Archive for the ‘Political opinions’ Category


I just finished reading a provocative article in the May 2017 issue of CCPA (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives) The Monitor, which is called Views of Canada.  In it, an indigenous writer, Tara Williamson, writes about the current move toward reconciliation as just another attempt by white settlers to assuage their guilt at forcing assimilation on the first peoples of this land.  She writes “If reconciliation were actually about making amends from the past it would involve actions that accounted for the ongoing legacy of colonization.  We would be having conversations about land repatriation.  We would talk about dismantling structural inequities.  You would give us back our children:”.  (CCPA The Monitor, May 2017, p. 22)

Harsh words.  Hard for us settlers to hear and understand, let alone accept.  Land repatriation won’t happen.  No elected government would ever support that, and I don’t think any government anywhere (nor in recorded history) has ever repatriated land.  Armed struggle and revolution is the only way that land has been redistributed.  Yet there is truth in Williamson’s words.  So what now?

What would Jesus do?  Did he live in a land that had been stolen from its inhabitants?  Oh, yes, the Romans ruled Israel during Jesus’ lifetime.  Yet he said, “Love one another, as I have loved you.  Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Who is my neighbor?  What would it mean to love first nations people as we love ourselves?

How would we see land use and land ownership differently?  The early Jewish people believed they were stewards of the land, not owners.  Could we get back to that?  What would it take for our society to change from land ownership to land stewardship?  Would the banks suddenly stop collecting interest on mortgages?  Are the environmentalists who believe in land respect and stewardship in line with aboriginals?  Do aboriginals and environmentalists work together?

As I weeded my back yard I realized I would not give my land away, not to anyone, no matter what colour their skin or their needs.

“Terra Nullius” is one of the principles followed by the European settlers.  It means “land belonging to no one”.  That belief justified making the Indian tribes who lived on the land invisible, despite their initial welcome to newcomers and their principles of “sharing the land”.  The key words are “belonging to”.  Land ownership is at the heart of settler mentality and colonization.  After all, most of our European ancestors came to the new world as impoverished tenants with no resources, and they came because of the promise of free land upon which to start over.  Are we willing to look at that?  Is land ownership just another of the structural inequities that we must examine?  Could “terra nullius” also mean “land belonging to no one yet everyone upon it”?

Without a common understanding of the land and our place upon it, and without an agreement to live in love and respect for all our neighbours, reconciliation is just a word.

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I have just finished reading Speaking Out Louder: ideas that work for Canadians by Jack Layton.  This book is a revision of his first book Speaking Out Loud, so includes updates to 2006.  I learned a lot that I didn’t know about Jack previously.  His untimely death made him a hero to many who didn’t know him well before he passed, including me.  After reading his book I realize how much we have lost. Canada has been blessed by his presence and activism.  Indeed, our country has been shaped as a kinder gentler society primarily because of the New Democrats.  It has been their contributions under minority governments that brought in universal health-care, affordable housing initiatives, a national attack on poverty, improved child-care, rights of marriage extended to gays and lesbians, improved funding for advanced education, improved safety and protection for workers, and international peace-keeping initiatives.  That most of these programs have been cut or threatened by majority governments, both Liberal and Conservative, is tragic. .

Throughout the book Jack describes the roadblocks to progress that were placed by Liberal and Conservative governments, how they happened and who did what. His chapter “Two Seats Short” describes the house shenanigans around the Liberal budget a few short years ago.  I wonder what Jack would write about the last five years in parliament… sure wish he was still with us.

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Since writing the last post about using Social Media, I have become more diligent at going to my Facebook page, plus my three writing groups on Linked-In, and occasionally my Twitter account.  I prefer to just post websites and emails that I find relevant, and want to publicize.  Writing a blog requires more thought and time.  I’ve spent time working on my novel this past month, which is very satisfying.  When I went to Kelowna to stay for a week with my son’s family, I worked on my book while Ben was at Kindergarten.  That got me going again, and I’m enjoying the re-writes.  Feedback from a few friends advised me to try changing parts to third person POV, so I’m revising it extensively.  I managed to take time yesterday morning before a friend arrived for coffee, and completed 10 pages!  So I can do it; I just have to stay focussed.

