Tag

cdnpoli

Browsing

Is a gender-inclusive national anthem on the way?

Do you think the Canadian national anthem is a bit patriarchal and sexist? Well, so does Liberal MP Mauril Belanger, who back in January introduced a private members bill to change a few of the words to make it gender neutral.

The bill (Bill C-270) has been discussed in the House of Commons over the last few months and is inciting much more controversy than originally expected. If passed, this legislation would change one line in the Canadian anthem from “true patriot love in all thy sons command” to “true patriot love in all of us command.”

The official opposition is arguing that the national anthem is part of Canada’s heritage and shouldn’t be altered. At the same time, the Liberals are arguing that not only will this change more accurately represent the inclusive country Canada has become, but it will also be closer to the original wording of the anthem. The phrase “in all they sons command” was inserted into the anthem in 1913. The original English wording was “thou dost in us command.”

“Many believe the change was related to events leading up to the First World War. It was perhaps assumed that in any major conflict it would only be young men who would carry our national banner and pride into battle, but in fact, both men and women from Canada proudly took part in the First World War. Canadian women served overseas, not as soldiers but in other functions, especially as nurses, and many died doing so. We have commemorated them in Parliament’s Hall of Honour but we have not commemorated them in our anthem,” Belanger said in the House.

This is probably the last bill MP Belanger will be presenting to the House of Commons — he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as ALS). Belanger tried to pass a similar bill during the last Parliament session, but it was defeated. It will now head into its second reading.

As a former history major, I have no problem changing this one particular section of our national anthem. It doesn’t alter the meaning of the phrase. It just removes a religious and patriarchal reference that was commonplace in that time period and is no longer relevant. If the Liberal government suddenly decided to change more symbolic words like “our home and native land”, then that would be a different story. As it is, it’s just a simple attempt at updating our national anthem for this century.

At the same time, I don’t think women are incredibly concerned with the words to the national anthem. I also think there are better ways of making women feel more “included”, like closing the wage gap and lowering the cost of birth control. But, I guess changing the words to the national anthem is a lot easier than the latter.

[socialpoll id=”2365398″]

Sunny ways may be clouded after Trudeau elbows female MP

Sunny ways and sunny days may be over for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after he accidentally elbowed a female MP in the House of Commons Wednesday.

That’s right. He elbowed an MP in the chest and now can’t show his face in the House because politicians and the media made it into such a frenzy that the chances of real work happening on the floor is next to zero.

Here’s what happened:

The House of Commons was about to vote on limiting debate relating to the controversial assisted suicide bill when a group of MPs decided to get up and stand on the floor, blocking Conservative Whip Gord Brown from getting to his seat to start the vote. An impatient Trudeau got up from his seat, crossed the floor, grabbed Brown’s arm, and guided him through the crowd. In doing so, he elbowed NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau in the chest.

According to media reports, Brosseau proceeded to leave the House during the vote because she felt violated and uncomfortable.

It’s pretty obvious that the elbowing of MP Brosseau was an accident, and the opposition parties are definitely milking this opportunity to shame the Liberal government. A yelling match between Mulcair and Trudeau occurred after the incident, in which Trudeau shocked the rest of the House when he dropped an F-bomb — apparently they forgot he wasn’t a schoolboy in disguise.

The opposition and NDP even went so far as to question Trudeau’s feminism. My favourite part of the whole interaction was when when NDP leader Thomas Mulcair screams, “what kind of person elbows a woman? It’s pathetic!”

I’m sorry Mulcair, but that’s a pretty ridiculous question. I can answer it for you: almost every single man (and woman) trying to take public transportation to work. It happened to me this morning. A man was trying to get to the door and he bumped into me with force, physically knocking me over into the lap of another man. He turned around and said, “I’m so sorry” and walked away. I decided not to feel personally offended.

Now, this man wasn’t Prime Minister, but the idea is the same.

