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.

Browsing through the endlessly diverse gauntlet of humans bearing their soul and persona for your consumption.

He has real pretty eyes, she has a great smile, welp thats a mighty fine torso shot, fuckable for sho, not looking for a hookup? WTF are you doing here? Is that person even real? Ew, he is holding a dead deer in his pic and those guys all have fish they murdered. That one likes their truck more than the earth. Military or cop not for me. She seems cool but she has seven kids. That one doesn’t like cats. He’s seems ok but somehow lives 200 miles away. That’s just a blank screen. Lots of couples looking for unicorns (usually a female that will fuck both you and your partner), then the jerks who say they are lesbians when they are actually straight cis men, and then BOOM out of the blue someone you know in REAL life. HMM…

Imagine a friend or acquaintance coming up. You have always found this person attractive but never spoke up. Maybe you just never really got to know them.

They look super hot in these photos, fuck it, swipe right. Ok, whats the harm? Let’s see what happens, they probably swiped left anyways, oh well, here goes nothing, drumroll… IT’S A MATCH!

Holy fuck! Wait, does this mean they are DOWN? Or is it just like yo bro, what up I KNOW YOU! Like are you trying to fuck though? This is a hookup app and we are on here for the same thing right?

It’s super awkward the next time you see them. Do you bring up the match? Do you say anything? How does one put these kind of feelers out?

It’s so hard to do this face to face (like people have done for fucking centuries, hope you can hear the ironic tone there). What did people do before dating apps determined compatibility?

So you match with your super duper sexy friend on Tinder… but what now? They like you back, how do you know if they are DTF or JK lol?

It’s downright scary to approach people sometimes. Hiding behind the little itty bitty screen seems like a cop out, like it is just too scary to be rejected in person.

Swiping away on the hottest hook up app seems so second nature, it is so easy just to place judgement on those we don’t know (or want to know better) based on several photos and a tag line. It is dangerous and sad to merely say I like you or I don’t based on only looks alone, hot or not.

I really think its sad that we have come to this. People sitting next to each other in bars swiping when they should be interacting with other humans in the same room.

My friend matched with a bartender he knew, she was his friend, they always laughed a lot, but until faced with the absolute yes or no of this app he had not pondered the idea of sleeping with her. After all, a lot of people in the service industry use Tinder to bring people into their bars.

“I bet she swiped right for everyone,” he thought. She’s cute, really funny, yea, that’s something I like! So he super liked her at 4am drunk.

The next time they hung out it was obvious that the feelers were being put out on her end. He may not have been entirely serious about the super like, but is still down to fuck if she is. It came down to an awkward moment at the end of the night, she stuck around until closing time and they were the only two left.

The ball is in his court now. Now you have to go deeper than just bullshit ice breakers. You are already past this. It’s now or never, take the plunge and see if she bites.

He did not pursue, figuring that if she liked him for realzies she would have moved in. He must have not liked her that much to not ever really notice it or say it out loud, right?

An impossible filter that I wish was on Tinder is the EX’s and EX’s of your besties. It’s a real bummer to come across someone who is hot and interesting and then realize that your best friend had a bad breakup or hookup story with them. Then you come to the EX’s of your current squeezes and that builds a whole new level of crazy.

Also relatives, that just creeps me out. I would never want to come across one of my cousins on a dating app.

The moment we have all been waiting for, the other day I came across one of my crushes on Tinder. I have always liked her lots, but never felt like I was her “type” (whatever the fuck that means).

She’s hot and talented, we have an incredible friend chemistry, it’s so easy to talk to her, but I never ever imagined she would like me back. I was afraid so I swiped left. Days later she told me that she swiped right.

FUCK! I done screwed up. I told her that I didn’t even see her pop up. I lied. In that moment I should have confessed it all, but I didn’t and now I feel like the moment has passed. Now I will never know if she actually likes me or not, woe is me!

Actually, no, cut the shit, if you like someone tell them IN PERSON. My roomie saw one of my other long term from a distance crushes on Tinder and I literally swiped for two hours straight to find him to no avail. I hope I didn’t go too fast and accidentally missed him!

I won’t pay for this app, not even to go back and swipe the correct way for my future soulmate. What if I go through all of that and we don’t match after all?

Tinder keeps coming up in my regular conversations. I am new to polyamory, so this is one of my new outlets for exploration, although I have not met a single person from it, mostly just small talk.

I got called out for not messaging a friend/acquaintance I matched with. He clearly wants it. This doesn’t mean I am required to go on a date with this person. It just means that I thought they had a cute photo. I was going so fast that I didn’t even know it was him.

I put all this faith in a swipe from someone I like and then I don’t think too hard when swiping myself. There are reasons why I never pursued this dude to begin with, so why now?

Knowing that a person likes you should not be the only reason to go for it. You must like them back and be honest, I am really good at making things awkward and really afraid of rejection.

