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Tuesday, 26 November 2013

What's the Problem with (dis)Services Canada and Seniors' Pensions?

Following is the letter-to-the-editor I sent yesterday to Terry Bush, Central Hastings News. My first letter was published several weeks ago, and this is my response to Anne McNeill's letter-to-the-ed.

This letter was published on page 6 of Central Hastings News, Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013. Total distribution 474,000.

Dear Editor (Hi Terry):
Several weeks ago you published my warning to seniors that receiving their old age pensions and dealing with Services Canada will likely prove difficult. My warning still very much stands, despite the snarky letter in last week's paper claiming this was misinformation. 

However, Anne McNeill's letter did provide some basic information that I've been unable to obtain from the Services Canada website or from their employees. According to Ms. McNeill the basic annual guaranteed income for a senior is $16,573.20. I thank her for finally providing the supposed financial baseline for all seniors. Unfortunately, what should be, doesn't always mean it is! Ms. McNeill wrongfully assumes that I haven't applied for the supplements GAINS and GIS, which I definitely have done. I made all my applications well ahead of schedule, and twice I've provided additional financial statements to SC back up my applications. Despite being so proactive I continue to struggle far below the poverty level on under $1K a month in pensions.

Services Canada has handled my applications and requests for help and information in the same style manifested by the Prime Minister, the one who prorogues our Parliament to avoid uncomfortable situations. Simply, there have been no written replies from Services Canada. Ms. McNeil at least puts some information in print. This situation is not unique to me. It appears to be quite universal among seniors. When I discuss pensions with other seniors, seemingly everyone is getting a different amount, no one understands why, and many are not receiving even the baseline support presented by Ms. McNeill.

A friend in Hamilton was in a similar situation with SC when he qualified for his senior pensions several years ago. He was also being grossly underpaid, and it took the intervention of his MP for him to begin receiving his fair pensions. And yes, Ms. McNeill was frustratingly right here, as he now receives approximately the same $18,353.76 she believes I should be receiving. So does this mean each senior in Canada will have to visit their MP to get personal political help to begin receiving their fair pensions?

Guess this is a heads-up to our MPs as well ...

Chris Faiers
12 Main St.
Marmora, Ontario
K0K 2M0




November 27, 2013

Dear Chris,

         I have been reading your recent pieces with great interest. What you report is completely correct. ALL Canadians living on the government pensions alone are forced to live below the poverty line. The poverty line (by the government’s own calculation) is about $20,000 at the present time for a single person. But the highest pension amount (C.P.P. plus O.A.S. plus G.I.S.) is considerably under $19,000. Exactly as you report.

         But hold on Chris, it actually gets worse. Last year I received a cheque for $600 from my publisher in royalties. Since this was a year ago, it was my first royalty cheque since going on the O.A.S. and the G.I.S. Guess what? The government cut my pension by $42.36 per month. $42.36 X 12 is $508.32. I was only able to keep $91.68 of my $600 in royalties! (This is absolutely true.)

         I went to my M.P. (a Tory, unfortunately, but that’s not my fault) and inquired. I was told that this is the way the system works for retired people.

         This is not a one-off. I read Good Times magazine. They have a financial consultant reply to questions from readers concerning retirement issues. A reader of Good Times earned $200 in interest. And guess what? The government took most of it by reducing his pension for a year. So he wrote to the financial consultant at the magazine and was told what I had been told by my M.P. That’s the way the system works for retired folk.

         In my opinion this is TOTALLY outrageous. If you are poor and do manage to earn a few hundred dollars, the government will take almost all of it!

         In the future I will tell my publishers to keep my royalties. As poor as I may be, I would much rather take a pass on $91.68 if it means I can keep $508.32 out of the hands of the federal government.

         . . . James

p.s. Please feel free to share this letter with others.


