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3 posts from April 2010

April 25, 2010

Sex Ed Curriculum Changes: Three-Part Series

I've been blogging up a storm about the sex ed controversy in Ontario over at one of my other blogs.

I've posted the first two parts of a three-part series:

Part I: No Need to Get Hot and Bothered About the New Sex Ed Curriculum

Part II: Why Sex Education Matters: Interview with the Founder of Scarleteen

More to come....

[Added 5/10]

Part III: The Sex Ed Files - Part III of III in a Series About Sex Education

Sex Education Obsessed: It's All Parents Are Talking About

April 17, 2010

My Visit to Dean Del Mastro's Constituency Office -- And What I Learned

The first thing you need to know is that I didn't want to be in this place – my Member of Parliament's office – following up on my earlier correspondence. I had hoped that the entire situation would be resolved quietly, behind-the-scenes, in a non-public way. And, given the choice between having this particular discussion in this particular location and being any place else on earth – well, you can guess where I wanted to be.

It all began well enough. Sandra Brownlie, Constituency Assistant, ushered me into the board room at the constituency office and began to review the materials I had brought with me.

Almost immediately, it became obvious to me that this was the first Brownlie had heard of the We LOVE Dean Del Mastro Fan Group and the libelous allegations posted in the news area of the group. She gasped out loud as she read the allegations in the news section. Clearly, she had not received the email that I had sent to her attention via the general contact account on the Dean Del Mastro constituency website.

It was also clear that she didn't want to end up being caught between a rock (the fact that the two of us belong to the same community organization) and a hard place (getting any heat from her employer). When the purpose of my visit became obvious – I wanted to ask Dean Del Mastro to intervene on my behalf to have the libelous statements removed from the We LOVE Dean Del Mastro fan group – she left the room to consult with someone else.

A few moments later, I was ushered into a backroom office and introduced to Alan Wilson. (Neither Brownlie nor Wilson provided his job title, but Wilson has been described as both Senior Advisor and Special Advisor in various media resports.) Brownlie exited shortly after introducing me to Wilson.

Wilson started out by asking me why I considered the comments on the We Love Dean Del Mastro Facebook Fan Group to be libelous. Because they are untrue and because they are in writing, I replied.

At that point, Wilson took the conversation in an entirely different direction. "You've done a lot of writing against Dean, haven't you?" he stated (a reference to the fact that that One Woman. One Blog. has often critiqued the policies of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) and more locally, its Member of Parliament in Peterborough Riding, Dean Del Mastro).

Wilson asked why I had brought my issue to Del Mastro's constituency office. I told him I had done so because I didn't think it reflected well on Del Mastro to have libelous and untrue statements about a constituent posted on a fan group that had been created in Del Mastro's honour. Wilson stated that he disagreed. Then he proceeded to launch into a series of rapid-fire questions that left me feeling like I was a guest on Fox News or a character in a Kafka novel.

Why do you attack Dean as much as you do? ("I don't attack him personally. I attack the CPC.") What do you know about him as a politician? ("That he is a member of the CPC.") You called him fatso. ("I never did. I never took out a kiiji ad. That's why I'm saying it is libelous and inflammatory.") Did you call him fatso? ("Never.") Did you call him a goof? ("Never.")

After a few minutes of this, the conversation got back on track. Wilson stated that he didn't know what to do about the group because "we don't know who [Douglas O'Driscoll, the group administrator: see footnote below] is. And I don't think Dean knows who he is either." I pointed out that Del Mastro family members belonged to the group (Dean Del Mastro's brother Doug was the first person to join the group) and that it shouldn't be difficult for Dean Del Mastro to make contact with the group's administrator, should he choose to go that route.

"Why would he do that?" Wilson asked.

I stated once again that I thought it reflected poorly on Del Mastro to allow the comments to stand.

"I beg to differ," Wilson stated. "I don't think his reputation is affected." He added that there are a lot of things that do reflect poorly on Del Mastro (referring to various unflattering comments that have been made about Del Mastro online).

"So I will advise Dean of this," Wilson stated as our conversation was winding down. "I will advise him to stay out of it."

[I can't help but wonder if Wilson would make the same recommendation to Del Mastro if the We LOVE Dean Del Mastro Group featured negative comments about the Harper government, a campaign contributor, or one of the MP's projects or causes. It might be more problematic to let those types of comments stand.]

