A tale of two nations, comparative lunacy from the desk of John Oliver-
A tale of two nations, comparative lunacy from the desk of John Oliver-
Every so often Justin Trudeau kicks ass – specifically, when he pisses off right wing America by expressing honest, tempered, polite, sensible reason. For the most part right wing America scoffs at my home and native land. Dismissing Canada as a hopeless puddle of brackish socialism suits conservative America’s agenda. So when our Prime Minister attracts the wrath of chest thumping U.S. troglodytes, this Canadian takes polite delight.
For the record Canadians have nothing to prove. We don’t seek U.S. approval or pine for the American dream. In the interest of amicable cross border relations we mind our own business. Once in a while right wing America can’t take perceived Canadian affronts to all they hold dear. They tolerated Canada under Conservative leader Stephen Harper, at least Harper tried to squelch gender, sexual orientation and abortion rights. Yesterday Justin Trudeau stood behind Canadian values – right wing America went nuts.
$220 million federal dollars courtesy the Canada Summer Jobs Program wait for qualified applicants, a subsidized grant program designed to create student employment. Here’s the catch – organizations must sign a form attesting that neither their core mission, nor the job being funded, opposes human rights including reproductive rights. Trudeau ( a Catholic for those who care since Canada doesn’t ) said –
“Certainly there is no obligation by the government of Canada to fund organizations that are determined to remove rights that have been so long fought for by women” adding “An organization that has as its stated goal to remove rights from Canadians, to remove the right that women have fought for to determine what happens to their own bodies, is not in line with where the charter (of Rights) is or where the government of Canada is”.
“For years local MPs set out which groups would be given priority to receive funding under the jobs program.
The Liberals say that under that system, groups which promoted anti-abortion or anti-LGBTQ messages applied for and got federal money, including anti-abortion groups such as Campaign Life Coalition, Life Site News, Priests for Life, and the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform.
After a review last summer, the Liberal government revised eligibility criteria for the program. It now requires that the “core mandate” of an organization “must respect individual human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
The government’s website says the new criteria does not exclude churches or faith-based groups, but it does say the group’s work must respect Charter values including “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.”
Toronto Right To Life Association declared it will challenge government in court. The Campaign Life coalition website accuses the Trudeau government of wanting citizens to “renounce their faith”. Yesterday morning right wing America took exception, “Fox and Friends” host Brian Kilmeade said – “What message is he trying to send us, maybe?”, co-host Rachel Campos-Duffy countered – “What happens in Canada often comes down to us. This is an effort to silence pro-lifers. This is a sign of intolerance. If you have a pro-life view you’re not welcome to share it or else you’re kicked out of this program”.
What’s wrong with these people? Trudeau respects freedom of religion, is it too much to ask religion to respect the Canadian Charter of Rights? Pro-life organizations are free to hand out street corner flyers, organize marches, protest peacefully outside clinics.Trudeau’s Canada, my Canada, guarantees freedom of religion under the Charter of Rights. That said, the Canadian government has no obligation to fund objectives contrary to law of the land.
This Canadian applauds Trudeau for calling bullshit on funding efforts to strip women of fundamental rights. Pro-lifers, knock yourselves out but pay for it out of your own pockets. Trudeau doesn’t want anyone to renounce their faith, freedom of religion is alive and well in Canada. Count yourselves lucky and stop whining because the government won’t fund agendas contrary to the Charter of Rights. As for right wing America “what happens in Canada often comes down to us” – surely you jest. Fox News wouldn’t recognize integrity if it slapped them in the face. Blither on America – at the end of the day you’re stuck with Trump and Canada has Justin Trudeau.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dropped jaws yesterday. In a display of overt frustration, Trudeau called bat shit on further delays to a vote on bill C-14 – the legalization of physician assisted suicide. Trudeau’s majority Liberal Party halted debate, asking members to vote. The trouble is voting can’t commence until all members are seated. A group of NDP MP’s, including Tom Mulcair surrounded opposition Conservative Party whip Gord Brown. Suddenly Trudeau crosses the floor, assertively taking Brown’s arm to lead him past the cluster of NDP.