But how will you know if you don’t just throw it out there? Why are we all so goddamn afraid of rejection? If someone doesn’t like you like that then just accept it and move on. You don’t need them to find worth and love yourself.

I must learn to be my own primary partner. There will always be someone else to date! I swear.

It’s a little more weighted in this case. If you have an established friendship and then are faced with the “Wait, if they want it, do I want it?” moment then you really have to put your cards on the table before you make an irrational move.

I have had a few friendships where I thought that I was unrequited with my feeling shift for years, too scared of losing the friendship over one awkward confession. It would have been awesome to read their mind, and know that even for the moment of the swipe I was an option.

The moral is don’t be scared to tell someone you love them. Life is too short.

If you rely solely on a silly dating app for your happiness you will not be a very happy person. True love, passion, and continuous joy are sparked by real life moments: catching eyes, brushing knees, petting the same cat, volunteering at the same shelter, reading books at the same coffee shop, or just a chance encounter on the street can bring you to your soulmate of the moment.

Keep your eyes open. You never know when they might come up!

* Featured image by Denis Bocquet via Flickr via Creative Commons

Café Le Cagibi has long held down the fort as a sort of (meta)physical gateway to Mile End at the corner of St-Laurent and St-Viateur. Yet after more than a decade—and amidst a strip dizzyingly gentrifying—the iconic café and show venue is moving on up.

Faced with—among other things—rent spikes north of 200%, Le Cagibi has opted to restructure. The metamorphosis actually began over a year ago, says Jess Lee, one of the proprietors. “As a group we tackled the issue of our lease, discussed landlord negotiations, and weighed pros, cons and feasibility of our various options,” she says.

“We decided moving was the best option.”

The iconic Mile End strip of St-Viateur between St-Laurent and Parc, built and popularized by places like Le Cagibi, has been gentrifying for years. Yet the gradual price edging of yesteryear has tipped over into something of a point of no return.

As documented by Gazette‘s T’cha Dunlevy, Le Cagibi’s rent increase came at the hands of Jeremy Kornbluth and Brandon Shiller, proprietors of upwards of seven properties on the strip, in addition to properties housing the controversial Starbucks in Marché Jean-Talon and the (now defunct) Gordon Ramsay remake of Le Laurier BBQ.

Yet according to Lee, there’s a silver lining to all this jazz. “Cagibi has always tried to provide a space for employees to learn and develop new skills and take on projects they’re excited about. The coop really formalizes this and takes it to the next level, allowing more folks to access the work, responsibilities and profits of ownership,” she says, noting that the new space will allow employees “to have more input into how the business runs,” and that regular nonworking members are also set to “benefit financially by receiving profits of the business and be able to choose where and how money goes back into the business.”

As such, Le Cagibi will join a growing cadre of city co-ops, such as nearby Touski and Divan Orange. The latter two proved particularly inspiring to Le Cagibi, according to Lee. “(These co-ops) were doing similar business operations and Touski provided us with an understanding of their structure which we definitely used as a springboard for discussing our own.”

So when will Le Cagibi as we know it be dissappearing? Having held its final show, the latest word is that current Le Cagibi will close around April 3rd. Lee says that the new space—on St-Zotique near St-Laurent—is slated to be open “as soon as possible… in time for Spring.”

The food menu might see some changes, though the details are still being hammered out.

As for the fate of the iconic Mile End of St-Viateur east of St-Laurent, things are much less certain.

“I think it just becomes more palpable and stark as financial capital begins to explicitly dominate the landscape,” says Lee of the changes. “But I think there’s a lot of resistance in Mile-End to allowing things to progress and a lot of continuous local support for long standing neighbourhood institutions.  I think the real estate corporations buying into the neighbourhood are aiming to make Mile End a new Griffintown or Notre Dame in St. Henri, but in my opinion, they’re overshooting in their expectations.”

“If they continue to blow out the locale economy,” she says, “in five years time my guess is there will be many unrented facades, a lot of business turnover and a few boutique operations or multi-national corporations using their storefront as advertising rather then as a points of sale.”

Cagibi has a fundraising campaign, where you can also find out about joining the collective

Featured image via Flickr/bittermelon / Creative Commons reuse.

Gun control is a hot button issue right now thanks to thousands of kids in the US. On March 24th, 2018, high schoolers, parents, and teachers across America took the trauma of surviving or hearing about school shootings and turned it into righteous anger at the people who govern them. They marched on Washington in numbers that made the Orange Egotist’s inauguration look like a One Direction concert on a school night.

The demands of the marchers were simple ones: stop taking money from people who value guns over lives. Make assault weapons less accessible to those who want to turn their anger on the world around them. Stop ranting about the importance of child safety while doing nothing to ensure it.

They recognize that their government is too well compensated by the gun-obsessed losers in the US and that dramatic action is needed. They want background checks, and licensing, and all sorts of other measures to ensure that dangerous people do not get access to guns.

