Horwath is spot on. Brown’s leadership is up to his caucus and they, who know him, won’t have him. That speaks volumes.
According to the news trickling out, Brown’s reputation for preying on young women is well-known, and reporters have been trying to piece together leads for a long time. This is not as sudden as the apologists and conspiracy nuts would like everyone to believe. And we need to remember there is never an upside for women who come forward. Never. Which is why women don’t make accusations public lightly because they are victimized for doing so.

The inspiration for allegations these days is Me Too and Time’s Up. Women see positive responses and real action being taken and they feel more secure. They know more and more people are going to finally believe and support them.

Whether women come forward the day before an election, or two years before one, isn’t the point or the problem. Our political system is rife with systemic issues of sexual harassment and assault, and it’s time for a close examination of who our parties are presenting as candidates when some of them come with baggage of barely concealed patterns of abuse of power.

 
And it’s disgusting when the default for some is still “women are liars”. Brown’s own right hand people quit. Just quit. His party tossed him within hours. Does anyone think there’s nothing to the allegations when that’s the response? Who skips carefree away from a leader they chose to follow? Thought was the answer to whatever the problems were. Who does that? No one.
 
Contrast the Ontario PCs with the Alberta UCP’s now. Their response to Jason Nixon, leader Jason Kenney’s top lieutenant in the legislative, is informative in the Me Too era. Nixon fired a woman in his company back in 2005 when she reported being sexually harassed. A claim that has been proven valid. The UCP? Crickets mostly until they trotted out the “he was young” and the “times have changed and he certainly wouldn’t respond like that today”.

Of course he wouldn’t but most likely because he couldn’t get away with it, and that’s just depressing. Doing the right thing because not doing isn’t a viable option is not an inspiration.

VOTE FOR ME BECAUSE I DO THE RIGHT THING WHEN I KNOW I WILL GET CAUGHT IF I DON’T

For too long that has been one of the foundation stones of politics. These bad actors hide in plain sight in our parties and in our governments. The bar couldn’t be lower.

Me too is not just something Americans struggle with. It’s coming for Alberta. Sooner than later. Just watch.


On Saturday, January 20th, women marched. Again. With them were men and children, friends, neighbors, coworkers, strangers. People with whom they agreed on varied issues, and people they didn’t agree with so very much.

Women all over North America planned and organized marches and rallies that drew millions in total.

But not everyone saw the point.

 

There is a lot to unpack in those few sentences, and between their lines, but we’ll stick to the words.

In the United States, unlike Canada, women are not specifically included in the Constitution or The Bill of Rights. An attempt was made to add women as women rather than “all men” back in the 1970’s, but anti-feminists successfully fought that in a lengthy state by state battle, and it’s not been revisited since.

Women’s rights in the US are largely a series of court rulings, between the line readings of the Constitution, and individual pieces of legislation that are only as good as those willing to enforce them. They exist on paper but could disappear with the stroke of a pen.

Men and women have always had the same right to rights, but the reality is that women’s access is fairly new and not everyone is keen about that.

The election of an openly sexist man to the Presidency of the United States, the most powerful nation in the world, was a wake up call. Complacency, which should never have been an option, cannot be a comfy corner of denial any longer.

And women marched. It was a rallying point. One that has launched more women than ever into politics and activism.

There isn’t a single purpose because women’s lives are made up of more than single issues, but there is an overarching theme. Time’s up.

Time is up on sexism in the workplace, education, religions and their institutions. No more hiding behind reasons that never made any sense or had much validity in the first place.

Time is up on misogyny. The casual violence of words used to silence, defame and wound. The physical violence that is still too often dismissed or ignored. The use of sex as a weapon to demean, instill fear, and dominate.

Time is up on the exclusion from politics and governance via systemic sexism which everyone can plainly see, but even in 2018, we still accept for reasons that have no validity if we really do believe that men and women have the same rights.

It takes fire in the belly to organize a march once, but doing it a second time requires clarity. Acknowledging that a year has gone by with successes and failures and with still much to be done. Being able to create an atmosphere that allows anyone who wants to participate the space to do so.

