I need to take my place in the revolution.

“It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me and I’m Feelin Good”

-Miss Nina Simone

I feel like shit to be honest. What does it matter? The world is about to end. All of the post apocalyptic sci-fi movies are coming to fruition. The evil dictator is in place and the people will rise after the world burns and society as we know it is overthrown.

My heart is overgrown, split ends, over bleached, and arid dry. Like the acid sky, what does it matter if I cry? Again I choose the path of positivity, moving forward, crossing things off the bucket list. I need to do me, right? NO!

It’s Black History month in the darkest time of our current social climate. I want to be there to fight for freedom and acknowledgement of hate, I want to stop the white power bullshit that raised this country to the open levels of bigotry we see today. I can’t even stop my best friend from being racist.

America the beautiful was built on the destruction of Indigenous people and slavery. Immigrants came next, but it started with human bondage, then it was a safe haven, and not much has changed.

It has just gotten worse. Strange fruit and hate fueled power struggles and world poverty. More people care about celebrities and gossip than real world issues or the idea that people and animals are suffering while we live posh lives on the internet.

My people are all Gay, they are Transgender, they are non conforming, they are Native American, they are Black, they are Muslim, they are atheist, they are butch, they are femme, they are anarchists, they are addicted, they are homeless, they are vegan, they are white people who are trying to break the cycle. They are all ages, they are sex workers, they are on food stamps, they pay rent, they don’t get paid enough and work too many hours, and they are all slaves to the system built to fail us.

I sit here with EAT THE RICH written in eye liner on my belly, dreaming of gas masks and pink tear gas. I once painted a version of Marie Antoinette with a gas mask. This is it, our reality is that we have a war to fight, we can’t just let them eat cake! I assure you, nothing about me is fake.

Or is it? I am only human. Human means flawed by nature, and not in a catholic guilt original sin way either. Imperfections make us beautiful. That also means there is a dark to every light. There is a good happening to suppress evil as we sit here contemplating the existence of both.

From this moment, our numbness from over stimulation mass sensory overload outnumbers us. It closes in on us. It interrupts us like shitty commercials. I always knew twitter was creepy. We want a leader not a creepy tweeter was one of my favorite women’s march chants.

I yearn for a silence echoing inside the roots of my strange deepness, a vacant soul on a transient descent. The train has left the yard, next stop salvation.

Why can’t adults just take naps? For me it’s not a nap. I will spend the whole day in bed and waste the light, then go out and party all night. I may not even drink, but usually do.

It’s just a craving for company. Not even in a miserable way, just in more of a we are stronger together way. I need collaboration. I know that I cannot change this world without you.

I should relish in my singledom. I can pick up and go to Mardi Gras if I want, only a 24 hour drive away. I’ve been a temptress for so long, just floating through life without a care in the world. Now it crumbles and I need to stand up.

I tend to zone out and get disconnected from reality for a moment. I watch porn when I should be watching the Young Turks. I scan Facebook when I should be out on the street protesting or having a conversation with the human next to me.

Is it weird that I have dinner with my folks twice a week at age 30? Going to a hockey game with my dad tonight, now tainted because I know the owner of the Buffalo Sabres (Terry Pegula) got his money from FRACKING.

Our Earth and water are more important than any money or sports team. I just want to spend some quality time with my dad. Having a conscience means being conscious about where your money goes.

I want to only be ethical. Other people are having children. I will get a dog. I would have to move, get a new place, buy my own house.

I would love to live in the country. No wifi. No connection to the outside world. I would feel so much more connected to nature and not the devices that rule us all.

I need my furry family, I need a solace, someone to help me fight back but not lose myself in the battle. I want to date a vegan. Musician/artist necessary. Gender/race does not matter.

Think happy thoughts. Painting, riding my tricycle, doing my hair and makeup, dressing in drag, vegan cuisine, letting my friends borrow clothes, smoking bongs, things made out of recycled things, going on adventures with the most down people, nature and natural wonders, waterfalls, art, music, musicians.

