Category Archives: politics

Who Needs International Women’s Day?

Who needs International Women’s Day? Didn’t Mary Wollstonecraft and Sojourner Truth take care of all that two centuries ago? “Women can vote. What more do they want?” Hmm…

Malala Yousafzai, 14-year-old girl shot for speaking out about her right to education, in 2012

Malala Yousafzai, 14-year-old girl shot for speaking out about her right to education, in 2012. She can’t be stopped; but she can be supported.

If you are unaware of the continuing practices of female genital mutilation, the forbidding of education for females, acid attacks and ironically-named “honour killings”, your ignorance must be blissful.

And if you think these are all problems of faraway places, not here in safe and civilized Canada, you must be avoiding mainstream news even more vigorously than I do.

Perhaps you are unmoved by the frequency with which Canadian Aboriginal women are murdered or go missing, but don’t imagine such crimes are limited to one group or community.

Statistics Canada declares, “violence against women in Canada continues to be a persistent and ongoing problem.”

Who needs International Women’s Day? We all do. Learn the facts, and let women have their day.


Filed under cross cultural understanding, ethics and morality, family and relationships, Optimism & Inspiration, perspective, politics, tradition, Uncategorized

Marina Nemat’s Memoir “Prisoner of Tehran” Now on Stage

Just as Marina Nemat and director Maja Ardal had to be selective when adapting Nemat’s astonishing memoir Prisoner of Tehran for the stage, so did I have to be selective in adapting a half-hour interview with the author and human rights activist to a brief online Q&A format.

One point I wasn’t able to include was part of Nemat’s response to my question about how she can balance addressing the wrongs committed in Iran against the misconceptions and general negativity many North Americans may harbour about Iran. She said,

“The world is talking about Iran having a nuclear bomb? …The people of Iran have not been losing their children to the nuclear program; they have been losing their children to the terrible disregard for human rights in that country. …the problem of Iran is the struggle for human rights, and it is hurting the Iranian people more than it is hurting anybody.”

She also spoke about the role of the arts in addressing human rights issues. She spoke of how theatre, painting, and so on, shed light on the shades between black and white that are see in the media. “CNN and the news fail to introduce the human side of the story. And this play and [my] books and talks try to put a human face to this very difficult situation.”

Please read what did make it into the published interview here:

Marina Nemat,  Prisoner of Tehran

Marina Nemat, human rights activist and author of Prisoner of Tehran


Filed under interviews, politics, theatre, writing

Sete de Setembro, Brazilian Independence Day

Antes de mais, quero agradecer ao gente incrivelmente generosa do Brasil. Em 2007 eu passei um mês visitando em Porto Alegre, São Paulo e Rio de Janeiro, com quase nenhum dinheiro, mas nenhuma falta de alimentar, segurança e boa companhia.

Eu sinto falta de vocês e tenho saudades do Brasil.




Brazil flag map


Sete de Setembro

On September 7th, 1822, Brazil declared independence from Portugal. On this day, Sete de Setembro, Brazil celebrates her Dia da Independência. Here’s how that got started.

When Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Portugal in 1807, Portuguese royalty transferred their office from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro, which was at that time capital of Colonial Brazil. Suddenly, Brazil was more than just a colony. It was now part of “the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves”.

The royal family went back to Portugal in 1820 and the following year told Brazil she was back to being a colony. Brazil said, “não, obrigado.” Then Portugal started to get all bossy, but Princess Maria Leopoldina, acting as Princess Regent of Brazil, sent a letter telling her husband Prince Pedro to declare Brazil’s independence. He did, thereby ending more than three centuries of Portugal’s control over Brazil. (No hard feelings, right?)

Parabéns, Brasil!


Filed under geography, politics

National Aboriginal Day

What is it to me, National Aboriginal Day? Maybe I should ask someone why I should care. Maybe I’ll call Mom in North Saanich or my uncle in Ottawa. I could canoe down the Kennebecasis River and ask Dad, or my friends in Quispamsis.

But I could probably discuss this with someone here in Ontario.

There must be more to Aboriginal history in Canada than a bunch of place names but I don’t remember much of what they taught about it in school.

In fact, there must be more to Canada’s First Peoples than just history. Where could I find out more? There must be some kind of cultural centre in Toronto or maybe there is a government website. I should look into it a bit.

Later, though. I’m feeling a bit lazy at the moment and might just go read a book, or watch a couple of films. Maybe something with Clint Eastwood, Jim Jarmusch and Graham Greene.

Reel Injun director Neil Diamond with Robbie Robertson

Reel Injun director Neil Diamond with Robbie Robertson

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Filed under beginnings, cross cultural understanding, language, politics

Democracy Shouldn’t Be Wasted

I am listening to Rex Murphy on CBC’s the National listing his “Five Simple Rules” to get voters interested in the election, and before he’s at number two it’s clear that he is saying something that every voter and every politician should embrace.

In short, he says potential voters “will start to engage when politicians stop being false”.

Take the 3 minutes and 27 seconds (plus 30 seconds for some damn commercial) to hear him out. Don’t have 4 minutes? Quickly then, here’s what he suggests political leaders do:

  1. Stop the “politician speak” and apocalyptic rhetoric.
  2. Stop claiming to be the only candidate who cares about the voters and the only one who wants to debate the issues.
  3. Cancel ALL prepared ads.
  4. Say what you really think in words you would normally use in conversation.
  5. Have REAL debates, between two candidates at a time until each has had a meaningful direct exchange with every other one.

He’s got it right. I’ll listen to a politician who says something I can agree with or disagree with. But the only difference between what our political candidates say before an election and what WWE wrestlers say before going into the ring is… No, I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart if it weren’t for the steroids.

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Filed under languages and communication, politics