Is Trudeau ready for a Middle East war?

excellent post from Murray Dobbin in BC

Murray Dobbin's Blog

The world is now at the mercy of a coalition of three of the most dangerous autocrats on the planet:  Donald Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Arabia’s new absolute ruler Mohammad bin Salman, a name that will become increasingly familiar as the months go by. These three “leaders” are now collaborating in an incredibly reckless plan to permanently reshape the Middle East.

The final outcome will unfold no matter what Canada does. But unless the government of Justin Trudeau gets a grip on reality, Canada will be drawn into this potential catastrophe by virtue of foreign policy positions it has already taken. Geopolitics is getting incredibly complex and there is little evidence that the Liberal government has a clue how to navigate through the dangers. The problem is that despite all the hype about “being back”, Canada’s foreign policy under Trudeau and minister of foreign affairs Chrystia Freeland is still…

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Work & Pay on Remembrance Day- Part II


On Remembrance Day morning, I drove to a gas station near downtown Halifax to fill up the car for a trip to the Annapolis Valley. At the cashier’s counter, a woman customer said, “Wish me luck, I have to work today and it’s going to be busy.”

She said she worked as a bartender. The cashier at the counter said, “Yeah, I wish this was a holiday so we’d get extra pay.”

I told the cashier and the bartender about the Remembrance Day Act in NS – if they were paid for 15 of the last 30 days, and worked Remembrance Day, they had to get an extra day off with pay.

Both women were shocked. The bartender said, “My boss told me I’d just get paid time and a half for today.” The gas clerk said she expected only straight time pay for Remembrance Day. The women thanked me and said they’d each tell their boss.

An hour into my drive to Middleton, I stopped in at a well-known coffee shop. All fast-food chains and restaurants are allowed to open on Remembrance Day. They are exempt from having to close because, according to the Remembrance Day Act, they are deemed to be part of the “hospitality industry.”

As I sat down to drink my coffee at about 10.55 am, I watched the 8 women servers behind the counter pour coffee and bag donuts at a hectic pace. Waves of customers filed in and out of the restaurant.

I waited for the clock to register 10.59. The Remembrance Day Act insists that all work cease “for a period of three minutes, at one minute before eleven o’clock in the forenoon on Remembrance Day.” Rather than stop, the pace seemed to pick up. So I went to the counter and asked to speak to the manager.

A white man, about 40 years of age, greeted me cheerfully. I told him I noticed no one at the counter stopped working for three minutes around eleven. Panic crossed his face, “I just forgot, I guess,” he told me. “I was in the office in back.” I told him I was not an enforcement officer, but it was the law. Looking relieved, he said, “Maybe I can give the workers three minutes at 11.11 instead?” I told him the time was already 11.15. He said, “Maybe at noon then—I don’t mean any disrespect.” I smiled and said, “I hope you know you have to pay these workers for their shifts today and give them an extra day off with pay, because of Remembrance Day.”

He stood up straighter. In a patronizing tone he told me, “I think I know the law. I just have to pay them double time for today.”

I smiled again, no I don’t think so; I just wrote a blog about this; I teach it, I told him, handing him my card.

“I’ll go run off the law then,” he said tersely. He came back a short time later holding a printout of the Remembrance Day Act. He looked puzzled, “the law must have changed – I don’t remember any of this. When did it change?”

“I think about 1989,” I said.

“Can’t be, there’s some rules about days they have to have worked before…”

I said, “Yes the employee has to have been paid for 15 of the last 30 days just before today.” I pointed out section 6, which explains the employee who works Remembrance Day is entitled to another day off with pay. He shrugged.

I guess he was worried that I’d report him. The act says that a boss can be fined $1000 for not complying with the law, and the employer can be fined up to $15,000 for non-compliance. But this boss—perhaps he is the franchise owner– did not have a clue about the rules.

I wonder how many bosses make it up as they go along? Lots more than we know. And employees – how many of them know their rights? If they know their rights how many are too afraid of losing their jobs to say something?war

Vive la différence…


Has there ever been a female mass shooter? I wondered. So I consulted the academic lead on this – Google. And found out that of the 88 mass shootings in the US from 1982 to 2017, only three of the shooters were female (3.4%).  That includes the woman shooter in the San Bernardino, Calif. case (2015), who was in cahoots with her husband – also a shooter.

The New York Times takes issue with the figure of mass killings. In 2015 alone, the paper says there was an average of one mass killing – defined as having had had four or more victims excluding the shooter – every day in the US. And nearly 1/3 of them happened in the shooters’ (former) workplace. The New York Times disputes the figure of only 88 shootings in the last 35 years. The Washingon Post agrees – claiming “no satisfying definition exists” for mass shootings. In fact, mass shootings represent only ½ of 1% of all the shootings which take place in the US.

