How the Liberals and LICO Seniors Can Help Each Other

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I’ve been a Liberal supporter for the most part, for most of my life, beginning with Lester B. Pearson and followed up with the PET years, and I will be voting Liberal again this October 2019—but not because I feel they have done anything for me.

Personally, I have received no tangible benefits or liabilities deriving from the current Liberal regime’s policies. I am over 60. I need to work. No prospective employer is going to invest in my training for fear that I may ‘break’ or that I may retire after a couple of years—at the very point the company should begin to see the rewards of their investment in my training. If it were not for my father’s support while seeking work, I would be living under a bridge right now.

Still, the Liberals, unlike the Cons, are at least talking about a national housing strategy to accommodate folks like me. They are talking about Guaranteed Annual Income programs to replace the checkerboard haphazard arrangement of non-profits, corporate beneficences, and charitable organizations which many Canadians, if they were not lucky enough to have a father like mine, currently rely on to get by. They are talking about National Pharmacare.

The Canada Child Care Benefit is putting money directly into the pockets of young Canadian families. The Carbon Tax credit will put more money into the pockets of regular Canadians. The Liberals seem to recognize, despite the notion’s unpopularity, that taxation is the only way to redistribute and regulate the flow of currency throughout Canadian society; and that currency is the lifeblood of society. The more freely money flows throughout society, to and from society’s members, without demographically localized scarcity or excess, the healthier the society. The more cohesive and productive is society; and the less we are beset with social anathemas.

Despite all of the good they are doing, and notwithstanding the fact that they have my vote, they might not be accorded the chance to continue healing this wonderful great nation of ours, partly the result of a lack of support for the demographic I am a part of. Young folks, on the other hand, appear to be buying into the Liberal vision, I suppose because despite the pressure on kids these days, they have not lost the utopic vision of the world they were born with and experience as a child. Anyone who is living at or below the Low Income Cut Off (LICO) should also be voting Liberal. The Indigenous should be voting Liberal because the Liberals are the only ones with a sense of how their cultural heritage and indomitable spirit is integral to Canada’s healing and prosperity over the long term. All good so far.

What isn’t so good is the SNC-Lavalin business. The entire business has a smell to it. The two protagonists are poor little beleaguered Jody Wilson-Raybould, the hapless Minister of Justice and Auditor General who was ‘inappropriately pressured,’ and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whom we are informed did the pressuring. On the one hand you have someone who has studied and practices law, and could use their knowledge of the law to their advantage; on the other hand, you have a well-meaning Prime Minister who was a school teacher before he got into politics and who would be relying on his Minister of Justice to keep him informed about the rules of the game, in order to avoid having government policy initiatives trip over ignorance of the law’s nuances.

Instead, we have a Minister of Justice going to the newspapers and complaining that she was unduly pressured by the Prime Minister and his staff to offer SNC-Lavalin a deferred prosecution agreement—this so that the company could not be barred from tendering for Canadian government contracts for ten years, thereby saving a significant number of Canadian jobs; primarily in Quebec. The opposition picked up on this right away (if not before), and are playing up the notion that Justin Trudeau is nothing more than ‘raging bullshit.’ The Cons, god bless them, are as witty as the Sun when it comes to funny one-liners. The trouble is, you can run a newspaper on headlines, but a national society requires much more than that.

JWR and the PM apparently met only once with respect to SNC-Lavalin. This was when the alleged ‘undue pressure,’ occurred, in violation of the Conflict of Interest regulation. I cannot know what was said, but I can reliably infer what was not said: ‘Mr. Prime Minister, based on my knowledge of the law, you cannot be asking me to do this.’ I wonder what would have happened if she had? It would have been, after all, what one would expect the Prime Minister’s minister of Justice to tell her boss, in order to keep the boss out of hot water, political and judicial? She was proceeding from a position of knowledge; the Prime Minister was equipped only with a sense of responsibility. ‘Nothing but an open face,’[i] as it were. I cannot say with certainty, but it does appear it was Jody Wilson-Raybould who acted ‘inappropriately,’ by not employing due diligence in advising her boss on the basis of her knowledge.

