To Be Or Not To Be

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On Thursday, May 10, 2018 I was watching a panel debate on CBC’s ‘ Power and Politics’ relating to the March for Life rally held that day on Parliament Hill, Ottawa. I noticed in the debate that CBC commentators always referred to the rally as anti choice rather than by its official Right to Life name. I also went on Twitter where, as expected, the Trolls were out in great numbers showering abuse and righteous indignation on the Right to Life marchers. Well, not only Trolls, but supposedly civilized commentators also used this news worthy event to denigrate pro lifers and to restate that a woman’s right to choose was the only option. There was a lot of name calling but no rational discussion on the anti abortion versus a woman’s right to choose issue. I’ve always had strong feelings on this issue and so ( gulp! ) here they are.

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If I’m so quickly done for

What on earth was I begun for

It seems to me that the common sense way to eliminate abortions is for women to take more control of their bodies in regard to contraception. Speaking from a mans point of view, I have never really understood the term unplanned pregnancy. Surely it must be top of mind for a woman when having sex to be aware of the consequences of either party not using contraceptives. I put the onus on women because the whole pro choice argument is the women’s right to control her body. If that is the case then all efforts should be made by women to prevent the sperm from fertilizing the egg. The fusion of the sperm and egg produces a new cell type, the zygote. Within 30 minutes the zygote changes its state to block other sperm from binding to the cell surface. The cells then continue to divide while they travel and attach themselves to the uterus. If all goes well than this new human life only needs food and a suitable environment to flourish. So the abortion issue comes in when women do not allow their bodies to be used to sustain this new life. Perhaps unborn babies need their #MeToo moment to remind the universe that they are also innocent victims. Abortion rates, in Canada,  from 2007-2015 averaged approximately 100,000 babies a year. With 95% being aborted in the first 12 weeks. The following is taken from an article that appeared in the Ottawa Citizen March 23,2012 talking about the feelings of a woman who had just experienced an abortion at a clinic:

Anna speaks about her consent to abortion in this way, “In that time of my pregnancy I had a lot of nausea and was on a real hormonal roller coaster. The difference between my decision process in my ‘normal’ state and that ‘state’ are two worlds. I think that when a woman is pregnant, from my experience, she is much more vulnerable, and thus can be ‘pushed around’ more easily. This should be taken into account when a clinic is looking to have consent from a pregnant woman.”

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Abortion in Canada was decriminalized on January 28, 1988, following the trial of Dr. Henry Morgentaler, when the Supreme Court of Canada declared the old abortion section of the Criminal Code unconstitutional. The previous law held that an abortion was acceptable only when pregnancy endangered the woman’s life. Dr. Morgentaler’s challenge was that, under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the criminal code restricted a woman’s freedom. There is no federal abortion law in Canada, so it remains a right protected under the Charter, but is unregulated. Fewer than 20% of hospitals in Canada now perform abortions.  Now, most abortions are performed by for profit clinics.

Of course the main justification for abortions is that the foetus is not yet a baby and is just a bunch of undeveloped cells. That the foetus is unfeeling and so cannot experience the pain of being sucked from the mother’s womb. I think the science would prove that once the embryo implants itself to the womb than life starts to develop and thus begins. When actual personhood begins is argued between the detection of a fetal heartbeat or brain development. There are exceptions when women have the right to terminate i.e. when the mothers life is at risk, rape etc. but generally women should not have abortions because its convenient which I suspect is about 95% of the time. So now you have my views on this emotionally charged and contentious topic.

