Mitchel Raphael on summer MPs: flipping burgers, pushing kale - Macleans.ca
 

Mitchel Raphael on summer MPs: flipping burgers, pushing kale

The calories on the bus go . . ., Aren’t you a bit young?, Honour killings and Rona Ambrose


 

The calories on the bus go . . .
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is in the midst of his Liberal Express bus tour across the country. The bus has a supply of granola bars, a fridge stocked with Red Bull and “whatever food we picked up at the last farmers’ market we visited,” notes Ignatieff’s press secretary Michael O’Shaughnessy. After the Barrie, Ont., farmers’ market, for instance, there were “fresh cherries and some cinnamon buns.” There’s a water cooler on the bus and everybody writes their name on a hard plastic water bottle to minimize waste. There are also lots of flowers: Iggy’s wife, Zsuzsanna Zsohar, receives a bouquet or two daily at stops. At Tim Hortons breaks, Ignatieff, who drinks black coffee before 11 in the morning and steeped tea in the afternoon, will often pick up a 40-pack of Timbits for everyone. The bus recently stopped at the hamburger joint Webers, a famous pit stop in Ontario cottage county. While he was there, Iggy met Mike McParland, a.k.a. “Key Man,” who has been flipping burgers at Webers since July 1963 and carries signature clanking jail keys. Key Man took Ignatieff behind the grill to try him out and “was impressed with the leader’s flip of the wrist.”

Aren’t you a bit young?
Halifax MP Megan Leslie says some of her NDP colleagues send their constituents seed packages with their MP information printed on them. The seeds are usually for flowers, but Leslie decided to send out kale seeds because she believes in promoting sustainable food. “Kale is a nutritious, cheap food that grows in Nova Scotia but people don’t know what to do with it,” she says. On her packages, she has included a recipe for kale chips, and a local nutritionist who has planted the “Megan Leslie kale” plans to come to the MP’s meet-and-greet harvest fair with a new recipe and do cooking demonstrations. Now that Leslie is back in Halifax more, she is working out again at her home gym, which happens to be part of a seniors’ retirement home that offers community memberships. Leslie, who is 36, says she is the youngest person in the gym. But then she’s used to that because it’s the same in the other gym she uses—the one for MPs on Parliament Hill when she is in Ottawa.

As the NDP’s new health critic, Leslie has been meeting with a lot of health policy analysts. She says she’s getting a lot of comments about her age, everyone saying “you are very young.” Leslie is hoping to go to Quebec soon for more French lessons: “They get you to talk about things you know.” Last summer her critic portfolio meant she had to learn the words for “housing” and “homelessness.” Now she will have to learn how to say “heart attack” and “obesity.”

Honour killings and Rona Ambrose
When Rona Ambrose, minister for status of women, held press conferences in Montreal and Mississauga, Ont., condemning “honour killings,” she never expected such a huge media turnout. They were the largest of her political career. Ambrose says the government is reaching out to communities to start a dialogue on so-called honour-based violence in order to develop strategies to deal with it. At the press conferences, Ambrose cited a report by social worker Aruna Papp for the Frontier Centre for Public Policy that outlines strategies the government could undertake to combat this kind of violence. Papp heard from Ambrose out of the blue after the minister read her report. The social worker was at the Mississauga press conference and is “still in shock” over the sympathetic response she got from the ethnic media who attended. She says she could never have dreamed of her report getting better publicity. When the two met, Papp says the minister “knew the issue even before I presented it to her. For the first time in 30 years I put my trust in a politician.”


 

Mitchel Raphael on summer MPs: flipping burgers, pushing kale

  1. Politics in Canada.

    In between uproars about things like the census, we indulge in the cute and folksy.

    • More like the mundane and boring.

      A Halifax MP goes to the gym? Really??…. I'm looking forward to next week's post, when Jim Flaherty does his laundry, and Gilles Duceppe goes to the dentist.

      • I'm sure you'd find it exciting if Harper was doing the touring.

        • Um, no I wouldn't… Why do you say that?

  2. It's nice to see that Mr. Raphael feels close enough to the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition to refer to him as "Iggy". Are they golfing buddies?

    I must confess that I cannot recall ever seeing Mr. Raphael refer to Stephen Harper as "Stevie"—a sign of inattention on my part, I am sure.

    • If her were to do that he'd receive a phone call from Demitri – and do you want to spend an hour of your summer listening to Soudas yell at you on the phone?

      • At least "Iggy" is more polite than what Mr. Raphael (or shall I call him Raffie?) no doubt calls him in private.

