- May Day, May Day!: On May 1, May Day protests against economic inequality and in support of the rights of immigrant and migrant workers took place here in Canada and around the world, taking on a new intensity in 2017 given the current political climate. May Day protesters in Montreal rallied for 15$ minimum wage and in the United States, protesters threw cans of Pepsi at police, in an obvious mockery of the universally despised Kendall Jenner advertisement. One of the most memorable images of the day came from Brno; photographer Vladimir Cicmanec captured 16-year-old Czech Girl Scout, Lucie, facing down a member of the Workers Party of Social Justice, which, contrary to its name, is against migrants and the European Union. Lucie held her own and stayed true to the Girl Scouts’ long-lasting commitment to diversity and peace. (Source: Montreal Gazette, Global News)
- Ontario Doctor Accused of Sexual Harrassment/Abuse, Under Review: Dr. Martin Lee, a practicing specialist in Mississauga and Ontario, is under review for accounts of sexual harrassment, sexual abuse, and professional misconduct after a series of disgusting violations against his patients. These violations include, but are not limited to: asking questions about patients’ sex lives that do not pertain to their condition, sharing, unprompted, details of his own sexual proclivities, showing porn to his patients, and rubbing his groin up against a patient. This is Lee’s second hearing with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, but alarmingly, none of the actions he has taken are grounds for mandatory revocation of his license. Audience participation time! At this time, if you would like to swear loudly, we encourage you to do so. If you’re shy, we’ll do it for you: What the actual FUCK? Despite the fact that technically, somehow, sexual abuse only merits a suspension and chaperoned appointments with women clients, the medical regulator’s lawyer is arguing that the College’s panel should revoke Lee’s licence. (Source: Toronto Star)
- New Canadian Guidelines for Requests for Refuge from LGBTQ+ People: The Globe and Mail recently spoke with 5 LGBTQ+ refugees about their experience in Canada. These interviews were taken in light of Canada’s brand new guidelines for handling asylum requests from LGBTQ+ refugees, who have in the past been asked to immediately prove their sexuality in order to gain refuge. This process is invasive and often fruitless when many come from nations in which they were forced to completely erase their LGBTQ+ identities and relationships for fear of violence and oppression. The process is still far from perfect, but the guidelines, which attempt to guard refugees against Canadian stereotypes which may skew perceptions of how a queer person should behave or what their relationships should look like, are a step in the right direction. (Source: Globe and Mail)
- Liberals set to target mandatory minimum sentences: A relatively quiet issue during the Canadian federal election, sentencing reforms brought in by the previous Conservative government are set to be reviewed by Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould. Stephen Harper (remember him? No? Blocked him out? Understandable) implemented mandatory minimum sentences that were a) much longer than many judges (aka experts in their field) would normally choose to give and b) failed to take the individual characteristics of the actual human beings who committed the crime and the details of the crime itself into account (for example, likelihood of re-offence, first time offences, non-violent crimes, etc.). Criminologists and lawyers across Canada are hoping that the Liberals will allow for more discretion on the part of the judges, but worry that the response to the problems with Canada’s justice system will be either too hasty or too light-handed. (Source: CBC)
- Macron Wins, Le Pen Defeated: Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron has won the French Presidential Election by a fairly high margin above his far-right, europhobic opponent, Marine Le Pen. With this vote, France has not only elected their youngest president, but has also bucked the recent trend towards xenophobia and racism marked by the Trump election and Brexit. (Source: The Guardian)
- Pledge of Liberation: The organizers of the Women’s March have announced new resistance measures to be enacted on Monday, May 8, in order to mark the 6 month anniversary of the Trump election. They have organized a pledge and numerous sit-ins and other demonstrations at congressional offices across the country in partnership with ACLU People Power, United We Dream, Hollaback!, National Lawyers Guild, and The Gathering for Justice. While there are currently no protests planned in Canada, you can sign the pledge here and get information about other ways to resist on May 8 here. (Source: Refinery29, Women’s March website)
- Activist Arrested and Now Charged After Laughing at Jeff Sessions: And somehow we're the special snowflakes? Desiree Fairooz, an activist associated with Code Pink, was arrested last January after laughing in a Senate hearing during which noted white supremacist Jeff Sessions made several, well, laughable, claims about his commitment to equality (lol). Fairooz has now been found guilty of two charges, but the case is a real mess, with multiple jurors expressing that they felt their hands were tied because of the broad phrasing of the law. While the jury says that Fairooz was not arrested for the laugh itself, but for the disruption she made while being escorted out, many of them felt she shouldn’t have been arrested in the first place (meaning her later actions would not ever have occurred). Once she was arrested, she had virtually no chance of avoiding sentencing and the jury was forced to give a guilty verdict despite serious misgivings. (Source: Huffington Post)
- AHCA. So That Happened: Although you have undoubtedly already read all about it, we have to talk about the fact that the Republicans just passed a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and usher in the American Health Care Act, known affectionately in some circles as the Hot Garbage Fire of Bad Ideas. While there are many, many, MANY problems with AHCA, one of the biggest topics of discussion following the vote was the fact that the bill weakens protections for those with pre-existing conditions. It turns out that the list of things that count as a “Pre-existing Condition” and as a strike against you when you apply for health insurance is long and alarming. Under the new bill, states can allow health insurance companies to refuse to cover patients or charge them significantly more for having a pre-existing condition, something which is currently banned under the Affordable Care Act. The massive list of preexisting conditions that could cause health insurance providers to deny coverage is so extensive that it’s almost hard to think of many people in your life that don’t currently have at least one of these conditions. Not only are many mental illnesses (depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, you name it, we’ve got it!) on this list, but so are many conditions that people are literally born with, meaning they may never qualify for insurance.
The list sparked understandable outrage. #IAmAPreexistingCondition trended worldwide, with people taking to Twitter to talk about what their world would look like if this bill passes and they lose their access to health care. The rich get richer and the sick get sicker under Trump’s proposed plan, which still needs to pass in the Senate in order to become the law. We, and many others, couldn’t help but notice how glaringly anti-woman the list is. With things like pregnancy, c-section, menstrual irregularities, and surviving sexual assault (?!) listed as pre-existing conditions, women will undeniably be affected disproportionately. Oh, and don’t forget that just BEING TRANSGENDER counts as a preexisting condition: the absolute definition of the trending hashtag. if this bill becomes the law, it's going to kill people. It just is. A huge percentage of them will be children and adolescents, trans people, poor people, people of colour, and women. If you compare the list of people most affected by the bill to the people pictured smugly celebrating their vote to strip people of their healthcare below, you can play a fun little game of spot the difference! (Hint: the difference is that the people in the first list aren’t dementors.) (Source: Twitter, Huffington Post Canada, CBC, New York Times, the collective consciousness)
- Peggy the Seer: Grande Dame of CanLit, Margaret Atwood, was on everyone’s minds this week as the long-running comparisons of America under the Trump administration to her dystopian classic, The Handmaid’s Tale became waaaaaay to0 real. With the new Hulu series currently airing, many people used images and gifs from the show to express their despair and outrage following the vote. (Source: Twitter)
One thing has become very clear this week: between Sessions and Trump, Margaret Atwood’s words have been prescient beyond the scope of The Handmaid’s Tale. Arguably her most famous feminist quote has proven eerily and blatantly true this week:
“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them.
Women are afraid that men will kill them.”