Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Class-warfare . . . . .

It is one of the great ironies of modern times that the rightwing has managed convince so many people that 'class-warfare' is an antiquated notion from a past age, when actually class-warfare is exactly what the right has been waging for a generation, and continue to wage everyday. Of course, the right has always actively pursued a war against the working-class and the most vulnerable of society, and they have usually done so while trying to convince people that they are really only acting in the interest of society at large. But while the right has only ever had the interest of the rich and powerful in their sights, there was a time when a great number of people knew what was going on. Class-warfare was often openly waged in the streets and in the workplaces. However, today class-warfare is waged with spin-doctors, press-releases, back to work legislation, pension-gutting legislation, and cleverly-written editorials. Since the advent of globalization in particular, the right has been much more successful in convincing people that it is just circumstances which have proscribed the policies that they pursue rather than these policies being a concerted effort to weaken the working-class, destroy unions, weaken democracy, destroy pensions, undermine social programs, impoverish the majority, all while radically increasing the wealth of the richest. This is class-warfare on a grand-scale, undertaken with ever-increasing brain-washing power of a concentrated media owned and controlled by the richest one percent. A small group of people own more wealth than the lower half of society, they live in multi-million dollar mansions, drive cars worth more many people earn in a decade of work, they vacation in hotel-rooms that cost thousands of dollars a night, they have private planes and luxury yachts, and they make sure that their servants are elected to office and that they propagate the notion that this is just the 'natural' order, and the way things 'must' be. This is the worst kind of class-warfare, the kind that people are helping to wage on themselves through political ignorance and wilful apathy, reaffirmed by a ruthless political class.

Next time someone tells you that class-warfare is out of date, tell them that the greatest warriors are actively running their government, making sure that the only class with money and power is their class, and they have given all of your money and resources to a handful of super-rich who are gradually turning you into wilful slaves.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Will Thomas Mulcair (out of necessity) become our own Harper?

I believe that Harper and his bullies have poisoned our political culture in what might be a more or less permanent way. Even if we can escape this atmosphere of anger, hatred, attack, and offensiveness, it will take many years and a concerted effort lasting many years by a large portion of the political class and the population in general. However, I believe that Thomas Mulcair is a side-effect of this poison atmosphere. This is not to say that I believe that Mulcair is anywhere near as nasty, anti-democratic, mean-spirited, and, well . . .  down-right evil, as Stephen Harper. But I don't think that there is any question that he has that slightly angry, 'take-no-prisoners' kind of attitude, and several insiders have already said that we will very quickly see NDP ads attempting to frame Mulcair's image before the Harpercons have a chance to do it for him. Now, this, in itself, is by no means nasty, but it demonstrates the need that Harper-hate has brought to our political system - the necessity to continually campaign even when we are years from an election. And by conceding to this necessity (which they must do), the NDP is demonstrating that our political system has become poisoned and increasingly empty of content. Harper's need to continually attack his opponents at every political level shows that he knows that his ideas and his policies cannot speak for themselves, cannot create the support he needs to win elections. Instead, the Harpercons know that you simply have to maintain a certain base and then alienate and frighten enough voters about anything from an imaginary crime wave to a globally successful intellectual in opposition in order to continually squeak by in rather empty electoral victories in a system that is essentially broken to begin with. This is the kind of empty, meaningless nonsense to which our political system has been reduced thanks to a man who is, I believe, the personification of evil in modern times. And add to this problem the issue of an increasingly centralized and capitalized media, and anyone who opposes the reduction of society to the interests of large corporations cannot hope to actually win elections by actually arguing the issues.

Over the next couple of years we will see the degree to which Thomas Mulcair (as well as a new Liberal leader, if they ever actually choose one) feels compelled to mirror the controlling and combative attitude that the Harpercons have so completely initiated into our system, and if he doesn't fight the Harpercons with the vehemence that many are expecting, we will see the degree to which such vehemence has become necessary or even indispensable. I suspect indispensable is exactly what this attitude and strategy has become and it saddens me that my daughter will inherit the failure of this generation to reject the politics of hate.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Our Political Dilemma. . . .

