Monday, February 27, 2012

Democracy in Canada and Other Lies

What is democracy? Taken directly from the Parliament of Canada's website (with the subtitle Democracy in Action!), it is described as:

"Canada’s Parliament, as conceived by the Fathers of Confederation in 1867, continues to be a vibrant example of democracy in action. In Parliament, our representatives examine the top issues of the day, decide on policies and laws, and hold the government accountable for its actions."

How does this happen, exactly?

"The House of Commons has 308 members, who are elected to represent the people in their ridings. Our Constitution states that a Parliament cannot last longer than five years, after which a general election must be held."


What exactly is an election, then? (From The Free Dictionary online):

election [ɪˈlɛkʃən]
1. (Law / Parliamentary Procedure) the selection by vote of a person or persons from among candidates for a position, esp a political office
2. a public vote on an official proposition
3. the act or an instance of choosing
4. (Christianity / Protestantism) Christianity
a. the doctrine of Calvin that God chooses certain individuals for salvation without reference to their faith or works
b. the doctrine of Arminius and others that God chooses for salvation those who, by grace, persevere in faith and works

Wait. What was that? "THE SELECTION BY VOTE...A PUBLIC VOTE....THE ACT OR INSTANCE OF CHOOSING". Even more interesting.

So, if you believe in democracy, it follows that you believe in an honest, fair, and transparent electoral process. You believe that the Members of Parliament are elected by the people of Canada to represent Canadians and that they have the best interests of Canadians in mind. You believe that there are mechanisms in place to prevent your own government from committing criminal acts. You believe that in the even that said acts occur, there will be some accountability. You believe that through this process of accountability, the people have the right to democracy.

I bet these same people also believe in Santa Claus too. Come to think if it, a factitious character who knows everything about everyone probably IS a Conservative MP. On that premise, Santa Claus is more likely to be real than democracy. The most disturbing aspect of this for me is that no matter what happens, no matter how criminal, how intrusive, how greedy, how incompetent, and how untruthful this government is, they manage to have a loyal following. Doesn't that seem strange to anyone else? Seems to me that this type of government is more like this (from Encyclopedia Britannica online):

Dictatorship: form of government in which one person or a small group possesses absolute power without effective constitutional limitations. Now, that's plausible.

"It's an isolated incident".

Sure. "Let's be perfectly clear. Nothing could be farther from the truth".

Sunday, February 7, 2010

An Onion Ring? Or a political statement?

A group recently popped up on facebook. No-one knows where it came from, and reading the comments the joke is that it was an immaculate conception. Can this Onion Ring get more fans than Stephen Harper? The answer, overwhelmingly, is yes. It can.

At the time I am writing this there are 108,166 fans and it is growing by the minute. It took 5 days to reach that incredible number. This page isn't just fun. And it is fun. Why, even "Stephen Harper" himself has joined. Complete with his sweater vest, lego hair and kitten. Just go read the comments for a while. It is a huge political statement if I have ever seen one.

I recently blogged about the Canadian Against Proroguing Parliament group(CAPP).
I watched as the CAPP group was dismissed as "a little facebook group", "elites", "the chattering classes". Now the Onion Group is being dismissed as silly. I wouldn't be too quick to do that. The big difference between the Onion Ring group and the CAPP group is that majority of the CAPP group is already engaged, they are older, and they vote. Oh, the CAPP group has been a major game changer. Yes, they have been a game changer. They have raised awareness of an issue that would otherwise have not even have been on the radar of most unsuspecting Canadians - a tactic that the Conservative government counts on. But this Onion Ring group could work hand in hand. This could also be a real game changer. Imagine how this could raise awareness for young voters.

If the Onion Ring group was silly, the neo-cons wouldn't be taking it so seriously. They wouldn't be there trying to disrupt the flow. And I've seen that. Trying to spread false information. In my opinion, something has to be a threat or they wouldn't be wasting their time on this. Which brings me to another point. One of my all time favorite rants that sums up how I feel about the current state of Canadian politics is told by Canada's funny man, Rick Mercer. Yes, news has become entertainment and entertainment has become news. In a minute and and a half Rick tells us that Canadians aren't aware of what goes on in their country, they don't care, the government tries to make it worse by misleading the public and that we have a right and duty to be engaged. That's a lot of information to pack into a minute and a half, but oh so critical.

So, on that note, how do we engage? When will we start to:
1)be aware of how our government operates?
2)care how our government operates?
3)be aware that they are misleading us?
4)care enough to actually take the time to try and change it?

