Romance writers sought for library residency at my former Toronto workplace

I was a teenaged page at the North York Central Library in suburban Toronto, working in the Business and Urban Affairs section, shelving books, taping together newspapers while we waited for their microfilm versions to arrive, and fiddling around with the newly installed (and poorly documented) computerised catalogue/lending system -- I worked there with many other would-be writers, like Nalo Hopkinson, who was a public service clerk a few floors down. Read the rest

Rick Astley sings with Choir! Choir! Choir!

Rick Astley is getting around lately. We recently saw him on a Canadian morning show for a live, in-person rickroll. Now he's singing his 1987 hit song, "Never Gonna Give You Up," with Choir! Choir! Choir! in Toronto.

Here's what Choir! Choir! Choir! wrote about it:

In March 2018, we made a video asking pop legend Rick Astley to come sing with us.

We just had a feeling it would be a perfect fit.

HE SHOWED UP two weeks later!!

And guess what?

We were right,

But it was even more incredible than we could have expected.

Rick looks and sounds better than ever.

He's back in a BIG way writing and performing all new material, Slaying it all over again.

He is the real deal, and always has been.

He also challenged another musician to come sing with us,

So look for that at the end of the video...

Rick is back on tour throughout the US right now, and his band is killer, So look out for him making his way to your town!

Now enjoy the best version of Never Gonna Give You Up EVER!

Read the rest

Ontario town councillor posted racial slur to Facebook then claimed his account was hacked and asked IT to wipe his hard-drive

Don Cardy is a town councillor in Brant County, Ontario; on August 29, 2017, late at night, Cardy replied to a post in Arabic with a two-word post: "Fucking raghead." Read the rest

Nova Scotia filled its public Freedom of Information Archive with citizens' private data, then arrested the teen who discovered it

A 19 year old in Nova Scotia wanted to learn more about the provincial teachers' dispute, so he filed some Freedom of Information requests; he wasn't satisfied with the response so he decided to dig through other documents the province had released under open records laws to look for more, but couldn't find a search tool that was adequate to the job. Read the rest

Rick Astley rickrolls unsuspecting weather reporter on air

Rick Astley was waiting to be interviewed in the studio for the Canadian morning TV show Your Morning and decided to rickroll Brandon Gonez, the show's weather reporter, on air. At first, the "Never Gonna Give You Up" video started playing unexpectedly during the forecast, then Astley himself appeared. Gonez is apparently a fan of Mr. Astley and kind of freaked when the pop artist started dancing with him.

Here's what it looked like from behind the scenes:

Astley is currently on a short tour.

(reddit) Read the rest

Hells Angels around the world rally to downrank Manitoba businesses that don't serve outlaw bikers

After Winnipeg's Marion Hotel turned away members of the Manitoba Nomads -- a branch of the Hells Angels, classed as a criminal organisation under Manitoba law -- the gang's president called on Hells Angels affiliate around the world to leave one-star ratings for the business on Facebook, driving both the hotel and its restaurant off of Facebook, seemingly permanently. Read the rest

Justin Trudeau's no-action tweet offering help to refugees harmed by Trump's #MuslimBan created chaos

Amid the chaos of Trump's illegal ban on refugee claimants and other migrants from Muslim-majority nations, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted "To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada." Read the rest

Hockey Noir: The Opera

A bunch of years ago, I was sitting at a LA Kings Hockey game, noticing the music the game made. The skates on the ice. The slap of the sticks. The puck being handled and passed around. The grunts. The whistles. The roar of the crowd. The bursts of music clips. The Zamboni. And in that moment, I knew that I had come up with the idea that for my new opera it would have something to do with Hockey.

Canadian University launching law program that draws from Indigenous culture

After close to a decade of preparation, University of Victoria is preparing a law program that will incorporate the laws, customs and traditions of indigenous cultures from around Canada with a traditional legal education. It's an important step towards reconciliation between Canada's mainstream and the native communities in our country that the government has marginalized and brutalized up until very recent times.

This isn't the University of Victoria's first indigenous law rodeo, either. According to the Globe and Mail, the institution ran a law school in Canada's far north between 2001 and 2005. The school, called Akitsiraq, featured heavily on Inuit law and tradition.

This inclusion of the laws and customs of Canada's indigenous people in a law school's curriculum is a big deal. Canada's white establishment (of which I include myself in) is used to seeing its legal show ran on a framework of laws and traditions that feature heavily on our British colonial legacy. Currently, Canadian lawyers are only trained to interpret and operate within this framework. By throwing the laws and views of Canada's indigenous nations into the mix, a new, truly Canadian legal system could form – one that gives all of the nation's citizens a fair shake. From the Globe and Mail:

Up to 25 students are expected to begin in September, pending approval of the program by B.C.’s Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. Tuition and fees will be just under $11,000 a year, the same as at the school’s common-law program.

Read the rest

Journalist charged with Criminal Harassment for attempting to set up an interview

Two of the largest parts of a journalist's job are waiting and making phone calls. When you're waiting, it's likely for someone to return a call. When you're making a phone call, it's likely to set up an interview, or interview someone over the phone, Skype or whatever.

