What’s Normal Anyway?


by Roxanne Tellier

People are funny; they want their lives to be interesting and noteworthy, but most of us are good for about 24 hours of novelty before we’re pining for ‘the good old days.’

What’s ‘normal’ anyway? Normal is whatever you believe it is, in your mind, in your life, and in your world. Normal is ‘the usual,” “my regular,” the commonplace, the typical thing that you like to do or say or eat or whatever it is you do in your spare time; I’m not judging.

What it isn’t, is exciting. It’s waking up at the usual time, having my regular breakfast, and then going to work or play in the way I do on a typical day. It’s going to the same places over and over, because you like what they serve, and it’s where “everybody knows your name.”

Before we moved in January, normal for me would have been reaching out to touch the odds and ends that used to live in and on my missing bedside table. Where it’s gone, nobody knows.

But in the bigger picture, on a scale of one to earthquake, my life, and the life of many others, has been less than normal for some time.

We have just celebrated the second anniversary of the onset of COVID-19 regulations, worldwide. Though I’m not sure that ‘celebrating’ is how most of us felt when we thought about two years of fear, discomfort, and hand sanitizer.

Brides Magazine says that “The traditional second-anniversary gift is cotton, making this the prime time to splurge on upgraded bedding or a cozy throw you can use when snuggled up together on the couch.”

Sounds about right. That was pretty much all that anyone did for at least the first twelve months of the plague: overeat and binge watch Netflix. Remember those heady first days, when we all masked up, avoided each other, sterilized anything that didn’t wiggle away from the Lysol spray, and prayed for a vaccine?

In those first few months, that was normal. It was also normal for us to bang pots and pans every night around dinner time, to encourage those health care workers that were (and still are) literally sacrificing their own health to take care of us.

In January 2022, a load of frustrated truckers formed a convoy and honked their horns 24/7 to protest for what they believed to be their rights – which included their right to NOT receive a vaccine – and THAT became normal, for the poor souls in Ottawa who had to deal with what the Convoy wrought, bouncy castles and all.

Over the last half decade, we’ve normalized things which we could never have dreamed of having to deal with. In this I include the disastrous tenure of Trump; a poor beginning to the handling of a once in a century pandemic, and the subsequent whining once a life-saving vaccine became available; an attempted overthrow of the American government in January 2021, followed by something quite similar, if veiled under a web of candy flossed hot tubs, masquerading as ‘freedom’ while demanding a parallel overthrow of the Canadian government in January 2022; and then topped with a drizzle of a Russian attack on Ukraine, completely with threats of nuclear war, that sent many Boomers scurrying to find a school desk to cower under.

So what’s normal, exactly?

Many of life’s aspects, that we would have considered normal pre-COVID, have shown themselves to work for some, but not for others.  For a while, it seemed like people realized the importance of community and mutual aid. When we were all pulling together, it did seem like we might be working towards a better normal.

But then, one day, that spirit of working for the common good began to splinter; some leaned into science, embracing vaccines, eager to see a world where everyone could be protected from a virus, while others opted to refuse the serum approved for use by every governmental and health agency in favour of quack cures and unproven placebos.

That was a normal that I really didn’t see coming.

For the majority of North Americans, normal is a world in which we’ve normalized one set of laws for the rich and powerful, and another set of far more extreme laws and punishments for those who are not white, cis, males.

All over the planet, normal is women knowing that they have to dress and behave in approved manners, if they want to avoid being attacked for the crime of being female. And normal is knowing that, if they are beaten, or raped, they cannot be assured that their story will be believed, or that their attacker will face any consequences. Normal is police stations filled with rape kit tests that pile up in storerooms, but are never prioritized for analysis.

Normal is people of colour knowing that there is nowhere that they are completely safe from assault, even in their own beds, in their own homes. Even if they are fleeing from a war, normal is knowing that white citizens will be prioritized in the rush to safety.

Normal is a complete lack of action or attention to the future of a planet where the Arctic temperatures are now routinely higher than the temperature in downtown Toronto.

Normal is watching the world’s richest individuals get richer during the pandemic, while the world’s poorest individuals fell further behind.

What we call ‘normal’ today is what we have decided to call normal. It wouldn’t be normal in any other space or time, but it’s what we’ve become used to living in and with, in order to be part of our society.

The unemployment rate in the United States, at 3.8%, is the lowest it’s been in history. Canada’s rate is 4.2%, and has traditionally been higher than in the U.S. or Europe, mainly because we have a higher proportion of seasonal industries, as well as a higher proportion of population in smaller, more isolated communities.

No matter where we live, there are many who are very nervous about returning to life, as it was defined, pre-COVID. The pandemic and our isolation revealed that our routines of commutes, office work, water cooler small talk, and the like weren’t necessarily conducive to a better quality of life. We discovered that many of us – mostly white collar workers – could work from home, in less rigid conditions that allowed those with physical or mental issues the space to thrive.

This year, 47 million people, mostly millennials, have joined the “Great Resignation” in search of better careers, with higher wages, remote options, and greater flexibility. It must be noted that they are privileged to be in higher end careers; these options are not available for the bulk of those who labour in minimum wage positions.

But for those that have this option, they’ve discovered that time is too precious to spend commuting, and that they want to work for a company that is as committed to finding a work-life balance as they are.

We have collectively learned that the ‘normal’ we are returning to, may not be so normal after all. Some things we can change, but many broad social problems are simply beyond our grasp at this time. For social change to happen, we will have to find a communal force of will in which we all refuse to return to the harmful systems that were highlighted by the pandemic.

To do that, we will need to re-learn the art of working together for a common good.

If we don’t or won’t demand change, we will have wasted what might be our last great opportunity for a societal re-set.

World Class Bullies and Where They Live


by Roxanne Tellier  

Last week I wrote about local bullies, and those that terrorize the citizens that elected them locally and nationally. More often than we might have thought, those elected bullies, unsated by the billions they suck from their people’s coffers, opt to extend their reign indefinitely. When they do so, they morph from being barely restrained autocratic bullies, into full-fledged, unrestrained, dictators. 

Let’s look at a shocking reality: based on the definition of a dictator being a ruler of a land rated “Not Free” by the Freedom House[1], there are currently 50 dictatorships in the world. There are 19 in Sub-Saharan Africa, 12 in the Middle East and North Africa, 8 in Asia-Pacific, 7 in Eurasia, 3 in the Americas, and 1 in Europe.

From Afghanistan to Yemen, and 48 places in between, these monsters hold the power of life and death over millions of human souls. Dictators not only do not love the people that put them in power, they don’t even see their people as human. Men, women and children are just numbers to be juggled, creatures to serve them and to be subjugated.

Class of 2022

We can reel off the names of some of these men (and they’re all men;)  Putin, Xi, Ortega, Maduro, Kim Jong-Un, el Assad, Erdogan … what they all have in common is the need to not just dominate others, but to crush them, to own their very souls. They are cruel, world class bullies, who have perfected what they likely began in the school yard … insulting, hurting, threatening others who are weaker, smaller, less powerful and more vulnerable. They seek to destroy any vestige of freedom or pride in anyone who dares try to stop them.    

North America’s 24/7 ‘breaking news’ media has kept us soaking in the bullying actions of Putin as he wreaks hell on Ukraine. But even as we gaze upon the horrors of Mariupol being pummelled into dust, dictators around the world have not stopped their assault on their own people.

As The Atlantic said recently, in an article entitled, “Dictators aren’t Pretending Anymore,”[2] autocrats now openly steal elections, stage coups, and invade other countries.

In the February 2022 Freedom House report on the state of democracy in the world, they stated that the world has entered the 16th consecutive year of what the political scientist Larry Diamond has termed a ‘democratic recession.’

“Democratic institutions and civil rights deteriorated in 60 countries, with Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Tunisia, and Sudan experiencing especially precipitous declines. At the beginning of the democratic recession, about half of the world’s population lived in a country classified as “free.” Now only two out of every 10 people do, while four in 10 live in “partly free” nations like India, and another four in 10 live in “unfree” nations like Saudi Arabia.”

In most of the last century, the enemies of democracy embraced the use of political violence, seizing power at the point of a gun. However, in the last few decades, dictators have generally first come to power democratically, winning seemingly free and fair elections, which they used as a jumping off point to concentrate power into their own hands, and eventually manoeuvred into a situation in which they could no longer be removed from office by democratic means. 

In the last few years, however, there has been a return to violence, with the number of military coups worldwide jumping to seven. Over the past year, Myanmar, Sudan and Mali, military officers have used force to install their leaders into dictatorship positions.  

The slow weakening of democratic norms, the slide into ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative reality’ has allowed those in high positions to kick away the illusion of a democratic legitimacy, and behave as ruthlessly as they wish. Laws meant to stop powerful people from abusing their power and authority have been so attacked and bowdlerized that it is increasingly unlikely that, even in a democracy, any elected official need fear an overlong prison sentence, if a sentence is given at all.

