O Canada

D-Day to Victory

poppyMy friend Julie works for the company that helped build http://ddaytovictory.ca. I quite like it, and wanted to share it before 11/11/11.

On the website, users follow the Allies, tracing their path from Normandy to Berlin on an interactive map interface, and exploring the key events that led to victory. The site depicts the intensity of war and its physical and emotional impact through innovative 3D scenes that visualize 'exploded views' of the attacks.

Within each 3D scene, users can access video interviews with the surviving heroes, their bios and artifacts.

It really puts everything in perspective. As Diefenbunker Tour Guide just said, it's time to start spreading the honey.

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Meanwhile, In Canada....

canada thanksgivingHappy Thankgiving!.


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Humanity and Sanity Reign Supreme: Drug Addiction is a Health Issue

canadaEight years ago this month, I wrote about drug addition and Vancouver's Insite clinic. Let's revisit that entry...

September 15, 2003 @ 21:38
AddictionToday marked the official opening of North America's first legal safe-injection site at 139 East Hastings St. in Vancouver, B.C. It will be staffed by 16 nurses, four alcohol and drug counsellors and peer counsellors. At the injection site, addicts get clean needles and inject themselves at small booths in a room supervised by a nurse. After shooting up, they go to a "chill-out room" before returning to the streets. Up to 800 people are expected to use the facility each day.

Already upset over Ottawa's plan to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, this facility has been criticized by U.S. officials who say it is an example of Canada becoming lax in the battle against illegal drugs. Once again, the needle's point has been missed.

Those addicted to heroin are sufferers of a dehabilitating disease. Many will overdose and die. Up to 40 percent of these addicts have HIV or AIDS and 90 percent have hepatitis C. Allowing people to inject in a clean place and with ready access to medical help will reduce the spread of these diseases and dramatically reduce accidental overdose deaths. This isn't about legalizing heroin and crack, this is about saving lives. "It is not I who become addicted, it is my body." - Jean Cocteau

At the time I wrote that entry, the political pressure against this site was coming from the United States. Jean Chrétien's Liberal Party was in power here, and Stephen Harper was Leader of the Opposition. His Canadian Alliance party had not yet united with the Progressive Conservative Party.

Stephen Harper's Conservative Party eventually gained power and Harper sought to end Insite's special exemption from prosecution. Today, in a unanimous decision that brings me great joy, the Supreme Court of Canada has ordered the federal government to stop interfering with Vancouver’s Insite clinic. This opens the door to supervised drug injection clinics across the country.

This may not stop them from using the way heroin treatment options are supposed to, but at least it would reduce the harm caused by injecting the drug.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice McLachlin said that addicts are extremely sick individuals whose urgent need frequently leads to them inject drugs with dirty needles after dissolving narcotics in dirty puddle water.

She noted that by 1993, 200 people were dying annually in the Downtown Eastside. Numerous others were contracting AIDS/HIV or other serious illnesses from their drug activities.

Serious drug addiction is not a moral choice; it is an illness which essentially negates the notion of “choice” altogether, Chief Justice McLachlin said. She said that adopting a moral attitude toward an addict's “choices” – as the federal government did – was simply the wrong approach to take.

“On future applications, the Minister must exercise that discretion within the constraints imposed by the law and the Charter, aiming to strike the appropriate balance between achieving public health and public safety,” the Court said in a 9-0 ruling.

Indeed, drug addiction is a health issue. Insite saves lives, with immense benefits that are irrefutable. As a compassionate, humane and sensible nation, we should build more safe injection sites across this country, and less jails.

Thank you, Supreme Court of Canada. You did it again.

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America: Canada's Shorts

this pic is a map of north america depicting america as canada's shorts

[via Reddit]

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Jack Layton's Farewell Letter to Canadians

jack layton's letterWe lost Jack Layton this morning. He wrote this letter to us when he knew the end was near.

Dear Friends, 

Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to me in recent weeks to wish me well. I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughtful, inspiring and often beautiful notes, cards and gifts. Your spirit and love have lit up my home, my spirit, and my determination. 

Unfortunately my treatment has not worked out as I hoped. So I am giving this letter to my partner Olivia to share with you in the circumstance in which I cannot continue. 

I recommend that Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel continue her work as our interim leader until a permanent successor is elected. 

I recommend the party hold a leadership vote as early as possible in the New Year, on approximately the same timelines as in 2003, so that our new leader has ample time to reconsolidate our team, renew our party and our program, and move forward towards the next election. 

A few additional thoughts: 

To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don't be discouraged that my own journey hasn't gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer. 

