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canadian politics

Non-fungible tokens, and other news

So Jack Dorsey’s selling of his first tweet came to my attention recently. Huh. I’ve just loaded it in my browser (you can too, by clicking the link), without paying anyone $2.5 million, or whatever it’s up to today. I can take a screenshot of it, print it on paper or to PDF, put a laurel of gold leaves around it, save it to my hard drive … and never look at it again.

On the other hand, if I had a few hundred million dollars I might buy the Mona Lisa, hang it on my wall, and impress my friends.

Maybe I’m an old fuddy-duddy already, but I get the latter, but not the former. I do own art in various forms — paintings (originals, not prints), sculptures, books, photographs, etc. — but just because you can (theoretically) make something digital “artificially scarce” doesn’t mean a damned thing to me. If you buy Jack’s tweet, how is that better than the screenshot I just took? How does it make you better than me, or perhaps how does it just make you better? Or ultimately, how does it make the world better? That last question is a question that more people should ask themselves more often.

Bizarre organisational names

The domain humana.org came to my attention today. No particular reason. But the organisation’s full name on their extended validation certificate caught my eye. “The Fed. for Ass. conn. to the I…”. See for yourself.

Humana SSL certificate

Humana SSL certificate.

This is apparently short for “The Federation for Associations connected to the International Humana People to People Movement”. (There’s probably a single German word for that, which would make sense seeing as they’re in Switzerland.) The abbreviation “ass” for the long word “association” (or “assemblies” in the case of “Assemblies of God”, or “Ass. of God” as you see on signs all over parts of Africa) always gets my puerile mind’s attention!

Anyway, my point is more about the long and involved name rather than the connection I make to someone’s buttocks.

Vaccines in Canada

Justin Trudeau is still, laughably, sticking to his “every Canadian will be vaccinated by the end of September” dog-and-pony routine, while others involved have finally admitted that they “hope” to have all of us vaccinated by Canada Day, July 1st. (Hey, three days before the Americans!) I’ll believe it when I see it, as at this point both the Americans and the Canadians seem to be tossing numbers in the air like crazed jugglers, for the amusement of the crazed public watching them on TV.

Royal wankers

Seemingly everyone and their donkey are talking about Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey recently. To me that’s a very good reason not to talk about it, but here we go anyway.

First, if one was actually able to talk to the couple as real people, they’re probably decent human beings, don’t get me wrong.

However, they are two of the most privileged people in the entire fucking world. I don’t care that Markle is female and half black — two of the traits that apparently make you less privileged — but she is more privileged than I will ever be in my life. And yet she married into the British Royal Family and is … surprised (?!) … that her life is not turning out like the Disney version of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid”?! Give me a fucking break!

I have endless sympathy for Harry and what he lost when his mother was, essentially, murdered by the press, who are an extension of everyone who has ever bought a copy of a rag with lurid headlines. And I sure wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of their headlines and despicable behaviour, as Markle has been. However, she chose to be in that position. Yes, she did it for love, but some things aren’t worth love … or some love isn’t worth some things, however you want to regard it.

I don’t care if “The Firm” folds tomorrow and disappears. However, Harry and Markle are world class whiners who used up their fifteen minutes of fame long ago, and don’t deserve another second. I don’t care who apparently speculated on the hue of their first kid’s skin and their motivation; it is something to wonder about in a mixed-race union that produces children! It’s something that more than one cheating wife or girlfriend has had to be concerned about in the history of humanity! But their going on TV and complaining about how terrible their lives are — to the point of contemplating suicide — is an absolute joke. Other people have had to suffer far worse lives than those two, and someone should apprise them of that fact.

Response from my MP about slow roll-out of COVID-19 vaccine in Canada

So two weeks after I wrote to my MP and MLA about the glacial roll-out and extraordinarily pathetic vaccination goal of the Canadian government, I heard back from my MP, Kenny Chiu. He is in Opposition, so really, his reply was just an agreement with my position. His assistant included a statement from Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner; except for the hyperbole about “overflowing morgues” and “lies”, it may be the only time she and I will ever be in agreement!

We’re still in a state of stasis in Canada, with vaccine delivery numbers abysmally low. Again, don’t get me wrong; I don’t think we all will or should be vaccinated by next week. But gimme a break, the goal of vaccinating all of us by a month after the summer ends, while the variants gather steam and India vaccinates eight Canadas, is just crazy talk. Unbelievably, Trudeau keeps harping on about that goal, as if it’s the best goal in the world! I keep coming back to the crux of the matter: What could possibly be more important, right now, today?!

