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.

The Plante Administration really isn’t wasting much time implementing their election promises. The pit bull ban is gone, so is the Formula E, and now cars won’t have a mountain shortcut to get from one side of Montreal to the other as part of a pilot project this spring and summer.

The city will close Camillien Houde to cars between Beaver Lake and Smith House (the big lookout) while allowing buses and bikes to pass. This stems from a promise to do something about bike safety on the mountain in the wake of the death of cyclist Clément Ouimet last summer.

Their strategy seems to be get as much done as possible early and let Montrealers grow to like the changes over the next few years. Since this is the first time Projet Montreal, or any left-of-centre political outsiders for that matter, find themselves in power here, it makes sense.

But is this particular plan a good idea? One that we will come to appreciate in four years’ time? Yes, but only if it goes further.

Winding Highway in the Middle of the City

Not everyone is happy with this pilot project, as expected. Even some Plante supporters aren’t for the plan. Some feel this was too hasty and decided without enough consultation while others wonder why they didn’t just make a separate bike path. Most criticism, though, centers around additional traffic on other routes.

Living in Montreal my whole life but not being a driver, I have traveled that stretch by car and taxi many times. It always felt like I was in a racing video game, even with cautious, responsible drivers behind the wheel.

The lack of stops turns it into a highway by default. And at that, it’s a highway that winds and curves its way up and down a mountain. It was a bad idea to begin with, albeit a convenient one.

Yes, this will mean more cars on other roads, but the safety concerns for both cyclists and drivers outweigh the inconvenience. Also, public transit users will still be able to take advantage of this shortcut as buses will still go through.

This is a needed move. My only concern, though, is that it doesn’t go far enough.

The Shortcut is Gone, But the Risk Remains

Blocking off a chunk of Camillien Houde will mean fewer cars, but not no cars. Now, all those who drive up the mountain will be doing so to visit a part of the mountain such as Smith House and then return.

Well, almost all. There will inevitably be those unaware of the change who will make their way up expecting to end up on the other side only to find out they have to turn back.

If this seems like just a minor problem, it won’t be. The only thing worse than drivers barreling down a winding pseudo-highway is frustrated drivers trying to make up lost time barreling down a winding pseudo-highway.

A Proposal

The #11 Bus at Parc and Mount Royal about to travel over the mountain

There is an easy fix, though, and it’s one I hope the Plante administration considers:

  1. Stop all car traffic at Parc and Mount-Royal on the eastern end and Beaver Lake in the west.
  2. Create two lanes, one in each direction, for city buses and emergency vehicles, two separate lanes for cyclists and, if possible, a space for pedestrians.
  3. Add more buses on the route and create stops: one at the Camillien Houde lookout midway up from the east, one at Smith House and one at Beaver Lake for now and maybe more later. All stops should be wheelchair accessible.

If people want to visit the mountain and are unable to do so on foot or by bike (or just don’t want to), they can do so by bus. There’s already a parking  lot at Beaver Lake. For this plan to really work, the city would need to make another one near Parc and Mount-Royal. You can drive to the mountain, but not over it.

If this seems like a permanent change, then good. A pilot project can only go so far and risks alienating people without fully showing the payoff.

Eliminating the mountain shortcut will draw the same ire if you cut cars at Smith House or at Parc and Mount-Royal, so why not go all the way and fully eliminate a pseudo-highway that was a bad idea to begin with.

* Featured image of the Camillien Houde lookout via WikiMedia Commons

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!

The administration of newly elected mayor Valérie Plante is off to a good start. She cancelled the traffic-inducing ridiculously expensive publicity stunt called the “Formula E” races and in a move long overdue, has appointed an Indigenous Commissioner to the city’s administration. Her choice for the post is Cree lawyer Marie-Ève Bordeleau.

This article is about her, the importance of her appointment, and who she will help.

When people think of Montreal’s indigenous community, they unfortunately think of alcoholics and panhandlers that work primarily in the city’s downtown core.

Their stories are much more than that.

The city was founded by Indigenous people, and the suffering of much of the community is a direct result of the impact of colonialism. Though a 2015 survey indicates that Natives make up one-point six percent of Montreal’s population, they make up over ten percent of its homeless.

Indigenous Montrealers face discrimination at every level from accessing basic health care to finding a place to live. Many renters in the city refuse to lease to Indigenous Canadians and those who do are usually slumlords. Quebec police forces have earned a reputation for treating them more severely than whites, and the city’s Indigenous support groups have been calling on the municipal authorities to cooperate with them to make Montreal a better place for their people.

The idea of appointing an Indigenous Commissioner is not a new one. In January 2017 then-mayor Denis Coderre announced that he would appoint one following a meeting he had with aboriginal groups. At the same time, Coderre promised to run an aboriginal candidate in the upcoming election and have native staff members on his campaign.

The city’s indigenous groups were justifiably skeptical, as white politicians have a long history of promising action to Native communities with no follow-through. True to their skepticism, Coderre did none of this and thankfully Mayor Plante is working to fix it.

Montreal’s Indigenous Commissioner has a lot of work to do. Appointed for a term of three years, she is tasked with developing a reconciliation strategy for the city of Montreal with regards to its Indigenous population. She must also advise the mayor on the best ways of building bridges between the city’s administration, its indigenous population, and the rest of the citizenry. She must lead working groups consisting of representatives from municipal departments on how best to include indigenous perspectives in the drafting of laws and regulations.

On top of all that, the Indigenous Commissioner must address the issue of homelessness within the community. As the newly appointed commissioner has said, it’s really “a project of collective healing.”

