Canadian Members of Parliament, Justin Trudeau and Patrick Brazeau boxing for charity.
Someone once suggested that, instead of sending young men and women to war, we should round up all of the world leaders, put them in a field somewhere and let them duke it out among themselves. Sadly, this suggestion, while a good one, won’t solve the issue that war is profitable. The above photo is from a boxing match that took place last year between Canadian MPs Justin Trudeau and Patrick Brazeau. This match raised $230,000 for Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation. If this kind of cash can be raised with just one local match lasting just 2 and a half rounds that didn’t even air on pay per view, imagine how much could be earned by a world leader boxing tournament.
We could separate the world into 4 quadrants, using the equator and the International date line as our lines in the sand. Each quadrant would have their leaders fight each other until there were two winning fighters left, then both leaders would enter the quarter final round, boxing the winning rulers from other quadrants until there were just 4 heads of state left to enter the semi finals, then the winning 2 would fight each other in the final match for all the marbles. The United Nations could oversee the matches and negotiate the terms that each match would be fought over… free trade, oil etc. I can just see Don King salivating at the thought of all those dollar signs.
Putin the Punisher.
I would pay big bucks to see Vladimir Putin taking on Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey or Angela Merkel taking the piss out of David Cameron. In North America, it would be a tough call for the Vegas odds makers between Barack Obama, Steven Harper (the commonwealth countries would have to put up their heads of government, though it would be funny to see the Queen in the ring with her crown and knighting sword!) and the young Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto. Every country would participate, except, of course, Switzerland, who would get an automatic bye.
Of course, we’d need an undercard. What better way to whet our appetites than to have the religious leaders of the world (aka the other war mongers) beat each other senseless?
I would be glued to my sofa to see this guy,
pounding on this guy.
The election of a new Pope would sure be a different proposition if he had to put up his dukes.
Terry Crews as the American President in the movie Idiocracy
This might really separate the cowards who hide behind 18 year old kids, doing their dirty work for them from the real leaders who are willing to get punched in the face for their convictions. Unfortunately, we would likely end up with a world akin to the one in the movie, Idiocracy where we elect the strongest and not the smartest, although its not like the smartest are in power now, so maybe it wouldn’t be so different after all.
Nero fiddles while Rome burns
It seems that whenever people talk about a fallen empire, they invariably discuss the fall of the Holy Roman empire, but there have been a plethora of fallen empires throughout history and they all share a common thread. It has been said that Pride goeth before a fall, but it is not only pride, or even arrogance that preceded the fall of some of the world’s most powerful empires. The real culprit is a different deadly sin… greed.
A lot has been made of late about income inequality and for good reason. When the haves, who make up less than 1 percent of the population of a country, own more than 90 percent of a country’s wealth and the vast majority are the have-nots, who share the last few percentage points, the fall of that country is not far off. The masses will only put up with so much before there is a revolution, just look at the French Revolution (what happens when you have a pair of entitled 15 year olds ruling a country), or more recently the Arab Spring. Whether it’s a royal aristocracy, a dictatorship or capitalism run amok that keeps the people down, it is only a matter of time until the people will realize that all they need to do is band together and revolt in order to stop the madness.
Sir Edmund Burke once said, “Those who do not know history’s mistakes are doomed to repeat them.” He was right. It’s easy to look back at the causes of the declines and falls of each and every former empire and make direct comparisons to current world powers. The writing is on the wall. It is not enough to make sure that the have-nots have almost enough to live on and dangle the carrot of a lottery win, a singing career, a reality show or a game show as hope that they too can become rich. There are only so many times that a shiny object (celebrity) can be used to distract the people from the erosion of their rights. A country must provide more than just welfare and food stamps for its poor. It’s not just the impoverished, though. If a country has successfully eroded away its middle class, by union busting and outsourcing jobs to other countries, all in the name of saving a buck, they have then joined the middle class (which should be more populous than the poverty-stricken) with the poor, thereby strengthening their numbers and making themselves that many more new enemies.
