Canadiana

April 23rd, 2009

The world wide web is a big place, full of lots of information about people, places and things but many people still don’t know a lot about Canada. So I thought that I would list and provide some links to some of the interesting people and events in Canada’s history and present. Enjoy.

Musicians / Bands:
Leonard Cohen, Michael Buble, Alexisonfire, The Dears, Jacksoul, Jully Black, Barenaked Ladies, K-OS, Sam Roberts, Nickleback, Nelly Furtado, Diane Krall, Oscar Peterson, Celine Dion, Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir, Avril Levine, Billy Talent, Nathaniel Dett Choir, April Wine,
Guess Who, Bryan Adams, Anne Murray, Simple Plan, Buffy Saint Marie, Luc Plamondon, Alanis Morrisette, Mario Pelchat, Oliver Jones, Paul Anka, Glenn Gould

Performers / Directors / Producers
/ Painters:
William Shatner, Christopher Plumber, Donald Sutherland, Keifer Sutherland, Jay Baruchel, Ellen Page, Gordon Pinset, Sarah Polly, Sandra Oh, Trey Anthony, Ngozi Paul, Jim Carrey, Brent Butt, Atom Egoyan, Norman Jewison, Lorne Michaels, Wayne & Shuster, Al Waxman, Dan Aykroyd, Brent Butt, Mike Myers, Nia Vardalos, La La Human Steps, Robert Bateman, Alex Coleville, Group of Seven

Companies:
Bombardier, McCain Foods, Power Corporation, Hudson’s Bay, Canadian Pacific Railway, Bank of Montreal, Simons, Eaton’s, Molson Brewing, Seagram Company Ltd, Tim Horton’s, Research In Motion (RIM), AECL (CANDU reactors)

Media / Newspapers:
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation – (CBC), CanWest, Montreal Gazette, Globe and Mail, Le Devoir, National Post, Vancouver Sun, Ottawa Citizen, National Film Board – (NFB), TV show – This Hour Has Seven Days, Alliance Films, CTV, Cinar, Muse Entertainment

Writers:
Pierre Burton, Margaret Atwood, Farely Mowat, Douglas Coupland, M. G. Vassanji, Robin W. Winks, Marshall McLuhan, Peter C. Newman, Mel Hurtig

Politicians:
John A MacDonald, George Etienne Cartier, Wilfred Laurier, Pierre Trudeau, Lester B. Person, Louis St. Laurent, John Diefenbaker, Robert Borden, Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien, Jeanne Sauve, Jean Drapeau, Claude Ryan, Agnes MacPhail, Maurice Duplessis, Ralph Klein, Rene Levesque, Robert Bourassa, Tommy Douglas, Charles Tupper, Louis Riel, Lucien Bouchard, Mel Lastman, Brian Tobin, Ed Broadbent, Sheila Copps, Preston Manning, Hedy Fry, Louis-Joseph Papineau, Robert Baldwin, Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine

Personalities / Athletes:
Laura Secord, Roberta Bondar, Jean de Brefeuf, Huron, Private Leo Major, Romeo A. Dallaire, Donovan Bailey, Mark Tewksbury, Don Cherry, Guy Lafleur, Marie-Joseph Angelique, Rick Mercer, Adrianne Clarkson, Terry Fox, Dr. Henry Morgantaler, Dr. Norman Bethune, Samuel de Champlain, RCMP, Gordie Howe, Maurice Richard, Bobby Orr, Darryl Sittler, Chantal Petitclaire, Jacques Plante, Bob Gainey, Rick Hansen, Steve Nash, Ken Dyrden, Wayne Gretzky, Israel Asper, June Callwood, David Suzuki, Michaelle Jean, Jean Beliveau, Ed Mirvish, Edgar Bronfman, Valerie Pringle, Bruno Gerussi, Toller Cranston, Crazy Canucks (Alpine skiers), Patrick Watson, Barbara Frum, Ted Rogers, John Cabot, Jacques Cartier, Sieur de Maisoneuve Paul de Chomedey

Events / History / Canadiana:
The Quiet Revolution, Bill 101, 1970 October Crisis, Oka Crisis, 1837 Rebellion, Canada Arm, Canada-Russia ’72, 1867 Confederation, 1759 Plains of Abraham, Death of Dudley George, Underground Railroad, Expo 67, 1976 & 1988 Olympics, Quebec Referendums 1980 & 1995, Queen Charlotte Islands, Quebec Act 1774, Responsible Government, Chinese Head Tax, Slavery in Canada, Women’s Suffrage Movement

Organic wine

March 28th, 2009

I recently had some organic wine. It was from Spain and the name of the wine was Senorio De Elda. I was impressed with the lightness of the wine. In fact, it was almost like drinking juice. If I can consume less pesticides and other weird things in my food and beverages, I am ok with that.

