Montréal. Montreal debate. Mar 23, 2013 (Photo: Adam scotti)

Last fall, Justin Trudeau was unequivocal: if he won the elections, he would make sure that it would be the last election to happen under the first-past-the-post system. After exactly one year in office, the Prime Minister is backpedaling.

In an interview with Le Devoir on Thursday, Trudeau was much vaguer on his plans for electoral reform: “We’re going to see what happens at the consultations, the reactions and the results of the reports.”

He pleaded that switching to a more representative system such as Single Transferable Vote or Mixed-Proportional can only be done if the population “is open to it.”

He explained that smaller improvements could be made more easily: “Less support and a small change; that might be acceptable. A bigger change would need more support.”

What constitutes a small or a bigger change? Those questions will be answered through “rigorous and intelligent conversations with Canadians,” according to Trudeau.

A committee mandated by the government is currently conducting consultations through the country about how to make the voting system more representative. A report containing their conclusions and recommendations is awaited on December 1st.

Trudeau is not ready, however, to promise the recommendations will be followed, according to Le Devoir. What sort of proof of popular support does the government need to go forward with a “bigger” electoral reform is not clear either.

“We’re not going to prejudge what is necessary, but when we say a substantial support, it means something,” said Trudeau.

Lack of popular support?

The minister of democratic institutions, Maryam Monsef, has frequently brought up the importance of having the support of the population before going forward with the reform in the last few months. It didn’t seem particularly significant, considering the undisputed popularity of the idea.

After all, the Liberals were counting on on it during their campaign in 2015.  After one year in office, though, they seem a lot less certain.

“Under Mr Harper, there were so many people who were dissatisfied with the government and its approach that people were saying ‘it takes an electoral reform so we’ll stop getting governments we don’t like’. And under the current system, they now have a government with whom they’re more satisfied, so the motivation to change the system is less glaring,” argued Trudeau.

However, a poll conducted by Abacus Data (commissioned by Broadbent Institute) in December showed that Canadians wanted the Liberals to uphold their promise. 83% of respondents thought the way MPs were elected needed at least some changes, with 44% believing it needed either major changes or complete transformation. Unsurprisingly, Quebeckers and supporters of Greens, NDP or Bloc were the most likely to want drastic changes.

In 2015, the Liberals won a majority government with 39% of the vote, just like the Conservatives did in 2011.

It should be noted that all major parties, except the Conservative Party, are in favour of electoral reform. Needless to say, the questions period on Thursday was not an easy one for the Prime Minister.

“The Prime Minister said that while he liked the idea of getting rid of our unfair first-past-the post-system, now that he has been able to get elected using that very system, it might not be so bad after all!” summarized Thomas Mulcair, the leader of NDP. He claimed that the desire of Canadians for an electoral reform was clear.

Rhéal Fortin, interim leader of Bloc Québécois, later commented that Trudeau was betraying the trust of the voters. Even Conservatives joined in, accusing the Liberals of self-contradiction.

The government will be conducting public consultations about the electoral reform throughout October.

*Featured image by Adam Scotti


Remember January 1st 2000? Or December 21st 2012? Those were supposed to be the End Of Days, the Apocalypse. I am no Nostradamus but I have a prediction, a new arbitrary date for the end of the world. November 8, 2016. Civilization as we know it will crumble, only the rich and slithering will survive.

When Chris Wallace (from Fox News), the moderator of the United States Presidental debate last night, said “I am not a potted plant here!” it resonated with me. I feel that way too! I am screaming for it to stop and nobody listens.

Sometimes all of the propaganda really gets to be overwhelming, I feel like my voice is lost in the chaos. Sitting there in a window, someone forgot to water me, and I am not a cactus. I am a dried up succulent, an ancient aloe vera maybe, spiky and sincere.

My tendrils need attention, they are covered in dust. If nourished my insides can heal, my ideas can save the world, a natural combatant of inflammation, squeeze me out on to your wounds, I will kiss them and make it all better. Houseplants bring oxygen and warmth to a room. We need it as the earth is dying because of humanity’s overall greed and lack of conscience.


If politics doesn’t kill it I believe this world will end with Terminators Vs Zombies. It is a movie that hasn’t been made yet, but is totally plausible. The rise of machines is taking away jobs (more than immigrants as Donster has complained about).

People are also becoming zombies to technology. It is scary when I am sitting on my laptop in front of the desktop and texting on my cellphone at the same instant. Or a table full of children at the dinner table sit mouth open staring onto their glowing devices instead of having conversations with their family. It is all so in your face, fast and present. technology is bizarre and is turning people into literal zombies.

Now we also have the clowns to deal with. Clowns are taking over the US. Creepy clowns yielding weapons are trying to lure kids into the woods. GREAT!

There are so many things to be terrified of this Halloween season. I am terrified that people are supporting Donald Trump. Currently I am watching shit spew from his stupid, racist, misogynist mouth. It makes me sick when his supporters speak out. I go to the Halloween store and see their faces in mask form. Its absolutely bizarre.

Amy Schumer called Hilary Clinton “Hilldog” when she performed at her birthday dinner. I was a big Bernie Sanders supporter at the time, and not as Gloria Stienam would say “for the boys.” I actually thought he had a good heart, he cared about people and the environment, he was not evil. The current candidates are a “lesser of two evils” scenario.

Falling asleep at the wheel of life, swerving the car and trying to blast the music and open the window of cool air to the face. This government should crash and burn. I am afraid because these are the same idiots that elected George W Bush TWICE!

The people who run the government are the ones you don’t see. All of the candidates and winners are mere puppets. The strings are being pulled by an omniscient secret society, perhaps the Illiminati? But I don’t want to seem crazy. Billionares giving money to these politicians expect something in return, much like a guy buying me a drink and expecting more. I don’t accept drinks for that very reason.

Photo of Egbert Bickley by John Hickey from the Buffalo News

In a world where some women are not even attractive enough to grope, let alone vote, Trump constantly belittles women, venomously wanting to take away our rights. I am disgusted when I see his supporters, there is a man in South Buffalo, my neighbor, that has his house painted with signs that say Trump Mafia and has a noose hanging on the front lawn. Strange fruit indeed. WTF?

Trying to deal with my own problems and I am bombarded with so much else. I can’t even clean my room, can’t pick up my phone because it’s all bill collectors. I think about all the loves I have lost or never got the chance to love, I contemplate loneliness and the survival of society. Then there are places where they push gays off buildings and kill women.

“If you don’t like what I did you should have changed the laws,” you should have stopped me from being an asshole Trump says, admitting to wrong doing and saying it was HER fault for not stopping him? WHAT?! Blame women. She is rehearsed and he is crude. I want a Native American President. Imagine going back to nature. If I can’t have that, I really want anarchy!

I work at a hostel and was watching the debate with people from around the world. I wanted to hear their perspectives at the idiocracy in front of us.

bubbles and catsSometimes you just need to come home to your house full of cats and beautiful creative roommates and smoke a bowl and drink a tall boy. Purry furry love nuggets – unconditionally waiting, ready to cuddle.

I have always done better with animals than people even. It goes animals, then kids, then old people, then adults, then my peers (I will never see myself as an adult).

wandering plantMy cats are my world. We watched Hedwig and the Angry Inch. A story of the triumph of love and search for self worth in an imperfect world. Punk rock opera perfection, escape from the vicious reality.

Like all humans I have hopes and dreams, I hope the world doesn’t really end on November 8th and I dream of a future filled with constant change.

I yearn to travel, I want to go to Poland and see the blue light up fairy bike path. I want to backpack through Germany. I want to paint in Paris. I want to smoke in Amsterdamn. I want to lounge in Jamaica. I want to paint with Elephants in Thailand. I want to kiss the Blarney Stone. First I need a passport.

If you want to be a painter, paint, if you want to be a musician, make music. If you want to be a politician, be an asshole, be a puppet, be a phoney.

