10.31.2011

CBC 650% better than SUN News Network

Take that Sun News Network
CBC ad in Globe and Mail





See Dammit Janet for more...

Three Day Holiday for School Bully

Out gay student gets beaten by another student in Ohio. Luckily for the young out gay boy someone did get it on video.  The attack portions of the video have been blurred to protect the identity of the boy who was attacked.



In this video a boy is attacked.  The boy's mother believes it is a hate crime.  Her son is out in school as gay. The bully in this case was suspended for three days.  Three days for beating up another student. Even if this were not motivated by hate toward someone because of their sexuality, suspending someone for three days for this premeditated attack is nothing.  The bully planned this attack, he did not let up.  He intended to inflict pain and harm.

This looks to be another example of schools not taking bullying seriously.  The bully will be seen as a hero upon his return to school after a three day 'holiday'.

Ohio state law requires school districts so have a policy that prohibits harassment, intimidation or bullying; however, the law does not include sexuality.  It makes me think back to the Canadian Conservatives, 'it gets better' video.  Unless we have meaningful action by governments queer kids and those thought to be queer will continue to suffer and some of them will take the only way out they know of, just as Jamie Hubley did.

See story at Chicago Pride

If the Conservatives really feel it SHOULD get better

I was waiting to give the Harper Conservatives a pat on the back for making the "'it gets better' video. I would like too - I can't.  There is nothing in it.  In fact other than their token almost out gay dude, the rest all voted to reopen the debate on same-sex marriage in this country.  One of them, David Sweet, in the past, has said some pretty homophobic things.



The video is an attempt to have it both ways.  They're not being upfront with anyone. To their conservative base they say, its just a video and all we said was it gets better.  To young gay folks that's all they say, without conviction, with histories that tell us different, you get the idea they crossed their fingers behind their backs.

If the Conservatives really feel it SHOULD get better, they could start by passing the NDP private members Bill on Trans equality.  Its the right thing to do. It will also send a clear message to Queer kids and others that It Does Get Better.

I am waiting and so are many young queer kids...


No Debate, No Fuss

Prime Minister Stephen Harper can pass any legislation he wants.  The only trouble he can get into is if public opinion rises in opposition. To limit the chances of the public getting that mad at him, Harper has used closure seven times to end debate in parliament on legislation, including the Wheat Board and the Gun Registry. I expect few governments have used closure so often, so early in their government.

Another tactic the Harper conservatives are using is in committees.  These committees are meant to study legislation, hear from witnesses and to possibly modify bills due to unforeseen problems or consequences not intended by the legislation.  The Harper government is using its majority to actually prevent the study of bills. One less chance that the public will have to see what the legislation would mean to them when passed.

From the Globe and Mail today...

The Conservatives on the Commons veterans affairs committee have halted a study that was forced upon them by the opposition into the trimming of hundreds of millions of dollars from the department that provides services and benefits to former soldiers.
As a result, the public won’t hear from veterans or the veterans ombudsman about the cuts, Liberal MP Sean Casey told a news conference on Thursday. “It is a gross abuse of the public trust,” he said. “And yet these same Conservatives wrap themselves in the flag while cutting funding to the Veterans Affairs department.”

10.27.2011

Letter to a Nation - Raffi sings Jack Layton's Last Letter

Raffi, one of Canada's most famous and renown Children's singer, entertainer and advocate has put Jack Layton's letter to Canadians to music.  His song is available for free download as is the music.

Here is a link to the song...  Letter to a Nation

This from the Center for Child Honouring website...
Like so many Canadians across the country and across party lines, west coast singer/ songwriter Raffi was deeply saddened by the recent loss of NDP leader Jack Layton.
Raffi
“In his last letter to Canadians, Jack Layton expressed a spirit of cooperation and positivity that resonated strongly with me and with many Canadians. This message was so widely shared immediately after his passing, I wanted to capture its wisdom in song to help us remember,” says Raffi, who in recent years has written songs inspired by the likes of Nelson Mandela, Jane Goodall, and the Dalai Lama. 
“Layton’s last words gave Canada a historic moment. His message of love, hope, and optimism transcend politics—these are enduring values for young and old to embrace.”
Raffi recorded “Letter To A Nation” on Salt Spring Island where he lives, after sharing the song demo with Olivia Chow (Layton’s wife) who gave the song her blessing and expressed her support for its sharing.
Jack, Olivia and Grand daughter
"This song really touched me, as I'm sure it will touch countless people.  Jack believed so deeply in the ability of young people to change the world. I hope today's children are as inspired by this song and by Jack's legacy."Olivia Chow, MP 
Link to Jack's Letter to Canadians


7th BC Gay Men’s Health Summit Health & Sexual Rights


Hey boys, if you are in Vancouver or planning to be there next week, take this in.  No one does it better!  This organization has done great work for Gay men's health issues over the last decade.

