Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Stephen Harper Can Bite Me

Okay, not my most eloquent title, but in this case, fitting.

Harper is making Canada a laughingstock amongst the G8 right now. We are the ONLY country that is putting a caveat on what our money can be used for in terms of maternal health in the Third World. Now he's actually got the gall to say that the majority of Canadians don't support allowing abortion funding.

Bite me. Abortion is legal in this country. Abortion is federally funded. Women in this country have access to safe, legal abortions. What gives us the right to deny women in situations that are MUCH worse the same right? The fact is that in most of these countries, pregnancy is a life-threatening condition. If a woman even survives a pregnancy, there may not be enough food to support another mouth in the family. Rape is a common occurrence in many of these places.

Do you know what is considered an abortion in sub-Saharan Africa? Try drinking turpentine or bleach. Impaling themselves. Jumping off roofs.

A woman desperate not to continue a pregnancy will do anything to achieve this goal. It's just pathetic that Harper is crowing about saving women's lives while he's allowing so many to remain at risk. Bev Oda should be ashamed of herself. I'm just disgusted.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Copy of an Email Sent to Colin Carrie, MP for Oshawa

Dear Dr. Carrie,

I have recently become aware of changes that the province of Quebec is making to its healthcare system. As an Ontario resident this usually wouldn't be an issue to me, however in this particular case I am outraged that these changes are being allowed by the Federal government, and worried that the silent approval being given to them will be taken as a sign by the other provinces that going against the Canada Health Act is acceptable.

Quebec is planning to charge a $25 user fee for each doctor's visit, as I'm sure that you're aware. To my knowledge, not a single Federal politician has spoken out against this, despite it being contrary to the Canada Health Act. The Act says quite straightforwardly:

User charges
19. (1) In order that a province may qualify for a full cash contribution referred to in section 5 for a fiscal year, user charges must not be permitted by the province for that fiscal year under the health care insurance plan of the province. 

So how is this now acceptable? As you are a medical professional I'm especially bothered by your apparent lack of concern. I understand that the health system in Canada is under great stress, but user fees are simply not the answer. $25 may not seem like very much to some people, but there are so many people in Canada for whom this would be completely out of reach. Even for families such as mine, with four children, if all four children were sick at the same time we would be looking at a $100 bill for a few minutes in urgent care.

Our family lived in the United States for a year, and we have experienced their healthcare system. It is one of the reasons that we returned to Canada, and why I would hesitate to live there again. Even with employer-provided insurance and a relatively healthy family we found healthcare costs to be difficult.

In my experience, user fees do tend to make you think before you go to the doctor, which may be a good thing at first glance, however, if a user fee presents a financial difficulty you may end up avoiding an office visit when one is warranted, possibly leading to a worse medical problem down the road. To me this doesn't make sense: isn't it better to deal with problems at the start and avoid a larger bill to medicare later on? As a wellness practitioner, I would think that you would see the value in regular office visits for preventative care, as well, which might be avoided if they present a financial problem.

I hope that the Conservative Party will speak out against Quebec's planned user fees, and enforce the Canada Health Act. The vast majority of Canadians treasure our national healthcare system and do not want to see it destroyed.

Cynthia Hill

NOTE: This letter was also cc's to Prime Minister Harper and Minister of Health Leona Aqlukkaq. To find an email address for your own MP, you can look here. I urge you to write a similar letter if you don't want to see Quebec allowed to go against the Canada Health Act.

Friday, April 23, 2010


This is probably why as much as I'd like to, I'll never get into politics.

Yesterday on Climbing Up the Slide I wrote about the new changes to the sex ed curriculum in Ontario. If you didn't read the article, I'm fully in support of them.

What I'm not in support of is wishy-washy politicians who fold at the first sign of protest. A few hours after I wrote my post Dalton McGuinty decided that there hadn't been enough consultation with parents, and that apparently the Catholic bishops hadn't been consulted, and so the changes are "on hold."

You believe in something enough to publicly announce it, then stick to your damned guns! Yes, you may run the risk of alienating some voters, but face it: the ones you're going to alienate wouldn't have voted for you anyway.

