Tag Archives: safety

The Deepwater Horizon Film Reminds us That Hollywood is Still a Propaganda Machine

I’m kinda furious about this:

When first watching the trailer, I tried to remind myself that it was just a movie.

But it’s never just a movie, is it?

Given enough time, I’m sure I could list hundreds of films that changed my perspective on the world. The Hours was the first time I felt challenged on my once very black-and-white perspective on LGBT rights. Hotel Rwandadespite being called “revisionist junk” by then UN peacekeeper/now senator Romeo Dallaire, was the first movie to open my eyes to the role of politics in preventing, or allowing, genocide and devastation. There are just so many movies that moved me to reconsider my stance or opinion by challenging me to see the world through someone else’s eyes. Movies do affect us, often more than we’d like to admit. Heck, that’s exactly why we talk so much about representation in movies here on the blog.

So I am a movie fan who believes that movies impact their viewers. That’s why I’m furious that there is about to be a major blockbuster that will hero-wash “the worst oil spill in U.S. History” a spill that polluted the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days and leaked approximately 3.19 million barrels of oil. Continue reading

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The Trans Pacific Partnership: A Threat to Canadian Taxes, Food Security, Democracy, and More

My name is Jonathan. I am 26 years old and living a typical Canadian life. I can honestly say that I spent the majority of my life wanting “the dream”: money, fame, and fortune. I believed that everyone had a chance to get that dream, especially living in a Country like Canada.

After I graduated from high school, I moved to the city. I learned about myself and experienced new people and cultures. I partied, shopped, and socialized, then went to work so that I could go out and spend more money and time with people. I was living the life but something seemed empty about it all. Everything in my life felt like it revolved around spending money.

We may talk about things like homelessness, world hunger, climate change, environmental pollution, wars, and diseases, but as a whole, my society isn’t worried about this. We are concerned about making and spending money, we feel obligated to go out and work those 40 hours every week so that we could have the means to pay for our consumer lifestyles.

What many people don’t realize is that the North American lifestyle wasn’t always this kind of rat race. In many cases, it used to be possible for a middle class family to support themselves on only one income. However, after the introduction of the NAFTA agreement many of those dependable unionized jobs moved to Mexico, where businesses could exploit workers without unions getting in the way. Since then, our economy has become much more dependent on debt. Not to mention that since the 2008 housing crisis in 2008 purchasing a home in many cities is now nearly impossible.

Currently, Canada is looking to introduce a bill that could have just as wide flung effects as the NAFTA agreement: The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

What is the TPP?

Right now our nation is at a crossroads. Recently, our government signed onto the The Trans Pacific Partnership. This agreement threatens many of our rights and freedoms. If it is ratified, we will be allowing corporations to make decisions for us, but with the priority of profit over the welfare of people.

This agreement is quite a bit like the North American Free Trade Agreement that Canada signed in 1994. NAFTA allowed a lot of wealth to be made, but by corporations, and not the people of the countries involved. The new Trans Pacific Partnership may have even worse consequences than NAFTA, as the video below highlights.

While the video explains the general problematic aspects of the TPP, I’ve addressed several aspects below that will directly affect us in Canada.

1. Canadian tax dollars are being spent paying lawsuits to Corporations

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Art courtesy of Jon Marks

Companies within NAFTA are allowed to sue countries whose policies affect their profits. Canada has already paid out around $160 million to companies for lost revenue. How much will Canadians have to pay in the future to satisfy the Companies suing for lost profits?

Policies that are meant to protect Canadians are being challenged just to boost profits. The health and job security of Canadians are not a corporate priority, and the TPP will only further threaten their safety. Canadian policies or decisions can be legal, fair and designed to effectively protect the environment or public health, yet they can still face corporate lawsuits demanding hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation. A powerful tool of corporate rule is already undermining our democracy. Why would Canada want to willfully sign up for more of that? 

2. It threatens Canadian Food Security and Health Security

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Courtesy of Food Security News

We live in a globalized world. We have a constant supply of food, a wide variety of options, and goods are cheap. The often overlooked problem with this system is that our world is not a stable one, there are wars, famines, droughts, floods. The Climate is changing dramatically and fast.

We are almost completely dependent on imports for many food and goods that could instead be grown and produced in Canada. At the same time we are exporting our natural resources. If global trade were to stop, Canadians would be ill-prepared to deal with the food and goods shortages.

The TPP opens more markets to Canadians, which pushes down the prices of everything, leaving little motivation to have more expensive Canadian-made products and food. It could even threaten the few industries that are still protected here in Canada, like dairy and poultry. And any dairy farmer could tell you that the difference between our dairy standards and those in the United States are staggering.

