Before we start:

Discount kitties!

Image from I may have added the text.
Image from I may have added the text.

1. Chronicle Herald hires scab writer who believes Lucifer is in our phones

Thanks to Chris Parsons for reporting on this on Twitter. Read his blog here.

Some people might publish an untrue and inflammatory story about refugee children, get shamed nationally, and resolve to put whatever processes and policies in place to make sure it never happens again. Or, perhaps some people might bring the actual trained and professional journalists back to work who are capable of writing accurate stories. Those people are not the management of the Chronicle Herald.

Not content with the refugee children debacle, it apparently seemed like a good idea to hire a freelance scab writer to cover Halifax Pride who offers us such deep thoughts as:


Other potential deep journalistic questions we might ponder during Pride: Why is there no straight pride flag? Oh, wait, there is!

straight pride

“The flag you see to the right was unveiled as part of Russia’s annual Day of Family, Love, and Fidelity (great name, guys), and depicts the ideal nuclear family — a mother, father and three children. And by three children they mean two boys and one girl, naturally. United Russia wouldn’t want to accidentally empower women or anything.”

One might charitably have thought that the refugee story was the result of incompetence rather than an actual ideological position taken by the Herald management. That benefit of the doubt is harder to give when they hire a writer with views like these:

I would suggest that doing interviews with scab @JamesRisdon007 is a bad idea.#HFXpride16

— Tony Tracy (@Tony_Tracy) July 15, 2016

Apparently the coverage of the refugee children story by Rebel Media was so successful that the Herald decided we really need more of this kind of thing in our news:

Is there some misguided belief at work here that “balanced journalism” requires hiring a transphobic bigot to cover Pride? How did this process go, exactly? “You know what we need? Somebody to do some really hard-hitting journalism about PENIS BELONG IN BATHROOM WITH PANTS ON DOOR.” Somebody call the Pulitzer committee.

Sure, you might say, anti-Muslim sentiment, transphobia, straight people rights, those are ugly views, but a little conventional perhaps, given that we live in a world where Donald Trump is a candidate for President. Sure, he’s fixated on the genitals of strangers, but what are his views on Satan?

When Canadians start inviting Lucifer, the Prince of Darkness, Satan himself, into their homes via their television sets and computer screens and smartphones, you know the values of this country have changed in a dramatic way in the past few decades.

YouTube video

Somebody better tell Milton that fictional representations of Lucifer lead to reality shows and the gays adopting children and women wantonly availing themselves of the baby killing services/waterslides at Abortionplex, “Canada’s Uterus Wonderland.”

YouTube video

Hey, does he know there’s demons in our Pokémon Go?

YouTube video

Canadians, who are identified by their government with the Social Insurance Number (or SIN) for short, have largely accepted values which are indeed very much in step with what Satan would consider to be perfectly fine.


Also, sometimes the government asks for our Date of Birth (D.O.B.) which also stands for Dykes on Bikes. OMG! The government is covertly imposing the gay agenda on us! Better do some investigative journalism at Pride about that.

Wait, he sounds like some sort of anti-government terrorist. Has anyone investigated him? Oh, it’s only unpatriotic and anti-Canadian if Indigenous, brown, and Black people criticize the Canadian government.

What a shock, he may be less than truthful!

Gee, I wonder if he has issues with Black people?

I saw that coming.

The alarming thing is, I can make fun of Risdon all day, but a major mainstream local media outlet has actually hired him to “report” the news. The same news organizations that will run serious stories on whether Black Lives Matter are bullies and always want to give “two sides” to stories on racism treat these extremist views as though they are objective and legitimate news. As if during Pride week what’s really needed is someone to stand up for “straight rights.” Apparently one week of stories about the LGBTQ community needs some kind of corrective action because not being the news 100 per cent of the time is oppressive to straight white men or something.

All of this would be farcical, except for the fact that while journalists remain on the picket lines, the management of the Herald thinks this is the exciting direction contemporary newspapers should be taking. Who needs painstaking reporting when we can have someone writing about Satan in our homes?


2. It’s getting hot in here

It’s not that I walk around every day thinking, “how would this situation be different for prisoners?” But one of the realities of prison is that so many things that we don’t give any thought to in our daily lives are so difficult for people who are incarcerated.

One of these things is the hot weather. Especially in Nova Scotia where we can expect cold temperatures and rain well into June and July, we get extremely excited for hot days and “good” weather.

But if you’re in prison, this weather can be worse than uncomfortable. It can be life threatening. Prisons aren’t air conditioned. This probably has less to do with the inability to install air conditioning, and much more to do with the sense that people often have that prisoners ought to be punished. In Louisiana, for example, a state where there is no budget for public defenders and where prisoners were trapped in their cells during Hurricane Katrina, the state has spent more than $1 million fighting the installation of air conditioning at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. The cost to install air conditioning? $225, 000.

