Tag Archives: ontario

Profile: Andrew West

According to his website, Andrew West is a lawyer in the Ottawa area with specialization in Environmental Law and dispute resolution. He’s also the Green Party of Ontario’s Attorney General Critic. Currently, West has his sights set on leading the Green Party of Canada.

Following a career in the television industry working mostly as a sole proprietor/independent contractor, West attended Ryerson University (B.A. (Hons) in Politics and Governance) and University of Ottawa (Faculty of Law). West has volunteered for several NGO’s including a committee chair role for Amnesty International’s annual fundraiser, “Taste for Justice” – raising money to help stop violence against women.

West has run for office as a Green Party candidate in four election since 2014, most recently in a provincial by-election in Orleans (February 2020). When asked during a candidate debate whether education should be considered an essential service, West stated

“I think education is the most important thing we can do in this province.rather than making cuts and slashing…proper investment back in to the most important resource we have, our children.” The format of the debate did not provide adequate time for West to immediately elaborate on how investing back into children’s education might be achieved. Later, however, he stated that helping to create appropriate funding would be “to merge the public and Catholic school boards.

Ontario’s Ministry of Education is one of the province’s biggest Ministries. This massive ministry happens to house one of Canada’s greatest human rights embarrassments, the ongoing privileging of the Catholic religion via public-funding of Catholic school boards.

There are many individuals and organizations in Ontario who oppose the ongoing public privileging of the Catholic religion. Andrew West appears to be one of the few politicians willing to talk about ways and reasons to bring the Ministry of Education’s spending into line with principles of equal human rights.

Candidates for the leadership of the Green Party of Canada must raise $10,000.00 as part of their leadership campaign by the first week of June.  While it appears that the Party has a system to track credit for generating donations, the money does not go to an individual candidate, but to the Party. As of May 28, 2020 West does not yet appear to have reached the mile-marking of having his portrait appear as a candidate. Whether he progresses or not, advances in human rights will rely upon politicians like Andrew West who develop and communicate policy that is consistent with a common and shared humanity.

At www.humanistfreedoms.com we do not endorse any specific political party nor any candidate. However, from time to time, political parties and/or individual politicians take positions on issues that deserve to be recognized and analyzed. We are particularly interested in issues related to defending human rights and our common humanity. If think that a position taken by an individual politician or a political party deserves to be covered – contact us.

Virtual Events And Worthy Webinars

Humanist Association of Ottawa

Humanist Association of Ottawa Virtual Pub Nite

The Humanist Association of Ottawa (HAO) has been operating since 1968. Our vision is a world where reason and compassion guide public policy and social values to enable the fulfillment of human potential. Our mission is to promote the cause of humanism, foster the humanist community in Ottawa, and advocate for a secular public domain.

Time: Jun 1, 2020 07:00 PM in America/Toronto

Click here to register.

Clear, Empathic Communication in a Pandemic & Always (A Two-Part Series)

A Webinar with the Gold Foundation & Alda Center Thanks for joining us for this two-part informational webinar series, made possible by a grant from the Kavli Foundation and sponsored by the American Chemical Society. Please register below.

PART 1: WEDNESDAY, MAY 27TH, 1:00-1:20PM ET
PART 2: WEDNESDAY, JUNE 3RD, 1:00-1:20PM ET

Click here to register.

https://www.aldacenter.org/aldaonline

Centre for Inquiry Canada

Difficult Discussions – Why Secularists Disagree on Bill 21

This will be an online meeting using Zoom. You can join with a computer, tablet, smartphone, or by phone (audio only). Information will be provided to those who RSVP

Has there been a more contentious issue for secularists in Canada than Quebec’s Bill 21? At CFIC, we’ve seen that this issue has been divisive for our secular community. We think that it is important to have a discussion about this topic, not to change minds, but to enhance our understanding of differing perspectives.

The event will start with a presentation by Catherine Francis about the background of Quebec’s Secular Bill and the subsequent legal challenge, followed by a moderated Q+A and discussion
Whether you have a strong opinion about this bill (either for or against) or have watched the dialogue and not come to any conclusions, this webinar is for you.

This is part of a series of presentations about topics that our members disagree on. We recognize that while we all are aiming for a more just, secular society; we may have different views on how to get there. What we do know, is that as secularists, we must stick together on the big issues such as the funding of religion, elimination of blasphemy laws around the world and the use of science, rather than superstition to solve the world’s biggest issues.

About our Presenter:
Catherine Francis was called to the Ontario bar in 1987 and is a partner in the Litigation Group and Bankruptcy and Insolvency Group of Minden Gross LLP, a mid-sized Toronto law firm. Her practice is devoted largely to corporate/commercial, real estate, banking, and insolvency litigation.
In her spare time, Catherine is a member of several secular organizations and serves on the steering committee of the Humanist Association of Toronto. Catherine has frequently presented to Toronto Oasis, a community that meets regularly to create a place for freethinkers to celebrate the human experience, on legal issues of interest to the secular community.

