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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Prostitution is the oldest profession… but really isn’t it just the oldest form of oppression


They say prostitution is the oldest profession… but really isn’t it just the oldest
form of oppression?

St. John's city council has lifted its moratorium on new massage parlours. Council voted unanimously to lift the ban after debate about regulations for safety and employment standards. Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O'Leary said a later conversation is needed on safety of the workers, and amended the motion, seconded by Coun. Debbie Hanlon, to include public consultation.
Look, I support women’s rights.

The idea behind lifting this moratorium and allowing more massage parlours to protect sex workers is ludicrous. These parlours offer sex for money. Let’s not pussy foot around that. They are operated by organized crime. They Chief of Police has confirmed that.

If you normalize the buying of sex, then you are giving more power to the men and less to the women who are abused. If you want to help sex workers then tackle the core issues of inequality, like poverty, mental illness and abuse that leads people into the sex industry in the first place.

Allowing more massage parlours does not give people exploited in the sex trade power or empower them to have ownership over their bodies. It will lead to an increase in sex trafficking. If you remove any impediments to buying sex and normalize it, there’ll be an increase in that act. People from the most impoverished and marginalized communities then get trafficked in to meet that demand.

It is regressive and antifeminist to normalize an industry were women are bought and sold for the pleasure of men. A store in which women are lined up and a man gets to buy the one he wants is not empowering women.

When Canada supported the Equality Model in which only those who buy sex as well as third party exploiters are criminally prosecuted, it was to protect those who are bought and sold in the sex trade and keep them out of jail and provide them with the medial care, housing and other social services to help them leave the industry.

If you want to help sex workers, don’t be ok with men and boys using their socio-economic power to buy sexual access to someone with less power. Instead, the City of St. John’s should provide sex workers with the services they need to heal.

The idea behind normalizing sex work is being ok with buying sex from an 18-year-old. Do we want to say as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that that’s ok?

The men who go to these places don’t differentiate whether you’re in this by choice or if you’ve been kidnapped. They only see dollar signs on the bodies of these people.

This conversation is about power and control over the bodies of the most vulnerable and our willingness to look the other way.

 Just because Vancouver and Toronto are doing it, do we have to agree? Why not be the province and city that says people don’t have to sell their bodies in order to survive.

Research: In Style Magazine/ CBC website/ my own thoughts

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Why I think the right people don’t run for politics



When I was 20 years old, I dressed up as Cleopatra, ‘The Queen of
Yes. I was the
Queen of Denial
Denial’ for Halloween. Yes, I know it’s ‘The Nile,” but I was ‘In denial’ about a relationship, so this was funny – back when you could be funny.

I wore the full Cleopatra costume, complete with the eye make up and black wig. It was a costume, nothing more. I never in any way meant for my costume to be racist, nor did I think anyone else would. Cleopatra is a historical figure. I never gave it any thought.
But because I wore this costume when I was 20 years old, I can never run for politics.

I would be afraid that if my opponent got a copy of that picture of me in a Cleopatra costume, they would call me a racist. Every major media outlet in Canada would run it (because that’s what news has evolved in to).

All because thirty-five years ago I wore thick black eyeliner and an Egyptian beaded headband (which is sold in every tourist shop in Cairo).

Keep in mind this is not a religious garment. It is traditional Egyptian clothing that everyone wore at that time.

My Tina Turner tribute. 
When I was in my mid-twenties, I dressed up as Tina Turner for Halloween. I teased my hair until it was about seven inches from my scalp, used a full tin of Aussie Scrunch Spray on it (It was the Private Dancer 80s Tina). I wore dark foundation and bright red lips.

In no way was I making fun of Tina. She is my idol. She is my spirit animal. I not only loved this woman. I worshiped her. I still do. My costume was a tribute to a strong woman who helped me through the 80s. If Tina ever came back to St. John’s. I would gladly don my black leather mini skirt, three-inch black patent leather heels, tease my hair and use a full tin of hairspray to keep in in place.
I would never make fun of Tina Turner. I am honouring her.

But because of these costumes I wore thirty-five years ago I cannot run for politics.

It does not matter that I am very passionate about what happens in my community, my province and my country.

If these pictures were to be used by my opponent, my reputation would be destroyed. My children would be dragged through the mud. My husband could possibly lose his job.

And then because I’m a woman, I would also be burned at the stake with the “Oh My God she is a woman who hates other women!”
So why would I run for politics at any level?

I am a confident person who could do good things for the community. I am passionate about helping young people succeed.

When I ran a Duke of Edinburgh program there were several young girls in the group. They could not do the overnight hiking component without a female guide. We couldn’t find one. So, I strapped on a 65-litre backpack and hiked the East Coast Trail with them. I hiked ten kilometers a day and slept in a tent at night.

Oh, I also have two titanium rods and six screws in my back and was warned not to do it. But I wanted the girls to succeed so badly, that I said, the hell with it. That’s the type of commitment I bring to kids. (I did have to spend three days in bed afterwards.)

