Orange Crush

It’s no secret that I have been a supporter of the New Democratic Party for most of my life. I know socialism tends to scare people. I suppose that it scares the greedy the most. But a social democracy is one of the most ideal political ideologies that aligns to my interests. So it makes complete sense that I would support the NDP.

That said, every year, I do reevaluate party policies in comparison with my beliefs. The political compass websites are quite useful. CBC’s Vote Compass is a decent meter. However, I prefer I Side With. It is an extremely comprehensive questionnaire that breaks down social, economic, environmental, health, foreign policy and more issues, and allows you to answer with a simple yes or no, or gives you the option to choose a more specific explanation, including entering your own response. Based on your answers, you are “scored” alongside each political party, demonstrating where you side with each on the issues. It’s interesting to see just how much you agree or disagree with each.

This election year’s issues – some pressing, some frivolous – have placed me where I expected. Still, my Liberal friends always try to convince me that I am in the wrong with my decisions. There has been a lot of talk about strategic voting. Problem is, strategic voting doesn’t always work. Not to mention, strategic voting is based upon polling, which is flawed. In the United States, Gallup will not be running polls for the presidential primaries after misidentifying the winner of the 2012 American election as Mitt Romney. Generally, they may indicate a trend, but we should not trust them completely.

Here’s a health analogy. As a diabetic, I can test my blood glucose levels with blood from my arm or my fingertip. The fingertip tests are much more accurate, so if I think my blood glucose is low, I shouldn’t be testing on my arm. Think of polls as the arm, and the actual vote as the fingertip. We aren’t going to get accurate results until election day; we’ll only see trends, and those trends might not be a good reason to change a vote.

Let me say this; if everyone got off their arses on election day (or the advance poll days prior to the 19th), we wouldn’t need strategic voting. We are still a left leaning nation. Popular vote states this. The fact that at least two-thirds of polls trend people’s allegiance with the NDP, the Liberals or the Greens indicate that we are not the country the Conservatives have forced us to become. This brings me to my first point.

I’m voting for the New Democratic Party because…I believe the Canadian electoral system needs an overhaul. First past the post does not always indicate the will of the majority, and the NDP have vowed to change this. Mixed-member proportional representation means that Canadians will cast two votes: one vote for their local representative, and one vote for the party they wish to form government. The numbers that count would be the national vote percentage, and representation at the national level would be proportional to the votes cast. What does this mean? This means that while Elizabeth May’s Green Party only received one seat in Parliament, despite receiving 3.91% of the popular vote, proportional representation would see the Greens with approximately 12 of the 308 seats. This is a huge difference and so important to ensuring fair representation of our country.

I’m voting for the New Democratic Party because…I believe in a Canada that is inclusive, welcoming and tolerant. You may have noticed, but there have been oodles of overt racist comments and behavior displayed across the country lately. I’m not saying that I appreciate hidden forms of racism any more, but people are being attacked. Full stop. This is not my Canada. We are not perfect, not by any stretch of the imagination. We have a lot to do to make up for the genocide of and continued mistreatment of our First Nations, Inuit and Métis brothers and sisters, but forcing newcomers to our country to conform simply because we are afraid of being “taken over” is bullshit. We are a country of immigrants. I had the good fortune of being born in Canada, but until political borders are rendered null, we cannot shut our doors. Immigration and refugee programs need to be monitored, yes, but we can do better. In fact, we have to do better. People are terrified that we are losing our rights to newcomers, but let’s look at this carefully. We can’t really claim the cause of not taking care of our own is due to newcomers when the current government neglects huge swaths of the population on its own. Our seniors, veterans, First Nations, Inuit, Métis, impoverished and children deserve better. But stop blaming it on the immigrant population.

