"A Citizen"s Eye View"

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chaos Makes for Better Headlines Than Peace

About four weeks ago, I posted a piece about Egypt. It was in reference to a news article about Muslim Egyptians rallying around their Coptic Christian brethren, using themselves as human shields so that the Copts could attend Christmas Mass. 

To me, that story was a shining beacon of hope. It was a lesson to all of us in both the Eastern and Western world that people of differing religions and ideals, who have been traditional enemies, could make peace and coexist side by side. And I imagined that somewhere, Gandhi must have been smiling. 

But this story of inspiration was overshadowed by the violent events that occurred in Arizona that same weekend. They were contrasting stories, the ones in Arizona and Egypt. Unfortunately, it was the former that captured our collective imagination here in the West. The Egyptian story going all but unnoticed. 

Today, Egypt is awash in violence. Today, the West is taking notice of what is going on in that corner of the world. Because of our insatiable need for sensationalistic news in the age of 24/7 reporting, Western news outlets are characterising the  unrest in Egypt as "rioting", "looting", "mob-rule". Chaos certainly makes for better headlines than peace and brotherhood. 

We have decided here in the West, that this citizen uprising is about democracy. We have decided, in our arrogance, that the Egyptian people want to be more like "us". I can't honestly say if this is the case  though I'm quite sure the word "democracy" is being thrown around quite liberally among those trying to bring down the government. Unfortunately, the result of violent uprisings such as this is usually the installation of a regime more oppressive than the one it fought to replace. And the country becomes even more unstable.

So now we take notice of that most ancient of countries where the Nile meets the Mediterranean. Now that it is being torn asunder and people are dying needlessly. What a pity we didn't pay closer attention to the events of four weeks ago when Egypt was delivering a universal message of peace and brotherhood to the world. It makes me wonder if we civilized folk are ready for that message. It appears we are more concerned about being entertained than about harmony with our fellow man. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

And Harper Celebrates Five Years of Survival

Well the folks at the "New-Conservative Party" just had a big ol "whoop-it-up" to celebrate being in power for the past five years.

There they were, all patting each other on the back for having survived as long as they have. I doubt many of those in attendance anticipated their tenure would have lasted this long. But there they cling, with bleeding, trembling fingers to the precarious rock face that is their perpetual minority government.

And there in lays the rub. They have spent five years surviving. That is their sole legacy after having held the reigns of power since 2006. That and the fact that Stephen Harper has now governed his minority longer than Lester B. Pearson did his.

So lets compare shall we? In five years, Pearson implemented Universal Health Care and gave us our own flag instead of the old British Patronising "Red Ensign". Oh yes, and he also brought Student Loans, The Canada Pension Plan and the Order of Canada into existence. All of which was accomplished with out having prorogued Parliament or stacked the Senate with rabid partisan has-beens and wanna-bes. No, Pearson's strategy involved collaboration and consensus building.

In Contrast, Stephen Harper has survived. Period. That in itself, is his legacy. Rather than building consensus or collaborating (which could, heaven forbid, be confused with building a coalition) he has alienated, insulted, divided, bashed, lied, cheated, discounted and suspended democracy itself all in an effort to maintain his tenuous hold on power.

Canada was a better, richer place after five years of Pearson. A country to be proud of with a strong national identity. Can we honesty say the same after five years of Stephen Harper?

Congratulations Mr. Harper, you're still Prime Minister in spite of yourself. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"It comes out at night" -- Bob Rae (Toronto Centre)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

We have so much to learn about Peace and Solidarity.


Two very different news stories surfaced today, one emblematic of the culture of extreme hate that has proliferated our Western Political culture. The other, comes from the Eastern part of the world that many in our supposedly free-thinking society have written off as barbaric and medieval.

Gabrielle Giffords, a democratic Congresswoman from Arizona was shot and critically wounded today by a would-be assassin. But the indiscriminate shooting of the assassin killed 5 other people including a federal court judge and a nine year old child.

Ms. Giffords has spoken out in support of homosexuality, same sex marriages and in favour of President Obama's Health Care bill and against Arizona's controversial Illegal Immigrant bill. . As a result of her vocal support for civil rights, her office had been been vandalised and a gun was found at another gathering such as today's.

Many in the media are looking at a map that was posted on "Tea-Party poster-girl",Sarah Palin's web site that placed "cross-hairs" such as would be found on a rifle scope, over twenty Democratic Representatives including Ms.Giffords along with the message that Republicans need to reclaim these lost seats. A subsequent message by a Palin follower was left on Ms. Palin's Facebook account saying that Giffords "deserved to die" because of her leftist views.

Many, including the Pima County Sheriff in Arizona where the shooting took place, are openly blaming the culture of narrow minded hate that has proliferated the ultra-conservative way of thinking in North America today. Now it it very unlikely that there is any connection what so ever between Palin, the Tea-Party and this shooter. But the climate of narrow minded hate exists because of these kinds of ultra conservative thinkers. Whether one is the product of the other remains to be seen. The shooter, Jared Loughner appears at first blush, to be a very disturbed individual. Videos on his YouTube channel indicate someone who is obsessed with "currency" time and the Constitution. His motives then may have nothing what so ever to do with the Politics of the extreme Right. But at this point, they remain very much a mystery.

