Sunday, November 27, 2011

Attawapiskat needs your help.

Something unusual happened about three weeks ago.

Chief Theresa Spence took steps to declare a State of Emergency in the Attawapiskat reserve, a small community in Northern Ontario.

Did you see it in the news? Probably not, I certainly didn’t. No one really seemed to care until Charlie Angus, the NDP MP for the region wrote about it at the Huffington Post.

Attawapiskat is the home to the James Bay Cree, a home that is in crisis.

Currently there are families in this community living in tents and sheds without such basic necessities as running water, having to use plastic buckets for toilets and dumping them in a ditch behind their “homes”.

This is not a recent development but a problem that has been growing for years. These people live at a junction between three governments, the Ontario, federal and native governments and no one has stepped forward to address these issues.

The indifference to the plight of these people is a crime.

Imagine if you can, in a country such as Canada, the Red Cross having to step in to help because the governments have not. This is not a natural disaster where you expect the Red Cross to help but a disaster of indifference. A preventable disaster.

The saddest part in this is that Attawapiskat is not alone, there are other native communities in the North across Canada facing similar problems. Lack of housing, inadequate housing, people living without things that most in Canada take for granted such as clean drinking water at the turn of a tap. The children of Attawapiskat don’t even have a school any more. Theirs was closed 12 years ago because of toxic fumes from contaminated soil the school sat upon.

These same children embarked on a plan to try and shame the government into providing a school. Their message has made it all the way to the United Nations.

Because these people live on reserve, they are limited as to what they can do. Even if they can afford to build a house, they cannot have a mortgage because they live on a reserve. What these people really need is an end to the political indifference at all levels of government.

With winter rapidly approaching, these people are going to be living in crowded conditions in places that are heated with woodstoves and the like. The dangers of contagious disease or tragedies involving hot woodstoves and children or house fires are very real. These people need our help.

If you want to help during this time of need, you can reach the Canadian Red Cross here for ways to donate.

If you wish to contact Charlie Angus the Member of Parliament for this region to voice your support in his efforts to have this addressed, his email is .

Let us tell the people of Attawapiskat that people care and that people want better for the peoples of the North.

Maybe we can make something unusual happen too.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dan Albas and Bill C20

I was reading Dan Albas’ MP report for October, about some upcoming changes to our laws and this thought occurred to me...

Forrest Gump says “Stupid is as Stupid does”.

Dan Albas is the MP for Okanagan_Couihalla and the link is to his website.

He is a member of the Stephen Harper Party.

Dan says in his posting “I have heard from seniors in particular of the frustration from many previous Federal elections being all but over once the Ontario elections polls closed.”

Dan, apparently you are weak on math. Let me help you Dan.

Bill C20 does in fact propose to raise the number of seats in Alberta and British Columbia. They will get six more seats each, a total of 12 new seats west of Ontario.

Ontario will get 15 additional seats under the proposed legislation and Quebec gets 3 new seats. That is a total of 18. 18 is bigger than 12. So, if the issue is that the election is almost over when the polls close in Ontario now, does that mean the election will be over when the polls close in Ontario after the proposed legislation goes into effect?

Now your buddy, Tim Uppal announced this piece of work in Brampton, Ontario. Why? Because Brampton West is poorly represented win the House of Commons, at least Tim thinks so. I think that’s the constituency that has 170,442 people in it. Wow, isn’t that like 150% of your riding’s population?

Way back in 2004, that same riding had 113,638 residents. That number is in line with the other constituencies back then. This is why we have a Constitutional redistribution of seats every ten years, even without Bill C 20. The constituency of Brampton West was going to be redrawn by 2014.

Oddly enough, the next redistribution, based on the 2011 census would likely have seen Alberta and British Columbia gain more seats than Ontario. That should enthuse your Senior Citizen constituents to no end. I used projected population numbers for the calculations and found Ontario gaining 2 seats, British Columbia 1 and Alberta 3. Unfortunately I don’t have access to the Stats Can numbers before they are publicly released so my numbers may need to be adjusted.

6 more seats versus 30 more seats and now Ontario becomes the big winner.

Your riding and my riding are not likely to change under C 20 but the big cities and their surrounding areas are going to change.

