Confusion, Trepidation, and Politics – Bill C-45

Hello, people on the internet!

I have a disclaimer that I must share with you before getting into this topic.

I have very little background knowledge on these issues or relevant changing laws. If I have misunderstood something, please tell me! If I have inadvertently trusted a media source when they had it wrong, please tell me! If I have accidentally said something in a culturally insensitive way, please tell me because ignorance is no excuse.

For those of you that, like me yesterday, have no idea what Bill C-45 is, Bill C-45 is the second budget bill to be presented this year. Bill C-38, the first budget bill, similarly had huge changes for Canada and completely slipped under the radar. Between the two of them, the Conservative party has presented more than 900 pages this year in connection with the budget (when the average is usually in the double digits, prior to 2005).

The scary part is that a great deal of these changes are about so much more than saving a dollar here or there. I have had a very hard time trying to find any information on what exactly is contained in Bill C-45, so it looks like one of these days I’m going have to try to read the brick – yikes. And not only is it 400+ pages, but it is very difficult to understand proposed legal, legislative changes because they so often refer to lines of documents that aren’t included in the text itself, so a great deal of reading has to occur outside of the bill to understand the full effect.

That being said, I am going to attempt to summarize what I have read about Bill C-45 in the last 24 hours, what I see and what others have said about the potential or certain ramifications, and ask some of the questions that are driving me crazy.

Changes to the Indian Act

Now, idlenomore.ca is saying that Bill C-45 violates a number of U.N. conventions geared at protecting the rights of indigenous people, but again, I cannot seem to find which parts these are. If anyone knows, please tell me!

What I have managed to find (in the second CBC article listed below) is this:

Currently, if a reserve wishes to lease a portion of its land for commerical purposes (keep in mind that, to my knowledge [please correct me if this is not always the case], reserve land is communally ‘owned’ by the people of that reserve) a majority of residents on that reserve must vote in favour of this lease. The articles seem to paint a picture of inefficiency and unnecessarily wasted time when they discuss this part, which sets the stage for the proposed changes: when Bill C-45 passes, the majority of residents do not have to approve the leasing of land to outside companies/individuals/etc. A meeting or referendum must be held, and the majority of people that attend the meeting or respond to the referendum is sufficient to allow the land to be leased. Oh, except the Aboriginal Affairs Minister has veto power, and can reject a proposal for land leasing brought to him by a given band council.

This may be my paranoia coming into effect, but this sounds like it leaves a great deal of room for corruption. There are a few burning questions this has raised for me, and while some of them may sound rhetorical, I would appreciate input, information, or answers to any of these questions!

Does this mean that a band council could call a meeting, fail to give proper notice, and then lease out land based on those who managed to attend?

Does this mean that a meeting could occur in a location where those without cars could not attend?

Rather than expediting the leasing of land to non-reserve businesses and individuals, doesn’t this leave a great deal of room for abuse?

Why would the Aboriginal Affairs Minister be able to veto a motion accepted by the band council of a specific reserve? Doesn’t this infringe on independence and self-determination?

I would like to include another disclaimer: by mentioning corruption in connection with band leadership, I am not saying that reserves or their leadership are corrupt. I have been lucky enough to meet some fantastic people while living on a reserve for two summers, and I am sadly aware that sometimes, the needs and desires of the few in power may not reflect the needs and desires of the general populace. This is not unique to reserves (hello, Joe Fontana? Rob Ford?), and it seems like this change is part of a process that moves the administration of reserves closer to the way that municipalities are run, without consultation with the people it effects.

What do you think?

Changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act (NWPA)

Did you know there is an act called the Navigable Waters Protection Act? I didn’t, either! It currently places a ‘protected’ designation on approximately 40,000 lakes and 2.5 million rivers. Bill C-45 presents a new list of protected lakes and rivers that includes less than 100 of each. In addition (it is unclear if this is part of the NWPA or somewhere else), fish that have no commercial value are no longer protected.

Environmental groups are saying that this is a shocking, tragic, horrendous change. Lakes and rivers that provide drinking water and fishing grounds will be even more vulnerable to pollution and corporate neglect. Large projects that affect waterways such as dams, booms, bridges, and oil pipelines currently have to run reports assessing the potential environmental impact of their project on these protected lakes and rivers – they will have to do this no longer.

