Stephen Harper is Killing Canada – the ‘we only serve some Canadians’ edition

It seems like the Harpercons are on fire recently. Hot on the heels of the demise of Motion 312[1] we have Rob Anders infering that all transwomen are pedophiles. Oh and then the lovely gem from our Minister of Non-Public Safety cancelling all the contracts for non-Christian religious personnel in Canada’s prisons. Yup, if you are white, cisgendered, straight and Christian you will love Harper’s Canada.

Even though Harper pledged that he was not interested in re-opening the abortion debate in Canada, we have a second motion concerning abortion in 2012. Now, either Harper has lost control of his caucus or he is giving these motions his blessing. He knew he would never get his majority if he appeared like a whack-job who wanted to role back reproductive rights to the 1960s. Instead I suspect he mollified his Christian socially backward MPs by telling them they would deal with it one he got his majority. He is trying to do through the backdoor what he couldn’t do through the front door. We need to tell him to shut the fucking door – that it is over and decided and we will not stand idly by while he tries to criminalize control over our bodies. We also cannot let the Liberal Party of Canada off the hook either. They allowed a free vote on this issue rather than enforcing party discipline. Newly minted leadership candidate, Justin Trudeau, tweeted how proud he was of his party’s ‘enlightened’ decision. Someone had better school Justin quickly on women’s issues! The NDP are to be commended, even with their large Quebec, some Catholic for sure, they all voted against the motion. Oh, and last time I checked, it is usually female fetuses aborted in favour of sons. I wonder who is really making that decision?

Now on to the clusterfuck that is Rob Anders. In 1990, I sat behind him and one of his minions in Poli Sci 201 at the University of Calgary. They were not big fans of Professor Dickerson. They were rude and obnoxious. Then there was the incident where threats were posted on the door of the GLASS (Gay, Lesbian Association for Staff and Students) office in Mac Hall. So it is not surprising that Mr. Anders still does not understand anything outside of his sphere of straight[2], white privilege. A private member’s bill, Bill C279, which seeks to amend to amend Canada’s Human Rights Act to include gender identity. It would also add gender identity and gender expression as grounds as areas where hate crime charges could be pursued. Anders has now dubbed this the ‘bathroom bill’ and states that giving men (which transwomen are not) access to women’s bathroom facilities puts children in danger. Anders is an expert at pandering to the lowest common denominator. I have news for Mr. Anders: almost all pedophiles are straight men.

Even worse, Anders also accused current NDP leader Thomas Mulcair of hastening Jack Layton’s death. One doesn’t even know where to begin and nor should we. Harper needs to kick this idiot from caucus. He has no business representing any Canadians. Even when the riding Association tried to replace him as their candidate through a nomination vote, the party intervened and Anders was the Conservative candidate. I am beginning to think that he has something on Stephen Harper. At least Olivia Chow, ever the calm, professional, chose to not react. Good for her.

Next up we have Vic Toews who seems to have decided that all inmates in Canadian federal prisons are Christian. Citing the fact that the military uses non-denominational chaplains, he argues if it is good enough for the military then it is good enough for Corrections Canada. A one-size fits all approach to spirituality, and to be sure it is Christian, gave us things like residential schools. We have all seen how devastated our First Nations people are as a result of losing their culture, language and religion. In fact, great strides have been made with First Nations inmates through elders reintroducing these very important cultural touchstones. First Nations are overrepresented in Canadian prisons, however they are not the only other religious groups represented in Canada’s prison population. What are the Jews, Hindus, and Muslims supposed to do for spiritual guidance? And, if there is ever a time someone needs the support of their religion, it is when they are in prison.

In Harper’s Canada, life is good as long as you can check off certain boxes. If you are a person of colour, a woman, gender-variant, non-Christian, gay or lesbian, you are a second-class citizen. You will not be afforded basic human rights and you will be mocked viciously should you dare to stand up and complain. I fear for my Canada under this regime.

