Saturday, December 31, 2011

Not a Good Time for Stephen Harper to be Compared to Richard Nixon

The historian Garry Wills once observed that Richard Nixon wanted to be president not to govern the nation but to undermine the government. The Nixon presidency was one long counterinsurgency campaign against key American institutions like the courts, the FBI, the state department and the CIA. Harper has the same basic approach to politics: attack not just political foes but the very institutions that make governing possible. The state for Nixon and Harper exists not as an instrument of policy making but as an alien force to be subdued.

If it's not the media, or the courts, or the Senate, or Elections Canada, it's the Wheat Board, the federal government's own spending power, the bureaucracy, the gun registry ... Canadians should rightly wonder why their head of government has such a problem with so many Canadian institutions. (1)
It certainly is a "wonder" and a bigger "wonder" how someone who hated our institutions this much, was given the job of upholding them.

From Nixonland to Harperland, a story is told of unprecedented control in what are supposed to be healthy democracies.  National Post's Kelly McParland said that it was the result of a "siege mentality".
One of the many online encyclopedias defines “siege mentality” as “a shared feeling of helplessness, victimization and defensiveness” which “refers to persecution feelings by anyone in the minority, or of a group that views itself as a threatened minority.” If there’s anything that typifies the Conservatives under Mr. Harper, it’s the notion that anyone outside the party is to be viewed with suspicion, and even within the party trust is to be handed out sparingly. Beyond the fortified redoubt of the Prime Minister’s inner circle, everyone is on permanent probation. (2)
Richard Nixon kept enemy lists maintained by Watergate plumber Chuck Colson.  Word was that you didn't want to get on that list.  Many in the media did make it there.
"Never forget," he tells national security advisers Henry Kissinger .. and Alexander Haig in a conversation on December 14 1972, "the press is the enemy, the press is the enemy. The establishment is the enemy, the professors are the enemy, the professors are the enemy. Write that on a blackboard 100 times." (3)
Harper's enemy list extends to young girls who share photos of themselves standing with his political opponents, on Facebook.

There is yet another book written on the life of Richard Nixon, that uncovers not only more control and paranoia, but a violent temper, a battle with alcoholism, wife beating and even homosexuality.  I'll leave out the last three in comparing Harper to Nixon, but his pathological control and violent temper are well known, despite attempts to keep it from the public.

Harper's former VP when he headed up the National Citizens Coaltiion, Gerry Nicholls, writes in his book Harper, Me and the NCC, that Harper's temper is not red hot but icy blue, and when he was in a "mood" you kept out of his way.

Lloyd Mackey in The Pilgrimage of Stephen Harper, tells of a chair throwing incident at a Conservative Party convention because things were not going his way.

Former Alliance MP Larry Spencer, in his book Sacrificed: Truth or Politics, relates an interview he had with Harper, where he was torn down for a radio interview, in which he spoke of a "homosexual agenda".  Harper wasn't angry about about the gay bashing, but it's timing, suggesting that he was "put up to it" by his political enemies.

Belinda Stonach and Garth Turner took similar dressing downs, where the air was so blue, the big guy may have set a new record for his use of profanity.  Others have confirmed, off the record of course, that Harper has quite a potty mouth, and they never want to get caught in his verbal line of fire.

In the many books written on Stephen Harper, the authors have tred softly, opening up many areas for discussion, that for the most part have remained closed.  Of the ones I've read, Lawrence Martin's Harperland and Christian Nadeau's Rogue in Power, are the most revealing, and the ones that we should be paying attention to.

Jeffrey Simpson in his critique of Harperland wrote for the Globe and Mail:  Looking for Nixon-like tendencies in Harperland
... the interesting comparisons arise between Mr. Harper and Mr. Nixon. By all accounts, and especially those in Harperland, the Prime Minister is not only a partisan, as all prime ministers must be, but he viscerally hates Liberals. His objective is not just to defeat but to obliterate the Liberal Party of Canada. For that purpose, the gloves are off all the time, from nasty attack ads against Liberal leaders to ritualistic, partisan punches from him and his ministers.

Mr. Nixon saw enemies everywhere: in the media, the “liberal elites,” the Ivy League colleges .... He carried enormous resentments, remembered many past slights, and bottled them up inside where they fed paranoid streaks in his character. He was a control freak, and demanded that his staff act accordingly.
With the release of Nixon's Darkest Secrets, Harper might want to tone it down a bit, before someone starts looking for his.

1. The Canadian Nixon: Stephen Harper's feud with Elections Canada is just the latest front in his war against government institutions, By Dimitry Anastakis and Jeet Heer, The UK Guardian, April 24, 2008

2. Harper discovers it's easy to find enemies, if you look hard enough, By Kelly McParland, National Post, April 23, 2008

3. Recordings reveal Richard Nixon's paranoia: Recordings show Nixon urged staff to use all means to discredit his political opponents, both large and small, By Dan Glaister, UK Guardian, December 3, 2008

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Some Advice This Holiday Season. Don't Fall Victim to the Toys

As we're dealing with all of those battery operated toys this season, I thought I'd thought I'd share a column I wrote for the Kingston Whig Standard, that was published two years ago.

My own chilling experiences.

It got a bit botched up in the archives with the opening at the bottom, but this is how it was originally written.

A Game For Ernie

In our golden years, my husband and I have accepted the task of raising a grandchild. This can be very rewarding, but not without it's challenges. However, if I had to cite one complaint that would surpass all others, it would be the toys. Not that they are strewn all over, but the toys themselves. With our own children the worst we could expect was picking lego out of our feet, riding a matchbox car down the stairs, or having them blow something up with their chemistry set. (though it was usually just "Hey mom, smell this")

But my grandson's toys have the ability to manifest themselves into life forms that awaken at the slightest hint of a human presence. If I walk by his bed a little voice from underneath calls out "Hi, I'm Ernie. Let's play a game".  And though I've now resorted to suggesting a game that involves Ernie and an open window, he's relentless.

But that's not the worst of it. Entering my grandson's toy room can be like a trip to Hades. Truck lights beam, sirens go off and big purple dinosaur tells me he loves me. The book shelf comes to life with Dora wanting me to go exploring and an invisible game demanding that I find the letter 'g'. Before I can even find the game, a buzzer sounds and I am taunted with 'Wrong. Try again."

Even in the night the slightest movement will generate barnyard sounds, screeches and squeals that appear to be coming from the toy box, though I've never felt brave enough to attempt to locate the source.

You probably think I could simply turn them off. However, even if I was able to locate the cleverly concealed switches with their iconic symbols, they never work. They merely kick the toy up a notch. Oh, take the batteries out, you say? Now there's a good idea.

In another attempt to remind me that they are smarter than I, they hide their batteries behind tiny little doors, held in place with tiny little screws, embedded so deep inside that even if I could find the right tiny little screwdriver, I couldn't target that sucker if my life depended on it.

So I have decided to surrender to the toys, until I'm better equipped to launch a counter attack. But for now, I must go. Ernie is calling me. He wants to play a game. I was unable to locate the right screwdriver, but have found the perfect hammer. "C'mon Ernie. Let's play!"


All the best of the season to everyone.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Will the Flaherty-Harper Ticking Time Bomb be Detonated?

In Jim Flaherty's first budget, he announced that his government was opening up the housing market to  private insurers.  “These changes will result in greater choice and innovation in the market for mortgage insurance, benefiting consumers and promoting home ownership."

