radio-microphone

Jason is back for a new season of the FTB Podcast! Panelists Mirna Djukic and Cem Ertekin discuss the Dakota Access Pipeline, the problems happening within the Canadian Green Party with an interview from Quebec Green Leader Alex Tyrrell and our News Roundup segment. Plus the Community Calendar and Predictions!

Host: Jason C. McLean
Producer: Hannah Besseau
Production Assistant: Enzo Sabbagha

Panelists

Mirna Djukic: FTB News Contributor

Cem Ertekin: FTB Managing Editor

 

*Alex Tyrrell interview and Pipeline Report by Hannah Besseau

Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

money-in-politics

There has been quite a bit of talk about money in politics lately. Thanks in part to Bernie Sanders, we all know about the obscene amounts of money donated anonymously through SuperPacs to political candidates in the United States.

But the problem isn’t limited to the States, and it’s also not limited to major national campaigns. In fact, it has permeated even the most basic elements of our representative democracies.

There’s a phrase I saw, or rather re-saw, recently in a meme, and I’ve been thinking about it for a few weeks, now:

“If it’s inaccessible to the poor, it’s neither radical nor revolutionary.”

I have been trying to reconcile this with my long-held view that internet media can be revolutionary. There are good arguments both for and against the notion. When it comes to party politics, though, things become a little more cut and dry.

Application Fees for the Top Job

On Monday, Projet Montréal, arguably the most progressive political party in the city, officially began its search for a new leader. There were, of course, rules. Understandably, you have to be legally eligible to be a candidate for Mayor of Montréal (because that’s what the job essentially is) and you have to have already been a member of the party (fair play, considering they want to weed out people running just to disparage the party).

But there’s more: you also need to have previously donated at least $300 to the party and must raise between $5 000 and $30 000 during the campaign. Yes, there are financial requirements for prospective candidates.

On one hand, I understand that a City Councillor who owes their better-than-average paying job, in part, to a party, should give a little back. I also realize that for many, $300 isn’t all that much money.

However, these requirements limit the field to those who are already elected or have enough money lying around to make that $300 investment. If someone doesn’t, sure they can borrow it off their friend, but then they will be beholden to their friend. Sure, it’s not like owing Walmart or Imperial Oil, but it’s still owing a contributor.

When it comes to raising money during the campaign, it does make sense that a well-funded campaign will do better than a poorly funded one, so I imagine any candidate for leadership will try to raise money. But making it a requirement effectively works against someone who has an idea of another way to succeed (an excellent social media campaign, for example).

It’s not that foregoing raising funds in lieu of another approach will work. It’s that someone who has that idea should be given the chance to succeed or fail with it.

That said, you do not have to be a member of a political party to become Mayor, you can run as an independent. That’s not the case everywhere, though.

You Need to Lead a Party to be Prime Minister

The Federal NDP will also be holding its leadership race in the near future. The NDP also has rules for candidates wishing to enter (at this point, just proposed rules):

  1. Leadership hopefuls need to collect 500 signatures from party members in different regions of the country. Makes sense.
  2. Half those signatures need to be from “female-identified members” and 100 need to come from “other equity-seeking groups” which means visible minorities, Aboriginal Peoples, members of the LGBTQ community and people with disabilities. Yes, sure, absolutely. The more representative, the better.
  3. There is a $30 000 entry fee. Wait, what? Some people don’t make that in a year!

30 grand for a chance to be NDP Leader? That’s like taking three huge steps forward and then 30 000 steps back when it comes to inclusivity, especially when you consider that those the NDP is trying to include in the voting process are more likely to be those who can’t afford the leadership registration fee.

Former candidate Cheri DiNovo brought this issue to the forefront, refusing to officially enter the race and pay the fee. While she said she could probably raise the money, no candidate should have to in order to run.

And she’s absolutely correct. The only people who can afford to spend $30 000 on a job application when getting the job isn’t a sure thing (and a PM or MP’s salary isn’t either, even if you do get the job) are those who are already wealthy, are already elected officials, or those who know enough donors to raise the money from.

9194884056_86180db1f9_o

No matter how you cut it, there is a huge personal economic restriction placed on people not already part of the political process who want to throw their hat in the ring. Sure, anyone can get involved, but the limits to the higher levels aren’t based on experience, they’re based on personal finances.

And unlike municipal politics, you need to be the leader of a political party to become Prime Minister of Canada. Not sure what the other major parties charge to run for leader, but if the progressive, left NDP is any indication, PM is a job inaccessible to those who don’t have or can’t raise large sums of money.

Until someone with hardly any cash can successfully run for mayor or PM on a party ticket, party politics remain inaccessible to the poor and therefore cannot be considered radical or revolutionary.

the-tragically-hip-2

For this very special podcast our host Jason talks with panelist Ron Roxtar about the last Tragically Hip concert, it’s political implications and the Monkland Street Fest. Plus the Community Calendar and Predictions!

