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The Interdisciplinary Work of Lyss England

Posts tagged politics

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I am a big believer that if you create time and space and you set an intention, powerful things can happen. What does it mean to create time and space? To me, it simply means scheduling in time dedicated to a specific thing intentionally.

Here’s an example: A few years ago, my friend and I attended a Take Back the Night rally where we didn’t feel the style of the rally represented our fight against rape culture. The next year, we decided to start our own Take Back the Night rally that resonated with us more and to see if just maybe it might resonate with other people too. We reached out to some other friends who we knew were invested in fighting against rape culture, set a time and date, and booked a space in town where anyone who wanted to could sit in a room and talk about what a really effective and empowering Take Back the Night rally looked like to us. Time, space, intention.

We got pretty specific about the time, space, and intention around the event itself. We asked questions such as “what time of evening will the most people be able to attend? “What time is dark enough to stay true to the message of the event without causing unnecessary accessibility concerns?” and “what is our take-away message?”. We wanted it to feel empowering and we definitely didn’t want people going home feeling like their insides had been ripped out of their bodies. We wanted people to feel safe no matter who they were- and especially if they had experience feeling unsafe or uncomfortable in town. This event was for them (us). This influenced the decisions we made about where the event was held, the style of performances, the people performing, the route of the walk, the food and beverages we had available, and a million other details. It sounds like a lot of work, and in a way it was, but through collectively coming together, a group of random people in this small town created a brilliantly successful event. If I didn’t have a skill to move the event forward, someone else at the table did. If someone else at the table had money and no time, they bought something for the event and stopped coming to meetings. If someone said something that showed they were missing a perspective, someone else could say “hey, what about considering this…”. Time, space, intention.

A short five months ago, someone who has since become a close friend reached out to me and suggested I start a radio show. He’d heard me talking about something on the radio and thought I sounded pretty good. He also recognized the need for more young, female voices on air. A good man, this guy. To be honest, I’d been thinking about it for a while. The few times I’d been on air promoting something or discussing something with a regular host I liked, I’d found that I enjoyed broadcast media. It was a transferable skill from theatre in a lot of ways and it also meant that I had an excuse to do one of my favourite things- create time and space. The intention was to find out what people in my community were excited about and how it contributes positively to their lives.

So, I pitched my show, The Nothing Exists Radio Hour. “Nothing Exists” refers to the idea that nothing is what it is in and of itself. Each individual’s perception is shaped by their unique experiences, informed by their subject positions in a social world. What we each choose to do with those experiences is what makes us who we are. When we intentionally give time and space to peoples’ stories, we learn a lot from each other.” I wrote a super comprehensive proposal and had two meetings with the guys at the helm and it all got started. The conversations were so cool. It was rad. People were listening.

I had to field a few situations where I feel I was being given an unnecessary run-around, but I figured maybe it was just a case of people working differently than me. I did get the sense that the perception of me was that I was a crazy bitch, but I wasn’t sure why they would think that, other than the fact that the simple idea of creating time and space was overwhelming to them. And I guess I look kinda weird and I call myself a feminist and some people have a different understanding of what that means than the way I mean it. Then, rules I didn’t know existed started gradually popping up. And the accusations of things I had not said or done. Things came to a head recently, and it became impossible to deny that there was some predisposed (and inaccurate) ideas about who I am and how I operate going on in this very male-dominant space.  

It had been communicated to me that it was my responsibility to book my own guests and that if there was someone I could interview for the station or the station thought I’d be good at interviewing, they’d send along relevant information. So when the municipal candidates were all officially announced, I posted in the local politics groups I’m active in that if any of the candidates wanted to come on my show, I’d love to chat with them.

Something that is important to know about me is that I love municipal politics. I think they’re fascinating. I love picking apart policy and I love being active in building the community I live in. When I reached out with that post, I didn’t see it as a straight up political interview as much as a conversation between two people about something the guest is excited about.  I received a very positive response and almost instantly booked the entire amount of time I had left on my once-a-week show. The candidates who reached out to me were reaching out to me because they were either people who knew me or people who specifically wanted to reach out to the demographic of people who listen to my show.

