On the Picket Line

Haven’t been on my soapbox for quite some time.  Still lots of issues I care about – but mostly I’ve been ranting over on Facebook and/or Twitter instead of here…. way more followers there  🙂

But I’m on strike – and if nothing else, that gives me lots to go on about…. and time in which to do it.

This is the second strike I’ve been directly involved in (there was one at Notre Dame of St. Agatha Children’s Mental Health Centre where I worked waaaaaaaaaaaaay back when but I was off recovering from a serious car accident then, so I didn’t actually have the dubious ~pleasure~ of walking the picket line.

Last one was in 2006 – and at the point, I had way too many physical ailments to be standing out there for four hours a day.  I had accommodations for strike duty; show up, offer coffee or bathroom run, do whatever, go home and collect strike pay.

This time I am in much better shape. No more plantar fasciitis, for starters! My reward for being in much better health? No accommodations necessary; I get to walk the line and earn my strike pay with everyone else.

I actually am not unhappy about that. For starters, I need to lose the weight that I’ve put on since I quit smoking (19-Aug; yay me!). It’s good to meet new people – and with seven campuses, there are lots of Georgian people I have not met. And last but certainly not least – as a matter of fact – first – is that this time we are on strike for issues that directly affect me.

It might wind up biting me in the butt, of course – most everything I do at/for them seems to any more – but even-so, the issues we are striking for are issues that I care about.

There are three:

  • Work towards 50/50 split between full and part time professors (from the 81/19 we are are right now)
  • Increased job security (and fairness) re: hiring of part-time and partial load instructors
  • Academic freedom and some input into the courses we teach

There were a whole bunch of other issues that we would have liked to include and resolve – but since the College Employer Council bargaining on behalf of the management of all 24 Ontario community colleges was clearly not open to dealing with all of that, in a last ditch effort to avoid this strike, OPSEU streamlined our demands down to three.

Just three.

Didn’t work, obviously – they rejected those just as quickly as they rejected everything else. No negotiation at all. Just ‘no’.  And they aren’t exactly chomping at the bit to get back to the table either.

It is discouraging.

But, on the plus side, I’m getting to know a whole bunch of people I might never have met otherwise.

And I’m getting lots and lots of steps in on my Garmin vivofit. Beating my kid for this week, even!  Still two non-picketing days to go though, so I’m not resting on my laurels quite yet.

 

 

Posted in 2017 Ontario College strike, OPSEU | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blame the refugees

Was just reading an article about changes to Autism treatment funding for Ontario children and there we go …apparently some Canadians  blame the refugees for that too.

Homelessness? Blame the refugees.

Cuts to – well, anything –  blame the refugees.

Unemployment? Rising food prices? Can’t find a day care space? Nothing to watch on television? Your kid didn’t get picked for the team? We all know who to blame, right?

I dunno – maybe it’s an improvement…. if the trolls are all busy blaming the refugees, maybe they’re leaving their other favourite targets alone… ?  Have we moved on from blaming Aboriginal people and/or poor people for every challenge Canada faces? I guess that could be seen as a plus.

Thing is, though, that this blame the refugees strategy that is so ubiquitous online right now is every bit as wrong.

And counterproductive as all hell too!

This was my response to the woman in the autism thread:

*sigh* sure, let’s blame the refugees for everything that they have absolutely nothing to do with; that’ll help everyone.

Maybe we can be SO effective at building hate towards them that they’ll be prevented from ever fitting in and then we can continue to support them forever instead of seeing them get settled, working & contributing. Wow! Then we’ll REALLY be winners, eh?!

Oh Canada.

That’s the thing that most irks me about this blame game. Even if you were right, you lose.

Sure, we can blame, punish, hate all *insert target here* – but in the long run, does it actually help anyone at all?

If you don’t like the fact that *insert target here* are getting government assistance of any sort, maybe you might want to think about how to make it easier, not harder, for people to move from one side of the balance sheet  to the other? From being on any sort of government assistance to paying taxes and contributing?

Does hating on *insert target here*  help towards that goal?

If not, maybe you might want to think about a different strategy?

Just a thought!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rona Ambrose (now) supports #MMIW Inquiry

SISISeriously?

