The Ranting Canadian
The Harper Cons have announced they are naming the new Finance Canada building after the worst finance minister in Canadian (and Ontario) history, “Deficit Jim” Flaherty.  To reflect Flaherty’s disastrous political record and mean-spirited personality, it will:

Be small and useless
Go billions of dollars over budget and have a huge mortgage
Be funded by money embezzled from veterans’ services, Employment Insurance, healthcare, scientific research, job training programs, environmental conservation, etc.
Be built by underpaid temporary foreign workers instead of Canadians
Be constructed and operated under unsafe conditions
Have a false front
Feature a gazebo, a fake lake and a barrel full of pork
Cause significant, long-lasting environmental damage
Be filled with overpaid, underworked upper-level managers instead of frontline workers
Be plastered on the outside with Conservative “Economic Action Plan” propaganda signs
Be decorated inside with fake-Irish kitsch made in China, as well as many portraits of Dear Leader Stephen Harper
Be inaccessible to average working-class Canadians
Have special entrances for private bankers and other corporate elites
Have an even more special, luxury VIP entrance for members of the Ford crime family
Have an extra-large parking area for limousines and oversized SUVs
Above the main entrance, feature a sign that says “Work Will Set You free”
Crumble under the weight of Stephen Harper’s iron fist
Cause the premature deaths of hundreds of Canadians
Eventually be sold to a foreign corporation for pennies on the dollar and rented back from the new owners at an insanely high cost, under a lease with terrible conditions.
Have its true costs hidden for years, and only revealed after the courts force the government to do so.

The Harper Cons have announced they are naming the new Finance Canada building after the worst finance minister in Canadian (and Ontario) history, “Deficit Jim” Flaherty.  To reflect Flaherty’s disastrous political record and mean-spirited personality, it will:

  1. Be small and useless
  2. Go billions of dollars over budget and have a huge mortgage
  3. Be funded by money embezzled from veterans’ services, Employment Insurance, healthcare, scientific research, job training programs, environmental conservation, etc.
  4. Be built by underpaid temporary foreign workers instead of Canadians
  5. Be constructed and operated under unsafe conditions
  6. Have a false front
  7. Feature a gazebo, a fake lake and a barrel full of pork
  8. Cause significant, long-lasting environmental damage
  9. Be filled with overpaid, underworked upper-level managers instead of frontline workers
  10. Be plastered on the outside with Conservative “Economic Action Plan” propaganda signs
  11. Be decorated inside with fake-Irish kitsch made in China, as well as many portraits of Dear Leader Stephen Harper
  12. Be inaccessible to average working-class Canadians
  13. Have special entrances for private bankers and other corporate elites
  14. Have an even more special, luxury VIP entrance for members of the Ford crime family
  15. Have an extra-large parking area for limousines and oversized SUVs
  16. Above the main entrance, feature a sign that says “Work Will Set You free
  17. Crumble under the weight of Stephen Harper’s iron fist
  18. Cause the premature deaths of hundreds of Canadians
  19. Eventually be sold to a foreign corporation for pennies on the dollar and rented back from the new owners at an insanely high cost, under a lease with terrible conditions.
  20. Have its true costs hidden for years, and only revealed after the courts force the government to do so.

No wonder Rob Ford is so screwed up. His mother is Dame Edna and his father was Nosh from the movie Eat the Rich (see photos above).

But seriously folks, you good people of the great city of Toronto, there’s something disturbing about Ford’s mother Diane. Don’t be too quick to fall for her crocodile tears and her claims of being shocked about the extent of Robbie-Bobbie’s addictions to drugs, alcohol and acting like an asshole. Drugs and crime are no stranger to the Ford household.

According to several reports, Dame Diane is the ringleader who strong-armed Rob into becoming a career politician. Perhaps she was the one who pushed her now-deceased husband into politics as well. The ruthlessly ambitious matriarch certainly didn’t want Robbie running the family business into the ground, and she knew he wasn’t qualified for any other profession or trade.

Now that Robbie and his associates have butchered her selfish plan of turning the Ford crime family into political royalty, she may be seeking retribution. The authorities and the media should keep a sharp eye on this potentially dangerous puppet-master.

Photo Gallery: May Day 2014 in Toronto

The theme of the 2014 Toronto May Day (International Workers Day)  event was Honour Communities: Fight Capitalism. The chilly evening rally started at Allan Gardens, transformed into a march west on Carlton/College, and concluded at Queen’s Park with a few more speeches.

Toronto’s May Day event didn’t get much media coverage, likely because it was overshadowed by two bigger local political stories:1) Toronto’s untrustworthy, unethical, incompetent, promise-breaking mayor Rob Ford having another public meltdown and then taking a leave of absence, and 2) the untrustworthy, unethical, incompetent, promise-breaking Ontario Liberals putting forward their new budget bill (which was rejected the next day, thus triggering a provincial election).

