Thursday, January 22, 2015

Rape Culture

While there is great contest between the government and parents in the province of Ontario over the newly proposed sex education curriculum, in Halifax Nova Scotia, the young man who texted a photo that showed him penetrating a 15 year-old girl while she vomited won’t see any jail time.  He pleaded guilty and received 12 months’ probation to this heinous crime.  The boy in this photo giving a thumbs up sign obviously displayed no respect for the young girl he was abusing.

Additionally, the past months contained a great deal of controversy in the media about  13 male dentistry students at Dalhousie University posting vile comments that degraded their female dentistry peers. Comments about how they were going to “sexually assault women until they’re unconscious”…among other things.

Anne Kingston of MacLeans recently reported comments made by columnist Margaret Wente of the Globe and Mail which I believe to be unrealistic, and very dismissive of the abuse of women that is taking place. 

“Wente acknowledges the students’ comments were “serious” and “cannot be condoned,” then waves them off as “asinine locker room jokes,” a “boys will be boys” comparison….”

Facebook posts “are not rape,” Wente writes, which is true. Nor are they “in the same universe as rape,” she writes, which is false. Rape culture isn’t rape itself, but rather, the ecosystem that allows it to be normalized. Rendering a woman unconscious to have sex with her is a textbook definition of rape, and a sizeable group of men joking about it together suggests a thriving rape culture.” 

Not only do Ms. Wente’s comments minimize what rape culture is in today’s society, her comments diminish the seriousness and general attitude displayed by some men, both minors and young adults, toward women. 

Are we, as a society, so accepting that we all sit back while we wait for others to create change?  I am not seeing enough outrage in both of these situations?

The end results in both Nova Scotia situations sends a clear message.  The lack of consequences attached only lets some young boys know that they can abuse a young girl and get away with it, whether pleading guilty or not.  And grown men in a university setting can target and threaten their female peers who are just supposed to suck it up.

We haven’t progressed at all as a society when it comes to rape culture, and every female young or old should be taking a stand.  Power and control is not acceptable. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Ontario's Ombudsman

Who is actual aware of the role of Ontario’s Ombudsman?  To learn more about what our Ombudsman does, please visit

Greg Levine, a lawyer in London and Southampton recently wrote: 

"It is critical in ombudsmanship never to lose sight of individuals and their concerns.  The "little injustices" are in fact very significant and their resolution speaks to our collective humanity.  Ombudsmen should be at the forefront of such resolutions."

On December 10, 2014 the Ontario Ombudsman’s (Andre Marin) mandate was expanded to allow his office "to investigate complaints about municipalities, universities and school boards for the first time".  While the provisions of this new legislation have not yet been proclaimed in force, it is still very unclear as to exactly what type of school board complaints our Ontario’s Ombudsman will be in a position to investigate. 

The Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act was passed on December 10, 2014.  I have been advised that “the government has yet to set a date for when the Ombudsman’s new jurisdiction will take effect.

I will be keeping a close eye on the Ombudsman’s website for further information.  
Ontario is the last province in Canada to expand the mandate of our Ombudsman to be able to investigate the MUSH (Municipalities, Universities, School Boards, Hospitals) sector.  In fact, the push for this has been taking place since 1975, when the first  Ombudsman for Ontario was appointed.  Hence the term “the push for MUSH”.

It is my hope that families in Ontario will be able to lodge a complaint with our Ombudsman as a result of unresolved student safety issues, which include bullying and cyberbullying.  We will, however, still be in a position to use local complaint mechanisms before contacting the Ombudsman’s office.