When Members of Parliament Fail

Canada just had a federal election. I live in Caledon, a riding so safe for the Conservatives that the locals claim you could run a dead cow as the CPC candidate and it would win. The Conservative MP recently re-elected in my riding of Dufferin-Caledon is Kyle Seeback. This parliamentarian occasionally pens a column in the local paper entitled “Report from Ottawa” which one would suppose would be filled with vital information for the riding’s citizens. Alas, the column would better be titled “Raving Partisan Rants from Ottawa” filled with plenty of wistful speculations and accusations but nothing of substance.

The title of his latest “Report” was “It’s Time to Return to Work, Justin Trudeau” bemoaning the November 22 start of the 44th session of Parliament and complaining that it “is one of the longest delays in recalling Parliament after an election.” Now, Mr. Seeback should be aware that when, as an MP which his byline indicates, he addresses Justin, it should be respectfully as Prime Minister Trudeau. Seeback then boasted that “A Conservative government would’ve recalled parliament much sooner. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and immediately return to work in the House of Commons to address the priorities of Canadians.”

Whoa there, Kyle. First, the “if we’d won we would have recalled parliament sooner” is analogous to the old saying: If my aunt had had  testicles, she would’ve been my uncle.” Secondly, thanks to Erin O’Toole’s waffling on mandatory vaccinations, your party isn’t even prepared to re-enter the House because of the Conservative anti-vaxxer MP’s who refuse to either reveal their vaccination status or get vaccinated in the first place. You’ll all have to roll up your sleeves to get a shot before you get to work for Canadians. One of the top priorities for Canadians is to do everything possible to get this COVID-19 pandemic under control, so get out and push, or get out.

So, MP Seeback, tell us how you plan to do that so that we can get back to some sense of normal in both our humanity and our economy. Let us know how your party plans to cooperate with the other parties in Parliament to ensure this happens as efficiently and honestly as possible. All we have heard so far is that the CPC plans to be “The Party of NO” ready to shoot down any Liberal bills intended to get us out of this pandemic and back to life and work.

The recent federal election was intended to give Canadians a chance to clearly indicate the direction of their political compass for the next four years. Alas, the $600 million dollar gamble (taxpayer monies which would have been better spent fulfilling the “to do” list from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission) produced a minority government that looks a lot like previous one. Minority governments can work beautifully, but only if all the parties involved come to the table ready to work with collaboration towards consensus on the actions that will benefit all Canadians.

“If we had won” is a vain fantasy Mr. Seeback. Your Party lost. You actually had less of the popular vote than in 2019 and are down 2 seats in 2021. Now, let’s make sure Canada doesn’t lose because of your right wing Conservative Party’s obstinate and antagonistic stance toward anything centre left. If Canadians had wanted the CPC to lead the country, you’d be the governing Party right now. You’re not. Quit whining and get back to work Kyle Seeback. On November 22nd we’ll see who has their sleeves rolled up.

The way I see it.

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Skid Crease, Caledon

The Last Debate

September 10 2021. I voted today.

 It is now Friday, the morning after the English version of the last two Leader’s Debates in the Canadian federal election. The first, held in French, was on more global topics that ranged from international affairs to cultural identity, and produced no clear winner. However, Mr. O’Toole was on the defensive from the outset for his sly release of the CPC platform funding just hours before the debate.

The final Debate was all coast to coast to coast Canada, covering everything from climate change to affordable housing to Peace and Reconciliation, and there were clear winners and losers. From my perspective, the gold medal went to Annamie Paul. She was articulate, composed, well-informed, and kept the petulant boys firmly in their place. Unfortunately, the GREEN Party infighting earlier in the year guaranteed that she would not win the Prime Minister’s office. The outright loser, sadly for me, was Justin Trudeau.

I confess that my political leanings are centrist with a slight tilt to the left. The Vote Compass survey lets me know each year that I am clearly on the Liberal side of policies, with one toe in the Green and NDP ideologies, and the door clearly shut on the right wing Conservative Party of Canada and far right wing People’s Party of Canada. That being said, Erin O’Toole of the CPC may have walked away with a golden ticket to the Prime Minister’s office.

