"A Citizen"s Eye View"

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Was Harper's Ego Simply Too Big For Lynton Crosby?

Election 2015: And they're OFF...
in more ways than one...
When Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the beginning of "Horse Race 2015", marking the longest election campaign in modern Canadian history, it was believed to have been a strategic move. 

The Conservative party had by far the largest war chest of any of the federal parties. This is what happens when you have corporate Canada in your pocket...or Corporate Canada has you in THEIR pocket. Which ever way you look at it, the Conservatives felt that they had more than enough cash to spend their way to another election victory.

Long time Harper confident and adviser Jenni Byrne was instantly dispatched from the PMO to the Stephen's campaign tent to manage what many believed would be the battle of a life time. 

As an aside here, I have to wonder about the constant flow of personnel to and from the PMO and Conservative Party Central. To my mind, this has a profound effect on the nature of the governance of the country, given that the PMO, in it's current form, exercises  vastly greater power over the country than the collection of elected MPs in the House. And that has led to the blurring of lines between where the Government of Canada ends and where the Conservative Party begins. To many observers, there HAS been no distinguishing between to two in the last nine years. But that's a story for another day. 

Anyway, Harper's campaign got off to a less than glorious beginning. With Thomas Mulcair riding high on the afterglow of an NDP victory in Alberta, The Conservatives actually saw their popularity drop to third place in the polls at one point. 

Like the Old Reform Party, who were the original incarnation of the
The Reform-a-Cons 2015
current Conservative Party (there are a great many who believe there is absolutely NOTHING Conservative about the way this collection of thugs does business), the Harper team tends to attract a great many "loud mouthed schnooks" (to quote Bugs Bunny). Hence Harper's need for constant message control, lest the loose cannons in the party demonstrate to the Canadian people, the insanely true nature of the New Conservative Party.

But even tight message control couldn't keep the spectre of angry old white men calling journalists "lying pieces of shit" on camera or being caught on video peeing into a coffee cup. Not to mention Conservative candidate Ryan Leef, jumping from behind bushes wearing camo to handcuff a woman. The loonies were getting loose. 

Lynton Crosby: Master of the dark political arts. 
So with the profound dip in the polls that accompanied the escape of craziness from Harper's asylum, poor old Jenni Byrne was sent to her room. It was at this time, that Maclean's Magazine announced that the "Lizard of Oz", spin doctor extraordinaire and master of the dark political arts of wedge politics and fear mongering, Lynton Crosby was taking over the Harper campaign.  

It was not long after this report that Harper let slip the phrase "Old Stock Canadians" in a campaign debate. A comment which many have referred to as "Dog Whistle" messaging, meaning it was a comment sent directly to the ears of xenophobic, Anglo Saxon, Protestant Canadians. And soon there after, the debate about a woman's right to wear the Niqab surfaced along with a so-called snitch line for citizens to report "barbaric Cultural Practices" of their neighbours. Yet another swipe at Muslim Canadians. 

These tactics seemed to have Lynton Crosby written all over them. And they seemed to be working. Riding a wave of xenophobic fear and racial tension, Harper and his Merry Band of Loonies jumped to a first place tie in the polls.

No Mr. Harper. Canadians aren't drinking your
cool aid this time. 
But then a funny thing happened on the way to the finisn line. The politics of fear and division began losing ground to a much wider debate about values and freedom. Harper began losing ground once again as Canadians were refusing to swallow his cool-aid. 

So now, in the dying days of Election #42, it has been reported that the "Lizard of Oz" has abandoned Harper's sinking ship.  Some, have speculated that this move may have been because of Harper's decision to seek the support of the "Buffoonic duo", Rob and Doug Ford in Toronto, which most observers regard as a supreme act of desperation. 

Many Canadians like to feel that Crosby's racist tactics simply won't work here in Canada, so he packed up his didgeridoo and went home.

Others have speculated that the presence of Crosby in the Harper campaign has been greatly exaggerated in the first place. Curiously, no one in the Conservative campaign would either confirm or deny Crosby's involvement. But Election Canada saw fit to announce that it was ok for a "non-Canadian" to advise or consult with a political party in a campaign and that this was not contrary to the Elections Act. 

My guess is, that regardless of the extent of Crosby's involvement, Harper's controlling, micro-managing, "my way or the highway" nature probably caused a clash of characters with Crosby who is probably himself, used to exercising complete control over campaigns or he wouldn't be doing what he's doing and wouldn't have gained his reputation as one of the top political strategists in the world.  

