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The Hateful Eight is not just a Quentin Tarantino Movie

Hateful-Eight

By Heidi Loney

Last month, I penned an article called The Mainstreaming of White Pride in which I outlined the reasons why I believed that both the Students for Western Civilisation and in turn, Toronto’s white student union are innately racist. At the beginning of December, VICE interviewed well known white supremacist and Alex P. Keaton look-alike Richard Spencer in the piece, We Asked a White Supremacist What He Thinks of Donald Trump (catchy title, huh?). Spencer used doublespeak to disguise his true beliefs:

…he [Spencer] prefers the terms “alternative right” and “identitarianist” over “racist” or “white supremacist.” To be an identitarian, Spencer says, is to say, “Identity is the most important question to answer. Who are we racially? Who are we historically? Who are we in terms of our experience? Who are we in terms of our community?” This is a fancy way of saying that he is a racist.

British professor Matthew Feldman shows why Richard Spencer might choose to use euphemisms in Feldman’s essay, Doublespeak: Radical Right Rhetoric Today:

…separation between “hardcore” fascists and “the public” was influentially posited in Cas Mudde’s landmark study from 2000, The Ideology of the Extreme Right, claiming that such groups typically have a more “moderate ‘frontstage’” intended for public consumption and “a radical ‘back-stage’” targeted at neo-fascist activists…For the radical right will not simply show the same face, with the same jackboots and salutes and manifestos of old. They too know their history.

Radical right

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Richard Spencer: Sears model or white nationalist? You decide.

(Interesting side note: Richard Spencer and fellow white nationalist Matthew Heimbach, while their ideologies are similar, do disagree on something. Heimbach is against gay rights in any any or form, while one of Spencer’s colleague Jack Donovan identifies as an androphile [Alt-right doublespeak for gay], a man who is attracted to other men. Because of this wedge, Heimbach has been forbidden to speak at any functions hosted by Spencer, since Jack Donovan is a regular speaker for the National Policy Institute. See more on this in Queer Fascism: Why white nationalists are trying to drop homophobia)

So we can no longer rely on the symbols of old to know when we are facing hatred: the days of the white hood, swastikas and heavily tattooed Nazi skinheads, while not completely gone, are now replaced by the serene images of ancient western civilization, Odinism, and Viking lore.

Hate looks like the boy next door

Throw away your stereotypical back woods inbreeds and stupid rednecks. The new face of hate looks something like this –  squeaky clean looking boys; the kind you would gladly hire to mow your lawn or have walk your dog. They’re clean cut, intelligent and well educated.  Alan Dutton, the national director of the Canadian Anti-racism Education and Research Society tells me in an interview that,

the stereotype is that white supremacists are just low IQ, working class, alienated men is totally inaccurate. The recruitment of young Canadian men and women into white supremacist groups on campus goes back a long time.

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Manly man and author of “The Way of Men”, androphile Jack Donovan

Along with their education, these young men do have other things in common: They all seem to love JRR Tolkien, Viking and Norse culture and anti-feminist author and former Satanist Jack Donovan. They also differ on some things. But what they all are is hard right, racist extremists – some more radical than others.

But what is surpising is that they do not all follow the same ideology – this group is a jumble of Third Positionists, Indentitarians, Alternative Right (Alt-Right) and Radical Traditionalists. There might even be a bit of Dark Enlightenment or Neoreacationary (NRx) thrown in for good measure (here’s a highly detailed explanation of this anti-democratic movement at Slate Star Codex). There are so many sections and subsections of these movements that it’s enough to make your head spin.

A year ago, Generation Indentity – Canada created their facebook group and website. According to Wikipedia, the Indentitarian movement, of which Richard Spencer identifies, is a largely anti-immigrant youth movement that began in 2002 in France and derived from the French Nouvelle Droite Génération Identitaire. The movement uses the upper case Greek letter Lamda for their symbol, which was used as a shield pattern by the Spartan Army who were greatly outnumbered by the Persians during the Battle of Thermopylae. (for the Hollywood version, you can always watch their adaptation of Frank Miller’s 300)

The logo for Generation Identity – Canada from the groups’ Facebook page.

But what all these movements are in a nutshell, with the exception of Third Positionists (which is a bizarre mashup of right and left) are ultra-hard-right, like further right than even neo-conservative and paleo-conservative movements, or the politics of David Frum and Pat Buchanan respectively. You know, if Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump moved into murkier, shark infested waters –  where his administration puts a full stop on immigration of Muslims and Mexicans – and they gather them all up and put them in camps or even repatriate them back to the “old country”, even if they were born in the U.S. of A.

But this bandy of racists doesn’t just hate on race and culture. They hate on women too (especially feminists) and women’s reproductive rights, science (many anti-vaxers are hard right), homosexuals, and the disabled. Some of them even hate on the 1% and corporations. Even more strange, some in the movement are radical environmentalists and conspiracy theorists with cultural Marxism (I explain this and traditionalism in my article: The Mainstreaming of White Pride), the Cathedral and the New World Order conspiracy.

The Students for Western Civilisation use cultural Marxist theory in their essay: York Needs A White Students Union! He/they write:

The doctrine in which York liberal arts students are programmed is called neo-Marxism or “cultural Marxism”. Neo-Marxism is an illiberal ideology which looks at identity politics in terms of “oppressors” and “the oppressed”. The three broad categories of identity include gender, sexuality and, the category that receives the most attention: ethnicity…

So, in order to address this situation, we propose the formation of a white students’ union. A white students’ union would serve multiple purposes. It would serve to promote and celebrate the culture of Western Civilisation. It would serve as a platform to promote and advance the political interests of Western peoples. And most importantly, it would serve as a venue to explore those perspectives on ethnic politics that our Marxist indoctrinators seek to suppress and ignore, thereby giving to York a taste of that intellectual “diversity” which it purports to value.

But Alan Dutton begs to differ. He tells me in an interview:

To organize a group based on white skin, or European heritage, raises many questions. Black student unions and Chinese [student unions] and others serve a function in a society where there is institutionalized and organized racism. I see little to justify a white union other than as a means of recruitment into extremists groups and ideology. History has shown that white unions have not been the bastions of human rights and freedoms, but have served as yet another basis for advocating far right ideology.

While I cannot confirm the identity of the author of the essay posted on the Students for Western Civilisation homepage, I can confirm that Toronto’s white student union does exist and is not actually a hoax. On the neo-nazi internet forum Stormfront, I discovered a posting by member “the Knights Templar” about Toronto’s white student union in a conversation with “devoid”. In September 2015, “devoid” wrote:

I spoke to this fella who created this group, the guy is a cuck, what a surprise.
I told him how Jews were responsible for DIEversity…. told me I was schizophrenic.
What a disgrace.

To which “The Knights Templar” responded:

I met the man in person (this fella who created this group) and he seems more rational than half the posters on this site. He introduced me to the rest of the group, all highly educated and presentable men. I analyzed the whole group, listened to them speak amongst each other, they definitely don’t seem like cucks to me. Perhaps you shouldn’t divide the movement further, by labeling all those who don’t share the same views as you, as cucks. People like you are the reason why we can’t get anywhere.

This further angers “devoid” who lashes out with:

People like me are the reason why we won’t go anywhere? You cannot be serious, are you actually serious?

Ok cuck, enjoy participating in these circle jerk groups who refuse to point out that Jews are behind white genocide. I am not dividing anything. You’re either pro-white, or you’re a cuck, it’s very simple. This useless group will achieve nothing.

The dude who created this group called me a schizophrenic for trying to point out that cultural marxism is jewish.

What does that tell you?

White people in Canada are completely done for. Why do we have to be delusional about everything? Can’t we just say things for what they are?

Only Eastern European countries have very strong resistance, and they will most likely be the only white countries left in the world. Eastern Europeans have their heads screwed on properly.

Not only are White Canadians completely done for, they’ve been indoctrinated so bad, they believe their OWN genocide is a progressive and wonderful thing!

Look it’s better to fight than do nothing, however, people have to realize when we’ve lost, we’ve lost.

Countries that already are gone: Sweden, Canada
Most likely gone: Britain, Germany, France

Who are these boys?

