Politics and its Discontents

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Reflections, Observations, and Analyses Pertaining to the Canadian Political Scene
Updated: 37 min 55 sec ago

Embracing The Veil

8 hours 48 min ago

H/t The Toronto Star

While our prime minister claims, when attacking the niqab, that Canadians hold openness and transparency as societal values, he is happy to keep us in the dark about all of the secret negotiations going on to conclude the highly controversial Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, leaked elements of which suggest we will be ceding a great deal of our sovereignty to multi-nationals.

Meanwhile, Mr. Harper is adopting a 'trust me' strategy, saying that no deal will be entered into unless it is a net benefit to Canadians, an assertion that others find hard to swallow, given that he has never met a multi-national that he doesn't like.

Thinking Canadians will legitimately ask why, if the deal is to be so beneficial, the negotiations have been conducted behind such a thick, almost impenetrable, veil. To those who distrust our government, the answer is likely very clear.

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Lifting The Veil

Sat, 10/03/2015 - 08:05
Lifting the veil behind what has become a major part of the Tory re-election strategy reveals nothing good. Consider, for example, this shameful announcement by party stalwart Kellie Lietch, who has yet to meet a Harper directive she doesn't salivate over:

In other words, the directive has gone out: surveil your Muslim neighbours and acquaintances and report on their foul and quite possibly nefarious practices. They are not to be trusted. What makes this announcement even more reprehensible is that it is being peddled under the pretext of helping vulnerable women and children, two groups the regime has shown little more than passing interest in up to this point.

Fortunately, not all are responding in the desired manner to this Pavlovian bell. Twitter reaction was fierce, as a few excerpts demonstrate:
Trying to convince citizens that people of a specific race are toxic. Don't let history repeat itself.

Trying to convince citizens that people of a specific race are toxic. Don't let history repeat itself.

The Canadian media better start calling this #elxn42 strategy what it is: racist. And they need to use that word.

Ignoring expert advice on refugee health care, crime prevention, harm reduction and climate change.

Is the #BarbaricCulturalPractices tip line open yet? I'd like to report someone for overusing a dog whistle. And yet, despite the ability of some Canadians to see through this low tactic of stoking intolerance to win votes, it continues to deeply trouble me that we have a government so bent on twisting and perverting the national fabric for its own mercenary ends. In the process, incalculable damage, in my view, is being done to our collective psyche.

And we surely lack all perspective, especially in rewarding Harper with increased support for his politically motivated intransigence on the niqab. As Susan Delacourt points out,
... the magic number is two. That’s the total number, out of nearly 700,000 people, who have wanted to wear face coverings in citizenship ceremonies, according to a Radio-Canada report.

So all this agitation over the niqab, all the fierce declarations of what the majority in Canada wants at citizenship ceremonies, is about fewer than a handful of people. Except that it isn’t about those two people; it is about tapping into support that any responsible politician shouldn’t want. ... no party in this election ... should be whipping up antipathy to Muslims, or any religion or culture. It’s repulsive if it works and even more repulsive if it was planned to work that way. Today's Star editorial offers similar sentiments, and points out the diversionary nature of such tactics:
... these spiteful Conservative policies — hound Muslim women, strip Muslim wrongdoers of basic human rights, shove Muslim refugees to the back of the line — have hijacked and distorted this election. They have blotted out the sun when Canadians face important choices on the economy, jobs, accountable government, social investment, fair taxation and the environment.

The relentless, divisive harping on largely fabricated “Muslim problems” may help the Conservatives get re-elected. But it is unworthy of the Government of Canada, it is socially corrosive, and it confirms the Tories’ unfitness to govern.That the current incarnation of the Tories are unfit to govern is beyond dispute. We can only hope droves of other Canadians are coming to the same conclusion.

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He Sounds, On The Surface, So Reasonable

Fri, 10/02/2015 - 07:21
As I lamented in yesterday's post, the issue of the niqab at citizenship ceremonies is apparently responsible for a resurgence of support for the Harper regime, whose leader has ruthlessly exploited the issue to his political advantage. Playing upon people's prejudices against 'the other,' Harper is appealing the court ruling against a ban on its use. The fact that this single issue should sway a significant proportion of the electorate, I think, speaks for itself when pondering our collective natures. We may not all agree about the niqab, but it should not be a defining issue, except perhaps to the extraordinarily small-minded.

