9 posts categorized "headline news"

May 12, 2011

Giving Birth to Your Activist Self: Finding Your Voice as a Mother Activist

Workshop Handout for


Giving Birth to Your Activist Self:

Finding Your Voice as a Mother Activist

International Conference on Motherhood Activism, Advocacy, Agency

May 13-15, 2011 - Toronto, Ontario


Presented by

Sharon Aschaiek and Ann Douglas


  • Awaken. Hear your activist voice.
  • Respond. Know what to do with that call to action.
  • Collaborate. Form meaningful connections with other activists (online and in real life) to reduce isolation and maximize your effectiveness.
  • Communicate. Connect with the public and generate media interest in your cause.
  • Lead. Achieve consensus and inspire your fellow activists to action.
  • Succeed. Learn from successful activists. Discover what takes some movements over the top?
  • Sustain. Avoid activist burnout, which zaps your energy and enthusiasm. Fuel the fire within. Self care, professional development,  and sabbaticals are ways to nurture your activist self.



Ansell, Jeff. When the Headline is You: An Insider’s Guide to Handling the Media. Jossey-Bass, 2010.

May, Elizabeth. How to Save the World in Your Spare Time. Key Porter Books, 2007.

Moyer, Bill et al. Doing Democracy. The MAP Model for Organizing Social Movements. New Society Publishers, 2001.

Sussman, Amanda. The Art of the Possible: A Handbook for Political Activism. McCelland and Stewart, 2009.



Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)’s Media Activist Kit

The Citizen’s Handbook: Practical Assistance for Those Who Want to Make a Difference

Campus Activism.org: Movement Action Plan by Bill Moyer

Campus Activism.org: Event Planning Worksheet

Campus Activism.org: Four Core Elements of Strategy

Campus Activism.org: Organizing: Lessons Learned


Useful Social Media Tools and Platforms

Appbistro:  Directory of apps for Facebook Pages.

Bit.ly: URL shortening service (useful for Twitter).

Facebook: Social media platform

Flickr: Photo-sharing community.

Klout: A measure of social media influence.

LinkedIn: Showcase your resume and connect with others.

ManageFlitter: Manage your Twitter followers/following.

Oneforty: A directory of business-oriented apps for Twitter.

Posterous: An easy way to publish to multiple channels.

Storify: Combine content, including chat tweets.

Twitter: Social media platform.

YouTube: Video-sharing.


Sharon Ashchaiek

Sharon Aschaiek is a mother to a five-year-old boy with autism, a professional writer and an autism services activist. Sharon leads Autism Resolution Ontario, a grassroots, non-partisan, parent-run advocacy group protesting against Ontario’s severe autism services gaps, and working to achieve appropriate treatment and social justice for kids with autism.

Ann Douglas

Ann Douglas is active in the democracy movement and the women's movement, She volunteers with Citizens Advocating Political Participation and serves on the Board of Directors of YWCA Peterborough Victoria Haliburton. She is an author and mother of four. www.anndouglas.ca and www.onewomanoneblog.com

June 09, 2010

I Write Letters: On Democracy, The Copyright Bill, and The Gun Registry

I've been in letter-writing mode over the past few days. On Saturday, I fired off this letter to the editor of The Peterborough Examiner, which appeared today:

Re: How well do you know your politicians? (Fri. June 4)

Thank you for taking the time to survey local citizens to find out how many knew the name of our MP, Mayor, Prime Minister, MPP, Premier, Federal Opposition Leader, and Provincial Opposition Leader. (The survey revealed that local citizens are far more likely to know the name of our current MP than any other local politician.)

Citizens can't make informed choices at the ballot box on election day unless they have the opportunity to get to know all candidates on the ballot. For that reason, I would like to encourage The Peterborough Examiner to challenge itself to look for new and innovative ways to extend editorial coverage to the non-incumbents at all levels of government, so we can discover what they stand for and what they have to offer our community.

I would also like to challenge The Peterborough Examiner to take things one step further by asking area citizens what they want and need from all levels of government. Too often, politicians are allowed to set the agenda and determine what issues get discussed in our media and in our communities.

