Sunday, March 21, 2021

The Conservative Party of Canada won't recognize climate change crisis

Erin O'Toole

The Conservative Party of Canada (no longer "Progressive" Conservative) is moving in a dangerous direction - further to the right.  It has the same problem as the Republican Party in the United States States.  Its rank and file are on the wrong side of history with regard to climate change.  The climate crisis is very real and can't be ignored.  It is linked to the current COVID-19 pandemic.  The two are intertwined.  

This weekend, Conservative delegates at the party's political convention voted to give thumbs down to environmentally friendly policies,.  They rejected the line to the party's policy book that would have affirmed the Conservative Party' belief that "climate change is real" and that it is willing to act."  This is extremely unfortunate and disheartening because if the Conservatives form the government they will have to deal with Canada's response to the most serious problem facing humanity.  If they assume power, they can be expected to relax environmental standards.

Yes, Conservative leader Erin O'Toole stressed that the party can't afford to be seen as hostile toward the environment.  He pledged to put forth a comprehensive plan for combatting green house gases before the next election.  (For the record, O'Toole is opposed to the carbon tax on consumers and says he will remove it if he becomes prime minister.  He supports a carbon-price to penalize big polluters for emissions.  For taking that position, he was mocked by Peter MacKay, his main opponent for the Conservative leadership).

Nevertheless, there are two major problems with O'Toole's position on climate change,  Firstly, we don't know how comprehensive O'Toole's plan would actually be in reducing carbon emissions.  O'Toole is willing to talk the talk, unlike some Tories, but is he willing to walk the walk?   Is he more worried about how the party will  appear to environmentally concerned voters than he is about decreasing green house gasses?  If  Conservatives come to power in Ottawa, could he not turn around and say that the country is too deeply in debt after COVID  to afford strong environmental measures? Secondly, even if O'Toole were to come up with an effective plan, how successful would he be in implementing it?  After all, the grass roots of the party are opposed to even the appearance of concern about climate change.  If O'Toole tried to implement any significant legislation with regard to the environment, they would pressure him to water it down.

As long as the Conservative Party's base refuses to recognize the gravity of climate change, the party is stuck in a time warp.  It cannot move forward to face the most critical challenge of the 21st century.  

- Joanne 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

COVID masks and freedom

It's very difficult for me to fathom why some people, particularly Trump followers and Republicans in states such as Texas, feel that wearing a  mask is an infringement upon their freedom.  First of all, there  cannot be absolute freedom.  Otherwise, everyone would be able to do as he or she pleases, with impunity.  That would lead to total chaos, or as 17th century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes put it, "the war of all against all." That's why civil society has laws, to prevent such havoc.

Definitions of freedom may vary.  However, one thing is certain.  In a civil society, freedom cannot be absolute.  One cannot be free to provoke violence or hatred.  One cannot be granted the freedom to cause injury, illness or death to another person except in self-defence.  One person's freedom does not include endangering the life of another or interfering with another person's constitutional or human rights.  In the United States, citizens have the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."  In Canada, it's "peace, order and good government."

There's another reason why Trump and his ilk don't like wearing masks.  They don't think it's macho.  They equate wearing a mask with weakness and fearfulness.  To them, it's better to risk getting the COVID virus than to appear what they consider to be weak.  They remind me of hockey players years ago who didn't want to wear a helmet.  They preferred to risk death or brain injury rather than tinkering with their macho image.  How many hockey players do you see today who don't wear helmets?

Let me be clear.  I am not advocating in favour of censorship or the severe curtailment of civil liberties.  However, civil rights do not include the right to endanger the lives and wellbeing of others by spreading a dangerous virus.  It's not a matter of freedom, it's a matter of public safety and respect for others.  Unfortunately, some far-right conservatives have made it a political issue, a way to lash out at government.  They think it's a case of big bad government telling them what they can and cannot do.  That is simply not the case, and if some right-wing Republicans in the United States truly believe that government can do no good. why don't they return their COVID relief cheques and do without that $1,400?  Why don't they refuse their child tax benefit?

Frankly, I don't enjoy wearing a mask.  They are onerous and it's not easy to breathe with one over your mouth.  However, the issue is not my personal discomfort or anyone else's.  Protecting the elderly and the vulnerable from COVID-19  is infinitely more important than individual comfort and convenience.  Trumpism is a very selfish philosophy.  Unless you have s medical condition that precludes you from wearing a mask, you should do so until health authorities advise otherwise.  You do not have the freedom to infect your fellow human beings.  

