Canada

Here’s A Reminder That Justin Trudeau Is Not A Disney Prince

By Criswell Lavery

Before starting this article, I didn’t know a lot about Justin Trudeau.

Many (white, liberal Americans) think of the young Prime Minister and immediately connect him with the monikers “feminist”, “pro-LGBT”, “pro-choice”, all of which are correct.

But very few know much more about him.

I had seen a few articles floating around talking about his stance on foreign policy, his interactions with the First Nations’ peoples, and his meeting with Donald Trump, but never stopped to read them or look further.

Like many, I was blinded by Trudeau’s liberal social values and his fabulous hair, and thought of him only with a vague fondness.

This is a trap that many fall into, even in our age of easily accessible information.

We see articles about how he’s let over 25,000 Syrian refugees into Canada since he took office in 2015, and don’t see the one about the Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA).

This agreement was set to reduce 98% of tariffs on trade between Canada and the European Union and cause a small increase in jobs.

It also has provisions which are very similar to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), providing corporations with a huge amount of privileges and legal rights, allowing for them to sue entire governments to change laws and standards that impede their function.

CETA gives Canadian and European corporations these same rights, as well as giving international companies bidding rights to areas in cities, First Nation communities, and providences.

Despite the job growth and tariff reduction, it’s heavily weighted to favor big business, which one would think our Disney prince Prime Minister would be against, right?

Nope.

Prime Minister Trudeau had been pushing the agreement for months before it was signed in October 2016, and was ratified this February.

It’s been a big part of the reason recent press coverage has turned against Justin Trudeau, changing from their pretty steadily positive reporting to something a little more mixed.

He wholeheartedly supports CETA, which definitely did not fit with the ideal image of him that my little liberal heart had created.

And there’s plenty more where that came from.

A very controversial issue in Canada, just as it is in the USA, is indigenous peoples’ rights.

Like the tribes in the United States, the First Nations have been brutally treated and forced out of their lands since white people first got there, hundreds of years ago.

When Prime Minister Trudeau took office, he promised to bring the United Nation’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into law in Canada.

This document affixes the inherent rights of indigenous people, including the right to self-determinism and the right to not be forced to assimilate to the incumbent culture.

While the protection of indigenous culture seems like it should be assumed and respected, it’s not currently legally required.

Despite frequent promises to bring this into the new Canadian administration, in July of 2016, Trudeau’s Justice Minister stated that they would not be adopting the UN’s Declaration into law, that it “makes no sense.”

In breaking this promise, Trudeau lost a lot of respect and trust among the First Nations.

In the following year, many new blunders involving the treatment of indigenous peoples have been made, one being the support of the Site C dam, a hydro-electric power generator being proposed to be built on the Peace River in British Columbia.

The dam would destroy ancient burial grounds and threaten traditional hunting and fishing grounds.

In addition, Canada’s energy need hasn’t grown in recent years, and they even have a surplus of clean energy.

The support of this project is another check on a list of broken promises and backtracking.

Here’s the thing, I don’t necessarily think that Justin Trudeau is a bad person.

I can’t make that judgement.

Do I disagree with many of his policies?

Absolutely.

Do I agree with others?

Sure.

I’m not trying to condemn everything he’s ever done, I’m trying to illustrate the very gray nature of politics today, and the dangerous habit people have to put things in black and white.

When we’re distracted by buzzwords and a certain Prime Minister’s blinding smile, we fail to hold people accountable for their actions.

We don’t demand answers or retribution when they mess up or don’t follow through.

As much as we might like to think so, Trudeau isn’t a Disney prince.

He’s human, and a powerful political figure.

Let your ideal go, and demand answers when you have questions, ask for retributions when promises are broken.

Disney princes are perfect.

People are not.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Mohammad Jangda/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

In Canada, Trudeau Is Meeting Fear With Progressive Strength

In the wake of Donald Trump’s election as President of the land of the theoretically ‘free’, and home of the allegedly ‘brave’, a series of hate crimes broke out throughout the United States.

