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Tweet of the day

Cathie from Canada - Tue, 07/08/2014 - 14:23
CTV has a story titled Best Twitter reaction to Germany's 5 goals against Brazil but they missed this one:

This won't be the first time that thousands of Germans will have to lie low in Brazil for a while for their own safety.

— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) July 8, 2014

Of course, I'm not surprised, really....

The Harper Regime Receives Another Judicial Rebuke

Politics and its Discontents - Tue, 07/08/2014 - 12:10
Things continue to go from bad to worse on the judicial front for the Harper regime. Funny how those pesky laws get in the way of government ideology, isn't it?

Omar Khadr should be serving his time in a provincial facility and must be transferred from federal prison, the Alberta Court of Appeal ruled Tuesday.

In a blistering assessment of the Harper cabal's tactics, Dennis Edney, Khadr's longtime lawyer, said that the federal government "chose to misinterpret" the international transfer of offenders law.

"We are pleased to get Omar Khadr out of the hands of the Harper government. This is a long series of judgments against this intractable, hostile government.

"It would rather pander to politics than to apply the rule of law fairly to each and every Canadian citizen," Edney said in a statement.

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Punitive Moral Absolutism

Northern Reflections - Tue, 07/08/2014 - 06:43

I don't agree with Jonathan Kay very often. But in yesterday's National Post he wrote:

The most shocking thing about the government’s 2012 changes to the Interim Federal Health Program is that, despite its Scrooge-like spirit, they haven’t actually saved any money: The cost for treating people simply was downloaded to charities, pro bono doctors, community healthcare organizations and the provinces. It’s hard to escape the conclusion that this move was made mostly for other reasons — i.e., to show voters how tough the Conservatives are in sticking it to a politically unpopular group of medical patients.

What the changes did reveal was an extraordinarily mean spirited sense of righteousness:

If moral relativism was the defining sin of the left, its intellectual opposite — punitive, obsessive, politically cynical moral absolutism — has become the hallmark of Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.
It was punitive moral absolutism which was behind the witch burnings in Salem and the American invasion of Iraq. Mr. Harper supported the invasion of Iraq. One wonders what he would have done if he had lived in Salem.


Tuesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 07/08/2014 - 06:39
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Katrina vanden Heuvel criticizes the U.S. Democrats' move away from discussing inequality by in favour of platitudes about opportunity for the middle class. And while Matthew Yglesias may be correct in responding that the messaging change hasn't resulted in much difference in Democratic policy proposals, it's certainly significant when a political party makes the choice to take poverty and inequality off the table as a vital part of the argument for its policy consensus.

- Meanwhile, Stephen Elliott-Buckley reminds us that the 1% tends to get its way in policy debates in no small part because it exhibits solidarity often missing among other groups:
For centuries, the 1% were the nobility, the aristocrats, the old money, the patriarchy. Then Adam Smith pitched capitalism in his 1776 book Wealth of Nations, and liberated the entrepreneurs to join the blue bloods. Today, every January, corporate and government leaders from around the world – the people who literally rule the world – meet in the winter-wonderland of Davos, Switzerland, to launch the annual World Economic Forum. There, they plan the global agenda. This year’s sexy new idea was advancing “social entrepreneurialism.” That sounds so kumbaya, just like public-private partnerships, but it’s just spin for privatizing social services.

The World Economic Forum is just one of the most recent venues where the global elite show their solidarity with each other, and plan how to maximize shareholder wealth and minimize global social, economic and political equality. Beyond Davos, our rulers have also created a roadmap for undermining the democracy of nations through secret trade agreements like NAFTA, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and CETA (the Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement). These agreements are designed to give right-wing governments the excuse to deregulate industries, privatize public services, and elevate shareholders’ and investors’ “right” to profit above the needs of society.
The member groups of progressive coalitions need to find ways of connecting their individual members to better support each other. And the coalitions themselves need to support each other. I believe such an effort at deepening and broadening solidarity has, so far, been lacking. Meanwhile, the 1% are deeply well-connected, from community chambers of commerce right up to the World Trade Organization. They’re all spouting the same spin and rhetoric on their members’ behalf, while we, the 99%, can often not get past “letterhead coalitions,” a term introduced to me by Amanda Tattersall, one of the founders of the Sydney Alliance in Australia. What good is it to have a coalition when the extent of union, or faith, or community organization activity is merely a letter of support? - David Ball reports on this summer's Peoples' Social Forum - which looks like one promising effort to build connections and lay the foundation for ongoing activism.