Toronto’s march was energetic but peaceful, unlike the event in Vancouver, where police officers vicously attacked a few individuals, seemingly for no legitimate reason. Videos of violent Vancouver arrests are linked here and here.

Some Canadian content for May Day (International Workers’ Day):

This video is a documentary about the Toronto folk music group The Travellers, who started out in 1953, mixing traditional folk songs, Canadian patriotism, communism and Jewish culture (sometimes singing in Yiddish). They were inspired by, and worked with, Pete Seeger. They are  best known for the Canadian version of “This Land is Your Land”.

The Travellers were deeply involved with a left-wing Jewish summer camp in Brampton called Camp Neivelt, which still exists. In their early days, The group performed at many benefit concerts for the labour movement and other related causes.

They had several line-up changes and eventually took a more mainstream commercial approach, even releasing two non-political children’s records and performing in a beer commercial. They eventually split, seemingly over artistic and political differences. Nevertheless, Jerry Gray, a founding member, performed with a group as “Jerry Gray and & Travellers” as recent as 2011.

For more information, see:

The Travellers in the Canadian Encyclopedia

Jerry Gray: A Historical Archive

"Something to Sing About" by The Travellers

"This Land is Your Land" by The Travellers

Short clips of songs from the album ”The Travellers: A Century of Song”

Due to the poor attendance at Rob Ford’s campaign kickoff party, his new theme song could be “Half Empty Halls” by The Evaporators.

By most accounts, the April 17, 2014 event was a flop, with low turnout, no “history in the making" moments (another Ford promise broken), none of the celebrity appearances that were anticipated, and a lackluster speech full of lies, clichés and vague pledges. According to some, Ford was even heckled a bunch of times.

TV footage showed a lot of people waiting in line to get Ford T-shirts and bobblehead dolls, but it seems that many of those people were not genuine supporters, and left soon after getting their memorabilia, perhaps to sell online.

View during Rob Ford's 2014 campaign kickoff speech.

The Ford campaign booked an enormous banquet hall; rented tables, chairs, tablecloths, sound equipment, etc.; shelled out for servers and other staff; hired a rock band and bagpipers; hung large printed banners; gave away free alcohol and snacks; handed out other freebies; and brought along an old fire truck as a prop (which brother Randy bought for $4,000 at an auction). There were probably many other expenses too.

Whenever I see these massive Ford crime family events, I wonder who the hell is paying for it all. What political financing laws are being broken? What business expenses and tax refunds are being claimed illegally? How much drug money is being laundered? I doubt the full costs will ever be revealed to the authorities and the public.

In the last Toronto election, more than one third of the [on-the-books] money donated to the Rob Ford mayoral campaign came from outside of Toronto, from people who could not vote in the Toronto election. Many of the people at his April 17 kickoff event do not live in Toronto either. In May, Ford’s first fundraising event for this campaign (a $300-a-plate gala for the rich elites he claims to hate) will be in Vaughan instead of Toronto. A few months ago, wackjob city councillor Giorgio Mammoliti (a Ford ally) held an illegal fundraising event in nearby Woodbridge, at which lobbyists and other sleazy operators paid $5,000 per table. This is the kind of backroom corruption that the Fords pretend to oppose, but fully embrace in practice.

Attendees of the Ford kickoff party who spoke to the media displayed low intelligence, pathetic gullibility and almost no sense of reality. They are lost causes who will never be swayed by facts, so the Olivia Chow campaign has to move past them and focus on getting her own supporters to vote in October, and on convincing swing voters to come on board.

Torontonians cannot be complacent. Although polls show Chow in the lead, when one takes into account the margin of error, there is essentially a three-way tie between Chow, Ford and John Tory (Ford-lite). The election is months away and everything is still up for grabs. A Ford or Tory victory would be another win for the rich corporate elites and their cronies. Chow is the only option.

"I can’t even get my friends to like me."
Mark this date: April 16, 2014. Disgraced Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper tells the truth for the first time in his political career, as he campaigns at the state funeral of former finance minister Jim Flaherty. The rest of Harper’s speech was full of lies and propaganda, as usual.
Harper should be more like Flaherty (in his current state).

"I can’t even get my friends to like me."

Mark this date: April 16, 2014. Disgraced Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper tells the truth for the first time in his political career, as he campaigns at the state funeral of former finance minister Jim Flaherty. The rest of Harper’s speech was full of lies and propaganda, as usual.

Harper should be more like Flaherty (in his current state).