Young children exposed to hate speech at home, began imitating it in elementary schools throughout the country, bullying children whose skin tones were different from theirs, and insisting that they “go home”.

Any naïve hopes that Trump would change his ways once elected—that a year of bigotry, misogyny, and explicit racist behaviour would change once he became president—came crashing down with the White House’s announcement that Muslims from seven nations would be banned from entering the United States.

The slamming of the door to innocent Muslims created a gust of wind so strong, that it made its way up to Quebec where once again, we saw that hate inspires hate.

Canada, which has experienced very few acts of terror on its home soil, was faced with a devastating one last month.

A young, Trump and Le Pen supporting, Quebecois male decided to open fire on a room filled of innocent Canadians.

While no borders were closed in Canada—no bans were mindlessly ordered—the feelings of exclusion, hatred, and division were undoubtedly felt by Canadian and American Muslims alike.

It was with great pride and relief to watch Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, say in the aftermath of the attack “this was a group of innocents targeted for practicing their faith. Make no mistakes, this was a terrorist act.”

Too long, have acts of violence perpetrated by Muslim individuals been distinctively classified as ‘terrorist acts’.

Justin Trudeau at a 2013 event. Photo Credit: John McCallum/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

But what precisely, distinguishes an act of violence committed by a Muslim individual versus one perpetrated by a non-Muslim individual?

Read More: Rory, Obama, And Me

Why are certain individuals’ acts of violence categorically different?

If every shooting in the US got the same press coverage as a ‘terrorist’ attack—if every white-skinned American murderer was labelled a terrorist—islamophobia may not have seeped its way into the homes of millions of American and Canadians; Racism may not have been so rampantly contagious.

Trudeau stayed quiet after the election of Donald Trump.

But since his inauguration, Trudeau has been subtly standing up to our southern bully by supporting Women March protestors, demanding that FOX NEWS rectify false information victimizing Muslims, and by reminding Trump in his speech last week, that violence against minorities is an act of terrorism.

Justin Trudeau is stuck between a rock and a hard place.

As a self-proclaimed feminist, whose socially liberal ideals have defined his leadership, he is faced with the difficult task of navigating relations with a racist President who stands for everything Trudeau ideologically condemns.

Meanwhile, healthy relations with the United States is pivotal for a stable Canadian economy.

Trudeau is faced with a difficult task.

Photo Credit: trumpvstrudeau/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Either he stays quiet, embodying the Canadian stereotype of being polite to a fault or he takes a far scarier path, and refuses to surrender in the face of hatred.

Read More: Here’s How Trump’s Gaslighting Reminds Me A Lot Of My Abusive Ex

Although his future actions are unknown, perhaps Trudeau has already unveiled his plan for the next four years.

Last week he said simply, “we will not meet violence with more violence. We will meet fear and hatred with love and compassion, always.”

Maybe hate—which divides and alienates—can be overcome when met with love and compassion, which unifies.

Perhaps Canadian values of politeness & kindness are not so impotent after all.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: John McCallum/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

A Kayak Instructor And An Actor Walk Into a Bar: A Canadian View Of The 2016 Election

By Morgan Parker

With the 2016 presidential election quickly approaching, it’s about time I raise my hand and toss my two cents onto the table.

Why?

Because I’m Canadian, so I think I have a reasonably unbiased view of the dramatics and posturing going on down there.

Also, when I look at the economic climate and political culture happening in your country, I see some similarities with what the US is dealing with today and what we dealt with a year or so ago.

Allow me to state my disclaimers.

I’m not a politics guy.

My wife holds a bachelor’s degree in political science (in my defense, I didn’t discover that ghost in her closet until after we were engaged), which offsets my own ignorance. And, as mentioned above, I’m Canadian.

But my specialty is economics and common sense, which have nothing to do with my nationality.

There are two obvious parallels between the US today and Canada in 2015 when we hit the polls.

