122 posts categorized "social justice"

April 17, 2009

Major Arts Advocacy Organization Starves to Death on Del Mastro's Home Turf

The Peterborough Arts Umbrella (PAU) -- a respected arts organization that provided rehearsal space for musicians, digital media tools for filmmakers, and that organized key arts events in the city; and that advocated on behalf of artists -- has closed its doors after missing out on a $20,000 government grant.

Like many arts organizations, the PAU required on a patchwork quilt of grants as well as paid memberships. According to a report in the Peterborough Examiner, The PAU operated on grants from the City of Peterborough, Ontario Arts Council, Canadian Heritage, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Trillium Foundation.

A local filmmaker, who is quoted in the story, describes the role of the PAU well: "It was a place where young artists and musicians could jumpstart their careers." The organization's mandate speaks volumes.

The Peterborough Arts Umbrella is a multi-disciplinary, membership-based facility for working artists and community members interested in the thriving Peterborough arts community. We offer many services, including rehearsal spaces for musicians and other performers, a digital media centre with audio and video editing suites, and a 400-square-foot gallery. Since 1995 the Peterborough Arts Umbrella has been a facility-based organization providing visibility for the arts in our community as well as providing a supportive environment where artists in all disciplines and all stages of professional development in their careers meet, collaborate, learn, discuss, produce and disseminate art. The Peterborough Arts Umbrella is the only organization in the region that delivers both programs and services across all disciplines. The Peterborough Arts Umbrella is membership-based and governed by a volunteer board of directors who report to our membership. The Peterborough Arts Umbrella encourages discipline-specific collaboration with our membership and community through working groups and community partnerships. The Peterborough Arts Umbrella's unique artistic structure has enabled the PAU to remain relevant to the needs of artists in the community and in our region.

This is the very type of project that should be at the top of the list for infrastructure funding, but, once again, arts and culture funding screen remains off the radar for this government -- and on Dean Del Mastro's home turf, no less. Dean Del Mastro, you may recall, is the Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Heritage James Moore.

I can't help but wonder if the PAU's mandate to advocate on behalf of artists might have led to arts dollars gravitating towards other arts organizations, assuming the dollars lost were federal. (The news article is a big vague. It sounds like the dollars lost were Canada Council dollars, but I'm not 100% sure. Can anyone confirm?)

The Peterborough Arts Umbrella is a primary advocate for the arts sector and as such plays a major policy role within our larger community. The PAU provides sponsorship for non-registered groups and organizations, providing charitable trusteeship for fundraising activities. The PAU is a member of or actively involved with key municipal, provincial and national stakeholders. The PAU has a permanent seat on the City of Peterborough's Arts, Culture and Heritage Division Board, a body which formally advises municipal government on issues that affect our sector. The PAU is an advisor to Artscape's Creative Clusters Development Program in Ontario and is also active in Visual Arts Ontario, Community Arts Ontario, Theatre Ontario, IMAA (Independent Media Arts Alliance) and NAMAC (National Aboriginal Media Arts Coalition).


We already know that the Harper government isn't big on funding any activities designed to help anyone speak up. And the PAU fulfilled that mandated brilliantly during the last federal election, helping to launch Ordinary Canadians for the Arts.

Coincidence? Maybe. But I thought someone should at least raise the possibility that arts advocacy organizations could be finding themselves to be the least popular kids on the arts organization federal funding block these days.

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.

Related:

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.

January 28, 2009

Budget Bizarreness

The National managed to find the one Canadian working class family that actually believes that the extra $.33 it finds in its pocket each day is going to dig this country out of a recession. ("We spend this dollar. And then the next person spends this dollar.") It sounds like that 1970s shampoo commercial about telling two girlfriends -- but there's much more at stake than great hair. (Even the middle class, who were supposed to fall in love with Stephen Harper all over again via this budget, are getting $.67 a day, unless of course, they can take advantage of the home reno tax credit -- up to $1350 to do home renos or "build a deck at the cottage," as Jim Flaherty suggested.)

There are much more significant problems with this budget, of course. The budget doesn't address the need for EI reform -- even though 50 percent of unemployed Canadians don't qualify for benefits; and EI at least helps to break the fall as Canadians who are out of work try to regain their financial and employment footing.

