In light of the recent #MeToo Movement, several radio stations removed the duet Baby It’s Cold Outside, a holiday classic, from rotation. Some, like the CBC, later added it back.

Critics consider it inappropriate and suggestive of date rape because of a line the woman has: “Say, what’s in this drink?” If you are familiar with the early 1940s, when the song was written, you will realize that was said as part of harmless banter.

Things were simpler, people were nicer, and conservative morals reinforcing the stereotype of the good (chaste) girl were ever-present. Most people who were courting did not end their nights in bed together unless they were married, to do otherwise broke a social taboo.

So, it is really sad that the song is being perceived in any way but innocent and sweet banter between two lovers. Banning it is ludicrous, especially considering what other songs we have playing on the radio today.

If this song is banned, then half of the playlist should be banned too. Eminem’s Guilty Conscience, Robbin Thicke’s Blurred Lines, Eminem and Rihanna’s Love The Way You Lie, Jay Z’s 99 Problems and many other songs that convey mistreatment of women in one way or another still play with no protest to ban them.

It’s truly sad that a beautiful song that was written in the 40s as romantic flirtatious banter can be put through such scrutiny and judged by today’s standards while songs written a few years ago aren’t.

It is true that violence against women is an issue that needs to be exposed and spoken about on a more regular basis, but removing a holiday classic from radio play is not the way to go about it. Especially since there are far worse songs out there than Baby its Cold Outside.

November 20, 2018, can be seen as a sad day in the US and for women around the world in the fight against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). A US federal judge Bernard Friedman ruled against banning a practice that harms millions of young women globally.

His ruling found a 1996 US federal law banning FGM unconstitutional, allowing the two doctors charged under it to go free. This can only be seen as a great defeat for the millions of young girls and women who have suffered due to this harmful act.

Female Genital Mutilation is the act of changing or altering the female genitals for non-medical reasons but rather cultural ones. However, it is seen across the globe as a violation of human rights against girls and young women alike .

FGM, or Female Circumcision as it is also called, is a practice that goes back thousands of years in many countries, communities and in many cultures around the world. When it started is unknown, but the root of it is to control female sexuality, conception and to continue to build a strong inequality between both sexes.

FGM/C may differ depending on the countries and regions but the results are still the same. Women are subjected to a lifetime of problems regarding their physical and mental health. Many lose their desire for sexual pleasure, have complex deliveries often resulting in Cesarean section; along with a number of different medical problems, that may arise from the use of unsterilized equipment. This practice can have serious complications leading to the death of some young girls and women as a result.

There are many types of FGM/C; but there are three forms most often practiced:

The first consist of the partial or total removal of the clitoris and the prepuce. The circumciser pulls the clitoral glans with her thumb to remove it.

The second form is complete or partial removal of the inner labia and clitoris. The clitoris is the organ that allows the female to enjoy pleasure during sexual activities.

The final form, which is considered to be the most severe of the three, is the removal of the total female genitalia. Once done, the vagina is then sewed closed with the exception of a hole often the size of a pencil tip for the passage of menstruation and urination.

Not only is the act rather harsh, but girls and young women are more likely to get infections and countless other problems because of unsterilized equipment. They are often faced with diseases such as fistula and numerous other disorders and infections.

It is estimated that between 125-150 million young women have been subjected to this practice. It happens all over the world, though predominately in African countries.

Although, FGM/C can be harmful to a women’s health not all women would like for this practice to end. Some people in many countries and regions where this act is practiced consider it a rite of passage or a celebration of coming of age for young women.

FGM/C is sometimes compared to male circumcision. Male Circumcision is the act in which the male foreskin that is covering the head of the penis is removed from the male penis.

Both of these customs can cause physical and mental pain and a lifetime of complications. However the female version of this custom is deemed, by many, to be much more severe because, unlike their male counterparts, many females who have this procedure done never experience sexual pleasure or any sensation other than pain in their vaginal area.

The males that are circumcised can experience sexual sensation and any pain they feel usually dissolves after a while. Whereas many females who have experienced the procedure have a lifetime of pain and complications. Some women who experience this procedure feel as though they are missing part of their body.

In many countries and regions where the act of FGM/C has become illegal, there are classes and lectures on the consequence of FGM/C. When young women attend these classes, they are becoming educated on the severity of this practice.

Unfortunately, not all young women have a choice in this matter. This is why the recent US ruling on FGM/C can be seen as a sad one and as a step backwards especially since organizations such as UNICEF, Plan Canada and numerous others are working tirelessly to educate communities where FGM/C is still practiced about the effects on young girls and women around the world.

* Featured image by World Bank Photo Collection via Flickr Creative Commons

Unemployment in Quebec is the lowest it’s been in forty years. Despite this, Quebec has a massive labour shortage and it’s only getting worse.

The baby boomers are retiring in ever increasing numbers and they and the generations that followed didn’t have enough children to fill the vacancies they leave behind. The newly elected Coalition Avenir du Québec (CAQ) does not feel that immigration is the answer, but business owners in Quebec see no other way out.

As stated in my previous article, the jobs that need to be filled in Quebec fall into two categories: survival jobs – defined here as low paying jobs that require little experience or education i.e call centers, retail, etc., and highly skilled workers. It is the latter category that I will be discussing today, specifically with regards to one major obstacle in the filling of skilled jobs: the recognition of foreign credentials and work experience in Quebec.

The employers in Quebec wanting skilled workers are not looking for anyone with any university degree. They are looking for people with specific degrees, skillsets, and certifications.

Rather than bring in more skilled people to fill the labour shortage, the CAQ wants to cut immigration to Quebec by twenty percent and make use of people already here. The problem is not just that Quebec is lacking in skilled workers, it’s also that the skilled immigrants we have cannot get their work experience, education, and other credentials recognized so they can fill those jobs.

It’s a huge problem in Quebec, with many immigrants overqualified, underemployed and unable to find jobs in their respective fields. During the recent election, the concerns of recent immigrants lay in the fact that the best jobs they could get were survival jobs like working in call centers.

All parties in the election recognized the issue and the fact that many immigrants opt to leave the province because of it. Within ten years of their arrival, many immigrants leave Quebec.

Provincial governments have always treated the problem as a language issue, but that’s only part of it. To fully succeed in the Quebec job market, you need to speak French, but as it stands, lessons are primarily offered in classroom settings which don’t work for new arrivals needing steady incomes to feed their families. This is only part of the problem because many immigrants to Quebec are French speakers from North African countries like Tunisia.

The Quebec government does offer services other than French classes to help skilled immigrants. One such initiative is the website qualficationsquebec.com.

Created with funding from the province’s Immigration Ministry, it’s a quick way to see if your qualifications will be recognized in Quebec and if they are not, what you need to do to work in your profession. Unfortunately, the website is mostly in French and clicking on the English option at the top of the page will only get you a phone number to a career counsellor.

If you can manage in French, here’s how it works: type in your profession and click the search icon. You will then have the option to enter information about your age, sex, whether you’re currently in the province, and where you got the education related to your profession, a step you can skip. It will then bring you to a page indicating the likelihood of getting a job, a link to the possible annual salary, and what professional orders you have to join.

Professional orders act as gatekeepers to many of the skilled professions in Quebec and can pose a major barrier to immigrants working in their fields. Without membership in said orders, engineers, registered nurses, appraisers, chartered accountants and many other skilled professionals from abroad cannot work in their fields in Quebec. Membership is not easily accessible, and requests to have your education and credentials recognized by an order are often costly.

Quebec’s Order of Charter Appraisers, for example, charges a $200 fee for the evaluation of your credentials. And that’s only after you get a Comparative Evaluation for Studies done outside Quebec.

This is an assessment provided by a government expert at Immigration Quebec comparing your education to similar degrees obtained in the province. The Evaluation fee is $170 and does not guarantee you a job even if your education is deemed equivalent to a Quebec education, and only works for certain professions.

