Category Archives: Canada

Art Forgery Drama

Good Beef

There is an interesting documentary on the works of the late Norval Morrisseau, ‘There Are No Fakes’. Morrisseau started the Woodland style of painting, using imagery from First Nations cultures showing the insides of creatures in a sort of x-ray effect.  His works are far more colorful and playful compared to the more traditional images in Inuit and West Coast art.

Unfortunately, many of his works have been forged, and a lot of what is passing off as original Morrisseaus could potentially be fakes made by an art forgery ring. I’m not sure if the documentary will show anything past what has already been detailed when I first learned about the Morrisseau forgery in Maclean’s last year, but what interested me was the very title of the film, ‘There Are No Fakes.’

Is it because somehow Morrisseau’s family was connected to the forgeries? Or is it because the forgeries themselves, just by the very fact that they are connected to the drama of Morrisseau and his legacy make them valuable on their own? Or does the documentary basically say that if you love an image and that you find it beautiful, you shouldn’t really care about its authenticity or its monetary valuable. That art is art. They are not objects to be traded or treated as real estate investments. They are far bigger than that. (I sincerely doubt that this is where the film will go.)

The leader of the forgery ring, Gary Lamont, was sentenced to jail back in 2016 for being a sexual predator. I’m not sure if many of the news media at the time mentioned his involvement with producing forged Morrisseaus, but according to one of the victims, the forged pieces represent a very abusive period. Gary Lamont would manipulate and abuse young men while the works were being produced, between 1993-2007, when there was increased demand for Morrisseaus and when the artist’s health was slowly declining.

I’m sure there are still more to this story, right now galleries and owners are still insisting on the authenticity of many works, but I do hope that the worst is over, and at the very least, no one is producing more forged works. Growing up in Manitoba, I remember seeing some of Morrisseau’s works and even more works inspired by him. After learning about the forgeries last year, I’m not even sure if I’ve ever seen a real Morrisseau.

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You’re Canadian, You Idiot!

Tim_Hortons

I was recently asked about childhood memories. This was for some future project and here is a gist of what I wrote with some edits.

I don’t know how old I was, but this was back in school. My family and I are immigrants, and we were still adapting to life in Canada at the time. I didn’t have too many friends in my new school, and I was still resenting my new city and the people in it. It was a bad time to be a kid. I was somewhat resenting the whole country, wishing not to be there, probably blaming my troubles as a kid to the whole immigrant move or how different everyone in Canada was. It was not uncommon for me to begin my sentences with “Well, back in my country…” in noting how more sensible, interesting, moral, etc. people back home were compared with Canadians. In my mind, I was enlightening people, or at least demonstrating my pride for the country I just left. I could imagine how insufferable that must have been for some. I mean, who was I? Balki Bartokomous?

Then one day in English class, during some discussion or argument about a topic I’ve long forgotten, I mentioned something about being a “permanent resident” and not Canadian citizen. That was a technical term, and I forgive most kids at that age for not knowing it, but one of my classmate scoffed at my ridiculous sentiment. “What are you talking about? You’re Canadian.” I explained the situation and the difference to her, but she still insisted, “It doesn’t matter. You’ll be Canadian eventually.”

I’m sure it was a very forgettable experience for everyone else in the room. But for me, it was a microcosm of what a welcoming, multi-cultural experiment Canada is, and how wrong I was with my resentment and stubbornly sticking to what made me different at the time. I was being stupid and silly. Why was I being so negative about my new home? It was a wake-up call, and I was grateful to be very wrong.  I’m quite older now, but that was a lasting lesson on multiculturalism, acceptance, and how some people stubbornly stick to their differences for no reason whatsoever.

To this day, even when I no longer live in Canada, I proudly call myself a Canadian and value what the country has given me. And as for that classmate who put me in my place, she has become one of my best friends. Even after eventually going to different schools we’ve kept in touch. To this day, thanks to the magic of the Internet, we still watch hockey together.

