"The Pulse of Canada "


Allan's Perspective


Posted December 17, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Dear Readers: This might not be of interest to anyone not of a certain age and from Toronto, but since I practically grew up on this street it held a lot of memories for me! Posted by Chris Bateman / December 17, 2014 No neighbourhood in Toronto has undergone a more seismic aesthetic and ideological […]

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This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Legalize tent cities.

Posted January 19, 2015 by Laila

As my regular readers know, I have a real issue with the way homelessness is dealt with in many cities. Instead of doing what needs to be done to alleviate the issues related to homelessness, it seems we are getting … Continue reading

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What You Need To Know About Facials Vs. Peels

Posted November 20, 2014 by Sonya

I’ve been to spas before and have spent anywhere from $80 to $250 on a facial. Some were straight forward maintenance type of facials—you know, with extractions and that steaming machine that opens up your pores? To the extreme, I’ve […]

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Allan's Perspective

Verily, I say!

Posted October 10, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Folks, your sometimes naive reporter just had a revelation of sorts. OF COURSE the bible thumpers believe the world was created 6000 years ago ………….., and evolution is a myth. After all, they also believe that Jesus spoke in 16th century English! (Verily) ———————————————- Workers at a New Jersey treatment plant say they saw a […]

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Manitoba Autism Crisis Demonstrates Need For A REAL Canadian National Autism Strategy

Posted January 15, 2015 by H L Doherty

Canada, despite a private members motion championed by the late Fredericton MP Andy Scott and Nova Scotia MP Peter Stoffer which called for one, does not have a REAL National Autism Strategy.  The failure to enact a REAL National Autism Strategy means that in some provinces very few autistic children receive intensive early ABA intervention.
The  private member’s bill, Bill C-304, introduced by former PEI MP Shawn Murphy, set out below was crushed by the Harper Conservatives and Quebecois MPs.   Had Bill C-304 passed 9 years ago many,  many more autistic Canadian children would have received early ABA intervention and made the substantial cognitive, linguistic and behavioral gains reported decades ago by Dr. Ivaar Lovaas and confirmed by studies and reviews since.

 Manitoba’s Wait List Autism Crisis

One example of the checkerboard pattern of ABA service for autistic children in Canada is Manitoba as reported in the CBC article Autistic children’s families frustrated by therapy wait-list:

“Some Manitoba families with autistic children say they might get turned away from a highly sought-after therapy program because they have been on a waiting list for so long, their children may end up being too old to qualify. Families that want access to applied behaviour analysis (ABA) therapy for their children must wait roughly 1½ years on a list. The program is available only to children under the age of five. With the waiting list so long, some children may end up being too old to qualify for ABA, meaning they would be turned away this September.
“I just can’t imagine where kids are going to wind up without having ABA,” said Guy Mercier, president of Manitoba Families for Effective Autism Treatment. “Without ABA in my son’s life, he wouldn’t be where he is.”
The ABA program gives children three years of intensive therapy, teaching them social skills and life skills before they enter kindergarten. It also provides support for five years while they are in school.
Samantha Bawtinheimer said she placed her 2½-year-old son, Noah, on the waiting list for ABA soon after he was diagnosed with autism last September.
Bawtinheimer said she is frustrated by how long it will take for Noah to get into the program. “You’re supposed to be there to protect them. You’re supposed to be there to help him. I can only do so much,” she said. “I’ve done my research. I can’t do it all. I still have to work, I have to provide for him. I can’t do it all. I need their help.”
The Manitoba situation proves the need for a real national autism strategy. 

History of the Struggle for A REAL National Autism Strategy

The struggle for a REAL National Autism Strategy is summarized following from a commentary on this site on March 29, 2014:

In The Courts Autons (BC) and Wynberg/Deskin (ONT)
Canadian parents fought initially , and ultimately unsuccessfully, through the courts in BC (Auton) and Ontario (Wynberg/Deskin) for autism treatment coverage under medicare and autism services before commencing their more overtly political efforts, including the Medicare for Autism NOW! campaign.

