Back to School, America

You may have heard news of this little speech dealio that occurred yesterday afternoon. Oh you know, nothing major. Just the president of America having a little sit-down with the youth of the nation. A little pep talk, as it were. Do your best and all that jazz. Probably not the first President to ever do so.
However, he may be the first to be greeted with parents pulling their kids out of school for wanton fear that he’d warp their mushy little brains with his left wing agenda.  Really folks, do you so distrust your own parenting that you honestly think that a fifteen minute exposure to someone who’s views you disagree with will destroy their little morals forever and undo years of tireless value-instilling?
Here, take a quick gander. If you want, you can see the whole 15 minute shebang here, but for a brief taste that really speaks volumes about his “agenda”, here’s a brief segment.
I don’t get it guys. I really don’t understand what the problem is. I’m not even talking about this particular speech here. This goes beyond that, to the atmosphere of absolute media hysteria that I feel trembling up from our southern border. This is what you’re worried about?! And this is something that Josh and I have discussed at great length, another clear indication of the difference in our cultures. Why do you panic at the thought of understanding another point of view?
For example, let’s get away from politics for a second, and talk about another frequent point of difference and disagreement. Yeah, let’s do it, let’s talk religion.
Do you know where I learned about Buddhism and Islam? Theism, Antitheism, Agnosticism? In my Roman Catholic high school. Yeah, yeah, I wore the kilt. And they taught us not just the Bible, but provided access to other teachings as well. We learned not just Creation – although it was the obvious favourite – but Evolution. We learned other theories, teachings, and schools of thought. The Quran, the Torah and Talmud, the Bhagavad-Gita. The belief in nothing at all, or perhaps just a ‘maybe’, and even the basis for the belief of some that religion is outright harmful. We learned that you can take the Bible literally but that it’s not going to add up to real life (because, hello! Science!!!) And we learned that you can take moral truths from the scripture instead of basing your perception of reality on every single word. We were never taught that dinosaur bones are the work of the devil.
Let’s talk other issues. I was also taught not just about abstinence, but safe sex, abortion, adoption, sexual health, marriage, and all the sexual orientations under the rainbow. I saw brutal pro-life videos and articulated pro-choice seminars, and had open, frank discussion about the morality involved in either options. Understanding, rather than condemnation, was the name of the game. The girl who was brave enough to come to school while pregnant wore her belly as a badge that she hadn’t succumbed to guilt and fear, and was greeted with support, not shame. The same was true for the girl who decided for another option – publicly, the school had it’s opinion, but in the halls there was comfort, not mudslinging.
Let’s talk politics again. We learned not just about how our country works, but how others work. We learned the basis behind democracy, theocracy, oligarchy, aristocracy, monarchy. Communism, socialism, facsism, nationalism. If we see a system as inherently good or evil, why? Nobody gets in charge ranting about the terrible things they’re going to do in a few years, so what happens? What did communism hope to accomplish? How did it fail and why? Was Hitler batshit insane from the get-go or did something go horrifically awry? How do global politics come home? What aspects of our own system have the potential for abuse and misuse?
In other words, we learned to think critically about our opinions and others, and it makes me furious that there are those who don’t just allow parroting, but encourage it. Mindless repetition. Yes, I went to a religious school, and the leanings were definitely towards the morality our parents evidently wanted us to learn. But we weren’t sheltered from the rest of the world for fear that it would negate all their teachings.  We were encouraged to learn, to form opinions based on information and analytical thought, not repetitive propaganda. How can you have faith in what you believe, be it politics, religion or otherwise, if you can’t withstand criticism? And how can you criticize others if you don’t know where they’re coming from? How do you cover the ears of your children and then expect them to learn?
This is why I don’t understand the fear, hysteria and sheltering. Not just pulling your kids out of school because they might hear a ‘controversial democrat’, but beyond that. How do you forbid evolution in schools? How do you burn books? How do you take the rules of your particular interpretation of one of so many belief systems and try to rule others with it? How do you think you’re right, just because you’ve insisted so for so long without turning that criticism inwards to see if you really measure up? How do you think any single one of you has all the answers, so much so that you give yourself the permission to rise above other human beings and condemn them? How do you fear other points of view so much?
Ladies and gentlemen, I just don’t get it.

Happy (Belated) Canada Day

Okay, I know I’m eons late by now. But did you really want me to half ass a post about Canada? I didn’t think so.