The bigger issue, in my opinion, is that Trudeau walked across the floor to guide the whip to his seat in the first place. According to media reports, Brown was not receptive of the Prime Minister’s attempt to get the vote rolling. He told Trudeau to let go of him after he grabbed his arm. I can’t say anything about the amount of force used to “guide” him to his seat, but if he said “let go of me”, then it was wrong of Trudeau to maintain his hold. Actually, it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

It’s also notable that throughout this whole process the speaker did nothing about the crowd of MPs standing on the House floor and blocking the whip’s path. This may have been the reason why Trudeau felt like he had to personally do something.

Since the incident Trudeau has publicly apologized at least three times, saying that he was not paying attention to his surroundings and that he did not mean to offend or impact anyone.

“I noticed that the whip opposite was being impeded in his progress,” he said. “I took it upon myself to go and assist him forward, which I can now see was unadvisable as a course of actions that resulted in physical contact in this House that we can all accept was unacceptable.”

This incident will take over the news — and the politics — in the House of Commons for the next few days. Trudeau may even get reprimanded for actions. Yes, these actions were obviously unacceptable, but let’s not let it cloud our judgement and our ability to work on the real issues at hand. And let’s not turn it into something it’s not — a jab against liberal feminism.

[socialpoll id=”2360752″]

Here’s my story on mental health, what’s yours?

Those who know me can confirm that tears rolling down my face is a strong indication that I was laughing too hard – usually at my own jokes – or someone I care deeply about has fallen flat on their face and I caught the whole thing on my iPhone to blackmail them for the rest of their life. Once I start laughing, it’s hard to stop.

Given these small, well-known facts about me, it’s difficult to imagine that back in January, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. And with Mental Health Awareness Week wrapping up, I want to let it be known that everyone should be aware of their mental health. Here’s my story.

Being only 21 — and South Asian — my mental health struggle is something I’ve had to keep under wraps for the past few months. I identify as a perfectionist. I’m always under pressure to be above average, whether that be with my GPA, the way I showcase myself to family, friends, and even strangers on the subway, to my attempt at balancing my Western and South Asian values in midst of a being born and brought up in North America with strong cultural ties to Bangladesh. I was put on a pedestal since the day I was born and I’ve never forgotten the major mistakes I’ve made in my short two decades.
I started 2016 with a list of usual New Year’s Resolutions. However, a series of unfortunate events began to occur, exposing the fact that I wasn’t as perfect as I let everyone perceive me to be. The emotions I’m so used to bottling up began to surface. I started losing valuable things, failing to maintain and be present in relationships, and traded my smile for frequent, frustrated sighs.

I began losing my drive; something that has kept me going from the moment I had my first goals and aspirations. Waking up became an even greater challenge, the sound of my family and friends’ voices made me agitated, and the thought of being a functioning member of society made me want to shut down and move to Alaska. I fell behind on work and school and began to spend a lot of time in the confines of my bedroom. Breathing alone seemed to have taken more effort.

A week later, I couldn’t take it anymore. One question kept arising: “What’s wrong with me?”

Not having anyone to talk to about it without making me feel like a fragile arts student on the verge of a breakdown, I went to a walk-in clinic one morning. My family doctor has known me for years and I wasn’t prepare to watch her eyebrows shoot up while I told her about how I was feeling. Up until the walk-in doctor walked in and sat down, I kept rehearsing the same sentence. ”I was wondering if you can provide me with a referral to a therapist.”

I repeated that to myself for the 10 minutes I was alone in her office, memorizing what I was going to say, word for word.

“I’m just looking for some information on how to deal with, um, mental health… issues.” I replied when a young woman sat down and asked what she can do for me.

Dammit.

I saw a flash of concern on her face appear and then quickly disappear as she pulled up a website and started asking me a list of questions about my feelings and what’s going on in my life to cause these feelings. I answered them one by one, quickly confirming the doubts I had about possibly having depression and anxiety. After 15-20 minutes of talking, she concluded that I was right.