Tom Mulcair has left the niqab debate in the hands of where it belongs – the courts. And sadly, this has caused a drop in polls for the party’s popularity. Regardless, it proves to me the strength of character of Mr. Mulcair. It was an honourable choice. Canadians are playing right into the hands of the Conservatives. What is more ridiculous is that the Liberals essentially have the same stance as the NDP on this issue, yet have not seen the same effects. But what’s most disappointing is that this is the issue that will choose our next Prime Minister. This is the issue that may win the election. And there are far too many other important issues we should be considering. Issues such as climate change. Education. The answers the families and friends of over 1,200 murdered and missing indigenous women deserve.

I’m voting for the New Democratic Party because…the Harper government has not delivered on the transparency and accountability they promised. Instead, we have seen the following:

  • Election fraud – robocalls, undercover sting operations, spending violations, false stories on opponents, using interns as plants to interrupt other candidate rallies and speeches
  • Media access limits – tight controls on who is allowed to speak to the media as an employee of the Federal government, “media minders” assigned to staff, lack of transparency from election candidates, closed door rallies where no one can ask questions unless they’ve paid the Conservative party for the “privilege” to do so
  • Undemocratic omnibus budget bills – sweeping changes to environmental, taxation, and financial legislation
  • C-51 – the destroyer of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (unfortunately supported by Trudeau’s Liberals)
  • TPP – the Trans-Pacific Partnership as it stands today, has been in negotiations since 2008. Its secret negotiations have been a point of contention for many, causing protests around the world. It will influence the cost of medicine, intellectual property and copyright, threaten the climate and environment, and further extend income inequality. The TPP has much to offer corporations, and little to offer the rest of us.

The NDP have promised to protect the Parliamentary Budget Officer from political interference and Mulcair has stated the “plan will enshrine budget transparency into law.” As with any party outside of the Conservatives, rallies and events are open to the media, and often the public as well. There are no veils of secrecy or walls of construction equipment as we saw in Harper’s most recent visit to Iqaluit. They have committed to repealing Bill C-51 and have announced that an NDP government will not be bound by the TPP. The TPP would have to be ratified in Parliament, but Mulcair’s strong statement convinces me that should he be elected, he will not blindly conform to the negotiated agreement. That’s important.

I’m voting for the New Democratic Party because…I work in protected areas. The Conservative government under Harper has gutted environmental legislation, reduced funding and staffing at Environment Canada, reduced funding for the provinces, and restricted media coverage of climate change through the muzzling of scientists. Fewer watersheds are protected and the environmental assessment process for projects has been all but removed. As the Minister of Environment, Leona Aglukkaq made multiple gaffes on climate change, including her 2013 comment during a CTV interview regarding whether the ice in the Arctic was melting; “there’s always a debate around science and what’s changing.” Where almost every report (including those from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Environment Canada) is in agreement, Minister Aglukkaq can barely even say the words “climate change”.

I’m voting for the New Democratic Party because…when it comes to the voting records of the NDP and the Liberals, the Liberals supported the Conservatives on too many bills and motions I disagree with. The outcome of this election would leave me disappointed if the Liberals were to form government rather than the NDP, but I would not be devastated. That said, I cannot in good conscience, throw my hat in with the Liberal government knowing that they supported items like C-51.

I’m not telling you who to vote for. If you want to vote Conservative, I may not understand it, but it’s your choice. If you want to vote Liberal, that’s also your choice. But if you’re undecided or usually don’t vote, I urge you to reconsider what not voting means. It means that you will be forced to live with the decisions of others. We may still be forced to live with some decisions, but I’d rather say that I fought, than to say that I rolled over and gave up. We’ve gone back and forth between the Conservatives and Liberals for as long as Canada has been a nation, and nothing ever changes. Perhaps it’s time.

I’m voting for the New Democratic Party because…I’m ready for change…

I misread a

I misread a “Be the change” sign yesterday…and I liked what came of it. This is my new Facebook cover photo.

On another note, has it really been two years since I wrote anything? I guess that shows you how important I feel this is.

She’s Got Issues

It’s that time of year again.  Escape from Iqaluit for a vacation in southern Canada.

That means I get to see a lot of people whom I haven’t seen in a long time.  About a year, to be precise.

