Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Another "Occupy" Movement That Should Inspire

Smedley Darlington Butler (1881-1940), was at the time of his death, the most decorated marine in the United States.  However, the final years of his life were spent in publicly denouncing wars, which he decided were being fought for corporate interests; speaking at pacifist rallies and advocating for veterans.

On August 21, 1931, invited to address an American Legion convention in Connecticut, he made the first no-holds-barred antiwar speech of his career. It stunned all who heard it or read it in the few papers that dared to report it:
I spent years . . . being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism. . . .;  I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1931. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City [Bank] boys to collect revenue in. I helped in the rape of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street

In China in 1927 1 helped see to it that Standard Oil [now Exxon] went its way unmolested.... I had ... a swell racket. I was rewarded with honors, medals, promotions.... I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate a racket in three cities. The Marines operated on three continents... (1)
In the spring and summer of 1932, a large group of WWI vets, their families and affiliated groups, marched on Washington to demand that their war bonuses, which were not redeemable until 1945, be paid immediately, since many were then unemployed and suffering after the Crash, that led to the Great Depression.

Known as the Bonus Army, or Bonus Expeditionary Force, it was led by Walter W. Waters, a former army sergeant, but was boosted by the presence of Butler, then the most popular military figure in the country.  20,000 members strong, they "occupied" Washington, setting up camp at Anacostia flats.  Their request for early payments were denied, but they soldiered on.

On July 28, 1932, two bonus marchers were shot by police, causing the entire mob to become hostile.  President Hoover ordered their eviction, and General Douglas MacArthur, with his cavalry, went on the attack.
After the cavalry charged, the infantry, with fixed bayonets and adamsite gas, an arsenical vomiting agent, entered the camps, evicting veterans, families, and camp followers. The veterans fled across the Anacostia River to their largest camp and President Hoover ordered the assault stopped. However Gen. MacArthur, feeling the Bonus March was a Communist attempt to overthrow the U.S. government, ignored the President and ordered a new attack. Fifty-five veterans were injured and 135 arrested. (2)
Time magazine told of one vet, William Hushka, who had joined the group, jobless and penniless.  Last week William Hushka's Bonus for $528 suddenly became payable in full when a police bullet drilled him dead.  (3) Two month old Gertrude Mann, died of malnutrition in Washington's Gallinger Hospital and in the same hospital, Bernard Myers, 11 weeks old, affected by tear gas, would also succumb.  

The entire thing was blamed on Communists and the media painted MacArthur as a hero, but not everyone was impressed.  Dwight D. Eisenhower, then an aid to MacArthur said, "I told that dumb son-of-a-bitch not to go down there..." and Butler declared himself a "Hoover-for-Ex-President-Republican".

It would appear that the "Occupy Washington" movement of 1932 was a failure, but the sight of American soldiers attacking American veterans, resonated in the court of public opinion, and Hoover lost the 1932 election in a landslide to Franklin D. Roosevelt.

When a second march and occupation took place in May of 1933, FDR provided the marchers with a campsite in Virginia and dished out three meals a day. He later issued an executive order allowing the enrollment of 25,000 veterans in the Civilian Conservation Corps, a public relief program, exempting them from the normal requirement that applicants be unmarried and under the age of 25. Congress, where Democrats held majorities in both houses, passed the Adjusted Compensation Payment Act in 1936, authorizing the immediate payment of the $2 billion in WWI bonuses.

The incident also impacted Eisenhower, who would later, as Butler did, warn of the Military-Industrial Complex, and wars fought for corporate interests.  Unfortunately, few listened, and the practice has only escalated.

Demonstrators in the Occupy Movement, face evictions everywhere, the latest in Los Angeles.  They are tear gassed, shot at with bean bags fired from rifles, hit with rubber bullets, kicked, drenched and arrested, but they are simply not going away.

And the message is resonating with the public.  This is not an attack on the rich, but a message to governments to stop pandering to the 1%, and pay attention to the rest of us.  We are the citizens, the voters, the taxpayers, the human capital, who far too often become targets when spending cuts are needed.

This has the potential to be a major political movement and if politicians ignore this, they will be Hoovered. (voted out, not attacked with a vacuum cleaner)

My little three-year-old grandson, when he feels that he's not getting our attention, will indignantly proclaim that we are not "using our ears".  He's a pretty smart guy.  Maybe he should address Parliament, Congress, the Senate, and everyplace else, where people are not using theirs.


1. The Plot to Sieze the White House: The Shocking TRUE Story of the Conspiracy to Overthrow FDR, By Jules Archer, Syhorse Publishing, 1973, ISBN: 10-1-60239-036-3, p. 118-119

2. HEROES: Battle of Washington, Time Magazine, August 08, 1932

3. Ibid

A Guest Blogger With an Important Message About the Treatment of Some Military Personnel

On Remembrance Day we do our duty by wearing our poppy, attending a special service and paying homage to all veterans and those serving in the Armed Forces.  Little else can generate such passion, as witnessed every November 11.

Politicians of all stripes often exploit this emotion, especially when garnering support for war, and photo-ops with uniformed troops is money in the bank.

The Conservatives even hid behind our troops to avoid answering questions about Afghan Detainee abuse, allowing them to shoulder the blame.  Veteran Ombudsman Pat Stogran, was fired by Stephen Harper for speaking out against the treatment of Vets.
Stogran hit out at the Department of Veterans Affairs for being "deliberately obstructionist and deceptive," rather than helping injured soldiers. Stogran also said one government official told him that soldiers were less of a liability if they died in war, rather than coming back to Canada injured.
So given the attitude toward those injured in war, it should come as no surprise that military personnel, not injured in war, but still hurt in the line of duty, could expect even less.

I was contacted by Brian C. Bradley, a Veteran of the Canadian Forces, who wanted to share his story, so the following comes directly from him, an honoured guest on my blog.

My name is Brian C. Bradley. I am a Veteran of the Canadian Forces.

In 1966 I completed my army reserve basic training. In 1989 I completed my army reserve officer training, and began nearly five years of service in the Canadian Navy training as a Combat Systems Engineer (CSE, or 044A in Canadian military classifcations). This same ‘five years of service’ began with basic officer training at Chilliwack, B.C., continued with second-language training at St. Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, and a year in Esquimalt, followed by just under three years of service in Halifax, NS.

While training in Esquimalt, I was billeted to the HMCS Qu’Apelle, where I suffered a fall in the shower onboard that warship, injuring my spinal cord at three levels.

Because the accident occurred while the HMCS Qu’Appelle was away from her home port, I was confined to my rack, and provided with painkillers until returning to Esquimalt five days later. On arriving there, I was rushed by ambulance to the base hospital.

In March 1996 I applied to the Veterans’ Review and Appeal Board (VRAB; a division of Veterans Affairs) for a disability pension. On three separate occasions within the first year of application (refer to Table ‘A’ on next page) the VRAB ruled against my application for a disability pension. I then obtained a ruling from the Trial Division of the Federal Court (Fed. Ct.) that the matter be referred back to a differently-constituted panel of the VRAB board (Fed. Ct. case T-157-98).

In the next year, the allegedly differently-constituted VRAB panel ruled twice more against my claim. The matter was once again brought before the Trial Division which ruled that the matter be referred back to a differently-constituted panel and awarded me costs (Fed. Ct. case T-2137-99).

Because this next allegedly differently-constituted VRAB panel failed to provide a decision within the next year, I filed a motion of Contempt of Court with the Trial Division. While the Trial Division (i.e., the Hon. Mr. Justice Martineau) would not grant this motion by citing the VRAB in contempt, it did again award me costs, even though none were requested, and supplied a step-by-step procedure to obtain justice in my case.

With no legal training, I attempted to bring the VRAB before the Trial Division again, after being once again denied a disability pension by the VRAB’s next (and sixth) decision. I lost this decision despite having provided professional testimony from a neurosurgeon, an orthopaedic surgeon and a general practitioner with more than 35 years of experience.

