Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cuts to Specialized Music Grants --- PETITION

James Moore and Harper's ofice have made yet another ill-informed cut to the arts. And once again, this one cuts at the knees.

In what is becoming a trend in cultural funding decisions, this cut was made without any consultation with the cultural community to determine whether it is shortsighted, which it is. Grants for Specialized Music Sound Recording and Grants for Specialized Music Distribution fund non commercial/musically adventurous recordings made in Canada.

Art cannot always be quantified in pecuniary terms. Innovation breaks new ground, expanding the conceptual territory from which pop/commercially viable music mines its "new", and ultimately popular sounds. Non-commercial musicians lay the groundwork for the eventual norm. This exchange is centuries-old.

As is widely recognized, art makes people smarter, more efficient, more adaptable, more creative... Canada's cultural activity generates an active and fertile economy, and influences the overall economy in ways which are indisputable and extensive. These facts are fully documented. Every walk of Canadian life is enriched by the innovations of Canada's commercially "nonviable" artists, whether the masses know/appreciate it or not.

Etcetera etcetera...

I just returned from the United States of America, where I observed - first hand and in multiple contexts - the collective celebration and support of art and innovation. Who would have thought that we might find ourselves looking southward in envy.

What does Stephen "Piano Man" Harper have against artists and the making of art? What's his plan?

If our voices are loud and strong enough, we can stop the flagrant unravelling of our social fabric, the blurring of our cultural identity, the walmartification of our very Canadianness. No Culture = No Canada.

Read the petition, and sign your name if you are concerned.

Thanks as always for your consideration, and for allowing this intrusion.
- RC


You can stop there, but if you want to know more, and/or hear what others are thinking -
RC has offers...
  • a note about the cuts from Russell Kelly (head of music), and program information from the Canada Council. This explains the context in which this musical activity takes place.
  • quotes from fellow signatories
  • media reports
(all without permission, but with respect)


From the Canada Council website:

On July 31, 2009, the Department of Canadian Heritage (PCH) announced that, as of April 1, 2010, the $1.3 million administered by the Canada Council for the Arts under the Canadian Musical Diversity Component of the Canada Music Fund on behalf of PCH since 2001 will be reallocated to the redesigned Canada Music Fund. As a result, the Canada Council Grants for Specialized Music Sound Recording and Grants for Specialized Music Distribution programs will no longer exist as of April 1, 2010.

The Music Section of the Canada Council for the Arts had been administering recording funds on behalf of PCH since the late 1980’s. This funding has benefited numerous artists, ensembles and groups and produced many recordings of artistic and cultural significance. The distribution function was added in 2002 and assisted specialized music labels and distributors to promote their catalogues.

The October 1, 2009, deadline will be the last deadline for the Canada Council Grants for Specialized Music Sound Recording program. All eligibility criteria will apply as usual. The final deadline for the Grants for Specialized Music Distribution program was May 15, 2009.

Russell Kelley
Head, Music
Canada Council for the Arts
10 September 2009


Grants for Specialized Music Sound Recording and Grants for Specialized Music Distribution:

The Canada Council for the Arts administers this program on behalf of the Department of Canadian Heritage. Funds for this program are provided by the Canadian Musical Diversity Program of the Canada Music Fund.

This program supports the recording of Canadian “specialized music” by Canadian artists, ensembles, bands, record companies and independent producers. Its purpose is to ensure that a diversity of artistically driven Canadian music is produced and is available to the public.

Not all forms of music are eligible for support from this program.

“Specialized music” is defined as music whose intent or content is not shaped by the desire for wide market appeal—instead, it places creativity, self-expression or experimentation above the demands and format expectations of the mainstream recording industry. Specialized music has significance beyond being just entertainment, and it is usually found in the parallel market and alternative distribution systems.

Specialized music is primarily artistic in intent. It is understood that the definition of specialized music is changeable, depending on current public tastes and the resulting market share of various musical genres. Therefore, forms of music eligible for support through this program may change over time.

Eligible practices include, but are not limited to:
  • contemporary Canadian composition or songwriting in classical music of any world culture, new music (as defined in the Music Section’s New Music Program), jazz and musique actuelle, electroacoustic, folk, world music, and Canadian Aboriginal music
  • original interpretations of traditional music, where the applicant is significantly interpreting or arranging existing works
  • fusion of specialized music and spoken word, where the music is as or more important than the text.
Individual applicants must have completed their basic training and be recognized as professional artists by other artists working in the same artistic tradition. They should also have demonstrated commitment to the development of their craft and career through ongoing career activity, and have a history of public presentation of at least three years. Basic training may include training provided by a post-secondary academic institution, and may also include mentorships, private instruction, workshops, and periods of self-study.

Ensembles, groups and bands must be made up of professional artists.

Managers or agents applying on behalf of an artist or ensemble, group or band must provide evidence of authorization to submit the application, such as a letter of agreement or management contract. Leaders of ensembles, groups or bands are not required to submit evidence of authorization.

Record companies applying on behalf of artists must submit copies of articles of incorporation as well as letters of agreement or contracts with the artist they plan to record. The letters or contracts must indicate royalty arrangements and contractual details.

This Canada Council for the Arts program is accessible to Aboriginal artists and artists of diverse cultural and regional communities of Canada.

Individual artists and ensembles may submit only one application under their own name to this program per fiscal year (1 April to 31 March). Record companies and independent producers may submit more than one application per year, but they may apply on behalf a particular artist only once per year. Please note that applications by record companies or producers on behalf of artists or ensembles that have already applied in a given fiscal year will be disqualified.

Ineligible Applicants

Non-Canadian artists or entities may not benefit directly from this program. Projects including non-Canadian artists may be eligible for this program if the majority of artists in the project are Canadian and a Canadian artist provides the artistic leadership. However, costs related to the participation of non-Canadians are not eligible expenses and should be reported separately from the budget, on a separate sheet of paper.

At least 50 percent of the running time of the proposed recording project must be Canadian-composed music or Canadian interpretations of traditional music.

All elements of the project, from recording to manufacturing to launch, must take place in Canada. If the album is released through a label, the label must be at least 51 percent Canadian-owned.

Music that is created to meet current market expectations and for which an established music industry infrastructure exists are ineligible for support through this program. Ineligible music currently includes such genres as:
  • pop, rock, heavy metal, country, adult contemporary and new age
  • urban music, including rap, r & b, soul, new soul, hip hop, garage, soca and reggae
  • electronica, including house, techno, down tempo, commercial dance, drum and bass, electro, jungle, ambient and trance
  • commercial forms of folk, jazz, world music, Aboriginal music, children’s music, classical music and gospel.
Recordings created as fundraising projects are not eligible for support from this program.

