The Electric Pencil

Archive for June 2008

Wente and the budgie…

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That Margaret Wente over at the Globe & Mail* just cracks me up. I know she’s trying hard, and she’s hoping to be funny, but c’mon:

There are transmen who prefer sex with men, ones who prefer sex with women and, for all I know, ones who prefer sex with budgies.

Now I know that she probably doesn’t really think transmen have sex with budgies (although you’d have to ask her about that…), but when there are still some people running around painting homosexuality and ‘queerness’ in general as a slippery slope to beastiality or pedophilia, you’d think that she, or maybe her editors, would think twice about that kind of, um, humour.

(*I know this is my second post in a row picking on the Globe. I’ll make sure to read the National Post tomorrow, just to be fair…)


Written by Tim McSorley

June 26, 2008 at 6:19 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Missing Voices: Media coverage of Harper’s apology left obvious holes

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Although I’ve contributed to The Dominion before, I’ve recently joined the team to coordinate the Media Analysis section. I’ll be writing fairly regularly for the paper (and will be looking for submissions – let me know if you have any ideas).

My first piece for the media analysis section, looking at some of the holes in the mainstream media’s coverage of the Canadian government’s recent apology to residential school survivors, is now up on the site. Let me know what you think – I’m looking for feedback! Leave your comments below here or on The Dominion site.

Here’s the opening paragraph – you gotta visit The Dominion to read the rest…

Missing voices

Media coverage of Harper’s apology left obvious holes

by Tim McSorley

The Dominion –

Reactions in the media to the federal government’s June 12 apology for the horror and tragedy of the residential school system came quickly and were plenty. Many, including pieces in the Vancouver Sun and the Toronto Star, called on the federal government to take further, immediate action to back up the apology.

But even when challenging the government, by and large the underlying message in the press was: Now that we have said sorry, Canadians can pat ourselves on the back and feel better about our colonial past. While there is little doubt that such an apology was necessary and is an important step forward, the majority of mainstream media coverage shied away from the fact that we are still living in a colonial present. Read the rest

PS: If you like what you see over at The Dominion, please take the time to consider joining the Media Co-op and helping to ensure the newspaper can continue to do its important work. While the content on the site is free, we still gotta pay the bills!

Written by Tim McSorley

June 26, 2008 at 12:28 pm

Security certificates and habeas corpus: Charkaoui back in court

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Tomorrow marks the beginning of the next phase of Adil Charkaoui‘s campaign for justice: Charkaoui will be appearing in court to once again challenge the legality of Canada’s contentious security certificate laws.

A Canadian permanent resident, since 2003 Charkaoui has been held by the federal government under a security certificate for allegedly being a terrorist sleeper agent with ties to known terrorists, including Ahmed Ressam.

Charkaoui’s case, and that of four other men accused of terrorism-related charges, has thrown a bright light on security certificates – essentially hyper-arrest warrants based on national security, and issued directly by the federal government. Those charged under these security certificates have no access to the evidence against them. Until recently, even their lawyers – if they do not have proper security clearance, and most don’t – faced incredibly limited access to the evidence needed in order to defend their clients.

That changed in February 2007, when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled the certificates unconstitutional  after a lengthy and public campaign by Charkaoui’s supporters and various Canadian human rights and legal organisations.

By the end of the year, though, the government had adopted a new, slightly modified security certificate law, which even the bar association of Quebec said was essentially the same as the original law.The new law allows for specially government-appointed defense attorneys with enough clearance to see a summary of the evidence against their clients.

As of 9:30am tomorrow, June 20th, Charkaoui will be in Montreal court to begin a new challenge to the security certificate law, arguing the changes do not actually meet the requirements set out by the Supreme Court and should therefore be once again struck down. Charkaoui will also be arguing habeas corpus – essentially that the current proceedings, including the destruction of evidence by CSIS that could prove his innocence, deny his right to a fair trial and a legitimate defense. The Coalition Justice for Adil Charkaoui is calling on concerned citizens and backers to attend tomorrow’s court proceedings to show their support for the campaign.

Full call-out after the jump.


Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Tim McSorley

June 19, 2008 at 4:37 pm

Écosociété SLAPP’d again; government promises relief in fall

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Last week, as Écosociété was preparing for their benefit show to raise funds for their legal battle with Barrick Gold, the small Montreal publishing house got his with another Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP). Banro Corporation, which, while much smaller than Barrick, also holds rights to gold extraction in the Congo, filed a lawsuit in Ontario Superior court for $5 million dollars, claiming Écosociété and the authors of Noir Canada (Alain Deneault, Depphine Abadie et William Sacher) deliberately published falsehoods about the company. Deneautl has replied to this lawsuit the same way he responded to Barrick: that all the information published was already public knowledge, released by reputbale organisations such as the United Nations and Human Rights Watch, and that no lawsuits were ever launched over previously published reports.

This brings the total Écosociété is being sued for over Canada Noir, which deals with Canadian mining company human rights violations in Africa, to $11 million – or nearley 50 times the amount Écosociété takes in annually. Even more worrisome, writes the company on thei support campaign website, is that this also means defending themselves in not one, but two different jurisdictions, in two languages and under two different legal codes (civil law in Quebec and common law in Ontario).

The intrepid publishers were granted some good news on Friday, June 13, though, when the Quebec government, as promised, declared it would be introducing legislation to severely limit SLAPP lawsuits and help shift both legal and financial burden onto those who would launch such spurious lawsuits. As such things go, though, parliament is on the verge of it’s summer recess, and the legislation will only be voted on this fall. In the meantime, Écosociété, author Deneault et al. will need to sweat it out over the summer, hoping that legal fees don’t pile up too high.

To find out more about the Écosociété suppot campaign: http://slapp.écosociété.org

P.S. Watch for the double slap about 11 seconds in…

Today’s reads

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IMAGE: An AK-47 bullet entered Faustino Vásquez’s chest and exited through his shoulder. Another shot pierced his wrist. Vásquez’s cousin, journalist Fel’citas Mart’nez Sánchez, was assassinated (From In These Times: Death Squads in Oaxaca).

Written by Tim McSorley

June 13, 2008 at 4:13 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

City of Montreal: Let them ride bikes!

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While we knew it was coming, we didn’t know when. But it’s official: Montreal plans to kick off a new self-serve bicycle program this fall. Come September, the city will set up four stands with about 40 bicycles as a pilot project in the boroughs of Ville Marie, Plateau Mont Royal and Rosemont/Petite Patrie. Once the kinks are worked out, next Spring will see 2,400 bikes at 300 stations around Montreal.

The program will feature mobile stands, both so the city can move them around, and also so they can be removed for snow removal in the winter. The bikes themselves will be made of light-weight aluminum to avoid rust and will feature easily adjustable seats, 3 gears and a bag rack on the front.

No word yet on the exact cost, but city officials say it will be less than the price of a bus ticket, so under $2.75. The fee scale will most likely be based on models currently used in Europe, with the first 30 minutes being very cheap, and steep rises afterwards as a way to limit people going on long joy rides. Payment will be made either through a a charge card or by credit card.

To try and hype up the project and get the community involved, Montrealers are also being asked to propose a name for the new bike network. You can make your submissions through Contestants are asked to suggest a name, and then go back later to vote for their favorite proposal. Some nifty prizes to win, too, including a free lifetime membership with the yet-to-be named bike system


PS – No one seems to be quite sure if the picture above is what the bikes will actually look like. Part of the surprise, I guess…

Written by Tim McSorley

June 11, 2008 at 4:44 pm

KI6, Nepal & Bees: Dominion #51 out today

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Fresh off the presses is the latest issue of The Dominion.

Number 51 features:

  • Coverage of several Indigenous communities fighting destructive resource extraction and the political measures that make it possible in Ontario and Quebec.
  • On-the-ground coverage of mining in Colombia and Maoists in Nepal
  • New stories on the Art of Walking, bees in Nova Scotia, Haiti’s recent history, and much more…

The Dominion is a monthly, grassroots newspaper distributed throughout Canada featuring writers and stories from communities across the country, with a healthy dose of international coverage thrown in. Over the past years it has become one of the most important sources in Canada for news not covered by the mainstream press, regularly publishing stories about Canada’s role in Afghanistan, in the internationally destructive mining industry, and important domestic issues such as the government’s continued oppression of First Nations communities and the challenges we face from large-scale industrialisation projects such as the tar sands development in northern Alberta. It also provides a venue to showcase and discuss the powerful stories of resistance, alternatives and victories that are also often dropped from the corporate media’s coverage.*

You can find out more about The Dominion here. To find out how you can support The Dominion, check out the Dominion Media Co-op.

*I have written for and am currently a copy-editor with The Dominion. Just so you know…

Written by Tim McSorley

June 11, 2008 at 11:03 am