On a recent blog post Students For Western Civilization: Trolls, But Still Interesting (Part II), the website anti-racist Canada identified a group of radicalized Ontario boys meeting on-line but also in person. Anti-racist Canada identified Ottawa resident and Algonquin College student [redacted], a self-described Third Positionist, as the founder of the on-line Facebook group and VK group (Russia’s own social networking site), the now defunct Fatherland Front. According to anti-racist Canada, “[redacted] in particular, would post pseudo-intellectual comments on matters of ethnicity, antisemitism, and what they believed to be ‘traditional’ society.”

Nick Prokhorovych (Nikoslav Tigrovich) - December 20, 1996 - Ottawa, ON - FB - 1
Nick Prokhorovych, 1996

Ottawa residents Nick Prokhorovych (and fellow Algonquin college student) and Markoslav (Mark) Mikhailovych Makevsky (using Russianized names) appeared to both be regular contributors to the same group. Written when they were teens, here are some Christian fundamentalist/neo-Nazi pearls of wisdom (taken from screengrabs on the Fatherland Front Facebook page):

On gay rights:

Skinheads in Russia are doing the right thing, creating an unsafe environment for faggots, immigrants from 3rd world countries and leftists. Keep up the good work fellas.

Whoever calls himself a Christian and is pro-gay, cannot call himself a Christian. The two do not belong together. Either you are with the devil (pro-gay), or you with God (Christian).

-Nick.

On feminism:

The whole point of feminism is to ensure that the liberal state and the Jew assume the function of the man, in which women only conform to it.

-[redacted]

On immigration:

I must at times remind my nationalist friends that the mass invasion of our lands by third world immigrants is not the essence of the problem. The true cause of our problems is the failure of our leftist policies that have been in place since the Second World War. Third world immigration is a symptom not the cause. We must purge the leftist traitors within our ranks first and foremost.

-Mark

On racism:

When anyone calls me a racist after I point out the negative qualities of black people, liberals start defending them like loyal dogs. I simply say that there is no such thing as a non-racist person. You take any “non-racist” and place him in an all-black neighborhood for a month. Shortly, after a week, he will beg to move back to a white neighborhood after being insulted, mugged, beaten up, or maybe even gang raped. Suddenly, the nigger lover will become a nigger hater in a matter of [a] few days.

-Nick

Hating on special needs students:

So called ‘special needs’ students are put into special education classes with at least 1 qualified educator per every 2 students. These drooling imbeciles who rely upon the state for the sustenance get not only equal but preferential treatment. Lets stop this nonsense and allocate our qualified educators to students who actually have a chance to improve the lot of our folk and nation. It is an insult when good students have 1 teacher per 30 students while the imbeciles have 1 teacher for every 2 students.

-Mark

And finally, some seriously anti-sematic, hateful nonsense:

The Jew is a blessing to the Aryan, for he strengthens us in an attempt to destroy us. He challenges the very fabric of the latter by targeting the Aryan’s weak spots, who responds by improving upon them –thereby speeding up Aryan evolution in a journey to form a new man.

The Jew may or may not realise this, but he is prolonging the means to his own end.

Sometimes cancer cannot be treated but must be removed.

We will not ‘remove’ the general population, for they are destroying themselves. We are to build civilization over their remains.

Multiply Dachau by fourfold. Should do the trick!

-[redacted]

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A selfie of pimply faced Tyler (Marc) Malenfant just coming out of his teen years, February, 2012

According to anti-racist Canada, after removing the Fatherland Front from both Facebook, [redacted] replaced the Fatherland Front on VK with Regnum Arya (loosely translated as noble kingdom) – his VK page described as defenders of the Aryan realm. Anti-racist Canada was able to connect Tyler (Marc) Malenfant, a communications and design student at Ryerson University in Toronto by not only his VK profile but also because of his other on-line posts. Here is but a snippet of Malenfant’s postings on Aljezeera back in April 2015:

As a Christian, I can say the #1 dumbest thing in western society was to adopt secularism. The separation of church and state is a lie. The Jews will use these same lies to destroy Islam in the same way they destroyed Christianity. Any true Muslim will NEVER allow secularism. Secularism=atheism=Satanism.

…you so called “anti-racists”are killing me with your retrdedness [sic] and stupidity XD YOUR [sic] ALL JUST CALLING JUSTIN NAMES!!!!! Your [sic] all a bunch of idiots who think your [sic] “inspirational” or “enlightened” when in reality your [sic] all just dumb asses who are repeating what I hear on Shalom TV 24/7 365 Days a year.

And in the comment section of a VICE article, Malenfant indicates that he has ties to white nationalist Matthew Heimbach and the Trad Youth Network:

I’m fully aware of who created this group (mathew heimbach) and im also aware that there are jews in his original orgonization [sic], not anymore though since he started the traditionalist youth network. but if a jew wants to help us out and become one of us then thats [sic] great, but sadly most are liberal marxists who hate whites…. i know this from personal exprience [sic] because my mother’s side of the family is jewish.

im fb friends with mathew heimbach loolll and other members of that group, im simply just surprised that the group has finally moved into Canada

…there’s A LOT more nationalists in toronto than you would think….. this is only the begining [sic]

Patrick Jolin_White Students Union
Patrick Anthony Jolin sporting the same haircut as the boys from the white students union poster.

Marc Malenfant, clearly a zealously hateful young man, is also Facebook friends with both [redacted] and another notable young bigot named Patrick Anthony Jolin. According to Jolin’s twitter profile which featured a profile picture of him aiming his hunting rifle, the Montreal native and University of Guelph student is 21 years old, alt-right, a traditionalist identarian and an EMTP (a Myers-Briggs personality type meaning “visionary”). But mostly, like his “visionary” trait states, he is really just full of himself.

Paddy's Twitter
Screengrab Paddy’s Deleted Twitter Account

You can find some hints into what makes a racist like Jolin tick. It’s not as much from his Tumblr page, which features images of western civilisation, Old-English folklore mixed into a montage of war images and semi-automatic weapons. I actually feel icky looking at it.

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Screengrab of Paddy’s now deleted Tumblr page

What’s more telling (and more than slightly sad) is Jolin’s WordPress blog, from what I can tell he created while still in high school. In a post called, Who am I? (and since Paddy has scrubbed the internet) here is what he wrote in case you missed it:

I aim for success, I aim for the best. Second place is not for me.
I constantly live in a state of self improvement. I focus on the body, the mind, and the soul
I work out, I read, and I exercise my soul, through the art of Drama
I have learned many things in life, and I am proud to say that I am blessed with motivation, passion, and ambition.
However, I was not always like this.
It all started when I met a particular man in the Summer of 2010. Late August.
I have him to thank for my recent lifestyle.

He doesn’t think much of women, happily endorsing the pick-up artist blogpost, The Sixteen Commandments of Poon (slang for vagina) under his online moniker RichterSturmgeist:

Sixteen Commandment of Poon screengrab

It’s interesting to note that Jolin was reading blogs of this ilk, written by white nationalist and men’s rights advocate James C. Weidmann (under the blog name Chateau Heartiste) at the tender young age of 16 or 17. More recently, Jolin posted on the VICE story, A Group of White Supremacists Is Promoting Itself on Canadian University Campuses:

I love the fact the only people opposing this are sheltered, self loathing, white middle classed liberal-progressives who’ve never struggled a day in their lives. Too bad. We’re not going to apologize. The more these radical marxist social justice warriors continue to spit on us, the more conscious the Euro-Canadian identity will become in the minds of our youth. They’re only proving these people correct by reacting with hostility. The logic is really quite simple: Don’t pretend you’re an egalitarian or believe in classical liberal values if you’re going to hypocritically deny a group the right to work to their own collective benefit on the basis of race when you allow it for everybody else.

Rounding out this “Hateful Eight” are fellow racists Andrew Beland of Ottawa and Montrealers Gabriel Alexander Paradis-Knee and Bryan Sturmangriff Mons. Anti racist Canada documented a meeting two years ago in a Facebook screen grab showing the group gathered in real life for a New Years Eve celebration.

