Playing Moral Poker with Politics

 Picture two political junkies sitting around a table playing high stakes moral poker with holier-than-thou passion. The Canadian looks across the table at her American challenger. The pot is filled with votes and the fate of democracy is on the line.

The Canadian speaks carefully, “I’ll see your Marjorie Taylor Greene and raise you a Lynn Beyak, eh?”

The American looks up over her cards and without hesitation replies, “Then I’ll raise you a Matt Gaetz!”

“I’ll see your Matt Gaetz and raise you a Derek Sloane … and a Pierre Poilievre!”

Silence. The American carefully studies her hand. “I’ll see you with a Josh Hawley!”

The two players glare at each other across the table. The theme music from “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” begins…. The pot grows bigger and the stakes get higher and the game goes on as McConnell and McCarthy cards are played against Ford and Kenney.

The Canadian discards her O’Toole card and draws … a Trudeau – the American folds!

Later in the game, the table will be filled with players from Mexico, Central and South America, Europe, Russia, the -stans, the Middle East, Africa, South and East Asia, and Oceania. Everywhere. But always the availability of the same checks and balances.

Russia says, “I’ll raise you a Stalin,” and Cambodia replies with, “I’ll see you a Pol Pot.”

Iran says, “We’ll raise you an Allah,” and Israel replies with, “We’ll see you with a Yahweh.”

There are no winners at the political moral poker table, just a pot full of tax monies and bodies and egos and extremist evangelical myths that keep on growing.

Into the room walks a young child. Her eyes sweep through the souls of all the players and they grow quiet. She calmly claims the pot, and then knocks over the poker table. The politico immoralists at the table are banished to their bedrooms for a lifetime Stay At Home Lockdown. She donates all of the proceeds to Women’s Shelters, after first deducting enough to cover her university education. That’s another way to play the game.

The way I see it.

***

Skid Crease, Caledon

*image from pokernews.com

 

 

Children, School, and Mental Health

Never let schooling interfere with education.” Grant Allen, 1895.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced some interesting debate about the benefits of children being schooled in a classroom. While some expert doctors declare that children’s mental health and indeed their future success in life is inextricably bound up in in-school learning, Grant Allen and Mark Twain respectfully disagree

 

I agree with Mark and Grant. The industrial revolution model of in-school classroom learning is neither conducive to high quality learning nor to fulsome mental health. In fact, as many of our First Nations argue, in-school learning is punishment for children. I know. I was in the public school system for over half a century, both as a student and as an award winning teacher.

Granted, most of my teaching years were spent subversively trying to get my students out of the classroom on field trips and outdoor environmental education adventures, a  quest that liberated both them and me. In the mid-1800’s, Egerton Ryerson may have had the best of intentions in dealing with those hordes of rural children moving with their families to the cities for  factory employment, or it may have been purely a mathematical necessity, or it may have been a case of cultural genocide for generations of First Peoples families.

My youngest son is now in his final year of pandemic induced online university, He was raised outdoors, but knows the necessity of schooling in this age of information and high tech. However, as I remind him, how many Engineering courses deal with Ecology and Ethics, deal with the moral choices of “I can build it, but should I build it?”

That is what a life lived in diverse ecosystems reveals. That there is no economy outside of a healthy ecology, We live in a finite frame of resources unless we get another meteoric impact of new materials. We are not 6000 years old, our planet is not a flat disc around which the sun circles, and we did not walk with dinosaurs.

When we walk and share and learn in the world we discover the wonder in children’s eyes when they discover an ancient sea fossil in the high limestone cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment … and the stories of Earth’s billion years of history begin.

To place thirty young bodies in a tightly enclosed indoor space on plastic chairs, sitting at desks, studying from the printed images of the real world on the pages of colonial textbooks is not only indoctrination, it is child abuse.

Years ago, on a visit to Eskimo Point, now renamed as Arviat, an Elder told me, “Why is the white schooling system punishing our children. They make them sit in those chairs and they can’t move or speak. Children run and play and fall down and get up and learn and explore. What they are doing is punishment.”

As I have written previously, we keep you, our children, in a box  for thirteen years from Kindergarten to High School, and on your graduation we hand you the keys to the car. We never really taught you how to drive, how to live, choose a partner, contemplate the big questions of who we are, from where did we come and to where are we going, but we hand you the keys. Good luck driving at high speed looking into the rear view mirror.

For over a million years human beings raised children in small family and community groups. There was no mass indoor schooling and our mental health seemed to be just fine. Perhaps the cure for all these modern insanities lies not in school but in family and outdoors. Perhaps as our old storytellers taught us: “Keep our children close to the wild places and sacred spaces.”

Long live free range children. The way I see it.

***

Skid Crease, Caledon

 

 

 

 

Red Herring Headlines

Following Julie Payette’s resignation, the “non-partisan” CBC had hosts, pundits and Opposition Party guests heap scorn on Justin Trudeau’s initial ad hoc selection of her as Governor General. In print media, Fraser, Fife, et al. went all Opinion Piece proselytizing on how none of this would have happened under Harper.

