This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Funding Secession

What country in the world permits and gives credence to, allowing full parliamentary participation to, an avowedly and openly active secessionist party, other than Canada? It is one thing to respect the democratic process, quite another to foster, aid and assist a party whose single purpose is to take the province it represents out of Canadian Confederation.

Is this a legitimate role of the democratic process? To encourage, use taxpayer funding to ensure the health and well being of a single-purpose, single-focus political party whose success in partitioning the Province of Quebec away from Canada would spell the end of a united Canada? Countries go to war with disparate provinces or territories who espouse separation.

We would not, because that is not the way that Canada settles its internal disputes. Nor should we, because that would not express the values and orientation of Canadians. On the other hand, we are continually bombarded with demands from the Province of Quebec to enshrine special status for Quebec, above and beyond what is offered to the country's other provinces and territories.

And still it continues, through its political voice in Parliament, to threaten separation, should all its demands not be forthcoming, all its grievances be adequately satisfied. Well, they never are, they just keep coming. And the threats for separation swing through periods of resurgent determination, or muted defiance and a quiescent hiatus.

No amount of succumbing to Quebec's needs to distinguish itself as self-administering, as autonomous in virtually all spheres of government action has thus far soothed its collective sensibilities of being hard done by, as a province of Canada. Despite that the province has been able to coerce the federal government to grant it authorities generally deemed those of the federal government.

Nothing appeases the sense of grievance continually emanating from that province. Not the financial support given it through federal apportioning, topped up handsomely by equalization payments, nor any other entitlements, including the recognition of its status as a 'sovereign' nation. A nation exemplified by its cultural and traditional differences, its language.

No matter how often the rest of Canada attempts to give Quebec a vote of confidence, assuring it of how valued it is in the rest of Canada, respectful of its cultural differences, allowing as how much Canada is enriched by those valuable differences, Quebec remains disgruntled, dissatisfied, edging toward unappeasable aggrievement.

And here's the real kicker. While all of Canada's political parties sit in Parliament for the express purpose of representing the well being of all of Canada, the entire population of the country, the Parti Quebecois sits in Parliament for the solitary purpose of representing Quebec, having no interest whatever in the well being of all Canadians.

Moreover, while Canada's (now disputed) system of taxpayer-funded support of political parties is meant to top up what those parties are able to collect through voluntary political donations from individuals and groups within the communities they represent, the funding received by the Parti Quebecois through taxpayer payments-per-vote represents more than 80% of their funding.

The party is too lazy to fund-drive, and remains dependent on the taxes paid by the general population of the country, creating the truly absurd situation where other Canadians are blackmailed into supporting Quebec separation. Another truth: Quebecers don't tend to support their major political party sitting in Parliament; they are not given to making charitable donations for any purpose.

All of which points to the utter nonsensicallity of the current system. Time things changed. If the Parti Quebecois continues it sole-focused mandate, it should pay its own way.

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Dismantling (this) Parliament

In one feckless swoop, dissolving the goodwill he so assiduously and carefully built in the minds of the electorate during his first minority government. The enormity of the gamble, that he could be so utterly oblivious, so incapable of imagining the immediate response to his succumbing to the pettiness of divisiveness at a time when he should have been working more strenuously than even before to achieve some working level of co-operation between the various political parties in this 40th Parliament.

Stephen Harper, prime minister of Canada, we are discussing your absurd, unworthy move to irritate your political opponents beyond their endurance...!

What did he think, that the increased minority equalled the full confidence of a majority vote of the electorate? Still feeling their way about what he represents, and prepared to give him another term as a minority leader until such time as he successfully dispelled their suspicion? And now, this. The total collapse - or as near total as possible, given the situation he has single-handedly placed himself in - of voter confidence in the good sense of a prime minister who would so carelessly risk everything he has struggled to achieve.

It was unaccountably heedless, careless, a prime example of unearned confidence. Unearned to that extent that he stretched it, handily creating the opportunity his opponents could only dream of. And what a time to indulge in petty party politics. When the country most needs the reassurance of its stability at a time when world markets are crumbling, and we're not entirely certain, given the on-again, off-again assurances of our own government. Idiotic, nothing less. Put it down to stress, overwork, whatever you like, that laxity of care has proven to be extremely costly.

No doubt causing enough agony in the Conservative ranks, let alone the Cabinet. A recently re-installed prime minister a trifle too confident, not quite as intrepidly knowledgeable as he would have us believe - as we have been quite prepared - given the past two-plus years of his carefully manoeuvered minority government, has prepared us to believe. All of it trashed, by one careless gesture, a clumsy one at that, at such a critical time. Not alert to the damage such a mis-step could cause, the self-afflicted wound bleeding electorate confidence he might not be capable of staunching?

Having said which, it still behooves us to honour our voting commitment, the recently concluded election where more than enough Canadians voted to continue the Conservative-led government. Truth to tell, that government, under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, stood us in very good stead. He gained our goodwill, our confidence in his capabilities by his thoughtful and careful and valuable initiatives on our behalf in many areas of concern. Now - one errs, and one backtracks of necessity to regroup, and that is precisely what has occurred.

It would represent a breach of democracy for the Opposition parties to step up with a hastily-bargained coalition for the express purpose of ousting this government on a vote of non-confidence, under the outraged guise of concern for the well-being of the country. By their vociferous denunciations, fairly well unfounded in fact, they doth protest too much. The combined expertise of the Opposition still lacks the support of the electorate, unconvinced that they are capable of leading us well and truly.

We the people have voted, and this trumped-up outrage of vehement accusations leading to self-righteous claims to entitlements that are undeserving and stand to summarily obliterate the democratic process that was undertaken a mere month and little more earlier isn't to be countenanced. This country's voters did not elect a Liberal government, not yet one in close collaboration with two other parties. What an utterly absurd, yet dreadful upset in the country's body politic. We have no reason to believe that the Liberals and NDP are capable of working well together; they're dysfunctional internally, let alone in collaboration.

Yet if the Opposition remains wedded to the trajectory they've undertaken, to unseat the government and split the administration of the country between the Liberals and the NDP, with the support of a separatist party bargaining hard for additional concessions, in an effort to further their advancement toward separation, they're sadly mistaken, betraying their own unspeakable hubris in their self-availing move so disrespectful of the democratic process.

The Liberal party is functionally leaderless, its finances are in perilous condition, its politics in disarray. Their infighting and bitterness toward one another has become legendary. The two leading leadership contenders are bitterly adversarial. The New Democratic Party has the misfortune of having the wrong leader at the wrong time, ready to lead the country into the morass of misspent funding at a critical time when we're hovering between financial insecurity and a relatively and hoped-for swift recovery.

This government, now being challenged by a ravening pack of Harper-haters, has taken cautious and well-thought-out initial steps to ensure fiscal stability, and is prepared to launch an additional series of economic measures - should they prove to be necessary - in the near future. The Opposition is attempting to instill a sense of panic in the electorate, painting the Conservative government as incapable of measuring and coping with a mild recession.

They complain of a lack of stimulus in the fiscal update just tabled by the finance minister. One shudders at the potential for wreckage of the country's economy should Stephane Dion take the helm of government, however temporarily, with Jack Layton sitting in as finance minister. The alternative, to take the country through another election process at the cost of $500-million, when we've just completed that very process, is unthinkable.

And then there's this little thought: how must we appear to the outside world looking in at what's occurring here. Scratching their collective heads in bemusement at the infantile antics of elected lawmakers, in a wealthy, educated, socially-adjusted country that has the advantage that our national peers envy, of financial stability. How can they take this country seriously, when we cannot seem to behave in a manner to be taken seriously?

We present as a peculiar Western counterpart to what is now occurring in Thailand, where a sizeable faction of Thais are embarking on a potentially violent campaign to unseat their government, claiming, although it's newly-elected, that it is only continuing the policies of the predecessor government. The unrest and violence there looks awfully like a situation that could lead to civil political war.

One can only hope that cooler heads will prevail here in Canada, that the hysteria of political bloody-mindedness will dissipate, that those parliamentarians that we have elected in good faith to lead the country through a crisis gripping the international world of finance, will cast off this attempted putsch, reclaim the maturity of their years and experience, and co-operate with a justly chastened government.

Much depends upon it.

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Baying for Blood

The hounds are out, cornering their prey, and they're out for blood. This is how politics is played out here in this ever-changing game of advantage, one party jockeying over the other for the opportunity to declare itself the winner. Seeming to have forgotten that in a democracy it is the voting population, through the lawfully democratic instrument of an election that declares the winner.

And, for the time being - and in all likelihood in the minds of the electorate, for some time to come - there is a duly elected government in Canada and the expectations are that this current Conservative government will settle down to the business of governing. Critical at any time for any country; all the more so given the frailty of the financial situation throughout the world.

The amateurishly juvenile antics of a government seeking to push through a motion to retract a provision endowing political parties with financial support commensurate with their popular vote for the simple reason that it feels it can, and in the process beggar its political antagonists has no acceptable place in the standards of good governance.

But what an opportunity a government grown too-soon arrogant has handed on a silver salver to its opponents. Despite that their political opposites aren't in quite the comfortable position - given the disarray and disorder of the Liberal Party, the great leap forward required by the NDP and the nowhere-status of the Bloc Quebecois - to take full advantage of the Conservatives lowering their guard.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, having permitted himself to indulge in a bit of spite, now querulously states that the opposition is illegally attempting to remove his legal status as the governing party. Well, he engineered that opportunity, and he's no doubt privately remorseful, but the deed was done, more shame to him. Yet he is absolutely correct in stating that "They want to take power, not earn it.

