Thursday, February 28, 2008

Age of Consent - Opportunity Missed

Fearful of an election, the Senate caved in and passed the Conservatives' so-called "crime bill" yesterday without any amendments.

This is really a pity, because the bill cried out for amendments. Even if you don't agree with raising the legal age of consent for sexual activity from 14 to 16, it seems obvious to me that this would have been a good time to remove the discriminatory provisions of Section 159 of the Criminal Code which set the age of consent for anal intercourse at 18. The Ontario and Quebec courts have already ruled that this section is discriminatory, so why couldn't this anti-gay provision have been modified to set the age of consent for all sexual activity at a uniform point. Because our politicians - both Liberal and Conservative - don't like the "ick factor" of gay sex, is my suspicion. Yet another opportunity wasted in this dismal wreck of a Parliament.

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Commuting in the Greater-Greater Toronto Area

I recognize that the Toronto Star has nary a good word for the federal Conservative party, and that its allegations of political meddling should be taken with at least a bit of salt, but it is hard not to find it suspicious that suddenly Peterborough (pop. 80,000) is going to get federal funding for a high-speed commuter train line into Toronto. The Star is crediting the influence of several Durham-region Conservative MPs for the move.

As a recent re-arrival in the ever-expanding region of cities around Toronto with high commuter populations, I am increasingly curious to discover what overall transit plan - if any - has been agreed upon by the municipal, provincial, and federal governments in the region. The last GO train expansion brought vastly improved service to Hamilton and Barrie. Peterborough doesn't have any commuter rail connections at present. Down where I live, in Guelph, we can take one of two VIA rail trains into Toronto in the morning (after 10 AM, you're out of luck). I'm surprised, in a self-interested way, that Peterborough would be prioritized for improved commuter service, when Guelph-Kitchener-Waterloo, which is closer to Toronto than Peterborough and has over three times the population, is still on the back-burner. Maybe if we started voting Conservative, things might change...

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Pauline Marois talks sense, is attacked by rabid unilinguals

I am rather pleased to note that even Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois is coming around to the realization that children have more opportunities in life if they are bilingual. I'm not surprised that she would be quickly attacked for her statements, but it does seem to indicate that those who viewed her as a more moderate, pragmatic politician were correct.

Now if only it were possible to convince more English-speaking Canadians that it can be useful (if not essential) to speak and read a second or third language...

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Is it time for another election in Quebec already?

After almost a year since he last went to the polls, Jean Charest, although not leading in the polls, has not had as disastrous a term as many predicted might be the case. His personal popularity is even rising. Unfortunately for his chances at a majority, his support remains low among francophone voters. Coupled with the fall-out from the ridiculous faux-scandal invented by Le Journal over the Christmas season, where one of their reporters went on a sting to find out if Montreal stores, desperate for part-time staff, would hire a unilingual anglophone, the PLQ appears to be trying to firm up its nationalist credentials by promising stricter enforcement of the Charte de la langue francaise. I'm sure this is just stage one of the planned response to the Bouchard-Taylor Commission, expected to report later this month.

For me, this all begs the question of how long a siege mentality can be sustained? At what point will the Quebecois punditry decide that the French language no longer needs new, additional protections (on top of the existing Charter and regulations) to resist the Anglo menace? Will the day come when language is no longer used as a wedge issue, when the major political parties no longer have to wrap themselves tightly in the cloak of "defender of the language laws"? That day seems like it is a long way off.

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