Café Le Cagibi has long held down the fort as a sort of (meta)physical gateway to Mile End at the corner of St-Laurent and St-Viateur. Yet after more than a decade—and amidst a strip dizzyingly gentrifying—the iconic café and show venue is moving on up.

Faced with—among other things—rent spikes north of 200%, Le Cagibi has opted to restructure. The metamorphosis actually began over a year ago, says Jess Lee, one of the proprietors. “As a group we tackled the issue of our lease, discussed landlord negotiations, and weighed pros, cons and feasibility of our various options,” she says.

“We decided moving was the best option.”

The iconic Mile End strip of St-Viateur between St-Laurent and Parc, built and popularized by places like Le Cagibi, has been gentrifying for years. Yet the gradual price edging of yesteryear has tipped over into something of a point of no return.

As documented by Gazette‘s T’cha Dunlevy, Le Cagibi’s rent increase came at the hands of Jeremy Kornbluth and Brandon Shiller, proprietors of upwards of seven properties on the strip, in addition to properties housing the controversial Starbucks in Marché Jean-Talon and the (now defunct) Gordon Ramsay remake of Le Laurier BBQ.

Yet according to Lee, there’s a silver lining to all this jazz. “Cagibi has always tried to provide a space for employees to learn and develop new skills and take on projects they’re excited about. The coop really formalizes this and takes it to the next level, allowing more folks to access the work, responsibilities and profits of ownership,” she says, noting that the new space will allow employees “to have more input into how the business runs,” and that regular nonworking members are also set to “benefit financially by receiving profits of the business and be able to choose where and how money goes back into the business.”

As such, Le Cagibi will join a growing cadre of city co-ops, such as nearby Touski and Divan Orange. The latter two proved particularly inspiring to Le Cagibi, according to Lee. “(These co-ops) were doing similar business operations and Touski provided us with an understanding of their structure which we definitely used as a springboard for discussing our own.”

So when will Le Cagibi as we know it be dissappearing? Having held its final show, the latest word is that current Le Cagibi will close around April 3rd. Lee says that the new space—on St-Zotique near St-Laurent—is slated to be open “as soon as possible… in time for Spring.”

The food menu might see some changes, though the details are still being hammered out.

As for the fate of the iconic Mile End of St-Viateur east of St-Laurent, things are much less certain.

“I think it just becomes more palpable and stark as financial capital begins to explicitly dominate the landscape,” says Lee of the changes. “But I think there’s a lot of resistance in Mile-End to allowing things to progress and a lot of continuous local support for long standing neighbourhood institutions.  I think the real estate corporations buying into the neighbourhood are aiming to make Mile End a new Griffintown or Notre Dame in St. Henri, but in my opinion, they’re overshooting in their expectations.”

“If they continue to blow out the locale economy,” she says, “in five years time my guess is there will be many unrented facades, a lot of business turnover and a few boutique operations or multi-national corporations using their storefront as advertising rather then as a points of sale.”

Cagibi has a fundraising campaign, where you can also find out about joining the collective

Featured image via Flickr/bittermelon / Creative Commons reuse.

Gun control is a hot button issue right now thanks to thousands of kids in the US. On March 24th, 2018, high schoolers, parents, and teachers across America took the trauma of surviving or hearing about school shootings and turned it into righteous anger at the people who govern them. They marched on Washington in numbers that made the Orange Egotist’s inauguration look like a One Direction concert on a school night.

The demands of the marchers were simple ones: stop taking money from people who value guns over lives. Make assault weapons less accessible to those who want to turn their anger on the world around them. Stop ranting about the importance of child safety while doing nothing to ensure it.

They recognize that their government is too well compensated by the gun-obsessed losers in the US and that dramatic action is needed. They want background checks, and licensing, and all sorts of other measures to ensure that dangerous people do not get access to guns.

What they are asking for is what we Canadians consider to be the bare minimum. On March 21, 2018, federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale introduced Bill C 71 which would beef up Canada’s existing gun control legislation.

This article is going to give you a crash course on gun control in Canada, specifically with regards to individual rights to gun possession.

Gun control is governed primarily by two laws: The Canadian Firearms Act and the Canadian Criminal Code. They define different kinds of weapons under Canadian law and set out rules regarding which weapons are legal in Canada and under what circumstances.

The Canadian Criminal Code defines a weapon as anything used, designed to be used, or intended for use in causing the death or injury to any person, or for the purpose of intimidating them. This includes firearms and anything used, designed to be used, or intended to be used to bind or tie someone up against their will.

That said, not all weapons in Canada require a license.

Only firearms, prohibited firearms, restricted firearms and weapons, and prohibited devices require a license under Canadian law.

A prohibited firearm is any handgun with a barrel equal to or less than 105mm in length and is designed to discharge a 25 or 32 caliber bullet. Prohibited firearms also include sawed off shotguns and automatic weapons.

Prohibited weapons include switchblades or any other knife with a blade that can open via hand pressure to a button or other mechanism, as well as any other weapon considered prohibited but which is not a firearm.

A prohibited device includes any part of or accessory to a weapon that is considered prohibited. It also includes handgun barrels equal to or less 105mm in length, with an exception allowed for competitive sport shooting weapons required by the rules of the International Shooting Union. Anything used to silence, muffle, or stop the report of a firearm is also considered a prohibited device.

A restricted firearm includes any handgun not considered a prohibited firearm and has a barrel less than 470 mm in length. It also has to be capable of discharging ammunition in a semi automatic way.

Restricted weapons are any weapon considered as such that is not a firearm. Crossbows generally fall into this category (apologies to any medieval weapon enthusiasts).

In order to have access to any such weapons, you have to apply for a licence as per the Federal Firearms Act. You are considered ineligible for a licence if in the interests of the safety it is best you not possess a weapon or ammunition.

It is generally up the chief firearms officer named by the Federal Public Safety Minister or a provincial court judge to decide eligibility. In determining applications for licenses, they generally look at the following criteria and whether or not these apply over the last five years prior to the application:

  • Have you ever been convicted of or received a discharge for offenses in which violence against a person was attempted, used, or threatened?
  • Have you ever been convicted of or received a discharge for firearms or other weapons offenses?
  • Have you ever been convicted of criminal harassment?
  • Have you ever been convicted of certain drug related offenses?
  • Have you ever been treated at a hospital, mental health institute, or psychiatric clinic for a mental illness that was associated with threatened or attempted violence (this fact is looked at regardless of whether or not an applicant was confined at the aforementioned treatment facilities)?
  • Is there is a court mandated prohibition order barring you from possession a weapon?

Once these criteria are assessed, a person must successfully undergo the “Canadian Firearms Safety Course” for the class of weapon for they want a license for and pass the corresponding exam. They also must fill out forms and provide character references.

The more dangerous the weapon for which a license is being requested, the more likely the references will be checked. Firearms themselves have to be registered with the Firearms Registrar.

It must be noted that the Firearms Act does have exceptions including those rights guaranteed as per existing aboriginal or treaty rights.

Bill C 71 proposes a few changes to the Canadian Firearms Act and the Criminal Code.

The new law proposes to do away with the five-year limit on criteria for licenses set out in the Firearms Act. It also requires that any firearms seized by or surrendered to peace officers due to a prohibition order be automatically forfeited to the Crown unless the order specifies otherwise. The remaining rules pertain primarily to grandfather clauses written into the Firearms Act in order to protect those legally possessing firearms at the time the law was put into force.

If the law is passed, C 71 will come into force in the summer of 2018. The law is likely to pass because unlike the leaders to the south, Canadians care about protecting each other from gun violence.

* Featured image by Steve Rainwater via Wikimedia Commons

Endangered species are a pet cause for many and a nuisance for many others. Social media is regularly flooded with a barrage of memes, online petitions, and articles about species on the brink of extinction due to natural or man-made causes. On March 9th, Quebec’s caribou population came into the spotlight when the Couillard government announced that they would not spend money to save them in Val D’Or.

According to the provincial Minister of Forests, Wildlife, and Parks Luc Blanchette, it would cost seventy six million dollars over the next fifty years to protect the habitat of caribou in the region. The caribou in the area have been on steady decline since the 1950s due to the logging industry.

The government had originally planned to move the remaining animals to a zoo in 2016 but that idea was withdrawn when environmental groups pointed out that the animals would not survive in captivity. The government has deemed saving them too expensive, so instead the government plans to focus on saving other caribou herds in the province.

As it stands, Canada’s caribou are considered endangered under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA). While it is tragic that the animal that adorns our coinage is at risk, this article is not about them. It is about endangered species in Canada and what rules are in place at the federal and provincial levels to ensure their survival.