Then, I received a call from the station informing me of a policy they had introduced that conflicted with the many interview I’d already booked. I explained that the interviews were booked already, but was told that each candidate was limited to one 15 minute spot. I asked for the reasoning behind this policy, I was told that it was so that all candidates were treated fairly. I asked why only 15 minutes and didn’t receive a real answer. The response to me questioning the policy was very much ‘we don’t have to explain this to you, you just have to do it’. After a second phone call from yet another man involved with the station where my questions about the policy weren’t clarified, I explained my position as follows:

1. I do not feel as though limiting candidate interviews to 15 minutes unless they can afford to pay for for an ad (that doesn’t actually give insight to a candidate’s position on relevant topics) is ethical. This does not create a fair opportunity; in fact, it’s essentially extortion. This is, as I understand it, not within the station’s mission and mandate.

I understand that the station is in desperate need of money. However, this is not an appropriate fundraising opportunity. This is an excellent opportunity to sit with a person who may be interested in purchasing ad space face to face to answer questions and close the sale. Limiting an interview to 15 minutes restricts the amount if information accessible through the station to the community.

When CBC covers elections, they state that all candidates are given equal opportunity to airtime, but that this does not necessarily equate to equal airtime. Everyone has equal opportunity to reach out to the station to be guests on the shows whose listeners they want to target.

2. I do not feel as though altering the format to fit the station’s new policy is in integrity to my show at this time. If this policy had been introduced and communicated to all show hosts earlier (specifically, before I’d booked guests), I would have been more inclined to find a creative way to maintain the integrity of my show while honouring the stations policy, even if I didn’t agree with it fully from an ethical point of view.

So I proposed that I take my show off the air during the time I do interviews with candidates and simply promote them through the other various channels where I distribute it. I let all the candidates I had booked know that after running into some conflict, my interview would no longer be airing on the radio, but it would be distributed through other channels and that I was happy to continue with the interview we had booked if that was agreeable to them. I also explicitly said that this meant that the candidates would still be free to do an interview with the radio station and that I would be happy to hook that up if they needed a hand with that. I exhaled a dramatic sigh of relief- thank goodness this bullshit is dealt with.

Until my partner came home to let me know that yet another man from the station had approached him while he was working to let him know that I was spreading misinformation. I was telling candidates that they had to pay for their interviews and that’s illegal and what I was saying needed to be nipped in the bud. My partner had read all of the communication around this subject (when I was pulling out my hair going “what am I missing here?!”) and knew this wasn’t the case. He also knew this had nothing to do with him and that it was completely inappropriate for this man to approach him about something to do with his partner. So he told him that this had nothing to do with him and he should probably talk to me directly about it.  

Upon hearing about this, I emailed the man who had approached my partner and clearly and bluntly informed him, “do not ever approach my partner at a work event again to discuss things that have nothing to do with him. That is incredibly unprofessional, sexist, and straight up insulting.” I asserted my boundaries, and not surprisingly, this was uncomfortable for the person on the receiving end of my email. He informed me that he was not sexist.

And then, I was reprimanded by the station manager. I was told that it’s unprofessional for volunteers to speak to volunteers that way.

At no point did any of these people ask for any clarification from me about where I was coming from. All I wanted to do was create time and space for these candidates to talk about what they were excited about in the community and about their platform. If they wanted to have that conversation with me, I wanted to have that conversation with them. So I opened up the space, and people wanted to occupy it. And then I was told about a policy that just didn’t make sense to me. And when I tried to understand the reasoning behind the policy, I was basically told that it didn’t matter if the policy made sense or if I was cool with it or if it conflicted with commitments I had already made.

So I clarified my position calmly and moved forward.

Then, today, I become informed by the station manager that two men from the station (who I saw last night and who said nothing to me then about this) have complained that my interviews were still posted on the website. I was told that that went against the resolution agreement (not true, the agreement was not to air the interviews on the station and not to promote it through the station). I was again accused of spreading misinformation to candidates, which I never did. Again, it was a case of people making assumptions and not asking directly for clarification.