A Family Story

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I was 21, when I emigrated June 14, 1969 to Canada from London, England, following my brother who had emigrated in 1967. I recently discovered an old newspaper article concerning my family written in the Daily Express, August 1,1969. The substance of this article follows:

” An East London tenant who has received a ‘pay up or you will be evicted’ notice has to sleep in the living room of his home in the Winter. For the bedroom of Mr. Len White’s    (my father) home in Southwater Close, Limehouse is saturated with damp which makes the family’s clothes mildew and their sheets wet. And every Winter Mr.White and his attractive wife Catherine make up a bed on their settee (sofa) each night. The walls of the room have been damp for four years. Yet despite repeated complaints the situation is as bad as ever. The White’s have been refusing to pay their 10s.6d rent increase because they feel the flat(apartment) is not worth it. They are 21pounds in arrears have been sent an eviction notice taking effect in three weeks. We are determined not to pay up said Mr.White who works in Spitalfields Market. We don’t think the place is worth the increase and we will barricade ourselves in to prove our point. Mr.White added we are constantly having to repaper the walls as they are wet and the sheets are always wet as well as the window sills. The hinges broke on the windows about two years ago and we are unable to close them. We are still waiting for them to be fixed. The Whites moved into their 13 year old flat as a temporary measure by the Greater London Council as they have six children and only three bedrooms, having to sleep three children to each room.  It was really a squeeze said Mrs. White until our two older boys emigrated to Canada. A spokesman for the Greater London Council said any remedial action to fix the ventilation will be done.”

The next year the rest of my family emigrated to Canada to join my brother and myself. That lasted one year as my father couldn’t adapt to Canadian culture and my teenage siblings missed their friends. They were too Cockney to adapt and missed the social life of London, England. And here I am 49 years later blogging.

My Values

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In my April 5, 2018 diary blog I wrote the following ” I’m trying to understand what it means to be a Conservative versus a Liberal along with many other issues concerning the democratic process “.I wrote this because although I had renewed my membership in the Conservative Party I have a difficult time these days in truly identifying with any particular party. I am trying to find out where my values fit on the political spectrum from Far Right to Far Left and in between. As a starting part I’m identifying Far Right as Nazi ideology  and Far Left as Marxist ideology, and I am definitely neither of these, so I am somewhere in between. In Canada there are four political parties, Conservatives, Liberal, NDP and Greens.

So first I have to define my values:

  1. I was raised a Catholic and so religion sharply defines my values concerning capacity for good and evil.  I believe in the ten commandments as a foundational document to try and live by.
  2. I believe governments should exercise fiscal responsibility in using tax payers money prudently, balancing budgets and running up minimum debt.
  3. I believe in the worth of the individual irrespective of race or religion. I don’t believe in identity politics as it divides us into groups and sets us up for conflict.
  4. I believe in governments being less obtrusive in its citizens lives. Freedom of speech is paramount in this principal as well as not dictating the kinds of speech we should use.
  5. I believe in the right to life of each individual including unborn children. This is a very, complicated, non-simplistic issue and wish politicians would allow free discussion on this so a compromise can be reached and we can all move on i.e. when does life start, rights of mother etc, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.
  6. I believe in the right of individuals to a minimum standard of living, a minimum sustainable wage and free healthcare. Taxes should be adjusted to sustain these principles over other non essential government services.
  7. I believe in protecting the environment. I think too much energy and resources is expended on climate change and can be put to be better use in developing green spaces and eliminating waste pollution such as excess packaging and plastic. Climate change issues will decrease with improvements in technology and science.

So where do the above values fit into the context of  the Canadian political party system. I would say that items 1,2,4 and 5 can be loosely attributed to Conservative values and items 3 and 6 to the Liberal/NDP and item 7 to the Green Party. Although there are overlaps. So the conclusion is that I tend more towards Conservative than Liberal/NDP/Green values. But if I rank the above in order of priority I may reach a different conclusion which I will leave for another day.

Ford Nation and Oligarchy

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OLIGARCHY:

Oligarchy is a form of power structure in which power rests with a small number of people. These people might be distinguished by nobility, wealth, family ties, education or corporate, religious or military control. Throughout history, oligarchies have often been tyrannical, relying on public obedience or oppression to exist.

