Category Archives: public interests

Calling Out Fascism: Reflections on Trump and Pathways to Resistance

*Originally published on 10 February 2017, re-published due to technical issues

The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America was a shock to many. After all, it is difficult to imagine someone less qualified for the job who would also be able to achieve the feat of winning a presidential election (thanks in part to the archaic presidential election system, i.e. the electoral college). He has no experience in politics and the actions of his team over the past two weeks suggest that he also has very little clue on how the administration he is leading actually works. This could be characterised as incompetence, and in part it is, at least in terms of how to effectively implement his policies.[1] Nevertheless, one should be careful to claim that all of the chaos and failure coming out of the White House is due to incompetence. I say this because in so doing I fear one would continue perpetuating the same mistake a considerable amount of people did over the last year, that is to not take Mr. Trump seriously, both as a candidate/President, and as a threat. And a threat he is. The chaos he creates is probably more representative of his personality, megalomaniac/narcissist, and ideology, a form of nouveau fascism, than solely of his incompetence. The recent Muslim ban is a great example. I think it is important to take Trump seriously, especially if we wish to craft effective paths of resistance.

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Syrian Refugee Crisis: How to Help

Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past months, you are already aware of the devastating effects of the civil war in Syria on its population. Syrians are fleeing en masse their country, seeking refuge where they can. Bordering states are flooded with refugees, while waves of refugees attempt to reach Europe hoping for stability and security. The Syrian refugee crisis has produced many tragedies; [1] the most well-known here is probably the story of a family who tried to reach Canada but died in the process.[2] Canada’s response to the crisis has been dismal and shameful,[3] especially considering our past responses to similar crisis (the Vietnamese one for example). The new Liberal government is under a lot of pressure to change the situation. Trudeau has already promised to welcome 25 000 Syrian refugees before the end of the year,[4] which gives me hope that the government attitudes towards the crisis will improve.

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Endangering the Endangered Species Act, 2007

“[T]hroughout the world, species of animals, plants and other organisms are being lost forever at an alarming rate. The loss of these species is most often due to human activities, especially activities that damage the habitats of these species. Global action is required.”[1]

These words are part of the preamble of Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA) of Ontario. The ESA was enacted to replace an older version of the legislation protecting endangered species, which provided insufficient protection.[2] However, legislation does not necessarily result in actions. As noted by the Federal Court: “administrative laissez-faire contributes, along with uncontrolled—and irresponsible—human activity, to the destruction of natural habitats and the loss of wildlife species.”[3] Sometimes administrative laissez-faire is not even the biggest problem; sometimes the government actively tries to undermine legislative protection. It is precisely what happened in Wildlands League v Lieutenant Governor in Council.[4] In this case, the government of Ontario granted sweeping exemptions to entire industrial sectors through Ontario Regulation 176/13 (the Regulation), rendering the ESA protection meaningless for countless endangered species. The Regulation was challenged by the Wildlands League and the Federation of Ontario Naturalists. They sadly lost at the Ontario Divisional Court (the decision is being appealed). In this post I will analysed this surprising decision and its flaws. I will look specifically at the two main arguments for the invalidation of the Regulation: the pre-condition for the enactment of the Regulation, and its consistency with the ESA.

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It’s Pride Again – How Fares the T in LGBTQ?

It is the time of the year when people get their rainbow flags out and celebrate sexual diversity. This weekend will be pride in Toronto with all the glitter and the shirtless men it entails. There is a lot of debate surrounding the political aspect of pride, or lack thereof, but that’s not what I want to talk about. I don’t mind pride as it is: a giant queer festival (I have issues with it on some level but I will not explore them here). I usually just let myself get carried by the atmosphere and let the politics behind for a time. Nevertheless, I thought it was a good time to see were we, Canada, were on trans issues (legally speaking). Two years ago, I lamented the foreseeable death of Bill C-279 in a post. The bill was revived at the beginning of the current session of Parliament, but sabotaged in committee with a slew of bathroom panic arguments. Now it will likely die (again), only to be brought back if the next government, after the fall election, actually values the lives of trans people. From that point, let’s see what has happened and will happen for trans rights in Canada.

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La hausse des droits de scolarité au Québec

Premier billet en français qui ne sera (malheureusement) qu’une référence à un autre blog. Mais quelle référence mes amis! Si vous êtes québécois vous êtes très certainement au courant(à moins de vivre sous une roche) de la hausse des frais de scolarité. Le fait que je sois contre cette hausse ne surprendra personne. Au lieu de répéter ce qui fut bien dit, je vous invite à lire l’excellent billet de ma très chère amie Sonia qui reflète parfaitement ma pensée: pourquoi je suis conte la hausse. Je ne rajouterai que ceci: l’éducation est un “bien” public. C’est un fait que les travailleurs possédant des études universitaire on un salaire beaucoup plus élevé que le reste de la population. Par conséquent ces personnes paient beaucoup plus de taxe et donc finance en grande partie le système d’éducation incluant les prêts et bourses gouvernementaux. En s’endettant pour payer leurs études, les étudiants financent doublement le système (sans compter tous les autres bénéfices qu’apporte une population éduquée). Puisque l’éducation est ou devrait être considérer comme un bien collectif, il est normal que l’état s’occupe de son financement puisque de tout manière se financement proviendra éventuellement en grande partie des mêmes personnes qui ont bénéficié du système. Les étudiant sortiront de leurs études avec une meilleure situation financière et pourront donc contribuer davantage au bien collectif par leur travail, par les actions et par leurs taxes et impôts. Je terminerai ce billet en vous proposant d’arrêter de comparer le Québec au reste du Canada sur cette question car ce reste n’est pas, selon moi, un exemple à suivre au niveau des frais de scolarité. Nous devrions être l’exemple à suivre et cet exemple devrait être des frais aussi bas que possible.