Imagine yourself in this dilemma - You regularly go to a certain chess club and often play with one of the primary players of the group. Only this player has a tendency to do all sorts of things to break your concentration and diverting your attention away from the game. You find this frustrating but the ref says that the player is not technically breaking any rules so there is nothing that he can do. Then you find out that this player actually is getting help from a computer (dare we say "robot") in the fashion of prompts for difficult moves in a hidden earpiece. When you bring this to the ref's attention the player hides the earpiece and indignantly calls you out, daring you to prove his wrong-doing to fellow club members. The dishonest player continues on this way year in and year out, breaking both the spirit and the letter of the rules, but he goes merrily on.

So what do you do? Well, a chess club is no big deal really. Convinced that the player is essentially dishonest and a cheater, you just don't play there anymore and you find a new club for your recreation.

Now transpose this rather obvious analogy to our electoral system. Here is the dilemma - you can't simply find another place to go. The Harpercons are cheaters, in both the technical and spiritual sense of the word, and yet they go merrily on. But in this case it seems that crime pays and the cheaters go merrily on.

My contention is this - once the NDP has chosen a new leader I propose he/she have a large public press conference with Bob Rae, as well as Elizabeth May and Daniel Paillé, and tell Canada and the world that they are withdrawing from the Parliament because it has become a sham. To my knowledge such a drastic move has never been done in modern Western democracies and it would be world-wide news. I suggest that the Opposition say that they cannot sit in the House in the presence of an illegitimate government and that they will not return to the House until the government convenes a Royal Commission on voter fraud and implements significant electoral reforms which include a stop to all robocalls, clearer outlines of what constitutes voter fraud, significant restrictions on party spending during campaigns as well as a total ban on spending outside of campaigns, clearer House rules about maintaining proper debate and committee works, and fixed responsibilities concerning press conferences on the part of the Prime Minister. Think about it for a minute. Imagine if all opposition parties refused to sit in the House and refused to take part in an election like they are compelled to do in some third-world dictatorships.

You see, the opposition parties have more or less been carrying on as though, despite the Harpercons malfeasance, it is business as usual. These actions lend continual credibility to a government that not only lacks credibility but which is systematically dismantling the democratic institutions of the nation. Something radical must be done to change the public mind about the gravity of the situation. If not now, when?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Some thoughts on War, Tyranny, and Voter Fraud. . . .

Like many children during the Second World War, my father was evacuated into the countryside for much of the war. But he returned to London during the last couple of years of conflict and had many stories to tell about what he saw. One of the stories he told was of an occasion in which he and his mother went together to the market. While they walked there was a massive explosion a couple of streets away. The impact was tremendous and they felt its intensity even from a few hundred yards off. The explosion had been caused by a V2 rocket, many of which had been raining down on London for weeks. The government had attempted to deny the existence of the V2 because they were afraid of wide-spread panic. The V2s came in faster than the speed of sound so unlike the V1, or so-called 'flying-bombs,' you couldn't hear them coming. Instead, you would just be sitting there and suddenly you and your whole street were more or less vaporized. The government tried to tell the story that the explosions from the V2s were nothing but gas-line eruptions but rumours of a new, more dangerous, weapon, spread quickly. My dad's father had actually seen a V2 come down and thus he knew that the government was lying about what was going on.

Anyway, my dad watched the smoke rise from the explosion and he knew that people had just died and there were probably many laying about badly injured. But his mother, after taking a few moments to compose herself,  took his hand tightly and they continued on their way. Even as a kid my father was struck at that moment how even amid apparent chaos, life continued on more or less normally. He and his mother went into the market and she bought fruits and vegetables and talked with other women about the high price of bread, the inconveniences of rationing, and the latest film at the cinema. My dad sometimes felt kind of bad about his childlike attitude during much of the war. For him, not having lost anyone close to him, the war seemed somewhat exciting much of the time. It broke up routines and made life seem more interesting. He loved to see the dog-fights over London which he watched a number of times from the roof of his apartment building, and he knew all the different planes on sight, even the ones that were bombing and killing his fellow citizens. But at the moment of that explosion things changed for him. Life suddenly seemed out of joint as he realized that there was real killing and dying going on while other people just went about their business.