Hi James,
Thanks for the further information. Arggggghhhhhh This is such a crock of shite!!!!  :  (  I'm sick of having to fight evil & incompetent governments & bureaucracies my entire adult life. I'd naively hoped that in my dotage I'd finally be able to devote myself full time to literary activities - my own writing, of course, but also coordinating events like our tribute to Ray Souster, the Imperial Public Library gig last year to Milt, PurdyFests (year #8 coming up!) etc. etc. .

Somehow I've managed to do all these things on an extremely limited budget (& also publish 2 books with Hidden Brook Press), but as I continue to age I know I'll be able to do less & less, & if I have to spend a substantial amount of my time & mental energy doing EXTREME budgeting, well, some of my planned golden age activities just ain't gonna happen. I'd love to finally tour Canada - I've never been to B.C., for God's sake. And I should be able to afford decent dental care - I need at least one root canal and possibly several fillings.

Even my little dog, Chase, is subject to the harshness of extreme budgeting. He is due for a visit to the vet, but I'm holding off on that. My old Sube is rusting & is possibly getting dangerous to drive. I sure won't be driving it on the 401 on a regular basis, which means I haven't been able to visit friends in TO, or attend literary events there for some time. Some good news, tho, as my mother has earmarked a nice $ gift for me, so I should have enough from that to repair the Sube into a temporary safe driver, & then in the spring buy a newer & safer used vehicle.   

But this is just so wrongheaded & counter productively cheap of the government to skin seniors for a few bucks. $500 more a month would mean a world of difference for me - the difference between being a happy, healthy & extremely productive senior, & one who is slowly sinking into dubious health & who is unnecessarily financially limited with his ability to contribute to society in so many areas.

Great to hear from you ... say hi to Norma from Chase & me ...
as always, peace & poetry power!
Chris ... & Chase Wrffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff!

p.s. I accepted your offer to share your letter, & it's now posted on my blog (following)

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Nov. 28, 2013


Thank you so much for taking the time to write us. We really do appreciate your response to the program as we always love hearing from our listeners. Due to the high volume of mail we receive at the show, I can not reply to each of you individually. Please be assured that all our incoming mail -- regardless of whether it is supportive or critical -- is distributed in our daily mail pack that is sent out to the entire staff here at The Current. This includes story ideas so producers who are interested in creating a pitch for the show can make a pitch at the story meeting.

I apologize for the impersonal reply. But please know we do read your letters and love hearing from you.

If you are requesting information, I will get back to you as soon as possible.


Lisa Ayuso
Associate Producer
The Current, CBC Radio One

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October 09, 2009

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Springtime in Paudash: Kathy Figueroa

Springtime In Paudash

~by Kathy Figueroa


Spring hath graced the land
With a golden hue
Winter's ice and snow hath given way
To gentle dew
Bright flowers unfurl and bees do hum
As I roam about in delirium

Oh, mighty God
Oh, Mother Earth
Your creation is esteemed above all worth
You are so infinitely wondrous,
Magnificent and wise
But tell me: Why black flies?

Two billion wings doth beat as one
As a ghastly shadow darkens the sun
The spectre of frogs and locusts
Falling from the skies
Would be a relief
Compared to a billion black flies.

Bubonic plague infected rats
Swarms of hungry, rabid bats
Hornets, slugs and buzzing gnats
Won't suck your blood until you die
Like the flying piranha known
As, “Black Fly.”

Oh, woe to you, foolish mortal
Who would venture through
An open portal
To mow the lawn
Or walk the dog
'Tis better, right now, to be a frog.

This poem was first published in The Bancroft Times newspaper on May 25, 2006. It was printed again on May 15, 2008, and June 17, 2010. "Springtime In Paudash" was also published in the April, 2008, issue of the Mohawk Nation Drummer newspaper and it's included in Kathy Figueroa's book Paudash Poems, which was published by Brian Wrixon Books in July, 2012.

