Categotry Archives: Canadian Politics

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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: http://www.culturalindstries.sk.ca.

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.

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Labellium, Labellia, Labellioooo

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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.

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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.

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Frat House Legislation

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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.

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Thinly Thought

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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.

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Spin

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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.

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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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You might read it here, but what does that mean?

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

So, there’s this advert that’s run in at least one, possibly more Canadian newspapers. I’m not interested in posting the advert, but I’ll link to an article that talks about it. Understandably, a lot of people are Very Upset about this advert. In much the same way that many people (as my friend Melistress can talk about) are upset about the recent image that went around of a billboard indicating that religion is like a penis, and you wouldn’t want either shoved down your child’s throat. Well, not *exactly* like that, but the reactions are similar.

In both cases, there are people who are saying “those sorts of things should not be allowed to be printed/publicised”. And they’re wrong. I’m going to come back to this every time it comes up, because, you see, that’s what freedom of speech and/or expression is. The people who paid for the anti-gay advert in the National Post got what they paid for. They got attention. And every time you post that image or the advert on facebook or on your blog, they get more attention. Sure, it might be negative attention, but it’s attention. The people who mount these ‘shock campaigns’ are very, very good at what they do. Because the people who are horribly offended by them are very vocal, and the people who are in support of them are also very vocal. And the majority of people say what they think quietly, and behind closed doors, and they don’t want to rock the boat.

But. Aside from that. Here is the issue with this particular advert:

A lobbyist group (I am assuming a right-wing lobbyist group) paid a lot of money to someone to design that advert, and then they paid a lot of money to the newspaper to run it. Some newspapers apparently, reportedly, declined to run the advert. At least one has not. Which, I think, is unfortunate. I think it is intriguing how we seem to think, and indeed that we claim over and over, that the media is supposed to be impartial. It seems to me that there is absolutely nothing impartial about the media, and I think there probably oughtn’t be. Why? Because it is created by the people, for the people. If you will. And if we don’t teach one another to be critical thinkers and to listen to many views and to suss out as many facts for ourselves as we can, I think we are in a very dangerous place indeed.

But really, what we have here is 1) capitalism/consumerism in motion. Business/Interest A wanted their point of view to appear in a newspaper. They paid for that privilege, and they have the right to say whatever they want, and the newspaper has the right to print whatever they want as long as it is not actively advocating harm to others, etc., etc., (I won’t get in to the discussion here about whether teaching children to be homophobic is harming people); and 2) free speech in motion.

You know I don’t like the advert, and that I don’t agree with it. And I would gladly, if I had the money, or the wherewithal to collect enough money, design and print, in that newspaper, a very different sort of advert. So if you hear of a group who is doing that, I’d like to donate money to them. I’ve been told that the newspaper in question would not run an advert advocating acceptance, and I’m not sure I believe that, and don’t have the money to try, so we’ll just have to have a difference of opinion there. But, in the end, so what? If I did have the money, I could just as easily run an advert advocating acceptance in *any other newspaper in the country*. I could run an advert in *all* of the other newspapers, if I had the money. Which I don’t. So the point is moot.

And I can speak out against the point of view expressed in that advert, and I do, and often, to anyone who will listen. I believe that in this country and in this environment, if you have enough money, you can pretty much pay anyone to do pretty much anything. Until you piss someone off, I guess. And if you combine money with political will with moneyed backers with [pick your cause], you’ll be able to do EVEN MORE STUFF. Just THINK of all of the people I could piss off if I had an endless currency pool.

Okay, but seriously. That isn’t even the point. The point is this. These things *should* be permitted to be published and publicised. You might not like it, but if the newspaper wants to run it, they get to. And if the group who paid for it wants to print it in every paper in the country, they get to. AND THAT’S A GOOD THING. It’s a *good* thing this paper was able to or chose to print this advert. Not because the message was good or right or moral, but because THAT IS THE PRICE WE PAY FOR FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND FOR FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION. No, I’m not saying don’t speak out against what you disagree with. What I am saying is that I will congratulate the newspaper that printed it for doing so, and will encourage them to do so again.

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The Things That He’s done

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Categories: Canadian Politics, Tags: , ,

With all due respect to Chuck Norris, there’s just not enough Canadian Content in the list of his accomplishments. But here’s the deal; Canadians are far more understated than Yankees. So if there *were* a Canadian who Did Stuff, it would be Very Different from the Stuff Chuck Norris has done. This is the kind of stuff a Badass Canuck might do:

Jack Layton once ordered poutine. In an English restaurant.

Jack Layton went to a clandestine massage parlour. When he left, they were unionised.

There are no attack ads coming from Jack Layton because Jack Layton spends that budget on health care.

Steven Harper’s ads don’t attack Jack Layton because Harper’s team cannot spell ‘irascible’.

Jack Layton once watched Chuck Norris roundhouse kick a beaver.

When Gilles Duceppe asked Jack Layton what the NDP cultural policy was, Jack Layton answered in French.

