Queue Jumping

No one loves a queue jumper.

Queue jumping has reached a whole new level with the H1N1 outbreak/pandemic/hysteria. Yes, I’m going there, even after promising not to. With some provinces (ahem Alberta) promising not to prioritize and then running out and closing all vaccination clinics and other provinces having day-long waits at their clinics, it is a bit of chaos and mayhem. After health care workers have been trying to convince the public of the importance and safety of the shot, they are now having to tell their patients that they are not high risk and can wait a little longer.

That is why the outrage over queue jumping; professional athletes have been given H1N1 shots before high priority individuals. When there is a limited number of vaccinations to go around people are bound to be upset when a non-priority individual gets it ahead of someone else.

Which is why I’m reluctant to admit that I’ve been vaccinated. I’m not a child or a senior. I’m not pregnant and don’t have any respiratory problems. Yes, I work closely with the public in a health care-related setting, but it is an eye clinic not a medical clinic. I was not even sure if I wanted to get vaccinated: I don’t think that I am personally at high risk of the flu. I am careful about washing my hands and try to eat healthily and get enough sleep. However, each season a bug does circulate the office and takes out a number of people.

So why did I get it? I went to my travel doctor for a followup from our trip to Kenya and he, unprompted, asked me if I’d been vaccinated yet. I said I was not high priority. He gave me a vaccination.

I guess that makes me a queue-jumper. Sorry all of you high-priority people, but my doctor gave me an H1N1 vaccination ahead of you. How do I feel about it? I am glad not to have to be overly-cautious at work any more. I am happy I didn’t have to line up for hours to get vaccinated. I think I probably could have waited a few weeks until it was open season for vaccination. But now it is done and I have a sore arm to prove it.

Because the Rant has been Brewing

That I’m less than impressed with our current federal government shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. With immigration concerns galore that have affected many (including our friends), the latest Stephen Harper gaffe is just one more thing to add to the long list of things I’m not happy with about our government.

Imagine standing up in a forum as important as the G20 and stating that Canada has no history of colonialism. However, as most are aware by now, that is exactly what he did last week. Rather than spout off my own two cents, as I am well tempted to do, I’ll let you read what others have to say, if you haven’t already.

Really Harper, Canada has no history of colonialism?

By Harsha Walia 28 Sep 2009

“We also have no history of colonialism…” – Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

On the heels of a massive exercise of U.S. police repression against G20 protesters, including use of a wartime sonic acoustic weapon also being utilized in Iraq, Stephen Harper made the above declaration during a press conference in Pittsburgh where it was announced that Canada would be hosting the next G20 meeting in 2010.

Perhaps Harper and I are not on the same page – is colonialism not defined as the practice and processes of domination, control, and forced subjugation of one people to another? As most bluntly stated by Duncan Campbell Scott, Head of the Department of Indian Affairs in the 1920’s: “Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question.”

I expect Harper has read the federal government’s own report on the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, which explicitly lays out Canada’s imposition of a colonial relationship (indeed, that is the heading of one of the chapters) on Indigenous people. Measures employed include the Indian Act, residential schools, forcible relocation including to reservations, the imposed Band Council system, institution of a pass system (which was subsequently borrowed by apartheid South Africa), germ warfare, outlawing of ceremonies such as the potlatch and traditional activities such as fishing, failed treaty processes, and other forced assimilation polices including the Act for the Gradual Assimilation of Indian Peoples.

Considering that his government has so ardently voted against it, it would be safe to presume that Harper is aware of the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. If Canada has no history of colonialism, then what else could possibly explain that Canada – along with other settler states such as Australia – have yet to sign on to the Declaration? Other than the glaringly obvious and painful reality of colonization, what would make the Declaration “unworkable for Canada”, as stated by the Harper government?

Read the rest here.

Or there is this article linked to by a friend:

Stephen Harper Denies Canadian Colonial History.
By David Anton Jacks

My initial thoughts:
At the G20 in Pittsburgh, on September 25, 2009, Stephen Harper outlined to the media during a press conference that:

“We also have no history of colonialism. So we have all of the things that many people admire about the great powers but none of the things that threaten or bother them,”

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary (online) defines Colonialism as:
1: the quality or state of being colonial
2: something characteristic of a colony
3: a) control by one power over a dependent area or people
b): a policy advocating or based on such control

The Indian Act comes to mind.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy notes that:
“Colonialism is a practice of domination, which involves the subjugation of one people to another”.

Yet Harper clearly outlines Canada’s subjugation of Aboriginal people in Canada to the “dominant culture” in the June 11, 2008 Indian Residential School Apology in which he said:

“Two primary objectives of the Residential Schools system were to remove and isolate children from the influence of their homes, families, traditions and cultures, and to assimilate them into the dominant culture. These objectives were based on the assumption Aboriginal cultures and spiritual beliefs were inferior and unequal. Indeed, some sought, as it was infamously said, “to kill the Indian in the child”.”