Loosely translated, the sub-prime mortgage industry was heading north, and so was AIG.
On May 2, 2006, in his first budget, Mr. Flaherty announced that not only would Ottawa guarantee the business of U.S. insurers, it was doubling the guarantee to $200-billion.
And despite repeated warnings that Canada's financial system was being exposed to far too much risk, Flaherty locked arms with his boss and said "bring it on".

Tick, tick, tick.

If you remember, AIG was one of the early victims of the Wall Street induced economic crisis, and in fact their "innovation" helped to create the collapse, when with the help of Goldman Sachs, they backed too many risky mortgages.

Of course that was the game all along as what are known as "derivatives" became a popular form of investing.  The way it works is that people who wouldn't normally qualify for a mortgage, suddenly became home owners.  This brought more competition into the housing market creating a bubble. 

The investor then took out an insurance policy on the risky mortgages, knowing that they would fail, and when the housing bubble collapsed, they cashed in and AIG cashed out.  Matt Tabbi called it the "swoop and squat".

Yet again, knowing how risky derivatives are to a nation's economy, Jim Flaherty hired a Goldman Sachs employee to help him get the Canadian taxpayer into the game, even investing some of our Canada Pension Plan funds.

Tick, tick, tick.

When the economic crisis hit, Flaherty knew he was in trouble.  The banks after repeated warnings, let him know that they were not going to shoulder the burden of his mismanagement, so he was forced to buy back all the high-risk debt that he had saddled them with.

Unlike the bank bailouts south of the border, where the banks had to pay the government back, this was an outright transfer of rotten paper, in exchange for $125 billion in cold hard cash.  Our cash, now backed by what could very well be worthless junk.  And since we didn't actually have $125 billion sitting around in a safe, we had to borrow the money, adding to our national debt.

Tick, tick, tick.

The International Monetary Fund is now warning that Canada could be facing the collapse of our housing bubble, something that the government was warned about two years ago.
Canada’s average home price is about 10 per cent higher than models suggest it should be, posing a “vulnerability” to the country’s economic outlook, the International Monetary Fund warns in a new report.  A drop in prices would be a blow to already highly indebted consumers. With household debt at record levels of about 150 per cent of disposable income, the domestic spending boom that helped Canada weather the financial crisis already is at its limits.
When Flaherty bailed out our banks, he said that it was to "free up funds", that could be lent to consumers so that they would spend, and help keep up the illusion of his sound fiscal management.  Now Goldman Sach's Mark Carney, head of the Bank of Canada, is blaming consumers for their personal debt, the result of spending that they no doubt would have curbed, had they known just how shaky our economy really was.

Tick, tick .... TOCK?!

The IMF is now investigating CMHC.  Where were they in 2006?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Life Getting Tough in Harperland

The consumer price index reveals that Canadians are paying higher prices today than a year ago, with significant increases in food (up 4.8%), shelter (up 1.5%) and gasoline (up 13.5%).

Yet wages have only increased .08%  We are not keeping pace.

The Harper government can't blame this on the global crisis because similar increases were reported in 2008, before the so-called crisis.

We were then in an election where the Harperites were promising that Canada would be safe from any economic distresses under their leadership.

We don't really need statistics to tell us that we are worse off today then we were five years ago.

Household debt is at a record high.  Income disparity is rising faster that many developed countries. 

Poverty is on the rise and when a report was presented to Stephen Harper that outlined ways to decrease poverty, he threw it in the trash.  Not his problem.

Compare those headlines with this one: Scotiabank, CIBC Top Bonus Increases After Record Bank Profits

Or this one: Big Oil Companies Post Huge Profits On High Gas Prices
Or this one as we remember the Attawapiskat crisis :  Record sales push De Beers’ profits up 55 percent

How do you like Neoconservatism so far?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Jim Flaherty Joins the GOP in Bid to Stick it to Workers

I can understand now why Stephen Harper claims to only watch American news.  How else can his government follow the trends, though the GOP are lagging?

Jim Flaherty announced an increase in payroll taxes ages ago.

The parties who claim to support lower taxes are instead increasing them, though only for those lucky enough to still have jobs.  Wealthy citizens have seen their taxes reduced dramatically on both sides of the border.

Flaherty is now framing his tax hike as only half of what he originally threatened.  The GOP just says take a hike.  Someone has to pay for the Bush tax cuts for the greedy.

Flaherty is also warning provinces to start cutting back on healthcare now at a time when our population is aging, and we need it the most.  "Canadians have to understand that everyone will have to pay their share."

Their share of what?  Their share of planes with no engines so Lockheed Martin can prosper?  Their share of nuclear submarines?  Their share of new uniforms for the Monarchist league?  Their share of new prisons when our crime rate is at its lowest in history?  Their share of corporate tax cuts?  Their share of blood for oil wars?


I can think of many ways to find the necessary funds for healthcare.  How about cutting the size of cabinet and their Parliamentary secretaries for a start?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Reform Party Has Come Full Circle With Attacks on Quebec and First Nations

More than two decades ago, when the Reform Party was organizing, several protest groups formed to try to keep this group from gaining influence in Canada.  It was well known that they were xenophobic, homophobic, misogynist and just plain weird.

For the most part the media ignored them as just another Western protest party, so when a motion was raised to round up all "undesirable" immigrants and ship them back, they smiled.  When Sikhs were referred to as "ragheads", they grimaced.  When it was determined that a woman's place was in the home, they shook their head and walked away.

Even the right-wing Toronto Sun called them a "bunch of dung kicking rednecks".

If only they had paid attention then, we might not be in the mess we're in now, with a government that is determined to bootjack every Canadian value we ever held, and turn us into a country based on American conservatism.  When head of the National Citizens Coalition, Harper wrote an oped piece for the National Post, praising Alberta and "its adherence to "American enterprise and individualism", suggesting that it was a better model for Canada.

And  later, "Westerners, but especially Albertans, founded the Reform/Alliance to get "in" to Canada. The rest of the country has responded by telling us in no uncertain terms that we do not share their 'Canadian values.' Fine. Let us build a society on Alberta values." (Dec 8, 2000)