History of the Struggle for a REAL National Autism Strategy in the Maritimes

Andy Scott Fredericton NB MP,  Peter Stoffer NS MP, Shawn Murphy PEI MP,  Senator Jim Munson NB

Here in the Maritime provinces we took a political approach to developing a national autism strategy with the NB efforts in  which I was personally involved beginning  in 2001, primarily by many discussions with our Fredericton MP, the late Andy Scott.  In 2003  Andy Scott, made a public commitment in 2003 to work toward a National Autism Strategy at a tribute to his 10 years of service as an MP at the Boyce Famers’ Market, an event I attended and reported on to the members of the Family Autism Centre for Education (FACE):

“October 19 2003

Hello everyone:

Some good news for those interested in autism issues emerged last night  at the Boyce Farmers’ Market in Fredericton New Brunswick as Frederictonian’s gathered to pay tribute to MP Andy Scott’s  10 years of service as an MP on behalf of Frederictonians and as an advocate for human rights, services for the disabled, and cultural harmony. Andy announced that he would be meeting with Paul Martin in the hopes of pursuing a national Autism strategy. Although health care is primarily within provincial juridiction some health issues, such as breast cancer, HIV, etc. have been approached on a national level because of the magnitude of the issues involved.  While we have all heard political promises in the past,  Andy Scott has a proven track record of commitment to, and follow through on, disabilities and human rights issues.  Great news.

Harold Doherty
Family Autism Centre for Education (FACE)”

Andy’s comments at the Boyce Farmers’ Market were also featured in a 2003 Telegraph Journal article by Tali Folkins:

“Fredericton MP Andy Scott said Saturday he has been lobbying prime- minister-to-be Paul Martin for a federal program to help young children with autism. “I desperately want a national autism strategy – and let me just assure you that Paul Martin knows it,” Mr. Scott told supporters at a party celebrating his 10th anniversary as an MP in Fredericton Saturday evening.

Early work by therapists with young autistic children, Mr. Scott said, can make a big difference in their capacity to lead fulfilling lives as adults – and can save money in the long run. But the costs of starting such early intervention programs are high and should be borne directly by Ottawa rather than each individual province, he said. “We have responses and therapies and so on that I genuinely believe can work,” he said. “You’re going to save millions of dollars over the lifetime of an autistic adult. If you can get in at the front end, you can make enormous progress.

“But it’s very expensive, and there’s not a lot of stuff being added to Medicare, generally – that’s why we have catastrophic drug problems and other things,” he said. “In the province of New Brunswick, P.E.I., or even Quebec or Ontario it’s very, very expensive. The feds are going to have to step up to the plate.” 

Andy did answer the call on behalf of autistic Canadians and  actively pushed for a National Autism Strategy which he ultimately realized with the passage of Motion M-172.  However, the motion was essentially a commitment in principle with few obligations being undertaken by our federal government but it did help put autism on our national agenda and it was Andy Scott being Andy … getting done what could get done … with a view to moving forward further in future.  One of the specific items that the federal government did commit to in the motion was a national surveillance program, a program that would tell us how many Canadians now suffer from autism disorders.  It is a commitment that has still not been honored 8 years later. 

Andy Scott himself did continue the fight   as demonstrated in his June 5, 2007 statement in the House of Commons:


[Table of Contents]

Hon. Andy Scott (Fredericton, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, it is regrettable that we have seen little action by the government toward implementing a national autism strategy.

It has been more than a year since I introduced Motion No. 172. My private member’s motion called for evidence based standards, innovative funding arrangements for diagnosis, treatment and research, and a national surveillance program.

The motion was adopted in good faith and supported by the government. However, it was very disappointing to see no reference to a national autism strategy in the recent budget or any discussion this spring.

Recently, I joined my colleagues from Charlottetown and Sackville—Eastern Shore and Senator Munson at a rally in Halifax that reinforced that there are families with autistic children across Canada who need the government’s help.

The Conservatives should move off their default position of jurisdictional excuses, show creativity and compassion and start helping these Canadians.”