This program funds the following types of costs:
  • recording costs, including studio expenses and artistic fees for the principal performers, producer and guest artists
  • production costs, including editing, mixing and mastering
  • post-production costs, including package design, liner notes and artwork
  • manufacture of 1,000 units
  • some initial marketing expenses.

I strongly disagree with your decision to cut funding from the Canada Council (CAC), even if you plan to reallocate the money to other institutions. Support for creative artists is vital to the culture of Canada. The CAC is best suited to administer programs such as the Recording Grant for Specialised Music because it is focused on supporting art, not commerce. Other institutions, such as FACTOR, primarily serve the commercial music industry and cannot provide the function of meeting the needs of artists. Please reconsider your decision to reallocate this funding and reinstate the current program.

Nothing good comes without artistic creation -- it is the lifeblood that fuels the curious explorers within a progressive society. To deny any part of artistic discovery is to slow the blood to the heart of a progressive and healthy society and environment. To deny it, in our particular case, will eventually decimate the uniqueness of Canadianism.

This, from June 26, 2009: "The cultural sector needs stability in this time of economic uncertainty. With ongoing investments by our Government, artists and arts organizations can plan their activities for the longer term and continue to create, produce, and present innovative works that will make Canadians proud," said Minister Moore... Is this irony, or just this Government's interminable mendacity?

This bill will kill small music production at the root where our unique Canadian voice is developed. I strongly disagree with this legislation.

Misters Moore and Harper, what is it that you have against the Arts and Canadians?

I am a jazz enthusiast and much of the music I purchase has been supported by Canadian Recording Arts Grants. The artistic community in Canada is extremely rich and diverse; it is elements such as this that make me proud to be Canadian. It pains me to know that our government does not want to support the cornucopia of talent that Canada is blessed with.

Just for a minute, Mr. Minister, imagine your world without music, paintings, movies, live shows or TV entertainment by singers, actors, musicians, dancers, writers. Then you might understand why Canada has to give more financial support to the Arts Council and its artistic community in general.

Home grown music is essential to the survival of our culture. Do not cut this grant, my vote depends on it.


By phum Tue, Sep 8 2009

As this Vancouver Sun story relates, the Canada Council's grants for Specialized Music Sound Recording and Specialized Music Sound Distribution will cease to exist in April 2010.

The long-standing programs provide more than $1 million annually in support of:
  • contemporary Canadian composition or songwriting in classical music of any world culture, new music (as defined in the Music Section’s New Music Program), jazz and musique actuelle, electroacoustic, folk, world music, and Canadian Aboriginal music
  • original interpretations of traditional music, where the applicant is significantly interpreting or arranging existing works
  • fusion of specialized music and spoken word, where the music is as or more important than the text.
In recent years, with respect to jazz, between 30 and 40 recordings would be funded annually. Most received grants ranging between $10,000 and $20,000. I must disclose that this year, I applied for a Council grant for sound recording, but did not receive one.

Jazz musicians who have recently received recording grants include Toronto saxophonist Jane Bunnett, Toronto bassist Brandi Disterheft (both have won Junos for their discs), Ottawa drummer Mike Essoudry, and Vancouver pianist Amanda Tosoff. Small record labels have also benefitted from the program, including the Vancouver-based label, Songlines.

The elimination of the grants was in fact made public July 31, when Heritage Minister James Moore announced that the Canada Music Fund would be restructured. According to this CBC story, the CMF's value is to increase, with its other components increasing while the Canadian Musical Diversity program is axed.

Moore's spokeswoman Stephanie Rea told the Vancouver Sun that the restructuring is “just a streamlining of everything. We are giving more access through this fund for digital market development, international market development and expanded eligibility for small entrepreneurial artists and labels. This will promote innovation and [create] more business opportunities online and internationally.”

However, those who have benefitted from the the Specialized Music Sound Recording program contend that the restructuring is simply another blow to the arts from the Harper government. There was much hubbub on Facebook this weekend, from jazz musicians across the country:

Montreal drummer and bandleader Thom Gossage wrote:

"The latest move by the Harper government (to eliminate the Canada Council specialized sound recording grant) only confirms the most cynical view of his lack of understanding and open disdain for the arts, in this case music.

"The Canada Council mandate encourages art from a broad spectrum of styles and regions of the country, it bases its criterion [sic] for acceptance not solely on commercial guidelines but more importantly on the quality of the applicants, producing work that is internationally respected.

"The fact that funds will be re-directed to digital distribution is an insult to the intelligence of everyone in this country. How can you promote music online if it hasn't been recordedin the first place. Specialized sound recording enables a broad spectrum of music to be represented of a high standard, it allows musicians to sell their music at shows and it also allows for the minimal cost of digital distribution."

Winnipeg pianist Michelle Gregoire commented:

"Specialized recordings make the entire industry grow. Quality, artistry, diversity affects commercial music just as well."

Canadian saxophonist/composer Christine Jensen wrote:

"It is a minute amount of money in the grand scheme of Canadian tax $$'s. This whole cut goes against the Canada Council mandate. They try to cover it up by saying they will support int'l touring. how the heck are you going to tour without a quality recording representing artistic excellence? (the whole thing stinks and reminds me of that survey CC ... Read Morehad us do a while back). I can't talk to badly of FACTOR as they have supported my work, but it is a completely different system based on marketing. Creative music has a hard time fitting their bill. Time to rally and protest..."

Montreal bassist Patrick Reid feels the same way, as you'll see from the e-mail that he sent to me and many others yesterday:

The Canada Council's recording grant program has been cut ... This is incredibly saddening and disheartening news for the creative arts in Canada and its supporters. The majority of Canada's library of creative music was made possible by this program and the future of its production of new creative music is uncertain at best. Small record labels and non-profits that work relentlessly to distribute our creative outputs will have an incredibly difficult time surviving without it.

This program was the main way that artistically motivated/non-commercial recordings were possible in Canada. Recordings are the only way for musicians to document their work and now this will no longer be supported by the only federal organization that promotes art for art's sake in Canada. This is by far the largest blow to music that has taken place since the Conservative regime started their crusade against Canadian culture. This news went completely under the radar mid-summer and I only began to here about it as a scary rumour last week. Unfortunately it is very true. Aside from money that was cut from this program, even more funding from the Canada Council is being redirected into the more commercially driven sectors of music listed below. Where that money will go is ambiguous at best.

Hopefully, now that the word is spreading there will be a major protest. Unfortunately, as history demonstrates, once a program is cut it is far more difficult to have it reinstated. It will take a huge collective effort from artists, supporters, press, entrepreneurs and others combined to give us a fighting chance. With a possible impending election this fall, now would be the most opportune time to create a national uproar.