As we witnessed on January 6, 2021, social media worked alongside former president Trump and his enablers to ramp up allies when they attempted to overthrow the results of the free and fair 2020 election. More than a year later, Trump is preparing to run again, in 2024, despite laws that forbid anyone who was involved in an insurrection from seeking public office. And if he’s elected again, the path will be clear for him to ascend to dictatorship in the United States.

(*Section 3 of the 14th Amendment prohibits anyone who has violated their oath of office, by engaging in insurrection or aiding in a rebellion, from running for federal office.)

Canadians had a near miss this January with another sort of coup, an epidemic of full-scale bullying, when the Trucker Convoy blasted and blared their way into the news, and the downtown heart of Ottawa, with a headline concern of “Freedom” and a much longer manifesto that demanded, in small print that their supporters would never read, that all of the current federal government step down and be replaced with a governance of their convoy leaders’ choice.

These attacks on democracy are far too close for comfort. The enemy is not just on your wide screen, the enemy is at our gates. 

Putin has attempted to keep NATO and other countries friendly to Ukraine at bay by holding the threat of nuclear war over our collective heads. Many fear that appeasing his appetites at this time will merely sacrifice Ukraine, while enabling him to then continue gobbling up the rest of Europe. Certainly, it would appear that he is determined to win at any cost.

In June 2020, Putin signed a decree—the Basic Principles of the Russian Federation’s State Policy in the Domain of Nuclear Deterrencethat specifies two conditions under which Russia would use nuclear weapons. The first is unsurprising: “The Russian Federation retains the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of nuclear weapons and other types of weapons of mass destruction against it and/or its allies…” But that sentence ends with an unusual statement: “… and also in the case of aggression against the Russian Federation with the use of conventional weapons, when the very existence of the state is put under threat” [emphasis added].

In his February 24 speech, Putin echoed that unusual language to describe his Ukraine invasion.  The United States, he claimed, was creating a hostile “anti-Russia” next to Russia and in Russia’s historic land. “For the United States and its allies, it is a policy of containing Russia, with obvious geopolitical dividends,” he said. “For our country, it is a matter of life and death, a matter of our historical future as a nation. This is not an exaggeration; this is a fact. It is not only a very real threat to our interests but to the very existence of our state and to its sovereignty” [emphasis added]. Putin has defined the current situation as one in which, in line with the principles of its deterrence policy, Russia retains the right to use nuclear weapons.” [3]

That’s some world class bullying, right there.

But does all of this sabre-rattling lead to the conclusion that the only way to stop a bully is with a bigger bully?  That would depend on how we define our systems of justice.

Post World War II there were consequences for Hitler and his party. But the process of the Allies seeking justice in response to the atrocities of Nazi Germany were intended to establish a precedent that they hoped would prevent war crimes from ever occurring again. We’ve seen, in Putin’s criminal actions in the Ukraine, that the rules and laws will not stop a determined warmonger.

Nonetheless, democratic systems of justice, and criminal sanctions are not bullying; they are the way societies are governed, in order to protect all members of nations.

Without a crystal ball, I cannot say what will happen next in the Ukraine/Russian war. I do feel though, that whether we are ready to admit to it or not, we are already part of the launch of World War III.

“As Russian troops advance toward Kyiv, democracy is no longer the only game on the global stage. And so the coming decades won’t just pit democracies against autocracies in key territorial battlegrounds like Ukraine. They will also pit the defenders of democracy against those who blatantly reject the supposed decadence of popular self-determination in the sphere of ideas.” (The Atlantic, Feb 2022)


[1] https://planetrulers.com/current-dictators/

[2] https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/02/democracy-crisis-autocrat-rise-putin/622895/

[3] https://thebulletin.org/2022/03/read-the-fine-print-russias-nuclear-weapon-use-policy/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=MondayNewsletterPost03102022&utm_content=NuclearRisk_ReadTheFinePrint_03102022

The Age of Bullies : Part One


by Roxanne Tellier

Jodi, 2nd grade

As a child, my sister was often the target of bullies. Bullies sniff out the weak, the vulnerable, those who have already experienced the wrath of others. I spent a lot of my own childhood trying to protect Jodi from those who had nothing better to do with their time than to torment a shy, fragile, little girl.  

While I didn’t have much truck with bullies in school, once I was out in the work world, I quickly learned the Golden Rule; he that has the gold, makes the rules. Which meant that those who had better jobs, or more power in their position, could choose to use or abuse their underlings. I found it very hard to kowtow to people who were often not nearly as clever or capable as I was. Being a woman in the workplace last century was often an onerous, frustrating position. I’m sure for many women that it still is, in this century.

Eventually I chose to be an entrepreneur, to work for myself, rather than to work for others. It was just easier, being the boss. 

Generally, decent people are always trying to make situations work for everyone in a group. But whether you’re in the established business world, academia, the trades, or the arts, at some point, most of us will encounter grown up bullies who seem to thrive on making life miserable for others. Put a group of people together, and, sooner or later, someone decides they deserve a better, more special treatment than the rest of the gang.  

Some kids are just more aggressive by nature, but usually, bullies are made, not born. The behavior is usually learned very young, from an adult role model – a parent, a teacher, or a coach, for example – that is unable to handle anger well. A bully may have older siblings, who were bullied themselves, and so will bully a younger sibling to make themselves feel empowered. As a rule, a child learns to be a bully because he/she is not getting enough good parental attention, leading the bully to lash out at others for attention they need.

Grown up social bullies have poor self-esteem, although they’ll usually come across as narcissists with God complexes. They see the weak as contemptuous, and crave power and attention. They are unable to understand how their behavior makes other people feel, and simply don’t care about the feelings of others. They’ll dominate, play the victim, blame others, and never accept the consequences of their actions.

And that, in a nutshell, describes the political bullies that pull the world’s strings.

I first became interested in the stories behind the political news during the Stephen Harper Decade – he who was so convinced of his own infallibility and right to lead Canada that he literally rebranded the federal government the “Harper Government.” An excessively partisan break with tradition, and a slap in the face to the other parties that have helped shape Canada, taxpayers spent more than $85,000 in the first year alone of helping the Cons solidify their Golden Calf’s place in shredder history.

During Harper’s prime ministerial career, his bullying style attracted a lot of notice. The nature of his political discourse was belittling, contemptuous of the value of other political groups and ideas. By devaluing other parties, and brooking no collaboration with leaders with other input, he oppressed democracy in Canada, but so subtly that his enablers could paint Harper’s derision as simply ‘fighting back’ against his detractors.

Devaluing others is a product of insecurity, at best, and often grossly oppressive to the ‘out-group’ that is the target of the bully. When a country broadly paints another country as an ‘enemy,’ because of a warring history, or a current conflict, citizens pull together against a common enemy. But when that same contempt is expressed towards political equals, it becomes a form of bigotry, a marginalization of our own peers by denying or devaluing their abilities, and even their right to citizenship within their own country.

Harper regularly used bullying and open contempt in the attack ads used against opponents, from his slurs against Stephane Dion, then-Liberal leader in 2007, who dared to run against him, using ‘gotcha!’ video, and baritone voice-overs derisively asserting that “Stephane Dion is not a leader,” to his diatribes in 2008 against the sovereigntist Bloc Quebecois, whom he demonized as ‘the separatists.’    

And then, of course, there were the attack ads that branded Justin Trudeau as ‘just not ready,’ and a contrived ‘expose’ on young Trudeau’s participation in brownface makeup in an Arabian Nights themed event at the private school where he was a teacher in 2001.

I’m still hearing about that one from the Trudeau haters. There’s a fascinating 2019 article and investigation into that ‘scandal’ that was put together by Free the Press Canada. All signs seem to point to a high-level manipulation of information put together by powerful Conservative operatives.

When Harper was ousted from power in 2015, it felt like Canadians could finally take a deep breath of fresh, non-Harper air. But on June 7, 2018, one bully was exchanged for another when Doug Ford was sworn in as Ontario’s premier.  

Brother of bumbling Rob, Doug blew into Queen’s Park with a chip on his shoulder the size of the CN Tower, and a determination to make the city of Toronto pay for what he considered unfair treatment to brother Rob during his mayoralty. First off, and within what seemed like minutes of taking office, he was the first premier in Ontario’s history to use the Notwithstanding Clause to cut the number of Toronto’s city council – then in the middle of an election –  in half, an act of bullying so extreme that the City of Toronto appealed the law, arguing that it interfered with the rights to free expression and free and fair elections. (Follow up – the Supreme Court, in a split 5/4 decision, disagreed, on the grounds that the Charter Right applied only to federal and provincial legislatures, not to municipalities.)