"They want to install a government led by a party that received its lowest vote share since Confederation. They want to install a prime minister ... who was rejected by the voters just six weeks ago." Right, right and right. Mr. Harper, we had such expectations, you were doing so well, you made us proud. Now you speak in the plaintive voice of self-righteous alarm at the result of something you engineered.

Backroom deals are in full steam, with Jack Layton and Stephane Dion sniffing each other out to attempt to understand just how far they could trust one another in a coalition deal, and just how far they can advantage themselves and their parties should they be able to accommodate one another in their zeal to unseat the despised Conservatives and their intrepid, but latterly incautious leader.

Their reasoning being that the Liberals, representing the 'natural' leading party would leap forward with Stephane Dion as Prime Minister, and the NDP jockeying for juicy cabinet posts should a deal be reached. Except, fellas, that the electorate would be furious, don't you know, and the Liberal Party itself is more than a trifle divided between those who would accept this, and those who shudder at the very thought of ongoing Dion leadership.

The solution? Why, simple. The government must see fit to recognize its judicious incontinence, and back down. Simply remove the most offending item from its financial update. Because, despite all the frothing about the government's lack of initiative in kick-starting the ailing economy (the economy is doing relatively well, thank you; no need for any costly bail-outs just yet)it's the stinging removal of tax-payer political cash incentives that has the opposition in a broil.

What's that? The government has come to its senses, and has, after all, admitted that it shouldn't have - particularly at this time; re-visit it at some other time, please do, or not - unilaterally determined that those monies will no longer be forthcoming. And, as a consequence, admitted its prime culpability in the current threat to its own longevity. Good on them; sensible response. And Governor General Michaelle Jean will most certainly approve.

Removal of that aggravating item, so injurious to the cash comfort of all political parties is a good move; congratulations. Except for one thing: those bloodhounds, having scented their prey, have lost all semblance of what passes for intelligent sensibility between them and appear determined to pursue the matter, and bring the government down.

At which time they must prepare themselves to face the full wrath of the country.
Bloody hell.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Mind-Boggling Ineptitude

What one earth can Prime Minister Stephen Harper be thinking? He has just, 45 days ago, won an election, re-affirming the somewhat tenuous trust that enough Canadians have placed in his party to set aside their residual worry of an agenda that still causes some notable degree of apprehension in the minds of the voters, giving him an expanded minority government.

In these parlous economic times Canada stands apart from other prosperous countries facing potentially disastrous melt-downs in their economies. Thanks to the solidity of our prevailing laws and our financial institutions this country has not had to bargain away its near future to mount massive bail-outs of our banking, insurance and corporate systems on the taxpayers' dime.

We're in fairly good shape, certainly far more so than our near neighbours. Our economy remains solid. Mind, the last week or so the finance minister and the prime minister both have been hedging their bets as though to prepare Canadians for imminent, unpleasing fiscal news; that we're closing in on a recession, but it's 'technical'. The messages ping-pong and confuse; which is it to be?

Is our government, the prime minister, his cabinet, his esteemed academic advisers, the financial community, so confused, so utterly flapped by the turmoil taking place globally, that they have become functionally incapable of separating fact from fiction, the potential from the probable? Even if no one can accurately predict in this overheated atmosphere of panic, take a break, give us a break.

And then Finance Minister Jim Flaherty delivered the kind-of-grim, but not-so-bad government assessment of our economic position. How about that! - we're in line for a 9.6-billion surplus for the 2007-08 fiscal year. And projecting into 2009-10, a far more modest, but most acceptable $100-million surplus. We'll take it! And thank you very much. Carry on fellows.

We're doing very well, struggling to ensure that we don't dip further into recessionary trends, but holding our own. So, for now, no further government stimulus to the economy. Kindly to recall, the government has brought in $31-billion worth of tax cuts to individuals and businesses in the last two years; sufficient stimulus for the time being.

But, to ensure that everyone is fully aware of the precariousness of our economic position, despite our currently healthy prognosis, wage increases across the board in the public service, and extending to Members of Parliament and senators, to be capped at 1.5% for the next few years. That's sad news, but we've been there before, and better that than utter disaster with lost jobs and a failing economy.

Stop. Go no further, that's quite enough. But unfortunately, the kind of caution generally practised by a minority government somehow went awry, succumbed to clumsily inappropriate partisanship. That little item, so insignificant as to hardly be noticed in the larger text - a proposal whereby taxpayer subsidies to political parties reflective of their vote percentage, be eliminated - oops.

Democracy, as it happens, has a very real obligation toward itself and the people it represents, to foster and support party diversity for the greater health of the country. It is fair and just and represents funding well directed for a wealthy country to encourage its serious political parties - supported by a significant proportion of the voting public.

The rashly incautious move to eradicate this subsidy must surely represent a monumental loss of judgement. Is this kind of behaviour geared to assure Canadians that our near future in this very edgy, nervous-making global tribulation is held in sober, thoughtful, integrity-assured hands? Can the minds that hit upon the elimination of that subsidy be considered sufficiently politically and socially mature to earn our trust?

That the Conservative government succumbed to the allure of sticking it to their political opponents in this shabby manner is beyond comprehension. What's the matter with them? Indulging in some kind of exotic mind-altering substances? This kind of partisan absurdity reflects a juvenile, nit-picking mindset. Not merely because the Liberals are severely disabled, posing no really imminent threat to the Conservatives.

These are the actions of self-righteous bullies, not responsible administrators. That the fury of the opposition parties in Parliament is sufficient to bring down the House is understandable to some degree; that the Conservatives, eyes wide open, brought this upon themselves - and upon the Canadian electorate which most certainly does not deserve the prospect of another election - is mind-boggling.

A word of advice to the Conservatives, Liberals, NDP, Bloc Quebecois and Greens in this great country that is Canada. Grow up. Assume the mantle of adulthood. It's long past time.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Fighting Hatred

How? How battle an unfortunate reality that some people will always search out others in whom to invest their pathology of hate? Education, most certainly; an ongoing program of public awareness. Advancing the ennobling reality that all people are invested with like attributes, emotions and needs, and that a pluralist society is a richer, more culturally diverse, interesting and potentially more peaceful one.

Canada presents as having all the attributes of a country whose population stems from various origins; bringing with them, through emigration from their countries of origin, traditions and histories that have the potential to enrich the welcoming country to which they have immigrated. Canada has protective laws to ensure that its diverse-origin population's rights are protected.

Canada, as a liberal democracy, encourages its people to remember and to honour their origins, their traditions, their culture, while at the same time encouraging them to embrace the values and social norms of the larger community. Canada guarantees to its people freedoms not found in too many other parts of the world, in large part those areas of the world from which many immigrants have departed, to find a better life.

But no society, no country, can guarantee freedom from casual insults based on origin, on ethnicity, on visible differences between peoples, on religious adherence. Ignorance abounds anywhere that people aggregate, but the more that people intermingle and interact and introduce themselves to one another, the likelier it is that perceived 'differences' become diminished, and acceptance occurs.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission has been the focus of quite a bit of criticism in the past year relating to the matter of its prosecution of allegations of incidents of hate speech. Canada has enacted legislation that makes it unlawful to foment hatred against others, which can imperil peace and security. That the human rights commission seek to do likewise is an unwelcome redundancy.

Some individuals and groups have, however, sought justice against perceived or alleged defamatory speech singling out ethnic or religious groups through resorting to complaints with the various provincial human rights commissions. And it is the redundancy of that problem, the lack of discrimination in deliberating on such complaints, the victimization of those accused that has many exhorting government to repeal Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

An independent review undertaken by University of Windsor law professor Richard Moon - an expert on human rights - commissioned by the Canadian Human Rights Commission has reached the conclusion that "The use of censorship by the government should be confined to a narrow category of extreme expression - that which threatens, advocates or justifies violence against the members of an identifiable group".

Mind, I would personally take issue at the "'justifies' violence" portion of that statement, in that as far as I am concerned, it is simply unseemly to feel that anything justifies violence against others. In denigrating others, criticizing or attempting to ridicule others, their beliefs, their history, their customs, one demonstrates gross ignorance, but it's unlikely that this can be construed as justification toward violence.

Professor Moon reached the conclusion that it is simply impractical to deal with group defamation or deleterious stereotyping through the commissions, and hate crimes should be better left to the laws in place to protect against real instances of promoting hate. Prejudice, he points out, is so pervasive in society, rearing its socially ugly head continually through sheer ignorance, that it cannot be battled through the human rights commissions.

Which should return to their original purpose of protecting minorities from abuse based on their ethnic origin, colour, religion, when employment or housing is not available to individuals because of social prejudice. In a country proud of its institutionalized and socially accepted freedoms and guarantees of equality, this simple function, called upon less frequently than when the commissions were inaugurated should remain their primary function.

Several of Professor Moon's recommendations make very good sense; that the CHRC and its provincial counterparts should carefully vet the complaints that come across their desks for appropriateness, and not obligingly accept each and every complaint as though they all have equal merit. And that police should be prepared to make better use of the law that can have the effect of forcing Internet service providers to remove hate propaganda.