    • I take this break from our, um, conversation further down on this page to point out that I am in complete agreement that any use of the "Iggy" designation is very poor form. It is not that hard to spell the gentleman's name, and, as Leader of the Opposition and candidate for our Prime Minister, he deserves the respect of the people and the media not to be labelled with this silly contraction of his name.

  3. Rona Ambrose's statements against honour killing are admirable, especially since they represent the only enthusiastically-pursued campaign against domestic violence this government has seen fit to undertake in its four-year tenure. Bravo.

  4. Rona Ambrose's statements against honour killing are admirable, especially since they represent the only enthusiastically pursued campaign against domestic violence this government has seen fit to undertake in its four-year tenure. Bravo.

    • I'm curious, Sir Francis, to hear the details of a 'campaign against domestic violence', that you would like to see enthusiastically pursued by the government.

      • Well, it would be sort of like Ambrose's wise pronouncements against honour killings, but directed at white folks. You know, kind of a "Killing and beating on women is still bad" kind of message, something that might be considered a more urgent priority in a country where the gold standard for misogynist homicide was set by a white guy called Mark Lepine.

        Incidentally, I'm not entirely sure what impact this message—delivered by an atheist Caucasian female—is expected to have on the tiny fraction of fanatically devout, culturally insular Muslims and Hindus who would be tempted to commit the crime against which she is campaigning. Are we expecting some thug to meditate to himself, "Well, I was seriously considering stabbing my promiscuous daughter to death, but I hear this Rona Ambrose thinks that's a bad idea, so I guess I'll pass"?

        • Are you expecting some white trash, drunken cretin to see an add on the bus that says "wife beating is illegal" and immediately mend his tattered ways and forsake his power-seeking fetishes?

          I'm not exactly understanding what your point is. Is it that these types of minister-backed 'campaigns' against things that every right thinking person knows to be morally reprehensible are pointless, or that they're useful, if pursued enthusiastically, but that this one in particular was misdirected?

          • I'm saying a bit from #1 and bit from #2. The campaign is pointless, and its pointlessness is misdirected.

          • Well you have all of your bases covered, then. Kudos.

      • I had a kind and earnest young woman come to my door yesterday to raise money for a Red Cross campaign aimed at domestic abuse and domestic bullying here in Canada–specifically, my neighbourhood.

        I didn't contribute because I felt strongly that the Red Cross's mandate was to respond to natural and other disasters. While I have no doubt if you are abused or bullied at home you feel it is a disaster–I think it is outside the Red Cross purvue. And I really hate it when charities have to morph into something else just because the staff can't bear to let go. Like MADD, who raised so much money they had nothing in their bailiwick to spend it on, or a charity whose disease is cured . . / but I do think the government has a role to play here. I always did like Rona Ambrose, not sure why Conservatives don't (unless whatever it is about her that I like is the thing the Conservatives don't like) and good on her for being up on the file.

        • …good on her for being up on the file.

          Yes, except she's sure to do no good for the file whatsoever.

          I think a fascinating question here is why Harper would choose Ambrose as the spokeswoman for this campaign, knowing (as he must) that she's probably the worst possible choice for it. Michaelle Jean, a visible minority with a national profile and level of credibility much higher than Ambrose's, would have been a much better selection, and the campaign would have fit her unofficial job description—to advocate on behalf of worthy causes.

          Allow me to be a cynic (for once) and suggest that Ambrose's lecturing to our Muslim and South Asian communities might not be totally unconnected to the government's recent anti-employment equity announcement and its vendetta against the head of StatsCan, who just happens to be called "Munir Sheikh". There's a message being sent to a certain constituency here, and it's not about violence against women.

          • Normally I'd say you're dabbling into dangerous Emily-esque territory with that final paragraph, Sir Francis, which reeks of irrational paranoia (or maybe you were offering satire?), but I'll let you explain. Are you implying that the Conservatives are willing to alienate the rapidly growing Muslim and South Asian constituencies in order to pander to the redneck, racist constituencies that already wouldn't consider voting for any other party? Ya sure? And you're suggesting that their census position has anything to do with the ethnic background of the most recent Chief Statistician? Ya sure?

          • I'm trying to veer into rational paranoia here. I just think it's odd that three recent initiatives—the first one inexplicable to most experts and defended weakly by the responsible minister, the second effectively rescinded almost immediately after being announced, and this one fatally hobbled by the nature of the messenger—all have multicultural/ethnic angles and seem fairly pointless if measured according to the announced objectives. Granted, this is just a hunch (or what Tony Clement would call "hard data").

