Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Marie Henein is on the Wrong Side of History

Marie Henein is the defense lawyer for Jian Ghomeshi, the former CBC broadcaster, and a former band member of, Moxy Fruvous,

Henein was on The National last night with host, Peter Mansbridge to talk about how she's felt about the reaction towards her defending Ghomeshi from the sexual assaults he was charged with, and acquitted from last week.

In fact, Mansbridge used one of my posts on Facebook during the interview. My quote was, "You are on the wrong side of history, so congratulations on your legacy." You can see it here, and the reaction of Henein. My post comes at 15:44 into the video.

People might say that I could use this link as my 5 seconds of fame, that I could include myself in this hot mess for exposure for my personal gain. But that isn't why I wrote that message to Henein. I wrote that because I believe in equal rights for all human beings, period. Regardless of race, gender, sexuality, religion, or whatever divides us as humans, I believe we should all have the same rights, and freedoms to live the life of our choice.

I believe that Marie Henein  is a wonderfully talented lawyer, who used her platform and talents for the perpetuation of a masculine energy-dominated, misogynistic world we live in to suppress Women. To make matters worse, I believe Henein had a choice in the matter of defending Ghomeshi against assaulting Women. She was already a high priced defense attorney, so she really didn't need this case. However, she chose to defend Ghomeshi, and do her best to win the case. So going into the situation, Henein's intention was to defend Ghomeshi, and exonerate his sexual assault charges with a not guilty decision by discrediting the females who were allegedly sexually assaulted by Ghomeshi.

To be a female, and discredit other females who have been allegedly wronged or assaulted by a man, and then CHOOSE to defend him in that process is absolute madness! Then in this interview with Peter Mansbridge, Henein questions as to why men are not viewed as people who betray their gender, yet Women are. So let me explain this in how I see it.

I've never understood why Women trust men. Statistically speaking, men are Women's #1 predator in life. Men have suppressed Women for thousands of years out of fear. So, to say that it's a "Man's World" is fairly accurate. Men are afforded a "privilege" not afforded to females in North America, let alone anywhere else in the world.

So to draw a comparison, if I were a penguin, I know that my #1 predators are leopard seals, and sharks. It's a full time job to steer away from these predators for obvious reasons. Penguins need to stick up for each other because they are the hunted species. So imagine how difficult the situation would be for the penguin who lives in fear of being eaten and attacked by their predators, if the penguin also had to be aware of other penguins who were selling them out to the leopard seals and sharks. Marie Henein just so happens to be doing this exact thing.

That's the summary of what most Women have to deal with lawyers such as Marie Henein out there defending people like Jian Ghomeshi from assaulting Women, who they thought they liked. Not only do Women have to deal with misogyny, they also have to deal with Alpha females living in a masculine energy dominated world as predators as well. How sad...

And THAT, is the difference Marie Henein, as to why men don't get judged for beating other men. Predators or gladiators who live in that game accept that as a casualty of war for playing in that game. They realize that if you step into that ring, expect to be attacked because it's a violent world that men play in. Most females don't want to play in that game, and I don't blame them. You however, have chosen to play in that game, and that's your right. But when you question as to why other men or gender is questioned to your motives, it's because Women need your help, NOT men like Jian Ghomeshi who allegedly hit Women, and then hid behind their choice of sexual appetites. In short, you are furthering the abuse that it is acceptable for men to sexually assault Women, and that's just not acceptable in 2016.

There is a new awareness coming to us for the equality of all humans. You can be on the right side of history, or you can choose to be on the other side of it. I believe that Marie Henein just put herself on the #WrongSideof History


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Marco Muzzo Gets Sentenced to 10 Years

Marco Muzzo leaving the Courthouse
Marco Muzzo was sentenced today to ten years, less time already served, for his D.U.I. incident which killed 3 young children, and their grandfather. He was also given a driving ban for 12 years when he is released from jail.

No amount of jail time, or sentence could ever cause this situation from being tolerable. It is a sickening feeling for all involved, and unfortunately there's nothing that will undo this. That's the reality.

That being said, we will now see if Marco Muzzo walks the walk, and talks the talk. He was given his sentence. He admitted guilt as quickly as he was able to do so. He's served 6 months in jail already, and he issued a letter of apology to the Lake family. So far, Muzzo has done everything he could do to show remorse for his actions.

Marco Muzzo's letter of apology

So here is where the rubber meets the road. In the aftermath of this horrific situation, the actions of Muzzo will dictate how he will be judged. If Muzzo does his jail time, and comes out to live his life the way he lived it going into trial, the Lake children may have died in vain.

