Category Archives: Political Nature

Graham James = Silence in the Marble Halls

So I started this blog originally a few days ago when the sentence for Graham James came down but to be honest it was an emotional response. An extreme emotional response. Pretty sure what I wrote and then deleted came off as more the rantings of the outraged mother and less the thoughts of a intelligent woman.

Now I’m back and ready to share what I have processed. In what I hope will come across in a balance of outrage and intelligence.

First I have to thank Theo Fleury, Todd Holt, Sheldon Kennedy and Greg Gilhooly for coming forward. For standing strong and for giving sexual abuse survivors reasons to come forward and share their stories. Serial pedophiles count on the shame their actions invoke in the victims to keep them silent. You’ve stood up and told every survivor out there that they carry no shame, and that they can speak up and be embraced, not judged, by a nation.

You are brave and you are heroes. Your voices are proof that truth isn’t always pleasant to hear but that it is important that it is spoken.

After the verdict came down I went to Twitter mostly to start tweeting at my Member of Parliament, Shelly Glover and to show my support for Theo Fleury and Todd Holt. I’ve also tweeted at Prime Minister Harper but I understand he is out of the country at this time.

As much disgust as I feel at the verdict the politician and amateur lawyer in me knows that even 6 years would be too light for the years of physical and emotional torture Mr. James committed against who knows how many victims. I don’t think Mr. James’ offenses have all come to light and sadly the light sentence and worry for Mr. James’ comfort will not encourage others to come forward and unburden themselves. Why should they? They will get nothing even close to justice.

Part of what galls me is he confessed to what he did. He admits he is a serial pedophile with tastes running to young boys. It my very strong opinion that when someone shows you who they really are you should believe them. Mr. James has stated very clearly that he likes to molest young boys, they are his type and given his pattern of attacks he also enjoys the psychological games he plays to get them groomed and compliant with his whims.

Yet our legal (not justice…there is no justice here) system turns a blind eye to his confessions and pattern of behavior and fails to punish him for the crimes which he confessed to. The only time I’ve known confession to be a cleansing of the soul is when it is between penitent and priest.

So far Mr. James has been allowed to the poster boy for how the law fails the most innocent of our citizens. He’s served minimal sentences, has been pardoned, and even now has managed, yet again, to play the system. His only restrictions are to stay away from his victims upon release. Mr. James will still be allowed access to computer, internet and thus the underground child porn industry. He will still be able to feed his appetites, although indirectly, and in this way will continue to be an abuser of young men. He will also be able to purchase what he desires from the child sex trade that has only recently come to light as a growing concern. He will still be breaking the law for which there will be no real punishment…Again.

I figure it won’t be hard to stay away from his victims. By James’ own admission…they no longer fit his type. But others do and they aren’t safe from his attentions as long as he is outside a jail cell.

Now if I can figure this out why couldn’t a judge, Member of Parliament or Member of the Legislative Assembly.

Why is there only silence in the marble halls of Parliament Hill and the Manitoba Legislative Assembly? Why is there no Member standing up and sharing the outrage of their voting citizens. Many across Canada are disgusted. They don’t understand why Mr. James got only 2 years when Sandusky of Penn State is looking at over 400 years if he’s convicted of similar crimes.

Hell I don’t understand it.

I call upon my Member of Parliament, Shelly Glover, to bring my outrage to The Hill. I am outraged  as a mother who tells her children to tell me anything and I will do everything I can for them. I tell them they are lucky to live here, I tell them this is a wonderful place to live and be a kid. Don’t make me a liar because government is falling down on the job of making sure the laws protect the victims. I appreciated your statement but I believe of all Members you are the one with the background to push forward. As a former police officer I am sure this situation, and these victims are not new to you. You know the fall out of these crimes…first hand.

I call upon my Member of the Legislative Assembly, Bidhu Jha, to get off his bench and start pushing for his party’s Justice Minister to push the Federal Justice Minister to start really looking at changing the law and protecting our children. These boys were citizens of Manitoba when they had crimes committed against them. It should fall on the Manitoba Government to push for change and stand up because right now the country is looking at us. How should we respond? How will you respond Mr. Jha?

