Completely out of touch

So apparently one of the candidates for the presidency of the Liberal Party of Canada says that they need to bring in new ideas. In particular, Mike Crawley thinks we should debate the role of the Monarchy in Canada. Is this the best they’ve got? Because, if so, we are completely and utterly in trouble. If the Liberals cannot rebuild their party we will be stuck with some brand of a Stephen Harper government for the foreseeable future.

I have a few suggestions for the LPC if they can’t think of new ideas:

  • Re-assess the relationship between the government and the governed. Our first-past-the-post system is broken. We need a much more representative government with some mechanisms to make our voices heard in between elections.
  • They must engage youth. If the LPC were smart they would tap into the energy of the Occupy Movement in Canada. They need to harness and organize the movement’s ideas and use some of their methods. If the Occupiers feel valued and listened to by the LPC they will gain a whole new constituency.
  • The must look at the relationship between corporations and consumers and corporations and their employees. There needs to be some serious discussion about consumer rights and corporations being held accountable. Similarly, corporations must be regulated when it comes to how they treat their employees. The situation at the Caterpillar plant should be high on the government’s agenda.
  • As a country we must pledge to stop filling the DTES with new souls. Every child must be given a minimum standard of living and access to opportunity. We must eradicate poverty and invest heavily in child development programs. Finally, we must value stay-at-home parents. It has been proven time and time again that children who are stimulated intellectually by a parent at home have much better outcomes.

As for the Monarchy, who really cares? Besides the odd Royal Visit and the need for extra security it really does not cost as that much. In fact, given the last couple of Royal visits, it would seem that the Monarchy is more popular than ever.

Why we need a new social contract

Over the past three decades we have seen the decimation of the social contract between us, the governed, and our collective governments. As pursuing profit at all costs has become the new religion, our governments have breached their responsibility to us. Continued privatization and deregulation has opened up more ways for corporations to rob us at every turn. Whether it is as a consumer or an employee, the social contract is gone.

Take the latest example of corporate greed. Caterpillar, a company that makes billions in profits, has locked out its employees in London, Ontario. Caterpillar wants to reduce wages by over 50%, add co-pays to benefits and force employees to pay 25% of the cost. It has been common for manufacturers to ask employees to take a pay cut but 50% is unheard of. It is not like this company is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Apparently, Caterpillar has a reputation of extracting concessions from its workers by waiting out their unionized employees until they are desperate.

Where is the intervention of the federal government? How come at the whiff of a labour dispute at Air Canada had Lisa Raitt running to the Industrial Relations Board? Where is she on this one? This is union-busting at its finest and clearly the Harper government couldn’t care less. Why is it ok to force a 50% compensation reduction on a group of legally unionized workers? Surely if a company does not have monetary pressures to demand these concessions, it ought to be illegal.

If the government(s) can’t protect us what are we to do? Clearly there is something seriously wrong with our system. It is time that people wake up and withdraw their consent to be governed. Once again, the Occupiers have it right.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘I can’t believe it’ edition

  • Clearly I have failed at NaBloPoMo this year. I have been finding crocheting in the evening much more relaxing than blogging. In fact, I am almost reaching a meditative state in the repetition of stitches and counting to ten. It is a good thing. Although I am a little concerned about the afghan I am attempting to finish my mom. I am worried it is going to shed for quite some time after I give it to her. It seems to be a magnet for pug hair!
  • I am not to sure wtf is up with the Christy Clark government and not funding the HEAT shelters this year. Apparently, according to Rich Coleman, the minister (ir)responsible argues that enough social housing units have been created that the HEAT shelters are no longer needed. What a load of political BS. He is delusional. The only reason there may be been fewer visible homeless on Vancouver’s streets is because some of them were camping out at Occupy Vancouver. Now that OV has packed up from the art gallery lawn it will be interesting to see what happens. As well, just because some of the homeless have been housed doesn’t necessarily mean there are fewer numbers. With gentrification and the lack of resources to keep hard to house people housed the numbers of homeless people increase all the time. There are still plenty of people losing their homes.
  • With the recent loss of Molly we now have no incontinent dogs in our house for the first time in about 10 years. Clio was never reliably toilet trained and often had accidents. Zoe has had accidents as well however if we consistently put her out 4 times a day she is unlikely to pee in the house. Deb went to mop something up the other day and the bucket was actually dry! I am thinking we will no longer need to have full mop buckets in 2 locations in the house.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘saner heads are prevailing’ edition

  • It seems like the judge presiding over the City of Vancouver’s application for an injunction to end the Occupy Vancouver protest. Addressing the City’s safety concerns while still maintaining the protestors right to protest.
  • We are still under plumbing construction. The driveway is still a mess. We are waiting for the engineer apparently.
  • I am in way too much pain to write much more today. Catch you all tomorrow!

Police Violence at Occupy Vancouver

First off, I am going to apologize for my singular focus of late. However, I am extremely concerned about what it is happening at the Occupy Vancouver protest. Specifically, the abuse of authority and the wanton disregard for civil and democratic rights to free speech are making me ashamed to be Canadian. Regardless of who is doing it, people have the right to assemble and protest. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not say people can assemble as long as there are no propane heaters.

