Living, Working, and Wasting Time in Southern Manitoba

Category: Uncategorized (Page 1 of 4)

Presidential Alert? But I’m in Canada!

Yesterday was the second national test of the Alert Ready public alert system in Canada. This time, unlike the last test, both my wife and I received alerts on our phones which are on Telus’ Koodo prepaid network.

There’s a couple things to keep in mind for these tests. They only work with compatible devices on an LTE network. Also, all alerts are sent out at the “Presidential” level so that they cannot be blocked. Many phones will just show ‘Emergency Alert’, but some like mine will show ‘Presidential Alert’ in the header.

Let me expand on that.

The system that has been put in place by Pelmorex Corp (owner’s of the Weather Network) on behalf of the federal and provincial governments is the same one used in the United States. In the USA there are three levels of alerts:

  1. Presidential Alerts – cannot be blocked unless device taken off network
  2. Alerts involving imminent threats to safety of life
    • Extreme threats
    • Severe threats
  3. Amber Alerts

In Canada we use the same system, but alerts are only sent out at the Presidential level**. So, if you had your phone on, it is a LTE capable device compatible with the Wireless Public Alerting system, and you were connected to your provider’s mobile network (not WiFi), you should have received an alert yesterday. Hope that clears things up.

**  I personally think it is a mistake to send all alerts out at a Presidential level.

Amber alerts should be sent out as ‘Amber Alerts’. A couple of months ago an Amber Alert was sent out to all users in Manitoba after midnight. There was no need to wake me up for that. One twitter user called me selfish for saying so, but they misunderstand my point. I consider Amber Alerts as important, and my phone is set to receive that level of alert, but there is no need to wake me up for it. If I am asleep at 1:55 AM, there is exactly a zero percent chance that I am going to come across a missing child. If I am awake at that time and out in the community, I will look at my phone and get the message.

The danger here is that if there are too many Amber Alerts waking people up in the middle of the night, users will start putting their phones in airplane mode when they go to bed, not receiving ANY alerts even when they themselves may be in immediate danger. There are different alert levels for a reason, they should be used.

No, not Chicago! The answer is Winnipeg.

“But… Chicago!”
”Chicago, Chicago, Chicago!”

There is a mass shooting almost every day in the United States of America now.  Every day! It happens so often that we don’t even hear about all of them anymore, just the most egregious  ones. In the last two weeks we’ve had two of those. In one, a crazed individual walked in to a synagogue and started shooting; 11 dead. The other happened in a California bar where 12 patrons are now dead. Even more insane, one of the dead in California was a survivor of a Las Vegas attack that killed 58 people. It is so bad now that if you escape one massacre, you cannot be sure you won’t die in another anyway.

America has a problem. Guns.

Yes, America has other problems, healthcare, mental health, income inequality, an opioid epidemic. Hell, some of these probably help contribute to the mass shooting problem. Here’s the thing. All other Western Style Democracies have these same problems. All of us have an opioid issue of some kind. All of us struggle with healthcare and mental illness. Many of us have an income inequality problem, perhaps to a lesser degree. I’ll even admit that some of us have higher gun crime than we would like. What we do not have is an epidemic of gun violence. Only the United States has that, and only the United States doesn’t employ what most countries would consider “common sense” gun control measures.

Of course, gun control opponents have all sorts of arguments. “Gun control doesn’t work!”, except it does in every country that establishes national standards. “The Second Amendment!”, except nobody interpreted it that way before the seventies. “But a person will just find something else, like a knife!”, except we never hear of mass casualty knifings. (Non-fun fact: The same day of the Sandy Hook massacre in the United States, a man in China walked into a school with a knife and ended up injuring 24 but nobody died). “Chicago! Look at Chicago! It has the toughest gun control yet it is the most dangerous city for guns in the United States!”, except it doesn’t have any effective gun control at all. This is the one that really pisses me off.


When people bring up the Chicago example it scares me in two ways. First, some actually believe that it’s an effective argument, which means they are idiots. Second, the others know it’s a bogus argument, but use it anyway. And it is a bogus argument.