Finally I call upon these survivors to keep talking. Don’t let inactive government prevent your voice from being heard loud and strong.

In closing I may not be an MLA, and I may be politician without a party, thus Independent, but I am a mother. If my children were victims of a predator I’d want to be confident that they could come forward and have justice. Every victim should be confident they will have their day in court. That a judge will worry about their fears, their violations and their rights.

Not the reputations of confessed serial pedophiles.

Thus I lend my voice and my outrage to the cause.


Just the Facts

If you are clicking this link because you want to know all the dirty details of what happened between my mother and the Manitoba Liberal Party…

I don’t have any.

I can confirm that my mother quit the party last night. They can claim she’s suspended for 10 months and that she won’t be coming back to the party because she quit but I ask you how can one suspend what they don’t have?

In response I cancelled my LAMP membership and resigned from the committees I sat on because I was lied to. I won’t get into who lied to me or how they lied to me but know that I was lied to by someone that sits on that board.

Someone I trusted.

I’m not a typical politician. Maybe it is because I am still idealistic enough to believe that politicians who wish to be selected to serve the people should actually have integrity and not just feign it.

It shouldn’t be a perception of integrity it should really exist.

Now as of the end of last week I had decided to look past the comments of other party members, including the one person that thought it would be great to libel my name on Facebook by declaring rumors as known fact.  I wanted to save what was my party and I was confident I could set aside the personal attacks and focus on that.

In fact I vocally re-committed to the party Saturday afternoon in a meeting with party officials and said that despite the libelous actions of another party member I would work past it. That changed with a phone call last night.

I’m a mom. I have 3 kids and I tell them everyday that lying is wrong. To be a liar is wrong, to mislead people is wrong, and it is wrong to not keep your word. So how can I look at them everyday and tell them to be honest and upstanding when I, myself, would be in a room with folks who aren’t upstanding or honest themselves. It would be like silently endorsing what they do and who they are as o.k.

Then there is the issue of my kids looking up to these people and thinking they are worthy of their respect and admiration. I’d rather be someone they can look up to with respect and admiration and know that I earned it because I walk my talk about being honest and standing up against something you know is wrong.

I also want my kids to think for themselves and not feel like they have to go along because people might not like them. I would never want my daughter to go along with what a boy/man wants because what if he doesn’t like her anymore. I wouldn’t want my sons to feel as if they should go along with the crowd because what if someone doesn’t like them anymore. If my kids grow up thinking that they have to go along to be liked, have friends, be respected, get anywhere, be anything I will always feel like I let them down in some fundamental way.

If you have an issue with me leaving this party and this Leader. If you have a problem with me disagreeing publicly with said Leader’s ideas and party suggestions. If you have a a problem with me writing this blog I have a newsflash for you.

It’s YOUR damn problem.

So for the person who libeled me this week here are some facts (I know you love to throw that word around):

Fact: Effective last night I QUIT the Manitoba Liberal Party. I wasn’t asked to leave, suspended, requested to turn in my membership or any other wording that makes it look like I am being punished like a petulant toddler. Also I don’t feel bad about it and I probably never will.

Fact: I was honored to have run in an election at least once in my life. One of my life goals was to run for office and, ideally, win. Despite the fact I lost I at least took the chance. I have no regrets about how it turned out. No one can ever take away that moment when I saw my name on the ballot.

Fact: I have no intention to start a new party. Any rumor stating that is incorrect and anyone saying it has absolutely no concrete fact with which to back it up. I do, however, plan to follow the model of Nero.

Fact: I know many will celebrate this. You will think you have won some grand prize liberating your party of those malcontents “that don’t speak for you”. Can’t wait to see the next one you hold up as what is wrong with the party. Beware since the next one could be you.

Fact: I’m still considering a libel suit.

Fact: I’m sad I will miss the green velvet cake I selected as dessert for the dinner (In fact I picked the whole meal…enjoy!) on March 17th. Luckily I found a recipe and will make my own so even then it is no loss.

In the end what I take away is the removal of something off my bucket list. Not a simple task either but one of those life defining ones where you walk away knowing more about who you are.