Organizers and marchers, by the millions, all across the continent showed up, marched, spoke, connected and became for a moment in time peaceful communities. They acknowledged each other and the importance of the many aspects of democracy and community activism they’d been involved in since the last march. To insinuate this lacked clarity is a bit of an insult.

But I understand where that impulse to dismiss comes from because once upon a time, I shared a disdain for the need to be a feminist. I wouldn’t call myself one. I played that silly word game of “I believe everyone is equal, but I’m not a feminist”. Except I was.

I can think of dozens of examples in grade school alone where I all but stood atop a desk and declared war on Sr. Walter Marie’s attempts to make a “proper lady” of me. I could never have been other than a feminist.

But as a young woman, all I could see was the hard work of being a feminist compared to the seemingly more cushy existence of not, and it wasn’t until I was out working on a career and running into roadblocks that my male peers weren’t that it dawned on me that feminism was just this. It was the blatant unfairness of being passed over for jobs that I was the most qualified for in favor of a male colleague who golfed with the principal or coached the football team of a superintendent’s son. There were too many boys’ clubs in too many aspects of life and being the most accomplished or hardest worker was never going to grow me the penis I needed for entry.

Privilege, and I never forget that I have a lot of it these days, makes agnostics of many. The need to believe and fight isn’t so much when bias and bigotry don’t affect your existence all that often. And so many girls are still brought up as objects rather than individuals with dreams and talents of their own that the acceptance of everyday sexism has to reach deafening levels to break through that training.

It’s hard to understand, but there are women who preferred the old way because they believed it benefited them more, and they were willing to make the compromises and personal sacrifices to play along with that game. There are still women who are fine with it and would like to turn back the clock regardless of how that affects other women.

In North America, we like to say that we all have the same rights. We are all equal in the eyes of the law. We all have the same opportunities. Even though we know this isn’t always true because of bigotry and bias, we are mostly united in the belief that we are striving towards that and making good progress.

The Women’s March was born out of the angry realization that we’d erred in our belief that good progress was good enough.

Women’s March of 2018 was clearly stating that we know there is more to do, and we are still committed to doing it.


With the exception of kindergarten and my undergrad years, I attended Catholic schools my entire life. Religion. Religion. Religion. Even in university, I fulfilled my humanities requirements with religion classes. As a result, I am pretty well grounded in the ideas that motivate a lot of conservatives.

In the Canadian province where I live, the government turned over from 40 plus years of conservative rule to a social democratic government a few years ago. One would have thought – given the wailing and gnashing of teeth – that end times were upon us. The concern came from a somewhat genuine place as the province was sliding rapidly into an economic downturn that pounded the province financially and conservatives, being who they are, never feel safe even in good times with “lefties” at the wheel, so the angst was raging at eleven most of those early days.

But, the new provincial government went with the tested and true method of taking on some debt and not drastically cutting anything and now, nearly three years on, things are really looking up.

Looking up is never a good thing for conservative parties who are out of power. They don’t have much to offer citizens in good times. So, they fall back on what they do best – social issues. And understand, when I say “do best”, I don’t mean they are offering great ideas. I mean they are incredibly efficient at stirring up bitterness, bigotry and outrage because say what you will, those things absolutely work with the disenfranchised, ill-formed and people who get all their talking points from a pulpit.

Where I come from in the US Midwest, and was a teacher for many years, curriculum updates are normal and slightly boring for non-educational wonks. They are undertaken at regular intervals to little fanfare.

Here, they are seen in the farther reaches of conservative-land as communist agendas made flesh. Zombie flesh that will devour the souls of good little future conservatives by distorting the cold hard facts of life with unicorns, rainbows and puppies. Children who might have entered a solid trade are rendered useless university students by a social studies curriculum that doesn’t spend significant man hours on Bahamian British troops sacking the White House during the War of 1812 or the importance of Canadian soldiers being used by the British as cannon fodder at Paschendale. Important factoids, don’t misunderstand, but less important than children understanding that we live on treaty land, our obligations as a society and how our parliamentarian system works and what our Charter Rights actually are and how they differentiate us from our southern neighbor.