Jean Lewis, FEAT-BC, Medicare for Autism Now!

NB MP Andy Scott, FEAT-BC, Medicare for Autism NOW!’s Jean Lewis
National Autism Rally, Halifax, May 26 2007
Andy Scott’s reference to his colleagues from Charlottetown and Sackville-Eastern Shore were  references to PEI’s Shawn Murphy and Nova Scotia’s Peter Stoffer both of whom, along with Andy Scott and Senator Jim Munson, also worked tirelessly toward achieving a National Autism Strategy.  The rally of which he spoke was a Halifax rally organized by Jean Lewis and FEAT-BC who had been raising autism awareness, lobbying politically and fighting for national autism coverage in the Courts for several years and continued to do so with its “Medicare for Autism NOW!” efforts.  I attended the FEAT autism really in Halifax and had the privilege of meeting Jean Lewis, several of the BC advocates and tireless Nova Scotia autism advocate Jim Young.  Under the BC leadership there have been subsequent national meetings in Oakville and Toronto.

NS MP Shawn Murphy, Senator Jim Munson, NB MP Andy Scott 
National Autism Rally, Halifax, May 26 2007

Nova Scotia MP Peter Stoffer,  National Autism Rally, 
Halifax, May 26 2007
In 2006 Shawn Murphy went on to introduce his own private member’s bill, Bill C-304,  in the House of Commons which, if passed, would have put Canada well on the way to establishing a REAL National Autism Strategy:

First Session, Thirty-ninth Parliament,
55 Elizabeth II, 2006


BILL C-304

MR. MURPHY (Charlottetown)

1st Session, 39th Parliament,
55 Elizabeth II, 2006


BILL C-304

An Act to provide for the development of a
national strategy for the treatment of
autism and to amend the Canada Health

Her Majesty, by and with the advice and
consent of the Senate and House of Commons
of Canada, enacts as follows:


1. This Act may be cited as the National
Strategy for the Treatment of Autism Act.


2. The Minister of Health shall, before
December 31, 2006, convene a conference of
all provincial and territorial ministers responsible
for health for the purpose of working
together to develop a national strategy for the
treatment of autism. The Minister shall, before
December 31, 2007, table a report in both
Houses of Parliament specifying a plan of action
developed in collaboration with the provincial
and territorial ministers for the purpose of
implementing that strategy.


3. Section 2 of the Canada Health Act is
renumbered as subsection 2(1) and is
amended by adding the following:

(2) For the purposes of this Act, services
that are medically necessary or required under
this Act include Applied Behavioural Analysis
(ABA) and Intensive Behavioural Intervention
(IBI) for persons suffering from Autism Spectrum

Bill C-304 was defeated soundly by a coalition of Harper Conservatives and separatist Blog Quebecois votes in the House of Commons. During debates in the House of Commons Harper conservative MP Mike Lake from Alberta, the autism face of the Harper government, a father of an autistic son, fought against the Murphy bill and helped vote it down to defeat.  

The hard truth is that there will never be a real National Autism Strategy as long as the Harper government rules in Ottawa.  Nor will a REAL NAS emerge from national autism charities that were never part of the struggle for a national autism strategy to begin with and who do not acknowledge the efforts made by parents across Canada who fought hard and long for a National Autism Strategy. National charities dare not speak contrary to federal government policy for fear of risking their charitable status. 

A real National Autism Strategy, even a real, current estimate of the number of Canadians who suffer from autism disorders will not come into existence until the Harper government is retired from office and will only come into existence with parent driven initiatives for whom helping their autistic sons and daughters is their most important objective.   Until then we will have to accept US figures for autism prevalence.  Accordingly, let it be known:

1 in 68 Canadians has an autism spectrum disorder. (Many of whom still do not receive effective ABA early intervention)
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Fun Stuff For Families At The Canadian International AutoShow

Posted February 13, 2015 by Sonya

This weekend, the Canadian International AutoShow (CIAS) is in Toronto. And while it might not seem like your first pick for a family outing, it’s actually a great place to spend some time with the kids. The spectacular show runs from February […]

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Don’t kill the awesome.