My only question here is… what the f?!

Windsor-Detroit Bridge

Another ‘what the f’ moment: Bill C-45 creates a new law surrounding the creation of a bridge between Windsor and Detroit that changes “some legislation and exempting this bridge from other Acts which would have otherwise applied, including the Environmental Assessment Act, Fisheries Act, Navigable Waters Protection Act (which is being amended too, see above), and the Species at Risk Act.” (Second CBC article below)

Please forgive my sloppy citations.

Please let me know what you think of this. What am I missing? (I know there is plenty, but I have yet to find it.) What does this mean for Canada?

Do you think this can be remedied in 2015 – or is this indicative of the direction in which Canada is moving?

This is where I got my information from (ignoring news sources that shared the same article – for example, the first CBC link is also on huffingtonpost.ca and some lesser-known news sites):

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/12/04/pol-liveblog-budget-vote.html

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/10/19/pol-list-2nd-omnibus-bill.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/10/21/omnibus-budget-bill-c-45_n_1997300.html

http://idlenomore.ca/

http://canadians.org/blog/?p=17379

Thank you to Naomi Sayers (follow her at @naomisayers00). She is the only person across Facebook, Twitter, and the casual first-page checks I do of news sites that brought this to my attention. Evidently I need to expand where I get my news from… suggestions are welcome!

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Competition

There is an interesting phenomenon I’ve observed. This phenomenon has happened, from my perspective, mostly to women, but there aren’t any men that I currently talk to in enough depth to know if this happens to them, too. And this phenomenon is the destructive nature of perceived happiness competition.

If you haven’t experienced it or watched your friends experience it, you will likely have no clue what I’m talking about. If you have felt it or seen it, you probably don’t even need to read the rest of this blog, but you should, and share with me what you think.

This perceived happiness competition is, essentially, a feeling that your happiness relies on comparing your life to someone else’s and coming out on top. The competition may take place with both parties being aware – perhaps over drinks or coffee, texting or telephone calls, as two “friends” share details of their relationships that are intended to show that they are the happiest. Or two people – colleagues, peers, coworkers – that feel that they need to be, not just good, but the best; this means that they have won the competition, and they have a right to be happier than their competitor.

Sadly, though, sometimes this can happen without one of the parties being aware. Perhaps you have a frenemy on Facebook who secretly checks your profile page once a week, and analyzes every status, profile picture, and friend post to see if you’re happy, and how happy you are. Your profile picture no longer features your significant other? You must be on the rocks. A friend posted “where were you last night”? That must mean you are a hermit, a shut-in. Ultimately, your invisible watcher – in another age, ‘stalker’ – feels gratified that their life must be better than yours, and they can move on with their day.

What is this?

I am happy. I am so happy. I am in a program that I enjoy and am capable of finishing. I live with someone I am deeply in love with, and I get to see him every day. My parents and sisters live right down the street, and they are all healthy. I am not rich, but I can buy food, and pay for school, and rent, and even internet.

I am blogging about this today because I have felt myself sliding into this trap yet again. I am far from proud of it, and it’s a slimy, horrid feeling. This has largely been absent from my life since high school ended (thankfully), although I have a couple of friends who are particularly prone to this type of self-doubt. My trigger seems to be that, if I feel someone else is doing this to me… game on.

I’m blogging about it because I want it to go away. I want to remind myself that I like me, whether or not other people do. I don’t want to be someone else, and I don’t need to aspire to the things others have.

If a person is obviously comparing their life to mine, and is trying to make me feel as if their life is better than mine, it does not matter.

I do not need to win. I’ve already won.

I am perfectly happy right now, thankful that I am, and need to remain so.

Have you ever felt this happiness competition?

Why do you think this happens?

How Media Constructs Our Reality – Apodaca Prison Riot and Beyond

On November 10th, 2012, there was (yet another) prison riot in the news. 27 inmates were killed in Sri Lanka during a clash between inmates, security, military, and police ‘commandos’.

It is absolutely fascinating when Western media discusses events like this, violent events that take place in another country, because, without fail, they do not give any sort of cultural context. This is not in the United States. Or Canada. Or even Britain, France, or Australia. This is Sri Lanka, a country that I – and, I would argue, most of the Globe and Mail audience – know next to nothing about.