The appointment of an Indigenous Commissioner to the municipal administration is a big deal as it is a recognition that Montreal cannot continue to neglect its Native population. It must, however, be stressed that the importance of this appointment goes beyond symbolism and one glance at Marie-Ève Bordeleau’s impressive resumé confirms this.

Who is Marie-Ève Bordeleau?

Marie-Ève Bordeleau is a lawyer from Senneterre who studied at Université Laval. Her father is Cree from Waswanipi and her mother is Quebecoise.

Marie-Ève Bordeleau (image via Facebook)

After graduating law school, she was selected by The Pacific Center for Public Integrity, a non-governmental organization, to work with Indigenous communities in Fiji. From there, Bordeleau worked at the firm of Morin and Murdoch where she worked Indigenous law cases that required her to travel throughout the reserves in the Baie James area. She was also involved the in 2015 Val D’Or crisis in which provincial police were accused of abusing indigenous people, especially women, in their custody.

Perhaps the most significant characteristic of our new Indigenous Commissioner’s career is the clear dedication to improving the lives of Indigenous people.

In 2016 she started a mobile mediation service for Indigenous communities with her colleague, Martha Montour. It’s office is located in Kahnawake and offers mediation services – a way for two parties in a conflict to work out their differences in a structured environment outside a courtroom – in the fields of family law, labour law, as well as between Indigenous organizations and tribal councils.

Bordeleau has also traveled across Canada consulting with those who run shelters for Indigenous women fleeing family violence and has met with their directors and aid workers in order to develop legal tools to best help them. In the interviews she’s given, she expresses her outrage at the discrimination faced by Native women.

In 2016 she told Droit Inc., an online legal journal, that she thinks the Commission on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women is a step in the right direction for the Federal government, but like all Indigenous people dealing with a mostly white government, she knows their intentions are good but they still must prove themselves through action.

What Bordeleau has constantly stressed is that Indigenous communities need more resources, including greater access to grants and subsidies and financing parity between the institutions and organizations of these communities. She has noted in the past that one key to healing relations between Indigenous communities and provincial and federal governments is that the latter formally recognize that the problems facing Canada’s Indigenous people are due to the impact of colonization.

Montreal’s new Commissioner of Indigenous Affairs is more than just a symbolic post. It is an indication that the city is truly committed to healing relations with its Native population and working actively to improve their lives. Mayor Plante could have appointed any Indigenous leader to the post, but instead she chose a woman whose career has been distinguished by its proven commitment to recognizing and fixing the problems facing her people.

If anyone can promote healing between Montreal and its Indigenous community, it’s Marie-Ève Bordeleau.

With her at the helm, there’s hope for the future.

Featured image: Facebook

Today on the reality show that is the United States LIVE! Everyone’s favorite talk show mogul Oprah Winfrey is rumored to be in the presidential running for 2020. She denied wanting to run for office in the past, and Trump says he would beat her, but I think she should try!

Fuck racism and sexism, this women has a following like no other.  If celebrity is what wins a presidency she has what it takes.

I am an anarchist at heart but lets play with the idea of overthrowing capitalism by actually getting someone in power who cares? A black female president? YES, oh fuuuck yes! A car for everyone! I couldn’t imagine what the squirmy Trumpets would do.

Maybe she would be the one to give homes not jails and food not bombs! Presidential book club? I don’t even think Trump CAN read! Let’s get some LGBTQ voices in there too. Ellen Degenaras should be her running mate or perhaps Rosie O’Donnell?

That would really piss off Trump. A lesbian and a black woman in office? YES! The world would be a better place. Meryl Streep has already endorsed Oprah, I was thrilled when she dressed up like Trump, definitely well done.

Michelle Obama or Dave Chapelle would be incredible running mates. Celebrity as power, politics as a popularity contest, I guess it’s a little better than just power for the sake of power, money hungry fools taking over the world and spilling blood without consequence.

Oh Oprah, let me count the ways I love thee. That Golden Globes speech was riveting, very much a presidential speech. You empower people of color and women everywhere to rise up.

The speech came up as the first song on my Spotify year in Feminism playlist. I felt like it could have been a women’s march feature. It was nice to see a celebrity use her voice for good.

People listen when famous people talk. With a single speech the world was crying. We need people to cry because they are inspired not because they are afraid of nuclear holocaust. Speak out for those little girls with little hope, let them know that they can rise above society’s bullshit expectations and glass ceilings.

Oprah is more than just giving out free cars and recommending books. She speaks out for causes that are important. I love the fact that she single handedly struck down the meat industry several times proclaiming she would never eat another burger! They even sued her, and LOST! Oprah also said once that she is waiting for all of the old racists to die, hoping it ends with that last generation of hate. Don’t we all girl. No more pussy grabbers. Just strong smart women! This gives me Hoprah.

My dad even supports Oprah 2020, could you imagine? He is a middle class white baby boomer, and he thinks that men have screwed it up for so long why not see what a woman can do? So many of his friends are blind Republicans but he speaks his own heart and I love him for that. I am also inspired to have my own voice regardless of what others believe.

It is so scary to think that all we need is to be popular to gain power, like real power, like change the world kind of shit. Soon it might be possible to go viral on YouTube and end up in the oval office.

I’m sure the world is laughing at the US, but they probably have been for years. Ronald Reagan was the first celebrity president, he blazed the way for this current crash and burn.

Sure there are things about career politicians that are important, checking accountability through their voting record, the ability to lead and be responsible. But so far it seems to be a long line of bullshit and broken promises. Forever corrupt.

