North Cowichan municipality was very near to signing a contract to tear up one of the four grass soccer pitches on Sherman Road and replace it with an artificial turf surface, but a motion by Councillor Robert Douglas to put off the decision for two weeks was accepted by a unanimous vote.
The rationale given to the previous municipal council, which voted unanimously to replace the beautiful grass field, was to add a few days for games when our raincoast’s weather makes the fields very wet. They can still play on the grass but our kids’ soccer cleats damage the grass, increasing maintenance costs.
North Cowichan Mayor Jon Lefebure
North Cowichan Mayor Jon Lefebure claims to know little about the technology but has been assured by the staff that there are no problems.
That opinion is supported by the Cowichan Valley Soccer Association, headed up by local sports’ icon Bill Keserich.
Why then are the Toronto Blue Jays paying the University of Guelph $600,000 to research the best species of grass that can be grown under their Sky Dome, to replace their existing artificial turf field.
When the SkyDome opened in 1989, 10 of Major League Baseball’s 26 teams played on artificial turf. By 2000 that number had shrunk to seven, and since 2010 only the Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays have played their home games on imitation fields.
NC Councillor Rob Douglas
Why did Mayor Jay Gillian, of Ocean City, New Jersey, cancel the contract to install a new artificial turf football field in Carey Stadium?
Why are the world’s men soccer league tournament games always played on natural grass fields?
Why have the women’s world league gone to court to demand that they also be allowed to play their championship matches on natural grass?
Why has Norway banned the use of artificial turf for sports fields?
Why has the National Football League’s repeatedly rejected the use of artificial turf?
Why have local governments in San Carlos, Woodside, Danville, and Atherton, California, decided against installing artificial turf on the sports fields?
It is not easy to pin down answers to those questions but because it involves the bodies and lives of our children, our elected local politicians are right to stop and take a serious second look.
Players of a variety of sports generally like the “feel” of playing on grass, they say their performance improves on grass. They also complain about the injuries unique to the unnatural turf.
Amy Griffin, University of Washington women’s soccer coach
It was the women soccer players who finally opened the Pandora’s box of frightening health problems in an NBC TV news special that featured the experience of Amy Griffin, University of Washington women’s soccer coach.
Here’s how the NBC report started, “It was 2009. Two young female goalies Griffin knew had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Griffin, associate head coach for the University of Washington’s women’s soccer team, had started to visit the women and other athletes in local hospitals, helping them pass the time during chemo with war stories from her three decades of coaching.
That day, the nurse looked down at the woman Griffin was sitting with and said, “Don’t tell me you guys are goalkeepers. You’re the fourth goalkeeper I’ve hooked up this week.”
With a quarter century of coaching under her belt Griffin realized that it was only ten or twelve years ago when she noticed athletes suffering from non-Hodgkin lymphoma and leukaemia, both forms of blood cancer.
She tracked down 38 young soccer players who developed cancers and found that 34 of them were soccer goalies.
Later one of her players receiving chemotherapy Said to Griffin, “I just have a feeling it has something to do with those black dots.”
Black dots? Griffin’s mind raced to the black rubber that gives the artificial turf it’s bounce, it’s cushion. It’s called crumb rubber and is made from ground up tires with the industrial name Styrene-Butadiene Rubber. SBR comes in two types according to how it is processed, by emulsion or by solution.
According to the type of tires used it requires 20,000 to 40,000 to make the crumb rubber for a single field. The pieces measure from 1/16 to 1/4 of an inch.
Soccer players who play of artificial turf know that after a game they are picking the “little black dots” out of their uniforms, their hair, their cleats. Goalkeepers spend a lot of their time in the air and landing hard on the turf.
Hundreds, maybe thousands of times during both practices and games they hit the ground and know that each time small puffs of black dots hit their bodies. Some the crumb rubber ends up in cuts and abrasions they sustain, some in their ears, nose, mouths.
So what’s in the crumb rubber that could cause cancer and other illnesses?
Tire manufacturers use an endless list of different chemicals to manufacture tires, so it’s impossible to know what is in each batch of crumb rubber, but here is a list that the US Environmental Protection Agency has published:
There is no way that any chemicals in the crumb rubber can be proven to cause any individual illness but North Cowichan’s current council members have made a wise decision to learn more about what our kids will be playing on and what alternatives are available.
It looks like the North Cowichan voters have selected very sound council, which is working together to solve problems rather that a lot of grandstanding we have been accustomed to.
Our rights and freedoms are disappearing before our eyes.
The new normal is ‘Orwellian’ and it is taking hold as commonplace. Like a lobster in a pot we are being conditioned to be accepting of these dangerous intrusions.
Harper’s Bill C 51-The so called anti terrorism bill promises further intrusions, much further and all encompassing. Privacy it seems is being discounted at an ever increasing pace.
Check out this CBC report:
Give me your password!
The case of a Quebec man charged with obstructing border officials by refusing to give up his smartphone password has raised a new legal question in Canada, a law professor says.
Alain Philippon, 38, of Ste-Anne-des-Plaines, Que., refused to divulge his cellphone password to Canada Border Services Agency during a customs search Monday night at Halifax Stanfield International Airport.
Philippon had arrived in Halifax on a flight from Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. He’s been charged under section 153.1 (b) of the Customs Act for hindering or preventing border officers from performing their role under the act.
According to the CBSA, the minimum fine for the offence is $1000, with a maximum fine of $25,000 and the possibility of a year in jail.
The CBSA wouldn’t say why Philippon was selected for a smartphone search.
Rob Currie is the director of the Law and Technology Institute at the Schulich School of Law. (CBC)
In an email, a border services spokesperson wrote, “Officers are trained in examination, investigative and questioning techniques. To divulge our approach may render our techniques ineffective. Officers are trained to look for indicators of deception and use a risk management approach in determining which goods may warrant a closer look.”?
BC Lib’s urbane quick witted, sharp tongued Mike DeJong is doing a not so slow burn over constantly being taunted by Cowichan NDP MLA ‘Brother Bill Routley’ for their sleazy tactics and heartless governance.
Liberal’s Todd Stone was fuming
Well actually Routley admitted that one of their MLA’s might have a heart.
Hearts of stone Bill, hearts of stone.
Todd Stone transportation minister was fuming about Routley’s repeated use of ‘Jiggery Pokery’.
Mike DeJong rattled by Brother Bill Routley
Perhaps Brother Bill should stop using the catchy term and just call it ‘Bullshit’ for that is the applicable term for the BC Libs handling of much of the peoples business.
Routley, Bill is getting to them and the obedient MSM types have been following DeJong’s ‘Talking Points’ to a tee.