No reply yet from my MLA, Kelly Greene (or, of course, Trudeau or Horgan), and at this late stage I’m not holding out much hope for one.


From: “Chiu, Kenny – M.P.” <Kenny.Chiu_AT_parl.gc.ca>
To: Craig Hartnett
Subject: RE: Reasoning for slow roll-out of COVID-19 vaccine in Canada
Date: Thu, 28 Jan 2021 19:58:33 +0000

Good afternoon, Mr. Hartnett,

Thank you for writing the office of Kenny Chiu, member of Parliament for Steveston-Richmond East.

As Canada did not receive any of the Pfizer vaccine this week, it has lead to significant delays and stoppages in Canada’s vaccine distribution.

A recent statement from vaccine manufacturer Pfizer indicated that some European countries may not be as hard hit by the delivery delays as Canada has experienced and will continue to experience.

Canada sits at just 1.44% of its population vaccinated, well behind the pace of other nations.

Our nation cannot secure jobs, we cannot secure our economic recovery, we cannot secure the future without vaccines. Conservatives are deeply frustrated by the government’s on-going failure to procure and deliver vaccines for Canadians.

As such, Canada’s Conservatives are calling on the Liberal government to:

1. Tell Canadians what specific steps they are taking to make up this shortfall;
2. Tell Canadians honestly when they can reasonably expect to be vaccinated;
3. Disclose Canada’s precedence against other countries in the vaccine delivery schedules for the contracts they’ve signed; and
4. Deliver an emergency plan that gets vaccines to Canadians.

Please know MP Chiu is working with his colleagues to support Canadians and hold the government to account for their ongoing mismanagement of priorities during this pandemic.

I wish you and your family good health, please stay safe and continue follow all necessary guidelines to help restrict the spread of COVID-19. We can make it through this together.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Daviau
Parliamentary Assistant
Office of Kenny Chiu M.P.
Steveston—Richmond East
Shadow Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Youth

177 Confederation Bldg., House of Commons
Office | 613-992-1385
E-mail | Jennifer.jennekens-daviau.831@parl.gc.ca

P.S. I have included for your reference a recent statement delivered by our MP Michelle Rempel Garner on this topic. See below.

************************************

Canadians Need a Vaccine. Now.

CALGARY, AB – The Hon. Michelle Rempel Garner, Shadow Minister for Health, issued the following statement regarding the Liberal government’s failure to get vaccines for Canadians:

“Before Christmas, Justin Trudeau said Canadians would be at the front of the global line for a vaccine. This was clearly a lie.

“Canadian provinces are running out of vaccines and are pleading for the federal government to get more. Meanwhile, people in Israel are getting their vaccines ten times faster than Canadians. The United States is on track to vaccinate the equivalent of our population before most Canadians will get the chance. But Canada only has a federal Liberal government finger-pointing on who is responsible for a slow vaccine delivery roll-out and a severe lack of widespread rapid or at-home testing options.

“It doesn’t matter how many doses the federal Liberals supposedly ordered; the reality is that they’re not here now.

“Morgues are overflowing. People are under curfew. Outbreaks in long-term care homes continue. Small businesses are permanently shuttering. Suicides and domestic violence levels are skyrocketing. The pandemic has reached levels we’ve never seen before. It didn’t have to be this way.

“Canadians deserve better than sitting in lockdown, under curfew, civil liberties removed with COVID-19 case numbers skyrocketing, while refrigerator trucks are brought to morgues and provinces are waiting for more vaccines. The federal Liberals have had months to take the leadership role Canadians are counting on to get these things done.

“We are calling on Justin Trudeau to get provinces vaccines to deliver. Every day that we delay getting vaccines to vulnerable Canadians puts more Canadian lives at risk.”

Reasoning for slow roll-out of COVID-19 vaccine in Canada

This week I sent the following email to my Member of Parliament (MP, Kenny Chiu) and my Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA, Kelly Greene), copied to the Prime Minister of Canada and the Premier of British Columbia. I’m not expecting a substantive — or any! — reply from any of them, to be frank. However, if I do I’ll update this post or make a new one.