I vote for the houseplants, for the trees and the animals. I vote for the children, for the future. I vote for the good clowns. Since the Apocolypse is Meow there is no time but the present.


The United States is, was, and most likely will continue to be a two-party system. Changing that would be, to put it mildly, an uphill battle and one unlikely to be won with the Electoral College still in place.

All hope of breaking away from the corporate duopoly that now exists and achieving real progress is not lost, though. In fact, it may be a strong possibility in four or eight years. There is a historical precedent.

Zachary Taylor and the Whigs


Ever hear of Zachary Taylor? He was the 12th President of the United States. He was elected under the banner of the Whig Party and served a little over a year in office beginning in 1849 until his death in 1850, when his Vice President Millard Fillmore assumed office for the rest of his term.

Never heard of the Whig Party? Not surprising. They were one of the two major US parties, along with the Democrats, that benefited from the two-party system. However, they never elected another President after the end of the Taylor/Fillmore term.

Why? Because Taylor was not a typical Whig candidate. In fact, he crossed with the party he became the standard bearer of on many issues, most notably on slavery. You could say he destroyed the Whig Party despite being successful electorally.

The Democratic Party took over for the next two Presidents until a third party challenger took power. His name was Abraham Lincoln and the third party he represented was an upstart organization called the Republican Party.

The two-party system continued, only one of those parties had now changed.

It’s Happening…Again!

Back in June, Politico wrote a thorough analysis of how Taylor destroyed the Whigs. They also drew a historical parallel between that clash and the current animosity between Donald Trump and the establishment of that once upstart third party, now establishment brand known as the GOP.

A few months ago, a split was just a possibility, but now it looks like it’s happening. Establishment Republicans, including former supporters, have been desertin’ Trump in droves following the Access Hollywood leak. Guess attacking married white women was just a bridge too far for the GOP establishment.

Meanwhile, Trump supporters and the candidate himself have been attacking some of their fellow Republicans almost as much as they have been attacking Hillary Clinton. One Trump supporter even told The Young Turks that GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan is in cahoots with Clinton and was the one who leaked the Trump Tape. Lack of logic notwithstanding, you know that guy votes.

This Election Day, we could potentially see some Republicans going to the polls, choosing GOP House and Senate candidates but leaving President blank, writing someone in or even checking Clinton. At the same time, hardcore Trump supporters could vote to put their guy into the White House but leave the rest of the ballot blank to punish the GOP brass for deserting The Donald.

November 8th could spell electoral disaster for the Republican Party and the wound may be too deep to heal. It’s possible that what would be considered a third party challenge today could be one of the two dominant parties in a two-party system four, eight or twelve years from now, depending on how quickly the GOP collapses electorally and internally.

The Best Outcome for the Two-Party System

If it does go down like this, the most likely thing to happen is the remnants of the Republican establishment will join up with the Democrats. I mean if a Bush can vote for a Clinton, anything is possible. Maybe they’d even resurrect the very old name Democrat – Republican Party, like back in the day.


They’d be the corporate party, the establishment party, the Wall Street party. They’d have to reach a compromise on hot button social issues, but since the far right base that the GOP had nurtured would have been lost to Trump, I suspect they would end up going left of centre on issues like abortion, marriage equality and trans rights but, as a compromise, swing right on guns.

When it comes to climate change (including pipelines), racism and police violence, campaign finance reform and war, I suspect they would do what the Dems almost always do: talk a good progressive game but in practice, it’s business as usual.

So that’s one of the two parties. The real question would be who would fill the void left by the demise of the GOP. If it turns out to be the Libertarian Party or some new Alt-Right monstrosity, then America is screwed. No more, though, than the country is already. Having to side with the corporate establishment to get some sort of social progress is pretty much the status quo.

However, this would also be a golden opportunity for a truly progressive third party, maybe the Green Party or a new entity formed by BernieCrats, to take over the slot as one of the two main parties. The way around all the impediments to revolution and/or progress within a two-party system may exist within that system. You just need to completely replace one of the two major parties.



On October 13th, 2016, Lou Dobbs, anchor of the Fox Business Network’s show Lou Dobbs Tonight, posted a link to the home phone number and address of Jessica Leeds on Twitter. Leeds is one of many women openly accusing Donald Trump of sexual assault shortly after a video surfaced of him bragging about his habit of pawing women without their consent.

The post was eventually deleted, though whether that was done by Twitter, Fox, or Dobbs himself is unclear, and it was already too late. The post was shared at least eight hundred times before it disappeared from Dobbs’ Twitter feed. When he was called out on what he did, his apology was nothing short of pathetic, Tweeting simply:

“My Retweet, My Mistake, My Apology to Jessica Leeds,” the subtext being that the only thing he is sorry for is that people called him on it.

This article is not about Lou Dobbs.

It is not about the fact that his tactics prove him to be nothing but a poor journalist. If Dobbs is resorting to posting Jessica Leeds’ home address and phone number in order to incite Trump followers (who are known for their violent behavior) to attack and threaten her into silence, it is because he is incapable of refuting her claims with researched facts. It is not about the fact that he has helped turn Trump’s campaign into the ugliest in history.

This is not about him. He, like the Republicans’ offensive excuse for a presidential candidate, has had enough attention.

doxing-flandersThis is about doxing.

Doxing is the publishing of the personal information of an individual on the internet, usually without their consent, in order to cause the victim distress, fear, embarrassment, and shame.

According to Danielle Citron, law professor at the University of Maryland and author of Hate Crimes in Cyberspace, the victims of doxing are primarily young women who are stalked online with threats of rape and sexual humiliation with the intent of silencing them and forcing them offline. It is a tactic commonly employed by Men’s Rights’ Activists (MRAs) who do it to anyone criticizing their fight to have raping women legalized worldwide.

One MRA who visited Montreal and was publicly shamed for tarnishing our city with his presence has encouraged the practice among his followers in an attempt to scare off his critics. When he himself was doxed, he suddenly became against it, at least for himself.

Though Canada has no specific law criminalizing doxing, our existing laws fill this void just fine when you think about what the act entails.

People post home addresses, phone numbers, credit card information, and private email addresses with the intent that someone other than them will see it and steal, harass, and threaten death, rape, or worse.

Fortunately, in Canada we have section twenty two of the Criminal Code which says that anyone who counsels someone to commit an offense is considered party to said offense. That means that if you encourage someone to commit a crime, you are considered as guilty of the crime as the person who actually did it even if they did it in a way other than the one you recommended. That also means that you are subject to the exact same penalties.

Let’s say you post a woman’s home address on social media and say that she should be raped. That night someone sees your post and goes and rapes her. If the rapist convinces the authorities that they got the idea from your social media feed, you might be charged with rape and face the same five or fourteen year prison sentence (depending on the degree of violence involved) as the rapist.

If you post a person’s private email address and phone number and encourage your followers to make death threats, rape threats, or threats of bodily harm, and they do it, you’ll be looking at the same eighteen months to five years as the people making the threats.

In order to get the same penalty, the prosecution would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you actively and willfully sought to encourage people to commit the crime and that you knew or ought to have known that a crime was likely to be committed as a result of your encouragement.

The laws to punish doxers are already in place. The only thing protecting doxers is police indifference. Reddit Moderator Blake Hebb, for example, had a lot of trouble convincing the authorities to investigate when he was doxed and harassed in 2015.

But hope is not lost.

In the June 2015 ruling of the Provincial Court of British Columbia in Regina v. BLA, a seventeen year old received a custodial sentence of sixteen months plus eight months supervision after he doxed, harassed, threatened, and “swatted” (tricking emergency services and police to send responders based on a false report) female gamers who refused his demands to chat with him and show him their butts.

The laws to fight doxing are there and the authorities are slowly beginning to enforce them. It is up to us to make sure they keep listening. That means reporting every incident and making a big stink if the police and RCMP are dismissive.