Sadly, protecting endangered species is not a simple matter in Canada, and we partly have the federalist system to blame. According to the articles of our constitution specifying federal and provincial jurisdictions, all waterways and marine life matters as well as land not claimed by the provinces are federal, whereas the management and sale of public lands in provincial territory, the exploration of non-renewable natural resources, and “the development, conservation and management of non-renewable natural resources and forestry resources in the province” are provincial. In cases where there is a jurisdictional conflict, the federal government takes precedence.

The current federal law to protect endangered species is the aforementioned Species at Risk Act which was enacted in 2002, though some of its provisions only came into effect in subsequent years. The main goal of the act is to prevent species from becoming extirpated or extinct. Extirpated as per the act means that the species is no longer found in Canada and “extinct” means the species no longer exists at all.

It has jurisdiction only over federal land, aquatic species, and migratory birds. Federal land only makes up about four percent of provincial land in Canada and even then, only areas classified as Critical Habitat are protected under the law. The federal act allows species to be classified as “at risk” or “not at risk” with assessments done by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

The Committee consists of experts, academia, politicians and aboriginal representatives and has the task of assessing the status of Canadian wildlife species; their recommendations for the classification of a given species are then passed on to the federal government. Their science-based findings are publicly available.

Once the Committee has classified a species, it must do a reassessment every ten years to see if the ones at risk are still at risk. The criteria they use are those established by the United Nations’ Red List for critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable species.

According to Environment Canada’s website, as of 2017 there are currently five hundred and twenty-one species of plants and animals classified under the Species At Risk Act as being at risk of extinction or extirpation in Canada. Once the Committee has established those at risk, it’s up to the government to decide whether or not to adapt their action plan to save a species by introducing measures such as incentives to support people helping to protect species at risk, awards and recognition programs, public awareness programs, and protecting habitats.

In Quebec, endangered species fall under the Act Respecting Threatened or Vulnerable Species. It mandates the Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change to carry out research regarding species that need protection or whose habitats need protection, establish programs to promote their survival, and delegate and enter into agreements with the people they delegate to in order to implement these measures. The Minister can also, with the government’s assent, lease or acquire land by expropriation for the protection and management of threatened or vulnerable plant species.

For those of you unfamiliar with expropriation, it is the process by which the government decides to take land for itself by offering the owner(s) compensation based on what the property is valued at. The value of the land is determined by government appraisers. In cases where the owner feels the indemnity they are offered is insufficient, they will often turn to private appraisers and attorneys to seek fairer compensation.

Several private appraisers in Montreal told me that this is quite common, and in some cases cities will even halt development on a given parcel of privately owned land for ecological reasons, resulting in them being sued for “disguised expropriation”. It is in this respect, among others, that endangered species protections can be a nuisance for some.

The Quebec government can also be gifted or left land in a will for the sake of protecting vulnerable species.

It is up to the aforementioned Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change and the Minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks to come up with a list of threatened or vulnerable species in Quebec, how they should be identified, and where they are located.

The law does have exceptions and allows for parties to act in spite of it if an exemption is written into government regulations, if activities are carried out in accordance with government standards, the activity is required for educational or scientific purposes, or if activities are being carried out to repair damage caused by a catastrophe or to prevent it.

The government, like those who adopt it as a pet cause, recognizes the importance of protecting Canada’s vulnerable species as part of the fight against climate change. Let’s keep electing governments that continue to do so.

* Featured image by By Mickael Brangeon(Peupleloup) via WikiMedia Commons

If you have a regular spot along Ste-Catherine where your friends know they can meet you during the annual Montreal St. Patrick’s Day Parade, you won’t be going there this year. Well, I suppose you can, but you’ll just be standing on a street corner, quite possibly day drinking in public alone, for a few hours.

For the first time in over half a century, the parade will be a block up, running along de Maisonneuve from City Councillors to MacKay, where it will head south to René-Lévesque and finish. That’s right, it will also be running east to west for the first time in my lifetime at least.

This is due to major renovations on Ste-Catherine, currently underway around Bleury and making their way to Atwater over the next four years. While Mayor Valérie Plante may be changing some of the specifics of the plan, it was former Mayor Denis Coderre who set the timeframe, so you can blame him (or Montreal’s outdated sewage system) for the change.

This Will Be…Different

So what will a St. Patty’s Parade on de Maisonneuve look and feel like? Possibly a little more cramped and awkward than usual.

While de Maisonneuve may offer a slightly wider street than Ste-Catherine at parts, sidewalk space is, for the most part, considerably smaller (hence the cramped). That is unless you close the bike path and use it as spectator space, which I’m guessing they will do (hence the awkward).

The floats and marching bands will have enough space to make their way down the route. If you want to watch them go by, though, picking a good spot could be crucial to your enjoyment.

Most businesses in the area benefit from the parade. During the parade itself, that’s mainly depanneurs, coffee shops and restaurants. The categories won’t change this year, but those specific businesses used to dealing with a sustained rush (and in some cased inflating prices) will be relegated to a larger than normal clientele thinking ahead and vice versa.

The route

For many, myself included, parade day is also about the mid-afternoon after-party. That’s what it’s all about for area bars who have one of their biggest days of the year on a Sunday afternoon.

While there are some major bars along the parade route located between de Maisonneuve and Ste-Catherine, most that cater to the St-Patty’s crowd can be found heading south towards René-Lévesque or along Ste-Catherine itself. This is especially true in the Guy-Concordia area.

All bars in the area will, of course, be packed to one degree or another this year, but I wonder if altered proximity to where everyone is coming from will make a difference in just how packed certain places will get. This is one time of year when passing by one place first instead of another just down the street can make a difference.

But Not That Different

While a key part of the ritual that is the Montreal St. Patrick’s Day parade will be different this year, there are at least three key things moving up a street can’t change:

The Show: It’s the same parade, pretty much. The Irish dancers will still be there, so will the Shriners, the high school marching bands, the university floats, the corporate product placement, the fire department from some random town in Ontario and, of course, local media. Well, not all local media, FTB still doesn’t have a float. Sure, we never asked for one, but still… Different street, same parade.

Unexpected Meetings: My favourite part of parade day are all the chance encounters with people I haven’t seen, except for online, since the previous year, or sometimes for a lot longer. You never know just who you’re going to run into and randomly hang out with for a few minutes or a few hours and that won’t change with a different route.

Montreal Spring: No matter how cold it may be outside on the day, or the fact that it was significantly warmer the previous weekend, this is really the first sign that spring has come to Montreal. We’re all outside for a decent period of time together and we’re enjoying it.

And we can do that on de Maisonneuve just as well as we can on Ste-Catherine.

* The 195th Annual Montreal St. Patrick’s Day Parade starts at noon on Sunday, March 18th

One of the cornerstones of any liberal democracy is a judiciary that is independent, fair, and free from bias. Unfortunately, judges are human beings and therefore vulnerable to having the same prejudices many of us have.

An ideal government will name judges that can separate their own preconceptions from what is fundamentally right and legal in rendering their decisions. Unfortunately, this is not what happened in the case of former Alberta judge Robin Camp, and it is clearly not what happened in the case of Judge Eliana Marengo.

Her story is one that shows the dangers of aggressive Quebec Islamaphobia and racism masquerading as legal secularism.

In February 2015, Rania El-Alloul went to court to get her car back after it had been seized by the SAAQ. The issue was a simple one, but Judge Marengo turned a molehill into a mountain by refusing to hear El-Alloul’s case unless she took off her headscarf, inappropriately comparing the hijab to hats and sunglasses which are not permitted in court.

El-Alloul was not wearing a headscarf. She was wearing a hijab mandated by her faith, which she politely told the judge. Judge Marengo in a recording of the proceedings said that the court is a secular space, mentioning that there is no cross on the wall of the courtroom. She then reprimanded El-Alloul, refusing to hear her case because she was “not suitably dressed” as per the regulations of the Court of Quebec.

As there is no record of Judge Marengo denying others their day in court due to them wearing visible crosses, clergy collars, or a kipa, it is most likely she refused El-Alloul because she is Muslim.

Judge Marengo gave El-Alloul two options, she could take off her “headscarf” or request a postponement and consult a lawyer. El-Alloul refused to remove it and thus far, her case has yet to be heard.

When the story broke, numerous complaints were made to the Quebec Conseil de la Magistrature (“the Council”), the organization responsible for disciplining provincially appointed judges in Quebec. The complaints came not just from El-Alloul herself, but from many others unrelated to the case who felt the judge’s conduct was inappropriate of her high office.