Without question, Trudeau’s actions were unexpected. In his determination to eradicate exasperating nonsense, NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau was jostled as Justin turned to exit the throng. Holy crap – polite Canadian politics don’t get better than this! Take a minute to watch the clip –
Trudeau’s behavior might not have been the most appropriate – as realized in his immediate apology and further expression of regret today. But assault, manhandling of MP Brosseau? Come on people – settle down. Suck it up Brosseau, quit whining long enough to realize the genesis of Trudeau’s frustration. Sit down, cast your vote and be done with it.
As far as I’m concerned, it was freaking awesome. Freak points for daring to bend political conformity, awesome status for creating scandal based on honest emotion rather than greed, corruption or blatant lies.
On November 3, 2015 Justin Trudeau was sworn in as Canada’s 23rd Prime Minister. Introduction of his 31 cabinet ministers evaporating any doubt Canada was back on track. True to his word, gender equality and regional representation serve our country, but fall short of capturing the diverse essence of our nation reborn.
Former astronaut Marc Garneau – Minister of Transport, Kent Hehr paralyzed at 19 by stray bullets in a drive by shooting – Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defense. Maryam Monsef, the 30 year old rookie MP who fled Afghanistan at age 11 with her widowed mother and sisters. Canada’s first Afghan-Canadian MP – now presiding over Democratic Institutions.
Astronaut, physical disability and young female refugee aside, Harjit Sajjan our newly appointed Minister of National Defence epitomizes Trudeau’s Canada.
Born in India, Harjit’s family immigrated to Canada when he was 5. As a member of the Canadian Armed Forces (now retired lieutenant-colonel Sajjan) participated in four deployments (one to Bosnia, 3 to Afghanistan). The first Sikh to command a Canadian army regiment, he has been awarded thirteen honours for distinguished military service. Harjit also served 11 years with the Vancouver Police Department, selected as Detective with the Gang Crime Unit.
Order of Military Merit
Meritorious Service Medal
Southwest Asia Service Medal (Afghanistan)
General Campaign Star (Afghanistan)
Mention in Dispatch
Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal
NATO Service Medal (Bosnia)
Golden Jubilee Medal
Diamond Jubilee Medal
Canadian Forces’ Decoration
US Army Commendation Medal
Chief of Defence Staff Commendation
Deputy Minister Award (Department of National Defence)
Linked below, a full list of Liberal cabinet ministers.
Sworn in as Minister of National Defence
Harjit Sajjan replaces outgoing Conservative Defence Minister Jason Kenney. Born in Ontario, raised in rural Saskatchewan, Kenney studied philosophy at the Jesuit University of San Francisco. 29 year old Kenney became a career politician in 1997 when elected as a Reform Party MP. Under Harper, Kenney served multiple ministerial appointments – Employment and Social Development, Multiculturalism, Citizenship and Immigration – assuming the position of Defence Minister earlier this year.
Highlights of his Defence Minister legacy include – claiming Russian warships confronted the Canadian Navy (stated Russian fighters “buzzed” the HMCS Fredericton at low altitude while it took part in a NATO exercise off Ukraine) A claim NATO politely clarified – Russian ships could be seen on the horizon, nobody got buzzed. He pulled a “George Bush” to secure support for Canadian air strikes in Syria, claiming of the coalition forces, only the U.S. and Canada had planes capable of using precision guided munitions – proved to be utter nonsense, Saudi Arabia and the Arab Emirates were perfectly capable of precision guidance. Unfazed, Kenney tweeted a photograph of Ashura procession (a Shia Muslim observance to commemorate the martyrdom of Prophet Mohammad’s grandson Imam Hussain ) as an image of ISIS slaves.
