Day Eight – Neither Fair nor Fowl

 

 

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Is my town like yours?

My town, London, Ontario, has a population of about 400,000 people who politically either lean right or left depending on the mood. We have a river that runs through our town. We have a hockey arena downtown and a sort of chic market. Our main branch of the library is pretty cool but resides in a failed mall. We do not have a particularly inspired set of political leaders. They go from the petty and corrupt to the genuinely caring and engaged. Our wealthier neighbourhoods are hotbeds of NIMBYISM where they will drop a few bucks in the Sally Anne kettle at Christmas, but you try building something in, or at the edges, of one of their neighbourhoods to help the neediest in our city and you can expect an avalanche of opposition. Charity and helping people is all well and fine but keep it out of our sight seems to be the message.

Our city has 20% of our children living in poverty and a Food Bank that grows and grows and grows in response to the demand from our citizens. We do not have a very strong local arts scene. We have some amazing visual artists in London, for which we a have a world-class history, but generally, we import our talent, and almost all of our young artists go elsewhere to train and live.

Our transit system was the focus of a 3-year battle that really was a proxy war for two different political tribes in our community—the Progressive and Conservative. The result was one of the most brutal arguments, filled with lies and deception, that resulted in a kind of kludged solution that will ultimately serve no one, especially those that need transit the most. It was likely the most divisive political event to happen in our community in more than a decade that was full of sound and fury ultimately creating nothing.

Our town has a history of serial killing.

No, really it does. London, Ontario was at one time the serial killer capital of Canada. Weird eh?

We have, at times, an incredibly generous response from Londoners to emergencies. Like the time the whole town came together when a drunk driver rammed into a house that caused a fire and almost destroyed an entire neighbourhood. Hundreds of people came together to offer food and comfort and their own homes as a place to stay. We also volunteer almost more than anywhere else in Canada. We are the longtime champs of volunteerism as a matter of fact.

Parts of our town are so pretty they take your breath away. We have some of the most gorgeous neighbourhoods in the whole of our country, and the Thames Valley Pathway System is and treasure that needs to be protected and enhanced. We have these collections of natural parks and sites that are unique, and the neighbourhoods that surround them are stalwart wardens for them. They have driven off many a developer. And our downtown recently went through a transformation that was both inspired and will lead to a more robust downtown.

My town is ultimately directionless when it comes to longterm thinking. Its political seasons are filled with arguments for or against taxes. Candidates and incumbents jostling for position and advantage but rarely talk about big ideas and bold visions that chart a course to economic and community growth. When those people come along and propose a bold vision or clear path, there is inevitable a feeding frenzy on local radio, or from former reporters, that shoot it down. Not a good place to have an idea and stick up your hand, London Ontario, lest it is chopped off and shot down.

In the end, my town is neither fair nor fowl but a directionless beige that doesn’t dare to be something more but can still show flashes of brilliance now and then. It is a place of the middle. A place that is and is not.

Is my town like yours?

Day Seven – Economics you Don’t Know

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Many have a sort of bi-polar view of the life of an artist. On the one hand, they think they are starting in foreign garrets, serving tables, doing menial jobs, yet, on the other hand, they believe they live a jet-set glamourous life. People also have a bi-polar view of the arts as a sector. On the one side, we shouldn’t pay for it form tax dollars and on the other that it’s nice to have around. There is then the bi-polar view of those that attend the arts. On the one hand, they’re rich, snobby one-percenters on the other weird druggies dancing to thumping music at 4 in the morning. None of these descriptions is accurate. None of them tells a story of being an artist, being an arts supporter, or the benefits we get as a country when we invest in it.

To be a professional artist, you have had to study with the intensity of an engineering student while allowing yourself and your work to be criticized in class and in public daily. When you’ve finished studying, formally or informally, then you have to be an entrepreneur and sell a commission or land a gig. Landing the gig will often mean surveying a series of predatory, humiliating, and distracting people who know what’s best for your career but will lead you down a path of pain and woe.