Prime Justin Trudeau expressed his disapproval of Marengo on Twitter, saying:

In February 2016, the Council decided to form a committee to investigate Judge Marengo’s conduct. Marengo, for her part, tried to block the investigation into her conduct by challenging the legitimacy of the Council itself. She claimed that the refusal to hear El-Alloul amounted to a judicial decision that must be addressed in an appeal and that to investigate her via the Council would be a violation of judicial independence.

Fortunately, the Superior Court of Quebec sided with Council the following year. Marengo appealed the decision but the Quebec Court of Appeal agreed with the Superior Court.

An investigation into Judge Marengo’s conduct is now underway or will be soon.

How exactly does the Quebec Conseil de la Magistrature work?

It’s a lot like the Canadian Judicial Council responsible for investigating federal judges.

In addition to administrative duties and a general responsibility to improve the justice system in the province, the Quebec Conseil de la Magistrature is responsible for investigating the conduct of judges sitting on the Court of Quebec, the Professions Tribunal, and the Human Rights Tribunal. It has 16 members consisting of eleven judges, one justice of the peace, two lawyers, and two members of the general public.

They generally conduct investigations in response to complaints filed with them. Complaints to the Quebec Council can be filed online via their website.

Like their federal counterpart, the Conseil cannot overturn judicial decisions or verdicts as those have to go through the appeals process. All the Quebec Council can do is reprimand a judge or in the worst cases, recommend to the government that the judge be removed from the bench. In their investigations, the Council must consider the Judicial Code of Ethics, a set of rules governing the behavior of judges in Quebec.

Judge Marengo will likely be investigated with regards to whether her conduct violated articles two and eight of the Judicial Code of Ethics which have been used to reprimand the racist behavior of judges in the past. They read as follows:

  • 2. The judge should perform the duties of his office with integrity, dignity and honour.
  • 8. In public, the judge should act in a reserved, serene and courteous manner.”

Judge Eliana Marengo’s behavior towards Rania El-Alloul was unacceptable. Not only did it deny an innocent woman her day in court, but it is also against the values of diversity and freedom from discrimination Quebec supposedly embraces.

Here’s hoping the Council agrees.

* Featured image of the Palais de Justice in Montreal by Jeangagnon via Wikimedia Commons

Just admit it, you’ve fantasized of escaping to the lovely Land of Down Under, where sun is practically endless, a museum with free entrance just around the corner, and yet another crispy clear beach stretches on the coastline. We’ve all been there – I mean, in the same fantasy, but what about leaving your comfort zone, actually getting the plane ticket and living a full year as an Aussie?
Fortunately, there are many fun, exciting and rewarding ways to achieve this endeavor, so let’s take a look at a few Australia-perfect strategies to explore this wonderful continent, and yes, fall even more in love with its intact beauty during your stay.

The good ol’ work and travel

Image by Holgi via Pixabay Creative Commons

Just when the winter blues starts to set in, you would be packing your bags and escaping the vicious cold all the way Down Under. Whether you’re a culinary wizard that craves for more hands-on experience with some of the finest experts in the field, or you’re looking to teach abroad, Australia offers a wide range of work and travel programs.

Some of them include tour guides, full accommodation and visa paperwork preparation, so that you can start getting ready hassle-free. It’s best to apply via an accredited agency with previous experience and success, because these applications require investments that can range from $900 in fees and additional funds in your account to prove you can support yourself during your stay.

Of course, you’ll get all the advice and guidance you need from the local agent and on site as well, so that your experience is as seamless as possible. From forwarding your mail, finding the right job, to nailing your visa application, they’ll have you covered.

Make a difference

Image by kuvaa via Pixabay Creative Commons

Traveling for a non-profit cause to Australia is another wonderful way to experience their culture, heritage and do your best to contribute to their efforts to protect the environment and their indigenous wildlife. There are numerous wildlife sanctuaries, rescue operations, organic farms, tree-planting programs, all of which are perfect for nature-lovers among you.

You will stay with the local folk, join in on their daily routine and gain invaluable experience in Australia’s cultural background. Many of these volunteering programs also include perks such as free horse-riding, kayaking, free accommodation and local sightseeing tours. You’ll also likely have field trips and regular access to major cities, including Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, but also some of Australia’s most beautiful natural wonders, including the Great Barrier Reef, the Blue Mountains, and the Uluru-Kata Tjuta stone formations.

Apply for a student exchange program

Image via Pexels Creative Commons

As a country that boasts a staggering number of international students, Australia has some of the best universities, coveted educational programs, and great benefits for their student visitors from abroad. This is particularly alluring for those who would prefer a more urban experienced located in some of Australia’s cities, where you can apply for scholarships, and you will also be able to get a part-time job during your studies.

Before you go, make sure you look for student accommodation in Brisbane and other cities to see which option best suits your needs. Of course, you should budget for your studying and living costs in the area of your choice. Every university has different entry requirements and procedures, so it’s essential to get acquainted with them before you make a final decision.

What to expect

Image by Belle Co via Pexels Creative Commons

As an international volunteer, worker or student, you’ll need to cover many expenses before you reach the sunny coast of Australia. From getting the right health insurance, ensuring ample financial support during your stay, covering the cost of airplane tickets, accommodation, and basic lifestyle needs, you’ll see that the standard of living Down Under is very high, and the price is no different.

Since you’re coming from a snow-covered north, you should brace yourself for an entirely different cultural setting. Aussies are known to be laid-back, friendly, welcoming and kind, and the climate is sizzling hot during summer, while they enjoy mild winters – but their seasons are flipped compared to ours, so if you are traveling during your winter, you will be greeted by their summer!

* Featured image by ajmclellan via pixbay Creative Commons

Images:

Its so easy to get stressed out when fighting with and/or god forbid in the process breaking up with your partner. You both think you are right. They said things they will probably regret later, calling you all the names in the book, and now accept no fucking blame for this whole thing. You look them in their stupid dumb ridiculous goofy beautiful fucking face and just want to smash it into oblivion.

In that moment it is hard to imagine how much you actually still love them because you are blinded by the rage of right now. It burns bright.

Please take a moment to ponder not killing them, step back. Be the stronger person and hold back your fierce rage fueled fury.

Although it seems like a not so gentle punch to the gut, a stinging slap in the face, or swift kick in the nuts would cause you instant satisfaction, you probably should take a step back and remember that you are both adults here. It is so healthy to express your emotions, even if it is uncomfortable, but do it with words and not fists. Violence is not the answer!

1. Breathe

Its always best to step back and breathe. Oxygen makes our brains work. Even chug a glass of water.

Make sure all of your things are lubed and ready to be wise. Get your body calm and relaxed.

Tension isn’t healthily for anyone. Stepping back and focusing on the in and out of your lungs will make you feel so much better.

2. Smoke a joint

After you take some deep breaths, breathe something else in. The best thing I can do to chill the fuck out is to smoke a little bit of sweet maryjane.

If this isn’t your cup of tea, well then have a cup of tea? I don’t know what to tell you, but weed is the number one killer of shitty feelings and bad arguments.

I feel 100% better about every situation when I light up. It’s like all my troubles melt away for that short second.

Offer the person you are fighting with a puff. Perhaps you will reach a resolution over this thoughtful peace pipe offering. You will both be more calm and collected.

3. Scream as loud as you can into the abyss

I once had a co-worker who would go into the back room and yell at the top of her lungs like she was on a roller coaster when a customer pissed her off. It is the best way to blow off steam.

Scream into the cave of infinity. It will feel like a thousand orgasms, releasing all the negativity into the world instead of yelling at a person. Primal scream therapy is real.

4. Eat dark chocolate

It is proven that chocolate triggers the same things in your brain as sex. Dark chocolate is really good for you, especially if it’s the vegan kind.

It is antioxidant rich and actually lowers your blood pressure. Also I read that you get higher if you eat it 40 minutes before you smoke weed, so maybe try this step before step #2.

5. Masturbate

Hate sex is one thing, but hate jerking off is a horse of a different color! Nothing is more stress releasing than diddling your own skittle.

Nobody knows what you want or need more than you baby! Everyone needs the good touch, especially when angry or emotional. Get that vibrator out and tell the world you are your own lover.

Masturbating is healthy and helps you with sexual discovery. Think about the random person in your sexy dream or that Greek god that you saw at the grocery store. Your hand or dildo is all you need to be happy. Independent bliss.

Other things I can think of are going to the beach or wherever your happy place is. Being in nature is so calming and grounding. It makes us remember how small we are.

Listen to music, the louder the better, and dance your ass off. Exercise, yoga, and cleaning are also positive ways to blow off negative energy.

