42 posts categorized "writing"

October 24, 2008

Executive Director Position: Professional Writers Association of Canada

Pencils The following position has just been posted by the Professional Writers Association of Canada, Canada's National Association for freelance writers.

Deadline: Friday, Oct 31st at 5:00pm. Submit CV and cover letter to hr@pwac.ca.

Summary: The Executive Director (ED) is the senior staff member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) which serves over 600 non-fiction freelance writers across the country. The Executive Director is responsible for the day-to-day operations and management of the organization, and supervises other staff and contract employees. The Executive Director ensures that members' needs are met through delivery of services, mediation, professional development and communications about the industry. The ED, in conjunction with the President, is responsible for representing PWAC in the media, and within the writing and publishing industry generally.

The ideal candidate will have some or all of these qualifications:

  • A strong commitment to the organization's mission, values, vision and strategic objectives;
  • Knowledge and experience of the writing and publishing industry; particularly the needs of freelance writers;
  • Strong leadership and team management skills, as well as office management experience including staff supervision, financial operations etc.;
  • Proven ability to manage multiple projects, deadlines, and changing priorities;
  • Effective communication skills in various media including superior written and verbal skills, proficiency in computer skills, and an understanding of social networking using technology;
  • Ability to secure support and funds from government, and non-governmental sources;
  • Experience in the non-profit sector and working with a volunteer board of directors; and
  • Ability to communicate in both official languages is considered an asset.

Hours: This position is full-time. Hours will vary depending upon activities but are primarily 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday.

Salary: The salary is commensurate with experience - range $45,000-$55,000/year. Unfortunately there is currently no benefit plan available.

Location: PWAC's National Office is based in downtown Toronto. Some travel is required.

Start date: As soon as possible.

Complete position description available.

October 21, 2008

Post-Election Blog Reno

Img_7027 I decided to do some fall cleaning here at the blog. I've reorganized some existing categories and added a bunch of new content including,

What Makes a Great City? What Makes a City Great? This is a list of links that focus on urban development. I found a lot of really interesting material that focuses on waterfront renewal -- the biggest mistakes cities make when they change their waterfronts and articles about examples of waterfront renewal processes that have been managed brilliantly, with spectacular results. Other links focus on transportation, culture, creating public spaces, creating livable, healthy, green cities -- all issues that I'm thinking about as Peterborough evolves.

Alternative and Indie Media Voices: This is a roundup of alternative media (newspapers, radio stations, magazines, etc.) as well as links that discuss the importance of an independent media, the role of the newspaper ombudsman, why media concentration should be of concern to all Canadians, etc.

Writing Links and Creativity Links: Links to writing- and creativity- related resources for my fellow creative types.

Get the Big Picture: A handful of links to TV documentary and film documentary sources, etc. More to come.

Where We've Been: A handful of political and social justice history links with many more to come.

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Democracy?: As much for my own use as anything, this is a cluster of links that I turn to on a regular basis when I need to touch base with someone else who is frustrated with the way democracy works in this country, but who isn't about to give up on Canada or working for change anytime soon.

Change the World: Links to some of my favorite get-pumped-up-and-change-the-world songs. If anyone knows of another song-linking application that would ideally allow me to provide a short sound clip, I'd love to have some recommendations. I tried to find a decent one that works with iTunes, but I didn't have any luck.

I've archived some of my very election-focused sidebars until the next election.

October 15, 2008

Peterborough: Possibility City

"I'm so disappointed in Peterborough. Now I remember why I ran away when I was 16."
- A Peterborough voter commenting on the election results, quoted in today's Peterborough Examiner.

I believe in Peterborough and its potential to become something more. This is what I think about when I think about Peterborough and its potential.