In order to make a professional arts organization work, you have to be continually applying for funding, engaging the public, trying not to offend the politicians, competing against the other acts orgs in your own, and keeping the lights with an overhead cost of less than 6%. Not something a so-called “real business”. could do. And then you will always be facing the kinds of questions from funders that many other non-profits don’t have to face. So you’re expected to have answered to a faceless bureaucracy to a level of detail most non-profits never have to.

Then there is the funding itself and the views of the politicians and their woefully uninformed opinions. Using there limited understand they then engage in decisions that have life-changing consequences on individuals and an industry they have not even the remotest understanding of. As opposed to what many politicians say, that the arts are a luxury, The Ontario Arts Council shares that “Ontario’s arts and culture sector represents $26.7 billion or 3.5% of the province’s GDP and almost 300,378 jobs. This “industry perspective” measures all of the culture sector’s output – including both culture and non-culture products (e.g. a theatre company may generate GDP from both ticket sales – a culture activity – and food and beverage services – a non-culture activity).” 

Further, they do us the favour of comparing this to other major industries and, in what will be a surprise to many, the Arts outperforms numerous Ontario economic sectors. For example “Ontario’s culture GDP is larger than that of the accommodation and food services industry ($16.2 billion), the utilities industry ($14.6 billion), the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industries combined ($7.4 billion) and mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction ($6.9 billion).”. In my home town, our local Arts Council created a report and shared that culture generates “$540 million per annum”. So lets put to rest the ridiculous notion that the arts are a luxury but is, in fact, an economic engine in Ontario.

Yet during this pandemic where is the support for the Arts and its vital economic and community contribution to Ontario. Our government gave some money to the most significant arts org in our town, one by the way that has its own foundation, but there was not a penny for the small and medium orgs. Not a penny from a Federal Government for the ongoing support of artists who will not qualify for unemployment benefits. Nor supports for all those professional Arts teachers at the post-secondary and community level who do not qualify for EI. No support from any level of government anywhere I can see that steps into the breach and supports the cultural industry during this time of pandemic in the same way other economic sectors are. 

No, there is a double standard for to the arts; be it from politicians or arts funders or you the public. Artists add more than so many other parts of our economy in terms of real dollar for dollar impact, but that doesn’t matter does it?

No. 

After all the Arts is a nice to have not a need to have. 

Isn’t it? 

Day 6 – Saturday Virus Coffee Special

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Gotta say I am thrilled my daughter is not in school anymore. The thought of her going into those school hallways and classrooms would have had me feeling very anxious. But I don’t have to make that choice though sadly many of you do. Our governments have made this a lot easier, have they? Across Canada, there is a variety of approaches, none of which particularly install confidence.

Here in my adopted Ontario, Doug Ford has come out with a plan that has been roundly criticized by the Toronto School Board and by Sick Kids Hospital. Not a great signs of a winning strategy. Also, the need to open up the rest of the economy seems to be precipitous. I’m not convinced we’re through the first danger far enough yet to start opening everything back up, and yes I know that our economy has been brutalized. Still, I’d rather see a closed business than a life lost.

Add to all this the misinformation that comes out every day from that trusted news source Facebook friends. It’s no wonder people are confused and feeling uncertain. Yesterday someone who was in high school with me, who you would think would know better, sent me a private message with a news story insisting that the WHO had changed its mind about Carona Virus and it wasn’t contagious at all ! And now the WHO was being muzzled from telling the truth.

REALLY?

REALLY?

What I don’t understand is why so many people buy this kind of deliberate misinformation. With just 5 minutes using the goole, you will find the story debunked, verifiable sources for true information, and a host of stories about how this kind of pernicious mistelling of the truth damages our democracy. Yet there’s an old high school classmate blithely serving up a great big serving of self-delusion and misinformation.

