Make the silent heard and the invisible seen.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Harper steps up attacks on HIV/AIDS solutions while preaching "unity of purpose"

Vaccine facility mystery deeps by the day
Silence from Quebec ramps up rumour mill
There comes a point, and that point is now, when rumours can be accepted as fact. There is no mystery. Advancing HIV/AIDS awareness, education, prevention, treatment and now hope for a vaccine is not part of the PM's conservative idea of a caring social agenda.

Since becoming Prime Minister, Stephen Harper has tried to shut, by every means possible, the door of Insite, Vancouver's globally lauded safe injection facility for drug addicts in the Downtown Eastside. If successful, and he won't be because the law is against him, the closure of Insite would have negative and devasting implications to the spread of HIV.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I march, therefore I am. We post: we are

If you're wondering why Stephen Harper didn't jump to Jack Layton's rather lame call to "unlock these doors" of parliament, it's very simple. Firstly, the Prime Minister of Canada isn't like a church custodian with a key-ring. More importantly, nobody was arrested. Note that I wrote arrested not interested.

That's the answer. Nobody was dragged off by police in handcuffs. Not one, not nearly enough to grab the Prime Minister's attention.

On Saturday (1/23/10), my friend and colleague with The Globe and Mail British Columbia bureau, the ever-musing Rod Mickleburgh and I were texting - as I marched and tweeted, and he did whatever it was he was doing. We agreed that demonstrations just aren't what they used to be. And they used to be something.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Today in the land of right-wing neo-con evangelical geezers

The day (01-13-10) began with a headline in The Globe and Mail reporting on crackpot criticism from an odd assortment of interest groups, other than filmgoers, towards James Cameron's blockbuster Avatar. One denouncement came from the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano. Its film reviewer complained the movie's story about the planet Pandora - where its tall, blue, nature-loving Na'vi species is set-upon by resource-marauding humans:
“gets bogged down by a spiritualism linked to the worship of nature... (and) cleverly winks at all those pseudo-doctrines that turn ecology into the religion of the millennium.”
As a student with a major in Religious Studies, I would argue that an environmental "pseudo-doctrine" is better suited to today's planet-in-peril than one that is interpreted by an out-of-touch Pope who, the day before, called gay marriage an "attack on creation." Well, your Holiness, fundamental Catholic creationism is an attack on reason and common sense.

The day ended with alarming nonsense from a pair of notorious US blowhards weighing-in with deplorable comments on Haiti's heartbreak. Evanglical Pat Robertson teamed-up with right-wing radio heavyweight Rush Limbaugh to show how conservative-Christian morality stands in shocking contrast to the respect and thoughtfulness of the liberal-minded. According to Robertson, the Christian mouthpiece, and Limbaugh, the Republican loud-mouth, light-skinned and dark-skinned Haitians made a deal with the Devil.

What is more devilish is that evangelicals and Catholics, alike, are among the Christian missionaries who volunteer for aid agencies in impoverished countries, like Haiti. When disaster strikes, wealthier nation governments, such as Canada, through branches such as the Canadian International Development Agency, channel emergency aid through these faith-based NGOs so they can buy poor, uneducated converts for their fundamentalist religious agenda.

See you in church.

Stephen Harper's economic panic attack

Yesterday (01/11/10), Prime Minister Stephen Harper declared himself Canada's economic saviour, telling BNN that by proroguing parliament, he brings stabiliy to the financial markets. By day's end, slumping commodity prices, not Mr. Harper's preposterous claim, drove the S&P/TSX composite index to its first triple-digit loss of the new year and the dollar fell half-a-cent.

Today, the PM and his finance minister are being lectured by Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin page on Canada's structural deficit, saying the government hasn't produced any analysis showing the country's deficit is not "permanent and it won't go away."

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Prorogation upside, downside

Dismissing, for a moment, the reprief we get from minding the kids in this minority parliament sandbox, if there is a silver lining, it is that the government's right-wing justice reform agenda has been put on hold.

The 11 justice bills (for legislation progress chart: click here) that died on the table have "a strong American flavour, and in which the human and financial costs remain hidden,” deal with the Conservative's "tough on crime agenda."

Prorogation breaks the impasse that began building between the government and the Senate (soon-to-be-resolved when the red chamber goes Toy blue after Mr. Harper announces his senate appointments) over two bills and sends others, including controversial sentencing legislation, back to square one.

Liberal senators had insisted on amending Bill C-15 - the government's "reefer madness" marijuana sentencing bill. The upper house also insisted on amending a bill to shield home-business operators from sweeping search-and-seizure provisions.

The government was unlikely to accept the Senate amendments, setting up a cycle between the Commons and Senate bouncing eh bills back and forth.

But prorogation means those amendments cease to exist and both bills will head back before the Stephen Harper-appointed Conservative-controlled non-elected Senate.

Stephen Harper's right-wing social agenda is to mount a direct attack on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Mr. Harper declared prior to prorogation that a vote on an omnibus crime bill was a vote of confidence. Last election, the last triggered by his last prorogation, Jusctice Minister Rob Nicholson, warned that the "anti-crime measures [are] subject to a vote of confidence." The Conservative attack on civil liberaties will be unrelenting until Mr. Harper is defeated.
You should read: click here

Monday, January 4, 2010

Do you have anything to declare?

US HIV travel ban lifted today

The ban on HIV-positive people entering the US officially ends today. The 22-year-old law was one of the most restrictive immigration policies in the world for people with HIV but was lifted by President Barack Obama in November.

As the first Canadian TV personality to publicly acknowledge my HIV status and being active in HIV/AIDS awareness, I was never denied entry to the US while so many others were. I often wondered why? Perhaps my file was never red-flagged by US authorities. Perhaps it was profiling. Over the last two decades I crossed the border countless times with my medications for gay journalism conferences, holidays, baseball games, and work.

The ban was brought in by Ronald Reagan, the President who never let the word AIDS cross his lips. Liberal and Conservative governments never made it a bi-lateral human rights issue because the US and Canada seem blind to such abuses existing in our friendship of democracy. They do (i.e. Marc Emery).

The fact that a ban on travel to the US has been lifted - symbolic, in part, to host to 2012 International AIDS Conference - pales against Prime Minister Stephen Harper's cold-shoulder in not attending the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto*, his government's court case against Vancouver's Insite and inability to talk thoughtfully about HIV/AIDS in Canada today: on the streets of the Downtown Eastside, in aboriginal communities and to gay youth.

Now, when asked if we have anything to declare when entering the US, every HIV-positive Canadian should loudly declare, "YES! I have HIV!"

* Just before the 11th conference in Vancouver (1996) Jean Chretien announced he had an important fishing vacation that would prevent him from opening the conference.