Posted March 25, 2015 by raymi

Hey gang, planet Raymes here on this very wet Wedneday so lets blog through the rain pain, that’s what we do boo. Just get on the bus, Gus and lets see what Raymbo Brite has in store for you. For instance, the best song by Broods captured on great quality video for you, posterity, and […]

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Reader’s Diary #1119- Todd McFarlane: Spawn, Origins Collection Vol. 1

Posted February 12, 2015 by John Mutford

On my quest to becoming an expert in Canadian comics (trust me, I’ve got a LONG way to go), I’d better start knocking some of the heavy hitters off the list. Originally from Calgary, Todd McFarlane, is known for a lot of successful ventures, though he …

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Watch This: Canadian Tire Bring Holiday Cheer To Children’s Hospitals

Posted December 10, 2014 by Sonya

December always warms my heart. Ever since I was little, Christmas has been something to look forward to. Family traditions of gingerbread houses, decorating trees and wondering what to leave out for Santa are always a must. But seeing all […]

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Reader’s Diary #1132: Susan Hughes (writer), Willow Dawson (illustrations): No Girls Allowed

Posted March 18, 2015 by John Mutford

I had high hopes for No Girls Allowed, mostly because of its subtitle: Tales of Daring Women Dressed as Men for Love, Freedom and Adventure. Important message + love + adventure? I’m in!Unfortunately, I was underwhelmed. Susan Hughes’ stories of seven …

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BOOM! A Generation of Influence

Posted January 27, 2015 by Sonya

Why should we take a look at the past? Well, it helps us understand where we are today. Most of us weren’t even born in the “baby boomer” generation but we certainly are aware of it, hopefully? For me, it’s […]

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Allan's Perspective

Saturday Morning Confusion About Privacy #76

Posted November 8, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Facial recognition technology is used to screen people at the Statue of Liberty in New York. The U.S. government pumped millions of dollars into the development of facial recognition technology after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. (Chip East/Reuters) Dear Readers: If anybody is still confused about how much the government is prying into your private […]

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Allan's Perspective

Black-ish is the new black

Posted September 24, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Well, well, boys and girls, time to get serious for a change. North American blacks are leading a truly schizophrenic existence, and I don’t think it’s doing them any good! The reason I mention this is because there is a new TV show premiering tonight called “Black-ish” and it throws a light on some very […]

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Allan's Perspective

Stop monkeying around!

Posted December 19, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Here’s something that will make Pam Anderson and her buddies a whole lot happier, folks! Animal-rights advocates seeking “personhood” for chimpanzees want to take their case to the highest court in New York State. Since 2013, an organization called the Nonhuman Rights Project has been seeking a writ of habeas corpus to free a pet […]

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Come to Fireworks Factory

Posted March 14, 2013 by Darren

In recent years, Web of Change has been the most important event I attend each year. It’s a gathering of really senior people in the social…

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The ROM’s Wildlife Photography Exhibit Is A Must-See

Posted November 26, 2014 by Sonya

The world-renowned Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition (WPY) opens at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto this weekend, featuring 100 breathtaking images on tour from the Natural History Museum in London. Making its Canadian debut, the exhibition includes […]

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Good for Grapes – Skipping Stone (VIDEO)

Posted October 18, 2014 by Jes

I really like this song. If you can ignore the fact that the principle actors in this video are children – it’s quite good.XOXOJes…

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So Many Things Left

Posted January 16, 2015 by The Pedgehog

Still here, still angry. Still too cynical to tell y’all my in depth feelings about recent developments. I am currently reading Olivia Chow’s memoirs and the message I am taking away is the same that permeated Jack Layton’s last letter – hope is better…

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Heart Of Robin Hood Is Action-Packed Fun!