Stephen Harper is Killing Canada: Part One


[1] Although it now has a cousin – a motion to criminalize sex-selective abortion.

[2] Presumably although 40-something unmarried…

Advertisements

Democracy is for Sissies

Is it just me or does it seem that our politicians are ruling via subterfuge? It seems like most government made decisions are one big shell game: ‘quick, look over there, shiny’ while a new tax is shoved down our throats. We can’t even count on them to maintain the integrity of their own values and ethics throughout the course of their time in power. Democracy has become code for bait and switch.

This week in politics in BC, our Premier, Christy Clark, has decided that the culture at the BC Legislature is ‘sick’ and that she tries to stay away from it as much as possible. She likened it to the complaints made about the ‘beltway’ in Washington, DC. These comments, originally made in May, were released when it was announced that the legislature would not sit this fall. Clark clearly has an overblown sense of her importance. To compare BC politics to what happens in Washington, DC is like talking about your acne problem when you have a little zit.[1] All of senior civil servants, you know those people who provide crucial factual information to government politicians, all sit in Victoria. If she is not there, she can’t get all the information to make policy decisions. If her ministers behave as she does, they will also not be getting crucial information with which to make decisions.

Cancelling the fall sitting of the legislature is hubris at its worst. The provincial government just announced that revenues are $1 billion dollars below projections. If the legislature does not sit, then the opposition does not get access to this information to ask questions. I actually think there is a more sinister reason for not having a fall sitting. The timing of this supposed deficit announcement is curious. It is a little more than 6 months before the next election. I predict the BC Liberals will have a feel-good budget delivered in February and the shortfall will become a windfall. Everyone in government will slap each other on the back and congratulate themselves on their uber-financial management skills. They will then start the dog and pony show as they hand out the pre-election goodies. Personally, I am tired of being bought with my own money.

We can’t even count on politicians to stay true to their own beliefs in values. Apparently, once upon a time, Stephen Harper was against omnibus bills yet his government has passed one and has another one planned for the fall. Whoops! There goes your democracy right down the omnibus toilet.

All of this begs a much bigger question: when did democracy become a game of collusion and subterfuge? When did political parties abandon ideology and brokerage politics?[2] I used to think brokerage politics was a horrible development, now I long for those days where you could still tease a little bit of ideology from party platforms. Politics is now a game of confuse the voter, say whatever you need to so you are elected then do whatever the hell you want. Re-election campaigns start right after an election. We used to get a measure of peace in the first 2 years after an election, now the attack ads start almost immediately.

Leadership seems to be something that is missing from all politicians modus operandi. Real leaders build consensus, they answer tough questions and they lay out a vision for the future. We are so short on any kind of vision as everyone is focused on the next election. If you are an effective leader, you don’t have to resort to confusion and downright lies to convince people to follow you. If you want to lead effectively you have to be accountable; people watch your every move; you are a role model. I see no role models amongst the current crop of politicians. Instead they are all focused on maintaining their positions of authority even when they can’t stand to work at their place of employment.

 


[1] Primarily this is due to structural differences. In the US there is no party discipline to speak of so every vote is up for grabs. That means lobbyists are trying to convince 535 people of their position each time there is a vote.

[2] Brokerage politics saw the reduced reliance on ideology for policy decisions. Parties tended to move towards the centre so they had a better chance of getting elected.

Canada and Iran – an oily standoff

Last Friday, the Canadian government severed all diplomatic ties with Iran. Usually when countries take this step there have been increasing tensions and perhaps a series of escalating incidents. One might fairly ask what precipitated this event. The answer is, well, nothing. To be fair, diplomatic relations between Canada and Iran have not been great since the revolution in 1979. Iran has always been a little pissed that Canada smuggled 6 Americans out during the hostage crisis. Factor in the death of Zahra Kazemi and relations have been strained. So the question is why now? Why would we take such a drastic step in the absence of any kind of simmering diplomatic feud?