            At any rate, as much as I appreciate seeing violent misogyny attacked via the condescending, race-based bloviating of Albertan WASPS who have zero credibility or leverage in (or knowledge of) the communities they wish to reach, I would be even more delighted to see Harper refund Status of Women four years after ripping over $5 million out of the program and closing about 90% of its regional offices. Women seeking safety from violent men will find no refuge in the breeze emanating from Ambrose's flapping lips; they can find refuge in women's shelters, which seem to be not quite as important to the government as those spanking new F-35's.

          • I'll say it's just a hunch, the type of hunch you'd normally scoff at if it came from a conservative.

            And I've never understood one WASP telling another WASP that they can't really understand the needs of non-WASPs as much as the latter WASP can because the former WASP is just a WASP.

            Listen, I'm sure if women from 2000 could visit women in 2010 they'd be absolutely ashamed at how far we've regressed as a society. Their rights have been abolished and their livelihoods shattered. I get that. I'm all for funding actual on the ground clinics, but I'm not a huge fan of giving feminist academics massive grants so that they can go on about this type of thing. To the extent that the latter is minimized, and the former funded, I'm happy. And my understanding is that it's only the latter that's within federal jurisdiction. So get back to me.

          • And I've never understood one WASP telling another WASP…

            We might be one WASP short there, Olaf, as I'm actually a BACC (Beige Anglo-Caribbean Catholic).

            I'm sure…women from 2000… [would] be absolutely ashamed at how far we've regressed as a society.

            You do realise, don't you, that your arch hyperbole is perfectly embodied by the initiative you're defending, the premise of which is that the practice of honour killing (which have numbered 12 over the last eight years, apparently) is some kind of national emergency threatening to rend Canada's social fabric to pieces, rather than an aberration?

            To the extent that the latter is minimized, and the former funded, I'm happy.

            Great. So let's fund bricks-and-mortar projects (which is a huge part of SWC's mandate, by the way, and well within federal jurisdiction) and not waste time on self-satisfied "kittens-are-nice" press conferences, while leaving the cultural indoctrination to local street-level community organisations that are better equipped than Ambrose to connect with the relevant target groups.

          • Well, whether you're a WASP or a BACC (and I can assure you that all of Ambrose's ancestors weren't technically Angels from lower Saxony), you're equally unqualified to lecture Ambrose about what she should and shouldn't understand about Muslim and South Asian Canadians.

            And did you really take from what I said that I'm "defending" any initiative at all? Again, I feel the need to point out, that I can think you're wrong without thinking that the person you're criticizing is right. If you want to actually respond to my criticisms of your statements, instead of pretending they're defenses of some vague initiative, I'm all ears.

            What bricks-and-mortar projects are you suggesting is well within federal jurisdiction, exactly? But otherwise, I agree.

          • What bricks-and-mortar projects are you suggesting is well within federal jurisdiction, exactly?

            Women's shelters. They receive federal funding through SWC, even though social services (basically part of what the BNA Act quaintly calls "eleemosynary") are technically a provincial responsibility. Go figure.

            …you're equally unqualified to lecture Ambrose about what she should and shouldn't understand about Muslim and South Asian Canadians.

            The only qualification required to assert (and understand) that communicating with a specific cultural community is easiest for someone who is actually from the community in question is, in my view, common sense.

            And did you really take from what I said that I'm "defending" any initiative at all?

            Right. So we agree that Ambrose's speechifying was a total waste of her time and ours. Isn't consensus wonderful? Makes me feel all…Canadian.

            I just hope consensus isn't also elitist

          • The only qualification required to assert (and understand) that communicating with a specific cultural community is easiest for someone who is actually from the community in question is, in my view, common sense.

            Actually, it sounds a lot more like a sweeping generalization that holds little esteem for the community in question.

            A Canadian federal government minister serves ALL Canadians, even your hyphenated ones.

          • A Canadian federal government minister serves ALL Canadians…

            …except when she decides to single one group of Canadians out as women-killers.

          • So your common sense dictates that we get a "one of their kind" spokestoken up to the microphone, because that's the way, as your common sense dictates, we can get that crowd to pay any attention?

            I will never, ever, subscribe to such a horrible way of thinking about people.

          • So, when a WASP targets an ethnic or religious group for a scolding that applies ten-fold to mainstream Canada, it's perfectly fine; but expecting such a scolding to come from someone who could speak from within that community is outrageous race-baiting. Got it.

            I'll keep that in mind if I ever hear of an atheist, lesbian provincial NDP minister convene a press conference in order to announce to Canadian Catholics and Jews that, in her view, Catholicism and Orthodox Judaism are barbaric gay-bashing, woman-hating superstitions that she would be delighted to see expunged from Canadian society as quickly as possible.

          • Wow, your thinking is getting quite wobbly.