China used to be a powerful empire and is the only country that actually has a chance, and a good chance, at that, of becoming a powerful empire for a second time. This time, they are building their economy by educating their children in fields like technology, science and agriculture. They are studying the success and failures of other countries and learning from them. They are buying the debt of countries that have a lot of unpopulated land, as they are quickly running out of land of their own. They are forward thinking, all the while looking to the past.
Thanks to global warming (or climate change) Russia is poised for power as well. It wasn’t that long ago (1917) that the Russian Revolution happened and Putin is ruling like he has never heard of it. The arctic will be a major resource in the coming decades and Russia owns the lion’s share of the region. It is imperative that they have a forward thinking party in power and soon if they want to be a major player in the near future.
Canadians; apologizing our way to the top.
There is a country that is on the threshold of becoming a world power player for the first time for much the same reason. The country that owns the second largest share of the arctic, Canada. Yes, quiet, polite Canada with our wealth of natural resources and our vast amounts of unpopulated land, really could be a super-power in the, not so distant, future, if we play our cards right. When it comes to social issues like healthcare and human rights, Canada is on the forefront. Canada is one of the best countries in which to live if you are a minority or a woman. The quality of our education system is excellent and not so overpriced that only the wealthy can access it. Yes, Canada is indeed a great place to live, which is why as we look forward by protecting our arctic land, we must also look around, like the Chinese are doing, at the successes and failures of others, both past and present and learn from them, so it will continue to be that great place to live. We do not want to see our rights eroded due to complacency on the part of the voting public. It is important that the people of Canada keep a watchful eye on our elected officials, so that they continue to act in our best interests and not succumb to the one thing that will spell our downfall… greed.
This week brought us two seemingly different, yet surprisingly similar, court cases involving women. The first case is from south of the border in Iowa where a dental hygienist named Melissa Nelson was fired for being so attractive that her boss couldn’t trust himself around her. She did the only thing she could do. She sued on grounds of gender discrimination and the all male Iowa supreme court sided with her boss. Apparently it’s entirely understandable that her hornier than thou boss fired a long time employee and married mother of 2, who, from all accounts, he was in no danger of sleeping with, rather than act like a professional and keep his pants zipped. Sadly, the boss’s wife also plays a major role in this drama. When she found out that the dentist and his hygienist had sent text messages to each other, she demanded that Melissa be fired. I have news for you, lady. If he can’t be trusted around one woman, he can’t be trusted around any of them. And just exactly what does he mean that he couldn’t trust himself around his employee, who, by the way, had worked for him for 10 years? Does he mean that he can’t help but flirt with her? Or perhaps he means he can’t help but verbally harass her. Or maybe he means that, even if she says no, he won’t be able to stop himself from having sex with her. So this woman, who had done nothing wrong, gets fired because nobody bothered to consider that she actually had a say in who she decided to sleep with… or, in this case, not sleep with.
Then there was a case from this side of the 49th parallel where a Muslim woman wanted to testify while wearing a niqab.
The Supreme Court of Canada released their decidedly ambiguous ruling last week, basically saying whether or not a niqab would be allowed in court would be decided on a case by case basis. As a feminist, the niqab fills me with all sorts of anger. The niqab, is a garment used to cover the face of women (because the burqa didn’t cover enough) so that Muslim men are less likely to be distracted by a pesky erection in their daily lives. As much as I am entirely against the wearing of a niqab, in this case I find myself with mixed feelings. N.S. is charging her uncle and her cousin with sexual assault. She wants to wear her niqab in court. The lawyers for her attackers want her to have to remove it saying that they should be able to face their attacker in court. This seems to me to be purely a power move designed to stop N.S. from testifying. If she removes her niqab in a court room full of male strangers, she will be ostracized and humiliated by her community and branded a whore, which, to me, is basically akin to raping her all over again. Because the Supreme Court’s ruling passes the buck, N.S. might still have to remove her niqab.
There have been many countries who have banned the burqa and the niqab, including France, Belgium and even Syria. If the Canadian government had the balls to follow suit, instead of kowtow to a religion… a religion, whose text, I might add, does not say that a woman must cover her face, unless she is the wife of the Prophet, then this wouldn’t even be an issue. Even a Canadian Muslim group is calling for a ban.
