Archive for Canada

Latin America, Te Amo – and – The Expat Exodus Continues

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2020 by jtoddring

Being at home – et, bien etre

I reflect now, again, as I have for 30 years, since my first trip to Mexico and Latin America, that I feel far more at home in Latin America than in (the dark side of) North America (north of the Texas-Mexico border), including in my beloved home country of Canada.

I feel far more at ease, relaxed, and at peace in Latin America. I feel far more connected, welcomed, positively stimulated, joyous, happy, healthy, vibrant, empowered and alive in Latin America.

Why am I here, in neurotic, alienated, angry, divided, uptight, stressed to the extreme, increasingly expensive, unaffordable, unliveable, and Puritanical, corporate-ruled, fascist North America?

I could say the same about rural life and nature; and I would say the same about the monastery, as well, or at least being close by to a meditation centre. But my ideal would certainly combine all three.

Maybe when I’m 60. That would be 30 years later than I had hoped, but that’s ok. I look forward to liberating my family from el Norte, and liberating myself.

It would seem from the mass exodus of people and families, young and old, from the North to Latin America, that I am not alone in such feelings, misgivings and thoughts. The US is sinking economically, going fascist – or rather, already gone – and on the brink of civil war. And Canada has foolishly tied its fate to this sinking ship of an empire in decline. No wonder a million Americans have fled the US, and a half million Canadians have made the short, joyous exodus to date, as well, to Mexico alone.

Latin America isn’t the promised land. They have problems too. I have my eyes wide open – as they should be, unless you enjoy repeatedly falling in a ditch. Certain countries are in good to excellent state, in terms of places to live. I would list Mexico, Argentina and Uruguay among them. All three are in overall better shape than the US or Canada, despite delusions to the contrary. Brazil, Bolivia, Chile and Venezuela, on the other hand, are in deep trouble.

Nevertheless, a well-chosen place in Latin America can be the nearest thing to paradise on Earth, at least to myself and to many people; and a damned sight better than this sinking bog, which is the collapsing empire of Washington on its dully dutiful satellites, such as Canada.

Yes, mein commandante! Bending over now, mein commandante! Blast away, mein commandante!

Place yourself where you are called to be, I say, or where you feel most at home, most at peace, or most alive. Whatever you do, choose actively and thoughtfully: do not merely drift, or allow mere circumstance to choose for you.

Life is fleeting. Seize the day.


Aug. 15, 2020


PS: Listen to the Noam Chomsky interview, on Scheer Intelligence: The US has created a global dystopia. Then… Listen to Morris Berman on the Geopolitics & Empire podcast, on why exodus is best. The US is not coming back for a long time, it would appear, sadly. And Canadians seem content to join their US neighbours in the ride to the bottom. I’m suggesting a parachute or life raft might be a wiser, and better way to go. Exodus is neigh.

Canada, eh?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 14, 2020 by jtoddring

I did not know – Quebec is nearly triple the size of Texas or France…which makes it roughly the size of Mexico. Wow. And that is just one Canadian province. Vast country, eh. Good thing nearly all 37 million of us live within 100 km of the southern border, gathered in a tight knot in cities, choking on smog and obscene housing prices, packed cheek to jowl.

(But don’t tell the anti-immigrant xenophobes that the country is virtually empty of people, or they might have a brain hemorrhage from intolerable levels of cognitive dissonance. And yes, we have more resources, more wealth, and more arable land than virtually any country on earth, and could take in many more people – and should, if we want to be able to support an aging population.)

Yet, we huddle in the cities – like rats in an ever-tightening cage, as if the dread of Nature terrifies us; or we are terrified that we may actually have to spend some time with ourselves.

(And the great majority of Canada, like the US, is public lands. Go figure. But nobody knows that. Nor is it an advertised fact. Land reform in Canada and the US? Now there is an idea whose time has come. Watch for the North American land reform movement – and guerrilla homesteading. It is coming, and soon. But for now, the people huddle together, in meek and mild-mannered desperation, afraid to leave the increasingly dubious comforts, and the increasingly illusory security, of the cities and the crowd.)

We wouldn’t want to be under-crowded, now would we?!