I’m probably missing a million things here and am totally wrong about others. The problem is the way I was treated simply not for doing what I was told without question.

So this leads me to wonder- what is so threatening about a young woman who is clear about her intention to simply create time and space and who doesn’t just do things because she’s told to?

I love following politics, but I’m an anarchist. I believe in people using their individual skills to come together to make things work. I believe in people finding strategies that work and taking the steps forward to make things happen. I also believe in doing things because they make sense, not just because someone tells me to. I want people in my circles to give me reasons to believe I’m wrong or I’m missing something because I believe it’s worth the work and temporary discomfort to expand my understanding of this world and the people in it.

I also believe, to my fucking core, that I am worthy of respect. And apparently that is exceptionally threatening when it upsets the power dynamics in the male-dominated space that is broadcast journalism in small-town Ontario. The good news is that I believe making time and space for people to talk about what you’re into and how it keeps them well is worth the work and temporary discomfort it’s taking to expand and build this space I’m occupying with my show and the station. It still, ultimately, is a thing that feels good.

 

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Check out my interview with Les Andrews where we chat about:

– Les’ favourite things about Port Hope
– What Les is most proud of accomplishing over his last 4 years on council
– What else Les is involved with locally
– Les’ passion for celebrating volunteers
– Broadening his platform compared to last term
– Affordable housing for Port Hope
– How Les thinks council could approach any claims of sexual harassment against councillors differently in the future
– Les’ thoughts on the waterfront clean up
– Making our roads safer
– Making Port Hope more accessible for seniors
– Les’ position on 56 Ward St.
– Ruth Clark Center
– Lakeland Place
– Engaging youth in the community
– Les’ thoughts around community policing
– Les’ thoughts on the Port Hope citizens association
– Debt repayment and the recent council meeting

Featured Tunes:
Robbie Burns Day by Jim Yates and friends
Moment of Weakness by Bif Naked
Read My Mind by The Anti-Queens
Endless Chain by Tanika Charles

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Check out my interview with Nicole Beatty! We chat about:

  • Nicole‘s favourite things about living in Northumberland County
  • About Nicole’s career in community development and resource development management
  • What lead Nicole to run for council
  • Nicole’s experience with being a young women running for town council
  • Nicole’s vision for economic development in Cobourg
  • Nicole’s vision for culture and tourism in Cobourg
  • Nicole’s vision for sustainability in Cobourg (including the inflatable floating playground at Cobourg Beach)
  • Nicole’s vision for affordable housing
  • Nicole’s vision for engaging youth in the community (including all-ages show venues and a youth advisory council)
  • Nicole’s advocacy work
  • What community looks like to her
  • Nicole’s favourite Cultivate moment ever
  • Cannabis legalization, the role of municipal government in managing it, and looking to Indigenous communities to learn from them.
  • What song Nicole is learning on uke

 

Local Organizations Nicole is Associated With:

Featured Tunes:
Born to Love You by Ellen Torrie  (Click her name to check out her rad new website!)
I’ll Wait by Sweet Alibi 
Burn the Rapists, Not the Witches by Backyard Riot (From their brand new, locally written and recorded EP!)
Bro Hymn by Pennywise

 

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Check out my interview with Wendy Meadows! We chat about:
– Who Wendy is, what she does, and why she wants to run for council
– Her band, Wendy Meadows Trio
– The importance of transparency and communication in council
– What a young woman in the community can expect from women on council
– Wendy’s vision for sustainable social and economic growth
– Wendy’s thoughts on aging in Port Hope and the importance of longterm health care
– Her thoughts on West Beach and the waterfront
– Wendy’s vision for more affordable housing

Correction: At 27:18, Wendy refers to WWII when she meant to say WWI

Featured Tunes:

Running by Jully Black
Walking By Myself by Suzie Vinnick
Crystal Pistol by Chloe Watkinson
Paper Thin by RVIVR

May 18 LIVE on Northumberland 89.7.

LISTEN HERE if you missed it live!