I also have the ability to look at myself in the mirror, straight in the eye and know that if money talks and bullshit walks…that I am not bullshit.


Disagreement isn’t Disrespect

I ran for the Manitoba Liberal Party in the last provincial election.

I got 502 votes. It wasn’t barn burning numbers but I get each one of them through knocking on doors, talking to people and wearing out the leather on my shoes. They are mine, I earned them and I am proud of every one of them.

My mother is Sandra Hoskins. A big name today in the world of Winnipeg. Anyone reading the Winnipeg Free Press, watching their tweets or their website has no doubt seen the article spawned by a blog post from the weekend.

For the record my mom has worked with many people in her 35 years in business in Winnipeg so anyone in this city looking close enough might just see themselves in her musings.

I have tried to keep this blog from being overly political but frankly I’m slowly coming to realize that my personal life and my political life are intertwined and probably always will be.

So I think the comments that disturb me the most are the ones from folks who seem to think that we should all shut up and tow the party line which, for the record, isn’t working.

I want to be clear. I, personally, like Jon very much. My kids call him Dr. Jon and embrace him as a member of the family. In fact my youngest has never had a point in his life where Dr. Jon hasn’t been around in some form.

My very first act of advocacy was to advocate for myself. I was languishing in a hell made of a chronic illness and a chronically ill health care system. My husband pushed me to stand up for myself, get mad for myself and yell for myself.

When I emailed out my cry for help Jon answered, Jon helped me, and Jon inspired me to run for office and to become an advocate for The Arthritis Society. After all if my first time as an advocate went better than expected imagine how much better I could do with some facts and figures to back me up.

Now even with the history between Jon and I that doesn’t mean that I have to agree with everything Jon does and I don’t have to support all of his initiatives and to have people tell me that I must or I am not a good Liberal stings.

After all debating ideas is supposed to be the basis of our government system. We pay Members of Parliament and Members of the Legislative Assembly to debate ideas on a regular basis so why is it wrong when two members of a political party don’t agree with an idea?

How can we expect evolution to occur if we try to suppress the natural process of growth?

We don’t become adults without those awkward teenaged years of rebellion and discourse.

We don’t become parents without the stress of pregnancy and labour.

We can’t evolve as a political party without some discussion, debate and sometimes, disagreement.

Evolution as a process isn’t easy and I’m not sure where the idea was put out that it is.

So Jon brought an idea forth, and frankly right now it isn’t one I am supporting, but just because he’s Leader doesn’t make it a done deal. It simply means that he brought forth an idea and we, the party membership, can, should and, in my opinion, are honour bound to debate it on the merits.

If they feel an idea has merit it will pass but those with opposing attitudes should not be shamed for having an opposing view. After all if we all loved the same things we’d only need one political party for all instead of a country of multiple parties.

I owe it to my Liberal party members living in my Electoral District to be honest about what I believe in. I promised them that I would stand up for what I believed in at all times. I said that and so I will live it. I think that as a politician your word is all you have and so it is my mission to keep mine.

Debate isn’t a dirty word and disagreement doesn’t equal disrespect and anyone that thinks this is true obviously has confused a democratic political party with the former Soviet Union.


Reflecting Pool

In recent weeks I’ve seen my political life take a back seat to my personal life. Since the election the political side of things I’ve left at the wayside focusing on my family, going back to my regular job, and deciding to try new opportunities and make some changes in my life.

Could be a mid-life crisis. You know desire for a new career and looking for new opportunities.

Politics isn’t very far from my heart. I’ve watched the cabinet shuffle in recent weeks with interest and the PC build up to a leadership race. I respond to these things as a mother, as a taxpayer and as a chronic illness patient. Always with my gut and always with emotion.

In recent weeks I’ve been reflecting on my reasons for running. I plan to run again. This I am sure of. I loved the door knocking. I loved meeting people, hearing people, connecting with people. I met people that influenced me, people that inspire me, people that to this day I know care about their province and their neighborhoods.

The experience could only have been enhanced with a Win.

