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This week’s Girl Talk Thursday is about getting your bitch on. Let it all out. Please note, there is more than one f-bomb in here.

I’d normally have posted yesterday, but yesterday I really didn’t have anything to bitch about. My life is pretty good. The thing I’m going to bitch about offends me deeply, on a fundamental level.

That thing happens to be Jacques Rogge. And the IOC in general.

Last night, the Canadian Women’s Hockey Team beat their US counterparts in the Olympic Gold Medal game. And I say beat rather than “won against” because the Canadian ladies blanked the US ladies 2-0. It was awesome and I am so incredibly proud of our women for dominating the game from the outset.

After the game, they got their beer on and went out onto the ice after all the spectators had left and climbed on the zamboni. And the IOC is all offended by this, and Hockey Canada, being Canadian has apologized.

NEWSFLASH: Hockey players like to drink beer after the game! Also, the sky is blue!

THEN, and OMG my blood pressure (for real this time), Jacques Rogge says something about how women’s hockey will have to become more international and widespread and not so dominated by two countries if it is to stay in the Olympics.

Really, Jacques? Really? Never mind that it took half a century for men’s hockey to become internationally competitive.

And how dare you, you arrogant prick – you couldn’t even wait until after the Olympics were said and done and let the women have their moment?

Fuck you, Jacques Rogge. You owe an apology to all female hockey players, especially the Canadian and American women, who, through no fault of their own, grew up playing with the boys and men. This is how they train. How about the IOC put money where their mouth is to encourage women in other countries to train with the men, and allow girls into boys’ leagues like they do here?

You also owe an apology to the Finnish women who are spectacular in their own right, and all the women all over the world who have fought against cultural stances that may prevent women from participating in traditionally male-dominated sports.

And you owe an apology to Canada and the US – for being so disrespectful that you can’t even let us have our moment.

Fuck you, Jacques Rogge.

First, if you haven’t read this post, you need to in order to understand where I’m coming from.

Done? Okay, so to recap: we (“the electorate”) regularly vote in and have the opportunity to vote out governments. In order to get our votes, politicians campaign and make promises and threats. More recently, there have been a lot of threats.

This, incidentally, is why President Obama was so successful – he told people what he was going to do and inspired hope rather than fear.

Also in the post linked above I asked you who should be afraid of whom.

What if I told you that it’s the politicians that should be afraid of us? After all, we have the power to vote them in and out.* But that would require voting. In the last election, somewhere around 50% voted. Maybe a little more, maybe a little less.

And by not voting, you are allowing fear to rule you – fear that you’re going to change the status quo.

So the next time there’s an opportunity to vote, think about why you’re not voting. Is it really apathy? Is it really a feeling that you can’t change anything?

Or has fear-mongering gotten the better of you and made you somewhat of a coward?

I’d encourage you to make your representatives accountable – demand service from there. Remember, they’re paid to serve you. Keep bugging them. Demand their help. Show them who’s in charge.

*Okay, so the system is a bit skewed in Canada due to the first past the post system, but the general principle applies.

So, kids, let’s talk about democracy. Because I’d rather do that than stuff diapers at the moment.

I’ll start off by saying that we (and by “we” I mean “Canadians”) live in one of the greatest countries of the world. We’ve got a nice blend of capitalism and socialism – decent health care and other social services, freedom from illegal search and seizure, and so on.

And it’s because we live in a democracy. Every four or five years (give or take – I’m not getting into how elections get scheduled here) we vote for a new government. It could be the same as before, it could be different – but each election is a chance for change.

Often, because of the way the electoral system works, there is only a change when people are good and pissed off. This is what is known as the protest vote. People come out in droves to vote because they finally have an opinion, usually about the outgoing government.

Are we good so far? Do you have my main point? That it is the electorate – citizens – that control who is in power.

Since 2001, there has been a marked change in how elections take place. Throughout campaigning, there has been an emphasis on fear. What I have noted over and over is that politicians need to tell me why to vote for them and not why I shouldn’t vote for the other guy. All they tell me is that if I vote for Candidate X, that will guarantee Armageddon.