Host: Jason C. McLean
Producer: Hannah Besseau
Production Assistant: Enzo Sabbagha

Panelists

 

Ron Roxtar: Pop Culture Aficionado , Journalist and Promoter

 

*Reports by Hannah Besseau

Band image: Radio Canada 

radio-microphone

Podcast panelists Casey Rosner and Cem Ertekin discuss the World Social Forum happening in Montreal, controversies surrounding the 2016 Olympics and our News Roundup including the Bylaw P-6, the good and bad at Osheaga and more. Plus the Community Calendar and Predictions!

Host: Jason C. McLean
Producer: Hannah Besseau
Production Assistant: Enzo Sabbagha

Panelists

Cem Ertekin: FTB Managing Editor

Casey Rosner: FTB Contributor

 

*Reports by Hannah Besseau

Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

radio-microphone

Podcast panelists Vincent Simboli, Jerry Gabriel and Cem Ertekin discuss Montreal’s Black Lives Matter protests, Mike Ward and the Just for Laughs season, the US conventions and our News Roundup including the Turkish coup, Pokémon GO and more. Plus the Community Calendar and Predictions!

Host: Jason C. McLean
Producer: Hannah Besseau
Production Assistant: Enzo Sabbagha

Panelists

Vincent Simboli: FTB Contributor

Cem Ertekin: FTB Managing Editor

Jerry Gabriel: FTB Contributor

 

*Black Live Matter report by Mirna Djukic

*Conventions and Just for Laughs reports by Hannah Besseau

Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

Central-East_Correctional_Centre

While Syrian refugees have been greeted with widely applauded warmth by the Canadian government, other immigrants, jailed without trial, are resorting to a hunger strike to get themselves heard.

Fifty immigration detainees have started a hunger strike in Ontario to protest the conditions and the too-often undetermined length of their detention. Like thousands of others across Canada, the fifty men have been placed in custody without charges or trial, because their situation does not conform to the country’s immigration laws.

They have been refusing food since Monday and intend to keep doing so until they get a meeting with the Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale. Immigration detainees had originally gone on a hunger strike April 21st and stopped after representatives from the Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) met with them to discuss their concerns. But the group End Immigration Detention (EID) says that the Agency has not followed through with their promises and now the detainees want to speak with elected officials.

“We would like immigration detention to end and something more fair or realistic be worked out,” said Toby Clark, detained since 2014 in an EID press release.

Migrants are the only category of persons that can be held in custody indefinitely and without charges in Canada. Every year, the CBSA issues between 4000 and 7000 arrest warrants against immigrant men, women and children who haven’t been able to prove their identity or haven’t been granted asylum.

The lucky ones are sent to one of the three overflowing CBSA immigration detention centres in Vancouver, Toronto and Laval. The others are held in provincial prisons, among criminal offenders. This is the case of the fifty protesters detained in Central East Correctional Centre and Toronto East Detention Centre, where they are often subjected to lockdowns and solitary confinement.

Immigrant detention lasts 23 days on average, but some people wait for years to either be granted asylum or deported. “If your country refuses to issue travel documents, some people are held months, some people are held years and there is nothing that they can do about their country not issuing travel documents,” explained Clark.

Despite the fact that immigration detention is supposedly an administrative procedure with no intent of punishment, the detainees are effectively treated like criminals in jails and CBSA centres alike.

One woman recounted her ordeal in the Laval facility to Radio-Canada last February: “when they escort you to court or to the hospital, they always cuff you, as if we were murderers.” She recalled the shame she felt, after waiting for hours in an emergency room, cuffed like a prisoner. “I asked God to take me, so I could just stop living. What use could all of this be? It was too humiliating,” she confided. She was released after one and a half months.

Immigrant detainees are released if they can provide the proper documents, but it is very hard to do so while in custody. Jenny Jeanes from Action Réfugiés Montréal visits detainees in Laval twice a week. According to her, they don’t have access to internet and are only permitted local phone calls at certain times.

The Larger Problem

Over 80 000 immigrants were arrested by the CBSA between 2006 and 2014, according to End Immigration Detention. Many of them were children, often unaccompanied. The UN has chastised Canada for making detention a systematic response, when it should be an exceptional one. The Red Cross, the High Commissioner for Refugees and multiple groups of legal experts, social workers and doctors have called on Canada to change its ways.

One would think that the election of PM Justin Trudeau, praised around the world for his compassion and acceptance of refugees, would have put an end to this practice, but they would be disappointed. The number of immigrants detained yearly is still above 4000 according to more conservative guesses.

And people are indeed guessing, since the CBSA has not known exactly how many people are in its custody since 2013. Apparently, it’s the fault of an outdated computer system.

90% of immigrants are detained for reasons unrelated to security. Half of the immigrants detained are asylum-seekers.

Who is Overseeing the CBSA?

Two years ago, Lucia Vega Jimenez died while in CBSA’s custody. The 42-year old Mexican was risking deportation when she hung herself in a cell in Vancouver’s airport. When the affair was finally made public one month later, it raised some serious questions about the federal agency.

