Submitted by lizalligator on 15 October, 2006 - 9:19pm.
Hi Folks IMPORTANT COMMUNITY ALERT!!!
I have revised my letter to the Community to alert you all out there about new information on Federal governments massive cuts and eliminat ion of programs and services; information that has not got into the media or more truthfully what has been kept deliberally out. To illustrate the importance on how these awful changes about what the Feds are really doing and how will affect all of you out there in all our regional communities across Canada.
Posted October 15th 2006.
The Impact of the Federal Government’s Elimination and Deep Cuts to Government Departmental Programs and Services that have gutted a wide swath across the very fabric of our Canadian Civil Society:
October 15th, 2006 ( Revised again to reflect new info )
With respect to the cancellation of many distinctly Canadian initiatives, that had been put in place over a number of years. The first point I wish to make is these initiatives have been proven to benefit our Aboriginal communities, and have been highly praised by the United Nations Committee on Human Rights. Because the evidence proved that these programs were working and making efficient progress, they have been eliminated, and completely gutted.
It was quite apparent to me, that there was some bias overtones involved regarding Indigenous programs being eliminated such as health initiatives to help native youth to quit smoking and educational outreach programs around drugs and addiction. There has been a long and very dirty political history by our Canadian Federal Government. The Indian Act for example and land entitlement claims not to mention illegal gas and oil exploration and pilfering of natural resources from native reserves without the permission or agreement from the bands directly impacted.
These big global gas & oil co-operations have made billions in profits for the oil and gas industry, due to the illegal selling of large sectors of land being bid for and auctioned off by Provincial Governments i.e. Alberta, with the indifference of the Federal Government (Feds.) This tragedy and greed has been allowed to continue despite having driven many native communities into abject poverty and this point was driven home and proven by the Lubicon Lake Band in Alberta so that even the United Nation’s Committee on human rights finally understands this ongoing prejudice from the Feds based on the hard evidence presented by all of the First Nations representatives who spoke in Geneva on May 4th –9th 2006.
Consider Stephen Harper’s controversial right hand policy-advisor/ assistant (a transplanted Irish American) who not only wrote a really vicious, discriminatory and controversial book called 'First Nations / Second Thoughts' published in 1999-2000. When this information came to light, it caused a huge uproar especially from the First Nation’s communities in the 2004 Federal Election. He continues to advise Harper on these matters at the present time.
The second point is, everyone who is affected by all these service cuts and programs will suffer greatly. Especially our senior women; disabled people; people of colour, immigrants, youth and our children, as these cuts, cross a wide sector of our civil society attacking the very core of our civic, social, economic and political justice.
Legal aid assistance will be severely impacted due to the elimination of the Court Challenge Program and this would ensure fair justice through the C.C P. and our cultural economical spectrum. With this program gone the door to challenge the government policies has been shut tight.
Many groups, organizations and many sectors of our civil society have made it clear that they are very angry about the Governments latest actions such as our Canadian librarians who learned valuable lessons from their US counterparts with respect to the Freedom of Privacy and Information violations due to the US Patriot Act. Other sectors of our society effected are.
Forest protection environmentalists are especially angry with the cancellation of the Mountain Pine Beetle Initiative as this was a big election promise to follow through the Feds commitment to eliminate the pine beetle problem;
More than 85,000 of our independent Canadian farmers and their families are very concerned about the fact that they have been in the past as a very organized and vocal group, will now be prohibited, from advocating. Just recently the feds have issued a gag order silencing their voices, with respect to input and to lobby on behalf of their wheat crops.
Therefore robbing the farmers and directors of the wheat board an important voice and venue as the Canadian Wheat Board which handles billions of dollars to compete in the global economic wheat market. The actions by the conservative government clearly show their contempt for the independent farmer and their valuable contribution to both Canada’s economy and on a global level as our Canadian Wheat amounts to about 20 % of the world’s wheat market.
The Wheat Board has very recently been slammed with a gag order. The gag order states that;
a) It shall not expend funds, directly, or indirectly on advocating the retention of its monopoly powers, including the expenditure of funds for advertising, publishing or market research and
b)It shall not provide funds to other person or entity to enable them to advocate powers of the CWB.)