Stats Canada shows that between 2001 and 2006, the Metropolitan areas grew at 6.9%, Urban areas grew at 4.0% and Rural areas at 1.0%. Basically, when your community or mine adds another 40 people, the Metropolitan areas are adding hundreds or thousands. Or in the case of Brampton, tens of thousands.

The biggest piece of nonsense is that the proposed change in representation is not even going to be based on the 2011 census, but on projections. This is important, so I will repeat, not based on the official count produced by Stats Can of the number of people living in your Community, or your Province or even your Country, but by a projection, an estimation of how many people they think there are.

Metropolitan areas are going to gain more seats in the House no matter what, the plan of your Party, the Stephen Harper Party, will accelerate this.

Think about this every time you say “Yea” or “Nay” in the House the way you are instructed by your leader. Your face time, your voice in the caucus, everything you do in the House is going to be reduced.

Just as policy for Ontario is dictated by Toronto, the policy for British Columbia will be dictated by Vancouver. The voice of the rural voter, the small town voter is going to be diminished.

But in today’s House of Commons that is a small loss. Your say means little, your constituents’ say means less. Your job is to vote the way you are told by your leaders, the same way every other member’s vote in the house is decided.

You see, federally, democracy ended on May 2nd at 7:00 pm Pacific Time. We will have another day of democracy in 2014, if Stephen follows his own rules.

In the run up to democracy day 2014, if the Senior Citizens in your constituency ask why the elections are all but over when the polls close in Ontario you can say “Because Stephen Harper wants it that way and I fully support him.”

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Why has the Occupy Movement not made Demands?

This is my response to a question that many are asking about the Occupy Movement and why they have not given a list of demands.

“Do you have suggestions for demands my friend? I'm not intending on being rude or argumentative but the fact is this protest is so vast that I seriously doubt they could give a list of 5 or 10 demands, or even 100 as did that Luther fellow.

The system is not working. It hasn't worked for some time now. The stock market fiascos we've been seeing had their seeds cast in the Reagan administration and before.

The corporation, originally a government licence to allow a group of investors to unite to take on projects too large for an individual now have grown so large that governments take their orders from them.

Government has left the common people. We have little or no voice other than the periodic casting of ballots. There used to be debate between the leaders and the local candidates about what they could do for the community and the country, now we get sound bites and smear.

In the U.S. they talk about who has the largest “War Fund” to win the Presidency, here we see a government trying to cripple the opposition by hamstringing them financially.

Policy is not important, Money wins elections.

Look to the South and you see perpetual gridlock in their government. The only thing they can agree on is that the other team is to blame. Up here we live under the rule of the 39% of the 60% who bothered to vote.

The time of our fathers is disappearing, the time of get an education and you’ll get a good job is history, find a job and work hard to get ahead is past.

More people are working past “retirement” age, they even changed the laws so they could! Not because they want to stay busy, they just can’t afford to retire.

Some are seeing a future where part time work will be the rule. Businesses will have a core of full time employees, as few as possible and will fill out their roster with part timers when demand increases. Think Walmart and Target stores and project that into the factories and offices.

When I was young, the 21st century was to be a grand time, no one would want for food or housing anywhere. 6 hour work days were going to be the norm and a 4 day work week so we would be able to spend more time with our families. It would be like Disneyland for the whole world.

I don’t know who did it, or how they did it and I’m certain the protesters don’t know either. The system is broken. The few live off the many and refuse to share.

I find it amazing that Lord Stephen and Boy Jim are “concerned” that the recovery is slowing but we should be ok when other parts of the world are seriously concerned that we could be on the cusp of a world wide depression. The rich needn’t worry, they generally survive depressions quite well, and many make gains during these periods. Some will lose their fortunes but they are usually not equipped to handle wealth anyway.

Since the 1970’s, most people have not seen any real increase in their income. Wages and buying power have stagnated. Only the wealthy have seen increases, and the gap keeps widening.

The Middle Class is dwindling. Originally made up of shop keepers and artisans and later by managers and higher paid labour, they are disappearing, especially the labourers. Good paying manufacturing jobs are going away, disappearing to the South and to the East or just disappearing altogether.

The Middle Class is the engine that drives the economy. The wealthy cannot do it, there are too few of them. The working poor can’t do it, they can’t afford to spend.

Governments look to the corporations to invest, but what should they invest in? The Risk/Reward ratio is too steep. There is no market for stuff, so we stop making stuff until the market gets better. When we layoff the people who make stuff the market drops even further. The first act was to move the making of stuff to low wage countries. We can make stuff cheaper and in turn sell it cheaper and still improve the profit line.