Look the thing is I can be both cynical, in terms of school and business opening, and be for factual and accurate information. I don’t have to go over to crackpot theories to feel vindicated in my thinking. You don’t have to either. We should be able to hold two simultaneous points of view from slightly different perspectives.

In the end, what I say, and really what you say, matters not a wit. The government will do what they feel is best and everyone else will, or will not, obey safe distancing and mask-wearing. There will be decent people believing conspiracies and misinformation. Me? I’m going to enjoy the tomatoes growing in my back yard, wear a mask when in public, and cynically look at the information that comes my way. The only other choice is to listen to the conspiracists, and that does not serve my time or focus.

So onward and outward (inward?) friends. Saturday awaits, and so does my morning coffee. But you know did hear that the coffee plantations are using aliens to……….

Day Five – Hearth and Home

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I woke this morning anxious. Many of you may how woken up the same way. Anxious about our children, anxious about our finances, anxious about friends and family, and anxious about the state of the world. I awoke this morning anxious. What I was not anxious about this morning was that tonight I would not have a roof over my head and a bed to sleep in.

But for many in Ontario this week that was not the case. Ontario’s Ford government decided that they no longer needed to use their power to protect people who were economically devastated by the Covid pandemic. Decided that landlord could now evict those people who had no way to pay their rents. Decided that despite the worst economic hit to our country since the great depression, the people in Ontario who couldn’t pay their rent could be kicked out onto the street.

Last night I wondered how do you respond rationally to a leader who allows this to happen? How do you give a party which marches in lockstep with that leader a fair hearing? How do you not see them as indifferent and callous? How do you not see the Ontario Conservative Party, Or the Republican Party in the United States, as a moral threat to Human Decency? I don’t know.

We here in the little berg of London, Ontario, see homelessness every day. We also have our share of indifference to homeless people as evidenced by the crackdowns our city governments have had on homeless camps. We don’t have a solution to housing in our town either. But as much as I disagree with our Major and a number of our Councillors, they did not actively create a law to make it easier to evict people onto the streets. Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario, did just that. And in our town, and your town as well, we will be left to inadequately pick up the pieces of Mr.Ford and The Conservative Party in the desperate form of more homeless people.

In a month or two, you’ll likely forget about this issue, but those people who were evicted will still be without a home. And so we go on. And so this cycle continues; A cycle of politicians, emboldened by the people who elected them, cutting services and protections for the most vulnerable in our community while the rest of shake our heads and wag our fingers for the prescribed amount of virtue signalling before moving on.

I woke up Anxious this morning, but I did not wake up homeless. This week thousands of Ontarian’s will and you and I allowed it to happen.

To say shame on us somehow feels pathetically inadequate, but it is all I have.

Shame on us.

Day Three – Left To Our Own Devices

 

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In the town where I live, I am often very lonely. I don’t have a lot of friends here and don’t see the ones I do have very often. There are some very concrete reasons for my absenting myself from friends and why I am often lonely. This town encourages loneliness, and many, many, many people have told me how difficult they find it making friends here. But this loneliness is not only about my town but also about your town ans the fact that loneliness not only happens here but happens everywhere in such massive numbers that I think it will effect our near and long term future.

I am sure you’ve read about the plague of loneliness that has gripped the western world. I am sure you’re aware of how exasperated that is with the arrival of this virus. It further strips people of any connections they have to other people, and the result is more isolation without any hope of connections to other people. I had read somewhere recently that there has been a huge increase over the last 5 years to help lines and that the volunteers who work those lines have regulars who call every day because that is the only connection to the world they have. Did you know that loneliness can lead to an increase of 30% in early death? I didn’t, but it makes sense to me. So those people who are calling helplines as their only source of social connection are more likely to die because of how alone in the world they are. Doesn’t that break your heart?