Anyway, even now, as I live in South Korea, I try not to be too negative on the country too much because of the lesson from that classroom interaction. For all of its quirks and what some might perceive as shortcomings, it’s still a wonderful country. It’s a still a country most people would be very lucky to live in. I can raise my imaginary flag and proclaim my love for Canada, but not at the expense of my current home. And should I be compelled to explain differences between Canada and South Korea, I try to be as unbiased as I could.

But speaking of differences, here’s the key difference. Back then, I had someone tell me, “You’ll be Canadian eventually.” And she was right. Here, it is not uncommon for me to hear people say “you’re almost Korean!” Heck, I even hear it from people back in Canada. But the thing is I don’t think I ever will be truly Korean even if I wanted to. There is a shared national and historical identity that is very difficult for foreigners to be a part in. As wonderful and as welcoming as the Koreans are, the country in general is still not as welcoming as Canadian society. (I don’t blame them. They have a long history which would explain this, one that I won’t be able to explain in a nutshell.) It’s simply not the same as Canada.

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Canadian Trouble

cleanliness

Saudi Arabia is not in good terms with Canada at the moment. It’s been sour for months now, not long since MLB took power. I wrote about the tension started by concerns regarding the arrest of Samar Badawi last year. Canada has largely been alone in its dispute against the Saudis, even as the kingdom threatened to pull out its medical students from Canada, sell off its Canadian assets to damage the dollar, and have its propaganda arm spread disinformation about the country. Luckily, there hasn’t been much damage to Canada after all of these months. And Canada hasn’t stopped helping people in the Middle East, particularly those seeking asylum.

Saudi Arabia continues to be a horrible country. Its guardianship system is a prison for women. They exploit women as much as they exploit slave-like labor from other countries. As much as we hear US propaganda about the evils of Iran, it is Saudi Arabia who has financed the 9/11 terrorists and continues to terrorize its neighbors, particularly Yemen. The more independent Canada is from Saudi Arabia, the better off we are.

Unfortunately, Saudi Arabia is not alone. There have been growing tensions between Canada and China stemming from the arrest of Huawei’s founder’s daughter at the behest of US law enforcement. China in return has arrested two Canadians and violated diplomatic protocols by their interrogation. China will also now be executing a Canadian arrested for drug trafficking even after he was previously sentenced only for five years. The amendment to his sentence was considered only after a few hours. There have been back and forth jabs between Trudeau and Chinese politicians, but ironically, Huawei’s founder thanks the Canadian justice system for treating his daughter well and also says that the US has a great president.

It’s a good thing however tensions haven’t risen so much that China and Canada are taking economic actions against one another. China is still the number one growing economy in the world. And despite its occasional abrupt dictatorial tendencies, it still hasn’t pulled economic actions against the Canada the same way it did with South Korea two years ago.

Russia is also getting in on the anti-Canada wagon. Recently, Russian state propaganda aired news that Canada was being controlled by a secret cabal of Ukrainians. This was undoubtedly an issue aimed to rile up support during the elections and to try to damage both Ukraine and Canada, on of Ukraine’s strongest ally. In any case, “a secret cabal of Ukrainians” controlling the country is so outlandish that it is more akin to Alex Jones conspiracy theories, not something you would normally see on primetime. Who would believe in this stuff?

All this, and the US still has a tariff war against Canada.

Franklin Roosevelt was quoted saying, “I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.” There seems to be tough times for Canada ahead, but at least when it comes to international politics, we appear to be doing good.

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Putting a Face on Creepy

Dead_Rabbit

I’m not a big fan of conservative politicians in general, but I find what’s happening to Tony Clement a tad unfair. Setting the hypocrisy of being a conservative, married politician fishing for young women online aside, I think people forget that he is a victim in this as well.