That worked for a while but now the people here can’t even afford the cheaper stuff made over there.

We used to make microchips and computers over here, as well as TVs and washers and fridges but we don’t anymore. Someone decided to make things “over there”. And it worked. All these things are at the lowest prices they have ever been. But they undermined their own markets. The people who made these things can no longer afford them.

The banks conned people in the U.S. into buying mortgages they could not afford. Well they could afford them unless the interest rates went up or the economy soured. Then the banks packaged these poorly thought out mortgages into derivatives and sold them all over the place and then interest rates moved up and the economy soured and these derivatives threatened to topple the banks.

If the banks failed there would likely have been a depression so the government threw money at the banks to save them. Government is so bent on this top down system that it never occurred to them to put them money anywhere else. They still believe tax breaks for the corporations will create jobs too.

Had the governments instead thrown lifelines to the people who were at risk of losing their homes, the crisis would likely have passed without the banks toppling. The economy would still be weak, but the governments would have been able to buy time to address the problems calmly.

And then we have Stephen Harper yelling to the world that they need to curtail government spending and pay down their debts and now many experts a warning this is precisely the wrong thing to do. All that this will do is remove money from the economy and give it to the banks who aren’t doing anything constructive with it anyways. We need to put money back into the economy intelligently.

We need to create a situation where people have money in their hands that they aren’t afraid to spend. Increased spending at the consumer level will get the corporations investing again and start the ball moving. Every recession that has passed has shown this. Every recession has been pushed back by the consumer. The consumers have run out of push. We need to get it back.

We need the government to represent the people, all of the people and be responsive to the people and their needs.

We need banks to get back to banking and to stop messing around in everything else. Banks should be in the business of providing loans to people in ways that they are able to repay them and to reward savers with interest again.

We need corporations to act responsibly and accept reasonable profits over maximizing profits and to build sustainable business models to the benefit of the people as well as the investors.

We need the system to change, but how to change it is a far more complex question than I dare ask.”

Now I’m certain that if you take this to the Occupiers some might agree and some would say I’ve missed it entirely.

The Occupiers are the vocal minority trying to represent a vast number of people and not all of those people want these Occupiers to represent them.

Look at the Occupiers, there are Students and Seniors, people with iPads and iPhones and the homeless, returning Vets and Anarchists, there are people representing all different facets of society and their polar opposites taking part.

About the only thing that they can agree on is the system doesn’t work and that they didn’t break it.

As for demands? I have no idea where they would start.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Stephen, they gave their lives for democracy, why do you try to take it away?

Again we are are we seeing the democratic side of the Stephen Harper Party?

After the Opposition member offered time for other members to say a few words on Remembrance Day, the Stephen Harper Party shot shut them down.

Because the Green Party and the Bloc Quebecois do not hold “official party” status in the House, the Harperists denied them the opportunity to stand and have their remarks entered into the record in the House of Commons.

Our Lord Stephen loves to wrap himself in the flag and drape himself with royalty, he boasts about our military and how wonderful he is towards them and how He brings Democracy to the world and yet when it comes to Democracy in Our House, he says no. The representatives of the people are not allowed to speak in Our House.

The people have no voice.

The members of the Canadian Wheat Board who voted to retain this institution are being ignored. The Harperists are intent on killing the CWB. It shall die.

Those farmers have no voice.

The Veterans Affairs Ombudsman was fired for speaking for His constituents. Now the Harperists have decided to cut funding to the Veterans Affairs department. Our veterans are challenging this but it will likely come to naught.

The veterans have no voice.

My MP is one of those Blue Flag waving Harperists, he blindly votes the way he is told in the Marionette Theatre.

I have no voice.

I recently spoke to a man who does not vote. He feels all politicians are the same and hold them in the same esteem held for lawyers. He accepts that if one does not vote one loses the right to complain, he knows he has no voice.

93 years ago this week the Armistice was signed, ending the Great War. This was to be the War the Ends All Wars. Sadly it wasn’t so.

November 11th was chosen long ago as the day we stop to remember those who gave their lives to stop oppression and to protect democracy in all the wars and peace keeping missions our Armed Forces have seen all over the world.

Pity we can’t protect it at home.