Friday, May 28, 2010

Kenney's lies, Billions Wasted, Parliament burns while Harper fiddles. . . . .

What a rich week! 
Yesterday Minister Kenney lied blatantly on national television suggesting that when he was in opposition he never called political staffers to appear before committees. An incredible lie which was laid bare by video now circulating on the internet showing him complaining that the political staffers that he called before a committee had not shown up. What wretched, lying, hypocrite you are Mr. Kenney!

And another in a long line of examples of Conservative fiscal mismanagement with a billion dollars being spent to host the G20. Three days - A BILLION DOLLARS! No one can mismanage money like Conservatives can. I used to think a billion for setting up a gun registry was a bit much but at least we got something significant for the money. The G20 is just a bunch of back-patting, free-marketeers who spend these weekends doing nothing except congratulating each other on how well the rich countries have exploited the poor ones over the past year, and think about more efficient ways they can exploit them in the future. 

Each week this government reaches new heights of hypocrisy, incompetence, abuse of power, misrepresentation, financial mismanagement, and destruction to democracy. 

I think Ignatieff should declare a national emergency equivalent to World War II and say we need a government of national unity to save our democracy from a real threat of destruction. Then the NDP and Liberals should carefully select ridings to pull out of to ensure that no vote splitting happens, thus wiping the Conservatives, who are hell bent on destroying our democracy, off the map. Unfortunately the Liberals have pushed so far to the right that I am  not sure that at a policy level it would make much difference. 

So it goes. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Harper the criminal. . . . .

In a ministerial statement made today Mr. Jay Hill says the following regarding the question of Ministerial Staffers being banned by the Government from appearing before Parliamentary committees.

"We recognize that the committees do have the authority to call for persons and papers."

So they recognize that the committees have the authority and yet they are saying that the staffers will not appear.

This is called a willful violation of the constitution and the constitution and the law. According to the Harper government's own claims about law and order they should put themselves in prison.

A shocking number of Canadians apparently don't care about a government that willfully flouts the constitution, the law, and the will of parliament. Let us not forget that Hitler was elected to government.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Our broken democracy. . . .

Canadian Democracy is broken and the majority of Canadians don't seem to understand this or care enough to do something about it. We live in a political system wherein a third, or slightly over a third, of the population can elect a party that rules like a de facto dictatorship. Though there is a growing number of people in Canada who are aware that we have a problem, we are still in a minority and any talk of an alternative voting system brings so much negative press from the two main parties that reform has no hope whatsoever at the moment.

Many people who believe in reform were buoyed by recent event in the UK. And it is nice to see that the British seem to possess a fairly high level of political maturity, and certainly a higher level than we possess here. Unlike our Prime Minister, no one on the British political landscape suggested that a coalition of parties amounted to a coup. Even Mr. Cameron, who is not my favorite guy, said nothing untoward when the Libdems negotiated with the Labour Party which could have kept Cameron out of Downing Street. Our Prime Minister, and his cronies, actually had the gall to misrepresent our entire mode of constitutional government when there was a chance that they might be taken from power by a majority of the elected representatives in the country.

But the situation in the UK is nothing to cheer about because either of the two main parties could have easily gotten elected with a majority even while being far from representing a majority of voters. And in that case the system would have gone happily on without any coalition. And even though there has been a promise of a referendum on electoral reform, with the two main parties being against such reform because over the long run they benefit from the system as it is now, there is little chance that such reform will pass in a referendum. It is a Catch-22 for political reformers; the only way that electoral reform will pass is if the majority of parties are willing to advocate for it, but the parties will not advocate for it while they continue to benefit from the old system.

The fact is that people like power and they like when their party is able to exercise complete power even if they didn't get support from the majority of voters. Nothing will change until the system becomes so dysfunctional that it loses legitimacy with the majority or people decide that they don't want power but instead they want justice and fairness. Until then I think we can honestly say that our system is broken, demonstrably undemocratic, and obviously unrepresentative. And we can say that our politicians are clearly immature and uninterested in actual democracy. 

Friday, May 14, 2010

Victim's rights. . . . WTF?. . . . .

So you have no doubt seen and been nauseated by our Minister of Public Safety going on about what he calls "victim's rights.' This phrase is almost entirely meaningless but the Minster continues to use it ad nauseum n ever interview and public appearance. As I said yesterday it doesn't take a genius to understand that a 'right' is something that the state 'allows' you to do, the word applies to a choice that you can take advantage of like the freedom of speech, or movement etc. Thus a victim of a crime has very few possible 'rights' in relation to a crime committed against him or her. You could claim that victims should have the abstract right to see justice done but really the only technical 'right' a victim could have would related to retribution in  some way; like the right to make a victim statement, to speak as a witness against the person who committed the crime, or even the right to financial restitution whether from the state or the perpetrator of the crime. Outside of this, you it is difficult to imagine what 'rights' the state could bestow upon victims of crimes.

Yet you will constantly hear Vic Toews and other right-wingers talk about 'victim's rights.' Why is that? The answer is, of course, politics. One of the primary political strategies of the Right in general is to foment fear and animosity in society. Thus they love to talk about crime because there is a certain segment of society that wrongly believes that crime is out of control and that people are out there getting away with murder. Thus you will hear Vic Toews say crap like "unlike liberals and socialists, I am in favor of victims rights and not criminals rights." A completely meaningless statement, particularly given that Mr. Toews and his government have actually made no attempt to expand the few rights that victims actually could exercise. Rather, this is part of a strategy to further foster fear and keep people's attention focused on a meaningless political ploy that will not change crime rates and will cost billions of dollars.