I enjoyed the wine so much that I am going to look for more and other brands. Senorio De Elda was light and fruity with almost no aftertaste. I am curious if the heavier wines are going to be as light in terms of fruitiness while retaining a full-bodied texture and flavour. Can’t wait to find out.

I eat a lot of organic food – breakfast organic oatmeal, organic fruit, organic bread (kamut or quinoa). Organic veggies carrots, spinach, broccoli and tofu! Also organic rice and noddles. Yes, it is more expensive but I really do notice a difference in taste, how my body digests the food and how I feel after I eat (i.e. better, more energy!).

I find organic food lighter but naturally more flavourful, so I am ok with paying the premium. I would rather spend the money on healthy food than bad food (hot dogs, red meat, lots of bad bread, soda pop). The only non-organic food products I purchase are fish and chicken.

The journey continues. This spring and summer will be very pivotal. I am looking forward to the challenge and the work I will have to put in to get what I want. Stay tuned.

Bye Bye 2008

January 15th, 2009

Well, it has been a strange start to the new year. The bitter cold, war in Gaza and the fallout from the mean spirited attack on people by Radio-Canada, the French language division of Canada’s national broadcaster, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation aka CBC. This is what happened:

Two popular entertainers in Quebec (the 2nd largest province in Canada) Veronique Cloutier and Louis Morrisette co-produced the annual satirical TV show “Bye Bye” from Montreal (the 2nd largest city in Canada) on December 31st, 2008. The two producers are a couple and have been married for a few years. They performed in the skits and Mr. Morrisette co-wrote the show.

The show Bye Bye 2008, was seen by approximately 4.1 million people and was also filmed before a live audience. Several of the skits were of very poor taste and included the mocking of a popular former Quebec child star Nathalie Simard who was sexually abused by Cloutier’s father who was also her agent at the time. He was convicted many years later, after Ms. Simard courageously spoke out against her abuser and he spent some time in prison.

The show also descended into a vulgar attack on Obama and black people. The comments included referring to Obama as a N—er, (the word used was n?gre which is a literal translation of the word Negro but in French has the same hateful connotation as n—er, and it is common knowledge in Quebec that to address a black person as n?gre is the same as using the word n—er in English), a comment about shooting him, comments about his penis size and reassuring people at home that he would not steal their purses because he was on TV, then stating that he might steal their televisions.

This was the best that Radio-Canada had to offer the world on Dec. 31, 2008? These were their best ideas, the ideas that made it through the discussions that TV writers have when they put a show together?

Fortunately many Canadians were disgusted by these rude and hateful comments and sent complaints to the CBC as well as the regulatory board, the CRTC. Initially, the producers and the CBC said they had done nothing wrong but after a week of complaints, Veronique Cloutier and Louis Morrisette held a Mea Culpa news conference (clips one, two and three) where they admitted to not being funny.

One of the other things I found most disturbing about the racial slurs used in the show is the complicity of the CBC. When they were reviewing the script for content and when the writers were putting it together, apparently no one said that they shouldn’t refer to black people as N—ers. No one sat up and said that a skit that refers to Obama’s ideas as “N—er Plans” isn’t funny and is just wrong, no matter what the context…

It is very disappointing that the CBC chose to be so insensitive and vulgar. It seems that those who wrote and supported the script choices should be sanctioned or fined in some way. The USA is our largest trading partner and our closest cultural and social influence. Almost the entire world is celebrating the intelligence, measured tone and potential of the President Elect Barack Obama, the first African-American elected to the Presidency and the CBC’s response to all of this goodwill, hope and optimism that Obama’s election has brought is to refer to him as a N—er!?

There is something very wrong in Canada right now if people in power think that the words N?gre or Nigger are funny. They are not. They are words of hate and ugliness. They are words meant to subjugate blacks and an attempt to reduce them to the status of slaves, of property, of something not human. It is not a joke. It is not credible that adults working at the CBC and their francophone affiliate Radio-Canada do not know that.

The response from the Union des Artistes (aka UDA, the francophone actor’s union) was to challenge the criticisms as attacks on free speech. The UDA accepts the limitations on language when it comes to swearing or using sexually explicit language but thinks that its performers and writers should be free to insult blacks and use racial slurs whenever they want? That is simply not acceptable.

The response from the Conservative Party of Canada was to say, “c’?tait insultant, mais ce n’?tait pas le fin du monde”, which translates to: “it was insulting but not the end of the world.” I wonder what he would have said if the group attacked by Radio-Canada was part of another minority group that the Canadian government wants to have good relations with. The comments from the Conservative Heritage Minister James Moore might have been slightly less vague.