“Great, so I was wondering if you can provide me with a referral to a therapist.”

The pretty doctor and I shared a couple of nervous laughs and awkward stories about things she would probably tell her family about at dinner that night. She told me about the three month wait to see a therapist and how it may not be possible for me to cope with my emotions until my appointment. To help me cope, she prescribed me with 30 days of anti depressants — without a referral to see a therapist. She didn’t tell me about the side effects, but emphasized that she wanted to see me back in two weeks for a progress report.

I smiled and nodded, sort of relieved there was something that can make me feel better and feel a little more like myself. I went home with my bottle of happy pills that night and told my best friend, a health science and psychology student, what happened. I learned about the side effects and the misdiagnosis that occurred in that office. You aren’t supposed to give someone not struggling with clinical depression anti-depressant pills. She encouraged me not to take them and I promised her I wouldn’t.

Being stubborn — and partially curious — I took the pills for a maximum of three days. They took away the difficulty to breathe, but brought on drowsiness, stomach aches, dizziness, and nausea. I decided it would be easier just to come to term with the occurrences that went on in the past four months and learn to find closure. I never went back to follow up with the doctor after two weeks and she never followed up with me. In addition to occasionally popping pills I could’ve easily sold on the black market to my fellow university students on days where I felt really bad, I adopted a ‘screw that’ attitude and brushed everything off.

While others saw me coming back to my old, confident, slightly arrogant self, I will always see myself as selfish; a thought I’m trying to change. Because I find sometimes the best way to take care of your mental health is to, in fact, be selfish. My uncontrollable need to please people has somewhat improved, but the idea of putting myself first still seems unnecessary and undeserving.

Unfortunately, it’s evident that there are a lot of problems in our health care system. While Mental Health Awareness week is a great initiative, it’s important to provide help when the public becomes aware that their mental health may need some TLC. While I am able to manage my anxiety most days by shaking things off – a tactic I would definitely not recommend — not being able to provide mental health patients with therapists and psychiatrists will most likely lead to a larger amount of problems.

As we speak, there are a sea of lost and helpless men and women who probably don’t even know they are struggling with their mental health. They think they’re stuck in a rut; struggling to wake up in the morning, making their way through their 9-5 jobs while somehow coming home by 5:30-6:00 only to go back to bed again.

We shouldn’t have to ‘deal with it’. We shouldn’t have to hide it. I have come to terms with the fact that anyone and everyone can struggle with mental health illnesses. Even people that laugh at their own jokes.

I’m no longer afraid to admit that I’m having anxiety while I’m typing this very sentence, as I conclude my post and wait as my friends and family click on the link and find out that my ‘bad days’ are far worse than that. And while you will all be aware of this fact when you read this, you should also be aware that there is much more we need to do than just “be aware”. Here is my story. What’s yours?

If you or a loved one may be suffering with mental health illnesses, please visit mentalhealthweek.cmha.ca/ for more information on next steps.

PM Justin Trudeau to attend 2016 Toronto Pride Month

Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, will be the first leader in Canada’s history to attend the Toronto pride parade on July 3, 2016.

The Prime Minister has previously attended pride parades in both Vancouver and Toronto, but this is his first pride event as the leader of Canada. He tweeted in response to Pride Toronto announcing Trudeau’s involvement, “Very looking to being there again, this time as PM.”

Trudeau will attend alongside Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Mayor John Tory. Since 1995, Barbara Hall established the tradition for the head of city council to march in the parade. This was only broken once in the past 21 years by previous Mayor Rob Ford.

Toronto Pride has a somber history. The first registered LGBTQ pride gathering occurred on Feb. 5, 1981, after the bathhouse raids or “operation soap”, a massive police raid of bathhouses on Church and Wellesley meant to silence the LGBTQ community under the bawdy-house law. The raids were followed by a great show of support and protests throughout the streets of Toronto.