Heaven forbid we think of living in the….countryside! Yikes! And we are a country of practical, amiable, rough and ready, woodsy nature lovers? In theory maybe, historically certainly, but at present? Dubious. Timid mall rats, more like it – or so it seems we have become. Or, worse, hunker-in-your-digital-bunker-and-order-it-online, techno-entranced, obedient and docile consumer drones, placid as cattle led to slaughter.

Canoe…? What’s a “canoe”?

And please remind me again, what’s the Canadian motto?

Oh yes, I remember….

Give me Walmart, or give me death.

August 14, 2020

P.S.: Better put out some extra blankets and sleeping bags, dust out the bunkie or the cottage, and stock up on back bacon and beer. We’re about to be over-run with refugees – American refugees, fleeing the ever-widening environmental disaster zones, and the civil war in the US. Our hospitality, I suspect, will soon be needed. Just a head’s-up. And no, I do not jest.

I suggest we revise our refugee policy now, this year, and without delay. Though it is unlikely to happen soon, since our national religion – nay, our modern world religion – is denial; it would be sensible and practical to ammend it thusly:

We will take in one US refugee, out of a good neighbour policy, along with one refugee from Africa, one from Eurasia, one from Oceana, and one from Latin America, to the total equivalent of our 2020 population of 37 million, over the next ten years.

Refugee families will be granted one to five acre plots of land, reallocated from public lands and corporate farms greater than 10,000 acres.

And give each Canadian a one acre plot as well, since the majority are sinking economically, and this lifeline may soon become essential to economic survival.

Note: Canada’s landmass is approximately 3.5 million square miles, or roughly 2.24 billion acres (excluding lakes and rivers). 74 million acres given out in one acre plots would require 3% of Canada’s land to be redistributed. We could thus give out 74 million *ten-acre plots*, at perhaps near to the upper limit, sparing the boreal forest which is the lungs of the northern hemisphere, and still be left with a country comprised of vast forests and tundra, with room to spare.

The reciprocity involved will require refugees of adult age to devote a portion of the year to environmental remediation and the retrofitting of every home and building in the country for double or triple the current insulation and energy efficiency levels – with funds made ready from returning corporate tax rates to 1980 levels, prior to four decades of cuts, and from a simple but necessary tax on pollution, and most urgently, on carbon in particular.

Other urgent projects to follow will include the building of a trans-Canada solar-hydrogen highway, the rapid conversion of all road-licenced vehicles less than five years old to hydrogen fuel, and a trans-Canada solar-electric mag-lev light rail corridor.

But then again, such a plan would entail boldly dealing with reality – something the people of this country, like most countries, have become steadfastly averse to.

So…. Let us eat cake.

Cataclysm it is, then.

And I pray that I am wrong.

The Apotheosis, Canonization, and Hagiography of Rob Ford

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on March 30, 2016 by jtoddring

I feel sympathy for former Toronto mayor Rob Ford and his family, but watching a few minutes of the CBC news coverage of his funeral (it was on in the cafe where I had a coffee, and could not be avoided), I have to think, this man was, by all indications, a person of very questionable character, and a terrible mayor. To hear the CBC gush and fawn over him, and refer to him in hushed and solemn tones as the best mayor Toronto has ever had, makes me wonder if the CBC is on crack.

Rob Ford was a public embarrassment, and an international embarrassment, not just to Toronto, but to all of Canada. Newspapers across the United States and Britain asked, what is going on with Canada? Even Jon Stewart had to ask, what is wrong with Toronto mayor Rob Ford?

Rob Ford joins the ranks of Mike Harris, Stephen Harper and Brian Mulroney, as one of the most widely disliked, mistrusted and disrespected, if not positively loathed, political figures in all of Canadian history. Why is the CBC trying to turn him into some kind of national hero?

It made me think of something Hunter S. Thompson said, after the funeral of Richard Nixon. He said, in his opinion, Nixon should not have been buried with honours, but should have had his body set on fire and thrown into a garbage dumpster. I think that is a terrible thing to say about anyone, no matter how lowly their character had been. Forgiveness and compassion are good and important things. But trying to turn a villain into a saint after their death is grossly irresponsible, and simply not right.

So yes, once again, I have to conclude, the CBC is on crack.

March 30, 2016

Justin Trudeau and the Continuing Saga of Canadian Apathy

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2016 by jtoddring

A recent poll shows strong support for the Trudeau government in Canada, and I have to think, once again, that it is surprising to see that Canadians can be so uncritical and unquestioning of their government.

