What do you do when nobody in Sault Ste. Marie will hire you? You start a business, of course! That's what my friend Greg Boissoneau did. He began training himself to be a Mr Fix-it, and now he's ready to share his talent with the world. If you ever need any of your electronics fixed, call on Greg to do it. Here's his Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/290164644481979/
By Matthew Frank Kot
I'd like to thank the employees of the Sault Ste. Marie Public Works Department for clearing the city's snowbanks! One plow is busy clearing the banks of Kerr Drive right now. These people are doing a huge service for the homeowners of this city, most of whom need the boulevards to put the snow from their driveways. Reports are coming in of seven and eight foot snowbanks in some parts of town! Until Spring starts to melt the snow, I'm sure that the Public Works crews are going to be getting a lot of hours. Be sure to thank them for taking your snow away!
By Matthew Frank Kot
Sault Ste. Marie's unemployment rate, according to a knowledgeable source with inside information in the city's job market, continues to hover above the 10% mark. This inside source tells me not to quote him, because the information is sensitive. Sensitive? It's a NUMBER! Well, unfortunately, some numbers just aren't allowed to be published. Sault Ste. Marie is in a severe recession and the politicians and even the media don't want you to know that.
Two elections are likely going to be held this year. One, of course, is our municipal election. The other, isn't set in stone, but it's becoming more likely with every passing day. A provincial election. Why are elections important? Because we have a chance to throw the do-nothings out and replace them with people who are more likely to bring jobs to our fine city. You can pour tens of millions of dollars into the economy, but sometimes it just doesn't solve the problem. While our rate is 10%, Sudbury's is less than 7%, and Thunder Bay's is less than 6%. We are a border city with the potential to rake in plenty of tourism. We have a Steel Plant. Why are so many people not working?
My expert source tells gives me a one word answer: Infrastructure. We don't have enough space for big businesses to settle in the Sault. Make no mistake, businesses WANT to settle here. We have a population of 75,000 plus a few thousand more in nearby communities like Goulais, Heyden, Echo Bay, Bruce Mines, Prince Township, Thessalon, those small towns. There's definitely no reason NOT to come to Sault Ste. Marie. But we don't have the buildings. The government, they're the ones responsible for bringing businesses to the city. All levels of government, they have a duty to create jobs. All three levels of government have failed quite miserably.
Sault Ste. Marie has the potential to be great. So much opportunity. We can expose the gorgeous nature, the greenery, we can rake in the tourist dollars if our government played the right cards. Instead of acting, the City has conducted stupid little studies and surveys and there has obviously been no progress. There's this plan, called the "Canal District." This better work. If not, I can see every single councillor and our mayor all being thrown out of office in 2018 if our unemployment rate is still this high. The jobless are getting restless. They're frustrated. Nobody likes being on welfare. But thousands of Saultites are. They WANT to work, but no work is coming.
Giant Tiger. The Sault Star, Sault Ste. Marie's only legitimate news organization, reported that the company was looking to build a store here. The problem, like my source said, is that there's no place to go. I emailed the company suggesting that they look into the old Liquidation World store in the east end. They replied that they're still looking. Dozens of jobs could be created just by that one business. Not enough is being done to bring them to our city.
Sault Ste. Marie will one day recover from this recession. Jobs will come. Maybe not this week, nor this month, or this year. But they'll come. One way or another. People are starting to realize that the status quo isn't working. Since 2010, our city has had an unemployment rate of over 9%. People can't be THIS STUPID, they have to realize that things need to CHANGE. And I'm confident that once the people have made clear their frustration, that heads will roll, that businesses will come, and so too will jobs. Sault Ste. Marie will be great again.
By Matthew Frank Kot
Sault Ste. Marie's city council approved a plan that would reduce Queen Street from 4 lanes to 3 lanes, using the leftover space to create bike lanes. The road will not be repaved, but the lines will be repainted.
