The Mystery In Space Programs

By Ethan Blumberg

I have always asked myself why the Canadian and American governments annually spend enormous amounts of money on their respective space programs and different international space initiatives. The scale of the spending has led to a constant debate in both Canada and the United States for many years. While I do understand the global importance of space exploration, I believe that the two nations that are at the forefront of the field are allocating funds at a senseless rate. It seems to me that the negligent spending of both Canada and the United States is taking away funds from serious issues the two Countries face back on earth.

Growing up in Canada I have gained a good grasp of the adversity our continent faces and at the same time, I realize the magnitude of resources needed to combat issues such as unemployment, education and poverty. The transparency of how much is being spent by Both NASA and the Canadian Space Agency allows for me as an average citizen to see the immense capital needed to fuel the two organizations that are so synonymous with space exploration. The financial numbers that are constantly being exhibited by the two groups are extremely large, but rarely indicate or just what exactly will come out of the funding.  An example of this neglectful spending is that the Canadian government set aside $379 million in the 2016 federal budget just to preserve our countries partnership with the International Space Station.  Canada went ahead with the investment knowing there may not be a great return on the massive deal that was reached. Professionals, alongside elected officials, decided that this was the best use of all that money, while around 4 million Canadians still live with food insecurity. This statistic includes the over 1 million children in Canada who live in a household that struggles to put food on the table. Knowing this how am I supposed to be able to come to terms with the fact that Canada is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to enhance space exploration, at the same time that many of my fellow Canadians are facing detrimental obstacles in their day to day life.

There are similar issues with the much larger scale and more dynamic National Aeronautics and Space Administration South of the border. NASA is a storied part of the American government, with a long history of success. However, that is not so much the case anymore. Not being able to achieve the same level of technological breakthroughs has led me to believe that the inefficiency of the United States space exploration program should result in even more cuts than have previously occurred to this date. NASA’s yearly budget is still close to 20 billion dollars. The portion of the federal budget that NASA receives is about an astonishing 40% of what the U.S. federal government spends on education each year.  The public education system is often criticized for reasons such as overcrowding within American public schools. These numbers are just another illustration of the unconscionable mismanagement of federal funds that are going towards the countries space program rather than to assisting those in need.

Finally, I think it is important to state that I don’t want to discredit any of the programs I spoke upon, because I am well aware of the importance of NASA, the Canadian Space Agency and space exploration as a whole. I just believe that both Canada and the United States should take a step back and re-evaluate how they are funding their own space programs. In order to ensure the government doesn’t make negligent spending decisions that could instead be going towards more egalitarian causes.


Ethan is a grade 11 student at FHCI and is a Social Issues Editor for The Golden Falcon newspaper.

Image Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyEzsAy4qeU

What Was Wrong With the TDSBs Attempt to Close Specialized Programs

By Josh Blatt

The TDSB previously announced in their Equity Task Force’s report that they would be planning for “optional attendance and specialized schools [to] be phased out.” This would mean the closing of programs such as advanced placement, gifted, cyberarts, MaCS, TOPS as well as many others. For obvious reasons, there was a large community uproar, as the school board threatened to close many of the programs that people are currently enrolled in or are passionate about. As a result, the taskforce amended their report and removed this clause. However, to many including myself, it is not clear what would have led them to believe that this would be beneficial. Are there reasons that specialized programs should be closed despite the Equity Task Force’s decision discard this idea? Or, was this an example of equity being stretched too far?

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Toronto District School Board (TDSB)

 

Equity can be defined as the equality of outcome, rather than the equality of opportunity. For instance, giving every student the same amount of time to complete a test is an example of equality. In contrast, giving specific students who have been professionally determined to require extra time on tests is an example of equity. The objective of both equality and equity is to create fairness, but they evidently each do so in a slightly different manner.

Nevertheless, it seems as though the taskforce felt they could achieve equity by closing many of the specialized programs and redistributing the funds that were previously allocated for them amongst many of the less fortunate schools to improve them. Given that the objectives of extra time on tests and closing specialized programs are the same, why is the latter so much more controversial?