Click to preview Paudash Poems pocket and trade book

Canadian poet, Kathy Figueroa, lives in a rugged rural area of Ontario known as, “Cottage Country.” This beautiful, scenic region and its inhabitants have often provided the inspiration for the poetry she writes. Kathy likes to create the old-fashioned style of verse that tells a story and serves to entertain an audience. Well-known to newspaper readers in the Bancroft area, Kathy’s poems have been published since 2006 and her freelance newspaper articles and photographs first appeared in 2004. Kathy’s first book, “Paudash Poems,” was published in 2012.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

BUILDING SANCTUARY (Vietnam War resisters in Canada) UBC Press

Yesterday I received an email from author Jessica Squires that this book has been published. Included is my haiku "draft resister/watching the ducks/fly south". This is the umpteenth publication for this very personal and political poem.  Here's the blurb from UBC Press:

Building Sanctuary
The Movement to Support Vietnam War Resisters in Canada, 1965-73

Jessica Squires  

$95.00 Hardcover
Release Date: 10/4/2013
ISBN: 9780774825245  

376 Pages


About the Book

Canada enjoys a reputation as a peaceable kingdom and a refuge from militarism. Yet Canadians during the Vietnam War era met American war resisters not with open arms but with political obstacles and resistance, and the border remained closed to what were then called "draft dodgers" and "deserters."

Between 1965 and 1973, a small but active cadre of Canadian antiwar groups and peace activists launched campaigns to open the border. Jessica Squires tells their story, often in their own words. Drawing on interviews and government documents, she reveals that although these groups' efforts ultimately met with success and helped shaped debates about nationalism and Canada's relationship with the United States, they had to overcome state surveillance and resistance from police, politicians, and bureaucrats.

The sixties live on in the memories of those who experienced them and in the imagination of a new generation seeking a deeper knowledge of contemporary protest movements. By telling the story of the Canadian movement to support Vietnam war resisters, Building Sanctuary not only brings to light overlooked links between the anti-draft movement and immigration policy -- it challenges cherished notions about Canada in the 1960s and Canadian-American relations today.

About the Author(s)

Jessica Squires is an independent scholar of Canadian political, social, and cultural history who lives and works in Gatineau, Quebec.
Table of Contents


Introduction: War Resisters in Context

1 We Help Them Because Their Need Is Great: The Canadian
Anti-Draft Movement

2 Transnational Connections: US Groups and Other Canadian

3 Deserters: Treatment, Tactics, Identity

4 Opening the Border: 1969

5 The Limits of Left Nationalism: The Campaign to Open the

6 Hegemonic Reflections: Inside and Outside the Movement

7 Last Chance to Get Landed: Immigration Department Strategies,
Anti-Draft Movement Responses, 1971-73

Conclusion: A Contested Refuge from Militarism

Appendices; Notes; Bibliography; Index

Building Sanctuary is a fascinating study of war resistance and the sixties in North America. Based on official police records as well as oral interviews and newspaper evidence, it not only tells the engrossing story of the immigration to Canada of about forty thousand US war resisters but also subtly analyzes the political and ethical issues raised by resistance to the War in Vietnam. At a time when a reactivated militarism once more challenges progressives throughout the world, Jessica Squires provides us with an inspiring, insightful account of how an earlier generation of activists fought the madness of war -- and emerged with some precious, if fragile, victories. A must-read for students of modern Canada, antiwar activism, and the sixties.
-- Ian McKay, Department of History, Queen’s University
Sample Chapter

Sample Chapter [PDF]
Related Topics

History > Canada

Other Ways To Order

In Canada, order your copy of Building Sanctuary from UTP Distribution at: UTP Distribution
5201 Dufferin Street
Toronto, Ontario
M3H 5T8
Phone orders: 1(800)565-9523 or (416)667-7791
Fax orders: 1(800)221-9985 or (416)667-7832

Ordering information for customers outside Canada

© 2001 UBC Press
2029 West Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, V6T 1Z2
t. 604.822.5959 | f. 604.822.6083 | e.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Anti-War Day poem: Jim Christy

'spooning skeletons of Nagasaki': Jim Christy poem

--Chris, couldn't resist typing this up and sending it along. First published ten years ago in
the Georgia Straight in Vancouver. It will never go out of date ---------

Poll indicates desire for stronger defensive
capabilities. More destroyers,
bombers, missiles needed.