In Japan, the lonely and self-isolating are called Hikikomori. Japan has an official number of 1.15 million Hikikomori but experts tell us that this number is more likely 10 million. These people purposely withdraw from society. They are so hurt or bewildered by the world around them that they withdraw from all contact. Shutting themselves up in their apartments, never leaving. Many times they only come out when neighbours complain of smells and authorities investigate finding these poor individuals have died. I think I understand some of the reasons people become Hikikomori. The depths of their pain and hurt must be so extreme that they would rather not see anyone. Ever.

Why I am sharing all this with you? Well because I don’t think about this issue very often and am sure many of you never give it much thought either. More importantly, I want you to consider how we got to the point where people have to call helplines in order not to feel lonely. How did it come to pass that there is such an epidemic of loneliness that it is reported in the planets major newspapers as a substantial public health issue..

I believe that this global loneliness is also linked with the rise in bullying, loss of civility, our inability to see past our own point of view, and growing seeming indifference to one another. We humans are changing friends. We seem to be more lonely, less able to see opportunities for understanding and collaboration, and hardened and indifferent to the suffering that is growing around us.

I am not sure we can change the course we are on, and I would like to leave you with a typically hopeful ending to this kind of blog, but I am not sure I can. I know I am lonely, and I know you are likely alone as well. Both of us knowing this, we don’t seem to be able to connect and change the course of that isolation. So will we become a world of Hikikomori? This may be how many people end up. Unable to cope with the shattered world around them. I hope not, but I am unsure if we collectively have a heart big enough to overcome this and the rest of our problems.

I will look out my window, watch, and see what happens.

Day Two – The Activist

 

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I know some people who think that Activist is a derogatory term. That an Activist is someone that cannot be worked with. That an Activist is a person or persons blocking progress to community-wide goals. So are activists really a problem when trying to solve big problems like food, or housing, or addictions? Yes, Activists can be part of the problem but as equally to blame are often the local Governments, Nonprofits, and Funders. But it’s easier to blame those without power than those with.

The Activist in our community is there to make you feel uncomfortable. Is there to make you recognize there is a problem you have been ignoring. Is there to force an issue, long-buried, into the light of public awareness. They are the persistent voice prodding at us again and again. Prodding at those in power and in the public that there is a serious problem that needs addressing. Activists are an inconvenient pressure that something is wrong.

As I said, I know a number of those in power, and with access to power, who find the Activist a roadblock to solving community problems. I have been told that they are unwilling to work collectively. Unwilling to work with institutions and governments. Unwilling to look at any solution but their own.

I think there is a lot of truth to this. I have known activist leaders who will not work with anyone with power or at the very least distrust those with power to do what they say they will do. I have to say though I have been lied to, or been disappointed by, those in power more often than by activists.

Activists or institutions though aren’t the real problem. No, the real problem is power. Those that have it, or have access to it, don’t want to give it up and those without want it. The result is those community problems that could have been fixed end up in disputes and bad feelings that degenerate into no solutions at all.

Someone told me recently that they thought that the Activists should publicly apologize to those with power in order to resolve the rifts of the past and get to the solutions that could help our community. What I found ironic and troubling about that statement is that there was never a mention of those with, and who have access to, power doing the same thing.

I, unlike some, want the activists in our community That have infuriated me at times. Still, they are there, day in and day out, insistently raising their voice and demanding that the decision-makers, influencers, and the public do something about the serious problems we have. After all wasn’t it the insistent voices that created the civil rights movement, women the vote, and freed India from colonial rule?

They may be inconvenient and as intractable as those with power, but I say bless the Activist. Long may they continue to be an irritant to the powerful and the comfortable. Long may they continue in their underappreciated but critical roles to our communities and long may they be recognized for what they are. The persistent voice of our collective conscious.

Day One

Loser

I fail all the time. I fail professionally, I fail personally, I fail mortally. I fail and fail and fail. Now if you think this is some sort of self-flagellation that leads to some redemption blog, then I will have to disappoint you, friend. I fail because I fail. Not for some deeper purpose like “fail faster “. I fail because I fail.