One of the budget measures that will reward people on social assistance for working part-time sounds a lot like Mike Harris' welfare to work projects of the late 1990s -- except this time there are very few jobs to be found. So by not finding work in the midst of a recession, those social assistance recipients are, in effect, being punished for, what? Being social assistance recipients. This seems to tap into that deep-rooted belief held by many in the far right of the deserving and the undeserving poor.

To be fair, there are some positive initiatives as well. The investment in green initiatives. The investment in social housing. I'm sure if I read the budget line by line, I could come up with many others.

But, overall, this budget lacks focus and vision. By spreading the resources in so many different directions in order to try to buy political favor, this budget is $40 billion dollar deficit-producing budget is really $40 billion ado about nothing. It seems very wrong that you can spend so much money to accomplish so little.

A budget that offers something for everyone? Sure, I'll buy that definition -- as long as you accept that the "something" is politically-fortified crumbs.

On the other hand, the budget managed to tick off the Fraser Institute, and that's definitely something for a neo-conservative government. Bet they never thought they'd see the day.

Related:

Seating Plan for House of Commons:
Useful tool given that Parliament has only been in session five times since June.

December 11, 2008

Emily Berrigan, Political Whirlwind

Peterborough Green Party of Canada Candidate Emily Berrigan must dream political dreams at night. (Does she count political sheep as she tries to fall asleep?)

It's the only way she can possibly have time to come up with all these great ideas -- and do all the things she's already doing.


In a town that has more than its share of political dinosaurs/neanderthals, it's so refreshing to have Emily speaking the language of political change. Go, Emily, Go!

December 08, 2008

Dion vs. Harper

Partofcanadianflag It's no secret that I've always had a great deal of respect and admiration for Stéphane Dion. A politician with his kind of personal integrity and long-term vision for what this country actually needs (as opposed to what it wants for itself over the short-term) doesn't come along very often.

Unfortunately for Canada, Dion had the bad luck to cross the political stage at the same time as another once-in-a-generation (or once-in-a-lifetime) politician: in this case, a mean-spirited, rabidly partisan politician who is willing to do anything to keep his bulldog grip on power, including creating a political and national unity crisis.

The contrast in personal styles or value systems between the two men couldn't be greater. Dion mapped out a vision that represents where we really need to be headed as a country, if we're to kick start the green economy and address the growing gap between the haves and have nots in this country (a root cause of much of the youth crime that the neo-conservatives bellow about so much). What prevented Canadians from hearing much of what Dion had to say was the bully who misled Canadians about what the man and his policies were all about.

I don't know about you, but I'm not proud to live in a country where the top politician in the land can savage a political opponent and get away with it -- and then go on to "hide behind the Queen" (as some Americans are putting it as they watch what's been happening in our country in amazement) in order to escape his own political day of reckoning. When George Bush was acting so outrageously a few years back -- and the American people went on to re-elect him, we Canadians looked smugly at one another and said, "That could never happen in Canada."

But, of course, it did: the neo-conservative way of thinking is alive and well and living in Canada now. And we're going to be stuck in this political twilight zone until enough Canadians wake up and realize that they are being lied to and misled by the party in power -- on a routine basis.

This is why parliament isn't working: the traditional rules about parliamentary conduct have been tossed out the windows of the House of Commons and replaced by the same U.S.-style political code of conduct that has made George Bush famous -- or rather infamous -- the world over.

Dion bore the brunt of the attacks from the bully-in-chief of the current regime. When history looks back on this time, people are going to be astounded that more Canadians didn't speak up and decry the McCarthy-like attacks that were carried out during this time -- and that the media was complicit in these attacks.

I feel proud that I will be able to tell my grandchildren that I spoke out against the attack ads, the campaign of misinformation about Dion and his policies (to say nothing of the Conservative Party of Canada and its record) and that I had the opportunity to let Mr. Dion know, on more than one occasion, how much I appreciated his efforts to hold the Harper government accountable.

Dion may not have been the most savvy politican our country has produced, but he is certainly one of our most dedicated. He has served his country well.

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.

P.S.

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.

Demagogue.

"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

Sign Spotted at Political Rally in Peterborough, Ontario -- Quote from THE NATIONAL on CBC

Political Sign Spotted at Pro-Coalition Rally in Peterborough, Ontario

First in a series of photo posts from a noon rally in Peterborough.

Related: CBC.ca coverage about Harper government and public reaction to coalition government.

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

Tothesquare

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

Related:

Peterborough Examiner story