Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday July 30, 2019
Ford government reversing autism program changes
There’s news today from Queen’s Park that the Ontario government will reverse its direction on the funding of the province’s autism program.
February 16, 2019
This comes after months of protests from parents and an internal review that called for an immediate reset of its strategy.
Todd Smith, the new Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, announced on Monday that the government will move to design a funding program based on the needs of individual children.
Smith says the new program will work within a $600-million budget.
“It’s clear that the Ford government, we didn’t get the re-design right the first time. I’m here to tell you we will now,” said Smith.
“My message to families of children and youth with autism is, we have heard you, and we are taking action,” said Smith. “Our government is committed to a needs-based program that provides children and youth with the supports they need to thrive. Over the past number of weeks, I have met with service providers and families of children with autism who share a common goal to provide the best possible care and make a positive difference in the lives of children and families living with autism in Ontario.” (CTV News)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday June 12, 2019
Vigilance the best protection from plague of fake news
Canadians will be voting in federal elections in four months. Many have already made up their minds. Regardless, attempts will be made to shift voters’ perceptions. We know this is coming and we need to prepare for it.
Facebook admitted in 2017 that Russian operatives bought political advertising on its social media site intent on disrupting the U.S. elections the previous fall. U.S. citizens (let’s face it: all of us) were subjected to fake news, absurd memes and all manner of slander in a Moscow-driven attempt to affect the vote.
It didn’t end there. Facebook closed down hundreds of fake Facebook accounts, at least one of which had 3.6 million users, set up to help Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Facebook also shut down hundreds of accounts linked to an Israeli political consulting firm, Archimedes Group, whose primary goal is to win campaigns in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia.
In Canada, we can expect the same. An alleged email made the rounds recently purporting to be from a People’s Party of Canada organizer bizarrely suggesting that non-white Canadians who join Maxime Bernier’s anti-immigrant, Islamophobic party should be displayed prominently but never consulted about policy because “they are all liberals anyway.”
Similarly, the U.S. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, was featured in a video in which she was made to look like she was slurring her speech. U.S. President Donald Trump was among those who tweeted the fake video. In this case, Facebook refused to take the video down, claiming it is not its responsibility to censor.
On Monday, Facebook Canada announced that anyone wishing to buy political ads on its platform will need approval. The authorization process involves several steps to confirm the group buying the ad is real and based in Canada. Starting June 30, political ads appearing on Facebook will show who bought the ad and will allow social media users to view information about the ad’s reach.
The Pelosi video, however, is not considered advertising and would have been allowed on the site.
In that case, Facebook is actually correct. Free speech is free speech is free speech. As disgusting as the video is — it was created by slowing down an actual clip of Pelosi speaking and then altering the pitch of her voice to mask the manipulation — it does not qualify as hate speech. (Hamilton Spectator Editorial)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday April 16, 2019
Fire torches Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris
A massive fire engulfed the roof of Notre Dame Cathedral in the heart of the French capital Monday, toppling its spire and sending thick plumes of smoke high into the blue sky as tourists and Parisians watched in horror from the streets below.
November 16, 2015
A spokesman said the entire wooden frame of the cathedral would likely come down, and that the vault of the edifice could be threatened too.
“Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame,” Notre Dame spokesman Andre Finot told French media. The 12th-century cathedral is home to incalculable works of art and is one of the world’s most famous tourist attractions.
The cause of the catastrophic blaze was not known, but French media quoted the Paris fire brigade as saying the fire is “potentially linked” to a 6 million-euro renovation project on the church’s spire and its 250 tons of lead. Prosecutors opened an investigation as Paris police said there were no reported deaths.
Flames shot out of the roof behind the nave of the cathedral, among the most visited landmarks in the world. Hundreds of people lined up bridges around the island that houses the cathedral, watching in shock as acrid smoke rose in plumes.
The iconic building in the center of the city is the most visited monument in Paris, with more than 12 million visitors a year — nearly double the people who visit Eiffel Tower.
February 22, 2003
French President Emmanuel Macron postponed a televised speech to the nation because of the stunning blaze and was going to the cathedral himself.
Paris deputy mayor Emmanuel Gregoire said emergency services are trying to salvage the famed art pieces stored in the cathedral.
Built in the 12th and 13th centuries, Notre Dame is the most famous of the Gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages as well as one of the most beloved structures in the world. Situated on the Ile de la Cite, an island in the Seine, the cathedral’s architecture is famous for, among other things, its many gargoyles and its iconic flying buttresses.