Image of death row at Angola prison from
Image of death row at Angola prison from

The objections to air conditioning in prisons are usually based in the perception that loss of freedom isn’t “enough” of a punishment and that criminals deserve to suffer. People may argue that they don’t have air conditioning in their homes, so why should people who commit crimes get air conditioning on the taxpayer? But obviously, a home is a much different structure than a prison.

I don’t have air conditioning in my apartment either, but I can open all the windows, put on fans, take cold showers whenever I want, go outside to get some air, and so forth. Prisons, built for security, are not built for air flow. You cannot prop open a door to get more air circulation, and with the way the buildings are constructed, temperatures are much higher on the ranges than outside. In maximum facilities, which are higher security, prisoners are not allowed swivel fans. One inmate told me that in a maximum facility, the windows open on a wheel crank, which are often broken. The cell will have a small window, but it may either be stuck open, leading to freezing cold temperatures in winter, or stuck closed, leading to sweltering conditions in the summer. While lower security facilities have windows that open and inmates are allowed better fans, the heat is still stifling.

Air conditioning in prisons isn’t a luxury, it is an issue of human rights. Prisoners literally die in the heat, and prisoners with susceptibility to heat because of medical conditions, medication, and old age are particularly vulnerable. One of those conditions, according to the lawsuit in Louisiana, is diabetes. In Canada, Indigenous and Black populations have higher rates of diabetes than other groups, meaning that heat injuries also are more likely to affect prisoners from these communities. As with most injustices, the people hit harder are always racialized populations who are already disadvantaged in the system.


While Canada doesn’t experience the same suffocating heat as regularly as the Southern United States, air conditioning is still a serious issue in our facilities. With a heat wave in Quebec this week, temperatures hit 33 degrees, which felt like 42 degrees with the humidity. In the prisons outside Montreal, work had to be stopped due to the dangerous heat and risk of heat injury.

I’ve written before about prison labour and the CORCAN shops. These shops are not air conditioned, but the offices where the bosses work are. The prisoners I talked to suspected that the work stoppage was less about protecting them, and more about the supervisors not wanting to have to come onto the shop floor in the high temperatures. While work stopped this week, throughout the summer temperatures have been well over 30 degrees and prisoners have been expected to labour; grinding, for example, hundreds of sheets of metal for less than $5 a day. Access to water or to other means of cooling themselves are limited.

Similarly, on the ranges, the “bubble” where the guards sit is air conditioned, the living area for the prisoners is not. This actually does affect the work conditions of the guards as well, who have to do walks in the heat wearing heavy vests and other equipment. For guards that also may experience heat-related illnesses, surely this is also a labour rights issue that should be alarming even for those who don’t care about prisoners’ rights.

This week in one of the prisons outside Montreal, an older man had a heart attack in his cell. It is not unlikely that the heat was a factor. Even worse for prisoners, medical care in prisons is not always accessible, or fast. Prisoners are not always able to push the panic buttons in their cells, or guards may not be able to get there in time, or there may not emergency teams available. Prisoners who are feeling ill don’t always have easy access to doctors, and prisons don’t have adequate medical facilities. A prisoner who is feeling ill in the heat may be waiting for a doctor to come to the prison, or may be waiting for a transport to the hospital for tests, all of which mean that they are far more likely to suffer from untreated conditions until it’s too late.

Image of jail panic button from
Image of jail panic button from

Another heat related consequence? One of the prisoners was summoned to health care after his blood tests came back. He’s on lithium, so he is tested regularly. The nurse told him that the levels of lithium were so high in his blood that they were surprised he “was still standing.” Dehydration and the heat likely contributed to this life-threatening imbalance in his medication. Luckily for him, the tests came back early enough to intervene  — but what might have happened if he had reacted to the drugs in his system, drugs he needs to treat his moods? Should his moods have been altered through no fault of his own, and outside of his control, and he had reacted violently, he could have ended up in segregation or shipped out to a maximum facility. Who would think to check to see if the heat had created problems with his medication?

Beyond medical consequences, the heat creates tensions that can lead to violent incidents. When people are on edge all day, living in close quarters with no relief, small things can set people off. The ranges become more dangerous for prisoners and for guards. Many prisons are already hazardous due to black mold, feces and urine on the walls and floors particularly on lockdown ranges and segregation that aren’t cleaned properly, hygiene issues with garbage and infestations — and many of these conditions are exacerbated by humidity and heat, to the point that the walls are literally dripping wet.