Posted January 19, 2015 by Sonya

Everything about the classic tale of  Robin Hood is turned upside-down in the new exhilirating theatre production, Heart of Robin Hood, now on stage at the Royal Alexandra Theatre (Toronto) until March 1st. Yes, Robin Hood (Gabriel Ebert) and his […]

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Arctic Apple Takes a Bite Out of Pseudo-Science

Posted March 20, 2015 by Anonymous

After years of research and extensive field testing, the Okanagan’s own GMO apple is going to the big leagues. Genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) are routinely attacked by urban organic activists in spite of the fact that not a single ailment has ever been linked to this technology. And now, as a testament to the baselessness of such attacks, […]

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March Break Guide To Calgary & Edmonton

Posted March 5, 2015 by Anonymous

Both Calgary and Edmonton offer a wide-array of family activities throughout the March Break to keep children of all ages busy and happy. Here are some things to do during the break. Calgary Disney On Ice: Princesses & Heroes Disney […]

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Best New Christmas Songs of 2014 (VIDEOS)

Posted December 12, 2014 by Jes

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The middle of December, when you are still in the Christmas spirit and not yet wanting to off yourself due to the never ending Christmas carols.I mean, I don’t know how one could ever get sick of Mariah Carey’s…

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What the York University Strike Has Taught me About Self-Care For Caring Professionals

Posted March 12, 2015 by Anonymous

Self-care is a great feminist idea, but like Virginia Woolf’s endorsement theory that every woman should have a room of one’s own, it’s also an idea that’s easier to embrace if you’re privileged. Many people do not have the time or the money to go to the spa or to the movies or even to get […]

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Ariana Grande’s Energy On Stage IS Explosive!

Posted March 13, 2015 by Sonya

I’m a fan of any live stage performance so when I had heard that pop and television sensation Ariana Grande was planning a stop in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre, my ears perked up. To fill the ACC is […]

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Allan's Perspective

Blowin in the wind!

Posted November 7, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Well folks, it’s official, wind turbines do NOT cause illness, or even ill effects, in people. A year long study of over 1000 people has positively shown that wind turbines do not cause bad things to good people. Not through noise, or magnetic fields, or increased UFO traffic, or disruption of the O-zone, negative energy, […]

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Break the Cycle: You+Me’s second single is a winner (VIDEO)

Posted September 24, 2014 by Jes

I will admit, a few weeks ago when P!nk and Canadian singer Dallas Green released their first single I was a little ho-hum about it. The single, not the concept of P!nk and Dallas Green forming a folk duo called You+Me – cause that’s awesome. Their sec…

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Hilary Grist and a traveling salesman Come and Go (VIDEO)

Posted April 1, 2015 by Jes

Vancouver songwriter Hilary Grist just released a music video for her song Come and Go. The song is beautiful, but the video is about a traveling salesman…also known as the job I will be doing in hell when I finally arrive. Seriously – worst ever.I w…

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Salmon spawn in East Vancouver?

Posted November 12, 2013 by Darren

The other day–I can’t recall where–I read a story about salmon spawning in East Vancouver. It turns out that they spawn in Still Creek, near the…

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Tested: RealFoodToronto.com Delivers Real Food, Fast

Posted January 8, 2015 by Sonya

There’s a real food movement that’s taken hold and I’m okay with it.  What does that mean? Well, we all lead busy lives and we’re constantly searching for ways to feed our families the best we can. We’re hearing much […]

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Shoe Addicts Say Hello To Tanya Heath

Posted October 17, 2014 by Sonya

I am a collector of shoes… yes, that’s what I’m calling myself. A collector. Addict is probably more like it but I prefer collector. I know many of you are as well. I mean, come on, shoes are a necessity. […]

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Keeping the Pressure On

Posted March 17, 2014 by The Pedgehog

A bold group of students from Saint Thomas University in Fredericton have created an online petition that is getting some attention. The aim is to ask/force/demand the government of New Brunswick to pay for abortions performed at the Fredericton Morgentaler Clinic, and runs thusly:

For more than 25 years, the New Brunswick government has been enforcing a regulation that allows Medicare coverage for abortions only to be done at hospitals (in Moncton),by an Ob/Gyn, and approved by two doctors in writing as “medically required”. This violates the Morgentaler Supreme Court decision of 1988, which ruled that restrictions like these are unconstitutional because they violate women’s rights. The regulation also violates the Canada Health Act, which Health Canada has said mandates full funding of abortions at both clinics and hospitals. Over 60% of NB women needing abortions are forced to pay out of pocket for abortion care at the Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton, because hospital access is inadequate. The cost for the procedure at this clinic ranges from $700-$850 for women that are up to 16 weeks in their pregnancies. This discriminates against women, especially those of lower socio-economic status. 

