Not So Fast, Canada

It’s the hangover after the night of blackout debaucheries that was the American election. And every Canadian on my newsfeed is, while resisting the urge to vomit, expressing relief that we live in Canada. The world is also remembering Canada and our peaceful legacy; The Canadian immigration website is reported to have crashed from overwhelming traffic, reinforcing a narrative that’s been passed around this election cycle–that Canada is better than America.

And it is! We have all the trappings of American culture with none of the shittiness. We’re America lite; America, but nicer. But it’s not particularly hard to be nicer than America right now.

Yes, we haven’t elected an incompetent man who calls Mexicans “rapists”. But that’s only because we have a couple of things Americans seem to be lacking; universal healthcare, a reasonable minimum wage, gun regulations, and more.

The fact is, it’s easy to vote for the status quo when the status quo is a little less shitty, and that’s exactly what we do here in Canada. We twiddled our thumbs for 9 years while Stephen Harper eroded much of our peacekeeping, environmentalist identity, all because he didn’t explicitly want to deport all Muslim people. And for all that we have over America, there are a number of ways in which we bear an uncomfortable resemblance to our southern neighbours.

Here’s an abbreviated list of some of the things we share with America:

Racist policing practices. Our own Toronto police are best known for their racist carding practices, and we’ve had our share of police shootings.

Our own, unique history of genocide against Indigenous people. Here’s a link to the atrocities committed in residential schools. And Indigenous people in Canada enjoy a lowered standard of living and disgustingly high suicide rates to this day.

Environmental destruction. The Harper years were hard for this one, with Canada sliding pretty far down the list of nations for protecting the environment. And we have the shame of the Alberta Tar Sands to live down, too.

And thanks to the election, we’re likely to enjoy some of the same violence against people of colour inspired by Donald Trump‘s rhetoric. There are Trump supporters here, too. Even if many of us reject his ideology of hatred and violence, nationalism won’t protect us or the most vulnerable members of our society.

We have some housework of our own to do here in Canada: cause if you’re thinking this whole thing wouldn’t have happened to us in America’s position, you’re not learning. Nobody expects the bloviating bigot, and we would do well to try and learn from what we’ve seen in the U.S. this election season.

But at least we have Trudeau.

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Some musings on gun control

It’s been awhile since the last mass shooting in the U.S.–hey it’s actually been a month! neat–which means that the issue has faded from the forefront of a lot of minds. How sickening that a month free of mass shoo–

–oops, that’s the list of SCHOOL shootings. There have already been 5 mass-shootings in September, and we’re like one week in. (If you want to really hate the U.S. look at how fucking long it takes to scroll through the list of school shootings).

Anyhow, I chanced across this interview with the musician Kesha wherein she discusses her gun control activism, and this quote in particular stuck out to me:

“I understand that the right to own a gun is a constitutional issue, but our first right as humans is to live. By not putting some sort of boundaries on gun ownership, the right to simply live is taken away from some people for no reason.”

Examples abound of countries that have tightened their gun regulation and whose  incidences of mass-shootings have decreased as a result. So what might a proponent of gun rights say to these foreign case studies?

I think the likely response would be that we don’t want the safety those countries have because it would mean we can’t have something we want. And the subtext is, we prefer a place where we have the power to kill over a place where our children are demonstrably safer.

What does it mean to support the right to have or do whatever you want? It means that you’re deeply, unconscionably selfish.

And just for fun here’s a story about a gun rights activist shooting her own children in a fit of rage.