So because these men won’t take responsibility for their own erect penises, two more women must pay the price.
I wasn’t going to do another blog about the United States. I felt like I had said all I had to say on the matter. Then, a heartfelt comment on my last entry prompted me to change my mind. You should know something about me. I find it impossible not to respond to statements of fact that are not entirely factual and I am addicted to research. I would like to begin this post with apologies to Erika, the blogger upon whose comment this entry is based. I enjoy your blog and respect your point of view.
Erika’s comment challenged my assertion that America’s foreign policy was faulty at best by pointing out that America does so much good in the world with their foreign aid. To read her comment in its entirety click here
Because of my aforementioned personality traits I must respond thusly.
As my last post dealt with the American government, I will continue to keep my focus on America’s foreign aid on government aid. In her comment Erika stated “In 2012 American emergency foreign aid budget exceeded 1.6 Billion (with a B) and that does not include regular, planned aid contributions, this was just the “acts of God” stuff.” I’d like to start here because her quote of 1.6 billion dollars (with a B) is the exact amount that America owes the United Nations. Since 1985 the U.S. Congress has refused to authorize payment of the U.S. dues, in order to force UN compliance with U.S. wishes, as well as a reduction in the U.S. assessment. The following chart shows U.S. debt to the UN from 1995 through 2005.
|31 December 1995||$414 million (73%)||$816 million (47%)||$1.231 billion (56%)|
|31 December 1996||$376 million (74%)||$926 million (57%)||$1.303 billion (61%)|
|31 December 1997||$373 million (79%)||$940 million (60%)||$1.313 billion (64%)|
|31 December 1998||$316 million (76%)||$976 million (61%)||$1.294 billion (64%)|
|31 December 1999||$167 million (68%)||$995 million (67%)||$1.170 billion (67%)|
|31 December 2000||$165 million (74%)||$1.144 billion (56%)||$1.321 billion (58%)|
|31 December 2001||$165 million (69%)||$691 million (38%)||$871 million (41%)|
|31 December 2002||$190 million (62%)||$536 million (40%)||$738 million (44%)|
|31 December 2003||$268 million (61%)||$482 million (45%)||$762 million (48%)|
|31 December 2004||$241 million (68%)||$722 million (28%)||$975 million (33%)|
|30 September 2005||$607 million (82%)||$607 million (28%)||$1.246 billion (41%)|
As of 2012 the amount owed is 1.6 billion dollars. Oh, in case you were wondering, Canada’s yearly foreign aid budget is 5.16 billion dollars (with a B) and we are paid up.
The comment also stated that, ” we are the first to run to aid when famine, natural disaster or disease strikes both as individual donors and from the government.” and specifically mentioned the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan as examples of this. The country that responded first in 2004 was Australia. The country that responded first in 2010 was the Dominican Republic. The first country to respond in 2011 was, again, Australia. The United States government was generous in their commitment of not only military aid, but financial aid in those situations, they just weren’t first. It should also be noted that the U.S. spends 19 times more on defence that it does on foreign aid.
The word commitment is important here. The United States commits billions of dollars annually to foreign aid, both in emergency aid and planned aid, however, from 2000 to 2011, only 40% of those committed dollars reached their destination, leaving a 60% shortfall. This is not new behavior. In 1970, the world’s wealthiest nations (United States included) agreed to spend 0.7% of their GNP on Official Development Assistance (ODA or Foreign Aid) with a target deadline by the mid 1970’s. To be fair, almost all of the nations who signed into this agreement failed to reach this target (United States included). So, then another agreement was signed stating that these nations agree to spend 0.56% of the GNI on ODA by 2010 increasing to 0.7% by 2015. USA’s aid, in terms of percentage of their GNP has almost always been lower than any other industrialized nation in the world, though to be fair, their dollar amount, since the year 2000 was the highest.
