"A Citizen"s Eye View"

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Message to "Occupy Canada". Step One, Bring Down the Government of Harper

I am so heartened by the world wide spread of the "Occupy" movement. All over the globe, young people, old people, poor people, disenfranchised people, people who have just plain been ripped off by the Corporatists of the world, people who represent the "99%", are speaking out and trying their level best to reclaim our collective democracies and societies from the manipulative, destructive, self interests of the "1%" and their political shills. People from all walks of life are not only  saying: "we're mad as hell and we aren't going to take it any more", but are also saying: "we're on to you and we refuse to keep drinking your Kool-Aid".

All around the world, people are waking up, one by one. They are beginning to realize that "Capitalism", the word, the concept, the institution, that used to be synonymous with Democracy, freedom and equality, is, as it is currently being practiced, a lie. It is purely survival of the fittest wallet. And under the Corporatist doctrine, the rest of us, the 99%, what we think and feel,  don't matter.

Capitalism in practice, is merely a modernized form of feudalism that, through the skillful use of smoke, mirrors and clever marketing, allows the Proletariat, the 99% to mistakenly believe that our society is fair, equitable and democratic. It isn't. Our lives are not our own.  We are being thoroughly controlled by the Corporatist Barons. And we have been thoroughly sedated through the use of Hollywood and Sunday Football. As long as we have our movies, our reality TV, our beer and our big screen TVs for the big Sunday game, we believe that life is good and we are comfortable and happy. But it is an illusion we have been sold through the generations. And the Corporatist Barons and their political shills wrap themselves up in the flags of nationalism and have us believing that anything other than Capitalism is an evil enemy to be eradicated. And they inject us with lethal doses of fear and intolerance so that we believe we need protection from the Godless horde of undemocratic Non-Capitalists. It is a continuation of the "Red Scare", only with out the presence of the Soviet Union.

But the people are finally waking up  to the lies and the illusions. And the world wide "People's Movement" has finally come to sleepy, dreary, low-key Canada. It is a slow-growing, grass-roots thing. But it is here and it is beginning to take hold. Canadians, like their brothers and sisters all over the world are beginning to say "we want our country, our society and our freedom back". And it is a wonderful thing.

I had the opportunity to attend an Occupy Toronto General Assembly in one of the early days of the occupation. It was a beautiful if not somewhat painful thing to behold as it was grass-roots democracy in action. But each and every person in attendance had a right to speak, to have their say and each person's opinion, no matter how divergent from the popular one, was treated with respect. And things, regardless of the snails pace, got done. A Micro-society was being born before my very eyes and I was very much aware that I was but a tourist, that the Occupiers were the real deal, the revolutionaries, the heroes.

I was also painfully aware though, that aside from a strict adherence to the concepts of non-violence and mutual respect, there was an absence of consensus around the central focus and demands of the Occupiers. There are, it seems, so many societal ills that can rightfully be attributed to the "1%". And there are so many different people of so many different political stripes and belief systems who are coming together to reclaim our democracy and our equality. But I am eternally confident that consensus can and will eventually be reached. 

If I may be so bold however, this humble tourist would like to make a suggestion about where the movement might best place it's focus, at least in the first phase of the revolution (and the humble tourist imagines the human microphone passing his words to the assembled masses). I would suggest looking to the Iceland model for direction. The Iceland model has, thus far, contained three phases. The first phase involved firing it's ineffective and Corporate friendly government and replacing it with one by the people, of the people and for the people. The second phase involved telling the European Banks to "go stuff" their debt and then bringing the Icelandic Corporatists to justice. The third phase involved the People of Iceland rewriting their constitution to make it better reflect the will of the people and not the needs of the Corporatist Barons.

So I might suggest to the Revolutionaries of St. James Park and every other occupied park in Canada, that the place to start the movement is with the firing of the Government of Harper.  A Government of Harper, by Harper and for Harper. Every day that goes by during the reign of his  Government, democracy becomes less and less of a reality in this country. It becomes more and more about the will of Stephen Harper as he recreates Canada and Canadian society in his own twisted image.

It might be argued that Harper is the duly elected Prime Minister of our country. That he was elected with a "majority government" and as such, has the right to do what ever he wants because he was elected. I would argue back that 35% of the popular vote does not constitute a true majority. He was able to parlay that figure into the illusion of a majority government through the skillful use of smoke, mirrors and marketing techniques usually reserved for the selling of used cars. He is an ideologue, a dictator and a Corporatist sympathizer. He does not speak for the people of Canada, he most certainly does not speak for me. He is not my Prime Minister nor will I ever recognize him as such.

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So I might suggest that the most logical first step for the Occupy Canada movement would be to ensure that the Government of Harper is fired and is replaced by one that is more representative of and reflective of the will of the people, the 99%. And it should be forewarned that this new government might not necessarily be found in the traditional political alternatives. It is, I think, time to explore new political paradigms, or perhaps, to entertain such concepts as socialism, or at least, Social Democracy.

Once the Harper Government is brought down, under peaceful means of course, then and only then would the way be paved to put an end to the Corporatist agenda and to permanently end such Anti-citizen,  Corporatist trade deals as CETA. The enviro-criminals behind the Tar Sands could finally be brought to justice and Harper himself could finally be held to account for such things as his war crimes, his crimes against the environment and his violations of the the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (not to mention his contempt of Parliament, violations of the Elections Act and numerous other indiscretions too numerous to mention here).

So that is my advice to the Occupy Canada Movement. Make your primary focus the bringing down of the Harper Government. That is not anarchy, that is simply returning control of the government and the country into the hands of the people, where it rightfully belongs in the first place.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mr. Harper, You're Fired!

Mr Harper.