We are the people. The politicians work for us and are accountable to us. The more information we can obtain about how well our politicians are doing - and what other candidates have to offer - the better choices we will be able to make each time we head to the ballot box.

The media plays such a vital role in a functioning democracy. Thank you again for this important article.

Ann Douglas

And tonight, I wrote a letter to Peterborough Riding MP Dean Del Mastro, urging him to send Bill C-32 (the much-talked about copyright bill) to committee for some further work because it doesn't adequately safeguard the work of Canadian writers.


Dean Del Mastro, MP, Peterborough Riding
Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Heritage James Moore

Dear Dean Del Mastro:

I am writing to you to express my concerns about Bill C-32, which does not adequately protect the rights of Canadian writers or other creators.

The Writers' Union of Canada and the Professional Writers Association of Canada are just two of the writers' organizations which have issued press releases expressing serious concerns about Bill C-32 since it was tabled last Thursday.

I am urging you to vote to send Bill C-32 directly to committee to study, rather than allowing the Bill to proceed to Second Reading first. The Bill will require extra committee time because there are two different departments involved -- both Heritage and Industry -- and the changes being requested by Canadian creators are likely to be considerable.

I am also concerned that Second Reading approval might limit the kinds of amendments that might be possible.

Thank you for hearing my concerns.

I look forward to hearing back from your office to confirm safe receipt of this letter.

Best regards,

Ann Douglas

cc. Deborah Windsor, Executive Director, The Writers' Union of Canada
cc. Sandy Crawley, Executive Director, The Professional Writers Association of Canada
cc. Tanya Gulliver, President, The Professional Writers Association of Canada
cc. Stuart Harrison, Manager, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce
cc. Alan Wilson, Advisor to Dean Del Mastro

I also wrote a letter to a handful of NDP MPs, (on behalf of YWCA Peterborough Victoria and Haliburton, where I serve as a member of the Board of Directors) urging these MPs to shift their vote on the gun registry:

Dear Malcolm Allen, Charlie Angus, Nathan Cullen, Claude Gravelle, Carol Hughes, Jack Layton, Jim Maloway, Peter Stoffer and Glenn Thibeault:

Did you know that long guns and rifles are used in over 70% of domestic gun homicides, deaths that have clearly declined since the long gun registry was created?

With the RCMP in charge, the registry now costs $4.1 million annually to run and police search it over 4 million times a year.

It’s time to stand with the RCMP and Canada’s police associations. Time to stand up for vulnerable women and defeat Bill C-391. Your vote can save a life. 

Please search your heart and do the right thing.

Thank you.

Ann Douglas
Board Member
YWCA Peterborough Victoria and Haliburton

Lynn Zimmer
Executive Director
YWCA Peterborough Victoria and Haliburton

Theresa Butler-Porter
President, Board of Directors
YWCA Peterborough Victoria and Haliburton

December 12, 2009

Canada's Most Arrogant Prime Minister

They criticized Pierre Trudeau for his arrogance. Now the Conservative Party of Canada has given Canada its most arrogant Prime Minister ever: Stephen Harper.

Ask some long-term Conservative party loyalists what they think of Pierre Trudeau and you'll get the kind of reaction you'd expect from a resident of Dog River if you were to solicit their opinion of Wollerton: spitting or the verbal equivalent.

"I simply couldn't stand the arrogance of the man."

But times have changed and the Conservative Party of Canada is now being credited for giving Canada its most arrogant Prime Minister ever. Unfortunately, it's a gift that isn't easy to return, given our current voting system.

If the events of the past week continue to roll out the way some folks are predicting and Stephen Harper's government finds itself in contempt of Parliament for refusing to release complete, unaltered copies of the detainee documents, the finger-waving Conservative Party of Canada could soon find itself before the courts.

Wouldn't that be a tough one to explain to the we're all about law-and-order party loyalists?


Toronto Star: Jim Travers: Prisoner Issue Turns Into Dangerous Test of Wills: Jim Travers highlights what's at stake.

Toronto Star: Tories Defy Document Order: A roundup of the latest developments from Susan Delacourt, Les Whittington, and Richard J. Brennan .

