Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Everyday Canadians are already paying more to use their cell phone than subscribers in the US and Europe, yet two of Canada’s largest cellular providers are planning to gouge you further.

Starting in August, many ordinary consumers will be charged a fee each time they receive an incoming text message – including spam and unwanted messages. My former plan allowed me to add on $5.00 per month for unlimited text messaging, both incoming and outgoing. But it appears that my $5.00 isn't enough for the cellular providers anymore.

It doesn't matter if you're an NDP'er, a Liberal, Conservative, a Greener, or a Marijuana Party supporter, nobody wants to pay more for text messaging. Help stop the text message cash-grab. Sign the petition now at ndp.ca.

Stop the text message cash-grab

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Happy Belated Birthday, Canada!

I'm a proud Canadian. I love my access to universal healthcare and access to prescriptions that would bankrupt me if I lived in the US. I can still get health insurance even though I have a chronic illness. I may have to wait a little while but I get to see the doctor I want to see, not the doctor my insurance is willing to pay for.

I teach in a university where individual thought, innovative ideas, and critical thinking skills are valued more than just your grades. Where my department nurtures graduate students and encourages us to nurture our own students in turn.

Canada is surrounded on three sides by water, and on the fourth by the longest undefended border in the world (except for the Minutemen and various other militias but we don't really worry about them). And until last year, our border officers manned our border crossings without guns.

I love that my home city is 40 minutes away from a major international tourism destination for the Pacific Rim. Even though I don't ski I love knowing that I can go skiing in the morning and golfing in the afternoon. I also happen to live only 20 minutes from the US Border, making it convenient to visit my friends who live in Seattle (one of my second-favourite cities in the world!)

I live in Surrey, one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada; Vancouver has the largest Chinatown outside of San Francisco; Vancouver is a nuclear-free zone and the home of Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior. I work in the SFU Surrey campus, located in a major shopping centre, making our campus a unique convergence of commerce, business, and education. Sure, it seems weird that I go to school in a mall, but it saves costs for the University on food services (the mall has a huge food court and three other larger restaurants on the property), there is a range of retail outlets both small and large-scale, medical and banking services, and is next to a major transportation hub with Skytrain (similar to a monorail or EL train), bus exchange, and community recreation and other services.

I love sharing Canada's unique characteristics with people in other cities and countries. I look forward to my trip to France next summer, knowing that having the Canadian flag on my jacket and bags means I will be welcomed and accepted as a tourist. I also like that I haven't had to get a passport to travel to the US until this year, and happily it coincides with having to get one to go to France next year.

Canada is also a country with a proud history of our national policing service featuring the famous "RCMP Musical Ride". All you need to see is the maple leaf emblem groomed into the horses' butts to be convinced that those are some cool-as horses.

Canada is also a country of vast dichotomies. Hastings Street in Vancouver is itself both swings of the pendulum. East Hastings is home to the poorest postal code in all of Canada, yet only blocks away is West Hastings, home to some of the most expensive.

I can have dim sum for breakfast, sushi for lunch, butter chicken and naan for dinner, and finish up with perogies of all nationalities and cuisines for a midnight snack. Buddhist temples sit side-by-side with Christian churches, and everyone's Ukranian for "too much starch" night when all the Ukranian church ladies put on the monthly perogy dinner.

Oh... and if you think about it, dumplings are THE most Canadian food ever, they truly resemble the cultural mosaic. Samosas, spanakopita, potstickers (Chinese) or gyoza (Japanese), perogies, piroshki, dumplings, won tons... just like Canadians. Our outer wrappers look very similar, holding the secrets of our culture inside.

But I can't explain why we call it "Kraft Dinner" instead of macaroni and cheese.