Canadians will forever be indebted because of Jim Flaherty.
Regardless of what one thinks of the recently deceased man on a personal level, if one uses objective, non-emotional criteria, it is clear that he was probably the worst finance minister in Canadian history. Unfortunately for us, his replacement, Joe Oliver, will likely be much worse.  
Almost immediately after Flaherty’s death became public, the fawning political praise and sickening historical revisionism flooded in like oil from an Enbridge pipeline spill. Over-the-top accolades for the small callous man have been stomach-churning, and are an insult to his many victims. It is too easy for comfortable politicians and pundits to overlook the damage he has caused to so many lives. 
Crediting Flaherty for his supposed “steady hand on the tiller” during the recent recession (which still lingers today) is outrageous nonsense. The fact that Canada’s economy didn’t collapse as much as some of the other economies is in spite of Flaherty and the Conservatives, not because of them. The previous Liberal government left the Conservatives with a budget surplus, a somewhat-regulated banking sector, and certain protections for other economic sectors. 
Before the worldwide financial meltdown hit, the Conservatives had been screaming for years to deregulate the financial sector and other key sectors. If they had gotten their way back then, the recent economic collapse in Canada would be much worse. With all the reckless and treasonous economic policies that Flaherty has helped bring in during his federal tenure, Canada will be hit much harder in the next big downturn.  B-b-b-baby, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Applauding Flaherty for gradually reining in his annual federal deficits and reversing some of his other misguided fiscal policies is like treating a child as a hero for slowly, yet only partially, cleaning up a mess he created in the first place! 
Flaherty’s financial mismanagement started well before the 2008 recession hit. Then, when it became obvious to most that Canada was going into recession, Flaherty he kept insisting that the country would be magically spared, until he had no choice but to admit the truth (without admitting he had been wrong). A man with integrity would have resigned after being caught in lies so big. Later, Flaherty kept bragging that he would stay on as federal finance minister until he got the annual federal budget balanced again. Another Conservative promise broken.
Praising Flaherty for his years of “public service” is horseshit. He wasn’t an unpaid intern, minimum wage worker or a frontline soldier. The Canadian taxpayers paid him very well, and gave him a lifestyle of comfort and luxury beyond the wildest dreams of most working-class Canadians. No wonder he seemed happy-go-lucky much of the time. He got his. Flaherty had no loyalty to Canadians; he served his political party and the multinational corporations, not the general public. 
As for the boldly dishonest Globe and Mail headline claiming that Flaherty “always fought for the little guy”, you have to be fucking kidding me! Flaherty was an enemy in the class war. He was a traitor to his family’s humble roots. He showed no sympathy for those who were down on their luck and couldn’t catch a break. Instead of helping the little guy up, he kicked that guy while he was down, spit in his face and added verbal insults to those injuries. Flaherty was no friend of the poor and disadvantaged. They were beneath him.
Here are some of the lowlights in Flaherty’s horrible political career:


● As the finance minister in Ontario’s Mike Harris government, he severely cut social assistance, housing, healthcare, education, water testing and other valuable programs, leading to increased homelessness, poverty, hopelessness, medical suffering and deaths.
● Also as the Ontario finance minister, Flaherty played a key role in rushing through the 99-year lease of Highway 407 (built with tax dollars) to a sleazy and/or incompetent Spanish corporation that has ripped off drivers, either by mistake or by design. That foreign corporation got an extremely generous deal and Ontarians got the shaft. Flaherty used that deal and other shady backroom sales of public assets to make his financial books look good. Short-term gain for long-term pain.
● Near the end of his provincial career – by then the Minister of Enterprise, Opportunity and Innovation – Flaherty was complicit in the Progressive Conservatives’ fraudulent claim that they had of an annual budget surplus, which the incoming Ontario Liberal government later confirmed to be a $5.6 billion deficit. In a just world, there would have been criminal convictions.
● In his early days of being the federal finance minister, Flaherty irrationally and viciously declared to the world that businesses should not invest in Ontario. His treasonous dig was petty-minded revenge against Ontarians for voting Liberal in the 2003 provincial election.
● Flaherty financially screwed over retirees by suddenly taxing income trusts after explicitly promising not to.
● He and the Conservatives massively increased the federal debt, which one source says is almost $620 billion and another source says is almost $680 billion (as of April 12, 2014). That is up from $481.5 billion in 2006, when Stephen Harper’s Conservatives took over from the Paul Martin Liberals. That means approximately 22 to 29 per cent of Canada’s federal debt was racked up under Flaherty’s watch. That’s right; between 20 and 30 per cent of Canada’s entire federal debt, spanning almost 150 years of government, was racked up in just eight years. The federal debt would be even bigger if the federal government had not downloaded many of its financial liabilities to the lower levels of government. Note that the federal Liberals were guilty of downloading too, but the Harper Conservatives never reversed that.
● Flaherty implemented a “starve the beast” strategy: 
1)Waste money on non-priorities such as pork-barrel projects, irresponsible tax cuts, luxuries for his fellow politicians, the useless G20 and G8 conferences, the aggressive occupation of Afghanistan,  expensive political propaganda, and no-strings-attached subsidies for big corporations (especially tarsands corporations). 
2) Claim that we can no longer afford the services and regulations that Canadians depend on. 
3) Slash those cherished services and regulations under the guise of balancing the budget. 
4) Repeat.
● He enacted policies that resulted in increased unemployment and underemployment (especially for younger Canadians), lower wage rates, less stability, reduced benefits, shrunk pensions,  intensified economic inequality and the race to the bottom.
● Flaherty increased payroll taxes, which disproportionately hurts people who acquire most of their income by working for wages, instead of living off investments.
● He and his Conservative colleagues actively contributed to the preventable crisis of jobs being sent out of the country while submissive “temporary” foreign workers are imported to  replace qualified Canadian workers. This is a recipe for disaster.
● Flaherty enabled wealthy insiders to evade taxes and refused to give Canada Revenue Agency the resources needed to crack down on major tax cheats.
● He pushed the HST (Harper Sales Tax) onto Ontario and British Columbia (with the cooperation of their provincial governments). In Ontario, the provincial Liberals and federal Conservatives promised that the HST – which added sales tax to many basic goods and services that were tax-free before – would create thousands of jobs and cause businesses to lower their prices. Neither has happened.
● Flaherty allowed Harper to transform federal budget bills into gigantic omnibus bills with more non-budget items than actual budget items. Their size (hundreds of pages) and purpose (to sneak through extreme changes without proper examination or debate) have been unprecedented in Canada. 
● He added to the problem of the overheated Canadian housing market, which has led to insanely high prices for houses and condos, especially in major urban areas. This has mostly benefitted the banksters and those who work in the real estate industry, at the expense of everyone else. 
● He used his influence and connections to help the Ford crime family get elected to Toronto city council, and he hurled insults at those who dared criticize Rob the crackhead mayor.

 
This is the stuff of his legacy. Oh, but he smiled a lot and he was friendly to opposition politicians.
One could argue that Flaherty wasn’t all to blame, and that he was merely a puppet of Harris, Harper and their corporate masters. That theory does not make Flaherty look any better. It makes him look spineless, opportunistic and selfish. Blaming his failed federal record on the global recession is also a cop-out, an excuse that his fellow Cons would never accept if it came from another political party 
Politics isn’t an abstract game or a debating club. This is real life, and real people have been harmed (and continue to be harmed) by Flaherty’s actions and inactions. People have actually died because of his punitive policies. Canada is worse off because of what Flaherty did in office, and the nation may never recover, even if the NDP or Liberals win the next election.
I understand it’s an emotional time for some and it’s hard to not empathize with Flaherty’s family and friends, but please show at least a minimum level of human decency and think about his victims. Grieve the fact that Flaherty spent his adult life on the wrong side of righteousness and he lost his opportunity to right his wrongs. Above all else, please restrain the urge to re-write history. The lies and distortions are too much to bear, so spare us.

Canadians will forever be indebted because of Jim Flaherty.

Regardless of what one thinks of the recently deceased man on a personal level, if one uses objective, non-emotional criteria, it is clear that he was probably the worst finance minister in Canadian history. Unfortunately for us, his replacement, Joe Oliver, will likely be much worse. 

Almost immediately after Flaherty’s death became public, the fawning political praise and sickening historical revisionism flooded in like oil from an Enbridge pipeline spill. Over-the-top accolades for the small callous man have been stomach-churning, and are an insult to his many victims. It is too easy for comfortable politicians and pundits to overlook the damage he has caused to so many lives.

Crediting Flaherty for his supposed “steady hand on the tiller” during the recent recession (which still lingers today) is outrageous nonsense. The fact that Canada’s economy didn’t collapse as much as some of the other economies is in spite of Flaherty and the Conservatives, not because of them. The previous Liberal government left the Conservatives with a budget surplus, a somewhat-regulated banking sector, and certain protections for other economic sectors.

Before the worldwide financial meltdown hit, the Conservatives had been screaming for years to deregulate the financial sector and other key sectors. If they had gotten their way back then, the recent economic collapse in Canada would be much worse. With all the reckless and treasonous economic policies that Flaherty has helped bring in during his federal tenure, Canada will be hit much harder in the next big downturn.  B-b-b-baby, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Applauding Flaherty for gradually reining in his annual federal deficits and reversing some of his other misguided fiscal policies is like treating a child as a hero for slowly, yet only partially, cleaning up a mess he created in the first place!