As a citizen of Canada who's taxes in part, go toward paying your wages, I feel this financial arrangement places me and every other citizen of Canada in the position of being your employers.  As such Mr. Harper, I feel I must now express to you my great dissatisfaction with your job performance. You have broken the law on multiple occasions, the most serious of which was being guilty of the Federal Offense of contempt of Parliament.  In carrying out this offense, you lied to Parliament, the highest and supposedly, most respected institution in the land. Your actions were seen as obstructive to the committees and to the House itself in it's efforts to make informed decisions regarding the business of the nation. It was clear by your actions, that you had no intentions what so ever of allowing Parliament or it's various committees  to have full disclosure of what your planned actions were or what you intended to spend. In short, your minority Government of the time was clearly dishonest.

So Mr. Harper,the Parliament of Canada found you to be guilty of the offence of Contempt of Parliament. No other government in the history of Parliamentary democracy anywhere has ever been found guilty of this offence.  As such, being guilty of a federal offence excluded you from eligibility to run for public office.  You are therefore currently occupying the Prime Minister's office illegally and are disqualified from being able to form any kind of legal government despite the results of the May election in which you miraculously parlayed 30% of the popular vote into a majority government through the skillful use of lies, coercion, fear mongering and the application of marketing techniques usually reserved for the selling of used cars.

It is no wonder then Mr. Harper that the European Union has labeled Canada a "Rogue Nation". You yourself are nothing more than an opportunist and a  rogue  who is leading a pack of like-minded scoundrels. You are in your position illegally and you clearly do not speak for myself nor the majority of Canadians. Yet you continue to draw wages from our collective taxes as if you were entitled to run  our country, which you clearly are not.

So allow me Mr. Harper, to articulate this as clearly and as unambiguously as possible. As one of your many employers, I am now exercising my rights to unequivocally FIRE your sorry ass! Yes Mr. Harper,  you have 24 hours to clean out your desk and get the fuck out of Ottawa. You are fired, canned, terminated, downsized, ousted. You no longer work for me or the majority of Canadians. And don't be looking for a "golden handshake" here.  You would do well to consider yourself incredibly lucky not to serve any time in one of your new super jails for your indiscretions. Also, I intend to see that what ever pension you feel you may have earned, will instead be donated to Green Peace, the David Suzuki Foundation, the "Insite" safe injection site, Planned Parenthood, the Toronto Pride Parade, Kairos, The Summer Works Theatre Festival, The Canada Postal Workers Pension Fund, The Nortel Pension Fund and basically, anyone else you've tried to screw over while you were in office illegally.

So turn in your keys and clear out Harper. You're finished. Don't make me call security on you.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

Invasion of the "Big-Ass" Pick-Up Trucks

It was a sunny Sunday as I drove to work in my  Honda. I toyed with the idea of being able to bike to work. But I live in Hamilton so living atop the Niagara Escarpment while working in the lower city all but excludes such brave environmentally friendly gestures. That and the fact that I don't actually own a bike at present.

Truck Toyz
At this point, I need to mention that  a pet-peeve of mine for quite some time, has been the growing number of big-assed pick-up trucks on the road. Not for any reasons related to the environment. But simply because they are a nuisance. Yes, a great number of them may well be "work" vehicles, but an ever increasing number also seem to be doubling as family vehicles as well. You see them everywhere, huge gas-guzzling beasts in pristine condition, complete with Children's car seats in the back. Yes, most of these monsters aren't just two seaters anymore. They come with club cabs, meaning there's additional seating space for the "chillins" and the family pets in addition to the usual cargo space.

I won't get into the psychology behind the surge in these enviro-terrors, so I shall refrain from making any comparisons between Freud's theory behind gun ownership and the current obsession with big-assed Pick-Ups. But it is a given that they are purchased almost exclusively by men.

The "Macho" image
But back to my sunny Sunday. I happened to notice on my usual 20 minute drive to work, that there seemed to be more of these behemoths on the road than usual, snarling things up on narrow side streets while forcing smaller vehicles to bow to their will on the main roads.  I wondered if it just "seemed" like there was a larger number of them on the road because of my being hyper-aware of them, or if there was in fact, a huge amount of these things about, helping to contribute to the financial success of the Tar Sands  while adding to the growing number of asthmatics in the city. I wondered to myself why there would be  a growing number of these Pick-Ups on the road when the amount of oil in the ground is shrinking by the day, bringing us ever closer to global economic Armageddon, and especially now when there is such awareness about the harm fossil fuels are doing to our environment. What ever the reason though, I was determined to do a little quasi-research when I was done work, just to see if I was imagining a "Pick-Up conspiracy" or not.

When my commitments for the day were complete, it was late afternoon though still quite sunny out. What I resolved to do was to drive around the city for one hour and actually count vehicles. But just knowing the number of Pick-Up trucks alone that I came into contact with seemed quite useless without that number being compared with other larger family type vehicles. So I divided a piece of paper into four parts labeled "Pick-ups", "SUVs", "Mini-Vans" and "Crossovers". My idea was to keep a running tally.

It soon became apparent that keeping a running tally of vehicles while driving was not only hugely inefficient (I missed a lot of vehicles), but pretty unsafe as well. So I trolled through parking lots counting vehicles. I started at the Staff Parking Lot for the Hamilton Wentworth Detention Centre, a Male Dominated workplace for sure. The number of Pick-Ups went up. Then I went to a Walmart Parking lot and the number of Mini-Vans increased. But then I decided to prowl around some quiet residential neighborhoods where I could pull over at anytime to count vehicles. Much to my surprise, the number of these big-assed Pick-Ups increased in the quiet subdivisions. Now I should point out here that I did not include obvious work vehicles in my totals, only vehicles that seemed to have no other purpose than to be a means of personal or family transportation.

So after my hour's research, I found that Mini-Vans were the most used of the larger "personal" type vehicles at approximately 175,  thereby dispelling the myth of the decline and fall of the Mini-Van. SUVs of all makes and sizes totaled approximately 150. The number of "Cross Overs" was quite low by comparison at roughly 50. It should be noted that with all these types of vehicles, the drivers were observed to be almost equally men and woman. In the same period of time, I counted just over 100 huge-honking Pick-Ups. Again, these were not obvious work vehicles though some of them might well have been. These were the finely polished, club cab sportin, status symbols driven almost exclusively by men. So of the roughly 475 larger private vehicles I counted , a little over 20%, or one in five of these, were Pick-Up trucks. Indeed I am not imagining things.