Yes, Harper was defeated, and yes, that was a good thing. But the current government under Trudeau Jr. is deeply flawed, and criminally negligent, at best – and that is the best you can say about them.

Trudeau Jr. is still subsidizing big oil and the fossil fuel industry, still pushing for oil pipelines, still blocking serious action on the environment. And we are still waiting on serious action on the lack of safe drinking water for 120 native communities and 1,600 municipalities across the country – in one of the seven richest countries on earth, with the means to provide all Canadians more than a decent standard of living, and certainly vastly more wealth and resources than is needed to simply provide clean, safe water for all. And further, the Trudeau government has so far refused to cancel or reject a plan by Ontario Power Generation to bury radioactive waste in the Great Lakes basin, even though every radioactive waste facility ever built has leaked, and despite the fact that the Great Lakes provide drinking water to 40 million people. And all of this entails what can only be called criminal negligence in the extreme.

Beyond that, the Trudeau Liberals refuse to raise corporate taxes to reasonable levels, say, where they were in 1960, at roughly 40%: and as a result, must work with a self-inflicted short-fall of revenues, meaning that health care, education, social and environmental programs cannot be properly funded.

What this means is that the Liberal Party is no longer a liberal party, as it was up until the government of Pierre Eliot Trudeau, Justin Trudeau’s father, in the late 1970’s. For more than thirty years, the Liberal Party of Canada has been yet another party of neoliberalism, which is to say, another party run by and for big business. And central to the neoliberal, pro-corporate agenda, is austerity for the people, with giant subsidies, bail-outs, “stimulus” packages and tax breaks for the corporations and the rich. This is why we have inadequate funding for health care, education, social programs and environmental programs in Canada, as in the US and Europe, despite the fact that Canada is one of the richest countries on earth: neoliberalism and a corporate agenda have taken over – and the Trudeau Jr. government is just the latest expression of this criminal posse of neo-feudal corporatists, gouging the people to further line the pockets of the rich.

At the same time, the young Trudeau signed the TPP, which effectively spells the final death blow to Canadian sovereignty, and democracy in Canada. Few actions could express a greater or more utter incompetence, or criminality, depending on how you want to view it.

And while talking about “a principled foreign policy,” Trudeau Jr. approved the arms deal signed by Harper to ship more arms to the Saudis – the most brutal regime in the Middle East, and one of the worst human rights abusers in the world.

Saudi Arabia is also the country which is the primary arms provider and source of funds to ISIS and Al Qaeda. Principled foreign policy? This is not only criminally negligent, at best, to be sending more arms to the Saudi dictatorship; it is also a disastrous and extremely foolish policy which is guaranteed to blow back in our faces, as Saudi Arabia continues to fuel terrorism, even while it proclaims it is fighting it.

And along with arming the Saudis, Trudeau continued the bombing in Iraq and Syria, not only breaking his election promises, but violating international law, and thereby committing what are under international law, nothing less than war crimes. Yes, principled foreign policy indeed. Only now has this criminal and foolish behaviour and disastrous policy been halted – one point for which we can be glad in an otherwise dismal reign to date.

(And yes, it is a reign, when 40% of the popular vote can give you 100% of the power in government, and a four year coronation.)

And finally, Justin Trudeau promised to bring in proportional representation, to fix our quasi-democratic electoral system, and bring it into the 21st century, or even the 20th. So far, we have seen no action on this critical issue of democracy, and another Trudeau promise goes either broken, or simply ignored and abandoned.

Those were just election promises, right? Nobody takes those seriously. Well, clearly they shouldn’t when it is either the Liberal or Conservative Party in question.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth May, the only political leader in the country at the federal level who deserves to be called a leader, or who has any clue as to what is going on, apparently, or any spine, or integrity, or vision to bring to bear on the issues we face, is largely ignored by both the media and the people.

Are Canadians clueless, or are we simply a people that cannot seem to shake off a long tradition of public apathy? I think the latter is the case, and I do not know what will rouse them from their slumber, or bring them to their senses.

During the recent federal election, there was a wave of political passion across the country – which is to say, as passionate as Canadians get about anything other than hockey, beer and Tim Horton’s – as we the people decided to remove a much reviled Conservative government from power. Then we all went back to sleep. Or at least the majority seem to have returned to slumber land. What does it take to get Canadians to shake off their long-standing habit of apathy and complacency? I truly do not know.

