Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sorry, I didn't realize that we lived in CHINA!

The Conservative government announced Wednesday that it plans to prorogue Parliament until March 3, said the Prime Minister's Office.

Parliament has been scheduled to resume its current session on January 25, following the holiday break, but a spokesman for Stephen Harper said that the government will instead appeal to the Governor General to end this session of Parilament and then will wait until March 3 to deliver a new Speech from the Throne.

"This is quite routine but it is also important to give Canadians an overview of where we will be taking the country over the next little while," said Harper's spokesman, Dmitri Soudas.

Routine is a bit of an understatement. This is the second time that Stephen Harper has appealed to the Governor General to allow him to prorogue Parliament.

In choosing to prorogue, all bills and committees that are currently before the House of Commons are wiped off the table- in this case, one of the Tories' crimes bills will be finished, as will the Parliamentary committee looking into the allegations of Afghan detainee abuse.

Prorogation would also prevent Question Period criticisms from Opposition MPs during the Olympics.

Liberal House leader Ralph Goodale called the move "almost despotic," and described the government's justifications for prorogation as "a joke."

What we have now is a bit of a dilemma. While the GG could technically refuse Harper's request to prorogue Parliament, to do so could be widely criticized as an intervention in the free affairs of government. On the other hand, if she allows Harper to prorogue then she is effectively condemning the entire framework of responsible government, which is that the government in power be held accountable for its actions.

Muzzling opposition criticisms just because the world eye is on Canada during the Olympics is no different than Beijing's swift and brutal repressing of citizen dissent leading up to the 2008 Olympics. While Harper would be able to shut down legitimate opposition during the Olympics, he could also risk drawing the ire of foreign nations who were quick to criticize China for its opposition muzzling in 2008.

How does it reflect on Canada that we are willing to continually re-elect a prime minister who repeatedly refuses to accept accountability for the crimes and short-fallings of his government?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Shooting Our Reputation to Hell

The Conservatives have rejected calls for a public inquiry into the allegations of Afghan detainee torture presented by a former senior diplomat.

Richard Colvin, a former senior diplomat with Canada's Afghan mission, told a House of Commons committee on the Afghan mission that Canada was aware of torture being used against detainees who were transferred to Canadian custody to Afghan prisons.

Colvin said that between 2006 and 2007 Canada was warned by the Afghan intelligence service that detainees would be tortured, yet handed them to Afghan prisons anyway. Torture techniques included sleep deprivation, electrical shocks, and rape, he said. He also told committee members that most of the detainees were not Taliban, but rather individuals who had been in the wrong place at the wrong time- only a couple are thought to be foot soldiers.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay has responded by saying that there will be no public inquiry into the allegations, which the government feels lack credibility. He said that Canadians are being asked to accept the word of prisoners "who throw acid in the face of schoolgirls."

Except that they're not. We're being asked to think about testimony that has been given by a senior diplomat, a man who has everything to lose and nothing to gain by coming forward. While I fully agree that we should not instantly jump to assumptions about what happened or why, we do need to be prepared to seriously investigate the allegations of torture. Unless the Canadian government investigates this issue and is able to honestly clear its name, our reputation will be as sullied as that of the United States under the Bush administration.

How can we even think to criticize countries like China for their human rights abuses when we harbour a dark stain, whether or not it is true, that removes any and all credibility behind our moral authority?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

So true.

Apparently, I'm not the only one whose mind is boggled by the new CNN

Oops, sorry..'CBCNN'

Monday, October 26, 2009

Wow, CBC

The CBC premiered its new look Monday, with brand new shows and apparently, a whole new focus on what constitutes quality reporting.

During the new Politics & Power segment, Evan Solomon interviewed three people involved in the environmental protests that took place today during Question Period on Parliament Hill. One of the participants was brought in to the CBC newsroom and put on camera, with blood dried on his face after what protesters described as a 'violent' removal from the House of Commons.

How long would it have taken for someone behind the scenes to wipe the blood of his face? Apparently, CBC didn't care to take the time to clean up their source before his big interview because they were more focused on shocking audiences than getting to the root of the issue. The entire interview reeked of the rabid sensationalist tactics popularized by American newsrooms. After all, "if it bleeds, it leads."

Am I the only one who thinks that quality reporting should not rely on vapid shock tactics to grab audiences? And taking into consideration the budget cuts that CBC was handed early this year, where did they get the money for such a dramatic overhaul? Maybe they budgeted too much for new green screens and tailoring for their anchors and forgot all about paying actual reporters to go out and investigate news.

While I realize that CBC is facing intense competition from CNN and other breaking news networks, they should not be resorting to the old adage, "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." What message does this hold for the future of Canadian reporting? Newspapers have collapsed due to the recession, radio has failed to attract a broad audience in the news sector, and now broadcast is sinking into the depths of sensationalism. If this is an indication of what news values the CBC intends to respect during the coming years, I'm petrified for journalists and attempting-to-be-informed citizens across the country.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Isn't Quebec the French Province?

The Supreme Court of Canada handed down a unanimous ruling on Thursday that will force Quebec to change a law that restricts the number of students who are allowed to attend the province's public English schools.

A class-action lawsuit brought forth by 25 families challenged a Quebec law which they say is unconstitutional because it forces many English-speaking students into the French language school system. Students must meet extensive criteria laid out by the provincial government in order to qualify to attend one of Quebec's publicly-funded English language schools.

Students who do not meet the criteria must either pay tuition at a private English-language school or else attend the publicly-funded French schools. The Supreme Court ruling has overturned this provincial law, and has given Quebec one year to come up with a new policy.

Maybe this is just the Anglophone in me, but isn't Quebec our french province? Its most basic reason for being is to preserve and foster the French culture. It was not created in hopes of being a place where English-speaking people can go about their lives as they would in Ontario or British Columbia. I am left with the question, why would someone who does not speak French and has no desire to be immersed in French move to Quebec? There are nine other provinces that offer publicly-funded English education; why are people targeting the one province with an actual justification for not funding English education? The number of people in Quebec who are fully bilingual is far more than any other province, except maybe New Brunswick, and clearly demonstrate that the French language system in place is not as negative as it is being made out to be.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

No More Excuses

Halifax archbishop Anthony Mancini addressed his parishioners on Sunday about the disturbing story of Bishop Raymond Lahey, which broke earlier this week.