Among the most celebrated artworks inside are its three stained-glass rose windows, placed high up on the west, north and south faces of the cathedral. Its priceless treasures also include a Catholic relic, the crown of thorns, which is only occasionally displayed, including on Fridays during Lent.
The cathedral was immortalized in Victor Hugo’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” published in 1831, and has long been a subject of fascination in popular culture as well as the traditional art world. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)
I couldn’t help the fact that this 1980’s song by the House Martins re-ran through my head as the Cathedral burned:
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday March 20, 2019
An unusually eventful budget day sets the stage for the coming election
Bill Morneau’s fourth budget is in the books, and that’s a good thing since he didn’t get a chance to deliver his speech in the Commons on Tuesday because of the din made by Conservative MPs determined to keep the public’s attention on the SNC-Lavalin affair.
Howdy Doodie Andy Scheer
The Conservatives jeered. They pounded their desks and they chanted “let her speak” in reference to their demand that former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould re-appear before the justice committee to discuss why she resigned.
Undeterred, the finance minister gamely plowed on, incapable of being heard on radio and television broadcasts, or even by his own mates on the government benches.
So let’s recap here.
Morneau’s fourth budget is not only the last instalment of the Liberals’ relentless pursuit of middle-class voters before the October election, it was a road map showing exactly which voters the party needs for another election win.
Millennials. Seniors. Blue-collar workers are all targeted for new spending, whether it’s help buying a first home, enhancements to the Canada Pension Plan or money for training. Mix in the Canada Child Benefit from Morneau’s first budget and from cradle to the grave, this government is putting more money in Canadians’ pockets.
As usual, Morneau didn’t call it spending. He never has.
Throughout his news conference in the budget lockup, the finance minister referred to investments, the need to continue to invest in Canadians even if it meant blowing by the campaign promise four years ago to balance the books by now.
March 2, 2019
The Conservatives hammered at the failure to present a plan to return to budget balance, but only as an afterthought.
Party Leader Andrew Scheer seemed far more interested in portraying the budget as a blatant attempt to deflect attention away from the role Justin Trudeau and his office played in trying to stop the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin on fraud and corruption charges.
Scheer never said what the Conservatives would offer as an an alternative. Never said how his party would balance the books.
It all made for an unusually eventful budget day. A Liberal financial plan tuned into the anxiety voters might be feeling in advance of an election. The main opposition party honed in on keeping a scandal alive as long as they can. New Democrats and the Greens anxiously competing for any slice of the progressive vote they can peel away.
An election may still be six months away. The campaigning is already well under way. (Source: CBC News)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday December 14, 2018
5 Takeaways About Theresa May’s (Sort of) Victory
Prime Minister Theresa May survived a revolt on Wednesday by the hard-line, pro-Brexit parliamentary faction of her Conservative Party.
November 16, 2018
That will give her some time to try to get her plan for leaving the European Union — the same one that spurred the revolt — through Parliament.
But the final tally in the no-confidence vote on Wednesday also showed just how difficult that will be.
To pass legislation, Mrs. May needs the votes of all her party’s lawmakers and more — her government relies on the backing of a small Northern Ireland party. In this ballot, which was restricted to Conservative members of Parliament, 200 lawmakers supported her and 117 voted to eject her from office.
June 22, 2016
More than a third of her own party wanted someone else leading the Brexit process. That was especially sobering because about half of Conservative lawmakers also hold paid government posts of some sort; Mrs. May’s critics were quick to argue that she would have lost handily without the support of this “payroll vote.”
The prime minister bargained away her long-term political future to ensure she would survive the no-confidence vote, promising Conservative lawmakers that she would step down before a general election set for 2022.
A vote against Mrs. May’s leadership was effectively a vote against her agreement on leaving the European Union. (Her government is doing little else at the moment.)
June 24, 2016
European leaders will greet any attempt to rewrite the 585-page, legally binding withdrawal agreement with a resounding no. They refuse to abandon a so-called backstop arrangement that at least temporarily keeps Britain in a customs union with Europe to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, and Ireland, which is a member of the European Union.
If Parliament does nothing before March 29, Britain’s relationship with the European Union will rupture overnight. Banking, trade, travel, food, medicines, the fluid border between Ireland and Northern Ireland — all would be thrown into flux. (Source: New York Times)