Another, that provinces should establish "Hate Crime Teams" comprised of police and prosecutors smacks of a totalitarian state, albeit in the pursuit of a worthwhile end. Better yet, to raise the awareness of the responsibilities inherent in parenthood, teaching impressionable young people of the equality of all people in this society by patterning.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Peace, Brotherhood, Goodwill

A place of perfect serenity, where the three religions born in the Middle East converge on the holy city of Jerusalem, praised in singing verse and sublime song; beloved and cherished fabled city of yore. Judaism claimed Jerusalem as the site of its hallowed belief in monotheism, a single, all-powerful, all-seeing, God whose will must be done. And yet so did Christianity whose Christ figure claimed to be the living son of God, and who preached and prayed and died there, for all of humankind.

Wait, there is Islam, for it too with its sacred belief in the city's singular presence through the Prophet Mohammed's identity as Allah's messenger claiming Jerusalem as its own. And what does that omniscient, omnipresent, patiently long-suffering Spirit do to solve the dilemma of three claimants, variants on His holy presence, direction and demands? Like any indulgent yet disciplinary parent, sighs and leaves it for them to figure out for themselves.

Despite which, they do not, they squabble, they claim and counter-claim, threaten and badger one another in the hope that a millennium or so will tire the other to relent and forego claims to ownership. Could not the children live in some semblance of harmony in their Father's Mansion? Passions, emotions, enmities conspire otherwise. They are but feeble imitations of their progenitors, above all their Creator.

The authenticity of the original claimants is not to be denied, yet some among them will, for the sake of peace and harmony, submit to the unthinkable; dividing their sacred city "If I forget thee Jerusalem..." ("If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither, let my tongue cleave to my palate if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy."). A sacrifice distinctly unpalatable to others.

To those who, having enjoyed a long period of stewardship over the holy city - and who chose to deny Judaism access to its holiest of holies, the assertiveness that the city is theirs too, and that portion which they claim, hosting the third most sacred site in Islam, must be ceded to them or the threat of ongoing bloodshed will become ineffable reality - nothing but division will suffice.

To those who venerate the holiness of ancient legend of Roman antiquity where there was no particular singularity in crucifixion as a common cure for insubordination or criminality, the city glows with a vast penumbra of God's blessing, that very place where He allowed His living son's mortality to become forfeit for the tutelage of a stubbornly unbelieving, earth-centric population. Knowing His son ascended to His side, the people relented, embraced Heaven and rejected Hell.

And as Arab battles Jew in a never-ending cycle of violence and bloodshed, so too do the Protestants, the Roman Catholics, the Orthodox contingents in the church of the Holy Sepulchre disdain and bitterly resist one another's rites and rights.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Discriminating Differences

Yes, there's only one human race. We are differentiated by surface appearance, purely facade variations in skin colour, facial features, traditions and customs. Human beings are curious creatures; we enjoy noting differences between ourselves, like criticizing one another because we always come away feeling somewhat superior, that nature has bestowed her best upon us in particular, as opposed to the unfortunately deleterious endowments given others.

We like to feel superior, to feel above and beyond. To feel that somehow, someone is less well off than we are. We're socially and emotionally infantile, to say the least. But most of us are coming around to the realization that there is nothing very much that separates us from one another. We're emotionally similar. Our physical needs and psychological gratifications are all the same. And so are our resentments of one another. We could do with a little more 'civilization'.

And we're getting there, slowly but surely. Take the Province of Ontario, for example. Fifty years ago there were scant few dark faces in a sea of white, olive and pale yellow. And the white and the olive and the pale yellow lived separately from one another, in their own enclaves. The white in the majority and preferentially; the others minorities and less materially endowed, but struggling to advance.

We've been monumentally transformed. Where once emigration was largely comprised of those from the British Isles, then Europe and the Commonwealth countries, we've gradually opened our borders to every country of the world, taking in political refugees and economic migrants and family-class immigrants to enrich the social structure of the province. Walk down any city in Canada and you see a kaleidoscope of colours in comfortable ease.

It feels good, and it works very well. And, as though to consolidate and mark official that observation, the province of Ontario through its premier charged the province's first black cabinet minister and its former Supreme Court chief justice with an official investigation into the state of the province's acceptance of the reality of a multifaceted communion of visible minorities absorbed by the larger majority.

They met with visible minority groups, community leaders, criminologists and any interested parties invested in making their voices and their opinions heard on the state of society in Ontario. The reason for the initiative was to try to understand why there was a proliferation of youth gangs and youth crimes, including shooting and knifing deaths among youth from disadvantaged minority groups.

Many Ontarians felt they knew why street culture took the place of stable family relations. Absent male figures in one-parent families where mothers were out working and no one around to monitor, care for, enthuse, value-infuse, direct and discipline children. And then there is also the ever present claims of latent prejudice at work, lack of job opportunities.

But if parents don't teach their children the value of self-discipline, school attendance, achieving, respect for others, steady work and opportunity advancement through a dedication to ongoing learning opportunities, then employment does become scarce. Lack of qualifications, of adequate education, or an inability to adequately present as a potential employee are reasonable culprits.

Still, the brace of investigators into cause and effect came to the conclusion that "Racism is worse than it was a generation ago, while there are fewer resources and structures to counter this great evil than existed in years past". According to Alvin Curling and Roy McMurtry,"Racism is alive and well and wreaking its deeply harmful effects on Ontarians."

Dreadful news. If it is in fact true. But thus spoke the judgement from those two highly respected individuals in the release of their "Review of the Roots of Youth Violence". Yes, there is evidence of racism in public places, expressed through bullying, graffiti, comments and racist jokes and profiling. Such attitudes cannot ever be completely extirpated from public spaces.

Society will never be completely cleansed of superiority expressed by some over the perceived inferiority of others; scorn heaped on minorities because of their visible or cultural differences. In societies that were uniformly white or black there has historically, traditionally, been the separation of class and culture, of tribes and clans; the exalted and prized status and the repressed and degraded ones.

This is an expression of base, and basic human nature. Everyone, no matter who they are, where they live, how they react, is exposed throughout life to adversity of one kind or another. Some people are inherently open and accepting of others, finding them no different than they themselves are. Others instinctively seem to gravitate to adversarial positions with respect to those different than themselves.

But to claim that Ontario has regressed as an accepting, open and equal society is quite simply inaccurate and untrue. Rather, prejudice is a shifting occurrence; as one tidal wave of immigrants came into the country, then another, each experienced its own drawn-out incidence of degraded incivility from those who had come before. The Chinese, the Jewish, the Indian, the Caribbean and the Muslim waves all engendered a social backlash.

When their residence and commonality became commonplace over time, resistance waned and acceptance resulted. Antagonism of people toward one another has an ancient heritage of territorial dominance and survival. We've come a long way, and still have a long journey to travel before we become fully emotionally integrated as a single race.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

United Nations and Human Rights Observations

As tenuous a hold as the Canadian-led campaign felt it had on securing the upper hand within the General Assembly of the United Nations, strenuous and ongoing attempts to sway international delegates to the camp of those who sit in judgement of the world's worst human rights violators did meet with success. Canada may have led the move to isolate Iran for its egregiously inhumane human rights record, but it had the active backing and assistance of another forty-two countries, this year.

Canada's position was a fairly lonely one last year when the resolution passed by a mere two votes, and in previous years when Canada's persistence in labelling and shaming Iran before the United Nations resulted in a snarlingly-defensive Iran launching its own defamatory campaign against Canada for purported human rights abuses. Citing the condition of Canada's aboriginal communities, its presumed ill treatment of immigrants and of women, to support the counter-accusation.

Fortunately for Canada, its politics and social system is fairly well known throughout the world that recognizes Canada as a politically moderate, fair and reasonable country whose population is comprised of emigrants from countries everywhere who oppress their own. Canada's egalitarian values and assurances of equality and freedoms set out in our Charter represent much of the reason that migrants choose to immigrate to Canada.

And its reputation as a wealthy country that pulls its weight in offering aid to underdeveloped countries has assured that its reputation of decency is fairly widespread. Effectively reducing the scope and acceptance of Iran's derogatory attempts to defame the country. Still, there are enough countries whose own poor human rights records leave them open to the potential of being outed, isolated and shamed, to ensure that Iran would have its supporters.

Including countries who border Iran, with good reason to fear unpleasant consequences if they dared to support the Canadian-led resolution to censure Iran. As well as other countries whose poverty renders them susceptible to bribery from Iran in exchange for political support. In total, making for a suspenseful waiting game, to see out a vote which might have gone either way. To the detriment of the United Nations.

The key UN General Assembly committee convened to determine the outcome of the resolution's status, however, saw a slim margin of victory for Canada's determination to shame Iran. And in a 70-51 vote (with 60 abstentions), the committee dismissed Iran's attempted enterprise for the assemblage to refuse consideration of a shopping list of Iran's human rights abuses.

The United Nations assembly was agreed, in a majority vote that Tehran exercised its totalitarian authority to restrict free speech, to utilize torture as a method of control, and persistently engage in persecution of dissenters. As an expression of world opinion, the acceptance of the resolution stands as a uniform censure of a country - the Islamic Republic of Iran - that rules by fear and intimidation.

Amnesty International has expressed fears that an Iranian woman who stands convicted of adultery may receive the kind of punishment that fanatical Islam deems required for her sin; to be buried up to her chest and stoned to death. A repeat of a sentence that recently took place in another Islamic country. The stones, it is delicately pointed out, should be small, so as to inflict damage incrementally, maximizing suffering to reflect the severity of the crime.