Which he clearly states means an adherence to "American enterprise and individualism".  I think the Tea Party is selling cushions with that slogan embroidered on them.  They make great stocking stuffers.  
The horrendous omnibus crime bill, that even made Texas lawmakers blush, is a devastating blow to this country, but what I find more alarming, are the open attacks on Canada's First Nation communities and Quebec.
The Reform/Alliance had a severe set of policies for dealing with Canada's Aboriginal people, and with a majority, Harper can finally do what he intended to do when he wrote much of the policy.  Secret committee meetings headed by the American Tom Flanagan, author of the racist First Nations, Second Thoughts, that diminish not only their role in Canadian history, but challenges their position, guaranteed by legally binding treaties. 
The committee will be discussing the right to sell land on Reserves, but it's not too hard to determine how this will play out.  Natural Resources on those lands will no longer belong to the community, and if a non-aboriginal wanted to purchase a lot to build a home and the band refused to sell it to them, Ezra Levant would go into another "white people" rant, calling the community "racist".  They would soon be driven out .... again.
Quebec is also feeling the affects of the Reform Party agenda.
As the new Bloc leader, Daniel Paillé says:   "Quebeckers are watching a Conservative majority government reshape Canada into something unfamiliar.  The crackdown on crime, the elimination of the gun registry and the fact that Quebec didn’t get a piece of a gigantic federal contract to build new ships are just the start."
The Bloc are now tied with the NDP for support in that province, and with a feeling of isolation, brought on by these fundamental changes, I think the Bloc will rise again, perhaps stronger than ever.
John Ibbitson said recently that the problem the NDP face is that most of their MPs are from Quebec, while most of their membership is from English speaking Canada.  How do they regain the trust of Quebekers without alienating their core?  Remember that several of their new MPs have separatist leanings, while the NDP is firmly federalist.
I have to admit that I'm very frightened for our future.
I received two emails and one comment on Facebook, from my right-wing followers, about Canada's sixth place showing on the annual "Prosperity Index".  However, what's interesting is how we got that ranking.
Beat out by Norway, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand and Sweden, the indicators were "social equality", "tolerance" and "welcoming immigration policies", all things that the Reformers want to change.
Income disparity is on the rise, and with that goes "social equality".  Our immigration policies are becoming as Draconian as our new law and order agenda, and human rights offices have been closed so that we won't hear how "tolerant" we are now.
I remember a comment I read some time ago.  I can't recall the source, but they said "those who take credit for the rainfall should not complain when they are blamed for the drought".
Canada's right-wing is taking credit for our current standing, despite the fact that they had no hand in the things that earned us that position.  But I can guarantee that if we fall over the next year or two, they will not shoulder any of the blame.
The big question, however, will be if as a people, we change, because ultimately we are the ones responsible for our position on that scale.
There is an interesting segment in the CBC archives, of when Reform decided to stop bashing Quebec, in order to take the party nationwide.  To appeal to the mainstream, they knew that they would have to tone down their rhetoric.
But Harper no longer needs Quebec, so all bets are off.  What a horrible man and what a horrible party.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I Love Time Magazine's Choice For Person of the Year. Us

Time magazine has chosen "The Protester" as Person of the Year.

From the Arab Springs to the "Occupy" movement, those who literally stand up for democracy are being honoured.  Time said it is recognizing protesters because they are “redefining people power” around the world.

"People power".  What a lovely term.  And the nice thing is that just as the word "people" includes those of all ages, cultures and political goals, so too are the protesters.

The 99%.

We rock.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Beautiful Attawapiskat Christmas Carol

The song is Jesus Ahatonia, written by St. Jean de Brebeuf in 1643.  Absolutely beautiful.

Well the S.O.B. Did it. Canada Officially Out of Kyoto

The US announced their energy strategy in 2001 which was largely developed by Vice-President Dick Cheney and the large fossil fuel and nuclear industry companies. Capitalizing on the California energy crisis, which had been brought on by the market manipulations of another close Bush crony, Enron’s Ken Lay, the US Administration called for more of everything — coal, oil, gas, nukes. The only energy item excluded was energy conservation. As Cheney said, “While conservation may be a personal virtue, it has no place in an energy strategy.” Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources at the time, Ralph Goodale, commented that conservation was an essential part of the energy planning of “any intelligent society.” Where will the US find the vast amounts of energy it demands for its massively inefficient and polluting economy? George W. Bush has stated, “We’ve got a plan to make sure that gas comes — flows freely out of Canada into the United States.” (The Energy Onslaught: The Impact of the Bush-Cheney Energy Plan on Canada’s Wilderness. the Sierra Club)
If then energy minister Ralph Goodale, was challenging Dick Cheney by promoting conservation, what was the climate change denial industry going to do?

In her book It's the Crude, Dude; Linda McQuaig discusses the debate around Kyoto. Dick Cheney and the Bush Administration of course hated it, but they also hated any talk of conservation, something Cheney sneered at.  McQuaig reveals how a Canadian anti-Kyoto group sprang up overnight, sponsored by the oil companies, to defend Dick Cheney's position. (p. 133)
Some of Ernie Eves’s top cabinet ministers partied last week with Kyoto-bashers the Canadian Coalition for Responsible Environmental Solutions, a lobby group with close ties to both Ralph Klein and the energy industry ... It took place in the Queen’s Park dining hall and was a very chummy shrimp-and-wine gathering, a chance for members of the coalition -- the Canadian Association of Oil Well Drilling Contractors, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Landmen, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, etc -- to schmooze Tory heavies.
There were speeches by coalition organizers, and a particularly passionate Ontario energy minister, John Baird, made his anti-Kyoto rallying cry. Needless to say, the audience was very receptive. Baird’s parliamentary assistant, Scarborough MPP Steve Gilchrist*, who at one time helped block developers’ plans for the Oak Ridges Moraine, was busy propping open doors with chairs to give relief to a very hot and stuffy room. I couldn’t help remarking to him that perhaps the room was so unbearably hot because of climate change. He was not amused.
While Eves has been slightly slippery on just where he stands on Kyoto, it was interesting to learn that this meeting was organized by Guy Giorno, Mike Harris’s old chief of staff and ultimate Tory party insider. Giorno now works with National Public Relations (NPR), the coalition’s high-priced lobby firm. (Big Oil's Kyoto Party: Harris whiz kid pulls strings at wine and shrimp fete, By Josh Matlow, NOW Magazine, October 24, 2002)
A decade ago John Baird and Harper's former chief of staff, Guy Giorno, were sweating at a shrimp fete and rallying the climate change deniers.

The Canadian Coalition for Responsible Environmental Solutions, was an AstroTurf group created by Giorno and funded by the industry that he lobbied for.

Given that we have had a decade of this nonsense, is it any surprise that Canada is backing out of Kyoto?

The only problem with the billboard at the Copenhagen climate conference, is that Stephen Harper will never, ever, ever, say he's sorry for anything.  His job is to make as much money as possible for the oil industry, and he's doing that job.

I just wish he'd do the one he was elected to do and start standing up for the people of Canada.  We already have enough black eyes, did he need to give us a bloody nose and fat lip too?

The sad thing is that in their search for "balance" the media will somehow make this a good thing, allowing the figures that Harper has pulled out of his butt, to stand as fact.  I wish they'd remember that this is their country too, not to mention their planet.

*Steve Gilchrist was the former boss of Harper MP Paul Calandra

Monday, December 12, 2011

I Think I Can Answer the Question on This Week's Cover of Time

"In Gallup's poll of the Republican faithful at the start of 1966, Nixon was ahead by twenty-three points. Michigan governor George Romney sat fourth. But Romney was the one all the pundits were picking ..." Nixonland, By Rick Perlstein, 2008

George Romney was of course, Mitt's father.  But why did the pundits think that he would beat out Nixon?

I just received this week's Time magazine and on the front cover they have George's son asking "Why don't they like me?"

On Chris Matthews Hardball this week, several on the panel are still predicitng a Romney victory.  However, what they fail to understand is that the base of the party are not looking for a Republican who can win, but a true "conservative" to carry their banner, come hell or high water.

In 1966, the media had not yet caught on to the fact that the Republican Party had been hijacked by the conservative movement.  They simply felt that George Romney was the best man for the job, and assumed that all those voting Republican would see that.

However, Conservatives would not have thrown their support behind Romney the way they did Nixon, earning him not only the candidacy, but the presidency.

Newt Gingrich is surging in the polls despite the fact that he is a serial adulterer, and despite the fact that other polls indicate that he would not do well against Obama.

He is a regular on Fox News so he's one of them.

It's not that don't like you Mitt. You're just not "conservative" enough. It's that simple.

All the attacks in the world, won't change that.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Problem With the Media May Not be Lack of Balance

In her book The Right is Wrong, Arianna Huffington devotes a chapter to the media's search for truth, or abandonment of it, depending on how you look at it.