The hateful words used on Bye Bye 2008 and Radio-Canada are not the only that have been made about black people by Quebec comics. Another so-called comedy team Les T?tes ? Claques produced this where they mock blacks again, using the name of the main character from the story Roots, depicting him as a cannibal. It seems to be a trend with Canadian comics in the province of Quebec.

This is the letter from Radio-Canada regarding Bye Bye 2008. They are words that are basically defiant and it seems as though the CBC/Radio-Canada thinks that the audience has a problem if they do not like racial slurs used against them. It is not a very thoughtful or sincere effort to recognize the hurt that has been caused and how the words used undermine efforts of everyone to move past hatred and intolerance towards a common sense of purpose and an acknowledgment of our shared destiny.

The letter is weak and speaks ill of the administration of the CBC.

Here are some of the comments by others in Canada’s media. Montreal Gazette, Media portal Canoe (in French) and a Google search using the words Radio Canada Bye Bye 2008.

There is also a facebook group to protest the show and an online petition to sign.

Let’s hope that this sad episode leads to some serious changes in how blacks are represented in the media in Canada and more respect to all citizens regardless of their cultural and ethnic origins.

Perhaps having more black actors (especially men) in Canadian movies and TV shows in positive roles instead of the butt of racist jokes and news reports, would help to counterbalance the one-sided point of view that continues to be broadcast on Canada’s airwaves. There should be black actors with talk shows or starring in TV series on the CBC, CTV and Global or even on Showcase and Bravo but Canada still lags behind the rest of the western world in depicting blacks as the everyday man in the 21st century.

Did you watch the show? What did you think about it? Do you have any American friends who might have seen the English translation of the clip on YouTube or via digg?

The following article contains some hope and intelligent comments from the media, courtesy of The New York Times.

abortion rights

December 12th, 2008

My thoughts on what I find to be a disturbing article I came across in Canada’s National Post, one of the nation’s two national newspapers. The article was released this week, when our parliament is shut down so that no one can discuss it in our parliament and the rest of the Canadian media has been completely silent about it.

The article supports various efforts in the United States to make abortion more difficult for women. Maurice Vellacott a MP of the Conservative Party who is in power right now sent the article to all the members in parliament. Harper doesn’t want parliament to vote on his horrible economic statement but his MP Vellacott is sending out season’s greetings to everyone with a newspaper article that supports making abortion more difficult for women.

Unfortunately it is not one lone MP expressing his point. It is the actions of a MP of a Conservative government whose sole purpose has been to spread fear and disdain throughout the country. Most people in Canada have been nervous about the Reform / Alliance / Conservative Party for precisely this reason.

Canada’s Conservative government has done no work for 6 months, Harper called a surprise election after the summer break. When the majority of MPs came back and didn’t support of his economic plans to literally bankrupt them, reduce women’s equity and do nothing else for our economy, Harper shut down our democracy and the parliament will not return before the end of January 2009. We are the only country in the western world who has done almost nothing in the past 6 months.

Now on the same day that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has an interview with the CBC, where he states that he wants to work with others and wants their ideas (because he has none of his own), the National Post prints an article that supports one of the basic (if understated) principals of the Reform / Alliance / Conservative Party, restricting Canadian women’s right to safe abortions.

It is an article that seeks to make women feel ashamed for getting abortions regardless of the circumstance and praises the more restrictive access in various regions in the United States. The National Post is the same newspaper where former Bush speechwriter David Frum regularly writes for, where he supports Bush and Harper.

It is not an innocuous article, it is part of the philosophy of a divisive, sneaky government that has reduced funding to women’s groups across Canada, canceled our National day Care program brought in by the Liberals, in favour of a cash handout, that still leaves families struggling to find adequate care for their children (our country’s future).

The fact that the rest of the media is silent about this, actually empowers and enables the Conservative Party in creating an atmosphere where the abortion rights could be attacked and reversed. I am a man, I’m not the one going to carry the baby. But it seems really evil to sneak the possibility of a restrictive law back into the mindset of a country where the issue has been pretty much decided and do it during a time of nearly unprecedented economic stress and fear.

Attacking women in Canada regarding their own bodies is cowardly, immature and a government that encourages its members to do so is only showing their true stripes as being misguided and frankly not worthy of the trust its citizens place in them to work for the good of the country.

Once again, the Conservative Party has shown that they have nothing to offer except for dividing the country and using their faulty, abusive reasoning to undermine the rights of the citizens they swore to work for.

To deny women’s right to clean, safe medical abortions would put Canada back to the days of the recent past (1940s-1970s) when many women died, ran off to “houses” to have their babies in secret and then abandon them to religious organizations (with all the problems that we are still not dealing with in terms of abuse and neglect of thousands of children over the past decades who were brought up in orphanages run by nuns, priests and religious lay people), or kept the babies and had stilted lives mired in regret and frustration, while men who also made the children left them and our society condemned the mothers as “loose women”.