America is constantly whining that they are the country that the whole world turns to in time of crisis for military and financial aid. They seem to forget that other countries exist and are helping out as well. In fact, here’s a chart showing the per capita dollars donated to the 2004 Indian Ocean (Boxing Day) Earthquake/Tsunami.
|Country||Population (July 2004 or earlier) See|| Aid (total) (USD millions)||per capita (USD)||Aid by government (USD millions)||per capita (USD)||Aid by public (USD millions)||per capita (USD)|
|United Arab Emirates||2,523,915||20||7.92|
Then there was the Haiti earthquake. In this case the United States pledged the most amount in dollars, however,if you take into account that Canada’s population is one tenth the size of America’s population, and you see the America’s donation is only three times what Canada gave it looks like Canada was a tad more generous here.
|Country/organisation||ISO country code||Funding, committed and uncommitted,|
|Private (individuals & organisations)||593,639,219|
|World Bank (emergency grant)||82,107,356|
|Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF)||27,976,462|
|United Arab Emirates||AE||3,209,113|
|Donors not specified||2,219,169|
|Inter-American Development Bank||200,000|
Aid to Japan for the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami was given by governments from around the world. To take a closer look at who donated and what they donated click here .
Yes the United States government does donate a LOT of money in emergency aid funding, however they are often the last country to pay up. In fact, the United Nations had to ask the United States to pay their pledges to Japan as they had not been received a year after the fact. *Note, as of this posting the U.S. government still has not made good on all of the funds it has committed to Japan to aid in this disaster.
As you can see, the United States is not the only country on the planet that helps out in times of need. In fact, during Hurricane Katrina the United States found it self on the receiving end of foreign aid. Even without being asked, the list of countries that offered and gave aid to the United States during this time of crisis is as long as my arm (and then some). As expected, allies of the U.S. gave generously. Australia gave 7.5 million USD, New Zealand gave $2,000,000, Canada was the highest international donor nation (the province of Alberta, alone, gave $5,000,000), and with Mexico was one of the two countries in the world to supply direct military assistance in addition to civilian donations and supplies. But then help also came from some very unexpected places. Countries that couldn’t afford much offered help like Greece, who gave $85,000 and two cruise ships to help house those left homeless by the disaster, Iraq gave $1,000,000 to the Red Cross via the red Crescent, Mongolia gave $50,000 and Nigeria gave $1,000,000. To read more about which nations gave what click here
That, of course is not the only instance in which America has received international aid, there was also the attacks on September 11, 2001 and the current effort due to Hurricane Sandy.
Getting back to the original comment that sparked this post, I was accused of painting the United States as being all bad and that was both unfair and inaccurate. Firstly, I am not sure how one could infer from my last post that I was painting the country as all bad, when I was only discussing the American government with regard to its foreign policy and not the people of the country. But in the interest of fairness, I will concede that the American people are a very generous bunch… but my point here is that you are not the only ones giving.
My issue in the last post was really about how America thinks it is put upon to protect the world from the (as George W. Bush would say) evildoers. That pervasive opinion is so widespread because that is what your government tells you is the case. That is actually not the case. Often times, when America uses its military might to butt into a situation that is none of its business (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libia, Syria), they only serve to unite two warring factions against a common enemy… the United States. Then when the dust settles, those factions get back to fighting each other and nothing has changed except the number of people doing the fighting is now lessened. America could have saved itself some cash and just stayed home. In the case of Afghanistan, the Russian government actually warned the U.S. not to get involved in what would be a military quagmire, but the American government refused to learn from history only to be doomed to repeat it. If the United States government would only learn from both the mistakes (for example the Russian invasion of Afghanistan) and the successes (for example the use of wind power in the Netherlands) of other countries then perhaps they would not be in the financial mud slide under which they are now buried. And perhaps they would stop viewing the rest of the world like this.
I can tell you that the rest of the world would be grateful if you would only acknowledge that we do our part too.
Canada and the United States have long had what, from the outside, can be seen as a symbiotic relationship. We used to have (until recently) the world’s longest undefended border. We signed on to NAFTA even though it benefitted us far less than it did our neighbours to the south. On the world stage, America is the cartoon Bulldog and Canada is the Jack Russell terrier jumping around asking, “what are we doing today, Spike?”
