The Round-Up: Apr. 12, 2011

  • Students at York University are mobilizing to fight homophobia on campus after a recent gaybashing in a campus bar (via
  • The Toronto Star reports that Alberta transgender teacher Jan Buterman, who was fired by the Catholic school he worked at, has decided to pursue a human rights complaint rather than accepting an offer of a large cash settlement.
  • Equal Voice has started a new campaign called ICommit to encourage young women to participate in politics. Visit their site and make your commitment to run in an election, vote, and/or lead your friends to the polls!
  • Sociological Images dissects a sexist ad from a London, Ontario newspaper, which compares women who aren’t virgins to used cars.
  • Here in Canada, discriminatory regulations prevent gay men from donating blood. Towleroad reports that in the UK, due to complaints over a simliar ban, they’ve introduced new regulations to let gay men donate…as long as they haven’t had sex in 10 years. Not exactly what I’d call progress.
  • Melissa at Shakesville reminds us that prejudice doesn’t exist in a vacuum; sometimes it is necessary to sweat the small stuff.
  • Yay! After losing the fight to participate in 2010 in Vancouver, women ski jumpers have received the green light to ski in the 2014 Olympics (via Ms. Magazine Blog).
  • The American Library Association’s list of top banned books of 2010 is out, and Queerty reports that “And Tango Makes Three”, a children’s book about gay penguins, is at the top of the list.


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Questions for your Candidates III

Back with more questions to consider asking your candidates in the 2011 Canadian federal election. This time we’ll look at housing/poverty, the environment, and immigration.


1. Federal investments in housing and homelessness have been eroding since 1989, and persistent homelessness has serious negative social and economic implications in our communities. In the last Parliament, NDP MP Libby Davies’ Private Member’s Bill C-304 to create a comprehensive national housing plan passed second reading, but will now have to be re-introduced in a new session. Will  you and your party commit to supporting a bill like Bill C-304 to establish a national housing strategy?

2. The House’s Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills & Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities released its final report making recommendations for a national poverty reduction plan. Will your party support the HUMA committee’s recommendations, including investments in social housing, social programs, jobs at living wages, and childcare?


1. Climate change is one of the most pressing interntional issues we face, with the potential to become catastrophic if immediate action is not taken by governments. It is also an issue with racial, gender, intergenerational, and international dimensions. For example, a 2009 report from the UN Population Fund found that women in poor countries are disproportionately impacted by climate change and natural disasters. How will your party’s plans reduce global warming, and what are its timelines and targets?

2. The Suzuki Foundation has released a list of 12 chemicals to avoid in cosmetic products, many of which have been found to cause cancer or have negative environmental impacts. Products containing these harmful chemicals are disproportionately marketed towards women after undergoing only the most basic screening by Health Canada. The Suzuki Foundation and Canadian Cancer Society are calling for stricter labelling of potentially carcinogenic chemicals in cosmetics. Will you support stronger labelling requirements for chemicals in cosmetics and better regulations to enable Health Canada to keep dangerous products off store shelves?

3. In 2009 the Government of Canada committed, along with G20 leaders, to phasing out tax breaks and subsidies to oil, gas, and coal-producing companies, which are already some of the richest corporations in the country. Will your party commit to ending subsidies to the oil and gas sector, which would save Canadians approximately $1 billion/year?

4. Investments in developing clean energy technology can create jobs and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. The government can also support energy retrofits and public transit to help individuals reduce their emissions. What are your party’s plans to develop a clean energy economy for Canada?


1. Although the “points system” was ostensibly designed to get rid of racism in our immigration system, systemic issues mean that immigrants from European countries have shorter wait times than immigrants from other countries, notably countries in Africa. How will you and your party address the issue of delays in processing immigrant and refugee claims and family reunification applications, especially through Africa and other underserved areas?

2. How will you and your party ensure the rights of temporary foreign workers are respected while they are in Canada?

If you missed the past posts of suggested questions, here are the links:

1: Reproductive rights, LGBT rights, child care, Aboriginal justice

2: Health care, democracy/ethics, public safety


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FFFF: TLC: The Learning Channel?


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Questions for your Candidate II

Yesterday I suggested questions on reproductive rights, LGBT rights, childcare, and Aboriginal justice that you should think about asking your candidate during this federal election. Today I’m taking on three more key issues: health, democracy/ethics, and public safety. Again, I’d love to hear your suggestions of questions to ask your potential future Members of Parliament, so please post them in the questions below.


1. Problems with health care for seniors disproportionately impact women, as patients and caregivers. What are your party’s plans to ensure access to quality homecare and long-term care for seniors?

2. What will your party do to help people who are caring for elderly relatives in their homes? 

3. How are you and your party planning to deal with shortages of health care professionals across Canada, which especially impact rural areas?


1. Recently Ms. Magazine Blog came out with a compelling argument for how preserving net neutrality is key for feminist and women’s media. Will you and your party commit to preserving net neutrality in Canada? Will you also commit to preventing internet and cell phone companies from using metering to make internet access less affordable for ordinary Canadians?

