We live in a world where phone calls, text messages, photographs, or even who we are friends with on social media can be used as weapons against us.
This reality has never been more evident than in the way the SNC-Lavalin situation has played out. In fact, the entirety of Canadian politics has shifted towards weaponizing information against political rivals. But like all weapons, information can be used for good and for bad.
The Jody Wilson-Raybould recording should have not been surprising to anyone in today’s day and age.
I believe that Wilson-Raybould’s instinct was correct and the recording of Michael Wernick was a survival measure, meant to protect herself and even the integrity of Canada’s parliamentary system.
In my eyes, surveillance can be ethical, but only when conducted on the ruling class.
After Wikileaks notified the Western world that their governments were conducting mass-surveillance, we realized that nobody was safe from the peering “five eyes”, and that millions of Canadians were in their sights.
People in positions of governance should be monitored, not the other way around. Their spending should be tallied and audited, and what they say should be used against them when it contradicts their promises.
Despite being an underling to the Prime Minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould exerted a certain democratic power which only comes about when superiors are reminded that they are being watched by those they represent.
For a while, as a society, we were afraid that only the government had the capability to listen in and record the things we once said, now we have to watch our backs because anybody could be listening.
A new reality has set in, one in which our neighbours and any public online acquaintance has realized a newfound power over information.
However, there are bad actors out there, even in Canada, who are intent on using information offensively and for the most vile political purposes. One has to look no further than the way certain NDP directed and progressive outlets have handled the Alberta election and premier-hopeful Jason Kenney.
What does this political climate tell our children? It tells them: be careful what you say and trust nobody, even your former friends and colleagues might use your words against you.
Future generations of public servants and politicians are being incentivized towards deceit and lies. Honesty has become old fashioned, and it’s not only in politics, it’s apparent in the media industry as well.
Formerly respectable and honorable publications have become muckraking rags with the sole purpose of airing political dirty laundry intent on destroying people’s reputations and livelihoods.
New forms of bloggers litter the internet doxxing and keeping tabs on those they disagree with; anonymous twitter accounts are set up with the sole purpose of harassing and recording the every move of public figures and people with influence, hoping that they make the wrong step over the cliff of public approval.
In some ways, Justin Trudeau is a product of these times. He only answers in rehearsed lines, he has a carefully manufactured image and he is a very good actor.
These are the types of people who thrive in the culture we have created for ourselves.
I was born in Eastern Europe in 1995, only six years after the Romanian revolution in 89. It was a revolution which culminated in the country’s communist dictator, Nicolae Ceaușescu being shot alongside his wife Elena outside of an improvised courthouse after a two hour trial.
My older siblings started their lives under the repressive paranoia of Romanian communism and my parents lived nearly a quarter of their life within it.
Now, I’m painfully self-aware that the “we’re headed towards a full communist dictatorship” trope is often overused and beaten to death especially among those on the right but I think in this case it serves a valuable historical allusion.
According to Conservative estimates, the Romanian secret police, or “Securitate” (The Department of State Security) employed nearly half a million informants. In the 1980s, that would total nearly 3 percent of the national population.
Think of 30 people, and it was very likely that one of them was scribbling down notes about your daily habits and purchases. Perhaps it was your hairdresser, or the local friendly butcher who always asked about your family, in some sad cases it could even be your loved ones, it was likely that you would never find out before it was too late.
In fact, the Romanian secret police were so feared and revered, that even the USSR thought their methods were extreme.
By every definition of the term, Romania was a surveillance state. Informants were everywhere. People feared to say or think what they meant and it was a disaster for the national consciousness.
Perhaps Canada will go the same way, but it is certain that today’s climate of distrust and fragmentation will do nobody any good. It will only lead to suspicion and paranoia.
It will only lead to further surveillance and an erosion of trust.
On “Trans Day of Remembrance” this year, numerous politicians and celebrities used the occasion to virtue signal on social media. They repeated the claim-turned-mantra from LBGT activist groups that there is an “epidemic” of trans homicides motivated by transphobia and racism in the U.S.
Chelsea Clinton, doing what the Clintons do best, weighed in vapidly on Nov. 20: “Since 2013, more than 150 trans people have been murdered in the U.S., the majority Black transgender women. On #TDoR2019, we remember and honor the lives lost, hold their loved ones in our hearts and must commit to doing all we can to end this epidemic of violence and hate.”
Though the sentiment is valid, the claim she repeats is not. There is no “epidemic” of violent homicides against trans people in the U.S. How do I know? From data released by the Human Rights Campaign and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
I responded to Ms. Clinton: “The U.S. is one of the safest countries for trans people. The murder rate of trans victims is actually lower than that for cis population. Also, who is behind the murders? Mostly black men.”
Five days later, I was informed by Twitter that I had violated its policy against “hateful conduct.” For stating a verifiable empirical claim, Twitter determined that I “promote violence against, threaten or harass other people” based on protected characteristics. I was given the option of deleting the tweet and facing a timed suspension, or appealing the decision while remaining indefinitely locked out of the platform. I chose the latter option.
My appeal was rejected.
