Showing posts tagged canada

Opinion: Harper’s disregard for aboriginal health


When governments make a decision that is stupid, embarrassing, overly partisan, or risks causing an outcry, they tend to do so late in the day and late in the week, preferably on the eve of a holiday long weekend, when citizens – and journalists – aren’t paying much attention.

So, late Thursday, the government of Stephen Harper dropped this bombshell, as related in a brief announcement posted on the web site of the National Aboriginal Health Organization: “NAHO funding has been cut by Health Canada. It is with sadness that NAHO will wind down by June 30, 2012.”

This travesty of public policy only came to light because of feisty publications like Windspeaker and Nunatsiaq News.

Founded in 2000, NAHO oversaw many research and outreach programs, in crucial fields such as suicide prevention, tobacco cessation, housing and midwifery. It collected an invaluable series of audio and video interviews with elders recounting traditional tales and knowledge. The group also published the Journal of Aboriginal Health and was home to one of the best collections of aboriginal health research in the world.

There are many political and policy differences among aboriginal groups, but NAHO managed to bring them together at one table, with a common purpose, improving the health of the unhealthiest, most disenfranchised people in the country. It wasn’t always smooth sailing, but it was an achievement in itself.

We are destroying this asset for what reason exactly? To save a few bucks?

NAHO received $4,955,865 from Health Canada last year.

In the world of $25-billion (and counting) fighter jet contracts, that’s a pittance.

And what does it say about the federal government’s priorities?

Read the rest at the Globe and Mail


I am appalled. I hate the Harper Government so much. Something has to be done. 


Harper undoing Canada


Stephen Harper’s Conservatives dislike Canada. They reject much of what the rest of the world values and praises about us — our respect for cultural, linguistic and racial diversity; our sense of social responsibility towards one another; our support for collective as well as individual rights; our history of common institutions and programs specifically designed to buffer citizens, regions and provinces from the vagaries of uncontrolled market forces; our honoured international role as a moderate middle power and the originator of international peacekeeping.

For proof of the low esteem in which our current government regards Canadians and their country, look no further than Thursday’s federal budget, the first where the Conservatives could fly their true colours thanks to the “strong, stable, majority Conservative government” frequently bragged about by the prime minister.

Resources are to be exploited as fast as possible. Concern for the environment and the rights of aboriginal and other citizens are a distant second. Food safety is to be left to the food manufacturers, drug safety to the pharmaceutical industry, transportation safety to the transport industry. In the new, “liberated” marketplace, self-regulation is the mantra. When it comes to matters of human health and safety, individuals and families will be largely on their own.

(via mclobsters-deactivated20120919)

With friends like Harper, Bibi can do no wrong


Inside meetings of la Francophonie and the G8, Mr. Harper has personally inserted himself – or instructed Canadian diplomats to insert themselves – to block resolutions even mildly critical of Israel, including references to the settlements. Mr. Harper has thus isolated Canada from its traditional allies such as the United States, Britain and France.

After last fall’s UN General Assembly meeting, Israel announced new settlements. Barack Obama’s administration criticized the move. So did the European Union. The German Chancellor personally phoned Mr. Netanyahu and asked him to desist. Canada said nothing.

At that UN meeting, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird wrote his own speech, an over-the-top effort laced with fiery rhetoric supporting Israel and damning its foes. Mr. Baird, on becoming the minister, had informed his department that he didn’t want to hear from experts there because he and the government had already fixed their positions on Israel and the Middle East.


Should Israel attack Iran’s nuclear installations – an attack Mr. Netanyahu will be discussing next week in Washington – he can assume complete support from Mr. Harper. The Canadian Prime Minister has already portrayed Iran in the worst possible light, using language that parallels the most hard-line rhetoric within Israel. He even suggested Iran might use nuclear weapons should they be constructed, as if the Iranians were completely suicidal.

Yup, that’s where we’re at now. Canada wasn’t always like this (among other things, we have a free-trade agreement with both Israel and Palestine) but at this point the government has this bizarrely obsequious attitude towards Israel wherein our national Middle East policy is whatever the Israeli government says it should be. 