This e-mail is my initial and immediate reaction to get the ball rolling. I will be on this trying to collect the masses in all the ways that I can but please spread the word far and wide. Thanks.

Yours truly,
Patrick Reid

UPDATE: I just cracked open my mail, which brought two CDs bearing the logo of the Canada Council for the Arts' insignia: Amor, from singer Amanda Martinez, and The Breathing of Statues from Gordon Grdina's East Van Strings, on the Songlines label.


By phum Tue, Sep 15 2009

An online petition has just sprouted up to protest the cancellation of the Canada Council for the Arts' grants in support of jazz, folk, world, and Aboriginal music recordings. (I wrote about the axing of the $1.3 million Canadian Music Diversity Fund here.)

I've checked the petition a few times this morning, and seen it grow from 587 names to 800 in less than two hours. I recognize more than a few of the signatories, including Ottawa drummers Jesse Stewart and Rory McGill; pianists David Ryshpan, Ali Berkok, John Sadowy and Steve Holt; drummers Jerry Granelli, Jonathan McCaslin, Nick Fraser, Bernie Arai and Barry Romberg; saxophonists from across the country including Kelly Jefferson, Steve Kaldestad and Evan Arntzen. I could go on and on.


Some signers have also included their comments. They include:

Roberto Occchipinti
A misguided, idealogy driven decision. The governments's own study shows a return of a ratio of 2 to 1 for every dollar invested in the arts. This is one of the few programs that the artist receives the funds directly by a jury of peers. What is the rationale for cutting the program ?

Tara Davidson
This recording grant is vital and necessary to facilitate the production of non-commercial Canadian music. Numerous recordings made through the funding of this grant were JUNO nominated or winning recordings. If these non-commercial genres of music (and let's face it, that's most everything besides rock and pop) do not have funding opportunities, the music and the community will suffer. The consequences of this are enormous. It affects a broad community of people and this ripples outwards to the popular music community as well. Culture in this country is suffering at the hands of short-sighted and uninformed government cuts.

Jesse Zubot
arts & culture is the basis to our society. Without this grant only commercial music will exist in Canada. Canada will become a laughing stock on the international scene for arts. Music is medicine. If only commercial is being made, that will be the same as only harmful pharmaceutical drugs existing to heal. Creative music should be looked at in the same vein as herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage therapy and other natural forms of healing. Can you imagine the world without classical music. Well that was the creative music of it's time, when it was developed.... Without this grant no new forms of music will be created in Canada and we will become closer and closer to only having candy coated formula product by the likes of Nickelback, Shania Twain, Hedley and others existing in this country. What a depressed nation we would be.

Jordan O'Connor
Artists are not the enemy and Art is not the problem. Why do we let politicians gut cultural programs when they are duty bound to affirm all citizens and promote diversity of expression? It is not their job to treat “culture” as a political schism, pitting people against one another in a clandestine attempt to split ridings and “win” elections. And it is not their job to limit the capacity of the business of Art at any stage, in research and development right through to the final product. This is business, period. Tens of thousands of people are employed, directly and indirectly across the country as a result of the work by Artists. So the decision to further cut funding to the Arts is a condemnation of small business, which is what we artists are, small business people. And when we are asked, what is Canadian culture we will say, culture isn’t something we fund and it isn’t something we grow and develop as a nation, rather it’s something we import.

Yvette Tollar
Cutting this specific program is a direct attack on the jugular of the independent music industry. I fear it is just the beginning of a series of sucker punches that will cripple Canada's beautiful and vibrant musical landscape that has been nurtured so carefully by the Canada Council since the late 1980's. Artists who record aboriginal music, jazz, children's, world music and folk are just some of the genres who will be left with little or no chance at funding. Leaving artists with no CD's will mean hardship for 1000's of Canadians whose livelihood depends on music festivals, and tourism that so often revolve around the music that has been attacked by this ultra conservative + uncultured government. What a terrible lack of foresight.

John Sadowy
The Recording Grant for Specialized Music is vital to preserving and promoting diversity on the Canadian artistic landscape. Cutting this program will effectively silence countless unique Canadian voices. Our country's place in the global artistic community is at stake, as are the livelihoods of the thousands of individuals at various levels of artistic production. The decision to cut this program was extremely short-sighted and misguided. I urge you to reinstate the Recording Grant for Specialized Music.


Moore restructuring Canada Music Fund
Friday, July 31, 2009
CBC News

Heritage Minister James Moore has announced an increase in the Canada Music Fund, the federal government's main fund to support the music industry, but changes are coming in the way the fund distributes its money.

Two programs have been eliminated but the five remaining programs will see more money under the new plan, announced in Montreal on Friday. Moore said the changes will direct more money to digital platforms, but he could provide few details.

Its funding will be increased by $9.85 million annually to $27.6 million a year until 2014, he said.

"We are also ensuring that a wide variety of Canadian music is accessible on multiple platforms, increasing the reach of our artists both in Canada and abroad," Moore said in a statement.

The programs eliminated were:
  • Canadian Musical Diversity: This fund, administered through the Canada Council for the arts, went to indie music makers under a sound recording program and a specialized music distribution program.
  • Support to Sector Associations: This program, administered by Canadian Heritage, provided up to $250,000 annually to industry associations
The musical diversity program distributes about $1.35 million annually, mainly to artists who kept control of their own copyright, and some of that funding has been redirected.

The new program areas include:
  • $900,000 for digital market development, in a fund aimed at music entrepreneurs and businesses.
  • $500,000 for international market development, which will support international showcases that help Canada artists make international connection
Canadian musicians could be expected to welcome news of the international development program since they were among the artists hurt by last year's cancellation of PromArt, which provided grants so emerging artists could tour.

Expanding eligibility to professionals, such as managers and distributors who work in digital technologies, seems to be among the thrusts of the new development.

The Canadian Music Fund will continue to fund existing programs administered by:
  • FACTOR: the Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent On Recordings, an independent organization that provides grants for new Canadian artists to tour and record.
  • SOCAN: Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, which provides grants for cultural festivals and new works.
  • MusicAction Foundation: a non-profit organization that supports the marketing and promotion of francophone music.
The announcement from Canadian Heritage did not say how the money would be distributed among the five programs remaining under the fund. Calls to the ministers office seeking clarification were not returned.

The changes take effect in April 2010.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Harper looks beyond the fringe

Yes, it has been a few months since anything has been posted at this blog, but that does not mean the Department of Culture has disbanded. Oooooh no, it does not. Rumblings of yet another election are well underway, and we're all waiting for the big news, whenever it might arise.