Peterborough, the ethical city; Peterborough, the just city; Peterborough, the visionary city; Peterborough, the creative city; Peterborough, the innovative city; Peterborough, the eco-city; Peterborough, the multicultural city; Peterborough, the all-ages city; Peterborough, the hate-free city; Peterborough, the bullying-free city; Peterborough, the no-one-goes-hungry city; Peterborough, the barrier-free city; Peterborough, the entrepreneurial city; Peterborough, the healthy city; Peterborough, the active city; Peterborough, the sustainable city; Peterborough, the local foodbasket city; Peterborough, the welcoming city; Peterborough, the politically engaged city; Peterborough, the public spaces city; Peterborough, the indie media city, Peterborough, possibility city.

A lot of people are working towards these various ends.

And not all progress has to come through political channels.

We can take a two-tiered approach to working for change in our communities:

1. Add your voice to the loud chorus of Canadians insisting on democratic reform now;
2. Work for change through all channels available to you as a citizen.

Don't give in to cynicism or apathy. Let frustration fuel your resolve to work for change.

October 05, 2008

"The Average Canadian" and Public vs. Private Funding: Canadian Heritage Committee Meeting in June

I found this interesting reference to "the average Canadian" (a similar term to Stephen Harper's "ordinary Canadians" ) in relation to the use of arts funding in Canada -- specifically public vs. private dollars being allotted under the Canadian Television Fund in this rather fascinating discussion from the

39th PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage - Tuesday, June 17, 2008.

Mr. Dean Del Mastro (Peterborough, CPC): Thank you, Mr. Chair.  Mr. Gratton, I want to try to represent the average Canadian. If I'm the average Canadian and I look at this Canadian Television Fund, I understand that this is a fund that supports the production of regional Canadian broadcasting and so forth. Why would I care that this is being changed? Why would this impact me? Why would it matter to me whether the money is going to CBC or Global or CTVglobemedia or any of the other private broadcasters? Why would it matter to me, as long as I'm seeing good Canadian productions that I might be interested in watching?

Mr. Paul Gratton: Well, I'm not sure who or what an average Canadian is. If you're saying that for significant chunks of the Canadian population there is not interest in Canadian drama, for example, and perhaps sports is where you get your Canadian culture, then I would say perhaps there's not much interest for that person, but by the same token, does this person have children? Are they watching children's programming anywhere on the dial? At least half of them are funded by the CTF. Perhaps this person, even if they're not interested in watching a dramatic TV series on a public broadcaster, is concerned about what is being fed into the minds of his little girl and little boy and doesn't just want American models of superhero violent cartoons. Canadian children's programming sells around the world because it actually propagates a different value system of tolerance and diversity; sometimes it's quite subtle and sometimes less so, but it's different from American children's programming.

Mr. Dean Del Mastro: Are you suggesting those things would be lost if it were changed?

Mr. Paul Gratton:  I'm saying that if the Canadian Television Fund didn't exist, the size and the quality.... Why should an average Canadian care about this? Would an average Canadian care about the rules on how the money is disseminated? Probably not. But I would suggest to you that the average Canadian probably does care about the results on the television set.

Mr. Dean Del Mastro: I'm not questioning that. I'm only saying that the changes they've suggested have been to allow for alternative revenue streams, for the stream to be divided somewhat differently. And that's what I'm asking you. There has been some suggestion that this would be a ghettoization of public television. If I'm the average person at home.... For instance, Mr. Cardin brought up that the funding could be used for reality TV or game shows. So if I'm the average Canadian at home.... We recognize things like Survivor, for example; probably half the population watching TV on the night that it's on is watching it. Why wouldn't I want to see something in the Canadian Arctic that would be similar? Wouldn't that offer value and wouldn't it drive people to want to watch? And in so doing, wouldn't you learn something about the Canadian Arctic? I'm simply thinking about these things.