Flaherty’s financial mismanagement started well before the 2008 recession hit. Then, when it became obvious to most that Canada was going into recession, Flaherty he kept insisting that the country would be magically spared, until he had no choice but to admit the truth (without admitting he had been wrong). A man with integrity would have resigned after being caught in lies so big. Later, Flaherty kept bragging that he would stay on as federal finance minister until he got the annual federal budget balanced again. Another Conservative promise broken.

Praising Flaherty for his years of “public service” is horseshit. He wasn’t an unpaid intern, minimum wage worker or a frontline soldier. The Canadian taxpayers paid him very well, and gave him a lifestyle of comfort and luxury beyond the wildest dreams of most working-class Canadians. No wonder he seemed happy-go-lucky much of the time. He got his. Flaherty had no loyalty to Canadians; he served his political party and the multinational corporations, not the general public.

As for the boldly dishonest Globe and Mail headline claiming that Flaherty “always fought for the little guy”, you have to be fucking kidding me! Flaherty was an enemy in the class war. He was a traitor to his family’s humble roots. He showed no sympathy for those who were down on their luck and couldn’t catch a break. Instead of helping the little guy up, he kicked that guy while he was down, spit in his face and added verbal insults to those injuries. Flaherty was no friend of the poor and disadvantaged. They were beneath him.

Here are some of the lowlights in Flaherty’s horrible political career:

● As the finance minister in Ontario’s Mike Harris government, he severely cut social assistance, housing, healthcare, education, water testing and other valuable programs, leading to increased homelessness, poverty, hopelessness, medical suffering and deaths.

● Also as the Ontario finance minister, Flaherty played a key role in rushing through the 99-year lease of Highway 407 (built with tax dollars) to a sleazy and/or incompetent Spanish corporation that has ripped off drivers, either by mistake or by design. That foreign corporation got an extremely generous deal and Ontarians got the shaft. Flaherty used that deal and other shady backroom sales of public assets to make his financial books look good. Short-term gain for long-term pain.

● Near the end of his provincial career – by then the Minister of Enterprise, Opportunity and Innovation – Flaherty was complicit in the Progressive Conservatives’ fraudulent claim that they had of an annual budget surplus, which the incoming Ontario Liberal government later confirmed to be a $5.6 billion deficit. In a just world, there would have been criminal convictions.

● In his early days of being the federal finance minister, Flaherty irrationally and viciously declared to the world that businesses should not invest in Ontario. His treasonous dig was petty-minded revenge against Ontarians for voting Liberal in the 2003 provincial election.

● Flaherty financially screwed over retirees by suddenly taxing income trusts after explicitly promising not to.

● He and the Conservatives massively increased the federal debt, which one source says is almost $620 billion and another source says is almost $680 billion (as of April 12, 2014). That is up from $481.5 billion in 2006, when Stephen Harper’s Conservatives took over from the Paul Martin Liberals. That means approximately 22 to 29 per cent of Canada’s federal debt was racked up under Flaherty’s watch. That’s right; between 20 and 30 per cent of Canada’s entire federal debt, spanning almost 150 years of government, was racked up in just eight years. The federal debt would be even bigger if the federal government had not downloaded many of its financial liabilities to the lower levels of government. Note that the federal Liberals were guilty of downloading too, but the Harper Conservatives never reversed that.

● Flaherty implemented a “starve the beast” strategy:

1)Waste money on non-priorities such as pork-barrel projects, irresponsible tax cuts, luxuries for his fellow politicians, the useless G20 and G8 conferences, the aggressive occupation of Afghanistan,  expensive political propaganda, and no-strings-attached subsidies for big corporations (especially tarsands corporations).

2) Claim that we can no longer afford the services and regulations that Canadians depend on.

3) Slash those cherished services and regulations under the guise of balancing the budget.

4) Repeat.

● He enacted policies that resulted in increased unemployment and underemployment (especially for younger Canadians), lower wage rates, less stability, reduced benefits, shrunk pensions,  intensified economic inequality and the race to the bottom.

● Flaherty increased payroll taxes, which disproportionately hurts people who acquire most of their income by working for wages, instead of living off investments.

● He and his Conservative colleagues actively contributed to the preventable crisis of jobs being sent out of the country while submissive “temporary” foreign workers are imported to  replace qualified Canadian workers. This is a recipe for disaster.

● Flaherty enabled wealthy insiders to evade taxes and refused to give Canada Revenue Agency the resources needed to crack down on major tax cheats.