            It is your OBJECTION to anyone — a government minister, no less — condemning a barbaric cultural practice that kills people because you don't like that she isn't "one of those people." THAT's what brought me into this thread. You have started meandering about after that. I hope you might find your way home now.

          • Great. You've read the thread. The next step is understanding it.

            My objection is not an abstract repudiation of one's right to critique the habitual, culturally-driven criminality of those from ethnic communities to which one does not belong. My objection is to Ambrose appealing to a community upon which she has no chance of having an impact, and so doing concerning an issue that applies to Canadian society as a whole. My objection is based on the objective fact that her actions are useless, not on some demand in principle that she be a certain kind of person.

          • Hey, Phil, roll the tape! The only qualification required to assert (and understand) that communicating with a specific cultural community is easiest for someone who is actually from the community in question is, in my view, common sense.

            Splice! My objection is based on the objective fact that her actions are useless, not on some demand in principle that she be a certain kind of person.

          • I guess what's fascinating here is your inability (or perhaps unwillingness) to understand that the two statements are entirely consistent. Let me help you with the complicated English that occurs throughout the thread.

            First, I say that communication is easiest between people with similar ethno-religious backgrounds. If you wish to contest that, I invite you to do so.

            Then, I say that there are others within Stephen Harper's orbit who would be more effective than Ambrose in communicating with the community in question. Contest that if you wish.

            Then, I say that hearing Ambrose denounce honour killings is hardly going to deter a madman from committing an honour killing, and that having a "dialogue" on the question is idiotic. We have the Criminal Code, which provides all the "dialogue" on the question of homicide we require.

            But, hey…prove me wrong, MYL. Feel free to provide the observable evidence, which I presume you have, that Ambrose's bold (and unprecedented) declaration that murder is bad has had a measurable impact upon the well-being of Canadian women.

          • First, I say that communication is easiest between people with similar ethno-religious backgrounds. If you wish to contest that, I invite you to do so.

            With that, you confess that you STILL have not read my very first response to you on this page.

          • Your very first response was a glib vacuity that mumbled something about a "sweeping generalisation" without unfolding an actual argument.

            If you really wish to argue that a conversation between two third-generation WASP Canadians will occur no more effectively than a conversation between a Swiss Jew and an Indonesian Buddhist who both speak broken French, the burden of proof is on you, I'm afraid.

          • Then, I say that there are others within Stephen Harper's orbit who would be more effective than Ambrose in communicating with the community in question. Contest that if you wish.

            I agree the Justice Minister or Citizenship Minister (maybe others?) may have been better suited.

            But if your "others more effective" line is a variation on your objectionable theme that the CPC caucus should have sent somebody closer to the ethnicity of the group to speak with them…

          • Then, I say that hearing Ambrose denounce honour killings is hardly going to deter a madman from committing an honour killing, and that having a "dialogue" on the question is idiotic. We have the Criminal Code, which provides all the "dialogue" on the question of homicide we require.

            That's not what dragged me onto this thread, and you know it.

          • My objection is to Ambrose appealing to a community upon which she has no chance of having an impact…

            There you go again! No chance of having an impact — does your "common sense" tell you that? Is that because she has a major speech impediment? Or is it because you just know that "those people" will as a group ignore her because, as per your common sense, "those people" are incapable of paying attention to anyone but their own kind?

            I am trying very hard to NOT believe that you think like that. You're making it difficult.

          • Yes, God forbid anybody should suggest that message-reception, which is inherently values based, has any demographic connection whatsoever.

            CPC strategists base their entire propaganda program on the tribalistic meme that Ignatieff is not "one of us" (a particularly powerful appeal on the Prairies, strangely); marketers base multi-million-dollar campaigns on niche demographic-targeting, premised on the theory that the better you know your market, the more effectively you're able to reach it.

            But they're really all just fools.

          • MYL: I am trying very hard to NOT believe that you think like that. You're making it difficult.

            With your subsequent comment, I am suitably reassured that I should stop trying so hard. Good night.

          • I'll keep that in mind if I ever hear of an atheist, lesbian provincial NDP minister convene a press conference [etc., etc.]

            Catholicism and Judaism do not dictate government policy, the Criminal Code, the Courts or our Charter rights. Nor should they. Your "delighted to see expunged from Canadian society" hyperbolic nonsense suggests that it is time we tuck you in and turn out the light.

          • Catholicism and Judaism do not dictate government policy, the Criminal Code, the Courts or our Charter rights.

            Nothing in my comment suggested that they did. There's that whole "understanding" thing again.

          • to single one group of Canadians out as women-killers

            Care to tell us what, in your mind, that "one group" is?

