By macleans.ca - Friday, April 26, 2013 - 0 Comments
The Maclean’s Ottawa bureau talks politics:
This week’s talking points:
- Did the Tory backbenchers gain anything from the Speaker’s decision this week?
- What’s worth watching for in the political party ad wars?
- What is not being debated these days in the House?
By Emma Teitel - Friday, April 26, 2013 at 10:23 AM - 0 Comments
Acts of religiously motivated terrorism, or in Canada’s case, foiled plans of religiously motivated terrorism, do not generally bode well for multiculturalism.
In the wake of Boston, and news of the VIA Rail plot, people are left to wonder about the merits of cultural pluralism. What are we to make of terrorists and would-be terrorists who weren’t disciples of Osama bin Laden, but outwardly happy inhabitants of the Western world. These people studied here, made friends here, sang the national anthem beside us after the morning school bell. It’s easier to conceive of blind hatred when the person doing the hating has never come into direct contact with the thing he hates: the skinhead who has never met a Jew, the righteous belieber who has never read the Diary of Anne Frank. But these men knew us.
It’s easy to become disillusioned with multiculturalism and religious tolerance when we fixate on the people trying to obliterate these ideals. Yet look to the faith communities that these men thought they were a valuable part of and it becomes clear that multiculturalism, co-operation, tolerance — all the cheesy Canadian principles Fox News makes fun of us for—are alive and well. So too are we, quite possibly, because a Canadian imam tipped the RCMP about a shady member of his mosque—a potential religious extremist. If Raed Jaser and Chiheb Esseghaier are the villains in this story, the anonymous imam is our hero.
I don’t usually agree with Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, but I can’t fault him for these comments he made to the National Post:
“The community involvement in dealing with these kinds of activities is absolutely essential. In that context, I’d specifically want to point out the fact that the Muslim community was very instrumental in providing very crucial information that helped the police in this case.”
The actions of the Cambridge Muslim community speak for themselves. The Tsarnaevs’ mosque refused to give Tamerlan a funeral. Yusufi Vali, executive director of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Centre, Boston’s biggest mosque—denounced the brothers and their alleged crimes:
“I don’t care who or what these criminals claim to be, but I can never recognize these criminals as part of my city or my faith community. All of us Bostonians want these criminals to be brought to justice immediately. I am infuriated at the criminals of these bombings for trying to rip our city apart. We will remain united and not let them change who we are as Bostonians.”
Anyone cynical about multiculturalism and suspicious of foreigners in the wake of this month’s events would do well to remember that these suspects—Tamerlan and Dhokhar Tsarnaev, Raed Jaser and Chiheb Esseghaier—do not speak for their communities. But their communities have spoken for them, and their message is clear: Those guys are not with us.
By Jesse Brown - Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 10:35 AM - 0 Comments
What role did the website reddit play in the aftermath to the Boston Marathon bombings? It depends who you ask.
GigaOm’s Mathew Ingram maintains that in crowdsourcing the manhunt for the bombers, reddit was practising a new kind of unruly journalism. Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic feels that in mistakenly identifying an innocent man as a suspect, reddit was guilty of reprehensible vigilantism. Reddit’s official blog has called the campaign a “witch hunt,” scrubbed the thread from its servers and apologized. Others feel reddit has no need to apologize.
I think they’re all wrong. “Reddit” didn’t do anything. The site is an open, anonymous forum where anyone can say anything. It’s comprised of millions of people, using pseudonyms to link to stories, make comments, share content and rank each other’s input. When someone on reddit is saying one thing, someone else is saying the opposite.
When we blame or applaud reddit for the /r/findbostonbombers thread, are we blaming “oops777,” the user who started the thread? Is he “reddit”? Or is it the user who pointed a finger at the wrong guy? What about the thousands of users who participated in the thread (some of whom did so in order to criticize it), or the millions who followed the thread without contributing to it? This audience contained dozens of journalists covering the story, some of whom ran with the erroneous information they found there. Is reddit to blame for this spread of false information onto Twitter, Facebook, and then into mainstream news reports?
It’s a ridiculous question. For our purposes, in making sense of what happened last week, reddit doesn’t really exist. It’s not an organization or individual of any kind. It’s as useless a noun as ”the Internet,” or “humanity.” Is humanity to blame for the Boston bombings? I guess so, but that’s a pointless way to think about it.
A couple of dudes are the culprits, allegedly. Similarly, people are individually responsible for each act of analysis, documentation, rumour mongering and hysteria that occurred during those frightening hours. Whether they were pursuing these actions on reddit, Twitter, or the nightly news is beside the point.
Despite what the headlines say, reddit did not apologize for what happened. It can’t, any more than the city of Boston can apologize for what happened. Like reddit, Boston is just a place where things transpired. Reddit’s staff regrets some of what happened on its service, and that’s fine.