It's simple folks. Next election exercise your right and duty and vote. It's simple really. Find out about your candidates and you mark and X on a ballot. It can change not only the future of your country, but your future and the future of your children and their children. Think of the rights that have been won by those before us. Many people have died fighting for our rights and freedoms. All you have to do is vote.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament - From Facebook to filling the streets to filling the ballot box

"What's that?" she asked.

"Well", I replied, "It's a group that I have been following with keen interest, and I think others should too."

"Okay. I'll join. But I don't know anything about politics and don't ask me to do anything."

And so the story goes. Exactly what our politicians count on to continue to run this country. Ignorance and apathy. When the Dominion Institute conducted their poll in 2008 and discovered that approximately half of our population had no idea how our parliament worked, that in itself was a crisis. When our government tried to make it worse by deliberately misleading the Canadian public, that should have been criminal.

For a group that was dismissed as elites and the chattering masses, it seems to be having quite an impact. The right wing pundits try to discredit the rallies, stating it means nothing. Really? When is the last time that many Canadians took to the streets to express their displeasure at the government over anything? In the middle of winter? Oh, I think you would be wise not to dismiss these rallies, Mr. Harper. Don't look now, but the chattering elites are revolting.

I think for most, prorogation isn't the issue. We've heard all the stale right wing talking points. It's the abuse of power. And in this case, it is the straw that broke the camels back. It's not just the chattering elites that are upset. Oh no. It's the "no good bastards" unemployed and the "left wing fringers" women and the list goes on. People know how the Harper government feels about Canadians, and this is just a slap in the face of democracy.

So now, I ask you. Where does this group go? The rallies were great. The flash rallies are great. The 31 days of action are great. Keep the pressure on. But my big concern is getting people who aren't currently engaged in the political process educated and involved. What we want to see is a change in government. We don't want to see "business as usual" when the House resumes on March 3. We don't want to forget that we were slapped in the face. To do that, we need to get people engaged and active. Ignorance and apathy is what they count on. They are the Harper government's secret weapons. What can CAPP do to change that?

I know there are people who are doing a great job of educating and engaging. The challenge should be - get out the vote. It's important to do what CAPP is doing, but it can't end there. The important work will be done during the next election. People who don't traditionally vote need to be educated on the issues. Do the unemployed know that their own government thinks that they are "no good bastards"? Are students aware how their government works and how the decisions made impact them? Maybe if they were engaged, some wouldn't end up with $50,000 student loans when they were finished their degree. These are issues that affect people who should be voting. Why don't they? This is something we need to ask well beyond the scope of the prorogation issue and remind ourselves that our government wants to keep people uninformed.

As part of your 31 days of action, who will you talk to about voting in the next election?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

John Stossel: Right wing media puppet for anti-health reform

Here are 3 videos of interest regarding John Stossel who recently left ABC's 20/20 for Fox. Seems like a much more suitable place for him. We all know Fox is "Fair and Balanced." Just like Stossel claims to be. Right....

In this video, Stossel asserts that Canada's Health Care system is inferior to the American system and uses exaggerated wait times, false statistics, biased witnesses, and... Okay. Let's call a spade a spade. It's a bunch of outright lies and bullshit.

In this one he claims that it is better if people pay because there is less waste. Oh. He forgets to mention that the $20 flu shot you can buy at Walmart may not be quite as affordable for some as for others.

Dr. David Gratzer who appeared as an "expert witness" in the first video (20/20) and lied his face off, is taken apart in this one by Dennis Kucinich. Watch the little slime ball squirm. This one is great!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Are we "free thinkers" or are our minds being controlled as implied in this video? Perhaps we should think again if we think again we are in control of anything. Since birth, we are all under the manipulation of mass consciousness and most of us are well versed in the do's and dont's of culture without ever realizing that we are being controlled or conditioned. Those who don't go along with the agendas or the herd instincts are pressured and harassed into conforming. We buy into the propaganda on many levels without ever realizing it. Through social engineering our consciousness is molded along the "correct" lines, and we persist in amassing all the products that constantly bombard us in the all pervasive advertising campaigns that surround us. We are unknowingly surrounded and engulfed by consumerism and this becomes our fake reality.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bill O'Reilly on Health Care Reform

Fox News - "The only network that brings you fair, balanced and accurate reporting so you can make a choice." Indeed. My ass.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Right Wing Rag aka Fraser Institute?

