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An open letter to the Conservative Party of Canada

My political beliefs may not entirely align with the Conservative Party, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care. The entire premise of our democratic institution is based on having multiple parties and types of people representing different ideas and values within Parliament. This is a concept I am proud of.

What I am less proud of is the state of Canada’s political leadership race.  More specifically, I am disgusted by who you may support as a candidate for Prime Minister.

Yes, I’m talking about Kevin O’Leary.

Can I ask you this: When did the job of Prime Minister (or President for that matter) become something sought after by television personalities? When did we, as a society, decide this was okay?

I understand the appeal. A lot of people are sick of career politicians. Broken promises and hypocrisy appear to be taking over Parliament, and the Canadian people are tired of it. They want someone different, someone who isn’t just a pretty face for the camera. They want someone who will speak to them honestly and candidly, and actually fix some of their problems for a change.

But, the idea is to choose the RIGHT politician. Maybe you shouldn’t hire a guy who spends half his time in the United States telling entrepreneurs they don’t have what it takes to succeed in the financial market. Maybe don’t choose someone who purposely jumped in the leadership race after the French debates because he can’t speak Canada’s second official language? And maybe don’t vote for someone who offered the province of Alberta $1 million for the Premier to resign? These are just a few fun tidbits about the man now who wants to lead the Conservative Party of Canada.

The leader of a country should be a dedicated public servant, someone who has spent his or her life working for the people. Their resume should be highly impressive, with years of involvement in politics, whether in an official capacity or volunteer-based. They should have an intense relationship with their community and a real understanding of the issues facing Canadians at large.

I may not have been the biggest Stephen Harper fan, but no one could deny he was incredibly capable and qualified to be Prime Minister of Canada.

What I’m trying to say is this: the job of Prime Minister should be sacred. It should be a job that is unreachable for most – except for the incredibly dedicated and deeply committed. It shouldn’t matter how popular you are or how much money you have. All that should matter is what you stand for.

I can’t help but think of a quote from the television show The West Wing, when the communications director sits down to speak with the President about re-election. “Then make this election about smart, and not. Make it about engaged, and not. Qualified, and not. Make it about a heavyweight.”

Card-carrying Conservatives — you have the power to elect a heavyweight! Canadians are watching as the President of the United States leads the Republican Party down a giant hole of hatred and bigotry. Donald Trump’s words have impact on a global scale — and so do the words of Prime Minister of Canada.

You can avoid this same embarrassment. You can choose to hold your party, and the office of the opposition leader and Prime Minister of Canada, to a higher standard.

Have a little respect for yourselves and please vote for someone who has not only a tabloid-personality, but someone with real qualifications and a dedication to this country.  I promise you: you’ll regret it if you do it any differently.

What to take away from the Women’s March on Washington

It started out as a mere Facebook event created by a few, ordinary women looking to voice their opinions following the unpredictable 2016 presidential election back in November. What arose  in the next few months turned into a record-breaking global demonstration, with an estimated five million people, with confirmed numbers yet to be announced, taking part throughout the U.S alone.  Although it was generated as a response to the incoming Trump administration, it exceeded all expectations in turn-out and universal messaging. Almost 700 rallies took place in all 50 states of the US, including our very own city of Toronto, in addition to every continent in the world. 

What started off as a march intended to protest on women’s issues quickly expanded into a human rights movement, highlighting key issues pertaining to people of colour (PoC), the LGBTQ community, immigrants rights, economic participation, the criminal justice system and disability rights, to name a few. As stated by many speakers at the march, women’s issues cannot be compacted into the stereotypical bubbles of reproductive justice or sexual violence. Although these are incredibly important issues, they are not the sole focus of a complex and diverse gender. Whether  you were at home watching powerhouses like Angela Davis,  Alicia Keys, Van Jones and many others speak and perform, or on the streets marching, rest assured that the Women’s March on Washington and seven continents over is currently being deemed the largest U.S-centric protest in history

And while that is a huge reason to celebrate the solidarity and unity of humanity, particularly sisterhood, it is equally important to look at the steps that need to take place following this historical movement, as well as to reflect on the history of peaceful demonstrations and the array of responses they receive.  So, as a sister invested in the movement and a proud WoC, I have a few friendly requests for fellow sisters and transwomen and other allies who want to see positive change going forth from this historic uprising.