For an audience not aware of the CPC policies and practices that are in direct opposition to the smooth words that came out of Erin’s mouth last night, Mr. O’Toole appeared cool, reasonable and well-prepared to not answer a single question directly. He also cleverly took every opportunity to raise the irrelevant ghost of Jody Wilson-Raybould every time Mr. Trudeau was questioned about his commitment to indigenous peoples.

Mr. Trudeau, on the other hand, appeared defensive, angry, flustered and did not present at all well during the debate. Most annoying seemed to be the question: “Why did you call an election in the middle of a pandemic?” It was clear by the end of the night that the Prime Minister was asking himself the same question and had no good answer.

The result of which may be a minority Conservative government at best. At worst, it could have handed Navigator O’Toole a majority CPC parliament that will saddle Canada with four years of gun lobbyists, fossil fool projects, tax-breaks for the rich, and a return to colonial rule.

When I was trapped in the Twitter echo chamber I once tweeted that Erin O’Toole would never be Prime Minister of Canada. I take that back. Last night, Justin Trudeau may have just made that possible. I will still be voting for our local Liberal candidate, and still stand with the Liberal centrist policies and a belief in a Just Society. I simply couldn’t vote for the gaslighting Conservative MP we currently have in Dufferin-Caledon, nor support his fork-tongued leader.

So, why will Erin O’Toole possibly be our next Prime Minister? Neither the BQ, the NDP, the GPC, nor the PPC have the numbers to win. Econexus Research shows the NDP are holding steady at 19%, but the GPC at 3% and the BQ at 6% have both lost ground in the polls. However, the PPC have risen to 7%. an increase that shows us how far right the angry mob is marching.

That leaves a toss-up between the Liberals and the CPC tied at 32.5% each. There is a dark underbelly of anger in the country right now that has been fueled by pandemic health concerns, economic pressures, and anti-vaxxer selfishness and stupidity. That resentment, directed undeservedly towards the Liberal Party, burst when the election was called.

Undeservedly because it is important to remember that this Liberal minority government did not start the COVID-19 global pandemic. What they did do was guide Canada safely through the first Four Waves with solid health policies and reasonable economic stimulus. Even today’s job numbers showed us the good news that employment is up. Anyone who is angry at this government for pursuing a mandatory vaccine policy and vaccine passport is a complete COVIDIOT. Anyone angry at this government for spending billions on vaccines, health benefits, and economic assistance to individuals and small businesses should move to Florida or Texas.

Yes, we should not have called an election at this time. We should have quietly surfed the Fourth Wave with our noisy minority government until the waters calmed. Instead, we may have given the reins of power to a party that is only one polite policy notch down from the Republican horde to the south. Oh Canada.

The way I see it.

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Skid Crease, Caledon

Who Are These Protesters?

Fact: Since the Covid-19 Pandemic began, 70,000 Canadians have died from COVID-19 and the unvaccinated now account for over 80% of new infections.

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 The Bolton Protest of August 27, 2021 continues to make the news as the federal election campaign criss-crosses Canada. The obscene, angry, anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, pro-vapers, pro-smokers. pro-gun, pro-oil pipeline protesters, pro freedom to be selfish continued to disrupt almost every campaign stop made by the Prime Minister of Canada. And yesterday, September 6/21 in London Ontario, a gravel throwing goon assaulted the Prime Minister as he got on his campaign bus.

The protesters appear now to be a well-organized, almost professional, group, attracting local “antis” to join the core team who track and plague the Prime Minister’s public stops with the feeding frenzy of muskeg mosquitoes. It’s not clear if they are funded by tobacco and vaping corporations, the gun lobby, oil and gas interests, and right wing political parties and their individual donors and supporters – that’s a paper trail easy to obscure. But the regular appearances of the core group, the quality of their large “F*ck Trudeau” banners and posters, and the provincial and national co-ordination of their protests indicates a well-oiled machine.