Use the energy for good instead of evil. If distraction is your game then look at boobs on the internet, there are an endless supply.

I also like to write. Writing angry poetry is a great way to get over someone. Look up new adjectives to dislike them with.

Fuck that asshole and focus on the positive! Self love and care is what you need. Take time to think about how good the sun feels beating on your skin or how good it tastes to bite into a juicy tangerine.

Take a bath or get a massage. Think about the feeling you get right after a new hair cut or when you get a really good hug from someone.

Hold your head high and let your mind be free. Now that you are cool and collected you can turn the argument into a conversation, and if you get mad again, go back to #1 and start over.

* Featured Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis via Flickr Creative Commons

Protesters in Montreal are no longer required to provide a route to police. The Quebec Superior Court invalidated section 2.1 of Municipal Bylaw P-6 which was added at the height of the Maple Spring student protests in 2012 by then-Mayor Gerald Tremblay.

Over the past few years, Montreal Police (SPVM) used this provision to kettle and ticket protesters and to stop marches minutes after they started. The annual Anti-Police Brutality March being a frequent target.

The Quebec Superior Court had already invalidated Section 3.2 of the bylaw, the provision banning masks at protests, back in 2016. In the same ruling, the court put some restrictions on 2.1, but didn’t eliminate it entirely.

Not content with a partial victory, the plaintiffs, which included protest mascot Anarchopanda, decided to appeal. Today they won and the problematic parts of P-6 are gone and the court’s decision is effective immediately.

“Let’s not forget that this victory belongs to our comrades who take to the streets and risk police and judicial repression to fight for all our rights,” Sibel Ataogul, one of the lawyers fighting the appeal said in a Facebook post, adding: “Despite victories, judiciarisation is not the solution. Only the struggle pays.”

* Featured image by Chris Zacchia

It must be said that there is no issue more personal than that regarding our health care and family planning choices. It must also be said that in a country that constitutionally recognizes the equality of men and women, the choice of family planning method – which could include abstinence, the pill, condoms, IUDs, or abortion – is NOBODY’s business but the person directly affected by them.

Our government is responsible for upholding the constitution, which includes making sure that groups that do not recognize people’s constitutional right to make their own decisions regarding their healthcare will not get public funds. The Canadian federal government has made this clear via their recent announcement regarding the Canada Summer Jobs Program (CSJ).

The Canada Summer Jobs Program is an initiative by the federal government to encourage employers to take on summer students at the secondary and post-secondary levels by offering to subsidize the students’ wages for them.

The subsidy works for public and private employers as well as non-profit organizations and small businesses and has several priorities including the supporting employers who hire students from underrepresented groups such indigenous Canadians, the disabled, and visible minorities, and those that support opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) for women. Applications for the subsidies must be made by potential employers, though recently the Trudeau government added an additional catch to the program’s requirements.

Those who apply to the CSJ program now have to attest that:

“Both the job and the organization’s core mandate respect individual human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as other rights. These include reproductive rights and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.”

The federal government’s website adds the recognition that women’s rights are human rights and that their rights include “sexual and reproductive rights — and the right to access safe and legal abortions.”

This announcement was never meant to turn Canada into the next front in the battle between those that believe people have a right to their choices and those who do not. That issue was already settled in the early 90s when, following the Supreme Court striking down Canada’s abortion laws in 1988, the Senate voted against a new abortion law put before Parliament by the Mulroney government. Public opinion confirms this, for according to a 2017 Ipsos poll, 77 percent of respondents feel abortion should be permitted.

The announcement was simply meant to be a way to fix a subsidy issue after the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada published a report indicating that federal funding was going to anti-abortion groups in the summer of 2016. Federal Employment Minister Patty Hadju’s office then put out a statement apologizing for the oversight and stating that “no such organizations will receive funding from any constituencies represented by Liberal MPs.”

All the Trudeau government is doing is obeying the law by enforcing the gender equality statutes in the Canadian Charter of Rights by making anyone who does not conform to them ineligible for Federal funding.

It is Conservatives who have turned this minor subsidy issue into a religious crusade about abortion. The fiasco that followed is not an ideological debate about religious freedom but rather the result of some groups’ anger at losing government money they feel they are entitled to.

Organizations like The Southern Alberta Bible Camp who have publicly said “we don’t believe abortion is right” stand to lose about $40 000 in subsidy money if they refuse to sign the aforementioned attestation.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer has accused the Prime Minister – a self-proclaimed “proud feminist”- of imposing his views on faith groups. This is the same Andrew Scheer one of his supporters assured me would not take on abortion rights in Canada following his election to leadership of the party.

“I believe that the federal government should respect the freedoms that Canadians enjoy to have different beliefs and that by imposing personal values of Justin Trudeau on a wide variety of groups is not an appropriate way to go,” Scheer has said.

The government has not said that groups that openly condemn abortion and LGBTQ2 groups cannot operate in Canada. As per our religious freedoms and right to freedom of speech guaranteed in the constitution, they can do as they please within reasonable limits prescribed by law. All the federal government has done is said that they cannot get government money to hire young people to help them do it.

Since the Conservatives have turned this into an abortion issue, let’s look at those that claim to believe in women’s equality and still be pro-life.

Despite the claim of many conservatives, one cannot recognize the constitutional right of women’s equality to men and be pro-life at the same time. It is not feminism these self-proclaimed “pro-life feminists” are embracing, but rather benevolent sexism.

The reason is this: the most secular anti-abortion arguments rest on the unspoken notion that women are not strong enough, mature enough, or intelligent enough to make their own decisions regarding their reproductive health. They are welcome to every freedom men have, except with regards to their deeply personal reproductive choices. ]

They will use arguments about sex selective abortions to make this point, while completely ignoring the numbers and whether or not the procedure was necessary to save the woman’s life. It is the same kind of benevolently sexist argument the most vicious secularists make in Quebec when trying to force Muslim women to stop wearing the hijab or niqab: the infantilizing argument that presumes that no woman is capable of making such a decision of her own free will but rather makes difficult decisions out of selfishness, impulsivity, or external pressure.

It is a notion that must be recognized for what it is: a contradiction of the notion of gender equality entrenched in Canadian law.

Those who stand to lose funds as a result of this will be doing so because their mandate does not fit with that of the Canadian government. We also need to ask how much the federal government will be checking up on those who do sign the attestation.

Is this an administrative rubber stamp where people can attest to one thing and do another? Or will the federal government take steps to make sure that those who do get the funds stay true to their attestation?

Without any sort of checks, the attestation is meaningless.

If it is meaningless, then groups who really want to the money to hire a student to distribute photos of fetuses outside clinics should have no trouble signing it.

As long as you have a bank account and an identity, someone will do their best to steal it. There is a myth that scammers only target the elderly because they’re technologically illiterate and so desperate for attention and that they are blind to being cheated. It’s a myth because it’s ageist and anyone can fall victim to a scam and be defrauded of their money, their credit, and their good name.

It’s the price we pay for being human, and for having access to modern technology. Being scammed does not make you stupid or naïve, it just means that are people eager enough to screw you for their or their client’s gain and they will use immoral and illicit ways to get it via the same things – email addresses, IDs, bank cards, websites etc., – we take for granted.

This article is going to be a little different than my other legal pieces. Instead of walking you through the law and the penalties for committing these scams, I’m going to focus on you – the potential victims. I am going to walk you through a few different kinds of scams and what to do if someone is trying to rope you into one. In cases where you may have already fallen victim to a scam, I will also provide some information on the action you can take.

We all know frauds and scams are illegal in Canada, but what many people don’t know is how they work and what you can do about them.

I want to help. So let’s talk scams.

Ponzi schemes are perhaps one of the oldest there is. Named after the con artist Charles Ponzi who operated the scam in the 30s, it’s a scam that presents itself as a wonderful investment opportunity. All you have to do is invest a ton of money and you’re guaranteed more money in interest.

The catch is that the business you are investing in doesn’t actually make any money. The interest cheques you are getting are actually the result of the scammer recruiting more people to invest. The scammer simply passes on some of the new investors’ money as the interest you allegedly earned on your investment.

It counts on the recruitment of more and more people. Once the scammer cannot recruit anymore, they’ll take the money and run, if they don’t get caught first.

A good rule to follow is that if an investment opportunity seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you’ve fallen victim to one, gather or print up all the information you have and contact the police.

Another common scam is the pyramid scheme. With a pyramid scheme, you’re offered a “great” business opportunity to “be your own boss”. With jobs in Canada paying poorly and with no benefits, more and more people are falling prey to these scams hoping to find a better lot in life.

