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Ontario minister wears bulletproof vest to Jane & Finch, causing backlash

Michael Tibollo, the Ontario PC Party’s minister of community safety and correctional services, said that he wore a bulletproof vest while visiting Jane and Finch, prompting leaders to call his remarks racist and ask for a comment withdrawal.

Ontario’s PC minister of community safety and correctional services visited the Jane and Finch area on July 7. He tweeted about the experience, saying, “I had the opportunity to travel around 31 Division and learn about the great work of our police force. We are committed to work with our Police to ensure safe neighborhoods free of guns and gang violence. Glad to have Premier Ford join me and hear his concerns as well.”

Premier Doug Ford also tweeted about the experience. “Enjoyed meeting with the great community members in the Driftwood neighbourhood yesterday along with Minister @MichaelTibollo and officers from 31 Division. We are focused on building strong connections between communities and our police services,” he wrote.

During a question period in Queen’s Park on July 18, Tibollo said that he wore a bulletproof vest before entering the Jane and Finch area in response to a question about carding (incidents where people – often minorities – are stopped by police for no reason). The question came from Brampton North NDP MPP Kevin Yarde.

Yarde asked, “Mr. Speaker. I personally have been carded. […] New Democrats have long been advocating for the end of carding as a first step in addressing systemic racism. […] Will you be making changes to allow even more carding to take place on Ontario streets or will you work to stamp out carding?”

Tibollo responded, “I went out to Jane and Finch, put on a bulletproof vest and spent 7:00 to 1:00 in the morning visiting sites that had previously had bullet-ridden people killed in the middle of the night.”

During a question period later in the day, Tibollo added, “They’re surrounded by drug deals, one of which I saw take place while I was there. It was absolutely horrifying.”

“The police need tools to work with, they are doing an incredible job ensuring that our streets are safe. And it’s our job — I’m not a police officer — but what I can tell you is they need skills, they need tools to work with,” he added. “Our work will be to ensure working with the communities to make sure we build trust and that we have those tools provided to them to be able to do their jobs properly.”

Opposing party leader, Andrea Horwath, tweeted about Tibollo’s comments, calling them racist. “Conservative minister Michael Tibollo’s comment this morning about wearing a bulletproof vest at Jane and Finch is inexcusably racist. Anyone who would say something so divisive has no credibility to continue to oversee Ontario’s Anti-Racism Directorate.”

Tibollo responded about an hour later writing, “Any attempt to spin my comments this morning, is petty partisan politics. I am proud to support our police, and I will continue to work with communities and front line officers to make sure our neighbourhoods are safe.”

However, Horwath isn’t the only opposing Ontario leader who criticized Tibollo’s actions. Yarde also called for a retraction of the comment. In response to reporters, he drew on personal experience, saying that he was pulled over seven years ago in Mississauga for no reason. “Depending on who you’re asking and as an African-Canadian, I thought it was a racist comment,” Yarde said. “It was a surprise to hear comments such as that coming from the minister of community safety and correctional services.”

Alok Mukherjee, the former chair of the Toronto Police Services Board also tweeted out that wearing a bulletproof vest during a ride-along is not standard. “Since when is this a standard procedure? I did not wear a vest in my ridealongs all over the city,” he tweeted.

Deputy Premier Christine Elliot defended Tibollo, saying that she didn’t think Tibollo intended on an offensive comment. “I think what he is speaking about is needing to go to communities to understand what’s happening, to understand how people have been hit by violence, gun violence in their neighbourhood,” she told reporters.

Ford’s sex-ed decision will hurt students

So, Ford officially nixed Ontario’s sexual education curriculum so he could appease pro-life, Christian groups and conservative parents who don’t want children to know about basic things. Big surprise.

When Ford was discussing his idiotic plans for the city on the campaign trail I already knew that I wasn’t going to vote for him. He was too quick to yank decisions out of thin air that only placated a small amount of misinformed, bigoted people. It’s obvious that this is what the next four years will look like now that he’s literally setting the province back 20 years.

In case you missed it, Ford announced on July 11 that he would be reverting the Liberal party’s curriculum and replacing it with the 1998 version. The reason for this was essentially so he could consult with parents on what they wanted their kids to learn at home versus the classroom.

There are many problems with this decision. The 1998 curriculum didn’t include things that matter today like transgender people, same-sex marriage, consent, masturbation, homophobia, online bullying, and sexting. Back then these things were pretty much unheard of, so it wasn’t a big deal to sweep them under the rug.

But when students started entering a technology-driven society, things drastically changed. Kids were getting more open about their sex lives, sending photos to their partners, and had a new platform to bully other kids into suicide or changing schools. The internet is great for a lot of things, but it’s also a dangerous aid to children who weren’t educated in how to behave or protect themselves.

For those parents or conservatives out there who think this is a good move, let me tell you something. I went to high school in a Catholic school. Learning about Jesus for four years when you’re an atheist was already hell enough (please control your applause at these puns), but my class learned nothing about sex. Nothing. The teacher spent half a class once talking about how girls have a vagina and boys have a penis, everyone needs to refrain from having sex until couples were in love, and that everyone has to be safe. The end. But, what does safe mean? Ah, yes, my Catholic high school wanted to cover their butts by saying they technically told students to be safe, but they worked around it by not showing students what that meant. Kids in my school were never taught how to put on condoms or what diseases could be contracted through unprotected sex. This kind of “education” led to the school shutting down hallways because students were having sex too often in them and grade-10 girls walking around the cafeteria pregnant. So, maybe education is a good thing?