Ford proceeded to throw his considerable weight around at Queen’s Park, ensuring that deep cuts to programs for Ontario youth, education, and health were passed, while ensuring that his long-time cronies found a friend in Ontario’s deep pockets and green spaces.

History will paint an interesting picture of Ford’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ford’s bumbling reign came on the heels of Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency, and people often noted their similar natures. Born to privilege, and convinced of their own special ability to lead, Ford’s bullying nature paled, however, in comparison to the vigor of Trump’s.

And if Trump, a master bullier and wannabe dictator, soared to loftier heights of mock victimhood and ‘fake news,’  his gilded First Lady left the world speechless when she announced her “Be Best” anti-bullying campaign, based on her belief that she was ‘the most bullied person in the world.”

Next week: World Class Bullies and where they live

The Right’s Woodstock Moment


by Roxanne Tellier

On the surface, what the Canadian truckers hoped to accomplish during their protracted occupation of the Nation’s capital was comprehensible. In the beginning, we, the audience, and they, the truckers and their camp followers, could take as the stated purpose of the convoy and protest a common ennui and a genuine wish to end the most onerous and rigorous of the precautions levied during the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

But even before the trucks had neared the rally points, word began to trickle out that the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) prepared by the civilian, not trucker, leaders of this posse had little to do with the effects of the pandemic, and everything to do with a covert, if barely legible, attempt to overthrow Canada’s freely elected democracy.

Most of the truckers and their civilian clingons bought into the broad strokes of the MOU, believing incorrectly that a demand that the Governor General and the Senate unite to dissolve parliament and remove PM Trudeau from power was as simple as having a magical number of people sign a petition.  

Had these signees paid attention during a civics class, or even taken an interest in how Canadian government works, they’d have seen that the GG and the Senate are political appointees, not elected, and don’t have the democratic legitimacy to dissolve government. But if the creators of the petition had told the petition signers that simple truth, they would probably not have been able to ask for donations (to the tune of millions) to make this magic a potential outcome. 

The premise and promise of forcing all levels of government to end any COVID-19 measures and eliminate vaccine passports, while simultaneously re-instating all workers laid off due to vaccine requirements, appealed to many hard core anti vaxxers. Drunk on the promise of having their delusions legally sanctified, they ignored the poison pills buried within the MOU, which called for the overthrow of the federal government.

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Trucker Convoy Jan/Feb 2022

The actual bulk of the statement set out a framework to effectively dissolve the government, and replace it with a “Citizens of Canada Committee,” composed of the non-elected Senate, Governor General, and a civilian group selected by the separatist organization, Canada Unity.

This committee would then dissolve and replace 155 years of continuous parliamentary rule, ending the federal system that ranks us as one of the world’s oldest democracies, and replace it with a committee of entirely unelected figures who would then “instruct all levels of the Federal, Provincial, Territorial, and Municipal governments to immediately cease and desist all unconstitutional human rights, discriminatory and segregated actions.”

This gang of noisy truckers had as their explicit intent the overthrowing of a democratically elected government. They maintained this position until the third week of the occupation, raising over $20 million dollars in donations on this premise, much of which came from other countries with a vested interest in seeing Canada’s democracy shattered, as this would then serve as red flags to any citizens of their own countries who might have illusions of seeking independence from autocrats and dictatorships.

In intent, if not in actual practice, this was meant to be a Canadian version of the January 6th American assault on the Capitol in 2021. The MOU was an attempted coup of our government, with the intent of replacing our elected officials with the unelected leaders of their choice, under the pretext of eliminating the constraints put upon the nation to keep us in the enviable position of being one of the safest places in the world during this once every 100-years plague. (The total death toll of the pandemic in the US stands at about 919,000, compared to 35,500 in Canada

“I see you got your brand new tin foil hat”

Oh yeah, and there was a lot of stuff in there about “God.” And freedom. And peace. And love. And of how their faith in their own immunity systems trumped all modern science. All they needed were some tonsured Hari Krishnas dancing through the snow drifts to complete the picture – the Right Wing, the Religious Right, and the Tin Foil Hat Brigade finally had their own private Woodstock!

The organizers of the convoy played skillfully upon the battered psyches of their followers. They pushed all the right buttons, empathizing with the loneliness, pain and frustration that so many had felt over the last two years, bathing their shattered illusions in hot tubs, soothing their tension in steamy saunas, and inviting children (and drunken adults) to re-live their childhoods in bouncy castles.  

The true puppeteers of the movement, the ex-RCMP, ex-military, ex-police, and political operatives of the separatist party, literally kept the peons at arms length, who were free to freeze in their idling trucks as they peed into juice bottles, while the leaders relaxed in luxury in nearby hotels, descending into the ranks to whip up new fervor, and more donations, donations in the millions, all streaming in from people who had suffered real or imagined deprivations over the last two years.

And when the people seemed to rouse, just a little, from the spell they were under, these leaders would inject new concerns into the original mess of pottage, reminding their minions of all the other promises that had been made and not fulfilled over the last decade or so; why had nothing been done about the water on native reserves that still ran murky? Where was the investigation into the missing and murdered indigenous women? Why did groceries keep going up in price while wages stayed stagnant? Where was their ‘buck a beer’ they’d been promised?

The anger, that had originally focused on mask and vaccine mandates now began to spill out in every direction. Government overreach! Economic inequality! Wealth gaps! No free daycare! And the flags arrived, popping up like crocuses in the spring – Confederate, Nazi, Don’t Tread on Me, and Trump 2024, all waving merrily in the February breeze.

Suddenly it was like the festival of Woodstock had married Festivus, the festivus for the rest of us, with the airing of grievances skipping cheek by jowl with the half naked, drunken, rowdy boys taunting the police like the hippies that once tried to put flower stems into the barrels of guns.

Reminder: that did not end so well.

And neither did this. But, thanks to our being Canadians, at least it did not end in bloodshed. Yet strangely, considering that our protestors were Canadian, it also didn’t end with us apologizing to the citizens and the police for the mess we’d made, and picking up all the litter either.

Despite many feeling that PM Trudeau’s decision to unleash the Emergencies Act (EA) was overreach, the choice did indeed finally allow enough police power to subdue and roust the not so merry caravan that had terrorized the nation’s capital, and its citizens, for nearly a month.

And, once the emergency was under control, the EA was revoked, just nine days after it had been invoked, when it was decided that there was no longer an emergency that could not be controlled by normal means, as the police finally had all the tools they’d need to continue to deal with unlawful protestors.

Photographer: David Kawai/Bloomberg

The Prime Minister said that the sweeping powers of the Emergencies Act were meant to be proportional, time-limited, and only put in place to deal with an ‘acute’ emergency. He added that the small pockets of protestors that remain across the country would continue to be monitored.

Let’s be very clear: The threat continues. We do see, whether it’s social media activity or people who continue to be focused on protesting, and perhaps illegally protesting, that we need to be monitoring,” he said.

PMTrudeau speaks Feb 23 2022

On February 20th, Bob Rae, the best Prime Minister Canada never had, and current Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations, tweeted:  

“A truck is not a speech. A horn is not a voice. An occupation is not a protest. A blockade is not freedom, it blocks the liberty of all. A demand to overthrow a government is not a dialogue. The expression of hatred is not a difference of opinion. A lie is not the truth.”

In September of 2021, voters had the option of voting for several parties, including the People’s Party of Canada, which, most notably, promised an immediate end to federal vaccine mandates, but said only that they would “oppose” such measures at the provincial level. The party scored just 4.94 per cent of the popular vote. Over 95% of Canadian voters backed the parties that supported some form of vaccine passport. The majority favours tightening the screws on the unvaccinated, not throwing open the doors to any new variant that crosses our borders, and fills our hospitals.

And yet … in this ‘woke’ moment in history, there are still some who remain on the fence about the fates of those that attempted a political coup, and held Ottawa and her citizens hostage for three weeks. Just the other day, I saw a comment on social media that asked if the situation could have been avoided, had PM Trudeau just ‘spoken to the truckers and explained that the vaccine mandates would be lifted by a certain time.” 

And perhaps, in some ersatz, BizarroWorld, Woodstock of the Right, there might be a democratic nation of politicians that would bow to the bullying and intimidation of large, gas belching, horn blasting, machines, draped in posters that alternated between calling for the death of, or the f*cking of, their duly elected leader, driven by owners of the same attributes as their machines …

But I really doubt it. No one’s that woke.

The situation might have been avoided had the drivers and camp followers of the convoy taken the time to inform themselves on the real motives behind the demands of the ‘spokespeople,’ who conned them into showing up with ultimatums that were not only impossible to grant, but that opened said drivers and followers to severe financial and legal peril, post convoy.