In 1984, Pride was celebrated for the first time on Canada Day and became a fixed tradition. Mayor David Crombie, the mayor at the time, wouldn’t officially recognize the event. It wasn’t until 1991 that Toronto Pride Day was approved by the city. In 1998, Pride Week became official.

Prime Minister Trudeau’s attendance will be a welcome addition to the festivities as thousands of people will gather this coming June to celebrate Toronto’s first pride month. This month-long celebration will feature specialized events and programs around the city, finishing with the 10-day Pride Toronto festival between June 24 and July 3.

Having all three levels of government attend the event is amazing —and surprising. To quote the Prime Minister himself, “It’s 2016”. Why hasn’t a Prime Minister attended Toronto’s pride parade before now? That’s a question worth answering.

196 countries pledge to try and save planet Earth

It was a momentous historical occasion in Le Bourget, Paris, earlier this week. On Dec. 11, 196 countries signed an agreement at the 21st Annual UN Climate Change Conference pledging to help slow down carbon emissions.

The central clause of the agreement vows to lower “the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change”.  The necessity of a pledge such as this is blatant — if the temperature rises over 2 °C, it will cause more wildfires, flooding, crop failures, food shortages and diseases worldwide.

The agreement will determine which technologies, capacity building techniques, and finances will help mitigate climate change the most effectively. There is also is a pledge by developed countries to help developing countries gain access to appropriate resources to help in the lowering of emissions. The exact resources have yet to be determined.

Participating countries will determine their own personal emission targets by 2018, and by 2020 each participant should have created a concrete plan to carry out those targets. Countries will meet again in 2023 to determine if their plans have been effective. They will then meet every five years to report and review their progress.

c61c55d2ce0dc7544152dd5b14c461b9

There is an emphasis on transparency in the agreement. Each country is required to submit a bi-annual inventory report of relevant emissions and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases. The reports will be further assessed by the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), which oversaw the Kyoto Protocol.

Developed countries will also work towards raising and providing $100 billion U.S. per year to help developing countries tackle carbon emissions.

The agreement to contribute $100 billion annually to help developing countries is a new strategy for climate change.  It unites the countries in a collaborative effort to make a difference and allows developing countries to progress with the rest of the world in an eco-friendly manner. Many criticisms have arisen because the $100 billion term was only mentioned in the preamble to the agreement and the actual amount of global aid remains to be determined.

CH-IjUGUAAEsaIW

The focus on reducing climate emissions is a central focus in the accord, as is this new found emphasis on helping developing countries reach their target climate goals. Global citizenship has finally been put on the table and the sheer number of countries that signed the agreement reflects a growing change in international attitudes and growing diplomacy towards climate change.

The inclusion of 196 countries in the world highlights the fact that climate change is an issue that nullifies economic bias and world hierarchies. Instead, it unites every person on the planet and redefines the importance of global citizenship.

Canada has thrown its support behind the agreement. Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change said after the conference that she was encouraged to see so many Canadians in Paris. “This is the spirit we now need to bring back home so that we can tackle climate change together,” she said. “I cannot stress enough how important it is that every Canadian take part in this effort. Climate change is the challenge of our generation. Together we can do this.”

Understanding and acknowledging the connection between climate change and several globalized social issues is a step in the right direction, and recognizing these relations could lead to great change. And we can only hope that it isn’t too late to save the beautiful planet earth.

Featured image: Betrayal By Mario Sanchez Nevado

 

Who is the new Conservative Interim leader?

download (2)On Thursday, Rona Ambrose, was elected as Interim leader for the Conservative Party.

In terms of qualifications, Ambrose has held numerous cabinet positions including those of Environment, Intergovernmental Affairs, Western Economic Diversification, Labour, Public Works and Government Services Canada, Receiver General, Status of Women, and Health. Essentially, Ambrose has little bit of experience in everything. Her political career began in 2004, when she was elected as a Member of Parliament for Edmonton–Spruce Grove. She has since grown into a well-known representative in the House. I have no doubt that Ambrose  will be a strong voice of opposition to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government.