We need someone who is prepared to make real change in this world or it is going to continue to crumble. Let’s stir things up with a powerful black woman. She may have risen to the top for different reasons than most presidents past, but I know that I would rather have her in charge than a lot of other fools.

Does she know how to save healthcare, protect and educate our youth, stop climate change, and end all of the racial distress in this world? Who knows, but she would definitely be a better “leader of the free world” than the cheeto faced hate monger we are stuck with now.

Everyone needs to care about this and VOTE. I want to burn it all down. Trump is the worst case scenario, he is born of the cesspool at the bottom of the internet with the jizz of a million trolls and some leftover data. He will attack all that is good until he is stopped.

I really hope we don’t have to wait the entire term, impeach and move on please.

Oprah 2020, let’s go girl, perhaps start now by buying Fox News? That be nice. K, thx.

* Featured image: Screengrab from Golden Globes/NBC

The case of Joshua Boyle and his wife Caitlan Coleman is one where the questions are more important than the answers.

Just over five years ago, Boyle and Coleman were backpacking in Afghanistan when they were taken captive by the Haqqani, one of many Islamic extremist groups in the region. They were held for five years, during which Coleman was raped and forced to miscarry, Boyle was beaten, and one of their three children – all of whom were born in captivity – was beaten with sticks.

When they got back to Canada, Boyle and his wife were hailed as heroes. Their picture appeared in all the major news sources as the couple that survived being prisoners of Islamic militants. They got to visit with Prime Minister Trudeau and even now the photo of our leader bouncing Boyle’s youngest on his knee circulates online.

Unfortunately, the Boyle case is a perfect demonstration of how quick society is to make heroes of people without knowing all the facts. On January 3, 2018 Joshua Boyle, the same guy we all saw as a heroic survivor of militants was arrested on fifteen charges including assault, sexual assault, illegal confinement, uttering death threats, misleading police, and forcing someone to take a noxious substance. Boyle will be facing serious jail time if convicted of any one of these crimes.

Court orders prevent details like the identity and gender of his accusers for their own safety, which means it is difficult to form a hypothesis of what happened. However, with speculation based on what we do know about Boyle’s story, it is possible to construct an alternate narrative to the one the public has been fed entirely through Boyle’s own account of events in Afganistan and when the family returned home.

It’s one that posits that maybe Boyle wasn’t such a hero after all.

For your consideration…

What do we know about Joshua Boyle and Caitlan Coleman?

Joshua Boyle is thirty-four years old and he is Canadian from New Brunswick. Caitlan Coleman is American from Pennsylvania. The rest of what we know is mostly what Boyle has been telling the press on the couple’s behalf. That said, there are a lot of questions Boyle and Coleman need to answer.

Why were they backpacking in the most dangerous parts of Afghanistan so soon after the war?

Boyle claims that their goal was purely humanitarian. They wanted to help those villagers in areas of Afghanistan where no aid worker would dare to go.

However, the circumstances under which they attempted to help people make their alleged goal questionable at best. Though they were aware that the area they were traveling in was dangerous, they made no secret of their destination, making them easy pickings for anyone with malicious intent.

This is not to suggest that they intended to be taken captive by militants, but they certainly did nothing to prevent it.

Why did Coleman agree to accompany her husband on this trip?

Caitlin Coleman was five months pregnant when captured and the area of Afghanistan they were traveling in is not known for its enlightened attitudes towards women. Though one would think her safety and that of her unborn child would be top priorities, she put herself and her baby at risk by accompanying her husband into hell.

Why has no one spoken directly to Caitlin Coleman about what happened to her and her husband in Afghanistan?

Most of what we have heard about their family’s ordeal has come from the lips of Joshua Boyle. Though Caitlin Coleman endured the worst torments during their captivity – forced miscarriage, sexual assault, and being forced to witness the abuse of her child – her husband is still speaking for her.

Coleman’s story is just as important as that of Boyle’s and her experience is unique as the only adult woman in this saga. When she was speaking to Maclean’s a few weeks before her husband’s arrest, Joshua Boyle refused to leave the room, as though he were controlling Coleman with his presence.

Why no one has speculated if she has been victimized by her husband is odd given how little she has been allowed to say publicly. Her behavior goes beyond that of a demure religious woman and is more indicative of someone living in fear and possibly suffering from mental health issues.

Why did Joshua Boyle provoke his captors?

According to Boyle, he was regularly pressured to join his captors in their cause. Instead, he, a practicing Muslim, woke up early and prayed loudly, waking his captors up and effectively accusing them of being bad Muslims. He regularly called them “munafiq” or hypocrites and annoyed his captors so much they raped his wife to punish him.

Anyone with a lick of sense knows you do not provoke your kidnappers, and that Islamic militants are notorious for mistreating female captives. Boyle’s actions indicate either extreme stupidity, insanity, or a selfish disregard for the safety of himself and his wife.

Though Joshua Boyle’s behavior did not merit the brutality with which he and his family were treated, anyone held captive by people known for their brutality would tread VERY carefully in their presence.

The case of Joshua Boyle and Caitlin Coleman is an ongoing one. As more facts come to light, public sympathy for Boyle wanes. He seems increasingly like a manipulative attention-seeker who would do society good in an environment where he could no longer hurt people.

As his star falls, we begin to see the real victims: Caitlin Coleman and her children.

* Featured image: CTV video screengrab

On April 13, 2017 our parliament began its first reading of Bill C-45, The Cannabis Act. Recently this bill was passed in the House of Commons and has now been submitted to the Senate for debate and voting. If it passes in the upper house, the Governor General will provide their royal assent and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will have successfully legalized cannabis in Canada.