Sunday marked the first time that parishioners across the Maritimes met since Lahey, former bishop of the Antigonish diocese, turned himself in to Ottawa police. He is charged with possession and importation of child pornography, and is currently out on $9 000 bail.

"You think, and many people think, that all we've got to do is throw more money at it, throw more structure at it, throw more psychiatrists at it, and at the end of it all we're going to come up with this wonderful, perfect structure. And you know what? That's never going to happen," Mancini said to parishioners on Sunday.

"So is it gonna happen again? Yeah, of course it's gonna happen again. What all we can do is try to prevent and try to make sure that we put up all the safeguards that we can possibly put up."

What kind of person is okay to just accept priest perversion as a reasonable situation? Mancini argues that there is next to nothing that people can do to prevent pedophiles from entering the priesthood, but he is missing the most obvious solution to the problem; let priests have sex.

The more forbidden something is, the stronger the pull towards what the mind sees as 'forbidden fruit.' By enforcing celibacy, the Roman Catholic Church only forces eroticism and sexual desires of its clergy under the surface, where they stew and ferment. In my opinion, it's these pent-up sexualities that manifest themselves in extreme and perverted behaviour.

Whenever news breaks about priests molesting children or watching child pornography, it is rarely (if ever) priests outside of the Roman Catholic Church. Why? Because reverends and ministers and preachers are allowed to marry and have loving, healthy sexual relations. In marriage there is an outlet for sexual desires, and they do not become evil and twisted as so often seems to happen within the minds of Roman Catholic clergy.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

For once, an admirable action from Harper

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Wednesday that Canadian officials will be boycotting Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's address to the UN General Assembly because of his remarks concerning the Holocaust.

Speaking from Oakville, ON, Harper said that "there are times when things are being said in this world that it is important that countries that have a moral compass speak up, make their views known... Our absence there will speak volumes about how Canada feels about the declarations of President Ahmadinejad."

Ahmadinejad has repeatedly denied the Holocaust, and said that was a pretext for occupying Palestinian lands. He was quoted by Irna, the official Iranian news agency, as saying that "God willing, in the near future we will witness the destruction of the corrupt occupier [Israel] regime."

His comments were given to students at a conference in Iran called 'The World without Zionism,' which drew about 3 000 people.

This is the first and probably only time I will ever say this, but Harper has done exactly what needs to be done in this situation. His refusal to attend the address will speak volumes about Canada, and also displays a level of dignity that I really did not think this Conservative leader was capable of. If he is willing to risk angering Middle Eastern leaders by openly opposing their views on Israel, then he's got some guts. Hopefully, Canada's absence will show that not only can we legitimately claim credit to our reputation as a peacemaker, we are also willing to take a stand on important moral issues.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

How considerate of the Tories...

First Nations communities across the country have received more than 200 body bags from the government in preparation for the coming H1N1 epidemic said Jim Wolfe, director of First Nations and Inuit Health of Manitoba on Thursday.

Public condemnation was quick to follow the shipment, with federal health minister Leona Aglukkaq promising to launch a probe into the decision, which she called "insensitive and offensive."

"As minister of health and as an aboriginal, I am offended. To all who took offense at what occurred, I want to say that I share your concern, and I pledge to get to the bottom of it," she said.

The shipment has sent shock waves of fear through First Nations communities, for whom 'swine flu' is a particularly sensitive topic. Jim Wolfe was quick to describe the process by which medical supplies are shipped to First Nations, noting the difficulty of shipping supplies to isolated reserves during the winter months. According to him, the body bag shipment was nothing more than a regular delivery that came at a bad time.

But if the shipment was nothing more than a regular delivery, why on earth would health officials risk igniting public fear and outrage by delivering it with H1N1 preparation kits? Surely there must have been someone who saw this decision and thought to themselves, now this might not turn out too well. Rather than arguing whether this shipment was right or wrong, I think people should be thinking about whether it was STUPID or smart.

It could be the most regular shipment in the world, but when it comes at a time like this when society is in the grips of fear of an epidemic, a delivery of body bags is sure to incite anger, fear, hurt, and public condemnation. If a person in a position of power failed to recognize this, then clearly there needs to be a reviewal of whether that person is sensible and sensitive enough to be working in such a position of prominence in Canadian society.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Is This the Cost of 127 Canadian Lives?

It is suspected that Afghan president Hamid Karzai has used a constitutional loophole to enact a controversial law that allows Muslim men to withhold food from their wives if the man's sexual desires are not met, said women's rights activists Monday.

The law, which applies to the Shia Muslim minority, contains a section saying that a man can withhold financial support for his wife if she refuses to "submit to her husband's reasonable sexual enjoyment," according to a translation by Human Rights Watch.

According to Afghan lawmakers, Karzai used a parliamentary recess to approve the law by presidential decree. With only days left to the Afghan election this latest move is an attempt to appease the Shia minority, who constitute approximately 20% of the electorate.

While Karzai was the Western-picked favourite for presidential candidate in the 2004 elections, it is evident that he is cares little for the progression of Western ideals in the country. There have been 127 Canadians lost fighting for progress and democracy in a country that has just demonstrated how futile a fight we are fighting. Did no one realize that by establishing democracy in an religious state, we were only giving Afghanistan the tools to fuse religion with a Western-appointed government?

We can talk all we want about how we are there to bring democracy. We can spend billions of dollars setting up a parliamentary system to represent the concerns and demands of the Afghan people. But when the system is actually put into action, we see that it is following all the rules of democratic proceedings, and that the people's will is being put into law. The only problem is what the Afghan people demand from their government is not what we think they should demand

We are now in a catch-22; the new law stands against all the values, efforts, and sacrifices of our troops, but we cannot interfere in the vile (yet still legal) proceedings of Afghan democracy because we ourselves have forced the system into being. It is entirely legal, despite its repulsiveness, and that is the hypocrisy of our war in Afghanistan.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Face of Prejudice

The Federal Appeals Court of Canada yesterday in a 2-1 verdict upheld their decision that Prime Minister Stephen Harper must seek repatriation of Guantanamo-held detainee Omar Khadr.