March 2, 2016


Big oil, pipelines, Trudeau, and energy security for Canada

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2015 by jtoddring

Why does the Canadian government continue to subsidize the oil industry with billions of dollars a year when the environmental crisis demands the opposite, and when investment in energy efficiency, conservation and green energy create many more jobs? Why does Canada import 40% of the oil we consume when we produce enough to meet all our needs? Why has the Canadian government agreed to ensuring US energy security, under both Liberal and Conservative governments, but not Canadian energy security? Why is our per capita energy consumption far higher than other northern, sparsely populated nations, like Finland, Sweden and Norway? Why have we done essentially nothing to reduce our dependency on oil as our reserves dwindle, and very nearly nothing to reduce our carbon footprint and halt climate change? Because big oil and foreign powers rule Canada, is the short answer. But it does not have to be this way.

As to the Liberal Party win in this fall’s 2015 federal election, progressives across Canada are happy to see Harper go, but fully aware that the Liberals are only slightly better, and will require massive popular pressure if any real positive change is to come about. The worst have been defeated. The second worst have come to power. That requires action, not complacency.

Trudeau is still profoundly disappointing, and profoundly failing, with regards to energy policy, pipelines, tar sands, big oil and the environment – exactly as expected. We have to put sustained, massive pressure on him to make a shift. So far, he has behaved exactly like the “twerp” David Suzuki said he is. He has said that he is “disappointed” in Obama’s rejection of the Keystone pipeline, and has made no commitment to close the tar sands, or reject the Energy East pipeline, or to shift from oil dependency to a clean, renewable energy infrastructure. This is not remotely good enough.

Getting rid of Harper and the Canadian neocons was step one. Step two is to deliver real change – and that will not come from the Liberal party or Justin Trudeau: that will come only from the Canadian people. Stand up, people. The time is now.

J. Todd Ring,

November 12, 2015

Will Trudeau’s Pipeline Policy Change After Keystone?

As protestors staged sit-ins at Canada’s Prime Minister’s residence, Keystone XL Campaign Organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network’s Dallas Goldtooth and environmental activist Dimitri Lascaris discuss the grassroots strategies needed to keep the pressure on politicians

November 9, 2015 The Real News Network

Gordon Laxer on Canada’s Energy Security. – Novus TV, November 6, 2015

Justin Trudeau’s Big Renovations and Small Stature

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on November 3, 2015 by jtoddring

Justin Trudeau has said he refuses to move into the Prime Minister’s residence at 24 Sussex Drive until it has a multi-million dollar renovation. Estimates of the cost run as high as $150 million. $150,000 would provide a handsome renovation for any home, including that of the Prime Minister. Renovations costing hundreds or a thousand times that are not only excessive and wasteful, but should be viewed as a national disgrace, and not a matter of national pride. I think Trudeau Jr.’s stature is not fitting of his position. He is Prime Minister, not king, emperor or tzar. He should not be so juvenile.

David Suzuki was right, Justin Trudeau is an asinine little “twerp”. And the Liberal party is clearly insane as well as corrupt – just like the Conservatives. Surprise, surprise. Our new messiah turned out to be not so messiah-like after all.

The auditor-general apparently gave a report estimating renovations to 24 Sussex to cost $10 million. Even $10 million seems very excessive – if the cost was kept to that, which is doubtful – considering homelessness, poverty and issues of lack of clean drinking water in communities across Canada. Anything beyond that would seem to me simply criminal as well as insane.
Maybe we should build a model ecological home, very statuesque, but not garishly opulent or over-sized, and if that costs $10 million to make it a flagship for environmental construction and grand, environmentally sound homes, then so be it – at least it would serve some higher purpose. Otherwise, the price tag just seems offensive in light of pressing social and environmental issues in the country.
A typical home could have a major renovation, including new heating and cooling systems and new wiring, for under $150,000. Six times that, or roughly $1 million, would seem the sane upper limit. Beyond that, it is becoming nauseating – unless, of course, we want to aspire to Pentagon levels of corruption and waste, which I think most Canadians would find appalling.