- And in case there was much doubt there's still plenty to organize against, the CCCE lays bare its trade agenda - featuring its demand that the TPP be negotiated and implemented without public input in order to ensure closed-door "enforcement" of corporate priorities and at most "dialogue" for labour, the environment and anything else not profit-related.

- Finally, Jonathan Kay rightly criticizes the Cons' "punitive moral absolutism" when it comes to withholding needed health care from refugees. But as Emmett MacFarlane notes, the Cons always seem to find some way to sink even lower than their past precedents for callous inhumanity - and Robert Goguen did just that in lecturing a sex worker about her own gang rape.

Stories from the NB abortion clinic

Dammit Janet - Tue, 07/08/2014 - 06:36
At DAMMIT JANET! we have posted much about choice and abortion rights.  FH and I started off at _Birth Pangs_ over 7 years ago, writing about the erosion of women's reproductive choices and our human right to control every aspect of our sexualities and procreation potential.

Since founding DJ! we have expanded our feminist scrutiny to other current concerns, while offering our criticism, our support and our activism. 

But like salmon swimming against the current we are compelled to return to violence against women and reproductive choices; wife battering (as we called it then), rape, contraception and abortion were the hot-button issues in the 1970s and it would seem Plus ça change plus c'est la même chose...

There are two pieces that I posted that are fundamental to understanding - at the very least - abortion access as harm reduction.

Why a coat-hanger as a pro-choice meme?

No-choice Vulture Culture: Let women die or go to prison.

The one that I have yet to write would be a recollection of miscarriage, pregnancy and abortion.  Inspired by the courage of the New Brunswick woman who generously shared with DJ! the account below, I might do that soon.


"I found out that I was pregnant the day after Boxing Day. I was 5 days late for my period. I was NEVER late. I was also in the throes of parenting a 3-­year-­old boy. This coupled with the fact that I had been suffering from a terrible bout of depression and anxiety—a mental challenge that resulted from juggling my intensive role as a full-­time stay-­at-­home mom, while working remotely for a feminist maternal academic organization and publishing. It seems that not only had the bitter loneliness of being a stay-­at-­home mom and remote worker had gotten to me, but I had also started to ignore the strategies and activities that I had previously used to combat stress, such as running, weight lifting and yoga, started drinking more, and literally succumbed to the very notion of intensive mothering practices—the practices that I had been critiquing through graduate school and beyond.

When I peed on that stick, I instantly knew that I would have an abortion. Although I loved my son, the post-­partum period was less than ideal. You know that old saying, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’? Well, I was still searching for that village. The experience of motherhood had felt less like a village and more like a stranded island—where I had no hope of being of rescued from. I often felt very alone and had very little support (if any at all) from my family and my husband’s family lived too far away. My husband and I had decided very early on that we only wanted one child. We could deal with one. Anything above that might send me over the edge. 

I can clearly recall the sound that I made when I saw that plus sign. It was the sound of complete disappointment and sadness. My son was in the bathroom at that time. I remember my husband quickly scurrying him away as I wept on the toilet for what seemed like hours. How could I let this happen? We weren’t using birth control at the time. We were not being safe for a really long time. 

When I called the clinic, I was 6 weeks pregnant. The woman on the other end of the phone scheduled my appointment for the following Tuesday. She told me that the procedure would cost about $800. Ouch! Knowing what I knew about the public system (I spent my final year of my undergraduate degree studying public and private abortion systems in NB), I could not go through the hoops that were required for a publicly[-­funded] abortion. I was not in the mood to be possibly judged by my family doctor and being forced to endure horrendously long wait times while I continued to experience excruciating morning sickness. 