What they are asking for is what we Canadians consider to be the bare minimum. On March 21, 2018, federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale introduced Bill C 71 which would beef up Canada’s existing gun control legislation.

This article is going to give you a crash course on gun control in Canada, specifically with regards to individual rights to gun possession.

Gun control is governed primarily by two laws: The Canadian Firearms Act and the Canadian Criminal Code. They define different kinds of weapons under Canadian law and set out rules regarding which weapons are legal in Canada and under what circumstances.

The Canadian Criminal Code defines a weapon as anything used, designed to be used, or intended for use in causing the death or injury to any person, or for the purpose of intimidating them. This includes firearms and anything used, designed to be used, or intended to be used to bind or tie someone up against their will.

That said, not all weapons in Canada require a license.

Only firearms, prohibited firearms, restricted firearms and weapons, and prohibited devices require a license under Canadian law.

A prohibited firearm is any handgun with a barrel equal to or less than 105mm in length and is designed to discharge a 25 or 32 caliber bullet. Prohibited firearms also include sawed off shotguns and automatic weapons.

Prohibited weapons include switchblades or any other knife with a blade that can open via hand pressure to a button or other mechanism, as well as any other weapon considered prohibited but which is not a firearm.

A prohibited device includes any part of or accessory to a weapon that is considered prohibited. It also includes handgun barrels equal to or less 105mm in length, with an exception allowed for competitive sport shooting weapons required by the rules of the International Shooting Union. Anything used to silence, muffle, or stop the report of a firearm is also considered a prohibited device.

A restricted firearm includes any handgun not considered a prohibited firearm and has a barrel less than 470 mm in length. It also has to be capable of discharging ammunition in a semi automatic way.

Restricted weapons are any weapon considered as such that is not a firearm. Crossbows generally fall into this category (apologies to any medieval weapon enthusiasts).

In order to have access to any such weapons, you have to apply for a licence as per the Federal Firearms Act. You are considered ineligible for a licence if in the interests of the safety it is best you not possess a weapon or ammunition.

It is generally up the chief firearms officer named by the Federal Public Safety Minister or a provincial court judge to decide eligibility. In determining applications for licenses, they generally look at the following criteria and whether or not these apply over the last five years prior to the application:

  • Have you ever been convicted of or received a discharge for offenses in which violence against a person was attempted, used, or threatened?
  • Have you ever been convicted of or received a discharge for firearms or other weapons offenses?
  • Have you ever been convicted of criminal harassment?
  • Have you ever been convicted of certain drug related offenses?
  • Have you ever been treated at a hospital, mental health institute, or psychiatric clinic for a mental illness that was associated with threatened or attempted violence (this fact is looked at regardless of whether or not an applicant was confined at the aforementioned treatment facilities)?
  • Is there is a court mandated prohibition order barring you from possession a weapon?

Once these criteria are assessed, a person must successfully undergo the “Canadian Firearms Safety Course” for the class of weapon for they want a license for and pass the corresponding exam. They also must fill out forms and provide character references.

The more dangerous the weapon for which a license is being requested, the more likely the references will be checked. Firearms themselves have to be registered with the Firearms Registrar.

It must be noted that the Firearms Act does have exceptions including those rights guaranteed as per existing aboriginal or treaty rights.

Bill C 71 proposes a few changes to the Canadian Firearms Act and the Criminal Code.

The new law proposes to do away with the five-year limit on criteria for licenses set out in the Firearms Act. It also requires that any firearms seized by or surrendered to peace officers due to a prohibition order be automatically forfeited to the Crown unless the order specifies otherwise. The remaining rules pertain primarily to grandfather clauses written into the Firearms Act in order to protect those legally possessing firearms at the time the law was put into force.

If the law is passed, C 71 will come into force in the summer of 2018. The law is likely to pass because unlike the leaders to the south, Canadians care about protecting each other from gun violence.

* Featured image by Steve Rainwater via Wikimedia Commons

Endangered species are a pet cause for many and a nuisance for many others. Social media is regularly flooded with a barrage of memes, online petitions, and articles about species on the brink of extinction due to natural or man-made causes. On March 9th, Quebec’s caribou population came into the spotlight when the Couillard government announced that they would not spend money to save them in Val D’Or.

According to the provincial Minister of Forests, Wildlife, and Parks Luc Blanchette, it would cost seventy six million dollars over the next fifty years to protect the habitat of caribou in the region. The caribou in the area have been on steady decline since the 1950s due to the logging industry.

The government had originally planned to move the remaining animals to a zoo in 2016 but that idea was withdrawn when environmental groups pointed out that the animals would not survive in captivity. The government has deemed saving them too expensive, so instead the government plans to focus on saving other caribou herds in the province.

