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Ford sets Ontario education back 20 years

After just a few short days in office, Doug Ford has already made good on his promise to remove the liberal’s sexual education program and replace it with one that was literally published decades ago.

When Ford was elected into office he told the public that he would be removing the current sex-ed program, which focussed on important issues such as masturbation, same-sex marriage, cyber safety, and transgender people. It also taught kids about issues more prominent with today’s youth: contraceptives, STIs, and the notion of consent.

On July 11, Ford announced that schools would be reverting back to a 1998 curriculum that has no mention of the important issues highlighted in the current program. Education minister Lisa Thompson told reporters at Queen’s Park that “The sex-ed component is going to be reverted back to the manner in which it was prior to the changes that were introduced by the Liberal government.” She added that the party will be “moving very swiftly with our consultations and I will be sharing with you our process in the weeks to come.”

This decision came from Ford’s decision to consult parents on what they wanted to have taught to their children in schools and what they wanted to teach their young ones at home.

His opposition was quick to criticize the decision. NDP leader Andrea Horwath told reporters on July 11 that, “Going backwards in terms of keeping our kids safe and giving them the information they need to stay safe is not the right direction.” She added, “We worked hard to make sure that everyone in Ontario feels that they are respected, that they are able to be who they are, able to have opportunity, able to be free of violence and hate. And anything that starts to erode people’s ability to be themselves and be respected in this province is problematic.”

A petition is already in place to sway Ford into reverting his decision. The petition, called “Doug Ford: Keep Ontario’s Sex-Ed Curriculum, has already reached 54,283 signatures of their 75,000 goal to date. It reads: “The curriculum was designed and written by experts in child development, internet safety, police, and social workers, in consultation with roughly 4,000 parents. It emphasizes much-needed lessons of consent, acceptance for others and sexual health.”

While some are praising Ford for already living up to his promises, the ones that he’s put into effect will drastically alter the education of children and not the for the better.

Canadians join conservative party to sway leadership vote

Watching extreme-right conservative party candidates like Kevin O’Leary and Kellie Leitch gain popularity in the conservative party is frightening, and a lot of people feel helpless to prevent such an extremist conservative leader from gaining power. At a time in which our neighbours south of the border are leaning to the right, promoting xenophobia and racism among other things, it would be devastating if Canada followed suit. There has to be a way to stop the conservatives from electing a far-right leader — and a few Canadians have found one.

Instead of sitting idly by, many concerned left-leaning and liberal citizens have taken matters into their own hands by joining the conservative party, only to take part in the vote for their next party leader in May. These left-leaning citizens are being dubbed ‘imposters’ by the Conservative party for doing so, but Canadians are desperate to prevent an extreme right-winger from gaining control of any party in federal politics.

For only 15 dollars, a Canadian can join the party, as long as they are older than 14 years old and then take part in the internal party vote for the next conservative leader. The only other criteria to join the conservative movement is to accept the 22 principles of the conservative party, which are relatively moderate and democratic in nature. Examples of the principles include fiscal economic responsibility and accepting all Canadians, regardless of religion and ethnicity.

So, how does joining the Conservative party just to vote in a leader have an impact exactly?

Joining in order to vote in a more progressive leader could sway the vote substantially because of the type of voting system used in this type of election — a preferential ballot system. This means that if there is no clear majority winner, the voter indicates reference to each of the candidates listed on the ballot, and then the preferences are counted together until the winner is determined. If people are joining the conservative party simply to cast a vote for the leader, this system of voting preference could substantially change whoever the potential leader could be.

Joining a party to affect leadership is an unusual approach to democracy, but is a credible way to affect change to the right-wing political party in Canada. Kevin O’Leary is one particular leader who has little history in politics and extreme-right views, begging the question: ‘who does that remind you of?’. Kellie Leitch is another concerning candidate — woman who is pushing a xenophobic and racist agenda under the guise of “Canadian values.” She has argued for a ‘barbaric cultural practices’ RCMP tip line that has been criticized as islamophobic and is an ardent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump. Maxime Bernier is another strong candidate due to his long history in Canadian politics, but continues a long-held conservative tradition of being bland and never thinking outside of the box. He would most likely continue the work of former conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

With left-leaning citizens joining the conservative party in order to vote, it may be possible to get a more moderate candidate like Michael Chong into the position of the leader. Chong believes in imposing a carbon tax and doesn’t stray to the far-right in his policy-making. He may be a better choice for a conservative party leader, and wouldn’t lead Canada into extreme-right rhetoric that the United States in currently experiencing.

Having an extreme right-wing leader at the helm of the conservative party could be extremely damaging for Canada. The global sentiment is currently swaying towards xenophobic, nationalist and racist ideologies that are out-dated and downright dangerous. As Canadians, we need to ensure that we do not end up in the same place as our neighbours in the U.S. Though joining the conservative party to sway the vote may be extreme, protecting true Canadian values, and not the kind of ‘Canadian values’ that Leitch is referencing, is essential.

Ultimately, you decide what kind of country you want to live in. It is up to all of us, and as a Canadian mother, I know I do not want my daughter to grow up in a country built on right-wing extremist islamophobia and hate.

Interim conservative leader calls Trudeau…a woman?

This morning I opened my computer to find a really strange news headline in my Twitter feed — “Rona Ambrose takes swipe at Justin Trudeau alludes to him as female prime minister.”

What!?!

Apparently, during a speech at last weekend’s federal conservative convention, interim leader Rose Ambrose made a speech about inclusivity within the political party. In this speech, she makes reference to a number of women who were “firsts” in their field. In this statement, she makes a very strange connection to the sitting Prime Minister of Canada.

“That’s why we’re the trailblazers. We’re the Party of the first female cabinet minister and first woman to serve as acting prime minister, the exceptional Ellen Fairclough.

That’s why we’re the Party of Canada’s first female foreign minister, the irrepressible Flora MacDonald.

That’s why we’re the Party of the first woman to lead the Official Opposition, the redoubtable Deb Grey.

And, of course, that’s why we’re the Party of Canada’s first female, you would think Justin Trudeau was this, but now, we had the first female prime minister, the Right Honourable Kim Campbell!

So I say to Justin Trudeau – who’s the feminist now?”

I’m not sure what the conservative interim leader was trying to do here. And I don’t know why I’m so offended. Was it because she was essentially calling our Prime Minister a woman? Was it because she inferred that, by being a man, Trudeau can’t be a feminist? Was it because I interpreted this statement as demeaning? Was it meant as an insult? If so, isn’t that a bit anti-feminist? If it wasn’t meant to be an insult, why was it even said? My questions continue.

The idea of political feminism has been thrown around a lot lately, by all parties in the federal, provincial, and municipal spheres. But, since when did it become a phrase to hurtle against your opponent with disdain? Since when was it used to de-masculinize someone?

Feminism is something we should all be proud of. All of the accomplishments listed above are not standings that should be overlooked. Each one of these women were amazing in their own way. But, the accomplishments happening right now are equally as important. Let’s not make fun of them by throwing gendered labels where they don’t belong. It just makes us all confused.

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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.