But alas, my methodology was far from scientific. It did not take into consideration such things as days of the week, time of day, traffic patterns or rural vs urban  settings. And I did not count regular "cars" either to compare with my other numbers . So home I went to go online to search for some hard numbers. This is what I came up with:

For the first seven months of 2011, the highest selling new vehicles in the *U.S. were Ford F-Series Pick-Up trucks at a little over 300,000 in total sales. The Next was the Chevy Silverado (Pick-Ups) at just over 200,000. Then came the Toyota Camry (family car) at 175,000 then the Toyota Carola, Toyota Matrix (both family cars) and Ford Escape (SUV) all tied at about 150,000.

Yes, a good number of these Pick-Up trucks are going to be bonafide work vehicles, meaning they serve a specific purpose and are more than just show pieces.  But when the F-Series out sells the leading family car by more than 50%, it has to be wondered just how many of them are doing double-duty as family vehicles and over sized play-toys. How many are "non-essential".

But it also makes me wonder, with the price of gasoline firmly fixed above $1.25 a liter (at least here in Hamilton) and not likely to ever go below $1.20 again, why on earth would the car-buying public purchase gas guzzling beasts as a vehicle of "choice". With the fuel consumption of a Pick-Up being about double that of a family car and almost twice the price to purchase new, one has to wonder, does the average American/Canadian vehicle purchaser truly have their head up their ass??

And aside from the exorbitant cost of these beasts that have become prized possessions of the upwardly mobile middle-class, and the fact that they are contributing to our hurtling toward  global economic collapse when the supply of gasoline can no longer keep up with the demand, what of their environmental impact?

A Tailings Pond at the Tar Sands
Large Petroleum  companies are eagerly scouring oil from the earth in Alberta and leaving an environmental catastrophe in their wake, just to feed our ever growing addiction to Oil. We know this to be true, yet the car buying public seems to want to purchase ever bigger, more costly, more wasteful vehicles rather than smaller ones to help conserve on gas, to help reduce the toxic gasses our cars emit in addition to limiting the amount of greenhouse gasses the Tar Sands emits as it scurries to feed our collective addiction.

So while it is easy for us all to point our boney fingers at the big oil companies and the politicians who continue to profit from the unbridled sales of fossil fuels. "We the People" are not in the least bit blameless. We recycle a few cans and proudly proclaim that we are doing our bit for the planet. But when it comes down to making a concerted life-style choice like in the purchase of a vehicle for our families our just for ourselves, vanity and status seems to continue to hold trump and we are therefore just as much to blame for this crisis as the money grubbing Corporatists who eagerly feed our addiction.

* Figures courtesy of WardsAuto.com. Figures from goodcarbadcar.net show that in Canada, The Ford F-Series followed by Dodge Ram Pick-Ups to be numbers 1 and 2 in total sales with the Honda Civic being a distant third. Neither site listed Smart cars, which are rated at over 90mpg, on their list of top 25 selling cars in either the U.S., or Canada.   

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Power of Love

"My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world". - Jack Layton

Jack Layton spent most of his career in federal politics as an also-ran. He was always number three behind the Conservative's Stephen Harper, and the leader of the Liberal Party- Jean Chretien, Paul Martin, Stephan Dion, Michael Ignatieff - take your pick. Hell, poor Jack was even the third wheel behind Gilles Duceppe for awhile. 

But it seemed that divine providence had ordained that In May of 2011, Jack Layton suddenly and unexpectedly became a power to be reckoned with. The Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition. An also-ran no more. The timing was never more critical for a leader with a social conscience and a vision for a more just and humane Canada to rise to power to counter the inexplicable ascension of the black-hearted, corporate driven, ultra-right-wing Conservatives to majority status. But God, in his often times mysterious sense of justice, saw fit to take Jack from us just when it seemed he was needed most.

But Jack left us a powerful parting gift, his final words to the people of Canada. In it, he spells out quite succinctly, all that is best in human kind as well as his vision for a kinder, gentler Canada. And his words have resonated around the country like a golden sonic boom. 

It is a peculiarity of human nature - a strength really - that when a loved one passes away, those of us who are left behind cling together and are united by the common bond of grief and of the loving memory of the dearly departed. It becomes a "noble obsession" that the final wishes of the deceased be honored at all cost. It is part of how we grieve, to honour the memory of the departed. And this "noble obsession" is a powerful force. One that can move mountains and, if need be, change the world. 

On another occasion when God's wisdom seemed absolutely baffling, he saw fit to take his only son from us, just when humanity seemed to need him most. But the power of his legacy, his memory and his vision for a more loving world has lived on for two thousand years. The power of the memory of God's son changed the world. 

Jack Layton was certainly no "messiah". Not by a long shot and he would cringe at the notion of anyone thinking to make such a claim. But Jack was most certainly, a man of the people. Everyone's friend, even to those who didn't know him. He cared about everyone, particularly those in need. He had a charisma and a charm that naturally drew people to him. When Stephen Harper was shunning and vilifying the members of the  media during the last election campaign, Jack was strumming his guitar and having sing-alongs with them. "Love is better than anger"

So even though we are now missing a noble leader to counter the creeping evil of the Corporatist agenda, we are now 35 million citizens strong, drawn together by the memory of a man who believed that  "...Hope is better than fear and Optimism is better than despair" and that the power of love could change the world.  A vision for a better Canada, just when we needed it most.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Consumerism is an Addiction

A recent  article by the British news paper, The Guardian, ( "UK Riots Were Product of Consumerism" ) suggested, as the title implies, that the recent rioting in North London was a reflection of rampant consumerism gone bad. The article quotes economic researcher Tim Morgan as saying:

  "We conclude that the rioting reflects a deeply flawed economic and social ethos… recklessly borrowed consumption, the breakdown both of top-end accountability and of trust in institutions, and severe failings by governments over more than two decades."