Me, I wonder who's buried beneath
soldiers' bones in Flanders Field

Quick: Who fought the Hundred Years War?
Was the War of the Roses anything
but a bad movie? What the hell
was that Franco-Prussian thing about?

Ten thousand buddhists
with begging bowls
on the moonlight road
of 1310.

Which was the first to rise
and flourish
and expire? Olmec,
Toltec or Aztec?

Did Etruscans have insomnia
same as me?

The lives of entire generations
of women and men make up
but a few lines in the palimpsest
of the Great Spirit.

From tree tops and belfries
through the skies of my dreams,
falling ass over tea kettle,
all the snipers of history.

What constituted paleolithic
pillow talk?

Into the Stein River Valley cave.
we tumbled eager for our love
and loved, and only then,
sated, saw three deer on the wall.
Who drew the deer family?

You who are
in charge:   stick your
stealth bombers up your ass
Go fuck yourself with your polls
and politics.

That's you and me, my sweet,
spooning skeletons of Nagasaki.


Ed Baker has left a new comment on your post "'spooning skeletons of Nagasaki': Jim Christy poem...":


and now as then or is "it"
then as now and we who are
in the now here continue
the seemingly useless thrusting:

the writing down of our own-ed bones

write on .... Mother !

Posted by Ed Baker to Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens at 10 November 2012 09:02


Conrad DiDiodato has left a new comment on your post "'spooning skeletons of Nagasaki': Jim Christy poem...":

"You who are
in charge: stick your
stealth bombers up your ass
Go fuck yourself with your polls
and politics.

That's you and me, my sweet,
spooning skeletons of Nagasaki"

Love this poet!

Posted by Conrad DiDiodato to Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens at 10 November 2012 09:14

Ed Baker has left a new comment on your post "'spooning skeletons of Nagasaki': Jim Christy poem...":

just thought of something phunnie
re: the drawing ...

all that is left
two lovers' skeletons
who from here can tell

which one has the boner

Posted by Ed Baker to Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens at 10 November 2012 09:21


haiku/senryu for JC

gold tooth glint
enters the room:
Jim Christy

- Chris/cricket

Friday, 8 November 2013

fan letter for EEL PIE DHARMA

I so love Eel Pie Dharma

Practically everything in it is part of my history too. I was born in Twickenham, and my parents then lived in Kingston upon Thames – long story as we as a family moved away but at 13 I went back on my own as I ran away from home and lived in squats and on the street in an area I felt at home in, which was  Kingston and South London.

And ‘The Three fishes’ pub was a huge part of my life then and a place where both my husband and I went

It was an important place for me and apparently also my husband  as  in the late 60s and 70s we both went there - yet ironically we did not know each other then as we only  met and got together as a couple in  about 1983/4 in Raynes Park where by then we both lived .

But we probably even talked to each other in the Three fishes or in and around Twickenham, Surbiton or Kingston.– and as I was soooo promiscuos then, sometimes I rack what is left of my brains to work out if he was ever one of the many I picked up there and had sex with ??

My husband  says not! He says he would remember if he had ever met me and especially if he had sex with me then (a liar but flattering just the same )
But also adds that like many guys at that pub then he was usually too stoned or tripping ( LSD) to have sex as any part of his agenda or possibility ( this is probably more near the truth)

We both visited  Eel Pie island – again did not know each other but we both went to it as did many young people who lived around that area in the 60s and 70s and as we are 60 and 61 long before we were old enough to be there as we were probably 13 or so? Saw some bands play there too if I remember through the mist of time and destroyed brain cells??