The TPP also opens up opportunities for companies to challenge food labeling. Since labeling where food comes from, or how the produce was grown (i.e. GMO) could affect profits, companies could sue Canada for requiring labels.

Personally, I want my food to be labeled so I can know where my garlic is grown and whether my tuna was caught without killings thousands of dolphins. Consumers should have the right to know where and how food is produced. Cost shouldn’t be the only deciding factor.

3. It Threatens Canadian Socialism

Canadians think that we live in a socialist country. We have free health care, employment insurance, and we would like to think it’s a fairly even playing field when it comes to finding a rewarding career. We are told that we have opportunities to become successful, that there’s a piece of pie for everyone. We are told that our lives are best.

Unfortunately, reports and studies continually state that the world’s wealth continues to stay with the 1% of the population and the rest of us are getting poorer.

Canadian corporations have tax havens of up to $200 Billion, which keeps money out of Canada and costs regular Canadians more taxes. Canada should make laws preventing these loopholes and recoup the ‘stolen’ money.

Canada, with countless resources, should be a country of bounty. We shouldn’t have widespread homelessness and poverty shouldn’t be such a problem. People shouldn’t have to decide between supporting themselves and receiving a post-secondary education.

Canadians pride ourselves on universal healthcare, but many medical services and products aren’t actually included under that coverage. This could get even worse if the TPP is passed, since it includes excessive patent protections and other intellectual property rights that are guaranteed to make medication much more expensive in Canada. Call me a socialist, but I believe medicine should not be a profit-focused industry. I think pharmaceuticals should be heavily regulated by the governments, with the goal of bettering mankind, not just the stockholders. The health and wellbeing of humans should not just be seen as an opportunity for profit. Unfortunately, Global News has already reported on certain Pharmaceutical companies dramatically increasing drug prices.

Canadians need to decide what we want our future to be like.

We can allow the TPP to be signed and continue the corporate and banking invasion of our country, allowing rich corporations to benefit at the expense of the rest of the population.

Or we could stand up to the corporate world and demand that our country protect our rights and freedoms. We could see our governments take down economy-destroying banking systems and regulate corporations to once again benefit humans before profits. We could work towards health and food security, only selling or sharing surpluses with other countries. With less focus on profits, we might be able to solve many of the problems plaguing our world.

It is not too late to challenge the TPP. It may have been signed, but it is not yet ratified. The recent election was a political shakeup; it could allow Canada to rewrite our embarrassing trade, environment, and social policies.

So what will you do? Say nothing, and allow the TPP to pass? Or stand up and contact your MP to let them know that you care about Canada’s future. You can tell Ottawa that Corporations have no right to rule Canadians. We are a free country, we are a democracy, and we will not go down without a fight.

The time to decide is now. You have everything to lose.

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Courtesy of The Council of Canadians acting for Social Justice


JON Marks is a 26-years-young, flamboyant, micro-writer who works in the garden and irrigation industry. He is a hobbit at heart and loves a good cup of tea. He is often a quiet fellow, but some situations can cause him to voice his opinions. He has no problem dishing the T.

If Protecting Women Against Sexual Assault was the Point, Bathroom Preference Wouldn’t Be Our Main Focus

The bathroom use of transgender people has been a topic that’s hard to avoid, especially on social media. Here in Canada, the following video began to circulate after Alberta’s 61 school boards decided to “revise regulations and hash out new policies by March 31 to protect the rights of LGBTQ students and teachers, support gay-straight alliances and create a safe learning environment.”

And in the U.S., the American Family Association recently began a boycott of Target after the organization stated that transgender visitors should be allowed to use the bathroom they feel most comfortable in. Meanwhile, several States have attempted to pass bills that would force “transgender people to use restrooms that don’t match the gender they live every day”.

Along with the debate, a variety of memes have popped up on both sides of the conversation. While it irritates me to see the particularly popular Chuck Norris-themed meme belittle transgender experiences, I thought trans activists were easily holding their own in the meme department by reminding readers of how difficult it can be to spot a transgender person, and therefore how ridiculous it is to police who enters which bathroom.

Unfortunately, there have already been several cases of bathroom policing, where women who aren’t deemed feminine enough are challenged for entering their bathroom (as might be expected, the video below includes some strong language).

Continue reading

5 Privileges I’m Thankful for on International Women’s Day (and That I Want All Women to Enjoy)

Today, on International Women’s Day, I’ve been reminded of how grateful I should be. Maybe it’s because I’ve been flipping through images of women’s protests around the world. Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching sentimental videos that make me feel inspired (even if they are marketing ploys by Google). Either way, I can’t help but feel grateful.