Thinking about this story reminded me of the time I lived in El Salvador. During my time there rumours of a military coup were rife and for a while there they seemed credible. A friend of mine who worked as a health-care worker in the countryside had actually seen large numbers of troops massing on the Honduran border and he had been on a bus that was stopped by soldiers. The bus's riders were taken out and forced to lay face-down on the road and he really thought they were going to be shot execution-style. One day during the height of the rumours I was sitting on the porch of the house were I was living and a jet fighter came roaring over the house only a couple hundred feet in the air. Anyone who has experienced this knows how frightening and intimidating this can be. Those planes are unbelievably loud and can shake the very ground underneath you. The plane headed straight for the Presidential Palace as though it were going to bomb the place. During those few moments a lot went through my mind. I wondered how I would get out of the country in the midst of a coup or whether events would deteriorate into civil war. Then I thought about my friends who had been in the war which had only ended a year or so previous to my arrival there. My good friend Guillermo Iglesias who was only twenty-one had been compelled into the war when his village was so terrorized by the government troops that he felt he had nothing to loose. He had been shot more than once and had watched many friends die. Yet despite these events, he seemed remarkably 'normal' and was just a young man with the same hopes and fears that we all have.

The jet fighter didn't bomb the Palace. It just flew very near it a number of times in what was obviously a show of intimidation toward the government. The President went on TV that night and claimed that it was all part of a military exercise etc. The next day my partner and I went on a trip to the Gulf of Fonseca. We had planned it a week before and people told us to go despite the rumours because it was a relatively safe road and not generally a dangerous part of the country. As we drove along I watched the people of El Salvador working in their fields, playing with their children, eating at roadside restaurants, and all the other stuff that people do. And I thought that even at the height of the brutal civil war all these same people were doing many of the same things.

Cut to today as I drove down a freeway in Ottawa to pick up one of my daughter's playmates who is here for the weekend. It occurred to me how even as it becomes apparent that our present government has been actively exercising voter fraud, we as Canadians go about our business. This government has shown itself to be willing to do anything to get and maintain power and not only has it broken many laws, if one has listened carefully over the years it has hinted more than once that it would be willing to keep the government by force if necessary. And yet, like the citizens of London during the War, or the people of El Salvador, people in Canada go merrily on with life. Until someone you love dies, war feels much like peace, only noisier. Countries often slip into tyranny slowly and if you ever wondered what it is like to live in a dictatorship, you already know, it feels the same as a democracy until you fall victim to the power that you have ignored.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Is it Ignorance??

It seems to me that it is not at all difficult to understand what has been going on in Canada for the past five or six years, politically speaking. The scale and depth of the poisoning of the political system orchestrated by Harper and his party is remarkably clear. Even some rightwing pundits in this country don't deny the stark reality Harper's blatant anti-democratic tendencies, his attacks on accountability, freedom of information, House procedures, freedom of speech among the public service, and now on the voting system itself.

And on top of the rather frightening extent of Harper's malfeasance, his supposed strong suit - fiscal responsibility - has been little to brag about. His denial (or lack of anticipation) of an economic crisis that we all saw coming was almost comical. And though the deficits that his government has run have been partly a result of an international crisis, they were significantly inflated by his overspending in the period prior to the downturn. And, perhaps more importantly, most of the factors that insulated the Canadian economy were Liberal policies that Harper vehemently opposed during his time in opposition, and Harper always maintained that deficits should be illegal in the first place. 

Given the magnitude and obviousness of Harper's shortcomings, we are left with troubling questions. Under most circumstances one would expect not just unpopularity for Harper but near insurrection. There is little doubt that among his large number of detractors, Harper is surely the most vehemently despised leader in recent memory, if not of all of Canadian history. However, the failure of a large minority to appropriately react to his malfeasance begs the question - is there just a huge number of people who are completely ignorant of how our political system works, or is supposed to work? Very bad people have been elected in the past. Nixon was reelected even after the Watergate scandal had begun to break. Lestor Maddox was elected governor of Georgia on a staunch segregationist policy and let us not forget that the Nazis were elected with about 44 percent of the vote in 1933. There is no doubt that democracy sometimes favours the very worst kinds of people. But the more I see in contemporary Canada, the more it seems to me that a huge swath of people are just so uninformed and many are so apathetic that it really doesn't matter how criminal or Machiavellian Harper becomes, the only thing that will defeat him is the inevitable boredom of the electorate.

However, any way one looks at it, the tolerance of Harper's misconduct and political corruption is deeply disturbing and demonstrates not only the ignorance of many Canadians but bodes very badly for the future of this nation as a solid democracy.

