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knowyourlimitsI would like to thank a recent commenter here on DWR for the placement of a tidy swarm of bees squarely in my bonnet. The honour, of course, goes to Godless Cranium for this nugget of wisdom shared on a previous thread:

“And I’m not saying sexism doesn’t exist or doesn’t play a factor sometimes, but I don’t think it’s as pervasive as you think, and I certainly don’t think all men are oppressors like patriarchy theory demands we believe.”

Before you can say “not all men…” check that thread for my response, I have it covered – but I think such a clearly stated denouncement of the patriarchal nature of our society requires a response with a little more… hmm… vibrancy than just a text based reply.

As chance would have it, current political events in my dear home province of Alberta have served up a glorious(?) example of the sexist and patriarchal attitudes that continue to flourish in our society.

The political event that I refer to is the leadership race for the Alberta provincial Progressive Conservative party. As of November 8th, the women who were in the race have both dropped out citing extensive misogynistic threats and physical and social intimidation.

  “The only two women vying for the leadership of Alberta’s PC Party have both dropped out of the race.

  Sandra Jansen and Donna Kennedy-Glans — socially progressive voices within the party — both gave notice on Tuesday that they were withdrawing.

  Jansen, the PC MLA for Calgary-Northwest, cited intimidation and harassment for her decision.”

   “In all of that time, I have never before experienced harassment like that which occurred up to and including this past weekend in Red Deer.”

Hmm.  What is going on in the upper political echelons of our political class?

“In the release Jansen said she has been harassed online and her social media feeds have been “filled with filth.” The final straw in Red Deer was when “insults were scrawled on my nomination forms.”

“Volunteers from another campaign chased me up and down the hall, attacking me for protecting women’s reproductive rights, and my team was jeered for supporting children’s rights to a safe school environment.”

Hey now, politics is a rough and tumble affair, one should expect to face slings and arrows – it is a part of the process.  I mean male politicians get the same calibre of flak, right?

Wrong.

“Sandra should stay in the kitchen where she belongs.”

“What a traitorous bitch.”

“Now you have two blond bimbos in a party that is clueless.”

“Dumb broad, a good place for her to be is with the rest of the queers.”

Let’s listen to what she has to say about the harassment she, like other women, face every day.

“Jansen was highlighting an issue that is bigger than her experience, according to Nancy Peckford of Equal Voice Canada.

“The vast majority of elected women are encountering some sort of misogynistic behaviour, online bullying, or harassment on a fairly regular basis,” she said.

“I think what’s very disturbing for Equal Voice is the misogynistic and sexist undertones and explicit commentary that’s used to diminish women’s contributions to public life and also undermine the confidence and the leadership female elected officials are offering.”

The misogyny she is experiencing is systemic, it happens everywhere all the time.  Watch as Ms. Jansen explains her motivations as to why she made her speech.  It is a damning look at how patriarchal our society actually is.

“Other women have also spoken out about the sexism they encounter in public life, including Conservative MP Michelle Rempel. 

“The everyday sexism I face involves confronting the ‘bitch’ epithet when I don’t automatically comply with someone’s request or capitulate on my position on an issue,” she wrote in a National Post opinion article in April.

“It involves my ass being occasionally grabbed as a way to shock me into submission. It involves tokenism. It involves sometimes being written off as not serious when I’ve clearly proven I am.”

“That combination of the immediacy and the anonymity means that it’s sort of exploded into a new culture of pretty vicious, vitriolic attacks,” she said. 

“Unfortunately, the attacks are particularly vicious toward women, and the attacks against women aren’t just violent, they’re sexualized violence. So it’s quite disturbing to see that some people will behave in this way, and it’s a challenge for our political culture to respond effectively to it.

She hopes more and more people will come together to condemn misogyny in politics and said it’s important for party leaders to forcefully and unequivocally reject the attacks.”

Yep.  Misogyny needs to be addressed and kept in the spotlight, not only as the struggle for this generation but also the next generation of women and girls to show that having political aspirations (or professional ones) doesn’t mean facing a constant stream of harassment and misogyny.

But wait!  There is more!  Let’s go to another profession and and listen as Danielle Campbell describes what women have to face if they want to join the Police.

“Danielle Campbell walked into the canine unit 20 years ago as the first female graduate of the Edmonton Police Service dog handler program.