7th BC Gay Men’s Health Summit Health & Sexual Rights
 
Thursday November 3 & Friday November 4, 2011
Harbour Centre, Simon Fraser University
515 West Hastings Street, Vancouver

Program Highlights
  • Agokwe, a 2-spirit play performed by Ojibwa artist Waawaate Fobister. Showtime Thursday Nov 3, 2011; 3pm SFU Harbour Centre (downtown)
  • Ilan Meyer, The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law: Minority Stress and the Health of Sexual Minorities
  • Cindy Patton, Simon Fraser University: Rights Language & HIV Treatment
  • Barry Adam, University of Windsor: Fault Lines in HIV Prevention
  • Terry Trussler, CBRC: Anti-gay Bullying, Mental Health & Sex Wars
  • Michael Harris, Vancouver writer: Walrus Magazine cover story Life After Death

Click here to see Summit Program 2011.Please register online.The BC Gay Men’s Health Summit is a project of the Community Based Research Centre (CBRC). In collaboration with the Health Initiative for Men & BC Centre for Disease Control.

community donations.

Harper can't beat them, so he fired them...

Former Liberal MP, Glen Pearson, has compiled a list of those Stephen Harper couldn't beat so he fired them.

Glen Pearson - Former MP

Beating ‘Em In The Alley

Hockey legend Conn Smythe was by all accounts a fierce competitor. His most famous quote was characteristically blunt: “If you can’t beat them on the ice, you can’t beat them in the alley.” I wonder what he’d think about what’s going on in the House of Commons this month?

The Harper government has opted to avoid the typical democratic battles normally played out in the Commons and has opted for a more brutal game plan that feels more comfortable in the alley than on the traditional playing surface.

To read more got to Glen's blog for the list

Rob 'Fucking' Ford

So Rob effing Ford called 911 and called the dispatchers bitches. He did!  Then he said "Don't you know, I'm the fucking Mayor".  Way way too funny, how's that working for your approval rating Rob?

My favourite tweet on this is this one...


Toronto's Mayor has become very entertaining.  I wasn't expecting that from him.  After all this I wonder what would have happened had he actually gone along with This Hour Has 22 Minutes and the Warrior Princess. You just have to know you are going to get into deeper piles of sh-- if you don't.

10.26.2011

A Plan for Cities in Canada

Finally we get to see some policy stuff roll out from leadership hopefuls.  Jack Layton championed this as head of the Canadian Federation of Municipalities and as NDP leader  The text below is from Paul Dewar, NDP leadership candidate, his plan for Urban Canada.  

At first blush, I don't see other leadership hopefuls having any problem embracing this platform for their own.


-Ensure a seat at the table for municipalities in federal/provincial/territorial negotiations dealing with their interests. That means all governments sitting down and working together at the same table when their interests intersect and the problem at hand needs all hands on deck. Jurisdictional sensitivities must not be an excuse for inaction. Canadians expect more.
-Bring all levels of government, Aboriginal communities, and civil society together to develop a National Housing Strategy with timelines, targets, review mechanisms and above all funding to enable Canada to meet its obligation to ensure affordable, adequate housing for all.
-Begin work immediately with its provincial, territorial, and municipal partners to develop a long-term infrastructure investment strategy to replace the Building Canada Plan when it expires in 2014 (there is currently a $123 billion municipal infrastructure deficit).
-Devote, permanently, the equivalent of another cent of the gas tax to predictable, stable funding for urban infrastructure – and adopt a National Transit Strategy to bolster transit investment.
-Support urban workers – contracted, free-lance, part-time and self-employed workers in cities have no pensions, benefits or fallback. We need to make sure federal income support like EI and CPP are geared to the realities of non-traditional work.
-Invest in renewable energy for urban settings, with a focus on supporting community-driven, cooperatively owned small-scale green projects.
-Establish and fund a Canada-wide childcare and early learning program

Taxes, Pensions and Health care

More than half of Canadians do not have money saved up for a rainy day according to the Royal Bank (RBC).  What is rainy day money?  Since I was a kid people told me you had to have at least three months salary in the bank in case of an emergency.  You know, things like your car's transmission going clunk, losing your job, your roof leaking beyond the ability for a patch, your rental gets converted to condo and you need two months rent to move, getting sick, or someone you know is sick in hospital across the country.

Those were the things you had to plan for in the past.  Today its worse.  We have been eating into our saving due to the tough times.  Wages are not rising, the US isn't buying, and Canadian manufacturing companies have been laying people off.  The federal government is in the process of laying off thousands of workers, all of which will mean a loss of spending by these laid off workers, affecting many small businesses especially in small communities.

Canadians are not saving for retirement either. In fact if you look at who has money in RRSP's its not working people.  Eighty percent of stocks and bonds held in Canada are held by ten percent of the population.  That same ten percent hold fifty percent of RRSP contributions.  That means the bottom ninety percent of Canadians hold the other half of RRSP contributions.  Without saving their retirement will be very sketchy.  That will lead to more problems for the Government as our population ages and they can't afford to look after themselves.