Mr Morgan goes on to state:

"The dominant ethos of 'I buy, therefore I am' needs to be challenged by a shift of emphasis from material to non-material values"

Consumerism is of course, the heart and soul of Capitalism. Consumers are the cattle that feed the hungry corporate giants. It has nothing what so ever to do with meeting basic human “needs” of any kind. It's about generating “want” and “desire” and placing value on tangible items and personal “status” above such non tangible notions as equality , justice or social responsibility. It's about excess and maximizing profits.

I'll never forget the monolithic bill board I saw at Disney World a few years ago that read “Excess is Best”. Consumerism then, is about keeping the masses “addicted” , whether it be to Big Macs, Hi-def TVs, iPhones or to the notion that everyone should at least once in their life time visit the ultimate Mecca of pure, unbridled, hedonistic consumerism, Disney World.

But is consumerism an addiction? Not long ago, AlterNet posted an article entitled: "A Radical New Definition of Addiction...". The article states that an addiction is an addiction, whether it be to booze, gambling sex or any obsessive behaviour. The new definition by the American Society of Addictions Medicine (ASAM) defines addictions as:

“... a chronic neurological disorder involving many brain functions, most notably a devastating imbalance in the so-called reward circuitry”. 

The case could easily be made then that rampant consumerism is in fact, an "addiction" . The masses are exposed to hundreds if not thousands of messages daily that tell them that success and happiness are things that can be "obtained" through the possession of iPhones, digital cameras and Hi-Def TVs etc. The consumerist ethos is pervasive and absolutely unavoidable. As a result, the "reward circuitry" of the vast majority of the population is programmed to "want" more and more. "Excess is Best".

So creating and maintaining an “imbalance “ in the reward circuitry of the masses, in essence, keeping them "addicted",   is good for business. But as with any other kind of addiction, when something comes between a person or group of people and their so-called “reward”, self destructive or just plain destructive ,anti-social behaviour is inevitable. Hence, pervasive poverty and social disenfranchisement can easily lead to incidents such as the London Riots when the explosiveness of thousands of addicts denied their "reward" comes in contact with the flame of social injustice.

So in London, consumerist addictions were the fuel to the fire that was sparked by Social injustice (though one could easily make the case that keeping the masses “addicted” is pretty unjust in itself). They started over the shooting of an unarmed black man by police. An act that in the minds of thousands of North-Londoners was symbolic of the perceived disdain society has for the poor, the marginalized and the disaffected. And when they see governments pandering to large corporate interests at the expense of vital social programs that are designed to make societies more inclusive and just, they may not be far from wrong. But the result is the "addicted" masses  rebelling, destroying the symbols of the social and corporate hierarchy that first tantalized , then denied them their hearts desires and eventually, taking by force, that which they have been programed to think of, as their just reward.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Comment on: "When is a Riot a Revolt"

Carl Finamore: When is a Riot a Revolt
Cairo, Spring 2011
 So when is a riot a revolt? As Mr. Finamore points out, the difference is with organization and leadership. Cairo would have been little more than aimless violence without organization and leadership (and social media). Not to mention the support of the main-stream media who are currently villainizing the Tottenham uprising. But the intent is the same. A violent backlash against oppression by the state and/or oppressive social conditions.
Tottenham, Summer 2011
 The British Government is certainly not a despotic regime. Nor are our Governments in North America. However their increasing affiliation with, and allegiance to, the corporatist *neo-liberal elite (who ARE despotic), who buy and pay for our politicians as though they were so many fish-sticks, leave the poor, the marginalized and the disaffected leaderless. They are being vilified, and villainized. As with the new Harper Super-Prisons. Who's going to fill them? Certainly not the Koch brothers or the Aspers of the world. No, the poor, the marginalized and the disaffected who are seen as a drain on the profit margins of the Corporations. So the Corporations turn around and pay our politicians to slash social programs which punishes the poor even more and contributes to increases in criminal activity. 
Case in Point - Julian Fantino, the poster boy for the Conservative Party of Canada around Seniors issues and Crime prevention, blames the poor for their lot and would rather see them locked up. Mr. Fantino of course, dismisses reports that connect levels of poverty with crime rates and clearly does not understand the connection between mental illness/addiction and homelessness . 
Toronto G20, June 2010
And lets not forget for an instant, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's words to a gathering of American Elite back in 2000 where he characterized Canada as: "...a Northern European Welfare State in the worst sense of the term". Remember, a Welfare state is not one that advocates  for it's citizens to exist on welfare ( though it is there for those in need), It is one that cares for the "welfare" of it's citizens, its needs, it poor, it's marginalized and it's disaffected. So what was Mr. Harper saying about the needs of Canadian Citizens and the commitment of the Canadian Government to care for the well being of all of it's citizens? 
So when the state starts to punish this segment of society- that would be the ever growing number of poor, marginalized and disenfranchised- at the behest of the uber-rich 1%, then violence is an inevitability. But again, whether it is a riot or a revolt, depends on it's leadership.
Why Neo-Liberalism isn't Social Liberalism
*In order to avoid confusion, the definition of Liberalism in the context above,  has nothing what-so-ever to do with the modern concept of "Social" Liberalism or Progressiveness.  "Neo-Liberalism or "Classical Liberalism" is defined as:  
".. a label for the market-driven approach to economic and social policy based on neoclassical theories of economics that stresses the efficiency of private enterprise, liberalized trade and relatively open markets, and therefore seeks to maximize the role of the private sector in determining the political and economic priorities of the state" 
Neo-Liberalism of course, advocates for the elimination of trade barriers and of environmental and Governmental regulations which would allow Corporations to do business as they see's fit in order to maximize profits. The myth is, that this kind of society is good for all in that everyone would benefit from the success of big- business. There would be a "trickle-down" effect or a sharing of the profits. In reality, elimination of government regulations would see trade unions become a thing of the past. There would be no protection for employees and no collective bargaining rights. Prices for consumer items would increase while wages would plummet,  creating an every growing number of poor. And thus, the working class would become more and more beholden to the business class and workers would have fewer and fewer rights, effectively reducing them to the level of sweat-shop employees or even worse, slaves. There would be no trickle-down effect as Corporations, Share Holders and the rich would be free to keep their increased profits rather than sharing them with employees through increased wages. 
Alberta Tar Sands, Today
The Tar Sands has already transformed a mammoth section of Alberta the size of England into a grotesque, lunar land scape (It can be seen from space). Further removal of trade barriers and environmental regulations would only lead to the further destruction of our environment while our precious natural resources, like fresh water,  would be controlled by huge corporate interests. Having clean water then, would no longer be a right, but a privilege to those who could afford the ever increasing price.
And if all that weren't disastrous enough for the likes of you and I, check out this comment from Wikipedia regarding Neo/Classical-Liberalism:  
"Adopting Thomas Malthus's population theory, they saw poor urban conditions as inevitable, as they believed population growth would outstrip food production; and they considered that to be desirable, as starvation would help limit population growth. They opposed any income or wealth redistribution, which they believed would be dissipated by the lowest orders".
So according to Neo-Liberal doctrine, starvation of the poor, who are seen as a drain on the economy,  is a good thing as it is a natural means of population control.  
And here are just a few names of some Canadians who would proudly claim to be adherents of the European Economist , Friedrich Hayek who was an unabashed Neo-Liberalist:
-Tom Flanagan, ( Influential Conservative policy adviser)