Please join us on June 6, 2020 for a robust discussion of Bill 21.

Click Here to Register

Book Review: There is No Difference by Peter Best

According to the back cover of his book and his website, Peter Best is “a lawyer who has practiced law in Sudbury, Ontario for 43 years. Raised in nearby Espanola, favored with lifelong personal and professional relationships with indigenous Canadians, he brings a personal, literary and historical perspective to the greatest social crisis experienced by Canada today- the perilous state of its original peoples.”

What is the book? The long-form version of the title probably acts as the best summary of its contents: There Is No Difference: An Argument for the Abolition of the Indian Reserve System and Special Race-based Laws and Entitlements for Canada’s Indians. In a regular book review, we might investigate the overt arguments and contents of the book. Certainly the title contains enough potential for drama and controversy to whet almost any intellectual appetite. But that’s not what we’re going to do here. What we’re going to do, instead is feature, an underlying theme presented by Mr. Best.

On page three, he writes that when he was growing up in Espanola, “there was a sense that old religious and ethnic prejudices were hollowing out and being overcome, and that increasing social unity and equality was happening.” It is the first of many hints (and outright declarations) of an underlying theme of humanism to be found in the book. This is what we will consider.

How many books are currently published with an overt declaration of humanism or humanist values? More specifically, how many books are written about contemporary issues wherein humanist-based positions are asserted, explained, referenced and documented? These aren’t questions with precise answers. These are startled observations of an avid reader. I haven’t seen humanism asserted and affirmed so clearly and frequently in a long time. Water for the thirsty.

On page seven, Best writes…”the humanist assumptions were ones that emanated from the confident, busy, properous people we were then. They seemed to be shared by everyone, right to the political and economic top of the country. They highlighted what a civilized, progressive, ‘ideals in action’ society Canada was becoming.

The book is written as a series of essays which, across 700+ pages, delves the matter outlined in the title in pains-taking detail. Frequently Best grapples head-on with various ideologies and asserts arguments and positions contrary to those from Canadian intellectual and political “elites” (Best’s term). The book is thoroughly referenced and widely sourced. The overall theme is that “somewhere along the way, liberal, humanist aspirations once common to our entire country have ceded to various forms of petty and chauvinistic ideological tribalisms and, with respect to our Indian peoples, to actual racial tribalism.”

And then again, Best asserts that he believes “that the vast majority of Canadians profoundly disagree with this trend towards further legal and social racial apartness between Indian and non-Indian Canadians. They want our humanist values – with their emphasis on equality and the rights of the individual over the rights of any racial group – respected, maintained and promulgated in all areas of society….why this rejection of 200 years of enlightenment thinking?

The point to be made is not that all of Best’s arguments represent a clear, consistent and authoritative humanist approach to the topic. It seems highly unlikely, not to mention undesirable, that a singular humanist outlook should be asserted on any substantive matter. Nor should this article be read as an endorsement of every argument Best makes. Instead, Best is here approved on the basis of making an attempt to present a considered humanist-principled perspective on a hot and fraught topic.

Best makes an argument about his chosen subject that may be stated about any number of contemporary issues: “this issue is being driven and dictated by…a minority elitist theory of democracy, where on an issue of this importance the majority is being asked for and being offered no say.

Peter Best has asserted his version of a humanist-informed opinion. More humanists need to step forward to assert similarly cogent humanist perspectives on whatever contemporary issue seems to require the attention.

Freddy Redfin: The Story of Huntley Creek

Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Carp, Ontario is a village in the Township of Huntley lying in the western-most ward of Ottawa. As of 2012, the human population was estimated to be approximately 2000. The village sits on the edge of a geological fault running through the Carp River Valley know as the Carp Escarpment or Carp Ridge. Carp has been an Eastern Ontario centre for agricultural activities since the 1800s, perhaps best featured in contemporary events as the annual Carp Agricultural Fair. Close by the Diefenbunker, another well known local museum attraction, huddles underground – a persistent reminder of postwar fears of nuclear war. It is a bunker the politicians had planned to retreat to in the event of a devastating nuclear attack.

A group of Carp residents are concerned about a different kind of devastation – a devastation that is entirely local and entirely preventable. They are appealing the city’s decision to allow a Concrete Batching Plant at 2596 Carp Road. The group objects to the rezoning because they believe that the city has ignored a number of municipal and provincial planning regulations as well as the welfare of its citizens. The group’s main concerns regarding the placement of a concrete batching plant at this location are: significant increases in heavy truck traffic; significant air pollution and increase in hazardous airborne substances; contamination of groundwater; contamination of Huntley Creek and degradation of the surrounding area; detrimental impacts to homeowners who live adjacent to this site; detrimental impacts to the heritage cemetery that sits directly across the street and has done so for 160 years (well actually, long before there even was a street to be named).

Freddie Redfin the Story of Huntley Creek” is the result of a few of the local residents in Carp to take responsibility to try to prevent the devastation of a precious local eco-system. It is a children’s book written by local Carp, Ontario resident and author Dan Mayo and illustrated by local artist Jana Rothwell to highlight this struggle.

