Canada Of Men and Women and War and Peace and Politics and Governance
How can women's voices be heard in Canadian governance?
Canadians don't have a past where women's collective voices had public credibility at all, let alone as the final level of governance. In traditional Indigenous societies it is the responsibility of men ('warriors') to protect the women and children, and the earth that sustains them. No doubt our men in governance would claim the same thing today, but there is a major difference: In traditional Indigenous societies the women would identify when and have the final say in how that protection is done:
Here’s a bed time story for you….
The Cherokee Indians of North America - had a history of war and violence, they were after all neighbors of very strong warrior nations. They developed over time the wisdom to have a War Chief and a Peace Chief - Four of them - two of each, two men, two women - usually elders who had seen a thing or two but never forgot to plan down the line 7 generations (at least). When in War they planned for Peace and in times of Peace they planned for the safety of the clans. Trusting in the goodness of others they often made mistakes and put their trust in those not worthy of it, losing them their land, lives, children and almost their culture.
They live on however and those of us - the descendants of the “People” - remember the Grandmother’s Council. An association of Women who had the final input over the tribes major decisions. Never would the Chiefs dare to take action without seeking their sensitive and powerful opinions. The years before the Trail of Tears the council was not sought and the Men of our Tribe looked less to the Women of our seven clans for reflection and wisdom. They looked to their peers taking over the Great land and saw that the Men of the European World did not revere their women and keep their council. The women of this new age did not even get to vote or own property - or even have dominion over their own person.
Our Fathers wanted to be more like these new men and forget the ways of their Mothers, Grandmothers and the Great Spirit herself - who is both Father and Mother - one and the same. They began to dress in the Western fashion and to believe in the love of money and possession. They did not see the coming storm and did not teach their children to remember.
The Deer Clan sent a message to all the other clans that a great storm was coming. The messages were largely ignored and the storm did come and took the Cherokee’s children and their land and scattered the people across the land of their Grandmothers. The Mother’s remembered and fought, the fathers woke up and fought and slowly the people remember who they are and remember the Grandmother’s council.If you do not remember the Past you will relive it.
In Caledonia, hours after the OPP had brutally arrested 16 sleeping Six Nations men, women, youths and an infant, it was The Elder Grandmother of the Haudenosaunee Six Nations Confederacy who stood facing south on Argyle St. with the women behind her, facing their men who had moved in front of the barricade. Yards away, behind the women and behind the OPP line, drunks and disturbed businesspeople were yelling (or encouraging) racial slurs and taunts at the Six Nations men and women. (Children had been moved back out of earshot of the racial slurs.) Above and below the ugly din of the townspeople behind her ... a very tiny and very Elder woman with all of the women behind her, said to the Six Nations men:"You are all our sons, our brothers, husbands, grandsons. You are our men. We don't want one more of you to get hurt."Then men and women together moved away from the town, back behind the barricades, accompanied by the spirits of the seven generations before them and after them over whom they all keep watch.
Thus, are the well known powers of the warriors of Six Nations of the Grand River ... their men ... balanced by the collective and equally powerful voices of the women they protect.In Canadian society, men in governance (Let's face it. Most of them still are. And the system is.) ... have always told us that it was their job to make those decisions "for all of the people". The minimal voice of women in Canadian governance today is, in my opinion, due to the fact that our system was designed and is sustained by men for men. Women accepting the challenge of governance are harassed to adapt themselves to the world of male dominance, most commonly with asinine remarks like: "If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen! hehehe" or "You're running with the bigs dogs now, baby." In Ontario last year, three competent women MPP's did not stand for re-election following their first term of office, citing conflicts with family responsibilities. Couple that with the problem that our representatives are increasingly insulated from the demands of their constituents by the overriding demands of 'the Party', and you have a system that represents no one except those to whom the party owes allegiance - ie, those who fill their campaign coffers, usually corporate voices driven only by greed for profit for the few, taken from the rest of us. An additional problem is that Canadians have NO democratic checks and balances against any distortions or abuses of power by our elected representatives. The checks and balances, for example to keep the government from waging war on the people, are supposed to be provided by the powers of the Queen. However those powers, in the person of the Governor General, have been reduced by our elected governments to making nice speeches that have absolutely no significance at all. Indeed, asked to uphold the Queen's Treaties, the Governor General might respond "If I did that I would lose my job." (ie, the politicians of Canada would fire her if she ever attempted to uphold the Queen's Treaties - the Honour of the Crown - that our politicians have totally abdicated.) For the ultimate protection of the Canadian people, should it ever be necessary, the Queen/Governor General is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces: In that theory of governance, the CAF cannot be used against the Canadian people. In Canadian reality, it's at Harper's whim. We are left with a degraded system where (mostly) Canadian men make decisions for all of the people, while the majority of the people are women and children with no official voice, no input, not even any public influence on governments. Decisions are made supposedly 'in the best interests' of the people without informing us, without consulting with us, and with absolutely no checks and balances on aggressive and admittedly testosterone-fuelled governments, not even on their embarrassing behaviour, baby! Indeed, many school jurisdictions will no longer send class trips to the 'House' because of the degrading behaviour of our representatives in that forum of governance(?) of Canada. Slander and ridicule and half-truth and blatant lies and smear, shouting each other down with it, forms the basis of 'discourse' in the 'House(s)' today. There is nothing 'civil' about the 'discourse' in Canada's hallowed halls of parliaments. And our schoolkids today know this