BBC World News noted that political leaders around the world have have been harassed by protesters complaining about the pandemic lockdowns and vaccine restrictions. However, “journalists covering the Liberal campaign say the anti-vaccine protest mobs following Mr Trudeau are more chaotic and sustained than they’ve seen in the past.”

Unlike in the United States where the anti-vaxxer, Ayn Rand devotee, Covidiot Trumpists are almost entirely Republican and the mask wearers almost all Democrats, there is no such 50/50 split in Canada. Phillippe J. Fournier wrote in Maclean’s magazine on June 4, 2021 that in Canada, the anti-vaxxer crowd does not tend to split down political lines as clearly as in the U.S.A. Here the extreme fringes of both the left and the right tend to attract the anti-vaxxer mentality; however, “figures nonetheless suggest that a significant proportion of anti-vaccine voters do lean towards parties on the right of the political spectrum,” primarily the Peoples Party of Canada and the Conservative Party of Canada.

Also of note is that neither the leaders of the CPC, Erin O’Toole, or the PPC, Maxime Bernier, have not endorsed mandatory vaccinations or a national vaccine passport. Conservative O’Toole has gone so far as to endorse personal choice in getting vaccinated, speaks out of both sides of his mouth about automatic assault weapon gun rights, and wants to rebuild oil pipelines that both Canada and the US have already vetoed. This attitude is icing on the cake for the mentality that joins in the types of protests that are now plaguing our democracy and Prime Minister on a regular basis.

If one were stereotyping these protesters, it would be no major leap to say they also listen to Talk Radio 1010, read the Sun, think Ezra Levant of Rebel News is an insightful journalist, and will almost certainly not be voting Liberal or Green or NDP in the upcoming election.

That leaves the usual suspects. Name and shame them and keep them far from your homes and your families. 70,000 Canadians have died thus far from COVID-19 and the unvaccinated now account for over 80% of new infections. A democracy only works if it has a well-educated and well informed core of citizens. Handing the reins of power to the lunatic fringe of these protesters is a really, really bad idea.

The way I see it.

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Skid Crease, Caledon

Election Lawn Signs 101

 

There is a federal election coming to Canada on September 20, 2021 and the flowering of lawn signs in this campaign has been relatively sparse in the Caledon area. That could be because it is considered one of the safest Conservative ridings in Canada, leading to the local attitude that you could run a dead cow as the Conservative Party of Canada candidate and it would win the Dufferin-Caledon riding.

That being said, there is still a diversity of political thinking in our rurban Town of Caledon, so I walked our local neighbourhood to get an insight into the psyche of the populace. Now, not to stereotype, but the choice of Party says a lot about the values we wish to state publically on our lawns. This is particularly true since Bolton made the international news with full video coverage of the angry mob that disrupted and caused the cancellation of the Prime Minister’s campaign visit to Caledon.

 For example, if we place a People’s Party of Canada sign it lets our neighbours know that we are on the extreme alt-right of the spectrum where the leader of that party tends to racism, sexism, intolerance, and we are basically registering a protest vote because the Maxime will get the minimum.

 On the other hand, if we display a GREEN party sign on our lawn, we probably tend to care for the environment and have a respect for diversity, but again a protest vote after the party ate itself alive in public. I have seen one of each of those signs in my neighbourhood.

 Sadly, nary a single orange NDP sign, which would however indicate that we had a strong sense of social justice and had bought into the myth that the ghost of Jack Layton, who played footsies with Stephen Harper for years, will save the party from anything but a mid-field finish.

 Which brings us to the two parties that will likely battle it out to form another minority government. If you are displaying a Liberal red sign on your lawn, you are content that the current government has brought us safely through the first few waves of this pandemic. We have emerged with a stable recovering economy and strong global health rating. And despite the opposition parties trying their best to manufacture scandals and create crises, it turned out to be all smear smoke and no fire.