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Some of the members from the “Hateful Eight” New Years Eve, December 31, 2013

And no brood would be complete without a father figure

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A recent Facebook image of William Cooke, December 2015

What connects this group of a dozen or so boys from universities and colleges across the province is Toronto resident William Cooke. Cooke’s Facebook profile states that he is a former assistant professor at the University of Guelph and currently works as an English Glossarian at the Records of Early English Drama at U of T since 1995. However, the REED Project Manager informed me that Cooke has not done any freelance work for over a year.

Cooke was born in England, an active member of the Anglican church, has a fondness for the writings of Conrad Black and appears to be a both a traditionalist and a monarchist. I can’t confirm if this is the man that Patrick Jolin met back in his teens, but it is clear that he is influential in not just his life through his on-line posts, but in the lives of many of these young men.

It is also slightly creepy, that this man who appears to be well into his fifties, is schooling these young lads in the ways of tradition. From some of his posts, he comes across fatherly and kind and careful in what he says. And it’s also clear from Jolin’s post on Cooke’s Facebook wall, that Jolin greatly admires the man:

This is not my argument, but mark my words. When you tangle with this man’s brain, you’re going to lose.

It’s difficult to know if Cooke is just a hard-right conservative (given that he is careful in the wording of his on-line posts) or something more sinister. But despite his Gandalf style, slightly know-it-all qualities, his protégés might be more radical than he is.

In the mean time, we’ll be monitoring.

Quentin Tarantino

Further reading:“`

‘Cuckservative’ – the conservative insult of the month, explained

Editor’s note, January 20th, 2017:

I was contacted by one of the persons mentioned in this piece who asked me to either remove their name from the article or take down the piece entirely because they no longer ascribe to hate and that person was a minor at the time. Given the recent occurrences on school campuses, I believe that this subject is still relevant, Therefore, after removing this piece from my blog, I have redacted their name and reposted the article.

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The history of the (almost) short-lived conservative campus rag

Linda Frum
Linda Frum handing out issues of the McGill University Magazine

By Heidi Loney

Comedian Sarah Silverman recently said in speaking of progressives at university, “They lead the revolution. They’re pretty much on the right side of history.”

Student-run campus university papers have long been a tradition – the voice of the socially active progressives – with many of these young journalists carving out successful careers upon graduation. In the mid-eighties, a handful of ultra-conservative student-run newspapers cropped up on Canadian University campuses with funding from a US conservative public policy organization.

How they got into Canada

It was in September of 1983 when the first of seven campus papers, the debut issue of McGill University Magazine would first appear.

Dating back to 1911, McGill University already had an official student run newspaper called the McGill Daily. Like many campus newspapers, it was left-leaning, covering highly politicized issues of the day such as the anti-apartheid movement and the contras in Nicaragua. The paper reflected the ongoing protests on campus.

This was something that McGill third year arts student and young conservative Linda Frum, long before becoming a journalist with the National Post and conservative Canadian Senator, wanted to counter what she referred to as McGill Daily’s “self-indulgent politics”.[i]

Linda Frum is the daughter of the late CBC darling Barbara Frum, former host of The Journal. Linda is sister to David Frum, the former speechwriter for George W. Bush who coined the infamous term “Axis of Evil”. Linda wanted to offer a neoconservative alternative and like many of her contemporaries, Reagan’s and Thatcher’s domestic and foreign policies greatly influenced her.

The result was The McGill University Magazine, with 6500 copies of the first issue launched in September 1983, with Linda at the helm of its masthead. Sometime just after the turn of the last century, the McGill faculty had published the original McGill University Magazine, and this is what got Frum into trouble. Without asking for permission from the University administration and the Board of Governors, Frum had in essence violated copyright of the words “McGill” and “McGill University” as well as making her student paper appear official, which of course it was not. Even with a stern warning from administrators and without fear of some kind of reprimand, Frum plowed ahead with her premier issue.[ii]

It was unclear where the money was coming from to pay for the costs of printing her independent magazine, but Frum said that she’d financed the first issue of the McGill Magazine with “private donors” and just one advertiser, the Bank of Montreal. At the time, all Canadian universities had signed a South African boycott that prevented university-campus newpapers from selling ads to Canadian banks that loaned money to the apartheid nation. When the editors at the University of Toronto student paper the Varsity asked Frum if she knew why other student papers boycotted the Bank of Montreal, Frum answered, “I don’t know and I don’t care.”[iii]

Clearly Frum thought she was above the rules.

It would be over the course of the following term that more of these papers would appear across the country. Carleton University launched the Carleton Canuck while the University of Victoria John Galt, named for the male protagonist in the Ayn Rand libertarian bible, Atlas Shrugged. But it was Queen’s University right-wing paper Libertas and the University of Toronto’s University of Toronto Magazine that caused the most stir at Ontario campuses, and with good reason.

Each magazine, while staffed with its own editorial team and packaged with its own layout and covers, had conspicuously similar editorials. In their own editorial, the Varsity had lamented the need for another “alternative” magazine, considering the school already had a dozen or so college or faculty based papers. The Varsity suspected that the University Of Toronto Magazine, due to its “attractive look and handsome design work” must have also had a private or parental funding source.

Wright had told the Varsity writer Adam Corelli that it was his paper’s staff who’d contributed the $765 toward the $1000 cost of the first issue and denied family financial support, saying that his family didn’t share in his politics. He said that his staff and a friend who started a graphic design firm called Graphically Speaking just after leaving school, had come up with the look of the premier issue “over beer and pizza”.[iv]

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Digital Photo of the U of T Magazine Source: University of Toronto Archives

In February 1984, the first of five issues of the University of Toronto Magazine launched its premier issue, featuring a smartly designed blue tinted front page illustration of a grand staircase. The Toronto Sun‘s Andy Donato had donated the editorial cartoon, also in blue, accenting the back cover after Wright asked Donato for his help.

Regular magazine contributors included the campus’ who’s who on the political right including current federal cabinet minister Tony Clement, at the time a former U of T law student and politically active young Tory. Other writers included Linda Frum and Will Falk. They were fellow Trinity college students and Wright had used Linda’s Frum’s experience with her own paper, the McGill Magazine. Linda’s brother David Frum, who was also a good friend of Nigel Wright, held a meeting at his home. Wright, Clement and other politically conservative students from the Toronto campus attended the meeting to discuss the project.[v]

Other notable contributors included journalist Malcom Gladwell, who at the time was Nigel Wright’s classmate, and Guy Giorno, former Chief of Staff in the PMO of Prime Minister Stephen Harper before Wright succeeded him. Strangely, a letter to the editor from Giorno appeared in the second issue of the University of Toronto Magazine before his own article appears in the third issue. The letter reads:

Dear Sir,

I am fully supportive of the concept behind the University of Toronto Magazine; this campus is definitely in need of an alternative to the Varsity’s left leaning journalism.

Thank you very much,

G.W. Giorno.

It is likely that Wright and company would have had further help from David Frum’s future wife, Danielle Crittenden. Crittenden’s late father, Max Crittenden, had been the editor of the now defunct conservative daily, the Toronto (Evening) Telegram, the same place her late step father Peter Worthington and Andy Donato began their journalism careers. Worthington later became the founding editor of the tabloid paper the Toronto Sun in the same year that the Toronto Telegram owner, John Basset, shut down the paper because of company losses. Upon high school graduation, the Toronto Sun employed Crittenden as a reporter and feature writer until she left 1984.

After only five issues, Wright would leave the paper by year end to work in the Policy and Legislative Unit of the Prime Minister’s office, writing in a letter to readers,” I am comfortable in the knowledge that the Magazine has been left in able hands and in the hope that widespread support for it continues.” Wright handed the reigns of editor to Ingrid van Weert, his fellow law student and frequent U of T Magazine contributor.[vi]

Nigel Wright eventually served as the thirteenth Chief of Staff of the Office of the Prime Minister of Canada, later resigning from his position in 2013 after it came to light that Wright had written a check for just over 90K to cover the cost of Senator Mike Duffy improperly claimed residency expenses.