Huffington is a former Republican who left the party when she realized that they had gone completely crazy.  If you recognize her name, it's because she is the founder of the Huffington Post.

She claims not to be angry with the right-wing media.  After all, they are only doing what we expect them to do, so we don't read their papers, listen to their radio programs,  or watch their television stations.

They have become part of our culture, so we're aware of them, but they don't have an impact on our own views.

Where the problem lies, she believes, is with what is supposed to be the mainstream media.  Those charged with providing unbiased news and seeking the truth in every story.

However, in today's toxic political climate, an attempt to seek the truth, may be an archaic principle, because the mainstream media has allowed the Right's radical ideas to become "ordinary".
A key to understanding the fanatical Right's takeover of the Republican Party and how their ideas spread to the rest of the country is looking at the role of the media—not the Fox News pseudo-newsmen or the talk radio blowhards, but the respectable, mainstream media. Without the enabling of the traditional media—through their obsession with "balance" and their pathological devo­tion to the idea that truth is always found in the middle—the radical. Right would never have been able to have its ideas taken seriously. If not for the media's appeals to balance, nea-conservatives would have been laughed out of the court of public opinion long ago. And when the media do attempt to dig into the ideological underpinnings of debates about policy and current affairs, they get buried in another form of disorder. (1)
Fox News and Sun TV have contrarians on all the time, but only to set them up for ridicule.  They are not seeking the truth, but simply reaffirming their truth, to the people who watch their programs.

When Shelley Glover remarked in a CBC segment, that "it is a well known fact that all cops vote Conservative and all criminals vote Liberal", she should have been rebuked. Yet her insane comment was allowed to stand as legitimate. A contrary point of view, that we have a Conservative law enforcement, instead of one paid with the tax dollars from those of all political stripes?

The Left/Right Paradigm

Richard Nixon was the first to suggest that there was a left wing media bias.  From his inauguration in 1969, until the day he left office in disgrace, he exacted his revenge on the press, once stating:  "One day we'll get them - we'll get them on the ground where we want them.  And we'll stick our heels in, step on them hard, and twist." (2) 

His anger wasn't unjustified, though it had nothing to do with a left bias, but a stalker columnist named Jack Anderson,  who matched dirty journalism with dirty politics.  As for the rest of the media, Nixon simply didn't like getting caught.

However, since that time, the media has enabled the Right to set the tone of debate, by establishing a left/right paradigm.  Thus all arguments are now based on left/right "opinions", instead of established facts.

Climate change is a perfect example of this.  Jim Hansen, a climate scientist and director of NASA's Goddard Institute, wrote in the New York Review of what happens when highly qualified experts try to make their case in the mainstream media.
I used to spread the blame uniformly until, when I was about to appear on public television, the producer informed me that the program "must" also include a "contrarian" who would take issue with claims of global warming. Presenting such a view, he told me, was a common practice in commercial television as well as radio and newspapers. Supporters of public TV or advertisers, with their own special interests, require "balance" as a price for their continued financial support. Gore's book reveals that while more than half of the recent newspaper arti­cles on climate change have given equal weight to such con­trarian views, virtually none of the scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals have questioned the consensus that emissions from human activities cause global warming. As a result, even when the scientific evidence is clear, technical nit­picking by contrarians leaves the public with the false impres­sion that there is still great scientific uncertainty about the reality and causes of climate change. (3)
Can you imagine if today's media was around at the time of other scientific breakthroughs?  When Jonas Salk developed a vaccine for polio, would we have Stanley Knowles (CCF/NDP) and Louis St. Laurent (Liberal) arguing its merits and pushing to immunize all Canadian children, with contrarian Solon Low (Social Credit) calling it a Jewish plot to suck money out of the treasury.

Of course not.  We trusted science and science prevailed in combating the disease.

So why are we leaving information about the devastating results of climate change, and human activity that is accelerating it, to politicians and political pundits?  Harper claims that it is only a "theory" and that Kyoto was "essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations." (The Star, January 30, 2007) and we allow that to stand, just as we allow Glover's remark that all cops vote Conservative to stand.

Instead of truth vs lies, science vs non-scientific opinion, and fact vs myth, it has all come down to left vs right.

Not So Much Anger as Disappointment

I have found myself many times getting angry with the media, and not the obvious right-wing media, whose job it is to spout nonsense, but with the mainstream media.

As Huffington suggests, it is because of disappointment.  We expect more and get less.  In an effort to seek balance, they have allowed the conservative movement to frame all debate.  We know that Canada's crime rate is the lowest in history, but apparently only those on the left pay attention to the facts.  And by giving the contrarian viewpoint, that crime is on the rise, so we need more prisons; there is an implication that the facts may be open to debate.  A confused public shrugs and moves on.  They'll let future generations deal with the mess that this change in direction will create.

During Harper's first and second term, every time that conservative corruption was revealed, the MSM countered it by bringing up the Sponsorship Scandal.  In other words, yes the Harper government was corrupt, but what about those darn Liberals?  They gave him an excuse.  And yet not one mentioned that most involved in the scandal, were hired by Brian Mulroney (4), in the first Adscam.

With such an entrenched right-wing media, the old rules of "balance" no longer applies.  What we need is argument against right-wing nonsense, instead of providing it with a platform.

And What About the Auditions?

There is a joke often thrown around, that many journalists and columnists are jockeying for senate seats, so that their work becomes their portfolio.  It is well known that Mike Duffy had been trying to get a senate seat for years, but it was his complicity in the annihilation of Stéphane Dion, that finally gave him his coveted spot.

But what of others, like Angelo Persichilli?  I used to enjoy his columns, with the exception of the Quebec bashing, until he started acting weird.  Becoming the Liberals' Jack Anderson (2) he turned into a tabloid writer, listening in on private conversations, in an effort to discredit them at every turn.  He went from a respected columnist to a peeping tom.

So should we have been surprised that he was given the top job on Harper's communications team?  They needed someone without integrity, who would do anything to dig up dirt on Harper's political opponents, and he proved with his latest columns, that he was up for the job.  Or I should say down.

We have some very good journalists in this country, but the Chantel Heberts, Evan Solomons and Lloyd Mansbridges, must step up to the plate and debunk conservative spin, instead of turning the crank.  Talk to experts not idiots, or risk joining the latter.


1. Right is Wrong: How the Lunatic Fringe Hijacked America, Shredded the Constitution and Made us All Feel Less Safe (And What You Need to Know to End the Madness), By Arianna Huffington, Aldred A. Knopf, 2008, ISBN: 978-0-307-26966-9, p. 5
2. Poisoning the Press: Richard Nixon, Jack Anderson and the Rise of Washington's Scandal Culture, By Mark Feldstein, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-374-23530-7
3. Huffington, 2008, pp. 23-24
4. On the Take: Crime, Corruption and Greed in the Mulroney Years, By Stevie Cameron, Macfarlane Walter & Ross, 1994, ISBN: 0-921912-73-0

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Are First Nation Complaints All Part of a Commie Plot?

At the root of the Conservative movement on both sides of the border, is the fear of Communism.  In the U.S. they rallied around Joseph McCarthy, and Ronald Reagan became the poster boy for the anti-communist movement.