To recap Tony Clement, was caught sending lewd messages and inappropriate nudes online after it was learned that in at least two occasions, he has been extorted by people pretending to be willing adult recipients. Later, several surfaced and detailed Tony Clement’s behavior and calling it creepy. Apparently, he’s looking for extra-marital trysts with young women and would often boldly “like” women’s sensual pictures on Instagram, sometimes deep-diving into a user’s history of pics and liking them. This, apparently, is “creepy.”

Well, let me try defending a creep.

First off, I believe he should be disqualified for any leadership position, not for any of his behavior, but simply because he lost the confidence of his peers. Tony Clement is first and foremost a politician, and regardless of how unjust the way he lost his political influence and became toxic, you cannot have a leader which others would not want to be associated with. It is all simply politics. It has nothing to do with ethics, morality, or hypocrisy. No one would want him in the room. That’s not a leader.

Second, I believe that the “sin” of cheating on his spouse is solely between him and his wife. Anthony Weiner’s repeated escapades never really bothered me. I thought he was a good politician despite his crippling addiction to sexting. It wasn’t until he got caught for inappropriate communications with a minor that I got off the bandwagon. No one really knows what was happening in his marriage, no one except him and his wife. For all we know, his wife might have been okay with the whole thing. We can’t call it a sin if it isn’t a sin in their eyes. I can’t really judge what Tony Clement did to his marriage since we really don’t know what the nature of his marriage was at the moment. We can judge it for hypocrisy, yes, but it’s very difficult to call it a betrayal when we’re not privy to his marriage.

Just recently, 700 Club’s Pat Robertson proclaimed that viewing pornography is adultery. That is him judging everyone else’s marriages, marriages that he has no idea what the husbands and wives are okay with. I wouldn’t want to be like Pat Robertson and make assumptions on Tony Clement’s marriage. For all we know, his wife was okay with him messaging women. Maybe she thought it harmless. Men and women do things that others might consider infidelity but their partners are okay with. I’m sure many of the men who go see strippers have wives at home who are okay with that occasional behavior. Turning a blind eye to such activities is sometimes a pillar to many marriages.

And speaking of harmless, deep diving into someone’s Instagram gallery is harmless. It truly is. When a person’s pictures are out on the web, it is there for everyone to see. The harm or the “creepiness” that Tony Clement did was leave evidence. He let the women know that, yes, he did look through their pictures. He “liked” several of them. People are pretending that people, strangers, don’t do this. If your pictures are out there, people will look through them. Men do it. I’m sure women do it too. What Tony Clement did however is that he brought a face to that stranger looking through women’s Instagram history. He made the invisible stalker visible. Now, perhaps it was boldness on his part, or perhaps it was him simply being inept with the platform, but let’s not pretend that what he did was especially creepy. People do what he did all the time, they just don’t boldly “like” the pictures.

As for sending lewd messages and pictures, I don’t see anything wrong if it’s between consenting adults. As far as I could tell, the pictures he sent were towards consenting adults. And I could be wrong, but I haven’t seen any stories of him harassing women online by constantly messaging them. Sure, he would comment on people’s selfies and perhaps annoy, confuse, or make them feel a bit weird, but I don’t think that’s necessarily harassment. It’s weird and unusual, but he wasn’t on a campaign to menace people. It sounds more like he’s inept, if not socially then in terms of technology and security. Some of the women who have surfaced post rather sexy material online and appear to be open to online admirers. I am not placing blame on them for being harassed nor am I conceding that what Tony Clement did to them was harassment. But if total strangers online can make comments about a person’s half-naked pictures, why is it so wrong for a famous person to do so? Does it depend on the type of person who liking the pictures? What if it was some more attractive Hollywood celebrity instead of a conservative Canadian MP? And I don’t really buy into the fact that there is an unfair power dynamic since he is a famous politician. In fact, the recipients of the “likes” and messages had more power over Tony Clement since they were in position of what could possibly be embarrassing and politically damaging for anyone in government.