There is a reason why birth control is so popular and why the revolutions of the 1960s happened: women were being put down, black people were being put down and ignorance was considered to be bliss. Respect, justice and equality are things that we should never take for granted. We must always be vigilant for there are many who seek to place limits on the freedoms of women and others, keeping them from their true potential due to their own fears and insecurities, which they want to force down on the rest of us.

If you believe in a women’s right to have a life of her own, not controlled by the whims of ideologues in government, then you have to stand up and say so. Cheering at a sports game or singing the national anthem are not the only things you can do to be patriotic. There are some serious questions to ask when huge portions of the population are in danger of losing their rights over their own bodies and the rights to make decisions in their own best interests because a few people in the media and in power in the government are testing the waters to see how watchful the population is during the holiday season.

If the National Post is advocating restricting access to abortion and is supported by the sitting government of the day, who waits until after they win the election to openly talk about it, that’s evil and cowardly and if you support the women in your lives, it is something we should all speak out against.

What do you think? Are you ready to let your sister, daughter, lose the rights the previous generation used to improve the quality of their lives? If your wife, girlfriend, business partner, friend had to quit work or school (like millions of women did before abortions were safe and legal) because they couldn’t get a legal abortion or it became much more difficult how would you deal with it?

Canada’s Right Choice (is the Coalition)

December 5th, 2008

Coalition Members,

I believe that the goals of the coalition are valid and just. Harper has violated every democratic principal we hold dear. The Conservatives must be voted out of office. It is your responsibility as the MPs of the opposition to defeat the government when they lose the confidence of parliament.

Unfortunately, the media is choosing to interview people who seem to be mostly against or neutral on the coalition. Many Canadians do not even understand how our parliament works. They think that because Harper won the election and then accuses the other parties of being socialists and selling out the country to separatists, that he might be right. It is your job to explain how parliament works to the average Canadian so that they will appreciate how difficult a decision it was to form a coalition but how necessary it was to do to defeat a minority government, who has done nothing to help the economy of Canada over the last six months.

The election has only given Harper a sense that he should rule Canada with an iron fist, like Charles the First of England, or regime leaders in countries Canadians have read about and seen on the TV news over the past 40-50 years. Harper seems to be confused as to which country he is the head of. If he can’t run a minority government, then he should be defeated and if the other parties can find enough common ground to put a coalition government together to run the country for a set period of time, then that is what should be done.

You should take out ads and list the reasons why the coalition is valid and necessary based on the situation and Canadian parliamentary rules. It is time to stop letting the biased media define your coalition and for you to do so. If you truly believe that you are on the side of common sense and what is right for Canada (as I do), then you must inform Canadians why you have taken this decision (digg.com, twitter.com, facebook.com, myspace.com or myspace.ca, party web sites, printed press, radio and TV).

Like a well oiled machine, you should work together to put a united front out and make sure that you have a solid economic plan to counter Harper’s, so that the average Canadian will see how different your visions for the country are and why Harper needs to go.

Some of us understand that a minority government whose first order of business is to prevent civil servants from striking and attempts to cripple the funding of the majority of the house right after they have benefited from that same funding, then closes parliament to avoid losing a non-confidence vote, is an illegitimate government. But honestly, many other Canadians do not understand this. They do not know that their dollars help you campaign, pay for advertising, posters and signs during by-elections and federal elections. It is just wrong. They don’t understand that once the election is over, that it is parliament that decides whether or not a minority government is competent and working in the best interests of the country.

It is your job to properly explain it. Canadians need your voices of reason to counterbalance the never ending campaign of Harper and the Conservative Party who are supported by the media in Canada (the CBC, CTV and National Post have all been pro Harper and very anti-Dion).

The Harper government called the election supposedly because he claimed that parliament did not work (to his satisfaction). The lowest voter turnout in history cost Canada over 300 million dollars to give him 22 more seats. Harper’s first order of business was not to work on the country’s economic problems but to try and rule as a King and insult the members of parliament and voters. Harper caused the problem. He still has produced no leadership on the economic difficulties that we are facing. He is simply focussed on destroying the rules of parliament, as we know them in general and the Liberal Party in particular.

If the coalition will succeed without Dion, then he has to step aside. The coalition is more important than him being leader of it. The Deputy Leader of the Liberals could take his place without any problem. Dion could still be part of the cabinet but his English language issues seem to be irritating Canadians and it is becoming a focus instead of what he is saying (of course, this could also be part of the media spin – but it has to be addressed, if everyone supports Dion, then show us that you do). Personally, I think that Dion should stay, but if there is a serious issue between the coalition working better without Dion as the interim Prime Minister for three or four months, then he needs to step aside for the good of its success and the country.

