Hashtags and the Damage Done

Posted: 07/12/2016 10:00:32 AM





Well here we are – the first week of December – and dare I say, it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. Not because of the sights or sounds of the season but because my Facebook feed is beginning to fill up with pictures of people’s Christmas trees. And boy there are some nice trees out there. I swear some people do a Google image search of “best tree ever” then they post it as their own. It’s times like this I’m convinced that Facebook and Instagram were invented to make people feel like they’re failing at their own lives or, at the very least, failing at the holidays.

I have a friend who takes Christmas very seriously. She works 24/7, weeks and months in advance. The entire extended family shows up but it’s worth it. On Facebook she looks like Martha Stewart. Every picture is stunningly beautiful. Hashtag Christmas! Hashtag family! Hashtag Peace! Meanwhile, in real life, she’s like, “oh see that picture of all of us smiling around the tree? Thirty minutes later the yelling started. Then the baby threw the green peas – scattered from one end of the house to the other.” By the time the holiday’s are over Mom is this close to being institutionalized. But she’s one of the lucky ones; she’s still surrounded by people. She actually loves three quarters of those in attendance.

Christmas is very hard on a lot of people. There’s a lot to live up to and people fall through the cracks. It’s lonely out there plus it gets dark now at 5:00 pm. This year, let’s not aim for perfect, let’s aim for lovely. Let’s count our blessings, take a moment, and make it easier for someone else.

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The Problem With Carding

Posted: 30/11/2016 9:36:02 AM





It’s happening all over the country and it has for years. Saskatoon, Edmonton, Toronto Halifax, the list goes on and on. It’s called ‘carding’. Well the kids call it ‘carding’, the police call it ‘street checks’. This is the practice of some police forces of randomly stopping citizens on the street and questioning them. You know, who are you? Where are you going? Who do you know? What’s your height? What’s your weight? Do you have tattoos? It’s all documented including perceived skin colour. Which is why we know that young black men are carded disproportionately more than anyone else.

Now white people are carded. I don’t know anyone but I’m sure I’ve seen it. Or was that an old war movie where the officer demanded, “May I see your papers please? For no reason whatsoever.

Now carding has always been controversial but instead of just scrapping it, they just keep changing the rules to make it more palatable. For example in Toronto, starting on New Year’s Day, they will continue to card but they will no longer card anyone based on their race. Wow, there are baby steps and then there are little tiny baby steps.

This is a tough one for me. I have complete respect for police officers and the job they do. In this country people call the cops for everything. For every bump in the night, to every serious crime, to a million things in between. It is go go go with that job. Where they find the time to card people, I have no idea. But it happens too often.

I have never been stopped and questioned by the police for no reason. I have never felt intimidated. I hate to think that is in part because of the colour of my skin. I like cops. I like to see cops coming. If we stop carding. Maybe, eventually everyone will feel the same, regardless of race.

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Race to the Bottom

Posted: 23/11/2016 10:00:07 AM





So people are finally starting to pay attention to the Conservative leadership race. Normally that would make me so happy. I just wish they were paying attention because there are 13 candidates, from all walks of life, from all regions of Canada, with very exciting ideas. Not so much.

People are mostly paying attention because Dr. Kellie Leitch has emerged as a front runner. You remember her. During the last election she’s the one that wanted to introduce a barbaric cultural practices hotline to Canada. Sort of like a toll free number you could call if brown people moved into your neighbourhood. That policy cost the Tories the election but it launched her leadership bid.

Now she is a very impressive candidate. She’s trilingual—she speaks English, French and a secret language that only really angry white people can understand. Her latest plan is that all visitors to this country must be screened for Canadian values. No biggie really. If you look like me and your cousins show up from California or the UK, you’ll be fine. If your name is Omar or Achmed, you might want to schedule a few extra hours out at the airport.  Or maybe you could go visit them.

Now a lot of Conservatives say we should just ignore her because she’s just doing this to get attention. I don’t buy that. There are far less offensive ways to get attention. I got on the subway the other day and a dude had a tattoo of an excited pig on his face. Certainly got my attention. Now I wouldn’t vote for the guy but, who knows, maybe some people would. In a post Trump world, anything is possible.

Look, leader of the Conservative Party is a very big job. It is just steps away from the Prime Minister’s office. And in a 150 years no one has made it there simply by race baiting. If you’re a Conservative, please get involved otherwise, someone might.


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America's Got Trump

Posted: 16/11/2016 9:31:00 AM





Eight years ago, on November the fourth, I was lucky enough to find myself in New York City. It was the night that Barack Obama was first elected the President of the United States of America. History in the making. The feeling of optimism and “yes we can” was on bust. And I remember thinking, in my entire life, I will never again witness an election as transformative as this one. And I remember thinking tonight America deserves the title ‘greatest nation on Earth.’

Eight years later turns out I was wrong on both fronts. Who would have guessed that after electing a black president twice, they would follow up with an orange one. But I tell you one thing, it’s true—in America anyone can grow up to be president. Literally anyone. Narcissist? Tax dodger? Do your hobbies include sitting around on a giant gold throne? Yes? To the front of the line.

Our neighbours to the south have made a choice. Some suggest this choice was made out of anger. To the angry American voter I say, next time, why not punch a wall or go for a walk around the block. Because this is a very dangerous experiment you have embarked on. Obviously we honour your choice. And as Canadians, your greatest friends and admirers, we welcome Chachi as the new US ambassador. And as far as the new President goes, the magnitude and dignity of the office wins the day.

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Partly Cloudy Sunny Ways

Posted: 02/11/2016 9:32:15 AM





So one year and a bit ago Justin Trudeau won his majority government. Sunny ways, my friends, sunny ways. And on this 'Trudeauversary' two stories caught my eye. The first one is about the fundraising. Thanks to Justin Trudeau, any average Canadian citizen with a dream and fifteen-hundred dollars can go to a party, eat cheese and get one-on-one time with a cabinet minister. Now this kind of thing has gone on since 1867. The difference is, Justin Trudeau promised, straight up, it would never happen on his watch.

It’s called “cash for access.” And that’s what it’s all about -- access. Why else would anyone pay any money at all to see the Finance Minister in person? It’s not like the man can sing. Honey good news! I just scored two tickets to see Bill Morneau in some rich dudes’ living room, only cost us three grand for the pair, said no person ever.

The other story involved Justin himself.  Off he went to the Canadian Labour Congress to speak to a youth forum and the youth they booed him. Wow, that’s gotta hurt. I don’t remember Stephen Harper ever being booed at an oil and gas conference.

And what did Justin Trudeau say to these angry young people who were upset because he’s not fulfilling his promises? Justin said he was the one who was ‘disappointed’ in them.  Yes, he used the word disappointed. He really is a teacher, isn’t he? If I had a dollar for every time a teacher told me they were disappointed with me, well, I guess I could buy a ticket to drink bad wine and hang out with the Finance Minister.

Sunny ways, my friend, sunny ways. One year out. They’re starting to lose their way.

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