However, if Muzzo really wants to live the rest of his life atoning for his actions, he will begin public speaking to school kids about the consequences of drinking and driving. If Muzzo dedicates the rest of his life to raising awareness towards the consequences of drinking and driving, the altruism of preventing situations like this from happening again are improved. Just this weekend, York Regional Police arrested 13 people in drinking and driving cases. So the message still isn't clear. We need to use this case so the world will wake up and cease the madness of drinking and driving.

There is nothing that will ever bring the lives of the Lake children back. However, if there is a silver lining in all things, perhaps we can find something to make the world realize that drinking and driving is never an option, and that moving forward, cases like this raise more awareness as to the consequences of it.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Marco Muzzo Sentencing, Drinking and Driving and Forgiveness

Marco Muzzo will be sentenced on March 29, 2016

Few stories in Toronto are as haunting as the horrific tale of Marco Muzzo. He was speeding, ran a stop sign, collided with a mini van, killed 3 young kids, their grandfather, and injured 2 others. Oh, and to add insult to serious injury, Muzzo happened to blow over three times the legal limit on the blood-alcohol test. This is a story of drinking and driving, and the power of forgiveness.

In a day and age when we think the message of drinking and driving has gotten through to the masses of people in today's society, something awful like this happens, and we stop to re-think. Although this is the poster child case for the consequences of drinking and driving, I want to focus my point on what I think could be an altruistic opportunity that sits right in front of us. 

Before I start, I want to mention that I can't even begin to empathize more with Jennifer Neville-Lake, and her husband Edward Lake. Their lives will forever be affected by the decision of Muzzo's poor choice. I can only imagine it's an absolute nightmare to live in each moment knowing that all of your children are no longer with you, and how horrific that would be. So I'm sending out Love and light to them for this experience they are moving through. 

Watching the Lake family give their interview after the trial was challenging, because all I could think is, "what would I do if that happened to me?"

And that's what I want to talk about here. 

Starting with Marco Muzzo, the villain in this case. It's easy to look at a person who is the son of a billionaire, see pictures of him behind the wheel of a Ferrari, see what he's done to the Lake family and hate him. That's the easy part. Yet that's not where my mind and thoughts go. 

I look at Muzzo and have a great deal of empathy for him. I can imagine how some people could read that last line and get really upset too. I can hear them now, "How can you feel sorry for a man who has single handedly destroyed an entire family, and robbed them of their 3 kids and grandfather?!" And to these people I would say this, "I can say that I have empathy for Marco Muzzo because I know that in my own life, I have made really, really poor decisions that could've happened exactly as this. Luckily for me, I just never got caught." In fact, I think we can all admit that statement in some way or another.

I can admit that in my 20's I probably drove drunk. I've fallen asleep at the wheel on long distance drives, or not been aware at the wheel, and avoided serious accidents. I could have easily killed a family like Muzzo did, and paid for it for the rest of my life. Instead, I was fortunate to escape a similar situation.

For those people who drink, you know all too well how alcohol can cause a loss of control of senses, judgment, and your worst nightmare coming true. We've all made some pretty dumb decisions because we were drinking. In fact, if you can say honestly that you haven't done things in your own life and not been caught in the impact of it, you're better than me. So I can say that I'm truly fortunate that I've escaped that experience even though I made similar choices as Muzzo.

Muzzo's letter of apology

So Muzzo now has a life long mission of being attached with the label that he killed a family of young kids and their grandfather. That's a title that never goes away. As far as I can see it, the only workable course of action that Marco Muzzo can take is to dedicate his life to is a platform to raise awareness for the consequences of drinking and drinking. He will be sentenced on March 29, and receive his term. When he is eligible for parole, he could dedicate himself to speaking to kids in schools about his story. One of the only silver linings in this story is that other mothers, fathers and families might not have to go through this experience ever again because of this. 

There is no way to reverse the circumstances in the past. So only by raising awareness to this story can it be prevented in the future. The sentence of Muzzo will not be a deterrent to others who continue to drink and drive. But educating the youth with powerful, courageous stories like this might. Will that atone for Muzzo's decisions? Nope, nothing ever will. Yet at least the Lake family can know that future families and children are spared the same fate. That would at least be a step to ensure these children did not die in vain. 

