10 Canadians I Would Rather Canada be Known for

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Yup I ended that title with a preposition, but let us move on and focus on the fact that in the past few weeks Rob Ford mania has taken over our TVs, newspapers and news feeds and its driving 99% of the Canadian population crazy. The scandal and media circus surrounding good ol’Robbie has cast Canada under a negative light, not that pulling out of agreements like the Kyoto Protocol was helping its case already. International broadcasting agencies and channels such CNN and ABC have even grown interested in this debacle. However, it is important to keep in mind that despite the fact that the country has made quite a few questionable choices in recent history, one can not deny that Canada did at some point hold a relatively good humanitarian record. Throughout its 146 years of existence, Canada harboured a few other notable citizens that are more worthy of putting Canada on the map than Rob Ford. Therefore, I present to you a list of 10 Canadians (in no specific order) that should be remembered and recognized for their greatness and contributions.

  • Fredrick Grant Banting

If discovering Insulin does not earn you a spot on this list, then maybe winning a Nobel Prize in medicine would. Sir. Fredrick Banting was a medical scientist, doctor, painter and the youngest Nobel laureate in the area of Physiology and Medicine.  As the co-discoverer of insulin he shared the Nobel Prize money with his colleague Dr. Charles Best (What a good guy!).

  • Jack Layton

One of the greatest (in my opinion) politicians Canada has ever seen. His vision for a more equal, fair and just society brought hope to many. The open letter that he left behind after passing away due to cancer touched the hearts of countless Canadians regardless of their political opinions. His letter left kind words for his friends and foes, brought hope to cancer patients, encouraged young Canadians to become the leaders of tomorrow, and preached love, hope and optimism.

  • Thomas Clement Douglas (Tommy Douglas)

A Scottish born Canadian who became the father of universal healthcare. As a politician, and premier of Saskatchewan, he introduced the first single payer universal health care program in North America. He also lobbied for a Canada wide pension plan and bargained rights for civil servants.

  • Alexander Graham Bell

He maybe Scottish born but he did call Canada home at some point (and held a Canadian citizenship). This great inventor needs no introduction as he brought to the world the great gadget now simply known as the telephone. Not only was he an inventor, he  was also a teacher of the deaf and a scientist.

  • Terry Fox

What Canadian has not participated in a Terry Fox run? This man was a great symbol of resilience and determination.  A Canadian Athlete and humanitarian who embarked on a cross Canada run to raise money and awareness for cancer research, while suffering from cancer himself. Despite the fact that he was unable to complete his run due to losing his battle with cancer, he left behind a lasting worldwide legacy.  The annual Terry Fox Run, has grown to involve over 60 countries, and is now the world’s largest one-day fundraiser for cancer research. Over $500 million Canadian Dollars have been raised in his name.

  • Nellie Letitia McClung

Because without Nellie where would women in Canada be? Nellie was part of the “Famous Five” who launched the “Person’s Case” and fought for women’s right to have a seat and a say in the Senate. She also lobbied for making divorce laws more equitable, mother’s allowances, property rights for women, and medical and dental care for schoolchildren.

  • Chris Hadfield

It does not take a Canadian to know Chris Hadfield. A simple Google or YouTube search will result in tens of videos of Hadfield doing pretty much ANYTHING in space. As one of the first astronaut to bring space to Facebook and Twitter, the world could not help but fall in love with him. The fact that he did video chats with school kids while is space and is currently participating in Movember makes him that much cooler.

  • David Suzuki

David Suzuki is one of the world’s best known environmentalists. He is behind “The Nature of Things” magazine and multiple environmental TV series, radio shows and books. He is a strong and powerful climate change activist who is not afraid to stick it to the government and the world for their lack of action to protect the environment. He is co founder of the David Suzuki Foundation that advocates for environmental sustainability, clean energy, protection of oceans and the fight against climate change.

  •  Roméo Dallaire

Lieutenant-General Roméo Antonius Dallaire is one of the most highly regarded Canadians. I mean, he had the honour of carrying the Olympics flag during the Winter Olympics of 2010, that’s a big deal! As the former head of the UN peacekeeping force in Rwanda, Dallaire witnessed the unspeakable horrors of genocide. Yet, he defied UN orders to withdraw his mission and did everything in his power to protect the Tutsis and moderate Hutus from the genocide brought on by extremist Hutus. It is said that if the UN had listened to Dallaire’s pleas to send more troops, it could have stopped the slaughter of thousands of Rwandans. 