Again, Tony Clement is a victim of extortion. Let us not forget that. He is still being sex shamed after being a victim of what is comparable to revenge porn. He has made some women feel uncomfortable online, but he has not broken any laws. Everyone needs to calm down on the schadenfreude over his downfall.

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On Wonderful Canada and Much-Needed Marijuana Legalization

Triangle Man

Congratulations to Canada for being sensible enough to finally end senseless marijuana prohibition. Most people who have had experience smoking marijuana know that it is much less dangerous compared to drinking alcohol. I remember back in university, one of my first presentations in sociology class was about the how smoking marijuana and the US’ war on drugs have created this unjust more against marijuana despite the fact that alcohol, which is completely legal, can cause aggression and is involved in roughly half of all murders, rapes, and assaults. Compare that to marijuana. When was the last time you saw an aggressive person high on marijuana? It can cause a bit of paranoia, of course, but more often than not, its sedative effect is the most common experience.

I think most people who want access to marijuana in Canada already had access to it prior to legalization. It’s not that difficult finding marijuana in Canada. I remember back in university, marijuana tends to find you instead. The problem with marijuana is its legal consequences and how that affects people. Fortunately, Canada is planning to release and perhaps clear the records of felons caught with a certain amount of cannabis. However for some, it may be too late already.

People sometimes say that marijuana is a gateway drug. You start with marijuana and you move on to more potent illegal drugs. However, I saw how the prosecution of marijuana possession is the gateway to more serious crimes. One of my best friends in school tried selling and even growing marijuana when we were in high school. I remember he even asked me for advice for effective growing methods, but what do I know? Anyway, he was caught with possession or with possession with intent to sell and was sent to juvenile detention. I was already in university at the time and was spending time with a different circle of friends. I did hear from him and about him occasionally and learned that he later got involved with harder drugs, manufacturing methamphetamines, and even breaking and entering. The last time I saw him, he was out in a rough part of town, looking worse for the wear.

Even with marijuana being legalized, it would have still been illegal for him to be possessing drugs at such a young age, but both the stigma and the allure won’t be there since the drug would be legal. It would almost be akin to hiding a pack of cigarettes. But I believe his detention got him in the wrong path, not the drugs itself. He wasn’t poor back then or anything. He was raised in a middle-class household with both parents. It was simply the allure of drugs that got him in. Compare that to the rather mundane allure of legal cigarettes and alcohol to young teens.

And that’s just with teens. I know someone with a suspended sentence for possession of marijuana, not for recreational use but for her cancer-stricken husband’s medical use. With legalization, there would be less stigma and no more need for unintended grief for those who need the drug. It’s good to have a bit more sensibility in the current world where more and more things seem to stop making sense as the days go by.

Well, hopefully with legalization and taxation, there will be a growth in industry and government revenue across Canada. This will also hurt gangs and the illegal drug trade since one of their cash crops has now effectively become public domain. And with the wide availability and the proper monitoring by the government, hopefully people would not have any need to find and experiment with stronger drugs. If anything, I expect Canada to become more of an attraction to our southern neighbors. I remember occasionally finding young American crossing the border on their past their 18th birthday in order to legally drink alcohol, party in bars, visit strip clubs, and take advantage of the relatively low Canadian currency. If cities and the government play their cards right, we might just become North America’s Netherlands.

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On Khashoggi and Distractions

Aquarius

I never thought I’d ever see a live minstrel show in my lifetime. But that’s exactly what Kanye West did in the oval office in front of Donald Trump. He performed as a “black supporter,” a minority supporter whose years where he was hailed as a celebrity and an icon by the black community would be weaponized to delegitimize all complaints against the Trump administration. “Maybe Black Lives Matter and Colin Kapernick are just over-reacting! Kanye West, a prominent black celebrity, is out there hugging Donald Trump. They must not be well-versed on the issues as much as Kanye, the genius that he is.”