Who is overseeing this process? What resources are available to detainees? Why didn’t Jiminez get medical assistance when she needed it? And how come Canada routinely infringes on the basic human rights of non-citizens?

These questions, just like the chorus of calls for a public inquiry, remain unanswered. Since 2000, 13 people have died in CBSA custody.

A Burundian refugee hung himself in Toronto East Detention Centre just last March, while he was awaiting deportation for killing his wife. Last year, a diabetic Somali refugee died in Central East Correctional Facility. Both those cases, like many others, are shrouded in suspicious secrecy.

Federal bodies with coercive powers usually have an independent commission overseeing them. The RCMP, the Canadian Intelligence Service and the Centre of Telecommunication Security all do.

There is no independent entity overseeing the CBSA, or receiving complaints about them.

Last February, a senator with liberal allegiance introduced a bill to change this. Senator Wilfred Moore wants an independent inspector to be appointed as watchdog of the CBSA. “I don’t want Mrs Jimenez’s death to be in vain, he told Radio-Canada while explaining his motives.

The government refused to acknowledge that the CBSA’s methods were in any way problematic but claimed that they were open to consider ways to ensure some accountability mechanisms.

migrantstrike

Fifty men are currently resorting to a hunger strike, facing indefinite detention in maximum security prison, despite having committed no crime. Canada would never treat its citizen that way; it should not treat anyone that way.

End Immigration detention has launched a campaign to reach out to Minister Ralph Goodale and ask him to meet the detainees.

You can participate by calling him at 613-947-1153, or tweeting at him using the hashtag #migrantstrike.

Just like Justin Trudeau told us, when greeting Syrian refugees in December: “show the world how to open our hearts and welcome in people who are fleeing extraordinarily difficult situations.”

radio-microphone

Panelists Katie Nelson and Jerry Gabriel discuss Homa Hoodfar’s detention in Iran, Stella’s campaign against the abolition of sex work and various topics from the news of the week. Plus the Community Calendar and Predictions!

Host: Jason C. McLean
Producer: Hannah Besseau
Production Assistant: Enzo Sabbagha

Panelists

Katie Nelson: Concordia student

Jerry Gabriel: FTB contributor

 

*Homa Hoodfar Report by Hannah Besseau

*Stella Interview by Enzo Sabbagha

Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

radio-microphone

Panelists Cem Ertekin and Josh Davidson discuss Trudeau’s ElbowGate, the failure of the caleche ban in Montreal and banning smoking on terraces. Plus the Community Calendar and Predictions!

Host: Jason C. McLean
Producer: Hannah Besseau
Production Assistant: Enzo Sabbagha

Panelists

Cem Ertekin : FTB Managing Editor

Josh Davidson: FTB Food Columnist

 

*Reports by Hannah Besseau

Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

radio-microphone

Panelists Der Kosmonaut, Cem Ertekin and Jerry Gabriel discuss the Mayday March protests and the violent police reaction in downtown Montreal, an update on the US Primary elections, Prince leaving us too soon and Peter Sergakis’ lawsuit against Peter McQueen. Plus the Community Calendar and Predictions!

Host: Jason C. McLean
Producer: Hannah Besseau
Production Assistant: Enzo Sabbagha

Panelists

Cem ErtekinFTB Contributor and Managing Editor

Der Kosmonaut: Poet, writer, spoken word artist, DJ and blogger at The Adventures of Der Kosmonaut

Jerry Gabriel: Podcast regular and FTB Contributor

* Reports by Hannah Besseau

Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

2F67123700000578-3361179-image-a-46_1450203732184

What do the 2016 US Presidential candidates eat? What do their gastronomic ways say about their presidential personality?

Though it only lasted five months, our own federal election in Canada gave us enough time to find out what out candidates ate, and what it said (or didn’t say) about their leadership style.

Bernie Sanders

Sanders is the Tom Mulcair of candidates south of the border. Just not in the way you might think.

Each has pulled his party in the polar opposite direction. Yet they share a gruff gastronomic asceticism on the campaign trail.

If you recall, Forget the Box was the first outlet to uncover the bombshell news: Mulcair’s organs are made of bricks and wool. Our investigative report disclosed that this Prime Minister hopeful had never been seen partaking in food, even when hiking on Mont-Royal, stumping in small towns, or Schwartz-ing with jovial peers.

    

Now Sanders’ food choices remain equally opaque, leaving us up here to surmise that he survives on his healthy diet of finger wagging. Even the hearty US press corps, with its fifteen months of research, has come up mostly empty trying to paint the “lifestyle” profile of loveable Uncle Bern.

In candidate surveys, the best they could come up with was “scrambled eggs for breakfast.” This sounds like it was filled in by some campaign intern. Though it’s not really an answer, we’ll assume they’re unsalted, devoid of condiments.

To be fair, Sanders has this slight edge over Mulcair. The latter was never even seen sipping coffee, whether in meetins or at pictoresque rural working class diners. Sanders, on the other hand, was definitively ID-ed sipping Vermont craft beer. It seems suspicious, sort of a photo-op setup.