Spending millions of dollars on a home renovation for the Prime Minister when people are going without affordable housing or clean drinking water, when there are homeless people on the streets in the nation’s capital and all across the country, seems like an abomination to me, and should be to anyone of sound mind and basic decency.

I would probably refuse to move into 24 Sussex Drive as well – but not because it is too shabby, but because it is too opulent. I’d rather camp out in a tee-pee behind the Parliament buildings and live there, and turn the Prime Minister’s quarters into a homeless shelter.

I’d tear up some of the grass and plant a vegetable garden, and install solar panels to power a stereo and laptop – my two concessions to the modern world. That, or better, for the sake of decorum, keep the grounds of the Parliament buildings intact, and live in a little log cabin in the woods, across the river from the Parliament buildings, outside Chelsea, Quebec, as I’ve done before, and would happily do again.

And where would the Prime Minister greet and host visiting dignitaries, if he is residing in a little cabin in the woods? Well, there is the Chateau Laurier, which is right next door to the Parliament buildings, and which is fancy enough for even the most vain and self-important of state officials and world “leaders.” And I believe there are one or two rooms in the Parliament buildings that are suitable for meetings as well.

Personally, I think that anyone that is so selfish, small-minded and petty as to refuse to move into 24 Sussex Drive until it has a multi-million dollar renovation, is not worthy of running a shoe store in the local strip mall, much less being the leader of a major country.

Justin Trudeau is finger painting his name and his own honourifics on his father’s shrine. It is disgraceful behaviour, not fitting of a back-bencher, much less the Prime Minister of a leading nation.

Justin Trudeau is no Tommy Douglas, no Nelson Mandela, no Dalai Lama, no Ashoka, no Aung San Suu Kyi, Gandhi, Zapata or Martin Luther King Jr., no great leader of any kind. He would appear to be, by all indications, a spoiled rich boy who is out of his depth, and lacking in both character and integrity, as well as judgement. The boy king has no clothes.

Some will find this critique of the new Prime Minister too harsh, but I think the selfishness and small-mindedness that has just been demonstrated requires a strong response, because it is an indicator of character and stature, or a lack of these.

Our “leaders” need to be held accountable. If the people refuse to hold their leaders accountable, and the political elite begin to feel they can do anything they like, without having to account for their actions, then things can quickly get out of hand.

Leadership is about service to the people – it is not about self-glorification or self-indulgence. Anyone who is confused about this is not fitting of the role. With great power comes great responsibility. It should not come with great vanity.

The era of infantile grandiosity must come to an end. The era of magnanimity must begin. If the country is not led by compassion, then it is not led, but degraded, and nothing good will come of it, I assure you.

New Leadership Urgently Needed For The US, Canada and Britain

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2015 by jtoddring

Imagine if Martin Luther King Jr., Tommy Douglas and Tony Benn were President of the US, and Prime Ministers of Canada and Britain, respectively. The world would certainly be a far better, more just, freer, more peaceful, and safer place. But we do not.

In all three of these “leading” nations we have neoliberal corporate oligarchy. Some may not realize it yet, but this is the case. A change in leadership is urgently needed. And that is up to the people, ironically, for only they can bring that about.

I would be happy to see Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth May and Jeremy Corbyn as President of the US, and Prime Ministers of Canada and Britain. Bernie Sanders has a real chance of doing just that in the United States. In Canada and Britain, we have a long way to go.

The US leads the Western nations in the race to the bottom, frankly, and quite clearly, in terms of the destruction of democracy, civil liberties and freedom, constitutional rule and human rights, the “third-worldization” of the nation, as Chomsky put it, soaring poverty and inequality, the destruction of the middle class, and in the creation of a neo-feudal, crypto-fascist rule by Wall Street and a democracy-loathing corporate oligarchy. The UK is a close second, while Canada seems intent on closing the gap, and catching up in that dire and dreadful race to oblivion – or return to the feudal age.

But while the US has gone the furthest of any “developed” nation down that dark path, it has also gone the furthest, at least among super-powers, in terms of a popular movement arising to resist and overturn the corporate oligarchy, and to restore democracy, constitutional law, civil liberties, and the rule of the people, by the people, for the people.

Canada and the UK, once again, have a long way to go to catch up in this positive regard as well. The popular movements are there, but they lack focus, boldness, vision, and broad popular support.