In the meantime, Harper continues to play foul. Thank you to the Toronto Star and Antonia Zerbisias for posting this truly important and informative article!

Harper looks beyond the fringe by
Sep 11, 2009 04:30 AM

I'm thinking of making T-shirts: "Proud to be a member of that `left-wing fringe group' called `Women.'"

They'd be pink, of course, for socialism – and also for the pink triangle, the badge the Nazis made gays and lesbians wear before shipping them off to the camps.

Thanks to Prime Minster Stephen Harper, those T-shirts will make me rich!

So props to you, P.M., for letting down your hair, and your guard, last week at that not-so-closed-door speech in Sault Ste. Marie.

Thank you for finally admitting that your government shut down the Court Challenges program in 2006 not just because, as then-Heritage Minister Bev Oda claim- ed in Parliament, you "recognize the importance of women" but because you believe that that women's rights are "left-wing fringe" rights.

Truth is, you only "recognize the importance" of some of the women some of the time. Members of fringe groups such as R.E.A.L. Women, which opposes women's rights and same-sex rights, plus just about everything that doesn't hew to the "family values" one-man, one-stay-at-home-woman and lots-of-babies fantasy.

But they are not "fringe" to you, Prime Minister. At least not judging from how everything your government attempts to do comes right out of R.E.A.L. Women's playbook. So thank you for, once again, opening that not-so-hidden agenda, the one that you would impose if you ever won a majority government.

The agenda that thinks women's work is not as valuable as men's.

The agenda that would treat lesbians and gays as less than equal.

The agenda that would curb the rights of people with disabilities.

The agenda that would discriminate on the basis of race and religion.

The agenda that would leave women without reproductive freedom.

That's because that Court Challenges program your government deemed "wasteful," was, according to its website, "a national non-profit organization which was set up in 1994 to provide financial assistance for important court cases that advance language and equality rights guaranteed under Canada's Constitution."

Not just "important" cases, but landmark cases, many fought by LEAF, the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund – a group clearly overrun by rabid fringe feminists.

They intervened in "left-wing fringe" court cases such as Torres v. Minto Management (2002), which prevented a landlord from increasing a single mother's rent by 41 per cent just because her husband had left the building.

Then there was the "left-wing fringe" case The Queen v. Keegstra (1990), which kept a Holocaust denier from teaching his anti- Semitic ideas to Alberta schoolchildren.

Or how about that "left-wing fringe" case Brooks v. Safeway (1989), which forced employers not to discriminate against pregnant staffers.

And here you are, Mr. Harper, such a champion of "childcare choices" that, last week, you boasted of your government's failure to create a single daycare space.

"We need to win a majority," you told your enthusiastic audience. "If we do not win a majority, this government will have a Liberal government propped up by the socialists and the separatists."

And later, you added: "Imagine how many left-wing ideologues they would be putting in the courts."

Frankly, I think more Canadians would find the alternative a scarier proposition.

Finally, thank you for revealing your nasty, petty and vindictive side, the one that you batten down when you know the cameras are on you.

Maybe, while you're scrapping the gun registry, you could start one for cellphone cameras so, next time, nobody in your audience can tape you, and then leak the videos to CBC.

So, anyway, I'm thinking of adding shimmy-shimmy-shake fringe to the T-shirts.

Rich! Rich I tell ya!

(Marketing types can contact me at my email address below.)

Antonia Zerbisias is a Living section columnist and feature writer.

Monday, May 18, 2009



Date: Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Time: 5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Location: Victoria Inn
Street: Wellington & Berry, near the airport
City/Town: Winnipeg, MB
Phone: 204.792.3371


An injury to one is an injury to all! // 204- 792-3371

PROTEST on Tues., May 19! 5:30 p.m. @ Victoria Inn
(at Wellington & Berry, near the airport)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
BY RIPPING UP THE AUTO WORKERS COLLECTIVE AGREEMENTS in Ontario, the Harper government is declaring War on Labour rights across Canada. The Auto companies are getting bailed out, but the workers are getting shafted.

Workers died fighting for the Labour rights Harper is taking away, including in the Winnipeg General Strike ninety years ago, drowned in blood by the mounted police, terrorized into submission by midnight arrests and army patrols with machine guns.

The labour movement, the people who brought you the weekend, medicare and other rights, is under attack. It’s time to push back! Workers did not cause a single problem of the capitalist system, such as unemployment, war, racism, hunger, or the destruction of the earth. But right wing governments are forcing the workers to pay for the economic crisis. Billions of dollars are spent on the banks and wealthy, while workers are laid off, communities and families are destroyed, pensions disappear, children go to food banks.

No worker lives far from utter poverty and ruin. Many people were already in crisis before the recession, not helped by social programs gutted after decades of cuts.

These governments have turned Unemployment Insurance into a cruel joke for most. Youth, Aboriginals, women and immigrant workers pay premiums, but rarely get benefits.

We can be a doormat for the corporations and wealthy, divided by racism and sexism in a dying planet, sent to another war, crushed under the thumb of anti-Labour governments.

Or we can join the fight for decent jobs, universal unemployment insurance, and a better world! We need decent jobs for everyone and to lift the burden of the crisis from the backs of workers.

Almost 80 years ago, the Canadian Labour Defence League collected a petition with 100,000 names demanding unemployment insurance and started the fight that won. We need to follow that example and build the fight from the strengths we have today.

We need to unite as a class around a program of struggle for these goals. We need to build alliances and solidarity with workers and their families in Manitoba and across Canada and the world, wherever workers are being forced to pay for the problems of capitalism. Stephen Harper will be in Winnipeg soon. We need to have a
strong protest to show workers across Canada:

Winnipeg is in solidarity with the Auto workers whose collective agreements he is ripping up.

We need you and your family at the rally:

Tues, May 19, 5:30 p.m.
Victoria Inn (at Wellington & Berry, near the airport)

Bring friends! An injury to one is an injury to all!
Defend Labour rights against Harper’s reactionary government!

Winnipeg Labour Defence League

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The latest, greatest Dictator Harper video

"[Confidence in the government] isn't going to be restored by seven weeks of propaganda."

Reposted from:

GG agrees to suspend Parliament until January
Decision gives Tories reprieve, thwarts imminent attempt to topple government

Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean has granted a request from Stephen Harper to suspend Parliament until late next month, a move that avoids a confidence vote set for Monday that could have toppled his minority government.

"Following my advice, the Governor General has agreed to prorogue Parliament," Harper said outside Rideau Hall after a 2½-hour meeting with Jean.

Harper would not reveal the content of the discussion, citing constitutional traditions, but he said the first order of business when Parliament resumes Jan. 26 will be the presentation of the federal budget.