And yes, pictures of the vacation are on the way. Josh is moving around right now, so he hasn’t had time to send them to me. Don’t forget, we’ve got celebrities, strippers, and inappropriate licking. So stay tuned!

Now, onto Canada Day.

In case you didn’t notice somewhere along the way, or are joining us here for the first time, I’m the Canadian half of this couple. Josh, on the other hand, is from the Deep South of America. It makes for some fun times, but it also leads to very involved, sometimes heated conversations about our different ways of life, politics, and principals. I have to admit it can sometimes be difficult for me to not bash my head into the wall at a lot of what I see coming out of America…


But on the plus side, there are advantages to being in a relationship with someone who’s way of life has been totally different than mine, and who will debate me on things that matter. He can play up the southern redneck side when he wants, but at the end of the day Josh is sharp, and politically motivated. You can’t bullshit him. So when he doesn’t understand or agree with why we do what we do, I have to be on my toes.

I realize that as far as some are concerned (it’s okay Talea, I still lub you) being from Toronto may somewhat negate my Canadian status. After all, it’s a pretty massive piece of land and civilization – I’ve only seen the French and Maritime parts of it, and my day to day life is mired in urban culture as opposed to prairies, mountains, and small town issues. But a year of dating an American, I have discovered, makes you want to be the best damn Canadian you can be.

This isn’t to imply that Josh is arrogant or anything – quite the opposite in fact. I’m continually impressed at his wanting to know and understand everything about the country he’s moving to, to pick at issues until he’s sure he has the facts. But to give him those facts, I have to make sure I know what I’m talking about.

For example, we do have an army

I’m not going to go into a long involved schpiel about our differing policies, beliefs and political structures. Frankly, politics are only so exciting, even during that coalition brouhaha we had. I’m even going to try and avoid grandstanding (as much as I’d love to run around with a flag yelling CA-NA-DAAAA! FUCK YEAH!!!) Because when you get right down to the nitty gritty of comparing rights, freedoms, taxes, benefits, social institutions and etc., well… it can be disappointing. Josh is still very true to his southern heritage, but I think he’s more than a little frustrated at the state of his nation lately. Sometimes I feel a little bad about it.

However, I will say that despite some decline, Canada’s economy has fared relatively well. There’s no doubt we’ve been affected, but I believe that our economic and political foundations are strong enough to weather bad times – relatively speaking, we’ve got it together.  I will say that we have health care. There are problems, I know. It may take months to get an ultrasound, there may not be enough general practitioners, but when your kid is sick at 3 in the morning and you can’t figure out what’s wrong, you don’t have to think about whether or not you can afford to go to the hospital. I will also say that when I told Josh that I’d want to consider placing our eventual kids in the seperate  school system rather than the public system, I was dumbfounded when he asked me how much that would cost – it never occured to me that others don’t have free access to more than one school system. And I will say that I’ve grown to appreciate the multicultural mecca of  Toronto more and more every day – do you have any idea how many kinds of food I get to feed Josh? 

So moreso than anything else this past year, I have learned not to take these things for granted. While we’re not the biggest or loudest player, Canada is a well respected member of the international community. And we didn’t get here by having the biggest army, by being the most outspoken, by having a standardized Canadian flag hanging above every porch or so help you the neighbours will talk. We got here by quietly building up a solid foundation of domestic and international diplomacy, by beginning our country with less war and more politics, and by encouraging flags from around the world to be flown next to our own. We’re more than maple syrup, mounties, and whatever party is in charge this quarter. It’s how those parties interact, how the entire system is set up. I like to think of it as a hockey team that doesn’t always get along, but scores when it counts, parties calling each other out for the greater goal of winning at the internationals. It’s how we work with each other, and with the rest of the world.

Yes indeed, it is a damn fine year to be Canadian.

I can’t wait until Josh is here to see everything that Canada, and especially Toronto, is all about. The Gerrard Indian Bazaar, Greektown, Corsa Italia, Chinatown, Litte Portugal and others. The Pride Parade, the music festivals, the film festivals, the Agricultural Winter Fair, Winterlicious and Summerlicious, the theatre, the symphony, the media, and the constant barrage of invitations to info sessions on everything from meditation to Darfur.

More than anything I’m really looking forward to just having him here living with me. But I’m also hoping that while keeping his own brand of southern flavour, he also gets to understand that certain je nais se quoi of what it is to be Canadian.

Did you see what I did there? With the French? Pretty clever, huh?

Quick Political Update!