I don't think for one second that Marco Muzzo woke up that day, and wanted to do what he did. I don't think he thought in his wildest nightmares that it would ever end up like it did. He now wakes up everyday knowing the impact his poor choice cost, and he can never escape it, nor ask for a do-over. He has to live with that choice for the rest of his life as a sort of prison term. he may not be able to forgive himself moving forward, but he must! And we as a society can grant him that forgiveness, and deliver support to him. This isn't condoning what he's done, but it's freeing him and other up so the healing process can begin.

In many ways, he and the Lake family are partners in using their stories as a powerful tool in deterring drinking and driving. If they are able to forgive, starting with Muzzo himself, and by the Lake family forgiving Muzzo, they can start the healing process, and they can use the death of the Lake family children for a greater cause by preventing it from happening in the future.  

Jennifer Neville-Lake said, "Forgiveness is ... not like a piece of clothing you can put on. It's a process." 

The new chapter in their lives starts with the power of forgiveness. I hope both families find that forgiveness, and peace of mind. I hope that drinking and driving has claimed its last victim, and I hope the world sees the power of forgiveness.

Removing society's contempt for Marco Muzzo enables him to move forward and begin his Journey, and how he can move forward to make a difference in other people's lives. So I forgive you Marco Muzzo. I sincerely hope you find that peace of mind. 

Lastly, I hope the Lake family is left with wonderful memories of their children. I hope they find their peace in this challenging experience. I hope they find it in their hearts to start with forgiveness, so that their children might live again, and I wish them all the best rebuilding their lives together.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Jian Ghomeshi, The verdict and the Aftermath

In the aftermath of the Jian Ghomeshi verdict, my heart aches.

My heart aches for so many reasons, and yet none of the reasons have to do with the verdict. The Judge's decision on a basis of Canadian law made perfect sense. Even though I disagree with the outcome and decision, the basis of how the Judge came to that decision is understandable, and accurate. In fact, the Judge's decision could enable Women to understand a greater, more beneficial avenue to justice. So in that sense, although this appears like a defeat, Canadian law is one step closer to justice for equality for all to live in a safer country.

Before I start, it needs to be said that these Women who came forward were brave and courageous. They told their experiences, and had to relive memories they most likely suppressed.  I have no doubt that they were haunted and scared about the fallout they would go through, the judgement they would endure, and for how they responded to the sexual abuse.

But herein lies the issue. It took courage and bravery to come forward, and it was going to take much more than that. It was going to take vulnerability, honesty, faith and forgiveness. The Women who testified didn't come from that space. Instead, they seemed to come from a space of vengeance, which is understandable for what they endured, but was ultimately ineffective. It simply created reasonable doubt for the Judge to clear Ghomeshi of all charges.

Marie Henein was a master at discrediting the witness's credibility to create reasonable doubt. The Women on the stand were only going to be believable if they gave full disclosure of their experiences, and the justifications they had at the time for doing so, AND not be defensive about it.

If these Women gave their testimony from a place of authentic vulnerability knowing that their experiences, although horrific for them to go through, would save future Women from going through it, it would be more believable than the "I want to make Jian Ghomeshi pay for this" delivery, and take the element of collusion out of the equation.

By not including information by omission, it creates reasonable doubt. It creates the illusion of hiding something, and that creates reasonable doubt. This case was won solely on the factor of the witnesses testimony, and whether or not reasonable doubt in their reactions or behavioural analysis was believable. And in that example, case law won.

If that was the case, this case would've been judged on a basis of, "On a scale of yes or no, did you hit the defendant?" There is no ability under Canadian law to make abuse consensual. However the defendant behaved afterwards, is a moot point. Whether they sent pictures of themselves in red bikini's, said they Loved his hands, or whatever.

How these Women coped with his abuse is an individual response to what they thought they wanted in the moment, and what would make them feel better. Consistent with abuse victims, logic is not a strong indicator in why they stay with their abusers. You show me an example in your own life where you should have made a different choice in your own relationship when your feelings were altered by adoration or Love, and I stand clear on my point.

The reason these Women didn't disclose their embarrassing behaviour choices is inherent in our society in how we judge Women. It was obvious in the cross examination by Marie Henein, in how she attacked these Women with shame, judgement, and contempt as to why they behaved in a manner that defied all logic. These Women probably couldn't tell you why they had contact with Ghomeshi after his alleged abuse of them. They reacted consistently as many victims react to their abusers when they think there is goodness inside them. They wanted to change his heart. They wanted him to have kindness, not the contempt he had. Consistent with many Women, they wanted Ghomeshi to be how they envisioned he COULD be, not who he really was; a tormented weak man, who allegedly abused Women and hid behind the curtain of sexuality to justify it.