Contact the press and shout it from the rooftops if you have to. No more letting predators hide behind their computers unpunished while they get others to do their dirty work. If they encouraged and made it easier for someone to hurt you, threaten you, destroy your property, kill your pets, or steal from you, they are just as guilty as the ones who did it and should be punished the full extent of the law.


The New Democratic Party of Quebec will soon be a thing. We spoke to its interim leader, Pierre Ducasse, on the phone.

“An alternative for people who want to have a progressive, social democratic voice, but at the same time a party that wants to work within Canada.” That’s what the NDPQ aspires to be in the next provincial elections.

Pierre Ducasse, three time candidate for the federal NDP and once Jack Layton’s “Quebec lieutenant”, officially kicked off the NDPQ public campaign this Wednesday.

“We have to get out of this political void and gloom. Maybe it’s time to give a home – a real one this time- to political orphans,” he wrote in an open letter on Facebook.

The idea has been in the air for some time. In fact, the New Democratic Party first got registered at the DGE in 2012, even if it was just to protect the name. “A few years earlier, a conservative tried to register the name New Democratic Party of Quebec, so we didn’t want that to happen,” explains Ducasse. With only about 300 members to date, the NDPQ is ready to start recruiting. The interim leader is confident that it will be a fully functioning party before the 2018 elections.

“Organizationally, it might be tough, but we can’t give a free pass to this government anymore,” he admits.

Despite the declining enthusiasm of Quebeckers for the federal NDP, he feels that the timing is just right to “shake up the political dynamics” in the province.

What makes the timing right?

For me, the decision to create a Quebec NDP relies exclusively on analysis of the context. That context is that feeling of morosity; the feeling that Quebec is not moving, that there is no project that builds bridges and brings people together. There is the lingering issue of sovereignty where people are still polarized in a way that is not useful.

With Couillard and Charest before him… when we look at it, they are not really liberals, are they? They are more conservatives…. This has to stop because we sense so much arrogance with this government, scandal after scandal. Ethics and fighting corruption: they are not our number one priorities and they should be.

At the same time, I think a lot of Quebeckers are fed up with the constant polarization around the national question. A lot of Quebeckers – it’s been clear from the polls- don’t want another sovereignty referendum. But, sadly, the PQ and others want to bring us in this direction.

Between the unconditional federalist partisans of the Status Quo on one side and the unconditional independentists on the other side, the rest of the population feels held hostage. We need to find a way to move beyond this debate – well not beyond it, but beyond how it’s debated ducasse-fbright now.

Except on the independence issue, your positions seem similar to Quebec Solidaire’s. Are you concerned about splitting the left vote?

I said repeatedly that we can’t steal the votes from other parties for one simple reason: the vote belongs to the citizens; it doesn’t belong to the parties. Some people think that Quebec NDP would divert support from QS mostly, others think that it would be at the liberals’ expense mostly… The only way to know is to do it.

One thing I can say for sure is that I do not consider Québec Solidaire my opponent or my enemy. For me the adversaries are these right-wing policies, whether they’re from the liberals or from any other party: those austerity policies, the lack of focus on education and health and fighting poverty. And right now they are embodied by the Quebec Liberal party – who is ideologically closer to a conservative party.

How many people do you think vote Liberal, not because they necessarily like them, but because they could never vote for a sovereignist party? A lot of people say ‘we hold our nose while voting”. Well, maybe holding our nose is not something we should do while voting,

Your assessment of Quebec’s political landscape is pretty harsh. Referring to the Liberal party, you said “when we ask for nothing, chances are we will get it.” What is the NDPQ going to ask of Ottawa?

It’s too soon to get into specifics, but look at the Liberals… what I’m saying is they have not put forward a vision, like: this is how we see provincial-federal relations, these are the issues we’d like to work cooperatively with other provinces and these are issues where we might have a different approach…

Sadly, the only two files in which we had a sense that the Couillard government really took a firm stand against Ottawa, were in terms of pensions and healthcare. And in both cases, it was, in my mind, the wrong decisions! When the federal wanted to strengthen the pension plan and the Régie des rentes du Québec: that was an example of when we should have worked with other provinces. I certainly support the principles of the Canada Health Act and certainly support that we can’t have more health care privatization, but we shouldn’t wait for somebody else to tell us.

The federal NDP has had a rough time since last elections, especially in Quebec where it lost 75% of its membership. Why would Quebeckers be interested in a provincial version of it?

I was there, building the party in the beginning of the 2000s with Jack [Layton], and I remember a time when we had 1% in Quebec. That didn’t stop us: we believed in the project and we moved forward and a decade later there was the Orange Wave.

I’m well aware that the 2015 elections did not have the results we had hoped. We’ll see what happens federally. The liberals tend to talk on the left, but for a lot of issues, it’s the same policies as Harper.  But the federal Liberals are at least pretending to be progressive, where the Quebec Liberals are not even pretending!

The Quebec NDP would be independent, there is no automatic affiliation between the two but there is certainly an ideological proximity with the Federal NDP. Many members might be involved in both so, the ideas are similar, but it doesn’t mean they will be exactly the same all the time. If it’s a distinct autonomous party, it means that it may not be always exactly the same.


Over the next few months, the NDPQ will be forming riding committees and organizing training sessions about Quebec’s electoral law for its members.


So you like to grab women by the pussy eh? Well isn’t that just lovely. Why don’t you try asking nicely? Only if the beautiful owner of said pussy gives you consent you can caress it, love it, worship it, get down on your knees and pray to it with your tongue, put your whole being into make it purrrr. If you give a pussy ample notice and respect it will not fight you but it will welcome your tenderness.

mypussyTouch it, slowly, then quickly, then rub, tug, lick, motorboat, butterfly kiss and repeat until a gentle gushing stream showers you from between her spread eagle vulnerability. Never ever just GRAB someone, let alone grab them forcefully in their most sensitive zone.

We live in a culture where rape seems to be glorified and not extinguished. Rapists suffer no consequence and sex offenders have a voice. Pussy grabbers are not in the shadows, but on the big screen, running for president, flapping their ignorance to the masses.

My pussy will bite your fingers right off! Vagina dentata is a toothed vagina. There are folkloric legends that talk about a woman’s sweet zone that is full of sharp, finger/appendage eating teeth. Sexual intercourse with said vagina will result in severe injury, or castration for the man involved.

The tale shows up in many cultures and is meant to deter rape culture. Huh, maybe we should teach this in sex ed? Do we need to tell boys that all vaginas have retractable teeth that come out when violated? Will that finally stop rape?

Fear of castration will cause a man to think about his choices. That pussy will gnaw your fat fingers and stupid little one eyed chode right off if you don’t look out sonny. You will never see the teeth if you do not provoke them. I have to go to a dentist and a gynecologist to keep my pussy healthy.

In order to make a woman ready and safe for intercourse the hero must literally pull teeth. She must be nonthreatening, safe for insertion, safe for to receive the man.

Freud says that young men experience an unconscious fear of castration upon seeing female genitalia. Some of the most vicious stories of toothed vaginas come from India, in which the ferocious sexual appetites of lovely young women must be tamed through the violent breaking of the teeth hidden inside of their lady parts.

ovarian-dermoid-cystOne explanation is a rare medical condition affecting the vagina. More than likely a vaginal dermoid cyst, which can be very toothlike and sharp.

The movie Teeth was an incredible tale of a girl with vagina dentata. She bit off an attempted rapists genitals with her vagina and it was a beautiful sentiment.

Women should not have to have killer pussies to ward off criminals. We should not have to wear chastity belts to take away temptation. We do not exist for your pleasure. We do not exist to be disrespected and violated at any time.

Strong women with power over their bodies is not emasculating, it is empowering for all bodies, all humans are in charge of their bodies.

tentaclefingersFor real though. I just want to say one thing, if you are going to stick your fingers inside of someone please, PLEASE, cut yo damn nails! There is nothing more uncomfortable and non-sexy about getting fingered by someone with janky long nails.