Sometimes appeals to our prejudices come in much less blatant form. Such is what I believe I witnessed last night as Rex Murphy pontificated on the niqab issue. Take a listen, and see if you agree:

On the surface, Rex sounds so reasonable, doesn't he? But if we remember that appeals to symbols of citizenship, patriotism, etc. are all arrows in the quivers of demagogues both past and present, his observations and suggestions take on a more sinister cast. Consider his reference to the citizenship ceremony as a "civil sacrament." Powerful stuff, mixing religious and secular metaphors, especially for those who allow emotion to prevail over intellect. In other words, this quasi-religious ceremony, if we follow the subtext, is in danger of being blasphemed by the Muslims. His reference to "patriotic allegiance" also invokes the spectre that perhaps, if they are hiding their faces, they really aren't going to be that patriotic or loyal to Canada.

Murphy also points out they are insisting upon 'specialized treatment,' in breaking with the traditions of the ceremony. Cleverly, for his purposes, he makes no reference to our laws, which permit the use of the niqab. Then there is the suggestion that if the niqab wearer's insistence on her 'rights' (pretty uppity of her, don't you think?) is such a deeply-felt religious conviction, then perhaps she will have to choose between that conviction and citizenship.

While openly admitting to the multi-cultural nature of our society, Rex also suggests that just for the one day in which they are taking the citizenship oath, they should show themselves to their fellow newly-minted citizens. After all, he says we have core and common values, of which the citizenship ceremony apparently is one, in his view. (Subtext: they are making a mockery of our values in refusing to play by our rules.)

Without a hint of irony, Murphy suggests that these issues can be discussed without rancour, claiming there is no bigotry here. While I agree that such issues are indeed fit topics for rational discussion, Rex's approach, unfortunately does nothing to further that goal.Recommend this Post

Hope Fades ......

Thu, 10/01/2015 - 06:59

It is becoming difficult to hold on to hope. Despite all we know about the Harper regime, despite all that has been written about its corruption, its abuse of power, its undermining of our democratic institutions, its insidious appeal to the worst in our natures, it seems to all be coming down to an issue that has already been decided by the courts: the niqab and its use during citizenship ceremonies.

It is almost enough to make me hold up my hands in abject surrender.

According to the latest poll conducted by Forum Research, if an election were held today, Stephen Harper would win another government, albeit a minority one:
The survey of 1,499 Canadian voters has Conservative Leader Stephen Harper’s party ahead with 34 per cent support, compared to 28 per cent for the NDP and 27 per cent support for the Liberals. At the heart of this resurgence, according to Forum president Lorne Bozinoff, is that [t]wo-thirds (64 per cent) of Canadian voters are opposed to having fully veiled women swear the oath of citizenship, while just over a quarter (26) support it.
Though the poll’s findings are just a snapshot in time, if the same results occurred the night of the Oct. 19 election, the Conservatives would win a minority — 151 seats in the 338-seat House of Commons. The NDP would form the opposition again with 105 seats, the Liberals would seize 76 seats, the Bloc six seats and the Greens one.And while the neo-barbarians are ready to resume their assault on our putative values and traditions, what are the oppositions parties doing? Fighting each other, of course. Thomas Walkom writes,
New Democratic Party leader Mulcair dismisses Trudeau as a callow youth. Echoing Conservative attack ads, his New Democrats say the 43-year-old Liberal leader just isn’t ready to become prime minister.

From time to time, and again echoing the Conservatives, Mulcair dismissively refers to his Liberal rival as “Justin.”

Trudeau is no less harsh. He accuses Mulcair of duplicity — of saying one thing in French and another in English. He says the NDP, by pandering to Quebec separatists, threatens national unity.

He dredges up old charges that Mulcair, a former Quebec Liberal cabinet minister, once contemplated the idea of exporting fresh water in bulk.

