Miss Vicky tries very hard to be polite. Even in the most frustrating of times. But some occasions and issues do call for a more (ahem) direct approach. You'll find it here. But Miss Vicky promises to vent in the nicest possible way. Really.
There are no words that describe the depth of my fury over Stephen Woodworth's private member's motion M-312, which would set up a Parliamentary committee to determine when human life begins.
When questioned, Woodworth acts oh-so-reasonable, talking about rational discussion and a 400 year old definition of human being that needs to be updated. But he refuses to answer why he thinks we need to have this debate, or what laws need to be changed as a result of the outcome of this exercise.
That's because the logical extension of opening up the thin edge of this wedge issue is the scary freakiness that has become the reproductive rights debate south of the border.
I see a lot of my friends post links to news about the bills that are passing in state legislatures. We can't afford to be smug in Canada, because the same folks that fund and organize successful anti-choice political action campaigns in the US are busily working to erode the gains we have made here.
Not that the gains we've made are equally enjoyed by all Canadian women. Just ask anyone living in PEI or New Brunswick or in First Nations communities or in any remote area.
So we can't afford to take our rights for granted. Today bloggers from all over are writing about M-312 - Dr Dawg for example, and the fine folks at Dammit Janet are tracking the issue and responses. There is a great Collection of resources on the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada's website, including petitions (online and hard copy), letters to MPs, facts and arguments and other tools.
And then there's my favourite response, the Radical Handmaids. Using Margaret Atwood's novel as an illustration of where we might be heading, the Handmaids will be holding an action on Parliament Hill this Wednesday at noon. Wear red and show up at the Eternal Flame.
Women have fought so hard for what little equality we enjoy.
It's time to get angry and let MPs know we won't stand idly by while our rights are debated like so many angels on the head of a pin.
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I have watched this video a couple of times now, with Conservative members of parliament participating in the It Gets Better Campaign. And the more I watch it, the more upset I get. What hollow, shallow words from members of a government that has done absolutely nothing to make it better for LTBTQ kids, and in fact have passed numerous policies and perpetuated attitudes that contribute to our society's rampant homophobia and transphobia. They want to tell kids who are suffering from homophobic and transphobic bullying that it gets better? How they heck would they know?
Show me a video of a Conservative Member of Parliament recounting their own experience with bullying, with coming out as a teen - or, say, with being deeply closted and not able to come out at all for fear that it might negatively affect your political career. Let me see a video of a Conservative Member of Parliament who struggled with being so tormented by their peers that they considered ending it all just to stop the pain. Let me see a video with a Conservative Member of Parliament speaking from their own heart and soul and not the same words off the same script that all the other Conservatives in the video are reading.
Or better yet, don't show me a video at all, Conservative caucus members. Show me some real action to make it better. Support NDP MP Randall Garrison's private member's bill on trans rights. Or heck, have the courage to take it on as your government's contribution to strengthening our human rights legislation to cover gender identity and gender expression. And make sure it passes the Senate this time. Put real funding into mental health supports. Restore funding for the Court Challenges program and Pride celebrations. Forget the misguided notion of ending the long gun registry. Support the introduction of relevant sex ed curricula and Rainbow Alliance groups in your community's schools. Sever your ties with the Religious Right. Fight homophobia and transphobia by speaking out openly and honestly about it, and by refusing to tolerate it in your own caucus and your own party.
If you really want to put an end to bullying, Conservative Caucus members, then stop doing it in the House of Commons. End the childish heckling during Question Period. Treat committee witnesses and advocates who hold positions different than yours with respect and try listening to them for a change, instead of pretending you're on an episode of Law and Order and you're the prosecutor that's going to nail them. Think about what you're doing and what kind of message your behaviour sends to young people about what is acceptable.
Now I don't want to rush to a conclusion that the CPC MPs' video is a cyncial attempt to capitalize on a tragic event that has captured a lot of public attention. More than likely these MPs really think they are participating in the campaign in a meaningful way. I can't be angry about what are likely good intentions. I'm just profoundly disappointed that this is the best they can come up with. Bullied kids deserve better.
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So the Hintonburg Hub partners sat down with the local politicos last Friday - including the Mayor and Muncipal Affairs minister Bob Chiarelli - and the essense of the meeting was this: there's no money to help the partners secure the land at Bethany House. And no real desire to work to find some.
According to the Mayor, the $14 million set aside for housing initiatives is spoken for. Advancing a loan from the city to purchase is a non starter as the city is carrying other properties and is not prepared to add more costs here.
So much for that.
Minister Chiarelli suggested the partners apply for a "low" interest loan from Infrastructure Ontario. Unfortunately the carrying costs on these loans wouldn't work for the group - what they need right now is a grant to purchase the land, then the partners would bring equity to the table and begin fundraising for development costs.
Both politicians bemoaned the fact that the feds are not coming to the table with housing money. Apparently it was suggested that Paul Dewar could make a pitch to John Baird, the proverbial Hail-Mary pass.
Ah, the buck passing. Always a sign the political will to make things happen is just not there. If the feds kicked in some cash, would money suddenly appear in provincial and city coffers?