 

 

I’m still on a rant about Doug Ford, leader of the Progressive Conservatives in Ontario. He arbitrarily appointed eleven riding candidates for the PC’s in the upcoming election despite his leadership victory stating there would be honesty and accountability in government under his tenure. These were not uncontested riding and so he fell at the first hurdle. So who is Doug Ford and what does he mean for the Progressive Conservative Party in Ontario.

Doug Ford was elected leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party in a very, very close race. His brother Rob Ford, former Mayor of Toronto, was the leader of  Ford Nation and upon his premature death the mantle was bestowed on his brother Doug.  Doug had thrown his hat in the ring to run for Mayor of Toronto when the Ontario PC leadership opportunity came up. Ford Nation was named after the Suns News Network program, hosted by Rob and Doug Ford, and was a one hour program on the TV network. The show was cancelled after one program as it met with advertiser resistance and couldn’t pay its way.

In writing this blog I typed Ford Nation into the search engine and came up with fordnation.ca . Clicking on fordnation.ca transferred me to the Ontario PC Party web site. So is the Ontario PC Party now Ford Nation or is Ford Nation now the Ontario PC Party? I’m getting a little confused. If the Ontario PC Party now considers itself a part of Ford Nation are the values of Ford Nation automatically transferred to the PC Party of Ontario? So is the Ontario PC Party now an oligarchy, defined by Wikipedia as ” A power structure where power rests with a small number of people distinguished by family ties”. I’m searching for some democratic principles within the party here. Will these democratic values erode over time as Doug Ford , leader of Ford Nation,exercises tighter and tighter control over the party?

This perceived power structure is not confined to the Ontario PC Party as the Federal Liberals have also embraced this power structure under Trudeau. I say this because of the fiasco associated with the government grants for the summer students job program. Organizations had to tick a box stating that they would subscribe to Liberal Party values if they wanted to receive the money. So it seems that our once free and democratic institutions are changing into oligarchies and individual freedoms, especially of conscience, are at risk.

So my point is are our freedoms gradually being eroded by a transition to an oligarchic system. Will we inherit a Putin, Chavez, Erdogan or some other like minded leader in the future. We have to pay closer attention to democratic values and speak out about any erosion or we WILL BE in trouble.

 

 

Guelph PC Nomination and Trolls

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DEMOCRACY

The uncertainty of outcomes is inherent in democracy, which makes all forces struggle repeatedly for the realization of their interests, being the devolution of power from a group of people to a set of rules. According to political scientist Larry Diamond, democracy consists of four key elements: a political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections; the active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life; protection of the human rights of all citizens; a rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens. (Wikipedia)

I previously posted the following on my April 5,2018 blog. ” I have democracy on my mind these days. I renewed my membership in the Conservative Party of Canada in order to vote for a new leader in the Province of Ontario. My choice of leader did not get elected but I am supporting the new provincial leader and volunteering for the conservative candidate in my home city of Guelph. I’m trying to understand what it means to be a Conservative versus a Liberal along with many other issues concerning the democratic process. I’m conservative mainly because I believe in prudent fiscal spending and not in handing out money left, right and centre to buy votes ,which is what the Liberals seem to be doing.”

So here you find me nineteen days later a very disillusioned and cynical citizen of democracy. Two candidates, Patrick Mayer and Ray Ferraro, put themselves forward in the nomination process for choosing the Guelph area candidate for the PC Party. I received bios and greetings, by email, from each of them hoping for my vote for the nomination. There was a meet and greet two weeks ago to introduce the candidates to the Guelph PC membership. Two days ago I received an email from the Ontario PC Party stating that Ray Ferraro had been chosen by the Ontario PC Party leader, Doug Ford, as the official candidate for the riding of Guelph. I emailed the other candidate asking what was going on and received the reply that he was as astounded as I was. He had just received a phone call from the Ontario PC’s thanking him for putting his name forward but they had chosen Ray as the candidate. Needless to say Patrick Mayer was extremely disappointed but would resign himself to the reality and support Ray Ferraro. And I thought to myself where’s the honesty and accountability in the PC Party and particularly its leader Doug Ford and my attitude changed.