Cowichan NDP MLA Bill Routley
Well, in Victoria they may have been following them to a tea, at the Empress perhaps.
Referring to the contaminated soil threat to the Shawnigan Watershed and Shawnigan Lake, Brother Bill Routley, Cowichan’s NDP MLA calls ‘Jiggery Pokery’ on the foot dragging BC Liberals.
Their environmental record is almost traitorous. Look at the Mount Polley disaster and the pending tragic impacts of 5 million tones of contaminated soil destined for Shawnigan.
The community rallied, raised money and represented by the Shawnigan Residents Association (SRA) and the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) they spent over a million dollars on a 2014 protracted appeal before the BC Environmental Appeal Board.
In spite of the overwhelming case against the BC Governemnt approved project we still wait while the Libs bob and weave refusing to release a final decision.
I am beginning to detect a growing trend towards changing the capitalist economic model from one in which profit is the only priority to one in which wellness is the priority, and profit must be made within that paradigm.
The fact that this interview should appear in one of the most prestigious and influential German publications just as the European powers are meeting to address climate change, should not go unremarked.
Can we still stop global warming? Only if we radically change our capitalist system, argues author Naomi Klein. In an interview with SPIEGEL, she explains why the time has come to abandon small steps for a radical new approach.
John Pilger’s thorough examination of fascism from the German Nazis Holocaust through to the US led attacks on Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Kosovo,Vietnam, and the sorry list goes on.
Read about President Obama’s Tuesday ‘CIA’ kill list, the tie in with the evolution of US backed radical groups culminating in todays murderous thugs known as ISIS.
by JOHN PILGER-Counterpunch
The recent 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was a reminder of the great crime of fascism, whose Nazi iconography is embedded in our consciousness. Fascism is preserved as history, as flickering footage of goose-stepping blackshirts, their criminality terrible and clear.
Yet in the same liberal societies, whose war-making elites urge us never to forget, the accelerating danger of a modern kind of fascism is suppressed; for it is their fascism.
“To initiate a war of aggression…,” said the Nuremberg Tribunal judges in 1946, “is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”
Had the Nazis not invaded Europe, Auschwitz and the Holocaust would not have happened. Had the United States and its satellites not initiated their war of aggression in Iraq in 2003, almost a million people would be alive today; and Islamic State, or ISIS, would not have us in thrall to its savagery.
They are the progeny of modern fascism, weaned by the bombs, bloodbaths and lies that are the surreal theatre known as news.
We are often referred to as the ‘Left Coast’ due the liberal left tendencies of many west coasters. The way the Ottawa’s largesse is doled out, we could just as easily be known as the ‘Left Out Coast.’
Age old arguments of the West getting the short end of the federal stick have always been a sore spot when comparing our representation to the Maritimes.
One of the sorest of sore points is BC Ferries. We are being ripped off through mismanagement provincially and funding inequities federally. Stephen Hume’s article spells it out.
Ferry subsidies: Ottawa spends $493 per passenger on the Nova Scotia to Newfoundland run, while BC Ferries gets $1.41 per passenger
By Stephen Hume-Vancouver Sun Columnist
The Marine Atlantic ferry Atlantic Visions serves the Nova Scotia to Newfoundland route. Photograph by: Handout
Atlantic Canada’s ferry passengers get 350 times the federal subsidies that ferry passengers in B.C. receive, a study prepared for the Union of B.C. Municipalities finds.
Federal funding for West Coast ferries relative to East Coast ferries shows that Marine Atlantic is subsidized $493 per passenger. BC Ferries’ federal subsidy is $1.41 per passenger, the analysis notes. Ferry travellers here get about 0.2 per cent of the federal financial support counterparts on the Atlantic get, although ferry use here is 20 times greater.
Transport Canada says Atlantic subsidies are driven by constitutional requirements. West Coast subsidies are set by a 1977 agreement with B.C. But B.C.’s population has since doubled. It’s now twice that of all Atlantic Canada. Vancouver Island’s population is 48 per cent larger than Newfoundland’s.
Diametrically opposed values embraced, yet they were both declared Oscar winners.
The fight to retain our rights and freedoms is finally gaining public support in spite of the immense efforts made to demonize heroes like Julian Assange and Edward Snowden.
Ed Snowden and Julian Assange are credited with blowing the whistle on government secrecy and wrongdoing.
Meanwhile in Canada our Prime Minister Harper is driving his extremist agenda and has introduced measures to bring a police state into reality.
Edward Snowden- A True Hero For Honest Government
Initially the polls swung his way with a great many Canadians seeing him as a protector against the dreaded Islamists who, according to Harper, hate us for our freedoms.
Has Karl Rove slipped into Canada? We are being subjected to 50 Shades of George Dubya.
The tide is now turning away from such far reaching assaults on our freedoms. The turmoil and broadly based backlash is due to citizens recognizing the merit of those arguments critical of the dangerous Bill C 51.
PM Steve Harper Wants to turn Canada into a Police State
Opposition is gaining ground on a daily basis through Canada. Among them Conrad Black who is ringing the bell in opposition to this extreme PM Harper effort.
Opposition driven by four former Prime Ministers, former Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romanow, and past NDP leader Ed Broadbent has shored up Green Party leader Elizabeth May and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair’s efforts.
NDP leader Thomas Mulcair is fighting against Harper’s proposed ‘Police State’
Both leaders have clearly stated their opposition.
They are fighting this assault against our constitution. Harper is clearly attempting to kick a full blown police state into play.
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau is supporting the Conservative government although troubled by the lack of process and oversight. Trudeau says that he will amend the legislation after the election.
Stands front and centre opposed to excess powers in Bill C-51
Time will tell if this ‘Weak as Water’ response will damage his political ambitions.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau Supports Harper’s Bill C 51
The Liberals are leading but the tide is shifting with the Greens and NDP gaining ground.
There is a great deal at stake for Canadians while the state of our democracy teeters in the balance.
It is time to stand and fight for Canada, our values and our freedoms.
Damir Wallener is a charming guy, he’s hip to high-tech, understands high-risk financing, and is currently busy pushing Silicon Valley type development for the Cowichan Valley.
No one in the Cowichan area would disagree with him about finding ways to keep our kids near to home after they complete secondary school.
We may have trouble competing with educational institutions like Stamford, Cal Tech, UC Berkeley, and hyper-high-tech jobs like those at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab but UVic, VIU, and Camosun could give it their best shot.
Like Damir, most everyone would like to see our young folks stick around longer. While we need some of them to become computer literate and learn computer programming, be able to construct and program robots, perhaps a few to teach these skills to others, we much more desperately need to train workers in the building and machine trades.