I think that Dion would be a great Prime Minister. I really do. He has a sound, responsible vision for the country and its untapped potential but the coalition needs to focus. Do not be cowardly about it. If all of you support Dion then come out as leaders and say so. If you do not, then privately negotiate a sharing of responsibilities with the Liberal Deputy Leader or ask him to step aside.

I remain an ardent supporter of the coalition and confident in the mission of the coalition to defeat the Conservative government that has lost the confidence of the house of parliament.

Regards,

P.S. The letter that Harper wrote in 1997 that explains his current efforts and philosophy.

President Obama

November 21st, 2008

History has been made and the first African American presidential candidate from a major party has won the election to become the 44th President of the United States of America. What does this mean?

“We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal.” At the time those words were written, new Africans and blacks born in America were slaves, women could not vote and the native population were not even on the map. The black slaves were considered to be 3/5ths of a man.

Much of the history of North America has been about actively preventing slaves, former slaves and their descendants from participating in the American society to the detriment of the country itself. Through law and custom, African Americans have been forced under threat of (and real) humiliation, imprisonment and violence to cower in front of white people, work for them, give way and defer to them. There were always those who fought to be included in the mass that was America, to have a voice and positively contribute to their country. They fought America’s wars, raised their children, cooked their food, cared for the sick and bore the brunt of hatred that a nation that would not let go of its free, servile labor for its own profit and pleasure at the cost of its soul.

There were those whose deeds of defiance and words of eloquence sought to demonstrate that pigment was no barrier to a poet’s soul, a painter’s eye, a musician’s skill, a doctor’s touch, the inventor’s inquisitive mind, or a person’s heart to want and strive for a meaningful life. The pursuit of equality has been a goal of African Americans ever since they were brought to the land in chains.

The hope and determination that America’s former slaves have shown – to be included in the country they help to found, built and defend – has been inspiring to the world. The words and deeds of millions have shown the world that good character, intelligence, artistic skills and a sound scientific mind are not limited by the colour of one’s skin.

Obama’s victory is not just a win for African American citizens who have always been stopped at that final door to acceptance in eyes of the world. The popular media have often stated that “African leaders are corrupt!” (but nothing is said about those who are corrupting them). The African Americans who struggled to make their place in the world were always put in the same barrel as those who had not made the best choices and/or succumbed to violence and escapism to mask the terrible pain and shame they felt at being blocked from living the life they saw around them, or on the other side of the tracks.

Obama’s victory is an American triumph over their past and proof that nothing is static. Hope, change and action are things that have driven progress in the world. It is hope that pushed people to work for their own and their children’s future. To get up in the morning to protest for justice knowing that they may suffer for it. Hope and the instinctive, deep seeded knowledge that individuals working together can change their circumstances, bring about change, heal old wounds and unify behind a common purpose, is what has driven mankind.

Obama’s victory is about the average Jane, and Joe of America realizing that the country is more important than any one party. The policies of the GOP have been horrible for everyone, even investors. The military is overstretched by men who used their family’s influence to avoid military service. The economy has been broken by those who made horrible choices on investments based on fast, easy money and no accountability. The health care system is corrupt and weak after decades of lobbyists buying votes to keep Americans sick and poor, building an insurance industry that penalizes its citizens for getting sick. Innovation has fallen to perpetuate a status quo that states that less is bad, that everyone should drink more, eat more and burn fuel more than anyone else, everyday, all of the time. The auto industry is just one of the casualties of that philosophy.

Obama’s victory is a win for common sense and a real opportunity for intelligence, good policy and respect to return to US politics. Under his Presidency, the US could truly once again influence the world, not with bombs or a barrel of a gun, but with strong, thoughtful leadership. It remains to be seen how it will all work out. Obama has demonstrated by including millions of Americans in the process to support the Democrats and his campaign that there was an untapped strength of a nation which has been neglected and wants to participate in the health and wealth of their own country.

The power of optimism is that it inspires people to bring out the better parts of their nature, to improve their own lives and those of others. A person who can tap into that basic truth and help the nation focus to be strong, vibrant and helpful to its citizens is a real leader. For too long politicians have used their power to divide their country’s citizens against one another, while giving power and money to businesses at the expense of common sense and true prosperity. Obama’s win shows that the majority of people really do want to get along, live together and work together for a brighter future. They just need to be guided by a leader who wants everyone’s life to be better, not just a select few.

The USA will be the better for it. As the rhetoric calms down and the nation heals, the world might end up being safer for it too. Good luck Obama, good luck USA, we’re all pulling for you.

