Sunday October 19 , 2014

Archive for December, 2012

Make-Up Merry Go ‘Round

This is a multi purpose entry to comment somewhat abstractly (i.e. wildly and without any basis in fact) on entries at Dr. Dawg’s place, sexism in politics, and Antonia Zerbisias’ Facebook page, women earning more money than men, and various and sundry articles penned about Stephen Harper over the weekend, including one on a website I read but won’t name because I’m persnickety.

I like to think we share the same reader(s), but even if we don’t, everybody knows who everybody else is on the internet, right?

Right.

First up, I won’t play along with the argument that Stephen Harper is a successful long term political strategist who will win re-election in 2015, that his goal is to destroy the Liberal Party of Canada, or that he wants to make the country over in his Conservative image.

That’s because the argument denies what we know, which is that Stephen Harper is the public face to an organization that cheated so massively in the last election that it actually got caught.

In Canada, yet.

The Conservative Party, supposedly created by Stephen Harper, is a known corrupt organization and it’s only a matter of months before even the thickest of its lay supporters stop funding its fine payments and court challenges against Canadians in search of justice.

Stephen Harper is incompetent, he’s corrupt, and he’s a cheater. He’s also not conservative by any stretch of the imagination. He comes to us, obviously, bought and paid for by the monied interests behind the development of Alberta’s tar sands.

It’s not rocket science, it’s a Canadian fact.

The New Democrats will form the next government because they’re right for the times we live in now. In spite of an avalanche of naysaying by pundits in the employ of other parties, both here and south of the border, middle-class Canadians will step up and vote for sister and brother citizens who understand that business as usual is not an option. Because unlike when Liberal governments did business as usual, and even Mulroney’s Conservative government did business as usual, business as usual isn’t working for more people than it is (edited for clarity, if you can believe it). Business as usual isn’t working for anybody who isn’t a tar sands developer.

And I’m not even sure business as usual is working for anybody who is (again, edited for clarity, if yadda yadda blah blah).

Also, Canada needs a leader, which Stephen Harper most decidedly is not. He can’t be a leader because he’s in public office under false pretenses.

Did you hear? Jim Flaherty, Canada’s Finance Minister, expenses the make-up he wears for his regular “up is down” photo ops.

It’s not rocket science, it’s a Canadian fact.

I do like the tax free savings account, however, and see no reason why couples with one parent at home with kids can’t income split. My ex and I are typical middle-class people who would have benefited enormously from such a policy. Lots of people would.

What is this Canadian obsession with work and taxes, that if you don’t work you’re worthless, but you still have to pay taxes. Because we’re all supposed to be working and paying taxes and sitting on the more, more, more consuming merry go ’round, that’s why.

Enough. There is nothing wrong, retro, sexist, about people hooking up to share expenses, with one person bringing home the bacon and the other cooking it.

Just ensure divorce laws protect the partner at home in the 50% chance of eventual marital breakdown, so don’t vote Conservative or no one will risk the stay-at-home life in future.

It’s not rocket science, it’s a Canadian fact.

Sexism in politics, eh? Who knew? Well, Christy Clark for one, she’s a radio slut, ferchrissakes. And it’s better to be a cougar than a MILF, not the other way around, ya stunned twat.

And that’s really all I have to say about Christy Clark, except that I think she and Stephen Harper make a better couple than Stephen Harper and Laureen Teskey do. That’s because Laureen Teskey seems like a real enough person who deserves another real enough person and Stephen Harper deserves Christy Clark.

(Oh dear, I can just imagine the political backroom boys who aren’t gay, or are gay, reading this and picturing Christy Clark with Laureen Teskey, and having to excuse themselves from Sunday brunch with mom for a moment.)

Is it the end of boys and men because girls and women are graduating from professional studies, having careers, reaching the top ranks of money makers?

No, it’s the end of money making. That’s because girls and women will do more work for less money. Luckily, money making is on its way out, anyway. As time leaps along and fewer and fewer private individuals own more and more of what was once public, we’ll make less money, buy less stuff, and get ourselves off the consuming merry go ’round.

Also, if Stephen Harper is going to bring in temporary foreign workers to do the work formerly done by Canadian men on salary, well, why is anybody blaming Canadian women for trying to make up the difference?

Relax, taxpayers of Canada – men will take to not working for no money like women will take to working more for less of it until, finally, enough women do the math to realize that they’re working to keep Jim Flaherty in make-up, and not the other way around, as everyone who’s anyone knows, a real Conservative god would have intended.