Other than being supplied with additional pain killers and 3 or 4 brief sessions of physiotherapy, my real injuries were not treated at that base hospital, nor at the base hospital in Halifax, where I was sent about two months later as part of the next phase of training.

Upon release from the Canadian Navy in 1993 I was assessed by a civilian general practitioner in Lower Sackville, NS, who immediately identified a C5/C6 radiculopathy (upper spinal cord condition), along with indications of other potential spinal cord level involvement, that had resulted from the accident onboard the HMCS Qu’Appelle.

This same GP initially referred me for assessment to a diagnostic service in Halifax (i.e., spinal cord MRI), an orthopaedic surgeon, and an internal medicine specialist. All of these physicians agreed that the three levels of spinal cord injuries (i.e., C5/C6; T11/T12 & L2/L3) were most likely the result of the accident that had occurred while I was serving onboard HMCS Qu’Appelle

None of these submissions by physicians were contradicted by testimony from similar professionals on behalf of the VRAB, yet the Trial Division of the Fed. Ct. ruled against my claims.

I was encouraged to re-approach the Trial Division based upon the experience of a lady who won her case in the Appeal Division in Ontario using my first two cases (i.e., T-157-98 & T-2137-99) as precedents.

To render such a re-approach at such a late stage in the events, I was encouraged to concentrate on my lower back injuries .... thereby, allegedly attesting to settlement for the upper back injuries .... with neither of these settlements ever occurring!

Not more than four years ago, The Trial Division ruled again in my favour (T-401-05) and referred the matter back again to a differently-constituted panel of the VRAB board. That same board ruled on four more separate occasions against my application for a disability pension, forcing the matter back to the Trial Division for ultimate resolution (T-617-09).

The VRAB fully exhausted the total number of decisions to which they were entitled in my application, recognizing that an award to me of a disability pension would mean financial ruin and subsequent political suicide for the government ‘in charge’ at the time of such a decision, given the tens of thousands of other veterans who remained deprived of such benefits.

The Hon. Mr. Justice Phelan (T-617-09) decided: "THIS COURT'S JUDGMENT is that the application for judicial review is granted and the Appeal Board's decision is quashed." Unfortunately, such a ruling does nothing more than refer the same matter back to the Respondent (e.g., Veterans’ Affairs), thus prolonging the history of my claims and thereby moving the VA's actions from the ridiculous to the sublime.

While Canadian governments over the past 80+ years have continued to disregard their legislated obligations to veterans of the CF and Mounted Police, how do you think these same governments are treating(?) the remainder of Canadian citizens?

On top of all of this, I have had to represent myself in the Trial Division of the Fed. Ct. on several separate occasions with at least 6 of these applying to my claims with the VRAB [refer to case numbers: T-157-98, Bradley v. Canada (Attorney General), 1999 CanLII 7476 (F.C.) or; T-2137-99, Bradley v. Canada (Attorney General), 2001 FCT 793; T-2137-99, Bradley v. Canada (Attorney General), 2003 FCT 12 (CanLII); T-67-03, Bradley v. Canada (Attorney General), 2004 FC 996 or; T-401-05, Bradley v. Canada (Attorney General), 2005 FC 1470; and T-617-09, Bradley v. Canada (Attorney General), 2011 FC 309 or]

In all of these decisions (including the latter two), the Hon. Justices supported my claims and rejected the VRAB's decisions. The greater weight of factual evidence by specialists in the fields of medicine applicable to my spinal cord injuries supported my claims, as did the greater majority of the above-listed decisions.

Who but a politician who allegedly represents his electorate but didn't see 'adequate votes' in seriously supporting this applicant's claims, would ignore these facts and not attempt to ensure this applicant receive something resembling the actual service of justice .... not to mention the adherence to legislated laws by a Fed. government dept. (i.e., VRAB)?

History has been written, how more often do we have to ignore it before learning our lessons? To support our (i.e., all veterans') efforts 'click on' the following and join our group:

Email author:
Yours truly,
Brian C. Bradley

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Proof That Abolishing the Gun Registry Was Always For the NRA

Unless hunters and farmers are snipers, the Conservative abolishment of the gun registry was always, as suspected, for the NRA.  ALWAYS!  ALWAYS! ALWAYS! 

Not one single farmer or hunter ever crossed their mind, except to solicit funds or votes.  NRA! NRA! NRA!

The neocons turned down an NDP amendment to at least force registration of sniper rifles, but the heartless SOBs said NO!  It didn't help that the NDP put the wrong gun on their advertising leading up to the motion.

I think this will hurt them in Quebec, especially since one of those presenting the amendment, NDP MP Nathan Cullen, had voted in the past to end the registry.  The Bloc are already regaining ground (NDP 37, Bloc 27) and Quebecers are very passionate about this issue.

In other news, it would appear that Harper lied about directing public servants to remove 'Canada' from government parlance and replace it with 'Harper'.

And the Liberals are rising in the polls. 
Several recent polls have suggested the Liberals have rebounded as much as 10 points since their election drubbing, pulling even or even slightly ahead of the NDP, which supplanted the Liberals as official Opposition.
That last election was a fluke, but a fluke that we're all paying for.

Our only hope for the next four years is the "Occupy" movement and we need to get behind it.

Hooligans and How the Cultural Left Can Beat the Political Right

This week in the Winnipeg Sun, a column by Tom Brodbeck; Hooligan Harper haters: Crime bill protestors partisan hypocrites, irked me on many levels.

From the eye rolling "Harper haters" that's been done to death, to the notion of opposition to Bill C-10, being a partisan issue.

I contacted Mr. Brodbeck and asked if he had actually spoken with any of the protesters.  He dismisses anyone who challenges this government's policies, as simple "Harper haters", without asking those protesting how they actually feel about Mr. Harper.
Why is it that when Liberal governments bring in tougher sanctions for serious crimes they’re seen as being thoughtful and concerned about public safety?

But when Prime Minister Stephen Harper brings in harsher sentences for sex offenders and killers, he’s a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal who wants to jail everyone and throw away the key. It’s a bit of a double standard.
Many are simply angry over the Draconian crime bills, that are even being denounced by the law and order state of Texas. 

Brodbeck also dismisses the protesters as "hooligans".  A hooligan by definition is "a rough lawless young person."  In the image he provides, I see no roughness, unless you count a profanity on a sign, and I see no laws being broken.  In a healthy democracy dissent is not only allowed but should be welcomed, as proof that we do indeed live in a democracy.  As Lawrence Martin reminds us in his book, Harperland: The Politics of Control:
“In the run-up to the election, Stephen Harper had rolled out the rhetoric on the need for clean and transparent government, expressing frustration with Paul Martin's Liberals over their alleged secrecy and obstructionism. "When a government starts trying to cancel dissent or avoid dissent," Harper declared in a statement to be later viewed as notable for ironic content, "Is frankly when it is rapidly losing its moral authority to govern.”
However, with so much "dissent" over Bill C-10, rumour has it that Stephen Harper is planning to simply again prorogue.  According to Lori Turnbull in the Globe and Mail:
Rumour has it that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is planning yet another prorogation of Parliament. This means the work of the House of Commons, including its committees, would stop and our elected officials, as a group, would be rendered incapable of performing their basic functions, including holding the government to account in Parliament. 

The prorogation rumours are not surprising, given the other tactics the government has employed to “manage” opposition scrutiny. During the current parliamentary session, the Conservative government has invoked strict time limits on House debates on complex bills, including its omnibus crime legislation, and forced committee proceedings behind closed doors, out of the public eye.
Stifling dissent, operating behind "closed doors", and limiting debate.  This man has no shame and clearly no "moral authority to govern".