Have you noticed…

October 25th, 2008

That the media seems to be covering more news stories about the environment of late? In fact, ever since the elections have ended, the CBC and other media outlets in Canada have mentioned different ways other countries in the world are using their industries to create jobs and advancing the fight against reducing their respective carbon emissions. Too bad that the media didn’t do that during the election campaign.

Since our elections ended, there have been stories on Freiburg in Germany and on Portugal and how they are reducing pollution, driving their economy with new jobs and innovative technologies while Canada lags behind. The Canadian solution thus far seems fairly feeble. There are companies trading carbon emissions by hiring a 3rd party to cut down healthy trees and plant new ones to offset their greenhouse gas emissions!? Who thought that one up? Apparently when people purchase airline tickets through Air Canada they can choose to offset the carbon gas damage of their trip buy contributing to this program from the safety of their airline seat… The new trees will take at least 20 years to mature… This is the 2nd largest country in the world in terms of landmass and that is how Canadian companies and the Conservative Party are helping to curb greenhouse gases. Not very inspiring. I wonder if the tree planting company plants trees in areas where forest fires have burned down hundreds of healthy trees or not? From the news report, they seemed to be planting in areas of healthy forests.

Also in the news: Harper and Flaherty might be heading towards a deficit. Really? You mean to say that when Canada is in a war where auditors cannot get all the information on the costs to the country because the Conservatives will not release the information – that the country’s budget might actually be headed towards a deficit… Who wouda thunk it?

Maybe we are in for a surprise… if the economy continues to tank, the dollar continues its drop and GM and Chrysler join together putting more people out of work, perhaps the Conservatives will not make it through 2009. Not that any of those things are very good. But it seems as though the greed of the past 15 years or so is really coming back to bite some of the major companies in the world. Then there is the distinct possibility that the Harper party will implode on itself through its own avarice and lack of focus outside that of copying Leo Strauss’ broken ideas.

Speaking of GM, imagine how much more stable GM and Ford would be right now if they had continued with the electric vehicles they released, then recalled and destroyed after protesting California’s zero emission policy (1996-2003). Check out this movie for more info: Who Killed the Electric Car?

The strange thing about the political winds, is that we are always given a chance to put the society on the path to prosperity and a positive humanist vision. We just have to take the responsibility seriously and make sure that the people we elect help build the society we need and not waste our resources on corporations, war and their own lifestyles. It is really up to us. Hmm…

Well, that was fun…

October 16th, 2008

What will Dion’s legacy be? The historically low voter turnout helped weaken the Liberal party and possibly end Dion’s career as its leader. I hope not. Dion is a good man for this country. His poise under the tremendous pressure of the past two years from Harper, Layton and the media, as well as his vision and policies, have convinced me that he would make a excellent Prime Minister.

Why did so many people stay away? I feel that the reason why so many people did not vote was due to the lack of attention on the issues by the media. They barely questioned Harper’s reason for calling the election and didn’t really challenge him when Harper and Layton tried to prevent May from participating in the debates by threatening to boycott them. The media allowed Harper to dictate the format and change the structure of the debates (which were almost a waste of time because it allowed Harper to just sit there and not speak) and they also avoided asking him the tough questions about his platform and the comments made by his MPs (Ritz’s joke and Richardson’s comments about immigrants).

CBC’s Canada Votes was a bad joke. The commentator was completely biased. It was obvious from day one that the CBC was pulling for Harper. When callers made comments that supported the Liberals, they would be cut off, the commentator would make strange comments about her life or something else to change the topic. She also spent a great deal of time laughing instead of informing the public on the issues. When a caller asked her to go to the Liberal’s web site and use the Green Shift calculator to test how easy it was, she just brushed the caller off. The CBC actually had a fortune teller on the show to predict the outcome of the election… It was really quite silly.

In fact, the bias that the media had towards Dion was apparent to me when he revealed his Green Shift plan this past summer and sat through a rough interview with “Canada’s foremost environmentalist and economist” Wendy Mesley (!?!) of the CBC, whom I found was very harsh with him. Her famous last words to Dion during the interview were “What if you’re wrong?” I thought it was strangely hostile from the CBC to be seemingly so mistrusting and critical of Dion’s green plan based on all the issues that had gone wrong with Harper’s government over the previous 2 1/2 years (lack of media contact, general belligerence towards the media, backing out of Kyoto, income trusts flip flop, canceling women’s programs, canceling the Kelowna accord, canceling the National Day Care program, no figures on the war in Afghanistan, the intrigue surrounding the Cadman affair, Mulroney, Bernier, the surplus disappearing, the Finance Minister suggesting that the province where the nation’s capitol resides, is not a good place to invest…)

CTV has been just as biased and might have cost the Liberals the election by releasing a portion of a bizarre interview question that even most English speakers did not understand. The interview was taped and Dion had trouble understanding the question. Dion asked the interviewer to redo the session and he agreed. Normally that is the end of the story, but in a purely malicious gesture, designed to mock and further humiliate the Liberal leader, the segment of the tape showing a confused Dion was released to all the media outlets in the country. I don’t know if the redo was released, so we do not know for sure, how he actually answered the question. It seemed as though the situation was created on purpose to belittle Dion. It was shameful, tabloid journalism. CTV also broadcasts the show Etalk where their official car has been the “Hummer” through much of the past season – The statement speaks volumes on how the owners of the Canadian media and the Conservative government have weakened the discussion on the issues of the environment.