Instead, it appears she used it to try to hang him with.

She acted above and beyond her calling: as Justice Minister, she acted as judge and jury over the Prime Minister, and then she went to the Globe and Mail in order to enforce her verdict.

There is much more to the story than we know at present. In the next year we will know a whole lot more. In the meantime, JWR’s story launched the Cons into a 3 to 5 percentage point lead in the polls in the Spring.

Since then, the Liberals have closed the gap and are in a statistical tie with the Cons. With a few more tweaks, they might even earn the majority mandate they deserve and most Canadians need.

Going into the election period, the parties all begin to focus on voter demographics where their support is ‘soft,’ and where they can pick up votes with targeted announcements. The demographic that concerns me at this stage of my life, is that of retirees living at or below the LICO. I have seen old ladies pushing around their belongings along Lawrence Avenue East and in the downtown core. I do not want to be doing that in my old age. That should not even be the stuff of fiction, but it is a reality here in Canada. There should not be one of them voting against the Liberals, because now that they are back, they are going to fix that, given enough time.

With 24 percent male and 28 percent female Canadian seniors living below the LICO, every party should be focused on providing assistance to them and would do better at the polls to boot. I will end this article with a policy suggestion which would benefit the senior sub-LICO demographic—earning favour in their eyes for the party that offers it:

All seniors require dignity in shelter, healthcare, and community, just like everyone else. Being seniors, the community aspect is problematic at times. For these folks, a dog can be of inestimable benefit. To that end, make veterinary services free for one dog per qualifying senior.

Loneliness is a major challenge for all seniors. It leads to depression. Depression leads to inactivity. Inactivity leads to hospital visits and subsequent homecare costs. A cute little dog goes such a long way toward keeping spirits up. When you are old, and all of what you love is gone already, a puppy can fill a major vacuum and give you the reason you need to get out of bed in the morning and continue to contribute in your way to the future of your nation. Veterinarians can chip in by volunteering to bill the government at a reduced rate for services rendered to seniors who would qualify under the LICO program.

 

[i] A quote from Led Zeppelin’s immortal song, ‘Kashmir.’

On the Bible

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The Bible:

-is written by many different people over a period of at least 1200 yrs (OT and NT). The oral tradition predates the written tradition by a number of years.

-this results in as many contradictions as there are hands in the pie. Inevitably. The writers probably never spoke to one another or collaborated. Each writer wrote according to their own agenda.

-the existence of substantive contradictions, such as tenets of Faith, should be incontrovertible proof of either:

  1. the Bible is not the perfect record of the Word of God, or,
  2. God is not perfect, in either act or word. God may not be ‘perfect’ in the way we humans define perfection, but I am inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to the entity which was able to create the Universe over the folks who wrote books and whose works ended up in the biblical canon.

-this, on top of copying errors, mistranslations, and deliberate insertions and ‘corrections’ to reconcile the immutable word of God with the fashions of the times in which it was being read and interpreted, renders the Bible as something other than scriptural in its authority.

-multiplex this on top of the fact that the Christian faith is an offshoot of Judaism. These are two different traditions arising from (in the case of the Jews) or grafted onto (in the case of Christianity, which was conscripted by the Romans) two very different cultures. The Messiah of Judaism is not the Christ of the Christian tradition. The former is warlike and judgmental; the latter is all about love and forgiveness.

-since the outset, apologists have struggled to reconcile the bible’s obvious contradictions. The rationale to support the identification of passages in the Old Testament as being references to the coming ‘messiah’ is grasping at straws; requiring the reader to defy their own good sense in order to see any connection at all to the coming ministry of Jesus.