I was extremely lucky that one of my closest friends worked as a nurse at the abortion clinic. On the morning of my appointment, she picked me up in her car. I distinctly recall bursting into tears as soon as I closed the car door. I was utterly terrified. Although I knew that I needed to do this for my own mental health, I did not do well with medical situations in general. For years, I avoided medical professionals because of a debilitating case of White Coat Syndrome. I delivered my son with the assistance of midwives, so I had not seen a doctor in over 4 years! 

When we entered the clinic, I was very nervous. As I filled out the forms, I remember feeling slightly giddy and recall joking quite frequently about some of the questions on the form—perhaps a stage of denial? This stage ended promptly though, as one woman sitting across from me stood up and ran to the bathroom to vomit loudly. I had not eaten anything that morning and that was the last thing I wanted to hear as I covered my ears and hummed to myself. Sorry woman. I remember hearing an office staff member ask her if she had made arrangements for a bus ride home with Maritime Bus Service. This was not the city bus, but rather an inter-­provincial bus system. That did not sound like fun at all. I was thankful that my house was a mere 3-­minute drive away. 

When I went in for my ultrasound, the ‘vomit woman’ was getting counseled, but had to rush past us to vomit again. This is where I definitely lost it a bit. When I finally calmed down, my nurse friend continued with the ultrasound and told me that I had actually measured at 7 weeks, rather than 6. She was a little surprised that I wanted to see my fetus in the ultrasound. It was important though that I see him or her so that I knew that it was real and that my decision was real. I couldn’t think of it as just mere a mass of cells or tissue. There was a real live person growing inside of me. This could’ve been my son’s little brother or sister. This was my decision to end a life and I needed this for closure. 

After my ultrasound and counseling session (which included a dose of pain reliever and Ativan, an envelope of antibiotics, and the decision to have a copper IUD inserted immediately following the procedure), I sat and waited for the number 4 to be called, the number that was written down on a tiny yellow sticky note that was handed to me when I arrived at the clinic. As I waited, a woman with 2 children arrived and was quickly escorted to a quiet room downstairs. The fact that this woman did not have the childcare and support available during such a stressful time was profoundly sad to me. I will never ever forget the look of despair on her face. 

When my number was called, I was escorted inside to another waiting room where I was told to change into my pajamas and a robe brought from home. After I changed, I sat and waited with 2 other women—both of which were mothers themselves. One woman wasn’t ready for a second child and another woman had just suffered from a string of debilitating miscarriages and just couldn’t go through that awful experience again. We were all terrified. I recall continuously shaking my head, thinking how the heck did I get myself into this situation. I’m an educated woman. I was supposed to ‘know better’, right? 

When my time came to enter the operating room, my heart started beating a mile a minute. I remember being very light headed as I lay down on the table and placed my legs in the stirrups. When my doctor told me to scoot my bum down to the end of the table, I tried practicing my ‘yoga breathing’…breathe in through the nose, breathe out through the nose. This worked well considering I was having nitrous oxide (ahem, laughing gas) during my procedure. When I started to breathe the laughing gas in, I don’t really recall much physical discomfort or pain, I just remember the wave of emotions that I was experiencing. I don’t remember the sounds or the smells of the room, I just remember holding my friend’s hand as the tears poured down my face. I felt great despair and disappointment in myself. I felt extreme sadness for the vomiting woman who had to take the bus, for the woman with the 2 kids, and the other 2 mothers that I spoke to in the inside waiting room. But I also remember feeling extreme gratitude and love—not only for my friend who was able be there for me to hold my hand during the procedure, but for the doctor who was performing the procedure and the women that worked at the clinic. A life may have been ending on this table, but these women were saving MY life. The procedure seemed to take forever, although I know it only lasted about 5 or 10 minutes. Once completed, they performed an ultrasound to make sure that they had taken out all of the ‘tissue’ and then inserted my IUD. I remember asking if I could see that tissue, but it was already gone. 

