Behold – We’re Suddenly Canada Again
October 20, 2015: I am celebrating JT and the Liberals’ victory. It may take a while getting used to, but it’s beginning to feel like Canada already….people saying ‘good morning’ to one another, even strangers, along the street and on the TTC; Canada’s new leader providing a sense that he would rather help the souls of the Middle East to help themselves, rather than bomb the heck out of them.[i]
The Canadian spirit spoke loud and clear in the October 2015 federal election. Plainly, it is far from dead. As a Canadian I was, for the last ten years, witness to a government throwing shovelful after shovelful of geopolitical and socio-economic dirt upon it. This does not appear to be the way of the federal Liberals. As each day passes, announcements coming out of Ottawa present incremental steps toward reconciliation between the Spirit of Canada and how we are meeting the challenges of the modern world.
Many things are already in the works, though JT has been PM for little more than a month:
- Ashley Smith – Mr. Trudeau is committed to implement the inquest recommendations, to make sure what was done to Ashley NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN. I am moved to tears each time Ashley comes up in the news. I can’t imagine how frightened a teenager would be in her situation. I know I could not have survived as long as she did, under the same circumstances. This should never have happened to Ashley. Her story makes plain the recent derailment of Canadian social progress for all to see. Our new government will make sure it never happens again.
- The Enquiry into the disappearance of Aboriginal women (recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission) – The new PM has appointed Carolyn Bennett as the new Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs. An outstanding choice – I do not know a classier, more caring individual than Carolyn Bennett. I expect she is chomping at the bit to put an end to, once and for all, the egregious violence that has been perpetrated on First Nation’s women. With this exemplary Canadian (in both spirit and deed) at the helm, the outcome of this enquiry will be ground-breaking and forward-looking -revered in Canada and around the world by those who share our spirit of compassion and our alacrity for doing the right thing.
- The Liberals are also putting 2.6B into First Nations educational programs.
- Reinstating the Long Form census – the concept is simple and intuitive: Garbage in/garbage out – if your data is of low quality, the decisions and policies you make on the basis of that data will be of low quality. Our new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, along with every Canadian whose head is not buried in the harperian myst surely recognizes this. Only Harper et al have been able to convince themselves that garbage, covered with enough bullshit, somehow turns into gold. The Conservatives learned this in Political Alchemy 101. Based on their performance, it appeared a grade ‘A’ standing in this course was the primary qualification for selection into Harper’s cabinet. The Conservatives never possessed the Midas touch with respect to the national economy, and, as the 2015 federal election result demonstrates, most Canadians came to know it. Only those able to gloss over the disconnect between ‘glittering like gold’ and ‘smelling like bullshit’ voted for Harper. Most Canadians were not raised that way….we knew, even as children, that if it smells like poo, it probably isn’t good for you to put in your mouth, or your pocket, or bring home for your mom…
- Suicides in the military and the use of solitary confinement in the penal system – We now have a PM and government that understands human beings are not wired to respond positively to what they will experience on the battle field; or imagine, while sitting in solitary.
- Pretty soon, if not already, similar announcements will follow regarding our police and emergency services personnel. These people are human, they are Canadian, they are us. They see so much of the dark side of human nature every single day. Watching the news, I don’t know how our Toronto cops can see what they see, and then go home and be a dad or mom, best friend, partner, community volunteer…yet they do. I am happy we have a government who will work to make the daily transition from public service to private life and family an easier one for them.
- Stefan Dion – the best ever Canadian Prime Minister who wasn’t [ii]– has been appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs. Outstanding. Good luck Stefan. Canadians can now allow themselves comfort in the knowledge there are people in our government dedicated to leading the world away from war (à la Mike Pearson) rather than following it toward war (à la the Stephen Harper Conservatives). Returning bomb-for-bomb can accomplish nothing in the longer term, save for perpetuating the misery in which wars – all wars – have their basis. One must go to the original argument, discover the root cause, understand what it is the contestants are motivated to kill for, and fix that, if you want the war to stop. A good article on the new Minister of Foreign Affairs and his take on Canada’s role in the M.E. appears on the iPolitics website.[iii] P.S. Here’s a guy and a mission I would be honoured to work for…hey Stefan, you hiring?
