Tag Archives: politics

Why Statistics Matter

1 Mar

It is no big secret to anyone that statistics was NOT my favourite course during my university career. However, I do recognize the importance of statistics. This is was clearly demonstrated to me when I read a report at a workshop for growing the informal employment sector in Botswana.

A study was done about the informal sector, and part of the study was based on the income levels of those working in the informal sector. The mean income was BWP 2,557.65 (or about $320) with a standard deviation of 7,202.41 – this high of a standard deviation means that the responses are very spread out over a large range of values (the minimum was BWP 0 and the maximum was BWP 60,000 – $7,500). BUT the mode (most frequently encountered response) was BWO 500 ($62.50). The quartile analysis was revealed a more clear picture: the mean incomes for the first, second and third quartiles were BWP 500, BWP 1,000 and P3,050 respectively.

So why does this matter? It gives a very clear explanation of how the mean does not necessarily give an accurate representation of the data. This is particularly important in a country like Botswana. Botswana is currently labeled as an upper-middle income country, with a GDP/capita of $16,800 (or BWP 134,400). However I can tell you from experience that this not reflect the reality of the situation in most of the country – particularly in remote, rural areas. And if more statistics were available, they would tell you (and all the donors that have pulled out of Botswana) too.

Vote NO to M312

20 Sep

I want to share the wonderful reply I got from Elizabeth May’s office to my e-mail about voting NO to M312. This motion, proposed by Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth, would essentially reopen the debate on the definition of a human being under the Canadian Criminal Code. This could affect many reproductive rights of women, including abortion, contraception, and rights throughout pregnancy. 

“Thank you for your letter regarding the debate of the legal status of abortion in Canada, which has been re-opened by Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth in a motion called M-312. I am very disturbed by Mr. Woodworth`s back-door attempt to re-open an abortion debate in Canada.

The Green Party opposes any possible move by the Harper Conservatives to diminish the right of a woman to a safe, legal abortion. We fully support a woman’s right to choose.

Through our “pro-life, pro-choice” position, we are also committed to expanding programs in reproductive rights and education to avoid unwanted pregnancies in the first place and thus reduce the number of abortions in Canada. We have also advocated the expansion of supports for low-income mothers who wish to have a child, but may consider abortion due to lack of resources.

It is vital that safe, legal abortions be available to the women of Canada – and the world. We support federally-funded maternal health programmes to ensure access to family planning and primary health care, including access to safe, legal abortions.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth May, O.C., M.P.
Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands
Leader of the Green Party of Canada”

To read more about this motion, please visit here, here and here. See what Stephen Woodworth has to say about it on his website here

Encourage your local MP to follow Elizabeth May’s lead and vote NO tomorrow!

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Mayor Rob Ford’s Transcript

5 Sep

Mayor Rob Ford’s Transcript

This is so awful it’s wonderful. It is definitely worth a read to gain some insight into the mind and shenanigans of Toronto’s mayor. 

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Vagina.

25 Jun

Vagina.

Does the word “vagina” make you feel uncomfortable? Does it feel weirder to say than “penis”? Should the word be banned in the State House of Representatives? What other word should representatives use when discussing female reproductive issues? Are there any negative connotations associated with the word? Why?

Raise your hand if you understand the omnibus bill (Bill C-38)

23 Jun

Okay, so until this morning, I would only be able to half raise my hand. Tentatively. With apprehension.  But this has been a hot topic in Canadian politics that affects all of us and I think it is important for voters to understand it.

Wikipedia defines an omnibus bill as a “proposed law that covers a number of diverse or unrelated topics.” (Side note: before you comment on my use of Wikipedia, let’s just remember Michael Scott’s quote – “Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject, so you know that you are getting the best possible information.”) Basically, an omnibus bill packages all these diverse topics into one single proposal that gets voted on as one piece of legislature. Oftentimes, they are used by a government to get controversial amendments passed without proper scrutiny or notice. And they are perfectly legal and used within the Canadian political system.