- Joanne

Monday, March 8, 2021

Reflections on International Women's Day

"To call woman the weaker sex is a libel.  It is man's injustice to women.  If by strength is meant brute strength, then, indeed, is woman less brute than man.  If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man's superior.  Has she not greater intuition, is she not more self-sacrificing, has she not greater powers of endurance, has she not greater courage?  Without her, man could not be.  If nonviolence is the law of out being, the future is with women Who can make a more effective appeal to the heart than woman?

- Mohandaa K. "Mahatma" Gandhi (1869-1948), From Young India, [October 4, 1930]

Today marks International Women's Day. at a time when COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the female population.  Although International Women's Day has its roots in socialism, it has become a general celebration of women and womanhood.  

The earliest Womnen's Day observance took place in New York City on February 28, 1909.  It was called "National Women's Day" and it was organized by the Socialist Party of America at the suggestion of Theresa Malkiel 1874-1949), a Ukrainian-born American  labour activist, suffragist and educator.

Theresa Makiel

March 8th became a national holiday in Soviet Russia when women gained suffrage in 1917.  It was on March 8 (February 23 old style calendar) of that year that a women's demonstration in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) sparked the Russian Revolution and led to the overthrow of the czar.  The women went on strike that day demanding an end to World War I, food shortages and czarist rule.

Demonstration for bread and peace - Petrograd 1917

The celebration of March 8 was adopted by the feminist movement in 1967.  The United Nations began celebrating International Women's Day in 1977.

"Strident women move mountains.  Strident, like most words that mean abrasive, is rarely applied to men.  The strident woman has an opinion.  It does not matter what the strident woman's voice actually sounds like - it might be fast, deliberate, high-pitched, bellowing, or marked by vocal fry - the problem with a strident woman's voice is that she uses it.

Strident is one of many insults deployed against a woman who seems to have forgotten her role."

- Erin Matson

From Erintothemax, "In Celebration Of The Strident Woman," May 24, 2017

It is sickening to hear women's voices derided or described as "strident."  In the United States, Hillary Clinton has had to endure such criticism about her voice and personality for years, and throughout her political career.  Male leaders never have to deal with that.  The latest example of such male chauvinism comes from the leader of my own home province of Ontario, Canada..

Sexist Comment by Ontario Premier Doug Ford.  

Doug Ford

Andrea Horvath

On February 17, 2021, Premier Ford compared listening to provincial  NDP leader and Ontario Opposition Leader Andrea Horvath to "nails on a chalkboard."

There are over 190 independent sovereign nations in the world.  The wealthiest and most powerful of these countries, with the exception of Germany, are led by men.  Ask the average North American to name countries headed by women and most will only be able to name Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany. Some will be able to identify New Zealand's prime minister, Jacinda Ardern.  Both women have received plaudits for their achievements.  Markel has provided steady leadership to Germany for over 15 years, since 2005.  She was chosen Time magazine's "Person of the Year" in 2015 for her handling of the refugee crisis in Europe that year.  Ardern has been given high marks for her reaction to the 2019 mass shootings at a two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.  Her practical approach to the COVID-19 crisis has also been successful in allowing the country to reopen safely.

The small island nation of Iceland has a history of women leaders.  Its current prime minister is Katrin Jakobsdóttir.  She assumed office in 2017.gongel 


For the first time in its history, the United States has a female vice president in Kamala Harris.  Here in Canada, all ten of our provincial premiers are men.  There has only been one female prime minister of Canada - Kim Campbell.  She only held the office from June to November of 1993 and her government was soundly defeated in the election of October 25, 1993.  Canadians are currently represented by 100 women in the 338-seat House of Commons.  

- Joanne

Friday, March 5, 2021

Quebec City Snow Sculptures by Denis Gravel

Last March, I posted some photos of some sculptures by talented Quebec City snow sculptor Denis Gravel.  Here are some more photos of his sculptures.  They were taken a few weeks ago.  He is a very talented artist and I hope you enjoy his work.  Merci Denis

- Joanne

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Why the U.S. Republican Party is on the wrong side of history


What has happened to the Republican Party of the United States is sad and tragic.  The party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower no longer exists in its current form.  In fact, the Republican Party has strayed so far to the right and away from the rule of law that it isn't even the party of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush anymore.  Unfortunately, the party is now controlled by Donald Trump and his cult followers.  It has been hijacked.  It no longer stands for any true ideals.  It has abandoned any real principles and has become whatever Trump wants it to be.  Like a mob boss, he rules the rules the roost and demands absolute loyalty.