Ground your work in understandings of intersectionality and the dynamics between privilege and power. It’s easy to get lost in a sea of pink “pussy hats’’, bold posters and  empowering chants. There is more to solidarity than just showing up for one day. Unfortunately, despite the physical unity and solidarity that was witnessed by hundreds of thousands over the weekend, marches such as this cannot deem us as sisters – at least, not yet. In order to identify as ‘sisters’, we’re going to have to respect the long and sometimes violent history of fighting for justice. A fight that it seems minority groups have taken on by themselves. The fact is, women of colour and other marginalized folk have faced challenges long before Trump and his cronies came into power. The oppression that we hear about goes beyond any one president.

The need to start having real conversations about institutional violence and where other women come in to further the oppression of other sisters, even if it’s unintentional is more important than ever. It is something that needs to be acknowledged. Yes, there were millions on the streets and it’s about damn time, but ask yourself this – where were these crowds when black and brown bodies were being murdered and abused in broad daylight? Where were these protests when Indigenous lands and waters were being threatened and destroyed? If it’s one thing that this march showcased, it’s that the strength isn’t in the numbers, but in listening and respecting stories of the many issues and forms of violence that affect all of us.

It’s just a matter of paying attention.

I’m going to take a moment to specifically speak to my white sisters who are just joining us in the fight for equitable justice: your solidarity and intentions, while sincere, are not always going to be trusted, at least not right away. As stated by the New York Times, ninety-four percent of black women voted for Hillary Clinton. Sixty-eight percent of Latina women did so. But 53 percent of the white female voters in the United States voted for Donald Trump. Your white privilege has offered you many cushions against racial, economic and law enforcement violence. There were no arrests at the women’s march, barely any suspicion on the motivations of the attendees from security personnel.

If this needs to be made any more clear, all we need to do is look at the #J20 protests that took place on inauguration day. Protesters, mainly people of colour, were tear gassed and confronted with military-style interventions during their marches. Be critical of what it means to be a true ally – show up not just when your rights and values are threatened, but when other communities’ existences and humanity are questioned and attacked, as well. Help us. But, before jumping into action, please take the time to ask other groups what they think is the best way forward. Don’t just assume what they need. 

To everyone else; remember, protests look to make a statement. It’s not a trendy activity that you do on a Saturday afternoon. Sure, #womensmarch was trending worldwide on social media, but a movement does not take place overnight. Do not let the hashtag die down. Using hashtags as a buzzword, which is what happens with a lot of other movements (i.e #BLM), undermines the meaning and power behind it. A hashtag is not to be used for the benefits of retweets and shares, but to bring forth hard conversations, not just virtually, but in your daily lives. A hashtag, a representation of the greater movement, let’s voices be heard – often those voices which are systematically silenced.  

To show true solidarity, it’s important to remember that resistance looks very different to many women across the spectrum. Sometimes it isn’t just about the right to make choices over our bodies, but for many others, it is a constant fight to survive. This fight didn’t start with the Women’s March on Washington – but for many generations. It’s time to propel ourselves, together, into the next stages of true intersectional feminism.

My sisters and I need you. Are you here for us?

Strength in unity: Women’s March brings millions together

You would think the politics of the last week would divide people. Instead, it brought over a million of women, men, and children of all ethnicities, religions, and economic statuses, together. No matter how I think of it, the feeling of awe is absolutely overwhelming. Did anyone else expect the movement to be this big? I knew it would be impressive, but the turnout blew my mind. I couldn’t remember when a group of people this large marched down the streets of Toronto with a simple purpose: gender equality and women’s rights.

