Stephen Harper as Santa Claus, still  trying to wield the Jedi Mind trick.For a few seconds following our October federal election, which resulted in Stephen Harper winning a stronger minority government, I wondered if maybe, just maybe Harper might actually put some effort into trying to work with the other political parties rather than simply attempting to bulldoze them.

It could be that my feelings had something to do with the statement Stephen made the day after the October 14th election: “My commitment to the opposition leaders is to try and find some common ground to move the Parliament forward productively because I know that nobody wants to talk about another election right now.”

Then the world economy collapsed and I hoped again that Harper would rise above his dictatorial tendencies and, you know, concentrate on throwing out a helping hand to Canadians suffering during the current financial crisis.

But nope, same ol' Steve-o with a murky shadow agenda constantly at hand. Yesterday I received an email from the Green Party explaining that the Tories were expected to announce the cutting of public subsidies to all federal political parties. Later in the day they indeed made such an announcement.

Cutting the subsidies would effectively gut the opposition parties, who are far more dependent on them than the Conservative party.” So no serious economic stimulus plan from the Tories in sight yet but big aspirations of crippling their opposition. The news triggered meetings between the Liberals, New Democrats and Bloc Quebecois, who are discussing the possibility of forming a coalition government and in the meantime the Conservatives have backed away from their “controversial proposal to end public subsidies of political parties in an upcoming confidence vote on the fall fiscal update.”

Prime Minister Harper, I'm sure, would like us to see him as Santa Claus (benevolent and generous of spirit) for nixing the anti-democratic proposal but notice his gloved hands in the above photo, still trying desperately to conjure the Jedi Mind trick which he hopes could place the entire nation under his thought control. Well, it might just be too late to stop that non-confidence motion now. For once, the opposition aren't taking Harper's oppressive tactics sitting down.

See, the thing is, Stephen, mind games aren't going to create any new jobs and help us weather this raging economic storm. Somehow, even now that the government's on the verge of being toppled, I doubt you're anywhere close to understanding that.

Hunters and Collectors - Throw Your Arms Around MeIf you listened to much popular music during the 80's you'll likely remember this amazing Hunters and Collectors tune from its 1986 release. And if you're Australian, I believe it was almost considered an unofficial national anthem.

In my opinion Throw Your Arms Around Me remains one of the best love songs ever recorded. Over the years, I keep coming back to it and yesterday I got completely waylaid, watching and listening to various versions of the song.

If you've never heard it, trust me, you want to and if it's been awhile, well, you definitely want to listen again and if, like me, you've been listening on and off for years, well then I don't need to explain myself at all, do I?

Hunters and Collectors original:

Hunters and Collectors (slow version):

Joss Stone and Paul Dempsey cover, live

Neil Finn cover:

Pearl Jam cover:

Paul McDermott, Richard Fidler, and choir (song starts @ 40 second mark):

Out of the Blue (Oxford all-male acappella group) cover:

Finn brothers in Sydney

Mark Seymour solo on Aussie TV, March, 2008 (song starts @ 1:13)

Luka Bloom Cover

You can also download Canadian singer-songwriter Allison Crowe's cover for free here
There are new reviews up for I Know It's Over if you want to check them out:

Reviewer X
The Page Flipper
S. Krishna's Books

Thank you, Steph, Chelsea, Tina and S. Krishna! So far November is shaping up to be a great month, despite the chill in the air.
A lesbian couple—Jane Currie and her partner, Anji Dimitriou—were attacked outside a school in Oshawa as they waited amongst other parents ten days ago.
"Which one of you two 'men' spoke to my kid? F------ dyke. Lesbians," (the assailant) said, spitting in Dimitriou's face. As she wiped her face, eyes closed, he punched her on the cheek and wound up again, slamming her backward into her truck. As Currie ran toward him, she remembers him shouting, "F------ dyke bitches," and punched her on the cheekbone so hard the skin burst apart, blood splattering.
So much hate. And why? What does Jane Currie and Anji Dimitriou's love take from anyone.

Many people that would never dream of inflicting such violence still think it's okay to stand in the way of gay marriage. Proposition 8. California. 52% of voters approved a state ballot to restrict the definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman.

Keith Olbermann's impassioned speech on Proposition 8 and love sums up my feelings with the utmost eloquence:

Yes. This is what it comes down to. People standing against love. Olbermann's heartfelt words flashed me back to an article on Jamaican gay activist Gareth Henry (this past year's Pride Toronto international grand marshal) I read last summer.

The Toronto Star piece mentions that to avoid dealing with his homosexuality, Gareth immersed himself in church life while growing up in Kingston.
But one sermon about the evils of homosexuality left him wondering, "What about the love? I had never heard the pastor talk about the love we have, the love we need."
What about the love?

What about declaring to the world that you want to share your life with the person you love and being allowed to call that sharing what heterosexuals call it? What about feeling that your love is respected as being as precious and wonderful as anyone else's?

What about the love?
What about the love?
What about the love?

