Sunday, June 29, 2008

Update

Mom and Dad's visit was great and went by way too fast. The week flew by. We showed them many city spots, Allan Gardens, Ashbridge Bay, The Beach, The Toronto Islands, Casa Loma. Emi also took them to The Distillery and The Science center as I recovered from strep throat.





I was surprised how much their visit affected me afterwards. For a brief period I was inconsolable. I am usually not much of a crier but boy did the water works really kick in. It doesn't hit you how much you miss people until you see them again. So the rest of the week for me I was blue.

Then Pride Toronto hit!

Yesterday we went to the Dyke March with Lisa and some of her friends. It's a mini version of the big parade today. The city is buzzing and Emilio and I are amazed how well organized Toronto is with this weekend long event. Streets are completely closed, the flow is much better than the New York Prides we've been to, plus it's 3 full days of pride events with free shows on stages all over the village. We saw the Toronto Men's Chorus, Mel C (Spice Girl) from a distance (we got kicked out because we had our Pride Pup Katie with us) also some killer drag shows like Divinesque. All of this is FREE!

I had a one bad moment. This woman had Henna Tattoos on her hands and was talking to her friends with her hands wide out trying to dry. Her hand brushed my shorts smearing her tattoo and my shorts at the same time. She screamed "UGH!", so I yelled "Ugh!" back. She then tells me in an outraged voice "I spent $30 on that Henna!" (as if it was my fault). Well my Jersey Boy flew out and I said. "Then you should keep your hands to yourself" Her jaw dropped as we walked away laughing. You can take the boy out of jersey but you can't take the Jersey out of the boy. I need to act more Canadian. :)



In true Tom and Emi fashion we were home before 11pm. Such party animals.

Today is the big parade but the weather is looking shitty. We will enjoy it just the same. Afterwards we have our friend Kim's annual pride party and our neighbour Suhail's party later on. We hope to meet the guys...Mike, Doug, Rich, Mason, Nick, Lee, Jason...etc along the way.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Meet The Fockers

Today my wonderful parents are arriving for a week long visit. This is the longest I have ever gone without seeing them in person. (It's only been 6 months) but it feel much longer because we are used to seeing them on an almost weekly basis.

I am looking forward to showing them the city and to prove to my Mom city life really isn't scary at all. My parent live in the Poconos along with two of my brothers and their families.

The hardest part of moving to Toronto is missing family holidays, life events (my second oldest neice just graduated high school with honours) and just those Sunday dinners where we talked politics, played games and simply made each other laugh. Don't get me wrong Canada is where we belong, where we are whole, equal and happy, I just miss my kin.

I've been thinking of starting a similar "Sunday Dinner" thing here, I just haven't gotten around to it yet.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Reality Check

We're here almost 6 months and and Emilio is having a very hard time finding a job. He's applying all over the place and networking where ever he can, but he's not having any luck. So those coming after us, save as much as you can before coming, try to secure employment prior to arrival, start your networking as soon as possible.

We're fortunate I was able to keep my job, it's been an wonderful gift that is keeping us going.

We also realized our house dreams are going to take much longer than expected, the market is way too high right now and long overdue for a correction.

We had a great time at WMTC3 last week. I got to play volleyball and we met some really great friends of Laura and Allan. A highlight of the day was meeting Gito, Juan, Fang and Trouble of Wondrous Canadian Renewal.

Plus it was a fundraiser for the War Resister's Support Campaign. I saw on the news today Corey Glass had his deportation stayed until July 10th. So the fight continues. I am having a difficult time persuading Canadian Conseratives to support the resisters, they are just as vulgar as American Conservatives.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

War Resisters Win!!