-it all comes down to how people, including the writers whose works were included by a subsequent group of ‘editors’ under the authority of the Emperor Constantine, chose to interpret the words of the Bible, in accordance with their particular agendas. Because of this, the per se universality of the Bible can never be achieved on its own merits; IT CAN ONLY BE SUPERIMPOSED.

-imposition requires authority and authorities change over time, if even a few years. Over the two millennia intervening between our day and the days described in the Bible, many changes in authority have transpired. The Roman Empire is gone. The Holy Roman Empire is gone. So too the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

– despite the passage of time, wars are still being fought over the Christian scripture, the Jewish scripture, and the Moslem scripture. It makes no sense that anyone would perceive value in killing what god has made in order to defend god’s name. It is beyond the capacity of sentient beings to want their offspring to be murdered.

The upshot:

The Bible is what it is. Its writers are no longer among us and so we can argue and discuss until we are blue in the face and get no closer to the truth of the matter with respect to a particular point of contention. The Bible, any scripture for that matter, if it is to be used correctly, is to be used as a supporting document; a reference to both prime and support discussions in matters of faith and historical tradition, within and among religious traditions and cultures. In this approach there are only winners.

It cannot be used in the way a society’s legal canon is used in order to determine innocence or guilt with respect to a certain point on a case by case basis. In fact, the creators of Canada’s legal canon deemed it necessary to provide some degree of latitude in its interpretation to future generations of Canadians. That is the canon judges use to determine innocence or guilt. How can anyone think to use documents which were created two to three thousand years ago to determine innocence or guilt; compliance or noncompliance? Thankfully, our judges do not. The Bible has been wrongly and inappropriately used for two millennia and more.

The height of irony/the falseness of humanity’s ego is that any sentient human being could think to use a ‘book’ dedicated to a god that is dedicated to love and happiness (no one willfully creates and loves anything which will cause them misery, hello?), to incite or support violence and the politicization of its contents to promote coercive social and geopolitical agendas and the misery and violence which inevitably results.

Jesus was about love. Jesus was about accountability. Jesus never chose to operate behind the scenes. It is hard for me to believe Jesus ever wanted folks to bow to him, or that he is somehow the doorway to Heaven and eternal life.

He had found the door. He only wanted to show us the way to it and through it.

What a Little Birdie Told Me – a short story

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What I am about to tell you, you won’t believe it. You won’t believe it because you will think I am making it all up! Perhaps you will think that I am really serious about it; that I really believed it happened –with or without a little bit of embellishment- that perhaps I only dreamed it? Well at least you won’t think that I am a liar, but, you will be thinking at the least I have a wild imagination; at the worst that I am, well, coo-coo! I am not sure which I prefer; however, since I am about to tell you a story, I will hope that, while you are reading my tale, you will at least try to believe it!
It happened just like this:

One day not long ago, I woke up early. Not early for school, or early because we were going on vacation. Early because the sun was shining directly on my face and there was this bird sitting on the window ledge making a horrible chirping racket. I rolled over onto my stomach and pulled the pillow over my head but that bird kept on chirping and I couldn’t fall back asleep. I couldn’t help but listen to the bird. I finally tried to shoo him away with the pillow but he would hover just outside my reach, beating his wings wildly and making a horrible noise. I could not understand why my mom didn’t hear. My dad could sleep through an earthquake. The darn thing wouldn’t shoo – I finally gave up and crawled back into my bed, and watched the bird with one eye, while I tried to get the other one to go back to sleep. The bird kept chirping at me; it took me awhile to realize it was mad at me for something and was giving me what –for. I kept wondering ‘what’s your problem you silly bird?’ I guess I must have said it out loud?
“You make an awful racket when you’re asleep!” it complained. “You sound like a field with a thousand cows all penned in together and you….”
“I what?”
“You smell like it too!” the bird grew sheepish. It took a moment but I realize that I must have been snoring and I woke the poor little thing up. But smell like…? Suddenly I became aware of an aroma wafting up from underneath my blankets and I realized that I must have just….well, you know.
I started to giggle to myself. The bird, very annoyed, asked “What is so funny?” Do you realize I had to sit there hungry for a whole hour before the sun was up high enough for me to see where I could fly to get something to eat?
‘Well no, I apologize for that, but do you not…”
“And that horrible smell! I can smell nothing now but the cows! I can’t smell where the food is at, or where my friends might be! It is a terrible thing you have done to me!”
By now I was forgetting about the pillow and wanting to throw something at the pesky bird. I could not understand why the bird was so angry at me! I had done nothing on purpose, and nothing that was anywhere near as bad as what that silly little bird did to me every day….starting with chirping so incessantly on Saturday mornings, the only day I could sleep in, dropping little bombs in the most conspicuous places (like on my window ledge) where mom was sure to see them and direct me to clean them up before I could go outside to play; and so far as the smell goes, well, I have been near enough of its cousin chickens to swear there is no fouler – or fowler – smell than that on the face of God’s good earth.
“You have to be the noisiest, smelliest, human alive….”, it was saying as I threw my 1st Place Piano competition trophy at it. The trophy missed the bird, but not the sidewalk, where it broke into a thousand pieces. The bird suddenly grew silent, turned, and flew away.

I was beside myself with anger and frustration over what just happened. I knew if mom or dad saw my trophy laying in pieces on the sidewalk I would be in even more trouble. I already felt bad enough, so I decided to escape out my window, but not before first leaving a note on my pillow so that they wouldn’t worry about where I was:

Dear mom and dad:
A little birdie came and gave me heck for snoring and farting. I threw something at it. I am very sorry. I went to look for the birdie in the forest to apologize to him. I’ll be back before lunchtime.
– Teira