These Women projected fear in not sharing the full disclosure of their experiences because of the judgement they would face in the aftermath. They knew their behaviour couldn't be justified in retrospect. They probably didn't know why they stayed with him, why they gave him second chances, or why they tried to appease his violence with pictures of red bikini's. They didn't want him to be abusive, and they hoped they could change him. Classic behaviour from a good-hearted Woman with a weak male partner. The problem wasn't that Ghomeshi didn't want to change, it was the Women wouldn't recognize or accept that Jian Ghomeshi was a predator, when they didn't want him to be one. Weak men like Ghomeshi will always exist. The power isn't about making men like him change, the power is in recognizing it, and letting him move past you, well and clear of your life.

If the prosecuting attorney would have prepared each Woman by saying something like, "I know that you want Jian Ghomeshi to pay for his actions. The best way in doing this is by being completely transparent about your illogical behaviour, and the justification as to why you still wanted to have contact with him afterwards. Being authentic will create empathy and allow others to see your story and connect with it. Being defensive will only smear reasonable doubt and question your motives. If you are doing this for yourself, you will be angry. If you are doing this for all Women, and want to change Canadian case law forever, your story can be used to save them the same experience you endured."

If the witnesses had understood this, perhaps the trail would have gone differently. Instead, they withheld information, and had inconsistencies which created reasonable doubt in the eyes of the Judge. All our law system requires is a reasonable doubt, so although I believe the Women, the Judge's decision was the accurate one according to Canadian law.

Moving forward, this case has shown that we know what it takes to remove reasonable doubt. It stems from the power of forgiveness and understanding. Not because Ghomeshi deserves it, or his behaviour is condoned, but because the Women deserve it. They deserve to allow Ghomeshi to stop living in their heads, rent-free. It's a burden that can be released, and then peace of mind will find them. I wish that for every person who has suffered at the hands of an abuser. The Journey it creates is an arduous one, but the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is the reward.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Death of Rob Ford

Rob Ford has passed away today at the age of 46. As death will come to each and every one of this, I feel very empathetic to his family and friends in their time of loss. I think one consistent trait that we do as human beings is edify people who have passed away, out of respect for their memory or legacy. So it is not my intent to drag Ford's legacy down. I think the way Rob Ford lived his life will dictate his own legacy.

However, as people write about his death and memorialize him, I cannot stand by, idly quiet and not call a spade a spade without apologizing that it's black and pointy.

When Rob Ford was elected, the first thing I thought was, "If he cannot manage his own obese body, how can he be expected to manage the 10 million people in the Greater Toronto Area?" As these things go, the spotlight was again and again thrust in Ford's face, where he failed over and over. He was caught up in scandal after scandal, appeared drunk in numerous video clips, didn't represent the people of Toronto in the Gay Pride Parade, which is the single biggest festival revenue generator Toronto has. He didn't represent the people of Toronto, he represented them when he agreed with them in his own morality. He lied, he cheated, he was ejected as Mayor, which he won back on a technicality upon appeal. He was many things to Toronto, but showing his individual ego and pride was the one thing which showed up. Simply put, it was all about him, and he alienated himself with his limitations. Only when confronted and backed into a corner, did he appear to be vulnerable and honest.

Rob Ford simply didn't have the tools in his life to go under the microscope, and survive the turmoil of how misogynistic and homophobic he was. I think winning the election to be Mayor probably put him under so much stress it eventually took a toll on his body, and lead to his eventual death.

I believe the city of Toronto deserved better than what Rob Ford could offer. That's not slighting Ford in any capacity that he served. It means that it takes a certain kind of personality, and charisma to be an elite leader. Being Mayor of Toronto is almost the equivalent to leading the populations of Denmark, Norway and Finland combined. That's a serious responsibility. So a leader with the issues Ford demonstrated just doesn't or couldn't effectively serve the people who elected him because he hadn't done the work on himself. If you can't help yourself, you can't help anybody.

On the other hand, a Father, Husband, Son, Brother and man has passed on. I hope that Rob Ford found peace in his final moments in this life. I hope he found forgiveness, and Love. I wish that for every human being in their Journey, because none of us are getting out of this alive.

Yet I think it's important to learn from examples. Good or bad, Rob Ford left me with great examples.

To where you are, Rob Ford. God speed in your next Journey.

