Modern Motherhood


by Roxanne Tellier

Over the years, I, and many other writers, have written columns thanking our mothers for being our beloved mothers. The overall tone of these columns tends to favour the sappy and romantic notions we see in greeting cards, and in Hallmark movies. And that’s great! Mom’s put up with a lot dealing with their kids and being a mom, and they deserve at least one day a year in which their hard work is acknowledged. 

The other extreme, not as often found, are the sad stories of the children of the bad mothers, who struggle with their feelings about their feelings towards someone so integral to the formation of their lives. Motherhood has always been framed as essential to the very fabric of society. These children wonder what was wrong with them, and why they got the wrong end of the stick, mother-wise.  Their memories are not rosy. In truth, their memories are cruelly dissimilar to the generally maudlin tone of the day.

The day can be problematic for those who have only memories -good or bad – to cling to. Memories can be complicated.  It’s a difficult day for many, for varying reasons.  Some women struggle with getting pregnant; some women struggle with being pregnant. Some women have chosen not to have children; others have had children of their own, and children of their heart. No one’s ‘motherhood’ is exactly the same.

There’s a horrific symmetry in today’s celebration of motherhood and the leak that seeped from the Supreme Court this week, seeking to bring about the end of a woman’s reproductive rights in America. Social media pages extolling the virtues of mothers’ past and present vie with the rants and cartoons of those who are livid at the very idea of overturning these constitutional rights.  

Judge Samuel Alito’s screed tears at the heart of women’s rights. And his argument already shows that the Court will not stop at just disenfranchising women; next up will be a prohibition on birth control, attacks on the LGBTQ/transgender community, and the ending of the right to marry a person of your choice. All civil rights granted since the 60s are up for grabs under his judgment. The path to these assaults on civil rights are already outlined in the wording of this draft, and the arguments presented.

I grew up in the very beginning of the struggle for womens’ rights. Abortion has always been an option for me, and for my friends. No one I knew ever burned a bra, but everyone I know remembers what it was like to fight for equal rights, equal pay, and a toehold on the career ladder. We all remember what it was like to fight for the right to be considered ‘equal’ to men.

Will those become the ‘good old days’ of womens’ rights?

Statistically, one in four women will have an abortion in their lifetime. Most of the women choosing this path are already mothers. All will be women who are making the hardest decision of their lifetime, a decision often made harder by the attitudes and protests of people who would be appalled at the very idea of anyone having the nerve to tell them what to do with their own bodies. 

Motherhood should never be an honour only enjoyed by those forced to give birth by government decree. It’s an abomination of everything we believe to be encapsulated in the act of ‘mothering’. And yet – that could well be the future our young women will have to live within.

There’s much to consider this Mother’s Day …

But for those who identify as mothers … May you enjoy a lovely day.

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 Music of War and Ukraine


by Roxanne Tellier

This has been a hellish week. We are watching the unthinkable perpetrated upon the peaceful people of Ukraine by a Russian despot who has become a madman.   

Putin’s Billion Dollar Palace

During two years of solitude and paranoia, Putin seethed and simmered as he isolated in his dacha on the Black Sea coast, attempting to avoid contracting COVID-19. Eventually, the germophobe ended up in an echo chamber of his own crazed thoughts. These he shared on the Kremlin’s website on July 12, 2021 when his work was first published in the Ukrainian and Russian languages..

His 7,000 word manifesto, described as ‘rambling’ and riddled with ‘many (historical) myths’, denied Ukraine’s statehood, and laid claim to much of modern-day Ukrainian lands by stating that ‘they are entirely the brainchild of the Soviet era, and was to a large extent created at the expense of historical Russian lands.” 

Putin repeatedly demonstrated his contempt for Ukrainian statehood, saying that the current policies in Kyiv are “anti-Russia .. which we will never accept.”

The passages contained ominous threats towards Ukraine, vowing to destroy Ukraine’s independence, a conflict begun during the inter-state war eight years ago, when Russia invaded and seized Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

He also repeated what he said to then-US President George Bush Jr at a NATO summit in 2008, that “Ukraine is not a country.”

“I am convinced that true Ukrainian sovereignty is only possible in partnership with Russia,” Mr. Putin wrote. “After all, we are one people.”

This manifesto, Putin’s own ‘Mein Kampf’, outlined his plans for Ukraine. And on February 24, 2022, he put those plans into effect, launching what he called a ‘special military operation’ into the country. At the onset, Putin claimed that the Russian military only sought ‘demilitarization and denazification,’ but attacks far beyond that scope followed soon, from multiple fronts, and towards multiple cities.

The man who at first claimed to only want to reunite his stray Russian lambs, has instead perpetrated the worst physical attack on another European country since World War II. Like a demented, cast aside lover, he has determined that if he can’t have Ukraine … no one can.

