What rights does he deserve?

With the trial of Col. Russell Williams coming to a close, it is interesting to see what kind of rights the colonel has been denied in these quick proceedings. There has been no publication ban on the information coming out of the courtrooms, so the public is getting the nitty gritty of all the awful things that Col. Williams did.

The rights that a person has to privacy disappears the moment that you hit the courtroom. There are certain things that can’t be published, such as the names of sexual assault victims and other things like that, but these are protecting the rights of the victims, not the rights of the guilty. Once you are guilty, you can be shamed in any way that the media seems fit.

Case and point: coming back to the Russell Williams case, there are pictures floating around in the media and on the internet of him in women’s underwear and swimsuits. These degrading photos, which would kill this mans career if the circumstances were different, are being flaunted by the media with an almost careless abandon as if they were not pictures of a mass murderer, but of some novelty.

It is amazing how people are no longer given basic dignities when they are on trial. I mean, imagine if the colonel just had a fetish and was innocent of the crimes he was accused of. His career would be destroyed. As well, what of the people that do cross dress and are having their fetish displayed and criticized? Should they have to suffer because one bad man happened to do the same thing they do? Publishing those photos demonizes something that is otherwise harmless.

Who has the right to tell you when your rights are gone?


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Prostitution rights

Ontario has recently decriminalized solicitation for prostitution and the running of bawdy houses.

Prostitution, which has been legal since 1985, has seen a lot of roadblocks, since even though it’s legal to prostitute, it is illegal to offer it openly or to have a place where they can go to perform their *ahem* services.

Now, they are one step closer to legalization. That is not saying that legalization is just around the corner, but now, they cannot be tried in criminal court.

My big question is, what rights should prostitutes have?

I believe that prostitution is going to happen whether we want it to or not, and that decriminalization is a positive step toward freeing up cops to deal with more severe crimes. I would like to see legalization happen because I feel that if we legalized and regulated prostitution in Ontario, and further, Canada, we could protect the people that are going to do what they’re doing anyway.

If prostitution was legalized, the rights of the women (and men) out on the streets would be better protected, because they would be regulated. If there were rules about where and when a prostitute could work, the rights of the person would be better protected. Everyone should have the right to a safe workplace, and that cannot be done if the trade is illegal in any sense, criminal or otherwise.

Another thing that can be helped other than the rights of these people is the health. If it is regulated, then we can have mandatory testing for the people who are performing these services. Mandatory health tests for things such as STIs and HIV/AIDS would keep the public that uses these services safer, and by proxy, the people that interact with these people in a sexual relationship.

Also, it would protect these people from dangerous pimps and other hazards that come from a non-standardized sex trades.

I am not suggesting that we set up a red-light district in downtown Toronto, but i am saying that if we gave these people in the sex trade more rights, we could make it a better and safer thing for those working in it, those using it, and those attached by proxy.


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The Commonwealth Games in Delhi have been constantly in the news with talks of bridges falling and stadiums collapsing, but many of our athletes seem ready and willing to go forward with their participation. The ones that have decided to go (the archery team and one squash player have bowed out due to safety concerns), are now being told that it would be wise for them not to wear their national uniforms in places outside the athletes’ village because it could be a danger to their safety due to kidnapping concerns.

At what point is enough, enough? At what point do we pull our athletes out of this situation?

Canadians are calling for us to pull out of the 2010 Commonwealth Games for safety issues, due to all of the above listed reasons, but is it really our choice whether or not to go?

I am of the belief that it is every athlete’s choice whether they want to put themselves in the situations that could arise in Delhi. Each athlete, as an individual or as a team (in the case of things such as relay teams, rugby and the like), has the right to make an educated decision about whether or not they want to go to the Games.

For these athletes, the question is not cut and dry. There are a lot of different things for them to take into account if they want to make an educated decision. It is true that these people could be put into potentially dangerous situations while at the games, but at the same time, these are elite, amateur athletes. These are not people that make their living at sports. They train constantly for chances like this one, and short of international competitions like the Olympics, this is one of the larger events that they can take part in. To turn up this cahnce is to turn up a big opportunity for the amateur athlete.

Also, a lot of these athletes don’t have a lot of opportunities to compete on this kind of world stage. Speaking as a former competitive swimmer, the big goals were PanAm games, Commonwealth Games and the Olympics. To take away one of those opportunities pulls back on 1/3 of the goal.

In a way, it is unfair that these athletes now have to make the choice between safety and performance. Athletes should be able to wear their colours at any time, because they are there representing our nation, but if not wearing them means their safety while they do what they have trained a substantial amount of their lives to do, then I say it is their choice, and I will cheer for anyone that decides to go to Delhi.


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Igor and Canada

Hurricane Igor has completely devastated Newfoundland. It has washed out roads, isolated communities, and completely the way of life for many people on the Rock.

How has Canada reacted to this disaster on home soil?