For those learning French, access to the orders can be even more difficult. Though the Ordre des infirmières/infirmiers du Québec (OIIQ), the province’s nursing union, allows applicants to write their entrance exams in English, the union came under fire in 2015 for the poor quality of the exam’s English translation. This resulted in a 47.3% pass rate for those writing in English, compared with the 78.7% pass rate for those who wrote the exam in French.

This reporter spoke to a Filipino nurse who arrived in Canada in the late sixties seeking a better life. She was able to join the OIIQ and worked for over 25 years before retiring. She had some choice words about the Ordre des infirmières/infirmiers du Quebec.

“They’re racists,” she said.

Which brings us to the other barrier facing skilled immigrants looking for work in Quebec: discrimination. Discrimination does not necessarily refer to overt acts of racism. Most employers know that openly discriminating against anyone can have serious legal consequences.

That said, the province still has people like Abdul Waheed, a chemist from Pakistan who told the CBC in September of this year that despite sending out hundreds of CVs, he could only get a job in a call center. Though we have tons of skilled immigrants, employers are still showing a preference for applicants with Francophone or Anglophone names, a likely result of the fear of change immigrants may or may not bring to Quebec language and culture.

The CAQ has promised to make skilled professions more accessible to the immigrants we have, but they cannot do it alone. The professional orders and government bodies in charge of recognizing the skills of immigrants need to work together and to do it faster. If they don’t, the labour shortage will get worse and they’ll have only themselves to blame.

After being infamously evicted from his St. Laurent Boulevard location by his landlord last October, Terry Westcott has re-opened his jewel of a bookstore, the Librairie T. Westcott.

The revived store is in the St. Hubert Plaza, a bustling shopping area that promises to provide a new community of devotees for the beloved old landmark. The address is 6792 St. Hubert, and its accessible location – halfway between the Jean-Talon and the Beaubien metro stations – makes it an easy destination for bibliophiles. (ED’s Note: Yes, we know the area is currently under construction, but even in Montreal, that won’t last forever)

“It’s a good location, it’s a nice long store,” Terry says, “and I have the same number of bookcases I had before.” The space is indeed long and narrow – actually quite a bit longer than the previous store – and perfect for housing Mr. Westcott’s extensive collection.

Not so long ago, on a bleak and rainy day, I’d been a grim witness to the effects of rising rents, as a chunk of the 20 000-volume Westcott collection was carted away by a 1-800-GOT-JUNK dump truck for recycling. I asked Terry how much of his collection he’d been able to save.

“There are certain sections I’ve had to rebuild – my Latin American history section, my Jewish History section, my travel books, my Chinese History, my Russian History.” But, after 25 years, he’s not starting over from scratch.

Most of his treasured collection survived the purge. Concerned about his wide-ranging science fiction section, I was relieved to discover it was intact, although still packed up.

Did he have any misgivings about opening an English bookstore in a largely francophone part of town?

“Oh, I looked around,” he explains. “The problem with NDG, for example on Monkland, or in Verdun – they’re busy on the weekends but they’re slow during the week because those are mostly residential areas. People are at work. Children are at school. So on weekdays it’s very quiet. But St Hubert Plaza is quite crowded, seven days a week. That’s what a bookshop needs to survive. And of course it’s much busier on the weekends.”

Terry adds: “There are a lot of people moving over to the Petit-Patrie from the Plateau. Everything’s so expensive over there and so things are shifting over here.”

I wonder how it seems to be working out so far, considering the preponderance of English in the store. Terry is upbeat.

“A lot of French people are glad to have an English bookshop [in the area],” he says. “There are two French book stores down the street – a Renaud-Bray and Librairie Raffin– and there’s also a second-hand bookshop, Parenthèse. Most people in the Montreal area that read are fluently bilingual. So they’re happy to get an English bookshop. This is their chance to get a lot of English books, and also publications like Indiana University Press or South Georgia University Press that are never going to be translated into French.”

As before, Terry will no doubt make use of every square foot in the store, where the books were organized by subject and piled almost to the ceiling. Finding what you wanted was sometimes a challenge, as well as a balancing act, but Terry seemed to always know what he had, or at least, where it was likely to be found if he had it.

I express my relief that he didn’t have to retire and spend his days watching golf on TV, something he’d contemplated during the demise of the old shop. Instead, he’s now looking forward to having his bookshop become a new community hub again, like it was in the old location on St. Laurent.

Then I notice a photo of an impressive feline on the wall. Terry denies that it’s there as a reminder of his previous cat companions Emma (as in Jane Austen) and Eliot (as in T.S.) who had the run of the place.

“It’s a Florida panther,” he explains, “and they’re endangered. So I leave it up there so people can see…. He’s got a very intelligent look on his face. No deception: ‘I am what I am.’”

Whether deliberate or not, there couldn’t be a more apt metaphor for Terry Westcott and his resilient bookstore. While some see bookstores as endangered, Terry is steadfast in his chosen occupation.

He is what he is – and so as long as there are people with a passion for books, Terry Westcott and his Librairie will serve a vibrant new community of readers.

* Photos by Dan Svatek

Considering the dreamy climate and the friendly culture in the Land of Down Under, there’s no better way to explore this incredible continent than to backpack across its rural and urban hotspots. What makes this way of traveling even more appealing is that you’ll make unplanned stops, meet numerous people from all over the globe, and come across such breathtaking vistas that you’ll inevitably want to return. However, such an endeavor comes with a hefty price tag, even for the most experienced explorers among you.

While certain lifestyle habits will differ from one person to another, and thus alter the final price of the trip, you can make certain changes to your travel routine without sacrificing any of your travel comfort. In fact, many of these budget-saving travel tips will increase the level of travel satisfaction and provide you with a new perspective of this land!

Be accommodation-smart

Bungalows in Tasmania, Pixabay

Since Australia is known to be rather pricey in terms of private accommodation options, you might want to consider something less conventional than a hotel or a motel room. Living in cities such as Sydney or Melbourne is particularly expensive, while more rural areas are significantly more acceptable in terms of their pricing. Plan ahead and do some research on your best couch-surfing options, as well as camping areas, especially if you’re traveling during summer (which is during winter for the rest of us in the Northern Hemisphere).

You can come across camping areas which are completely free of charge, while others come with a more than reasonable overnight fee. Other frugal options include housesitting, which may limit your movements in an area, but you can at least have your rent covered by the fee you’re paid. For hard workers among you, staying on local farms and working for your room is another popular option which will get you immersed in the local life and provide you with a roof over your head!

Simplify your habits

You may be accustomed to traveling by plane inside the country as well, especially since Australia is truly vast, but this is as pricey as it is convenient. For the sake of your budget, you may want to consider less expensive options, such as using the local buses (trains are also pricey), while car shares are becoming more popular, and you can always rent a van or a car with your backpacking companions to share the expenses. Booking in advance also often means a discount for the regular last-minute price, so make sure to book as early as possible and plan your routes beforehand.

Another common expense on the list of many travelers is bottled water, since most of us come to a new country not having a clue if the local water is suitable or safe to consume. Luckily for you, Australia’s tap water is perfectly safe and you can bring your own reusable drink bottles instead of wasting cash on plastic ones, which are not just pricey, but also harmful for the environment. Opt for the ones that are insulated so that your water can stay cool and fresh, and refill them as you travel through the country!

Restructure your menu


Restaurant & Street Food in Australia, Pixabay

Foodies, beware, because Aussies are famous for their love for coffee and all things culinary, whether local or international. You’ll find that most of their restaurants offer a variety of local delicacies mixed with international influences, and you can certainly take your pick from fresh groceries on the farmers’ markets and eateries alike. However, your budget-friendly approach should be based mostly on eating home-cooked meals, although an occasional takeaway dinner cannot hurt.

What you should really pay close attention to is your alcohol intake, since the prices can be quite high, and it’s truly not worth it. You can use the same amount of money to cover a day of your eating expenses with fresh food. If you have a store in your vicinity, head to Woolworths or Coles, both of which have considerably lower prices than their competitors. For the duration of your stay, it’s best to stick to a DIY meal plan!