So I’ve committed to run in 2015. I’ve committed myself to the rebuilding of my party and I’ve agreed to be an active participant in that rebuilding.

All good positive steps but the one thing I come back to is that I want to be sure that I don’t loose the passion I have for politics. I want to keep in mind the reasons I want to run in the first place.

At the heart of it all what I know is that I would still be honoured to be the MLA for the voters here. That I wouldn’t be silent when crime hits the heart of a suburban neighborhood for the first time, the second time, the third time or the fourth time.  I know that serving people is about being accountable to them not showing up for the photo op and heading out before I might actually have to talk to voters.

When I reflect on that purpose I realize I still want to do it. Which means then must mean that I should do it.


Mother’s Outrage

This situation at Penn State has really gotten my hackles up.

I’ve got 3 kids and my eldest son wants to play football. This was something I supported until recently when it seems to be coming out more and more how coaches, leagues, and even follow players are covering up trauma to children. I often think there is no value in organized sports these days because of the things that allowed to happen behind closed locker room doors. This Penn State mess scares me to the core and I am reacting from a place of momma bear and emotion.

In life sports (hockey, football, basketball) coaches are put on a level of trust by parents and as a result of trickle down children trust them too. They believe that these people are trust worthy because their parents say they are. If the recent stories involving abuse of NHL players in their youth have taught me anything it’s that coaches become a corner stone of a budding Gretzky/Stegall/Jordan’s dreams and that can be used to hurt a child in such a deep way.

Sandusky was seen as someone trust worthy. He started a charity which it now seems allowed him to prey on at risk youth. The ones most likely to keep his secrets because they would be the easiest to threaten because while they have next to nothing they would have the most to loose. I’m guessing no one would speak up if they really believed that they could be taken away from their families by someone seen as having more power than your own parents do.

JoPa or St. Joe as many like to term him turned a blind eye and he’s guilty of that. Victims of abuse don’t need his prayers, his guilt or his thoughts that hindsight is 20/20. They needed his action 9 years ago and he failed. They needed someone to stand up, to protect them, to be their saviour. Epic fail on all accounts for St. Joe.

He might be one hell of a coach but he’s one very terrible human being.

If that were my son Joe’s prayers wouldn’t heal his soul.

If that were my son Joe’s guilt wouldn’t take away the shame or the pain

If that were my son Joe’s hindsight wouldn’t have saved someone from that same fate.

I also don’t understand how someone could stand up for him. I tweeted a CFL player who appeared sympathetic to Joe because I wanted to know if what he said would be enough for him if his child was a victim. There is no two ways about this…

Joe turned a blind eye to RAPE of a CHILD. A 10 year old boy. He had the power to stop someone not just committing a crime but an act of terrorism.

Dramatic?

Maybe but the stories from survivors of molestation make it clear that there is a pattern of terror used by many pedophiles to keep their victims under their thumbs. I will kill your mom or dad. You will get taken away to some place bad. Even the very effective no one is going to believe you because I am some big shot and you are just a bad kid that tells lies. These are all used to scare and terrorize a child into being complacent to their abusers. So yes, to me that is an act of emotional terrorism.

I ache for all those boys who are now men and having to deal with ghosts I am sure they hoped were buried. I hope that now at this time they will get their justice, get their support and hopefully heal and become survivors and not be victims.

For those rioting. I give you some leeway because most of you probably aren’t parents yet. You’ve never looked into the eyes of your young child and realized that out there somewhere someone with bad intentions would hurt your child if the opportunity presents itself. You’ve never gotten a letter from a school telling you that some one who likes to Break and Enter homes with kids toys in the yard and rape children in their beds is moving near you after serving a sentence and is considered a high risk to re-offend that will keep you awake at night while you mentally check list how secure your home is.

But you will someday.

On that day St. Joe will stop being Coach to you and become a man. A very flawed man and you will understand why mothers like me, fathers like my husband and others were so angry and blamed him for something that he did wrong.

I wish I could say that Joe was the only player at the heart of this but the cover up goes deep and I hope everyone who failed to act has to account for what they failed to do.

But Joe was a person of respect and authority and his voice would have given credence and strength on behalf of these boys.

