187 posts categorized "Peterborough"

July 22, 2011

Tonight in Peterborough: Chocolate, Cheese, and Activism

Via OPIRG Peterborough and others

Friday, July 22 · 4:30pm - 6:30pm

Sadleir House
751 George St. N.

The goal of Chocolate, Cheese & Activism is to bring those interested in social justice activism together to explore issues and practices, and following from Part 2 of the series, identify ways to connect, mobilize, and network individuals and groups.

First on the agenda is an introduction to the current work in progress: creating a network/community for all Peterborough activists to be a part of. The idea of the network is sharing of events and information across spectrums. More will be said on this and discussion will be held.

Following this, much like Part 2, issue-based work groups will be formed and hopefully further ideas, practices, etc., results from individual collaboration.

To close the evening... we will keep that a surprise.

After the event is over, everyone is encouraged to gather in a less formal setting to continue conversation, say, at a bar.

Suggested $5-$10 for the wonderful cheese and refreshments, and of course, the chocolate from Naked Chocolate.

Wheel accessible.

Tell your friends; post on your wall.

May 03, 2011

Did Democracy Just Break Your Heart?

If democracy just broke your heart, this post is for you.

Sometimes democracy can do that to a person. And when it happens, it feels like you've just been betrayed by a lover.

You trusted democracy to safeguard something sacred, only to discover too late that the sweet-nothings that were being whispered between democracy and other voters were nothing like the sweet-nothings that were being shared between the two of you.

So what do you do the day after your heart has been broken?

Allow yourself to grieve. Your dream of a better Canada has been ripped away. You invested in that dream with every action you took during and leading up to Election Day.

Don't indulge in "if onlys." We can't turn back the clock. We can only move forward.  Honour the passion for democracy that erupted in you by vowing to continue to work for a Canada that reflects the hopes and dreams of the true majority of Canadians.

Understand you're not alone. Because of the way our voting system works, there are more people feeling sad than celebratory today: 60 percent versus 40 percent, in fact. If misery loves company, there's no better way to find company than by voting in a first-past-the-post election.

Find strength in your community -- the community of Canadians who are not satisfied with the outcome of last night's election and who will not be satisfied until Canada finds its way back to its more progressive, socially conscious, democratic roots. We have four years to map out that journey. For today, just commit to supporting your fellow travellers.

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.

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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.)

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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.


June 28, 2010

G20 Video and Blog Package I Prepared for Indie Media Site PtboCanada.com


PTBOCANADA: Peterborough Activists Insist The Media is Missing the Message with the G8/G20 Protests

is a G20 blog and video package I prepared for indie media outlet PtboCanada.com yesterday afternoon. There are a dozen videos (accessible on YouTube via a link in the article) plus a blog post with many embedded links. You'll find eye-witness accounts from activists who were in Toronto on Saturday, analysis of G20 issues - including media coverage of the protests - from Peterborough-area activists, protests songs and a whole lot more.

June 11, 2010

Was It Something I Said?

My letter about proposed changes to the copyright act triggered this rather bizarre response from a member of Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro's staff:

From: [email protected]
Date: June 9, 2010 9:59:03 PM GMT-04:00
To: Ann Douglas
Subject: Re: Copyright - Bill C-32

Please confirm and advise it has been passed on to Dean.
Even though she is not respectful we will be.


From: Ann Douglas
To: Del Mastro, Dean - Assistant 1
Sent: Thu Jun 10 09:50:19 2010
Subject: Fwd: Copyright - Bill C-32

Alan -
I think you intended your note for someone other than me.
Best regards,
- Ann Douglas


On 10-Jun-10, at 9:54 AM, [email protected] wrote:

Simply: whether a constituent constantly attacks the member or not we will serve and accept input from all.


From: Ann Douglas
Subject: Re: Copyright - Bill C-32
Date: June 10, 2010 10:07:50 AM GMT-04:00
To: [email protected]

I am pleased to hear that you welcome feedback from all constituents. That is what I would expect from my Member of Parliament and his staff.

Best regards,
Ann Douglas

I hope I never have to ask my MP to assist with an urgent matter affecting the well-being of my family. I have a feeling that the experience would be uncomfortable to say the least.


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

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

May 10, 2010

You Have a Date With Democracy: Local Group to Host Day of Discussion About Democracy May 15

Hey, local citizen. You have a Date with Democracy.

The Peterborough Chapter of Canadians Advocating Political Participation (CAPP) invites local citizens to participate in a Date With Democracy from 10 am to 2 pm on Saturday, May 15, 2010, at Sadleir House (751 George Street North) in Peterborough.

View Larger Map

Peterborough will be one of approximately 30 Canadian cities hosting discussions about democracy on or around May 15th.

"This will be a day when everyone can discuss our democracy: how it works, how it doesn't work, and what each of us can do to be a bigger part of it," explains Victoria Gare, spokesperson for the Peterborough Chapter of CAPP.

Locally, the discussions will focus on three key questions:
  1. Does democracy function in our local government in such a way as to encourage public participation? If so, how? If not, what can we do about it?
  2. What should be the function of the media in a truly democratic society?
  3. How can democracy be strengthened by our vote, vigilance, and action?
Everyone is welcome to attend what is guaranteed to be a lively and thought-provoking day of discussion and action. The event is free of charge and lunch will be provided.

For more information about the Peterborough Chapter of Canadians Advocating Political Participation (CAPP), please visit the Chapter's Facebook Page.

For information about Canadians Advocating Political Participation (the national organization), please see http://canadaparticipates.ca or visit the national group's Facebook Page.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter, too.

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.)

January 11, 2010

Elizabeth May's Reply to My Letter to The Governor General

Remember the letter I wrote to the Governor General, urging her not to agree to Harper's request to prorogue Parliament? I just received the most inspiring reply from Elizabeth May's office. Here's what the letter says:

Dear Ann,

Thank you for your message regarding the prorogation of parliament. The Prime Minister's latest move proves once again his extreme cynicism and mastery in political calculation. The Green Party of Canada was the first federal party to denounce Harper’s second prorogation in just over a year. This extended vacation for MPs is an affront to democracy.
The move brings government committees to a standstill, particularly preventing investigation into the critical matter of the Afghan detainees.  It delays any bills currently before the house including the government's crime bills. Pressing issues such as the climate crisis and Canada’s economic recovery issues will remain unresolved until March.
What now?  We need to expect the unexpected. We need to kick and scream at this insult to democracy -- because that is what it is.  We need to support each other, efforts by other parties, non-political leadership. Wherever a clear and compelling call for democracy emerges, that voice must be supported.
Join Canadians across Canada on January 23rd rallying against the prorogation of parliament. I am attending the rally in Ottawa on Parliament Hill, but visit the Facebook group to find the rally closest to you.
Harper's move this week is premised on the assumption that enough Canadians simply do not care about democracy or the role of Parliament.   It presumes that Parliament can be shuttered for partisan political reasons.

In the interests of democracy, let's hope this time his cynicism has miscalculated.
Elizabeth May, O.C.
P.S. Please visit the Green Party website to read my latest blogs on the issue.


I should also mention that I also received a lovely note from Betsy McGregor, Liberal Candidate for Peterborough Riding, who was also copied on the letter. She wrote, in part: "Ann - thank you for sending this explicit letter of concern to the office of the Governor General."

And as for the Governor General? I haven't had any acknowledgment of the correspondence from her office. I'll keep you posted on that front.