Harping On A Theme


Obama is leaning on TPP potential partners to expedite the ratification of the agreement. Our own Chrystia Freeland has apparently muttered things about “parliamentary debate”, a debate which, given the majority status of the Liberal Party and the obvious support that the Opposition would lend to an agreement they negotiated, is likely to happen within the confines of the Liberal caucus. I would hope that the (Not So)New Democrats would have some barbed questions for both the other parties, and if I were a Bloc MP, I would be hopping to get in on this action: TPP might mean the end of any special status for Québec in Canada, as well as any meaningful notion of sovereignty in Canada itself. At least the Libs are not saying something such as:”Yes, sir, Mr. Obama, we’ll just deploy our best government-issue rubber stamp and move into the world of total corporate governance.” Whatever else, Obama has done, the worst damage may yet be to come from the enforcement of ISDS  provisions and the chill that would likely spell the end of the ability of communities all across the signatory states to protect their local economies and environments, leaving all resources and areas of endeavour to be run on a for-profit basis by those who have already managed to sequester an insane portion of the world’s wealth for their own use and abuse. So, to work, Chrystia Freeland (may your name be a reference to a reinforced democracy than to a nation given away for nothing).



Qui sème le vent…


Pic is really from Dico Larousse and should be titled, I think, Je sème à tout vent.

The full title expression is:

Qui sème le vent récolte la tempête.

Check out France’s military and commercial interventions and it’s easy to see why Paris would be a target. The violence on both sides speaks to a failure of understanding, dialogue and diplomacyCondemnation all around for said violence. Could last evenings events be part of the tempest of the above expression?

Also worth noting, perhaps, is the ongoing and increasingly pronounced inequality of opportunity and income that grips French society along with the rest for the Western World, and the World in general. The election of a Socialist government in 2012 has meant an extension of the same policies inflicted on the country by the neo-con/lib Sarkozy. Mitterrand taught us the same lesson. The impoverished tenement districts of many French cities are cesspits of crime, insecurity and despair, and fertile territory for the radicalization of young folks who see no future for them in society as it is presently structured.

Strange that Erica shared with me an article from Canadian Mennonite the other evening about a pastor noting that the sugar he put in his coffee in Hawaii had likely been grown a stone’s throw from where he sat, but that it had been shipped to the US mainland, processed, packaged and shipped back. He figured the little sugar packet had travelled some 16 000 kilometres before being dissolved into his coffee and returned through biological processing to its native soil. Wait, there is a link: this reminded me of the passage in Candide (Voltaire, 1759) about a runaway slave from a sugar plantation in the Caribbean area who was missing various parts of his anatomy because he tried to escape his servitude, and each time he did so, his master would remove a hand or a foot.

On nous donne un caleçon de toile pour tout vêtement deux fois l’année. Quand nous travaillons aux sucreries, et que la meule nous attrape le doigt, on nous coupe la main ; quand nous voulons nous enfuir, on nous coupe la jambe : je me suis trouvé dans les deux cas. C’est à ce prix que vous mangez du sucre en Europe. 

…some get the sugar, some pay the price.

The Islamic State is a nasty bit of business, and it’s an easy decision to deplore the violence they have visited on Paris, as well as a litany of barbaric acts committed all over the Near East and beyond. But did no one take a moment to get François Hollande to reflect on the causes and effects of his adventures at home and abroad? When he ambles through the aisles at FNAC or Galéries Lafayette, does he never consider the notion of “You broke it, you bought it.”?


French Karma


Things Ain’t Always What They Seem (Duh!)


Following the Liberal Tradition (Neo-, that is)

Following the Liberal Tradition (Neo-, that is)


Globe this morning has a piece on how our new PM-designate is proposing to work with Japanese PM Abe to promote the TPP. Given the nature of that agreement, as far as we can surmise given the secrecy surrounding its negotiation and final text, it contains the same sort of Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism found in all of these “Free Trade” agreements, meaning that there is no longer any such thing as Canadian sovereignty, and that the whole electoral, legislative and judicial structure of the country is a useless rump. This is not real change and fits nicely with the Chrétien tradition of campaigning from the Left and governing from the Right. Trudeau has, in effect, told us that he will have no effect on life in Canada, as the rules will be written by the corporate tribunals mandated under the TPP. Well played, Canada.

The New High Priests of Disconnect


These Guys Will Own Us

These Guys Will Own Us

We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.

