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.

Bad Actors

She Wants To Sell My Monkey

She Wants To Sell My Monkey



In Libératiion this morning, a little piece at the bottom of the page dealing with a change in government in Guatemala, where an imposed president operating for the benefit of mining interests and American capital was forced to resign and has been charged with corruption and who-knows-what-else. The article points out (bemoans?) that an actor is in line to take up the presidential functions, as if this were a novel experience, and not necessarily a step toward constructive government, but the precedents are manifold and instructive.

Ronald Reagan comes to mind straight away, a man who was, in a former life, something of a Bad Actor, but whose greatest role was the impersonation of a representative of the people of the USA.  In the intervening years, we’ve had a succession of similarly bad actors, Bush I., Clinton, Bush II, Obama and a whole list of clowns lined up to take over the title, who eschewed the thespian training, but got the role nonetheless.

So for those afraid for the future of Guatemala, take heart. Unlike RR and the rest of the presidential bad actors, there’s a good chance that any clown in the hot seat in Guatemala is unlikely to get the chance to serve out a full term, let along erect the state structure that would benefit the general populace of that tortured land.

What To Do With Your Box of Crayons

17C Fr Drama

Far Side–Gary Larson

I have an arts degree, specifically a major in French (primarily literature) with a minor in history (see Gary Larson’s comment above). Throughout my existence, I’ve seen references to people who do studies in the Humanities teased about the uselessness and frivolity of studies in this vein, and have disagreed somewhat vehemently on the basis of a perception that there is a major difference between education and training, and that the job that pays the bills is not necessarily the only focus of a person’s life. I was one of the fortunate folk who managed to find a  career with my unmarketable skill: teaching kept me gainfully occupied for three decades, paying not only the bills, but providing a wealth of experiences for me to mull over looking at the interface between the Humanities and life in a logging town. Over the course of that career, I was able to maintain and pass along a sense of a broader perspective, one version of a vision where we might be capable of encompassing more than the simple generation of income and the dispersal thereof, a sense that there is more to see and do than just weather the Monday-to-Friday grind and the acquisition of a new truck. I learned that I ought not perhaps to be too judgmental about the relative merits of the various visions we all bring to the conversation, but work to see other people’s visions and to share my own as one of many. There were earlier iterations of this view that I was able to bring to the many other jobs I did before settling into the ongoing upheavals of a teaching career as well as to the upbringing of a couple of step children and some resultant grandfathering in which I presently engage, and I’ve always found it rewarding  to encounter millwrights, engineers, fallers, plumbers, people of all stripes of careers, who have some version of breadth of vision, some through formal education, some through a simple personal propensity to question and read broadly.

The above video sums up much of my worries about how we view education and the resultant disdain for anything that isn’t of immediate utility in the workplace. This “know-nothing” treatment of learning leads potentially to the loss of perspective and knowledge akin to the destruction of ancient artifacts by religious extremists, people who will not tolerate parallel and sometimes conflicting world views, and where tolerance wilts, civilization follows. In part because of a lack of care and attention to our collective cultural treasury, this is where we appear to be headed, that is, to a society that isn’t social and a civilization that isn’t civilized.

This all came up because of a tweet from Alain de Botton, retweeted by Greg Blanchette.