By the time this post goes up around midnight tonight, it will no longer be International Women’s Day. Before then, I’d like to take a moment to be thankful, and highlight ways we can support other women in their fight to win these privileges too.

1. Freedom and Safety

When I get up in the morning, I do not feel afraid. My country is not at war. My physical safety is not threatened. Throughout history, this was not something most women could take for granted. In many countries around the world this is still something women cannot take for granted.

There are many organizations working to ensure women’s safety. There are a variety of organizations that are working to help women (and men and children) from areas like Syria that have been affected by war. Unfortunately, in unstable situations like these, rape and sexual violence become weapons of war. The Stop Rape Now website highlights a variety of organizations that work with victims of sexual assault and promote rape prevention education. Continue reading

Coming Out, Moving Forward

When I was last dating a man, I talked long and loud about my queerness. I objectified female celebrities with the gusto of a barely post-pubescent male; I loudly debated the finer plot points of such luminous queer media as MTV’s Faking It; I was here and I was queer and I was proud, and god forbid anyone think I was straight, just because I was dating a man. I was all too familiar with that sort of misconception, but in reverse: when I had dated a woman for the first time, in my last year of high school, we had done that most high school of things and changed our relationship status on Facebook. This led a group of people – people who had known me over the course of multiple years and witnessed many ridiculously dramatic and public instances of romantic interest in men – asking me over and over again if I was a “lesbian, now”.

Being tacitly bisexual is a constant parade of those sorts of questions (as is being openly bisexual, unfortunately, but to a lesser extent). My unwillingness to announce my sexuality to everyone I met meant that when I was dating a woman, people assumed I was a lesbian, and when I was dating a man, people assumed I was straight.

And I was tired of it. I was tired of desperately trying to flip my self-presentation every time I was in a relationship, tired of worrying if I was queer enough, not to mention whether I seemed queer enough. Those worries became even more present when I became the co-editor in chief of my college’s only LGBTQ+ campus publication. How could I position myself as a leader in the queer community when I was in an ostensibly heterosexual relationship? Would anyone take me seriously as a queer advocate and writer if I happened to be dating a man come publishing time? Continue reading

Can You Do Halloween Without Buying Into Excessive Consumerism?

We love Halloween. We love getting dressed up. We love carving pumpkins. We love candy.

There is just so much to love, and this year we jumped right into the fray. We even went on John’s first ever haunted house trip, and I had the pleasure of hearing my husband scream in terror.

None of these guys are John, but the same fear is in their eyes.

Unfortunately, Halloween has also become one of the most consumeristic holidays in North America. Here in Canada the amount of money we dish out for Halloween is only second to what we spend on Christmas. Now that Halloween is over, I’ve started to wonder how we could still participate in this holiday without buying in to all the crap we’re told to purchase.

1. Costumes

Back in 2013, when we were still doing CWR roundtables, Evan, Gordon and I debated how we felt about the over-sexualized costumes that pop up every year at Halloween. This year, I’ve noticed a lot of women and little girls responding to the typical sexy Halloween nightmare by dressing as their favourite feminist hero. Some of my favourite feminist costumes this year have been “The Notorious RBG” (baby version) and mini Frida Kahlo.

Real life hero costumes are a great tribute, and usually they only involve a quick trip to the thrift store. However, I love seeing the creative alternative costumes that up-cyclers have come up with in their effort to avoid store-bought costumes.

When it comes to costumes, I’m not too worried. As long as I have a bit of time and creativity, I will always be able to avoid buying a ridiculous dollar store costume. Continue reading

3 Life Lessons I Learned in Church (Or, the Hilariously-Sad Realization that I Grew Up in a Cult)

“Here’s an easy way to figure out if you’re in a cult: If you’re wondering whether you’re in a cult, the answer is yes.” ― Stephen Colbert, I Am America

They say hindsight is 20/20. Never has this cultural idiom been so true to me as the moment that  I realized I grew up in a cult. After conducting some personal and academic research about the characteristics of a cult, the scales fell from my eyes and, hallelujah, I could see.

It wasn’t as earth-shattering as I would have expected, in some ways, it was like I always knew. I just had to step out of the cult closet and see for myself.

A few characteristics of a cult include financial mismanagement, abusive behaviour, and attempts to control members through manipulation. During my time in my childhood church I experienced and/or witnessed each of these concerning behaviours. Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t the kind of horror movie cult that was sacrificing babies, or drinking poisoned Kool-Aid. Generally, it wasn’t even all that bad. But on the spectrum of church to cult, we had more in common with a cult than the typical church.