Yet I believe it. He is drinking the hoppiest beer in a state known for very hoppy delights, which seems to fit with his enjoyably bitter personal brand.

Ted Cruz

You might recall the eponymous #GuacGate, spurred by the NYT’s suggestion of peas in traditional Mexican-American versions of guac.

We saw then that guacamole was a deeply divisive political issue, and this was before the immigration debate gathered full steam. Yet it also united party leaders in unexpected ways, such as Jeb and Obama’s ardent disavowel of this French intrusion into an already-perfect dish.

Fittingly, one of the only dissenters, even in a moment of bipartisan fun, was divisive Senator Ted Cruz. The Texas senator came up on the wrong side as his colleagues as usual, claiming his distaste not only for guacamole, but for avocadoes full stop.

Fitting consistent with his Texas image, Cruz picks enchiladas (the legal kind) over any other dish.

Donald Trump

Now to the frontrunners. We’ll save Clinton to the end, because her food preferences, like Harper’s in my original article, somehow leave me most unsettled.

This is a surprise in itself, because in this unprecedented US primary spectacle, you’d think Trump would reign supreme generating gastronomic headlines. Yet despite him criticizing Kasich for his hearty four-course Italian meal at a New York market food stand, he has been criticized for eating pizza with forks and generally unhealthy food preferences. This might be exciting for another candidate, though for Trump’s grand style, his diet lands up surprisingly boring, even unworthy of mention.

He claims he eats light and healthy on the trail, sans alcohol. He does, of course, mention that he indulges in his favourite dish once in awhile: US steak. This is helpful, given the cartons of unsold Trump Steaks likely sitting in some warehouse.

Hillary Clinton

Remember Obama’s epic stops at Ray’s & In n Out burger, photos of juicy burgers joyously shared with Senator Joe? They swarmed over social media, part of his fresh new image that helped launch him to the win.

Source: WaPo

Clinton, on the other hand, is ever the milquetoast frontrunner. In ways eerily similar to Harper who, lest we forget, was once touted to regain his majority reign, she avoids unplanned ops or stops or any real insight into her soul. So the first similarity is their over-advised inhuman personas: it’s hard to discern if they have any real passions or preferences at all.

Yet the second is spicy. We revealed Harper’s “secret obsession” with deathly strong hot-sauce (he supposedly kept a special pantry of it at Sussex Drive, if you recall). Clinton, too, has been said to carry hardcore hot sauce in her purse, a “confession” corroborated by aides.

Now, some criticized this as blatant pandering, since this detail unsurprisingly slipped out during one of her Southern campaign stops. It’s possible that Clinton’s hot sauce obsession is as manufactured as her Southern accent.

Like her true views on society, policy and values, one thing’s safe to say: we’ll never know the truth.

—–

What dirt have you uncovered on the Presidential candidates eating habits?

UPDATE: Press time: Carly Fiorina just announced her VP run with Cruz. We’re curious if the Cruz team vetted her dietary preferences before the presser.

‘I always used to eat Milk-Bones as a kid’: Carly Fiorina snacks on dog treats and tells puppies to vote Republican because ‘Obama ate your cousin’ in bizarre video – Daily Mail, 15 Dec. 2015

Souce: Daily Mail
Mossack_Fonseca_HQ

The upper one percent – society’s richest people – are in deep shit. Over a year ago an anonymous source contacted Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany’s largest broadsheet newspaper, with a juicy gift.

It consisted of encrypted internal documents from Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm that specializes in selling anonymous offshore companies to interested buyers. These companies allow individuals and organisations to hide wealth from those with a legal right to it including tax collectors and spouses in divorce proceedings.

When the documents were decrypted they pointed the finger at politicians like British Prime Minister David Cameron and Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as rich company owners and CEOs, terrorist organisations, and even athletes like Lionel Messi, the Argentinian soccer player.

The world is understandably outraged. Everything we suspected about the upper one percent: that it’s a group consisting mostly of sanctimonious older males who will do anything to keep their wealth so they can continue to screw us turned out to be absolutely true.

Having said all that maybe it’s time we take a look at our own laws to see what the offenders in our back yard will be facing if a few Canadian names turn up in the Panama Papers.

There are three kinds of charges a Canadian found in the Panama papers would likely face: tax evasion, tax avoidance, and maybe fraud.

Tax evasion is deliberately hiding income so you don’t have to pay taxes.

It can have many forms as defined by the Federal Income Tax Act and the Quebec Tax Administration Act. This includes failing to file or make a tax return, making false or deceptive statements in tax returns, destroying records to avoid paying taxes, or conspiring to do these things. The penalties are different depending on whether the violation involved federal or provincial taxes.

A person convicted of federal income tax evasion will be facing a maximum prison sentence of five years. The fines they will face depend on the type income tax evasion they are convicted of.

If the person is convicted of failing to file a tax return, for example, the maximum fine is twenty-five thousand dollars plus any little penalties for specific violations related to the evasion. If you’re convicted of providing false information or destroying documents to avoid paying taxes, the maximum fine is double the amount you sought to evade.

