Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Happy to post this statement yesterday by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in its entirety.
Sadly, support for this important apology isn't unanimous across the Canadian political spectrum: the Conservative Party still welcomes troglodytes as this article makes clear.
Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Plato wrote about a "philosopher king" as the ideal ruler. Such a person in practise has never existed, of course. Or if such a person actually did pursue political power, their idealism and principles would soon undermine those efforts. No doubt, history is filled with thousands of such decent people who considered politics but stepped back rather than compromise their integrity and ethics. The tragedy here is the absence of decent people relinquishes the realm of politics to the ruthless, nasty, amoral jerks who make up the vast majority of our politicians and those who work for them.
So there is nothing profoundly new about this post, except highlighting just the latest example of how the nastiness of politics has once again pushed aside a decent person. Nancy Leblanc is such a person. She may humbly disagree with being compared with a "philosopher queen," but for me, the comparison is apt as Nancy is exactly the kind of person our politics needs: someone who's in it for the right reasons, to help make people's lives better and to promote better public policy and governance.
Nancy is an accomplished Toronto lawyer who entered the political arena in 2014 as the Ontario Liberal candidate in Parkdale-High Park in west-end Toronto, then considered a thankless task taking on NDP veteran incumbent Cheri DiNovo.
Given only a handful of weeks to raise tens of thousands of dollars and her public profile, Nancy ran a great campaign and came within 600 votes of knocking off the well-entrenched incumbent. Had the party deemed to allow her to take the nomination sooner, as it did other non-incumbents in Toronto NDP ridings, Leblanc might've prevailed.
"I got involved in the political process because I sincerely want to make a difference in people's lives for the better. I am a lawyer and as such ethics and integrity are very important to me. So after coming so close to winning in 2014, I persevered and continued to work in good faith because I knew I could do a good job of representing this riding," said Leblanc in a statement this week.
Since 2014, she's continued working in the grassroots, knocking on well over 20,000 doors in her riding, engaging with and advocating for local residents, working on riding specific policy ideas for the coming 2018 election.
She also used her considerable organizational skills to raise $50,000 for the local riding association, as well as raise over $50,000 for the Ontario Liberal Party separate and apart from riding resources.
She is the ultimate grassroots candidate with the kind of skills, local base and established profile you'd think the Ontario Liberal Party would want to take on the NDP again in 2018.
But sadly that doesn't seem to be the case and that's a shame. Another nominee with no public profile who doesn't even live in the riding, but close with the party backroom, seems poised to take the nomination instead.
Leblanc announced yesterday that she won't be continuing to pursue the Liberal nomination.
"I have come to believe that the path for me to continue to make a difference for the people here in Parkdale-High Park is not with the Ontario Liberal Party in 2018. This was a very difficult personal decision to make, especially after all the hard work over the past few years, but it is one that I have firmly made after much consideration around all of the circumstances involved," said Leblanc.
In life and in most professions, massive hard work, intelligence, integrity and years of grassroots campaigning will usually produce results.
But not in politics, sadly. Certainly not in Ontario provincial politics, it seems, these days. This is a major loss to the Ontario Liberal Party and to all Ontarians, frankly.
Despite this setback, Leblanc would still make an incredible politician and community leader and I hope she finds other ways to serve the public in the future. If she does take the plunge again, I will support her 100 percent.
Because if good, decent people like her step away from politics, we all lose.
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
|Results of Aussie vote on equal marriage, courtesy ABC|
Today, Australia released its results in that country's postal survey of voters in which almost 80% of voters participated on the issue of legalizing same sex marriage in that country and the results are wonderful: 62% in favour, 38% opposed. Observers expect the Aussie government to pass same sex marriage into law perhaps by the end of this year.
I want to congratulate all Australians on this historic victory for equality!
It's heartening that these national votes, at least in the western world, are starting to result in wins for human rights and equality. Sadly other national votes outside the west in recent years, like in Slovenia, have been won by the bigots.
But referendum victories even in the west are a recent phenomenon. Defeats in similar referendums at the state level in the United States used to be common. It wasn't until 2012 that American voters started embracing equality by popular vote at the state level.