SGEU warning on privatization lacks credibility

The StarPhoenix
February 26, 2009 3:06 AM
It's in trying to cloak its pure self-interest in sanctimonious claptrap about public safety and crime fighting that the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' Union undermines its cause and invites derision.

The television and print advertising campaign SGEU recently began to sound the alarm against the privatization of government-run liquor stores in Saskatchewan uses scary-sounding statistics and emotional language that, upon a closer look, is manipulative at best and cynically deceptive in the extreme.

Seemingly elevating to the status of near-angels and guardians of public morality its 900 members employed at Saskatchewan Liquor Board outlets in 64 communities, the SGEU ads suggest privatizing liquor sales would translate into every evil from an increase in crime rates and social problems to profit-driven private vendors selling to underage youth.

SGEU workers at liquor stores may well be trained to deal with minors and intoxicated individuals, but that doesn't make them morally superior to private business owners whose livelihood depends on abiding by the law if they are allowed to sell liquor. As the union very well knows, there are many private vendors acting as agents of the SLB in small towns across Saskatchewan who take their responsibilities seriously and are just as diligent in checking the ID of young people and refusing to sell to drunks.

SGEU notes that the number of liquor stores in Calgary "increased by a staggering 620 per cent" by 2002 since Alberta privatized liquor vending in 1993, and that Edmonton police reported a 164-per-cent increase in alcohol-related charges between 1993 and 1999.

What it doesn't say is that the growth in the number of liquor outlets may well have been a rational market response to serve a city that may have been grossly underserved by the public sector stores and whose rapid growth in a working-age demographic over that period necessitated additional stores.

And it's possible, too, that Edmonton police began to crack down harder on alcohol-related charges and the boom in Fort McMurray translated into more young people with more cash in their pockets spending more of their free time partying at bars in the city. Without context, it's silly to blame any of that on Alberta's move to privatize its liquor stores.

This SGEU messaging is part of an ongoing union anti-privatization campaign that bespeaks of problems that have befallen Canadians, from toll-highways in New Brunswick and Ontario to the selloff of public assets in Saskatchewan in the Devine era to the Walkerton water tragedy and the listeriosis outbreak, after governments turned over to the private sector jobs formerly done by public sector workers.

Although Premier Brad Wall's Saskatchewan Party government ill-advisedly has adopted a hands-off policy on privatizing any Crown agencies including its liquor stores, the SGEU ads seem to be a shot across the bow of the government over its recent decision to allow the opening of two private wine stores that will sell specialty products not currently sold at SLB stores.

It may be the case, that as the SGEU says, public liquor stores create well-paying jobs for its members and that the wages of liquor store employees in Alberta were reduced in half since privatization. But ultimately the liquor stores ostensibly are run to serve the needs of the public, not primarily of those who work at them.

Those lower wages earned by those who work for the private vendors in Alberta translate into cheaper prices on the shelves -- a concept that many SGEU members who shop at the Wal-Marts and Superstores well understand as they go about their daily lives.

However, what's most egregious is SGEU's attempt to mislead the public on the $173.6 million in profits that accrued to the government from liquor sales. The suggestion is that privatizing the liquor stores would deprive the government of revenues that now go to fund public services such as schools and hospitals, ignoring the fact that private companies do pay taxes and that the government, which would still act as the liquor wholesaler, would continue to take its cut.

Only those who equate their self-interest with the general public's would dare to accuse their entrepreneurial neighbours of moral decrepitude and criminality that'll see minors given ready access to booze, neighbourhood safety threatened and the public treasury plundered.

It's enough to make one wonder if copious quantities of shelf products aren't being sampled when SGEU poobahs sit down to write up their ad campaigns.

"But ultimately the liquor stores ostensibly are run to serve the needs of the public, not primarily of those who work at them....Those lower wages earned by those who work for the private vendors in Alberta translate into cheaper prices on the shelves -- a concept that many SGEU members who shop at the Wal-Marts and Superstores well understand as they go about their daily lives."

Sure they do. While we're at it, let's cut all good paying jobs, knock everyone to minimum wage, let a few people in the country control all the wealth so that we can all shop at Walmart and Superstore and be subsidized by welfare. When we all end up in jail because we resort to crime to subsidize our income, we won't have to worry about booze sales because it's a controlled substance in the slammer.

Brilliant article brainiac. You sure you haven't been slipping across the border to sample copious amounts of cheap shelf wares when writing your columns?