All of this occurs at a time when Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are quietly edging up in the polls.As those two parties put on full display, not co-operation to oust the tyrant but instead their avidity for power at any price, progressives are put in a bind:
These so-called progressive voters desperately want Harper gone. And they are horrified by the real possibility that this war to the death between Liberals and New Democrats will split the anti-Harper vote, thus allowing the Conservatives to win power again.Here's a sample of what the NDP is doing to achieve power:

Another ad aims to maim support for Trudeau in the manufacturing sector by referencing a suggestion Liberal candidate Chrystia Freeland made years earlier about letting the big three automakers — Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler — go bankrupt.

The third brings up the Liberal leader’s $20,000 speaking fees he charged charities and school boards, accusing him of skipping House of Common votes to collect money “for something that’s already a part of his job.”

Trudeau offered to reimburse some fees in 2013.

It’s a tactic that’s borrowed from the Conservative Party, who have been running attack ads against Trudeau with the tagline, “Just not ready” for months.Canadians have notoriously short memories. Yet as we get ever closer to October 19, they are bound to remember certain things, the wrong things, I fear.
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A Vanity Production?

Wed, 09/30/2015 - 08:31

Yesterday morning, I read a piece by Martin Regg Cohn on the impending sale of Ontario's Hydro One. When it is completed, 60% of our publically-owned asset will have been sold off. During a brief walk in the afternoon, I decided to write a letter to my local MPP with a copy to Premier Kathleen Wynne to protest the sale. While it may be of some interest to people residing in Ontario, my letter may be regarded by those residing elsewhere as a vanity production, perhaps, given the ultimate futility of speaking or writing to our representatives in our currently debased democracy.

Whatever its ultimate utility may be, writing this missive has at least been personally cathartic:
I am writing to express my deep disappointment over your government's decision to sell off 60% of Hydro One. It is a profound betrayal of the people of Ontario and a flagrant abuse of democracy that I fear will have far-reaching consequences.

I was one of the many who chose to cast my vote in the last election, not for the NDP but for the Liberals. Their platform seemed sound, and I was repulsed by what I saw as the political opportunism of Andrea Horwath in forcing the election. A leader's integrity is one of my paramount considerations when I vote, and I thought I saw it in Kathleen Wynne.

While I admire that Ms. Wynne has shown strength of conviction in some areas, such as the revamping of the sex-ed curriculum, despite fierce opposition from some quarters, I lament the fact that she does not have the same courage and principles to resist the neoliberal siren call of privatization of public assets. As we well know, the private sector's sole responsibility is to its shareholders and the profits they expect, and we have no reason to believe that its majority ownership of our Hydro assets will change that. The public good will always be, at best, a tangential consideration.

Not once during her bid for re-election did the premier talk about privatizing Hydro One. To say that a general review of all assets was to be undertaken as the cover for this decision is, frankly, dishonest and insulting. Also, the Hydro assets are, as you well know, generating very healthy annual profits. To suggest their sale is needed to fund infrastructure projects is disingenuous, and indicative of a very narrow vision that excludes other possibilities, such as road tolls or an increase in the income tax rate to fund such construction. I will also state the obvious: those assets belong to all Ontarians. They are not your government's to sell.

At a time when cynicism about the electoral process is widespread, and voting numbers continue to decline, the decision to sell such a prized asset can do nothing but promote more of the same. If you are so convinced that this is a good decision, then hold a provincial plebiscite. Only with the approval of the people can you make any claim to be representing them in this matter.

I am one of the electorate with a very long memory. I can assure you my support for your party and government ends the day the sale of Hydro One begins. Next election, my vote will be for the NDP.Recommend this Post

Stealin' All My Dreams

Tue, 09/29/2015 - 06:14
That's the message Blue Rodeo delivers in this music video, which features some timely reminders of the almost decade's worth of depredations that have taken place under the Harper regime.

On a side note, I came across the video last night and immediately prepared this post for publication today; this morning I received a note from David, who sent me links both to the video and the National Observer article. I guess it's true that 'great' minds think alike, eh? Thanks, David.Recommend this Post

A Day Well-Spent

Mon, 09/28/2015 - 07:34

There is something both restorative and energizing about spending time among people who are politically engaged, and that is probably the best way to describe those in attendance at both the Toronto Star Tent and the Amazon.ca Bestsellers Stage yesterday at Toronto's Word On The Street. As much as I have a strong aversion to Toronto's congestion, it has an energy that so many other cities lack.