WHY is this woman’s face plastered all over my social media feeds as if anything she says is worth sharing?

She, her boss, and her party were the very people that stripped the funding from the Sisters in Spirit Initiative in 2010. Took it away from NWAC where it was being effectively studied and worked on by Aboriginal women and families of the missing and murdered women and handed the funding instead to a committee of predominantly middle-aged white guys – high ranking cops who just couldn’t even wrap their heads around the actual problem never mind come up with any useful solutions to it. And who were so *)&(%%*&!@@#$% wrapped up in colonialism that they couldn’t even manage to write a report that wasn’t a prime example of the very sort of “attitudes that inspired the Indian residential schools system to ever again prevail.”

I have no doubt that had the SISI been allowed to continue their work then, Canada would be a great deal further ahead in addressing this issue than we are. Had the cons actually listened to them about what was going on and what was needed and here’s a thought – funded some of it! – women’s lives could have been saved. Families not destroyed.

Rona Ambrose herself noted that there have been lots of reports already written about the issue – but she and the cons not only failed to follow any of the recommendations those reports provided, they actually did things that were in direct opposition to them, including, most recently, reducing/removing funding for culturally sensitive programs supporting homeless Aboriginal people.

She disgusts me and I will be very glad when people move on and quit posting articles that feature her.

Posted in #idlenomore, Aboriginal Issues, Canada, Elxn42, Violence against women | Tagged | Leave a comment

A question of loyalty

loyalty cardOne of the tactics those who support the continuing leadership of Tom Mulcair are using is to accuse anyone who questions it of being disloyal to the party.

Seriously, folks?

Loyalty to a cause should not take the form of blind obedience and unquestioning willingness to anyone, including the elected leader of that cause. That is not loyalty. That is an abjection of all responsibility to the cause, to the organization, and to one’s fellow members.

Tom Mulcair is not the NDP. To be blindly loyal to him is to be completely and utterly DISloyal to the NDP and to the social democratic principles it is supposed to represent.

To question, to challenge, to strive to do better and to demand better of our leadership is not disloyalty. It is the way that change happens.

If you ask me, those people who are running around spouting the victim narrative and demanding that everyone else shut up are the ones that are disloyal to the NDP, to our fellow Canadians, to ourselves and our families.

Productive change grows from discontent. From the thunder, to use Patricia Monture-Angus’ term.

Know what grows from everything is wonderful? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Unless the status quo is what we are shooting for, loyalty to the NDP means addressing what we can do better and how. And then doing it.

And those who are intent on trying to shut the rest of us up are, actually, the ones who are being disloyal. IMO.

 

 

 

If you are a grassroots NDP supporter, why not join us on Facebook?

 

Posted in Canada, Elxn42, NDP, Politics | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

NDP Election Result

ndplogoSo…depending on who you ask, the NDP’S 19-October election results were terrible (we lost more than half our seats, OMG!!); the second-best ever (we got 44 seats!!!), or widely successful (the goal was to get rid of Harper, after all).

None of those is all that good a fit for me. I’m disappointed – but honestly, I think we got exactly what we deserved, maybe a bit more. We as in the NDP, that is, not as in Canadians. I think Canadians, and especially Aboriginal communities within Canada, got ripped – but that is our – the NDP’s – fault.

I’ve been reading all sorts of stuff & nonsense about why we lost. It ranges from the victim narrative end of things – strategic voting did us in; the main stream media are biased against us; people are racist and/or stupid;  it just wasn’t our time… to the it’s all Tom’s fault – too right wing/centrist; he’s not charismatic; he’s this that or the other thing….

Honestly, I agree – and disagree – with all of it.

ALL of those things were factors. But in my opinion they were all much bigger liabilities than they needed to be and focusing on them is missing the most basic issue.

I have always supported the NDP because they are the only party that puts people before profit. Conservatives do to, Liberals do for – only the NDP is committed to working WITH Canadians for a better Canada….. or are they?

I think that even Canadians that were not formerly NDP were looking, this time, for  a government that was ready to work with them, to put them and the people they cared about first, to work toward reconciliation, and toward building a better Canada for all.

