Friday, March 16, 2012

Abolish Austerity!

Photo by John Bonnar, from

Photo by John Bonnar, from

Today, with many of my peers, I took part in a demonstration to protest the cuts in the upcoming 2012 provincial budget.  Financial Consultant, Don Drummond has even come out and bluntly said that if all these cuts go through as planned, Ontario will have to face an age of austerity for many years.

As usual, I wrote a speech to voice my opinion. Here it is:

Queen’s Park is coming out with the 2012 Budget very soon. We know this will be an austerity focused one. Once again, low income communities and marginalized people will be hit the hardest.  Drummond has proposed cutbacks that would make the years of Mike Harris’ “Common Sense Revolution” seem like child’s play by comparison.  Harris cut 4.6% from government programs.  Drummond wants to cut a whopping 16.4% across the board.

Pocketing $1,500 a day to consult on how to make people’s lives a little more difficult, a little more demeaning, Drummond has proposed that there be cuts to healthcare, education, and social programs.  These cuts mean loss of vital services and loss of many, many jobs. They also mean that if people get laid off and can’t find jobs, which in this economy is entirely probable, they will have to apply to receive EI or OW.  But wait! According to Drummond’s plan, it will be made more difficult for people to get OW and ODSP.  He also states that these programs shouldn’t be run provincially but run federally.

I keep hearing the word “austerity” - and I bloody well hate it!  I want to abolish the word “austerity” and those who threaten us with it!  We already barely survive on what little we have each month, how can our government even think of making more cuts? They who give big corporations and banks tax breaks, who buy obsolete fighter jets, and pay consultants $1,500 a day want to cut back on the amount of money I have available for groceries and bills!

I got kind of depressed writing this speech and thinking about how many incredibly similar speeches I have written and delivered over the past 7 years. We keep fighting the cuts to services but the cuts keep coming, if not to the same services then to different ones. Either way, governments are unravelling the fabric of our society.

 In spite of all this, I remain steadfastly hopeful. Being here with all of you today makes me feel strong and determined to keep fighting, and to continue to do so until my very last breath! We must all continue to fight together to ensure that those unfeeling, greedy bastards don’t keep cutting services so there’s nothing left for us or for future generations!

Abolish Austerity!

Thank you.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Memories, Reflections, and a Cat's Birthday

Me at 12 years of age
Sharing a laugh with my brother Bruce
Tribute to Dandylion

Memories.  The mere word makes me smile and remember the time my mother took me to see "The Way We Were" when I was in my early teens.  There was that great scene where Barbara Streisand gently, and with great regret, brushes a strand of hair away from Robert Redford's eyes.  ".... misty coloured memories of the way we were." - yup, I can still hear Barbara belting it out with all the passion she could muster!  I remember thinking, How could she leave such a cute, charming guy?  I'd never do that!  I know better now, though; nothing is just black or white. You gotta do what you gotta do, no matter how sexy the guy is!

About a couple of weeks ago, I was watching Coronation Street and I  was quite surprised to see Robert  Vaughn doing a guest appearance as one of the newer characters. He used to be on "The Man From U.N.C.L.E. about 40 odd years ago. It wasn't one of my all time favorite TV shows, but I liked it and I have fond memories of watching it every Sunday evening, when my whole family would go downstairs and have dinner in the rec-room.

It was family bonding time as we ate, chatted, played with our dog Tippy, and watched shows like "Star Trek", "Get Smart", "Lost in Space", and "Bonanza".  (I never told anybody this until I was an adult, but as a  very young child I was absolutely terrified of tumbleweeds!  If a Western was on and a tumbleweed skittered across the screen, I would have to avert my eyes and hold my breath until it had passed.)

It's interesting what scares you, inspires you, shapes the person you become.  As a toddler, my brother had a doll, which he would always carry around with him, and he would imitate our mother as she sat breastfeeding me by putting the mouth of the doll to his own nipple.  As an adult, Bruce is an undeniable wonderful and devoted father to his two kids.  Because I admired Bruce as a very small child and wanted to emulate everything he did, I asked for and received a toy gun and holster set one Christmas.  I didn't become a gunslinger, of course, but that unique gift from years past instilled in me the courage to be able to express my individuality freely, despite societal pressures and labels, and to have enough guts to fight for what I believe in.

Memories.  They can result in such joy or terrible pain - sometimes, weirdly, both at the same time!  Valentine's Day has come and gone, and it gave me smiles, tears, and sweet memories of romantic times with Rob long past.

Back in 1987, both Rob and I had pretty much given  up on finding that special someone - until December of that year, of course, when we started chatting online on a bulletin-board system called  F.A.N. (Free Access Network) and fell hopelessly in love!

In hindsight, I'm sure Rob and I must have appeared sickeningly sweet in our absolute devotion to each other during that first blush of love.  I remember that Rob bought me two mini teddy bears named Rhett and Scarlett (he knew I was a big fan of "Gone With the Wind"), and a box of truffles.  I gave Rob a novelty Valentine's Day "devil" which held a large sign that had "I Love You!" written on it.  We kissed and hugged and cuddled and fondled, and we both repeatedly told each other how happy we were to have finally found someone special enough with whom to spend Valentine's Day.

This past February 11th would have been Dandylion's 22nd birthday.  The date fell on a Saturday this year and I had planned on celebrating his life and its influence on my business by going to St Lawrence Market and giving away either a magnet or key chain (with his portrait emblazoned on them) with every "Dandy Variety Pack" purchased.  Unfortunately, that day there had been a hell of a snow storm and none of the sidewalks had been cleared, so I was snowed in!  I'm still doing the promotion thing with a free key chain or magnet with every "Dandy Variety Pack", though, and it'll continue for the rest of the year.

When I first started this it had been mid-February.  Besides birthdays, Valentine's Day, having a nasty cold, dealing with Winter's practical jokes, I was just too damned busy to write this entry in just one sitting.

Well, now looking forward: I'm going to write a speech for a rally; I'm going to paint Spring themed pictures; and, I'm going to send in a proposal to the art gallery in Baltimore.

Life continues: on and on and on.....