Absolute Equality

Absolute Equality -

Let’s be absolutely clear


Source: Creative Commons

A story came through the CP wire today that caught my eye. Justin Trudeau made a stop in Montreal and during his visit there he told reporters that Thomas Mulcair and his NDP needs to explain why they think Quebec should have a “clearer path” to sovereignty than the Supreme Court thought in its decision on the question in 1998.

This story interested me because I happen to have heard what Tom Mulcair has to say about the referendum question and I also took a course in Quebec politics in which we discussed the Supreme Court decision.

In fact we read a very interesting article that pointed out that what the Supreme Court did in its 1998 decision was abdicate all responsibility on the issue. The justices were specifically vague. A referendum and what the federal government had to do with any result of that referendum was, the court said, entirely a political decision, so long as the result was a clear answer on a clear question.

And the decision does not actually indicate what the justices mean by “clear.”

What Thomas Mulcair has done is indicate that, for an NDP government, 50% plus 1 would be a “clear result.”

What the Liberals have done is say that 50% plus 1 is not enough, without indicating what they might consider a “clear result.”

What we know is that any federal government, in the face of another referendum in Quebec, would have to define the clear question to be asked and the clear result they would accept before the question was put to voters. This means that any party in power were there to be another referendum must have a percentage in mind. Separatists in Quebec would never agree to have the federal government decide after the fact that their question or their result was not clear enough.

What we don’t know is why Trudeau is so concerned about this when there is no current threat of another referendum, especially after the recent total defeat of the PQ government.

Nor do we know why Trudeau seems hellbent on misleading people on the NDP position when it’s his party that has yet to take a clear stand. Except, as the article points out, that the Liberals are falling in the polls again.

I want to ask political leaders…

The Alliance for Women’s Rights started the Up for Debate campaign earlier this year, calling for our federal leaders to debate women’s issues this election campaign like they did in 1984.

The Alliance is asking Canadians to tweet their questions for a women’s issues debate using the tags #UpForDebate and #elxn42 – all you need to do is finish the sentence: I want to ask political leaders …

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I had a few questions off the top of my head, but I’ll be very interested to follow the hashtag and see what other Canadians want to ask those who want to lead this country.

As the Alliance for Women’s Rights says in their email to supporters:

Whether we ultimately bring your questions about women and federal policy to the leaders through a standalone debate on women’s rights, or as key questions/segments in debates organized by Maclean’s, the Globe and Mail, TVA, the Munk Debates, or the Consortium, the important thing is that these questions are answered.


Review: The Right to be Cold


Sheila Watt-Cloutier is a well-known climate activists who works to help the world understand the challenges northerners face as the environment around them changes. Her autobiography The Right to be Cold came out earlier this year and I picked up a copy right away. My growing interest in Canada’s north and Inuit culture drew me to this book, but I kept reading because of all Watt-Cloutier’s insights into the changing climate and what we are doing to our environment.

Sheila Watt-Cloutier grew up in Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, was sent away from her family as a child more than once, and experienced the loss of her culture and language, as did so many of Canada’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit citizens. It is so interesting to see how, after those childhood experiences, her culture fed her and became a driving force in her career.

I found myself marking pages all the way through this book so that I could remember her insights. One of the things she said about her approach even gave me insight into my own work and the way I want to do things:


I would recommend this book as required reading for those of all political stripes who want a better politics for Canada. As Watt-Cloutier says:

No matter how good one’s intentions are, failure to include the people affected in your plans or strategies can make things worse on the ground.

More than just admiring her approach to politics, the story of Sheila Watt-Cloutier taught me a lot about the way things are in the north now, versus the way they were, and why. The north is the world’s canary in the coal mine and we need to watch the changes happening there to really understand the damage we are doing.

Reading this book has me thinking harder about real changes I can make in my own life to lessen my impact on the world around me.

I had no idea going in how all-encompassing The Right to be Cold would be, and I recommend it for every Canadian.

Women in Canadaland

I originally posted this on my personal Facebook page, but it’s a long rant and I thought it would be better here. 

I had been impressed with some of the work Jesse Brown was doing on Canadaland so far, but this morning Twitter is full of people talking about Brown’s claim that women from the Globe leaving their jobs because of sexism in the workplace… and the actual women from the Globe who have left for better jobs, not because of sexism, asking why he put them in this story without talking to them.

So I’m forced to wonder how you can critique the job that journalists do if you can’t do good journalism yourself.

Saying that you contacted these women and they didn’t comment when you haven’t done something so simple as tweet at them to get the right email address and then amending the blog post to say that you didn’t actually contact them and they didn’t actually have a chance to comment? Come on.

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Indicating that all of this list of women you name left the Globe because they couldn’t take the environment anymore when in fact a majority of them left for different (and better) jobs? That’s just more sexism.

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You can’t be a good media critic if you then try to do journalism and cock it up to this degree. You get things wrong and then when the people you were wrong about speak out you then ask them for a real comment and update your story?

That’s not good journalism.

If you want a great stream of consciousness on the topic, go see @Scaachi

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It’s frustrating because we do need media critics in this country and there is a problem with sexism in journalism (just like many, many other industries). But when you do the reporting badly that takes away from the story that could actually have been told here.

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As cynical as I am, I still believe in the power of good journalism. This was an opportunity wasted.

Further reading:

Vidya Kauri: Sexism in Canada’s media industry

Melissa Martin: The Problem with the Problem