Saturday, 19 April 2014

Leveraging Laureen




Last night when the story of Laureen Harper first, hosting/sponsoring a cat video fundraising thingy -- in kitty ears to boot -- then dismissing a question from a young woman on missing and murdered indigenous women at that event hit the news, I was enraged but couldn't put my finger on exactly why.

Watch.



Then I read this:


Yes.

True, I don't like cats. The time, attention, and money spent on them -- and pets in general -- makes me want to hurl. Laureen Harper is repeatedly referred to as a "cat foster-mom" though it's not clear that she herself does.

So, there's that on one side. People who go gooey over animals and whistle past a homeless person with a cap out on the sidewalk.

And on the other, the immense, ongoing national shame of at least 824 murdered and missing indigenous women in Canada. This government not only repeatedly and routinely dismisses any calls for action or inquiry, its treatment of indigenous peoples -- here and everywhere it or its minions have interaction with them -- is simply disgusting.

Laureen's callousness is not surprising then, but breathtaking nonetheless.

“We’re raising money for animals tonight. If you’d like to donate to animals, we’d love to take your money,” she said to lots of clapping, before suggesting dealing with the issue a different night: “tonight we’re here for homeless cats.”

So, now we come to Laureen Harper. I frankly don't give a rat's ass if she's living with her husband or the hunkiest RCMP officer -- of any gender -- in the land. I don't give a flying fuck what she wears, what she eats, what she says.

Because in Canada, mercifully, she is a complete nonentity, no matter what some sycophants would like.
Some commentators have tried to style prime ministers' wives as "First Lady of Canada", similar to the style of First Lady used in republics, but this is not a recognized title. Use of the term is based on the pervasive influence of American media and not a defined public role or title for the prime minister's spouse. In any case, both the spouse of the Canadian monarch and that of the Governor General of Canada take precedence over a prime minister's spouse, rendering the notion untenable.

We just do not *do* First Ladies in Canada (check the wiki link for some interesting people who have wrestled with the role).

Plus, there's that oh-so-Canajan thing of leaving families of politicians alone. "They weren't elected," the manners police sniff. "It just isn't done to attack them."

Unless, of course, the family members chose to become part of the political pageant. Like this.

The federal Conservatives have plotted a road map to a 2015 election campaign that counts on a massive donor- and voter-targeting effort, a communications onslaught, and a bid to “leverage” the popularity of Laureen Harper, the prime minister’s wife, according to documents obtained by the Star.
The simple fact is that Stephen Harper is perceived to be at the very least, a cold, controlling micro-manager, and at worst -- by a scarily increasing number of Canadians -- an outright psychopath.

In short, he has a teensy problem with that whole "human" shtick.

Enter Laureen, who it is hoped/prayed can if not "humanize" him, at least "demonsterfy" him.

It's been tried repeatedly, to little success, whether in an awkward kiss or in sketchy panda embrace.

But hope springs eternal in the CON sausage factory. They're at it again -- now with homeless cats.

Pro tip: If you're going to try to "leverage" someone with as little natural charm as Laureen, get her some fucking media/public speaking training. Try to get her to understand in advance that all "good causes" are not equivalent, and in particular that 800+ missing and murdered women are not a "good cause" just like spaying stray cats.

(Hm. Maybe the issues are analogous in such twisted brains.)

To sum up: Laureen is NOT First Lady. She IS fair game. She DID put herself in a totally frivolous situation. She DID fuck up. In CAT ears. (Imagine the withering look an aide would get with: "Hey, Mrs. Obama, we want you to wear these really cute cat ears.")

But maybe the whole exercise was not for naught. On the YouTube page with the Shit Harper Did video, there was this comment from someone named Paul Gillett.

Before reading about this in the news today, I wasn't aware of the problem of murder in the Indigenous community. Though I don't fully agree with this activists' tactics, I have to say, good job. I also think it is troubling that the conservatives would use the Prime Minister's wife to manipulate Canadians.

I end with this tweet. This was tongue-in-cheek from a friend, but I got many other similar ones -- not so cheeky -- last night.




ADDED: Share your pet pic. From here.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Abortion in Atlantic Canada: GAME ON!

When I was a youngster, the battle for abortion rights in Canada was on. Even as a poor student, I contributed regularly to Canadian Abortion Rights Action League and continued until we won. Natch, I turned my bod out when required too.

Now it's the current generation's turn.

This is winnable. And it will be fun for the young'uns. We haven't had a good feminist dust-up in Canada in ages.

It's got all the elements: a petition, rallies in Fredericton, PEI, Halifax and elsewhere across the country starting tomorrow, Thursday, April 17.

Politics enters in of course, especially in an election year, which seems to spook the fetus fetishists, who must realize the clock is ticking LOUDLY on their antediluvian attitudes.

