Depressed, Distraught and deeply Dismayed

One powerful word, recklessly and incorrectly used, has just done irreparable damage to the Reconciliation Movement. This is my personal opinion but as an aged writer who loves the English language and who also loves and respects my country I take deep exception to the MMIWG  report claiming “Canadian Genocide”.

I have long agreed that Canada’s Indigenous peoples have been abominably treated both physically and mentally – sometimes by political design, sometimes by omission, and initially too often by a misguided missionary instinct.  In winter time I have visited sub sub standard homes in Indigenous communities and have been appalled.  And I, who as a youth, learned that one could drink the pure waters of the boreal forest am equally appalled that our society has not only made such drinking water toxic but is sluggishly slow to improve it.  The accounts of Indigenous murdered women and girls are profoundly disturbing and shake my faith in the justice system.  But “genocide?”

Where are the mass graves, the gas chambers, the government organized military assaults on entire villages?  When were our Indian Wars?  In the USA the Indian Wars of the1800s really were aimed at exterminating an entire people.  During those times, when Sitting Bull and his people cleaned Custer’s clock for him and escaped north they were greeted and escorted to new ground by a RNWMP corporal and two constables.  Canada, a homicidal genocidal nation?  Ignorant occasionally, and too often misguided but homicidal towards an entire people?  Come off it.  Genocide implies organized homicide on a mass intentional scale.

Okay, okay.  I know many will argue against that definition and it is their right to do so.  And I have willingly accepted the term “cultural genocide” with reference to the Indian Act, the Residential Schools, and other aberrations.  But there comes a time when in sheer defence of the National Honour and the English language we must call a halt.  This current ill-thought-out attack on both is reprehensible and, as I said, is going to do deep harm to the oh-so-important Reconciliation Movement.

I have listened to the legalese spin from the MMIWG  team spouting the esoteric UN definition of “genocide” which makes it a pretty big tent;  so big it diminishes the words  Holocaust and Rwanda.   Unfortunately, words that may mean something to the lawyers have a simpler intrinsic meaning to the people who in fact own the language.

It is, of course, a symptom of the times.  Corporations assault the English language at will.  They alter the spelling and the meaning to promote their products.  But, more seriously, loose and lazy use smudges the meaning of words and reflects  loose and lazy minds.  When I was a youth the word “decimation” meant exactly what its roots implied.  One in ten.  We were taught that Roman Centurions would dish out severe disciplinary punishment to one in ten of their hundred men. Today, after vast destruction by tornadoes and hurricanes, reporters love to tell us that the area was decimated.  Really?

Case in point.  I myself live in an area that is designated as “The City of Kawartha Lakes”.  One can find many definitions of what a “city” is but most of us have a very clear picture in our mind of big buildings, bustling crowds of people, much traffic, open areas called parks, and no livestock.  But my “city” is the size of an entire county.  It covers 3,059 sq kms, four times the size of Toronto.  It has a population of only 76,000.  It has a more or less central small town and half a dozen hamlets, all lost in the midst of rolling farmland, forest, and large areas of lakes. The uninitiated traveller meets the city`s greeting signs miles from any collection of inhabited buildings and can be forgiven if he or she never does figure out where the so-called “city” is.  It was given a “city”charter by the limp minded Harris government.  It could increase its credentials by building a cathedral in a cow pasture but in my gut I know it is not a “city”.   Such abuse of a word is a crime against the English language and, in my opinion, should be an indictable offence.

I also believe that “Canadian Genocide” is a crime against the English language and, if not indictable, should at least be retracted before it does irremediable harm.  It is a landmine that should be avoided by Indigenous folk and politicians alike.   The success of the Reconciliation Movement depends upon mutual goodwill and is too important to our country for this deeply hurtful and misused verbiage to turn that Movement into collateral damage.

P.M. Trudeau at first only quoted the phrase but eventually reluctantly endorsed it — another one of his several betrayals.  Jagmeet Singh immediately accepted it and as a result I may actually tear up my NDP life membership card.

Enough.