Khadr, who was brought to Gitmo as a 15-year old, has been the subject of intense debate over the jurisdiction of Canadian courts in foreign affairs. Justice Marc Nadon was the dissenting vote in the three judge appeal panel, and said that "whether Canada should seek Mr. Khadr's repatriation at the present is a matter best left to the executive."

Justice Nadon's dissent raises a whole basket of questions about the legal proceedings surrounding Khadr's case. Khadr is a Canadian citizen, therefore are we not legally required to repatriate him? Harper seems to consider Canadian citizenship as a ranked system, one in which he should be allowed to administer the benefits and Charter rights as he sees fit.

The government's failure to repatriate Khadr is an embarrassment on an international level. Canada is the only Western country who has not repatriated their citizens from Gitmo.

Lt. Cmdr William Kuebler is one of Khadr's lawyers, and has predicted that US President Barack Obama would not resist the request, if Harper were to make it.

"It’s a tremendous embarrassment, what we’ve done to this young man in terms of detention and interrogation, in terms of fabricating evidence and false allegations against him, and I can’t imagine that the Obama administration would do anything other than jump at the chance to send this young man home if the Canadian government followed this decision and asked for his return," he said.

The real question at hand should be one of justice. Khadr was 15-years old when he threw a grenade that killed an American soldier during a 2002 gunfight in Afghanistan. Does this crime in and of itself deserve a life-sentence in Gitmo? No, it does not. If a 15-year old child soldier from the Congo shot and killed an Canadian soldier, would we lock them up? No, the child would be brought to a place where they can be rehabilitated and de-programmed. Since 2004, more than 2 300 children worldwide have been received by UNICEF-founded rehabilitation and reintegration centers around the world.

Did Khadr kill the American soldier? Indisputably. Did he believe that he was doing a good deed? Probably. Did he hate American soldiers? Likely. Did he come to this conclusion of his own accord? No. Everything that caused him to kill the American soldier was a result of his father's brainwashing, and regardless of Khadr's age right now, he deserves the same chance at rehabilitation as any other child soldier.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

2009 vs. the Dark Ages?

In the high-profile trial of Ottawa mayor Larry O'Brien, the residing judge made the decision not to use corroborating evidence for the Crown's key witness because it was given by a mother who commutes to work.

Mr. "Justice" Douglass Cunningham of the Ontario Superior Court is 69 years old and chose to disregard the evidence given in court and under oath by Queen's Park politician Lisa MacLeod because he felt she was "distracted."

MacLeod is a 34 year old wife and mother who commutes during the week from Ottawa to Toronto for her job in Queen's Park. Judge Cunningham said that this is a big distraction for her, and as a result he could not accept her testimony as corroborative evidence.

Nancy Peckford is the national director for Equal Voice, an organization promoting women in public office, and she hit the bull on the nose when she told Globe & Mail reporters that "it is unfortunate that any woman in Ms. MacLeod's situation may be regarded as less reliable because of the demands placed on her life as a politician...Would the same approach have been taken with a male politician who is commuting and has a young family at home? Probably not."

Why is it that in our modern, 21st century society women are still expected to place child-care as their top priority in life? Men can have careers and families without anyone judging them for neglecting their children; in fact, the "absent/working dad" syndrome is so commonplace and accepted in our society that it is almost cliche. Yet reverse the situation and a woman who prioritizes her career is instantly rebuked and negated for having abandoned her children and family. We do not know every detail of Ms. MacLeod's life story, and no one, especially a judge, has the right to assume her thoughts and feelings about the cost of her job as a politician on family life.

If a Toronto mother witnessed a murder in Detroit while on a business trip, would her witness testimony be ignored on the grounds that she must have been too "distracted" at the time of the crime to provide substantial evidence?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Wolves in Sheep's Clothing

The Roman Catholic diocese of Antigonish, N.S on Friday announced a $13 million settlement to victims of sexual abuse stemming as far back as 1950.

The class-action lawsuit was initiated by Ronald Martin and covers anyone who claims to have been abused by any priest of the Catholic Episcopal Corp. of Antigonish since 1950. The suit was filed last year, and claimed that the Pope instructed the church to institute a policy that would keep sex-abuse allegations against priests secret, under threat of excommunication.

How is it that the Roman Catholic Church can blatantly justify and defend sexual predators, such as the priests of Antigonish, and not face immense international condemnation? While Vatican City's refusal to join the United Nations makes it immune from sanctions and punishment on a global scale, it also allows this tiny state to essentially govern free of any binding international commitments or regulations.

Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that member states must "take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social, and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence...including sexual abuse, while in the care of parents, legal guardians, or any other person who has care of the child."

It's no surprise that Vatican City has not joined the United Nations; many of the UN resolutions work to limit the exploitation and abuse of children around the world. What would happen if the Church was forced to actually enforce international abuse laws against their own priests and clergymen?

There wouldn't be enough priests left to fill a church.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

'Honour?' Methinks not....

On June 30, a car carrying three girls and another woman crashed into the Rideau Canal in Kingston. The incident has been suspicious in nature since its occurrence, and the case has taken another suspicious turn. Police have arrested three people, a Montreal couple and their 18-year old son, for the murder of their three daughters.

While police have not confirmed whether this crime was culturally motivated, they are currently looking into the possibility that it was an honour crime. The family originated from Kabul, Afghanistan and were practicing Muslims.

The case demands an examination into the number of radical Muslims living in Canada today. While a great deal of Muslim Canadians are well-adjusted, hardworking, and civilized individuals, there is increasing media attention shedding light on those who are not.

High profile murders such as that of Mississauga teen Asqa Parvez several years ago, and now this case, draws attention to the frightening number of radical Muslims living among Canadians. It is a difficult conundrum that we are in; on one hand we as Canadians pride ourselves on diversity and multiculturalism, while on the other hand we have a duty and obligation to defend the basic human rights of ALL of our citizens, regardless of their creed or sex.