In provincial facilities like Burnside, which are heavily overcrowded, access to showers is limited, so people may be going days in the heat without a chance to shower. The women are so overcrowded right now they are sleeping without mattresses and some women have reportedly been moved to segregation units simply because there is nowhere else to house them. There isn’t enough staff for the number of inmates, so the women have alleged they are being locked down not because of disciplinary infractions, but just because there aren’t enough officers available.  Add to that food that is often processed and full of salts, canteen junk food that prisoners use to supplement their meals, difficulty in monitoring medications and whether people take or trade them, all creating health issues — and then factor in hot conditions, and you are asking for violent incidents or tragedies to happen.

Image from
Image from

So like I said, it’s not like I think people should walk around on a nice day and think “too bad it’s not this nice in prison!” I love the summer and basking in the heat too. But like most things in prison, so much of the realities of life inside is hidden from us so we don’t even know what the conditions are and how they affect people. And without knowing that, it’s also easy to think that if prisoners are complaining about the heat or asking for air conditioning that they’re just being whiners, or that if they wanted to be comfortable, they shouldn’t keep committing crimes.

But nobody should be sentenced to having a heart attack. When we sentence people to life, that means that we have elderly people in prison who are denied the care they need and often die terribly. A society that respects elders’ rights can’t also condemn seniors to cook to death in prisons. Do the crime do the time may be a principle many people accept, but that time does not include cruel or unusual conditions. And certainly the workers in the prison shouldn’t be subjected to dangerous conditions just to do their jobs.

If we are going to take people’s freedom and put them in custody, we also have the obligation to care for them when we take away their power and freedom to control their own bodies. “The taxpayer” may think they shouldn’t have to pay the relatively small costs of things like air conditioning that give prisoners some minimal quality of life, but denying these needs is ultimately more costly, including the loss of life.

3. Report: racism exists.

News 95.7 broke a report on Wednesday about racism in the Halifax Regional Municipality Operations Department.

The report by Turner Consulting Group entitled HRM Employment Systems Review was obtained by NEWS 95.7 and dated January 19, 2016, which also shows the systemic problems in the department have been compounded because of an overall failure to address them.

“The overwhelming opinion of the African Nova Scotian employees with whom we spoke is that they have experienced incidents of harassment and discrimination in the workplace,” the report reads. “Of concern to us is not just that these incidents occurred, but that they were not immediately and effectively addressed by supervisors.”

The report continues on to say the behaviour of supervisors in addressing some of the claims as described in personnel interviews “constitute harassment and discrimination.”

“The consultations with employees and interviews with supervisors suggest that the business unit is caught in a self-sustaining cycle of prejudice in which African Nova Scotians continue to be negatively impacted by experiences of harassment and discrimination, and supervisors and other employees dismiss these concerns or blame the victim for their response.”

This report is hardly surprising. As Dr. Isaac Saney pointed out at the recent Working While Black symposium:

“In 2011, African Nova Scotians had a rate of unemployment higher, 14.5 per cent, than the rest of Nova Scotia, 9.9 per cent and higher than African Canadians across Canada.” 

Recent cuts to employment and job creation programs that target African Nova Scotian communities exacerbate the problem of underemployment in the community. Underemployment of African Nova Scotians also contributes to the cycle of racism in the workplace, both through the continuation in the workplace of the same attitudes that exclude racialized people, and through under-representation at all levels, including the supervisors who make decisions about the validity of complaints.

Many people from North Preston, for example, have learned to put they live in Dartmouth on their resumes, or use a different address than their home because of discriminatory hiring practices to their community. There is well-documented evidence that resumes with Black-sounding names are frequently discarded; and in Nova Scotia where there are common African Nova Scotian last names, employers can often easily identify Black candidates.

When people do find employment, the number of lawsuits, human rights cases, complaints, and settlements, from the Police to the Firefighters to government workers demonstrate how frequent and ingrained workplace racism is.

Image from
Image from

Perhaps more alarming than the initial incidents of racism (as well as homophobic bullying and sexual harassment) is the response by supervisors. Many people seem to persist in the belief that talking about racism is worse than actually being racist. It seems to me that the thought process is that we are taught that racism is “bad,” but we are not taught what systemic racism is, or how racism doesn’t require intent, or that unconscious racism is still racism. So people internalize the idea that if someone accuses you of behaving in a racist way, they are calling you a “bad” person. And since you can’t be a bad person, there must be something wrong with the person calling you racist, so people react by attacking the person experiencing racism.

One way to break the “cycle of prejudice” would be to simply believe people when they recount their experiences of racism, and to accept that when people speak about the racism they have experienced, it is extremely painful and difficult. The race card does not exist, because there is no benefit to people in experiencing racism, as though it were some joy to go to work and experience regular racist bullying.  All the inclusion policies in the world won’t help until we accept that racism exists, that “good” people can both consciously and unconsciously behave in racist ways, and that talking about racism is not “disruptive,” “just as bad as racism,” or “bullying.”  And it shouldn’t take commissioning reports to validate the experiences that people have been speaking about for years.