The first parallel is that when we elected Justin Trudeau, our economy was pretty strong.

Not thriving.

Not the kind of economy where you felt it was 2007 all over again. But it was strong enough.

Despite some soft jobs numbers for May, the US economy is doing alright.

So JT (Justin Trudeau, not Justin Timberlake who would also make for a pretty cool president, or “prime minister” as he’s officially known in Canada, and kudos to my wife for the clarification) had the tailwind of a strong economy at his back just as Trump does today.

But more importantly (and this would be the second parallel) JT used the nation’s political discontent to push him over that line into the prime minister’s office.

Canada’s political system was broken in 2015, just like yours is right now, and as voters we were fed up with it.

And that is exactly what’s working in Trump’s favor today. It’s what got Barrack Obama elected; I remember sitting in front of the television with wide eyes and thinking that BO had something nobody else had: an argument for accountability and transparency.

The problem with BO is that accountability and transparency have no place in the political domain.

To incorporate those things into your campaign is like promising the return of unicorns and Vikings with free rides for everyone (cotton candy on weekends, anyone?).

Anyway, as Canadians, we sent a pretty strong message in 2015.

Oh yeah, we elected a kayak instructor to the prime minister’s office. In fairness, JT was also a school teacher but in the same way we think of Trump as a real estate developer first and a TV personality second, I think of our prime minister as a kayak instructor first and a teacher second, not that either of those careers qualifies him to run a country.

My common sense tells me the reason we elected JT had little to do with wanting to learn how to tackle white water rapids, and even less to do with our paranoia about children-drowning incidents on family canoeing trips.

My spidey senses suggest we elected a pretty boy because we were fed up with the status quo.

Our conservative government not only lacked personality, but our minority government called elections whenever someone couldn’t get along—now, JT smacks people into line, according to the media.

Plus we were tired of going to the polls during hockey season.

I’m worried that’s the same mistake my US neighbors might make.

A lot of people like Trump and, in their defense, if BO couldn’t bring back unicorns or the Vikings, much less deliver on his promise of accountability and transparency, how much trouble can Trump cause for the greatest nation on the planet?

You’ve had celebrity presidents before (one with an airport, schools, libraries and maybe even movie theaters named after him).

On a serious note, times have changed. Celebrities might no longer have what it takes to serve as the face of your nation. Think about it: Our economy is global now. Domestic actions come with global consequences. Remember the financial crisis? It crippled entire countries, many of them larger than Rhode Island.

The world also makes the US an easy scapegoat.

Today, everyday Americans have incredible power, and sending a message to the White House that you’re tired of a lack in accountability and transparency (like we are in Canada), you’re fed up with the rhetoric and abuses of power (like we are in Canada), you’re no longer willing to take the heat for your politicians’ blunders and inadequacies (like we are in Canada) is not an easy solution.

Trust me, my kayaking-lessons-for-life card doesn’t count for much when I’m visiting Florida in the winter.

In Canada, I wish we had united better.

I wish we’d had the foresight to see how the world would view our young, inexperienced leader when he advises on nuclear strategies, military actions, economic sanctions, and any other very real thing that has very real consequences somewhere else.

People, we’re not kayaking down the Mississippi with a pound of weed in our backpacks singing kumbaya to make things better; we’re sitting at the table with the world’s most powerful leaders, people who don’t take “you’re fired” very lightly.

This November, think it through.

Unite.

Make informed decisions about your leadership. Times have changed, and it’s more important than ever that your great nation takes a stand and sends the right message, not just to the White House, but to the globe.

Morgan Parker spent twelve years sifting through boxes of research before sitting down and writing a novel titled 1986. Parker has written seven other novels since 2012 (including the popular Violets & Violence and Surviving Goodbye) and is praised for his unique voice and storytelling ability. For more info on Parker visit,  www.officialmorganparker.com.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Thank you for visiting my p/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Trainpocalypse: Real Danger To The Environment Is In Not Approving The Keystone XL Pipeline

The following is the opinion of the writer of this piece and not necessarily of Rise News.