How do we spot and catch the perpetrators of so-called 'honour killings?' It is too easy to call for immigration restrictions on all Muslims, when in reality that is not the answer. Unfortunately, it is no easier to spot and catch a would-be 'honour' crime perpetrator than it is to walk out on the street and randomly pick out a would-be serial killer. Hopefully, Canadians can bear in mind that Islam can be interpreted in any number of ways, much the same way as Christianity. Islam is not the only religion to produce monsters; Christianity bred the Bountiful polygamist cult, the assassination of Dr George Tiller, and countless other lowlifes throughout history. Islam is not necessarily the problem; it is the varying contexts in which Islam is interpreted that gives rise to monsters.

Monday, July 20, 2009

what will be, will be

The head of Ontario Provincial Police today announced the discovery of human remains about 95 kilometres north of Woodstock, ON, which they believe are "almost certainly" those of missing 8-year old Victoria Stafford.

"We have some very strong leads that cause us to believe that we have in fact located the human remains of Victoria Stafford," said OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino.

This recent discovery has caused an outpouring of anger and calls for capital punishment on CBC comment boards and blogs alike, which raises a difficult and heated question: should the death penalty be legalized in Canada?

While the 'eye for an eye' ideology does seem especially poignant in cases as tragic as that of Victoria Stafford, the actual process of instituting the death penalty is impractical and unrealistic for a nation such as Canada. The cost of conceiving, organizing, regulating, and applying capital punishment would be immense, not to mention irresponsible given the current economic climate. Look, for example, the challenges Obama is facing in instituting a new health care system. Now, add in the mix of emotion and radical ideology involved in the abortion debate. Combine the two, and now try to imagine any Canadian politician willing to invoke that kind of Charter overhaul.

It simply does not make sense to create such a system given the rare chance that it would actually be used. How many times is the death penalty handed down in US court cases? How many times is capital punishment actually carried out? Prisoners sit on death row for decades before actually being executed. Meanwhile, criminals who are convicted of murder and do not receive the death penalty head off to prison, where I wager to say they get what's coming to them in a much quicker and cost-effective way.

Why bother paying to institute the death penalty when the other inmates will deal out justice to the monsters who are convicted of preying on children? It is said that there is no honour among thieves, but that doesn't seem to be the case among prisoners. Screw keeping the child killers in isolation to 'protect them;' let them be subject to the mercy of other inmates.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Dignity vs Dignitas

In a Globe and Mail article published this morning, it was announced that the Quebec College of Physicians is contemplating whether to advocate the legalization of euthanasia. The College is set to release a document this fall with their findings from a three-year ethical task force, one of which is the conclusion that Quebec society has evolved to a point where it could tolerate euthanasia in specific circumstances.

This announcement reignites the "right to die" debate, and will force Canadian politicians and citizens alike to critically examine the state of palliative care in this country. Some will argue that if the quality of palliative care is increased, there will be no need for euthanasia. I argue that this is a separate situation. The question is not whether an individual receives adequate care while they are dying, but whether the individual should be forced to endure the process of dying in a way that is unappealing to them.

While most people confront the euthanasia debate from a "right to die" perspective, I have to say that it should be confronted from a "right to life" perspective. If life is a right, it entails that one also has the freedom to live their life in a way that is pleasing and enjoyable to them personally. An individual's (and in this case patient's) life is theirs to do with as they choose, and it is hypocritical that someone's "right to life" (and right to live life as they want it), should be curtailed by bureaucrats. If a person wants to die, that is their choice because it is their life. If they no longer want to live that life- or, as in euthanasia cases, they are dying anyways- that choice is theirs and theirs alone. The Canadian government does not control what clothes we put on in the morning or what music we listen to, or even what religion we practice. What right do they have to control how an individual wishes to end their own, and only their own, life?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Almost exactly two years ago, the world protested the Chinese crackdown on Tibet. Their lockdown on rioters drew international criticism, an outpouring of pro-Tibet sympathies, and threats to boycott the Beijing Olympics.

Now, there has been another crackdown on Chinese minority rioters; this time, the world is very nearly silent. When the Uyghurs rioted in Xinjiang earlier this month, Chinese police cracked down on the rioters, leaving 140 people dead and over 800 injured. The only thing the rioters demanded was justice in the June deaths in two Uyghurs.

Xinjiang rioters were not out to overthrow the government, re-instate religion, or demand autonomy. They asked for justice in the deaths of two of their own.

Why did the world speak out and condemn China's crackdown on Tibet, but is now unwilling to anger Beijing over its treatment of another minority riot? Any number of reasons could apply here: China's international power is greater now than it was two years ago, or maybe the Western powers just don't care that the crackdown was against Muslim minorities. Either way, it is sad that international powers have let this moment slide without so much as a slap on the wrist.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Kudos to the French

French president Nicolas Sarkozy took a courageous step forward on Monday in French legislature. A parliamentary commission is being proposed by French legislators, which would seek to address the growing trend of women wearing burkas in public.

Sarkozy told legislature,
"We cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of identity...I want to solemnly say that it will not be welcome on our territory."

If approved, the commission could propose legislation aimed at "banning the burka in public if it is found to be degrading to women," said government spokesman Luc Chatel, Friday.

This announcement by Sarkozy should put Canada and the West to shame. Our leaders are so concerned about offending the diverse electorate that they are unwilling to take a stance on issues of equality.

Maybe thats not the only thing holding Canada back. When the government pulls back funding from courts that hear pay equity cases, cuts a massive amount of funding to the Commission on the Status of Women in Canada, and allows for pay inequity in the name of economic stability (Bill C-10), one has to wonder whether they themselves even believe in equality for women. Heck, even the Globe and Mail admits that of the 125 workers who are to receive pay cuts in the coming months, 70% of them are women in female-dominated work areas.

Maybe the simple answer to why Canada is so unwilling to take a stance on women's rights, whether it be subjugation through wearing the burka or a general acceptance of pay inequity, is that Canadian politicians really just don't care about women. Period.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

so I guess Ted Bundy had two working parents...

Call it a nail in the coffin or career suicide; either way, Iris Evans' comment on child-raising is sure to see some swift repercussions.

The Alberta finance minister made her controversial comments this week at the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto. She told the crowd, "when you're raising children, you don't go off to work and leave them for somebody else to raise."

