Category Archives: Canadian Politics

Fact Check on Aisle Three Please

Stories about Madeleine Gauron, a 76-year-old Quebec woman pronounced brain dead have been popping up in the (anti-abortion and) anti-euthanasia press.

And almost exclusively in the anti-euthanasia press.  The source most quoted is that bastion of journalism, LifeSiteNews:

Madeleine Gauron is now able to eat, walk and talk, and immediately recognized her family. Her children have decided to take legal action against the hospital.

As anecdotes similar to Gauron’s continue to pile up, “brain death” as a legitimate diagnosis of actual death is increasingly being questioned by concerned family members and medical professionals, some of whom have charged that the “brain death” criteria was created simply to ensure that harvested organs are fresh.

At one point, it is cited that there is no established criteria requiring confirmation of brain death in these situations, however (possibly because of how bereaving families might view these tests?), and that seems to me a glaring oversight in the medical system, if true.

Either way, it seems that Gauron, 76 and deemed schizophrenic, was admitted for a routine surgery.  During her recovery, she was fed food that she couldn’t really process.  As a consequence, she choked and slipped into a coma, at which point the staff brought up the possibility of organ donation.  The only mainstream news source to cover this so far is L’Express:

Jugeant la situation irréaliste, le couple a décidé de mettre de côté la question du don d’organes, insisté pour que la dame subisse un examen au cerveau pour s’assurer qu’elle soit véritablement décédée et exigé la mise en place d’un soluté.

… Le lendemain, soit le lundi, le couple épuisé décide d’appeler à l’hôpital pour s’informer de l’état de santé de la septuagénaire. C’est à ce moment qu’il apprend que la dame est sortie du coma.

One thing I strongly regret was never having learned French, in a bilingual nation.  So I have to rely on mechanical and imperfect translation:

Considering the situation unrealistic, the couple decided to put aside the issue of organ donation, and insisted on a brain scan and review to verify that she was truly dead.

… The next day, Monday, the exhausted couple decided to call the hospital to inquire about the health of their mother. That’s when they learned that she came out of her coma.

Which sounds possibly more like a clinic that tried to cover its butt, and / or made a really crappy value judgment about a person’s life.  For which they should (and will) face legal recourse.  But incontrovertible proof that all medical understanding of brain death is a lie and justification for outlawing all possible forms of euthanasia?  I’d like a fact-check, thank you.

Especially when the debate on euthanasia in Canada has been reopened recently due to recent news, preparations for an upcoming Supreme Court case, and rumours of Conservative MPs proposing bills to ban it.  The timing is curious, and smells of a political agenda attempting to hijack a family’s tragedy.

It’s worth fact-checking.

Toronto City Councilor Records March, Calls For Toronto Pride Defunding (the continuing saga)

Borrowing a page from “Porno” Peter LaBarbera, Toronto city councilor Giorgio “Creepy” Mammoliti made it a point to film Saturday’s Dyke March during Toronto Pride Week festivities, in hopes of catching any sign of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) or anyone sporting similar messaging to them. QuAIA is a group that opposes what it calls “Israeli Apartheid” — the ongoing treatment of Palestinians in occupied territories in the Middle East, and specifically LGBT Palestinians.  Their overall message is not anti-semitic, although much has been made about a shirt that was worn by one participant in 2009 that showed a (crossed out) swastika.  Earlier this year, Toronto City Council made funding of the Toronto Pride dependent on whether or not QuAIA was allowed to participate, after anti-semitism was used as an excuse to defund the event.

The Green Mammoliti with the Two-Pronged Camera

QuAIA had withdrawn its participation in the parade in order to head off a defunding of Toronto Pride, although they did drop a banner during event festivities.  But during the following day’s Dyke March (which a National Post commentator refers to as “a relatively unstructured annual parade along Bloor and Yonge Streets in which any woman or trans person can participate”), a new group called “Dykes and Trans People for Palestine” was rumoured to be marching.  Mammoliti made sure to be there to film it all — and not very discretely, either (causing #peepingmammoliti to trend on Twitter).  He managed to find a reference to “Israeli Apartheid” and other expressions of support for LGBT Palestinians, and is now calling to end all funding to the event (The Toronto Star is showing some of Mammoliti’s footage).

In the short-term, Councillor Doug Ford suggested the city may withhold hundreds of thousands of dollars in Pride funding already promised to organizers.

In the long-term, the footage, which shows dyke parade participants carrying anti-Israeli apartheid signage, could have drastic implications for every entity that receives city grants, from Caribana to the Toronto International Film Festival.

Continue reading Toronto City Councilor Records March, Calls For Toronto Pride Defunding (the continuing saga)

Full Dissent: When gay rights and religious rights collide

Canada’s National Post published a roundtable on Friday about when religious rights and the rights of sex and gender minorities collide, in the form of school board policies to protect and affirm LGBT kids.  The roundtable focuses specifically one such policy being proposed in Edmonton by the Edmonton Public School Board (EPSB), although this is on the heels of a similar dispute that took place in Burnaby, B.C.  The Post’s question:

In a multicultural society, what do you do when two different sets of cultural and ethical values come into conflict? As in other parts of Canada, Edmonton public schools are trying to find a policy to balance the equality rights of gay, lesbian and transgendered students and parents, with the traditional religious beliefs of some of its faith-based schools and programs. Should one take precedence over the other? How do you find a compromise when some faiths and cultures allow for no compromise on certain beliefs?