The feeling among the “concerned” conservatives is that the provincial government is using the curriculum update to instill thoughts and feelings in students that will keep them from voting conservative as adults. It’s brainwashing for future votes.

I attended a school system where “brainwashing” was a primary mandate. In theory, I should be a Catholic rather than an atheist and militant feminist, so anecdotally, I roll my eyes a bit. Even my school mates who still consider themselves Catholic are cafeteria at best. Having gone to  agenda laden Catholic grade school and high school, I am super dubious about the brainwashing potential of social studies or science.

When I look back, I can pinpoint the moment I began to doubt and my usefulness as a future member of the Women’s Conservative Auxillary probably ended. It was grade two. I announced I wanted to be a priest. I was told, “But you’re just a girl, so you can’t.”

The beginning of the end.

We like to believe children are blank slates, and what fills them up is what we actively write on them, but that isn’t true.

My Dad sent me to a Catholic school because he wanted me to be a conservative really. Like he was. But if he’d truly wanted that, he’d have lived a conservative life and been more aware that he really wasn’t as conservative as he thought he was and with his own upbringing, never really stood a chance at being one anyway.

Yes, he was a sexist and voted against the ERA. He was hurt by my anger when I found that out because he never  thought that his vote would impact me because he raised three daughters to be independent and able to take care of themselves. He never told us we couldn’t do things because we were girls. He expected us to do well in school. In math. He didn’t think we needed to marry and never offered his opinion on our dating or living arrangements. He thought in his Depression Era influenced way that this was enough.

He taught me the basics of politics during the Watergate crisis, and when I was 12 and wanted to volunteer at Jimmy Carter’s campaign headquarters in our town, he drove me there. He was proud as hell of me. When Carter won, he assured me that my volunteering had mattered in that win.

Dad was a democratic socialist by actions. He believed we had a duty to our communities via taxes and volunteering. He helped found the first credit union in our city. He was on the board of directors for 40 years, and I remember going along with him when he went to talk with people who’d fallen behind on their loan payments. He was helpful and understanding. His family was wiped out during the tulmultous years leading up to the Depression. His baby sister died in childbirth because they couldn’t afford a hospital birth and they grew up shuffling from one relatives farm to another. Charity cases. He understood being that poor, and what a credit union represented to people and could do for them.

He sent me to a Catholic school believing that it would teach me to be a Christ like person and conservative. In school I heard one thing and watched the nuns and priests be something else.

And all the while I had a front-row seat for hypocrisy in school, I had a Dad who volunteered for church groups, pray lines, tutoring at the alternative high school, Meals on Wheels, read the newspaper from front to back to stay informed and modeled a commitment to casting his ballot in every election long after he stopped believing in partisan politics because he believed his vote could add up with others and matter. Not every time but enough times to make a difference over the long haul.

If a person is worried that their child might not grow up to think, behave or vote in ways they’d prefer they didn’t, it’s not the schools they showed be worried about.

Dad could never figure out why I wasn’t conservative  but of course I wasn’t because he didn’t raise me to be.

Schools don’t raise children. Parents do.


2017 arrived on a sleigh of smoking turds pulled by the four horseman of biblical fame, and still, we made it to 2018. Don’t ask me how. Last year was a blur. The world reeled, staggering from one shallow foxhole to the next with the various status quo in flames all around.

It reminded me of my favorite scene from that stink bomb of a psycho-drama The Birds.

Crows have just attacked the school, and the adults are huddled in a bar (kinda fitting) discussing a complete and terrifying turn of the table by Mother Nature (well played by the way) as though there was something rational to be found, if they just used their indoor voices, with town drunk – the only rational voice in the room – punctuating the discussion with occasional “It’s the end of the world”.

Is it though? Really? The end of the world.

Probably more reasonable to take our cultural reference cue from REM. It’s the end of the world … as we know it.

Because that happens throughout history, and if we are really ready to be honest, it’s happened more than once in living memory.

Someone on Twitter today had a list of all things that didn’t exist in 2003. On that list was pretty much the entirety of the internet as we use it today. Certainly most of our communication devices. The way we interact socially has been completely altered by social media.

