Politics and its Discontents

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Reflections, Observations, and Analyses Pertaining to the Canadian Political Scene
Updated: 8 min 47 sec ago

What If?

6 hours 29 min ago








Last evening, I was watching the 6:00 o'clock news, distracted and perturbed by the howling winds (up to 100 kms. per hour) buffeting our windows. Here in Southern Ontario, about 100 kilometres from the snowstorm that has devasted Buffalo, I can perhaps be forgiven for feeling especially sensitive to increasingly frequent bouts of extreme weather linked to climate change.

Then I was overcome with a real anger whose origin I couldn't immediately identify. But as I thought about it, I realized that it was in part related to the prospect of a power outage, something we seem to experience here at least three or four times a year. There is nothing like a power outage to reduce us to an almost primal state, a state in which our facade of mastery of the universe is brutally stripped away. It is always a sobering and humbling opportunity to realize that, vis-à-vis nature, we are nothing.

Then I realized the real basis for my anger: all of the corporate and federal poltical hostility to taking meaningful action to try to keep the global rise in temperatures within 2 degrees Celsius, the uppermost limit that science tells us might prevent runaway and irreversible climate change.

While our overlords may safely (but temporarily) ensconce themselves as the worst comes to pass, the rest of us will be left to contemd with an increasingly harsh environment, all so that corporate entities can continue to amass record profits, taking all they can before the world as we know it disappears.

Then a thought occurred to me. The Salamander has frequently commented on how we need some powerful symbols, metaphors, and imagery around which opposition to the Harper agenda can coalesce. What if, for all the increasingly volatile weather, for all of the power outages, for all of the floods, for all of the "100-year storms," and for all of the other frequent natural disasters we are facing, Canadians place the blame where it belongs: let us affix pictures in our public consciousness (and in our advertising) that expose the corporate giants and their chief Canadian aider and abettor, Stephen Harper, for what they are: Protectors of a monied status quo that is dooming the rest of us to a life soon to become nasty, brutish, and perhaps short.

What if, when the next wallop of nature visits us, we think of it this way:

This storm is brought to you by Stephen Harper, who refuses to lift a finger to mitigate climate change.

Just a thought.

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Citizenship That Speaks Loudly

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 14:35
Although we live during a time when the term 'citizen' has been largely supplanted by corporate misnomers like 'stakeholders' and 'customers' and 'taxpayers,' the concept of citizenship still lives in the hearts of many. And while we hear all the time about the 'rights' of stakeholders, not often are we reminded of the 'responsibilities' of citizenship.

A recent post of a speech given by Tamo Campos, the grandson of David Suzuki, was one such reminder, as is this one by Simon Fraser University molecular biologist Lynne Quarmby, arrested at the same place as was Camos, Burnaby Mountain, for exercising her right of protest against the activities of Kinder Morgan:



Earlier, David Suzuki himself gave an impassioned speech:




All who see the world solely through the lens of 'market values' should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.
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But Are His Pants On Fire?

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 11:21
That is a question only Bill O'Reilly can answer, but given his veracity-challenged career, I would not his response at face value.

The fun begins at about the 2:40 mark below as Keith Olbermann pierces some O'Reilly-concocted mythology:

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For The Record

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 06:45


About the undercarriage of that busy Tory bus, Star readers have much to say:

Ex-Tory staffer jailed nine months for robocalls, Nov. 20

My sympathies go out to Michael Sona and his family, the latest addition of those people used by the Harper government and then thrown under the bus for getting overly enthusiastic about being a Canservative “short pants.”

This episode should be taught in political science courses the world over as a precautionary tale of how a draconian oligarchy works and how to avoid getting hyped into criminal activity.

At 22, Mr. Sona was a virgin in politics and its black arts, not much different than the ideological youth of his age that want to fall for the recruiting methods of the jihadist murders and go to their deaths in foreign wars. I am disgusted with the trail of maligned and discredited lives left in the wake of Secret Steven.

