Thursday, December 21, 2006

Censorship scares me more than anti-choice nuts

At least, that's the title I would have chose for this column. But instead, my dear friend/editor made it sound like I'm terrified of student activists. Sigh ...

But I do expect some letters from the pro-choice activists from Carleton who sponsored the anti-anti-choice motion on campus. In fact, I would love to debate this issue with y'all.

The key point that I was trying to make in this column is that censorship is an idea that always comes back to bite our community in the ass. While the Carleton activists' hearts were in the right place, I believe that the action they took was the wrong one.

Okay, discuss.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Rebick withdraws any support for May

Judy Rebick just posted this statement on, withdrawing any support for Elizabeth May, based on her recent statements on abortion.

Thanks Judy. Your book Ten Thousand Roses helped remind me of the battles that you and your sisters won, so my generation could have the right to choose. We have been lulled into complacency and so many of us haven't had to take the personal risks that you took when fighting hard on this issue. We might have to start chaining ourselves to things again ... expect phone calls asking for tactical advice!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Keeping the Liberals honest

A lot of people have asked me what I think of Stephane Dion, and I've kind of been at a loss for words. I loved the underdog nature of the Liberal leadership vote. I'll admit that Dion's backpack and stated support for environmentalism and social justice are very appealing. And all of my favourite men are of the nerdy variety.

But Dion's charm doesn't give the Liberals a pass for all of the boneheaded decisions they've made over the years. And Dion certainly has some past decisions to account for (including his inaction on the environment, despite the fact that he named his dog Kyoto). I'll throw to my friend Stu for his take on Dion's record. Also check out his column on Smart Regulation, and the stealth takeover of Environment Canada (from Nov. 2005).

But once again, Murray Dobbin has proved to be one of the most astute political writers in Canada. He argues here that the only way that Dion will be able to push a truly left-wing agenda through Parliament is if the NDP holds the balance of power in a minority government. According to Dobbin, "If Dion wins a majority, the full weight of the corporate media, Bay Street, the right wing bureaucracy and the conservatives in his caucus will grind down whatever is good in Stephane Dion."

Still, Dobbin reserves some of his harshest criticism for the NDP, which doesn't seem to understand that vilifying Dion as a "corrupt backroom Liberal" is just not going to work for them. My friends and I were doubled over laughing at the email that the NDP sent out after Dion was elected. It read like total sour grapes, and just the WRONG way to woo back potential NDP voters. Audra Williams excerpts it here. And this is what Dobbin has to say:

The party's delusional notion that the Liberals are going to voluntarily disappear can now, thankfully, be put to rest. The NDP needs to engage the public by campaigning on keeping the Liberals honest. They will give Dion the support -- critical, to be sure -- he needs to fight off the reactionary forces that will naturally align against him.
Can I please have the NDP that used to stand for something back? Please?!?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Elizabeth May responds

For those who have been following the story about Elizabeth May's recent ridiculous comments about abortion, here's a link to where she responds to some of the criticism of her position. While I am relieved to hear her clarify that she is in fact pro-choice, I think that her new statement belies the same kind of paternalism as her previous ones. She says, "Obviously, no woman facing an unwanted pregnancy takes the issue of a possible abortion lightly. It is always a very difficult, emotionally charged choice."

I don't agree. By suggesting that abortion is always a horrible decision, she is playing into the Christian Right's notion that abortion leads to emotional trauma and regret. That's why I find the "I had an abortion" movement so powerful. It's all about women speaking the truth about their experiences with abortion -- whether they were traumatic or -- gasp -- joyful.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Dispatch from New York

I just got an amazing email from my cousin Rachel, who is attending the Conservative Jewish seminary in New York, and has been fighting hard from the inside to stand up for gay and lesbian rights. I am so proud of her I could burst. Here's her perspective on this week's ruling:

This has been quite a week in New York. The Conservative Movement finally passed a positive ruling on being gay or lesbian (and,because pluralism is our hallmark, also managed to pass a contradictory ruling affirming the status quo at the same time. sigh).

The ruling we passed was not ideal---I would never lie and say it is (I was hoping for a much more open and more intellectually honest one that got sidelined on politically motivated procedural grounds, which was by Rabbi Gordon Tucker and which was just brilliant and honest and daring).

However, given that even this ruling allows friends of mine to attend rabbinical school without having to go into the closet and will allow those rabbis who waiting for a ruling to do commitment ceremonies/same sex weddings (some of us have been doing them already) to do them, it is a big step. And in 5-10 years, we'll just have to pass a better ruling.

I've spent the last week in an activist flurry. The student group I have been active in (Keshet) did a media training last week, and so we were prepared with a press conference of our own. I'm excited--disappointed in some ways--but feeling like some steps towards doing God's work were done. It's about time. Some people are predicting this will cause the world to come to an end, but I really just don't think the actions of a million Conservative Jews matter that much to the apocalypse I don't believe in :)

I do think our actions are important to mainline Protestant groups, who are dealing with the same issues.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Note to activists: the fight has just begun ...

Oh good, at least the marriage thing should be over with for now. But the Harper government is still up to some really scary stuff, so please don't retreat behind white picket fences in the suburbs ...