America has long gotten their power through military might, which is why military spending is the sacred cow when it comes to America’s budget. Neither Republicans, nor Democrats will significantly slash funding for America’s military no matter the fiscal consequence. America’s military budget is larger than that of China, Britain, France, Russia, Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Italy, South Korea, Brazil, Canada, and Australia combined. A strong military has been too large a part of the American identity for far too long but it’s the only thing keeping them in a position of any real international power, so they are doomed to keep the funding bloated. Americans are so wrapped up in this identity that they actually think that the rest of the world wants them in the position of protector. In this link, from Aljazeera, the Americans on the panel are all of the opinion that America HAS to defend the entire world, that they have been placed in that position by their allies. (The foreign policy conversation begins at the 24:15 mark.) It seems this opinion is a pervasive one in the U.S. However, if you ask the leaders, or even the people of countries around the world, you get a very different opinion. Most other countries see America as a corrupt and greedy bully that has taken the role of warmonger (not protector) upon itself, without ever being asked to do so, because they have been able to convince themselves that they own the moral high ground. That being said, there is no denying that America’s military might has served them well since the country’s inception. Unfortunately for America, their military (among other things) is bankrupting them, so they seem to be between a rock and a hard place. President Obama ran (the first time) on diplomacy over war. He seemed genuinely concerned about how America was perceived on the world stage. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, he has not lived up to his promise. Just ask any country who has been on the receiving end of one of his drone attacks.
MORAL HIGH GROUND
A big part of what angers other countries about America is the fact that Americans smugly go around the world claiming the moral high ground. America is, “the greatest nation in the world”. Meanwhile, America has tortured, murdered and raped its way through wars just as much, if not more than the rest of us. America should be called out on human rights violations as much as countries like China, Iran and Pakistan are, if only because of their for profit healthcare, prisons, and their drug war that only serves to keep the minorities and the poor from achieving any level of success. The hypocrisy of the moral high ground in this case would be funny if it weren’t so dangerous. If you look at the countries causing the most conflict in the world right now they all have one thing in common… they all think that they have God on their side and that they are the good guys doing God’s work by fighting the forces of evil. In fact, this has been a huge part of America’s brand since the American Revolution. This religious ideology is dangerous because it excuses all sorts of atrocities without actually having to have any kind of well thought out reason for killing, torturing or raping innocent (and not so innocent) people in countries around the world. They are so wrapped up in thinking they are the best, that they constantly act against their own best interests. In this last election there was quite a bit of China bashing going on. Do they not know that China holds the vast majority of their debt and makes most of their products? Yes, Americans are so smug that they think it’s okay to bite the hand that (literally) feeds them. It’s not easy being America’s enemy.
It’s no picnic being America’s friend either. In 2011, when the United States Congress was busy bickering about whether or not to raise the debt ceiling, quite a few Americans seemed shocked that their country was not paying its bills. This is nothing new. America hasn’t been paying their bills for years. Even when court ordered to do so, America continues to be a deadbeat nation. Take a look at the Canada USA softwood dispute for an example of this behavior. Apparently NAFTA wasn’t good enough for the USA when it came to charging whatever they wanted to for a Canadian product, so they decided to impose a tariff on Canada’s softwood. Canada took them to international court, several times and won. America still has yet to pay the agreed upon amount in its entirety. (that is a nutshell version, to get the whole story, I encourage you to click the link.) I could cite may more examples, but we’d be here all day. When it comes to paying back what they owe, America reminds me of Dean in the following sketch from Kids In The Hall.
I’d be very wary of signing a deal with America.
THE BLAME GAME
One thing the U.S. government is good at, is blaming other countries for things that are (at least partially) America’s fault. Take, for example the Gulf Oil Spill. America was very quick to blame the entire thing on BP, so as to get out of having to pay for the lion’s share of the clean up costs. Halliburton was just as much, if not, more to blame, but they got off relatively scott free. Even the financial crisis in Greece, which was a major contributor to the Euro Zone crisis, falls onto America’s shoulders, via Goldman Sachs, a bank that received a government bail out.