Cited also are the crackdowns against journalists, parliamentarians, students, clerics and academics whose more moderate Islamic leanings render them an affront to the fundamentalist Ayatollahs and the elected politicians - as exemplified by Iran's President Ahmadinejad - whose persecution is warranted for peaceful expressions of political views other than those of the rigidly-imposing Ayatollahs'.

The closing down of news media that print state-critical views, and blocking of Internet sites further cloister the country.

The resolution itself cited such concerns as the execution of children; torture, and violently degrading punishments such as physical amputations, flogging and stoning; entrenched and systematic discrimination against females; persecution of political opponents; harsh and often deadly discrimination against minorities such as Christians, Jews, Sunni Muslims and Baha'i, generally resulting in arbitrary arrest and detention.

Iran's dependence on state executions as just punishment led to the documentation of 108 such final measures of supreme control over the populace, giving Iran the distinction of representing as the world's second most prolific executioner of its citizens, after China.

The country's belligerence toward others in the Middle East, its obvious search for hegemonic dominance, allied with its strenuous efforts to attain nuclear weaponry all confirm its status as a world-class menace.

With this latest measure of success in outlining the various ways in which Iran asserts itself through terror and state-sanctioned torture and murder, those who can differentiate between justice and injustice made the choice to stand firmly in the balance for justice.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

United Nations and Human Rights Observations

There it goes again, the annual tugfest between the government of Canada and that of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Canada, determined to label and have Iran officially recognized as a world-class human rights abusing nation, facing off against an equally determined Iran, well prepared to influence its way out of its yearly dilemma of having its dirty linen hung out to dry for all to view with the implicit censure it deserves.

Canada the good, the country that practises what it preaches, in a balanced and free society whose constitution and laws protect the vulnerable, and encourage the country to value the homogeneity of community derived from an immigrant population emanating from the four corners of the Globe. As opposed to Iran whose rigidly fundamentalist theocracy recognizes only its freedom to tyrannize and threaten those among its population who foment dissent.

Canada's own very personal run-in with Iran's violently repressive regime through the incarceration, torture, rape and murder of a Canadian-Iranian woman accused of being a spy, has hardened its resolve to isolate Iran as an belligerently violent human rights abuser. In presenting this year's draft resolution to label Iran what its practises prove it to be, Canada also cites the arrest and detention of those who practise the Baha'i faith.

Whom the Islamic Republic treats with rigid antipathy, labelling them apostates of Islam, thus deserving of punishment. Much as Iranian alternate-gendered are treated, along with Iranians covertly attempting to overthrow the Islamist regime. The strict separation of the sexes, the demand for proper all-encompassing attire for women, the strictures against anything deemed to be Western influenced; other evidence of abusive governmental actions against its population.

Canada's representative to the United Nations, along with its Foreign Affairs Minister and its Minister of State, have been strenuously lobbying for support among the 192 member delegates of the UN General Assembly. But Iran's lobbying efforts may yet result in defying Canada's intent, beyond the slim margin of last year's two-vote success in passing its censure on Iran.

Iran's aim is to pervert Canada's campaign, by convincing enough third-world delegates to support a "no action" motion. Focusing on countries whose own human rights records are fragile enough that they fear they too may be singled out for censure. Offering technical assistance to emerging economies is one way Iran may prevail; another is to commiserate with countries nursing a grievance against the West, like Serbia.

And then there are countries like Afghanistan which, though dependent on Canada's troop support, monetary and diplomatic and administrative support along with infrastructure-building support, will give its support to Iran, fearful of its neighbour's capacity to sow unrest in its border provinces. Countries like Kenya and Ethiopia, which receive Canadian aid funding will nonetheless give their allegiance to Iran in exchange for investment offers.

This, while the International Atomic Energy Agency has announced Iran is planning to begin installation of another 3,000 centrifuges in several months' time, to augment its already-installed 3,800, busily processing enriched uranium. Its agenda leading to producing sufficient enriched uranium for use in nuclear weaponry is well understood and universally decried.

For such an unabashedly aggressive and threatening regime - which proves its neighbourliness by publicly and repeatedly promising to annihilate the State of Israel - to prevail in forestalling Canada's resolution, speaks once again of the failure of the United Nations as a peace-keeping, moderating voice in the world community.

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An Unfolding Realization

Quite the story. That of a young boy growing up in South Korea with the memory of his social activist father's long absences from the family, incarcerated for his state-embarrassing proclivity of championing democracy in a country not too appreciative of his efforts. "In my life, I've had only three meals with my dad", said Jean-Baptiste Kim in an interview. His family was blacklisted, his mother having to beg for food for her family. He grew up hating his country.

And at age 18 made his way to France. There he was discovered by a North Korean who understood how useful the intelligent, capable young man with his ability to communicate could be, recruited to assist North Korea. All the more appealing because of his hatred for South Korea. And he recruited Jean-Baptiste Kim, brought him to North Korea and taught him about all the wonderful, socially activist initiatives the regime was advancing on behalf of its people.

"He became my father. Everything he told me, I believed. Everything he asked me to do, I did." He was set up as a businessman in North Korea, where he intermingled with a social, political and business elite. His communication and language skills were useful to the North Koreans in spreading propaganda. To Mr. Kim, however, this was not propaganda. He passionately believed in the goodness of the regime.

He involved himself in political interviews where he steadfastly defended his new country. North Korea was materially poor, he asserted, but no more so than many countries elsewhere. And it was the brutal antipathy of the Western powers that continued to ensure that North Korea remained poor. The maintenance of U.S. troops in South Korea, fifty years following the Korean war, sustained an atmosphere of aggression.

He acted for over a decade as the official spokesman for Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il, trying to convince the international media of his leader's sterling qualities. He had no evident knowledge of the 1990s famine that killed a million North Koreans, because he was able to live a lavish lifestyle bestowed on all of Dear Leader's cronies, with sumptuous meals and personal servants and lavish hotel accommodation to see to his needs.

The thought occurred to him several years back that he could launch a grand, sweeping social event to capture the interest of the international community, to which musicians around the world could be invited. A rock festival to take place in Pyonyang which he would call "Rock for Peace", featuring 'capitalist' bands. Funds could be raised for charitable purposes within the country.

The regime agreed as long as no act would sing of "admirations on war, sex, violence, murder, drug, rape, non-governmental society, imperialism, colonialism, racism, anti-DPRK and anti-socialism". It is left to the imagination why any rock group might want to take part in such a festival, other than for the perceived intrigue of visiting such a closed society and having a look for themselves.

It's also amazing that rock groups might find any subjects to celebrate in song left to them given the scope of the forbidden subjects they must not touch on. Love of country, love of another, affection for animals, raising children, tough love, and miserable jobs one might love to leave might be material, possibly, for expansion. Yet hundreds of rock bands responded from around the world.

As a result of which, the pleased regime gave Mr. Kim permission to roam about the country, unaccompanied, in search of a concert venue. And in October of 2006 he did just that, visiting parts of the country he had never before encountered. "Ordinary places, with ordinary people. Small towns, small farms." And what he saw astounded him, woke him from his somnabulent complacency, and revealed the true inner face of North Korea.

Widespread malnutrition, people without decent housing, clothing; unemployed, completely indigent, with no assistance forthcoming from their government. "The life of the ordinary people is horrible. Miserable. I can't ever forget what I've seen. People were wearing clothes that hadn't been washed in a year. It was October, and kids were walking around without shoes.

"There was a small man, about my age - and he was no taller than my little daughter. He was a soldier, and he was carrying a Kalashnikov over one shoulder. The rifle was taller than him. And the reason? Because there's nothing to eat." This revelation of the true state of degraded affairs in the country he so staunchly defended to the world at large, defeated him as a spokesperson for the regime.

He lives now in a suburb of London, England, where he has placed numerous locks on his door, anticipating that he can be shot at any time by North Korean agents. He is convinced that sanctions against North Korea will never work to bring it into the world community. Nor is forcible intervention a potential for regime change, since North Korea has the world's fourth-largest standing army on permanent alert.

Possibly he overlooks the fact that the very army regulars - not the hierarchy - in North Korea's huge army - cognizant of the fact that not only are they fed starvation rations, but their families back home in the countryside are fed nothing at all - might not, if put to the test, choose to defend their heartlessly tyrannical ruler.

As for large standing armies; the population of Pakistan is half that of the United States, yet Pakistan has a standing army twice the size of that of the U.S. Much good it has done them in defending their country against the vile depredations of the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Mr. Kim retains his searing hatred for South Korea, seen by the rest of the world as a beacon of enterprise, conciliatory toward North Korea. A country whose citizens, unlike that of the North, live comfortable and aspirational lives for future social and material advancement. Yet knowing what he does about the reality of life in North Korea, he retains an affection for the country.

He feels that only economic, cultural and social exchange will be able to signal some significant change for the better for that bleakly closeted country; only then will acceptance become possible, and relief for the misery of the population be accomplished. How that is remotely possible as long as the country is in bondage to its totalitarian megalomaniac is another story.

On the other hand, it's entirely possible that Dear Leader has expired, or is close to so doing. And then, and only then, salvation for the country and its people may perhaps be eventually achievable.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tin Pot Dictators

Whoops, the popularity of socialist-devoted Hugo Chavez appears to be fast evaporating. Oh, not so fast, it's been happening for quite a while. It is, however, accelerating rapidly. He's no longer able to buy himself into the good graces of those whom he promises and doesn't deliver, like the indigent populations of Venezuela. He's less able now, to sprinkle the largess of the country's oil profits to other, less resource-wealthy neighbours.

