The past week has been a horrific one for Canada. As targets of two separate fatal terrorist attacks, two Canadian soldiers -- Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo -- are unfortunately no longer with their family, friends and nation as a whole. Canadians, and anyone who is a friend of Canada, can show their support by making a donation to the Stand On Guard Fund.
Twitter exploded with comments by people wondering how Michael Zehaf-Bibeau could get a gun in Canada. The myth is that private citizens can't own guns. While the country doesn't have something along the lines of a Second Amendment to the Constitution, citizens can own guns. That's because the Canadian system is more about licensing and registration than restriction. And even that's been watered down in the last few years.
As the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre approaches, it is interesting to reflect upon the evolution of gun control and the government's approach to questions of gun violence and misuse. However, ensuring a safer environment for women -- and for society in general -- requires more than official recognition of sexism or any other so-called justification as an invalid reason for violence.
This past week, the Supreme Court of Canada has been hearing an appeal by the BC Civil Liberties Association that could grant terminally ill Canadians the right to assisted suicide. The Court faces a daunting task. Palliative care cannot eliminate every facet of end-of life suffering. Preserving dignity for patients at the end of life requires a steadfast commitment to non-abandonment, meticulous management of suffering and a tone of care marked by kindness. In response to this dignity conserving approach, the former head of the Hemlock Society conceded that "if most individuals with a terminal illness were treated this way, the incentive to end their lives would be greatly reduced."
Recently, Canada's military has come under deliberate, sustained attack. In fact, our Forces may already have been vanquished. Not by an enemy, but by the nation it defends. Faith in Canada's support is the one thing our Forces absolutely, positively must have to be effective. But that was taken away last year, bringing the days of selflessly charging into danger to a crashing halt.
Like so many others across our country, I was - am - so upset about these tragic events. I am upset that a reservist guarding our nation's war memorial was murdered so callously. I am upset that the building where the legislation that shapes our country has been discussed and debated and passed into law was violated in such a visceral way. I am upset that schools in the area had to put their lockdown skills to good use.
So lying at work is not necessarily as cut-and-dried as people think. While there is a lot of "creativity" around the truth, the irony is that in today's wired society, the consequences of being caught in a lie have never been more severe. The "little white lie" on the résumé has derailed many high-profile careers as professionals and amateurs work to "out" such untruths.
Confronted with the senselessness of this tragedy, and given how many details have yet to emerge, understanding the implications of this horrific act is difficult. But it seems clear that this is more than merely an issue of national security -- it is an issue of national identity. Rarely have Canadians so acutely felt a sense of collective loss. The easy thing to do is to respond to this tragedy with anger, rashness, and xenophobia. Already, some pundits have found a way to politicize these events -- to call for a barricading of public spaces, a reform of the gun registry, and a military presence on the Hill. All of these things may indeed be sorely needed. But they are beside the point.
Millions around the world rejoiced when Malala Yousafzai won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. Today, Canada will embrace Malala by granting her an honourary citizenship to recognize and celebrate her efforts to educate the girls in Pakistan. Today, we must also expose and confront the distorted narratives of those in Pakistan who systematically misconstrue facts and figures to discredit her.
Disaster management is the preparation for, mitigation of, response to, and recovery from adverse events that transcend 'regular' emergencies while political philosophy asks the 'big' questions about power in society -- who gets what, and why? And when a fatal disease without a known cure moves rapidly from human to human it's not just about food supplies and First Aid Kits -- the question of who gets what, and why, becomes central.
My point is simply this: Many want change in Toronto politics, but unless we start changing the way that media covers local council races, the same style of candidates will continue to be elected, we can no longer be allergic to the potential of something better, unlikely or fear something different in such a diverse city.
In September, I was granted my request for an emergency debate in the House of Commons to address the Ebola crisis. Unfortunately the Canadian government's response to date has been scattered and slow. Only a fraction of the protective equipment donation announced a month ago has actually made it to Africa, while health workers there are at risk because they have run out of face masks and gloves. What was heralded as a promising Ebola vaccine developed in Canada has taken too long to get to clinical trials and it will be months before it is available in affected communities.
Beyond Quebec, despite the endorsement of the public health and policy community, a Health in All Policies approach has not found the political will necessary for meaningful change. But the past year offers signs of hope, with governments in Canada from across the political spectrum beginning to see the potential.
The need for a harmonized communication system is paramount or infection will spread. A lack of smooth channels between departments within the hospital led to a combination of confusion and misguidance. Thanks to the whistleblowers, other secondary factors such as lack of proper equipment and disposal of medical waste appeared to be mishandled. Then there was the overall morale of those working inside, which seemed to be poor at best. While this could be expected, there was little questioning of the hospital when it apologized for its handling of the situation.
Statistically, when it comes to more Ebola cases arriving in North America, the question is not if, but when. While I still believe there is no cause for a general panic over Ebola, I feel that the approach being taken at present by our public health authorities is overconfident, dogmatic, and inflexible, with an unwillingness to consider that current containment measures may not be adequate. As a front line health care worker, I feel that my own safety is already at risk.
In this continuing dialogue about whether the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation will help or hurt the work force, I've always been of the opinion that technical advancement is good, and creates new opportunities, even if it kills off existing ones. This robotic work force strikes fear in many. But what if these advances in technology serve to improve human leadership rather than replace it? It's already happening.
Outside the neighbourhood, there is one country leading the response. It is not Canada, despite statements from our ministers that the Canadian refugee response constitutes "more than any of our allies have done." This is deliberately misleading and a slight to what our allies are actually doing. Greater leadership can be found in a country with a quarter of Canada's population.
While it's always good practice to stop and celebrate our achievements and accomplishments, we still have a long way to go to truly empower girls. The non-profit organization, Girls' Inc. coined the term "supergirl dilemma" in a 2006 report to describe the pressure on girls to be everything to everyone, all the time.