● He pushed the HST (Harper Sales Tax) onto Ontario and British Columbia (with the cooperation of their provincial governments). In Ontario, the provincial Liberals and federal Conservatives promised that the HST – which added sales tax to many basic goods and services that were tax-free before – would create thousands of jobs and cause businesses to lower their prices. Neither has happened.

● Flaherty allowed Harper to transform federal budget bills into gigantic omnibus bills with more non-budget items than actual budget items. Their size (hundreds of pages) and purpose (to sneak through extreme changes without proper examination or debate) have been unprecedented in Canada.

He added to the problem of the overheated Canadian housing market, which has led to insanely high prices for houses and condos, especially in major urban areas. This has mostly benefitted the banksters and those who work in the real estate industry, at the expense of everyone else.

● He used his influence and connections to help the Ford crime family get elected to Toronto city council, and he hurled insults at those who dared criticize Rob the crackhead mayor.

 

This is the stuff of his legacy. Oh, but he smiled a lot and he was friendly to opposition politicians.

One could argue that Flaherty wasn’t all to blame, and that he was merely a puppet of Harris, Harper and their corporate masters. That theory does not make Flaherty look any better. It makes him look spineless, opportunistic and selfish. Blaming his failed federal record on the global recession is also a cop-out, an excuse that his fellow Cons would never accept if it came from another political party

Politics isn’t an abstract game or a debating club. This is real life, and real people have been harmed (and continue to be harmed) by Flaherty’s actions and inactions. People have actually died because of his punitive policies. Canada is worse off because of what Flaherty did in office, and the nation may never recover, even if the NDP or Liberals win the next election.

I understand it’s an emotional time for some and it’s hard to not empathize with Flaherty’s family and friends, but please show at least a minimum level of human decency and think about his victims. Grieve the fact that Flaherty spent his adult life on the wrong side of righteousness and he lost his opportunity to right his wrongs. Above all else, please restrain the urge to re-write history. The lies and distortions are too much to bear, so spare us.

March 12, 2014 was the day that the Canadian government officially ended its 12-year occupation of Afghanistan. What a pointless waste of lives, money and resources for a so-called “mission” that was never clearly defined and kept changing whenever the previous excuses stopped fooling the public.

Hopefully the Canadian military does actually get out of that country instead of doing what the Americans usually do when they invade countries across the globe: set up permanent bases and never leave.

Based on the evidence, the Jean Chretien Liberals committed our troops to this directionless, bloody escapade as a way to appease the American military-industrial complex, which was pressuring them to send our troops to kill and die in the unjustified and illegal attack on Iraq. Part of that pressure included the threat that Canadian companies would be shut out of the bidding processes for post-war infrastructure rebuilding and natural resource extracting contracts.

Canada’s current prime minister, Stephen Harper, who was in the opposition at that time, was majorly pissed off that the Liberals didn’t order our military to commit war crimes in Iraq. He seethed with rage that Canadians weren’t participating in that slaughter. It turned out, however, that the Chretien government covertly sent Canadian troops to Iraq anyway.

After the Harper Conservatives took over the federal government in 2006, they stepped up the aggression in Afghanistan, leading to a massive increase in the deaths and injuries of Canadian troops, as well as Afghani civilians. Each time a Canadian soldier died or became wounded, Harper saw that as proof that Canada was contributing to the some sort of cause.

Now, after all those years, all those deaths, all those injuries, all those post-traumatic stress disorder cases, all those suicides, all those drug addictions, all those shattered families, what do we have to show for it? Not fucking much. What a disgusting, horrible shame.

——————————————————————————————————-

The song in the above link is “Afghanistan” by Jimmy Cliff. It’s a reworking of his decades-earlier song “Vietnam”.