She faced insults, taunts and the reek of urine on her belongings.

“When I was in the unit they drew Xs on my eyes and they drew cocks around my face, a whole bunch of them … they would urinate on my gear.

‘It was ridiculous,” she said, referring to how a picture of her and her dog was defaced. “The sergeant in charge did nothing about it. Nothing.”

Campbell, 51, is no longer a police officer with EPS. She ended her 27-year-career in August 2016 when she resigned as deputy chief of police, the highest rank achieved by a woman within the city’s police force.”

The common saying is that women have to work twice as hard to get half as far ahead in society.  Danielle Campbell is the embodiment of this, as her hard work and dedication – her proficiency at the job – eventually fought her way to the level of Deputy Chief of Police.

“A high-ranking officer in the human resources division told her she had to sign a document saying she wouldn’t get pregnant.

She was also told she could never become a dog handler because of her gender due to concerns over her menstrual cycle affecting the dog.

“I burst out laughing. But he didn’t laugh with me, he was dead serious,” she said.

“I just stood up and I said ‘This conversation is over. You have absolutely no empirical data to support that. That is just ridiculous,’ and I walked out. And to be honest with you that’s when I thought I was going to be fired.”

She wasn’t fired and neither was the officer or officers who sent her a Barbie doll in the mail, noose around its neck with the note: “No split tails in the dog unit, take a hint bitch.”

So yeah, I’m thinking there might be something to it when women say there is a culture of harassment and misogyny that makes their careers and lives more difficult than it needs to be.

  “I really believe that so much has improved, and there’s so much more support for diversity and inclusivity and gender equality.

“But we’re not fully there yet,” she said, adding what she sees happening in the United States and, closer to home, in Alberta politics, is concerning.”

Please note the sentence – “we’re not there yet”.  This is the key right here.  Liberal dudes are so very quick to say the need for feminism is over, or sexism isn’t that bad, or that prevalent.  Dudes…  *you* don’t get to say any of that shit.  When we hear it from women, then, and only then, can we declare sexism to be ‘over’ and no need for feminism.

It’s not your call.  Stop trying to make it your call, it isn’t always all about you.

[Source: cbc.ca – 1, 2, 3, 4]

 

 

 

 

 

 

The debate over respecting the boundaries of females has spilled over the border and has galvanized protests at the Alberta legislature.

“Both were there as participants in two similar, yet very different, rallies scheduled only an hour apart.  The crux of both protests was the controversial Bill 10.  The first one took place to support trans rights while the second was organized to give displeased parents a voice against the bill.  The bill, originally passed by the Progressive Conservative government in March 2015, focuses on students having access to gay-straight alliances.”

No problem with GSA’s, but what the protesters are objecting to is this from the guidelines sent to the public schools.  This quote from page 6 of that document:

“Some students have not disclosed their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression beyond the school community for a variety of reasons, including safety. In keeping with the principles of self-identification, it is important to:

• inform students of limitations regarding their chosen name and gender identity or gender expression in relation to official school records that require legal name designation; and

• protect a student’s personal information and privacy, including, where possible, having a student’s explicit permission before disclosing information related to the student’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression to peers, parents, guardians or other adults in their lives.

Wherever possible, before contacting the parents or other adults involved in the care (such as social workers or caregivers) of a student who is trans or gender-diverse, consult with the student to determine an appropriate way to reference the student’s gender identity, gender expression, name and related pronouns.”

One can see where parents might be concerned as schools have been directed to withhold information regarding their children.  Keeping parents out of the loop with critical information regarding their children isn’t a good policy as parents or one’s family is responsible for the child’s well being for all the time the child is outside of school.

Conversely, a child from a family holding traditional views on gender or sexuality would be placed in a tenuous position, facing a bevy of negative consequences at home for going against her or his family’s values.

The legislation as worded has the very distinct possibility of creating a culture of distrust between the school and the parents.  Open discourse and communication are key in maintaining the school/home relationship that is vital for student success in the academic environment.

Adequate supports must be in place for students whose values differ from their parents, and schools should be facilitating the dialogue between children and their parents.  Withholding pertinent information from parents only places schools in opposition to families thus removing a foundational connective bridge in educational process – and that benefits no one.