Evil, Stephen Harper, and Catharsis. . . . .

It is getting increasingly redundant to write about the Harpercons, it is like continually writing that evil is bad - yes, it is, but how many times can you say it before one just gets tired? But i guess some bloggers, like myself, write in part as an act of catharsis - it relieves some of the built up frustration when you put it in writing.

But all of what we sane bloggers have been writing lately can be summed up pretty easily -

-Harper and many of his cronies are psychopathically power hungry and should be committed to the care of psychiatrists
-Harper and his government lacks majority support but govern like a dictatorship
-Harper has broken law after law in his pursuit of power and should be arrested and incarcerated
-Harper's prorogation was illegal because it was specifically made to avoid a confidence vote and therefore the government lacked legitimacy and he should never have been permitted to run for office again
- Harper and his government are guilty of hundreds of incidences of voter fraud and the present government should be liquidated forthwith
-Harper has destroyed the Constitution and is now no more than a criminal
-Harper is a mentally ill individual who will, if there is any justice, go down in Canadian history as a treasonous maniac


-a huge number of Canadians are so ignorant and themselves such fascists that Harper could molest collies on prime time television and they would still hail him (this is much like the cult of personality that followed people like Stalin - but at least Stalin was a patriot)
-When faced with difficult and challenging times Canadians . . .  well, fold like a cheap suit.
-Criminal governments usually effectively control the judiciary and the other institutions of accountability and that is how they stay in power
-The media is overwhelmingly pro-Tory (Rightwingers can no longer rationally deny this because every newspaper in the country except one endorsed the Tories)
-Many people, particularly rightwingers, like being ignorant.
-Power is self-replicating and that is why dictatorships are difficult to eliminate
-It probably doesn't matter what we do because if there was any serious threat to Harper's power (even a democratic one) he would impose martial law and refuse to give up power


-We bloggers will continue yelling into the wilderness, but to little avail
-It really doesn't matter anyway

Funny quotes of the day -
"What I have crossed out I didn't like. What I haven't crossed out, I am dissatisfied with."
                                                             -Cecil B. DeMille

"I must have killed more men than Cecil B. DeMille."
                                                             -Gene Wilder as the Waco Kid in Blazing Saddles.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

What is Capitalism?

The late, great Ernest Mandel who was banned from entering the US for much of his life, wrote what is probably the very best introduction to Marx’s Capital ever written. Though trained as an economist, Mandel had a knack for explaining things in a simple, straightforward way that most people could understand. His long book on Marxist economic theory is really a remarkable achievement and demonstrates that even though Marx, like any important thinker, had flaws, he was also remarkably brilliant. One can use Mandel’s work to understand the ways that Marx outlined the complex ways in which capitalism functions and, amazingly, the ways that it continues to develop in ways that Marx’s ideas suggest it would.

One of the most interesting passages in Mandel’s introduction to Capital is found on page 82 of the Vintage paperback edition (1977) and concerns the definition of Capitalism. Now, defining an economic order is an immensely difficult conceptual task for many reasons. In the age of post-structuralist thought, so-called “meta-theories” are usually considered more than a little dodgy and maintaining a strict definition of an economic or social order is bound to not only find detractors but also to incite conceptual resistance. I fully understand, and often sympathize with this resistance, but I also understand the need for practical thought that helps to focus and encourage political and social activism. With this in mind, I give you Mandel’s outline for the conditions that define a capitalist order.

“(1)the fact that the mass of producers are not owners of the means of production in the economic sense of the word, but have to sell their labor power to the owners. (2)The fact that these owners are organized into separate firms which compete with each other for shares of the market on which commodities are sold, for profitable fields of investment for capital, for sources of raw material, etc. (that is the institution of private property in the economic sense of the word);  (3) the fact that these same owners of the means of production (different firms) are therefore, compelled to extort the maximum surplus-value from the producers, in order to accumulate more and more capital – which leads, under conditions of generalized commodity production and generalized alienation, to constantly growing mechanization of labor, concentration and centralization of capital, growing organic composition of capital, the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, and recurrent crises of over-production.”