But we – the NDP – contradicted our own most basic principles in the quest to finally win an election. Intentionally or not, we sent messages that directly contradicted the entire notion of caring what Canadians thought, that said profit before people.

We had some great ads on social media – drew people into the NDP site and to subscribe to our emails based on particular issues such as child care, or minimum wages, or …whatever….   they were good, and they worked. And do you know what happened if you signed up in support of whatever issue drew one in? You got a flood of asks. Give us money, give us money, give us money. Sometimes as many as four in a day.

Fundraising is necessary, I get that. But if you’re trying to send a message that says people before profit, it cannot be the primary thing. And it sure as shit can’t be the ONLY thing!

The sad part is, that could have, should have, been so easily fixed. Send the fundraising requests. But also other stuff. Articles of interest, links to people to follow, or hey, here’s a thought – if you want to tell people you care what they think, to a place to talk with others who also care about that issue. Or online polls. Something!

We care what you think? Ever send an email to anyone at NDP HQ? I did. Many times. Also filled out the contact form on their website more than once. Know how many times I got ANY sort of response? Once – and that was in response to a question about fundraising (so… money). The only other responses I ever got to anything were thank you’s for donations. Yes, we will be bothered to thank you and respond to queries related to money but not to anything else. Is that the sort of messaging that says people before profit? Not in  my book. Setting up an auto-responder on every email address that says thanks for your input costs nothing but a few seconds of one’s time. Nothing!

Now, admittedly, my education is in communications, and I have studied and love institutional ethnography, which is a way of looking at things a bit differently:

“Combining theory and method, IE emphasizes connections among the sites and situations of everyday life, professional practice, and policy making.” (Institutional Enthography)

…so maybe I look at the unspoken messages we were sending a little more than the average Canadian might.

But even if the average Canadian isn’t able to put their finger on why they’re experiencing contradictions in our messaging, that doesn’t negate the actual contradiction – in fact, it is more likely to undermine our messaging because “something doesn’t ring true but I can’t put my finger on it” is more likely to impact perceptions of all of our messaging from then on. It won’t be limited to just “in this specific case” … it undermines everything.

Once people don’t trust you, it really doesn’t matter what you say, does it?

There are lots of other ways that we sent the wrong messages – we don’t care what you think, and we do care more about money than people. And there were lots of easy, cheap ways we could have fixed it. Some of those emails and contact form submissions I made were actually suggestions that could have helped… but …yeah… the NDP thought they had it all in hand, and squandered our best chance ever of forming government.

Do we need a new leader? I don’t yet have an opinion on that to be honest. But we do need a leader that believes in the NDPs most basic principles and doesn’t do, or allow those around him/her to do, things that contradict them. IMO

 

Posted in Elxn42, NDP | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Simcoe North All Candidates Debate – Midland Cultural Centre

voteJacobcarrotsThose who follow my blog (ha! Hi, mom! And Stephanie!) may be surprised to hear that I am no longer ~fond~ of the NDP in Simcoe North and that, while I continue to support them federally and hope for – and work toward – an NDP government, I will not be voting NDP this time around.

Long story full of ugly shit that doesn’t matter – but the end result is that I will be voting not for the NDP candidate but instead, for Jacob Kearey-Moreland.

When Jacob’s name was first raised, as a possible candidate for the NDP in Simcoe North, I was not, actually, all that enthusiastic. From what I’d seen, and been told by others, my impression was, actually, that he was a ~bit~ flakey – and I was concerned that flake would feed into people’s already well established ‘socialists are flakes’ narratives.

But, some people I liked and respected (and yes, that past tense usage is absolutely deliberate, in case you were wondering) were really enthusiastic, so okay …will have a look, try to keep an open mind, all that good stuff. And I did. And you know what? The kid has potential.

Yes, he’s young, and yes, he’s a bit of a flake 🙂

BUT he is also engaging, smart, creative, and respectful.

Honestly, it was that respectful thing that REALLY brought me on board.

IMO, some of the conversations that were happening on social media during the nomination period were downright rude, and one person in particular was making a point of attempting to bully and belittle Jacob.