It gets worse.

"The huge failure of Canadians is not to educate the children properly, and then why should we be surprised when they have mental illnesses or commit dreadful crimes?" she said.

Let me get this straight. So if someone has a mental illness or is psychopathic, its their mother's fault for not staying at home to raise them?? I guess Ted Bundy and Paul Bernardo and Vincent Li would all be happy, loving people if their mothers had cleaned and cooked and tucked them into bed every night, right?

Who cares about hormonal imbalances, sexual abuse, and other factors that drove these individuals to commit their horrific acts when its just oh so easy to blame the problems on having a working mother? Apparently misogynistic behaviour would not exist if only mothers would stay at home with their children. Because that doesn't encourage sexist, irrational, stereotypical notions of aggressive masculinity at all.

Note to self: if you don't want your child to grow up to be an axe-murderer, you better quit your job and be a nice quiet housewife.

...Screw that.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

its about time she stops running

I have nothing but praise today for the Supreme Court's 8-1 decision to restore Kelly Ellard's second-degree murder conviction. The B.C teen was convicted in 1997 for her part in the drowning of Reena Virk.

Her trial and subsequent appeals are an example of the outrageous liberties that Canada allows to its convicted criminals. She has been allowed to appeal her case not once, not twice, but three times, each time pulling the Virk family over daggers as they are forced to relive their daughter's death. Ellard should have been allowed one appeal until the time came that she was eligible to apply for parole. Convicted criminals should not be allowed to continue causing pain to their extended victims, as Ellard was permited to do with the Virk family.

Unfortunately, having already served roughly seven years in prison, Ellard may soon be eligible to apply for parole. At the discretion of the Correctional Service of Canada it will be determined whether Ellard is eligible to apply for parole. Personally, I strongly feel that one year should be tacked on to Ellard's sentence to compensate the Virk family for each painful process of appeal. In Ellard's case, the three appeals would add up to three additional years in prison. That should be the case with all convicted criminals...the process of appeal, which can cause so much pain to extended victims, should be balanced by retribution on the part of the criminal for the continued suffering of families such as the Virks. If this were the case, maybe we would see a decrease in the number of appeals put forth by convicted criminals.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

PETA is trying to ride both sides of the debate

I think that at this point, the only suitable thing to say about PETA's proposed new ads is what the heck are they thinking?? The organization announced plans to launch these ads on billboads in Wichita, Kansas. This is the same city where Dr George Tiller was assassinated while attending church on May 31, and is a blatant attempt to capitalize on the tragedy of Dr Tiller's death.

The animal rights organization has overstepped its bounds and has feminists across the blogosphere in an uproar. Lindsay Rajt, campaign manager for PETA, says that the billboards were prompted by the recent shooting death of Dr George Tiller.

"The discussion of the value of life is front and centre right now in the public conversation," Rajt told reporters. "We think we would be irresponsible if we didn't talk about how we're all guilty of extreme cruelty to animals every time we sit down to a meal that includes meat."

PETA's enthusiastic response to Dr Tiller's assassination puts them in the same ballpark as radical conservative pulpits. The animal rights organization laments the slaughter of animals for corporate gain, but how do they feel about the slaughter of a human being for ethical imperialism?

I think we have our answer.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Bill 44

Buckle your seat belts everyone; we're about to blast back 100 years.

Alberta's recently introduced Bill 44 is the latest attempt by the Canadian government to intercede in the education of young people. The legislation gives parents the right to pull their children out of class when controversial subjects such as sex, religion, and sexual orientation are to be discussed.

The last time I checked Alberta was above the 49th parallel, so I am shocked to find that one of our own provinces has suddenly transformed into a macrocosm of hillbilly southern America. What good can possibly come of giving parents the 'right' to make sure that their child is removed from any and all thought-provoking discussion in the classroom.

Is school not supposed to be a place of learning, a place where students can develop critical thinking skills and learn to interact with others of different backgrounds? What Alberta has done ensures that dogmatic parents can indoctrinate their offspring and be guaranteed that their hard work will not be challenged by the process of group discussion and critical analysis. Christian parents can sleep easy knowing that their children can grow up to be conservative homophobic Creation-ists. Muslim parents can rest assured that their children will be able to escape discussion of Christian and Jewish histories, and can grow up to be faithful fundamentalists who live in a society within a society. Members of the queer community can go to sleep knowing that their rights as equal members of Canadian society are less than a generation away from being trampled by this fresh crop of 'educated' evangelicals and fundamentalists.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

who will be shielding who?

The Supreme Court of Canada yesterday heard an appeal in one of the five cases of journalist-source confidentiality that are currently on the table. Crown lawyers are arguing that allowing journalists to offer confidentiality to their sources will lead to journalists "shielding criminals."

This is an absurd attempt to restrict the freedom of the press as well as the ability of journalists to report accurately and on critical issues. The Crown's theatrical concern over the ability of journalists to "shield" criminals is nothing more than an extension of Stephen Harper's authoritarian despise for the free press. Having already tried to muzzle the Parliamentary Press Gallery, the conservative order is now trying to censor the Canadian press for reporting stories that it does not like.

If the Crown's true concern is the nature of confidentiality in shielding criminals, why not attack the Church for its confidentiality between confessor and the morally afflicted? If an individual commited the 'perfect' murder (no evidence, no way to prove it was them), and then confessed the act to a priest, the priest would still be bound by confidentiality to protect this secret. Surely the sins confessed within the Church are greater than the defamation or damage brought upon a politician through the tip of an anonymous source.

By taking away the offer of confidentiality, individuals will be far less inclined to reveal corruption or injustice to the media, for fear of repurcussions from either their employers or those in a position of higher power. Without the ability to contribute information confidentially, the entire structure of free press would collapse. Journalists would be left to report on what the government wants them to see, and there would be no way to unravel the corruption and back-room deals that plague modern government.

In other words, there would be no accountability. As any journalist or journalism student has learned, the key role of the media is to hold the government accountable. Freedom of press is a key mark of a free democratic society. Restricting confidentiality severely limits the freedom of the Canadian press. Without a truly free press, we have no democracy.