In Britain, Jeremy Corbyn has to get his party, the Labour Party, to move away from its relatively recent adoption of neoliberalism and corporate globalization, and its betrayal of the people in favour of submission to the banking elite and the corporate powers. He needs, in short, to get the party behind him, or with him, or else leave it, and create a new and bolder party – one with some basic integrity to it, and some greater courage than Labour has shown for a very long time, ever since Tony “the poodle” Blair took it in a disastrous and quite diabolical direction.

In Canada, we have the triumphalism of a Liberal Party win, with the media portraying Justin Trudeau as the new messiah. But the Liberal Party has been a party of neoliberal corporate patronage for more than thirty years now, ever since Trudeau Jr.’s father left the office of Prime Minister: so the jubilation is misplaced, to put it mildly.

Saviour, Trudeau Jr. is not. He is not even a leader. He is a cheerleader for the corporate powers. Mulcair is no different. The support for the agenda of big oil, pipelines, tar sands, free trade and CETA, prove this case beyond any doubt, with regards to both the Liberal and New Democratic Parties, as well as the Conservative Party – at least in their current incarnation.

Harper may have been an eager, even zealous servant of big oil and corporate powers, but Trudeau Jr. and Mulcair offer nothing of any great difference, nor do they offer any genuine alternative.

Harper set the bar very low. Ousting him was a good thing, but it does not mean that we have anything approaching an ideal government, or even a sane or responsible government. We have a government in service to trans-national corporations, and nothing more, all fanfare and hyperbole aside.

What would it take for Elizabeth May and the Green Party to come to power? Probably a popular uprising, and nothing less. We certainly cannot wait another four or five years, or longer, considering the pace of environmental destruction, and in view of the Liberal support for the tar sands and the Keystone pipeline.

But once again, in all three countries, what will determine the outcome, is not the presence or absence of leadership, but the presence or absence of strong popular movements which will force a change in government.

As always, it is up to the people. And once again, we must acknowledge, time is running out.

J. Todd Ring,
October 22, 2015

For further reading, and concrete ideas for social change, please see my recent book:

Enlightened Democracy: Visions For A New Millennium – available on Amazon now.

An Analysis Of The 2015 Election In Canada

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 20, 2015 by jtoddring

Well, the Liberals won. And hallelujah, and praise be to the Lord. Of course it is good that the Harper Conservatives are out. But let’s not get carried away.  We have a lot of work to do.

Because, as bad as the Harper government may have been, and was, and as much as it needed to be defeated, we cannot let the Liberals slide through the next four to five years: because they have shown such weakness, that that is an impossible stance for the public to take, to simply support them blindly. I know, the vast majority of Canadians have more passion about bacon, or doughnuts, than about politics, but this is the fact. And this statement about the Liberals is vastly too understated. I am being polite here. Maybe I should not be.

A Liberal win is just the beginning. We have seen a turn from Liberal to Conservative governments, and back and forth, over and over again. The people get fed up with the Conservatives, and then they vote in the Liberals. Then they get sick of the Liberals, and they vote in the Conservatives. How about we hold pressure on the government, whichever party it may be, and make them uphold policies that the people want?

Enough of voting in this or that monarchical power. How about the people taking the power back? Enough self-evisceration. Take your power back.

The media wants to portray Justin Trudeau as the savior. We have seen that before. I think he looks like an inexperienced kid, riding on his father’s coat tails – or, as David Suzuki said, a “twerp.”

Let’s not get too giddy about the defeat of Harper. Yes, he had to go. That does not mean that the all-knowing Queen Mom, or a white knight on horseback – depending on your ideology, or fantasy – is what we have in response.

What we have, by all indications, is a Liberal party in Canada that is ostensibly run by a child, with a party machine that is controlled by big oil and big business.

That is the reality of the Liberal Party in 2015. And it is a far cry from what most Canadians would hope for – and something they will likely tolerate for only a very short time.

Yes, it is good that Harper is out. But that does not mean that we coast, in true Canadian style, in apathy and passivity, until the next election.

I know, it is a lot to ask, considering everyone has such pressures on them: but hear me now – if we do not stand up for what we believe, and not just what we are opposed to, our country will drown, and we will, most certainly, drown with it.

This is only the beginning. Where we go from here, is entirely up to us.

