Shannon Sampert

  • Aboriginal activists working to rock the vote

    Lorrie Steeves' comments on Facebook two years ago complaining about drunk native guys have turned into a legacy I'm sure even she did not foresee. First, her comments, made known in August at the start of her husband's mayoral bid, started a conversation about racism and propelled Robert-Falcon Ouellette from relative obscurity to third-place finisher in the mayoral election.
  • Conservative fear-mongering keeps our eyes off the economy

    If I were to pay a lot of attention to the messages from the Conservatives, I would be afraid. Very afraid. It seems to be an ongoing theme in any of the prime minister's statements these days. It makes me wonder, why all this talk about fear and by focusing on fear? What is the government ignoring? Here's something I'm actually worried about: the economy, unemployment -- particularly for young people -- and crappy returns on my investments putting my retirement plans in jeopardy. Notice, there's no niqab on that list. Just saying.
  • Harper's hypocrisy and the niqab

    It was almost enough to warm the cockles of this old feminist's heart. Imagine, my prime minister standing up in the House of Commons to speak out against the niqab as being anti-women and anti-transparent. The big bogeyman in Canada right now is terrorism and the scapegoat seems to be Muslims. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper stood up in the House to defend his government's stance on banning the niqab, ostensibly during citizenship ceremonies.
  • Can you hear me now?

    A friend came for a Saturday-morning coffee and as usual, his visit was greeted by a cacophony of barking from my two mutts desperate to say hello and get their heads patted. When things finally quieted down and we were enjoying coffee, I asked him how his week was. And then it happened. The moment every hearing-impaired person hates.
  • You say you want a revolution

    Oh young people -- they really think they have invented everything. Sex. Drugs. Cynicism about politics. Unfortunately, it's not so. Brigette DePape, the 20-something former Senate page who garnered headlines for holding up a "Stop Harper" sign before being escorted out of the Senate and subsequently fired in 2011, spoke at the Free Press News Café Wednesday to talk about youth voting and their cynicism.
  • Mayor needs to consider #whennottotweet

    Brian Bowman is no Naheed Nenshi, that's for sure. Nenshi, the charismatic and popular Calgary mayor, was just named the winner of the 2014 World Mayor prize. The international prize was awarded by the City Mayors Foundation to the mayor who received the most nominations in relation to the size of their cities as well as the persuasiveness and conviction of testimonials received online.
  • Harper's pit bull leaves big hole

    It's the unspoken rule of politics. When politicians resign or die, you say only good things about them, even if you had eviscerated their perspectives hours before. For example, when former Alberta premier Ralph Klein died in 2013, tributes on his years in politics were highly laudatory. Forgotten was the tidbit about him arriving drunk at a homeless shelter and throwing quarters at the sleeping men screaming "Get a job!" And no one ran the infamous photo of Klein giving environmental protesters the one-finger salute when he was Alberta's environment minister.
  • Period taboo busted

    British tennis player Heather Watson, in a post-game interview at the Australian Open, blamed her loss last week on "girl things." She said she felt dizzy and nauseous and consulted a doctor as an explanation for her poor performance. And one more taboo got busted.
  • What would Hillary do?

    What would Hillary do? That's becoming my new rallying cry following a busy week for discussions about women in leadership positions. It began last Thursday, as I attended the day-long SHEDay 2015 conference on women in leadership roles organized by Economic Development Winnipeg and it culminated with me meeting women-in-leadership personified: Hillary Rodham Clinton Wednesday at the RBC Convention Centre.
  • Playing with numbers for 2015

    In some ways, the number of incumbents not seeking re-election can be seen as a bellwether of the party in power. If things are going well for a party, there will be a significant number of MPs who will decide to step down for a variety of reasons, including age, health or opportunity. But sometimes, MPs take a look at the lay of the land and weigh their chances and make the decision to bow out. Gracefully.
  • Government in a party of one