- Preston Manning,(founder of the Reform Party of Canada along with Stephen Harper, and founder of the Manning Centre, a right-wing think-tank that influences Government policy and provides strategic support to the Conservative Party of Canada.

-Ted Morton (who is currently running for the leadership of the Alberta Conservative Party),

-Jim  Flaherty (our current federal finance minister),

and of course, far from being  last and certainly not the least of whom is:

- Stephen Harper, our Prime Minister. 

And we wonder why riots are occurring with increasing regularity around the world. 


Friday, August 5, 2011

The National Citizen's Coalition has Nothing To Do with the Best Interests of the Citizens of Canada

Colin M. Brown
First of all, lets make one thing clear: The National Citizens Coalition has nothing what-so-ever to do with the "citizens" of Canada. It may well be a "coalition", but it is a coalition of Corporate interests seeking to remove government restrictions to corporate free-booting and to privatize every aspect of our society, including our health care and education systems.

The NCC is in fact, an uber- Conservative lobby group that was formed in 1967 by insurance millionaire Colin M.Brown, to oppose public Health Insurance.  Get the connection there? A Free-Market  Corporatist was essentially pissed that his profit margin was being undercut by the Government of Canada who was seeking to do the right thing by it's citizens.   

The NCC currently has a membership of about 35,000 individual Corporatists (Membership has to be in the name of the individual CEOs as opposed to their actual business interests lest their sham be exposed). So this lobby group represents about 1/10th of 1% of all Canadian "citizens". .

"Gotta build us a Fire-wall 
around Alberta"

Our current Prime Minister, that Libertarian-Free-Marketer , Tar Sands lovin, Alberta Secessionist and all around hater of the poor and the marginalized, Stephen Harper,  was the president of the NCC from 1998 to 2002. He used their "clout" to spring-board himself from the presidency of the NCC into a seat in Parliament in 2002 as a member of the Reform Party. 

According to Wikipedia:

"...The NCC would go on to campaign against "socialized medicine" and other government programs. The NCC has supported privatization, Corporate tax cuts and government spending cuts; it also opposes electoral laws that limit third-party spending. It has been heavily involved in advertising, political campaigns and legal challenges in support of its goals of "more freedom through less government."

In addition, the NCC has gone on to campaign against:

-The Canadian Health Act, 
-The Canadian Wheat Board, 
-Vietnamese refugees (The Boat People)
-The Mandatory Long form census,
-The Long-Gun registry. 
- The Elections Canada Act

The NCC also formed and funded the Ontarians for Responsible Government Lobby group, their Provincial "arm" in Ontario. The ORG was instrumental in the election of Mike Harris as the Premier from 1995 to 2003.

This is a highly secretive organization ladies and gentlemen. It uses every means at it's disposal to protect the identity of it's members and to keep it's activities well away from the public eye.

So under no circumstances fellow Canadians, should we be duped by the euphemistic name of this highly secretive Corporatist Lobby-group. It has no interest what-so-ever in the well being of the citizens of this country (accept that we be kept poor and beholden to our Corporate Masters). The NCC has one purpose and one purpose only: to see Canada turned into a kind of Free-market "wild-west" where corporations are free of any and all regulations, trade barriers are non-existent and all environmental concerns   are permanently suspended. In essence, business can do what ever it pleases while  the rich (the 1% of our overall population) get richer and the poor die-off in solitary confinement in one of the many new private super-prisons being constructed by the Government of Harper.

So don't ever trust the NCC fellow citizens. They mean you great harm.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Who Really Owns America (George Carlin)

Pay attention here fellow Canadians because Canada is well on the way the very same situation our prophetic friend Mr. Carlin (bless him) is talking about here. And now that Stephen the Reformist has complete and unfettered control of the Government, he will take us the rest of the way.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Turning Canada into a "Free Market Wild West"

So if I understand the theories and details correctly, we've all been "had" once again by the Harper-Cons and by Harpernomics.

Whether one believes that the great world-wide financial crisis of 2008 was real or manufactured , it was very timely for Stephen Harper. It served to shift the national debate away from the environment (where it rightfully belonged and where the Government of Harper was woefully inadequate) to saving Canada from financial Armageddon. And even though in his first two years in office, Harper effectively squandered the $16 billion surplus he inherited from Paul Martin, he was able to show himself to be the only REAL leader to guide us out of the darkness, having effectively neutered Stephan Dion in the minds of most Canadians through the use of vicious attack ads. 

