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

The Real Reason for Reopening Schools

“The economy, stupid.” James Carville, 1992

Why is there such a push to re-open schools in the middle of a pandemic just as variant strains of the virus increase the possibility of transmission? Well, as James accurately noted, “it’s the economy, stupid.”

The family circle of the days of Leave it to Beaver are long gone, being replaced by two working parents or single parents leaving no one to look after the children while the parental unit is at work keeping the economy functionning. This is a trend that began in the seventies when more women entered the workforce and accelerated with increasing divorce rates and single parent families. In fact, by 2020, over 1/4 of children were living in lone parent families.

 Doug Ford, alleged high school dropout turned drug dealer turned Lingerie League cheerleader, doesn’t give a hoot about the value of education. He needs those adult bodies back in the factories and stores and services stimulating Ontario’s economy. What’s the motto? “A place to grow .., your business!”  or was it “Ontario: Open for Business”  or was it “Make Ontario Great Again” ….

Heck, you can’t get all those parental units to Build Our Ontario Back Better (BOOBB) if they can’t work because they can’t leave the younger children at home alone, and you don’t have enough provincial daycare spaces due to your lack of policy, so … reopen the schools!

The saddest part of this push is that we are all realizing that parents who grew used to depending on our high quality and professional public school safety net to protect and teach their children are now stuck in a Stay at Home Lockdown with rusty to non-existent parenting skills. The incidence of infants and young children being injured at home has increased dramatically. The incidence of family violence has increased dramatically.

And what does Doug do? He makes home deliver of alcohol easier. Brilliant. In fact, he considers it an essential service. You know the old saying, “Once a drug dealer, always a drug dealer.” Allegedly.

The way I see it.

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Skid Crease, Caledon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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Skid Crease, Caledon