The facade of a rebel leader ranting against the unfair bullying of Western powers against the politically and economically weaker segments of the global community is beginning to unravel. The great, kind, avuncular benefactor of the poor and the downtrodden, he who cares so deeply about the well-being of the poor even in wealthy America, he who rails against the tyrannical rule of capitalist colonialist-minded predators, reveals another face.

One so hungry for power that his estranged wife led a campaign to deny him the right to re-write the country's constitution to enable him to rule for a lifetime. One whose personally-aggrandizing agenda became too much for even his trusted defence minister to support, inspiring him to campaign against his leader. Who responded by abducting his former minister of defence.

Now facing critical electoral losses in important areas of the country, he emulates the dictators whom he boasted he replaced with a governance of the people by the people for the people; he being the successful triumvirate at the helm. He disqualifies and threatens with prison those opposition candidates who have become popular with the electorate.

He speaks darkly of sending troops into those regions ungrateful enough not to recognize their own well being, by opposing his rule and opting to dislodge him from power through the power of the ballot. He has constricted the news media, revoking the licenses of those who irritate him by their opposition to him; initiated others that become his propaganda tool.

He encourages support among those whose loyalties can still be bought by bribing them with alcohol and ready cash. The poor in Venezuela, trusting him initially, enthusiastically greeting him as their liberator, investing him with the ability and the will to spread more of the country's oil wealth among them to allow them a better lifestyle, now know him for what he represents.

His loyal followers, the Chavistas, remain loyal, for it is through his generous auspices that they have become wealthy beyond their aspirations, so wed to the purchase and ownership of gas-guzzling Hummers that they've their own assembly plant in the country. Oil money has enabled the new wealthy to own Rolex's, imbibe costly liquor, establish country clubs.

This is a man who has endeared himself to the world's worst tyrants. He expressed compassion for the dreadfully misunderstood, West-beleaguered Robert Mugabe, overlooking the plight of a country facing starvation and endemic disease in support of a bestial megalomaniac. Like rotating to like. His unflinching admiration for the Iranian Ayatollahs and the Revolutionary Guard-led Parliament has cemented other friendships.

Mr. Chavez, a staunch defender of human rights, is prepared to defend his "revolution" by any means, force if required. That very same revolution that brought no relief to the country's poor, those who cannot amass the funding to own cars, where fuel sells for $.6 a gallon, but staples like milk, rice beans and corn flour are becoming increasingly expensive for straitened budgets.

Still, with his faltering financial status, and ever lower prices per barrel of oil, he manages to support Nicaragua, Bolivia and Cuba with ready cash, his brothers-at-arms in the social revolution to end all revolutions. And is set to celebrate his elite political connections with a joint naval exercise with Russia, very soon.

Happily aware that this will further infuriate his enemies, while ingratiating himself where it really counts.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

U Get Junk?

It's an eternally irritating problem, the proliferation of junk e-mails forwarded to computer users world-wide, annoying the hell out of people through the useless and nastily time-consuming diligence required to identify and eliminate the nuisances. Let alone the problems of those creepy predator viruses and malware that some spamware includes, clogging up the arteries of our computers by using them as a medium to further proliferate these pestiferous messages.

A California company, an web-hosting service that claims it doesn't monitor how its customers use its services, has been shut down, having been accused of presenting as a opportunistic tool as a clearing house for a large portion of the world's junk e-mail. Now isn't that a huge relief? But of course, a temporary one, since the services that this company, McColo Corp., provided will be swiftly picked up by another unscrupulous company in the near future.

And the huge amount of these electronic missive-nuisances will resume, cluttering up in-boxes everywhere. These bulk advertisements or invitations to look into products of questionable value, along with phony money-making schemes are voluminously headache-inducing. Surprisingly, however, a study illustrated that while a mere one in every 12.5 million junk e-mails is responded to, spammers are still getting rich.

Hard to believe, but the figures tell us that more than 100 billion of these junk e-mails are sent out each and every day. Mostly representing the societally-averse vocation of fewer than 200 spammers. Spam senders used the auspices of this company's servers to forward commands to immense numbers of personal computers around the world that they had managed to hijack for their nefarious purposes.

Imagine, computer owners innocent of the fact that the slowdown in their computers' effectiveness isn't just busy Internet traffic, or to be attributed to an ageing computer, but because some clever spammer managed through writing intrusive software to compromise their computers. Effectively making robotic helpers out of them, harnessing collective power to enable them to send ever more messages into the ether.

Within two days of this company having been closed, the 153-billion e-mail messages normally sent through rogue servers had dropped significantly to 64-billion, according to an Internet security company, IronPort. Unfortunately, this won't make much of a difference to those huge numbers of malware-compromised computers, since once, unknown to them, their machine has been co-opted, it will continue to send out spam.

What a mess.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Inspiring Leadership

Good on Canada, the political aspirational field is just bursting with a new field of leaders prepared to surpass all expectations, fired by the enthusiasm experienced second-hand, south of our border. We'll look for our own fiery, yet quietly controlled leadership material, those that are imbued with a vision for the future, and the calm resolve to meet adversity head on, leading us steadfastly through the disasters of our time toward success.

Worried about our fragile environment and the manner in which Canada may best cope with the responsibilities inherent in a wealthy country's abilities to innovate and make sacrifices for our future? Look no further, the Green party is ready to take us into victory on a scale hitherto not yet imagined. Look what happened in America! And here is the redoubtable leader of the Greens, Elizabeth May.

Her leadership throughout the course of our just-completed election was truly inspired; to cross Canada via train, and greet small-town Canada, inciting us to vote. And vote we most certainly did, for no fewer than 840,747 Canadians gave their votes to the Greens. Result? Not a single seat in the House of Commons. What? Their leader lost in her choice of ridings?

Well, stubborn is as stubborn does, and Ms. May in her wisdom, determined the riding for her was one where she was up against Conservative Cabinet Minister Peter MacKay, a family dynasty of leadership in Nova Scotia, where most voters would never see past the gravy train that the MacKays have presented over the years. Yet she vows to run in that very same riding of Central Nova again. That's some leader.

Then there's the Liberal Party, the once-labelled 'natural governing party of Canada', come undone through the unspeakable shenanigans and outright wink-wink corruption ladled on with the Jean Chretien successions, patching up differences, and re-assembling to present as a brand new party for the future. Our future, with, once again, a chastened and determined Liberal government.

The three leadership candidates have been engaging in a bit of a scrum resulting in a rather unseemly public row of acerbic blame and finger-pointing. These are two adults in their early 60s, whose friendship has somehow come undone with both butting heads against their perceived privilege of 'me first' on the inner edge. We've the complacently smirking Michael Ignatieff and the whining floor-crosser, Bob Rae.

Almost forget the third candidate, the young pup of 40, son of a former Governor-General. Dominic LeBlanc whose major platform appears to be that the party cannot move forward under the direction of tired old sticks, but is in dire need of young blood; like his. Dominic LeBlanc, distinguished by his father's appointment as head of state, while he, sitting in parliament for the last 8 years remains an unknown quantity.

This is leadership material? Almost forgot; we, the Canadian public, have recently undergone a vote and look at that, we've got someone with a vision for Canada, a moderate, intelligent, young political figure of integrity and good judgement whose accomplishments for Canada's well being are many, and we've good reason to anticipate much, much more to come.

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Monday, November 17, 2008


Every society has its budding hoodlums, its social outcasts, its aspiring gang members, its psychotic offenders running amok through communities and leaving havoc in the wake of their rampages. From their earliest years when they indulge in the destruction of public and private property, finding this gleeful enterprise to their liking, to their later years, sowing fear through their violent destructiveness and the volatility of their collective aspirations to violate society's norms.

How much worse can it get when teens eschew school for the greater pleasures of life on the street with their comrades in arms, their street gangs, the camaraderie of illicit and societally-forbidden enterprise. From car theft to home invasions, inter-gang rivalries and street shootings, they weave their web of violations, flouting the laws of the land, and exhibiting no compassion for those whose lives they destroy in their rampaging violence.

Innocent bystanders shot in the event where gang members face off against one another on street corners. Drive-by shootings, leaving some dead, others wounded. And the community from which they derive huddles in fear, revealing no details to law authorities, fearing for their own safety and that of their children should they be seen to be aiding the police. The general silence that settles over low-income housing estates victimizes the entire community.

For nothing will arrest the activities of the thugs who, despite their depredations on their own society - and the wider community - are able to go on about whatever it is they do, without fear of detection. And when good fortune somehow assists an investigation and those responsible for causing death are apprehended, 'social activists' rise in anger, claiming that the youth are not responsible for what a miserable childhood has led them to.

Six youth ranging in age from 15 to 17 were recently picked up and charged with 52 offences, ranging from robbery to assault, in downtown Toronto. Where they used a metal device - a hammer, a meat tenderizer, to beat random victims ranging in age from 18 to 48, resulting in serious facial and head injuries - while robbing their victims. Punching and kicking individuals they surrounded, inflicting wounds with the steel tenderizer.