Despite forgetfulness over his recent (perhaps insincere) apology, Stephen Harper has referred to British Colonialism in Canada as “brilliant” in an address at the
Canada-UK Chamber of Commerce on July 14, 2006, noting:

“But seriously and truthfully, much of what Canada is today we can trace to our origins as a colony of the British Empire.
Now I know it’s unfashionable to refer to colonialism in anything other than negative terms.
And certainly, no part of the world is unscarred by the excesses of empires.
But in the Canadian context, the actions of the British Empire were largely benign and occasionally brilliant”.

Harper will likely say that we are taking his remarks out of context, and that he meant to say that Canada has never actively colonized another sovereign, independent nation-state in the same way that England, Spain, France or the Netherlands have.

Other than the fact that First Nations were and indeed still are nations, it is the institutional continuation of colonial policies in Canada today that we cannot deny, but are being denied by Stephen Harper in his statements.

Joyce A. Green notes that “Canada is an evolving colonial entity” in Towards a Detente with history: Confronting Canada’s Colonial History. She outlines that “The obscured reality of Canada’s colonial foundations contributes to a contemporary Canadian psychosis as we struggle to account for and deal with the consequences of that same colonialism while generally denying its reality”.

Canada IS a colonial State, both by origin and by practice.

I would say that he owes Aboriginal people in Canada (and all Canadians for that matter) an apology…

But history shows the true value of an apology from Stephen Harper.

Burma

As you may or may not know, I have already got my next major excursion out of the country planned. While this should not come as too much of a surprise, where I am going may. I’m going with a group of young adults from the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia to Myanmar/Burma next year. We will be going as a part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of their Anglican young people’s association because our diocese has a partner relationship with theirs. As a part of this partnership, fifteen people from there are supposed to be coming to visit us this week. Unfortunately, due to the stupidity (? – sorry having a difficult time coming up with a better adjective than that) of our Canadian government, only four of the group has been issued visas to come. The other eleven are currently sitting in Thailand, waiting. For these people to come here is not an easy task, now our government has gone and made it more difficult. Pray for them.

Quote of the Day

In the BC Leader’s Debate:

Carole James: “…so, Mr Campbell, is your Health Minister not telling the truth, or is it you?”

Gordon Campbell: “No, you’re not.”
(And then he nearly cracked up as he continued in his statement)

And We’re All Freaked Out

The biggest news of the last week or so has to be the “swine flu pandemic” (yes, it was only a matter of time until I got my two cents in).

The best quote I’ve seen yet (from something I read in the last week, I can’t remember where) was that the swine flu is the “biggest global health crisis since the SARS pandemic failed to actualize.” Hmm, that may say it all right there, especially with headlines like the one in today’s Globe and Mail: Mexico lowers flu death toll. Maybe it isn’t as freaky as we first thought?

Completely independent of each other, I read two complementary analyzes of the situation:
From Mike:

Our Hierarchy of Concerns

I think I’ve figure this out:
AIDS = The poor. Therefore, who cares?
Malaria = The poor. Therefore, who cares?
SwineFlu = Could be us. Better get on this one!

From Eric:

The WHO, for 2004, summarized that in Africa:

405,000 died from TB
182,000 died from measles
69,000 died from tetanus
1,417,000 died from respiratory infections
27,000 died from iron-deficiency

And yet, somehow, we are in a state of emergency over a flu that has killed no one in Canada yet. The lesson is learned: all you have to do is threaten a white, affluent North American and every precaution will be taken. Threaten to kill thousands of Africans and the world sits on their hands.

Puts things into perspective and makes one think, does it not?

On a lighter note, this is from the 1970s:

A friend alerted me to the fact that the federal government had changed the way it funds social science graduate students a number of weeks ago. Finally, a columnist in Macleans has picked up on it and, thankfully, agrees that the idea to fund only business students for social science/humanities/arts graduate work is ludicrous. Thankfully I’m not applying for the SSHRC so I don’t have to worry about having that application turned down.

Merry Mainland Christmas

Merry Christmas greetings from the Mainland.  We took the ferry over yesterday afternoon, crossing just around sunset making the Gulf Islands look absolutely spectacular.  It was quite picturesque.

Today we drove uptown to do some groceries for the meal Jen and I are making tomorrow night (we volunteered to do Christmas Eve dinner, menu will follow after the fact as it is a surprise).  I was slightly nervous driving in snow after not having done it in years, and driving only slightly more frequently, but my concern was unfounded.  The roads are fine.  Although we did hit a bit of a blockage on the way home where someone had gone into the ditch and a tow truck was pulling them out.  I was quite impressed that they even had a police officer directing traffic around it.  It wasn’t until after we passed that we realized that the police officer was there to direct traffic because it was his car in the ditch!

And now I leave you with a joke I heard at church on Sunday…

Did you hear that there will not be a creche scene in Ottawa this year?
It is because they couldn’t find three wise men or a virgin to be Mary and they had too many asses to fit in the stall…