Both probably have egos larger than some planetoids in our galaxy. We know this for certain about Harper. And with Crosby's winning record and way of doing business in both Australia and in England, it's not much of a stretch to infer that his sense of "self" is also probably "otherworldly". Both are probably used to sucking up every molecule of oxygen in every room they're in. 

So in the end, there probably just wasn't enough oxygen in all of Canada to feed two such monstrous egos. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Harper's Hail-Mary History

There is no shame in Harperland
As I write this, we are in the final week of Federal Election #42. If we are to believe the polls, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is running in second place behind Justin Trudeau. 

Not that I put much faith in polls mind you. They failed to predict the last B.C. election, two of the last three Alberta elections, the last Quebec election or the "Orange Tide" in 2011. 

But I would bet dollars to donuts that Citizen Stephen is keeping a "weather eye" on the polls. You see, at this stage of the game, it appears highly unlikely that he will grab another "false majority". And with both Justine Trudeau and Tom Mulcair saying there is no way they would prop up a Conservative minority (And equally unlikely that Elizabeth May would support him either), the chances of Harper governing, even with a minority, seem equally improbable. 

Depending on how things play out in Quebec, Steve may be able to get into bed with the Bloc if things are close enough. But that also seems pretty unlikely. 

It would appear that we are looking at the twilight of Stephen Harper. And Stephen himself, sees that same setting sun. 

So we have to ask ourselves, would a power hungry, "win at all costs" kind of guy like Harper just sit back and let nature take it's course when faced with immanent death? Not likely. He will surrender 24 Sussex only under a cloud of tear-gas and a hail of bullets. Harper's own history has demonstrated that fact. Consider:

- In 2004, when Paul Martin was leading his own Liberal minority government and Steve was opposition leader, a potential non-confidence vote in the house of commons was so close, that it came down to one vote. Martin's government hung on the "yea or nay" of one independent M.P., Chuck Cadman.

But Cadman had inoperable cancer. Though he was still able to hold his
Chuck wouldn't take the bribe
seat in the House, his time on earth was rapidly coming to a close. So what did Citizen Stephen do in order to ensure he got his non-confidence vote and a shot at the Prime Minister's residence? He tried to bribe Cadman with a million dollar life insurance policy that named Cadman's  wife as beneficiary. Cadman refused the bribe but nothing ever came of the whole sordid affair.  

 - In 2006, Harper finally got his shot at an election against Martin. It was a close run campaign, much like this current one. In the final stages of that election, the RCMP suspiciously announced it was investigating several Liberal Government personnel, including Finance Minister Ralph Goodale in what became known as the Income Trust Scandal. 

Goodale and the Liberal Party were eventually exonerated in the scandal, but much too late. Harper rode the negative Liberal publicity to his first minority government. Then RCMP Commissioner,Giuliano Zaccardelli, was believed to have been "sympathetic" to the Conservative cause. He never explained the timing of his explosive announcement and was never held to account for it. Harper was Prime Minister by then you see.  

Dion, an decent man but an
easy target for Harper's
hate machine
 - In 2008, when Harper was contesting his second Campaign, also a close run affair, then CTV news journalist Mike Duffy, aired an interview with Liberal Leader Stephane Dion. After promising not to air the first dismal takes of the interview. Duffy broke his promise and what eventually aired, made Dion seem like a bumbling idiot. Many believe that interview was the turning point in the election. Duffy of course, went on to be appointed to the Senate by Citizen Stephan. And Duffy is of course, currently on trial for fraud as a result of his Senate shenanigans.He never answered for the damning interview with Dion.

 - Also in 2008, shortly after winning his second minority government, Harper faced a Palace Revolt by the opposition parties that would have seen him turfed out of office and replaced by a coalition government. So what did Harper do? He prorogued government with the Governor General's blessing and waited out the storm. The coalition dissolved under Harper's relentless negative spin doctoring and he retained power. 

A year later, Harper prorogued Parliament once again to avoid accountability over the Afghan detainee issue. Harper never accounted for the prorogation, nor the potential torture of the detainees. 

