Indulge me, dear readers, with one more example of political irony. This one comes from south of the border, where, in a country replete with examples of politicians who hug the flag, hold the bible, kiss the babies, and lie through their smiles, the timing alone of this award winning entry in the middle of a global pandemic is truly outstanding.
Steve Adler, Mayor of Austin Texas, posted a Facebook video message on Nov. 9, telling his residents to “stay home” with only immediate family members to avoid spreading COVID-19 in their communities. The video was filmed while he was in Mexico on vacation with eight people, including immediate and extended family,
Mr. Adler has at least apologized, whereas our Caledon hypocrites, Regional Councillor Annette Groves for her betrayal of Caledon at Peel Region, and Conservative MP Kyle Seeback for the destruction of the WE Charity have both yet to apologize.
In my humble opinion, all fine examples of political irony in action.
Although vaccines for COVID-19 may be soon available in North America, there is as yet no vaccine for stupidity. I am referring to the stupidity that occurs when we know exactly what these politicians have done, and yet we let their smiling spin marketing fool us again and again. By the time the next federal or provincial or municipal election comes around, they will find some shiny new object with which to distract us.
The price of a just freedom and intelligent democracy is lifelong learning and eternal vigilance. The way I see it.
Irony, by common definition, is the expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect. As students of English Literature, we learned that dramatic irony occurs when the reader knows what is going on, but the characters in the poem, novel, play do not.
Political irony is a little different. It occurs when politicians say or print or graphic something that is the total opposite of who they are and/or what they do or have done. The effect is not humourous but it does tend to emphatically highlight their hypocrisy.
Two examples will suffice to illustrate this concept clearly. The WE Charity controversy that dominated the media for much of 2020 was created by the Conservative and NDP parties for the sole purpose of tarnishing Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada. Although all of the spurious accusations against the government and its leader were found to be groundless by the the federal Ethics watchdog, the WE Charity was destroyed.
This was an international development charity and youth empowerment movement founded in 1995 by human rights advocates Marc and Craig Kielburger. They started it on a dream when they were teenagers, and it brought inspiration, opportunity and global success to youth around the world for over 25 years. In the summer of the pandemic when students desperately needed employment, the Conservative led attack against WE crushed the dream and their program to provide projects and grants to post-secondary students across Canada.
Less than a month after the dust had settled on the WE controversy, we received a full colour brochure in the mail from our local Conservative Party of Canada MP, Kyle Seeback. It had his smiling face on the front cover beside the banner headline “Opportunities for Youth” … too little, too late Kyle. That’s political irony and hypocrisy in action.
The second example is closer to home. On November 26, 2020, Caledon Regional Councillor Annette Groves voted against her own Town of Caledon at the Region of Peel. The subject of the vote was a motion to reduce Caledon’s Regional Councillors by 2 and add 2 seats to Brampton’s delegation. Her colleagues in Caledon were totally blindsided. At a time when Caledon’s population is expected to grow exponentially over the next ten years, losing representation at the Region made absolutely no sense at all.
At a Special Session of Council streamed live on November 30th, Ms. Grove’s actions and the passing of the motion were widely condemned by citizen delegations and Councillors alike. The next day in our Canada Post mailbox, I received a full colour three-page fold out brochure. There on the front page was Ms. Grove’s smiling face beside the banner headline, “Dear Friends and Neighbours.” That’s political irony and hypocrisy at its finest.
With friends like these, we don’t need enemies. But we may need a lesson in media literacy to remind us that all that glitters is not gold. Those happy smiling faces and weasel word headlines are designed to lure us into the lie. Remember carefully the words of warning in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet:
“O’ serpent heart hid with flowering face! Dove-feathered raven, wolfish-ravening lamb.Despised substance of divinest show! Just opposite to what thou justly seem’st.”
Yes, when political irony is in play, put on your sunglasses, look past the glitter, and pray we don’t get fooled again.
“The Goldman Environmental Prize is a prize awarded annually to grassroots environmental activists, one from each of the world’s six geographic regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands and Island Nations, North America, and South and Central America. Each year, the Goldman Environmental Prize is honoured to recognize six heroes of the environment. Join us tonight, November 30, 2020, 7:00 pm EST on Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter to meet them and hear their stories firsthand. Hosted by award-winning actress Sigourney Weaver, this virtual award ceremony will feature Robert Redford, Danni Washington, and Lenny Kravitz, as well as musical performances from Jack Johnson and Michael Franti.”
The 2020 prize winners are Kristal Ambrose from the Bahamas, Chibeze Ezekiel from Ghana, Nemonte Nenquimo from Ecuador, Leydy Pech from Mexico, Lucie Pinson from France, and Paul Sein Twa from Myanmar.
I would like to highlight the work of Nemonte Nenquimo for selfish reasons. Thirty years ago I started a global and environmental education initiative called Global Perspectives: the Periwinkle Project, named after the endangered and life-saving rosy periwinkle of Madagascar. For Christmas of that year, instead of buying gifts for each other, my family donated to the Guardians of the Rainforest program to protect endangered jaguar habitat in Central and South America. Flash forward from the headwaters of Mono Cliffs in 1989 to the rainforests of Ecuador in 2020.
“Nemonte Nenquimo was chosen for her success in protecting 500,000 acres of rainforest from oil extraction. She and fellow members of the Waorani indigenous group took the Ecuadorean government to court over its plans to put their territory up for sale. Their 2019 legal victory set a legal precedent for indigenous rights.”
Ms. Nenquimo’s hunting-gathering Waorani culture numbers around 5000 people, They had lived in relative isolation prior to contact with American missionaries in 1958. She recalls listening to her grandfather’s stories of the land and the people before that contact tried to Christianize their culture.