And no matter how obnoxious, rude, & disrespectful that person was, Jacob answered him with nothing but respect, tact, & charm.

When challenged (rudely), he did not retaliate, nor did he ever come back with a flippant or rude answer.

If he knew the answer to the question he gave it; if he didn’t he said so, and went and researched it and/or gave it some thought… and then he came back with an absolutely appropriate and well-thought-out response.

When the NDP – stupidly, IMO, disqualified him for no good reason the day of the nomination meeting, Jacob continued to interact respectfully, politely, and with nothing but class.

I’m sold.

Tonight I attended the All Candidates Meeting at the MCC in Midland – and Jacob was far and away the most engaging, positive and intelligent candidate there, IMO. Since the NDP is too stupid for words and intent on shooting itself in the foot in Simcoe-North, Jacob is running as an interdependent cooperative candidate.

He is running on a platform that prioritizes social justice, food security, and the common good. And transparency. And optimism. And believing that WE, not HE, has all the answers.

The rest of the candidates in Simcoe North clearly do not believe that WE have anything to offer. They and their parties know best and we should just vote for them, STFU and go away. That’s not something I’ve ever actually been good at – shutting up and going away, I mean 🙂

Jacob Kearey-Moreland is the type of politician we need  – to lead us toward reconciliation with Aboriginal nations in Canada, toward equality and fairness and social justice. And most importantly, to engage youth. NOT just as voters, but as contributors, representatives, workers, ideas generators.

Yep, I’m old, and I have voted and supported the NDP forever …doesn’t matter. I will most definitely be voting for Jacob this time around.

 

 

Posted in Elxn42, Jacob Kearey-Moreland, Simcoe North | Leave a comment

Final event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission this week

Seriously? How is that even possible? That this weekend could be the “final” event of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission just boggles my mind.

I have watched The Apology repeatedly. I have read the text. I have followed the work of the Commission.

According to the TRC website

it is time for healing

it is time for hope

it is time for respect

it is time for reconciliation

I agree. Apparently, my understanding of those words is not the same as other people’s.

I actually do understand that the scope of the TRC and therefore of this event and the report which is to be released is limited to the topic of residential schools. But pretty much all the pure and utter *&*@#$&%**%  that continues to occur around Canadian and Aboriginal issues in Canada is also related to residential schools – so how is anything reconciled?

It is time for healing.

Are we healing Aboriginal people by tossing them into jails (provincial) and prisons (federal) at every opportunity? Allowing them to die there?

giovanni xavierBy refusing their infants medical care for the lack of $40 or a health card? Yes, he died. Over $40 or a piece of plastic.

By accepting that Aboriginal people are more likely to suffer and/or die in our health care system because of ‘pervasive’ racism?

 

it is time for hope

About 36% of Aboriginal people graduate secondary school compared to about 72% among nonAboriginal Canadians.

Suicide rates?  Many times as likely as among nonAboriginal Canadians.  Up to eleven times as likely among the Inuit.

Missing and murdered women (and men)? Many times as likely as among nonAboriginal Canadians.

The Harper cons have systematically removed funding for culturally sensitive programs to help Aboriginal people over the past year or so. They say they are concerned about violence against Indigenous women (when they’re not busy telling us it is, actually, not really on their radar) – but the programs run by Aboriginal people to help those who are or were or might be homeless? Nope, can’t have those any more.

An estimated 20,000 First Nations people living on reserves across Canada have no access to running water or sewage. In addition, at any one time 110 to 130 First Nations are under boil water advisories because their municipal water is not safe to drink.

There’s a massive shortage of housing on reserves as well; so the Harper government came up with this brilliant new program that next to no one can qualify for or use. Can’t be bothered doing anything to keep the ones there are from burning to the ground though.

it is time for respect

The National Parole Board decided that a 22 year old young man dying of cancer could bloody well die without an opportunity to see his mom because while she was in prison for a murder that there is little/no proof she committed she made the ‘mistake’ of working out and now is in sufficiently good state of fitness that she could potentially outrun corrections officials if she were able to get away from them. She wasn’t permitted to travel to his funeral either, of course.    You know what? Even if she had committed that murder or some other crime, that young man did nothing wrong and he did not deserve to go through his illness without at least seeing his mom once.

button - witnessThe Canadian government continues to provide Aboriginal children with significantly less funding for services than any other Canadian child receives – and rather than doing anything to actually acknowledge or try to solve the problem, thought it would be a good idea to hire lots and lots of lawyers to repeatedly attempt to derail the work of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal Hearing.