No, the opening up of discussions with intimidators using strong-arm tactics, who wish to re-write our constitution to cover their idiocy, was simply never going to be an option. You don’t negotiate with terrorists. As the U.S. discovered during their four years of diplomatic hell under trump, you don’t even say their names, never mind visit them and exchange pleasantries, unless you wish to elevate the actions of bullies to the level of actual world leaders. These kinds of creatures must never be seen to be the equivalent of elected officials, because they are not; they are wannabe dictators and autocrats.

The rich countries where people want to live, like Canada, are places where people can believe in the rules of law, standards of behavior, institutions, and the social and cultural conventions that make us feel that we are safe and secure. Rich countries are rich because the people AND the money are seen to be safe and secure.

These standards must be seen to be honoured, and those that seek to overturn them, must be seen to be punished, as a deterrent to others that might consider similar actions.

And yet, good, kind Canadians that we are, there are many who watched the sacking of Ottawa, and who are now having a hard time seeing those who were responsible for the havoc, receiving the consequences of their actions.

It’s possible that some of us watched the revellers enjoying themselves, and thought about all of the events that they missed during the last two years – the weddings, the funerals, the birthday parties and the dances that they didn’t get to attend. There may well have been a twinge of envy for some, who felt that they’d suffered all of the deprivations, but who now were watching what seemed to be the hedonistic event of the decade, enjoyed by some but not all. It’s only human to feel that way.

And it’s not wrong to be sympathetic to the plights of those who are now being held accountable for their actions. It’s very hard to see people – Canadians, just like us, who’ve had a rough time over the last two years – being penalized for doing things that they may not have thought were criminal at the time.

But these people were told, repeatedly, that their actions were harmful, and probably illegal. Those people that used their children as human shields, to prevent the police from advancing, or from entering their vehicles, did so willingly, even though these are actions that are considered ‘war crimes’ in most countries.

Some of the protestors left their homes and their jobs behind, in order to join what they chose to believe was a righteous cause, although their own holy books clearly told them that was not the case.

Many of these people were duped into giving of their time, their money, and potentially, their actual legal freedom. But they were adults, who had a choice to make, and chose wrongly. Yes, they were lied to. Yes, they chose to believe unreliable sources. But ignorance of the law is no excuse, and ignorance of the impact of your actions on others does not remove your responsibility for the consequences faced when your actions are finally judged, and found to be criminal.  

It’s hard to see people losing their jobs, their businesses, and in some cases, their freedom, when they are arrested and imprisoned for terrorizing so many people and animals during their three-week ‘rumspringa.

But, if we’re honest, this is exactly what we wanted to see happen, during those hellish weeks in February, when we were all glued to our tv screens, watching our police forces stand back, unable to move on the occupiers, with apparent impotence, and sometimes, even seeming to be giving aid and succor to these barbarians. We wanted to see the revellers held accountable. We needed there to be serious consequences. We wanted those consequences to serve as a deterrent to any people or parties that might consider a similar onslaught in the future. We didn’t want this occupation to happen then, and we never want it to happen again.

Yet now that many of these people will lose their jobs, be charged, arrested, and in some cases, have their lives ruined for what they’ve done, there’s a kindness inside most Canadians that will still feel sympathy, and even hold out a hand to help those that need it. 

That’s what being a Canadian is about. We are good, kind, decent citizens of a country that is struggling right now, in a fight to defeat a novel enemy. And for the most part, we have come together to do what is right for ALL of us, not just an entitled few.

We spent most of February glued to our screens, hoping for the best, fearing for the worst, spending our time and energy on one minority’s idea of “freedom,” only to end the month watching Ukraine’s people fleeing from an evil war criminal seeking to shatter their democracy and steal their real freedoms.

I hope that we, as a country, are wise enough to recognize the difference.  

Prayers for Ukraine and her people.

A Ukrainian residing in Japan shows a placard during a protest rally denouncing Russia over its actions in Ukraine, near the Russian Embassy in Tokyo Feb. 23, 2022. Pope Francis expressed “great sorrow” over the situation in Ukraine and called on Christians to observe a day of prayer and fasting for peace on Ash Wednesday, March 2. (CNS photo/Issei Kato, Reuters)

What Price Freedom and For Whom?


by Roxanne Tellier

The “Freedom Convoy” that converged in Ottawa on Jan. 28 began in response to the federal government’s move to require Canadian truck drivers crossing the U.S. border be fully vaccinated to avoid testing and quarantine requirements, but has evolved into a protest of all public health measures aimed at fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers say they will not end their protest until all measures are dropped.” 

Ottawa Citizen, Feb 13, 2022

A Canadian February is generally pretty ‘meh.’ Kids are starting to look forward to Easter holidays. Singles consider chancing a bit of skating or skiing in hopes of some ‘apres ski’ fun. Writers write articles about seasonal affective disorder, and string out a definition of the Danish word ‘hygge’ for 1500 words.  

“Freedom Convoy” counter-protesters blocked traffic at Bank Street and Riverside Drive in Ottawa Sunday, February 13, 2022.  Credit: Megan Gillis, Postmedia jpg

“When the government shuts you down, you get a warning and some financial assistance. They do express a degree of discomfort and regret. When Freedom Convoy shuts you down there is no notice, no financial assistance and you are supposed to shut the f up and support not working for the people who couldn’t work, which is you in the first place.” Georgia Herring, owner, Old School Mechanic Shop

It was around this time, two years ago, that the world turned upside down. My daughter had celebrated her Valentine’s Day birthday, and I was picking out some presents for my husband’s March birthday, which included a couple of live shows we’d never get to attend.

When the first lockdown went into place, it didn’t have a lot of effect on my life. I’m retired. I don’t get out of the house as much as I’d like, though I did used to really enjoy my long lunches with friends.

About a month into that first lockdown, after we’d heard that an old friend had contracted COVID 19 and died, I asked Shawn if he’d have done anything differently, before the pandemic, had he known what was coming. He didn’t think so.

See, most of us believe that whatever is going on now, in our lives, will go on always. We have our comfort zones, our friends and family, our routines, and, unless something drastic happens, we just keep on keeping on. We think that if things are going well for us, things will always be in our favour.

 “Abusing the freedom to protest government overreach to the point of ensuring more government overreach.”  Russ Boswell

The last two years taught us that everything we find familiar can all change in an instant.

And very few of us are happy with the changes that have come.

“Not going to lie folks. I would have taken 2 months more of the mandates if required for

our healthcare system, rather than over two weeks of this “occupation”.

Kayla Burgess, Stop the Ottawa Occupation 2022

There are some very bad people involved in what was billed as a “Freedom Convoy.” Very bad people indeed.

“Don’t think that the triad of Bulford, Quiggen and Marazzo won’t win this. They have the intelligence, the ruthlessness and probably endless funding and weapons. “

The group Police on Guard, formed during the pandemic, has endorsed the truck convoy. On its website, it publicly identifies more than 150 mostly retired police officers who are against government-imposed public health measures, such as vaccine mandates. More than 50 former Canadian Forces soldiers are also named on its site.

The organization says it has “boots on the ground” in Ottawa and has linked to YouTube videos of its members participating in the protest.

Security expert. Mountie. Soldier: Meet three men working with the ‘Freedom convoy’) Toronto Star, Feb 2022.

Furthermore, the leadership team for the protesters calling themselves the Freedom Convoy includes:

Daniel Bulford, a former RCMP officer who was on the prime minister’s security detail. He quit last year after refusing to get the vaccine and is the convoy’s head of security.

Tom Quiggin, a former military intelligence officer who also worked with the RCMP and was considered one of the country’s top counter-terrorism experts.

