Monday, 6 July 2015

Why don’t liberal feminists support the pro ana and pro mia movements?

It’s a serious question. I mean, being anorexic or bulimic is ultimately a choice that women and girls make, isn’t it? Nobody forces women and girls to starve themselves or to binge and purge. If liberal feminists argue, as they do when they discuss pornography, prostitution and BDSM, that the main goal of feminism should be to fight for the ability of women to make choices, shouldn’t they be supportive of any and all choices women make? Why is it that they deem some choices to be unacceptable (i.e. the choice not to eat or to binge and purge) and then turn around and unabashedly support others (i.e. the choice to be a porn actress or a sex worker)? Where is the consistency in their argument here?

Some sex workers, porn stars, and submissives feel empowered by what they do, liberal feminists bleat on. Well, so too do anorexics and bulimics. L, who writes a blog called “Pro-Ana Lifestyle Forever” includes a list of reasons for why she starves herself:

  • Because I can
  • Because I’m the hunger artist
  • Because I want to
  • Because if I can accomplish this, I can do anything!
  • Because off all the people in my life who die of jealousy when they see the way I look
  • Because it makes me feel brand new every day!
  • Because I just won’t quit
  • Because I have wanted to be this way forever
  • Because I don’t have any time to waste on food
  • Because I can do anything I put my mind to
  • Because I have the willpower
  • Because it’s my life
  • Because it’s my choice
  • Because of my next birthday
  • Because it’s me. And though I don’t advise it to anyone else; I’m too thin, and I don’t eat    enough, and that’s me, and I love it!
  • Because I want to be skinny for summer
Her body, her choice, right?  Anorexia makes L feel like she “can accomplish anything”. Hunger is her “art”, “art” that liberal feminists should recognize as subversive. After all, “L’s” extremely skinny body (a.k.a. her “hunger art”) subverts the male gaze since men prefer to gaze at women with tits and ass. “L” has neither- what a rebel!

But at the same time that they’re condemning abolitionists  for thinking that “sex workers need to be rescued even if they're happy with what they do” many liberal feminists seem to openly critique a woman’s choice to be anorexic or bulimic. Clearly, from what we can see on L’s blog mentioned above, L is is also “happy with what she does”.  It doesn’t appear to me that she needs to be rescued any more than a loud and proud self-identified sex worker. She’s been living the lifestyle for years, like many anorexics and bulimics. Jade, another young woman who also runs a pro ana website that has thousands of followers around the world, has embraced her anorexia for over ten years and says that “this is the way [she] wants to live.”  

Yet liberal feminists, like Anne Theriault, seem ignorant of the fact that being anorexic and/or bulimic can be an “empowering choice” for women like L and Jade. She suggests that their choices are harmful to themselves and harmful to women in general. In a post on beauty standards and eating disorders on her website,  Theriault even goes  so far as to mention socialization, the media ,etc. as factors that contribute to the prevalence of eating disorders in the West:

…the recent spike in eating disorders can almost certainly be attributed to how pressured  women feel to be a certain size. We’re obsessed with thinness, and that obsession permeates nearly every aspect of our culture, from how food is branded and marketed to us, to “vanity sizing” in clothing, to every headline ever in women’s magazines promising to tell you how to lose weight, how to keep the weight off, and which celebrities lost their “baby weight” the fastest. Our attitudes towards weight and size are actively harmful to women, and I seriously cannot overstate my concern about girls and young women growing up in this climate. I think we’ve only just started to see the detrimental effects of our infatuation with thinness, and  unless a major societal sea-change happens, things are only going to get worse.

 Whaaaaat?!  Is Theriault admiting here that individual choices are not made in vacuums? Could she be suggesting that we should examine the social context in which eating disorders happen?  Might she even be admitting that there is a system at work here, one that is deliberately designed to undermine the self-esteem, health, and well-being of women and girls? Noooo! It can’t be! Because suggesting that women’s choices are influenced by the dominant ideas and values of the culture in which they grow up/live would be to deny them their agency. Even worse, it suggests that they are unintelligent dupes or even the most blasphemous thing of all: victims!