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TDSB Education Office – Toronto, ON

 

The main distinction that must be made is that equity (generally speaking) is fairer than equality if it does not negatively affect the general population. For example, giving students who require it extra time on tests does not negatively impact the rest of the class. However, the situation becomes far more complex as soon as you take resources away from one group to give it another. In the case of the Equity Task Force’s initial recommendation of closing specialized programs, the students aspiring to attend and attending these programs would undoubtedly be negatively impacted. The question that should be asked to determine if this should be done is: would the benefits of the additional funding at worse off schools outweigh the benefits these specialized programs offer to the students? If this were to be the case, then the equity task force should have explained these to the public. But since this was not done and a blanket statement saying that specialized programs would be phased out, it is no surprise that the community responded as they did.


Josh Blatt is the Head Social Issues Editor for The Golden Falcon newspaper. Write a letter to the editor via email at FHCIGoldenFalcon@gmail.com.

Let’s Talk About Those Sexual Harassment Allegations

The Golden Falcon responds to the Sexual Harassment Allegations in Hollywood


By Sapna Humar and Abi Parameswaran

 

So many allegations, such little time—how can this be justified? It’s been less than two months since the Harvey Weinstein scandal began to unfold, and yet, there have been numerous accusations toward other men in power positions since then. It seems that this case was the catalyst for many victims to come forward and bring these people to justice. It seems incomprehensible and malicious, to see men, and even women, in power abuse their authority in such a way to harm those who are simply trying to make a living in this complicated society.

It all started on October 5, when the New York Times published an article where decades of allegations against Harvey Weinstein were brought forth by well-known actresses such as Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd. Later on, after the news blew up, Weinstein was fired by the board of his company. Numerous celebrities, such as Brie Larson and George Clooney, openly responded to the Weinstein allegations, which spurred the Twitter hashtag “#MeToo,” which flooded social media with stories of harassment and assault all across the world. This hashtag brought to life the story of many other women and men who continuously struggle to face their sexual harassment issues within their own lives

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Kevin Spacey

Over the next two months, it seemed like every news story was about men or women who used to be respected, but now had been accused of sexual assault or harassment. The next big-time actor to be accused was Kevin Spacey, just over a month ago. Even more recently, on November 29th, American television journalist Matt Lauer was accused of “inappropriate sexual behaviour in the workplace” and his employment was promptly terminated by NBC News. Another case, brought forward on December 4th,  had Melanie Martinez, famous singer-songwriter, accused of rape by her former friend. This proves how it is not only men who commit these disgusting acts, but women as well, and both should be given equal punishment for their crimes. For these allegations to come out so recently shows that this issue is far from over and there are, without doubt, many more men and women out there who have so far gotten away with it. Hopefully, they will receive retribution as more and more victims stand up for themselves and others like them.

Of course, it is impossible to discuss sexual harassment without mentioning Donald Trump, President of the United States, and a very controversial figure in the media. He has over twenty different allegations against him from a variety of women, including his ex-wife, yet was still elected into office, giving us a hint as to where American priorities truly lie.

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Donald Trump, President of the United States

These atrocities can never truly be justified. Simple apologies and ignorance should not be the approach of the abuser—there must be real change seen in society. The fact that people are able to come forward and talk about these serious events already show the progression that is being made on the issue of sexual abuse and assault. However, it should not end there. People should continue to speak up about the injustices they face, and steps should be taken to ensure that this ruthless behaviour is halted. The countless allegations within the past weeks are unjustifiable, and the fact that so many stories have been brought to light in such little time shows the seriosity and longevity of this issue. It is time for this to stop. It is time to take a stand, one story at a time.

Perhaps it was Weinstein’s case that gave victims the courage to come forward, or maybe it was our changing society, that is slowly moving towards the de-stigmatization of sexual assault. Whatever it was, whether they be famous celebrities or middle-class workers, victims of sexual harassment and assault are no longer afraid to openly accuse the wrongdoer. They are no longer afraid to bring the perpetrators to justice, even though they may be men or women in powerful positions. The benefits of social media can clearly be seen with these cases as the bandwidth of victims from all across the world are coming together to voice their hidden stories. The past two months have been revolutionary for this topic and for these people, and if we continue on our current path as a society, if we continue to support and accept victims of sexual assault, our future will better and brighter than ever. Change is happening and these two months are proof of it. The difference that can be seen through word of mouth and awareness is truly profound, and will only lead to good things ahead.

