Deborah Jones in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain Photo Alex Kennedy © 2011


Squib |skwib|: a small firework that burns with a hissing sound before exploding


Dear Americans: Enough, Already

Lacking ear plugs strong enough to block the din from America blasting the world, or a mega-phone loud enough to counter the babble, I’m resorting to two letters.

Canada’s National Aboriginal Day

Time, some vast and today unfathomable sweep of time, may eventually heal the wounds in the people, families and communities left by Canada’s treatment of its first peoples; of even the theft, abuse and murder of generations of children. For now, on the first day of summer each year, Canada celebrates National Aboriginal Day.

“Cause marketing” not clear as a bell

Bell’s #bellletstalk is a wildly successful marketing campaign that’s raised money and awareness for mental health causes in Canada. It is also a world leader in an unhealthy trend that we really do need to talk about.

Canada’s strategic, desperate, election: Anybody But Conservative

The shambles of Canada’s democracy, and paralysis in the face of existential economic, environmental and civil threats to the country I call home, drove me from being a lifelong, carefully non-participatory journalist observer of politics, into activism during this federal election.

If Slaughterhouses had Glass Walls … 

Yulin’s annual grotesquerie, held to celebrate the solstice and the onset of summer, is over. Outraged dog lovers the world over can relax with the normal fare that saturates our pop news and social media, of LOL catz and pictures of bacon dishes. We likely don’t want to know that some 25 million dogs are killed and eaten each year, worldwide.  Nor do we want to know that the volume of other animals used for meat dwarfs the millions of dogs.

Nepal’s Predictable Agony 

The massive earthquake that shattered Nepal on April 25, 2015, came as no surprise to anyone. The country sits atop one of the world’s most seismically dangerous places. There have been countless warnings about Nepal’s rickety infrastructure, haphazard housing, lax building codes, and rampant urban development. The devastation can be blamed, as simply as anything in this world is simple, on a deadly mix of human failures in soft governance and hard science.

Ferguson’s Damned Details

Ferguson, Missouri, burst into flames after a grand jury found no cause to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown on August 9. Some 700 National Guard troops were immediately summoned, with 2,200 reinforcements added Tuesday, to quell rioting. But the story of Ferguson is deceptively simple, and beguiling: a tale of authorities versus delinquents, blacks versus whites. devils versus angels.

World and War

Every person who fought in World War I is now dead – and yet no one alive today is unaffected. The war consumed much of the globe for, arguably, decades. Many contend that the unresolved conflicts of the “Great War” re-ignited to become the conflagration we call World War II, then set in motion events from the Cold War to today’s Middle Eastern conflicts. A century after it began, I am most astonished at the hubris.

NOTEBOOK: Arizona’s Test

American politics have become increasingly polarized, harsh and discordant. Then, every so often, a clear note carries through the din. This week that note sounded in Arizona, where Republican governor Jan Brewer vetoed legislation passed by the Republican-dominated House of Representatives and Senate.

Wolves as Ecosystems Engineers

Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs have a lot to answer for: thanks partly to fairy tales, wolves have a ghastly and global reputation as big and bad, terrorists of young girls and small pigs, good for nothing but their pelts. But science offers redemption — and one fair wolf tale can be found in Yellowstone National Park in the western United States. Alas, it’s a tale without an end.

The Tree

We knew the tree as an insect haven, a woodpecker station, a squirrel highway, and a perch for raccoons. She held our clothesline, and lent us her leaves for summer shade and winter compost.

Thou Shalt Not Kill: The Pope on capitalism

The leader of the world’s Catholics released an extraordinary mission statement, an “apostolic exhortation,” in November. Non-Catholics may not have noticed, or cared. We should.

A Rob Ford nation

Canada’s obsession with Toronto mayor Rob Ford confirms something I’ve come to suspect about our character: Canada is no longer a serious country.

Far from Flanders Fields

It’s at Ypres that my imagination falters, along with my tenuous grasp of poet John McCrae’s identity, and interest in the tiresome debate over the merits and meanings of his poem In Flanders Fields. It’s because of Ypres I am unable to imagine a man with the sensitivity of a poet and the intelligence of a physician harbouring “romantic” notions of war in the conditions of 1915 trench warfare.

Seamus Heaney: R.I.P.

The death of Irish poet Seamus Heaney is a reminder of the luminous souls amongst us, whose work will reverberate long after today’s transient thugs and loud charlatans have passed through the news cycle.

Death with dignity: The renewed debate over euthanasia.

Two dogs who shared my home for 13 years lived a dog’s life and – more to the point – died a dog’s death.



One Canadian Soldier: My son is readying for war, 2006

As my son trains for a near future mission, most likely in Afghanistan, I’m no longer behind the lens watching and keeping him safe. Now it’s Canada’s government that protects my boy from unnecessary danger. And every time a soldier dies in Afghanistan, that reality turns my heart cold.

9/11: Good, Evil, and Other, 2001

One by one, 34 great silver birds, blown off-course by the American catastrophe of September 11, alight. One by one, 6,000 travellers emerge, to fill Vancouver International Airport with a babel of languages and a multicoloured polyglot of nationalities. In the wake of the terrorist hijackings and destruction, it has become clear — as United States President George W. Bush will later say — we are engaged in “a monumental struggle of good versus evil.” Moving within the crowd at the airport, I wonder which of these people epitomizes evil.


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