Last time that I checked, Chicago was simply a city in Illinois in the United States, and not a city-state with well defined and enforced borders. Even assuming that Chicago and Illinois have stricter gun laws than nearby states (some have been rescinded), there is nothing to stop people from buying firearms in a nearby state and driving them into Chicago. Chicago isn’t an argument for how gun control doesn’t work, it’s an argument for establishing national gun control laws that a person with a car and a few hours cannot circumvent.

That brings us to Winnipeg.


The capital city of the Canadian province of Manitoba is a good example of how national gun laws can and do work. Winnipeg is a Midwestern North American city with a history very similar to Chicago. So much in fact that it was once known as the “Chicago of the North.” I’ve lived in Winnipeg for two years now and overall I like my new city. I will however admit freely that this city has a violence problem. What we do not have is a gun violence problem. Yes, there are guns in the city, some illegal that are used in crime, but it is not a daily or very common occurrence. Could a mass shooting happen here? Yes it could, but the chances are much lower because we have common sense gun control. To own a gun you need to go through multiple checks and take a safety course. To transport a gun you need to follow strict rules. If you wander through a neighbourhood open-carrying a rifle they are going to arrest you. If you drive to Minnesota and buy a bunch of guns at a show, they are going to confiscate them at the border, and most likely arrest you if you tried to sneak them in. If you are a law abiding citizen you can buy certain classes of firearms as long as you follow the legal requirements. Every Winnipegger that wants a firearm for a legitimate reason has a firearm unless we have found a common sense reason why they should not. It’s not a perfect system, but it works to keep us a lot safer.

So no, not “Chicago, Chicago, Chicago!”

The answer is Winnipeg.

What’s in a Surname?

In preparation of Canada’s 150th birthday this year on July 1, Maclean’s magazine has been surveying Canadians on a variety of subjects. One of those topics is the idea of surnames. More than half of Generation Xers and Millennials believe that married couples should share a last name (Interestingly, LESS than half of Boomers). It made me think about tradition, how it is affected by misogyny, and our personal choices.

First, the choice I made, the choice my spouse made, and the choice we should of made. At the time we got married, I will admit that I was much more conservative than I am today. The raving lunatic liberal was in there, but he hadn’t surfaced yet, so the perceived pressure of tradition and family expectation made me make a choice I now regret. Now, don’t misunderstand me. I do not dislike my family name, it is a perfectly acceptable surname, and I’m not looking to change it. However, I missed an opportunity. My spouse ended up changing her last name to match mine, however she sometimes adds her old last name as a second middle name, such as when she graduated from Brandon University a few years ago. She wanted her birth name to be somewhere on her diploma. Anyway, in the end, we ended up doing the traditional thing. This is where we missed our unique opportunity.

For those that do not know, my last name is Harp. My spouse’s previous last name is Harness. At the time of our marriage, I believe the law applied to females only (which I was going to challenge), but was later changed to what it is now:

Choosing a surname after marriage or entry into a common-law relationship

As a married person or a person living in a common-law relationship, you have a number of options for choosing your surname.

  • You may retain your present surname;
  • You may assume your spouse’s surname or common-law partner’s surname;
  • You may combine your present surname with your spouse’s or common-law partner’s surname, with or without a hyphen (it does not matter which surname you use first); or
  • You may assume your spouse’s or common-law partner’s surname and retain your present surname as a given, middle name.

All options apply equally to men and women.
If you were born in Manitoba, your birth certificate does not change to your married name or common-law partner’s name.
If you are living common-law, it will be necessary to file a declaration with Vital Statistics in order to change your surname. You will be charged a fee to obtain a Certificate of Election of Surname that will provide proof of your new name.

Now, we were going to test the wording of the law (highlighted portion), and combine the names without a hyphen, but not as they thought. Not Harp Harness or Harness Harp, what we had decided would be neat was to actually combine them into one name.


We both regret not doing it. There is a chance we might do it in the future, although at this point age is becoming a factor, and our kids need to be part of the decision. We should have done it before their births. That’s our regret.