I am a ‘boots on the ground’ organizer, with a track record of doing good work. I would love to bring that to a provincial level. I dream of revamping our education system. I really do.

But why would I want to run for politics only to have my life and my family’s life destroyed? Why would I want to put myself out there so online trolls can make fun of how fat I am, or how skinny I am? Or make death threats against me and my kids?

Maybe this is why the right people don’t run for politics. How can you expect any person to be perfect for their entire life, when we live in such an imperfect world?

Even the Pope has made mistakes throughout his life. But he still gets to be Pope.

We have all made mistakes. I never for a second believed that dressing up as Cleopatra or Tina Turner, two strong women, would be considered racist.

Are we going to judge people by their high school years now? High school is where we learn. It’s where we become passionate about politics or religion or whatever else that interests us.

Now I am not talking about committing a criminal act against another person.

If young people are not allowed to make mistakes, then where do they learn about life?

If you are going to be judged by every picture in your photo album, costumes from school plays and things you did in high school, then we may as well close the government down.

As Jesus said, “Those without sin cast the first stone.”

So put the rock down, we all made mistakes.

If you think you are perfect, then maybe you yourself are Cleopatra the ‘Queen of Denial.”

Monday, August 12, 2019

Operation Vanished/ Operation Wormwood Book Tour: Fredericton and NL


Flanker Press is thrilled to invite you to the Helen C. Escott’s crime thriller book tour.  

Escott continues her one-woman crime spree in the literary world with the release of Operation Vanished: A fictional RCMP investigation into missing and murdered females in the 1950s and why the cases were never solved. 

She will be signing copies of this latest release along with Operation Wormwood, a finalist for the 2019 Arthur Ellis Awards, Best First Crime Novel, by the Crime Writers of Canada.

Wednesday, Aug. 14: Book launch 7-9 PM Chapters, Kenmount Road

Friday, Aug. 16th: Costco 1- 3 pm/ Coles, Village Mall 4:00-530 PM

Saturday, Aug. 17th: Costco 12:30 – 3 PM / Coles, Avalon Mall 4:00 – 5:30 PM

Tuesday, Aug. 20th: Costco 12:00 – 2:00 PM

Friday, Aug. 23rd: Costco 1:00 – 300 PM

Tuesday, Aug. 27th: Costco 12:00 – 2:00 PM

On Saturday, August 31: Westminster Books Ltd. - 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm, 88 York St. Fredericton.

Wednesday, September 4: Coles Bookstore 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm, Corner Brook Plaza and Island Treasures, 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm, Corner Brook Plaza

Thursday, September 5: Gander Co-op – 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm, 72 Elizabeth Dr, Gander

Friday, September 6: Something Special – 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm, 88C Manitoba Dr, Clarenville,

Operation Vanished:
In the 1950s, three young women were sexually assaulted, beaten and murdered. Their killers were never caught. These shocking historical cases have haunted the province for decades.
RCMP Corporal Gail McNaughton is new to the elite Major Crime Unit. She is assigned a stack of historical cases of missing and murder women and children. Each file has its challenges: witnesses have died, memories fade, DNA didn’t exist.

She begins to unravel the murders with the help of Larry Morgan, the archivist for the province and the son of one of the murdered women. Together they come up with a list of suspects who have flown under the radar. People who were beyond reproach.

Operation Vanished is a mind-bending sophisticated psychological crime thriller that will keep you guessing who the real killer is. When you least expect it, a ghost from the past appears.

Operation Wormwood:
An elderly man is carried into the hospital setting off a chain of events that leave you guessing until the end. He is the first of many victims suffering from severe nose bleeds and excruciating pain. The only thing they have in common is, Sergeant Nicholas Myra, an investigator with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.

The story takes a critical turn when Sister Pius informs them about Wormwood: a disease she believes is created by God to kill pedophiles. Is God truly unleashing his wrath on child molesters or is a serial killer targeting them? Just when you think you know who the killer is, this fast paced, intelligent thriller will shock you when you reach the unpredictable stunning conclusion.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

No Change in The Weather – A Newfoundland Musical



Jesus, Mary and Joseph R. Smallwood, No Change in the Weather – A
Newfoundland Musical, is some shockin’ good!

It’s Playing at the LSPU Hall until Aug. 3rd and then it goes on a cross country tour.

Now how can you make a musical about the financial hardships of Newfoundland and Labrador with an impossible debt load, outmigration of over 3,000 people a year, 15 percent unemployment and the Muskrat Falls fiasco?
Well first you take a producer who is a visionary like Walter Schroeder, and an award winning and well-respected director like Ruth Lawrence, then let the incredibly funny Bernardine Stapleton write the script and an innovative movement coach like Lynn Panting choregraph it all. Then to top it off, you get the legendary Bob Hallett from Great Big Sea and the remarkably talented Paul Kinsman to arrange and direct the music!

They are a theatrical dream team.