(Quick!  Someone get a high liberal feminist priestess! We must exorcise the demon of radical feminism NOW! The power of Paris Lees compels you! The power of Paris Lees compels you! The power of Paris Lees compels you!)

Now that that demon that was clouding their vision of seeing the one true path of feminism (CHOICE!) liberal feminists should be able to get back on track and spread their message to the world that that thou shalt not ever judge the choices of women and girls. Even if their choices are harmful to themselves and to the status of women as a class, choice trumps everything!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

The Pro-sex Industry Lobby and the Religious Right

    Feminist abolitionists and the religious right are in bed together, “empowered” sex workers and their supporters often say.  They are in bed together, not having sex of course, because both groups are made up of sexually repressed Victorian prudes.  By associating abolitionism with the religious right, the pro-sex industry lobby makes it appear to the average person that its position on prostitution is the only one that is progressive.  The irony of this propaganda technique is that it is actually the pro-sex industry lobby and the religious right that have more in common with each other when it comes to how they view men, women and sex.
                Both the religious right and the pro-sex industry lobby hold views about society that are outdated, conservative, and androcentric. The religious right still abides by rules and laws that were written on stone thousands of years ago. They believe homosexuality, sex before marriage and using contraception are wrong because a bunch of old white dudes with beards said so. These old white dudes with beards also said that man should be in charge of the world, and that woman’s primary role in life is to provide man with sex and babies. Feminists call this system: patriarchy.
                The pro-sex industry lobby also worships all that old white dudes say and support oppressive systems- oppressive systems like capitalism. Capitalism is patriarchy’s best friend, and any true lefty should be critical of it. Treating women like chattel and commodifying their bodies are practices common to patriarchy and capitalism.  Treating women like chattel and commodyfying their bodies are practices supported by both the religious right and the pro-sex industry lobby.   “Prostitution is the oldest profession” is a common refrain spoken by sex workers and their supporters. And what this refrain demonstrates about all those who utter it is that they passively accept the status quo and fail to challenge both capitalism and patriarchy. To these people, the beliefs and practices of both oppressive systems might as well be written in stone since they are incapable of imagining any other way of organizing society.
                Because the religious right and the pro-sex industry lobby support patriarchal beliefs and, systems, it is not surprising that they share a male-dominated view of sexuality. More specifically, both groups promote the idea that women’s primary role when it comes to sex is to serve men. While the religious right encourages woman to serve the “sexual needs” of their husbands, the pro-sex lobby encourages women to serve the “sexual needs” of their johns. In both instances, women are not having sex because they really want it; rather, they are having sex to receive economic security/ financial compensation.
                Having unwanted sex can be psychologically damaging, which is why the religious right and the pro-sex industry lobby also realize that women need more than economic security/ financial compensation to keep them where they are. Thus, both promote the idea that servicing men sexually is “ennobling” and “empowering”.  The religious woman is ennobled and empowered through her role as a virginal wife who pleases her husband and provideschildren for him, which in turn pleases her religious community and “God”.  The “sex worker” is ennobled as she provides a “valuable service” to poor, lonely, and disabled men. She is empowered because she is financially independent, works on her own terms and makes money off of men whose sexual “needs” she exploits, so the argument goes.
                Both the religious right and the pro-sex industry lobby support the Madonna/Whore dichotomy of how men view women, but what is interesting about the pro-sex industry lobby’s most recent PR reframing of sex workers as saviours is that it seems to be trying to remake the image of the “whore” into that of the “Madonna”. The “whore” becomes respectable again because she sacrifices her own needs and sexual pleasure for poor, lonely, undesirable men.  And without her, the pro-sex lobby cautions, the world would be a scarier place, a place where "pure women" get raped        
                What all those who see beyond the view that man is the centre of the universe (a.k.a. feminists) should notice is that both the wives of religious right leaders and sex workers can only be “ennobled” and “empowered” through men. Neither the religious right nor the pro-sex industry lobby seem too concerned about women’s need for independent personhood, their desires or pleasure. Actually, when it comes to women’s sexual desires, both the religious right and the pro-sex industry lobby seem to be in agreement that women should repress them.  Both groups are terrified of women’s sexuality because if it ever got out of their control, women would insist on having sex on their own terms, for their own pleasure, and with people they are attracted to both outside of marriage and outside of the market place. The ultimate outcome would be the end of both the religious right and pro-sex industry lobby for neither could survive in a climate of women’s true sexual liberation.
                When it came to having sex with their husbands, the Victorians advised women to lie back and think of England. Today, the pro-sex industry advises women to lie back and think of the money, while the religious right probably wants women to lie back and think of God. Thus, if anyone is “in bed together” when it comes to views on men, women, and sex, it is the religious right and the pro-sex industry lobby. And what we find happening in between the sheets of their shared bed is the same shit that’s been going on for thousands of years: women getting screwed.