Now, with a few addendums, I find this to be a remarkably cogent statement of explanation which, though written forty years ago, is still relevant today. Keeping this definition in mind also helps us understand certain apparently contrary elements in our modern capitalism. One thing that Mandel’s outline helps us remember is that even though large modern governments contain many social-democratic elements, they still function largely to grease the wheels of an increasingly globalizing capitalist order. In fact, putting aside the various socially-minded programs instituted in the last couple of generations (and these, though now being lost, are still very important), government increasingly exists to maintain the power and dominance of a relatively few very large corporations that actually dominate the economic production and distribution at a global level. In recent years we have seen a much greater concentration of wealth which is a direct result of the capitalist order as outlined by Mandel, and this concentration is integral to the nature of the capitalist order in general, and attempts during the 20th century to mitigate it were quickly overridden by a more or less open conspiracy between big-capital and government.

Another thing that Mandel’s outline reminds us of is that modern forms of “command-capitalism” such as fascism or that which we see in the modern Chinese state are the exact opposite of socialism. Despite the fact that deeply ignorant people imagine that because the NAZI party had the word “socialist” in its name, fascism had (and continues to have) nothing to do with socialism and is in fact a form of command-capitalism. Hitler’s use of the word “socialist” was purely strategic and his party in fact functioned to maintain the very order that Mandel has outlined above. (Let us not forget that Fortune Magazine once said that Fascism was the future of Capitalism) Similarly, though the Chinese government which calls itself ‘Communist’ (never underestimate the Chinese wit), it oversees a system that is distinctly capitalist in nature.

I encourage everyone to read Mandel’s work to aid in the understanding of our modern capitalist order, a system that is increasingly lopsided at a social and economic level. Though modern technological gadgetry convinces people that they are prosperous even when they are not, economic exploitation and monetary inequality are leading to political inequality and an increasing misunderstanding of the economic order in which we live.

Who said it is a free country – your rent is due. 

Remember the Women in Your Life. . . .

In honor of International Women's Day I pay tribute to all the women who have struggled tirelessly, and continue to struggle, for the rights and equality of Women, and thereby for all of us. Even today women are abused, imprisoned, and even die in this effort and let us not forget them. Let us also remember all of those who, even if they are not active in battle for women's rights, pay the price of gender inequality and male brutality.

I also honor my spouse Sylvia who has worked all of her life not only for the rights of women but for the rights of all people, particularly those most vulnerable and with no voice in the system of power. And I honor my daughters Veronique and Cairo who will continue the struggle into the future. We have a lot more work to do and they will make their contribution to a collective future.

And since I have been working on a biography of her for nearly two years, I honor the nineteenth century writer Mary Russell Mitford. Though she was not an "activist" in the struggle for gender equality, she carved out her own literary career in an age when women in the arts were seldom taken seriously. The example that she and her peers set by simply refusing to sit on the sidelines of life is invaluable.

The struggle continues - let's not be idle!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A short Update. . .

A short update on the post earlier today. Harpercon has claimed that he will relent on the issue of Elections Canada's new proposed auditing power. No doubt the heat got too much and the Tory leadership realized that amid the growing scandal the optics of this were just too potentially damaging.

However, don't take this reversal too seriously. Stephen Hapless is surely hoping that the entire scandal will blow over and that when the time comes he will be able to rescind his support for these new Elections Canada powers in a quiet way that no one will notice.

The issue still stands and Canadians deserve at the very least a full judicial inquiry.

How Many Insults Will Canadians Take?

Any Tory that is still holding on to the pathological fantasy that the Harper government is in any way interested in accountability and democracy should be deeply shaken this week by one development after another which demonstrates just how secretive and corrupt their hero is.

The worst development is, of course, this story of corruption. Harper's Tories (through the Procedures and House Affairs Committee) put paid to any notion that they want to be accountable by rejecting a request by Elections Canada that federal parties should be compelled to demonstrate the real nature of their spending with details and receipts. Our chief electoral officer, Marc Mayrand, simply wants federal parties to ensure that "they are complying with the provisions of the Act relating to election expenses." However, the Tories have once again demonstrated that they are corrupt and have something to hide by preventing any such accountability to go forward.

The second insult to accountability offered to Canadians by the Harpercons this week was their amazing refusal to release their phone records after they demanded that the Liberals release theirs. This is surely the most blatant example of complete public refusal to be accountable in the midst of a historically significant scandal that goes to the heart of government and democracy. I must say that the gall of them even surprised me. Imagine a government that indignantly demands that an opposition party reveal everything about its functioning and then refuses with derision the same demands put upon them? 