Statistics also tell us that in all the US wars waged all over the world, including WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam,  1.2 million Americans died. In mass shootings, over 1.5 million have died.

There were only 18 mass killings in Canada the last 35 years—none committed by women. One man used a cross-bow, so it wasn’t technically a shooting, but he did kill three people. Some of the shootings were carried out by jealous male partners. Only two happened in a workplace—one at OC Transpo (1999, Ottawa), and the other was a bombing at the Giant Mine (1992, Yellowknife). Again, some of the shootings “only” had two or three victims. But the murders of 14 female engineering students at École Polytechnique (1989, Montréal) was a mass killing, for sure. Before he shot the women, Marc Lépine, an unemployed 25 year old man, shouted “I’m fighting feminism.”

mon-massOne of the engineering students, Nathalie Provost (who narrowly escaped death), downplayed the women students’  status.  Just before the shootings, she told Lépine, “Look, we are just women studying engineering, not necessarily feminists ready to march on the streets to shout we are against men, just students intent on leading a normal life.” Lépine responded, “You’re women, you’re going to be engineers. You’re all a bunch of feminists. I hate feminists.” Then he started his shooting rampage.

At the time, Lépine was called, crazy, mentally ill, criminal and more by much of the  media –including the CBC. Most men, and some women, refused to admit this was a massacre of women; that he did it because he was a misogynist, and hated women for succeeding.mon-mass2

One lawmaker who insisted Lépine was merely crazy was Doug Lewis, who in 1989 was federal Minister of Justice in the Brian Mulroney government.  Lewis declared “We can’t legislate against insanity.” (Krajicek, 2014).

Not to be outdone, was École Polytechnique’s director André Bazergui.  On the first anniversary of the massacre, Bazergui said of Lépine, “Let’s forget about this guy. This guy was completely crazy. By talking about him … you are just encouraging more crazy people to act like him” (Miller and Tougaw, 2002).   Essentially the school’s director said that if feminists talk about the shootings, it could encourage copycat murders (Miller and Tougaw, 2002).

Twenty years later, in response to Chatelaine magazine’s questions about what safeguards were put in place since the massacre, one École staff psychologist said, “We also put a psychological intervention plan in place. It gave us a protocol to follow if one of us was concerned about a student’s mental state [my italics]. We learned that silence and solitude aren’t good signs.”(Shimo, 2009) Again the perpetrator’s mental illness is stressed.mon-mass3

In a relatively recent article marking 25 years since the Montreal Massacre, a New York Daily News headline reads, “Rifle-toting madman slaughters 14 women at Montreal university in 1989.” The subhead talks about Lepine’s “kill-crazy rampage” (Krajicek, 2014).

What does this tell us?

One: women started talking about the role misogyny played in the Montreal Massacre right after it happened. The first was journalist Francine Pelletier – who was on Marc Lépine’s hit list. This was a list of 19 women in Québec’s media and in public life whom he targeted – but never got to kill. In his suicide note, he wrote of the 19, “(They) nearly died today. The lack of time (because I started too late) has allowed these radical feminists to survive.” (Diebel, 2014)

Two: that men, who are most often opinion leaders in our media, insisted that Lépine was ‘merely’ a criminal or a crazy person. Pelletier pointed to an editorial published at the time of the massacre by the Québec City newspaper Le Soleil. About the Montreal Massacre, the editorial asserted “the truth was that the crime had nothing to do with women.” Pelletier vehemently disagreed, but received support from only one man, the late Québec actor and intellectual Pierre Bourgault who insisted, “this was the first sexist crime in history.”(Diebel, 2014).

This brings us back to the issue of mass killings.elephant

Why does the media never call the shooters male terrorists? In the US, 97% of mass shooters are male; in Canada, 100% are male. The elephant in the room – but one that is never talked about – is the fact that shootings are committed by men. The media, many academics and pundits can’t bring themselves to call the murderers men — first and foremost.

UPDATE NOTE:  In the US, a Drexel Univ. professor has been barred from campus for discussing the problem of the majority of mass shootings in the US being perpetrated by white men see

Selected sources:

Diebel, Linda. 2014. “Two Women on Marc Lépine’s Death List Speak Out.” Toronto Star. Dec. 6.

Krajicek, David A. 2014. “Rifle-toting madman slaughters 14 women at Montreal university in 1989.” New York Daily News. Oct. 11.

Miller, Nancy K and Jason Tougaw. 2002. Extremities: Trauma, Testimony and Community. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press.

Shimo, Alexandra. 2015. “Remembering the Montreal Massacre.” Chatelaine. Dec. 6.