Solutions have been made to address this growing problem.  One that comes up regularly is doubling CPP contributions over the next few years.  The NDP have been calling for this initiative for several years now. If enacted we would see a huge decrease in poverty for those that are retiring.  CPP contribution increases would address the issue of a lack of savings for retirement.  It would still be advisable for people to save what they can, still poverty would be avoided.

The proposed CPP increase has been the target of groups representing small business and the Federal Conservative government.  They see it as an unfair burden on business.  It will add costs to business and workers but isn't it worth it in the end if most Canadians can have a decent retirement? Wouldn't it help alleviate some government expenditures in the future? Of course it would.

Over the last thirty years we have seen an effort by Conservative and Liberal governments bent on lowering taxes.  The philosophy suggests that government doesn't need the money and you can do better on your own. The result of this policy is that government then lacks the resources needed to provide vital services.  We see cuts to education, health care and other social programs.

As governments cut taxes they usually cut programs.  Then they point out in the new budget, social program spending now amounts to a higher percentage of the budget. This has happened to health care spending for at least twenty years.  The provinces point to health care spending taking forty-six percent of the budget, when it was forty percent a few years earlier.  What you and I don't get told is that the Federal government use to pay fifty percent of health costs.  Today that number is closer to sixteen percent.  Provinces then have to use more of their revenue for health care.  That means cutting other government programs and or cutting health care services.

In the end we are told that the system is too expensive, we close operating rooms, we privatize seniors homes, we pass more costs back to seniors paying to be cared for in these homes.  We reduce or don't enforce health and safety standards. Seniors are left to fend for themselves. Hopefully they have family or a friend to help.

We are told that the private sector could do a better job. While closing operating rooms in public hospitals or limiting their use, the private sector sets up assembly line care, ie clinics that do nothing but hip or cataract surgery.  They roll them through one after another. Usually these surgeries are routine, not difficult.  That leaves the more costly surgery for the public system, so the overall average of the cost of operations per surgery goes up and gets compared to a private facility.  The private sector is better they say.

The reason governments are looking to private services is that we don't fund our hospitals to do the surgeries, we don't calculate the after cost which should be borne by the private facility but is most usually borne by the public system.

In the end we are squeezing health care to allow government to cut taxes. The government then does not have the ability to address these needs. Cut back more we're told. Privatize we're told. All studies continue to show as a percentage of our GDP Health care costs are manageable. We just have a different set of priorities.  Priorities that focus on cutting taxes for business.  As we continue to do this, business is sitting on hundreds of billions of dollars in cash.  They're not reinvesting their tax savings.

The reason people are told we must cut taxes is to be competitive, to encourage business to reinvest. If you look to Canadian taxes today or over the last twenty years, we are lower than our competitors by a wide margin. Businesses are not reinvesting.  So what is it we are getting for these tax cuts.  Were seeing the gap between the wealthy and working Canadians grow extraordinarily.  Canadians do not have the funds to save for retirement nor do they have the money to fix their car if it breaks down. Our middle class is being squeezed.

If you want to know why Occupy movement is growing, I have outlined above part of the reason. People are not confident, people are doing with less while a small percentage reap the benefits of our governments economic policies.  Public health care is constantly under threat. Public services are reduced. Cities in Canada need 123 billion dollars to address ageing infrastructure.  Roads, sewers, transit, schools all need major retrofits or replacement. Disposing of garbage becomes an ever increasing burden, yet our cities are unable to get the funds to deal with them. We deal with things largely on an urgency basis.    

Sailor stares down Riot Police

What has The USA come too when a sailor has to stare down riot Police

Sailor stares down riot police during Occupy Oakland, October 25, 2011

Check out twitter at #occupyoakland for latest news, video and pictures of the attacks on peaceful demonstrators in Oakland.

America condemns leaders in other countries for cracking down on demonstrators yet here at home politicians use riot police and tear gas, sound cannons, to break up peaceful gatherings because they don't like the message.

You can  help by doing any or all of these things - Join, offer assistance, food, batteries for phones, flashlights, bedding, warm clothes, email friends about what is happening.

10.25.2011

Rural beats Urban in Long Gun

The long gun registry is soon to be history in Canada as Harper finally decides to bring legislation forward to end the gift that keeps on giving.  If you are a conservative supporter, expect to receive a request for a big donation.  That request is likely in the mail.  Its intended to reach you before the law is passed by Harper's majority.

Nothing has filled the coffers of the conservative party more than their promise to scrap the long gun registry. The old reform folks were started on western alienation and the growing debt. Paul Martin took away the issue of the debt in the 1990's.  The primary issue since then has been the long gun registry.

Most Canadians live in cities. These Canadians want the registry.  The Conservatives don't have city MP's for the most part.  Our electoral system favours rural communities over urban areas.  Rural riding votes tend to count more than city ridings.  Many city ridings are over 100,000 people while ridings in Saskatchewan come in around 53,000.  Saskatchewan has only one real city riding, in Regina.  The City of Saskatoon, the Province's largest city, is part of three ridings.  Each of the three ridings is approximately half rural.  The city does not have a city riding which makes it very unique for cities in Canada.  The result is a dilution of city representation.