Tom Marazzo, an ex-military officer who, according to his LinkedIn profile, served in the Canadian Forces for 25 years and now works as a freelance software developer.“  (CBC.ca, Feb 9, 2022)

https://mrsbrittanybested.com/22/02/03/rotten-to-the-core/

This movement didn’t start on January 15th, 2022 when the Canadian Government imposed mandates on cross-border transportation drivers. It didn’t start on December 15th, 2021 when the Canadian Government announced these mandates. It started in February 2019, when James Bauder created the “Canada Unity” Facebook page. It had absolutely nothing to do with “mandates.” It had everything to do with trying to dissolve the Canadian Government. “

  • February 19, 2019 – James Bauder created the “Canada Unity” Facebook page
  • February 27, 2021 – Bauder made a Facebook status that said, “I’m creating a Canadian Federal Grass Roots Political Party.”
  • March 13, 2021 – Bauder created the Canada Unity website
  • August 23, 2021 – Bauder posted on his personal Facebook page that he would start a “Federal Unity Party” that would break from the monarchy, and make Canada a free and independent nation. He hoped to collect 350 signatures (out of a required 1000) to form a party. His goal was for a Spring 2022 start.
  • August 20, 2021 – Bauder posted on his personal Facebook page that he would start a “Convoy for Freedom”
  • October 1, 2021 – Bauder, his wife Sandra, and fellow Canada Unity member, Martin Broadmann, penned the “Memorandum of Understanding.” (M.O.U.) This is a document that called for the removal of the current government unless mandates regarding COVID protocols were removed. The M.O.U. states that if the current government does not meet their requests, they must be replaced, and that Canada Unity will have a say in who is elected. The M.O.U. is the grounds for their protest.
  • December 16, 2021 – Pat King, who is a founder of the movement, made a statement in a live stream that, “The only way this is going to be solved is with bullets.”
  • January 14, 2022 – Tamara Lich set up the “GoFundMe” account for the Freedom Convoy
  • January 15, 2022 – Lich invites B.J. Dietcher to ‘come on board.’
  • January 18, 2022 – Bauder goes on a live stream with Pat King to promote the Canada Unity website and to announce it as the official page for “Bearhug,” or “Freedom Convoy”                               

But, although a state of emergency has been called, the police must tread carefully. The protestors are desperately hoping to shift this crisis into a second phase, in which they can claim police brutality, a government overreach, a police state. To give their leaders these images, increasing disinformation and whipping up sympathy, would be irresponsible. The world is watching.

Dealing with a well-organized group with a plan to overthrow democracy takes time and strategy, not brute force. But Canada doesn’t have much time, now that the Ambassador Bridge siege in Windsor brought American attention to what the protestors are doing to the Canadian/American vehicle trade and economy.

The problem lies in how many of their most vocal supporters and followers are pawns, enticed into joining the ‘party’ by the idea that COVID, the hated mandates, nasty vaccines, and ugly masks would simply disappear, if we all just wanted it enough. To that end, the group has been given free food, hugs and money, parties with live music, hot tubs, saunas, even bouncy castles!

Bouncy castles? Why yes, for the enjoyment of the kids that have been brought into the occupation, to be used, sadly, as human shields. The cops can’t use tear gas or tear down shelters for fear of hurting the kids that might be inside. The presence of the children, who are often seen frolicking with their pets, is meant to soften the image of the occupiers. While some worry about child endangerment, especially as weeks drag on without comfy beds and baths for the little ones, other get a warm and fuzzy feeling at the image of these little displaced families.

NOT Canadian insignia

In Windsor on Saturday, veterans formed a line between the police and the truckers at the Bridge.  But on closer inspection, the uniforms, badges, and medals didn’t appear to be of Canadian military. 

Still, imagine the headlines and the social media frenzy if the police had employed violent tactics, like the use of tear gas, against the veterans and children.

The last few days have seen a seesawing of public opinion, with harsh divides between friends and families as mini civil wars began over which side was really on the side of right.

Two years of real and perceived deprivations, combined with long-held grievances against local, provincial and federal inaction over matters held dear, have provoked many into a frenzied response against their country.

It must be remembered, however, that the same people who claim that they are not free, have driven across the country unimpeded, camped illegally in their nation’s capital, and are still free this morning to set up mass breakfasts and entertainment, despite their insurrection and the unlawful occupation of these locales.

I love my country, but I fear for this country. A vocal minority has bullied a democracy, demanding the overthrow of their elected government, in order to replace it with themselves.

They are little fascist dictators in training, eager to burn down all that they could never begin to understand. Putin would be so proud of them.

This Week in Racism!


by Roxanne Tellier

When I was a kid, growing up in Alberta, I encountered precisely two black families. One family, that ran a boarding house near my school, had a little girl about my age. When I went to L’Academie Assomption, which was a private girl’s school, the daughters of football player Rollie Miles were the only students of colour. 

When we moved to Montreal, I became friends with a girl whose family was from Grenada; her mother played the organ at church every Sunday, and I loved to sing the grandiose high mass in Latin, so the relationship was mutually beneficial.

While there was a dearth of people of colour in my youthly travels, I can assure you that there were a lot of other groups of people that were abused and/or ridiculed in Edmonton and Montreal in the 60s and 70s. Whether you called it ‘prejudice’ or ‘racism,’ I never thought that the people other people bullied and censured had to be of a certain colour; it just always seemed to me to be about ‘us vs them,’ with the ‘us’ being the people in the majority.

There were lots and lots of immigrants, at that time, many of whom had come to Canada after WWII and the Korean conflict. There were people that ate food that smelled strange to my white nose, and there were people that practiced religions that were very different to the Catholic religion that was the norm in Edmonton and Montreal. And, in Edmonton, which back then, was still the land of ‘Cowboys and Indians,’ there were many indigenous people, whose mere presence would often inflame an old settler.       

In Montreal, as I later discovered was also true of Toronto, many of the immigrants were Jewish. It has often seemed to me that both cities had a love/hate relationship with these new Canadians. On the one hand, many Canadians had fought to bring freedom to these survivors, many of whom still bore the tattoos of their imprisonment. On the other hand, there was a tendency, then as now, for many to shun people that held different beliefs.

And ALL of the racist tropes would come into play, if a Canadian born, non-Jewish, person felt that their own rights were being overridden by these newcomers.

My experiences were not unusual for a white Catholic in those days.

Whoopi Goldberg, on the other hand, is a 66-year-old Black, American woman, born in Manhattan, who was raised Catholic.  She was born Caryn Elaine Johnson, but took on the stage names of Whoopi and Goldberg when she got into comedy as a young woman.

It is safe to say that her upbringing was very much unlike my own, if only by dint of her being born a Black American. That alone would have guaranteed that her experiences with prejudice and racism would be nothing like what I encountered as a White Canadian.

Whoopi’s been a host and a driving force on the television show “The View” since 2007. While it’s not a ‘hard news’ program, over the years it’s become an influential political talk show, according to a New York Times featured article in 2019.  

Whoopi’s take on issues have often been controversial. She defended Michael Vick’s participation in dogfighting as part of his ‘cultural upbringing,’ famously championed Mel Gibson in 2006 after he was caught drunkenly spouting antisemitic rhetoric, saying “I don’t like what he did here, but I know Mel and I know he’s not a racist,” and initially was a defender of Bill Cosby in 2015, when he was accused of multiple rapes. (Later she changed her stance, stating that “all of the information that’s out there kinda points to ‘guilt’.

This week, however, Goldberg got into some seriously hot water when she stated her opinion that the Holocaust was not based on race, but on ‘man’s inhumanity to man.’ She added, “This is white people doing it to white people, so y’all going to fight amongst yourselves.”

Although she apologized on Twitter later that day, she then went on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert that night, and reiterated that the Nazi issue was with ethnicity, and not race.  

“In the United States, physical distinctions between most Black and most white people have misled some into thinking that the American conception of race is somehow more “real” than the racial fictions on which the Nazis based their campaign of extermination. Applying the American color line to Europe, the Holocaust appears merely to be a form of sectarian violence, “white people” attacking “white people,” which seems nonsensical. But those persecuting Jews in Europe saw Jews as beastly subhumans, an “alien race” whom they were justified in destroying in order to defend German “racial purity.” The “racial” distinctions between master and slave may be more familiar to Americans, but they were and are no more real than those between Gentile and Jew.”  

Adam Serwer, The Atlantic, February, 2022.

On air the next day, Goldberg again apologized for the comment. But hours later, Kim Godwin, president of ABC News, suspended her from the show for two weeks, calling Whoopi’s remarks “wrong and hurtful.  While Whoopi has apologized, I’ve asked her to take time to reflect and learn about the impact of her comments.”

Forgive me if I found Godwin’s prissy little pearl-clutching pretty racist in itself. Toddlers in day care get time-outs. To hand a two-week, onerous, over-reaching time out to a 66-year-old Black woman DURING BLACK HISTORY MONTH…

I have no words. Or rather, I do. But few are printable.

(65-70% of football players are black. Only 1 in 32 football coaches is black.)

But the whole episode, which nearly overshadowed the very real racism of pro American football teams who have been neatly avoiding culpability for their dearth of black pro coaches for decades, did indeed get me thinking about the concept of race.

The very idea of ‘race’ is a relatively modern concept, and it all had to do with the distinction of ‘otherness,’ an attempt to divide people into groups in which one group enjoyed more wealth and/or power than another. It’s believed that the first stirrings of this type of divisioning followed the Moorish conquest of Andalusia in the eighth century, when the Iberian Peninsula became the site of the greatest ever intermingling between Jewish, Christian, and Muslim believers. At that time, colour was not the main concern.