Remembrance Day Act in Nova Scotia: why you might not get paid


In NS, Remembrance Day has an Act all its own, because it is neither a “general paid holiday” under the Labour Standards Code  nor is it a “designated closing day” under the Retail Business Designated Day Closing Act.

Then how does the Remembrance Day Act affect workers and their pay?

If you work in retail or in the service sector, probably Saturday Nov. 11 will be a day off for you. That is because the law requires shops in mall, big box stores, major grocery stores, liquor stores and other retail venues, plus most offices and factories to be closed. So you get the day off – but without pay!

However, if you work at a bar or a restaurant which is open, or you work in a gas station, a hotel, a shop with fewer than 3 staff on duty, or a pharmacy – you may have to work that day. If you do work, you get paid (straight time) for the day of work plus you get an extra day off with pay. To get paid you have to have worked for pay for 15 of the last 30 days.

Confused? You are meant to be!

Like the Labour Standards Code in NS, the Remembrance Day Act is full of exceptions.

Farm workers are exempt, so are those who work in bakeries, fish and meat processing plants, dairy production and even newspaper publishing. Of course hospital workers, police and those fire services are exempt too. They all may have to work on Remembrance Day.

If you’re lucky, you are a member of a union and you are covered by a collective agreement. Many collective agreements designate Nov. 11 as a holiday like other statutory holidays. For example, if you work as a clerk at Saint Mary’s University, since the university is closed, you will get an extra paid day off work. If you are a health care worker at NS Health — since Nov 11 falls on a Saturday, you will get an extra paid day off. If you have to work that day, you will get the equivalent of 2.5 times your regular pay. These benefits are thanks to your unions which bargained them.

However, everyone who does work on Nov. 11 does get a short reprieve. The Act calls for your boss to “suspend operations for 3 minutes starting at 10:59 am on November 11”—that means you get an extra 3 minute break.  But it’s probably not long enough to do a coffee run.

Masuma Khan vs Dalhousie– Khan deflates white privilege…

Update: Dalhousie University dropped the disciplinary charges against Khan – but Dal’s statement did not name her at all nor did it apologize! We all know it was the brilliant and feisty interview that Masuma Khan gave on CBC Radio’s The Current which made Dal back down. (hear the 19 minute interview here

A friend just called to say it’s time to start a White Boys Support Centre at Dalhousie University.

Actually, it’s long overdue. It should have been created about 5 years ago when the “Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen” started their private Facebook page when they were all first year students at Dalhousie dental school.

The Dal dental scandal was first exposed on Dec. 6, 2015 – not even two years ago. That day was also the 25th anniversary of the Montréal Massacre. Remember that? 14 young female engineering students at École Polytechnique in Montréal were gunned down by 25-year-old Marc Lépine – because he didn’t like them taking up men’s places in an  engineering program. Before killing the women, Lépine had separated the women from men students and declared, “I hate feminists.” Prior to turning the gun on himself, Lépine had left a written a list of other women (in politics, public life and the media) whom he had planned to kill.Constance Backhouse, a distinguished law professor at University of Ottawa, was the first to notice that the Dal Dental scandal surfaced on the exact day, a quarter-century earlier, that the Montréal Massacre took place. Prof Backhouse was the lead author of the report on the Dal dental scandal, Report of the Task Force on Misogyny, Sexism and Homophobia in Dalhousie University Faculty of Dentistry (which is here:

In the report Backhouse wrote in the report, “… on December 6th, 2014, 25 years to the day after the Montréal Massacre…a fourth-year dentistry student at Dalhousie posted a question about his female classmates, in the form of a poll, on an all-male Facebook group called the ‘Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen’: ‘Who would you hate fuck?’ He also invited members to vote on which classmates they would like to ‘sport fuck.’ ”

Of course hate-fucking, or sport fucking, is not the equivalent of murder. But when the Dal dental scandal finally unraveled, we were treated to an orgy of sexist, racist, misogynist and homophobic comments and photos which had been plastered over at least 50 pages of the “Gentlemen’s” Facebook account. In another institution,  students’ postings such as these would be grounds for serious punishment or expulsion.

And many in the wider community called for just that. There were large demonstrations, open meetings, panel discussions —many expected there would be expulsions. Instead the male dental students in the class of 2015 were wrapped in the cozy comfort of a restorative justice process. Sure 13 (out of 29 men) were suspended from classes and labs for two months, but Dalhousie treated them to free private classes and labs so they could catch up and finish their year on time.  As one dental student admitted to CTV (on the promise to not reveal his identity) “As embarrassing as it is to say, we felt like we didn’t have to own up, we didn’t feel like the gravity of our words didn’t have any weight because it was private conversation in our view.”

