Democracy over Poetry, for today, anyway

the regina mom is currently on retreat at her favourite Catholic monastery in rural Saskatchewan.  Try as she might, she is unable to fully concentrate on the poetry while the current attack to Canadian democracy is underway.

It’s become pretty clear that the Harper regime will stop at no end to promote the greed of the corporations, particularly those into resource extraction.  The environment and environmental groups, science and scientists and scientific libraries — all are game, fair or otherwise, for him.  As are the people of our First Nations, women, veterans, unionized workers and anything else that gets in his way — including the Canada Elections Act.

Last week, his government introduced what they mistakenly called the Fair Elections Act, about which political columnist, Andrew Coyne, says,

It’s a bizarre bill. But the government is plainly proud of it: so proud that it refused to consult with the chief electoral officer on its contents; so proud that it is now being rushed through Parliament with a bare minimum of debate, using the government’s power of time allocation. And what problem was that intended to solve?

trm is not sure she agrees on the pride angle, thinking perhaps it’s more like arrogance, a “nyah-nyah” to the forces of democracy in Canada, the thousands and thousands of activists who have been tireless in their campaigns to raise awareness about the attacks on our freedoms and our long-standing traditions.

Marc Mayrand, Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer, expressed deep concern about the new Bill in this interview on CBC Radio’s, The House, which everyone should listen to.

He is right to be concerned.  After Vic Toews’ nasty letter calling out environmentalists as terrorists, trm took a look at Naomi Wolf’s blueprint for how open societies become closed societies.   trm examined Canada in that light and found it frightening then.  That was two years ago!  Much more has happened since, and only some of it referenced in the links above. The window is closing, and closing quickly.

Hold the window open, Canada!  Sign the Council of Canadians petition which will be presented in the House of Commons tomorrow.  Also consider participating in the Hold the Phone: Call for Democracy campaign tomorrow, Monday, February 10.  There are, apparently, some Conservative backbenchers who aren’t strongly supportive of this recent attack on democracy.  The calls may sway them enough to make a difference to our future as a democratic state.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.  –Jack Layton

Post-conversation with Ray Boughen, MP for Palliser

the regina mom received a call from her Member of Parliament, Ray Boughen, this afternoon.  He said it was in response to her call about two University of Regina international students facing deportation but she had not, in fact, called.  She had emailed but didn’t press that fact with him.  In hindsight she suspects he must be feeling some heat over the issue since it hit the front page of the local daily.  When asked about his silence over it he said it is not his place to speak to that issue, that the Speaker, MP for Regina Qu’Appelle, Andrew Scheer, has spoken to it. He said he waits for his turn to speak and will be speaking on Aboriginal issues next week.

That led to a conversation about democratic process, the lack of political will for democratic process, followed by a tirade on trm‘s part.  She began with the lack of a national childcare strategy, filled the middle with the lack of support for single parent women and increased poverty in Canada and ended with a few stats on the increased numbers of people using food banks. That’s about when he accused trm of being a partisan and she defended herself claiming her feminist activism of more than 25 years and her being a mother of two young adults as the basis for her statements.  But still, he tried to dismiss her concerns as being partisan ones. trm suggested that he should read her blog.

When he attempted to blame the SK NDP government for the social problems she had mentioned, trm really let loose, informing him that yes, from time-to-time she has supported the NDP but did not support Roy and the boyz and their debt and deficit-cutting measures.  She also reminded him that she is a writer and as such, a researcher, one who bases her words on what she reads in books and on fact-based evidence.  His response was that we’re using different facts in our discussion.

So she switched her tune to the China-Canada FIPA and compared it to the FTA with the USA, mentioning how the former locks us in for 31 years and the latter allows us to give 6 months notice if we choose to break the agreement.

By that time he was really bumbling and went back to the earlier piece about democracy so trm mentioned Motion 312 about which he seemed to have no clue, suggesting it was a Bill, obviously not hearing what trm was saying. She reminded him that it was a Motion put forward by MP Stephen Woodworth as an attempt to reopen the abortion debate and noted that he supported it in spite of what his colleague, MP Gordon O’Connor, had said. He couldn’t recall what O’Connor had said so trm suggested he look it up on YouTube.  He said he didn’t have time so perhaps trm could tell him.  She did. Then he proceeded to parrot Woodsworth, saying that it wasn’t about reopening the abortion debate, blah-blah-blah. trm laughed and reminded him that he really needed to read her blog.

