Our Grandchildren’s Budget


Yes, Canada, what we sow, so shall we reap – but not until 2080 when our current Prime Minister’s grandaughter will have to deal with the mess.

JoeExcept for election marketing, the latest federal budget completely missed the reality of 2015, including global climate change and the rapidly increasing gap between the few rich and the very many not rich. The former mis-manager of the Natural Resources portfolio, Joe Oliver again put foot in mouth when he revealed the long term impacts of “Our Government’s™” latest budget.

Yes, income splitting and pumped up TFSAs will only benefit the top 10% of income earners and seniors in Canada, and it will deplete billions of dollars from federal coffers for future programs, but, what the heck, the grandkids can clean it up.

With not a single mention of climate change initiatives, be that alternative energy research and development investment, or a carbon-pricing policy, or funding for mechanisms to meet our broken-promise reduction targets, the budget was a clear indication of Conservative Reform Alliance Party pre-election values. As one commentator put it the day after the budget was tabled:

“Let’s face it, if you believe in social justice, First Nations equity, women’s and children’s issues, advancement for the 90%, and meaningful environmental policies, you probably weren’t going to vote Conservative anyway.” The 90% reference covered everyone from the poverty line to the upper middle class, most of whom are all working either coupon to coupon or paycheck to paycheck. Of the upper class, it is really the .01% who control just about everything in Canada.

As the Harper’s Magazine April 2015 stated in their Harper’s Index, by the end of 2016, the richest 1% of the population will control 50% of the world’s wealth, and I may add, the world’s politicians. If you are not filthy wealthy or from a major fund-raising cultural block, you are of no value to “Our Government™” so don’t expect the future budgets to change much.

Nice work Joe. I hope those Made-in-China/Vietman/U.S.A. New Balance budget running shoes carry you far and wide. Who knows, with acumen like that you may even pick up a job with Barrick Gold.

*****

Skid Crease, Caledon

 

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The Whale as Teacher

Dedicated to Diz Glitheroe (EYES Project) and Geoff Green (Students on Ice), who first gave voice to this story.

as retold by Skid Crease for LTTA (Learning Through the Arts)

*****

It was the last day of the Students on Ice 2008 expedition to the Antarctic, everyone packed up and ready to begin the journey back to Patagonia and then home. The ship was underway heading north when suddenly a two metre dorsal fin broke the water.

The ship cut the engines as the expedition team watched a large male Orca lead a pod of five smaller Orcas past the ship. Then someone yelled, “Seal!” There, on a small ice floe, lay a seal directly in the Orca’s path! The cameras came out as students and staff prepared to record a quick flash of wild nature.

The large male stopped and circled back and forth in front of the pod, and then turned and headed straight for the seal. The young Orcas stayed back, as the male swam towards the floe and then began to circle it. With his large dorsal fin out of the water, the rapid circling of the flow created a vortex of water that soon swept the seal off the floe and into the open ocean. Cameras ready!

But when the Orca emerged from the water, the seal was not in his mouth. Instead, he carried the seal on his head and swam back to the floe and gently deposited the seal back on the ice. He repeated this two more times, and the cameras were poised each time to record the meal. However, the large male swam back to the pod, circled back and forth around them several times and then moved behind them.

The young Orcas then swam towards the floe, and in turn each repeated the vortex wave that swept the seal off the ice floe. Each time the passengers on board were prepared to record the kill. Each time, the young Orcas returned the seal to the ice. One student on board commented that the seal at this point was probably thinking, “OK, just get it over with.” But after each young Orca had done exactly as the big male had done, they swam back to him. He circled around them, and then they all swam away, fading into the Antarctic vastness.

The seal sat on the ice floe, possibly as open jawed as the people on the ship. One Antarctic biologist, who had been studying these ecosystems for twenty-five years, confessed that he had never in his life seen anything like this. For every person on deck watching was the sudden and life changing realization that other species teach, and teach with respect for the food that sustains their lives.

Lesson done, the Orcas moved out into vast interconnected network of the oceans, the seal left to live and breed, life honoured, their lives unchanged. But the passengers on that ship returned home completely changed, perhaps with a voice that would say, “We are not alone.” And like that Apollo 1968 Christmas Eve photo of the Earthrise, perhaps that will be the greatest gift of all.

*****

Skid Crease, Caledon

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Earth Day 2050, a fantasy

Reprinted from April 23, 2012

The following story was created after I asked my 12 year old son what he would say to “Our Leader™’s” children if he met them in the future. His response is the quote written in bold at the end of the story. The children of today are wiser than the children of light.

*****

William had just passed his fiftieth birthday. He had spent most of his adult life known as The Speaker for the Dead, the one who went into the razed and grieving communities and cleansed their guilt by telling the truth of their loves and losses, their sins and graces, and their pain was eased.  Twenty years ago, after the collapse of the inland fisheries, he had moved north of Superior, found a spring fed lake in a tiny remote valley and built his cabin. He became known as the Guardian of the Spring. To those who came with respect he shared the water freely.  They were allowed to quench their thirst, and happily carried their water jugs, filled to the brim, back to their shelters.