High-tech in the Cowichan Valley? How about designing us an inexpensive electric vehicle? or a control system to make a year-around food processing plant economically viable? or how about getting really creative and devising a high-tech use for abandoned paper/pulp mills, instead of turning them over to natural gas frackers to build LNG plants like they intend for Elk Falls.
You see Damir, using high-tech is not something new to us. It’s just that we really don’t want to become a mini Silicon Valley. Saying, with just a little exaggeration, that the highways are clogged with Jaguars, BMWs, and Corvettes driven by over-extended techo-nerds dreaming of being billionaires and the vulture, excuse me, venture fund capitalists playing with other people’s money creating a glamourous start-up industry where turnover is more frequent than success.
Wallener’s retort that they are buying Teslas instead of Corvettes, implying they are ecology minded, is not the point, they are both very expensive vehicles.
We may be, as Damir suggests, very short of office (or shop?) space. There’s a chance for him to make many people happy. The City of Duncan, represented by four men on the city council, are going to build a very large, rather unattractive, five-story building on the corner of Canada Ave. and Government St. Except for the street level floor it is meant to be all condos. Why not equip it for high tech communications and electronics and let the speculators know about it. Maybe it would be enough to get some of those 300,000 Canadians Wallener says are working in Silicon Valley, to come home.
Truth is Damir, we tend to be sort of tech-primitive here in the Valley. A lot of folks bolted covers over their BC Hydro meters to avoid having a new smart meter installed for fear that high frequency transmissions from the meter might be harmful to human health. No one knows how they might react to living in a wi-fi soup in every inch of the Cowichan area.
Early Tech Primitive Cowichan Types
Talk to a couple of real estate developers and get them to wire some buildings for you and your friends from Vancouver. Get set-up on a modest Canadian scale and show the Valley what can be done and we can go from there.
In the meantime let’s not forget that California’s croplands are bone dry. We should be expanding our agriculture to replace the tons of California food that used to arrived everyday. We can grow our food here but like high-tech we have to build the infrastructure to collect it, process it, package it and distribute it.
Tell you what Damir, you apply some of those high tech talents of yours to facilitating food production in the Cowichan Valley and we’ll all be playing on the same team. You’re an excellent presenter, how about you explaining how high-tech can be applied to agriculture and food processing at a monthly meeting of the Cowichan Agricultural Society? We can haul a heavier load if we all pull together.
Most Canadians have noticed that the CBC has been going downhill ever since Steve formed government. Staff cuts, subtle or not so subtle pressure on content, gutted programming and diminished independent news coverage has been the sorry result.
Controlling information has been the handiwork of authoritarian regimes throughout history. That history now includes Canada and our CBC.
Below find the ‘Forbidden Video’ and petition that deserves our support.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 25 February 2015
Toronto – All the major Canadian TV network and station owners: Bell, Corus, Québécor, Rogers and Shaw have refused to air Friends of Canadian Broadcasting TV ads that satirize Stephen Harper for his hostile agenda towards the CBC.
“The ads the networks do not want Canadians to see are meant to hold the Harper government to account for the damage it has done to public broadcasting in Canada,” says Friends spokesperson Ian Morrison.
Before being submitted, Friends’ ads were approved by the Television Bureau of Canada, an industry consortium that screens proposed TV ads to ensure they meet industry standards.
In addition to Canadian networks, Friends approached a number of US border stations including in Burlington/Plattsburg, Vermont; Bellingham, Washington and Buffalo, New York, to carry the ads. Each of them also declined to run the ad.
Friends did not offer the ads to the CBC/SRC because of the public broadcaster’s refusal to air Friends’ previous ads.
“In Canada, the decisions of a small handful of corporate executives have shut down legitimate discussion of an issue salient to Canadian public opinion. If free speech and public debate is a cornerstone of a democratic country, Canada may now be on shaky ground,” Morrison said.
Friends has shifted its advertising to several online properties. The ads are also available to Canadian television viewers on some English-language specialty channels, as well as NBA and Leafs TV.
“These ads satirize Mr. Harper as a Prime Minister who will stop at nothing to control, punish and silence critics, a characterization that many people may find accurate,” Morrison said.
In the ad, a Harper aide, tied to a chair that is sinking in a body of water, shares his thoughts with viewers about his predicament. He had the temerity to urge the
Prime Minister to go easy on the CBC, and is now being punished. On his descent, he recognizes a colleague who is suffering the same fate.
“Through budget cuts, partisan appointments to the CBC Board, and new powers, the Harper government is trying to control and silence our national public broadcaster, the CBC.
“But he can’t drown us all out. The vast majority of Canadians, including Conservative supporters, hold the CBC in high regard. These ads are being released as a wave of protest grows across the country against the Harper government’s hostile agenda toward the CBC,” Morrison concluded.
In one of Washington’s worst kept secrets President Barack Obama confirmed earlier indications of his opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline proposal. This is huge and could help bring about rejection of the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan proposals as well.
The New York Times reports on this far reaching development. In Canada all eyes will be on ‘Steve’. Could this trigger the end of Enbridge and Kinder Morgan as well?
WASHINGTON — President Obama on Tuesday rejected an attempt by lawmakers to force his hand on the Keystone XL oil pipeline, using his veto pen to sweep aside one of the first major challenges to his authority by the new Republican Congress.
With no fanfare and a 104-word letter to the Senate, Mr. Obama vetoed legislation to authorize construction of a 1,179-mile pipeline that would carry 800,000 barrels of heavy petroleum a day from the oil sands of Alberta to ports and refineries on the Gulf Coast.
In exercising the unique power of the Oval Office for only the third time since his election in 2008, Mr. Obama accused lawmakers of seeking to circumvent the administration’s approval process for the pipeline by cutting short “consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest.”
Pipes to be used for the 1,179-mile pipeline were stored in Gascoyne, N.D.House Passes Keystone Bill Despite Obama’s OppositionFEB. 11, 2015
E.P.A. Says Pipeline Could Spur Emissions .
By rejecting the legislation, Mr. Obama retains the right to make a final judgment on the pipeline on his own timeline. But he did little to calm the political debate over Keystone, which has become a symbol of the continuing struggle between environmentalists and conservatives.
As Washington debates Keystone XL, here’s how the 1,179-mile pipeline became so political. Video by Carrie Halperin and Emily B. Hager on Publish Date January 8, 2015. Photo by Andrew Cullen/Reuters.
Backers of the pipeline denounced Mr. Obama’s actions and vowed to keep fighting for its construction.
The House speaker, John A. Boehner of Ohio, called the president’s veto “a national embarrassment” and accused Mr. Obama of being “too close to environmental extremists” and “too invested in left-fringe politics.”
Georgia Collins went back to her roots for the ceremony shutting down St Michael’s (St. Mikes> Residential School.