The money had to come from somewhere

Just as Nigel Wright was taking his new position at the PMO’s office, two student journalists – Albert Nerenberg and Howard Goldenthal – would collaborate on a series of articles in the McGill Daily. Printed over the course of a week in late 1984, Nerenberg and Goldenthal exposed the source of income for three ultra-conservative student-run papers at Canadian universities.

In the eighties, documentary filmmaker Nerenberg was the former editor at the McGill Daily and English Drama Student. Howard Goldenthal was a Ryerson journalism student at Ryerson Polytechnic Institute (now Ryerson University) and a regular Ryersonian contributor. Goldenthal’s investigative report on the Institute of Educational Affairs (IEA) was the first in his career. He would go on to work at CBC’s the Fifth Estate for 16 years and later as producer at The Current.

While Nerenberg reported that the Varsity had suspected US financing but had no proof, Nerenberg and Goldenthal were tipped off when a piece ran in the Carleton Canuck. The interview between McGill student Francis Williers and Carleton University student, Dalton Saunders, also the editor of Libertas, Queen’s University ultra-conservative rag, suggested that the money for the chain of ultra-conservative papers came from the US. Williers later admitted being behind the clone papers and that he’d received a grant for the Libertas from the US organisation, the Institute of Educational Affairs (IEA). It’s also interesting to note that Nigel Wright and McGill Magazine editor Mark Proudman eventually distanced themselves from Williers, Wright saying, “The PCs don’t want to be associated with that kind of trash.”[vii]

After contacting an IEA official, student journalism coordinator Jonathan Cohn, Nerenberg and Goldenthal were able to confirm that a “powerful American organization with ties to the Republican party” was behind the private donor money that financed McGill Magazine, the University of Toronto Magazine and Libertas. They learned that McGill Magazine had earned a $3000 grant from the IEA (that would be about $6200 today). While Nigel Wright admitted to getting grant money from the IEA while editor of the U of T Mag, he wouldn’t reveal the amount. He was probably still pissed that the “official voice” of the U of T was the Varsity, who according to an aside in his own paper, collected $1.25 from each student in 1984, with a 125% increase on the way to restore the Varsity’s financial health.[viii]

In an interview, Wright told Nerenberg and Goldenthal that, “We are happy to have the help of the Americans. They have more experience in setting up alternative papers.”[ix]

Mark Proudman had downplayed the funding from the IEA, telling the Montreal Gazette in November of 1984 that the McGill Daily IEA story was “much ado about nothing” and that McGill’s official student paper was “left of Trotsky.” McGill Daily editor Neremberg had argued that “disclosure of the funding is important because it lets students know ‘these conservative papers – these example of free enterprise – are part of an international network of neo-conservative ideology'”. [x]

In the same Gazette article, IEA president Phillip Marcus confirmed that the IEA had provided start-up grants to the three papers: “$3000 to McGill Magazine, $2700 to University of Toronto Magazine and $2000 to Libertas.”

The “who” behind the funding

What was the most disturbing about the funding was its actual source. The people behind the organisation were powerful, highly connected, and well financed. The Institute for Educational Affairs (later Madison Center for Educational Affairs) was a New York based, non-profit public policy organization founded in 1978 by William E. Simon and Irving Kristol. In the seventies, Director William Simon was Secretary of the Treasury during the Nixon administration. Beginning in 1977, he served as president of the John M. Olin Foundation, one of the IEA’s chief sources of financing. Many consider co-founder and journalist Irving Kristol the godfather of the neoconservative movement.

And the John M. Olin Foundation didn’t just help fund the IEA. In a Varsity journalistic piece authored by University of Toronto graduate student Patricia (Ellie) Perkins, she explored how the Olin Foundation penetrated Canadian higher learning institutes by funding, “a lecture series on ‘American political culture’ which is administered by the Political Science Department.”

Perkins, now a Professor at York University in Environmental and Ecological Economics, was highly critical of the selection committee asking, “Why has the committee to select invitees been limited since its inception 3 years ago to just four of the more than 45 members of the Political Science Faculty?”

Two of the University of Toronto professors on the committee were Clifford Orwin and Thomas Lee Pangle, both followers of Straussian political philosophy. After originally being denied tenure at Yale University for his Straussian beliefs, Thomas Pangle was eventually offered a tenured position at the University of Toronto. Orwin studied under conservative Harvard University professor Harvey Mansfield, also one of the guest speakers. [i]

Harvey Mansfield founded the Madison Center in 1988, merging with the IEA to form the Madison Center for Educational Affairs. When it eventually folded, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute assumed sponsorship for the Collegiate Network in 1995, which like its predecessor provides “editorial and financial outreach to conservative and libertarian student journalists.”[ii] The Collegiate Network names Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham as prominent alumni.

The Collegiate Network’s American style neoconservative predecessor, the Institute of Educational Affairs, had a history of funding ultra-conservative campus newspapers. Old-right conservative Frank Chodorov and conservative author William F. Buckley, Jr., founded the Intercollegiate Studies Institute back in 1953.

Where we are today

The Ryersonian operates through Ryerson’s School of Journalism by its professors and its staff drawn from a pool of journalism students as part of their course credits. Excalibur, the autonomous newspaper of York University, is exclusively student-run and funded through York’s student union. Journalism grad student Peter Goffin is one of four managing editors at the Ryersonian. In a phone interview he says that his paper has no specific slant and that managing editors, rotated every 4 weeks, must be “on-board” with all editorial decisions. As well, the Ryersonian welcomes input from all viewpoints in both their opinion section and on-line comments. Goffin says that the paper has yet to turn down a single opinion this year and with the exception of some hard right student groups, doesn’t sense any negativity on campus.

The Varsity editor-in-chief Alec Wilson concurs. While the paper has its slant, he says that U of T students can express their different viewpoints through the editorial and paper’s comment section. And like the Ryersonian, Wilson says that they’ve had no complaints.

But in February 2011, a group of conservative university students, feeling ostracized by the political perspectives represented on Montreal’s McGill campus, founded the Prince Arthur Herald, a bilingual neoliberal student publication. Certainly much more economical without printing fees, the publication began with just $150 with an additional $17,000 raised through fundraising; the money paid for the costs of incorporation and web design. As an “alternative” voice to the McGill Daily, McGill, Queens’ and Ottawa University students make up the conservative team of writers and editors. In her weekly column, National Post Barbara Kay refers to the students of the publication as “the [National] Post’s journalistic farm team.”[iii] Barbara Kay is also a member of the Herald’s Board of Governors and a regular contributor to the publication, so perhaps the Herald has become the farm team for the National Post.

The Prince Arthur Herald
Screen grab or the conservative digital publication, the Prince Arthur Herald

As a private off-campus publication, the Prince Arthur Herald has no requirement to reveal their funding sources. What’s unknown is where the $17,000 came from. The Collegiate Network, a Delaware based charity that provides financial support to conservative and libertarian student publications, names the Prince Arthur Herald, the only Canadian student publication on the member publication page of their website.

Jacob Lane, Managing Director of the Collegiate Network for the Intercollegiate Studies Institute was not available for comment.

None of this surprises the McGill Daily editor and political science major, Cem Ertekin, considering the timing. In Quebec, a series of student protest stemmed from an increase of student tuition fees highlighted the issues. Ertekin says that during the 2011/2012 academic year at McGill University, a small group of students created the Mod Squad (short for Moderate Squad), a smallish on-campus group that sought to “empower the McGill student body by restoring the voice of the average student.” The McGill Daily stated that “the group”, who later changed its name to the Moderate Political Action Committee (ModPAC), “formed as a result of a Facebook event that started during the five-day occupation” of the sixth floor of the James Administration building at McGill.

According to a Maclean’s article in what would become known as the 6Party movement, “Students took over the building on Tuesday when about 60 showed up to protest the administration’s decision to not honour a referendum over the continuation of funding for two campus groups.” On the sixth day, the protest ending without incident when police and security asked the occupiers to leave. The ModPAC’s facebook page, website and twitter page petered out.

