Saturday, March 25, 2017

Who's the real sexist?

How is it I find myself defending Liberal MP for his alleged 'sexist' remark to a Conservative MP when her phone rang during an in-camera meeting last month.

Dianne Watts quotes exactly what was said to her in this audio interview. Her phone, with a generic ringtone, prompted a fellow MP to say "Where's your pole to slide down?" He was asked to repeat the comment, and asked again "Where's your pole?"

Although this wasn't part of any commentary, one might supposed Ms Watts, recognizing the ring tone as specific to one person, might have smiled and said "my daughter" before any comment was made. A clip of the ringtone does not sound like any bump and grind stripper song, or anything that might be taken as such.

Could it be that we're just so conditioned to assuming that every remark has some nefarious meaning if it's directed to a woman? All the headlines make reference to a 'stripper pole' yet even in her retelling of the incident, Watts doesn't use the word 'stripper'. She, and the other MPs who heard the remark, either inferred it at the time, or afterward when they were discussing what had been said.

Could it be that MP Nicola di Iorio was thinking of a fire fighter? Or Batman even? Watts was answering a call from her daughter... how many times are we called upon to rescue our kids when we are otherwise occupied. Did her hear her say it was her daughter and make the remark thinking how many times we rush to accommodate our kids? There is nothing remotely sexual about the ringtone, or about the ringing of a phone -- but there is definitely something parental in it.

I would never have thought he meant stripper pole, unless he used those words exactly.... why was the immediate reaction to assume THAT kind of pole? Who is the sexist here?  If a person makes a comment that is not overtly sexist, are they sexist because someone decides to take it that way? Or is it sexist to impute sexist meaning to it because it was made by a man to a woman?

di Iorio has not come to his own defense on this matter from anything I've read, although it is under investigation so perhaps that's why. Maybe though, it never occurred to him that it could be taken badly and the shock of having been called out on it has silenced him, the way being accused of something often does to innocent people.


Friday, March 10, 2017

Not my kind of conservative

Over the years, I have written about both my own personal values, and about Canadian values in general. On some of these issues, my position has changed, as has the party in power, at least twice since I started this blog. Regardless of which party was governing, I felt comfortable expressing my opinions.

Many of the posts linked to in that first sentence or so are lamenting the Liberal tendency to define Canadian values by what they themselves believe. I felt excluded. I felt vilified. It frustrated me that my own government could say that my beliefs on say, abortion or criminal sentencing or whatever -- were un-Canadian. While it bothered me that they might say that my view were un-Canadian, never once did I feel the need to change my opinion or hide from my belief system.

Leadership hopeful Kellie Leitch is tone deaf when it comes to the issue of immigration and values. Much as I believe we must be vigilant when granting citizenship, and I believe that terrorism is reason enough to strip citizenship from a new Canadian, some arbitrary, bureaucratic 'values' test that many Canadian born people might not pass, is insulting to all Canadians, and particularly to conservatives -- the people 'expected' to support such an asinine idea.

I can't stand PMJT. I think he's narrow minded, elitist, smug and stupid. I believe his policies and will damage the economy. I think  wrong headed on immigration. I believe he is self serving and foolish.

If Kellie Leitch were Conservative leader during the next election, I would vote for Justin.
If we must have an opponent in the seat of government, let him be one we can actually oppose and for whom we are not responsible.
                                                                                    Alexander Hamilton
Happily, it seems most conservatives agree. Now let's just hope Kevin O'Leary isn't made a serious candidate by the media the way Trump was in the US.