Work on the go

By far the best and the easiest way to cut your expenses significantly and to cover a portion of your travel budget is to put in some work during your explorations. However, make sure that you choose the right line of work in order to adapt your travel plans – if you decide to work online, check if your destinations have ample Wi-Fi spots with a reliable connection.

You can make arrangements well before your travel date, with the local hostels, farms, and cafés, as most of them offer seasonal, part-time work which can come in handy for someone like you. Digital freelancing is a great way to supplement your travel budget, especially if you’re proficient in English, which opens up a whole world of teaching opportunities in the Asian market.

Learn about freebies

Trams in Melbourne, Pixabay

Finally, Australia is quite a generous country. You’ll come across so many free activities, galleries, museums, festivals, and events that you’ll most likely be able to fill your entire schedule with those alone.

The Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney not only has an abundance of exhibitions for you to visit, but also free movie nights, music recitals, as well as workshops you can enjoy. All it takes is a bit of research, and you can always talk to the friendly locals and learn about those less advertised events that might be more to your liking.

Yes, winter is coming, but this spring, Canadians will be able to legally stream Game of Thrones without a cable subscription. Crave (formerly Crave TV), Bell Media’s Netflix competitor, just added an extended package that includes all HBO and Showtime content, including new episodes and a feature called On Air that allows you to watch shows from those networks as they air on TV before they show up in the on demand menu.

You have to get the basic Crave subscription at $9.95 a month and then add the extended package for another monthly $9.95, so $20 a month plus tax for HBO and Showtime, plus a bunch of recent movies (including what looks like all of last year’s Best Picture nominees), shows like Star Trek Discovery, and original content like Letterkenny. There’s even a very interesting back catalog with classic sitcoms like Cheers, but no Night Court…like c’mon, someone pick up Night Court, please. 

It’s currently available on computers and mobile devices and will be available on Samsung Smnart TVs, Apple TV and other platforms as of November 15th. From the looks of it, it’s a better deal than Netflix.

While I’m clearly gleefully plugging this product, this article is not sponsored content, but rather rare editorial praise for Bell Media from a frequent critic. It looks like they have finally embraced the way a good chunk of the population consume TV and have stopped trying to push an old model on those who clearly don’t want it.

Even as HBO made all of their content available, with no strings attached, through their GO app in the US a few years ago, Bell, which owns the Canadian rights, refused to see the light. Sure, they made an app, too, called TMN GO, but you had to get a cable or satellite TV package first and then subscribe to HBO Canada on TV before you could pay the ten or so bucks for it.

So basically, in a lot of cases, the choice was pay over $100 a month on top of the cost of an internet connection to watch one show or risk getting an angry letter for illegally downloading it. Yes, HBO is much more than GOT, but that show’s the hook for people living in a post-cable world.

Bell was effectively ignoring a potentially huge market that they could easily get with no risk of losing the cable and satellite market they already have as a result. My friend’s parents who have been paying for a satellite package and HBO for years aren’t going to cut the cord just because the same content is now available in another format.

Meanwhile, people who don’t give Bell Media any money but still consume the content might be inclined to pay and go legit if presented with a reasonable offer and become customers Bell wouldn’t have any other way. Now, it looks like Bell Media has finally accepted and embraced that fact.

This will only help them promote original content, too, as it will now be running on the same platform as really popular shows. Come for Game of Thrones, stay for Letterkenny.

The future is an internet subscription and two to four streaming services. With the Crave expansion, Bell Media clearly wants a part of that future. Now if only they could add Night Court.

When I was growing up in the eighties and nineties, I was taught that I had to get an education and that it didn’t matter what I studied so long as I got a DEC and a Bachelor’s degree. This seems to be the narrative Gen Xers and Yers were fed, and many of us went into debt trying to get that coveted degree that would allegedly guarantee us a job when we were ready to enter the market.

Sadly, the reality we encountered was very different when we started looking for work in the early 2000s. Employers questioned us on our degrees and why we chose to study a given subject. Unlike previous eras, many were unwilling to give us on-the-job training that would compensate for any specialized education, and many of us went back to school and into more debt hoping get another degree that would get us a job with a modicum of financial stability.

In spite of how highly educated many of us are, Canada, and especially Quebec, is suffering from a massive labour shortage. This article is going to discuss the labour shortage and why it has happened. Next week I will be going over the controversial issue of the recognition of foreign degrees and qualifications in Quebec.

Quebec needs workers.

During the Quebec election, Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume called for more immigration to fill the 17 000 jobs on the north and south shores of the city, telling the CBC he didn’t see any other way to find people for them. In October 2018, Montreal Board of Trade President Michel Leblanc expressed concern over the Coalition Avenir du Québec (CAQ) government’s plan to cut the number of immigrants saying “we need to have more.”

The newly-elected CAQ wants to cut immigration to Quebec by twenty percent – a clear indication that they feel the solution to the labour shortage is not to bring in more people from abroad. Their platform includes encouraging older workers to stay active as long as possible to address the fact that jobs are not being filled at the rate that the baby boomers are retiring. The boomers did not have as many children as their parents did and the result is fewer native-born people in the labour market.

The CAQ also wants to enhance vocational and technical training programs to fill labour market needs and offer more job-study programs. Whether the labour of students in job-study programs would be paid or not remains to be seen, but it must be addressed as people cannot live on “learning experience” and many young people are reluctant to do them because they cannot pay for living expenses at the same time. Another idea the CAQ has put forward is that of encouraging cooperation between businesses and universities to better tailor education programs to business needs.

Part of the labour problem lies in the mismatch between the degrees people in Quebec are getting and the jobs available. One of the clearest indications of this is the employment offered at Montreal’s most recent job fair.

On October 24th and 25th, 2018, JobBoom.com hosted a massive job fair at the Palais des Congrès in Montreal. The employers present were calling for two types of employees. On the one hand you had businesses calling for highly specialized workers like nurses, accident assessment specialists, engineers, chartered appraisers, accountants, industrial security and safety specialists and so on. On the other hand were employers calling for what my generation was taught were “survival jobs” such as retail, security guarding, telemarketing, customer service, and administrative support.

Employers wanting specialized workers are not seeking people with any old Bachelor’s degree or DEC, but rather people with specific degrees, certifications, and even memberships to professional orders. While there is demand for chartered appraisers, for example, in order to become one in Quebec you need a Bachelor of Commerce with a concentration in real estate, followed by a yearlong internship, interview, and entrance exam, all of which come with their own sets of tuition fees, stage fees, and administration and exam costs. This likely means copious amounts of debt given wage stagnation for survival jobs.

For the purposes of this article, I’m going to define a survival job as a low paying job in which little experience or education is required. Many born in Canada were taught that survival jobs were meant to be temporary – the kinds of jobs you took to get by until you found a job that fit your education and career aspirations given the low pay and the often mindless, unfulfilling nature of the work.

It must be said that there is no shame in working a survival job. Many of us do not have the luxury of being choosy in employment due to our financial situation and anyone who depends on us for the income we earn. The only thing that’s really shameful about a survival job is how impossible it is to actually survive on the wages they pay due to wage stagnation in Canada. They are also generally the kinds of jobs that immigrants are most willing to fill due to the adjustment period following their arrival as well as the difficulties having their education and credentials recognized in Quebec.

In conclusion, there are jobs to be had in Quebec, lots of them. If you want to invest in higher education to get a good job, in today’s market you need to be very specific about what you study and make sure the program you choose fits a job in demand. If you need to work to survive, there are jobs for that too; they probably won’t be very fulfilling but you might scrape by. Go get ’em!

* Featured image by Brenda Gottsabend, Creative Commons

Recreational cannabis is now officially legal across Canada. We are the second North American country to do this, with Mexico having decriminalized marijuana for personal use in small amounts in an attempt cut back on drug violence. It must be said that legalization should not be taken as an invitation to smoke weed more often, and that while recreational use is legal, it is not without restrictions.