[Source: cbc.ca]

[Source: Education Alberta]

- Evi, Alberta, Canada - Crews work to clean up at Rainbow Pipeline's oil spill, the worst Alberta oil spill in 35 years, dumping 28, 000 barrels of oil into a wetland area at Evi, Alberta which is near Little Buffalo, Alberta, Canada.

20110505 – Evi, Alberta, Canada – Crews work to clean up at Rainbow Pipeline’s oil spill, the worst Alberta oil spill in 35 years, dumping 28, 000 barrels of oil into a wetland area at Evi, Alberta which is near Little Buffalo, Alberta, Canada.

Progress in the laying of plans for Canada’s build-your-own-envirnomental-disaster have hit a snag.  The people’s land that we want to endanger are saying no way, and no how.  Pretty rude considering that one of our more outspoken Premier’s comments ,“Let those Eastern bastards freeze in the dark.”  Oh Ralph, how we miss those straight talkn’, shoot from hip’in, shod in political clown shoes days of yesteryear (not at all actually).

Now, it seems, Alberta may need the dreaded Easters help in order to get our tar-sands products to market.  Strangely enough, they seem to be not acquiescing to our requests.   The Mayor of Montreal responds:

“Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre announced the city’s official opposition to proposed Energy East pipeline project Thursday, saying the potential risks outweigh its possible economic benefits to communities including his.  Coderre was joined by mayors from neighbouring cities including Laval and Longueuil that make up the Montreal Metropolitan Community.

“We are against it because it still represents significant environmental threats and too few economic benefits for greater Montreal,” said Coderre on behalf of the MMC.”

I imagine it would have been easier to make a case for the pipeline if much of Eastern Canada had not been forced to look elsewhere in the market for oil, because apparently the Dreaded National Energy Program (western Canada selling oil to Eastern Canada for a fair price) was to risky a venture for the Western Canadian oil capitalists.   Fast forward to the present and now we in the west are wondering why these bastards are not helping us out.

This state of affairs does not sit will for the political representative of the business sector in the Alberta Legislature.  Cue the stolid Brian Jean to microphone:

“In a statement, Brian Jean, leader of Alberta’s Wildrose Party, called Coderre’s position “disgraceful.”

“While Mr. Coderre dumps a billion litres of raw sewage directly into his waterways and benefits from billions in equalization payments, his opposition to the Energy East pipeline is nothing short of hypocritical,” Jean said.

Jean claimed the project would entail economic benefits of $9.2 billion for Quebec, citing numbers provided by TransCanada.”

Well, your claim is only made much more substantial by using the figures provided by the oil company.  We shan’t tarry to long with sources though, because this was just the opening salvo in the great West VS East energy pipeline showdown.

Coderre replies:

“”First of all, you have to allow me a moment to laugh at a guy like Brian Jean, when he says he relies on science. These are probably the same people who think the Flintstones is a documentary. But that’s another story.”

Ouch.  But our intrepid Wild Rose Leader fires back..

“I had an opportunity to serve with Mr. Coderre in federal politics for many years, and I’m used to watching him float up and down the gutter,” said Jean, who was a Conservative MP for a decade before entering provincial politics in Alberta.”

Oh Brian, politics is hard and nasty eh?  We’ll finish with Mr.Coderre:

“The community of metropolitan Montreal isn’t nothing,” he said. “It’s four million residents, it’s 82 municipalities, it’s 50 per cent of the gross domestic product, population and jobs of Quebec.

“We have committees of engineers, so we are working with credible data. We realized that when you build it, you can say it will bring this or that, and it will create so many jobs. But the economic reality is that it’s only 33 jobs and at most $2 million per year of municipal revenue.”

Two million is far cry from 9.2 billion dollars.  I’m sure the real number lies *somewhere* between those two extremes, but that isn’t the point.  It is Mr.Coderre that we are trying to win over to our side, and calling him a gutter inhabitant is not going to get the pipeline built.  This kind of grandstanding might win you the populist vote from rural Alberta (hurrah for the Sticks!), but it doesn’t play very well on the national stage.

On the upside, Brain Jean and band of merry corporatists are doing a lovely PR job, making the Energy East pipeline much less likely to happen.  Perhaps the Suzuki Foundation will give them an award or something.