T. Roosevelt

First, a little history about the Republican Party.  According to Christopher Klein, a frequent contributor to, it was formed in 1854 by former Whig Party members to prevent the expansion of slavery into western territories.  It acquired  the "nickname GOP" (Grand Old Party).around  1870, when newspapers began referring to the Republican Party as both "the grand old party" and the "gallant old party" in recognition of its contribution in preserving the Union during the Civil War.  In 1874, the Republican Party of Minnesota endorsed a platform that it said "guarantees that the grand old party that saved the country is still true to the principles that gave it birth."  

Alas, if Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt could see what has become of their party, they would weep bitterly.  It is anything but true to the principle that gave it birth.  Lincoln and Roosevelt could never have envisioned that their party would be controlled by a twice-impeached 74 year-old white supremacist, misogynist and pathological liar.  They could never have imagined that an American president would encourage an insurrection to prevent the certification of a presidential election. On January 6, 2021, Trump and his band of far right domestic terrorists, white supremacists and neo-Nazis almost succeeded in overturning the legitimate outcome of the 2020 presidential election.  

Donald Trump will never acknowledge that he lost the 2020 election to Joe Biden.  As his estranged niece, Mary Trump, has pointed out, losing means death to him.  He continues to peddle his conspiracy theories and lies, and millions of American believe him.   He acts as if he is a viable candidate for president in 2024, although it is doubtful that he will ever run again.  Still, many of  the former president's followers will be duped into donating their hard-earned money to him.

Let's be clear.  Donald Trump should not be permitted to run for office in the United States ever again.  He will spend years in court, facing multiple criminal and civil charges.  Sooner of later, he will be held accountable for his actions.  He is not above the law and he no longer has the protection of the American presidency.  He is Citizen Donald J. Trump and he must be held accountable for his actions.  Otherwise other authoritarian leaders will attempt to get away with destroying American democracy.  Trump is not invincible.  Keep in mind that mobster Al Capon was finally convicted of tax evasion and that Napoleon was defeated in the Battle of Waterloo.

Donald Trump and his sycophants, such as Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham and the woeful Josh Hawley, should take note of what has just happened to the former president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy.  Sarkozy, who served as president from May 2007 to May 2012, has just been convicted of corruption.  He was sentenced to a year in prison.


The Trump Party is out of touch with modern America.  History and demographics are not on its side.  The population of the United States is becoming increasingly urban and more diversified.  The environment matters.  Coal, oil and other fossil fuels are dying industries.  They will be replaced by renewable energy, green jobs and electric cars.  The lily white world of Leave it to Beaver is long gone and the South will never rise again.

This is not to say that the concerns of rural, white voters don't matter and should not be addressed.  It simply means that the world has changed and that a conservative movement, if it is to succeed,  has to become more inclusive, more concerned about the environment and more appealing to racial minorities, immigrants and younger voters.  

As it is presently constituted, the "Republican" Party cannot win the popular vote in a presidential election.  It can only depend on an archaic electoral college system to elect a "Republican" president.   It has to attract voters, not prevent them from voting.  The Trump Party has been reduced to voter suppression and gerrymandering in order to win elections.  It is determined to  prevent Blacks and Latinos from exercising their franchise. 

The party of Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt has been lost.  It hasn't been "grand" for a while.  It is just old and out-of-step.  That is why moderate conservatives who believe in democracy and the rule of law should start a new party.  It should be a party that is more open and more internationalist.  It should be willing to work side by side with America's traditional allies and support the United Nations and its agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO).  Remember that Wendell Wilkie, a corporate executive and Republican candidate for president in 1940, published a manifesto in 1943.called One World, which advocates an end to colonialism and supports World Federalism and equality for non-whites in the United States. 


The American conservative movement needs to be refreshed and rebuilt.  Like the Whig Party, the "Republican Party" of Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell should be confined to the dust bin of history.  Otherwise, Trumpism and domestic terrorism will continue to threaten democracy in the United States., "Why Is the Republican Party Known as the GOP?" by Christopher Klein

-  Joanne

Attention Canada!! Don't throw this out. It's not junk mail.

Hey Canada, if you've received this in the mail, don't throw it out.  I almost discarded it myself until I looked at it more carefully.  It's definitely not junk mail.  Although Canada Post is sending it out as a flyer, it's actually a postage paid post card.  Please take the time to send a note to someone who is alone or isolated during this pandemic.  Just write a message and place it in a mail box. It won't cost you anything and it's a win-win situation.  You will cheer someone up and you will feel better.  In these terrible times, some good old fashioned mail can work wonders.  

- Joanne