Just a fun night out on the town. And the police appearing in court were anxiously attempting to block the release of the marauding youths "because of the severity of the violence". And what timing; the farcical release of a study, the "Roots of Youth Violence", commissioned by the Province of Ontario, coming to the conclusion that social dysfunction and criminality in the city's housing projects occur as a result of endemic, systemic social racism.

This, in a country that has institutionalized and encouraged racial tolerance and communality of purpose in society, where laws mitigate against racism, where the country's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, ensure civility and equality of opportunity. In the United States, Bill Cosby and Barack Obama lashed out at the black community's pathology of absent fathers and disaffected family situations, where the community accepts street youth culture with equanimity.

It is reality, not racism, to observe that social and assisted housing enclaves house single-parent families where the sole parent raising young children abrogates responsibility in teaching ethics and morality, failing to instill the value of education, releasing children into a street environment where the youth rely for emotional support on one another, not parents, and where street crime is endemic and where admiration for drug pushers is fact leading to emulation.

The phenomenon of illegal gun ownership among 'disadvantaged' youth in Toronto has resulted in a horrendous number of homicides. Canadian authorities are currently in the process of having the U.S. co-operate in the extradition of a Chicago-area gun smuggler who succeeded in illegally bringing several hundred handguns into Canada. Of the crime-related guns seized by Toronto police in the last several years, 70% have been supplied illegally from the United States.

Several hundred shooting incidents in Toronto have taken place, resulting in 35 deaths. Some thirty illegal firearms have been traced to the ownership of a Chicago-based arms dealer who illegally smuggled 234 firearms across the U.S. border into Canada. Firearms registered to Ugur Yildiz of Chicago, have been found in Toronto, Barrie, Waterloo, Guelph, Sudbury and Bradford, Ontario.

This man is an obvious supporter of youth entitlement to life in the fast lane of localized enterprising drug trade, of the excitement of living in a community hosting a number of street gangs in frenetically violent opposition to one another; an avuncular champion of murder and mayhem.

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Engineering a Renascent Economy

The problem is a cataclysmic loss, not only of market liquidity, but of faith in the restoration of a healthy international financial situation any time soon. Investor confidence has evaporated, as those who still have money to invest simply do not know where to turn, and those whose investments have disappeared into the ether, remain stunned and unresponding in their grief and uncertainty.

Occasional sparks of hope light up the world financial atmosphere when governments from America to China, the European Union to India, Russia to Saudi Arabia, announce tentative but hopeful initiatives to restore stability and encourage investors. But when a monumental structure has collapsed, astonishing those who have striven painstakingly to erect it year over year - anticipating hefty returns - the failure is stunning.

Government intervention in a free market economy has traditionally been seen as interference where it is not needed, that the market naturally regulates itself, for it is in its own best interests that it do so. One would think. And then one should recall the propensity of human nature to rarely be satisfied with a reasonable return on investment, striving continually for quick and easy money.

Some measure of oversight, reasonable in nature, insufficient to stifle entrepreneurship and a spirited degree of innovation, is never a truly bad idea; think of it as insurance against the venomous poison of human venality. Unfettered capitalism, where good sense and balance is defenestrated, leads to the victimization of a very large segment of society.

So, now that collapse is universal and deep and has managed to spread the virus of uncertainty and unwillingness, what is the solution? Why the most respected political and academic minds of the world's leading economic institutions have rendered a confused and unsettling set of standard operating procedures to face down this collapse that no one can say will succeed.

Try, then try again. With each pronouncement of government intervention, meant to soothe the jangled nerves of the financial community, stock markets plunge ever deeper, currencies sink, the fortunes of countries plummet, people panic as jobs are lost and with them peoples' hope for the future. What has taken decades and decades of hard work to acquire and accumulate suddenly wafts away as though it never really existed.

And some of it never really did; paper promissories without collateral value. Value it; blink and it's gone. However, governments and their leading financial experts are generally agreed that countries rely on their financial institutions, their banks and lending institutions, to oil the wheels of industry and commerce, to enable people to purchase goods and services and to live comfortable lives.

Bail out industries as well? Where will it stop? Mortgage the future of countries' debts and annual deficits to the greed of huge corporations whose decision-making and ineptly produced products geared toward failure of performance for the larger purpose of ensuring employment in an anxious population?

General Motors Corp., Chrysler LLC and Ford Motor Co. represent iconic America-based industries, and hundreds of thousands of employees in their companies and allied industries are dependent on their existence, but did the United States step in to save its metallurgy industry from extinction when steel production went elsewhere in the world?

Give up billions in taxpayer funding to restore fiscal equilibrium to three giant vehicle manufacturers which have all paid lip service to meaningful research and innovation, steadily churning out deficit-laden mechanics, energy-burning monstrosities, ignoring the success of foreign auto makers whose attention to high performance and economics have left them in the dust?

Reward revoltingly high-paid CEOs for leading their miserably managed industries into ongoing failure? What a conundrum; government wary of holding back from the industry's outstretched hands for deliverance from collapse. The nightmare of further job losses on a massive scale, more defaulted mortgages and business failures, looms on the near horizon.

And what of those very auto-industry employees and their unions and their job-ruinous demands? Who, even while the corporations that employ them, stand forward and declaim no intention of accepting lower wages and benefits; perpetually entitled unto bankruptcy. No one, it would appear, is responsible, not the executives whose lack of vision inadequately led the industry, nor the unions that bled it.

And there is Canada, on the sidelines, awaiting the inevitable. For the incoming president of the United States has stated categorically that he and his party are determined to bail out the automotive industry in that country, defying the expressed doubts of the Republicans under whose watch this contretemps developed. Canada too, despite its relatively healthy financial state, should be looking to keep its economy in a state of well-bring.

By encouraging its domestic market to remain vibrant, by ensuring there is sufficient liquidity available for credit for companies with sustainable futures and proven profitability and need. The country's focus should remain on its financial markets to shore up credit conditions. But when the U.S. government relents toward offering loans to the auto industry, Canada will by necessity be drawn into a like scenario.

And then one recalls federal and provincial 'loans' and tax breaks and entitlements generously offered to these companies in the past, to ensure that employment remain stable in various parts of the country. Only to have the corporations decide, a half-year on, to close shop nonetheless and move elsewhere. Investment evaporated on the taxpayer dime. Such are crisis management plans.

There are no guarantees for success in any ventures; simply the ongoing need to respond with some modicum of assurance for success. Events propose; time disposes.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry

Now there's a provocative title if there ever was one. Certain to gain attention. And most certainly it will garner much criticism of the authors' conclusions as well. Among those who may not necessarily read the book, but who will read OF the book and its theses, resulting in anger and condemnation and spirited recriminations of racism. It does take a certain amount of courage to tackle the problem of endemic aboriginal neglect in Canada.

The plight of Canada's aboriginal people is not to be taken lightly, for it is a reality. It remains a blot on the body politic, on Canadian society as a whole, and far more so, an indictment of the aboriginal elite who claim to serve the best interests of their communities. Nothing can really undo history. That Europeans landed on the shores of North America and presumed to take ownership of a land already occupied is fact and it is history.

That they found, when they arrived, various settlements of disparate tribes of hunter-gatherers with their own traditions and cultures and spoken history is reality. That Europeans saw a huge, untamed geography with all manner of natural resources, unlike the crowded countries they left behind, spelled boundless opportunity and they weren't about to let the prior occupation of the land restrain their ambitions.

It was ever thus. Part and parcel of the human condition; the struggle to survive and to surmount difficulties. And if, throughout this process, they endowed others with problems in a struggle between the indigenous populations to retain what they felt was theirs, and the upstarts who meant to thwart the aboriginals' need to keep what was theirs and make it their own, it is now long past, and time to live in the present.

The present presenting with another kind of reality. Native peoples living in isolation, in unpractical geographic locations, perhaps suitable for subsistence living a century ago, but not now. Far-flung reserves where there is no employment for the residents, do not reflect the honour of living 'naturally', in respect of 'the traditional way of living' for few now live traditionally.

A mass, hypnotically-induced emotional and social entitlement to historical grievance has hobbled aboriginals from moving forward, entitling themselves to the same kinds of educational, working and social relationships that most of the country takes for granted. By sequestering themselves, and living on government handouts through a systemic and long-honoured focus on guilt and pay-back, aboriginals suffer.

They have forfeited pride in themselves to a false pride of welfare entitlement, leaving them with no opportunities to advance themselves, to become gainfully and proudly employed, to raise their children with needed educational opportunities, to live in decent accommodations, to enjoy a social community with other Canadians. And this they accept because their leaders tell them it is the only way to proceed.

And in doing so they continue to live impoverished lives bereft of meaning and of human pleasure, watching as their children, emulating their elders, live valueless lives, and turn to the mind-deadening relief of alcohol and drug addictions. Fostering a high suicide rate through desperation of conditioning. While their elite political representatives siphon off funds meant to give meaning to their lives.

It doesn't take a genius to understand that we live in a different era, in the modern world, where commerce has overtaken living off the land, and opportunities are absent for furthering the lives of people who insist on living in impoverished, inadequate geographical areas because they have been convinced they have an obligation to their ancestors to do so.

The aboriginal industry is one that benefits few. As long as Canada's aboriginals permit themselves to remain pawns in the hands of their self-availing representatives in tandem with advisers who themselves benefit hugely from their ongoing plight, nothing can be resolved to be of any benefit to the larger communities.