I read yesterday that Canada's First Nation chiefs are taking their case to the UN, and I think that's a good idea, because clearly the Harper government has overstepped their bounds.
The chiefs asked the UN to appoint a "special rapporteur" to examine whether the Harper government is dealing with the crisis in a way that meets its obligations under Canadian and international treaties concerning First Nations people.  The declaration, which also calls on the federal and provincial governments to respond to communities in dire need, was added to the meeting's agenda at the last minute as the controversy over Attawapiskat grows.
That story reminded me of something I had read several years ago about this party's views on Canada's Aboriginal people, and fortunately, I was able to find the piece again online.  It was written by Alex Roslin, a leading Canadian investigative journalist , and was first published in Windtalker, Volume 17, Issue 12, 2000.

Under the heading: New name, old attitudes - CRCAP, Roslin warns us of what would happen if the Alliance Party was ever able to form government.  And now that the Alliance Party has formed government, his predictions are coming true.

In 2000, the Reform Party underwent a name change, but kept all of their prejudices intact, justified in their mind, because of a commie threat.
So you thought the Cold War was over and communism was dead. Not according to Canada's great right hope, the Canadian Alliance. The new right-wing party believes the red menace is lurking in First Nations communities across the land, and promises to stamp it out.  The Canadian Alliance, which unites Reformers and [provincial] Conservatives [Mike Harris and Ralph Klein] and has set its sights on winning the next federal election, has a platform on Aboriginal issues that promises to bring relations with Native peoples to a boil ... The new party also has an interesting view on Aboriginal self-government: it should be eliminated because it is "communistic."
Jason Kenney who was handling Stockwell Day's leadership campaign, had suggested that Aboriginal self government, would be a breeding ground for Communism, and Diane Ablonczy said that
...the Canadian Alliance would invoke the notwithstanding clause - the device used by the Quebec government to sustain its unconstitutional French language law - to overrule court decisions affecting First Nations and any other issue the party doesn't like.  ... Also new in the Canadian Alliance platform is opposition to "race-based allocation of harvest rights to natural resources." This particular position brings the party into conflict with numerous recent Supreme Court decisions and international legal norms.
Even their own constitutional experts warned that the notwithstanding clause could not be used on Native issues.

When Stephen Harper headed up the Alliance he shared the same views, and in fact, during his 2004 election campaign (then under yet another name: The Conservative Party of Canada) he ran against our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Constitutional experts have warned that the Conservative platform is so anti-charter it is a legal minefield. "A lot of this stuff raises serious constitutional issues." the University of Ottawa's Ed Ratushny told CanWest Global News Service. The experts have identified at least 12 positions that either, violate the charter, are ripe for serious court challenges or would require amendments to the Constitution.
If this government was never prepared to uphold our Constitution or our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, why would we expect them to honour legally binding treaties?
"They are saying they would just disregard treaties," said Jean LaRose, an AFN spokesman.  "They are just as extremist as before, but now they are trying to form a party that would stretch across Canada and form the government. That, for us, is very worrisome."  "Here is a party that wishes to place itself above the law and above the courts," said AFN National Chief Phil Fontaine in a statement. "I wonder if Canadians understand the implications of such a movement. It could override any legislation or court decision if it chose to, using nothing more than its own judgement."
Is that not what this government has been doing since stretching across Canada?  They have placed themselves above the law and if anyone disagrees with them, they simply use the law to tie things up in the courts until issues reach their best before date.

A federal court has just ruled that Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz "broke the law by not consulting with the Canadian Wheat Board or holding a farmer vote before moving to end the board's grain marketing monopoly.
"Had a meaningful consultative process been engaged to find a solution which meets the concerns of the majority, the present legal action might not have been necessary," Justice Douglas Campbell wrote in his decision. "... The minister will be held accountable for his disregard for the rule of law."
"Held accountable"?  Since when has this government ever been held accountable for anything? 

That idiot Peter Mackay is even thinking of suing Opposition members for suggesting that he was lying about his helicopter joy ride.

Of course, he'd have to sue Stephen Harper too, who gave a conflicting story to Mackay's, by saying he needed the helicopter because he was called back early from a fishing trip.

We elect MPs with the idea that they will either be part of the government, or part of the body elected to oppose the government, by trying to keep them honest.  What good are they if they can simply be sued by the government for challenging them?

And again ... this is what passes for democracy in Harperland.

I hope the UN will step in and make Harper step up, but I'm not counting on it.  He also campaigned against the United Nations.
"When it comes to issues of this country's vital security and national defence, you don't put that to the United Nations, which, quite frankly, is a coalition of everybody—the good, bad and ugly," (Stephen Harper, Toronto Star, February 28, 2004)
Will he simply claim that the Aboriginal communities are a threat to our security?  I mean aren't they all Commies?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Attawapiskat Sheds Light on Canada's Ghetto System

There was a joke floating around several years ago, with an American and Canadian arguing the benefits of their respective countries.

The Canadian lashed out at the American "At least in Canada, we don't have ghettos", to which the American replied,  "I know. You call them "reserves""  Most of our cities do have ghettos, areas set aside for the poor, but the way in which many of our First Nations are forced to live, gives Canada no moral authority to criticize anyone.

I was sent a link to a story yesterday, a press release from 2005, after an agreement was reached between the community of Attawapiskat and De Beers Canada. (1)  There was a sense of camaraderie, as both sides were simply then waiting for the environmental assessment before the project could begin.  De Beers had held over 100 community meetings to sell the mines as a major boon to the economy of the region.

Former Attawapiskat Chief Mike Carpenter said , “De Beers Canada’s diamond mine is the first and only opportunity our community has ever had to break free of our soul-destroying poverty”
... among other issues, the mine sparked debate within the community regarding how to proceed given their longstanding interest in environmental protection and cultural preservation on one hand, and the economic benefits the mine could bring on the other (Inf. #2, 8). According to one informant, “the community was wary of the colonial history of De Beers and the mining industry`s track record with Aboriginal communities” (2)
This was to be a partnership, with the promise of prosperity for all.

So what went wrong?  Why four years later were the people of Attawapiskat forced to put up road blocks, and why two years after that, are we still seeing images of "soul-destroying poverty"?  According to residents, De Beers has not been honouring the Impact Benefit Agreement (3), and viewing the images we've seen the past week or so, it would be hard not to agree.

In Ezra Levant's rant, in which he blamed the "greedy" aboriginal community, he implied that at least one resident blamed the situation on their leaders, meaning that they agreed with the accusations of fund mismanagement.  However, when I read comments from the community, the anger with their leaders, is over the agreement to allow De Beers to set up shop in the first place.

Besides worsening poverty, the community is subjected to racial attacks, workplace inequality and environmental damage, as a result of the mining operation. (4)

De Beers claimed in 2005, that they were sensitive to the needs of the community, understanding that once the diamonds were gone, they would be too, so wanted to leave the area in a better condition than it was when they went in.  Instead they will be leaving Attawapiskat, not only poorer, but in turmoil.

But What of That Big Screen TV?

The right-wing noise machine has made much of the image of a big screen TV, a hockey rink with a Zamboni and a late model truck found in a ditch.  If we gave them all that money, why did they waste it on such frivolous things?

A big screen TV would not be out of place in the homes of De Beers executives.  In fact if we were watching a video of one of their estates and in the backyard there was an old rundown shack, we would question why with all their money they didn't have the eyesore removed.

The sight of that TV surrounded by such squalor, is actually a symbol of promises made and promises not kept.  There should have been a big TV in every home and no one in the community should be forced to live in poverty.