Hats off to the Hooligans

If a "hooligan" is simply someone who opposes government policies or practices, then I think we must pay homage to history's "hooligans".  Like Harriet Beecher Stowe (above) who protested against the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law that prohibited assistance to fugitives.  Wrote Stowe:  "I feel now that the time is come when even a woman or a child who can speak a word for freedom and humanity is bound to speak... I hope every woman who can write will not be silent."

Though arguably not a youth at 40, when she wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, she inspired others, young and old, by injecting an anti-slavery message into popular culture.  And of course her work with the abolitionist movement is legendary.

But what of other "hooligans"?

Like Barbara Johns, who at the age of 16, took over her black high school and shut it down, leading to the legal crisis that wound up in the U.S. Supreme Court as Brown v. Board of Education, the case that ended legal segregation in America.

Or Claudette Colvin, who at 15 in 1955, defied segregation laws by refusing to surrender her bus seat for a white passenger, choosing instead to be arrested.  Civil Rights leaders contemplated organizing a bus boycott then, but were concerned with Colvin's age.  How much traction could the movement obtain by backing a "hooligan"?  It wasn't until 42-year-old Rosa Parks, inspired by the young activist, did the same, that they had their heroine.

And what of the "hooligan" Joan of Arc, or the less well known, Sybil Ludington, who like Paul Revere took a famous ride.  At just 16,  Ludington rode twice the distance Revere did, through a rainstorm no less, to warn the countryside that Red Coats were sacking Danbury,  Connecticut.  Ludington alerted militia men, and the militia was able to stop the invasion, chasing the Red Coats back to their ships.  A "rebel" on the right side of history.

Or how about the 15-year-old Louis Braille, who created the Braille writing system, while a student at Paris's Royal Institution for Blind Youth.  Teachers at the school revolted, banning students from using it, claiming that the paper-punching note-taking was noisy and disruptive.  Braille has changed the lives of so many people living without sight, because he was a rebel.

Young "hooligans" like Brigette Depape, who challenged authority with the 'Stop Harper' sign on the Senate floor; or Emma Sullivan, who refused to apologize to a governor for a disparaging remark she left on Twitter, are inspirational.  I hope Pat Martin is now following Sullivan.  If we can't even Tweet dissent, where is our democracy?

Or maybe Brodbeck should wonder about another political agitator, or "hooligan",  born into a time of occupation and oppression.  Arriving at an annual festival, with a very large following, he attacked the greedy bankers, was later arrested and put to death.  His name was Jesus of Nazareth.

We can't dismiss youth simply because they are young, nor can we dismiss those wonderfully crazy enough to believe they can change a vote, a policy, a bill, or the world.

We go along to get along until someone doesn't. 

Why I Believe That the Cultural Left Can Beat the Political Right

There is a very interesting book, written by Michael Kazin, American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation.  In it he discusses, as the title implies, the contributions made by the Left to Western culture.  Naturally, the New Right is trying to topple them all, and yet they are not succeeding, I think because the notions of justice and injustice are fundamental to who we are.

Critics have blamed liberals for not doing enough to denounce right-wing rhetoric, but the nature of liberalism is in support of free speech.  The Right likes to use "free speech" as their rallying cry, but the fact is that they only promote "free speech', when that speech is what they want to hear. 

Kazin argues that liberal, or left culture, can impact the political, when their message resonates with voters, even when they are not involved with a political party.  Chances are pretty good that the young people in Brobeck's photo, are not affiliated with any.

Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, was not really anti-slavery.  In fact, abolitionist Frederick Douglass, called Lincoln "the white man's president".  In 1864, one year after the Emancipation Proclamation, Douglass threw his support to Lincoln's opponent, John Fremont (he was not able to actually vote until 1869).   Lincoln only began to listen to the abolitionists, mid-way through the Civil War, when he realized that emancipation could speed victory for the North.  Almost 200,000 black soldiers then joined the fight, recruited by Douglass himself.

A cultural movement inspired a political change.

The post WWI militant union activists, did not gain real validity, until FDR realized that he needed labor votes.   Lyndon Johnson gave up on the white South, to denounce Barry Goldwater.  He won in a landslide, and passed Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts.

Says Kazin, "For a political movement to gain any major goal, it needs to win over a section of the governing elite", but that doesn't mean that they began the movement on behalf of any political party.  They only worked through, or against, the government of the day.

In a January 2003 column, headlined It's not Canadians who've gone to the right, just their media, Lawrence Martin quoted an unnamed European diplomat as saying "You have a bit of a problem here. Your media are not representative of your people, your values. Too many political commentators are right of centre while the public is in the middle.  There is a disconnect."

If you judged the Canadian mood based on our media, you might think that Canada is indeed a right-wing country.  However, that is not the case.  We repeatedly prove in opinion polls, that we are progressive, and care about things like poverty, war, climate change, human rights, etc.

If Stephen Harper had to rely solely on his base for votes, he would probably be leading a third or even fourth place party.  In fact, his Reform-Alliance had stagnated by 2003, propped up primarily by the West.  It was only when he bought out the rights to the PC party and began calling himself a "Tory" that he was able to garner more mainstream support.
He himself wasn't pleased with the new name.  He had referred to the PCs as "elitist" and called Red Tories "Pink Liberals" promising to "jettison them" from the party once he took over.
In January of 2004, he told the Hamilton Spectator, when asked if his Reform-Alliance Party would now be called 'Tories':
"It's actually not a label I love… I am more comfortable with a more populist tradition of conservatism. Toryism has the historical context of hierarchy and elitism and is a different kind of political philosophy. It's not my favourite term, but we're probably stuck with it." (Stephen Harper, Hamilton Spectator, January 24, 2004)
He may have felt that he would be "stuck with it", but capitalizing on the "Tory" name has given him enormous political advantage, since many people who vote for him, believe they are actually voting "Tory".  The media has perpetrated a grave injustice, by allowing him to keep up the facade.

Returning again to Martin's Harperland:
The merger was a ruse of sorts. This was no equal partnership. The merged party had five times as many Alliance MPs as old Tory ones. In the election before this merger, the Alliance Party had won sixty-six seats, the Tories only twelve. Before long, Harper won the leadership of the new party, making the domination of the Reform-Alliance wing even more pronounced. This wasn't so much a merger as the Alliance Party's annexing of an auxiliary group.
This is actually good news for the "Occupy" movement, because most Canadians are not right-wing, but have an ingrained sense of justice and faith in democracy.  If the 99% of those who feel that they are not being given equal opportunities for success, or the roughly 2/3 who did not vote for the New Right party of Stephen Harper, or even those who voted Conservative, having fallen for the bait and switch, come together; we could see positive political change.

We won't alter Harper's ideology, but his own party could demand that he loosen the reins, if they are forced to wear his full frontal assault on our democratic institutions, with his unheard of control.  They can't enjoy being muzzled and scripted.
We could also inspire opposition parties to include our demands in their platforms.  They'd be crazy not to.
Says Kazin, "The divergence between political marginality and cultural influence stems, in part, from the kinds of people who have been the mainstays of the left." 
Not necessarily, those who march, clash with police, get arrested or want to overthrow the government; but those who have been able to articulate their grievances.  People like Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Beecher Stowe and Tommy Douglas. 
The Occupy Movement has our attention, as they are beginning to articulate their message, and Canadians are listening.
So hats off to the "Hooligans" and thumbs down to a column that condemns them without cause.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Dog Whistle Politics and the Return of Old Dance Partners

 "Borrowed in part from the legacy of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, Canadian neo-conservatism owes much of it's character to the right-wing populist tradition of the West. "Indeed, Canadians became exporters of neo-con innovation in the 1990s. 'I would say Margaret Thatcher and Mr. [Preston] Manning are the two non-Americans we learned most from'', said U.S. Republican House Speaker, Newt Gingrich in 1995.