What’s shameful is that they let Kanye just go around and hurt himself by letting him speak nonsense. Doesn’t he have relatives or people that care about him? Doesn’t he have anyone to tell him that talking about multi-verses in the oval office in front of cameras make him look like a fool? Why are they letting him advocate prison reform specifically for one person, who is probably one the least-deserving of presidential pardons out of the millions of people locked up in the US? Is Donald Trump so desperate for black friends (and celebrity friends) that he would willingly exploit someone who clearly needs help? Kanye’s rant in SNL a couple of days ago was embarrassing. He held everyone hostage while he indulged in his narcissistic lectures. Trump just magnified that a thousand times and turned the whole country into SNL.

Kanye West is a distraction, a disgrace, and dumb moron. Call him a musical genius if you want, but don’t forget to include “musical.” Being called a genius in one field doesn’t give one carte blanche authority on every other subject.

Long live Taylor Swift.

Saudi Arabia is out of control. The presumed assassination and disposal of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is the stuff of mafia movies. The United States is now getting a taste of what Saudi Arabia did to Canada a few months ago. Fortunately, we have a leader who is willing to stand up against Saudi Arabia. As for the US, Trump said it plainly, the Saudis are buying way too many weapons for the US to be concerned about one presumably dead journalist (who is just a US permanent resident, not a citizen). It is disgusting.

I said it before. MBS is Kim Jung Un with oil money. He behaves the same way as Kim Jung Un. The only reason why he is not ostracized by other countries is because of his country’s oil wealth. He is no reformer. If anything, he appears to be more dangerous at his young age than his predecessors. And unfortunately, with Trump unwilling to go against Saudi Arabia, this reckless behavior will only continue to escalate.

In a few weeks, people will forget about Khashoggi. Even in this page, I wrote about the distraction of Kanye West before I wrote about Khashoggi which arguably has greater consequences in the future. There will be greater distractions, and people will focus again on hating Iran instead of the Saudis. The US and the rest of the world will forget and let the Saudis do whatever they want. After all, if they can get away with 9/11, what’s that compared to one missing journalist.

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Madam is a Bigot

Strawberry

Ugh… when someone complains about the cost of housing/helping refugees. Don’t bother entertaining that question. It is a talking point as old as time usually aimed at immigrants. It’s been adopted by white supremacists. This “economic anxiety” is just fluff for what is basically racism. It was economic anxiety that got Donald Trump elected to the White House. However, this same “economic anxiety” does not surface when it Donald Trump wants a space force, an expensive military parade, and increased military spending. His supporters only seem to be “economically anxious” when it comes to issues which affect minorities and immigrants.

So as innocent as that lady might be when she questioned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about where the money to assist refugees will come from, she is parroting a talking point that has been historically used to attack minorities and immigrants. It’s bigoted and racist. That is not to say that Canada should mindlessly bear the cost of helping all refugees out, but when it’s your first complaint, the one you heckle the leader of the country with, then I begin to judge your motives and intelligence. Canada is not a poor country. It’s not the richest country in the world, but we are not starving either. We can afford to help those who are desperately fleeing deadly situations in their home country. We can do this.

A few days ago, I came out of Seoul Station and heard festive drumming. There were drummers set-up in front of the station with seats for the audience and everything. It was pretty elaborate and the whole thing seems to have been well organized. It was a really festive mood. But ironically, it was organized by a group that wants to block refugees coming to South Korea, particularly the 500 Yemenis applying for asylum. The people who want the refugees out were channeling Trump. There are talks of immigrants taking advantage of the system, and that they are not really refugees. And these are the more civil talking point. Others on the Internet simply say they don’t look like Koreans or are scary. There’s a growing concern that the influx from a few hundred applicants ten years ago to about 10,000 asylum applicants this year point out to massive fraud, but it could also mean that the world continues to be a hellish place to live for some people. Or perhaps it shows how Korea has become more attractive to immigrants and refugees in the international stage.

