Hello and welcome to rabble radio: rabble.ca’s weekly audio magazine. I’m your host and the editor of rabble.ca, Chelsea Nash. Rabble has its finger on the beat of the issues that matter to you and every Friday, we break it down for you – no matter where or how you’re listening. It’s a good way to catch up on the news of the week and, as with all rabble news, look at current events through a progressive lens.
This week on the show, national politics reporter Stephen Wentzell speaks with American legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky to talk about his new book: Presumed Guilty: How the Supreme Court Empowered the Police and Subverted Civil Rights, in which Chemerinsky makes the case that the United States Supreme Court has been far more likely to uphold government abuses of power — including those done by police against racial minorities — than to stop them. Chemerinsky is the dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
This week at rabble, senior politics reporter Karl Nerenberg had his suspicions confirmed when Justin Trudeau’s government made the sly attempt to bury the news that it had filed an appeal to Federal Court Justice Paul Favel’s September 29 ruling which upheld a Human Rights Tribunal order that the government pay $40,000 to all victims of the underfunded First Nations child and family welfare system.
The government’s lawyers waited until the very last minute last Friday to announce the appeal — doing so after 5pm so as to attract as little public and media scrutiny as possible.
“The only surprise in the late Friday announcement was that the government will suspend its appeal process for a couple of months in order to work on a negotiated settlement with the complainants, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society headed by Cindy Blackstock and the Assembly of First Nations,” writes Nerenberg.
The newly-minted ministers responsible for this file, Justice Minister David Lametti and newly-named Indigenous Services and Crown-Indigenous Relations Ministers Patty Hajdu and Marc Miller, played their cards close to their chest. Government officials reached out to Blackstock but it wasn’t until the day before the appeal that they approached her with the intention to have discussions.
Blackstock and her partners at the Assembly of First Nations — who have been fighting this fight for 14 years now — have accepted the government’s olive branch and are ready and eager to undertake good faith talks.
Speaking of the new cabinet, street nurse and housing advocate Cathy Crowe weighed in on Trudeau’s decision to appoint a new minister of housing. Sure, there have been ministers responsible for the housing file before, but until now, there had never been a minister with housing in their title. Ahmed Hussen now takes on that role with the official title of “minister of housing and diversity and inclusion.”
Crowe, having been let down by government promises on housing for decades, remains sceptical. “Our country needs a minister of housing,” she writes. “We now have one in name, but with a catchall title that suggests some boxes were ticked off in Minister Hussen’s appointment.”
In the media interviews the minister has done since his appointment, Hussen has predictably followed the Liberal’s election platform pretty closely. It’s what’s missing there that concerns Crowe. Nowhere in the Liberal platform, nor in Hussen’s interviews, has she heard the term “social housing.”
“We will truly have a minister of housing if the minister’s mandate letter includes funding for social housing and rent-geared-to-income housing, creating a co-op housing stream, providing rehabilitation funds for old housing stock, ensuring that seniors’ pensions are increased so they can afford to stay in their homes, and creating long-term care standards so our seniors can be housed safely in their later years, and the same for home care,” Crowe writes.
Also on the site this week:
Our coverage of COP26 continues. Brent Patterson writes about how the prime minister’s promise to cap Canada’s oil and gas emissions will do nothing to stop the criminalization of Indigenous land defenders.
Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan point out that because of vaccine apartheid and the U.K.’s obstructive visa requirements, COP26 is the whitest and most privileged of the United Nations’ climate summits since 1992.
Plus, two Indigenous films — one a documentary — are reviewed by Humberto DaSilva and Doreen Nicoll.
Da Silva reviews Portrait From A Fire — a small, award-winning film that follows a First Nations youth on a supernatural journey to unravel his family’s secret tragedy. Portraits From a Fire is being screened in select Canadian theatres starting November 1 and will be released through video on demand on November 9.
Nicoll reviews the documentary film: Kimmapiiyitssini: The Meaning of Empathy. Kimmapiiyitssini [GEE-maa-bee-bit-sin], the Blackfoot word for, “Giving kindness to each other,” is key in reducing deaths from drug poisoning in the Kainai community in Southern Alberta. Filmmaker Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers tells the story of the opioid crisis and how through harm reduction, compassion and de-colonizing recovery, the community has begun to heal. That film opens today, Nov. 5 in Vancouver with screenings scheduled across the country throughout November.
Also in arts and culture this week, sex worker columnist Natasha Darling looks at the many ways sex workers contribute to pop culture. From the movie Zola to Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s music, sex workers are most accurately represented when they themselves are in control of how they are depicted, Darling argues.
Finally, last Friday, V.S. Wells takes a look at how Canada media is importing British transphobia.
It started with Toronto Star columnist Rosie DiManno, writes Wells. Her Oct. 16 piece claimed gender-neutral language in healthcare erased women. It’s not a particularly new or interesting take, and one that’s been thoroughly critiqued over the years, but the Star gave the piece a full page (A3) in the news section — despite it being opinion. The online article also received a traffic boost due to being (controversially) tweeted by author Margaret Atwood on Oct. 19.
A few days later, Atwood shared another article — this time from the CBC, decrying “toxic, in-your-face activism.” The opinion piece was written by a trans woman, Jessica Triff, but was filled with transphobic talking points. Triff implied that trans people who do not transition medically are “risks to women’s safety,” and that the label “trans woman” should only be used to refer to someone who has “gone through therapy, hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgeries.”
Finally, there was also a CTV “investigation” into trans children and youth who are seeking gender affirming medical treatment. That story relied heavily on the stories of two cis women in the U.K. who identified as trans men, before re-transitioning back to live as women — in order to argue that trans affirming youth healthcare in Canada is too easy to access.
This sudden resurgence in feminist-cloaked anti-trans media rhetoric is probably due to that strategy’s success in my home country, the U.K. Wells breaks down the differences between American and British transphobia, and why we’ve been seeing a heightened degree of transphobia in Canadian media in recent weeks.
Find all that and much more at rabble.ca, where as always, we’re bringing you the latest in political, social and arts and culture reporting, opinion and analysis.
If you like the show please consider subscribing wherever you listen to your podcasts. Rate, review, share it with your friends — it takes two seconds to support independent media like rabble. Follow us on social media across channels @rabbleca.
I’m your host, Chelsea Nash. Thanks for tuning in and we’ll talk next week!
Thanks to our new podcast producer Breanne Doyle, Stephen Wentzell for his reporting, Karl Nerenberg for the music, and all the journalists and writers who contributed to this week’s content on rabble.ca.