Tag Archives: Politics

On Ghomeshi

Years ago, in the house of a queer friend from Atlantic Canada, I joked about Jian Ghomeshi and how he rudely and aggressively hit on her once. She laughed, I laughed, we laughed. She was queer – I thought he was queer. It was comedic gold. I didn’t think anything about it, and I sort of thought it was one of those “flaws” that celebrities have. I didn’t think twice about it.

I lived in Toronto. Used to joke with female friends about going and seeing George Strombolopolous’ show, because he was kind of funny. And I was from Vancouver, so seeing something at the CBC would be cool. I think I even invited my partner there once. Occasionally, I’d hear comments about Jian and his creepiness, and my brain would connect this back to my friend, and her story. But I didn’t think twice about it.

I’ll admit I used to really enjoy Jian’s “well, hello there” that he started the show with. I’m a white man; I have lots of privilege – I didn’t think about how that was pretty much an embodiment of his creepiness. His “Happy Tuesday.” I didn’t think twice about it.

Now I read that he would beat women, and then the next day text them – “Happy Thursday.” The idea of his voice makes me sick to my stomach.

I only wish I had thought twice about these interconnected rumours, these stories I’d heard from Newfoundland and from Toronto and Vancouver. But I didn’t, because privilege blinds.

Thank you to the women who have stepped forward and shared their stories. And I think twice about the courage and strength that it takes to do that. And that Ghomeshi is but one case of hundreds of thousands and millions that happen and continue to happen.

We all need to think twice. Especially those of us blinded by privilege.

PoliticsRespun.org Election Night Liveblog, maybe

Tonight’s the night many of us have been waiting for – whether it be because we trudged to a poll today, stood in line with credit card bills, drivers licenses, and other sundry pieces of identification, were handed a ballot, and promptly marked a little “x” next to the least offensive candidate, and now the results come in, or because we may be able to go to sleep early and wake up tomorrow and see if anything has changed.

Either way – or more – PoliticsRespun.org is bringing you an election night liveblog.  We have contributors spread across the country – from the Atlantic Provinces, to BC transplants in Toronto, to real, live BC folks all ready to contribute their thoughts to the evening.  Alex and I are just back from Montréal, where we witnessed the “orange crush” first hand, with a preponderance of NDP signs, people voting NDP who have never thought of it before, and even poor Gilles Duceppe apparently in a touch of a fight for his own riding.

Our liveblog may be sporadic at times, with updates rolling in occasionally, and as we figure out what to do about the ban of publishing results before the polls close in BC.  Two of us may wander over to the NDP victory party at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, if we can find it.  Regardless, stick with PoliticsRespun.org for potentially irreverent coverage of what may be democracy, perhaps inaction.

 

La lutte continue: Vancouver pulls pay-for-democracy bylaw, but a new one’s coming. (cue ominous music?)

(For context, see the earlier article that discusses Vision Vancouver’s proposed plan to charge $1,200 for protests that involve ‘structures’ – such as tables or signs)

Earlier today, the Vancouver Mayor’s office posted an announcement on twitter that quite a few people were likely happy to hear: the proposed bylaw that would have charged people in Vancouver $200 plus a $1000 deposit to have a protest where a literature table or even a sign stuck in the ground was being sent back “to the drawing board.”

In the linked news article, Mayor Gregor Robertson posits that there ought not be fees attached to the right to have a protest with a sign, and that a better ‘balance’ can be found.

Sounds good, so far, right?

Well, a whole new bylaw is supposed to come back from the city by Wednesday.  And it will be telling how much will change – that will tell us what’s more important to Vision Vancouver.

If you go back to my original piece on this issue, you’ll see that there were a ton of restrictions that the city wanted to place on protests with structures.  They could only be up from 8am to 8pm. Only in certain parts of the city. (That particular restriction would have effectively completely banned the original protest that gave rise to all of this, the Falun Gong protest on southern Granville Street outside the Chinese consulate).  The restrictions went on and on and on.

Effectively, it looked like getting the right to protest would have been almost as complicated as a building permit.  All to have a tent. Or a sign stuck in the ground.

Well, Gregor’s promised a new bylaw.  With a new balance, a new approach.

Will it still have onerous restrictions, but drop the fees? Will it still ban night-time vigils? Restrict tents to keep off the rain to 2m by 1m in size? Only one side of a block, to a maximum of 30 out of 60 days?  It’s quite possible.

I have a perhaps modest proposal – the bylaw could be quite simple.  Protests are permitted, as is our constitutional right.  And if a protest does construct a structure that is somehow or in some way dangerous to public safety, the city can attend the site, and tell the protest organizers what needs to be done to fix the risk.

At a lot of protests, there are rally marshals.  They organize the route.  Keep people from getting lost.  There’s often a police liaison who speaks with the police.  Treat protest in Vancouver this way.  Fix the problems as they arise, not create so many hoops that people outraged at the most recent stupid thing their government has done risk financial ruin or jail time because they didn’t fill out the 24th form or submit an architectural drawing of the folding table they’re putting the sound-system on.

But what’s more important in this respect: keeping the Falun Gong practitioners out of Kerrisdale, appeasing the Chinese consulate, Vision Vancouver saving face, or free speech?

As I said before, democracy doesn’t have a price tag.  But it also doesn’t happen only between 8am to 8pm, one side of a block, and only 30 out of 60 days.