The funny thing about the surname tradition in Canada and other English speaking countries is that it is not very good and really shows our misogynistic history. In the last number of years I have taken a few peaks at our family trees. I’m not a genealogist by any measure, but it occurred to me that our “tradition” has been misguided for a long time. Traditionally, females take on their husband’s name at time of marriage and all children end up with that name. It makes tracing the female lines of family trees more difficult.

Here is what I would like to see, and wish that we would have done this after not doing our first idea.

  • At time of marriage, a person takes on their spouse’s last name as a middle name. For example, my last names would be Harness Harp and my spouse would be Harp Harness (unless of course the province okayed Harpness)
  • Each child would take on either parent’s combo. In a more traditional arrangement, males would take on the father’s combo, females the mother’s combo

Think of how much easier genealogy would be if each generation gave clues to the previous generation’s female line. Also, think of how many surnames would still be in use had they not “ended” with no male heirs.

Our current system is a strange misogynistic tradition, and I kind of regret succumbing to the perceived pressure to participate.

A city moves forward (without me!)

Last year I moved with my family from Brandon to Winnipeg so that my spouse could pursue opportunities after receiving her four year Bachelors Degree from Brandon University. Despite our move, I have no intention of changing the domain of this blog. Whether living here in Winnipeg, moving to the coast, or landing somewhere overseas, I will always be a guy from Brandon and therefore from “the 100th Meridian”. Expect commentary on not only Brandon issues, but those things that interest or confuse me about our provincial capital… and of course Manitoba as a whole.

Meanwhile, two of my favourite issues have had movement forward.

The 8th Street bridge is being demolished. I don’t mean plans are made… I mean the damn thing is coming down. Heck, for all I know, it could be completely down by now. CBC reporter Riley Laychuk has been tweeting a couple of pics.

It is great to see it coming down without the city spending as much as (or more than) $30,000,000 to replace it.

*** 06-13 UPDATE*** CKLQ News reporting that bridge demolition will be complete by next week.  (Link)

The other one is a small thing, but a big deal for me. I’ve been going on for around a decade about how Brandon should adopt the phrase “Where the Great Plains Begin” as a tagline in a city branding exercise. Of course, the phrase comes from the song “At the Hundredth Meridian” by the iconic Canadian band The Tragically Hip. This week I saw this tweet, and the author assures me the picture is real.

I’ve seen other pics of the sign saying “100th Meridian”, but James Montgomery finally confirmed to me that it is indeed real. It’s a great start toward what I think could be a great brand.

Guess I’ll be taking some pictures of a couple places next time we visit.

A fitting tribute we could make

It is no secret that this blog is named after the song “At The Hundredth Meridian” by the Tragically Hip and the fact that that line of latitude runs directly through the city of Brandon. In fact, I have stated how the song would be a perfect branding opportunity for the city in a past blog post.

Gord Downie performing in Ottawa (wikimedia)Branding aside, I was taken aback this week when I heard of the terminal cancer diagnosis of the band’s lead singer, Gord Downie. Always the artist and performer, Mr. Downie promised one more Canadian Tour and the dates were announced the next day.

This is Canada’s Band. They never did make a big splash in the States, but that is part of their greatness. They have made a career out of being Canadian superstars and signing about distinctly Canadian topics.

Only the Hip could have a popular song about the wrongful conviction of David Milgaard.

So, never mind using it as a clever tagline (we can always revisit that later), at the very least I think it might be a nice tribute to Gord and the rest of The Hip if the province and the city were to erect signs on the Trans-Canada and 1A Highways where they cross the 100th Meridian, simply stating:

Now crossing the 100th Meridian
”Where the Great Plains Begin” – The Tragically Hip

It would be a fitting tribute to a great Canadian singer and his band.

8th Street Bridge: Going, going… gone

City of Brandon ConsultationThe City of Brandon held its latest consultation meeting on the 8th Street Bridge last night in the atrium at city hall. It was a very informative meeting, with the city’s Manager of Development and Transportation, Coenraad Fourie, going through the options and explaining the pros and cons of each approach.