I love my kittens. There is a reason why the Egyptians worshipped cats. So cute, cuddly, and protective. I do love life, I know I come from a privilege not known to everyone, and that means I need to step up and stop being greedy.

Things I hate: Coughing so hard from hitting the bong that you pee a little. Getting up to pee and somebody is in the bathroom. When people throw out/waste food. The fact that women make less than men for the same job. The fact that donald trump has been in office for a week and the world burns, pipelines, oil, greed, orange tans.

Sometimes I cry because I have psoriasis or because I am fat. I feel unlovable, like I am hiding behind my smile, head in the clouds, not what I seem, much more deviant, but not sure how.

I am a sensitive artist. What good do my pictures really do? Do my performances matter? Yes! Even if people hate, they can relate. I can be the worst version of humanity (trump drag/Cock Sinclair) or a vision of pure loveliness veiled in makeup and fishnet, bound by a corset and all of society’s expectations, ruled by old men in suits and misguided evil rich women.

I really wanted to write something non political this week but it is all consuming. The ban on immigrants is immoral and disgusting. Pushing forward the Dakota Pipeline is also inhumane and disrespecting mother earth and the indigenous people’s land.

Water IS Life. Not in Flint Michigan or the Buffalo Public Schools, it’s second rate there. This is like the movie/comic Tank Girl. Buffalo’s freshwater is so important for the apocalypse. Great lakes, great spot, like the wet spot on the sheets that Trump had a Russian hooker piss on in the name of freedom.

Dripping in gold or rust you must wake up and shake off the nonsense. Every voice counts. Be heard.

In the week since t-bag took over a lot has already changed. The pipeline will chug on, a wall will be constructed, funding for the arts is gone, legal safe abortion is threatened, media block on the EPA to hide climate change, it’s acceptable and legal to discriminate against gays, people in important positions are jumping ship and everyone that trump puts in is more evil than the last.

He is plotting evil as you read this. More and more rights are going to be stripped from us. We must stand up to this. Scientists put the clock one minute closer to impending doom.

Washington DC had a very dystopian feel, it was so foggy that you could not see the penis tip of the Washington Monument. Inauguration Day meant broken glass on the streets of DC. Starbucks, bank, and McDonalds windows smashed like the patriarchy itself. A limo burned.

Protesters were greeted with a wallowing pink smoke, tear gas, mace burned, and ears rang from flash cannons. It was a strange feeling.

Impending doom and the need for empowerment. We all must organize and resist.

The time is right now to make a difference and show the world that this asshole does not represent the silent majority. Riot gear is more than a pink knitted pussy cat hat.

I hope the women in pink hats taking selfies saw this and were changed. Step one is getting off of the internet and out into the streets. Then real change must happen.

People of privilege need to get called out and then call out others like them. I am an a white woman and I carried a vagina sign, I am now ashamed of that, not because I have a vagina, but because not ALL women have them.

I was not marching for white vaginas, I was marching for ALL women. Intersectional feminism requires us to stand up in solidarity for all. When we are inclusive but still blind it actually adds to the problem. Showing up but not listening. Trans women, Non binary humans, Black women, Muslim women, Immigrant women, Disabled women, Single Mothers, Mother Earth, Rape Victims, Sex Workers, and everyone who needs love all deserve to feel safe. All of these humans need to be protected from the evil afoot.

I was upset with all of the Angela Davis quote signs out there and these girls didn’t even know that she was speaking right over to the left of them. She was just a sign that was on the internet.

Too busy taking selfies to actually hear the words written on your sign, too busy celebrating yourself to give a hand to those who need lifting up, and too white washed to see the problem.

It is a privilege to even go to Washington DC and march. Many women cannot just take off of work and go. I was sad that I didn’t get there a day earlier for the big gay rave in front of Daddy Pence’s house.

I will be there in June when the gays march. Rainbows will take over! Can’t stop, won’t stop.

I was disgusted to hear that a group of women that are water protectors on the front line of the Dakota Access Pipeline were treated like pieces of selfie meat. People took photos of them but did not listen about their struggle or even take a pamphlet.