“The concept of race has historically signified the division of humanity into a small number of groups based upon five criteria: (1) Races reflect some type of biological foundation, be it Aristotelian essences or modern genes; (2) This biological foundation generates discrete racial groupings, such that all and only all members of one race share a set of biological characteristics that are not shared by members of other races; (3) This biological foundation is inherited from generation to generation, allowing observers to identify an individual’s race through her ancestry or genealogy; (4) Genealogical investigation should identify each race’s geographic origin, typically in Africa, Europe, Asia, or North and South America; and (5) This inherited racial biological foundation manifests itself primarily in physical phenotypes, such as skin color, eye shape, hair texture, and bone structure, and perhaps also behavioral phenotypes, such as intelligence or delinquency.” 

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Fast forward to last century, when Hitler and his followers believed that Aryans were a ‘master race.’ Hitler actually issued his first written comment on the “Jewish Question” in 1919, when he defined the Jews as a race, and not a religious community. He characterized the effect of a Jewish presence as a “race-tuberculosis of the peoples,” and identified the initial goal of a German government to be discriminatory legislation against Jews, saying that the “ultimate goal must definitely be the removal of the Jews altogether.” (From the files of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Encyclopedia)

The Nazis defined those of the Jewish faith, whether they were practicing their religion or not, as a race, which was inherited from generation to generation.

In Canada, a regional white racism became controversial after a front-page Globe and Mail article, written by Jan Wong, argued that the term “pure laine” revealed a uniquely Quebecois brand of racism. In her article entitled, “Get under the desk,” written just three days after a mass shooting at Montreal’s Dawson College, she drew a link between all three school shootings in Quebec history, and the nature of Quebec society under its protective language laws.

Wong suggested that the three perpetrators, who were not “old stock French Quebecers,” were alienated from a Quebec society concerned with “racial purity.”

“Québecois has conventionally been used to signify the descendants of Québec settlers from France, the majority habitants of the province, who are otherwise referred to as pure laine (pure wool) or Québecois de souche (of the base of the tree, or root). However, the changing face of Québec’s increasingly diverse population challenges the privileged place of those French descendants and calls for a more inclusive notion of what it means to be Québecois or a Quebecer.“

Wikipedia

Wong was accused of “Quebec bashing, “with the column creating a public outcry in Quebec, and political condemnation from Quebec Premier Jean Charest, as well as from then PM Stephen Harper. The House of Commons of Canada unanimously passed a motion on September 5,2006 requesting an apology for the column.

Pure laine.” “Old Stock French Québécois.” “Racial purity.” These terms, although decried, were still frequently used in both English and French media. In 2007, the Taylor-Bouchard Commission included the recommendation that the use of the expression “Québécois de souche” be ended and replaced with the term “Quebecers of French-Canadian origin.” (Wikipedia)

At this point in world history, as we struggle with real and increasing assaults against democracy, have a looming threat of war in some of the very areas once devastated during World War II’s Holocaust, and continue to try to end a global pandemic, while juggling the spectres of climate change and rising inequality, the very idea of suspending a grown woman for her personal opinion on race seems ridiculous.

As someone with a platform, ABC had an option beyond the humiliating of Whoopi Goldberg. They could have left her on the air, where she would have continued to apologize, and the show could have had some interesting guests and sane discussions about racism, antisemitism, and the homegrown, white nationalist, terror groups who are gleefully jumping on this moment in time to further separate us all, regardless of our colours or creeds.

Instead we watched a television network head fingerwag at a mature, famed, black woman whom she deemed needed two weeks in the 28 day period of Black History Month to reflect upon her words.

In the 1980’s, sociologist Neil Postman said that television would eventually and inevitably impose limitations on the sophistication and variety of ideas that could be expressed on the medium. It would appear that he was correct to be worried.

It’s ironic, and yet so timely, that the cohosts of The View’s attempt to discuss the implications of a Tennessean school board’s decision not to require 9th graders to read the graphic novel Maus began with the possibility of the development of a rational argument before devolving into the very kind of cultural provocation that exists solely to sell ad time.

Stop LYING To Me!


by Roxanne Tellier

With apologies to Al Franken, I am utterly sick of Lies and the Lying Liars That Tell Them. Sick to death of the posturing, the gaslighting, the sneaky grins that escape their mouths when they think we can’t see them.

I am exhausted from having to watch the machinations of old men pretending to be young and strong, for an audience of increasingly ill-informed or misinformed citizens.  And I am stunned that America, for all it’s claims of might and right, is apparently unable to find a man under the age of 70, of either party, with the integrity, honesty, and moral vision to run in the 2024 election to lead a nation of 332 million citizens.

I am disgusted that Donald Trump appears to be getting away with committing, if not treason, then most certainly sedition, while his reprehensible party pearl-clutch and fail to hold him accountable for any of his heinous misdeeds.

I’m sick to death of watching a straight-faced Mitch McConnell utter his bazillionth BS-ery as he makes up twisted tales meant to frustrate the actual ruling party and to ensure that his ugly minority trumps America’s actual majority, and of watching Chuck Grassley stammer thru his false teeth about some arcane decision of 1866, of which apparently he was party to, that would disallow any Democratic president of ever installing a liberal Supreme Court Justice.  

I blaze with anger when I see the po-faced liars in the GOP who were privy to information about the January 6th insurrection, who may well have been instrumental in perpetrating the incursion, and who yet daily continue to mouth platitudes about the outcome of the 2020 election, who perpetrate the Big Lie, while they lie to themselves and their constituents that they are upholding their party, it’s former conservative mandate, and the Constitution.

And every single one of those liars is running again for another term. And may well win.

I cringe at the failure of nearly all social and terrestrial media, that regularly allows ‘both sides’ of any given event to be argued, rather than use their journalistic talents to investigate and make a proper pronouncement on the society they claim to be defining with their presence. They have failed to learn the most important aspect of journalism, which is that, if one party says it’s raining, and the other says it’s sunny, it’s not the reporter’s job to give both options equal time, but rather to get out the bloody door and see for themselves if it’s dry or wet outside.

I am still reeling at the twisted mis- and disinformation that has poured from nearly every nation as the deadly COVID pandemic pulsed out from wherever it originated, and insinuated itself into every square inch of our planet, twisting itself into permutations that have cruelly taken the lives of nearly six million humans. From its onset, those meant to be giving us the truth have been politically manipulated in an effort to make a virus do their bidding. Instead, the virus showed us that we are mere mortals, and it would do as it wished, regardless of our pleas. 

And, that lying from the people on high allowed this current climate of distrust and anger to form, preventing nations from truly dealing with the crisis properly, and ensuring that, in the end, man may propose, but God (and virii) will dispose.

I cannot bear that we are constantly being manipulated, used, and lied to by every social media app that we dutifully use to the point of addiction, and that there is little to no recourse when the apps turn against us.

“Everyone bitches about Facebook. But where else are its users supposed to go? Ditto re Instagram. And TikTok. And YouTube. Of course, there’s some crossover between all these platforms, but in many ways they’re unique. Whereas the similarities between Amazon, Apple and Spotify far outweigh the differences. You can switch platforms and not lose that much. Hell, Apple is now pushing that you can hear Neil on its music service. You don’t see some social media company doing the same, competing with Facebook.

So this is a test case. This is where the war is being fought.

It should be fought at Facebook. But because of the lack of competition and the hubris of Mark Zuckerberg, along with the duplicity and misinformation of Sheryl Sandberg and the rest of the execs, the company evades accountability and ultimately doesn’t change. As for change…it’s all algorithms, a secret sauce no one who doesn’t work at the company is privy to. And after the whistleblower, Facebook has been siloed, you can work there and have no idea what is going on at the company other than in your own vertical.

But we’ve got to push back against technology. We have to recapture truth from the techies who have taken it from us, knowingly or unknowingly.“

Bob Lefsetz, lefsetz.com

I’m revolted at the sight of Putin pushing his bare chest into the faces of Ukraine, NATO, and the world, capering like an over aged, over the hill, wannabe satyr who denies he’s about to plunge his saber into the maiden, even as his troops gather along the skirts of her nether regions. His motives are completely self-serving, an attempt to cement his place in Russian history, when in truth, his legacy will be one of terror, murder, grand theft larceny, and a terrifying lack of self-knowledge. Indeed, his foolish attempt to reunite Mother Russia will most likely only succeed in destabilizing his country, and to make Russians poorer, angrier and, ultimately, more eager for the change that another leader – ANY other leader – will bring. 

I’m angry. I want change, but I don’t want change. I want things to be like they used to be, but I also want those things to be better, and I don’t know how to achieve that.

We are all reeling from not just the last two years of COVID, but from decades of lies, that have increased and compounded and torn our nations apart, pushing us all to the edge of civil war.

But the answer is not an insurrection, or a Trucker Convoy that brings the disgruntled, violent, and divisive into our nations’ capitals, drunk on social media attention and the millions pouring into a GoFundMe enriched by the dollars of the bored, the riled up, and the Canadian far right,  American militants, and Russian nihilists who would love to see our country fail.  