I have a theory. Stephen Harper is from Calgary. I have blogged before about how American Calgary is in its view of the world. Although born in Toronto, Harper’s education was at the University of Calgary. Particularly in the 1990s, the University of Calgary was a hotbed of a pro-American brand of conservatism.[1] Both the economics and political science departments were rife with these politically motivated students and faculty.[2] Who knows how or why this started; did Calgary create them or did they impact Calgary? Regardless, this is the school of thought that informs our prime minister’s policies.

Now, what does all of this have to do with us severing diplomatic ties with Iran? If you were to listen to Vic Toews[3] you would have heard him say that Iran is the biggest threat to global security.[4] Iran’s threat to global security was no different last Friday than it was the Friday before or the year before that, so why now?

As an historian, I have been trained to look for broad conceptual contexts in which to situate events. When an event does not make sense, historians are trained to tease out what may actually be going on. Given how American Calgary is, I began to think about why Americans might take this kind of action. Pretty much all American foreign policy has to do with money, and it’s compatriot, oil. Iran is a major oil producer and a competitor to Canada. As we all know, Harper and Alberta have been trying to find a way to move Alberta’s bitumen to China. Harper has his eye set on China and moving bitumen there as a means to diversify our exports and take advantage of China’s huge economy. What does all this have to do with Iran? Well, if Harper can isolate Iran even more than it already is or provoke some time of military strike, Iran will be further isolated in the international community. UN sanctions will follow and China will be looking for a new source of oil.

I don’t think my theory is wrong. The drums to war have been beating for quite a while with regard to Iran. While I believe the Iranian regime and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are reprehensible, the rights of sovereign nations are still paramount. Invading Iran because they supposedly have nuclear weapons sounds a whole lot like Iraq having ‘weapons of mass destruction.’  Any action that impacts Iran’s ability to sell its oil on the open market benefits Canada.

As a British Columbian all of this really concerns me. It seems that Harper is willing to squander our hard earned, though somewhat tarnished now, international reputation to sell Alberta’s bitumen. He is also willing to put our province at risk to do it. The Gateway pipeline is almost universally opposed in BC. I fear this pipeline is going to be shoved down our throats whether we want it or not.

The pipeline is not good for Canada. It will ship unprocessed bitumen out of the country leaving us in our familiar ‘hewer of wood, drawer of water’ role. Like lumber, why would we ship this stuff out of the country without processing it and creating more jobs in Canada? I wonder if we might feel better about the pipeline if there was to be a refinery in BC that would process the bitumen before it shipped out to China? The reason we are not doing this is because it would make it more expensive and the Chinese would rather process it there for cheaper. So Harper is willing to sell out Canada to benefit is buddies in the tar sands.[5] Now there’s a surprise.


[1] I was at the U of C at this time as well. Some TAs in the political science department were caught trying to sell Reform Party memberships to undergrads.

[2] Tom Flanagan comes to mind.

[3] Who listens to him anyway?

[4] Clearly if we were to believe Vic we should be severing diplomatic ties with the US, but I digress.

[5] Make no mistake it is the tar sands. It has been called the tar sand for decades. Only recently did some PR schmuk come up with ‘oil sands’ to try to convince people it is not dirty oil. One is not against the tar sands by calling it the tar sands; one is simply being precise.

Stephen Harper is Killing Canada

Seriously. Seriously who voted for these assholes? They certainly didn’t run on a platform of sticking it to seniors, seasonal workers and refugees. Yet that is what is happening. Every day we seem to hear another cut to some social program somewhere. Harper and his cronies are consistently targeting the poor, the old and the stateless all under the guise of fiscal prudence. However, a little analysis will show that these cuts are just plain cruel and the amount of savings is chump change when compared to the size of the overall Canadian Federal budget.