Last Sunday I attended the Seed Event at the Convention Centre in Calgary.  It was wonderful.  Eight different speakers presented their knowledge and unique perspective on how we can prepare for living in the future. Sequoyah Trueblook opened the proceedings with prayer and chants.  David Wolfe shared tons of valuable information on nutrition, which led to long line-ups during the break for reishi & chaga mushrooms, chocolate, and healthy drinks.  AnneMarie Collette talked about her Peace Education curriculum in her classroom and district in New Brunswick.  Hon. Manmeet Bhullar talked about Truth in Politics, sharing his own journey of service which has led him to become one of our province’s youngest and most outspoken MLAs.  Elisabeth Fayt moved me deeply with her stories of Spiritual Leadership: At Work and in the World.  Gerald Celente amused me with his Bronx accent and blunt opinions about economic and political trends.  After the dinner break, Adam Dreamhealer guided all of us as we learned more about spiritual and energetic healing.  Then Deepak Chopra ended the day with an inspiring talk.  What amazed me about all these speakers was their ability to talk 30-120 minutes without referring to notes, keeping the audience of >2000 awake and alert.  Well, almost alert.  The guided meditations that Adam and Deepak led were wonderful, but I had difficulty opening my eyes after Deepak’s.  I’ll go on-line to www.uend.org to see if the podcast of Deepak’s talk is ready to download.

Thank you to the people involved at uend.org for organizing and delivering such a superb day.  I hope you receive many visits to your site and that your donations to end poverty worldwide get a big boost.  My mind and heart are expanded since participating in this event.  It’s all good.

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I have been busy as an activist lately, rather than working on my writing blog.  I have given several Healing Touch treatments, which are one-on-one (or two-on-one)sessions with people who have asked for help in reducing pain & speeding healing.  The other activity I enjoy is working with the Calgary Raging Grannies.  This balances out my healing work, because it is camaraderie with like-minded women who sing to bring about change.  I suppose it could be considered few-on-many, as it definitely isn’t one-on-one.  Sometimes we don’t know who will respond.  We are learning to videotape our songs, facilitated by artist/member Sandra Vida.  Her expertise and connections are enabling us to reach a larger audience.

Check out how much fun we are having!  This is the link:


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Yesterday’s paper had a short article about the Alberta Liberal Party’s response to cooperating with other progressive parties.  According to the Canwest News Service in the National Post, the ALP ‘may not run candidates in some long-shot ridings in the next provincial election to maximize resources, party leader David Swann says… will also strike deals with other parties to prevent splitting the progressive vote.  … could mean they won’t have candidates in some constituencies – including parts of rural Alberta.’

I have mixed feelings about this process, because I’m sure conservatives will interpret this as a desperation bid by the ALP.  The motion to cooperate passed by 81 to 64.  That’s a significant number of delegates who have a different vision for the party.  This must be the hardest on the members who have been with the Liberal party the longest time.  What is needed is wide-angle vision that surpasses party history.  The key word here is VISION.  It’s about perception.  If we see this motion as a last ditch grasp at electoral votes it will destroy us.  If instead our perception is about growing past our party limitations to embrace a greater good, then it will energize and enhance us.  Sometimes you have to let go of the good in order to be ready for the greater good. 

I hope the party leadership will take many deep breaths, listen to all, consider deeply-held values held by people in this province, and reach out to like-minded people.   The NDP have conviction and confidence in their policies.  They know who they are and what they stand for.  If the New Democrats hold onto their vision and allow ALP to consolidate and articulate theirs, then a truly vibrant collaboration can emerge.  Unfortunately the broad scope of the resolutions discussed at the ALP convention contained contradictory motions and made me wonder just what ALP stood for.  Stating the overall mandate of the ALP should help its members be more confident in knowing who we are and what we want.  It isn’t just about getting enough seats to form a government.  It’s about being an effective opposition that represents progressive ideas and keeps a conservative government accountable.  We can’t control who votes for us.  All we can do is know who we are, what we believe in, state it clearly, develop solid manageable plans to reach our goals, and see what develops.  Change happens when we are in charge from a solid base; when we truly know who we are and are consistent in our actions.  We will attract like-minded people then. 