If Trudeau’s cabinet is any indication, Canadians have a lot to feel good about. Harper’s pompous shenanigans gather dust, Jason Kenney’s re-election is irrelevant, and our new Minister of National Defence is a turban clad distinguished military veteran born in India. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Last night Canada remembered what it meant to be Canadian. Ours isn’t a nation of hysterical fear. Slick manipulation of truth can’t sway us. Average citizens can change the world – we proved financial might doesn’t make right. Canada demolished conservative values, we recognized those values for what they were – self serving, hypocritical poppycock.
Trudeau’s solid majority exceeded my wildest dreams. Then came his victory speech. Holy crap, this is too good – Trudeau unleashed his inner Abraham Lincoln. From Lincoln’s inauguration speech –
Justin Trudeau last night –
“You can appeal to the better angels of our nature and you can win while doing that.”
Trudeau told the cheering crowd. “In Canada, better is always possible.”“We beat fear with hope. We beat cynicism with hard work. We beat negative politics,”
In 1861, Abraham Lincoln shared a rough draft of his inaugural speech with Secretary of State William Seward. Seward recommended revisions for Lincoln to consider. including “better angels” from Charles Dickens novel Barnaby Rudge. Seward admired Dickens, Lincoln was moved and adapted “our better angels” into “better angels of our nature” in his inaugural speech.
As an aside – Dickens, simply because it’s worth pondering –
“The thoughts of worldly men are for ever regulated by a moral law of gravitation, which, like the physical one, holds them down to earth. The bright glory of day, and the silent wonders of a starlit night, appeal to their minds in vain. There are no signs in the sun, or in the moon, or in the stars, for their reading. They are like some wise men, who, learning to know each planet by its Latin name, have quite forgotten such small heavenly constellations as Charity, Forbearance, Universal Love, and Mercy, although they shine by night and day so brightly that the blind may see them; and who, looking upward at the spangled sky, see nothing there but the reflection of their own great wisdom and book-learning…
“It is curious to imagine these people of the world, busy in thought, turning their eyes towards the countless spheres that shine above us, and making them reflect the only images their minds contain…So do the shadows of our own desires stand between us and our better angels, and thus their brightness is eclipsed. (italics added)
Since 1969 Canadian women have had access to legal abortions. Legalization originated with a bill introduced by then Justice Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, amending Section 251 of the Criminal Code allowing abortions if a woman’s “health” was deemed “at risk”. The word “health” wasn’t defined or limited. The government wasn’t involved, approvals granted by a panel of three doctors. Abortions took place in accredited hospitals by a licensed doctor, all other abortions remained under the Criminal Code.
In 1988 the Supreme Court struck down Section 251 of the Criminal Code following a challenge brought by Henry Morgentaler. The court ruled law not applied equally across the country violated the “security of the person” guarantee under Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom – some hospitals didn’t form abortion committees, others approved all abortions, a few became known for unreasonably strict judgement. Only one of the seven Supreme Court Justices, Madame Justice Bertha Wilson supported a woman’s right to abortion in the first trimester. Ultimately the court’s decision was based on procedural grounds. The court didn’t declare abortion a constitutional right, nor did it extend rights to a fetus.
In 1989 Prime Minister Mulroney introduced a bill restricting abortion to “health reasons only”, with a 2 year jail sentence for doctors who crossed the law. It passed the House of Commons, then fizzled into obscurity with a tie vote in the Senate. Since 1988, all Canadian woman have a right to legal abortion. Unrestricted up to the time of birth. In 2008 Dr. Henry Morgantaler was awarded the Order of Canada “for his commitment to increased health care options for women, his determined efforts to influence Canadian public policy and his leadership in humanist and civil liberties organizations.”
Why ponder abortion in Canada? A story out of Saskatchewan answers that question. With the Federal election in full swing, anti-abortion group CCBR (Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform) is going after Justin Trudeau. CCBR members first appeared on Saskatoon street-corners in June, offering pamphlets with graphic full colour images of aborted fetuses. Faster than Stephen Harper could call an election over the holiday weekend, CCBR members stuffed images of Justin Trudeau beside aborted fetuses into unsealed white envelopes, asking Canada Post to deliver “a vote for Trudeau is a vote for this” to unsuspecting households.