A lot of the anxiety stems from Jeju Island, with many of the Yemeni asylum seekers being there due to its visa-free policy. I suspect this is also fueled by the growing angst against Chinese investors buying up property, coupled with the influx of tourists in the past couple of years. What’s disappointing is that aside from the usual racism, Islamophobia, and accusing foreigners of being involved with drugs and crime, the country’s #Metoo and feminist movement seem to have allied itself with the anti-refugee crowd as well. #제주도여성실종사건 (“Missing Women in Jeju-do”) was trending on Twitter last month, with the disappearance of six women being blamed on refugees. Again, there is no evidence that directly links refugees to the actual five missing women (rumors made it six) and it seems to echo the anti-refugee sentiments in Europe, with people saying that they are a danger to women. It also bears mentioning that foreigners in Korea as a group commit fewer crimes than the rest of the Korean population. This fervor reminds me of events a few years ago when there was a spate of students molested by their Korean teachers. Some were covered up, while others were simply fired. This created a bit of an uproar, but instead of addressing the problem directly, lawmakers decided to make it mandatory for foreign teachers to have AIDS test in order to get their visas. Ignoring the implication that foreigners have a higher risk for AIDS and that they should at least be AIDS-free when they presumably have relations with students, not many people batted an eye when this “solution” was made into law. Blame the foreigners and minority for crimes they didn’t commit. It’s an old, lazy, but effective tactic. Unfortunately, it didn’t really make anyone safer.

And if you really want to go deeper in history, women’s safety has been used by the Ku Klux Klan to demonize black men: the brute caricature. Black rapists, white victims.

Economic anxiety, women’s safety… these have all been incorporated by hate mongers to demonize foreigners and minorities. When it comes to talking about refugees, it is simply racist to address these things because a cursory search in the Internet will show how these talking points have been used repeatedly to demonize people. The coming of foreigners has never resulted in the collapse of a country’s economy and the pillage of women unless you look at colonialist history. European settlers ravaged the First Nations. Columbus and his men raped women and sold people as slaves. It was the First Nations that should have felt concerned about their economy and women’s safety. People don’t need to worry about these things when it comes to refugees. The last time I checked, Germany is still a pretty rich country despite taking in so many refugees. And as for crimes, it has the lowest crime record since 1992. So yes, going back to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, that woman was talking bigoted bullshit.

I’m not saying the woman is evil however. She’s simply misguided on the issue. She could be the best mother, daughter, sister, or whatever… but when it comes to the refugee issue, she is a misguided bigot. A couple of weeks ago, a Korean man hurled some racist sentiments at me. The person I was with tried to defend me, but I told her to let it go, and I tried to move on from the situation. Now, as progressive as this person might be in defending me against racist attacks, this same person later tried to convince me of the problems with “fake refugees” coming in to Korea.

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Mohammed Bin Salman is a Fraud

Squidy

If an insect bit you, it committed what could be considered a crime against your person. It attacked you. Aside from being an irritant and bringing a general feeling of disgust, knowing that a six-legged creature that normally dwells in moist, dark, quarters brought its fangs to pierce skin, who knows what sort of diseases the creature has wrought with its violence. So what does a person do? Most people would quickly kill the insect with a strike of a palm or with a rolled-up newspaper. Others would swat the creature away, blame the act on its instinct or other innocuous causes and just move on. Afterwards, perhaps do something to prevent being bitten again.

A child however would sometimes be cruel. They would mete out punishment by slowly torturing the poor creature. Perhaps they would tear its limbs out one by one, or maybe slowly burn it with a magnifying glass.

This is how the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia does justice. It crucified a person in public in the holy city of Mecca. Though rare, it often uses capital punishment for crimes such as anti-government activism and homosexuality. It is abhorrent. As much as the west hates on ISIS and how violent they can be on what they perceive as transgressors, Saudi Arabia sees them eye to eye on many of these issues.