Small ‘c’ conservatism, at its roots, is steeped in Protestant Christian doctrine. Canada, a country founded mostly on Protestant Christianity[1], has deep roots in Calvinism. John Calvin, a French theologian, believed in predetermination. He believed that a person’s fate in the afterlife was predetermined, meaning there was nothing a person could do in their life that would change this outcome. Out of this grew a belief that successful people, those with wealth and power, would be going to heaven. Clearly this cast the poor and the downtrodden as expendable as they had no hope of going to heaven anyway. We see this principle alive and well in Canada today. Even though our society is multicultural and far more secular today these beliefs still inform political ideology. Income supports to help the poor and disenfranchised are almost always the first thing on the chopping block in times of economic uncertainty even though they are a very small part of the overall budget.

Harper has been quite strategic in his cuts to OAS. He has not targeted current recipients or even people 5 years away from claiming OAS. Instead, he has put the age increase for eligibility a full 10 years down the road. This really does not make sense as it is the glut of baby boomers retiring in the next 10 years that will cost the program the most money. Clearly Harper knows that messing with seniors is never a good idea. Current recipients of OAS don’t really care what is going to happen in 10 years and those of us that it will affect are too busy trying to make a living to protest these changes.

This week’s announcement about changes to EI really reflects conservative ideology. The fact that the EI program is well funded by contributions from individuals and working Canadians seems to have escaped him. Other governments have actually taken money from the EI program to help offset other deficits. In the changes announced, Harper and his merry band of con artists is going after seasonal workers. These changes will not affect Harper’s traditional base of support in the western provinces. Instead it will punish those who did not elect Conservatives. By limiting the amount of EI a seasonal (or heavy user as they are now being called) worker can receive will have a huge impact on the local economies where it can least be afforded. Reducing the amount of money in circulation will have huge ripple effects through already depressed areas of the country. These changes will also put more pressure on provincial welfare systems.

Harper’s reason for this change is completely insulting. The federal government is arguing that Canadians are sitting on EI while Tim Horton’s and McDonalds have to bring in temporary foreign workers to staff their outlets. In the ‘new world’ ‘heavy users’ of EI would have to take a job that pays 70% of their normal wages if it is within an hour of their homes. First of all this is going to be so difficult to enforce, in fact I think it will cost more to enforce this edict than the money they will save. Let’s not forget that the EI program is healthy – there is no fiscal reason for these changes. Instead it is about keeping the poor in their place, under the thumb of the federal government.

I have saved the best for last. While the changes to social programs above are draconian, it is the cuts to the refugee health program that are the cruelest. Canada agrees to take about 3000 refugees per year from war torn areas of the world and refugee camps. We transport them here[2], they receive a monthly stipend and health coverage under the Interim Federal Health (IFH) program. We also accept refugee claimants who are also covered by IFH. Through a quiet order-in-council, the Harper government has made deep cuts to this program to save $80 million over 5 years.[3]

Under these changes, which take affect at the end of June, refugees will only be treated for diseases that are a danger to the Canadian public or diseases that make a person a danger to society. If the refugee has tuberculosis they will be diagnosed and treated. A severe mental health issue like psychosis or schizophrenia may be treated if the government believes the refugee could hurt people. If you have diabetes the government may pay for the diagnosis but not the treatment – so no insulin or medication. They will also not provide medical equipment[4] or pay for emergency dental work or medication for depression. Refugees whose claims have been rejected or who are from a Designated Country of Origin[5] will not have any coverage. So if a rejected refugee presents at a hospital with a heart attack they will receive treatment, as the hospital cannot turn them away. The refugee will then be stuck with a huge bill and no way of paying so ultimately the province will be on the hook for the costs.

IFH will not pay for any medication except under the two exemptions of conditions that pose a risk to the Canadian public. In some cases they will pay for the diagnostics and a surgical procedure if it is warranted. One example that was given is that of a refugee who needs to have a stent put in their heart. This would all be paid for but the medication needed like blood thinners or statins would not be covered. This literally makes no sense and, in fact, is counter-intuitive. If you pay for a surgery but not the medication to maintain its efficacy, the patient will be back in hospital for further procedures. Most refugees live in abject poverty for the first couple of years at least and if the choice is medication or feeding the children you can guess where the money is going to go.

