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Jody Wilson-Raybould for prime minister of Canada!

Jody Wilson-Raybould,

Jody Wilson-Raybould

I sent the following email to Jody Wilson-Raybould on Wednesday after her testimony to the justice committee:

Subject: Commendation on your testimony
Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2019 22:16:58 -0800

Dear Mrs. Wilson-Raybould:

For the first time in my life, today I watched live proceedings from Parliament. I thought I’d switch off after your opening statement and get on with my day, but six hours later I was still riveted to the CBC video feed and then TV news broadcasts.

In the forty years since I came to Canada at the age of twelve I have never been so impressed at the integrity shown by a politician as I was today. Well done. And except for the repetitiveness of the lines of questioning, I was mostly (but not completely) impressed with the civility of the discourse and our parliamentary system.

When will Canadians have the opportunity to vote for a party with you at the helm? And where can I get my “JWR for PM” bumper sticker?

Craig

It’s ironic that Mr. Feminist himself doesn’t realise that “no means no“. The “grinning legatee” clearly has something to hide, even judging only by his own behaviour. I’m not a fan of the Conservative party, and Andrew Scheer in particular, but I do agree with his call for Trudeau’s resignation. Never thought he’d be a one-term wonder, but I’m hopeful now. Hypocrisy and arrogance are vile.

Come clean, Christy Clark

As a tax-paying British Columbian, I should love Christy Clark. I should. But I don’t.

She is a divisive character in BC politics. She’s not the first, that’s for sure, but you’d think that people would learn. Not “we the people”, but the politicians themselves. Nobody likes a divisive leader. They didn’t when Bill Vander Zalm was around, and they don’t now, so what does Clark think she’s gaining by her divisive style of leadership that Vander Zalm didn’t back in the late 1980s? If she’s gaining anything, it’s only with her cronies in the BC Liberal Party, not with any members of the voting public. Is that really putting “[BC] Families First”?

I’m moved to write about this at this time because of the dispute between the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) and BC’s public teachers. I could point fingers at both sides in this dispute for various reasons, but Clark particularly stands out for rebuke. I say that because no member of the British Columbian public really sees this as a labour dispute between a monolithic employer that doesn’t actually employ any teachers (the BCPSEA) and the BC Teachers’ Federation; it’s Christy and her sidekick of the moment in the education portfolio (Peter Fassbender as of this writing) versus the teachers. It’s an open secret that sealed court proceedings accidentally revealed by the NDP show that the current BC government — strongly led by Clark, so there’s no doubt who is driving this — has a policy to provoke a strike by BC teachers. Imagine! Any thinking leader — especially one with an alleged “Families First” agenda — would not set out to “provoke” anything, never mind the total disruption of the lives of BC’s families!

This won’t be a long post because I really want to get to what I believe is the crux of the matter here. This won’t address issues such as liveable wages in one of the most expensive places to live in the world, and a little thing called inflation. It also won’t address Clark’s contempt of the courts and her preference for fighting and defying their rulings on the legality of her actions dating back over a decade, actions that would get you and I thrown in jail!

Let’s look at Clark’s record with the education system. As Education Minister in the early 2000s she implemented changes that were unpopular with school boards and teachers. While it’s not my contention that popularity is the measure of success, popularity is the basis of democracy. And here we are, over a decade later, and the school boards are still struggling to provide services that are expected by the public and the provincial government on the pittance provided by the latter. Quite frankly, if it wasn’t for the dedication of those people on the ground — teachers, administrators and school board employees — the BC public school system would collapse. With her own child in a private school — a privilege affordable for only 11% (2012 figures) of BC pupils — one really can’t help but wonder if this is actually Clark’s intention.

But enough about that. It’s widely known that Clark’s father was a teacher, and one can reasonably assume that she herself attended at least some school. And here is where I get to the crux of the matter as I see it, and it’s the seldom asked question (at least publicly) on the tips of the tongues of just about anyone I talk to about the war between Clark and the teachers: What formative experience did Clark have — either with her father or one of her own teachers — that seems to put her at perpetual odds with educators? (By “educators” I include more than just teachers.) I’ve heard the term “daddy issues” used often enough to wonder if this premier’s divisive style of leadership — if you can call it “leadership” — is personally-driven rather than based on arguable ideology or coherent policy.

Is it, Christy? Is it time to come clean and excuse yourself from any involvement in the negotiating strategy with the BCTF or, for that matter, any of your government’s education policies that so negatively affect families and the education of their children? Is it time to put your son in a public school — like 89% of your constituents in this province, who feel their children are being used as pawns in a fight between grown-ups who should know better — and suffer with them through this labour strife that you have intentionally provoked?

Alison Redford’s Resignation

Alison Redford, 2012.

Alison Redford. Source: Dave Cournoyer

I shouldn’t have anything to say about the resignation of a politician in a jurisdiction where I do not live. But, I do.