Aboriginal children are more likely to be removed from their families than are non-Aboriginal children. They are over-represented here as well.  So, yay, no more residential schools – we just take them from their families when they’re young, or wait until they get older and then jail them. ~brilliant~

Read a comment section on an Aboriginal issue lately? Unless heavily moderated, comments on articles that have anything to do with Aboriginal Canadians are filled with racism, discrimination, and just plain old hate. Far, FAR too many Canadians don’t know the first thing about anything – but they think they know it all and they don’t hesitate to spew their filth and rage. Because, you see, it is still perfectly acceptable, in Canada, to be racist and discriminatory and hateful – as long as it is directed toward Aboriginal peoples. Hell, even our Minister for Aboriginal Affairs can’t be bothered to hide his contempt; why should Joe Blow Canadian?

it is time for reconciliation

But apparently Harper can’t be bothered to commit to attending the final event of the TRC this weekend. Silly of Canadians to expect him – after all, you never know when there might be pandas.

There are so many other stories, statistics, people we have lost… killed… thrown away…. abandoned… I could go on and on. It …disgusts? horrifies? saddens? appalls? sickens? embarrasses? … all of the above and more… me.

In the Apology, Mr. Harper said

The burden of this experience has been on your shoulders for far too long.  The burden is properly ours as a Government, and as a country.  There is no place in Canada for the attitudes that inspired the Indian Residential Schools system to ever prevail again. You have been working on recovering from this experience for a long time and in a very real sense, we are now joining you on this journey. The Government of Canada sincerely apologizes and asks the forgiveness of the Aboriginal peoples of this country for failing them so profoundly.

I agree. The burden of colonialism, of discrimination, of a lack of healing, hope, respect and reconciliation has indeed been on the shoulders of Aboriginal people and communities in Canada for far too long.

But I’m so very sorry to say that I honestly think we are a very, very long way away from healing, hope, respect, and reconciliation yet.

As all of the issues above – and so very many more – heartbreakingly show, we are SO not yet at a place where we can say that there is no place in Canada for the attitudes that inspired the Indian Residential Schools system to ever prevail again. Those attitudes remain. They are pervasive. There is so much work yet to do.

So hey…. have a “final event” of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; I wish I could be there.

But don’t kid yourself. The work is nowhere near finished.

In fact, I  think it would be a far more accurate assessment to say that it has barely begun.

Posted in Aboriginal Issues | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

MMIW “it isn’t really high on our radar, to be honest”

Yes, Mr. Prime Minister – why don’t we be honest?

The issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women is not high on your radar because the current situation is perfectly acceptable to you and your party as it is, with the probable exception that you wish that it would move off everyone else’s radar too.

In an interview with Peter Mansbridge aired today, you were asked about missing and murdered Aboriginal women and again said that there’s been plenty of research, it’s time for action, and that you ~government~ has taken strong laws to prevent and to punish ah criminal activity which a lot of this is.

And there’s the rub.

See, this is the thing, Mr. Harper. We kinda don’t want to wait until the women are missing or murdered and then punish the guys who did it. We know that the threat of being caught/punished isn’t enough to make it stop, or it would have stopped already.

I know you’re really proud of wasting billions of taxpayer money on fancy prisons to replace the residential schools you’re no longer allowed to use to destroy Aboriginal families – but seriously…

See, your plan requires that we first allow the women to be used, abused, murdered, taken ….

And it supposes that the people who commit the crimes will be caught and punished.

But Canadians like me, we aren’t so eager to have more people become statistics.

  • Not Aboriginal women.
  • Not nonAboriginal women.
  • Not Aboriginal men.
  • Non nonAboriginal men.
  • Not Aboriginal children.
  • Not nonAboriginal children.

Some of us, we actually believe that Canada can do better.

We can create healthy, prosperous & sustainable communities for our families.