 


Abi and Sapna are grade 11 students at FHCI and are both part of the editorial team of The Golden Falcon newspaper.

20 ccs of Gun Control, Stat!

The Federalist
By Tatiana Bogdanov

26 people were killed on November 5th. Another 20 were injured. Texas experienced its worst mass shooting in modern history, in a church. Sutherland Springs, the community in which it took place, is shaken.  

The pastor’s 14-year-old daughter is among the dead.

Devin Patrick Kelley is the perpetrator of this crime. At around 11:20 am, he was seen at a gas station across from the church. Shortly after, he crossed the road, and opened fire as he entered. The shooter soon fled the church, as another resident opened fire on him. He was later found dead in his car due to a gunshot wound.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen something like this. Hell, it’s far from the first time we’ve seen something like this. Take a look at what happened in Las Vegas, where 58 people died and 546 were injured, the single deadliest mass shooting in American history. The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, where 20 children died, remains burned into many people’s minds.

Under the most narrow definition of mass shooting used by the Congressional Research Service, America has seen 10 from January 1st to November 5th of this year, one a month. Under the broader definition that the Gun Violence Archive uses, America has seen 307 mass shootings at the same time, raising the average to seven a week.

So what’s wrong? Why is this happening, in one of the most developed countries in the world? Why are we seeing so many innocent people reduced to statistics?

I’d wager to say that gun control may be the issue here.

Apparently, not even a shooting where 58 people were killed can convince American lawmakers that something has to be done. Not even a shooting where kids lost their lives could convince American lawmakers that something has to change. Not even a shooting in a church, a sacred place for the 67.3% of Americans that practice Christianity/Catholicism, is enough for a, “huh, maybe laws do have to change”.

Of course, not every American is turning a blind eye to this. In fact, most aren’t. According to the Pew Research Centre, 52% of Americans believe that gun control laws should be more strict. There is broad support for preventing people with mental illnesses from purchasing guns, requiring background checks at gun shows, and creating a government database to track all gun sales. But, the Centre also finds that these people are less likely to contact government officials about gun law reform, than people that are in favour of less gun control.

So, in the end, nothing gets done.

After a mass shooting in America, the news is overtaken by the event. The conversation, however, has little focus on gun control laws. We receive coverage of what happened, some talk about gun control reform from liberal news sources, and lots of talk about how it’s the fault of mental illness from conservative news sources and the NRA, until something else happens, and the country just… moves on. Shrugs it’s shoulders, and looks away. The debate for stricter gun laws is never long enough to actually push for any change.

It’s almost as if people have become numb to the carnage because we see it so often.

And of course, conservative news sources aren’t necessarily wrong; America does need a better way of “dealing” with people with mental illnesses. They need to implement more support, more understanding; destigmatize it so people feel comfortable seeking out this support. Make psychiatric services more accessible for legitimately struggling people.

But I personally don’t think this is the root of the problem. The way America deals with mental illness also has to be discussed, but the number one way of preventing so many mass shootings?

Gun control laws.

We’ve seen it around the world. It’s not a particularly radical idea.

In 1996, Australia experienced its history’s worst mass shooting, and promptly tightened up gun control (which included buying and destroying over 600,000 firearms from its population), and it hasn’t had a mass shooting since. After a school shooting in the UK, the Firearms Act 1997 was passed and all gun crimes fell dramatically. Japan has banned all swords and firearms, with a 1958 law stating, “no one shall possess a firearm, or firearms, or a sword, or swords,” and in 2014, only had six reported gun deaths.