Well, I think the best way to look at that is to look at other disasters around the world and how Canada reacted to those. Haiti is probably the best recent example of Canadians showing their want to help those that have been hit with tragedy. First, the telethons alone raised over $15 million, and we ended up donating well above the $50 million that the government initially promised to match dollar-for-dollar (they ended up going over that mark). We also sent supplies, medical help, volunteers, and our military to help with the disaster.

There have been no telethons for Igor, the rock isn’t having a save the Canuck-a-thon. We assume that since they are in Canada, they are fine, but the fact is, that these places are in a state of emergency, and rightly so. some have been completely cut off from the outside world, with the only way to get anything in or out, including food and medical supplies, is by air. These places are not exactly equipped with landing strips, so getting the provisions in has been a bit of a challenge at the best of times. We’ve also called in our military to help, but we as Canadians just assume that they will be okay because this disaster happened on Canadian soil.

there has been no outpouring of support for these poor people in Newfoundland. There has been no telethon, no fundraiser. It is just assumed that these people will be fine.

They are not fine. They are in a dangerous situation. Shouldn’t these people be getting support from their fellow Canadians?

they should. We should be sending more than just our military to get them out of this situation. We should be sending doctors and labourers to these places, not just sitting idly by. These people deserve the support of their fellow Canadians.

We lose the right to support if there is a maple leaf on the flag.


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Don’t ask, don’t tell.

When it’s not ok to be gay, what do you do?

The American military has used the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell laws as a way to keep openly gay men and women from serving in their military.

It is now the 21st century, where, in North America, it is generally accepted that someone can practise whatever sexual orientation they so choose (though they’re not always allowed to marry, but that’s another story). That idea is not practised in the military. If someone is homosexual and is open about their orientation, they can, by all rights, be kicked out of the American military. These men and women are not allowed to protect their country – protect the freedoms offered in their country – because of something they can’t control.

This law, which has been around since 1993, is finally being brought before the senate to be reviewed. It is attached to a bill about surplus spending for the military, and it could mean that openly gay men and women could serve in the military.

If someone wants to serve in the military, they should have the right to serve, regardless of their orientation. We do not ask heterosexual men and women to behave chastely, so why should we ask homosexuals. As long as they are not hitting on their coworkers and creating an uncomfortable work environment, these men and women should be allowed to serve the country they love.

In Canada, the policy is tolerance of all cultures and orientations. I have worked with the military, and I have worked with men and women in the Canadian military who are openly gay. It did not change how the people around them treated them, and people accepted them for who they were, not who they went home to at night.

It disgusts me that a country that touts such freedoms is so closed minded about homosexuality. They need to take a page from Canada’s book on this one. Give men and women the right to serve if they are able, no matter what.


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Whose North?


Russia is trying to redraw borders in the arctic due to large natural resource reserves and claims to those reserves.

According to the CTV Edmonton article: “Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States are all expected to file ambitious, competing and overlapping claims stretching right up to the North Pole as the scramble for Arctic riches picks up its pace.”

Russia is currently picking fights with us about who owns the Northernmost part of the world, but, according to my knowledge, that land area was always ours, and it is only since the discovery of these reserves in the deep North that Russia has become enamored with the area.

Canada is losing its grasp on the North. With the opening of the Northwest passage due to melting, more and more countries are passing through our waters, and we don’t have the military power to patrol such vast tracks of ocean. The United States has coveted the area

According to a 1988 treaty signed with the United States (from CBC in depth: The northwest passage) “the U.S. would refrain from sending icebreakers through the Northwest Passage without Canada’s consent; in turn, Canada would always give consent. However, the issue of whether the waters were international or internal was again left unresolved.”

Canada should have the right to control its borders. It also should have rights to its current political mappings. Other countries should respect our bounds, and we should allow them passage following international guidelines.

It will be a fight to the finish as long as there are oil reserves in the arctic, but Canada needs to stand its ground and hold firm to what is,according to political borders, its own.


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What do our wounded deserve?

If you ask me, our wounded deserve nothing but the best, but then again, I’m horribly biased. I was raised around the military, and spent many years playing in a military band and serving men and women in uniform at their local mess. It gave me a great respect for the sacrifices these people make so that we can live the way we do.

Mr. Harper has graciously revised the benefits received by veterans, promising an extra 200-million dollars over the next five years, according to the Sept. 20 CBC article.

Veterans are saying that to survive on the amounts they’re paying out may not be feasible, and that the idea of lump sum handouts is reckless.

I feel that the veterans should have a stronger voice in the benefits paid to wounded soldiers, and moreover, that they should be listened to by the federal government. The main complaint that I have gleaned from the articles is that the disability allotments are paid out in one giant handout, and that can lead to poor money management on behalf of the people receiving the pay.

It is the veteran’s life, not the government’s. They deserve to receive their pay the way they want it, and deserve to have a voice if they are discontented with how things are going.The veterans affairs ombudsman needs to step up and say that things are wrong with the system, and the governing committees need to listen to what he has to say.

Poor money management is not the government’s problem, but these men and women put their lives on the line in the name of their country. The least we could do is break up payments.


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