Thursday, October 19, 2006

I love Stitch and Bitchers, I swear!

To all the crafty dykes out there -- I didn't write the headline for my latest column in Capital Xtra! I think you are all marvelous. You actually have useful skills -- you can build and make things. I can write and think about things. Maybe we could form a global movement of crafty and un-crafty feminists banding together to kick this Conservative government's ass.

And speaking of ass, I just above threw my alarm clock clear across my bedroom at 7:00 this morning, when I woke up to a sound bite from Stephen Harper's speech at a B'nai Brith event. In introducing the PM, Frank Diamant said something like "the Prime Minister is like a gift from the almighty."

To my wonderful Jewish reliatives and friends. DON'T FALL FOR IT. I know that Harper is professing a love of Israel, but that doesn't exonerate him from trampling over all sorts of minority groups in Canada. And besides, the end-day fundamentalists are convinced that we are all going to hell anyway -- Jews, queers, pretty much anyone who hasn't been "saved."

But more on that later ...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Targets, not talks, vital on emissions

A shout-out to my brother Charles, who has this letter published in the Toronto Star yesterday.

Targets, not talks, vital on emissions
Re: Editorial, Oct. 11.

This editorial discusses Prime Minister Stephen Harper's plans to "reduce emissions of both greenhouse gases and smog-producing pollutants." While it is heartening to hear Harper's government even acknowledge the environment, we have to be careful not to conflate smog and global warming. The same vehicles may contribute to both, but when it comes to improving the technology, these are two entirely different beasts.

Most smog-causing emissions are accidental by-products of burning fossil fuels. These emissions can be reduced by making comparatively minor changes in a vehicle's design, and this can have a noticeable effect on local air quality. However, greenhouse emissions are fundamentally required for a combustion engine to function, and their effects can only be seen on a global scale. Reducing CO2 emissions from a vehicle means redesigning the entire technology to burn less fuel in the first place — a much more expensive feat — or doing away with fossil fuels altogether.

The latter case might bring up fanciful dreams of electric or hydrogen-powered cars that produce no greenhouse emissions at all. Unfortunately, all the energy used to power the car or create the hydrogen fuel will have to come from somewhere, and it won't be stored very efficiently. What's the use in cutting tailpipe CO2 emissions when the same amount (or more) is emitted at a power plant nearby? The atmosphere doesn't particularly care where greenhouse gases are coming from — the whole world inherits the consequences.

Effective global warming strategies must take a "life-cycle" approach that tracks which actions produce real global emission reductions.

For all its flaws, the Kyoto accord was meant as a way to agree on co-ordinated action that would ensure greenhouse reductions actually happen.

Independent regulations on separate industries in individual countries will never be able to guarantee greenhouse gas reductions — they may only give the fiddlers a tune to play while the planet burns.

Charles Troster, Vancouver, B.C.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Oda and Harper to get a REAL-ity check

ODA AND HARPER TO GET A REAL-ITY CHECK:

Website to combat inaccuracies and indifference towards Status Of Women Canada

HALIFAX/OTTAWA, October 11, 2006 – A new website launches today to rally support for Status of Women Canada (SWC) and related issues.Statusreport.ca will house objective information about the federal agency, along with tools and motivation for people to lobby the federal government to revisit changes made to the agency's funding and objectives. Nine months after committing to take concrete and immediate steps to increase women's equality in Canada, the Harper administration has slashed 40 per cent of SWC’s administrative budget, removed all references to “equality” from SWC’s mandate, and changed rules in order to disallow groups from doing advocacy or lobbying with federal funds.

"The Harper Conservatives are clearly out of touch with reality,” stated site co-founder Audra Williams, "Oda and Harper have 16 million female constituents whose equality and rights they are obligated to ensure."

“They try to paint women’s groups who speak out on this issue as victimized or partisan,” said Pam Kapoor, site co-founder, “To counter that kind of ludicrous spin, we’ve set up this independent space where anyone who cares about women’s equality can participate in the project to protect SWC.”

Williams and Kapoor condemn Conservative messaging labeling advocates of women’s equality as focused on women’s weaknesses: “Enough with their convenient dismissals,” said Williams, “Sustained commitment to women’s equality requires tremendous strength – especially nowadays, given the onslaught of inaccurate rhetoric from the right.”

Statusreport.ca is non-partisan, unaffiliated with any women’s organization or political party. Williams and Kapoor, with an ad-hoc group of creative women, are dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of SWC and the role it should continue to play in the struggle for women’s full equality in Canada.

Audra Williams and Pam Kapoor arecommunications consultants based in Halifax and Gatineau, respectively.For information: contact@statusreport.ca

Monday, October 02, 2006

Actions against Conservative cuts

When I posted last week about the loss of the Court Challenges program, I neglected to include a complete list of all of the things that were slashed. Here it is. Other programs that were either slashed or eliminated, include the Law Commission of Canada, Status of Women Canada, funding for adult literacy, and for aboriginal health programs.

The Disabled Women's Network has posted an online action demanding the return of Court Challenges. You can find it here.

One of the organizations that will be the most affected by the loss of Court Challenges is Egale Canada. Click here to donate to Egale -- the organization is going to have to scrape together a lot of cash to fight Harper's government in court over the next while.

And a breath of sanity from the amazing Linda McQuaig, who has always been able to put debt hysteria into perspective and remind us about what governments are supposed to do: use our tax dollars to fund programs that improve people's lives.