 

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Farce Fantasy Fact Fiction and Fal-de-ral*

I’ve been paying attention to the political scene both at home and abroad and find it bizarre enough to make captivating prime time viewing.  However, until now I have managed to keep from being sucked into the maelstrom of mainstream “entertainment”. Continue reading

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A Fairy Tale For Our Times

Once upon a time just about now there was a Peaceable Kingdom that had a Sovereign but was really ruled by a young man who had been given power by The People using a quaint lottery system.  Simultaneously, by courtesy of The Peoples’ imagination and the puffery  of the press, he had been transformed into a dashing young Prince. Continue reading

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Respectfully Suggested Without a Hope in Hell.

Dear Premier Ford,

Now that you have had almost a year to set your shoulder to the wheel your nose to the grindstone and your best foot forward on behalf of the people and have already passed some remarkably destructive legislation, afflicting everything from education to health to the environment, I respectfully suggest Continue reading

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Wrong End of the Religious Shtik

It was six years ago that the government of La Belle Province tried to make all public employees abandon all personal religious symbols, and they’re at it again!  If it’s fair game for the province to try again then I see no reason that as a blogger I can’t repeat my own reaction of six years ago.  So here, slightly edited, is a repeat from September 11th, 2013, and once again I say, “Let’s Hear it For Religious Symbols!”* Continue reading

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OPERATION TRUTH

We saw it right before our eyes. It was in full colour on TV.  A surgeon sliced open the underbelly of a patient and gave us a glimpse of the grizzly tumour that lay within.

The surgeon was Canada’s recent Attorney General, Jody Wilson-Reybould, M.P.  The operating room was a committee room on Parliament Hill.  The patient was not the governing Liberal Party nor was it, as the Opposition parties vehemently declare, the Prime Minister. The patient was contemporary Democratic Government and the operation, although potentially bloody, was performed with calm skill and may very well turn out to have been a life saver.

The tumour that was selectively revealed was merely the SNC-Lavalin outcropping of a much larger one, lying deeply within, composed of other huge corporate entities – too big to fail, too big to punish – that in reality control the economy.

Parliament makes the laws and the bureaucrats make the regulations.  Recently, caught in the middle of a China/USA legal confrontation, we Canadians were assured and reassured that our country lives by “the rule of law”.  “The rule of law” became a mantra and was rightly endorsed and echoed by all parties.  But in Operation Truth we saw proof that government, seized by the corporate cancer in its bowels, is reluctant to apply the rule of law to the real shapers of the economy who, thanks to holding as hostages thousands of wage-earners in key areas, have become accustomed to side-stepping law.

We’ve watched it for years but, blinded by mythology, have failed to realize that what lies behind discriminatory tax exemptions, selective corporate subsidies, broken treaties, ignored mandatory consultations, depleted water tables, poisoned rivers, boreal forest wastelands, etcetera, is the fact that all parties, when in power, have gradually yielded to the selective bending of laws as a palliative pill to assuage the pain of the malignant growth in the body politic.

I greatly fear that the PM, in trying to justify the tumour that has become nationally embedded, will only further tarnish his own impressive credentials.  If he pushes onward and lets the new Attorney General suture the wound without remedy then the monstrous disease will only grow and fester.

Of course, any Opposition leader who calls for the PM’s resignation, imagining himself as the replacement PM, will simply inherit the disease that his own party in earlier phases has helped to metastasize.  All our leaders, and especially the PM, might do well to own up to the reality of what the truth-surgeon actually exposed in the committee OR.  They might vow to make a concerted co-operative effort to shrink the tumour and to return a healthy democracy to the people.

All of this, of course, is simply my own opinion and is merely based on years of observing the political scene, plus a tendency to read investigative journalism —  and to exploit a metaphor.  🙂

 

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To Hell in a Hand-Basket?

About half a century ago Canada’s 14th Prime Minister (retired), Lester “Mike” Pearson, spoke conversationally into a CBC film camera and said:

“Because we have problems facing this country that are so far removed from anything we have ever had in the past, and so far beyond the ability of our ordinary Parliamentary and executive process to deal with them quickly, I just don’t know what we are going to do.”