Sunday, 24 February 2013


Trigger warning: The images below may be disturbing to some. months ago I engaged in an online debate with some Bondage Domination Sadism and Masochism enthusiasts about (duh!) their promotion and practice of Bondage Sadism and Masochism.

I  ended up leaving the debate because the arguments they made were so ridiculous, I couldn't take them seriously anymore.  

However, very recently, the issue of BDSM has come up in real life and in a place not too far from home. In early January of this year, the body of 27-year-old kindergarten teacher Noelle Paquette was found in a woodlot in Sarnia, Ontario. *Shockingly*, her accused killers, Tanya Bogdanovich and Michael MacGregor, were members of an online BDSM website called Fetlife. Their profiles revealed that they were into "rape and torture".

So much for BDSM being "just a fantasy", eh?

Actually, the argument that fantasies are just fantasies and nothing to worry about, has always confused me. Maybe I'm just an odd ball, but most of the things I fantasize about are things I would actually like to do in real life. From telling off my boss to winning the next Pulitzer prize, if I had the ability to do these things in reality, I would so do them in a heart beat! Same goes for my sexual fantasies. I fantasize about the kind of sex I want to have in real life.

But, again, that's just me... and apparently that's also just Michael MacGregor and Tanya Bogdanovich...   


Because of this story, I decided once again to revisit my thoughts on the topic of BDSM because, as we can see, it is not simply a private matter. It seeps into the public realm and affects other people, like Noelle Paquette. And anything that affects the public, especially the female public, warrants some further discussion and examination by feminists. 

Practitioners and advocates of  BDSM, much like the pro prostitution lobby, try to make BDSM appear more complex than it actually is. They argue something to the extent of: "Just because it looks and feels like violence against women, it doesn't mean it's not feminism"

tied up

Yeah. I know. Seriously, George Orwell couldn't have written a better line.

To me, the argument is already over with just the mentioning the name of this practice: Bondage. Domination. Sadism. Masochism. To any person who advocates for a world in which peace, love and equality prevail, there is no place for Bondage. There is no place for Domination. There is no place for Sadism. There is no place for Masochism.


I mean, the argument really should be done here, but unfortunately, it is not. It is not over because for some reason, when it comes to sex, the same rules do not apply. When it comes to sex, all talk about peace, love, equality, etc. goes out the door, literally. Apparently, a closed bedroom door  keeps out all past and future social progress. Why? You got me.

In fact, most of the arguments I hear from pro BDSMers just don't make a lot of sense.

And the best way I can think of to illustrate just how nonsensical these arguments are  is to reproduce them in the form of satire. (I'm sure BDSMers won't mind me poking a little fun at them as a lot of them get off on being humiliated anyway...)

So, dear readers, I would like to introduce you to Kinka. She is a practitioner and advocate of BDSM, and her words  are essentially a compilation  of all the arguments I have heard from the BDSMers I have met in real and online life used to justify and defend their practice of Bondage Domination Submission and Masochism.

Hi everyone, my name is Kinka, and I would like to respond to all the feminists who are criticizing BDSM.