Generation Zed knows nothing about an existence before hand held devices. They’ve literally been born and grown along with them. Our world is basically a teenager entering the end stages of puberty. And that, explains a lot.

So it makes sense that a political and economic world that our great-grandparents would still recognize and feel comfortable with simply can’t adapt. Things are giving way. It’s not like there are other options.

And okay, I will grant that the nuclear code rattling by America and North Korea could maybe sort of bring about an Armageddonish crisis, but I am going to throw caution to the wind and bet on us still being here in a year. What I will not claim is that the world will have settled down much. The current version of Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it won’t transform itself in a couple of years anymore than the last Rome did. Change takes time even when it feels like the exact opposite.

Happy New Year then. Congratulate yourself if you aren’t a Nazi or one of their enablers, yet, and remind yourself that whatever is coming, you are not the only one going through it. Look around your neighborhood, workplace, gym, school, community and find those like-minded, who are out there, and connect a bit more than you currently are. There is safety in numbers, but also laughs, joys and fiendish plots to thwart those bags of dicks who thrive in the chaos of change.

Bring it 2018. If the world could survive 2017, it’s ready for you.


I’ve been watching soap operas on and off for nearly the length of my life. Some of my earliest memories are of me hiding behind the sofa – instead of napping – while Mom folded laundry and watched As The World Turns.

Since leaving the US, I haven’t watched soaps much, and most of those I have caught up with now and again are long gone anyway. Occasionally though I catch a glimpse on YouTube, and sometimes, it’s intriguing enough for me to watch for a little while. I like seeing the grown up versions of characters who were infants or toddlers on shows I was watching while I was in high school or university. It’s like catching up with old neighbors, classmates, or the people you worked those crappy service work jobs with when you were in school.

Recently, a show I was addicted to when I was in high school had a character come back from the dead. I love that about soap operas. No one is ever dead until the writers are ready for them to be dead, and even then – it’s still negotiable.

The character in question was little more than a plot device decades ago. The accidental offspring of an affair that evolved into a messy divorce slash murder mystery. The exact details are fuzzy, but the child was eventually packed off to boarding school not to return until he was a more useful teenager.

The actor who played this love child – turned annoying teen, who eventually morphed into a mobster –  left the show a few years back but has returned of late. The character he played had been recast but that’s never a problem in soap land.

Sometimes writers create an elaborate imposter story line to cover the plot holes, but my favorite plot device when these issues arise is the long-lost twin.

I only bring this up because of the twist. The twins in question are in love with/and/or married to and have a child each by the same woman.

That’s strangely more real life these days than when I was a teenage soap opera viewer.

And why would this interest me? Well, back in my widowed message board days, the subject of “what would you do if your dead spouse showed up alive and well on your doorstep” often came up. They don’t call it magical thinking for no reason.

As I’ve caught this and that YouTube episode, I have noted the fans responding to the dilemma faced by the widow/wife, who finds herself with a not-so-dead husband and married to a man she’s just discovered is his long-lost twin. And nearly every single comment was “well, why doesn’t she just admit that she loves not-dead husband and go back to him? They are soul-mates, dammit!”

I’ll save my disdain for soul-mates for another day, but my reaction has been to chuckle and hold fingers back from the keyboard.

I know exactly why the writers leave her with her now husband.

Time travel isn’t a thing.

We live in a forward trajectory. All of us. Though I know everyone can think of at least one person they know who seems frozen in the past that’s simply not how life works.

Once a moment is lived, it’s past. It’s a memory. Memories can capture and hold us like Narcissus’s reflection held him, but they can’t be lived again or even recreated.

My first husband has been physically dead for almost a dozen years. A side effect of his illness caused him to develop dementia early on, and so my reality is that I lost him three years before he died.

It’s been so long ago that I can’t clearly remember his voice, laugh, or conversations that we had before he got sick. All that’s left are some plans that never left the drawing board and a tiny tot who is nearly out of high school now, and who he never had a chance to parent at all anyway.

If he were to show up on my doorstep would I even let him in is the better question. But trade ten years of marriage? A life that I love so much every other time of my life comes in a distant third to it. Swap the present for a past?

No.