But the lesson for me, as someone who’s as guilty as anyone of using this easy shorthand, of ascribing actions or motives to Twitter, to Anonymous, to 4Chan, or to the Internet itself, is that the practice should stop. It’s fun to say “the Internet” loves authenticity or that “Anonymous” has targeted so-and-so. Perhaps there was a time when it meant something, when the Internet itself had a certain culture, or when Anonymous was a specific community. No longer. On this point at least, technology critic Evgeny Morozov is right- the Internet does not exist. The Internet is almost everyone now, which also means that it’s no one.
I need to find new language to talk about these things, as difficult as that will be.
Follow Jesse on Twitter @JesseBrown
By Emma Teitel - Monday, April 22, 2013 at 6:26 PM - 0 Comments
Shortly after the Tsarnaev brothers allegedly bombed their own city and a day before they took their armory to Watertown, the U.S. Senate defeated a bi-partisan gun control amendment that aimed to expand background checks for gun buyers. President Obama was furious. Vice President Joe Biden verged on tears, while Newtown families in Washington wept openly.
“We’ll return home now, disappointed but not defeated,” said Mark Barden, whose seven-year-old was one of 20 children shot and killed by Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. “We return home with a determination that change will happen. Maybe not today, but it will happen. It will happen soon.”
Or perhaps not at all. In the wake of Boston some might see heightened hope for the gun control lobby. Paul M. Barrett at Bloomberg Businessweek sees the opposite:
“I’ll predict that the unrest emanating from Boston will benefit the National Rifle Association and its allies in their campaign for widespread individual firearm ownership. For better or worse, the pro-gun side thrives on heightened anxiety … As any gun manufacturer will tell you, the 9/11 attacks helped sales at firearm counters around the country and strengthened the NRA’s hand in lobbying against greater federal restrictions.”
Arkansas State Representative and long-time NRA member Nate Bell tweeted the following on the weekend: “I wonder how many Boston liberals spent the night cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a hi-capacity magazine?” Cain TV —Herman Cain’s TV network—was equally subtle: “Just wondering: wouldn’t it be good right now if everyone in Boston had a gun?”
To follow the NRA’s logic—“the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun”—the more good guys with guns, the better. The more gun owners who are “law-abiding citizens”—to use the right’s new favourite expression (“job creators” is so 2012)–the less likely criminals are to shoot up the neighbourhood and hide in your boat. According to the NRA, merely following the law is proof you should have unlimited access to the tools most convenient for breaking it. The gun lobby doesn’t just thrive on fear mongering, or “heightened anxiety,” as Barrett calls it. It thrives on the myth that the law-abiding citizen will never cease to be one. And so its leaders ask, every time a new measure comes before the Senate, every time a violent tragedy strikes somewhere in their country:
Why should harmless, law-abiding citizens, be inconvenienced and insulted with extensive background checks when we have no reason to fear them?
The answer is simple: Until last week we had no apparent reason to fear a person like Dzhohkar Tsarnaev, the “popular” teenage wrestler, handsome stoner, and — at least as far as his father is concerned—“angel” on Earth. Until last week, the brothers Tsarnaev were seemingly harmless, law-abiding citizens. (The older brother’s rumoured domestic violence charge has not yet been verified and there’s nothing illegal about watching unsavoury YouTube videos.) Neither showed any desire to commit mass murder. Everyone’s query, now that four people are dead and nearly 200 are injured, about how two supposedly normal individuals could be capable of such atrocities, is in essence, an answer. It’s the answer to the gun-control, background-check debate: we never know, ultimately, who is capable of evil and who isn’t. We only talk about “root causes” once they’ve torn through the earth and fulfilled their twisted purpose. The Boston Marathon bombing isn’t proof that people need weapons to protect themselves from monsters. It’s proof that any one of us could be a monster. We are all law-abiding citizens until we aren’t.
Why shouldn’t “everyone in Boston have a gun?” Because until last week, Dzhohkar Tsarnaev was everyone. No one today would protect his right to forego an extensive background check on the purchase of a weapon. So why last week? Why ever?
By macleans.ca - Friday, April 19, 2013 at 1:59 AM - 0 Comments
One university police officer is dead after a shooting on the MIT campus in…
One university police officer is dead after a shooting on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
According to local media reports, he sustained “multiple gunshot wounds” at 10:48 p.m Thursday night.
As of 1:30 a.m., the university website said the suspect is still at large, and urged students and faculty to remain indoors for their safety.
More shots and explosions have been reported in Watertown, just west of Cambridge.
One suspect has been apprehended by police, according to CNN.
No links have been made yet if the shooting has any connection to the Boston Marathon bombing.
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 3:16 PM - 0 Comments
In the latest issue of Batgirl, a character named Alysia Yeoh reveals she’s transgendered,…
In the latest issue of Batgirl, a character named Alysia Yeoh reveals she’s transgendered, and herroommate,BarbaraGordon, a.k.a. Batgirl, responds with a hug.
The storyline was created by writer Gail Simone, who notes that the world of comic-book superheroes is becoming more diverse.
In 2012, Green Lantern revealed he is gay, and that same year, Northstar (the first superhero to come out, in 1992) married his long-time partner, Kyle.