Immediately following the procedure, I was escorted into a recovery room, where I was given juice and toast. Once the effects of the drugs wore off, I was able to go home. After picking up supplies on my way home, I arrived home to the comforting and loving faces of my husband and child. The rest of the day was spent sleeping and recovering. Although the literature given to me stated that some women often felt well enough to return to work immediately following this procedure, I did not. I needed the time to decompress and digest the experience. 

The days, weeks and months following the procedure were tremendously challenging for me. I felt that I went through a very serious and emotionally painful experience and that many people just didn’t understand. I was just supposed to ‘go back to my normal life’ and act like nothing happened. I was supposed to take care of my son and get back to work, but I found this particularly hard. The mere sound of my son crying often sent me over the edge and I often felt incompetent as a mother and scared to be alone with him. I found great comfort though in speaking with various women friends and having them confide in me that they went through the experience of abortion—many of them living in complete silence because they feared that they would be ostracized for their decision. My depression and anxiety peaked around month two, likely caused by an imbalance of hormones. I also began the initial stages of co-­editing a collection of stories on reproductive loss at this time. Reading through the research, I learned a great deal about the culture of silence that permeates society, not only with abortion, but with miscarriage and stillbirth as well. 

It has now been 6 months since my abortion. I would’ve been approximately 7 months pregnant right now. Although I don’t regret my decision, there will always be a ‘what if’ in the back of my head. Honestly though, I think that the ‘what if’ is less of me romanticizing the notion of having another child, and more of me imagining my life and emotions spiraling even further out of control. Following the peak of my anxiety and depression, I decided to begin antidepressants and talk therapy. This, coupled with the decision to put my son in full-­time childcare and to completely give up drinking, has allowed me to come to a point of recovery, acceptance and self-­forgiveness. No one will really know the complete and utter darkness that lived inside of me at that 2-­month mark or even in the years prior to that. And no one ever will. But one thing I can say for certain is that I am serious about the fact that the women at that clinic saved my life. And for that, I am eternally grateful. 

Since I started my journey of recovery, I started a daily yoga practice, which included participation in an energy exchange program where I volunteer my services in exchange for free yoga. I recently watched a documentary on yoga and one of the speakers talked about the whole notion of karma. They discussed how karma wasn’t merely just this traditional idea that you do good things and good things come back to you. But it was more of finding and working through your weaknesses and using those experiences to give back—it’s an action of selfless service. For example, if you are a drug addict, once you recover, you should use that experience of recovery to help others in the same situation. This really resonated with me. And this is why I have decided to tell this story. Not only do I want to tell my story because I feel that it is an important one to tell, but I want to be able to help other women that may be going through a similar experience. I want them to know that it is okay to grieve or not. It is okay to be disappointed in yourself or be depressed, just the same as it’s okay to think that it was merely a mistake and move on with life. Your experience is YOUR experience and it’s OKAY! 

What’s not okay? This culture of silence! I realize that a woman’s abortion experience is purely her own and it is her decision to share it as she wishes. But if she decides to share that experience and needs to do so, she should have the full support required and not feel judged for her decision. And she also needs full and free access to abortion services, both from the point of entry and beyond. 

The fact that the Morgentaler Clinic is closing next month is a tremendous shame for our province. It’s tremendously disgraceful that New Brunswick does not cover the cost of private abortions, while completely ignoring the basic human rights of its citizens. I fear that following the closure of our private clinic; we will not only see a rise in maternal mental health issues, but also rates of suicide. That is why it is important that we break the silence of abortion experience. Not only will this allow us to analyze and deconstruct traditional discourses of pregnancy loss, but it might help us to crush the barriers to access by normalizing the experience and informing the general public that, statistically speaking, the 1 in 3 women who require an abortion at some point in their lives might just be their sister, their neighbor, their mother, their friend, or their coworker. The woman might need that abortion because she didn’t use birth control or perhaps her birth control failed? She might be poor or rich. She might be a teenager or in their 30s (like me). She might experience mental or physical health issues, or she might be the happiest and healthiest person around. The fact though that she WANTS and NEEDS an abortion should be the ONLY reason she needs to justify having an abortion. Let’s normalize this reason. It is really the only way that we can ultimately move forward and push for much-­needed changes within our health-­care system. I’ll go first: my name is Angela Deveau and I HAVE HAD AN ABORTION! If you need to talk about it, please feel free to do so. I am available to listen—unabashedly and with loving and judgment-­free support! 

