Thursday, March 30, 2006
There are a couple of things Melissa wrote that I would like to respond to more specifically, as they are examples of some of the myths and misunderstandings I've referred to before, simply because most people are missing information.
I think most of the people, including me, are in an uproar about the seal killings because a lot of it is done by bludgeoning the seal repeatedly on the skull. Even a hunter would have to agree it is not the most humane way to kill something. In fact, it's horrific.
Well, yes, the sight of a hunter brandishing the hakipik (sp?) and crushing the skull could be considered horrific. It's up close and personal, for starters, and from a visual perspective, yes, you would be right.
But is it less humane than using a rifle? No. While I am no marksman, my husband is, and he'll be the first to tell you just how hard it is to hit a small target - especially one that moves. Add in the fact that the hunters are on bobbing on the water , the challenge is even greater. The use of a rifle may or may not result in instant death. It depends on many variables.
A number of years ago I'd read a report that put together the results of various independant groups studying seal hunt methods, including the Humane Society of Canada (not at all affiliated with the HSUS), that came to the conclusion that the quickest, most humane method used in the seal hunt is the traditional hakipik. Done properly, death is instantaneous (with a reminder to those that claim seals are being skinned alive, that bodies will continue to twitch, sometimes long after they're dead). For me, this supports my own personal experiences in other areas. There are times when the rifle is the best, most efficient way to hunt. There are times when it is not.
The key, of course, is the words "done properly." Whatever the hunters find themselves having to use, I believe it's important that they are required to actually know how to use them, and that they use them in an efficient and responsible manner. As I've read acknowledged before, there's no such thing as 100% compliance. That's true of all things. This is why the government has its own observers, doing what they can to ensure the idiot count is kept low.
As I have read from several sources, most of them bludgeon the animals with a club and then take the hide and leave the carcass to decay in the sun.
The use of the hakipik I've just covered, but I would question the claim that "most of them" take the hide and leave the carcass to decay in the sun. To begin with, I find it unlikely that"most" hunters, who rely on these hunts, would leave behind a source of food and other income producing materials. The omega 3 oil of seals, for example, is a growing market, as the oil is found to be superiour to that from other sources. It's a wasteful behaviour that I normally associate with trophy "hunters," or those sorry excuses for "hunters" that caused so many problems in the area I grew up in. I'm sure it happens, but "most hunters?" That, I question.
There's also the "decay in the sun" part. This, I would also consider unlikely to be a problem. Even the far north has its scavengers. Any remains left behind would soon be gone, filling the bellies of other animals. I doubt these bodies would have much time to decay - assuming they remained unfrozen long enough to begin the decaying process in the first place, which is also unlikely.
However, I have to say I am not overly sympathetic if people have to survive financially on the selling of animal skins. A lot of people have it hard in this world and need to adjust in order to make it. Maybe it's time to learn a new trade.
You are right. A lot of people have it hard in this world and need to adjust. It is difficult, but such is life. This suggestion, however common it is (and not just towards the seal hunt), has its own problems.
It is adjusting with changes that those who live in the far north are trying to do. People have lived and thrived there for 1000's of years, living a traditional, subsistance way of life that was interrupted by the influx of European explorers and settlers and their concepts of money and finances. The natives, forced to end many of their traditional ways, adjusted and survived. They've done so for the last 300 years, with variable success. Now, it's almost impossible to live a fully traditional lifestyle. Income is needed, but there are almost no jobs at all. Would we really want the sort of infrastructure needed to create them in the far north anyways? I live in a city now, and for me, getting a job was a simple as dropping off a resume at the local grocery store. Before I lived in city, I had farther to go, but I still had some choices - hotels, gas stations, stores, etc. Do we really want these things in the north? I don't. The environment is too fragile. Traditional subsistance methods, modified to meet the needs of modern life, would be more responsible, and that means people earning incomes independantly, using local resources, not by having jobs. Hunting has far fewer negative effects than other possibilites, including the suggestions of eco-tourism. The last thing the far north needs is an influx of boats, helicopters, planes and garbage strewing tourists.