And here I thought the Mayans said that would occur in December 2012.

Fear is politics’ commodity. It’s been effectively used before against populations: Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, various pre-democratic and democratic monarchies. It’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing: fear disguised as hope. And it is, unfortunately, being used far too oftenby politicians against citizens, in what are, ostensibly, democratic countries.

Now given that we live in a democracy, or at least a country with democratic tendencies, who should be scared of whom?

Come back later, and I’ll let you know what I think and give you a reason to unfollow me. But I have to get the roast ready for dinner now.

B.C. will introduce a harmonized sales tax of 12 per cent, replacing the PST and GST effective July 2010, Premier Gordon Campbell announced Thursday morning in Vancouver.

– Obtained from CBC Website. Article dated July 23, 2009.

“I think that before people start talking about tax increases, they should start talking about savings in their own organization,” said Campbell.

– Premier Gordon Campbell, regarding TransLink shortfall and plan for acquiring new revenues, August 1, 2009. Quote obtained from The Vancouver Sun.

Talk out of both sides of your mouth much, Mr. Premier?

The HST is effectively a tax increase for the average consumer. Many things that are now exempt from PST will see the entire new 12% tax put on it. Including things like strata fees.

Oh, and TransLink? You’re screwed.

TransLink had counted on boosting a tax on commercial parking spaces, which now brings in $18 million a year, to raise $57 million annually.

But because the parking tax is a sales tax, it is being eliminated and will be rolled into the HST when it is launched next July 1.

TransLink and transportation ministry officials were scrambling to find a way to fix the problem.

Vancouver Sun, September 3, 2009.

Good thing there’s a review of operations happening at TransLink, eh? Oh, hey, I have a suggestion for you: reduce the number of (unelected) people on that decision-making board. There are nine members. You don’t need more than 5. That’ll cut the costs pretty much in half.

Oh and if they’re not physically present for a meeting? DON’T PAY THEM. That’s right folks – they get paid even if they only have virtual attendance.

Cross-posted at Wet Coast Women.

So remember when I wrote this?

Specifically, this sentence:

Where’s my tax credit for doing what I can? Where are my chits for locally grown meats and vegetables? Why not start there where its something more tangible?

Well, there’s an opportunity now. My diaper service has a petition in the Canadian House of Commons to ask for a tax credit for those that use cloth diapers and/or use a diaper service, and to increase taxes on disposable diapers. I have a copy of the petition to sign and I’m asking for your help.

Simply put, the more signatures that are collected, the better the chance at having a tax credit implemented.

So here’s the deal: if you want to sign and you’re in the metro Vancouver/west Fraser Valley area (up to Chilliwack), I’ll meet you. We can have lunch, coffee, whatever and you can meet the poptart. I mean, with this much cuteness, how can you say no?

oh baby baby

You can leave a comment or email me at rtissues (at) gmail (dot) com.

If you’re not in the metro Vancouver Area, and you’d like to sign, you can contact the Happy Nappy Service in your area and see if you can sign.

Update: If you’re not local and have no access to Happy Nappy, or even if you are local and want to take it around to your friends/family/cloth diapering aficionados, I have a PDF of the petition. Leave a comment if you would like it sent to you. Note, the original needs to be sent back to Happy Nappy in Langley by July 31.

Cross-posted at Wet Coast Women

I thought I should get this posted before I, oh I don’t know, go into labour.

anytime, kid, anytime.

One of the dilemmas I’ve been having is diapers. I’ve been reading quite a bit about cloth diapering here and here. And I like the idea of cloth diapering. I really like it. Its good for the environment. Its better for your baby. The diapers are cute beyond belief. But I am lazy and it just seemed so much easier to throw out a disposable diaper, than to spray down diapers, wash them put in any inserts and how to use the damn things. And I was overwhelmed anyways because of a various ISSUES that made me want to drink, but oh hey, pregnancy and CAN’T.

Ice cream is a good substitute, however. Until your intestines disagree with this.

Oh and the scariness of Braxton-Hicks contractions didn’t help.

But I digress. Sort of.

I went out and bought some diapers because hello, baby on the way and I had coupons.