I dare every Conservative supporter to demand that their party embrace accountability, release their phone records and institute a genuine policy of electoral accountability. They won't of course, because Conservatives have shown that they have no interest in accountability unless it is another party that is being accountable.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Del Mastro redux. . .

As I have said all along, the strength of the Harper regime is also its weakness. Being controlling and secretive can serve you well under certain circumstances but when people begin to suspect you of something wrong or illegal, such attitudes begin to seem suspicious and even dangerous. The robocon scandal is rooted in the ruthless drive that the CPC (under its present leadership) has to win at all costs (even illegal ones) and to destroy any opposition. Under this obsessive drive, a political party (any political party) becomes dangerous to the nation and to itself. Democracy gets in the way of power and the people get in the way of your interests until the very people that you are supposed to represent begin to fear and despise you. Thus, a group like the Harpercons seems to go to almost comical lengths to smear others and divert people's attention away from what, to any rational person's mind, is a tremendous scandal which common sense tells us leads directly to the offices of someone in the CPC. Like underworld thugs, the worst elements of the CPC are so mindlessly driven to have their way that they have little idea of what they are actually doing, what the consequences might be, and just how off the rails they have gone. And the worst part of the story is that no one in the Party has yet been willing to stand up for the very principles of honesty, fairplay, and honor that they claim to represent.

The unbelievable blowhard, Dean Del Mastro is the worst kind of thug - ignorant, dull-witted, and profoundly ambitious. In the past week he has proven himself to be comically incompetent as he has attempted to divert the attentions of Canadians away from a scandal in which his party is clearly implicated. First he was caught out lying to the house about the entirely legal and ethical phone practices of the Liberal Party. Then, daring the Liberals to reveal their phone records, he was clearly caught off guard today when the LPC began to do just that. However, when asked if his own Party would reveal its records Del Mastro said they would not reveal their records because his party is obviously innocent of any wrong doing. This is a remarkable exercise in Orwellian double-speak. He demanded the records of a party that any rational person in the country suspects of nothing, while holding back his own party's records in a scandal that most people are certain leads to the doors of the CPC. It is almost Nixonian in nature, as if Del Mastro is suggesting that anything that the Harper regime does is, by its very nature, legal.

Yet things are looking bleak for Del Mastro and his corrupt and ruthless party as four out of five Canadians think that a judicial inquiry is appropriate. Thus we return to the question of a strength becoming a weakness - the secretive and controlling nature of the CPC under Harper cannot bring itself to treat this matter in a way that would, at the very least, create an image of honesty and an interest in justice. Instead, everything the CPC and its spokespeople do makes them look more guilty than they otherwise might. This is because while a controlling effort in politics can be an effective way of getting elected, people begin to get pretty edgy when their government looks like they are a petty, third-world dictatorship.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Noxious, Odorous, Slime that is Del Mastro...

Have you ever seen such a smarmy, creepy, two-faced, hypocritical, dishonest, schmuck as this guy???

He made a big show in the House of Commons to say that a Liberal MP had used and American firm to make election calls, not saying that there was anything dishonest or misleading in the calls, but somehow trying to imply that just the fact that it was an American firm meant that there was something wrong. Then, when he was caught in misleading the House (because, in fact, he was wrong and it was not an American firm) he ended up saying on CBC that there is nothing wrong with using American Firms to make the calls (because, of course, we know that the CPC uses American firms). So why was he wasting the House's time??? Just to attempt to divert attention (with remarkably uncreative innuendo) from the scandal in which his government is mired.

Then he says over and over on CBC to Liberal and NDP MPs "You have no evidence, You have no evidence." But of course there is plenty of evidence. It is evidence of wrong-doing. Thousands of complaints is, in fact, evidence that something is wrong! So if he and his party are pure as the driven snow, as they insist they are, why is this man (and his boss) not crying out for a full investigation of the facts and evidence????? Well, the answer is simple, because they are guilty of something. If they knew that they were not guilty of anything, they would be the first to cry out for a public inquiry. But here we see them using the same tactic that they used in the In and Out scandal - they are caught doing something wrong - they deny doing it and then when it is clear that they did do it they say everyone does it. But they were the only ones who did it and they plea-bargained.