Slowly, other countries are waking up to the fact that America’s purchasing power is a bit like the Emperor’s new clothes. Sure, they buy stuff with the zeal of a kid at Christmas, but if they defer payment, or just plain, don’t pay at all, why would you sell to them? Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper (whose actions are hit and miss in my book) has cleverly been travelling the world, making deals with burgeoning economic powerhouses like China, Japan, Brazil and, most recently, India to offset Canada’s reliance on American trade. In fact, this chart, from the International Monetary Fund shows that the world economic stage is yet another place where America is no longer number one .
|Economy||Nominal GDP (billions in USD)|
|(03) United States||
|(10) Saudi Arabia||
|The twenty largest economies contributing to global nominal GDP growth (2007 – 2012)[|
Many other countries are following suit, making deals with each other to offset their dependence on the weakening American economy.
I have long been saying that the only thing at which America can still rightfully claim the number one spot is branding. They are very good at perpetuating an image, just not so good at living up to that image. Unfortunately, for America, everyone but the American public can see behind the curtain.
It was 1983 and I was a sexually active 18-year-old young woman. One night, in the back of a Shelby Cobra (I have always been somewhat of a car nut), I was in the middle of what can only be called a couple of hour stand, when, unbeknownst to me, the condom broke. It wasn’t until after the deed was done that either of us realized what had happened, but at that moment, I knew I was pregnant. I have no idea how I knew, but I knew. I also knew right away what option I would choose and never had a second thought about it.
The wait until I missed my next period seemed endless. Finally, when I was absolutely positive Aunt Flo would not be visiting, I went to my doctor and had the test. The results were positive, as expected and I immediately scheduled an abortion. There was only one hitch. In Canada, you had to be 19 years old (the age of majority) to get an abortion without parental consent. So, I had to tell my Mother. I told her that I was pregnant and without taking so much a the tiniest of breaths, I told her that I wanted to abort and that I had the procedure already scheduled, and that all I needed was her signature. To my mother’s credit, she was extremely supportive. She drove me to the appointment and was waiting for me when it was over. She even made my favourite dessert (witches nut cake) and had me stay at home with her for a few days until the tenderness and the bleeding was under control. She never made me feel guilty or judged.
I look back on my decision to have an abortion as one of the best decisions I ever made. I was in no way ready to have a child at that stage of my life. Having that baby would not have been fair to either myself or the baby. It could be said that my decision was selfish. To that I say, yes it was, and what is so wrong with being selfish? After all its my life to live as I see fit and I am free to do as I choose with my life and my body. I have not, for a moment, regretted having an abortion and I am not ashamed. Would I have preferred that the condom had done its job? Of course, but I am extremely happy that there was an alternate option available to me as that was not the case.
It has been said that no woman wants an abortion. I can tell you that when I found myself with an unwanted pregnancy, there was nothing I wanted more.
There has been a lot of hoopla recently from Conservative politicians who want to ban abortion. The conversation has been derailed slightly due to some incredibly ignorant quotes about abortion in the case of rape, so that now all we are focused on is rape, when what we should be talking about is the necessity for abortion. Women’s reproductive rights are just that… rights, hard-fought and earned. Even entertaining the question of whether or not a woman should have those rights just proves to women that you do not see us as human beings capable of thinking for ourselves.
There seems to be only one American politician who gets it.
I couldn’t agree more. Male legislators need to stay far away from women’s uteri. If you don’t have one, you shouldn’t get a say.
Image by the brilliant DonkeyHotey
The American hype machine has been running at a fever pitch this election season. Between the dog and pony show that was the race for the Republican nomination, to the game of hot potato that came before the announcement of a running mate and the actual Presidential campaign, it seems as if America has been campaigning for about a decade now.
As regular readers already know, I live in Canada. You would think that Canada is now America Junior with the way we have been inundated with every little fart that each American candidate has tooted since the beginning of this election season. You can’t get away from news about the U.S. election… it’s everywhere. It’s reported on by our Canadian news shows, in our Canadian newspapers and on our Canadian websites, thankfully the American election is never the top story on any of those venues. Unfortunately, on sites like Huffington Post Canada or Yahoo Canada (Canadian versions of American websites), unless there is a heinous killer on the loose (Luca Rocco Magnotta) or a natural disaster (earthquake of the coast of B.C. or hurricane Sandy) it’s almost always the top story. Yesterday’s top story on The Huffington Post Canada was cleverly disguised as a story about Canada. It was even titled O Canada. The story was all about how a recent poll showed that Canadians would vote for Obama over Romney by a margin of 7 to 1. How is this Canadian news?