Quebec law comes down a little harder on income tax evaders. The maximum penalty for income tax evasion is a million dollars, but sadly the prison sentence is as ridiculously short as in federal law: five years less a day.

Income tax avoidance is a little different.

Income tax avoidance is abusively taking advantage of a legal loophole to avoid paying taxes or to pay less of them, and it’s only listed as a separate offense in the Federal Income Tax Act. This can take the form of making arrangements that would result in a tax benefit or exemption for example.

If a person is caught doing this, the penalty is going to depend a lot on the judge because the federal Income Tax Act says that the consequences will be determined “as is reasonable in the circumstances.” Sadly, the wording of the rules regarding tax avoidance suggests that the worst case scenario is being denied the benefit or having to pay the taxes.

Fortunately, the Canadian Criminal Code’s rules regarding fraud are MUCH tougher.

Fraud is defined as being committed by someone who “by deceit, falsehood or other fraudulent means, whether or not it is a false pretence within the meaning of this Act, defrauds the public or any person, whether ascertained or not, of any property, money or valuable security or any service.” The maximum penalty for fraud is a prison sentence of fourteen years.

And it gets better.

The Criminal Code allows our courts to take into account certain aggravating circumstances such as whether the fraud had a negative impact on the Canadian economy or affected a large number of victims.

A Canadian who partook of Mossack Fonseca’s services to get out of paying a healthy chunk of their taxes would certainly be guilty of both because every penny they keep out of the tax collector’s hands is a penny they keep out of the public purse. The public purse is where the money for stuff like health care, passport offices, and salaries for judges and public defenders comes from.

Wealthy Canadians like Conservative Leader Wannabe Kevin O’Leary have been trying to minimize the impact of the Panama Papers. In an interview with the CBC on April 6, 2016, he boldly said:

“These [tax] structures are legal… So what? That’s the bottom line.”

The “so-what” is that the money rich guys are hiding so they can pay for their golf clubs and matching country club-appropriate outfits is money they are keeping from hardworking Canadians who need to know that they have to pay taxes like everyone else and that those taxes will be proportionate to their actual wealth (like everyone else). In order to make sure of that we need to punish those who can afford to pay the taxman but don’t…

…And maybe investigate Kevin O’Leary too.

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

President Bernie Sanders. Something that a few months ago only seemed possible to progressives sitting around in a bar after a few pints. Everyone else either thought his candidacy was a joke or something that could, at best, move the discourse more to the left.

Now, after rallies attended in the thousands, celebrity endorsements from, among others, Neil Young and Sarah Silverman and a social media love affair reminiscent of an Obama campaign, it’s looking more and more like a possibility. American politics may #feelthebern in 2016.

Donald Trump Makes it Possible

Sanders announced his campaign with a brief preceeding statement explaining that he wanted to keep it short because he had “things to do.” This afterthought approach along with the candidate’s unkempt hair blowing in the wind was comedic fodder for Jon Stewart and others at the time. It also made it clear that Sanders wasn’t a conventional presidential candidate.

With Jeb Bush looking to take the Republican nomination, a conventional Democrat seemed the likely choice to put forward as an opponent. But strange things tend to happen in American politics. Now Bush is running second to a man who is equally as unlikely a choice for President as Sanders but has much worse hair: Donald Trump.

You want to beat a Bush, run a Clinton. You want to beat a bragging uber-capitalist with white supremacist supporters, run a no-frills socialist who marched with Dr. King. It’s the logical choice.

Neither candidate can be bought, but Trump already sold out years ago, or rather became who politicians sell out to.

But it’s Hillary’s Turn!

Photograph by Keith Kissel
Photograph by Keith Kissel via Flickr Creative Commons

Hillary Clinton running as the Democratic candidate has seemed like a foregone conclusion since Obama’s re-election and still does in many ways. The mainstream media still thinks it will be her and you’d better believe party heavyweights and their financial backers still hope it’ll be her as well.

It’s her turn, after all. But then again, it was supposed to be her turn in 2008.

But that’s when a young upstart named Barack Obama came out of nowhere, won the nomination and routed the Republicans in the general election. So the Dems don’t mind backing another horse if that’s where the winds are blowing. But is popular support this time enough for them to deny Hillary a second time?

Winning is One Thing…

Barack Obama offered Hope and Change, which the Dems were fine with. That’s primarily because his change didn’t include changing where the money comes from.

While Obama’s donors included (and Clinton’s include) all the usual suspects from Wall Street, Sanders has unions and individuals supporting him financially. This is one of the reasons true progressives are drawn to him, but it’s also why Democratic Party power brokers will probably shy away.

Photograph by Marc Nozell vie Flickr Creative Commons
Photograph by Marc Nozell vie Flickr Creative Commons

Not only that, he is a democratic socialist and proud to be one. No matter how much Tea Party idiots want to believe it, Obama wasn’t. He’s from the Chicago School of Economics.