This gag-order was imposed by the Conservatives to silence both the Board and the farmers as the Government will be making what could be very damaging amendments to Bill c-300 “ An Act to Amend the Wheat Board. The Feds have made it clear they wish to dismantle the Canadian Wheat Board as soon as possible. These types of tactics that Feds have employed so far in their attempt to destroy farmers market advantage is dictatorial, unconstitutional and undemocratic. This gives the term ‘control freak’ a whole new meaning as applied to the Feds. More additional sectors of our society, such as our dedicated lawyers who provide pro-bono legal work are upset over the cancellation of court challenge program.
Museum people in the cultural arts, who provide rich, viable, diversified, multicultural and educational opportunities for research and hands-on programs both for youth, children and adults so that they can learn about our real Canadian history are furious and plan to do something about this as well.
The U.S. Government found out the hard way that you do not mess with American Librarians as they became quite vocal and efficient activists and fought tooth and nail against the impact of the Patriot Act.
Getting back to my earlier point of prejudice, discrimination and indifference towards our native people by the Federal government. I might also emphasize that, many organizations have spoken out in defence of our Aboriginal communities on this very issue.
§ The Canadian Bar Association,
§ The Canadian Library Association
§ Canadian Feminist Alliance,
§ National Association of Women and the Law, and
§ National Canadian Association of the Council of Women
§ The National Association of First Nations / Native Women.
In addition several of our national unions i.e. NUPGE and CUPE National, have already made similar public comments about this issue as well. In the City of Vancouver, there is a very large and disproportionate part of our aboriginal population who live in the Downtown East-side are being forced into abject poverty and are homeless, have drug addiction problems and it is a very serious problem that has developed into a health crisis.
Many of these people, especially elders and youth will be severely impacted or at high risk by these cuts / reductions or elimination of literacy programs or education initiatives such as access to and learning about the internet and how to make the ‘net’ work, best for the individual to be able to communicate with others; for seniors and immigrants learning a second language; improved reading and writing skills.
The third point is the cutting of more than $5 million dollars or about 40% per cent of the administrative budget of the Status of Women Canada as well as imposing rigid and narrow standards for funding and objectives and to re-instate the necessity for access with respect to advocating and lobbying. To combat, inaccuracies and indifference, towards Status of Women Canada.
I believe that objective information about the federal agency, along with providing tools and motivation for people to lobby the federal government to revisit changes made to the agency's funding and objectives.
Nine months after committing in election promises “to take concrete and immediate steps to increase women's equality in Canada”. The Harper administration has gone and removed all references to “equality” and “political justice” from Status of Women Canada’s mandate, and drastically changed rules in order to disallow groups from doing advocacy or lobbying with federal funds. These measures and changes alone are in direct violation of the following;
The United Nations CEDAW Declaration to Eliminate Discrimination against Women (Paragraph / Section. 353 – 380);
The Canadian Charter of Rights/ Section 15 ;
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights/ Article 19; The International Covenant of Human Rights under Article 11.
Beijing Declaration signed in 1995 / renewed 2005 for the purpose of promoting and working to ensure gender equality for all Canadian women
"The Harper Conservatives are clearly out of touch with reality, Oda and Harper have an responsibility to more than 16 million female constituents, whose equality and rights they are obligated to ensure and they are trying to paint women’s groups who speak out on this issue as victimized or partisan.
To counter that kind of ludicrous spin by the Conservatives, I believe that an independent space should be available, where anyone who cares about women’s equality can participate in specific projects to protect SWC.
For these reasons, I condemn the Conservative ‘messaging’ in labeling “advocates of women’s gender equality are only interested in focusing on women’s weaknesses”. Enough, with their convenient dismissals. What is needed is a sustained commitment to women’s equality which requires tremendous strength – especially nowadays, given the onslaught of inaccurate rhetoric from the right.
As a senior woman, who is fairly resourceful, creative and well educated. Although I am physically disabled and I have to cope with several learning (dyslexia) disabilities. Even with these daily life-long challenges, I am still very dedicated to raising public awareness about the importance of Status of Women Canada and the role it has played both in the past and should continue to play in the struggle for women’s full equality in Canada.
. Again, I wish to reiterate my deep concerns over the cuts and changes to the Women’s Program at the Status of Women Canada.
I am most disturbed by the recent undemocratic measures under taken by Minister Oda (Status of Women Canada) to try and silence women’s groups by drastically altering the rules of the Women’s Program at the Status of Women Canada.