A number of options were presented for the bridge.

  1. Demolish the bridge without replacement. This is the lowest cost option, yet still turns out to be expensive. You cannot just knock this bridge down, it is over an active rail corridor, so just taking it down will cost just over $2-million. Abandoning it is not an option as it would be a safety issue for both the rail company and the city as the bridge deteriorates further.
  2. Fix the bridge in place. This is initially cheaper that the first option, but the process to get it usable would take 3 years, there is no guarantee that the bridge would not present further problems presently unforeseen, and would only get us five more years out of the bridge. At that point we would be at the point of having to demolish the bridge anyway since both sections would be past their expected end-of-life dates, making this option much more expensive than demolishing the bridge now.
  3. Demolish and replace. This would not take much longer than fixing the bridge, as building a new bridge is much easier than repairing an old one. The problem here is cost and location. By present day standards, the bridge would have to attach to Rosser Avenue on the south side and would extend a distance past Stickney Avenue in order to achieve proper grade. The bridge would have to be higher and much longer, so it’s not just the cost of the bridge, but of the lands that would have to be acquired to build it. Also, within a year or two of its completion, such a bridge becomes redundant to most of the population of Brandon as we will have new twin bridges at both 1st Street and 18th Street.
  4. Demolish and build a pedestrian bridge. This option is cheaper than a traffic bridge and does not necessarily require new land as the approaches to achieve grade do not have to be straight but can be curved up to the proper height. It also has a longer expected life span as it is not subject to all of the same conditions that make a traffic bridge deteriorate. It would last about 75 years. However, it still isn’t cheap as the Transport Canada regulations require it to be built to withstand a train collision, meaning that it would have to be much tougher than your average pedestrian bridge. Price would probably be over $11-million

I personally like option number four. The question is cost versus benefit. If you just look at the numbers it would appear that the current bridge does not get enough foot traffic to warrant such a replacement. From the city’s point of view, I would guess that it would not. So the question becomes, “How much is it worth to Canadian Pacific to keep people from trespassing on their tracks to get from one side to another?”

My feeling? We’re going to be demolishing this bridge. There is no doubt that the current structure is not only past its end-of-life, but dangerously past.  In fact, we should consider ourselves lucky that two heavy vehicles did not pass each other on the bridge in just the right place, as the bridge could have experienced a “catastrophic” failure. The probability of such a failure is still there even if we fix it as there is no guarantee that we can 100% enforce weight limits. From a liability standpoint, we cannot keep the current bridge.

So we have to knock it down regardless. It is done.

Replacing it seems redundant. Once the province finishes the two other spans we will no longer have bottlenecks on those two routes, and my suspicion is that traffic wanting to use 8th Street would be even less. There is also something else to consider; the new bridges that the province is building will be twin bridge structures, meaning that an accident on one of these bridges will not close 18th street as area residents claim, leaving the other span open for emergency vehicles to access. Even with the 8th Street bridge gone, my suspicion is that the area still has some of the best emergency response times in the city. Transport to the hospital is now longer than they are used to, but I would argue that many more places in the city are further away from the hospital than any of these properties in question.

It comes down to this. When asked last night, area residents said that they wanted a new bridge no matter what the cost. Unfortunately, the city has to take cost into account and has to answer to more residents than only those in the area. It is not economically or politically viable to replace the 8th Street Bridge.

We need to take it down, and the sooner the better as the price will only go up. In the meantime we find out if CP Rail will cost share on a pedestrian bridge to help keep people from trespassing on their tracks.

Harper sets trap – Catches self

The Harper Era is over.

Justin Trudeau rode a wave of anti-Harper sentiment, and a desire for change, to getting the keys for his childhood home at 24 Sussex Drive in Ottawa, the Prime Minister’s official residence.

There are, I’m sure, many reasons for Mr. Harper’s defeat, many of them his own; I’m going to focus on one. It happened before he ever go a majority in 2011.