- The New, post October 19, Conservative Party – same as the old Conservative party. Technology has made the world a lot smaller, these days. The Regressive Conservative Party (as opposed to the Progressive Conservative Party) appears to be only now trying to catch up; and only so they can bamboozle Canadians into voting for them in 4 years.Which way would this band of Conservatives (who are in no way, shape, or form, related to Canada’s erstwhile Progressive Conservatives) have it? As a group, they are either fickle or phoney – likely both. They are also pathologically self-serving.When you serve in government, what you do is to the people for whom you are responsible and to whom you are accountable – you simply cannot be doing things to suit yourself, the way the Conservatives did. Do not be fooled: those Cons have not changed in the least. Don’t let them have you thinking anything else. Don’t allow them to fool you into thinking it was all Stephen’s fault…if they truly feel the way they say they do, they would have stood up to Harper – in private, at least – during their last mandate, and done Harper, Canada, and Canada’s international reputation, a whole lot of good. They didn’t before October 19th, and they won’t if we return them to power. There will someday be another Conservative party in Canada, but it will be the party of Sir John A., John Diefenbaker, Joe Clark, and another centre-blue public servant for whom I have great admiration, Hugh Segal. Now that was a Canadian party…methinks the Harper version was an attempt to mimic the likes of Reagan, Thatcher, and American movement conservatism – and not Canadian at all, in spirit.
- They want Canadians to be as fully motivated by self-interest as they are. When a government turns its back on its most fundamental obligations: to serve and protect society, things become dangerous and creepily Orwellian; society’s members become divided and fearful of one another.
- Rona Ambrose is reversing her party’s pre-election stand on just about everything: up until October 19th, they were against an enquiry into missing aboriginal women; after October 19th, they pulled a u-ey and now fully support it. They were against the long form census and used their majority to cancel it; now they want it back. They are prepared to say anything we want to hear, just so we’ll vote for them. There is an excellent article appearing in the 15 November issue of the Toronto Star by Bob Hepburn: Do Conservatives take voters for fools? When you consider the arrogance with which the 2011-2015 Cons abandoned all respect for accountability to Canadians, and for the institutions of Canadian democracy, the short answer is, well, yes... The Cons sound just as chirpy as they did before the karma of October 19th; but what they are now saying conflicts with what they had proclaimed with equal conviction for years before.[iv]
- The budget and economic growth: JT admits to deficits over the next three years. Please refer to the article appearing in the October 20th issue of the Toronto Star, 7 key Trudeau promises show what you can expect.At the same time, economic growth is of its nature a cyclic phenomenon and will continue on that way unless a catastrophic event, such as a war, or a seriously misguided government policy, such as austerity, interrupts the pattern. The Liberals, if they are thinking as Liberals, will naturally align with a more Keynesean view of economics and government spending; recognizing the low cost of borrowing to build infrastructure and public transit now, is a chance to advantage Canada’s position with respect to job creation and economic opportunity, both now and later. The time for governments to run deficits and to focus on building and revitalizing infrastructure, is when the economy is flat; the idea being that later, when international markets have picked up again, the increased tax revenue will permit the government to run surpluses sufficient to pay back the money that was borrowed during the downturn. Mr. Keynes said, “The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity at the Treasury.” [v]
- Imagine this: you are a farmer and you need a new plough to keep farming. The bank offers you a loan at very little interest – say a penny or two for every dollar you borrow. But you are loathe to increase your debt. Are you going to do nothing then? Would you choose to allow your farm and livelihood to lapse into nothing, rather than go further into debt? You need the plough to work the farm, if you do not borrow, how then would you make the money to pay for the plough? Sell off other pieces of your equipment (also needed to work the farm) as our Ontario Liberals are doing with privatising 60% of hydro? Or are you going to take advantage of the low rates, and purchase that plough, like the good farmer Justin would do?
- Trudeau wants to get the most bang for the buck over the longer term. If we want to build now, we have to borrow now – like you and I, the government does not have the cash on hand to purchase the big-ticket items, or, in their case, infrastructure and naval ships. The cost of borrowing is low, with no chance of increasing while global economic growth remains feeble.
- Taxation: Trudeau has shifted some of the tax burden away from the middle class (22 to 20.5% marginal tax rate) and into a higher income group.
- C-51/antiterrorist legislation. The Liberals promise to review it, and bolster its oversight. I would sooner see them scrap it, and start over again. In no way can we allow people the opportunity to do end runs around our Constitution and Charter.