Jack Layton met with some farmers, and they offered him milk, straight from the cow. And he drank it. Warm.

Jack Layton is so cool, he is Canada’s main defense against global warming.

Igloos were designed based on the shape of Jack Layton’s head.

Jack Layton’s mother makes his ties.

Jack Layton’s father was a Conservative MP. This proves the theory that the NDP are more fully evolved.

Canadian scientists ask Jack Layton for his opinion on their findings.

Jack Layton has been a ring-bearer at every gay marriage in the country.

Hippies see Jack Layton’s face in their toast.

When dogs howl, they’re saying “Jack Layton” in dog language.

Reader Submitted

Jack Layton may not be able to divide by zero, but you can divide contempt of parliment by his moustache. [Silent Winged Coyote]

Jack Layton once used a Narwhal to win a game of billiards.

Jack Layton has three robot doubles built by A.V. Roe Canada.

Jack Layton’s blood type is Maple Syrup Positive.

Jack Layton knows where Saskatchewan keeps their tree. [Uncommoner]



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It’s really not that big a deal

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

All of a sudden, people all over effbook are freaking out about the two-year-old story that Gary Goodyear, the Canadian Minister of Science, doesn’t believe in the theory of evolution. I think this is a bit of an odd turn. I mean, it’s been out there for over two years. It’s not like we didn’t *know* that the guy’s personal religious beliefs are contrary to a scientific theory. Maybe folks are getting upset about it now because there’s an election coming up?

But if the only thing you can pick out of the current administration to be incensed about is that one of the elected ministers in Cabinet doesn’t believe in what he’s Minister of, well, maybe we need to go back to square one with ‘why people get to be elected’ and ‘how elected officials get Cabinet positions’. We’re not the first, nor will we be the last, country who spent time with a Minister of the Environment whose opinions on the environment were dicey, from the point of view of environmentalists. Environment Ministers are often chosen because they can handle the economics of environmental development, and not because they’re environmentalists.

We had a Minister of Justice who wasn’t particularly just. I’m sure he wasn’t the first. I mean…first, why is this a surprise, and second, why does it matter? Explain to me why it matters if an elected official doesn’t believe in evolution.

I don’t care if the people I vote for are atheists. Or religious. I don’t care if they believe in the curative properties of garlic. I don’t care if they don’t believe in the effectiveness of antibiotics to combat infection. I don’t care WHAT they believe, as long as they do the job they were elected to do.

A better question…a far *bigger* concern…is what the current Canadian administration has done to things like research and development in the area of sciences (and in many other areas, but let’s just focus on sciences for now). If you’re going to argue that the reason funding has been cut to research programs is because the Minister is a creationist, that’s a pretty big leap of logic. A more important question is: why does the Canadian government feel that knowledge, education, and learning are unimportant? By cutting funding to researchers and educational institutions, the government is endangering the health and well-being of every single Canadian.

How so?

Well, it certainly goes further than things like trying to find a cure for cancer.

Things like learning for the sake of learning, questioning because you don’t know the answers…without those things, there wouldn’t be *any* progress. We’d still be using water wheels and driving horse carts. On skids. Maybe. If the government doesn’t understand THAT, then there’s a far bigger problem.

Calling someone down because of their beliefs is…well, it’s not really very nice, I hear. Would it have been better if he hadn’t mentioned his religion? If he had said, “there are many scientific theories that have not been proved to be true or false; there are many I don’t have an opinion on”, would that have been better? Do you have to believe in evolution in order to support learning? Nope. Do you have to believe in evolution to be a scientist? Depends on the kind of science, I suppose. Maybe there are physicists out there for whom the idea of evolution is really not all that important.

*My* point is that it seems to me folks are chewing on the wrong lapel here. The man’s personal beliefs aren’t as important as whether or not he’s doing his job. Did the Prime Minister come in and say, “Gary. About this evolution thing. It’s, you know, a big scam”? Or is it more likely the Prime Minister came in and said, “Gary. About this budget. We need a few million dollars for corporate tax cuts. You don’t really NEED this research budget, do you?”

We might disagree with his personal beliefs. We might say things about hard evidence proving, without a doubt, that homo sapiens have been living on earth for more than two thousand years. We might say that even if he believes that there is a Universal Force that “created” the proper conditions in which evolution took place, that doesn’t mean the animals of the world were “created” to be as they are, in their current state, and that evolution doesn’t take place. We might refute his beliefs.

And if you don’t like the way he’s doing his job, fire him. (That means don’t vote for him again.) But it’s still illegal in this country to fire people for their religious beliefs **unless their religious beliefs impede them from doing their jobs**.

Personally, I don’t think the man’s personal beliefs are preventing him from doing his job. I think his manager (the Prime Minister) is preventing him from doing what his job *ought* to be. I think Gary Goodyear is doing *exactly* what his manager is telling him to do in cutting funding for research. But it hasn’t anything to do with his personal beliefs.

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