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole intoned:  “Considering the problems with his last appointment … the Prime Minister should consult opposition parties.” The NDP’s Jagmeet Singh bemoaned the Liberal’s lack of good judgement: “This is all sad, but it’s so Justin Trudeau’s style,” he said. “He thinks that he knows better than anybody else, than the special committee created by the Conservatives. But we were right at that time. We made the right decision, he did the wrong decision and unfortunately, today we paid a price for this mess.”

Hindsight is a wonderful gift, Mr. Singh, but so is history. Back in 2017 when Julie Payette was nominated to the position of Governor General by Justin Trudeau, then NDP leader Thomas Mulcair announced: “On behalf of the New Democratic Party and Canadians across this country, I applaud the appointment of Julie Payette as the next Governor General of Canada. Ms. Payette is a superb choice as she embodies some of the very best qualities of Canada.” Nothing but the best for the NDP, Jagmeet,

Similarly, then Conservative leader Andrew Scheer proclaimed, “As a scientist, a former chief astronaut for the (Canadian Space Agency), and a leading advocate for Canadian ingenuity around the world, Ms. Payette will be well-suited to play a leadership role in Canada as the next Governor General,”  adding that his party has full confidence in her.

The Canadian Space Agency declared: “Ms. Payette has served the Canadian Space Agency and her country exceptionally well, both on the ground and in space for over two decades. Throughout her career as an astronaut, she was a tireless ambassador for science and technology. Ms. Payette visited schools across the country, encouraging young Canadians to view science as a means to contribute to society and to our planet. As a lifelong defender of the arts, she will be in a unique position to communicate her passion for music and science to the next generation of Canadians.”

 Well, well, well. Turns out that at the time the Conservative and NDP Opposition Parties gave their full confidence for Trudeau’s superb choice of Julie Payette as Canada’s Governor General with nary a whisper of the need to invoke the Harper regime’s Advisory Committee on Vice-Regal Appointments to assist the  Liberal minority government in its selection process.

O’Toole and Singh have clearly established themselves as opportunistic hypocrites. Perhaps a Liberal appointed non-partisan Committee for the Opposition Party Leadership Appointments would create a more robust selection process for the future. You know, to ensure that we have full confidence in the superb choices made for future NDP and Conservative leaders. The current batch have been weighed, have been measured, and have been found wanting.

The way I see it.

***

Skid Crease, Caledon

*images from enwikepedia.com and istockpohoto.com

The Keystone Cops – Trumpism in Canada

 The Keystone XL Pipeline has been dead for some time now. It died under Obama. It died under Nebraska and Montana court orders. It got briefly revived under Trump, It was finally, officially confirmed deceased by the 46th President of the United States, Joseph R. Biden. The Keystone XL Pipeline is dead.

We who are seeking a sustainable energy economy for Canada do not mourn, but the wailing and weeping from Trump wannabe politicians in Canada is deafening, No sooner had Biden cancelled Keystone, than the Republican Conservative horde north of the border, led by O’Toole, Kenney and Ford, took to the airwaves predicting job loss armageddon and the death of the Big Oil corporations.

Let us remember that the Keystone XL Pipeline was NEVER a Canadian dream. It was a business deal cooked up in Calgary between Alberta and Trans Canada Corporation (a private energy company) back in 2008 when Stephen Harper was Prime Minister. Trans Canada Corporation, now known as TC Energy, got it’s Keystone XL Pipeline deal rubber stamped by Harper’s hand-picked corporate National Energy Board.

Fortunately, a marriage made in the deep pits of the tar sands at a time when oil prices were booming high was doomed to failure when the bust came. From environmental studies that showed the potential for disastrous pollution problems to cultural protests over the route selected through the States, Keystone became an investors’ nightmare.

The oily Republican Conservative horde in Canada will no doubt use the cancellation of Keystone XL to attack PM Trudeau. They will blame the Liberals for the loss of non-existent jobs in a  declining and rapidly imploding resource extraction industry whose impending death is as predictable as the demise of the pipeline. Canada needs a sustainable energy sector, not an unsustainable cabal of profiteering fossil fools.

The US just deposed a lying dictator – we don’t need the same kind of leadership in Canada. O’Toole and his provincial partners would be well advised to sit down, educate themselves on the energy needs of the 21st Century, and start planning for jobs and economic security in the new renewable, sustainable energy economy.

Ontario’s Doug Ford is so confused over the issue that he thought for a moment that he was a federal leader who could advise newly elected President Biden to reverse his decision. Mr. Ford, you are a provincial Premier, not a Prime Minister. President Biden will be calling Prime Minister Trudeau on Friday, not you. That’ll do, Doug. That’ll do.

The Keystone XL Pipeline is dead. Long live a sustainable energy sector.

The way I see it.

***

Skid Crease, Caledon

*image from wxow.com