The original plan may have been to reunite the countries as one, but it is a strange sort of family unity when the father is murdering the children wholesale – an estimated 14,000 Ukrainians alone, and an uncounted amount of young Russian soldiers – and is pulverizing the ancient and historical buildings and monuments raised to honour both Russians and Ukrainians.

About 1.5 million people have fled Ukraine to date, fleeing to Poland, Hungary, and other NATO countries, seeking shelter for their most vulnerable. We will soon be in the middle of the worst refugee crisis in modern history.   

Meanwhile, it is said that Putin has gathered his family members and hidden them away in a luxury, high tech bunker in an underground city in Siberia. Designed for protection in the event of nuclear war, the bunker is meant to keep Putin’s family safe, while the people of Russia suffer whatever fate befalls them.

As I gather these facts to share in the column, I touch my face, and realize that I have no idea how long I have been silently crying. The tears never stop flowing when I think of the tragic and pointless murder, destruction, and terror being inflicted upon the people of Ukraine, by a man whose gross miscalculation of his power will eventually find him and all of his cabinet tried and sentenced at the Hague for war crimes.     

Putin and his generals have entered the end phase of their careers and lives. Trapped inside the rapidly tightening jail cell that was once their Russian playground, they have been stripped of their wealth, had their economy shattered, and will never again be allowed to travel outside the confines of Russia. Unfortunately, this means that they will have little reason to think or behave rationally, militarily.

And that, of course, is the saddest and most frightening aspect of the first ‘TikTok War’. We all watch, powerless, as caught up in watching the horror as any lookyloo on a highway unable to look away from a car crash.

This war was brought home to me forcibly when I learned that an old friend, musician Paul Christopher Caldeira, is one of the many needless casualties. Paul had been living in Chernihiv, which is at a strategic crossroad of major roads leading from Russia and Belarus to Kyiv. Short on meds and food, he had a heart attack when the tanks began to near the city, and died. I’m still in shock.

His old friend Greg Critchley kindly proffered this link to his SoundCloud account, and the 1996 album he produced and co-wrote. The songs have stood the test of time, and have given me some comfort since I heard the tragic news of Paul’s death.  

The war has brought attention to music, past and present, that focuses on Ukraine’s beauty, and her wonderful people. Here’s a selection of tunes that have been revisited, or in some cases, written or re-written, in support of Ukraine.

RenaissanceKiev from the album “Prologue” (1972)

Corey HartKomrade Kiev  (1985)

Lyrics: “Shoot Komrade Kiev And through the pride and prejudice, you blind the truth you couldn’t miss. For the target you have drawn won’t bite the hand that cuts the arm. And when the story’s finally told, that each man’s heart was bought and sold, there was no enemy you see. Only the doubt in you and me I know the sun will shine thru winter time I pray the rain may someday end the flame

Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York performs Prayer for Ukraine – SNL Feb 26, 2022

Pink Floyd – Marooned (Official Music Video HD)

Major parts of this video were shot in Pripyat, a city in Ukraine. This is the area that was evacuated in view of the Chornobyl Nuclear Plant explosion that took place near it.

NCT – Boss

The majority of the shots in this video are filmed at the Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine in Kyiv. The video includes several shots of this popular K Pop group, NCT, at some popular locations in Ukraine.

Calum Scott –You Are The Reason (Official Video)

This video includes glimpses of the National Opera of Ukraine, the architectural beauty of St. Sophia’s Cathedral, Khreschatyk Street, and other sites. 

Akçay Karaazmak  -We are made of Love – Stop the war – Song for the peace for Ukraine – Ukraine Russia War   

Harpin NormYou’re a Master of War –March 2022

Океан Ельзи & Один в каное – Місто весни (official video) 2021

Slava Vakarchuk of Okean Elzy, one of the most popular rock bands in Eastern Europe.

StingRussians

I’ve only rarely sung this song in the many years since it was written, because I never thought it would be relevant again. But, in the light of one man’s bloody and woefully misguided decision to invade a peaceful, unthreatening neighbor, the song is, once again, a plea for our common humanity. For the brave Ukrainians fighting against this brutal tyranny and also the many Russians who are protesting this outrage despite the threat of arrest and imprisonment – We, all of us, love our children. Stop the war. Supplies shipped to this warehouse in Poland are delivered in coordination with the Armed Forces of Ukraine and are guaranteed to go to people most in need

Sting.

Wherehouse address: Pol-Cel Ramos Breska 63, 22-100 Chelm, Poland Every box should be labeled “HELP UKRAINE” and indicate the contents: “Medicines,” “Clothes,” “Food,” “Humanitarian Aid.” For more info, contact: UK +44 1353 885152 USA +1 855 725 1152 helpukraine.center

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.