It's long past time this farce of guilt and dependence, defiance of the future and hopeless destiny ceased.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Unaddressed Grief

When is the love of parents for their only child unrequited? When the child is abducted, taken from their home, valued for the riches their warm living bodies as adoptable children represent. The child will inevitably forget, forge a new identity by necessity. And in China, where the one-child-per-family directive obtains, what could conceivably be more disastrous for parents than the loss of their only child?

A personal emotional disaster of monumental proportions. As monumental as the destructive force of the earthquake that hit Sichuan province in northern China, killing 69,000 people and injuring 375,000 more, leaving 4.8 million homeless. The Chinese government was quick to respond with emergency aid, then reeled in horror as parents of thousands of children mourned their deaths, their only children.

Deaths caused by slovenly architecture, by sub-grade materials, by corrupt government officials issuing building contracts to uncaring, corrupt construction companies. And there are also the incidents of abductions of impoverished youth, taken into slavery to work in the most hellish of manufacturing sites, as prisoners, their whereabouts unknown by their frantic families.

Add to that sad and sorry list of misery, the 200,000 missing Chinese children, aged from infancy to ten, taken from the safety and comfort of their loving families by abductors whose sole purpose is to sell the children to intermediaries who themselves sell them to wholesale purveyors of children for grand profit to barren couples desperate for children of their own.

Boy children are high on the list of desirables, the younger the better, to enable them to readily adjust to their new homes. Girl children - in a country that cherishes its boys and begrudges its girls - are less desirable, but homes can be found for them too, on presentation of adequate payment. If not within China, then internationally.

Infant girls will bring their immediate abductors an average of $175 profit, and a grander $1,000 for boys. That profit increases as they go up the chain to the next link, where girls are sold for $400 and boys for $2000. Their last exchange in the criminal abduction chain brings a value of $1500 for girls and $4000 for boys.

Parents must ensure they take greater care for the security of their children? How about a trusted employee of a shop offering to take the shop-owner's little boy to the bathroom, then absconding with him, never to be seen again? How about an abductor walking to the open door of another shop where a child plays in sight of its parents and is swooped up and taken.

How about a young boy left in the care of his grandfather, watching as the child flies his kite high, high in the sky, then disappears forever from the lives of his parents, his grandparent. A U.S. State Department report in 2007 claimed that 20,000 women and children are "trafficked" in the country on an annual basis.

This is an instance of under-reportage, since there are many abductions not recorded, and the official statistics are therefore radically underplaying this massive underworld phenomenon. Police, faced with so many reports of child abductions routinely react by claiming there is insufficient evidence.

Complaints at every level of government appear futile. The problem is so pervasive, so massive, it would appear to arrest the attempts of government agencies to proceed. And then, of course, there is the very real possibility that some government agents are quite simply complicit, paid for their quiescence.

One distraught and determined father, attempting to track down the presence of his son in a geographic area whose residents are known to "adopt" abducted children as their own, by posing as a buyer, was successful in rescuing two kidnapped children, but not his own missing child.

The problem is endemic, accepted in some areas, as a panacea for locals whose childlessness renders them a low opinion in the society they inhabit. Whose social mores find it acceptable enough to adopt kidnapped children with little thought to their provenance and the grief and misery their absence occasions to others.

In the face of such a monumental and massively difficult problem, police develop an unfortunate attitude of defeat, surrendering to the inevitable; a child abducted is a child that never existed. In the words of one father: "Police told me not to search anymore. They said, 'You just take it as if you never had this child before'.

"I was almost paralyzed hearing that. I asked: 'At Chinese New Year when I miss my son, will you be able to lend your son to me for several days?'"

From: Stolen Children, Canwest News Service, Aileen McCabe

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Congratulations India!

Not to be left out in the cold of outer space aimlessly wandering the atmosphere, India has resolved to join that elite club of countries which have succeeded in voyaging to the Moon. India is hugging itself with joy, in self-congratulations at its achievement. And it is quite the achievement.

India joins four other countries in their like achievement; the United States, Russia, Japan and China.

For a 'modest' $80-million, the country succeeded in launching their 1.38-tonne spacecraft into the ether. After a mere three weeks of travel in space the lunar module reached its destination. It sent off a probe to impact upon the Moon, leaving a crater at the south pole, along with the proud flag of India.

India's very own Satish Dhawan Space Centre near Madras in southern India was the dispatch point from whence the module, painted in the colours of nationalist pride, set out in its search for water, minerals and helium-3, while surveying the crust of the lunar surface.

There is an anticipated orbit of two years, with the use of high-resolution remote sensing capabilities for the purpose of compiling a three-dimensional atlas of the Moon, and in the process to completely analyze the surface composition. Quite the feat, no doubt about that.

But if a country like India, with its vast geography and immense population, most of which lived in dire poverty, could divert social-spending funds for the purpose of building nuclear reactors and provisioning itself with the independent pride of nuclear armaments, why not reach for the Moon too?

And in the near future, some two years hence, yet another unmanned lunar mission is to be launched - Chandrayaan-2. A trifle more advanced, this will be comprised of an orbiting spacecraft, and a lander and Moon rover. Yes, it's been done, and is being done elsewhere, but this is not redundancy, this is national pride.

Rather absent, one surmises, when one also considers the immense proportion of poverty in India, with half a billion people living impoverished lives of misery.

Misplaced (com)passion and national pride?

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Saving The Unwary

Is it possible to save people from the repercussions of their unthinking passions? People do have a habit of resisting when onlookers, well-wishers, friends, family members - and perhaps others who have themselves fallen into the trap of burning their bridges - infuriatingly advise them when they really don't want any advice.

The simple fact is when it comes to the emotions, and to what the romantics call 'true love', everyone makes their own mistakes and then lives with them. Or not.

What keeps us coming back for more is that sometimes we luck in, and all things considered, love is reciprocated, and balance of character and personality and aspirations and values achieved to make for a happy ending. And sometimes not.

It's a crap shoot, for the most part. You think you know the person to whom you offer yourself. And if he's somehow different than you, with a different background and culture and traditions, well isn't that romantic?

Not necessarily, as discovered by any number of young women who, heedless to well intentioned advice with respect to the possibility of fiction on the road ahead, proceed regardless. The heart is such a fragile instrument; it brooks no advice.

Time and again young women travel to countries where the culture and the prevailing laws, and the social mores are not quite reflective of those they're familiar with.
Where authority rests with the male figure in a family, and the woman has little to say in the disposition of their children's welfare.

So here's the Bloc Quebecois happily and heartily as is their wont, denouncing the federal government in Canada for abandoning a young Canadian woman in need. Ah, but it was she who married a fellow university student, and in a free country this was her right.

Now there are two children, one born in Canada, the other in Saudi Arabia where Nathalie Morin followed her husband to his home country. Unfortunately, her relationship with Samir Said Abdallah Ramthi Al-Bishi has unaccountably - or predictably - soured. And it is her expressed desire to return to Canada - with her children.

However, they are also his children. And in Saudi Arabia she must pass through legal channels to obtain her desire. Canadian diplomats in Saudi Arabia have advised Ms. Morin that her children's father must approve of her having sole custody of their children, approve of her removing them from his country, to return to Canada.

"Under Saudi law, the father must approve the departure of his children from the country. In the absence of this approval, consular officials cannot facilitate the departure of children without contravening Saudi law." Thus has she been apprised of the legality of her situation by her Canadian representatives abroad.

How could it be otherwise? Were the couple to be residing in Canada, it would be Canadian legal jurisdiction that comes into play. Ms. Morin is carrying another child. She will soon have three children whose welfare will be uppermost in her mind, along with her own.

Her worried father struggles to persuade Prime Minister Harper to intervene. How, reasonably, diplomatically, legally?

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The Liberal Candidate

Yes, 'the' Liberal candidate. There will be others than merely he, but rest assured it is he and he alone who is 'the' candidate and who most certainly will prevail when the April 30 convention is convened in Vancouver, and where in excess of 8,000 delegates will appear representing Canada's 308 federal ridings. He is the current darling of the Liberal caucus. Champing at the leadership-aspiration bit.

We won't even mention the costs involved; two such leadership conventions in so short a time. The paucity of funds in the Liberal machine's war chest. Donations somehow dried up, wonder why? Previous leadership candidates' run for the candidacy still not entirely paid up. Above all, the sorry organizational state of the party. Not to mention the low level of support among the voting public.

Little wonder, given the ineptitude and the corruption that marked the last Liberal-led governments. Canadians only too happy to see the last of the arrogant self-availing of Jean Chretien and the many manifestations of his vulgarity as a street fighter. Not to mention his penchant for entitling himself and his cronies and party faithful to the sty of lucrative self-help.

But there he is, the grandiloquent, effusively intellectual Michael Ignatieff, bored with spreading his cerebral largess on the international scene. Home at long last, to honour Canada with his distinguished presence. Somehow, we liked him so much better through his long sojourn in England, writing impeccable prose. And admired his academic achievements in America. Another absent Canadian.

Did we ask him to relent and infuse this country with the brightness of his vision? He must have heard a call that we weren't aware having dialled. And there he is, with a "burning desire" to defeat Stephen Harper and his Conservative government. He is a forgiving man, he is resilient, he doesn't blame people for their initial lack of enthusiasm with his martyrdom of his career for the good of this country.

But, he's paid his dues, traded off two years in the purgatory of the opposition benches in the House of Commons, for the unfortunately untidy thirty years' absence from the country. And he's all ours, isn't that grand? Every slickly evanescent inch of him, and there's a lot of inches. Canada is the classroom and he the benevolent professor.