So Harper had his crisis, real or imagined and he positioned himself to be the only person to be able to deal with it. So what did he do? He spent! He spent like a drunken sailor in a whore-house! He bailed out the Canadian branches of American automobile manufacturers. He spent on infrastructure that, while it put a few people to work, it put billions of dollars into the pockets of private enterprise. And most of the money was spent in Conservative ridings, not spread evenly throughout the country. 

So in the mean time, despite a plethora of ethical and undemocratic indiscretions, Harper continued to look like the "Candy Man". And he wanted the citizens of Canada to know about it through the posting of mammoth "Canadian Economic Action Plan" signs all around the country. And then,low and behold, Harper managed to ride the waves of the economic Tsunami, with himself portrayed as our Savior,  into a majority government. To this day, I believe Harper wanted the election in May of 2011. He probably wanted it earlier as he needed to continue to capitalize on the economic crisis, but he couldn't cajole the opposition into a vote of non confidence any sooner.

As an aside here, I also believe that Harper wanted the 2008 election when he did. If you'll remember, he made, and  then unfathomably broke, his own fixed-date election law. He likely had a sense of the coming economic crises, the "perfect capitalist storm" and had to position himself to be able to capitalize on it's effect.

But back to the beginning here. We now have an enemy within our midst, the monster known as the "debt". The huge unwieldy national debt that "had" to be assumed in order to save the country from economic collapse. And now, Harper armed with his unchallengeable majority government has begun the gutting of the Canadian social structure through cuts to programs and the laying off of thousands upon thousands of Government employees. And leave us not forget, these laid off employees will not be injecting money back into the economy. And as illustrated by his unprecedented back to work legislation of Canada Post, Harper means to break the back of Canadian unions. I say the legislation was unprecedented not because it was passed into law,but because Harper dictated the level of salary to be paid to the employees, a rate lower then was previously offered by Canada Post.

So again, if I understand the theories correctly, The first phase of the Mass Corporate Privatization of Canada was Harper using the economic crisis to catapult himself to victory. The second phase was the massive spending spree that created the huge national debt, and the third phase is now the austerity measures and is meant to punish us all for the economic crisis that was a result (again, artificial or not) of huge  corporate multinational manipulation. And ironically, Harper is rewarding these huge corporate entities with further tax breaks here in Canada.

The fourth phase should be a period of high unemployment, high inflation rates, increased poverty and a near if not complete collapse of our social safety net. The fifth and final phase (and if all goes according to Harper's plan, should arrive in time for him to ride the wave to a second majority government) should be the government funded replacement of these social services by  privatized services such as the private mega health-center that is being built adjacent to the new hospital in Julian Fantino's Vaughn riding.

As Harper promised in 2006, we won't know Canada by the time he's done changing it. Our Government will be much smaller, meaning there will be fewer eyes to watch the banks and businesses in Canada. The power of unions will be in serious decline, our social services will be farmed out to private entities, there will be less and less government regulation of banks and businesses and we will have a tax free trade zone with both Europe and the United states that will mean the whole-sale sell off of our natural resources and our national assets.

And to go hand in hand with this shift to a more pure "Free Market Wild West", the Constitution  and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms will be regarded as antiquated relics from the age of Liberal rhetoric. And look for the mass politicization of the Supreme Court into a more Conservative-friendly legal entity. All of these things have to occur so that individual citizens will have fewer rights and Corporate Canada will have a virtual carte-blanch to assume, consume, control and capitalize on all Canada has to offer.

So yes fellow citizens, it appears we have been sold a massive bill of goods and we, our children, our grandchildren and probably our great-grandchildren will be the ones paying for our being duped. Future generations will never know the kinder, gentler, all inclusive Canada that we have come to know and love. It will have all been sold off and the social "classes" will be even more distinct then ever before. By the time of our Grand Children, Canada may even have become part of a huge, unified economic zone that includes Mexico and has the United States as the driving force. Not like the North American Free Trade zone but more like the European Union. And all of this, will be to reduce and eliminate barriers and to create an environment for Free Market Capitalism to flourish at the expense of the majority and with the full support of Governments everywhere. And we will still have democracy, at least the illusion of democracy,  But real power will be in the hands of corporate Canada, not in the hands of governments or the people anymore. We will effectively, be living in an Oligarchy

Friday, July 15, 2011

Harper Declares War on the U.N.

It appears that the Government of Harper is going out of it's way to disrupt, discredit and to bring the normal functioning of the U.N. to it's knees. In the last week alone, Canada has thrown a monkey wrench into UN arms trade talks by insisting on unrestricted trade of "hunting and sporting rifles". It has withdrawn in protest from a committee that deals with Nuclear Arms restrictions because North Korea is currently the rotating committee chair and before that, the Canadian delegation at the UN refused to recognize Palestine's right to exist as a state despite more than 100 other UN delegates backing the move.

Previous to this week, Ottawa scuttled the UN Rotterdam convention to have asbestos listed as a hazardous substance. It has refused to change language in any Government Documents that uses the phrase "Visible Minority". The UN claims this infers that Canadian Society is normally "White Anglo Saxon Protestant" and the phrase Visible Minority refers to a person's "non-whiteness".

Upon winning his long coveted majority Government in May, Harper proudly proclaimed that HIS Government will make several unpopular  decisions regarding foreign policy and will "not bow to every petty dictator who has a vote in the UN"

The Government of Harper has gone to great lengths to defy the UN accord on Child Soldiers by refusing to repatriate Omar Khadr (not to mention denying Khadr his rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms)

Of course, since he was first elected Prime Minister in 2006, Harper has done everything in his power to scuttle attempts by the UN led international community to establish meaningful limits on greenhouse gas emissions. And he has succeeded in spades, much to the delight of big oil and to the detriment of our mother earth.

 So Harper has decided to declare war on the UN. This may be a result of  being snubbed last fall when Canada lobbied for a seat at the UN security counsel. Harper's  vindictive war may  possibly be the result of a significant mental health disorder (either Paranoid Personality Disorder or Narcissistic Personality Disorder) that seriously effects his judgment. Then again, Harper may see himself as a champion for global Free Market Capitalism and see's the UN as being too Socialist and  a threat to the large corporate institutions that would benefit  from unbridled world wide Capitalism.  It may well be Harper's Narcissistic tendencies that allow him to believe he is championing the cause of Global Capitalism but in reality, all he has done is earn Canada the label of "Rogue State".