Justin Trudeau made a lot of promises to get into office. He promised to fix unemployment for Canada’s young people, but chickened out, informing hoards of his voters after the election that they should get used to temporary employment with poor wages and non-existent benefits. He promised election reform, but cowardly backed out of that, undoubtedly realising that our problematic system worked in his favor.

All we have left to hope for from him is cannabis legalization. If the Prime Minister fails to do this, he’ll prove to his voters that he’s nothing but another corrupt politician with a pretty face.

The cannabis bill does what Trudeau promised: it legalizes cannabis. Unfortunately, the bill shows the haste in which the Liberals are desperate to fulfill at least one of their election promises. There are glaring holes in the law, which, if permitted to pass, will leave the courts and their discretion to fill them in.

The goal of the Cannabis Act is to provide legal access to cannabis and control and regulate its production, distribution, and sale. It has strict rules with criminal penalties for selling marijuana and accessories to minors, and like with tobacco products, also prohibits packaging, displays, and ads that would make it attractive to people under the age of 18.

It also sets up a licensing system, as well as one for federal inspections to make sure only those with permits are distributing and selling cannabis products, and sets up a system of fines and jail time for various violations. The Act also calls for the establishment of a cannabis tracking system, a sort of national registry of people legally authorized to “import, export, produce, package, label, send, deliver, transport, sell, and dispose of cannabis.”

Cannabis legalization is a good thing. Historically cannabis laws were used to persecute Mexicans and hippies and scientists have been reluctant to study marijuana’s health benefits due to the stigma and criminal charges connected with the plant. Legalization will facilitate more studies on its medical use for everything from chronic pain to post traumatic stress, as well as its effects on youth, aging and fetal development.

It should, however, be said that those who want access to marijuana will find a way to get it, and a black market for the drug will continue to flourish if illegal prices remain reasonable. The only way legal cannabis could reduce the black market for the drug is if legal prices for it remain competitive with those of illicit sources. One palliative care patient I spoke to was offered a prescription for medical cannabis products from her physician but was informed that it would cost her between two hundred and three hundred dollars a month for a product she could get for half that amount on the street.

The law tries to limit access to cannabis accessories such as bongs, pipes, and vapes, an attempt that is clearly impractical as most of these items can easily be used for tobacco products. Though the law indicates that enforcement will be left to a federal minister, it does not say which one will be put in charge. As cannabis is a topic in which health care, criminal justice, science and technology, environment, and international trade cross, any federal minister could be put in charge.

Perhaps the most glaring hole in the law is its failure to address those currently serving time, indicted, or on remand for marijuana related offenses that would be legal if the Cannabis Act passes. If the act passes, those charged with marijuana possession will find themselves facing or serving punishments for acts that are no longer against the law.

If the Cannabis Act fails to address this, Canada’s court system will find itself inundated with applications from people arguing that their punishments are unconstitutional. This will not only cost Canadian taxpayers millions in court costs, but also leave a very important clarification up to the discretion of federally appointed judges.

The Cannabis Act is rushed, and it’s incomplete. Though for once the Prime Minister’s heart is in the right place, his government should have taken the time to create as thorough a legalization bill as possible.

Our only hope is that the Senate recognizes this and sends the government back to drawing board to add the missing pieces of the law. If it does not, many people will have a very unhappy new year.

* Featured image via Ground Report (Creative Commons)

During the 2017 Montreal Municipal Election campaign, Valérie Plante said that she would either move the Formula E electric car race to Circuit Gilles Villeneuve or cancel it. Today, she made good on that promise.

Moving it from the southeastern most part of Downtown where it caused numerous headaches for local residents and businesses last year to the world-class racetrack just a metro ride away wasn’t an option for 2018, so she tried to postpone for one year. The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the governing body of Formula E, wouldn’t have it, so Plante cancelled the race.

FIA tweeted their reaction to the news with quite a bit of snark:

Of course, spiraling out of control into a guardrail is a pretty apt metaphor for how many Montrealers felt about the way former Mayor Denis Coderre and his administration handled the race’s Montreal debut last year. The disruptions were one thing, but the cost and lack of return for it is a whole other story.

The race’s local promoter Montreal it’s electric, a non-proft organization started by the city under Coderre, gave away 20 000 tickets to boost attendance at the race to 45 000. Voters only found this out a few days before the election and it may have been one of the things that put Plante over the top on election day.

Today, in a press conference announcing the cancellation, Plante revealed that Montreal it’s electric already went through its $10 million line of credit from the city and still owes $6.5 million. Plante figures that if you add that cost of running the race again by building a temporary track, it would cost Montreal between $30 and $35 million just for 2018.

Yes, cancelling the Montreal Formula E, which was supposed to run for two more years, comes with penalties, but Plante argues that it will be much cheaper than going ahead with another edition following last year’s costly Coderre model.

It’s also interesting to note that Montreal is/now was the only city to fund the race. Perhaps Coderre wasn’t the best negotiator.

Plante and most Montrealers would probably agree that promoting electric cars is a good thing, as is attracting international events. Paying millions and disrupting city life is just not the way she wants to do it.

* Featured image is a screengrab of the still unchanged Montreal Formula E website

Tomorrow morning, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the US is set to scrap Net Neutrality. Specifically, they plan to eliminate Title II protections that force the courts to treat internet access as an essential service.

