Ok, I’m talking about politics again. This is important. This is urgent. There are two bills right now that will further drag us down the road to a totalitarian nightmare state. Bill C-51, being voted on by the Senate on Tuesday, will basically establish a secret police and make it dangerous for any Canadian to voice dissenting opinions online or anywhere else.
These two bills are ostensibly “anti-terror” bills, but the truth is they’re only going to cause more terror for Canadian citizens.
Both of these bills affect me directly. I’m political online and I often dissent from the Harperium. If C-51 goes into effect and they start cracking down, I’m in danger of being arrested for “terrorism”. (Because talking about the issues in my country instead of repeating platitudes about how the Cons have our best interests at heart “incites terror”.) C-24 affects me even more directly — I’m one of those millions of Canadians who no longer can be assured of their citizenship. I was born in Vancouver, but I’m a dual citizen — and even if I weren’t, I’d still be eligible to apply for US citizenship. I can be stripped of my citizenship and exiled from my homeland.
My mom is in danger, too. She immigrated here when she was 3. She’s a Canadian citizen, but under C-24 she’s a second class citizen.
So far the list of things that can get you exiled isn’t large, but it will be expanded — and with bill C-51, what do you think the odds are that “protesting the gov’t” will be included in the list of punishable offences? Mom and I protest the Harperium and our provincial gov’t on a regular basis.
We need to fight for our liberty, Canada. We need to shed the shroud of apathy and stand up and demand our rights and freedoms back. Too long we’ve stood idly by while Harper and his cronies run this country into the ground.
Canada might not be perfect, but in my lifetime it hasn’t been this terrible. I am watching my country go up in flames — instead of things getting better, they’re getting worse. We went from colonialist assholes to progressive, if slow-moving, thinkers, and now we’re going straight into an Orwell novel. How did we end up moving backwards instead of forwards? What happened?
I was gone for 10 years in the States. I came back, and found my country unrecognizable.
Please, take steps to make sure this doesn’t happen. If you’re Canadian, sign the petition and email your Senators. If you’re not Canadian but you know some, share this post. Urge them to take action.
Do it for Canada. Do it for the True North, strong and free.
“It’s never a good idea to discuss religion or politics with people you don’t really know.” Agree or disagree?
Disagree, very much.
In my experience, it’s better to discuss religion or politics with people you don’t know very well. By the time you’re already friends with someone, if they’re a good friend (or if they’re family), if you have severe disagreements with them on the subjects of religion or politics what good comes from discussing them? Unless you really are the rare pair who can discuss it without wanting to murder each other.
Most of my politics are tied up in my life or death. That’s how it is when you’re a member of an oppressed class in an oppressive society. Abortion rights aren’t a quaint mental exercise for me; they’re a matter of whether I live or die. Fat acceptance isn’t me whining because I don’t want to lose weight; fatphobia has very real consequences for the health of fat people, and I deserve to be treated with respect no matter my size. Equal rights and protections for trans* folks aren’t just some abstract thing I can talk about with buddies over a beer; they affect my friends, they affect me — they affect our lives and safety. If I decide to present as male and I get into a situation where the cops need to see my ID, guess what? My life is at risk, because if they see “F” under sex and I don’t match what they expect in their brains, there is no telling what they’ll do. If I go to a doctor who decides that all my problems are because I’m fat and they misdiagnose me, that could have real, life-or-death consequences for me — and I’m not even getting into the mental health issues that come from living in a society that’s geared towards hating fat people.
For these things that are life or death for me, there’s no room for disagreement. Because disagreeing that I deserve the right to terminate a pregnancy without legal interference is saying that I don’t deserve to have agency over my own body. Disagreeing that I have the right to present as male without fear is saying I’m not a person to you. Disagreeing that I have the right to respect no matter what my size because you’re “so concerned for my health” is saying that what really matters is not my health, but your comfort — because if you knew anything about my health, you wouldn’t say a damn thing about my needing to lose weight.