Canada recently sent out a couple of tweets calling out Saudi Arabia to release the activist Samar Badawi and her brother who were both arrested for speaking out against the government. Samar Badawi is famous for leading the fight for women’s rights in the country. She spoke out against Saudi’s guardianship system as well as advocated for women’s right to drive. Now, I’m not a big advocate for diplomacy via Twitter. It is a clumsy tool, and diplomacy is anything but clumsy. When Canada sent out those tweets, it publicly shamed Saudi Arabia for what it’s currently doing in terms of human rights.  And while they do deserve public shaming, I don’t think public shaming is something that diplomats should do.

But if Canada committed an error in publicly shaming Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia acts exaggeratedly by calling it an “attack on the kingdom,” what do you call their tweet in response? Didn’t their message with an Air Canada plane headed towards the CN Tower explicitly threaten a terrorist retaliation against Canada? Did it also not implicitly admit to being responsible for the attack on 9/11? And again, this was just a response over a call to release activists fighting for human rights. Don’t speak up for human rights or else we’ll send terrorist planes your way? Canada is dealing with a child.

And this child is aiming to hurt Canada through education and future investments. Cutting off current trade doesn’t necessarily impact Canada tremendously, but removing Saudi students from Canadian universities and cutting off future investments could hurt Canada in the long run. I’m glad that Canada doesn’t appear to be showing any signs of backing down from its stance, but I really hope other countries join us in standing up against this evil government.

Mohammed Bin Salman is not a reformer. People need to stop saying this. He is a young leader who inherited his position. Much like North Korea’s Kim Jung Un, he got infinitely lucky in the birth lottery. And while he tries to create a progressive Saudi image by having more foreign investments and recently allowing women in the country to drive, he fights Qatar, kidnaps the Lebanese Prime Minister, and arrests and holds hostage the country’s rich and political elites in an attempt to consolidate power. The country continues to crack down and arrest its own people for simply erring grievances against the government. It continues to punch down on Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the region, creating its own humanitarian crisis (I don’t know if Saudi Arabia has ever had to punch up in a military conflict). Mohammad Bin Salman is not a true friend of the west. He is Kim Jung Un with oil money. Saudi Arabia is attacking Canada as a warning to all other western countries who would choose to criticize the kingdom for its domestic and international abuses. Instead of military threats, their government will use their purse strings to punish other countries. They save physical violence on their own people as well as weaker countries.

As for the criticism that Canada should stick its nose to where it belongs, Samar Badawi’s brother is Raif Badawi, an author and an activist himself. Like his sister, he was arrested for his anti-government activities and sentenced to ten years in prison and 1000 lashes, fifty of which he has already received. His wife is a Canadian. The Canadian government is looking after its own. But even if this wasn’t the case, it should be the responsibility of every rational government to speak out when one of its allies or partners is violating human rights. A true friend and ally would want its allies and friends to be better. If you see your brother pulling out an insect’s legs one by one, you’ll put a stop to it and teach him a lesson about cruelty and kindness. This is what Canada did. And for that, we just got threatened with a 9/11 attack.

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A Twist!

ThomasDArc McGee.jpg

I saw the movie ‘Wind River’ a few days ago.  The movie piqued my curiosity when I saw Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen starring as leads. I thought it quite unusual to have two actors who are featured in the Marvel Avengers franchise work together in a totally unrelated film. It seemed a tad distracting.