Canadians are a fairly savvy bunch. You can’t just put the word Canada and an image of a Maple Leaf on your logo but still report mainly American news stories and expect that Canadians won’t notice. In the case of the Huffington Post, I imagine that the reason for them to have, typically, less than 50 percent Canadian content is due to the fact that most Canadian bloggers know that cachet is not French for cash and don’t want to write for free. In the case of Yahoo Canada and others like it, I assume that as they are American owned and operated, they are not bound by the same Canadian content laws that govern our media.
Canada is part of the Commonwealth, otherwise known as the British Commonwealth, and as such, we have a close relationship to Britain and the Queen, yet when there is an election held in England, we hardly hear about it. The province where I live, Quebec, is still very French in both language and culture, but when an election is held in France, it barely makes our radar. Recently Quebec held an election and the U.S. election still got more news coverage in Quebec than that of our own.
Believe it or not people who live in Canada actually want to know about what is happening in their own country. I have spoken to many Canadians who go out of their way to avoid news about the U.S. election, but still know more about it than the undecided American voters do.
America is the only country on the planet that has such a long election campaign. In Canada our campaigns range from 36 days (the minimum) to 74 days (the length of our longest campaign… just two days longer than Kim Kardashian’s marriage). One could be led to believe that Americans really like campaign season, but it seems that Canadians aren’t the only ones who are sick and tired of having news of this election shoved down our collective throats.
I must say, this little girl sums it up perfectly.
In the wake of Todd Akin’s now infamous comments about “legitimate rape”, there have been quite a few rather offensive and uneducated bon mots in the news on the subject of rape.
In Canada, the niece of the Mayor of Toronto, Krista Ford got into the debate via her twitter account by giving this bit if advice to women. “Stay alert, walk tall, carry mace, take self-defence classes & don’t dress like a whore. #DontBeAVictim #StreetSmart,” Never mind that it is illegal to carry mace or pepper spray in Canada unless you work in law enforcement, or that not everyone can afford to take a self defense class. The fact that Krista Ford, who is famous for playing football in her underwear and teetering around Toronto in stiletto heels and mini dresses so tight that it looks like she’s trying to get toothpaste back into the tube, had the nerve to say don’t dress like a whore would be laughable if it weren’t so sad. This kind of slut shaming and victim blaming has got to stop. Why are we not teaching men not to rape, instead of preaching to women not to dress provocatively. This boys will be boys attitude is not helping the situation.
Then there is a case out of Louisville Kentucky where a 16 year old girl was sexually assaulted by two boys who thought it would be funny to get her drunk, expose her breasts and genitals, penetrate her with their fingers and take pictures of the event with their cell phones. The two boys plead guilty to charges of first-degree sexual abuse, a felony, and misdemeanor voyeurism. For their crimes they are required to do 50 hours of volunteer work and attend treatment. As if the 16 year old girl’s violation and humiliation was not enough, the Chief Prosecutor of the case, Paul Richwalsky, actually told the girl, when she complained about the plea agreement being too lenient, to “get over it and see a therapist. … The jail was for ‘real’ rapists, murderers and robbers.” This from the man who was hired to serve the best interests of the victim!
SNL alumnus and Tea Party darling, Victoria Jackson, came out in defense of the aforementioned Todd Akin’s legitimate rape comments. She was quoted as saying, “The Todd Akin thing was so blown out of proportion — it’s a joke. How many times do people get pregnant from rape? It’s point zero zero one percent. It’s a joke. I read lots of articles. I know people, because I’m 53. I’ve know a lot of people, and I’ve actually never known anyone who got pregnant from being raped.” She went on to say, “If I got raped, I would have the baby. And if I didn’t want to keep it because I had these [mocking tone] horrible nightmares, I would adopt it out. But I think that God can turn a bad thing into a good thing. And that, if I got raped and a beautiful baby who was innocent was born out of it, that would be a blessing. The DNA of a baby is individual. It’s not the mother’s DNA. It’s not the father’s DNA. And that’s why I believe abortion is murder, because it’s not the woman’s body. It has it’s own DNA. If there’s a boy baby inside of me, he has a penis. That’s not my body.” Good for you, Ms. Jackson, but not every woman feels the same way. To deny others a choice just because you think that everyone should believe what you believe is the antithesis of what the pro-life movement should be doing more of… live and let live.