I know I'm obnoxiously opinionated. Heck, that's the whole point of this blog. One thing about me is that I'm not easily swayed from my opinions. Not to the point that I won't even consider the other side, but I'm not going to change just because someone tells me (even repeatedly) that I'm wrong. Maybe I wouldn't make a good politician just for that very reason, but then again, maybe I'd make a damned good one.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

$750 for a Heart Attack in a Bowl!

The World Poutine-Eating Contest is going to be held in Toronto on May 22nd.

Okay, this is all kinds of wrong:

1) You're having a poutine-eating contest in TORONTO?

2) You're having a POUTINE-EATING CONTEST?

3) Seriously? POUTINE?

For those of you who don't know what poutine is (and I'm guessing you're American - ha!) it's pretty simple in its obnoxiousness: a bowl of french fries, covered in cheese curds and gravy. Yes, that's really what it is. Depending on who you talk to, it's either heaven in a bowl, a heart attack waiting to happen or a culinary abomination.

Personally, I love poutine. I also love living, though, so I don't indulge very often. I still remember my first exposure to the stuff. I was in Quebec City, on a cultural exchange when I was fourteen. My "twin" and her friend brought my friend and I into the city from the suburbs where they lived and dragged us all around until far too late at night. For skinny girls, could they ever EAT. Crepes with ice cream and poutine, all in one night. I still remember sitting there, mouth probably wide open in shock, while they devoured the greasy concoction. They asked if we wanted some. We were disgusted, and declined.

It was several years later before I actually tried it. In my opinion, nothing can be wrong when smothered with cheese or chocolate, so I loved it.

Still, a poutine-eating contest? I have to wonder how many contestants will keel over right there at BMO Field.

Monday, April 19, 2010

I'm not sure which to be more upset about...

So hopefully some of my readers can help me decide. Karla Homolka - the shedevil of St. Catharines, is apparently eligible not for parole, but for a pardon - this year.

That's Part One of my outrage tonight.

Part Two of tonight's outrage? That Stephen Harper is blaming this on previous "soft on crime" governments.

May I point something out, Sir?

You have been in power for four years. In all of that time, you never noticed that there were problems with the pardon system? It took the media pointing out that Canada's flawed pardon system had allowed a nasty pedophile asswipe to be legally forgiven, and that one of the country's most infamous serial killers could be pardoned this year (and apparently 99% of those who apply for a pardon receive one - WHAT???) before he realized that there was a PROBLEM???

The one thing I truly hate about politics is the amount of time (and money) wasted on blaming previous governments for problems. You know what? The general population doesn't care who caused the problem, they just want you to fix it.

I swear, if that woman gets pardoned... grrrrr... I don't even know what the appropriate response is to this. I wonder if there will be a response from the French and Mahaffy families.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

I Probably Shouldn't Find This So Funny...

I actually can't stop laughing, though. The Typo That Pulped 7,000 Books has me absolutely cracking up. I'm sure that there are those out there who will think I'm horrible for laughing so much over this, but honestly, if it was white pepper I'd be laughing just as hard.

7,000 cookbooks are being reprinted by Penguin Group Australia because a pasta recipe was printed that contained the line “salt and freshly ground black people.”

Come on - it's funny! I can understand why the publishers are so upset that it's getting publicity, though. I mean honestly, haven't we all had spell-check screw with us? Yes, the proofreader should have caught it, but the proofreader is human. I seriously doubt it was intentional.

So go ahead: laugh with me. You'll feel better.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tea Partiers are Old, Rich White Dudes? I'm Shocked.

So, a poll conducted by the venerable New York Times (I love being able to use the word "venerable") and CBS News is aiming to show the demographics of the "Tea Party". They like to proclaim that they are "of the people" and try to make out that they are the voice of the blue collar workers tired of having Evil "Big Government" take all of their money and redistribute it. So in other words, they don't like Robin Hood. This makes them what? The Sheriff of Nottingham? I'm just sayin' is all...

Anyway, despite what they would have you believe, the new poll shows that the 18% of Americans who say they are supporters of the Tea Party tend to be older than 45, male, married, white and Republican. WHAAAAT? Sorry, did my eyes just roll into the back of my head? I'll try to stop that.

