It's giddy times for Prime Minister Harper again—nope, he's not reprising his threat to cripple the NDP and Liberals by cutting public subsidies to federal political parties, this time he's returned to another one of his pet projects, taking an axe to women's equality.

Harper explains his 2 for 1 economic plan - which will enable the public sector to hire two women for the price of one man.If you haven't raked over the details of the Conservative government's budget bill (Bill C-10), you may have missed some things, like your rights to equal pay for equal work being tossed out the window and into Stephen Harper's dumpster.

Yes, at a time when the U.S. is moving forward with pay equity, Canada is stepping back. As political reporter Linda Diebel mentioned in her recent article Look what they're doing to women in the public service of Canada: “If the media wrote about any other group of people (you fill in the blank) being denied the right to even appeal to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, I'd like to believe there'd be an uproar in this country. Well, that's what they are doing. Right now. And there's no uproar. How can this be in Canada in 2009? It feels like we are going backwards. It doesn't feel good; it feels scary.”

Shameless Magazine have broken down some of the details of the proposed bill on their blog. Examples of proposed changes:

Pay equity will be something that is negotiated at the bargaining table rather than something that should be guaranteed.

Women who wish to make pay equity complaints must do so without support; in fact, unions who decide a claim is worth pursuing and try to offer representation or counsel will be fined $50,000.

Complaints will no longer be processed through the Human Rights Commission, but through the third party Public Service Labour Relations Board, supposedly to save time. This Board is a bargaining table facilitator, dedicated to resolving labour disputes, not to preserving human rights.

Bill C-10 would end the right of federal civil servants to take pay equity complaints to the federal human rights commission. Instead, such issues would have to be dealt with as part of the normal bargaining process between union and management.
Equality isn't equality if the government considers it a luxury worth supporting only during the good times, is it?

The Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act won't help the economy or save jobs. Government officials have admitted that there's no proof it will save the government any money. However, it will prevent women in the federal public sector from receiving equal pay for work of equal value. It has no place in the budget.

You can read more about the insidious aspects of Bill C-10 in this Toronto Star article: What you missed in that budget bill. The bill also includes creepy additional extras including “amending the Navigable Waters Protection Act to let the cabinet exempt certain kinds of rivers and lakes from regulations that limit damming or dumping” and wage caps (to both sexes) retroactive to 2006 which means some workers would face wage rollbacks.

So it's time to call Harper on his crap yet again (the guy never stops!).

* Sign the Public Service Alliance of Canada petition and letter campaign, urging MPs to remove the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act from Bill C-10.


* Fire off this letter (from the Canadian Labour Congress action centre) to your MP.

And let's remember these not so loveable Harper high jinks come the next federal election.
Thanks for the great beat the blahs tunes everybody sent my way for the February contest! All the amazing music really helped perk me up.

It would be remiss for me to raise the subject of positive songs without giving Monty Python's "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" a nod, so to close the February Blahs contest:

This morning I drew the names of two winners from a hat (actually it was a bowl but a hat just sounds better, doesn't it?). Congrats to April and Elinor! Each of them win a February Blahs prize pack consisting of:

a signed copy of I Know It's Over hardcover
a signed copy of One Lonely Degree advance reader copy
Almost Famous (DVD)
Ghost World (DVD)

I Know It's Over + One Lonely Degree + Almost Famous + Ghost World

'll be mailing the prize packs out to the winners shortly. Thanks again to everyone who entered and now I really need to bury my head back in The Lighter Side of Life and Death revisions...
Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Chapters and other online bookseller websites haven't updated their cover pictures yet but if you pick up a paperback copy of I Know It's Over when it comes out at the end of April this is what it will actually look like:
I Know It's Over

Pretty much the opposite of the hardcover, right? A moment of happy togetherness. And out in the bright blue sky.

I'm a big fan of the hardback cover but I like how fresh and bittersweet this looks in combination with the title.

