"A Citizen"s Eye View"

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Is Thomas Mulcair's $15/hour Minimum Wage Empty Politicking?

The "Bearded Wonder" certainly
has folks abuzz this weekend.
Well good old Tommy certainly has folks all abuzz this weekend with his talk of introducing a federal minimum wage hike to $15 per hour. 

After a rather tepid summer for the NDP in which their only newsworthy announcement was their parroting of the Reform-a-Cons indecent position on the willful destruction of  Gaza, this comes as some good news. 

Yes, they've definitely scooped the Cons and the Libs with a truly positive suggestion for reducing wage inequality (at least a little), reducing poverty (somewhat) and giving consumers more ability to consume (which in the end, is good for the economy...right?) They even have a catchy phrase to go along with it: "People who work full time shouldn't have to live in poverty". 

So the "Bearded Wonder's" plan is to introduce this bill in Parliament within the next few weeks and folks from coast to coast to coast are all enthusiastic that something good might finally be coming their way from Ottawa. 

But hold on a moment! The Reform-a-Cons have a majority in the House, which they tend to wield like a sledge hammer. Everyone knows they are pro big business, free markets, privatization, small government and definitely against anything remotely Socialistic. Mulcair's bill, even if it has full Liberal support (which it won't, most of them will probably have someplace better to be when it comes time to vote) doesn't have a western journalist in Syria's chance of survival. So what the hell is he thinking?
Stephen Harper's collection of
festering Bridge Trolls!

That's the beauty of being the opposition party in a majority government. You can introduce any kind of bill, no matter how outlandish - a free pony to every child born in the month of May for example - knowing full well it will be voted down and you'll never be held responsible for it. The purpose is to make the Government look like a nasty bunch of festering bridge trolls...which they are of course. 

So is this little ray of hope and sunshine from the NDP nothing but an empty gesture aimed at playing politics at the expense of the Evil Empire? Well of course it is. But it's a little more than that too.

Since the Cons have introduced the notion of the perpetual campaign to the Canadian political scene, all three main party's have been jostling for the limelight. Thus far, the photogenic Prince Justin seems to have done the better job of this with his perpetual message of "hope, hope and more hope". He's not really saying what exactly we're hoping for as yet, but hey, anything is better than four more years of Harper and his merry band of bobble-heads. 

All the while, Mulcair has been plodding along, being perhaps, the best Opposition leader in recent memory. But being good at roasting the government in Question Period doesn't really score a lot of points with the GP (general public). NO one watches CPAC (except for journalists and political junkies) so most folks don't really "get" just how good Tommy is at his job.

So with 2015 just around the corner this $15 minimum wage bill is certainly a good way of getting the GP talking about the NDP again and you can bet that it will be a central plank in their 2015 election platform. And by forcing the Cons to unanimously vote the bill down, you can bet Mulcair will be reminding us at every turn how Citizen Stephen and the Harpercondriacs don't want Canadians to make a decent living wage. Because they're evil and all.

So what are the chances of this bill ever receiving any serious discussion? Well, none in the current Parliament. But there is a very good chance that the next Government will be a minority, so if the Dippers can hold on to the momentum they gained in 2011, they could well be in a position to wield some significant clout. If they're not the outright governing party, they could be the ones holding the votes that sustain whom ever is in the driver's seat. And with the skillful use of "give and take politics", that's a pretty good place to be sitting.

So in the short term, Tom's minimum wage bill might seem like some empty politicking, but in the long term, there might actually be a glimmer of hope of him actually pulling this off. But to do this, he has to keep his momentum going and keep people talking about the NDP. This weekend, he's done just that. 

An idea who's time is long overdue?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Do No Harm: The 10 Commandments, Redux or 10 Simple Guidelines for a Peaceful Co-existence.

Being that I don't subscribe to any one religion in any kind of traditional way,I guess it could be said that I'm somewhat of an atheist. It's not that I don't believe in god. It's just that I don't believe in him/her in the "biblical" sense. 

