Joshua Ostroff
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Entries by Joshua Ostroff

Let's Celebrate Immigrants This Canada Day

(32) Comments | Posted June 30, 2016 | 5:51 PM

From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

While on Kenya's south coast last week, I got a preview of the eventual Brexit vote when a couple blonde British ladies began ranting about immigrants. They took offence when I pointed out their views were kinda...

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Baby Storm Now: Dad David Stocker On The Uproar And Storm's Gender Identity

(0) Comments | Posted June 30, 2016 | 12:05 PM

Baby Storm, a then-four-month-old Toronto tot who was being raised "genderless," became one of the biggest viral news stories worldwide back in 2011.

A "Toronto Star" article headlined "Parents keep child's gender secret" explained Storm's parents, David Stocker and Kathy Witterick, sent a birth announcement email that read:...

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How Canadian Technology Is Tackling The Food Waste Crisis

(33) Comments | Posted June 28, 2016 | 10:00 AM

The issue of food waste has grown from your parents telling you to finish what's on your plate into one of the defining challenges of our era. Despite rising food insecurity, $31 billion of it is wasted every year in Canada, a number soaring to $1 trillion worldwide...

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Matthew House Is Where Refugees Who Have Nowhere Else To Go Find A Home

(28) Comments | Posted June 20, 2016 | 4:26 PM

Dr. Paulin Rukiko Polepole greets me warmly in the lobby of his downtown Toronto apartment. He's wearing a natty, navy suit jacket paired with a bright blue button-up, shiny, black leather shoes, a metal watch and stylish socks.

He works at SickKids Hospital, counselling pregnant women and new mothers....

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Ken Dunn, Mountie-Turned-CEO, Giving Away A Million Books To Promote Literacy

(3) Comments | Posted June 7, 2016 | 3:36 PM

Once upon a time, Toronto's Ken Dunn was a police officer, working in everything from SWAT to homicide for the RCMP and Ottawa police.

In his 14 years in that career, he noticed a correlation between low literacy rates and criminals.

Fast forward to today and the cop...

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Paul Martin Rejects Jean Chrétien's Suggestion That People Should Leave Attawapiskat

(12) Comments | Posted June 1, 2016 | 2:37 PM

In the wake of a wave of suicide attempts in Attawapiskat in April, former prime minister Jean Chretien, as well as various columnists and countless commenters, have suggested the solution is for "some people" to leave their land.

"It's not easy, it's difficult, there is no economic base there for...

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Superhero Diversity Takes Flight As Comic Books Fight For Gender, Race And LGBT Balance

(43) Comments | Posted May 26, 2016 | 2:49 PM

Clark Kent. Bruce Wayne. Peter Parker. Steve Rogers. Tony Stark.

T'Challa.

That final name, the one not like the others, belongs to Black Panther, a scene-stealing new addition to Marvel's movies, star of this year's biggest-selling comic book and, of course, the first mainstream black superhero.

He's...

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Know What's Deeply Traumatic, Elbowgaters? Needing Assisted Dying

(319) Comments | Posted May 19, 2016 | 2:27 PM

Can we discuss the privilege involved in calling an accidental elbow "deeply traumatic" during a debate on an assisted-dying bill? ‪

I think it's clear that everyone was in the wrong in this #Elbowgate fiasco. I'm not going to defend the Prime Minister for giving into his frustration and wading...

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Wab Kinew On Canadian Racism, Relocating Attawapiskat, And The 'Criminal' State Of Aboriginal Education

(127) Comments | Posted May 17, 2016 | 3:16 PM

"You can't deny the facts," says Wab Kinew, newly elected Manitoba NDP MLA, when asked about author Joseph Boyden calling Canada "absolutely a racist country" last fall.

"I carry a piece of identification in my wallet based on my ethnicity. Kids that grew up in a situation like...

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Tanya Tagaq Proves Residential Schools Aren't In Our Deep Past By Posting Her Apology Letter

(12) Comments | Posted May 12, 2016 | 5:08 PM

Inuk throat-singer Tanya Tagaq, an award-winning artist known for taking bold stances on indigenous issues like the seal hunt, posted a stark reminder during the week that Canada finally embraced the 2007 UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples, of how recent Canada's painful history actually...

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Text And Drive Billboard By Toronto 'Funeral Home' Is A Perfectly Powerful PSA

(4) Comments | Posted May 12, 2016 | 11:01 AM

Anyone with kids knows that reverse-psychology is a powerful persuasion tool. So what a perfect approach for this provocative billboard PSA aiming to convince Toronto drivers, especially teens, to stay off their smartphones with the slogan "Text and Drive," sponsored by the fake Wathan Funeral Home.

According to an American texting and driving safety site, 13 per cent of "drivers age 18-20 involved in car wrecks admitted to texting or talking on their mobile devices at the time of the crash." It also reports 34 per cent of teens say they have texted while driving and, even worse, 77 percent are very or somewhat confident they can safely text while driving.