As it stands, Canada’s caribou are considered endangered under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA). While it is tragic that the animal that adorns our coinage is at risk, this article is not about them. It is about endangered species in Canada and what rules are in place at the federal and provincial levels to ensure their survival.

Sadly, protecting endangered species is not a simple matter in Canada, and we partly have the federalist system to blame. According to the articles of our constitution specifying federal and provincial jurisdictions, all waterways and marine life matters as well as land not claimed by the provinces are federal, whereas the management and sale of public lands in provincial territory, the exploration of non-renewable natural resources, and “the development, conservation and management of non-renewable natural resources and forestry resources in the province” are provincial. In cases where there is a jurisdictional conflict, the federal government takes precedence.

The current federal law to protect endangered species is the aforementioned Species at Risk Act which was enacted in 2002, though some of its provisions only came into effect in subsequent years. The main goal of the act is to prevent species from becoming extirpated or extinct. Extirpated as per the act means that the species is no longer found in Canada and “extinct” means the species no longer exists at all.

It has jurisdiction only over federal land, aquatic species, and migratory birds. Federal land only makes up about four percent of provincial land in Canada and even then, only areas classified as Critical Habitat are protected under the law. The federal act allows species to be classified as “at risk” or “not at risk” with assessments done by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

The Committee consists of experts, academia, politicians and aboriginal representatives and has the task of assessing the status of Canadian wildlife species; their recommendations for the classification of a given species are then passed on to the federal government. Their science-based findings are publicly available.

Once the Committee has classified a species, it must do a reassessment every ten years to see if the ones at risk are still at risk. The criteria they use are those established by the United Nations’ Red List for critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable species.

According to Environment Canada’s website, as of 2017 there are currently five hundred and twenty-one species of plants and animals classified under the Species At Risk Act as being at risk of extinction or extirpation in Canada. Once the Committee has established those at risk, it’s up to the government to decide whether or not to adapt their action plan to save a species by introducing measures such as incentives to support people helping to protect species at risk, awards and recognition programs, public awareness programs, and protecting habitats.

In Quebec, endangered species fall under the Act Respecting Threatened or Vulnerable Species. It mandates the Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change to carry out research regarding species that need protection or whose habitats need protection, establish programs to promote their survival, and delegate and enter into agreements with the people they delegate to in order to implement these measures. The Minister can also, with the government’s assent, lease or acquire land by expropriation for the protection and management of threatened or vulnerable plant species.

For those of you unfamiliar with expropriation, it is the process by which the government decides to take land for itself by offering the owner(s) compensation based on what the property is valued at. The value of the land is determined by government appraisers. In cases where the owner feels the indemnity they are offered is insufficient, they will often turn to private appraisers and attorneys to seek fairer compensation.

Several private appraisers in Montreal told me that this is quite common, and in some cases cities will even halt development on a given parcel of privately owned land for ecological reasons, resulting in them being sued for “disguised expropriation”. It is in this respect, among others, that endangered species protections can be a nuisance for some.

The Quebec government can also be gifted or left land in a will for the sake of protecting vulnerable species.

It is up to the aforementioned Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change and the Minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks to come up with a list of threatened or vulnerable species in Quebec, how they should be identified, and where they are located.

The law does have exceptions and allows for parties to act in spite of it if an exemption is written into government regulations, if activities are carried out in accordance with government standards, the activity is required for educational or scientific purposes, or if activities are being carried out to repair damage caused by a catastrophe or to prevent it.

The government, like those who adopt it as a pet cause, recognizes the importance of protecting Canada’s vulnerable species as part of the fight against climate change. Let’s keep electing governments that continue to do so.

* Featured image by By Mickael Brangeon(Peupleloup) via WikiMedia Commons

If you have a regular spot along Ste-Catherine where your friends know they can meet you during the annual Montreal St. Patrick’s Day Parade, you won’t be going there this year. Well, I suppose you can, but you’ll just be standing on a street corner, quite possibly day drinking in public alone, for a few hours.

For the first time in over half a century, the parade will be a block up, running along de Maisonneuve from City Councillors to MacKay, where it will head south to René-Lévesque and finish. That’s right, it will also be running east to west for the first time in my lifetime at least.

This is due to major renovations on Ste-Catherine, currently underway around Bleury and making their way to Atwater over the next four years. While Mayor Valérie Plante may be changing some of the specifics of the plan, it was former Mayor Denis Coderre who set the timeframe, so you can blame him (or Montreal’s outdated sewage system) for the change.

This Will Be…Different

So what will a St. Patty’s Parade on de Maisonneuve look and feel like? Possibly a little more cramped and awkward than usual.

While de Maisonneuve may offer a slightly wider street than Ste-Catherine at parts, sidewalk space is, for the most part, considerably smaller (hence the cramped). That is unless you close the bike path and use it as spectator space, which I’m guessing they will do (hence the awkward).