That being said though, I do like the concept of the Ten Commandments. A simple, codified set of rules to suggest how we can all live together in peace and harmony. Whether you believe they are the actual word of God or that Moses was just significantly pissed with the behaviour of his people and went off into the mountains to devise a way of dealing with them, they aren't a bad set of guidelines for civilized co-existence

The problem is, I feel, that "the ten rules for civilized behaviour" were etched in stone thousands of years ago when - let's face it - the world was a different place. We and our civilization have evolved since then, in some ways for the good and in others, not so much. Events in the world today - the horrendous way we are treating each other, including in the so-called "Holy Land" itself, indicates that we have very much strayed from our rules of civilized behaviour. So having a universal set of guidelines for governing our co-existence is still a good thing, but the ones we have might seem redundant because of their archaic nature. 

With this in mind then, I have attempted to update our universal guidelines to make them a little more relevant to our modern world. They can be applied to EVERYONE, even atheists. So readers can ponder them, share them, or disregard them as they see fit. But remember, they aren't so much "commandments" anymore because anti authoritarian types like myself hate to be commanded to do ANYTHING. They are merely ten simple guidelines for civilized co-existence


1) The old: Do not worship any other god than the one true God.

The NewIt's all good! You can worship any god you want, or no god at all. Just remember, everyone is entitled to live their life their own way so long as they don't harm anyone else because of it. And no one has the right to inflict their way of life or system of beliefs on others, or to stand in judgement of anyone else because of their beliefs. So live and let live and do no harm. 


2) The OldDo not make idols or images in the form of God.

The NewWho gives a fuck about Kim Kardashian! We tend to idolize people in our world simply because they are famous and pretty, be they pop singers, actors or athletes. Most of these people contribute nothing whatsoever to our society except avoidance, distraction and a devalued sense of self worth and are about as deserving of our adoration as common garden slugs. Remember, when you are trying to decide  whether to buy food this week or pay your rent, they are sipping champagne at an exclusive night club somewhere. And YOU paid for their life style with your worship.  


3) The OldDo not treat God's name lightly or with disrespect.

The NewRespect all people's concept of God. It just isn't cool to disrespect other people's concept of God or lack thereof.

4) The OldDedicate or set aside a regular day each week for sabbath rest  and worship. 

The NewWork to live, don't live to work. It's great if you have a career that you love. Most of us don't. We have jobs that pay the bills and put food on the table - period! For many, we work more than one of these jobs. It's called survival. But whether you have a satisfying career or simply a means of paying the bills, take time to be grateful for whatever it is you have and to smell the roses. Take time for your family  and friends. Jobs don't enrich our lives. People do. 


5) The OldGive honor to your father and mother.

The New: Acknowledge your roots. Your parents might have been nothing but drunken, abusive fucks. But they gave you life, even if they didn't intend to. And life is the greatest gift in the universe, even if it doesn't always seem like it. So Even if your parents didn't do shit for you in any other way and you can't stand them otherwise, be thankful that because of  them, you exist. And appreciate where you came from, be it a country, a culture, a religion or just the old neighbourhood. It's part of who you  are. So never be ashamed of your roots or where you come from. Embrace it. By doing so, you are better able to love yourself. 


6) The OldDo not deliberately kill a fellow human being.

The NewEveryone has a right to exist. Taking another human life is a crime against nature and the universal order of things. So murder is murder, whether it be a street crime, state sanctioned execution or war. No one has the right to deprive another person of their inalienable right to exist. 


7) The Old: Do not have sexual relations with anyone other than your  spouse.

The NewResponsible sex. Originally, people had sex strictly for the purpose of procreation. Which is cool. But sex in itself is also a pretty cool thing. What ever the reason for two people being intimate, the bonding of two consenting humans is a beautiful thing. But it is something that should not be taken lightly. Respect your partner. Treat them with decency, courtesy and tenderness. Protect yourselves whether it's from disease or unwanted pregnancy. And No means No. Nobody has the right to force themselves on another. Remember Do No Harm. Also, there are many different definitions as to who or what a spouse is now. But if you've entered into a trust relationship with someone else, the         quickest way to kill that trust is to fuck around on them. 