So the real question is, can the Democratic establishment put aside their vested financial interests and back a candidate who can win, but on his own terms? Or will they back Hillary at all costs?

Not #RonPaul2016

It may be easy to draw some parallels between Sanders and former upstart candidate Ron Paul. Both decided to run on major party tickets even though they didn’t really fit the party mould, both were hashtag-ready candidacies championed by the internet and both wanted to scale back the US military. Other than that, though, they couldn’t be farther apart.

Sanders isn’t an unconventional Democrat the way Paul was an unconventional Republican. He’s an independent, and has sat in the US House of Representatives and then the US Sentate as one since 1991. But instead of running for President as such like Ralph Nader did, he’s setting himself up to get major party backing and guarantee himself a spot in televised presidential debates.

Photograph by Gage Skidmore via Flickr Creative Commons
Photograph by Gage Skidmore via Flickr Creative Commons

It’s an upstart grassroots campaign amplified online, but with the intelligence of a seasoned pro and a way to win. If the powers-that-be in the Democratic Party don’t want him, just make sure enough independents register as democrats and vote in the primaries. Think of it as people using the Democratic Party as a means to an end instead of corporate donors doing exactly the same thing.

Mix popular appeal, intelligence, a bit of luck, and a horrid opponent together and we may have all the ingredients necessary for Bernie Sanders to become the next President of the United States.

IMG_1051

The number of pipeline proposals for Northwest BC that big oil companies have been making is astounding. Enbridge Pipeline, PNG Pipeline Looping Project, Pacific Northern Gas, Pacific Trails Pipeline, Coastal GasLink, Westcoast Connector Gas Transmission Project, Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project… Some resources say there’s at least 11 of these proposals.

The environmental concerns of building pipelines through Canada’s ‘untouched’ lands aside, most of these projects encroach upon the unceded territories of Indigenous people, namely the Wet’suwet’en. For several years, the Unist’ot’en, a clan of Wet’suwet’en, have been struggling to keep the oil companies away from their territories. They have been successful so far; however, the RCMP has been intensifying its efforts to end their resistance.

Along with volunteers, the Unist’ot’en have set up a camp in the territory, setting up checkpoints all around it. They practice free prior and informed consent protocols, which essentially means that people at the checkpoints will ask any visitors their purpose of visit and what they’re bringing into the territory – like border control. If the hereditary chiefs do not approve the visitors, then they’re not allowed in the territory.

DSC_0058
A protestor detained by the SPVM as bystanders watch, July 24. Photo by Cem Ertekin

This is an ongoing struggle and, recently, after the RCMP once again tried to enter the camp but was refused, the campers have made a call out for solidarity demonstrations. It was following this that an “emergency demo” was organized to be held on July 24 in front of the Roddick Gates of McGill University, at the intersection of Sherbrooke and McGill College.

Around 20 demonstrators, five members of alternative media, and ten police cars showed up. Once the organizers believed that a critical mass was reached, the group started to march westward on Sherbrooke. Immediately afterwards, the police cars started to follow them, announcing that the protest was illegal, probably under P-6, but also – the recently popular – Highway Security Code article 500.1.

The group turned left on Mansfield, stopped in front of the CIBC building and gave a speech on why they were gathered. In a pamphlet handed out to passersby, the organizers say that “the situation at the Unist’ot’en camp in so-called British Columbia (B.C.) is moving towards an escalation point.”

IMG_1048
SPVM officer going through the bag of a detained protester, July 24. Photo by Cem Ertekin

They also called for justice for victims of police brutality, namely Sandra Bland and Paul Castaway. “We condemn the police’s differential targeting of the marginalized, racialized and low-income communities across Turtle Island,” they said.

After that, the group continued marching south on Mansfield, and turned west at Maisonneuve. They were able to march until Stanley, at which point one of the police cars overtook the group by going through the bike lane and blocking the street. Surely enough, that left the group completely surrounded in a mini-kettle.

According to The Montreal Gazette, the SPVM says that one person was arrested and eight were ticketed. One of the organizers who wished to remain anonymous, however, told me that six were arrested and three were ticketed. I also saw more than one person being hauled off in a police car; but, to be fair, I did hear the remnants of the group talking about people being released.

DSC_0054
Journalist Matt D’Amours being held by an SPVM officer, July 24. Photo by Cem Ertekin.

It’s insane, on its own, that people were arrested like that in the middle of the street and ticketed for protesting, but one of the people who got a ticket for being there was Matt D’Amours of Concordia’s The Link and a member of 99%Media. Matt was livestreaming the event until it was abruptly cut off by an officer of SPVM.

The ticket says that Matt has “occupied a road used as an alternate route for traffic diverted from a public highway, by placing an obstacle, so as to obstruct vehicular traffic on the road without authorization.” The obstacle in question, apparently, is Matt’s person.

“I find it to be a slightly dubious description of the offence,” Matt said. “And also, my name has been misspelt on this ticket.”

Photography by Cem Ertekin.

