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Long slow shame fap Sep. 24th, 2014 @ 12:57 am
( You are about to view content that may only be appropriate for adults. )
Current Location: Toronto
Current Mood: contemptuous
Current Music: Vengeance (feat Termanology & Apathy) -- East Coast Avengers

Loathsomeness in Longueuil Jul. 27th, 2014 @ 03:47 pm
The following image of an offensive note targeting someone who flew the rainbow flag on their home is making the rounds on French-speaking Facebook and Twitter in Quebec (it was apparently affixed to the balcony of an apartment in Longueuil, a populous suburb on the south shore that's a short subway ride from downtown Montreal): Warning, this is some hateful shit.

For the non-French language literate, the English translation of the note is as follows:

Click and take a looksie behind this cut.Collapse )

If you live in Longueuil or know someone who does, think about flying the rainbow flag to show your support and denounce this hateful act of intimidation.
Current Mood: aggravatedaggravated
Current Music: Birds of Paradise - Basia Bulat

Confronting body shaming by another commuter on Montreal's Métro Jul. 25th, 2014 @ 08:17 pm
This is how I started my week, and it's stuck with me to the point I decided I should go ahead and share it publicly. This originally appeared in my Facebook July 22: I am SO mad right now! File this one under slut/body shaming:

On my way to UQAM via Métro, there was a group of kids in the car sat not too far from me, talking, laughing, just being kids. One of the girls, who I'd estimate was at most 14-years-old, was wearing a long-ish tshirt and rather short shorts. She was just chatting and laughing with her friends, minding her own business when an older lady, disembarking, pushed a piece of paper into her hand.

Commentary behind the cut to spare people's feed-spaceCollapse )
Current Music: Killa Mosquito feat. Macka B - Computer (Marcus Visionary Goldplate Mix)

Montréal civic by-law P6: Sorry SPVM, but there is such thing as a right to protest Apr. 19th, 2013 @ 04:09 pm
An acquaintance of mine recently reiterated his gung-ho attitude of support for Montréal's anti-protest by-law P-6, based on the ill-conceived and thankfully now defunct Loi 78. While condemning the activities of the protester known as Anarchopanda, he expressed consternation with protesters' refusal to comply with the precondition of declaring their route and the start time and duration of their event to the police within a set period of time prior to the anticipated start time and a lack of sympathy for the plight of hundreds of protesters and innocent bystanders being scooped up in police kettles and slapped with fines before any protesting happens at all.

Funnily enough, this guy doesn't live in Montréal. I do, and have participated in many a peaceful protest here, and so, funnily enough, I have some rather strong opinions about P-6 and why it's an affront to civil rights. As we were communicating by Facebook, I took a few days to stew on the matter before coming up with a thorough accounting of my beef with P-6. Since this fella strangely isn't the only person floating around who doesn't get why P-6 is problematic, I figured I'd dust off the old LiveJournal and post an edited version of my two cents on the matter.

Commentary behind the cut to spare scarce lj-friends feed spaceCollapse )
Current Music: Bcee - The Falls

Uncovering the shape of language in the brain Jan. 14th, 2010 @ 10:53 am
Maybe you'd have to be a linguist/have linguistics/neurolinguistics training to appreciate as much, but this is SO cool! :oD

Jan. 8th, 2010 @ 01:45 pm
Troubled N.B. teen shown in dramatic prison video (CBC)

And so, when she'd made life hard enough on her guards that rescue/intervention became too difficult and too dangerous a proposition, they left her there to die. Did the system fail, or did Ashley Smith win -- and is there a difference in this instance? Sad beyond sad . . .

For democracy's sake, say 'NO' to strategic prorogation of Canada's Parliament! Dec. 30th, 2009 @ 11:58 pm
If you're reading this, I hope that you just might care enough to act in defense of democracy in Canada.

Today the PMO (Prime Minister's Office) came clean and admitted that Stephen Harper has formally requested that Governor General Michaëlle Jean prorogue the House -- that is, to shut down Parliament. This is not the first time Harper has taken this tack. Last year, he made such a request in order to halt an immediate threat of his government being toppled, and Michaëlle Jean approved that request due in part to public opposition to the idea of a coalition government formed by the Opposition parties. Unfortunately, in approving that request Jean set a dangerous precedent. She taught Stephen Harper that he could use prorogation of the legislature as a strategic political weapon.

He's trying to do it again, and the stakes are even higher.

Many may be unaware of this, but prorogation of the House of Commons now will buy Stephen Harper some very rewarding outcomes (rewarding to him and only him, I should add). First of all, if Parliament is shut down from now until March, then the Opposition cannot use that time to demand (or force, should the government drag its heels as they most certainly would) an inquiry into the torture of prisoners in Afghanistan and how much Canadian officials knew about this (including, possibly, high-ranking elected Members of Parliament in the Harper government). Secondly, with the House of Commons shut down for their duration, there will be no opportunity for the Opposition parties to raise uncomfortable questions about the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver should controversy arise. Thirdly, the Conservatives would have the opportunity to reintroduce government Bills to the House of Commons in their original forms (Bills which have been amended in the Senate in ways that are displeasing to Stephen Harper.) Finally, he would have the opportunity to make five new Senate appointments (Senators who would have increased power to help the Conservative government push through its legislation, thanks to newly-formed Senate committees -- so much for Stephen Harper's tarnished commitment to Triple-E or similar democratic Senate reforms, for those who still believed in it.)