As for religion, it’s not a life or death situation for me, at least not here in Canada — but it does have a lot to do with my mental health, my happiness, my life going smoothly. If I’m making friends with someone, I’d rather know early on if they’re going to try to convert me to something else every chance they get, or if they’re going to call CPS to protect my (future) kids from my “devil worship”. That’s an actual worry for someone who IDs as a witch, by the way. Don’t kid yourself that it’s not.
I want to know if someone is the type of person who believes, truly believes, that they cannot be moral without religion to guide them. Because I don’t want to know those people. If religion is the only thing stopping them from hurting other people, then I don’t want to be around if they have a crisis of faith.
I’d rather discuss politics and religion early on in a relationship. That way, if they’re a transphobic misogynist who doesn’t really believe I’m a person with rights and freedoms, I know to not let them any further into my life. That way, if they’re not bigoted, but just very uneducated, I know exactly what I’m getting into and can decide if I want to spend the spoons on educating this person. That way, if they’re the proselytizing type, they know early on there’s no point to try with me — I’m not open to conversion tactics — I know early on that I may need to be prepared to kick them out of my life, if they don’t stop trying. That way, if they believe that religion is the only way to have a moral compass, I can say goodbye early on. I prefer my friends to be able to steer their ships with their own moral compass regardless whatever god or gods may be in their lives.
I try to keep the peace with people I still want to be friends with, even if they disagree with me on politics or religion. (There are not many people like this in my life, for the record, and those that are disagree with me on portions of politics that aren’t life or death for me.) Discussing these things only comes up if I think we might actually make progress, instead of talking past each other and getting angry.
And as for talking religion or politics with random people on the internet…. Well, what do you think my blogs are for?
Yesterday I woke up at 6pm. The takeaway from this is that my sleep schedule has been borked. Again.
So, natch, I’m pulling an all-nighter to right it. I have my first volunteer day for VIWF on Thursday. 10 am, Granville Island. I’ll need an hour to drive out there and an hour to get ready in the morning, and I like being early. No time to slowly fix the sleep schedule over 2 weeks, unfortunately. Need to do an urgent patch.
Waking up at 6pm meant I was almost too late for the VanSlam. Luckily, I got in just under the wire and even got to perform. (!!!) I read “Blood Candle”, a poem I wrote a yearish ago and have been sitting on ever since. Video was taken; it will be up at some point in the next week or so, I gather. I don’t think it’ll be a full body shot, so you won’t be able to see the horrendous shaking of my legs. It felt like I was trying to tap-dance.
After Slam I got to hang out with my fabulous friend D., who stepped into the boots of Bellica Yarrow for the cover of Bellica. Yes, that’s a photograph on the cover; everyone is always so surprised with that info. We chatted and she showed me My Drunk Kitchen. I was reminded that I needed to get back to vlogging, so expect to see a video sometime soon. Then I went home at like 2:30 a.m., which is obviously the best time to make the drive from East Van to Coquitlam.
Side note, I just got up in the middle of writing this to go find my video camera. I knew exactly where it was. What I did not realize was that the purple bra I have been looking for was hiding with it. So, hooray. I found my video camera AND my bra. Perhaps in celebration of this fact I shall wear my bra as a hat during my vlog. Also I will stop typing bray instead of bra, forcing myself to constantly delete and fix.
Unrelated to any of this, I am trying to cut sugar out of my diet. This has nothing to do with “eating healthy” or whatever the fuck and everything to do with my wisdom teeth are coming in everything is inflamed sugar makes this worse ow ow ow ow ow please kill me now. Actually, eating anything hurts right now, but sugar is definitely the biggest culprit in worsening my pain levels to the point of “I cannot function, please send copious amounts of alcohol and then leave me to curl up in the snow and die”. Working on seeing a dentist soon. At this point, I’m hoping the teeth are impacted — because in Canada if you need actual surgery to get out wisdom teeth (ie, if they’re impacted), it will be partially or maybe totally covered by healthcare. Or if your teeth have gotten to emergency levels, ie you’ll die without treatment — then you’re covered too. So, you know, that’s completely not at all fucked up in any way. Right? Right.