She kindly consented to sending her impressions along to Cowichan Conversations.
By Georgia Collins
I lived in Alert Bay when I was a little girl. I remember playing for hours on the beach with my Mum and my sister, looking for blue glass trading beads. My Mum loved to take us for walks through Gator Gardens, I remember skating there when it froze.
I got my ears pierced in Alert Bay, at the same store where Buster, my huge stuffed animal dog, was from. It took persistence, but my Mum finally caved and got him for me.
Until this week, I hadn’t been back since 1990. And the emotions of returning to a familiar place were altogether tragically diverse from most who were also visiting the island this week. While I happily reconnected with my Grade 3 teacher Mr. Guenther and found my old house where I learned to play Nintendo and watched Sleeping Beauty too many times to count, there was an intense and intolerable juxtaposition of my own joy and wonder filled childhood to those whose childhoods were savagely and systematically stolen from them.
There was and still is an unnerving, hollow energy around St. Mike’s Residential School. And while the building marred only the physical landscape of my own childhood, it’s walls harbour memories of childhoods disrupted and destroyed, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Not just childhoods but livelihoods of families and generations of people who are all severely impacted by this genocide that still lives on today. I cannot begin to imagine what the feeling of being close to that building was like for the survivors.
I cannot articulate here all that there is to say about the atrocities that took place there, and the lasting impacts on entire cultures and peoples. Visuals haunt my mind of my own ear punctured with a pretty gold and emerald stud, while a generation back in the same location, another child’s tongue is pierced by a tack for speaking her own language.
There were many moments during the ceremony when I couldn’t look at the building. I knew that if I didn’t look away, if I didn’t instead look up to the birds soaring overhead, I would begin to cry uncontrollably; The pain coming from experiences that aren’t my own, and the tears from the thought of my own children being exposed to such harm. I watched the eagles, ravens and crows fly in great numbers above us all. I thought of the crow funeral held outside our Alert Bay home.
Just before arriving at Wednesday’s ceremony I had convinced our entourage to take a quick detour to my old house so that I could take a picture to send to my Mum. I stood beside the pole where a crow, years ago when we still lived there, had somehow been electrocuted. It had fallen to the ground and not long after hundreds and hundreds of crows came to our place, cacophonous cawing ensued.
They all hung around for quite awhile and when they did finally start to break up, one bird remained. It stood with the dead crow for many more hours. If there’s one thing that I learned this week, it is the power of presence. Being there for and with others gives way to understanding. Many people were present. And again, in the presence of so many wonderful human beings, I marveled at my unfair advantage in life in Canada and the serendipity that had me standing with incredibly significant people in my life while bearing witness on this day.
To my right I had my partner Michael, with whom I am so enjoying the experience of mutual love, respect and growth, and to my left (all in a row) were Alistair MacGregor, a special colleague who’s effort to be present was admirable; my dear childhood friend, Rupert Richardson, who’s openness, love of learning and willingness to show up is ever inspiring; and my teacher, Mr. Guenther, who created the space for me to write elaborate stories that enabled self expression and furthered my development.
I have led a blessed life. This kind of experience was not afforded to the children who endured Residential School. At the hands of those who created opportunity for me and my family, these children were not allowed to be present in their own families or cultures.
Our federal government, who finally shut down the school in 1975, apologized for it in 2008, sent a representative to the ceremony who spoke on behalf of Canada. Needing to leave early, he got bumped up to the first speaking spot and read apologies from a piece of paper.
Our provincial government was not present.
During the day it was mentioned by a Namgis woman that none of the acknowledgements or apologies mattered unless it meant her children could walk down the street today and be looked at and treated with dignity and respect. We are not there yet. It will take all of us choosing understanding, choosing healing, choosing to be present and in moments it will take much more than that.
We caught the last ferry leaving that night, and as we pulled away from the dock, we talked about our children, about their Pokemon cards and how they trade them at school, about which schools they attend, and how the personalities of siblings can often complement one another, and about how much time we get to spend with them, or not, in this world that seems to demand so much of our time.
Government Spin Doctors control much of the information disseminated or released to journalists, reporters, bloggers, and the public.
Politicians are too often boxed into meaningless talking points, in a framed environment, that is devoid of texture or content.
This is the case at all levels of government. It is even being promoted, at our local Cowichan Valley Regional District.
The CVRD controllers are trying to sell the elected folks on hiring a ‘Communications Officer’, another management position, to massage and spin the message to the public.
This would have the effect of and defanging the politicians from doing their jobs communicating with the voters. Soon enough, they would be issued approved talking points and framed messaging. The citizens be damned!
Sean Holman shares his insights and as you will see , this is the last thing that we want at the CVRD.
Sean Holman – a former government communications officer, and the force behind ‘Whipped ‘ the documentary that shines the light on ‘Party Discipline’ shares his frustration in this column also carried in ‘The Tyee’. He presently can be found at Unknowable Country
One Last Shot at the Tyranny of the Talking Point.
By Sean Holman, TheTyee.ca
‘I don’t think you’re a bad person. But you should know a few things about me….’ Photo by Shutterstock
Dear government spin doctor,
I am working on a story about how your job is helping to kill Canada’s democracy.
I know that your role, as a so-called communications professional, is to put the best spin on what the government is or isn’t doing.
That means you often don’t respond to the questions I ask; you help elected officials do the same thing; and you won’t let me talk to those who have the answers.
While this may work out very well for you, it doesn’t work out so well for my audience who, by the way, are taxpayers, voters and citizens.
So your refusal to provide me information is truly a refusal to provide the public with information.
And if the public doesn’t know what their government is doing, it can continue doing things the public wouldn’t want it to do.
That doesn’t seem very democratic to me. Does it seem democratic to you?
I understand you’re just doing your job.
I did that job myself before I became a journalist, working as a communications officer for the B.C. government.
Government Spin Doctor-Photo from Google Images
So I don’t think you’re a bad person.
But you should know a few things about me.
My job isn’t to help you put the best spin on what the government is or isn’t doing.
My job is to tell the truth.
And because that’s my job, you should know a few other things about how I’m going to report this story.
First, if you don’t respond to my questions, I’m going to let my audience know that.
Second, if you respond to my questions with non-answers, I’m going to let my audience know that, too.
Third, I’m not going to put those non-answers in my story for the sake of false balance.
That’s because me asking questions about what the government is doing wrong is not an opportunity for you to tell the public about what the government is doing right.
You have a big advertising budget for that.
Sean Holman’s had enough.
Instead, it’s an opportunity to explain to the public why the government is or isn’t doing that thing I asked you about.
