Thursday, November 27, 2014

Hey Kathleen Wynne! This is wrong: Catholic school principal shuts down Grade 6 students' project on gay rights

Polly Hamilton, left, and Quinn Maloney-Tavares, both 11, wanted to do a social justice school project on gay rights, but their principal at an Ottawa Catholc Catholic School vetoed the idea.

I'm getting really tired of Catholic school board officials in Ontario beating up on LGBT people and our rights, with the full sanction of the Ontario government.

Particularly sad is the message this move by their principal sends to the students in the class, the school and the Ottawa board.  I'm glad the students and their mother are fighting back and making this public.

If 11-year-olds are old enough to pick a topic on their own, then it should be acceptable for 11-year-olds.  This decision reeks of old-style Catholic thinking of 'Let's accommodate the worst bigot in our community rather than the students in question, let alone LGBT students in our schools who need support."

They aren't getting any support in Ottawa Catholic schools these days.

Kathleen Wynne, we need to stop this madness! Publicly-sanctioned discrimination, paid for by taxpayers in a pluralistic province like Ontario, is wrong, wrong, wrong!

It's time to reconsider public funding Catholic schools in Ontario, to the exclusion of all other religions.  Equality demands it!

Again, here's one strategy for how to revisit the issue. 

The sensational 'The Way He Looks' plays at Toronto's Brazil Film Fest this Saturday...

Opening scene from director Daniel Ribeiro's 'The Way He Looks'
I sadly missed a previous Toronto screening for Daniel Ribeiro's feature film 'The Way He Looks,' at the Inside Out festival back in May.  That's why I was thrilled to learn that Toronto's Brazil Film Fest teamed up with Inside Out to sponsor another screening this weekend of Brazil's official entry for the 2015 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film.  The Brazil fest even provided me with an online screener and I had a chance to check out the gem of a film last night. 

The story of 'The Way He Looks' concerns a blind teenager named Leonardo whose longtime friendship with female friend Giovana is threatened when he develops romantic feelings for a new male student at school named Gabriel. 

Leo's struggles at high school and with family are poignant and extremely honest, told without melodrama or an abundance of sentiment.  It's a fresh and beautiful film.  As Leo, young actor is sensational, reprising the role he first played in Ribeiro's 2010 short film which featured a small taste of this feature story, 'Eu Não Quero Voltar Sozinho.'   

In fact, the main cast from the short film returns as well, including as Gabriel and as Giovana.  And they are all fabulous, as is the rest of the cast.  Ribeiro's writing and direction is assured and deeply loving of his characters, nurtured over several years.  The result is an incredibly satisfying feature film that explores gay first love from an angle not before experienced by audiences.   I think this may be the best adaptation of a short film into a feature film I've ever seen.  None of the charm from the original short is lost; in fact, the experience is greatly enhanced.   Clearly, Ribeiro is a filmmaker to watch. 

To date, I'm not sure if this gem of a feature film has a Canadian distributor, so if you're in the Toronto area this Saturday night at 9 pm, please go check out 'The Way He Looks' at the Brazil Film Fest.  Click here for more information and for tickets.

Another flick with a queer twist at Brazil Film Fest is Paulo Gustavo's hilarious film, 'My Mom is a Character' (pictured on the right). Based on his stage play, the romp details a mother played by Gustavo in amazing drag who takes some time off from her family after another spat with her adult kids including a cute gay son.  It's definitely worth a look if you're in the mood for something lighter, but no less charming.

The Brazil Film Fest opens tonight and plays until Sunday at TIFF Bell Lightbox on King West.

Here is the full, original 2010 short film 'Eu Não Quero Voltar Sozinho' by director Daniel Ribeiro.  If you like this, you'll love the feature version. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Rob Ford still lying and delusional to the end...

Simple minds cling to their simple talking points:

“These guys are getting fully loaded... It’s nonsense....I’ll be on them. I’ll try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Despite everything the jackass Rob Ford put Toronto through the last four years - smoking crack cocaine in office, showing up drunk at hundreds of public events, hanging out with criminals, behaving in the most vile, juvenile and criminal way possible while cameras from around the world were rolling - he has no regrets.