It was, weather-wise, a perfect day to go down to Harbourfront Centre, the new home of the annual celebration of the written word. And for the first time, I got there early enough to snag a decent seat (actually, it was front-row) at the Toronto Star Tent, where Tim Harper, Thomas Walkom and Bruce Campion-Smith held forth on the current federal election campaign. That alone was worth the trip.

Hilariously hosted by Dan Smith, who described himself as "a recovering journalist," the format this year lent itself to far more questions from the audience than did last year's event. Here are a few highlights:

While none of the journalists was able or willing to predict the outcome of the election, Thomas Walkom said that its outcome depends on the answer to this question: "How sick are you of Harper?" Assuming the majority of Canadians are very fatigued of the current regime, the outcome will depend upon how the vote splits. He would not even rule out the possibility of a majority government.

Tim Harper said the two things were a surprise to him in this campaign, one being the fact that Justin Trudeau is still very much a contender, having brought control to his messaging after having had an earlier propensity for speaking off the cuff and getting himself into trouble. The other surprise is the Mulcair campaign having adopted a very cautious strategy; it is, in fact, something he writes about in today's Star.

All three journalists were rather dismissive of polls as merely being "snapshots in time" rather than predictors of election results. What surprised me was that the 'free polls' made available to the media are what were described as "cheap polls," ones with shallow samplings that pollsters provide for the free publicity it brings their companies. Parties' own commissioned polls, which are not released to the public, are much deeper and expensive. Were I able to have a real conversation with these fellows, however, I would question the relatively benign cloak they cast over polls; I have always been of the opinion that they not only reflect public sentiment but also influence it.

Disheartening for me was the assertion by Tim Harper that the niqab is an election issue, and not just in Quebec. The banning of it at citizenship ceremonies has widespread support judging by the email he gets, and it could cost Mulcair support. Walkom has no doubt that it is simply Harper playing upon anti-Muslim sentiment. Writer Michael Harris has some interesting things to say today about the issue in iPolitics.

Despite my repeated efforts to be recognized by the host to ask a question, it was not to be. I therefore approached Tim Harper at the end of the session to ask him what he finds most disappointing about this campaign. His answer echoed what I think many of us feel - the fact that big issues like climate change and pharmacare are not really being addressed, attributing it to the caution the two opposition parties have adopted owing to the closeness of their standings in the polls. He did add that this campaign is hardly unique in that failure, which reminded me of what Robert Fisk said the other night about the lack of statesmanlike vision afflicting contemporary politicians.

The afternoon session I attended was interesting as well, featuring Kevin Page and Bob Rae speaking about their respective new books.

Addressing the general dysfunction of our politics, Rae observed that its hyper partisanship, and the fact that campaigning seems to go on year round, 24/7, is a major problem and has debased discourse. He said that it is incumbent upon both citizens and the media to ask the hard questions and hold the parties responsible, a prescription I usspect is far easier said than done. I was able to get myself recognized to ask him a question, which basically revolved around whether or not the Canadian soul has been too debased these past several years to be able to recover to the point where a healthy democracy is now possible.

Rae answered by saying he did not think that was the case, and he cautioned against laying all the blame on the Harper regime, as it is far from the only party responsible for our sad state of affairs. Had I been permitted a follow-up question, I would have asked him that since all parties have contributed to the problem, what are the chances of any kind of rehabilitation of the Canadian psyche taking place?

While still trying to maintain a certain objectivity that, I suppose, comes from the years he spent as a civil servant, Kevin Page, who has a surprising facility for deadpan humour, lamented the loss of nobility that once came with being an MP out to serve the public good and to hold the executive to account. He observed the loss of values and vision that echoed what Tim Harper alluded to, but he also said that decision-making has become debased (that is my word, not his).

Page says that spending information has to be made available to the entire parliament, but he relayed his frustrating experiences while serving as the Parliamentary Budget Officer seeking such information from deputy ministers only to be told that he couldn't have it. Decisions are therefore made in a fiscal vacuum; the cost of a politicized public service has been high.

Beyond the monetary considerations, however, Page observed that there is no discussion on what kind of institutions we want, be they military, parliamentary, or what have you. This is an ideological government bent on enacting legislation on that basis alone. It used to be that civil servants, for example, would present three options for a decision. Now they are told those options are not needed if they don't fit into the government's 'vision.'

I will end this rather lengthy post with an anecdote Bob Rae told about talking to a cab driver. Rae asked him who he favoured, and he replied, "Rob Ford and Donald Trump." When asked why, he said that they speak what is on their minds. In other words, to this man they had 'authenticity.'

A sharp and perhaps bitter reminder of what contemporary mainstream politicians seem so sorely lacking in today.

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Word On The Street

Sun, 09/27/2015 - 05:48

I'm heading to Toronto this morning for Word On The Street, the annual celebration of the written word that is always a worthwhile experience.

At noon, I am hoping to get a seat in the Toronto Star Tent, where Tim Harper, Thomas Walkom and Bruce Campion-Smith will be discussing the upcoming federal election.

At 2:00 p.m., Kevin Page will be discussing his new book, What Happened to Politics? at the Amazon.ca Bestsellers Stage. Unfortunately, he will be sharing the stage with Bob Rae.

If you live near Toronto, perhaps I'll see you there. I'll be wearing a black JazzFM91 cap.Recommend this Post

It Has Come To This

Sat, 09/26/2015 - 06:36
I am prefacing this by reproducing a comment I made 0n kirbycairo's post, A Dark Hour Upon Us. Kirby, one of our top-shelf bloggers, always provides insightful analysis and commentary, and in yesterday's piece, he offered a rather gloomy assessment of the human condition.

I wrote back:

I find myself in agreement with your gloomy assessment of the human condition, Kirby. While we have certainly experienced social evolution in the past century, it always seem to take very little to rip away the veneer of civilization we encase ourselves in. As you well know, that is why demagogues are so dangerous.

We are part of the animal kingdom, something we are reminded of on a daily basis. However, like other animals we do have the capacity or potential to be good and philanthropic. Of that I have no doubt. But that capacity has to be carefully nurtured in order to express itself and grow. Today, we have no one in the political arena willing to do the hard lifting required of leadership that would bring out the best in us. And we, of course, are the enablers of that weak leadership that exploits and manipulatse our passions and our prejudices.

In my view, we all are to blame for our abject failures.

I have been avoiding political shows for the past week, for reasons of burnout that I wrote about recently. Yesterday, however, I tuned into the first part of Power and Politics, as they were discussing that morally repugnant $15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, a followup to the justification that Stephen Harper gave yesterday for pursuing it:
At a campaign stop in Rivière-du-Loup, Que., Harper was asked whether he was putting Canadian jobs ahead of human rights concerns.

"As I've said in the debate, it's frankly all of our partners and allies who were pursuing that contract, not just Canada. So this is a deal frankly with a country, and notwithstanding its human rights violations, which are significant, this is a contract with a country that is an ally in the fighting against the Islamic State. A contract that any one of our allies would have signed," he said.

"We expressed our outrage, our disagreement from time to time with the government of Saudi Arabia for their treatment of human rights, but I don't think it makes any sense to pull a contract in a way that would only punish Canadian workers instead of actually expressing our outrage at some of these things in Saudi Arabia."
So, essentially it has come to this: jobs before morality. A greater indictment of the Harper regime I cannot think of. However, as you will see in the following video, despite the commendably tenacious efforts by P+P host Rosemary Barton, who never fails to impress, neither of the opposition party representative would answer her question of whether they would cancel the contract, although near the end, Paul Dewar does get pinned down.

A bankrupt nation, some would describe Canada as.

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Truth From A Letter-Writer

Fri, 09/25/2015 - 07:09
This was sent to me by Anon in response to a previous post. Enjoy!

Conservative leader Stephen Harper speaks to supporters during a rally at Swish Group of Companies in Peterborough on Monday (Sept. 21).
Peterborough This Week

20 non-answers from Conservative leader Stephen Harper, according to a letter writer

To the editor:

Are you a member of the media who wonders if the Prime Minister will ever hold a news conference where several questions can be asked, and substantive answers given?

That is never going to happen.