And we here in Canada should not feel the least bit smug about our own society. The culture of narrow-minded fearmongering and hate is rapidly taking shape here as well thanks to our Evangelical-Reformist Prime Minister and his followers. Intolerance toward other religions and cultures are becoming the order of the day as reflected in Canada's current policies regarding foreign affairs and immigration. And a former aid to Prime Minister Harper, Tom Flanagan stated on National T.V that Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks should be "assassinated". Of course Mr. Flanagan has since claimed that his comment was made as a joke, but never the less, it has become far too easy for those of us in the Western World to call for the death or torture of anyone who presents a dissenting voice. Mainly because we are all so out of touch with the realities of assassination and violent death.... until today.

All of which brings me to the second story of the day. Thousands of Muslims using them selves as "human shields" so that Coptic Christians could attend Christmas Mass in Cairo and around Egypt.

This gesture was the result of a long history of sectarian violence against the Coptic faith in Egypt, including the bombing of a Coptic Church on New Year's Eve that killed 21 and instilled fear in Coptic Christians world wide. But Egyptian Muslims who make up the majority of the population, have had enough and were willing to put themselves in potential harms way so that their fellow Egyptians could celebrate their mass. Their rallying slogan being "we live together, and we die together". All around the country, Muslims have been changing their facebook icons to show a Christian Cross inside of the Muslim Crescent, a gesture of solidarity. Similar banners and flags have been sprouting up around the country in this rarest of displays of religious solidarity in a country that has been rocked by religious intolerance.

So on this day when violence, brutality and strong political views have rocked our supposedly civilised society, we should look to the east, to a Muslim dominated country for the most dramatic of examples of solidarity and Humanity. And I sincerely hope that the most extreme among us, can look upon and learn from this example. That we can ill afford to be arrogant and judgemental about people of different countries, cultures and religions. We have our own human failings just as much as they do. But we can learn from them as well. And we should feel humbled

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Ten reasons to oppose the Harper candidate in your riding | rabble.ca

Holy cow, and I thought I had the goods on Harper. This woman is phenomenal. And she lists way more than 10 reasons By the way. Please read her article.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Mexican teen will be deported: Canada Get's tough on Immigration.

And Canada begins to slam shut it's doors and haul in the welcome matt to all who wish to come here and contribute to our once proud society. Cabinet Minister Tony Clements has openly stated that it "bothers" him whenever he hears two people talking in any language other than English or French.

In Hamilton Ontario, The Feds have rendered SISO, a prominent agency charged with assisting with the integration of immigrants, nothing more than a pale shadow of a pale shadow of it's former self. Yes, there was cause for close scrutiny of this agency by the Federal Government due to some glaring indiscretions on the part of the former Executive Director of SISO, but the Board of Directors had replaced the E.D. and the agency was in the process of successfully bringing itself back in line with federal regulations when the axe fell, multiple times.

In Toronto, the single largest port of entry in the country for new immigrants, Agencies similar to SISO are being slashed to the bone.

The new citizenship exam, implemented in 2010 has produced a failure rate of 80%.

And now this. Immigration Minister Jason Kenny has refused to intervene on the part of a Mexican Teenager, Daniel Garcia, who has been living in Canada and successfully attending secondary school in Toronto. He has been an exemplary citizen and has given every indication that he has the potential to contribute positively to the community.

Garcia and his older sister came to Canada in an effort to flee oppression and death threats due to the sister's sexual orientation. They have been unsuccessful in obtaining refugee status and the older sibling was subsequently deported prior to Christmas. By the time this blog post is read, it is likely that Daniel has already been returned to Mexico, despite appeals from his school, various community groups and an on-line petition initiated on his behalf.

Leave us not forget good citizens that in this autocratic regime, what ever words come out of Minister Clement's, Minister Kenny's or any Tory Cabinet Minister's mouths are those of their Evangelical Reformist leader Stephen Harper. Their will is his will, their actions are his. The Reverend Harper is throwing up a wall topped with razor wire around Canada's borders at the behest of our isolationist neighbours to the south.

Canada is no longer a good citizen of the world community. In fact, the rest of the world has stated that, in it's current incarnation, Canada is not welcome as a serious participant in world affairs as attested to by our failure to gain a two year seat on the U.N. Security Council for the first time ever. Our Government has arrogantly stood in judgement of other countries, their customs, their religions and convictions and found them to be wanting, not suitable for entry into the international melting pot that once was Canada. The Reverend Harper sees not people, human beings worthy of the same rights and freedoms afforded to all free Canadian Citizens. He sees ethnicity, he sees cultures and values that do match his own, he sees religions that offend his 1950s sense of family values. And he sees skin colour. He sees soulless sinners who are to be shunned and left to die in what ever misery his god has seen fit to inflict upon them.

Canada is becoming an isolationist theocracy, not many rungs below Afghanistan or Iran. And we have the unmitigated gall to stand in judgement of their society's. In the eyes of the world, we have gone from a nation of tolerant advocates to a regime cold blooded oppressors. And none of us seems to have the where-withal to lift a finger to stop it.