Saturday, March 04, 2017

Trump vs the World

Recently my son and I were discussing Donald Trump. We both detest the man, and cringe if our political opinions align with something Trump says. But my son is young. He's an optimist. When I saw the rally on CNN in 2015, before Trump had even announced his intention to seek the nomination, I told my son I was worried because he would win. My son didn't believe it. And later, when Trump single-handedly decimated the Republican leadership pool for a generation, I told my son I thought he'd win the election. Despite my assertion, we were both astounded when he actually did.
Now, not quite two months in, my son is sure that despite everything, Trump can't ruin America. On most things political, I defer to him. He knows history, the constitution, the actual workings of the political machinery. He loves America. Admires the political system. He's a smart kid. But on Trump, he's wrong.
We all know that Trump is an anomaly. The rules of basic human interaction and decorum don't apply and obviously neither do the political conventions that have helped shape the western world as we know it. Yes, Trump can ruin America. In fact, he has the power to ruin the world.
On one hand, we have the GOP, giddy with power, acquiescing to Trump and (with a few exceptions) falling all over themselves to defend the indefensible. To my mind, Trump is always indefensible. As ad hominem a statement as that might be -- it's my blog and that's how I feel. These Republican politicians seem eager to stand by their leader regardless of how hapless his moves and bizarre his behavior, applauding politely from the sidelines at announcements that should make them pause.
Despite Trump's relatively normal demeanour during a joint address to congress, he is both an enigma and a threat by virtue of his capricious and unstable personality. And let's remember who lurks behind his curtain. While some of the people who Trump has surrounded himself with are not in league with the devil, more are. Those who see themselves as simply serving their country, are not strong enough personalities to challenge the new status quo.
On the other hand, so many political actions are in fact, reactions. Rather than being sound policy, some laws and even entire belief systems are a response to past policy. Germany today, with its open borders and extreme hate laws, is still reacting to Hitler and its Nazi past. One can argue whether the law against Holocaust denial is good for preventing hate or bad for assailing free speech, but it exists because of Germany's history.
Within the confines of law and politics, I don't believe that Trump alone can ruin America. I do believe that because he is extreme in everything he does, reactions to him are also extreme. As time goes on, regardless of his stance on issues, moderate people all over the world, not wanting to be tied to his brand of 'conservatism' will edge further and further away from positions that Trump taints by holding them. People whose vision is already decidedly to the other extreme, will be emboldened, perceiving their views, regardless how extreme the other way, as being the only decent and respectable ones.
To begin, Trump has destroyed the possibility of discussing borders and immigration rationally in the same way Nazism prevents Germans from taking anything less than its polar opposite stance. And with Trump, that was just the campaign. The first week's work solidified it and it only gets weirder from here.
Trump alone can't change America or the world, but strange and extreme alliances are bound to form as part of the 'resistance' to Trump. The societal shift that causes, and the changes it brings, will be no better than the world the resisters fear that Trump will foist upon them, but at least they will be able to feel good about themselves.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Return to Sender

We've lived in our home for about a year and a half. In that time, we've received a bunch of mail for at least a dozen different people. I dutifully scrawl "MOVED" or 'Not at this address' on each envelope and drop them back into the post.

Recently we received one for a new name, this time from Service Ontario. I handled it the same as always.... wrote on the front and dropped in a mail box. A few days later, there it was back in my mailbox. SO.... I drew lines through the address. Like this.

Guess what just came in the mail?
 How does this happen?

I'm gonna try one more time. I shouldn't have to black out the address for them to understand it shouldn't be delivered here.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Fare to Scarborough?

Those of us who live in the suburbs often commute a long way to our jobs. We are encouraged to curb the car and use transit.

Now Metrolinx is examining the idea of charging fares by the kilometre.

While two of the previous options included some form of distance-based charge, the new proposal would charge all riders a per kilometre rate.

Sounds reasonable, right?

Taxis charge by distance -- only . . .  they go pretty fast and have all the convenience of a car. You pay a premium because the ride is door to door, pretty much on your terms and not a communal experience. Not true of public transit.

GO Transit already uses that fee scheme . . . except of course that the people who can afford to use GO trains for their daily commute probably aren't the sort who are scrounging change in order to ride. They get a tax break for having bought passes, and they probably make enough per year that the tax break actually makes a difference at refund time.

Who really benefits from this fantastic idea of charging based on distance?

Well... chances are it won't hurt people who live downtown .... they tend to work and play down there.

It likely won't hurt the people who live in the bedroom communities outside of the city who already use their Presto cards and will continue on in the same way they have been.

So then, who will it hurt?


We have the largest area geographically so even if we commute only within Scarborough, it can be further than most people need to travel if they're going from one of the former boroughs to another. Many lower income people travel via TTC to North York, Etobicoke and downtown for work and school.

A per km fee for someone who lives in Malvern to say the Eaton Centre? By transit, that's almost 40 km for someone in the northeast of the city. While the proposal has yet to lay out a per km rate, it would definitely put a lot of the city out of reach for many people in Scarborough.

Thankfully, John Tory doesn't seem to be warm to the proposal.