          • Gee, Madeyoulook—Ambrose held the press conference at a Punjabi community centre in front of a mainly Indo-Canadian audience, so you tell me…

          • And if her remarks included anything resembling:

            All you creepy Punjabi Asian men make me sick, the way you kill all your women because your violent strength over your spouse likely compensates for deficiencies elsewhere

            …I will join you in the condemnation.

          • I will join you in the condemnation.

            No you won't.

          • That's too bad. I would have hoped you would condemn such an attitude.

          • But I recall the news at the time discussing her remarks that there exist MANY regions of the world where such a barbaric cultural practice is still tolerated, and that new Canadians from such regions — both men AND women — can find a sanctuary from such a horrible philosophy towards girls & women here in Canada.

            I am having trouble teasing out what you find objectionable about that. Other than your *ahem* common-sense objection that a pigmentally-challenged government minister dared speak up about it.

          • …new Canadians from such regions…can find a sanctuary from such a horrible philosophy towards girls women here in Canada.

            Thank God for that, and thank God the situation is so obvious that it need not be pointed out by politicians at pointless, phoney, photo-op-driven press conferences.

          • Now I must simply conclude that you are deliberately ignoring the ridiculous point you were making that got me to respond in the first place. But since that is presumptuous of me, I will allow for the possibility that you can't keep a simple thought straight for a few comments. So, here goes, again:

            Your assertion that a minister is not suitable for addressing any collection of Canadians says nothing about the minister, nothing about those Canadians, and far too much about you.

          • Oh, and about this:

            I'll say it's just…the type of hunch you'd normally scoff at if it came from a conservative.

            I never scoff at what comes from conservatives, because it always sounds too much like me. I do scoff at much of what comes from "conservatives", to the preposterous flotsam and jetsam of which has now been added the earnest desire to "dialogue on violence".

          • So Munir Sheikh's resignation has a racial angle because he's ethnic. And Rona Ambrose's campaign against honour killing has a racial angle because she's not. Your standards for detecting a racial angle seem awfully low.

            You know, there are times when your arguments are quite sound and rational. Now is not one of those times.

          • Well, hold on a minute. Must we be of the (or at least a) visible minority before we can discuss this sort of thing? Isn't that discriminatory in itself? Harper can't order Michaelle Jean to do anything, and I thought she was a liaison of some kind to the UN? Where, of course, she could advocate for this campaign, but it wouldn't be Canada-centric.

            If you are suggesting that men who adhere to honour killings would be unlikely to take the word of a woman, you have a point. But it would be equally valid whether the woman was of a visible minority or not, surely? I mean, you aren't suggesting that a Muslim woman would get through to them, right? If you were, would this even be a discussion? Wouldn't they have done that by now?

            On the paranoia front (rational or otherwise) I am worrying that the paranoia is real on the refugee front already, so I'm not sure I disagree with you there.

          • Harper can't order Michaelle Jean to do anything…

            Oh yes he can. The GG's office is totally a creature of the PMO and has been for decades. A Governor General acts and speaks at the direction of the prime minister, with only a tiny bit of latitude allowed for personal preferences.

            The fact is that Harper is blessed with a number of MP's who could have taken this issue on (for all the good it's likely to do) with an authentic feel for the cultures being addressed. That's not happening here, and I can't imagine that anybody in the CPC really believes that this initiative is going to help. It's pure optics, which is fine—that's part of the game, but let's can the mawkish stuff about the CPC's "commitment to women". We saw the rancid cynicism of that commitment in 2006.

          • I was considering Michaelle Jean as not the GG anymore. He could, I suppose, advise her to take up this initiative for the few weeks she has left–worse than useless, but that wouldn't stop him, you are right.

            You don't think Rona Ambrose can be empathetic (wrong word, who can be empathetic with honour killings) with the culture that begets honour killings? But some other MP could? Who, I'm curious to know?

            Like I said before, I think Rona Ambrose gets a bad rap and I don't know why. Not that I particularly know her or anything, It just seems to me she's not taken seriously from the getgo, and I can only surmise it's because she's pretty. On the other hand, she may be pretty and dumb as a stump and I just haven't seen evidence of that because I haven't looked hard enough.

            I'm not arguing with your main point, by the way, that this is meant as an optics thing, with no serious resolution in mind.

          • Wow. Jenn, I need to take that back. I had somehow evolved a vision of the CPC caucus that was far more heterogeneous than it really is. I just consulted the Parliamentary website and was reminded of how monochromatic that caucus is. My God. It's like a Utah Shriners convention. I think the Vienna Boy's Choir is more multicultural than the CPC benches.