Plus, of course, the legal battle, instigated by Dr Morgentaler, which has to date provided a handy out for the government.

Health Minister Ted Flemming has declined to comment, citing the lawsuit the late Henry Morgentaler launched against the provincial government in 2002, demanding the government pay for procedures at this clinic.

"That lawsuit is still before the courts, it's still an open file before the courts, so beyond that I'm not prepared to comment further," Flemming has said.
Oopsie. Lawsuit has been withdrawn.

Besides the cross-country support, this is a very real issue in PEI, where there are NO abortions performed. About 10% of the procedures at the NB clinic were done for Island women.

In light of that, I found this absolutely astonishing.
A search of Hansard, the official written record of debate in the P.E.I. legislature, shows the word abortion has only come up in debate three times since 1996.
THREE times in nearly 20 years??????

The silence is being shattered in Atlantic Canada.

And it's gonna be FUN!



Previous DJ! coverage of New Brunswick and PEI.


ADDED: LEAF weighs in.

UPDATE: Now, a way to donate to the cause.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

PSA: Something You Can Do about Identity Theft

I was once the victim of identity theft. It was minor: somebody writing letters to the editor in my name (I was a small-fish local activist). I kicked up a shitstorm, got retractions. All good.

But the revelations about the theft of data from the Canada Revenue Agency are more worrying.

There is a very nasty scam that can be perpetrated completely without your knowledge until it jumps up to bite you on the ass. And it can take years to unscrew.

With some really basic info on you, bad guys can apply for and potentially get credit of various sorts in your name. If they're successful, they run up debt and ruin your credit rating in the process.

And you won't find out until you apply for a credit card or a mortgage or something and get refused.

Luckily, there something you can do and it's FREE.

There are two credit rating agencies that want to sell you all kinds of credit monitoring programs, but that will also (must have been arm-twisted by government) provide some info on your credit rating for FREE.

Their sites manage to hide the FREE service rather well, but I sussed them out this morning and here they are.

TransUnion and Equifax.

Smarty-pantses say you should check on this regularly. I last did it about 10 years ago when I heard of the scam, but I'm on it again now.

You're welcome.


Friday, 11 April 2014

Abortion in New Brunswick: It's Time

By now you've heard that the Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton (one of only two abortion clinics east of Montreal!) is closing. CBC report and Al Jazeera report with photos and tweets.

What I hadn't realized is that New Brunswick is the original home of the TRAP law. TRAP (Targetted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws are increasingly common in the abortion wars in the US.

But New Brunswick blazed a trail, legislating against ONE SPECIFIC CLINIC.

From the press release by the clinic:
From the moment Dr. Morgentaler announced his intention to open an abortion clinic in Fredericton, the provincial government planned to thwart his efforts.  The premier at the time, Frank McKenna, stated that: “if Mr. Morgentaler tries to open a clinic in the province of New Brunswick, he’s going to get the fight of his life.”

Subsequent New Brunswick governments have continued to block access to abortion services in New Brunswick.

Dr. Morgentaler was immune to their threats.  He had already survived jail, threats against his life and the bombing of his Toronto clinic.  The actions of the N.B. government only served to strengthen his resolve to ensure that New Brunswick women would have access to safe abortion care in his clinic and that no woman would be turned away regardless of her ability to pay.  The Morgentaler Clinic opened in June, 1994 and since then has provided abortion services to more than 10,000 women in a non-judgmental, evidence based, and professional environment.

The main obstacle the New Brunswick government created for New Brunswick women who needed to access abortions was, and still is, Regulation 84-20, Schedule 2(a.1). It states that an abortion will only be covered by Medicare if:
1. It is performed in a hospital by a specialist in the field of obstetrics or gynaecology and that
2. Two doctors have certified in writing that the procedure is ‘medically necessary’.
(Note that NB has never bothered to define "medically necessary." Read the whole press release for the history of their struggles and the heroic contributions of Dr Morgentaler. Also, DJ! has been covering the clinic's travails for years.)

So. Hats off to the innovative fetus fetishists of New Brunswick!

The deranged anti-choicers, rather than celebrating, are suspicious. They think the closure announcement is a stunt. Well, they don't want to dry up all those tasty donations, do they?

While it's idiotic to think of this desperate measure as a stunt, I think it will have serious unintended consequences that both the governments of NB and PEI (10% of abortions done at the Fredericton clinic are for women from PEI, where abortions are simply NOT DONE) will have to deal with.

The Morgentaler Clinic acted as a safety valve. For women who could afford it and arrange the travel, time off work, child care etc, the clinic provided an "out" for these two governments.

Fine, they could say, you want a "non-medical" abortion? Go to Morgentaler's and pay for it yourself.

Not anymore.

So what will the governments of NB and PEI say to women now?