The struggle is real, it is not a hashtag. People are being brutalized and mother earth is being raped for money and power. DO NOT OBJECTIFY THEM for Facebook likes!

The first woman I met was 62, from California. She said to my friends and I that she was here for us and our future. She had been fighting her entire life and would die trying to make this world better.

She inspired me, in her 60s she started climbing mountains because why not? She was sick of society telling her not to do things and told us to always do what we dream and take action.

Life goes by fast, we only have a short time to make things better for the next generation. She was brave and beautiful.

On the flip side an older woman came up to me and told me I was a distraction and that I should be ashamed of myself because I was topless. I told her I respected her as a woman but did not agree.

I am empowered and I wish to inspire others to be the same. There needed to be more breasts out at the woman’s march. This should be a safe place to feel confident about yourself and not hide behind what society wants from you.

Well behaved women seldom make history is a sign I saw and something I agree with wholeheartedly. I will not put my breasts away for you Missy.

The whole event kind of felt like Facebook in real life, censorship and all. I even saw straight up memes printed out on signs. You take the meme from the internet then but it on a sign and take a picture of it, just to post it back on the internet, like a TV within a TV. You cannot carry a sign without carrying the burden of hate.

Signs are all well and good but don’t really mean shit. You need direct actions behind those words.

I was also pretty turned off by the fact that people weren’t even paying attention to both sides of their signs. One protester carried a sign that said FEDEX on the back, both sides are advertising bro, always think of both sides of every sign or argument.

There were llamas there marching too, which is wrong! The poor creatures were scared. Do not abuse an animal for your agenda! This is a protest, think!

I was also turned off by the fact that there were a zillion pussy signs and no toilet paper to be had, so everyone is there with a dirty pussy. The revolution needs more toilet paper and access to tampons etc. I want to be a vag warrior and hand out tp and tampons to all women. Also I will include a zine about inclusion and loving and supporting our transgender sisters.

During the Women’s March two trump (he does not get the capitol T) supporters walked by. One of the men dropped a button with trump’s face on it, then continued walking on.

My friend pulled the button in with her foot and started to stomp it. Within a second it seemed that one of the men came back. He literally pushed my friend to the ground to get her off of the button. I instantly ran to her side and into his face. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? You have the audacity to push down a woman at a fucking women’s march?

All of my aggression and screaming did not turn a single head, no woman came to help. The only person who did approach me was an older woman who just kept saying ‘love trumps hate’.

In retrospect I should have fucking nailed him. Getting arrested wearing nothing but rainbow and wielding a rubber fist would have made me a hero. I know that fighting hate with more hate is not the answer, but when he was walking away he said “Nice tits!” THEY ARE NOT FOR YOUR ENJOYMENT!

We need to call people like this out and stand up against violence and oppression. I think every woman needs to start carrying a rape whistle again, so people notice you when you are in trouble.

While the pink hats did get women out, they need to get more involved and know that getting out once is not enough. We all need to criticize our own activism.

Do not question why BLACK LIVES MATTER is being chanted at a women’s march! Do not destroy Mother Earth by littering your signs and hats on the ground. You should be saving those signs to use again for the next rally. Always keep fighting.

Yes we need to fight for our reproductive rights and equality for all in pay and opportunity, but don’t forget about climate change, the fact that water is life, and war is always looming over us too. Global issues affect all humans.

The Women’s March was a worldwide gathering of the goddesses! Women and feminist men took to the streets and spoke out against oppression and hate. It was truly monumental. It must become a movement, it must keep strong.

We must support all of the efforts of our community and work together to prevent a meltdown. I expect to see pink hats at the next Black Lives Matter event, or at the #NODAPL rally, or to fight against Muslim registries or Immigration blocks. This country and world needs all of us to be accountable and brave.

There was a girl on a light post with a megaphone leading chants and giving out info. Someone asked her if she was an organizer, she said “No, someone just gave me a microphone!” BE THAT GIRL! Take charge of the moment and be the change.

I felt like I could become President, that it needed to be one of us and NOT one of them! No more politicians! No more businessmen! We need to be informed, educated, and strong together.

