Thursday, August 28, 2008

Meat Slices and The Canadian Way

I spend a lot of time here sarcastically yapping about the "Canadian Way" of doing things. One of the big Canadian stereotypes is that we're awfully polite and apologize quite frequently.

Well, when it comes to Canadian politicians, as I've said before, they apologize alright but it's half-assed, scripted and completely insincere. So imagine my surprise at the latest developments in the Maple Leaf Foods recall.

The whole thing is a complete disaster, with over a dozen people sick and many who have died. Class action lawsuits are in the works and everyone is pointing the finger at everyone else.

Except for Michael McCain. Who is Michael McCain?

He's the president of Maple Leaf Foods. So, in following the Canadian way, he's the last person you'd see sincerely apologizing but he is. On Wednesday, he held a press conference where he took full responsibility for the outbreak and went beyond that to say that it was nobody else's fault but his own. That people are upset and they should be, because well.. they fucked up.

Not only is this an incredible example of accountability at its best, but it's also an incredible smart business practice. Maple Leaf is losing millions of dollars over this outbreak but something tells me that they will recover because he probably restored a lot of faith in the mind of Canadians by being outright about the whole thing.

You know, researchers and politicians have spent a lot of money and resources into finding out why few Canadians vote. And I bet you if what McCain did was the norm and not the exception, then people might have better faith in their leaders.

But something tells me we're not going to see Harper making a press conference of:

"War in Afghanistan? Cuts to Status of Women? Reopening the abortion debate? Keeping homophobes and misogynists on the payroll? Cutting arts funding? Yeah.. my bad."

Something tells me that's not happening anytime soon...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

And The Feminists For the Win!

Today, a Canadian feminist rejoices.

Yesterday the Conservatives announced that they were revoking Bill C-484 and wanting to replace it with another more appropriate Bill after the (inevitable) Fall election. This new more "appropriate" Bill will be worded much more clearly and will place the focus on preventing violence against pregnant womyn as people and not as incubators.


If you’ve been following my musings here or the news in general really, you will know that Bill C-484 hasn’t sat well with feminists, lawyers and the medical community alike. Well it seems that us rabble rousers scared the Neo-Cons just a wee bit, so they are backing down on this Bill in order to win some votes in the election. I guess they figured that if we can mobilize quickly around this, then we can mobilize people to vote, too.

This hasn’t warmed me up to the Tories one bit and I don’t think the battle is over, quite yet. I mean, the very root of a Conservative platform is anti-feminist, in my opinion. But I think it is safe to say that this is an excellent example of Canadian democracy in practice.

Let’s face it, politicians of all stripes (with the exception of the Bloc) dropped the ball on this Bill. The Liberal Party has a pro-choice platform and yet the party was divided on the Bill. But the pro-choice community mobilized and demonstrated that we know what’s what.

And now you can see the results.

Canadian Feminists: 1, Conservatives: 0

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I Give Up.

The world in general is rather awful at times but Canada is taking the cake for me today.

We have Car Dealer Ownerships in Canada complaining that they have to close until 12:30pm on Remembrance Day.

And then we have someone posing as a murder victim's sister to solicit faulty donations. Tim McLean, the slain Greyhound bus passenger, was the target of con artists who posed as his sister and took money from people who thought they were assisting his family through economic hardship.

I realize that this is the ultimate Debbie Downer post and that there is a slew of fabulous things happening in this country (including, but not limited to, the fact that we now have Olympic medals under our belts!) But I just can't help but get downtrodden at times.

Humanity is pretty sick and twisted and when people are complaining that they're going to lose money because they have to close for 3 and 1/2 hours one day out of the year and other people are capitalizing on a horrific tragedy, it really makes you reconsider how you feel about your country.

Canada: Today I am ashamed to know you.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Olympics Bahlympics

Ahh…. the Olympics. A time when a country puts millions of dollars and common sense aside to show the world the very best they’ve got to offer. Which in Beijing’s case, isn’t much.

And although in a perfect world, the Olympics would be about the athletes and the years of hard work they’ve undergone, that’s definitely not the case. The Olympics are like a giant marketing campaign where a country covers up its worst and plays up its best. Whether their “best” is authentic or not. (Paging Beijing)

Being a former athlete (albeit not a great one) and growing up in a sports culture, I wish I could say that I am a giant supporter of the Olympics. And in theory, I am. These people train their entire lives for a moment in the sun, for a moment to be the very best. And it is so disappointing to see that moment overshadowed by bullshit politics.

So as much as I’m routing for all those athletes, here is my list of reasons why the Olympics (in my less than humble opinion) suck:

1-Mud Slinging: Regardless of which country is hosting, it always turns into a “You suck and I’m so much better” childhood fight but at the international level. Canadians are talking shit about the Chinese government but you know what? Vancouver is going to get it too. Have they not learnt that you shouldn't throw stones?

2- Television Broadcasting: Let’s face it, if you live in Canada right now, there is nothing else to watch but the Olympics. And I’m all about supporting our athletes but give me some variety here, people. Seriously.

3- News Fabrication: Because Canadians are doing less than stellar (as of today, no medals yet) and because of the heavy censuring of journalism coming out of Beijing, people are making mountains out of mole hills. Exhibit A: Fencer loses, which ya know… sucks and so she *gasp* ADMITS that it sucks and compares it to “getting kicked in the nuts” and is then forced to apologize for her "ignorant comment". The only thing ignorant about this whole thing is making an entire news story out of the fact that an athlete lost and wasn't happy about it. Can't win for losing, I guess.

4- Anything-To-Win-Attitude: Forget doping. Underage athletes is the new black.

