Activism, Heroes, Video

Proud to be Canadian moment

Snowden Angels

There have been many moments where I have felt proud to be Canadian. I had one of those moments last week when I read in the news that Canada had given asylum to one of the refugees who sheltered Edward Snowden when he was fleeing from the authorities in Hong Kong.

Vanessa Rodel and her daughter Keana Kihinsa arrived in Canada last Monday.

“This is a really great day,” said her lawyer, Robert Tibbo. “She’s departed Hong Kong. She’s left behind all the distress, hopelessness and uncertainty in life, the discrimination and marginalization she has suffered.”

Five other asylum seekers who sheltered Mr. Snowden are awaiting decisions on their applications in Canada. Among them is Ajith Pushpakumara, from Sri Lanka, who said he had fled to Hong Kong after being tortured for deserting the military and faces the possibility of execution if he returns to his native country.

Ajith fled his home country of Sri Lanka in 2003. In Sri Lanka, Ajith signed up for the military when he was 18 years old. In the Ambepussa Army Camp, young recruits were abused daily and often raped by their superiors. A victim of sexual abuse and at one point left for dead, Ajith deserted. When he was caught by the military police, he was then tortured.

With his military background, Ajith acted as Edward Snowden’s bodyguard in Hong Kong in 2013.

For The Refugees is a Canadian not-for-profit organization fighting to prevent the deportation of the Snowden Guardian Angels from Hong Kong and compelling Canada to expedite their relocation to safety.

Click here to visit For The Refugees website.

Click here to watch video about the Snowden Guardian Angels on CBC.

Click here to read article on New York Times about the Snowden Guardian Angels.

Click here to read my blog entry about Edward Snowden and the Survellance State.

Notes: All information in this blog gathered from New York Times article and For The Refugees website.

TTC, Video

Increase funding for TTC!

I was just reading article by Bonnie Burstow about the TTC. She talks about the lack of air conditioning in subway cars on line 2. The TTC estimates that “20-25 per cent of the air conditioning on the trains are affected“. According to Burstow who is a frequent TTC user and who has done some mini experiments, this number is actually much higher.

I just saw a news report on TV about a TTC passenger throwing coffee at a TTC bus driver. I can understand people are frustrated by the service delays and fare hikes experienced on the TTC but don’t take it out on TTC workers. You are venting your anger at the wrong people. The people you should be angry at are the politicians who are not providing adequate funding for the TTC. You should also be angry at tax cheats who hide their money in tax havens. When these individuals and corporations don’t pay their fair share of taxes, there is less money available to be spent on public transportation. There is an estimated $7 billion to be recovered from tax havens.

Money can be recovered from tax havens. According to figures from the Canada Revenue Agency acquired by Senator Percy E. Downe through access to information laws, a 2005 investment of $30 million in the CRA yielded a fiscal impact of $2.5 billion up to 2009. The U.K. has recovered more than $3.5 billion since 2010.

Politicians have to work within budget constraints. That is why it is important to focus on collecting all taxes that is owed to the government of Canada.

The TTC receives funding of $0.89 per ride which is the lowest in North America.1  Philadelphia receives $2.51 per ride. Washington D.C. receives $2.32 per ride, Boston receives $1.92 per ride.

The next time you are stuck in a bus with no air conditioning, don’t get angry at the bus driver. Contact John Tory, Premier Wynn and Justin Trudeau and let them know you want more funding for the TTC. Also contact Justin Trudeau and tell him to crack down on tax cheats who use tax havens to hide their money. Read my blog entry talking about Trudeau not being serious about cracking down on tax havens.


  1. 2016 TTC and Wheel-Trans Operating Budget Report p.30