The alternative is for them to leave the north, and surely there are many who do. But does that make life any better? There are plenty of examples around the world, as well as in our own Canadian cities, where people leave their traditional homes and lives in search of jobs. The transistions are very difficult, and many of these people live in extreme poverty. Depression, illness, substance abuse and criminal activities become rampant. It can be done successfully, but at great cost. I won't even start on the emotional/psychological pain being forced to leave can have. It's been almost 2 decades since I've left the farm, and I still feel it.
There's another side of the problem too, of course. A recent incident keeps popping into my mind when I read these sort of sentiments. I was serving a customer at work and, like just about everyone else, he commented on the large amounts of snow we'd just had. After a winter of almost no snow at all, I'd responded with how the farmers must be glad of it, as we need the moisture. The customer answered (to paraphrase), "I'm not a farmer, so I don't care. I don't want the snow."
Having grown up on the farm, I do care. I forget how easy it is for people who know nothing about farm life to forget how important farms are. To them, food is something you get at a grocery store. Many couldn't care less if it was from a local farmer, or imported from half way around the world. More than anything else, however, they have *no idea* how important farms are to them and their comfortable city lives. Unfortunately, like the traditional hunters, more and more farmers are having to struggle, while at the same time being attacked for their livelihoods. Farmers who raise animals are accused of cruetly from people who don't know the sacrifices they make to keep their charges as healthy and content as possible and still make a living. Farmers who grow crops are accused of environmental damage, even as they are forced to use ever more chemicals or genetically modified seed, just to make a living. Traditional hunters and trappers are especially vilified for what they do.
Let us imagine, for a moment, what would happen if all these people decided to do as suggested by so may - to stop what they're doing and find another politacally correct way to live. If every struggling farmer gave up and moved to the towns and cities. If every hunter and trapper did the same. What would happen?
Would all farms have to become huge corporate entities? Would we have to begin importing all our food? Would our government have to step up culling of wild life as populations burgeon and animal attacks increase? What would happen to the local economies that depend on supplying their needs and buying their products? What would happen to the environment, if there's no one there to see first hand the warning signs, as our northern peoples are right now? People are busy complaining about the seal hunt, which has so little negative effect on the world, while ignoring what the hunters have been saying for years - that the ice floes are smaller and melting faster, that polar bears are going hungry because they can no longer reach their food sources, that people can't even build igloos anymore because the snow itself has changed, and so on. This is damage *we* may be causing - when northern animals are found to have toxic pollutants in their bodies, it's not because of the people who live there. It's because of us.
It's far too simplistic to say, "just do something else."
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Sovereigntists promote separation in schools
Publish teachers' guide to independence
MONTREAL — The blue Fleur-de-lis flies over a torn Maple Leaf in Activity One of a new lesson plan aimed at helping teachers promote Quebec independence, setting the tone right from kindergarten in a book launched by leading sovereigntists on Wednesday.
There is little chance Let’s Talk about Sovereignty at School will find its way soon into the official Quebec curriculum, but the publisher has run off thousands of copies in French with the help of a grant from the government of Canada.
Yes, you read that right. Thanks to our former government, our tax dollars were used to promote materials to brainwash children and help break up our country!
The book’s promoters, including a leading sovereigntist group and publishing house Les Intouchables, hope teachers will shell out $9.95 for a series of ideas to push their cause in the classroom.
Here's hoping those teachers aren't willing to fork over their own cash for this!
The first lesson suggests elementary school students prepare decorations for Fete nationale — a major holiday and a rallying point for Quebec nationalists.
Artwork by a child shows smiling revellers admiring a Quebec flag cutting through the Maple Leaf, with a traditional Fete nationale bonfire burning in the background.
The publishers insist the book is not propaganda but is meant as a counter-balance to reams of federal propaganda they argue stream into Quebec classrooms commemorating events like the Terry Fox Run or the anniversary of the RCMP.
“Unlike those things, this document is transparent, it does not hide behind any pretext,” said Gerald Larose, president of the Conseil de la souverainete.
According to Mr. Larose, the Terry Fox Run, now an international event that's helped raise millions of dollars to help battle cancer, and the anniversary of the RCMP, Canada's national police force, are nothing more than hidden federal propaganda!!
The professionalism of teachers will ensure the document is not used as propaganda, Larose said, but as a tool to spark debate and make children think about politics and civic affairs.
We're talking about kids in *kindergarten* here! That's not "sparking debate." That's brainwashing, molding future little seperatists, regardless of what their parents actually want.