Like Ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes rely on recruitment in order to survive, but unlike the former, the scheme is actually an illegal version of multi-level marketing. This means that they claim to exist for the purpose of selling products via independent distributors.

Legit multi-level marketing companies will disclose the different levels of earnings by people who join and the average earnings of a typical participant. With pyramid schemes, the products themselves are not what makes money. They rely on the sellers to buy a ton of the product first which they can sell afterward. The money comes from one distributor recruiting more distributors.

The ones the first distributor got to join will then buy the products in huge amounts hoping to sell them. The first distributor will get a cut of the money from the sale of all these products to the new distributors. This second batch of distributors will then have to recruit more distributors to buy a ton of the stuff so they can earn money off those sales, with some of it going to the first person, and the cycle continues.

If you are wondering if someone is trying to court you into a pyramid scheme and you’re thinking of signing up, look online before giving an answer. If the company is facing numerous accusations of being such a scheme, it’s best to stay away. Companies facing such accusations include Nu Skin and Herbalife, whose recruitment has decimated communities in the US.

If you’ve fallen prey to one, get out while you still can and report it to the police and the federal Competition Bureau which ensures that Canadian businesses operate legally and fairly.

Now let’s talk about a couple of computer scams.

When it comes to computer scams, there are a few prevention methods you can take. First, change your passwords often and make them as complicated as you can; that means using numbers, capital letters etc. The second thing you can do is back up all your files using a viable website, USB key, or portable hard drive, as viruses and malware are an inevitable part of having technology and often our data does not survive on infected machines.

Some of the most sinister scams are emails or text messages from companies that seem to be the legit ones you deal with such as your wireless or cable provider, your bank or a company like PayPal.They’ll claim that your account has been hacked or there has been some suspicious activity and that all you have to do is click on a link and log in to fix it.

With these schemes, they are not necessarily after your money but your personal information. It is therefore best to not click on the link provided. Take a good look at the email address or phone number the message is coming from and compare it to other legit communications you have gotten from the company. If you do mess up and click, check out the URL of the web page it sends you to, as the site may look the same, but the URL won’t be.It is very common for these scammers to use numbers and email addresses that are extremely similar to the real thing, so be diligent and contact the company directly just to be sure.

Another sinister computer scam is ransomware. This is a kind of malware that can infect your computer and lock it or encrypt your files unless you pay the scammer a ransom. A lot of these will claim to be from a legit law enforcement agency that has locked your machine saying you’ve been caught doing something illegal and have to pay a “fine”. That said, it’s the kind of malware that’s hard to prevent but there are a few things you can do if infected.

Though most scammers will unlock your computer once you pay, there’s no guarantee you’ll get your files back, so it is best to avoid paying the ransom. If however there is highly sensitive information on your device and you’d rather pay the money to get it back, pay it.

If infected, disconnect the computer from any other devices it can spread to. Take a picture of the ransom note using your phone or take a screenshot (if you can) in case you want to file a police report later on. Then you can take it to a computer repair shop – there are many – who will do their best to get rid of the malware and recover your data.

You can also try and or use a legit anti-virus or malware program to remove it and then do your best to recover any files.

Anyone and everyone can fall victim to a scam, but with a little knowledge, we can scammers less successful.

* Featured image by Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier via Flickr Creative Commons

When it comes to criminal justice, it’s safe to say that pop culture has ruined its meaning in the minds of all but a certain few. Shows like Law and Order and CSI champion police and prosecutors, ignore or sugar coat endemic problems of racism, sexism, and LGBTQIphobia in law enforcement, and equally problematic, skew people’s understanding of how certain crimes are defined by the law.

The most obvious example is with regards to how the law defines first and second degree murder.

Though everyone is dreading the next 2018 celebrity death, we need to remember that ordinary people are dying too, and often in horrible circumstances. Nothing shows this more clearly than Montreal’s first murder of 2018.

This article will tell a little about the people involved and give a crash course on how first and second degree murder are defined in Canadian Criminal Law.

On January 28, 2018 at 11:15 pm someone called 911. A woman had been stabbed in the back at her home in the LaSalle borough of Montreal. Before she died from her wound, the 61 year old victim told police her daughter had stabbed her.

The daughter, 34 year old Meng Ye, was not unknown to the police as they’d been called to the home before when she’d been in psychological crisis. The mother of a one and a half year old has since been charged with first degree murder.

According to a former neighbor, the victim had a poor grasp of Canada’s official languages and though she seemed a rude person, there was nothing about her that would provoke someone to violence.

People’s general understanding of first degree murder is a murder that is planned and deliberate. A second degree murder is thought to be more spontaneous. There is truth to both definitions, but they are incomplete.

In Canada, first degree murder is where a person causes the death of another, having meant to kill them or cause them bodily harm that is likely to cause their death. It is also considered first degree murder if you do something that you know is likely to cause death and it does, notwithstanding the fact that you didn’t want anyone to die. The rules for first degree murder however do not end there.

You are guilty of first degree murder if you cause the death of someone while you are committing treason, sabotage, piracy, hijacking, and escaping or rescuing someone from prison or another form of lawful custody. It is first degree murder if you cause someone’s death during a sexual assault, while assaulting a peace officer, breaking and entering, robbery, arson, hostage taking, and kidnapping.

The death is considered first degree murder regardless of whether or not you intended to cause the death and whether or not you knew someone would likely die IF:

  • You meant to cause bodily harm in order to commit the crime or
  • You meant to cause bodily harm in order to facilitate fleeing the scene right after you committed or attempted to commit the crime

And the death ensued from the bodily harm.

The definition of first degree murder also includes causing the death of a person if the death resulted from you administering a stupefying or overpowering thing, i.e. you poisoned or sedated the person, for the purpose of causing bodily harm to commit the crime. It is also considered as such if the death is caused by bodily harm you inflicted on a person to facilitate you fleeing the scene or you intentionally made a person stop breathing so you could commit a crime and they died as a result.

Killing a peace officer of any kind or a warden or other prison employee is all considered first degree murder regardless of whether the murder was planned and deliberate. It is also considered first degree murder if you killed someone while uttering threats intended to make them fear for their safety or the safety of anyone they knew.

If you kill someone while committing an act of terrorism, the murder is considered murder in the first degree regardless of whether it was planned and deliberate.

Last but not least, if you had a contract in which you were compensated to kill someone, “assisted” in causing the death of that person, or were paid to counsel someone to kill the person, you are guilty of first degree murder. Same goes if you killed someone for the benefit of or on orders from a criminal organization or if you killed someone while committing another crime on their behalf.

Anything that is not considered first degree murder is second degree murder. As Canada has long since abolished the death penalty, those guilty of either degree of murder are facing a minimum sentence of life in prison.

What will happen to Meng Ye and her child remains to be seen.

Think of bad relationships as faulty products. If a product malfunctions we complain and get our money back, write a review, and maybe even sue if it was really bad! When you complain about a bad product you suddenly find others that experienced what you did.

I opened a bottle of Sriracha hot sauce today and it exploded in my face causing temporary blindness and extreme discomfort. Luckily I was in a friggen science lab when it happened and was able to quickly flush my eyes with water to remove the rather hot and burny pepper sauce.

The pressure was so high it kept spewing out. Not the usual bottle I get, I was excited to try a different brand. A few had been purchased, it must be good, right? Clearly there was something wrong! It sounded like a gun shot when I opened it. What if it was a little kid or someone with a bad heart? Nobody should ever have to go through this again!

The song She Blinded Me With Science was in my head all day. Ironic AF, glad I am not blind. It really puts things in perspective. We are just a moment away from having our lives changed. You never know when things will happen. You can’t let things go without fixing the problem!

I called immediately and the customer service rep knew exactly what I was talking about, like “Oooo yea, exploding bottles, people call about that all the time. We are JUST the distributor though, not the ones who make it.” Pass the buck, not my problem.

The email on the bottle didn’t work, guess there are too many complaints!  You are the only phone number on there! Do you want to be associated with a dangerous product?

I was very lucky that I didn’t get seriously hurt. I took it back to store and got a refund. The manager took the remaining bottles off the shelf and will hopefully complain to his higher up.

Consumer accountability means SAY SOMETHING! Be the change- report things when there is a problem. Just like when anything bad happens, it is important to report it right away so it doesn’t happen again!

Same goes with rape- if it happens to you tell the world who did it to you to prevent it from happening again. He blinded you with violence. You will save someone from the torture and degradation you felt in this aggressor’s evil grasp!

Often times I see brave #metoo posts that are from a long time ago. While it is important to do it now and air the dirty laundry, doing so at the time may have stopped them from hurting even one more person.