Batwoman, who headlines her own title, is a lesbian. Diversity is “the issue for super- hero comics,” Simone told Wired, noting that many of her indus- try’s most recognizable characters were dreamed up half a century ago, when sexuality and gender issues were treated much differently. If writers were to simply build around those characters, “then we look like an episode of The Andy Griffith Show for all eternity.”
By Martin Patriquin - Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 12:31 PM - 0 Comments
I spent most of yesterday wandering around Boston for a piece about the bombings…
I spent most of yesterday wandering around Boston for a piece about the bombings to be published in the magazine. It marks the second consecutive time I’ve driven to the U.S. for work with the country’s flag flying at half staff; in December, I hustled to Newtown, Connecticut, to cover the Sandy Hook massacre.
You’d think rushing to a place that isn’t your own to witness and chronicle the aftermath of calamity would be depressing, and it is at times. You feel like a disaster tourist, there only to see the worst and get out. It doesn’t help that in each case, I’ve felt compelled to contact my sisters in the States to make absolutely sure they weren’t affected by the guns and bombs going off south of the border.
By macleans.ca - Monday, April 15, 2013 at 5:30 PM - 0 Comments
By macleans.ca - Monday, April 15, 2013 at 4:01 PM - 0 Comments
Who’s saying what about Season 6, episode 2
Re: Mad Men, Season 6, episode 2: The Collaborators
By all accounts, Trudy Campbell had the best lines and maybe even the best scene in last night’s episode of Mad Men. After cleaning up after her husband’s latest extra-curricular encounter, she put him on warning.
Trudy: We’re done, Peter. This is over. I refuse to be a failure. I don’t care what you want anymore. This is how it’s going to work. You will be here only when I tell you to be here. I’m drawing a 50-mile radius around this house, and if you so much as open your fly to urinate I will destroy you. Do you understand?
Pete: You know what? You’re going to go to bed alone tonight, and you’re going to realize, you don’t know anything for sure.
Trudy: I’ll live with that.
The short scene inspired plenty of post-show analysis. What follows is a recap of the recaps:
“The opening bit at Pete and Trudy’s party (Pete flirting with two women; two men flirting with Trudy, Playboy bunny cottontail Easter joke and all) led me to expect this episode would be about counterculture/Hair values infiltrating the suburban middle class — something along the lines of Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice or The Ice Storm. But no, it was a traditional Mad Men setup, contrasting a man’s ‘boring’ suburban life at home and his ‘exciting’ ‘single’ life in the city. At least this somewhat tired subplot led to Trudy’s strongest scene ever.”
“Trudy, willing to accept Pete’s infidelity but not his indiscretion (upsetting, yet not surprising), unleashes years of pent-up fury the next morning, her steely voice matching her new set of balls (The Game of Thrones-esque ‘If you so much as open your fly to urinate, I will destroy you’ is one for the vengeance saddle bag). But it was all for naught as Pete retained the upper hand: He smugly informed Trudy she would be sleeping alone that night before he marched out the door.”
“Tru-dy! Tru-dy! Tru-dy! I can’t be the only one who stood up and cheered when Trudy Campbell laid into Pete after discovering he had slept with their neighbor. We haven’t seen anything that satisfying on this show since Lane Pryce (may he rest in peace) decked Pete in the conference room last season.”
“What if you came from a stable background and still turned out a selfish sexual sociopath? You’d be Pete Campbell! Trudy is such a prude that she’ll barely flirt with her neighbors’ husbands for even a moment, lest anyone derive some accidental pleasure from it. Last time we saw Trudy, she was trying to alleviate her husband’s depression by letting him rent an apartment in Manhattan, while we shook our heads at her innocence.”
“It seems to me things in Vietnam might have turned out differently for the United States if only we’d had Trudy Campbell fighting on our side. As I’ve long suspected and as Pete discovered in Sunday’s Mad Men, hell truly hath no fury like a Trudy scorned.”
“Hey, remember when you thought that Trudy was just a naive, wimpy little housewife who was always there to serve as a receptacle for Pete’s babies and a sounding board for his constant whining? Well, pull up a chair, my friend, because it is indeed time for you to sit down. Trudy told Pete that she had given him pretty much everything he wanted, which was true. Even from an outsider’s point of view, it looked like Pete had all that he could possibly desire. Yet he still wasn’t fully satisfied.”
“This fight has been a long time coming, and there’s really something gratifying about Trudy’s rage and her poise under pressure, even if her pride and her ego are mostly what’s at stake. Trudy may not be as sure of herself once Pete leaves, but she doesn’t break down and cry. She might handle her new reality reasonably well, but Pete won’t. But then, Pete has always been the sniveling child in this picture.”
“It’s always nice to see the words ‘Guest-starring Alison Brie’ in the opening credits and Brie gets to show off in a particularly fantastic scene in this episode, laying down the law on her wayward husband. Trudy has never been the unsuspecting wife obliviously tending the hearth. She’s as iron-willed and unambiguously ambitious as he is, and she’s been pushing him up the social ladder from behind for a long time. She and Pete have always been portrayed as partners in crime, and they treat his career like it’s their first-born child. We’ve seen her strategically rip an RSVP out of the slippery Don Draper, so it’s no surprise that she approaches this incident with a level head and steely determination. ‘I refuse to be a failure,’ she tells Pete acidly, informing him that she’ll be putting him on the short leash from now on. ‘I’m drawing a 50 mile radius around this house, and if you so much as open your fly to urinate, I will destroy you.’ Holy crap. You go, Trudy.”
