Monday, November 17, 2008

Gone Oratory Gone

In this world of constant selling why has the pressure of success not produced better oratory among Canadian politicians? I am frankly at a loss to explain this (although, perhaps I have not tried hard enough.) I have just ordered Great Canadian Speeches from the Federal Press here in Toronto and I even plan to read it. Perhaps I will even attempt to write what I think our politicians should be saying to inspire us.

This minor polemic has been inspired, of course, by my listening to the acceptance speech of President Elect Barack Obama a couple of weeks ago and my near obsession with The West Wing as of late. Words are just words I know and deeds speak the truth but we all need a good argument to get off of the couch and start doing something or at least to pay our taxes without grumbling too loudly.

As I get through Great Canadian Speeches I will let you know about the inspiring ones and perhaps try to clue our politicians into the fact that oratory matters.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

re: Safe Injection Site Science

A reply from the PMO regarding my email about Insite, the safe injection site in Vancouver's downtown East Side.

Dear Mr. Kruse:

On behalf of the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, I would like to thank you for your e-mail, in which you raised an issue which falls within the portfolio of the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health. The Prime Minister always appreciates receiving mail on subjects of importance to Canadians.

Please be assured that the statements you made have been carefully reviewed. I have taken the liberty of forwarding your e-mail to Minister Aglukkaq so that she too may be made aware of your comments. I am certain that the Minister will give your views every consideration. For more information on the Government's initiatives, you may wish to visit the Prime Minister's Web site, at

L.A. Lavell
Executive Correspondence Officer
for the Prime Minister's Office
Agent de correspondance
de la haute direction
pour le Cabinet du Premier ministre

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

re: Finacial Stability in the Arts : More Comments

Here are some more comments from the Financial Stability in the Arts Survey:

I spent the last year working as a freelancer as full time minimum wage work left little time for anything else and was still not enough to make ends meet. While the first month or so went well, work quickly dried up and I found myself scrambling for 6 months, unsure at times how I would pay my rent. My field within the arts requires that others hire me to work for them. The "if your art is good, people will buy it" simply does not hold up if there is no one left to hire me.

I have so much pride being a Canadian citizen - but as an arts worker, I find that support for the arts in this country is really lacking. It's upsetting that most people are forced to either leave the country or leave the industry all together to make a living. No where else have I experienced this kind of sad neglect. Personally, I am looking for work outside my expertise right now so that I can find some financial relief...and then return to the arts again where I belong, which has been hugely upsetting. No where else do people work as hard for such little payoff, money, or glamour...we all invest so much of ourselves and get shit upon the whole time by lack of support.

like most of my colleagues, my rent constitutes more than 40% of my income, life has always been week to week, cheque to cheque. I don't believe I've ever known financial security, and I've been working in the arts for over fifteen years. It's what I accepted and anticipated entering the art world, to see such an ignorant view from a world leader is enraging.

In the last twenty years of working as a professional actor I have always had to work anywhere from one to three additional jobs to make ends meet. For many years I consistently earned well below the national poverty level. To work in the Canadian Arts is to do so knowing that work will always be hard to come by and that the absolute best you can reasonably hope for is a chance to practice your craft at a wage that will allow you to survive without having to hold down a full time job outside your chosen career. I have never wanted anything more out of life than the chance to do what I do best and practice my art with the reasonable expectation of making a decent living wage. Without the support of our government even that meager hope is gone.

Working in the arts is like walking a tightrope in the dark with a small flashlight in your mouth.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

California Proposition 8 - Banning Gay Marriage

Proposition 8, being voted upon in California today is attempting to make gay marriage illegal; a right that was afforded to gays and lesbians by the California Supreme Court last year. The folks from an awsome skeptics forum that I belong too re-cut the propoganda video for Prop 8 to equate the logical fallicies with inter-racial marriage. Check out both videos:

Original video:

Re-cut Video

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Safe Injection Site Science

Mr. Harper,

I am sad to see that irrational ideology has once again blinded your government from seeing consensus opinions from the scientific community. You and your government have let your ideas about drugs blind you to a greater public health threat and as such have been working to find reasons to close down Insite, the safe injection site for drug users in Vancouver's Lower East Side.

As early as 2007 researchers looking into the efficacy of the safe injection site model of public health had produced much evidence from sound scientific research to show that safe injection sites reduce harm to drug users and the community by allowing street-level social workers to meet with drug users and help them to prevent the transmission of HIV, Hepatitis C and prevent overdoses of drugs like heroin, cocaine and speed.

This was an approach that came from the streets. From people who were tired of seeing people destroy themselves and others through their addictions and who found a way to reduce the harm that dirty needles and unsafe sex posed. This was not an ideological approach, this was a realistic approach and it has had led to a real reduction in the spread of HIV and Hep C and lessened the number of overdoses in that area. Even more, it has put the people most in need in contact with addiction counsellors and in methadone programs to help them kick the habit; a process that any alcoholic or smoker will tell you is long, painful and arduous.

It appears, however, that your government has chosen to disregard this research and discount it by saying studies are inconclusive, as was said by your health minister Tony Clement last year when many of the studies were published. And why? I can only imagine that you think that punishment and law enforcement are the only sticks with which the government need act, that beating the addict with the justice system and locking him or her up will solve the problem. Who do you turn to for an example? The U.S Government and their failed War on Drugs which as seen an increase in drug use over its lifetime and has resulted in a department of corrections which is bulging at the seams with drug users, being kept daily by the public purse.

But that won't stop you, oh no, you won't let something like facts get in the way of your ideological approach to governing. I suppose you would like to use my tax money to lock people up instead of helping them. On the one hand you purport to be a champion for personal freedom and the free market while you take away the ability of drug addicts to make good health choices by attempting to close the one thing that will help them get better and keep them healthy while they do so.

I call upon your government to listen to the people. To listen to the good science that is being done. To listen to the people who are making an honest effort to protect communities through prevention. To listen to the addicts and sex workers who need your help.

Above all, not to stop your ears from the very public you have sworn to represent and protect.

Lead, Mr. Harper. Lead this country through rational decision making, not ideology. Don't let your own biases kill those who need you most.


Michael Kruse

see: the journal Open Medicine for an editorial on Insite and the recent Globe and Mail article