He really could have been a Saint.

For now I have to go home and talk to my son about how adults can be bad, that you can’t count on all of them to protect you sometimes and finally that there is nothing that he can’t tell me that I won’t believe.

Eventually I will swallow my fear and consider letting him play football.

His sister however, probably never now.


Watching the Future

There’s a huge debate going on now about the need for clinical trials for MS Liberation treatment. I fully support the need and desire for this clinical trial to occur if only for the precedent this will set for those of us in Canada with incurable chronic diseases that we just have to live with because honestly we live in a state of trying to prevent further escalation of our conditions. In 5 years that could be an Arthritis treatment that the government will be denying someone like me who has two fake hips, working on two fake knees and watch my hands get less and less able everyday. I am at the stage in my life where my arthritis is evident on my hands and feet.

We aren’t being treated and we aren’t being cured. What we are getting are regimes of drugs that the medical community hopes to prolong our current quality of life for as long as possible. Disease progression can’t be predicted with any certainty and what is being called treatment doesn’t really treat anything. It’s a state of flux some days will be good, some days will be bad and all we really know is that you can slow things down with the right medication and sometimes the medication’s effects are just as harsh as the disease itself.

My other big issue here is that while the Health Ministers dicker about the possibility of clinical trials I’m watching an opportunity for my province to step up and lead by saying we’ll do this for you our citizens. Manitoba’s location could easily lead it to become a research capital in many fields but as per usual the current sitting provincial government does nothing to lead just remain status quo.

I am also blown away with the fact that my surgeon was allowed to take my hips after they had been removed for research purposes. I wasn’t asked, I wasn’t able to give consent and at the heart of the research these medical professionals will be accessing my DNA. I didn’t give anyone permission to access and study my DNA, heck no one even mentioned that it was a possible that they would use my situation for research. I would have consented to assisting the researchers, I would have consented to having them taking my hips and working on new treatments and new cures. I just wasn’t asked it was assumed that they could have ownership of them and do what they pleased with them. My husband found out when a nurse disclosed the information to him in an offhand manner.

So if adults can be used at test subjects and lab rats without permission and without informed consent why are the two levels of Health ministries having issues with a clinical trial composed of consenting adults who are looking for hope, looking for something that re-affirms that research is really moving forward and that new ideas are being explored. I think part of the problem is that none of these appointed ministers have lived themselves with any such deteriorating condition as MS, Arthritis, Lupus, or Fibromyalgia. They have no idea what it is like to lose hope, to lose your body and in some ways lose your mind. When you take on a condition like this you are never the same again but deep down you always want to have hope. Things will improve, there is new research being done all the time, that Europe will help to guide North America in patient care…these two level of government are killing people’s hope.

Dear Theresa Oswald, I am watching you on this issue because while I don’t have MS someday that could be me seeing a positive treatment for a disease that wants to cripple me, damage me, take me from my children, take me from my husband, and cause me great physical and emotional harm. What you do now in this situation affects how every advance will be treated by the province in the future. You are failing the people of this province that you are supposed to give the very best health care you can to. In 2011 I will be one voice out of many encouraging the people of Manitoba to FIRE you.

Dear Stephen Harper, I am not going to forget that you have more worries about a gun registry than the health of your people. You could stand up, you could lead this country but instead you’ve let your citizens down. The gun registry is not a hill to die on. When the writ drops I will be there with my voice to encourage the people of Canada to FIRE you.

I will be on the steps of the Manitoba Legislature supporting the MS Rally being held at noon on Monday September 20th. I will be standing solidarity with the folks that want clinical trials here and that want after care if they have already gone over seas for treatment that they have had to pay for. It shouldn’t be this way if there is a pool of subjects wanting hope and ready to try to advance a treatment that could give hope to every MS sufferer in the world. Why does governments want to quash hope?

My arthritis is genetic, my children are at risk and in 5 years I want to smile when I hand over the papers to my rheumatologist to consent to a new clinical trial that maybe saves my child from the fear of fevers, from the side effects of heavy medication, from the pain of a joint dying, from the addiction and cost of pain killers…I could go on. On my worst day prior to surgery and even before I had surgery as an option I had days where I thought about how much Percocet could kill me. I thought dark thoughts about killing myself and that my kids and husband would be better off without the burden that I was becoming. I never want to know that my kids have lost hope like I had.