            Anyway, they do have Nina Grewal, but that's pretty much it. So I guess Ambrose was, in relative terms, not such a bad choice after all.

        • As a side note, I love the CPC's total appropriation of soggy liberal-speak: the government is "reaching out to communities to start a dialogue on so-called honour-based violence" and presumably join hands and lead a rendition of "Kumbaya" in the process (really, who "dialogues" about fanatic violence?). A truly conservative government would simply provide a monologue, along the lines of "Hurting a woman is a criminal offence, and it will land you in jail".

          • Indeed, the soggy liberal speak is in danger of causing mass tooth decay. However, if they refuse to adopt it, they'll no doubt be seen as "racist". Platitudes are so much a part of political discourse now that their absence creates instant suspicion. I wish it weren't so.

          • We really are impossible–all of us.

            We complain when they say what they mean, we complain when they hide what they mean, we complain when they don't say anything at all, we complain when they use too many words to say something.

          • Can I pull out my "Jenn_ for LPC Leader" banners again?

          • I've missed you.

          • We want a politician who "speaks his/her mind", then we heartlessly massacre them as soon as they say something we don't like. I really get tired of hearing people moan about the quality of political discourse nowadays. The fact is, our 24-hour-a-day electronic news media, with its heavy emphasis on instant sound-bites, simply does not mix well with our human nature. Specifically, it does not mix well with our very human tendency – reinforced by eons of evolution – to brutally over-simplify complex issues and mold them to fit our own biases. Politicians are left with no choice but to be craven, opportunistic, shallow, vapid, and utterly void of substance. We practically insist on it. We hate politicians, but our own human nature created them. Every single one of them. If you want a good primer on just how ill-equipped our brains are to function in modern society, read Nasseem Nicolas Taleb's works, Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan. They're mostly about markets and finance, but he does a terrific job on explaining the frailties and flaws of the human thought process as it pertains to modern living.

        • And I really hate it when charities have to morph into something else just because the staff can't bear to let go.

          Like activist feminism in the Canadian context? I don't mean to be glib (which might ring hollow, given how glib and simplistic that comment was), but this is my instinctive (and to some extent ignorant) reaction to the overwrought claims of 'systemic gender discrimination' and 'misogyny', at least insofar as those claims are directed against this country.

          But your general point is well taken.

          • You know, I too find it hard to believe when I am discriminated against because I am a woman. Yet, only yesterday, I was. It is at least as unbelievable to me, in this day and age, that "the woman" of the office is to be responsible for keeping the "manly" offices clean and neat and tidy. Because of course, I don't have a REAL job. I have no training, no skills, nothing more to bring to the table than an untrained monkey. That is plain to see–look at my gender.

            Yes, this has nothing to do with government–bigots can be found anywhere. But since they can be found anywhere, that would include the government. And it happens all the time.

          • See, I'm interested to hear this story, especially coming from a credible source. Can you elaborate on how you as a woman were forced to clean the mens' offices? And how that's in any way deemed acceptable behaviour? Because I know that anything so untowards would be immediately reported and dealt with severely in my office.

          • Well, you should know that I'm pretty much as opinionated at work as I am here. Really, I am the same everywhere. Needless to say then, it wasn't anyone actually working in my office that said that. It was a 'guest,' a visitor who went up and inspected everybody's office, then said (and this is an exact quote) "Why isn't the woman (thumbing over to me, who was standing right there) cleaning these places for you?"

            Awkward silence, then tepid laughter and quickly moved on.

          • I'm not really sure what kind of 'visitor' takes it upon himself to inspect everyones office. But yes, I can see how that would be an unwelcome interjection. At the same time, I tend to think at this day and age, most people (men included) thought the less of him for it, and not yourself. But overall, you're right, there are certainly still bigots out there, and more often just people who indulge in stereotypes. And I don't think it's only white males who indulge in stereotypes, although we may be the only ones dumb enough to say them out loud as if they are acceptable in pleasant company.

          • Oh, goodness no. Bigots come in all colours and genders. And it isn't only white males who make the mistake of saying it out loud. Maybe its because we have more white males than males of specific visible minorities that we hear more about them.

            I'm pretty sure both my bosses would have been extremely upset if I ever took it into my little head to barge into their office and start moving things around (in fact my *real* boss and I discussed it early on–when I warned him I wouldn't do it–and he opined that would be a firing offense, anyway)

            By the way, I have no problem making the coffee (although I no longer do it). But then, I'm the one that drinks it all! Okay, I have no problem serving the coffee at meetings or whatever. I am there to support.

          • …nothing more to bring to the table than an untrained monkey.

            HEY! Go easy on the careless and insensitive primate references there, would you?