 - In 2011, when Harper knew he needed a Majority government in order to implement his ultimate agenda or face expulsion by his own party, we saw the largest case of fraud ever committed in a Canadian Election. The Robo-Calls affair. Despite damning evidence of a coordinated effort to thwart voters seen as hostile to the conservatives through the use of misleading automated phone calls, The Harper Government (as the Canadian Government is now called) never accounted for this misdead either. They went to great lengths to stonewall any and every investigation into the matter and in the end, the only one held to account was a minor Conservative party operative. Harper had his majority and he rapidly and ruthlessly began reshaping Canada in his own image. 

So as demonstarted above, Stephen is not one to run a clean campaign when the stakes are high. And in Harperland, the ends always justify the means and there is no such thing as shame. 

So we have to ask ourselves, with the stakes being just as high in this election - Harper's political life hangs in the balance -  just what trump card does he have up his sleeve?

He brought in the "Lizzard of Oz", a divisive Australian spin doctor extraordinaire, to breath life into a sagging campaign. Initially, it seemed like Harper had pulled himself out of the fire one more time by use of the "Niqab" issue, thus stoking the xenophobic flames of discontent within a small portion of the Canadian population and diverting attention from his dismal economic record. 

But to a certain extent, this ploy seems to have backfired as we are 
now seeing a much wider debate based on the general issue of "values" - an area where  Harper is at a distinct disadvantage with all but his most loyal base. 

So what will Harper do in his final days in order to ensure his
continued existence? Will it be a terror based event? An arrest? Another dire warning from an alleged extremest group? 

There is also a possibility that, like the Robo-Calls affair, we won't know what ace Harper played until after the election. But rest assured, Harper will not go queitly into the night. He is dying and he needs to play one last Hail Mary. One last desperate, loathsome gasp from a man with no shame.  

So what will Harper's last big play be?

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Just How Significant Is The Niqab Debate

So who is more oppressive? The culture that
the Conservatives claim, compels women to
wear the Niqab, or the Conservatives who
Say they cant?
It is being said that the Niqab debate is nothing more than a "con-trap" - a wedge issue to distract Canadians from a dismal Conservative track record and a Prime Minister who has absolutely nothing of value to show for his nine years in power. 

We say that  there are more important issues to discuss, like healthcare. Which is indeed a critical issue and one that has been grossly mishandled by the Harper Government. 

But the fact of the matter remains, that Harper, Kenney and I would think, a great many other members of the conservative caucus, are racist, misogynist pigs. And that should be a significant fact for many Canadians. 

Do we, as a nation, want to be led by a bunch of angry old white men
Just another angry Old-Stock Canadian
who's values create varying levels of citizenship - that Old Stock Canadians are more - well - CANADIAN than several million newly arrived people?  Do we want leaders who are as misogynistic about women's rights to their own bodies and what they wear, as the culture they claim oppresses them? Are women now, also second class citizens? 

This exclusive, male domineering, racist mind set  sits at the core of the conservative ideology and it becomes reflected in everything that they do, such as how they treat first nations, how they remove health care for refugees in need, by use of racist slogans, rather than elevating the level of health care for all Canadians - How they support harassment of women who seek abortions. Not to mention how  foreign aid for Maternal Health Care denies support for countries with exploding populations but permit abortions. 

We don't cotton to them kind
of folks is these here parts!
So maybe there are more pressing issues to discuss, but this one speaks to the nature of the beating heart of the man who would be our Prime Minister for four more years. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Less Money I Earn, The More Taxes I Pay

Ok, so why is it that the less money I seem to make, the more I seem to be paying in income taxes? Oh yeah, it's because I can no longer afford those TFSAs and RRSPs etc. So I guess the message is clear. It's not the upwardly mobile folks, those with the BMWs parked up their arses who are contributing the lion's share to our social programs via our taxes. It's the people who need them most. 

To start off with, I was divorced several years ago. I won't get into the details, but let's just say, my wife got the house and the kids, hence the tax deductions. I got the guinea pig. I think I need to have a word with my lawyer. 

Anyway, about a year after the initial separation, I also lost my job. And because of the circumstances, I didn't qualify for E.I. So I spent several month's living off of my credit cards until I could find another job. Those several months created a credit "monster" that I'm still dealing with. 

And one just doesn't walk in off the street into a good paying, permanent job anymore. You start off on low paying contract positions with no benefits. I finally landed a permanent position after about two years. And from those I've spoken with, that's GOOD!