First of all, I do wonder what the hell a provincial politician is doing spending tax-payer money (and a considerable sum of it, at that) on a trip to the funeral of the former leader of another country. If she felt so strongly about going to Mandela’s funeral, she should have spent her own money to do so. (I don’t know how wealthy she is, but I’d bet she would have worked to get a better deal to do so than the $45 000 of tax-payers’ money she supposedly spent, which will no doubt be paid for by passing the hat around among her supporters now that she has said she will repay it.) If the prime minister wants to waste money going to the funeral of a (former) terrorist who happened to become the leader of a country … well, I suppose that’s one of the perks of the job. What can we tax-paying peons do? But even a provincial leader has no business dealing with other national governments on a direct level, not officially anyway.

But I am drawn to the comments of Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi, as quoted in the CBC article Alison Redford resigning as Alberta premier:

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says Redford’s resignation as premier is a sign of what is wrong with the political process.

Nenshi says while he disagrees with some of the things she did, Redford was trying to do good things for the province as leader.

“I want to remind people that this is also a human story,” he said.

“It’s about a real person. A good person. A person who loves this province and has worked hard and made incredible sacrifices for this place. And it’s the story of a system that takes somebody like that, chews them up and spits them out.”

Forget the sentimentality of his comments and those of the NDP leader, Brian Mason. It just seems shocking to me that, after not even two and a half years at the helm, she’s run out of town because, to paraphrase one of the thin-skinned members of her revolting caucus, she’s a “mean bitch”. If even people who philosophically oppose her (such as Mason) can say positive things (remember, Redford has resigned, not died) like, “I have to say I thought she was a very intelligent premier with her own vision …”, then I do have to wonder about the short-sightedness of what has happened there — short-sightedness on the part of both the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta and Redford herself. Even if you’re a cynical, poll-watching politician who thinks only in terms of getting re-elected at the next election, the next election isn’t even for a couple of years yet!

Again, I don’t live in Alberta, and so I’m not on top of the spending issues (in addition to the one above) that people seem to be laying at her feet, and the charges of entitlement (I thought all politicians felt entitled?) and being “out of touch”. Maybe if I was an Albertan I’d be cheering right now; I really don’t know. But it was Nenshi’s comments that grabbed my attention. On the one hand I can’t help but feel that a huge percentage of politicians — from the lowliest town councillor to the top dog in the land — are on the take somehow and bilking the taxpayer with every breath they take. On the other hand, I also can’t help but feel that you can’t ever hope to attract decent people to politics if they get treated this way the minute they’re not the flavour of the moment.

Can Redford be nearly as bad as the dickhead we have running the country — his utter contempt for the electorate at large on display Wednesday by the manner in which the swearing in of the new finance minister was carried out? Although I wonder if perhaps she gave up and rolled over too easily, I also can’t help but compare her apparent willingness to step aside for the greater good to the exact opposite behaviour of that buffoon and national embarrassment in Toronto, Rob Ford.

I am a supporter of terrorists and other nasty people

I’m a little behind the eight ball, as this is now “old news”, but this week I donated money to Greenpeace Canada for the first time in my life. Why? Well, I’ll explain it this way: When you donate to Greenpeace online they have a field on the donation form that asks why you’re motivated to donate to them. This is what I filled in: “Stephen Harper says you’re terrorists” (not to mention funded by foreign money).

Way to go Stevie. Nothing like using hyperbole to convince people to support those not on your side of what should be a reasoned debate. Maybe you should take a lesson from … uh, yourself.

In other vilify-your-opponent news, there’s your friendly neighbourhood defender against the bogeyman, Vic Toews, Canadian Minister of Public Safety. Didn’t he learn anything from George Bush’s “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists” gaffe? (Read or watch George; read or watch Vic.) Really, any thinking person on either side of any argument rejects this kind of useless rhetoric, and some courageous people (like Margaret Wente) have the guts to come right out and say it.

Mr. Toews also took to the pages of the Asian Pacific Post in a full-page editorial that may have been preaching to a choir that probably thinks Canada is too soft on crime anyway, given the regimes in place where many of the readers of that publication originate. (Incidentally, the online version appears to be a slightly reduced version of the printed one.) He also makes the disingenuous comparison of private data (what he calls “basic subscription data”) to “the modern equivalent of phonebook [sic] information”. Mr. Toews, I can’t help but wonder if your personal home phone number is listed in your local telephone directory. Is it? Oh, it’s unlisted? You mean, you want it to be private?! What a radical concept!

A much more reasoned response to Toews’ rhetoric comes in the form of an editorial by John Ibbitson (‘With us or with the child pornographers’ doesn’t cut it, Mr. Toews). He writes:

Privacy commissioners in Ottawa and the provinces will not like being called such vile names. … There are powerful arguments on both sides. None of us want to handicap police in their efforts to track those who would defraud us, harm children or plot acts of terror. But we must also be wary of granting the state new powers that could restrict the sovereignty of citizens. … should the state be allowed to have new powers to know who we are on the web — in effect, to register our online identities — without a judicial warrant or even our knowledge or consent?