We can work to end discrimination  and violence against people on the basis of  race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

You’re right that there’s been a lot of research into the issue of missing & murdered Indigenous women and in theory, you’re even right that an inquiry shouldn’t be needed. But see, here’s the thing…. we had an organization that was doing an amazing job of working on this issue. But you decided that for whatever reason (I suspect that they were starting to bring too much attention to the issue and make too much progress, but hey, maybe that’s just me being cynical) you decided that you would yank their funding and you would make those Aboriginal women shut the **** up about the whole thing by making the funding you did leave them with contingent on it.

That was mean-spirited, Mr. Harper, and absolutely against the principles you spouted in the Apology for Residential Schools – you know, where you said that there is no place in Canada for the sort of BS behaviour & attitudes that led to the whole residential schools debacle? Remember that? I’m paraphrasing of course, but whatever….

see, you took the project away from the Aboriginal women and you tossed it to a bunch of middle aged white guys. How is THAT not a prime example of colonialism, I would like to know? Have you read the working groups’ report? It’s pretty funny – and not in a good way.

Anyway, that’s what your government did, and I’m pretty sure that you were all hoping that that would be the end of the whole thing.

Aboriginal women and children would keep on becoming missing and murdered but no one that mattered would notice or care, and if they did, you’d tell them that you had it under control with your middle-aged white guy committee.

Thank God for Idle No More and for a few people in the media not under your control who were able to start getting the story out – your plan has failed.

It’s quite clear from today’s interview that you’re still hopeful though; still counting on all of us to move on and shut up about it.

I don’t think that’s going to happen, Mr. Harper. Seriously, even the Toronto Sun is on the story now. You know it’s bad when….

Anyway, I don’t know why I even bothered to address my post to you; it’s not like you care what I think. Or what any Canadian that doesn’t agree with you thinks.

Perhaps you’ll care on voting day; I live in hope.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in #idlenomore, Aboriginal Issues, Canada, Health Care, Idle no More, Inquiry, Politics, Prison, Violence against women, Women | Leave a comment

CSC Response to Ashley Smith Inquest Recommendations

in cellSo, the Federal cons and CSC have rejected key recommendations from the Ashley Smith inquest jury….. anyone surprised? Anyone?

I thought not.

It was clear throughout the Inquest that there was little motivation on their part to change anything – and, in fact, very little belief that they could change anything even if they wanted to. One of the problematic features of a corporate culture is that new people who wander into it quickly become part of it. When we heard from CSC manager types, they consistently told us that they couldn’t…didn’t have the resources… no other options… and so on and so on….

Anyway, the headline around the ‘rejection of key recommendations’ are, as one might expect, somewhat an over-simplification by the media. CSC has made – and are making – changes around this area and many others as well. Some of the issues that led to Ashley’s death are in fact being addressed…sort of.  Creative counting to avoid reviews is no longer allowed. The Institutional Head is no longer permitted to delegate/avoid responsibilities re: inmates in administrative segregation – presumably the next time they kill someone for being mentally ill, the warden & other senior managers won’t be able to claim ignorance.

Of course, many of the supposed changes re: administrative segregation are couched in what seems to me, at least, to be a thinly veiled mechanism for avoidance. They apply only to those inmates in administrative segregation “who have been designated as acute or high need intermediate care cases” – so, if we don’t feel the need to be bothered, we can just not pin that particular label on them, right?  As far as I’m concerned – and I would bet that every member of the inquest jury would agree – any inmate who is in administrative segregation should be so designated – else, what the hell are they doing in administrative segregation (since we’ve already said we’re not going to use it for punishment but only as a last resort blah blah blah…) ?

The fact that they felt the need to repeat that phrase in every single point of their approach to me says yeah, we’re not going to follow through with any of this stuff unless it suits us (and we’re pretty sure it won’t suit us). But hey, maybe I’m just a little wee bit cynical.

I could go on and on about the official response to the recommendations – but in the interests of keeping this post to a somewhat reasonable length, I won’t.

Waste of time anyway. Really, the whole exercise was a waste of time, in my opinion. The inquest jury were awesome, and their recommendations are excellent and should be followed in the spirit they were intended – but still a waste of time, energy & resources.

