Evan Tremblay

The end is nigh

The world is burning. Over the summer, for days, the sun was veiled in smoke, a gibbous and hideous orange. At midday you could look directly at it. An old neighbour commented that he had not seen such a thing since the eruption of Mount St. Helens. That was the first time the sun was dimmed, when it was fires in Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories.


Legalize it – and by ‘it,’ I mean ‘all of it’

Commanding a majority of the seats in the House of Commons, and with the already-established support of the courts, there is no reason the incoming Liberal government cannot make good on its promise to legalize, tax, and regulate the sale of marijuana. The ending of the prohibition on marijuana is the proper time to reconsider our society’s stance on other drugs as well.

Many drugs, like marijuana, are not illegal because they are inherently addictive or harmful – the arguments put forward as justification for the legalization of marijuana apply to them also. There is no reason (other than the weight of tradition and old attitudes) that a significant part of currently outlawed substances cannot be legalized, taxed, and sold.


Raging on Roslyn

There is predictable opposition to the erection of a new seven-storey, 78-unit condo tower on Roslyn Rd. As usual with almost any development proposal, the opposition comes mostly from local residents offended at the idea of any change, with a smattering of know-it-alls who assume that their personal opinions constitute sound urban planning polic




Speak no evil

There was a time when you could call something evil and people knew what you meant. They understood that you were not speaking in hyperbole. They understood that evil is one of the central players in the human drama, a thing that will not perish from the earth. Nowadays, to call something evil is to invite scorn and a sniggering assumption of provincialism. To be labelled as “religious” or “spiritual,” words which have of late gained a patina of ironic contempt.

The slow-motion disaster that has been our culture’s embrace of post-modernism, in which no viewpoint enjoys special privilege or validity, has robbed us of the language needed to discuss even the concept of evil, which presumes certain immutable truths. What we do not discuss, we are prone to forget exists. Men who do not believe in evil cannot believe that they (or anyone) serve it. They are perhaps the most likely to do evil.


The trouble with transit

Like any regular rider of buses in this city, I’ve come to hold a constant low level of loathing for the form of transit that I’m dependent on. The perennial lateness, overcrowding, and poor service to many areas of the city is just a fact of life that I’ve made my peace with.

When I heard that service was going to be reduced on several routes due to maintenance issues with the bus fleet my reaction was a study in indifference. It’s still nice out (warmest year on record, folks!), and I can still avoid buses by biking or walking. Come winter all bets for anything resembling regular service are off in a normal year, so I figured this year couldn’t possibly be worse.

But then I read that our mayor had said of the reduction in service that “The service level expectation needs to be more realistic than they were,” and my reaction was considerably more colourful than indifference.


The death of innocents

The Syrian civil war has been raging for four years. Hundreds of thousands of people have died, surely including many toddlers. Certainly no shortage of refugees meeting tragic ends. But we weren’t confronted with the image of their lifeless bodies; the thought of these innocent deaths was not in our collective mind.


‘That’s not fair!’

It seems to be something of a trend with people my age to confuse their own interests with the common good. The idea that it is somehow unfair for us to not have all our desires (and a lot of what we call needs are really just desires) met is not a healthy mindset, though it is increasingly widespread. Seeing unfairness as a state of discontent is a big part of why we live in such an unjust society: we are willing to put up with a lot, so long as things seem “fair” for number one.

It’s not just young people, of course – though I think that as digital technology permeates more and more of our lives, we are more likely to be susceptible to it. The social media we use is designed to show us the things we like to see; algorithms track what we click on and deliver more of the same. We get a false idea of how much the world agrees with us and of how important we are in the grand scheme of things.


Protest! The conscience demands it

In heeding our conscience – and what, other than that, is the purpose of having consciousness – we will find a path clear before us. This is the path of protest, of differentiation form the norm. Not of calling out, but of turning away. True protest, the kind that seeks change, must be more affirmation than negation. It is focused on the actions we can ourselves take, not the actions not taken by others.