Speaking of fresh, Rilla at rSquare -- rillas rant has written the most original review of I Know It's Over that I've ever read. Or I should say, Rilla AND Rilla have written the most original review of I Know It's Over that I've ever read. Because, of course, it's a joint effort between the two faces of Rilla, a format you'll be familiar with if you've visited her blog.

I also have to say that Rilla (both of them!) cracks me up and I almost died yesterday while reading an email from her and attempting to munch a rice cracker at the same time. I don't even know the Heimlich Maneuver so it was a scary, scary time but after reading this very generous review I completely forgive her.

Thank you, Rilla!

I tell you, though, next time I get an email from her I'm putting down the rice crackers before I read on! It's just the prudent thing to do.

Today I'm very happy to appear on Wondrous Reads answering Jenny's questions about I Know It's Over (she has a fantastic review of the book up there too!) and writing in general.

You can also see the new paperback cover for I Know It's Over there. It's very different from the hardcover (curious to know what everyone else thinks...) but I like it too and will put it on my blog here later in the week.

By the way, while you're over at Wonderous Reads as well as checking out the other reviews you might want to have a look at the US vs. UK covers for Uglies, The Hunger Games and the original UK cover art for Twilight. It's very interesting to note the differences.

Thank you, Jenny!

You'll be happy to hear I didn't transform into a zombie, although it was touch and go for awhile and I still haven't fully recovered. With my tastebuds messed up I find myself relying heavily on clementines and potato chips (lots of other things don't taste very appealing at the moment). In fact, it may well be this diet that saved me from zombiehood so I'm inclined to keep it up.

Anyway, I just received an editorial revision letter for The Lighter Side of Life and Death so updates from me will probably be a bit thin on the ground for awhile but I have to say I love all the amazingly positive music you guys have been sending for the February Blahs contest!

Here's another song that's been helping me battle the winter blues lately:

There's something so hopeful and joyous about that, “Say that you'll stay” line. And these guys are so cool that they actually covered Sigur Ros in Icelandic.

Speaking of joyous, it's hard for me to believe that anyone could watch the below video and want to steal happiness from these couples and families.

This is what love looks like.
If you're an American go to the Courage Campaign and sign their letter in support of same-sex marriage to the California Supreme Court.

Don't Divorce Us:

This morning I became aware of the case of Pamela Izevbekhai and her two young daughters. Currently living in Ireland, the Irish government wants to deport Pamela and her daughters to Nigeria, where they will face female genital mutilation.

Pamela “has already seen one of her daughters die from the after-effects of FGM, and fled the country because her husband’s family planned to forcibly mutilate her remaining two girls.”

Please, please visit the Let Them Stay website and print out a letter to the Irish Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr. Dermot Ahern, urging the Irish government to grant Pamela's family asylum. You don't have to be Irish to express your concern about Pamela's case. This is a matter of human rights.

You can find out more about female genital mutilation on the World Health Organizations' fact sheet. The information is very upsetting. This brutal practice has to be stopped.
February's been my least favourite month for quite a few years now. Sure it's short but it's also brutal. Warm memories of Christmas festivities seem like a distant past. Holiday lights have long been turned off but numerous dark days of winter still stretch out in front of us. It can be hard to believe that the time to stop shovelling the driveway and sit out in the sun will ever arrive.

So it seems to me that February is a great time to curl up on the couch and immerse ourselves in entertainment. To that end I'm giving away two February Blahs prize packs. The randomly awarded prize packs will include signed copies of both my novels as well as copies of two of my favourite coming of age movies.


signed copy of I Know It's Over hardcover
signed copy of One Lonely Degree advance reader copy
Almost Famous (DVD)
Ghost World (DVD)

I Know It's Over + One Lonely Degree + Almost Famous + Ghost World

To enter email me at ckkellymartin at hotmail dot com with your name, the subject line "February Blahs Contest" and the answer to the below question by February 21st. (Because the prize includes Region 1 DVDs this contest is open to residents of Canada and the United States only).

* What's a song that helps inspire you when you're feeling upset or blah? Below is one of my favourites:

Nina Simone: Ain't Got No/I Got Life

Good luck! Draw date is February 22nd.
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