It seemed to me like a win-win situation - action on improving the afforable housing stock, providing front-line health care and social services and filling a gap identified by the community in extensive consultations. What's not to like? Plus it addresses concerns about rampant high-end condo development in Kitchissippi neighbourhoods, not to mention fears about big-box Shoppers Drug Mart sniffing around the site.
What's most frustrating is that this kind of opportunity doesn't come along too often - and not necessarily in conjunction with budgetary cycles or government funding windows. THe Hub initiative actually started back when the Feds were offering infrastructure money during the economic downturn. The partners put together a quick proposal and started looking for space. That didn't pan out, but it was too good an idea to drop. Now this space comes along, and it's really ideal for the kind of development the partners and the community want to see. And the government response is.... underwhelming.
Time to write your representatives, folks. Tell them Hintonburg, Mechanicsville, Wellington West, Champlain Park and other neighbourhoods want and need the services the Hub will offer, that affordable housing will help us keep the mix of incomes needed to ensure a diverse, healthy community. Tell them we're looking for creativity and problem-solving and we expect more from them.
And if that doesn't work... anyone got a spare $4 million?
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The proposal to revive the driveway cut-through of the Byron Pathway to the Ashcroft convent development has been removed from Tuesday's Planning Committee agenda. Peter Hume wrote a rather firm letter to the Hampton Iona Community Group, which states that "The November 2010 Council approved direction 'That access for development not be permitted across the Byron Linear Strip and adjacent Parkland' is in full force and effect. There are no plans for the Planning Committee to consider this report at some future date. The matter is now considered closed and as stated earlier the November 2010 Council direction is and remains in full force and effect."
The committee will still need to determine whether there will be an access via Shannon street or elsewhere.
What a bizarre turn of events. While it's gratifying that Hobbs has listened to the community and withdrawn the proposal, it's a little puzzling that she brought forward this initiative in the first place - despite all of the work that had been done by the previous council (much of it during the election period). Her communications to residents, some of which allegedly misrepresent the actions of the previous councillor, clearly attempt to pit neighbours against neighbours. It's a disturbing kind of politics, particularly unfortunate given her good work this week on the Devonshire playground file.
There won't be a rally on Shannon Street tomorrow, but the sign campaign and fundraising for the OMB appeal continues. Check out these tweets from @byronpath
I think the next battle needs to be fundraising for OMB. The appellants need to have case together for June 18. Reduce density & exits
Come to Byron path across from Kensington tomorrow 11-5 and we can try to sort out next steps. Bring cheques for OMB folks. ;)
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It seems that access through Byron Linear Park to the Ashcroft development at the former Soeurs de la Visitation convent is back on the table, contary to what the community had been led to believe.
Planning committee meets on May 24 to consider a recommendation that Council allow the cut-through.
This has taken most community associations by surprise. According to an email sent out by the Wellington Village Community Association president, Jason Thompson, Councillor Hobbs "let it slip" at last night's AGM that the issue is on the committee's agenda, and "this fact had not been included in the emails she sent out on the issue over the past week."
The WVCA president goes on to say that despite the Planning Department report's claim that residents in the area had been notified by mail, he had not yet found anyone who had received notification.
Community Association representatives met with Councillor Hobbs this morning and have given her a list of questions for the Planning Department to answer in writing (hopefully before Tuesday's meeting!).
From the WCVA email: What the meeting this morning made obvious was that Hobbs is totally committed to supporting the cut through Byron Park. She actually contends that this option will affect less of the park, because the Shannon route is longer, and continues to insist that all new city roads must be 16.5 metres (54 ft) wide, which would mean a Shannon which is wider than Richmond Road or Byron, let alone the other smaller streets in the area.
Here's the Hampton Iona Community Group's perspective on the issue, and the Councillor's handling of it.
And from another email circulated by Amos Hayes:
The only alternative on the staff's table is access through Shannon Ave. (currently a narrow street which dead-ends at the property.) This would have a significant impact on residents there. Even though it has been confirmed that the southern building parking will have underground access to Richmond Rd., the city staff and the councillor are suggesting that if there is no southern access, the developer will cut down all the mature trees on the eastern side of the property (Nun's Walk) rather than slightly adjusting building footprints to accommodate emergency/service vehicle surface access from Richmond Rd. You may recall that in November the committee was assured that all service vehicles would use the Richmond Rd. entrance either way, and that the Leighton Terrace entrance was to be the second entrance required for emergency vehicles only.
The community has been railroaded into a terrible either/or decision which pits neighbour against neighbour, all to reward a developer with an overly dense site plan. This is despicable and an affront to all communities. Please take some time to make yourself heard. Please also consider visiting http://hamptoniona.ca and donating time or money to the community appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board."
I'm not quite sure what to say. Just when you thought the Ashcroft business couldn't get any worse... it does.
Comments on the recommendation may be sent to the planning committee via:
Caitlin Salter MacDonald
(613) 580-2424 x. 28136
Also let her know if you'd like to be on the list to speak at Tuesday's meeting. It starts at 9:30am and will be in the Champlain Room.
UPDATE: Here's a Facebook group for a sign campaign that is underway. There's also plenty of discussion on Katherine Hobbs' Facebook page
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