From: Craig Hartnett
To: kenny.chiu_AT_parl.gc.ca, kelly.greene.mla_AT_leg.bc.ca
CC: pm_AT_pm.gc.ca, premier_AT_gov.bc.ca, letters_AT_nationalpost.com, sunletters_AT_vancouversun.com
Subject: Reasoning for slow roll-out of COVID-19 vaccine in Canada
Date: Thu, 14 Jan 2021 21:09:28 -0800

Dear Mr. Chiu and Ms. Greene,

I write to both of you with respect to the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine in Canada. From my point of view, it seems that (currently) acquisition is a Federal responsibility, and administration and deployment a Provincial one. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe my concern should be addressed to both levels of government.

Like the vast majority of Canadians, I (and to the best of my knowledge, my family and friends, to whom this email is blind-copied) have been following provincial health guidelines. I and we are not heroes for doing this, but we have trusted our health officials and interrupted our lives accordingly.

It is not a surprise to me that life did not “go back to normal” a week after the first vaccine was approved. I’m not that stupid. However, it shocks me to hear that India plans to vaccinate 300 million of its citizens by July, while Canada’s lofty goal is to vaccinate an eighth as many people (38 million) by September. (I do note that 300 million people is only about 22% of its population; I also note that both figures are just projections.) Israel — a much smaller country I do admit without the geographical and meteorological challenges of Canada — has already vaccinated one million people, about 11% of its population. (These Israeli numbers are already out of date; they have now vaccinated 25% of their population, over two million people!)

I’m not engaging in “vaccine nationalism” here, but these figures tell me that there is absolutely no sense of urgency on the part of Canadian governments to vaccinate our populace. On newscasts, doctors and other medical officials have told us that vaccination is a complicated, multi-step and time-consuming process, but if the danger was more clear and present, I suspect those bureaucratic obstacles could be cleared in short order.

If we can mount Federal elections across this vast country in a span of twelve hours, why the hell can’t we mount the same effort — with volunteers also carrying out complicated, multi-step tasks and record-keeping — to get our population vaccinated sooner? I’m not suggesting we can vaccinate the entire country in one day, and I realise that we have to wait our turn for supplies of vaccines, but the September time line seem utterly and ridiculously low, especially when compared with India’s goals.

What’s more important? Vaccinations, fewer deaths and a recovering economy, or paperwork and record-keeping?

Canadians are tired, and it shows in the numbers. We’re also tired of politicians over-promising and under-delivering. According to the CBC, Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin has “conceded Canada’s vaccine supply will be rather ‘limited’ for the first three months of this year ….” This goes against all of the talk of prominent politicians, not the least of which is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau! Sure, Mr. Trudeau has promised we’ll all be vaccinated by the end of September, but as shown above, two months before that date India will have vaccinated eight Canadas!

Canada needs more imagination and determination than we are currently showing. At the very least, the country should consider employing the military in the process, but there are other ideas out there too.

I believe that Canada needs to work overtime to pick up the pace. What are you doing to impress upon our Prime Minister and Premier that they’re not doing enough?

Yours sincerely,

Craig Hartnett

Richmond BC

Cc:

  • Prime Minister of Canada, The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
  • Premier of British Columbia, The Honourable John Horgan
  • National Post, Editor
  • Vancouver Sun, Editor

Bcc:

  • Family and friends

Following this, I received this email from one of my correspondents:

The story all along has been that everyone would be vaccinated by September. Given that the approved vaccines require two doses one would infer that ‘vaccinated’ meant that everyone would have received two shots. Story has changed today — now it is that everyone will have received one shot by September. This country is run by a bunch of fucking retards. They turned down extra Moderna doses and that option has now gone and ordered more Pfizer doses. Well, we know where that went today. So Trudeau kept on about how many millions of doses they had contracts for but they don’t seem to be worth the paper they’re written on because fuck all is showing up. We are behind Slovenia for god’s sake (maybe that has something to do with Melania).

As for the twits who, with no medical background, keep on about extending the time between shots — they should all be fired and people with brains put in as replacements.

My reply:

I mocked Michelle Rempel — Conservative, attention-loving, blonde MP from Alberta — when she called Trudeau et al. “incompetent”, despite the fact that it was the Conservatives who let vaccine manufacturers close up shop here years ago, but maybe she was right!

I was blown away when Hillier speculated about extending the time between shots, and I told […] he sounded like trump! And then, to my surprise, “experts” all over government were agreeing with him! It’s a bloody joke!

Trudeau keeps going on about meeting the September promise, with no mention of how pathetic that goal is!

Slow rate of COVID-19 vaccination in Canada

I am heartily amused by the fact that Justin Trudeau is “as frustrated” as the rest of us Canadians over the slow rate at which COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out in Canada. Thanks Justin, but the difference between you and the rest of the great unwashed is that you can do something about your government’s lacklustre performance!