 

[Source CBC.ca #1, #2]

 

 

 

With the downturn of the economy we are now facing a crisis in terms of food for those that need some extra help. In an article by the CBC:

 

The HungerCount 2015 report compiled by Food Banks Canada says 852,137 people, including 305,366 children, accessed a food bank in this country during March, a slight increase over March of last year.

and

Usage in Alberta is up by almost 83 per cent since March 2008 — right before the start of the global financial crisis — when the number of people turning to food banks was at an all-time low across the country.

While asking for increased donations is not sustainable, I think it’s time we all gave it a shot. And to that effect, let me link to this funny and informative video on how to donate to a food bank properly.

That’s right, cold hard cash. It’s easier and cost effective. And the good news is that you can even do it online!  Go to the Alberta food banks and make a donation today! You might just stop a toddler from going hungry today!

 

FOODBANK

 

 

businesscycle_1   Be it resolved – If the Private Sector is cutting jobs in a economic downturn then the Government of the day should also be cutting Public Sector.

This is my debate point.  You won’t find it anywhere in the Alberta@Noon podcast I’m about to link here.  I know most of you won’t be thrilled to hear about Alberta’s budget from the finance minister so instead, skip forward to 33:50 of the podcast when two guests, one from the Alberta Taxpayers Federation and one from the Parkland Institute are invited to respond to callers and engage in some debate.

The Alberta Taxpayers Federation (ATF) has shades of the Tea Party mixed in with neo-liberal dogmatic imperatives.  Much of their ‘research’ comes from the equally dubious Fraiser Institute, a rightwing corporate skunk-works whose only aim is the complete corporitization of civil society.  Listen as Paige from the ATF gets tripped up because her sloganeering has little to do with fact and much to do with stirring right-wing populist notions.

What I’d like to talk about is the caller ‘Mike’ and the following discussion (36:40 – 41:15).   Mike is a plummer who lost his job and had to take a lower rate of pay with his job because of the downturn.  Mike feels like a faceless drone supporting the ‘queen bee’ of that is the public sector because our recently elected provincial government stated in their platform that they would protect the frontline public workers and public services of Alberta.

Now here is the thing, Mike and other neophytes of the Free Market dogma, there is this thing called the business cycle.  When you *choose* to work in the private sector you are choosing the insecurity that comes along with ups and downs of said business cycle.  In terms of personal responsibility and making choosy-fucking-choices when the economy is good you will be doing good, and when the economy is bad, you’ll be doing bad too, generally speaking.

This is a choice.  Contrast this with the public sector though, whose wages are generally lower and tend not to increase as quickly or dramatically with the ebb and flow of the business cycle.  Public sector work therefore, is also a choice with related benefits and negative attributes.  Stability over profitability, one could say.

Mike, you don’t get to turn around and demand that the people who have chosen to make less than you in good market conditions all of a sudden should share your pain when the economy isn’t so robust.

I’m not totally against Mike and what he has to say but I don’t think he’s looking at the big picture.   Our government, for the last 41 years, has been taking a shit on basic Keynesian market prescriptions.  When times are great, we lower taxes because we want to attract more business.  When times are crap, we lower taxes to keep our businesses afloat.

Do you see the problem here?  Lowering taxes during the Boom times royally screws the government and people of Alberta.  How do we save for the economic downturns when we have lower revenue during boom times coming in; also lowering taxes during boom times increase the rate of inflation and makes the bubble expand that much quicker – recklessly endangering public health, infrastructure, and public services.   The Anti-Keynesian aphrodisiac the old Alberta PC Party snorted by the bucketful, systematically razed the economic flexibility and resiliency of the province by tying the running of the government closely to the business cycle.

Albertaatnoon    The false-populist beliefs that the ATF, represented by Paige on the podcast, are an extension of this seppuku inducing cycle that our old government perfected.  What is fascinating to behold is the scepticism over what beneficial counter-cyclical government economic policy is actually supposed to look like.  The government is supposed to spend more and take on debt to moderate the business cycle during economic slowdowns, conversely, the government must raise taxes during the high times to pay of accumulated debt and to moderate reckless growth and expansion during the boom times.

This is what moderating the business cycle is all about and why it is so important is because when you shave off the peaks and troughs, the people who make up the economy have a better chance of keeping things together and surviving in whichever phase the economy happens to be in.

This basic understanding of Keynesian market management is in the curriculum. I’ve been taught, and have taught it to students in this province.  Why we elect governments (up till recently) that don’t apply this basic economic fact boggles my mind.

 

Rachel Notley being sworn into office.