It began too late in the process. Years & years too late. Ashley threw apples at a mailman when she was 15 years old. She was a youth with behavioural &/or mental health issues.

Ashley Smith had a family who was highly motivated to get her help, who did everything ‘right’ given the available supports and resources and still she ended up criminalized, incarcerated for years and years beyond her initial sentence, tortured, and dead.

This is Canada, for crying out loud! Things like this are not supposed to happen here.

We have health care that is supposed to include treatment and support for mental health as well as physical. If she’d had cancer or a broken leg, we’d have been all over that.

The only way to actually get at actually using Ashley Smith’s tragic death to make sure it never happens again, to develop real recommendations that would make a difference that would not be a total waste of time, energy & resources would be to start at the beginning, not the end. An inquiry that examined  entire cases of women like Ashley Smith & Kinew James might well result in productive changes, and that is what should have happened here – but such a thing will never happen while we have governments that care ever so much more about money than about people.

It is ridiculous, actually – we spend ever so much more, in the long run – and people suffer ever so much more as well – when we do things this way. Do we actually save any money? I doubt it. How much was spent on incarcerating Ashley Smith? Add in the cost of the Inquest, and the settlement to her family.

I wonder how many young people could receive real early intervention & mental health & family support for that kind of money – a whole lot more than one seems like a pretty safe guess.

But what would be the fun in that?  The cons clearly much prefer to focus on punishing ~bad~ people – and for that to work, you have to have ~bad~ people …even if you have to go to the trouble of creating them yourself. It’s sick. It is just sick. But it is what we do when we as a society decide not to provide basic needs, not to ensure that there are opportunities for our young people, not to treat mental illness early, not to support those with special needs, not to care.

Neoliberalism at its finest.

Sick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Ashley Smith, Canada, Health Care, Inquiry, Kinew James, Prison, Violence against women | Leave a comment

My thoughts about #OttawaShooting

First things first – I feel nothing but grief and sadness for the family of Nathan Cirillo. I am so very sorry for their loss.

And for the family of Patrice Vincent. I am so very sorry for their loss.

And yes, for the family of Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, even. I am so very sorry for the horrific powerlessness and sorrow and guilt and loss that must accompany events of this past week.

I worried all day Wednesday for parents separated from their kids – I’m sure that they must have been frantic (and then some).

However…

it strikes me that

1. this was not a case of terrorism. This is a case in which a young man with serious issues asked for help, and our system(s) told him clearly that in order to get help, he would have to up the ante. So he did. Sure, it is possible that he did have some contact with ISIL – or someone else that was able to wind him up and use him to do harm – but HE ASKED FOR HELP and was rejected. More than once.

I used to work in mental health. I quit when I could no longer be part of a system that so seriously went against my own values and beliefs. See, I believe that people who have a mental illness are every bit as deserving of early intervention, treatment, & support as are those who have cancer.

I was a member of the Board of Directors of a Canadian Mental Health Association chapter – and shortly after Mr. Harris won the election in Ontario, there was a discussion about how the only funding available any more was for the “seriously mentally ill.”  No money in early intervention & support any more. That was my last meeting. I couldn’t do it.

If you don’t provide treatment early, some mentally ill people will get better all on their own. The rest won’t. If the only way to get help is to become seriously mentally ill, many will. They will lose their family supports, their livelihoods, their connections to the community – and in far too many cases, the support that can be offered by that point is pretty much useless.

It’s a hell of a lot easier to help someone get better when they are still connected – once they’ve lost everything, it’s too damn late.

It doesn’t seem all that difficult a concept to grasp to me. But hey, I’m a socialist. I believe that people are more important than money. Ridiculous, huh?

Anyway …. another part of the problem of forcing people to become seriously mentally ill and lose everything before you bother to offer any help or treatment is that sometimes, we mess up and people die.

Nathan Cirillo should not have died. Nor should Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.

MY Canada – my leftist put people first Canada – in MY Canada, we would have jumped in to offer services and support waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back when Michael first showed signs of problems. You know, while he still had his family support. While he could have benefitted.