John Oliver explains this distinction more in depth (if you haven’t seen this segment, you really should, even if you know about Title II):

In a nutshell, without this classification, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) would be free to restrict or slow down access to sites that cannot afford or refuse to pay a fee to be in the fast lane. They could also start bundling sites together the same way cable companies bundle stations and charge extra for packages.

The Nightmare Scenario

My guess is they would probably bring in a mix of the two.

First, imagine basic internet including major email providers and maybe the weather network and a few search engines. You could then add the Social Media package with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for an extra fee, the news package with only mainstream sources for another fee. YouTube would cost extra and if you want Netflix, well you’d have to pay extra for it, above and beyond what you pay (or what your roommate, friend or ex pays, let’s be honest) to Netflix.

Don’t think this is possible? Look at this add for mobile internet packages in Portugal:

Meanwhile, smaller competitors, some widely used and relied on but not popular or potentially profitable enough to be automatically included in a package would take forever to load. If Verizon or Comcast can’t make an extra buck off them, why would they make it easy to access them?

While sites with primarily written content that use embeds for video and audio (like this one) may end up coasting underneath the throttling radar, others won’t. What about BandCamp? Vimeo? Crowdfunding sites? Gaming sites? How about sites that don’t use a lot of bandwidth but really irk the ISPs because of their content?

While the FCC is billing this as “Internet Freedom” it’s actually about letting a handful of companies restrict the freedom of everyone else. I have no problem with websites charging for their services or opting not to, they are already free to do that online. ISPs, on the other hand, should not be.

They don’t own the internet, we all do. Or no one does.

Yes, the ISPs may own the cables, but that only permits them to charge a rate for use of said cables. They have absolutely no business telling us what we can and can’t use the cables to access. No one tells you what you can and can’t say on a phonecall, the Internet should be no different.

Beyond the USA

While this may seem like an American problem, but it’s actually a global one as the internet is a global entity and America is a huge part of it. The biggest sites are American and so are most of the largest indie sites and non-profit sites.

Not only that, there are quite a few people that rely on or at least need some American eyes and ears for their livelihood: independent musicians, app and game developers, the list goes on. While their internet access may not be limited, their potential audience and clientele will be.

Meanwhile, the free flow of information and independent journalism could be seriously compromised, with stories about protest in the US not covered, or not properly covered by mainstream press not making it past someone’s computer or phone, let alone around the world. Likewise, smaller stories could have a hard time finding their way to interested people in the 50 states.

Then there’s the whole issue of American influence. Portugal may not set the global standard when it comes to the Internet, but the US does.

Here in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may have said he supports a free and open internet and is “very concerned” about the FCC’s attempt to roll that back in the States, but how long will that stance last? You can bet that Canadian ISPs are just itching to do what their American counterparts may be able to do very soon and will use what happens south of the border to influence lawmakers here.

So What Do We Do?

The first thing we can do is fight like hell to make sure these changes don’t pass, and by we I don’t mean me, at least not directly. Americans (those reading this and others) are the only ones who can contact their elected officials and the FCC to fight this at the source. There is also an online campaign to oppose the FCC’s intentions called Break the Internet.

If they aren’t successful, there’s the legal avenue, though that takes time, probably more time than it takes for ISPs to start changing the Internet forever. There’s also hoping someone (ie Elon Musk) decides to offer unobstructed access (he already wants to offer the world access through satellites) and thus make it unfeasible for ISPs to offer anything but the net as we know it even if they are no longer legally obliged to.

Hoping for a capitalist benefactor/Bond villain to save us all may only lead to disappointment. People outside of the US fighting hard to preserve Net Neutrality and those in the States fighting hard to bring it back (or creating some sort of pirate ISP) may be the only way to fight and win.

But if we do win eventually, or even if the ISPs lose tomorrow in the US (or in the near future), we need to talk about how to prevent this from happening again, because you know it will. This isn’t the first time I’ve written about a threat to Net Neutrality and it certainly won’t be the last.

Maybe it’s time to look to more radical solutions to preserve what we have and have had for years. Maybe it’s time to nationalize ISPs. At least, the very threat of such an action would scare the corporations who currently control access to the web to forever shut up about changing the rules. At best, we could end up with an internet that could never be changed.

For now, though, let’s hope that the FCC sees the light, or moreover, is forced to see it.

* Featured image: Backbone Campaign via Flickr Creative Commons

Quebec has a love-hate relationship with its Catholic heritage. The province began as a settlement ripped from First Nations by Catholic France before the British took the colony. Quebec owes its first schools, public records, and health care and social welfare facilities to the Catholic Church who set them up at time when secular governments stayed out of them.

During the Duplessis era from the mid 1940s to late 1950s, the Church cooperated with the near dictatorial government to try and keep the people of Quebec obedient and unquestioning of authority. The Quiet Revolution that followed emptied the churches as French Canadians embraced women’s liberation, free sex, and the right to question even the Pope.

Though the province now claims to be aggressively secular (see Bill 62), it is determined to hold on to Catholic symbols such as the crucifix in the National Assembly and the tacky cross currently adorning Mount Royal in the name of glorifying a heritage that credits Quebec society solely – and incorrectly – to its white, Catholic, French-speaking founders.

As any place with Catholic roots, Quebec is not immune to the scandals erupting from the sexual abuses of children carried out by priests, nuns, and friars working in the province’s many schools. At the end of November, The Quebec Court of Appeal approved a class action lawsuit by the victims of sexual abuse who are suing Montreal’s Saint Joseph’s Oratory and the Province Canadienne de la Congregation de Sainte-Croix for the molestation they endured while attending schools the defendants operated.