Did Mike Pearson think the world was going to hell in a hand-basket?  Sounded like it.

About six years after Mike made that gloomy statement, I, as a fifty year old family man, would return home after an evening’s chat with my very alert but 88 year old father and report rather wearily to my wife that the old man was sure the world was going to hell in a hand-basket.

Just last week, speaking to a Parliamentary committee, Michael Werner, the esteemed Clerk of the Privy Council, made an unexpected outburst about the decline in bipartisanship amongst parliamentarians, about the “vomitorium of social media”, and the dangers of politicians whipping up potential assassins.  “I’m deeply concerned,” he said, “about my country right now and its politics and where it’s headed.”

Mr. Werner’s comments sent me digging into the somewhat limited digital archives of my personal computer.  What I found were a few pages of a photocopy of the very transcript of Mr. Pearson’s CBC’s filmed interview that I used years ago while editing his remarks for the TV screen, and from which I have quoted above.*

Those conversational remarks, very slightly edited here for compression, are worth pondering.  More specifically than Mr. Werner’s, they concern the very machinery of government.  And remember – Mr. Pearson was talking half a century ago.

Mr. Pearson: It seems to me that things have become more difficult in the last ten years for any individual person, and I think this is not peculiar to Canada.  I think it is peculiar to every democratic sort of Parliamentary-Congressional democracy. We have become overwhelmed with complexity and the variety of the expansion of our problems, and they’ve got beyond us. I think our own government in Ottawa, at the present time [Pierre Trudeau’s Liberals], is a very good example of this.

They very rightly, when they came into office, decided that they would modernize, make more efficient, the machinery of government around the Prime Minister and the Privy Council Office and in the Departments, and they would streamline and make more effective Parliamentary process. They brought in new men.  They brought in new methods. They brought in new hopes, too, that they’d be able to do this, and they are just as badly bogged down in spite of everything as I was five or six years ago trying to get things through.

As a matter of fact, they may be worse off than I was because there is one virtue in ad hoc government.  You can adjust yourself to changes easily as they occur.  There is also a virtue in having a Prime Minister who has some of the disadvantages that I’ve talked about in terms of myself.  I was so inexperienced, almost naive in some aspects of politics that I didn’t understand the political difficulties in the way of some of the things that I wanted to do, so I went ahead and did them.

Now if you try to adapt your machinery of government in an organized way, as a sort of scientific-technical process to the problems today, I don’t think you’ll get very far.  Any further than you used to do in the old method.

So what are we going to do?

Because we have problems facing this country that are so far removed from anything we have ever had in the past, and so far beyond the ability of our ordinary Parliamentary and executive process to deal with them quickly, I just don’t know what we are going to do.

Somebody said the other day that there are fifty-three items of legislation the Government would like to get through Parliament.  They can’t do it.

Now this is what makes me most depressed about the whole future, nationally and internationally.  Nationally, that we are not going to be able to adapt our institutions and our Parliamentary and Democratic processes to the requirements of all these new problems.  Why even now in the House of Commons, when we tried to streamline our rules and regulations and to reconcile the requirements of Parliamentary discussion with the even greater requirement of facing up to the problems, there is a tendency to look at that in terms of a threat to Parliamentary democracy of the 19th century, and while nobody could believe more in discussion as the prelude to agreement or disagreement – that’s been my whole life; that’s diplomacy – I get very worried about the ability to relate this kind of thing to new conditions.

Internationally it’s even worse, but it’s even simpler.  Falling back as we seem to be now, more so than ten years ago, falling back on National Sovereignty, National pride, National interests, and we’ve had examples of it in our own country – each nation for itself, God for us all – this kind of attitude at a time when we have discovered ways of destroying the Globe – to talk in terms of international 19th century power politics at this day and age – well, it’s just tragic nonsense.  And yet when I talk about this now I get less of a response than I would have ten years ago.