I know him [Preston Manning] because I watched all of his commercials. We developed our platform from watching his campaign.' Like cowboy culture, Canadian neo-conservatism is a growth industry, spawning a whole generation of Will James outlaws in hot pursuit of political power." (Slumming it at the Rodeo: The Cultural Roots of Canada's Right-Wing Revolution, Gordon Laird, 1998, Douglas & McIntyre, ISBN: 1-55054 627-9, Pref. xiv-xv)
The political cartoon above, first appeared in the Alberta Report Magazine on March 27, 1995, under the caption 'Preston Manning and Newt Gingrich dancing in newt suits'. The two men formed a lasting friendship as they worked out ways to promote combative style politics.

Republican pollster Frank Luntz, was then working with Canada's Reform Party, but took his leave to help Newt draft his Contract With America. Ralph Reed of the U.S. Christian Coalition wrote a corresponding document Contract With the American Family, to bring in the Religious Right.

Jason Kenney and company travelled to Washington in 1995 to attend a Christian Coalition conference, and soon after:
... Even more ominous for democratic rights in [British Columbia] is the recent hatching of the B.C. clone of Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition. With 1.7 million active members and a $25 million (US) annual budget, the U.S. organization has become a formidable lobbying force in American politics, installing its anti-choice, anti-gay agenda and candidates at all levels of government, from school boards to Congress .... the Christian Coalition of Canada materialized after dozens of conservative Christians in this country thronged to Washington, DC, last fall [1995] to attend a major convention of the U.S. organization.

"Advisors" to the new CCC reportedly include Ted and Link Byfield (owners of the ultra-conservative B.C. Report and Alberta Report magazines), Jason Kenny (head of the Canadian Taxpayers Association), and Alex Parachin (head of the Christian Broadcasting Associates in Toronto, the Canadian branch plant of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network).

The B.C. chapter is sure to be a factor in the upcoming election, giving a boost to Reform Party candidates and any others who will go on record opposing abortion ... While Don Spratt may be telling readers "Nobody has anything to fear from the Christian Coalition," progressive activists and journalists will have to make sure the electorate knows better." (The Christian Coalition Comes to Canada, by Kim Goldberg, The Albion Monitor, May 5, 1996)
"Journalists will have to make sure the electorate knows better"? Yeah. Good luck with that. A decade and a half later and they still don't get it.

Even Kelly Block's recent attack on our aboriginal communities, stems from American neoconservatism. She's working on behalf of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, described as a pyramid scheme. And CTF is a spin-off of Grover Norquist's Americans For Tax Reform.

Both traverse the country with their debt clocks and force conservative politicians to sign pledges not to increase government revenue. Jason Kenney had Mike Harris sign it in 1995. Enough said.

I now watch American political commentary programs, because it's the only way I know what Harper's next move will be. And it is also the only way to understand the politics of the Conservative Party of Canada. They are part of the Conservative movement that began in the U.S. in the 1940s, imported by Ernest Manning, and they have been in lock step ever since.

We just didn't notice until they came to power in 2006. It has been said that the Harperites introduced Western style politics, but in fact, it was American style Conservatism.

Listening to someone like Evan Solomon, is like having a hockey commentator call the plays at a baseball game. He's not even in the ballpark.

Dog Whistles and Playing to the Base

A letter in Time magazine this week, discusses why many Republicans don't trust Mitt Romney. "They are distrustful of his recent public conversions on abortion, gun control and gay rights, or turned off by his Massachusetts health care law." (November 18, p. 20)

Those conversions of course, refer to the fact that he used to respect gay rights and women's reproductive rights, feared guns, and was committed to improving the health of his constituents, or at least assuring that all had access to good health care. All of these things are now kacky poo poo to the Republican base.

How did they let it get this far?

It's because they only played to that base with dog whistle politics. Saying the right thing to stir up the ignorant and now they are forced to draft policy to appease the ignorant, or risk being unelectable.

On Chris Matthew's Hardball this week, they discussed the rise of Newt Gingrich, who now has the perfect blend of ignorance and moderation, to make everyone happy. At least for now. Newt used to be deemed too right wing. His politics haven't changed, only the expectations of the conservative base.

One panelist on the program, Chicago Tribune columnist, Clarence Page, said that segregation is making a comeback. Instead of signs reading "Blacks to the back of the bus" or "Whites only", Anglo Republican politicians are simply ignoring the concerns of black communities, and turning others against them by suggesting that they are demanding too much.

Be more like the Huxtables and not depend so much on us white folks. You had it better under slavery, so go with that.

Michelle Obama was booed recently by NASCAR fans, prompting Rush Limbaugh to praise them for going after the "uppity" first lady. It was blown out of his dog whistle as "uppity n.....", and the base sang Hallelujah.

Our own Fox News North painted First Nation struggles as being against "white people and Indians" with another banner "we're on your side". The "Indians indulged" makes it pretty clear whose side they're on.

Harper government policies are also a promotion of the new form of segregation. He doesn't attack women, but instead removes the word "equality" from the Status for Women mandate, puts an end to affirmative action and pay equity initiatives, closes 12 of the 16 Status for Women offices and eliminates their research funding.

His government doesn't overtly attack minorities, but closes down Human Rights Commission offices, so that those suffering from discrimination have no place to address their concerns.

Gawd, I wish our media would catch up. Maybe we should send them all dog whistles for Christmas, because they sure as hell are not trying to communicate to us.

When it was discovered that neo-Nazis had infiltrated the Reform Party, Preston Manning fell back on his father's tired line, when the media exposed his extremist elements.

"A bright light attracts bugs."

But as my own father might say: "So does shite."

Friday, November 25, 2011

Kelly Block to Finally Reveal What Was Really Going on in Her Office

If only that were true.

In December of 2010, a staffer in Kelly Block's office, leaked details of a confidential pre-budget House Finance Committee report, to several key lobbyists.  When caught, the Conservatives claimed that he was a "rogue" staffer and would be dealt with.

Their modus operandi when caught red handed.  Blame it on the help.

Block's aide, Russell Ullyatt, was not new to controversy.  He was named in the case of Conservative MP Rob Clarke, a former RCMP officer, who during his 2008 campaign, was allowing uniformed officers to deliver his lawn signs.  The image was both unprofessional and frightening, though not the first time that the RCMP interfered in elections on behalf of the Harperites.

In fact, they are still doing it.

The government was able to cleverly control the message of Ullyatt's motor mouth, by suggesting that they were looking at ways to make sure that it wouldn't happen again, and of course Block gave him the sack.

However, what they refused to address was something far more serious.  Apparently Ullyat was running a very lucrative business from  INSIDE Block's office, using taxpayer money to print and distribute, according to his own website, more than 5 million direct mail fundraising letters on behalf of Conservative clients.
Throughout both House Affairs Committee meetings last week, opposition MPs honed in on Mr. Ullyatt's credibility and especially his ownership of a political mailing company Mr. Mulcair, who also has an office on the sixth floor of the Confederation Building near Ms. Block's office, said he had seen "skids with boxes piled high and a very elaborate printing machine" in the hallway outside Ms. Block's office.
If you look at the website, it's pretty chintzy, with a Conservative blue banner and little else. Apparently he has no staff, according to the company profile, but then why would he need his own staff, when he could simply use Kelly's, which is paid for by us.

The other strange thing about his website is that under contact info it simply leads you back to  Obviously his clients knew where he could be reached.

As usual, the Harperites circled the wagons, protecting Block, and Block herself, refused to be accountable, feigning ignorance, which in a Member of Parliament may be worse than deceit.  How can we trust her to make decisions when she can't, or won't, explain over 5,000,000 mail outs, allegedly produced and distributed by her own staff?  Surely she doesn't believe that she has 5,000,000 constituents?
Liberal MP Yasmin Ratansi (Don Valley East, Ont.) asked in Question Period on Dec. 16 whether the government would call in the RCMP to investigate what she called "a serious allegation of potential fraud being conducted out of [Ms. Block's] office." Government House Leader John Baird (Ottawa West-Nepean, Ont.), who had accompanied Ms. Block to her witness chair before the House Affairs Committee earlier that day, responded that the government would always be prepared to look at that.
They never did.