The conversation continued with Wilson offering me some advice. Wilson told me that if I thought that the material written about me was libelous, I should find out who this person is and sue them. I responded by pointing out that there didn't appear to be a real person named Douglas O'Driscoll living in Peterborough Riding. [Earlier, I had conducted a search of Canada 411 and found only one Douglas O'Driscoll in all of Canada. There weren't any D. O'Driscolls in Peterborough Riding or area code 705. If there is a Douglas O'Driscoll who truly LOVES Dean Del Mastro, he certainly wants to keep a low profile.]

"That's one of the great dangers about Facebook, isn't it?" Wilson responded.

"It is, for sure. People can do irresponsible things," I replied.

"A lot like bloggers," Wilson said.

It was clear to me that Wilson had a bone to pick with bloggers; and that he was angry with me in particular. ("I'm not a fan of yours," he'd said. "That's okay," I'd replied. "We don't have to be fans of one another.) Earlier in our conversation, Wilson had offered me some advice about writing, based on the one post from my blog he'd read. (Someone had drawn it to his attention.) "From what I've read. I think you have a very naive view of what and how to write." He pointed out that he is an author.

Wilson stressed that he doesn't read blogs; he didn't have the time to; that the people associated with Dean Del Mastro were too busy trying to help people. "If there are negative people out there, it's their choice. It's a free country. Dean has put himself out in the political arena, so he's open to attack."

What he couldn't understand, he told me, is why Dean had attracted so much negative attention: "When people spend a chunk of their time (which I think is wasted) attacking a person who is working very hard to do a lot of good things for the Riding; and who will probably leave politics in another four years when he feels he has done what he can; and will leave a legacy—it's your choice to attack that person. I choose to help that person."



Good, like beauty, is apparently in the eyes of the beholder.

If I thought that Dean Del Mastro was doing the right things for Peterborough Riding -- or that the Conservative Party of Canada was doing the right things for Canada -- I'd be helping to lead the parade.

But I don't share his (or their) vision of Canada. I want a true north strong and free.

I am grateful that my parents taught me to speak my mind and to do what is right, even when it is scary to do so. I am raising my children to live their lives in the same way. Using your voice may be difficult at first, but once you've done it—wow: the way you feel inside, knowing you've been true to your values and that you're linking arms with all the other people who are counting on you to stand up for the things that really matter: it's one of the most amazing feelings you'll ever have. You get to feel democracy pulsing through your veins.



Douglas O'Driscoll (human or sock puppet) is no longer the Facebook administrator for the We LOVE Dean Del Mastro Facebook Group. The Douglas O'Driscoll account was deleted from Facebook sometime between Wednesday morning (when I visited Del Mastro's constituency office) and Saturday afternoon. The Douglas O'Driscoll account has also disappeared from Facebook entirely. The group is currently operating without an administrator.

By leaving the group and not appointing a new administrator, Douglas O'Driscoll account has cleverly ensured that the libelous information about me will remain on Facebook indefinitely – and Del Mastro can't be criticized for not intervening.

Here's why:

(1) It will not be possible for Dean Del Mastro to contact Douglas O'Driscoll because he is no longer the group administrator and he is no longer even on Facebook.

(2) Because there is no new administrator, Del Mastro cannot be expected to contact that person.

(3) The Facebook Group system suffers from a fatal flaw: if the last remaining administrator of a group leaves that group without appointing a new administrator, no one else can become the administrator.

April 08, 2010

Joel Parkes Describes Del Mastro Loyalists as Tea Party Crowd

Joel Parkes has written a number of Letters to the Editor to the Peterborough Examiner in recent months, critiquing Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro.

Each of his letters has triggered an avalanche of responses from Del Mastro loyalists, defending the MP's record.

Parkes had another letter published in last night's Examiner. In it he noted, in part:

As the "tea party" crowd rushes to respond to my specific criticisms of Dean Del Mastro I can't help but notice a pattern. There is no substantive reply to a substantive critique....Instead there is outrage at the tone of my criticisms. Partisan politics, as demonstrated by Del Mastro's supporters, is a kind of fundamentalism and, as such, tends to practice moral absolutism that manifests itself in demands that criticism be silenced rather than addressed. But that doesn't make those demands valid, or even ethical.

Parkes isn't the only letter writer whose Letters to the Editor encourage members of the Del Mastro camp to pick up their pens. Almost any critique of Del Mastro, however mild, will solicit a half-dozen or so outraged replies.

Heck, even this blog has attracted a libelous attack post on Facebook (from the "We Love Dean Del Mastro Group.") (Note: Letter to MP's office and related correspondence.)