“When Trudy kicks Pete out of their house, it’s with the understanding that they will stay married for the sake of appearances — ‘I refuse to be a failure,’ she explains coldly — and that he’ll have to appear when called upon by her. It’s no longer a marriage, but another business arrangement. And is it any worse a situation, ultimately, than what’s happening in Don’s apartment building? Megan and Dr. Rosen may be in the dark right now, but this will come out, surely. And who gets bloodied then? Don? Rosen? Megan?”
Here’s Twitter’s take on the scene:
By Sue Allan - Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 9:41 PM - 0 Comments
Justin Trudeau: Where to now? John Geddes on the three key themes in the…
- Justin Trudeau: Where to now? John Geddes on the three key themes in the Liberal Party leader’s acceptance speech
- For the record: The prepared text of Justin Trudeau’s acceptance speech
- Election 2015: Harper, Mulcair, Trudeau in the starting blocks
- Storify: Justin Trudeau heralds demise of ‘hyphenated Liberals’
- Justin Trudeau takes centre stage: John Geddes on what the leader revealed as candidate
- Maclean’s (formerly) live blog: Geddes and Taylor-Vaisey, analysis and snark
By John Geddes - Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 8:10 PM - 0 Comments
If you were listening for hints of policy in Justin Trudeau’s acceptance speech in Ottawa as he won the Liberal leadership today, then you must not have been paying attention to his campaign.
Still, there was content of a sort. Three strategic aims, all well worth keeping in mind, stood out in Trudeau’s generally low-key text. He framed Liberalism as the sunny alternative to gloomy Conservatism; asked Quebecers to think of themselves as builders of Canada; and scolded Liberals for letting their intramural squabbles undermine their electability.
1. Here was a key moment as he tried to draw that advantageous Liberal-vs.-Conservative contrast (throwing in the NDP for good measure):
“Canadians want to be led, not ruled. They are tired of the negative, divisive politics of Mr. Harper’s Conservatives, and unimpressed that the NDP under Mr. Mulcair have decided that if you can’t beat them you might as well join them. Well, 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.”
By The Canadian Press - Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 6:57 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – He grew up just to one side of the national viewfinder, teasing…
OTTAWA – He grew up just to one side of the national viewfinder, teasing us with the echo of his father’s greatness while insisting to anyone who would listen that he could never meet his father’s sky-high standard.
Justin Trudeau acknowledged he has lived his life under the burden of high expectations. He also concedes that he might not be the shoo-in for the leadership were his name different.
It is what it is, he said during an interview with The Canadian Press.
“When I showed up my first day of school at College Jean-de-Brebeuf people had huge expectations,” he said of the elite Montreal school that his father attended. “Whether it was me showing up at McGill, starting a career as a teacher, or walking into the board room at Katimavik, every single step in my life I’ve had to deal with expectations.”
“It’s easier to disappoint someone with high hopes. I’m very open about the fact that I’m working very, very hard to fulfil their hopes for me, but I make no promises about standing on a pedestal and being able to live up to all the unreasonable expectations people may put on me.”
Justin Pierre James Trudeau taking the helm Sunday of the Liberal Party leadership would be, for some, the first step in fulfilling a political destiny that seemed written in the stars when he became the first son of one of Canada’s longest serving prime ministers on Christmas Day 1971.
But while the name is the same, almost nothing about the situation the 41-year-old former teacher inherits bears any resemblance to what his father confronted 46 years ago.
The Liberals were Canada’s natural governing party and the elder Trudeau, while a relative novice in Ottawa, had come through the mettle-testing political battles of Quebec independence debates. Pierre Trudeau was regarded as an intellectual giant and had in short order affixed his name to ground-breaking legislation as justice minister in the Lester Pearson government.
The younger Trudeau’s accomplishments to date are more modest. Twice elected MP in the Quebec riding of Papineau, he has become among the party’s most sought after speakers and dependable fund-raisers. He also beat a younger and seemingly stronger Senator Patrick Brazeau in a celebrated boxing match. And of course, there’s the head-turning celebrity that comes from good looks and a grand name.
His official bio makes for thin reading. Bachelor of Arts from McGill and Bachelor of Education from the University of British Columbia. Social studies and French teacher at West Point Grey Academy and Sir Winston Churchill Secondary in Vancouver.
He chaired the Katimavik youth program from 2002-2006, inaugurated along with his brother Alexandre the Trudeau Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Toronto in 2004, and he hosted the Giller Prize for literature in 2006.
After beginning studies for a Masters of Arts degree in environmental geography he abandoned student life to enter politics in 2008.
Asked about his personal tastes, he gives a mix of the popular, the practical and the surprising.