The reason I am sharing with you that I fail all the time is to put right on the table that I am not some paragon of virtue looking down on everyone. I am not an exemplar of virtue or wisdom. But even though I fail all the time on all kinds of levels at least I can admit it and put a pin in my own hubris as I offer a more severe criticism.

You’re all failing.

In Britain, in the United States, In Canada, in Poland, In France, In Italy, and across the western world you are all failing. All of you are failing miserably. You’re failing because you choose to not care about your neighbour who doesn’t have enough food. You’re failing because you’re willing to let racists and flim flamers take the reins of power in your country. You’re failing because you don’t demand that obscenely wealthy corporations and individuals actually pay their fair share. You are failing because you would rather believe bullshit conspiracy theories propagated by Vladimir Putin on Facebook than the people in your own town. You are failing because you can’t bring yourself to say Black Lives Matter. You’re failing because Me Too makes you feel uncomfortable rather than outraged.

You are failing because you refuse to vote or when you do vote you can’t be bothered to invest the time needed to make sure you’ve made an informed decision. You are failing and failing and failing because you would instead do that, fail, then admit you’re wrong, and it’s that hubris that lets people like Donald Trump get into power. It’s because of that hubris that Boris Johnstone can lie to you again and again and again yet you elect him Prime Minister of Britain. It is because of hubris that you chose the racist Andrzej Duda in Poland. And it is that hubris that allows Justin Trudeau to think he is The Dauphin rather than the servant he is supposed to be.

Now you could blame the right-wingers and the white power element or the patriarchy or the economy, but in the end maybe you should look in the mirror. Perhaps you should consider that you would rather see the world burn, people starve, demagogues be elected, and our children’s future dimmer than admit that you’ve gotten it wrong.

Or maybe you won’t, and you’ll start to hold yourself to account so we can hold those in power to account.

The future of the world os riding on your shoulders friend, so I really have to ask you.

Is failure an option?

Ward 5 – The Choice

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Let’s talk about the Ward 5 race ‘cause that’s where I live, and I have a vested interest. In the ward is the incumbent, Maureen Cassidy, who has served the last term on Council as our representative for Ward 5. Running against her in the election are some people. Notably Randy Warden, who ran and lost n the last election, Charles Knott and Shane Clarke.  What has marked this election across the city, and here in Ward 5, is misinformation, sign wrecking, and anonymous attacks through websites and signs.

Sadly this seems to becoming a norm in London, and I don’t think the media pay enough attention to the trumpifying of our local elections. That said I want to talk about these candidates and who I feel should choice for Ward 5.

For a majority of candidates in Ward 5, there is little difference between the anti-BRT candidates. They oppose BRT without a lot of details. Most say we need to reconsider BRT because of cost, the need for “better” consolation, or that it won’t fit our future needs. Again their clams are light on details and strong on ten-word opinions. The problem though is that Ward 5 residents need the next ten words to understand exactly what their plans are beyond “further discussions or consultations” or “ preparing us for autonomous vehicles” that may or may not ease traffic.

The problem is with these claims, and others that include safe consumption and development is that they don’t have any credible alternatives and are so sparse on details that we could be another decade waiting for any response to growing congestion in London while they discuss and consult. We need action now, not in 2029, on our severe infrastructure and congestion issues. If you want some thoughts on BRT from some leaders with some credibility and experience, then I suggest you read our former mayors ( and outstanding past Ward 5 councillor)  Joni Baechler and Jane Bigelow here on the facts of BRT

About some of the candidates:

Randy Warden is an outstanding volunteer in our community, especially with St.Johns Ambulance and The Canada 150 celebrations. He has given a lot of his time, and his efforts to London should be applauded for this. That does not make his sparse platform and his views on serious issues affecting London very detailed. On his platform page Randy has two lines on job creation, two lines on BRT, two lines on making life easier for families, and two lines on making life easier for families. If you watch the Ward 5 debates you see the same pattern of sparse answers and hardly any details. Randy’s campaign tagline is “leadership you can trust” but it’s tough to do that when there is little substance to his campaign. Randy is a nice guy and a great community volunteer but we need leadership, and a significant part of leadership is clearly articulating a vision and plan for where we are and what we should do. Randy doesn’t do this.