I’m here to help.

This article is a brief crash course on the legalization of cannabis and how it will be implemented in Quebec. Other provinces have set their own rules so if you’re reading this from outside of Quebec, you’d best contact the local government about it or give it a google.

The new laws divide cannabis into two categories: cannabis and illicit cannabis.

Illicit cannabis is cannabis is that is sold, produced, imported, or distributed by anyone not allowed to do so under the federal Cannabis Act and corresponding provincial acts. In Quebec, it is the Société Québécoise du Cannabis (SQDC), a subsidiary of the Société des Alcools du Québec (SAQ), that can legally sell marijuana and marijuana products in Quebec.

They open their first 12 stores at 10am today (in Montreal people have been lining up since 4am) and have already started selling online. They have three strains for sale: indica, sativa and hybrid. They won’t be advertising their products in the window as advertising cannabis products remains illegal.

The SDAQ website has a list of all locations across Quebec and the three Montreal locations are:

  • 970 Ste-Catherine Ouest (near Peel downtown)
  • 9250 Boulevard de l’Acadie (near Marché Centrale)
  • 6872 St-Hubert (in Rosemont-La Petite Patrie)

Private dealers’ activities will continue to be illegal under the new law. While the legal stores will offer dry bud, oils, pre-rolled joints, oral sprays, as well as pills, they will not be offering edibles. Prices will start at five dollars and fifty cents in order to be competitive with the black market.

Though the federal law says that it is legal to possess and cultivate up to four cannabis plants for personal use, in Quebec it is illegal and carries a fine between two hundred and fifty and seven hundred and fifty dollars. This is undoubtedly a measure to ensure the Province’s monopoly on sale and distribution.

As of midnight, it is legal to possess up to 30 grams of legal cannabis or cannabis products in public. The government measures these amounts according the weight of dried cannabis.

The federal government has published a list indicating what a gram of dried cannabis would be equivalent to in other products:

  • 5 grams of fresh cannabis
  • 15 grams of edible product
  • 70 grams of liquid product
  • 0.25 grams of concentrates (solid or liquid)
  • 1 cannabis plant seed

In private residences it is legal to possess up to 150 grams of cannabis – once again using a measure of dried cannabis as a reference to determine amounts. This maximum applies regardless of how many people are living in the residence at any given time. That means that if you are, for example, living with three other roommates, you are legally only allowed total of 150 grams in the household, amounting to 37.5 grams each if you were divide the cannabis evenly between you.

If you were living alone, that 150 could legally be all yours. However, the law also says that you cannot have that amount in multiple residences, meaning that the maximum you would be allowed to possess stays at 150 grams regardless of whether or not you have multiple homes.

Anyone who exceeds the 150 gram limit is looking at fines ranging from $250-$750. Similar fines are in place for possession of cannabis on the premises of educational institutions and childcare and daycare centers, though there is an exception for student residences at college-level institutions.

Minors cannot legally possess or distribute cannabis and there will be strict penalties for people caught selling or giving it to them. In Quebec, the age of majority is 18 years old (in many other provinces it’s 19). Cannabis has to be stored in a place that is not easily accessible to minors. Minors caught in possession or giving cannabis are liable to a fine of $100.

With regards to where you can smoke it, the rules are similar to those for cigarettes. There is no smoking on the grounds of health and social services buildings, on the grounds of post-secondary schools, and places where activities for minors are provided, with an exception in the latter if activities are in a private residence.

It is also illegal to smoke it in most enclosed public spaces, the common areas of residential buildings containing two or more dwellings, private seniors’ homes, palliative care facilities, and tourist accommodation establishments. Smoking marijuana is also illegal in restaurants and other places offering meals for money, casinos, public transportation, and in the workplace unless said workplace is in a private residence.

Anyone who breaks these rules is looking at fines ranging from $500 to $2250.

There are, however, exceptions, as health and social services centers, seniors’ homes, and palliative care facilities can set up enclosed rooms for the purposes of smoking cannabis. Same goes for the common areas of private residences containing two or more dwellings.

Cannabis is officially legal now Amidst all the celebrations, remember the rules.

The Quebec elections are over and we are about to have a new government. People fed up with Philippe Couillard and wary of the sovereigntist messages of Québec Solidaire and the Parti Québécois took their votes elsewhere, putting François Legault and his party, Coalition Avenir du Québec (CAQ), in office.

Many people are scared, and they have every reason to be. The CAQ ran on an aggressively secularist, anti-immigration, right-wing nationalist (within Canada) platform.

The day after the election, people’s worst fears were confirmed when Legault announced that he would use the Canadian constitution’s Notwithstanding Clause to bar civil servants from wearing religious symbols. To use a popular Quebecois expression, ça commence ben mal (we’re off to a bad start).

For all those in despair, I want to give reasons to hope. This article will look at a couple of the CAQ’s more controversial policies, the legality of them, and the ways we can fight back within the system.

Immigration

One of François Legault’s most controversial statements during the election was that he would expel any immigrants Quebec that failed to pass a French and “Quebec Values” test within three years of their arrival.

Here’s the thing: Quebec cannot legally do that.

The decision on whether or not to expel immigrants is federal jurisdiction. This is not to say that Quebec has no discretion in matters of immigration. One of the ways people can immigrate to Canada is via Quebec’s immigration programs such as Quebec Skilled Worker, Quebec Investor, or Quebec Experience, all of which have limits set by the provincial government on how many people they are willing to accept.

These programs do not guarantee you permanent residence (PR). Once you have a Quebec certificate via one of these programs, you can apply for permanent residence.

The application for PR will be assessed by a federal Citizenship and Immigration (CIC) officer and they get the final say as to whether or not you get permanent residency, not Quebec. It is also the CIC that has sole jurisdiction to issue expulsion orders.

Notwithstanding Clause

As previously stated, François Legault announced on Tuesday that he would be willing to invoke the Notwithstanding Clause to ban government employees from wearing religious symbols. In Quebec, that would apply to everyone from teachers to doctors to public transit workers, cops, and civil servants.

It should be said that if the new government is truly committed to secularism, they need to take down all the crosses in public buildings, a gruelling and expensive task given Quebec’s history with the Catholic Church. It must also be said that their rules should include forbidding anyone in civil service from wearing a cross or crucifix.

Fortunately for people whose faith dictates the wearing of visible symbols, the Notwithstanding Clause is not the magical failsafe Islamaphobes and anti-Semites seem to think it is and it will not allow a government to do what it wants indefinitely.

The Notwithstanding Clause is Section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It says:

“Parliament or the legislature of a province may expressly declare in an Act of Parliament or of the legislature, as the case may be, that the Act or a provision thereof shall operate notwithstanding a provision included in section 2 or sections 7 to 15 of this Charter.”

Section 2 of the Charter deals with freedom of religion, freedom of expression and the press, and freedom of association and peaceful assembly. Sections 7 to 15 deal with such rights as “life, liberty, and security of the person” and protection from arbitrary detention, search and seizures, and other rights in criminal and penal proceedings.

Most importantly in this case, article 15 entrenches the right to equality before and under the law “without discrimination and in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, or mental or physical disability.”

The Notwithstanding Clause allows governments to keep a law in place that violates these rights provided they expressly declare that the legislation in question applies notwithstanding the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

This declaration by a government would not apply indefinitely. According to paragraph three of the Clause, said declaration “will cease to have effect five years after it comes into force or such earlier date as may be specified in the declaration.”

There is good reason for this entrenched delay.

The Notwithstanding Clause is generally applied by provincial governments in the face of the courts striking down controversial legislation on constitutional grounds. The five-year delay allows said governments to rework the law so it conforms with the Charter in cases where the courts do not give them such a delay.

Quebec, for example, used the Clause to keep Bill 101 in place after the Supreme Court struck it down, using the five years to rewrite the law to fit the Charter. Once the five years is up, the government can choose to re-enact a declaration as per the Clause and the delay restarts.