I would like to start off by saying even though I am coming onto a public forum to discuss my private sexual practices, my private sexual practices are none of your business! Didn't some famous Canadian politician once say something like, the state has no business inside the bedrooms of the nation. Yeah, that's right! So get out of my bedroom, you crazy feminists! I am so sick and tired of you criticizing my love of BDSM! BDSM has nothing to do with the oppression of women! Even though patriarchy has seeped into every other social space that exists, we have managed to keep it out of the bedroom!

The truth is I'm into BDSM. And the reason is because it's in my genes. BDSMer brains are just wired differently and you can actually see the parts that are responsible for this: in men, the BDSM part of the brain is shaped like a whip in and in women it is shaped like a shackle. 

So THERE all of you who say we learn this behaviour from what we see around us! It's just a coincidence that in a male supremacist society it is mostly women who take on the role as the submissive or "bottom" in a BDSM relationship. I mean, I know that corporations spend billions of dollars on advertising because they know it influences people into buying their products.  But this doesn't mean those same corporations, who publish popular books, produce t.v. shows, movies that promote gender stereotypes of women being weak and passive, have any influence on my finding extreme submission erotic.

Okay, now let's get to the good part, and ultimately, the real purpose for my writing this post: MY BDSM fantasies and practices!

 As I already stated, I am a "sub" or "bottom" and a masochist, which means I get sexually excited by being dominated, humiliated, and having excruciating pain inflicted on me! Isn't it funny how if I said the above statement in a context that wasn't sexual, people would think there is something wrong with me? Even if I consented to having these things done to me, most likely, someone would intervene and try to get me some professional help. Luckily nobody (except some feminists) questions my feelings and desires because they involve sex ....

Although, I have to admit, one time I got a little bit confused about this rule that the bedroom is a vacuum... Once I had wanted to pretend  that my partner was a white slave owner and I was a black slave in 19th century America, but he said he felt uncomfortable with this scenario as it felt too racist. I didn't really understand at the time, but I think I do now. To him, "race play" is off limits because racism can affect MEN too. 

Anyway, I'm sick and tired of having to defend my love of BDSM to feminists who know nothing about it. You can't criticize me because you've never been involved in the scene. It's like, I don't go around criticizing  people who practice bestiality because I've never fucked an animal. Or have been an animal. Whatever. As long as both parties are CONSENTING, what right do I have to say anything about bestiality?!

So my message to the next crazy feminist who tries to come barging into my bedroom is: The door is shut tight and you can't get in! You can't get in because once I close my bedroom door, you don't exist. Once I close my bedroom door, you don't exist because feminism doesn't exist.


Saturday, 5 January 2013

Lines composed a few minutes after listening to a parent bash unions and act like it is the greatest tragedy in the world her kid cannot participate in extracurricular activities this year because of work-to-rule industrial action in Ontario...

If the worst  thing your kid ever gets taken away from him is the chance to play on his school's basketball team, then I would say he is pretty damn lucky. I'm sure the kid who made the shoes your son probably wears while playing sports like basketball would trade him places in a heartbeat. After all, she had had her right to education taken away from her so your son can wear the latest brand of Nikes.

Speaking of child labour, did you know it is because of unions that this  practice has been mostly eliminated here in North America? And make no mistake; it is only because unions still have some power and influence in this part of the world that your son is not the one working in a sweatshop. 

However, if the business elite in this country (through the puppet governments they have helped put into power) get their own way, it won't be long before we return to the working conditions of the early 20th century- a.k.a.- a time before the labour rights movement in North America. Seriously. If you think I am being over-dramatic, then you have absolutely no sense of History. Labour laws can be easily changed (as they are being changed right now!), especially if there are no powerful groups of people to protect them. Thus, it may well turn out in the not-so-distant future that your son's son will be the one making shoes for rich kids somewhere else in the world. Is that really what you want?

If it is, then continue criticizing the teachers' unions and complaining about the loss of extracurricular activities at your kid's school.

If, on the other hand, you do really want a better future for your kid, then I have a few suggestions for you.