This year looks like a dynamite year for women in Canadian politics. First, there is a record number of women elected into the House of Commons. Then, the Liberal Party announces that their cabinet will consist of 15 women. Now, the interim leader of the official opposition just happens to be a woman.

I can’t wait to watch it all unfold.

The women in cabinet: qualified and capable

The promise was kept: 15 of the 31 Members of Parliament (MP) chosen to serve on Justin Trudeau’s cabinet.

The swearing-in ceremony occurred Wednesday late morning, and was attended by over 3,500 members of the public. It was a historic affair, and not only because it was open to “regular” Canadians. It is the first time the Cabinet has been made up of an equal number of men and women.

During the election campaign, the newly sworn-in Prime Minister promised that half his cabinet will be formed of women. Since women make up over 50 per cent of the Canadian population, Trudeau argued they should be represented as such in government.

In 2015, it’s sad that a statement like this one had to be made into an election promise.

Over the last three days, there have been a number of columns written in the media arguing that the cabinet should be chosen as a meritocracy, and not by gender. It was enough to make me snort in my coffee. First of all, there are 50 female MPs to choose from in the Liberal Party, and all are qualified in some way seeming as they were elected by the people of Canada. Second of all, Cabinet appointments have always been political, and it’s naive to think of it any other way. The columns were, by the most part, written by male political pundits. The irony was not lost on me.

As of Wednesday, I firmly believe that these Cabinet positions were chosen based on merit, experience, and trust.

To prove it, here are the women chosen to represent the Liberal Government in the Cabinet and their qualifications:

Carolyn Bennett,
Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs

Carolyn_Bennett_at_podium-CropBennett was first elected to the House of Commons in the 1997 general election and  has been re-elected since. During the SARS outbreak, Bennett served as the first ever Minister of Public Health, where she set up the Public Health Agency of Canada. During the last four years, she has served as Critic for Aboriginal Affairs and Chair of the National Liberal Women’s Caucus.

 

Jody Wilson-Raybould,
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.

Jody_Wilson-RaybouldAs a former crown prosecutor, treaty commissioner and Regional Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Wilson-Raybould is more than qualified to hold this position. She has 10 years experience as an elected official, representing Indigenous people in British Columbia. Wilson-Raybould is the first Aboriginal person to hold this position.

 

Judy Foote,
Minister of Public Services & Procurement

downloadFoote has served as MP since 2008 and previously held the position of Liberal Whip and Deputy House Leader of the Opposition. She also spent 11 years in public service with the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly, acting as Minister of Development and Rural Renewal, Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, and Minister of Education.

 

Chrystia Freeland,
Minister of International Trade

200px-Chrystia_Freeland_-_India_Economic_Summit_2011Freeland is a former journalist who held editorial positions within the Financial Times, the Washington Post, The Economist, The Globe and Mail, and Thomson Reuters. She reported on business and global affairs from the United Kingdom, Eastern Europe, and Russia. Over the past year Freeland held the position of Liberal Critic for International Trade.

 

 

Jane Philpott,
Minister of Health

download (1)Before being elected into the House of Commons, Philpott served as Chief of the Department of Family Medicine at Markham Stouffville Hospital from 2008 to 2014. Before that she was a family physician. She was also an associate professor in the University of Toronto’s Department of Family and Community Medicine. Philpott is the founder of Give a Day to World Aids, which has raised over $4 million to help those affected by the disease in Africa.

 

Marie-Claude Bibeau,
Minister of International Development and La Francophonie

20151021KFI293_460A federal rookie, Bibeau has a lot of experience in community business and local politics. Before running for office, she worked at the Canadian International Development Agency in Ottawa, Montréal, Morocco and Benin, and in Africa. She is also a business owner of 15 years, has served on numerous museum boards, and held a position on the Compton revitalization committee.