I have been severely damaged by people with no common sense and funky sharp nails. Ouch! The memory makes my lips cringe.

If I had vagina dentata my vag would still not want to bite your nails for you, trim them, clean them, file them, ask yourself, are these fingers good enough to worship and pleasure a goddess with?

You notice, proper lesbians never have long nails, always groomed, short, filed, awee yea. It’s always the stupid cocky men who don’t think to trim their fingertips before going for the pink loveliness.

Another thing that really pisses me off is when they just try to stick the whole hand up there right away. Like WHOA BUDDY! Simmer down there, cowboy. Again, nice and easy, one thing at a time.

There is nothing sexy or pleasurable about being dry fisted. Things can tear. What are you thinking? I’m not looking to do some strange reverse birth right now. How would you like it if I shoved my hand up your butt like that?

Lessons learned today: Consent is everything, keep your hands to yourself or your fingers will be bit off, respect all humans, and for the love of goddess CUT YOUR NAILS before recklessly shoving them in.


Corruption is something as intrinsic to the City of Montreal as the Jazz Festival, fine cuisine, and frivolous disputes over the language of commercial signage. The end of this month is an important date in the world of municipal corruption because it is the deadline for construction companies to pay the City of Montreal back for the overcharging revealed in the massive collusion investigation conducted by the Charbonneau Commission.

Collusion is a secret agreement between two or more people with the goal of causing harm to one or more of them or to reach an objective prohibited by law.

The investigation by the Charbonneau Commission led by Justice France Charbonneau and her fellow commissioner, former Auditor General of Quebec Renaud Lachance, was started in 2011 under former premier Jean Charest. Its goal was to investigate corruption between Quebec government bodies, construction and engineering firms, and in many cases the Montreal Mafia, since 1996.

The enquiry revealed construction and engineering firms billing of the City of Montreal for phony expenses, the rigging of bids for public works projects, and the mandatory paying of kickbacks to government officials and mobsters. Among those implicated in the investigation are the engineering firm Roche and the construction firm Les Grands Travaux Soter. Former Laval Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt was also implicated with reports indicating that entrepreneurs working on Laval projects were expected to give him a two point five percent cut of the value of each contract they got.

Gilles Vaillancourt has since stepped down as mayor after over 23 years in office and is now facing charges for conspiracy, fraud, breach of trust, and gangsterism.

The corruption allegations in Quebec and the ensuing Charbonneau Commission resulted in the adoption of the Quebec Anti-Corruption Act in 2011.

The purpose of the act is to prevent and fight corruption in contractual matters with the public sector. The law also has the goal of restoring the public’s faith in the private sector’s construction deals with the government. Among its provisions is the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Commissioner, who is appointed by the Quebec government to fight corruption.

The Anti-Corruption Act is excessive. The Canadian Criminal Code already has provisions against fraud, corruption, and bribery, all of which fall under the jurisdiction of the police and Attorney General who can conduct investigations and prosecute offenders.

What the law does in addition to creating the Anti-Corruption Commissioner is specify what bodies are considered part of the public sector and therefore under the Commissioner’s jurisdiction. This includes any public body or government agency, the Université du Québec and its constituent universities, research institutes and superior schools, and all schools and school boards established by law and/or eligible for government subsidies. ^Though logic dictates that any organization funded by or under the control of the government is part of the public sector.

With agents and organizations already in place to investigate corruption and criminal activity, the Anti-Corruption Commissioner appears to be a purely symbolic office created to show the federal government that Quebec can handle its own corruption problems without the intervention of federally appointed prosecutors and judges.

The reason it is important to discuss this now is because of Law 26, adopted unanimously by the Quebec National Assembly in March of 2015 as the Charbonneau Commission drew to a close.

Law 26, known in long form as an Act to ensure mainly the recovery of amounts obtained as a result of fraud or fraudulent tactics in connection with public contracts sets up a program by which companies implicated in fraud can pay back some of the money they cheated taxpayers of.

The City of Montreal sent out 380 letters last November to the construction and engineering firms who’ve dealt with the City since 1996. The letters demanded that construction companies pay back 20% of the value of the contracts they’ve had with the City for over two decades in cases where the company was involved in collusion.

Companies and individuals have until November first 2016 to announce their intention to participate. SNC Lavalin, Dessau, and Construction Frank Catania and Associates Inc. have all publicly declared their intention to take part.

Though the law says the program is voluntary, companies that refuse to pay up can face stiff penalties, be sued by the City of Montreal, and be barred from bidding on future contracts with the City.

Former Chief Justice of the Superior Court, François Rolland, who is now Director of this Voluntary Reimbursement Program, has expressed his belief that this will be incentive enough for companies to come forward, but some believe the law lacks teeth.

Simon Seida, a Montreal lawyer with Blake, Cassels & Graydon, told the CBC on November third 2015 that a company that has received no indication that the government is looking into its practices with public contracts or that they’re going to get sued will have little inclination to participate and he is right.

No individual or company is going to pay the government money it does not feel it is legally bound to pay.

There are undoubtedly tons of construction companies in Quebec guilty of collusion but investigations, trials, and lawsuits are probably just as expensive for taxpayers as corruption itself. The Quebec government should go after the big companies involved in the bigger crimes and let the little fish go.

It is the big companies that need to be made an example of and held accountable, not the little ones who made mistakes in the hopes of competing with them. In the name of fiscal accountability, a little streamlining and cutting of government offices wouldn’t hurt either.


When Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump hit the stage tonight at Washington University in St-Louis for the Second Presidential Debate, it doesn’t really matter what questions moderators Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz or any of the pre-selected “town hall” audience members ask. The discussion will inevitably pivot to sexual assault.

In particular, Friday’s Washington Post/Access Hollywood leak (yes, Access Hollywood is now part of this campaign) of a 2005 recording in which Trump brags to Billy Bush, off camera, about how his celebrity allows him to kiss, grope and grab the genitals of women without their consent and get away with it. If you haven’t already heard it, you  can on the Washington Post site, but, obviously, it’s quite vulgar.

This is the kind of “hot mic” incident that would (and should) tank the candidacy of someone running for Congress or Sanitation Commissioner in a small town, never mind freaking President of the United States. But this is Donald Trump. A man who has proven, time and time again, that no matter what he says or does, his supporters will still back him.

No wonder it seemed like this leak, no matter how vile, would be something he could simply brush off. Sure, there would be major criticism from the left, from women and from men who respect women, but it would be limited to people who wouldn’t have voted for Trump anyways.

But something interesting has happened. Prominent members of the Republican establishment have come out against Trump, even a few former supporters. Actual supporters, not just GOP luminaries who endorsed him by default. This included his top female supporter in the Senate:

The party even suspended funding for his presidential bid, presumably to divert it to Senate and House candidates that now need all the help they can to win in spite of Trump.

Fischer and others even urged Trump to drop out:

Others mused about the GOP kicking him off the ticket, though the chances of that happening this late in the game are extremely unlikely. A Politico poll released just today shows that the Republican base still want Trump as their standard bearer. It’s also unlikely that Trump will try to ignore questions about the leak during the debate.

Yesterday, after assuring supporters that he would not drop out under any circumstance, Trump hinted at his plan of attack, or rather response, on Twitter. He re-tweeted two tweets by Juanita Broaddrick, the woman who accused Bill Clinton of raping her and Hillary intimidating her to cover it up:

So Trump is planning to respond to “You brag about sexual assault!” with “Your husband’s a rapist and you enable him!” They may even get around to policy at some point.

They probably won’t get around to the other leak that happened the same day. On Friday, Wikileaks released Clinton Campaign emails discussing potential fallout from transcripts of Hillary’s Wall Street speeches getting leaked. These emails included sections from the transcripts themselves that the campaign thought could be problematic.

Ironically, the discussions about what to do if the transcripts got out were themselves what got out. As an op-ed in New York Magazine pointed out quite eloquently (while at the same time posting the transcripts), this leak would have been devastating for the Clinton Campaign had we also not got the proof that Donald Trump is a sexual predator at the same time.

