Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Go Vote 2015

Note: Sorry about missing last Tuesday. I find a post out each Tuesday is a lot easier said than done. I'll try to keep the self-imposed deadline for future weeks as best as practicable.

Image Source: Twitter/Steve Ashton
At the Indian and Metis Friendship Centre on May 12, 2015 a Public Forum on Democracy was held in Winnipeg's working class North End. The forum speakers highlighted the excesses of the Harper MisGovernment and how to fight it. Central to their message was the importance of voting.

The forum was organized by the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). Winnipeg born and raised activist Brigette DePape, of "rebel page"  fame or infamy (depending on your circle) moderated the forum.

 The overarching message was that voting matters and that groups of people need to be mobilized to vote, particularly low voting groups such as the youth, the indigenous and those with low incomes. This is a belief I have long held, noting the low voting of indigenous peoples in Canadian elections and how social inequality affected the municipal election here. In short, when social inequality maps onto voter turnout inequality you get the underprivileged underrepresented.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Clear danger of Energy East to Winnipeg



Image Source: Environmental Defence Canada

In mid April I went to a panel talk organized by the Council of Canadians and the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition on the proposed energy East Pipeline. In a talk featuring strong indigenous perspectives and highlighting the the clear and present danger of Energy East to livelihoods and our City's water supply. A discussion of another pipeline - the Keystone XL - and its opposition in Nebraska was supplied by a rancher from the state.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Hilariously ironic Harpocrisy from 2013


Image Source: The Hamilton Spectator
Note: Late in the day, but part of a new commitment to have a new post out every Tuesday.

Amid the height of the first wave of the Senate Scandal in 2013 Stephen Harper took to the Conservative Party faithful to bash "elites". In a speech dripping with hypocrisy Stephen Harper wagged his finger at the Supreme Court of Canada and Federal Liberals for his inability to get his own Senators to clean up the joint.


Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Da EVUL BIKE LOBBY ... and it's nonexistent power


Image Source: Chaos Cycling Club Forum
A local public access demagogue on the Right has taken to hysterical ravings about the "bike lobby" and all their evil plans. Their main, if we can stretch the word, "evidence" for this oh-so-powerful cabal is that in 2010 a bunch of bike infrastructure projects were pushed through. These were done quickly because the Federal stimulus grants they depended on expired quickly.

These Federal grants, just so you know, came out during the Harper Government, which for all intents and purposes could give zero fucks about a small, municipally specific lobby in a mid-size prairie city.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

"Kinda pathetic" kinda totally right

Are you with us or are you with the TERRORISTS?!!

The mature reasoning like that
kind Elmwood-Transcona MP Lawrence
Toet would us.

Image Source
: Youtube
Seemed like there was quite a bit of March madness coming from the Conservative Party this year. Harper CON MP John Williamson made a comment about "brown people" and "whities" at the nexus of wingnuttery that is the Manning Centre Conference. Fellow Conservative MP Larry Miller told prospective Muslim immigrants to "stay the hell where you came from" if you want to wear niqabs at citizenship ceremonies.

Manitoba, unfortunately, was not free from this lunacy.

 With the farce that is Vic Toews gone from Federal politics other Manitoba MPs have had to step up their game. My own representative of Lawrence Toet seems a prime candidate for the next Toews.

Defending Bill C-51- a civil liberties crushing bill that would inspire mass protest across Canada (including here) - with the following push polling flyer:

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Lowlights of the 2015 Manning Centre Conference

Boy, this year has been crazy - too busy for super frequent blog posting (that and my twitter account has sorta cannibalized a lot of my would-be blog content). I'm still working on some drafts for the blog that should be interesting but as an inaugural post for 2015 I thought I'd lazily share a good mashup of some of the low lights of the 2015 Manning Centre Conference, courtesy of the fine folks from at Truth Mashup.


Tuesday, 30 December 2014

New Comment System ... bunch of old comments dead

Update: Got old comments back - uncertain of how well it'll work. 
 
Lest there be another Comment-Gate I'd like to clarify that I switched the commenting system over at The Winnipeg RAG Review from blogger's default system to Livefyre. Unfortunately, it seems that I had to kill a bunch of old comments to do so. Hopefully, it works out in the end.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

The Harper MisGovernment's sick priorities

Is this how much Prime Minister Harper cares about
the safety of Canadians?

Image obtained from West Coast Native News
The Harper MisGovernment has fought a long battle to destroy indigenous lands with pipelines, showing desperation for US approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. Stephen Harper's lackey, Jason Kenney, has gone so far as to opine about US public opinion polls on Keystone to get the dirty - and perhaps bloody - oil project through.

As a unique study in priorities, one should note this same Harper MisGovernment often implies that we have scarce public money. As a response to this the Fabian Neo-Conservative agenda of Harper includes cuts to many basic public services, like transport safety:

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Stephen Harper's Christmas Insult to First Nations

Tina Fontaine vigil, August 19, 2014.

Image taken by Greg Gallinger,
obtained off Twitter
.
Finding a mean spirited way to insult Indigenous Peoples seems to be a holiday trick Stephen Harper pulls out at least every two years. Back in 2012 he snubbed the suffering community of Attawapiskat for some cribbage photo ops. This year he's basically thumbing his nose at the relatives and advocates of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.  