    My best friend got me Party of One by Michael Harris for my birthday this week. Clearly, my friend knows me well. As a political junkie, I thrive on these kinds of books featuring insider looks at politics. Warren Kinsella's Kicking Ass in Canadian Politics and Jeffrey Simpson's The Friendly Dictatorship remain two of my favourites. Harris's books join others in my book shelf (and my Kobo) that deal with Stephen Harper and his legacy, including Tom Flanagan's Harper's Team and Lawrence Martin's Harperland: The Politics of Control. Harper is the only sitting prime minister in Canada who has had, by my count, at least 13 books written about him and how he has changed Canadian politics. Most of them have been relatively negative. Harris's latest is no exception, laying out his argument Harper is anti-democratic.
  • Tories insult victims of massacre

    Geneviève Bergeron. Hélène Colgan. Nathalie Croteau. Barbara Daigneault. Anne-Marie Edward. Maud Haviernick. Maryse Laganière. Maryse Leclair. Anne-Marie Lemay. Sonia Pelletier. Michèle Richard. Annie St-Arneault. Annie Turcotte. Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz. These are the names of the 14 women killed by Marc Lépine, 25 years ago on Dec. 6. It's important to remember their names and to understand why their deaths still resonate for many Canadian women. This year, it seems that it's even more important to talk about Geneviève, Hélène, Nathalie, Barbara, Anne-Marie, Maud, Maryse, Maryse, Anne-Marie, Sonia, Michèle, Annie, Annie and Barbara. Because for some reason, Justice Minister Peter MacKay seems to have forgotten why they were killed and this country's commitment to them.
  • My mother gave the gift of Christmas

    My mom was a big believer in Christmas. As in most families, she really was the keeper of the Christmas traditions, and when Christmas Day rolled around, she was often the first person diving under the tree to open presents. Back in 1963, my family lived in the tiny village of Fort Simpson N.W.T. Fort Simpson is about 500 kilometres west of Yellowknife on an island between the Liard and Mackenzie rivers. In the 1800s, it was a fur-trading site and became an official village when the Hudson's Bay Co. put up a trading post in 1822.
  • Sexual-assault myths persist

    Over the course of four weeks, media outlets have talked a great deal about sexual assault allegations against individuals, both high profile and not so much. Each one of these cases involved historical claims. In other words, victims did not immediately come forward and only now are making their case. Some analysts are suggesting victims have become emboldened by the discussions recently about sexual assault and feel they will now be believed, and so are comfortable to speak out. I say it's more safety in numbers. You can deny one claim. You can't deny five, nine or 16.
  • Speaking to voters

    Oh the political campaign. As things settle into the new normal after the municipal election and we bid goodbye to the mayoral political campaign, we now head into the next election or two with all eyes on the final prize, winning government. Make no mistake. Nothing, I mean nothing, can be taken for granted in politics. Every move, every word, every look can be seized upon and parsed to determine if it's part of a candidate's brand. Don't believe me? Talk to failed mayoral candidate Gord Steeves about a four-year-old Facebook rant. Someone with an agenda hung onto that information before it was made public in the middle of his mayoral bid. And it clearly derailed his campaign.
  • Naming the victim

    Few people have been left unmoved by the attack on Rinelle Harper. Harper, 16, was beaten and sexually assaulted by two men last Friday and left for dead on the riverwalk. She was found early Saturday morning and rushed to hospital in critical condition. The Winnipeg Police Service on Monday took the rare and unusual step of releasing her name to the media, in a bid to catch the perpetrators. By Wednesday, arrests were made. Two men, aged 17 and 20, were charged, not only in Harper's case, but also for a sexual assault on another 23-year-old woman that occurred two hours after the Harper attack.
  • Maybe it's time for a female premier

    Premier Greg Selinger may have a problem with women. The so-called Gang of Five, calling for the resignation of Selinger, is made up of three strong women, Jennifer Howard, Theresa Oswald and Erin Selby. They are joined, of course, by Andrew Swan and Stan Struthers, but make no mistake, it's the women who were running the show, with Oswald firmly in control.
  • Halloween porn: Ghoulish celebration has become sexualized

