Inuit Ettiquette, a PETA faux pas ?

The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, is in the middle of animal rights controversy.  In a gesture that has widely been denounced by urbanites and activists, but warmly applauded by the Nunavut natives the Governer General is undeterred.

The Governer General kneeling by the seal. Photo Courtesy: The Canadian press
The Governer General kneeling by the seal. Photo Courtesy: The Canadian press

Take from that what you will,’ Michaëlle Jean says when asked if her actions were intended to send a message to Europe, where opposition to the seal hunt runs high and a ban on seal products is poised to go into effect.

Inuits from Canada and Greenland are allowed to continue their traditional seal hunts by the EU. However, those exemptions are subject to a number of restrictions.

Bruce Friedrich, PETA’s vice-president for policy, said the Governor-General was giving Canada even more of a “neanderthal image than it already had.”

“The seal hunt is Canada’s shame, and in 10 years, Canadians will be horrified, saddened, and ashamed that their government defended it for so long. The Governor-General will come to understand her disgusting stunt as the most immoral and stupid thing she has ever done in public life,” Mr. Friedrich said.

A spokeswoman for EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas offered no official reaction.

“No comment — it’s too bizarre to acknowledge,” Barbara Helfferich said.

When asked if he would eat a piece of seal heart, Federal Defence Minister Peter MacKay, who said he has eaten seal liver and flippers, replied, “Sure! Absolutely. I’d love to try it.”

In my opinion the Canadian public should give the Governer General some breathing room.  As television cameras followed, she joined the locals on a traditional community feast at the Rankin Inlet, Nunavut and used an Ulu knife to carve the seal. The Inuit Peoples  applauded the gracious gesture and are grateful to the Governer General for this show of solidarity with seal hunters of the Arctic.

The public reactions included comments like ” Can I order Sushi, the Seal kind preferably with freshly carved meat from the heart” and “Coming soon to T&T Supermarket near you”. However, we should support the Queen’s representative in Canada for maintaining her demeanour despite harsh criticism.


Liberals did it again

Liberal leader Gordon Campbell became the first B.C. premier in 26 years to win three consecutive elections with a majority government.

As the economy weighed heavy on the minds of B. C. residents, Mr. Campbell campaigned as the safe bet to steer the province through tough times, arguing NDP Leader Carole James was not up to the job.

The tactic paid off.

The Liberals were projected late last night to take 50 of 85 seats in the B. C. legislature. The NDP will form the Opposition with 35 seats.

There were no Green party candidates elected.

BC-STV was ruled out by a wide margin  as it failed to win 50-per-cent approval, that likely would end the debate in B.C. about changing our voting system. This is the second time STV has been voted down.


STV or not?

Single Transferable Vote ( STV) has been a part of the provincial election debate in BC.

As polls open for BC’s 39th election today STV still is a contentious issue. It has been ridiculed, criticized and even disregarded but history demonstrates it has worked successfully for some governments.

In order to encourage voters and to minimize loss of votes the voters have to list the order of preference for their favoured candidates.

” I am not sure if I want anyone else to take the place of my candidate just because enough people did not vote for him.” says Robin Macahalar of Vancouver.

Machalar admits she does not understand the STV system and admits her boyfriend made jokes about the acronym when she tried to talk to him about it.

British Columbia voters could make Canadian history according to their referendum decision they make on their ballot today.

Voters’ ballots for the provincial election will contain not only the names of the candidates in their riding, but also a crucial referendum question.

Electors will choose 85 MLAs and a new government – but they also will see a question similar to one on their ballots in the May 2005 election.

Their answers will determine the degree of satisfaction with British Columbia’s current first-past-the-post system of electing MLAs – the system used in every other jurisdiction in Canada.

Or will they opt for something new – the STV or single transferable vote method?

In the last election, the question on the ballot read: “Should British Columbia change to the BC-STV electoral system as recommended by the Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform?”

This time, voters will be asked: “Which electoral system should British Columbia use to elect members to the provincial Legislative Assembly?

There will be two choices:

-The existing electoral system (First-Past-the-Post)

-The single transferable vote electoral system (BC-STV) proposed by the Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform

If STV passes it will be used for the next election in May 2013 and voters’ ballots will be much different looking.

For more coverage on the issue:

STV Vote could be last chance for reform

Party Leaders cast their votes in B.C. election


Unemployment Clock: what is the rationale?

On May 06, Parliament Hill in Ottawa  became venue for the Telecommunications Workers Union unveiling of a digital clock that tracks the growing number of unemployed Canadians.