After a year of tragedy, with increasingly high media profile cases of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (including Sagkeeng First Nation teen Tina Fountaine, who was under the care of Child and Family Services in Winnipeg before her death) Stephen Harper flat out said an Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women "... isn't really high on our radar, to be honest" in a Dec 17 year end CBC interview.

This is well after the Provincial Premiers had supported an inquiry, by the way.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Image Obtained from West Coast
NativeNews.
Stephen Harper has had an utterly contemptuous relationship with First Nations. Federal Government lawyers (same government Stephen lets us know is the "Harper Government") spent $3 million trying to stop equitable funding for the First Nations Child Welfare System. The Harper MisGovernment's Aboriginal Affairs Department has even spied on an advocate for First Nations Child Welfare.

While refusing to hold an inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, dismissing the social factors behind the tragedy, the Harper MisGovernment is brazenly challenging the sovereignty of Indigenous Nations in court.

All this leads to what a colossal insult admitting an inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women was low on his radar is. It is hard to imagine how Prime Minister Harper could show more disregard towards Indigenous Peoples, but surely he'll find a way.     
  
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Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The Great Divide in voting




Upscale neighbourhoods like Wellington Crescent
have higher turnout and more say in city politics than
low income areas like Lord Selkirk Park.

Top: Wellington Crescent House
Bottom: Lord Selkirk Park Apartments

Image Source: NOW Winnipeg

[2]
Writing a special piece for UK newspaper The Guardian, local columnist Bartley Kives had a terrific article on the "great indigenous divide" that defines Winnipeg:

“Aboriginal Winnipeggers are the fastest-growing segment of the middle class,” trumpted Kevin Chief, the provincial minister for Winnipeg, in a sunny editorial for the Winnipeg Free Press. “All the evidence shows a big part of that success is education. This is an incredible emerging story, and Winnipeggers are recognising it and responding.”

Much of the city’s aboriginal community, however, remains underemployed, undereducated and relegated to relatively impoverished neighbourhoods in Winnipeg’s inner city and North End. Two of the three poorest postal codes in Canada are in Winnipeg. Both are predominantly indigenous neighbourhoods. They are plagued by substandard housing, inadequate financial and retail services and higher-than-average levels of violent crime, mostly because of the domestic violence associated with poverty but also because of the presence of indigenous gangs.

In an exit interview in September, outgoing mayor Sam Katz portrayed aboriginals as refugees in their own country. “I know that there’s a lot of First Nations people leaving the reserves and coming to the big city of Winnipeg. They have no training. They have no education. They have no hope,” he said. “I’m sorry, you don’t have to be Einstein to figure out what’s going to happen. They’re going to end up in gangs. They’re going to end up in drugs. They’re going to end up in prostitution. And from there, it only gets worse.”

In this divided city, those are often the only indigenous people whom some suburbanites like Lorrie Steeves see: the panhandlers, solvent abusers and mentally ill. Steeves’ rant which may have precipitated the subsequent decline of popular support for her husband, but it also garnered some praise – adding insult to injury for many indigenous Winnipeggers.

("The 'great indigenous divide': Winnipeg stares into an ethnic chasm". Bartley Kives, The Guardian (Oct. 21, 2014.))

There has been some speculation over whether the Metis Brian Bowman, as Winnipeg's first indigenous mayor, can bridge the divide. I'll personally adopt a wait and see approach, as while the mayor-elect promised the moon we still have yet to see what he'll actually spend his political capital on. Closing the great divide will also take a lot more than one person, even someone as mighty as the (soon to be) mayor.

The election which generated a landslide win for Bowman itself demonstrated a great socioeconomic divide. Poorer neighbourhoods, with high indigenous and other racialized populations, in the North End and parts of the downtown did not go heavily for Brian Bowman like the middle class and upscale suburbs did.

A great illustration of this is a map in the Freep article about Ouellette and his ability to attract unlikely voters.Judy swept the North End and Robert Falcon-Ouellette did well in eastern downtown and eastern inner city subdivisions. A map of voter turnout, however, reveals that the areas won by Judy and Robert were lightweights in turnout, with some subdivisions boasting less than 19% turnout. Bowman leaning Tuxedo subdivision CT03, by contrast, had 58.2% of eligible voters at the polls.

The Great Divide in voting may help explain why a solid left progressive hasn't sat in our mayor's chair since the early 1940s. While lower turnout doesn't matter as much in provincial elections, where poor areas are cut off into ridings (in which case, it doesn't matter for a party whether you win the riding with 20% turnout or 70% turnout) it does matter for city-wide elections. It also probably matters somewhat for council ward races, as our council wards are much larger than provincial city ridings (15 wards vs 31 provincial ridings in Winnipeg) so that a richer neighbourhood outvoting poorer neighbourhood dynamic probably shapes the vote within wards. This is certainly the case with federal Winnipeg ridings (of which there are only 8).


This Great Divide in voting is a cause for concern. The poor have less platforms than middle and upper middle class Winnipeggers to let their grievances and issues known. A working poor single parent may have less time to prepare a brief for a City forum or a letter to the editor. Given the elite social circles politicians often frequent, our fellow citizen may be uncomfortable approaching most of them about issues. Giving campaign donations is also harder when you have less money to spend.

If poor Winnipeggers are giving up on the ballot box come civic election time, they're giving up on one of their few  feasible options they have for participating in the political system. A class, both by circumstance and by choices shaped by past experiences, locked out of the electoral system should concern all Winnipeggers.

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