CBC News: Lives at Risk if Afghan Info Released: Day: See final three paragraphs of the article: "Meanwhile, Peter Tinsley, the departing chair of the Military Police Complaints Commission has taken the Harper government to task for refusing to renew his term in the middle of the Afghan detainee controversy. It is unprecedented for the government not to renew his appointment....His departure will effectively halt the commission's ability to continue the public hearings — and send a 'chill' through other quasi-judicial bodies whose heads are appointed by the government."

Impolitical: If it's December...it's that time again: Note this bit in particular: "It's highly irresponsible for federal cabinet ministers to be so vigorously attacking their political opposition like this in staged theatre. It does damage to our democracy when they do this. What is the higher purpose? None. It's a show of what the opposition's in for. The danger of having such people at the helm of our government is always evident when they pull such stunts. They're prepared to say anything to advance their political survival." See her post from today, too: No longer in the mood.

November 03, 2009

Dean Del Mastro as the Patron Saint of Political Ad Spending

You would think that before Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro was invited to play the role of the Patron Saint of Political Ad Spending, someone might have posed the obvious question: is he the right man for the job?

Some folks in Peterborough Riding are shaking their heads, thinking about all those CPC-branded hockey pucks that were handed out at the United Way kickoff breakfast back in September -- and the annual Dean Del Mastro hockey tournament that is as much about scoring political points for the Conservative Party of Canada as it is about raising dollars for the United Way.

Raising funds for the United Way is a great idea, of course. But if you're doing it for the right reasons, why not leave the Conservative Party of Canada hockey jerseys in your hockey bag and invite politicians from all parties to get in the game. In this case, the reason is obvious: it's a branding opportunity for the CPC -- and you can't brand properly if there aren't any logos on parade.

And as for Del Mastro's intention to ask Sheila Fraser to investigate the sponsorship scandal? Given that Fraser has already done her job on this file -- her investigations led to the Gomery Commission -- Del Mastro comes across looking like another John Baird: a Harper wind-up toy who will carry out the will of the PM, no matter how foolish or facile.

[BTW -- Don't miss this deliciously snarky lesson in Parliamentary procedure, courtesy of Kady. I'm sure Del Mastro will be taking note of it in future.]

September 19, 2009

Economist Jim Stanford at Peterborough Public Library: Oct. 8, 2009 at 7 pm

Looking for someone to help you cut through all the economic double-speak - to explain what's really going on with the Canadian and North American economies?

Jim Stanford is an economist who actually makes sense (as you can see from this YouTube clip) -- and he's coming to Peterborough in early October.

Author and economist Jim Stanford will be giving a free public lecture at the Peterborough Public Library on October 8, 2009, beginning at 7 pm.

The event is being hosted by The Peterborough Community Legal Centre, Peterborough and District Labour Council, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, Trent Canadian Studies Department and the Council of Canadians.

Stanford's most recent book is Economics for Everyone: A Short Guide to the Economics of Capitalism.

Stanford received his master's degree in economics from Cambridge University, UK, and his PhD from the New School for Social Research in New York City. He was the founding chairman of the Progressive Economics Forum, Canada's network of progressive economists. In 2007 he was appointed vice-chair of the Ontario Manufacturing Council. Stanford is the chief economist for the Canadian Auto Workers union.


The Globe and Mail: Canada's Productivity Numbers Reveal a Real Structural Weakness by Jim Stanford

The Tyee: Fixing the Real Economy

Rabble.ca: Jim Stanford: Columnist

The Progressive Economics Forum: Jim Stanford

February 17, 2009

The Globe and Mail: Dean's Train is Officially a Ghost Train

I'm pretty sure this was the funding announcement that Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro was anticipating when he assured area residents as recently as a few weeks ago that ground would be broken in 2009 for the much-talked about Toronto-Peterborough rail extension (a project that has recently earned the nickname "the ghost train" around town).

Problem is, a train that doesn't head any further east than Markham isn't going to score many points with the voters who were railroaded into voting for Del Mastro by his promise to bring the train to Peterborough.

It would appear that the ghost train has met the same unfortunate fate as the ghost battery plant. Guess that leaves the ever-optimistic voters of Peterborough Riding with just two of four Del Mastro campaign promises to pin their hopes on: the constitutional amendment regarding property rights and the resort complex for Little Lake -- both far-fetched but not officially dead yet.