The answer is within each of us. We have to stop allowing ourselves to believe convenient (and inconvenient) lies, and start respecting ourselves, our fellow citizens, and the people that we have elected to lead us in tough times.

No more desecrating of the statues of our heroes. No more dancing on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, or peeing on the Cenotaph. No more bullying and theft from homeless shelters, or aiding and abetting those who willingly create violence or commit crimes just because the group presence allows them to do so.

Start with yourself. Stop lying to yourself. Then let it spread outward.

I guarantee you, there will come a day when you’ll once again be proud to look at your own face in the mirror.

I know that because our real heroes have always been those who have at least tried to tell you the truth. And that’s why they are our heroes.

Highway to Hell in a Handbasket


by Roxanne Tellier

“This isn’t some grand, far-reaching cultural movement. It’s a handful of people who want to claim victimhood to recast their personal gripes into a heroic narrative.” 

Passage: RoundUp January 28, 2022

I haven’t put up a column in a while … moving and all that … but I have been compiling some thoughts on this truck convoy, and, with the help and inspiration of other people’s thoughts, would like to comment on the event.

I find it very interesting that the organizers of this rally – which is similar in tone to the ill-fated American attempt to overthrow the government on January 6, 2021 – do not seem to have attempted to contact any high-ranking governmental official in the proper manner. This is a democracy, which means that there are procedures that are followed, one of which is formally requesting meetings with elected officials. Instead, there seems to have been some sort of quasi manifesto posted on social media, which has more in common with the creaky old westerns of the fifties, in which the new gunslinger taunted the old gunslinger to a gunfight at High Noon.

In any case, they planned a rally for a Saturday (get real; the House doesn’t meet on the weekend, not even if you’ve dragged your butt all the way from BC on your own dime.)

Prior to their frenzied demands, there were already plans in the works ages ago for the PM and his family to visit BC. Takes a bit to organize the flight plans of a high ranking-official; more than once, my daughter has accompanied them, in her role as an RCMP officer. It’s a Big Deal.

So they’ve planned to show up on a day when Ottawa is typically closed for business, in a month when Ottawa is totally closed for dining and entertainment of any kind, due to COVID restrictions. That’s not very clever planning.

Trucks parked along Wellington in Ottawa Friday night. Photo by Nasuna Stuart-Ulin for The New York Times

They also seemed to believe that, after weeks of saber rattling, horrible threats and screeds on social media, and a plethora of signs saying “F*CK TRUDEAU,” that he would be delighted to walk down and greet them, and usher them into the Parliament Building for a nice cup of tea. An uninvited rally of angry, swearing, yelling, possibly weapons-wielding protestors, who have amassed a caravan of trucks, RVs, and cars WITHOUT a parade permit, actually expected that outcome?

“Aside from denouncing the vaccine mandate, it was unclear what form the protests would take. One group affiliated with the convoy intends to try, for a second time, to convince the governor general, Canada’s official (if ceremonial) head of state as Queen Elizabeth’s representative, and the appointed members of the Senate to strike down all pandemic laws and rules imposed by all levels of government — something well beyond their constitutional powers.

Others have called for protests outside politicians’ homes. But since the House of Commons is currently not in session — it resumes sitting on Monday — many lawmakers are not in town.”

The New York Times, Jan 29, 2022

Set aside the delusional aspect of their proposed ‘meeting’ for a moment, and let’s consider who is involved in this convoy.

90% of the Canadian Trucking Industry are fully vaccinated, and have condemned this rally. The two main organizers are well-known, anti-Canadian/anti-government protestors, one of whom has long been active in the “WEXit” movement, wishing to separate Alberta from Canada, and the other, a ‘yellow jacket’ who is against government of any kind.

They have managed to raise nearly $8 million dollars in a GoFundMe that has been frozen by GoFundMe, as it requires, “documentation […] about how funds will be properly distributed.”)

*GoFundMe has now released $1 million to the organizers.*

At the onset, there were lofty claims that the truckers would be reimbursed for their travel, but as time wore on, it became apparent that greed was setting in on the organizer’s part, and it now says that the funds raised, “ will be dispersed to our Truckers to aid them with the cost of the journey. Funds will be spent to help cover the cost of fuel for our Truckers first and foremost, will be used to assist with food if needed and contribute to shelter if needed.  Any left over donations will be donated to a credible Veterans organization which will be chosen by the donors.”

But in truth, the bulk of the cash will go to the two organizers, and most likely into their own pockets, and into their political coffers, in aid of dismantling our current government. Sadly, there’s always room for corruption when the money total gets high.

And ice cream at every meal, and no backsies!”
Photo by Nasuna Stuart-Ulin for The New York Times

To sum up, a group of people, some of whom are genuinely unsettled truckers (less than 200, at last count) and many people who are always ready to get out the pitchforks and torches, especially when there’s nothing else to do in winter anyway, are going to converge on Ottawa’s capital, which is essentially ‘closed for business,’ for a meeting with a PM who isn’t even in town.

There they will attempt to recreate a Canadian version of the US’s January 6 assault on the Capital. Many will be arrested, many more will likely be wounded in some manner, either by their own companions, or by the people trying to keep the peace in the Capital.

All in aid of attempting to get one half of a border equation, which is 50/50 controlled by the US/Canada, changed to suit their needs. In other words, even if they succeeded in forcing the PM to change the law, and allow them to re-enter Canada, unvaxxed, after an American run, they would not be allowed into the US to begin that run in the first place.

Most of these truckers will be out a lot of money at the end of this unpaid vacation, and if they think the rules and regs around getting money out of the gov’t are tricky, wait until they try and pry that money out of the hands of the organizers.

There’s no logic here, just ennui at a pandemic and rules that have infringed on what lazy, entitled Canadians think are their ‘rights.’

Sadly, I remember when Canadians gathered along roads and highways to cheer on the REAL Canadian heroes; … Terry Fox, who ran across Canada ON ONE LEG to raise money for cancer research. Or Rick Hansen, who did the same in a wheelchair to follow his dream of creating an accessible and inclusive world and finding a cure for spinal cord injury.

Remember how we lined the 401, the Highway of Heroes, to honour our dead soldiers? It seems we’ve changed whom we honour, in 2022. Now, we honour a small group of unvaxxed truckers and their supporters, who have been hijacked by a bunch of wobbly minded conspiracy theory idiots, and who are being funded by political disrupters, the likes of Trump, Tucker Carlson,  and Elon Musk – the very man who intends to end all truckers’ livelihoods with his automated delivery systems. Suckers!

These organizers, and the truckers, are just out for the ‘likes’ and the grift. The truckers are pawns being played by fools, to line the organizers pockets.

The convoy is not a protest, it’s a grift. Each of the truckers and their followers are only out for themselves, and would burn down the world to get what THEY want. It’s not about helping anyone … but themselves.

90% of truckers are vaxxed and out there moving the goods. 10% – a minority by any calculation – are whining about the cross border mandate .. which is effective on BOTH sides of the border.

“ The Freedom Convoy isn’t some benign oddity that deserves uncritical media attention. As with so many things that seem to germinate online, the convoy has obvious and deep links to the far right. While Mike Millian, president of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, told CBC Radio that the movement has “morphed into a kind of protest against all vaccine and COVID-related shutdowns,” this ignores the fact that the convoy has been associated with the far right from the beginning. Global News even reported that some supporters saw the convoy as a “January 6 event,” hoping to piggyback off the protest’s media success to stage a violent insurrection. “  Passage: Roundup, January 28, 2022

Can you still call it democracy when the minority believe their rights overrule the majority, and the lunatics have well and truly taken over the asylum?

The Countdown Continues


by Roxanne Tellier

A few days ago, as I motored back from the grocery story with yet more packing boxes, I passed an old station wagon in the local mall’s parking lot. There were pillows, blankets, and clothing schmooshed up against every side window. And the front window was impressively ice encrusted.

I am not a wealthy woman. And I have not lived a particularly charmed or lucky life. I am just a little bit fortunate that my husband and I were careful with our money, despite a lot of economic ups and downs over the years, and that we managed to save enough to be able to afford a roof over our heads as we head into our senior years.

But it was clear to me that the people who were in that station wagon, for whatever reason, were not so fortunate.

I’m a mere 10 days out from a pretty epic change of circumstances myself, but I know that my move, although chaotic, likely done in snow and cold, to a background of fulsome curses, and with a future that will probably be filled with many surprises at the onset, is of our own choosing, and that the road we travel leads to a warm home with a roof (that needs repairs) to shield us from the cold and snow.

The snow and biting cold this morning was a nasty surprise. For days I’ve been warning my husband that we needed to get the last of the outdoor furniture, gardening supplies, and the like, under cover and out of the weather. I’ve had a persistent vision of the cursing that will ensure as we try to dig chairs and wheelbarrows out from under a foot of snow and ice, to pile them, dripping with icicles,  into the moving truck.