There are no plans to publish the book in English.
Go figure. Anyone who tried would probably be arrested for breaking Quebec's language laws or something, anyways.
Quebec’s education minister mocked the lesson plan as a publicity stunt to raise funds for the independence group.
Quebec Premier Jean Charest took the matter more seriously, saying the attempt to indoctrinate children is scandalous.
“I’m stunned and disappointed that there are still people in Quebec that think this way,” Charest told the legislature in Quebec City.
“It’s like something we have already seen in the old countries of eastern Europe. It’s scandalous, what’s in that book.”
I'm glad the Mr. Charest is taking this seriously. This sort of manipulation of children is disgusting. It's right up there with the day care workers using their charges to hold placards at demonstrations.
Several lessons in the book deal with the many ways the government of Canada intrudes on Quebec provincial affairs. The guide also describes the ways Quebec’s contribution to federal coffers are blown on the Queen, the Governor General, the army, and other institutions.
Hmmm... let's just forget the billions of taxpayers' dollars that have been funnels to Quebec of the last several decades, propping up companies like Bombardier, or moving company headquarters to Quebec, even when other cities had made better bids or make more business sense, or the subsidizing of their daycare system (a moneypit that should send any fiscally responsible person running screaming at the mere mention of a "national" daycare system), etc. Oh, and we'll just continue to ignore the draconian French language laws that prevent the use of English, even while the rest of Canada is expected to be bilingual.
Inuit fear repeat of boycott that drove some to suicide
CanWest News Service; with files from The Canadian PressWednesday,
March 29, 2006.
IQALUIT, Nunavut - Two dozen kilometres from his home in Iqaluit, Kowmagiak Mitsima threads his snowmobile across the jumbled sea ice of Frobisher Bay, heading for a line of open water in the distance that marks where the seals are.
Mitsima makes the journey several times a week, towing a small fibreglass boat, which he will lower into the frigid water to pluck the seals out after shooting them.
"I've been killing them since I was seven years old," he says, resting his rifle on a chunk of ice to wait for a seal to surface.
"I get them as much as I can, about 100 plus a year. I give sealskin to my aunts. They make something out of it, make kamiqs or pants. I eat the seal meat -- frozen, boiled, dried," he says.
"I'm not really crazy about (grocery store meat). It doesn't give you much energy at all. They got low fat, those chickens."
Decades ago, a full-time hunter like Mitsima would hardly have been unusual. But today, few in Nunavut have the cash to pursue a traditional lifestyle. It is a lingering effect of protests that decimated the northern seal hunt 30 years ago -- and the reason why Inuit today are worried and angry that southern protests are once again attacking their way of life.
The latest salvo came from Pamela Anderson, who requested an audience with Prime Minister Stephen Harper to protest a hunt she called "barbaric."
But if Anderson, a member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is the silver screen's newest face of seal-hunt protest, it is Brigitte Bardot, the French actress who catapulted the seal hunt to infamy 30 years ago, who still evokes the most hatred in Nunavut.
"I don't think I will ever forgive a person like Brigitte Bardot," says Peter Irniq, the territory's former commissioner. "She caused a lot of people to commit suicide in the '70s after her campaign."
For thousands of years, the Inuit lived or died by the animals they hunted, which provided their infrastructure, tools and diet. Seals were especially important. Inuit sewed their skins into waterproof mitts, kamiqs and parkas and feasted on their dark, nutrient-rich meat.[snip]
In 1977, at the height of the trade, they sold 48,000 skins at an average price of $25 each. That year, Bardot posed with a white-coated harp seal to protest a hunt she called inhumane, creating an image that ignited a worldwide furor over the seal hunt.
Inuit, recognizing the potential impact to their own way of life, travelled to Europe to argue against the protesters. But their efforts were largely ineffective, and the seal market collapsed.
By the mid-1980s, skins were selling for 50 cents apiece, and Inuit had all but stopped hunting them for profit.
For many Inuit, "that was their sole source of income and when it dried up so did the income," said Glenn Williams, an Iqaluit city councillor who was a fisheries officer when the seal market collapsed. "There were people who could not afford to buy gas anymore, couldn't afford to go out on the land."
Suddenly, ancient Inuit ways were no longer economically compatible with a modern lifestyle.