My solution to all of this is for the Harper government to cancel a couple of fighter jets. Why do we need fighter jets? We are not at war with anyone except the poor, the disenfranchised and the vulnerable. Our government’s priorities are extremely screwed up. As an individual I feel powerless to do anything to change what is happening. I am only hoping that we have something that still resembles Canada at the end of this government’s mandate. In the meantime you can all expect some long rants.


[1] Except Quebec and some other French-speaking enclaves which are primarily Catholic.

[2] They have to pay the transportation costs back at the end of the first year. For some large families this amounts to a debt of thousands of dollars. Welcome to Canada and your new indebted life.

[3] 80 million sounds like a lot of money unless you put it in perspective. This amounts to $16 million a year on a $6 billion budget. Basically the government is going to go through the couch and gather some change.

[4] Think canes, walkers, and crutches.

[5] Designated Country of Origin – is a country, determined by the Federal Immigration Minister that has a high refusal rate for claims or a country where refugees abandon their claims. Currently Mexico would be such a country. We don’t yet know which countries will be on the list.

Published in: on May 26, 2012 at 11:54 am  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , , , ,

We all need to take a lesson from Quebec Students

Students have been protesting planned increases to tuition for 3 months. It does not seem to matter what the Charest government does the protests come back stronger than before. This is not a surprise to those of us who are familiar with Quebec history. Whether it was the October Crisis, the confrontation at Oka or the power of the sovereignty movement, Quebecers have a long history of effective protest. What makes Quebec stand apart from other provinces is their absolute commitment to social justice and access to education. Quebec has the lowest tuition in the country. If the proposed tuition increases go through, Quebec will still have the lowest tuition in the country. Quebecer students don’t seem to care about the government’s claims – to them, this increase will reduce access to education.

Canada has never been a country to sustain any kind of long-term protests seen in other countries. We seem to just take what the government dishes out and retreat to our indebted homes to lick our wounds. Very rarely is public outrage translated into political action. One recent exception was the HST petition that succeeded in causing a referendum. I doubt it would have been so successful if it were not for the polarizing influence of Bill Vander Zalm.

Our current political climate is cruel and very negative. The Harper Conservatives keep lobbing cut after cut after cut at us and like good little Canadians we take it and hope that someone, somewhere will fix it. It started with extending the age of eligibility of OAS.[1] Since then we have seen medical insurance for refugees being cut[2] and now being told that we have to be prepared to take any job if we happen to need EI. The Conservatives are eroding, even further, what differentiates Canada from other countries.

I am sure that no one who voted for Harper saw all this shit coming. But it is so predictable. He is a social conservative. He believes that everyone just needs to work harder and they will have everything they need. We know this is not true. People do not languish on EI or welfare because they want to. No one wants the state to pay their way if they have an option. I am afraid that the Canada we get back when he is done is going to look nothing like the Canada of today. This makes me very sad and not very hopeful for the future. I only hope that our youth take a page from the Quebec students who will not back down. We need that kind of commitment to save Canada now.


[1] Which will not be felt immediately. Instead, it will hit my generation.

[2] Refugees will only receive treatment for conditions that are a threat to public safety (i.e. TB) or if they are not treated the person may be a danger to the public (i.e. severe mental health issues). Need a cane, forget it! A life-saving medication like insulin – not going to happen in Harper/Kenney’s Canada!

Opening up the Abortion Debate in Canada

Well, sadly, it would seem that I was prescient when I wrote Reproductive Rights Discourse on March 18, 2012. In this post, I explored how Canada is affected by political discourse coming out of the United States. In the last 2 years, there has been an assault of biblical proportions on not only abortion but also contraception in the US. Even though Stephen Harper has said he is not interested in opening up the abortion debate he seems willing to let his backbencher Stephen Woodworth do it for him.

