A Canadian's perspective on domestic and international issues. Independent coverage of Canadian federal, provincial and municipal elections and anything of interest in Canada.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Politics Is US!

While I know a number of you have probably totally tuned out politics, and with the nasty blood sport it seems to have become, its difficult to blame you.
However, there is a worldwide crisis with democratic process brewing, and the longer we ignore it, the worse its going to become.
Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, politics plays an integral part in every waking hour of our lives. It determines where we live, how much we pay to live, what we eat and how much we pay for it. Politics determines where our kids go to school, what they learn there, what it costs to send them there, and how they develop while they are there. It determines the quality of the world we live in, where we can go, what we can do, and whether our world survives. Our incomes, what we do to get by, how we think, who we know, and how our lives unfold, are all contingent, at least in part, on the political structure around us.
We can no more ignore politics than we can afford to forget to breathe, eat and sleep!
In Canada, we have become complacent about the elephant in our room. Half of us have tuned it right out, or so we think! But we can no more tune it out, than we can forget to clean up after ourselves, before we are overrun with problems.
Last year at this time, five days after promising he would do no such thing, our Prime Minister suspended our parliament! Those who recognized the threat in that move, immediately hit the streets, using modern technology to organize. Despite how it was portrayed in the press, this was Canadian people reacting to a very serious assault on our democratic process. We had a Prime Minister suspending democratic process without the support of the people! He claimed he had the “confidence of the house” but this PM has never had any such thing!
Later in the year, we watched as both the UK and Australia faced similar circumstances to ours, where no one party achieved enough seats to govern. But what happened in both the UK and Aus, was totally different than what happened here. In the UK and Aus, the parties were forced to sit down together and work our a deal. If they hadn’t, there would have been rioting in the streets. In Canada however, we just sat by while one politician and his party decided to try to govern without enough seats to pass legislation, and we let him! In the UK and Aus, where people take such matters seriously, the people forced their leaders to find compromise, cooperation and consensus. The end result, in our sister countries, the governments have been forced into a position where they have to enact legislation according to the will of the majority. On the other hand, here in Canada, by our own inaction, we are left with a government that has been given permission to force the will of a minority onto the majority!
As a result, we have a government decreeing people can’t be helped, and international aid agencies can’t get help from Canada, if the aid agencies have in anyway encouraged, participated in, or even appeared to condone abortion. Since when do Canadians refuse to help people in need based on the agency providing that help having contributed to a medical procedure that is perfectly legal in Canada?
We also had our government, in the middle of a recession and perhaps the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, shut down all business of the House for an Olympic games! That’s only happened once before in modern history. In Germany in the mid 1930s! And the person who did it went on the become one of the greatest mass murderers and tyrants in history! His name was Hitler!
Then we had our government, again in the middle of an economic crisis, guarantee over a billion dollars in our money to security for those Olympic games. Security, at least in part, that was used to hassle peaceful demonstrators while a gang of thugs in hoodies and face masks were allowed to vandalize a good portion of downtown Vancouver with impunity!
Six months later, the same thing happened again, only this time with a far more dire outcome. Over a billion dollars was spent, and secret laws enacted, to prevent the people of Toronto, and Canada, from demonstrating, or even watching others demonstrate! We had policemen threatening young people for blowing bubbles. We had police, with badges and other identification removed, violently attacking people who were merely watching what was going on! There were police cars inexplicably left unattended, with all their weaponry mysteriously removed beforehand, in the middle of demonstrations! People were detained, threatened, abused, and otherwise mistreated for simply being on the streets of the city where they live! And sadly, in the months after, we were lied to by both police and the government about what went on! Actions were covered up, charges dropped, and a cloak of secrecy lowered! And still, the vast majority of Canadian people said nothing!
All the while this was going on, we had a government in Ottawa totally breaking almost every promise it made to the Canadian people in order to get elected. Thousands of seniors were duped of their life savings when the Harper government changed its tune on Income Trusts. Then, as major corporations faltered, or claimed to falter, under the weight of economic hardship, the government rushed to help those companies protect their assets, while allowing the pension plans of those companies’ workers’ to be foreclosed upon, or otherwise extinguished!
What’s more, in the midst of all this, after being told we’d be out of Afghanistan by 2012, the government, with the help of the other major party, backtracked on that promise! In the middle of the worst economic crisis in our history, when people are losing their jobs and homes, and there is apparently no money available to help them, we are told we can continue to pour billions of dollars into the armed occupation of a country where most independent observers, and history itself, say we don’t have a chance of succeeding!
And while all this was going on, our government was busy committing $18 billion to new fighter jets, under the auspices of homeland protection. Jets, which by the way, are being built for assault purposes, not defense!
Perhaps even worse, and more threatening, while all this was going on, our PM, who does not have the support of the Majority of Canadians or Parliament, was busy using technicalities to stack our Senate with like minded appointees, for no other purpose than insuring his partisan agenda will meet little opposition when it comes to passing bills through that chamber! And he’s doing it after assuring the Canadian people that he would not appoint senators, or engage in the very patronage practices, he railed against the former government for years about!