His favourite films are Star Wars and the Shawshank Redemption. He is currently reading Chrystia Freeland’s Plutocrats about the impossibly rich and powerful one per cent, Lucien Bouchard’s Lettres à un jeune politicien, and the Lee Child thriller Die Trying. For exercise, it’s yoga and boxing, which he says is perfect training for politics.
Trudeau cuts an impressive figure in campaign photos. He exudes youth and vigour. Tall and handsome, his jackets hang off his shoulders as if from a rack. English and French flow assuredly off the tongue without a hint of hesitation or accent. Married to the equally photogenic Sophie Gregoire, the couple have two adorable young children.
And despite any burden that came with his last name, there’s still magic in that handle. Canadians may not know much about him, but they recognize the name and what they think they know about him they like.
The name recognition is important, says Darrell Bricker of Ipsos Global Public Affairs, but there’s more to Trudeau than the family mystique.
“He’s like a human Rorschach test, everybody sees what they want to see,” says the pollster. “He is a visual manifestation of change and if you are a progressive voter, you want to see change.”
That makes him a threat to the old guard, Stephen Harper and the NDP’s Thomas Mulcair, who no matter their credentials hardly look like agents for change, Bricker adds.
On the eve of his coronation by a party that arguably had more accomplished names to choose from, the Nanos Research firm released a public opinion poll that showed the Liberals four points clear of the governing Conservatives. And on leadership questions, Trudeau held his own against Harper in all categories except for the obvious — experience — besting him on the question of who was the most inspirational.
Those are the numbers that put stars in Liberal eyes and get them thinking that victory in 2015 is not such a pipe dream after all.
But if that dream is built on the notion that the son is the political reincarnation of his father, Justin Trudeau is not alone in trying to wake people up to reality.
Stalwart Liberal Marc Lalonde, who came to Ottawa with the elder Trudeau and served in his cabinet through most his administration, also believes Canadians will come to realize the son is so different from his father.
“In terms of communications, he is very different,” he says. “His father had a fantastic ability and charisma with a crowd, but on a one-to-one basis he was very reserved and even distant. While Justin is just the reverse — he connects with people, he loves listening and talking to people individually, but he’s not able to grip a crowd like his father did.”
Lalonde rejects the criticism that Trudeau is too green for the job and that he is riding on his father’s coattails.
He points out that the Liberal Party did not exactly make it easy for Trudeau when he signalled his interest in politics. They could have chosen a safe seat for him, instead he was forced to run in Papineau which had been held by the separatist Bloc Quebecois.
“I told him it was the best thing for him because … he would not owe anything to anybody if he won,” Lalonde said over the telephone from Montreal. “He had three strong Liberal contenders for the riding, he worked very hard, he did the grass roots work and it worked.”
Trudeau talks about the project before him in similar terms. As he did in Papineau, he has to rebuild from the ground up and defeat an ensconced party.
It’s something his father never had to do, the MP says.
“The one thing he never had to do is worry too much about the state of Liberal Party of Canada, it was a big red machine he took for granted,” he said during the interview. His father was never much interested in the machinery of the party.
“I draw a lot more from grandfather Jimmy Sinclair, who was a good party man and who understood the need for an organization to connect and inspire and involve Canadians in reaching out and developing the kind of capacity to earn government and govern. That’s my challenge right now.”
Lalonde said those who fret about Trudeau’s policy-light campaign should be patient. His advice was not to define himself so early. There are 30 months to go before the next election, plenty of time to develop a party platform.
But he says Trudeau is at the very centre of the Canadian political spectrum, a natural consensus builder who is the furthest thing from an ideologue.
“He’s a very committed individual and certainly he’s learned the ropes of politics,” he says. “I think he’s reached a stage in his life where he has everything to succeed in politics and be a good prime minister, but Canadians will have to decide that.”
By The Canadian Press - Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 6:56 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Justin Trudeau has been elected to lead the federal Liberal party in…
OTTAWA – Justin Trudeau has been elected to lead the federal Liberal party in a resounding first-ballot win.
Trudeau, eldest son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau and the Liberals’ undisputed star, swept 80 per cent of the vote in a final field of six candidates.
Despite the foregone conclusion of Trudeau’s coronation, a downtown Ottawa hotel was packed with hundreds of Liberal supporters who cheered former prime minister Jean Chretien’s speech about the “next generation of Liberal party leadership” before the tally was made public.
“This is the last stop of this campaign but it is the very first stop of the next one,” Trudeau told the adoring crowd when the resuts were finally announced about 40 minutes later than scheduled.
By macleans.ca - Saturday, April 13, 2013 at 8:02 AM - 0 Comments
In the days after the death of Margaret Thatcher — the original ‘Iron Lady’…
In the days after the death of Margaret Thatcher — the original ‘Iron Lady’ — Media Action and the REPRESENT project brought together a panel of political observers and had them come up with a list of Canada’s own.
The panel included the Star’s Susan Delacourt, Nancy Peckford of Equal Voice and Shari Graydon of Informed Opinions. “Women, for too long, have been seen as the people who do the bake sales in Canadian politics,” Delacourt said of the exercise.
