Screw you Meta and other news that's fit to email

Screw you Meta and other news that's fit to email

Now that Facebook has started blocking access to news stories for Canadian users, I’ve decided to write a weekly summary of articles and topics I think my readers will value. Since it arrives directly in your inbox, it gets around the whole idiotic Meta ban. It doesn’t cost a penny to subscribe, so please feel free to forward to anyone you think might enjoy it. There is also a paid subscription available. The regular cost is $5 a month or $55 a year if you like a bargain. There is also a $150/year subscription level. 

Everyone, paid or not, gets the same content because I believe information needs to be as free as possible, new outlets’ paywalls notwithstanding. Earning income from this work allows me to do more of it. If that’s something you value, please consider becoming a paid member. Thank you.

Since everything seems to be going to shit, I decided to write about Ottawa’s inexcusable dearth of publicly available, clean, safe, accessible bathrooms. It was tough to write about it amusingly without plunging into the bowels of toilet humour, but I did my best. 

Continuing with the summer series for the Ottawa Citizen, a Q&A with Lee Rose, who has the best job at one of Canada’s big banks. Loved his story about directing resources to support Immigrant Women Services Ottawa, which helps women fleeing violence in their countries of origin. 

A few days earlier we ran another Q&A with artist Norman Takeuchi. I especially loved his answer to the question of what he learned from his career that he wishes he knew when he was 20 years old. 

Over on the legal side for National Magazine, I have a piece on ways the government can help regulate the status of undocumented immigrants.

The week in politics

One piece that was surprisingly interesting was about how ambassadors in Ottawa are looking for clues as to what a Conservative foreign policy might be. 

It is not unusual for foreign governments to try to get a sense of how different parties might govern. It’s their job. I certainly hope our embassy staff in various countries engage in that sort of intelligence gathering. What’s interesting in this case is that the Poilievre party is not offering many clues, including on whether they would continue supporting Ukraine, and where they might stand on what should be the global fight against climate change. 

And at a panel in March, deputy leader Melissa Lantsman hinted at broader Tory priorities.

“I want to see a foreign policy that actually is based on a Conservative vision. One of democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law, focused on our own security, and what we can give the world — because we’ve got a lot of it to give, and it’s all in the ground.”

She said during a conference held by the Canada Strong and Free Network that Canada should prioritize exporting oil and gas to help countries lower their use of more polluting fuels that enrich dictatorships.

“We haven’t taken our own energy security seriously, and we haven’t used it as a tool of foreign policy.,” Lantsman said.

Have you seen the new ads? The Conservative Party is trying to improve its leader’s standing with voters who aren’t very white and very male by featuring his wife and young children in a series of ads showing him as a dad. Whether this will work, I don’t know. But it sure is smart for the party to start with that. You can’t win when so many women intensely dislike your leader. 

Hell’s bells, Ontario

The Auditor General reported that the Ford government’s plan to sell off the Greenbelt would allow certain developers to benefit (to the tune of some $8 billion) and that those same certain developers — oh, coincidence — happen to be best buds with some well-placed folks in the Ford government. The odds! 

This is a great piece that lays out what you need to know about this story. It is behind the Toronto Star paywall. You can find much of the same information in this freely available Global piece. 

Developers in Ontario had direct influence over the province’s decision to extract lands from the Greenbelt and received “preferential treatment,” Ontario’s auditor general found in a blistering special report that showed the Ford government began working to remove protected land as soon as it won re-election.

The explosive report from Bonnie Lysyk into the government’s dealings with developers comes after a six-month investigation and interviews with key players in the controversial decision, including Premier Doug Ford, who denied any wrongdoing.

The report, however, makes a definitive link between the Premier’s Office, the housing minister, a central political staffer who drove the project, and developers who benefitted from the deal.

On Thursday morning Doug Ford announced there would be an investigation into his Housing minister’s chief of staff but apparently not involving the minister or — egad — his own personal self even though he said, not 24 hours earlier, that the buck stopped with him. 

Just talk, you know. Or magical physics? Maybe he’s managed to turn the buck into a free radical? That would be in keeping with the week’s best movie of the year, about which more below. 

It is not an exaggeration to say this issue needs police involvement. If it turns out that there is evidence of bribery, charges need to be laid. Conservatives always claim they’re the party of law and order. They should get a taste of it. (And hey, it could be worse.) 

Speaking of things down there, as it were, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the lovely and adorable line of “Grab him by the penal code” merch. Karma, man. You should never mess with her.

I went to the cineplex with my movie buddy and we saw Oppenheimer. Easily the best film of the last five years for the sheer quality of the audiovisual storytelling, the brilliant acting and the extraordinary directing. (For emotions and drama, and also character development, A Man Called Ove was better; I cried like a baby.) Oppenheimer is three hours long and it only started feeling like it was maybe time to end about three minutes before the credits started rolling. 

I was a little bit worried about not being able to imagine Cillian Murphy, who plays Oppenheimer, as anything other than the brutal thug he portrays in Peaky Blinders, which I’ve voraciously binged, but I shouldn’t have worried. The man sure can act. 

The story takes you through the development and use of the bomb, seen through the eyes of one brilliant but socially awkward physicist and socially brilliant but morally bankrupt chair of the atomic energy commission. If Robert Downey Jr. doesn’t get an Oscar for that one, I will have a problem. Do yourself a favour and go see this movie. If you have a 70mm Imax theatre near you, it’s probably worth that. In Ottawa, alas, we don’t have nice things. 

Mother Jones has a solid piece on the forgotten Nagasaki bombing that made me realize there is rather a lot about that second city that I didn’t know about. 

En français 

Un gros bravo au gouvernement Legault pour sa défense des droits reproductifs. Une histoire à suivre. 

Et l’autre histoire à suivre concerne la tentative d’invalider la nomination de la gouverneure générale parce qu’elle ne parlait pas français au moment de sa nomination. Il y a du bon et du niaiseux dans cette affaire. 

In local news

The LRT is sort of partly running. For now. I hesitate to say anything for fear of jinxing it. 

Apparently shoppers are annoyed and disappointed to not have a human being ring up their purchases. I’ve especially noticed this trend at Shoppers recently. They seem to have reorganized everything so you have to go on a hunting mission through lines of self-checkouts to find a cashier. 

For your eye-rolling pleasure I present the Chief William Commanda Bridge finally opening with great success… as long as you don’t try to exit it on the Quebec side. Somehow the people who designed it did not stop (har) to consider what would happen when hordes of cyclists and pedestrians and runners and strollers would meet at a t-junction barely equipped with a stop sign. 

But the best, and by that I mean the worst, was the apparent dogged determination on the part of the mayor to bring back the QED thing to the forefront. He filmed himself Marksplaning why we need to let cars on it saying that during the entire two and a half minute he’d been standing there he hadn’t seen any cyclist or pedestrian. This didn’t goas well as he hoped.