With a tip of the hat to Bill Maher, I would like to suggest my own New Rule. Unless you are a woman or a man (yes, men get raped too) who has been through the violation, humiliation and emotional toll of the crime of rape, you must keep your pie hole shut. All you are doing with ignorant statements like the ones above is opening wounds and putting the responsibility for the crime on the victim instead of the criminal. It’s attitudes like these that make rape the most unreported crime on the planet. You are only showing a lack of compassion, empathy and humanity when you vilify a victim of rape, not to mention giving rapists the message that you are on their side.
This week Canada’s, usually outspoken, Foreign Minister, John Baird took a decidedly timid stance on Russia’s harsh sentencing of three members of the punk band Pussy Riot. Meanwhile, leaders from all over the world spoke out loudly against Russian authorities.
In Britain, Alistair Burt, a junior foreign minister, had this to say, “We have repeatedly called on the Russian authorities to protect human rights, including the right to freedom of expression, and apply the rule of law in a non-discriminatory and proportionate way. Today’s verdict calls into question Russia’s commitment to protect these fundamental rights and freedoms.”
In the United States, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland was quoted as saying, “The United States is concerned about both the verdict and the disproportionate sentences… and the negative impact on freedom of expression in Russia, we urge Russian authorities to review this case and ensure that the right to freedom of expression is upheld.”
EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton called on Moscow to overturn the punishment, saying, “This case adds to the recent upsurge in politically-motivated intimidation and prosecution of opposition activists in the Russian Federation. I expect that this sentence will be reviewed and reversed in line with Russia’s international commitments,” she added, saying the case “puts a serious question mark over Russia’s respect for international obligations of fair, transparent, and independent legal process”.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the sentence was “excessively harsh” and “not compatible with the European values of the rule of law and democracy to which Russia, as a member of the Council of Europe, has committed itself. A dynamic civil society and politically active citizens are a necessary precondition for Russia’s modernization, not a threat,”
I have included the above quotes as a contrast to what John Baird had to say on the matter. John Baird is known for saying that he “won’t just go along to get along”. Baird has been a staunch supporter of Israel, gay rights and religious minorities facing oppression. He has publicly criticized China’s human rights records as well as the repressive regimes in Syria and Iran. Yes, Baird has been one tough cookie. That’s why his quote about the sentencing is so confounding.
Here is Baird’s quote. “We believe in every part of the world of sentencing having some relation to the serious nature of the crime. Obviously, there’s, I think, widespread concern that this was perhaps too much and that were perhaps political considerations. We support around the world independent judiciaries, and we certainly take note of what’s happened.”
That was preceded by the tame statement that Baird’s office released the day of the verdict that didn’t even mention the trial, “The promotion of Canadian values, including freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, features prominently in our ongoing dialogue with the Russian authorities.”
That wasn’t even a weak slap on the wrist, which makes me wonder what he’s really saying. Is Canada on the verge of passing some strong anti- protest legislation? Is he just so sick and tired of protesters getting all the attention in Canada (and yes, contrary to what some might think, Quebec is still a part of Canada)? Is he in bed with the Russian authorities in some way that Canadians don’t know about? Does he hate women who aren’t afraid to speak their minds? Is he putting religion above human rights? What dirty little secrets is he hiding? His uncharacteristic lack of stance makes me wonder all sorts of things. When the public begins to wonder about the motives of an elected official, they start digging to come up with the answers, spelling the beginning of the end for said official. John Baird needs to choose his next words very carefully if he doesn’t want the public supplying his motives for him.
Baird also needs to remember that we elected this guy…
not this guy…