If you are a survivor and you didn’t speak up at the time, remember that it’s still the agressor’s fault, not yours, so instead of beating yourself up over it, speak out now.

I know it is not easy to stand up. No one wants to think about something they would rather forget and risk not being believed. But, it is essential to stop the pain. You are not alone. There is a web or survivors who have your back!

I was just faced with a situation where i knew someone had raped one of my friends (like 100% proof) and he was selling shit at one of my shows. NO MORE! He is done in this town! He will never sell his crap at a show in my city and never rape another innocent person in his disgusting van ever again. Buffalo on blast. The world will know who you are, jerk off!

Don’t tell me she wanted it! Don’t say you were drinking too so it was ok, she was black out! That is never ok, how many others has he violated? How can he think that it’s ok to hurt people? He felt my hot breath on his ugly face when I told him off. It is important to SPEAK UP and tell people when you know something or someone is wrong.

I know that I have a gang of strong women ready to take him, and others like him, on and get them out. Law enforcement doesn’t work most of the time so we need to take matters into our own hands and alert our sisters. I wanted to drag him into the street and rip that shitty little beard off his face for what he did to her, but violence is never the answer. Peace, love, and spreading KNOWLEDGE.

Hold people accountable. DO NOT ENABLE! SILENCE IS ENABLING. Stop the cycle by standing up!

If nobody knows how can we stop it from happening again? You were not the first. It has probably happened before. Participate in online communities where women tell other women about abusers, then share stories about the same man or violater!

We need to help each other know who the douchebags are! It is important to make it known! They are your neighbors and friends! Some of them seem innocent but they are NOT! Serial killers have charm, you trust them until they murder you!

You can personally change the world by just speaking out against oppression. How many people must get hurt before it changes? Whether it’s a nice seeming friendly neighborhood rapist or a bottle of hot sauce prone to explosions we need to tell the world to watch out. Food recalls, car recalls, toys that kill kids, lead paint, mad cow, and other dangerous things that have been taken out of circulation due to people standing up.

Toyota just did a huge recall on cars because airbags weren’t going off. They found that out the hard way and someone got hurt, but we will never know that person’s name or how many were affected by the malfunction,

There have been many successful class action lawsuits but just as many settled out of court that we will never hear about. Silence is paid for. We know that this also happens with celebrity rape cases, but I urge all people to take the side of truth and justice over money.

Always chose people over profits and the well being of others over being scared quiet. There are white men in suits right now deciding if the money lost is more important than safety of consumers. It takes many complaints before a recall is made. It should only take one!

Big business makes bullshit that hurts the environment just like toxic masculinity makes men who can’t respect women. By speaking out and doing something we can shut down rapists, abusers, AND bad business practices.

You would not buy something off Amazon with only bad reviews just in the same way you would not go on a date with someone who was put on social media blast for sexual misconduct. It’s incredible what kind of change people are capable of by just standing up.

When it comes to issues of racism and police brutality, Canadians suffer from a bad case of denial. We think these are the problems of people in the United States despite evidence of cops brutalizing Indigenous Canadians and spraying peaceful protesters in the face with pepper spray. It is particularly clear when attacks by authorities come completely unprovoked and the perpetrators scramble to protect their own while the victim is left permanently damaged.

No case demonstrates this so clearly as that of Majiza Philip.

“I was charging them with excessive force and misconduct,” Majiza said of her latest court battle with the Montreal Police (SPVM), a case she is now demanding be reopened. This followed a judge throwing out charges of assault, resisting arrest, and obstruction of justice levied against Majiza by the police in 2014.

Majiza Philip was not looking for trouble. She had been warned by family members in the past to comply with the police who have a habit of thinking the worst of people of colour.

What happened to her was not only a display of police brutality, but of gross injustice. It demonstrates the need for an Ethics Commissioner truly independent from our province’s police forces and the abolition of laws that protect the authorities when they deliberately hurt those they have sworn to protect.

This article will tell Majiza’s story and point out all the mistakes made by those who abused their authority to hurt her. This is her version of events. Since the burden of proof in criminal cases is so high and her account was the one deemed credible by the courts, there is no reason to doubt her story.

One night in November 2014 Majiza and her friend were at a rap concert. Security was high that night due to the rapper’s reputation for drugs and violence.

After the concert her friend was forced to wait outside while she got their coats. He was soon arrested and put in a police car.

Majiza went to check on him and was informed by authorities that he’d been arrested for loitering and public drunkenness. She asked which station they would bring him to and then lightly tapped on the window of the back seat of the police car to get her friend’s attention and see if he was ok.

Suddenly, she felt a push from behind. It was a large white male officer who accused her of assaulting another officer. Majiza backed away in fear and self-defense, rightfully stating that the officer had no right to touch her.

She pleaded with onlookers for help as undeterred, the officer slammed her down on the hood of a police car. With the help of other cops, he began wrenching her arms behind her back. At one point she felt pressure followed by her left arm going limp.

Majiza was shoved into a police car and was only spared the pain of her broken arm in the short time that followed due to the adrenaline from trying to protect herself. She pleaded with the police for help as the pain kicked in and her hands numbed, but they were dismissive.

“They laughed at me a couple of times,” she recalled, noting that they were more interested in discussing their dinner plans.

“It’s REALLY hurting,” she remembers telling the officers, “and they were like ‘Oh, whatever.’ I kept telling them there was pain.”

At this point Majiza didn’t know her arm was broken. All she wanted was the cuffs off so when it finally occurred to the police to ask if she wanted medical attention, she refused.

Prosecutors would later try and use this refusal against her at trial when any medical professional would testify that you have at least fifteen minutes before the pain and extent of your injuries finally kicks in.

It eventually occurred to the police to call an ambulance where EMTs confirmed Majiza’s arm was broken. Before she was lifted into the ambulance, the police attempted to have her sign a notice to appear at her hearing but high on pain and concerned that the document was actually a waiver exonerating those who arrested her, she refused to sign it.

“I’m not signing anything,” she told the police at the time, “I don’t know why I’m here. You never told me I was under arrest.”

She told them to send it to her by mail, and though she was legally entitled to it, she never received anything.

After a disastrous attempt to get care at Saint Luc Hospital – they denied her care because her pain interfered with her ability to speak to medical professionals in French – she was given a sling and a painkiller and sent home. She went to Saint Mary’s hospital in the morning where doctors immediately put her in a cast and booked her for surgery in the following weeks.

She now has a massive scar and pins holding her arm together, the pain returning when the weather is damp. It took over three months before she could go back to work.

Majiza has no criminal record.

In addition to managing a small café in Montreal, she teaches tap-dancing to children and works in her community. The latter jobs require police checks, which she clears every time.

The night she was arrested the only reason the cops had to believe she was a danger was the colour of her skin and the fact that she was at a rap concert. Though the arresting officers made no racial slurs, Majiza points out that though her friend was also arrested that night, he – a white male – was treated far less roughly by police and with a great deal more courtesy than she was. She believes the police have a racism problem as many of them come from places in rural Quebec where attitudes towards ethnic diversity are less than enlightened.

“I just spoke up for him,” Majiza said referring to her friend, “I didn’t assault anybody, didn’t do anything and I got my arm broken and I got hit with a bunch of charges. I can’t say it was racially motivated but I do feel like they treated me differently because I was black.”

When she was able, Majiza Philip contacted the Center for Research- Action on Race Relations (CRARR), a non-profit that works towards diversity and racial equality in Montreal. They helped her file a report with the police Ethics Commissioner who allegedly took her complaint seriously and filed a year-long investigation. Unfortunately, as per the current Loi sur la Police, officers are not legally obligated to cooperate with investigations of complaints against them.

According to Majiza Philip and CRARR, this needs to change as it affords citizens no real justice against police who abuse their power, protecting the cops over the people they hurt.

At her trial she was represented pro-bono by criminal justice lawyer Arij Riahi, facing charges of assault, obstruction of justice, and resisting arrest. Prosecutors tried to argue that Philip had weak bones, making them more susceptible to breaking. Whether this is true or not is irrelevant, as Canadian law has long since recognized the “Thin Skull Rule” making a defendant liable for a victim’s injuries even if they’re especially severe due to a pre-existing yet stable condition.

The trial concluded last month with the judge throwing out all charges against her, finding Majiza’s testimony far more credible than that of the officers who mostly spent the trial scrambling to protect themselves with the one responsible for her broken arm conveniently suffering from concussion-induced amnesia. The police never even mentioned at trial that they broke her arm – a fact the judge found outrageous.

