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Pickle Me This

February 7, 2020

Why We Stand With Teachers

What is most abhorrent to me about how our provincial government is currently trying to spin negotiations with teachers unions in Ontario is that educators are on the front line of this government’s reckless cuts.

And cuts to education are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the challenges our teachers are meeting every day. Maybe the Minister of Education knows this and he just doesn’t care? Or else he has absolutely no idea. (As a person with no background in public education, it’s possible.)

Reductions to minimum wage/ opioid crisis/ cuts to social services/ autism support/ healthcare/ housing/ mental health problems/ domestic violence/ poverty—you name it. Combatting these problems are what teachers do, in addition to teaching (which teachers do well).

One morning last week, I spent fifteen minutes in the school office waiting for a meeting, and I saw it myself, educators rising to the occasion and meeting these challenges with ingenuity and grace.

I wrote a bit about this last year. I challenge people with strong opinions about teachers’ working conditions who have not set foot inside a school since 1976 to maybe update their info.

The one thing that Minister of Education has done well is put his face on EVERYTHING, so we forget that he is only one part of this terrible, incompetent government whose recklessness is going to cost this province for YEARS.

These shambles are not just Stephen Lecce’s. They belong to Doug Ford, and all the MPPs who have paved the way forward for this government. (STILL smarting over what they did to our city council mid election. I will never get over that, and neither should you.)

Our teachers, our public schools: THESE are our social safety net. It’s still full of holes, but it’s the best one we got.

This is why I stand with educators, and Lecce etc. need to shut up and start listening, and maybe learn a thing or two, even if what he learns fails to conform with his ideology (because REALITY).

(I wrote this on Twitter in December, but wanted to post somewhere where it wouldn’t get lost.)

June 13, 2019

We Need Each Other: Part Two

No writer is an island, as much as many of them try to fashion themselves as such. But those of us who are paying attention know how everything is connected. (Do read Kimmy Beach on how injections are friendship are essential to the writing life!). Which is why I think that having a bookstore with only four books in it is a thing that really matters.

Okay, hear me out.

Four books, each by writers who live in different parts of the country, published by four different Canadian independent publishers. But these books look good together, and side by side they’re selling a few more copies than they would have on their own. And as a Canadian writer, I benefit from this, even though my own book is not one of the four, not least because as a Canadian writer I am necessarily a Canadian reader, and so everything that promotes good books and reading is to my benefit. But also because getting these great books into the hands of great readers serves to enrich our reading culture, and a rich reading culture serves every single one of us with books to sell, even if it’s not my book they’re selling.

This is also why we’re encouraging readers to seek out Briny Books titles at their local indie bookstores, if they’re lucky enough to have one. Yes, indeed, we’ve got free shipping, but I personally know that a trip to the bookstore is even more exciting than a book in the post (even with the free shipping). Our mail order business is intended to woo the reader who is wedded to Amazon purchases or who has to drive for miles to land at a place that sells books at all, let alone excellent ones. But all readers and writers benefit from a culture in which indie bookstores are thriving, and so we want to help that happen. With bookselling too, as with reading, writing, and everything, it’s way more fun when you’re doing it together. It’s not a contest, or a race—it’s a network.

I want to challenge our notions of scarcity. Or maybe rather to acknowledge that even within a culture of scarcity, a spirit of of generosity is powerful, and that we will always have more when we have it together, because what we have in each other is actually priceless.

Pre-Order my New Novel: Out October 27


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