Top of the list? Anne McGrath: “A quiet force behind Jack Layton, president of the New Democratic Party, then chief of staff to the NDP leader, she is known as someone who gets things done, turning Layton’s charisma into electoral success and conducting herself always as a bridge between conflicting forces, inside and outside the party.”
Click here for the full list, which also includes Audrey McLaughlin, Elizabeth May and Jenni Byrne.
By Emma Teitel - Friday, April 12, 2013 at 12:50 PM - 0 Comments
NDP immigration critic Jinny Sims recently revealed that she is uncomfortable with the revised edition of the Welcome to Canada guide—a 146-page document compiled by Citizenship and Immigration Canada and presented last week by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. Sims doesn’t care about the guide’s monarchist bent, or its omission of ”O Canada” lyrics. But she does take umbrage with the following passage:
“Canada’s openness and generosity do not extend to barbaric cultural practices that tolerate spousal abuse, honour killings, female genital mutilation, forced marriage or other gender-based violence. Those guilty of these crimes are severely punished under Canada’s criminal laws.”
Sims’ problem isn’t with sentiment (she agrees such crimes are barbaric). It’s with semantics.
“All of those practices are barbaric, but they are barbaric no matter which culture they happen in,” she explained. “As soon as you put the word ‘cultural’ in there, you are putting it as if it doesn’t happen here.”
I called Sims and asked her to elaborate. Why the opposition to the word “cultural?”
“It is barbaric,” she said. “You don’t need any other adjective. They are barbaric. Period.”
I tried to press her: Isn’t there a cultural difference, I argued, when you’re dealing with immigrants who are coming from a place where certain barbaric practices are condoned? Doesn’t the cultural acceptance of those practices render them culturally barbaric, as opposed to just plain old barbaric?
We have our fair share of gender violence, of course, I argued, but our culture rejects it overwhelmingly as immoral. That’s a stark cultural difference.
Sims didn’t want to talk semantics, or ethnicity. When asked if the word “cultural” stigmatizes certain cultures, she changed the subject to the Conservatives.
“I see a little bit of hypocrisy,” she said. “We’re telling newcomers all of these things are barbaric, but my question is, what has this government actually done? What has the government done right here in Canada and internationally to address those issues?”
Although Sims wouldn’t say directly why she objects to the word “cultural,” the obfuscation in her answers leads me to the following:
Describing vaginal mutilation and honour killings in a cultural context is inappropriate, she and others probably feel, because there is gender violence in Canada. Therefore, labelling imported gender violence as “cultural” is potentially racist and misleading. The same barbaric things happen here as well. Or as Sims said, on average, “every six days a Canadian woman is killed by her partner.”
Forgetting for a moment that the incidence of vaginal mutilation in Canada is probably lower than it is in Djibouti, there’s a glaring logical error in this argument: it confuses behaviour with attitude.
It may be true that gender-based violence and other barbaric practices occur “here” and “there,” as Sims suggests. But if you mutilate a child’s genitals here, you go to jail; there you carry on and go about your business. Culture is attitude.
Jinny Sims likely feels that by condemning certain “barbaric cultural practices,” we are judging entire countries and civilizations. But when behaviours are antithetical to what we believe and at odds with what we consider to be civilized, it’s our responsibility to underline our antipathy in terms that leave no room for misinterpretation.
The “Welcome to Canada” guide says we are a tolerant society, but our tolerance does not extend to intolerance or savagery — here or there. The Canadian government’s rejection of cultural barbaric practices from afar is not a tacit approval of cultural barbaric practices at home. It is a clear message to our immigrant population that where gender violence is concerned, there are no sacred cows.
When I was an undergrad, I tutored adult ESL at a public library. My students were women, the majority of them immigrants from theocracies where “barbaric cultural practices” aren’t barbaric — they’re what you do on a Tuesday afternoon. Many told stories I will not repeat here and don’t like to think about. But I am reminded of their words every time a well-intentioned person like Justin Trudeau or Jinny Sims equivocates and obfuscates in the name of cultural sensitivity.
I am also reminded of the time I tried to discuss with my ESL students, this strange breed of well-intentioned Canadians (which for me, at that time, was a university classroom of white feminists debating the freeing qualities of the burka). They were, I assured my students, really well-intentioned. My students laughed, loudly.
They thought I was telling a joke.
By Jesse Brown - Friday, April 12, 2013 at 10:06 AM - 0 Comments
Jesse Brown on life, death and online pressure
Is social media a hero or villain in the case of Rehtaeh Parsons?
Without it, she may never have committed suicide. Had it not been for the humiliation she felt when photos of her alleged gang rape circulated online, and had it not been for the harassing text messages those photos inspired, it’s possible she wouldn’t have taken her life.
Yet without social media, the alleged rape would still have been committed — there just wouldn’t be any proof of it to aid the four government departments now reviewing the case (and the Nova Scotia RCMP’s fruitless investigation of it). Online pressure inspired this thorough and highly politicized review. It would not be happening if not for the cries of outrage on Rehtaeh’s Facebook memorial page, or the 100,000+ names on an online petition demanding an independent inquiry into the police investigation.