 

Melanie Joly,
Minister of Canadian Heritage

10604730_10152619476411713_208595624510881686_oBefore getting into politics, Joly worked with two separate law firms in Montreal. She later moved to communications and founded of the party Le Vrai Changement pour Montréal. Joly is on a number of art and museum boards, including the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the Governnor General’s Performing Arts Award and Business for the Arts.

 

 

Diane LeBouthillier,
Minister of National Revenue

4bQfs8VwLeBouthillier spent more then 23 years working with as a social worker at the Rocher Percé Health and Social Services Centre. She serves on the Board of Governors of Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Îles, and chairs the boards of directors of Réseau collectif Gaspésie Les Îles and Transport adapté et collectif des Anses.

 

 

Catherine McKenna,
Minister of Environment & Climate Change

027ce2bMcKenna is another rookie to the federal arena. She co-founded the executive director of Canadian Lawyers Abroad, a charitable organization based at the University of Ottawa, and was the executive director the Banff Forum, an organization that brings together young Canadians to discuss key public policy challenges. McKenna has also worked as a legal adviser for the UN in East Timor and in Indonesia.

 

MaryAnn Mihychuck,
Minister of Employment, Workforce Development & Labour.
CSa2-PfWcAECQWNMihychuck is a former member of the Manitoba Legislator and is the founder of both Women in Mining Canada and Women in Mining Manitoba. She was elected provincially in 1995, and has served for nine years, holding the positions of Minister of Industry, Trade, and Mines and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. 

 

Maryam Monsef,
Minister for Democratic Institutions

-dCgAcvNMonsef has a truly colourful resume—she has worked for Trent University, Fleming College, Peterborough Economic Development, the Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough and the New Canadian Centre. She has represented Peterborough at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York City, and is a co-recipient of the YMCA’s Peace Medallion. Monsef is also the first Afghanistan-born MP appointed to the Cabinet.

 

Carla Qualtrough,
Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities
carla-qualtroughQualtrough is not only a successful lawyer, but a four-time world champion Paralympian. She chairs the BC Minister’s Council on Employment and Accessibility, and is an adjudicator with the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal. Qualtrough has also been President of the Canadian Paralympic Committee and Chair of the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada. She is on the Board of the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, and Vice-Chair of the Delta Gymnastics Society.

 

Kirsty Duncan,
Minister of Science

DuncanKirsty_LibDuncan is a Canadian medical geographer. Until 2000, she taught meteorology, climatology, and climate change at the University of Windsor. She started studying influenza strains, an interest which led her to perform a ground survey in Longyearbyen, Norway. Duncan was also an adjunct professor teaching both medical geography at the University of Toronto and global environmental processes at Royal Roads University. She also served on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

 

Patty Hajdu,
Minister of Status of Women

Patty-Hajdu1-540x540New to politics, Hajdu was the executive director for Shelter House, Thunder Bay’s largest homeless shelter. For nine years, she worked with the Thunder Bay District Health Unit where she chaired the Drug Awareness Committee of Thunder Bay and authored the city’s Drug Strategy. In her free time, she volunteers as a board member with Alphacourt Mental Health Services and the Ontario Literacy Coalition.

 

Bardish Chagger,
Minister of Small Business & Tourism

BardishChagger-2-250x200Chagger has worked at the Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre, an organization that assists new Canadians as they transition into the community. In this role, she planned and coordinated events for the community, including the annual Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Festival. She was executive assistant to Hon. Andrew Telegdi, former MP. She was also a board member with the Workforce Planning Board of Waterloo, Wellington, Dufferin, and MT Space.

 

To all the naysayers and meritocracy-obsessed column writers, I see your point. How could any of these women be qualified for the positions they now hold?

All I have to say after today is this: Thank goodness our new Prime Minister rose above the commentary to create a cabinet that is actually representative of the population it works for. Thank goodness he saw the value and experience of the women who were elected into the House of Commons. And thank goodness he didn’t assume that men are more qualified than women to run this country.

And shame on those who thought anything different.