Women who are considering an abortion should not have to worry about covering the costs of the procedure. 

Lets inform our apathetic government that they need to make women’s reproductive rights a priority! 

*Also, for those who are wondering about their tax paying dollars, this procedure would cost approximately $2.21 per annum.   

We call upon the New Brunswick government to fully fund abortions at the Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton, and repeal the provincial law restricting abortion payment (Regulation 84-20, Schedule 2 (a.1), of the Medical Services Payment Act).

Now I feel like I have articulated my position on petitions before, but I feel like, hey, it costs you nothing to sign this – it will take maybe 30 seconds of your time – and it does show that there is a demand for this, and that we are not going away.

Click here to sign the petition.

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Coping In “The Waiting Room” With Diane Flacks

Posted January 19, 2015 by Sonya

There’s a new theatre production that has caught my attention as a parent and theatre lover. WAITING ROOM by Diane Flacks (in collaboration with director Richard Greenblatt) is making its World Premiere at the Tarragon Theatre  in Toronto (January 14 […]

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19 Year Old Non Verbal Autistic Man Evicted From Miramichi Special Care Home Because He Is An Adult

Posted February 26, 2015 by H L Doherty

Huge gaps remain n New Brunswick’s adult autism residential care and treatment system. An autism specific residential care and treatment centre and autism specific group home system is needed to bridge those gaps. 


Minister of Social Development
Minister of Health
MLA Miramichi 
MLA Fredericton North
As an autism advocate for over 15 years in New Brunswick (and father of a 19 year old severely autistic son) I was saddened, though not at all surprised, to read the report by Samantha Magee of the  Miramichi Leader of a 19-year-old, non verbal autistic man whose family was informed by Social Development on Feb 9 that he would not be able to remain in his special care accommodations in Miramichi: after February although he has been given a reprieve until March 31. The Leader reported that his transition to adulthood was the reason for the forced departure:
“Bob Daley, residential services manager for M.O.R.E. Services Inc., said in an emailed statement to the Miramichi Leader that the issue is related to Brandon’s age and funding.
“For a number of years, M.O.R.E. Services has been providing a children’s service in the upstairs apartment of the home in question. When a resident reaches the age of 19, they are no longer considered a child and therefore receive services through adult programs,” he said.”
I have been involved with public autism advocacy in New Brunswick and Canada  for over 15 years.   I know that there have been several high profile incidents of youths and young men being sent to the Spurwink facility in Maine at considerable public expense because autism specific treatment and residential accommodation including drops off between the ages of 15 (Stan Cassidy Autism Centre) and 19. 
Concerns over the lack of adult autism treatment and care facilities have been presented to successive governments for over a decade.  A proposal by distinguished autism expert, clinical psychologist and UNB professor emeritus (psychology) Paul MdConnell Ph.D. was made public in 2010 on the CBC web site.  The proposal for a Fredericton based autism residential treatment and care facility (near the UNB-CEL Autism staff and the Stan Cassidy Autism Centre also included autism specific group homes with autism trained staff and oversight from the Fredericton centre.
New Brunswick has been a Canadian and North American leader ( as recognized by the Association for Science in Autism Treatment) in establishing early intervention services. We have also made advances in autism trained education aides and resource teachers.  There is no reason in principle that we could not have extended the expertise we have developed to the adult care and treatment level as described by Professor McDonnell (CBC, 2010) and provided both a centre for those with severe autism needing permanent care, treatment and oversight and autism specific group homes in Miramichi and around the province to keep as many autistic people as possible close to home, family and community.
Cost has not been the primary obstacle in the refusal to develop an autism centre and network of autism specific group homes.  Costs of sending each person to Spurwink have been estimated at approximately $300,000 per year and would be saved with the development of the NB based adult care network.  Jobs would also be created in the center and group homes for the trained staff.
As a father of a now 19 year old severely autistic adult son I genuinely empathize with the Miramichi adult and his family and I can provide no reasonable explanation as a long time public autism advocate as  to why NB with its proven ability to develop a well recognized early autism intervention program, and its extension of that program to train our school teachers and aides can not organize a centre based network with autism specific group homes around the province.  Had that been done years ago the current situation in Miramichi would probably not have arisen.
Please take this letter seriously, as a call to action to develop the autism centre and group home network proposed by Professor Emeritus Paul McDonnell in 2010.
Please act to provide residential care and treatment for NB’s severely challenged autistic adults before more time is needlessly wasted.
Harold L Doherty
Fredericton North
New Brunswick
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Theatre Review: Vertigo Theatre’s The Haunting