8) The OldDo not steal or take anything that doesn't belong to you.

The New: Jail sucks! So if you don't want to go to jail, don't take shit from people who measure their own self worth by the amount of stuff they have. Anyone who values their shit more than people, will see you in jail quicker than you can blink your eyes. In some less than civilized places, they might also shoot you though this is clearly not in keeping with the spirit of Do No Harm


9) The OldDo not tell a lie about someone or bring a false accusation against another.

The NewDon't talk shit! This is definitely a lesson our politicians should learn. A lie is a lie, but so is a half truth or a misrepresentation thereof. And gossip kills so don't talk shit about someone behind their back. If you hear someone else doing it, stay out of it, walk away. Just think about what they might have to say about you behind your back. Always remember, Karma is a bitch so do no harm


10) The OldDo not desire anything or anyone that does not belong to you.

The NewNever place anybody or anything they might have above you or your own personal happiness. The measure of  your own self worth has absolutely nothing to do with anyone else. By being envious of someone else's possessions, status or station in life, you are simply diminishing your own personal value and creating  spiritual inequality. Remember, no one is any better than anyone else, no matter what they tell you or how they act or what kind of car they drive. In fact, people who collect a lot of expensive shit probably have a pretty poor sense of self worth so pity them. 


Please bear in mind fellow space travellers, that these amended guidelines are simply my own opinion. They've probably been expressed by countless others in many different and vastly more coherent ways. So take what you want from my humble offering, or take nothing at all. But if there is one message I do sincerely hope that readers embrace from the above regarding their coexistence with others, it is this: Do no Harm!

Friday, August 15, 2014

What John Baird Said In His Latest Speech (Video)


Friday, August 1, 2014

Gaza As A Ballot Box Issue In 2015

Our home sweet Gazan home!

So being enraged by the senseless slaughter of innocent people in Gaza - children bombed while they sleep in supposedly safe U.N. schools, children being killed while they play soccer on the beach, the destruction of schools, hospitals and Mosques, children being murdered as they play on swings in public parks - I decided to voice my opinion to our leadership who have been anything but leaders regarding this horrific state of affairs.

Our government has steadfastly stood by the Israeli state, claiming that it's Israel's right to defend themselves, so "oh well" about the collateral damage. "It's all the terrorists fault". I'm quite sure none of those sleeping children were terrorists. This reminds me of the case in the States recently where a guy shot and killed a pregnant women who attempted to burgle his house. The overarching opinion of folks south of the border seems to be that it was the woman's own fault for being caught committing a crime. The man was simply defending his home so he had a right to "bust a cap into her baby belly". No one there is talking about murder or the un-justified use of lethal force.

Anyway, Our Government is in no way seeking an end to the slaughter, merely stoking the flames of discontent by pointing the "flying fickle finger of fate" at the very people who are dying in their hundreds. It's their own fault for supporting Hamas so "fuck em"!

I would expect nothing less from our Conservative Government. They have displayed nothing
There are only friends and enemies to
Citizen Stephen. Friends can do no wrong
and enemies can do no right. 
even remotely close to a balanced approach to affairs in Israel. Stephen Harper is incapable of that kind of response. He sees the world as black and white, friends and enemies. It's connected to his mental health issues. And the fact that Citizen Stephen dismisses out of hand any condemnation by the U.N. regarding Gaza, is also not surprising. He's been at war with the U.N ever since Canada was denied a seat on the security council in 2010, thus placing the U.N squarely in the enemy's column.