Why does it matter? Because most Canadians assume that there is an obvious dichotomy where prisons are concerned (…citation needed?). The inmates are bad, the police/military/security/corrections officers are good, and therefore any clash between the two is a simple, objective story of good vs. evil with a variety of results.

Reading about this event (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/27-inmates-killed-after-sri-lankan-prison-riot/article5181194/) just made me wish I knew more about Sri Lanka. What kind of laws put these people in this prison? What is corruption like in this country? What is the gang situation like here? And how long have these people been incarcerated?

This reminded me of a really intriguing assignment my classmates and I were given last year, which asked us to ‘(Un)Make the News’. As I’m interested in prisons, I chose to unmake a recent prison riot I’d seen on the news – and what I found about the framing of news pieces themselves really opened my eyes.

And this is after six years of criminology – will I ever stop being surprised to find to what extent our ‘reality’ is constructed by the media?

The Story as Western Media Tells It

In the early hours of Sunday, February 19, 2012, members of a Mexican drug cartel known as the Zetas instigated a riot in Apodaca correctional state facility in Apodaca, Mexico. According to various news sources at the time, at least nine guards working in Apodaca prison aided the Zetas in escaping their prison cells, and confessed to doing so during the investigation of the riot. This investigation found that the Zetas staged the prison riot as a distraction in order to facilitate an escape attempt. The Zetas were released from their cells and “slaughtered 44 rival inmates”, who were members of the Gulf cartel. Thirty Zetas managed to escape the prison compound and “are still at large” at the time of reporting.

From this point, the story as it is related by news media began to focus on the weaknesses of the Mexican criminal justice system, overcrowding as a fatal issue in Mexican and/or Latin American prisons, corruption in this system, and the failing drug war in Mexico spearheaded by President Felipe Calderon.

Meaning?

While the story described above may be the ‘facts’ of the prison riot as they can be understood from a variety of news sources, the actual generation of the meanings of these representations mean much more for the cultures they are generated within than the cold facts of a news story.

I won’t get into the nuances that my 14 page paper gets into – although I would love to talk about it with anyone who has an interest. In short, the language of Western media repeatedly refers to overcrowding as an issue in these ‘violent’ and practically lawless countries, while drawing comparisons and parallels that make no sense – for example, one newspaper cites 350 killed soon before in a prison fire in Honduras as proof that violence in these countries is essentially rampant.

This prison fire, like most of the riots discussed, was linked to “harsh overcrowding”. This harsh overcrowding is talked about like a distant thing, a problem of these far away, ‘uncivilized’ countries – never mind that Canada has a painfully high rate of overcrowding, and some states in the U.S.A. may be comparable to Mexican prisons in this effect. No, it has to be a foreign issue of these less developed countries.

Of course, the articles focus on the dirty details of the Apodaca prison riot: how many people were killed. How many days were spent in lockdown. The gangs responsible. The corruption. The overcrowding. The problems Latin America is facing that are so unique to prisons in these specific countries (but not really).

This photograph was displayed prominently on one such article, written by Archibold and posted to the New York Times in February of 2012:

Image

This photo shows prison guards attempting to hold off family members which, I would argue, appear to be violent themselves in this photo (although the guards don’t look like sweethearts either).

Interestingly, the related Canadian article published on CBC.ca is written and published by a Canadian company and has a distinctly different approach than that taken by Archibold of the New York Times.

This article refrains from blaming the entire country, or Latin America as a whole, for the violence and death as the New York Times article seemed to do. Again, there is a great deal of really fun – from a media analysis perspective – things going on in these articles. One of the greatest differences between the CBC article (actually from the Associated Press) and the New York Times article is that, while the American article chose to picture angry, frightening-looking family members fighting for entrance into the prison, this is what the CBC headlined their story with:

ImageSource: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/02/19/mexico-prison-riot.html

These photos were taken by the same photographer, and are used by different newspapers – in different countries – to discuss the same event.

Fascinating.

My point?

Sadly, you can’t believe everything you read in the news – not if you want to know the truth. While the notion of ‘truth’ is intangible and abstract for some, I personally prefer not to have that nebulous concept filtered through a newspaper that carefully chooses its photographs to achieve a certain effect.

