Canada's colonial reality means Aboriginal people here face challenges where non-Aboriginal people enjoy opportunities. But I believe that through the hard work of many activists, leaders, and thinkers, Canada is slowly decolonizing. In the spirit of optimism that rings in a new year, I'd like to focus on some of the events that signal this gradual shift, even while recognizing that, in the words of Justice Murray Sinclair, head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, this work will not be completed in our lifetimes.
Conservative MPs had an historic, unprecedented chance to throw off their chains and empower themselves and all MPs, and political party riding associations, to represent voters. Instead, they changed the Reform Act to the "Hope for Reform Act," essentially giving up the chance to limit party leaders' powers.
The leader of that party does what he wants, when he wants, and no one dares question him. Would a Prime Minister Trudeau arbitrarily whip the vote and outlaw certain moral questions? Could Prime Minister Trudeau be trusted to make decisions for the good of the country, not just for his personal self-worth? Would Trudeau call in the police to enforce his vision? Let's hope we never have the opportunity to ask those questions.
Protecting members of our society from discrimination based on the colour of their skin, ethnicity, or ancestry is a fundamental Canadian value. Unfortunately, Canadians across the country currently face real as well as potential future discrimination based on their DNA. Genetic testing can provide diagnostic precision and more effective treatment of illness, saving lives and ultimately reducing healthcare costs. Tragically, patients all too often face a dreadful dilemma: undergo testing that could prolong and improve the quality of their lives but would make them vulnerable to discrimination, or refrain from testing and take their chances.
In the past two weeks, the government of Canada has come under fire several times over its complete lack of effort when it comes to the protection of endangered species. The gap between what Canada says -- and what it actually does -- for conservation continues to widen, and it is wildlife who pays the price.
It's no longer a matter of discretion on the part of employers to permit smoking in the workplace. Why? Because its effects are known to be toxic. Sexual harassment can be no less toxic to those affected. It's time our political leaders got that message. They need to stop allowing employers, including governments themselves, to turn a blind eye when sexual harassment and reprisals occur, and put in place tough laws that really protect women.
A committee of MPs is considering important and unprecedented changes that will either restrict the power of federal party leaders and empower MPs to represent voters, or not, and will also either make MPs much more accountable for their conduct, or not. What the committee decides will reveal a lot about the state of democracy in Canada.
The debate about how "tricky" it is for the Director-General of CRA's Charity Directorate to consider political leanings when selecting charities for audits continues to rage in Canada. The outrage has reached the dreaded "gate" stage with respected opinion leaders asking "Why is this not considered Canada's own Auditgate scandal?"
It was just 11 years ago when the World Health Organization slapped Toronto with a travel advisory, costing the city $2 billion and 28,000 jobs. This was not because of the number of SARS cases (similar in number to Singapore, which had no such advisory) but because Ottawa did not have a public health leader who could effectively coordinate with the provinces and communicate the outbreak's status to other countries.
Nine-million baby boomers will retire from the workforce over the next two decades, and when they do, they will start to consume the most expensive forms of government programs. This is great news for seniors, but terrible news for our public finances and for young Canadians forced to foot the bill. Generation Y has been dubbed the "Millennial" generation because we came of age at the turn of the new millennium. A more fitting name for this cohort is Generation Screwed.
In 2009, CRA began to publish on its website summaries of the reasons it had revoked registrations "for cause". There is nothing in the Income Tax Act which defines revocation "for cause". (In deed, it is alarming to think that charities could be revoked "without cause".) These are simply charities CRA wants to "name and shame".
Poloz is arguably Canada's most powerful economic policymaker. He has the ability to significantly change the bleak outlook facing young workers. Yet in essence, he encouraged unemployed youth to resign themselves to a grim reality, and simply find themselves something else to do. Working for free may not be ideal, he suggested, but it's better than nothing.
The potential destruction of terrorism is infinitesimally smaller than the damage done to our rights by a disproportionate attempt to prevent it. Please. Please remember this. It's even more important now, when that fact is so easily forgotten in the wake of the attack on our Parliament and the tragic deaths of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Cpl. Nathan Cirillo. We cannot allow the extreme actions of a few to strip us of the freedoms those soldiers worked so hard to protect. But the Canadian government continues to roll back our rights in the name of "security."
Candy can also have a darker side for parents who are trying to keep their kids as healthy as possible, or protect them from allergic reactions by restricting what candy their kids can have. Imagine how the kid feels when they have a food allergy and can't have candy -- seeing other kids reaping the benefits of their trick-or-treating, dumping out their huge bags of candy and sorting through what they got -- it's both sad and frustrating.
A young reserve solider was shot and killed in our capital city of Ottawa by a gunman. Most of us are still reeling from this news and trying to make sense of what has happened today. But we also need to respond to our young people and help them understand what has occurred. There is much we will need to understand and process around this horrific event, but here are some tips to help you talk with your children right here and right now.