Right across the country the Conservatives have swept rural ridings with the exception of Northern Ontario and Quebec.  These ridings have anywhere from a 10,000 to 30,000 vote advantage on cities as a whole. Saskatchewan and Manitoba ridings have in many cases 40 to 50,000 fewer voters than many city ridings in BC, Ontario, Quebec and Alberta.

Elections Canada will have to redraw many ridings before the next election in order to give Ontario, BC, Alberta and Quebec new seats.  The challenge before Elections Canada will be to avoid the easy route which will be to try to minimize change. We must address several issues as we add seats.  Urban ridings must become more equal. Some rural ridings will have to become larger.  And Saskatoon must have at least one city riding.

When elections Canada begins to add the new seats, people in our cities need to be vigilant.  I would expect the NDP and Liberals to work to address this inequity and the Harper Conservatives will work hard to keep the current disparity in place.

The disparity in city vs rural has brought about the end of the long gun registry, the loss of a federal government support for transit, green energy, and affordable housing.  We have lost the long gun battle for now. The war can turn in our favour if we work for redistributing the balance between rural and urban ridings and ultimately toward a fairer voting system.


10.24.2011

Gold Plated Baird - ChristiansYES, Queer Kids NO

The Harper Government is set come good on an election promise to establish a new office within the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The new Office of Religious Freedom will investigate issues of religious freedom around the world. The budget will be five million dollars.


Rationalizing the new international effort, current Minister of Foreign Affairs, The Honourable 'Gold Plated' John Baird, told the globe and mail“Societies that protect religious freedom are more likely to protect all other fundamental freedoms. They are typically more stable and more prosperous societies.”


So if I am correct, John Baird will be working to make life better for LGBT folks too. I can see Egypt recognizing the error of it ways, protecting Christians and poof! the LGBT population in Egypt will be protected as well.  Pretty clever of the Harperites to do this by stealth.  I know when I want a sympathetic ear, I seek out the nearest evangelical church.  After all, they just want all of us to have a life...


A Fellow Blogger has a much longer piece on his blog, A Message from the Minister of Closets & Denial 
... Baird, to his credit, has found himself on the right side of a number of important - albeit losing - votes. Yet, I would argue, that Cabinet raises the stakes. A place in the Ministry provides an important point of access to the Prime Minister and to the rest of Cabinet. This is a position that could be exploited in more detail to advocate on behalf of issues that affect the queer community. Indeed, given his role at Foreign Affairs, the chance for influence is even greater. Rather than backing the Harper Government's ludicrous ideological agenda abroad, one that includes the establishment of a watchdog to function as an 'ambassador' for religious freedoms, Baird should be instead stressing the need to promote freedoms in general, and not assigning a hierarchy to human rights. The recent outcry over the treatment of Christians in Egypt is a clear case of this idiotic thinking. While Christians may be restricted of rights and attacked physically, homosexuality is met with large penalties. In many other countries, including increasingly homophobic regimes in Africa and the Middle East, homosexuality remains punishable by death. Clearly there is a disjuncture between reality and the goals of the current government. Sadly, however, it is a pipe dream to expect Baird to take any firm role in advocating for increased rights and protections for the LGBT community at home or abroad. ...
Nope, no problems in Canada. We have consensus on that one, after all no one is killing LGBT youth here, right? No one is killing our youth in violent protests or storming into their bedrooms to drag them out and kill them. 


They may not be physically pulling the trigger here in Canada, stabbing the knife into the hearts of our young people.  They are much more circumspect here, we just try to jamb batteries down your throat, ostracize you, call you names, threaten to beat you up, tell you god is going to get you.  Jamie Hubley was verbally and physically attacked in school, out of school and online, in his own bedroom. 


Many young people face the same fate everyday in this country. LGBT kids and kids suspected of being LGBT are harassed to the point of depression and suicidal thoughts. This bullying has to be ended. Somehow having a federal minister who is in the closet, creating an office to 'raise concerns for religious freedom'  is unseemly. While I don't mean to seem to be dismissing the plight of those attacked for their religious beliefs, they should be protected. What I can't accept that on the other hand, this government has not lifted so much as a finger to even say "F--- You! queer kids.  If they did that we would at least be able to say they know we're here.


Calling Premier Dad - Sex education

Now we have a new Major Minority Government (hey, that's what the Ontario Liberals call it?) we can see them move on the school sex education curriculum. Especially after the tragic story of Jamie Hubley


The new curriculum was proposed in 2010 and dismissed by the premier less than two days later after a handful of noisy fundamentalist chirstian schools wrote some emails.  We need the Government to act and now would seem a good time to do this.  


The McGuinty government brought forward a very detailed and well thought out Health and Physical Education Curriculum for kids in grades one to eight. I was surprised at how forward thinking it was and if we ever need to go Forward Together in Ontario, lets do it now.  Implementing this curriculum will go a long way to making every child in school feel good about themselves and others.  