Even Canada, perhaps the most similar country to the US, deals with gun laws better. And, we can still be considered as “having a gun control problem.” We have the fourth highest rate of gun homicides when compared to the countries in the European Union. 331 shootings have taken place in Toronto this year alone. We just have to look at the shooting that occurred at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City on January 29th, to know that Canada has work to do too.

Comparing Canada to the US though? It makes Canada seem pretty damn strict. Canada implements background checks for anyone purchasing a firearm, in any situation, focusing on mental illness and addiction. The US only requires one when purchasing from a licensed dealers. Canadian residents wishing to purchase a firearm are required to take a safety course, which includes a written and practical exam, and have to retake it every five years. In the US, there is often no such requirement.

As Canadian citizens, as the neighbours of the good ol’ USA, we have to be concerned about this problem. What starts in the US can spread all around the world.

We’ve seen that with Donald Trump and his ideologies, with 92 lawmakers part of a far-right party being elected in Germany, with the January mosque shooting in Canada being perpetuated by a man who expressed support for Trump.

So for now, we should work on minimizing gun violence in Canada and the countries still dealing with this problem, and hope that the US follows suit. No country should have citizens dying for no reason at all.

Period.

“How many people will have to die before we will give up these dangerous toys?”

-Stephen King, Guns


Do you agree or disagree? Share your opinion here.

Ethnic Cleansing is Still Very Much With Us

By Linda Cako

As of September 19, 2017, over 400,000 stateless Rohingya Muslims have been forced to leave their homes in Myanmar and flee into neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Thailand and Malaysia. Bangladesh’s refugee camps are quickly becoming one of the world’s largest. Since August 2017, 20,000 new refugees enter and seek relief each day. It is estimated that these camps will hit one million refugees if the crisis continues to worsen (EuroNews, 2017). They are all leaving Myanmar due to the fact that the Burmese Military is destroying the Rohingya’s villages, and is raping and killing them.

They are all leaving Myanmar due to the fact that the Burmese Military is destroying the Rohingya’s villages, and is raping and killing them.

The Rohingya are a minority ethnic group in Myanmar compared to its overall Buddhist majority. While Myanmar claims the Rohingya population are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, the Rohingya population dates back to Myanmar’s population since the twelfth century (Human Rights Watch). The group has consistently been denied citizenship and documents and is considered to be one of the most targeted group of people today (The Guardian, 2017).They continue to live as stateless people within Myanmar’s boarders while Bangladesh is also refusing to give the Rohingya any documentation because it says the Rohingya are Burmese.

“50% are still intact? What does that mean? That 50% are gone, are burnt down. You know, 50% was a failing mark when I went to school”.

Myanmar is denying that there is any ethnic cleansing or genocide occurring within its borders to the UN and was happy to report that 50% of the Rohingya villages are still intact. Phil Robertson, a Deputy Director of HRW Asian Division, says, “50% are still intact? What does that mean? That 50% are gone, are burnt down. You know, 50% was a failing mark when I went to school”.

Satellite images are reporting to show the damages done in the villages as late as September 8, 2017 where 158 buildings were burned and destroyed.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, says, “the situation seems to be a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

World Leaders still haven’t decided how to punish the government’s military. And Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi, has received international criticism for not putting more effort into stopping the cleansing. While she has made efforts to change the country’s constitution in the past, unfortunately she has little to no power in achieving much since Myanmar is a “military-drafted constitution”. This means the army has a very integrated role within the government (CNN, 2017). In fact the army is required to make up 25% of all seats in the parliament, and for any changes to be made within the constitution more than 75% of the parliamentarians are required to vote (The Economist, 2014).

Until any action takes place, more innocent Rohingya will be targeted and displaced or killed by the Burmese Military.

Six Podcasts by Grade 11 Students

These podcasts were written and recorded by FHCI Grade 11 English students.