His loftily avuncular indulgence of our mass ignorance about what's best for this country can be forgiven; Canadians are, after all, such a dull, moronic lot. We are accustomed to arrogance and patronization, and he's a master at both. We should be very happy together. Above all, he promises to save us from the misrule of the Conservatives.

And how strange it is, for after several years of Conservative rule, we kind of like the person who Prime Minister Stephen Harper is. We've learned to trust his good judgement, his obvious integrity, his intelligence and humanity. In all of which areas he is severely lacking, according to Mr. Ignatieff, who promises to provide all of the above in good measure when he assumes the helm.

"I'm in this not because of me but if we can create a new generation of leaders it would be good for the party, good for democracy..." avers Mr. Ignatieff modestly. It obviously has not occurred to this man that the new generation of leaders has materialized, and one of the best in recent memory is currently residing in Parliament, and he's been very, very good for democracy.

And, of course, for Canada.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Let There Be Light!

Truly, it's counter-intuitive that an authoritarian-verging-on-totalitarian state would decide to relax its grip on news permitted to circulate within its borders, potentially imperilling its capacity to order affairs rigidly and without due thought to the harm that may result to its population. China is determined to eventually reach that desirable place in its history where it can boast that it has achieved complete social harmony.

And to achieve that end, whenever dissent rears its ugly head, the government in Beijing is quick to employ a hammer to bang the resistance back into the framework of complacency, acceptance of whatever it is government orders. Whether it is battling the breakaway aspirations of a Muslim minority, or the desire for autonomy of the people of Tibet, China strikes hard to effect accord. It sees threats inherent in the collective of a quietly devout group like the Falun Gong.

The communist ideology rejects religion, just as under its rigid structure of communism China rejected its long and glorious traditions, its culture, its Buddhist past. Only now is China beginning to understand how much it owes to its past, and respect for that past has become a new government initiative. Just as China has been able to identify the advances available to her through the acceptance of her own style of capitalism.

Yet its need to rigidly control everything that occurs within its borders enslaves it in a rictus of paranoia. Smiling to the world at large, and slamming its fist in closure on internal dissent. Threatening Taiwan on the one hand, and holding out a welcome of Big Brother on the other, planning all the while to eventually draw it into its control. During the Cultural Revolution China was driven to mass tragedy, imposing a will on its people that destroyed millions.

What an impressive sea change in the last few decades. Having much to contend with in providing for a country with the largest population in the world, governance can never be a light burden, and never could it be possible to control all the many ills of society, nor render to the people all that they feel entitled to. But in many areas it cannot be denied that China is trying to fulfil its destiny as a reasonably decent country - while yet failing in others.

A population of 1.3-billion people cannot result in a complacent populace. There will always be something wrong, something of great moment to destroy the peoples' confidence in their government. Whether it's a tardy and inadequate response to a natural disaster, or the perception that the vast countryside's needs are second place to that of the huge and many metropolises in the country, people resist conformity and complain when expectations are not met.

China has admitted to the outside world that all is not yet paradise there. Almost 90,000 riots take place in the country every year. There are millions of people who are unemployed, despite China's emerging economic miracle, now stuttering in a backlash of the international financial collapse. But Beijing finally understands that a boiling kettle with no escape for steam will soon explode.

China is now ready to allow its citizens to vent their frustrations. Its ministry of propaganda - now that's some title - has been authorized to loosen control of the news. The country's president, Hu Jintao, visiting the offices of the 'People's Daily', the government's official newspaper, has announced that the growing incidence of "large-scale public incidents" must be "accurately, objective and uniformly reported, with no tardiness, deception, incompleteness or distortion".


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Emerging Trade Confrontations

The United States of America has a new president whose evaluated potential has Americans and the international community wildly guessing at the changes that may take place in that country's administration of internal and external affairs. While the American public - at least those who voted with their heartstrings for the promised change, responding to the promise that together they can effect needed social change in that country - anticipate a more balanced and fair society that may provide equal opportunities to all its citizens, the international community wonders what other changes may eventuate.

The incoming administration under president-elect Barack Obama has much to focus on. This extraordinary election with its amazing result that has brought to the head of government an unknown political entity with the immense promise of a fair and just society sings of opportunities long denied its racial underbelly. But long before anything constructive can come about to attempt to effectively turn around tired social mores, the new Democratic administration has to begin to shift the Atlas-weighted problems left to it by the outgoing administration.

The collapse of its mighty financial engine is its first and most pressing problem to be addressed. Emergency measures to cope with the economic disaster facing millions of Americans have thus far - and these are early days yet - done nothing to reassure a public facing enormous job losses and the insecurity and demoralization that comes with loss of income. In the face of ongoing industry closures of a magnitude never before seen in that country, with huge industrial interests faltering.

And in the face of that immense and disheartening task, having to reassure and bring along with it to present an allied attempt throughout the world in an interrelated economic relationship, a common strategy whereby all affected countries will attempt to buoy their failing financial institutions and the economic infrastructure they all require to govern well and wisely. One might say the financial collapse is a prime example of government lapses in oversight, complacent with their countries' financial markets' lack of due diligence, embracing greed instead of practical management.

So in the face of those clear and present disasters, where all the financial experts the world over are flummoxed over how best to respond, whether governments should indeed intervene in propping up failed financial institutions, and desperate corporations on the brink of bankruptcy, or sit back and let the market eventually right itself, here is Canada, nervously eyeing her largest trading partner. Although Canada is herself in relatively healthy financial status, when the United States ails, Canada finds itself hospitalized as well.

If the United States is no longer in a strong position to buy Canadian products, we feel the pinch. We too are bleeding jobs as long-established companies shutter their factories and head off to other locations boasting cheaper labour costs. And when our base products and our resources no longer see a ready market across the border, we too begin to slump and lose the opportunity to grow and to advance. Canada is fortunate; still a low unemployment rate overall, with construction still strong.

But apprehensive about what may lie ahead in confronting the reality of a Democratic government next door, which has traditionally been more labour-protective of its own than Republicans, and more given to protectionism across the board. For one thing it is quite likely that the North American Trade Agreement will be renegotiated. While NAFTA has been a positive initiative for all three countries - Mexico, the U.S. and Canada, there have always been trade irritants, and since the U.S. Congress always places U.S. interests first and foremost, fairness has not always resulted.

Canada will be in a position to bargain for more leverage in some areas, particularly energy. And when the three countries go back to the bargaining table, it would be really good if Canada stood fast and insisted that some elements of the current NAFTA deal be taken off the table. That if Canada feels an American company is exporting harmful chemicals to this country, for example, that company will no longer have the right to take the government of this country to court.

And that would work, needless to say, in reverse. Nor would Canadians ever want to be in a position where our fresh water is in danger of being exported to the United States, perennially short of water, particularly in states like California, which is itself environmentally conscious and active, but hasn't yet taught its residents that water is too precious in a dry state, to be used for innumerable backyard swimming pools.

To be fair, negotiators from any of the involved countries have an obligation to see to the well-being of their own populations. But in so doing it should never translate to impoverishing or placing the other trade partner at a distinct disadvantage. In that respect the U.S. has been a trade bully. So perhaps that too can be renegotiated.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More Altruistic Than Judgemental

That's us Canadians. Good people, all. Cognizant of the dire needs of others living in societies which for one reason or another have been unable to deliver the goods of the earth to their people. Canadians are sociable, kindly and unjudgemental of others. And we do see a need to share with others who have not the good fortune to live as well as we do, in our wealthy society.

And here we always think of ourselves as stodgy, boring, smug. Well, we're that too, most certainly, but obviously there are other things to our credit. There must be; a newly released survey by Environics tells us so. We are overwhelmingly nice people. That's a relief. We don't force our beliefs upon others. And that's as it should be. We feel responsible for the well-being of others.

Wait: I've got to give myself a congratulatory hug, before continuing.

All right, moment of self-praise has passed. So, we're not generally condescending, more likely to be conciliatory and helpful. For it would appear that the majority of Canadians would prefer to give a safe haven to American war deserters, rather than support our government's decision to send them back home.

And a majority is opposed to our government's decision to permit Omar Khadr to languish in a U.S. prison, awaiting trial as an enemy combatant, where he is accused of killing an American soldier in Afghanistan in 2002 when he was a stripling of 16. As though teens in combat zones, indoctrinated into militias, are insufficiently aware of the consequences when they kill.

Oops, seems I'm in the minority on that one.

But I'm right in there with the majority where Canadians overwhelmingly support the promotion of human rights, freedom of speech and the press, gender equality and the creation of democratic conditions on foreign soil. Hey, that's 93% of Canadians supporting human rights. How could it be otherwise, in any country?

But when given the choice of selecting the promotion of Canadian values or undertaking the provision of tangible goods such as hospitals, roads and bridges in undeveloped countries, a majority of Canadians came down heavily on supporting the provision of tangible goods.

Makes sense, after all. We have no right to impose our values upon others. Whereas, on the other hand, if we willingly assist others to obtain civic infrastructure through the goodness of our collective hearts, it's just possible it may occur to those blessed by our kindness that our values are worth emulating, no?

Concrete assistance to others trumped a requirement that others conform to our system of values before we would exert ourselves to provide for them. Good on us. And a majority of us feel fairly comfortable about our federal government exerting a positive influence on world affairs.

Go, Canada, go!

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