Meanwhile, “India plans to vaccinate some 300 million people between January and July“. That’s about eight times the population of Canada by two months sooner. These are projections, of course, but it shows you how low the Canadian government is aiming.

Now, I know that we’re reliant on foreign supplies of vaccines since the Conservative Party ran the drug companies out of Canada (someone needs to tell Michelle Rempel that when she hypocritically accuses Trudeau’s government of “incompetence”), but there just doesn’t seem to be a sense of urgency. We’ve had vaccines for about a month now, and only a third of them have been injected. I heard one of the doctors explain on one newscast or another that we just don’t understand; it’s a multi-step, time-consuming process that requires consent and record keeping. Meanwhile, Israel (who I do recognise are a tiny country compared to Canada without the geographical and meteorological challenges of Canada) is racing ahead and putting the rest of the world to shame in terms of the percentage of their population they’ve vaccinated.

Here’s an idea: If we can run an election across the country in a twelve-hour period (that also requires multiple steps and record keeping), why can’t we use the same infrastructure to do the same with vaccines? I’m not suggesting that we’ll vaccinate all 40 million people in twelve hours, but we certainly won’t have vaccines sitting in fridges doing no bloody good!

Election speculation, 2020

Sigh. There’s just no limit to the depths to which politicians will sink. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic (if you’ll excuse the redundancy) and Canadians have elections or threatened elections left, right and centre. OK, three elections out of a possible fourteen federal, provincial and territorial elections isn’t exactly a lot, but if one does it, the rest of the politicians might follow … like lemmings, or a virus maybe. As Blaine Higgs — who was heading a minority government in New Brunswick, perhaps the “right” (in more ways than one) in the “left, right and centre” — succeeded in winning a majority in New Brunswick, half the rest of the country will pile on the bandwagon. I don’t have my finger on the pulse of every province and territory, but generally speaking they’ve followed science and their public health officers (unlike in certain other painfully obvious countries) and they are reaping the benefits in their poll numbers. Even Doug Ford in Ontario, if you can believe that!

Which bring us to the left (again, in more ways than one) of the country here in BC. Apparently John Horgan also thinks the time is right to convert his minority government into a majority. The speculation has reached a fever pitch, and for all we know we’ll see the writ dropped today, by some accounts. Horgan better hope that our COVID-19 numbers don’t get any worse than they are; schools have just gone back, and we still have to see how the Labour Day long weekend and the schools affect those numbers.

Which brings us to the centre. (Weird how the language works here.) Justin Trudeau also wants to convert his minority federal government into a majority. The aforementioned fever pitch hasn’t been reached in Ottawa yet, but the smirk on Trudeau’s face tells the story. The pandemic has been a boon for him and his friends, well, until his stupidity resulted in the WE Charity folding its Canadian operations last week. (No loss in my book. Why do people get excited about adults jumping up and down like idiots and demeaning themselves on stage?) His poll numbers, too, are through the roof, and he’d love to take on the new Leader of the Opposition, Erin O’Toole. But he too better hope that the pandemic numbers don’t get worse before an election (he talks as if he’s had a handle on it since day one), as it seems that hypocrisy and material failures in his leadership don’t seem to stick to him.

Canada-China prisoner swap

Protest sign calling for the release of Kovrig and Spavor.

Protest sign calling for the release of Kovrig and Spavor

It seems bizarre to me to be writing about this kind of medieval or (I suppose) Cold War-type prisoner swap in the 21st century, but it seems that some countries (namely China) are still in that kind of backwards mindset. (This is particularly ironic, given the assertion by the deputy director of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Information Department [Zhao Lijian] that other countries [namely the US] suffer from a “Cold-War mentality“! Proof that politicians everywhere talk out of both sides of their mouths.)

I’d like to make clear a few of my assumptions and biases first:

  • I am not under the influence of China or any Chinese pressure groups, and presumably the authors of both of the letters to which I refer below are not either,
  • I travel internationally as much as I can, and although I have travelled to China, I have not (so far) knowingly travelled to any countries where my life or liberty might be in danger,
  • I am a dual citizen.