The Governor General has with great sensibility suspended Canadian Parliament until the end of January, at which point the Conservatives will be bringing their planned budget to the table. I think then, not now – only seven weeks after the election, is the best time to judge whether or not Mr. Harper has in fact ‘failed’ this country.

While I may be left wing for the most part, I voted Conservative for a reason. I am strongly opposed to the idea of being told what is best for my country without being consulted by those who wish to be in charge of events, policies and procedures that will directly affect my daily life.

If you are too, go here.

I would also strongly encourage you to write or call your local MP with respect to this issue, regardless of your opinion on the topic.

There are places in this world whose citizens are not allowed to speak up. We are fortunate enough to have a voice in this country. Use it.

Shove THIS Up Your Democracy!

I’m sorry, but I have this weird tendency to just space out and completely forget events sometimes. It’s not until I find myself in the kitchen staring at a bottle of ketchup that I remember wanting grilled cheese. And when I complimented Talea on a cute pair of pyjamas, she reminded me that they had been a Christmas gift – from me. I can be forgetful. However, I’m pretty damn sure that we just had an election.

Oh wait, I’m totally right. We DID just have an election. Like, YESTERDAY.

So in case you live in America or under a Canadian rock, here’s the shakedown. We’ve got the Conservatives in power right now – right wing. And for their entire duration in office, the Liberals – our scandal-ridden nigh bankrupt left – have been nagging and bitching and criticizing. You suck! quoth the Liberals. We’ll call another election! We’ll team up with those super-left NDP guys over there, we outnumber you! But they pissed and moaned until the Conservatives finally called the damn election themselves – and won again! The Liberals lost more seats than before!

If I’m not mistaken, that’s a pretty clear sign that we’re not interested in the Liberals right this second.

But now, Stephan Dion, leader of the Liberals, who was supposed to be stepping down, has decided that Canadians are stupid. Apparently we can’t make choices for ourselves, and so the Liberals have decided to team up with the NDP to form a Coalition government.

This isn’t throwing in a vote of nonconfidence and starting another election – letting Canadians decide who they really want. This is waltzing in and taking over office, telling Canadians what we ought to be doing. This is like Canada saying “Hey mom and dad, I’m going to major in Interpretive Dance!” and mom and dad saying “Hells, no! You’re throwing your life away! Here’s your pre-filled law school application!”

There are two things wrong with that. Firstly, Interpretive Dance is probably more reflective of the Liberal party right now, since they can’t seem to make asses or elbows of themselves – not to mention a nil career. So it’s more like “Hey mom and dad, I’m going to law school!” being answered with “Hells no, you’re joining the damn circus!”

The second thing wrong here is that life-choice-muddled 17 year olds aren’t allowed to vote. This right to an elected government is being taken from clear thinking legal persons – from Canadian citizens.

Ummmm, quoi?

The last time a coalition government took over was about 90 years ago. Kinda tells you something, doesn’t it? I can almost see it happening back when we were a fairly new nation, still quite divided and maybe not the clearest of thinkers – underage, you could say. I like to think we know what we’re doing by now.

Apparently we don’t.

These are the guys arguing:

I won the election

I won the election

Sore Loser

Sore Loser

French is special, dammit!

French is special, dammit!

Piggy-Backing Hippie

Piggy-Backing Hippie

Uhhh, bit of a side note on that last one, Mr. Jack Layton there. If you don’t recall, I’m actually quite the left winger. Go hippies. This is the guy I normally vote for. But this time, I really couldn’t risk having this crybaby Liberal in charge of my country. The NDP never win anyways – sure maybe they could have if all us doubters had been convinced, but this time I needed a sure thing. I voted for security.

I must say, however, that this was quite a beneficial move on Mr. Layton’s part. Because even though it’s been agreed that it would be Dion in charge, Dion doesn’t exactly seem like the type of character to tie his shoes with much success. Layton would have quite a sweet behind-the-scenes position of power. Not cool, but well played.  

Carrying on.

Basically, it rests on our Governor General. Who? I know, I know. The position is mostly ceremonial, a lingering nod to our imperial roots. It only becomes significant a few times a century. Say, every 90 years or so? I like to think Canadians are well versed in our own political structure. There’s no “The Newfoundland or such as” for example. But even a good majority of us don’t know much about our Governor General, because it frankly just never comes up. Unbeknownst to many, the Governor General is in fact our Head of State.

So when the shit hits the fan, and oh has it ever, it rests on these shoulders.


