Phoenix Riting! – September 14th, 2023


Things have quieted considerably (as anticipated) with the advent of September. Most businesses remain open through the shoulder season with reduced hours, and we are tapering off more gently than in the past. The Farmer’s Market continues through Thanksgiving; a small core of hardy marketers will make their wares available in the Copse, but not I! After this next market, I’ll dismantle my tent and set it up for the Fall Faire, and then I’m finished for the year. I admit, I’m going to miss it.

After a busy and satisfying blur of activity, our winter leisure season, busy though it is in its own way, can be anticlimactic. “Is that all there is? Where’d everyone go?” There will be meetings, of course, radio shows, events, some semblance of social activity, but it’s a lonely season. We’ll settle in, adapt, adjust, as we do, but there is a pang. I personally love the cyclic nature of life on Hornby, not just the seasons of nature but the human seasons too, the rising of human tide over the summer followed by the ebb of winter. Walking the length of Big Tribune Beach in the off season when you’re the only living human around is quite the feeling, and I wouldn’t miss it, but adapting takes time.

On a more difficult subject, I’m struggling with a response to what I learned in last week’s Grapevine editorial, that I had been publicly accused of transphobia in the DIBB, without my knowledge. I never saw that conversation as I was not tagged in it. I don’t know what was said, nor the reason for such an accusation. The definition of ‘transphobia’ as I understand it is, expressing or inciting violence, fear, hatred or disgust toward trans people, which I have definitively never felt or done. My issue, as I have clearly stated, is not about trans people but rather the right to freely discuss changes and ramifications of the rule of law in this country, and the impact on other vulnerable groups who are not being considered.

TIG has been criticized in the past for airing controversial opinions, ‘anti-vaccine,’ ‘conspiracy theories’ and the like, while the editor has, quite correctly, defended the right to free expression within the limits of clear editorial guidelines. Nothing printed in this paper has so far engendered the punitive reaction that my little column from July has. There have been real-world repercussions to the editor for publishing my words of ‘hate,’ while at the same time I’ve received several private expressions of heartfelt support for my ‘sane, fair and balanced’ approach. For these, I am grateful!

Laws passed swiftly can and do have unintended consequences. The punitive silencing of public conversation about feared or actual consequences does not suppress the conversation, but forces it underground, where it festers, distorts and can become real hate on both sides. I fear the potential backlash to our current extreme ‘zero-tolerance for opinions’.

Most ordinary Canadians are confused and full of questions which have no answers except top-down definitions and slogans. Folk are told, in effect, “Because we say so, now shut up.” It’s shocking, the vehemence with which these new rules are enforced, not only by law, but by social pressure and public opinion. Simply raising the subject for discussion is not only discouraged but actively forbidden and punished. What on earth is going on? Questions merely amplify when they go unanswered.

Here’s one problem: we are arming the CPC with exactly what they need to step in with a change of government which would bring sweeping changes in the law. For those of us who are not political conservatives, this is frightening. Remember the Harper regime? The rollbacks of environmental protections and rights? We need to talk.

No law is written in stone in a democracy, and suppression of expression merely empowers the pendulum to swing hard and far. Nobody wants that except actual bigots, who obviously exist. But broad brushstroking anyone with an opinion or questions as a ‘transphobic bigot’ does no one any favours, most especially trans folk. Cognitive dissonance is the rule these days, but pretending the issue away will not prevent a backlash.

I have faith in the power of community. I believe in inclusion, which means everyone, not just the people who agree with me. Real inclusion is not possible without speaking and listening. There is a middle ground between extremes, and I believe that is where the truth lies, but it takes work to discover and implement it. I don’t know how we can manage that, but we have to start opening our minds to people we believe are wrong and listen for the common ground.

Thats what I think. What do you think? Seriously. Email me at