Seeing that she was on a bit of a role, trm then brought up the other F-word, fascism. She noted that even the right-wing Liberal, Michael Ignatieff, is using that word these days. He bumbled some more and wouldn’t listen, kept interrupting her and soon thereafter she told him this conversation was a waste of her time and his and hung up. As she pulled the receiver from her ear she could hear him saying another call was coming in and he had to go. A likely story. There were no phones ringing off the hook in the background; he said that to save face.

Though there’s much more that went on in the conversation, trm knows without a doubt that she has a useless excuse for a representative in Ottawa and maintains her adoption of MP for Churchill, Niki Ashton, as her MP.

Canada creeps toward becoming a closed society

Nick Fillmore asks a question the regina mom has been grappling with for years: “Is Stephen Harper displaying fascist-like tendencies?” Ever since Naomi Wolf published “Ten Steps To Close Down an Open Society” at the Huffington Post in April, 2007, an essay has been brewing on trm‘s computer.  (Yes, trm admits to being a slow writer.)

Wolf’s research for that article became the book, The End of America, which documents “how open societies become closed societies.” Her family’s friends, Holocaust survivors, urged her to explore a few texts and the result was what she called a “blueprint” that has been adapted by several societies when making a shift from an open to a closed society.  In the HuffPo piece she named ten significant pieces of the blueprint and showed how they were at work in the USA at that time.

To complement Nick Fillmore’s work, trm thought she’d finally share, in point form, what she discovered by placing Wolf’s blueprint on Canada.

1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy

  • What’s more terrifying to a parent than ‘child pornographers’?  According to Vic Toews, the regina mom’s opposition to Bill C-30 — the Snoop and Spy bill — means that she stands with “the child pornographers”.  How does that make a mother feel?
  • Women should be used to it, perhaps.  Years ago, the Prime Minister suggested women’s groups are of the “left-wing fringe.”
  • More recently, as trm has noted, on the eve of the Joint Energy Board’s hearings on the Northern Gateway Pipeline, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver had choice words to describe those in opposition to the proposed pipeline.  He painted “environmental and other radical groups” as those wanting to “block this opportunity to diversify our trade” regardless “the cost to Canadian families in lost jobs and economic growth.” The groups have a “radical ideological agenda” and will “exploit any loophole they can find” to “kill good projects” with “funding from foreign special interest groups to undermine Canada’s national economic interest.”

2. Create a gulag

3. Develop a thug caste

  • The Fifth Estate‘s documentary, Out of Control, about the suicide of Ashley Smith when she was improperly incarcerated in a penitentiary and allowed to die. [Warning: It is difficult to watch.]

4. Set up an internal surveillance system

  • Since 9/11 Canadians have witnessed an alarming increase in surveillance measures.  Are the new airport scanners and procedures are part of the scheme?

5. Harass citizens’ groups

  • Forest Ethics supports its former employee in his allegations that the PMO is trying to “to silence and intimidate non profit organizations like ForestEthics, and the thousands of citizens and civil groups who, like us, are concerned about the direction this country is taking and are speaking out.

6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release

  • G20 protests were an exercise in arbitrary detention and release and suspension of civil rights, as pieced together by CBC’s The Fifth Estate.
  • Saskatoon’s “Starlight Tours” as highlighted in the NFB film Two Worlds Colliding, about the freezing death of Neil Stonechild at the hands of Saskatoon police officers.

7. Target key individuals

  • Franke James is a visual artist with a strong ecological leaning whose federal government funding for a show in Croatia was “suddenly cancelled by Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa, with the words, ‘Who was the idiot who approved an art show by that woman, Franke James?‘”  She has asked and is currently awaiting a meeting with her MP, Joe Oliver, who announced he would meet with environmentalists if asked.

8. Control the press

  • Early on in the Conservatives’ mandate the PMO set in motion new ways of co-ordinating and disseminating of news and information by the government of Canada.

9. Dissent equals treason

  • Item #5 above identifies ForestEthics as a harassed citizens’ group. It’s former employee Andrew Frank maintains that he and other employees were told the PMO considered them to be enemies of the state.
  • Recently, Canadians were advised that they may be placed on counter-terrorism watch lists if they are involved in “the promotion of various causes such as animal rights, white supremacy, environmentalism and anti-capitalism” activities.

10. Suspend the rule of law

  • The conservative government has twice prorogued Parliament while critical debates and actions were underway that may have toppled the Minority government.

 

 

As you can clearly see, dear Reader, Canada is active in every area of the blueprint Wolf found.  And, up against Nick Fillmore’s piece, there is definitely overlap.  Canada is creeping towards closing down as a society, to becoming a fascist state.

Our democracy is very fragile.  Hold onto her tightly.

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