Even the simplest simpleton can sometimes learn and grow after being humiliated in full public view.  It's what human beings do.

But not Rob Ford.  He refuses to learn.  I think he may be a sociopath.  He certainly continues to exhibit those tendencies.  RoFo challenges all notions of human decency.   So do his pathetic supporters who fell hook, line and sinker for the Fords' snake oil salesman routine.   The plan was simple: show up and pretend to be on the dumb peoples' side, affirm their prejudices by claiming they are being ignored by "downtown elites" and only they, the Fords, will help them.  Then, having won their support based on the most superficial means, go downtown to city hall and consistently vote to destroy the lives of the people whose support you won.  But don't worry, they'll never find out because they don't follow the minutiae of city politics.  They only know that you "showed up" so no amount of "information" will make them believe you don't actually "support them." 

It was a grand vote-getting machine and on Oct 27th 34% of Toronto voters fell for it again.  Gratefully, 66% of Toronto voters rejected this nonsense and enough of them voted to elect a better mayor in John Tory.

I hope John Tory learns one thing from the Ford formula for winning support by going out to those communities and speaking to people often.  I'm sure he will.  He does genuinely care about people, unlike the Fords who simply used people to win votes only to undermine their interests at city hall.  Such visits to struggling communities would go a long way to building new support for Tory and ensuring that the Fords can't fool those people again, should RoFo recover from his cancer and run again for mayor in 2018.  

But back to Ford and this Sun Media article, in which he claims: 

“I did what I said I was going to do."

You didn't say you were going to smoke crack, Rob.  You didn't say you were going to humiliate Toronto on the world stage.  

"I worked very hard..."

Nope.  You didn't show up to work until 1 pm on most days and were gone by 4 pm to go coach football, at least until you were fired from that gig.  

"I returned every phone call..."

Another lie.  I called him once to complain about his refusal to attend Pride.  He never called me back.  

"and [I] had a lot of fun,” Ford said. 

Well, I guess that's true, at least.   He did spend a lot of time on the bottle and smoking crack with his thug buddies.  

“People are going to remember that I saved money, that I did what I said I was going to do.”

Still delusional until the bitter end.   Go fuck off, Rob Ford!  Good riddance! 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

By-elections show federal NDP is no longer a national force or real alternative to the Conservatives

"(Tom Mulcair's) party is languishing in third place in the polls and when it comes to real people stuffing real ballots into real boxes, his track record has been dismal. Of the 14 by-elections held since he took office in March 2012, the party has won just one and last June lost Olivia Chow’s former seat in Toronto. Even more worrying is the drop in New Democrat support and the surge in backing for the Liberals." 

Despite Tom Mulcair’s very best efforts, it's now fairly clear to me that the federal NDP is in the process of disappearing as a true national force and governing alternative to the Conservatives.  If trends continue, and we have every reason to believe they will, the federal NDP will return to its role as Parliament's social conscience after the next election.   They will not be competing for government. 

I don't believe for a second that Tom Mulcair has what it takes to suddenly win wide support across Canada once the next campaign begins.  

At best, he might be able to be very competitive in fickle Quebec.  And I do expect the NDP to be competitive in many of its pre-2011 strongholds in the rest of Canada, as long as their popular incumbents seek re-election.

But in places like Whitby-Oshawa where the NDP needs to be competitive to challenge Conservative rule, the NDP is instead shrinking to historic lows. 

To ensure a more progressive Canada, I know we could use as many NDP MPs as possible in the next House of Commons.  In places where the NDP has traditionally elected MPs before the Orange Crush of 2011, I suggest you consider voting NDP again. 

But in swing areas like suburban Toronto and elsewhere which will decide who governs Canada after the next election, it’s now clear the main fight will be between the incumbent Conservatives and Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday round-up: the confusing Horwath hangs on; gorgeous 'Malificent' star hints at bisexuality...