This article will look at how our legal system handles civil suits against religious authorities accused of participating in sexual abuse and the St Joseph’s case in a little more detail.

Courts in Canada are generally sympathetic to the young victims of sexual assault by Catholic clergy.

In 2004’s John Doe v. Bennett, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal of the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of St. George’s in Newfoundland who had been found liable for the sexual abuse of boys by a priest operating under their authority for two decades. Though provinces have their own civil laws, the principles of this case are similar to such civil suits in Quebec.

In John Doe, the Church invoked in its defense the same defense it uses whenever it is accused of complicity in abuse cases by people acting under their authority: they claim that the bad apples were independent and that the Church had no power to control their actions. This has been used to explain their refusal to apologize for their role in the sexual abuse and cultural genocide of the residential school system, and to try and escape any liability for the rape and molestation of children by their clergy in schools they ran.

It is a defense that is generally rejected by the courts in these cases.

In 2014, the Quebec Superior Court in Tremblay v. Lavoie was asked to determine the liability of Lavoie, the Rédemptoristes Congregation, and the Collège Saint-Alphonse (formerly the Séminaire of Saint Alphonse). Tremblay had instituted a class action lawsuit against the congregation for its role in the sexual abuse of himself and other students by Lavoie and other priests while they attended the boarding school run by the Rédemptoristes.

In order to determine liability of the religious organization in cases of sexual abuse of minors by priests, the courts generally look at the following factors:

  • The relationship between the religious hierarchy named in the case and its clergy
  • Whether the religious hierarchy was aware of the behavior of the people in question – “did they display willful blindness and gross negligence akin to bad faith”
  • If aware, did they fail to take the necessary measures to halt the sexual abuse and prevent further incidents or did they simply conceal its existence?

In the case of Tremblay, the court found the congregation, school, and Lavoie liable on all fronts and ordered them to pay the victims a hefty sum. According to the legal decision, not only did the Rédemptoristes know of the ongoing abuses but, as their priests could not work in the schools without the permission of their superior, they failed in their responsibility to ensure that those chosen to do so would not abuse their power.

The St Joseph’s Oratory case was not a case to determine the liability of the congregation or its pedophile priests. The case was an appeal of a technical decision required in all class action lawsuits. In order to institute a class action lawsuit in Quebec, you need the authorization of the courts and the appointment of someone to lead the suit on the plaintiffs’ behalf.

The group named J.J. -one of many victims of sexual abuse by the Catholic clergy in charge of schools attended by J.J. and the other plaintiffs – as the representative plaintiff in the suit. The Superior Court agreed with St. Joseph’s and Ste. Croix who protested the class action suit and J.J. as representative, with claims including J.J’s desire to remain anonymous, the lack of evidence, and the notion that the delay to file a class action has expired. J.J and the other plaintiffs appealed the decision and won.

In their decision allowing the class action lawsuit, the Quebec Court of Appeal pointed out the reason for J.J’s desire to remain anonymous – namely the stigma and shame associated with the abuse he endured. The only factors that would interfere with him representing his fellow victims include a conflict of interest, own interest in pursuing the suit, and conflicts with the other plaintiffs.

The court refused to address whether the delay to file suit has expired, claiming that this is a defense reserved for their lawsuit itself and not for the authorization hearing. They also mentioned that there is a lot of information and case law that support the claims in the suit and allow more latitude to the plaintiffs in civil sexual assault cases involving the clergy.

The Catholic Church has a lot to atone for from persecuting women, gays, and non-Catholics, to protecting those guilty of raping children. As society becomes more intolerant of the worst behaviors of people claiming to act in God’s name, they and other organized religions need to do what’s needed to weed out the offenders and hold them accountable to the people they hurt. If not, then they deserve to be sued and forgotten.

* Featured image of Saint Joseph’s Oratory via WikiMedia Commons

That didn’t take long. Less than a month after taking office, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante’s Projet Montréal administration announced they will fulfill an important campaign promise: getting rid of former Mayor Denis Coderre’s controversial breed-specific legislation (BSL), often referred to as the pit bull ban.

In a press release, Craig Sauvé, Sud Ouest City Councillor and the Executive Committee (EC) member responsible for the city’s animal management, announced that the EC will officially vote to suspend the articles of Bylaw 16-060 which deal with a specific breed, cross-breed or traits of a breed of dog that Coderre’s administration had passed in late 2016.

Montreal headfirst jump into breed-specific legislation drew the ire of dog owners, the SPCA and international animal rights activists last year. Projet Montréal, then in opposition, had characterized it as legislation written “on the back of a napkin” and Plante’s promise to eliminate it and replace it with something based on evidence could very well be one of the main reasons she was elected.

In the press release, Sauvé claimed that this was just a “first step” as the party plans to work on new legislation dealing with dog attacks but focused on the upbringing and bad owners, not the breed. This will, of course, be done in consultation with groups like the SPCA.

For now, dog lovers can breathe a sigh of relief that Montreal’s costly, confusing and wildly unpopular experiment with breed-specific legislation will soon be a thing of the past.

 

* Featured image via WikiMedia Commons

Twinkle, twinkle little plastic shards, how I wonder how many of you there are?

I have always defended glitter when someone called it herpes! I have always been the person who outshines everyone by bathing in gazillions of tiny little sparkles. I am an asshole, a shiny, shiny turd.

This is not something I am proud of in retrospect. There have been times that I literally wore only glitter, then it seemed glorious, now I feel every speck cutting the throats of children drinking a glass of water, digesting in the bellies of my friends and family, and balling up in the ocean.