During the time your kid would have been playing basketball, you can educate him and yourself about the issues. Learn about the history of the labour movement. Learn about how unionization is largely responsible for the improvement of the working conditions of both unionized AND non-unionized employees. Learn about how since union membership has been shrinking, so too  has the middle class. Learn about the real reason why the government of Ontario has a $15 billion dollar deficit. (Hint: it is not because they spend too much money on education and other public services.)

Let's create a "useful crisis" in education so we can bankrupt the system!

Stop reading and watching mainstream media trash that poses as journalism and read an independent source of news that will actually provide you with factual information about why teachers are upset and about the government's true agenda- which is to bust unions and  destroy public education. Trust me, Laurel Broten doesn't give a shit about you or your kids. The clever decision by the Ontario government and the Ministry of (Mis) Education to title Bill 115  "Putting Students First" is truly Orwellian.

Finally, start to realize there is more at stake than your kid's access to extracurricular activities in his school. Learn to see past your own selfish desires and think about the bigger picture. After all, the only way society has have ever progressed in the past (and will hopefully do so again in the future) is when people are willing to sacrifice some of their individual comforts in order to work together and fight for a better future for EVERYONE!

Remember Remember the 11th of November

The other night, my aunt convinced me to go to a poetry workshop where I was supposed to write a poem in the form of a letter to a fairy tale character. But there are two things about me one should know: 1) I suck at writing poetry and 2) I can't stay away from the topic of politics. So from the story of Little Red Riding Hood, my thoughts somehow strayed to Remembrance Day- a "holiday" that recently passed by and that always makes anti-war activists like me uncomfortable. Actually, now that I think about it, I guess what the two topics have in common is the image of the colour red, and that's probably exactly how my thoughts arrived here:

 When I look at you
I see blood,
I see violence,
I see a big red lie
pinned to the chests 
of murderers
who tell me
to support the troops 
and [insert more propaganda here].

When I look at you
I see blood,
I see violence,
I see a big red lie
pinned to the chests
of murderers
who tell me
there is such a thing
as a just war
fought for freedom
and [insert another abstract value here].

When I look at you
I see blood,
I see violence,
I see a big red lie
pinned to the chests 
of murderers
who tell me
to remember
but also
 to forget
the truth.

A Play Within Politics and Politics Within a Play


I still remember the moment I was sitting at a local OSSTF Political Action Committee meeting listening to the Chair outline the plan for protecting public education and the labour rights of teachers: elect the Liberals, she said. That’s it, I thought. That’s the plan? I looked around, then down, and took a slow uncertain sip of my free beer. Nobody said anything. Should I? I was still deciding whether or not I should speak up when a teacher raised his hand and volunteered to put up signs for the incumbent Liberal MP in the north-centre riding of the city.  Someone else raised her hand to say she was able to canvas in the west area riding. Too late, I thought. My chance to speak was gone.

Unfortunately, I knew even back then that the OSSTF’s “plan” to protect education and labour rights would fail. I was right, but I still wish I would have spoken up, not because it would have necessarily changed the reality of what is happening today, but because it may have inspired a few more people to think critically and reflect on the true state of Canadian democracy and politics today.


Setting the Stage

As a student, I always received good grades in English because I excelled at recognizing structures and patterns of language, making connections and relating them to the overall meaning and themes of a literary text. Since becoming a teacher in the same subject, I try to teach these skills to my students as I find they are not only applicable to the study of literature, but to many other disciplines, including History and Politics. Thus, being someone who is also interested in these subjects, I’ve been paying attention to what has been happening in Canada, in other places around the world, and have begun to notice some common themes emerging within the main events of the past two decades. Therefore, what I'd like to do in this post is view these events through the lens of literary criticism and analysis in order to explain why I knew electing the Liberals in Ontario would not help teachers, and why what is happening in Ontario is only a tiny part of a larger global narrative. I will begin this analysis by providing a short summary of the key events happening around the world and in Canada over the past few years.

