Thursday, December 14, 2017

What is net neutrality, and why should you care?

Imagine you're going to try that great new restaurant on Elm Street tonight. You hop in your car and drive there, and have a great meal. Although the restaurant is new, business is booming. They're already talking about expanding, adding more jobs.
That's net neutrality.
Let's take net neutrality away:
You get in your car to go to the restaurant. As you turn onto Main Street heading towards Elm, you come to a gate. The man at the gate stops you.
"Sorry sir, you're not permitted to drive on Main Street."
"Why not?"
"Main Street is not included in your monthly driving package."
"Well, how much is it for me to add Main Street?"
"We don't sell just Main Street access. You have to buy the Downtown Bundle for $39.95/month."
"How am I supposed to get to Elm Street?"
"You'll have to go around by the lake."
"But that will take three times as long!"
"Yeah, that's why most people buy the Downtown Bundle."
"Can I take the highway?"
"Which driving package provider to you have?"
"Oh, sorry. Highway access is restricted to people who use Vroom."
You decide to go the long way, and finally get to the restaurant. It's great. But it's not very busy. It's too much of a hassle to get to.
A month later, you're at a dinner party. You see some old friends.
"Hey, have you guys tried the new place on Elm Street? The food is amazing."
"Well, we wanted to go, but I heard it closed down."
"Really? What happened?"
"Apparently the big corporate chain restaurant on Main Street was losing business to the new place, so they made a deal with the road company and had Elm Street closed down completely. Nobody could get to the new place, and even though their food was way better than anywhere else, they just couldn't stay in business."
"Oh man, that sucks."
That's what could lie ahead without net neutrality. Want Netflix? That'll cost extra. Want Facebook? You have to pay for a bundle that includes Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and MySpace. (MySpace? Is that even still a thing? Doesn't matter, you have to pay for it anyway.) Want to use gMail? You can't. You have to use your ISP's email system. Got a great idea for a startup? Good luck, because in addition to building a great service, you're also going to have to negotiate a deal with your ISP, and all of the already established big players you might compete with will have way more bargaining power than you.
Fortunately, in Canada we still value net neutrality. But so much of our internet traffic originates in or passes through the US, it is inevitable that we'll feel the effects of their decision here too.
Let's hope wiser heads prevail, and net neutrality rules are reinstated, before the internet as we know it is wrecked.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Hundreds gather to pay tribute to Yosif Al-Hasnawi

A heart-wrenching evening tonight, as hundreds filled Hamilton City Hall to pay tribute to Yosif Al-Hasnawi, a 19 year old who was murdered in Hamilton last weekend when he tried to help an elderly man who was being accosted by two young thugs.
There were moving tributes from members of his faith community, local politicians, the president of Brock University, and Yosif's family. I gave a short speech about the scholarship that is being set up in his name. Here's the text of my remarks:
I never had the privilege to meet Yosif. But like many of you, when I heard the news of his bravery, and his senseless death, I was angry and saddened. I wanted a way to channel my anger and grief into something positive. I wanted to find a way to show my respect for a compassionate young man, but also to find a way to say to Yosif’s family, and to the world, that this senseless violence is not who we are as citizens of Hamilton, and as citizens of Canada. I wanted to ensure that Yosif’s loved ones knew that for our community, Yosif was one of us, that he mattered, and that he will be remembered.
 As you know, Yosif was a first year student at Brock University. He was studying medical sciences, and dreamed one day of becoming a doctor. That dream was stolen from him, and his lifetime of helping others was stolen from all of us. We have established a scholarship fund at Brock University in Yosif’s memory. We hope this scholarship will help future students pursue their dreams in a way that Yosif was denied. The scholarship recipients will carry a little piece of Yosif’s spirit with them throughout their education, and on to their own careers helping others.
In just 3 days, we have raised well over $5,000 for the scholarship. We’ve had interest from across the country, and we expect many more donations to come in over the weeks & months ahead. If we can raise a total of $25,000 or more, we will be able to create a permanent, annual scholarship, so that Yosif’s dream can live on through future students year after year.
There are pledge forms at the table. You can also donate online. Details can be found at,, or All amounts are welcome, no matter how small. Donations over $20 will receive a charitable receipt for tax purposes. If you do pick up a pledge form, please take two, and take one to work with you on Monday and ask your employer if they would also be willing to make a donation.
We understand that money can be tight this time of year, and that many of you are generously donating to assist Yosif’s family with expenses so they can take his body to Iraq for burial. The scholarship fund will remain open, and donations are welcome at any time, so even if you can’t make a donation right now, please consider doing so in the future.
And whether you are able to donate or not, each of us can honour Yosif’s memory in our actions each and every day. When you see an injustice on your street, in your community, in your country, or around the world, don’t turn away. Step up, step in, and do what you can to make things right. If we each take inspiration from Yosif’s courage and take a little part of Yosif’s character forward in our hearts, he will have already made the world a better place.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A scholarship fund to honour Yosif Al-Hasnawi

On Saturday, December 2, Yosif Al-Hasnawi had just stepped outside his mosque in Hamilton when he noticed an older man being harassed by two younger men on the sidewalk. He stepped in to help the older man, and was shot by one of the assailants. He later died in hospital.

Yosif was the oldest of 5 siblings. He was a first year student at Brock University, studying Medical Sciences. He dreamed of becoming a doctor one day.

Yosif was also a talented athlete, accomplished in boxing and basketball.

The community has lost a fine young man, senselessly killed while trying to help someone he had never met. We've lost someone who wanted to make a career of helping others.

To honour Yosif's memory, a scholarship in his name has been established at Brock University. Please consider donating to the scholarship fund to help keep Yosif's memory, and the ideals that guided his life, alive.

Donations over $20 will receive a charitable tax receipt.

To donate to the scholarship fund:

Donate online at 

In the box "Please select the designation of your gift" choose "Other", then in the box "If you selected Other, please specify the designation of this gift."   type "Yosif Al-Hasnawi Memorial Fund"

By phone at 905-688-5550 ext. 4190.   

Cheques payable to “Brock University” with “In memory of Yosif Al-Hasnawi" in the reference line can be mailed to:

Development and Alumni Relations
Brock University
1812 Sir Isaac Brock Way
St.Catharines, ON 
L2S 3A1