Anyway, the cutting sugar totally out is not easy and I have been failing miserably. I don’t even eat that much sugar these days, at least not during the week when I’m at my place (there’s a lot of junk food at Ogre’s place, and I have no will power) and still I’m finding it really difficult. I need coffee in the morning, and I really do prefer it sweet. I use honey or agave syrup because white sugar, blech, but that doesn’t matter to my inflamed gums and nerves. Sugar is sugar I guess.
Long story short I’m not sure how to end this blog post so I just keep rambling about things.
It was the provincial election. I registered weeks ago, changing my address online, in preparation for this day. I was even going to advance vote last week, but I didn’t get a chance to make it to the polling station before I headed away from my town for the weekend. So I decided to do it on the day itself. I mean, the polling stations are open for 12 hours, and voting takes ten minutes.
Voting is the easiest thing to do in Canada. When I took Nate on Saturday to advance vote, he was in and out in under 2 minutes. I was done in 8, and only because I stood and deliberated over candidates. You can register right there at the polling station if you need to. They accept a wide range of things as ID. You can even have someone vouch for you.
You get a sticker for voting. A little round thing that says “I voted!”
They must have a lot of leftover stickers after each election.
Voter turnout was 48%. BC elected a Liberal majority.
For those of you who don’t know much about Canadian parties, the BC Liberals are actually way more conservative than the federal liberal party. Voting Liberal in BC is basically the same as voting Conservative.
When I turned 18, I was excited about voting. I ran voter registration drives, I worked hard to get people to the polls, I constantly reminded friends to vote. To get out and participate in democracy.
Often, after election day friends would say they “forgot” to vote if I asked them if they’d made it to the polling station. They’d spent the day on the beach instead. Or whatever.
Voting wasn’t easy in the States during the 2004 election. I spent over 2 hours at the polling station, waiting for them to say yes, I could actually vote, yes, this was the right station for me. They spent a long time on hold with the authorities, whoever they are. This wasn’t uncommon. There were a lot of problems for those of us who registered Democrat.
When I moved back to Canada I was pleasantly surprised with how easy voting was. “Wow,” I thought. “This is great. I bet Canadians are far more invested in democracy. Voting here is so easy.”
I was always a person who took joy in the political process. Things suck and many politicians are liars and often it’s hard to feel like you’re making any real difference. Regardless, I took joy in participating in democracy. In voting, in being an activist, in speaking out, in dissent. In making my voice heard.
I felt like this since 1993, when mom and dad took me to Ottawa to cheer Kim Campbell, their friend from law school and my god-mother, on as she ran for Prime Minister. I still have my pink “Kim” baseball cap somewhere. I felt like this when I accepted my award from the ACLU for being an activist in high school. I felt like this when I marched in peace demonstrations, when I spoke out, spoke up about what mattered to me. I felt like this every time I did anything that was participation in a democratic society.
Key word: felt.
Yesterday as I walked out of the polling booth I didn’t feel suffused by the same lighthearted joy that usually took me over after I voted, or after the results of an election went the way I hoped. I felt despondency and despair; I felt hollow. The joy was gone. All I felt was that I’d done my democratic duty, and I could go home and sleep now — because who cared? What did it matter anyway?
I was a rarity to feel joy in democracy. I knew that. And I think knowing that killed my joy.