So while on one hand it’s unfortunate that so many issues will get buried at tonight’s debate, on the other, it’s important that what Trump said to Billy Bush won’t be. Following the release of the tape, thousands of women began sharing their assault stories online.

It has also become impossible to argue that rape culture doesn’t exist when someone who brags about assaulting women and talks about them as objects and doesn’t really see anything wrong with that finds himself a few electoral college votes away from becoming POTUS.

It’s important that Trump’s initial dismissal of the tape as “locker room talk” doesn’t fly. The de-normalization of misogynistic talk needs to happen and this is the perfect opportunity to do it.

This Presidential Election won’t fix all of the problems facing the US, and quite likely won’t improve things overall that much. The best it can hope to accomplish at this point is to bring some of the ugliness of society out of the shadows of closed tour buses into the light and it has a chance to do that tonight.

It may just be one topic, but it will still be a debate to watch.


“To all the women who have been impacted by the forces’ failure to protect your experience at work, and on the behalf of every leader […], I stand humbly before you today and solemnly offer our sincere apology.”

Such were the words of the RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson, this Thursday, during a press conference in Ottawa. He was looking at ex-officers Janet Merlo and Linda Davidson, the two main plaintiffs of a class-action lawsuit for gender-based harassment and discrimination. Also present were the Justice Bastarache, as well as Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Employment Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk.

They were together to announce the “historic” settlement of the lawsuit that now involves 500 women, who are current or former employees of the national police force. Four years after the lawsuit was filed, the RCMP apologizes, promises tens of millions in compensation for the victims and commits to improving the situation.

“This is a great day for myself, women in the RCMP and women in Canada… I have total fate that this is the beginning of a new era, hopefully a better era” said Merlo.

The ex-Mountie choked back tears as she talked about the dedication of the women who stepped forward: “they all love the RCMP, they love their jobs. They just want it to be a better place to work; a place for their daughters to work.”

Davidson expressed similar hope, before promising that she will “continue to watch developments and continue to right the wrongs” in the RCMP.

The settlement was accepted by all parties but has yet to be approved by the court. It entails three main aspects: an official apology from the RCMP, a compensation scheme for the victims and measures to improve the situation.

Confidential and independent process

Six different levels of compensation have been set, based on the severity of the offence and on the impact of said offence on the claimant. The highest compensation possible is $220 000.  Based on the 500 victims that are part of the initial law suit, the RCMP has planned a budget of $100 million, taking into account that the number of claimants could reach 1 000. The commissioner called the estimates “a ballpark” and insisted that it wasn’t a cap on the spending.

Justice Bastarache took great care of insuring, in both official languages, that the compensation process will be “absolutely confidential.” The RCMP will transfer the compensation money to an account only Bastarache manages, and thus will be kept in the dark about the details of the claims and the identity of the claimants.  Women who have suffered bullying, harassment and discrimination can come forward without fearing retaliation from colleagues and community.

The confidentiality, necessary as it is, also means that the identity of the perpetrators will be just as secret as the identity of the victims.

This raises obvious concerns about harassers not only going unpunished, but being allowed to continue working with the RCMP.

The commissioner, visibly uncomfortable at the mention of such concerns, assured that victims were welcome to address the RCMP or the police directly if they wanted the guilty party sanctioned. “Be assured that the fist of God will descend upon [the perpetrators],” he promised.

“Cultural transformation”

“We don’t think women should be in the force, and especially not French-speaking ones.”

That’s how Joanne Mayer was greeted by her sergeant when she started working for the RCMP in Gibson, B.C.

In Nanaimo, B.C, when Merlo told her supervisor she was pregnant, he started yelling at her that next time, she “should keep [her] fucking legs closed.”

Dildos left on their desks, constant crude remarks and sexual propositions, superiors groping their breasts, less time off than their male coworkers and even less assistance in dangerous situations are all part of what some female RCMP agents described as part and parcel of their daily life.

After retiring prematurely, Merlo spoke out about the gender-based discrimination, bullying and harassment that she endured during her 20 years of career in the national police force. In 2012, she wrote a book titled No One to Tell: Breaking My Silence on Life in the RCMP and filed a civil claim.

500 then came forward with similar stories. This number is expected to double.

Commissioner Paulson pronounced the words “cultural transformation” as many times as he could fit into one press conference. He admitted that it was more than time to bring the RCMP into the modern days and thanked the plaintiffs multiple times for playing their part in this progress. The way that complaints and sexual harassment are processed in the RCMP is under review.

“You can now take some comfort in the knowledge that you have made a difference” he said to Merlo and Davidson. “The RCMP will never be the same.”

pit bull 1

A lot has happened over the past few days concerning Montreal’s controversial Pit Bull Ban (officially the Animal Control Bylaw). On Monday, when the whole thing was supposed to go into effect, a judge issued a two day suspension.

Then, on Wednesday, Justice Louis Gouin of the Quebec Superior Court agreed with the SPCA’s lawyers and granted an indefinite suspension on the parts of the law dealing with “Pit Bull-Type Dogs” until a proper hearing can be held. The sections that affect other breeds of dog as well as other animals such as cats are still in effect.

Now, today, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre dug in his heels and announced that the City of Montreal will be appealing the decision in a letter posted on his Facebook Page and the official city site. With no sign of Coderre backing down, and the courts waiting to rule, let’s take a look at just what this law entails:


At 6:30 pm on December 9th, 2014, Jeff Weber saw a black man having his after dinner cigarette outside. Weber then walked to a store, bought a hammer, a knife, and a calendar and walked back to where the man was smoking. He then attacked the man, fifty-five year old Nabute Ghebrehiwet, by repeatedly hitting him on the head with a hammer. One blow struck Ghebrehiwet in the eye, leaving him partially blind.

Weber was charged with aggravated assault and possession of a dangerous weapon. His attorney used the defense of Not Criminally Responsible (NCR) – Canada’s insanity plea, because his client has treatment-resistant paranoid schizophrenia and is well-known to authorities. Since 2005, Weber has been charged with over twenty five offenses ranging from assaults, to threats, to attempted abductions.

On September 29th, 2016, Jeff Weber was found Not Criminally Responsible for his crime. This is the fourth time he’s successfully avoided criminal liability via this defense.

The insanity defense is a popular subject in books, film, and television. The plots always follow the same formula: someone gets murdered, they find the killer, and the defense attorney claims his client was crazy and didn’t know what they were doing.

Sometimes the person is convicted and goes to jail only for the attorney to find out that the person was insane all along. Sometimes the insanity plea works and the person goes free, only for someone to secretly find out the accused was sane and faking.

Despite what pop culture would have us believe, in Canada a successful use of the NCR defense does not mean the accused will go free.

The rules regarding an NCR defense are written into the Canadian Criminal Code.

They start with the premise that anyone who commits a crime while suffering from a mental illness that renders them incapable of knowing that what they did was wrong is not considered criminally responsible for their actions.

The second rule is that everyone is presumed sane enough to be held accountable for their crimes.

The third rule is regarding the burden of proof.

In ordinary criminal cases, the burden of proof is on the State, represented by the prosecution, who has to prove the accused’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. To get an acquittal, all the defense has to do is raise a reasonable doubt as to their client’s guilt.

When an insanity plea is raised, the burden of proof shifts onto the defense, which has to prove by a balance of probabilities – a standard lighter than proving something beyond a reasonable doubt – that the accused was not only suffering from a mental illness or disorder, but also that this disorder made the person incapable of telling right from wrong. The accused does not have to be incapable of telling right from wrong all the time for an NCR defense to work; they only have to prove that they were not criminally responsible at the time they committed the crime.

The way to prove that an accused is not criminally responsible is via psychiatric assessment. The defense will usually have the accused assessed by one or more mental health experts.