Posted March 22, 2015 by Jes

I don’t like scary movies. Never have. I can’t even watch a horror movie trailer without covering my eyes and hyperventilating. Something about an over active imagination and never being able to be alone in the dark if I see them. So, I’m not really su…

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What Did We Google The Most In 2014?

Posted December 29, 2014 by Sonya

Google is very much part of our daily lives. Both a noun and a verb, it’s a way to launch our research into everyday inquiries from how to make those perfect cookies to helping our kids with their homework. It’s […]

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Faith In Humanity—Restored

Posted February 5, 2015 by Kath

How often do you browse through social media accounts, only to toss your phone aside in disgust, your faith in humanity hitting rock bottom? I know it happens to me several times daily: news of atrocities committed in the name […]

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Fuck. This.

Posted January 25, 2014 by The Pedgehog

So I just read the This Magazine cover story “No Choice: Why the pro-choice movement won’t let women grieve after abortion” and…well. I have thoughts.

First of all, in the interests of full disclosure, I was interviewed by the author, Rebecca Melnyk, at the start of her research for this article or what I imagine would become this article. Never have I been happier to avoid being quoted; I can’t imagine being associated with this mess. When Melnyk reached out to me she identified herself first and foremost as strongly pro-choice. She probably still does. I’m sure she didn’t choose the title of the article. But holy hell, what is going on here?

It seems to me that the premise is that both “sides” of the abortion “debate” only offer post-abortive people counselling in a politicized environment with some kind of agenda, and that the pro-choice side is routinely dismissive of the range of feelings someone might have after having an abortion. At no point does Melnyk quote a pro-choicer who backs up this assertion; on the contrary, every pro-choice person she mentions points out that folks feel any of a variety of different emotions after abortion and that they should have access to counselling:

That same month, on a warm afternoon in Toronto Miriam McDonald, an editor at the Marxist newspaper Spartacist Canada, struts up and down a hallway at the Ontario Institute of Secondary Education at an International Women’s day rally. “Abortion is just a medical procedure like getting a wart off, except it’s all politicized,” she says. “A woman’s capacity to control her fertility opens the doors to full equality. That’s why it’s … stigmatized.” Another woman standing next to her in a baseball cap, handing out newspapers, says post-abortive women need counselling, not to overcome negative feelings related to abortion, but rather, to cope with society’s stigma and culture of shame.


Some women may need counselling services before or after they have an abortion, says Joyce Arthur, executive director of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC). She does not believe, however, that PAS is real. “It’s like the anti-choice movement works in its own bubble,” she says, “making up it’s own science and ignoring mainstream evidence and consensus.” The result, she adds, is confusion—public misinformation that scares women considering abortion. In Arthur’s mind, the act of abortion continues to be blamed for the source of trauma when, in reality, the unwanted pregnancy is often what’s truly traumatic. It’s not to say women don’t experience negative effects, she adds, just that it’s more complex than the anti-abortion activists portray.