And finally, if you refuse, ignore or interfere with my requests to interview public officials, my audience will find out about that, too.
This may sound like hardball at best and blackmail at worst. But it’s actually the last and only defence I have against you and your colleagues.
Public relations professionals outnumber journalists more than four to one in this country — and for good reason.
It pays to promote and protect the powerful, but it doesn’t pay to hold them to account.
My hope is that more journalists will start routinely telling their audiences about the strategies and tactics you use to frustrate the public’s right to know.
If that happens, then the public might start caring about the damage done to our democracy.
And maybe, just maybe, you might start rethinking your actions.
After all, there was a time when journalists could talk to public officials without having someone like you always watching over their shoulder and telling them exactly what to say.
I know it’s a long shot.
But it’s the only shot I can take against the tyranny of your talking points.
Our Prime Minister Steve Harper has launched a deliberate racist attack against a Muslim woman for insisting on wearing a niqab, a veil, while taking her citizenship oath, in public.
Gutter snipe politics of division and hatred threaten not only Muslim women but all of us in Canada.
Earlier today Don Maroc reminded me that it was not that long ago that women wore hats and veils to church.
Yes, Christian women, he told me his mother would never under any circumstances appear in church unless properly dressed. It was common for well dressed women to wear veils when appearing in public.
What is the difference when Muslim women wear a niqab? There is none, it is a religious custom and all Canadians are threatened when our Prime Minister exploits and targets minorities for his own political interests.
Great article Rafe. Let’s take Canada back!
By Rafe Mair
What the hell is the matter with us, anyway?
The prime minister of Canada goes out of his way to criticize the Federal Court of Canada because it permitted a woman to take the oath of citizenship while wearing a niqab, a veil. She made it clear that she would be glad to remove the niqab privately to confirm her identity. But Harper, whose government intends to appeal the court ruling, says covering one’s face during a citizenship ceremony is “not how we do things here.”
Harper has made this and his proposed anti-terrorism legislation, Bill C-51, into political issues, deliciously timed for a fall election.
I tell you frankly, up front, I think this is not only wrong, but also racist.
I realize those are strong words but I’ve given it a lot of thought and I can’t think of anything else. Why on Earth would anybody, much less the prime minister, care what somebody else wears?
I have watched the letters to the editor and have seen statements such as “When I talk to my shopkeeper, I want to see her eyes,” and “To me it’s essential that I see the other person’s face when I talk to them.”
But, dear people, it is not illegal for a woman to wear a veil in Canada. If it’s not illegal, how the devil can it be un-Canadian?
Veteran councillor Sharon Jackson appears to have been on the warpath lately regarding the proposed development on the empty lot at Canada Avenue and Government Street.
She is not anti-development; that lot has needed a building on it for over 20 years. But she is against this particular development. The height, the massing, the use of hardi-board and corrugated metal cladding are just a few of her concerns. These are shared by Councillors Michelle Staples and Michelle Bell.
Councillor Duncan on Holiday
They won’t win this one, though, because Duncan’s council seems to be firmly split on gender lines- the boys like it and the girls don’t. Another objection is the lack of attention to public input. The neighbouring merchants and landowners object to the design.
Few people like it and those who have written and showed up at the two meetings to which the public was allowed to speak, were ignored.
There has been no open house and worst of all, public input was curtailed at the last meeting thanks to Councillor Tom Duncan.
Mayor Phil Kent-the ‘Accommodator’
Councillor Duncan, who is presently relaxing on holiday for a month in Mexico, was at the meeting via iPad.
When Marylin Palmer, a senior architect who lives locally, asked for delegation status, it had to be voted on by all members of council unanimously. If even one person objected, she would not get delegation status. And Tom Duncan voted “no”
As councillor Jackson stated on her blog:
I have always believed that the rules were there to facilitate the public process in an orderly manner, not to obstruct it. Robert’s Rules or the Procedural By-Law can be made to prove black is white, if you have the votes. But that game-playing is counterproductive to the effective management of public discussion, in my view.
Councillor Jackson said. “Preventing a citizen from being a delegation and speaking fully to council about an important and contentious issue in this way has never happened in living memory.”
On an April Monday in 2010, Patrick Mettes, a fifty-four-year-old television news director being treated for a cancer of the bile ducts, read an article on the front page of the Times that would change his death. His diagnosis had come three years earlier, shortly after his wife, Lisa, noticed that the whites of his eyes had turned yellow.
By 2010, the cancer had spread to Patrick’s lungs and he was buckling under the weight of a debilitating chemotherapy regimen and the growing fear that he might not survive.
The article, headlined “HALLUCINOGENS HAVE DOCTORS TUNING IN AGAIN,” mentioned clinical trials at several universities, including N.Y.U., in which psilocybin—the active ingredient in so-called magic mushrooms—was being administered to cancer patients in an effort to relieve their anxiety and “existential distress.”
One of the researchers was quoted as saying that, under the influence of the hallucinogen, “individuals transcend their primary identification with their bodies and experience ego-free states . . . and return with a new perspective and profound acceptance.”
Patrick had never taken a psychedelic drug, but he immediately wanted to volunteer. Lisa was against the idea. “I didn’t want there to be an easy way out,” she recently told me. “I wanted him to fight.”
Patrick made the call anyway and, after filling out some forms and answering a long list of questions, was accepted into the trial. Since hallucinogens can sometimes bring to the surface latent psychological problems, researchers try to weed out volunteers at high risk by asking questions about drug use and whether there is a family history of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
After the screening, Mettes was assigned to a therapist named Anthony Bossis, a bearded, bearish psychologist in his mid-fifties, with a specialty in palliative care. Bossis is a co-principal investigator for the N.Y.U. trial.
After four meetings with Bossis, Mettes was scheduled for two dosings—one of them an “active” placebo (in this case, a high dose of niacin, which can produce a tingling sensation), and the other a pill containing the psilocybin.
Both sessions, Mettes was told, would take place in a room decorated to look more like a living room than like a medical office, with a comfortable couch, landscape paintings on the wall, and, on the shelves, books of art and mythology, along with various aboriginal and spiritual tchotchkes, including a Buddha and a glazed ceramic mushroom.
During each session, which would last the better part of a day, Mettes would lie on the couch wearing an eye mask and listening through headphones to a carefully curated playlist—Brian Eno, Philip Glass, Pat Metheny, Ravi Shankar. Bossis and a second therapist would be there throughout, saying little but being available to help should he run into any trouble.
It has taken some time for Canadians and the Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair to really get a grip on the severity of the so called anti terror bill C 51. There is no doubting the skilful demagoguery of PM Steve Harper and he played his threaten and rescue card like a Steinway piano.