- The F-35s – Trudeau will scrap the F-35s and the money saved will be redirected toward the navy’s aging and decrepit fleet.[v]
- Pipelining Alberta bitumen as-is: The Liberals would support Keystone XL (recently trashed by Obama) to connect Alberta with the Gulf of Mexico. The Liberals will not support the Northern Gateway pipeline (Alberta to BC coast) because of the extreme hazard this presents to the B.C. coast. Neither is acceptable. It can be a good thing to pump product from the tar sands only if we build refining infrastructure onsite; to clean up the oil before we even think of pumping or transporting it through cities where people live (do not ever forget Lac Mégantic – those who lived through the nightmare won’t) and across oceans, whose good health every living thing in the world ultimately depends on for survival. As for the by-products of the extraction and purification phases, let’s get serious about greening them now, and when the price of oil rebounds, we will perhaps be able to clean things up enough to advantage the provincial and national economies without putting future generations of Canadians deeper in the hole environmentally.
- The Liberals will toughen gun laws, and I hope, restore the long rifle registry. If our police say they need it to keep their officers safe, they should have it. Period. If it is too expensive, let’s have a group of IT volunteers maintain it. A former IT prof once told our class, ‘IT people like nothing better than to spend their Friday nights on the computer,’ so it would be a classic win-win.
- The Liberals will legalize marijuana and are now studying the Colorado and Washington models. Say-what? People will no longer have reputations and careers ruined over droopy red-eyes and possession of a can of cream soda and sour cream and onion chips? Seriously?
- Gender parity in cabinet: I firmly believe in the best person for the job. Gender bears no relevance to performance in public service. Spirit does. Capability does. On this basis, an all-female cabinet is as unlikely as an all-male cabinet. The gender distribution of cabinet will naturally revolve around parity in the absence of bias; the ‘population’ of Canada’s cabinet is as inclined to a normal distribution as any population in the wild. Unless there is bias in the selection, you would not expect to see a variation of more than a couple of souls either way, and in societies truly civilized, gender discrimination would have gone the way of the do-do. This is why Prime Minister Trudeau’s defense of his gender parity was so profoundly elegant… ‘Because it is 2015,’ he said. That pretty much covers it.
- Trudeau wants to undo a rash of pre-election Conservative appointments to the National Energy Board – appointments that would kick-in after the election. The appointments are understood to be a hedge against the Liberal effect on the energy sector, should the Conservatives lose.[vi]
A word about the Syrian Refugee Crisis:
Have a look at some of the pictures of the throngs of refugees coming out of Syria. Among them are so many mothers with young children. Tell me which of these children, were they to show up on your front porch cold, starving, and frightened out of their wits, you would be able to shut your door on.
Seriously folks, tell the politicians and nations of the world who are wining about the refugees at their borders to stop wining and start leading….that is what we pay them to do.
Thank you Justin, thank you federal Liberals; thanks most of all to the electorate, for letting our politicians and the world know that Canadian people (made up of First Nations, French, English, African, Middle Eastern, Asian, and souls from every other point of origin) will not tolerate the sort of politics that was practiced by our previous government.
It was the Canadian spirit which gave rise to our nation. It belongs to the land. It infuses all who come here and call this place home. It is what motivated and drew us all here; it is what continues to motivate and draw all new comers. It is the spirit that compels us to collaborate; to respect and celebrate our differences, and to do the right thing, no matter how inconvenient or perilous to ourselves; this was the example left us by a past generation of young Canadian men and women, at Normandy.
You cannot bury this spirit for long, as the Harper Conservatives found out. Now it is for Justin et al to first get the government right with the Canadian Spirit, and then show the world what good things a world, likewise-spirited, is capable of.
By way of closing, I would like to say,
Hello, Canada! (I missed you)
…and welcome back.