Check out my interview with Jeff Wheeldon on Northumberland 89.7 FM Small Town Radio! We’re gonna talk about things like:
– Democratic deficits
– Strategic voting
– Why he’s into the Green Party
– Balancing his campaign with parenting
– His social media prescence
– Affordable housing
– Basic income guarentees
– Making mental health services part of OHIP+
– The Green vision for legalizing cannabis
– The interconnection of everything

*BONUS* Jeff tells a dad joke.

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Jeff Wheeldon is a real estate agent in Brighton, where his family has been building community since 2016. Jeff chose to enter politics as a way of serving others, and feels at home in the Green Party where service is prioritized over self and constituents take priority over party. He is inspired by the core values of the Global Greens movement, and the way that elected Greens conduct themselves with integrity and openness to working across party lines.

He was originally drawn to the Green Party after reading Elizabeth May’s book Losing Confidence in 2009. In 2014 he was the founding CEO of the Green Party Provencher Electoral District Association, and ran in that riding in the 2015 federal election. In 2016 he joined the Green Party of Canada’s Shadow Cabinet as International Affairs Critic, a role he still serves in today.

Jeff holds a Master of Arts degree in Theology, specializing in ethics. He has travelled widely, and has worked in trucks and factories as well as higher education administration and real estate. Jeff joined the Rotary Club of Brighton in early 2018, and volunteers with St. Paul’s Anglican Church whenever he can. In 2016-17 he initiated and engaged with a committee of church leaders in another denomination to develop policies and programs promoting environmental stewardship as church practice across the country. Jeff is an avid reader and writer, and devoted father of two beautiful boys.”

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Featured Music

 Exorcise by City Mouse

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Broken Brain by The Murderburgers

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Adventures in Zoochosis by Propagandhi

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First, some background…

I am a person who lives with several chronic illnesses and who manages these illnesses through diet, lifestyle, and using cannabis.You can read, in detail, about me discovering the benefits of cannabis here.  I’m a person who initially became a medical cannabis patient under the the MMAR  and then the MMPR. I’m also a person who works full time in the cannabis industry.

I am a person who has, at one point, received a letter from Health Canada telling me I’d no longer have the option to grow for myself.

I never received a letter when some of this legislation was found unconstitutional .Then came the ACMPR. That’s where medical patients sit now. Confused? Here’s a timeline.

The current legislation (assuming you’re not going to actually go through to read all of those links) relies heavily on cannabis production through Licensed Producers (LPs) to supply patients with their medicine. The mass scale of these grows inevitably results in lower quality medicine, due to the complexity of the nature of the plant. There are several reasons for this, one of them being that LPs, by design, are simply not meant to operate in integrity to the plant (or to the benefit of the patient). The object of an LP is to make money in this booming industry, effectively pushing aside “grey” industry experts and patients. In fact, unless you have some investors with major money and influence, and can’t even start an LP. You can really see how this plays out practically when you consider the number of LP owners or investors who are either former cops or politicians.

It’s not uncommon for patients who rely on LPs to have their medicine recalled or unavailable. With the introduction of the recreational legislation, there will be even more pressure on these publicly owned monopolies that already struggle to keep up in a rapidly growing medical market, let alone a recreational one.


Now, some context:

Here are the party’s platforms regarding cannabis legislation:

Liberals:

  • Plan to regulate the sale of cannabis through the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation (basically the LCBO)
  • The start up cost is projected to be $48 million and it’s projected to generate a net income of $100 million during the 2020-21 fiscal year

Progressive Conservatives:

  • Although the PCs haven’t released a formal platform, Doug Ford has stated the following:
    • “We’re going down a path that no one really knows.I have been open to a fair market and letting the markets dictate. I don’t like the government controlling anything no matter what it is…. I’m open to a free market and I’m going to consult with our caucus…. I don’t believe in the government sticking their hands in our lives all the time. I believe in letting the market dictate.”
    • “we got to be super, super, super careful” in regulating the cannabis market.