The last time most of said people saw me, they saw me after I had been losing some weight and trying to get healthy.  And since the last year hasn’t been particularly kind to me, things have changed for this visit.

I can see it in everyone’s expression as they lay eyes upon me for the first time in a year.

Wait…didn’t she…?

Wasn’t she…?

I thought she was smaller….?

And while trying to prevent their faces from screwing up into a weird mesh of disgust and surprise, they manage to let loose a gem like this:  “Suzanne, you look good!”


No, I don’t.

So seriously…just stop.

I have gained back almost all of the weight that I lost last year.

So the subject is eventually broached and people start to wonder why it happened.  For everyone who I haven’t seen yet, here’s the story.  Remember how I broke my wrist back in November?  Well, it certainly threw off my workout schedule.  I didn’t want to go to the gym, because I was afraid to walk anywhere in the city for fear of finding another super patch of ice to fall and break something on.  I fell out of the gym routine and let’s face it…that was a miracle in itself that I actually managed to develop that routine in the first place.  It became difficult to keep up with the healthy eating in the winter:  Iqaluit barely has fresh produce that’s tasty in the summer, so the winter is next to impossible to find the kind of food to keep me happy.

And then…my mental state was not exactly peak either.  After another battle with depression in excess of a year, I started to wonder if I wasn’t actually dealing with a personality disorder.  After doing a lot of reading, I had begun to recognize patterns within myself that suggested I might fit into the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder.  That’s a scary thing to face.  And in Iqaluit, it can be difficult to find proper mental health care, so I because really nervous.

I began to hate myself.  Yeah, yeah…I know.  Who doesn’t hate themselves?  Seriously though.  Hatred.  Full on self loathing.  I’m not the kind of person to feel suicidal.  I don’t get those thoughts usually.  I sometimes consider what life would be like for people around me if I wasn’t around, but that is pretty much the extent of it.  And with the hatred I was feeling, I was to the point where I didn’t even feel like I was worthy of ending it all.  Yup.  That was my hidden life for a pretty long time.

I began to let my eating get reckless.  I ate for comfort.  I ate for boredom.  I ate because I hated myself so much, I just didn’t care.  As a diabetic, it’s not a particularly safe way to go about things.  But I didn’t care.  Some people drink.  Some people turn to drugs.  My path to self-destruction began at the grocery store.

With luck, I managed to find an amazing therapist in Iqaluit thanks to a recommendation from a friend and I have been seeing her since.  She has helped me learn to meditate and accept and recognize that it’s okay if I can’t solve my problems.  It’s okay to feel what I’m feeling.  It’s okay to let myself be myself.  To be honest, it’s been so long since I really understood who I was that it seemed like an insurmountable task to just be me.

But I’m getting there again.  I’m beginning to feel at peace with the woman I’ve become.  I’m getting there mentally.  I’m getting there emotionally.  And one day, I’ll be there physically too.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to be where I want to be in terms of weight.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get rid of that flab that I don’t necessarily feel like looking at.  I’ve never been a small girl.  I’ve always struggled with body image.  I know I’m lucky that I have a supportive partner in that regard.  Ian doesn’t really pressure me one way or another and it’s helpful.  I hope I inspired him last year with what I accomplished, because now I need that same inspiration to get myself back to a healthy lifestyle.

I recognize the amount of work that it’s going to take for me to maintain a healthier body and in being honest with myself, I’m not sure if I have the energy – mental or physical – to spare.  I will certainly try, but I also am trying to accept.  Whatever path I take, I am trying to accept that I am who I am…and that’s okay.

If that’s the only lesson I learn in this journey, at least it’s one of the good ones.

The Shape I’m In

I’ve been trying to write a post for a long time.  Putting pen to paper, figuratively speaking, has become an impossible task for me.

It probably doesn’t help that the topic of the post I’ve been trying to write has been my all-too-fragile mental state.  I find it easy to write anonymously on the internet.  But this wouldn’t have been anonymous.  This would have been akin to an expose, I suppose.  Well, that might be a little melodramatic.  I don’t tend to have a reference point these days for that sort of thing.