I’m not sure whom the target audience is here. On first glance you’d imagine it’s Jewish voters, but I really don’t think the marginal benefit of totally letting Israel call the shots (as a change from the previous strongly pro-Israel policy) could be that great, as the subdemographic of Jewish voters who are impressed by that sort of thing is not only relatively small but also probably already votes Conservative. And polling shows that the regions with the most Jewish voters are sliding back towards the Liberals, anyway. 

Going to assert that the target audience is more likely evangelical Protestants within the party who want to see as pro-Israel an outlook as possible, because they are working off the American narrative that somehow the State of Israel is innately pro-white evangelical Protestant and therefore deserves support (or something). At any rate, it’s seriously unimpressive.

Nailed it.

Conservatives Threaten to Make "Committee Business" Secret

The Harper Conservatives are making a bid to have parliamentary committee business conducted in secret.  

Widely considered as a test run for all committees, the Official Languages Committee is currently debating a motion to conduct its future committee business in camera.  The motion was originally introduced by Costas Menegakis (Richmond Hill, Ont., CPC).  The Government Operations and Estimates Committee has also given notice of a similar motion, sponsored by Mike Wallace (Burlington, Ont., CPC).

Because there is no strict definition of “committee business,” committees generally interpret the term as they see fit.  Historically, usual practice has excluded the hearing of witnesses and the clause-by- clause study of bills, but there are no procedural guarantees safeguarding against this.

In the past, in camera (meaning in private from the Latin for in chamber) committee meetings were held in private to deal with certain administrative matters. These include hearing a background briefing, considering a draft report, planning for future business, and dealing with sensitive topics, such as national security, among other things.

The analysis suggests that Canada does not face major challenges of financial sustainability with its public pension schemes… there is no pressing financial or fiscal need to increase pension ages in the foreseeable future.


“The analysis suggests that Canada does not face major challenges of financial sustainability with its public pension schemes… there is no pressing financial or fiscal need to increase pension ages in the foreseeable future.”

So the federal government asked a couple economists to evaluate the sustainability of federal pension schemes. Here’s the result. Pensions are being cut and the retirement age is being jacked up anyway.

Somewhat tempted to go into policy work just so I can try to bury increasingly ridiculous sentences in the middle of these reports and rest totally assured that they’ll never actually be read.

Transgender People are Completely Banned From Boarding Airplanes in Canada


Transgender People are Completely Banned From Boarding Airplanes in Canada


The shit hit the fan in the trans blogosphere last night, when it came to light that there is a disturbing new section in the Identity Screening Regulations used in airports throughout Canada. Simply put, Transgender People are Completely Banned From Boarding Airplanes in Canada.

The offending section of the regulations reads:

5.2 (1) An air carrier shall not transport a passenger if …
(c) the passenger does not appear to be of the gender indicated on the identification he or she presents;

Although this obviously discriminatory smear of regulation did not come to significant public attention until very recently, it apparently came into effect on July 27th, 2011.

It is important to note that these regulations are not actually a piece of legislation, which would have had to pass through readings and votes in the House and Senate (which is probably why it went unnoticed until now). Rather, the Identity Screening Regulations are a set of rules implemented unilaterally by the Ministry of Transportation, as part of Canada’s so-called Passenger Protect, which is essentially the Canadian Federal Government’s equivalent to the U.S.’s “no-fly” list.

Minister of Transportation Denis Lebel is, of course, a federal Conservative MP appointed to the cabinet position by Stephen Harper.

So what does this mean? Well, in order to change the ‘sex’ designation on a Canadian Passport, the federal government requires proof that surgery has taken place, or will take place within one year. So for non-operative transgender persons, for gender nonconforming (genderqueer) persons, and for the vast majority of pre-operative transsexual persons, it is literally impossible to obtain proper travel documentation marked with the sex designation which “matches” the gender identity in which they live.

In the eyes of the honourable Minister of Transportation, that makes trans people unfit to fly in Canada.

It is interesting to note that this regulatory adjustment occurred immediately following the federal election in 2011. In the previous parliament, Bill C-389, a bill to amend the Human Rights Code to explicitly enshrine protections against discrimination for transgender people, had successfully passed in the House of Commons, only to die on the Senate floor when Harper declared a Federal Election (thereby dissolving parliament).

Is the timing of this disturbing and blatantly discriminatory regulatory adjustment merely a coincidence? That is up to you to decide. However, the negative impact on trans people is crystal clear, and we need to take action now.

(via abokononist-deactivated20120714)