Trudeau government abandons promise to abandon promise of electoral reform

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Feb. 1, 2017

OTTAWA, ON (By Jake Wray)—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that his government will once again resume its efforts to reform the Canadian electoral system.

In a letter released publicly on Wednesday, Trudeau told his new minister of democratic institutions, Karina Gould, that electoral reform was no longer a priority. After facing severe backlash from opposition politicians and members of the public, the prime minister hastily convened a press conference Wednesday evening where he told reporters electoral reform is back on the table.

“We initially stepped away from reform because we lacked broad support from the Canadian public in that initiative,” Trudeau said. “But it is now evident that we also lack the broad public support necessary to stop exploring electoral reform.”

Nathan Cullen, the New Democratic Party’s democratic reform critic, said to reporters after the press conference that sudden policy reversal is typical for the Liberals under Trudeau.

“The prime minister already broke one promise when he said his government wouldn’t pursue electoral reform any further. It’s no surprise he broke a second promise as well,” Cullen said. “It doesn’t matter that the two broken promises cancel each other out. He lied. The prime minister lied and, frankly, we have no assurances that he won’t break his third promise by once again abandoning reform.”

A source within the prime minister’s office, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the government is considering giving up on trying anything ever again.

“It seems we can’t do anything without pissing someone off. There is genuine confusion about how to drum up broad public support for our initiatives,” the source said in a phone interview. “Marijuana legalization, reconciliation with First Nations and of course electoral reform are all in jeopardy right now. We might just abandon all of our promises and ride out the rest of our term in a position of comfortable power.”

 

Article originally appeared in The Burrard Street Journal

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Battery loss causes psychological damage, study finds

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Image via http://www.ifcfilms.com

UBC study ends in bloodshed and police intervention

March 31, 2016

By Jake Wray

Mental health issues are directly correlated with cellphone battery levels, a UBC study has found.

Dr. Wikus Thompson, the UBC professor who led the study, said the results will radically change the way medical professionals approach mental health.

“This undermines much of what we thought we knew about psychology. Now, instead of prescribing anti-psychotic drugs, doctors will provide patients with a free Lightning iPhone charger,” said Thompson.

“We didn’t take this research too seriously at first. It’s hard to believe that people are so emotionally attached to their phones, but after how messy things got—well, let’s just say this is something we need to pay more attention to.”

Researchers gathered 15 men and 15 women together in a waiting room, telling the subjects to stay put and that the study would begin soon. In actuality, the study had already begun. The room was not equipped with plug-ins. After several hours, as phone batteries depleted, the subjects began behaving erratically.

Thompson said a man in his mid-20s, who arrived at the study with a hangover and without having fully charged his phone, was the first to break.

“Subject 16 was ill prepared for the emotional stress. His phone died well before the others’, and he immediately started pacing nervously,” said Thompson. “I’ve never seen anything quite like it. He began chanting to himself, and then attacked another subject.”

Subject 16 overpowered the much weaker Subject 23, a middle-aged soccer mom with a bad back. He took her phone and forced her to provide the passcode so he could continue browsing Reddit.

As other phone batteries began to die, more subjects became unstable.

“It eventually devolved to sort of a Lord of the Flies type scenario,” said Thompson. “Subject 2 ended up with the last functioning phone, and she became the queen of the group. She ordered the group to kill and eat one of the weaker subjects, and then she smeared feces over the lenses of our security cameras.”

VPD Sgt. Johnathan Khan said officers had to assist in shutting the study down, and that the VPD was launching an investigation against Thompson and his colleagues. Khan personally attended the scene.

“It was a bloodbath. One of our rookies slipped on a severed hand as soon as we entered the zone,” said Khan. “In 24 years of police work, I have never seen anything so gruesome.”

One of the subjects from the study agreed to be interviewed. Jeb Maxwell, or Subject 9, told the Other Press about his experience.

“Eyes in the night!” he said, as he curled into the fetal position on the floor. “Six per cent, five per cent, four per cent, no, no, oh god, make it stop! Make it stop! Please!”

 

Article originally appeared in The Other Press

Party in the USA

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Prime Minister Trudeau tours the United States

March 17, 2016

By Jake Wray

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has embarked on a high-profile tour of the United States after his highly successful state visit with President Barack Obama.

Officials from the White House set Trudeau up with an American Express Centurion card, a year’s supply of Gogurt, and a free iPad for the trip that will see the Prime Minister and his entourage make a number of special stops including a visit to Disneyland, a tour of Area 51, and a chance to hang out with rapper Snoop Dogg.

A source at the White House, who wished to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak to media, told the Other Press that Obama wanted to give Trudeau the full American experience.

“We said to Justin, ‘Clear your schedule because you are going to have a blast.’ He and Barack are thick as thieves, and it just made sense to show him all the cool stuff our country has to offer,” said the source, as approximately 15 per cent of Americans languished in poverty. “We pulled out all the stops for this one.”

The first stop on the tour is Los Angeles, where Trudeau will visit the set of Star Wars Episode VIII, sit court-side at a Lakers game, and make an appearance on Ellen before spending a weekend at Disneyland. In a press conference at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles’ Beverly Hills, Trudeau’s chief of staff Katie Telford said the prime minister is really, really excited.