This Martin Regg Cohn opinion piece pretty much sums up most of my thoughts on Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, whose unfortunate leadership was renewed yesterday by skeptical NDP delegates at their Toronto convention. 

She may have a feisty and engaging personality, but as we saw in the last provincial election, this emperor who still reads her speeches from a teleprompter has no clothes.   She long ago ceded progressive issues to her superior opponent, Kathleen Wynne, and went about confusing voters with a mix of populist BS and empty platitudes which saw her party lose the balance of power to a Liberal majority in the June election.   Quite frankly, based on a smattering of things I've heard from her in recent weeks (like over-the-top warnings about selling public assets and fiscal drunken orgies), I've now tuned Horwath out and I see no reason to start listening to her anytime soon. 

Going forward, it's a choice between progressive champion and Liberal incumbent Kathleen Wynne versus which ever person the Ontario PCs pick as their next leader.  Forget about Horwath's useless NDP. 

On issues progressives like myself care about - like public transit, cost of living and achieving a secure retirement - it's Wynne who is acting to implement real solutions.  This is what "progressive government" looks like.   If you're more interested in burning fossil fuels without consequence and being stuck in traffic forever, Andrea Horwath or the Ontario PCs are your option.   And good luck to you, because you'll need it.  


On an unrelated note, this week saw interesting news about gorgeous Australian-born actor Brenton Thwaites (pictured) who nonchalantly hinted in an interview this week that he's bisexual

In an interview with The Fix, the 25-year-old Australian actor was asked what he looks for in a partner.

“Male or female?,” he asked.  “Both,” the interviewer replied.

“Well,” Thwaites said, “they’re very different.”

The star then said he merely looks for someone with “peanut butter in their cupboard.”

You might not have heard of Thwaites before.  I, of course, had seen him in a small handful of films and greatly admired his looks and talent.  But I'll admit I thought he spelled his first name "Brendan" and wasn't too sure about the spelling of his last name.  Now, I know his full name by heart.  

If his comments are truly indicative of a bisexual orientation, good for Thwaites at so nonchalantly answering a question many older actors have skirted around in the past.  He'll certainly win himself legions of new fans, myself included. 

Click here to view the full interview.

Campaign for Harper's climate change denier in Whitby-Oshawa now complains about political smears

It's extremely rich of Harper Conservatives to be complaining about political smears coming from their political opponents in the Whitby-Oshawa byelection, which takes place tomorrow to fill the seat formerly held by Jim Flaherty.

The Harperites perfected the ruthless tactic of launching multi-million dollar negative ad campaigns to attack their opponents and maintain power in the past.   Just ask Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff.

Now talk in tomorrow's byelection in Whitby-Oshawa has turned to new Conservative candidate Pat Perkins' questionable spending habits as mayor of Whitby.

"These included trips to real estate conferences in Las Vegas and Cannes, France, the installation of a back door to her office, a $345-a-night hotel room for a conference in Ottawa, as well as her handling of two funds controlled by the mayor." 

These criticisms are perfectly legitimate as Perkins is running mostly on her reputation as the "most experienced" candidate on the ballot.  So these attacks on her record are absolutely fair.  It's not like the attacks are baseless, unlike most previous and current attacks coming from Conservative Party central against their opponents.  

On top of Perkins' despicable comments lately on climate change, it's clear she's not the kind of leadership material her riding or the country needs.   In response to a question about the Harper government's failure to meet its own emissions-reduction targets, Ms. Perkins last week said: “I’m sure we could find other experts who could say something to the contrary” and suggested researchers are divided on climate science. “We need some consistency of ideas from our scientists. They are at both ends of the spectrum. They haven’t come together with solutions. You can’t expect a politician to decide which one of these scientists is correct.”

The last thing our country needs is another Harper backbencher who, if she ever did raise her voice, would utter that kind of nonsense and provide additional cover to Harper's refusal to take leadership to save the planet.  