In Huntley Creek, every spring, a spectacle of nature is seen as hundreds of redfins migrate back to their spawning ground. This creek has born witness to the redfins annual migratory spawning for millennia, long before Canada existed! The carcinogenic dust from the plant will settle into these clean waters and contaminate it with heavy metals and silica. This pollution will necessarily flow downstream and poison the redfins, their offspring and an enormous diversity of wildlife, including many threatened and endangered species that live in or rely on the creek and spring waters.

These waters are the spawning grounds for the River Redhorse, known locally as redfins due to their red-colored fins. The redfins come to Huntley Creek because of Bradley Falls, a large spring-fed waterfall that cascades into the creek creating a pool of clean, cool oxygenated water and riffle rapids. These specific conditions are essential for the redfins’ to spawn!

The redfins are a heritage fish in Carp, Ontario and have lived in Huntley Creek long before Canada or the City of Ottawa existed as legal entities. In fact, the Town of Carp owes its name to the redfin fish. When early French settlers first discovered the river that was to be named the Carp River, they marveled at the thousands upon thousands of redhorses and related suckers to be seen during their annual migration. These fish were called “carpes à cochon” by the French, though the fish they were witnessing weren’t carp at all, but redfins. In the end the name stuck, and the town of Carp was named for the river it was built next to. None of this would have happened without Huntley Creek, however, because this creek is the only reason these fish make the migration up the Carp River.

Canadian governments and officials, at all levels, ought to respond to the demands and concerns of local residents who know and love their communities and Eco-systems. Placement of a polluting industry next to a pristine creek and natural springs will result in devastation of that local system. The City of Ottawa’s decision to allow heavy industry has failed to respect and act on the wealth of local knowledge and heritage. The local residents – whether counted as 2000 humans or the far greater number of non-human residents – will be the ones whose habitat is devastated. Perhaps, like with the building of the Diefenbunker, the politicians think the best way to contemplate devastation is to hide from it.

To help protect Huntley Creek, consider a donation:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/save-carp039s-water-supply-save-huntley-creek

Dr. Richard Thain Versus

We consider this matter closed.

On September 20, 2014, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights was opened to the public. Located in the City of Winnipeg, one of the Museum’s guiding principles is to inspire human rights, reflection and dialogue. It is a principle that ought, perhaps, to have been given closer attention when Dr. Richard Thain was advised that his interest to place a series of advertisements on the City of Winnipeg’s buses was rejected.

Dr. Thain had planned to advertise his opposition to the public funding of Catholic school systems in Canada. His idea was to leverage local and national media coverage of the museum’s grand opening to bring attention to his position on this issue. Thain worked with a professional advertising designer to develop a series of simple and elegant bus-ads. The theme of the ads was that the system of public funding for Catholic schools in Ontario is a human rights disgrace. The ads contained no images, words or phrases that could reasonably be considered offensive. The only contained a message that some people might disagree with.

Thain grounded his views with a position taken in 1999 by the United Nations Human Rights Committee when indicating that the provision of funding to Catholic school systems while simultaneously denying it to all other religious groups is discriminatory. Thain hoped to inspire intelligent, reasonable public discourse on this long-standing issue.

Thain contacted Pattison Outdoor Advertising, the firm responsible for the management of the City of Winnipeg’s bus advertising at the time, to gain access to advertising space. During the back-and-forth of price negotiations and content review, he began to understand that that some of the “higher-ups” did not agree with his views and planned to put an end to his campaign. It was then that he received a letter advising that his ads would not appear via the Winnipeg Transit system and that he would not be provided an explanation of why his ads had been blocked. No one from the City of Winnipeg called him as he had requested.

Thain says that he received a letter from the City of Winnipeg’s agent, one of Canada’s most powerful and influential advertising agencies, that contained a five-word sentence which altered his view of human rights in ways that he could not have imagined. The sentence read, “We consider this matter closed.”

No dialogue. No reflection. No right to self-expression.

Thain’s initial shock soon passed and he was struck by the need to confront a deep and worrisome dilemma. What do you when authorities tell you to go away? How do you fight City Hall? Thain decided that the matter was not closed. He decided to sue the City of Winnipeg and Pattison Outdoor Advertising.

In the summer of 2017, Thain procured Winnipeg-based legal counsel, Thompson Dorfman Sweatman LLP to represent him in his response. Thain believes that he has been denied his charter right to freedom of expression. and has launched a legal suit against the City of Winnipeg and Pattison Outdoor Advertising.  The parties in the suite are set for an examination for discovery on January 30 & 31. 2020 – 62 months since the attempted advertising campaign. An examination for discovery process is intended to help all parties in a law suit find out about the other side’s case. Generally the idea is for each party to find out what the other parties have to say about the matters contained in the lawsuit, to see whether there are areas of agreement and to try to obtain admissions which could be used during a trial.

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