Monthly Archives: November 2012
Have you ever asked yourself how the world became such a complex mess? If you have but don’t understand why, look no further than the United Nations. If ever there was an organization that has stumbled its way from issue to issue it is the UN.
It has failed on so many levels, it continues to amaze me not only that those who work at the United Nations see themselves as some sort of world government but that so many in western democracies still believe it has a real purpose.
I understand why totalitarian regimes like Syria and Iran like the United Nations; it allows them to rationalize and legitimize their oppressive regimes in a way that isn’t possible in any other venue. So completely overwhelmed by those who oppress has the United Nations become, it actually contemplated nominating Syria to its Human Rights Council even as that regime was brutally slaughtering its own citizens.
And that is the international organization that retired diplomats and the politically clueless think we should not only support but bow before. It’s unbelievable. Continue reading
The Occupy Movement; The Tea Party; The Quebec Student Protests; The Recall Vote in Wisconsin; The forced referendum to end the HST in British Columbia; and thousands of social media sites protesting everything from the removal of Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford to Obamacare all have something in common.
They are an indication of a rising discontent with, and a disconnect from, elected representatives and government in general that people are feeling in countries around the world.
Over the past decade and a bit, there has been a growing divide between the electorate and the elected and increasingly, the electorate is becoming more frustrated and cynical about the role played by government and politicians in our societies. Continue reading
“All children, except one, grow up. . .Oh, the cleverness of me!”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
A new star has burst on the horizon, a star that has emerged from Never Never Land to lead us all to a magic place where all our dreams will come true and none of us will ever grow old. His name is Justin Trudeau and he is the Peter Pan of Canadian politics.
Ah, if only he could fly.
Mr. Trudeau, who is 42, has declared that nobody over the age of 40 will be allowed to be part of his team. Considering that approximately 63% of the electorate is actually over 40, it would appear that Mr. Trudeau’s vision for a united Canada does not include a majority of Canadians.
But not to worry, he has a wonderful view of the world that remains unobscured by the pixie dust sprinkled about by Tinkerbelle or even simple reality. Continue reading
I took a couple of days off from the big blog to spend some time with Maggie and to recharge my brain. The plan was working just fine until yesterday when a court in Toronto removed the city’s mayor from office for conflict of interest.
For those of you who follow this blog and who are not completely familiar with the events leading up to yesterday’s court decision, here’s a quick background overview.
Rob Ford was elected mayor of Toronto, Canada’s largest city, by almost 50% of the vote. The rest of the votes were split between the other candidates. In other words, he won the election by almost a landslide. Continue reading
On July 24, 1967, during an official visit to Canada under the pretext of attending Expo 67 in Quebec, President Charles de Gaulle of France spoke these words while giving an address to a large crowd from a balcony at Montreal City Hall;
“Vive le Québec libre !” (long live free Quebec).
Those four words caught everyone’s attention rather quickly.
The French separatist movement of Quebec loved it. The phrase played right to the core of their sense of being the victims of linguistic colonialism. The Canadian Government of Lester Pearson was not very impressed and the Prime Minister was quite blunt in his criticism of de Gaulle’s comment as were, surprisingly, many back home in France.
Many look back on de Gaulle’s remarks as simply being an emotional outburst during a speech that was being enthusiastically received and I think there is some truth to that. Politicians tend to be tightly scripted and cautious, almost to the point of avoiding any actual meaning in what they say but when they let their guard down and speak without filters, it often reveals what they truly believe.
We saw some evidence of that this past week in Canada.
It started with Liberal David McGuinty who suggested that Members of Parliament from Alberta were too parochial in their views on energy policy and shouldn’t be sitting in Canada’s national parliament. He told reporters that Alberta Members of Parliament
“should go back to Alberta and run either for municipal council in a city that’s deeply affected by the oilsands business or go run for the Alberta legislature.”
Many, of course, were outraged and called it an attack on the west and very quickly, Mr. McGuinty was forced to resign from his position as Liberal Natural Resources Critic and to issue an apology.