The floats and marching bands will have enough space to make their way down the route. If you want to watch them go by, though, picking a good spot could be crucial to your enjoyment.

Most businesses in the area benefit from the parade. During the parade itself, that’s mainly depanneurs, coffee shops and restaurants. The categories won’t change this year, but those specific businesses used to dealing with a sustained rush (and in some cased inflating prices) will be relegated to a larger than normal clientele thinking ahead and vice versa.

The route

For many, myself included, parade day is also about the mid-afternoon after-party. That’s what it’s all about for area bars who have one of their biggest days of the year on a Sunday afternoon.

While there are some major bars along the parade route located between de Maisonneuve and Ste-Catherine, most that cater to the St-Patty’s crowd can be found heading south towards René-Lévesque or along Ste-Catherine itself. This is especially true in the Guy-Concordia area.

All bars in the area will, of course, be packed to one degree or another this year, but I wonder if altered proximity to where everyone is coming from will make a difference in just how packed certain places will get. This is one time of year when passing by one place first instead of another just down the street can make a difference.

But Not That Different

While a key part of the ritual that is the Montreal St. Patrick’s Day parade will be different this year, there are at least three key things moving up a street can’t change:

The Show: It’s the same parade, pretty much. The Irish dancers will still be there, so will the Shriners, the high school marching bands, the university floats, the corporate product placement, the fire department from some random town in Ontario and, of course, local media. Well, not all local media, FTB still doesn’t have a float. Sure, we never asked for one, but still… Different street, same parade.

Unexpected Meetings: My favourite part of parade day are all the chance encounters with people I haven’t seen, except for online, since the previous year, or sometimes for a lot longer. You never know just who you’re going to run into and randomly hang out with for a few minutes or a few hours and that won’t change with a different route.

Montreal Spring: No matter how cold it may be outside on the day, or the fact that it was significantly warmer the previous weekend, this is really the first sign that spring has come to Montreal. We’re all outside for a decent period of time together and we’re enjoying it.

And we can do that on de Maisonneuve just as well as we can on Ste-Catherine.

* The 195th Annual Montreal St. Patrick’s Day Parade starts at noon on Sunday, March 18th

One of the cornerstones of any liberal democracy is a judiciary that is independent, fair, and free from bias. Unfortunately, judges are human beings and therefore vulnerable to having the same prejudices many of us have.

An ideal government will name judges that can separate their own preconceptions from what is fundamentally right and legal in rendering their decisions. Unfortunately, this is not what happened in the case of former Alberta judge Robin Camp, and it is clearly not what happened in the case of Judge Eliana Marengo.

Her story is one that shows the dangers of aggressive Quebec Islamaphobia and racism masquerading as legal secularism.

In February 2015, Rania El-Alloul went to court to get her car back after it had been seized by the SAAQ. The issue was a simple one, but Judge Marengo turned a molehill into a mountain by refusing to hear El-Alloul’s case unless she took off her headscarf, inappropriately comparing the hijab to hats and sunglasses which are not permitted in court.

El-Alloul was not wearing a headscarf. She was wearing a hijab mandated by her faith, which she politely told the judge. Judge Marengo in a recording of the proceedings said that the court is a secular space, mentioning that there is no cross on the wall of the courtroom. She then reprimanded El-Alloul, refusing to hear her case because she was “not suitably dressed” as per the regulations of the Court of Quebec.

As there is no record of Judge Marengo denying others their day in court due to them wearing visible crosses, clergy collars, or a kipa, it is most likely she refused El-Alloul because she is Muslim.

Judge Marengo gave El-Alloul two options, she could take off her “headscarf” or request a postponement and consult a lawyer. El-Alloul refused to remove it and thus far, her case has yet to be heard.

When the story broke, numerous complaints were made to the Quebec Conseil de la Magistrature (“the Council”), the organization responsible for disciplining provincially appointed judges in Quebec. The complaints came not just from El-Alloul herself, but from many others unrelated to the case who felt the judge’s conduct was inappropriate of her high office.

Prime Justin Trudeau expressed his disapproval of Marengo on Twitter, saying:

In February 2016, the Council decided to form a committee to investigate Judge Marengo’s conduct. Marengo, for her part, tried to block the investigation into her conduct by challenging the legitimacy of the Council itself. She claimed that the refusal to hear El-Alloul amounted to a judicial decision that must be addressed in an appeal and that to investigate her via the Council would be a violation of judicial independence.

Fortunately, the Superior Court of Quebec sided with Council the following year. Marengo appealed the decision but the Quebec Court of Appeal agreed with the Superior Court.

An investigation into Judge Marengo’s conduct is now underway or will be soon.

How exactly does the Quebec Conseil de la Magistrature work?

It’s a lot like the Canadian Judicial Council responsible for investigating federal judges.