Conservative Jews Allow Gay Rabbis and Unions

This is such an exciting victory for the progressive Jews who have been fighting for the ordination of gay and lesbian rabbis, and the celebration of Jewish queer unions. I am proud to say that my Uncle, Rabbi Lawrence Troster, was heavily involved in the fight to ordain women in the 1970s, and his daughter Rachel Kahn Troster (now a rabbinical student) has been involved in the fight to embrace gay and lesbian rights within Conservative Judaism.

This totally flies in the face of right-wing fundamentalists that want to paint all religious groups with the same homophobic brush. Just FYI, "Conservative Judaism is considered the centrist movement in Judaism, wedged between the liberal Reform and Reconstructionist movements, which have accepted an openly gay clergy for more than 10 years, and the more traditional Orthodox, which rejects it."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Same Sex Thursday

The MPs are debating Harper's idiotic motion to "re-open the definition of marriage" right now on CPAC (here).

And I think that Rick Mercer is my CBC crush for today. He published this fabulous thing on his blog. My favourite quote:
Sure the Charter looks nice hanging on a wall but the fact is it grants far too many rights that are contrary to the deeply held personal views of many chubby white guys.

Remember, mourn, fight for change

I was going to write a really long and reflective post about today, Dec. 6, the anniversary of the Polytechnique Massacre. But Gina Whitfield did such a stellar job in the Tyee.

I was 10 years old when this horrific event occurred, but I remember it strongly. I was already a self-identified feminist by that age, and it shook me to the core that a killer would single out women like that ... sadly, male violence against women still hasn't gone away. This makes me even more furious that the Conservative government actually removed the word "equality" from the mandate of Status of Women Canada.

The amazing women at Status Report are tracking this government's actions against women, and providing an information source/meeting place for people who want to join the fight.

Take that Fraser Institute!

People in highly taxed countries better off: report
Last Updated: Wednesday, December 6, 2006 12:44 PM ET
CBC News

People who live in countries with higher taxes enjoy lower rates of poverty, have more equal income distribution, more economic security for workers and can expect to live longer, suggests a new study from a left-leaning think tank.

Check it.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Big oil and big ass

This made my morning ... although it would be nice if discussion about "big ass" focused on repealing the discriminatory age of consent law that governs anal sex -- which I wrote about here.

Layton rose in the Commons today to attack the government over subsidies to big oil companies. But he tripped over his tongue and instead asked Prime Minister Stephen Harper if he would finally cancel subsidies to "big oil and big ass." Layton meant to say "big gas."

The slip of the tongue brought laughter from all sides of the House. Harper jokingly answered that he would "get to the bottom of it."

Monday, December 04, 2006

Fight Harper's anti-woman policies

A call-out from some amazing feminist groups:


“If women in Canada feel their rights have been violated, they can pick up the phone and call”
-- Conservative Minister responsible for the Status of Women, Bev Oda.

Stephen Harper believes equality is no longer a concern for women in Canada. Harper’s Government has cut funding for women’s equality, cut access to justice, even cut “equality” as an official goal of the government. The Harper government is denying reality.

  • In 2003, women with post-secondary degrees earned 68.9% of what their male counterparts earned for full-time, full-year work.
  • Half of women will experience criminal violence by men in their homes, communities,
    workplaces and schools in their lifetime.


Tell Stephen Harper why equality still matters:

  • If you are a parent, do you have access to affordable, quality child-care?
  • Have you, or someone you love, been physically or sexually abused or harassed? Did
    you/they get the support needed?
  • If your rights were violated in your workplace, is there a process in place for you to address your concerns?
  • Are there barriers to advancing your career or getting ahead in your workplace because you’re a woman?

Tell the Prime Minister: “the government must invest in equality rights for ALL women
in Canada”


For more information on the December 10th campaign, click here.

How much do I love Heather Mallick?

We've all been paralyzed in the presence of a racist before ... check out Heather Mallick's advice on what do to in these situations ...

I think she's my new CBC crush.

Friday, December 01, 2006

More from Elizabeth May on abortion

I'm going to throw it to Audra Williams for this one ...

But allow me to quote Ms. May directly, from a candidates' debate held during the London by election:

So if one group of people say, "A woman has a right to choose", I get queasy, because I'm against abortion. I don't think a woman has a frivolous right to choose. What I don't want is a desperate woman to die in an illegal abortion. But I also don't think it's right to say - Well, you see, you end up
having this conflict.

What I'd like to do in politics - and I've talked about this in some other settings besides here today, because this is the first time it's come up in London North Centre - what I'd like to do in politics is to be able to create the space to say, "Abortions are legal because they must be to avoid women dying. But nobody in their right mind is for abortions."

No, Elizabeth. Abortions need to be legal, because a woman should have the right to make choices about her body for ANY reason. There are lots of people "in their right minds" who are for abortion. I'm one of them. Sometimes women are in grave medical distress, and need an abortion for that reason. Other women simply don't want to go through with a pregnancy. Some of them have been raped, and others participated in joyful, consensual sex. Either way, we get to choose whether or not to terminate a pregnancy. That's the point.