I dare a single member of the CPC in the whole country to call for a public inquiry. They won't because they know that where there is smoke, Dean del Mastro's head is ablaze.

To Hell with Democracy. . .

Here's something to think about - the palestinians in the Gaza Strip elected Hamas with 45% of the vote (a victory well over most electoral victories in Canada) in an election that was uniformly considered free and fair. I have never once heard a Conservative (with a small "c" or a big "C") complain about the failure of governments to recognize this legitimately elected government.

Yet when the CPC wins an election here in Canada with considerably less of the vote (particularly when you consider voter turnout which is much higher in Gaza), conservatives are blithely unconcerned about tens of thousands of complaints of electoral fraud and simply accuse anyone who is concerned of being a "sore loser."

Let's put it in clear and certain terms, the CPC, and conservatives in general, are only in favor of democracy when it brings forward results that they want, otherwise they couldn't care less about it.

Robo-Con questions. . . .

Needless to say, the country is abuzz with talk of the Robo-con scandal. When considering these events several basic points must be considered. The first point is - who benefits. Well, we all know the answer to that problem. No matter how much the Conservatives attempt to divert people's attentions with poorly researched claims about some of the calls in question coming from the Liberal Party itself, it is very clear that the primary beneficiary of these calls is the Conservative Party of Canada. In legal parlance this is referred to as motive. The second question is - who had opportunity. The answer to this question is fairly broad. Of course many people could have made these calls, from a tech-savvy group of nerds in Azerbaijan to some really bright junior high-school students in Red Deer Alberta. The voter/party support lists would need to be gathered from across the country (not as easy as it sounds), and then one would have record some of the calls then (presuming one didn't have the equipment oneself) hire a firm or number of firms to make the calls. Now, while in theory, almost anyone could have done this in this world of modern technology, the actual number of suspects are relatively small. Matching opportunity with motive, one must assume that members of the Conservative Party are the most likely candidates to have committed this anti-democratic crime. Of course it could have been people who were simply avid supporters of the party but the voter/party supporters lists are not simply published in yellow pages, it is just very unlikely that people with no political affiliation could have gotten such lists. At the very least, the events suggest conspiracy with party members.

The third, and bigger issue is this - regardless of who actually did this, such efforts surely put into question the legitimacy of the election. One might claim that the actual calls themselves were not the deciding factor in the election. This may or may not be true, but the fact is that, except in rare cases, it is almost impossible to prove that any particular voter fraud was the deciding factor in an election. I have seen voter fraud first hand in El Salvador where the ruling party was essentially telling rural voters who to vote for with the promise of some small reward such as clothes or building materials. In most cases these promises were made to people with very poor literacy skills who were very detached from the political process. They didn't necessarily understand the implication of the election itself, let alone the implications of voting for one party or the other. Under such conditions voter fraud is relatively easy, but even then it is nearly impossible to prove that the results of the election was actually affected by the fraud. Even at the best of times, the legitimacy of a democracy is a delicate matter. Voter fraud and suppression has become so widespread in the US, for example, that to continue to call it a democracy is a bit of a stretch if you ask me, and that is without taking into consideration the systemic problems of corporate dominance.

The point is that anyone, and I mean ANYONE, who is genuinely concerned with democracy in Canada had to have been deeply concerned about how things were going before this scandal hit. The Conservatives have already been convicted of election fraud as well as reprehensible robo-call fraud in relation to Irwin Coulter. Anything that tarnishes the legitimacy of an election in Canada is deeply problematic, particularly if it involves thousands (which this clearly does) of voters.

Even if people say that these calls didn't affect the outcome of the election, one thing is clear - if people knew at the time that such fraud was being perpetrated upon our nation, that would definitely affected the outcome. So while Harper taunts the nation, metaphorically sticking out his tongue at the electorate saying I am in power and you can't do anything about it, we are left holding the proverbial bag of democracy in our collective hands. Are we going to be satisfied with a tarnished system and a government that has demonstrated that they will systematiclly manipulate the system, shut down the system, shut down debate, shut down scientists and statisticians, shut down the parliament, shut down committees, shut down debate, and break any law to stay in power? Or are we going to demands more?