Justin Trudeau is playing it safe, thinking that he can ride this one out riding the fence. Truth is Justin, those pickets are lethal and you really should climb down and join with Thomas Mulcair and Elizabeth May who are both standing up for Canada.
In truth safety lies in standing up for our rights and freedoms not laying low and allowing an extreme right wing attack against our civil liberties. There has been no attack against Canada. Harper’s over the top hyperbole will not and is not standing the scrutiny it demands.
CTV Power Play Host Don Martin Filed This Story.
Thomas Mulcair- is opposed to Harper’s anti terror bill
Stephen Harper’s signature bills always look their best at first blush.
Only when devilish details are exposed and word meanings put under a microscope is there the flutter of red flags over proposed legislation.
So, at first blush, Tom Mulcair appears to have done considerable damage to NDP hopes of preserving even Official Opposition status in the electoral showdown to come.
He has unleashed a barrage of fear and loathing at the government’s new anti-terrorism bill, insisting it would end up with spies lurking behind every grassy knoll.
Trouble is, terrorist events around the world have added favorable optics to the urgency of this legislation. The polls have gone hot on Harper as a result. And the Liberals have caved to public opinion, signing on as Tory tagalongs even before the bill was released.
PM Stephen Harper is now meeting with widespread opposition
Mulcair, for a while anyway, looked to be an island of legislative defiance surrounded by a sea of indifference to the jihadist threat looming on the horizon.
But now he has prestigious company in the worrywart category. Four Prime Ministers, backed by former justice ministers, Supreme Court justices and privacy commissioners, are piling on to demand closer supervision of Canada’s spy agencies.
Elizabeth May-Stood Against Bill C 51 From the Beginning
As Mulcair’s parliamentary pounding continues against some very loosey-goosey wording in the bill, legitimate warnings about giving spy agencies the right to disrupt Canadians on almost any pretext could start to resonate in the real world.
The optics will quickly worsen for the government.
They will undoubtedly put tight curbs on debate. And they’ll likely decline all opposition amendments to improve a bill they believe was parliamentary perfection upon arrival.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau Should Join in with Mulcair and May
That’s why Mulcair’s contrarian stand could be a defining moment during his first campaign as NDP leader. He could still end up on the wrong side in the court of public opinion, where Quebec voters might crush the orange wave to a ripple.
But he deserves credit for putting principle ahead of politics and taking a stand against the current wave of polling.
In nine months, this could prove to be the beginning of his end – or the start of a new beginning.
Canadians have been calling on Mulcair and Trudeau to challenge so called anti terrorism legislation proposed by PM Harper. Trudeau has rolled over.
Thomas Mulcair seems to be getting the message and cranking up opposition.-RH
Recent story in Huffington Post–CP | By Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA – Information-sharing measures in proposed anti-terrorism legislation are so broadly worded they would allow the government to spy on its political foes, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair says.
Mulcair took exception Tuesday to the bill’s mention of interference with infrastructure or economic stability as activity that undermines the security of Canada.
The wording is sufficiently vague to permit a Canadian Security Intelligence Service investigation of anyone who challenges the Conservatives’ social, economic or environmental policies, the Opposition leader said during the daily question period.
“What’s to stop this bill from being used to spy on the government’s political enemies?”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper dismissed the suggestion, telling the House of Commons the NDP had entered the realm of conspiracy theory. “That’s what we’ve come to expect from the black helicopter fleet over there.” Read the full story here
A great many Canadians have heard various rumblings about the wealth transfer scheme that kicked in shifting a great deal of control and profit from the Bank of Canada to the private banks. Money for nothing is a sense.
There has been a fair amount of chatter floating about on Facebook, Twitter and of course landing in our email inboxes.
Here is what is purported to be a “Good News” story for Canadians.
Correction–Still Report #357 — Correction on the Canadian Decision
Here is a guest post from Damir Wallener responding to Don Maroc’s earlier Column regarding Damir’s proposal to include hi-tech when looking at economic development for the Cowichan Valley.
I recently shared my thoughts on economic development with the CVRD board. I was grateful for the delegation opportunity, and now appreciate the chance to address some rather bizarre misrepresentations that were subsequently floated.
Our kids are leaving, and the first major trigger point is graduating from high school.
If we want our kids to stay, we must increase educational opportunities right here in the Cowichan.
The longer our kids continue their educations here, the more likely their businesses and careers take root here.
The principal focus of Economic Development should be helping locals create local business, which includes fixing our digital infrastructure.
How we get from this to accusations of “highways clogged with Corvettes” and “vulture capital investors” is beyond me. And derogatory labelling of an entire demographic (“techno-nerds”….really? In the year 2015?) is a long, long way from showing progressive values.
What we’re talking about is hopefully creating a few hundred new jobs – in a community of 80,000 people. The vast majority of these jobs would be in small businesses of less than 30 people.
Wallener-Canadians lining up to buy Tesla’s in Silicon Valley
Some of these would no doubt be software businesses. Others would be agriculture-based, as both primary producers and value-adders.
This is important – and was discussed with the CVRD board – because the only truly sustainable way to protect local farmland is to make sure local farmers can actually make a decent living.
There are currently over 300,000 Canadians working in Silicon Valley alone. That’s roughly the size of the entire professional labour market in BC. It also represents a sunk educational cost of approximately $100 billion (with a “b”), an investment we are currently taking a total loss on.
Our compatriots are down there inventing EVs, lining up to buy Teslas instead of Corvettes, and watching the likes of Apple putting up solar farms big enough to power entire cities at a fraction of the cost of Site C.
Meanwhile we’re up here arguing over fracking and pipelines and generally acting like the future is something to fear.
Rural Life in Cowichan
You want to ensure the Cowichan becomes little more than a traffic-clogged highway corridor linking Victoria to Nanaimo? Keep letting the good jobs migrate away.
You want to de-carbon our economy? Keep our valley green and liveable? It starts when we stop looking for non-existent bogeymen, and focus on figuring out why so many talented, hard working people are leaving.
We are indeed at a crossroads in Canada as we face a clever and devious PM Steve Harper who has spooked both Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair.
Bill C 51- the so called anti terror bill, is a bone chilling attack on our rights and freedoms. It extends far and wide unlike anything most of us could even imagine.
Demagoguery has succeeded with other desperate leaders.It is a card often played but seldom as far reaching as what Canadians face today.
Here is Rafe Mair’s assessment of it. It is a sobering must read.
Is Harper pushing us towards a new McCarthyism?
By Rafe Mair, Today, TheTyee.ca
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, unless thwarted by a surge of surprising voter intelligence, has found the winning formula. Leading his coven of three-piece-suit and pearl necklace know-nothings, he will rally the electorate in a rout of the mortally dangerous non-Christian hordes within and without our borders, saving God from Allah and leaving Trudeau and Mulcair gasping for air, something they excel at.