More than half of the Tea Partiers believe that the current administration's policies favour the poor instead of the rich or middle class. It's also worth noting that 25% believe that the administration's policies favour blacks, rather than whites. Oh yeah, I forgot about that "Blacks can't be charged for armed robbery: they're just giving themselves a step up" Bill.

Ninety-two percent believe that Obama is heading the US towards socialism. On a related note, the Times failed to mention the percentage of those who could actually give the proper definition for socialism.

“I just feel he’s getting away from what America is,” said Kathy Mayhugh, 67, a retired medical transcriber in Jacksonville. “He’s a socialist. And to tell you the truth, I think he’s a Muslim and trying to head us in that direction, I don’t care what he says. He’s been in office over a year and can’t find a church to go to. That doesn’t say much for him.”(from the Times article)
Oh, and while they are against Evil Big Government, they don't want Medicare or Social Security cut.

Yep, these are definitely the people I want running the country two hours away from me. Yep.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sorry if it seems like I'm picking on Quebec...

...but seriously? http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/quebec-muslim-woman-ordered-to-unveil-or-leave-french-course/article1530874/

I can understand that in government security situations, your face needs to be seen. If you're presenting your photo ID, the person looking kind of needs to be able to see your face. It's pretty simple that way.

And I'm not a big proponent of veiling women. In fact, I'm generally pretty outspoken about it, however, the fact remains that this is a free country, and if she chooses to wear a veil, well, that's her choice. If she feels that forcing her to remove it is embarrassing to her modesty, then what's the harm? This was an immigrant integration course - the whole point is to help these people integrate into Quebec society. Easing them into it, not throwing them to the wolves. Not handing them a French-English dictionary and a bowl of poutine and putting them down in the middle of Old Quebec City.

What security risk was this woman posing by wearing her veil in class? The teacher didn't object. Her classmates didn't object. Where is the logic in this?

30th Anniversary of the Marathon of Hope

30 years ago today, Terry Fox started what has become more than a journey of a lifetime.

Terry was always an athlete, making it all the more devastating for him to lose his leg to osteosarcoma in 1977. However, he continued as an athlete, running with an artificial leg, and playing wheelchair basketball, in which he won 3 national championships.

At the end of 1979, angry at his experience in hospital, and with how little research money went to cancer, he decided to attempt a run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. He sent letters to the Canadian Cancer Society and to various businesses asking for donations of a vehicle, gas and food. He also applied for grants for a running "leg." Although many were skeptical he got a van from Ford, gas from Imperial Oil, and running shoes from Adidas.

With little publicity he began his run on April 12, 1980. He was running an entire marathon every day. As he continued across the country, often forced off the road by drivers, running in bad weather, and attempting to cross Quebec with a group that didn't speak French, word began to grow about his efforts. The Cancer Society asked him to delay his arrival in Ottawa so that he would be there for Canada Day. He only agreed when they convinced him it would be beneficial to his fundraising efforts. In Ottawa, he was greeted by 16,000 people, including Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

When he arrived in Toronto over 10,000 people were there to greet him. What had started out as a solitary journey now had the entire country watching.

He continued on, refusing to take a day off, suffering from shin splints, an inflamed knee, cysts on the stump of his leg and dizzy spells. He refused to take a day off, even for his birthday.

On September 1st, 1980, he was forced to ask his traveling companions, his brother Daryl and friend Doug Alward, to take him to hospital after a severe coughing fit. He'd been finding himself exhausted each morning before he even began his run.

The next day he announced that he had to suspend his run: the cancer had returned, and spread to his lungs. He had been running for 143 days, and run 5,280 km. Although he had every intention of finishing the run, on June 28, 1981 he passed away after developing pneumonia and falling into a coma.

By the time Terry stopped his run he had raised $1.7 million for cancer research. After his death, The Terry Fox Foundation started the annual Terry Fox Run. Since its inception in 1981 it has raised over $500 million dollars. Runs are now held around the world.

