Saturday, December 18, 2010

U.S. Senate votes 65-31 to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't tell"

It's a beautiful and historic day for equality rights for LGBT citizens in America! The U.S. Senate has just voted 65 to 31 to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' which was the policy adopted in the 1990s banning openly gay men and women from serving in the U.S. military. The law now goes to President Obama's desk for final approval, which it will get hopefully quickly.

My faith in Americans to do the right thing for their LGBT citizens has long been shaken, with all the recent referenda and votes to ban equal marriage. But today, it's great to see a victory for my American LGBT friends and others who support true equality.

A court ruling in Canada in the early 1990s led to the end of our ban on openly LGBT solders in the Canadian military. It's nice to see the Americans finally catch up with us on this important issue.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bigot McVety's big mouth gets his show pulled from CTS...

Ah, the sweet taste of justice! As most readers will already understand, Charles McVety is an outspoken bigot. His words, broadcasted last year on his CTS show, Word TV, have finally gotten him into trouble with the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council who have found him in violation of broadcasting codes for statements that implied there was a "malevolent, insidious and conspiratorial purpose" to the activities of homosexuals.

The report said McVety violated sections of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters code of ethics, particularly the clause that calls for "full, fair and proper representation." You can read full details on the report here.

Infamous for his constant, unrelenting, and bigoted attacks on the LGBT community, and his disgusting and frequent access to our Prime Minister's ear and office (not to mention his great power to influence federal Conservative government policy), I'm sure McVety will rail against this decision as unfair and a violation of his freedom of speech. Of course, our free speech laws don't give anyone the right to peddle hatred and lies over the air waves so I'm quite pleased with this decision to shut the bigot McVety down.

I hope Dalton McGuinty grows a spine and stops listening to this bigot when it comes to setting our school curriculum (although sadly I won't be holding my breath). Homosexuality is a natural part of the human condition and our high schools are, undoubtedly, still hotbeds of homophobic bullying today. That we leave our young queer students alone to suffer in these violent conditions is evil, and surely something that brings a smile to McVety's face. Expanding knowledge of the reality of this world (not McVety's hocus pocus version of it) including the existence of gay and lesbian people is long overdue in our school curriculum in Ontario, Mr. McGuinty.

I hope the mainstream Canadian media (including the National Post) thinks twice before quoting McVety ad nauseum again on some social issue in future.

And I truly hope his hate-peddling T.V. show never sees the light of day in this country again.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Happy to be a 'Pinko' cyclist in anti-mayor Ford's Toronto

Respect for taxpayers? There was nothing resembling 'respect' emanating from City Hall today, that's for sure. I did hear many shrieks of shame and buyers' remorse from ordinary Torontonians.

Said national embarrassment Don Cherry while introducing anti-mayor Ford today: "I’m wearing pinko for all the pinkos out there that ride bicycles and everything...Put that in your pipes you left-wing kooks."

Talk about a great beginning to the four-year gong show that will be anti-mayor Ford's reign of error. Great job, Don!

I rode on my bicycle for 6.6 kms to work today in below freezing weather. I'm more of a man than Rob Ford and Don Cherry (in their cozy limousines, no doubt) will ever be. Stick that in your pipe, you fascist kooks!

Monday, December 6, 2010

December 6th remembered: Tories would win majority and wipe out gun control legacy?

Am I the only one who found the timing of this political report by Nik Nanos to be quite inappropriate? It's been 21 years (I still remember watching the initial reports on the news as a teenager) since 14 women were murdered at École Polytechnique in Montreal, Quebec by a man with a long gun. This tragedy became the impetus for passing stronger gun control laws in this country, including the much-needed long-gun registry.

The last thing we needed to hear today (even if I don't believe the analysis) was that our misguided Prime Minister Stephen Harper could win a majority government were an election held today and subsequently wipe out our gun control laws. I pray this terrible result never occurs.

On this day of remembrance, I remind you of the names of the 14 women who lost their lives 21 years ago today in Montreal:

* Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student
* Hélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
* Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
* Barbara Daigneault (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
* Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student
* Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student
* Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique's finance department
* Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student
* Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
* Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student
* Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student
* Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
* Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student
* Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Major win for Liberals in Western Canada! Fantino squeaker proves backlash against Harper tactics...