Let's hope this goes the way of the DVP/Gardiner tolls.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

None is too many ... again

The first concentration camp became operational in 1937. At least three more were opened for business over the next two years. If Germany had stayed within its own borders, then the arrest, detention and subsequent extermination of Jews would have been a domestic issue of no concern to the international community.

We know this is true because in the years leading up to WWII, the world community was given countless warnings, witnessed the abominable treatment of Jews and had ample time and opportunity to step up. With a few exceptions, the international community's answer was to close the doors to Jewish immigration.

For those who are willing to give Trump a pass on his EO because it's America's business:
NO. This is what they meant about 'never again' and 'those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it.' This... this is the time when those sayings are relevant.

For those who say not to get hysterical because it's 'temporary':
NO. It was also sudden and without warning... an election promise to handle an issue is not the same as making a proclamation and having people's lives stand still.

For those who say that Obama picked the countries and Trump just followed through:
NO. I know he wants to prove he has yuge hands, but a sweeping ban (albeit and lately clarified) is not reasoned and not helpful to the security of your nation. While I don't believe it will create more terrorists (those so inclined need no excuses) I believe those already inclined will now have more 'justification' and 'rationalization' for their insanity and that might end up in escalation.

For those who say that it isn't actually a #MuslimBan because there are other religions affected:
NO. You know who he meant. It doesn't matter if you feel Trudeau and Obama unfairly excluded Christians. This should make you even more mad because Christians are still affected.

For those of you who say they're savages who brought it on themselves:
NO. The people affected by this have been vetted, are residents, hold green cards, have family. I live within walking distance of three mosques so please don't tell me I'm being na├»ve.

For those who say that Saudi Arabia and its ilk take in no refugees:
YES and is that who you aspire to be?

For those of you saying that it's only right to want to secure your borders:
YES. But this wasn't the way to go. For sure put a temporary halt to new refugee claims, rethink the vetting system, do what you need to do to feel safe--- but don't say while people are awaiting their flights, or have already boarded their planes, or have gone on vacation for a couple of weeks ... they won't be welcomed in when they land. That's just insanity.

We all want a safe world. Making it unsafe and unsettling for some of its most vulnerable populations is never going to be ok with me.

For those of you who say condemnation of Trump is long do you wait before you call out a tyrant?


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Let's talk, because this is awkward

Trudeau did the right thing by meeting with indigenous leaders after the suicides of two children earlier this month, but read the piece in The Star. This band asked for funding for what they knew was an impending crisis ... existing crisis ... and the answer they got from Health Canada was, sorry, no, because the timing for their budget was 'awkward'.

You know what's awkward? That two little girls chose death over life in Canada. That's pretty awkward.

The not quite $400k in funding might not have saved those girls, but seriously??? A Canadian community makes a plea for help -- and we ALL KNOW they need it. We pay it lip service and ink and clicks -- but from our government, the answer is no, and yet "Between 2012 and 2017, the Aga Khan Foundation Canada received $75 million from Global Affairs Canada to fund the Partnership for Advancing Human Development in Africa and Asia".

That's pretty awkward, eh? We have millions to shovel over across the ocean and not a pittance for some little girls here at home.

Don't get me wrong. I know we fund the reserves and I know that in many cases monies are handled abysmally by the leaders who live high while their people suffer.

You know, the only thing Pierre Trudeau was ever right on was his White Paper on "Indian Policy". Some of his more lamentable and ruinous ideas were born and festered for generations, but this idea never got off the ground -- that native peoples deserve true equality instead of the never ending paternalistic head-patting they're still getting in the name of preserving their culture. I think we should be asking their children instead of their Chiefs -- they're showing us they're not happy and let's not pretend that the squalor they live in is anything like the cultures that existed before Canada was Canada.

We've done some real damage to our First Nations people through attempted assimilation in the wrong way, and then by apartheid via the reserve system. There has to be a better way. Forget worrying about a cultural genocide where you might not remember the languages or stories or old ways of life ... a real genocide of despair is going on here and we can't even shell out a few hundred thousand dollars to feign concern.

We have to talk. Mental health is a huge issue in all communities and it's laudable what Bell does yearly, reminding us. Maybe, since our government has failed this Indigenous community, maybe @Bell_LetsTalk will consider using some of the money it raises on January 25th to support the mental health initiative requested by this community last summer.

How many more little kids have to kill themselves before this becomes more than just a talking point.