Motion 312, put forward by Woodworth, seeks to change the definition of when a fetus becomes a child. Referencing Subsection 223(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada, a fetus becomes a human being once it is born. Woodworth is asking the following questions:

  1. what medical evidence exists to demonstrate that a child is or is not a human being before the moment of complete birth?
  2. is the preponderance of medical evidence consistent with the declaration in Subsection 223(1) that a child is only a human being at the moment of complete birth?
  3. what are the legal impact and consequences of Subsection 223(1) on the fundamental human rights of a child before the moment of complete birth?
  4. what are the options available to Parliament in the exercise of its legislative authority in accordance with the Constitution and decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada to affirm, amend, or replace Subsection 223(1)?

The questions Woodworth is seeking to answer in Motion 312 would fundamentally change how abortion is viewed and provided in Canada. If passed, this motion could mandate all sorts of restrictions on access to abortion.

Now, one might want to ask why Stephen Harper has allowed this motion to go forward. There is no way that Harper the Control Freak would allow anything to go forward without his approval. So even though he says he does not want the abortion debate opened he is allowing just that to happen. He says he will vote against the motion but what does that really mean? By allowing this motion to move forward he is adding to the discourse that seeks to impose severe limitations on a woman’s right to choose. And, as students of discourse theory know, the more we talk about something the more powerful the discourse becomes and before we know it trans-vaginal ultrasounds are the norm prior to abortions in Canada.

Now, lest you think it is only the Conservative party of Canada who is seeking to oppress women let’s take a look at the Liberal Party of Canada. Justin Trudeau has been tweeting, quite proudly, that the LPC will have a free vote on this issue. That’s right folks, the LPC is also prepared to allow their MPs to vote their ‘conscience.’ This pisses me off. A quick scan through the list of MPs indicates 5 of 35 Liberals elected to Parliament are women. When Liberal MPs are allowed to vote their ‘conscience’ 30 men will get to have a say on what women do with their bodies. This is an excellent example of why the LPC is doing so badly in Canada: there is no leadership, no ideology to which people can adhere. It is in these really tough decisions that leadership makes a difference. Bob Rae has an opportunity to show he can lead. Sadly, I think we will all be disappointed.

What I find even more disturbing is the lack of leadership from Justin Trudeau. This is a man who grew up in a political house with one of the best leaders Canada has ever had.[1] He should understand how important ideology is to politics. Did he not learn lessons from his father? He is also of a younger generation than Bob Rae. This does not bode well his future in politics.

Now onto the NDP; Nikki Ashton announced “In Canada, in 2012, a woman’s right to choose is not up for negotiation.’ She confirmed that the NDP would vote unanimously against the motion. Don’t forget that the NDP now has over a hundred members from Quebec where Catholicism still runs deep. Tom Mulcair, unlike the wimpy Rae and Harper, is not allowing his MPs to a free vote. He understands that to do so would be to muddy waters about the real issue, which is safe access to abortion for all Canadian women.

Living in a society where men are the overwhelming decision makers about women’s access to reproductive choice is so incredibly disturbing. This makes it clear that women are still second-class citizens in this country. When men are able to carry a child to term, then perhaps they can have a say. Until then they have no right to force their or their god’s[2] will on women.


[1] I can never decide who was the best leader: Trudeau or Chretien.

[2] Don’t forget, most people who are anti-choice are doing it because of religious doctrine.

Dispatches from The Swamp – the ‘Bella’ edition

Bella with her Lion Cut - which she loved!