Next in the Harper government guillotine, Mike Duffy and Nigel Wright.

Stay tuned.

Gord Deane, Mississauga

Democracy has sunk to a new low. Now a lowly cog in the wheels has accepted the blame for one of the greatest failures in Canadian democracy — subjecting an established electoral vote to subterfuge.

To read Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s press release and Finance Minister Joe Oliver’s verbal statement that there was no foul play on behalf of the Conservative Party in the robocall trial brings disbelief. So says me, the trial judge and millions of other Canadians. This is not what I want from the political leaders of my country.
Combine this with muzzling scientists, hiding environmental relaxations in omnibus budget bills and promoting the devaluation of the Canadian dollar adds up to selling out the Canadian future.

Rather than competing on value, our manufacturers would rather compete on a cheap dollar. Instead on investing in labour, equipment and value-added services to increase productivity, a cheap dollar does the trick for our CEOs. All the while taking home huge pay packets and outsourcing labour wherever they can (read banks).

As for the Conservative Party of Canada, I am ashamed to see Mr. Harper show up at G20 meetings full of bluster but without any substance behind him. As for his commitments to provide a solid foundation for the future growth and prosperity of Canada, he now sees the political advantage of disbursing our surplus to the most advantaged rather than building and/or supporting one of these priorities:

A national child-care program to support the real needs of Canadians; environmental policies that address climate change; infrastructure investment across the country that deal with problems experienced by Canadians on an everyday basis – transit, housing, health care and education; a so-called commitment to investing in the health of women and children around the world while at the same time decreasing our aid levels and ignoring the needs of these same groups in our own country; icebreakers and support ships that will be required in the near future to safeguard the Arctic Ocean; and once and for all a commitment to examine crime and abuse, especially toward to aboriginal women.

As for the esteemed economist Mr. Harper, he has bet the country’s future on oil extraction and export at the expense of every other industrial sector and region, despite the government’s abundant advertisements of their Economic Action Plan – such blatant spending with our dollars! Perhaps a more balanced action plan would be more beneficial for all Canadians rather than betting it all like it was Vegas craps.

Man up or turn tail and resign.

John Berry, Toronto

As a voter, I am outraged that Michael Sona is getting away with only nine months in jail for an “affront to the electoral process.” My rights as a voter have been violated and I would have liked a stiffer penalty — and further probe into who might have abetted Mr. Sona in this very grave crime.

Mimi Khan, ScarboroughRecommend this Post

Canada's Fearless Tax Warrior

Sun, 11/23/2014 - 06:30


That intrepid capeless crusader for core Conservative concepts, Finance Minister 'Uncle' Joe Oliver, has found yet another weapon in his utility pouch to save us from the implacable clutches of taxation. Rather than rely on a bureaucracy that may be rife with 'fifth columnists, Oliver has decided to outsource fiscal analysis to those most acquainted with the scourge of taxation, lobby groups!

Our man's courage in the face of sneering opposition is a wonder to behold:
Finance Minister Joe Oliver says the government approved a $550-million tax credit for small business without conducting any internal analysis to find out how many jobs the measure would create.

The minister told the House of Commons finance committee Wednesday that such analysis was deemed unnecessary because it had already been done by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, a small-business lobby group.That 'analysis' claimed the credit would create 25,000 “person years” of employment, a figure quickly deflated by the Parliamentary Budget Officer, concluding the credit would create only about 800 jobs over two years.

Perhaps sensing that his enemies ('the tax and spend crowd') were getting close to uncovering his alter ego, Oliver performed the perfect feint by taking on the persona of a village idiot. When asked by MO Scott Brison why the government didn't undertake its own analysis before granting the tax credit, he said:
“Because we didn’t think that we needed to do another analysis when we already had received one and we knew that this is a good news story for small businesses. The small business organizations have been asking us for a long time for this break”.The colloquy, as reported by Aaron Wherry, continued:
Brison: So are you aware of the methodology they used?

