I'm temporarily deactivating my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts for a much-needed social media break. I expect to be back on at least some of these platforms late next month. In the meantime, if you're interested in what I'm reading you can see that on Goodreads


After arriving home in Ontario last Friday (June 3rd) I received an email from the federal government Monday morning saying that I’d been randomly selected for Covid testing post-travel (news to me!) and that if they didn’t have my results within the next twenty-four hours they might contact me by phone. I promptly called the government public health number listed in the email. The first thing they asked me was how I’d gotten their number (Huh? You emailed me). After asking where I was calling from they instructed me to contact SwitchHealth to arrange testing. From the email I could see SwitchHealth was the wrong lab but when I read the email message back citing LifeLabs as responsible for Ontario testing the person on the phone insisted SwitchHealth was in charge of Ontario testing.

Let me tell you, SwitchHealth is not currently in charge of Ontario airport testing and only handle testing for Alberta and Atlantic Canada. Apparently, SwitchHealth were previously involved with Ontario testing but that changed at the beginning of June. After contacting LifeLabs (who perform the Ontario testing) LifeLabs informed me it would take 3 or 4 days for the test to arrive via FedEx and that I’d get robo calls from the government in the meantime.

The next day the harassing robo calls threatening $5k fines for non-compliance started with no opportunity to speak to a live person to explain what had happened. Day 6 my test kit arrived via FedEx mid-afternoon. The next available online test was for the following day. I finally had the virtual appointment yesterday (day 7) and the epic ridiculousness didn’t end there. The person who observed my online test instructed me to store it in a cold dark place away from sunlit, preferably a fridge, until FedEx could come pick it up. Supposedly they have to pick the sample up the same day or it’s no longer viable.


I called FedEx directly after my appointment, and they told me (knowing what it was) to leave the package outside my apartment building with a note attached explaining that it was a covid test so no one would steal it and said they’d pick it up anytime before 5. This was at ten AM. I repeated what I’d been told about keeping the package in the fridge and away from sunlight until they arrive and the FedEx employee somewhat wryly said they don’t have any fridges. Not wanting to give them an excuse not to pick the kit up, I did as close to asked as I was comfortable with, leaving the package between the inner and outer doors of my building where a FedEx driver wouldn’t have to endure contact with me to retrieve it. I checked on the package several times and it was still there at 3.30 but gone by 4.35, meaning my sample sat outside the security doors of my building for at least 5.5 hours!

I don’t disagree with Covid-19 testing. In fact, I took two rapid antigen tests (on day 4 and 5) after my dodgy return WestJet flight as there were many unmasked and sniffling people sitting near me on the plane and flight attendants weren’t enforcing federal masking rules. But when the random airport PRC testing that’s supposed to happen on day 1 doesn’t occur until day 7 I fail to see how it’s useful in any way. This entire experience was nothing but aggravation and ineptitude.

Since I’m not an Irish resident I had no vote in Ireland’s 2018 Abortion Referendum but I was in Dublin when the vote to overturn their abortion ban came in, and I rejoiced at the nation’s long overdue decision following far too many years of Irish women and girls being forced to continue with pregnancies they didn’t want or travel to England for abortions. Along with thousands of others, on Saturday May 26th, 2018, I travelled into the Dublin Castle grounds to mark the historic day. 


Speaking from Dublin Castle on May 26th, 2018, Tánaiste, and then taoiseach, Leo Varadkar said it was “a day when we say no more”: “No more to doctors telling their patients that there’s no more can be done for them in their own country, no more lonely journeys across the Irish Sea, no more stigma as the veil of secrecy is lifted and no more isolation as the burden of shame is gone.” 


Even on that day, standing among a gathered Irish crowd, I experienced a surreal feeling of both relieve and creeping dread that as a victory for Irish women’s bodily autonomy rights was won those same rights were being chipped away in the United States of America. And here we are, four years later, a leaked draft opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the top court’s precedent-setting Roe v Wade ruling. 


We must be prepared, everywhere, to continue to fight for a woman's right to choose, again and again and again.


* Read a history of the Eighth Amendment from 1983 to 2018.


* Read my Blog for Choice entry from 2008.


Photos from Dublin, May, 2018

Generation Yes: The Sunday Post
For Our Daughters: Yes. Labour. Repeal the 8th.
Vote Yes, Dublin house sign
Students are ready for YES
Repeal the 8th.

yes for dignity. yes for compassion. yes for health.
Yes button, Dublin Castle grounds, May 26th, 2018
Dublin Castle grounds, May 26th, 2018

 I don’t know understand how this has been allowed to continue for so long but we’re on day SIXTEEN of Ottawa’s occupation. I’m not sure how much people from outside the area understand about what’s going on in the capital. The Ottawa Police force, who has been a disaster from day one of this occupation, say they need more resources to disperse the convoy while the Prime Minister counters, "I don't accept the contention that the city of Ottawa has exhausted its tools and its resources." In this city there’s a general belief, due to the police’s lack of enforcement, that they are in collusion with the occupiers. Whether this is true or not what most certainly is true is that Ottawa residents have been left to stand alone. 


The injunction to stop honking (which had previously been relentless at all times of day) is not longer being heeded by convoy members. The extreme noise is back distressing residents and the convoy’s idling trucks have dropped the city’s air quality into the toilet. A measure of one air pollutant hit a level more than fourteen times higher than the city’s average. We’ve also discovered that a quarter of trucks have kids in them so children of convoy members are also being subjected to a horrendous and potentially damaging level of noise and air pollution.