I have read the letter from the “distinguished Canadians” to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (cached copy), and I think it forms a basis on which Canada could move forward. It disgusts me that a reasonably civilised country like Canada should be in this position, but it is; it’s similarly repugnant that a country like China, who would like to present themselves to the world as being civilised (all the while acting the global bully wherever it thinks it can get away with it), would do such a thing. But they have, and here we are. And why have they taken hostages? Well, Meng Wanzhou isn’t some low-life drug trafficker or any other alleged common criminal; she seems to be about as close as you can get to royalty in China in the modern age, just without (obviously) the diplomatic immunity. Quite frankly, their taking hostages is the international equivalent of an unhappy child throwing their toys out of their cot!

Among the objections to this course of action are those of Trudeau himself (and presumably therefore the Government of Canada) and 53 signatories of an opposing letter from the Macdonald-Laurier Institute. The objections seem to boil down to three primary issues, with a fourth unstated openly by the Canadian government:

  • Principles: A prisoner swap would weaken Canada’s principles. It matters not that two innocent Canadians have been deprived of their liberty for a year and a half (so far), as long as some unarticulated principle is upheld. I’ll address that shortly.
  • Giving in to hostage takers: I see the value in not giving in to the demands of hostage takers, but in my mind there is a significant difference between a hostage taker that also happens to be a state, and a hostage taker that is an individual or a group (e.g., a terrorist organisation), i.e., not a state. Quite frankly, a state that violates the norms of international practice (if not law) and takes hostages, is a pariah state, and one that should be isolated by all states. Of course, I’m no naïf, and I know that a superpower like China can’t and won’t be isolated by all states, but there are measures that Canada, and others, can take. Also more on that shortly.
  • Endangering travelling Canadians: As if Canadians are somehow magically protected when they’re travelling internationally now, the assertion is made that negotiating the release of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig will result in Canadians abroad being taken hostage with more frequency. I feel that theory holds when we’re talking about hostages taken by the aforementioned individuals or groups, but not when we’re talking about hostages taken by states. If the principles of due process, comity and international law are not strong enough to prevent states from exercising their unlimited power within their own borders to arbitrarily detain random foreigners, does anyone really think that an unspoken “disapproval” of hostage taking is going to achieve the same goal?!
  • Canada’s commitment to lawful extraditions, and in particular to the United States: While there is no doubt that following some sort of process to “free” Chinese citizen Meng Wanzhou from Canada’s legal system will royally piss of the Americans, let’s not lose sight of the fact that her arrest under an extradition request is nothing short of the United States using an extradition treaty to prosecute their global foreign policy (particularly against Iran and China in this case) through a third party (Canada), not enforcing criminal law alleged to have been broken on its own soil by one of its own citizens. Now, I don’t claim any expert knowledge of extrajurisdictionality (especially as the principle applies to international sanctions), but it seems to me that this must be considered differently to cases involving the citizens of one’s own country fleeing to other jurisdictions to avoid prosecution in the home jurisdiction. In my opinion the United States and China — their empires colliding — need to use other means to carry out their mutual attempts to exert international control, in ways that don’t compromise their so-called allies … or in the latter’s case, the country that many of their citizens now call home, and will likely be calling home to a greater extent following Beijing’s crackdown on freedom in Hong Kong.

On the part of those advocating something more expedient (so to speak) there are the principles of fairness and humanity. It’s not news to most people that communist systems tend to “[override] individual self-interest and [subjugate] the welfare of the general population to achieve [their] goals“, and it’s quite clear to any observer that the “individual self-interest” of the Two Michaels (or their families) is of no interest to the Chinese Government. Then there’s the degree to which Canada’s foreign policy (especially with respect to China) has been hobbled by their inability to speak more bluntly where China continues to abuse its own citizens ([Hong Kong] (whose refugees will shortly be flooding Canada, the UK and other countries), [Tiananmen Square], etc.), its neighbours ([India], [Taiwan], etc.), and others around the world — as they are doing to Canada right now. If a country’s policy in one area or another is hobbled by an identifiable cause, then it certainly is a matter of national interest and perhaps security to take whatever action is necessary to address the problem!