It would be a beautiful result to see Jim Flaherty's former riding vote against Harper's party tomorrow.  Before he stepped down as Finance Minister, Flaherty publicly criticized Harper's misguided income splitting promise, which would only benefit the richest families in Canada at the expense of 85% of the public who would receive no benefit.   Despite that, the Harper government has forged ahead with its scheme to squander the surplus on those who need the least help.

A victory for the Liberal in Whitby-Oshawa would actually be a tribute to Jim Flaherty on that issue and a much-needed slap in the face for Harper's BS. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Justin Trudeau to protesters: 'Take a minute to explain'; Harper would've had them tackled and arrested

What a remarkable contrast!  

As we know, Stephen Harper has such tight restrictions at his events, only card-carrying Conservatives with long party histories can get in.   No one except the most elite gets anywhere close to him.  And most definitely, uninvited guests or average Canadians get zero chance to interact with him, let alone speak to the crowd.   It's probably been almost 10 years since Harper had any meaningful and unscripted interactions with average Canadians who weren't pre-screened for party loyalty.

Meanwhile, yesterday in Toronto at the Reference Library, Justin Trudeau was holding an event that was briefly interrupted by some protesters carrying a banner against the Energy East pipeline.  Trudeau may not share the protesters' position on the issue, but rather than ignore them and wait for RCMP to tackle them and remove them (to audience applause from Conservative party seals), Trudeau invited these Canadians to state their positions for all to hear and even called for the audience to applaud them.  Watch the video here.

Trudeau is a natural leader who likes Canadians and is willing to listen to them, even let them temporarily interrupt his own events to give them a voice.

Harper vilifies and demonizes those who oppose his agenda and most certainly doesn't give most Canadians a voice.  His government has even called these types of protesters "terrorists."   Harper's rotten as a leader and he needs to go as soon as possible.  

I'm looking forward to seeing Trudeau beat this jerk in 2015. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I'm with Greg Sorbara on ending separate school funding in Ontario

I could write today about Russia's latest petty move in that country's despicable campaign against LGBT people by removing a memorial to Apple founder Steve Jobs in St Petersburg after the man who succeeded him at the helm of the company, Tim Cook, came out as gay.  But those bigots aren't worth my energy today.

I could also write about something closer to home in BC where, according to this report, many ignorant Chinese suburbanites are worried progressive school board forces are planning to inject their children with some kind of serum to turn them gay.

But those idiots aren't worth my energy either.  There seems to be no end to the stupidity of our species.

But one slight bit of hope has emerged from reading this article about former Ontario finance minister Greg Sorbara's (pictured) declaration that Ontario should finally scrap its antiquated, separate school system, in which one religion - Roman Catholics - receive special status by getting public schools funded by taxpayers, while all other religions do not.   Sorbara makes the comments in his new memoir. 

In a modern, secular, pluralistic society like Ontario, it's long past the time we do the right thing on this issue.  Of course, Premier Kathleen Wynne, who's openly lesbian and couldn't work as a teacher in the separate school system in Ontario if she wanted to, has said she has no plans to pursue the dismantling of public funding for Catholic schools.  I hope she changes her mind.  She has a majority now so she could begin a process to examine the issue and allow the voters to speak on the subject.

I wrote in February 2012 about a strategy I think could be deployed by any premier looking to create a mandate to act on the separate school issue without having obtained one in the previous election.  I stand by that plan today.  As John Tory taught us, running for or against Catholic or religious schools in an election can be an election loser.

But now that we have a stable Liberal government under Wynne until 2018, perhaps now is the time to revisit the issue.  The people of Ontario have never had the chance to weigh in on our public education system.   It's now time for a plebiscite that would allow them to do that.  The process I prescribe is laid out in detail here.  But basically it would go like this:

The Ontario government calls a non-binding plebiscite on the issue in which voters would be asked to rank 3 options in order of preference: Ontario's status quo (one public system and one Catholic system); or one public system and several religious-based systems where numbers warrant; or one public system for all students.  Which ever result gets over 50% support after the first or second round wins.   For full details, click here to read my original post.

Such a vote would give the government direction and a mandate to act where none exists now. 

It's long past time Ontarians get a say into how their public education system money is handed out.