Return on campaign promise investment (current stats):
2 out of 4, just four months post-election.

Rating: Not impressed. Not surprised.


GO Transit infrastructure investment details (Government of Ontario press release)

Comments @ Maclean's Magazine about potential for Montreal-Toronto high-speed rail: A couple of readers can't figure out where Peterborough would fit into the picture, except as a political-point-scoring pitstop: "Dean likes this route to Ott/Mtl because his riding is along the way." "Despite the fact I would love and use a Peterborough stop, it should go along the lakefront." "I’m a big fan of high-speed rail but when it comes to Dean Del Mastro - what a chooch(oo)!"

Metrolinx: The Big Move: Regional Transportation Plan: Peterborough is included in the long-term plans (15 to 25 year time frame). These are the immediate plans. Of course, all this has to make its way through the provincial government approval process. And anything can happen when the infrastructure fairy godmother is dropping taxpayer money from heaven.

December 06, 2008

Don't Forget to Send a Rose to Your MP Today

The YWCA is asking us all to send a virtual rose to our MPs in order to lobby for a national action plan to address violence against women.Rosecampaign

If you wish to support the excellent work that the YWCA does throughout the year --in Peterborough and/or in your community -- you might be interested in knowing that this is the organization's tag day (an annual fundraiser).

If you didn't bump into a canvasser in person while you were out running errands this morning, no worries! You can donate to this very worthy charity in all kinds of different ways, either in Peterborough or elsewhere. (Note: I think very highly of this particular charity -- so much so that I serve on the Board of Directors for the YWCA of Peterborough, Victoria, and Haliburton.)

My MP may be quite surprised to get a rose from me -- but that's okay. Violence against women is an issue that crosses party lines. In fact, it's an issue that crosses all lines. And it can't be allowed to languish any more than it's been allowed to languish over the past three years.


If you're looking for a gift for that impossible-to-buy for friend, why not make a donation to the YWCA in her name? It's the gift that keeps on giving -- and saving lives -- year round.

December 6 - Create Your Own Remembering

December 6 - What You Can Do to Work for An End to Violence Against Women

December 6 - Remembering is Not Enough - Work to End Violence Against Women

December 03, 2008

The D Word

Do any of these techniques of persuasion sound familiar to you?

Comparing apples to oranges. For example, "Our government has spent more on culture and heritage (and sports and recreation) than the previous government spent on the arts.

Demonizing the enemy. For example, identifying political opponents as a threat to democracy or the country's future (e.g., describing a perfectly legal course of action under a parliamentary democracy as "undemocratic" or describing the proposed coalition government as Liberals and "socialists" supported by "separatists").

Straw man. For example, distorting an opposing position and then arguing against that distortion (e.g., the attack ads on Stephane Dion, which literally turned the Leader of the Opposition into a cartoon representation of himself; the gross misrepresentations of what the Green Shift and other Opposition policies and platforms were all about during the last election).

Loaded question or loaded statement. For example, posing a question -- or making a statement -- with an implied position that the opponent does not have. (For example, during the Federal leaders' debate, Harper made this statement which totally misrepresented Dion's position and thinking: "Last night, Stephane, you panicked. You came on the set and announced a whole new economic plan in the middle of a national debate. I know why you did that because you look at your platform. Your platform says we will spend billions of dollars we don't have and go into deficit. (You) will raise taxes that will kill jobs.")

And, of course, there are other similar techniques that have become all-too-familiar to political observers -- like telling half-truths, omitting key facts, and attempting to rewrite history by way of selective amnesia.

They have a name for a political leader who has mastered this political modus operandi: who holds on to political power by capitalizing on popular prejudices; preying on people's emotions and fears; resorting to propaganda campaigns to sway the electorate; and who encourages his followers to "Rally for Canada" by showing their support for him and his party.


"Demagoguery invites the externalization of hatred and anxiety, it is an institutional aid to projection; it justifies tabloid thinking, stereotyping, and the conviction that the world is made up of swindlers...There is no middle ground...the ultimate objective is vague, still the need for definiteness is met by the rule, `Follow the Leader.'"
- Gordon Allport, The Nature of Prejudice