So what’s my suggestion? Glad you asked. I think Canada should negotiate and implement these points:

  • The last thing Canada should do is simply “free” Meng Wanzhou and then “hope” that China reciprocates. That’s just insanity! Even if they do reciprocate, it could still be years before the Two Michaels are released under one mechanism (also trumped up) or another, simply to show who has the power in the relationship, and to give China the ability to claim (falsely of course) that the release of the Michaels was not connected. No, if China has actually gone as far as to tacitly acknowledge that they have apprehended the Michaels on trumped-up espionage charges, then Canada should publicly state to China that we are ready to negotiate a prisoner swap, and move to begin the negotiations. (To quote China: “Zhao Lijian: … we have also seen reports of an interview with Kovrig’s wife on June 23, during which she said that the Canadian justice minister had the authority to stop Meng Wanzhou’s extradition process at any point; such options are within the rule of law and could open up space for resolution to the situation of the two Canadians.“)
  • The prisoner swap must be very public, and televised on live television in both countries. Since Canada and China don’t share a land border, I suggest that a Royal Canadian Navy ship meet with a PLA Navy ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to do the exchange, preferably over a gangplank between the ships. Alternatively, and slightly more practically I suppose, the prisoner exchange could take place on one of China’s land borders, or perhaps in the Korean DMZ.
  • Canada's Hong Kong travel advisory, 2 July 2020.

    Canada’s Hong Kong travel advisory, 2 July 2020

    One of the less obvious unilateral actions that Canada (and actually, all countries) should take in the current international climate is to start negotiating bilateral “non-hostage” treaties with other countries, possibly connected to extradition treaties. How would these work? Well, you simply make a pact with another country that neither of you will take each other’s citizens hostage. Of course, arrests in the course of normal law enforcement would be acceptable, but not arbitrary detentions with no evidence. If Canada doesn’t have such a non-hostage treaty with a country, then the travel advisory for that country would state, in very prominent and unambiguous wording, that a such a treaty does not exist and therefore Canada very strongly warns against travel to that country. (There is currently, as of 10 July 2020, a similar warning on the Government of Canada Hong Kong travel advisory [see screenshot] on the “laws and culture” tab, but it is neither prominent nor strong enough, and there is nothing on the China travel advisory advising against travel there except for COVID-19 reasons.) Without a non-hostage treaty, if a Canadian citizen (for the sake of this example) is arbitrarily detained (taken hostage) then Canada will make attempts to provide consular assistance, but will not try that hard. This is more likely to have a greater effect on dual citizens (of which I am one, I should make clear), especially for those for whom Canadian citizenship is a citizenship of convenience.

I have no doubt that the Government of Canada is indeed “doing” something in the background (as happened in Egypt recently), even if it’s just talking amongst themselves, but to the rest of us beer-swilling plebs in the deserted (at the moment) pubs and stalking the blogosphere, it sure looks like the safety and security of Canadians abroad is not a concern to Canada, contrary to their professions otherwise.

Canada is small potatoes to China, in probably every way you can think of except land mass, coastline and morals, but everyone learns when they are still a child that bullies can be stood up to. This is what Canada and most of the rest of the world must to do to stop, or at least ameliorate, China’s bullying tactics. I don’t in any way suggest that China needs to be stomped down as the “enemy”, but just as happens with individual humans they have become too big for their breeches, and for that there are or need to be consequences. Part of the “problem” with China is not even the fault of the Chinese; it’s the West’s constant obsession with “unlimited growth”. However, that’s a debate for another day.

Collage: Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor (the Two Michaels).

Collage: Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor (the Two Michaels)

Don’t wanna wear a mask? Why are you even wearing clothes?!

I have to laugh at the Canadians who are now emulating their stupider American neighbours, and protesting at mask laws. It’s all about freedom, they claim. But if you won’t wear a mask, why are you wearing any item of clothing?! Take off your shirt, your pants, your skirt, your dress, your bra, your knickers/panties, your briefs, your jockey shorts … they’re all restricting your rights!

Fucking morons.

Happy sarcastic Canada Day … enslaved farm workers

Slave ship diagram (Wikimedia).

Slave ship diagram

I used to pride myself on buying Canadian (as local as possible) fruits and vegetables, passing over the American and Mexican produce where I didn’t have a particular need for it. I was tangentially aware that 99% (or maybe 100%, I’m not sure) of Canadians won’t lower themselves to work as a fruit or vegetable picker, and so Canadian farms have to import “temporary foreign workers” every season, but I didn’t realise that they were housing those workers in conditions of near modern day slavery. Recently, according to the news, the farmers have even been (passively or actively) denying their TFWs access to COVID-19 testing, seemingly because that would probably cut into more productive picking time. (Plus, of course, as we all know, testing increases the number of positive cases!*)

It’s ironic to me that, twenty-six years after Canada and the rest of the world brought down Apartheid in South Africa, the system is still alive and well in the country that is credited with inventing it.

*In keeping with the title of this post, and in fear of those with no sense of irony, I feel I should make absolutely clear that this comment is a joke!