I am embarrassed by the amount of glitter pollution I alone have caused, let alone all of the glitter dripping sparkletastic burlesque dancers out there. The aftermath of one of my shows sent millions of microscopic pieces of glimmering plastic down the drain and into the water supply and tainting the food chain for years to come.

This must stop! I challenge all of you, every dancer and party girl, every gay activist that wants to glitter bomb a nazi or fascist politician, every drag queen with eyes on fleek, and everyone with little kids who are about to make holiday crafts: JUST SAY NO TO GLITTER!

The planet cannot suffer for fashion. My shine is NOT more important than the Earth and either is yours. It is so fucked up and sad how much plastic is out there because of vanity.

In every single sip of water we drink there are solar systems worth of micro particles that are too small for any filter. It’s horrifying! When I think of that the choice is easy to ban glitter. My hot scientist partner tells me I shine without it, I don’t need the synthetic brilliance. She inspires me to do better.

The NY Times recently posted an article about banning glitter. We cannot filter out this problem! Scientists studied the effects of plastic in the great lakes and had a huge part in the ban on plastic microbeads. I can’t imagine how much glitter and micro toxins I have ingested while wearing glitter on my lips. Cosmetic glitter is crazy and unnecessarily in a lot of products.

Artist Lara Buckley’s current show Alters of Erie is a lifelong collection of found discarded trash and natural materials mixed together harmoniously. It is currently up at the BOX Gallery in Buffalo NY.

Beauty in the decay. It looks like entire decorated Christmas trees and holiday wreaths from a distance and then you look close to see that it is just perfectly arranged garbage, fish heads on baby doll bodies with plastic rhinestone eyes, invasive plants also fill the room, discarded rubbish on a pedestal, hanging all around the gallery, floating and dancing, things that the world forgot now have new life as eye opening art.

Found pieces of man made bullshit that are polluting our world can be free art supplies. It is also incredible to pick up all of the straws, broken toys, streamers, and other broken bits from the ground and water. We can all get together, pick up rubbish, and make our Earth cleaner while making cool art in the process.

As an artist I need to be more sustainable. Every single painting I have ever painted has glitter on it. I was obsessed. But like anything, once you realized something is wrong abort immediately. Once you know about something and continue doing it even though you know it iss wrong, then you are the problem! You can’t play ignorant. People can grow and change, we call it evolution.

I have so much back stock of glitter I think I want to put it all in resin so it never has the chance to escape into this world. Make one final piece to immortalize the horrific craft herpes that I have loved for so long and now despise.

I never thought glitter would make me cry. It is not a harmless craft supply or fun makeup, it is pure evil in masquerade.

Ending this plastic nightmare is important for the sustainability of this beautiful planet. Plastics do not make it possible! Plastic is toxic and it is not fully known what the last 100 years of exposure have truly done to us.

Humans are killing the Earth at a astounding rate, climate change is real, so many animals are becoming extinct, and yet that little piece of glitter will still be here for the next 100 years no matter what.

I am going to fully make the change to non toxic biodegradable glitter. It is sold on Etsy and other places in the internet like Ecostardust, but I bet it is mad easy to make.

That way I can have my twinkle and be kind to mother earth too! Yay! It’s a win win.

All that glitters is not necessarily good. We have to take every step to make things safer and healthier, our health and the future of our world depend on it.

First we ban glitter, then who knows! Let’s learn from our mistakes and get better for it! Break the tradition and start new sustainable trends. Let’s all become eco friendly sparkle warriors!

In a decision by the Quebec Court’s Youth Division last week, Judge Annie Savard awarded a mother full custody of her children. The kids, age 11 and 13, had been in foster care for ten years due to their birth mother’s inability keep a steady home and job, and her drug problems.

Now sober and reformed, the mother sought out her kids, only to find that they were being neglected and the foster home they were living in was filthy and vermin infested. Judge Savard agreed, and roasted Batshaw Youth and Family Centers, an organization established under Quebec’s Act Respecting Health Services and Social Services to oversee adoptions, child placements etc. for failing to fulfill their mandate where these two children were concerned.

This article is not about this decision. After years of living in squalor, the children and their mother have been through enough.

This is about youth protection in Quebec.

Youth protection is an issue where criminal laws and provincial civil and youth protection laws cross. Crimes that are committed against people under the age of 18 are punished more harshly than those affecting adults. Sentencing guidelines for young offenders as per the Youth Criminal Justice Act have, among others, the goal of instilling a sense of responsibility in youth.

For the purposes of this article, I am going to focus on cases where young people come to harm at the hands of their caregivers, the rights kids have, and the circumstances in which authorities intervene.

The main law in Quebec governing this matter is the Youth Protection Act (“the Act”). Its goal is to protect children – meaning anyone under the age of 18 – whose safety and development are at risk, and to supplement the Quebec Civil Code’s rules on adoption.

The authorities charged with enforcing it are the Director of Youth Protection or DPJ, the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse established by the Charter of human rights and freedoms, and the Youth Division of Quebec Court.

Children’s rights as per the act include:

  • The right to receive an education from an educational body
  • Where the DPJ must intervene, the right to be treated with courtesy, fairness, and understanding in a way that respects their dignity and autonomy
  • During an intervention, the right to be provided with information and explanations in language appropriate to their age and level of understanding
  • In the DPJ’s interventions, the right to present their point of view and have their concerns heard
  • Where the child is placed with a foster family or rehabilitation center, the right to consult confidentially with his or her case worker
  • Unless the court decides otherwise, they also have the right to communicate confidentially with their parents and siblings
  • The right to have their identity kept confidential

Unless otherwise decided by a court of law, “the care, maintenance, and education” as well as ensuring the children are supervised lies with their parents.