The opposition also revealed that her office had exorbitantly high printing expenses, which she signed off on.  They scripted her responses to committee and limited her time for questioning.
I bring this up now, because hypocritically, Block has now been charged with presenting a private member's bill to hold First Nation communities to account, by revealing the salaries of their leaders.  The implication of course is that they are perhaps corrupt, and even if this proves not to be so, the damage will be done.
The Reformers claim that Band members deserve "the same provisions as other Canadians in terms of transparency and accountability."
"Other Canadians" meaning anyone other than a member of their own government.  I don't know how Block will be able to discuss any of this with a straight face.  I mean, seriously.  She's being called a "rising star", but only because she clearly knows how the game is played.

You do as you're told and you'll be just fine.

This is clearly a witch hunt, but maybe the First Nation communities should announce that they are in the process of investigating Kelly Block and her connections to  Russell Ullyatt and

Somebody's got to do it.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Back to the Future to Change the Course of History

The Canadian Manifesto: How the American Neoconservatives Stole My Country

I was sent an article posted on Aljazeera recently: The deep roots of conservative radicalism, by Corey Robin. 

Robin is the author of the The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin, and in his Aljazeera piece, he challenges Paul Klugman on his definition of a conservative. 

Klugman uses the literal meaning of the word, by suggesting that conservatives by nature should be "calm, reasonable, quiet, averse to the operatic, friendly to the familiar ..." but instead are "revolutionary and radical rather than realistic and moderate, that it's activist rather than accommodating, that it's, well … not … really … conservative."

P.M. Carpenter, takes Klugman's views further by suggesting that the media should simply stop calling them "conservatives" altogether, because it is just too confusing.  Says he, "stop calling conservative pols what they are not: conservative. They are pseudoconservatives, they are reactionaries, they are radicals, and in some instances they are merely lunatics. But they are not conservative."  I feel the same way every time our media refers to Stephen Harper's party as "Tories".  Absolutely ridiculous.

Carpenter does remind his readers that modern conservatism has its roots in the traditional conservatism of Edmund Burke and his reaction to the French Revolution, which is seen as the beginning of liberalism.  Burke felt that the upper echelon were too comfortable in their wealth and privilege to recognize the threat from within.

We know that 1789 was a turning point in history.  In fact the idea of Right vs. Left stemmed from the French Revolution when at Assemblies those rejecting change sat on the right side of the room, and those supporting radical change on the left.

The new conservative movement then is an attempt to change the results of 1789.  Edmund Burke vs. Robespierre.  The Rights of the Individual vs the Rights of Man.

So Then Were the Nazis Conservative?
In a radio broadcast on April 1, 1933, Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Minister of Propaganda, proclaimed it clearly : with the Nazi revolution "the year 1789 has been expunged from the records of history."  It was obvious to all why Goebbels compared 1933 to 1789.  Any contemporary, whether schooled in history or not, instinctively knew that the French Revolution was the measure of things in the modern world. "We want to eradicate the ideology of liberalism and replace it with a new sense of community" (1)
This places Goebbels and the Nazis on the "Right" side of history and in line with modern conservatism's goal of eradicating the "ideology of liberalism".

Friedrich Hayek has become the guru of Libertarianism, because he challenged the Utopian theory of socialism; but he played a more important role for the conservative movement, or fusion, as a whole.

In his new book A Generation Awakes, Wayne Thorburn says of Hayek's Road to Serfdom, that it "not only provided a comprehensive rejection of socialism but also clearly tied together all forms of collectivism - socialism, communism, and fascism - and challenged the view that Nazism and fascism were "right-wing" movements. (2)

The new right needed that argument to justify their actions, which were almost identical to those used by the Nazi party, pre-Holocaust.  If you study the rise of Hitler and his fascist Brown Shirts, the tactics they used to attack liberalism were not unlike those used by the new right.  They went after university professors, teachers, scientists, the media.  All deemed to have a left-wing bias.

We tend to think that all of this was immediate, but most was incremental.  Working through new right-wing publications, like Julius Streicher's, Der Stürmer, they attacked the Jews, and though the paper was constantly being sued, they had a smart lawyer to get them off.

And just as Ezra Levant cried "free speech" to defend the anti-Muslim Danish cartoons, take a look at the 1920s offering on the right, from Der Stürmer, with the caption  "He alone of two billion people on earth may not speak in Germany.”  Recognize the face?

When the Nazis attacked scientists, those among them believed that their protests would be heard.  Instead Bernhard Rust, Minister of Science, Education and National Culture, dismissed the scientists, literally and figuratively.
Max Planck's scientific peers made him feel that he must make a bold reply to Bernhard Rust ... at the Congress of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society for Advancement of Science he made what was considered a daring speech indeed ... "History proves that the greatest and most vital discoveries were made by scientists who worked for the sake of pure science only."   Indulgently Nazi Rust did not crack down on Professor Planck, but as president of the Society Herr Planck dolefully reported that 85 scientists have sent in their resignations and are suffering "economic difficulties" under the Nazi regime.  (3)
And in a bit of deja vu:
Citing actions taken by the Conservative government since winning a minority government in 2006, 85 scientists across Canada have signed an open letter to all national party leaders calling on them to state how they will 'improve Canada’s track record' regarding the objectivity of science.(4)
[My emphasis in both excerpts.]

Instead of listening to them, Harper named Gary Goodyear, a man who does not believe in Evolution, as science minister, and Christian Paradis became our Bernhard Rust, muzzling government scientists. (5)
"Our national policies will not be revoked or modified, even for scientists." - Adolf Hitler
The socialism of the Nazis was based on race, and created to counter offers being made by the Bolsheviks to take care of the German people. But the idea of the supremacy of race came from Edmund Burke. According to Hannah Arendt:
While the seeds of German race-thinking were planted during the Napoleonic wars, the beginnings of the later English development appeared during the French Revolution and may be traced back to the man who violently denounced it as the "most astonishing [crisis] that has hitherto happened in the world"—to Edmund Burke . The tremendous influence his work has exercised not only on English but also on German political thought is well known. The fact, however, must be stressed because of resemblances between German and English race-thinking as contrasted with the French brand. These resemblances stem from the fact that both countries had defeated the Tricolor and therefore showed a certain tendency to discriminate against the ideas of Liberte-Egalite-Fraternize [Liberty, Equality and Freedom] as foreign intuitions. Social inequality being the basis of English society, British Conservatives felt not a little uncomfortable when it came to the "rights of men". (6)
As Burke said, he "preferred the rights of the Englishman to the Rights of Man."

Today that racism is shielded by words like 'multiculturalism', which the new right opposes, anti-immigration policies, or what Arendt refers to as "extermination through respectable foreign policy". Blood for oil wars are justified by the need to eradicate Islamic fundamentalists, and yet the wars drastically reduce civilian populations.

Maybe Corey Robin is Right

Robin suggests that for those who don't believe that the new right is conservative, they should not just read Edmund Burke, but READ Edmund Burke, to understand where their conservatism comes from.

I get this suggestion many times from my right-wing readers, when I make the claim that Stephen Harper is not a conservative in the Canadian tradition of people like George Grant, Diefenbaker or John A. MacDonald, and definitely not a Tory.

I might counter their argument by saying that maybe they should read Edmund Burke, since they often cite a Burke quote: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing". That quote cannot be found in any of Burke's writings. The closest attribution comes from Tolstoy's War and Peace.

I might also tell the media to listen to people like Corey Robin, instead of crying foul every time the Harper government does something that goes against Canadian principles.  The Right mistakenly declares that the media has a left wing bias, but the left instead believe that the media is simply ignorant of who the new right really are.