Updated, 2020-07-02: Add link and slave ship image.

Politicians behaving badly … as usual

Scheer and Trudeau and the UN Security Council vote

I think that Andrew Sheer confuses being the leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition with being the leader of a bunch of unruly children in a playground, bringing American-style ad hominem attacks to bear on the government Justin Trudeau. (Well, he is half American, so I suppose that’s no surprise.) OK, so Trudeau brought it upon himself by spending so much time and effort (and taxpayers’ money) on his pet project of getting Canada elected to the United Nations Security Council, but really, what the hell kind of measured, mature reaction is this?!:


Now, in all the fairness I can muster, I think Trudeau and/or the Liberals had the same personal dig at Stephen Harper when he failed in his same bid in 2010, so fair’s fair right? Meh, whatever. Politicians are almost all a bunch of self-serving opportunistic bastards; the only downside is that they have to inflict this crap on us, the suckers who pay their salaries for spending their lives acting like spoilt children.

At least the NDP’s foreign affairs critic, Jack Harris, had a distinctly more statesmanlike response. He was neither complimentary nor insulting, but had some constructive criticism of Canada’s (and Trudeau’s) attempt at election, and forward-looking suggestions.

One thing that does amuse me abut Trudeau’s virtue signalling is when he talks about championing maternal issues in developing countries. As far as I know, that was (ironically) Stephen Harper’s pet project back in the day!

Champagne quarantine?!

In related news, I see that François-Philippe Champagne, our gallant Minister of Foreign Affairs, suddenly crossed the border and showed up in New York to cast Canada’s ballot in this election. What the hell?! I thought the border was closed to all but essential traffic?! If our UN ambassador was in New York, what exactly was essential about Champagne’s presence? And did he quarantine himself for fourteen days before mixing with all and sundry at the UN General Assembly?! Enquiring minds want to know.

Kudos for Scheer

On the positive side of Scheer’s ledger is this farcical two-minute exchange with Trudeau in the House of Commons that is a textbook example of doublespeak and not answering the question on the part of Trudeau:

Scheer questions Trudeau’s campaign for U.N. Security Council seat

My god! Even taking into account international diplomatic niceties, Trudeau makes absolutely no attempt to address the issues that the leader of the Opposition raises. In fact, the donkey show he puts on is as passively aggressive as is possible before the aggression crosses the line into a middle finger or active, physical aggression! It’s the legislative, “grown-up” (note the quotation marks!) equivalent of the playground, “I know you are but what am I?” that would get you a bloody nose in any other setting! It’s a wonder these politicians get anything done, and it’s no wonder they are mostly so reviled by the public. None of the rest of us would get away with anything like this in real life. Maybe I’m just an ingénue that doesn’t spend enough time watching videos of politicians being assholes.

Jagmeet Singh’s ejection from Parliament

I’m of two minds about what happened to Jagmeet Singh on Wednesday. On the one hand he moved a motion that, especially in the atmosphere in which the US and much of the world finds itself these days, was completely reasonable, and I can understand his surprise (and dismay) at even one vote of opposition. On the other hand, I can see the point of the Bloc Québécois who claimed that his motion prejudged an anticipated report of the public safety committee that would have addressed the points in the motion moved by Singh.

I don’t know the nature of the motion, and particularly whether or not it was binding or just some feel-good parliamentary fluffery designed to (as mentioned previously) be self-serving opportunism. Which it was has significant bearing on the matter, but I have not seen comment on this by anyone in the media. However, I can certainly understand Singh’s discomfit, especially at Alain Therrien’s alleged dismissive wave in the direction of Singh. Probably another example where, had I been involved, there would have been nasal blood (Therrien’s) spilled on the Commons floor!

The “new NAFTA”

I am amused that, despite its unwieldy new name — that some (mostly Americans) have tried to make into a single “word” — people are calling the “United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement” the “new NAFTA”.

So I read that there is already bluster in the US that they’re itching to take legal action against Canada and Mexico as soon as the new agreement comes into force on 1 July. So what else is new? These are our “friends”! However, what sticks out for me in that article — besides the video of Deputy Prime Minster (and Intergovernmental Affairs minister) Chrystia Freeland’s rather smarmy (if unspoken) “fuck you” between gritted, smiling teeth aimed in the direction of the US threat — is the claim that US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer makes that other countries’ plans to tax American-based digital services is a plan to “screw America”. Ironically, the very next day, I received notice from one of my digital providers that they would henceforth be charging my company and their other customers taxes levied by six US states, including the one in which my business is domiciled. I doubt the two actions are linked, but the Americans are busy screwing themselves with new taxes!