Majiza is now demanding that the new Ethics Commissioner reopen her case. With the Ethics Commissioner who handled her complaint now suspended, perhaps she now has a chance of getting justice.

Though the Commissioner has never reopened cases, Majiza can demand it in the face of new evidence. She knows that incidents like hers are more likely to be avoided with the introduction of body cameras on officers, as well mandatory ethnic diversity quotas on the police force. In addition, she calls on the government to change the law and make a police Ethics Commissioner who is truly independent of the people they are charged to investigate.

The Quebec government has two choices here.

They can confirm the stereotypes that Quebec is racist and hostile to ethnic and religious diversity, or they can give victims like Majiza Philip the justice they deserve.

* Featured image by Kym Dominique Ferguson courtesy of Majiza Philip

Protest self serving so called feminists and end cultural appropriation NOW!

“My feminism will be intersectional or it is bullshit.” One of my favorite quotes from feminist blogger Flavia Dzodan in Tiger Beatdown. Her words were on many signs as well as the stolen beautiful feminist words from other people of color. The people carrying them do not even know her fucking name. Come on girls, we are better than this!

This brought me back to last year when I asked a girl about her sign at the Women’s March on DC. I was carrying the same sign, she got the idea from Pinterest. “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept!” She had no idea that her sign was actually a quote from Angela Davis, who was a feminist leader in the black panther movement, and that she was speaking THAT DAY at the historic march.

This one line from Flavia’s essay has been taken like many other appropriated work and put on t-shits and all kinds of marketing materials. She has not profited from them one bit. This is why we must listen to her!

People of color, especially women and transgender people have their work and words stolen all the time. That’s why they have been erased from history. That shit needs to stop! Fuck racism and capitalism. I am so over people stealing and appropriating everything. Just be original! Its easier to lift up others and celebrate their accomplishments than to demean them by ripping them off.

Let’s keep each other in check! Call girls out who are misguided. I wanted to grab a mic or a megaphone and turn this whole thing into a protest against shitty whitewashed feminism. We need to celebrate diversity and stop thinking about only the things that affect people of our skin tone and socioeconomic status.

I am a white woman and white feminism has historically pissed me off. Even from the time of the early suffragettes there has been a major disconnect. They sold black women down the river instead of fighting for equal rights for all humans. We need to fight for all humans, the rights of animals, and the earth!

If you don’t care about all of it you don’t care about any of it. Being an activist that doesn’t stand up for people who don’t look exactly like them is wrong and not activism, it is self serving. You can’t only fight for things that directly affect your life. There are so many more people who need your efforts! We need to hold each other up or we will crumble together in the rubble of this shithole time in history.

I march with my sisters not just my cisters, I march because I have feet and a voice, it felt like less this year. Sure, I was in Buffalo NY and not Washinton DC, but the entire vibe was less electric.

Trump has been in office for an entire calendar year and only bad has come of it. Same pink pussy hats, same fight. Again I noticed a large amount of white women carrying signs and taking selfies.

What exactly are we doing? I love bringing strong people out into the streets in masses. They need to have a message and know that the cops are not their friends. I see the police standing around the perimeters with their hands on their guns/dicks. Like this is a threat?

Grandmas and kids in pink knitted hats. I think it is important to have events like this that are accessible and low risk for all people, including children, the elderly, and differently abled folks.

One of my friends hurt her leg and she still made it! She was pushed in a wheelchair by comrades while carrying a red and black flag. It was a sight of pure loveliness. I am always the one who will drive all over town to pick up my friends for marches and protests.

Some things were incredible, but others were the same. I was again disappointed but not surprised by the mans-plaining and amount of cis gendered men that took the microphone in general. Just give us the women and trans humans!

Let us hear the voice of those fighting with us! Let our peers speak! It is the mother fucking women’s march and there is a man telling us to speak into the microphone. Shut up and let our voices be heard!

The day was sunny, cold, but nice. Thousands of women and those in solidarity took back the streets on a Sunday.

This year I did not even bring a sign. I marched for the first time with a partner, I held her hand as we navigated the crowd. It felt powerful to be holding my head high with someone I care about.

I saw a sign that said “If Hilary won we would be at brunch right now!” That made me sad, we need to march no matter who wins.

Hilary would have obviously been better than T-bag cheeto douche but she was not the answer. I don’t know who is the answer.

Maybe it’s Oprah, but probably not. It is some little kid who knows no evil. The hope of the world lies in our children.

The most magical moment of the day was when I saw a very little girl go up to her mom and say “I want to take this sign to show and tell.” It’s beautiful to think that activism has been activated in this child already. Hopefully she will look around at all the strong women and feel empowered to rise up. Good parenting right there.

I asked my mom to come and she said no, she wanted to watch football. I was disappointed. I would love to march with my mother by my side. I am so proud to be her daughter and wish she would feel the need to speak up.

I was upset when she felt like it didn’t matter. She burned her bra in the 70’s and now she won’t even take a walk on a Sunday.

Activists need to remain in practice always. We can’t give up the fight! We must stay active and be present forever.

It feels so good to be with a ton of powerful people, make plans, corroborate, say it out loud that we need to do this more often. Sure, you can wear the pink pussy hat again, but remember it’s not armor. We need to band together every damn day! It can’t be once a year.

Of course I think there are more direct ways to enact positive change then march. Peaceful protests in the way of work strikes, freeing animals from cages, being vegan, feeding people with food that would have been waste, shutting down streets with comrades, using eco glitter to glitter bomb terrible politicians, and participating in sit ins are all way more active ways to speak your mind and get shit done.

We all need to write blogs, write to the editor of your paper, make a zine, do anything to say how you feel and use your voice and talents for good! Please be original and real. You can and will change the world!

Think about others, spread kindness, be pissed off and lift up those that the rest of the world steps on. Be like the little girl who took her sign to show and tell, but this time you should show up and YELL!

Now that society is acknowledging the widespread problem of sexual harassment, assault, and abuse thanks to the #MeToo movement, it is more important than ever to discuss what healthy expressions of sexuality are. They are not the expressions of willful ignorance and internalized misogyny of morons like actress Catharine Deneuve, who cannot tell the difference between consensual and non-consensual sexual conduct. They ARE what you will see, explore, and learn about at Montreal’s annual Salon de l’Amour et de la Séduction.

Held every year at Place Bonaventure, the event hosts vendors of sex toys and lingerie while a stage at the back shows you the world’s best in erotic performance art and burlesque. A Fetish corner has members of Montreal’s alternative sexual community who will talk about BDSM and why it’s a far cry from the abusive behavior you see in Fifty Shades of Grey.

A lecture section hosts renowned experts like Dr. Laurie Betito and Dr. Jess who discuss everything from sex after 50 to the anatomy of the G spot and clitoris. Non-profit groups like the Sexual Health Network of Quebec will answer questions, hand out condoms, and tell you why teaching kids about consent and STI prevention and contraception is so important.

Porn stars and cosplayers are there for meets and greets and the floor is peppered with the occasional vendor of non-sexual wares. Innovators in sexual technology are there to sell and tell you why their products are different from what’s already on the market.

One such vendor is Chip, representing Boy Butter, an innovation in lubrication technology. His product is one of the few lubricants originally designed for men, though he told me many women enjoy it as well.

He explained that most sexual lubricants take for granted that women produce their own naturally – though anyone truly familiar with female anatomy knows that this is not always the case. As Chip demonstrated, his product is designed to stay slick without getting sticky and while the original Boy Butter isn’t condom safe, his other product, You’ll Never Believe It’s Not Boy Butter, is.

Dr. Laurie Betito is an author and the host of a radio show on CJAD 800. In addition to giving a lecture on sex after 50, she was there to answer questions about sex and sexuality. She provided this reporter with valuable insight on sex with disabilities and explained that after the age of 50, sexual problems are largely emotional in women, and primarily physical in men.

Dr. Laurie is also a member of the Sexual Health Network of Quebec, an organization devoted to teaching sex ed in public schools throughout Quebec. The Network had their own booth at the Salon, represented by volunteers led by Stephanie Mitelman, a certified sexuality educator.

Their work focuses primarily on the prevention of unwanted pregnancies and STIs, though they also cover consent and what constitutes healthy relationships. They are ready and willing to provide lessons even in schools with existing sex-ed curricula and whether or not schools welcome their help depends on how important said schools consider sex ed. They are currently in the midst of a huge fundraising drive so if you believe in the importance of teaching kids about healthy sexual behavior, the Sexual Health Network of Quebec is a group worth supporting.