Will this be the wake-up call for women and their allies previously shamed into silence? Will this be the rallying point for pro-choicers across the country to demand that ALL Canadian women get equal access to health care?

I hope so.

Now for the public service part of this blog post.

Here's a petition to sign. Now at over 6400 signatures, when I signed yesterday, it was just over 3000.

Next, here's a list of NB legislators with email addresses for letter writing.

And here's a blogpost by a former clinic worker, Pedgehog, with her own insights and suggestions.

It's time. Let's drag New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island into the 21st century.

UPDATE: There's an election in NB this year. Looks like Liberal Leader is "softening" support for government 2-doctor policy without actually coming out in support of repeal of the regulations.

UPPITY-DATER: There's a rally next Thursday, April 17. 2,000 already confirmed.

MORE: There's NBProchoice tumblr. Upload a picture.

A Most Opportune Death




well, it wasn't for Flaherty but it most certainly is for Harper.

We will all die.  Every one of us.

But let us consider Flaherty's CONvenient demise and how Harper will play it out.

All in all, Flaherty's sudden death after dumping Harper and his party, is awfully CONvenient for PMSHithead - if he needs to strike fear in his partisans.

Paul Wells, a most rigorous and understated political reporter, gives us an insight into the internal gears of Harper's CPC that are grinding Canadians down as well as a portrait of a corporate conservative, here.

Flaherty's death offers Harper's Politburo glorious, flashy opportunities to display him in a *good* light which is a tactic that PMSHithead badly needs to deploy right now.

So, let's watch how Harper plays the Canadian and international media in order to exploit Flaherty's death for his own purpose.  It can be his new sweater-and-kittens schtick!

Will Harper insist that Flaherty receive a state funeral, with all the pomp and protocol, and the attendant bells and whistles? I bet he does exactly that. PMSHithead's government needs a MASSIVE sparkly diversions from all the attention the lies, the fraud and the corruption that Harper has facilitated.

As tweeter @dexterdyne asked: The Harper government has cut programs and funding for our veterans, scientists, health care, unemployed, the CBC, the public service.  So what exactly are they spending it on? 

In order to evade such probing questions, Harper's Politburo in currently in full War Room mode.  Right now its richly-paid communication flunkies are spinning tactics to best exploit Flaherty's death for maximum benefit: to make PMSHithead look *good* to voters and to the media.

They are probably looking to North Korea, as they did when they wrote the *Fair* Elections Act, for inspiration on how to shine up Harper's image.

Perhaps Harper's Politburo will claim C23 was Flaherty's brainchild; thus any critic of any word of the Elections Reform Act could be smeared (or worse?) for "disrespecting" his memory.

I suggest instead of listening and watching a week of disgusting and crass CPC Con glurge, Canadians might view _Angel Heart_ or any film that explores what happens when someone sells their soul to the devil.

Once you start thinking of Harper in THAT light... 

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Woody's Last Wank

Stephen Woodworth has blown his last wad.

He needed unanimous consent in Parliament today to move his "worth and dignity", aka "Women Are Mere Vessels for the Worth and Dignity of Blobs of Tissue" gambit forward.

He did not get it.

Stephen Woodworth, Member of Parliament for Kitchener Centre, today asked Members of Parliament to unanimously agree that every Canadian law must be interpreted in a manner which recognizes the equal worth and dignity of everyone who is in fact a human being. Woodworth asked the House of Commons, “Who here wants to deny the equal worth and dignity of any fellow human being?”

During routine procedures at 10:00 AM Eastern time, some Members of Parliament voted “nay” when MP Woodworth asked for unanimous consent.
And that's it.

We at DAMMIT JANET! have been following this wingnut for months (years?) now and now declare his much extended 15 minutes of fame over.

We're done with him.

As, we sincerely hope, will be the good people of Kitchener Centre in the next election.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Woodworth: The Coming Zombie Puppet Apocalypse!

I'm confused. Is Woody threatening a zombie apocalypse or a Muppet movie remake?

So reluctant is he to mention the A word that he is driven to moronic allegories and now puppets (?).

Really the man makes no sense. (bold added)

Under Parliamentary rules Woodworth cannot, without unanimous consent, bring this Motion to a vote so he will seek the unanimous consent of Members of Parliament. During Woodworth’s Member’s Statement on Monday, March 31, 2014 he noted that “If even one Member of this House refuses to consent to this essential principle of democratic governance it will be a dark and dangerous day for Canada.

”

Woodworth said: “Laws like subsection 223(1), which falsely condemn as non-human those we know to be human, are savage and inhumane, a throwback to a more barbarous age.” Any Member opposing Motion 476 is denying the equal worth and dignity of every member of the human family affirmed in the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He went on to say that in addition, "Similarly, if anyone opposes Motion 476a, they clearly haven't seen the latest Muppet Movie and are simply out of touch with their Child side...and probably reality as well."



