Like many of you, I'm pissed off. Royally so. A good thing too that I didn't have much hope, given that the bill passed a second reading with a unanimous vote of 100-0 (how incredibly screwed up is that?), but still. I'm angry, disappointed, upset, outraged, and sad. (Note: third reading passed 68-22, so I guess some progress was made.)
Luckily, perhaps, I can no longer log onto my Facebook account (someone complained last year that my profile was not following Community Standards, but that's a post for another day); otherwise I'd have let off some pretty angry steam on that site. I did, however, come out of a 3-year dormancy on my Twitter account yesterday, before remembering why I'd gone dormant in the first place. Because besides being an enormous time suck, you end up either preaching to the choir, or leaving angry/snarky responses to people/organizations (e.g., Ontario Pork Producers who are very concerned about the mental health of farmers unfairly victimized by abusive extremist activists) whose views are so firmly entrenched that you might as well be trying to convince a hardcore staunch Trump supporter to vote for Joe Biden.
In other words, it doesn't help.
Especially in my part of Ontario that couldn't be bluer than blue politically, and is home to many farms and farmers. A lot of them, by the way, happen to be not only of Dutch descent (I'm a first-generation Dutch immigrant born in Holland, so have no qualms about discussing general characteristics of my own ethnic group), but also of a fairly strict and conservative Christian upbringing (as a member of this upbringing, also no qualms), and this is key.
Key because in this strongly upheld patriarchal hierarchy, God is top, Jesus is next, then comes the Holy Ghost, followed by men (literally, not mankind in general, but men), women, children, and finally, and usually reluctantly, animals. Maybe this is true for other religions and ethnicities as well, but I find it so strongly expressed that it's fairly common knowledge that domestic abuse is rife within the Christian Reformed Church. Because, you know, women have to be submissive to their fathers and husbands and all that.
I'm also reminded of a huge billboard that I saw while being driven in a more rural part of this place that not only declared abortion to be the most sinful thing anyone could do (by the way, there's a systematic campaign by members of these churches to elect government officials at all levels of government solely on the issue of whether candidates are pro-life), but that actually mocked in the same billboard anyone concerned with animal cruelty. I kid you not. Half of the billboard had an image of a fetus, the other half a puppy, with the captions more or less saying, animal cruelty okay, abortion not. I might be exaggerating slightly, but I remember being shocked, and that doesn't happen too often anymore.
So what I'm trying to say in a long-winded way, is that the notion of animals being property, and specifically, property to be used by man in any which way deemed useful or profitable, may be even stronger in this part of the woods than elsewhere.
Oh, but also in Alberta (which already has its own ag-gag law that Ontario eagerly imitated), BC and the Maritimes. And in case you think I'm making this Dutch demographic stuff up, here are some quotes from a book* I happen to own:
A look through the national poultry magazine's annual Who's Who reveals a strong Dutch presence in egg, turkey and broiler producers. p268
But it must be acknowledged that many within the Dutch Canadian community have assumed leadership positions in farming organizations. Nationally, the chair of the Canadian Egg Marketing Board in 1999 was (name omitted as it's likely out of date by now), and at the Canadian Turkey Marketing Agency, (name omitted for same reason). (Name omitted) was an executive member of the Chicken Farmers of Canada, while (name omitted) headed the department of Animal and Poultry Science at the University of Saskatchewan. p270
Now I'm not saying that only farmers of Dutch descent adhere to a "animals are ours to use" mentality, but that it may be even more strongly held or prevalent, and that would effect the industry wherever they are. And they're certainly here in Ontario!
Getting back to the bill, here it is in its entirety, and here is the submission by the influential OFA. Reading through their submission I have to admit that if I was just a casually if-at-all informed member of the public, I too might be swayed by their rhetoric and feel sorry for the poor disrespected farmers who love the animals they take good care of and are bullied by activists who aren't misguided, but plain mean. Well!
Okay, if you're a reader of this blog then I certainly don't have to tell you what this bill means, why it's atrocious, and that it's gotta go.
But what do we do in the meantime? What do we do with our anger? (Other than posting all over farmers' and farming organization media accounts that they're parasitic scumbags who deserve to rot in hell, which I confess I'm still tempted to do.)
This is the plan for me for now:
- take the time to grieve (as this will have a huge negative impact on animals already in dire situations)
- take time to feel all my feelings (e.g., disappointment, helplessness, worry, etc.)
- take the time to feel my anger fully (without being too stupid, as that could backfire for those we're trying to help)
- figure out how to channel that anger constructively (what can I do that will make a difference? how can I help to get this bill declared unconstitutional?)
- figure out how to pace myself (make no mistake, this is gonna be a long war with many battles)
- make sure to leave some room for joy and fun to prevent burnout
- be prepared to get arrested! (only kidding, but it's probably wise for you not to know too much, again kidding, maybe...)
What about you? Any points you'd like to add to make all of us better warriors, and better equipped to deal with this colossal fuck-up?
p.s. can you tell I'm still boiling? maybe I should have calmed down a bit first?
* Uprooted: Dutch Immigrant Children in Canada 1947-1959 by Anne van Arragon Hutten, 2001.