Thursday, August 30, 2012

If you know someone who emigrated to Canada before 1972...

you should let them know about this bit of sad news. Ruth Goldbloom passed away yesterday at the age of 88. She had contributed so much in her life, but she will be best remembered for getting Halifax's Pier 21 opened as Canada’s National Immigration Museum in 1999 (here she is in an interview from 2010 on CBC TV). From 1928 to 1971, Pier 21 was the 'point of entry' for 1.5 million immigrants and refugees to Canada  as well as the point of departure for nearly half a million soldiers in World War II, and after it closed, it became a seldom-used warehouse until a group co-founded by Mrs. Goldbloom raised money and advocated for the old immigration shed to be named a national historic site and renovated as a museum.

Many people go there now to get information on relatives who arrived in Canada through that facility, and for some people who visit that large brick building, it is a bit more personal. They get to relive the moment where they saw and entered Canada for the very first time in the exact same place, and many are overcome by emotion.

I have a close personal friend who has volunteered at Pier 21 for years and I myself volunteered there one summer. I worked with some fantastic people and had the honour of meeting the lady herself on several occasions. Fascinating woman, fascinating life, Rest in Peace Mrs. Goldbloom.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Arm the world???

Regarding the recent events in Aurora, Colorado, I have to weigh in on the debate, while there still is a debate, even though I'm hearing from some on the pro-gun right that there is no debate anymore.

My opinion, for what it's worth, has evolved over time. I have become sympathetic to the idea that gun ownership for citizens is a good idea just in case government on any level goes bad (although I have never been clear on the meaning of 'well-regulated militia', who is supposed to be doing the regulating anyway, the militia themselves?).

However, there seems to be some kind of resignation on pro-gun activists that criminals and mentally ill people will always be able to get guns, no matter how many laws we put in place. That is a fair point. But I have always questioned how available should they be. Should they be sold in, say, convenience stores? Do they really want the kind of world where every man, or woman in particular, can never leave their home unarmed without putting their life on the line? So that a percentage of people are 'packing heat' in any and every crowd so that the death toll of atrocities like the massacre in Aurora would be minimized?

And of course the ongoing atrocities by drug gangs in Mexico, which may or may not largely involve high-powered firearms either bought (or smuggled in) through the United States. The point of all this is, I personally don't feel comfortable living in a world where a significant percentage of the population is going outside carrying guns all the time in every public place, which seems to be the ultimate goal of groups like the NRA. I like going out to public events and meeting people, and I do not think of myself as an "anti-gun" person per se. There may be times in my life I might need a gun under the right circumstances, because I think that it should be ultimately available to all law-abiding citizens such as myself. But what I'm also wondering is, how many guns DOES the world need anyway? Or any individual? How many guns are enough for everyone? We only have two hands, right? Has it gotten to such a point that we are all living in some kind of Hobbesian dystopia, where it's no longer considered safe anywhere unless you're 'packin'?

It does seem a bit late to attempt any kind of gun control legislation anyway, at least in the U.S. In another article, under my Yahoo! handle, I made a comment on the recent failure of an international arms treaty and got into it with a couple of pro-gun people. I like to think that I kept the tone reasonably calm, and no one called me a deluded-commie-pinko-liberal-faggot (that word again) or any other colourful epitaphs as I expected. I tried to make the point that any such arms treaty would not in any way interfere with their all-important 2nd amendment. No one responded to that in any coherent way. It was just that $%#^& United Nations trying to take away all of our money and freedom again. (Not a direct quote, just the overall tone of all the comments)

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