Stephen Harper is a victim of his own short-sightedness. One of the things you need to do when you create legislation is think about the consequences, especially what would be the unforeseen consequences of said legislation. Stephen Harper backed himself into a corner, starting in May of 2006 when he introduced Bill C-16 to amend the Canada Elections Act creating fixed election dates. He then broke that law in 2008. Breaking it again would have probably been looked at very negatively.

With a majority win in 2011, Mr. Harper’s own law meant that the next election would be on October 19, 2015 unless he himself did something to prevent that. He had locked himself in. Unfortunately, that only gave him a two year window before he needed to think about Conservative re-election. Why two years? Because if he decided sometime before the election that he is personally unpopular, he needed enough time to signal his resignation, allow for a new leadership contest, and then allow the new leader enough time to put their own stamp on the government. Such a process was going to take at least a year and a half.

The Conservatives simply ran out of time.

It started becoming apparent about a year ago, maybe a little more, that there were a lot of senior Conservative MPs that were starting to resign from politics or signalling that they would not be running in this year’s election. I heard more than a couple of people refer to it as the rats abandoning the ship. My guess is, internal polling was showing that the party was in deep trouble, the Prime Minister’s leadership being one of the main issues.

But it was too late.

I have a feeling that Stephen Harper didn’t see this coming two years ago, but that it was very apparent 12 months ago. Had he not been limited by his own law, he could have resigned and the new Prime Minister could have waited to call an election in 2016. In an election that was about defeating Stephen Harper, a new Conservative leader may have been able to save a few more seats just by not being Stephen Harper.

Stephen Harper set a trap for future Prime Minister’s, then promptly got caught in it himself.

Future of the Senate

Tom Mulcair is right. The Senate of Canada most likely needs to be eliminated. In Canada, in 2015, it does not make sense to have an appointed body passing or blocking legislation. This Canadian equivalent to the the elitist House of Lords in Great Britain smacks of a bygone era.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting rid of it anytime soon. The Supreme Court ruled last year that without provincial approval, the federal government cannot alter the Canadian Parliament, which includes the Senate, in any substantial way.

That requires opening the Constitution.

Last year I proposed a way that the Prime Minister could push through Senate Reform, basically by bribing the provincial premiers into it by passing the power to appoint Senators to them. It is elegant in a few ways, it gives the provinces more power (which is irresistible), it most likely means elected Senators because premiers would not want to be seen as undemocratic, it removes power from his successors (something Chretien seemed to revel in), and it takes any Senate situations such as the current expense scandal far far away from the Prime Minister.

I still think that this is the most likely way that we would see senate reform; passing the responsibility to the provinces. What Quebec or Ontario premier is going to pass up on the ability to at least have some influence on who represents their province?

That all being said, I would like to see a referendum this fall, just as a number of NDP and Conservative MPs have suggested, that asks the Canadian public directly if they feel that the Senate is still needed in a modern Canada. If the vote was overwhelmingly against keeping the Senate, and I suspect it would be, then the provinces may have no choice but to allow the elimination of the Upper House.


To me, the question seems simple. “Notwithstanding the constitutional amendments required to abolish it, do you feel that the Senate of Canada should continue to exist?”  The reason for the first part of the question would be to eliminate those who would vote to keep the senate because they felt the constitution wouldn’t allow it or that opening it up might prove difficult. The question is about whether or not you want the Upper House to stay, not whether or not you think abolishing it is impossible. Before moving ahead, we need to ask this basic question.

We need to know Canada’s answer.


The main recommendations from Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission came out today. In it were 94 recommendations (pdf) for the various governments of the country to follow.

Skimming through the recommendations, it became apparent to me that many of the sections came under headings that in the Canadian constitution come under provincial jurisdiction, but because of the Indian Act are the responsibility of the federal government when it comes to our country’s First People.

This brings me back to something that I have been saying for years now. If the federal and provincial governments really truly want to meet First Nations people as an equal partner, then First Nations need to be recognized as a “province” by those same governments. I also find it telling that when I look at the map, the three jurisdictions with a higher overall Aboriginal population are also the three that we do not give full provincial powers to, namely the Yukon, Nunavut, and North-West Territories.