Tonight's three byelection results are available here. The Fantino win was expected, but not this squeaker. If Fantino held a huge lead in internal polls months ago, it's clear the centrally-run, "peek-a-boo" campaign run for Fantino out of Harper's PMO almost cost him the election.

I'll admit Fantino was the better candidate in Vaughan, but the Grits ran a spirited campaign in Vaughan and their strong result tonight shows there was a major backlash against the Tory campaign (ie. hiding Fantino, not participating in all-candidates' debates, mostly ignoring the media.) The Tory candidate ran much the same campaign in Winnipeg North and her vote collapsed in half. I'm glad to see voters are finding Harper's ways so unappealing.

And with voters in Winnipeg North electing an absolutely incredible local representative in longtime Grit MLA Kevin Lamoureux, it's fair to say the Liberals have something to smile about, despite the loss in Vaughan. The Rob Ford win kind of threw me for a loop, so it's kind of nice to see results that make sense... :-)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Required reading for Vaughan voters: 'Fantino wasn’t ‘there for the little guy’ in Caledonia'

I've always had grudging respect for Christie Blatchford. I haven't always agreed with her biases. Often, as a partisan Liberal, she's annoyed the hell out of me. But that's what good and fair reporters need to do: sometimes annoy you, sometimes thrill you. If the same reporter can both piss you off on some occasions, and bring smiles on others, then clearly she is doing a good job as a reporter.

I dare say that she's right on the money here when it comes to Julian Fantino. Much of what this unfortunate man has accomplished in his career is completely offensive to me. As London, Ontario police chief, many critics attacked Fantino for turning a child-porn investigation into a witch hunt against local gay men. In Toronto, many say he failed to adequately deal with police force corruption. As head of the OPP, his record on Caledonia is well-documented. It's true: he's no more a friend of the 'little guy' than his would-be boss, Stephen Harper. So it's not surprising Fantino is attracted to Harper's party and government.

I only wish that Greg Sorbara and Dalton McGuinty had thought more clearly before appointing this self-promoting man to so many high-profile positions in the Ontario police hierarchy. It does seem those appointments had more to do with removing a potential Fantino candidacy for the Ontario PCs (presumably against Sorbara himself in Vaughan) than simple merit.

Like attracts like. After posting the biggest deficit in history, after spending over $1 billion on the G8/G20, after fighting tooth and nail to end the long gun registry, after dividing Canadians and regions against regions, after diminishing Canada's standing in the world, the last thing Stephen Harper deserves is to take a seat away from Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition.

I'll be praying on Monday that the people of Vaughan do the right thing and tell Julian Fantino and Stephen Harper to take a hike.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ignatieff should call for a parliamentary vote on extending the Afghan mission to 2014.

There, I said it. It would be in his own best interests and it would be telling Canadians that he values democracy and public input on foreign affairs. It would make his caucus happy. It would show Michael's not afraid to let the people speak.

I do support the extension of the Afghan mission by Canadian Forces melding into a training role starting next year until 2014. We can't abandon the Afghan people when our job isn't finished yet. In 2001, I supported the Afghan invasion. I don't want the deaths of our Canadian soldiers to have been in vain. It's the right thing to do. There would be some division in the Liberal caucus, but in the end, the extension would pass the House with overwhelming Liberal support.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Still no word from QuAIA on my query about gay Saudi man...

It's been five days since I emailed Queers Against Israeli Apartheid about this tragic story of a gay Saudi man who's been sentenced a man to five years in prison and 500 lashes for having sexual relations with another man.

Perhaps they're short of volunteers at the moment? Despite their focus on the Middle East, perhaps they don't care about injustices outside of Israel's borders? Regardless, I'll continue to wait patiently for this community group, so vocal when it wants to be, to reply to my honest query.

Margaret Atwood's eloquent words on the horrors of (Harper's) conservative Canada...

Margaret Atwood's eloquent words on the horrors of (Stephen Harper's) conservative Canada are much appreciated:

"She did not spare the current government any pointed criticism, saying they had turned into one that’s all about “airplanes and jails. “The airplanes are useless against the real foes we face, which are scarcity and inequality.”

As for the jails, who will fill them? she asked. “Is it a case of build it and they will come?”

She suspects what they’ll do to fill those jails is just lower the criminal bar so they will have enough people to fill the jails. And then they can say, we told you so.

“Is the big idea really to bankrupt the social welfare system … by spending all of our money on planes and jails?”