Mr. Paul Gratton: Oh, yes, absolutely. It's probably not a bad idea. Maybe you have a future as a television programmer. The key issue is whether or not that kind of show requires public money in order to complete its financing. And as Mr. Cardin pointed out, most of this stuff can be funded by the industry itself through pre-sales, etc. The crisis, where there was always a gap in financing and where it was very hard to complete, was almost everything produced in Quebec, because the world market for Quebec programming is fairly limited outside of children and animation, and almost across the board in English Canada unless you were doing commercial co-productions that were not recognizably Canadian.

I was running Space for a number of years and there was a lot of science fiction that was technically Canadian -- six, seven, eight points out often--and I would argue it never got CTF funding and didn't require it. And there are many average Canadians who really enjoyed those shows and there were a lot of Canadian actors and technicians who benefited from the production in Canada. My view is that lots of Canadian, right across the board, is good.

But when you talk about this fund and this particular very special recognition from both government, which is funding it, and the cable and distributors who have agreed to put money into it in order to keep their capital expenditure, the 50%, it was actually one of the more ingenious creations of the CRTC and of government to put together this fund to encourage the production of the most difficult-to-fund Canadian content in all these genres, which is ten out ten points Canadian content. The average Canadian kind of benefits from having it out there as an option, even if he or she may not choose to personally spend their time watching the stuff due to personal preference.

Mr. Stéphane Cardin: A rubber hits the road type of answer to your question, which Paul brought up before, is that essentially, given that we don't know what the criteria of a public stream would be, there is always the possibility that certain programs -- which would have to apply to both funds -- might, given different eligibility criteria, not get made. So you'd have a potential for less programming than we presently have with the current systems.

Mr. Dean Del Mastro: Thank you. My local cable company, for example, a COGECO affiliate, receives funding from this fund and they do an awful lot of local programming with it. They cover a lot of community events. They do a better job, actually, than my local CBC affiliate [CHEX Television] does in covering community events. They cover parades and all sorts of things. How would this change affect them? What would it mean to them? Would it result in potentially more funding for them, less funding for them, or would it affect them at all?

Mr. Paul Gratton: They don't get directing funding from the CTF for their cable channels. That's a redistribution of their own benefits. And part of their requirement to the CRTC is to maintain that cable fund. So this wouldn't affect your community cable channel at all.

Mr. Dean Del Mastro: Thank you.

Related: Department of Culture | Ordinary Canadians for the Arts: The POST-It Petition Campaign: "To showcase the importance of arts in our community, and the value of arts organizations such as Artspace, we will send to our Prime Minister an ORIGINAL PIECE OF ART ONE POST-IT AT A TIME." (Read about the art exhibition that led to this unique fundraiser/protest.)

October 03, 2008

Ad Running in Peterborough Examiner in Support of Betsy McGregor

The following advertisement is running in The Peterborough Examiner in support of Betsy McGregor.


October 02, 2008

Political Propaganda: Making the Case vs. Selling the Product

Republican/Conservative salesmanship that relies on political spin and voter manipulation and that is all about closing the sale is deeply offensive to people who care deeply about integrity and ideas -- who want progressive leaders who are moving forward in positive ways to be heard above the meaningless buzz of those who have nothing to offer.

Along that vein:

"Republican campaign strategists come from an entirely different place -- the marketplace. Their methodology is that of the salesman: the candidate as "product," and the voter as "customer." Their commanding objective is to "make the sale," by whatever means are found to be effective toward that end....

"In advance of their political campaigns, GOP "salesmen" examine comprehensively the public mind, through polling and focus groups. There they discover the "hot button" words, concepts, images and (less significantly) issues. With this information, they then target the emotions (in “the post-9/11 context,” primarily fear). motives (security and economic gain), and self-image (hard-working, free, God- fearing) of the public, all this toward the objective of
what Noam Chomsky describes as "the manufacturing of consent."

- Political Propaganda: Making the Case vs. Selling the Product

October 01, 2008

Thinking About Voting for Dean Del Mastro?

Before you vote for Dean Del Mastro in Peterborough Riding

Make sure you have all the facts first.