Or race car. Whatever.
Or race car. Whatever.

4. Animal-saving heroes

Proving that Black Lives Matter are bullies unfairly discriminating against police, a BLACK crow was rescued “from certain death” by a cab driver and former police spokesperson Sgt. Pierre Bourdages.

Image from metro
Image from metro

Well, that could be a sock or something, but we’ll trust it’s an injured crow.



“It was the cab driver who is actually the hero in this story because that bird was in the middle of the road and Regency Park Drive is a very busy road,” Bourdages said in an interview.

“The cab driver stopped and the bird couldn’t fly away. The cab driver stopped and actually prevented the bird from being run over.”

Well, sometimes you’re a bird-saving-hero, sometimes you get sent to prison.

I always wonder about these stories. Like, there’s a lot of national dialogue about the presence of police at Pride marches and other community events, so of course we get stories about police saving animals and whatnot. Man saves bird isn’t exactly news usually, but I guess whenever police do something decent there’s some need to report it to “counter” very real accounts of police brutality.

shawn currie

But saving birds doesn’t have anything to do with criticism people are making of police relations to Black communities, or evidence tracking procedures or anything else. Lots of people give food to homeless people, or stop to help injured birds, or generally act decent without it being a press release. Do we really need a step-by-step account of how the officer lured the bird into a traffic cone? I know that it’s summer and news is slow, but come on.

Image from
Image from

My criticism here isn’t of Bourdages, it’s of how the media reports “stories” like this, and then presents people who critique police presence at events like Pride as extreme, or crazy, or being unreasonable. Rather than holding police accountable, our media are much more likely to cover pro-policing propaganda while remaining skeptical of communities who talk about racialized policing. How could Black people hate on people who save birds, right? Maybe there could just be as much reporting about allegations of misconduct as there are of feel-good stories.


Anyway, I’m no trained investigator or anything, but I think I have a suspect:


Editor’s note: El Jones is an important and strong voice in the community, and we at the Examiner are proud to host her work every Saturday. To help us continue to provide Jones’ needed voice, please consider subscribing to the Examiner. Just $5 or $10 a month goes a long way. Or, consider making a one-time contribution via PayPal. Thanks much!

El Jones is a poet, journalist, professor, community advocate, and activist. Her work focuses on social justice issues such as feminism, prison abolition, anti-racism, and decolonization.

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  1. ” I would not want my daughter going to high school with young men or teenage boys from a culture that doesn’t believe women are actually people. ”

    Me neither. Fortunately I don’t think they see them quite that way.

    From what I’ve read, what I’ve seen attending a couple of Iftars (feast ending Ramadan) in Halifax and discussions with a local Muslim doctor, it is not so much as they see women as non-people as that Islam requires husbands to provide them with ‘protection’ and ‘guidance’. This varies somewhat by the flavor of Islam, and of course that kind of power is open to abuse.

    Islam is extremely tribal and tended to inherit the traditions of ancient tribes where it took root. Some require that woman must wear garments like the burka that conceal their entire body and that they can only go to public places accompanied by a male relative (even a child). Others make no such demands. I see Muslim women wearing head-scarves wandering all over Halifax. There may be others without them too – I wouldn’t know. To me this seems to make Muslim women second class citizens, and I’m always amazed at the odd western woman who chooses to become Muslim.

    In our schools they are a minority, and I would guess that for the most part our daughters were raised with contemporary western notions of their equality relative to men – ones which their parents would reinforce if asked. Whatever Muslim immigrants may think of that, they simply have to accept it. NS needs people, they were welcomed here from terrible circumstances in the Middle East and these are our values. Nobody is shoving Catholicism down their throats. I hope they don’t try to heavily proselytize to us either. This may end up leading to Muslim communities that keep to themselves, which could lead to an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality on both sides. Whether or not we have given that any thought, we have de-facto accepted it by encouraging these people to live here. Nova Scotia will change somewhat because of it.

    My $CD0.02

    1. ” I would not want my daughter going to high school with young men or teenage boys from a culture that doesn’t believe women are actually people. ”

      Well, ok, to be clear, that was a bad way for me to put it and I apologize to those who found that offensive. Our society views men and women as being different varieties of the same essential thing, and it seems to me like most other societies, including the Islamic world, view men and women as fundamentally distinct. Gender roles are, to put it mildly, optional here in the West, which is not the case in most of the world – it’s not fair to single out the Islamic world, but Islamic/Western relations are a pertinent issue these days. Traditional gender roles afford men and women different rights and responsibilities, and if you don’t live up to your responsibilities, why should you get to keep your rights? For better or for worse here in the West, we have very limited notions of responsibilities, and almost unlimited rights. Regarding the tribal aspect of Islam, well, yes, it’s obvious. I see a common thread between the notion of outlawry in the traditional Anglo-Saxon sense (don’t live up to your responsibilities and lose the protections of the community) and the idea that many other cultures (not just Islam) have that if a woman or man does not conform to their prescribed roles, they don’t have the rights normally afforded to women or men. Although I welcome correction, the way I see it is that from an Islamic (or really any more traditional culture’s perspective), a woman who is out in public, unaccompanied, dressed immodestly, isn’t being responsible and is therefore an outlaw of sorts.