"The economy is the priority now, and the public is very frustrated with the situation in Parliament. We're all responsible for that," he said in French.

Monday's no-confidence vote could have precipitated the rise of a proposed Liberal-NDP coalition, supported by the Bloc Québécois, or it could have resulted in another election, depending on the Governor General's response.

The decision to suspend Parliament — made after Jean cut short a two-week trip to Europe — only gives the Tories a reprieve until Parliament resumes in six weeks. At that point, the party could be brought down when it tables the budget, which would be a confidence vote, as all money bills are.

In the interim, the Tories will continue to wage a public relations blitz against the Liberal-NDP coalition. But the opposition parties showed no sign of easing talks of a coalition and planned to continue waging their own campaigns to gain public support.

'Monumental change' required: Dion

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion accused Harper of "running away" from Parliament and said only a "monumental change" from the prime minister would change his position on toppling the government.

"Warm sentiments are not enough. His behaviour must change," Dion told reporters.

NDP Leader Jack Layton suggested that his party may even try to bring down the government at the first opportunity — voting against a speech from the throne even before the Conservatives table the budget.

"We need a government that actually believes in what it's doing," Layton told reporters.

"[Confidence in the government] isn't going to be restored by seven weeks of propaganda."

He also accused Harper of attacking democracy by using a "parliamentary trick to put the locks on the door" so MPs cannot express themselves.

Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe, meanwhile, accused Harper of denigrating Quebec voters and asking his supporters to engage in the "worst attacks" against Quebecers since the Meech Lake Accord.

The reference was to the failed negotiations in 1987 aimed at bringing Quebec back into the constitutional fold under then prime minister Brian Mulroney.

Asked whether the Bloc might support the Conservative budget, Duceppe said he would be surprised if Harper met their demands.

Supporters greeted Harper

Harper was greeted by about 40 chanting supporters, including many Tory staffers, when he arrived at Rideau Hall, the Governor General's residence, at 9:30 a.m. ET. A single anti-Harper demonstrator stood waving a sign reading "Harper Must Go."

Opposition parties had hoped to have a word with the Governor General before she made her decision. They planned to present her with a petition with signatures from all NDP and Liberal members that the Conservatives had lost the confidence of the House and urging her to accept a coalition government.

Dion, who would head the proposed coalition, had said he sent a letter to Jean on Wednesday, urging her to reject any attempt by Harper to prorogue Parliament.

The Conservatives have lost the confidence of the majority of members of the House of Commons — largely because of their, in the opposition's view, inadequate reaction to Canada's financial crunch — and thus "have lost the right to govern," Dion said.

The Conservative leader had vowed to use "every legal means" to prevent a Liberal-NDP coalition government from taking power and took to the airwaves late Wednesday to make his case to the public.

In a five-minute, pre-recorded statement Wednesday night, Harper spoke bluntly against the coalition backed by "separatists," saying the federal government must stand unequivocally for keeping the country together in the face of the global economic crisis.

Economic statement lambasted

The coalition sprang up after the Tories released an economic statement that was lambasted by the opposition parties.

They accused Harper of doing nothing to address the current economic crisis and slammed what they saw as ideologically driven measures such as the proposed elimination of subsidies for political parties, a three-year ban on the right of civil servants to strike and limits on the ability of women to sue for pay equity.

Harper has since backed down on those contentious issues, but the opposition has pushed forward with the coalition.

The coalition — which would have a 24-member cabinet composed of six NDP and 18 Liberal MPs — has vowed to make an economic stimulus package a priority, proposing a multibillion-dollar plan that would include help for the auto and forestry sectors.

With 77 Liberal MPs and 37 New Democrats, plus the support of 49 Bloc members, the three parties have more seats than the 143 held by the Tories.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Video of the November 15 Block Harper Rally in Winnipeg

Watch it here!

Dear Department of Culture Supporter...

As you are undoubtedly aware, this past week has brought unprecedented change to federal politics.

We believe the proposed NDP/Liberal Coalition government is a welcome change to the ideologically driven ultra-right wing policies that Harper represents. With a formal agreement from the Bloc Quebecois and the support of the Green Party, this government now represents 63% of Canadian voters. Meanwhile Harper is trying to use his millions in fundraising advantage and ignorance of parliamentary procedure to keep power.

He can be stopped and there are several things that we encourage you to do:

1. Email the Governor General
We need to flood the Governor General's e-mail box with support for the coalition government. Copy and paste this letter or write one of your own. Send it along with your name and address to Michaëlle Jean. DO THIS NOW. It is essential that we show the governor general that there is massive support for this plan.

Send your message to:

Your Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean,

I am writing to encourage you to accept the proposal by M. Dion and Mr. Layton to form a coalition government in cooperation with M. Duceppe. The actions of Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party are motivated by a lust for power, not the best interests of the people of our country. I believe that the coalition - which duly represents the voices of 63% of Canadians - should be given the opportunity to form a government. I also do not think that an election is a prudent choice at this juncture. We need leadership and a cooperative process. I look forward to the days ahead with
hope; please act in the name of democracy and good government.

Best Regards,

[Insert your full name and address.]

2. Go to a rally in support of the coalition government.

On Saturday December 6th there are rallies right across the country. The Toronto rally will take place at the same time as a Conservative Rally at Queen's Park. Don't be confused by the Conservative rally at Queen's Park. Pro Coalition people are gathering at NATHAN PHILLIPS SQUARE. Jack Layton and Stéphane Dion will be speaking at NATHAN PHILLIPS SQUARE. Musical guests will follow.

The Conservatives are using their own considerable resources and sympathetic media in an attempt to escape a confidence vote and maintain power. We must demonstrate that the majority of Canada's citizens support the coalition by showing our numbers at rallies right across the country.

CLICK HERE for the time and location of pro-coalition rallies across the country


3. Sign these petitions: Canadians for a Progressive Coalition

[ + ent-en]

4. Join these Facebook groups:

Canadians for a Progressive Coalition

Canadians United Against Stephen Harper

5. Copy/Paste this message and send it to everyone you know via Facebook and email:

This situation is unprecedented. It is imperative that you act. The massive cash advantage that the Conservatives have means there are people BEING PAID to write emails and messages supporting Harper's cling to power across the country. At this moment, each action reverberates and makes a big difference.

"Lies, Lying Liars... and a fun quiz!"

Messages from Allies...

* * *

There's a lot of spin being rolled out of the Harper camp these days-- it's to be expected. Maddening as it is, it's the reality of the political game. But as the situation becomes more desperate for the Conservatives, so do their tactics. Now they're just making shit up.

It's desperate, but it's also calculated. It puts the opposition on the defensive, muddies the issues, and the public is left scratching their heads in confusion. All we can do is counter and counter again with the truth until the truth is heard.