Twitter’s decision to force me to accept a false reality in order to use its platform is chilling to those who value truth above dogma, as uncomfortable as the truth may be. The dogma of our day is the trans ideology—an authoritarian worldview replete with science and evidence denial. Among many things, it claims that sex is a construct and that trans people are being hunted down across America
So far this year, there were 22 homicides involving trans or gender non-conforming people in the U.S. That number has held relatively steady since the HRC, America’s largest LGBT lobbying group, started releasing annual reports four years ago. According to the HRC, there were 26 homicides in 2018, 29 in 2017, 23 in 2016 and 21 in 2015. The HRC provides the most comprehensive data set for trans homicides in the country. The FBI does not release numbers of trans people who are killed.
Though every homicide is a tragedy and victims are due justice, lying about the scale is politically exploitative and reckless. It prevents the public from accessing real problems honestly in order to advocate for real solutions. Worst of all, it harms the very people who need protection.
The average homicide rate of cis males in the U.S. is around seven per 100,000 from 2015–2018, according to FBI figures. The rate for cis females during this timeframe is 1.9. The rate for trans homicides since the HRC began tracking in 2015? About 1.7. (This rate was calculated based on the 2016 UCLA Williams Institute estimate of there being about 1.7m trans adults in the U.S.)
For a developed country, the U.S. has high homicide rates. That is undisputed. But if the rates of cis men being killed isn’t spoken about as an “epidemic,” then neither should the rates for trans homicides, which is significantly lower compared to the cis population.
And while much attention is focused on the victims being mostly black trans women, no attention is given to the fact that the majority of known homicide suspects and convicts are also black. This intra-racial violence is consistent with other homicides in the U.S.
Additionally, there is no evidence to support the narrative that trans people are being killed because they are trans. The overwhelming majority of trans homicides involve victims being killed in the course of high-risk behaviours like street prostitution and drug dealing. Cis women and cis men involved in these activities face similar risks.
While it may feel good to earn praise by hiding uncomfortable truths, those who ultimately suffer in this instance are trans people themselves. They are told to fear people around them, that they could be killed at any moment and are helpless in the face of omnipresent hatred. This is not compassion or empowerment.
I’m now back on Twitter, but only because I was forced to accept that on this platform, a journalist will be punished for telling the truth.
Liberal MP gets Twitter lashed for wishing people 'great month of December!' instead of 'Merry Christmas!'
Editor’s Note: This article has been edited to include tweets from 2018.
Liberal Member of Parliament (Ontario, Hamilton East—Stoney Creek) Bob Bratina received a lot more comments than likes and retweets for his Twitter post wishing his constituents a “great month of December!” instead of a “Merry Christmas!”
On Sunday Bratina tweeted a holiday-neutral, first-day-of-the-month greeting to people in his riding, “Wishing everyone in Hamilton East – Stoney Creek a great month of December!”
By the end of Monday, the tweet had 307 mostly negative, mocking comments compared to three retweets and 18 likes, a phenomenon called being ratioed (when a post gets overwhelmingly negative comments, meanwhile receiving far less positive engagement and shares).
Some Canadians on Twitter had fun lampooning Bratina’s politically correct festive cheer.
Others just wished Bob a “Merry Christmas!”
Interestingly, Bob has previously happily wished others a Happy Christmas in 2018.
The response online is not a surprise as December tends to bring out the so-called War on Christmas, where politically correct politicians and other members of the chattering class become Grinches, attempting to excise Christmas from greetings and celebratory events in attempts to be “more inclusive.”
Last Friday a guest host on CTV’s talk show The Social suggested Canadians towns should change the name of Christmas or Santa Clause parades with “Winter” parades. A couple of weeks ago a US town erased Christmas from its festivities, changing the “Annual Tree Lighting” to “Frost Fest”.
Outrage on social media over a recent discovery that Amazon is carrying products that many people are appalled by–Holocaust ornaments. It was the Auschwitz Memorial and Museum who first raised awareness of the tasteless line of products which include a decaled can-opener dawning a picture of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp as well as Christmas tree ornaments that show train track leading into a camp’s entrance.
The Museum contacted the retailer and demanded such products be taken down from the website to which Amazon concurred. Shortly thereafter the Museum discovered more products including a computer mouse pad that displayed the freight cars used to transport Jewish people and anybody the Nazi’s considered to be “undesirable”.
The Museum, which is located on site in Auschwitz, Poland described the products as “disgusting” and “disturbing”. Amazon has confirmed that they will keep watch for such products in the future and have them taken down and in certain cases, have the sellers’ accounts deleted. This prompted a public response from the museum to thank Amazon.
However, since then more Holocaust products have been posted, despite Amazon’s policy that “All sellers must follow our selling guidelines and those who do not will be subject to action, including potential removal of their account.”
It seems Alberta is in for more cuts.
According to the CBC, Huskey Energy CEO Rob Peabody revealed on a conference call Monday that his firm will be cutting 370 jobs this year as it looks to reduce spending.
“What we’re seeing is that (the reductions) will generate forward savings of about $70 million … per year,” said Peabody, adding the company will take a charge against earnings of $70 million in the fourth quarter to account for the cuts.
“We’re going to continue those efforts to capitalize on the fact we’ve created a more focused and a simpler company.”
While these cuts will provide roughly $70 million in savings, overall spending for 2020 and 2021 will be cut $500 million due to worsening market conditions.
The split will be heavier in 2021, with over $400 million coming in cuts.
Huskey stock has fallen by over 40% in the last year.