In addition to administrative duties and a general responsibility to improve the justice system in the province, the Quebec Conseil de la Magistrature is responsible for investigating the conduct of judges sitting on the Court of Quebec, the Professions Tribunal, and the Human Rights Tribunal. It has 16 members consisting of eleven judges, one justice of the peace, two lawyers, and two members of the general public.

They generally conduct investigations in response to complaints filed with them. Complaints to the Quebec Council can be filed online via their website.

Like their federal counterpart, the Conseil cannot overturn judicial decisions or verdicts as those have to go through the appeals process. All the Quebec Council can do is reprimand a judge or in the worst cases, recommend to the government that the judge be removed from the bench. In their investigations, the Council must consider the Judicial Code of Ethics, a set of rules governing the behavior of judges in Quebec.

Judge Marengo will likely be investigated with regards to whether her conduct violated articles two and eight of the Judicial Code of Ethics which have been used to reprimand the racist behavior of judges in the past. They read as follows:

  • 2. The judge should perform the duties of his office with integrity, dignity and honour.
  • 8. In public, the judge should act in a reserved, serene and courteous manner.”

Judge Eliana Marengo’s behavior towards Rania El-Alloul was unacceptable. Not only did it deny an innocent woman her day in court, but it is also against the values of diversity and freedom from discrimination Quebec supposedly embraces.

Here’s hoping the Council agrees.

* Featured image of the Palais de Justice in Montreal by Jeangagnon via Wikimedia Commons

Just admit it, you’ve fantasized of escaping to the lovely Land of Down Under, where sun is practically endless, a museum with free entrance just around the corner, and yet another crispy clear beach stretches on the coastline. We’ve all been there – I mean, in the same fantasy, but what about leaving your comfort zone, actually getting the plane ticket and living a full year as an Aussie?
Fortunately, there are many fun, exciting and rewarding ways to achieve this endeavor, so let’s take a look at a few Australia-perfect strategies to explore this wonderful continent, and yes, fall even more in love with its intact beauty during your stay.

The good ol’ work and travel

Image by Holgi via Pixabay Creative Commons

Just when the winter blues starts to set in, you would be packing your bags and escaping the vicious cold all the way Down Under. Whether you’re a culinary wizard that craves for more hands-on experience with some of the finest experts in the field, or you’re looking to teach abroad, Australia offers a wide range of work and travel programs.

Some of them include tour guides, full accommodation and visa paperwork preparation, so that you can start getting ready hassle-free. It’s best to apply via an accredited agency with previous experience and success, because these applications require investments that can range from $900 in fees and additional funds in your account to prove you can support yourself during your stay.

Of course, you’ll get all the advice and guidance you need from the local agent and on site as well, so that your experience is as seamless as possible. From forwarding your mail, finding the right job, to nailing your visa application, they’ll have you covered.

Make a difference

Image by kuvaa via Pixabay Creative Commons

Traveling for a non-profit cause to Australia is another wonderful way to experience their culture, heritage and do your best to contribute to their efforts to protect the environment and their indigenous wildlife. There are numerous wildlife sanctuaries, rescue operations, organic farms, tree-planting programs, all of which are perfect for nature-lovers among you.

You will stay with the local folk, join in on their daily routine and gain invaluable experience in Australia’s cultural background. Many of these volunteering programs also include perks such as free horse-riding, kayaking, free accommodation and local sightseeing tours. You’ll also likely have field trips and regular access to major cities, including Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, but also some of Australia’s most beautiful natural wonders, including the Great Barrier Reef, the Blue Mountains, and the Uluru-Kata Tjuta stone formations.

Apply for a student exchange program

Image via Pexels Creative Commons

As a country that boasts a staggering number of international students, Australia has some of the best universities, coveted educational programs, and great benefits for their student visitors from abroad. This is particularly alluring for those who would prefer a more urban experienced located in some of Australia’s cities, where you can apply for scholarships, and you will also be able to get a part-time job during your studies.

Before you go, make sure you look for student accommodation in Brisbane and other cities to see which option best suits your needs. Of course, you should budget for your studying and living costs in the area of your choice. Every university has different entry requirements and procedures, so it’s essential to get acquainted with them before you make a final decision.

What to expect

Image by Belle Co via Pexels Creative Commons

As an international volunteer, worker or student, you’ll need to cover many expenses before you reach the sunny coast of Australia. From getting the right health insurance, ensuring ample financial support during your stay, covering the cost of airplane tickets, accommodation, and basic lifestyle needs, you’ll see that the standard of living Down Under is very high, and the price is no different.

Since you’re coming from a snow-covered north, you should brace yourself for an entirely different cultural setting. Aussies are known to be laid-back, friendly, welcoming and kind, and the climate is sizzling hot during summer, while they enjoy mild winters – but their seasons are flipped compared to ours, so if you are traveling during your winter, you will be greeted by their summer!