Rain: A Tribute to The Beatles

         Rain, left to right: Steve Landes, Aaron Chiazza, Alastar McNeil & Paul Curatolo

Rain A Tribute to The Beatles, is perhaps the greatest concert I've ever seen live. I understand that's a bold statement, considering I've seen some of the world's biggest bands, like U2, Coldplay, The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith and the list goes on. 

The reason I say that is that the experience Rain leaves you with is nothing less than magical. Rain sends you back in time, and gives everyone the ability to see what The Beatles looked like, whilst experiencing the music The Beatles were never able to replicate on stage. 

The show starts off with Rain sporting the suits The Beatles wore on their 1964 debut tour in America, and on the Ed Sullivan Show. I had the chance to interview Rain backstage, and I noticed the attention to specific detail in their attire was spectacular. From their make up, the Beatle boots, suits and hair, every detail has been combed over to ensure the integrity of the show.

I call this combination, "Icing and cake." The icing is the show, which includes the costumes, and the visual experience of being transported back in time seeing The Beatles. The stage presence that each member has is an art in itself. Each member of Rain is true to their character on stage, down the the smallest nuance. As musicians and artists, they put aside how they individually would play their instruments, and take on the distinct style in how The Beatles played and acted. So not only do they need to master their instruments, they need to master the characters they are portraying, who just so happen to be the most popular band in history. No easy task!

To me, their most spectacular attribute is Paul Curatolo, who portrays Paul McCartney. Curatolo is a second generation Rain member, as his father, Joey Curatolo played McCartney for many years with Rain. However unlike his father, Paul Curatolo learned to play the bass guitar left-handed, despite being right handed! As a member of the audience, my brain is never distracted looking at a right handed Paul McCartney, which many other Beatles tributes bands have. A left handed Paul McCartney is a must in this show! Rain has recognized this, and addressed it perfectly. Curatolo is an animated, and charismatic McCartney who interacts well with the crowd. He simply nails McCartney in a way I've never seen before.

In fact, each member of Rain places their own personality aside, and remains true to the Beatle they are portraying. Drummer Aaron Chiazza who plays Ringo Starr, bobs his head, smiles and plays the kit in the style which emulates Starr perfectly.

The silent Beatle, George Harrison is portrayed by the newest member of Rain, Hawaii native, Alastar McNeil. I can imagine being flanked by Lennon and McCartney, and being the guy in the middle who doesn't get his due, would be over shadowing. But Rain includes 3 straight songs where Alastar McNeil gives us the special gifts true to George Harrison, and shares that with us in a way where you hear, and feel George Harrison.

Finally, long standing Rain member, Steve Landes delivers John Lennon in every way that masters the performance of a musical icon. Landes' portrayal of Lennon's assertive confidence, witty banter, silly stage moments, which includes Lennon's open jacket performance at Shea Stadium are small, intricate details which will impress even the pickiest Beatles fan critic. Landes' mastery of Lennon is known world wide, and you can see why.

The cake is the music. This is where the show distinctly betters itself from any other Beatles Tribute band I've ever seen. The magic man behind the Fab Four is Mark Beyer, who is the George Martin of the stage show, giving Rain its distinct studio sound, which is note for note like The Beatles albums. Beyer's backing strings, horns and studio manufactured sounds which the late George Martin used to revolutionized music, are the glue which ensures the integrity of the show. In many ways, Mark Beyer is the "Fifth Beatle" who might not receive the acknowledgement he rightly deserves.

The show starts with early classics like, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" "From Me To You" "She Loves You" "Twist and Shout" and one of my personal favourites, the ballad, "If I Fell", before transitioning to the Sgt. Pepper's Lone Hearts Club Band set, complete with wardrobe and instruments changes. There were at least 4 different eras Rain covers, and in between set and wardrobe changes, the audience is entertained by a video screen covering ads, and videos from the 60's which keep us immersed in the experience of the 60's all night.

The final 2 sets covered songs from the "White Album", and the "Let it Be" Album, before ending the show with the Abbey Road song, "The End" finishing the show with the immortal words, "And in the end, the Love you take, is equal to the Love, you make."


Rain returned for an encore and ended with, "Hey Jude." It was an interactive set, and had everyone on their feet singing and swaying with their hands in the air. Rain pumped the room full of magic, and the audience was left with every ounce of energy in the Beatles catalogue. Ultimately, the song and the show ended, but the experience Rain left me? Well, I won't forget that experience, ever.

Thank you Rain, for delivering a wonderful customer service experience in your tribute to The Beatles. You are icing and cake, in the dauntingly impossible task of replicating the world's most renown band. Well done!

                 Chuck Bastie backstage with Rain at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto