Ashu Solo increases pressure on Saskatoon prayer-mayor

I’ve covered previously Ashu Solo’s complaints to the mayor of Saskatoon for one of their councillors’ prayers during a volunteer appreciation dinner, and the CCLA asking them to stop it.

It appears that several days ago, Solo contacted me to let me know that he’s built a blog post regarding the media’s coverage of this ongoing issue, and of Atchison’s and Donauer’s odious and religiously-privileged responses. (My email has been inundated lately though, so it kinda got buried, and I’m only getting around to posting this now.)

That post is here, and includes an open letter to the pair that documents where they’ve doubled down publicly.
[Read more…]

“And he looks at me and says ‘So what?'”

Watch this trailer for a series of short films by Jeff Feuerzeig called “Together”. My title’s quote actually teared me up.

The series is here, presented by Pride Toronto. I’ll be watching some or all of these tonight after work, I expect. It looks like it’ll be pretty much entirely happy-making, even where it’ll obviously get poignant. I think some of us need some of that right about now.

Memo to Americans: Canadians exist, Bigfoot doesn’t

A shocking and horrible poll published by Angus Reid declares, “Americans more likely to believe in Bigfoot than Canadians”.

I know you folks might never see us very often — we haven’t had a war with you in a very long time, and I can understand why you might be inclined to forget about us given our cultural contributions have included Celine Dion and Justin Bieber. But I’m telling you, we exist. We don’t even have flip-top heads, like your Sunday night educational programming “South Park” might lead you to believe. Hockey was invented here. We make good beer.

Wait, what? That’s not what the survey says? Hang on. Knew I shoulda read it before starting this post. *grumble grumble*
[Read more…]

Labatt almost sues Montreal Gazette over dismemberer’s photo

They wisely backed off after a Twitter campaign to remind them of the Streissand Effect, but the makers of the least complicated beer in Canada very nearly sued the Montreal Gazette over publishing this photo from Luka Magnotta’s Facebook feed.

What’s the big deal though? It’s a picture of the killer in a club or something, holding a Labatt Blue. Surely even serial killers and snuff film makers who send dismembered body parts to political parties need to wind down too, after a long hard day with the bonesaw!

I’d covered this sicko when news broke, and I’m happy to report that Magnotta was caught after fleeing to Berlin and will not fight extradition back to Canada. Normally I’d be careful to say “alleged” killer, but the evidence is pretty iron-clad, and he’s admitted he “can’t stop killing”, so… yeah.

The victim whose body parts got sent to the Liberals and Conservatives was Jun Lin, a Chinese engineering student. The kid apparently had a promising career ahead of him before Magnotta made him famous. Bloody shame.

But seriously, who drinks Labatt anyway? It’s trying to be a less-offensive Coors Light or something, and failing miserably.

Onoes, the religious are being bullied by Gay-Straight Alliances in Canada!!

In Ontario, there’s apparently been a bit of a row over school anti-bullying clubs naming themselves Gay-Straight Alliance, or something similar. The row comes mostly from the Catholic schools — naturally — where the proposed clubs are denied on the basis that they have the word “gay” in them, where these Catholic schools consider homosexuality to be evil, sinful, et cetera. The provincial government is debating amending the education laws surrounding anti-bullying initiatives in such a way to prevent schools from denying these clubs’ existences, so an archbishop threw a shit-fit.

“Why is a piece of provincial legislation being used to micromanage the naming of student clubs?” he said.

On Friday, the Liberal government at Queen’s Park said it would introduce legislation that would require all schools to accept clubs by that name.

[Read more…]

Some sick freak is mailing body parts to the Conservative Party of Canada (Update: and Liberals too!)

I thought about starting this post by saying “look, I hate the CPC as much as the next guy”, but quickly realized that evidently, I don’t. Someone — possibly multiple someones — has sent two body parts to the Conservative Party of Canada headquarters.

Police would not say what the body part was, nor where it was found, though they did say it was not found at the Conservative Party offices on 130 Albert St. where the foot was sent.

Media reports said the second package, containing a human hand, was not addressed to the Tory headquarters. Police said the major crime unit continues to investigate.

Police were called to the building at 11:20 a.m. ET after a suspicious package was delivered there. Police called for the hazardous materials unit after they noticed what appeared to be blood on the package.