We live in interesting times.  Societal change is sweeping across the planet, and the ALP is caught up in it.  Recent books like Marci McDonald’s Armageddon and Donald Gutstein’s Not a Conspiracy Theory are showing us the need to recognize the change and become an aware active part of it.  At the panel on Tuesday evening where Marci and Donald talked about their books (a Council of Canadians and Arusha co-sponsored event) the Unitarian church was packed.  The first speaker was a man who identified as a Baptist minister and attacked Marci personally.  Most of us turned off and away from him, but his motivation became evident near the end of his panicked diatribe: “We don’t have much time!”   He also is caught up in a sea of change, as fears about the future of our province and our world  accelerate. 

So to you members of the Alberta Liberal Party, take hope.  We don’t know what the outcome will be.  All we can do is be ourselves, know who we are and what we stand for, and communicate that strongly.  The time we have is now. We have to live politically and authentically in the present, according to our beliefs.  That means debate and argument, for sure.  It’s part of the process.

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Climate Change Act Passes

The motion put forth by the New Democrats passed in parliament because New Democrats, Liberals, and BQs voted together.  I just visited the site sent in an email from Jack Layton, which shows our MPs standing to be counted Yea or Nay on Bill C311.  Go to http://www.ndp.ca/C311-adopted to watch the video if you’re interested.  Because the vote passed Canada now has a climate change policy.  It has to be approved in the Senate however, so that will be worth watching.   How will the new Senate appointees (Conservative) vote?

Aside from wondering if Senate will sabotage this bill, watching the video made me reflect on how democracy works.  In spite of all the complaints and ineptitude and slow movement forward, it does work.  Each MP had to stand up to be counted.  At some point in time, you and I and everyone has to stand for a position.  Canadians are moving forward, one little step at a time, despite a minority government.  I think UK citizens shouldn’t be so afraid of a hung parliament.  Positive change can happen.

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Published in Cricket Magazine, May/June, 2008, Vol. 35, No. 9, pp. 18-20

I am the author of this article, which describes the work of Julia Ward Howe and Anna Jarvis, who each tried to establish Mothers Day during the late 1800s.  Julia Ward Howe wrote the Mothers Day Proclamation in 1870, and organized Mothers Day for Peace, an event which was recognized in Europe as well as eastern U.S.  Anna Jarvis worked to establish Mothers Day as a day to honour mothers.  Since both events were within 3 weeks of each other, in 1914 the U.S. Congress joined both to proclaim Mothers Day as the second Sunday in May.  Anna Jarvis’s mother Ann established Mothers Work Days in 1858, to teach women how to improve sanitation and prevent disease.  They made a significant difference in the health of their West Virginia communities, and were involved on both sides of the Civil War, working in the field hospitals to improve conditions. 

Read the entire article, geared to children 10-14, in Cricket Magazine.  Learn how the purpose of Mothers Day has changed from a day of action for peace and health, to that of honouring mothers at home.  This may be available on-line, at www.cricketmag.com 

Or, here is the article I submitted to Cricket Magazine.  It is slightly longer than the edited copy that appeared in Cricket magazine two years ago. 


By Sharon Montgomery


            If the founders of Mother’s Day saw how we celebrate this day, they would be dismayed.  Ann Jarvis, founder of Mothers Work Day in 1858, created a day for mothers to work for better cleanliness and health.  Because two of her children died before the age of three, Anna asked doctors in her Appalachian community to teach her how to prevent disease.  On Mothers Work Day, and in Mothers Day Work Clubs throughout her county, those mothers taught others how to prepare food properly and clean their homes.  This gradually improved the health of their  families. 

            Sadly, not all children survived.  Although Ann gave birth to eleven children by 1867, only four lived to adulthood.  Their lives were cut short, perhaps by childhood diseases of measles, smallpox, diphtheria, whooping cough, or tuberculosis.  Infection spread easily among the mining towns and small communities.  Today most of these diseases are controlled by childhood vaccinations. 

Death was a constant presence in the area because of the Civil War (1861-1865).  Taylor County was a major battlefield between the Union and Confederate armies.  Since both sides surrounded them, Ann declared Womens Friendship Day, convincing local mothers to be fair to both sides. They went into camps to treat the wounded and to teach sanitation and disinfection.  After the war, local leaders asked these women to teach former enemies how to get along.

Ann invited people to  meetings.  She dressed in Gray and another woman wore Blue (the army colors).  Ann explained why they were meeting and asked the band to lead them in singing Way Down South in Dixie.  The woman in blue asked the band to lead them in singing The Star Spangled Banner.  Then Ann and her friend shook hands, hugged each other, and asked everyone to do the same, while the band played Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot.  In this way Ann honored the grieving hearts of her listeners, and showed them how to move on to rebuild their lives. 