—Carl Sagan


The above citation speaks eloquently to the closing of libraries and the restriction of scientists’ contributions to ensuring that we have a livable planet and some creature comforts (like food, a sufficiently oxygenated atmosphere, quality drinking water, shelter, clothing, communications and all the other stuff on which society is based). It speaks to the claptrap that issues forth from legions of self-serving and greedy community “leaders” who want to continue blithely on with business as (what they deem to be) usual because it protects their position of privilege. It speaks to a wilful ignorance that allows for misdirection and malfeasance in governance at the corporate, local, municipal, state/province, national and international levels and to the trashing of the notion of an informed citizenry, a population not transfixed by the shenanigans of the beautiful people and the stunt men, by cat videos or by the next fix.

Those few who can and do invent, produce, deploy and maintain the systems on which we depend might end up forming a sort of high priesthood of Wizard-Of-Oz-like directors on whom we will all be blindly dependent. This reign might also be short-lived as the ignorant masses simply overwhelm the literate and send civilization to a tawdry end. The prospect is frustrating because of the unnecessary nature of the process and the loss of what could be a decent life for all.

Don’t argue with idiots: they’ll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

—Sarah Cook

Our own Lukashenko?


Fifth mandate here, I wonder about Canada

Fifth mandate here, I wonder about Canada


Elections where held yesterday in Belarus. in which the incumbent, Lukashenko, managed, to no one’s surprise. to win a fifth term in office, per Libération, who bring the whole thing up because, in what they term a political decision, the EU has decided to lift any sanctions against Belarus because the elections seemed to go off without a hitch. This begs a couple of questions, the first of which is the concern that caused the EU to impose the sanctions in the first place, and the second of which is the haste with which the sanctions were lifted.

There has been much concern that Lukashenko’s elections have been somewhat tainted. There has been major upset in the past, I believe, and there was concern that a pattern of disruptive behaviour might repeat itself. For now, those fears are quelled, but did Lukashenko win the election fairly? This seems to have suddenly become less of a concern, and causes one to contemplate the second question, that of the quick change of heart.

Look at the map and ponder who is Belarus’s eastern neighbour. Then do the same for the southern neighbour. Do the names Putin and Potroshenko come to mind?

The EU may have started off as a project to end conflict in the area and to build an integrated and fair economy for all EU participants, but they certainly seem to have strayed from what was once their central vision.

And, yes, I have concerns about a certain more local Prime Minister who is in search of a fifth mandate and who has already, under the Orwellian Fair Elections Act, done at least part of his level best to tilt the playing field.


Illusory Mandate


Heads up! Here comes the bullshit ball!

Heads up! Here comes the bullshit ball!


I’m hoping this is just Steve leaving us another stinking pile on his way out the door, but it bothers me that this crew is still visiting significant harm on Canada after the government has been dissolved. I refer particularly to the campaign to ensnare Canadians in the vicious web that will the the TPP and the sell-off of CBC tangible assets. This is more fundamental dishone

Am I racist?


Facebook strikes again, in this case a FB friend who dislikes what is termed Race-Based Law.

I suspect that people of all stripes have some prejudice in favour of their own kind and against “the others”. The most destructive racism is that which protects a position of privilege and power. Not all groups can claim that position.

There was a time when the common thread of thought on “fair” was that we should all get the same deal, but a lot of people have moved on to some sort of notion of equality of opportunity, and perhaps a thought that those who have been victimized in the past are in line for, and deserving of, redress.. Of course the outrages of the past are so enormous and so egregious that there us really little chance that redress can be much greater than symbolic, thinking particularly of the westward expansion of European colonization and the  longtime slavery issue . The idea of full redress might mean a reversal of positions rather than any constructive rebuilding of relationships.

The level of suffering forced on colonized people ensures that any reconciliation will require openness all around, a spirit of generosity from all parties, and wagonloads of patience. I wish us good luck.

Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum, Tweedle Duh


Something Missing: Third Man Out...