The court can order its own assessment of the accused at any time during criminal proceedings. The prosecution can also apply to have the accused assessed, but the court can only grant this request if the accused brings up his mental capacity for criminal intent during the trial, or if the State convinces the court that there are reasonable grounds to doubt that the accused was criminally responsible at the time of the offense.

If the court is convinced the accused committed the crime but their mental illness kept them from being aware of their actions or the fact that they were wrong, the court will issue a verdict saying that the defendant committed the crime but is not criminally responsible on account of a mental disorder.

This verdict is not a conviction and it is not an acquittal, but something in between.

All defendants found Not Criminally Responsible have to go through the Review Boards of their respective provinces. The job of the Review Boards is to review the status of all people found Not Criminally Responsible or mentally unfit to stand trial.

At least one of the Board’s five or more members has to be licensed to practice psychiatry, and where the board has only one psychiatrist, there also has to be at least one other member who is a medical doctor or psychologist with training and experience in mental health. In order to determine what should happen to a defendant found not criminally responsible, the Review Board holds a disposition hearing.

The hearing determines what should happen to an NCR person, which can include an absolute discharge – meaning they are completely free to go, a release with conditions such as taking their medication and seeing a psychiatrist, or being held in a hospital. The sentence depends on how much of a danger the person is to the public.

The Review Board system is far from perfect, for it is their failings that put Jeff Weber back on the street to blind an innocent man. It is nonetheless better than countries like the US, where the mentally ill are often killed by police, incarcerated, or shipped off to another state. Unlike many countries, Canadian laws regarding the mentally ill are designed with the intent to balance public safety with getting people the care they need so that they can live fulfilling, independent lives.

* Featured Image: Court sketch of Jeff Weber


After years of pleading, debating and waiting, the Quebec Ministry of Health officially released the funds to open three supervised injection sites (SIS), as well as one mobile unit in Montreal. Two such sites are already in function in Vancouver, but it will be a first for Quebec.

Quebec will release $12 million over three years to three community centres in Montreal: Spectre de rue, CACTUS and Dopamine. One part of the money will help the centres prepare the locations and fulfill all the requirements to be granted an exemption from the law on drugs by the federal government.

The other part will be used for the launching and running of the sites’ operations. One mobile unit will also be providing services in a few boroughs. No official date is set for the opening of the facilities, but Le Devoir mentioned that it could be as soon as March 2017.

The project is far from new. In fact, six years have already passed since the Director of Public Health started pushing for the opening of SIS in Montreal. In June 2015, Mayor Coderre had announced his plan to go forward with the facilities, with or without Ottawa’s approval.

At the time, the provincial government decided to lend a hand. According to Lucie Charlebois, Quebec’s Minister of Health and Healthy Living, “we are now at the final step” of the process.

She told Radio-Canada that the work on installations and the hiring of medical staff was already on track. “That means we’re advancing quickly.” She commented that she discussed the matter with her federal counterpart, Jane Philpott: “she is very receptive towards it, but we have to fit certain criteria, that is clear.” Charlebois stated that she believes that getting the federal approval will be a formality.

Sandhia Vadlamudy, the director of CACTUS, told FTB by phone that this formality requires a lot of paperwork, but no problematic modifications.

Last year, CACTUS distributed 610 000 clean syringes in an effort to prevent transmission of infection, which is around 65% of distributed materials on the island, including those distributed in CLSCs and drugstores. With their supervised injection site finally going forward, they will be able to “add one more tool to prevent infections and overdoses.”

Some have argued that the government would do better to focus on treating drug addiction or even on cracking down on drug crime instead of improving the conditions of drug use. Vadlamudy doesn’t think that promoting abstinence and prohibition is sufficient.

“This approach is more based on pragmatism; which is to say drugs exist and people take them.”

She argued that SIS are beneficial for more than just drug users, highlighting that, within four years of operation,  SIS start saving money for the healthcare system by preventing overdoses and health deterioration in users.

It will also help reduce the number of intoxicated people and of used needles left on the streets “and thus improve the quality of life of everyone in the community.”

Slowly breaking the taboo

According to the Director of Public Health, there are 4000 regular users of injectable drugs in Montreal. People who use injectable drugs are 59 times more like to be infected with HIV. An average of 70 people die of drug overdoses every year in Montreal.

In the eyes of many, SIS remain a marginal, controversial option for desperate cases, when they are not a silly progressive scheme. But their growing popularity around the world and the expanding stack of evidence in their favour are now hard to ignore.

The first North American facility, Insite, opened in Vancouver 13 years ago.  In 2008, federal health minister Tony Clement called it “a failure of public policy, indeed of ethical judgment.” Just last spring, Toronto’s Police Association expressed firm opposition to the idea of opening SIS in their city.

“Insite is not a model we want to see replicated,” association president Mike McCormack said, fearing that SIS would attract crime and loitering and thinks that government money would be better spent on treatment options.

Insite handles 600 injections daily. Not one person has died of an overdose within its walls. According to the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, there was a 35% decrease in overdose deaths in the area of forty blocks around the site. BC’s HIV and Hepatitis C infection rate went from the highest of the country to one of the lowest. More than thirty peer-reviewed papers were published about Insite’s beneficial impact.

Supervised rooms for drug consumption started popping up as a response to AIDS epidemics and the spike in overdoses in the eighties and nineties. There are now about 90 of them around the world.

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction recently published a study in which they found overall that those sites increased safe and hygienic drug use and reduced risky behaviours. They also found that, contrary to Toronto’s Police Association’s concerns, there was no evidence that those sites increased drug related crime and violence in their vicinity.

*Featured image by Todd Huffman, WikiMedia Commons


Courts and judges are professional puzzle solvers. Upon request of private parties or the government, their job is to examine all the pieces of a case comprising of facts, laws, arguments, interpretations, and personal accounts, examine them all carefully, and then put them together to create one cohesive picture. Rarely do all parties in a case like the picture the courts come up with, but all have to either accept it, or try and convince another, more well-regarded puzzle solver – a higher court, to look over the pieces again and try and come up with a better picture.

The case of a bunch of Montreal public transit users versus the Société de Transport de Montréal (STM, Montreal’s public transit service) is a perfect example. Both parties asked a question and presented their arguments, and on September 7, 2016 the Municipal Court of Montreal liked those of the transit users better and used them to create the final picture, thus ruling in their favour.

The STM is now saying they plan to appeal the decision, but their chances of winning on appeal are poor at best.

Here’s what happened.

In 2009, 2010, and 2011, three people, Jean-Philippe Joubert, Nathaniel Bell-Roy, and Monique Khalil, were stopped by STM inspectors – the people who look like and act like cops, except, as one transit user described, when someone is being savagely beaten in the subways. These inspectors demanded to see their transfers, which they had either lost or discarded. Unable to show them the transfer, the inspectors wrote them each tickets for a hundred and fifty dollars, which, with the added sixty-four-dollar fee, came to a total of a two hundred and fourteen dollars.

These people had paid their fares and felt that STM inspectors violated their right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty and the right against being arbitrarily detained as per The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

They challenged their tickets and together took the STM to court.

At the time these people were ticketed, the conduct of STM inspectors was legal. They were enforcing articles six and nine of By-law R-105, which is a law setting out the terms and conditions for the possession and use of public transit fares in Montreal. Article six of the bylaw says anyone using the public transit system has to pay a fare, which is fair. It’s article nine that’s problematic because it says that a person has to carry proof that they paid their fare and that STM inspectors can stop and check if a person has done so. Failure to do so can result in a person being charged the same fine -a fine that can range between a hundred and fifty and three hundred dollars plus fees – as someone who skipped out on paying the transit fares.

On the surface, article nine of R-105 looks legit. People who want to take public transit should pay the corresponding fares, and anyone who doesn’t pay a fare and takes the bus or metro should pay a fine. When you take a closer look the way Judge Randall Richmond of Montreal’s Municipal Court did, article nine is unconstitutional.