"It had a devastating impact on not just the economy, but a way of life and food procurement that was absolutely central to Inuit culture," says Frank Tester an associate professor of social work at the University of British Columbia who has written on Inuit social history.
"All the ritual, cosmology, belief system, mythology -- that comes from hunting. And when Inuit are no longer hunters because something has happened that makes it difficult, if not impossible, to hunt, then you're having a huge impact on people.
"It would be like our culture -- suppose in 10 years we were thrown out of wage employment and into hunting and gathering. What do you think we'd look like? We'd be a mess."
Today, Nunavut is plagued by diabetes, soaring domestic abuse and one of the highest suicide rates in the western world -- issues the people say are at least partly linked to the demise of the seal trade.
"A lot of men no longer had a lot of things to do in those days -- no jobs," said Irniq. "So a lot of them committed suicide."
The territory has attempted to revive a hunting culture. This year, it will pay $2.8 million to a program that buys tools and transportation for hunters like Mitsima, enabling him to feed his family.
But Nunavut had begun to hope that a re-emergence of the seal market could remove the need for such funding.[snip]
Irniq says if environmental groups truly cared about wildlife, they would focus on an issue that is a serious concern for Inuit: climate change, which is thinning the northern ice and hampering the ability of northerners to survive.
"If we don't do anything about global warming we're all going to be in serious trouble," he says.
"Including the seals and including Brigitte Bardot."
The reality is that the many of the people who are most in tune with the environment - and most concerned about the effects humans are having on it - are traditional hunters, not environmentalists. These are people who are more intimate with the environment than anyone else. Their livelihoods depend on the health every aspect of it, and are more likely to see the effects of environmental damage first hand, long before researchers even know where to look. Unfortunately, it's the McCartney's, the Bardot's and the Andersons that tend to get the publicity.
Another article I read today had a quote I found very interesting.
OTTAWA -- Canada's Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn swung back at anti-sealing celebrities such as Pamela Anderson and Paul McCartney, suggesting they're has-beens and calling them dupes for lucrative animal rights groups.
"They use poor old people like McCartney and Pamela Anderson and Brigitte Bardot," Hearn said yesterday outside a government caucus meeting.
"Some of them haven't got a clue what they're doing. They think this is a great cause and they are just being used. I pity them."I believe Mr. Hearn is completely correct - these celebrities *are* being used, much the same way former PM Martin used his "friendship" with Bono to further his own career. I like to think they mean well, but that they are greatly misinformed (though with the McCartneys also being vegetarian, I suppose they'd be against any form of hunting, anyways). Unfortunately, their actions cause a great deal of harm, not only to the very animals they are trying to protect, but also to their environment, and to the people who depend on them.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
"As a proud Canadian who frequently travels abroad, I am alarmed that people are starting to see Canada as a country more beholden to a pack of greedy hunters and to the seal-skin 'fashion' whims of a few countries than to the massive international outcry against the hunt," Anderson, a vocal member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said in a letter faxed to Harper's office.
I can't say anything about the fashion whims of other nations, but the use of the term "greedy hunters" is what bothers me. Greedy? Only a person who has no idea what it's like to make a subsistance living can make that sort of claim. It's another example of people protesting when they really have no idea what they are talking about. Mind you, I wouldn't expect a member of PETA to even care to find out, since their goal seems to be the elimination of humans anyways.
I do understand that a lot of people who protest things like the seal hunt and other forms of hunting do mean well. If I had the knowledge they have, I'd probably feel the same way. As I mentioned in my previous post, however, I have more information available to me. Here's one example.
My sister and her husband are farmers. They used to run a dairy farm (they've since switched to beef). They grew most of their own feed, pastured their own animals, rotating their fields on a regular basis to ensure the land was never overtaxed by crops or grazing. They have extensive acreage that includes quite a lot of bush, just like all the farms surrounding them. There's lots of wildlife.
For years, my BIL (like many other farmers in the area) maintained a trap line for coyotes. The coyote population wasn't really that excessive at the time, and they tended to be solitary animals. It was rare to see them in packs. Meanwhile, the furs brought in a bit of extra income, and what farmer in Canada can't use some extra income?