But the online outcry threatens to compound the tragedy. Members of Anonymous claim say they’ve verified the identities of the four alleged rapists. The group has issued an ultimatum: bring these individuals to justice, or their names will be released online.
Consider this horrifying prospect: Anyone can be a member of Anonymous, simply be saying so. At any moment, “Anonymous” could names any four teenage boys as the culprits. You can bet these names will circulate wildly, forever linked to gang rape.
I shudder to think what would happen next to the accused — online and off.
Social media is neither hero nor villain in the case of Rehtaeh Parsons. For those of us seeking to understand, social media is a red herring. The crimes, cruelties and campaigns connected to the case are not “the impact of social media” — they are the conscious actions of human beings, amplified.
Follow Jesse Brown on Twitter @JesseBrown
By Rosemary Westwood - Monday, April 8, 2013 at 9:45 PM - 0 Comments
On some streets in Britain, celebration of a passing
Margaret Thatcher “made Britain great,” the Telegraph declared. “So completely has her legacy shaped modern Britain, so fully have she and her ideas been woven into its fabric that it can be hard to appreciate the depth of our debt to this most extraordinary of individuals.”
Revelers across England would at least agree on the reach of her legacy. So deeply do they feel Thatcher stripped bare the welfare nation that streets from Leeds to Liverpool and London filled with people on Monday celebrating her death. Some even ate cake.
Twitter erupted with anger-fueled joy on news of the Iron Lady’s death at 87:
“Working class around the globe will cheer to the end of Thatcher tonight,” reads one tweet.
“Hope that **** burns in hell,” states another.
“Fireworks and flares going off in town!” notes one from Liverpool.
“Sat sipping a proper #whisky from #Scotland one of the few industries not destroyed by #Thatcher#,” someone boasts.
Another says simply: “Let the party begin!”
And so it did.
By macleans.ca - Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 5:23 PM - 0 Comments
What did Trudeau say? And what does it mean? We waded into the fray (so that you don’t have to)
“Deal with the criticism, if you could, from both inside and outside your party that you lack substance.” Global’s Tom Clark asks Justin Trudeau just a little more than two minutes into the interview.
The full transcript is here, but here is Trudeau’s answer: “I don’t particularly worry about it. You know I’m not going to go around reciting Pi to the 19th decibel or you know wave my grades, or test scores to people. I’m going to simply do what it is that I have to do.”
Wait … to the 19th what? The question circulated on Twitter. Once more to the tape: “Decibel,” Trudeau said.
So what does it all mean? It’s another questions that went round and round on Twitter. Here is just a sampling of the voices in the fray:
By macleans.ca - Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
On Saturday afternoon in Toronto, the would-be leaders of the Liberal party will make their last pitches to the party faithful. The winner will be announced April 14. In the meantime? Lots of time for speculation and debate. From the Maclean’s Ottawa bureau, here is John Geddes and Paul Wells on some of the questions in play around the frontrunner in the race:
John Geddes, Aaron Wherry and Nick Taylor-Vaisey will be at the Liberal “showcase” on Saturday. Watch the site for their live coverage and analysis.
By Maria Babbage - Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 6:34 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Ontario will appoint an independent third party to review how watered down…
TORONTO – Ontario will appoint an independent third party to review how watered down chemotherapy drugs were given to more than 1,100 patients, some for as long as a year, Premier Kathleen Wynne said Thursday.
“It’s unacceptable that this should have happened, that the doses would not have been accurate,” said Wynne at the opening of a new breast cancer centre at Toronto’s Sunnybrook hospital.
“The minister is pulling together all of the people who are necessary to figure out what happened, to get to the bottom of it, to understand how this happened and whether there’s something systematic that needs to be addressed.”
By Jesse Brown - Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 2:30 PM - 0 Comments
A shiny Mark Zuckerberg nervously revealed Facebook’s long-anticipated phone today. Or rather, he revealed that the Facebook Phone is not a phone.
The product is called Facebook Home. Zuck calls it an “integration,” but essentially it’s a slick skin for Android—a new interface that hides your apps and turns your wallpaper into your Facebook News Feed. New pictures and messages auto-load in a rotating screen show, and you can pop into any item to comment, chat, click links, and so on. If you want to do something old-fashioned like Gmail or Twitter, you must swipe past Home.
It’s nice-looking enough, for what it is. But what it is is an assumption that users want to use Facebook to filter everything they do with their smartphones. That’s not how Zuckerberg put it—he presented Home as a tool that lets people view the world through the lens of their friends. We don’t want a grid of apps when we swipe our phones on, he argued, we want to know who’s saying what, who’s doing what, and most of all, who’s trying to communicate with us. Putting friends first isn’t a bad concept for the smart-phone experience. But Facebook thinks that friends = Facebook and Facebook = friends. If this were ever true, it isn’t now.