Many people have been advocating for bike lines for years. I myself used to write blogs about the issue. The city's hub trail system doesn't cover major roadways, meaning that cyclists have to share lanes with motor vehicles on Second line, Wellington Street, McNabb Street, Wallace Terrace, etc. Hopefully these roads are studied to give cyclists their own lanes as well.
By Matthew Frank Kot
"I believe the world needs more Canada," a famous musician once said.
In 2013, for the third year in a row, the global Reputation Institute named Canada the most respected country on the face of the Earth. The most respected country is Canada. Not Australia. Not Norway, nor neutral Switzerland, and sure as heck not the United States of America. No. Canada. Why? Because the people of Earth want to be Canadians.
Why do people want to be Canadian? Well, for one, free health care. Pay a few cents more on every dollar, and you're set for life. If you have a heart attack, Canadian hospitals will not charge you money for surgery. The government pays the hospital bills. In America, millions of citizens have to pay hundreds, if not thousands of dollars just for a check-up with the doctor. Isn't that outrageous?
We don't fight wars. Well, we do, but the government of Canada doesn't spend over a trillion dollars to invade countries for no reason. Canadians supported the mission in Afghanistan because when Al-Qaeda took down the trade towers, dozens of Canadians were in those buildings too. It was truly an International attack. The "Weapons of Mass Destruction" theory in Iraq, it didn't add up to Canada's politicians, and we largely stayed out of Iraq. Canadians keep the peace. We take pride on being the good guys.
Every single person is treated equally. Canada was among the first few countries to legalize gay marriage. Over half of America's states have laws that criticize gays, condemn men for loving men and women for loving women. It's disgusting. Thousands of same-sex couples still come to Canada each year to get married. Racism isn't tolerated. So much culture, so many ethnic groups. Canada offers a home for all people.
Natural beauty. Other than Alberta's tar sands, Canada is largely a gorgeous nation, people like to take the train across the country, explore it. The great lakes are so beautiful, the rocky mountains so majestic. From sea to sea, to sea (we border three oceans,) Canada has few flaws. Nature dominates. The architecture, modern with a touch of history, blended together to make Canadian cities among the most respected in the world. Vancouver is actually in the top 10 most respected cities list with the Reputation Institute!
Canada, we are a great country. We're gorgeous, we're peaceful, we're healthy, we're an accepting society. To you non-Canadians who are reading this post, I really do hope that you're considering a Canadian vacation soon! This June, Toronto is hosting the WorldPride festival, next year we're hosting the Pan-American games. In 2017, it's our 150th birthday! Canada is the place to be!
By Matthew Frank Kot
Right across the river from where I live, is the State of Michigan. I can see Michigan from my back yard! So close, yet so far. I don't have a passport, so crossing the bridge into Michigan, not gonna happen for me. But Michigan and Canada, are definitely intertwined. Whatever happens in Canada heavily impacts the people of Michigan, and whatever happens in Michigan, Canadians pay attention to as well. Right now, all signs point to Michigan legalizing same-sex marriage very shortly. Women can marry women, and men can marry men. That will be a golden day in the state's history.
Fortunately, the Constitutional ban on gay marriage that 58% of Michigan voters endorsed in 2004, people don't agree with that anymore. A recent Michigan State University poll shows that a majority of Michiganers, 54%, support same-sex marriage. That's a drastic change from even four years ago. In 2010, a majority of citizens, they still opposed same-sex marriage. But the opinion polls, that's only one sign.
Last week, a federal court judge struck down the Constitutional ban on gay marriage! It's unconstitutional, the judge said, to force the people of a state to only accept straight marriages. Not too long ago, in the state of Utah, a judge struck down the ban there too! And for a while, gays and lesbians, they were allowed to marry. In Michigan, it won't be long. Same-sex couples will soon have the right to marry in Michigan. Definitely. And it won't stop in Michigan. The dominoes are falling into place. By the end of the decade, by 2020, I'm certain that over half of America's 50 states, if not more, will be accepting gay marriages.