Charles Knott:  I haven’t been able to find much out about Charles other than his campaign website and Linkedin profile. He’s lived in London for some time and went to The London School of Economics to complete masters degree in science. He worked for a bread company and a motor company in customer service, has created a flooring business that supplies Mixed Martial Arts( MMA) companies, and is a manager of a sports clinic. I haven’t found anything about community service or volunteering. Charles has many of the same views as Randy does, though with more words that describe essentially the same viewpoint. You can read his platform here. Again my complaint is the same as I had for Randy – lots of declarations but few details backing up his clams. Charles talks a lot about job creation, and rightly so, but anyone who has spent any time on economic development will tell you that City Councils have little control of job creation. They can create small incentives through development but Councils are severely limited by law on what they can do to attract business to a city. The industrial land development was an effective way Council did this in the last two terms. But it is also important to understand that according to LEDC ( London Economic Development Corporation), who is charged with attracting business to London, says there are 1500 jobs available right now to at great companies. Our problem is we can’t attract and retain the talent we need to fill those jobs. We have a talent attraction and training gap problem in London, not a business attraction problem. How do you attract young professionals to our city? Well, there’s a lot of research on that, and googling Richard Florida is an excellent place to start as is looking at the CityLab website.  I don’t find Charles to be a credible candidate – claims and assertions are fine, but they need facts and details to be believable.

Shane Clarke: I have a lot of time for Shane Clark as he works on issues that are close to my heart. Poverty, mental illness, addictions, and the serious crisis we have in this city when it comes to our most vulnerable fellow Londoners. Shane has only three issues on his platform. Addictions, affordable housing, and snow removal.  I really respect Shane’s commitment to working and advocating with those who are most in need of our attention and focus. Think Shane also has an outstanding character and his care for his fellow Londoners is evident in his work and his volunteering. If my first choice for Ward 5 wasn’t elected, then Shane has the humility to listen and the strength to stand up for his values and our Ward. Check out Shane here

Maureen Cassidy: Maureen has been a long time advocate and volunteer in London especially when it comes to development issues in our ward. Joni Bachelor endorsed her 4 years ago as her choice to replace her, and again this election, and I believe she has done an outstanding job advocating for our ward and major issues across our city. Fiscally she was a part of the Council team that brought in multi-year budgeting and lowered our city debt by 10%. Maureen has advocated and works on issues from poverty, to indigenous issues, to very complex development issues. Throughout she has been consistent, and I believe very effective as a Ward 5 Councillor. I have had my disagreements with Maureen on some big issues, but she has always taken the time to hear me out and at times modify her views if she thought mine were valid.  Have seen her do this with fellow Ward 5 residents as well. She is not afraid to face tough issues and never takes a position for the sake of an easy political win.  I know her to be steadfast, very competent, and above all someone whom you can trust to work for the best interests of Ward 5. Here’s another reason why I support Maureen. She has details to her platforms and facts to back them up. Unlike Randy or Charles, she has more than ten-word answers. I respect that a lot and appreciate the time and thought that went into it. Here is Maureen’s platform and importantly here is the endorsement of some people who are leaders in Ward 5 and London.  I encourage you to vote for Maureen’s re-election as our Ward 5 city councillor because she has shown courage and commitment in the face of adversity and more importantly stood up for Ward 5 while facing it.