Amelia talks about biracial identity:

Andi’s interviews about ads and body image:

Jules talks to fellow “sneaker heads” in this podcast:

Evelyn discusses conspiracy theories:

Emma talks about school spirit (and the lack thereof) in this podcast:

Sandra’s interviews about gender and sexual identity:

It Is Past Time for Prison Reform

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Please Note: The following is an opinion piece

By Rachel Nirenberg

If you follow American politics at all, you’ll find that it’s impossible to have any sort of discussion about race or the criminal justice system in the United States without hearing the phrase “prison-industrial complex”. Though it’s recently made its way into the mainstream and even been invoked by centre-left politicians such as Hillary Clinton, the concept is not new and has origins far older than Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. It was initially coined by Angela Davis, an American activist known for her historical connections to the American Communist and Black Panther parties. In her 2003 book titled Are Prisons Obsolete?, Davis explains the concept of the prison-industrial complex:

Each new prison spawned yet another new prison. And as the U.S. prison system expanded, so did corporate involvement in construction, provision of goods and services, and use of labor. Because of the extent to which prison building and operation began to attract vast amounts of capital – from the construction industry to food and health care provision – in a way that recalled the emergence of the military industrial complex, we began to refer to a “prison industrial complex.”

To put it simply, as the number of prisons in the United States increased, so did their need for goods and services which were provided by private companies. Whenever you involve private companies, the purpose of whatever you are creating shifts. Since private companies by definition seek to make money, you have now created a class of people who have a vested interest in ensuring the proliferation of prisons. For big companies, the logic is simple. In order to make the maximum profit, prisons must not just continue to exist but must increase.

The corporations that stand to benefit from the prison industry aren’t always obvious. Take, for example, the case of the phone company AT&T, who, for a price, provides phone calls from inmates to family and friends. If AT&T wants to make as much money as possible, a prison system with empty prisons and thus no one to use their services is not in their best interest. Therefore, AT&T joins lobbying groups such as ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), which advocate for tough-on-crime legislation that ensures that the prisons that currently exist stay full and that new prisons are always being built.

Though the issues with the American legal system often get the most press, anyone pretending that the same issues do not exist in our Canadian system is kidding themselves. Despite falling crime rates, the number of incarcerated Canadians and the severity of their sentences continues to increase. Billions of dollars are spent building and maintaining prisons here too and as a result, the private companies who contract with the government stand to make huge profits.

The increasing privatization of the prison system is not the only issue present in our system. People of colour, especially black and Aboriginal people, are greatly overrepresented in Canadian prisons. Together, black and Aboriginal Canadians make up about 7% of the general Canadian population but account for 35% of the prison population. The reasons for these disparities are, of course, nuanced and complex, but it is clear that systemic racism plays a significant part, despite the Charter and other legal sanctions meant to protect minorities from discrimination. Criminalization of visible minorities and institutionalized racism are often presented as solely or at least primarily American issues, but it is obvious that they are present in Canada too. The insidious denial of their existence does nothing to help anyone but instead makes them even more difficult to address.

The Canadian government must also look seriously at the human rights abuses rife within its criminal justice system. The case of Adam Capay, an Aboriginal man who spent four years in solitary confinement awaiting trial, horrified the nation for a brief time but ultimately did not horrify it enough to create any real change. Solitary confinement, which is widely accepted, even by the government, to be a cruel and unusual punishment is used far too often in Canadian prisons. Though solitary confinement is officially a “last resort”, half of all Canadian prisoners report spending at least some time there. In 2015, Prime Minister Trudeau called on his Justice Minister to investigate and eventually phase out solitary confinement, but so far, this has been for naught; no concrete action has been taken.

It is past time for the government to take responsibility for the serious issues present in our justice system. Privatization of prisons, racism by law enforcement, and the denial of the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment are not solely American problems. Canadians who smugly assert our justice system’s superiority to that of the United States do nothing to solve the problems inherent in it and enable a passive, lazy attitude that allows these problems to continue to go unaddressed. What Canada really needs and has needed for decades is a comprehensive system of reforms meant to address the issues in Canadian prisons. If we as a society continue to be unable to even acknowledge these issues exist, change will not come. It is time to pull back the curtain, take a long, hard look at our justice system, and get our hands dirty fixing it.

