For those who are unaware, the Toronto Pride Parade was on 3 July this year. Usually the parade is pretty uneventful for the erudite. It can be a fun and colourful event (and has some significance when it’s your first), but it’s pretty repetitive (especially the one in Toronto). Same floats, same corporations pretending to care, same organisations, etc. This year, however, something pretty significant happened during pride. No, I’m not talking about Prime Minister Trudeau’s participation in the parade (I couldn’t care less about that in all honesty). Nor I am talking about the 34 years too late apology by the police for the Toronto bathhouse raids in the 80s (what about reparation?). I’m talking about the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest during the parade. The group, composed largely of black queer people – supported by other people of colour and indigenous people (POCIP) – stopped the parade for 25 min to make demands to Pride Toronto. The demands were mostly more inclusion of POCIP in pride. One, however, shocked a great many people: the removal of the police as participants in pride events. The executive director of pride accepted the demands, only to backtrack in part the next day. We will see how things progress, but I doubt BLM will simply give up (thankfully).
Carter and the right to end one’s life
Last week the British Columbia Court of Appeal decided to allow the Attorney General’s appeal to the constitutional challenge of the assisted suicide prohibition: the Carter case. This case featured two persons named Gloria Taylor and Lee Carter. Both suffered from intractable and progressive diseases, and wished to have the option of physician assisted suicide when their life would become intolerable (they both passed away before the appeal was rendered). However, s 241(b) of the Criminal Code makes aiding or abetting a person to commit suicide a crime. Ms. Carter and Taylor challenged the constitutionality of the section alleging a violation of their right to life, liberty and security of the person, and of their right to equality. One of the major hurdles they faced was that a similar issue involving the same section of the Code was challenged on similar grounds and had been decided by the Supreme Court of Canada in the past. In Rodriguez, the plaintiff lost her appeal to the Supreme Court by a close 5 to 4 vote. Nevertheless, the trial judge, Justice Smith, found that she was not bound by the Supreme Court ruling because this case raised three new grounds: (1) the right to life was not at stake in Rodriguez; (2) two principle of fundamental justice did not exist at the time of Rodriguez, overbroadness and gross disproportionality; (3) the majority did not consider s 15 (equality) in its entirety in addition to the fact that recent Supreme Court decisions changed the applicable test. She found in the plaintiffs’ favour and declared the section unconstitutional with a grace period of one year for the government.
A few days ago, I read a comment on twitter referring to the Zimmerman case in the US (involving the alleged murder of Trayvon Martin, a black teenager, by a Latino man who followed him during is “neighbourhood patrol” because he looked “suspicious”) affirming that the legal problem with this case was how the statute was written and not racism per se stating that law is neutral and cannot be racist (the tweet was posted before Zimmerman’s acquittal; I wonder if the person feels different now). I don’t know how the Florida Criminal Code is written and I don’t actually need to know how it is written to affirm that the law is not neutral nor is the justice system. And as Zimmerman’s acquittal shows, “Justice” is not blind.
This weekend was Pride in Toronto (and coincidently it is Canada day this Monday). Millions of people from across the country and the word converged on the metropolis to celebrate LGBTQ Pride, a mostly commercial but also a bit political event. I always approach Pride as a festival more than anything else. I can be an advocate nearly all other days; this one is for celebration and fun time. Nevertheless, this year felt very different as I did not feel like celebrating much. While many were celebrating the death of DOMA and Prop 8, a much more Canadian issue was mainly absent from Pride (outside of the trans circles/specific events of course): the inclusion of gender identity as a protected ground in the Canadian Human Rights Act.
I rarely use social media to talk about myself. I talk about my ideas and my work, but not about me as an individual and certainly not about my feelings. But a lot has happened to me since I left the Federal Court and went back momentarily to the school bench. The events of the past months have forced me to reflect on some aspects of my life and of myself; some of which are worth sharing.
Before exposing my reflections I think it is useful to summarize the events that led me to them. In August 2011 I started working for the Federal Court. Shortly after, I moved in with my partner. I entered this new phase of my life (working full time and living with one’s partner) already exhausted from 5 years (for three different degrees) of law school and part time work to pay for my education. I’m not trying to attract anyone’s pity; after all I come from a progressive upper middle class white family. But such experiences are subjective and I felt exhausted. The smart thing to do would have been to take some time off to write and read until I could apply to a PhD program (I didn’t have time to apply during my tenure at the court) since there was no need for me to go back to school or work at a job I hated. But no, I had to enroll into another master program and manage a plethora of activities at the same time instead. The program ended up much less interesting than expected (partly because I am intellectually insecure and thus cannot admit that I could be intelligent without the schooling to prove it) and, instead of being enjoyable, fueled my stress and exhaustion further. It negatively affected my whole life. I reached the breaking point a few weeks ago and dropped everything. And now I feel great! But why did I go through all of this in the first place?