63 posts categorized "blogging"

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

April 20, 2011

How Stephen Harper Changed My Life -- And How Ursula Franklin Spoke to My Heart

I never intended to become politically active. But after Stephen Harper was elected in 2006, Canada didn't feel like Canada anymore and I felt compelled to start taking action.

For a long time, I blogged here on a regular basis. During the 2008 election, I blogged many times per day in the rather naive hope that if I blogged often enough -- if I worked hard enough -- I'd be able to help convince my fellow Canadians that we needed a government that was progressive in its thinking (as opposed to the Reform Party of Canada rebranded).

It bothers me that approximately one-third of Canadians are willing to make trade-offs in order to keep Stephen Harper in power, because what they are trading off for lower taxes are rights and freedoms and the checks and balances that make for a healthy democracy.

I had no idea how much my life would change when I started speaking out -- how good it would feel to speak the truth about what I was witnessing and to form alliances with other Canadians who are just as disturbed by what has been happening to our country. At the same time, I also could not have predicted that I would be interrogated in my MP's office as a result of becoming politically aware and politically outspoken.

* * *211166_213410702017653_528485_n

During an unforgettable interview on the CBC radio show The Current last May, respected scientist and pacifist Ursula Franklin spoke about her time in a Nazi labour camp and the warning signs of democracy in peril. She sees some of those very same signs in Canada today and she is urging Canadians to be vigilant -- not to sleepwalk as many people do while their freedoms slip away. If you only watch one video (the interview is actually available on video) during this election campaign, I urge you to watch this one. It is powerful and unforgettable. You can find it here. (The interview starts at around the 27:00 minute mark in the video.)

* * *

We need to send a message to Ottawa through whichever candidate is elected in each of our ridings. We want voting reform now. Proportional representation would encourage the parties to work together as opposed to treating one another as combatants.

A Prime Minister who doesn't have respect for the basic rules of government -- who doesn't choose to acknowledge that the Prime Minister is accountable to the people of Canada through the House of Commons (not vice versa) -- should not be entrusted with the privilege of governing this country for one more day, let alone a period of months or years.

This election marks a turning point in the life of our country. We are at a crossroads. One arrow points toward a more progressive future -- the Canada we used to be. The other points to a future with Stephen Harper in control. It doesn't take much to figure out what kind of Canada that would be. I'm hoping enough Canadians will wake up from the nightmare of the past five years to put us back on the path to where we belong.


Note: I am participating in Mom the Vote -- an effort to encourage Canadian moms to think about the issues in this election and to vote. I will be voting in Peterborough Riding.


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.

September 21, 2009

Dear PR Firms Working on Behalf of Stephen Harper

Dear PR Firms Working on Behalf of Stephen Harper (or Friends of PR Firms Working on Behalf of Stephen Harper):

As much as I have enjoyed receiving the emails via your hotmail account, I'm going to have to request that you remove me from your mailing list.

While you obviously see yourself as providing a valuable service to bloggers (alerting us to the availability of pro-Conservative Party of Canada content on YouTube), you might be surprised to learn that most of us are capable of sourcing material on YouTube on our own. The search engine on the site is quite user-friendly.

Might I suggest an alternative focus for your firm: re-remaking your Leader's image in time for the next campaign?

After all, the Canadian public is already on to the blue sweater.

And the cowboy hat and the construction hat are getting a little tired, too.

Better come up with something fresh - and soon.

If you run out of wardrobe options, you might be faced with the task of re-casting the part of Party Leader.

And that could mean curtain time for you.

Best wishes,

Email recipient

June 17, 2009

Facebook Group Created for Those Who Oppose MP Dean Del Mastro's Little Lake Development Plan

IMG_2698 I just posted this to the wall of the newly created Facebook group We Oppose MP Del Mastro's Little Lake Development Plan:

I'm every bit as opposed to the process (the balloting process; how inappropriate it is for our MP [Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro] to be pitching a project on behalf of one private developer) as I am to the project (environmental concerns, conflict between Parks Canada mandate to project the land for everyone's enjoyment vs. how the land would be used by public developer).

Our MP should have backed away from this project the moment early objections about the project and the process were raised, as opposed to forging ahead with a highly flawed and undemocratic balloting process. Every day, more facts emerge about this situation that raise additional concerns about the project and the process.