On a personal note, one of my best memories of high school each year was doing The Terry Fox Run as a school. It's never been a competitive run: there are no winners or losers, just as Terry wanted. Each year the high schools in my area all met at a park where we would do the walk in our school groups, singing school songs and just generally having a big pep rally. Each year the schools raise thousands of dollars.

I don't know anyone whose life hasn't been touched by cancer in some way. Those of us whose cancer stories have happy endings owe so much to Terry. Today, just take a moment and be thankful.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Quebec Adds User Pay Charge for Health Care

I am furious.

The Canada Health Act says:

User charges
19. (1) In order that a province may qualify for a full cash contribution referred to in section 5 for a fiscal year, user charges must not be permitted by the province for that fiscal year under the health care insurance plan of the province. 

Apparently Quebec didn't read that part of the act. In that province's latest budget they introduced a $25 user fee for each doctor's appointment. Are you freaking kidding me? This terrifies me. It's one of the things that I hated about living in the US. $25 might not sound like a lot to some people, but to someone living below the poverty line it might be the difference between going to the doctor or having food for a week. Even for some middle class families it's more than they can manage. Think about my family: I have four kids. If all of the members of my family were sick at the same time, including my husband and I, that's $150 to go to the doctor! And to possibly be told "It's just a virus. Drink lots of fluids and get some sleep."

I will say that having lived with co-pays in the States I do think twice before running to the doctor, but I don't like it, truthfully. My son was showing signs of an ear infection. Since the thinking now is that most ear infections are viral, I decided to wait it out. His eardrum ruptured.

The Canada Health Act is one of the most fundamental parts of this country. It's one of those things that we trumpet as making us better than *ahem* other countries without universal health care. The fact that NO ONE at the federal level has said anything about Quebec's decision is troubling. Not even the NDP! Seriously??? Jack Layton, who is currently undergoing cancer therapy using Canada's universal health care system and paying NOTHING, thinks it's okay to start down this slippery slope?

I realize that the healthcare system is hurting. I'm not naive. There are changes that need to be made. This is NOT one of them. There will be those who can't afford to go to the doctor for troubling symptoms. They will wait until they simply cannot wait anymore. Isn't this going to cost more in the long run? I know a woman in the US who had ovarian cancer. She is supposed to follow up every six months. She never has, because she can't afford the cost of the ultrasound. Is this the route we want to take?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The 30 Days of Ben Mulroney - THE END!

I hope you've all enjoyed our little foray into the land of Benedict Mulroney. I know that some of my readers may be questioning my sanity right now, but hey, it's all in good fun!

Tomorrow, we resume our regularly scheduled programming of rants on politics and pop culture! For now, though, enjoy a few clips of Ben at work.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The 30 Days of Ben Mulroney - Day 29!

Well People, it's almost over! Whatever will we do without our little dose of Ben each day?

Wow...I just noticed how much he looks like his father in that picture... look at that chin... it's going into Jay Leno territory...

Anyway, since I had such a good time with the Canadian Idol clips yesterday, I'm going to add in a few more today. Again, it's my blog, and I can do what I want!

Theo Tams was the last Canadian Idol. The judges often claimed he was the best male vocalist ever on the show, and I think they might be right. He was classically trained in voice and piano and he just has a very clear tone that can really give you goosebumps. I've only ever heard one song off his debut album, but I hope he gets a chance because he really does deserve it. Again, I had a hard time picking just one performance, but I really do like this one, and it's also one of the shorter clips.

Mitch McDonald came in second that year. He was a completely different kind of artist than Theo. This performance of Joel Plaskett's "Love This Town" is just so awesomely charming.

Eva Avila, the Season Four winner has had a reasonable amount of success. I quite like the radio singles she's put out, and she's worked closely with Chantal Kreviazuk and Raine Maida, which I think has helped her. Here's her "Idol Single" Meant to Fly. Not nearly as annoying as most of them. Outside of Alive, I think this might have been the best of them.

Kalan Porter was the winner of the amazing second season that I wrote about yesterday. I can't find any of his really good performances online, but here's his audition. It shows that right from the start he had the talent and that shy smile that gave him the win.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The 30 Days of Ben Mulroney - Day 28!