You can find the proposed curriculum here at the Toronto Star.  I tried finding it on the Ontario Government website but failed.  It could be there, I just couldn't find it.  


Here's what the Star editor said in a blog post about the new curriculum...
 
While I don't yet have the kind of detail on the curriculum that I'd like, I do want to point out where I think some individuals and organization are making inflammatory and incorrect assumptions about the spirit, tone and intention of this sort of education.
We've learned that kids will be discussing homosexuality in Grade 3. 
It's 2010. Don't a lot of our kids already have someone in their class who has two moms or two dads? That certainly applies for my son, Cameron. He's in Grade 1. He's known a lovely two-mom family since he was in daycare, and happily accepted an explanation that some people pick as their special person a member of the opposite sex and some people pick someone of their own gender.
For the sake not just of combating homophobia but of normalizing the experiences of school children who have same-sex parents, it's very worthwhile to discuss sexual orientation at an early age. Equally important: Getting the message to kids who may already be sensing some sort of "difference" in themselves compared to others, that they are OK no matter who they have a crush on.


Here is a break down on what Kids will learn in school



Grade 1 — Body parts, including genitalia using correct terminology
Grade 2 — Stages of human development
Grade 3 — Healthy relationships, differences and how they make humans unique (discussion could include sexual orientation, physical abilities, cultural values)
Grade 4 — Puberty and physical/social impact
Grade 5 — Reproductive system, menstruation, spermatogenesis, emotional stresses of puberty
Grade 6 — Emotional, social and physical changes of adolescence (discussion could include wet dreams, erections, vaginal lubrication, masturbation)
Grade 7 — Delaying sexual activity, sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy and STI prevention, (possible discussion of oral sex, intercourse, anal intercourse)
Grade 8 – Making decisions about sexual activity; sexual health/abstinence/safe sex; gender identity (male/female/transgendered/transsexual)
Now that looks like a good plan. Let's do it Premier McGuinty. Your public servants have done a great job on this, we need you to be Premier Dad now.

10.19.2011

What's it like to be beaten in School

My condolences to Jamie Hubely and his family.

It's time to take action to protect queer kids in our schools.  Jamie Hubely's suicide certainly makes that clear. I am haunted by his passing and I didn't know Jamie.  I do know what it was like for him.  I know it all too well.  The story you are about to read is real, it happened to me, it happens to kids in school all the time.   Its not a fun read.  

I was 16, walking with my best friend back to school.  He was a High School basketball star, he was well over six feet, I was maybe five foot three. We were best friends in school.  Partly because we had to ride the bus together and hiss older cousin liked my sister.  As we approached the school taking a short cut through a church yard we came upon ten boys from our school.

I have forgotten or blocked out the memory of how things got rough, it was fast though.  They were calling me a fag, I was shy once I got to grade ten.  The boys were bigger, they were meaner, I just tried to stay out of the way.  I had pretty much succeeded for the better part of the year until the day we walked through that church yard.

It was nearing the end of lunch hour and as my friend and I headed back to school the boys attacked.  At first it was just name calling. "FAGGOT," they shouted at me.  They had no problem with my friend, he was a certified jock. I was in the Drama and Audio-visual club.  They continued to call me names and blocked our path. Soon we were surrounded.

Me, in the brown 
One of the boys punched me, his friends encouraging him with calls to hit to fagot. My friend tried to stop it and was promptly held back by two of the other boys.  The guy was in my face, demanding I admit I was a fag. He was joined by a two or three other boys.  All of them bigger than me.  They kept punching me in the head, to the stomach, anywhere they could.  

I remember telling them to stop.  I heard my friend shouting at them to stop.  They didn't.

I didn't know at the time I was gay.  I did know I wasn't interested in girls, I was aware I might be gay.  I had gone to the library in the school to find anything  on homosexuality.  It was a futile search.  The only references I could find happened to be in the dictionary.  The dictionary said homosexuals were perverts.

I was pushed to the ground. One guy then sat on my chest. He was slapping my face.  Another guy kicked me my hip.  The guy on top of me kept calling me a worthless faggot, cocksucker, ass-licker.  he moved so his crotch was right at my chin. Others were now kicking my body everywhere.  I remember closing my eyes.  The   kicking which hurt like hell, I no longer felt. The pain from guy slapping and punching my face was gone.  I was conscious, just numb now.  It went on.

The guy on top of me was replaced by another guy.  He sat on my face at first, then slid back again so he was on my shoulders, my arms under him.  He demanded I admit I was a faggot. I turned my head, just in time to avoid a blow from the foot of a boy standing.  He got me in the back of head.  The guy on me stating spitting on face.  I couldn't avoid it.  It was in my eyes, it was everywhere.