      My point about the incidents in high schools, real or not, is that given the way our government, mainstream media and our cultural and academic elite are treating the issue of cultural conflict between Muslim newcomers and Canadians, conflict and and us-vs-them mentality are assured. And um, regarding needing more people in Nova Scotia? Our young people are leaving to find work because it isn’t available here for most, why would people from other cultures with less language skills do any better? I want to help people from the middle east, but my argument is that the way we are doing that in Canada is inefficient, ineffective and going to drive anti-Islam sentiment rather than reduce it. The current (year) approach of simply calling anyone who disagrees a racist or an Islamophobe (HG Wells was right about Eloi and Morlocks, and we’re the Eloi, btw) is not working anymore and we need to try something else.

      1. Can’t disagree with most of what you say Nick.

        Our young people are leaving because university tuition is expensive and they can’t find work here. Companies either leave or will not consider setting up shop here supposedly because they feel taxes and utility costs (especially power rates) are un-competitive with other jurisdictions. We have largely fished out the oceans, our coal is no longer in demand and the demise of paper publishing is hurting our forest industries. Both of these deny our government desperately needed revenues.

        Our median age is rising, increasing public health costs, already consuming close to 50% of program spending, squeezing out funds for education, public works, justice etc. We have to change Nick, we really can’t go on like this. But you know that, right?

        The Ivany report stressed the importance of increasing our numbers in NS via immigration.

        Thanks to the sustained Western meddling, a vicious civil war is being waged in Syria and other parts of the Middle East, and vast numbers of civilians are fleeing with their families.

        Premier McNeil’s answer to all these things (supported by many NS locals so far) is together with the help of church and community organizations to assist large numbers of refugees to live here. How many will remain and how many move on to better prospects out west remains to be seen.

        Arguably this might be a band-aid solution for the province and the refugees, but we do need to do Something. Whatever else we have tried in recent years clearly isn’t working. Governments of all three parties have tried to help improve job creation and failed.

        In the meantime we have earnest new families determined to establish themselves in Canada and to raise their families in a safe, prosperous place, even if it’s not a Muslim country. There will be set-up costs for NS, but the government is betting the medium and longer term benefits will significantly outweigh them. Certainly they will have less of the sense of entitlement than the current locals. Hopefully they will know opportunities when they see them and grab them with both hands. The Lebanese are known for their mercantile prowess for example. If these folks succeed by hard work and entrepreneurship they may breed resentment by folk born here who did not, but it could ultimately be to all our benefit.

        In the meantime we had better start getting used to the quaint Nova Scotia comprised almost entirely of white Catholic Gaelic people, tartan and bagpipes fading fast. It’s really been mostly historical fact for some time now anyway.

        There will certainly be religious and cultural issues I guess, but our new Muslim neighbors have known real strife and may be more open to tolerance than many others from the Middle East. I hope we can all find our own as well.

        The negative attitudes some of us hold toward blacks and indigenous people about which El writes does give me pause though. If we can’t get on with our indigenous and African Nova Scotians, why would we do better with these more recent arrivals?

        Time will tell …

        1. Well, sure. We have close to zero natural resources, and what we do have mostly benefits landowners and a couple corporations that send their revenue overseas, so of course young people are leaving.

          I would argue though, that more people do not create wealth, because there is a completely slack labor market here – odds are, if a Syrian finds a job here, it’s at the expense of someone else to no net gain. A lot of recent immigration to Canada, including, say, the Lebanese, were arguably self-selected groups that are more intelligent and hardworking than the average person in their home country, and by extension, Canada. The Syrian refugees are presumably, a random sampling of the population, and are therefore not likely to be any smarter (maybe harder working…) than the average Canadian.

          I don’t care about Nova Scotia being white, Catholic or Gaelic particularly, and when I was talking about population and cultural replacement in Western countries, I was mostly talking about Europe.

          Regarding western meddling, sure, of course. I refuse to accept collective blame for that though – who elected Bush Sr’s CIA buddies that got us into the Middle East? Who voted to have most of the mainstream media owned by companies that would profit from war? Prior to 9/11 giving Bush & co. an excuse, Saddam was willing to bend over backwards for America, but of course CNN, Fox, CBC, NPR, ect forgot to mention that in 2003.