One of our early steps as a nation towards reconciliation should be to acknowledge these regions deserve and are owed a full seat at the table. As such, I would propose that we should move toward making the three northern territories into full fledged provinces, as well as the First Nations of the south comprising a 14th “virtual province” which would be true self government and would replace the out-dated, and frankly racist, Indian Act. It seems to me that only then, when the Aboriginal people have their own real self-government, can this country move forward.

I realize that this would require a round of Constitutional amendments, but that is what is required to show real leadership on this front. Opening the Constitution is hard, but that is why we should do it, because it is hard.

The Honourable Justice Murray SinclairAnother thing that occurred to me while watching today’s proceedings, was how many of the recommendations in this report can improve Canadian lives in general, and not just those of Aboriginals.

One case in point, the recommendation that denominational schools be required to not only teach the dogma of their religion, but also would have to teach a course on other religious practices including that of Native Spirituality. I’m assuming that such a course would require teaching of all of the major religious practices in Canada, perhaps meaning a better understanding between these groups.

Another case mentioned by Justice Sinclair  was the importance of media sources, and in general the CBC. With the cutbacks, many northern Canadians are losing access to the CBC unless they have cable or satellite. Often it was their only source of media information. But it is not only the north, it is also other areas of rural Canada also. The city of Brandon is on that list, we no longer have a CBC or SRC broadcast tower in the region since the loss of CKX on channel 5 a number of years ago. That again, not only affected Brandon, but communities such as our neighbour Sioux Valley who no longer have a reliable CBC signal either. This is a  cultural link we need repaired, for rural Canadians coast to coast, native and non-native alike. It reflects who we are as a people, as Canadians, in a way that the commercial broadcasters cannot.

The promise of Canada is of a country where people from everywhere and of every cultural background can live together in peace and prosperity, a promise that is not realized if we cannot even achieve that dream for our earliest inhabitants.

Why are spaghetti straps not reasonable?

A number of weeks ago I did a couple of posts about the niqab debate and what is considered reasonable accommodation in Canada.

What’s Reasonable

Still contemplating what’s reasonable…

Basically, I came to the conclusion that if someone truly wants to wear an article of clothing and are not being coerced into it, then that should be their choice. My issue is whether or not someone is being coerced. I also made the point that it should not just be a right given to those with religious beliefs, but everybody. Basically, if we allow a niqab in a courtroom for religious accommodation, then we need to allow just a plain old hat in that same courtroom. If one person’s head can be covered because their religion says so, then any other person should be allowed to also irrespective of religious belief.

My main issue was with politicians making this about choices when I really felt that it was part of an effort to gain favour with a religious minority. Justin Trudeau especially made a point of it. Again, a quote from his speech that week:

“For me, this is both unconscionable and a real threat to Canadian Liberty. For me, it is basic truth that Prime Ministers of liberal democracies ought not to be in the business of telling women what they can and cannot wear on their head during public ceremonies.”

It seems to me that the quote can be expanded upon a little bit. If Prime Ministers should not be in the business of telling women (or men) what they can wear on their heads, then it seems to me that any governing body should not be able to tell women what they can wear period. Seems like a reasonable assumption, given the facts.

facebook-prom-dressThat brings us to this week.

Lauren Wiggins is a 17 year old student in Moncton, New Brunswick and she was sent home for wearing the full length halter dress that you see at the right. She was told that it was “inappropriate” and a “sexual distraction” and that it was therefore not allowed.

She wasn’t taking it either. After being told by her vice principal that she should wear something different, she penned him a letter which she also posted on Facebook. Apparently the letter went somewhat viral, at least enough for the CBC to notice and do a story on the incident. Ms Wiggins’ letter is no longer available on Facebook, but I will post the contents below:


Dear [Vice Principal] Sturgeon,

I have a concern I would like to bring to your attention. In today’s society, a woman’s body is constantly discriminated against and hypersexualized to the point where we can no longer wear the clothing that we feel comfortable in without the accusation and/or assumption that we are being provocative. This unjust mindset towards women is absolutely absurd. The fact that authority figures, especially males, can tell young women they must cover up their shoulders and their backs because it’s “inappropriate” and “a distraction” is very uncomforting.