As Harper whips up fear of a Muslim enemy he will make it simple to allow hate to spread without appearing to do so. In fact Harper need only mumble “not all people… many are fine, innocent… blah, blah, blah” and play the civil libertarian role.
It’s classic George W. Bush, a fellow intellectual of the right, who parlayed the hateful Saddam Hussein and those who looked like him into two election victories from which the world will likely never recover.
Canada’s healthcare system was once a matter of national pride. It was a reassuring to know that the best care possible was available regardless of the patience financial circumstances.
During the Stephen Harper reign funding has been reduced dramatically and the stresses on the system has compromised service and treatments available.
Further the system is shrouded in secrecy leaving Canadians in the dark regarding the real state of our healthcare.
The Eye Opener has drawn this disturbing matter to our attention in this article below.
By Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi
The Faculty of Communication and Design presented a panel Tuesday on the code of silence surrounding Canada’s healthcare system, exploring how Health Canada and various quasi-public agencies obstruct journalists and the public from getting access to vital information about health and health care in Canada.
In recent posts on ‘Cowichan Conversations’ and on ‘Facebook and Twitter’ I have been critical of the Federal NDP’s failure to take the gloves off and go after Harper over his so called anti terror measures that would strip away civil liberties and turn CSIS into a secret police force.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May
I had repeatedly pointed out that Green Party leader Elizabeth May has provided the opposition at the political level. Ms May had a free run in a field that was wide open. That may soon change.
Clearly Harper has spooked Trudeau and Mulcair at a time when we are truly looking for, and desperately needing, strong leadership to counter the danger ahead when our PM declares that ‘We are at war with Islam’ .
Biblical distortions seem to fuel Steve’s determination to do nothing about the wanton destruction of our environment. Anybody that stands in his way risks being labeled a terrorist.
Now the good news. NDP elders, former leader Ed Broadbent and former Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romanow have weighed in and they are calling for strong opposition to stop this unacceptable attack on Canadians rights and freedoms. (See full story below)
The troops are getting restless and want to see leadership from within the NDP on this most serious threat. Mulcair had better listen up.
Do Tom Mulcair’s New Democrats have the nerve to take on Bill C-51? Two party elders say they should.
Tom Mulcair’s New Democrats are tiptoeing toward a position on the government’s anti-terror bill.
By all indications, they will vote against Bill C-51. Mulcair signalled that again this week when he compared the sweeping security bill to Ottawa’s use of the War Measures Act in 1970.
That’s when most (but not all) New Democrat MPs voted against then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau’s decision to suspend civil rights across Canada in order to deal with two political kidnappings in Quebec.
Then, as now, the NDP was divided. In 1970, four members of Tommy Douglas’ 22-person caucus broke with their leader and voted in favour of using the draconian law to fight terrorism.
But 15 others bought Douglas’ argument that individual MPs have a responsibility to ensure that “basic human rights are not destroyed in a wave of hysteria.”
Over the years, the NDP leader’s decision to take a stance that was, at the time, deeply unpopular has become a point of pride for the party.
Which is why Mulcair’s deliberate reference to the War Measures Act debate is instructive.
At Wednesday’s meeting of the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s Board (CVRD) Damir Wallener delivered a very professional presentation extolling the financial virtues of a hi-tech industry cluster for the Cowichan Valley.
Wallener claims that some years ago he moved to California, probably the famed Silicon Valley, where he learned details of the establishment of a hi-tech sector.
Although Wallener said he has no desire to recreate Silicon Valley here. If that is what he wanted, he explained, he would move to Silicon Valley. He emphasized what he is promoting is on a much smaller scale, something that will keep our kids here after they graduate high school and, perhaps, university.
This is a direction, Wallener suggested, that our Economic Development Commission (EDC) has not examined. His view is probably accurate seeing that the whole EDC operation was recently studied by a consultant and found to be very ineffective. The CVRD is considering the idea of reorganizing and rewriting the mandate of the EDC or simply abolishing the commission with its $800,000 budget.
Perhaps Wallener is just the person to hire as the manager of the currently leaderless EDC.
Damir Wallener-Promoting High Tech For Cowichan
He is owner of a software firm employing 35, somewhere in the Duncan area, currently working on contract with NASDAQ, the largest stock exchange in North America. When Wallener first came to scout out the Cowichan Valley he couldn’t find local talent. In addition to a lack of qualified men, there is a great underrepresentation of women in hi-tech work, there is also a shortage of properly equipped building space here.
Victoria hi-tech is booming, Wallener explained, led by a non-profit organization, VIATeC, acting a clearing house for encouraging and helping to facilitate new start-ups. Start-ups with new ideas plus venture capital firms to provide the money are the life blood of hi-tech. Wallener says that there is no need to establish our own VIATeC, he can work with the Victoria firm to build in the Cowichan Valley.
In spite of his contention he has no desire to recreate a Silicom Valley here, if Wallener’s plan is followed that is exactly what it would turn out and if that is the scheme we’d better carefully examine what the ramifications are before buying into this kind of future.
This is not a business you can get into halfway, it’s full speed ahead or bust. It’s like some Ottawa yoyo told farmers a generation ago, “Get big, or get out.”
Let’s say we have the misfortune to have Wallener’s proposals be successful? then in a much reduced way we would be looking at a community with all the ills of Silicon Valley. Who says that community has problems? ask a lot of people who formerly lived there or those struggling to stay there.
The 1,900 square mile region south of San Francisco last year experienced some of the highest income gains and housing pricing in the US. They also have some of the largest inflow and exit of any populations. Last year 58,000 new jobs were created in Silicon Valley.
Of course those high-flying tech-nerds are clogging the roads with their Jaguars, BMWs, and Corvettes, and pricing low and average wage earners out of the housing market, with the average apartment going for $2,600 per month. The income gap is the largest in the US and it is growing.
There may be a few in the Cowichan Valley who would like to see this kind of development but you can bet there are many more who do not. Maybe this is what North Cowichan Mayor Jon Levebure has in mind when he pushes construction of what he calls the University Village.
This is an agricultural valley. If we want development, and we should, it can be built around that industry. Let’s build farm equipment, food processing plants, let’s promote alternative energy like solar and tidal, wouldn’t it be a thrill pull on a pair of jeans manufactured in Cowichan, if we want to be creative in the Wallener hi-tech style maybe we can design and build modestly priced electric cars (Henry Ford and Louis Chevrolet started in their garages). Cowichan at one time shipped refrigerated greens and vegetables all over western Canada, as well as supplying most of the baby chicks and garden seeds.