Of their three columnists, all pretty much agreed that people of faith who are outspokenly opposed to gayness of any form should not have to affirm LGBTTIQ kids.  Since they couldn’t find a dissenting opinion at all, I’ll be happy to provide one. Continue reading Full Dissent: When gay rights and religious rights collide

Alberta’s Wildrose Party Makes it Top Aim to Abolish Human Rights Commission

The far-right Wildrose Party has been careful not to talk about social issues or privatization of health care, but at their party convention in Calgary over the weekend, they announced that one of their top policies is to abolish of Alberta’s Human Rights Commission (AHRC):

Though the party supports cutting government spending, the issue of the potentially huge costs of transferring tribunal issues to the already over-stressed court system was not raised, nor did the party address how it would fund such a move. Continue reading Alberta’s Wildrose Party Makes it Top Aim to Abolish Human Rights Commission

Slap Reparative Therapy Where it Counts

Mark at Slap Upside the Head reports that Canada’s official opposition, the NDP, have made it a part of their platform to work to revoke the charitable status of any organization that collects money to fund harmful ex-gay / reparative therapies:

“… They take advantage of LGB people, often in vulnerable family situations or at grips with depression and self-hatred, and browbeat them—saying that LGB people never live happy lives, that we are unhealthy and unwhole, and that we never experience love and that the only hope lies in their therapies…”

He first wrote about Exodus Global Alliance’s status as a charitable organization in Canada in September of last year.  To that end (and mentioned previously, but go there if you missed it), there is a Slap Upside the Head Action Page outlining how you can support this effort. Continue reading Slap Reparative Therapy Where it Counts

Trying to Offend: How the Far Right is Seeking Validation Through “Persecution”

One thing that the far right has used to garner sympathy is the perception of censorship. To see how much it can be used to advantage, one only has to remember Charles McVety’s victimization by the CRTC (actually, it was the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council which reprimanded him, and the Crossroads Christian Network CTS that pulled his show, but this perception shows just how effectively he has spun it).

It sets the right wing up to be seen as the go-to champions of free speech.  That is, as long as you don’t notice them trying to revoke the licenses of adult networks or bemoan that it’s possible to publish an affirming kids’ book about having two dads.  Such is the practice of the times, to bear false witness, obscure truth or weave spin to raise money and flex political muscle.  (I want to remind readers not to confuse the actions of extreme Christian Nationalists, who need to be held accountable for their misrepresentations, with all Christians) Continue reading Trying to Offend: How the Far Right is Seeking Validation Through “Persecution”

A Shooting in Halifax, and Why People Are Not Disposable

In Halifax, well-known drag performer Elle Noir was shot in the arm by two men posing as police officers.  She told CBC that she believes they specifically targeted her because she is transsexual:

“They were yelling, ‘Tranny faggot, open the door, let us in, let us in,’ which leads me to believe they knew who I was. I’m in a second-floor apartment. You know, you have to have a security key to get into the building.”

Police have told the Chronicle-Herald that they think the apartment was specifically targeted, but of course have also already ruled out the likelihood of the incident being a hate crime.  But the usual assumption of drugs also doesn’t ring true for the victim:

An armed home invasion leads people to think the victims are into drugs and other criminal behaviour. But Noir insists she and her roommate are not into drugs.

“The only drugs that are in my apartment is estrogen and . . . a testosterone blocker. So unless they want to turn into women, I don’t really think they were after what I have in my apartment,” Noir said. “And my roommate is like anti-drug, completely. Like he wouldn’t even associate with people that have it.”

I don’t know all the details as yet, and will (like many readers, I’m sure) be following what has happened.  We do know that she is recovering and is expected to be fine, although she will be off work for awhile.  The CBC link has an interview. Continue reading A Shooting in Halifax, and Why People Are Not Disposable

Free Speech: It’s All In How You Spin It

At Rabble.ca, the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations reports that elementary education reform theorist Bill Ayers is once again being barred from entering Canada.  Lawyers for Ayers, who is scheduled to be a keynote speaker at the Worldview Conference on Media and Higher Education on Thursday in Toronto, say that they have been stonewalled by Canadian government officials in trying to find a way for him to be able to attend.  From the report:

“I am disturbed by the apparent inconsistency in the enforcement of Canada’s border,” said [OCUFA President Mark] Langer. “In the past, we have admitted Martha Stewart, a convicted felon. Just a few weeks ago, we also let in Geert Wilders, a far-right Dutch politician currently being prosecuted for violations of his country’s hate speech laws. Based on this record, one wonders if Ayers is being kept out of Canada for purely political reasons, something that is unacceptable in a free and democratic society.”

People are losing no time at all comparing this to the visit of outspokenly anti-Islam Dutch politician Geert Wilders to Canada.  Jonathan Kay at The National Post reported being taken a bit aback by just how emphatically extreme Wilders’ views were: Continue reading Free Speech: It’s All In How You Spin It

Guest Post: Reparative Therapy for Trans Youth: Kenneth Zucker is Different from George Rekers How?

[It’s a continuing source of shame and outrage that Toronto’s Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH) continues to employ a therapist who champions “reparative” (also known as aversion) therapies for trans youth as its Psychologist-in-Chief, and Head of the Gender Identity Service in the Child, Youth, and Family Program.  Dr. Kenneth Zucker justifies his therapies by stating that he doesn’t try to change ones sexual orientation, but rather their gender identity.  Because it’s apparently okay if they’re thought to be trans instead of gay.

Marti Abernathey at Transadvocate compares Anderson Cooper’s AC360 report on Kirk Murphy to reports of treatments undertaken by Dr. Zucker:]

Watching this recent CNN story on reparative therapy and the damage it did  to George Reker’s poster child (Kirk Andrew Murphy),  I was struck by the similarity of this story and a child that NPR covered about childhood gender identity issues. “Bradley” was treated by Kenneth Zucker for gender identity disorder. Does this: Continue reading Guest Post: Reparative Therapy for Trans Youth: Kenneth Zucker is Different from George Rekers How?