That said, I figure we might as well have a little fun in the meantime. Yes, this can only mean one thing:


1. Of the following options, which we have chosen TOTALLY RANDOMLY, which is NOT illegal?

A) Bribing an elected MP
B) Recording a group conversation without the consent of at least one of the intended participants
C) Paying for a fifty-cent item with pennies
D) Forming a coalition in the House of Commons as a result of a motion of censure or want of confidence

ANSWER: D! But not according to Harper, who said, "[The coalition is an] illegal grab for power through the back door". (We would never imply, by the way, that Harper or any of his MPs ever tried to pay for anything with a fistful of pennies.)

2. Using the photo at the link below as a reference, which DOES NOT appear in the picture?

A) Stephen Dion
B) Gilles Duceppe
C) Jack Layton
D) the Canadian flag
E) A funny-shaped thing that looks like camera equipment
F) Paris Hilton

ANSWER: F! Stephen Harper would have flunked this one: "Yesterday ... we had these three parties together, forming this agreement, signing a document and they wouldn’t even have the Canadian flag behind them." (Paris, meanwhile, is mad about missing the photo opp and is consulting her lawyers.)

3. A "coup d'état" is...

A) "the sudden, violent overthrow of an existing government by a small group" (Britannica)
B) "the sudden unconstitutional overthrow of a government by a part ... of the state establishment — usually the military — to replace the branch of the stricken government, either with another civil government or with a military government" (Wikipedia)
C) "a sudden decisive exercise of force in politics" (Merriam-Webster)
D) "Sounds like a frenchie thing to me. Can't be good." (the clerk at Joe's Guns n' Ammo)

ANSWER: A, B, and C. (And now we know where Natural Resources Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn got his schoolin' from.)

4. Which of the opposition parties is NOT a formal partner in the coalition?

A) The Liberal Party of Canada
B) Bloc Québécois
C) New Democratic Party of Canada

ANSWER: B. OK, that was easy. Harper knows this, too, but is trying to convince Canadians otherwise.

5. How many Bloc MPs will be offered Senate seats by the new coalition?

A) 6
B) 12
D) 0
E) Less than zero
F) Pas de chance !

ANSWER: D, E and F are all acceptable answers. Even though 'zero' is the same in both French and English, Harper apparently confuses it with 'six'.


If you answered all questions correctly, congratulations! Fabulous prizes include a voice in the House of Commons and a BRAAAAND NEEEEW GOVERNMENT !

Thanks for participating!


UNITE THE LEFT - Canadians for a Coalition Government

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Harper's Hypocrisy... more of it, anyway

Reposted from facebook...

Stephen Harper is trying desperately to paint a coalition that includes the Bloc Quebecois as a move that will "destroy Canada."

Problem for Stephen Harper is that he proposed to form a coalition government with the Bloc Quebecois in 2004.

Spread the word on this blatant hypocrisy! Blog it, email it, send it to your Facebook friends, write letters to the editor, write your MP - whatever you can do!

Petitons to sign in support fo the new Coalition

Your voice matters!! ent-en

And, don't forget to contact the Governor General:

EDIT: here are two more...

Winnipeg Rally in Support of A New Coalition Government

All are welcome to attend an event in support of a new coalition government!

Thursday Dec 4, 08
6:30 PM
Marlborough Hotel
Skyview Ballroom
331 Smith St

In the meantime, here is a little something to help you demonstrate your support. To accurately print a full-size version, click on the image below, save the file to your desktop, then print. Make as many copies as you can... affix them to your window, car, office door... anywhere you want and can!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ten arguments against a coalition, and how to debunk them

Reposted from Facebook...
Originally posted by David Fernandes

Ten arguments against a coalition, and how to debunk them

1) The lib-ndp coalition is a 'coup'.

Actually, a coup is an illegal seizure of power. A coalition government is not only legal, it's constitutional, has happened before in Canada and is commonplace all over the world.

2) It's an 'unholy alliance' because it relies on the Bloc for support.

I'm curious as to what a 'holy' alliance is? The Bloc is a federal political party that advocates for Quebecers in the same way that the Conservatives are a federal political party that advocates for rich people. What's your point? The Bloc is left of centre and so is the NDP. Occasionally, when opportune, so are the Liberals. It is a strategic alliance, not a religious one.

3) The coalition is a cheap power grab by sore losers.

Political parties exist for one reason: to enact legislation that they believe is in the best interests of their constituents. Harper certainly tries. If one or more opposition parties decide they can agree on enough things to run the government, then power to them. Grab it. Both hands.

4) This is a 'socialist' / 'communist' plot to take over the country!!!!!!!

There's a great movie from the 80's called Red Dawn. Watch it. It all came true. The USSR parachuted in millions of soldiers into your neighbours' living rooms, and they all voted NDP and Liberal, Bloc and Green - well, ok, only 62% of them did. Lock your doors. They look just like you.

5) We need Stephen Harper right now because he's an economist

He's an economist that thinks that selling your country's public assets, bullying its employees and silencing its opposition is a plausible 'ways and means' to run a country in the face of the largest economic crisis since 1929. They have provided nothing in terms of economic protection for Canadian home owners and renters and nothing to Canada's largest employing industries - manufacturing and automotive. So, if that is the type of economist Harper is, I would much rather have a lawyer and a professor running the country. And if they can figure out how to work with a separatist party in a framework that is stable and progressive, than all the more power to them.

6) Ha! I knew it! The NDP-BLOC planned this all months ago - Jack Layton said so! It's a 'backroom scheme'.

Layton and Duceppe speak regularly as opposition leaders and made contingency plans like any other opposition parties do in a minority parliament. In fact, in 2005 the conservatives bloc and NDP were signatories to a letter to the governor general asking her to consider all her alternatives in the event of a dissolution of parliament - IE, the possibility of a coalition. The only 'scandal' here is that the tories illegally recorded and broadcast a private conversation, when they knew they were invited to it accidentally.

7) The people voted for Stephen Harper! You are trying to overturn the election results!

Actually, the people voted for political parties. They gave the tories a minority, which means, the prime minister must work WITH the other parties in order to pass so little as a fart. In Canada, our parliament has a sort of checks and balance system called 'responsible government', which means, the ruling party - the party that gets to form the government, must enjoy the 'confidence' of the house. Usually that means they need the majority of the votes to stay in power. The conservatives do not have a majority of the seats and have shown unprecedented (even for them) callousness and shortsightedness in their economic update and have lost the confidence of the house. Therefore, the GOVERNOR GENERAL must decide whether to call an election, or to give power to another group of parties.

8) Canadians did not vote for a 'coalition government'.