Oliver: We are aware that they have expertise, they’ve spoken to their members and I have had an opportunity to speak to them and I’ve had an opportunity to speak to many small businesses in my riding in Toronto and elsewhere around the country. You know, you may not want to listen to small businesses. We do, and they are the biggest generators of employment in the country.

Brison: So you’re not aware of their methodology they used to come to that number?

Oliver: I am aware that they have spoken to their members and they do their regular type of analysis that you’d expect them to do. I mean, when you invest over half a billion dollars, there’s a macro-economic impact and we’re very comfortable there’ll be significant job creation.NDP MP Nathan Cullen, part of the brigade attempting to derail Oliver's crusade, offered an observation that we can only hope deflected harmlessly off of the finance minister's protective shield. He said
that the minister’s comment shows the government is making major decisions based on ideology rather than evidence.

“They’re outsourcing policy to business lobby groups,” said Mr. Cullen. “Would they outsource policy to the Canadian Federation of Students? Would they outsource it to the national unions? They are now just allowing other people to write policy and spend employment insurance money.”Fighting for one's faith can be a lonely endeavour, but if anyone can gird his loins and carry on, it is Uncle Joe.


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And Now, A Word From David Susuki's Grandson

Sat, 11/22/2014 - 10:03
Tamo Campos, David Susuki's 24-year-old grandson, was arrested Thursday for defying an injunction granted to Kinder Morgan, which is currently conducting drilling tests in preparation for the much-contested proposed Trans Mountain pipeline.

Back at the site on Friday, at the base of Burnably Mountain Campos gave an impromptu speech, the highlights of which follow:
“This is insane, why are we putting our economic system – the market – above the very ecology that we all depend upon? We’re more dependent on clean water, fresh air and clean soil, than the market! It’s the thing that keeps us alive!”

“We have to stand up to unjust laws – to make those the laws, because those are the laws that have always governed our lives. And indigenous people have had natural laws that pre-date colonial laws by thousands of years, and we need to respect that.”
David Susuki is undoubtedly proud of his grandson, writing a letter to and about him. Here is a brief excerpt:
All over the world, local citizens and communities are standing up to protect their ecological, social and economic interests against these invading entities that behave like thugs, intimidating with SLAPP suits and using every legal tool, anything to keep on their destructive path while avoiding the important issues like climate change and threat of spills being raised by protesters.

I say all this to set the action of Tamo and others in context. Tamo is fighting for the world that will be left to his generation in the future. I believe what Kinder Morgan and companies like it are doing is an intergenerational crime but there are no legal precedents to pursue criminal charges on that basis.The following video contains Campos' speech:

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What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Sat, 11/22/2014 - 05:33


Plenty.
When construction crews begin digging a new canal this month across Nicaragua, connecting the Pacific and Atlantic, it’ll be a boon to global shipping and, the government says, to the economy of the second-poorest nation in the Americas. But activists, scientists and others are increasingly alarmed by the environmental impact of a 173-mile artificial waterway—wider, deeper and three and a half times the length of the Panama CanalThe grim facts include:
-The new canal and its infrastructure, from roads to pipelines to power plants, will destroy or alter nearly one million acres of rainforest and wetlands.

-The canal route lies in the middle of a hurricane belt. A storm like Hurricane Mitch, which killed 3,800 people in Nicaragua in 1998, would probably cause the canal to flood,
triggering mudslides that would breach locks and dams. Communities, homes, roads and power lines would be swamped.
Add to that the fact that the route canal will cut across Lake Nicaragua, which is the source of most of the country's fresh drinking water. As a consequence,
critics say ship traffic will pollute the water with industrial chemicals and introduce destructive invasive plants and animals.All in all, this sounds like yet another of the many recipes for disaster that the world is currently contending with or awaiting.





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Score Another One For Rick

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 16:39
Another acerbic commentary from Canada's conscience.

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But Hey

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 09:41
...their sacrifices are helping Harper seduce voters with more tax cuts.