And if that didn’t work, in MY Canada, when he begged to be locked up before he could do something bad? Maybe I would have locked him up – but knowing the serious lack of mental health supports in prisons, I probably would have tried my damnedest to find a space for him in a mental health facility instead.

In MY Canada, when people are in so much distress that they are begging for help, we would HELP THEM!!!!

Kicking them to the curb and hoping they don’t take others out with them when they go completely off the deep end is a bad plan.

It is a BAD PLAN.

This is not an isolated case.

Remember Zachary Antidormi? I do – it was days after his death that I quit.  He was stabbed to death while riding in a wagon pulled by an 11 yo girl – by a woman who had asked for help; whose family had begged for help for her; who was turned away. And I walked away from mental health, from social work…. I could not be part of any of it any more.  It broke my heart.

Remember Richard Kachkar? Killed a Toronto police officer with a snow plow? He asked for help too.  Kicked to the curb, and 35 year old Toronto Police Sergeant Ryan Russell is lost forever.

There are way, way, WAY too many cases like this… where families have begged for help for their loved ones, where people have begged for help for themselves …. and been told no, sent home …and eventually, they’ve gone on to kill someone. Or themselves.

It is just not right.

It makes me SICK – physically ill – to hear the RCMP and the cons go on about the need for increased resources for security, for spying on Canadians, for ….

MENTAL HEALTH!!!!

Take your blessed resources and put them toward providing effective services so that people don’t wind up homeless, family-less, jobless, in prison…. wandering the streets with no hope, no support, no reason to go on…and totally vulnerable to those who would use them to strike terror.

Even if the new video the RCMP so conveniently claim to have discovered does show that he was radicalized by ISIL (which I doubt, as it’s just WAY TOO CONVENIENT), Zehaf-Bibeau, had he received help when he should have, or – here’s a thought – when he begged for it, likely would not have been so vulnerable to whatever sickos decided to use him to do their dirty work.  If he was radicalized, yeah well…. you reap what you sow, eh?

And while on the subject of terror, another thought.

2. Who was it, actually, that held the city of Ottawa in lockdown; parents separated from their children; fearing for their very lives? Zehaf-Bibeau was long dead – he died shortly after shooting Cirillo. He wasn’t causing …feeding … prolonging… the terror. That was the RCMP and other assorted police forces, with more than a little help from the media.

Ask me, the only possible reason for keeping everyone so tense for so long was either that there were more bad guys, or that somewhere along the way, it was decided that this whole freaking mess could be used for political gain.

Did it REALLY take 8 – 10 hours to figure out that there was only one now-dead “terrorist”? I don’t think so. I really don’t.

Either there were more and the story that there was only one is to cover the fact that they lost them, or there was only the one, and they prolonged the whole thing to cause terror because hey, Harper and his fellow cons like terror right now – it helps to justify the whole war game they are so determined we must play.

Surely they don’t expect us to believe that they were SO incompetent as to require 8 – 10 hours to sort that out? Terrorists, indeed.

3. And the MPs that are feeling traumatized and being offered support and counselling? No, no, no…sorry! But we have it on good authority that there’s an app for that.

If it’s good enough for our vets, it’s good enough for you.

I’m sorry, truly – in fact, as I’ve indicated above, I actually think that early intervention and ongoing support for mental health issues should be a priority – but  if we can’t be bothered to support our vets, who have been through a hell of a lot more trauma than being held hostage by our own police forces (bad guy was DEAD, remember?)

The only one I think should qualify for support & counselling after that whole mess is Sgt at Arms Kevin Vickers, if he wants it…. the rest of you, download the app.

4. And on a closely related note, what is this shit with fundraising? The campaigns to raise funds for Cirillo’s son and so on? In MY Canada, there would be, should be, could be NO NEED for that. He died in uniform, in the service of Canada. Is it possible that our support for those who die in service of our country’s families could be so pitiful as to require a fund-raising drive?

Yeah – that too makes me sick.

This is not my Canada.

I am not proud.

I am – again – ashamed.

I love Canada. I want to be proud of it again. I want to be able to celebrate Canada Day again.

We need to do better. Ever so much better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Canada | 1 Comment