I dabbled with being a skinhead for a while sadly – many women could and did interchange – I had Julie Driscol hair ( do you remember that ?

And when I wanted to take Blues or Dex and dance ( driminal or Dexedrine ..speed ) I would join the skins and when I wanted to lay back and chill smoke and take Acid I would join the hippies – as said women could be flexible with who they hang out with depending on mood, men could not do this so easily

But  my husband was a mod but was a skinhead for a little while before he discovered LSD
I squatted – but my squat was the top floor flat in Elgin Avenue, shared with someone called Joe
Went to a few free Hyde park concerts
I went to 2 the Isle of Wight Concerts – Dylan I think  was 15 then when at this one and I bunked in, no ticket, climbed the wall and Hendrix so out of it remember I was there but nothing else

Stayed with the Hare Krishnas when homeless in central London at one point.
Stonehenge – lived down the road form there for a while in the late 60s , spent many a night stoned on the stones

Worked just outside of Penzance in 1971 met Ralph M and others as I worked at the Station hotel Penzance  where the folk and rock music was held then

Went back to London lived in another squat in Notting hill
Certainly got the clap , a few times and visited clap clinics
Went to the first Glasto and before that sheperton Mallet festivals
Lived on a small holding in Wales for a while

Ironically I live with HIV now – I was faithful to my husband since 1986 but my husband gave it to me when I was about 50 as he was not

Funny how life seems to go full circle in a way as I live back in Cornwall on a smallholding

Yes this book of yours read like a  huge ‘blast from my past’

Brought back so many memories and I have often thought of writing them down – maybe now I will?


A Hidden Brook Press book "The Texture of Days, in Ash and Leaf" by Bruce Kauffman

Saturday, 2 November 2013

doctor acorn (chapbook 'review' of IN A SPRINGTIME INSTANT)

frog hollow press

Offered as a Sewn soft-covered limited edition book of 52 pp. Printed on 57 lb. 100% PCW paper with a full colour cover and multiple greyscale endpapers.
Typeset in Garamond Premier Pro.
Note: this book will be launched at UNB’s Poetry Weekend, in Fredericton, New Brunwick, October 4-6, 2013.
Pre-orders can be taken prior to the launch date.
Edition of 150 numbered copies.
ISBN 978-1-926948-12-6 Price $17.50

Hi James,
Thanks for the update on the MULBERRY TREE launch. Yes, if the weather holds, & I can manage to replace my dilapidated Subaru in time, I plan to enjoy dining with everyone at the Supermarket.

My eyes are still very blurry from my first read-thru of Shane Neilson's chapbook-length 'review' of SPRINGTIME INSTANT -  "doctor acorn, or: how I joined the Canadian Liberation Movement and learned to love the stern nurse fusion-bomb sun". Congrats to both of you - not many poetry collections warrant a 50-page, limited edition chapbook for a review!

All in all, Shane is very positive about your editorial selections. There is a hoot of a description of the IFPOR launch, but then, making fun of poetry readings is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel (a popular sport out here in redneck country). Ask me sometime about Morley, the first Crowe Lake fishing contest, & our 'bass in a rain barrel' escapade.

It's fascinating how each of us takes from Milt & his work such different things, & yet we are all in eventual agreement on his genius as a poet. Whether it's as a political poet (yeah, making fun of the whole People's Poetry thing is just shooting a few more bass in barrels), or the appreciation of Milt's sweet nature poetry, or his fiery combining of opposites (dialectics) - Milt's strong personality & presence are always present in his best poems.

You gotta buy one of the 150 copies, if you haven't already ...

peace & poetry power!
Chris ... & Chase Wrfffffffffffffffffffffffffff! (resting up for dinner)

p.s. Terry managed to scoop me & read it first - I've never known Terry to giggle like a schoolgirl before  :  )