Think about it: Millions of people got together to walk through their city of choice, protesting a government that doesn’t respect their bodies or their rights as a basic human being. That, my dear readers, is a beautiful thing.

In Toronto over 60,000 people marched through the downtown core, surprising skaters at Nathan Phillips square. Photos lit up social media using hashtags #womensmarch and #womensmarchTO, to spread messages of love and resistance. There were participants of all age groups, skin colours, and religious affiliations — all with their own independent voices. But, no matter the cause or the reason why someone joined the march, the overarching message was quite clear: “Love Trumps Hate” — and it always will.

Photo courtesy of Madeleine Laforest

Here are some of the highlights from the march in Toronto:

In Washington, people marched not only in support of women’s rights, but also to protest the new president Donald Trump. Over 200,000 of people attended (although numbers haven’t been officially confirmed), in addition to the slew of celebrity speakers. Here are some of the highlights:

Angela Davis, political activist: “The freedom and struggles of black people that have shaped the very nature of this country’s history cannot be deleted with the sweep of a hand. We cannot be made to forget that black lives do matter. This is a country anchored in slavery and colonialism, which means for better or for worse the very history of the United States is a history of immigration and enslavement. Spreading xenophobia, hurling accusations of murder and rape and building walls will not erase history.”

Kerry Washington, Actress: “When you go back home tonight… and you feel like ‘Wow, there is an agenda at work to make me feel like I don’t matter, because I’m a woman my voice doesn’t matter, because I’m a person of colour my voice doesn’t matter, because I’m an immigrant, because I’m a member of the LGBTQ community, because I’m an old person, because I’m a young person… because I have a fucking voice, I don’t matter.’ You matter.”

Elizabeth Warren, Senator: “Yesterday, Donald Trump was sworn in as president. That sight is now burned into my eyes forever. And I hope the same is true for you, because we will not forget. We do not want to forget. We will use that vision to make sure that we fight harder, we fight tougher, and we fight more passionately than ever — not just for the people whom Donald Trump supports, but for all of America.”

“We can whimper. We can whine. Or we can fight back! We come here to stand shoulder to shoulder to make clear: We are here! We will not be silent! We will not play dead! We will fight for what we believe in!”

Natalie Portman, Actress: “[Women] must seek leadership positions, and support other women who do the same. Until we make it normal to have at least half, if not more, of our leaders be female, we will be serving, and with our taxes financing, a government that believes it’s within their domain to make decisions for our future.”

America Ferrera, Actress: “The president is not America. His cabinet is not America. Congress is not America. We are America. And we are here to stay. We will not go from being a nation of immigrants to a nation of ignorance. We march today for our families and our neighbours, for our future, for the causes we claim and for the causes that claim us. We march today for the moral core of this nation, against which our new president is waging a war. He would like us to forget the words, ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free,’ and instead, take up a credo of hatred.”

Scarlett Johansson, Actress: “President Trump, I did not vote for you. That said, I respect that you are you our President-elect and I want to be able to support you. But first I ask that you support me, support my sister, support my mother, support my best friends and all of all girlfriends. Support the men and women here today that are anxiously awaiting to see how your next moves may drastically affect their lives. Support my daughter who may actually, as a result of the appointments you have made, grow up in a county that is moving backwards, not forward, and who may potentially not have the right to make choices for her body and her future that your daughter Ivanka has been privileged to have.”

Bernie Sanders, Senator: “President Trump, you have made a big mistake. By trying to divide us up by race, religion, gender and nationality you have actually brought us closer together. Black, white, Latino, Native American and Asian American, gay or straight, male or female, native born or immigrant we will fight bigotry and create a government based on love and compassion, not hatred and divisiveness.”

Photo courtesy of Madeleine Laforest

Did you go to one of the Women’s Marches? Let us know how it went in the comment below! 

 

Why the term “fake news” is so dangerous

What is “fake news”? That’s a question a lot of people are asking these days. It’s also a question a certain President-Elect SHOULD be asking before he takes office; although, I’m sure he won’t.

