Wednesday, August 18, 2010

RE: Student Award. (from Venus Envy Ottawa)

Hi Shelley, 

I’m just writing to express a concern regarding your bursary application. I am very much appreciative and supportive of the equity efforts your business promotes throughout the city of Ottawa including your scholarship program. However, I find myself at odds knowing that a progressive business like yours would adhere to traditional gender construction within its own practices.  The eligibility criterion states that the application is “open to all women and trans people studying in Ottawa at any level of education.”

This is problematic for many reasons. Foremost, I believe the structural approach to education is one that we have seen fail time and time again. Identifying ‘problem groups’ and providing them with support is only a band-aid solution for the greater issue of systemic inaccessibility to post-secondary education. In truth the most discriminated against students are those who are not Canadian citizens. International students pay 3-5 times the tuition fees of a domestic student and are not covered by Canadian healthcare; albeit, this is not the crux of my argument.

Education in Canada is one of the plains on which we are nearing gender (well sex, but stats can is a whole other kettle of fish) equality. Though men and women students seem to continue some aspects of traditional division of labor, women do make up the majority of persons granted degrees in Canada since at least 2005. (http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/100714/t100714b1-eng.htm)

It too must be noted that students come from diverse backgrounds and may face compounding and intersectional disadvantages in attending college or university. It is for this reason that I argue gender should not be a point of criteria in your application.  Rawls’ second principle of justice posits that a society’s level of justice must be measured by the conditions of the poorest member. This member existence is pervasive of gender, religion, race, place of origin and all other categories constructed to divide us.  Adapting the application to be open to all gender identities achieves the goal of moving away from the use of gender as an organizing principle and allows the award to be given to the most deserving applicant.

I would like to take time to again thank you and your business for all your social justice efforts, and to implore that you re-examine your award eligibility for future postings.

Sincerely,

RE: Public Inquiry on Police Tactics During the G20 (sent July 6)

Dear Mr. Moore, MP Fundy Royal, 

I am writing to you as a concerned constituent. The police tactics used at the g20 meeting in Toronto were at best unacceptable. Numerous stories have to come to light about the abuse of police powers and the failure of the Canadian government to uphold the rights of its citizens. 

Police used arrests and detentions to arbitrarily confine peaceful protestors and subject them to lengthy and unconstitutional periods of time without access to legal counsel, food, water, and medical aid. This was not the Canada I grew up in. This was not a place where the citizens had no reason to fear our law enforcement officers. 

As the son of an RCMP officer I held a higher opinion of law enforcement in Canada. I was myself in an RCMP youth group during my school days. However, I had the privilege of being one of the peaceful demonstrators in Toronto during the g20, and I have been forever changed. I saw a Canadian city, one selected to represent Canada to the world, transformed into a space where rights were suspended. Therein, arrest, search, and seizure were arbitrary; detention was cruel and unnecessary; and I felt for the first time in my life that the police were not a presence to serve and protect the people of Canada. 

Powers of arrest and detention were inappropriately used to silence and disperse thousands of peaceful protesters. At the same time, inadequate force was used to protect the businesses of Toronto during the violent out breaks of the so called “black bloc”.  No reason seems to justify the acts taken by the security forces of the Toronto g20 summit. 

With a price tag hovering near 1 000 000 000, the Canadian public deserves to know how and why the police acted as they did. Further, as an Atlantic Canadian it is important that our people have the same access to information that those in central Canada are privy to. Canadians coast to coast deserve to know the extent to which Toronto became a police state. 

I implore you to call on your Conservative government to launch an independent public inquiry into the happenings of the g20 summit. Canadians have the right to know how their money was spent and how their rights were compromised. Anything less is an insult to your electorate.
I hope you take these concerns to heart and raise this issue with your fellow parliamentarians. 

Sincerely, 
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Response (Received July 20) 

Thank you for your correspondence regarding the protests in Toronto during the G-20.
On July 6, the Toronto Police Services (TPS) called for an Independent Civilian Review to identify any issues or concerns regarding oversight, governance, accountability, transparency, as well as communication and supervision issues arising from the multijurisdictional model of policing the G20 Summit.
Over a million flyers were distributed to Toronto households by the TPS, and these explained the need for the police to ensure security. Additionally, ads were placed in every Toronto newspaper. The same notifications were posted to the Ontario government’s e-laws website on June 16th.
The TPS were present to protect the Summit. Toronto was selected to represent Canada to the world, and any breach of the Summit perimeter would have had disastrous consequences for Canada on the international stage. This is especially true given the fact that the police recovered many deadly weapons from protesters, such as saws, bats, crossbows, hammers, and knives. The police acted to ensure the safety of the delegation.
Thank you for bringing this issue to me. I hope that this has addressed your concerns, and if you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with my office.
Sincerely,
Rob Moore, MP
Fundy Royal
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(Can anyone say template?)