and they point this out as "bullying", and it's simply no longer acceptable, in their world. In addition, much of the time we pay politicians to be in the 'House' doing governance is taken up with political parrying, and that's not supposed to be funded by the public, but by the party. It is quite apparent to me that our male dominated governments, left largely to their own resources before and since 1867 ("because who wants to deal with politicians!") have gone severely off the rails. The balancing voices and power of women and children are desperately needed. The process of populating Canadian governments with women is extremely slow because it is extremely arduous, filled with conflicts with their family responsibilities, and occurs in an extremely 'poisoned environment' of sexual harassment that wears women down in our traditional Canadian male bastions of government. (The 'family compacts' are alive and well, btw.) The system certainly was designed, and it also appears to be sustained, in ways that intentionally keep women out. One way of changing that is to 'join them ... and beat them at their own game'. Some women can take this route. Most can't - due to family, and due to our houses of governance being the most poisoned workplace environments in the country ... for women. Thus the process has been not only slow, but is now reverting back to even more male dominance, as women refuse to play the 'big dog' pigs' games, and women refuse to be victims of pigs' disgusting manners, aka intimidation and harassment. Women more often won't sacrifice their families to their career, as demanded by the current political systems in Canada. That would be an oxymoron in woman-think: Sacrifice the children in order to make decisions 'in the best interests of the children'?? Ridiculous. And women are better able than men, in my opinion, to see when a trail of decision-making has gone off the rails, ultimately missing the original purpose ... the children ... ensuring the future. This is the state of our governance in Canada today: In my opinion the current nature of governance in Canada, as it has evolved in the hands of men, violates the principles and purposes of democracy and does not serve the interests of the people. Rather, it seems to only serve the purposes of the corporations. It's all about fast profit, surplus economy, and filling election coffers. These things are important, but this is not our collective purpose. The gender balance is noticeably missing. The other factor that enters the equation of course is the media, the 'free press' that supposedly informs the people and raises the issues of the people. How 'free' is our 'free press' from the influence of government/party/corporate powers? From my own experience, 'free' in name only ... ie, not free at all.
For several months, I was part of a group protesting the federal government's failure to address, or even to mention, the thousands of children who died in their 'Indian' residential schools, still buried in unmarked and sometimes mass graves all across Canada. The major media - CBC, CTV, Canadian Press, etc. - came to our demonstrations repeatedly and media reports of our concerns blanketed the airwaves and the newspapers across the country (Feb-Mar 2008). The media kept asking for proof that children died, locations of graves, etc. and they kept returning to our demonstrations with with those questions. However, when sent advance notice that evidence would be released on April 10 2008 in both Vancouver and Toronto, absolutely NO media turned up for the events. It was obvious to us that the 'free press' in Canada had been told to stay away, and not to report on the locations of mass graves to Canadians. All that got reported, sometime later, was that a Band Council Chief from Port Alberni said there was no mass grave there as indicated. However, Band Council Chiefs are also part of Canadian governance and typically do bow to the governments wishes, like this strategic article. I don't fault the reporters, many of whom were individually horrified by these unknown Canadian facts of children dying, unreported, unacknowledged, and the police officers were mostly helpful too. It is our governments that wield power undemocratically and it is the media bosses who cave in for their own reasons, reasons that undermine the 'freedom of the press' and violate the right of the people to information about our governments. In Canada, government and media are one with other corporate profiteers and the people are the enemies, to be misinformed and manipulated for corporate purposes. imo.grannyIt is apparent that governance in Canada wields its power undemocratically, deciding which issues can be talked about publicly and what can't. You can bet that the issues covered up do not show our governments to their best advantage nor ours. The issues covered up might show Canadians just how far down the wrong path our governments have gone 'in our best interests'. After all, what is more reprehensible to ordinary people than covering up mass deaths of children? Leaving them in unmarked graves? In Canada? And what reveals responsibility for those deaths more than trying to cover it up? And yet our governments persist, and are successful because they control the media too, or vice versa ...? The voices of Canadians mean nothing to them, just voices to be suppressed. It's all about them 'doing business' (in our 'best interests', of course ... Oh ya? !not!). These degradations of governance in Canada make our governments increasingly insular, answering only to themselves and to the political ma$ter$. This suggests to me that a new and different way is needed for the voices of women and children - the majority - to be as influential as they should be and must be in the directions of Canadian society. In this age of internet power, increasingly participatory voices in governance are almost a given- without sitting in a 'House' enduring harassment - are here, and the time is now. We don't need anyone's permission to form a 'Women's Council' to give voice to and to educate public opinion. Nor do we have to hold expensive and excruciating meetings. We can meet online, come to consensus, appoint spokespeople for particular topics. We can do press releases for the media and online, and send communication to governments, to embarrass them when they do wrong and praise them when they do right. (Daily awards?) We can become the media's 'goto' for the alternate opinions they always need to 'balance' their reporting. We can become known as an alternative voice that people can go to as well, where they will be allowed to be part of the process of addressing their concerns. We have alternatives now to harness the power of the people and to control our governments, the way it is supposed to be in a democracy, so that they actually do operate in our best interests, in a balanced way.
Just heard on TV, an activist in China working for rights of injured workers says ...
These people think economic growth is the highest form of activity. They think if they don't protect the bosses they will lose their jobs. ... This is not the kind of country we really want.So true ... in Canada too.