But Yoni Goldstein also makes half a point in his editorial (or is it a satire piece?) Stop Pretending to Care About Privacy. He contends that the general public is hypocritical and has already given up any notion of privacy in”tweeting” and “facebooking” the minutiae of their lives, and using Gmail. (Actually, I’ll give him two-thirds of a point, as he also validly points out the hypocrisy of people who wail about their privacy being violated, all while keeping rags like the National Enquirer and websites like TMZ in business so that they can see the nipples and dead bodies of celebrities.) However, he conveniently doesn’t mention things like monitoring private communications like email, instant messaging, voice and video.

Sometimes it takes a cartoon to really get the point across, and so I present these two. The first refers to Bill C-51 (the Investigative Powers for the 21st Century (IP21C) Act, also here), a predecessor to the current Bill C-30 (previously known by its short title Lawful Access Act, tendentiously renamed to Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act to make sure that opponents of the bill are aware that they are supporters of child pornographers), and plays on the well-worn (but completely bogus) argument that if you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about. The second is clever and speaks for itself.

The innocent have nothing to fear.

The innocent have nothing to fear.

Toews must be an online predator.

Toews must be an online predator.


Update, 15 March 2012: This post was getting long enough, so I had to cut it off somewhere. However, if your impression of “Anonymous” is that they are a bunch of rogue geeks/nerds that are kinda mostly harmless, but they could get out of hand and bring down civilisation as we know it at any moment, you need to read How I learned to stop worrying and love Anonymous.

And probably the most succinct summary I’ve read about why Bill C-30 is bad comes from Ivor Tossell, who writes (in Toews’s ‘child pornographers’ gaffe aside, Bill C-30 has real dangers):

Contrary to what you might have heard, the new bill, C-30, doesn’t invite police to monitor your every online move without a warrant. It does, however, require Internet companies — loosely defined — to cough up your name, Internet protocol address and a few other identifiers if the police ask for them, even without a warrant. This means that the police could conceivably collect a pseudonym you’ve been using to comment on websites, present it to the relevant company, and say, “Who is this person?”

By trading pseudonyms for IP addresses, then IP addresses for real names and addresses, and repeating the process, police could get a pretty clear picture of what you’ve been up to online.

So yeah, without a warrant the cops can “only” get “the modern equivalent of phonebook information”, but to extend that analogy, they can then follow you from your home to see where you work and with whom you socialise, they can peek in your windows to see your taste in the art hanging on your walls (and which one your safe is hiding behind), they can rifle through your garbage and the mail in your mail box, and on the list goes, and all without a warrant just because they managed to obtain your “phonebook information”. In the online world — again, all without a warrant — they can now see that you gripe about (or are blowing the whistle on) your employer, they can see that you have a personal advert on that dating site that caters to cheating spouses, they can see that you regularly bid on and buy old Barbie dolls on eBay (you big tough biker guy you), and so on. This is all personal information that is ripe for abuse in the wrong hands, and that includes the hands of the police.

Now maybe you and I “have nothing to fear” (see cartoon above) or even be just a little bit embarrassed about, but these things violate your privacy, plain and simple, and we should all fear that.

RIP Jack Layton

Today Canada lost its only political leader. Whether or not you agree with his politics and the politics of his party, Jack Layton was the only leader of a major federal party that actually met the definition of the word “leader”. Others, including the current prime minister, are certainly the figureheads of their respective parties, but they are not leaders. There’s a huge difference. It was not just Layton’s success in the most recent election that made him a leader; it was the fact that he actually had a vision for Canada.

Rest in peace, Jack. We lost more than just another citizen today. You are not irreplaceable — none of us are in the grand scheme of things — but the question is whether or not someone of your calibre can be found in time to avoid Canada becoming a de facto one-party state.

The fickle American voter

As someone who doesn’t get to vote in American elections, I chastised friends and acquaintances for jumping on the Obama bandwagon back in 2008 and following it all on TV like it was some kind of daily serial. I do realise that what happens in America influences a lot of non-voters; just ask the Iraqis. However, there’s a difference between academic interest and fanaticism. But I was neither for nor against Obama; he may have said some thought-provoking things, but I am extremely cynical when it comes to politicians.

But if it wasn’t so serious, I’d laugh at the American voter. Here they elect a guy on a wave of popularity not seen, I believe, in the lifetimes of most American voters. Then two years later, because he hasn’t changed the world, brought about universal peace, cured all diseases for evermore, and put a million dollars in everyone’s bank accounts, they vote for the party that is diametrically opposed to him. Huh? Am I the only one who thinks this American voter is an idiot?

But it just starkly illustrates much of that’s wrong with the American political system. Black and white, for us or against us, commies and capitalists, red and blue, flip and flop, and simply no possibility of middle ground. Almost makes the Canadian two-and-a-half-party system look like paradise.

And I’m going to say something I never thought I’d say, because too many politically-correct people are too quick to blame something like … oh, let’s say, race … for one thing or another. But I do have to wonder if they all voted for him back in 2008 just because he is (half) black, and I do have to wonder if the Tea Partiers were so vocal and so successful for the same reason.

The American voter is both fickle and short-sighted. Then again, they’re no better in British Columbia, where the provincial government is trying to bribe people with promises of a cheque for $19.17 per month to vote in favour of the HST. And you know what? People will buy that … or rather, I should say, will be bought by that.