          Regarding funding health care, and our aging population? They simply aren’t going to get the sort of standard of living and medical care they were promised and no amount of immigrants can fix that. Of course, because the elderly are the single biggest voting bloc in Nova Scotia, I do expect that absolutely everything else will get scrapped first to pay for their entitlements.

          In any case, Europe is close to complete chaos, which will be the end of refugee programs for governments here that want to get re-elected. I do hope we can get along well with them,

  2. With regard to your third point, I would like to offer up the following: Essentially, capitalizing the “b” in Black, as I understand it, acknowledges history, identity, and shows respect.

    Re: point 4, misogynists are found across cultures, including here in Canada (see the Risdon piece, above) so you need not stereotype Syrian children in this way.

    5. When heterosexual nuclear families are the normative ideal (not necessarily desirable, not always the reality), backed up by homophobic laws, making a flag to illustrate that ideal looks an awful lot like a declaration of “straight pride” to me.

    6. Single parent families where women are the head are often low-income families (because: misogyny, see: point 4). It’s poverty (+ racism) that creates the challenges faced by kids from single parent families, not the singleness of the parent per se. Here’s some more facts for ya:

    I can’t argue with your last two points, however.

    1. 3) Well, sure, I was being a bit facetious about the ‘b’ – but I remember the 90’s, when I lived in a far more diverse place than Nova Scotia and there was a lot of talk about a postracial society, and now look at how bad things are. I find race relationships very disheartening these days. I remember at the time the big P.C. issue was whether to call people with dark skin black people or African-Americans, and the issue of Caribbean (ect) people aside, black people (capitalized or not) seemed to remain the popular term, because there was hope that dark skin and curly hair could just be another physical feature like freckles.

      4) The incidents in New Brunswick, which I’ll admit weren’t serious, involved 15-20 year olds who did not speak conversational English being placed into a classroom with younger Canadians students with not enough translation resources and probably no prior explanation of social norms here in Canada. Here’s the problem. What’s going to happen is that more incidents, real or imagined and of varying severity, are going to happen. Right wing / alternative media, which like it or not, is exploding in readership will run with them anyway, and there will be radio silence from CBC ect, or instead, they’ll run a feel-good piece about some Syrian family that is running a successful business or something nice like that. It’s very transparent and I think a lot of people are feeling lied to by CBC etc. And well, to respond to Ausca’s comment, well, “protection and guidance” (emphasis guidance), implies a lack of agency, IE being less than fully human. And of course Canada and the west in general is not the land of egalitarianism and perfect equality, but by world standards it’s pretty good.

      Maybe the Islamic community here in Canada should play a greater role in integrating people from the Middle East. I would imagine that Syrians would be more receptive to learning how to co-exist with Canadians if our values were explained to them by people who had faced similar challenges.

      5) From a conservative perspective, “Normative Ideal” sounds an awful lot like “Something that’s worked in the past for most people and is likely to keep working”. The nuclear family (or really, the ‘extended’ family – 2 adults and 3 kids living alone is a recent and entirely Western phenomenon) is the basis of civilization. Personally, I think civilization was a bit of mistake, but well, here we are. Rhetorically, if we replaced all ~30 million Canadians with people from some other country, would Canada still be Canada?

      I would answer ‘no, it would be whatever country those people came from’. If it happens slowly enough, sure, our culture would persist, but I don’t think the sustainable rate of immigration (meaning slow enough to prevent cultural balkanization like they have in Europe, which will be followed by actual balkanization in 20 years or so) is enough to replace the population.

      I don’t agree with Russia’s human rights policies, but on the other hand, the Russian government and the Orthodox church are taking steps to ensure that Russia remains Russia. I don’t buy the notion that one has to be opposed to LGBT+ people’s rights to encourage heterosexual people to have children and raise families, but if people stop having children, they will be replaced by people from somewhere else, and those people’s values will be the new values of that country. Israel has similar policies and issues, they are surrounded by hostile cultures with extremely high birth rates.

      6) The wage gap is a complicated issue. It’s an unambiguous fact that on average women (especially PoC) earn less money than men do, I believe about 66-70 cents (among the 20-30 year old cohort, it’s much less unequal). However, it’s also a bit disingenuous to claim that women earn less ‘on the dollar’. If you account for hours worked, and the choice of professions, the wage gap narrows to within a couple cents on the dollar. If my company could hire a woman, white, Black, purple, with children or not, that would do the same work as me for even 15% less pay, I would be out the door so fast my head would spin. On the other hand, to get to where I am today, I’ve had to take risks that would simply be impossible for someone with children. Saying that ‘well, single mothers should earn the same amount of money as men or women with no children, or men or women with a partner that helps share the burdens of child-rearing’ is a nice notion because obviously a single mother needs a good paycheck a lot more than I do.