If you're thinking about voting for Dean Del Mastro because you think you have to vote for Dean in order to bring the train to Peterborough, you need to know that the Conservative, Green Liberal, and NDP candidates in our riding ALL strongly support bringing the train to Peterborough. You don't have to vote for Dean Del Mastro to vote for the train.

You also need to know that the train is still a work-in-progress: that it still has to make its way through a process of approvals before it can be considered a done deal. Unfortunately, statements like this one from Dean Del Mastro's campaign literature make it difficult for people to understand that the train is not a done deal yet: "In Budget 2008, Dean celebrated the announcement of funding for the re-establishment of the Peterborough-Toronto Commuter Rail Link, claiming it to be, "The single biggest federal infrastructure investment in Peterborough since John A. MacDonald announced the completion of the Trent Severn Waterway." Dean may have celebrated the funding announcement, but he certainly hasn't been able to celebrate the approval of a train because that hasn't happened yet.

"[Dean Del Mastro's] promise to return Toronto-to-Peterborough passenger rail service is looking more likely to come true, but is open to questions about whether it would be an economic drain. Last week's surprise proposal for a massive hotel-entertainment complex on Parks Canada property on Little Lake is exciting, but a long way from reality."
- Editorial, Peterborough Examiner, September 9, 2008


If you're voting for Dean Del Mastro because you think a Conservative government under Stephen Harper will make for a stronger economy, you may want to look at the government's track record in this area. The Harper Government -- with Dean Del Mastro serving as a member of the Standing Committee on Finance -- spent its way through Canadians' $20 million rainy day fund over the past three years -- and now that we're facing a rainy day, the government has nothing left to invest in our economy. Many economists said at the time that a GST cut was the wrong way to go because it didn't stimulate the economy in the same way that a tax cut would have stimulated the economy. (Incidentally, this is why income tax benefits are built into the Liberal government's Green Shift plan -- a program that has been misunderstood by many Canadians.)

Here's something else to consider. As columnist Lawrence Martin reports in today's Globe and Mail, the Federal Conservatives are doing everything they can to distance themselves from the economically disastrous policies of the neo-Conservative Bush administration south of the border -- a case it gets it gets more difficult to make after the politically disastrous speech plagiarism incident.

The Harper government also reversed its position on the income trust issue -- a betrayal of the trust of many ordinary Canadians who paid heavily for this broken promise. Dean Del Mastro repeatedly reversed his position on this issue to support the party line. Where was he when his constituents needed him to speak out on this issue?


If you're voting for Dean Del Mastro because you believe that Canada under Stephen Harper will be a safer place, you might be interested in knowing that the Conservative Party of Canada approach to governance emphasizes cost-savings that can sometimes be at the expense of public health. “According to the government’s own spending estimates, released before the listeriosis outbreak started in summer 2008, there would be less money for food inspection over the following three years.” (CBC.ca, September 24, 2008)

And when public health objectives come into conflict with business objectives, Dean Del Mastro follows the party line by siding with big business. During the last session of Parliament, Dean Del Mastro voted against bills that would have provided more information to consumers about genetically modified foods and that would have provided more details warning labels on alcohol. If he wasn't voting in support of public safety and the public good, in whose interest was he voting?


If you're thinking about voting for Dean Del Mastro because you believe that a revamped justice system under Stephen Harper will mean less crime, you might want to know that overall crime rates are on the decline and that the approach to dealing with youth crime that Stephen Harper and justice minister Rob Nicholson has been heavily criticized by the judge appointed to recommend changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Oddly enough, Stephen Harper had been claiming throughout the campaign that the judge had endorsed the Conservative Party crime platform.

The judge isn't the only leading authority on law, justice, and crime that the Harper government ignored when putting together its tough-on-crime platform. It's US-style approach to justice has been proven ineffective, expensive (we'll need 22 new jails!), and counterproductive. Crime rates actually rise. *

Closer to home, Dean Del Mastro came under heavy fire from constituents back in July as a result of his youth crime mailout. The mailout was described as being fear-mongering, anti-youth, and an unwise use of taxpayers' resources. (See link to Peterborough Examiner in post.)