          • Not until you guys lay off the Jedi's

          • Some of my best friends are jedis.

          • Careful, Jenn_. RR "flings" very well. And if you only knew what he drinks out of…

    • I too find it disappointing that the only domestic violence where they actually support women, is done partly out of the Conservatives' contempt for people of religious backgrounds that have different (and more violent) ways of discriminating against women.

      • Wouldn't it make sense to focus on the most violent instances of gender-based violence?

        • Perhaps it would. Do statistics show that there are more "honour killings" than other domestic killings in Canada? My hunch (you know, what the Conservatives operate by) is that "honour killings" is just a neat way for Conservatives to classify one sort of domestic abuse so it's clear to their base voters that they're really cracking down on immigrants with different religions and cultures.

          • Wouldn't it make sense to focus on the most violent instances of gender-based violence?

            It would make just as much sense to focus on the most frequent instances of gender-based violence.

            My own hunch is that more Canadian women die every year from the effects of anorexia than die from honour killings.

          • That may be, but it's not murder. More people die of cancer too, and car crashes, and suicide, and what have you. You have a point, I'm sure?

          • The point is to prevent the most harm, and the most serious harm.

            Here's something to consider. Drunk driving has killed more North Americans in the years since 9/11, than 9/11 or other terrorism has since WWII (or longer ago). The BP oil gusher may kill more humans indirectly than terrorism. The government's priorities are based on things other than facts.

            (In the United States the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 17,941 people died in 2006 in "alcohol-related" collisions…)

          • Well then we should really have a law against drunk driving, get some random spot checks out there, people driving intoxicated should lose their licenses, and while we're at it, we should get some commercials going that clearly show that each glass of beer you drink increasingly blurs your vision until you crash your car. Good thinking Saskboy, this is really a problem that hasn't been met with a coordinated response, and it's about time we take it seriously and forget entirely about honour killings.

          • Wrt deaths in "alcohol-related" collisions, is society at the end of the line, so to speak? Is there nothing left that we can do?

            I'm asking as you seem to be a relatively thoughtful individual, and I'm not really sure what else could be done, although I'm open to considering new approaches. I recall that there was a blog post that talked about some new approaches in Australia (or New Zealand?), but I can't recall the specifics…I'll try to provide a link…

          • Yea, I don't know, it's a fair question. I guess we could put those breathalizers in every car, so it won't start if you've been drinking?

            My point to Saskboy was, generally, that a government can attempt (however ham-handedly) to address one problem without ignoring a totally unrelated other problem. So, if I say that honour killings are something that we as a society (or certain subsections thereof) should take seriously, that doesn't mean I'm saying "alright everyone, drop everything you're doing, we have a problem here that needs solving… hey you, anti-drunk driving guy, need a little help over here on this honour killing thing". So pointing to another, unrelated problem, and saying "well you shouldn't even mention honour killings, because look at all the deaths related to drunk driving!" doesn't strike me as a rational or compelling argument. You can always point to other, more wide ranging problems (in terms of body count), but that doesn't mean the smaller problems aren't problems.

          • It's not "honour killings" it's gender-based violence and it is sadly and all-too-often inflicted by every religion or lack-thereof in Canada! To continue the drunk driving analogy, it would be like deciding that we would focus our anti-drinking-and-driving attention on Frosh drinking and driving because it was particularly identifiable, not because it was a particularly pressing or widespread component of the problem. The problem is drunk driving and the problem is violence against women.

          • Why isn't the problem just "violence" then? Men harm men through violence more than men harm women through violence, so why isn't that the problem? We can keep taking the issue to ever higher levels of abstraction, if you like, but that doesn't mean there isn't an identifiable and unique problem with honour killings.

          • I think the social and psychological factors behind many instances of men harming other men (with whom they have no sexual/familial relationship) are not all the same as those social and psychological factors behind spousal abuse and child abuse (but with some overlap, to be sure); whereas the social and psychological factors behind "honour killings" and any femicide committed by other skin tones, religions and cultures are identical.

          • whereas the social and psychological factors behind "honour killings" and any femicide committed by other skin tones, religions and cultures are identical

            Again, it really depends at what level of abstraction you want to consider.

          • why do you say that? are you saying that "honour killings" and any femicide committed by other skin tones, religions and cultures are different? or are you saying that the causes of all violence are the same? or something else entirely?

          • Didn't try to look for that older link yet…will still do that….

            Wrt honour killings, a tweak that I might have made to the Ambrose announcement would have been to explicitly setup the "dialog" within the larger context of violence against women in general, which could of course be setup within the context of violence in general. Perhaps she actually did that (I haven't actually read a transcript of her press conference(s)).

