Harper’s Record on Syrian Refugees

The situation in Syria has developed into the worst refugee crisis in recent memory, with approximately ½ of the population displaced from their homes. Out of a total population of 23 million in 2014, there are now over 4,000,000 who have fled the country and over 7.5 million within the country. There have also been approximately 250,000 killed in the conflict. Continue reading

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Every Canadian’s Favourite Warrior Princess Doesn’t Care for Steve

It’s just amazes me the number of Canadians who accept the racism and misogyny and general nastyness of the CPC’s campaign.

Marg Delahunty Warrior Princess certainly has no use for it.


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Shut the Fuck up Donny

The Big Lebowski is one of the greatest cult movies of all time, with fans worldwide. It even inspired a bar in Prague, Czech Republic, where you pay what you want for your drink. Of course, the most popular is their White Russian. Apparently it’s closed now, so I was very fortunate to experience the place when in the city a few years ago.

One of the most quoted lines from the movie is Walter’s (John Goodman) repetitive line to Donny (Steve Buscemi) “Shut the fuck up Donny”; a line that Salon Magazine has decided fits perfectly with the words of Donald Trump.

if only we had a “Shut the Fuck Steve” for Canadians.
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Sikh men who saved lives by removing their turbans

I’m very critical of most religious beliefs, especially when those beliefs cause or allow physical or emotional harm to come to others. However, here are two examples of Sikhs who saved lives by focusing on helping others rather than the paraphernalia associated with their religion.

The first from May of this year :

Mr Singh, 22, was at home when he heard car wheels screeching, and then a commotion, and ran outside to investigate. “I saw a child down on the ground and a lady was holding him. His head was bleeding, so I unveiled my turban and put it under his head.”

The child was taken to hospital and survived.
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When Exxon supported climate science

I have a fairly simplistic way of looking at some things.

I am a biologist and I have a reasonable understanding of how evolution and natural selection work. My expertise is 20 years out of date, but I have some grasp on what has been discovered since; enough to argue the facts with creationists. On the other hand, I’m not up on how deep time dating works, but I accept that the Earth is billions of years old and that’s how evolution can happen.

I am not a physicist, but I accept the ideas of scientists who accept that, despite what we experience, the Earth is approximately spherical and rotates on its axis, the Moon orbits our planet, and we all circle the sun along with some of the sparkly sky dots. Everything out there is much larger and further away than we can possibly imagine.

I also accept the atomic and quantum theories that explain existence at microscopic levels that are far beyond even most powerful microscopes.

Do I understand these things? No I do not. Nor do most of the people in the world. However, very few doubt the veracity of these theories. We leave the deep understanding to those who have expertise in these fields, even if there are a few naysayers to all theories.

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Questions to ask your candidate on gender equality

Gender issues affect us all and I think most of us know how the various parties stand on gender issues in the election. If you are looking for more information, here are a few questions you might ask your candidate.

Courtesy of the Coalition of Provincial and Territorial Advisory Councils on the Status of Women.

Status of Women candidate questions. photo Status of Women_zpsksjredrk.jpg


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Who qualifies as an old stock Canadian?

Here’s the clip from the Sept 17th debate where Harper refers to old stock Canadians as supporting his limited health care for refugees:

Apparently I don’t qualify as one branch of my family came here in the early 1800s, while another 25 or 30 years earlier as Loyalists (otherwise known as refugees from the US War of Independence). I’ve spoken to descendants of Acadians, the first European settlers and second group to be forced into exile from their homes, many of them don’t agree with Harper. Perhaps he means the First Nations, although given their responses to Harper’s attitude on the way aboriginal women have been disappearing, I doubt they count.

The Honourable Anne L. Mactavish

He certainly doesn’t mean Justice Anne Mactavish, the Federal court judge who presided when a group called Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care successfully sued the federal government for the changed they made to health care for refugees:

With the 2012 changes to the IFHP, the executive branch of the Canadian government has intentionally set out to make the lives of these disadvantaged individuals even more difficult than they already are. It has done this in an effort to force those who have sought the protection of this country to leave Canada more quickly, and to deter others from coming here to seek protection.

I have found that the affected individuals are being subjected to “treatment” as contemplated by section 12 of the Charter, and that this treatment is indeed “cruel and unusual”. This is particularly, but not exclusively, so with respect to children who have been brought to this country by their parents. The 2012 modifications to the IFHP potentially jeopardize the health, and indeed the very lives, of these innocent and vulnerable children in a manner that shocks the conscience and outrages our standards of decency. They violate section 12 of the Charter.

I have also concluded that the 2012 changes to the IFHP violate section 15 of the Charter inasmuch as it now provides a lesser level of health insurance coverage to refugee claimants from DCO countries in comparison to that provided to refugee claimants from non-DCO countries. This distinction is based entirely upon the national origin of the refugee claimants, and does not form part of an ameliorative program.

Moreover, this distinction has an adverse differential effect on refugee claimants from DCO countries. It puts their lives at risk, and perpetuates the stereotypical view that they are cheats, that their refugee claims are “bogus”, and that they have come to Canada to abuse the generosity of Canadians. It undermines their dignity and serves to perpetuate the disadvantage suffered by members of an admittedly vulnerable, poor and disadvantaged group.