Also the Fault of Progressives: Trump, Leitch, and the Age of Division

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We are all, quite rightly, appalled by the way Donald Trump has behaved. His xenophobic, sexist, misogynist,  racist, daily diatribes are in embarrassment to the Party of Lincoln. But while we are all feeling morally superior and content in our enlightenment, I am troubled by how we progressives helped to create the environment for this kind of viral hatred to grow.

We progressives are great a supporting causes like #YesAllWomen, #BringBackOurGirls, #IceBucketChallenge, #IndyRef, #BlackLivesMatter, #LoveWins . All of these are critical issues in our world and all of them very worthy of our attention but there is a problem. Who are we progressives ignoring?

There is the bias we show in the causes we champion and the people we don’t. In the case of the dog whistle politics of a Kellie Leitch or Donald Trump, the cause we did not pay attention to was the plight of the blue-collar worker and those who were ejected in to an uncertain future from the economic disaster of 2008. So many lost their jobs ,or were made redundant by changes in technology on the factory floor, that there became a huge group of people who were left behind. And while clever pundits and economists speak of creative destruction, in the real world millions lost the dignity of work in the middleclass.

The result? Men and women, many of whom had achievied  a middle-class lifewere thrown into a  long humiliating nightmare of uncertainty. Manufacturing jobs were devastated and never came back because those industries either moved to cheaper labour markets, Caterpillar did this here in London, or innovated through technology and so need radically fewer workers in plants. Also retraining programs were inadequate at best and callous at worst. A worker would rarely, especially in the US, get the training they needed to work in advanced manufacturing and would often be forced into programs that were irrelevant to the current job market. Also it was brutally tough for a 50 year old man or woman to retrain in the computer focused workd of advanced manufacturing.

So the dignity and stability of work, which is so critical to having a stable life, became a memory for millions across north America who instead found themselves in precarious work and precarious lives. They were, and are, a growing  group who are rightfully angry and rightfully feeling ignored. Into this vacuum come Kellie Leitch and Donald trump who provide easy targets for the anger and frustration. So it is any wonder that we have the environment that spawns a Donald Trump or Kellie Leitch? No progressive movement I’ve seen is advocating for this group  and so they support those who, through lies and misdirection, provide them with a target for their anger. Immigrants, political correctness, elites, women, international bankers and the list goes on and on. It is so easy for Trump or Leitch to pretend to be one of them while givig them targets for their anger that further thier callous ends. Meanwhile we in the progressive ranks shake our heads and tut in superiority. Racism, sexism, and prejudice are always unacceptable. But it should be equally unacceptable for so many millions to be left behind and become the targets for politicallu opportune predators like Trump and Leitch to pretend to use our friends and neighbours so callously.

Perhaps we need a new hashtag that lasts for more than a weekend. Perhaps we need a hashtag that says we will stand with those being ignored. Perhaps we should do more than a hashtag and actually send messages through the corridors of power and say we will not ignore our friends and neighbours any longer. We won’t stand for the denigration of the dignity of work and the humiliation of families that are left behind. That would be a proud achievement for the progressive movement. I doubt it will happen but it would be a proud moment. #nooneleftbehind

A Culture of Division? Yes the CPC created it

Someone I like great deal was hurt today by my anger at his party. He’s a good man and a much needed engager in this community but I stand by what I said. The Conservative Party of Canada has creatied an environment of racial intolerance, hatred , and division. Today two candidates , one liberal and the other conservative, had their signs defiled by racial hatred and I pointed the finger for creating the environment where this could happen squarely at the source. The Progressive Conservative Party of Canada and the their leader Mr. Harper.

My friend wrote this:

“Take a look at a few of the hot button issues:

1.       Second class citizens- this is a media interpretation and used as hyperbole by other parties. If you take issue with parts of the bill then go after them but do not use such a general phrase for changes to a bill that is so complex.

2.       Conversion therapy- vetting over three hundred candidates is less than a year is complex process. He was removed as a candidate as was appropriate.