There has been a lot of talk in the Canadian mainstream media and from the mainstream Canadian political parties about the middle class, but almost no discussion of the working class. Even the (slightly) left-of-centre New Democratic Party (NDP) keeps using the buzzwords “middle-class families” instead of “workers” or “working-class people”.
I understand they do it because the PR consultants told them it would help them attract potential swing voters, who are irrationally scared off by honourable but misunderstood terms like “socialism”, “labour movement” and “leftist”, but it’s still disappointing. It drives me nuts when Conservatives and Liberals spread the lie that the NDP is “far left”, “radical” or “socialist”. The centrist NDP only looks left-wing compared to the right-of-centre, pro-corporate, pro-globalization Liberal Party and the quasi-fascist, pro-corporate, pro-globalization Conservative Party.
Most Canadians consider themselves middle class even if they are not. Working-class people want to fool themselves into thinking their socioeconomic situation is better than it actually is, and upper-class people want to fool everyone else into thinking the wealthy are just like everyone else, working hard to pay the bills.
Many Canadians in similar financial situations as my peers consider themselves middle class, even though their annual incomes are tens of thousands of dollars lower than the incomes of the real middle class. When the media interviews typical middle class Canadians, those individuals admit to making a lot more money than many of us ever will, but they grumble that they feel like they are “just getting by” due to mortgages, kids, car payments, etc. Am I supposed to feel sympathy for them? Compared to many of my contemporaries, those people are rich and privileged.
We were promised for years that eventually we would get our piece of the pie once the older workers retired. Instead, the older workers stayed on longer than expected, sometimes going back to work while collecting pensions, and then – in many cases – once those workers retired, the jobs were either outsourced, turned into short-term contracts with no benefits, or eliminated altogether.
I’d rather become a champagne socialist than remain a cheap-wine commie for the rest of my life. There is no glory in being underpaid, overstressed  and non-unionized. If I somehow eventually land one of those elusive high-paying middle-class jobs, I certainly wouldn’t fritter away my increased income on a big house, new cars, expensive entertainment or on raising children – thus falling back into the trap of “just getting by”. Wealth is wasted on the wealthy.
It raises the question, how do these people get their high-paying middle class jobs in the first place? I don’t mean the lawyerin’, doctorin’ or engineerin’ jobs and such. Obviously, careers like that require specific academic credentials and personality types. In today’s Canada, many such professions are difficult to break into even with the proper qualifications, due to the high applicant-to-job ratio and the extreme cost of starting up one’s own practice. I’m talking about the jobs that only require a well-rounded education, intelligence, flexibility and a good work ethic.
There are a lot of Canadians in those types of jobs, so obviously they had to find them somewhere. Those jobs aren’t often posted online or in the newspaper classified ads, so where do people find them? Career counsellors love telling people to “network, network, network,” but that only works if the people you network with have something to offer. Randomly contacting strangers in high places, hoping for favours, has about as much of a success rate as buying a lottery ticket or breaking into show business. Sometimes cold-calling potential employers or mentors can backfire. Keep in mind that “move to Alberta” is not, and cannot be, the one-size-fits-all solution for the whole country. The Harper-Conservative Economic Action Plan has been a complete fraud and scam.
————————————————————————————————
Above image found at http://www.facebook.com/boycottsunnewsnetwork

There has been a lot of talk in the Canadian mainstream media and from the mainstream Canadian political parties about the middle class, but almost no discussion of the working class. Even the (slightly) left-of-centre New Democratic Party (NDP) keeps using the buzzwords “middle-class families” instead of “workers” or “working-class people”.

I understand they do it because the PR consultants told them it would help them attract potential swing voters, who are irrationally scared off by honourable but misunderstood terms like “socialism”, “labour movement” and “leftist”, but it’s still disappointing. It drives me nuts when Conservatives and Liberals spread the lie that the NDP is “far left”, “radical” or “socialist”. The centrist NDP only looks left-wing compared to the right-of-centre, pro-corporate, pro-globalization Liberal Party and the quasi-fascist, pro-corporate, pro-globalization Conservative Party.

Most Canadians consider themselves middle class even if they are not. Working-class people want to fool themselves into thinking their socioeconomic situation is better than it actually is, and upper-class people want to fool everyone else into thinking the wealthy are just like everyone else, working hard to pay the bills.

Many Canadians in similar financial situations as my peers consider themselves middle class, even though their annual incomes are tens of thousands of dollars lower than the incomes of the real middle class. When the media interviews typical middle class Canadians, those individuals admit to making a lot more money than many of us ever will, but they grumble that they feel like they are “just getting by” due to mortgages, kids, car payments, etc. Am I supposed to feel sympathy for them? Compared to many of my contemporaries, those people are rich and privileged.

We were promised for years that eventually we would get our piece of the pie once the older workers retired. Instead, the older workers stayed on longer than expected, sometimes going back to work while collecting pensions, and then – in many cases – once those workers retired, the jobs were either outsourced, turned into short-term contracts with no benefits, or eliminated altogether.

I’d rather become a champagne socialist than remain a cheap-wine commie for the rest of my life. There is no glory in being underpaid, overstressed  and non-unionized. If I somehow eventually land one of those elusive high-paying middle-class jobs, I certainly wouldn’t fritter away my increased income on a big house, new cars, expensive entertainment or on raising children – thus falling back into the trap of “just getting by”. Wealth is wasted on the wealthy.

It raises the question, how do these people get their high-paying middle class jobs in the first place? I don’t mean the lawyerin’, doctorin’ or engineerin’ jobs and such. Obviously, careers like that require specific academic credentials and personality types. In today’s Canada, many such professions are difficult to break into even with the proper qualifications, due to the high applicant-to-job ratio and the extreme cost of starting up one’s own practice. I’m talking about the jobs that only require a well-rounded education, intelligence, flexibility and a good work ethic.