Other victories for same sex marriage happened either in legislative bodies or in the courts, including in Canada where a court victory in 2003 legalized same sex marriage in Ontario, followed by passage of full marriage equality across the country in the House of Commons in 2005. Full marriage equality was granted by the American Supreme Court in 2015 across that entire country.
Of course, we must not forget that homosexuality remains illegal in many parts of the world, so we must keep up the fight for equality the world over and not forget those LGBTQ people not fortunate enough to live in mostly progressive countries.
As always, we can't forget that many other issues remain for LGBTQ people: Freedom from discrimination in human rights laws, protection against hate crimes, as well as a host of other economic equality issues which are even more relevant to all LGBTQ people than marriage laws. On those fronts, much more progress, especially in over half of American states where LGBTQ people can still be fired from their jobs for being queer, is needed.
Saturday, November 4, 2017
|Actor Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood|
This follows a series of allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault leveled against the actor from various House of Cards male crew, former colleagues and actor Anthony Rapp, who made public last weekend complaints that Spacey made inappropriate advances on him when Rapp was 14 (and Spacey was 26.)
It also follows the maelstrom that has erupted across Hollywood recently in response to allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and other powerful straight men.
For a country that heard gross admissions of sexual assault and harassment from Donald Trump, but then proceeded to "elect" him anyway over a more qualified woman, these recent developments are a minor step in the right direction. We have to continue to fight to make sure all sexual predators, straight or queer, pay for their behaviour (that means that Trump must be tossed out on his ass in 2020 if not sooner). It's nice to see that the immense bravery it takes to come forward with allegations like these is being partially rewarded with some major professional consequences for those who clearly seem, due to the mere volume of complaints, to be far from innocent. That's heartening.
This article this week by writer Natasha Chart proved to be one of the best articles on the connection between sexism and homophobia I've ever read. I recommend it highly.
But back to Kevin Spacey and 'House of Cards.' Please allow me a bit of glee at Spacey's demise from the increasingly tiresome show. This was a show that since Season 3 or 4 (of six) has become incredibly annoying, ditching any pretense for realism in favour of the repeated formula that went something like this: "Let's introduce weak adversaries for Frank, let them annoy him for an episode or two, then let Frank flick them away like dust off his lapel only to become stronger and even more powerful than before. Repeat."
It wasn't good writing the last three seasons, it was bullshit. No politician has ever experienced the kind of uninterrupted climb to immense power as Frank Underwood. And to get there, Underwood killed at least two people. Furthermore, his wife Claire joined the murderous club last season just before the heavy-handed writers made her President of the U.S.
I've been watching 'House of Cards' since the first season but have been disappointed since Season 3. I stopped watching mid-way through Season 6 when it became clear the writers were taking delight in deceptively teasing us with the continued hope that Underwood and his wife would finally pay in any major way for their crimes. In life, that kind of evil should face consequences, but so rarely does. The last thing I need is to experience dramatized and exploited evil in my entertainment. I'm kind of sensitive that way.
That's why I've also refused to watch the celebration of misogyny and violence against women that is "Game of Thrones." Other sadists may love that shit, but not me. (In a culture that adores such entertainment, is it any wonder that sexual harassment and violence against women remain such problems?)
Who could have foretold that Frank Underwood's demise would be due to the complaints of one man? Anthony Rapp is my new hero.
Friday, November 3, 2017
Memo to Andrew Scheer: If you don't support human rights for LGBT people, you're a hypocrite for complaining about disrespect for the religious
|Conservative leader Andrew Scheer |
(Justin Tang/Canadian Press)
When LGBT people have faced violence and harassment in Canada or around the world, he's been silent. Just like most conservatives of his ilk.
Yet when the Governor General says that facts are more important than beliefs when speaking at a conference of scientists, and Justin Trudeau doesn't throw her under a bus for making sense, look who's picking up a bat once again for his religious friends, who love to offend others with their "free speech" but God forbid somebody offend them with theirs.
Memo to Scheer and other conservatives (like Jason Kenney) who only seem to care about the rights of religious people or those exactly like them, but no one else: stop appealing to human rights as a defense against alleged disrespect. If you don't support human rights for all, appealing to human rights for some is bullshit.
In doing so, you sound like the hypocrites you are!