Woodworth posing with his hand puppets "Les" and "Bess" in a press conference says " I would like this Motion to include hand puppets as well because they are so human-like at times to me, and have become almost equals when it comes to hammering home some of my best ideas in parliament. It'll be a sad day for puppets if this Motion goes down in flames.

Woodworth says Motion 476a (which will include puppets) will underline the reason why it is important for Canadians to refuse to accept any law which condemns as non-human anyone we know to be human or suspect to have human-like qualities...for instance--puppets!

Miss Piggy, whom is often viewed as more human than some people and certainly more than some politicians, could not be reached for comment.

Well, as for puppets being people too, Woody, as a backbench Conservative MP, should know.

HUGE Vatican FAIL

As long as I've been blogging on reproductive rights and justice (about seven years), there's been wrangling in Philippines over basic contraception and family planning.

And now it's over.

The Supreme Court in the Philippines has approved a birth control law, in a defeat for the Catholic Church.

The law requires government health centres to distribute free condoms and contraceptive pills.

The court had deferred implementation after the law's passage in December 2012 after church groups questioned its constitutionality.

Supporters of the law cheered as the court found that most of the provisions were constitutional.

The government of President Benigno Aquino defied years of church pressure by passing the bill.

It says the law will help the poor, who often cannot afford birth control, and combat the country's high rates of maternal mortality.

The provisions will make virtually all forms of contraception freely available at public health clinics.

Sex education will also be compulsory in schools and public health workers will be required to receive family planning training.

There will also be medical care for women who have had illegal abortions.
Abortion of course will still be illegal.

Here's the view from Manila.
The Catholic Church, which counts over 80 percent of the country’s 100 million population as members, had led street protests denouncing the law as “evil”, and at one point in its opposition campaign threatened Aquino with excommunication.

One of its hardline opponents and a petitioner to the court, former senator Francisco Tatad, said allowing the law to take effect could force Catholics into an open revolt.

“This means civil disobedience at the very least, actual revolt at the most extreme,” Tatad wrote in a commentary in the Manila Standard on Tuesday.

“Some of us will want to defy the power of the devil and die as martyrs, if need be, in the only cause that gives us a chance to fight for something much bigger than ourselves.”
Big talk.

All bullshit.
Nevertheless, many Catholics have embraced less conservative views in recent decades.

A recent survey carried by the respected Social Weather Stations polling group said about 84 percent of Filipinos agreed that the government should provide free family planning options such as contraceptives.

It said 72 percent were “in favor” of the law.
Another Vatican Taliban FAIL.


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

More on the Canadian Sexual Two-Step

First, the step back:

DJ! fave (^NOT) Stephen Woodworth is at it again.

Meanwhile, Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth hits the stage at the National Press Theatre for "an important announcement" on his backbench bid to have the Commons "affirm that every Canadian law must be interpreted in a manner that recognizes in law the equal worth and dignity of everyone who is in fact a human being" -- which is, of course, a not terribly veiled attempt to restart the 'conversation' that he had hoped to trigger with his original, more obviously abortion-targeted motion in 2012.

As he has already used up his slot on the private members' priority list, Woodworth will almost certainly not get the opportunity to see his motion go to the House floor under his name, but he may have successfully persuaded a colleague to carry on the campaign.
That was from National Treasure Kady O'Malley, who when asked which MPs might give up his or her spot for this quixotic ploy, responded with this link and the additional information that the first 15 names have priority.

Those names are:
122. Chong, Michael
123. Brosseau, Ruth Ellen
124. Ayala, Paulina
125. Mayes, Colin
126. Chisu, Corneliu
127. Péclet, Ève
128. Hoback, Randy
129. Leef, Ryan
130. Hayes, Bryan
131. Van Kesteren, Dave
132. Choquette, François
133. Valeriote, Frank
134. Patry, Claude
135. Stanton, Bruce
136. Morin, Isabelle
From Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada's list of anti-choice MPs, there are three possibles: Mayes, Hoback, and Van Kesteren.

We live and see.

From the step-forward file: New Brunswick students call for an end to the shameful and illegal refusal of NB to fund abortions.

A group of students at St. Thomas University has launched an online petition asking the New Brunswick government to fund abortions at a private clinic.

The aspiring social workers say they know women who have had difficulty accessing abortions and they want the province to fund abortions at Fredericton’s private Morgentaler Clinic.
Here's their petition, now with more than 3,000 signatures.

Support the students' efforts and women's rights in New Brunswick.

UPDATE to Woodworth bit: Kady reports that she missed the beginning of his presser, but noted that he seemed to be giving the speech he always gives.









Upshot: Same old bullshit.