As a journalist, this phrase makes me cringe. News, by its very definition, cannot be considered “fake”. It can be sensationalist, maybe sometimes biased, but not fake. “Fake News”, therefore, isn’t news at all. It’s just garbage on the Internet or the tabloids that way too many people are gullible enough to think is true.

The Internet is big. Anyone can create a free website and start to write, upload photos, and create video. They can even make their site look like that of a news organization. It’s not that difficult. This fact is an amazing thing, but it does create a few problems. Who do you trust? What information is real and what is, as we call it now, “fake news.”

This is where journalists and news organizations come in.

It is their job (and mine) to sift through all of the false claims, tall tales, and outlandish stories that exist on the Internet. A journalist will confirm facts with numerous, legitimate and reliable sources. Their work is then edited by a number of people, including fact-checkers. If, in some cases, those sources and fact-checkers are not available, a news organization may use the word “unverified” or “alleged” until such time where the facts can be confirmed. This ensures transparency. This does NOT mean the information is falsified by the media with a nefarious purpose.

Cue President-Elect, Donald Trump.

At a press conference on Jan 11, Trump refused to answer a question by CNN veteran reporter Jim Acosta.  This happened after CNN reported that intelligence officials briefed Trump on an unverified dossier alleging Russian officials had compromising information about Trump.

“Your organization is terrible,” he yelled when Acosta tried to ask him a question. “You are fake news.”

And that was it. The term was redefined.

Since then, Trump has used the term “fake news” to describe every story he’s had an issue with. Most recently, on Jan. 18, he tweeted a news story from NBC.

 

Essentially, the term “fake news,” once used to describe a false story on the Internet that suddenly started trending to the point of believability, is now used to label a media organization is wrong and untrustworthy.

What Trump hopes to do is perpetuate this myth that the media is out to get everyone — that they would do anything or say anything for a headline and a few clicks. This is outrageously insulting, not to mention a dangerous sentiment for the future President of the United States to make. The job of the media is to keep people of authority accountable; to inform the public about what is happening in the world; and to shed light on important issues that require attention.

Just because you don’t agree with a story, or you don’t like what it says, doesn’t make a story, or a news organization, “fake.” It also doesn’t mean it’s wrong — unless you can show the data and prove it.

To throw this phrase around haphazardly, without forethought or understanding, creates real problems for the media and destroys its essential purpose.  I’m guessing this is exactly what Trump wants — but the public should be wary.

It’s good to be critical. It’s smart to question whether something described as fact is, in actuality, true. However, it’s just as important to question the way politicians attack the press and the real message they are trying to send stop from spreading. The President-Elect’s use and abuse of “fake news” is another of his bullying tactic to deflect and suppress non-Trump generated news. The public should not allow this abuse to continue.

Freedom of the press is an essential part of a democracy. As Barack Obama, soon to be former President of the United States, said to the media in his last press conference Wednesday, “You’re not supposed to be sycophants, you’re supposed to be skeptics. You’re supposed to ask me tough questions.”

“Democracy doesn’t work if we don’t have a well-informed citizenry, and you are the conduit through which they receive the information about what’s taking place in the halls of power. So America needs you and our democracy needs you.”

The use of the term “fake news” to delegitimize the media is an affront to that very concept — and it’s up to every single citizen of North America to ensure politicians don’t take advantage of this term for their own gain.

What do you define as “fake news”? Let us know in the comments below.

The women who stole the Golden Globes

Okay, I know no one really cares about the Golden Globes, but I’m going to talk about it anyway. The Golden Globes is like the Oscars, but with more booze. Actors and musicians line the read carpet in hopes of being honoured by the Canadian Foreign PressAward. In the middle of the show, they get up, drink wine and/or champaign, and have a few laughs with their fellow celebrity-people.