My rubber fist said FILTHY AND PROUD, I will never be silenced. My voice will spark the revolution in harmony with the war cries of a million of my sisters. Daily direct action wins. Nobody can stop us.

* All Photos in this post by Kat Whitefield from the Buffalo Forum and The Voice of Revolution Newspaper

“The government’s response to the recommendations of the commission is, thus far, unsatisfactory,” concluded the first report of the public monitoring committee on the Charbonneau Commission.

One year after the commission ended, only 15 of its 60 recommendations have been implemented “in a satisfying manner.” Nine have been partially followed and 36 have yet to be responded to. “The government must do better,” urged committee member Martine Valois in a press release.

The committee looks harshly upon Quebec’s approach to two of Charbonneau’s leading recommendations.

The first is the creation of an independent authority to regulate the management of public contracts. The Autorité des marches publics (AMP), as defined by bill 108, “will have neither the independence nor the powers and functions necessary to act effectively,” states the report.

The committee still supports the creation of the AMP. However, it denounced the limited scope of its functions and its lack of coercive powers. It further asserted that the method for selecting the director endangers the AMP’s independence.

The committee also criticised bill 87, sold to the public as significant protection for whistle-blowers. The bill already caused controversy by not covering municipal nor private sector employees and encouraging internal denunciation instead of transparency.  This bill and other measures intended to regulate the professional workplace “clearly do not go far enough,” the committee estimated.

The government’s best effort was in the area of cleaning up political financing. They fulfilled 8 out the 12 recommendations in that regard.

This is mainly a result of bills 83 and 101, adopted in June. Thanks to those, party chiefs and MNAs are increasingly forced to take responsibility for their team’s financing practices. Also, loans to politicians must now be under $5000 at the municipal level and under $25 000 at the provincial level.

The public monitoring committee for the Charbonneau Commission is a popular initiative. It has seven official members from various backgrounds, including Westmount Mayor Peter Trent and ex Liberal MNA Gilles Ouimet. Three professors, one ex-researcher of the Charbonneau Commission and the president of Transparency International Canada also sit with them. It will produce a second follow-up report on November 23rd 2017.

When ex-Minister Natalie Normandeau was arrested last March, the Couillard administration had declared its strong commitment to implementing Charbonneau’s recommendations. Members of the cabinet have not yet reacted to the follow-up report.

In this podcast, panelists Ellana Blacher, Cem Ertekin and Vincent Simboli discuss for one last time the Presidential Elections happening in the US, the spoken word scene in Montréal, the Dakota Access Pipeline and more in our News Roundup segment. Plus the Community Calendar and Predictions!

Host: Jason C. McLean

Producer: Hannah Besseau
Production Assistant: Enzo Sabbagha


Ellana Blacher aka Joy Low-Key: Spoken Word Artist and FTB Contributor

Vincent Simboli: FTB Contributor

Cem Ertekin: FTB Managing Editor


*US Election Report by Hannah Besseau



Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lack of popular support?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Featured image by Adam Scotti

In this new podcast, panelists Vincent Simboli, Casey Rosner and Velma Candyass discuss the new breed specific regulation on dogs , the latest presidential debates in the US  and more in our News Roundup segment. Plus the Community Calendar and Predictions!

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


Vincent Simboli: FTB Contributor

Casey Rosner: FTB Contributor

Velma Candyass: Producer and star of the Candyass Cabaret


*Pit Bull and US Debate Reports by Hannah Besseau

Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

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


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

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.


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.

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


Cem Ertekin: FTB Managing Editor

Casey Rosner: FTB Contributor


*Reports by Hannah Besseau

Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

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


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

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


Cem Ertekin : FTB Managing Editor

Josh Davidson: FTB Food Columnist


*Reports by Hannah Besseau

Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

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


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

This week will go down in history as the week in which our Canadian government discovered the solution to climate change: an increase in CO2 emissions will save the planet! The brilliant idea  is that the growth of the oil and gas sector will pay for our Green Transition. 