Friday, May 22, 2009

some promise

The Globe and Mail published an article this morning about the number of babies born in the developing world with AIDS. Despite a global promise to reduce the transmission of AIDS from mother to child, there are currently 900 babies born each day who have the virus.

How has it come to be that barely one third of the 1.5 million pregnant and HIV infected women in Africa receive the simple drug treatment that would protect their babies?Of this small proportion, only 8% are actually given the full course of treatment. Rather than working to spread awareness about the dangers of unprotected sex or setting up the infrastructure that could provide these women with medical treatment or abortions (both of which could save the lives of millions of women and children), the conservative world order has instead spent the past eight years throwing money at abstinence-only education. Texas alone spent an American national high of $17 million in 2008.

Let me put this in perspective. A one-year course of HIV drug treatment for one person costs as little as $92 (for a generic brand). The amount of money spent in Texas alone on abstinence-only sex ed could provide 184 782 people with this one year course of treatment!

There really is no excuse for the number of HIV and AIDS infected babies that are being born every day. If the problem was taking place on this scale in a developed country, you can be damn sure that Western governments would hop to the task of stemming the veritable epidemic. Unfortunatly, it seems to be the case that the governments of developed Western states care little, if at all, for the suffering of the developing world.

Monday, May 11, 2009

political imperialism

The continued protests of Canadian Tamils has drawn media attention as they blockaded the Gardiner Expressway last night. NDP and Liberal MPs came to the protest, promising to do more for Tamils in Sri Lanka.

This kind of behaviour from Canadian MPs is unacceptable. Jack Layton told CBC reporters that Canada has not been doing enough to stop the Sri Lankan government, and wants to put more government pressure on the Sri Lankan government to back down.

Who are we to demand this?

The Tamil Tigers are an ethnic army using violence and suicide bombers to fight oppression in Sri Lanka. If French Canadians decided to pressure the Canadian government into making Quebec independant but pursued this goal through use of terrorism and violence, of course the federal government would fight back to regain peace.

As long as the Tamil TIgers continue to use violence as a way to make their demands heard, the Sri Lankan government is entitled to fight back against a renegade army that threatens the stability of the country. The current protests demonstrate that the idea of political imperialism is growing amongst both civilians and politicians. The notion that we have the duty or right to pressure and interfere in another country's domestic affairs is ridiculous. Unless the government is unjustified in using force, there is no rational for foreign states to dictate the ways in which they are to deal with their domestic threats.

What Canadian politicians need to remember is that we are not the United States. Stephen Harper is not George W. Bush (and thank God for that!). We are not in charge of policing the world and it is not our right to make demands on a sovereign state just because we dissaprove of the ways in which they deal with their domestic issues.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


The Tamil Tigers have spent the last week protesting in front of Parliament Hill. Now, they have announced plans to launch a hunger strike and continue their protests for as long as it takes for the Canadian government to intervene.

The Tigers were recently condemned for extorting money from Canadian Tamils in order to raise money for their war against the Sri Lankan government, whom they claim are slaughtering innocent Tamils.

This is the same group who has been labelled as a terrorist organization by the Canadian government for their use of child soldiers (UNICEF has said that they have recorded 6 000 cases of child soldiers used by Tamils between 2003 and 2006). This is the group who begs the Canadian government to intervene, waving posters that record the number of "innocent women and children" that are being killed by Sri Lankan soldiers. Meanwhile, the Tigers are notorious for their use of women and children in suicide attacks. I am curious as to how many of the women they count are ones who strapped a vest around their body and blew themselves up.

While the civilians who protest at Parliament Hill are not bad people, I worry about the fury that will be indoctrinated into Canadian-Tamil youth as this ethnic war rages on. The protesting Tamils are blaming the Canadian government for not acting to stop the Sri Lankan government, yet they continue to engage in warfare. It is one thing for a group to be attacked by government forces as is the case in Darfur. It is another one completely for the group to have taken the first step towards militant aggression and then ask for help when they realize that they are losing what they started.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


One of Afghanistan's top clerics has said that the controversial marriage law cannot be changed because it has already been passed by both houses of parliament and signed by Hamid Karzai.

He then proceeded to comment on why women deserve to be sexual slaves to their husbands, saying "it is essential for a women to submit to the man's sexual desires...this is the right of a man."

Disgusting though this statement is, his next comment was even more disturbing.

"The Westerners claim that they have brought democracy to Afghanistan. What does democracy mean? It means government by the people for the people. They should let the people use these democratic rights."

The horrifying reality of this statement strikes home amidst the controversy surrounding Western reaction to the Afghan marriage law. Leaders who are claiming to be liberators must now face the fact that Afghanistan is like a rebellious adolescent; having been provided for by the big Western parents, it is now declaring its right to act on its own. While there is no debate that the Taliban is a brutal and horrific regime, the fact is that Afghanistan had stability under said regime. Our mission in Afghanistan has done nothing more than serve to ignite nationalistic fury.

When a nation and way of life is threatened, its people often feel the need to revert to traditional behaviour in order to preserve their culture. By invading Afghanistan and waging war against their culture, we have served to push Afghans, particularly rural families, back towards traditional and radical patriarchal practises.

It is important to keep in mind that in Canada, until 20 years ago, a husband could not be charged with rape for forcing his wife to have sex with him. Even during the feminist movement of the 1960s, domestic abuse was rampant and even feminists like Betty Friedan admitted to having been abused by their husbands. Until the middle of the 20th century, a women could not divorce her husband without proof of his adulterous behaviour.

Who are we to condemn a way of life that until 20 or 30 years ago was very much in practise here in Canada? Yes, we do not forcee our women to wear burqhas, but the gains that women have achieved in Canadian society have been achieved by women who were unsatisfied with their positions in life. The North American feminist movement was not a movement of men fighting for women's rights; it was women who organized to demand better for themselves and their daughters.