Minister Oda’s decisions and actions are inconsistent with her job to advance and promote women’s equality as she has slashed the administrative budget and despite the cuts, being billed as administrative savings, these cuts will likely cripple the departments ability to undertake research, policy analysis and development and consultation with women’s groups.
In addition, as a reminder all references to the term ‘gender equality’ were eliminated from the new rules along with the term “political’ from references to the full participation of women in social, economic and cultural life. I demand an immediate reversal.
If the Minister fails to follow through with her obligations and responsibilities to her more than 16 million female constitutes, then we must demand that she resign from her post, effective immediately.
I wish to include a recent report from official Liberal MP Status of Women Canada critic Maria Minnia
Subject: Standing Committee on the Status of Women Canada—A continued report from Maria Minna MP
Friday October 13th 2006
Maria Minna, MP
October 5, 2006
The following is a continuation of a journal of the meeting proceedings of the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women, as prepared by the Hon. Maria Minna, M.P., Official Opposition Critic for the Status of Women.
Much of what I want to talk about today has already been in the press, for this was the day that Minister Oda finally appeared before the Standing Committee. I intend to add my impressions and observations about what I can only say was an extremely frustrating experience. The Minister’s rationale for changing the “terms and conditions” of the Women’s Program to exclude organizations involved in capacity building and advocacy activities defies all explanation.
Insisting that the Charter has been in place for 25 years, the Minister claims that women’s organizations are demanding “concrete actions”. It would be interesting to know what organizations she has talked to – perhaps her friends at REAL Women and other similar right wing groups! The new mandate of the Women’s Program is to “facilitate women’s participation in Canadian society by addressing their economic, social and cultural situation through Canadian organizations.”
Reference to the participation of women in political and legal aspects of society has have been removed. In addition, under the program objectives, achieving social justice has been deleted. One can, then, conclude, that this government thinks social justice issues are not important or, have all been achieved. Finally, under the former mandate it was clear that emotional, spiritual, personal or professional development projects would not be funded.
This criterion, has been totally removed leading the way for REAL Women and such groups to be approved for funding. As appalling as the new exclusions are, it is almost more distressing to learn that for-profit groups will now be able to qualify for funding under the program. Really, what ever could be the reason for permitting this, especially from a government that thinks we should be pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps?
She totally ignores the realities of women’s lives and quite frankly, dismisses the important work done by Status of Women over the years. Files, critical to the equality of women, i.e., pay equity, have benefited from support from Status of Women. However the Minister insists that: “After over 30 years of existence, Status of Women Canada must deliver real, measurable results directly affecting women and their families.” I wonder what she thinks they have been doing all this time ?
Calls for her resignation go unheeded, but I can assure you that I, and my Liberal colleagues, will continue to fight hard on behalf of the women of Canada. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with my office with your concerns and suggestions for action.
We must all work together to increase the public’s awareness of what is really happening at Status of Women Canada and pressure the government to rethink its position.
Office of Hon. Maria Minna, P.C, M.P.
Beaches- East York
Room 406 West Block
House of Commons
Tel: (613) 992-2115
For up-to-date information and for further help in providing more public support, please checkout the a new website www.statusreport.ca that has been just created to lend support and give people who wish to support the work of the Status of Women in Canada for continued advocacy /lobbying and provides valuable resource tools.
The fourth and final point is, I have questions, regarding the real reason for the cancellation of the BC Fall Legislature and I wonder about any real political connection or possibly just a coincidence.
I believe that Gordon Campbell and his Finance Minister Carol Taylor received an advance, ‘heads up’ on what was coming sometime in August, possible shortly before the public announcement come out about the legislature session being cancelled.
When did Gordon Campbell find out about these changes and cuts by the Feds?
How will this effect, the service delivery of programs and services to all British Columbians?
How will the reduction of Federal Social Transfers to the provinces (especially here in B.C.) impact services to our regional communities?
Will we see more cuts to services and programs, as was the case in 2002? Especially for those who live in smaller /rural communities;
How will these cuts and elimination of programs and services such as access to the internet and adult literacy / educational outreach programs impact these residents, who depend on these services with respect to rural libraries and community centers in the smaller communities in B.C.?
Vancouver, B.C. Canada