If you're thinking about voting for Dean Del Mastro because you would like to see some sort of development occur on Little Lake, you might want to consider what you're getting for your vote. For starters, the parcel of land on Little Lake is under the control of Parks Canada. Parks Canada is mandated to protect that land for the protection of future generations. And, as our Member of Parliament, Dean Del Mastro is mandated to pursue the interests of all constituents. To ensure that the interests of all citizens of Peterborough are taken into account, consultations on a public asset as important as this one need to be conducted in an open and accountable manner. Anyone can put together a proposal and circulate it behind closed doors. It takes a true leader to ensure that the proper protocols are observed every step of the way and that even the perception of conflict of interest or impropriety is avoided. A true leader leads by example.


If you're thinking about voting for Dean Del Mastro because you see him as being committed to the arts (his election brochure states that he has made numerous funding announcements with a focus on the Arts and Heritage community -- but his brochure neglects to mention that some of these groups are at risk of losing their funding as a result of his government's far-reaching cuts to the arts and cultural sector -- cuts he was privy to as a member of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage and the Standing Committee on Finance. Artists, arts volunteers, and arts patrons in our community recently met to discuss those cuts. Get the local response story here. Note: Dean Del Mastro has also been repeating the "we haven't been cutting funding" double-speak that tripped up Stephen Harper with the national media. Oops.


If you're voting for Dean Del Mastro because you believe that the Harper government's apology signaled a commitment to aboriginal issues, you might want to consider how he fared during the aboriginal debates at Curve Lake. Some of his comments attracted national attention -- but not in a way that reflected well on our riding: "The Kelowna Accord -- There is no such thing," Dean Del Mastro told the crowd assembled at Curve Lake. That sounds just like a Rona Ambrose quote. (Be patient. She's coming up in a moment.)


If you're voting for Dean Del Mastro because you think he is serious about environmental change, you might want to consider that he served on the original Harper environment committee (the one headed up by Rona Ambrose; a committee that was so out of synch with what Canadians were demanding that there was a national outcry at the time). Unfortunately, all that really came of that outcry was a new committee chair: John Baird.

During the Harper years, Canada stopped being known as an international advocate for environmental change and stated to be known as a country that lets the oil and gas industry and other business interests call the shots. Peterborough Examiner nature columnist Drew Monkman recently wrote a heartfelt Letter to the Editor on this issue. It's definitely worth reading.


Dean Del Mastro

* What is it about the mindset of this government that insists on disregarding the best-evidence from experts in their respective fields, whether we're talking law and justice, the environment, or another critically important issue? Is it because leadership is largely vested in one man who takes advice from very few people and who hates to share power -- and who finds it next to impossible to apologize or admit mistakes; and who surrounds himself with "yes men" who refuse to let him know when he's on the wrong track (for sake of their own political careers?)

September 30, 2008

Strategic Voting in Peterborough Riding

Whatever your reason may be for seeking political change -- a desire for change at the Federal level or here in Peterborough Riding -- according to election analysts (see links below), there is only one candidate who has the potential to defeat our Conservative Member of Parliament Dean Del Mastro on election night. That candidate is Betsy McGregor, the federal Liberal Candidate for Peterborough Riding.

Before we go any further, let me state that I think that any of the three progressive candidates running in Peterborough county would make an excellent Member of Parliament: Emily Berrigan (Green Party of Canada), Betsy McGregor (Liberal), or Steve Sharpe (NDP). The problem is that if we split the approximately 65% of the vote that will likely go to the three progressive parties in our riding, Dean Del Mastro will win because he will receive approximately 35% of the vote. It's a dilemma that Canadians across our country are grappling with at the riding level: how to prevent the very non-mainstream minority from holding on to control of our country and carrying out an agenda that is anti-progressive and (many of us would argue) anti-Canadian as well. (Read my reasons for launching this blog in December 2006 and you'll see that I've been deeply concerned about this government, our MP, and Canada for a very long time.) This is where strategic voting comes into play.