After scouring the internet for translated Mexican news of some sort that covered this riot, I eventually found the story as it was described by local media: a story of uncertainty, of potential tragedy, as families waited outside of the gates for days on end waiting to hear who had died, who had lived. Was their father, son, brother, lover, cousin one of the dead? This slice of humanity – completely ignored by American media and touched on with one photo and a paragraph in Canadian media – captured the local people until this crisis ended.

So what really happened in Apodaca? What really happened in Sri Lanka?

It depends on who you ask.

Online Identity

I have a lot of thoughts rattling around in my brain tonight (this morning? It’s after 4am!). It’s really appropriate to bring them here, considering what blogging is really all about!

I am struggling with the degree to which I base my identity around my online identity, persona, whatever you want to call it. For me, I am mostly talking about my Facebook profile, although for others that probably extends easily to Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, WordPress, etc.

I started using Facebook in 2006. Six years ago I was not the person I am today, although I have some love for that girl – after all, she is who I used to be! Since the introduction of Timeline, I’ve had to (read: chose to) be faced with my past in all of its glory.

The immaturity of a first-year university student, having brutal fights with best friends right where the world can see them. My too-varied romantic life, in code – posts from flames, boyfriends, lovers that effectively map out when I dated who (to me, and occasionally obviously enough for others to figure out). The pains of a thought-she-was bipolar, isolated, alienated girl who took a while to get strong enough to stop crying for help in Facebook statuses.

Now, you may have heard the rumour about Facebook posting your private messages to your Timeline for the years 2007-2009 (approximately). Even though Facebook is flatly denying this (http://www.zdnet.com/facebook-private-message-issue-raises-more-concerns-over-privacy-7000005287/), it looks like it has happened to me. Just like when it first shifted over, I’ve spent over an hour tonight scrolling through these messages. And as I have done this before, recently, it was immediately evident to me that more messages are visible than were before.

I’m not going to lie, I was looking for something specific. In 2007, I had a boyfriend that cheated on me – horribly, repeatedly, and in a predictably manipulative fashion. In fact, the girl ‘on the side’ engaged in friendly and earnest Facebook PM communication with me to reassure me that nothing of the sort was happening – of course, this was not the first time we’d broken up due to cheating with the same girl (remember the part above, when I said how silly and sad early-Facebook-me was?). This eventual crisis served as my first emotional trauma, sent me into counselling, helped me develop a serious trust complex, and formed how I dealt with relationships for years afterward.

I couldn’t find those messages. Why did I want to see them? Who knows. Morbid curiosity. I did see phone numbers and addresses posted by friends, so I am fairly certain I got hit by this mysterious glitch. I also saw a lot of other messages that hurt: friends I have fallen out with, a boyfriend who seemed so nice and turned out to be a monster, and the exploits of the person I used to be.

I do not want this accessible to others. I don’t want to be associated with this person, this girl, this said pre-woman who so badly needed attention (or thought she did, at least). But I don’t want to forget her. I don’t want to kill her. I only want her to be private.

I am considering starting from scratch – I have a new email and could easily deactivate my Facebook, add the important people back, and start again. The thoughts that started going through my head after that idea are panicked in tone, and so astoundingly superficial. What about all of the photos I am tagged in? Those prove to people that I have had a life, and friends, even if I don’t have much of either right now. What about all of the comments on my profile pictures? They prove to the world that sometimes people think I’m pretty! What about the carefully constructed, mature (I think now, let’s see in six years), critical statuses and notes I’ve posted, in part to construct a specific image of myself in the friends and frenemies who frequent my online world?

Whatever is a girl to do when so much of her identity is out of her control?

Back again…

Well, hello there again, blogosphere!

My blogging experiment fell apart a bit – but here I am again! I love to write. Why did I stop? Maybe my thoughts weren’t coherent enough.

The last six weeks have been insane. There are so many things I want to talk about – hash out for myself, and perhaps for any readers (now or later) that come along and have input – but I haven’t yet figured out how to do that while maintaining the anonymity and confidentiality expected of me. To start, maybe I’ll just sum up what I’m doing.

