"A Citizen"s Eye View"

Sunday, December 29, 2013

10 Wishes For Canada In 2014

Nope, no reviews or predictions here!
As a rule, I don't much care for "year end reviews". I find them to be a waste of time. 

While I consider myself to be a student of history, I find that looking backwards to rehash what has happened in the near past isn't nearly as constructive as looking ahead. What has happened in the past has already happened. We've already lived it for better or for worse. 

Yes, I believe it to be true that he who fails to heed the lessons of history is doomed to repeat it's mistakes, but hey- 2013 has shown us oh so many mistakes- at least as far as Canadian politics is concerned- we all know what they were. In this age of 24/7 news coverage, they've been all too glaring and impossible to ignore. So lets move on already. 

And don't get me started on predictions. None of us has a crystal ball and none of us is, to my knowledge, psychic. The best any of us can do regarding the year ahead, is to make guesses, educated or otherwise. 

So no, I won't be titillating anyone with my prediction that Stephen Harper will suffer from male pattern baldness in the next year and end up wearing a hair piece that makes him look like Donald Trump, hence leading to his continued slide in the polls and his eventual ouster as P.M. But we can hope. 

So no, no rehashing of the high or low lights of 2013 and no Ouija board induced glimpses into 2014 from this corner. But what I CAN offer, are some of my hopes, dreams and wishes for Canada for the coming year. So here is my list of top 10 things I hope happens in 2014:

1) While vacationing on his yacht in the sunny Caribbean, Gary Bettman is
"Arrrr Billy, Have yea ever been to sea"??
kidnapped by a merry band of homosexual pirates. The Pirates attempt to ransom Bettman, but no one seems willing to cough up the money for his safe return. So the price the pirates are asking for the "Tiny-Perfect Person" keeps getting lower and lower until finally, Don Cherry offers the sum of $1.95. The Pirates accept the deal but ultimately, Gary, who ends up changing his name to Sherry, refuses to leave the company of his new shipmates. 

2a) In the absence of Bettman, the NHL seems to come to its collective senses and cancels an impending expansion franchise  that would have seen Boise Idaho land a team which the city had intended to call the "Ice Taters". 

2b) The league then decides to place franchises in Hamilton, Saskatoon, Quebec and Halifax and subsequently creates a Canadian and American conference so that each year, the Stanly cup is contested by an American club and a Canadian club. 

3) Justin Trudeau continues to have good hair days. Much as they try, the ReformaCons can't seem to find a bad picture of Justin who on his worst day, still exudes more charm and charisma than Helmet-Head Harper on his best. 

Harper was never able to pull off the
Clint Eastwood look. 
4) Thomas Mulcair keeps his beard which gives him a  Clint Eastwoodish kind of persona in Parliament that suits his shoot from the hip, rapid fire style of questioning. In keeping with this theme, Thomas's handlers eventually talk him into wearing a poncho and chewing on a cigar stub during question period while occasionally uttering the phrase "go ahead, make my day".

5) Elizabeth May becomes Prime Minister. Hey, if you're going to dream, dream big.

6) Ezra Levant accepts an offer to be a celebrity rodeo clown at the upcoming Calgary Stampede. Once there however, Levant becomes upset with a particularly confrontational Bull who he accuses of being antisemitic. The Bull subsequently launches Levant into orbit and was last seen streaking past the International Space Station where resident Cosmonauts claim to have heard the ex-lawyer screaming "I'LL SUE"!

7) Mike Duffy puts a curse on the entire Conservative caucus so that every time one of them attempts to spout empty talking points and twisted rhetoric, their lips spontaneously combust. 

8) Rob Ford, deciding he needs a vacation from the stress and strain of his own stupidity, goes on Safari in deepest, darkest Africa and attempts to poach wild elephants so that he can sell their tusks for a tidy profit. However Ford's brother Doug, (who is also on this vacation, because the Ford brothers can't seem to do anything on their own), mistakes Rob for one of their prey and accidentally shoots him. Rob, eventually recovers from what turns out to be a flesh wound in the posterior and subsequently blames the Toronto Star for his ordeal. 