So what is Omnibus Bill C-38? It is a huge budget bill proposed by the Conservatives called the “Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act” that tries to disguise a whole host of controversial measures. The bill is more than 400 pages long and seeks to amend nearly 70 different laws ranging from unemployment to Indigenous rights to food security to the environment.

Just a few of the laws proposed in Bill C-38:

– The bill changes the environmental assessment review process:

  • The bill gives way for rapid approval of huge industrial projects like the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline
  • The bill will violate the obligation to consult with aboriginal communities on future projects

– Bill C-38 proposes changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, Old Age Security and repeals the Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act

  • The eligibility age for old age security will be raised
  • This will affect the most vulnerable and underpaid workers in Canada

– The bill amends the Seeds Act and Plant Breeder Rights

  • It eliminates the enforcement of the” Product of Canada” label
  • It favours multinational corporations instead of local farmers

– The bill officially withdraws Canada from the Kyoto Protocol

  • There will be no separate debate or vote on withdrawing Canada from this International agreement

– Bill C-38 amends the Employment Equity Act:

  • It eliminates requirements that protect groups from discrimination
  • This will affect women, Aboriginal peoples, visible minorities and persons with disabilities

– The bill enacts changes to the Fisheries Act:

  • It limits federal protection of fish habitats

Pros of the omnibus:

  • If the bill was broken up then the political process would be prolonged.
  • The government’s future priorities are moving forward more quickly.

Cons of the omnibus:

  • Since so many laws are being passed in one bill, less attention is paid to the details and the controversial measures. Proposed bills would be better if they were separate and received more consideration.
  • The government’s future priorities are moving forward more quickly.

The Conservatives want to pass Bill C-38 before Parliament breaks for the summer. The bill passed a final vote in the House of Commons, and is set to be voted on in the Senate. It looks like it will pass next week.

What do you think about the concept of omnibus bills? Do they have a legitimate place in Canadian politics? Is the Harper government utilizing the omnibus bill in an intelligent way, or is it sneaky and underhanded? Can you pass Elizabeth May’s quiz about the bill?

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More on Robocalls

19 Mar

Here is an add-on to my post about robocalls… because I love Rick Mercer and he sums it up perfectly.

Robocalls – Just more Shit Harper Did

13 Mar

As a voter in the Guelph riding, I would like to share my experience and opinion on the Conservative tactics during the 2011 federal election. The big issue currently under discussion: robocalls. Elections Canada is currently sifting through over 30,000 complaints from the Guelph riding of people receiving robocalls that gave voters misleading information about voting locations. This was following an already shady Marty Burke campaign – Conservative communications director Michael Sona had tried to steal the ballot box at an advance polling station at the University of Guelph!

I was at my parents’ home in Guelph May 2nd, and I answered the phone while my parents were at work. The call “informed” me that my voting location had changed. I mentioned it to my mom when she got home, and we both thought that it was weird. We decided to go to the location advertised online and in the paper. When we got there, there were Elections Canada signs, so we voted and didn’t think twice about the unusual phone call. We were just one of over 30,000 households in Guelph to receive this robocall. Guelph was a targeted riding that the Conservatives hoped to win in the 2011. All eligible voters in my family openly support parties other than Conservative (no blue signs on our lawn!) so it makes sense that we were one of the targeted households.

The robocalls have been traced to an IP address belonging to “Pierre Poutine” in Guelph. The House of Commons has unanimously agreed to boost the powers of Elections Canada to prevent issues like this in the future. I think that this NDP-proposed action is a positive step following the despicable actions in the last election. I hope that Canadians don’t forget about this and all of the shit Harper did, and hold his government responsible.

In the end, I am proud that Guelph was one of the few Liberal ridings in Ontario that remained Liberal. Frank Valeriote has been an ideal MP, often going against his own party and truly representing his constituency.

***Facts outside of my personal experience were taken from a Globe and Mail article ***