Gordon Laxer, director of the Parkland Institute, said at the beginning of the talk that many of us used to proudly wear a Canadian flag on our backpack when we travelled abroad. But no more.

“Canada is on the wrong side of almost every international issue,” he said.

I am disgusted by what our country has become under Stephen Harper's rule.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Saudi Man Gets Five-Year Prison Term, 500 Lashes for Gay Sex, Okaz Reports

After reading about this tragic story today, I wondered how those queer activists involved in Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) might react to it. One of the biggest criticisms against the group has been the charge QuAIA only attacks alleged Israeli abuses, failing to condemn injustices committed in Arab countries (leaving the group open to accusations of anti-Semitism.) So I sent this email to the group this afternoon. I'll be sure to publish their response here if I get one...

From: Matt Guerin
Sent: Mon, November 15, 2010 3:24:12 PM
Subject: Saudi Man Gets Five-Year Prison Term, 500 Lashes for Gay Sex, Okaz Reports

Dear QuAIA --

Will your group be speaking out against this injustice in Saudi Arabia? If so, when and how? It would be great if your organization challenged and spoke against all injustice and human rights abuses in the Middle East, particularly when it's LGBT people being victimized (and not just targetted one country's abuses while ignoring others.)

Matt Guerin

Saturday, November 13, 2010

After 5 years of psychotic Harper secretiveness, Fantino gives us even more...

Before Stephen Harper came to power, was it normal to accept this kind of aloof, secretive approach to politics from our federal government? Certainly not. Since when did governing in a democracy mean never speaking with the public, always refusing to answer questions, and routinely, without exception, pulling the wool over our eyes? We have never experienced a federal government this secretive, this openly hostile to public scrutiny.

If the people of Vaughan elect Julian Fantino after answering ZERO questions about his own record or the Harper record, I will be truly disgusted.

Fantino needs to answer for the Harper government's mishandling of the G20 summit including the $1 billion price tag. Did he support the fake lake? Does he support getting rid of the long-gun registry? Does he think families need to go bankrupt in order to care for dying loved ones so that the feds can buy $16 billion PLUS sole-sourced military planes? Fantino also needs to answer for his own record, particularly with the Toronto Police force, where critics charged he failed to adequately deal with police force corruption, as well as his performance during the Caledonia occupation.

Voters have a right to ask these questions and demand answers before voting day. Stephen Harper doesn't think so. I'm tired of this sham of a democracy that Harper is leading. I've already donated some money to Tony Genco's campaign. I am praying that the people of Vaughan do the right thing on November 29th and not blindly endorse our federal dictator's disdain for democracy.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Michael Ignatieff on his vision for Canada

I must say I love this video. Ignatieff's narrative is starting to take shape and I'm liking it better every day.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The gravy train is alive and well in big spender Stephen Harper's PMO

The annual cost of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office has ballooned to nearly $10 million, a jump of 30 per cent since 2008. Clearly, Harper is a hypocrite when it comes to Canadian tax dollars.

Two years ago, on the eve of the recession, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said: "We cannot ask Canadians to tighten their belts during tougher times without looking in the mirror."

Clearly, he and Harper are full of CRAP on this issue.

I hope Michael Ignatieff and the Grits play this issue for all its worth, reminding Canadians that Harper is the worst manager of the public purse we have ever seen. Harper is spending more than any government in history. We are throwing away billions on G20 summits, high-priced, sole-sourced military equipment and expensive communications lackeys surrounding the Prime Minister.

For those who think Rob Ford's win in Toronto is good news for big spender Stephen Harper, think

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Use the word 'bigot' wisely

Toronto mayor-elect Rob Ford has said some pretty bigoted things in the past (unnoticed by the National Post editorial board, it seems.)

He once said of Asians (on March 5, 2008): "Those Oriental people work like dogs. I’m telling you, the Oriental people, they’re slowly taking over."

The ignorance displayed in this statement was shocking and provoked outrage from many. Ford later apologized profusely for these comments, but many Torontonians rightly concluded that any public official dumb enough to utter such generalizations in public could be labeled a bigot.

In a June 2006 debate at Toronto city council on funding for AIDS prevention programs, Ford spoke out against funding because, "If you are not doing needles and you are not gay, you wouldn’t get AIDS probably, that’s bottom line. These are the facts." The implication? It doesn't matter if gays or people "doing needles" die from AIDS.