And off I went. I clambered down the pipe that collects the rain from the roof and directs it away from the house. I was still in my pee-jays but that didn’t matter. Much more important to clean up the sidewalk and to find that little bird so that I could….well, I think you know I wasn’t completely being honest to my parents about what I wanted to do with the bird once I caught him?
By this time the birds were all up and chirping merrily and I knew it was going to be very difficult to find this pesky little thing in particular, but I was still mad enough about my trophy that it could take all day and I would not stop looking! I was on my way down the path that lead toward the forest when I stubbed my big toe on something.
“Ow!” I said.
“Ouch! Watch where you are going!” someone said in a hard, grating voice.
“Huh?” I was red with pain looking down upon a rock half buried in the dirt right in the middle of the path. The rock looked up at me, it’s face formed into a permanent frown.
“You stupid human. You walked right into me and did it on purpose. Serves you right you got hurt too! “
I regarded the rock and was taken aback by it’s conclusion that I had stubbed my toe on purpose. What kind of rock would be stupid enough to…ok, we’re talking about a rock after all! I was in no mood to take a scolding from an inanimate object whose thinking was being done inside an inanimate brain.
“You stupid rock!” I shot back. “I walk this path everyday and this is the first day you were here, otherwise I would have known not to step on you!” You were probably tossed up by my father’s ploughshare or something, like the stupid clump of useless molecules that you are.” I was surprised at my own vehemence, but I was angry enough that it actually felt good to say it.
“You are even harder than I am” said the rock. The last thing I remember is chucking that silly rock farther than I ever did throwing shot-put. I think I saw tears in its eyes.
I turned again toward the forest and continued my search. My big toe was throbbing, but now it hurt only as much as remembering my favourite trophy was in pieces in the garbage can. With any luck the garbage man will come by to collect it before my parents see it. Anyway, the further I go now, the longer it will take for them to find me, and the more time they will have to cool off before they do.
A way off I thought I heard something….not just any something, a very familiar something! Familiar as in bird, early morning, stupid human, that sort of familiar something! My heart quickened as I went off in the direction of the telltale chirp. I began to run, paying no attention to what I was stepping on – or in. How bad could it be anyways? Nothing worse than a cow-pie around here, I knew. Or did I?
I noticed something beginning to swirl around my head. I must have kicked up a dust cloud or had I stepped on….
“BEES!” I screamed aloud. My heart jumped up inside my chest. I was now running for my life. How could things have got this bad? It all started with a stupid little bird giving me ‘what-for’! My legs went faster than ever before in their entire lives. The forest was too far away to get to in time before the bees began stinging.
“I didn’t step on your nest on purpose!” I tried to explain to the noisy, menacing cloud.
“Yes you did! Cruel human. You are always breaking our nests and making us homeless. And we will sting you because we know it hurts you!”
“But when you sting me you will die because you lose your stinger!” I screamed back at them. The buzzing cloud seemed to hesitate momentarily, but then the buzzing renewed itself, sounding even angrier than before. At this very moment I ran past a mound of dirt.
“Quickly, upon your life, in here!” I heard someone say. The sound came from a dark hole on the opposite side of the mound. I had no time to consider but dove right inside.
With the bees buzzing angrily at the opening, I crawled as far into the hole as possible. I bumped into something very hard.
“Ouch!” I heard someone say.
“Watch where you are going!” I had heard that hard, grating voice before. It took a moment for my eyes to get used to the darkness, but I soon realized I was again face to face with that same silly little rock. My relief at being rescued from the bees, and not having jumped into something even more dangerous, like a bear’s den, was soon replaced with gratitude toward the rock, which was then transformed into sorrow and guilt over what I had said to the rock and how I had made it cry. For a few moments, neither of us said anything.
“Rock, I am sorry about what I said to you back there. I was very angry at you when I stubbed my toe… but it really wasn’t your fault. You couldn’t help being where you were, not having any legs, and you couldn’t help being hard…that’s what rock’s are, after all.”
“And you can’t help being stupid, because that’s what humans are” replied the rock, consolingly. It took all I could muster not to pitch that rock a second time, that is, until I realized that, being a rock, it couldn’t really understand how what it said would be understood by a ‘stupid’ human. At least I was able to understand that the rock was trying to be conciliatory, but I really had to try!
The bees outside grew less and less angry after a time and eventually went away to build another nest. My feelings of sadness toward the rock gave way to anger and revenge as my thoughts turned once again to the bird. I could hear it chirping away at something angrily. I was beginning to get the idea that whenever it chirped, it was because it was angry! Strange….most birds get up singing, welcoming the morning sun. But not this bird.
“I must go catch that bird’ I said to the rock, menace returning to my voice. The rock ‘humphed’ in response but said nothing.
“Do you want to come?” I asked.