People who were against the trapping of these animals successfully lobbied the municipality to ban trapping. These people meant well, of course. Trapping can be a painful way to die, though it's a relative thing. Wild animals don't usually die of old age, after all - they are usually killed by other animals, or by starvation and disease. Still, these people meant well. Unfortunately, they also forgot one important detail.
People are part of the balance of nature, too.
Within a surprisingly short time, the numbers of coyotes skyrocketed, and their behaviour changed dramatically. Suddenly, there were packs of coyotes everywhere. A solitary coyote will hunt smaller animals - rabbits, raccoons, etc. A pack, however, will hunt larger game, such as deer. That doesn't mean they're always successful, however. Farmers began finding the remains of deer that had obviously gotten away from the packs and dies much later of grevious wounds. The packs also started going after much easier game - cattle. The cows, after all, are fenced in and can't really get away. To a beef or dairy farmer, the well being of their cattle is paramount. Their livelihood depends on them. Other domestic animals were endangered as well, as were the children living on these farms.
Soon, the municipality was forced to admit that banning the trap lines was a mistake and reinstated them. My BIL, frustrated by such actions, never did start up again. Instead, he "sold" his line to a local Native who maintained several trap lines in the area. Before long, balance was restored. The coyote population returned to sustainable levels, and once again became mostly solitary animals that kept other populations (the rabbits and the raccoons, again), in check.
This incident reminded me once again of the detail so many seem to either ignore or forget. While it's certainly true we humans cause problems and should behave more responsibly, we are still part of the equation - a vital part of the balance of nature. Extreme groups like PETA would have us believe that getting rid of humans would solve all the world's problems, forgetting that we too play our part in the earth's balancing act.
Monday, March 27, 2006
The visiting crew would always set up a perimiter around the sub. This was standard practice. No one could come inside that perimeter. One time, a visiting sub happened to be docked near the ship my husband was posted to at the time, so our ship's crew had a clear view of the US sub from our own deck.
Of course the protesters, in an inflatable Zodiac, tried to cross the perimeter. Whenever an incident occurs, even if it's directed somewhere else, the security officers of our ships have to keep an eye on things, and I was able to get a first hand description of what happened. The US personelle met the protestors in their own boat and, using log poles with hooks on the end (similar to a tool log drivers use to manouver floating logs), tried to push the protesters back. In the process, they accidentally punctured their craft. The protesters tried to get back to shore as their craft began to sink, and the watching Canadians launched their own rescue vessels and got the protesters safely to shore. The whole thing was, in the opinion of the security officer, quite amusing.
Having heard the story the day it happened, I looked forward to reading about it in the next day's paper.
Sure enough, the story was there - but what the protesters described was light years off from what was witnessed! They described and aggressive attack by the US crew, claiming, among other things, that they actually drove their own boat over the bow of the protester's Zodiac, and they pointed to a crack in the windshield (duely photographed for the article) as their proof. The story they told was so wildly different from what I'd just had described to me by witnesses the night before, it was as though they were describing a completely different incident altogether! Nothing they said matched what really happened!
All this was printed in the article, with absolutely no corroborating evidence. No other witnesses were sought out or questioned. The newspaper took the protesters' word at face value.
Ever since this incident, I've found myself completely unable to trust any claims made by any protest group. Over the years, I've seen numerous other instances were claims made by protest groups were obviously false - instances where I myself had first hand knowledge to the contrary, and others where I knew people far more knowledgable of the facts involved.
Thoughts of these incidents came to mind again as I read some of the stories protesters of the seal hunt are telling to the media. The RCMP are there (and making arrests), but no one is asking them. Of course, no one's asking the hunters themselves. Other observers are also present. The hunt is closely monitored by the government, the Canadian Humane Society, and others. None of these people are being asked what they saw.
My feelings are the same when I read about people's claims about what the big bad Americans are supposedly doing in Iraq. It's the same when I hear what groups like PETA and Greanpeace have to say.
If I want to know what's really happening, I want to hear it from somewhere else. I'll take the comments by a soldier who's in Iraq, or that of someone who's from Iraq, over the protesters' any day, just as I'll take the word of, say, a veternarian that inspected horses at a PMU ranch over the claims PETA and other groups make agains them, and so on. It's because I've seen the other side too often - seen the lies and manipulation of the media. Experience has taught me to do this.
I just wish I didn't see it so often.