Key Events

Setting: Present Day- The World

In February 2011, nearly 70, 000 people went out to protest Governor Scott Walker's budget repair bill, a bill that would take away collective bargaining rights from public employee unions in Wisconsin. Several months later, teachers in the UK voted to go on strike in June to protest the government’s proposal to cut their pensions. They repeated this action alongside other public sector workers on November 30th, 2011 for what turned out to be the largest coordinated strike movement in the UK since 1926. Right now, in countries like  Greece, Hungary and Ireland, governments have been using the economic crisis as an excuse to introduce changes to their labour codes that diminish worker's collective bargaining rights. However, Greece, Hungary and Ireland are not the only nations being subjected to this form of bullying and coercion by governments. The attack on labour rights is happening in almost ever country in Europe.

Setting: Present Day- Canada

Similar events to those that have been taking place in the United States and Europe have also been happening in Canada. The olfactory imagery conjured up by the mentioning of the words garbage strike reminds us that something was rotten in the city of Toronto in 2009. And no, it wasn't just the piles of uncollected garbage left on the streets to decay that was the only source of that smell. Even when city workers called off the strike at the end of July, the stench of the plot to undermine organized labour and privatize public services remains in Toronto to this very day. Canadians should also remember the Canadian Postal Strike in 2011 that resulted in the federal government's shutting down of the collective bargaining process via  unconstitutional back-to-work legislation, a tactic they had previously employed in the dispute between Air Canada workers and their managers. Currently, we are in the midst of an attack on the collective bargaining rights of teachers in Ontario, and the similarities to what happened to education in British Columbia last year is no coincidence. But the assault on organized labour described above is just the tip of the ice burg. To read a full account of  the damage done in Canada click here.

I'd now like to zoom in closer to the setting of Ontario and take a look at some interesting characters who were introduced in earlier scenes. These characters were instrumental in advancing the plot, and are also important to the thematic development of the story.


Setting: 1990s- Ontario

If you read the description of the IMF on their own website, you may might be tricked into thinking they are the heroes of this story, but don't fall be fooled into trusting a honey-tongued sweet-talker as King Lear did in one of my favourite Shakespearean tragedies. Bestselling author and researcher Holly Dressel describes the IMF as a "muscle for international loan sharks". In fact, it is from Holly Dressel that I learned the true nature of the IMF and the actions of which they are capable. But before I get to the telling of the evil deeds committed by the IMF, I thought I’d briefly touch on a couple of  minor characters in this story.  

Mike Harris:
I was going to say that if you are an Ontarian and were not living in a cave in the mid to late nineties, you know the name Mike Harris and all of the cursing, uncontrollable shaking and hand gestures mimicking strangulation that accompanies the mentioning of his name. But when I thought about the above cliché statement again, I realized that, actually, cave dwellers are exactly the sort of people who would have voted for him in the first place. However, even though Mike Harris has long since resigned from his position of Premier of Ontario, his name still to this day conjures up a lot of hostility and anger. Yet, I would argue that this anger and hostility is largely misplaced. Don’t get me wrong, I am not defending Mr. Harris, but the reality is he only played a minor role in the Progressive Conservative’s performance of The Common Sense Revolution.

Bob Rae:
In order to complete my description of Mike Harris I first need to introduce another (somewhat) more benign character by the name of Bob Rae. So what can I say about Bob Rae? Well, when he was Premier of Ontario in 1993, I was between the ages of 9 and 12, and would say ‘he is gay’ because it rhymed and I thought I was cool. I now realize the homophobic nature of these words and would never say such a thing today; however, if I had intended to use another meaning of the word “gay” (which I obviously didn’t but let’s just pretend), “having or showing a merry, lively mood”, I would have been more accurate. Okay, I know Rae’s no Jim Carrey, but he is gay for a politician. I mean, he went skinny dipping with Rick Mercer and allowed the footage to be broadcasted on television. For a politician, you can't get much more “merry” and “lively” than that. 

