Thursday, September 21, 2023

The Spat With India

 So, India is expanding its temper tantrum over Canada expressing concerns over the suspected role of the Modi government in the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.  To a certain extent, this is a “meh, so what?” kind of move, but on other fronts its more significant and an indicator of the Modi government’s larger agenda.  

One could infer from the level of outrage coming out of India that in fact the Canadian government’s expressed worries that in fact the allegations have some merit.  It’s very much a case of “India doth protest too much” - if they really had nothing to do with this Nijjar’s murder a few months ago, then why such a public temper tantrum? 

Part of it, no doubt, has to do with the Khalistan movement to create a “Sikh homeland”. The idea of a Sikh homeland isn’t new - it’s been rattling about for decades, and was very much the driving force behind a bombing launched from within Canada back in the 1980s. I don’t particularly want to spend a pile of time rehashing the Air India bombing here, I mention it to draw attention to the somewhat fraught relationship it created within Canada regarding the Khalistan movement.

Canada’s government might well be more reactive here in part because of the fallout from the Air India bombing - which many still feel has never been fully resolved in our courts.  There have been a few cases brought to trial, but many in the Canadian public felt the outcomes were deeply unsatisfying.  Canada would be naturally sensitive to any action which would appear to be an escalation of violence relating to the Khalistan movement taking place within its borders.  A repeat of the Air India bombing is hardly a desirable thing.

I won’t attempt to go deep into the Khalistan movement and the politics around it - I simply lack the background knowledge to do the subject justice.  What I can remark upon is the Modi government’s propensity for passing arbitrary laws with deliberately discriminatory consequences.  The BJP party is described as “Hindu Nationalist”, and over time we have also observed Modi becoming increasingly authoritarian.  

To be frank, ever since Trudeau’s disastrous trip to India in 2015/16, my trust of the Modi government has been very low. It was fairly obvious that Modi participated in setting a political booby trap engineered by Harper through the IDU.  Subsequently, numerous second-rate conservative politicians have attempted to polish their image with junkets to India as a result of the Modi government inviting them to visit.  So, on that alone, I am suspicious of the Modi government’s actions here.  

It’s entirely possible that this is a setup so that the CPC here can spend the next year or so making itself out to be “the reconcilers” where India is concerned.  India gets to play the “offended party” with its nose out of joint, and effectively cuts the current Canadian government out of the picture, making any diplomatic progress impossible.  Then the CPC can rail on about how Trudeau simply doesn’t have the standing on the world stage to be taken seriously …blah blah blah… I think you get the picture. 

Then, when in 2024/5 when a new government is elected (presumably CPC, or so the plotters imagine), India suddenly stops being hostile … mostly because an IDU-aligned government is in power, and the newly elected Conservative government gets a nice little “slam-dunk” win on the world stage to set its credentials in.  

From Modi’s perspective, it’s a win too, because he gets to deal a blow to a movement that he sees as a political danger with relative impunity.  

That might be a bit of a reach, but I don’t think it’s all that far off the mark. We already have evidence of close ties between Harper and Modi, and it’s fairly clear that they’ve collaborated on schemes to bolster conservative fortunes in Canada.  

[Update:  21/09/23 17:00]:  Well, it seems that Canada does have “the receipts” that implicate the Indian government.  The whole thing just got a lot harder for the CPC to leverage credibly. 

Monday, September 11, 2023

The CPC Went Full SoCon

The brief summary of yesterday’s policy votes at the CPC 2023 convention was published by CBC. Go there first, and read it - but I really think they missed more than a few things, so this is going to be a bit more of a deep dive into the policies they passed and how much worse for women and minorities it really is.

Saturday, September 09, 2023

This Afternoon We Find Out

This afternoon, we find out which of the 50+ policy resolutions get adopted by the CPC.  Back here, I reviewed 3 policy resolutions in context, and questioned just how “broad” the conservative tent really is.  If any of those 3 resolutions is adopted, we can safely conclude that the CPC continues to tilt at the windmills of women’s rights, 2SLGBTQ+ rights, and in particular transgender rights. 

