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   Why would people vote against their own interests?  Why do so many people choose not to vote at all?  Some of the answers lie with the very structure of the American political system and the ideological rules that are currently being followed.

Noam Chomsky has always said that the US has two business class parties.  Ostensibly, they agree on a core of values and only differ on a few social and economic ones, just enough to differentiate themselves (modestly from the other).

” -In the US, there is basically one party – the business party. It has two factions, called Democrats and Republicans, which are somewhat different but carry out variations on the same policies. By and large, I am opposed to those policies. As is most of the population.”

-Noam Chomsky

So, it is a terrible system for most, except for the people in power.  Rob Urie explains:

 

“Tacticians for the political establishment(s) understand that electoral politics is antithetical to democracy, which is why they use strategies of exclusion to maintain their lock on power. This unity through exclusion is what makes the pretense that they— Democrats versus Republicans, are ideological combatants so self-serving and implausible. Either Party could expand the electorate by bringing in unaffiliated and disaffected voters, and in-so-doing dominate American politics. But to do so, they would have to offer a political program that voters want.

The U.S. has a very low electoral turnout rate compared with other so-called democracies. The question then is why Democrats would focus their efforts on luring a small number of suburban Republicans to vote for Democrats rather than on the large number of eligible voters from urban, suburban and rural working class and poor neighborhoods? The answer is class. The oligarchs + the richest 9.9% won’t support policies that benefit poor and working-class voters. They might oppose racism, but not poverty.

One easy way to expand the electorate is to stop excluding it. Old news here— voter suppression is rampant in the U.S. While this is a favorite tactic of Republicans, Democrats have passed up every opportunity to 1) force Republicans to stop doing it and 2) enact universal suffrage. Here’s the rub— even if Democrats accepted 20% voter suppression as a background level, they could still craft policies that support the poor and working class and bring in tens of millions of voters by doing so. But they apparently don’t want ‘those people’ voting.

In 2018 in my poor and working class, 98% Democrat, neighborhood, the Democrats left door tags with two messages: property tax ‘relief’ that has little appeal in a 90%+ renter neighborhood and ‘stopping Trump.’ This neighborhood suffered horribly in the Bush / Obama years from the twin catastrophes of de-industrialization and financialization. De-industrialization took away the jobs and then financialization made housing unaffordable while growing a below living-wage chain-store economy that bankrupted local businesses.”

Breaking out of the two party system is the first requirement for any sort of authentic change not only in American society, but also in Canada as well.  The two ‘preferred choices’ both serve a narrow slice of the population while essentially disenfranchising the rest.

If we wish to see real change, we will need to address the systemic electoral obstacles first.

 

The CBC has a leaked copy of the Inquiry, some highlights:

“The inquiry officially began on Sept. 1, 2016, and was given a two-year mandate to examine systemic causes of all forms of violence against Indigenous women and girls. The government granted a six-month extension in 2018, with the final report due by April 30, 2019. The inquiry had requested a two-year extension.

Among the report’s recommendations is a call for an immediate end to birth alerts — a system used by child welfare agencies to flag a person’s history, which may lead to a baby being apprehended from its mother in the hospital.

It also calls for a transformation of policing to reduce racism in police forces, and more funding to overhaul First Nations policing, bring rural and remote communities up to a higher standard, and better technology for sexual assault investigations.”

What we as Canadians can do:

The report also makes these recommendations to all Canadians:

  • Denounce and speak out against violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people.

  • Decolonize by learning the true history of Canada and Indigenous history in your local area.

  • Develop knowledge and read the final report.

  • Using what you have learned and some of the resources suggested, become a strong ally … actively working to break down barriers and to support others in every relationship and encounter in which you participate.

  • Confront and speak out against racism, sexism, ignorance, homophobia, and transphobia, and teach or encourage others to do the same, wherever it occurs, in your home, in your workplace, or in social settings.

  • Protect, support, and promote the safety of women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people by acknowledging and respecting the value of every person and every community, as well as the right of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people to generate their own, self-determined solutions.

  • Create time and space for relationships based on respect as human beings, supporting and embracing differences with kindness, love, and respect. Learn about Indigenous principles of relationship specific to those Nations or communities in your local area and work, and put them into practice in all of your relationships with Indigenous Peoples.

  • Help hold all governments accountable to act on the Calls for Justice, and to implement them according to the important principles we set.

 

We shall see how the general population of Canada reacts, I hope that we can read the report and move toward a better future with our indigenous peoples.

This is a special thank you to UCP Voters. This is special because it is discussing the new UCP Bill 8.