Harper stopped what he was doing (did someone send his team a copy of the tape?) and had the only late evening address to the media throughout the entire 30-plus days of the campaign to mock and criticize Dion for his confusion during the interview. Normally these things are not released because everyone makes mistakes during a recorded interview. This was released over the last weekend of the campaign when the Conservatives were losing ground… Smells pretty bad from this end.

Other notes: the Economist endorsed Harper for Prime Minister and there was also weekend summit of world leaders and finance ministers. Conservative Finance Minister Flaherty attended the international meeting (after Harper had repeatedly stated throughout the campaign, that everything was fine and that we were in good financial shape) to deal with the financial crisis over the last two days of the campaign. Miraculously, the TSX had a huge gain on the day of the election. Canadians stayed home in record numbers with only 59% of eligible voters showing up to vote. The Liberals lost 19 seats from the last election and Ontario gave the Conservatives 50 seats on their way to winning a second minority government.

The day after the election, the TSX dropped hard and has continued to fall…

This was one of the most bizarre elections I have ever seen. The media spent more time attacking Dion than actually finding what Harper wanted to do for the country. The Green Shift isn’t a new tax. It’s about giving Canada new jobs, lower personal income taxes, shifting the tax we are charged on our paychecks to pollution and giving us a rebate too.

People would not have lost their jobs. Payroll taxes would have been lowered. There were plans to help Canadians modernize our homes, investments for new technologies and money for the infrastructure in our cities. The Auditor General was going provide an annual report to be sure that the Green Shift was revenue neutral, meaning that the government would not take in more money from the program than it returns to the population.

Now Harper gets another chance to destroy our health care programs, cut funding for social groups, families, give out more money to oil companies and hurt the economy with the secret war budget…

Only 21% of Canadians (35% of 59% = aprox. 21%) voted for Harper. The following is just some of his plans for Canada. I do not recall anyone in the media mentioning these issues during the campaign. What else don’t we know?

http://healthandfitness.sympatico.msn.ca/abc/News/ContentPosting.aspx?isfa=1&feedname=CP-HEALTH&showbyline=True&newsitemid=122433045

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2008/06/20/military-plan.html?ref=rss

To the Green and NDP supporters: Layton is 4th and May isn’t even on the chart. Hopefully her party will get at least one seat in a by-election but next time, don’t throw your votes away. It almost handed Harper a majority. Proper strategic voting (1. Voting to support the non Conservative candidate and 2. voting for the next choice after the Conservatives, in ridings where they held seats from the 2006 election) would have easily defeated the Conservatives. Canada would have had a Liberal minority, supported by the NDP and a possibly, a couple of Green seats too. It was only a matter of 20,000 to 25,000 total votes to completely reverse the results in favour of the Liberals. What happened on Tuesday was really sad for our country. We have spent so much time laughing at the USA for their choices and now we have gone and voted the same way they did over the past eight years…

Let’s hope that it only lasts for a short time (less than two years). Canada is going to go through a real test on how strong this country is. Harper wants to change the country beyond recognition into small, separate, polarized regional areas like the United States has become and it is going to take a lot of determination to stop him from doing that. Ironically, Obama might help bring Americans together on a level that hasn’t happened for many years. Canadians seem to be drifting apart into different political and social camps, due to Harper’s tactics and help from the media.

Here are some ideas to encourage a higher voter turnout: All businesses should close at 1 pm on election day. Many people work half days on Christmas Eve, even if they do not celebrate the holiday. Why not give voters a half day off, so that everyone can vote? Canadians who work in schools, hospitals and daycare facilities could vote in the advanced polls or in shifts, giving the staff 4 hours off to vote (3 hours is not enough time for many people due to traffic and commuting issues). In the case of Universities and Colleges, the students and staff could have polling stations set up in the schools or, it could just become an extra school holiday where post-secondary students would have the day off so that they could actively participate in their country’s future.