Though, it’s not just the Catholic groups out there who wanted Ontario’s sex-ed curriculum repealed. Enter Campaign Life Coalition. Let me stop sighing long enough to express my distaste in their backward views. They published an article talking about graphic lessons on body parts. Words like “penis” (oh no!), “vagina” (the horror!), “testicles” (the travesty!), and “vulva” (sound the alarm!) were all present.

I think I can understand where they were coming from. They don’t want little kids in grade one learning about their genitals because they’re much too young and need to be making macaroni art. However, kids get curious. It’s not unheard of for children that young to start exploring with other kids or even their own siblings. Look at the whole Lena Dunham debacle that happened a few years ago. Tons of people were quick to call her disgusting and a rapist, whereas several therapists actually stated that they didn’t think Dunham abused her sister at all. What happened was a case of curious children who weren’t properly educated by their parents or in schools.

It’s not just the genitals thing that irks me. It’s how the Coalition’s article also demonized same-sex households. A line from their article on grade 3 lessons reads: “Will normalize homosexual family structures and homosexual ‘marriage’ in the minds of 8-year-olds, without regard for the religious/moral beliefs of families.” What about the regard for the children coming from same-sex homes? That means they can be left out entirely so a homophobic agenda can continue being taught?

The article continues by saying, “It would be one thing to teach the fact that such alternative family structures exist, if the plan were to teach it at older ages, and if it were done in a way that respected the deeply held religious and moral beliefs of traditionally-principled families. However, the Kathleen Wynne government will certainly take an activist approach to these lessons and show no respect nor tolerance for traditionally-principled families.” Correct me if I’m wrong but it sounds like you’re upset that “traditional” homophobic, belittling views won’t see the light of day. Forgive me for not shedding tears.

I already knew that Ford promising to rid the new curriculum was going to be trouble. I believed him, and if you want to applaud him for keeping true to his promises then I guess I can give him that as well. I can’t deny that he did what he said he would. It just turns out that what he did was stupid, damaging, ill-informed, and not half as big a win as he thinks.

Regardless of whether or not Ford or the conservative parents out there believe it, kids masturbate. They’re going to have sex. Girls will get their periods. Boys will ask girls to send photos of their breasts. Girls will ask for photos of a boy’s genitals. Your kids are going to experiment. They’re most likely going to have sex in high school and be curious as children, so the least you could do for them is keep them educated.

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.

‘He said, she said’ physical intimidation in PC party

A story broke early this morning alleging Randy Hillier, the MPP for Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington, made unwanted physical contact with a female politician at a party convention in 2016.

The allegations were made by Goldie Ghamari, the Tory candidate in new south-Ottawa riding of Carleton. She says the two politicians went outside for a smoke and Hillier put his arms around her and dug his fingernails into her shoulders. As Hillier is a much larger man, Ghamari felt intimidated and threatened by the action. They had a brief exchange of words, and then Hillier left, after her laniard to read her name.

Ghamari said she went to the party executive director to discuss what happened. They investigated, but there were no security cameras pointed to the area where the two politicians were standing. And when asked, Hillier denied touching Ghamari, saying only they exchanged a few pleasantries before parting ways. With this information, Ghamari was told her option was to take him to court; otherwise, there was nothing the party could do.

Ghamari posted to social media leading up to the breaking of this story in the Ottawa Citizen, saying, “A sitting MPP harassed me, intimidated me, & used his body to bully & scare me out of getting involved in politics. I gave him an opportunity to apologize and recognize that his actions were wrong. He chose to deny it ever happened.”  She urged the person to acknowledge their actions and apologize.

In response, Hillier sent her a personal email and posted a statement on Twitter, saying exactly what he said two years ago:

The two politicians are telling very different stories, which is one of the leading challenges when investigating a harassment claim. History has shown that investigators tend to side with the accused, unless clear evidence presents itself — and this instance was no exception. It was clear the party executive made a slight effort to determine what happened (with the insistence of Ghamari), but when no concrete evidence could be found, Ghamari was left to decide on her own whether to take legal action, without any support from her party.

These kind of stories are not unique, especially in politics. More stories will be heard in the coming months, and while some may say women are using these instances as political leverage leading up to an election, others would argue they are pushing the #MeToo conversation forward and bringing awareness to the treatment of women in public service.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

PC leader Patrick Brown resigns after sexual misconduct allegations

Around 1:30 a.m. Thursday, Patrick Brown stepped down as leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives amid allegations of sexual misconduct by two young women.

This decision came as a shock, as hours earlier Brown called reporters to a press conference to vehemently deny the allegations, and to say he will not be resigning.

“I want to say: These allegations are false. Every one of them,” he said to reporters at the 9 p.m. press conference. “I will defend myself as hard as I can, with all the means at my disposal…I know that the court of public opinion moves fast. I have instructed my attorneys to ensure that these allegations are addressed where they should be: in a court of law.”

Following this statement, Brown’s top three staff campaigners quit. An emergency caucus meeting saw a number of Member’s of Provincial Parliament call for his resignation. Ontario PC deputy leaders Sylvia Jones and Steve Clark released a statement on Twitter, saying that “In the interest of the Ontario PC Party we unanimously agree that Mr. Brown cannot continue serving as the Leader. Mr. Brown is entitled to a legal defense and due process, but he cannot lead us into an election as a result of these allegations.

“The Ontario PC Party unequivocally upholds the principle that a safe and respectful society is what we expect and deserve. We need to move forward to eradicate sexual violence and harassment across the province.”

Brown will still sit as a MPP while he fights these allegations.

More to come.