Make no mistake about it, by openly attacking transgender rights, the CPC is lining up to attack a whole host of social issues, ranging from education to women’s healthcare.

Something I want to emphasize is that the current focus of the political right on transgender women has enormous negative implications for women as a whole.  In particular, it represents a return to policing women’s bodies and appearance through peer pressure.  If you don’t look sufficiently “feminine” by someone else’s standards, you will find yourself challenged when you try to use a washroom in a public space - and by “not looking sufficiently feminine”, that could be as simple as wearing a bunch of old clothes when you pop out of the house to pick up some new paint brushes while you’re in the midst of painting your home. Whoops - you’re not dressed in the latest fashions, your hair isn’t done, and you *gasp* forgot your makeup!  I assure you that there will be someone who decides that means you’re not really a woman.  

I wish I was joking.  I’m not.  Stereotypes like the so-called Stepford Wives exist because in numerous religious subgroups, women are not merely expected to be “obedient to their husbands”, but they come under enormous scrutiny and pressure to conform (and while I write this from a generally Anglo-Christian perspective, these same pressures exist in many cultural milieus).  The ultimate goal here is very much to return women to the social role that they were forced into prior to the civil rights era, and potentially even pre-personhood where biology - specifically the ability to bear children - defines womanhood entirely. 

Transgender people present a fundamental threat to that worldview because they demand a separation of “the body” and the social roles associated with that body.  A core demand of feminism has always been autonomy, and in particular bodily autonomy.  Women have long sought the means to control their own fertility, but it has only been in the last 6 decades or so that the tools to do so have come to exist in a reasonably safe form.  To many, the changes that resulted from this autonomy, ranging from women having careers (and demanding equality in the workplace), to having actual public discourse about things like reproduction, have been an existential threat not only to existing power structures, but to their own sense of security.  The old models of “dad goes to work, mom stays home and looks after the household” have given way to much more complex structures that make old biblical adages about “the woman shall submit to her husband” very difficult to place in the modern world. 

Just as the recognition of sexual diversity has challenged the idea that “marriage” only exists for the purposes of producing children (a very utilitarian concept), or that sex only exists between “man and woman”, the mere existence of transgender people challenges previously rigid categories of “masculine” and “feminine”.  That is something which more socially conservative elements in our society have long regarded as an existential threat because not only does it require deconstructing and separating the social and the biological aspects of being human, it undermines centuries old scriptures that they hold as “divine truth”.  

That’s the whole problem here.  We have an entire segment of the population that is struggling to cope with change, and are completely unable to reconcile the “truth” of their faith with the world we exist in.  They desperately seek to roll things back to a “simpler time” where absolutes of the past still functioned - and they can only do that by erasing hard fought rights and freedoms.  

It may seem easy to look at it and say “well, they’re just going after trans people”, but spend any amount of time poking through the content on sites like LifeSite News and others that the Social Conservative set control, and it’s quite clear that if they were to ever gain actual power, a rollback of rights and freedoms across the board is their plan … in some cases think in terms of “yeah - mandatory church attendance” type stuff.  

This afternoon’s votes will tell us how much influence the SoCon right has over the CPC.  My guesstimate based on what I’ve seen over the last 20 years is that the answer is “far too much”.  Remember, this is the party which only grudgingly removed its opposition to same sex marriage in 2015 or 16 (and it did not endorse it - just removed their opposition to it), and coming up on the last election refused to admit that global warming is a thing. 

Thursday, September 07, 2023

What Exactly Is A “Broad Coalition Of Conservatives”?

This morning, on the news one of the headline stories was about the CPC policy convention, where they are going to debate a range of policies, and two of them are outright eliminationist anti-transgender crap. (We’ll come back to that) One of the party talking heads said some inane drivel about the CPC being a “democratic party with a broad coalition of conservatives”. 