9) In an extremely rare moment of contrition, Stephen Harper invites Stephane Dion to lunch at an outdoor cafe in Ottawa. As Harper is about to apologize to Dion for ruining his career, a puffin flies overhead and poops on Harper's head to which Dion comments: "Karma is a bitch eh fat boy"? 

10) Canadians finally wake up and realize that our country's experiment with conservatism was a horrendous mistake and we can all go back to being a respected, progressive nation again. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

James Moore Let The Cat Out Of The Bag

Jimmy Moore reminds me of that fake signing
interpreter at the Mandela funeral. 
On Friday, Federal Industry Minister (and hopeful Harper successor) James Moore told a Vancouver radio station that child poverty is not Ottawa's problem.

He pointed a stubby finger at the provinces and accusingly said it was THEIR problem that one in seven Canadian children is living in poverty  and that it's not HIS job to feed his neighbor's children. 

And then Little Jimmy went on to spout ReformaCon talking points about fighting poverty through "jobs, growth and long term prosperity" (or as Canada's poor might suggest, long term austerity).

And therein lies the foundation of the Conservative mindset. 

Our Straussian Neo-con government would still have us believe in the rather whimsical, mythical creature known as the "invisible hand of capitalism". 

According to this tall tale, prosperity in business equals prosperity for everyone. That the wealth and success realized by the business class will "trickle down" to the peons laboring in the fields, thus stimulating greater consumerism and a very Merry Christmas for one and all. 

But of course, the Invisible Hand is as much a children's tale as is Santa Clause. The truth of it is, the success of big business has resulted in unprecedented hoarding of grotesque sums of cash in offshore tax free havens. None of that manna is trickling down any further than the CEO's yearly bonuses. 

And if that weren't enough to purchase a yacht or two for the affluent 1%, they are colluding with our Government to kill organized labor and drive down wages across the country. And in the process, they want to cut huge holes in our social safety net that has taken decades to weave. 

Let's not forget that for years, citizen Stephen (Harper) was president
Colin M. Brown
Rich Insurance Magnet
And founder of the NCC
of the National Citizen's Coalition. This highly secretive lobby group which represents the interests of the business class, was founded by a rich insurance man who felt that our national health insurance program was undercutting his bottom line. 

But since Canada still tends to be a rather progressive place with strong progressive values (as opposed to Stephen's assertion that the Conservative party's values are Canadian values) Mr. H and company have had to soft-peddle their Neo-Con rhetoric in order to implement incremental change in the fundamental way Canadadians look after one another and do it in such a way that was hardly noticeable.  Hence, Stephen's hard line on talking points and message control lest one of his apostles accidently lets the cat out of the bag regarding the Conservative agenda as Moore did Friday. 

Let em eat cake!
Today, Jimmy Moore apologized for his heartless comments. But it is a case of too little too late. In a moment of weakness (or strength depending on how you look at it), Moore spoke his mind and gave us all a glimpse inside what the Harper Government REALLY thinks. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Two Tiered Medical Care In Canada As Seen Through My Fuzzy Eyes.

Me and Bubbles. Brother's from
different Mother's
I walk into things. Driving at night is terrifying. I can't distinguish faces at a distance which is rather embarrassing when I chase people for blocks, calling them by name, only to realize when I catch up to them that the person in question is a complete stranger. Worse still, that they aren't even of the appropriate gender in relation to the name I'd been calling them.

I have cataracts you see. 

Nowadays, Cataracts aren't a big deal. A quick in and out day surgery and "Bob's your Uncle". They don't even put you out to slice your eyes open and insert the new and improved synthetic lenses. They just load you up on happy juice and stick a needle in your eyeball. It's common surgery. 

Thank god we live in Canada eh?

Then why do I get the distinct impression that good vision is not for the working poor such as eye.... I mean, "I"?