I didn’t even need to check the results as they came in, or voter turnout, to feel this way. When I did finally check them, they didn’t help, save a small fist-pump at seeing that the Powell River riding finally went NDP. The results only cemented the despair, the despondency. So did the inevitable arguments about “vote splitting”. Not only did I already feel shitty about something that used to bring me joy, but now I got to listen to people who are supposedly on the same ideological, political page as me, call me a waste of space and everything that’s wrong with the world because I dared to vote with my conscience, with my heart, with my principles. Because I stood there in the polling station, not wanting to select either of the two options I’d settled on: one would be me voting against my heart, and the other would subject me to arguments with my fiancé and other people I care about as they tell me I made the wrong choice.
Because I voted Green.
When in my riding it wouldn’t have made a difference anyway. If all the people who voted Green in the Coquitlam-Burke Mountain riding had voted NDP instead, the Liberals would still have taken the riding. With over 1400 votes!
I understand where the argument comes from. NDP and Green parties are really similar. I have voted NDP before — generally in ridings where the race is more neck in neck between NDP and the more conservative party. I will vote NDP again if I live in a riding where, again, the race is neck in neck. In Nate’s riding the difference was a few hundred votes; if I’d been living there I would have voted NDP.
And I am of the opinion that in those few ridings where the race is so tight, maybe for a few years the Green Party shouldn’t run candidates there. Solidify the party via other ridings; gain strength that way. Work with the NDP for now. There are not many ridings where things are so tight. It wouldn’t be a massive sacrifice, and in the long run it may strengthen the party more. Hell, it might even lead to an NDP majority and a Green minority, which would be fucking awesome.
But I am tired of hearing from people who voted NDP that it is all my fault that the Liberals won a majority. Because I voted Green in a riding where it wouldn’t have made a lick of difference. I am tired of hearing about the “problem of vote splitting” and I’m tired of seeing it being laid at the feet of the voters.
I voted with my conscience. That is my right as a citizen of a democratic society.
If you want to get angry about this election, if you want to get angry about the majority that was elected, go ahead. But don’t focus your anger at the people who feel the same, who didn’t want a Liberal majority any more than you did. Why not get angry about the low voter turnout? Over half the province didn’t vote yesterday or during advance voting. Over HALF the eligible voter population. Don’t you think some of the responsibility rests at their feet?
Or how about the people who voted but didn’t bother to educate themselves before casting their ballots? Don’t think that’s a straw man. They exist. I’ve met them. (And tried to educate them, obviously — but if I’ve met a few, there are surely more out there.) People who think the BC Liberals are the same as the Federal Liberals (they’re not). People who think the Liberals are still the Official Opposition to the Conservative majority (they’re not; the NDP is now).
It’s ridiculously common that people either refuse to educate themselves about different platforms before they go and cast their ballots (“I’ll select Liberal, because I’m assuming the Liberals up here are the same as US Liberals!”) or that educating themselves is so daunting they refuse to vote in the first place.
Don’t even get me started on “But none of the candidates are aligned with my values!” If that’s the case, you still have an option that’s participatory: you show up at the polling station and you refuse your ballot. When they hand it to you, you hand it right back. You say you’re refusing your ballot because none of the candidates are worth voting for, or whatever. All you have to say is you’re refusing your ballot.
That is what you do if you feel that you can’t vote for anyone in your riding. Do you know why you do this? Because they have to record refused ballots separately from all other ballots. If you spoil your ballot as an act of protest, it just gets lumped in with all the other spoiled ballots, intentional or otherwise. Refused ballots are counted separately.
And if more people actually took the time to register to vote and then go refuse their ballot instead of avoiding the polling stations or spoiling their ballots in protest, then the PTB might actually, I don’t know, sit up and take notice that the populace isn’t happy.
You know what doesn’t tell them that? Low voter turnout. Low voter turnout tells them that people are happy with the current power structures, with the current policies. And things continue the way they’re going.
Instead, people refuse to participate in democracy. I don’t mean just getting out and voting, though that is the very least you can do. I mean educating yourself before you vote. If you’re reading this I assume you have the internet. It’s a good starting place to learn about the different parties, the platforms, the issues. It’s also a good place to learn about effective protest of voting, as I outlined in the paragraphs above.