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I like to call it the “We’re a bunch of small minded bigots and we’re going to take it out on children” bill. It’s also the bill that removes the protections for LGBT people in Alberta, specifically those that allow those in school to form GSA clubs. These clubs save lives. These protections not only allowed them to be formed, it also prevented the schools from outing these youth to their parents. Something that most assuredly will happen from those within the Catholic School System at the very least.

But this really isn’t about Jason Kenney, or the Catholic School System. This is about you, the UCP voter. These people are just doing exactly what they’ve always said they will. It is you, the UCP voter who have elected these people. That the UCP is now doing exactly what they always said they would do is no surprise. That means that you, the people who have elected these goons, are directly responsible for giving them the power to do so. This means one of two things in this specific case.

  1. You are a hateful bigot that thinks dead kids is preferable to kids being both gay and alive.
  2. You don’t actively hate gay people but you are comfortable enough with gay kids offing themselves so you can vote in someone who will ensure that this happens just so you can vote in a party that has the name conservative in it. This despite there being two other neoliberal parties that would have governed almost identically to Kenney economically without being regressive on social issues.

 

And that’s the crux of it. Either way the blood of every dead kid that kills themselves because they didn’t have the support a GSA club could have provided is directly on your hands. You had a choice and you chose the party full of hateful bigots. YOU are the problem dear UCP voter. I would wish you would choke on the blood of these dead kids but I can’t. Because I care that these kids don’t kill themselves. You obviously don’t though. Perhaps I’ll leave you with this: Go fuck yourself UCP voters.

The working conditions we have today were born in struggle and paid for in blood.  We don’t understand the sacrifices others made for us these days.  Not completely our fault as the Powers that Be have employed several strategies against the working class, most notably, divide and conquer, to ensure that the mass movements of the past do not crop up again and threaten the established norms of society.

Take note, single day marchers, that what you are doing is almost completely for your benefit.  Your single day of action is meek, unoffensive, and for the most part condoned by those who make the rules.

Why?  Because everything goes back to normal once you go home.  You benefit from venting and feeling like you’ve done something (as insipid as it happens to be) and life goes on.  Problem NOT solved.

Effective protesting is not convenient, short-term, or easy.  It requires a dedicated mass of people who are willing to put their lives on the line and make the society around them,most inconveniently, grind to halt.   The press will demonize you, the anti-union thugs will beat you, and the police will most likely end up killing you because you are not falling in line with the elite’s rules and expectations.

In 1919, workers in Winnipeg said, “Enough”.

“A combination of social and economic inequality and a growing awareness among the working class of these disparities led somewhere between 25,000 and 35,000 workers to walk off the job for 42 days, beginning on May 15.

The reasons so many people put their livelihoods at risk by striking in a harshly anti-union climate were manifold.

Poor work conditions, inadequate wages and the refusal by many employers to recognize and negotiate with unions culminated in the unrest that spilled into the streets and left two men dead by the end of the six-week strike.”

The willingness for people exploit other people is almost unlimited.

 

“Employment offices sprouted up across Winnipeg to connect those workers with jobs. Some agencies “lived to fleece newly arrived immigrants” by charging them steep job-finding fees and locking them into contracts with measly salaries and steep room and board charges, Doug Smith wrote in his book Let us Rise: An Illustrated History of the Manitoba Labour Movement”

Fresh and new to Canada? Let’s exploit you and your family, ASAP.  This is the base standard for human behaviour in society.  Not pretty, but unless we organize against it, it is what we will get.

“The railway yard-adjacent communities were also a public health nightmare.

Unsanitary, crowded conditions meant infections and diseases spread with impunity. There were annual outbreaks of typhoid due to the unclean water supply in the late 19th century: nearly 1,300 Winnipeggers just over five per cent of the city’s population were diagnosed with the bacterial infection in 1904.

The Spanish flu of 1918 killed 1,200 people in Winnipeg, and the working class and immigrant neighbourhoods of the north were worst hit.

“It was a deplorable area in which to live: communicable diseases were rampant; it had one of the highest child mortality rates of anywhere in the country; up until the aqueduct [from Shoal Lake] came through, the water supply was a serious danger to the citizens,” Siamandas said.

“These were the seeds of what led to the Winnipeg General Strike in 1919.”

Without equal access to health care, suitable housing, fair wages and education opportunities, and with few of the creature comforts enjoyed by the upper crust, a great unrest was brewing in blue-collar Winnipeg.”

If you ever wondered how bad it has to get before people will act, it is like this.  Gross inequality, squalor, disease and high child mortality.

The Barretts were staunchly anti-union and against collective bargaining. As a matter of principle, the brothers said, they would only deal directly with their workers on an individual basis.

“This is a free country and … as far as we are concerned, the day will never come when we will have to take orders from any union,” Leonard wrote in 1916, refusing to meet a committee of his employees over concerns related to wages and work conditions.