Canadian hostages in China

China has finally, after holding them without charge for eighteen months, charged two Canadian hostages with “spying”. Everyone and their dog knows this is tit-for-tat, gangland hostage taking (“hostage diplomacy”) by the Chinese government, except the tit (or the tat) that happened in Canada was a lawful arrest under international treaties. I think it is despicable the situation in which the US has put Canada to further their political agenda, but it doesn’t excuse thuggery on the part of China who have stolen the lives of two (and arguably four) Canadians purely for spite. And on top of that the prisoner in Canada lives in her own multi-million dollar house in a larney area of Vancouver, while the two Canadians rot in cells in China! The two — known in Canada as “the two Michaels” — are Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. Even if they were released by China tomorrow, they’ll never get back the time stolen from them by the Chinese government. It is unconscionable!

Hopefully the world will one day, together, stand up to the bullying of China (not just against Canada, but other countries including Taiwan and [recently, with deadly results] India), but it’s questionable whether or not that will happen in time for them to be stopped from steamrolling all over the rest of the world. I think China already delivered yet another “message” to Canada earlier this week; it is alleged that China strong-armed African nations — whom they have quietly re-colonised over the last decade or two — into voting against Canada in the aforementioned United Nations Security Council elections.

Hero pay

In other news, Canadian grocery store operations are clawing back the raises given to their employees when they were (temporarily, apparently) “heroes” on the “front lines” of the COVID-19 pandemic — and all the other quasi-military terms used for them and similar low-paying occupations like cleaners, drivers, etc. Never mind that these companies made and continue to make a killing on elevated sales numbers (including as a result of hoarding). The hypocrisy is galling! If there was one thing I thought people would learn from the experience of the pandemic it’s that far too many people are terribly, terribly underpaid, and then they suddenly became “heroes” overnight! And for that they got a measly two bucks an hour extra! That’s all they’re worth! And now, they’re not heroes any more, they’re just schleps schlepping their way through a work day again.

I know that I don’t have any economic solutions for the massive inequities in society (in this country or any other), but you can’t, in good conscience, pay someone a meagre wage one day and the next day claim they’re heroes, pay them a pittance more, and then take away their hero status (and extra pay) on some arbitrary (and collusive) date in the future. Are they heroes or not? Look, nobody claims they’re heroes in the same sense as a person who defends or saves the life of another, but really, the hypocrisy really is galling. And the hypocrisy is galling not just on the part of the grocery chains — Sobeys, Metro, Save-On-Foods, Loblaws, etc. — but on the part of us, their customers. I’ve said for a long time that so many people want to strike for good union wages, then they want to shop at disgraceful places like Walmart. It’s understandable that we all want to optimise our revenue-to-expense ratios, but this is a big deal that needs to be addressed somehow.

While looking for an appropriate article to which I could link on one of the main news websites (that isn’t behind a paywall, like The Globe and Mail is), I came across this one: The End of ‘Hero Pay’ for Grocery Workers in Canada an Operational Necessity: Expert. It’s written by an academic (which is not always a knock) for a retail industry publication, and as a result is skewed towards being supportive of the pay cut. However, it does cover some interesting points that are critical of the retailers that I think are worth reading.

Jas Johal

Someone else who I think doesn’t quite get his position as a member of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition is BC Liberal MLA Jas Johal. He was a half-decent television reporter, but man, the only time he pokes his head above the parapet these days is when he wants to be on TV again and has nothing constructive to say … about anything, ever! I mean, I get that his job is that he’s an Opposition “critic” of the current NDP government, but there’s a difference between the title “critic” and the adjective “critical”, and you can’t claim that the government — any government — of the day doesn’t ever get anything right.

His latest crap is to criticise and condemn the BC government for daring to consult the public on ways in which they might steer activities related to recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s not exactly direct democracy in action, but we haven’t seen a pandemic in about a century, certainly longer than Johal’s lifetime, so what the hell downside could there be to initiating a consultation process that could very well have a positive effect?!

Give it a rest Johal! I think if you looked like a reasonable person once in a while instead of whining and complaining all the time you’d actually look like the Liberal leadership material for which you’re obviously trying to posture yourself.


Updated, 23 June 2020: Corrected my grammatical error. Of course you can’t make an ad hominem attack on a government!

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.