3.       The Niqab has been a highlighted debate by the media but let’s not forget, the court ruled on this. It has been named unlawful and is the reason that such checks and balances are in place.”

I can’t agree with his interpretation here and I want to outline exactly why I disagree with his take and why I  blame the growing climate of intolerance on the actions of the leader and the PC party.

Over the course of this very long campaign what have we heard from the Conservative party week after week?

  1. That if a woman where’s a Niqab to the citizenship ceremony and does not uncover her face then she cannot take the oath of citizenship. Many in the CPC blame media or liberals or ndp or anyone else for this being an issue but the PM is the one who has made ,and continues to make even yesterday, this an issue. Also what most people fail to understand is that women who chose to wear the Niqab during the ceremony have to remove it for identification before they sign their citizenship papers. So they have been clearly identified. But the CPC continues to make it an issue. Also our courts have continually overturned this law by the CPC but they continue to fight it so they can create media attention.
  2. Barbaric Practises Tip line is simply another tactic for devision. We are expected to call this special line created by the Conservative Government if we see a “barbaric practise” being perpetrated against women or others? This has been clearly linked to our nations Islamic community by the CPC as has the Niqab. But i wonder why we needed a special line when we have 911 and our countries excellent police forces. Here in London our police force take domestic abuse  and racial crimes seriously. We don’t need a special tip line that is focused on a specific part of our population.
  3. The removal of Citizenship from immigrants convicted of serious crime is in fact one of the most worst actions by the CPC government. They are creating a second class of citizenship for Canadians. if you’re an immigrant you no longer have the same protections under the Citizenship Act , unless this is challenged in court, or under the charter of rights and freedoms. if you come from another country you’re citizenship is worth less than an “old stock” Canadian. I have always believed that citizenship is citizenship and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship are equal to all who hold that status. If someone is convicted of , as the conservatives point out, terrorism as recently happened in Ontario then they should be tried in Canada, Judgement found in Canada, and sentence carried out In Canada. Our country is wise and strong enough to deal with anyone who wished to commit crime and the case is no different for these convicts. If an “old stock” Canadian committed the same crime then he or she would not be stripped of citizenship and deported. So the Conservative Party has created a second class of citizenship with a different set of rights than the first. Again it’s devise and racist.

So we take all of these and the PM’s use of the phrase “Old Stock Canadians” and what do we have. A clear campaign to create division and intolerance based on religious and ethnic differences. Now some on twitter have accused me of being a sensationalist, hypocrite, party hack. I don’t belong to a political party nor do I support one leader over the other at this point with the exception of Mr. Harper ,whom I don not support at all. Others have said this is all driven by the media. This is rubbish plan and simple. It was The PM who has continued to bring these issues out during the election campaign again and again. it is the CPC party who puts out mailings like this:

CPC PHOTO

So to blame the media is at best simplistic and at worst and clear act of deception. The CPC can only look to itself for the attention this continues to generate in this election because it is they who continually bring it up in interviews.

We have seen in newspaper articles in Ontario and Quebec a rise in attacks on Muslim women who are wearing Niqab’s . We have seen pominent Muslim Canadians say in interviews that there is a real fear in their communities. We have seen in London a clear racial hatred displayed against Muslim candidates. And the Prime Minister of this country has created the environment where these acts and this fear is fanned. To suggest that the Conservative Party is not to blame is either blind partisanship at any cost or is an unwillingness to confront the actions of their leaders. Either way it cannot be simply rationalized away as a few bad apples, complex issues, or media/partisanship bias. There is a clear pattern here and it is one of them vs. us with the CPC pointing to muslim immigrants as them. it is unrcontionable in our country in the 21st century.

Benjamin Franklin , The American President and slave owner, said “All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.” . We have now in our great country of Canada an approach and laws that have created fear, inequality and oppression. This must not stand or be rationalized but must be expunged for what it is.  A cynical calculation of fear and division.