Another kick to the head got me above the eye. I don't know how many there were, I lost count. I felt a bump begin to swell.  Then I tasted blood.  It didn't hurt at the time.  All of this has happened in ten minutes of time.  I knew that if I admitted I was a fag, it would be over for me at school.  It would only get worse.  They finally stopped.  Getting off me, the guy spit in my face again.  He slapped my face, this time drawing blood.  Told me to watch out or it would be worse.

I couldn't at the time imagine it getting worse.  I was bleeding from cuts and my nose. I felt a couple bumps on my head and my knee.  My friend and I went back to school. He wanted to report it, I didn't, it would only make me a snitch and a fag.

Me in the back, in light shirt,
around the time I was beat up in school
I went to the washroom, I washed my face and head.  I cried for a few minutes then decided I needed to be stronger.  I couldn't let these bullies win.  What I didn't know at the time was they had won.  I myself had not understood my sexuality, yet these boys were pretty certain of it.  I was screwed.

I went back to class, I hoped my teacher wouldn't notice, he noticed.  He wanted to know what happened.  I said I fell. He didn't believe me.  I almost told him. I might have told him, if I felt I wasn't partly to blame for the beating. If I knew the teacher wouldn't himself condemn me for being a fag. If only I wasn't a fag.  That may have been the first instance, when the teacher asked me what happened, that I clicked to the idea I was gay.

School was never fun after that.  I dated a shy girl once, for my best friend.  He wanted me to at least show his jock friends I was dating.  The girl and I did nothing except go to a movie, hung out at a coffee place.  It seemed enough for the haters.  Yet though they stopped the beating and continual taunting, I felt lost, desperate at times.  I would hear fag and cringe. I heard all the guys talking about fags and how they were shit.  It was worse but I have already shared lots.

Bruce MacDonald October, 2010 - red shirt
Took his Life in December 2010 
The desperation was inside. No one really knew how I felt. I could hide my feelings well.  I thought about what Jamie did, many times.  I planned it a few times.  I'm not sure why I didn't do it.  It may have been a determination not to let them win, it may have been my parents, my best friend, it may have been my mom, my family, my grandparents. They all were in the right place at the right time, so to say.

I can see that while we have made advances in human rights and the depiction of gays in the media, we are still so far away from saving people like Jamie.  I was like Jamie.  I feared it wouldn't get better.  And many times over the years, the final solution has cropped up.  Cropped up as it did with Bruce, my good friend and very strident gay blogger.  For Bruce it didn't get better, it certainly didn't get better for Jamie.

Many of us are around today, we have lived our lives and for the most part they have been good. We have a few more demons.  We carry a little more weight around inside our heads.  When you are in high school, that weight is very heavy.  It can be for any kid.  If you are bullied, it is much much more.  If you are gay, all you can think of is getting out.

I will post some thoughts on what I think needs to happen now, in a few days. I'm just too lost to think too rationally right now.

I was happy to read Libby Davies thoughts on Jamie's passing here. Libby, Thank you.

Some other links for you here...

XTRA.ca

15-year-old Jamie Hubley documented heartbreaking need for acceptance

Canada News: Mallick: Meet the boy the bullies broke - thestar.com

Montreal Simon: The Tragic Death of Jamie Hubley

Ottawa teen details final suicidal thoughts on blog - CTV News

10.17.2011

Another gay boy has committed suicide

Another young life is gone.  Another gay boy has committed suicide.

I find it too much sometimes, the lives lost due to bullying and haters.  They continue to rack up notches on the proverbial gun. Its nothing short of genocide in my view and society as a whole may deplore it yet just as in Rwanda where we stood by while innocent people were slaughtered we are doing the same here.
Jamie Hubley and his father, Alan - XTRA Photo

The not so innocent bystanders either preach the hate, teach the hate or watch the hate grow.  Calling a kid a Fag at school is likely considered the most demeaning word you can use.  It carries huge implications of being an inferior person, someone not worth a damn.

The young gay man was 15 years old. He was in High School and had started a rainbow alliance club for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth and allies.  According to XTRA.ca he stated online,


"I am tired of life really. It's so hard, I'm sorry, I can't take it anymore," wrote Jamie Hubley on Oct 14. "I don't want to wait three more years, this hurts too much. How do you even know it will get better? It's not." 

Some of you will remember a blog called Canuck Attitude.   The author, Bruce MacDonald was someone that lived with the hope it would get better.  It never did get better for Bruce and he took his life in December 2010 at age 52.

Bruce was one of the naysayers of the "It Gets Better" video project.  It's windrow dressing, it pleases people to think they are making a difference he said or perhaps my words are politer than Bruce's were.  He saw the It Gets Better effort as detracting from what really needs to happen.  A zero tolerance of bullying and homophobia in our schools.  It hasn't happened yet.  How seriously do teachers, parents and other students take bullying? When a kid calls another kid a fag what do they do?  I suspect its not a big priority, still seen as harmless school yard pranks.