A great big virtual raspberry to the CPT and the hostages themselves for not having enough class to at least say thankyou to their rescuers, and instead using the tragedy to grandstand and try to pin blame on the US for them being kidnapped in the first place.
Friday, March 24, 2006
Today, the seal hunt officially started, and the McCartney's seem to be amazed, seeing as how they personally came out in an attempt to convince the government to stop the hunt. Of course, they only succeeded in embaressing themselves - first by Sir Paul's saying they were in Newfoundland when they were actually in New Brunswick, then by his wife's boorish behaviour. They got their photo op with a cute whitecoat (never mind that it's illegal to hunt whitecoats in the first place. That whitecoat was in more danger from them and the media than from hunters). The Canadian government kindly chose not to charge them for breaking the law, seeing as how it's illegal to interfere with marine mammals in Canada. Perhaps if the little cutie hadn't missed when it snapped at Mrs. McCartney, they wouldn't be quite so sympathic, but then, who knows.
And now they're back in the news. They've asked people to boycott Canadian seafood, claim the boycott is already taking effect, and that it's costing Canada more than the seal hunt takes in. Not that they've taken the time to find out just how important the seal hunt is to indigenous peoples, to maintaining cod stocks, or the preventing overpopulation of seals and the environmental damage they're causing. Cod aren't as cute as whitecoats, and it's much hard to pose next to one for pictures.
I found this part of the ariticle interesting.
Roger Simon, an official with the federal Fisheries Department, said at a briefing for hunt observers that the government isn't overly concerned about what appears to be increasing momentum for the protest.
He said there only seems to be more because of high-profile appeals by the McCartneys and by former French actress Brigitte Bardot.
"It's the McCartney effect," Simon said.What he's acknowledging is that the mere presence of celebrities to a cause is enough to give the perception that lots of people actually care one way or another. It's publicity, nothing more.
Well, hunters are now asking for their own boycott, though it wouldn't be of any effect until next year. They're asking helicopter companies and the like to refuse to take protestors out to the ice floes. As it is, "the major fuel supplier at the only airport on Iles de la Madeleine has already agreed not to refuel helicopters carrying hunt protesters."
Here's hoping. The McCartney's claim that Canada is loosing its reputation over the seal hunt. If we are, I'd say it has more to do with people like them spreading myths, misinformation and lies about the hunt, and not because of the hunt itself.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Many of her lifelong fans in France turned away from her in 2003 with the publication of her book Un Cri dans Le Silence. It attacked Islam, homosexuals, the unemplyed and illegal immigrants, and called for a return of the guillotine. She ended up in court and was fined $7000 for inciting racial hatred.
Yeah, we'll just change our policies on how we run our country based on the ideals of someone like this. We'll get right on that.
Oh, and for anyone who wants to know what's really going on with the seal hunt in Canada, as upposed to the myths and lies perpetuated by the likes of Ms. Bardot and the b.s. put out by groups like the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, you might want to check out this link. http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/seal-phoque/myth_e.htm
And if you've got images of cute cuddly baby harp seals stuck in your mind, check out this one
http://www.katu.com/stories/76832.html It may help remind people that seals are very big, very dangerous, very successful predators. Of course if you Google the words "seal hunt," these aren't the sites you're likely to find.
Of course, Ms. Bardot is hardly the only celebrity that tries to impose their own pet projects onto countries, seemingly expecting that their very celebrity is enough to cause national leaders to cow-tow to them (and seemingly just as surprised when they don't). With our last PM hamming it up for the cameras with U2's Bono not to long ago, we've found ourselves the brunt of his lectures on his pet projects, too. A message to Bono. Former PM Martin was most likely using you to boost his own career. That, and we don't need you to tell our government what it should do with *our* tax dollars. Our former gov. has wasted quite enough of it already. Give our new gov. a chance to clean and repair out own backyard. Then maybe we can start looking at helping other countries.
It's never difficult to find stories about celebrities who try to use their fame to influence others. Of course, like any other voting citizen, celebrities have every right to do what they can for what they believe in. Examples of celebrities that walked the talk include the late Ronald Reagan and governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura. Love them or hate them, these are celebrities who used their fame to make a difference. Considerably different from the puffed up egos that don't even bother to take the time to learn all the facts, mug for the cameras while spouting platitudes, then seem to be offended because us ordinary folks don't drop down, fawning all over them, and doing what they tell us just because they're famous.