Over in Vancouver, Everywoman’s Health Centre is an abortion clinic that provides free, non-judgmental counselling services and resources like the book, Peace After Abortion. Erin Mullan, who’s been a counsellor for over 20 years, works there. “When it comes to abortion, nothing is in the range of normal,” she says. “A woman’s culture, her religion or history, could all inform how she’ll feel.” For the small number of women she refers out to other counsellors who offer long-term support, abortion is not the main cause of negative feelings, but rather, “it opens a door of pain.” That door can reveal bad relationships, abuse, or mental depression. Mullan points out that coercion—if a woman’s been forced to have an abortion—accounts for one third of the problems she treats. “It can sit unfinished, inside of her for years,” she says, “if she wasn’t given the space to make choices.” At this clinic, the acknowledgment that abortion can be intimately connected to negative feelings serves no greater purpose than a woman’s well-being.

And then Melnyk goes on to describe how many other abortion clinics across the country offer both pre- and post-abortion counselling, usually for free, along with referrals for follow-up counselling with specialists. At no point in the article is there any indication that pro-choicers “won’t let women grieve after abortion”.

My feeling is that the thrust of the article, the point that Melnyk is trying to make is that the options for counselling after an abortion are either shaming, Christian, anti-abortion drivel or militant pro-choice propaganda, that there is no option for folks just looking for non-judgemental counselling. Which is a load of bullshit not even borne out by her research. Yes there is a lack of accessible post-abortion therapy because there is a lack of accessible any therapy – ask any low income person with a mental health issue how easy it is to get in to see a counsellor. But the idea of a lack of non-judgemental post-abortion counselling is especially heinous when the article itself talks about the many clinics that offer it. “Pro-choice” IS “non-judgemental” – no abortion clinic counsellor worth their salt is going to judge you for feeling guilt or regret after your abortion. That’s what counselling is about. That’s why it makes a difference that the counsellors in abortion clinics are trained specifically in non-judgemental pre- and post-abortive counselling and the people in “crisis pregnancy centres” are just random volunteers trained only in making people feel like shit – like they have something to “repent” for – because they had an abortion.

There is a disturbing amount of false equivalence being thrown around in this article.

It just really pisses me off because pro-choice organizations in this country – including abortion clinics, sexual health centres, and organizations like ARCC, NAF, Canadians for Choice, and CFSH, among others – deliberately provide listings of non-judgemental counselling options on request, and often go to great lengths to ensure that people find the care they need regardless of pregnancy outcome. All of these organizations are explicit about not favouring any pregnancy outcome over others, and the number one concern is getting folks the care they want and need in the safest and most accessible way possible.

There is no neutral on abortion, really there isn’t. Not the way it’s framed right now. Either you believe it shouldn’t be allowed, or you believe it should. There is no magical third party who are the only people who can provide non-judgemental counselling. If you believe people have the right to choose how to handle an unwanted pregnancy – if you are pro-choice – then that belief extends to how people feel after their abortion. Anyone providing actual non-judgemental counselling is pro-choice by definition.

I think Melnyk knows this, but I don’t know how to explain this mess of an article. I think she is (rightfully) concerned for folks – like her – who have had abortions and haven’t received the support that they need. And that is legitimate. But the solution there has to be more support and funding for pro-choice, sex-positive, woman-positive counselling services; fighting against abortion stigma; advocating for reproductive and sexual health services in underserved areas – not bizarre magazine articles attacking the pro-choice movement for imagined slights, for not “letting” women grieve. Women can do what they damn well please – isn’t that the whole point?


ETA: A great take-down of the article at DAMMIT JANET! by fern hill.

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Allan's Perspective

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Allan's Perspective

B.C. teacher suspended for prank!

Posted September 25, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

We have a brand new “Asshole of the Day” for ya, folks. A Langley, B.C., teacher has been suspended over a homophobic prank he played on a Grade 11 student in class last year. Daniel Mark Ogloff is a metal fabrication and machining teacher at Aldergrove Community Secondary School. On Sept. 24, 2013, Ogloff wrote […]

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