We cannot force change and liberation for Afghani women when they are not willing to demand it for themselves. Change must come from a revolution of ideas within the Afghan culture, not from militaristic pressure from a room of old warring men. Any attempts to force cultural change in Afghanistan will only push men into trying to reassert masculinity in the traditional patriarchal way that they understand it. It will not serve to better the lives of women. The women themselves must stand up, take off their burqhas, and organize to fight for their rights. We cannot force our standards of gender equality and feminism upon them.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

legitimizing the 'war on terror'

When news of Afghanistan's recently created legislation regarding the rights of women hit Western media, political leaders were quick to condemn it and newspapers across Canada called on Harper to pressure Hamid Karzai to withdraw the law. Editiorials sparked up in newspapers as people flooded the media with their concerns over our mission's 'purpose in Afghanistan. Lord Malloch Brown argued that protecting women was "one of the first reasons why the UK and many other Western countries threw themselves into this war."

No, it is not.

Canada entered Afghanistan to find Osama bin Laden, and so that we could avoid Bush's demands that we fight in Iraq. Right or wrong, we are there to fight against those who would do harm to the West, not to force Afghans to adapt to our way of life. While I fully despise and find despicable this law which would make women imprisoned to their husbands, I absolutely disagree with the way that women's rights are being exploited to provide justification for a failing war.
Harper and Western leaders knew when they invaded Afghanistan that the Taliban was treating women horribly, and that women's rights were being violated. Yet this did not matter when there was a bigger, more looming threat; bin Laden. Only when they realize that we cannot defeat bin Laden did politicians try to shift justification to the protection of women's rights. If the protection of women's rights is such an important cause for Harper and Western leaders, then why have they not invaded Pakistan or Turkey, where honour killings and crimes against women are an enormous problem?
The answer? Because Western leaders are not truly concerned with the rights of women in the Middle East. Harper needs to justify a war that a vast number of people are opposed to. The invoking of women's rights has only served to confuse Canadians as to what our actual purpose is in Afghanistan; this is something which can only be pleasing to Harper and other leaders involved in this war. Human rights are a much more emotive and volatile issue than simply embarking on a manhunt, and is more likely to garner the support of Canadians.
Canadians, already mystified by the Arab world, are more likely to support the goals of Western democratic imperialism if it is disguised as being a fight for women's rights. In reality, this war is quickly turning into nothing more than a way of destroying that which, right or wrong, is different from the way that we live our lives.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

public broadcasting

Stephen Harper's Conservatives have once again proved their level of dissent for non-partisan media. His government has previously attempted limiting the freedom of the media within the National Press Gallery, and now has moved to cutting $171 million from the CBC's budget.

This decision has forced the CBC to cut 800 jobs as well as several programs. It is also resorting to selling some $125 million worth of assets, which must then be approved by Culture Minister James Moore. The CBC has served as a national unifying force since its foundation more than 100 years ago. Its purpose was to create and foster Canadian nationhood through the broadcasting of programs and news that was significant to Canadians.

Contemporary times have seen the CBC airing Canadian content such as Degrassi, Corner Gas, and Little Mosque on the Prairie; these shows are distinctly Canadian and their popularity speaks to the role of the CBC in the lives of Canadian citizens. The programming cancellations that are to result from Harper's funding cut will certainly serve to divide and anger the Canadian population.

A public broadcaster is not the same as a private broadcaster in the same way that socialism is not the same as capitalism. While one is reliant and vulnerable to market forces, the other is nationalized and (ideally) sheltered from the goings-on of private entreprise. Harper said that "broadcasters, both public and private, are having a difficult time with the recession," yet the differences between the two are profound. While CTV is private and operates within the realm of the private sector, the CBC is publically funded in the same way that Catholic schools are in Ontario.

Rather than cutting funding to a historic national institution, why not make cuts to other publicly funded institutions such as Catholic school boards? Certainly the push towards a single rather than dual school system could provide plenty of money that could be used to help organizations such as the CBC. One would be hard pressed to say that society would be at a loss without a religious school system; the same can not be said if society were to lose the CBC because of Harper's authoritarian approach to non-partisan media.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

"out, damn'd spot!"

Of all the shortcomings of our modern justice system, the insanity plea has got to be the most damning. Individuals can be acquitted for murder if they can prove that they lack criminal responsibility, which in the case of Vincent Li, is being done through the insanity plea. Li admitted in his trial that he thought he was being guided by the voice of God, who told him to stab, decapitate, butcher, and cannibalize Tim McLean. This horrific act captured the attention of Canadian media, and shocked us to the core that such atrocity could happen in the back of a Greyhound bus.

Yet desbpite the brutality of the murder and the suffering of the victim, Li is now pleading not guilty by reason of insanity, and will most likely be found as such due to his schizophrenia. I do not care whether he was guided by God, hearing voices, seeing halluinations, or in any way otherwise crazy. He did what he did, and deserves to be punished on an equal scale with others who have committed such atrocities. Robert Pickton, who butchered innumerable women on his farm, committed terrible atrocities, the likes of which a typical person would consider crazy. Yet he is facing time as a sane person.

To me, arguing that an individual is not guilty by reason of insanity opens the door to a whole myriad of opportunites for individuals to excuse and justify their crimes. How long will it be before a religious fanatic is let off for murdering a non-beleiver and then claiming that they were acting on God's orders and are thereby insane?

By choosing to live in Canadian society, every single citizen is agreeing to abide by the laws and regulations that govern it. As such, they should be liable and responsible for any action done by them while they are a part of that society. No one should be exempt from justice, no matter how much they may dislike serving that justice. If Li resumes a place in society at any point in his life, I feel it is only a matter of time before he snaps once again, and who knows what other atrocity he will then commit. He deserves to spend the rest of his life locked up with others of his kind; cold-blooded murderers like Robert Pickton and Paul Bernardo.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

israeli apartheid?

so it's Israeli Apartheid week on campuses across Canada, and the media hasn't had this much controversy since Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament. This is an issue which has captivated people around the world, yet at the same time has misguided multitudes. It seems the popular thing to adopt the attitude of those who call out and condemn Israel for its attacks on Palestine. To so many, Israel is the schoolyard bully, the oversized ruffian who gets it thrills from picking on those smaller bespectacled loners.