To the members of my party: we've done remarkable things together in the past eight years. It has been a privilege to lead the New Democratic Party and I am most grateful for your confidence, your support, and the endless hours of volunteer commitment you have devoted to our cause. There will be those who will try to persuade you to give up our cause. But that cause is much bigger than any one leader. Answer them by recommitting with energy and determination to our work. Remember our proud history of social justice, universal health care, public pensions and making sure no one is left behind. Let's continue to move forward. Let's demonstrate in everything we do in the four years before us that we are ready to serve our beloved Canada as its next government. 

To the members of our parliamentary caucus: I have been privileged to work with each and every one of you. Our caucus meetings were always the highlight of my week. It has been my role to ask a great deal from you. And now I am going to do so again. Canadians will be closely watching you in the months to come. Colleagues, I know you will make the tens of thousands of members of our party proud of you by demonstrating the same seamless teamwork and solidarity that has earned us the confidence of millions of Canadians in the recent election.

To my fellow Quebecers: On May 2nd, you made an historic decision. You decided that the way to replace Canada's Conservative federal government with something better was by working together in partnership with progressive-minded Canadians across the country. You made the right decision then; it is still the right decision today; and it will be the right decision right through to the next election, when we will succeed, together. You have elected a superb team of New Democrats to Parliament. They are going to be doing remarkable things in the years to come to make this country better for us all. 

To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future. 

And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one - a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world's environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don't let them tell you it can't be done. 

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world. 

All my very best, 
Jack Layton

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Canada Is A Very Happy Place

canada24/7 Wall St. has named "The Happiest Countries in the World". Canada finished in second place.


Canada scores extremely well in the majority of metrics used to calculate “well-being.” The country has the tenth greatest life expectancy of all OECD countries. Furthermore, 88% of people in Canada report being in “good health,” compared to the OECD average of 69%. Although this is a subjective measure, it is “a good predictor of people’s future health care use,” according to the OECD. Education is also exceptional in the country. Eighty-seven percent of the population have received a high school degree or more, compared to the OECD average of 73%. In addition to this, the country has one of the highest literacy rates in the world. Canada is also relatively safe, with the lowest rate of reported assaults. The country’s homicide rate, while higher than many other OECD countries, is still lower than the OECD average.

Are you happy?

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Milos Raonic: Real Deal or Andrew Sznajder Reincarnate?

sportsI should play more tennis. I really like playing tennis and I almost never play. Does anyone want to play this summer?

Speaking of tennis, in July of 2009 I wrote about Canada's male singles tennis failure. Here's a snippet.

Canada's inability to produce a single excellent men's singles tennis player is mind boggling. There have been a few decent female players, and at least a couple of excellent doubles players, but not one male player who could even upset their way into a semi-final match. The highest ranking Canadian male in singles play was Andrew Sznajder who somehow got ranked #46 in September 1989. You're forgiven if you've forgotten about Andrew Sznajder.

Today, Canada's Milos Raonic reached his second straight final in an ATP Tour event. A year ago he was ranked 361, now he'll crack the top 50. That's pretty impressive.

Is Milos Raonic the real deal or simply Andrew Sznajder reincarnate?

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Arcade Fire Hit Mainstream

musicLate last night, Arcade Fire upset Lady Antebellum, Lady Gaga, Eminem and Katy Perry to win the most prestigious Grammy Award, for album of the year. Most people, it seems, hadn't heard of Arcade Fire.

In fact, a website is collecting America's response to Arcade Fire's big win. You've got to check out http://whoisarcadefire.tumblr.com/.


If my memory serves correct, and the archives of this blog back it up, we started going nutso for Arcade Fire back in 2004 when Funeral was released. Neighborhood #3 (Power Out) made SLS13 back in July 2005 and Wake Up was recorded as my favourite song of that entire year.

I loved Funeral, in fact, I still do. It was a pleasant surprise to see them pull off the upset last night. Even better is reading the angry reaction from folks who didn't know they existed.

But it seems as if our little secret is out.

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In Flanders Fields


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

- John McCrae

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Canadians in the NFL

NFLI'm watching a bit of the Bills game. It's here in Toronto, so the broadcasters just went through the obligatory "Canadians in the NFL" segment.

That got me wondering, how many Canadians are playing in the NFL today? Surprisingly few, it seems...

Cory Greenwood, KC, Kingston, ON
Vaughn Martin, SD, Toronto, ON
Jamaal Westerman, NYJ, Brampton, ON
Austin Collie, IND, Hamilton, ON
Jon Ryan, SEA, Regina, SK
L.P. Ladouceur, DAL, Pointe Claire, QC
Nick Kaczur NE, Brantford, ON
Israel Idonije, CHI, Brandon, MB
Nate Burleson, DET, Calgary, AB
O.J. Atogwe, STL, Windsor, ON

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