Shocked drivers who saw the billboard on Toronto's Gardiner Expressway and googled the alleged advertiser -- hopefully after they got out of their cars -- reached a fake funeral home website that revealed the thinking behind the ad campaign.

"If you're here, you've probably seen our "Text and Drive" billboard. And if you have, you probably came to this website to tell us what horrible people we are for running an ad like that. And you'd be right.

It is a horrible thing for a funeral home to do.

But we're not a funeral home.

We're just trying to get Canadians to stop texting and driving, which is projected to kill more people in Ontario this year than drinking and driving. That's right. More. And while most people wouldn't even think about drinking and driving, over half of Ontario drivers admit to reading texts while behind the wheel. That's more than half of the drivers on the road today risking their lives, their passengers' lives and the lives of their fellow motorists and pedestrians.

Which should make you even madder than our billboard did."

Article continues after slideshow

Clicks on the site's links for flowers, caskets and monuments revealed more statistics such as the fact that distracted drivers contributed to the deaths of 78 people in Ontario last year, killed 77 per cent more people than speeding in 2013 and that texting drivers are 23 times more likely to crash.

Though not stated on the website, Adweek reports that the campaign is the brainchild of Montreal ad agency John St. and Toronto outdoor ad company Cieslok Media.

"People see and hear the words 'Don't text and drive' almost every day, but the number of people doing it keeps going up and up," John St. managing director Mylene Savoie told Adweek.

"So we wanted to think of a different way of saying it that would make people think about the real consequences. Which is where 'Text and drive' came...

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Germany Generated So Much Renewable Energy People Made Money Using Electricity

(32) Comments | Posted May 11, 2016 | 1:56 PM

Everyone loves complaining about electricity costs, right? Maybe not in Germany, where the country recently produced so much renewable energy that customers had to be paid to use electricity.

Yes, really.

For a few hours on a sunny, windy Sunday, May 8, Germany broke renewable energy records.

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It's Time To Rip The Band-Aid Off Canada's Daycare Crisis

(36) Comments | Posted April 26, 2016 | 5:44 PM

A petition to get Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to extend maternity/parental leave for Canadians to 18 months is currently making the social media rounds, earning praise from parents and complaints from the childless along with 40,000 signatures.

It addresses a specific offshoot of Canada's national daycare crisis, which...

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Prince Songs That Meant Everything

(0) Comments | Posted April 21, 2016 | 6:49 PM

Prince has left us for the after world, a place he described in "Let's Go Crazy" as a world of never ending happiness where U can always see the sun, day or night. But there's something else he left us, his music, which will be around forever, and...

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Attawapiskat's Suicides Need More Than Superficial Solutions

(65) Comments | Posted April 19, 2016 | 5:17 PM

"The current system, as it is now, it's not working. It's unable to meet the needs of our families and communities. We have 10-year-old kids taking their lives. Something is terribly wrong."

Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation in northern Ontario, a confederation including the Attawapiskat...

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Anti-Pop Superstar: How Rihanna Became A Legacy Act At 28

(43) Comments | Posted April 14, 2016 | 7:33 PM

Rihanna was once the world's preeminent pop star. And yes, I use past tense.

Despite having her hit "Work" firmly ensconced at number one for the past two months, a stat that ties her with the Beatles as second only to Mariah Carey for most weeks atop...

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This Tiny School Paved The Way For Canada's All-Gender Bathrooms

(67) Comments | Posted April 13, 2016 | 2:27 PM

"Some people fit into girl and boy, and some people don't. And that's OK, because they're still people." — Odessa Hewitt-Bernhard, 13

City View Alternative is comprised of four classes of Grade 7s and 8s. Just 64 students occupying half a hallway on the third floor of another, barely bigger...

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Bruce Springsteen Cancels North Carolina Concert Over Anti-LGBT 'Bathroom Law' HB2

(21) Comments | Posted April 8, 2016 | 4:35 PM

Bruce Springsteen is the latest public figure to strike back at North Carolina's new anti-LGBT "bathroom law" HB2.

Recently, former basketball player Charles Barkley has called for the 2017 NBA All-Star game to be moved from Charlotte while PayPal has decided against an expansion there. Google...

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Police Deny Racism And Demand Data (That They Won't Collect)

(40) Comments | Posted April 7, 2016 | 5:30 PM

Want to know what's more offensive than a months-old tweet by a Black Lives Matter Toronto co-founder?

How about something even more outrageous than attempts to use that tweet, however ill-advised it was, to discredit an entire social justice movement fighting anti-black racism and police violence?

Here...

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Dating Sim: 'LongStory' Uses Romance To Tackle Gender Issues. It's Super Effective!

(2) Comments | Posted March 14, 2016 | 5:04 PM

The rights of LGBTQ students are still being fought for across the country, whether it's push back against Gay-Straight Alliance clubs in Ontario and Saskatchewan or a Catholic Bishop in Calgary calling a transgender student rights bill "totalitarian."

But these...

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