    Halloween spending is predicted to go up again this year, particularly since the spooky event falls on Friday. Spending on candy at Halloween last year was second only to Christmas, Statistics Canada figures show. Canadians doled out $381 million on candy, confectionery and snack foods last October compared with $451 million spent in December. That's an awful lot of Halloween apples.
  • Still need public face on public space

    "THOSE who occupy our institutions — our public space — are our public face, and that face has implications, not just for those who do not see themselves, but also for those who are affected by the decisions that are made, the policies that are implemented, and the public positions that are taken on behalf of Canadians.” Caroline Andrew, John Biles, Myer Simemiatycki, and Erin Tolley wrote those words in the introduction to a seminal analysis of who represents us. Their edited volume Electing a Diverse Canada compared who is elected with the demographics of the community they represent and determined that across Canada, the faces of those who represent us remain white, Anglo-Saxon and male.
  • The 311 black hole

    In the first six months of Winnipeg's unveiling of the new 311 service in 2009, more than 950,000 people used the service. I think some of those callers are still on hold. OK, that's an easy joke to make. But seriously, when you raise the issue of 311 to folks around the water cooler, you're bound to hear a story or two. The wait times are outrageous. There's no sense anyone's acted on the complaint. You can't call a department directly.
  • A tale of two murders

    A 15-year-old girl's body is found, dumped like garbage. She's described as troubled. She was a runner. She was involved in the sex trade. No, I'm not describing Tina Fontaine, although the similarities are eerie. I am describing Susan Janine Holens, found in a drainage ditch southwest of the city 25 years ago. Her death remains an open case, and she is now one of the 28 names included in Project Devote, a joint project run by the RCMP and Winnipeg police. The project came out of recommendations made by the Manitoba Integrated Task Force for Murdered and Missing Women. Holens is one of the youngest girls on that list of unsolved cold cases.
  • How do we protect aboriginal women?

    Saturday marks the 10th anniversary of Amnesty International releasing its groundbreaking report on missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada. As a white feminist, I have marched alongside aboriginal women to protest the misogynistic violence they face in disproportionate numbers. As a white feminist, I have asked: What are aboriginal men doing about this? It's one thing to look for solutions to violence against aboriginal women from within society. The calls for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women have not abated, fuelled by the death of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine. But for me and others like me (read white, middle-class and privileged), I want to know what men -- aboriginal men -- are going to do to protect their sisters and mothers.
  • How they obstruct your right to know

    There's a carnival game called Whac-a-Mole. You hit the mole coming out of one hole with your rubber mallet, only to have another mole come out a different hole. It's fun, if not a bit frenetic. In many ways, the Whac-a-Mole is a metaphor for how government organizations skirt the public's desire for transparency and accountability in information. When one law is put in place, officials find ways to work around those laws to clip full disclosure.
  • NFL can't 'take the stairs' on violence

    Fox & Friends came under fire earlier this week for suggesting the lesson learned in the Ray Rice case is to "take the stairs" to avoid the release of embarrassing videotapes that end football careers. While the panelist's joke was tasteless and unacceptable, the message may not be too far off. The NFL has been despicable in its response to domestic violence in general and the Rice case specifically, particularly since there is now evidence officials were aware of the video footage showing Rice punching his then fiancée unconscious from inside an Atlantic City hotel elevator. Only when that video was released by TMZ earlier this week did they decide to act and suspend the running back indefinitely.
  • Take suicide out of the closet

    In October 1996, while walking to work in Edmonton, a man killed himself in front of me. It was a life-changing event for me, but when I tried to get the details about who this man was, I was frustrated there was no mention of his suicide in any of the local media. It was explained to me that media don't often report on suicides for a number of reasons -- most notably, concerns about the so-called contagion effect or copycat suicides. But, what are the responsibilities of the media in reporting suicides? Given the high-profile death of Robin Williams and the heart-wrenching story today from Mike McIntyre about Ethan Williams, suicide has certainly been up for discussion, particularly in new social media, online and around the water cooler. What role can the media play in responsible coverage of suicide? Plenty, it seems.


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