Schools are the social building blocks in an adolescent’s life meant to teach them how to communicate and develop relationships with others and also learning about themselves and who they want to be. It’s preached upon us to be individual, to be ourselves. The double standard here is that when we try, we are then told we’re wrong. We may not truly dress, act or speak how we want because authority figures, and I use that term very loosely such as yourself, tell us we can’t. Yes, I understand there are restrictions to how much and how little of your body that shows, but that applies when people show up in their bikinis or bra and panties.

Though I do believe women should legally be allowed to publicly be shirtless considering males are, it’s mindsets like yours that keep that as something that is shamed upon. So no, Mr. Sturgeon, I will not search for something to cover up my back and shoulders because I am not showing them off with the intention to gain positive sexual feedback from the teenage boys in my school. I am especially not showing them to receive any comments, positive or negative, from anybody else besides myself because the only person who can make any sort of judgment on my body and the fabrics I place on it is me.

If you are truly so concerned that a boy in this school will get distracted by my upper back and shoulders then he needs to be sent home and practice self control.

Thank you, have a nice day.


She nails it. She is so right. Why shame her when it is the boys with the problem? And sometimes it isn’t even boys with a problem. Sometimes, nobody is even noticing, except for hyper sensitive school administrators.

Let’s take the current rules in Brandon School Division into account. Policy 7004 was amended back in 2005 to establish dress code rules. That is very recent. In the division policy it is written as follows, highlighting is mine:

Appropriate Clothing

In establishing and providing for respectful, safe and secure school environments, the wearing of appropriate clothing by students is an important factor. Students are expected to wear appropriate clothing in the school at all times during the school day.

  • a) Definition of Appropriate Clothing
    Appropriate clothing is that which is acceptable to the established norms of the school community, staff and school administration. Appropriate clothing is free from: – inappropriate words, phrases and images; being sexually explicit or revealing in nature; – inappropriate accessories that may cause potential harm to self and others.
  • b) Headgear
    Headgear as such, includes hats, toques, bandanas and hoods. Headgear is to be removed when entering the school during the school day. Headgear, to comply with medical or program requirements, may be permitted in designated areas by permission of school administration. Headgear worn in recognized religious observations may be approved through consultation with parents and administration.
  • c) Concealing Clothing and Accessories
    Concealing clothing and accessories includes school bags. Containers, such as backpacks, large bags, gym bags, not required immediately for physical education, must remain in lockers or other designated areas. Policy 7004 Page 8 of 16 Student Conduct P Outerwear such as large, bulky jackets and trench coats will not be worn in the school building during the school day. Outerwear is to be removed and left in student lockers or other designated areas.

The handbook at my children’s school goes on to expand on it like this,

“Clothing such as strapless/spaghetti strap tops, bare midriffs or short skirts/shorts are not appropriate for school”

It is not lost on me that this language is aimed squarely at girls. Really? What kind of message are we sending here? This is a kindergarten to grade eight school, meaning that the bulk of the kids in the school have not even reached puberty yet. If an 8 year old girl wants to wear her favourite clothing to school, who in the hell is sexualizing an eight year old so much that she can’t wear something that shows her shoulders or tummy. She is 8 years old! Anyone sexually distracted by that should be having their head, and maybe their hard drive, examined! When I was that age, way back in the early 1980s, girls wore that stuff all the time. No one cared! Now, in an attempt to be “fair” to teenage girls, we stop prepubescent girls from wearing harmless little outfits, instead of doing the logical thing and letting teenagers wear what they feel comfortable in too! I don’t care if she is 8, 12, or 15; If someone is distracted enough by a choice of clothing, like Lauren Wiggins says, then perhaps they should be sent home to practice self control.

My only question now, when are politicians such as Mr. Trudeau, the defender of clothing choice, going to come to the defence of Lauren Wiggins?

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