The Victor Mine is producing 600,000 carats of diamonds per year.  The provincial government receives an 11% levee and the federal government, 15% in corporate taxes.  All money coming from diamonds being extracted from land owned by the Attawapiskat people.

Maybe instead of sending in auditors to examine the books of the reserve, we should send the auditors to the government offices and De Beers.  Where is the adequate housing and largess, promised by this "partnership"?  They are not receiving "public" hand outs, but their share of tax revenues and corporate profit.

Blogger BC Blue, brought up NDP’s Ian Capstick's interview on Power and Politics.  Capstick speaks of visiting the reserve with Jack Layton, and being so moved that they sent sports equipment.  I have to admit that my first reaction was sports equipment?  Are you kidding me?

However, sometimes small gestures can make a huge difference.

I'm reminded of a story that I read several years ago in the Readers Digest.  It was from a Canadian Vet who had been in Holland during the Liberation.  He spoke of Dutch children who would often surround their camp, and how moved the Canadian soldiers were by the forlorn faces of these young people who had known nothing but war.

So the cook took what extra provisions they had and whipped up a batch donuts, and that snapshot in history, of those sticky smiling faces, left a lasting impression on the author of the story.  That cook couldn't change what had happened, but he offered a glimmer of hope, and sometimes that's all we can do. 

Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence kicked out the auditor sent by Harper, telling them that she just wasn't going to take it anymore.  I am so proud of her.

The Harper government only moves in when the corporate sector is in trouble.

When lumber giant Domtar, was facing blockades at Barriere Lake, Harper placed the reserve under Third Party Management, and replaced the elected chief with corporate friendly Casey Ratt.

When a doctor reported a high occurrence of a rare form of cancer at Fort Chipewa, downstream from the tar sands, the Harper government vilified the physican, and when he appeared at a Parliamentary committee with an environmentalist, Conservative Peter Braid, that bumbling idiot, went on the attack, attempting to discredit them both.

That's what passes for democracy in Harperland.

His recent attempted takeover of the affairs of Attawapiskat, is just more corporate protectionism, and we all need to stand with Chief Spence.  How much more can they be victimized?


1. Attawapiskat gives thumbs up to mining project: The Victor diamond mine project passed its latest hurdle. Wawatay News, July 14, 2005: Volume 32 #14

2. Attawapiskat First Nation, Canadian Business Ethics Research Network,  2009

3. Attawapiskat members issue demands to DeBeers, Wawatay News, February 18, 2009
4. Attawapiskat unhappy over Victor Mine issues: Environmental, contract and discrimination concerns emerge, By: Nick Stewart, Northern Ontario Business, December 7, 2009

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Even Canadian Bankers are Hoping that the "Occupy" Movement is a Success

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released a report yesterday, showing that Canada's income disparity is growing faster even than that of the U.S.  Low paying jobs and a diminishing middle class, are partly to blame, but also deregulation, that allowed the wealthy to become even wealthier, is a huge factor.

Jim Flaherty was on the defensive in the House yesterday, suggesting that his government has been creating good jobs, but all they created was a marketing strategy:  The Economic Action Plan.  They had no real economic plan, other than to move lobbyists and Goldman Sachs into their offices on Parliament Hill.

Do we really expect that lobbyists have our best interests at heart?  Or Goldman Sachs?

Do you know what Goldman Sachs employee Mark Carney did before being named to head up up the Bank of Canada?  He advised Russian oligarchs during the period of mass privatization, after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

According to Wikipedia:
During the 1990s, once Boris Yeltsin took office, the oligarchs emerged as well-connected entrepreneurs who started from nearly nothing and got rich through participation in the market via connections to the corrupt, but democratically elected, government of Russia during the state's transition to a market-based economy.  The oligarchs became extremely unpopular with the Russian public, and are commonly thought to be the cause of much of the turmoil that plagued the country following the collapse of the Soviet Union.  The Guardian described the oligarchs as "about as popular with your average Russian as a man idly burning bundles of £50s outside an orphanage".
Historian Daniel W. Michaels suggests that the Russian people were better off under Communism, as the word "corrupt" has replaced "authoritarian".  You would think that capitalists would want to make their system more palpable, in order for it to survive, but instead they have only exposed the ugliness.

Bankers on the side of the "Occupy" Movement?

In October, TD Bank CEO Ed Clark, spoke of the imminent threat to Canada's economy, citing several root causes. 

Consumer and employer confidence, demographic forces that are causing demands for government services to grow faster than revenues, and globalization that has produced massive increases in income around the world, but its benefits have been unevenly distributed.

Clark's speech combines the economic with the social, something that is missed under neoconservatism.  As Margaret Thatcher once said, "There is no such thing as society".  Neocons believe that if you allow the rich to get richer, the benefits will "trickle down", but that isn't happening.  It didn't work for George Bush and it won't work for Stephen Harper.

However, Clark presents another cause of our economic woes:  "divisive politics", and he urged business leaders and politicians to "stand against divisiveness and political extremes."

Even with a majority, Harper continues to play political games instead of focusing on the needs of Canadians, and engages in Nixonian politics, instead of governing.

During the 2006 election campaign the media asked Paul Martin how much he thinks about strategy.  He replied "seldom".  They asked Stephen Harper the same question, and he replied "24/7".  Nixon's response to the same question was 6 days out of 7, and that was after he won the election.  It's politics all the time, and the constant game playing is hurting everyone.

At a time when all elected officials should be putting their heads together to sort out this mess, the Conservatives prefer to go it alone, suggesting that only they can save us.

Only they can bail out our banks and then lie about it.

Only they can spend $18 million more on gazebos for Tony Clement's riding, than infrastructure in Attawapiskat.

Only they can expand our prisons when Canada's crime rate is the lowest in history.

Only they can buy planes without engines and contemplate the purchase of nuclear submarines, while Canadian citizens are suffering.

Only they can bloat their cabinet and enlarge their executive with Parliamentary secretaries, meaning fewer elected MPs working for anyone other than the Conservative Party of Canada.

Ed Clark also offers some advise to the Occupy movement:
Asked by the Toronto Star what he would tell the protesters, he said: "My main advice is stick to your guns. When people say, 'You don’t have a solution,' say, 'Of course we don't. If there was a solution, don't you think people would be doing it?' To ask the people who occupy Wall Street or Bay Street to have a full answer is absurd. They're doing their job which is to say, 'If you think this [system] is working for everyone, it's not.'"
Globalization isn't working. Neoconservatism isn't working. Partisan politics are not working. 

This government is failing us so we need to build on this "Occupy" movement.  We need more government revenue, not less, but instead of hitting workers, as Flaherty has done, we must go after corporations and our wealthiest citizens, demanding that they start paying their share.

We've propped them up long enough.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

MacKay's Joy Ride Not a One Of, But Part of Conservative Culture of Entitlement

I love the above cartoon from the Montreal Gazette.  Brilliant.

Did he or didn't he?  Only the prime minister knows for sure.  Give me a break.  Do they honestly expect us to believe that this was the first and only time this government used our military as their own private airline?

It first came to our attention in 2006, when Harper and the boys used a military jet to fly to a hockey game.  Harper defended it by saying that he paid for his own tickets.  Gee, really?