  • We lost Bella this past week. She had a hyper-thyroid and cancer. She had been doing really well – eating, using her litter box, being very affectionate until last Monday when she just stopped everything. We took her to the vet right away. I thought perhaps her thyroid meds were suppressing her thyroid too much but I was wrong. Her abdominal mass was huge and she was done having fun. We let her go right there and then. She was a great cat. It took a great cat to live with up to 11 dogs at a time. She ruled the roost from wherever she chose to hang out. She used to love to whack the dogs as they went by. She was 16 and had been with us for 11 years. We will miss you Bells. You were definitely a one of a kind cat.
  • It is no secret that I am not a fan of the robocall. I once tweeted that I would not vote for any of the leadership candidates who robocalled me and got into with a Thomas Mulcair supporter. Ironically, I think that is the one campaign I have not had a robocall from. Now, it would seem, that it is actually the Conservatives who have figured out the best use for robocalls by using them to divert voters who didn’t support them in the last election to phony polling stations. All I can say is that there best be a serious investigation into this scandal. Maybe we should call it ‘robogate’ or ‘callgate’. Here is Rick Mercer’s take on it:
  • Now that I have some genetic information from finding my biological parents my doctor has put me on medication for high blood pressure. I had been avoiding this but not anymore.
  • This week I am having the last of my dental work done. I will no longer have any amalgam fillings! Plus my teeth have never looked or felt better. I have no pain anywhere. I love my new dentist along with the sedation option for major work. I could not have had my bottom teeth fixed without it. What a difference it makes to your self-esteem when your teeth look good!
  • Deb and I are going out with Kasandra for dinner next week. I finally called after waiting about 3 weeks. When she answered the phone she said she had planned to call me that evening. I am still unsure where this will end up. I hope we end up having a great relationship – one that I thought would be there by virtue of the fact that she is my biological mother. I was wrong, apparently. I have not seen Gary since our first meeting and his wife, Martha, keeps putting me off via email. Oh well. I don’t think I have a lot in common with them anyway. I really want to meet the brothers at some point but I am happy to wait.
  • I have been feeling pretty good the last couple of weeks. Although I do have an issue when I have to work 5 days in a row. I also seem to really suffer if I don’t have 3 days in a row at home. This week will be short and I am happy for that.
  • We started watching Downton Abbey yesterday. It is great! I recommend watching it with the Wikipedia article open so that you can figure out who’s who in the zoo! I have to say that Maggie Smith is one of the best actors I have ever seen. She can convey so much with just a look on her face. Amazing.

Rant of the Day

I haven’t ranted for a while so here goes! I apologize in advance that most of it is traffic related. I will say that on days I am stressed

  • Truckers are assholes. Seriously. It is a nightmare on the MaryHill Bypass. They take up both lanes and drive in tandem. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, there are 50 cars behind them with drivers becoming increasingly frustrated. Seriously there should be a law against this as this is what causes some of the infamous backups on our roads.
  • My next thing is about people who pull out in front of you without gauging how fast traffic is going. I was on 128th ave, which is on the back way out of Maple Ridge, and a car just turned left right in front of me. I had to whale on the brakes so that I didn’t hit him and when I honked he gave me the finger. I don’t understand how or why some people are allowed to drive.
  • The other thing I must rant about is about Harper’s plan to spend lots of money on the war of 1812. Why on fucking earth we need to rub it in to the Americans that we won is unclear. What is even more unclear is why we need to spend millions of dollars doing it when we have a budget deficit. It makes absolutely no sense. What is interesting is that while Conservatives preach fiscal restraint, historically it is Conservative governments that ring up the biggest deficits. In this case, Harper is following Mulroney in fine form. Harper needs to give his head his shake and stop the waste.
Published in: on October 12, 2011 at 7:40 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: ,

The Meaning of a Word

Today the Government of Canada has decided to add the word ‘royal’ back in to the official names of the Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Navy. The word Royal was removed in 1968 when the Canadian Forces were amalgamated. The 1960s was also a time in Canadian history when we were trying to move away from our British ties. It was a time of Canadian pride and a change in direction. Canada was starting to align ourselves more with the United States as they began to eclipse Britain as our major trading partner.