I learned a lot from my recent revelation, and I wanted to share what I learned with you. Below, I’ve included three life lessons I learned in church, or, as I like to say, the hilariously-sad realization I grew up in a cult.

Life Lesson #1: Your Time is Valuable

“If God is up at five in the morning for prayer… (dramatic pause)… Then you should be, too!”

Time is arguably our most valuable commodity, and it’s your time that a cult will take the most of. For most cults, controlling your time is almost as good as controlling your money. Since I was quite young I didn’t donate a lot of money, but let me give you a breakdown of how I spent my time:

There are 168 hours in a week. We sleep about 56 hours, and work about 40 hours each of the five workdays. That leaves about 72 hours left to do what we like. In our cult, we were told that our time was spiritual money in our spiritual bank account. If we had free time we weren’t doing enough for the Lord.

In a given week we would spend 19 hours in prayer (both communal and private), 6 hours in service, 4 hours doing street ministry (aka knocking on people’s doors and handing out pamphlets), 10.5 hours of driving ministry (picking up families for church programs), 3 hours youth ministry, 4 hours outreach ministry, and 5 hours in worker meetings or music practice. That left 19.5 hours of free time for 7 days, or approximately 2.7 hours of free time per day. To put it another way: if our free time had been money we would have barely made enough to support a child in a third world country.

When I finally committed to not go to church (cult) anymore, I suddenly had time to do what I wanted. It was as if I had discovered my belly button for the first time as an adult, which would be mind-blowing, to say the least.

Life Lesson #2: Question Everything

“When you come in here, turn off your brain.”

Ignorance is bliss, but cult ignorance? That shit is magical.

The first thing a cult takes away is your ability to question. You are not allowed to question leadership, the lack of faith healings, or the way money is being managed. You are discouraged from receiving a secular education and told to “turn off your brain” so the spirit could lead. Asking certain questions could get you ex-communicated. This meant that the Leaders would restrict any communication/contact between the ex-communicated person and the rest of the church congregation. This delicate practice was meant to somehow force the individual into repentance and to return once again to their (dysfunctional) church family.

In order to demonstrate your “true faith” you were required to leave your logic at the door and take everything on faith, no matter how absurd some of the services would get (running around the building and shouting at the top of your lungs was a frequently occurring event). While this kind ignorance was truly blissful, it quickly got out of hand.

Growing up in a cult was a lot like growing up in a tiny magical bubbleMy tiny bubble consisted of a small intimate group of people that saw each other every day. Like most charismatic churches we believed in faith healing, prosperity, and gifts of the spirit (speaking in tongues).

However, we also believed we could:

  • change the weather
  • drive cars without gas
  • teleport
  • pray back a woman’s hymen so she could re-lose her virginity on her wedding night (honest truth)
  • pray away the gay
  • chase demons out of the church (this actually involved physically running around)
  • pray over adult video stores to close them down (it actually did close down two weeks later, BTW)
  • repel bullets through prayer (when the persecution came)
  • pray people out of the grave.

It was a strange, wonderful, magical bubble, to say the least. But it was also a bubble that needed to burst.

For me, the pin that burst the bubble came the day we were asked to pray for a specific group of people to die.

We prayed, and they died, further justifying our beliefs in our magical powers.

It was scary, scary to be in a group of people you love and have grown to know over decades, then, one day, to see them all pray in mindless fervour for someone to die.

This is when the magic ended, I no longer viewed the world through the foggy haze of my magic bubble. I suddenly realized this was all crazy and I had no choice but to leave.

Life Lesson #3: Know When to Walk Away, And Know When to Run

“I don’t trust people with an education, they think too much with their head.”

As cliche as it sounds, things aren’t always meant to last forever. Leaving the safety and security of the community was hard. It was like a divorce; a divorce where you had to separate yourself from every single member of your family one by one. Although I came out relatively unscathed, there were people who I cared about who lost everything: family, money, and community.

The loss of community was the most heartbreaking. It left many bewildered and asking themselves a multitude of questions: What had been the point of all that hard work and time? Why did we pray so much? Why did I give away so much money? And why did I needlessly hate myself for natural body functions? Masturbation jokes aside, after leaving, or rather running, from the cult that I grew up in I learned that I don’t need their edification in my life to have purpose. I could live and make my own choices, without fear that God or church will disapprove. In my cult-free life I have found joy and purpose. Plus, there’s no one trying to steal my money anymore.


The writer of this post has chosen to remain ANONYMOUS.