“Are you going to throw me at the bird?” Good the rock asked, because I most likely would have, however, since we were now friends I couldn’t do that!
“No, I promise I won’t chuck you at the bird. If I need to throw anything, I’ll find a stick or something.” I picked up the rock and stuck him in my top pee-jay pocket, with the tip of the rock sticking out so it could see. “Now, hush’ I said.
I crept with the rock in the direction of the angry chirping. After a moment, I could tell the bird was ensconced in a rather stumpy looking maple tree at the edge of the forest. The bird was so involved in scolding whatever it was scolding that it did not notice us as we crept toward the tree. I quietly clambered up the oak tree right beside it, so that, after a few minutes, the rock and I were looking down upon the bird, not more than two metres away…if only I hadn’t promised the rock I wouldn’t throw it!
The bird was still unmindful of our presence, busy as it was with its scolding.
‘Such an angry little bird!” I was thinking. The bird was directing its dissonant tirade at a crook in the tree right below the branch it was perched upon. I saw a nest there. And inside the nest there was…I suddenly felt my heart well up into my throat…four eggs, or rather, what were four eggs. The eggs were shattered – in pieces – and there was yoke everywhere. After a time, I began to understand what the angry bird was yelling at the eggs:
“Why did you break so easily? Why were you so thin! You should have been stronger, so the hawk wouldn’t be able to peck through, when I went to get food….you were too thin”….then the angry bird stopped chirping for a moment, and began to cry. I felt tears begin to well up in my eyes too. I looked down at the rock, and the rock was looking up at me, eyes full of tears.
“Don’t worry little bird” I heard myself say. “It wasn’t their fault .”
The bird gave a start and looked in the direction of my voice.
“It wasn’t your fault either.” I said.
After a moment it recognized me but was too weak and weighted down with sadness to fly away. We stood there for a time looking at one another, me, the rock, and the bird. A quiet buzzing sound betrayed the presence of one of the angry bees who hadn’t left with the others, and who was now, well, busy eaves-dropping.
Suddenly my anger toward the bird gave way to sadness, as I began to understand. “Poor little bird.” I thought. It had lost the things it loved most in the world. How terrible! And though I heard it blaming the eggs, it occurred to me, deep down inside, the bird felt responsible for what happened. The air around us grew still, and all became silent, even the steady buzzing of the eaves-dropping bee had stopped. The stillness was punctuated only by the odd whimper, or the wiping away of tears.
After a moment, I realized the rock was looking up at me. The bee was too. I realized there was something for me to say:
“Little bird, will you come home with me….”
“Only you?” the rock broke in.
“…with us?” I asked. The bird looked up at us, its eyes still, wide pools of sorrow, such that none should have to bear alone.
“Where, where would I….”
“You can build a new nest in the tree right outside my window. No hawk will ever dare to come near a human’s house because they are afraid of us….they are apparently even stupider than we are!” We all looked at each other then burst into laughter. I laughed so hard I lost my balance and fell out of the tree, the rock along with me.
‘Ouch’ said the rock.
“Stupid human.” Said the bird. We all began to laugh again, this time all the way back to my house.
What a strange sight we made, me with a bird perched on my head, a rock peeking out my pee-jay pocket, and one bee buzzing busily around us! As we neared my house, my joy was replaced with anxiousness as I wondered if the garbage man had managed to carry away my trophy before my parents saw it? I stopped and looked into the garbage. The garbage was still there!
“Oh no!” I said aloud. It wasn’t garbage day! My heart welled with foreboding as I realized the only explanation was….
“Is this what you are looking for, Teira?” I heard my father’s voice say. I struggled to raise my head up to look at him. The rock had sunk back into my pocket and the bird had flown away – so had the bee. I was all alone.
As I raised my eyes, I saw my father’s hand. In it was my trophy. Not all shattered but whole – good as new! “Father, I…”
“Yes, sweetheart. I heard the whole thing when it happened. Moms and dads get up pretty early you know, especially if they are farmers!” I gave my dad and mom the world’s biggest hug.
“Now, go upstairs to wash your hands and get ready for lunch. You must be very hungry, busy little bee!”
Bee! Bird! Where had they gone? I ran upstairs to wash my hands faster than anyone has ever done before. But I ran straight past the washroom into my bedroom to look out the window to see if….yes! YES! There they were….the little bird was already gathering twigs to build its nest in the tree next to my bedroom window and the bee was, well, busy (because that’s what bees do) helping the bird.
Each day after, I went to bed early, because I couldn’t wait to wake up in the morning to hear what the little bird would be singing – and what a beautiful song it always made! I would look to the morning sun, marvelling at how beautiful it was. I would notice the rock sitting on the window ledge, patiently waiting for me to pick it up and tell it ‘good morning’.
“It’s going to be another beautiful day”, I would say to the rock, and to the bird outside. And it almost always was.
And then one morning, the little bird sang a song of such joy, it eclipsed all the others. I wondered at this for a moment, until I heard four tiny voices, one by one, begin to sing along with the little bird, in perfect harmony.
Then I understood.
THE END