It’s not rocket science, it’s a Canadian fact.

 

 

Turning Aboriginal

Interesting times we live in, eh?

We’ve been outside a fair bit this winter, walking the dog. He’s a playful critter and needs a lot of exercise, which means my Beau  and I get a lot of exercise, too. There’s a soccer field we can get to on foot, and we throw a ball for him to chase, but the snow’s too deep now to get to it. Luckily, we found a deserted schoolyard that does the trick.

I don’t think I’ve been sick since we got the dog, and lately I’ve noticed myself actually actively enjoying winter. I’m tempted to push my luck, rent a car, and go skiing for the day. Decadent, eh? Especially since I don’t really ski, I snowplow.

But that’s the thing about not owning a car, you can rent one. And with all the money you save by not owning, you can afford to actually go somewhere in the rental.

Where I live right now, parking is the major concern of every homeowner. It’s beyond reason, people who can barely afford their commons fees, clinging to their cars like grim death, but there seems to be a collective stupidity when it comes to economics in this country.

Take the tar sands, please. Canada isn’t blessed with natural resources, we’re cursed with them. But there’s just no reasoning with developers. They’re/we’re too far removed from the cause to appreciate the effect, and although we talk a good game about how we can innovate at the last hour, we’re no longer capable of recognizing when it’s here.

Is it? I’m not a doomsayer, not at all, I’m absolutely a glass half full type, but is it? Well, not for us, not here in winter wonderland Ottawa, but it sure is for a lot of other people with whom we share this increasingly beaten and battered home we call Earth.

It’s been years since I spent the amount of time outside I’m spending now. Part of it is having the right boots, and I really lucked out when I bought them two years ago because they were on sale, Canadian made, sheepskin. I can’t recommend them enough. My feet have stayed warm and dry in all kinds of winter snow. My hat is known by my Beau as “The Full Fudd”, as in Elmer, and I think it came from Mountain Equipment Coop (it’s at least a decade old), my gloves and scarf are purchased from a friend’s local alpaca farm “Magpie Hill” (I want one of her alpaca duvets, and I’m saving up), and my coat, although regrettably not a snow goose, is warm enough. It’s down and more tailored than a snow goose, and has a snug hood.

I’ve always wanted to go up to the far north to see how Canada’s other half lives. I want to go in winter, too, to experience the full monty (not literally, of course), get the lay of the land, commune with the people who know it best. People who’ve made the trip swear by it. They say it gives you perspective, and I imagine it’s as close as any of us who aren’t Roberta Bondar will get to having a bird’s eye view.

(Roberta Bondar, my favourite astronaut, who also hails from Sault Ste. Marie, said, “To fly in space is to see the reality of Earth, alone. The experience changed my life and my attitude toward life itself. I am one of the lucky ones.”)

Of course, it would be prohibitively expensive, too, so not a trip one can just make on a whim. And where do you stay? Years ago, I “organized” a northern health tour for Bob Rae and a few other NDP caucus members. I put “organized” in quotation marks because whenever I called up North to where they were headed (and I can’t remember where now, but it was a ways up in Northern Ontario, on reserve land) Andy YesNo (I write it YesNo, but he probably writes it Yesno) would imply by his admittedly ambiguous “uh hunh”s that we were making arrangements, so to speak.

I pictured a hotel, of course, with adjacent restaurant/lounge, a few shops, a competing tavern, offices, you know – a quaint town, like Bruce Mines.

Anyway, the members headed up for their tour and word back was all praise for the arrangements I had made and so I basked in the glory of my clerkdom until I learned that Andy YesNo was just a “uh hunh” sort of guy and there was no quaint town, just a scattering of inadequate housing, no running water, and a band council office that doubled as a community center.

It was a trailer.

But the locals had put up the members and no one knew any different, so screw Andy YesNo, I took all the credit for whatever arrangements he had made while I was securing hotel and restaurant reservations for a party of three or four (I can’t remember now how many members took advantage of the trip).

In later years, here in Ottawa, I worked in a program that related to Aboriginal kids living off reserve, and attended a few conferences related to health, and training sessions to better understand the histories and cultures of Aboriginals in Canada. At one health conference, I endeared myself to the crowd by standing up as the lone slim white government representative to tsk tsk about the various cakes, including a decadent black forest cake, being wheeled in at the morning break. There were groans (the conference was focused on the diabetes epidemic facing many Aboriginal communities) but the facilitator took my side (I knew he would, he facilitated another conference I was at) and pretty soon had the crowd chuckling.