So far, political checks and balances aren't serving the people of Peterborough well.

Perhaps a major media outlet with the investigative reporting resources to thoroughly research this story can help the citizens of Peterborough get the answers they deserve.


Impolitical: Conservative Dean Del Mastro Should Run for Peterborough City Council

Impolitical: Why Is Dean Del Mastro Taking Surveys on Behalf of a Private Developer?

Impolitical: Checking in on Dean Del Mastro's Survey on Behalf of a Private Developer

December 05, 2008

Members of the Coalition -- Keep Meeting! (From POGGE)

Reprinted from the blog Peace, Order, and Good Government, with permission.

December 04, 2008
Keep Meeting

[Promoted from a comment by Eric Finley to the last post. I'm taking his
preamble to mean he has no problem with this. I'm still mulling this
over myself but certainly this would demonstrate that opposition to
Stephen Harper and to the events of the last week isn't just some
fleeting, momentary frustration. And it would demonstrate that objection
to today's decision is based on both serious concern for our democracy
and for the urgency of the occasion. So, for your consideration,
consider this to be a guest post. -p]

Keep meeting.

To the coalition: Keep meeting.

Parliament has been prorogued. So you're not meeting in an official
capacity. But nonetheless meet as if you were not prorogued.

Find a site. Pay for it yourselves, and be explicit about that. You're
citizens meeting to speak. But in so doing, keep up the business of
Parliament. Debate. Draft bills. Hold (unofficial) committee meetings.
Vote... on memoranda of understanding.

Show the country, its citizens, and its investors that while you do not
argue with the legality of the delay, you see no need to go on vacation
in this crucial economic time. Assume (without even explicitly saying
it) that in January when Parliament reconvenes, Harper will fall, the
coalition will form government, and the memoranda of understanding and
drafted bills will be dealt with, bang-bang-bang, because you have
already hashed this out.

Invite the Conservatives to join you. If you get some momentum, you
might get no few disgruntled members willing to bet that Harper's fury
will not control their lives.

Let the Conservatives take an extended vacation. Shrink the proposed
vacation period instead, to mark the severity of the economic need.

Make it plain that you do not dispute Her Excellency's right to consent
to her nominal first minister's request to prorogue, and that you
respect her for making a difficult decision in uncharted waters. Open
each session with a consistent, well-crafted adaptation of protocol
which is sufficiently distinct that it does not trespass upon
Parliament's formal privileges... but that nonetheless shows clearly
that you do this out of the uttermost respect for the Queen, the
Governor General, and the Canadian people.

Repeat frequently that you're just trying to get work done now, so that
things can happen fast when the doors unlock in January. It can't be
trespass upon the privileges of government if its level of formality is
that of a caucus meeting.

Be completely transparent. Defeat the smoke-filled rooms meme. Heck,
hold it in a bar, if you can find one big enough.

The media will come to you. I can think of no more efficient way to
stretch your advertising dollars than a bold, newsworthy stroke like this.

If you do this, I will donate to the limit of my ability. I will write
letters to the editor praising your actions. I will take my four
children and go door to door. In Edmonton. In December.

Pass it on.


If you support this message, please consider re-posting it to your own blog, forwarding it to coalition government members, sharing it with coalition supporters in your community, and otherwise helping to spread the word that the coalition has the power of the people behind it.
- Ann

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

December 02, 2008

Pin the Minority on the Donkey Rally in Peterborough at Noon TODAY


From Emily Berrigan of The Green Party:

"TODAY (Dec. 2nd) at noon the Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro is holding a "Rally for Canada" across from Peterborough City Hall to show [his] disgust for a possible coalition government.

Please join me at the same rally in showing disgust for an unrepresentative government and support for cooperation in Canadian politics! (no matter what your stripe!)

We'll be playing 'Pin the Minority on the Donkey!'"

RSVP on the Facebook group


Peterborough Examiner story

November 10, 2008

No MP Left Behind

Radar Dean Del Mastro's big news wasn't the talk of Toronto, and because that's where I was this past weekend, it wasn't until this morning that I got the scoop on the second biggest news story in Peterborough: that Dean Del Mastro has been named Parliamentary Secretary to Heritage Minister James Moore. (The really big news in Peterborough these days is that Serena Ryder's second album is due out tomorrow.)