The first stop for the National Unemployment Clock is the TELUS Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the National Gallery of Canada, 380 Sussex Drive, Ottawa on Thursday, May 7, 2009 at 10:30 a.m.

The National Unemployment Clock, which counts the number of job losses in real time, is mounted on a truck and will travel from Ottawa to Vancouver throughout the month-long campaign.

The CBC reported John Carpenter, Vice President of the TWU said the numbers are based on those provided by Statistics Canada.

The numbers were significant. The total from the get go was 1.5 million and counting. The clock updates itself every 40.91 seconds and the numbers were ticking.

With unemployment increasing within fraction of a minute this campaign raises awareness about the Canadian struggle to keep their jobs.

“This clock shows the devastating impact of outsourcing job loss in Canada. The size and scope of the tragedy of this job loss must be understood by the Harper government,” said NDP International Trade Critic, Peter Julian.

“These are good jobs being outsourced. The government must hold corporations responsible and provide strong incentives to keep jobs in Canada.” said Julian.

The campaign’s website,, features an online petition, ways to get involved, contact information for local Members of Parliament, statistics and facts on unemployment in Canada, the ongoing issue
of allowing large corporations to offshore jobs, the campaign travel schedule, as well as an interactive “Track the Truck” map following the road show – using GPS technology.

There is hope that this campaign will make our leaders pay attention to the devestation caused by the economic downturn and help us with our troubles in these traumatic times.

life, Published articles

Italians reclaim heritage in Vancouver

Here is the piece I wrote for The Thunderbird.

Ladies enjoy an evening at Roma Hall playing cards and doing what women do best- chatting !!
Ladies enjoy an evening at Roma Hall playing cards and doing what women do best- chatting !!

It took over a month and countless trips to research this article. I am extremely grateful for the generosity of all the vibrant and amazing people I interviewed for my article.

Thank you very much for talking to me for endless hours and tirelessly posing for the photo gallery. A very special thanks to Rino Bellini, President of Roma Hall in New Westminster and his lovely wife Linda for introducing me to these larger than life characters .

I would have never come across these lovely personalities without your cooperation. Now they remain infinitely chronicled in this piece of writing.

I would also like to acknowledge the participation of Caelan Griffiths, Curator of The Italian Cultural Centre in Vancouver for taking me on an eye opening journey down the historical avenues of Italian immigrants.

I remain eternally thankful to everyone for your graciousness, patience and participation.

Read on:

Photo Gallery:

Environment and Climate Change, life

Livin’ the high life “off-gird”

Rooms inside an off-grid house
Rooms inside an off-grid house

The push for becoming environmentally friendly and responsible has now taken a new turn. Its not just reducing your carbon foot print or disposing your recycling in the appropriately marked bins.

There is more to it than taking three minute showers or using a plant based product as popularized by Jennifer Aniston. Some Canadian households are turning to a completely different lifestyle. They are going “off the grid”.

The EPIC Vancouver, Sustainable Living Expo is to be held from May 08- 10 at the New Vancouver Convention Centre. The three day event features everything “Green”. From Eco-Supermodel Summer Rayne Oakes talking about sustainable style and beauty to Vancouver’s top Green chef’s it is a one stop shop for eco-friendly good samaritans.

Initially the term “off-grid”  brings to mind visions of dark communes and societies that exist on bare essentials without plumbing and eating raw meat, but this is no secret cabal. It is just a human connection and the urge to save our planet’s dwindling resources.

” For a person like me who had never gone camping in the most scenic locations with all the Mopark accessories, the idea of living off the grid seemed outrageous.” said Nathan Barbosa.

Then he got hired as the Business Development Manager for a Vancouver renewable energy company, and that proved to be iconoclastic for his thought processes.

” It was not easy to leave my beautifully equipped penthouse and move to a solar panel equipped house in the suburbs, but it was worth the effort.” Barbosa reminsces.

Now he lives independent of muncipal electricity system without any power lines hooked to his house.  The roof of the house is covered in solar photovoltaic panels and evacuated tubes. These store natural renewable energy in form of batteries for running his appliances around the house.

Solar Panels on an off-grid house.
Solar Panels on an off-grid house.

Given the BC weather it is bad news when there is no sun to store energy in the solar panels, but this is when Barbosa switches to a propane generator, especially in the winters. 

This lifestyle is not cheap. It costs between $40,000- $50,000 for a four kilo-watt hybrid solar and wind system. People seem to be latching on to the idea. 

For those who are not familiar with the concept there are many websites such as and that can entice people into starting to recognize the importance of renewable energy.

” When the adjustment period is over it is a healthy lifestyle.  If my TV stops working, I rely on my iPod to keep me energized ” joked Barbosa.