Kids are dying at their own hands, hands that are being forced by perpetrators of hate, bullies and all those that fail to see or look the other way, just as we tied the hands of the protectors in Rwanda

NDP still on Top in Quebec

I attended the annual get together of progressive bloggers recently in Toronto.  It was enjoyable but could have been even more so had I been able to trot out the latest poll out of Quebec.  The novelty of having the NDP ahead of the Conservatives and Liberals has yet to get boring for me and no doubt has our Liberal friends pulling their blanket even higher over their heads.

Here is what the recent poll said from The Province newspaper,

The wave of popular support that propelled the New Democratic Party into the position of official opposition in the May federal election remains strong in Quebec.
Asked which party they would vote for if a federal election was held today, the NDP came out far ahead with 43 per cent of the vote. The Bloc Quebecois followed at 21 per cent, with the Conservatives garnering 18 per cent, the Liberals 11 and the Green Party six. The NDP, who went from 37 seats to 103 after the last election, thanks largely to the 59 seats it won in Quebec, was popular in all regions of Quebec, according to the Leger Marketing survey taken for the Montreal Gazette and Le Devoir.

And I was very pleased to hear Tom Mulcair state he was opposed to a merger with the Liberal party.  Brian Topp also stated we don't need a merger though he couched it with the idea a coalition could be possible.  As we gear up for more Conservative legislation this fall, much of it being mean-spirited and socially devastating, Topp's musings awhile back that we work out a co-operation agreement with progressive folks for the next election is worth thinking about.

Its way too early to get to those discussions however.  The NDP can expect better numbers polling numbers across Canada as the leadership contest gathers more public interest and if the Harper Government does in fact cut four billion from the budget this year and in each following year.

For now I want to bask in the glow as support for the NDP shows no sign of falling. Add to that the NDP's position that Quebec receive more seats along with Ontario, Alberta and BC appears to be something Harper is considering as well.

10.16.2011

Occupy Toronto signs

Some signs of the times..

Signs at Occupy Toronto


More signs at Nonprofity.com

Occupy Movement - It's About Time - Standford

Jim Stanford, an economist in Canada has published another must read article on the Occupy movement at the Globe and Mail.  


rodmickleburgh 5 mins 8 secs ago Twitter
Here it is again: my favourite protest sign #occupyvancouver #ows yfrog.com/oea00fj
Stanford points out that the last time Capitalism took a big hit in the 1930's it took several years for people to galvanize and for Government to act.  

Go read it here.

Occupy movement: It’s about time

Special to Globe and Mail Update

OWS Tweet says it all

Occupy Wall Street

America’s ‘Primal Scream’

You need to read this article from the New York Times.  The piece explains very well what the big problems are.  Although the article is primarily discussing the American situation, it is not that unlike the place Canadian's find themselves in.  

Income inequality has been growing.  The spread between the richest Canadians and the rest of us has grown dramatically since the late 1970's.  From the United States we learn that 400 people have more wealth than the bottom 150 million people.  This small group has more combined wealth than 45% of the nation.  How can that be good?  

I will post soon the numbers for Canada.  While i gather this information, check out this article in the New York Times on the Occupy Wall St effort and the issues these people have made us all aware of.


Occupy Toronto

Occupy Toronto looks to have been a success.  3,000 people arrived at the Bay Street address of the stock exchange.


Watch live streaming video from occupytoronto at livestream.com
People listening to speaker at Occupy Toronto
The demonstration was very peaceful, and for the most part police kept back and watched.

I know some of the people opposed to the sentiments of the demonstrators are disappointed to see a large rally like this and that the police didn't club anyone.

These events held in Canada have shown the country that discontent is building and something better happen. It has been interesting to watch Harper in the run up to these rallies. He has been careful not to criticize them, falling back on the line that the events that triggered Occupy Wall St didn't happen here.  So while the government has yet to condemn the movement, they have  mis-characterized demonstrators motives.

There were many causes brought to the rally.  I saw people with signs pointing to corporate greed, against unfettered capitalism, opposition to the Quarry planned north of Toronto, First Nations rights and many more. Collectively this crowd had one thing in common, they all were part of the 99%.  They were many, together they were more.

It's too early to know if the movement will have legs.  They are motivated, yet as the days go on will it be able to keep up interest, participation and build.  The Police said that the crowd at St James Park was about 1500.   Porta potties, food tents, a medical tent and individual tents were set up.  Occupation of the park is essential to maintaining momentum.

I am looking forward to joining the people in the park for part of each day.  If you can, do go down and be part of what is now a world wide movement.  It can only carry forward if we do.  You can help as well by making donations, helping with park clean up and telling your friends about the 99%.


Watch live streaming video from occupytoronto at livestream.com

If you have twitter check out hashtag #occupytoronto
Occupy Toronto on Facebook



Check out this photo essay at Posi+ive Magazine - TORONTO RALLY: DEMONSTRATION DAY 1

10.15.2011

NDP Leadership Contest

My good friend but alas political adversary over at IMPOLITICAL takes comfort from a column by Don MacPherson in the Montreal Gazette, Quebec's conservative english language newspaper.  Mac it seems thinks that Brian Topp was trying to build up so much support that Tom Mulcair would whine for a while and then decide not to enter the leadership contest..