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Putting Us In Our Place

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 06:23
Pit the arrogance of humanity against the power of nature, and nature prevails every time. A pity that those who are determining earth's fate refuse to acknowledge that simple truth.

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Must Be A Form Of Tough Love

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 08:32


For a government that frequently and loudly proclaims its veneration of our military, the Harper regime has a strange way of showing the love:
Veterans Affairs Canada has returned $1.13 billion to the federal treasury in unspent funds since the Conservatives came to power in 2006 — cash that critics say should have gone toward improved benefits and services.In what I'm sure is a mere 'coincidence,
Data tabled in the House in response to a written question shows roughly one-third of the so-called lapsed funds were handed back between the 2011 and 2013 budget years when the government was engaged in a massive deficit-cutting drive.Asked by NDP MP Peter Stoffer about the unspent funds, Veteran Affairs minister Julian Fantino, drawing upon a talent undoubtedly honed through his various career incarnations, responded with a non-answer, saying that the government has spent a total of $30 billion for vets since 2006:
“It means improved rehabilitation for Canadian veterans,” Fantino said. “It means more counselling for veterans’ families. It means more money for veterans’ higher education and retraining. It means we care deeply about our veterans.”If I know the law from watching television, one could characterize the minister as being non-responsive, which allowed Stoffer to offer his own interpretation of the withheld funds:
“The deputy ministers . . . have obviously been told by the higher-ups that, ‘This money has to come back to us in order for us to have our books balanced, and that way we can use that money for other purposes, like income-splitting.’”Not to be outdone, Liberal veterans critic Frank Valeriote offered a trenchant assessment, saying that
ex-soldiers who’ve been denied benefits will look at the unspent funds and feel “hoodwinked, completely abandoned” and wonder why they’ve made sacrifices for their country.

“It is reprehensible and unconscionable what they’re doing so that the government can create an image of fiscal responsibility”.Perhaps in light of what many would describe as a betrayal of veterans, the Kenora Legion might like to rethink the punitive measures it took against Rev. Sandra Tankard for speaking out on their behalf on Remembrance Day. They have clearly misidentified the true enemy here.
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I See That Rob Anders' Replacement Is No Prize Either

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 05:07
I'm sure some hoped that when Rob Anders, the Conservative MP for Calgary Signal Hill and national embarrassment, lost his riding's nomination to run in the 2015 election, he might be replaced by someone with at least a modicum of balance and rationality. Alas, the new torchbearer for the riding, Ron Liepert, is proving such hopes were futile.

An appearance on the CBC's The Current the other day amply demonstrates that while he will fit in well with the ethos that dominates the Harper regime, his 'logic' and his contempt for opposing views will prove to be a deep affront to those who favour reasoned argument over ad hominems:
Debating the Keystone pipeline with Greenpeace Canada's Keith Stewart, Liepert repeatedly complained of "extreme environmentalists" with "extreme arguments" waging "extreme environmental attacks on Alberta's oil industry" for calling for a transition to renewable energy sources.

After labelling critics of unsustainable oil and gas development as "extremists" several times, Anna Maria Tremonti finally interrupted Liepert and asked him point-blank: "Why do you call them 'extreme environmentalists'?"

"Because individuals like your guest would like to see fossil fuels eliminated across the world. That is simply not going to happen. You know, he lives in this dream world where somehow airplanes are going to fly with solar power, how transit in his city is going to be powered by renewables from wind. This is just a dream world that these extremists live in and we have to face reality. If you were to shut down the oil and gas industry in Canada today -- I don't have the statistics in front of me -- but our unemployment rate would probably be pushing 20% in this country. And we'd be living in a dream world that simply cannot exist."
As you will hear in the following excerpt, Stewart responded to Liepert's ranting calmly and rationally, two qualties that I am sure were completely lost on the political aspirant.