Climate Change shenanigans were all a problem of perspective. For so many years we were just looking at it the wrong way. It’s now obvious that the biggest polluters in the world were just asking for a concrete way to contribute and a listening ear.

Thankfully our new prime minister was capable of enlightening us all, and bridging public and private interests together. After all, it’s a known fact that problems are always best resolved by the initiative and the savvy of the private sector.

Case in point, one of the biggest problems multinational Canadian mining and energy corporations were confronted with was named Berta Cáceres, a renowned political leader and Honduran environmental activist. Her struggle to uphold indigenous rights, to put a hold on the destruction and pillage of Honduras, was put to a brutal end this week.

In this case the ingenuity, the constant push for innovation, private initiative and all those buzzwords at the heart of what makes the private sector the most competent problem solver, were missing. Apparently within the entrepreneurial world , simplicity is virtue: hire a bunch of thugs to ransack the person’s house, use the centuries old technique of cold steal and assassinate a dissenting voice in cold blood. Problem solved.

Although the death of Berta Cáceres, her activism and the struggle she ultimately gave her life for, unfolded thousands of kilometers from Canada, her death couldn’t be closer to home. The implications of her life struggle and its brutal end weigh heavily on the Canadian government and Canadian foreign policy.

Her blood indelibly stains Canada’s conscience, like the deaths of so many other activists killed in the name of private interests. First of all, it was Canadian corporate interests that she was at odds with and campaigned against.

The role of the previous Harper administration in the Honduran coup which ousted Manuel Zelaya, who was in favor of redrawing jurisdiction around foreign mining interests in the country, is unclear. One thing is certain, though: Canadian multinational companies have benefited the most from the trade deal that was signed between the military junta and the Canadian government in 2014.

Careces’s death and struggle sheds light on the unbearable lightness and lethal naïvité manifest in the idea that Climate Change is merely a “scientific” problem. This enables the idea that with the right equations, calculations, mechanisms put forward by the private sector the question of Climate Change will be resolved.

The abstraction of the talk about climate change revolving around targets and fancy conferences, with standing ovations, blueprints filled with buzzwords like “incentives” and “corporate solutions” and “private sector initiatives” omits the most important factor of climate change: its inherent violence. Climate change when disembedded from the social and geopolitical factors is seen at a fraction of its face value, as a scientific phenomenon, at best an environmental process, but not as a whole, as an environmental process that enables and fosters a social and geopolitical process.

The violent death of Berta Careces and the 100 plus deaths of environmental activists in Latin America, Africa and Asia are the figurative manifestations of the violence inherent to Climate Change. We know that indigenous communities and populations within the “global south” will be tenfold affected by the disasters brought about by environmental deregulation. It is also embodied by large scale violence employed in the commodification of resources and diverse natural environments.

Yet the discourse of Trudeau & co, of the COP 21 and similar conferences, sanitizes the horrific violence that is at the heart of Climate Change. It creates an unintelligible discourse that silences and ostracizes the voices of those most affected by it.

This “scientific” discourse that sees Climate Change merely as a warming of few degrees here and there, a rise in sea levels, a destruction of ecosystems, doesn’t take notice of the underlying social-historical structures, systemic racism and neocolonialism that make the bed for Climate Change as an environmental phenomenon to exist.

Without tackling the power structures that feed-off Climate Change: neocolonialism, racism, imperialism, there will be no solution.

The vision Trudeau champions, that the private sector offers the best solution to climate change, is the direct cause of Berta Cáceres’ death and the death of several hundred environmental activists and entire communities throughout the globe.

Justice for Berta Cáceres! protest in Washington, DC (image by Slowking4 via WikiMedia Commons)
Justice for Berta Cáceres! protest in Washington, DC (image by Slowking4 via WikiMedia Commons)

The private sector solution to Climate Change is that of giving a price to nature. The idea is as simple as it is flawed: a price tag to everything in nature, to the natural beauty of beach, the existence of species, the natural habitat of an indigenous community, will somehow help to preserve it.

This opens the door to the commodification of nature which allows for speculation, the creation of derivatives and other innovative financial products. Ultimately the usefulness, the value, of a given ecosystem or a species or the livelihood of a community, of a culture will be determined by how it fairs on the stock exchange.