I thank everyone with MS who is coming forward and standing up for their right to care…you are paving the way for the rest of us to enjoy medical advancements in a timely manner.


You are your own best advocate

****Let me start off by saying that I feel for this couple. To watch your loved one suffer and loose time they can never have back is a horrible thing and frankly one far too many people go through with our current medical system****

Usually after dropping off Nathaniel I tend to tune in CBC Radio. I find that since my car can get CJOB it helps me feel like I am in contact with the world around me and as my thoughts turn to politcal leanings and shifting my life’s purpose to one that calls me that knowing what goes on beyond my backyard is a great thing.

Today on the CBC show “The Current” they were interviewing a man whose wife was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer in early May (in Alberta). At some point a medical professional assured them they would be getting calls in a matter of days, that this new treatment would be given to her in very short order and in general re-assured them that things would be handled. As time passed by and no calls came forth and his wife’s health continued to decline rather than make calls, be a pain in the ass, and press the folks that said this treatment was coming they continued to sit back and wait. Her health has now declined so much that it really is a matter of time.

At heart apathy is what is wrong with health care in Canada.

December 2007. We had company in from California. One evening while sitting and watching Kevin and Bill enjoy playing Assassin’s Creed I got a phone call. Strange to have a Dr. call you in the evening but I am blessed with a Rheumatologist that gives a damn. The call was to tell me that the referal had gone in, that I needed hip replacement surgery and that it was the only thing that could end my pain, my suffering. I checked wait times on total hip replacement and at that time it was 14 weeks average wait time. 14 weeks well that didn’t seem so bad to me. January wears on, February wears on and I even check with my rheumatologists office to see if they have heard anything. All they can tell me is that the fax was sent in early December and all they have is the fax number it was sent to. No Dr name, no clinic no idea where it went after sent into the ether that is sending a fax.

Starting in February 2008 Kevin began to push me to get angry and demand answers. Problem being..where to start. I sat down one day and wrote an email to two local papers and 4 Members of the Legislative Assembly (then Premier Gary Doer, Health Minister Teresa Oswald, Opposition Leader Hugh McFayden and finally Dr. Jon Gerrard Leader of the Manitoba Liberal). 10 minutes after my email went out I was on the phone with Dr. Jon and telling him my story and later that day a letter from his office went out on my behalf to the Health Minister. Within days I was getting phone calls  from people that knew everything..where it had gone, when it had gone, that it had been accepted by a surgeon and this was his process for getting his patients from referal to surgery. More answers in two days than I had in two months. Once I started asking questions and making it clear I wasn’t going away, I wasn’t going to wait, I had had enough folks started giving me access to information which by all rights was mine to know anyway. In under a month I had an appt, two weeks after the appt I had surgery dates, and I pretty sure I’d still be waiting if I hadn’t been pushed to speak up and advocate for myself.

Now back to this couple in Alberta. Their story touches me because it’s personal cord. Waiting for treatment which can change the course of one’s life is a reality that I am too familiar with. However, a small portion of their anger should be at themselves for waiting, for not calling the day after they were told to expect a call, for not taking advantage of the options to travel for care that they had (and not everyone has that option). I am not saying that the Dr that made promises of calls and told them of great new treatments that she should be getting is obsolved of guilt. A phone call however, would have given them the truth that this is not they way it works with this particular Cancer Care Facility. That there are processes that she would have to go through, referals and paperwork that would have to be filed, that Drs are booked, that time is precious. A simple amount of leg work by this couple, a seizing of their fates would have given them control over their current future. For now they simply have the time left because of how advanced this woman’s cancer has become.

I encourage all patients to question their Drs. If your Drs fail you you have options. Always be go to your MLA or a party leader. If someone can’t give you the answers get them from someone else. Empower yourself as a patient and press for what you need even if it is just the correct knowledge to make the choices to care for yourself.

You will always be your own best advocate.