Another idea could be to make every major election (municipal, provincial, federal) day a civic holiday. Maybe that would encourage people to come out and vote. During an election, the debates should be over 5 or 6 nights (3 or 4 in English and 2 in French where the parties would have to answer questions, debate and present a platform. It would really engage viewers by giving us a chance to hear each candidate’s vision of the future and their plans for the country. The topics could include economics, education, environment, health care, social programs and crime. The moderator(s) could be leading authorities in the various topics or a single person. If we are going to have debates, then questions need to be asked to and answered by all the parties. Never again should a candidate be allowed to call an election and not release his party’s platform until after the advanced polls are closed. It made this election a total joke and a waste of time and money to the sum over 300 hundred million dollars.

Dion should not lose his job over this phony campaign!

Next time: Go out and Vote!

So what did you think about this election? What was your impression of Dion? The Green Shift? Harper’s lack of transparency and avoiding real question from anyone? Are there any Europeans who would like to comment on how a carbon tax works in any of your countries?

Here are some more sites for info on what we still have a chance to achieve together. It is up to us to build the society that we want. Dion is on the right path. Let’s help ourselves and help him too!

http://www.carbontax.org/

www.youtube.com/watch?v=5l43JHQ5cqY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMnB6V5yG1I

https://www.iema.net/news/envnews?aid=9728

http://ecoworldly.com/2008/05/01/freiburg-germanys-eco-town-flagship/

http://www.energyresearchproject.org/j/energy-videos/RK713EYYdLo.html

http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2001/07/45056

http://www.solarregion.freiburg.de/solarregion/freiburg_solar_city.php

Some of my thoughts about the Canadian Election

October 12th, 2008

Harper’s secrets

http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20080827/Harperstrategy_080827?s_name=election2008&no_ads=

The media is so biased against Dion. Harper refuses to speak to the media during an election campaign and Keith Boag suggests that Dion is in trouble.

The Canadian media has done everything to give this election to Harper. Let’s go out and vote for Cadman. He had enough sense not to side with Harper, now it’s our turn. Do the right thing. Vote ABC!

Voting ABC is as easy as 1-2-3

Here are some basic ABC guidelines that will work wonders if we’re all on the same page:

1. If you live in a riding that went Liberal, NDP or Bloc in the last election, vote for that party.

2. If you live in a riding that elected a Conservative, vote for the party that came second.

3. Vote for Elizabeth May if you live in her riding.

Now get your family and 10 friends to do the same. Let’s vote out the Regressive Conservatives!

As a leader runs a campaign, so will he run the nation. Harper hides from the media and waits until after the advanced polls close to release a platform. Dion is a leader for the 21st century. Smart, focused, compassionate and determined.

Dion’s Retake and Media Bias

October 11th, 2008

I am amazed and saddened that anyone in the media, in Canada, would try and make a story out of Dion having misunderstood a question. What should have been the story, was the subsequent betrayal of the media in releasing the tape, after they agreed to redo the interview. Harper waited until after the advanced polls closed to release his party’s platform, told broke Canadians to go and buy stocks and refused to answer questions from the public that every other leader did on the televised, one-on-one CBC interview show YourTurn. His MPs have chastised a grieving father after his son died fighting for this country in Afghanistan, made nasty jokes when Canadians were dying due to government deregulation of the food industry, suggested that immigrants were responsible for crime and this is the thing that gets passed around newsrooms as a game changer in an election!?

The media really has it in for Dion. Maybe you are all jealous of him because he might become Prime Minister. Maybe Canada isn’t as warm and fuzzy as we’d like to think it is (just like Harper’s sweaters didn’t hide his mean streak).

This election has shown that there is a definite media bias in favour of the Conservatives and a mean-spiritedness towards Dion that resembles the bias of FOX News in the USA against Obama.

What gives media? Why all the bad press towards Dion? Anti-Francophone? Are you afraid to have an intelligent man as PM? Maybe it is something else… It is very sad to see what our media has done during this campaign. You have given Harper every opportunity to win – supporting him when he didn’t want Elizabeth May at the debates, allowing the format to be changed, the total lack of any real formal debate structure that only supported the Conservatives (and Harper still lost the debates, because he had nothing to say).

I hope that Dion wins the election and forgives you but many people have been turned off the CTV/CBC and the rest of you for not providing Canadians with the facts. Instead, you have all become a mouthpiece of the Conservative attack machine.

Stuff we need to know and that the media has kept from us during this election campaign:

http://www.carbontax.org/

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2008/06/20/military-plan.html?ref=rss

http://www.harperindex.ca/ViewArticle.cfm?Ref=0056

http://www.truveo.com/Stephen-Harper-fails-Canada-with-SPP-by-A-kissing/id/1123340419

http://finance.yahoo.com/expert/article/economist/6895

http://www.sierraclub.ca/climatecrisis/

http://www.thegreenpages.com.au/blog/?p=9

http://nabweekly.ca/?p=896

http://nabweekly.ca/?p=944

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5l43JHQ5cqY