Well, it's Day 28, and because A) I'm running out of Fun Facts and B) it's my blog and I can do what I want, I'm choosing today to post a few of my favourite Canadian Idol performances. Probably all from Season 2, because I still wholeheartedly believe that was the best season the show ever had, and quite possibly it was the best season of any of the Idol shows.

First up, because I want to be sure as many people as possible see this one, is the Top 6 performance of Gordon Lightfoot's Canadian Railroad Trilogy. I admit, I didn't know the song before this. What's significant about it, though, is that this was the first time on any Idol show that the contestants played their own instruments. I think this performance truly showed just how talented these kids were. It may be my favourite Idol moment ever. Honestly, I found this the other day and I've already watched it several times since then. Take a few minutes and appreciate it!

I had a hard time picking my favourite performance of Jacob Hoggard's. He is, undoubtedly, the most successful artist to come out of Canadian Idol, with his band, Hedley. Honestly, I don't think the Idol franchise has ever seen an entertainer like Jacob. From his Top 32 performance of Billy Joel's Only the Good Die Young to Lifehouse's Everything and David Bowie's Space Oddity, he was never dull, that's for sure! He gets a lot of flack for his connection to Idol, but honestly, he shouldn't. Luckily I found this clip that's a mix of his Idol performances, and also includes the infamous "Wet Willy Incident".

It took me forever to find my favourite performance of Theresa Sokyrka's. Ironically, despite finishing 2nd, she chose to still go her own way, and she's still out there performing. She has a truly lovely voice. Here she's singing Lionel Richie's Hello.

In Season 1, Newfoundland's Jenny Gear really showed that Idol in Canada was going to be a completely different animal. She was unapologetically WEIRD and I loved it. Here's her take on Sarah McLaughlin's Possession.

 And finally, from Season 3, the winner, Melissa O'Neil. She hasn't really been heard from since Idol, like so many others, but I do think she has a great voice, and this is probably the best Idol single ever. I may be a bit biased, since I've known the songwriter since I was five years old, but honestly, for the cheesy songs that they're usually forced to record, I think this one was a million miles above the rest. Sorry it's not a video. The videos I found weren't great quality, but enjoy the song anyway.

There have been a lot of great performances from Canadian Idol, but they're not so easy to find! Especially not in good quality. However, I hope that people will take a look at these. Idol gets a hard time, and often it's deserved. I think some really interesting artists have been discovered on that show, even if they haven't had the commercial success that's associated with their US counterparts. How very Canadian, eh? (HAHAHA...)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The 30 Days of Ben Mulroney - Day 27!

Only THREE more days, Gentle Readers! Whatever will we do without a little Ben in our lives each day?

Today's Fun Fact: Ben was named one of Canada's Best Dressed by Hello! Canada magazine in 2009.

Hmm... I guess they haven't seen my usual daily attire...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The 30 Days of Ben Mulroney - Day 26!

Ben is taller than Tom Cruise! Wait... isn't everyone? I think my not quite 1-year-old might be... I'm just saying...

According to the National Post, there was a Twitter account @ETalkBen. Sadly, that account is no more. It contained references to "Uncle Karlheinz", lunch bills and personal hygiene. It was a fake account, but apparently even got George Stroumboulopoulos, a friend of Ben's, into the act. Take a look at the article, it's quite entertaining, actually. I think my friend Sam would get quite a kick out of it.

I Wonder If It Had Been THEIR Kid...


Oh goody. They're going to "toughen" the rules for pardons. How does this help the boys that he abused? This man was pardoned after only 10 years. The pardon means his conviction no longer shows up in a CPIC (Canadian Police Information Centre). This means he no longer has to register as a sex offender. No one knows where he is, or what he's doing. Technically, he's still not allowed to be around children or other vulnerable people, but that will only show up in a more detailed background check. If it's an organization that's lax about their security, he could easily slip by.

