We rant about politics in Canada and local politics in Peterborough, Ontario. Open discussion. All welcome
Episode #121 — Why is Ontario privatizing health care?
When the Ontario Health Coalition warned last spring leading into the provincial election that the Ford government was planning to privatize surgeries and diagnostic services, Ford repeatedly denied that was his plan. Those claims are now shown to be totally false with Bill 60; the Ford government’s hospital privatization legislation passed into law on May 8th.
This will create 2-tier health care in Ontario in which patients will
be faced with an increasing array of user charges and extra-billing for care
when they are sick, elderly, in need and least able to pay.
This is why for over a century people in communities across Ontario have funded and built their local public hospitals. Our government responded to this need 70 years ago by creating a public hospital system. It is also one of the reasons that private hospitals have been banned since 1973.
If you live in Ontario, you can vote online in a province-wide referendum at https://publichospitalvote.ca/ before the end of the May 26-27 weekend. Or you can vote in person across the province. Find your location here at the same link. You can also become involved in reversing this government decision through https://www.ontariohealthcoalition.ca/
Joining me for this online discussion is former hospital administration staff member Marion Burton, Dr. Paul Cragg (retired), Nurse Practitioner Meaghan Allen and healthcare activist Roy Brady. This episode was recorded on May 21st, 2023.
Episode #120 — Why Subsidize Arts Groups?
courtesy of Jackson Creek Press, 2023
Why should governments at all levels subsidize the arts?
Encourage cultural enrichment: Concerts, live theatre, dance performances, art gallery shows, readings and film festivals are all important components of the arts and culture ecosystem of many communities. By subsidizing these expressions of creativity, governments can promote local art scenes, diversify the experiences available to community members, and contribute to cultural enrichment.
Boost local economy: All the above components of local art scenes can bring economic benefits to host communities by attracting tourists, creating jobs, and supporting local businesses. The arts can generate a surprising volume of revenue for their host communities. Government subsidies can help to sustain and grow the arts community, which in turn can strengthen local economies. According to Hill Strategies Research Inc., Canadian performing arts organizations generate $2.70 for every $1.00 of government investment. Also, visual arts contributed more than $8 billion to the Canadian economy in 2022 (Hill Strategies Research).
Increase accessibility: The costs of attending concerts, gallery displays, theatre or dance performances, and films can be prohibitively expensive, and not everyone is able to afford to attend these events. Government subsidies make the arts more accessible to a wider audience. Subsidies allow venues to offer pay-what-you-can admission policies.
Support artistic freedom: Creative forms such as theatre, dance, painting, photography, sculpture, film and music allow artists to express themselves freely and explore different new themes. By providing subsidies, governments can help to support artistic freedom and ensure that artists are not unduly limited by financial constraints. Public funding ensures that a broader range of voices are heard and more diverse stories are told.
Preserve cultural heritage: Many traditional art forms and practices are at risk of being lost, stolen or forgotten. By subsidizing the arts, governments can help to preserve cultural heritage and ensure that future generations can benefit from the richness of the local traditions.
Overall, funding and supporting the arts can provide a range of benefits to the community at large, especially here in Peterborough. The arts also offer a bridge for building understanding between settler communities and First Nations.
Given the above points, from a business standpoint, why doesn’t the City of Peterborough increase its investment in the arts? Instead, arts funding is shrinking relative to our growing population. How come? A few weeks ago, one of Peterborough’s local gems — The Theatre on King or TTOK, had this year’s grant from the City slashed to zero. Thankfully, since this grant denial was announced, TTOK launched a successful fundraising campaign to keep the doors open for at least the next 12 months. But dashing from crisis to crisis is not an enduring way to sustain any arts organization. In the long run, stability is a more constructive environment for the arts community than one of constant panic.
According to our panel of Su Ditta, Bill Kimball and Kate Story, funding for the arts in Peterborough needs to be managed by an independent body or agency — a professional arts council — that is, at arm’s length from elected officials. This discussion was recorded on April 23rd, 2023 and is just over 53 minutes long.
courtesy of Jackson Creek Press, 2023
Episode #119 – The Origins & Future of Black History Month in Canada
If this country evolves to fulfill its potential as an open and diverse democracy that welcomes people of all backgrounds and from all countries of origin, we wouldn’t need to celebrate Black History Month. Both newcomers and longtime residents, especially Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) would feel welcomed and valued every month of the year regardless of their race or country of origin. But here in Peterborough and across the country, we have a long way to go in order to be able to live in that shining reality.
Our panellists have a wealth of experience in fostering and promoting the values that underpin Black History Month. Stephen Wright emigrated with his family from Jamaica to Canada as an 8-year-old and has lived in New Brunswick, Alberta and now Peterborough; from 2018 to 2022, Stephen served as a Peterborough City Councilor representing Northcrest Ward. In the 2022 municipal election, he ran as a candidate for mayor of Peterborough. Rosemary Sadlier was born and raised in Toronto; she has degrees in teaching and social work. Her roots in Canada reach back to pre-Confederation: her mother’s family can be traced to 1840, while her father’s ancestors arrived in New Brunswick in 1793 as United Empire Loyalists. Rosemary was the president of the Ontario Black History Society (OBHS) from 1993 to 2015. As president, she contributed to the recognition of Black history through education, research and outreach programs. Rosemary’s pressure was central to the Canadian government’s 1995 decision to make the celebration of Black History Month a national annual event. Along with the 1995 establishment of National Black History Month, in that same year, Rosemary also initiated the formal celebration of August 1st as Emancipation Day, which is still being sought nationally.