Any interventions by the Director of Youth Protection have to be conducted in a way as to end and prevent the recurrence of any threats to a child’s safety and development. Said measures must also allow the child and parents to take an active role, where appropriate, in the decisions best for them. Any decisions made by the DPJ have to be made in the interests of the children and in respect for their rights, though they must also have the goal of ideally keeping the child within the family environment.

In cases where a child cannot be kept with their family and must be placed in an institution or foster care, measures must be taken so that the people important to the child, such as grandparents and extended family, can remain in contact. Even in cases where parents no longer care for their children, their involvement in their kids’ lives must be encouraged.

That said, let’s talk about how and when the DPJ can intervene.

The DPJ can inquire into any issue under their jurisdiction. They can and must intervene where the safety and development of the child is in danger. It is considered as such if the child “is abandoned, neglected, subjected to psychological ill-treatment or sexual or physical abuse, or if the child has serious behavioural disturbances”. A child is considered neglected if their basic needs are not met and the act explicitly states that ideological considerations such as notions of honour do not excuse abuse.

Anyone, especially professionals involved in child care, can refer a case to the DPJ. Pollyanna (name has been changed for privacy reasons), a retired social worker, described to me how the DPJ can intervene in cases referred to them from the public health care system.

Social workers at the CLSCs and hospitals will receive a file referred to them by a doctor or nurse detailing their reasons for suspecting a child is at risk. This can include signs of severe malnourishment, poor hygiene, physical abuse, unusual behavior from parents and children, and where files are referred to social workers from obstetrics, the age or behavior of the mom-to-be (i.e. she’s unusually young). It is then up to the social worker to decide whether or not to contact the Director of Youth Protection, but Pollyanna says she preferred to err on the side of caution and contact them anyway.

It is up to the Director of Youth Protection to investigate and decide whether or not to intervene. Pollyanna points out that like most public organizations in Quebec, the DPJ are understaffed and underfunded and therefore only intervene if there is sufficient evidence to support their involvement. In most cases, she said, they do nothing, though they do their due diligence and in emergencies will send someone immediately to deal with it.

Despite their best efforts, the system of youth protection in Quebec has room for improvement. Failure to acknowledge this and work to fix it will only lead to more cases of neglect and abuse.

Last year, as an alternative to Time Magazine naming then President-Elect Donald Trump its Person of the Year, we decided to invite our readers to select our recipient of the same title. Since Time really didn’t have a choice, given the amount of mainstream press he had received, we decided to encourage our readers to consider coverage in independent and activist media as well.

Even though Trump isn’t going to get the same honour this year from Time, why not continue the tradition we started in 2016? So, with that in mind, here is FTB’s Person of the Year for 2017 Poll!

We’re looking for the person or group of people (last year’s winner was the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe) who had the most important cultural impact in 2017, be it locally (here in Montreal or wherever else you live, but just know that most potential voters live in the 514) or globally.

We’ve added some choices already, but feel free to add your own (it does need to be an actual person or group of people, though). You have until December 15th to vote and we’ll announce the winner of December 18th. You can only vote for one choice but can change your vote up until the 15th.

Here’s the poll:

Who should be named FTB's Person of the Year for 2017?
  • Valérie Plante 27%, 6 votes
    6 votes 27%
    6 votes - 27% of all votes
  • Those who came forward wtih #METOO 27%, 6 votes
    6 votes 27%
    6 votes - 27% of all votes
  • Antifa 9%, 2 votes
    2 votes 9%
    2 votes - 9% of all votes
  • Colin Kaepernick 9%, 2 votes
    2 votes 9%
    2 votes - 9% of all votes
  • Jeremy Corbyn 9%, 2 votes
    2 votes 9%
    2 votes - 9% of all votes
  • Angela Merkel 5%, 1 vote
    1 vote 5%
    1 vote - 5% of all votes
  • Donald Trump 5%, 1 vote
    1 vote 5%
    1 vote - 5% of all votes
  • Emmanuel Macron 5%, 1 vote
    1 vote 5%
    1 vote - 5% of all votes
  • Niki Ashton 5%, 1 vote
    1 vote 5%
    1 vote - 5% of all votes
  • Robert Mueller 0%, 0 votes
    0 votes
    0 votes - 0% of all votes
  • Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois 0%, 0 votes
    0 votes
    0 votes - 0% of all votes
  • Trevor Noah 0%, 0 votes
    0 votes
    0 votes - 0% of all votes
  • Danica Roem 0%, 0 votes
    0 votes
    0 votes - 0% of all votes
  • Catherine McKenna 0%, 0 votes
    0 votes
    0 votes - 0% of all votes
  • The ACLU 0%, 0 votes
    0 votes
    0 votes - 0% of all votes
  • Stephen Colbert 0%, 0 votes
    0 votes
    0 votes - 0% of all votes
  • Carey Price 0%, 0 votes
    0 votes
    0 votes - 0% of all votes
  • Jagmeet Singh 0%, 0 votes
    0 votes
    0 votes - 0% of all votes
  • Ta Nehisi Coates 0%, 0 votes
    0 votes
    0 votes - 0% of all votes
  • Justin Trudeau 0%, 0 votes
    0 votes
    0 votes - 0% of all votes
Total Votes: 22
November 25, 2017 - December 15, 2017
Voting is closed