In the mean time, my credit monster got bigger and bigger, and the banks, who used to love me to pieces and constantly offer me new and creative ways to give them money, suddenly became my worst enemies. I went to my old friends, the CIBC to be precise, the folks who I had faithfully done business with for over 30 years, with cap in hand, asking for help. But seeing that I was no longer in a position to give the nice banker-lady money in all sorts of new and different ways, I was told to take a long walk off of a very short peer. All of which reminds me of the quote by Robert Frost: "A bank is a place that offers you an umbrella in fair weather and asks for it back when it begins to rain". 

Anyway, the make a long story even longer (as my dad used to say), I've had to make a deal with the devil (in this case, the federal government) in order to slay my credit dragon and keep Tony the collection guy from harassing me. But I will be paying this credit debt off for a long time to come and in the mean time, I have no credit rating what so ever. The only people who will look at me even sideways anymore are the legalized loan sharks, Money Mart. But I am earning money again albeit, much less than I was before. Which brings me back to my original statement about income tax. 

As an upwardly mobile middle-classer with a combined six digit income, the million dollar family, a house, RRSPs etc, I never paid one red cent in income taxes. The government was always giving me (us)money back. Which was great at the time. But now that I am bringing in only a tiny fraction of what I used to make, the government seems to be hitting me up big time for tax money on a regular basis. I, and all my border-line poverty level friends with no tax shelters available to us, seem to be the ones who are covering the cost of our once proud social programs. 

I can say that as a middle-classer with tons of opportunities to shelter my money - legally - I contributed zip-doodah  to the welfare of the nation. And I (we) were small potatoes. I can only imagine what the REAL movers and shakers with some serious cash can get away with - legally or not. I think of those billions of dollars those guys have squirreled away in off shore accounts and those massive corporate tax breaks that have resulted in zero trickle down. So I know that they aren't contributing diddly to the nation's welfare either. If anything, they're sponging off those taxes you and I contribute. 

And I say "once proud" social programs because they are slowly being gnawed to death by the many headed hydra known as the corporate welfare state. It was recently revealed that the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs failed to spend a billion dollars earmarked for social programs for indigenous people. But what happened to that money instead? Oh yeah, there was that whole balanced budget thing. Have to keep Moodies and all those other big bank type guys who establish credit ratings happy. 

And I see those all pervasive "Economic Action Plan" signs everywhere. They're made in the States or so I've been told. I imagine they don't come cheap. But instead of my tax dollars going toward improving healthcare or education or eradicating poverty, they seem to be going towards free advertising for the ruling party. "Merde"!

Oh, and going back to that whole balanced budget thing, It seems that a HUGE chunk of the money that was used to make the books look all nice and orderly, came from OUR E.I. fund.That money ISN'T supposed to be TAX money. It's supposed to be OUR insurance policy against hard times such as I and the 40% of all claimants who never get a chance to collect experience . I guess that's because OUR collective welfare isn't as important as having well sauteed books. But that's a story for another day. 

So as I said in my opening paragraph, it appears that the lion's share of contribution to our once proud social programs seems to be being covered by the people who can least afford to do so. And the more they pay into it, the less service they get, because you know, signs and illusory balanced books and all are way more important.  So don't tell me the system isn't stacked against us. Don't even THINK of telling me the game isn't rigged. The whole system is rotten beyond belief. And the rot is so deep and so old and so ingrained by folks who care more about votes and their own personal bottom lines that it can never be fixed from within. In my own humble opinion, the whole damn thing needs to be blown up and we need to start from scratch, kind of like what Iceland did. They bailed out the people, put the banksters in jail and rewrote their constitution. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

In My Canada, No One Gets Left Behind.

*Thao immigrated to Canada from Vietnam in the mid 90s. He had no special skills except for the fact that he is a hard worker. He is good, kind, decent and honest. In every way, reflective of those values we like to think of as "Canadian". 

He came to settle in my home city of Hamilton and with the support of the Chinese and Vietnamese communities, was able to gain regular work and was able to establish himself as a brand new Canadian citizen. 

Sometime after that, Thao was able to return to Vietnam in order to marry *Kim, whom he had corresponded with since coming to Canada. He was able to bring his new wife back to Canada where they set up a home together in the heart of the Chinese/Vietnamese community and in 2003, Kim gave birth to a baby boy and bestowed upon him, the English name of *John. They were living the dream

Thao continued to work hard. Despite the fact that he was an unskilled laborer, he has never been without work. And though Kim did possess some abilities, having worked in a camera factory in Saigon, it was decided that she would stay at home to raise John. They lived a humble, but honest life. And with the arrival of their son, it was an extremely joyful one. 