If you already are politically minded and you know about the issues and the platforms…you can participate by educating other people. By dissenting, speaking out against the government when they do things you disagree with. These are things you can do as a citizen of a democratic country.
Our forebears fought hard to be allowed to have a voice in government. They fought against dictatorships, they fought against sexism, they fought against racism.
Now, just a few short decades after aboriginal people in Canada are allowed to vote (yeah, try and figure that one out — their country in the first place, but they weren’t allowed to have any say in it for the longest time. Hooray for colonialism!), we have some of the lowest voter turnouts in history. We have an apathetic populace that would rather spit on the memory of people who fought and died for our right to cast our ballots, to make our voices heard, than get out of the house or work and get to the polling station to spend three minutes checking a box on a piece of paper and putting it in a box full of other votes.
No wonder I no longer feel any joy in the political process. The apathy of my fellow countryfolk is an anchor chained to my neck, dragging me down and drowning me.
So, my fellow British Columbians, how about a toast? I raise my glass, full of a bitter Socratic draught.
Well, I’m sure many did. I personally never release my death-grip on my pitchfork — I am always ready to storm the establishment or run anti-choice assholes through in a manner similar to Vlad the Impaler’s.
Yes, Motion 312 was defeated in Parliament on Wednesday. M312, for you United Statesians who have no idea what I’m talking about, was a motion that wanted to redefine fetuses as people. In layman’s terms, it would have criminalized abortion. It was brought forth by the Conservative Stephen Woodworth. Yay! Yet another old white cis man telling women and genderqueer uterus-bearers what they can do with their bodies! This never gets old.
203 people voted nay on M312 and 91 voted yea — four of them Liberals, and the rest Conservative (we are not surprised there). I’m happy to report that the MP for my riding voted against it, even though he’s Conservative and historically known to be anti-choice. Still, I find it upsetting that almost a hundred of our elected officials think voting for such a motion is acceptable. I find it a disgrace that it was even brought forth in the first place.
It should be said that I still don’t really understand politics.
I’m political, and I have a strong sense of justice for people, non-human animals, and the earth — but the mechanics of how governments work baffle me.
Especially coming from living in the States for 10 years and learning all about their really weird system to having to re-learn Canada’s weirder system.
And Canada’s political system is confusing, especially when I’m trying to hold onto facts about the U.S.’s that are slipping away more and more with each passing year.
Don’t believe me? Read this Wiki article about last year’s federal election, which was historic: the Liberals stopped being the Official Opposition and the NDP (New Democratic Party) took their place, the Bloc Quebecois broke, and a Green Party candidate, Elizabeth May, won a seat. These are all firsts.
What the fuck does half of that mean? you ask me, perusing the Wiki article and feeling your brain implode.
Hey, don’t look at me. I’m still trying to figure this shit out. And I am a political person at core — this is something I really care about.
Our politics are confusing, and what’s worse, Canadians seem to have real trouble getting fired up over anything besides hockey. Yeah, we have Occupy, and the Casserole protests, and we protested against the G20 police brutality, and we’re fighting like hell against Enbridge — but these protests represent a minority of Canadians. Quite obviously, because if it were the majority who was so fired up about things, we’d have had better voter turnout and may have defeated Harper.
We tend to live with our heads in the sand. (Or tundra; whatever.) We believe that our country’s the greatest, so why should we change anything? Life is good. We got beer, and hockey, eh? What else matters?
Part of me gets really angry with my fellow Canadians’ apathetic attitude — these things matter, dammit, and our country is going down the tubes. (Has been since ‘first contact’, or when the genocide began. To be completely honest, here.)
But then the other part of me feels I can’t say anything — because I don’t understand what’s going on half the time. I rely on friends and family to give me Cliff’s Notes, because otherwise I just get really confused and depressed and feel stupid, which is never good for self-esteem.