Almost within 24 hours, a taped interview by Liberal Leadership candidate Justin Trudeau surfaced in which he made much the same kind of statement about the west.
“Canada isn’t doing well right now because it’s Albertans who control our community and socio-democratic agenda. It doesn’t work.”
The interview was conducted in 2010 but Mr. Trudeau was a sitting Liberal MP at the time and his statements were even more pointed. He suggested that Canada belonged to Quebec rather than to Canadians and that basically, the rest of Canada was better governed when left in the hands of politicians and leaders from Quebec.
So much for the Liberal Party of Canada’s vision for national unity.
There is no question that both men took a very parochial view of the nation in their statements which made what they said all the more absurd because it the parochial positions of others that they were criticizing. For me, however, their statements revealed something more.
Mr. McGuinty criticized the regional focus of his colleagues from Alberta while completely overlooking his support of the auto industry bailout in Ontario. He also ignored a recent study by the Conference Board of Canada which indicated that the resource sector of Canada’s economy, particular the energy sector, was going to drive Canadian prosperity for the foreseeable future and would create upwards of 900,000 jobs over the next decade, most of which would actually be in Ontario. In other words, in his rush to condemn others, Mr. McGuinty was not only wrong on his accusation, he was wrong on the facts and completely forgiving of his own parochial interests when it came to his part of the country.
That report went on to state that the single biggest impediment to achieving that success was ‘energy illiteracy’ but I think it is something else. I think it is political illiteracy.
With the possible exception of the entertainment industry, I doubt that there is any group of people more self-absorbed or vacuous than politicians. Most of them have distilled their profession down to winning and losing power rather than serving the national interest.
They will disagree with that assessment, of course, as will many who support them but consider this reality. Only politicians would oppose, when they are reduced to being in opposition, what they supported or initiated when they were in government. Only politicians will campaign on one thing and then do the opposite once they are elected and they will do that without even a twinge of conscience or an apology to those whose votes they rendered meaningless by that careless hypocrisy.
In his comments from 2010, Mr. Trudeau waxed eloquently about the former Quebec-based Prime Ministers who he considers to have made the greatest contribution to the country.
He mentioned Paul Martin; a former Liberal Prime Minister who slashed health care transfers to the provinces when he was Health Minister under Jean Chretien and who even the Liberal-friendly media called ‘Mr. Dithers’ for his inability to make a decision. Mr. Martin served one two-year term in office and then was sent into political obscurity by the emergence of Stephen Harper’s new and united Conservative Party of Canada.
Mr. Trudeau also mentioned Jean Chretien as another example of those great prime ministers.
It was Jean Chretien who campaigned on eliminating the Goods and Services Tax but who did not keep that promise once he was elected. His government signed the Kyoto Accord but failed to honour or implement it, and of course, it was Mr. Chretien’s government that presided over AdScam. This was a nasty bit of corruption that saw the Liberal Party divert taxpayer money to bagmen who then handed it out in diners and bars to supporters, in return for political favours, literally in brown paper bags full of cash. In the ensuing Crown Inquiry, Chief Justice Gomery referred to the entire affair as ‘small town cheap’ and it was an accurate definition of the Chretien government.
Mr. Trudeau’s own father Pierre Elliott Trudeau was the prime minister who repatriated the Canadian Constitution from Britain. He is also the prime minister who imposed martial law on Canada during the Quebec crisis which put troops in the streets of our cities, saw hundreds of Canadians taken from their homes and arrested without charge or access to a lawyer and who imposed wage and price controls on the nation a mere six months after having won an election based on his opposition to wage and price controls that had been proposed by the Conservatives.
Justin Trudeau’s view of history, like many politicians, is both distorted by his political bias and his narrow and parochial view of history.
Canada is federation in which most politicians spend as much, if not more time, fussing over regional concerns than they do coming together to resolve national issues for the benefit of all Canadians.