Normally I don’t eat cake at 10:15 in the morning, but the occasion seemed to call for it so I allowed myself a humungo slice of the black forest.

Another conference I was at (facilitated by a woman who had me so intrigued by her hours – she gets up at 3:00 a.m. and goes to bed at 9:00 p.m., often finishing her work day – she’s a consultant – by 7:00 a.m. when most people are just getting up) focused on a training curriculum for early childhood educators of special needs kids at head start centers. But after a couple of days of discussion, we were back to the beginning because, not only were the centers not even sufficiently equipped to deal with kids without special needs, there was no agreement as to whether or not there should be a definition of special needs. After all, every child is a gift from the Creator.

It was interesting to me, the different perspective of these people who had traveled to Toronto, where the conference was, from the far North. How they were living really had no relation to how I was living, but more importantly, they had a different philosophy entirely, not just about some aspects of life, but about the whole of it.

In this past year, when I can’t sleep because I’m unemployed, worried about money, my mind is racing, worried about kids, I’m catastrophizing, worried about the fate of everybody and everything, I try to picture my center as part of the ground. And one day a couple of weeks ago, I lay down on the hard snow in the field we ran our dog in and made myself feel that connection. I read it somewhere, it’s a bit of native zen wisdom, and it seems to do the trick.

I don’t know what the outcome of IdleNoMore will be, but I do know that what most of us understand about Aboriginal histories and cultures isn’t much and I wonder now why that is.

In any case, it seems like the time is ripe for a revolution in learning.

 

Who’s Afraid of John Ralston Saul?

My mother’s a member of The Greatest Generation, the one known for surviving the Depression,going on to defeat Hitler in the Second World War, and then saving the world from Communism and Canada from Tommy Douglas.

She’s also a real “pull up your bootstraps” type, a firm believer in aspiring, at least, to a professional career and a middle-class way of life. Get a degree, buy a couple of smart suits, and go out to seek your fortune.

But she has little respect for the rich, whom she views as either having inherited their wealth or benefited unfairly from an insider relationship with our British Canadian banks and the self-congratulating, self-rewarding men who run them as if they’re self-made and not to the manor born.

Canadian unions, particularly public sector ones, are headed up by hangovers from a colonial past, a bunch of socialist Brits, the Canadian civil service dragged down by their conservative counterparts who emigrated here after the war to take jobs that should have gone to the Canadian men (and women) who saved their pasty arses from Hitler.

And yet, she’s down with the Crown. Or was, anyway. The older she gets, even the Queen is starting to wear on her, the Queen being a shade younger, and tainted by the love of Stephen Harper.

Pearson was her man, then Trudeau, although Pearson has remained her man while Trudeau, well, not so much.

But it wasn’t until she read John Ralston Saul’s book, “Reflections of a Siamese Twin”, that she budged on her view that Canada’s Aboriginal population is not just a problem, but it’s a problem that’s not her problem. Move off reserve or don’t but don’t expect that middle-class holy grail to come to you up in Trout Lake. Residential schools? Forced relocations?

Well, life is tough, get over it, move on, survival of the fittest.

Trust me, I have no illusions about what my fate would have been if my mother had been Sophie making a Choice.

So it’s a sea change for her to be thinking of Aboriginals on reserve differently, and by differently, I mean, not negatively. (Aboriginals off reserve she would view as getting over it, moving on, surviving as the middle-class fittest – like any immigrant who has adapted to her “get with the program!/who do you think you are?” philosophy of the good life made by The Greatest Generation for all and sundry to enjoy.)

You adapt to the mainstream, the mainstream doesn’t adapt to you.

But she reads, she keeps up, and she really really really despises Stephen Harper. A lot. He offends every fiber of her being. She’s a Big “L” Liberal from Northern Ontario who said to me of old growth forest, back when I worked for a New Democrat Bob Rae, “Well, it’s going to fall down eventually anyway – why not log it now and replant it for the next go ’round? They’re trees, ferchrissakes. People need to live.”

Mining, oil, gas – people need jobs. Do what you can to not leave a mess, but people need a way to make money, become middle-class, live the good life. What good are natural resources just sitting there not being used? Everybody wants to come home from work, pour herself a good stiff drink, cook a meat and vegetables (al dente) dinner, and relax in front of a nice big colour tv.

And what’s the point in not paying people a good wage along the way? Pay everybody well, we all benefit, because more of us have grasped that middle-class holy grail, dammit, and it’s all about living middle-class well.