“There was fierce resistance from all employers, public and private, to unionization, and if you dared go on a picket line in Winnipeg, there were injunctions slapped on you and you were in the courts,” said Paul Moist, former national president of Canada’s largest union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

This antagonism toward unions continued as working-class tensions deepened during the war.”

Indeed it is a free country.  Freedom has different means depending on which social class you happen to inhabit.  I’m guessing most of my readership is not in the business elite, and as evinced in 1919, the business class has its political shit together we currently do not.  The structures of society are on their side, along with the coercive elements like the police and army.  This is what we have to acknowledge and prepare for if we want to society for the better.

“Leonard scoffed at the suggestion and declared, “God gave me this plant, and by God I’ll run it the way I want to.”

About 45 firms and 1,000 employees went on strike July 22, 1918, after the trades council proposed wage increases and eight-hour days for auto and metalworkers. Though a few of the shops complied, most refused to negotiate with the council, so it was back to work — but the men’s dissatisfaction became a catalyst of the Winnipeg General Strike.

Workers at Vulcan and two other metal shops declared on May 1, 1919, that they would strike again for the right to unionization and a collective bargaining process. The strike started the next day.”

The rest is history, but people today need to know the attitudes that are behind the levers of power.  They cannot be negotiated with when they think they have all the power in the situation.  Power will never cede power willingly.  Only through organized resistance en mass can gains be made.

Please consider this the next time you schedule your appearance at a one day march : who is it benefiting and will your actions change the social bedrock of society.

[Source: cbc.ca]

 

 

 

 

 

Canada is doing marginally better than the US in terms of abortion law.  The problem is gap between legality and accessibility.  Following the letter but not the spirit of the law gives Canadian women the short end of the stick, as usual.  It’s a legal medical procedure, and a government that respected women as autonomous human beings would ensure that women access to the medical procedures they required with as few encumbrances as possible.  The fuckery still goes on here in Canada though.

“Abortion has been legal in Canada since 1988 when the Supreme Court of Canada struck down laws against it. But for women living outside of big urban centres like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, accessing the procedure “becomes really tricky,” Chabot said.

Some of those barriers include funding. Under the Canada Health Act, abortion services are insured in all provinces and territories. But some provinces have placed limits on funding for the procedure.”

I swear, mandatory male vasectomies ought to be the way to go with the amount of bullshit that surrounds this issue.

Ontario does not fund abortions at every clinic, while New Brunswick does not fund abortions at clinics at all, only hospitals. Health Canada, in its 2016-2017 annual report, said New Brunswick’s lack of coverage “remains a concern.

And in the case of New Brunswick, the “federal government has failed to penalize the province by withholding transfer payments.”

Distance to abortion services can also be a barrier. In many remote communities, specifically northern communities, there are no abortion clinics in town and no hospitals that perform the procedure.

So, small check mark, but we need to continue to push to make sure that all Canadian women have access to the reproductive health care they need, not just the ones in the major cities.

 

   This incident explicitly shows how transactivism is not only anti-feminist, but anti-woman, and patriarchal to the core.  Women don’t move to remove funding for rape crisis centres.  Entitled males do.

So, no there will be no catering to your ideology, not after this.  Not ever.

Full statement from the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter:

1. On March 14, 2019, at the end of a flawed and unfair process, Vancouver City Council voted to terminate the yearly grant given to us in support of our public education work.

2. Vancouver City Council’s decision is intended to coerce us to change our position and practice of offering some of our core services only to women who are born female. Our organization’s status as an equality-seeking group and our entitlement to serve women who are born female was reaffirmed by the Supreme Court of British Columbia in 2003, by the British Columbia Court of Appeal in 2005 and by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2007.

3. Vancouver City Council’s attempt to undermine our autonomy as a women’s group — to decide who we serve, who our membership is and who we organize with — also undermines the protections the law has granted us. Such conduct has no place in a democratic society.

4. Vancouver City Council’s decision to cut funding from Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter is discriminatory. Many Vancouver City grants are given to organizations that deliver programs and support to specific groups of people such as Aboriginal youth, Chinese seniors, deaf persons and migrant workers. Rightfully, none of these groups have been challenged with the demand that they demonstrate “accommodation, welcomeness and openness to people of all ages, abilities… and ethnicities.” Such a demand of these organizations would be incomprehensible, as it would contradict the essence and purpose of their work. Yet, this is what is being asked of us under the guise of inclusivity.

5. Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter is the longest standing rape crisis centre in Canada. Since 1973, our group has responded to close to 46,000 women seeking our support in their escape from male violence. Since we opened our transition house in 1981, we have housed over 3,000 women and over 2,600 children.