That said, there is a catch, because guess what else happens every four to five years? Elections.

Using the Notwithstanding Clause is a hugely unpopular move. Canadians have embraced The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as a way of using the courts to protect them from, for example, xenophobic laws enacted by governments.

A legal challenge to Bill 62, the law enacted by the Liberals barring the wearing of religious symbols by government employees and people using government services, is currently underway and will likely be struck down by the courts. The CAQ can use the Notwithstanding Clause to keep the law in place if they wish, but it might cost them a second term.

The CAQ officially take office once Quebec’s Lieutenant Governor, J. Michel Doyon swears them in and names François Legault as our Premier. Many of us are scared and angry so let’s turn this anger into action and use our power as the people to curb their worst ideas.

* Featured image of François Legault on election night via YouTube

Dawn McSweeney has been writing for years: short stories, poetry, even some journalistic pieces for this very site. Now, she has finished and published her first novel, The Mountains We Climb By Accident.

“The story lent itself to the length of a novel,” McSweeney said in a phone interview, “I started writing it with the hopes that it would be a book, but I’ve done that before and they don’t always get there. This one did.”

McSweeney did try self-publishing once before, back in the early 2000s, which meant actually paying for paper and doing it yourself. She finds that now there is much more opportunity for authors to get their work our there, but, of course, there are limitations.

“There’s no support, there’s no net, there’s no person who is the expert who is guiding this whole ship, it’s kind of like ‘here are some words, I hope they stick’,” she observed, while also noting that her daughter’s friend got her book as an Amazon recommendation, so “maybe there is a fair shot to be had.”

Location may have played a part in that recommendation as McSweeney’s book is set in Montreal, which, as she puts it “not enough” are. This choice was, in part, because it’s what she knows, but also due to some of the unique aspects of life in our city.

“People tell me that in other places they don’t use parks the way that we do.  We treat a park like a beach and  lay out in a way that in other cities maybe they don’t,” the Montreal born and raised author observed, noting  that “the things we take for granted and just process every day are actually flavourful experiences that are site-specific.”

McSweeney grew up thinking that if you set your story in Canada, it will be considered just a Canadian story, without the prospect of getting traction internationally. However, she now feels that a Montreal story is different.

“We’re OG hipster in that way,” she observes, “we have that caché of a very small space that we have injected so much personality into.”

Family relations also play a big part in her story, too. And one planned plot point was unexpectedly mirrored in McSweeney’s own life as she was completing the book.

“I didn’t plan for that to happen,” McSweeney observed, “and it was strange to be writing about that concurrently.”

The Mountains We Climb By Accident follows its central character Talia from the present day, to a few years prior, to her childhood, then back to a few years ago, then back to the present, then to her teenage years and so on. It reads like several short stories woven together thematically rather than chronologically.

McSweeney says she chose this structure to better emulate how a person actually thinks:

“We are just a collection of our disjointed experiences,” she explained, “they are all each a chapter and are all each a separate narrative. You can remember something from your childhood so poignantly and then completely forget a conversation you had last week. One becomes the afterthought and one becomes the centerpiece memory. Sometimes I struggle to write something in a straight line because that’s not how it feels when I experience it.”

You can experience this unique narrative structure and a story based in Montreal right now.

The Mountains We Climb By Accident by Dawn McSweeney is available now in paperback and can be pre-ordered as an e-Book

It is an unspoken truth that anyone who chooses not to live as a hermit is going to have to deal with neighbors.

Young people know them as the grouchy old people who call the cops on all their parties. Old people often see them as a source of noise. In the best cases, people can live next door or in the same neighborhood or building without ever having to involve a landlord, a lawyer, or the cops.

This article is not about that. I am here to talk about the worst neighbor behavior.

Ideally you should always confront an offending neighbor and try to settle things amicably. If you are afraid of going about your daily life due to their behavior, it’s time to swallow any fear about confrontation and speak to them.

If that fails, here are some common neighbor problems and what to do about them. Please note that the municipal laws mentioned are strictly for Montreal, so if you live elsewhere, you will have to consult your own city’s bylaws for some of these.

Noise

It should be said that not all noise complaints are valid. If you live near a commercial street with bars, clubs, theatres, or restaurants, you should expect a fair amount of noise around your home.

It must also be said that some people phone in noise complaints for purely vindictive reasons because they’ve decided they don’t like their neighbors and want to make it impossible for them to entertain guests or listen to music in their homes. Take comfort in the fact that people who make those kinds of complaints do so often and are unlikely to be taken seriously by police.

If you call 311 – the City of Montreal’s information hotline – they’ll tell you that you cannot make a noise complaint between 7 am and 11 pm. Unfortunately, that’s not true, so be prepared to argue about it.

Most municipal bylaws assess noise complaints based on a question of reasonability.

Let’s say a rich neighbor is making cosmetic renovations to the outside of his home, the work has been going on every day from eight am to six pm for over a month and the workers aren’t using any sort of muffling equipment on their noisy machinery. That’s clearly an unreasonable amount of noise. Call 911 and complain. They’ll send the cops to put your selfish neighbor in their place.

Now imagine living in an apartment building where your upstairs neighbor sings opera loudly late at night and it’s lovely… But only if you’re a horny cat seeking a mate. If you can’t get them to quiet down directly, speak to your landlord. As a tenant you are entitled to “peaceable enjoyment of the premises” and an extremely noisy neighbor would violate that.

To make sure your landlord gets notice of the problem, you may have to send them a formal letter via registered mail (be sure to keep the receipt for the Rental Board). In said letter, give the landlord a reasonable amount of time to fix the problem – say eight days.

If your landlord refuses to deal with it and the matter is serious enough, you can take action with the Quebec Rental Board, which generally rules in favor of tenants. They can force your landlord to reduce your rent, let you claim damages from the landlord, or in the worst case, cancel your lease.

Before phoning in a complaint, ask yourself if the complaint is reasonable and consider the consequences. Some complaints against businesses can result in fines that can ultimately destroy them. A tragic example is Divan Orange, a beloved showbar in the Plateau that had to close its doors when the fines it incurred because of noise complaints from neighbors crushed it financially.

Harassment, Peeping, and Other Privacy and Safety Violations

This is a problem that particularly affects women, people of colour, and sexual and religious minorities. Neighbors can make your life a living hell if they find you sexually attractive or have some idiotic and highly toxic notions about your people. Fortunately, in Canada there’s more than one way to address the problem.

Take the case of Elie El-Chakieh and Hellen Christodoulou, a couple of engineers who moved into a home in Laval. Initially their relationship with their neighbor, Daniel Noel, was civil, but it quickly devolved over mutual complaints of bylaw violations. Instead of handling things like an adult, Noel’s behavior quickly became toxic and he began engaging in racial harassment against El-Chakieh, who is of Lebanese descent.

Noel also accused El-Chakieh of spousal abuse, and of being a pedophile. He called the RCMP and immigration to find out the couple’s immigration status, and even contacted their professional orders and academic institutions to try and discredit them professionally.

El-Chakieh and Christodoulou decided to sue. On April 22, 2018, a Superior Court judge ordered Noel to pay them $50 000 in damages, calling his behavior “low, vile and repugnant.”

That said, suing isn’t your only option. You can also file a complaint with the Quebec Human Rights Commission which is charged – along with the Human Rights Tribunal – with enforcing the Quebec Charter of Rights. If your neighbor is hurling slurs at you and engaging in other harassment based on your race, religion, or gender, give the Commission a call and file a complaint. If they think your complaint is serious enough they’ll launch their own investigation and possibly bring your case to the Tribunal to seek “any appropriate measure against the person or to demand, in favour of the victim, any measure it considers appropriate at that time.” (section 80 of the Quebec Charter).

Now let’s say you have a neighbor who constantly makes lewd comments about you, asks invasive inappropriate questions about personal matters, peeps into your windows, or has a creepy tendency to always be nearby when you leave or come home.