Antoine Trépanier is a reporter for Radio-Canada: it's the French language farm of the Canadian Broadcast Corporation. Think PBS, only Beyond the Wall. Recently Trépanier was covering a story about a manager from a high-profile NPO falsely representing herself as a lawyer. Just another day in the dry-as-a-popcorn-fart world of public broadcasting. He called this individual, Yvonne Dubé, the executive director of the Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter in Gatineau, Quebec, to see if she'd be interested in sitting for an interview. She was down with the idea, or so it seemed. She cancelled the interview at the last moment. Trépanier emailed her, explaining that Radio Canada was going to run the story on his investigation. He wanted her to have the opportunity to comment on the allegations being leveled against her.

The next day, the Gatineau police dropped by to arrest Trépanier for criminal harassment.

According to the CBC, The Crown (our Queen-loving version of a district attorney) hasn't decided whether the charges will make it into court. The story of Trépanier's arrest touches on the topic of where the right of a journalist to contact a source ends and the rights of a source begin. It's an important issue: How much does the public's right to know about a topic that could effect their lives matter versus an individual's right to privacy? Read the rest

Syndicated strip or graphic novel? Lynn Johnston on doing For Better or For Worse in the internet age

In honor of the Library of American Comics' publication of For Better or For Worse: The Complete Library, Vol. 1 (Volume 2 is out this summer), we are delighted to publish this essay by Lynn Johnston, contemplating the nature of writing a serial for decades and how she might approach her life's work today.

The Kids in the Hall: An Oral History

The Kids in the Hall are Canada's greatest national export.

Read the rest

Meet the mother of the Canadian civil rights movement

Viola Desmond was the badass mother of the Canadian civil rights movement.

Born in 1914 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, she grew up in the predominately pale-faced province avoiding notoriety until until she was old enough to leave home. In her home province, her skin color made it impossible for her to attend beauty school – local educators wouldn't have her. Determined to better herself, Desmond traveled to Montreal for her education as an aesthetician, before continuing on to Atlantic city and New York City to round out her skills. Returning to Nova Scotia, she opened her own beauty salon – the first by a black woman in the province. While chasing down her dream of being a business owner is impressive, it's not what brought her the most notoriety in our country.

While attending a movie in the village of New Glasgow, Nova Scotia in 1946, she called bullshit on the theatre's bigoted ticketing rules. The owner of the theater demanded that whites and blacks sit in different parts of the building. Additionally, anyone with skin that wasn't as white as the driven snow was forced to pay an additional penny for the privilege of seeing a film. Desmond refused to pay more than the white moviegoers did, nor would she comply with the owner's order to leave the whites-only seating area. For her trouble, she was charged for a tax violation – it was the only way that the government of her day could punish her for daring to defy the horse shit of racial segregation. Read the rest

Toronto's real estate market is imploding

Toronto is one of the many great world cities that has been rendered nearly unlivable by real-estate speculation, both from onshore investors and offshore ones. Read the rest

Cool profile of Canadian wilderness photographer

Stevin Tuchiwsky survived cancer as a child, which he says motivated him to become a renowned nature photographer. Read the rest

Canada struggle to end solitary confinement is "justice deferred"

Until recently, under Canadian law, prison administrators could confine their charges to an indefinite period in solitary confinement. Thanks to a pair of high profile court rulings, this could change in a big way, provided the Federal government can get its shit together.

Last month, the Supreme Court in the Canadian province of British Columbia struck down a law that allowed prisoners to be kept indefinitely in solitary confinement. It was a huge win for prison inmates and society: long-term solitary confinement does nothing to rehabilitate or condition an individual to become a more productive member of society. Worse, as humans are social animals, being locked away from our peers for long periods of time can cause psychological trauma--that's not something you want to do to someone who'll eventually be released back into society. Human rights activists in BC applauded the court's decision. Unfortunately, a similar case, heard in a different region of Canada, is keeping the verdict from changing the country's confinement laws.

This past December, a Superior Court Judge in the province of Ontario handed down a verdict that found that solitary confinement lasting any longer than five days is absolute bullshit, according to the Canadian constitution. But, as the CBC details, the practice of doing so does not violate the constitutional rights of the individual being thrown into solitary.

Both verdicts have merit, but which has more weight?

It's a question that the Canadian government has decided can only be answered by another run through the legal system. Read the rest

Canadian healthcare isn't as free as you think

I love you, America! Between living in your country as a digital nomad for part of the year and attending events as part of my job, I've spent a lot of time in the United States. One of the biggest misconceptions that I've run into when talking to my American pals is that they believe we receive free healthcare.

This is mostly incorrect.

Most Canadians, with the exception of Alberta, where I live for half of the year, either pay for our hospital and doctor visits as part of our taxes or are billed monthly by the province we live in. Having been born and raised in Canada, I've taken for granted being able to see doctors or receiving emergency medical care whenever I need it – right up to the point where I no longer could. I needed to visit the hospital, shortly after moving from one province to another. I'd registered as a resident there, but my paperwork had somehow been lost. A month after seeing a doctor, I received an $800 bill in the mail. So, that sucked. Even when things work the way that they're meant to, not everything is covered. Things like dentistry, massage therapy or counseling only happen on a pay-per-use basis, or if you're lucky enough to have a job that affords you a health plan. I fall into this latter group, thanks to my partner. 

And then there's the cost of drugs.

As The Guardian recently pointed out, Canada has the second highest drug prices of any industrialized country in the world. Read the rest

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