The point is that writing in general has been extremely difficult for me lately.  And my writing this now is not necessarily because things have changed; it’s more that someone else has written a really great account of far too many of the things I’ve been going through.  Rather than re-inventing the wheel at this point, I figured I would just link to the post.

Will I eventually write the post I’ve been meaning to write?



I don’t know.

Until then, I think you should go read Allie’s posts on depression.  The first one…and the second.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t have depression.  Chances are, there is someone you know that does.  And that someone is also probably pretty good at hiding that fact.  And if they do open up to you, trust me…they don’t want to hear “Cheer up”, “this too shall pass” or any other contrived bullshit that people tend to come up with when they don’t know how to respond to what’s in front of them.  Not everyone who has depression can point to a singular cause or event that led them to feel the way they do.  Not everyone with depression will ever be able to just snap out of it and feel better.

Anyway, before I end up actually writing a really poorly written version of what I’ve been trying to write, just go and read the posts.

And I’ll just go back to dealing with life the best way I know how to – at least until that shrivelled up piece of corn appears.

A Moment of Clarity

The end of 2012 is finally here.  I haven’t been active on the blog, so many of you aren’t aware of this year’s challenges.  Here’s a summary of the biggies:

  • fractured three toes in February
  • depression’s back in May
  • car problems in July – fun because it was during my vacation /sarcasm
  • ketoacidosis at the end of August, hospitalized for a week – Happy Birthday to me!
  • audited by Canada Revenue Service – apparently I don’t live in the arctic
  • stuck in DC during Hurricane Sandy – not terrible, but did miss my second chance to get to Banff
  • returned to Iqaluit just in time to fall and break my wrist
  • not to mention that I’ve been sick off and on all year

Anyhow, I’m not here to complain.  I’m here to say my goodbyes to 2012.  It’s been swell.  Good riddance; don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Now, most of you know I don’t do resolutions.  But I do want to make a point of discussing my hopes for the year.  I’ve got to get ready for the end of the world year party I’ll be attending in a few hours, so I’ll make it quick.

  1. Writing.  There was a good four-month period last year where most of my free time was consumed with writing.  Most of you haven’t read that stuff, and I’m completely fine with that.  But it kept me sane and it introduced me to some fantastic people in the process.  I want to get back to more writing.  I need to do it.  Some people have said that I’m good at it.  Frankly, I like to do things that I’m good at.  So I hope to feel more inspired to keep it up.
  2. Healthy living.  Before breaking my wrist at the beginning of November, I was eating healthier and exercising more.  From about March until October, I had lost about forty pounds.  That’s pretty amazing for me.  But since the accident, I haven’t been diligent about any of it.  I’d say I’ve fallen off the wagon, but that would require a lot of walking to keep up; getting on the wagon seems more conducive to a lazy lifestyle, doesn’t it?  I’ve all but stopped going to the gym and it’s tough for me to prepare what I’m wanting to eat with this gimpy wrist of mine.  But since my wrist is getting stronger, that’s going to change.  I’ve recently become a board member for Atii Fitness (the gym I’ve been a member of for over a year), and that means I also plan to get back on track with my exercising.  And I plan to continue with that healthy lifestyle.
  3. Travel.  I got a taste of travel this year, and I’d like to do more of it.  I’m a geographer, for crying out loud.  I need to see more of the world.  There are inexpensive ways to do it – I just need to find out what they are.
  4. Balance.  Sometimes I get a little too focused on others.  Sometimes I get a little too focused on myself.  This year, I desire balance.
  5. No broken bones or hospital visits.  Self explanatory.
  6. Oh, and maybe a tattoo.  ;)  But we’ll see.

Thanks for coming back to this blog on the rare occasions where I see fit to grace its presence with a post.  I appreciate hearing from my blends and blikes even if it doesn’t seem like it.  I miss you guys…maybe that writing bug will bring me back here, huh?

Happy New Year everyone.  Let’s hope 2013 is a good year for everyone!