Much is made of Canada’s health care system but it is not universal and has been seriously undermined by regional disparity and incredibly poor planning by the various provincial governments. In more than half a century, provincial politicians have failed to work together to take advantage of their potential united buying power to reduce costs from suppliers. They have failed to harmonize the list of services provided and Canada is a country where some provinces offer some drugs and services not available in others as a result. For its part, the federal government had, until the current Harper government, failed to provide a guarantee of health care transfer amounts to the provinces to facilitate long-term planning.
Politicians squabble over pipelines; blame each other for the failure of their economies rather than accepting responsibility for their own failed policies and governance; and consistently put regional concerns ahead of the national interest.
Quebec continues to demand more from the federal government while increasing its oppression of the linguistic rights and opportunities of it English-speaking minority. It continues to flirt with and threaten separation from Canada while wallowing in the billions it receives from the country to pay for social programs other parts of Canada can’t afford.
No politician is prepared to defend the language rights of Canadians living in Quebec who are oppressed by the provincial government and no federal politician is prepared to stand up and stop the financial drain into a province that refuses to be a cooperative part of the fabric of the nation.
For years, federal politicians have refused to defend the discrimination against English in the province of Quebec while supporting the expenditure of billions on the imposition of bilingualism on the rest of the country. They did this, not because it was the right thing to do, but because they were trying to buy political support in Quebec. They have continued with this policy even though it has failed them and Canadians repeatedly.
Mr. Trudeau, who criticized the west for its economic clout due to its oil resources, ignores the suppression of the rights of English Quebec because it is politically expedient to do so.
In Canada, political expediency trumps morality and justice.
Mr. Trudeau is running to be the next leader of his party and he will win. He will not win because he is the best candidate for the job. He will not win because he has the maturity, the experience or the vision to be leader of the Liberal Party and perhaps Prime Minister; he will win because the party thinks he can lead them into winning an election and that is the only thing that is important to the party. Mr. Trudeau should consider the fact that if the party thought a dead pig could guarantee that electoral victory, they’d drop him in a heartbeat.
Politics, in this country, is not about vision, service or even integrity. It is about winning. Nothing else matters and the actions of many politicians and the unguarded comments of people like David McGuinty and Justin Trudeau simply underscore that basic reality.
Canada is a great country with talented, hard-working people, significant natural resources and a consistent set of values across the nation. Canadians, by and large, are a decent people. It is our politicians that are our weakest link.
Our politicians do not serve the nation, they serve themselves. They put political self-interest ahead of doing what is right. They speak in obscure, meaningless and bombastic speeches and media interviews that say nothing and they undermine our parliament and our democracy with gamesmanship and outright hypocrisy.
It would have been refreshing if Mr. Trudeau had brought something new to the table even if his comments were a tad outrageous but he didn’t. His recent comments merely underscored that once again, we will see the triumph of style over substance and the really sad part of it all, for me, is that many will once again be fooled by it and vote for it.
It is not how great nations are built.
© 2012 Maggie’s Bear
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My God but there is a lot of stupidity around these days. In fact, there is so much of it that I am beginning to believe that the more grounded of us are actually the descendants of alien explorers who were stranded when their colleagues fled in a panic after encountering some of that stupidity in the people they encountered here.
Don’t be rolling your eyes thinking that it is only me who isn’t from around here. Work with me.
Whether it’s the woman in Ontario who made a submission to her city council that it consider cutting down all oak trees in the vicitnity of a local school because some children had a nut allergy or the NYC Dept. of Education banning words like dinosaur, the level of stupidity I see around me makes me feel like Einstein on speed. I don’t mind admitting that I’m not always the brightest bulb on the tree, especially as the years fall away but Christ on vacation, some of the stupidity, especially political stupidity, I see these days makes me feel positively like I belong in MENSA.
The Mayor of New York City, who has a remarkable ability to continually confirm his lack of being able to connect reality with whatever it is that is going on in his head, has blocked food donations to the homeless because – well – the city can’t measure that food’s salt content. Apparently the mayor thinks that when it comes to a choice between the possibility of salt-induced high blood pressure or starving, going hungry is the lesser of two evils. Continue reading