“This is an absolutely unbelievable opportunity, and one that he is so grateful to have been given,” said Telford. “Personally, I am looking forward to skipping the lines at Disneyland.”

Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau, the Prime Minister’s wife, said from Ottawa that she wasn’t sure why Trudeau didn’t invite his family on the trip.

“I don’t really care about going on the tour myself, but he could have at least brought the kids. I mean, he’s going to Disneyland, for fuck’s sake,” said Grégoire-Trudeau.

Rapper Snoop Dogg, who is hiding in a closet on Trudeau’s jet with an MTV camera crew, is planning to surprise the Prime Minister.

“It’s gonna be reeeeal good. Justin is my boy right here, he’s gonna legalize the marry-hwanna up there in Canada, so I’ma bust out of this closet when he’s least expectin’ and give him a good laugh,” said Dogg.

After Los Angeles, the Trudeau contingent will head to Nevada where they will hang out in Vegas and hit the casinos for a couple days, before touring Area 51. White House officials promise that visiting the classified military site will “blow the Prime Minister’s mind.”

 

Article originally appeared in The Other Press

The power of the Facebook filter

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Deeply ingrained prejudices finally cleansed

March 9, 2016

By Jake Wray

Adding a filter to your Facebook profile picture could really make a difference in someone’s life. Hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people have plummeted by 82 per cent as a direct result of rainbow filters on Facebook profile pictures, according to a new study by Vancouver-based think-tank Digital Canada.

“I feel really safe now,” said Jordie Naziel, a gay, aboriginal teen in Prince George. “The rainbow filter seems to have woken people up. Before people started adding it to their profiles, I used to get my ass kicked after school all the time. Now people just smile and wave. I can’t believe no one thought of doing this sooner.”

Kelowna homophobe Tim McNeil told the Other Press that seeing rainbow profile pictures on Facebook was a life-changing moment for him.

“It’s not that I lack basic human empathy and compassion. I just didn’t understand that I needed to extend those values to gay people. All I knew is that they were different from me, which was a pretty scary thought. I lashed out,” said McNeil. “Then my aunt added the rainbow to her profile picture, and I had an epiphany. Over night, I began to understand how to show love and respect to gay people. I even stopped using homophobic slurs.

“I still fuckin’ hate immigrants, though,” he added.

Annie Park, who identifies as transgender, said she has noticed the difference that the filters have made.

“Once the rainbows popped up on Facebook, I noticed that people weren’t looking at me sideways in public anymore. I recently applied to be a server at the diner near my apartment,” said Park. “I couldn’t believe it. When I went in, the manager shook my hand, looked me in the eye, and smiled. He didn’t ask any inappropriate or demeaning questions. He hired me on the spot.”

Sharene Moretti, a gender studies professor at SFU, said the filters have fixed everything. “All across the country, gay-straight alliance groups are fading out. Social programs for LGBTQ+ youth are being cut pretty much across the board, because they’re just not necessary anymore.

“Teen suicide rates have dropped dramatically. Religious groups have opened their arms to LGBTQ+ people. Homophobia is essentially a non-issue, now. Who would have thought it would be this easy?”

Moretti also speculated on the atrocities that could have been prevented if only Facebook had become popular sooner: “If Facebook had been around in the ‘70s, Harvey Milk would still be alive.”

Article originally appeared in The Other Press

FBI barred from Apple campus backdoor

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Image via Thinkstock

Federal government simply can’t find way into building

March 2, 2016

By Jake Wray

The Apple vs. FBI showdown has entered a new round after 250 heavily-armed FBI agents stormed Apple’s Cupertino campus on Monday.

One day prior, lawyers with the U.S. Justice Department successfully argued in court that Apple needed to open its doors to agents who required assistance with counter-terrorism cases, but Apple refused the court order and had employees lock all of the doors on campus. The FBI sent an armed response team to the campus, but they have thus far been unable to open any doors.

While the hundreds of agents milled about on Apple’s lawn scratching their heads, FBI Director James Comey told the Other Press it is imperative to national security that agents enter the campus.

“We don’t know what exactly we will find, but we need to have the authority to go in and take a look around,” said Comey. “Every day that Apple holds out, American lives are directly at risk. If they don’t want us coming in the front doors, why don’t they let us sneak in a backdoor?”

The Justice Department also released a statement condemning Apple’s actions.

“It is unfortunate that Apple continues to resist the department in obtaining access to the facilities of the company. A company that designed and sold the phone of one of the terrorists involved in a major attack on U.S. soil,” the statement reads.

Apple CEO Tim Cook released a scathing letter on Apple’s website condemning the actions of the Justice Department and the FBI.

“While we believe the FBI’s intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to open a backdoor into our campus. And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect,” wrote Cook. “Additionally, we fail to see the relevance of this search. There are a dozen other ways the FBI could build cases against terrorism suspects—it’s convenient they chose a method that also violates the personal security of millions of people across the globe.”

Presidential candidate Donald Trump offered his opinion in a rambling nine-minute voicemail left on the Other Press’ office line at 2 a.m.