            But basically I agree with your line of thinking.

          • …but it's not murder…

            No, but according to North American feminism—the ideological premises of which pretty much drive Ambrose's portfolio—anorexia is the effect of patriarchal misogyny and the self-loathing it engenders in young women: it's about women killing themselves for men, basically.

            I give up. Look, if it is now to be considered a tenet of conservative governance that ministers of the Crown should occasionally facilitate a program of civilising "dialogues" with the just-off-the-boat rabble about how dreadful homicide is and how important it is to avoid it, then fine. We'll just have to agree to disagree as to the effectiveness of that tactic while waiting for the creation of a new super-ministry, the Ministry of Stuff That Sane People Know, that shall spend all of its time reminding Canadians of the civilised basics, like the importance of avoiding unnecessary cannibalism, the inadvisability of torturing cats in microwaves, the utter unacceptability of getting a bunch guys together and pillaging, sacking and torching small Northern Ontario fishing villages, and so on.

          • I really think we don't have to agree to disagree, because we agree. I don't think that Ambrose's ventures will produce much of anything, and never suggested otherwise. I just don't know how you'd have her better divert her resources, nor do I think your criticisms are entirely reasonable so much as animated by a rather deep loathing for the current government. Quite frankly I think we could do without the portfolio altogether, but we all know that would take the women in this country immediately back to the 1890s (as they can't, at this point, operate as individuals), and so the mere thought is off the table.

          • You're grossly over-simplifying anorexia nervosa. Severe anorexia (the type that is most often deadly) is a psychiatric disorder, with biological and genetic origins, much along the lines of schizophrenia. And there's enough medical research backing this up that I feel quite confident in making the assertion. The sufferer actually has delusions that they are overweight, even when they are skin and bone. They actually see a fat person in the mirror, just like a schizophrenic actually "sees" the CIA spies tailing him. To them it is reality.

            Like most psychiatric illnesses, anorexia shows a strong bias for one gender over the other. More men are schizophrenic for example, while there are more female bi-polar suffers. Granted, the anorexia numbers are very heavily skewed towards women, but that by itself does not automatically mean it is caused by social pressures.

            There are some mild cases of anorexia that are believed to be social and/or psychological – as opposed to biological – in origin, but these mild cases are quite easily treated with therapy if caught early. But the severe, deadly form of anorexia is nearly always accompanied by actual delusions of excessive weight, and is extremely treatment-resistant.

          • Using Tony Clement-style scientific evidence, I think the case linking eating disorder to social factors is probably stronger for bulemia than anorexia, please correct me if my hunch is baseless.

          • I find the attempt to characterize honour killings as just another ho-hum incidence of "gender-based violence" a bit much to handle. "No, nothing to see here, just run of the mill gender based violence where an otherwise upstanding citizen murders his daughter in cold blood for not wearing her veil. Pretty typical when you think about it."

          • Who said "nothing to see here"? That's not the point. The point is you could classify domestic abuse into cases where the violent spouse is drunk and call them "drunken killings" and go after those. There are no doubt many more cases, except the odds of the drunken spouse being a Muslim, is a lot less likely. There's nothing okay or normal about any sort of domestic killings (other than euthanasia).

          • No one is saying that there's anything ok about domestic killings. But the term domestic violence nowadays covers everything a woman throwing a book at her husband out of anger, to a man coming home every night beating his wife and eventually killing her. It's not an apt description of honour killings. The terminology is wrong and deliberately misleading. And yes, drunken killings are a problem, but the most common victims of "drunken killings" are men, killed by other drunken men. And drunken men kill sober women. And men are killed by drunken women. And drunken men kill drunken women. It's reprehensible, but it has the potential to affect all individuals, regardless of race, sex, age, or behaviour. You seem to be claiming that all killings are morally equivalent, and it's that which I respectfully dispute.

          • Yeah, because arguing that fighting violence with empty words is pointless is exactly like saying that the seriousness of the violence in question is negligible.

            Remind me Olaf—precisely what was your reaction when Harper fiscally disembowelled the Status of Women office in 2006? Was there an outraged Prairie Wrangler post on that?

          • See above.

          • ACK!! the point is the exact opposite, that there is no real difference between what we call "honour killings" when some people do it and gender-based violence when others do it, it's all femicide, and it's all abhorent, and it's root causes (I believe) are compatible in any social context. The white guy who beats and kills his spouse for 'making a fool of him' is no difference than the brown guy who kills his spouse or daughter for 'dishonouring him'

          • Ah, that is a good point.

          • precisely

  5. I fear we've sullied one of the few bastions of casual, pleasant discussions around here. Sorry about the mess, Mitchel!