5- Misogyny: It is well known that female athletes get the short end of the stick in sports coverage. NBA coverage versus WNBA coverage, or lack thereof, being the most cited example. So although the Olympics typically give fairer coverage to all athletes, the misogyny still persists. Perfect example being the newest rules governing beach volleyball uniforms. Male uniforms? Shorts and tank top. Female uniforms? Bikinis.

6- Athlete Bashing: Canada doesn’t give a rat’s ass about their athletes, says Silken Laumann and yours truly couldn’t agree more. We fail to give them enough money and then we throw them under the bus when they don’t perform well. Canadians are really great for touting the whole “Our Canadian Athletes” and putting mountains of pressure on them without actually giving them any kind of boost to get good in the first place. Then we kick them when we’re down. It’s the Canadian thing to do, apparently.

And finally

7- The Cost: Hosting the Olympics is so incredibly expensive that it is truly mindblowing. The creation of stadiums, arenas and event platforms, the “cleaning up” (read: sweeping under the rug) of negative imagery, the media, etc is definitely not cheap. Yeah it’s a temporary boost to the local economy but then it all comes crashing down when the Olympics are over and nobody gives a damn anymore. Couldn't the money be better spent elsewhere?

And that list is just the tip of the iceberg.

I'm not a total grouch and I will admit to getting teary eyed at all the commercials featuring profiles of athletes who are giving it their all. And if we're going to have the Olympics, then the existence of the Paralympic, Special Olympic and Out games is also mucho importante.

But the only real thing I love about the Olympics is when they're over. Okay, okay, the satire is pretty good, too.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Stay Classy, Ottawa

The maturity of Canadian politicians is often less than desirable. (See Exhibit A). Combine the immaturity of politicians with the sexist environment that is North America and you get this lovely little gem.

You get a Liberal Member of Parliament (man) telling a Tory Senator (not a man) "Marjory should go back to making tea for Brian Mulroney and stay out of serious people's business."

Real mature.

Now he has since apologized and even expanded on what he said to note that he wasn't intending to be sexist but merely to point out that Marjory does Mulroney's bidding and acts like his gopher.

In the sexist environment in which we live, I don't buy it. And quite frankly, as a freakin' Member of Parliament, you'd think he'd use grown up words.

But I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, since I live in a country where the Prime Minister uses such eloquent metaphors as "[Opposition's Green Plan will] screw everybody across the country."

And we have a Liberal staffer who insisted that "[You] Don't give people $25 a day to blow on beer and popcorn." speaking in reference to Government issued refunds.

And a current Tory with a history of homophobic comments that he so deliciously said on tape because well.. he thinks ahead like that. And when the tape went public, he said he was sorry and kept his job.
Moral of Today's Story: It's okay for politicians to act like total jackasses as long as they end it with a half-ass apology.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Rita MacNeil: Feminist Terrorist?!

When RCMP documents go from being classified to declassified, few people even know let alone get excited about it. From time to time, there’s a big stink made about certain information that becomes public; juicy tidbits of political fodder. But some recent documents that have become declassified are mighty, mighty important to note, folks.

“RCMP spies infiltrated Canada's women's movement in the early 1970s, monitoring meetings and rallies to keep an eye on feminists, including the popular Maritime singer-songwriter Rita MacNeil, new research into declassified documents shows”.

Take a moment. Breathe that in.

And we’re back.

Yes, that Rita MacNeil, the one with the Christmas specials and always doing duets with the Rankin Family? Her and a whole slew of other feminist activists were once viewed as possible terrorist threats.
This information and subsequent news story is definitely hilarious. Rita fucking MacNeil? A terrorist threat? Jeebus people. Really?!

But it’s also really, really interesting. Feminists carry around a lot of baggage in this country and I don’t think it’s simply a coincidence that the CBC chose to reproduce the select quotes that it did. The CBC article quotes the secret documents as having noted that “The memo on the Winnipeg conference describes one session as "consisting of about 100 sweating, uncombed women standing around in the middle of the floor with their arms around each other crying sisterhood and dancing."

Mmmm…. Sweaty feminists.

So what to make of this news? I’m not surprised that the government would have viewed feminists as possible communist terrorists. Let’s face it, as the article itself states, feminist organizations presented a radical new way of mobilizing and rejected notions of hierarchy and dominance. Seems rather communist to the untrained eye.

I never thought I would say this, but I long for the days when feminist groups were viewed as terrorist organizations. It seems much better than the way they are viewed today which is quite frankly, not at all. Feminist groups are seen as a nuisance, an annoying mosquito in the Prime Minister’s ear at best and they are never given a seat at the table. At least when we were deemed as some sort of “threat”, we got their attention.

I’m not advocating that us feminists do anything to merit ourselves the lovely badge of terrorist but some attention to the issues would be nice. Because let’s face it, the word feminist leaves such a nasty taste in people’s mouths that the CBC didn’t even dare include it in the title of it’s article.

Maybe I should change my name from Feminist Catalyst to Feminist Terrorist and I could start a Dream Team with Rita MacNeil at the helm. It could happen.

Friday, August 1, 2008

No Shit, Sherlock

The Obvious Article Of the Day Award Goes To....*drumroll*

THE NATIONAL POST! for their winner of a headline: "Witnesses on bus could be traumatized for years: experts".

If you haven't heard about the horrific, horrific incident in Manitoba on Wednesday, I'm not going to be the one to direct you to articles about it. They are graphic, horrific and unnecessary.

I am disgusted that news reports are giving such vivid and gruesome details of the incident without prefixing their articles with a loud GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING or something of the like.

In the case of the National Post, they seem to at least give a damn about the mental health of the witnesses. But why do they need to release such details in the first place? What benefit do Canadians have by knowing the exact and precise details about the incident? Does it change anything?

I don't think so.

Either way, I hope it goes without saying that my heart goes out to the family and friends of the victim and all the witnesses. This is fucking horrible.