If you go to the Salon to shop, do so carefully. Though most sex toys are on sale, the larger booths tend to overcharge for even basic model vibrators and dildos. A clever shopper can however find a deal at smaller booths that will sell you vibrating bullets and massage candle for as little as ten dollars. One vendor on the outskirts of the salon sells beautiful quality corsets in a variety of sizes for thirty-five dollars each.

If you want to see a show, you are definitely in the right place. Performances from burlesque artists Scarlett James and instructors from Montreal’s Arabesque Burlesque Academy are a dazzling display proving that you don’t need to be anorexically thin with balloon boobs to be sexy. It was however, one male performer at the Salon who for me stole the show.

Brent Ray Fraser is an erotic performance artist like no other. Classically trained in fine art, he got into stripping as a way to overcome his shyness and boy did he ever succeed.

Though he is a stunning specimen of man and a very talented painter, it is the way he paints that is particularly fascinating. An artist myself I am always interested in learning about new styles and mediums, but Fraser takes this to a whole new level by painting with his penis.

He is the only painter I’ve ever seen to seamlessly combine painting with stripping. Not only does he move effortlessly but the finished painting at the end of his performance is just as beautiful and expressive, though part of me wonders how he successfully washes the acrylic paint off his member without hurting himself scrubbing. If you get a chance to see his act, DO, you’ll be dazzled for days to come.

For those of you interested in exploring an alternative sexual lifestyle, the Salon de l’Amour is best place to do it. The fetish corner has dominants and submissives from Montreal’s fetish scene who will happily teach you about healthy BDSM and even demonstrate some tools used in play.

One representative of the community explained that the Fifty Shades of Grey books brought people to them, some of whom stayed, while others found that it wasn’t for them. The clubs welcome almost every fetish except scat and blood play which can pose hygiene risks.

If you’re interested in becoming a swinger, you can explore that too, but be wary of some of these groups. One organization I would not recommend is SDC.com, a dating site for swinger couples that is attempting to break into the Canadian market. Unfortunately, their attitude is not very Canadian and against the spirit of the Salon itself.

Though the Salon is wheelchair accessible and has a designated rest area for disabled attendees, the representative of SDC I spoke to was rude and elitist. The regional director I met said they refuse the disabled and insisted they have strict (aka snooty) criteria.

Whether this is his own prejudice or indicative of his company’s broader culture of bigotry is unclear. If it is the latter, it has no place at the Salon, which clearly prides itself on inclusion. I recommend that those interested in swinging look elsewhere.

If you’re a prude, a body shamer, or an LGBTQIphobe, stay away from the Salon. You are not welcome. If you’re over 18 and respectful, then check it out. You’re guaranteed great bargains and breathtaking performances.

* Photos by Kerry Ann Cannon

Communication is the key to success, they why is it so hard sometimes? It’s a rusty skeleton key. Say what you are feeling and you will feel better. Tell them what you want or you are never going to get it. Ask, and you shall receive. Listen to your heart, but more importantly listen closely to what others are saying, you are not the center of the universe.

Kindness is sharing time and being compassionate, spreading more than just your legs, scattering radical love and positivity. Be open with your emotions, feeling is important, even the deepest hurt is temporary.

There is a love waiting for you, this unrequited veil will pass in the night without much notice. But remember, even the highest high is also temporary. Hold the good times close. Make art about them. Keep them in your heart for those cloudy days of old age.

Be an active listener by being patient and attentive. Look them in the eyes. Stop texting your arguments and actually have them.

Take action. Get in the car. Go to Mardi Gras. Kiss the girl. Kiss her in the rain, kiss her in the tent as it’s about to blow away, kiss her in the car, kiss her on the forehead, kiss every crevice of her, and even kiss her eyes while she sleeps warm next to you.

She fills the hole in your heart that normally would take years of therapy to mend. Never forget the moment you stood there and saw oblivion in each others’ embrace.

Life is fucked up. Death is always knocking. I am not afraid of it, not really. I am more afraid of the debt collectors that won’t stop calling my parents house and the junkies who need $5 for a buzz that will never satisfy them.

I want to live and change the world, I want to be known, I want to be remembered. I want to be more than just a Facebook account. Living in a closet screaming in silence is not the way to exist. Working in a cubicle day in and out in the town you were born is cruel and unusual punishment for a job well done. I want to feel like a new born baby, taking on the day as if it’s the first time I saw light.

Love is a unparalleled high. Drugs can be an escape from our own bitter realities. I am scared to try DMT, aka the death molecule, an intense psychedelic, because that feeling is the best feeling in the world. You earn it after a long life. It is your reward for dying with conviction.

Feeling the death molecule early by way of some drug scientist’s experiment seems sketchy. I don’t want to feel death. I want to feel life!

We are all dying, inching closer to the end with each lovely breath. We have no idea what’s next, even if you believe in more or nothing, it’s all uncertain. All that is completely certain is this moment. Breathe in and out, make sure to smile. I want to live on that rooftop with my lover and overlook our vivid dreams of sunsets and waterfalls.

This moment is fragile, so many variables are keeping it afloat. I really do not know what I want.

It’s baffling to think that I have lived for 31 years in the darkness of my own wants and needs. I guess I never really took much time to consider what I require to succeed.

WHAT THE FUCK DO I WANT? All of my needs are met and material bullshit does not matter. I do know what is important to me: my family, my friends, my cats, the earth, food not bombs, art, and freedom!

My roots dig deep but perhaps one day I will find new soil to plant them in. I will never know if I don’t explore it. I know I can change. Becoming vegan and caring more about community service, solidarity for all causes, recycling, composting, using non aerosols, and giving up glitter and bottled water is just the start. I met a human that makes me better and aim to love her the best I can, with openness and honesty.

I have never been to counseling, but know a lot of humans who swear by it. It would feel incredible to have someone listen and give educated advice.

I bottle things up and run away from all hurt, repress and push away anything that causes my happy heart pain. One foot solid on the ground, anchored, unwavering. Meanwhile the rest of me is a balloon that has lost its string, floating toward oblivion, only to end up in the ocean strangling a fish that hasn’t been born yet. It’s bizarre to be so grounded and so lost at the same time.

I can’t be consumed by the what ifs if I never try. You don’t know how to live unless you go for it. Try all the things, take the leap, scream into the endless cavern of life. The echo is you from a moment ago and you are not alone.

All I have ever wanted was love, but I don’t know how to do it. I don’t really know what makes me happy until it is happening.

For me it was always easy to think about polyamory as a single person. Jealousy and fear are all internalized bullshit. I know that the only way to move past it all is unwavering communication.

The butterflies haven’t been in my belly for years. I think age consumed them. The love I feel now is better, it flutters with truth and understanding, it is a feeling of safety and admiration.

Nobody has ever told me that they appreciate me. I appreciate being appreciated.

Real love is consent and constant. It is wanting to work on things when one is feeling off, it is changing the path to make your lover feel more safe and free in your arms. Love is not a prison or a cage for your heart.

Free Love? I certainly won’t pay for it. I have been alone for so long that it feels strange to work on a relationship. I am feeling this wave of change. Slowly creeping monsoon of repair and washing away regret.

It is easy to look back at the corpse of a relationship and see what went wrong. You can pinpoint the moments where you could have stepped up, you could have taken a stand and stood up for them or given some extra care.

I remember laughing at someone I once loved when they told me a deep truth, they were vulnerable and real and I didn’t know how to handle it. I could have hugged them and let them know it was okay. Instead I left a wall between us.

Each experience has brought me to here and now, it made me ready for what’s to come. I have learned to talk more. Adventure beyond all wonder and belief, a love with passion that will last forever, starts with communication.

Now that wall has come down, brick by brick, falling rubble of yesterday’s tears. I want to relinquish all fear and stop being paranoid of abandonment. I am enough, I am worth it.

Self hate and emotional deprivation is tragic. Self destruction runs deep when you grow up fat, but honestly we probably all feel that way. It doesn’t matter what you look like, there will always be someone you think is prettier, skinner, younger, smarter, and more worth it. That’s a lie, that’s society dividing us. We are better than our misdirection.

I want to open up. I want to cut through my emotional blockage with a machete. Years of filth won’t get clean overnight, I need emotional renovation.

This time it’s worth it. I have learned from past heartache. Finally I am chosen! Let’s stay together and make it work this time.

I need to say what’s on my mind. If I communicate it will be okay. Take the stitches out of my lips and the duck tape off of my ears.

It’s time to open up. It’s time to feel and evolve. I need to talk with my parents, my lover, my friends, my roommates, my co-workers, and the people I meet in everyday life.

You should do it too! Take this chance to clear the cobwebs out of your mouth. Once you speak up it is addicting.