And I am so, so tired. There are so many battles to fight that I lose track, and then get confused by how things supposedly work in this country (more like grind along towards destruction) and have to stop fighting for a while.
All in all, being an activist became a lot more complicated when I moved back home. The burn-out is pretty much constant, now.
Saturday night we spent in Salem, Oregon at my friend Indigo’s place. Her house is HUGE and with rent so reasonable I half considered picking up and moving there like, yesterday. (There being Salem, not necessarily her house.)
Sunday morning afternoon we headed north again and stopped in Portland for a visit shopping trip, as mentioned before. Leaving Portland was interesting, as they apparently don’t believe in signs. Orbathrooms. We decided that a 2 hour movie could be made –called Road Trip 4: Escape From Portland — about some tourists trapped in endless freeway loops and one way street routes, never sure how to leave. Eventually they starve to death.
Sunday evening found us having dinner at The Keg (just outside Seattle) with my long time good friend Priscilla and her boyfriend. Steak = my reason for living. It was awesome to see Priscilla again — she looks happy and healthy, which makes me happy (now if only I could find a way for my friends’ good fortunes to make me healthy too!).
We stayed in a Best Western right by the Space Needle that night. I’ve been to the Space Needle before, when I was a young child. Some sort of family trip — I barely remember seeing the thing, and don’t remember going up it at all. I hope next time I go to Seattle and have more time I can go up it again, and perhaps remember this time.
The next morning I rose late, cutting short my breakfast with my friend Finn. Regardless, we sat and chatted for an hour over coffee, and she bought a copy of my book. It was good to see her again. We shared dog stories.
Actually, my passports are missing. I have two, both current: US and Canada.
I only need one to travel (technically*) and I cannot find either of them.
I keep them in a special silver case that protects them from electromagnetic rays and beaming up by aliens and other various nasties. Yes, I love my passports so much I got them their own tinfoil hats.
But the last time I used them was my trip to Orlando in January, and as you may recall when I arrived home I injured my spine. So that entire time period is lost in a fog of concussion and narcotics, and I don’t remember where I put them.
This, of course, wouldn’t be a big deal even a few years ago, back when the US still trusted Canada and I could go across the border on a road trip with nothing more than a driver’s license and the wind in my hair. (And clothes and food, obviously.)
There. Do you trust us now? Is it enough that we are trying to be like you? If I hide my tattoos and have normal colored hair and wear a pretty dress and make-up so you’re sure that I’m female, which is apparently important because I’m CAFAB, will you let me through? If I promise not to spread liberalism or fresh ideas or freedom?
Ironically enough, I fled Bush-led USA for Canada in the hopes that the country of my birth was still as liberal as I’d left it. That’s been steadily changing for the past several years now. I’m sitting here and watching the world go down in flames.
*I say technically because when traveling I don’t volunteer the information that I have more than one citizenship, as it can lead to me being sent to fucking Gitmo. I always have both passports on me, however, in case the information does come up. Technically I should be able to travel with one or the other, but in the increasingly fear-based climate of my home countries I find it’s safer to carry both.
I say only 61 because 61 is young. To me, at least — both my parents are older than 61 and I’m only 25. One of them has had cancer and beat it already. I live terrified that it’ll come back and take her from me.
So, Jack Layton is dead. What does that mean for Canada? Canadians, on the whole, don’t get as worked up politically as Americans do. For a long time I’ve thought this a good thing, as there are fewer chances for us to look like idiots on the world stage. (No offense intended to my Yankee brethren, but it’s true.)
However, now I find my thoughts turning. I wonder if we look like bigger idiots for not getting worked up — especially when there are so many things wrong with our country. (Harper being the main one.)
Today there’s been a massive outpouring of love from Canadians across the political spectrum towards Layton’s family — most people agree that, regardless where their own votes went, Layton was a force for good in Canadian politics.
What if we could put that same energy towards our politics? Towards getting involved? Towards being activists?