Harper focuses on economy during rally in Peterborough on Monday

So, sit back, relax and read the continuously revised and updated "Stephen Harper Non-Answer Generator". Available now as a download at harperhearnoevil.com

The most recent non-answers include:

1. “In 2010 I decided to rename the Government of Canada as the Harper Government in official communication because he who has seen Me has seen the Party."

2. "We do not allow people to cover their faces during citizenship ceremonies. But we do allow Canadian goalies to cover their faces during hockey games."

3. "Under my watch, greenhouse gas emissions actually went down in 2008... until they started going up again in 2009."

4. "When bad actions arise, the role of the leader is to take responsibility and hold people accountable, and that’s exactly what we’re doing....not including, of course, my chief of staff Ray Novak, Stephen Lecce, Chris Woodcock, Joanne McNamara, Andrew MacDougall, Patrick Rogers, Arthur Hamilton, David van Hemmen and very few others."

5. "My favourite Bible verse? Luke 8:17: For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open."

6. "First we bring them [the CBC] to their knees. Then we restructure them."

7. "What I know is this: Mr. Duffy should have repaid his expenses. He did not because Mr. Wright paid them for him...paid them for him...paid them for him...whirr!...bleep!...paid them for him."

8. "Our government has a real tax incentive plan to create 125,000 at-work daycare spaces."

9. "Well look, um, the Prime Minister is always ultimately accountable for the government. Um, we're running on our record, which includes having the worst economic growth of any Prime Minister since the days of R. B. Bennett in the 1930s. It's not my fault we've run six consecutive deficits, increased the federal debt by $158 billion, and Canada is the only G7 country in recession."

10. "The House of Commons passed Mr. Hyer’s bill [Climate Change Accountability Act]. When it went to the Senate, I instructed the Conservative senators to kill it. I am proud to say this was the first time in Canadian history that appointed senators killed a bill without a single day of study in the Senate!"

11. "Let me assure you that our priority will remain to ensure stability and security for Canadians. The government will be reorganized into the first Galactic Empire, for a safe and secure society."

12. “The 24/Seven videos summarize the activities of government for interested Canadians. As Mr. Teneycke [Conservative campaign spokesman] said: ‘We’re better than news, because we’re truthful.’”

13. (singing, to the tune of Sweet Caroline): "Hands, shackled hands/Reaching out, shackled feet, touching you/Dean Del Mastro/Bad times never seemed so bad/I'd be inclined/To believe that you are sad...." -- upon learning Dean Del Mastro was sentenced for cheating on his 2008 campaign expenses.

14. "It is perfectly legal to mail my own birthday cards for people to sign and mail back to me. Canada Post needs the business."

15. “The Federal Court has ruled against our government’s cuts to refugee health care, saying the changes amount to ‘cruel and unusual’ treatment, and ‘outrage Canadian standards of decency.’ Really? Are we our brother's keeper? The parable of the Good Samaritan clearly does not support the idea of extended health care for refugees because we are Canadians, not Samaritans.”

16. “I realize how important it is for northerners to have access to healthy food. That’s why our government launched the Nutrition North program in 2011. Since then, a food basket for an average family of four has been reduced by $110 a month. Two litres of orange juice is now only $26, and five kilograms of flour only $25.”

17. "We have achieved a $1.9 billion surplus for the 2014-2015 fiscal year because government departments massively underspent their budgets. Making huge cuts to veterans, aboriginals, seniors, and immigrants really did pay off!"

18. "Let's be clear, friends. The NDP want to create one million quality child care spaces that parents could access for $15 a day, and the Liberals want a more generous child benefit that will lift 315,000 children out of poverty. Friends, we're gathered here tonight to be make sure that does not happen! That is not our Conservative vision for our country!"

19. "Old stock Canadians are the real Canadians of our country."

20. "Wayne Gretzky said I have been 'an unreal prime minister and wonderful to the whole country'. He has been a true gentleman on and off the ice, and doesn't mind I took away his right to vote in our elections. And even though Wayne played centre, now he'll be best remembered as a right winger!"

David Buckna

Kelowna, B.C.
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Robert Fisk

Thu, 09/24/2015 - 13:56

Last evening my wife and I attended a talk given by Robert Fisk, the renowned British journalist who has lived in and covered the Middle East for almost 40 years. The talk was quite dense, given the complexity of the issues and dynamics of that region, and I realized how little we understand about what is really going on there.