And then I had a shower and got a diaper cake, lovingly prepared by Sunshine. Which leads me to the current stash of disposable diapers:

diapers-003

diapers-005

diapers-009

 

 

 

 

 

And I thought, that’s not too bad – should last awhile. And then I realized that newborns go through up to 10-12 diapers per DAY. And my inner green person started feeling guilty. Because all that plastic and shit (Ha! get it?!) equals billions of years of biodegrading. Or something like that to my pregnant brain.

And there’s an extra half pack of diapers in the hospital bag along with some loose samples I received from various companies.

And so cloth diapering reared its head again. But again I am lazy and cheap. And when you’ve got more than one kid who will be using diapers, I’m positive cloth diapering is cheaper when you buy your own diapers. One kid? Not so much.

I was at the doctor’s office. There’s this counter I go past on the way to the bathroom – and there was a pamphlet for a diaper service and a sample of the diaper they supply. So I took a flyer, fondled the diaper (soft, cute, yellow) and showed the flyer to Darren, who as usual was exceedingly helpful when it came to making a decision on diapering: “So how do you feel about cloth diapering?” “You’re the one who’s going to be home. Its up to you.”

Thanks, hon.

So I crunched some numbers: disposable diapers = about $20/week. Diaper service = about $25/week. Oh and they pick up and deliver clean diapers once a week. THEY CLEAN THE DIAPERS FOR YOU.

I think it goes without saying that it appealed to my inner green lazy person.

So I ordered the diapers. They have this pre-birth delivery that consists of this:

Reusable Diapers 001

Diaper pail with charcoal filtre.

And inside is a wetbag with diapers. You line the pail with the bag, put the diapers in your changetable and done.

 

Reusable Diapers 005And they’re yellow and adorable.

Now I just need some diaper covers.

 

 

This shipment arrived the day I was writing my last post about how adequate and accessible pre- and post-natal care for expectant mothers and their babies make for healthier communities.

In the industrialized world, we’re very much aware of the environmental impact of our actions. Its just unfortunate that the costs of making better environmental choices, community choices (and if you want to get all political-sciencey, choices in the interest of the public good) are a damn sight more expensive than the disposable choices. If you’re having to pay for medical insurance, or god forbid, medical care because you have no insurance, you’re not able to make those choices.

That $5/week difference may mean the difference between:

  • cloth diapers and food on the table
  • cloth diapers and medical insurance
  • cloth diapers and medical care.

This may be a bit of a weak link, but I can tell you now that if I had to pay for medical insurance vs. cloth diapers? I’d choose the medical insurance.

Because I don’t have to worry about medical insurance, I’m in a position where I can make the choice that is better for my community – I can afford that extra fee and make it easy on myself to make that choice.

There are many direct and indirect benefits of providing accessible medical care. And this might just be one of them.

While 69% of the Canadian population agrees with the Governor General’s choice to prorogue Parliament, I don’t fall into that statistic. Frankly, I think it sucks and in this case sets a very dangerous precedent: allowing a government that has lost the confidence of the house to avoid a confidence vote.

(More later when I don’t feel quite so deathlike – I can only hope the “it hurts to breathe and hurts more to cough” goes away by tomorrow; yes I have been to the doctor who says its viral, and since I’m knocked up, I can’t take anything to make me more comfortable).

Today, Governor General Michaelle Jean is flying back from her state visit to Europe to deal with this constitutional crisis we find ourselves in.

(Okay, I was wrong – it wasn’t the day before yesterday that the government fell; it’ll probably be this Monday. But that’s only because our ever-lovin’ Prime Minister postponed a vote on that item).

Unless you haven’t been keeping up with the news, there’s a bit of a problem in Ottawa. In the words of NDP Leader, Jack Layton, “We have a government that fails to act … the government has lost confidence. It has lost the confidence of the people of Canada, and the confidence of this parliament.”

So essentially, with the support of the Bloc Quebecois, the Liberal party and the NDP could depose the Conservative minority government. Conceivably. But let’s ask a couple of questions. First, would a party that is a separatist party ever ally with federalists? More importantly, would federalists ever ally with a separatist party?