The Keystone XL Pipeline is a divisive issue in American politics. Typically, Republicans favor it, stressing its economic benefits:

“This decision isn’t surprising, but it is sickening. By rejecting this pipeline, the president is rejecting tens of thousands of good-paying jobs.”House Speaker Paul Ryan

While Democrats mostly oppose it, with an intense focus on its environmental impact:

“Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interest. And our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.” – President Barack Obama

Given how difficult it has become for both sides to agree on anything, let’s just start out with some indisputable facts.

  • The Athabasca oil sands in Alberta, Canada have a substantial amount of oil
  • Around 48 companies have a stake in the oil sands, the majority of them not American-based
  • A pipeline is one of a few different ways to transport oil

The Keystone XL Pipeline is commonly depicted by American politicians as the single determinant in whether this dirty oil is going to be extracted from the ground, but that is a narrow minded take on a large-scale problem.

Whether or not America decides to build one pipeline will not stop Canadian businesses and state and local governments from exploiting the economic windfall of this massive supply of energy. With no major pipeline to move this oil to one of its most logical destinations, many of these businesses have turned to a myriad of options.

America’s railroads have become a much more popular method to distribute their cargo, with western transportation spiking in this last quarter after President Obama vetoed the Keystone Pipeline.

“The environmental impact is negative either way, but when pipelines burst, they usually don’t present the immediate danger to life and property that derailed oil trains do.”

Transporting oil in a sealed compartment while speeding along metal rails is a much more dangerous option than pushing it through a pipeline.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration even says that “pipelines are currently still the safest means of transporting hazardous liquids and natural gas.”

If a train becomes derailed, multiple massive explosions are a possibility, as evidenced by the 2013 tragedy in Quebec that claimed 47 lives, the deadliest in the history of oil by rail.

WATCH: 2013 BBC report on the Quebec oil train tragedy

According to federal data, more oil was spilled from trains in 2013 than in the previous four decades combined. By creating a political football out of one project, we have avoided talking about the real consequences of action or inaction.

Inaction has led to a situation where oil that is especially combustible is being moved through cities and along rivers, and the problem is accelerating.

Nine railroad incidents spilled 4,900 gallons of oil throughout 2010; in 2014, 143 episodes released 57,600 gallons.

Even in the face of mounting calamities, the oil industry is dragging its feet on implementing new rail safety rules.

Granted, the rate of rail accidents has been declining since 2005, but the amount of oil being moved in the last five years isn’t even comparable to the ones preceding them. The issue has evolved into uncharted territory for the current model.

The Alberta tar sands oil industry is preparing to triple production by 2030. They are under immense pressure to find various methods to export this oil, especially since labor and materials have become more expensive.

Vetoing the creation of a pipeline into America will not keep this oil in the ground. There is plenty of demand for oil here, and any time we have the opportunity to lessen our dependence on Middle Eastern despots in order to become closer to our northern ally, we should take it.

Yes, a pipeline will have negative effects on the environment, but that oil is coming out regardless – the market has spoken. If we don’t buy it, someone else will. Saying no to a pipeline just means that more of this oil will be transported to the United States by alternative methods like rail, and there will continue to be tragedies that cost innocent lives.

The environmental impact is negative either way, but when pipelines burst, they usually don’t present the immediate danger to life and property that derailed oil trains do.

The United States should build a pipeline to the Canadian tar sands in order to alleviate the stress that is being placed on our railroads, and use the tax windfall to invest in an energy future where we don’t have to choose between a handful of lousy options.

Cover Photo Credit: Greg Gjerdingen/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

LIVE NOW: Obama Rejects Keystone XL Pipeline Construction

UPDATE – 11:58 AM EST: President Barack Obama is speaking now. Live feed below.