By 2007, we learned that the hockey game was not the only recreational event charged to the taxpayers' credit card.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been flying in military jets to Conservative events and even a hockey game — despite having once railed against their use by the previous Liberal government.  Invoices obtained by the Canadian Press show Harper flew Challenger executive jets three times in 2006 — and the Conservatives only fully reimbursed the military for one of the flights, which are estimated to cost more than $2,000 per hour.
By 2009, the hourly rate skyrocketed and so did the abuse.
The Harper government says it is unable to provide the names of passengers who have flown on its fleet of Challenger executive jets since 2006 because it would take longer than a month-and-a-half to assemble the list.  The jets, operated by the Department of National Defence, have made more than 1,900 flights with the prime minister, the governor general, cabinet ministers or other senior officials aboard since the Conservatives formed the government. The aircraft logged 9,916 hours in the air over that period. (Tories silent on who flew on executive jets. Compiling list to take too much time, By Glen McGregor, The Ottawa Citizen, November 19, 2009)
DND was unable to provide the information because Harper refused to allow them to record the names of the people who were flying around at our expense. Far too easy to match them to donor names, I suspect.

However:  'DND did release figures that show that the average cost of feeding passengers has increased sharply since the Tories formed government."

Nothing is too good for the king and his entourage. 1900 joy rides by 2009, and we're worried about one helicopter trip?

Durban Climate Conference Tells Peter Kent to Stay Home. I Wish He Would Just go Away!

Lesley Hughes was a popular CBC radio host and respected journalist, who had always been an advocate for the less fortunate members of society. In 2008, she was urged to run for the Liberal Party of Canada, in the Winnipeg riding of Kildonan–St Paul, to challenge incumbent Joy Smith.

Smith was a cohort of Stockwell Day's,  a social conservative who handled his Manitoba campaign when he was running for the party leadership.  Since Kildonan–St Paul is a swing riding, the Conservatives feared that Lesley Hughes could unseat Ms. Smith.

Waiting until it was too late to register another candidate, Peter Kent and the B'Nai Brith, publicly accused Hughes of being anti-Semitic, because of an article she had written in 2002.

It was called Get the Truth, and was in response to the "friendly fire" deaths of 4 Canadian soldiers.  Hughes, like most Canadians, questioned our involvement in the Afghan war.

Kent pointed to one paragraph, as being an attack on Jews.
German Intelligence (BND) claims to have warned the U.S. last June, the Israeli Mossad and Russian Intelligence in August. Israeli businesses, which had offices in the Towers, vacated the premises a week before the attacks, breaking their lease to do it. About 3000 Americans working there were not so lucky.
She does not suggest that the Jewish people were behind the attack, only that German intelligence had warned of the attack, weeks before, and since it looked like nothing was being done in the U.S., Israel was not about to let their people be victimized, just in case the reports were true.  And she provides her source.

Yet, with the help of the media, she was painted as being anti-Semitic and one who believes in a "Jewish conspiracy".  The incident not only cost her the election, since Dion was forced to remove her name, but severely damaged her career.  (B'Nai Brith Canada tells Liberals to dump star candidate)

This was not the first time that they tried to discredit Progressive candidates.

As a former journalist, I was surprised that Kent would sink to this level, but then he was with Canwest Global, a step up from Fox News, though it depends on what you're stepping in.

Peter Kent would also make headlines for his involvement in trying to influence student elections at York University.
"The Conservative party has no authority at all for getting involved in student politics and neither does the York administration. We're an incorporated, independent body," charged Krisna Saravanamuttu, who was elected president of the York Federation of Students in the controversial vote. "Prime Minister Stephen Harper's foot soldiers are deliberately interfering with student elections to help candidates more friendly to their policies." (1)
Through a Freedom of Information request, the student federation obtained 50 pages of email exchanges in which assistants for the two politicians, who represent student-heavy ridings north of the campus, repeatedly questioned university executives about the results of a student council vote this spring.

The students were right that the Conservatives had no authority over their elections.

I can't look at Peter Kent without being angry, and the thought of him representing us at an international climate conference, makes my blood boil.

He was shown on the National, blaming the Liberals for signing onto Kyoto in the first place.  Their biggest blunder says Kent.  And to bring some "balance" into the story, the National interviewed environmental expert Jack Mintz.  Isn't he an economist?  But then they can't really interview an actual scientist, because Christian Paradis (2), also not a scientist, has them all bound and gagged. Suncor got to weigh in though, and guess what side they're on?

Mintz is using China as a scapegoat, but even they have a better policy than we do.

And where are the environmentalists in this story? Our climate policies are now being decided by an ex-journalist (Kent), a corporate lawyer (Paradis) and Suncor.

This reminds me of a joke I shared before, when another non-scientist (Bernhard Rust) was heading up the science ministry in 1930s Germany.  It was published in a 1933 Time Magazine story, entitled 'Science: Jews Without Jobs':
Two Germans were eyeing a burly lout in the Nazi uniform who was striding through a university hall. First man: "What is the policeman doing here?" Second man: "Sh, sh. That is the man selected to succeed Einstein."
I chuckle at the media suggesting that at Copenhagen we agreed to do what the U.S. does, despite the fact that Italy and Canada were the only G8 nations not invited to attend Obama's private meeting. The Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was back home after being attacked by a protester earlier in the week, and Harper should have just stayed home. (3)

We were also warned by Americans that we should fend for ourselves:
.... speaking before a House of Commons committee on the environment, three experts on the U.S. effort to pass a climate change bill suggested Canada might be better off working on its own legislation then working to link it to whatever legislation the U.S. passes.
Gotta' love the media though. If Harper says it, it must be true.

The Durban climate conference is now telling Peter Kent to stay home.  I agree that he shouldn't attend the conference, but why do we have to be stuck with him?


1. Stop meddling, students tell Tories, By Louise Brown, Toronto Star, July 6, 2009

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

3. Obama makes last-ditch effort to save climate deal, By Allan Woods, Toronto Star, December 18, 2009

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Half a Century Later and We are Losing Half a Century

The Canadian Manifesto: How the American Neoconservatives Stole My Country

In researching the conservative movement on both sides of the border, one thing becomes clear.  In the U.S. they don't like to be referred to as Republican any more than Stephen Harper likes to be called a Tory.  They are CONSERVATIVE, and there is a difference.  The Republican Party is only the vehicle on their route to power.

Historian Richard Perlstein, writing of the 1960s conservative takeover of the GOP, says "A right-wing fringe took over the party from the ground up" while the Eastern establishment has been reduced to a "fringe looking on in bafflement". (Nixonland, 2003)

The picture above is definitely worth a thousand words.  Nelson Rockefeller, who should have beaten Barry Goldwater for the nomination in 1964, George Romney and of course Ronald Reagan.

Mitt looks a lot like his dad, and like his dad he could very well be obliterated by history.  George Romney was a moderate who opposed the Vietnam War and supported Civil Rights.  The conservatives had to crush him, and now feel the same way about his son
This is important for Canadians to understand, because Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada, were born of this movement. 