      Unfortunately, unlike a single parent, I can offer much more value to an employer – if I need to work late, I work late, if I need to travel, I travel. You’re right that once someone is in that position, it’s morally (and economically, due to the crime->poverty->crime feedback loop) necessary for society to help them, but regarding point 5, it’s a lot cheaper to encourage people to stay out of that situation. I think it’s unfortunate how little respect our society has for fathers, and suggesting that being raised by a woman is just as good as being raised by a woman and a man implies that the man’s contributions are purely economic rather than familial. The notion that single mothers can be just as successful at raising children as two parents provided that the woman has access to the same economic resources and flexibility as a two-parent (heterosexual or not) family rests on the assumption that the male (in the heterosexual family) contribution is just money, which of course the government provide just as well as a father (actually better, because an individual can lose their job, but the government can always collect taxes).

  3. 1) Old media is dying fast, and the fact that the CH hired that guy without vetting him is just amazing.

    2) I think Pokemon Go is pretty creepy for a number of reasons, but they’re much more mundane. Hopefully it’s just a short-lived fad, but I doubt it.

    3) I don’t understand why you capitalize the ‘B’ in Blacks and not the ‘W’ in Whites. Are we not allowed to have an identity that isn’t dictated to us by a bunch of academics and cultural elites?

    4) The incident in Halifax with the refugee children probably didn’t happen, but the issues are real. I would not want my daughter going to high school with young men or teenage boys from a culture that doesn’t believe women are actually people. The old media is terrified to talk about this, but thankfully there are new media outlets that will talk about it honestly. We can and should help middle eastern refugees, but simply plunking them into Canadian society and covering up anything bad that happens (unless a White person did it) is not going to work.

    5) The Russian flag is not about “straight pride”, it is about encouraging people to raise families and not get divorced, which produces more well-adjusted, happy Russian people. And seriously, complaining because there wasn’t an even number of boys and girls? I don’t like Russia’s approach to human rights and LGBT issues, but I think they are right about the importance of families in perpetuating Russia and Russian culture, which in some ways is healthier than ours here in Canada.

    6) You are completely right about prisons. Obviously the focus should be on keeping people out of jail, by ending stupid laws, but also by preventing people from committing crimes. There’s no question that the horrific conditions in our jails only encourage recidivism.

    Regarding point 5:

    If you read past the first paragraph of the article, you’ll see the key idea, that most people in prison came from single-parent families. I have no time for the bashing of single mothers that the right wing likes these days, but the facts are the facts. Of course, some of the single mothers are that way because the fathers are in prison, typically because they committed crimes.

    7) Regarding the police, well, there’s definitely a problem.

    8) Cats are super-predators and need to be brought to heel – Hillary Clawton. Seriously folks, keep your cat inside (locked up in the big house) if it kills birds.

  4. Canada signed the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment on 23 Aug 1985 and ratified it on 24 Jun 1987. This was an issue for us when Canada was found handing over Afghan detainees to officials of a Kabul government known to regularly employ torture. It was such a huge embarrassment for the Harper government that they went to great lengths to suppress stories about it, denied MPs access to related information and vigorously attacked anyone who argued against their official position, including Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin, who cut a little close to the bone for their comfort.

    IMHO Harper reacted that way mainly because this issue was potentially Electorally Damaging. No, Canadians do not support torture (or ‘prisoner abuse’ when America does it) nor does the UN or other civilized countries. I wonder if there is not a case to be made that in correctional institutions in many countries (maybe even Canada) prisoners are being subjected to de-facto torture?

    Look, I’m no lawyer but my understanding is that when a court convicts someone of a serious crime and sentences them to jail time their intention is to deny them the freedom of ordinary people to live and roam within normal society. That alone is considered suitable punishment for them, protection for us, a warning to others and an opportunity to help these prisoners eventually rejoin us as better people than when they went in.

    Judges do NOT sentence them to be beaten (by guards or other inmates), raped, denied medication, forced to eat bad food, arbitrarily tossed in solitary for administrative convenience, stuffed into poor quality, overcrowded cells which are excessively hot or cold, denied basic hygiene like daily showers or subjected to additional further abuse because of their race or sexual orientation.

    Thing is, once courts pass sentence, the correctional process moves from the court to provincial or federal governments who run the correctional institutions (let’s just call them ‘jails’). The judges lose control at that point, unless someone else separately argues a formal case decrying the conditions in these jails. I would guess such a case would have to measure how our jails fail to meet clearly defined standard for treating prisoners or detainees. No idea where to find such a standard.