Our discussion touches on the coverage of Black History Month across the country and Peterborough’s very recent recognition of this month on the municipal calendar. In future, could we do more by reflecting on how we might recognize this month of significance for citizens of all backgrounds in our community? This panel discussion was recorded online on February 17th, 2023
Episode #118 — Hate
Expressions of hate have been exploding over the past year. Whether it’s on the news, on social media or in real life, now we hear almost daily accounts of antisemitism, anti-Black racism, anti-trans slurs, anti-LGBT+ attacks, poor bashing and anti-immigrant outbursts. Even in Peterborough. What is going on? And why now? And why these target groups?
It would be naive to just blame the ripple effects of the Trump presidency. But the Trump effect, coupled with the pandemic, the outbreak of war in Europe, the worsening climate crisis, the bloated cost of living and the extreme income inequality surely must be factored into this toxic stew. Whatever the causes of this grim trend, all of these factors are multiplied and disseminated by the Internet, social media and our 24-hour news cycle. When bad news happens anywhere, we all know about it within minutes.
Our political dialogue is becoming poisonous at all levels. Even in Canada’s parliament, politicians no longer strive to understand each other. Instead, they engage in rage-farming, that lovely term for whipping up anger and hatred. The expression of rage and the ability to stimulate it in voters have become one of today’s most esteemed political skill sets. Snide put-downs and stinging one-liners have replaced thoughtful debates.
In a historical sense, our society has been here before. The 1930s, otherwise known as the Dirty Thirties, shared many of the frightening dynamics we see in our current decade. Back then, there was extreme income disparity. There was the Great Depression and loss of employment. People were looking for scapegoats. There was a huge spike in antisemitism. There was a global shift to more right-wing governments. Moderates were deposed by tyrants. That decade ended with the rise of fascism and the outbreak of World War II. That war ultimately led to the deaths of over 40 million people.
We could spend hours on international trends, history,
and systemic causes of hate. Who is to
blame? While such an analysis might provide a more complete context for the
current moment, what can this exploration really tell us about what is going on
in Peterborough right now? Bigotry and
hatred are constant undercurrents in any community in Ontario. But until
recently, those undercurrents stayed out of sight and remained
unexpressed. Now they are crawling out
of the dark and in full view for all to see.
Finally, a few words about our panel. As listeners, you should know who you are about to listen to; we are a diverse collection of individuals of assorted ages, backgrounds, genders and political inclinations. Some of us are members of groups who have been victims of hatred. All of us live in Peterborough. All of us have a stake in creating a community free of hate. Thanks to panellists Stephen Wright, Jill Tilley, Annie Jaeger and Dane Bland for taking part in this panel discussion. This episode was recorded online on December 17, 2022.
Episode #117 — Stephen Wright’s Mayoral Campaign
City Councillor Stephen Wright has been knocking on doors since early May in his campaign to become the next mayor of Peterborough. In this interview, we find out what constituents have been telling him. Stephen also talks about his reasons for running and what he hopes to achieve if he wins. We look at Peterborough’s biggest challenges and key issues such as affordable housing, big property tax increases, downtown revitalization and the construction of the proposed twin-pad hockey arena at Morrow Park. Stephen also describes what he learned at the recent Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference and how those lessons might be useful here in Peterborough. This discussion was recorded at his George Street campaign office on July 5, 2022.
For more information on Stephen Wright’s campaign to be Mayor of Peterborough, go to https://sawright.ca/. The municipal election is on October 24th. Be sure your name is on the voter’s list; you can check for your name here,
The two musical interludes in this episode were sourced from the Creative Commons. In order of appearance…Artist: LukHash – Music: “The Other Side”; Artist: Le Conquerant – Music: ” Guitar”
Episode #116 — Canada Day, July 1st, 2022
With this episode of the Pints & Politics podcast, we mark another step in our tradition of taking a critical look at what it means to live in this county every July 1st. There are many gaps between the polite and progressive social personas we like to display to the world and the frequently angry and vindicative expressions we flash at each other here at home. This year, 2022, has so far revealed even more divisions than in previous years.
Canada is much more than an aggregate of lofty values and postcard scenery. It is a messy, divided country, steeped in unresolved conflicts. English vs.French. Urban vs. Rural. East vs.West. Indigenous vs. settler. Indigenous/settler vs. immigrant. Rich elites vs. the rest of us. And now vaxxed vs. anti-vax. How do we bridge the gap between our ideal social face that we virtuously present to the world, and our less-charming, true day-to-day grimace?
Our guests –mayoralty candidate and city councillor Stephen Wright and law clerk, photographer and comedian Jill Tilley–assess the rise of strident populism as manifest by the trucker convoys of the past winter in Ottawa and across the country. Our discussion looks at the implications of Quebec’s Bill-21 for religious freedoms; we bravely try to unravel the arcane mysteries of our Charter’s infamous notwithstanding clause.
Then we briefly look at the regrettably Canadian habit of cloaking our racism in superficial politeness. Our discussion moves on to examine how much of our newfound argumentativeness is due to the explosive growth in the use of social media for political purposes, particularly during the pandemic. And we ask if this expanded use of social media is feeding the growth in overt expressions of racism in both Canada and Peterborough.
In closing, we explore the disquieting contrast between our immediate welcoming of white Ukrainian refugees and our bureaucratic tedium in admitting middle-eastern Syrians and Afghanis, also displaced by war. Oh, Canada…This discussion was recorded on Saturday, June 25, 2022