I posted the following message on the official Guelph candidates and Ontario PC’s website:

” I am very disappointed in the way you were appointed as the Guelph candidate without a vote being held by the Guelph membership. I received emails from both you and Patrick regarding the Guelph candidacy and was expecting to vote for my choice. Than yesterday I receive an email from Ontario PC saying you were appointed the Guelph candidate. Where is the grass roots democracy in this process. What is the point of having a riding association if everything is handed down from head office. Where is the incentive to support you when the choice of choosing the candidate has been taken away from me. I would rather put up with another four years of Liberals and then hopefully vote for a new PC leader who will take grass roots membership into consideration. Obviously the whole leadership race was rushed and the Conservative Party needs another four years to understand its values and plot a path forward.”

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I also tweeted Conservative politicians and some national news media columnists regarding Doug Ford and the loss of democracy for provincial ridings.  Every time I received a tweet from Doug Ford or the PC Party I tweeted back in a negative manner. I then noticed some changes. My hands were turning green as I punched the keys in anger. I felt my nose getting misshapen, my ears growing and felt hair growing all over my body. OH NO! I was turning into an online troll. I rushed to the mirror and looked at my appearance in horror. It was true. What to do. How could I get out of this predicament. I suddenly remembered a tweet I had received from Jordan Peterson announcing he and Steven Pinker were having a discussion on YouTube. I grabbed my phone and frantically searched my Twitter messages. At last I found it and started typing ” Looking forward to your discussion. Two reasonable men talking. Should move the world forward a bit” and with each positive letter I found myself returning to normal. Lesson learned.

 

 

 

Helen & Di

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Helen was thirteen years old when she heard the announcement on CBC news that Prince Charles and Princess Diane had officially separated.  Although she had heard rumours of them leading separate lives, the official announcement came as a shock to her. The remaining romanticised dreams of her childhood finally slipped away. Helen loved Princess Diane. She loved her poise, her charm, her fashion sense, along with her attachment to royalty. Her greatest treasure was the six scrapbooks of articles and photographs of Princes Di’s life, that she had lovingly created since the age of seven . It had started in 1987 when a photograph of Diane holding hands with an Aids patient was splashed in magazines around the world. This image captivated her, for some reason she could not fathom, and so she cut the image from the magazine and placed it aside for her first entry into a scrapbook.  The scrapbooks she had accumulated since that first entry contained articles as diverse as visiting hospitals in Nigeria, fashion displays at the Museum of Applied Arts in Hungary and visiting Mother Teresa’s hospice in Kolkata, India.  Her favourite photograph was of Diane alone in front of the Taj Mahal in India. She had devoted one complete scrapbook to commemorate Diana being named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1989. Filling this book with Diane’s sartorial splendor from such fashion designers as Catherine Walker, Gianni Versace, Giorgio Amani, John Galliano and Jimmy Choo. Over the following months Helen absorbed all the lurid details of the aftermath of the separation and some part of her being retreated further into a cold, uncaring space.

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” Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways”.        (Sigmund Freud)

From a very young age Helen was taught by her mother to acquire some emotional discipline so as not to disturb the tranquility of the home. She spent most of her time with her mother as her father travelled frequently on various business ventures and came home to the solace of alcohol and his private study. Crying was frowned upon and various methods were employed by her mother to dispel this weakness. Conversation was not encouraged as “little girls should be seen and not heard”.  In her early years Helen tried to rebel, a voice inside urging her to break free. Around the age of ten she started singing around the house but these outward expressions of exuberance and joy were met with a stern “please be quiet, I’m trying to concentrate”. So Helen would retreat inward ,singing songs in her head and building an internal fantasy life.  She offered a quiet, serious persona to the world but there was a suppressed feeling deep inside her that was continually trying to break free. Her favourite video was George Michael’s “Freedom! 90”. She loved the beat of the song and the glamour of the fashion models portrayed in the video. Her favourite TV program was Beverley Hills 90210 and she avidly followed the personalities and fashion trends of the students of Beverley Hills High.