There are a lot of Canadians in those types of jobs, so obviously they had to find them somewhere. Those jobs aren’t often posted online or in the newspaper classified ads, so where do people find them? Career counsellors love telling people to “network, network, network,” but that only works if the people you network with have something to offer. Randomly contacting strangers in high places, hoping for favours, has about as much of a success rate as buying a lottery ticket or breaking into show business. Sometimes cold-calling potential employers or mentors can backfire. Keep in mind that “move to Alberta” is not, and cannot be, the one-size-fits-all solution for the whole country. The Harper-Conservative Economic Action Plan has been a complete fraud and scam.

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Above image found at http://www.facebook.com/boycottsunnewsnetwork

Harper-&-Rogues Gallery - Part 3

Recent news that the drummer in Stephen Harper’s terrible cover band was charged with sex crimes re-emphasizes the fact that Harper loves to surround himself with sleazebags, crooks and various ne’er-do-wells. That’s because he is one of them. Here is part three of a gallery of photos of Harper with undesirables. From top to bottom, Harper is with:

1.  Brian Mulroney, the second-worst prime minister of Canada (obviously, as you know, Harper is clearly the worst). In addition to being an corrupt, bribe-taking, patronage-appointing, tax-abusing liar, Mulroney kick-started the destruction of the Canadian economy by embracing “trickle-down” economics and signing the treasonous, job-killing, wage-lowering, sovereignty-smashing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  Near the end of his second term, Mulroney was hated so much that he resigned early and his party, the Progressive Conservatives, only won two seats in the next election.

2. Silvio Berlusconi, the disgraced former prime minister of Italy. In addition to being a bigoted, fascist-influenced, thoroughly corrupt politician who was convicted of white collar crimes, he was a sleazy misogynist who was charged for hiring underage prostitutes and was found guilty of paying one 17-year-old for sex. He also owned a large part of the Italian media and had alleged ties to the Mafia.

3. Vic Toews, former Conservative cabinet minister who resigned in disgrace. His main legacy is trying to force through legislation that would allow the authorities to spy on people’s Internet activities without a warrant or just cause. He insulted freedom-loving Canadians by sneering that they could “either stand with us or with the child pornographers” before later admitting that he hadn’t even read the dictatorship-style bill. Opposing gay rights and portraying himself as a religious “family values” social conservative, Toews divorced his wife after cheating on her, including with their teenage babysitter (who he got pregnant). Apparently, he also fell behind on his court-ordered child support payments.

4. Pam Wallin, suspended Harper-appointed senator who fraudulently abused senate expense money for personal and partisan reasons, falsely claimed residence in a province she doesn’t live in, then tried to cover it all up.

5. Bev Oda, former Conservative MP who resigned in disgrace. She misused tax money for personal reasons, such as limo rides and luxury hotel stays.  She also fraudulently altered an official government document. She resigned early.

6. Rob Anders, bigoted right-wing extremist Conservative MP who fell asleep while meeting with veterans and hurled insults at them when he woke up. He also called Nelson Mandela a communist terrorist, used tax money to mail out anti-gay propaganda, and called a proposed transgender human rights law the “bathroom bill” .

7. Arthur Porter, white collar criminal who Harper appointed to be chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, which is supposed to be watchdog of Canada’s spy agencies, but acts as a lapdog. He is hiding out in Panama and fighting extradition to Canada, where he faces charges of fraud, conspiracy to commit government fraud, abuse of trust, secret commissions and laundering the proceeds of a crime.

8. Mike Harris, disgraced former Ontario premier.  The silver-spoon elite and failed teacher became the Progressive [sic] Conservative Premier and enacted cruel, irresponsible policies that resulted in much suffering, including deaths. He was so despised near the end of his second term that he resigned early. His party lost the next Ontario election, and has not won again.

9.  Henry Kissinger, American war criminal.

10. Margaret Thatcher, disgraced former prime minister of the United Kingdom. Her elitist, trickle-down, pro-corporate, pro-rich, anti-worker policies led to the destruction of the UK economy and threw millions of working class people onto the scrapheap.

Some of the people who should have been included didn’t have photos with Harper online. Others had to be left out due to space and time restrictions. Technically, every Conservative MP could be included, because not one of them is an ethical or decent human being, including those who put up phony fronts for the adoring media. Everyone who remains a member of the Harper regime has abandoned any pretense of owning a moral compass, and has traded integrity for money and privilege.

Click here for part one.

Click here for part two.