The answer, it seems, is yes. (AND OMGWTF???)

My opinion: I don’t like the Conservatives. I kind of liked Jack Layton and the NDP. I generally don’t mind the Liberals (except for Stephane Dion, who just strikes me as Another Crazy French Guy). And I certainly don’t like the Bloc.

And now, the NDP, Liberals and the Bloc have gotten into bed together. The NDP and the Liberals want to govern in a coalition, with the Bloc providing a support role (and without that support role, this coalition will fail. Fast).

I have nothing in principle against coalition governments. In fact, I think they’re kind of interesting, and properly run, can be really effective in providing checks and balances in our system. I have a problem with THIS coalition. HOW DARE YOU ally with a party that wants to tear my country apart?

The Liberals have everything to lose; the NDP are clapping their hands with glee over a power-sharing deal; and the Bloc are going straight to the bank with this one. The Bloc’s agreed to support the coalition in confidence issues (read: budget and money bills) and vote how it damn well pleases anytime else.

Now, think about this: the Bloc’s only source of political power are the votes from Quebec as they don’t run anywhere else. Presumably, most Bloc MPs want to be re-elected. What this means is that the instant a vote (confidence or otherwise) is against Quebec interests, they will vote against it. Think about it. How much do YOU trust them?

But if these three parties take down the government, and there’s no coalition, its likely that we’ll go to election. Again. Rock: get in bed with separatists; hard place: election 8 weeks after the last one.

Remember awhile back when I talked about the Canadian Alliance? And how in the 90s it captured the west with “the west wants in”? The other problem with this coalition is that it effectively alienates the west again (which votes mostly conservative – the BC interior and Alberta especially).

So what does this mean? Right now, there is no clean way out of this and it all falls to the Governor General. When she gets back to Ottawa today, she’ll have some decisions to make. It it likely that by tomorrow, she’ll receive a request from the Prime Minister to prorogue Parliament (don’t let that word scare you, it just means suspend). This is her prerogative, however if she were to allow a prorogation, it makes Harper look like he’s running from a bad situation and effectively stops Parliament from being able to do anything for a couple of months.

So if there’s no prorogue, then there’s going to be a confidence vote on Monday and it is likely the government will fall. After that, the Governor General has a couple of choices:

1. Dissolve Parliament and call an election: there’s no appetite for that in Canada. Its too soon. Its also political suicide for the coalition parties.

2. Ask the Liberal/NDP/Bloc-supported coalition to govern: this one makes my skin crawl, and not because its the most likely scenario. I cannot condone a coalition that includes party that wants to tear this country apart.

I’d like door number 1, please.

Canadians, what would you do, pray tell, if I asked if you wanted to vote for your national government, again?

Because there’s a damn good chance we’ll be heading for a January election. Minister Flaherty released a fall fiscal update, and Nation, its not good (but you knew that). One of the issues involves a fiscal matter which is automatically a confidence vote: scrapping public subsidies for political parties; this would financially cripple every party (except the Tories, of course):

“The onus now is really on Prime Minister Harper to consider his options, to consider his situation,” said Liberal House leader Ralph Goodale. “He’s put a so-called plan before Canadians this afternoon. It’s not a plan to bolster the economy. It is a plan to hide a deficit. It’s not acceptable and he should reconsider his position.”

But the opposition is particularly vexed at the one tiny spending cut Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced Thursday: A proposal to eliminate a taxpayer subsidy paid to each political party. Parties can receive a subsidy of $1.95 per year for each vote they receive in a general election.

Though the Conservatives receive the biggest subsidy – about $10 million a year – because they won the most votes, that subsidy only accounts for about one-third of the party’s annual revenue. For the Liberals and the Bloc Quebecois, the subsidy amounts to about two-thirds of their annual revenues. The subsidy makes up about half of the NDP and Green party’s annual revenue.

I’m not going to discuss it here, but suffice it to say this is dangerous ground.

There’s going to be a confidence vote on Monday. By Monday afternoon we may have no government, or if the opposition parties can suck it up, a coalition government. Or, worst-case scenario, the second-place Liberals will be given a chance to govern.