“Enough is enough” was the message of the silent demonstration on June 8th. More than 30 demonstrators met in front of the SPVM headquarters in Downtown Montreal to express their frustration with police violence and brutality. Among the participants were people who had been brutalized by the police – one still had his arm in a cast.

Initially, the group met on the sidewalk in front of the Montreal Maison Symphonique. Twenty or so minutes after 6 p.m. officers from across the street came by and announced that they would respect the “protestors’ right to demonstrate,” but they would not “tolerate any criminal activity or the obstruction of traffic.”

Afterwards,  the demonstrators voted to move across the street and sit directly in front of SPVM’s doors; where a dozen or so officers were blocking entrance. Silently and peacefully, the protestors sat down right in front of the officers – for almost four hours.

Check out our report below to hear more about and from the protest. In addition, you can see photos from the event, as well.

Cat's Painting

We need change. What happened to serve and protect? Freddie never had a chance. Apocalypse plague of humanity drawing closer with every injustice to every name I can’t remember, because there are too many. You have the right to remain alive! Too many people are murdered by the people supposedly serving and protecting them.

This revolution will not be televised!

It will be caught with the camera of a dying cell phone by the thumb of child who knows no slavery, but is a slave to connection without being connected to the fact that folks are dying – for what? I sit on a floral covered futon in a room where the only discomfort is that the ceiling fan is making my feet cold and I am too lazy to pull the chord. I am typing on a iPhone that was new at Christmas, but is quickly becoming obsolete. I spent the morning smoking bongs and catching up on what’s happening outside my line of sight. I feel defeated.

Nepal. Baltimore. Places where fates were decided without remorse or recourse. An earthquake quickly drowned out by coverage of a race riot. A man dragged into a police van and then beaten until his spine was severed. Watching videos and reading both genius and fucking ignorant comments, reading the news through my Facebook feed, the Twitters of anyone who is anyone that Fox News can grab on to. Wonderbread reporters saying stupid things to people who are desperately trying to save their children and bring light to the hardships in a desperate America.

Foods not Bombs 2
Food Not Bombs is a peaceful protest against war.

It’s not as hard to talk about race through the safety of tapping of your finger on a little glass screen that has so much power. There is no answer I can provide to why humans judge other humans based on the color of their flesh or contents of their presentation. I know that I have been judged and made similar shameful judgements, but I also know that regardless of growing up in the poorest neighbourhood of one of the poorest cities in the country, I still made it to where I am now. I have not personally been the victim of Police brutality or the true ugly face of racism, but I unfortunately know how very real and present it is in our world.

I was once standing outside of the old Pink, a Buffalo dive bar in the hippest neighbourhood, and there was a man pan handling – not being too pushy, just normal. After several moments: a car pulled up and two police officers dragged him away from the bars patio area and threw him to the ground in front of a crowd of a summer Saturday night drinkers. When he was picked up from the cement one officer pretended to kick him and they all shared a sick smile. I stood there and did nothing. I held my Jack and Coke in one hand and cell phone in the other and said absolutely nothing. I was 21. Out of fear my lips were sealed. I didn’t want to get involved. I regret that everyday. Standing up for even one person is the most important thing one can do.

I am angry, but fighting violence with more violence is counterproductive. Peaceful protests, nonviolence, and using art as activism are the only true answers. There are people rioting for sports teams, the KKK and Nazis still exist. Hate mongers and cold blooded killers, gay bashers and wife beaters roam the streets. War is present in all societies. And the most popular children’s toys are always guns. Why are humans, as a whole, so aggressive? Video games and rap music? Heavy metal perhaps. Violent horror movies maybe. Children being raised by the internet? Unfaithful media? Who the fuck knows! Maybe it’s none of the above or a combination of all.

Foods not bombs 3
We feed people because we love them.

Sadly there are disconnected fronts, people fighting for the right thing in the wrong way. Looking for attention, not resolution. Do not stir the pot in someone else’s battle. Solidarity is important. Stand with and support, but do not fight for them – it’s not always your battle. Be educated. There is a group of rabble rousers in front of every city hall inciting a riot. These people are my friends. I agree with their heart and dedication, but when they jump in bull horns first, that leaves no time for tact.

There was a possibility of my cousin becoming a cop – it made me think. He is a good one with the right intentions. I would hope that the shitty crime filled world wouldn’t eat him up. We need more honorable humans in law enforcement.

I care about everyone, every person deserves love and respect and food and smiles. There is a lot that needs to be done and there is nothing you can do about it by simply being quiet! Incite a riot within yourself, bring peace by being peaceful, helpful, loving, and making your own discussions and decisions based on life and not what the media portrays.

The way a story is covered, paying attention to one insignificant part of the story, grabbing onto the juiciest bit of bullshit and shifting the entire tide – it makes me sick. Violence sells. The News is not Reality Television, just as reality Television ain’t real. None of it can be trusted, get your news by being present in the world you live in, be there when it’s happening and, when actually reading or watching other people’s representations of the world events, make sure to find every perspective and never ever trust the biggest headlines. Again: the revolution will not be televised.