Mike Harris and Bob Rae: In Depth Analysis 
But even though Bob Rae is more likeable than Mr. Harris, he carries with him, a deep dark secret: he, not Mike Harris, began the Common Sense Revolution. Alright, this may not be that deep and dark of a secret, but it seems there are many people who are unaware of this fact, and/or many who appear to have forgotten it. As Doug MacLellan explains his paper, Neoliberalism and Ontario Teachers’ Unions: A “Not-So” Common Sense Revolution, Rae’s NDP began most of the reforms in education that led to the Ontario teacher’s strike in 1997. MacLellan writes:

…the NDP government passed Bill 48 The Social Contract Act, which contained mechanisms to ensure the Ontario government attained its level of savings from its public sector groups. The outcome of Bill 48 was a breakdown of good will between the NDP and its traditional base of support, labour union, including teacher unions, and it also marked a shift by the NDP government toward a neoliberal approach to governing Ontario. [Emphasis mine]

Thus, it appears no matter what colour the government was, or whether their leader’s name was Bob Rae or Mike Harris, the cuts to education, health care, and other social programs were going to happen. And they are continuing to happen now under a Liberal government in Ontario. This time the name to despise is Dalton McGunity. But it could have been Tim Hudak. The point is: it doesn’t matter. All of these characters play a secondary part. They are the Rosencrantzes and Guildensterns of the show. Their role is to do the bidding of the real masterminds behind the curtain.

IMF: In depth analysis
I want go back to the role of the IMF in Canadian politics during the 1990s. Because it’s essential to be aware that what was happening in Ontario in the 1990s was happening all over Canada. As Holly Dressel explains in the following clip, the IMF created a “structural adjustment program” for Canada in order to repay its debt. However, this program was not designed to make our economy more efficient or competitive; rather, its intent was to force upon Canada a neoliberal agenda. This is why our federal government at that time drastically cut its transfer payments to the provinces for education, health care and other public services. The IMF said “jump” and Chretien Liberals did… into a never ending pit of social spending cuts and privatization.

It’s also important to recognize that the IMF’s ‘structural adjustment program’ for Canada in the 1990s is not a unique script. They have demanded that governments in other countries all around the world encore this performance. Forcing the privatization of water onto the poorest countries in Africa and South America is only one example. Right now the IMF is especially focused on European nations like Greece, Italy, Ireland, Spain, and Portugal. Interestingly enough, a couple of years before they began implementing austerity measures in these countries, the media reported that meetings were taking place between European leaders and Paul Martin, who was our Finance Minister in the 1990s. Apparently, Canada's model of austerity in the 1990s is heralded as a "great success" among world leaders.


The examination of the various settings, events and characters in this story should lead us to the identification of the following themes: attacking organized labour, reducing collective bargaining rights, cutting social spending and privatizing public services. But what do these themes have in common and how do they contribute to the main message of the story? To answer this question, we need to ask two more: who is harmed by these actions and who benefits from them? The answer to the first question is obvious: the working and middle classes. The answer to the second question is: the masterminds behind the curtain. The masterminds behind the curtain are the ones setting up the stage, they are the authors of the lines  spoken by characters like Mike Harris and Bob Rae. But who are they? To be honest, I don't know have a definitive answer to this question, but I do have some ideas. I know that characteristics of the masterminds are reflected in the IMF and so taking a closer look at their script may provide us with more clues. I also know that they are extremely wealthy and powerful and their main message seems to be: F*** democracy.


I had wanted to say all of this at the OSSTF PAC meeting but didn’t because I was afraid. I was afraid that people would think of me as one of those radical and crazy conspiracy theorists. I realize that what I’ve written here does sound a lot like a conspiracy theory, but is it really that crazy to believe there are powerful groups of people in this world who come together and make plans to further their goals and protect their interests? I mean, here I was sitting in one group of people doing just that. Isn’t it crazier, given the evidence, not to believe such meetings are likely to occur? And isn’t it even more crazy to keep using the same strategies (i.e. electing a government that will do the same thing regardless of its colour) over and over again? I don’t think we should sit back and do nothing, but I also don’t want us to continue to participate in this charade. Because honestly, if we do, we will surely end up as insane as Hamlet.

"Hamlet is of the faction that is wronged./His madness is poor Hamlet’s enemy."(V, ii, 225-226)