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WildRose Revisited

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 08:30


The other day I wrote a post about the Wildrose Party's retraction of its definitive equal rights clause that covered almost every conceivable individual. Although leader Danielle Smith had enthused the day before about its inclusiveness, when party delegates voted it down, she quickly changed her tune, saying that the more generic substitute was better.

In this morning's Globe, Gary Mason offers his own view on what many see as a regressive step for Wildrose, and what he calls yet another 'bozo eruption.":
The change was important for a political institution that is still viewed suspiciously in some quarters. It is widely accepted that it lost the past provincial election when an old blog post written by one of its candidates was unearthed in the dying days of the campaign. In it, Allan Hunsperger condemned gays and lesbians to an “eternal lake of fire.” Ms. Smith lamented the “bozo eruption,” and pledged that the party would do a better job in future of weeding out those with bigoted and narrow-minded attitudes.The policy alteration was designed to do just that:
Last year’s recommended alteration to its human rights policy was designed, in part, to show Albertans that Wildrose is as inclusive as any party in Canada. It was hoped the change would dispel any notion it is not ready to govern an increasingly multiethnic and socially liberal society.The failure of the party is egregious in this regard, and is reflected in its recent loss in the four by-elections last month, which saw all taken by the newly-revived Conservatives under Jim Prentice.
Suddenly, Wildrose looks lost and uncertain. At the convention Ms. Smith blamed the media for many of the party’s woes, accusing news organizations of perverting or ignoring positive stories to instead perpetuate the image of a negative and angry political brand. This takes gall, considering that for much of Ms. Redford’s two-year tenure, the media focused almost entirely on the former premier’s near-constant travails. Wildrose was served up daily opportunities to take vicious, but legitimate, swipes at its main rivals.Surely, part of the blame must be put on Danielle Smith, who after those losses urged a leadership review that was rejected by the party.

Gary Mason ends his piece with this ominous observation:
The decision to reject overwhelmingly a human rights policy change that would have made the party look decidedly more modern and inviting does nothing to help its cause. At one time, Wildrose seemed close to governing Alberta. Now it could not seem further away from power.The lesson for the Alberta electorate, I suppose, is clear. No one should be surprised that when these 'bozos' remove their 'public face,' the same faces peers back at them in the mirror.Recommend this Post

The Latest Addition To The Harper Enemies List

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 14:07
... apparently are army chaplains who speak truth to power.

Although technically she wasn't fired, (she offered her resignation, which was accepted), Rev. Sandra Tankard incurred the displeasure of both her local Legion and her Conservative MP, Greg Rickford:
The Royal Canadian Legion in Kenora, Ont., accepted the resignation of its chaplain on Monday, after some members and the local Conservative MP complained her remarks about Veterans Affairs and Afghanistan War veterans at a Remembrance Day service were too political.

During the Nov. 11 legion service, Rev. Sandra Tankard spoke out about concerns that veterans who fought in Afghanistan are not getting proper care, and then talked about cuts to Veterans Affairs.Here is the offending comment, a very small part of an eloquent speech Tankard gave during her Remembrance Day service:
Our Government has continued to cut funding to the Ministry of Veteran’s Affairs, including removing Service Offices.

Like many other members of the Royal Canadian Legion, I claim my right to dissent against this action, both with my voice and a letter to my MP and with the promise of my vote to the party that would restore that funding to the people and programs it has supported!After the service, Tankard said local Conservative MP Greg Rickford approached her directly and expressed his "displeasure" about her remarks.
Asked what others could learn from her experience, Rev Tankard observed, rather wryly and with some restraint,
"perhaps it is that the freedoms we have to speak are not necessarily as vibrant as they once were."Undoubtedly that is a sentiment Canadians from many walks of life would heartily concur with.






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The Power of Imagination

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 06:24


I can imagine that giant ball being put to a better use, like capturing the hot air that the oil industry is so adept at spewing out, much more of which seems in the offing.

As reported in today's Star,
TransCanada Corp. plans to browbeat detractors of its ambitious Energy East pipeline with intense pressure so that they are distracted and forced to redirect their resources, according to documents obtained and released by Greenpeace on Tuesday.