No one voted for Harper to act like a demagogic jackass either. The opposition parties, representing 54% and of the seats in the house - the majority - have every right to try and form a government. They will do so with a formal agreement that outlines how they will work together, and what legislative priorities they will have. Those priorities were voted on by Canadians and in fact more Canadians voted for the policies of the bloc, NDP and liberals than did the conservatives. Furthermore, those priorities will have to be a compromise of sorts between the three parties. This kind of negotiating ensures that policies that Canadians DID vote for DO get enacted.


The Bloc is a FEDERAL political party that operates only in Quebec. And whether or not they are separatist, there is no way at all they could 'destroy Canada' by voting in the Canadian parliament and no way that the Liberals of the NDP would support a Quebec separation motion. Furthermore, the Bloc represent 65% of the seats in Quebec and are strong advocates of publicly funded and delivered social programs for all Canadians and Quebeckers, peaceful use of our military, pay equity and a long list of other progressive legislative ideas. A coalition would work with the Bloc to identify progressive ideas that they could implement for a 2.5 year period.

10) The NDP should not enter an 'unholy alliance' with the liberals because it will weaken their policies.

As it stands right now, the NDP is the fourth largest party in the parliament with 37 seats. Entering into a coalition with the liberals would give them 6 of 24 cabinet positions and would guarantee that at least some of their platform is implemented. The NDP could never accomplish this sitting by itself in opposition and frankly, it is high time the NDP start acting like a real power broker in parliament. That's why we elected them. And heck, what better proof of your ability to govern is there than governing?

Make Parliament Work!

A rally is being planned for Winnipeg...

Keep your eyes and ears peeled!

More info soon!

* * *
The Conservative government introduced an economic and fiscal statement last week that failed to provide economic relief for Canadians or any measures to get the economy back on track.

The Harper government is also committed to trampling workers' rights and women's rights to pay equity.

Canadians need a government that shows leadership.

The opposition parties are acting in a responsible manner. They are not going to force another costly and time-consuming election. Instead the Liberals and the NDP are planning to form a coalition government, with the support of the Bloc Québecois in the House of Commons, to get this Parliament to address the economic crisis in a way that benefits workers and their families.

Let's support a coalition government that will get us through this economic crisis.

The Council of Canadians supports the call for a coalition government.

The Council of Canadians, Canada's largest non-partisan public advocacy group has just endorsed the call for a coalition opposition government

Read their statement here:

We believe that a coalition government is a legitimate and democratic option in this minority Parliament, that it would best reflect the concerns of the majority of Canadians, and that it is best suited to deal with the current economic crisis. We encourage our members and supporters to promote this call for a coalition government in their community.

The Council calls on the three opposition parties to defeat the Harper government in a non-confidence vote as soon as possible and to form a coalition government guided by a set of progressive priorities, including:

1. Agreement to proceed with the renegotiation of NAFTA, including seeking the removal of the Chapter 11 investor-state clause, the energy provisions, and water from the treaty.

2. Implement a Canadian energy strategy, which would address the environmental destruction of the northern Alberta tar sands, reduce eastern Canada's dependence on imported oil, and create the opportunity for Canada to become an international leader in developing new green jobs and publicly-owned renewable energy sources.

3. Implement a national water policy that would prohibit bulk water exports (by removing water from NAFTA), recognize the right to water through the United Nations, and ensure that water remains a public good not a private commodity.

4. Place an immediate moratorium on the establishment of any new for-profit privately-owned health care clinics in Canada.

5. Take immediate steps to introduce proportional representation to address the unbalanced results that come with the current electoral system in Canada.

An Open Letter to Canadians

The following letter was issued today by the leaders of the three opposition parties.

To proceed with a new coalition, they need support from Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean [C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D.] Governor General of Canada.

The real majority of Canadians who voted AGAINST the CPC are encouraged to contact her by telephone -- 1 800 465-6890. Please note, you may get a message indicating that the necessary voice mailbox is full, so please send email, as well:

It is not too late to make Canada a better place!


Monday, December 1, 2008

To our fellow citizens,

Canada is facing a global economic crisis. Since the recent federal election, it has become clear that the government headed by Stephen Harper has no plan, no competence and, no will to effectively address this crisis. Therefore, the majority of Parliament has lost confidence in Mr. Harper’s government, and believes that the formation of a new Government that will effectively, prudently, promptly and competently address these critical economic times is necessary.

The contrast between the inaction of Mr. Harper’s government and the common action taken by all other Western democracies is striking. We cannot accept this.

A majority of Canadians and Quebecers voted for our parties on October 14, 2008. Our Members of Parliament make up 55 percent of the House of Commons.

In light of the critical situation facing our citizens, and the Harper government’s unwillingness and inability to address the crisis, we are resolved to support a new government that will address the interests of the people.

Today we respectfully inform the Governor General that, as soon as the appropriate opportunity arises, she should call on the Leader of the Official Opposition to form a new government, supported as set out in the accompanying accords by all three of our parties.


Hon. Stéphane Dion
Leader, the Liberal Party of Canada

Hon. Jack Layton
Leader, the New Democratic Party of Canada

Gilles Duceppe
Leader, the Bloc Québécois

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Canadians for a Progressive Coalition

Why the opposition can't back down now

Sixty-two percent of Canadians said NO to Harper on Oct 14... we must continue saying NO!
Contact your MP! Tell her/him you reject Harper and support a coalition!

Reposted from:

Why the opposition can't back down now
The Liberals, NDP and Bloc Quebecois will never get a better chance to take out Stephen Harper
SCOTT REID, Globe and Mail Update, November 29, 2008 at 5:00 PM EST

First things first: take him out.

After all, Stephen Harper is the most dangerous animal lurking in the jungles of Parliament. He is a threat to the future viability of the Liberals. A blood simple opponent of the NDP and the only serious contemporary challenge to the Bloc Quebecois. Without him, his party is an unlikely combination of Reform Party leftovers, Harris refugees and Red Tory desperates. They don't matter or even exist without Mr. Harper. So before you think a moment longer, opposition leaders, think on that.

And if that's not compelling enough, remember: He doesn't play to win. He plays to conquer. Under his guidance, the public interest is always subjugated to his personal political advancement. And he poisons Parliament with an extreme, bare-fanged breed of partisanship that has no hope of repair until he is banished.

This becomes relevant because suddenly, he is weak. In fact, at this particular moment, he is almost unable to defend himself. Owing to a ridiculously ill-considered act of hubris, he has laid himself vulnerable to his opponents. Their imperative could not be more clear: kill him. Kill him dead. Do not, whatever you do, provide him with an opportunity to extend his hold on power. Because you can be damn certain he will never again be so reckless as to give you a chance to finish him off.