“Who do they think they are?” asked Trump, in reference to Apple. “What they are doing is weak and un-American. When I am president, I will build a wall around the campus to keep America safe from those privacy loving pinkos at Apple.”

At press time, FBI engineers were huddled around the backdoor of Apple’s campus attempting to pick the lock with Q-Tips.

 

Article originally appeared in The Other Press

Liberals’ legalization policies foggy at best

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Illustration by Ed Appleby

Progress caught in a haze

Feb. 24, 2016

By Jake Wray

After months of delays hampering the new Liberal government’s plan to legalize marijuana, the Prime Minister is now saying they will “get around to it.”

The Liberals were elected partially because of their promise to legalize marijuana, but the legalization process is dragging out, leaving many Canadians unsatisfied and impatient. Speaking from his office, wearing grey sweatpants and an Odd Future hoodie, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the Other Press—between mouthfuls of pretzels—that marijuana legalization is of the highest priority.

“It’s totally a huge deal to a lot of Canadians, and we get that for sure. We’ll get around to it soon, I promise, but for right now just chill out, man. Check it out, I just got my staff to put a record player in here! You like The Beatles?” said Trudeau, as he got up to put on Magical Mystery Tour.

Bill Blair, Liberal MP and parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Justice, has been tasked with overseeing the transition to legalization. He said the logistics of legalizing pot are complicated and intricate.

“I dunno, man, this is tricky stuff. There are all these international treaties and stuff—sometimes I just don’t know what to think. Can you imagine if we legalized pot, and then the Americans were mad at us? They have railguns, man! Giant railguns on their ships. Have you seen the YouTube video of the railgun? It’s awesome, I’ll show you,” said Blair.

Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale spoke to the Other Press from his living room with the curtains drawn. He said he’s been too anxious to work on the marijuana file.

“I would love to work on legalizing pot, but I keep feeling like people are judging me for it,” said Goodale. “The other day I was in Starbucks trying to type out a report on crime statistics, but I kept feeling like everyone in there knew exactly what I was up to.”

Rona Ambrose, interim leader of the Conservative party, was disappointed by the government’s lack of progress.

“How long exactly is this process going to take? Justin and the Liberals have once again shown how unmotivated and foggy they can be. I know I have long held the position that marijuana is a maddening toxin pushed by Satan himself, but I also have a responsibility to complain incessantly about every move the government makes,” said Ambrose.

Patrick Howe, professor of public policy at the University of Victoria’s faculty of law, said that legalization won’t happen overnight.

“This is a complex legal challenge facing strong opposition. There will have to be compromises. This will take years,” said Howe. “I don’t know what people are expecting. Trudeau can’t just snap his fingers and legalize pot overnight.”

At press time, Trudeau was just going to run out to 7-Eleven real quick.

 

Article originally appeared in The Other Press

Vancouver’s real estate market pricier than ever

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Photo by Erica Cooper via Flickr

How much would you pay to live in the city?

Feb. 17, 2016

By Jake Wray

The red hot real estate market reached new extremes last month when a decrepit backyard shed in Vancouver’s Dunbar neighbourhood sold for $2.4 million.

Jonas Mendelson, a 32-year-old software developer, paid $200,000 above asking price for the run-down storage unit. It has no heat, insulation, plumbing, or electricity. He said the price was steep, but totally worth it.

“I know I’m just a millionaire, but I really wanted to live in Vancouver. I just love it here—it’s so close to the mountains for outdoor activities, and the ocean, and the dating scene here is so lively and genuine,” said Mendelson.

“I didn’t think I could afford to live in the city, but buying a shed was a nice way to compromise basic necessities like heat and running water for the sake of affordability.”

He also said the community-oriented neighbourhood was a huge selling point.

“I need to feel like I really belong where I’m living, so the warm reception here has been amazing. The students who live in the shed across the alley left their Wi-Fi unsecured for me, and the raccoon family in the bushes next door have only bitten me maybe two, three times,” said Mendelson.

The owner of the property on which Mendelson’s shed sits, Steve McIntyre, said the shed had become too valuable to hang onto.

“As prices kept soaring, I kept looking out at that damn shed. I figured I barely use it, why not sell it for a handsome profit to some poor schmuck,” said McIntyre.

He added that he was very pleased when Mendelson delivered payment for the shed in cash.

“I was running out of money to wipe my ass with, and I didn’t want to have to make a trip down to the ATM,” said McIntyre.

Not everyone is pleased with the transaction, however. Mendelson and McIntyre’s neighbour, Helena Fletcher, said some incoherent, racist shit that didn’t really contribute to the discourse about real estate in any meaningful way.

“It’s those goddamn Chinese. They’re coming in here with their foreign money and driving this city to the ground!” said Fletcher. “This used to be a good neighbourhood, I tell ya.”

When reminded that both Mendelson and McIntyre are both white Canadian men of European descent, Fletcher was unfazed.

“They’re just puppets, I tell ya! Those Chinese are behind everything these days, pulling the strings. They’re trying to take over this country from the inside out,” she maintained.

 

Article originally appeared in The Other Press