A government that recently spent millions of dollars memorializing the War of 1812 plans to spend much more, commemorating the centennial of the First World War and re-dedicating the National War Memorial.
But while those plans are being made to celebrate militarized patriotism, a group called PeaceQuest is busy offering a counter-narrative to war, talking about re-dedicating the Peace Tower -- which rises above the Parliament building -- and celebrating the yearning for peace that runs through Canada's history and psyche.
Cheryl Pawelski is a rock star. A she’s no newcomer to the music business. Pawelski is a three-time Grammy Awards nominee with over 20 years of industry experience, and also co-founder of California-based Omnivore Records (named by her equally awesome wife, writer Professor Audrey Bilger). In 2010, Pawelski joined forces with fellow audiophiles to create a company dedicated to releasing great records of any genre, with stories that contribute to an artists’ legacy and/or discography. So far it’s been pretty successful.
From 2005 to 2008 I was a member of the Toronto Raver Information Project (TRiP), an organization founded in 1995 by members of the city’s electronic dance music, or rave, sub-culture. Given the continually unfolding Rob Ford scandal I’d like to offer a personal insight into the drug policy prescriptions he has advocated for much of his political life so that we can better understand the dynamics of this problem and what his mayorship is costing Toronto. The purpose of the TRiP Project is to address drug and sex issues in the rave community by providing harm reduction information, referrals and supplies. Briefly, harm reduction is a way of thinking about and practicing healthy ways of being that build on the risk reduction strategies we all use to keep ourselves as safe and healthy as possible. TRiP believes that knowledge is power and is dedicated to reducing harm by providing non-judgmental info and supplies around safer drug use and safer sex through means that are practical, realistic and attainable for the person. This philosophy and practice is not in opposition to abstinence (the “just say no” approach) but recognizes that “just say no” is not a realistic, desirable or attainable goal for many of us. Instead it offers a broader range of options for anyone looking for ways to sustain their health and well-being.
In my capacity as the coordinator of the TRiP project I served on the Toronto City Council's Drug Strategy Committee from 2007-2008. During my tenure the committee was grappling with the implementation of Toronto's safer crack use kits, a pragmatic project designed to reduce the spread of blood-borne viruses (HIV and Hepatitis C) among at-risk crack users. Toronto’s safer crack use kits contained heat-resistant glass stems so as to reduce the risk of burned and cracked lips which act as vectors for infection. Most of our work revolved around trying to convince the two drug detectives on the committee to tell their colleagues to stop seizing and breaking the kits, thus sabotaging a city approved initiative.
Rob Ford was not on the committee, but his vocal opposition to the crack kits, and harm reduction as a whole, was well known.In his 2005 statements on the issue, recently re-published in the National Post (), Councillor Ford dismissed the concept of harm reduction in its entirety and essentially advocated that the only response to crack use should be forced rehab or for users to "dry out in jail."
As a councillor there wasn't much he could do to stop our work, but I don't think anyone on the committee imagined that this ignorant and petulant man would one day pursue his mission of crushing sane drug policies from the position of mayor (although truth be told, in terms of drugs, the real buck stops at the Federal Government and Supreme Court, but that's another story entirely). Now with everything that's come to light, I wonder if Rob Ford will be following his own policy proposals and marching himself off to prison or forced rehab? Or, more interestingly, will he now be accessing one the city’s harm reduction services that he’s tried so hard to crush in the past.
For the record, in and of itself, I don't care that Rob Ford enjoys crack or any other substance, although it reflects poorly on his integrity that he so vigorously lied about it. I do care that he has a long history of demonizing and vilifying people who do the exact same thing as him. I do care that his very political existence seems to revolve around gutting social programs, including progressive and compassionate initiatives and policies designed to actually help, rather than punish or further harm, people dealing with similar substance use issues as him. Therein lies the truly disgusting and outrageous aspect of the scandal.
Given the huge disconnect between what Rob Ford says and what he does, in terms of drugs I think we have a mayor who is either so deluded and unreflective that his grasp of reality and capacity for sound judgment is in serious doubt, or a person who is largely unable to empathize with others and has sunk so deep into cynicism and self-serving manipulative lying that he's approaching the behavior of a sociopath. Its possible that future revelations on his alleged role in murder and extortion may shed light on this last point.
Although I think it's fair to point out that Ford’s substance use has at time resulted in reckless endangerment of others (impaired driving) and seems quite self-destructive, we should be wary of ridiculing and demonizing Ford for his drug use, in and of itself, because this feeds into the social stigma that helps justify the disastrous war on drug. As I have pointed out above, there are much better reasons to criticize the beleaguered mayor.
In the first of two interviews, Derrick O’Keefe critiques the notion of humanitarian war and similar rationales for aggression against other countries from Yugoslavia to Libya. Derrick O’Keefe is co-chair of the Canadian Peace Alliance and author of several books including Malalai Joya – A Woman Among Warlords. He speaks with Redeye host Mordecai Breimberg.
I have been hard on our new Employment and Social Development Minister, Jason Kenney, for buying into a widespread myth about labour shortages and skill mismatches in Canada. So, to give credit where credit is due, it appears Minister Kenney has been listening to the growing chorus of voices disputing the existence of a labour shortage in Canada.