For some of you, possibly even many of you, these facts alone may be enough to convince you that something needs to be done to stop this. For those to whom it's not, let me be perfectly clear: I am not making a partisan attack against the Conservative Party of Canada. By seeking the prorogation of Parliament, Stephen Harper is trying to do an end-run around democracy. He is trying to run a minority government as though it were a majority government, and that's not what Canadians elected him to do. If this government can do it unchallenged, then what's to stop any minority government in Canada from doing it? The strong federalists among you must ask yourself this: What if a separatist party like the Bloc Québecois managed to secure a minority government one day? What Stephen Harper is trying to do may be good for his political fortunes, but it is NOT good for his country. It is a blow to the principles behind Canada's system of government. If the ruling political party can shut down Parliament anytime it's strategically in their interest to do so, unchallenged, then Canada's democracy is truly broken.

For those of you still with me, those who might be wondering what you could possibly be expected to do about any of this, it's as simple as emailing the Office of the Governor General (at info@gg.ca), telling people you know about what's really going on and what they can do, or even something as passive as joining the Facebook group that I just linked to and inviting a few friends(it may not seem like much, but these things do have a way of coming to public attention if they catch on like wildfire). The only hope now is to get Michaëlle Jean's attention in suitable numbers to let her know that this is not acceptable! Feel free to forward this post to the attention of others, or to create messages of your own to send people.

Also, I caution you not to believe that Parliament has been shut down until you read/hear an official announcement from the Governor General, or hear/read her or some authorized representative of her Office quoted as confirming this in a credible news report.

Dmitri Soudas, the Conservative spokesperson on point for this file, has deliberately refused to divulge ANY details of the phone conversation in which Harper put his request to Jean, including what she said she intends to do about it. I suspect he has been deliberately coy, in the hopes of fooling the gullible and lazy (particularly gullible and lazy journalists) into believing that this is a done deal. So that reports will go out saying that it is and people will believe them. So any outraged reaction will be muted. So that people won't flood the Governor General with messages imploring her not to allow this to happen. I have already had personal reports from people who have encountered just such misleading news items on cyberpresse.ca, The Toronto Star's website, and even CBC Radio. Such information has also made it into the chatter on the wall for the Facebook group I've linked you to.

Look at the CBC News website; the story about parliament being shut down still talks about prorogation in potential terms and has been bumped down to number two on the CBC News mainpage. Granted, it's taking a backseat to the death of four Canadian soldiers and a Canadian journalist in Afghanistan, which is most undeniably some meaty news copy. However, I still doubt that they'd have reduced THIS story's priority if anyone were expecting an imminent announcement of a highly controversial and potentially historic shutdown of the House of Commons. Do not be fooled into believing there's nothing you can do. If you care, then act to preserve democracy in this country.

EDIT: Announcement by the Office of the Governor General or no, I've been shown a scan of the change to the order papers for the first sitting of the House of Commons in 2010, and the CBC has also confirmed in its coverage that Michaëlle Jean signed the proclamation later the day that Harper made his phone call to her. So, it would seem that I have no choice but to eat my words and retract my all-too bold and optimistic statements. Apparently, there really is nothing left to do but to stoke the fires of Canadians' fury over the strategic use of prorogation and to put the pressure on the government hard once the session does finally resume on March 3rd. There must be political repercussions for this, or it's all been for naught and the time will at last have come when I must give up the final shred of hope for it, and faith in it, that I ever felt for Canada. Today I value my Canadian citizenship less than the paper my birth certificate is printed on.

Thanks, Stephen Harper and Michaëlle Jean -- you just contributed to the alienation and disenfranchisement of the Canadian electorate. Bravo.
Current Mood: angryangry

The truth bubbles up to the surface like gases from a bloated corpse. . . . Nov. 26th, 2009 @ 10:25 pm
Rice raised Iraq hours after 911 attacks, inquiry told (CBC News)

Okay. This suggests that members of the Bush administration had wrongly fingered Sadam Hussein's regime mere hours after the 9/11 attacks, about a year and a half before the invasion of Iraq would begin. We now know that this decision was based on highly questionable military intelligence. By the time military strikes were beginning, there was already a considerable amount of evidence, publicly available in any credible news paper or on any reliable news broadcaster I might add, which raised serious doubts about the reliability of said-intelligence.

So why did the U.S. government continue on the path to war?