Sheldon Kennedy, a former NHLer and one of James' victims, says that the publicity about the pardon could actually be a good thing, in that it's bringing to light problems in the system. Still, this has to be incredibly painful for him, and for the other victims. It takes a very brave person to come forward about abuse, and I imagine it was even more difficult for NHL players, who are supposed to be so macho, to admit that this happened. It's bad enough that James was only sentenced to 3.5 years (meaning he probably served less than 2) but then to have him pardoned, as if what he did wasn't that big of a deal. Personally, I think pardons should only be granted in extreme circumstances anyway. If you are convicted of a crime, why should it be erased from your record? What about consequences for your actions?

I am really unimpressed with the Conservative response to this. I heard on the radio this morning that PM Harper is "angry" about this. Is he angry that James was pardoned, or angry that this is going to be a blight on his party's record? I'm not sure what to think. I know Harper has kids, so maybe I should give him the benefit of the doubt (how could any parent NOT be outraged by this?) but I just don't trust them. This happened on THEIR watch. There had better be some BIG changes after this debacle.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The 30 Days of Ben Mulroney - Day 25!

Wuv, twu wuv... (if you don't get the reference, you're not allowed to read this site anymore...)

Anyway, if all of my Ben Mulroney bizarreness has you hooked, here's where you can buy "Ben Mulroney for Prime Minister" t-shirts. Now, granted, if you're here, hopefully you think that Cyn should be PM, but well... I'm just putting it out there!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Alas Poor Boston Rob, I Knew Him Well

I am not an avid Survivor watcher. I watched the first season and enjoyed all that naked fat guyness. The second season was much better, in my opinion, if for no other reason than good ol' Colby (yum!) I think I watched a little bit of the 3rd season, but definitely not the whole thing.

I didn't watch again until the All Stars Season, which was when I was first introduced to Boston Rob. Rob Mariano, he of the thick Boston accent and an arrogance unseen since Custer declared that he could win at Little Big Horn. I watched in awe as he maneuvered his way around his opponents, creating, shifting and breaking alliances in such a way that no one seemed to think it might be a good idea to be RID of him. He made it to the final two, dragging his ally Amber Brkich with him. The bitter jury members would have rather awarded the $1 million to Pol Pot than to Boston Rob at that point, so they gave it to Amber.

In fact, take a look at this video of Tom, and just how bitter he was towards Rob:

However, in true Boston Rob style, he may not have officially won, but he still got the last laugh: he proposed to Amber, and the two of them took home the top two prizes together. They married in April, 2005 and now have a baby daughter, Lucia Rose.

I watched them on two seasons on The Amazing Race. Then they seemed to disappear. I haven't watched Survivor since that All Star season, but when I heard that this season was going to be essentially another All Stars I decided that I needed to check it out. I waited to see if finally Rob's fellow contestants would be smart enough to avoid his mind traps, and as I waited to see what would happen when his tribe, the "Villains" finally went to Tribal Council, I soon got hooked again.

I don't like Russell. He's a little troll. Thanks to him, my Thursdays just won't be the same. I'm sad, but I can't wait to see that tribe implode now that they've done what I was waiting for. Pardon my bad grammar. Mourning makes my participles dangle.

For now, enjoy a few more clips of Boston Rob: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. Sigh.

The 30 Days of Ben Mulroney - Day 23!

Here you see Ben with his family (his parents in the middle) leaving the Mulroney - Schreiber hearings in 2009.

To tell the truth, I know very little of this, so this is my only mention of this one.

Tomorrow, back to happy Fun Facts.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The 30 Days of Ben Mulroney - Day 22!

Everyone is thrilled to have their picture taken with Ben, right?

In a profile of Ben done by Duke University's Alumni magazine, Ben professed to be considering a reality show based around his famous parents.

"Everyone has a reality show they want to do," he says. "Hey, I figure if Paris Hilton and her mother can both have reality shows, no idea is too stupid."

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The 30 Days of Ben Mulroney - Day 21!

Ben is apparently quite the connoisseur of Montreal crap food. In fact, the Canadian Idol website has an entire article about how much Montreal crap food Ben is going to consume while they are holding auditions there. Two different places for ribs, smoked meat, hot dogs... oy...

You can read Ben's suggestions for the Montreal food experience here.