Unlike the Toronto campus papers, Ertekin states that his paper cannot possibly be non-partisan when in their own statement of principles (SOP) it says: “Within this optic, The Daily recognizes that all events and issues are inherently political, involving relations of social and economic power and privilege. Further, we recognize that power is unevenly distributed, especially – but not solely – on the basis of gender, age, social class, race, sexuality, religion, ability, and cultural identity…To help correct these inequities, to the best of its ability, The Daily should depict and analyze power relations accurately in its coverage.” Ertekin adds that much of what he sees from the right is reactionary to the progressive movement rather than rightist activism in itself.

Ertekin believes that given that the Prince Arthur Herald is merely an on-line outlet, it doesn’t factor in at McGill University.

Okay, so (maybe) nothing to worry about there. But we still have the men’s rights groups and white supremacist groups trying to assert their rights on Canada’s campuses. Most recently, the Students for Western Civilization, a white supremacist group “composed primarily of students and alumni of Toronto universities” claim that Excalibur refused to publish: York Needs A White Students Union! In September, the group whose members are unknown, plastered their “White Student’s Union” posters without detection on York, Ryerson and U of T campuses.

20120613-white
One of the WSU posters discovered on Toronto University Campuses

The Students for a Western Civilization movement created their Facebook early in 2104, attracting a bounty of comments from neo-nazis across North America. No one at Excalibur knows about the submission or who is behind both of these hate groups. For all we know, someone anonymously slipped the letter under the editor’s door. Both the Ryersonian and Excalibur are investigating, hopefully with some results.

[i] Right-wing Olin foundation funding sympathetic lectures, The Varsity Vol 109, No 29 Jan 17, 1985

[ii] Beer, Jeremy; Jeffrey, Nelson; Frohnen, Bruce, American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia, May 20, 2014

[iii] Barbara Kay, Giving conservative students a voice, The National Post, Wednesday September 7th, 2011

[i] The Varsity Volume 104, No 15 October 14, 1983

[ii] McGill 25 Years Later: The McGill University Magazine Controversy: http://www.alumnilive365.mcgill.ca/2009/10/05/mcgill-25-years-later-the-mcgill-university-magazine-controversy/

[iii] The Varsity Vol 104, No 15 October 14, 1983

[iv] The Varsity Vol 104, No 53 February 10, 1984

[v] The Varsity Vol 104, No 43 January 18, 1984

[vi] University of Toronto Magazine Vol 2, No 2 December 1984

[vii] Seven ultra-conservative campus papers surface, The McGill Daily Vol 74, No 31 November 21, 1984

[viii] University of Toronto Magazine, Volume 1, No 2 February 1984

[ix] U.S. Institute behind Canadian Magazine, The McGill Daily Vol 74, No 30 November 19, 1984

[x] McGill students feuding over US grants, The Montreal Gazette, November 29, 1984

What’s the BIGGY about HOV?

hov_lanes.jpg.size.xxlarge.promoToronto traffic has always been a bone of contention with commuters, but never more so since the introduction of HOV lanes or high occupancy vehicles lanes. So much so, that it has dominated Toronto airways, news outlets and overshadowed the Pam Am games over the last few weeks.

As someone who doesn’t drive and has taken public transit for the better part of my adult life, I find the whole argument absurd. Seriously, there are plenty of other things in this world to bitch about, and this one seems to be about a 2 out of 10.

But what I have made a few observations from this whole thing:

1. There are a lot of commuters coming in from great distances within the GTA to work in downtown Toronto.
2. Very few drivers carpool.
3. Drivers have a very negative perception of public transit, even if they have actually rarely or never taken it.

According to a recent Metro article, writer Jessica Smith Cross and two compatriots attempted a commute from 1 Yonge Street and up the DVP to Fairview Mall on Sheppard Avenue East. Not surprising, the HOV commute took only 18 minutes while their colleague’s commute as a solo driver took 43 minutes. Smith Cross observed as their car “held a steady clip of 80 to 90 km/h on nearly the entire length of the Don Valley Parkway” that it’s “a stunning reminder of how many people drive to work and back alone”.

My family drove up to Orillia to drop my son off at camp on Monday afternoon. The only spot that we encountered HOV lanes were on the Don Valley Parkway, which we could use since we had four in the car. I was also surprised to find that there were so many solo drivers. But after that stretch, where we entered the 401 and the 400, we were just like any other driver without any special lanes at our disposal. The traffic was pretty clear all the way north, but upon the return trip, the 401 was heavily congested, because, it was rush hour.

HOV2Globe and Mail writer Darren McGee did a two-part comparison between driving to work in downtown Toronto from his home in Clarington, ON and taking the Go train. He titled the first installment HOV horror: One long, frustrating drive on the highway to Pan Am Hell. From the title, it’s obvious that McGee has a penchant for exaggeration either because he is a man-baby or he thinks it makes good copy. One commenter named K. Leicht wrote, ” Nightmare? Really? Nightmare!? What a blissfully joyful life you must live for your long, uneventful commute to be considered a nightmare. Makes a mockery of #firstworldproblems”.

HOVAt any rate, McGee complains that it took him 112 minutes to get to the Globe office during rush hour traffic (regular commute during rush hour takes about 55 to 80 minutes), with most of that time spent on the Don Valley. So, it took him 32 minutes longer on a bad commute day and an hour longer than his best commute time.

Sounds bad I know, but he did this test on the very first day the 3 person HOV lanes were opened – lending to a greater deal of confusion – AND there was an accident on the Don Valley that morning, which added to the lengthier proportion of time spent on that route.

The next day, he compared his previous day drive with a go at GO Transit, in the aptly titled: All aboard GO Transit for Day 2 of the Pan Am Games travel nightmare. He’s not one for concise titles. McGee complains while sitting in the quiet zone of the Go train, that a man with a bad cold and a woman who drinks her coffee too loudly surrounds him, while another woman applies her makeup, he might add, too heavily. The trip takes 108 minutes from door to door, 4 minutes shorter than the previous day’s drive.

Port Credit Guy tells McGee in the comment section, “If you brought your laptop or a book or something (or even the G&M), you wouldn’t even notice the make-up people and coffee slurpers, and you would actually get something done, which you can’t do in the car. Sounds like you need some time management training.” Definitely, man-baby.

Finally, I can’t wrap up this post until I mention that according to the Toronto Sun, our former mayor and current sitting Toronto city councillor Rob Ford has openly disobeyed the traffic laws. Recently recovering from abdominal surgery, he admitted to driving as a single occupant in the HOV lane and bragged about to the media.

Ford said, “Me? I’ve gone on the HOV lanes. Absolutely, I have. I have to get down here sometimes.” He added that, “these HOV lanes are a complete disaster. I know I see people just going down the HOV lanes and saying, ‘OK.’ Basically catch me if they can. There were a lot of people I saw that were by themselves.”

This coming from the same guy who smokes crack cocaine. Our current mayor John Tory has yet to comment. Perhaps he is too classy to even bother.

GMO Science Is Not All Black and White

GMO-science-settleIt’s interesting, as of late, that journalists, most notably at the CBC, are coming under fire for conflict of interests – the most recent case being the firing of Evan Solomon.

I have no conflict of interest, because, 1. I don’t work for anyone and 2. I am not paid. I do, however, have my bias, which as always I am open about (see the title of my blog).

So this brings me to this posting, for which I might be accused of being anti-science. I can clearly state that I am not. What I am is anti-corporatization, and that’s an entirely different beast altogether.

Often times, writers, bloggers and journalists will take the lazy way out by citing unreliable sources. If you dig a little deeper, you will find big corporate money is behind the whole thing.

Case in point – an Inside Agenda blogpost by Iman Sheikh, Digital Media Producer at TVO: Chipotle’s non-GMO claims are about marketing, not health.

I don’t doubt that the title of her essay is true, but she stops the whole argument shortly after paragraph two, going on to disprove, in a rather flimsy way I might add, the anti-GMO movement altogether. She never even returns to why this is a marketing issue, and not a health issue.

So I called her out on it, even referred to her at worst a shill (A person who pretends to give an impartial endorsement of something in which they themselves have an interest) in the comment section below the article or at least just lazy. I’m not sure what her motivations are, or her own personal bias, but I believe she set out to discredit the anti-GMO movement as anti-science.