This idea of “price tagging” nature coexists alongside two other private sector innovations: cap and trade, which relies on the dispossession on a massive scale of communities within the global south to function and the continued pillage of resources to satisfy the cult of perpetual and masturbatory growth.

As long as the cult of growth is upheld, so will the constant commodification of all living things, the massive disenfranchisement and continued violence, the continued mobilization of neocolonial, racist and imperialist attitudes and ideologies be upheld as well. A poignant example is the racist rhetoric used by the “decayists” of pseudo-intellectual European right, towards Syrian refugees.

In Disaster Apartheid: A World of Green Zones and Red Zones, the last chapter of The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein refers to the idea that the neoliberal shock doctrine is reshaping the world in its image, dicing up the world into Green Zones (reference to the Green Zone in Baghdad) and Red Zones. There’s a relationship of domination between these zones; for Green Zones to exist there must be Red Zones.

For Canada and the rest of the “global north” to theorize a way to salvage the capitalist system and the cult of growth, many more Berta Cáceres’ must die. For the corporate Green Transition to work, the disenfranchisement of First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities within Canada must continue, the denial of their rights to auto-determination must be upheld.

Cáceres’ blood wasn’t shed in vain. Like the hundreds of environmental activists that have died before her, Cáceres knew that within the struggle against Climate Change exists the extraordinary potential to dissolve the toxic power structures, the structures of domination, of oppression, that are the biggest polluters in the history of humanity.

* Featured image: GoldmanPrize.org

As a migrant, I’ve started to think about the concept of ‘belonging.’ I never truly felt like I belonged to any particular piece of land. Similarly, I never thought of myself as ‘entitled’ to any land. And before I go any further, don’t worry. I will not say anything about ‘feeling like a world citizen.’ This is not what I have in mind.

Belonging, in the sense of holding a nationality, is a strange concept. If you think about it, you will realize that it’s very arbitrary. Some people are born in Canada, others are born in Russia, yet others are born in Turkey. This is a spatial concept of nationality, in which it is implied that you are meant to spend your life where you were born. No one really explains why.

Is it not absurd, though? Let’s take Canada, for instance. All humans born in Canada are called Canadians. I’ll just skip the question asking why that’s the case. Instead, let’s ask: “Since when is this so?”

Many of you know that Canada was not even a thing until July 1, 1867. Before that, the various provinces that make up Canada today were colonies of the British Empire. Then on Canada Day, Canada became a country. United forever, all of its citizens proud bearers of the adjective: “Canadian.”

Is it that simple though? Especially in the case of a settler colonial country. The name “Canada” is not necessarily what the Indigenous peoples call this land that Canadians call “ours.” The adjective “Canadian” is certainly not what they call themselves.

Fireworks Canada Day
Canada Day fireworks (image Blixt A. via Flickr Creative Commons)

Unfortunately, I cannot claim to be an expert on the semantics of Canadianness. I would, however, like to get you to start thinking about it. As far as I’m concerned, I want to talk about migration and belonging. I bring up the colonial history of Canada for that very reason.

Before Canada, before Britain, before Europeans, there were people living on this land. Through the cunning use of treaties, this land was converted into a political entity, which, in turn, authorized itself with the right to give away citizenships. Long story short, any European settler who came to this New World was an expatriate, or simply put, a migrant.

Unless you are an Indigenous person, you are a migrant on this land – just like I am. But still, because you were probably born here, you are Canadian and I am not. Absurd isn’t it?

I’ve been studying in Canada for the past three years. That also means that I’ve been living here for three years. I’ve been experiencing this land just like any other Canadian – and in fact, I’m probably more Canadian than a three-year-old baby whose parents are Canadians. Yet still, that’s not the case.

There’s something missing in this analysis – or whatever it is that you would like to call this. You see, nothing can prevent me from feeling Canadian if I so darn please. I can freely feel like I belong here, if I so desire. But that means nothing!