By Matthew Frank Kot
In 2012, the charitable organization Invisible Children launched an online campaign that they say would lead to the capture or killing of Joseph Kony, Africa's most notorious child abductor and terrorist leader. His group, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA,) is a terrorist organization made up mostly by abducted children. The Kony 2012 campaign was aimed at taking down the LRA and liberating the children of Central Africa. Remember how caught up in the moment you were when you watched that video? Remember how "making Kony famous" was a fail-proof strategy? Remember how 2012 turned into 2013, and Joseph Kony hadn't been captured?
Kony is alive. He is in poor health, many media organizations report. He's ill, gravely ill perhaps, but he's still at large. He's still commanding the LRA, even though it's become much weaker lately. He's still planning to capture children, train them to use guns, train them to have no mercy, to kill, to steal, to recruit other fellow children. Kony will not die in a jail. Kony will most definitely die a free man. He must have been laughing at us all on January 1st, 2013. Us western Yahoos, with our military and technology and social media, we couldn't capture him. He won.
Invisible Children, they lost. Their credibility will never be repaired, their organization will never be taken seriously again. Their campaign to "Make Kony Famous," was the most RIDICULOUS and USELESS campaign in the history of history. The charity organization bragged when 30, yes, only THIRTY troops were deployed to Central Africa. Like 30 troops can capture a warlord in a ginormous jungled landscape in a couple of months. No. That was a colossal waste of American taxpayer money.
Yes, the LRA is weaker now. The IC charity organization, they had ABSOLUTELY no role in weakening the army. No. Big business, they're the people to thank. The oil companies drilling in Central Africa for oil and gas, they have hired thousands of Africans, invested plenty of money, millions, into making the area more livable. The LRA couldn't attack an industrialized area, so things went downhill.
And the LRA will continue to slowly die down, until all that's left is Mr. Joseph Kony himself and a couple of henchmen, going from country to country, eluding capture, and Kony, he will be gone from this Earth very shorty, if the reporters in Africa are to be believed. Kony will be dead by the end of the decade. By 2020. And when he dies, Africa will be a much better place. There will never truly be peace in Africa, but the people, they can sleep more soundly at night, knowing that the LRA won't be abducting their children anymore. It will be a much better world without Joseph Kony in it.
Every time my chest gets sore, or a sharp pain goes through my heart, two words come to mind: Heart Attack. Those two words trigger my panic attacks. They happen often, but on days that I eat sugary foods such as donuts or ice cream, the panic attacks are much more severe. Some nights I get very little sleep. I lie awake, thinking that soon the Grim Reaper would take my soul out of my body. I keep thinking, "How painful is this going to be? Will I have to stick a fist in my mouth so that nobody hears my screams of agony? How painful will the inevitable heart attack be?" Those questions, plus "Oh god, I'm dying!" go through my head every minute while the panic attack takes over my body. My left arm was sore, the chest pains were going on, I was sweaty, it had to be a heart attack.
Of course it wasn't a heart attack. I'm still alive. It was all in my head. All in my head. But when I admitted that I had panic attacks, the reactions from others was swift and harsh. According to my haters, I was "psycho," "loony," "crazy," among other things. Only freaks, they say, have panic attacks. I guess two million Canadians and eight million Americans are freaks, because that is the number of people in the two countries that have a panic disorder. Panic disorders aren't uncommon, and people shouldn't be judged for problems that they sometimes can't control.
Panic disorders may feel like heart attacks, but they're not. You may feel like you're dying, but you wake up the next day. Of course, it's always helpful to see a doctor, like I did. A doctor telling you that there's nothing wrong with you, that's very reassuring. I was relieved when my X-ray came back and I had a healthy heart. So when I have chest pains, I shouldn't be thinking "I'm dying," but "I'm going to be okay, this is normal. Millions of people are like me. And they're okay, they're coping, I can too."