No one would. And if they would, they might want to ask themselves, why aren’t they actively searching for a better life already? Because that’s the only time people look backward longingly, when they aren’t happy right now.

I do understand the appeal of stories like these. Humans are such “what if” creatures. As Yoda said, never our minds on where we are or what we are doing. Grounding ourselves more in what’s going on around us is really how happiness and contentment are found. I think Buddha said something to that effect too or maybe it was Jesus. My Catholic school and yoga training really do overlap sometimes.

But I do love me some back from the dead to find his long-lost twin was brainwashed and living his life. Corny 1980’s soap drama never goes out of style. Just like people’s wrong-headed notions about love it seems. Not completely.


Looming year’s end inspires journalists and politicians alike to sit down and spin a bit.

Rick Bell of the Edmonton Sun and Jason Kenney, the newly minted MLA from Calgary-Lougheed and leader of the fledgling United Conservative Party had one of those new year chats lately and, per tradition, it wasn’t terribly enlightening.

The main topic wasn’t even as surprising as it was just sad.

Of course, I am talking about bozos.

Yes, in Canada, politicians and pundits spend a good deal of time pondering the existence and continuing national nightmare of the bozo candidate, who more often than they should, become elected officials.

It’s a serious enough issue that I factor it in when contemplating who I want to see wind up as Premier or Prime Minister because, in my opinion, a leader’s ability or not to manage their benches directly correlates to how often I will have to judge them harshly and/or worry about the safety of my children’s future.

Faux pas nightmares walking among us is just a fact, but that others unite to give them platforms and power to cast an inky Mordorish shadow on far too many communities is a puzzlement. We should be marching and GoFunding to prevent these horrors from occurring, but as Jason Kenney admits to Bell, the onus of prevention truly falls most heavily on political parties and their leaders.

Bozos should simply never become candidates, according to Jason Kenney. It’s his new mission as UCP leader to make sure the Lake of Fire is doused.

It’s a good New Year’s resolution too because bozo’ng is almost a sport for the current crop of farther to the right than not conservatives in the Alberta legislature.

A few examples of extreme bozo’ng this year include MLAs who’ve compared social democracy to holocausts, held up murderous dictators as examples of good government and accused members of the majority holding NDP government of … eating dogs. And that’s just what they stood up and blurted out for the Hansard.

The Bozo gold medalist of 2017, an MLA who’s Libertarian views would comfortably cozy up like a fat purring cat in any southern state in America, has this year’s hat trick. He rented out his taxpayer subsidized apartment on Air BnB, was recently convicted of a hit and run in a parking lot, and topped both those incidents when game wardens caught him hunting on private property just days before being convicted of said hit and run. For all Jason’s talk about “vigorous vetting”, this guy is still in the running.

Vigorous vetting, as far as can be discerned, consists mainly of “are you fiscally conservative enough for us to overlook your numerous personal failings”? Most of the time, the answer appears to be yes.

Kenney’s current House Leader in the legislature is a good example of the lengths to which the party must go to “overlook”.

Jason Nixon, who represents Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, was discovered to have fired a female employee after she reported being sexually harassed on a job site. This only came to light during a debate on a bill that would strengthen protections for women in the workplace. Something Nixon feels is best left to businesses to decide for themselves, which in retrospect isn’t much of a surprise because as a businessman, he decided to fire a single mother of three – days before Christmas – rather than set straight the man who sexually harassed her.

As most men do these days, Nixon gave a tepid apology along the lines of “I was young. It was a different time. Of course I wouldn’t do that now because people get upset about it now, and that’s inconvenient for me. Blah. Blah. Blah.” And then he quickly entered the man poorly explaining witness protection program also known as blocking all his critics on Twitter.

Mr. Kenney’s response was to stand by his man.

So much for vetting.

Finally, it being an end of the year confab and all, it included the obligatory holiday cheer stuff. Jason’s consisted of throwing a fuel soaked yule log into the outrage flames of a conservative holiday tradition.

“The problem is people on the left think saying Merry Christmas is hateful. Those voices of crazed political correctness will not govern what is allowed.”

Ah, the war on Christmas. What would Christmas be without a war?

So, god bless us, everyone because I don’t think I need to point out that Jason’s holiday message to Albertans , as much as anything, qualifies as a Bozo moment.


Labour is still, unfortunately, divided into traditional perspectives as far as the world views relationships. There are the tasks that women perform and those that are the man’s job.

Automotive issues generally fall on the man. Putting on the snow tires, changing air filters and the oil is considered the domain of men. Although, as society moves farther and farther away from vehicles that can be easily maintained in the comfort of one’s garage (and let’s be real, a having a garage, or having one that isn’t a second basement, is drifting away from the norm too), vehicle maintenance is becoming a lost art regardless.

When I was single, I maintained my vehicles by taking it to a shop and letting a professional do the work. I drove in. I hopped out, sat in the waiting area, paid the bill and left. There was the obligatory peeks at different fluids and filters that required me to nod  but for the most part, it wasn’t really a chore and no one – that I am aware of in retrospect – was actively trying to rip me off in terms of service.

During my first marriage, I maintained my independence as far as this particular man job went because my first husband really didn’t know much at all about cars. He could change the oil and tires, which was more than I could do, but we didn’t have a garage and one of his best friends, who was a mechanic, told me on the sly early on “Don’t let him fix anything. Ask me first.” Good advice that I took.

Now husband, however, is a man job professional. I really can’t think of anything that falls under the traditional umbrella of man jobs that he can’t do. Literally.

And so, I have been lazy. Don’t judge.

For all of my life, I have taken care of myself and everyone who fell under my protection. My late husband was a terrific guy, and he had his strengths, but taking care of us wasn’t one of them. I was okay with that. I like being in charge, and I am pretty bossy, so it worked out well.

But, I admit, when the opportunity arose to hand over the tasks that I have never been fond of, I took it and didn’t look back.

Today, I took the truck in for an oil change. It was in semi-urgent need. Husband is quite busy and won’t be taking much time off over the holidays, so I thought “I’ve got this”. Which I did because I simply called up Husband on the phone and had the kid at Jiffy Lube talk to him.

Seriously, how did I ever live without instant access to everyone I know?

Whenever the need arises for me to step up for oil changes, however, I am reminded all over again that most of what I know about the truck is just how to drive it. I don’t know where anything is on the dash that I don’t have to use everyday. I know little to nothing about the various settings for lights, for instance, and I forget from one time to the next how to pop the hood open.

Jiffy Lube Kid presented this and that dipstick or spot on a card for me to judge levels or colour of this and that fluid, but I honestly couldn’t tell you if they were fine or not. They appeared to hit the proper marks and have the required clearness, so I gave a Queen Elizabeth nod, and he seemed satisfied.

I can tell the difference between an air filter that needs to be changed and one that doesn’t but fortunately, Jiffy Lube never asks me to. They simply say, “This looks fine” or “This should be changed” and I give my royal assent.

Sometimes I think maybe I should pay more attention to these man jobs like vehicles and home renovations, but those thoughts pass quickly.

There’s very little about the routine chore aspect of life that’s so complicated that it requires a whole lot of stored knowledge. If I had to – like today – I manage fine. It’s an oil change. Jiffy Lube wouldn’t get too many repeat customers if it’s regular practice was to lie to people. I don’t need to know the ins and outs of differentials, transmission leaks and air tire pressure to be able to deal with issues as they arise. A lot of the information people needed to know about home and vehicle maintenance in the days of yore stemmed from the fact that many things were not as complicated as they simply were time consuming. And disposable income was not such that people could afford to have someone else do the work for them.

For me, the important thing is that Husband and I are – mostly – doing those things that we find acceptable personally. I am disinterested in renovations beyond “are you finished yet?” and he is fine with taking on the work required to update. And while he is happy never to step foot in a grocery store, I am good with being a personal shopper. Just as an example.

But it’s a curious thing, this distribution of tasks. What’s his and what’s hers. And how easily we slide into roles. Some would say this is conditioning, and they’d be right to a point. In my opinion, personality and mutual understanding plays their parts too.

I imagine Jiffy Lube Guy runs into people like me – barely interested in or aware of what is going on in their vehicles as long as they are running – all day long. Women and men.