Surprise! We're progressive too!

This is Michaelle Jean, and she’s technically in charge. I may not like it, but that’s how it is. From what little information is around, she seems calm and level headed. I hope she’s calm and level headed enough to realize that while we have maintained a parliamentary connection to the Queen, we are Canadian. When we vote it’s our voice. To take that decision away from us, for a country to silence its own citizens, is nothing less than a failure of democracy.

I’m demonstrating against this. Despite my hippiness, you may be surprised to know that it will be my first such rally. I’m more of the quietly demonstrative type – I don’t wave signs, I quietly recycle, sign petitions. But this is too important. So I’m speaking up.

And then, I’m getting the hell out. I’m getting the hell out anyways because it’s best for Josh and I if I move down south for a little bit. But the timing couldn’t be better, because I certainly don’t want to be around for this.

I’ll come back when this country has it’s head screwed on straight again.

Shut Your Mouth, Biznatch!

Ann Coulter.


This is one of  those times where I have to be careful, because I am very prone to letting things ‘get’ to me a little too much. Part of being crazy or something, but whatever. This woman pisses me off.

I’m not going to say much about her, and I probably don’t need to. I could rant and rave and be all witty, but I seriously doubt I could say anything to fully explain how much this woman makes me want to spit. I kind of lack the ability to turn off that GRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!! feeling once it really gets going – I’ll end up getting mad at something completely unrelated and equally retarded, like gravity. (Don’t worry, I’m still a ranter, it’s just not a good idea to let it fly when something *actually* gets to me on a level deeper than the flesh wound that is subway rudeness.) So I recommend Google, it’s pretty easy to use.

Go on, take a peek.

Seriously, go now. I’ll wait.

*Jeopardy Theme*

Did you?

I know, right? Could you just die?

Look, I’m all for opposing views, ok? Josh and I have some outrageously different view points, but we’re able to converse and know when to just agree to disagree. And of course ones morals and values may change over time with life events, but have you ever actually met someone who, after a lively debate, said something like “Oh, you’re right, pro-life is the way to be!” Or vice versa?

Having a logical platform for your views is necessary – nobody wants to talk to an airhead who doesn’t know why she’s voting or even talking, nor a jackass who just goes along with his peers. But I have a problem with people who essentially sit on my lap and scream their views at me, who are absolutely unwavering and intolerant of the possibility of another opinion.

You’re simply not going to change people’s minds on certain issues, at least not after a single screaming match. At a certain point, you’re just spewing out more anger and intolerance into the universe and wreaking cosmic havoc on the rest of us. Stop it already.

Anyways, the only reason I brought the whole thing up is that I just heard she had her jaw wired shut. I still don’t know why, and don’t care. Probably some kind of legitimate surgery. Whatever.

I just wanted to celebrate.

God, Karma, Luck, Chaos, whatever you want to call it, I appreciate the newfound sense of irony. Thanks.

A Pot Smoking Vegetarian Hippie Votes Conservative. What Gives?

I voted Conservative.

It didn’t make a damn difference overall, but I did it. It’s the first time I’ve voted anything other than as far left as possible.

So here’s how Canada works. It’s not “one guy vs. the other guy” and certainly not a “winner takes all” sort of situation. The country is divided into ridings, and we each vote to select a Member of Parliament to represent us in the House of Commons. This is good, because you have someone with your local interests in mind who actually has a voice in the big playground. Of course the more friends your MP has, the bigger that voice is. And we don’t have Republicans vs. Democrats. We’ve got a few more options. We have the Conservatives, who are your traditional right wingers. Your Liberals who are the closest equivalent to the Democrats, except this year they’re whining, snivelling bastards. If you don’t agree with  me, fine. But go get your own blog to say so, I’m in no mood for arguing. We also have the NDP, left-wing social activists with hearts of gold but maybe not enough fiscal sense to run the country. They’re getting bigger though, and I do approve. We also had the Green Party this year, whose campaign was almost solely based on the environment. They didn’t even make it in their own riding, but their leader, Elizabeth May, fought to be included in the debates when she was first written off, and they ran a very determined little campaign. I am proud of them.

There is also the Bloc Quebecois whose sole purpose is turning Quebec into it’s own country. I’m French Canadian and I still think they should fuck off. So they don’t count.