Do I think Rob Ford today is a bigot? He sure has acted like one in the past. Today, I suspect he's learned greatly from his mayoral run this year (or at least learned to keep his mouth shut more often). I like to think having a gay man like George Smitherman as his main opponent has shown Ford up close just how normal gay men can be. I hope the hateful attitudes he displayed in 2006 against gay men have evolved as a result.

What is a bigot? The term is loaded. I've found using it to attack homophobic opponents is frequently unhelpful. It shuts down the conversation. It's only a good idea when you have absolute proof of foaming, ignorant hatred.

While Ford has certainly spoken like a bigot in the past, he hasn't done so much this year. People can change and grow. Even Ford. Also, I don't remember Tim Hudak saying anything particularly bigoted. Stephen Harper has viciously attacked gay marriage in the past, calling it, "a threat to a genuinely multicultural country." While incorrect and typical of Harper's willingness to divide Canadians, Harper's previous comments don't necessarily constitute bigotry.

But there can be no doubt that homophobic bigotry has been fairly widespread within the conservative movement over the years. There have also been bigots in the Liberal Party, the NDP, all parties. But like other parties, Conservatives have gradually evolved, partly thanks to the hard work of gay Conservatives in their midst (a topic I once wrote about for Xtra.)

The old homophobes remain in the Conservative midst, although they are slightly harder to spot. But not always. Take Ontario Tory MPP Randy Hillier, who once said, “Using taxpayer’s dollars, our governments [unfairly] support and promote Quebec, Native, Arts, Homosexual, Urban and Multi-cultures.” Hillier's campaign manager during his failed 2009 leadership bid, Tristan Emmanuel, now a senior Ontario Conservative adviser, has said that gays are, quote unquote, “sexual deviants.” As Warren Kinsella points out, Hudak has promoted these two men within his party. Similar folks dominate Stephen Harper's office in Ottawa.

Glen Murray was unwise to re-tweet recently that Ford, Hudak and Harper are simply bigoted. He provided no context for his comments except some Tamil radio ad campaign which wasn't produced by any of them (at least that we know of.) Throwing the word 'bigot' around is not helpful. It cheapens the debate and weakens our ability to confront real bigotry. There's enough of the real stuff around, we don't need to waste time attacking straw men.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rob Ford's Immaturity

I think this is from Rob Ford's first term as councillor in Toronto between 2000 and 2003 (based on the speaker's reference to Councillor Johnston, presumably Anne Johnston, who was defeated in 2003.)

Do you think Ford has matured much since then? Sadly, I imagine Toronto city council meetings would look like this more often than not were Ford to actually win the mayoralty next month.

And people wonder why Sarah Thomson was willing to suspend her campaign just to stop this guy?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Blue Valentine Q&A following TIFF 2010 screening (partial)

I recorded this post-screening Q&A for the film 'Blue Valentine' on Sept 15, 2010 at TIFF. Director Derek Cianfrance, actor Ryan Gosling and young actress Faith Wladyka answer questions. Michelle Williams was not present. (I started recording about a third into the Q&A after taking some pics...missed a sweet moment when Ryan led a 'Happy Birthday' song for a swooning audience member, sadly not me.)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Brendan Burke was a hero!

After hearing this tragic news last night, I thought I would come out of my self-imposed hiatus to briefly pay tribute to Brendan Burke, the son of hockey giant and Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke, who died yesterday after a car accident in Indiana.

According to reports, Brendan Burke was killed as heavy snow was falling on the roads north of Economy, Ind., near the Ohio border. The 2004 Jeep Cherokee in which he was riding reportedly slid into oncoming traffic and crashed into a truck going the other way, killing Burke and a friend. The driver of the truck survived.

Brendan was tremendously brave last November when he told the world he was gay. The story seemed to re-start a conversation about rampant homophobia in the sports world. Although not a professional athlete himself, Brendan's admission did no doubt make a difference. He could've remained quiet like so many closeted athletes do. But instead he chose to speak out and promote the cause of equality and acceptance and, for that, he's a hero to me.

Particularly inspirational was his father Brian Burke's reaction to his son's decision to come out publicly: "I had a million good reasons to love and admire Brendan," Brian Burke said at the time. "This news didn't alter any of them."

My thoughts are with the Burke family at this tragic time.