So the response from Harper and his hand-puppet, Bellicose John Baird, while reprehensible, is not surprising. But what about our Opposition leaders? Why does Justine Trudeau, the great hope for a new and different Canada seem to follow lockstep, Harper's unmitigated support for Israel's war crimes? The official statement on the Liberal Party website regarding Hamas as being a terrorist organization and Israel having the right to defend itself parrots almost to the letter the Harper response. Hardly the stance of a progressive Liberal leader.
The "Once and Future King" has
lost his way.
And what about Thomas Mulcair, leader of the opposition and Canada's traditionally most progressive party? Well Mr. Mulcair's stance was somewhat more balanced, but he still chose to point a bony finger at Hamas, saying it's "all their fault" while declaring Israel has the right to defend itself. No mention of excessive force, breaching of international law, illegal occupation or, heaven help us, the "G" word (genocide). Just like the Conservatives and Liberals. I somehow doubt that this is the kind of response we would have seen from Jack Layton's NDP.

Which brings me to Elizabeth May and the Greens. At their recent convention, the Green Party voted to adopt a resolution which decried the illegal occupation of Palestinian land. This was a good start. But then the president of the party, Paul Estrin, put out a rambling, poorly written statement (possibly penned whilst in a drunken stupor?) That actually goes beyond Harper's and Trudeau's highly political statements about the Gaza crisis. He declared he openly felt sad that Israel simply had to take the steps it's taking to defend itself and claimed that it's methods were highly "moral". Ms. May quickly distanced herself from these comments while defending Estrin's right to his own opinion.

So like many, many Canadians, I am beyond anger and frustration regarding our collective leadership's lack of a balanced, neutral approach to the current Gaza humanitarian crisis. One that not only expresses discontent with rockets fired from Gaza (which have killed very few civilians by the way) but the ones fired indiscriminately into masses of defenseless Palestinian civilians. There's nothing wrong with one friend saying to another: "hey, we're still your friend, but what you're doing is wrong". So I emailed each of the four leaders mentioned above plus my Member of Parliament, NDP Deputy Leader David Christopherson, to highlight my extreme displeasure with their lack of leadership and unbalanced positions regarding Gaza. So far, the only person who has responded is Elizabeth May. Here is what she had to say: 

Even the Greens are divided
"Thank you for writing about the situation in Gaza and Israel.

I am heartbroken to watch such death, destruction, and violence with seemingly no end in sight. In recent days, the death toll has soared to unspeakable numbers, mostly civilians. With each death, the prospect of a lasting peace seems further away.

I firmly believe that Israeli children and Palestinian children have an equal right to grow up free of bombardment. This should not be a controversial statement. While I, of course, condemn Hamas as a terrorist organization for sending rockets into Israel, the Israeli retaliation and the invasion of Gaza violates international law and humanitarian norms. The death and destruction in a place that was already experiencing a humanitarian crisis is simply unjustifiable.

At the recent national convention in Fredericton, the Green Party of Canada passed the following emergency resolution:

Be it resolved that the GPC urges the immediate cessation of hostilities between Israel and Palestine. The GPC will adopt a posture of engaged neutrality, opening all available diplomatic avenues in both Palestine and Israel to press for a peaceful resolution to the conflict consistent with the GPC’s commitment to justice and custom of speaking truth to power.

The people of Israel and Palestine desperately need a ceasefire. They desperately need this battle to end so that they can return to resolving the enduring issues in this conflict. The people of the Middle East cannot afford to have this flare up so tragically every few years. The issues of the blockade of Gaza, settlements in the West Bank, permanent borders, refugees, and terror, will need to be dealt with in a cooperative and comprehensive manner, so that Israeli and Palestinian children can grow up without fear and without hatred.

Canada can and should play a constructive role in this process. A one-sided stance on this issue forfeits any opportunity for Canada to be a useful mediator. Canada needs to stand up for human rights and international law wherever they are violated. Canada should continue to condemn Hamas rockets and terror but any Prime Minister of Canada worth his or her salt would also say, as a friend and ally of Israel, “you’ve gone too far - you must move to peace talks.”

Thank you again for writing.


Elizabeth May"

2015 is fast approaching fellow citizens. While the tragedy that is now taking place in Gaza is a world away, how our leaders react to this humanitarian crisis speaks volumes regarding their views about Canada and it's place in the world. If they can't be trusted to be the voices of justice in times of international crisis, how can they be trusted to be the voices of justice here at home? So keep this in mind fellow Canadians when we go to the polls in October of 2015.