Perhaps Wallener can can devise the software to make possible the organization of food production, processing, distribution, and marketing that would encourage more people to try farming to supply at least part of their income. We have a topography that encourages small acreage farming and we could create the financial structures to supply the investments in the new farms.
We have a beautiful place to live, perhaps one of the best in Canada. Let’s not pollute it with viciously greedy vulture capitalists promoting boom and bust hi-tech start-ups, while pushing the residents of the valley, including the Cowichan people, to the spreading low wage edges of this community.
Wallener is welcome in our community, but he must learn our language, not try to teach us to chant his hi-tech cyber-tunes.
I am a life long New Democrat and I am appalled at the ‘weak as water’ positioning that the Thomas Mulcair led NDP have offered in regard to the Harper anti terror Bill C 51, a bill that will, if passed, turn Canada into a CSIS Police State.
Mulcair has said he opposes Bill C 51, but so far lacks the passion and commitment necessary to have his concerns registered as significant.
Justin Trudeau just choked and offered his support right from the beginning.
PM Steve Harper salutes Canada
If Mulcair and Trudeau are not going to go to the wall when we are being threatened with an extreme right wing lurch that changes Canada into something once unimaginable, then pray tell what is it that they will ever stand up for?
Canada is in trouble. Harper with less than 40 percent of the vote has the opposition Liberals and NDP by the throats and neither party has the wit , courage or concern for our country and our civil liberties to stand up and fight back.
Green Party leader Elizabeth May
It is not to late to co-operate. The Liberals , Greens and NDP could defeat Harper and save Canada from an extreme right wing ‘Dominionist’ religious driven future. Might as well call the BLOC in as too, Quebecer’s do not embrace radical religious rule either.
Joyce Nelson wrote in the ‘Watershed Sentinel’ this revealing piece on the extreme right wing religious force.
Elizabeth May Green Party leader is the only one in the entire House of Commons to speak up and reveal the ramifications of this far reaching attack on Canadians rights and freedoms.
So far neither the Liberals or NDP will put the country before their own shallow self serving partisan interests. They need to hear from Canadians that this is not good enough and that they should get off their whipped backsides and represent the people who depend on them.
The NDP especially has turned their backs on Canadians by vacating their role as the conscience of Canada. It has not gone without notice that theHill and Knowlton crew have now moved in, via Brad Lavigne, to run Mulcair’s campaign.
Hill and Knowlton an American PR firm has excelled at tough assignments representing the US Tobacco industy and more recently stepping up to sell the benefits of fracking. for the oil and gas corporations.
NDP’s Tommy Douglas Stood Up Against War Measures Act
The Toronto Star ran this piece where Mulcair tries to wrap himself in the flag of the days when the Federal NDP’s principals and conscience were still in tact.
Mulcair tries to lure voters into thinking that todays NDP is the same as that of the Tommy Douglas NDP who dared to challenge then PM Pierre Trudeau over implementing the War Measures Act in 1970.
It won’t wash, a shoddy ploy at best.
Mulcair & Trudeau ineffective opposition leaders
I will continue to speak out against this abdication of responsibility by the Liberals and Federal NDP in hopes that somewhere at least a few MP’s will break from their obedient toadies role and stand up to represent the people who voted them into office.
We had better hope that the Greens elect enough MP’s to hold the balance of power in the next parliament.
Guest post by Dorothy Field
Originally published in the Focus Online
Over the holidays, I read Michael Harris’ Party of One, with its detailed description of Stephen Harper’s commitment to changing Canada so we will no longer recognize it.
Harper’s done a phenomenal job as he takes steps to destroy what most of us most love and admire about Canada, and what many of us fear we will not live to see again: thoughtful, reasoned debate, bi- or tri-partisan approaches to our challenges, support for scientific inquiry and legislation that reflects such research, openness and transparency, and a spirit of collaboration that allows our best minds to contribute to an enlightened future for Canada.
Senator Joe McCarthy
Growing up in the US, one of my strongest early memories is a an afternoon barbecue on my parents’ lawn, friends relaxing on the grass, one man playing his guitar, a perfect summer day.
Then the mood darkened as someone mentioned Senator Joe McCarthy. My parents and their friends knew people who’d been ruined by McCarthy’s red scare smear tactics.
Their fear was palpable. It had a profound effect on me. Fortunately for the US, McCarthy was taken down when he went after the US Army and the army’s lawyer spoke these words: “Have you no sense of decency?”
I re-experience my parents’ dread as we Canadians watch Harper’s war on the environment, First Nations, women, veterans, access to information, and our role as peace keepers. I could go on.
PM Stephen Harper
We live in a time of depression and despair, but I know, having seen McCarthy toppled, that sooner or later Harper’s appalling reign will end—but only if and when we put our backs into it. Later isn’t an option. We are losing so much so fast.
We must commit ourselves to doing whatever it takes to see the end of Harper, his corporate cronies, and their ilk.
That may mean each of us urging the Liberals and the NDP to cooperate—not merge, just cooperate. This one time. So far, both Mulcair and Trudeau seem to imagine themselves triumphant, each riding in on his white charger, party flag flying. To both of them I can only say: Enough of your arrogance. Put Canada first.
Justin Trudeau MP
It may mean working our butts off to get the vote out: writing all our friends in Conservative ridings across the country, making sure they buddy up with people to get their friends to the polls.
It may mean being on the ground making it easier for those who often don’t make it to the polls—the homeless, students, the frail elderly—those whom Harper would prefer not to vote.
It may mean absolute vigilance so that at the first sign of dirty tricks, we’re on it and in the streets if that’s what it takes. It may mean being ready for a snap election if that’s what Harper pulls.
Thomas Mulcair-NDP Leader
It is Canada that’s at stake as Harper turns us into a petrostate. He is the prince of fossil thinking which is no thinking at all.
All support goes to mining every one of our resources as fast as we can and selling them off raw and unrefined at fire sale prices. To China. That same China he used to shy away from because of their appalling human rights record. None of this is in Canada’s interest or the world’s interest.
Canada used to receive world praise for our commitment to reasoned and sober second thought. We have now become a rogue state. Thank you, Mr Harper.
Elizabeth May-Green Party MP
Please read Party of One. Harris fills in facts and background so that it’s impossible to stay complacent. As a child, the fear that entered my blood stream silenced me for decades. Then something shifted. It’s time we all make that shift.
After 44 years in Canada I know we Canadians are polite. We prefer to see the glass half full, to do things quietly. But if we don’t make our voices heard now and in the months to come, we are committing future generations to a world changed in ways that cause me to shudder.
As it stands now we are the only ones who can ride to our rescue. And we must. Act. Put Canada first.