Category Archives: Questions for Mr. Harper

Michael Enright on Syrian Refugees

This spoken essay by Michael Enright was worth listening nine months ago when it first aired and is worth listening to again now that Canada has en mass finally woken up to the reality that we’re in the midst of a refugee crisis. If you missed it the first time around, here’s another chance. Be sure to listen to the end to catch his absolutely brilliant conclusion.

I mostly want you to listen to the essay (it will take only four minutes of your time). But there are two points of commentary I feel compelled to add.

  1. Essays such as this give lie to one of the current Conservative narratives: that Canada’s pathetic response to the refugee crisis is due to the media’s failure to raise awareness among Canadians and not at all the fault of the government. The media (particularly the underfunded public media) was there; the government was not. Seventeen months ago, when As It Happens was doing a week long feature on the Syrian refugee crisis, it was Chris Alexander’s office that did not even respond to a request for an interview. When he did appear on the program some weeks later he was not able to say how many Syrian refugees had made it to Canada, nor did he voice a willingness to expand Canada’s commitment beyond taking in 1300 refugees; he stuck to partisan talking points instead. It’s worth noting further that Alexander’s assertion that the media was required so that organizations would be willing to sponsor refugees rang hollow in the face of the fact that many such organizations, after raising large sums of cash and filing onerous paperwork to sponsor refugees, would sometimes wait years before receiving a response that would allow them to merely continue the arduous, bureaucratic process. Humanitarian organizations, including churches and mosques, were there; this government was not. Fund the department (this government hates giving adequate funding to government agencies); cut red-tape; introduce extra-ordinary measure; accept responsibility. The fact that Canada has done it before means that it can be done, and could have been done years ago.
  2. For any who have had no or only limited exposure to Michael Enright, consider this an encouragement to listen to much, much more. Truly one of Canada’s greatest national treasures.

And don’t forget to listen to his essay.

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The Trouble with Normal

As Canada expands its military activity into Syria, I can’t help but conclude that Mr. Harper has not been performing his Canadian duty of listening to Bruce Cockburn. As was the case for Bruce more than 30 years ago, I can’t help but be astounded that the “logical” course to correcting a terrible situation is to continue on with actions that produced that situation in the first place. The logical course may preserve normality, but such normality really does only get worse.

Here are the lyrics. Continue reading The Trouble with Normal

Making something when I’m angry: Harper, I’m angry with you.

I guess I’ve “known” it for a while but not really known it – making things when I am really sad and angry is a way to come out of that (usually) paralyzing space. Crunk Feminist Collective recently posted something that encouraged me to do something the next time I enter into that sad and angry place. A few days ago I was sitting in a small cafe when I read the CBC news that my prime minister wanted to send military warcraft into Iraq. I sat there, tears streaming down my face, with a reel of pictures going through my mind: pictures of women asking for food, for medical supplies, books, asking for anything but war planes. So I went home and made this picture.

October 7th, Canada decides to send military planes and personnel into Iraq. BOOOOOO
October 7th, Canada decides to send military planes and personnel into Iraq. BOOOOOO

I don’t want to spend too much time and effort learning the contours of Harper’s face (there are better faces to learn to draw), but you get the general sense?