We’re not as frightened as we were ten years or twenty years ago, and if I’ve learned one thing from my international experience, more than anything else, it is that the progress toward internationalism, toward international organization and international action in international life is very often related to a crisis or a fear, and if the crisis is resolved or the fear becomes diminished by custom, then you fall back on the same old shop-worn national attitudes and institutions of a hundred years ago, and this planet can’t live with them, not in the days of nuclear energy, and everything else that’s happening to the planet.

You know, it’s interesting that when we talked in San Francisco – that wasn’t so long ago; twenty-five years ago [1945]– about the problems the world faced after World War 11, we didn’t even mention, apart from the ultimate problem of war and peace, we didn’t even mention the major problems that are facing us today, in the environment, ecology, population, all that kind of thing, the sea bed, outer space. We’ve moved that far in twenty-five years, but how far have we moved in our thinking, and in the reflection of our thinking in institutions?  Not very far.

So what do we make of it?  Well, I for one, take heart. Each generation at the end of its allotted time span is sure the world is going to hell in a hand-basket.  At 92 I am convinced that it is.  But the fact remains – we’re still here, still plodding onward.  So – is there a moral to all this?  I believe so.

When we realize that when Pearson mentioned “major problems” he was not concerned about the now pending global problem of gigantic Climate Chaos nor was he acutely aware of the new Empires, the new Colonizers – Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Chem, Big Agro, Big etc. – the corporate entities we have since hallucinated into a reality more real than ourselves and who in reality shape the economy.

The democratic political machinery is our only defence and, if I read Pearson correctly, we can no longer let ultra partisanship and 19th century thinking impede the reformation of 19th century institutions whose arcane structures impede necessary action.  Add the “vomitorium of social media” and we would do well to gain some compassion and empathy for any well-intentioned well-informed leaders who make honest attempts to contain the chaos .  They deserve encouragement.  Those who seek partisan advantage by increasing the chaos deserve our disdain.

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 *Transcript from a portion of the raw material for Episode 13 of                                           “First Person Singular – the Pearson memoirs ” (CBC TV)                                                 Munroe Scott Fonds, Trent U Archives

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Let’s Change “Change”

Happy New Year folks, and please pardon that whistling-in-the-dark use of the word “Happy”.

Only God knows (and I hear He’s resigned) what our southern cousins are up to these days but for us Canucks we’ve got a very important federal election coming up near the end of the year and we’ve sure got to get our act together. Continue reading

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Halleluiah! Kudos to The United Church of Canada!

As a layman I wish to extend congratulations to The United Church. It is an organization in which my roots are deeply entwined but one to which I have not always been kind – as you will see if you check back in this blog on postings such as“United Church Challenge” and “UC of Canute”. (See August 2012 and September 2016)

But now in all fairness I must say how absolutely relieved and pleased I was to read a recent release about the outcome of the “heresy trial” the United Church has been inflicting upon its ordained but self-styled atheist minister, Rev. Gretta Vosper, and her loyal Westhill congregation.  The inquisition has been going on for several years and some time ago a judgement had been reached that Gretta was “unfit” to serve.  Only the sentencing was in doubt and that was to be settled in an elaborate “hearing” this past week.  Through it all the Church has carefully avoided the words “trial” and “heresy” while lay people have been calling a spade a spade.

However, marvellous to say, early this week the “hearing” seemed to evaporate, a decision was made and in an online statement the United Church Observer reported that:

Atheist Toronto United Church minister Gretta Vosper will be allowed to keep her job. Toronto Conference, Vosper and West Hill United Church said in a joint statement Wednesday that the parties had “settled all outstanding issues between them.”

Gretta’s Westhill congregation’s own jubilant announcement included a phrase that was even more revealing:

[O]n November 6th, the United Church of Canada decided that Gretta and West Hill can carry on in ministry without restrictions;(Emphasis mine)

“Without restrictions” means that Gretta can continue to serve as a self-identified “atheist” minister which, in my opinion, means she can and will continue with great integrity to attempt to unravel the complex web of words that make up outdated theological jargon much of which dates back to primal superstitions, unscientific conjecture, and mythologized history.  If the word “atheist” attached to an ordained minister in a major Protestant denomination makes many of us do some hard headed defining of what we ourselves really mean by the words we use then, in my opinion, much of Gretta’s objective will be realized.