Aboriginal Minority Rights

By: Sabrina Negeri

In collaboration with Editors

The best predictor of future behavior is often past behavior. In the past, not only has the Canadian Government idly sat by as horrendous crimes were committed against Aboriginals, many attempts of reconciliation have failed. Aboriginals had been in North America for thousands of years before the Europeans arrived and slowly started taking away their rights through oppressive methods like the Indian Act. Taking land and autonomy away, ceasing of treaties and cultural genocide are all examples of this treatment. Commissions and inquiries into Aboriginal peoples have been done throughout the past but with limited success. Therefore, the promised enforcement of the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission will not succeed due to the 1996 Royal Commission, non-legal binding of Truth and Reconciliation Commissions and the Federal governments inability to uphold Aboriginal minority rights.

In 1996, the federal government concluded their Royal Commission on Aboriginal peoples. The Royal Commission proposed solutions for a new and better relationship between Aboriginal peoples and the Canadian government, including recognition of the right of self-government, settlement of land claims, measures to eliminate inequities between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in Canada, and the creation of Aboriginal justice systems. About 20 years later, not much of that change has been seen. In 2006, a report card was given to the Ottawa government in respect to their proposed changes, which received a failing grade. The report card said despite the commission, First Nations communities continue to face ongoing poverty and an increasing gap in living conditions with other Canadians. Even though recommendations were put forth, the government failed to act upon them. When nothing was done for 20 years following the Royal Commission, it is hard to believe there will be a difference with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

As well as Canada’s failure to act on the recommendations of the Royal Commission, Truth and Reconciliation commissions have been unsuccessful in the past as well. South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission admitted it failed to give a full and balanced account of abuses under apartheid. The TRC had produced “a few moving examples” of reconciliation between human rights abusers and their victims, such reconciliation had not found resonance across the country. The summary of the final report, released after years of hearings and testimony from thousands of residential school survivors and many others, made many bold and potentially costly recommendations. The fact of the matter is, Truth and Reconciliation Commissions are not bound by law, the government is under no legal obligation to follow through on recommendations. Until this is changed, the government can choose to ignore or stall on recommendations.

The promise of reconciliation, which seemed so imminent back in 2008 when the Prime Minister Harper, on behalf of all Canadians, apologized to survivors of residential schools has long faded. Canada’s past has been filled with the cultural genocide of aboriginals and denial of their rights.  In the case of R v Sparrow, the “Sparrow Test” has been used by many experts as a way of measuring how much Canadian legislation can limit Aboriginal rights. Aboriginals rights to fishing and land have been greatly restricted since the BNA Act by unapologetic governments. As well, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples argued that while section 25 of the charter guarantees the existence of self-government itself, the powers of such Aboriginal governments will be limited to respect the Charter rights of individual Aboriginals. A culture in Canada has formed where Canada can win only if indigenous people lose. This mentality desperately needs to change if Canada is to change its treatment of Aboriginals.

In conclusion, Truth and Reconciliation have two key parts, and though the truth is often expressed and shared, reconciliation is harder to come by. The mere promise of the federal government to enforce the recommendation of the Canadian government means nothing unless action is taken. For Reconciliation to thrive in the coming years, Canada must move from apology to action.

How the Canadian Government is Continuing to Fail Aboriginal People – Opinion

By: Rachel Nirenberg

The Truth and Reconciliation report, published in 2015, contains ninety four calls to action, each with several subsections. If followed to the letter, the Truth and Reconciliation report could greatly ameliorate the circumstances faced by Aboriginal people both on and off reserve. However, if history is any indication, it is unlikely that the report will be implemented completely by any Canadian government. Two other Royal Commissions have investigated the issues faced by Aboriginal people in Canada. Together, the Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996) and the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry (2013), made over five hundred suggestions to parliament, few of which were ever implemented. Still, critics will argue, Justin Trudeau is neither Stephen Harper nor Jean Chrétien, and his reputation should not suffer for their failures. Following this logic, the question then becomes: what has Trudeau’s government done to implement the suggestions made by the Truth and Reconciliation report?