She 88 and still walking that walk, minus the coming home from work part. And dinners are provided in the senior’s residence she lives in that I wish everybody’s parents could afford.

She despises Stephen Harper. She probably despises Stephen Harper more than I do, and that’s saying something. On the other hand, she likes John Ralston Saul. A lot. (I delighted her with a story about JRS and my old boss, Mr. Strong, and JRS taking the old man on a forced march in Toronto heat a few summers ago, during which he fainted halfway up a flight of stairs. He called me from the ambulance to tell me they were on their way to hospital, that he may have overdone it with Maurice a bit. Chin up. Pip pip. Just a little cardiac arrest.)

She takes JRS to heart. And he’s changed her lifelong view of our relationship with Aboriginals and their relationship with us. And Stephen Harper has changed her lifelong view of the middle-class holy grail and adaptation and digging it up and chopping it down and jobs and growth and the whole damn Canadian shebang as epitomized by living middle-class well.

Although she still views the British as more trouble than they were ever worth to us.

Now to the point.  Christie Blatchford recently wrote a column for the National Post with regard to the current hunger strike by Theresa Spence and her request for a meeting with the alleged Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper. I don’t have much to say about the column, although it comes across to me as a typical Conservative Party test of the optics of character assassination, as opposed to simply taking responsibility for a win by electoral fraud and governing (i.e meeting with the good Chief), but I do have a suggestion for Ms. Blatchford: Read John Ralston Saul’s “Reflections of a Siamese Twin”.

You never know, you may find yourself adapting to a whole new way of thinking about Canada and Canadians and who we are and how we live – all of us.

 

 

Conspiracy No More

If you’re on Facebook, or anywhere on the Internet, if you’ve been out and about in urban centres, like shopping malls, you’re aware that there’s a protest movement afoot called “Idle No More”.

If you get all your news from the Globe and Mail, not so much. But, of course, the Globe and Mail’s John Stackhouse has been rumoured for some time to sit on stories that don’t suit “somebody’s” narrative (and no, I don’t know who that “somebody” would be, the quotation marks are genuine).

And like I say, it’s just “rumoured” that he sits on stories, anyway.

One story allegedly deals with the Ford brothers, Rob and Doug, and drugs. It must provide proof of some kind, though, that the brothers have been up to certain “dealings”, because, well, doesn’t everyone just assume that Rob and Doug are slightly less than legitimate, anyway, and that Rob is, at the very least, on lots of drugs?

(Back in the day, Mike Harris was like the “Dean Martin” of the briefing area of the Legislature. Then he was packed off “somewhere” by the “Progressive Conservative” Party and came back as leader and eventually the murderous Premier we all remember him becoming before “resigning” partway through a majority term to kill time at that famous Canadian “charity”, the Fraser Institute.)

Geez louise, Stephen Harper, probably the unlikeliest politician with the sketchiest bio to ever “win” an election, took time out from writing his hockey book, to campaign for Rob Ford for mayor. When was the last time a sitting Prime Minister (not to mention, author and actor/singer of both stage and screen) campaigned for a mayor, exactly?

That’s right, never.

And take a good look at Stephen Harper in one of those photo ops from overseas. If that guy isn’t on some kind of “medication”, I’ll “eat my hat”.

But I tease. I’m not actually a conspiracy theorist. Having read about what was going on at the flight school attended by the 9/11 terrorists (heroin runs between Afghanistan and the U.S. under the watchful eye of the CIA and involving Osama bin Laden and the 9/11 terrorists) I don’t believe that the CIA necessarily had anything to do with planes smashing into buildings in New York City. Or that it necessarily had anything to do with an eventual war with Iraq. Or even that it necessarily had anything to do with the assassination of Osama bin Laden.

I think it’s much more likely that the CIA (funny how you don’t hear much about it now that the “Bush presidency” is over) is what we have long known the CIA to be, an extralegal assassination squad that engages in myriad extralegal activities.

Does it engage in these extralegalities at the behest of the “president”? Or is it a rogue state, as postulated by William Blum.

Oops, I mean “Rogue State”, as postulated by its author, William Blum.

When we first learned about the teleprompters, many of his supporters were dismayed, and began to wonder, is Obama just a very good actor (i.e. the same old, same old) and not the real deal as promoted by Oprah, the wealthiest woman in America, on her television talk show watched by millions of people worldwide, which at one point was giving away free car vouchers from under the seats of its lucky audience members?