A flood of tar sands oil from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) was stopped Nov. 16 in Ottawa. Participating in a national #DefendOurClimate day of action, Ottawa residents helped to build a wall of sand bags to stop a symbolic oil spill outside the PMO. The event emphasized Prime Minister Harper's role in reckless tar sands expansion and his failure to take action in the face of the climate crisis.
After more than 100 years of business, Leamington's Heinz plant is closing, throwing 740 people out of work and sending the community into economic shock.
I grew up in Leamington. Many of my first memories are of the tomato harvest.
Tomato season meant family dinners sitting on the tailgate of a pickup truck while Dad and Opa took a short break from the field.
It meant tomato fights that seemed to go on forever because we never had to worry about running out of ammunition.
It meant roads full of slow-moving vehicles and slick tomato shrapnel that had fallen off the back of a wagon.
My worst (if not first) car accident was with a tomato wagon.
Canada's macroeconomy continues to be lethargic at best, and there is growing recognition that the continuing sluggishness of business capital spending since the 2008-09 crisis is a big part of the reason why. Governments are in austerity mode; consumers are maxxed out and cautious about new spending; our exports are restrained by an overvalued dollar and uncertain demand in our key markets. The traditional engine of growth in a capitalist economy is supposed to be business investment -- and vibrant capital spending by companies could help to jump-start all of those other categories of spending (by creating jobs, stimulating more innovative exports, and boosting tax revenues). Business profits and cash flow are healthy -- yet businesses are spending far les Canada's macroeconomy continues to be lethargic at best, and there is growing recognition that the continuing sluggishness of business capital spending is a big part of the reason why.
Last year thousands joined a sit-in in Victoria against the Northern Gateway pipeline. As Susan Spratt, organizer for what was then the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) said, “The ongoing risks that these tar sands pipelines and tankers pose aren’t worth any price. Tens of thousands of unionized and other jobs depend on healthy river and ocean ecosystems. We will be standing in solidarity with thousands of working people in B.C. and our First Nation sisters and brothers.”
"He's going to be the greatest mayor this city has ever, ever seen as far I'm concerned. Put that in your pipes you left-wing kooks."
- Don Cherry, Mayor Ford's inauguration, December 7, 2010For Mayor Ford, and Ford Nation, if there is no such thing as good governance, then the desire to remain in power is enough if you are 'sincerely, sincerely, sincerely sorry' that you smoked crack.
Thank you so much to everybody who helped make yesterday’s Defend our Climate, Defend our Communities National Day of Action a huge success!
Every time you organize a protest or petition you always hold out a faint hope for some kind of big change that happens right away. Yet change doesn’t seem to usually happen that way. With the exception of the few moments when the whole world seems to be transformed in a day, change is usually slow and incremental.
Many of the people who organized the action shared one goal going in -- to connect people who are concerned by the threats of pipelines and dirty energy projects all across the country.
Elections Canada placed an ad in the Toronto Star last weekend to advise us to be ready to vote on Monday, November 25. Well, not us, exactly. If you happened to catch this ad and happened to care enough to read the smaller print, you'd see the only people who had to be ready were in some place called Toronto Centre. Now there are 2.5 million Torontonians but only 89,000 voters in Toronto Centre. So who exactly lives in that riding? Who knows? There's not a clue about the riding boundaries -- no map, no nothing. Elections Canada didn't bother to include that bit of trivia.
The survey results will help in the development of campus resources designed to identify and confront bullying, harassment and mental health issues for graduate students.
Listen to an interview with Alastair Woods, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario
From the press release:
Ontario graduate students are launching a province-wide survey on bullying and harassment on university campuses. The survey, Not in the Syllabus, is the first of its kind in Ontario and will inform the development of campus resources designed to identify and confront bullying, harassment and mental health issues for graduate students.alw.mp3
On Saturday, another rally was held at Toronto City Hall, urging the mayor to step down.
Click on the link below to see the show.
Today across Canada thousands of everyday people are showing up at events to tell our government leaders that they must listen to the people, the voters, and lead on the issue of climate change.
Defend Our Climate, Defend our Community rallies kicked off in Atlantic Canada and now a wave of rallies -- more than 180 in all -- are underway.
A recent poll found that 59% of Canadians think climate change should be a top priority and a whopping 76% say that Canada should sign on to a new international agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
For the past 26 years, Tracey Newman has paid into the Employment Insurance (EI) system.
As an educational assistant (EA) working with special needs students in the Ontario public school system, she’s experienced violent attacks, worked through staffing shortages and plugged away in an emotionally and physically demanding job.
But the Harper government changes to EI remain her biggest concern, forcing her to make a choice between continuing the work she loves or switching careers.
Like many other public sector workers, Newman gets laid off from her job for several weeks a year. Two weeks in December. One week in March. And ten weeks during the summer.
This just in! Alberta Government replaces Alberta Health Services CEO …. again!
The revolving door to the AHS executive suite is now spinning so quickly somebody's going to get hurt. Unless, that is, everybody stays calm….
Now, it's true that Duncan Campbell, who was put in the top job at AHS just 30 days ago when former CEO Dr. Chris Eagle decided he'd had had enough and was about to take flight, was only an acting CEO.