“Historically, the Waorani women have been the ones to make the decisions, the men went to war,” she explained in an interview with Online’s Latin America editor Vanessa Buschschlüter. “Waorani women made the men listen to them and it wasn’t until we had contact with the evangelical missionaries that we were told that God created Adam and that Eve came second and was created from Adam’s rib, that’s when the confusion [about women’s role] started.”
Sound familiar First Nations? The arrival of evangelical missionaries is when the confusion about everything starts. But Ms. Nenquimo decided to reverse history and became the first woman to be chosen as President of the Waorani of Pastaza province in Ecuador. “When it comes to making decisions, the women pull no punches, and everyone listens up”.
The courts in Ecuador certainly listened up because in In April 2019, in a case that would have allowed their lands to be auctioned off, the judges ruled in favour of the Waorani. “The ruling not only protects 500,000 acres from oil extraction but also means that the government will have to ensure free, prior and informed consent before auctioning off any other land in the future.”
To hear her full story, and those of the other recipients of the 2020 “Green Nobel” prizes from the Goldman Environmental Foundation, tune-in at 7:00 p.m. tonight. For full information about the Goldman Environmental Prize and how to register for tonight’s ceremony go to: www.goldmanprize.org
Nemonte Nenquimo and her fellow recipients are living proof of environmental literacy in action and inspirational examples to all of us who continue to educate, work, and fight for the health of our planet and all of its magnificent diversity of life.
On Thursday, November 26, 2020, Caledon was betrayed by one of its own citizens, one of its own elected representatives. That person was Regional Councillor Annette Groves. And here is how it unfolded.
At the Region of Peel Council meeting that day, Mayor Patrick Brown of Brampton walked a surprise Motion on to the agenda that would remove two out of the five Regional Councillors currently representing the citizens of Caledon at the Region of Peel. The two seats that Caledon lost on Council would go to Brampton. Normal procedural guidelines and debate were suppressed and the Motion passed with the support of the Brampton and Mississauga Mayors and Councillors. The Mayor and Councillors from the Town of Caledon voted against the Motion with one notable exception … Caledon Regional Councillor Annette Groves.
Caledon’s Mayor and the other Caledon Regional Councillors were totally blindsided by the surprise walk-on Motion. Regional Councillor Jennifer Innis is hoping the Town Council will swiftly address Grove’s vote against Caledon’s citizens.
Caledon Mayor Allan Thompson responded immediately with an emergency communication to Caledon citizens: “This surprise motion is unacceptable. Representation on Council is important. This discussion warrants greater respect than a walk-on motion. If there are problems of representation to be addressed, they can’t be at the expense of diminishing Caledon’s voice on Regional Council. We are going to continue to play a bigger role economically for the region and in the Greater Toronto Area. Now more than ever, we need effective representation.”
A Special Live-Streamed Council Meeting was quickly called for November 30, 2020 to address this crisis. Local online news reporting on the reduction of Caledon’s significant reduction of representation at the Region of Peel drew a swift commentary from one Bolton resident:
“This surprise Motion was walked on by Mayor Patrick Brown and supported by Caledon Regional Councillor Annette Groves. It is totally unacceptable for a representative of Caledon to deliberately sabotage our representation at the Region of Peel. If allowed to stand, this act of betrayal will put the growth planning for Caledon at the mercy of Brampton and Mississauga politicians and their influential developer puppeteers.”
Citizens of Caledon should now be calling on their Council representatives to hold Regional Councillor Annette Groves accountable, publicly censure her, and in a recorded vote unanimously condemn her actions.
Regional Councillor Grove’s latest betrayal of Caledon is a confirmation that she is unfit to serve and represent our citizens.
The way I see it.
Skid Crease, Caledon
NOTE: The Peel Region meeting from November 25 is currently being streamed online.
Here is the clearest possible example we can find of the reason why there is so much cognitive dissonance that occurs every time a Conservative politician opens his or her mouth in Ontario. Yesterday, the COVID-19 data summaries for Ontario were truly frightening:
• 1478 new cases and 21 deaths
• Toronto had 356 cases, and Peel hit a record 572 cases
• 63% increase in hospitalizations
Now read those numbers over again, very carefully.
Today Ontario reached a new record of 1855 cases.
This data is factually correct. As is the data in the Auditor General’s Annual Report that criticized the Ford government’s inadequate response to the pandemic. Factually correct.
Now, here is what the Premier and his minions said to The People of Ontario yesterday: “We are flattening the curve,” using reports from the burgeoningly obese and inefficient “Science Table” as proof of their success. “Provincial Health reports that cases appear to be flattening.”
Even with a modicum of literacy and mathematics skills, a perfectly ordinary person can look at the data, compare that to the Premier’s spin marketing and realize that reality is off the charts here. The government is lying to us. The curve is NOT flattening.
Ontario needs to know exactly who composes the bulky membership of that “Science Table” and who exactly is issuing those “Provincial Health” Reports. According to Bonnie Lysyk (MBA, FCPA, FCA, LPA), our Auditor General, the provincial response to COVID-19 has been anything but open, transparent and accurate. The Premier sputters and lies in response, the Minister of Health feigns indignation and lies in response. But neither tells the truth or accepts responsibility.
This is not confined to Ontario. Yesterday in Quebec, Premier Legault told the bald-faced lie that “the COVID fight is almost over because we have the vaccine.” The fight is just beginning, you COVIDIOT, and the vaccine won’t be available to most Canadians until at least the summer of 2021. Joyeux Noel.
When the lying liars tell us that accurate reports are lies, that a record setting rise in caseloads and hospitalizations appears to be a flattening of the curve, and the fight is almost over when our opponent appears to be getting stronger, it’s time to change the diapers.