Last winter I blogged about the rampant sexual harassment (and even assault) being aimed at girls in Ontario high schools. After four years of fighting for a Women and Gender studies course the fantastic Miss G_Project has succeeded in getting a pilot WGS course into high schools across Ontario.

The course “will benefit students of all genders and sexes, helping them dissect and then shed confining gender constructions. The course also has important implications for violence prevention.”

The founding members of the Miss_G Project (four Western University students) and those that banded with them in their campaign to fight, “the problems of sexism, homophobia, racism, classism and ablism that we had found so disturbing and disheartening in high school,” show what unwavering dedication can accomplish. This is a message to us all not to stand for bullying or harassment of any kind, to come together and stand against oppression in all its forms. Thanks for being such an inspiration, Miss_G!

Violence against women is an enormous problem around the globe. Approximately 1 in 3 women will suffer abuse and violence in her lifetime. UNIFEM are currently seeking 1 million signatures for the Say No to Violence Against Women campaign. If you want to take a stand against violence and for human rights sign the petition at any of the following places:

MySpace saynotoviolence

Facebook saynotoviolence

by November 24th. “On November 25, UNIFEM and Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman will present these signatures to the UN Secretary General.”

You can also grab a widget for your own social networking site:

SayNotoviolence widget

And while we're on the subject of activism, yesterday I learned via RedMum that Ireland has announced their intention to scrap a cervical cancer vaccine program to vaccinate twelve year old girls against the HPV virus that causes cervical cancer. Ireland has a dire record when it comes to cervical cancer deaths (in this country of just over 4 million people it kills approximately 70 women a year) and only recently began a national screening program. Below Health Minister Mary Harney basically states that Ireland currently doesn't have the money to do it all. If you want to let her know that the health of Ireland's young women is a priority to you check out Ray Darcy's page on Today FM where you can email her directly or sign this petition to restore the cervical cancer vaccination program in Ireland.

Worldwide cervical cancer kills more than 273,000 women each year. In 2006, there were 949 deaths from cervical cancer in the UK. In 2004 3,850 women in the U.S. died from the disease.

There have been no serious adverse reactions to the HPV vaccine reported in Canada. The vaccine offers almost complete protection against the two types that account for 70% of cervical cancers” which means it's important to continue getting regular pap smears to check for that other 30%!

***Update November 12th***

If you're in the Dublin area and want to attend this weekend's demonstration:

Defend Women's Health Rally: Save Cervical Cancer Services for Girls and Women.
Saturday, 15th November @ 2PM at the Spire, O'Connell Street.

I had some exceptionally good news last week! I Know It's Over has been nominated for the 2009 ALA Best Books For Young Adults list. It was also nominated for the 2009 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Leaders list at the end of April so as you can imagine I'm over the moon and keeping everything crossed. So many amazing books have been nominated for these lists that I'm thrilled I Know It's Over is in consideration.

To top it all off I discovered that Becky of Becky's Book Reviews has a wonderful review of I Know It's Over up on her blog along with a spotlight on me. Thank you, Becky! If I get any happier I'll be hanging out on the ceiling.

To say the election of Senator Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States is an inspiration to people around the world feels like an understatement. Today I believe anything is possible. We can save the environment, tyranny can be toppled, wrongs righted. Today we turn away from cynicism and towards hope and action.

Last night history was made. Today we celebrate.

Lately my thoughts have been increasingly with my neighbours to the south as they approach election day. Our own recent election was a disappointment, but not an unexpected one. I'm hoping the U.S. does better. In fact, around the globe we're pretty much all hoping U.S. voters do the right thing this time around. “Gallup Polls conducted in 70 countries from May to September 2008 reveal widespread international support for Democratic Sen. Barack Obama over Republican Sen. John McCain in the U.S. presidential election.” You can check out the details here.

To be honest, at this point my suspense has reached such a fevered pitch that it's difficult to think about anything else; I can hardly imagine the tension those of you in the States must be dealing with. But staying positive is the key to getting through these next few days, right?

So in hope and anticipation that the world will be celebrating the election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States on November 4th:

The Times They Are A-Changin', Tracy Chapman

Here Comes The Sun, George Harrison

One Lonely Degree prizesI hope everybody had a sugary-fantastic Halloween and I want to thank everyone who entered the One Lonely Degree advance reader copy contest!
Denise wins the One Lonely Degree prize pack, which includes: a signed advance reader copy of One Lonely Degree, a 12"x18" 1LD poster, a 1LD mousepad and the 2006 greatest hits CD ("A Decade") of main character Finn's favourite band, Our Lady Peace.

Congrats, Denise! I'll be emailing you for a mailing address later today.

* The contest question was: Finn considers this guy, “the most beautiful of all the Beautiful Boys and that's not just a physical thing.” Who is the lead singer of Our Lady Peace?

* Answer: Raine Maida.

May 26th, One Lonely Degree's release date, feels like ages away but in the meantime here's the trailer, which I've now added to my website also:

1LD jacket photograph © 2009 by Tracy Kahn
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