* Featured image by ajmclellan via pixbay Creative Commons

Images:

Its so easy to get stressed out when fighting with and/or god forbid in the process breaking up with your partner. You both think you are right. They said things they will probably regret later, calling you all the names in the book, and now accept no fucking blame for this whole thing. You look them in their stupid dumb ridiculous goofy beautiful fucking face and just want to smash it into oblivion.

In that moment it is hard to imagine how much you actually still love them because you are blinded by the rage of right now. It burns bright.

Please take a moment to ponder not killing them, step back. Be the stronger person and hold back your fierce rage fueled fury.

Although it seems like a not so gentle punch to the gut, a stinging slap in the face, or swift kick in the nuts would cause you instant satisfaction, you probably should take a step back and remember that you are both adults here. It is so healthy to express your emotions, even if it is uncomfortable, but do it with words and not fists. Violence is not the answer!

1. Breathe

Its always best to step back and breathe. Oxygen makes our brains work. Even chug a glass of water.

Make sure all of your things are lubed and ready to be wise. Get your body calm and relaxed.

Tension isn’t healthily for anyone. Stepping back and focusing on the in and out of your lungs will make you feel so much better.

2. Smoke a joint

After you take some deep breaths, breathe something else in. The best thing I can do to chill the fuck out is to smoke a little bit of sweet maryjane.

If this isn’t your cup of tea, well then have a cup of tea? I don’t know what to tell you, but weed is the number one killer of shitty feelings and bad arguments.

I feel 100% better about every situation when I light up. It’s like all my troubles melt away for that short second.

Offer the person you are fighting with a puff. Perhaps you will reach a resolution over this thoughtful peace pipe offering. You will both be more calm and collected.

3. Scream as loud as you can into the abyss

I once had a co-worker who would go into the back room and yell at the top of her lungs like she was on a roller coaster when a customer pissed her off. It is the best way to blow off steam.

Scream into the cave of infinity. It will feel like a thousand orgasms, releasing all the negativity into the world instead of yelling at a person. Primal scream therapy is real.

4. Eat dark chocolate

It is proven that chocolate triggers the same things in your brain as sex. Dark chocolate is really good for you, especially if it’s the vegan kind.

It is antioxidant rich and actually lowers your blood pressure. Also I read that you get higher if you eat it 40 minutes before you smoke weed, so maybe try this step before step #2.

5. Masturbate

Hate sex is one thing, but hate jerking off is a horse of a different color! Nothing is more stress releasing than diddling your own skittle.

Nobody knows what you want or need more than you baby! Everyone needs the good touch, especially when angry or emotional. Get that vibrator out and tell the world you are your own lover.

Masturbating is healthy and helps you with sexual discovery. Think about the random person in your sexy dream or that Greek god that you saw at the grocery store. Your hand or dildo is all you need to be happy. Independent bliss.

Other things I can think of are going to the beach or wherever your happy place is. Being in nature is so calming and grounding. It makes us remember how small we are.

Listen to music, the louder the better, and dance your ass off. Exercise, yoga, and cleaning are also positive ways to blow off negative energy.

Use the energy for good instead of evil. If distraction is your game then look at boobs on the internet, there are an endless supply.

I also like to write. Writing angry poetry is a great way to get over someone. Look up new adjectives to dislike them with.

Fuck that asshole and focus on the positive! Self love and care is what you need. Take time to think about how good the sun feels beating on your skin or how good it tastes to bite into a juicy tangerine.

Take a bath or get a massage. Think about the feeling you get right after a new hair cut or when you get a really good hug from someone.

Hold your head high and let your mind be free. Now that you are cool and collected you can turn the argument into a conversation, and if you get mad again, go back to #1 and start over.

* Featured Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis via Flickr Creative Commons

Protesters in Montreal are no longer required to provide a route to police. The Quebec Superior Court invalidated section 2.1 of Municipal Bylaw P-6 which was added at the height of the Maple Spring student protests in 2012 by then-Mayor Gerald Tremblay.

Over the past few years, Montreal Police (SPVM) used this provision to kettle and ticket protesters and to stop marches minutes after they started. The annual Anti-Police Brutality March being a frequent target.

The Quebec Superior Court had already invalidated Section 3.2 of the bylaw, the provision banning masks at protests, back in 2016. In the same ruling, the court put some restrictions on 2.1, but didn’t eliminate it entirely.

Not content with a partial victory, the plaintiffs, which included protest mascot Anarchopanda, decided to appeal. Today they won and the problematic parts of P-6 are gone and the court’s decision is effective immediately.

“Let’s not forget that this victory belongs to our comrades who take to the streets and risk police and judicial repression to fight for all our rights,” Sibel Ataogul, one of the lawyers fighting the appeal said in a Facebook post, adding: “Despite victories, judiciarisation is not the solution. Only the struggle pays.”