Julee Sanderson, head of the Canadian Postal Workers Union in Saskatoon voiced sentiments of horrified postal workers.
“They don’t want to be subjected to the public scrutiny by delivering a flyer that obviously is a political flyer made to shock people,” she added. “A lot of them feel as though Canada Post should not be engaging in this type of delivery.”
“We have keys to enter buildings, to put mail into mailboxes, or community mailboxes that other organizations or flyer delivery companies don’t have access to, and [receiving these kinds of flyers] is not a consumer’s choice,” said Sanderson.
Canada Post considers refusal to deliver mail serious misconduct, punishable with a 3-5 day suspension without pay. On Wednesday 4 letter carriers refused to deliver CCBR pamphlets. Their supervisor told them to go home, then changed his mind and said they could work today, Sanderson said.
Why can’t anti-abortion zealots let it go? Canada allowed freedom of choice 27 years ago, do they actually believe Canada willing to turn back time? Do they think abortion is a frivolous decision? Do they consider the fate of marginalized, unwanted children? Have they a clue about the state of Canada’s child welfare system? Why should postal workers be forced to deliver graphic material to unsuspecting households when the issue is a done deal? What do they hope to gain by standing on soap boxes?
This is Canada. Canadians don’t force other Canadians to deliver graphic election propaganda against their will. CCBR pamphlets cross all boundaries of common sense and decency. Abortion is legal in Canada, and there are much bigger fish to fry.
Today is one of those days when I’m easily annoyed; not in an angry, blood boiling way – simply a day when Canada strikes me as a pointlessly silly nation. I suppose that’s where annoyance comes in; I don’t mind jokes about Canada, it’s when we behave like idiots deserving snickers – that’s when I ponder the mindset of this great nation.
In no particular order, a few silly stories on this Canadians mind…..
Beluga Yoga protest at the Vancouver Aquarium yesterday struck me as rather silly. Granted, Vancouver is responsible for Lululemon; founder Chip Wilson found himself in hot water recently when he said “some women’s bodies don’t work for their yoga pants”, something to do with large thighs stretching the fabric, combined with “rubbing”, excluded those beyond size 12 from purchasing his $75.00 yoga pants. A petition is now circulating with the demand that Lululemon “stops shaming women’s bodies, apologizes and starts making pants for women of all sizes”. I’m rambling – back to Beluga yoga – the Vancouver Aquarium, a lovely facility in Stanley Park, began offering yoga classes beside the interior viewing area for Beluga whales. This landed like a lead balloon with certain yoga purists; yoga being about “freedom, unity and liberation”, the perplexed yogis staged a protest outside the facility. They held a yoga protest – and I mean that literally – yoga poses and placards in the parking lot. Nary a peep when Girl Guides camp in this space overnight or a swanky dinner is catered – all yogi hell breaks loose when yoga classes assault sensibilities. Plain silly.
I suppose I can’t call this silly – at least not as silly as beluga yoga – it got under my skin just the same. Driving today I heard a political attack ad, courtesy of our Conservative government. Justin Trudeau, leader of the federal Liberal party has come out in favour of legalizing marijuana. Trudeau has stated openly that he’s smoked marijuana during the time he sat as a member of parliament, emphasizes the value of regulation, and stresses the importance of regulation rather than a continuation of failures concerning the “war on drugs”. Trudeau is realistic, practical and refreshingly honest. I literally threw up in my mouth as I heard a 30 second “spot”, undoubtedly paid for with my tax dollars – a “concerned mother” blasting Trudeau for turning Canadian children onto recreational drugs, asking if this was any sort of roll model our country needed. Holy crap.