Fate tends to be grudging with gifts of this significance. To ignore it would be an error every bit as historic as the one Mr. Harper himself has made.

So don't get fancy. Don't get confused. And don't get weak in the knees. If you don't put Mr. Harper in his grave, he'll put you in yours.

The next question is how. Nothing should be taken for granted. The guy has bought himself a week. And he'll use it to his advantage. He'll spend money, time and every ounce of energy to make it difficult on the Opposition.

Already, he's abandoning the liability of his own electoral financing proposals. He'll further correct his mistakes by having Jim Flaherty tease out talk of stimulus. He'll attack the legitimacy of an unelected "Prime Minister Dion." He'll turn the Liberal caucus loose on itself. And he will have success in rallying public opinion to his side.

Here's why: Already, the debate has shifted from the illegitimacy of what Mr. Harper has done to the illegitimacy of what comes next.

So be smart. Be deserving. Prove your case and show you have a plan that serves the public interest. Above all else, use the coming week to exert real leadership on the issues that matter.

The next few days are a campaign. Mr. Harper is no longer on trial; the coalition is. So take the initiative, show leadership and demonstrate competence.

That effort must first focus on the economy. Start with an articulation of how the coalition would direct the stimulus that the Conservatives withheld. Indicate that you will create a fund to echo U.S. investment in the auto sector. Express a willingness to create incentives to boost the manufacturing and forestry sectors. Announce an advisory board that is widely held and draws on the most talented that business and labour have to offer. Above all else, show that you're prepared to act, that you enjoy the support of serious people and that you will be guided by the need to create jobs and protect middle-class Canadians.

The other elephant in the room is leadership. Stephane Dion has bargained his way to the drive wheel of the new government. Good for him, but only if it suits the greater good. If Mr. Dion can make his case, then great. If he can't, move to an alternative - and do it fast.

Mr. Harper knows that his greatest advantage lies in Mr. Dion's weakness. The coalition can't let that impulse triumph. Don't permit the defeat of Mr. Harper to depend upon Mr. Dion's personal credibility - or that of any single individual, for that matter. There's too much at stake.

The coalition must be ruthless. Be quick to signal that if Mr. Dion can't win the confidence of his own party, or the country, an alternative will be identified before the vote in the House.

Mr. Harper will spend the next week marketing the evils of the coalition. And he'll do it like his life depends upon it - because politically, it does. The coalition can't show weakness or indecision. It must be clear in its determination to finish off Mr. Harper, to market its own virtues and to offer a leadership that Canadians find acceptable. It has to prove its legitimacy.

This is a rare moment in political history. A prime minister has been foolish enough to sacrifice control over his destiny to others. We know that Mr. Harper is tough. Between now and Dec. 8, we'll find out if the opposition is tougher.

Scott Reid was the communications director for former prime minister Paul Martin

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tory views on women's rights perfectly clear

Reposted from:
Antonia Zerbisias, Toronto Star, November 19, 2008

Stephen Harper can put on all the warm and fuzzy sweaters he likes, smile and say soothing things to politically moderate Canadians but, every time his base speaks out, the Prime Minister's carefully crafted image begins to unravel.

This was evident during the Conservative national policy convention in Winnipeg last weekend, at least when it came to issues concerning women.

Passed were three policy resolutions that affect women, and their rights, and choices.

In ascending order of outrageousness, they are:

Resolution P-305 would allow for income splitting for families with children, which would ease the tax burden on the main earner and put more cash in the couple's pockets.

That means spouses – usually women – who don't work outside of the home for pay could also get some financial reward for their contributions to the family, assuming, of course, that they actually see some of the dough.

Now, on the surface, this is great.

Except for one thing: It discriminates against single-parent families, many of who struggle to make ends meet.

It also works more to the benefit of the rich than the middle classes. The more income that a couple can split, the bigger and better the tax break. And aren't non-working spouses dependents anyway?

What income splitting as official policy really says is, especially in the absence of a national daycare program, a woman's place is in the home.

Resolution P-213 should hardly come as a surprise to anybody following the Harper government's efforts to wipe out any and all support for women's rights.

The proposal eliminates support for full gender equality as well as equal pay for work of equal value.

Let me repeat that: It would eliminate support for full gender equality.

Oh it couches that in airy fairy speak, stating that the party is all for "the full participation of women in the social, economic, and cultural life of Canada." But the phrase "gender equality" was scrubbed and equal pay will only go for "equal work."

That means male parking lot attendants can continue to make more than female child care workers, even if the latter have university educations and are entrusted with your precious kid instead of your car.

Which says a lot about where the Cons stand on the issue of women's work and independence.

And, if you still don't get their agenda, consider what bloggers Dr. Dawg and Danielle Takacs both reported from the floor. At least one delegate objected to the resolution because women already have it "too good" and the proposal should have included men.

Last but, oh so very far from least, is Resolution P-207 which is all about, here we go again, protecting "unborn children" from violence.

Rewind to the eve of the last federal election when Harper pulled the plug on the controversial Bill C-484, the so-called "Unborn Victims of Crime Act" because it contained language that could lead to the definition of the fetus as a legal person.

Well, a similar bill could be back like the stink of skunk after the rain. According to Kady Malley of Maclean's, when one delegate got up to say that passing this would open the door to fetal rights, she was cheered. But, when the applause died down, she concluded that this was not a good thing. Which was when she was booed.

True, after the vote, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson told reporters Harper has publicly stated he has no intention of reopening the abortion debate. So why can't he close it in his own party ranks?

It's obvious that, whatever face Harper presents to Canadians, his dark grass roots will always be showing.

Antonia Zerbisias is a Living section columnist. She blogs at

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Block Harper - November 15th Rally at Winnipeg Convention Centre

A rally will held at the Conservative Party convention at the Winnipeg Convention Centre on November 15th (12 noon) to oppose the Harper agenda and to support the majority of Canadians:

The majority of Canadians who want our soldiers out of Afghanistan, and for Canada to meet its Kyoto commitments.

The majority who oppose further integration with the United States and who want an end to the secret 'Security and Prosperity' or SPP talks.

The majority who want more affordable access to higher education, action to end poverty and homelessness.

Host: The Majority Agenda Coalition (of which Winnipeg's DoC is a part)
Date: Saturday, November 15, 2008
Time: 12:00pm - 2:00pm
Location: The Winnipeg Convention Centre -- York Ave between Edmonton and Carleton

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The following video discusses interesting and important details concerning circumstances in the United States. However, given the new voter ID rules that were introduced here at home, the content is extremely relevant...

Steal Back Your Vote! from Greg Palast on Vimeo.