*Note: I am forever grateful for those friends and family in my life that provided the greatest support when I sought treatment for my depression last spring. I don’t need to name names, you know who you are! xoxox


FH has recently done much heavy lifting with regard to healthcare-provided reproductive choices for women in New Brunswick. Here are those blog posts:

Not-so-gentle news from the East.
Kansas? Louisiana? Nope. New Brunswick refers patients to religious counsellors.

Feminism: This is how it's done now

Healthcare: Unequal Access is UnCanadian.

Canada's 'Newspaper Of Record' Further Debases Itself

Politics and its Discontents - Tue, 07/08/2014 - 06:19

Currently, The Globe and Mail, the hubristically self-proclaimed newspaper of record and Canada's national newspaper, is embroiled in an ugly labour dispute with its workers.

In a statement issued last week, Unifor, the union representing the workers,

recommended members reject the company’s offer because it would weaken job security, reduce base pay for advertising sales staff and require certain newsroom staff to work on “advertorial” articles paid for by advertisers.

The later concept forms the crux of this post. As explained by Wikipedia, an advertorial is an advertisement in the form of editorial content. The term "advertorial" is a blend of the words "advertisement" and "editorial."

Advertorials differ from traditional advertisements in that they are designed to look like the articles that appear in the publication.

For an excellent examination of this sad devolution in journalism, take a look at Alison's post the other day, with links to a variety of examples that amply demonstrate their insidious nature.

But the Trojan Horse of propaganda can take many forms, not all of which are obvious. Take, for example, an article appearing in yesterday's Globe, purportedly written by Mike Harris, arguably the worst and most divisive premier that Ontario has ever seen. Bearing all the earmarks of a public relations offensive carefully crafted by one of the many arms of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), the piece, entitled Work together on Gateway, for prosperity’s sake, is eerily reminiscent of the advertorial written recently by Martha Hall Findlay, who, with a straight face, conflated the Northern Gateway with national-building.

And, like Findlay's, the Harris advertorial is clearly written with the assumption that the public is infinitely malleable and has a collective memory that is virtually non-existent.

Consider the first paragraph:

Canada is a resource nation. In every region, its natural resource sectors, including mining, forestry, energy and oil and gas, support vital social programs and provide stable, well-paying jobs.

Despite the fact that it evokes a nineteenth-century version of Canada as drawers of wood and hewers of water, it equates resource development with things most Canadians consider vital: jobs and social programs (the latter despite the egregious contempt Harris showed for the concept during his tenure as Premier).

The next part is even more redolent of the kind of revisionism the right-wing is addicted to:

Consider, as just one example, the Northern Gateway pipeline, recently approved by the federal government. Since being proposed more than a decade ago, the project’s journey hasn’t always been easy. It has faced tough criticism. But thoughtful debate has taken place and ideas have been exchanged that have resulted in a better pipeline proposal.

As a former premier, I know first-hand the experience of fighting for economic development for your province and its people, but not to the detriment of local communities and the environment. Receiving social licence for resource projects must be the leading objective for proponents; public input and consultations are paramount.

Yet another bald-faced lie, which this link will amply attest to.

The rest of Harris's encomium for 'prudent and thoughtful' development goes on in a similar vein, and to parse it in detail would make this post far too long. But I hope you will check it out for yourselves; as both an indictment of contemporary journalistic standards at the Globe and as a skillfully wrought propaganda piece that demonstrates what money will buy these days, it is a peerless example.

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