Julia Ward Howe, a mother, author and activist, was inspired by Ann Jarvis.  Julia wrote the words to the Battle Hymn of the Republic early in the war.  In 1862 she and her husband, Samuel Gridley Howe, joined the U.S. Sanitary Commission.  More men died in the Civil War from disease in prisoner of war camps and their own army camps than died in battle. The Sanitary Commission helped to reduce those deaths later in the war.

 After the war, Julia  wanted to bring an end to war and equality for all people, regardless of race, religion, gender or nationality.  She wrote the Mothers Day Proclamation, calling mothers to leave their homes for one day a year and work for peace in their communities.  Julia translated her proclamation into several languages and  traveled around the world, urging all to join in a Mothers Day for Peace.   On the second Sunday in June, 1872, the first Mothers Peace Day was celebrated in Boston, Massachusetts.  For the next thirty years Americans celebrated this day in June.

In 1876, Ann Jarvis’s daughter, a twelve-year-old named Anna, listened intently during her mother’s visit to her school.  After a prayer, Mrs. Jarvis wished that “someone, sometime, would one day establish a memorial mother’s day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life.” Years later, in May  1908, Anna Jarvis’s church, Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church, in Grafton, West Virginia, held the first Mothers Day Service.  Anna gave everyone a carnation to wear, white if a mother had died, red if she was still living. 

Anna wanted children of all ages to recognize and appreciate their mothers for their devotion and service.  At a large Mothers Day service in Philadelphia in 1908, Anna talked for 70 minutes, urging listeners “by words, gifts, acts of affection, and in every way possible, give her pleasure, and make her heart glad every day… if absent from home write her often, tell her of a few of her noble good qualities and how you love her.”  (Taylor).  Anna Jarvis asked many people to help get Mothers Day passed into law.  In 1913 Senate and Congress declared that Mothers Day would be celebrated on the second Sunday of May.   The first Mothers Day celebrated nationally was May 14, 1914.

 Julia Ward Howe did not lobby Congress to pass Mothers Peace Day.  She organized that day independently, and helped women become active politically.  Julia Ward Howe died in 1910, three years before the first national Mothers Day.

 American florists were happy that carnations were used to honor mothers.  Each year on Mothers Day more people gave flowers, cards and gifts.  Anna Jarvis was so angry at how commercialized the day had become that she started a lawsuit to stop a Mothers Day festival in 1923.  She wanted people to honor their mothers personally in word and act, not to buy something.   She protested against florists who overcharged for carnations.  Anna was even expelled   from a war mothers convention where women sold white carnations to raise funds.  “This is not what I intended,” Jarvis said. “I wanted it to be a day of sentiment, not profit.”

Most families use Mothers Day as one day to show appreciation for our mothers, often with breakfast in bed, flowers, cards, or going out for a family dinner.  The people who benefit the most are owners of florist and gift shops and restaurants, not the needy people in our communities.  Few people know that it was intended as a very different day.  Can you imagine the ghost of Ann Jarvis if she was taken to a restaurant on Mothers Day?  Do you think she might visit the kitchen to see how clean it was?

War and disease are with us still.  However, the efforts made by Julia Ward Howe and Ann Jarvis challenge us to continue their struggle.  How can we honour these courageous women who organized others to work for change?

What can you do?  Ask your mother what she wants most.  If she says, “For one day, I would love the whole family to get along and not argue”, then she is in tune with Julia Ward Howe’s proclamation.  When families live in peace, they take the first step toward peace on our planet. 

Is it possible to reclaim this lost cause?  Can we honour the founders as well as our mothers?  Some organizations hold Mothers Day Marches as fund-raisers for medical research.  Peace groups use Mothers Day for local peaceful protests. 

What could you do?  Think about it.  Don’t just send a card that you have bought.  Anna Jarvis’s obituary in 1948 said she was bitter about what Mothers Day had become.  She said “a printed greeting card was a poor excuse for the letter you are too lazy to write” (Wikipedia).  Ann Jarvis’s wish was that we remember the “matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life.”   That is why Anna created Mothers Day.  Tell your mother why you love her, and thank her for something she did to make you happy.  Write your own letter or make your own card, perhaps with red carnations!  Talk with her, then get out of the house and act for peace together. 

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