The story centers around the death of an elderly mother and her two sons. One son who stayed and fished and one who left to join the political cabinet of Premier Joseph R. Smallwood.

The son who stayed, his daughter and friends steal the mother’s body and bring her back to God’s Back Pocket, the resettled island where she came from. Once there, the long-lost son shows up. The two brothers battle it out over whether Premier Smallwood signing the Churchill Fall’s deal was a good thing or not for Newfoundland and Labrador and what it cost each one of them.

Hilarity follows when the RCMP show up to take the body back, but the dead mother decides she is not finished with her two sons yet, as the ‘the night is full of ghosts.’

The show is full of Newfoundland and Labrador folk music that is used to tell the story. Some are well known, and some will soon be well known, but all of them will stay with you. Especially when Kelly Ann Evans sings the unofficial Ode to Newfoundland, Sonny’s Dream by Ron Hynes. There won’t be a dry eye in the house.

The cast is a who’s who of the music, acting and theatrical scene and includes multi-talented artists:  Kelly Ann Evans, Mark Whalen, Paul Rowe, Marquita Walsh, Calvin Powell, Brooke Adams, Keelan Purchase, Vicki Harnett, and Olivia Heaney.

No Change in The Weather will make you feel good about your own Newfoundland roots. You’ll leave still tapping your toe to brilliant musical score and laughing at this incredible cast.

For local tickets go to LSPU Hall 
For cross Canada tickets 



Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Operation Vanished: Why did the murders of so many women go unsolved?


Following the success of Operation Wormwood, Helen C. Escott continues her one-woman crime

spree in the literary world with the release of Operation Vanished.

In the 1950s, three young women in rural Newfoundland were sexually assaulted, beaten and murdered. Their killers were never caught. During the same time period an eight-year-old girl disappeared. Her body was never found. In 2018, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Major Crime Unit executed Operation Vanished, a special task force whose duty was to solve the historical murders of these women and the missing child.

As the Major Crime Unit’s newest investigator, Corporal Gail McNaughton is given a stack of missing and murder files dating back to the 1950s. These crimes prove to be a challenge to investigate as most of the witnesses have died or have aged, memories have faded, scenes were not secured to today’s standards, and DNA testing was not available at the time. The investigation is hampered by the local belief in fairy culture and McNaughton’s own PTSD as she delves further into the details. She discovers that the files may be linked and sets out to prove her theory that a serial killer had been operating in rural Newfoundland and Labrador when these crimes were committed.

 “My main character, Cpl. Gail McNaughton was named after two of the most dedicated and honourable police officers I know: RCMP Staff Sergeant Gail Courtney and Inspector Chris McNaughton.” Said Escott. “These extraordinary women put their shoulder to the glass ceiling and shattered it for the rest of us. They rose through the ranks while becoming two of the best investigators I have ever worked with. I am extremely proud to call them my friends.”

For Escott, Operation Vanished was an opportunity to rely on her significant experience as a civilian member of the RCMP. In 1998, Escott created the RCMP’s Media Relations/ Communications Unit in Newfoundland and Labrador where she became the first female Senior Communications Strategist and Media Relations spokesperson for the RCMP in that province. Escott was able to utilize the vast network of RCMP professionals with whom she had worked and admired to help research the second in her series of crime thrillers.

 “They were always extremely helpful with facts and details. We are so lucky to have two of the greatest police forces in the world right here in Newfoundland and Labrador; the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.”

Escott hopes that in writing this book, she helps to shine a spotlight on missing children and women and says, “No matter what year they went missing, they should never be forgotten.” She says we can’t forget the women who protested in the streets, made phone calls to elected officials, and who fought for the rights of every women who came after them.

Author Helen C. Escott looks at why
so many murders of women went unsolved. 
Matthew LeDrew, a Newfoundland and Labrador bestselling author of several novels and the owner of Engen Books says, “Operation Vanished is the epitome of what an author can achieve with the knowledge and skill to back up their work. Expertly plotted and perfectly executed, Operation Vanished is the missing-persons thriller to end all missing-persons thrillers and a massive achievement for author Helen Escott.”

Operation Vanished is available at:  indigo.ca amazon.com Apple – itunes, Nook, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. Worldwide orders can be placed by calling 1-866-739-4420 ext # 22 or you can send e-mail to eoldford@flankerpress.com

Helen C. Escott’s first novel, Operation Wormwood, was a top five finalist for the 2019 Arthur Ellis Awards, Best First Crime Novel, by the Crime Writers of Canada. Both Operation Vanished and Operation Wormwood, published by Flanker Press, are available at; Costco, Chapters, and Coles; online at indigo.ca, flankerpress.com, and Amazon.

For more information on Operation Vanished, author Helen C. Escott, or for a complete list of where you can purchase Operation Vanished, contact Ashleigh Pardy, Marketing & Publicity Coordinator at Flanker Press, at (709)739-4477 ex. 24 or via email at apardy@flankerpress.com.