Everyone in the Dark

What the neocons, Burkians, whatever they are;  fail to understand is that the Welfare State, FDR's New Deal, LBJ's Great Society and Trudeau's Just Society, were necessary to avoid bloody revolutions. A well fed, well educated, well housed and healthy population, becomes a country's human capital, as important as money in the bank.

And when we are treated as human capital, not to be squandered but invested in, we will happily go about our business.

Burke once claimed of the French Revolution, that it was "more concerned with the condition of the gentleman than with the institution of a king." This fits with Herman Cain's denouncing of the Occupy Wall Street movement, as those merely jealous of the rich.

If it were that simple.

Hannah Arendt challenges Burke by saying that the revolutionaries questioned why the "gentleman" was still so rich once the king was toppled. The same question can be asked today. Why did only the 99% suffer during the economic crisis, while the 1% continued to live in splendour, and many of the institutions bailed out by the 99%, are now reporting "record profits", with unemployment still so high?

We need to make the "occupy" movement a state of mind, and start asking some of these questions.  We never resented the rich, until acquiring at least some of the wealth, became so unattainable, for so many.

Our system is broken and we can't rely on politicians to fix it, especially under a Harper majority.

Naturally, I'm not suggesting a bloody revolution or a new Reign of Terror, but just a bit of activism. They will have to listen once they realize that we are not going away.


1. Foundational Pasts: The Holocaust as Historical Understanding, By Alon Confino, Cambridge University Press, 2011, ISBN 978-0-52173-632-9, p. 6

2. A Generation Awakes: Young Americans for Freedom and the Creation of the Conservative Movement, By Wayne Thorburn, Jameson Books, Inc., 2010, ISBN: 13-978-0-89803-168-3. p. 1

3. GERMANY: False Planck? Time Magazine, June 18, 1934

4. Canadian scientists protest Harper's attacks on science, Wikinews, October 13, 2008

5. Ottawa’s media rules muzzling federal scientists, say observers, By Margaret Munro, Postmedia News, September 12, 2010

6. The Origins of Totalitarianism, By Hannah Arendt, Harcourt Books, 1994, ISBN: 978-0-15-670153-2, p. 175

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dalton McGuinty's Mama Didn't Raise no Fools

Part of the Ontario Liberal campaign Forward Together was a promised cut to tuition fees for post-secondary education.  I'm sure many students thought they'd heard that before, but last week, McGuinty kept his campaign promise and announced that tuition fees would be slashed by 30% for any student whose parents make less than $160,000 per year.

Students were overjoyed with the announcement.  In Kingston, a group from Queens were dancing in the street, literally.

Not only was this the right thing to do, but it was a brilliant political strategy in the run up to the Speech From the Throne.  How can the Opposition take the government down by fighting against lowering tuition rates?

Dancing in the streets would become marching in the streets.

Of course this hasn't stopped Tim Hudak from blustering that his party cannot accept Dalton McGuinty's agenda. 

That man is always a day late and a dollar short.  He visited our city recently and spoke at one our most prosperous businesses, on how Ontario was bleeding jobs.  The staff looked at him like he was from outer space.

"I am here to save your earth by inventing the wheel."

Kingston has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, and we have been served by both a Liberal MP and MPP for decades.  Either avoid this area or use a different strategy.  The provincial Conservative candidate came third here in the last election.

Bob Hepburn believes that the Ontario neocons may start looking to Jim Flaherty to save them.  Ironic since Flaherty ran for the leadership twice and lost, because he was considered to be too right-wing, running on privatizing our public education and throwing our homeless in jail.  He was also a member of Canadians for George Bush.  Enough said.

I like the idea of the NDP holding the balance of power.  The Liberals will have to remain progressive, since Hudak has clearly opted out of providing any kind of realistic alternative.

Well played Mr. McGuinty.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Picante Sauce and Why Mitt Romney May Lose the Nomination Race

David Horsey wrote recently that Mitt Romney was the only adult in the GOP Kindergarten Race.  He's probably right.  However, will it matter?

Since the Republican Party was taken over by the Conservative Movement in 1964, they have a different criteria for a leader than simply the ability to win an election.  You have to be a devout conservative, dedicated to their three pillars of military might, a free market economy (which includes dismantling the welfare state) and forced morality, mainly on the issues of homosexuality and abortion.

The surges have come and gone in this race, with Herman Cain now tanking, and Newt Gingrich picking up what Herman Cain and Rick Perry have lost.  This despite the fact that a recent poll suggested that Romney could beat Obama.

I just finished reading Rick Perlstein's, Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus.  He goes into great detail how the conservative movement, which actually began in the 1940s, was rejuvenated with the help of William Buckley Jr. and the conservative youth, who secured Goldwater's nomination.

The Republican Party at the time, was gravely concerned with this force, because the ideals it represented were not party policy.  Moderates, who had rallied around Nelson Rockefeller, saw their hopes dashed when he became embroiled in a scandal, leaving his wife for a younger woman.

So with Eisenhower leading the way, they encouraged other moderates to step up, including ironically, George Romney, Mitt's father.  Of course we know what happened.  Goldwater won the nomination, but was trounced by LBJ.

However, this was not seen as a loss by the movement, but in a crazy way, as a victory.  They now had a catalyst.  Something that would help to establish an "us vs them" political argument.

Lionel Trilling (1905-1975), a member of the New York Intellectuals, wrote of the reactionary nature of the new conservatism:
Such impulses are certainly very strong, perhaps even stronger than most of us know. But the conservative impulse and the reactionary impulse do not, with some isolated and some ecclesiastical exceptions, express themselves in ideas but only in action or in irritable mental gestures which seek to resemble ideas.
I quoted Trilling because he is one of the scholars hated by the New Right.  Not that he was a "leftie", believing instead that "between" was "the only honest place to be."

A comment made by Buckley in 1964, validates the idea of the creation of a reactionary force, rather than a political party.

Buckley had had a conversation with Richard Clurman, Time's chief of correspondents, who wondered just what was Barry Goldwater's appeal to an urban scholar like Buckley, to which he replied:  "Barry Goldwater is a man of tremendously decent instincts, and with a basic banal but important understanding of the Constitution and what it means in American life."

"But what would happen if he were elected President of the United States'?" Clurman asked, to which Buckley responded: "That might be a serious problem."

The Conservative Movement was building a base, and they needed the Goldwaters of the nation to do it for them.  Someone who could reach into the banality of the masses.

I've visited several right-wing websites in the past few days, to get some idea of how the "banal" forces feel about the candidates, and there appears to be a common concern.  The East, as represented by Romney, is trying to take over the Republican Party.  They didn't care if he could win, only that he is deemed to not be a "true" conservative.

It reminded me of those Pace picante sauce commercials, with the "New York City??!!" line.  Very effective marketing.  Change the sauce to the GOP race, and those ads could be revived. Romney is not from New York, but it doesn't change anything.

This is not a race for a Republican leader, but for a Conservative leader.

And if someone like Rick Perry or Michelle Bachmann won, well ... "that might be a serious problem" for all of us.  They are now debating, not whether there should be an attack (even a nuclear one) on Iran, but who should strike first, the united States or Israel.
"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." - Martin Luther King Jr.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Stephen Harper Inches Canada Even Closer Toward a Dictatorship

Within weeks of being elected in 2006, Stephen Harper limited access to his government, by both the media and the public.  He closed down a searchable database that provided easier access to information, and forbid any questioning of his ministers, without his approval, and even then questions had to be presented in advance.

Time magazine found Harper's actions so disturbing that they published an article on it:  Controlling the Message.  In the piece, Alasdair Roberts, a Syracuse University public-policy professor, asks, "How can the average Canadian make a judgment about whether their government is being well run if they don't have access to the information?"

A very good question, but what Roberts may not know is that since that time, things have only gotten worse.

Harper's office has been taking their own press photos, creating their own videos (Taxpayers on hook for $1.7-million as PMO rolls out video, By Bruce Cheadle, The Canadian Press, December 08, 2009), and have made most media events by "invitation only". 