Harper certainly works in mysterious ways. It wasn't that long ago that Dean Del Mastro was at the bottom of the learning curve on this file. And now he'll be one of the key influencers.

No MP left behind.

The response from the Peterborough arts community has been less than enthusiastic, as you might expect. It seems that the only one around town who is gushing about this appointment is Del Mastro himself. Surely Del Mastro wasn't expecting much more. This is the same community, after all, that

The Peterborough Examiner's coverage of Del Mastro's appointment included these comments from ARTSPACE Executive Director Iga Janik, who generally acts as a spokesperson for the broader Peterborough arts community:

Artspace director Iga Janik expressed concern that Del Mastro is too inexperienced and not involved enough in the local artistic scene to handle the file: "I don't know how qualified he is considering I don't see him at any of the cultural institutions or events in Peterborough," Janik said. "In light of all the cuts to the arts that the Conservative government have made, Del Mastro and Mr. Harper have a big job ahead to rectify the situation."

Janik made reference to the $34 million dollars in arts funding cuts. That's how much the Conservative government cut to cultural and heritage granting programs such as the Heritage Sustainability Program, Canadian Independent Film and Video Fund and the National Training Program in the Film and Video Sector on the eve of the election. Moore has since announced the Harper government has no plans to reverse those cuts. What's more, the spin-cycle of carefully crafted political messaging about arts funding has started up again.

The strategy is consistent with what we saw before the election -- attempt to confuse Canadians by talking about the entire Canadian Heritage budget, which includes arts, culture, sports, and recreation funding -- rather than sticking to the arts funding portion of that budget when arts funding is being discussed.

Here's Del Mastro quoted in the Peterborough Examiner (November 8, 2008):

"I'm proud to say that no government in the history of Canada has put more money into the Department of Canadian Heritage than ours has, that includes direct funding of arts and culture and promotion of arts and culture in Canada."

This kind of political double-speak does not bode well for Del Mastro's relationship with members of the arts community, local or national. Why not just talk about what you've actually spent on the arts -- and just the arts -- when that's the issue on the table?

Here's the thing. Artists are a tell-it-like-it-is kind of crowd with very finely tuned spin radar. They don't have a lot of respect for double-speak and carefully crafted political messages that dance around the truth

That's why musicians, artists, writers, filmmakers, dancers, singers, songwriters,  and every other kind of cultural worker you can think of rallied behind Obama in the US election.

That's why musicians, artists, writers, filmmakers, dancers, singers, songwriters, and every other kind of cultural worker you can think of rallied against Harper in our election.

Oh yeah. One more thing. The anything-but-Conservative election strategy wasn't just about the funding cuts.

It was also about the lack of respect for Canadian artists and what we do; and Harper's inability to appreciate what Canadian culture is and what it means to Canadians. 

The good news is that artists are the cultural canaries. We're good at reading cultural, political, and social trends; and finding compelling ways to let people know that the canary is sick, dying, or in danger of being murdered by its keeper.

The canary has been being plucked of its feathers for quite some time. The canary can't go on like this much longer. Hopefully, it will only be a matter of time until the rest of Canadians decide they want something better for their country; that they can feel that sense of hope and renewal our neighbors to the south experienced last Tuesday night.

Until that happens, the artists will continue to paint, dance, film, write, and storyboard the visions of what was, what is, and what could be. Stay tuned.

Dean Del Mastro on public vs. private funding for Canadian broadcasters: Canadian Heritage Committee Meeting in June

November 04, 2008

My New Computer -- Stéphane

I had to break down and buy a new computer today -- a few months earlier than I had planned to -- after my previous computer developed a major attitude problem.

I was thinking about naming the computer after the winner in tonight's election -- assuming that the winner is Obama -- but then I felt that I'd be being terribly disloyal to my personal political hero, Stéphane Dion, if I did that.

I hope to have all my data transferred over to Stéphane by tomorrow.

BTW - Like Dion, my new computer is a MacBook Pro, known for its quality and integrity, and appreciated by individuals with discriminating taste.