I have no idea if Sheikh has ties to the industry, but she has previously worked for two right leaning publications: The National Post and the on-line aggregator the Huffington Post.

I personally, have nothing to gain from any of this but to be skeptical of both sides of the GMO coin, with a definite tilting toward public health and safety of consumers. I also continue to be dubious of both the claims from the corporations themselves, and even Health Canada, considering that our current government has muzzled our scientists.

So for the specific purpose of addressing Ms. Sheikh, let me break it down her blog post, one section at a time:

Sheikh writes in her article:

In Canada, the scientific consensus is clear: according to Health Canada, there’s no definitive evidence GMO food is unsafe.

That’s not exactly true. Canadian Epidemiologist John McLaughlin, chief science officer for Public Health Ontario and most recently offered his expertise to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). After examining the data from peer-reviewed studies he says evidence from lab tests swayed the decision to reclassify glyphosate, the main ingredient in the herbicide Roundup used for many GMOs, for the first time in 20 years.

In a CBC interview he stated, “It’s important to know that the agent may possibly, or in this situation, probably be, a cancer causing agent, at least for a cancer, such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma”, also noting that there aren’t enough studies on the effects on humans.

While Health Canada did not agree with the WHO’s final report, they took it seriously enough. Health Canada proposed a Re-evaluation Decision on Glyphosate, opening it up in April of this year to public consultation.

In an article about the safety of GMOs, Patrice Sutton, MPH, a researcher with UCSF’s Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment, states, “Many people could rightly look at the existing science and see that it’s extremely weak. However, weak science does not prove safety; it just demonstrates that the public health impacts of GMOs are uncertain. It’s an overall public health principle that in the face of scientific uncertainty to expose everybody to something is a legitimate concern that should give us pause.”

In another excerpt from Sheikh’s Inside Agenda blog post, she writes:

(Bt delta endotoxin as one example, which is derived from a natural soil bacterium and added to corn and potatoes to ward off pests. Smith [documentary filmmaker Jeffrey M. Smith]says Bt damages human cells, citing a 2012 study in the Journal of Applied Toxicology, but no toxic effects have actually been detected in 70 years of its use. The pesticide is even considered acceptable for the organic food industry.

It’s true that organic farmers uses Bt (bacillus thuringiensis) toxin to kill off pests, which breaks down naturally in the environment. Bt is not harmful to mammals and according to the National Pesticide Information Centre, when eaten, Bt is confined to the gut; it does not reproduce, and the toxin is broken down like other proteins in the diet, leaving the body within 2 to 3 days. (SOURCE: National Pesticide Information Centre)

But the Bt toxin produced in GM crops is NOT the same as the naturally occurring soil bacterium Bt – the one used in organic farming. (SOURCE: GM Watch) Using genetic engineering, the Bt protein genes isolated from bacillus thuringiensis are transferred to plants (such as Bt Corn) and if the Bt protein gene isolated from bacteria is inserted into the DNA of a plant, the plant itself produces Bt toxin. (Source: GMO-Safety)

The implications that Bt endotoxins are present in the stomach are huge because Bt Toxin can change the gut flora, leading to a whole host of problems such as allergic reactions and antibiotic resistance. In a 2003 study where researches fed cows Bt Corn, the researchers found that a “remarkable amounts of Bt toxin were found in all contents of the GIT and the protein was still present in faeces”.

In another study, two researchers from Sherbrooke University in Quebec conducted a study in 2010 on maternal and fetal exposure to pesticides associated to genetically modified foods.

In the study, they used two groups: 30 healthy pregnant women recruited at delivery and 39 healthy fertile non-pregnant women, recruited during their tubal ligation. The researchers discovered that Cry1Ab toxin, an insecticidal protein produced by Bt (bacillus thuringiensis) was “detected in 93% and 80% of maternal and fetal blood samples, respectively and in 69% of tested blood samples from non-pregnant women.”

“There are no other studies for comparison with our results,” the researchers stated in their conclussion. “However, trace amounts of the Cry1Ab toxin were detected in the gastrointestinal contents of livestock fed on GM corn, raising concerns about this toxin in insect-resistant GM crops; (1) that these toxins may not be effectively eliminated in humans (unlike the organic use of Bt – which leaves the gut within 2-3 days) and (2) there may be a high risk of exposure through consumption of contaminated meat.”

Sheikh writes:

A 2012 study by French molecular biologist Gilles-Éric Séralini revealed rats eating Monsanto’s genetically modified corn developed large cancerous tumours. But soon after publication others in the scientific community questioned the results, and the journal was forced to retract the original study.

In Seralini’s research, 50% of the male rats and 70% of the female rats died when consuming GMO seed or drinking Roundup-laced water. Many of the rats also experienced tumors the size of golf balls that inhibited them from movement.

Sheikh cites the Genetic Literacy Project, whose director is Jon Entine, Shill #1 in the industry with ties to both Monsanto and Syngenta. (SOURCE: propagandists.org) Jon Entine, using his position at Forbes, authored probably more articles to date attacking Séralini than any other commentator.

Ditto for Shill #2, Henry Miller at Forbes. Miller is a former Tobacco and pesticide defender and climate change denier. (Source: USRTK)

Add in shill #3, Bruce M. Chassy, is co-author of a 2010 GMO study in Food and Chemical Toxicology that was supported by Syngenta, Monsanto, Dow, DuPont and Bayer. Chassy and his pro-GMO friends, have done everything in their power to discredit the two year study by pressuring Food and Chemical Toxicology to retract the study only on the inconclusiveness of this one paper. You’ll find Chassy’s own letter speaking against the study on the Genetic Literacy Project website.

On the main page of the Food and Chemical Toxicology website you will find a letter about the Séralini study retraction that in it states:

…the Editors and Publisher wish to make clear that the normal thorough peer review process was applied to the Seraliniet al. paper. The paper was published after being objectively and anonymously peer reviewed, with a series of revisions made by the authors and the corrected paper then accepted by the Editor.

Scientists took issue with the sample size and the use of Sprague-Dawley rats, which were the same rats that Monsanto used in their own 90 day study and are recommended for chronic toxicology tests by the National Toxicology Program. Meanwhile, another group of scientists have criticised the retraction, supporting the publication as the only independent and long term study to date.

And why did they wish to discredit Séralini and his team? Because up to this time, all short term non-independent studies to date showed no adverse health risks from GMOs and Roundup. Interestingly, Jack Heinemann, professor of molecular biology and genetics at the University of Canterbury New Zealand, whose letter they post on the Genetic Literacy Project website, was actually against the retraction. He says:

The first publication of these results revealed some of the viciousness that can be unleashed on researchers presenting uncomfortable findings. I applaud Environmental Sciences Europe for submitting the work to yet another round of rigorous blind peer review and then bravely standing by the process and the recommendations of its reviewers, especially after witnessing the events surrounding the first publication.

This study has arguably prevailed through the most comprehensive and independent review process to which any scientific study on GMOs has ever been subjected.

The work provides important new knowledge that must be taken into account by the community that evaluates and reports upon the risks of genetically modified organisms, indeed upon all sources of pesticide in our food and feed chains. In time these findings must be verified by repetition or challenged by superior experimentation. In my view, nothing constructive for risk assessment or promotion of GM biotechnology has been achieved by attempting to expunge these data from the public record.

In a Letter to the Editor at Food and Chemical Toxicology, Marcel Roberfroid, Professor of Biochemistry and Toxicology, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium and former member of the editorial board of Food and Chemical Toxicology writes:

I [also] feel ashamed because your decision gives support to those who argue and even claim that scientific research (especially in bio-sciences) is less and less independent and more and more subject to industry pressure. Your decision which can be interpreted as a will to eliminate scientific information that does not help supporting industrial interests is, in my view, unacceptable. If you and your colleagues of the editorial board had some questions about the conclusion of Séralini’s study, the only scientific attitude would have been to ask for additional studies. Retracting data creates questions and suspicion and it is not a scientific attitude.

With some modifications, the Environmental Sciences Europe Journal eventually republished the Séralini study, but not before the damage was already done.