They scripted their response to accusations of detainee abuse as early as 2007, causing one NATO official to suggest that Stephen Harper's office used a "6,000-mile screwdriver" to oversee the denial process.  Canada became the only country with troops in Afghanistan, not to have an independent media, and all news of the war, was directed from the PMO.

They have created a 200 page manual that caucus members must use to disrupt Parliamentary committees and a Purple File where embarrassing information requests are kept and dealt with directly by Harper's team.

None of this is surprising to those of us who have tracked Stephen Harper's career from Reform Party policy wonk to leading the National Citizens Coalition.
The annual gathering of the Writers' Union of Canada took place in Ottawa in June, with many former chairs on hand to offer memories of their time in office. Susan Crean remembered encountering a young, blue-eyed politico at a constitutional conference in Calgary in 1992. When the man learned that she had co-authored a certain book about American domination of Canadian and Quebec politicians, the man responded: "You should not have been allowed to write that book."

The man: Stephen Harper. Crean never forgot his words, but especially the word allowed. The room full of writers in Ottawa issued a gasp. Crean later elaborated on the encounter. "Harper spoke to me first and asked if I had written 'that book.' I asked which one, and he mentioned Two Nations, which I wrote with Quebec activist/sociologist and well known independentiste Marcel Rioux. ... Harper was clearly still angry about having had to read it at university. In his view, I took it, the book was treasonous. I was so shaken by his words, and his open hostility, that I immediately left the dining room." (A less proud country, By Lawrence Scanlan, Straightgoods, August 9, 2010)
We recently learned that Harper has added another very disturbing element to his message control.  He will now be censoring the RCMP.  Our RCMP.
The Star obtained a copy of a new communications protocol that requires the RCMP to flag anything that might “garner national media attention” to Public Safety Canada.  Everything from “media advisories, news releases, background info, media lines and talking points for spokespersons and senior officials/members” must be vetted.

Statements by RCMP members who appear before parliamentary committees would likely be massaged by the federal government beforehand, as the document clearly defines a “major event” as “an incident, event, announcement, and/or speaking engagement likely to garner national media attention.”
Is there anything left that would make Canada not a totalitarian country? If you know of something please share it with me, because this is very frightening.
Ursula Franklin -- the celebrated physicist, pacifist, author and Companion of the Order of Canada -- recently spoke to CBC Radio's The Current. She had survived a Nazi death camp and come to Canada hoping for better. Now 88, Franklin is "profoundly worried about the absence and erosion of democracy in Canada." (Scanlan 2010)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Voice From the Past Responds to the Monarchist League of Canada

On a tip from one of my readers, who drew attention to the enormous clout being given to the Monarchist League of Canada, a right-wing fringe group associated with the Orange Lodge; I did a bit of research, and what I found should be shocking to most Canadians.

This is not just a tea and crumpets fan club, but a group working to establish an Anglo-Saxon hierarchy in a multicultural country.

Not only were they behind the change to our military, restoring the 'Royal' to its name and the crown to its symbolism, but they were also responsible for the ridiculous new citizenship guide, a throwback to the 1950s.

New Canadians must again pledge allegiance to the Queen and her heirs, and the only commitment to Canada is to uphold our laws.

Our government suggests that these moves are to "right a wrong".  In other words, we should never have stopped paying homage to a foreign dignitary, and placing their interests above our own.

However, instead of taking direction from the Monarchists, Canada's neocons might want to pick up a history book; one not written by Paleoconservative Peter Brimelow

Facts, Facts and More Facts

My husband and I recently purchased a large collection of military books from the estate of a former officer in the Canadian air force.  There are over 150, and what we liked about them, was that they were written during the wars they covered, better capturing the mood of the nation.

Most books today on the subject, focus too much on battles and their outcomes.

We've only owned them for a day, so I've just thumbed through them; but one caught my attention, so I stayed up last night until I finished it.  It was written in 1939, just after the invasion of Poland, by Canadian scholar, Watson Kirkconnell (1895-1977).

In response to a comment left after my last posting on the topic, I reminded my reader that Canada did not enter WWII for Britain, and in fact when Louis St. Laurent was acting as secretary of state for external affairs, Great Britain's foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, thanked Canada for coming to their assistance "during the darkest days of World War 11".  St. Laurent immediately set the record straight.   In his reply to Bevin he went out of his way to emphasize that Canada's declaration of war had been an independent decision made by the country's elected representatives, that it was prompted by the nation's determination to fight Nazism and had nothing whatever to do with helping Britain. (The Making of a Peacemonger: The Memoirs of George Ignatieff, By Sonja Sinclair, University of Toronto Press, ISBN: 0-8020-2556-0, p. 108)

Kirkconnell in his 1939 book Canada, Europe and Hitler, validates this claim.  In describing the public sentiment as Canada was heading to war, he shares a quote by Lord Tweedsmuir, who on October 12, 1938, stated:  "A Canadians first loyalty is not to the British Commonwealth of Nations, but to Canada, and those who deny this are doing to my mind, a great disservice to the Commonwealth." (Oxford University Press, p. 108)

When my father went overseas, it was not to fight for Britain, but for Canada.  He was Acadian on his mother's side, and Irish Catholic on his father's, so had little respect for the British monarchy.  The only thing England ever gave him was a nurse he met at a dance.  My mother, who arrived here as a war bride.

Without knowing how long the war would last, how many casualties we would suffer, or what defining battles would take place, Kirkconnell provides some very compelling insight on Canada's decision to go to war, that blows the idea of an Anglo-Saxon dominance out of the water.

Quebec Premier, Maurice Duplessis, felt that French-Canadians should stay out of the conflict, and challenged conscription.  This caused a rift in his own party, with several members jumping ship, including Gilbert Layton, Jack Layton's grandfather.

Feeling confident that Quebec citizens would agree with him, Duplessis called a snap election, despite the fact that he had two more years to govern.  As a result, his 76 seats were reduced to 16, and the Liberals won 66.  " Quebec has proudly proclaimed to the world that it believes in a national unity wider that that envisaged by the strident isolationism of Mr. Duplessis and his kind". (p. 113)

This vindicated our integrity as a nation.  We had a shared enemy and a shared interest.

Kirkconnell concluded the chapter by saying:  "... it may in the end paradoxically prove true that Adolf Hitler, without intending any such consummation, has done more than any other force in the world to make Canada a nation."

But What of King and Country?

In the First World War, many Canadians rallied under the cry of  "for King and Country".  However, as many historians point out, the simple fact was that most who answered that call, had been born in Britain, so were heading home to fight for their country.  In fact, Desmond Morton in his 1994, When Your Number is Up: the Canadian Soldier in the First World War, concluded that "Seventy percent of the men who enlisted in the CEF (Canadian Expeditionary Force) were British immigrants, even though British immigrants were just eleven percent of Canada’s population. Anglo-Saxon Canadians whose ancestors had lived in North America for generations had low enlistment rates similar to those seen in French Canadian communities."

If you peruse the attestation papers on the Government of Canada website, Morton's argument appears valid, especially for those who signed up at the beginning of the war.

This notion that we are who we are, only because of the contribution of White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) males, is an insult to our rich cultural heritage.
"... the notion that some Reform members may have strong Anglo-Saxon nativist inclinations is supported by more than merely the background profiles of its leaders, members and supporters. It is supported also by the words of many of its ideological mentors who depict Canada as not only historically an Anglo-Saxon country but also part of a wider Anglo-Saxon culture that is in need of recognizing and re-establishing its heritage.

"Read for example Peter Brimelow's words bemoaning the eclipse of Anglo-Saxon hegemony. 'At the end of the nineteenth century, belief in the superiority of the Anglo Saxon values ... (was) the most social norm in every English-speaking country ... For WASP supremacists everywhere, however, the twentieth century has been a most distressing experience.' (Of Passionate Intensity: Right-Wing Populism and the Reform Party of Canada, By Trevor Harrison Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995. ISBN: 0-8020-7204-6, p. 120-121)
This is why we have to challenge the Monarchist League of Canada at every turn.  Not their right to exist.  Many Canadians like the tradition of the Royal Family.  For my dad, there were two.  His own and the Montreal Canadians.  He probably would have gone to war wearing their logo.