Making the decision to vote strategically may be something entirely new to you, particularly if you have a long association with or a passionate commitment to a particular party. (You may want to read tonight's Peterborough Examiner to find out why peace activist and much-loved former physician Joyce Barrett -- a long-time NDP supporter -- has chosen to vote strategically in this election and rally behind Betsy McGregor. "I wept when Dean (Del Mastro) was elected in 2006," she told The Examiner.")

The idea of strategic voting is certainly something alien for me, too. Or it was until I started listening in on the thoughtful discussions of everyday Canadians like you and me and hearing how passionate they were about preventing a Conservative majority government -- and of allowing themselves to dream of a time when we might actually have a progressive government in power in Canada again.

Uniting the left is the only way to begin the process of unseating the Harper government. By going after the Conservatives in those ridings where they are most vulnerable -- in ridings like Peterborough where the race is going to be close -- we have a chance to end up with one more progressive voice on Parliament Hill. That person will not be a voice for any one party. That person will be a voice for all people in our riding who hope for a more progressive future for this riding.

As Liberal Party MP Michael Ignatieff stated earlier this week:

"What separates us from the Conservatives is that we believe you can’t have an efficient economy without a just society.

"A just society — where every citizen is equal; where we succeed together, because we look after each other; where no Canadian goes to the wall when times are tough; where no Canadian has to walk the lonely road of poverty or ill health alone.

"A market economy demands a just and equal society.  You can’t have an efficient economy, without a just and equal society. This is the key idea behind Canadian liberalism [and progressive Canadians in general, I would argue.]

"That’s not Harper’s Canada."

And speaking of inspiring politicians, here's what Elizabeth May had to say on the subject of strategic voting a few days ago:

The Green, Liberal and New Democratic parties should prevent vote-splitting that would favour Conservatives, and carve up electoral ridings according to who has the best chance of winning, May said. "We sit down and say, `Who has the best chance of winning in all these ridings?' What I've been calling for is proportional representation by other means."

Here are some resources you may wish to consult as you begin to consider whether voting strategically is the right move for you. I will continue to add to this list during the days ahead. You may also wish to use the voting tool in the upper-right hand corner of this blog. It tells you which candidate is considered Peterborough Riding's best bet for electing a progressive candidate.

Note: The tool is updated on a continuous basis as polling data changes.

Strategic voting resources and tools:




DemocraticSPACE: Strategic Voting Guide

Backgrounder 7: Strategic Voting

September 29, 2008

My Letter to Friends of Canadian Broadcasting

I just sent the following letter to Friends of Canadian Broadcasting:

Dear Friends:

I'm quite dismayed that CBC.ca reversed its initial decision to back columnist Heather Mallick regarding her controversial column about Sarah Palin.

Does this mean that only non-controversial opinions will be welcomed at the CBC?

If so, what's the point of having a CBC?

The CBC is supposed to be the voice of all Canadians -- not just ones whose opinions are endorsed by the far-right.

Could Friends please investigate and report back to its members about what led to the reversal decision, whether there was any external pressure from government funders to go this route, and whether we are likely to see more of this kind of columnist censorship from the CBC in the future?

Thank you.

Ann Douglas

You Don't Even Have to Read Between the Lines: Just Read


I want to reiterate what Impolitical states rather brilliantly at the end of her latest post.

The media are doing anything and everything they can to get the electorate to pay attention, short of writing their stories in 72-point font, pay-attention-dammit, maple-leaf-red block letters.

Here's how she puts it.

"The Canadian Press is writing these things for a reason. The people speaking to them are providing them with the basis for saying so. It is an ongoing huge red flag to us all about the Conservative government's views on free speech and the public's right to know what is going on inside their government."