But as John began to grow, Thao and Kim noticed that all was not right with their little blessing. He was not attaining all the usual developmental milestones. He was not learning to talk or to communicate in any of the expected ways. And according to Kim, John remained cold and distant. He did not appear "attached" to her in the same way that other children might. He remained non-verbal and seemed perpetually anxious. He was aloof and distant. 

John began attending Junior Kindergarten at the school where I work at age four. It became immediately apparent that something was not right with John and even though most of us recognized the telltale signs of Autism, there was no diagnosis. Kim blamed herself for John being the way he was and she and Thao had hoped that the school would be able to teach him to speak. There had been no other "intervention" or support for the family prior to that. Mostly because being relative newcomers to Canada and existing primarily within the Vietnamese community, their English was limited so they had no idea that support of any kind beyond school even existed. 

The school was able to eventually help the family make the appropriate connections with community agencies. Coming from Vietnam however, Thao and Kim remained hesitant and wary regarding any involvement with government services. So they were slow and frightful of obtaining any kind of help beyond school. Kim continued to believe that she was for some reason, to blame for her son's disability. Some in the community had suggested that John's condition might be the result of her sins in a past life. She believed them.

Finally, though, an official diagnoses of Autism was arrived at.  And with a diagnosis finally in place, the appropriate school supports could be accessed. This is where I became involved with John. My job was to support him in school. By this time, he was in grade one. He was achieving absolutely nothing except to be an overall disruption to his class and to the school in general with his frequent and violent "melt-downs". Everyone in school knew John by his screaming tantrums. 

With the implementation of structure and programming geared to his needs, John began to improve somewhat. He became less of a disruption and he seemed to be actually learning some very basic literacy and numeracy skills. But it was clear that remaining in a "mainstream" setting was not the most efficient or cost-effective way to go with John so he was eventually transferred to another school which had a self contained classroom for children with Autism. 

In the meantime, The family was able to access more and more government sponsored services such as IBI (Intensive Behaviour Interventions), ABA (Applied Behaviour Analyses) and the help of a dedicated Social Worker in order to help the family to "navigate" the system and to advise on in-home behaviour strategies

It became apparent that in-home support was required in order to assist Kim and Thao to manage with John. My services were enlisted once again due to my previous school connections with John. Though my function was originally to provide "respite", to enable the parents to have some rest from the 24/7-365 ordeal of raising a severely autistic child, it has morphed into a multi-faceted role that now includes friendship. 

I have worked with John and his family now for five years. Kim no longer feels that she is to blame for John's condition, though she continues to go to temple once a week to pray for him just as any Christian mother would do. Thanks to school and the help of government funded community services, John is progressing to the level of his ability, which means that he is learning some basic self-regulating skills and means of communicating his wants and needs. But John is still severely autistic and will always remain so. His future continues to be unclear, especially with regard to when he becomes an adult and Kim and Thao age and become less able to provide for John's basic needs. He is so reliant on them.

Kim has often indicated to me that if she and Thao had remained in Vietnam, she doesn't know what would have become of John. She says that services like IBI are available there, but are limited to those who can pay for them. She feels that she would have had to give up guardianship of John by now if she had not come to Canada. And she cries. But even here, everyone acknowledges that without Kim, John would be in residential care by now. 


Six months ago, Kim was diagnosed with a brain tumor. All of a sudden, all bets were off regarding John and his care. The future seemed to come crashing home much faster than anyone was willing to admit. And this loving little family was thrown into crisis. 

But after multitudinous tests and evaluations, none of which would have been available to Kim in Vietnam, it was determined that her tumor was benign but operable. If she did not have the surgery though, she would go blind. 

Last Wednesday, Kim had her surgery. It was an innovative procedure that is less intrusive than actual brain surgery and was performed by some of the best doctors in the country. She is currently receiving world class follow up care in hospital (though she's not overly thrilled with the food). In addition, social services are providing additional assistance with John in his home so that Thao can continue to work and spend a little time with his wife in hospital. 