  • Pierre Trudeau

This might be a bit of a controversial one. Despite being both one of the most admired and despised Canadian politicians, he remains to be one of Canada’s most charismatic and haunting leaders. How charismatic was he? Well, he inspired something known as the “Trudeaumania” (look it up!). I mean, John Lennon met the leader and had this to say about him: “He is a beautiful person. If all politicians were like Pierre Trudeau, there would be world peace.”.

Who makes your top 10 list of greatest Canadians? feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section. 

A Little Bit of Good in a Sea of Bad: Syrian father reunited with his son

The man at the beginning of the video is not the boy’s dad, his father comes into the video after the 1 minute mark.

After the chemical weapon attack by Assad’s forces on the suburbs of Damascus, over 1300 civilians were killed and entire families were wiped out. Subsequently, videos showing bodies stacked in rooms, hospitals flooded with the injured, and the horrible side effects Sarin gas had on the victims filled the internet. However, one video, taken by a Syrian activist and raking in viewer numbers after being shared by the Washington Post, featured a little heartwarming moment in a country scarred by the horrors of an oppressive regime.
This video shows the moment a father was reunited with his son after losing him during the gas attack and believing that he did not survive. The video is all you can imagine and more, filled with raw emotions of sorrow, joy, shock, fear and desperation. It does not take a native Arabic speaker to understand what’s going on. The father’s face says it all as he sees his son again for the first time after fearing the worst.

The father can be constantly heard thanking god and the people who brought back his son in Arabic. At some point while he is holding his son in his lap and looking at him you can hear him say “its dad, it’s okay I am here, I’m dad”.

Commentary at the end of the video

During the final couple of minutes the video shows a man dressed in brown wishing Bashar Al Assad all the ills of the world and talking about how he single-handedly destroyed a country. The man sitting beside the father then shares his own sorrowful story saying that he lost three of his kids, his wife and his brother during the attack. The person taking the video asks if they have been found, the man replies with a desperate and tearful “No… they are all dead and buried”. Yet he does not for a second, except when sharing the fate of his family, show anything but happiness for the father and his son.

Warning: the video might be upsetting to some viewers (definite tear jerker!)

Drunk on Petroleum

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Remember how we have been told that in order to improve our job market after the recession we should invest in oil and gas production? shockingly… investing in fossil fuel production is not the right step towards increasing employment opportunities (OR the earth’s sustainability).

Take a look at this blue green report about how Canada can create more jobs by investing in clean energy: http://bluegreencanada.ca/sites/default/files/resources/More%20Bang%20for%20Buck%20Nov%202012%20FINAL%20WEB.pdf

Are White Roofs the New Green Roofs?

Is a can of white paint the answer to the “Heat Island Effect”? Apparently rooftops have become the new “untapped” resource towards curbing certain aspects of climate change.

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According to a report published by the Associated Press, painting rooftops white can reduce temperatures both inside and out. When the temperature on a white roof is measured, it can be 45 degrees cooler than conventional dark coloured roofs. A roof covered with solar reflective white paint can reflect up to 90% of sunlight, as opposed to 20% reflected by traditional black roofs. Thus, lowering indoor temperatures and reducing the need for air conditioning and the consumption of natural resources. Other research reports have also stated that white roofs can save 10 tons of carbon dioxide, which is the equivalent of emissions produced from one car for about 2 years.

These findings have led to the creation of  “cool roof” programs in cities across North America and beyond, especially in regions where the Heat Island Effect is in full force. For example, various neighbourhoods in New York city have implemented this program due to its effectiveness, low tech demand, and low cost.

Are white roof tops really the answer to all climate change problems?

Before canvasing your neighbourhood’s rooftops with white, put down that paint brush and take a minute to do some more research. New studies have shown that white roofs increase the average space heating use more than they decreased average air condition use in Northern climates. This leads to a spike in natural resource consumption. White roofs are also more prone to developing condensation build up, lowering wind resistance, insulation values, and to formation of mold. In areas that experience more than average rainfall, this might be a bad choice as well. A cooler surface will allow for stagnant water to accumulate on these white rooftops. When not drained properly, water can cause membrane soiling and algae growth.

Overall, white roofs are a great environmental initiative that certainly has its place, more likely in southern climates. However, in places like Canada where the climate tends to be colder and milder, painting our rooftops white might just not be that cool.

Are white rooftops the answer to climate change? Would you ever paint your rooftop white? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!