It has taken a full year from the first time I went to the optometrist and paid the $80 for the appointment that wasn't covered by OHIP, (only to learn that there was nothing they could do for me), to next week, when I get to lay on the operating table, stoned to the gills as the surgeon puts my peepers in the ball washer. 

I guess there are a lot of us folks chasing strangers around the block. So there's a pretty long wait list. 

When I was being assessed by the surgeon, I was told that they needed to take accurate measurements of my eyes, most specifically, the old worn out lenses.  This made sense to me. I wouldn't want the good doctor to be replacing my lenses with teacups. 

The Doc told me there were two ways of accomplishing this measurement. One was with lasers, which were quite accurate but weren't covered by OHIP, or the second which, if I recall, involves the use of a rusty tape measure, which IS covered by OHIP. 

Well seeing as vision is rather important to me, and I am employed full time with benefits (lucky me), I opted for the $85 an eye laser measurement. 

Turns out my benefits don't cover the laser measurement either. So I was out $170 that I could ill afford to spend. This equalled several tanks of gas and impacted greatly on my food budget. Oh, and it also sent me to the legalized loan sharks for a pay-day loan at 25% which in turn, caused me to be late in paying my rent which resulted in receiving several nasty letters from the management company that owns my building with the word EVICTION written in bold letters all over them. I figure the bold letters and caps was in consideration of my cataracts. 

Well I finally got caught up and still have a roof over my head. But I now get surly looks from the Super whenever I see who I think is her. But then, with my eyes, it might be just a fire-hydrant with a trollish demeanor that I'm seeing every morning. 

My employer, the local Board of Education, needed a letter from my
Thank goodness the Doctor was willing to provide
that $35 letter. I wouldn't want my employer
thinking I was having THIS done to me just to
get the time off work. 
Surgeon as proof of my need for getting my eyeballs fixed (yeah, like I'm going to volunteer for this procedure unnecessarily) and that I will need so many weeks off for recovery. So I contacted the Doc only to learn that OHIP doesn't cover that kind of thing either and that the Doctor required $35 for providing proof of my impending ordeal. 

I should point out here that the surgeon in question has a very lovely family. There are pictures of he and his brood all over his office, mostly cavorting about on a sailboat on some tropical sea. I can see why he needs the $35. Sailboats don't come cheap. But for me, it was another week and a half of gas to drive back and forth to work and hey, a week without meat in my diet was probably good for me anyway. 

Well then it came time to select the lenses that I would have inserted into my eyes. OHIP DOES cover the bargain basement lenses. I think they're made from old coke bottles. Or, for $70 an eye (that's $140 total for those who may be mathematically challenged) I could select the next rung up which meant I might actually be able to function without glasses or chasing strangers around the block for the first time since I was 15 years old. I should add that the high-end lenses, the ones reserved for the more upwardly mobile and which probably glow in the dark, go for about $1,300 an eye. I chose the $70 implants. 

Well as it turns out, I was in error when I assumed my benefits would cover these next to bargain basement lenses. When I read in their brochure that they would cover "post cataract surgery corrective lenses", they meant a new pair of glasses. 

So it seems that both OHIP and the insurance company are perfectly fine with my having imperfect eyes despite the corrective operation. Perfection so it seems, is reserved for those with the money to pay for it.  

Anyway, it's back to the Shylocks' I go for another pay-day loan to cover for my new lens implants. I should probably inform my corporate landlords that caps and bold lettering will no longer be necessary for any future threatening letters they may choose to send to me. 

I suppose I should be counting my blessings that much of my impending operations are in fact covered by OHIP and that my eyeballs won't get repossessed for non-payment of any hospital bills. But I'm still left with the feeling that there are two distinct tiers of service when it comes to this kind of procedure. The high-end Cadillac of services where those with the money can purchase good eyesight, and the one reserved for the rest of us who, while we may no longer have cloudy lenses, will still be chasing strangers around the block for the rest of our lives. 

But whatever happens to me, I am at least comforted by the warm fuzzy image in my head of the good doctor, sailing off into the sunset once again.