Stephen Harper, leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, made a campaign pit stop in Winnipeg to visit YouTube-made star Maria Aragon.  She became famous for singing the song “Born this Way” which caught the attention of the song’s singer/song-writer Lady Gaga.  Gaga not only tweeted Maria’s video, but also brought Maria on stage at one of her concerts.

So the video is just a cute, but obvious, campaign ploy; similar to other past musical numbers Harper has been involved in, right?

The song Maria sings, ‘Born this Way’, has been hailed as the new gay anthem (Sir Elton John said the song would replace ‘I Will Survive’ by Gloria Gaynor).  As Maria sits next to Harper and sings the lyrics “No matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian, transgendered life, I’m on the right track baby, I was born to survive”, I couldn’t help but reflect at Harper’s history on gay rights.

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On September 22, pro-life activists in the US, Canada, Australia, England, Northern Ireland and Denmark began participating in the 40 Days for Life campaign.  This effort consists of “40 days of prayer and fasting for an end to abortion, 40 days of peaceful vigil in front of abortion clinics, and 40 days of community outreach”.

Pro-choice activists are trying their best to mount a counter protest, to what I would call a massive movement.

I’d like to share one of my own personal experiences as a Pro-Choice activist during the March for Life in Ottawa.  The March for Life is an annual pro-life rally protesting abortion; it took place in May.

Thousands of people swarmed the city for protests, demonstrations and marches aimed at limiting women’s control over their reproductive system. I remember it clearly as I was driving home from volunteering and I saw this mob carrying candles a few blocks from where I lived. At a stoplight, I read some of the signs and realized what it was all about. I quickly drove home and tried to figure out where the counter protest was being held. I found out that the next day, the pro-lifers would be holding a rally at parliament hill and that a women’s rights group was organizing a counter protest there. I immediately started to think of pro-choice slogans for signs.
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A few days ago, the Conservative government of Canada (led by Stephen Harper) indicated they were considering changing the lyrics to the national anthem in order to make it more gender neutral.  (Article)  However, just two days later they have decided there would be no change responding to the overwhelming negative response of Canadians. (O Canda Lyrics)

In my opinion, this supports my theory that Canadians, like most people, are not ready nor want change.  The human mind is so set in our ways that any kind of change, be it small or big, is viewed as a negative.

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Obama Speaking at Human Rights Campaign Dinner

Obama Speaking at Human Rights Campaign Dinner

Saturday, Obama gave a speech at a dinner hosted by the Human Right’s Campaign (a gay advocacy group) where he promised to end ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’.

I’ll believe it when I see it.

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In Canada, there is a legal debate going on.  The issue: Sentencing credit for pre-trial custody.  What this means is that if you are charged with a crime, time served in jail prior to the trial counts double toward your sentence.

Ex. A person is charged with murder and put in jail but (because of limited resources in the justice system) doesn’t go to trial for a year.  That means if he/she is found guilty, they will get 2 years off their sentence because of already spending a year in jail waiting for a trial.

The House of Commons in Canada (Conservative Party dominated) passed a bill that would get rid of this ‘pre-sentencing credit’ entirely.  But the secondary body of government, the Senate (Liberal Party dominated), altered it to give 1.5 days of credit for each day spent in custody.  Conservatives are outraged at this, calling it a ‘gutting’ of their bill.

Click HERE for the most recent CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) story.

Credit for pre-trial custody is a MUST in the justice system. It encourages people, who are innocent until proven guilty, to be processed through the court system promptly without delays.  Imagine being charged for a crime, and not having the ability to defend yourself for a year…or two! Having credits gives more incentive for the justice system to try accused criminals within a reasonable amount of time.

As for the criticism that this allows the defense to delay the case: well why not deal with that issue only? Why not give pre-trial credit up to the point where the crown is ready for a trial? Thereby any further delay by the defense would not count for credit.  But no, that would just make too much sense: tackling the root of the problem.

I’ve never been a big fan of the senate, and I’ve always supported the idea of senate reform. But today, I’m happy there is a secondary body to make sure that the House of Commons gets it right.

~Jalex

Related CBC Newstories: 1, 2, 3

Last year, Jan Buterman was removed from the Greater St. Albert Catholic school board’s substitute teacher list. Why? For telling the board he was going through a sex change. The school board is located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

This post is in response to the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) e-news article, which can be viewed HERE.

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From the visionary mind of director Sergi Perez comes a short film entitled Vestido Nuevo (New Dress), which tackles society’s strict rules on how gender should be expressed.  Here is the Spanish film (for links and the video without subtitles see links below):

Part 1:

Part 2:

Subtitles: Part 1 Part 2 No Subtitles: Part 1 Part 2

(please watch film before reading further)

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