I must say that as an out-of-town visitor whenever I drop into a Westhill service I find myself experiencing jargon-free intelligent discourse, empathy and compassion for the afflicted, acute awareness of the wider world, openness to ideas and social action, and downright warm love for others.  All of this seems to me to be very much in line with what Jesus taught.  And never do I feel I must check my intellect, such as it is, at the door.

It is my opinion that November 6th 2018 should go down in history as a red letter day. A major Canadian Protestant denomination has refused to reject theological honesty.  In this super-scientific era when religions paradoxically can give cover to seemingly barbaric beliefs and actions Gretta and the United Church may stimulate us all to re-evaluate our own beliefs and to act accordingly.

By the way, if anyone wishes to go into some background on all this they would do well to check a 2016 article by Mike Milne (titled “Unsuitable”) and also flagged by The Observer in the link above.  It’s rather long but informative.

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Climate Change Pledge

Are you too calm? I’m far too calm. Most of us are bloody well too calm.

It’s already more than a week since I heard the UN Secretary-General sound a call to arms to fend off catastrophic climate change and it seems to me our leaders are still dithering.  Provinces are still squabbling with Ottawa; a destructive extractive economy is still said to be compatible with a healthy environment;  “tax” is still being used as a dirty word and “taxpayers” are made to feel like indentured servants instead of citizen contributors; monster machines and voracious corporations together are still despoiling the boreal forest; we are being told that oil cannot be left in the ground even though in the ground is exactly where Nature locked it away; pipelines are still promoted as long as they export fossil pollution; potential job loss appears to be more of a threat than species extinction; so on ad nauseum.

Like most of us, I too have been sitting on my ageing fattening rear end but what can individuals do? Well, if enough of us get together perhaps we can help our leaders focus their minds on the priority.  Human survival.

Prairie Fire

Add hurricane, flood, desertification, rising oceans and mass migrations

Here’s my proposal. It’s a bit rough yet and maybe I’m nuts but hey, maybe it’s not me who’s nuts. Tell me what you think. Please do.
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CLIMATE CHANGE PLEDGE

I hereby affirm that I fully agree with the concerns voiced by the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, in a speech* delivered on Oct. 10th, 2018, in support of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report issued two days previously.  In brief, the Secretary-General said:

“We [the human species] face a direct existential threat…. If we do not change course by 2020, we risk missing the point [2030] where we can avoid runaway climate change, with disastrous consequences for people and all the natural systems that sustain us. …That is why, today, I am appealing for leadership – from politicians, from business and scientists, and from the public everywhere…. We have the tools to make our actions effective…. There is no more time to waste…. the world is changing before our eyes. We are careering towards the edge of the abyss. …Every day we fail to act is a day that we step a little closer towards a fate that none of us wants – a fate that will resonate through generations in the damage done to humankind and life on earth. Our fate is in our hands. The world is counting on all of us to rise to the challenge before it’s too late….”

Consequently I hereby pledge that:
● I will not vote for or support any political party either Federal or Provincial that does not quickly and aggressively put Climate Change at the very top of its list of priorities.
● If I belong to a political party that does not quickly agree to making Climate Change its number one priority I will resign that membership.
● I will not support any candidate or party that does not demonstrate a collegial approach to finding and implementing Climate Change solutions.
● I will not vote for or even waste my time listening to any politician or candidate – Federal, Provincial, or Municipal – who does not endorse the Secretary-General’s call to action and demonstrate a working knowledge of the Secretary-General’s statement.

My pledge will be activated as soon as 50,000 fellow Canadians have also taken it.

Signature:________________                           Date: ____________________
* The Secretary-General’s full statement can be found at: https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/statement/2018-09-10/secretary-generals-remarks-climate-change-delivered

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Note: The 50,000 figure is a shot in the dark.  Obviously if only a few take the pledge then  we are virtually removing ourselves from political action.  On the other hand, large numbers become politically effective.  So — what do you think?

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