Counter protest in Ottawa today

There’s been an ongoing campaign of intimidation, harassment and assault waged on city residents, particularly those wearing masks, which has necessitated the financially devastating closure of countless downtown businesses for their employees’ safety. The estimated cost of the closure of the Rideau mall alone is now $40 million. 911 has at times been unreachable as the convoy flood the service with fake calls, leaving actual emergencies to go unanswered. When residents do get through, they are frequently met with paltry excuses instead of help. Many people able to leave their homes have abandoned them for the time being; others don't have anywhere else to retreat to. Response time for ambulances and fire trucks is woeful downtown where parked convoy vehicles block countless streets. It will be surprising if no one dies waiting for emergency services This situation has gone on far too long already and there’s no end in sight. We have no functional police force in Ottawa and have been let down by all levels of government except for a few treasured local politicians, among them Councillors Catherine McKenney and Shawn Menard, and Ottawa Centre MPP Joel Harden.


I’m posting an assortment of tweets from the past forty-eight hours that illustrate what the situation is currently like in Ottawa.

Trump 2024 flag carried by horseback rider in downtown Ottawa occupation.
Trump 2024 flag carried on horseback in Ottawa's occupation.

Things are deteriorating even further in occupied downtown Ottawa. The city councillors and MPPs doing safe community walks downtown three times a day to make people feel more secure announced they had to stop them today because of extremists in the area looking to commit violence.

Here are some links to video footage and photos documenting the local situation. 


The convoy chasing off Ottawa police in downtown Ottawa last night:


A Trump 2024 flag being carried along a downtown Ottawa street by a man on horseback:


CTV news photos from the command centre the convoy has set up at the RCTG baseball field (which is also near the Tremblay LRT stop for the train station):


And this is from a few days ago, a Carleton Professor’s twitter thread with photos showing the extent of the convoy's organization and infrastructure installed downtown:


Yesterday evening I was on an Ottawa townhall Zoom session held by an Ottawa Centre MPP to discuss community safety and support needs. Near the beginning a racist a-hole jumped on the chat and entered a horrible racist message a dozen times while a black resident and activist was speaking. The entire chat feature had to be shut down. During the chat news also emerged of another downtown business that is shutting until at least next week (many of them including the entire Rideau Centre Mall and numerous restaurants have been closed for a week now because of similar issues) due to, "One of our staff was physically assaulted on their way to work today, blocked on the sidewalk by two men and shoved to the ground for wearing a mask."

Finally, on top of the horns the convoy have been honking all through the day and night as psychological torture for residents (you can hear it here https://twitter.com/glen_mcgregor/status/1488905393199890432), last night they added air ride sirens.

There is no sign of this ending yet. The building the convoy erected in Confederation Park (a makeshift kitchen to feed convoy members) across from City Hall on Thursday hasn't even been taken down yet. It's unbelievable. 


The convoy wants a coup d'état, their demands call for the Senate, Governor General, and convoy organizers to take control of our democratically elected government. There is no protest here in Ottawa. It's occupation, extortion, and attempted treason by white supremacists.


Ottawa residents demanding and end to the occupation of Ottawa
Ottawa residents demanding an end to the hostile occupation of their city. 

For the third day in a row Ottawa City is being held hostage by a convoy of white supremacist fascists (and their sympathizers) seeking to oust a democratically elected government. The convoy "accomplishment" list (by https://twitter.com/lrt_and) itemizes some of the abuse. The latest to add to this is confirmation protesters in a truck that was part of the convoy hurled rocks at an ambulance over the weekend. "When the paramedic got out to check for damage, protesters began to yell racial slurs at him, said Jocelyne Marciano, operations commander for the Ottawa Paramedic Service." 

Police are continuing to ask city residents and workers to avoid going downtown. The Rideau mall will remain closed today out of concern for workers as will a downtown school. Many other inner core businesses will also remain closed for the same reason as there have been countless incidents of convoy members threatening retail and restaurant workers. This means a hit to the pocketbook for already challenged businesses. 

I'm including a selection of tweets from Ottawa residents and workers so that everyone can see what the capital has been dealing with. If you want to know more here's an informative thread from an Ottawa teacher: https://twitter.com/Haligowan/status/1487782431570731018. And invaluable info from investigative reporter Justin Ling about the treasonous, racist roots of this convoy https://twitter.com/Justin_Ling/status/1487112260636053509.

If you want to help counter hate and harassment in Canada please consider financial support for the following noble causes, institutions & symbols of which have been abused & attacked by the convoy this weekend: Ottawa shelter Shepherds of Good Hope https://www.sghottawa.com; nationally the Terry Fox Foundation https://terryfox.org/, the Royal Canadian Legion https://www.legion.ca/, and last but not least, independent and nonpartisan nonprofit Canadian Anti-Hate Network https://www.antihate.ca/.
February 5th Update
* Here are some other amazing organizations severely impacted by the occupation of Ottawa who could really use your support: Highjinx (a community hub for vulnerable neighbours); Youth Services Bureau (servicing vulnerable youth in the downtown core); nonprofit Centretown Community Health Centre; Cornerstone Housing for Women; SAEFTY Ottawa, an independent youth group run entirely by and for trans and gender diverse youth.



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