Maybe someday, I’ll post something that isn’t regurgitated from the front page of Reddit! Wouldn’t that be nice?
Ralph Klein is Pirouetting in His Grave
The Alberta municipal elections came and went on October 16, and there were very few surprises. Incumbent Mayor of Edmonton Don Iveson was re-elected in a landslide, to the dismay of public smoking activist and Don Koziak, who he defeated by a slim margin of over 65%. While voter turnout in Edmonton was a pathetic 31.5% (likely due to the absolute joke of a mayoral race), turnout in Calgary was much higher, at 58.1%.
The reason for this less atrocious turnout is likely due to the drama surrounding the mayoral race between incumbent Naheed Nenshi and challenger Bill Smith, the former president of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta. I briefly covered this in last week’s post, but the long and short of it is that business interests in Calgary, most notably the Calgary Flames, REALLY wanted Nenshi out, and polling seemed to indicate that it could’ve gone either way.
In the end, the status quo prevailed, and Nenshi was re-elected, defeating Smith by a margin of 51.4% to 43.7%. What followed was a comical tantrum from some fiscal conservatives, with the most hilarious example being the communications director of the Calgary Flames tweeting that Nenshi being mayor was “worse than Donald Trump being president”.
So, for the meantime, Albertans are stuck with a Liberal prime minister, an NDP premier, and two nebulously progressive mayors in charge of the two biggest cities in the province. If somebody had told me that this would be the case five years ago, I probably would’ve immediately started an aggressive hunt for whatever crack rock they had smoked before confiding to me such outrageous pipe dreams. Or should I say crack pipe dreams? I’m very funny.
One mildly important question that has yet to be answered is whether or not the Flames are gonna move cities. I’m not super familiar with the inner workings of negotiations between NHL teams and municipalities, but I highly doubt it. If Gary Bettman and the Flames higher-ups really think that moving a team from one of the most lucrative hockey markets in the world in favour of some indifferent American city is gonna pay off, then they’re bigger idiots than r/hockey told me they were. I mean, just look at Edmonton! The ownership bitched and threatened to move to Seattle because they had to pay for their stadium. And then the municipality caved in like the spineless cowards they were and gave them everything they wanted! Sure showed those fuckers!!!
Quebec & Religion: Canada’s Least Favourite On & Off Relationship
In 2013, Quebec Premier Pauline Marois and her Parti Québécois minority government proposed the “Quebec Charter of Values,” a bill that would protect institutionalized secularism in the province of Quebec by banning public sector employees from wearing “conspicuous” religious symbols. Simply put: small, discreet items like finger rings, earrings, and cross necklaces were to be permitted. Ostentatious religious symbols like the giant crucifix in the National Assembly were permitted, as they reflected the “cultural heritage” of the province. However, kippahs, turbans, hijabs and niqābs, for example, would be verboten.
Five shiny no-prizes to anybody who can tell me why this may have been seen as problematic!
Originally put forth in September 2013, the bill was roundly criticized by just about everybody, including opposition leader Phillippe Couillard, who denounced the law as being a “direct attack on Quebecois rights and freedoms” (translated from French). The Charter died shortly before the 2014 provincial election, in which Couillard and the Quebec Liberal Party won a majority government. Finally, a Premier of Quebec who definitely wouldn’t go back on his word and stir up a wedge issue in the name of gaining cheap points from Quebecois populists!
Living up to his party’s principles of “not having any anymore,” Couillard’s government passed Bill 62 through the National Assembly on October 18. Bill 62, the “religious neutrality” law, requires citizens receiving any public service, be it bus rides or doctor’s appointments, to uncover their faces. It also prohibits public workers like doctors and teachers from wearing face coverings. Five no-prizes to anyone who can tell me who this law is disproportionately affecting!
“Heart Shaped Guitar” is a jam. Everybody should listen to it.
But yeah, the law disproportionately targets Muslims. To be specific, the small percentage of Muslim women in Canada that wear face coverings. The law has been roundly criticized by just about everybody outside of Quebec’s National Assembly, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Montreal mayor Denis Coderre and various journalists and civil rights organisations criticizing it.
As for my opinion, which I’m sure everybody’s waiting for with bated breath, I think that secularism is clearly preferable to the alternative, but the constitutional validity of this particular law is worrisome, to say the least, leading me to believe that the Supreme Court is gonna take a metaphorical bazooka to it. Also, the fact that this bill was passed under the watchful eye of an enormous crucifix casts some doubt on the whole “religious neutrality” aspect, to be honest.
Raqqa and Roll all Night???
After a four-month assault, ISIS has lost their capital. On October 17, the Syrian Democratic Forces, aided by Rojava, volunteers, and Western airstrikes, claimed victory in an operation that had been going on since June. Raqqa had been the
Raqqa had been the de facto capital of the theocratic jihadist caliphate since January 2014 and established a reign of terror over the city, kidnapping and killing journalists, executing Alawite Muslims and suspected supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and destroying Shia Muslim mosques and Christian churches. Residents who opposed their rule were subject to beheadings, crucifixions, and torture. Raqqa and the recently recaptured city of Mayadin were the last major Syrian cities to be under ISIS control and the jihadists have retreated, hurriedly establishing a new capital in the Iraqi city of Husaybah, near the Syrian border.
Obviously, less ISIS in the world is a good thing, but that doesn’t mean we should be celebrating just quite yet, as fantastic as it is to discover the existence of “The Queer Insurrection and Liberation Army.” (TQILA. Tequila? Tequila.)
Raqqa, to nobody’s surprise, is practically uninhabitable. Landmines, explosives and pockets of IS resistance are in need of being cleared out. Lest we forget that more than 1,800 civilians were likely killed in the fighting by both the IS’s use of human shields and the US-led Coalition’s airstrikes. Not to mention that tens of thousands of civilians are now displaced, and Raqqa is unlikely to be able to house them again for a LONG time. That and the fact that even with ISIS potentially out of the picture in the near future, there’s still the small matter of a Civil War in Syria. Which isn’t to say that IS being expelled from the city isn’t a good thing, but that doesn’t necessarily make this a happy ending, or even an ending, whatsoever.
Holiday In Catalonia!!!
When we last left Catalonia, nobody had any idea how the hell this situation would be resolved. And guess what! We still have no goddamn clue!
The Spanish Government’s headache in Catalonia is ongoing, with pro-independence rallies and strikes in the autonomous region now a frequent occurrence, and the responding imprisonment of separatist activists, and the resurgence of nationalist sentiments from anti-independence activists in Spain reaching levels (article in Spanish) that haven’t been seen since the fascist Franco regime, which is probably a good sign.
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and the Generalitat (Government) of Catalonia did eventually end up signing a declaration of independence on October 10 before immediately suspending the declaration of independence to allow time for discussions with Spain, begging the question: Does Carles Puigdemont not know what a fucking declaration of independence is???
Growing tired of Puigdemont’s sudden wishy-washiness, the Spanish government reacted by triggering Article 155. That is to say: the suspension, Senate approval pending, of Catalonia’s autonomy coupled in favour of direct rule from the Spanish capital of Madrid, along with the forced dissolution of the Generalitat until new regional elections can be held within six months. While Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has defended these actions as constitutionally valid, claiming that they are not interfering with self-government, Catalans beg to differ, with journalist Xevi Xirgo calling the triggering of Article 155 a “coup d’etat.“ (Article in Catalan) Puigdemont, for his part, has refused to accept the Spanish government’s plan.
In short, nobody has any fucking clue what they’re doing, or how this is going to end. It’s all very entertaining.