In general, I’m in the beginning stages of writing my Master’s thesis on the clients of sex workers. I initially intended to write about clients (for lack of a better word) and their experiences with stigma. What is it like doing something that so many people revile? How do they deal with not being ‘caught’ by family members, friends, law enforcement? Do they think they’re doing something ‘wrong’?

Of course, these are totally leading questions. I struggled a lot with my own bias here, because I know that I am assuming that clients feel stigma, that they are aware of and internalize society’s rejection of the sex trade. On top of that, though, I made the problematic assumption that society is actually hostile toward the sex trade. From so many things (i.e. laws, policies, newspapers) I have read, I believed this to be the case. I honestly thought that it would be difficult being a client in Southwestern Ontario in the twenty-first century.

Turns out… it might not be.

This was a great example of something I have been told before, but not really seen in action like this: perspective is crucial. Maybe the media I am exposed to and the policy developments I am aware of makes me feel as if society as a whole is against the sex trade. But what about people who are exposed to an entirely different slice of media? Different individuals who they interact with each day? A different focus (or lack of focus) on legal developments in Canada?

Caveat: my interpretation of the  interviews I conducted is subjective. My sample is absolutely not representative. There is no way to guarantee the accuracy of the stories, feelings, etc. the participants shared with me. From seeing other things written on the online board that I recruited from, I’m sure that some feel stigmatized. The clients who feel very stigmatized may logically be less likely to want to have anything to do with me, a stranger, in-person interviews, and a published paper.

Still… it has been incredible. Fascinating. My eyes have been opened so wide it’s a miracle I still have eyelids – and everything I have learned has shown me how little I know.

How often did I hear “no, I’m not doing anything wrong”? Or “it isn’t really illegal anyways” (which is true)? Or “no, I don’t tell my friends or family, but I don’t really tell them about my sex life anyways”?

It was fun to have a bias shattered so neatly. The rest of what I’ve had to deal with, academically, has been just as fun. What I have had to deal with personally has not been so fun. I’m good now, after 14 interviews (and perhaps at the end of interviews… we’ll see). Transcribing is going to be great, though… I get to relive it all over again, at 60% speed!

 

Issues?

  • My identity as a sexual woman talking to men about sexualized women
  • Hearing women discussed as a commodity – but a treasured and (dubiously) ‘respected’ commodity
  • Being in a long-term relationship and empathizing with men who explain infidelity in very logical terms
  • Trying to force my own bias out of this, or at least know what it is when it comes into play

 

I want to write about these soon. Not now. Now it’s time to transcribe!

 
But if you have any thoughts on these issues, this topic, men who buy sex, anything of the sort… please feel free to share it with me. 🙂

Yours,

Z

 

Punishment.

Should the purpose of the criminal justice system really be punishment?

Is it not?

What is the PURPOSE of punishment?

How does punishment differ from retribution? And is retribution any different than vengeance? Is it appropriate for a government to take vengeance upon the lawbreakers of society? All of them? Some of them? None?

I think that the Canadian (and American) criminal justice system(s) are heavily reliant on punitive and retributive ideology that does not stand up to scrutiny. However, I have only been looking at this since I have been involved in criminology, and that makes me fairly biased, as my field considers crime and justice essentially the most important societal focus. I wish I could understand how the general public thinks. When you don’t think about crime, justice, punishment, and prisons every day, how does that make punishment more logical? What is going on in my country that we allow – ENCOURAGE – this type of ideology?

Is punishment harmful? Can vengeance hurt?

Can either be useful? Do they serve a practical purpose?

What do you think?

The Elusive Teacher of Quebecois French!

Sometimes it’s just so hard to focus, isn’t it?

I have a few things on my plate right now, and they are (predictably) much more attractive to deal with than this presentation I should be concocting.

First question for any readers out there: How the hell do you learn Quebecois French when you aren’t in high school?!

I’m interested in doing a PhD at a school that requires you to pass passively in French at the end of the four year program. I want to work in Ottawa and/or in government, both of which essentially require French. Almost every plan of mine requires that I learn French.

Learning Parisian French would be just embarrassing, but the majority of tutors and self-learning programs/books teach Parisian French. Yes, tutors in Ontario teach Parisian French. Random and weird, I know.

So, what do I do? This dilemma is way more fun than working on my presentation…. although my topic is getting a bit more fun.