In another section Sheikh’s article, she writes:

The anti-GMO camp also decries the use of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, an herbicide used in many of the company’s GMO food crops. (Caffeine is 10 times more toxic than glyphosate—but that doesn’t necessarily mean people should stop drinking coffee. As is the case with glyphosate, the typical dose of caffeine is not high enough to cause toxicity.)

Sheikh again cites and lifts this pretty much verbatim from pro-GMO site the Genetic Literacy Project.

I’m not sure where the claim about caffeine being 10 times more toxic than glyphosate comes from (there’s no link on the Genetic Literary Project website), but I suspect it refers to a co-authored study by a well-regarded American Biochemist Bruce Ames. Pro-GMOs refer to it frequently, since Ames is one of the earliest defenders of pesticides including DDT, critical of the 1962 book Silent Spring by author and biologist Rachel Carson. Carson, who highlights in her book the dangers of DDT, is considered one of the earliest pioneers of the environmental movement.

It took me a while to find Ames 23 year old study, titled Rodent Carcinogens: Setting Priorities. I had a terrible time trying to see how he came to his conclusions that I actually had to consult a neuroscientist friend to help me make heads or tails of the thing. But basically what the study says is, when we separately look at individual chemicals (synthetic or naturally occurring) and do a toxicology study where we give this chemical alone in LARGE chronic doses to rodents, lots of these chemicals will cause cancer in the rodents and kill them… BUT, this doesn’t scale up easily to what the safe dosages are in humans. We isolate some of those chemicals and give them in high chronic doses to rats, they will cause cancer. That doesn’t mean drinking coffee in natural amounts causes cancer.

And what I was able to come up with on my own is that Ames is an odd guy. He is well respected in the scientific community and has won numerous awards for his research. And yet, he is in bed with big-tobacco and climate change deniers. Most recently, he was interviewed in a pro-fracking documentary, Fracknation, seeking to address the concerns surrounding the process that were highlighted in the Oscar nominated anti-fracking film Gasland.

While the risk of glyphosate alone is relatively low, another study finds that, “inert ingredients of the popular pesticide product Roundup work synergistically and have greater endocrine disrupting effects than the active ingredient, glyphosate, alone.”

Following Quebec’s lead and using a precautionary principle, the Province of Ontario banned glyphosate, one of three class 9 chemicals, and all products containing glyphosate including Roundup from cosmetic lawn care use in 2009 “because they may pose an unnecessary risk to human health, particularly children’s health”, the government website states. Other provinces are following Ontario’s lead, now considered to have one of the most comprehensive bans in all of North America. As usual, like the smoking ban in public spaces, the municipalities and provinces are well ahead of the federal governement regulators.

Environmentalists and farmers have sounded alarms about the sprouting of so-called “superweeds” that have developed resistance to Roundup and its active ingredient glyphosate. A study reviewed the regarding the development of glyphosate resistant weeds. The researchers discovered that “the widespread adoption of GR crops has not only shifted weed species in these crops towards naturally resistant species, but it also resulted in evolution of GR weed biotypes. To date, a total of eight weed species have evolved resistance to glyphosate.”

The WHO states under its FAQ section of their website, while they back the safety of GMOs, that there are three areas of concern for human health with Genetically Modified Organisms: potentials to provoke allergic reaction (allergenicity), gene transfer, particularly relevant if antibiotic resistance genes that are used as markers when creating GMOs were to be transferred and outcrossing, the migration of genes from GM plants into conventional crops or related species in the wild.

Sheikh makes creates an image of the anti-GMO camp falling into the same group as the anti-vaxxers:

According to University of Guelph professor Andreas Boecker, the answer lies in the public’s general skepticism toward science. Another example of the same phenomenon: the anti-vaccination movement.

These are not the same phenomenon, and here’s why.

In a 2014 survey by the Pew Research Center, the Princeton Survey Research Associates International conducted 2,002 phone interviews in all US states.

According to the survey, 57% of the general public say they believe that eating genetically modified foods is unsafe with almost half of those surveyed holding college degrees believing that GMOs are generally unsafe. Meanwhile, a whopping 67% say that scientists do NOT have a clear understanding of the health effects of genetically modified crops while this.

When the same group was asked about whether vaccines for childhood diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) and polio should be required or left up to parental choice, the vast majority of adults, like 68%, said such vaccines should be required.

And according to a 2011 Ekos poll, “findings indicate that Canadian parents generally perceive little difficulty in making the decision to immunize their child, with 89 per cent of respondents rating the decision making process as easy – With childhood vaccines for tetanus/diphtheria/Hib/pertussis/polio, meningococcal disease, measles/mumps/rubella and pneumococcal disease in particular are seen as highly important.

So the anti-vaxxers, still largely remain in the lunatic fringe.

Sheikh’s  writes:

GMO foods might even solve health crises rather than create them. For example, Golden Rice is a genetically engineered grain designed to combat widespread human micronutrient deficiencies from lack of iron, zinc and vitamin A.

Golden Rice is always brought into the discussion when defending GMOs, like, it’s the holy grail of genetically modified foods, or something. The scare tactics used by the pro GMOs are especially disconcerting, like in the case of this intentionally provocative National Post article: Trashing rice, killing children

According to a study conducted by the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines and Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois in 2002, Golden Rice 1 was found to “deliver amounts of VA (Vitamin A) that are modest, and unlikely to fulfill requirements” compared to two other interventions: wheat fortification and supplementation. “Thus, it should be viewed as a complement to existing interventions.”

It wouldn’t be until 2005 when Syngenta developed GR2 and observed “an increase in total carotenoids of up to 23-fold compared to the original Golden Rice and a preferential accumulation of beta-carotene”.

Meanwhile, the WHO states that, “Since breast milk is a natural source of vitamin A, promoting breastfeeding is the best way to protect babies from VAD.” Post breastfeeding, “the periodic supply of high-dose vitamin A in swift, simple, low-cost, high-benefit interventions has also produced remarkable results, reducing mortality by 23% overall and by up to 50% for acute measles sufferers. The WHO also suggests that for “vulnerable rural families, for instance in Africa and South-East Asia, growing fruits and vegetables in home gardens complements dietary diversification and fortification and contributes to better lifelong health.”

Nutrient rich orange sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A and grow well in drought ridden countries such as in the continent of Africa. International Development Secretary Justine Greening unveiled in 2013 a £30 million plan to develop the potato, the crops being bred without the use of genetic modifications. She said, “Ending malnutrition is the first step to ending aid dependency through jobs and growth.” Source: ‘Super potato’ could save millions from blindness

I could keep going with this, but then this blog post would be even longer, so I will leave it here. If you wish to read further, you can read an earlier article I wrote: No Label, No Problem.

Note about this blogpost: This article was originally posted on June 16, 2015 and feeling that I didn’t cover all of my points thoroughly, I have elaborated more extensively and edited the original post.

 

The Toronto Election – a “Bloodbath” of the Fords own making

JohnTory
He may be conservative on the outside – but he’s a bad-ass on the inside.
Olivia Chow
She may look like the girl next door, but Olivia is a master of cunning and deception.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I started this blog almost 4 years ago just as Rob Ford was sworn in as Toronto’s 64th Mayor. The name for the blog came when Don Cherry famously said, “This is what you’ll be facing, Rob, with these left-wing pinkos — they scrape the bottom of the barrel,” even declaring Ford, “honest, he’s truthful, he’s like Julian Fantino — what you see is what you get.” Fantino has faced his own set of controversies as Commissioner of the OPP , Chief of Police in Toronto and more recently as a Conservative federal MP.

Coming to the end of Ford’s four year term and election slated for October 27th, I could not even fathom the debacle that his first term as Mayor would turn out to be.

Toronto deserves more. Seriously. Brother and former Councillor Doug Ford and campaign manager to Rob Ford has called the lead up to the election “a dirty campaign” even accusing other mayoral competitors of dirty tricks: smashing in his car window, planting the now infamous “shirtless jogger” and shirtless protestors, Doug referring to them as “fringe lunatics”.