NDP:

  • Andrea Horwath has said:
    • “We don’t want valuable farmland paved over,” said Horwath. “Neither do we want to see it go to massive marijuana crops. We need to see regulation and quality control. People need to know what it is they are selling; people need to know what it is they are buying.”
    • “I don’t know if 40 dispensaries will achieve their goals of taking it off the black market”

Green Party:

  • Regulating and licensing small businesses and dispensaries to sell cannabis in a safe and controlled way
  • Ensuring tax revenues from cannabis sales are used to fund education, mental health and addiction programs
  • Conducting a pilot project to test the private retailing of cannabis by small businesses alongside the LCBO’s new stores during the first two years of legalization

And my critique…

Only 2/4 parties have a clearly defined plan around cannabis legislation, which leads me to believe that the Liberals and Greens are the only parties that understand

a) the vast potential of the cannabis industry

b) the importance of managing medical and recreational access to cannabis for medicinal reasons and also to reduce the black market, and thus, various forms of violence that include criminalizing individuals.

The problem with the Liberals’ approach is that there is opportunity and increased access in the privatized cannabis industry- especially when regulated in addition to publicly owned grows and dispensaries. Relying solely on publicly owned production facilities will put more pressure on Canada’s already flawed LPs. This is bad news for patients who rely on LPs. It also doesn’t leave appropriate space for Indigenous communities, who have exceptionally valuable knowledge about what works in the cannabis industry in a way that centers patients and the plant itself to participate in an industry they’ve had a significant role in building and a cultural right to engage in. 

Similarly, activists (many of whom are patients!) are being persecuted and excluded from the industry they have built through Liberal “legalization”. It’s no secret that people of colour and people with disabilities are disproportionately criminalized for their participation in a grey or black cannabis industry they’re forced to participate in because of the structuring of the Liberal conception of cannabis legislation. In fact, “black people with no history of criminal convictions have been three times more likely to be arrested by Toronto police for possession of small amounts of marijuana than white people with similar backgrounds, according to a Toronto Star analysis.”.

It should be noted, that none of the parties’ platforms include anything regarding pardoning peoples’ prior criminal convictions related to cannabis upon legalization.

The Green’s approach makes the most sense. That being said, I’d like to take the opportunity to briefly elaborate on and provide feedback on the Green’s platform related to cannabis legislation:

“The Green Party believes that the distribution of Cannabis in Ontario is an opportunity to create jobs and boost local business. Allowing for a mix of public and private vendors will allow us to serve many more locations and eradicate black market sales.”

I agree with this. I think it comes down to mixing private and public vendors, so as to increase points of access as much as possible. These multiple points of access are very important-

a) Private businesses with appropriate regulations. Why not create a group of diverse industry experts to brainstorm around what regulations are reasonable to go from there?These regulations ought to specifically provide reasonable space for Indigenous participation in the industry. It also ought to include legislation around smaller-scale craft grows (with multiple tiers containing appropriate regulations according to the size of the grow).

b) Publicly owned businesses (ie. LPs) with a MAJORLY revamped set of regulations that would allow for the plant to be managed in a way that maintains its integrity. This means no pesticides and the use of sustainable practices. 

 

c) The ability for people to grow for themselves with an open genetics market/regulations around restricting genetics. Look no further than California to see what happens when you allow monopolization and restriction of cannabis genetics. Cannabis is a genetically complex and diverse plant that varies greatly in cannabinoid content and creates vastly different effects depends n the strain. What helps one person with some symptoms may be totally different than what helps another, and people ought to be able to access the medicine that works for them.

“Revenue capture in sales must be dedicated to health and education programs that help consumers make informed decisions that protect them, their families and the general public”

Cool. Keep in mind: a key priority should be on preventing stigma against people with disabilities and education ought to be informed by the wisdom of Indigenous people who have used this medicine traditionally for far longer than any of our governments have been involved in regulating it.

“When cannabis is legalized, it should accessible, safe and help local businesses to create employment in both the public and the private sector.”
Again, it comes down to those multiple points of access I discussed earlier.
There’s a lot of world building to do here, but I think that the green Party’s platform is a good place to start. Let’s get to work.