 Finally, if you are displaying a bluish Conservative Party of Canada sign on your lawn, you probably tend to more right-wing views on things like tax-breaks for the rich, building pipelines for fossil fools, the Right to Choose for vaccinations but not for women, the right to own automatic assault rifles, and a suddenly found respect for drug addicts, all things indigenous, and military veterans. Better late than never. Sorry, my bias is showing here.

After the obscene protests in Bolton on Friday August 27th when it was revealed that members of the local CPC candidate’s team were part of the protest, I drew the line. Despite the candidate’s and party leader’s later statements of “zero tolerance” for such behaviour, all I see now when I spot one of those blue re-elect your Conservative MP signs is a horde of virulent Yellow Vesters, rabid anti-vaxxer Covidiots, and extremist cult Conservative Republicans shouting violent obscenities at our Canadian Prime Minister.

A dead cow is one thing. A rabid rat is a totally different proposition.

The way I see it.

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Skid Crease, Caledon

Earth Day, April 22, 2021

 This Monday I had the great pleasure of being interviewed by Patricia Ogura for the Retired Teachers of Ontario organization. Her brief article is about the quest for environmental literacy and the contribution that the retired educational “elders” can make for our communities and our planet. We spoke about my years of advocacy, and reflected on the need to keep this Earth Day message positive. The truth is, we’re all going to die.

I reflected back to my first Earth Day walk with my students in 1970. How much has changed in fifty-one years? Turns out, not a lot. The most significant impact for environmental improvement has been the arrival of a deadly virus that dramatically slowed manufacturing and transportation pollution. The COVID-19 pandemic also reduced air travel and ocean travel – atmospheric air quality improvement and whale population resurgence followed in the wake of human inactivity.

Fifty-one years later we are still talking about boomerang lunches and taking our own reusable mugs and shopping bags as if we had just discovered these personal actions. A TV show this morning showed children happily making art from recycling box items. Makes us feel personally good for one day, and then it’s back to the shopping mall to buy more “stuff” that will end up in  the recycling box or garage can.

Dear readers, think of this like the solutions for stopping the pandemic. You stop the opportunities for person-to-person transmission: mask, distance, wash hands, and keep to small family/personal bubbles. Period. The vaccines will only work if all those basic steps are followed. Do we want to save humanity and leave a healthy biosphere on the planet? Then humans need to stop consuming the planet’s resources like we have an additional six planets waiting in reserve. There is no vaccine for human stupidity.

Before it was disbanded by Stephen Harper, Canada had a wonderful Science Council made up of real practicing, published and peer reviewed scientists. They advocated for turning Canada from a Consumer to a Conserver Society. That is anathema to the Conservative mindset. Just recently the Conservative Party of Canada voted at their policy Convention NOT to acknowledge the reality of Climate Change. That is how far we have come in fifty years. One step forward, two steps back.

Wonderful groups from Students on Ice to Ontario Nature try their best to educate a concerned and passionate youth about using their voices to inspire change in their communities. In 1990, we had teen Severn Suzuki shaming adults on the world stage at Rio. In 2005, the Students on Ice delegation was included in the Montreal Biodiversity Convention – that UN agreement was shredded a year later by Stephen Harper. In 2020 we had teen Greta Thunberg shaming adults during her global protest tour. Good work children! Pat on the head and back to big business.

My conversation with Patricia was honest. We do these personal role modelling efforts – walk, cycle, electric car, reusable materials, sustainable renewable energy sources, doing business with ethical companies, living elegantly with less, so that we can look our children and our neighbours’ children in the eye and say, “I tried my best.”

In the meantime, in business and politics, the Economy trumps Ecology every time … until there is an overshoot and biological collapse of some major Earth system. That’s when the punch that was predicted thirty-one years ago by the World Meteorological Organization hits us right in the face: “Humankind is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, all-pervasive experiment on the atmosphere of Earth, the consequences of which will be second only to global nuclear war.” Unanimous concluding statement from WMO, Toronto, 1988

Happy Earth Day 2021. I’m taking my dog for a walk and smiling, behind my mask, at my good neighbours.

The way I see it.

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Skid Crease, Caledon