In the year since the election, sixty four of one hundred and seventy seven bills that have been heard in Parliament have been proposed by the Liberal Party. Of these sixty four, only two, Bills S-212 and S-215, have concerned the welfare of Aboriginal people. One bill, S-212, concerns the rights enjoyed by Aboriginal communities as a linguistic minority. The other bill, S-215, proposes that violent crimes that target female, Aboriginal victims should be considered to have aggravating circumstances. In addition to the Party’s activity in Parliament, the Liberal Party has also launched a national inquiry into the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women. In April of 2016, Native Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett pledged over $2.6 billion towards Native education over the next five years. All of these are inarguably important steps towards reconciliation, but are they enough? The Trudeau government has now been in power for over a year. Considering the proposed bills, funds allocated to education, and the establishment of the Commission of Inquiry, Trudeau’s Liberals have now implemented three of the ninety four calls to action. For the sake of comparison, it should be noted that the City of Toronto alone has implemented seven. Though the Truth and Reconciliation report has not been completely ignored, its enforcement by the federal government is mediocre.

Should the implementation of the report continue to crawl along at a snail’s pace, it will make no meaningful difference to the quality of life of Aboriginal people. Though, during the election cycle, he made a point of decrying the Harper government’s general apathy towards the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Prime Minister Trudeau has actually done very little to ameliorate the issues raised by the Commission. In order to make a substantial difference, the federal government must do better. Without wholehearted action from Parliament, the thousands of pages written by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission are merely wasted paper. Until the suggestions of the Commission are taken seriously by the government, there will be no meaningful change in Canadian society.

A Separate Quebec – Opinion

Please note: the following is an opinion piece

By: Brandon Kaufman

In 1980, Quebec held a referendum that asked if its citizens desired a province with “sovereign-association” to Canada. Sixty percent of Quebecers rejected this change in dynamic. In 1995, another referendum put it more bluntly: Did Quebec wish to separate from the rest of Canada? This time, the results were far slimmer. Only 50.6% of Quebec citizens voted no. The razor-thin results seemed to indicate that Quebec was warming to the idea of partition. Yet for twenty years, nothing manifestly reflected this. That is until the election of 2015, which saw a re-birth of the Federal Bloc Quebecois Party. This was perhaps the first post-referendum demonstration of the continued demand for Quebec to be recognized as a distinct society.

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The demand has continued on account of the intense cultural anxiety felt amongst Quebec natives. To understand why this fear exists, one must look at the historical strife surrounding Quebec and the Anglophone provinces. Their friction dates back almost three hundred years, when New France fell and French-speaking Roman Catholics found themselves uncomfortably pledged to the Crown. Their fortunes did not get much better: the influx of American immigrants after their Revolution caused this minority to wane. Tensions burgeoned between the minority Francophones and majority English speakers; in 1911, for example, the government of Ontario introduced legislation that prohibited French schools.

Their dwindling population led to a Quebec panicked at the thought of a homogenized Canada: one wherein its people are uniformly anglophones. As such, they wanted to distinguish their province, inhibiting complete integration. Quebec first attempted to set themselves apart through Bill 101. The bill—officially titled the Charter of the French Language—mandated French as the only official language in Quebec. A clause in the bill stipulated that English may not be used on commercial and road signs. Valerie Ford, a retailer, thus was unable to put up her store signposts. She appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada in Ford v. Quebec. In a 9-0 ruling, the Court struck down the provisions that kept her from promoting her business. Next came the Meech Lake Accord, which would have recognized Quebec as a “distinct society”. It ultimately failed to be entrenched in the Constitution, much to the chagrin of some Progressive Conservative and Liberal MPs. These lawmakers defected from their parties, and established a new one dedicated to the principles on which the Accord was based — namely, separatism.

 

Recently, the party has found relative electoral success, holding ten seats in the House of Commons. They continue to push laws that attempt to distinguish Quebec from the rest of Canada. In 2015, Gilles Duceppe, then leader of the Bloc, called for an expansion to Bill 101. This is tangible evidence that the through-line of separatism—which began at the Plains of Abraham and intersects with efforts like the Meech Lake Accord—has no endpoint in sight.