To be honest, it’s not my favourite awards show, but it is getting increasingly more interesting. The focus of the night is no longer strictly about what the hottest stars are wearing (well, maybe a bit), but it’s also about the political statement they want to make that night. For this particular show

First of all, let’s talk about Meryl Streep, recipient of theCecil B. DeMille award for lifetime achievement. The award, which is absolutely well-deserved, was followed with an acceptance speech that summed up Hollywood’s fears and concerns following the American election. The words Hollywood, foreign, and press, Streep said, are all being vilified right now. With poise and elegance, Streep then launched into a speech that touched on so many critical elements of humanity that it proved once again why she is so deserving of the lifetime achievement award.

“This instinct to humiliate, when it’s modelled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing,” she said. “Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”

She also plugged the Committee to Protect Journalists, saying that journalists need protection so they can continue to dedicate their lives to sharing truths and keeping people of power accountable.

Rachel Wood, who was nominated for her role on HBO’s Westworld, strutted the red carpet wearing a custom suit by Altuzarra. While many women opt for a suit rather than a dress, Wood is not usually one of them. She says she has worn dresses to every award show before this one, but she wanted to make sure young girls knew it wasn’t a requirement.

“And I love dresses, I’m not trying to protest dresses, but I wanted to make sure that young girls and women knew they aren’t a requirement. And that you don’t have to wear one if you don’t want to, and to just be yourself because your worth is more than that. So this year I said I’m going as an homage to Marlene Dietrich and Victor Victoria, and David Bowie because it’s his birthday.”

Tracee Ellis Ross won an award for best actress in a comedy television show (Black-Ish) and gave a very simple and elegant acceptance speech. She dedicated the award to “all of the women, women of colour and colourful people whose stories, ideas and thoughts are not always considered worthy and valid and important.”

And then there was Claire Foy, who won for best actress in a drama TV series for her role as Elizabeth II in Netflix’s The Crown.  In her acceptance speech she thanked Queen Elizabeth for her inspiration. “I think the world could do with a few more women at the centre of it, if you ask me.”

And these were just the highlights.

The 2017 Golden Globes wasn’t the best awards show I’ve seen, but it certainly wasn’t the worst. At least the actors and actresses were given the opportunity to discuss causes close to their heart and make this awards show into more than just an opportunity to wear outrageous dresses and diamond jewelry. And for that, I’m thankful.

Fear and hatred elected President Donald Trump

“This loss hurts, but please, never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. It is worth it,” Hillary Clinton said during her concession speech on Nov. 9. “And to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable, powerful, and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”

The United States has a new President — and that President is Donald Trump.

I’m numb. I’m not even sure I’ve completely processed this information. As editor of Women’s Post, I was watching the election results come in Tuesday night with the expectation that I would be writing a piece the following day about the first female President of the United States. Staff created some templates with details of Hillary Clinton’s life, focusing on her expertise and capability for the office. There were photos, graphs, and lots of feminist quotes to throw in. It would have been easy to put together a great profile for our readers.

Instead, I’m writing a piece about how a racist, misogynist man who thinks sexual harassment is locker talk, who was endorsed by the KKK, and who believes that all immigrants are thieves and rapists, became President of the United States.

Let’s tackle the first aspect of this question: how? How on earth did this happen?!

Obviously, there were a lot of factors. Voters were upset with how their political system worked and wanted change. There was a predominant disgust of “the elite”, an undefined group that tends to include politicians that can’t relate with the majority of the American people. When voters get frustrated with their politicians, it makes it hard for them to vote for the status quo. It also didn’t help that the FBI interfered with the election by releasing unfounded information that brought Clinton’s emails back to the surface at a critical point in the campaign.

But above all else, I think the underlying reason why Trump won is hate. Hate of “the other” and fear of “non-American values”. Throughout this campaign, Trump has capitalized on the fear and intolerance of the American people. Hate of immigrants, hate of women, hate of African Americans, hate of the LGBTQ community, and hate of the media. Hate for “the other” — people who are not like you. Hate of uncertainty.