Rachel Notley being sworn into office.

First off, WE DID IT!!!!  The Notley Crew crashed a tidal wave of orange crush all across this province. They have secured a majority government and did the unthinkable – won as a progressive party in Alberta! While Arb has already posted about the victory, I want to post about the defeat. The defeat of this political dynasty that has reigned for 44 years is monumental and was largely engineered by themselves. And while power has been what has held this unholy alliance of fiscal conservatives, social conservatives and progressives together, it is the loss of this power that will destroy them.

To understand the defeat of the PCAA one should understand that they have been a big tent party from the beginning. Peter Lougheed came to power by creating the recipe for a modern petro-state. His plan to drive business and bring investment into the province brought the fiscal conservatives in droves while his plan to build hospitals, schools and infrastructure with the resulting inflow of cash, brought the progressives along. The social conservatives held strong to the Social Credit party for a time but eventually they realized they were better served by having a seat at the government’s table rather than sitting on the sidelines.

And that is the crux of what kept this party together decades upon decades. Power. And lots of it. Massive amounts. In fact, in the entire history of this dynasty they have only elected less than 50 candidates twice. In their twelve straight election victories, seven have been with a popular vote greater than 50 percent and three greater than 60 percent! Numbers like those are rare in democracies where the head of state is not called Dear Leader. While it is indeed true that this power kept the party together, it is also what tore it apart.

The thing with that much power is that it always breeds conflict on who should be controlling it. Just ask Caesar. And much like Rome, Alberta was strongest when it was held together by strong leaders, namely Lougheed and Klein. And while Lougheed managed to retire on his own terms (or at least from what I can tell), Klein most certainly did not. Once Klein announced his intent to retire before the next election in March 2006, he was already dead in the eyes of his party. He ultimately suffered a humiliating 55% on his leadership review as the sheep that were his flock revealed themselves as the wolves they really were. Klein would resign and the wolves were already fighting to see who would be the new Dear Leader.

Therein lay the problem problem that would haunt the PCAA until 2015 where their hubris would be the end of them. First came Stelmach, everyone’s second choice who made the mistake of challenging the true masters of the PCAA by trying to raise royalties on the bitumen leaving Alberta. He received his just deserts and ended up on the floor next to Klein. Next came Redford who was the choice of the progressives that didn’t stick around to prop her up. She was the personification of the corruption and arrogance the PCAA  had gained after being a multi-generational government. Watching her go down brought to mind the image of Nero playing the lyre as Rome burned.

Then finally came the nail in the coffin, Diamond Jim Prentice. Not because he was impotent like Stelmach nor an avatar of corruption like Redford, but instead because he was so effective. Winning by-elections that nobody thought he could brought him the credibility and the strong leadership the PCAA needed to finally coalesce around. It was this strong leadership that lead the PCAA down the rabbit hole that was their end. To highlight their strategy going before calling an election:

1.Blame Albertans for their mismanagement of our resources that caused us to be in a debt situation again. The fact that he also infuriated ordinary Albertans by telling them to look into the mirror and then refusing to apologize for it didn’t help facts either.

2. Infuriate the progressives by running an austerity budget that literally destroyed all the progress they made side the days of Klien.

3. Infuriate the conservatives by raising taxes everywhere.

Calling an election not only after pissing of the entirety of the Alberta populace is one thing, but waiting a few weeks to confirm that they are still pissed off and still calling the election anyway is another thing. The only people they still had rooting for them were those still feeding at the trough. Not until the polls started showing a NDP victory did the swine take a moment to raise their snouts from the slop bucket and proceeded to threaten sick children if we as Albertans dared to elect the NDP.

Well, we as Albertans elected the NDP anyway and now the covenant of power that was the PCAA is over. That which bound the disparate factions of Alberta together in darkness has been thrown into Mount Doom and cannot be reforged. There is no longer any need for the progressives to flock to the PCAA as the NDP is in power. There is no longer any need for the conservatives to rally for the PCAA as the Wildrose is the opposition. The provincial Tories are currently stuck in the middle without anyone at their side. Unless they manage to pull off what will be a literal miracle (or at least the Jesus on toast kind of miracle) and convince the Alberta electorate that they have changed for real this time and to give them one last final chance, I expect their future to reflect that of what happened to the Social Credit party way back when that political dynasty died off.

The dynasty is dead. May we never have another one.

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