Here are the criteria for sound and responsible government in Canada at this time – this is the critical test:

1. Shut down the tar sands. Every major environmental group on the planet says this has to happen. The tar sands amount to 2% of Canadian GDP. We can do better. The multi-billions spent on the tar sands in subsidies can be spent on green energy infrastructure, with more jobs and a stronger economy as a result.

2. No to NAFTA-based “free trade” agreements, such as CETA, the TPP and FIPA. Surrendering supra-national powers to large, trans-national corporations is not only anti-democratic, and foolish, but it is in violation of Canadian law – and the surrender of the powers of Parliament to a foreign power is the one law and transgression on the Canadian books punishable by the death penalty, as high treason, to be clear about the gravity of the action. Such deals are a definite no.

(See my articles on this subject elsewhere – I do not want to repeat myself again.)

3. Proportional representation – with no squirreling out of it, by way of obfuscating, disingenuous politics. If the Green Party, for example, gets 5% of the popular vote, then they get 5% of the seats in Parliament, and no less. Proportional representation without sleazy manipulations – period.

There is a serious popular movement with regards to the third point. There needs to be a much greater one with regards to the first two. But in any case, these are the three points upon which any government, Liberal, Conservative, NDP or otherwise, should most centrally be judged.

If the Liberal Party cannot deliver on these three points, at the very least, then we have cause for revolution. I know, the tepid thing to do would be to give the NDP a chance to also betray us – but we have no more time for that. Both the NDP and the Liberals have shown their allegiance to corporate powers. Surely, we can stand now.

I know, the Canadian habit is to suck on a soother, and hope for the best, but that is no longer acceptable.

Surely, after all we have been through, and seen, Canadians can not, any longer, take a back seat to politics, and complacently elect a new government that will do as they like for the next four to five years. Surely, we have seen enough, that we realize we must be involved. This is the least we can ask, and the least we can do. In a country steeped in apathy, surely, the call can go out for this much, if not much more.

I have faith in this country, and this people. We can do more than stand by, and watch our country burn to the ground.

Legalized marijuana, a slight decrease in middle class taxes, and a slight increase in taxes on the richest 1% – that seems to be about all that we got out of this election, and very little more. And it would require a very big bong for Canadians to be satisfied with that.

Justin Trudeau says Canadians “chose real change” in voting the Liberals into power. That would be hilarious, if it were not so sickeningly deceitful and hollow.

This is why I was furious last night, while the media talking heads and corporate poodles were euphoric and all a-gush over Trudeau Jr’s (or Jr, for short) win. Harper was a disaster. The Liberals will be only slightly less of a disaster. It’s good to see Harper go. But a win for the Liberal party is nothing to be jubilant about.

Harper was defeated. That is a good thing. But we cannot afford to be complacent in the face of this new Liberal government, which remains pro-pipelines, pro big oil, pro tar sands, pro free trade, and pro-corporate. On all of these points, the Liberals are a disaster in the making. We will have to push them hard. Extra-parliamentary politics have never been more important than now.

Forgive me that I am not with the media circus, in decrying Trudeau Jr. as the next saviour. I think we, as Canadians, are smarter than that. Let’s show strength. Press this new government on the issues that matter. This is not the end, but merely the beginning.

October 20, 2015

The ever-lucid Tom Walkom takes apart the rhetoric of the major parties with regards to the economy. (Walkom holds a PhD from York University in economics and is a long-time veteran journalist with the Toronto Star.) In short, all three major parties are a farce when it comes to the economy. They will have to be pushed hard on this issue, as with many others.

This Election Wasn’t About The Economy – Tom Walkom, Canadian Dimension

Where the parties stood on the issues at the eve of the election:

Voter’s Guide – Council of Canadians

Frankly, only the Greens have shown any spine, vision, integrity, or even basic sanity. The other three parties are supportive of disastrous “trade” deals, or more accurately, corporate rights deals, and in favour of tar sands development and pipelines. The first destroys our economy and our democracy. The second destroys our land and the earth. So the big three parties, including the Liberals, need to be pushed hard, if they are going to have any chance of doing the right thing. The battle has just begun.

Vote! Get involved, vote, speak, write, raise your voice – and get Harper out

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2015 by jtoddring

Whether you volunteer, write, canvass, talk to friends and family, or in some other way engage in, and promote, democracy in Canada, please do be involved.