2. Many Canadians feel our first-past-the-post system of electing MPs is outdated. Governments that have implemented systems of proportional representation (PR) elect greater percentages of women candidates and candidates from other underrepresented groups. Do you and your party support moving to a PR system in future elections?

3. What steps will you and your party take to restore accountability and public confidence in the government after ethical scandals under the Liberals and Conservatives, including the recent finding of the Harper government being in contempt of Parliament?

Public Safety

1. Violence against women costs Canada $4 billion annually. In the last decade, 71% of spousal homicides committed with a firearm involved a shotgun or a rifle. Long guns are also used to intimidate and control women in abusive relationships. The Long Gun Registry has proved itself a useful tool for police to fight domestic violence, yet the Conservative government seems determined to dismantle the registry against the wishes of police and women’s organizations. If elected, will you commit to supporting the continued existence of the Long Gun Registry?

2. Last November the Harper government halted gender reassignment surgery for trans inmates, despite the procedure being legally recognized as a medical necessity for some trans patients. Will your party support resuming  GRS for trans inmates in federal prisons?

3. Does your party have any plans to reform the justice system to introduce more restorative justice initiatives?

4. The Conservatives have taken legal action in the past to try to shut down Vancouver’s supervised injection site, despite its clear positive impact on public health in the Downtown Eastside. Do you and your party support InSite and other harm reduction initiatives?


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Federal Election 2011: Questions to Ask Your Candidate

It’s official: Canada is going back to the polls on May 2, 2011. While some of us are a bit election fatigued from having elections in 2004, 2006, and 2008, they’re some of the few times we get a chance to ask our potential future Members of Parliament where they stand on issues important to us.

It’s not all that difficult. You can phone your local candidates’ office and ask when local all-candidates’ meetings are happening. Lots of them will let you ask questions there. Or you can email or call your candidates to get their positions.

The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada has suggested some good questions on reproductive rights and it made me think about other questions I think Canadian feminists should be asking, keeping a broad definition of “feminist issue”. Because many issues are feminist issues, I’m going to break this up into a few posts, in no particular order. This post will cover reproductive rights, childcare, LGBT rights, and Aboriginal justice.

Other issues that’ll be covered later include health, education, economy, democracy/ethics, environment, public safety, housing/poverty, immigration, defence/trade/foreign aid, and food justice. If I’ve left any out, let me know. And I’d love to hear your suggestions for questions, so if you have ideas on any issue, please post them in the comments below!

Reproductive Rights (questions from the ARCC, slightly modified for length)

1. The Conservative government has been dismantling frameworks for women’s equality and cutting programs that vulnerable women need. They closed most regional Status of Women offices and barred funding for groups advocating women’s equality. They cancelled universal childcare, pay equity, and the Court Challenges program. If elected, will your government restore the various programs that have been cut under Harper?

2. The Conservative government is no longer enforcing the Canada Health Act against provinces that violate it. In particular, the NB government’s refusal to fund the Morgentaler clinic violates the Act and the Supreme Court Morgentaler decision from 1988. This is a serious violation of women’s rights that has been ongoing for over 20 years. During the last Liberal government, the Health Minister was coordinating an arbitration process to resolve the issue, but the Conservatives dropped the issue and refuse to take any action. If elected, will your government promise to enforce the Canada Health Act and hold the NB government accountable?


1. The former Liberal government brought in a national child care program just before being defeated in the 2005 election, after promising such a program since 1993. The Conservatives scrapped the program, preferring tax benefits that favour wealthier families. Groups like the YWCA are calling for a national child care program, noting the benefits it would have for the economy and women’s equality. What is your party’s position on creating a national child care program? If you support a national strategy, what are your targets for creating new spaces and how will you ensure it’s accessible to the families who need the support most?

LGBT Rights

1. Just before the election, retiring NDP MP Bill Siksay passed a Private Member’s Bill, C-389, guaranteeing legal protection against discrimination for trans people. Due to the election, his bill has died before being passed by the Senate. If elected, will you support this bill if it is re-introduced?

2. If elected, will you commit to preserving same-sex marriage rights?

Aboriginal Justice

1. The Conservative government have created funding challenges for the Native Women’s Association of Canada’s Sisters in Spirit program, which has raised awareness of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and helped combat violence through vigils and a missing women database project. How will you and your party work to ensure continued funding for crucial programs like Sisters in Spirit?

2. In 2010, the Canadian government endorsed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Fully implementing the declaration would mean taking steps to ensure Indigenous rights, including right to health, territory, and self-determination. If elected, what steps will you and your party take to ensure Indigenous rights in Canada?

3. Underfunding for child welfare for on-reserve children has resulted in a two-tier system where on-reserve Aboriginal children get fewer child welfare services than those living off-reserve. The Auditor General has confirmed that federal funding for on-reserve child welfare is inadequate and organizations are calling for efforts to ensure that services become more culturally-appropriate. Will you commit to working to ensure culturally-based, fully-funded child welfare programs for on-reserve Indigenous children?

Got other questions you’re thinking about asking your candidates? Suggest them below!


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The Round-Up: Apr. 5, 2011


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FFFF: Harper Home Pregnancy Test

It’s election time again, so it’s time for some Rick Mercer Report videos:


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