Fiona Tinwei Lam – commentary “The Hole in the Middle: Gambling, Families and Politicians”

excerpt    …Premier Christy Clark recently announced that over 2,000 B.C. non-profits would receive an immediate $15 million in community gaming grants. “We’re putting families first by providing more funding for programs that support healthier children, stronger families and more vibrant communities,” she stated in a news release. A quarter of the 2,000 charities will be restored to prior funding levels, after having had their budgets slashed when the province drastically reduced gambling grants to non-profits from $156 million in 2008-2009 to $112 million in 2009-2010.

But just like that casino’s deck of cancelled cards, the positive announcement seemed to have a gaping hole in the middle: the knowledge that a significant proportion of those grants geared to benefit individuals and families in our community originates in the desperation, misery and impoverishment of others. This key time leading up to the provincial election offers voters an excellent opportunity to question our incumbent and prospective political representatives on this issue to determine whether they have the courage to take a stand. [Tyee]

via The Tyee – The Hole in the Middle: Gambling, Families and Politicians.

Rachel Giese writes on Canadian myths about crime & immigration

Rachel Giese 

writes in The Walrus June 2011

“Arrival of the Fittest”

Canada’s crime rate is dropping as immigration increases. Is there a connection?

Late last summer, the MV Sun Sea, a small Thai cargo ship, entered Canadian waters off the British Columbia coast, where it was intercepted by the navy and the RCMP. Crowded on board were 492 Tamils, including women and children. The vessel’s arrival was not unexpected; in fact, the government had been monitoring its journey for months and had intelligence that it was smuggling refugees from Sri Lanka. Canada has been a popular destination for people fleeing the ravages of the twenty-six-year civil war and a 2004 tsunami: there are now 20,000 Sri Lankans here, and more coming all the time.

A few days before the Sun Sea reached the coast, public safety minister Vic Toews was in Toronto giving a luncheon speech on national security to the Economic Club of Canada and announced, “I can assure you that we are concerned about who is on that ship and why they might be coming to Canada.” He was referring to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, known as the Tamil Tigers, which has been banned in Canada as a terrorist organization. The previous year, when a rusty ship called the Ocean Lady carrying seventy-six Tamil men arrived off the coast of Vancouver Island, the government arrested the passengers and held them for months, alleging that a third of them were Tamil Tigers sent to infiltrate Canada and set up operations here. (No evidence was ever found to support that claim, and they’ve since been released. All are pursuing refugee claims.)

That the point person was Toews, and not Jason Kenney, the minister of citizenship, immigration, and multiculturalism, was telling. It framed the Sun Sea situation as a potential danger to the public, and prompted a swift response. The passengers were put into detention (nearly sixty of them remain there, and in March two were ordered to be deported because of ties to the Tigers). The government also introduced Bill C-49, which would allow officials to detain smuggled migrants for one year, and bar them from applying for permanent residence and sponsoring family members for five years.

The public was unsympathetic…

Read the rest of the article at The Walrus

For an audio interview with Rachel Giese about this essay, see:

writing the i in oil

the pomegranate Writes the “I” in Oil

Why “oil”?

This site and blog are based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, where the economy pivots on oil. I encourage contributors to reflect on the oil economy. How does it impact your everyday life? How do you think through sustainability in an oil economy?

This category “oil” slides into issues around the environment. But to write “oil” is to think about how we live and work. Who profits? How is our economy tied to it whether we live and work in Fort McMurray’s Tar Sands  or bicycle to work in Vancouver. Oil is what we take for granted. How does oil impact our lives? How we are implicated in it?  How do our workplaces benefit from it? The oil industry contributes millions to the workplace that puts a roof over my head.

How do we write ourselves in the oil economy. What is accomplished when bring this network of connections into the light?

How might things might be different? Continue reading “writing the i in oil”