When JFK visited Canada in 1961, observers claimed that he drew larger crowds than were there for the Queen and Prince Philip on a recent visit", and he "created the biggest traffic jam" in Ottawa's history.  (Kennedy & Diefenbaker: The Feud That Helped Topple a Government, By Knowlton Nash, McClelland & Stewart, 1991, ISBN: 0-7710-6711-9, p. 108).

I don't know of any head count, but no doubt President Obama's first visit to Canada was just as well attended as that of Will and Kate's, and definitely more than that of Charles and Camilla.

Canada chooses her own heroes and for a variety of reasons, and those who deny that, do a great disservice to our country.

Friday, November 18, 2011

More Conservative Double Standard

Yesterday, when the Conservatives limited debate on the budget, NDP Pat Martin tweeted his frustration with a colorful expletive. He remains unapologetic, as he should.

Why the media is giving this so much attention is beyond me, but the Harperites have certainly managed to take the focus off their budget and onto something that few care about.

The photo above is Conservative MP Daniel Petit, giving the finger in the House of Commons. Pierre Poilievre was also caught making a rude gesture while Peter Milliken was speaking, and launched his own F-Bomb during a Parliamentary Committee meeting.

Evan Solomon had Tom Lukiwski on his program, with Lukiwski suggesting that Martin's language crossed a line. Ah yes, that beacon of propriety:

The full tape is filled with so many F-Bombs I'm surprised that it didn't blow itself up.

Andrew Scheer is looking into a formal punishment, that's how far they are willing to take this.

This government has often turned the House of Commons into an Animal House frat party. From Elizabeth May's book, Losing Confidence:
In one memorable Question Period, the question was about the safety of pet food in response to the tragic incident of poisoned pet food from China. The Conservative backbenchers started barking, "Woof, woof. Bow-wow" ... Heckling has also taken a crueler tone. Sexist taunts are more common. Government MPs have even taken to loud booing of certain Liberal MPs they most dislike, even before a question can be asked. This is particularly the case for women MPs. For a while, whenever Judy Sgro rose to speak, the Conservatives would chant "pizza" in reference to the allegations from a campaign worker that she had violated elections laws by accepting free pizza for her volunteers. Although she was cleared by Elections Canada, chanting "pizza" seems to entertain the Conservatives.
A lot of things entertain the Conservatives.

But they're not necessarily as stupid as their actions often imply.

Where is the media critique of the budget? Most headlines relate to a 140 character tweet.  It makes me so f#$%**% mad!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Creating a Culture of Fear in the Public Service

If you had to choose one word to describe how Stephen Harper runs his government, it would be a toss up between control and fear, though both go hand in hand.

His tight fisted control creates a culture of fear, and he uses his PMO to keep everyone in his government afraid.

Dean Del Mastro says that he even has to select his ties with care because if he wears one that goes against the image that the PMO were hoping to create that day, he'll end up on the hot seat. (Harperland, Lawrence Martin, 2010)

Those on the Hill say that even with a majority, Harper has not loosened the shackles.

We learned recently that Tony Clement is joining the fear to keep people in line team, as he looks to cut government spending.  Just don't touch the PMO, with the largest communications staff in the history of the country.

Their next press release could have his name on it, next to the word 'demoted'.

The government has hired an accounting firm to determine where they can cut funding, costing us $90,000 a day.  This reminds me of John Baird when he was in the Ontario Mike Harris government.  He hired Enron's accounting firm to do the same thing.

They were successful, finding savings of $89.5 million.  The only problem was that Ontario taxpayers were handed a bill for $193 million for their "cost cutting" services.  Most of the $90 million was at the expense of welfare recipients who saw their benefits slashed, while others were simply cut from the rolls. (Anderson Consulting and Accenture, Polaris Institute, June 2003)

From social welfare to corporate welfare.

Anderson Consulting changed its name to Accenture when the Enron scandal hit, but not the way they did business.  To make sure they didn't lose the contract, they contributed $30,000 to the Harris team.  ( Tory Welfare Donations Under Fire,  Hamilton Spectator, October 25, 2001; "Consulting Firm Boosts PC Coffers, Richard Brennan, Toronto Star, October 25th, 2001)

They became the gift that kept on taking.

So when Tony Clement claims to be hiring private firms to "save" us money, I'm not buying it.  Clement was also in the Harris government.

However, even worse than possible palm greasing, there is also a cash bonus being offered to managers who can find ways to save money.  The bigger the cut, the larger the bonus.

What a horrible workplace atmosphere that this creates.  Your boss could be making money off your demise.

The union is standing up for the workers, and we must support them.  We've seen how several U.S. states have suspended, or attempted to suspend bargaining rights, and there is a potential for similar legislation here, that could affect everyone.

Even those who don't belong to a union, could find themselves out of work, because lower wages across the board, means less disposable income, and less disposable income, creates a trigger effect.

This could be a disaster in the making.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Despite Evictions and Arrests, Occupy Wall Street Message is Getting Through

The actions of those in the Civil Rights Movement were not always supported by the majority of Americans, especially the violence.  But the messages presented at the sit-ins and marches did begin to resonate.

However, what probably helped the movement the most, was the response of segregationists like George Wallace.   "In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever". 

His confrontations with students played out like a Klan lynching, and Americans noticed, overwhelmingly supporting an end to segregation, and discrimination that defined where blacks could live, work and be educated.

As "Occupiers" in the anti-Wall Street movement are being evicted, many citizens are applauding the police crack down.  But the message of inequality is sinking in, being helped by the parallel universe of the Republican debates.  We know that there are many people hurting, victims of not only the "economic crisis", when the rich got even richer, but of a concerted effort to remove the public from public policy.

The message presented by the GOP hopefuls, is that poor people should be allowed to starve, sick people without medical insurance, allowed to die, and if you're unemployed, you're just lazy.  The same message they've been spouting for fifty years.

The right wing noise machine has monopolized the political conversation for too long, and people are beginning to tune out.

In Mississippi, voters rejected a measure that would have defined a fertilized egg as a person, even though pro-life groups poured a lot of money into getting it passed.  They were hoping that this would set a precedent, and help a larger bill, the Sanctity of Life Act, sponsored by Georgia Republican Rep. Paul ‘When Will Someone Shoot Obama’ Broun. If they can't get it passed in Mississippi, there's hope.

In Ohio, an anti-union bill that was signed into law earlier this year, was repealed by voters with a 23 point margin. 
Regardless of the margin, last night was historic as no Governor of Ohio has ever seen voters repeal any portion of their agenda within the first year in office. First, the ability of anyone to pull off a referendum so early in a new Governor’s term is itself incredibly rare. Second, this is the only time it worked. 
A grassroots group called We Are Ohio, need to be commended. They were discredited at every turn, called communists and traitors, but they never quit.

Canadian unions are challenging Tony Clement's budget cuts, and we need to back them up.  In Ohio, Democrats and Republicans worked together.  This is not a partisan issue but a We are Canada one.

Maine reinstated same day voter registration after the Republicans tried to make it more difficult to vote.  Russel Pearce, the architect of Arizona’s racist profiling law, just got voted out of office, in an historic recall and the state of Delaware is suing Wall Street for questionable mortgage practices.

You don't have to live in a park and pee in a porta-potty, to know that what is happening is wrong.  The Occupy Wall Street group has struck a nerve and the ridiculous Republican presidential hopefuls, a shot of common sense and common decency, sorely lacking in the GOP.  They represent everything that is wrong with the Conservative movement.  It is pure evil.

We SHALL Overcome.