It’s interesting that the foot was mailed directly to the Tories but the hand wasn’t. I don’t know what that means yet.

I can envision a few scenarios where this might make sense to some deranged person — in protest of the Tories and Harper’s government’s policies, as a taunt to the police to catch a serial killer, maybe even mailing the body parts of someone they felt was victimized by the government out of revenge. I can only hope that the parts come from the same body, rather than two different ones, and that the person those parts belonged to was not freshly killed for expressly this purpose. Regardless, this story is disturbing on a number of very visceral levels.

Update: Holy shit. Okay, it’s not targeted at the CPC at all. The hand was delivered to the Liberal Party. And they have the rest of the body, and a suspect who’s been known to kill kittens on video, who may or may not have a link to Karla Homolka.

Montreal police are looking for Luka Rocco Magnotta in connection with the delivery of a human left foot to the Conservative Party of Canada headquarters in Ottawa and the discovery of body parts found in Ottawa and Montreal.

Police said Magnotta, 29, also known as Eric Clinton Newman, is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant and police are asking for the public’s help to find him.

Police said Magnotta knew the victim whose torso was found in Montreal on Tuesday.

Jesus t-shirt kid pulled from school by dad til they stop discussing being respectful

The story I mentioned yesterday has another twist. But first, I need to set a few things straight.

Everything about William Swinimer’s “defiant” wearing of the t-shirt that calls non-Christian lives “wasted” smacks of martyrdom to me. In a very small township like Chester Basin, in a school where most of the population is Christian and of the less than tolerant kind, Swinimer’s exhortations that he’s doing it to stand up to the bullies smacks not only of hyperbole but of outright fabrication. My first instinct when I read this story was not to once again assign blame for the situation on the ridiculous hate speech laws Canada has to suffer (which, yes, this case does have that fatal flaw at its core), but rather to lament that the school board completely mishandled this case and let it spiral out of control, taking action at the least-actionable offense to their, and all of our, detriment. This led to some misunderstandings about my feelings in comments and on Facebook, but they’ve evidently since been cleared up.

There’s a lot more to the story than the National Post discussed, though. For instance, via CBC, apparently William’s father John pulled him out of classes on the same day he was supposed to return from his suspension, wearing the probably rank t-shirt and all, when all students were scheduled to be able to participate in voluntary sessions on how to discuss religion without being disrespectful of others. Evidently William could have opted out, but his father opted him right the hell out of school altogether.

But John Swinimer said he wants Forest Heights Community School in Chester Basin, Lunenburg County, to only teach the basic courses, leaving religion out of it.

“He will not attend this school unless they are having reading, writing and arithmetic — good old-fashioned academics,” he said, waving a New Testament bible. “When they’re having forums, when they’re having other extra-curricular activity, he will not attend that school.”

Emphasis mine.
[Read more…]

US puts Canada on piracy watch list yet again!

Remember how, last time around, Conservative Industry Minister Tony Clement convinced the US to put Canada on a piracy watch list despite us being in last place on a list of 46 countries? Given the circumstances of that particular attempt at sabotaging our country’s standings so baselessly, can you understand why I might be skeptical of the motivations behind this news?

In its yearly report on countries that are not doing enough to protect the U.S. copyright industry, Canada is listed on the Priority Watch List with China, Russia, Ukraine and a handful of other countries.

The Special 301 Report reads:

“Canada remains on the Priority Watch List in 2012, subject to review if Canada enacts long-awaited copyright legislation. The Government of Canada has given priority to that legislation. The United States welcomes that prioritization and looks forward to studying the legislation once it is finalized, and will consider, among other things, whether it fully implements the WIPO Internet Treaties, and whether it fully addresses the challenges of piracy over the Internet.”

Other countries are more lucky.

Spain, for example, has been taken off the list after it implemented a harsher copyright law. Last December the US ambassador threatened to put Spain on a trade blacklist if the country failed to pass a SOPA-style site blocking law.

Weeks later the new law passed.

I maintain that the worldwide copyfight is an attempt to maximize short-term profits for the content middleman industry expressly at the expense of individual liberties. Hobbling Canada’s international standing in a cynical game to force us to pass SOPA-like anti-privacy anti-piracy measures is a wholly unsurprising tactic. Pulling the same tactic twice, though requires that we all forget what happened last time around.