Being a celebrity, in and of itself, isn't enough. Give us some meat on those bones, and maybe we'll find you worth listening to.
Friday, March 17, 2006
While I believe that the decisions we made for our family are the right ones, even when doubts creep in (and they always will), and believe that there are others who would be much happier if they made decisions similar to ours, we also recognise that for some families, the choices we've made would be totally wrong for them.
Which is why the child care issue is so important to me. My children are well beyond the age of daycare, and the Conservative plan of $1200 a year per child means nothing for us. We are, however, part of a community, and that community includes families off all types and children of all ages. Some of these families have made choices very much like our own, choosing partenting practises similar to ours, choosing to have a parent at home, choosing to home school. Others parent differently, live differently, and choose daycare and public school for their children. I respect those decisions, and would hope that they respect mine.
Right now, we've got the Liberals and NDP threatening to do everything possible to force the Conservatives to break their promise of $1200 per year per pre-school aged child, and to instead keep the Liberal promise of a "national" daycare system. Aside from the hypocrisy of trying to make the current government keep the promises of the previous one (and they managed to avoid keeping this promise for over a decade), there are many problems with this stance.
First, there is the myth of a "national" daycare system. Daycare is a provincial responsibility, and the most the federal government can do it throw money at it.
Next, there's the fact that government regulated daycare doesn't meet the needs of the majority of parents. From the numbers I've seen, only a quarter of the parents who have children qualify for these spaces.
What galls me the most, however, is the day care advocates insistance that only *their* vision is the "right" way to go. The very fact that they claim to be the only "child care" sources - that parents do not child care their own children - shows a remarkable lack of respect for parents in general, and mothers specifically. The level of contempt shown towards parents is staggering.
Government run daycare is but one choice of many, and it's not the best choice for all parents. If the daycare advocates truly had the best interests of children at heart, they would recognise this. But it's not about what's best for the children, is it? It's about their own jobs. It's about pushing their own agenda and ideology. The children are little more than pawns in their game, shuffled across the board, used to bring about emotional responses, like when they are used to hold signs at demonstrations.
What we need is a system that recognises that, while someone might become an "expert" on children in general, it is the parents that are the experts of their own individual children, and that they are the ones who need our support. We need a system that doesn't penalize parents for choosing to live on a single income so that one of them can stay at home with their children. We need a system that recognises that there are many different ways to child care, and that if there is to be any funding for childcare, fairness demands that all these choices be recognised, and that funding the child rather than a system is the fairest way to accomplish this.
Sara at Choice for Childcare has asked bloggers to "strike for childcare" today, and I am proud to take part in this. Visit her site to see a list of many other bloggers who are also participating.
There are many other sites that also support true choice for childcare and funding the child.
Fund the Child: Kids First Canada has a list of links to sites and articles about funding the child, as well as research on different types of child care and other links of interest.
Hopefully, our current government will not allow themselves to be bullying by the opposition and the powerful day care lobby, and instead be given the chance to make a decision based on what parents actually want and need.
I realize this sort of thing is relatively rare, but day care advocates would rather have us believe that all is sunshine and butterflies in our day cares, and that they are far superior to alteranate forms of child care. Things like this, and far worse, do happen.
March 17, 2006
LAVAL, Que. (CP) -- Two day-care workers in Laval, north of Montreal, were fired after they forgot a sleeping toddler inside their day-care and went home for the night.
The mother of the 21-month-old baby arrived around 6 p.m. Tuesday night to find the day care's doors locked and the lights off.
She called 911 and firefighters smashed a window to get her child.
The daycare's executive director, Myriam Taillefer, says the two workers failed to follow proper procedures when closing up for the day.
The day-care centre's board of directors decided to fire them and parents seem to be satisfied with the decision.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
They marked International Women's Day on Wednesday with meetings, demonstrations and news conferences urging the federal government to retain the child-care agreements signed with the provinces by the last Liberal government.
The Liberal governemnt had decades to implement their child care promises. They didn't actually do anything until an election came up. Then they started signing everything and promising billions of dollars in an all out shopping spree, trying to bribe us withour own tax dollars. And these people think our new goverment, one that seeks to repair the fiscal damage of our previous one, should keep those promises? Did they really think the Liberals would have kept them in the first place?