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Update on "Diagnosing Harper" - Stephen Harper's Mental Disorder.

My blog post about diagnosing Harper's mental illness has garnered a little attention the past 24 hours. I found this a little heartening after it's slow start. I took this post quite seriously. To me, it was a very disturbing revelation when I stopped looking at the trees and finally saw the forest and subsequently concluded that our Prime Minister may well be suffering from a significant mental illness.

Some of the reaction to the post was a little confusing. Some found it funny. I attributed this to my writing style. But one co-twitterphile seemed to take my observations to heart and in fact, did me one better. This person came up with a diagnosis which also might fit the "Harper profile":  Narcissistic Megalomania.

At first, this diagnosis didn't seem to fit for me. I had a hard time getting my head around the Narcissistic part. Harper is many things, but I felt he was more paranoid then self-absorbed. But I decided to investigate anyway. As stated earlier, I may be pretty good at recognizing deviant patterns of behaviour, but I'm no psychiatrist. So it had to be conceded that others might have a better read on this than me.

After consulting Wikipedia, this is what I found:

Narcissistic Megalomania is a term that was used to describe the condition that is now known as  Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The Personality disorder part seemed to make sense, but I still wasn't sold. But I read on to discovere that characteristics of this malady include:

"To the extent that people are pathologically narcissistic, they can be controlling, blaming, self-absorbed, intolerant of others’ views, unaware of others' needs and of the effects of their behavior on others, and insistent that others see them as they wish to be seen.
People who are overly narcissistic commonly feel rejected, humiliated and threatened when criticized. To protect themselves from these dangers, they often react with disdain, rage, and/or defiance to any slight criticism, real or imagined. To avoid such situations, some narcissistic people withdraw socially and may feign modesty or humility. In cases where the narcissistic personality-disordered individual feels a lack of admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation, he/she may also manifest wishes to be feared and to be notorious (narcissistic supply)".

"Although individuals with NPD are often ambitious and capable, the inability to tolerate setbacks, disagreements or criticism, along with lack of empathy, make it difficult for such individuals to work cooperatively with others or to maintain long-term professional achievements. 

With narcissistic personality disorder, the individual's self-perceived fantastic grandiosity, often coupled with a hypomanic mood, is typically not commensurate with his or her real accomplishments.

The exploitativeness, sense of entitlement, lack of empathy, disregard for others, and constant need for attention inherent in NPD adversely affect interpersonal relationships".

I think the "kicker" though regarding this diagnosis was the following paragraph on a behaviour that's known as "Splitting":

"People who are diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder use splitting (black and white thinking) as a central defense mechanism. They do this to preserve their self-esteem, by seeing the self as purely good and the others as purely bad. The use of splitting also implies the use of other defense mechanisms, namely devaluation, idealization and denial."

To me, this last paragraph accurately describes such things as Harper's stance on Israel, who can do no wrong, and The detainee issue, his assertion being that it's critics were un-Canadian.  In addition, the Prime Minister has gone to great lengths to discredit the U.N. since he lost the seat on the U.N security council. A seat that was ours to lose. This would be the "devaluation" or "denial" piece of the puzzle as described above. 

Again, I am not a mental health professional, but I take this notion of Harper being mentally ill quite seriously. Whether you consider his personality disorder to be Paranoid or Narcissistic makes little difference. (Personally, I still lean toward the Paranoid Personality Disorder, but you be the judge for yourself) It is effecting his judgment and it is taking our country down a dark and foreboding path that we will all come to regret for a very long time. I wish that the main stream media would pick up on this reality and that a psychiatrist or two would come forward and go on the record.

As with a ship at sea, when the captain appears to have lost his mental faculties, it is incumbent upon  the first officer to step forward and take control of the ship. It's not mutiny, it's duty. So who will step forward and do their duty I wonder? 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Diagnosing Harper

First of all, I need to say that I am neither a psychiatrist, a psychologist nor any kind of mental health clinician for that matter. But I have  been a Child and Youth Counsellor  for 30 years now, so I've become pretty good at identifying deviant and maladaptive patterns of behaviour. It's a big part of what I do. That being said, what ever I say from here on in is at best, a guess, based on my observations of our current Prime Minister. It can in no way be construed as any kind of clinical assessment or medical diagnosis. It is my opinion only. So.... onward and upward!

I know I'm not the only one who's raised an eyebrow at Prime Minister Stephen Harper's behaviour. I've heard him characterized in the mainstream media and in the online community as being: a megalomaniac, a tin-pot dictator, an autocrat, an ideologue, a control freak, a bully etc. Our country has been labeled as a "rogue state" by the European Union due to Mr. Harper's unfathomable stance on exporting asbestos to developing nations. These are all very powerful comments. But I think they are also indicators of something far more complicated going on with our friend Mr. Harper than just the appearance of being a "tough nut" (pun intended).

I've written about the Prime Minister a fair bit in the last year. It's pretty safe to say that I don't much like his politics and way of doing business. He is turning the clock back on Canadian Society to somewhere around 1950. I believe he is hurting our country. But recently, I started noticing some patterns in the way Harper does things. I say only recently because I never bothered to look for patterns of behaviour with The P.M. before. But they are now as plain as the nose on my face. And anyone who's ever seen my beak would say it's pretty hard to miss.

Let's start with the obvious, Harper's need to control. It's common knowledge that The P.M. controls his caucus with an iron fist. It's his way or the highway all of the time. He sets the tone, the talking points, the script, the policies. And heaven help any party member who deviates from the party line. There are precious few Ministers or MPs who he allows to speak. All others must consult with the PMO first. This was no where as apparent as in the last election. Harper forbade most of his candidates from participating in debates in their own ridings. So the vast majority of the campaign message came right from the top. Only Harper himself and his trusted lieutenants were allowed to speak. He  exercised complete control of his party's message.