If you’re a woman living alone, you have every reason to consider this kind of behavior to be a threat to your safety. Fortunately, the behavior falls under the Criminal Code’s definition of harassment which can include:

  • Following you from place to place
  • Repeatedly communicating with you directly or indirectly, or communicating with people who know you
  • Watching your dwelling or place where you work, carry on business or happen to be

If a neighbor does this, call the police. Keep track of any proof you can. If he sends texts or emails, save them. Film him watching you. Take photos of him peeping. If convicted, the neighbor in question is facing at least six months in jail or a five thousand dollar fine, and at most ten years in prison.

Property Disputes

Property disputes can be summed up with two words: land and money.

Let’s say you have a neighbor who is stubbornly claiming that their property line ends fifty feet onto what you believe is yours.

The solution? Hire a surveyor.

A land surveyor will check public records and maps to confirm the correct property lines and for an extra fee they’ll put down stakes or a button in the land indicating the boundary between each property. Feel free to claim half the surveyor’s fee from your neighbor.

Which brings us to money disputes, which often come in the form of arguments about shared expenses, such as that of hiring a land surveyor, or clearing snow from a shared driveway. The solution: hire a lawyer and let them tough it out with your neighbor.

If the money your neighbor is claiming is less than fifteen thousand dollars, you can fight it out in small claims court. The clerk of the Court of Quebec now offers a service either by phone or in person to assist people to preparing to face off in small claims.

In an ideal world, neighbors would be the kind who bring you soup when you’re sick and always have milk and sugar to lend you in a pinch. In the real world you need to remember that you have legal ways to nip the worst neighbor behavior in the bud. Use them when you need them.

Free trade is a pet topic of protesters across North America, and with good cause. Those in favor of it point to the reduction of trade barriers as improving economies that allow for greater access to inexpensive goods. Those against it point out that it destroys local businesses and industries as well as mom and pop shops loved by communities who abandon them in favor of cheaper goods and services. Though Canada seems very much in favor of free trade, many of our industries such as dairy rely on protectionist policies imposed by the government to keep them alive.

The notion of free trade has been in the news lately not just because of the Orange Misogynist’s blathering about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the US, Canada, and Mexico, but also with regards to a recent Supreme Court decision on interprovincial trade. Before I go into the decision itself, we must discuss how the case got to the Supreme Court.

Gerard Comeau is a resident of New Brunswick who lives not far from the border to Quebec. In October 2012, he drove across the border into our fair province and stocked up on liquor from three different stores. Booze, as it turns out, is pricier in New Brunswick and Comeau decided he would save some money by buying elsewhere.

There was, however, a problem.

New Brunswick’s Liquor Control Act has a limit on how much alcohol you can buy out of province. Their law makes it an offense to “have or keep liquor” above a certain amount that was purchased from a Canadian source other than the New Brunswick Liquor Corporation, the New Brunswick equivalent of the Société des Alcools du Québec (SAQ).

The RCMP in the New Brunswick town on the border were concerned about the number of residents often going to liquor stores in Quebec in breach of the law. With the help of their counterparts in Quebec, they started keeping track of New Brunswickans doing so.

One of these people was Gerard Comeau.

On his way back from an October 2012 trip to buy booze in Quebec, he was stopped by the RCMP. The cops found large quantities of beer and spirits in excess of what the law allowed. Comeau was charged under the New Brunswick Liquor Control Act and was issued a fine of two hundred and forty dollars plus administrative fees. Comeau in turn decided to fight it, arguing that the provision of the Liquor Code was unconstitutional.

The Constitution Act of 1867 was written with a lot of considerations in mind. Before confederation, Canada was just a bunch of separate British colonies. As separate colonies they all had powers to impose tariffs on goods brought into one colony from another.

The country was being formed as the United States was going through the Civil War and there were concerns about the economic effects of the war on the new Dominion of Canada. One of the ways the fathers of confederation sought to solve this is by adding section 121 to the constitution. It is on the basis of this provision that Gerard Comeau decided to fight his fine.

Section 121 of the Constitution Act of 1867 says:

“All Articles of the Growth, Produce, or Manufacture of any one of the Provinces shall, from and after the Union, be admitted free into each of the other Provinces.”

Comeau and his legal team argued that the penal provision of the Liquor Control Act under which he was charged violates this provision of the constitution. To back up this argument, a historian was brought in to discuss why section 121 was included in the Constitution Act of 1867, formerly known as the British North America Act.

With the help of this historian who acted as expert for the defense, Comeau argued that section 121 was basically a free trade provision and therefore “no barriers can be erected to impede the passage of goods across provincial boundaries”. The trial judge agreed and acquitted him. The Crown appealed but the appeal was dismissed, so the Attorney General of New Brunswick as well as the Attorney Generals across Canada appealed to the Supreme Court.

The question the Supreme Court was charged with was whether section 121 of Constitution Act of 1867 bars any impediment to interprovincial commerce.

The Supreme Court said no.

In their decision they point out that to take the aforementioned interpretation of section 121 of the Constitution Act of 1867 is to ignore the years of legal precedents created by the courts as they were charged with interpreting the law. Doing so would not only undermine the Canadian legal system but effectively strip federal and provincial powers of their ability to legislate trade in Canada.

Aside from Quebec which relies in part on the Civil Code, most provinces in Canada rely on past legal decisions in order to interpret current ones. The higher the court, the more binding the decision on lower courts, a concept called stare decisis or “stand by things decided”.

The court went on to point out that past legal decisions on the subject point to section 121 only forbidding laws that explicitly impose tariffs on goods moving between provinces but that it should not be interpreted as to ban legislative powers from imposing laws that have the incidental effect of limiting interprovincial commerce.

Critics of the decision were hoping the Supreme Court would take a tougher stance in favor of protecting Canadian beer from the effects of free trade. Others think that this provision will make section 121 of the Constitution increasingly obsolete.

That said, Comeau is obviously going to have to pay his fine, but I imagine it pales in comparison to his legal fees.

* Featured image by Allison Caterall via Flickr Creative Commons

Facebook graveyard got me down today…

Fuck, I keep inviting Tim to events
I always did before because I knew he would be there
Wet dreamland with that military s&m hat and sunglasses
Carebear onesie or cats in space

I have a hard time grasping that he is gone
doesn’t make sense
a world without Blue Lazer
is a strange sad place

A place of mystery

Where we are all connected

I coughed at the same time as the woman across the street
splashing in snow puddles like a little kid
Reminder:
take more walks
meet more cool dogs
smile at people
small acts of love count

Today i saw a man that I shared a donut with
it was vegan gluten free
Donuts
sweet wheels of bliss, sugar packed confection perfection
Sprinkles, frosting, cake, with a winking hole in the middle
or filled to capacity with something creamy or stickily sweet treat.
Get it all over your fingers and lick it off,
can’t miss one delectable bite.
Diabetic nightmare but the rest of us just don’t care.
Sweet sex in your mouth.

I brought them to my friend the Ice Dragon
we were supposed to have an art day at sewing souls
but we were locked out
Our friend was supposed to let us in
but did not show
we wondered what happened

Now I know it was because Tim was already dead
he was in there alone
where did he go?
family worried and plotting his saving grace
Never again will we hear that voice
or see that smiling face

We sat outside in the snow and ate donuts together
new friends on a cold day with snow floating down
this man was supposed to fix a door
get back his saw
do a job
instead we bonded

While our sweet friend had already departed

It’s been weeks now, and I am not the same.

Today I was walking back from getting lunch with my partner
hot bar
cabbage rolls like my polish grammy made – just vegan this time
I needed to walk
feel the air and earth

He said “HEY” and I turned and smiled
“Do I know you from the parade or something? Cat right?”
YES WE ATE DONUTS TOGETHER – I exclaimed
He said “Yea, that made my day”

I remember him not accepting at first
like it would come with a consequence
friendship and compassion
and vegan gluten free donuts
should come with no strings attached

No hidden agenda
love loud and with everyone
give
give more
share
care bears onesies
kittens with pizza in space
I will never forget his face

Timfringement power
Rest in peace dear Tim, your story is in the stars now
(Up there talking science with Stephen Hawking)

Death is an eye opening part of life that we all have to live with. It’s especially hard when people who are young get taken from us.