They say Harper's pledge to replace those agreements with direct payments to families of $1,200 a year for every child under 6 doesn't cut it.
"While families welcome financial support, it is not child care," said Monica Lysack of the Canadian Child Care Advocacy Association.
Ah, of course. The Day Care advocate's ultimate weapon. If it isn't in a daycare centre, duly licensed and regulated by the government, it's not child care. Therefore, anything that actually helps parents directly is a bad thing. Parents, you see, don't child care their own children. Only day care works do child care.
Harper's plan is a *child care* plan, not a day care plan, and by giving parents money directly, *all* parents are helped, not just the minority that can use government sactioned day care. No, $100 a month isn't enough to pay for a day care space. IT WAS NEVER MEANT TO. It might, however, just be enough to allow a parent to stay home full time (because having a job costs money, which people conveniently forget). It might also be enough to pay for the occaisional child care needed by someone who works part time, or who does shift work, or *gasp* whatever the parents decide is the best way to use that money. If these people really believed in child care choice, they would be supporting parents in making the choices the work best for them, not just the ones they approve of.
"Child care is the ramp to equality and a right that women have been fighting for for decades," said Nancy Peckford of the Feminist Alliance for International Action.
"For working women, child care is all about equality," said Barbara Byers, executive vice-president of the Canadian Labour Congress.
Ah, equality is it? How 'bout this for equality. How about treating stay at home moms as equals for a change, rather than as objects of contempt? How about changing the tax system so that a single income family isn't penalized for choosing to have a parent at home? Two income families pay far less in taxes per year than the same size family with the same income coming from only one source - for a family that makes about $50K a year, I'm told it works out to a difference of about $7000 a year.
Oh and of course, the only "working women" are ones who work outside the home. Us stay at homers, we don't count. In the eyes of the so-called feminists, we're throwbacks to a patrairchical society, and most definately not equals. Only those who have "real" jobs count.
She said Harper's promised child-care money falls far short of what is needed: "Help with diapers maybe, but not child care."
Duh... helloooooo!!!!! Getting diapers is *part* of caring for your child, so yes, it counts, too! and for some families, having enough money to pay for those diapers and other such necessities is enough to keep one parent home with their kids. Does the money fall short? Well, yes, I suppose it does, but I'd rather see that made up in areas such as ending the tax penalties paid by single income families, which would allow us to keep more of our money in the first place. As a stay at home mother, I don't see what's equal about having my tax dollars subsidize a two income family's day care expenses, only to get penalized for choosing to stay at home.
Byers said women will fight for their right to accessible and affordable care.
"This government has its focus on the family all wrong," said Byers.
Personally, I think it's Byers who's got the focus on the family all wrong. Her focus seems to be targeted only at those women who work 9-5 jobs outside the home - the only ones that would be able to make use of the Liberal vision of child care. In fact, I don't see their focus as being on the family at all. Their focus seems to be entirely on jobs and careers, which are often at odds with a healthy family.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
There are a lot of debates on both sides of the issue. The kirpan, while a religious symbol, is also a weapon. Like all weapons, despite religious restrictions, it has the potential to be used as such.
I admit to being bothered by the ruling, but not for the reasons some have put forward. It's not the fact that he's allowed to wear it in school that bothers me. I really don't care that much. What bothers me is that he's allowed to wear it at a time when little boys are being expelled for pointing chicken nuggets at another child and saying "bang bang." It bothers me that he's allowed to wear it when another child was suspended for bringing a weapon to school when his mother packed a butter knife for him to use on his lunch (one editorialist even wrote that the kirpan is as dangerous as a butter knife, yet in our 0 tolerance world, a butter knife is indeed considered dangerous. Just try and bring one onto an airplane the next time you fly). I'm bothered by it because he's allowed to carry it while other children are told not to pray over their lunches. I'm bothered by it because other children are not allowed to carry bibles or wear crosses around their necks because they might "offend" others.
No, what bothers me isn't that this child is allowed to carry a knife to school, ceremonial or otherwise. What bothers me is that he's allowed to do so in the name of religious freedom, when such freedoms are denied to others, and our era of 0 tolerance is so ludicrously applied. Until then, it makes me very uncomfortable.