When CUPE called for a boycott of Israeli academics earlier this year, it pointed the finger at Israel for its continued bombing of Palestine. What few people seem to realize is Israel's justification in trying to safeguard its citizens. Do they expect Israel to sit on her hands while Palestinians launch rocket attack after rocket attack into the homes of her people? It would seem so, as Israel remains the scapegoat for this conflict while Palestine sits quietly in the corner, wiping its eyes every now and then and plotting its next rocket attack.

I find it ironic how so many people are willing to condemn a state for its tactics of self-defense, when the United States has been involved in an unprovoked war for the last 7 years. They went in and attacked Iraq without provokation, without justification, and without care for the thousands of civilians who would die as casualties of Uncle Sam's incessant thirst for oil.

When millions of Tutsis were slaughtered in the Rwandan genocide, how many people sat up, paid attention, and condemend the United Nations for standing by? Very few. Yet we are willing to look upon Israel and condemn her for protecting her people from Palestine's aggression. This campaign against Israel is nothing more than a new face of anti-Semitism. No longer are people targeting Jews as a people, but rather the focus is on the Jewish state. People are looking for a way to Other-ize it, to cast it as this giant aggressor that will strike fear into the hearts of people.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


The CBC has always been considered the standard of excellence in Canadian broadcasting. Many aspiring journalists look to the examples of Peter Mansbridge, Keith Boag, and others to guide them in their career path. But last night, the CBC lost some of my respect during a broadcast focusing on the Afghan children killed by a Canadian rocket explosion. The camera technician zoomed into a shot of two children lying in a wagon, their faces covered in blood and their bodies mangled.

What gives CBC the right to exploit the grief of the Afghan people, and the families who lost their children? I highly doubt that any one will live to see the day when CBC broadcasts images of bloodied Canadian soldiers killed during war, for the simple reason that it is unethical. Exploiting the grief, and the tragedy of these children's deaths, goes against the most basic framework of journalism ethics; comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable.

In no way does such an image serve the interest of the public, except to shock a nation where the majority of people already oppose the war. By broadcasting images of dead children, it seems to me that the CBC is trying to influence the way in which the Afghan war is perceived by the Canadian public. As an news institution, the CBC should be working to remain as unbiased as possible, rather than showing images that are, I feel, put forth for public consumption for the sole purpose of arousing emotion to drive the public towards a certain viewpoint; that the war is wrong. Whether or not the war is justified is not the question; rather, the CBC's aim in broadcasting these images very nearly points to a desire to influence public thought in a way that is undemocratic, unprofessional, and most importantly, unethical.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Within his first few days in office, President Obama has already stirred up a considerable amount of controversy among conservative right-wing Americans. His recent decision to re-instate funding to groups that provide and/or offer information about abortions has, predictably, caused outrage among evangelicals and conservatives. This peculiar issue of funding, which has been a flip-flop issue between Democrats and Republicans in every administration since Ronald Reagan, has tuoched a nerve on those in America who feel that it is their patriotic duty to ensure that control of women's bodies falls under the hands of old white men.

Interestingly, this funding applies to groups who are offering HIV prevention in Africa. Contraceptives and reproductive technologies that can be used to prevent the spread of AIDS and HIV suffered a dramatic cut in funding under the Bush administration, which is pure insanity. Who cares about the 922 million people who are living with or touched by HIV/AIDS? Because it makes so much sense to preserve one unborn life at the expense of thousands of others.

Obama's decision to re-instate funding also opens the door for organizations to offer realistic and practical sexual health education, rather than the abstinence-only system that infected American schools under the Bush adminsitration. It's about time someone in government realized that abstinence-only education only hurts kids and teens. No matter what kind of education you try to innoculate them with, kids are going to fool around so you had better make sure they know how to keep themselves and their partners safe. As it stands, 82% of teen pregnancies are unplanned; America has the highest teen pregnancy rate of any developed state. It is twice as high as Canada and England, and eight times as high as the Netherlands and Japan! All of these countries include sexual health education in their curriculum. Clearly, there is a problem with abstinence-only education.

American right-wing politicians need to remember that it is not their right to decide what a woman does with her body. Obama's decision on funding will hopefully set a precedent for his stance on women's rights during his period in office. As a man with both a functioning brain and two young daughters, Obama differs from Bush and other conservative politicians in that he can think outside the parametres of his religion in terms of policy-making decisions. Women's rights have been a hot topic for conservatives because it challenges their ideas of gender roles and the ownership of women's bodies. After eight years of fusing religion and policy, it is high time conservatives got a kick back down to the level of everyday people and emerged from the dark ages.

Monday, January 19, 2009


with Obama's inauguration less than one day away, some people have been debating whether paying attention to the ceremony qualifies as racist thinking. personally, i think there is no basis for that judgement, but i will play it their way and explain why.

while Obama's election signifies a landmark in American history, his value as president runs far deeper than the colour of his skin. whether black, white, asian, native, or any mix thereof, voters identified with Obama because he embodies a myth that they are all familiar with; the American dream. Obama rose from nothing to something, and this level of success resonates with people across the world. if a white woman rose to prominence from poverty and became prime minister, would watching my decision to watch her take office qualify me as a sexist? i think not.

Obama's ability to unite voters around a common theme, hope, is also a huge part of the reason why this election is so prominent. rarely before has there been such a strong connection between voters, and this is because of Obama's message that we are the future, we are the change in this world. his campaign message left people feeling empowered and exhilerated, something that has been scarce for the last eight years. when Trudeau ran for the Liberal leadership in 1967, his campaign was a symbol of energetic hope and generational change. he inspired Canadians of all ages, most particularily youth, and 'Trudeaumania' took hold of the country. yet Canadians who celebrated his envigorating and exhilerating message were not criticized for electing yet another white man to office, nor did black Canadians sit idley at the table, twiddling their thumbs as he was elected. people across the nation celebrated together, regardless of race.

when people say that i am a racist for thinking that Obama's inauguration is significant, i have one thing to say; grow up. we live in a world where people of all races can hold every possible position. if you enjoy working for a company that is led by a black CEO, are you racist for thinking that his innovative ideas are significant for the company? the answer is no. Obama's election, while marking a cornerstone in American history, is significant because of his ability to connect with people and the relative modernity of his ideals. trivilaizing his significance to the colour of his skin is pointless and a waste of energy.