By Matthew Frank Kot
Yesterday, I uploaded a couple of innocent shirtless pictures onto a Facebook group. Right away, the comments came. They were flattering. I was cute, I was sexy, I was modeling material. That one comment, saying that perhaps I should look into modeling, that my body had the proper build for the industry, it was humbling, yet I was absolutely disgusted. I would rather not enter the industry of conceited camera-hungry people. No, I prefer to work a job that gives back to society. Almost every occupation contributes something to society. Even stockers at the grocery store, if they didn't place the food on the shelves, then how would we be able to buy our groceries? Police officers, they take down bad guys. Firefighters, they risk their lives to save the lives of others. The same can be said for our military servicemen. Yet unfortunately, their wages are much lower than the wages of models.
The bottom 60% of models make less than $30,000 a year. That's the poverty line. Those people know the struggles of the middle class. The top 40%, however, they make over $30,000. 70% of that 40%, they make well over $60,000 a year. That's unacceptable. That's despicable. That's a crime. Well, not really, but it should be. Models stand in front of a camera. They do not DO anything, except wear underwear or some clothing, and they sit in a chair and get their makeup done for them. While the model is posing for a camera, a few miles away, a doctor is performing surgery on a heart attack patient. A few blocks from there, teachers are educating children, teaching them the skills they need to one day serve the world. Firefighters are dangerously close to the smoke, spraying water at a fire. Some of these people get paid considerably less than the top 10% of models do.
Modeling wages need to be lowered. It's disgusting that a person can make so much money by doing so little. That money could have been donated by the modeling company to help starving people. Give to the poor, that makes headlines. That's a good way to get positive publicity, it's better than plastering some shirtless dude on a magazine cover. And when a little girl reads a magazine, she could see a model, and say “I wanna look just like her!” Promoting body-alterations, that's not cool. People should take pride in what they look like. It's good to look good, but getting paid large sums of money for doing nothing, that's wrong. Lower wages for models, that's the right thing to do.
By Matthew Frank Kot
The government of Uganda recently implemented an anti-gay law on it's people. Gay couples, the African nation's government believes, should be outlawed. Forbidden fro existing. If you're a gay person in Uganda, it's a disgusting situation. Either avoid jail by denying your identity, or be punished for promoting your sexuality. Many, but not all, African and Middle-Eastern and Asian countries have banned gay marriage, and even 'acts of homosexuality.' These 'acts' include kissing someone of the same gender, hugging someone of the same gender if the hugger is not related to the hug-ee, and showing the pride colors in many of these countries is punishable by a long jail sentence. It's even been reported that governments approve the death penalty for 'acts of homosexuality.'
Obviously the Africans and the Asians, they are on the wrong side of history. What they are doing is a travesty, a slap in the face for human rights. Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights, Hillary Clinton famously said. She's on the right side of history. Why can't the leaders of these countries stand up for their gay populations and declare that every human should be treated equally, it shouldn't matter who they love! Killing a man for being attracted to a man, that's barbaric. We are in the 21st century, not the middle ages. The image below shows which countries in Africa outlaw gay marriage and/or 'acts of homosexuality,' and the penalties that these homosexual people face.
The image below shows which Asian/Middle Eastern nations outlaw gay marriage and/or 'acts of homosexuality,' and the penalties that the homosexual people face. (Countries in dark red indicate that those countries allow gays to be punished by DEATH.)
Hopefully one day, gay rights 'activists' will pay attention to Africa and Asia, instead of focusing on an individual US state. American states don't kill gay people. Across the ocean, multiple countries do. And those countries, they need our help. The people in Africa and Asia are the ones being abused for their sexuality. The longer we ignore their cries for help, the more despicable we are for not caring.
About The Author
Matthew Frank Kot was born and raised here in Sault Ste Marie. He first starting writing articles for Soonews.ca in early 2008, becoming the city's youngest columnist and journalist. He then went on to write for Local2, and for a short time had his "MATTer of Opinion" column on SaultOnline.com. Matthew was very involved in the 2010 and 2014 Municipal Elections and wrote several opinion pieces about important issues. In 2011, Matthew started Sault Transit Reform and has continued advocating for a better transit system since then.