Thursday, December 3, 2009
Thank you for your previous email regarding the upcoming UN climate
change summit in Copenhagen.
With the world beginning to focus their attention on Canada's lack of
action on climate change, the Conservative government continues to make
it up as they go along. To make matters worse, Environment Minister
Prentice announced that Canadians and the rest of the world would have
to wait well into 2010 before he reveals domestic climate change
regulations. You can read more about this matter here.
. The bottom line is if we don't step up, we'll face trade sanctions
abroad and mounting costs at home.
For our part, New Democrats continue to push the federal government to
establish regulations for Canada's greenhouse gases and to take a
leadership role at the UN Copenhagen climate change summit. Our efforts
to advance Bill C-311, the New Democrat Climate Change Accountability
Act also received a major setback due to the combined forces of
Conservative and Liberal MPs who voted to delay the legislation.
Bill C-311, with tough, science-based reduction targets for our
greenhouse gases, offered Canada a real chance to prove to the world
that it is serious about tackling climate change. Its passage by
Parliament would have given Canada the credibility it sorely needs when
it goes to the UN Copenhagen Conference. Now, Canada will go to
Copenhagen with nothing to offer.
We will make every effort to return C-311 to Parliament. Also, New
Democrat Environment critic Linda Duncan and I look forward to having
the opportunity to advance our Party`s environmental policies at the
The decision by Liberal MPs to join with the Conservatives to deny
passage of this important legislation made one thing clear: more votes
for the Conservatives and Liberals will mean less tangible action to
protect our environment.
Others agree with our assessment:
"To date, Liberal environmental policies are indistinguishable from
those of the Conservative government that have pushed Canada to last
place among developed nations in protecting climate and the natural
environment." - Stephen Hazell, Executive Director, Sierra Club Canada
on September 21, 2009.
"This Bill (C-311) has wide support from a broad spectrum of Canadians.
Politicians need to set aside their partisan differences and agree on
these science-based emissions reduction targets. Time is running out." -
Mark Fried, policy coordinator, Oxfam Canada on October 21, 2009.
"Passing this Bill (C-311) before Copenhagen in December is Parliament's
only hope of proving that we are prepared to work seriously through the
United Nations to find a solution to global warming. The Liberals voting
with the Conservatives may have made that impossible." - Dale Marshall,
David Suzuki Foundation on October 21, 2009.
Looking forward, you can continue to count on our team of New Democrat
MPs to push our plan to take on big polluters, protect our environment,
and invest in sustainable solutions. I invite you to check the following
link to learn more about our work:
Again, thank you for letting me know of your interest to fight climate
change. Feel free to share my response to anyone interested in
environmental protection. All the best."
Jack Layton, MP (Toronto-Danforth)
Leader, Canada's New Democrats
I now await response from the conservatives and liberals...
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
What the hell are you doing to Canada's international good name?! I have heard several reports, from the interview on Quirks and Quarks with Dr. Tim Flannery on Nov 21 to a recent article in London's Guardian newspaper, decrying Canada's abysmal failing when it comes to tackling climate change. They now claim that it will be Canada's failings that doom the international talks in Copenhagen this fall. I will blame you and lackey-of-the-oil-barons and member for Calgary-Centre Jim Prentice for dragging everything Canada has stood for in the past 50 years down the toilet, if this comes to pass.
Climate change is real! The intense greed that has driven the oil companies in Alberta is obviously all your government thinks upon when it comes to the environment and you have failed time and again to address it.
If I hear one more tu toque argument blaming the liberals for dropping the ball I will scream! You are in power now! The Canadian People, in their complete LACK of wisdom have you put you there and you are floundering upon the rocks of indecision and indifference when it comes to Canada's international commitments.
When will you wise up? I suspect never, but losing an election is a good start.
I am incensed to hear Canada's name befouled by your complete incompetence. Do something to fix this, or the Canadian people will let you know how they feel about it come the next election.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street - End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
via website: <http://www.leader.ir/langs/
I urge you to revisit the conviction and execution of Nemat Safavi from the city of Ardebil, Mehdi P. from Tabriz, and Mohsen Gh. from Shiraz under the prohibition of Levat, or homosexual acts.
These executions are deplorable and extremely offensive to all of the free peoples of the world. These men, and in one case boy, if the convictions are even just and with base, were only following their heart and did nothing else but love somebody outside of your narrow view of propriety.
I urge you once again to re-consider your state's position on homosexuality and leave gay peoples in your country to love whom they wish.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
To the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees - Ankara:
This letter concerns the cases of Roodabeh (File Number 385-08C00917) and Ali (File Number 385-08C01577). Roodabeh and Ali completed their legal interviews several months ago and are currently awaiting the commissioner’s decision. As a supporter of queer Iranians I urge the acceptance of their applications for refugee status as vulnerable cases, as there is every reason to expect that their lives may depend upon it.
I am concerned about their physical and emotional state in Turkey, and urge you to bring them relief from their formidable living conditions, which include unsanitary housing, lack of medical supplies, and an inability to secure daily living expenses. Roodabeh and Ali are particularly affected because they are in an extremely difficult situation and require urgent assistance.
I realize you have many refugee applicants to whom you must respond. However, due to the urgent circumstances facing queer refugees particularly, I urge you to assist Roodabeh and Ali and grant them refugee status as soon as possible.
Your timely, informed and sensitive treatment of this case is greatly appreciated.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
There are gays in all walks of life, including the military, the police and fire services and in EMS. I have, on occasion, worked with fellow mo's in the service for a day or two and it always strikes me that, often, neither of us is prepared to speak about our homosexuality or even just share personal, telling, details: talk about boyfriends or family etc. There were a couple of times when we would have rather said nothing than speak about our family situations, less it give away our, um, non-traditional relationships. I perceived this as our fear keeping us in our own personal work closets, even when we were in an environment that could be nothing else but accepting.
Several years ago I heard Sky Gilbert speak at the inauguration of the gay studies department at University of Toronto. I was convinced that he was still living in 1980, with the Toronto bathhouse raids still fresh in his mind and his misplaced militancy quaint and outmoded. We had largely gained acceptance, right? I had not had any problems coming out and had never been harassed or even called faggot once, and I thought Sky was beating an old drum and embarrassing himself. At that time, sexual orientation was being added to the Human Rights Code in Ontario and I thought, well, that is that: we should be fine now.
I was wrong.
I came out in the latter part of high school, the last year in fact, when my school friendships were at their strongest and when I was in an arts community that embraced gays and lesbians without questions. I went to school at Ryerson Theatre School - a veritable cocoon in terms of gays and lesbians - where, of course, harassment would be a non-starter. I was safe. It was, however, a false sense of security.
The real world continued to see the rise of anti-gay hatred while I was in my happy place in theatre and only when I came out of it into the real world, and began to re-connect with the community at large, did I see what queer complacence and commercialism had wrought over the preceding 10 years.
The first break-in to the queer community was crafted by, of course, liquor companies. "The Bailey's Girl" was a contest to find the next spokes-model for Bailey's - and she would be drag queen. Advertising companies had clued into the fact that gays had a lot of disposable income, most not having children and the like, and they were a market ready to be tapped. This commercialization of the queer community went hand in had with more high-profile queer achievements like the aforementioned Human Rights code stuff and was preceded by benefits being extended to same-sex partners by municipalities and larger companies. These were great achievements and were properly lauded by queers and and the organizations that had been fighting and lobbying for our equal treatment under the law. This, as I see it, was the beginning of the end of homosexuality as a sub-culture and it was thrust into the mainstream as a marketable object: at its best an object for promotion and at its worst as a freak show to be gawked at by society. It was not, however, an end to discrimination.