Canada is a country and a political entity, not the land it happens to occupy. If the borders of this political entity were placed elsewhere, then that place would be Canada. This political entity has the monopoly over the power to give away citizenships and declare nationalities. It is because of this political entity that a three-year-old baby born to Canadians is Canadian and I am not.

A political entity does not care about feelings. It does not care about historical context. It does not care whether it’s right or wrong. It cares about legitimacy and legality. What determines the legitimacy and legality of a political entity? Curiously enough, it itself does that job. It declares that it is the legitimate representative of Canadians and that it has the legal power to determine who gets to be Canadian.

“But that’s what countries are supposed to do – that’s literally how the current world system works!” Interesting, isn’t it? Surely, this system was once based on the idea that communities should have the inherent right to decide who gets to live with them. But the current world system, as my strawperson has so eloquently put it, is not really a system of communities. A community implies intimacy – a country can hardly be an intimate being.

If intimacy was still a thing in the current world system, I’d be able to go be a contributing member of the community – you know, pay taxes, join the labour force, do community service – and then I’d be declared a bonafide Canadian. But because the current world system is based on countries I have to jump through so many loops. I have to have myself declared legitimate and appeal to appropriate legal customs in order to become Canadian.

My point is, when you’re celebrating Canada Day, make sure you distinguish the land from the country, and the community from the state. Most of us are migrants on this land; but some of us have more rights than others. Why should I allow some artificial entity tell me whether or not I belong here? Why should I have to pamper some artificial entity to grant me acceptance?

Happy early Canada Day everyone.

La Coalition opposée à la tarification et à la privatisation des services publics has declared this week a week of action. More than 15 demonstrations will take place in the Greater Montréal area alone. As they say on their Facebook page, The Non Aux Hausses coalition invites everyone, everywhere to join in on the demonstrations against the austerity measures of the Liberal government.

Today is already the second day of actions. Yesterday at Place Émilie Gamelin, at least 500 people attended the gathering held by the teachers, protesting the Liberal government’s austerity measures. The main point was the state of the education system and how the Liberals are leaving it into shambles. There was also interventions from social groups on how the recent measures are directly affecting the welfare of the poorest in our society and especially women. The speakers also indicated that today’s action was but a shadow of things to come with actions to be taken on a weekly and even daily basis throughout the province.

The event closed off with a march accompanied by the SPVM intervention squad.

Click on the image below to see a gallery of photos from Sunday’s event. All photography by Gerry Lauzon.

Anti-Austerity Teacher Protest

Today’s Anti-Austerity Demonstration

Today at 11:30, a group of protesters occupied the offices of the Bankers Association of Canada in downtown Montreal. The protesters met at McGill College and Sherbrooke, and walked towards Place Montreal Trust. The protest lasted roughly an hour.

More manifs to come in the next three days

Check out this poster below for to see what else to expect this week. If this is what folk are planning for this week only, it looks like Spring 2015 promises to be anything but boring.

When sections of a website are labelled “Entitlement Princess of the Month” and “13 reasons women lie about being raped”, it’s usually easy to tell the website belongs to an angry internet troll – someone who never leaves their house and whose opinion no one gives much thought to. Unfortunately Mike Buchanan is no anonymous troll.

Buchanan is, in fact, a UK writer and conservative politician, who previously worked as a consultant for the Tory government. Not surprisingly Buchanan quit in 2009, when British Prime Minister David Cameron announced support for an all-female parliamentary candidate shortlist. Since then Buchanan has devoted himself to being a men’s rights advocate, founding the political party “Justice for Men and Boys (And the women who love them)” in 2013.

Researching Buchanan quickly becomes infuriating. Not because he claims to fight for the rights of men and boys. It’s infuriating because Buchanan is a hypocrite. Buchanan continuously argues online and in the media that feminism is nothing more than a hate-filled ideology. But Buchanan then uses his Justice for Men and Boys website as a personal arena to attack and belittle women.

A quick scan of the J4mb website shows that Buchanan posts emails from the type of fans that compare feminists to dogs. Buchanan argues in his party’s election manifesto that more women in the workplace have collectively ruined pretty much every industry in the UK including medicine, education and policing. He even declares that female genital mutilation  has less impact on women then circumcision does on men.

