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Stephen Harper’s June 2013 Cabinet and the Myth of Progress

by Grace Lore

When Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a much-anticipated cabinet shuffle in July 2013, many observers pointed to the increase in women on the front bench.  In the lead-up to the announcement, government representatives hinted widely that female representation would be a central story and Harper himself tweeted out during the announcement that he was “proud to be naming four new strong, capable women to the ministry” (CBC news story).   In fact, with two prominent Conservative figures no longer in cabinet—Calgary MP Diane Ablonczy who announced she would not running again and Senate leader Marjory LeBreton whose departure signaled the bad odour of Canada’s senior house—women’s number only increased by two to constitute a third of ministers.

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The Daughter of the Red Land—Madame Yan Li

by Huai Bao

A veteran of twenty-five years in Canada, a professor, novelist, literary prize winner, recipient of many awards and grants, and a finalist for Books in Canada’s First Novel Award, Madame Yan Li (1955-) is certainly not an ordinary woman. She has been called the “Jane Eyre of China” by readers and fans due to her inspirational life experiences—a “dreams-come-true” process of struggling for self-actualization (Zhao, 2012). Her novels also offer points of entry for understanding the relationship between female immigrants and Canadian feminism and between immigrants and the promise of Canadian democracy.

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“It Happened on My Campus”/”Bitches and Drinks”

by Lucia Lorenzi

Just two days ago, I published an article  (which was also republished on Rabble.ca) detailing my concerns about having heard misogynist lyrics being played loudly on campus during frosh week at UBC. The song, which was played at a booth run by an off-campus nightclub, right near the Student Union Building, described—repetitively—being here “for the bitches and the drinks.” I expressed my frustration at having to be exposed to such misogyny in this environment, especially when we know that sexual assaults (especially those facilitated by drugs and alcohol) and sexual harassment run rampant on so many post-secondary campuses.

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Pink Pachyderms: the US’s anti-choice women and the politics of fear (and privilege)

by Veronica Strong-Boag and Kelsey Wrightson

While the conservative war against choice is far from new, tactics have evolved. In 2008 Sarah Palin, the vice-presidential candidate for the Republican Party, used the phrase “pink elephants” to describe the newest face of the global war against women, namely female Republicans working within legislative institutions to limit reproductive freedoms. In the United States, conservative campaigners and lawmakers have successfully repealed fertility rights won by champions of women.

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Damp Tent Memoir: One Camper’s Analysis of Occupy Vancouver

by Andrea MacDonald

Nowhere are we more immersed in consumer culture than urban centers like Downtown Vancouver. Everywhere you look: emaciated inhuman models on bill boards and bus stops; business people in suits gripping smart phones; hurried shoppers clutching bags in both hands; baristas holding aching wrists with burnt fingers; people running for hurried transit, late for wherever they need to be. And all the while, hidden in alley ways and waiting for coins at store entrances, running a secret economy, the city’s homeless and street population – simultaneously ignored and hyper visible. It is in this context that 5,000 people gathered on October 15th to Occupy Vancouver (OV).

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Recognition and Respect

by Veronica Strong-Boag

Canada, like most of the world, has a generally dismal record in public commemoration.  Whatever the makeup of the individual country, women and indeed human diversity largely disappear.  Just check out the public spaces and buildings, the designated historic sites and monuments, the stamps, the entries in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography/Dictionnaire biographique du Canada, and, of course, national currencies everywhere. Absence is far from unimportant.  As McGill philosopher Charles Taylor has reminded us, recognition reflects respect and inclusion in the national imaginary.

In channeling the spirit of contemporary scholarship and popular interest, the website, womensuffrage.org, reminds us we can do much better.

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Youth and Hope

by Veronica Strong-Boag

It’s almost a truism to suggest that today’s youth disappoint.  Indeed elders in every age are notorious for complaints. In fact, youngsters have commonly at least equal reason to protest the world handed down to them. But that is another story. The argument here considers contemporary concern about youth apathy as a key component of the democratic deficit and then turns to evidence of a generation who give their elders plenty of reason for hope.

‘Habitual non-voting’, what Canadian political scientist Paul Howe describes in Citizens Adrift, has been strongly correlated with youth. Since the 2000 federal election when turnout slipped to about 60% (the decline had been especially noticeable since 1988), Canadians have been urged to confront special disaffection among those in their twenties and younger.

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Imagine That: Kathy Dunderdale, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador

by Tiffany Johnstone

In 2011 Kathleen (“Kathy”) Dunderdale (née Warren 1952-) became the 10th premier of Newfoundland and Labrador and the first woman to hold this position in the province. She was the sixth woman to serve as a provincial premier in Canada. Dunderdale replaced premier Danny Williams when he retired in December 2010. In April 2011, she became the leader of the Newfoundland Progressive Conservative Party, and in the provincial elections in October she won a majority government.

When Kathy Dunderdale first took office in December, 2010, all three major political parties in Newfoundland were led by women (including Liberal Yvonne Jones and NDP Lorraine Michael).

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Wendy Davis: Standing Tall Against the Anti-Choice Movement in Texas

by Kelsey Wrightson

Wendy Davis is an American lawyer and Democratic senator from Fort Worth, Texas. One of four children raised by a single mother, by 14, she was selling newspaper subscriptions and working part-time. She had the first of two daughters when she was 19 years old, subsequently working her way through Harvard Law School as a single mother.

Davis entered politics through the Fort Worth City Council in 1999, and served for nine years. In 2008 she was elected to the Texas Senate, District 10, narrowly defeating male Republican Kim Brimer. Upon entering a House dominated by Republicans and men, she began ruffling the feathers of conservative colleagues, labeling the Senate environment hostile to women and proposing multiple amendments to many bills. Davis serves as the Vice-Chair on the Senate Select Committee for Open Government, and is a member of the Committees on Economic Development, Transportation, Veteran Affairs and Military Installations.

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