This fact makes me sad. As a Canadian, I was raised with an understanding of tolerance and acceptance, that people, no matter their race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, should be treated equally. I was taught that respect and kindness was the ultimate value. Sure, I know Canada isn’t perfect. This country has it’s own problems with racism and misogyny, but it’s nothing compared to what I witnessed during the US presidential campaign.

The Trump rallies incited violence, talks of waterboarding and torture for enemies, and general sexual harassment. Protesters were attacked for simply holding up signs that said they were anti-Trump. People of various ethnicities were dragged out of conference rooms. Is this what Americans should expect from their new president?

Trump won the election with 279 electoral votes compared to Clinton’s 218 (as of 11 a.m. on Wednesday). It was a close race, much tighter than anyone expected, with large swing states flip-flopping between the two candidates until about 3 a.m. What does this mean? A lot more people in the United States let fear dictate their decision, fear of unemployment, fear of immigrants, and fear of the unknown. Instead of voting for someone inspirational, capable, and strong enough to incite real change, they voted for the person who made them scared of the future. This person told them they should be afraid, that the political system was rigged and corrupt, and said he was the only person that could protect them from these evils. And people believed him.

The sad reality is that this is democracy. I can’t say I’m angry or disappointed with the American people because it is their right to vote for the person they want to be President. I can, however, say that I’m disheartened by how much hate and fear Americans seem to have in their hearts. I’m saddened the American people felt like Donald Trump was the only solution.

In this particular case, hate and fear won the day — and now the world will have to deal with it.

What did you think of the first presidential debate?

I usually don’t pay attention to American politics — at least not to this extent. But, against my better judgement, I was compelled to watch Monday night’s debate. I thought, if anything, it would be an entertaining evening. Boy, was I wrong.

It was not funny. In fact, it was brutal. Republican candidate Donald Trump proved he’s clueless on policy, lacks self control, and has no real ideas besides keeping jobs in America and kicking out immigrants. He told the moderator that the Stop-And-Frisk program was needed to lower crime in big cities like New York, even though a judge ruled it unconstitutional and racist.

At one point, he even admitted to not paying his income tax, saying “that makes me smart” when Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton brought it up.

The icing on the cake was when he said Clinton didn’t have the “look” or “stamina” for the job, an obvious reference to her being a woman in Washington.  Throughout this whole circus of a debate, all Clinton could do was smile, probably to keep herself from shouting or laughing uncontrollably at Trump’s ignorance.

Clinton, on the other hand, sounded extremely presidential. She had an economic plan, spoke with authority about international trade, and didn’t jump to conclusions based on unfounded fact. She was able to calmly deliver a few great one-liners too.

While she did sound a bit rehearsed, that’s not a bad thing. As she said in the debates: “I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate. And, yes, I did. You know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president. And I think that’s a good thing.”

I agree Hillary. I agree.

The American presidential election has turned into an insane race anchored in sexism a la Trump. The whole debate was like an abusive relationship — woman says something reasonable, man screams at her and calls her an idiot. This man says that everything is her fault. This man interrupts her and talks down to her. This man says he has a great temperament because he was going to say something insulting about her family, but didn’t. After the debate, this same man blames his poor performance on his willingness to hold back so he doesn’t embarrass the poor, weak, woman.

This is the man America may elect to be president. Dear God.

trump

A leader is supposed to inspire and make you feel safe. All Trump made me feel was sick to my stomach.

All of this is to say, vote. Please. Please. PLEASE! If you are an intelligent human being, do your research. Don’t ever trust a politician blindly. Look at their policies. Think about who you want to run your country. Think about what could happen if the wrong person is elected into office.

Usually, I refrain from offering editorial endorsements. I don’t like telling readers who they should, or shouldn’t, vote for. But, in this case, there is too much riding on it.  It’s not just America’s fate being decided on Nov. 8. It’s that of the world.

Saying that, please, for the love of everything you hold dear: vote for Hillary Clinton.

What did you think of the presidential debate? Let us know in the comments below and subscribe to our weekly newsletter!