It's a new day!  Sunrise over Kimmirut, Nunavut, October 2012.

It’s a new day! Sunrise over Kimmirut, Nunavut, October 2012.

Think Before You Speak

Indian? Perhaps. Inuit? Maybe. Ignorant? Without a doubt… (Source: Shutterstock c/o Huffington Post)

Okay, so call me late to the party, if you must.  But to be honest, I wasn’t even going to comment on the recent gaffe committed by Justin Bieber regarding his aboriginal heritage.  It didn’t seem worth noting considering…it’s only Justin Bieber.

But then, a couple of things hit me today.

The first was the fact that it’s Justin Bieber.  Harmless?  Not in the least.  This young man’s influence has grown worldwide, and ignorance – no matter how innocent it may appear in an off-the-cuff response – is not bliss.

The second was reading an article in the Winnipeg Free Press by Colleen Simard, Let’s cut the Biebs some slack.  Go ahead…read it.  I’ll wait here.

While Ms. Simard does make some valid points, the fact remains that there is something seriously wrong with an eighteen year old that does not know his heritage, yet feels the need to joke about it.  I mean, that’s like converting to Judaism for the jokes, am I right?  Jerry Seinfeld would agree, I think.

Let me clarify, before anyone jumps down my throat here.  I recognize that some families do not know their full heritage.  At that point, it absolutely makes sense that an eighteen year old would not know much about their background.  However, if one is “part Indian” or “Inuit or something”, it might be prudent for said individual to perhaps do a little digging into their family history to confirm that fact.  Not only that, but last I heard, aboriginal groups didn’t always get along with each other – so which is it?  “Indian” or Inuit?

I suppose I shouldn’t complain – he didn’t use the “E” word to describe Inuit, at least.

Maybe all the “Inuit or something” folks that I’m acquainted with are pleased that Bieber has made an attempt to identify with them – but then, perhaps not.  I think I’d be happier for a better role model.

Simard states that “anyone who believes aboriginal people get a free ride isn’t very educated.”  Might I remind you, Ms. Simard, that many of Justin’s fans are young, impressionable teens?  Younger even, than he is?  And I’m just going to put it out there – I don’t think that the educational system is making it very well-known that aboriginal people aren’t getting a free ride.  There is still a great deal of people who believe this very idea.  I mean, considering the number of Tweets I see on a regular basis where the biggest concern over Nunavut from Canadian students equates to how annoying it is to colour on a map in Geography class, I hardly think his fans are concerned over knowing the truth about the myth of the aboriginal “free ride”.

From what I recall of being eighteen, and forgive me because it was quite some time ago, there were a lot of expectations put on those of us on the cusp of adulthood.  I was in the final years of high school, ready to step out into the world to make something of myself.  In a short time, I would be going off to university, making my own mistakes, my own decisions and my own choices.  Perhaps I didn’t always make the right ones, but I also didn’t have millions of fans around the world hanging on to my every word.  If that were the case, I think I’d have ensured that I did my homework before making statements to major media outlets.

“C’mon, cut the Biebs some slack. He is, after all, just a kid,” insists Simard.

Here’s the thing…he’s not just a kid.  He’s eighteen now – in the eyes of the law, he can be tried as an adult for any crime he might decide to commit.  He can buy lottery tickets (not that he needs to).  He can vote.  I’d say that the “just a kid” excuse won’t fly.  And considering just how worldly he is in comparison to others his age, I’d say the excuse is even less valid.

Hannah Taylor founded the Ladybug Foundation to teach others about the plight of the homeless at the age of eight.  Craig Kielburger founded Free the Children after learning of child labour around the world at the age of twelve.

Just a kid, indeed.

Perhaps this is the reason I can’t stomach ignorance from an eighteen year old – particularly one who has such influence.  Perhaps looking to a pop star to be a role model for intelligence is asking a little too much, but I’d have much more respect for Bieber if he’d own up to his ignorance and set the record straight…not just for the aboriginal groups that he painted with such a wide brush, but for himself.