In the end, all but one of the offenders graduated the following June. And Dalhousie was nice enough to refuse to release the names of the formerly suspended students to dental boards across Canada – after all, nothing should stand in the way of the ‘boys’ starting their dental careers blemish-free. Dal’s restorative justice process claimed that the men involved met the “professionalism” standards required to graduate. The university further obliged by not listing the names of some of the “Gentlemen” in the graduation day program, so as to continue to hide the bad boys’ identities. All in the name – as Dal President Florizone said – of transparency!

Also no reprimand was meted out to the dental school faculty members – -overwhelmingly white and male.   For years, faculty had allowed the dental students’ lounge, The Cavity, to feature layers of sexist, misogynist, and homophobic slogans and graffiti on its walls. The university had steadfastly ignored requests to have the room painted over. Female dental students complained about The Cavity and also about male faculty members who made sexist and vulgar jokes about them and others in class.

The Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen were not brought before any disciplinary committee, their names were never revealed (and remain unknown by the public today). Their written threats to sexually violate and kill female classmates go unpunished as do inciting others to humiliate and demean women in their class —both of which are contrary to the Dalhousie’s Code of Student Conduct. (see section 1(e) here: 

Fast forward barely 18 months. Masuma Khan has been singled out for breach of Dalhousie’s Code of Student Conduct. In July, Khan, a vice-president of Dalhousie University Student Union, posted comments that Michael Smith, a white, male post-graduate history student, found offensive. He did not like the fact that the Dalhousie Students Union voted to refuse to participate in ‘Canada 150’ celebrations. Khan had made the motion and said, “I stand by Indigenous students. … Be proud of this country? For what, over 400 years of genocide?” In response to racist comments against her, Khan wrote: “white fragility can kiss my ass. Your white tears aren’t sacred, this land is.”khan-meghan-t-whitton-the-coastphoto of Masuma Khan, from The Coast, by Megan T. Whitton

As journalist Shree Paradkar at the Toronto Star notes, these are “Fierce words. Fighting words. Challenging words [but are they]…. words worth censoring?”

As a result of Smith’s complaint, Khan now faces discipline under the Student Code of Conduct. Under section 1(e), it seems University senate is claiming that Khan “engage[d] in a course of vexatious conduct, harassment or discrimination that is directed at one or more specific persons that is based on … race….”   Really? There is no evidence that Khan engaged in a course of vexatious conduct, against Michael Smith, on the basis of his being white.

Back in the summer, the University offered Khan a way out, if you can call it that. Write an essay and go for counseling the university said, and Khan refused, “I don’t see my actions as targeting someone, or white folks,” she said. “White people can go through discrimination but not racism. Reverse racism does not exist because I would never have the power to oppress someone the way the system can oppress marginalized people.”

Support for Khan has rolled in from across the country. From civil liberties groups, to individuals and organizations. 25 members of the Dalhousie Law faculty wrote an open letter in support of Khan and in support of free speech. Other members of the Dal Senate have stood up for her including medical professor Dr Janice Graham who said. “It’s inexplicable for Masuma Khan to be facing the threat of double victimization by a Dalhousie disciplinary action committee, a punishment that was sidestepped by male dentistry students despite offences that made senator Khan’s excitable speech pale in comparison.” She added that Dalhousie was failing to “respond appropriately and effectively to structural imbalances that continue to plague this university.”

Barely two weeks ago, young white male and female Dal undergrads made news when 1500 of them converged in a nearby residential neighbourhood, drinking, shouting, the men pissing on residents’ lawns. Apparently they did not breach any university rules—though 22 did get arrested by city police mainly for public intoxication. You should look at the amateur video here, Dr Graham, noted the double standard when she said, “We need to question an administration that seems more concerned with frat recruitment than scholarship.”

Yesterday, Dalhousie University withdrew their complaint against Masuma Khan. The final blow might have been the brilliant interview Khan gave on CBC radio’s flagship  program The Current. The damage to the university’s reputation is just another nail, as the saying goes. But the threats of sexual violence and physical harm against Khan in online “comments” sections of the media continue.   

Thunder Bay – final days…

Two photos: You be the judge. Same place, same view looking west —  77 years apart.  Red River Rd the main street in downtownThunder Bay  — today vs 1940. Deserted street, mostly closed stores, and a cash-money store on nearly every block.




1940- heading to the train stn for deployment overseas

I shouldn’t have dissed Sioux Lookout so fast!

Sorry here are photos to make up for it. After all the Sioux Lookout population is 4% that of Thunder Bay’s…No wonder Sioux Lookout deserves the passenger train!

Big sign on the town’s website says the boil water advisory has been lifted.  Good news.  Bad water– well there is scary kitchens in TB!