The violence last night was completely unacceptable. Perhaps they shouldn’t have lit a ‘sacred fire.’ However, the overreaction belongs solely to the VPD. I think they are determined to make sure there is not another riot but there actions are actually setting the stage for a riot.

The City of Vancouver needs to back off its plan to dismantle the camp. The more they push the issue, the more public opinion is going to turn against them. If they are concerned about liability, they could have the occupiers sign releases and let them govern themselves.

Change in language alters opinions: Lessons in discourse from the Occupy Movement

I noticed there was a change in the language as it relates to the Occupy Vancouver protest today. Up until now the individuals at the site had been referred to as ‘protesters’ or ‘occupiers.’ Today the language shifted to now refer to them as ‘campers.’ Calling them campers completely undermines their purpose in protesting and occupying in the various cities.

Since the death of Occupier Ashley over the weekend the City of Vancouver has completely changed their message and tone. On Friday Robertson said that they had no intention of moving against the Occupiers. While they were citing some safety concerns identified by the fire department they were prepared to work with them to clean up the site. Now Robertson is talking about severe ‘life safety’ issues at the site. When he was on CBC’s afternoon show ‘On the Coast’ this afternoon, Stephen Quinn pointed out that the encampment is not much different now than it was at the beginning and that he did not really understand why they had such an issue with the protest now. Robertson had no real answer except to claim those ‘life safety’ issues again.

The city is being even cagier about this protest. In light of the municipal election, Vision Vancouver does not want to be seen as being against the issues the Occupiers are raising. After all, Vision Vancouver is really trying to court that left of centre vote. So Gregor, as mayor, ends up talking out of both sides of his month. On the one hand he is saying the ‘campers’ have to go and then he says that the city will make a stage and PA system available for the protestors to continue the movement. What Gregor Robertson doesn’t get is that he cannot have it both ways. If he moves to clear out the Occupiers he most certainly lose votes.

Clearly the Occupy movement is about much more than camping. However, the act of occupying public space is fundamental to the movement. If they are to make progress on their issues they must be in public space. What the Occupy movement must do is craft the message; they must be in control of the language or they risk having their mission degraded by others.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘is there a funny movie out there?’ edition

  • I love Steve Carrel. However, I seem unable to find a funny movie he is in except for Little Miss Sunshine. Seriously, I have rented several of his movies lately and none of them have been remotely funny. What is up with this? Does anyone have a recommendation for a funny movie that does not rely on misogyny or toilet humour?
  • The death of Occupier Ashley yesterday at Occupy Vancouver is very sad. However, I think it is disingenuous of the City to now say the encampment must go. Drug overdoses and fatalities as they go are normal for Vancouver. Ashley died in a tent rather than a back alley. What the Occupy Vancouver movement must do is set up a supervised drug using area to minimize the risks of drug use. Trying to force the protestors out is going to result in violence.
  • I have often wondered what it is about Vancouver that causes everything to be taken to an extreme. There are Occupy encampments in countless cities yet the only one (that I am aware of) to have a death is Vancouver. It seems that the most bizarre things happen in Vancouver.

Why the Occupy Everywhere Movement might just work

The Occupy Everywhere movement seems to be gaining a lot of strength as the weeks of occupation go on. This week has seen various demands made of Occupy Vancouver protesters to clean up the camp and remove tarps that the fire department has determined are a hazard to first responders. I find it interesting that the Occupy Vancouver protesters have declared the lawn of the Vancouver Art Gallery is an autonomous zone wherein they will not recognize the authority of government officials. They have decided they will allow government officials to ‘advise’ them only if they go through the proper protocols.[1] Apparently the General Assembly (GA) has ‘consensed’[2] on this issue.

The movement is an interesting protest concept. By bringing together environmentalists, social activists, legal activists, and anti-globalization protesters the movement may actually have a chance at succeeding on some levels. If the movement is to be successful at any level they must continue long enough to substantially change the discourse. Educating the public about the issues must begin to inform politics at every level. The issues span all three levels of government. Substantive change will occur once political parties and candidates see value[3] in the protesters’ ideas.

We are seeing the effects of the Occupy movement on the civic election campaign in Vancouver. Lines have been drawn between the main mayoralty candidates incumbent Gregor Robertson and Suzanne Anton. Anton attempted to have the Occupiers given a deadline to de-camp that did not gain any traction at Vancouver City Council. Robertson actually has it correct on this issue – he realizes that bringing down the power of the City to remove the tent city will not work. Further there will be violence and the movement will gain more traction with larger tent cities springing up. I do worry about what might happen if Suzanne Anton wins the election.

Here is an excerpt from the Occupy Vancouver movement explaining why they are occupying:

Occupy Vancouver, in solidarity with other city occupations, has come together to transform the unequal, unfair, and growing disparity in the distribution of power and wealth in our city and around the globe. We challenge corporate greed, corruption, and the collusion between corporate power and government, and oppose systemic inequality, militarization, environmental destruction and the erosion of civil liberties and human rights. We seek economic security, genuine equality, and the protection of the environment for all.


[1] Apparently they must approach the committee that makes suggestions for the agenda at the daily ‘General Assembly’ where they may be assigned a time slot on the agenda.

[2] ‘Consensed’ is a neologism meaning that the group has reached consensus.

[3] Value in the political sense means that political parties see making these changes as a means to gain political power.