The world had changed a great deal in his fifty years. Agriculture in the Great Plains had been devastated by decades of drought, the coastlines of the east and west and north Maritimes had been buried under rising seas, and the Great Quake of 2033 had destroyed the oil pipelines to the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico. Ontario had been annexed by New York, and Quebec had long ago separated to preserve a just society. After the Wild Western Separation, Alberta and British Columbia had disintegrated into warring fiefdoms, and only Newfoundland seemed to prosper, as an ice-free Arctic encouraged the surviving European trawlers to its ports.

With the death of the oil economy, North America had descended into chaos and anarchy and the remnants of the central governments disappeared. But north of Superior, climate change had extended the growing season and the winds of change had been kind. A few small settlements prospered here, and one was in William’s valley.

As Guardian of the Spring, it was William’s responsibility and honour to share the water freely with those who walked the Earth lightly.  But more often than not Marauders appeared who had heard of the pure waters and verdant forests. The Marauders had respect for nothing and their cruelty was renowned. Then it was William’s responsibility and honour to rid the valley of their presence. William’s reputation spread, and the Marauders stopped coming to his valley.  There was easier prey elsewhere.

Then there were they others who came from time to time. They were called The Shunned, the children of the politicians who had sacrificed the temple of the Earth to the money lenders. They were adults now, cursed to walk the Earth begging forgiveness for the evil that their parents had visited upon the water planet and all its living things.

It was the supreme irony that on April 22, 2050, Benjamin and Rachel came stumbling out of the mist and down the forest paths of William’s valley.  He watched them through his spotting scope and recognized them immediately.  They were the lowest of The Shunned, the children of the Great Destroyer, the one whose ignorance and greed had sacrificed the greatest country on Earth.

As they passed each shelter, the people turned their backs.  The Shunned were cold and hungry and thirsty, but not a single person offered them the slightest comfort. They approached William’s cabin cautiously; the Speaker for the Dead, the Guardian of the Spring had become a mythical hero, the one who spoke truth to power, and they feared him.  They stopped at the front porch of the cabin and waited. Only the Guardian could release them from this curse.

William opened the door slowly and stepped out into the early morning light. Benjamin and Rachel held out their open palms in supplication and were about to speak, when William raised his arm for silence.  He took a deep breath, remembered the sacrifices his mother and father had made to heal the Earth, and spoke the words he had been waiting fifty years to say,

Children of my enemy, why have you come? 

I offer no forgiveness for your father’s sins.

William turned his back, the morning sun warm on his shoulders. Benjamin and Rachel felt nothing but the cold winds of retribution.

And so, The Shunned left the Valley of the Guardian and wandered the scorched Earth, homeless and condemned, until the end of their days. So let it be written; so let it be done.

*****

“I will punish the children for the sins of the father to the third and fourth generation.” Exodus 20:5

“For whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” Galatians 6:7, 8

“What goes around, comes around.” Justin Timberlake

*****

Skid Crease, Caledon

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It’s The Environment, Stupid

HarperCCIt was no great surprise to the citizens of Canada, and to the world, that “Our Government™” once again missed it’s obligations to the inhabitants of planet Earth. In whatever rarified media room the Harper government creates its fantasy kingdom, it is far removed from the realities of accelerating climate change. Again, we missed our promised global climate emissions reduction plan deadline.

According to NASA, 2014 was the warmest year on record since weather records have been kept. 2015 also saw the Arctic ice set new records for minimum winter ice pack and researchers are waiting to see what the summer thaw will bring. And with greenhouse gases hovering at 400 ppm, we have reached our threshold for atmospheric overload.

All of this scientific information should lead an environmentally literate government to begin urgent dialogue with the provinces, and then enact federal policies on carbon taxing, sustainable green cities infrastructure funding, and investments in research and development for renewable and low-carbon energy sources.

Alas, “Our Government™” has not even begun the provincial dialogue, and Harper recently stated that regulating the oil and gas industry would be “crazy”. Well, crazy is as crazy does.

There is simply no understanding, or will to understand, the co-benefits of dialogue with provinces, municipalities, First Nations, and concerned citizens that would result in new research, infrastructure support, and weaning off the corporate teat of uneccessary oil and gas pipelines that force unwanted industrial assaults on Canada’s peoples and places.

Paris is coming, and our current Prime Minister is incapable of leading us into the future.

On this Easter weekend, let us all pray for the resurrection of Canadian intelligence, and the election of an environmentally literate leader in October. Of course, that means we will all have to become media literate to read past the distractions of terror, trials of Senators, tax-break promises for hard-working families, and rural voter end-runs.

And don’t forget that $7.5 million going into “Our Government™” advertising during the Stanley Cup playoffs. Oh, so crazy … like a fox.

Our current Prime Minister’s “Best Before” date expired a long time ago. Time for some serious spring cleaning. It’s going to be a long, hot summer.

*****

Skid Crease, Caledon

 

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