Ernest Manning* and his son Preston, planned to take over the PC Party in the 1960s, until Robert Stanfield, a Red Tory, won the leadership, and they knew they'd have to wait.  They wrote a book Political Realignment, that called for a definitive right-wing party to challenge a definitive left-wing party, and no soft centre.
It's not hard to see how we are being realigned, though I think Canadians may finally be balking as such an unnatural situation in a country that has always been somewhere in the middle.
Colin Brown, the man who created the National Citizens Coalition, initially to oppose public healthcare, read Political Realignment, contacted Ernest Manning and together they built the NCC into a voice for corporate interests.  Stephen Harper ran the NCC before running for the Alliance leadership (they kept his position open for four years in case it didn't work out).
Gerry Nicholls, Harper's VP when he headed up the organization, was fired for criticizing his former boss.  Not his wasteful spending, though he did publicly denounce it, but because he committed the mortal sin of suggesting that Stephen Harper was not "conservative" enough.  
If lynching was legal they would have strung him up.
Perlstein tells us that while American Conservatives were devoted to Barry Goldwater, they had their suspicions of Richard Nixon, who had also initially spoke out against the Vietnam War.  It wasn't until a young Nixon aid, spoke to his Conservative allies and assured them that Nixon was only trying to garner support from moderates, that they agreed to back him. 
That young aid?  Pat Buchanan.
Being devoutly anti-Communist and anti-Civil Rights, Ronald Reagan was never in doubt.  When he ran against incumbent Jerry Brown, as Governor of California, Brown tried to expose Reagan's extremism, that included his ties to the John Birch Society.
However, as one Reagan insider told the Brown team: "A Bircher isn't identifiable, but a negro is."  At least they had the "'right' colour" on their side.
The conservative movement, as well as the Religious Right, has always been about race, and they appear to be successfully wiping out the last 50 years of tolerance.   One Kentucky Church is even banning interracial marriage.  How long before others follow suit?
This week Ezra Levant responded to the Attawapiskat crisis with so many "white people" chants, I was waiting for his Freudian to slip, and he break into a "white power" shout.
Richard Nixon and Stephen Harper shared the political expertise of Arthur Finkelstein, but it was the Reagan/Harper guru, Paul Weyrich, who taught them the art of hatred.
Harper's decision to cut 31.5 million in funding to Ontario immigrant programs, and his new immigration policies, must have the late Weyrich looking up, cackling in the flames.
*Suncor founder, the late J. Howard Pew, gave money to Manning, Reagan, Goldwater and Nixon.  His Pew Foundation now supports many right-wing causes.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Ezra Levant's Rant Has a Ring of Truth, But His Din is Deafening

One of my right-wing friends asked me to watch Ezra Levant's take on the Attawapiskat crisis, feeling, I suppose, that he presented a compelling argument.

Levant is right when he suggests that it is hypocritical for Charlie Angus to use the photos of the devastation against Stephen Harper.  Angus has been the MP in the riding for seven years.  Why have we not seen these photos before?

In fact, the NDP MPP, Gilles Bisson has served the area since 1990.

In fairness, though, how often does any MP or MPP share images of the horrendous living conditions that many of our aboriginal people are forced to live under?  This should not be "a scoop".

HOWEVER, the rest of the 11 1/2 minutes on the video, is just noise.

Noisy false accusations.  Noisy skewed figures.  Noise, noise, noise.

Right off the top, the Harper government does not give $34 million a year to the band.  According to Âpihtawikosisân, for the 2010/11 fiscal year, the federal government contributed only $17.6 million.  The rest of their budget (which they post online) comes from other sources.

The five year, $90 million figure used by Harper, includes a school that had to be torn down because it was built over toxic waste.

Levant tries to make this about "white guilt" and reverse bigotry, because we don't have faith in native people to take care of themselves.  But he ignores the fact they are not given the same allowance for education and healthcare, as non-native communities.  Everything has to come from these allotments.
An important fact that many commentators forget (or are unaware of) is that section 91(24) of the Constitution Act of 1867 gives the Federal Crown exclusive powers over "Indians, and Lands reserved for the Indians."  You see, for non-natives, the provinces are in charge of funding things like education, health-care, social services and so on.  For example, the Province of Ontario allocated $10,730 in education funding per non-native pupil in the 2010-2011 fiscal year. For most First Nations, particularly those on reserve, the federal government through INAC is responsible for providing funds for native education.
The federal payments are legal treaty commitments, not "hand outs" as implied.   If they spent it all on housing, how could they afford other basic Canadian rights, like the right to education and health services?

Levant also mentions the fact the De Beers has been generous to Attawapiskat, but they just don't appreciate it.  However, in order to mine in their backyard, De Beers had to sign an Impact Benefit Agreement, contractually obligating them to provide training and job opportunities, to the native community.  And the reason the Native workers don't return home to build a house is because as part of the Indian Act, they can't get a mortgage on a reserve.

This reduces them to children, depending on their father figures, Papa Harper and Papa De Beers, with no mention that Attawapiskat's "baby daddies" (???) are legally responsible for the things they provide.  How much profit is De Beers making from that mine, and the best they can do is send some old tin work shacks that they are no longer using???!!!  They should be ashamed, not congratulated.

Many of our aboriginal Canadians are living in Third World conditions, and this story only shone a light on Canada's shame.

It is rich that Harper is sending auditors to Attawapiskat, when he recently reduced funding to the Comptroller and Auditor General, whose jobs are to keep track of his spending.

Levant's rant was hate mongering.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Count how many times he screams "white people".  "White, white, white", as if it's a badge of honour and privilege.

Harper's base will eat it up.  Fortunately, Harper's base does not represent the views of the majority of Canadians.

And neither does Ezra Levant.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Conservatives Did What? Please, Not While I'm Eating!

John Kenneth Galbraith, once said of Richard Nixon:   "Our nation stands at a fork in the political road. In one direction lies a land of slander and scare; the land of sly innuendo, the poison pen, the anonymous phone call and hustling, pushing, shoving; the land of smash and grab and anything to win. This is Nixonland. America is something different."

Lawrence Martin in his book Harperland, writes:  " [A]mong this breed of new conservative was a different temperament. It was an attitude not readily found in the traditional Canadian middle-of-the-road parties, but more common to a strain of American Republicans. It was a current of bitterness, an anger ..."

David Emerson, the Liberal who crossed the floor for a cabinet position in the Harper government, admitted that he "couldn't fathom the intense level of acrimony. He had never seen this kind of thing with the Liberals. But with Harper and his men, it was woven deep."  He spoke of them as "viscerally hating their political opposition", saying that "Sometimes it was just startling to me."

Former Liberal MP Keith Martin, who also served in both parties, described the Conservatives as politicians who had been in an environment "that has bred a hatred". (Harperland p.3)

It's as though they can't help themselves.

Historian Richard Perlstein said of Nixon that he was a "serial collector of resentments", and those resentments created the kind of visceral politics that Nixon engaged in.  Says Perlstein, "By the end of the 1960s, Nixonland came to emcompass the entire political culture of the U.S.  It would define it, in fact, for the next fifty years." (Nixonland p. 46)

You would think that with Harper winning his majority, he might try to play nice.  In fact, didn't many journalists suggest that the only reason Harper was so combative and controlling was because he had a minority?

We learned recently of prank phone calls in Liberal, Irwin Cotler's riding of Mount Royal.  The calls originated with a company called Campaign Research, used by many Conservative candidates during the last federal campaign.

Blogger Sixth Estate reminds us that Campaign Research was founded by several Conservative insiders, including  Nick Kouvalis, the Rob Ford election aide from Toronto, and Aaron Wudrick, the Conservative campaign manager who was caught a few years ago calling for the creation of Conservative “shell organizations” and “front groups” on university campuses.  He worked for Peter Braid.

The Conservatives have finally admitted that they were behind the phone calls.

There is nothing illegal in what they did, just slimy.

We have had five years of this kind of politicking and it's growing weary.  Can we expect another five years, or worse, as in the case of Nixon's influence, fifty?

I would much rather try to eat looking at the picture of the men at the top of the page, than try to eat, listening to this story.  It comes down to who are the biggest asses.