The late 90's saw some high profile queer achievements, there were more than a few out politicians and high profile gays in the media, not to mention Will and Grace. It was also the time of terrible high-profile gay bashings and murders - Matthew Sheppard being the most memorable and, one can argue, a great educational opportunity. We had been spreading the rumour that it was OK to be gay in mainstream society. They wanted our money and they promoted our forms of love to get it, and we mistook this for total acceptance. Matthew Shepard and others did and they ended up dead; killed by scared idiots. Did you notice that those urinal dividers all cropped up only at the end of the 90's? Now that society had accepted that there were gays out there - and I mean gay men, because lesbians, one can argue, were seen less as a threat to men and more as sexual objects - you had to look over your shoulder, even while you pee, because you never know who was staring at your cock in the bathroom. Queers are still seen as sexual deviants by many and are pegged as child-molesters and freaks. That does not sound like acceptance to me.
In Canada, at least, we protected against discrimination by sexual orientation before the larger threat of fundamentalist Christianity could get its grips on the government. The Liberals were ahead of the curve, or at the very least right along side, and we had won. In the US things were, and still are, different. It was OK to sell shit to the gays, after all money was money, but we can not allow them things like marriage or to teach children or be scout leaders - no that would not do at all. After all, we have protect our children from the recruitment that is rife in modern media. What the hell is a metrosexual, anyway, if not a a recruiting poster for cocksucking?
Is this a straw man? I don't think so. Outside of the anonymous city, it is not easy to be gay and people are still moving to the city to escape the hateful attitudes of many rural and uniform communities. It is easy enough for old queers to move back to the country. Old queers in relationships are harmless, right? And anyways, we know exactly where they are if anything goes wrong in town with some children. This may sound harsh but in Canada we all live the lie that racism and sexism and homophobia has been conquered now that we have Human rights commissions and the protection of the courts. As a fairly straight-acting queer I am privy to the actions of, mostly male, homophobia at the workplace and in the locations north of Toronto. While going to school in Iowa I was pleasantly surprised that many of my classmates were un-phased by my coming out, albeit late in the program, but that did not stop those more conservative students in throwing out "fag" as a hateful epithet, or using that casual "that is sooo gay" as a statement of lameness or derision.
Homophobia still exists. We cannot forget that.
So, as you can tell, I am a bit frustrated and angry today. Angry that my cowardice keeps me in the closet and from speaking out against the small but hateful and fearful push that homophobia has on us all every day. I am angry that we were accepted as a market to be bought and sold before we have been accepted as just a normal variant of human experience and desires. I am even more angry that many queers today do not see the shoulders they stand upon or willfully forget, because of the pain that is evoked with that remembering, of those killed and derided by a society that still sees us criminal, amoral freaks. We are now doing this to ourselves - that is what makes me the most angry.
I do not know what else to do, other than be the person I am instead of hiding behind what I have called the convenient "duck blind" of my straight-acting personality. I am missing Gay Pride this week because I am working and the crowd drives me a bit crazy - perhaps I will go next year. In the mean time I will try to be a little less cowardly and to remember those who have fought to keep is free - all year. I will try to make time to write letters and participate in activism in order to keep society free from this discrimination.
I will try to be proud.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Dear Mr. Kruse:
The office of the Prime Minister has forwarded to the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, a copy of your correspondence of November I, 2008, concerning Vancouver's Supervised Injection Site, also known as Insite. I regret the delay in responding.
The Government of Canada believes in reducing and preventing the use of illicit drugs, treating those with drug dependencies, and combatting the illicit production and distribution of drugs. These are the priorities of the federal government's National Anti-Drug Strategy, which represents the Government's balanced approach to addressing drug use across the country. The Strategy was created in response to Canadians' concerns about illicit drug use and its impact on youth and communities. More information about the Strategy is available at htt.p:llwww.nationalantidrugstrategy.gc.ca.
It may interest you to know that in 2008, the Government of Canada allocated
$111 million over five years to improve access to treatment for drug addictions in Canada. Of this, $10 million was set aside specifically for Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. This funding will support the Assertive Community Treatment team of professionals and create 20 new treatment beds dedicated to female drug users who are engaged in the sex trade. In addition, $2 million was allocated to improve addiction services for First Nations and Inuit people living in the area.
As you are aware, Insite is currently the subject of ongoing litigation. As this matter is before the courts, it would be inappropriate to comment further. However, the Government welcomes the views of all Canadians on this issue.
Thank you for writing.
Danielle Shaw Chief of Staff