Here’s the other difference. The party that wins the most seats in the House of Commons gets to lead the country. But this can lead to a Minority Government, where the leader has the most seats, but all the other parties combined still outnumber them. This means that if they get really pissed, they can decide to team up against their common enemy and put in a vote of non-confidence. That’s basically saying “fuck this shit, we’re calling another election.” It can lead to political turmoil, as we’ve seen just recently – not much can get done when we’re constantly having an election. But personally, I like the concept. I like the idea of whoever is in charge not being fully in charge. I like that they have to avoid pissing off everybody else’s reps or risk losing their job. Keeps people in line, I feel.

As I’ve mentioned, I usually vote as far left as possible. I like my social safety net. I look at my paycheque, and yes, I see that a little bit comes off the top. But in exchange for that, I like knowing that I can go to the hospital without breaking my bank. Yes, if I go with a broken arm, I will wait for hours while others with more severe injuries go ahead of me. That’s how it should be, because when I bring my baby in with a asthma attack or whatever the hell, I don’t want some rich fucker with a twisted ankle jumping the line because all the hospital cares about is money. If I lose my job, I’m not on the streets within two weeks. If I don’t make very much money and fall behind on say, my electric bill, I will get help and will not have to be on welfare to get that help. I don’t believe in hoarding my money – I believe that a properly elected government can take a little bit of my money and in the end give back more than I would be able to afford on my own. The problem is: who do you trust to do that?

This year, it happens to be Conservative.

Do I love everything they’re doing? No. But I don’t love everything anyone does. And the alternative to the Conservative party is the Liberals because as much as I’m all for the left wing, they never get higher than third place. Frankly, I don’t know if they’d have the chops to run the nation on their own, I just like that they get to pipe up once in a while with things like “Hey, go economy and all that jazz, but can we get some more doctors up in this joint while you’re at it?” The Liberals this year have come up with a fantastic plan to get our economy all sparkly fresh and green. A ‘Green Shift’ will essentially tax the fuck out of gas usage, but promises to give it back in other tax breaks.

Um, not so much? How about ‘what have you done for me lately before taking my money and promising to give it back later?’ I don’t have kids, I don’t make a ton of money, and what money I do have is not spent on things like child care. I live in an apartment so I can kiss those low-flo toilet tax rebates goodbye. And in the meantime, I may not drive but I do eat. Canada is a big ass country. Yes, we’ve seen other countries manage to put these measures into effect succesfully, but when your food is driven in from across the country, when your importing and exporting relies so much on transportation, I just don’t see the sense in taxing gas, making everything assloads more expensive and then promising me rebates later.

Yes, we need to get our asses off the oil. Seriously. And yes, we do need things like the arts and all that good stuff that the Conservatives are berated for not supporting. (Please note that they did scrap a plan to remove the tax credits for arts programs when the public cried out. Doesn’t exactly qualify them for a gold seat at the symphony, but it’s a decent gesture.) I just don’t think now is the time to focus on that. Right now, the next four years are about immigration, affordable housing, and then beyond that you’re talking marriage, kids, blah blah blah.

Right now, lets just try to avoid a recession, shall we? We’re not doing as poorly as the media likes to scream, but we’ve seen the danger of lulling ourselves into complacency. I need a little fiscal responsibility up in this joint.

And so I voted Conservative. I voted for ‘looks like a block of ice’ Mr. Stephen Harper. And they won.

Oh, and the election? Harper called it himself since the Liberals just kept whining and whining but never put in a vote of non-confidence, citing that they wanted to wait until they were sure they would win. Wow. Way to put a vote of non-confidence against yourself. And so, in not so many words, Harper essentially said “Fine, I’LL call for an election so I can kick your ass even harder.” And that’s exactly what happened. We Canadians are overly polite, but we don’t like sissies.

It’s still a minority government, but with less of a gap. It was really, really close. But my vote didn’t make a difference. Why? Because my riding has always, without fail, voted NDP. We’re hardcore hippie leftwingers in my hood, and I’m very okay with it! Remember, NDP has been my choice for a long time, so I’m more than happy that I get a nice local dose of political feel-good-fuzzies. The guy I normally would have voted for didn’t win, but my MP happens to be his wife, so I feel I’m in the good hands of not one, but two awesome lefties. But I’m still very glad that I’ve got someone who was halfway through fixing shit  back in the drivers seat to finish what he was doing.

So my vote didn’t really count. But I still exercised my right to democracy, and in the end, I get to have my federal cake and eat it locally too. Sweet!

Go Canada! We’re nowhere near as screwed as the U.S.

(Sorry honey.)