOT HIS IDEA.

Maybe I’ll vote for the black-footed ferret. Or the first person who actually addresses support and development of arts and culture without saying the word ‘multiculturalism’ and without mentioning Corner Gas.

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