The movie was surprisingly decent. It was a murder mystery, although the mystery was fairly straightforward. And although the film was set in Wyoming, the wilderness and the issues regarding Native Americans echoed those of Canada’s First Nations’, particularly the way the government often has a lackadaisical approach to their problems. The film makers didn’t portray Native Americans as cartoons either. They portrayed them as real people with real concerns. The film’s focus in particular happens to be one that haunts my hometown as well, the victimization and disappearance of Aboriginal women and how authorities and society in general seems to not care about them. The RCMP doesn’t often put too much effort finding missing Aboriginal women despite the number of reports. A more comprehensive report on the violence that Aboriginal women suffer can be found at the RCMP’s own website.  It is silly how there would be days of news coverage for missing women of other ethnicities but most Aboriginal women don’t get much coverage should they ever disappear. So with all of this in mind, I was quite pleased by how the movie seemed to focus on this issue. Although a couple of instances with the male gaze was a tad inappropriate and unnecessary.

The whole thing didn’t play out like a typical theatrical release. It seemed to be more suited to something I would watch on television as opposed to the big screen. The mystery was not that complicated either and there was so big twist in the end, so the story was not that memorable. Or so I thought.

As the credits rolled, there it came in bold letters: Produced by the Weinstein Company.

That was a twist of M. Night Shyamalan proportions. A movie that champions the plight of women, particularly of Native Americans who are often marginalized, bringing them to light much like the #Metoo movement has brought to light abuses not just in Hollywood but in many places in the US and around the world… that movie just happens to be a property of the same monster that victimized countless of women and whose actions inspired the #Metoo movement in the first place.

Bravo ‘Wind River,’ bravo.

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Hurting Americans

Buffalo

Tonight, Trump is going to hurt his supporters. The trade exemptions for Canada and Mexico expire tonight, and he is imposing a 25% tariff on steel and 10% on aluminum. Our prime minister already announced that we will impose retaliatory tariffs on American products. And we are not alone. Mexico has announced that they will be imposing retaliatory tariffs as well along with Europe. Things are going to be more expensive for Americans now.

It’s not as if Americans haven’t already been hurt by Trump’s dumb economic policies. China is now buying more soy beans from Russia and Canada as retaliation for the US’s actions. This hurts Trump’s core supporters, the farm belt. Couple that with his immigration policies which leaves many American farmers unable to hire workers in their farms. Harley Davidson, which is already suffering losses since the company’s image has steadily become quite passé, will now be suffering under tariffs, both in the materials used to manufacture the bicycles as well as in exporting them to Europe and China.

There are a few times when I’m proud of Prime Minister Trudeau’s actions, but him standing up to the American bully is a proud moment. It is unjustifiable for Trump to threaten a trade war when countries would do better helping each other prosper. The NAFTA negotiations are taking too long? Sure. But isn’t preserving good business relations worth the wait? What’s the rush? Where is everyone going? Do these American politicians have something better to do? His explanation of protecting national security and helping US industries are nothing but hollow words he was asked to repeat. Ask Donald Trump for more meaningful explanations and you’ll get nothing but repetitive bluster. Why impose taxes on German cars for example? How would hurting car manufacturers help national security? Wouldn’t that hurt thousands of Americans employed and partnered with the German company? I know all of his friends are driven around in German cars and they bear the brunt of such tariffs, but what about everyone else?

The thing is there is no such thing as an art of the deal. None. Donald Trump is an awful negotiator. The only deals that worked out for him are deals that benefitted him personally. It never works out well for his partners. That is something that all banks in the United States learned about him prior to him being president. But sadly, his voters don’t care about all of this. They prefer a leader who talks to them like children, pausing for applause and to repeat lines… lines which are getting quite tired by mid-2018. Seriously, why rail against Hillary Clinton at this point? They prefer a leader who encourages them to be hateful to women and minorities, a grown man who still hasn’t learned how to be decent.

So yes, good on you, Mr. Prime Minister Trudeau! Retaliate. Hurt the Americans. Hurt the people who made Trump a foul omnipresent specter in the media, political, and social landscape. Hurt the people who would drag us all back to much darker times. In these negotiations, it is best to follow the China model. We cannot lose face to the Americans. And though I have no animus towards Americans in general (they are one of my favorite people), I’m so sick and tired of seeing their worst have it their way.

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