Dispatches from The Swamp – the ‘rant edition’

It’s been a while since I have done a rant post so here goes!

BC RCMP

Why, oh why, do the BC RCMP insist on setting up HOV lane checks on Highway 1 during rush hour? Here is why this is a stupid idea: the mere presence of the RCMP on the highway causes a back up. Seriously, you could just park an unoccupied cruiser on the highway, with no officers in sight, and that highway backs up for miles. I have actually asked them this question, via twitter, and they say they are there because people complain about HOV lane cheaters. I call bullshit. I would like to meet one of these people who would rather sit in traffic for an extra 45 minutes just to have the RCMP nail the cheaters.[1] So here is how I see it – the BC RCMP create the situation that causes people to cheat by going into the HOV lane by creating such a backup that people lose it in frustration. Sounds a helluva lot like entrapment if you ask me. The number of times they are out there during rush hour has increased incredibly. The cynic in me believes that the RCMP know they are going to lose this revenue stream once the new lanes come on line and the new Port Mann is open. Why else would they be doing this so much right now? I have been commuting into Vancouver for 6 years and they only started doing this recently. The other thing that pisses me off about this is all the costs incurred by traffic snarls. Think of the gas (pollution created) burned, the time spent and the overall cost to the economy to have so many people sitting in traffic so they can catch some cheaters. Seriously, BC RCMP stop it now!

My ‘discussion’ on Twitter with @BCRCMP

ATTAWAPISKAT

I am a little late to the party on this one but here goes anyway. So, last winter the feds parachuted in a ‘third-party’ manager into Attawapiskat to deal with the housing crisis. Instead of owning up to their part in the housing crisis there, the feds accused the Band of mismanagement. The Band challenged this decision in court, rightly so. It turns out that the federal government over-reached its authority and, in fact, there was no mismanagement at all. To add insult to injury, the manager appointed by the Harper Conservatives, had been fired by another Band. It is time that Canada steps up and recognizes First Nations as the experts on their lives and needs. We have treated First Nations so abhorrently there is nothing we can do to apologize for residential schools, the robbing of culture and the complete disregard for their right to self-governance. We must pressure our federal politicians to do the right thing. And, as winter quickly approaches, there is still not enough housing in Attawapiskat; people are still living in the treatment centre and substandard housing.

MAYOR JEAN TREMBLAY OF SAGUENAY, QUEBEC

It seems that the Parti Quebecois has made a decision to become secular and remove religious paraphernalia from the Province’s National Assembly. It seems that Monsieur Tremblay is a Catholic and in his little pea brain he believes that Christians have a right to promote express their religion in all aspects of Quebec and Canadian culture. His reasoning is that Canada is a ‘Christian’ country founded on ‘Christian’ beliefs. While he is technically correct that Christianity informs a great deal of our culture, that doesn’t make it right. What is even more disturbing is that he is singling out one PQ candidate: Djemila Benhabib. It seems that Ms. Benhabib[2] had the audacity to support the PQ’s secularist stance and she supports removing the crucifix from the National Assembly. In the year of our whatever 2012, religion has no place in politics. Separation of church and state people. Monsieur Tremblay believes so strongly that he is right that he is appealing a human rights case so that he can continue to recite a Christian prayer to open council meetings. The clip of him speaking with Bernard St. Laurent of the CBC was so racist and dripping with white, male privilege! Because Ms. Benhabib was not born in Canada, he believes she does not have any right to express an opinion on the subject. In his mind, he can’t go to Algeria and assert Christian supremacy so she should just accept Canada’s Christian values. He does say she is free to be a Muslim. Wow, big of him. I am sure she is very relieved that she can practice a religion in Canada!

I am not a big fan of organized religion. It has been used to keep the masses in line. So much has been done in the name of religion that it really boggles the mind. I have studied a fair bit of religious history and honestly I do not see any upside. I believe people can be spiritual but bowing down to an angry, punitive god is not on my agenda. Our society is growing increasingly secular which is a good thing. And don’t forget that Monsieur Tremblay’s brand of Christianity is Catholicism. This is a religion that does not want people thinking for themselves EVER! They are not even allowed to interpret the bible for themselves – they must rely on priests. They believe in transubstantiation whereby the priests can turn wine and bread into the blood and body of Christ.[3] Attendance at mass is down in most of the developed world perhaps due to the sheer number of children abused by pedophile priests, supported by the Vatican. Don’t even get me started on Benedict.

BC WOMAN PUTS DOGS IN CRATES INTO A FIRE IN ALBERTA

This lovely gem is fresh from the news today. I don’t even know what to say. I cannot believe that she and I inhabit the same planet. I don’t believe in capital punishment but if she is convicted of animal cruelty, I would flip the switch myself. I doubt I am alone in this one.


[1] Yes, it is frustrating to see people cheat the HOV system. Personally, I would rather focus on my driving than worry what others are doing.

[2] Commenting on her name on As it Happens last night, Monsieur Tremblay stated that it was ‘unpronounceable.’ Apparently in his world the only names acceptable are ones familiar to him. Privilege run amok here folks.

[3] Hello, critical thinking skills!

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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)  
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Driving Rant

It seems that the heat is doing more than causing people to sweat. Driving behaviour appears to be deteriorating in inverse proportion to the rising heat. This morning I stopped at one of the myriad of 4-way stops on my way to the bridge. I came to a complete stop and just as I was going to go a truck just blows the stop sign and goes. I honk my horn and he gives me the finger. AC Tree Care – you suck!

Then I had to do the merge on to highway 1. There is a very civilized system with alternating green and red lights for the 2 lanes merging into one. Most of the time it works well. Except for today when a truck just blew right through the red light. Where are the police when you need them?

Then there is all the dangerous passing. I had a truck behind me (who was tailgating) and a truck in front of me going rather slow and a bunch of traffic in front of it. I saw no point in trying to pass as both sides were busy and almost equally slow. Apparently the guy driving the Dick’s Lumber truck didn’t see it the same way. He had to get really close to me (and scare the shit out of me) in order to pass and pull in front of the other truck. He didn’t get much further and I passed him on the highway. Dick’s lumber truck guy – you suck too!!!!

We all need to keep in mind that the heat affects us all. Allowing driving habits to deteriorate to a new low is not going to help anyone, it is going to cause accidents and then you will be standing out in the 30 degree heat instead of in your air conditioned vehicle. And if you cause an accident and hit me and I have to stand in 30 degree hit your life will not be worth living. Consider yourselves warned all of you asshole drivers!

Published in: on July 29, 2009 at 11:28 am  Comments (3)  
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