Race: it’s not something you can win by being the tortoise in a world of selfish and ignorant hares. Everyone is different and diversity is a spectacular gift that we all share. We all must accept each other’s differences and appreciate the beauty of being unique. Be the change you want to see in the world. Do not tolerate ignorance or hate. Be a good example for new generations. Do the best you can to fight the good fight in the name of peace, acceptance, freedom and above all else love.

The featured image is a painting by Cat, inspired by the events at Ferguson.

1096001_la-lutte-contre-lantisemitisme-renforcee-web-tete-0204180502942

“Indeed, both Jews and Arabs are the Children of Abraham; Jews descended from his second son Isaac (peace be on him) and Arabs from the first son Ishmael (peace be on him). To Moses, God Almighty revealed the Torah, as He revealed to Jesus (peace be on him) the Gospel.” – Shahul Hameed, onislam.net

Some very tragic events took place over the past few weeks. Several people were killed in a Kosher supermarket in the suburbs of Paris. A shooting took place around a synagogue in Copenhagen. Following these, a video titled “10 Hours of Walking in Paris as a Jew” appeared, which, considering the neo-conservative ties of the journalist who shot the video, was a nothing more than a PR stunt for those who absolutely want to promote the Aliyah of European Jews.

And the tragic news kept on coming. A Jordanian pilot slain by ISIS, increased ISIS presence in Libya, the murder of three Muslims in Chapel Hill, the ongoing civil war in Syria, and the ever-present situation in Gaza… The only glimmer of hope came from Oslo this weekend, where Muslims and Jews joined hands in a very mediatized show of solidarity. In the face of all this madness and insanity, some have responded with even more madness and insanity.

marine-le-pen

The witch hunt that started in France against those were identified as “enemies of secularism,” and the birth of “radical” secularism – which in fact isn’t secularism at all, but just xenophobia in disguise –  are just a couple of examples of the “madness” that is in the air. The madness culminated in its apex yesterday in a report by the president of le Conseil répresentatif des institutions juifs de France (CRIF). In the report, the supposed voice of the majority of French Jews stated that Marine LePen – the leader of the fascist Front National, the most anti-Jewish of all French political parties – was herself irreproachable, that the only problems were caused by “some members of the FN,” and that, in fact, most violence perpetrated against the French Jewish community were the acts of “Young Muslims.”

Recently, the so-called peak in ‘extremist religious’ violence has allowed “anti-terrorism” legislations to be passed throughout the world, at the cost of civil liberties and of democratic rights. On the other hand, this violence has also empowered fascistic sections of Canadian and Quebecois society, allowing bigoted and xenophobic discourses to go unopposed, and garner mainstream coverage.

The same has happened within the Jewish community, as well. The violence perpetrated against people of Jewish descent, or of Jewish faith, has empowered a scary xenophobic discourse, which doesn’t draw a line between Islamism and Islam; between a fundamentalist minority that receives much more attention than the fundamentalist segments of other religions, and the overwhelming peaceful majority of Muslims. On the 70th anniversary of the Shoah, of the liberation of Auschwitz, we must stand firm against such kind of discourse – it’s a moral duty.

Pro-JDL-rally-2011-
French Jewish Defense League activists demonstrating in Paris, 2011. (Ligue de Defense Juive)

 

This, in no way, excuses anti-Jewish discourse or actions – they are despicable and must be fought. But those who perpetuate the most prevalent anti-Jewish discourse today, claim to to be the defender of our faith, and consider themselves the sole voice of the Jewish people. The political consequences of this is slowly showing itself, even here in Montreal, not more than a few blocks away from where I am writing this piece. The Jewish Defense League (JDL), considered to be a terrorist organization by Israel, the EU and the United States, and whose slogan, ironically, is “never again” has set up shop in Montreal this past week. To those in the JDL who stress the motto “never again” and the need to “defend the Jewish community from the Islamist threat” I have but one thing to say: The antisemitism of the 1930s and 1940s is the Islamophobia of today, and if we really want “never again” to be more than a slogan, we must fight discrimination against any and every minority. We must fight discrimination in every shape and form.

The JDL’s discourse and the true notion of “never again” are antithetical. “Never again” is a universal call for tolerance, acceptance, solidarity, peace, and, most importantly, resilience against the horrors of xenophobia. Thus, if we truly want to follow the creed of “never again,” we must make sure we fight the presence of the JDL. We must fight all those who resort to a discourse that uses violence as a justification to perpetuate even more violence, that tries to justify one form of racism with yet another. It’s a discourse of hatred that disseminates itself in the disguise of religion, or of some higher moral ground, or in the drapes of secularism. It’s a discourse that is prevalent within the neoconservative movement across the globe right now. It’s a discourse that is at the backbone of the hatred that fuels ISIS, and other such Islamist organizations. It’s the ideological foundation of fascism and of fascist movements. It’s this discourse that links them all together.

We are all sisters and brothers. Either we fight together, or we will perish together as fools!

A luta continua.