Besides being a somewhat silly attempt to define the party as “big tent”, what does the term really mean? It certainly doesn’t mean inclusion - the CPC continues to pander to extreme libertarians whose idea of “economic policy” is basically “let them eat cake”.  So if you’re somewhere in the middle and lower income ranges, they sure as hell aren’t including you - your pockets are the first ones they are going to pick through user fees, means testing programs, etc.  They also continue to be very much in the thrall of social conservative movements that want to exclude people who don’t fit into a particularly narrow idea of the world (usually one based on a bad reading of Old Testament texts).  So yeah, if you’re a woman, a member of the 2SLGBTQ community, or you belong to one of those “other religions”, don’t think for a moment that you’re safe in that party - you aren’t.

I did take a look through the CPC policy proposals, and there are some doozies in there.  Let's go exploring, shall we?

Tuesday, September 05, 2023

"Return To The Office" Policies

So, now that we are 3 years past the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a sizeable number of companies are beginning to demand people "be back in the office".  For many good reasons, workers are pushing back.  

Here's the first thing about "back to the office" policies.  The vast majority of them are little more than a return to "how do I know work is being done if I can't see a bum in a seat every day?" management.  While there are definitely business contexts where the work requires someone to be physically present (e.g. you're assembling physical parts on an assembly line, you work in retail, etc.).  

So-called "bum-in-a-chair" managers argue that people being out of the office means that problems don't get solved as quickly, there's less opportunity for "collaboration", "communication" etc.  Yet, they ignore that for 3 years, a lot of people worked remotely just fine, and online platforms that facilitate communication worked out pretty well.  

Does managing a team that works "by remote control" turn out to be different from managing a team of people in an office?  Yes, in some respects it is.  If you're a manager, at the end of the day, it's still your job to bring people together when needed, and to help your team achieve their objectives.  

What companies need to acknowledge and deal with is the fact that people are asserting their right to a degree of self-determination in their work.  Over the last few decades, workplaces have increasingly erased any sense of personal identity in workspaces.  Cubicle farms are the beginning of the fall, and so-called open plan offices with open desk arrangements, or worse yet, unassigned "hotel" desk arrangements mean that people going to the office feel absolutely no sense of ownership of their workspace. 

Would you want to go in to sit at a random desk daily where you aren't even allowed so much as a couple of ornaments to make the space feel a bit like it's your own? I wouldn't.  

Then there is the hellish environment that these spaces create.  There's constant noise and activity, and for anybody who has to concentrate to accomplish their job, it's a losing battle.  Out come the noise cancelling headphones - anything to create some kind of barrier between yourself and the chaos around you. 

I don't care what gimmicks you add to make the workplace seem "fun" - whether that's games rooms, cafes, or "privacy booths".  At best you're putting a bandage over the sucking chest wound that is your workspaces suck.

Workers are pushing back because when they work from home, they have some control over their workspace, they have a bit more privacy than sitting at seemingly endless rows of desks with no privacy, and a world of distractions.  

From a worker's perspective, they've already shown that they are perfectly capable of being productive without sitting in the office 8 hours a day - for the last 3 years no less. Workers are asserting a very simple demand for a degree of reasonable autonomy and control over when and how they do their jobs.  They have learned that not only can they do most, if not all of their jobs without "going into the office", they are realizing that their quality of life is better. 

If businesses want people "in the office" then things need to change. Workspaces need to become something people want to go to. They have to be places that people actually want to experience. 

Second, plan on compensating people for the time they spend commuting to / from your workplace.  Yes, that should be paid time - if I have to spend half an hour to an hour each way getting to and from work - especially when the alternative is a few seconds walk down the hall at home, then yes, some compensation is justified.  IMO, we should be insisting that employers pay people for commute time and costs regardless  of the work.

The Cass Review and the WPATH SOC

The Cass Review draws some astonishing conclusions about the WPATH Standards of Care (SOC) . More or less, the basic upshot of the Cass Rev...