We need to take time to enjoy every single moment. That means each breath is beautiful, give thanks for your body functions, each fart is brilliant, every toe stub or paper cut reminding you of your humanity. Spend less time on your phone and more time talking to people. Addiction takes no prisoners, it only kills.

I saw a sea gull that had been hit by a car. A life torn to crimson shattered shreds. Blood and white feathers spread on the highway. It saw the highest points of the sky. Soared through sunsets. Then dipped too deep on that fateful street.

I remember my dad scaring seagulls in an empty parking lot. It seemed you could never ever hit them, they were so fast and mighty. Nothing is indestructible. The Titanic is that lesson, everything can be sunk if the iceberg is big enough. Like icebergs, mental illness and depression just show a small tip to the world but delve deep into the depths of a person’s being.

Someday we all will die. I don’t want to think about a world without you, yeah you! Death shows no mercy and takes even the young, the good people, the kind hearted, the ones who only make things better and ask for nothing in return.

Sometimes in life we get so caught up in our own disasters that we don’t take the time to tell people they are important to us. Reaching out just to say “Hey, you came across my thoughts today, you fucking matter to me.”

Tim Sentman was light, he was funny, like really funny, and cared about all of us. He came to the shows, he supported us all, and he was damn good. A space kitten serving pizza with lasers and electronic music.

Creative geniuses are hard to come by, and sadly they often do not even recognize their own worth. When someone dies young we all grieve out loud, how could we miss the signs? How could we have stepped up to help? How could we have changed the outcome. Let’s all just take time to focus on more than just ourselves.

The winter is so daunting. I was so happy and relieved that the spring equinox happened. Finally, a light at the end of the tunnel.

We lack vitamin D and oxygen in our depleted brains. The tiny birds have been miserable, the spring buds stunted, this unrelenting snow has buried us all in despair.

Being sad comes natural when we are all so inertly isolated. I feel like society pushes us toward technology and censors our real ability to interact with others. There is spontaneity that is lost in translation and we forget those who are right in front of us, suffering or not.

We get so wrapped up in our own crap that we forget simple compassion. So much time is spent waiting and wondering if we will ever find true love.

I know that this need for touch and reassurance is a huge cause of depression and anxiety. We need to give out hugs and compliments more freely, reach out to those who seem to fade out and drop off our radar. Love loud and often. Do it for the homies who are now angels and the friends who are still here broken but not forgotten.

* Featured image by lucianvenutian via Wikimedia Commons

One of the greatest health threats in North America is the opioid crisis. Since 2015 it has caused about five thousand deaths in Canada alone. Indigenous communities have been ravaged by the epidemic. National and provincial governments are being forced to take the matter in hand.

The fight has manifested itself in changes to healthcare policy, and class action lawsuits against Purdue Pharma, the drug company that allegedly pushed OxyContin™ and OxyNEO™ via marketing tactics that minimized the risks associated with the drug. In the US authorities have launched criminal investigations into Purdue’s marketing tactics and many Canadians are demanding that our leaders follow suit.

Purdue Pharma has offered settlements to plaintiffs across Canada. The suit made the news recently because a judge in Saskatchewan rejected the settlement in March. This article is going to give an overview of the opioid crisis in Canada, what this has meant for victims, and for chronic pain sufferers. I will also go briefly into the nature of addiction based on the newest available research on the subject and talk a bit about how class action lawsuits and corporate criminal liability work with regards to this particular case. Please note that I am not a doctor or a psychologist or a crisis worker, and I welcome comments from them on how best to address this epidemic.

In 1996 Purdue Pharma released its new painkiller OxyContin™. Purdue used an aggressive marketing campaign to encourage doctors to prescribe it, calling it a safe and effective means of treating pain with minimal problems. Unfortunately the drug is highly addictive and overdose deaths began to climb steadily over the next three decades. In February 2018 Purdue finally announced that they would stop “promoting opioids to prescribers” in the United States, but sadly that policy does not extend to Canada, the branch of which- Purdue Canada – operates independently.

Most opioid addicts like Ben Miller, one of the plaintiffs suing Purdue, became addicted to OxyContin™ by being legally prescribed it for pain. His doctor prescribed the drug while he was living in Ontario in 2007 and he became addicted. According to court transcripts from 2013, Miller was addicted to OxyContin™ until the end of 2011 but continues to struggle with the risk of relapse into addiction. Most accidental opioid poisonings in Canada happen with seniors, many of whom were taking the medication as prescribed.

That said, there has been another group suffering under Canada’s opioid epidemic, and it’s one that is seldom talked about: chronic pain sufferers. These are people with long term back problems, bad knees, fibromyalgia, non-fatal forms of MS and other pains the sources of which are difficult or impossible to treat and with pain levels that can spike under cold or humid weather conditions.

For many, opioids like hydromorphone are the only effective drugs to treat acute pain episodes, but with new awareness about the dangers of opioids, attempts to get a prescription are met with suspicion and often disdain. Safer medicines like marijuana and other cannibinoids, which have proven effective for treating pain with low addiction risks, are still treated like dangerous drugs due to their criminalization and physicians often refuse to prescribe them. Those who succeed in getting a referral to Montreal’s only cannabis clinic have to pay up to two hundred and fifty dollars just for the consult.

Daisy suffers from chronic back pain exacerbated by cold, humid conditions. Despite the opinion of two physicians and her psychologist that she is not an addiction risk, attempts to renew her pain medication when she needs it are often met with suspicion. Though she takes it as prescribed, pharmacists in the past have treated her like a junkie when she seeks a renewal. Unfortunately many people going to emergency rooms for pain across Canada are often pumped full of opioids and sent home without the necessary referrals or tests to find out the source of the problem.

New research into the nature of addiction indicates that it is a complex disease with social and biological traits. There is a scientific consensus that addicts have underactive dopamine systems – the system of neurotransmitters that control the pleasure and reward centers in the brain – and have a lesser capacity to enjoy their everyday lives. They suffer from anxiety and depression and have poor support systems and resources to cope.

Most drugs act by filling the brain with pleasurable dopamine. As a person continues to use the drugs, the brain adapts and produces less dopamine, forcing the addict to take more. That said, studies have confirmed that recovering addicts that do so in a supportive, loving community environment are less likely to relapse.

The lawsuit against Purdue Pharma contends that:

  • From 1996 to 2001 the company claimed that OxyContin™ was safer than other prescription opioids
  • Prescribed usage of the drug leads to addiction requiring more frequent and higher doses
  • Discontinuing use of the drug causes severe withdrawal symptoms that can last weeks or more
  • Concerns about addiction have been known to Purdue Pharma since 2003 when the Government Newfoundland and Labrador launched an OxyContin Task Force to deal with the rising number of deaths from the drug

Purdue Canada has offered to settle the class action lawsuit for twenty million dollars, a pathetic sum when you take into account the cost of legal representation for the plaintiffs and the fact that provincial health insurers tasked with dealing with the epidemic will be getting a large part of this.

Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia approved the settlement. Judge Barrington-Foote of Saskatchewan rejected it, pointing out that for the court to approve a class action settlement, it must be satisfied that the settlement is “fair, reasonable, and in the best interests of the class as a whole.” Judge Barrington-Foote felt the settlement was too small to be considered as such.