Thao told me that in Vietnam, none of the services that his wife has received would have happened. And even if they were available, there would have been no way they could have afforded them. Kim would quite simply have gone blind. And there would have been no way Thao could have provided support for his son and work as well. He would have had to give John up to the state. He hinted that John might have ended up in a "sweatshop" but I can't verify the validity of this claim nor would Thao elaborate. But it's safe to say that he would no longer be living in a loving home and being given the best quality life possible for a child with autism. 

But thanks to Government sponsored social services and health care, Thao and his family are being given every possible opportunity to continue to live and thrive together. One day, John will most certainly have to go off to live in a group home of some kind. He will never be able to live independently, but at least he will never end up in a sweatshop. But right now, the day when John will have to leave his parents seems quite far off and he is being given every conceivable opportunity to remain with his family as long as they are physically able to care for him. 

And Kim will not go blind and will be able to continue to care for the son she has dedicated her life to. All because her family lives in a society that believes everyone, not just the privileged few, has a right to education, health care, community supports and social services. And despite the shortcomings of our current xenophobic, narrow minded, self serving federal government, Canada remains a kind, caring all inclusive family, just like Thao's family.  And in this family, no one gets left behind. 


* The names of family members have been changed in order to protect their privacy. I chose the name "Thao" for the father , because it means "courtesy" in Vietnamese. And this man is one of the most courteous, decent, honorable men I have met. 

I chose "Kim" for the mother's name because it means "gold" or "brilliance" in Vietnamese, which is certainly reflective of her value to the well being of her son and partner. 

I chose the English name of "John" for the son as it means "grace" or "mercy", which the child has received in abundance thanks to the caring and inclusive nature of our society. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Brief Comment on the Conservative Lie About Welfare Fraud and Bogus Refugee Claimants.

If this picture angers you, it's because it should...

Judging all people who use social services, be they immigrants, refugees or of Canadian birth, by the actions of those few who attempt to defraud the system (approximately .7% of all recipients according to the Guardian UK) is like judging all Canadians, according to the actions of a hand-full of Milhaven's most notorious. We can no more, righteously stand in harsh judgment of the 99.3% of welfare and social assistance recipients who are in need of help, claiming they are nothing but lazy fraudsters than we can fairly judge Canada to be a nation of thieves and murderers.

We just can't paint all social services recipients with the same brush. To do so is blatantly unfair to the vast majority of legitimate claimants and tends to stigmatize them, thus making it even more difficult for them to get back on their feet. And to politicize social services recipients and refugees as a bunch of freeloading bums does nothing but play to our negative emotions and is quite frankly, bigoted. And it makes for bad policy. It makes us an exclusive rather than an inclusive society.   

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Gulf War III. It's All About The Oil...Still!

Burning oil wells in Kuwait. Circa 1990
Well Citizen Stephen has got us involved in yet another war. Canada has been at war now for almost all of Mr. "H"s entire tenure. He came to office waving the bloody flag of nationalism and it appears he intends to go out in very much the same manner. 

Granted, His Harperness didn't get us into Afghanistan. That was Jean Chretien's doing. That was the so-called "righteous" war, the response to the 9-11 attack. But Stephen kept our Men and Women in uniform in Afghanistan long past their best-before date. Our involvement there just ended a mere six months ago. 

Of course, before that, there was Libya and prior to that, Gulf War II. If Herr Harper had been in power then, we would most certainly have been involved in that  disastrous debacle that commenced in 2003 and only just wrapped up (at least from the U.S. standpoint) in 2011.  

And long before that, there was George Bush Senior's Gulf War I which of course, Canada did participate in. Brian Mulroney was responsible for our presence there. 

While the Western coalition involved in the first Iraqi conflict used that country's invasion of Kuwait as an excuse for military action, we all know that war was about the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf. It is telling that as his forces withdrew under fire, Saddam Hussein's army chose to torch oil wells, not town's, villages or other strategic locations that might have been of service to his enemy. He wanted to deprive the West of its life's blood. 

It was only once Saddam had been effectively neutered as a threat to the West's supply of oil that the Americans backed off and sent in their "wildcatters" to douse the burning wells. Big Oil's interests in that area were safe for the time being. 

Sometime after that, huge deposits of oil were discovered in the Caspian Sea/Turkmenistan area. This was a huge deposit. An estimated 60 billion barrels of crude. It was SO huge that the two planned pipelines to the west via the Black Sea were not deemed to be sufficient to move all that much needed oil to Western markets. Also, the belligerent nature of bordering Iran at the time made the continuous flow uncertain via those two lines.