I promised myself I wouldn’t waste a moment pondering ridiculous Rob Ford – I confess, this zinger crossed the line; in reference to his former special assistant, Ford blurted at a press conference…
“Oh and the last thing was Olivia Gondek, it says it says that I wanted to eat her pussy. Olivia Gondek, I’ve never said that in my life to her. I would never do that. I’m happily married. I’ve got more than enough to eat at home. Thank you very much.”
Rob Ford is beyond silly; the “Ford show” more a SNL skit than reality. Perhaps Ford should attend Beluga yoga.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford wipes his face during council at City Hall in Toronto, November 14, 2013. REUTERS/Mar
Far from being a list maker, stuff rattles about my head – coming to the surface for no reason I can discern. Such was the case as I vacuumed the living room tonight and this ponder drifted to the surface. More accurately, my thoughts progressed from mild annoyance at the Republican vendetta against Obama, to a few minutes hard thinking on how “the people” could take back our political systems, and finally – Canadians I admire. Go figure; it doesn’t have to be a logical progression to get me fired up. By the time the room was clean – I had a serious ponder on the tip of my tongue.
Off the top of my head, three men came to mind. Romeo Dallaire, Tommy Douglas, and John Ware. Far from being “listed” because of political, religious or moral grounds – these men stood out among many, as people who genuinely cared. People who lived by a code of ethics, sense of national pride or duty and acted not out of self interest but a far greater purpose. People who put others before themselves, people who stood for something.
I can’t shake the feeling that our world needs a few more people willing to stand for something; people who can’t be “bought”, swayed or manipulated. We need people willing to go out on a limb – people tenacious enough to bring about change. I’d just about given up on the concept of a Canadian politician possessing these qualities – then I heard Justin Trudeau’s speech after being elected as leader of the Liberal party earlier this year. I can honestly say – I haven’t felt excitement like this in decades – maybe never. Justin Trudeau is a breath of fresh air; a man who just might be able to clear the dust out of Canadian politics. Trudeau, despite his political father’s legacy – doesn’t reside in the “old boy’s” club. He loves Canada, believes in restoring all of what makes Canada a special nation and doesn’t give a rat’s ass what stuffy Conservatives think. I suspect that someday, somewhere, some Canadian will write about what a “great Canadian” Justin Trudeau is.
An excerpt from his speech after winning the Liberal leadership. Following – a link to the entire speech.
“We are fed up with leaders who pit Canadians against Canadians. West against East, rich against poor, Quebec against the rest of the country, urban against rural.
Canadians are looking to us, my friends. They are giving us a chance, hopeful that the party of Wilfrid Laurier can rediscover its sunny ways.
Hopeful that positive politics has a fighting chance against the steady barrage of negativity that you and I both know is coming soon to TV screens across Canada. The phone messages, our volunteers tell us, have already started.
To adapt a sentiment from the great American President Franklin D. Roosevelt: never before in this country have the forces of negativity, cynicism and fear been so united in their hostility toward one candidate.
The Conservative Party will now do what it does. It will try to spread fear. It will sow cynicism. It will attempt to convince Canadians that we should be satisfied with what we have now.
For at the heart of their unambitious agenda is the idea that “better” is just not possible.
That to hope for something more from our politics and our leaders, more humanity, more transparency, more compassion, is naive and inevitably, will lead to disappointment.
And they will promote that divisive and destructive idea with passionate intensity. They will do so for a simple reason…
They are afraid. But… And I want to make this perfectly clear… My fellow Canadians, it is not my leadership that Mr. Harper and his party fear.
There is nothing that these Conservatives fear more than an engaged and informed Canadian citizen.
My friends, if I have learned one thing in this life, it’s that our country is blessed with countless numbers of activist citizens, from all walks of life, and of all political views. They have come out by the thousands over the course of this campaign.
They’ve gathered by the hundreds in places like Ponoka Alberta and Oliver BC, Prince Albert Saskatchewan and Île-des-Chênes Manitoba. Canadians who thought they were sending community leaders to be their voice in Ottawa, but instead got only Mr. Harper’s voice back in their communities.