The law in the UK forbids all forms of female genital mutilation – FGM – including those which have less impact on females, than male genital mutilation – MGM – has on males. FGM is justifiably regarded as a human rights issue, and the law makes no accommodation for religious or cultural considerations.”

Statements like these (and much, much more) are just on the J4mb website. Buchanan has also written three books on anti-feminism including The Glass Ceiling Delusion: The Real Reason Women don’t Reach Senior Positions (spoiler alert: it’s all a conspiracy orchestrated by militant feminists). But the twice-divorced Buchanan insists he’s not a misogynist. “Insinuations of misogyny invariably come in the wake of my presentations of reasoned arguments,” Buchanan writes on his website.

Buchanan’s idea of proving he’s not a misogynist includes praising the website “Women against Feminism.” He congratulates these women on their “independent minds” as oppose to “miserable whine merchant” feminists. His comments begs the question has Buchanan actually read the website WAF?

Because as I pointed out in my last post, while many WAF posters don’t want the stigma of being called a feminist, they do in fact support many of the same issues feminists do. Could it be that Buchanan is grasping at straws to make his points that he’ll simply praise anything that claims to be against feminism?

Buchanan’s ideals are especially troubling in regards to his political ambitions. The Justice for Men and Boys party is currently running for three seats in the May 2015 general election in Nottingham, England. Effective political leaders need to work towards the good of everyone in their community, not a narrow-minded view of what the right kind of people are. While it’s hopefully doubtful anyone in the J4mb will be elected, it’s important for Nottingham voters to be reminded on some of issues Buchanan will be running on the following topics.

Rape: The manifesto declares that the allowed time for abortions should be cut down from 24 to 13 weeks. It makes compensations for abortions when the woman’s physical health is at risk, but not mental health.  So who cares if you were raped or the victim of incest, have an unwanted child already.

Women should be held morally accountable for the children they conceive… There’s no evidence to support the thesis that abortion reduces the risk to mental health of women with an unwanted pregnancy, and clinical trials to investigate the matter would, of course, be highly unethical.”

Education: Gender stereotypes on the types of careers men and women should have need to be enforced, and how dare the British government try and encourage otherwise!

“We also take issue with governments continuing to spend large amounts of taxpayers’ money ‘encouraging’girls and young women into STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine) subjects and careers. These subjects were historically the routes to careers for many young men, yet the government is spending £30 million ‘encouraging’ women into engineering careers, although women have for decades expressed little interest in engineering as a career choice.”

Family: The entire notion of family has been ruined by feminism. Feminists are destroying fatherhood, and women are solely to blame for society’s high divorce rate. All these feminists family-destroyers really want to do is use our sperm and become lesbians.

“In only forty years or so, the entire institution of the family, underpinned by a lifelong commitment to marriage, has been overturned. This was driven by feminist politicians such as Harriet Harman and Patricia Hewitt […] Divorce is at an all-time high, having increased by 800% since 19603 and almost half of all children now see their parents break up by the time they are 15 […] Furthermore, women are the principal agents in ending their marriages – at more than three times the rate men are. Fatherhood is deemed unnecessary by the state, so taxpayers are subsidizing sperm banks for single women and lesbians.”

All this being said, Buchanan does bring up certain points that I agree with. Raising awareness and helping prevent male suicide, supporting male victims of domestic and sexual abuse, creating more balanced custody arrangements after divorce, and ending stigma around homelessness are all issues of Buchanan’s that I support. But where he loses my respect is when he twists each of his arguments around to demonstrate how things were just fine under a patriarchal society, and feminism has subsequently managed to ruin it.

That’s when Buchanan becomes less of an activist, and more of a man who’s upset about more women becoming doctors, women who have abortions after the mental trauma of being raped, or single women deciding to have a child without a father. Instead of Buchanan, let’s praise real activists and politicians in the UK who fight for HUMAN rights. And for god’s sake don’t vote Buchanan into office.