On Tuesday, an article in the Toronto Star quoted a source at the GreeneStone rehabilitation facility in Muskoka, said that “Rob Ford literally had the run of the place. There were no rules around Rob Ford,” and an unnamed counsellor at the facility said, “We are not paid enough to deal with this guy.”

Rob Ford’s return to Toronto city politics and election campaign most definitely have not gone as well as I imagined his team hoped it would. Maybe the public has finally had enough, with so many unanswered questions with a protective, non-transparent and carefully crafted campaign, from selective access to the press to limited one-on-one interviews.

But what has grown more apparent as the days slowly crawl toward an October election, is how polarized the Ford brothers have become. Even if the mayor of the city is the figure head, they are still merely one vote at council.

In recent days, Rob Ford has gone out of his way to show that he is not going to be a team player and even solidify his negative image of being  homophobic with or without the booze and drugs. He may scream from the top of the CN tower that he doesn’t hate gays, but his actions are all too clear: sitting during a round of applause for World Pride and being the solo vote against a council motion to support a LGBT youth shelter without providing an explanation.

Don Cherry, once a Ford ally, was quoted as saying as early as November 2013 on Sportsnet 590 The Fan after Ford admitted to smoking crack cocaine, “I just don’t know what to say to that. Yes, I am disappointed. I think as a mayor, if he could just cut out all the rest of the stuff. As a mayor, he’s done a good job, and everybody thinks that.” No word from him since.

It’s time that we as the citizens of the city of Toronto take it back in October, voting Ford out once and for all.

I Want My Canopy Back or Why Trees are Vital to Toronto

cropped-view-over-highpark.jpgOne generation plants the trees under which another takes its ease

(Chinese Proverb)

The terms tree canopy and urban forest has come into the forefront lately, and for good reason. The city of Toronto has undergone a devastating setback with our own tree canopy.

In 2007, Toronto City Council under then mayor David Miller, adopted a plan to significantly expand the city’s tree canopy to between 30-40%. It was one of the more ambitious goals the city had set for itself, but now it looks like it will be an impossible task and here’s why.

A study conducted back in 2008 by Toronto Urban Forestry determined that the city of Toronto had a 20% forest cover representing 10.2 million trees with an estimated structural value of $7 billion. (Source: Every Tree Counts)

Maintaining the existing canopy, that is, saving the trees that we already have is growing more and more difficult. The Emerald Ash Borer (an introduced insect pest) poses a significant threat to Toronto’s tree canopy. The loss of all ash trees in Toronto would reduce overall forest cover in the city from 19.9% to about 18.3%. In 2013-14, a particularly harsh winter followed by an ice storm was thought to have damaged tens of thousands trees or up to 20% of the existing tree canopy. That is well below the North American average, and more than 50% less than David Miller’s target.

It doesn’t help when municipal politicians cannot even agree on how to address the situation. Mayoral candidate John Tory says he would double the city’s tree-planting budget, investing an extra $7 million per year in a campaign to plant 3.8 million more trees (380,000/yr)over the next decade. (note to readers that the math doesn’t add up). Olivia Chow has agreed to commit 1 million trees (200,000/yr). She said that as mayor, she’d pay for the new trees and hire 500 youth over five years by “changing the way polluting businesses pay for the city to treat environmentally harmful discharges in the sewage system.” (Source: The Star)

Just after the December ice storm at the 2014 budget vote, current Mayor Rob Ford suggested cutting the $7-million budget earmarked to plant 97,000 trees. “If you want to go plant trees, knock yourself out. But don’t use taxpayers’ money,” he said to fellow city councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon. In February, on his broadcast on You tube he said, “I do not support planting 97,000 trees at a cost of $7 million. Would you rather have your road paved – more than one, for $7 million – or plant 97,000 new trees? We can’t even take care, as you saw during the storm, of our existing canopy.”

From 2004-2009, an average of 84,000 trees/year were planted through City programs. Forest cover would start to decline if tree planting in Toronto stopped. Loss of tree canopy would range from 8% to 16% over the next 100 years depending on tree mortality rates. (Source: Every Tree Counts)

Toronto’s tree canopy is not only beneficial to the life and vitality of our city, but it also saves us money. Toronto has approximately 20% forest cover representing 10.2 million trees. Toronto’s urban forest provides the equivalent of at least $60 million in ecological services each year. The benefits derived from the urban forest significantly exceed the annual cost of management (Source: Every Tree Counts)

Some of the benefits that we derive from the urban forest are (Source: Faculty of Forestry, U of T):

Improved air quality: Some of the more problematic gaseous pollutants in our cities are: sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide and ozone. While individual trees may remove only small amounts of pollutants from the air, the urban forest as a whole can have a significant mitigating effect on air quality. The trees in Toronto store 1.1 million metric tonnes of carbon annually or the equivalent of annual carbon emissions from 733,000 automobiles.

Energy conservation: Trees provide natural cooling in summer and winter winds can cause substantial energy loss from buildings, but strategically planted trees and shrubs can act as windbreaks to lessen these effects.

Improved Water quality: The high percentage of hard surface in the urban environment reduces the ability of storm water to infiltrate the soil, and thereby increased the level of runoff into storm sewers.

Reduced Noise pollution: Substantial tree buffers (greater than 30 metres wide) along highways and industrial sites can reduce the harmful effects of noise pollution.

Improved Wildlife Habitat: Trees and shrubs along streets, in parks, and in our yards provide crucial nesting and other life functions habitat for resident bird populations, as well as stopovers for migratory birds.

Increased Property value: Evidence from Canada and the United States suggest that residential properties with substantial tree cover may sell for between 5% to 25% more than similar properties without trees. Similarly, homes in well-treed communities tend to sell more quickly.

Improved appearance: A diverse urban forest can break up the hard lines of built structures, reduce glare from hard surfaces, and provide a more pleasing “natural” appearance.

Enhanced Psychological well-being: Research in hospitals has shown that patients in rooms that overlook green space tend to recover more quickly than those with rooms that overlook hard surfaces.

If this is something that interests you and you want to get involved, here are some resources:

Tree Planting: Trees Across Toronto

Tree Planting: Toronto Tree Community

TD Tree Days

How to plant a tree: The Value of Trees

Getting a free tree from the City of Toronto

Ford Nation Failure

Graeme MacKayI would normally consider it a good thing for Toronto to be in the news so much lately. We are, after all, a world class city – even if that is up for debate. But no, the news hasn’t been about our crumbling infrastructure or mass transit plans or waterfront. It’s been about our Mayor, Rob Ford.

Let me be clear, and I’m sure that you know this by the title of my blog. I am no Rob Ford fan. And honestly, it really has nothing to do with his private life or his appearance. It’s about his policies, pure and simple. I don’t agree with them, even long before he became mayor. And yes, he is supposed to speak for the common man. Well, dear readers, despite my political leanings to the left, I am a member of the common man, or the working class. I am certainly no elitist.

But here’s the thing. While I did vote for David Miller as our last mayor, I did not support every policy or issue that he personally supported. In fact, there were times that I was very critical, including his mishandling of the garbage strike, a stinky few weeks in Toronto’s history.

So I ask Ford supporters, why, given all of the new evidence surfacing, including today’s press conference by Bill Blair stating that the police have in possession the allege video tape of Ford smoking crack, do you continue to support him?

I think that a good share of the blame has been placed upon the left-wing, who some believe have gone out of their way to single handedly destroy the man’s reputation or that the media, in all of their mighty power, have also contributed to his decline. What I say to you is this – no one held a gun to his head (that we know of). No one forced him to do any of this. He alone has behaved this way, and he alone should be held accountable.

And many of you, still sticking by his side the same way the Cons continue to support Harper during his current fall from grace, say that this is just a distraction from the real issues and to leave the man well enough alone.

Should someone who works in public life really have all of the same right to privacy as private citizens? Is the Mayor held to a higher standard since they are a representative of the city? No and Yes, in that order.

If there is any distraction from council getting the work done, again this rests squarely on Mayor Ford’s shoulders, and he should step aside and let council get some work done. Instead, he is determined to run once again for Mayor. Well, if he won’t bow out, we’ll just have to vote him out.