The operation of our rape crisis centre and transition house are forms of direct action, developed for women by women in the 1970s as a part of the second wave of the North American women’s movement. More than just providing immediate safety, we offer a place to group, analyze, strategize and fight back against male violence.

6. In addition to our frontline work, we put a substantial effort into public education, as it’s an essential tool for social change. We are intentional in organizing public education events that are free, open and accessible to all.

7. We are also active in national women’s equality reforms. In the past year, we appeared in the Supreme Court of Canada case of the murder of Cindy Gladue; we conducted cross examinations and made oral and written submissions as a party with standing at the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls; and spoke to the House of Commons of Canada and to the Senate of Canada on legislative reforms related violence against women.

8. We have no doubt that people whose behaviour is not consistent with the patriarchal socially imposed definition of manhood or womanhood, including transgender people, suffer discrimination and violence. Transgender people deserve and must live in safety and have the equal rights and opportunities that are promised to us all. When it comes to our services, we have a collective commitment to see to the safety anyone who calls our crisis line, including transgender people.

9. As part of ongoing efforts to discredit us, we were accused that we “do not support sex workers” (including by a Vancouver City Council member on social media).

Our services are available to all women who have experienced male violence. We provide assistance to women and girls in prostitution who have been assaulted by johns, pimps or men pressuring them into prostitution. We provide assistance to women who are currently being prostituted, women who are trying to escape prostitution, and women who have been trafficked into prostitution.

We understand prostitution as sexual exploitation and male violence against women. Prostitution normalizes the subordination of women. It exploits and compounds systemic inequality on the basis of sex, race, poverty, age and disability. Our analysis of prostitution as a harmful patriarchal institution and our commitment to abolition is derived from, and is reinforced by, the prostituted women who call us and the members of our own collective who have exited prostitution.

10. Being born female still means being trained, socialized and forced to submit to male domination. The fact that we are born female and raised as girls to adulthood as women shapes our lives in profound ways.

Male violence against us is a harsh but common experience, and in no way the only one. Our sexuality is controlled and manipulated — whether by punishing women for not being virgins, or by the promotion of pornography and BDSM as liberating expressions of women’s sexuality. Our reproductive ability is controlled and manipulated — whether through forced abortion and sterilization, pressuring women to get pregnant, or forcing women’s pregnancy through rape.

Being girls and women in this world often impacts both how we look and how we act in private and in public; what we are allowed to do, encouraged to do and rewarded for; and also what we are discouraged from doing, prohibited to do or punished for.

And from that place, in a woman-only space, with other women, who have the shared experience of being born without a choice to the oppressed class of women we come together to organize and strategize our resistance and our fight for women’s liberation

Donate to the Vancouver Rape Relief and Woman’s Centre – They stand in the vanguard against the unhinged patriarchal assault on women and deserve our moral and monetary support.

Good chunks of Eastern Canada are getting the flood treatment.

 

“In Canada, this spring’s rainfall, compounded by melting snow, has led to states of emergency and evacuations in areas across Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick.”

The people who have built or bought their homes on floodplains are currently getting their asses kicked again, just like last year, and most likely just like next year.  Our climate is becoming more chaotic and more prone to extremes it would seem that choosing to live in a vulnerable area is perhaps, not the best of decisions.  Enter the notion of the floating home:

   “English, who runs the Buoyant Foundation Project, explained that most homes on flood plains, if properly equipped, would be unscathed in flooding like Canadians are experiencing today. 

Amphibious homes are retrofitted with “a hidden floating dock underneath” and vertical posts that guide the house up and down, allowing it to float on water, she said.

“It lets the water go wherever the water wants to go and the house gets out of the way. So it doesn’t try to compete,” she said. “Humankind does the accommodation rather than trying to push the water around.”

Wow.  To me, this seems to be one of the problems we humans have when making decisions about how to use and exist in the space our biosphere provides for us.

We, in most of North America, are very comfortable with imposing our designs (societal and architecturally speaking) on the environment and are quite happy to rely on human ingenuity to fix the problems that arise from our initial imposition.

I want to be clear, I live in a urban setting that is quite pleasingly civilized and manicured to standard that removes most of the hazardous aspects of making a living.  And I like it, quite a bit actually.  But my current happiness and comfort, doesn’t excuse the artificial nature of the relationship and all the downsides it brings to the table with regards to sustainability and the future.

So, this leads to one of the problems I see with the notion of floating houses.  It is the seeking of a technological solution to a problem created by technology.  River management is a fools game – the more we mess with river system the worse said system gets.

We avoid the basic problem – building on a floodplain – by making houses that float.  We should consider not building in high-risk areas in the first place and add incentive for people to move away from areas that regularly get flooded.

Seems reasonable to me.  However, as we all know, human beings are not particularly reasonable creatures.

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