We’ve seen their hopeful faces in crowds of Canadians gathered in Windsor and Whitby, Mississauga and Markham. Middle class Canadians who are putting much into the economy and getting too little in return.
We’ve seen hard-working Atlantic Canadians from Edmunston to Halifax, from Summerside to St John’s, who have decided that this is a government that does not share their values.
To my friends in Labrador, I look forward to seeing you very soon.
We’ve met young Aboriginal leaders from all across this country, from Tk’emlups to Whapmagoostui, who are simply tired of being forced to the margins of this country. With the courage to walk 1600 kilometres through a Canadian winter to make the point that they will be Idle no More.
Francophones who live in Shediac, Sudbury, St Boniface and all across this country who want their children to live and thrive in French, your determination inspires me, it must inspire the entire country.
Quebecers, from Gatineau to Gaspé, who want to re-engage with this country. With their country. Who have no time for the divisive issues of their parents’ past, but want to work with Canadians who share their values to build a better country for all our kids.
I want to take a moment to speak directly to my fellow Quebecers. Your engagement and your support in recent months has been deeply moving. I have learned so much from our conversations and our meetings I take nothing for granted. I understand that trust can only be earned. And my plan is to earn yours.
I feel confident about the future. I want to share with you why
Quebecers have always been builders. From Champlain and Laurier to today, they have actively participated in shaping our country, together with so many other Canadians. Our work is not complete. We face enormous challenges
Helping the middle-class make ends meet. Reconciling economic growth and environmental stewardship. Playing a positive and meaningful role in the world.
To rise above these challenges we must demonstrate our audacity and ambition, my friends.
Audacity and ambition, always.
Lets be honest. We will not convince everyone. There will always be skeptics. People who say that our country is too big and too full of differences to be effectively managed, or for everyone to be represented. They are wrong my friends.
I am not claiming that it will always be easy. That there will not be any obstacles along the way. That we will not have to make some compromises.
Canada is a grand, yet unfinished project. And it is up to us, together with all Canadians, to build the country that we want.
The time has come for us to write a new chapter in the history of our country.
Let’s leave to others the old quarrels and old debates that lead nowhere. Let’s leave to others the ultra-partisan rhetoric and the old ways of doing politics. Let’s leave the personal attacks to them.
Quebecers, let us be, together, once again, builders of Canada.
So that our country can match the height of the dreams and ambitions that are shared across this country. So that we can leave our children a better world than the one that we inherited from our parents.
My friends, the Liberal Party will regain the confidence of Canadians when it proves that it is here to serve them. This is the task at hand. This is what will guide me as Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.
To the new generation of Canadians and to all the young people who are not engaged by politics, I have a very simple message for you.
Your country needs you
It needs your energy and your passion
It needs your idealism and your ideas
The movement we are have been building over the past 6 months, it is yours. It belongs to you.
It is the movement with which we will change politics.
It is the movement that will allow us to reform our political institutions, to make reconciling the environment and our economy a real priority, and to play a positive and constructive role in the world.
My fellow Liberals, Canadians are looking to us. This campaign has been their campaign, more than just ours.
They want something better. They refuse to believe that better is not possible. They see the country their parents and grandparents worked so hard to build, and want to hand an even better country to their children.
Canadians share deep values that cannot be shaken, no matter how hard the Conservative Party may try. Optimism. Openness. Compassion. Service to community.
Generosity of spirit.
We want to believe that change can happen. We want leadership that will shape our best instincts into an even better country.
But Canadians will not suffer fools gladly. Canadians turned away from us because we turned away from them. Because Liberals became more focused on fighting with each other, than fighting for Canadians.
Well, I don’t care if you thought my father was a great or arrogant. It doesn’t matter to me if you were a Chretien-Liberal, a Turner-Liberal, a Martin-Liberal or any other kind of Liberal. The era of hyphenated Liberals ends right here, tonight”