Article nine violates the presumption of innocence guaranteed by the constitution because it makes the assumption that anyone who cannot provide proof that they paid transit fares during a random stop by inspectors must not have paid. It violates the presumption of innocence because it states that there is only one way to prove that you paid: by showing inspectors your transfer. If you don’t have a transfer, you must be guilty. As Judge Richmond points out in his judgment, witness accounts by those who saw a person pay the fare and circumstantial evidence are not admissible as per article nine. It’s the transfer or nothing, and if you don’t have it, you pay a fine.

The STM claimed that the random stops by inspectors and the fines are meant to prevent commuter fraud, but they never presented any proof at trial that the practice actually deters it. As Richard Beaulieu, a public transit user who was in the courtroom on the final day of the trial points out, inspectors overwhelmingly target blacks and young people. Older people are rarely stopped and ticketed.

The court agreed that the behaviour of STM inspectors violated the constitutional protection against arbitrary detention. The STM argued that the inspectors weren’t arresting people, but case law has said time and time again that once someone is legally stopped and forced to obey a command that deprives them of their liberty, it constitutes arbitrary detention. Being stopped by someone in uniform who won’t let you leave – they way it happened to Jean-Philippe Joubert and his wife in 2009 – constitutes an arrest.

The goal of the arbitrary stops by inspectors and the fines could not be saved by article one of the Canadian Charter that allows some laws to remain in force regardless provided they are justifiable in a free and democratic society. The court put that article of the bylaw through the same constitutional test all other laws go through when their legality is questioned and found the article lacking. The STM is planning to appeal but they’d be better off – like many of their drivers do when faced with someone who can’t pay – letting this one go.


You may have seen that meme. The one contrasting two Bernie Sanders rallies.

In the first image, taken when he was still running for President, Bernie’s in a stadium surrounded by thousands of people. In the second, he’s promoting Hillary Clinton to about 150 people in what looks like some sort of auditorium:


So, what happened? Did Bernie really drop that far in popularity in such a short time? No, he didn’t. By most accounts, he’s still one of the most popular politicians in the US.

I suspect the sharp attendance drop isn’t due to the speaker but rather the subject matter. It’s not what the thousands who flocked to him in the primaries want to hear him say, or at least not what will motivate them to come out in droves and hear him speak.

Think of a famous musician or band that you and quite a few others adore. They’ve got so many hits, but they also have that one album that really seems out of place. Now imagine they were going on tour and promised just to play songs from that one album very few like.

Sure, some may show up. Diehard fans and those few who actually do like the obscure material. But it won’t be anything like the attendance they would get on a regular tour.

It’s not that people no longer like the artist, they just don’t like the tunes they’ll be playing. It’s not that people no longer like Bernie, it’s just that they really aren’t fans of “We have to all vote Hillary to stop Trump.”

Now some of those Bernie fans staying home may very well vote for Hillary Clinton to prevent a Trump Presidency. They’re just not super excited about doing it.

DNC Logic Fail

It could have been easy for the Democrats this election cycle. They could have picked someone who inspired people by the thousands. Those who flocked to Obama in 08 but felt disappointed overall by the result were ready for Bernie to be the next phase, the one that would actually make the change happen. People who never voted before, or never voted for a major party before, were ready to do so for Bernie.

Problem was that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and establishment Democrats already had their nominee (the leaks proved it). They didn’t want Bernie to run for President under their banner, but they did want the people who flocked to him to vote Democrat in November.


The Dems thought they had the perfect solution: rig the Primaries against him, then convince Sanders to come on board and support Clinton. They had to make some concessions in the platform to do so, but it didn’t matter, once elected, they could do what they wanted to.

They got Bernie on board, so why didn’t their plan work? Surely all these people were just following a charismatic leader and would continue to follow him wherever he led them.

That thinking by the DNC is why America now faces the prospect of a reality TV star turned Twitter troll turned cornball fascist actually becoming President. The Democrats couldn’t see outside of their own bubble of top-down leadership and cult of personality.

If they had looked deeper, just a bit deeper, they would have remembered that Bernie Sanders had been saying the same things in pretty much the same way for decades. None of it had received much response outside of Vermont until 2015. They would have realized that it was only after the Occupy Movement happened and people began searching for a political voice that was aligned with their thinking that Sanders went from being someone people knew (and loved) in Burlington to a political phenom that millions wanted to see in the White House.

The movement that backed Bernie existed before it became Bernie’s political revolution. The people involved chose him as their champion and he agreed. When he stopped speaking for them and started speaking for Hillary, it was the end of that unofficial contract. They had chosen Bernie as their representative, they never chose Hillary, even if Bernie did.

You can co-opt a progressive politician. You can’t co-opt a progressive, bottom-up movement. The only thing you can do is embrace it and let it tell you where to go. The DNC clearly didn’t think of that, and now they’re paying for it.

Bernie’s Movement in Pieces

Now, Bermie’s movement is fragmented politically. Some have followed Bernie and gone to Hillary. Revolution later, stop Trump now, presumably. Others are supporting Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein, which makes most logical sense policy-wise.

A few, though, are outright voting Trump, I’m guessing to give the middle finger to the DNC, also probably all white. Some have chosen Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, which really confounds me. He’s like the anti-Bernie on many issues.

Yet, there are more who plan to simply write in Bernie’s name on the ballot and others who plan to stay home, or go to the bar, on election  day.


So this huge block of voters that would have all voted Democrat? They’re not a block anymore. Also, those volunteers that would have campaigned for Democrats up and down the ticket provided Bernie was at the top? Not gonna happen. Huge opportunity missed.

Instead, the Democrats’ path to retaining the White House relies on their traditional supporters and the fear of a Trump victory. Currently, Clinton and Trump are pretty much tied, with Clinton losing in key battleground states. Sure, it’s only by a little bit and tonight’s debate may turn that around, but the fact that it is even a contest is the real problem, a problem that the DNC could have avoided.

With all of the former Berners added to those who always vote Democrat added to those who fear a real life version of Idiocracy, Trump wouldn’t have stood a chance. The debates would have just been icing on the cake.

People want to vote for something. Now they have to vote against something and that’s never a good situation.

As for Bernie, he’ll draw the crowds once he starts playing the hits again.




Forty-four hours after the police shot and killed another person of colour, Charlotte (North Carolina) is under a state of emergency. One man is on life support and the mayor is raising the possibility of imposing a curfew amidst calls for peace and demands fo22-09-1r answers.

It all started Tuesday with a despairingly familiar scenario: a police officer fatally shot a 43 year old black man named Keith Lamont Scott for questionable reasons. Police claim that the man had a handgun that he was refusing to drop. Eyewitnesses claim that Scott was only holding a book and that he tried to get out of his truck with his hands up.

Tuesday: Shooting and Mass Protests

One thing is undisputed: it ended with Keith Lamont Scott being shot four times at 3:54 PM. The shots were fired by Brentley Vinson, a black officer of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police.

Family and eyewitnesses soon took to social media to spread their version of the events. Three hours later, people were already taking to the streets and demanding justice.

Three hours and 45 minutes after the shooting, police stated that the protest was turning violent, and that one officer was injured while trying to de-escalate a situation.

The Mayor of Charlotte, Jennifer Roberts, issued a first statement urging the community to stay calm. A few minutes later, she issued another one to announce a full investigation into the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, saying that the community deserves answers.

Around 11 PM, police ordered the crowd to disperse and deployed tear gas. Clashes with police continued throughout the night. A group of protesters shut down Interstate 85. Different sources report rocks thrown at police cars, two trucks looted, and two fires started.

However, even the Mayor said that the mass protest, in a park, was peaceful. The rioting and looting that happened near the interstate and downtown was the doing of a small group of agitators.

Wednesday Morning: A Gun or a Book?