But even yesterday it was warm enough for me to be tossing around boxes in the shed without so much as a jacket. That’s not the case today, when January’s reality has arrived. The birds and squirrels were thick on the porch at feeding time, desperate for the seeds and nuts I provide. That food keeps them alive. I worry about what they’ll do when I leave, and their food source is gone. I’ll leave some provender behind for the next tenant to dole out, but I won’t be here to ensure it’s done on a consistent and timely basis. And that haunts me.

Our little cat also worries me. She has not been herself since she lost Farley, her lifelong companion, in November. She’s old, blind, and seems terribly depressed. Her habits have completely changed. She now wakes, screaming, from a troubled sleep every two or three hours, demanding food, and then has to be soothed back to another short period of rest before she wakes again, howling as she is reminded of her loss. This schedule is not particularly conducive to anyone – either human or animal – getting a good night’s sleep.

Ten days out from the move, I’m in that terrifying position of still needing to pack but a) having little space to put the packed boxes, and b) being pretty much down to the things that I thought I’d need in the last days here.

Of course, I grossly overestimated how much I’d need to keep on hand. I’ve got a king’s ransom of cleaning supplies. I’ve kept enough beauty supplies and clothing on hand to supply a cast of a Cecil B DeMille spectacle. I still have far too much food and drink on hand, though every day I make a dent in what’s been living in the freezer for the last many months.

I’m now at the Sophie’s Choice part of packing – what’s left must be packed, but must be chosen carefully. Essentials misplaced, if mispacked, will cause problems. When we sold our house in Scarborough, all of my shoes disappeared, and I spent six months wearing scuffed orange garden clogs. That’s a fate I wouldn’t wish on anyone, but most especially not someone from Montreal. The horror!

How do you decide what can be safely stowed, and what must be clasped tightly until safely deposited at the other end of the move?  I mean, besides the cat … of course the cat will be safely secured, along with her own collection of necessities. I am not at all looking forward to THAT part of the journey;

Today’s the second day of the new year. I’m doing a lot of sorting, a modicum of packing, and an infinite amount of worrying. Hoping all this rehearsing will mean that it’ll be ‘alright on the night,” as they say in the theatre.

Gift Giving and the Languages of Love


by Roxanne Tellier

The holiday gift giving tradition goes waaay back … back, back, no, even further back. Before the kid in the stable, even.

Exchanging gifts at a midwinter feast seems to have started as both a magical AND practical way to share the bounties of the year with family and friends. The people that gave the best gifts to others were respected for their generosity.    

During the Roman winter solstice festival, Saturnalia, citizens spent a week feasting, decorating trees, and then showing generosity to the poor in a display of goodwill towards all. The Roman New Year, Kalends, which started on January 1st, featured gifts being ritually exchanged by being tied to the boughs of the greenery that people used to decorate their homes.

In the colder countries, this feasting and bestowing of goods served another, more practical, purpose as well; it was often too expensive to keep one’s cattle fed and comfortable through a long cold winter. It wasn’t unusual for families to bring favoured pigs and chickens into the home to share the long nights of January, February, and March. 

But if there was a glut of food animals to deal with, slaughtering many of them to prepare giant feasts that cemented one’s place in their community as respectable, business-savvy, providers could go a long way in making the burgher’s prospects even brighter in the new year.

Early Christianity borrowed lavishly from pagan religions and traditions. Long before modern day religions, many faiths worshipped gods who were born to virgins, who performed miracles, were killed, and then came back to life. Many of those religions also placed the date of their savior’s birth as December 25th.

And thus was conceived the bane of every December born child.

Check out Richard Gillooly’s book, All About Adam and Eve, for a major accounting of Capricornian Gods, which include Horus, Osiris, Attis, Mithra, Heracles, Dionysus, Tammuz, Adonis, and a host of others. As a popular date, and likely as a sop to other faiths, December 25th was declared a holiday that celebrated Syrian god Sol Invictus, by the Roman Empire in 274 AD. Fifty years later, Roman Emperor Constantine swapped the day out for the celebrating of the birth of the god of his newly acquired religion, Christianity.  

Gifting – what and how we gift – says so much more about us than we realize. My mother emphasized that the getting of gifts was secondary to the bestowing of gifts upon others, to show family and friends that they were loved and appreciated. As a child, I also took to heart the message of O. Henry’s 1905 short story, The Gift of the Magi, which told the tale of a young husband and wife, and of how their deep love led them to sacrifice their most precious possessions in order to give gifts to each other.

So, for me, Christmas was always about providing for my loved ones. Even when money was tight, when I had little to spend, I’d somehow whip together something to gift; one year, on the road and practically penniless, I bought a load of wool, and knitted everyone long, Dr Who-style, scarves. In the years when I was flush, my family were surprised with huge bags of lavish presents on Christmas morning. Feast or famine, Christmas has never found me empty handed, when it came to gifting.

Everyone approaches holiday gift giving in their own way. Some are practical, others, selectively generous.  Some want to show off their wealth, while others want to find gifts that impart some of their own hard-won knowledge or skills to a younger generation.

Like almost everything to do with interactions amongst humans, it all comes down to how we communicate our own needs, and how we discover what is necessary to keep those we love happy and feeling loved, appreciated, and respected.

A few years back, a well-known marriage counsellor named Gary Chapman released a book entitled The 5 Love Languages, which outlined how different personalities give and receive love within their relationships.  

The key to good gift giving is in knowing what to give to someone that you love and appreciate. In order to do so, you need to understand what is their core ‘language’ – what speaks to their heart.

For some, the receiving of gifts is vitally important. This is not about materialism, or the cost of the gift, but rather on the love, thoughtfulness and effort behind the gift. For these people, the perfect gift or gesture indicates that they are cared for, and that they are more important to the giver than whatever was sacrificed to attain the gift. These gifts are usually treasured and carefully kept close, as a visual representation of their partner’s love.

For the partner or friend of someone who speaks this language, a gift might be a piece of jewelry that alludes to a hobby or work they do, a book on a pet subject, or tickets to an event.

For others, the greatest gift they can receive is quality time with their loved one. The gift of full, undivided attention means more to them than anything bought in a store, as it makes them feel truly special and loved.  

Acts of service – sometimes actions speak louder than words. Remember those little books kids (and broke spouses) used to make for each other, promising to ease another’s physical or household burdens to come? Washing a pile of dishes, vacuuming the floors, doing the laundry, or dusting may seem like meaningless household chores, but for some people, those actions speak volumes.

Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important. But words of affirmation are a love language that uses positive affirmations from your partner to send your heart soaring. Unsolicited compliments given at just the right moment can make the sun come out on a cloudy day.  Encouraging words that are kind and soothing are life-giving, while insults will leave this language-type disillusioned, and unlikely to forget or forgive.  

The last language is spoken by those who crave appropriate physical touch. It’s not all about sex, it’s more the sort of touchy-feely thing that involves holding hands, hugs, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder or face. Slow dances in the kitchen after dinner that show how much we love and care about each other. While kind, gentle physical touch fosters a sense of security and belonging, neglect or abuse can be unforgiveable, and cause irreparable damage to the relationship.

Understanding the ‘language of love’ that our partners, family, and friends speak makes gift giving a snap. All you need is a language decoder ring …and you earn that by really paying attention to what lies beneath what the ones you love don’t say out loud.

Gift giving in 2021 can be frustrating and exhausting, but then, that’s the way it’s always been. Somewhere along the line we lost the true meaning of giving and receiving. Maybe it rolled under a Coca Cola polar bear, or was stolen by a porch pirate. Who can say?

It used to be that giving gifts was how you showed your love for others, and for some that meant that the bigger the gift, the more you loved. But expensive gifts mean nothing if the gift doesn’t fit the giftee.

And gifting out of a sense of obligation does little to make you or the giftee happy, since a gift you never wanted to give is nearly always all wrong for the person that receives it. Aren’t Amazon and the other big suppliers of gag gifts and useless paraphernalia rich enough?

Here’s my gift giving advice for this holiday season: Set a budget you can live with. Choose who you’re gifting, and how much you can afford to spend. You don’t need to spend a fortune to show how much you care. Give to strengthen your ties to family and friends. And make the criteria for what you give commensurate with how much joy you can spread around to your loved ones.

Merry Christmas to all, and a wish that you have the happiest of New Years. DBAWIS is on hiatus until mid January. When we return, I’m sure we writers will have lots to share about our adventures and misadventures during the holiday season.

Meanwhile, it’s Christmas, 2021, and like the Little Drummer Boy, I have no gift to bring. Shall I play for you, pa rum pah pum pum?