This is “more threatening” because it undermines the balance of power in Ottawa. Our Senate, which is supposed to be a chamber of “sober second thought” is being turned into a rubber stamp factory, where anything the current government wants will be passed without any sort of second thought, sober or otherwise!
All this, and I’ve not even begun to touch on changes being made to our national healthcare system, which has begun to allow for-profit clinics, creating a secondary health care system that caters to rich, while receiving funding from those of us who cannot afford such convenience!
What’s more, this same government, which does not have the support of the majority of Canadians, has embarked on a behind the scenes attempt to raise taxes on goods and services! An act that has resulted in rising prices for goods and services, while the average Canadian is having trouble meeting their bills! Yet, this same government, in cooperation with the Provincial governments, continues to extend tax breaks to the richest top ten percent of people and corporations, claiming those breaks will result in breaks for the working people, but belied by the fact those same companies and people are raising their prices to the consumer, not lowering them!
In the end, we are being transformed from a democracy, where the people have the power, to an oligarchy, where the few dictate to the many!
And yet, Canadians are busy, working, paying bills, trying to enjoy their limited leisure time, and doing their best to ignore the elephant in the room, which is stripping them of that leisure time, making them work harder, fret more, and stress more over the difficulties they are experiencing.
Moreover, the same government and people who are behind the mess, are being given free run because the people who are too stressed, are buying into the plan. While government and politicians turn our national debate into a schoolyard brawl, complete with personal attacks, character assassinations, name calling, smear campaigns, the people are looking at it and saying to themselves: “What nonsense, I don’t want anything to do with this crap!” And so they are disengaging, the end result of which, is to remove any opposition, feeding right into the government plan. A plan that, at its core, is to keep the people so preoccupied and tuned out, they offer no resistance as their rights and benefits are stripped away!
We come to perhaps the greatest threat of all. The threat to our planet, to the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat! Everyday we see how our environment is changing: more pollution, weird weather, less green space, less clean water, erratic seasonal changes and the like. Yet we have a national government that basically denies there is a problem, and when they do recognize it, feebly tell us we must follow the “American lead” on these matters. We’re basically being told we have to follow the lead of a country that has one of the worst environmental records in the world, and is contributing far more to its destruction than most! It’s a stark contrast to the Canada of a generation ago that was out to be world leaders in such things a global science, environmental protection, and preservation!
Then again, this whole situation a far cry from the Canada of a generation ago who were out to be world leaders in word peace, science, healthcare, education, quality of life, leisure, diplomacy and democratic process!
I’m not telling anyone anything new here. We all know what’s going on. One thing I can say about Canadians is, we’re not stupid. We know! But we’ve become apathetic! We’ve become soft! We’ve become pushovers! We’re letting the bullies, the small but very vocal and vicious Minority, have their way simply because we don’t want to become embroiled in the battl!. Instead of challenging the abuser, we’re letting the abuser take us hostage! We’ve, collectively, become the residents of small town Europe who, in the days of Fascism, said nothing when the brown shirts came for their neighbours, for their crops, for their homes, and who, in end, had no one to turn to when the brown shirts came knocking at their door! We’ve taken on the mantra of “its none of my business and does not affect me personally”, or “I’m only doing my job and taking care of my own business”. And that my friends, was the same mantra US soldiers heard when they interviewed the residents of towns like Auswitch after World War II, and asked those residents why they’d allowed the tragedy to unfold on their doorsteps!
We as Canadians are losing our democracy, and it ain’t because of our politicians and our weak leaders! Its because we ourselves are allowing it to happen! Its because we ourselves can’t be bothered to wade into the fray and say, “enough is enough, I want this to stop now!” Its because we’ve allowed ourselves to be distracted by all the name calling, personal attacks, character assassination, and the twisting of our national debate into some sort of personality conflict we don’t want to get involved in! And its in no small part because, instead of taking the time to really look at the situation, break it down, and see what is at its core, we choose instead to disengage! Its because at least half of us aren’t even bothering to show up at the polls and exercise our democratic responsibility! Its because we’ve allowed ourselves to become so preoccupied with our own little corners of the world and we can’t be bothered to step outside and look at the bigger picture!
I’m not trying to tell you how to vote, how to live, or what to do. But I will say these few things.
Generations of our families either fought and died fighting against, or fled, tyranny to come to Canada. They did this so you and I could lead free, happy, abundant and fruitful lives. They did not hide in their homes as the world around them fell to pieces! They did not capitulate! They reached out, took a stand, and made a difference! We are beholden to them, and to our children’s, children’s children to follow their example! Our forefathers and mothers gave us Canada, and it up to us to give Canada to our kids!
If an election is held and no one votes, we end up with tyranny. And if we end up with tyranny, there will be no Canada for our children and their children!
Inform yourself, educate yourself, participate! Step beyond the name calling, the smears, the lies, the deceit! Look at the issues! Learn about the parties and what they represent! Meet the people who are running for office! Engage your community and your democracy! Let your conscience by your guide! But most of all: Lead by example and make a difference!
Either that, or turtle, put your head between your legs and kiss you ass goodbye, because life without the freedom to live it is no life at all!!!

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