For corporate killers, the free ride's over

For corporate killers, the free ride’s over

Hell’s History: The USW’s fight to prevent workplace deaths and injuries from the 1992 Westray Mine disaster through 2016
By Tom Sandborn (United Steelworkers, 76 pp, 2016) Each year on April 28, unions and other labour organizations across Canada observe the National Day of Mourning for workers killed or injured on the job. A solemn public ritual, the Day of Mourning ceremony typically features a procession of “pallbearers” carrying empty ...
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The stubborn persistence of justice

The stubborn persistence of justice

Assassination of a Saint: The Plot to Murder Oscar Romero and The Quest to Bring His Killers to Justice By Matt Eisenbrandt University of California Press (226 pp, $37.95) For those old enough to remember it, the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero on March 24, 1980 still resonates as one of the late twentieth century’s more tragic events, its historic significance extending well beyond the borders of El Salvador. For ...
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Fifteen Minutes of Shame

Fifteen Minutes of Shame

Predictably, it’s over before most of us knew it had even begun. The meteoric career of a cartoonish right-wing troll and social media shockmeister who happens to be gay—a sad human being who didn’t deserve a moment of serious attention—has come crashing down with all the sordid sensationalism that gave rise to it. Like most people in the English-speaking world, I was blissfully unaware of this vacuous sham artist’s existence ...
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A Letter to Justin Trudeau

A Letter to Justin Trudeau

Dear Prime Minister, As a native-born, Canadian male who happens to be married to an immigrant male who once fled a military dictatorship, I was heartened by your initial response to the U.S. ban on our Muslim neighbours. “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war,” you Tweeted, “Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada”. Such admirable sentiment, however, is not enough to prevent injustice unless ...
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2016: A Year of Good Reads

2016: A Year of Good Reads

According to some of my fellow writers, novelists should never read fiction while their own work is in progress. In the midst of writing a magnum opus, the argument goes, one should not be unduly influenced or distracted by another novelist’s style or method; to do so would risk derailing one’s own creative process by engaging in some form of subconscious mimicry. I would say that’s true while the writing itself is ...
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Donald Trump: Not a Reader

Donald Trump: Not a Reader

Dear Donald Trump, They say you're not a reader; that you don’t have time for books. “I never have,” you told the Washington Post this summer. “I’m always busy doing a lot.” Wow. I can’t imagine walking out the door every morning without having read some part of a book to start my day. (Imagine, actually doing things without reading!) Oh, but wait—what’s that you say? You do read magazines, and ...
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Nanaimo Pride: The Resistance of Memory

Nanaimo Pride: The Resistance of Memory

During the summer of 1993, as I was settling into a short-lived stint as the first publisher and editor of Xtra! West, Vancouver’s brand-new gay and lesbian biweekly, I received an overstuffed legal-size envelope in the mail from Don Hann. Best known as Vancouver’s first openly gay city hall daycare worker, Don Hann was a Stonewall generation LGBT activist who was also an amateur poet and self-appointed local queer historian/media ...
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After Paris: Getting our heads around ISIS

After Paris: Getting our heads around ISIS

We have not defeated the idea. We do not even understand the idea. -- Major General Michael K. Nagata, Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, on the mysterious appeal of ISIS (December 2014) The morning after the Paris attacks, a friend in Jakarta posted the following message on Facebook: Fuck Isis, fuck Al Qaeda, fuck Boko haram, fuck Jemaah Islamiah. Fuck all terrorist[s] in this ...
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Great Expectations

Great Expectations

Somewhere before the one-month point of this seemingly interminable, 78-day federal election campaign, New Democrats awoke to a sobering reality. Few said it openly, but everyone was thinking it: We peaked too early. After several months at the top of the polls as Canada’s government-in-waiting, the NDP saw their numbers tacking unmistakably in the other direction—to the point that, by Thanksgiving weekend, nearly every poll in the country was placing ...
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Pope Francis and Me: A Fantasy

Pope Francis and Me: A Fantasy

The scene: A sitting room in the papal residences of Domus Sanctae Marthae, The Vatican  The ambience: Warm, dim lighting. In the middle of the room between two comfy chairs is a coffee table bearing a plate of fruit, cheese and bread, two wine glasses, and a ceramic decanter filled with the finest Malbec. Pope Francis: My son, you have wandered long and far in the wilderness of doubt, but you ...
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Vatican News Flash: Gays are People, Too

Vatican News Flash: Gays are People, Too

First, all you snickering cynics out there—including my fellow Catholic atheists and otherwise gay brethren—let’s not make fun of what rhymes with “relatio.” Instead, let’s take the Vatican document released today, relatio post disceptationem (Report After Debate), seriously and at face value. One of the report’s 58 sections, “Welcoming homosexual persons,” has prompted the usual hysterical responses, both from outraged conservative Roman Catholics who think the Church is being ...
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What's In a Name? Everything.

What’s In a Name? Everything.

Last night I was chatting with a friend when we somehow got onto the topic of the Washington Redskins. Now, I’m not much of a football fan, but controversies about race and ethnicity in popular culture tend to hover fairly close to my radar. This one—surrounding the name and logo of the U.S. capital’s NFL team—involves two subjects right up my alley: branding and media optics. Everyone, it seems--from the National Congress ...
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