    I’ve heard others claim the Burnside jail is overcrowded. Over a number of articles you have detailed what sure sounds like negligence if not downright intent leading to what could be construed as abuse. What else would you call denying someone their established medication regime or misconstruing mental disorders as misbehavior warranting additional punishment in solitary?

    Most locals with whom I’ve talked about this argue that if you do something bad enough to be tossed into jail, you deserve everything you get. Everything. They don’t want to see jail as some kind of comfortable time-out resort for felons. If any of the people I know have been to jail, they have never mentioned it (well, I wouldn’t either), and frankly I doubt any have. Hence they have only a very sketchy idea of what it’s like. I doubt they separate prisoners on remand (awaiting trial thus not guilty of alleged offenses) from convicted prisoners. People are often remanded because they can’t raise the cost of bail, so in a sense before they even reach court, they are often being punished for poverty. I’ve heard the occasional off-joke about what to expect in jail when being forced to share a cell with ‘Bubba’.

    Is rape torture? Or sustained physical abuse? It seems we have established that prolonged periods of arbitrary segregation is in fact torture.

    If we can find ourselves in trouble on the battlefield for handing captured civilian ‘detainees’ to governments likely to torture them, are we at legal jeopardy for putting local civilian prisoners in a position to be raped and beaten by hardened inmates? Our excuse in Afghanistan was that we didn’t want to spend the money building detention facilities to house our detainees and we didn’t want to humiliate the nascent democratic Karzai regime still set up by the US, by rudely refusing to hand over our detainees to authorities who would torture them. I imagine our excuse for overcrowding in jails like Burnside will sound similar. (“Sorry, NS is broke and we simply can’t afford to stop you being abused while in our care.”)

    My gut feeling is voters in NS feel already way over-taxed and have little sympathy for anyone in local jails and none for treating incarcerated prisoners or detainees better. Until enough of us feel embarrassed that we (or our governments) are indirectly sponsoring various degrees of torture this way, this will never be an election issue. That means it will only ever change very slowly, if ever. You can bet people who have never had an incarcerated family member will even vote against parties proposing to treat prisoners humanely as well as firmly.

    So El, it may well be that if there is any reform to be made here it may have to be via the courts. Is it not possible to argue a case that the government of NS (and Canada) are subjecting detained persons to torture either directly or by neglect?

    I wonder how the extreme cost of such a case might be funded?

    Could highly regarded psychiatrists, jurists and lawyers be persuaded to lend credibility – people who couldn’t be easily dismissed as cranks who don’t know what they’re talking about?

    What do you think?

  5. In the Bible, we read about the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the day, expecting everyone to follow their interpretation of how to live, which was a moralistic law, giving more power to those who had power and oppressing the marginalized.

    When I read James Risdon’s “Lucifer” article, I get a sense of Phariseeism: someone who occupies a space of religious leadership or influence but who misses the entire point of the teaching.

    Here are some things that Jesus said about these types of people: “They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.”…. “You ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith.”…. “Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

    I wouldn’t be as bothered with James Risdon’s writing if he didn’t claim moral supremacy. If you hold your own bigoted, ignorant opinion, fine. But quit claiming that you have the moral high ground. Quit using your influence as a journalist to frame this as the Christian opinion, because it is most certainly not. Also, it’s not even very good writing. It reads like the rant of some old fellas at a Tim Hortons coffee klatch.

  6. The Chronicle Herald doesn’t want there to be anything to return to, they just want to scale back hugely on workers and all journalistic ability and to print anything, why bother if it’s balanced, or fair, or researched? After all, people have the internet, why does anyone need real news? (Can you tell I say this tongue in cheek by the sarcasm?) I cannot imagine why anyone would hire James Risdon, his writing is filled with hate, racism, misogyny, misinformation, and every other negative -ism that I can think of. There are no facts present, just prejudice. I do not know why he has not been charged for the hatred and dishonesty he is spewing, I would think there are multiple cases for libel in his writing. It is from ignorance and nastiness like his that our society needs to be educated, so we can move on into a truly progressive future.

  7. I could only make it half-way through the linked Risdon article before I had to abandon it for my own well-being. This ignorant, hateful wretch thinks breasts = genitals. ?

    THIS is the journalistic standard of the Chronicle Herald? Why even continue with the strike? There’s nothing left for the striking workers to return to.

  8. So much of the media has trouble with nuance. As someone said “Assuming one is against police when they’re against police brutality is like assuming one is anti-parent when they’re against child abuse.”

    1. I suspect much of that has to do with what journalists can expect of their readers.

      If you write a detailed, nuanced article will people actually read it carefully or just scan it and get ‘a sense’ of what you intended? Like politics, news seems to be following an old advertising adage: ‘keep it simple, stupid’.