President Barack Obama is expected to announce that his administration has rejected a proposal to construct a 1,179 mile long pipeline that would have cut across the American heartland according to the New York Times.

TransCanada, the company that was lobbying for the construction of the pipeline had attempted to retract its request for review from the Obama administration after it became clear that the proposal would not be approved by the government. Some have speculated that the company is hoping for a Republican to win the White House in 2016 so that they get the project approved.

Obama will speak to the nation at 11:45 AM.

LIVE FEED: (Via White House/ Youtube)

Stay with Rise News as we cover this developing story. 

Cover Photo Credit: Maureen/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

WATCH LIVE: Justin Trudeau Sworn In As New Prime Minister Of Canada

Justin Trudeau, the young and dashing leader of the Liberal Party is to set to be sworn in as Prime Minister of Canada later this morning as the country braces for the end of nearly 10 years of Conservative rule.

The ceremony is expected to begin at 10:30 AM EST.

Read More: Justin Trudeau knocks off Stephen Harper and the Conservatives in historic election

Watch Live: Video feed from CBC.

Cover Photo Credit: Alex Guibord/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Liberal Takeover: LIVE Canada Election Night Results 2015

Rise News will be covering results as they come in across Canada throughout the night.

The nation is deciding on 338 ridings (districts) and a party needs 170 elected members in order to win an outright majority.

Polls on the Western side of the nation are still open until 10 PM EST.

9:45 EST: The CBC is projecting that the Liberal Party will ride to power and that Justin Trudeau will be the next prime minister. 234 ridings are still outstanding.

9:00 EST: Early results show that the Liberal Party is outperforming expectations and is making tremendous gains on in the Atlantic Canada region.

There is speculation that a Liberal wave may be developing and that voters have come together to ensure that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party are kept out of office after ten years of holding power.

Want to join the conversation? Tweet at us your thoughts about the election by using the hashtag #RiseCanada2015

 

Photo Credit: Alex Indigo/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

John Oliver Brings Americans Up To Speed On Today’s Canadian Election, Bashes Stephen Harper

While most Americans probably have no idea that there is a very important election going on in Canada today, John Oliver took to the air last night to try to bring us all up to speed.

And it was pretty hilarious.

Oliver made it clear that current Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper is unfit for another term in office because of his regressive policies regarding minority rights and marijuana use among other things.

And while he poked fun at the two other main candidates for Prime Minister, Oliver saved his most devastating scorn for the current leader of the country.

If you are in a time crunch, we recommend jumping ahead to the 13:20 mark so you can see a really funny cameo from Mike Myers. Let’s just say that he touches on a certain landmark moment.

Watch: John Oliver begs Canada not to vote for Stephen Harper again. 

 

Like this piece? Rise News just launched a few weeks ago and is only getting started. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with global news. Have a news tip? (No matter how big or small!) Send it to us- editor@risenews.net. 

Photo Credit: Screenshot/ Youtube (HBO)

This Hilarious Video Makes A Pretty Important Point About Voting

Hey Americans, here’s something that we can be happy be about. It turns out that we aren’t the only wealthy democracy that has a hard time getting young people to show up to the polls and vote.

In Canada, youth rights activists are trying to drum up excitement for the next general election, which takes place on October 19.

At stake is the future of the country, as the Conservative Party hopes to maintain their 10 year lock on power.

During the last general election in 2011, less than 39 percent of young people aged 18 to 24 voted. At the same time however, 75 percent of people aged 65 to 74 voted in the race.

The group VoteSavvy thinks those numbers are all wrong and set out to dramatically increase youth turnout for the 2015 election.

They released this funny video explaining why young people shouldn’t let their parents make all important decisions in their lives, including in the dating and political spheres.

Watch:

Like this piece? Rise News just launched a few weeks ago and is only getting started. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with global news. Have a news tip? (No matter how big or small!) Send it to us- editor@risenews.net. 

Cover Photo Credit: Vote Savvy/ Screenshot of Youtube

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