Next lets look at Harper's unconditional support for Israel. Other Prime Ministers have stood firm regarding any of our fellow nations and allies who have transgressed in any way. Brian Mulroney and John Diefenbaker's opposition to apartheid in sister Commonwealth nation South Africa comes to mind.  Yet Harper seems wholly incapable of casting any kind of criticism on our international ally Israel. They can do no wrong to him. And what's worse, he has insinuated that anyone who says they do, is probably anti-Semitic. All or nothing for Mr. H. Just as with the Afghan detainee issue. When it first arose, he accused critics of Canada's detainee policy of being more concerned about the enemy than about our own soldiers. He called them "un Canadian". Again, all or nothing. This may well have been a bit of politicking on the P.M.s part, but I also believe it is part of a wider pattern of behaviour.

It is generally accepted that there are two kinds of people where Mr. Harper is concerned. Those who are with him and those who are against him. And those who are against him are enemies to be eradicated. It's no secret that Harper has made it a personal goal to completely destroy the Liberal Party. Results from the last election would indicate he's doing a pretty good job of that.

The Prime Minister has claimed that the mainstream media is biased against him. So much so that he limited the press to only 5 questions at each campaign stop in the last election. He also chose the questions he would be asked and by whom. He forgets how tough the media were on previous Liberal Governments, particularly former Prime Minister Jean Chretien. But Chretien didn't isolate himself or attempt to control the media. Just the opposite. He seemed to like a "good go of it" with an inquiring journalist. Mr. Harper though, is clearly paranoid about their intentions and has claimed that they are all left-leaning and not to be trusted. The media are his enemy now and he is raising funds to combat them.

Harper does not forgive a slight. It was a shameful failure of the Harper Government that Canada did not secure a seat on the U.N. Security Council last fall. This is something he has not forgotten, nor forgiven. He has subsequently thumbed his nose at numerous U.N. accords and committees, most recently, the U.N. Rotterdam convention to have asbestos declared a harmful substance. Canada single-handedly blocked this from happening. In addition, Harper is being called to task by the U.N. for his steadfast refusal to change the phrase "visible minorities" from any government document pertaining to any person or group of people who are of an  ethnic background. The use of this phrase, "visible minority" according to the U.N. infers that the "norm" is white Anglo Saxon Protestant and that it speaks to a person's "non-whiteness". Harper refuses to change this phraseology.

Upon receiving his long sought majority government, Mr. Harper declared that Canada will make several unpopular decisions regarding it's foreign policy in the future and will not "bow to every petty dictator who has a vote in the U.N." "Ouch"!

Then there is the Famous Harper aloofness. This is something his handlers have been struggling with for years.  How to transform a man who presents as cold and distant into warm an cuddly. The handlers don't seem to be doing a very good job in this regard though. He's the same cold, aloof politician as always, only with glasses and a persistent smarmy grin on his face now. He continues to be inaccessible and distant to all who are not a part of his inner circle.

So if we sum up the above behaviours as exhibited by our Prime Minister, we see:

- Need for control
- All or nothing, you're with me or against me. Friends can do no wrong, enemies can do no right
- Paranoia, enemies are everywhere and need to be eradicated.
- Never forgive a slight
- cold, aloof, inaccessible, open to only a small group of people in his inner circle.

So armed with these observations, I went searching for a possible cause for our Prime Minister's behaviour, his being a little beyond the ODD, ASD, ADHD and all those other "D's" that I work with on a daily basis. So after doing some research, this is what I've come up with: Paranoid Personality Disorder.

According to the World Health Organization, signs and symptoms of Paranoid Personality Disorder include:
  1. Excessive sensitivity to setbacks and rebuffs;
  2. Tendency to bear grudges persistently, i.e. refusal to forgive insults and injuries or slights;
  3. Suspiciousness and a pervasive tendency to distort experience by misconstruing the neutral or friendly actions of others as hostile or contemptuous;
  4. A combative and tenacious sense of personal rights out of keeping with the actual situation;
  5. Recurrent suspicions, without justification, regarding sexual fidelity of spouse or sexual partner;
  6. Tendency to experience excessive self-importance, manifest in a persistent self-referential attitude;
  7. Preoccupation with unsubstantiated "conspiratorial" explanations of events both immediate to the patient and in the world at large. 
According to Wikipedia, people with Paranoid Personality Disorder are characterized by:

"Hypersensitivity, are easily slighted, and habitually relate to the world by vigilant scanning of the environment for clues or suggestions to validate their prejudicial ideas or biases. Paranoid individuals are eager observers. They think they are in danger and look for signs and threats of that danger, disregarding any facts. ( Waldinger, 1997). They tend to be guarded and suspicious and have quite constricted emotional lives. Their incapacity for meaningful emotional involvement and the general pattern of isolated withdrawal often lend a quality of schizoid isolation to their life experience".

In addition, the website www.psychcentral.com states that:

"Because individuals with Paranoid Personality Disorder lack trust in others, they have an excessive need to be self-sufficient and a strong sense of autonomy. They also need to have a high degree of control over those around them. They are often rigid, critical of others, and unable to collaborate, and they have great difficulty accepting criticism".

Well based on the information I discovered above and compared to the observations I've made, I think we have a diagnosis. I should add here that Paranoid Personality disorder is usually treated with antidepressant, antipsycotic and antanxiety medications.   Because of heightened levels of paranoia and reduced levels of trust, psychotherapy is difficult though not impossible.

So we have a Prime Minister who may well be suffering from a significant mental illness. Because of the field I'm in, I am a great believer in rehabilitation and reintegration, even though the subject in question is not. But even I, the die-hard, bleeding-heart Liberal, has to ask: is this a man who should be running our country, Or is this a man who should be made to step down immediately and be compelled to enter treatment?  Again, I'm not a mental health professional, but If asked to vote on the matter, I would opt for the latter.