If the government launches a criminal investigation into Purdue Pharma, it will have to decide whether to seek indictments of individuals within the company or of the company itself. If the latter, the prosecution will have to meet the criteria for corporate criminal liability set out by the Supreme Court in Canadian Dredge and Dock Co. v. The Queen [1985], specifically:

“that the action taken by the directing mind (a) was within the field of operation assigned to him; (b) was not totally in fraud of the corporation; and (c) was by design or result partly for the benefit of the company. ”

The opioid crisis is a complex problem that needs addressing to avoid further loss of life. Our governments are coming up with action plans to fight it. Here’s hoping that their plan doesn’t hurt those in pain.

Featured image by Psiĥedelisto via WikiMedia Commons

So, I have been reading cheesy lesbian erotica out loud to my partner, I highly suggest it! It’s fun to fantasize and play. Perfect for spicing up an already hot situation. I channeled all of the paperback romance novels I have ever read. It’s all about pretty words baby!

Here is my attempt at true tumultuous titilation. I recommend trying it yourself. Read it to your lover, fuck them gently, then write about it in detail!

Single? Then describe the best sex you have ever had!

Virgin? Then describe your biggest fantasy, usually your imagination is better than reality anyways. 😉

Enjoy…

The bed hole illuminated by lust and a stained glass salt lamp. Laying under the blankets and now wet stained sheets with my fully charged hot pink sateen swan wand (or flaminga tingla as we like to call it) between my legs on the lowest fluttering setting.

Thinking of her smooth, warm body next to mine gets me off every time. Good vibrations feel more than fine.The small side gently cupping my clitoris. Pure bliss. Slowly undulating on it as I ponder my sexual prowess.

I rose from the bed, now fingering through my clothes. As a burlesque performer it is very easy to be this sexy creature on stage.

Once the illusion is over my partners get to see a much more vanilla version of the vixen they courted. I needed to dress up for her. The other day she commented on the sexy red plaid school girl skirt hanging on my rack.

With intention I put it on with a lace garter belt and thigh high fishnet stockings. Patent leather heels. Red lace bra and corset tight with tits held high. No panties, obviously.

I put my crimson overcoat on and it was barely long enough to cover me up. This was the same skirt I got in trouble for wearing in high school because it was too short. I felt like a straight up hooker for hire walking over to her place late at night. (Not judging/shaming sex workers, it’s the oldest profession and I respect them all.)

We had both just gotten out of work and she was tired. She deserved to be served up a little fantasy on a golden platter. Should I pack? Should I put on her strap and seduce my lover with her own devices?

Whenever I have writers block I will picture her wearing that rainbow cock (the time she packed it and fucked me in the tub of tranquility) my Venus with a store bought intergalactic rainbow penis.

She gave it to me (good) for my birthday. Eight inches of pure homosexuality. Seven would be heaven. I put it in the bag just in case we needed it.

I then quickly made my way around the corner, to her warm, loving embrace. The cold air rushes under my daring skirt making my lady bits tingle with excitement.

She was surprised when she saw my painted face creep into her safe space. She just got out of the shower, hair dripping wet. Clean and ready for the bliss she is about to get. Spread her legs like a blossoming flower as I went down on her with a graceful power.

Beautiful budding labia petals drip off of my lips like every sweet surrender kiss, a magnetic endeavor. I am hers to keep, even as she drifts asleep.

I think of her riding my face, I wish I remembered my dreams because I am sure that is what I’d see. I want her on the roof, in the tub for two, or in her car with the moonroof open.

Legs are as open as our relationship. I know in this moment that I need her. I can only speak in poetry after we make love.

Its snowing in April
big flakes falling from the sky
as her hands slip between my thighs
I move up
venus mounts
good times sprout
grinding on her strong jawline
inhibitions fall in rhythmic time
chasing waterfalls
a sirens call
smother
squirt
my juices in her hair
filling her mouth
then we flip
more than drips
she holds my hips
flush to her flesh
as the girl gush comes again
electric rush of nerves
activated by her curves
I am in awe
her full breasts (usually bound in a sports bra)
smack me in the face as
She
fingers one, two, three
penetrate my soft spot
this is so hot
hot sex
then the hot bar
I love that we have the same car
Lets fuck in the HHR
on top of a mountain
with oxygen running low
there is no place to go
but down

(I will forever think about my juices in her hair)

Environmental law is a fairly new topic in legal discourse. It is only in the past hundred years or so that humans have been made aware of the environmental consequences of their actions and even now there are forces in our society that demand that said consequences are negligible or worth ignoring. It is, however, impossible to ignore and even major polluters like Exxon Mobil have come to acknowledge their role in climate change.

This article is going to give a brief overview on the rules that punish polluters in Canada and then focus on the punishments individuals might face in Canada for certain kinds of pollution.

Environmental law is one of those fields of law that covers almost every kind of law there is. Rules to protect the environment can be found in agricultural law, federal fisheries legislation, rules governing industry, civil law, municipal law, and even criminal and international law.

In Canada, large scale pollution is regulated by the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Federal Fisheries Act, the Criminal Code, and provincial laws such as the Quebec Environmental Quality Act. In the cities, it is municipal by-laws that control the nuisance caused by littering and other forms of pollution.

Some types of pollution by individuals will result in fines, whereas others can lead to lengthy prison terms. So let’s talk about those.

For the purposes of this article, I will focus on Montreal municipal laws. Other cities on the island such as Westmount and Cote-Saint-Luc have their own sets of rules.

In the early two thousands, the City of Montreal tightened its rules regarding littering resulting in outrage from citizens, landlords, and business owners. Under the new by-law, tagging and other forms of graffiti on public roadways, sidewalks, and buildings on public property can result in a fine of a hundred to a thousand dollars. The same goes for leaving broken motor vehicles on public property as well as dumping garbage in public waterways.

The by-law elaborates by specifying that everything from garbage, to ashes, to flyers, syringes, and bandages count as things prohibited from being dumped on public property. There are exceptions to these rules with regards to graffiti on public property in which a person can get authorization from the City of Montreal, presumably to make room for artists to beautify the city with murals and other works of art.

The new by-law takes penalties for littering even further, with punishments for throwing garbage and other forms of waste on public property ranging from sixty to a hundred dollars for a first offense. That means that the seemingly mundane act of throwing your coffee cup or cigarette packet on the ground could land you a hefty fine if you’re caught. Fines for a second offense range from a hundred to three hundred dollars, and for every subsequent offense it’s a fine of three hundred to a thousand dollars.

Recently, the City of Montreal has also opted to crack down on the use of wood burning fireplaces. Montreal is one of the oldest cities in Canada so the presence of houses with indoor fireplaces is inevitable. Unfortunately, they’re dirty and polluting and studies show that they don’t actually warm your house that much.

In 2017 the City of Montreal adopted the By-law Concerning Solid Fuel Burning Devices and Fireplaces. Under the new by-law those in possession of fireplaces or other solid fuel burning devices may not use them in Montreal as of October 2018 unless they are certified to emit no more than 2.5g/hr of fine particulate matter into the atmosphere.

The fines for use of fireplaces after the deadline range from a hundred to five dollars for a first offense, five hundred to a thousand dollars for a second offense, and a thousand to two thousand dollars for every subsequent offense.

The by-law does however allow for exceptions in cases of major power outages and other natural disasters in which a fireplace may be the only source of heat. The rules also do not apply to devices used for food preparation – so charcoal barbeques are fine, as well as for commercial use or in places where authorization to install such a device in a building for commercial use was authorized. Those with fireplaces have the option to either stop using it, or have it replaced and declare it to the City.

In order to face jail time for polluting, the offense has to be quite severe. For example, anyone who, as per the Criminal Code, “makes a device or possesses, uses, transfers, exports, imports, alters or disposes of nuclear material, radioactive material or a device or commits an act against a nuclear facility or an act that causes serious interference with or serious disruption of its operations,” with intent to cause death, serious bodily harm, or substantial damage to property or the environment is facing life in prison if found guilty.

Laws punishing polluters are in place for a reason. Pollution not only tarnishes the beauty of our city, but it makes the environment you live in less healthy, putting all of us at risk. Until we come up with cleaner, more sustainable ways to do things, we need to keep these laws in place and think twice before littering.