Perhaps, and more likely, Old Stock Canadians are those pink skinned individuals who share the mean spirited racist attitudes demonstrated by Stephen Harper.

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It’s exorcism time again

This month, you get the chance to attend the “Exorcism and Prayer of Liberation” course held at the Vatican.

The annual course, “Exorcism and Prayer of Liberation,” is designed for priests and lay persons interested in learning how to recognize a case of demonic possession when they see one – and what to do about it.

This year’s session will run from April 13-18 at Rome’s Regina Apostolorum University, and will feature interventions by a wide range of experts in the field of exorcism from priests – including practicing exorcists – medical professionals, psychologists lawyers, and theologians. It’s sponsored by the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy and organized by the Sacerdos Institute.

I understand priests and theologians focusing on exorcism, after all, fighting the devil is part of their job description. Lawyers will be necessary to cover the asses of any asses who perform these ridiculous exercises.  But how any self-respecting medical professional would associate themselves with such bizarre behaviour is beyond me.

Combining the medical and the theological into a single individual might be part of the answer.

Italian Dr. Porxia Quagliarella, a psychotherapist and theologian, is one such expert who is consulted in exorcism cases. She was invited to speak at the conference on the sociological and psychological aspects of exorcisms.

“I collaborate with a priest exorcist … when it’s not clear if there are diabolical problems or if they are psychological,” she explained, “because there are psychological problems, types of hysteria that resemble the (diabolical) situation, or, for example, a narcissistic personality, which therefore have problems of another kind.”…

Of 10 cases referred to her, only 2 met with her diagnosis of possession. She gives a couple of examples of instances of mentally ill individuals, but none of possession. I wonder if I should ask every mental health professional I see if they think possession of on their list of diagnoses?

There are some indicators to look for.

But one factor that seems to be a common foundation for people coming under the sway of the Devil is “deep wounds in their lives and, above all, in their family,” particularly where “parents have made really bad choices” and in doing so “have invited evil influence into their home.”

He lists such things as “marital infidelity, abortion, doing things that break the family apart.”

The problem is becoming an epidemic.

“It’s becoming a pastoral emergency,” Cascioli told CNA. “At the moment the number of disturbances of extraordinary demonic activity is on the rise.”

The rise in demonic activity can be attributed to a decreasing faith among individuals, coupled with an increase in curiosity and participation in occult activity such as Ouija boards and seances, Cascioli said.

And they want us to take them seriously.

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The Story Of Bob And Race

By Barry Deutsch, aka Ampersand

Racism and privilege

Bob and Race

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PEI Politics

PEI politics is a mess. With our small population and relatively large number of politicians almost everyone knows or is related to someone who is currently, was, or wants to be, a Member of the Legislative Assembly. Ridings are small and since most voter preferences are inherited  it only takes a few swing votes to decide an election. The group of power brokers is also quite small and the two conditions lead to a situation that is ripe for corruption.

A look to the past would quickly show that both major parties have played the same crooked games over the past 150 years since Canada joined PEI. Right now the focus is on the Liberal party that has been in power since 2007 and has used the past 8 years to skirt laws and ethics to enrich their cronies and families. Contracts awarded to political allies are not even considered news and never mentioned in the media, but there have been a couple of major scandals that have hit the national news.

The first of these is the Provincial Nominee Program which was an program that was intended to bring immigrant investors to Canada as partners in functioning businesses.  Although a Federal program, it was largely administered by the provinces as a means to encourage local businesses. The government of PEI stretched the legalities on this program and ignored attempts by the Feds to get them to clean up their act. Ultimately, the Feds had to totally change the rules to prevent further abuses. It is a long and sordid story, and was thoroughly investigated by journalism students at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Two things are most telling about the situation here on PEI. Firstly, the group that benefited the most from the PNP was the accounting firm led by the premier’s father-in-law. Secondly, the local media largely ignored the entire mess.

The most recent incident to come to life, was a major boondoggle in which the province tried to circumvent a number of laws and bring internet gambling to PEI. The salient points are described in an article in the Globe and Mail. Another look showed that PEI is the only province without comprehensive ethics guidelines.  Finally, it was determined that the conflict-of-interest commissioner had invested in the gambling scheme and has since resigned.

We have a provincial election scheduled for later this year, and the real problem here is that, with what is essentially a two party system, we have the option of the status quo, or the other bunch of crooks.

These problems are certainly not unique to PEI. Our Canadian government, with less than 40% of the popular vote has, since 2011, run up the largest deficits in Canadian history while limiting debate on issues that have fundamentally our society.

It’s definitely time to make changes to our current system. Do we need stronger laws, regulations, and enforcement to limit conflicts and illegal activities by governments and politicians? Do we need to change the ‘first past the post’ system? Do we need to more towards some method of proportional representation? I don’t have any answers, but I believe that it is past time to seriously debate the current situation in PEI and across the country.

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