On Wednesday morning, CMPD Chief Kerr Putney held a press conference to share the police’s conclusion. Officers approached Scott while they were trying to execute an arrest warrant for someone else. Putney said that Scott exited his vehicule, then got back into it before coming out with a gun in his hand and ignored orders to drop it as he advanced towards police officers.

“The officers gave loud, clear verbal commands that were also heard by many of the witnesses […] to drop the weapon,” claimed Putney. “Despite the verbal commands, Mr. Scott exited the vehicle as the officers continued to yell at him to drop it. He stepped out, posing a threat to the officers, and Officer Brentley Vinson subsequently fired his weapon, striking the subject.”

The CMPD (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department) recovered a gun at the scene and insists there was no book. Later in the day, a photo of the crime scene where a gun can be seen reached the media. The source of the photo is unclear, but the initial tweet of a local reporter says it’s from CMPD.

The family of the victim is convinced that this is not how it happened. They say Keith Lamont Scott was a disabled father of seven children, well-known and liked in his community. They believe he “wouldn’t have it in him to hurt a policeman.” According to them, he was sitting in his truck and reading while he waited for the school bus to drop his kids off.

Witness Tahesha Williams says she saw Scott get out of the truck unarmed with his hands up.

Wednesday Night: State of Emergency

Peaceful protests rapidly degenerated. One man ended up on life support and the city was put under state of emergency.

Around 7 PM, on Wednesday, Scott’s wife addressed the protesters, encouraging them to keep the peace: “Please do not hurt people or members of law enforcement, damage property or take things that don’t belong to you.”

Two dozen people reportedly sat silently for a while in front of a Bank of America building, holding up Black Lives Matter signs. A peaceful crowd of men, women and children gathered in Marshall Park before marching through the city. You can read a detailed account of the night in Charlotte Magazine. However the atmosphere easily tipped into chaos. Tear gas and explosives joined the game before 8 PM.

At 8:30 PM, someone was shot somewhere near North College and East Trade streets. The city soon tweeted that the shooting was “civilian on civilian. CMPD did not fire shot.” The victim is currently on life support.

One eyewitness, Minister Steve Knight of Missiongathering Christian Church in Charlotte, shared his skepticism: “It was an ambush. The victim was shot while he stood between two ministers, and we believe he was shot by police. We would like to see surveillance video from the surrounding area that may have captured the shooting to determine who was responsible for the shooting.”

Later that night, while police used rubber bullets to disperse protesters, the Governor Pat McCrory declared a State of Emergency. He dispatched the National Guard and State Highway Patrol troopers to help local law enforcement.

Gov. McCrory had very harsh words for the protesters since the first night. Incidentally, he also recently passed a law to restrict viewing of police body cam and dash cam recordings. Essentially, he signed off on a bill to take police recordings off public records, effectively allowing law enforcement to keep them from media or citizens.


Thanks to this, the dash cam footage of Scott’s death will probably never be publicly released. Chief Putney said that they would try to accommodate the family’s request to see it, but that he had no intention of releasing it “to the masses.”

“Transparency’s in the eye of the beholder,” he said on Thursday. “If you think we should display a victim’s worst day for public consumption, that is not the transparency I’m speaking of.”

He also warned that the recording did not definitely show Scott holding a gun.

Also on Thursday, Mayor Roberts appeared on ABC news to convey three messages: the city is fine and open for business (do not panic), the majority of protesters was peaceful (we’re on your side) and the possibility of imposing a curfew will be discussed (yes, we can do that because of the State of Emergency).

“A peaceful protest, and many folks do want to express their views peacefully, turned into something else last night,” said Roberts.

The Department of Justice just sent four members of their Community Relations Service to Charlotte. Attorney General Loretta Lynch gave a press conference this morning, assuring that they were “monitoring the matter” and that they were looking into the circumstances of Keith Lamont Scott’s death.

* Featured image: CNN screengrab


On September 15, 2016 Graham James, the former junior hockey coach convicted of sexually assaulting players he coached in the nineties was granted full parole after seven years in prison. His victims included retired NHL stars Theo Fleury and Sheldon Kennedy, whom James repeatedly assaulted by abusing his position as coach. Though James has admitted that he cannot change his attraction to young people, he has promised never to put himself in a position where he can hurt kids again.

The courts are doing their best to make sure he keeps his promise for the terms of his parole include no contact with anyone under the age of eighteen, no contact with the victims or their families, and he’s not allowed to work in any job or profession involving minors.

We all know that Graham James is a pedophile who probably should have remained in some form of incarceration for the rest of his life.

This article isn’t about him.

It’s about the laws protecting Canada’s young from sexual assault.

The laws against sexually assaulting minors are found in the Canadian Criminal Code and come in two forms. The first are laws themselves, the second are as circumstances in which the penalty for the crime increases if the victim is under the age of consent.

As per the Canadian Criminal Code, the age of consent is sixteen years old. Anyone under that age cannot legally consent to sexual activity.

Anyone who for a sexual purpose, touches directly or indirectly or with an object, a part of the body of someone under the age of consent is committing a crime and looking at a minimum sentence of one year in jail and a maximum of fourteen years. The same penalty applies to anyone who invites, counsels, or incites someone under sixteen to touch someone’s body part for sexual purposes. It also applies if a person touches or incites someone under under the age of sixteen to engage in sexual touching when he or she is in a position of authority and the young person is in a dependent position or where the nature of the relationship could be construed as exploitative. The only possibility of a lesser sentence is if the offender gets a summary conviction, which is considered less serious and reduces the sentence to a minimum of ninety days and a maximum of two years.

The Criminal Code also protects minors from bestiality. Bestiality in the presence of someone under sixteen or inciting someone under sixteen to commit bestiality is punishable by a maximum sentence of fourteen years and a minimum one year in jail. Once again, there is the possibility of being tried on summary conviction in which case the person will face a minimum ninety days or a maximum of two years.

For exposing oneself to a minor the penalties are a lot lighter. Exposing oneself consists of flashing your genitals to someone under the age of sixteen and will get the offender up to two years in prison or a minimum ninety days in jail. If the offender is lucky enough to get a summary conviction, he or she is looking at a minimum of thirty days or a maximum of six months.

Sexual Assaults are where the age of victim will increase the sentence for the crime. If the victim is over sixteen, the maximum sentence is only ten years. If the victim is under sixteen, it’s the same fourteen years maximum and minimum one year as for other sexual offenses involving minors. If a weapon or something used as a weapon was part of the assault, the fact that the victim was under sixteen takes the penalty from a maximum of fourteen years to a life sentence.

Defenses for sex crimes against minors are limited.

Unlike adult sex crime cases, an offender cannot claim the victim consented to the activity if the victim is less than sixteen years old. There is an exception to this, however, in the case of accusations of touching or inciting to touch or exposing genitals for sexual purposes.

If the victim is over fourteen years old but under sixteen and the accused is less than five years older and not in a position of authority or any other exploitative relationship with the person, he or she can claim the person consented. Someone who did any of those things at the age of twelve or thirteen cannot even be accused of the crime unless the person was in a position of trust or authority towards the victim.

It is NOT a defense to argue that the accused believed the victim was sixteen or more at the time of the activity unless the accused took “reasonable steps” to find out the age of the victim. The attempt to use this as a defense comes up a lot in Men’s Rights’ Activist discourse when jerks try to get out of a rape charge by claiming that because the victim had fully developed boobs and was wearing makeup, the rapist had every right to think the activity was legal.

The laws and judicial practices when it comes to rape in Canada need an overhaul.

If you have any doubts, look at the language used in the Canadian Criminal Code. In the section on sexual assault, the victim is always referred to as a “complainant”. While in legalese, the word means a plaintiff in legal cases, to laymen the word starts with “complain”. Since language shapes the way we think, using a word like that to describe a victim creates the unconscious belief that rape victims are not victims but complainers.

No matter the age, a rape victim is just that, a VICTIM, and despite what a certain judge in Alberta would have you believe, it’s NEVER, EVER the victim’s fault.

* Featured image: Graham James released from prison