Canada Lawmakers Ask Harper to Let War Resisters Stay (Update2)

By Greg Quinn
June 3 (Bloomberg) -- Canadian opposition lawmakers urged the government to freeze deportations of U.S. soldiers who fled to Canada after refusing to fight in Iraq, passing a non- binding resolution to pressure Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Opposition parties with a majority of seats in Parliament asked the government to allow ``conscientious objectors'' to wars not sanctioned by the United Nations, such as the Iraq conflict, to apply for permanent resident status. The resolution urges the Conservative Party government to stop deportations ordered by immigration tribunals. The motion passed by 137 to 110, with the Conservatives voting against.
Harper, who came to power in 2006 promising improved relations with the U.S., hasn't tried to overturn any tribunal decisions ordering U.S. resisters deported. Today's vote conjures up controversial images from the Vietnam War era, when Canada took in thousands of Americans seeking to avoid being drafted or serving when called.
``It is significant, and it would be flouting parliamentary process if the government were to ignore it,'' Sharry Aiken, a law professor specializing in immigration at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, said by telephone. ``It's not all that difficult for the government to oblige the motion. It doesn't give them status, it allows them to apply for status.''
Like Vietnam, today there is ``a lot of opposition'' to the Iraq war across Canada yet the government is reluctant to give in to early pressure and let resisters stay, she said.
Refugee Claimants
So far, fewer than 40 Americans have claimed refugee status in Canada because they object to fighting in the Iraq War, according to Danielle Norris, a spokeswoman for Canada's immigration department in Ottawa. The five people who agreed to release details of their cases were denied, she said.
Canadian law requires refugee claimants to demonstrate a ``well-founded fear of persecution'' such as torture or death should they be sent back to their home countries, Norris said. Officials also rely on a UN handbook that says they should consider whether soldiers were drafted into service or volunteered, as in the case of Iraq, she said.
The U.S. Army's maximum penalty for desertion is five years in confinement, dishonorable discharge and loss of all pay and benefits, according to information e-mailed by Maj. Nathan Banks, an army spokesman in Washington.
Banks declined to comment on the Canadian motion. The U.S. embassy in Ottawa referred a telephone call seeking comment to the military.
Corey Glass
The Toronto-based War Resisters Support Campaign estimates there are as many as 200 American Iraq war resisters in Canada. According to a May 22 report in the Toronto Star, 25-year-old Corey Glass is the lone resister ordered deported whose departure has been scheduled.
Glass said in a statement from Ottawa that he's ``thankful to all the Canadians who urged their MPs to support us,'' using the abbreviation for Member of Parliament.
Former Liberal Party Prime Minister Jean Chretien in 2003 refused to send troops to join the war in Iraq because the invasion wasn't backed by the UN, breaking with the U.S. and U.K., traditionally Canada's closest allies. Another Liberal prime minister, Pierre Trudeau, welcomed Vietnam War objectors after his predecessor Lester B. Pearson failed to persuade the U.S. to find a mediated settlement to the conflict.
Vietnam Dodgers
Canada took in between 50,000 and 80,000 Americans during the war in Southeast Asia, according to the War Resisters Support Campaign. Canada's immigration department didn't have figures immediately available on that era.
``We have been undertaking political action and public mobilization in order to get a political solution to the problem, and that's what the vote is about,'' said Lee Zaslofsky, national coordinator for the war resisters' group. Before the vote, he said it would be ``a very big breakthrough for the campaign and the war resisters if the elected representatives of the Canadian people speak on their behalf.''
Zaslofsky, 63, came to Canada from the U.S. in 1970 and sought permanent resident status, after finishing military training in South Carolina and being ordered to report for duty in Vietnam.
``You could apply right at the border,'' he said, adding that the paperwork took just 45 minutes. ``It was surprisingly easy.''
U.S. Relations
David Biette, director of the Canada Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, said while the motion likely won't hurt relations with the U.S., it might raise eyebrows among critics of Canada's immigration policies.
``People who follow immigration and refugee policy in Canada will certainly notice,'' he said. ``There are some people who will say Canada let too many of the wrong kind of people in.''
Jack Layton, leader of the opposition New Democratic Party, said while he's not optimistic the vote will succeed in making Harper change his position, doing so wouldn't affect ties with the U.S.
``Canadians have always taken independent positions,'' he said. ``If anything, I think that that elevates the respect in which many Americans hold Canadians.''
Tim Vail, a spokesman for Immigration Minister Diane Finley, didn't immediately answer a phone call seeking comment on how the government may proceed in light of the vote.
To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Quinn in Ottawa at gquinn1@bloomberg.net. Last Updated: June 3, 2008 17:29 EDT