As a society we can, if we choose, erode the rights of people who are accused or convicted of a crime. Given the startling number of wrongful convictions that have taken place in the past generation, I for one, think people who are accused or convicted of a crime need to have certain very clear rights which are well protected. And by all means, we can have a rational discussion about bringing the victims of crime into the process in much the same way that traditional justice systems have like those used by our First Peoples. As long as that discussion is not driven by the politically motivated 'tough on crime' nonsense which will only serve to cost billions and do nothing to crime rates.

If you want a justice system to actually reduce crime, every serious professional will tell you that you need a genuine system of rehabilitation and reform. Instead Harper and Toews want to take us down the road of California which has an unbelievably high rate of incarceration, very high rate of recidivism, and is helping to bankrupt the state. But the present government is actually reducing rehabilitation efforts and looking to just throw as many people in jail as possible with minimum sentences. This may satisfy people desire for revenge but is poor social and fiscal policy.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Rights and Restrictions. . . .

Lately I have heard a lot of talk about "rights" in political discourse. This is probably just a coincidence rather than a trend, but it is a coincidence that gets one thinking about these issues. What has struck me is the remarkable ignorance of many people and the politicization of the issue by many others.

I don't think one needs to be a legal expert to understand the issue of political rights, particularly at a basic abstract level. One needs only to be familiar with the basic history or the development of Western democracies since the Enlightenment.

One of the occasions that came up in the past couple days was a letter to CBC's The Current over their recent discussion of the resurgence of the Christian Right in Canada. Some evangelical wrote a letter complaining about "liberally" minded people who themselves complain about Christians 'imposing' their beliefs on other people in society. This Christian letter-writer said that they were fed up with liberals who suggest that when Christian's promote their values it is an 'imposition' of the values on others while the liberal values are portrayed by them as somehow 'value neutral.' And predictably the Christian used the example of Gay Marriage as being a value that was being imposed on others by liberals and Homosexuals.

Now I am not really sure if it is ignorance or just politics at work here. Does this Evangelical Christian really not understand the difference? I am beginning to think that there are many out there that are just so incapable of simple reasoning that they really believe this stuff. This ignorant Christian letter-writer just doesn't understand the difference between 'rights' and 'restrictions.' A right is something you can chose to take advantage of or not. A restriction is something that limits your choice. Thus 'rights' do not impose values on people, rather they open an option for people to make certain choices. Gay marriage is such a right. It doesn't imposes gay values on anyone, it gives Gay people the right to live by their values. However, when Christians seek to restrict women's availability to safe, legal abortions, they are trying to restrict the actions of others and compel them to live by certain Christian values. (Smarter Christians have naturally picked up on this distinction and begun to argue for the 'rights' of the so-called 'un-born')

Of course, our society has many legal restrictions and these impose, in a de facto sense, values on people. But in keeping with the basic principles of Western democracies, these restrictions are mostly intended to stop people from doing things that have a direct and detrimental impact on others.I am not arguing here about the rightness or wrongness or the system per se, simply pointing out that this is generally the way it is intended to work.

When Christians seek to restrict the right of Gay Marriage they are directly imposing their values on others. When Gay people (or other supporters) seek to bestow the right for Gay people to marry, they impose their values on no one because if my Gay neighbors marry their actions have no direct and detrimental impact on me.

Thus, what many Christian advocacy groups appear not to understand is that 'rights' groups like thoses that support Gay Marriage, generally are working to extend rights to people that grow out of the fundamental principles in the Constitution and Charter of rights. Christian groups, on the other hand, are usually (but not in all cases), seeking to create laws and restrictions that reflect their values which they claim flow from external religious documents which many of us simply do no believe in.

Tomorrow I will address the way the right-wing talks about 'victim's rights.'

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Guergis the Hypocrite. . . . .

I can barely keep my dinner down as I watch Helena Guergis cry into the microphone in her interview with Peter Mansbridge. For years Ms. Guergis has been an active member of one of the most mean-spirited, nasty, partisan, governments that I have ever seen outside a Third World dictatorship. It has never bothered Ms. Guerigis before that Harper and his mob are mean and nasty in their game of politics and that they have absolutely no interest in due process for anyone, particularly if that person can serve their political interests. This woman even said that she considered Mr. Haper a personal 'friend' of hers!!!!!!! But I guess she didn't mind that her 'friend'  hates democracy and the constitution and the process of law! Ms. Guergis only cares about due process when she is the perceived victim of Harper's campaign of hate and lawlessness. Stand up, anyone who thinks that if Guergis was still on the inside and it was some other MP being used and abused, she would stand up and protest the government's failure to act respectably. Everyone knows that if Ms. Guergis really believed in due process, the rule of law, the constitution, and just basic rules of respect and fair-play she would never have been involved in this government in the first place. And keep in mind that she was not some lowly backbencher but she has been in cabinet and proven herself just as mean-spirited and nasty as the rest of them. And now suddenly we are supposed to believe her 'golly-gee' soft-spoken, I am an innocent crying lady routine. I think not. If you lie down with dogs you get up with fleas Ms. Guergis, and if you conspire with evil, don't be shocked when you become evil's victim.

Reap the whirlwind of your own making, you heartless, inhuman, conniving, criminal scumbag.