So in response to this dilemma, the U.S. attempted to negotiate with the Taliban Government in Afghanistan for a third pipeline that would run north to south through that country, through Pakistan and finally ending at the Indian Ocean. 

Negotiations between the Taliban and an international consortium led by Unocal of California were going swimmingly until the bombing of two American Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998, allegedly by Osama Bin Laden who claimed to have had the blessing of the Taliban regime. Negotiations ended at that point.

Three years later came the 9-11 attack in New York, also allegedly perpetrated by Osama and his Al Quaida network who happened to be based in Afghanistan. 

America and the Western world as a whole were terror struck. They
Map of the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline.
To be completed in 2017. 
now had the moral excuse to go into Afghanistan in force to hunt for the terrorist general... and to make sure that pipeline got built. Of course, Canada was also there to help fight the good fight against evil and tyranny... and to protect that pipeline. 

It is interesting to note that the puppet president that the U.S. installed to lead the new Afghan government was Hamid Karzai, a former Unocal employee. And as Uri Averny of the Daily Ma'Ariv in Israel pointed out, it was quite telling that the majority of American operational bases in Afghanistan were located along the same route as the proposed Tran-Afghanistan pipeline. 

So while Canada was helping to fight the war on terror by putting "boots on the ground" in Afghanistan, it is coincidental that we were also helping the best interests of Big Oil and the West's insatiable thirst for petroleum. 

Then came Gulf War II. Riding on the coattails of the "Righteous War" farther to the east, George Bush Junior invaded Iraq, supposedly to finish off his father's work. 

He used the pretext that Saddam Hussein was supporting the terrorists and was producing weapons of mass destruction. Of course, Saddam had no tolerance whatsoever for the terrorists and wouldn't let them operate in his country. And as we now know, there WERE no weapons of mass destruction. It was all a flimsy excuse for going back into the region. 

Whether it was because the Americans felt that Saddam was growing too unreliable once again or because it feared neighbouring Iran's belligerence, or both, they needed to ensure the  continued flow of oil from the Persian Gulf. And they had their excuse. Thus began an ugly eight year war to protect the flow of crude to the West.

Mercifully, Canada took a pass on that whole affair. Chretien and subsequently, Harper, were content to stick with the "Holy" pipeline war in Afghanistan.

But then came yet another despotic ruler to self righteously topple. Muammar Gaddafi, ruler of Libya which is home to the fifth largest oil reserves in the world. Gaddafi had been a thorn in the West's side for decades and It was rumored that the U.S. had plans to take him out shortly after 9-11. 

But after 9-11, Gaddafi made efforts to mend fences with the West and actually denounced the New York attack. There was then, no mask of righteous indignation for the Americans and its allies to hide behind until the Arab Spring came along  in 2011.  The West finally had an excuse to send in their bombers. 

And Canada was there to help keep the oil spigots open. 

Now we have Gulf War III. ISIS, an Islamic army that was born and funded covertly by the Americans in order to topple the regime in Syria have marched into Northern Iraq and are threatening the oil fields there. 

Map of Exxon holdings in Northern Iraq.
ISIS operations in Iraq are concentrated in the Northern area known as "Kurdistan". Oil reserves there are so large that if that region were ever to declare it's independence, it would be home to the ninth largest reserves in the world. America's first bombing missions in this new war against "terror" where to defend the city of Erbil which is considered to be the nerve centre of the Kurdish oil fields and home to Exxon, Chevron and Mobil's local operations. 

So while the fight against terror is once again the impetus for war - ISIS having circulated videos of various Westerners being beheaded by an operative who curiously, has an English accent - one has to look no further than the interests of Big oil and the West's continued need for vast amounts of petroleum in order to keep their societies running. 

And Canada is there once again, helping to save the day from "Islamic Radicals", much like the Government of Harper is keeping close tabs on "Environmental Radicals" here at home. It's all about serving the best interests of Big Oil and fueling our ongoing lust for crude. 

So don't for a minute buy the nationalistic clap trap and fear mongering that Citizen Stephen and leaders like him are foisting upon us in order to justify our colonial misadventures. The wars of the 21st century are- always have been - and until the world breaks it's addiction to petroleum - always will be, about oil.