* Featured image by Chris Zacchia

It must be said that there is no issue more personal than that regarding our health care and family planning choices. It must also be said that in a country that constitutionally recognizes the equality of men and women, the choice of family planning method – which could include abstinence, the pill, condoms, IUDs, or abortion – is NOBODY’s business but the person directly affected by them.

Our government is responsible for upholding the constitution, which includes making sure that groups that do not recognize people’s constitutional right to make their own decisions regarding their healthcare will not get public funds. The Canadian federal government has made this clear via their recent announcement regarding the Canada Summer Jobs Program (CSJ).

The Canada Summer Jobs Program is an initiative by the federal government to encourage employers to take on summer students at the secondary and post-secondary levels by offering to subsidize the students’ wages for them.

The subsidy works for public and private employers as well as non-profit organizations and small businesses and has several priorities including the supporting employers who hire students from underrepresented groups such indigenous Canadians, the disabled, and visible minorities, and those that support opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) for women. Applications for the subsidies must be made by potential employers, though recently the Trudeau government added an additional catch to the program’s requirements.

Those who apply to the CSJ program now have to attest that:

“Both the job and the organization’s core mandate respect individual human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as other rights. These include reproductive rights and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.”

The federal government’s website adds the recognition that women’s rights are human rights and that their rights include “sexual and reproductive rights — and the right to access safe and legal abortions.”

This announcement was never meant to turn Canada into the next front in the battle between those that believe people have a right to their choices and those who do not. That issue was already settled in the early 90s when, following the Supreme Court striking down Canada’s abortion laws in 1988, the Senate voted against a new abortion law put before Parliament by the Mulroney government. Public opinion confirms this, for according to a 2017 Ipsos poll, 77 percent of respondents feel abortion should be permitted.

The announcement was simply meant to be a way to fix a subsidy issue after the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada published a report indicating that federal funding was going to anti-abortion groups in the summer of 2016. Federal Employment Minister Patty Hadju’s office then put out a statement apologizing for the oversight and stating that “no such organizations will receive funding from any constituencies represented by Liberal MPs.”

All the Trudeau government is doing is obeying the law by enforcing the gender equality statutes in the Canadian Charter of Rights by making anyone who does not conform to them ineligible for Federal funding.

It is Conservatives who have turned this minor subsidy issue into a religious crusade about abortion. The fiasco that followed is not an ideological debate about religious freedom but rather the result of some groups’ anger at losing government money they feel they are entitled to.

Organizations like The Southern Alberta Bible Camp who have publicly said “we don’t believe abortion is right” stand to lose about $40 000 in subsidy money if they refuse to sign the aforementioned attestation.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer has accused the Prime Minister – a self-proclaimed “proud feminist”- of imposing his views on faith groups. This is the same Andrew Scheer one of his supporters assured me would not take on abortion rights in Canada following his election to leadership of the party.

“I believe that the federal government should respect the freedoms that Canadians enjoy to have different beliefs and that by imposing personal values of Justin Trudeau on a wide variety of groups is not an appropriate way to go,” Scheer has said.

The government has not said that groups that openly condemn abortion and LGBTQ2 groups cannot operate in Canada. As per our religious freedoms and right to freedom of speech guaranteed in the constitution, they can do as they please within reasonable limits prescribed by law. All the federal government has done is said that they cannot get government money to hire young people to help them do it.

Since the Conservatives have turned this into an abortion issue, let’s look at those that claim to believe in women’s equality and still be pro-life.

Despite the claim of many conservatives, one cannot recognize the constitutional right of women’s equality to men and be pro-life at the same time. It is not feminism these self-proclaimed “pro-life feminists” are embracing, but rather benevolent sexism.

The reason is this: the most secular anti-abortion arguments rest on the unspoken notion that women are not strong enough, mature enough, or intelligent enough to make their own decisions regarding their reproductive health. They are welcome to every freedom men have, except with regards to their deeply personal reproductive choices. ]

They will use arguments about sex selective abortions to make this point, while completely ignoring the numbers and whether or not the procedure was necessary to save the woman’s life. It is the same kind of benevolently sexist argument the most vicious secularists make in Quebec when trying to force Muslim women to stop wearing the hijab or niqab: the infantilizing argument that presumes that no woman is capable of making such a decision of her own free will but rather makes difficult decisions out of selfishness, impulsivity, or external pressure.

It is a notion that must be recognized for what it is: a contradiction of the notion of gender equality entrenched in Canadian law.

Those who stand to lose funds as a result of this will be doing so because their mandate does not fit with that of the Canadian government. We also need to ask how much the federal government will be checking up on those who do sign the attestation.

Is this an administrative rubber stamp where people can attest to one thing and do another? Or will the federal government take steps to make sure that those who do get the funds stay true to their attestation?

Without any sort of checks, the attestation is meaningless.

If it is meaningless, then groups who really want to the money to hire a student to distribute photos of fetuses outside clinics should have no trouble signing it.