Facebook’s biggest challenge today isn’t conquering mobile, creating the killer advertising format or even signing up users. It’s relevance retention. Few of us ever leave Facebook, officially. But how many people have stopped enjoying it, using it as much, or caring as much? The signal-to-noise ratio on Facebook has been degrading steadily, bringing us five unwanted ads or updates for every relevant item.
I don’t know what Facebook can do about this. Tools to quarantine real friends from duds haven’t caught on. Cory Doctorow predicted in 2008 that your creepy ex co-workers would eventually kill Facebook in just this manner. He was half right.
By now, your network is likely to contain more ex-lovers, ex-friends, ex-schoolmates and ex-colleagues than it does people you want to connect with on the daily. But he was wrong about Facebook dying, and about everyone abandoning it to hop on to the next social network.
Or at least, he’s not right yet.
Follow Jesse on Twitter @JesseBrown
By The Associated Press - Monday, April 1, 2013 at 5:39 AM - 0 Comments
What Google, Yahoo and Apple have planned to keep employees happy
CUPERTINO, Calif. – Apple’s ring-shaped, gleaming “Spaceship Headquarters” will include a world class auditorium and an orchard for engineers to wander. Google’s new Bay View campus will feature walkways angled to force accidental encounters. Facebook, while putting final touches on a Disney-inspired campus including a Main Street with a B-B-Q shack, sushi house and bike shop, is already planning an even larger, more exciting new campus.
More than ever before, Silicon Valley firms want their workers at work.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has gone so far as to ban working from home, and many more offer prodigious incentives for coming in to the office, such as free meals, massages and gyms.
By Jesse Brown - Friday, March 29, 2013 at 6:50 PM - 0 Comments
That’s how a DDos attack was described by many in the press, earlier this week. Today they’re wiping egg of their faces as the Internet chugs along just fine, with few having noticed even the slightest slowdown in their online connections.
I’m not saying that nothing happened. There was a conflict between spam fighters and spam hosters, and it did result in a big Denial of Service attack. But a Dutch DDoS attack is similar to an Italian traffic jam: something of little relevance to Canadians.
What is it about these tech doomsday stories that we find so irresistible? From the Y2K bug to the Conficker worm to the DNSChanger malware, the mainstream media has been blowing tech threats out of proportion and getting things wrong for years. But no amount of embarrassment results in greater scrutiny or savvy. It’s like Geraldo at Al Capone’s vault, over and over again.
Reporters, supposedly skeptical by trade, are ever-ready to parrot dire press releases from security and anti-virus firms who make money by keeping people paranoid about their computers (the “almost broke the Internet” line, for example, which the Toronto Sun ran in their headline, came from the company blog of CloudFlare, who specialize in fighting DDoS attacks).
So what’s with our blind spot?
Here’s one theory: it’s a wish fulfillment fantasy. I know lots of folks in legacy news organizations who have fuzzy dreams of the Internet suddenly melting. Maybe that’s why they jump with joy at reports suggesting that their fantasies are coming true!
Or perhaps it’s simply revealing of a major deficiency in tech reporting. If your beat is the Internet’s infrastructure, how do you cover it? You’re at the mercy of data from security specialists working for private firms.
Whatever the cause, two things are certain: the real virus here is the contagious, hysterical tech headline, and the real attack is on the credibility of us technology journalists.
Follow Jesse on Twitter @JesseBrown
By Ken MacQueen - Friday, March 29, 2013 at 5:11 PM - 0 Comments
From the archives: On the eve of his retirement in 2006, the Alberta premier told Maclean’s what he really thought
Originally published September 19, 2006:
Ralph Klein — outgoing premier of the money machine that is Alberta — is sitting in his sprawling legislative office this late August afternoon, looking at once bemused, puzzled and disengaged. He has just warmed the seat for the second-to-last Question Period he will ever need to endure, in an Edmonton legislature he’s never much liked. The tone of the opposition questions — outrage both real and imagined — is the stuff of any democratic chamber in the land. But that’s where the similarity ends.
Alberta is burdened with prosperity and drowning in cash. The only debt-free province, it will have $26 billion stuffed into various savings and endowment funds by the end of this fiscal year. It has one-tenth the country’s population, yet it piled up a surplus last year larger than the federal government’s, even after paying every Albertan $400 in “Ralph Bucks.” Well, you’ve got to do something with the filthy stuff: lucre is choking the streets, clogging the drains, and clouding the mind. Half the province is being rebuilt on a grander scale. The other half would be too if not for the darned labour shortage. It’s a crisis, say Klein’s critics — the sort of crisis any other leader in North America would kill for. And yet, prosperity has been King Ralph’s undoing. He heaves a sigh: “Isn’t it strange?”
By The Canadian Press - Friday, March 29, 2013 at 4:08 PM - 0 Comments
EDMONTON – Ralph Klein, the popular, outspoken, Everyman premier who championed the slaying of…
EDMONTON – Ralph Klein, the popular, outspoken, Everyman premier who championed the slaying of Alberta’s multibillion-dollar debt, has died.
Alberta Health Services issued a news release on behalf of Klein’s family indicating the former premier died on Friday.
Klein, who was 70, had been battling dementia and chronic lung problems.