These documents — dozens of pages — also describe the company’s public relations strategy, which includes detailed background research into environmental agencies that are opposing the pipeline and hiring “third parties” who will be able to do things when TransCanada cannot.Among the groups targeted are the David Suzuki Foundation, Equiterre, Avaaz, Ecology Ottawa and the Council of Canadians, all well-known opponents of the potential environmental despoliation the Energy East pipeline represents.

That TransCanada is planning a dirty tricks campaign is strongly suggested by the fact that it has engaged
the U.S. public relations firm Edelman, the largest in the world, to promote the massive oil pipeline project.As revealed by the CBC,
Edelman suggested a "campaign-style approach" and borrowing tactics from opposing environmental groups that "press their advantage" and successfully use online campaigns to leverage "large and passionate audiences that show a propensity to vote and take other political action."Part of the strategy being promoted by Edelman seems to be borrowed from the Stephen Harper/Joe Oliver playbook:
It suggests a three-pronged approach — promote the pipeline, respond aggressively to any criticism and apply pressure on opponents using "supportive third parties who can put pressure on, especially when TransCanada can't."

It's the last tactic that bothers Keith Stewart from Greenpeace, who originally obtained the documents. He said Edelman is proposing to discredit opponents to Energy East by using sympathetic allies who are being fed information by TransCanada.

"When they actually try to do it in a sneaky manner, having attacks on their critics being co-ordinated by TransCanada but not putting their name on it, that's where I have a real problem," said Stewart in an interview with CBC.Too bad Transcanada has gone out of country for this service. I'm sure Harper Inc. would have been glad to lend its well-honed expertise in such matters.Recommend this Post

Perhaps They Forgot (In)Alien(able) Rights?

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 09:45
The Edmonton Journal reports the following story about the Wildrose Party:
Wildrose members on Saturday voted down a “definitive statement” on equality rights, one day after leader Danielle Smith trumpeted the motion that had been adopted by the party last year.Perhaps its specificity offended some of the party's 'less progressive' members?
Delegates at the Wildrose annual general meeting in Red Deer voted 148 — 109 to reject a proposal to make policy a motion adopted last year defending the rights of all people, “regardless of race, religious belief, colour, gender, physical disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income, family status or sexual orientation of that person or class of persons.”

Instead, party members opted to maintain their existing policy recognizing that “all Albertans have equal rights, privileges and responsibilities.”With the kind of logic and language worthy of the Orwell imprimatur,
Smith described the vote as an affirmation of the party’s current policy, rather than as a defeat of the proposed plank.

“I think that the nature of the debate was that they were concerned there might be something excluded in that long list,” said Smith, who was not on the convention floor for the vote. I think that’s a reasonable position to take. I certainly don’t think anyone should take offence to it.She's probably right. The defeated equality statement did seem to have one glaring omission. There was not one mention of (in)alien(able) rights, and it would would hardly pay to offend these denizens of Rigel V11 :



The farsightedness of Wildrose is indeed breathtaking.
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Just a Little Reminder

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 05:57
While the right enthuses about Dear Leader's performance on the G20 world stage, here's something to bring everyone back down to earth:



And letter writers also have some thoughts to share on the issue.

This from The Globe:
Yes, the U.S.-China climate deal is a really, really, really big deal (Yes, This Is A Really, Really Big Deal – editorial, Nov. 13). Climate change is not just one of the greatest threats facing humanity, it is the greatest threat. With a carbon fee and dividend, we can have a carbon-reducing mechanism, plus more jobs. Since B.C. introduced its revenue-neutral carbon tax, its clean technology industry has been flourishing and emissions per capita are down sharply.

I have conservative values, but Stephen Harper’s closed-minded approach to this issue does not resonate with these values. One hopes the China-U.S. emissions agreement will force him to do something.