Jean Chretien is being called in to broker a deal to get rid of Stephane Dion before the May leadership convention. In order to get rid of him before then he has to resign or pass away. Really.

Jack Layton cancelled plans to come here to talk to the other oppositon parties about forming a coalition.

The longest a coalition government will last is about a month. Tops.

So, Canadians, are you ready to choose again in January?

If I had to pick one word to characterize the results of the Canadian election, it would be “anticlimactic.” We’re basically in the same boat. These are the results (courtesy of the Election Prediction Project):

    • Conservatives 143
      Liberal 76
      Bloc Quebecois 50
      NDP 37

    (Numbers corrected per Katie’s comment below -I accidentally copied the Eleciton Prediction Project’s prediction, not the actual result)

      And people are a bit pissed off at Stephen Harper for calling an election early. Straight from Katie’s blog (who is far more eloquent on it than I could be, for reasons you’ll see below):

      I think it’s a bunch of crap that Steven Harper called this election, a full year before it was due, in the first place. $290 million tax payer dollars were spent on this fiasco, funding the slam campaigns, slanderous television ads, and incessant telemarketer style phone calls.

      Well, yes. It was a year early. And probably a bad idea to call it. And I hate to say it, but it would have happened anyways. Harper got together with the other leaders, and they all decided they couldn’t work together. Depending one whose perspective you adopt (a) Harper got scared and wanted to reinvigorate his mandate, or (b) the opposition parties refused to work with the conservatives.

      Either way, the answer leads to the same answer: there would have been a confidence vote at some point, likely in the fall, that would have failed. And then there would be an election anyways. The money would have been spent anyways.

      In My Not So Humble Opinion.

      I can’t say I’m surprised at the result. The day after the election was called, I said, “Its going to be another Conservative minority.”

      And I’m happy about that. I like minority governments in the system we have. They provide another level of check and balance in our rather fucked up system (where one party can get about 8% of the popular vote and 51 seats – the Bloc – because they have the necessary concentration of votes and another party gets about 7% of the popular vote and can’t get one seat because they run candidates all across the country – the Green party). Minority governments, here, force the party in power to negotiate with the other parties and adapt their policies so that they get closer to meeting the needs and desires of the rest of the population.

      Minority governments are a bit of an aberration here (and in England). They have a deeper meaning when they occur again and again: that the electoral system is screwed and needs changing; that the traditional parties aren’t meeting changing needs and desires. So why doesn’t anyone try to fix this?

      Well, the BC Liberals tried to a few years ago by introducing a Single Transferrable Vote (STV) system for referendum on a provincial level. Other than sounding like a sexually-transmitted disease, what is an STV system? Simply put:

      The Single Transferable Vote (STV) is a system of preferential voting designed to minimize wasted votes and provide proportional representation while ensuring that votes are explicitly expressed for individual candidates rather than for party lists. It achieves this by using multi-seat constituencies (voting districts) and by transferring all votes that would otherwise be wasted to other eligible candidates. STV initially allocates an elector’s vote to his or her most preferred candidate and then, after candidates have been either elected or eliminated, transfers surplus or unused votes according to the voter’s stated preferences.

      STV is used in places like Scotland, Ireland, and New Zealand (clicky the link above for more detail – I’m not going into it here because that’s a whole other post in itself)

      STV would have been a good thing – it provides a balance of proportional representation, without losing any votes. Its considered a happy medium between the first past the post system (current system) and proportional representation.

      In BC in 2005, the referendum required 60% of the vote to pass. This is what happened:

      A variation of STV known as BC-STV came within three points of meeting the 60% threshold the government had set for adoption in British Columbia in a 2005 referendum, but it will be put to the voters a second time in 2009.

      People demand more representation and fairness in how legislative seats are allocated, then they vote down a change to the system designed to do just that?

      Hello? McFly? Anybody home?

      So BC-ites, next year when we go to the provincial polls, vote for whoever you want, and then vote YES for STV. Because it may provide an example to Ottawa of a way to fix the fucked up federal system.


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