Could it be that the brain trust in the Bush administration had already made up their minds to invade Iraq from the moment the Twin Towers fell? Was the invasion of Iraq effectively inevitable from the moment Al-Qaeda's terrorists committed themselves to attacking American soil under a Republican administration's watch? Did the Bush administration fall right into Al-Qaeda's hands?
Current Mood: pensivepensive

Canada, the true North strong and free to be a pack of hypocrites Sep. 8th, 2009 @ 05:50 pm
Lesbian U.S. deserter appeals for refugee status

I wish her good luck and every success in her legal battle to remain in Canada. Smith/James' claim strikes me as perfectly justifiable given the spirit of the Canadian refugee process. She fled the U.S. army to escape persecution and a real threat of worse to come after trying to get out of the army legitimately and ending up being retained in violation of American military law. U.S. soldiers have been murdered for being gay. Seems she has reasonable grounds for a refugee claim in Canada given our legal commitment to protecting homosexuals from persecution on grounds of their sexual orientation.

The comments being left on the CBC piece, by the way, are pretty sad and sorry stuff.

The negative commentators are focusing on the fact that she enlisted voluntarily and deserted, with many bitter references to the hardships faced by our own soldiers in Afghanistan. There's also a lot of the generic "back to your own country" crap that gets thrownaround by immigration opponents. Of course, what these commentors are ignoring is the fact that she didn't desert to avoid duty, she deserted to flee threats to her personal safety. Threats her superiors did nothing to prevent. Threats inspired by prejudice and hatred -- of the sort Canadian law strictly prohibits and condemns.

I don't care that this woman enlisted voluntarily in the army of a state allied to Canada. (Last time I checked, being considered an ally to Canada is no exclusive club reserved for nations with spotless human rights records.) What I care about are the circumstances under which she deserted. I care about the fact that she was and is facing a legitimate threat of harassment, persecution, and physical abuse and intimidation that could be a threat to her life and that her own government will not protect her because it is the threat. In those conditions, any intelligent person would have said "nuts to this." And anyone in that situation with access to a system dedicated to protecting vulnerable foreign nationals in a supposedly compassionate nation such as Canada would have been a fool not to try to seek safety.

Canadians are oh so fond of talking out of both sides of their mouths. So very proud to tout our country as an enlightened modern nation committed to protecting the vulnerable, yet how very quick we are to turn against those vulnerable people when they come seeking to avail of that promise of shelter.

Mar. 26th, 2009 @ 05:04 pm
St-Pierre residents lobby for return of freighter link with Newfoundland

I would of course say something of this sort, having studied there at the Francoforum for three months*, nonetheless: Bonne chance aux Saint-Pierrais et les Miquelonais pour cet effort!** Then again, it should be an easy enough opinion to be held by anyone from this province, regardless of ties to the French archipelago.

I don't know what if any role Canadian officials might play in applying pressure on the French government to replace the Cap Blanc*** but if there is any means for this province to lend itself to this endeavour to maintain the traditional and economic link between Newfoundland and Saint-Pierre, I say it should be done. The commerce of a tiny string of islands with not much more than 6000 people in total population mightn't seem like much, but in these times there are towns in this province that cannot afford to lose the income. Which is to say nothing of the priceless nature of the historical connections of sentiment and tradition that exist between these communities.

All that being said, I don't imagine it likely that I'll find a very powerful chorus of support in championing the Saint-Pierrais cause on this particular front, but I intend to do so nonetheless:

France, Canada poised for battle over Atlantic seabed rights

The Canadian federal government, along with the Newfoundland and Labrador provincial government will naturally fight tooth and nail to stop this issue from even being reopened, let alone negotiated -- as well one would expect. Once we get into this, it's natural to assume that France will exploit every means possible to obtain the greatest profit possible in its own best interest. However, saying I think it incumbent upon our governments to do battle with the French government in order to prevent them from claiming too much, is not the same as saying I hope that the French, and specifically the Saint-Pierrais, score nothing in this.

I have considerable sympathy for the Saint-Pierrais and Miquelonais, and not just because I spent some time there. For my part, I see in the struggles of the Saint-Pierrais many echoes of longstanding fight of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to win our own place; seeking improved economic conditions on our terms from the environment that has shaped us (and which we have shaped) for centuries. It occurs to me that, more than just self-interest and callousness implied by Newfoundland involvement in outright quashing the efforts of the Saint-Pierrais, such a stance is to invite hypocrisy as well.

The French government cannot be allowed to make a resource grab such that France displaces our own exploitation of the seabed off our coasts, but that's not to say that there isn't room for negotiation. If there is a means of settling this dispute that will lead to increased prosperity for the people of Saint-Pierre-Miquelon, without harming the overall prosperity of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, I would welcome it.

_____
*the spokesperson for the Saint-Pierre lobby group quoted in this story is one of the profs working there, as it happens.
*Translation: Good luck to the people of St-Pierre-Miquelon for this effort!
*The French cargo ship that serviced St-Pierre-Miquelon from ports in Newfoundland until it foundered early last December, when I was in Saint-Pierre. All four crew members -- Saint-Pierre locals -- were lost.
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