Of course this change has garnered both positive and negative resposnes. Those in favour, generally monarchists, love the return of the word ‘royal’ to our Airforce and Navy. They support the monarchy and love anything that expresses our relationship to it. The detractors think we should keep the ‘royal’ out of our armed forces. It is not like the monarchy helps to pay the expenses associated with our military. Peter McKay states the change was made to align us with our Commonwealth countries who have ‘royal’ in their names. I think he is grasping at straws. I think the name change definitely tells us something important and may even be a predictor of things to come with the Harper government.

I really don’t care if we have the word ‘royal’ in front of the names of the various branches of our military. Even before Peter MacKay adding it back in we still had references to royalty for example, ‘Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry’. The fact is we live in a constitutional monarchy and our head of state is the Queen’s representative in Canada. We have the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet what does it matter if our military has ‘royal’ in the name.

Returning to the past is something conservatives[1] value. They believe that the values of the past are superior to current values. Conservatism, by nature, is a reactionary political belief system. One thing we can expect for sure is very little to no progression on social issues. What will be interesting to see is if they begin to attack and roll back some of the progress the LGTB community has made. I can’t imagine they would try to roll back same-sex marriage. However, they may try to convert our marriages to civil unions or some other name. They won’t be able to take away the legal privileges we have as married couples but they may take the word away from us. After all, if they can add a word why can’t they take one away?


[1] In this I mean small-c conservative. Conservatism is defined by Wikipedia as: is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism and seek a return to the way things were.

Published in: on August 16, 2011 at 7:21 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags:

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘Goodbye Clio’ edition

  • Today we said goodbye Clio. I still remember the day she came to us. She was blind, confused, starved and semi-feral. She had been thrown from a car in a bag and a Good Samaritan pick her up and dropped her at the Vancouver Animal Shelter. She came home with Deb as a foster. Being a historian and all, I decided to name her after the Greek muse of history. Deb hated that name, but it suited her. As fosters go, everyone knows how often we fail. After 2 years, Clio was completely bonded to me and was just beginning to explore relationships with other humans. I could not let her go and make her do that all over again. So she stayed with us. Nothing was ever easy for Clio – her legs were malformed[1], as were her teeth. She loved to eat though. She was always persistent in getting what she wanted. I used to call her my little ‘pez dispenser dog’ because she would pop up, I would put food in her mouth and she would go down. Clio was often a target for other dogs because she didn’t move right. We were always making sure that the ‘abusive dogs to her dogs’[2] were separated so that she did not get hurt. Clio did everything on her terms. We have all pretty much been bitten for trying to clean her up – which she hated. This was a dog who despised being groomed. She was difficult to cuddle with because she had a hard time relaxing. Once she did relax, she was the best cuddler ever. Rest easy baby girl. You were loved.
  • So I have had a little more time with Lion and I found some other things I really love! In Lion, you can shut down your Mac with apps and windows open and when it restarts everything is as it was. I have to say one of the things I hated most about my Mac was closing down apps. I often have many open and it would take forever! This feature is great especially when you have to do a software update – you can just let it go and it will be as you had it when it is done updating. This is a sweet, sweet feature. With mission control and an app launcher like Launchbar, I could see at time when the dock could become redundant. It is much quicker to open apps with Launchbar and easier to switch with mission control. Oh and I did have to revert back to the normal scrolling way. While the change makes sense, I have been on computers far too long to make that kind of change.
  • One more thing! Rob Anders[3]! Talk about a loose cannon! Yesterday he gave a speech announcing a new housing project. He went on to say that as he gave the speech he was going to interject his own phrase whenever the bureaucrats wrote something he was not comfortable saying. What he did was give his support to Alberta PC Leadership candidate Ted Morton. It was completely inappropriate for Anders to use his position as MP, while on government business to endorse someone in another race. Having been in parliament as pretty much his only career you would think he would know this bit of information!

 


[1] We fixed one leg but it was extremely painful for her. The other leg was not great but no vet ever recommended fixing it – even when we asked. She was able to weight bare so it was ok.

[2] Mackenzie and then Zoe.

[3] He voted against giving Nelson Mandela honourary Canadian citizenship. Seriously, who does that?