I did not take notes, but fortunately an interview with him in The Tyee covers some of his salient points, one of which is the sad devolution of Canada's international presence:
"I was so amazed that [Canada's Minister of National Defence and for Multiculturalism] Jason Kenney made the statement that some of the refugees could be terrorists. He was basing his argument on some story about someone in a camp talking about fighting Assad.

"When you go back and look at how Canadians reacted to the Vietnamese boat people, some were suggesting that some of them might be communists, as if that were a reason not to take them in. Kenney is playing an old card, that Muslims would be prone to terrorism while Christians won't be.

"Some pundits have argued that there are extremists in the refugee camps, and while we need to do something, we can't, because security. It's a bad card to play because it's immoral, and though it is immoral, it's a bad card to play because it will become reality. Someone will plant a bomb to make it look like it was the wrong thing to do to let refugees in.

"Merkel has stepped forward and done more to expunge moral guilt of any German leader since World War Two. She did what Obama should have done. She said: Bring me your huddled masses. The idea that we're going to go over and kill ISIS, Assad, the Yemen leadership -- to continue the bombing campaign -- is infantilism.

"We have to abandon the politics of Harper and Cameron. It might be the statesmanship of 1940, but it's not the statesmanship we need. I'm talking long-term, to plan for the next 50 years. Future generations don't matter to politicians. Harper had opportunities that he didn't even think about, let alone grasp. Canada's natural position in the world is to be a great moral power, that tries to put out fires, bring people together, and look out for the suffering and the poor. None of that applies to Harper."
There was much more to his talk, including his belief that ISIS, with its quite mechanical, passionless destruction of heritage artifacts (paintings, for example, are not slashed to pieces but put through shredders), is a weapon being used and funded by Saudi Arabia to destabilize the Shia forces in the Middle East. But that may be the topic of another post.
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Meat For The Conservative Base

Wed, 09/23/2015 - 14:44
... is, I hope, indigestible for the rest of us.
At Sunday's Calgary-Signal Hill all-candidates debate, Conservative candidate Ron Liepert responded to criticisms of the Conservatives' controversial Bill C-51 by suggesting "civil liberties" and "freedom" are not the most pressing issues facing the country in light of "criminal activities."

"I know there's a whole group of people including a couple of the speakers here tonight who talk about civil liberties and about the freedom of having the right to pretty much choose to do what you like," Liepert told voters.

"Folks, that's not the country we live in."

This was not Liepert's first foray into absurdist pronouncements. Last year, he told CBC Radio that supporters of solar and wind energy are "extremists" who live in a "dream world."

It is is hard to understand how the Harper base can feel proud of supporting such patent idiots unless, of course ....Recommend this Post

Echoing His Master's Voice?

Wed, 09/23/2015 - 06:00
People who read my blog regularly may have noticed that lately I have been posting videos and images more than I have been writing. The fact of the matter is that as a political junkie I have overdosed, something I suspected might happen due to this ridiculously long election campaign. Hardened cynic though I am, even I can take only so much of the obviously cheap and manipulative politicking that occurs during such a campaign, a campaign decidedly lacking in scope and vision, one that abjectly fails to address the real crises we face. Each leader, with the exception of Elizabeth May, is content to tinker around the edges at best, and leave the issues that require both adult discussion and adult, mature Canadian engagement, unacknowledged and unaddressed.

So I feel tired, and may, (or may not) write less frequently for a while.

Here is a story that to me, is emblematic of the dysfunctionality of those who represent us and one of the reasons I am losing heart: the stoking of fear, at which the Conservatives excel, is obvious here.
In a video obtained by the Star, Daniel offered this warning to voters in Don Valley North: “So I think there is a different agenda going on in terms of these refugees.

“Whereas at the same time Saudi Arabia is putting up money for 200 mosques in Germany I think the agenda is to move as many Muslims into some of these European countries to change these countries in a major way.

“That is something that I certainly don’t want to see happening in Canada. I think Canada is the greatest country in the world.”

Mr. Daniel refused, of course, to be interviewed by The Star about his comments.Recommend this Post