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Helen loved everything fashion. While following the life of Princess Di she had been introduced to the cult of Sloane Rangers. The exemplar female Sloane Ranger was considered to be Lady Diana Spencer, before marrying the Prince of Wales, when she was a member of the aristocratic Spencer family. However, most Sloanes were not aristocrats and mainly came from the upper-middle class culture. The name Sloane Rangers came from Sloane Square in London and they socialized in the expensive area of West London. Helen had even been able to acquire a copy of the “Official Sloane Rangers Handbook” (published in 1982). She had asked her father to purchase it for her on one of his frequent trips to England. Fashion was a large part of being a Sloane and they had their own distinctive style. In addition to the Sloanes her other role models were the woman who ruled the runways, super models like Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista. She vowed that one day she would break free from the stifling confines of her home and become a free spirit like Princess Di and set world wide fashion trends while singing to her hearts content.  But then at the age of eighteen she met Jordan.

(to be continued)

 

Of Alcohol and Men

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About 30 years ago I watched my next door neighbour standing on his front lawn, as he raised his clenched fists to the sky in a drunken rage, proclaiming he was the last real man on Earth. Five minutes earlier his wife had rung our doorbell asking if she could take shelter with her two young children until her husband had calmed down from his anger.  I went outside to talk to him but he just looked at me with unseeing drunken eyes and continued his rant to the heavens. Later that night when he had fallen asleep his wife and two young children returned home. I spoke to him the next day, asking him why he thought he was the last real man left on this planet, but he couldn’t explain and never even remembered the previous evenings episode. A few weeks later he had given up drinking and turned out to be a very considerate, engaging happy man for the rest of the time we were neighbours.

Another neighbour, about five houses down, rang our doorbell one Saturday night around 11:30 p.m. asking if we had any alcohol in the house as the stores were closed and he had run out. I gave him half a bottle of Captain Morgan’s spiced rum which he accepted with eternal gratitude. He came back at about the same time in subsequent weeks but I always pleaded poverty and he eventually stopped coming.

At the same house, again on a Saturday night, I was in the basement watching TV, when I heard footsteps on the stairs and turned around to see a roughly 20 year old stranger stumbling drunkenly down the stairs, combing his hair with a brush.    ” Where’s the party man” he enquired. I explained he had the wrong house, there was no party, and escorted him off the premises. He had even used our bathroom and taken the brush from the drawer to brush his hair. When we reached the street I heard some loud music coming from up the road and escorted him to the correct house he was looking for. When I later related this story to friends they said I should have called the police. But the young man had made a genuine drunken mistake, was conversational rather than violent and I never felt threatened, so why escalate the event.

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I had my first drink after a boy scouts Christmas party when I was fourteen or fifteen. About five of us had gone to a friends house after the party and passed around a bottle of something alcoholic,  reddish and strong. It could have been wine, sherry or port. I don’t remember getting home, I assume a parent must have driven me. I also don’t remember much of the next two days confined to my bed.

When I was eighteen I was friends with a guy a few years older, Mickey Ullah, who every time he got drunk started looking for his ship. A group of us would leave the pub and he would always try and wander off from the group saying ” where’s my ship, I have to find my ship”. He was an ex. navy guy.

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When I was twenty I played for a soccer team called the Taverners. In the spring of each year we would take a single engine, 20 seater plane over to Belgium from London to play in a Belgium soccer tournament. Immediately after checking into the hotel we would search out the nearest night club and party till three a.m. We would then turn up to the soccer tournament for 10:00 a.m. and try our best to get through the game. We were used to playing Sunday morning soccer in the mud and rain of Hackney Marshes with no spectators. Imagine our surprise when we arrived at the soccer tournament to see large banners advertising our team and to see actual stands surrounding the field filled with spectators. I think we acquitted our selves well. We had to stand up for England after all.

Know your limits and drink within it. Sound advice.