Category Archives: Canadian Politics

Maclean’s and Winnipeg Racism

The prompting for this blog, was Manitoba Tory leader, Brian Pallister’s chime in and rejection of Maclean’s article about Winnipeg being the most racist of Canadian cities, ( WFP, A10,  January 24, 2015) Not his experience…he says! How would he know? Not exactly related, but it goes to the voracity of one of his more infamous  public comments….this is the same Brian Pallister that remarked on December 2, 2013 …”wishing all you infidel atheists” (happy holidays).  In todays article he ends by saying he will be proposing some solutions to the problem, (racism I presume, though he never mentions it) closer to the next provincial election, some 15 months from now. How convenient and enlightening! I would also presume he will have Gord Steeves head up this task force?

Whether Maclean’s was correct in their conclusion is hardly the point. That three dozen local leaders from various backgrounds, (not Pallister or Steeves) came together with Mayor Brian Bowman on Thursday, January 22, 2014,  committing to finding some solutions….is the point.

When people make reactionary negative comments about obvious events in front of their faces and use derogatory language to categorize others….they will never be part of the solution. They are only part of the problem.

Ford Bros. Tragedy

I have been waiting for the gong show in Toronto to slow down or stop before commenting about the Ford brothers, and ongoing antics…..however it appears that it will not be ending  anytime too soon. I may as well jump in.  Clearly Rob Ford was showing all the indicators of someone with profound societal and physiological issues, brought on by the chemical warfare going on in his body.  His biggest obstacle in dealing with these issues had been his denial.

The latest instalment of this saga, he and brother Doug trade places on the mayoralty ballot….Doug loses his bid for the top job in Toronto and Rob is back on council. Now with the big “C” to deal with, Rob has taken a back seat to deal with this new health concern in his life.

My wish is that he would find what is required to get well in all facets of his life. This is a sad story. You couldn’t make this up and it reads like a soap.

It is easy to be snide and throw trash at the Ford brothers, but the sad reality is,  that it is a tragedy. I doubt that either of their families are finding this all that funny.  The person of main concern here is Rob Ford. He has been and continues to be supported, (good) and enabled, (not so good)  by his brother Doug. The whole of Canada is somewhat dismayed and embarrassed by the public spectacle of what has been going on. And yet, here is the ultimate tragedy of it all……neither of these Ford brothers seem to care.

One can only hope that at some point someone with collateral in their lives will be able to say, “Stop!” At this point, there doesn’t appear to be anyone in either family willing or able to be that person.

Do individuals or groups have a right to not be offended?

This is a topic, very hot in the news today, but I rather doubt a new issue for some. The radicalization of certain Muslims has been, (in part) brought about by just that premise, of being offended. Some may disagree, for sure, but the whole notion of understanding those being offended is that it is not for the offender to decide what is offensive or not. I would suggest that they, (offenders) might do well to listen to what those feeling offended are saying and act accordingly.

In the West, we tend to be more tolerant of ridicule heaped on our heads, for our ethnic origins or religious leanings. We may not like what is being said, but for the most part we don’t  take out a hit on those perpetrating the offence. That notion of our (somewhat misguided tolerance) clearly does not give us the right to, in effect attempt to sway or change the thoughts of (in this case) those of the Muslim faith to our feeling on these topics. There is not a one size fits all, when it comes to feelings of offence regarding faith or ethnicity. The same standards of expression do not apply to all.

I agree, that those of Islam that have become radicalized and seeking jihad to those in the West have gone beyond what normal civilization would or should accept. Even the more moderate Muslims are condemning the current actions of those radicals. But they don’t feel any less offended and  in many cases they feel completely marginalized.

We owe it to them to show some empathy with those feelings and adjust our rhetoric accordingly.  It does beg for a solution for the future and though I’m not sure where or what that might entail,  a good start might be to stop doing the obvious.

Freedom of Expression (or speech) is not carte blanche without responsibility, (and unfortunately as of recent, severe consequences). I have even heard some prominent journalists remark that it’s fun to characterize others, and if it offends, tough! I don’t really get the point of that, but with the freedom we have, I hope I don’t sound too hypocritical , but I do defend that right. However, when it no longer seems like  true satire, or is totally offensive to others, where is the accountability and responsibility? What is it then?  It is becoming at minimum hate speech and at maximum racist when we continually poke our finger in the eye of the offended and refuse to let up. The point that the (in this case) satirist was trying to invoke upon the public becomes totally offensive without principle and actually becomes lost to the majority.  In my view.