Well, what is President of the United States if not a role? George W. Bush put on a fake folksy face for the cameras, but every once in a while he was real, and quite funny. I remember a reporter questioning him after 9/11 about how Americans were supposed to police the possibility of further terrorism. It had something to do with crop dusters, and Bush sort of eyeballed the guy and using his name said, “Well, [name], if you see somebody getting into your crop duster…”

Maybe you had to be there, but it pretty much translated to, “Aw, fuck you, pal. You know, I know, everybody knows except the true believers we’re going to depend on to sell this bullshit, that we don’t know what the fuck to do. Asshole.”

And I remember Paul Cellucci holding a press conference to talk about countries on a terrorist list and a reporter with a blowsy accent that could only have belonged to the Ottawa Citizen’s David Warren (I forget if it was still of the Conservative Conrad Black chain or it had gone on to be of the Conservative Canwest chain) pipe up hopefully, “Will Canada be on the list?”

And Cellucci looked sort of confused, then mildly irritated, then back to confused again, and brushed the question off.

But it was already part of the Conservative Ottawa Citizen’s narrative, that Liberal Canada was to blame for 9/11, that Feminists were aiding and abetting Muslims in destroying freedoms won by Ronald Reagan when he told Gorby to “tear down that wall”.

So what to make of the fact that there’s a movement afoot called “Idle No More”, the Aboriginal leader of which is in day 15 of a hunger strike, and the Prime Minister of Canada, author/actor/singer Stephen Harper, is being accused by many (including me, I admit) of allowing her to starve to death because he won’t agree to a meeting to discuss his “government’s” (I don’t accept the current government’s legitimacy because it is known to have committed electoral fraud, so I put “government” in quotation marks now) neglect of treaty rights, and the Globe and Mail has yet to report on it.

Well, the Globe and Mail has yet to report on the fact that the terrorists of 9/11 were heroin runners working for Osama bin Laden, too. It has yet to report on the rumoured drug-dealing of the Ford brothers. It has yet to report on the Ottawa Citizen reporting that Feminists caused 9/11. But like I pointed out earlier, I’m not a conspiracy theorist, so I suspect the Globe and Mail not reporting on “Idle No More” has to do with the Globe and Mail being a newspaper that caters to a certain class of business person who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about Aboriginal treaty rights.

Maybe he’s worried that if he reports on one woman’s hunger strike, it’ll inspire copy cat hunger strikes, and “Prime Minister” and triple threat (author, actor, singer) Stephen Harper will be run ragged responding to requests for meetings to resolve domestic injustices, instead of run ragged trying to right Canada’s trade deficit (and I’m not a REAL economist, but, I guess, neither is Stephen Harper, so…) by signing (are any of those alleged free trade deals actually signed, though?) free trade deals with any and every despotic regime from one side of the globe to the other.

(Have you ever known a Prime Minister to be more at odds with his own campaign public relations machine? Doesn’t care about money? Doesn’t like to travel? A modest policy wonk? He’s a one man money-obsessed traveling triple threat, ferchrissakes.)

Or maybe there’s a more dramatic explanation and John Stackhouse is saving the front page of the Globe and Mail for a report on the tragic, and yet, totally preventable death by starvation of Chief Theresa Spence.

 

 

A Canadian Nativity Scene

This entry’s for Stephen Harper, so pass it on to him, will you, please, Sooey Says reader(s)? Thanks.

One of the Sooey’s.com regulars, Sheena, posted a comment this Christmas morning that harkened back to the last time the natives got restless in this country.

Elijah Harper derailed Mulroney and the last major attempt to sell out Canada and the Charter of Rights with an eagle feather. Maybe Spence is the only true opposition leader we have right now.

I don’t know much about Aboriginal affairs, treaty rights, reserves – it’s not an area in which I have a lot of expertise, but I have worked for the federal government in related programs, and I’ve attended a couple of training sessions on “Duty to Consult”, which is a much ignored duty on behalf of the federal government to consult the people who own the land on which many Canadian natural resource projects depend.

The law is a wonderful thing, and we are nothing if not a country of laws.

Section 35 of the Constitution Act states:

35. (1) The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.

(2) In this Act, “aboriginal peoples of Canada” includes the Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada.

(3) For greater certainty, in subsection (1) “treaty rights” includes rights that now exist by way of land claims agreements or may be so acquired.

(4) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, the aboriginal and treaty rights referred to in subsection (1) are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.