[i] After Justin was elected LPC leader, he got into trouble for mentioning the ‘root causes’ of terrorism is what we should be focusing on; and not only on our reaction to the terrible crimes these people choose to perpetrate on innocent people . I really do not know what JT had in mind when he said this, but it makes sense to me that, if one army is equipped to wage war on another army such that they can bomb and fire missiles from a vantage point so far removed from the other side, that the other side cannot reach them (in other words, by the time the gap between the two sides was closed, the other army would be annihilated, and so the second army (in this case, the terrorists, ISIL), can choose to fight back in a dishonourable way (booby traps, car bombs, random attacks on civilians, children, violence to captives, simply to inspire terror), if they are going to fight at all. The only way to end this is to put boots on the ground – fight ISIL hand-to-hand. Bombing them from afar is killing civilians along with terrorists. Bombs and missiles are not nearly as discriminating as we would like to think. The Syrian refugee crisis is partly of our making. The war with ISIS has gone on long enough; enough innocent kids, moms, and dads have died; it is time to do what we should have done a long time ago: put boots on the ground and incapacitate the terrorists; then install a peacekeeping presence. Keep the families safe. Even in WWII, German citizens were treated well by Allied soldiers (not so nicely by their bombs, however) – my children’s Oma tells of how her mother was given chocolate for her children by some American soldiers on their way through Zingsheim as the war was winding down. Can a bomb do that? I also recall tales of soldiers throwing themselves on a live grenade to protect civilian bystanders from the explosion…we need humans to fight ISIL…bombs, robots, and drones are not the answer….they save lives(on the attacking side) in the short term, but cost many more lives, on both sides, in the long term. If we want wars to be fought ‘humanely’, that is to say, with honour, then we must have humans, and not machines, fighting them. It would, for example, be a fair fight using the latest technology if the U.S. and Russia were to square off, because they have comparable technology, although the U.S. appears to have somewhat of an advantage; but it isn’t a fair fight for Russia to fight ISIL, or for the U.S. to fight ISIL, in the same way they could fight one another. Despite their penchant for gore, ISIL really doesn’t have much to fight back with except fear; and to instil fear in an enemy, especially one so powerful as the U.S. or Russia, they are prepared to do things over-the-top terrible (and cowardly). If you want to eradicate ISIS, go head-to-head, and strive to keep the unfortunate civilians living in the region safe, like our soldiers did a few generations ago. The people living there will not miss the honour with which our troops bear themselves. Many of our soldiers will be maimed and killed fighting ISIS this way – but we will eradicate ISIS, and also short-circuit the mechanisms for regional/community support these groups rely on; in the end, many more soldiers and civilians will be saved. The U.N. should have a standing force (more precisely, a coalition of the forces of sovereign nations) which it can direct to this area or that area, to restore peace as regional conflicts flare up. It should also direct a peacekeeping force (Canada used to be the best at this, because we invented it (rather, our noble and Nobel prize-winning PM, Lester B. Pearson invented it), to keep the peace, and ensure that places where deeply-rooted tensions exist do not have the opportunity to flare up again. I would love to see a Canadian Peacekeeping contingent set up along the line separating East Jerusalem from West, the Palestinian lands from the Jewish lands, and for Jerusalem to be declared a world capital (honorary). The city so many have been contesting for so long (3 millennia and counting?), can finally belong to everybody; which is as it should be. It is God’s City, after all. I do not believe God is pleased that the children continue to kill one another for control of it – the amount of blood that has been spilled may be taken as the measure of God’s tears.
[ii] I say this only because, but for the shallow appeal of the Conservative attack ads’, we would have had a fine PM then, and there would not be the ponderously long list of things for the new government to undo. Good thing Mr. Trudeau is young – it may take him a long time to get the room vacated by the last guy cleaned up.
[iii] Dion: Canada to return to ‘honest broker’ role in the Middle East. Written by Elizabeth Thompson and appearing at: ipolitics.ca/2015/11/04/dion-canada-to-return-to-honest-broker-role-in-middle-east/
[iv]October 19th might one day be sanctified as Canada’s ‘Karma Day,’ or, in the common vernacular, ‘K-eh day.’ Hey, perhaps JT will make us a long weekend out of that – just sayin’.
[v] Nobel Laureate economist Paul Krugman has penned yet another excellent read, “The Austerity Delusion.” It appears on the Guardian website. You can find it here: http://www.theguardian.com/business/ng-interactive/2015/apr/29/the-austerity-delusion
[vi] There is news coming today (26 November) that the cost overrun of these upgrades has ballooned to nearly 100%
[vii] See the article appearing in the Huffington Post 23 November 2015, Liberals ‘Assessing’ Whether They Can Remove Tory Appointments, by Althia Raj .