Something Missing: Third Man Out…

I didn’t watch last night’s Munk Debate on the Economy. It’s not that I’m not concerned about the state of the economy, it’s just that the framework is all wrong, that a major player was missing, and that I was pretty sure that I would learn little of value or that any of the three debaters would actually add anything to the discourse leading up to our October 19 vote. Mr. Harper wants to limit the discussion to the economy, though he’s unlikely to admit that his much-touted success lies solely in his having managed to sell off or give away the last vestiges of Canadian economic sovereignty, what little is left following the predations of the Mulroney-Campbell-Chtétien-Martin administrations. In (mostly) completely gutting the access that Canadians have to the wealth generated in this country, Mr. Harper has also managed to accelerate the sack of the environment and the wasting of the social foundations of the country. Mr. Mulcair has, thus far, no blood on his hands, but the signs are that there is little gumption on the part of his party for redress of the most fundamental notions the wrongs committed by his Liberal and Conservative predecessors, and Mr. Trudeau, by slavishly following the Con lead on privacy and trade issues, indicates plainly that he isn’t likely to heal the damage wrought by his colleagues across the floor, especially given the propensity of Liberal governments to campaign from the left and then govern from the right (think of Chrétien’s Red Book, full of hope, all of it devoid of substance).

This is precisely why last night’s “debate” is such a travesty: the underpinnings of our current government are based on chimeric and untruthful notions of life in Canada, as well as in the wider world. The meanness and sleaze of this crew, especially as embodied in its leader and reflected in cabinet, senate, party operatives, donors and backbench wingnuttery needs to be front and centre in any discussion of who might best govern the country. By limiting the debate to the economy, the whole exercise became a useless wordfest of business platitudes and hackneyed notions of social structure. Sad that more people aren’t reading, digesting and operating on the material that Harris et al have put at our disposal.

(the last paragraph is lifted verbatim from a comment that I left at Owen Gray’s Northern Reflections)

Nowhere To Run To, Nowhere to Hide

A Better Life?

A Better Life?


I went on social media this morning with the intention of, amongst other things, posting notice of a local meeting to investigate sponsorship of a refugee family, but found that there is something that really rankles about the idea. I’m an immigrant to Canada, and my forebears were immigrants from Germany and Ireland, some political and some economic refugees, and all this shuffling around has worked out pretty well for our lot, as well as for the receiving countries. Truth be known, everything I read indicates that it has worked out a damn sight better for us than for the original inhabitants of this land, and for many who haven’t been as successful at navigating the shoals of hostile economies and social situations as we have been. Much of this, both success and failure, can be ascribed to dumb luck, with Dame Fortune smiling on some and throwing stones at many more. A good deal more can be ascribed to the mean-spirited and short-sighted policy environment that has enveloped us in the last four or five decades and has (and continues to) caused disasters and misery abroad, discrimination and disparity at home.

My own sense is that there is a great need for rewriting our social and economic playbook, and that the care of our living space needs to be at the top of the list of priorities, and that charity is a band-aid on the festering sores of environmental degradation and the economic imbalance that produces poverty and homelessness, hunger, exposure and violence. As I suspect the case might be with many others who have avoided these pitfalls, we are charitable, but have the feeling that we could donate our way into our own poverty, and that it would make little difference in the overall scheme as those who have sequestered the great wealth of society in their own pockets would only deepen their own pockets of absorb the new donations without it making a whit of difference to the indigent. I reserve a special space in hell for people who fatten on the outpourings of charitable donations as part of the Charity Industry: it might be a good gig economically, but it’s morally indefensible.  It’s also an excuse to let governments continue to funnel funds to their cronies and shirk responsibility to citizens for protecting our common living space, both physical and social.

Let’s accept refugees, welcome them with open arms and all the love and support we can muster. We have done much to create the conditions that forced them out of their former lives, so let’s try to make up part of it by ensuring that they have a better life here. At the same time, we here in Canada have a core of disenfranchised citizens, our own cadre of internally displaced persons, victims of whatever combination of toxic social circumstances and bad decisions by whomever. We can do  better at looking after “our own” as well as taking in some “outsiders”, in the spirit of Gilles Vigneault’s Mon Pays:

De ce grand pays solitaire je crie avant que de me taire
A tous les hommes de la terre ma maison c’est votre maison
Entre mes quatre murs de glace je mets mon temps et mon espace
А prйparer le feu, la place pour les humains de l’horizon
Et les humains sont de ma race

(Basically, my house is your house, and all humans are of my race.)


Fairness doesn’t always dictate that everyone get the same treatment, but it ought to mean that no one goes without the necessities of life, including participation in society in economic, intellectual and spiritual dimensions, and full opportunity to improve the living situation, as long as it isn’t at the expense of others. So let’s sponsor both refugees from abroad and our own internal refugees. And let’s work toward a better economic and social balance at home, and quit blowing stuff up elsewhere.