Sharon Howarth, TorontoAnd from The Star:
Before he became prime minister, Stephen Harper famously said that climate change was a “socialist plot.” Now that we have the new U.S.-Chinese climate agreement, perhaps our Petro State leader will say, “This is just another plot. Canada sells oil. Let others worry about the planet’s future.”

Anthony Ketchum, TorontoRecommend this Post

Apparently, Nothing Is Sacred To These People

Sun, 11/16/2014 - 09:05
Thanks to Ed Tanas for this:



Ed asks in a tweet why the mainstream media aren't covering this. A good question.Recommend this Post

More Of The Same

Sat, 11/15/2014 - 05:56


In today's Star, Thomas Walkom explains why the U.S. China climate deal is not likely to have any impact whatsoever on Harper's ongoing and egregious contempt for all things related to climate change:
For this prime minister, only one player in the climate change debate matters: the petroleum industry.

When Harper talks about dealing with climate change in a way that protects jobs and growth, he means jobs and growth in the Alberta tarsands.
In part, this is sheer politics. Alberta is the Conservative heartland. If Harper were to be seen as neglecting Alberta, he would risk triggering the same kind of rebellion that destroyed the old Progressive Conservative Party of Brian Mulroney and Joe Clark.

But in part, it is based on Harper’s theory of the Canadian economy. The prime minister views resources — particularly energy resources — as the driving forces of the entire economy.

Under this logic, whatever is good for oilsands producers is good for Canada.Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose Recommend this Post

Would You Hug A Terrorist?

Fri, 11/14/2014 - 11:50

There is no question that here in the West, we like to treat death almost as an embarrassment; we sanitize it, hide it away in hospitals and palliative care units, and conduct our lives with a kind of cognitive dissonance, believing on some level that while it happens to others, somehow an exception will be made in our case.

Not for us the graphic horror of many deaths: severed limbs, exposed entrails, torrents of blood. One need only look at how photos of the Boston Marathon victims were doctored to realize the truth of our aversions.

Unfortunately, in the many war-torn areas of our fractured world, especially the Middle East, people do not have that option. Their lives are often a daily series of bombardments shattering their communities and their lives that cannot withstand even the greatest efforts at denial.

Why are we so isolated from their suffering, their maiming, their deaths? Modern technology, of course, allows countries like ours to attack from a distance, using drones, long-range missiles, etc., the resulting images just fuzzy war-video game images that are broadcast to us. It is all too easy to dissociate from real life and its deadly consequences.

Fortunately, there is a movement entitled Hug A Terrorist that is seeking to combat the depersonalization that permits us to accept obscene terms such as 'collateral damage' with equanimity. It was started last summer by two Palestinian-Syrian girls as a response to the carnage in Gaza to show that the people who are labelled terrorists are often just innocent, ordinary people, many of them mere children:



Yesterday, McMaster University in Hamilton hosted an event inspired by that video. You can click here to watch the news report.

While it garnered widespread support, there were those who objected to it, such as local Harper MP David Sweet, who tweeted that he agreed with [the]sentiments ... [but] considered the campaign "outrageous and poorly timed."

Others felt even more strongly:
[A] handful of other Mac students watched the activity. Wearing a yarmulke, 3rd-year student Zach Harris said he thought the campaign made light of terrorism.

"It belittles the word," he said.

Another nearby student, Sarah Kohanzadeh, said she thought students passing by were uncomfortable with the campaign.

Neither Harris nor Kohanzadeh went across the hall to talk with the pro-Palestinian students, they said. Both of them belong to the university's Israel on Campus group, but said they were watching the campaign in the Student Centre independently of the group.

"We're trying to stay low," Kohanzadeh said.

Jacob Klugsberg, a 4th year student, said he found the campaign offensive in using the concept of terrorism "ironically or in a joking way." He said he did walk across the hall to talk. He said he hopes the campus can be a place where discussions happen to move toward "lasting peace."Happily, unlike in the 'real world,' disagreements did not devolve into violence.

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