Pot calling kettle


 

 

 

On January 3, Iran summoned Canada’s envoy to Tehran to protest Canada’s “blatant violation of human rights.”, just days before our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper fired back with this bon mot, “Iran is the world’s most serious threat to international peace.”

This is not the first time Iran has held Canada up as being in severe and consistent violation of human rights. In September of 2007, they distributed an entire booklet detailing Canadian human rights violations. Some of the accusations in that 70 page booklet were, that Ottawa denies Canadians everything from clean water, the right to food and the right to work. Yes these charges were laid against CANADA!?

It seems that Iran has decided to make Canada a target every time the United Nations Human Rights Council is about to convene in order to take attention away from blatant and heinous violations of human rights in their own country.

The question I ask myself, is why Canada? Yes we hold ourselves up as a standard-bearer of human rights, but we, admittedly, are still a work in progress. We also hold ourselves up to scrutiny from the United Nations because we feel we have nothing to hide and actually want violations to be pointed out to us so we can correct them. I assume the reason to slam Canada is to point out hypocrisy in our stance and therefore make the point that human rights violations occur everywhere so why is Iran singled out and berated for this so-called crime? There’s another answer to the why Canada question. Oil. We are also an oil selling nation and, therefore, competition.

Back in 2007, there were several other countries that sided with Iran and their booklet. Predictably, they were countries who were also some of the world’s worst violators.

This begs another question. Why is it that every country in the world is not striving to make sure that all human beings are granted basic human rights? Morally, this seems to be an obvious thing to do. Is it greed? (that’s very likely a big part of it) Is it fear? (fear of allowing the oppressed freedom, then having to face retribution from them) Is it religion? (or is that just the excuse they cloak the greed and fear in?)

In my opinion it’s the simple belief that the rich cannot exist without the poor. But must the poor need to suffer beating, rape, torture and humiliation so that the rich can be rich? The answer is a resounding NO. Rich and poor are relative terms. Just how poor do the poor have to be in order to make a rich man feel rich?

Canada is considered a medium income inequality country. We have the lowest income inequality in that category. (though the gap is growing) Canada is a country that still has a middle class. A country where the average person without a university education can still make a comfortable living and have a good quality of life. Yes, we have poor people, but as a socialist country, we have a huge amount of programs in place to help with housing, food and employment. We are also a country that provides welfare for those who need it. Are we a perfect country, no, that doesn’t exist. But that doesn’t mean we should stop trying to improve.

So instead of bashing Canada on the world stage, perhaps Iran should focus on improving its own reputation.

Are we married or aren’t we?


 

 

 

 

Yesterday the news that gay marriages performed in Canada to couples who don’t live here may not be valid, swept the internet news sites and the blogosphere alike. As a Canadian and a supporter of gay marriage, the news made me a little sick to my stomach. This was the first article I saw on the story. In the last paragraph, the article quotes family law attorney Andrew Feldstein, of Toronto, as saying, “Where the Harper government should have approached this is: you are not a resident of Canada, you are not a taxpayer in Canada, why should we be using the court’s time, money, resources, taxpayers dollars for people who don’t live in Canada?”

My response to this comment is, it’s not taxpayers who pay for divorce proceedings, it’s the couple in question. Is Canada now so allergic to money that we will decline it just because it comes from another country… or is this a gay issue? Is gay money somehow not worth as much as straight money? And what about all the tourist dollars we get from the gay couples from all over the world who come here to get married, some with an entire wedding party in tow? Are we, as a country really in a position, in this economy to turn away revenue? I am purposefully responding to this topic from a financial view-point because that’s the only thing that lawyers and politicians seem to respect and understand. Financially, this just doesn’t make sense.

What about Canada’s reputation as a tolerant country? We are a country that famously touts our multicultural  status as something to be proud of… and it is. We are ahead of the curve when it comes to Human Rights… but Gay Rights ARE Human Rights.

One month ago, almost to the day, former Prime Minister, Jean Chretien posted a letter to the Liberal party website. In it he said, “The Conservatives already ended gun control and Kyoto. Next may be a woman’s right to choose, or gay marriage. Then might come capital punishment. And one by one, the values we cherish as Canadians will be gone.” Did he know something the rest of us didn’t? Of course the liberals are jumping all over this hot button issue. Interim liberal leader Bob Rae was quoted as saying. “It’s quite clear that we have enabled and allowed people to come to Canada to marry in Montreal, in Toronto and everywhere in the country. People came from the U.S. and elsewhere and that means very clearly they have the right to marry and have the right to divorce,” and he’s right.

Just one day later, the Federal Government has decided to change the law.

“We want to make it very clear that in our government’s view, these marriages should be valid,” a senior government official said on Friday. “That’s why we will change the Civil Marriage Act so that any marriages performed in Canada that aren’t recognized in the couple’s home jurisdiction will be recognized in Canada.”

This is fantastic news and I’m sure it will be implemented quickly so as to nip this scandal in the bud.

I must admit I’m a little confused by something. Using the United States as an example, what about gay couples who marry in Vermont, but live in Florida? Their marriage isn’t recognized in the state they live in, so if one partner is in the hospital, for example, the other isn’t considered a family member, regardless of the marriage licence issued by Vermont. If this hypothetical couple wants to divorce, doesn’t the same problem rear its ugly head? Are they only married in Vermont and the other 5 states that allow gay marriage, but not married in the other 44 states that don’t?

It’s questions like these that I hope the GLBTQIA community south of the border is asking itself. I sincerely hope that this issue spurs more activism in the United States and around the world.