The funny part is that if you are a Mac, a political reporter and live in Montreal, you know Mulcair rarely if ever shies away from a challenge.  The idea that Topp was trying hard to keep Mulcair out of the race is ludicrous.  Mulcair is passionate and skilled debater.  He was always going to be in this contest and Topp's people knew that.  That's not to say Topp wouldn't have preferred Mulcair's endorsement rather than challenge.

The media and my good Liberal friends would like nothing better than for Mulcair to be impaled on his own sword.  That of course is always possible, though I expect a very disciplined Mulcair in this leadership contest.  The prize in the end could be Prime Minster.  Tom the Bomb as coined by MacPherson, may turn out to be the one that ultimately puts the final nail in the Liberal coffin.

With people like Romeo Saganash, Paul Dewar, Brian Topp, Nathan Cullen and Tom Mulcair, and possibly a couple more candidates, the NDP is putting out some very amazing front line talent, not to forget four people that decided not to run, Charlie Angus, Libby Davies, Megan Leslie and Peter Julian.  The NDP leadership contest is showcasing its bench strength. It matches up very well against the Conservative Cabinet.

10.14.2011

The Liberal Party and the Dandelion Effect

Is the party over for the Liberals in Canada.  A few writers seem to think so.  And of course Liberals that I know always puzzle me.  They are afraid for the most part of changing things.  The system is working so why rock the boat.  Another thing they seem to be afraid of is unions.  That surprises me even more given that the Liberal party has benefited quite well over the years from union support.

So why is the Liberal party not so mighty anymore...

The Liberals are not the party they once were, neither are the other parties.  The NDP still has union support but that does not translate into big funding, the law prevents that from happening.  The unions do not hold their 25% vote anymore.  Its one member one vote. The changes in the NDP have been seen as moving to the center of politics.  The Liberals seem to have moved to the right.

The Liberal move to the right and the NDP's move to fill the gap look to have displaced those Liberals.  Its a reality that has caused some problems for both parties, especially for the Liberals.  The NDP problem is the same as the lefty Liberals problems, where did the party go?  Many of those lefty liberals recall the Trudeau era.  The Charter, the just society.  They don't feel they have a home they like anymore. They are testing out the NDP.

I suspect Trudeau would have a hard time endorsing the party today, he would in the end, but like former Ontario Premier Bill Davis' endorsement of Tim Hudak in the just finished Ontario election, it wouldn't be a passionate one. And much of what Liberals are proud of today occurred when they sought the support of the NDP or CCF, in some cases, years ago.  Liberal governments passed CPP under Pearson, a new flag, the just society lead to abortion rights, gay rights, the constitution and the Charter of Rights.  In the 70's and 80's the federal government invested more in health care, education, housing and started doing some good work with first nations and Petro Canada and the NEP. Pretty impressive, very progressive.

The Liberals however lost it somewhere after their zeal to eliminate the deficit took off.  It was a cruel knife that cut the budget. By the time Paul Martin became PM many Canadians didn't see much difference between the Liberals and the Conservatives.  Add to that the Liberal scandals and it made things much worse.

People in Quebec said bye bye and then English Canada said enough.  The Liberals have lost seats and popular vote in several successive elections.  And we all know where the last election put the Liberals.  No one knows what they stand for anymore.

The current Liberal plan for rebounding depends on three things, the NDP making a big mistake, the arrival of a Trudeau like leader and McGuinty holding onto the last serious beach head the Liberals have in Canada.   I would have added , but even Liberals know that's a long, long shot.  McGuinty barely held Ontario. The NDP beat the Liberals in popular vote in Nfld and L for the first time ever and have displaced the Liberals as official opposition in the Yukon. Its not looking good. Christy Clark's chances of holding the Liberal banner in BC as government has an expiry date of May 2013.  They have a best before date of the day after the last election.

Nova Scotia is doing well under an NDP government and likely to do better after they get the big ship building contract next week. You have to know that Harper would like that to happen.  The last bastion in the country for the NDP to crack is New Brunswick, (Alberta is still a challenge for Libs and NDP).  For the first time ever the NDP have a bigger political presence in Canada than Liberals.  That momentum will be hard to change.  

So as the NDP heads to a leadership convention in March, the Liberals are stuck in no ones land, with an interim leader many Liberals still don't trust and no idea who may be the leader or who they want to be leader.  Lots of tough work ahead for sure, maybe for naught.

Still as a New Democrat I take seriously what Ian Capstick calls the “dandelion effect”If it helps my Liberal friends, I believe you will survive.  While you are figuring your way out of the hole I have membership forms for Liberals that want to keep Harper from a second majority government, and you don't have to be a supporter of any leadership candidate to get this membership form.

some links to others that think it could be over ...

Party over for Liberals? - Susan Delacourt

Have Liberals reached the point of no return?- Chantel Hebert

We Might Be Dead - Far and Wide