Vote, encourage others to vote, talk about the issues, and let’s see a massive turn-out today, along with a lively, and much-needed, thoughtful discussion.

This is our country, and our future is at stake. If you’re not involved, get involved. It matters, and it’s never too late.

The work for peace, for justice, for environmental sanity and for democracy, is, and must-be, on-going. But today is a particularly important day. Make your voice heard.

Democracy is not a spectator sport. You either use your democratic rights, or you will surely lose them.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a walking disaster. He is the most reviled Prime Minister since Brian Mulroney, and one of the most loathed in all Canadian history.

Harper’s record is abysmal. He has been an utter disaster with regards to the environment, health care, social programs, the economy and democracy in Canada.

Stephen Harper has the worst economic record of any Prime Minister since WWII. He continues to attack and undermine environmental and social programs and standards, and seeks to eliminate and destroy all of the protections of the people and the environment which have been won over past decades and generations.

Worst of all, Stephen Harper is quite literally waging war on, and demolishing, democracy in Canada. He has to go. His big-oil, pro-corporate agenda has been a slow-motion train-wreck for this nation. He must be removed from power, and now.

Youth in particular need to vote. Millions of youth do not vote, and the majority of them are opposed to the Harper Conservatives. We need to get the youth engaged. They will inherit this country. Let us hope there is something left for them to inherit. And there may not be, if they continue to be apathetic and involved.

Spread the word: get everyone out to vote – especially the youth.

Today is the day. Let’s make it count.

October 19, 2015

Here is a letter from Avaaz – they are not always in the right, but they are right on this: urging all Canadians to make their voice heard.


A handful of razor-close ridings will determine who runs our next government. Person-to-person conversations have the strongest influence on how and whether people vote. Join us in a country-wide call-in to key ridings and help us take back the Canada we love.

I’ll volunteer

Dear friends,

Real change for Canada is within our grasp, but it could still slip away – Stephen Harper’s Conservatives won a majority last election with less than 40% of the vote and they could win again this time.

This election will swing on a handful of razor-close ridings across the country.

We need to win these ridings to win Canada — so let’s come together for a country-wide call-in, telling Canadians where the Conservatives stand on key issues and urging them to vote for a different party instead.

If we want to win back the Canada we love, all of us need to step up. Sign up for a session using the link below and we’ll give you all the information you need to help:


Research shows that person-to-person conversations about shared values have the strongest influence on how and whether people vote. With these ridings likely to be decided by hundreds — or even dozens — of votes, it’s no exaggeration to say that every connection we make could have an impact on the future of the country.

On the day of the calls, Avaazers across the country can log-in to a website that will have all the information you need to talk confidently to voters. All that’s needed is a computer and a phone (and don’t worry, no long distance charges!).

Voting can feel very personal and it can feel scary to talk to someone in a totally different part of the country about unfamiliar issues, but by our own small actions right now we can literally change how our entire country is run. The Avaaz community is about working together to courageously close the gap between the world we have and the world most people want. If we let our courage triumph over fear, we can help win back a caring Canada, with a stronger, sustainable economy — one that reflects the hopes and dreams of a real majority of Canadians.

Let’s make it happen:


The Conservatives have been in power for 10 years. We’re in danger of another 5 years, but not if the country pulls together in key ridings, and makes sure that locals elect candidates who will help us take back Canada. There’s no time to lose.

With hope,

Danny, Ari, Emma, Ricken, Melanie, Evan, Ben, and the rest of the Avaaz team

Authorised by Avaaz

(Go to Avaaz or other sites to see which ridings are most pivotal. But wherever you are, speak up and speak out!)


And here is a letter from the Council of Canadians, urging everyone to vote, and giving details about how to vote, where, and what you will need to be able to vote – as well as giving excellent background information on major issues, and why the Harper government needs to be defeated:

Dear friends,

Millions of people are voting for change.

In the last election, just a handful of voters made the difference in electing a majority government for the Harper Conservatives. This election could be even closer.

The power to decide the outcome of this election is in your hands. Be a voter, and bring as many other voters as possible with you to the polls.

What to vote for

The Council of Canadians is non-partisan and does not endorse any parties or candidates. But if you haven’t yet made up your mind on who to vote for, our voter’s guide highlights where the parties stand on key issues.

After nine years of job losses, health care privatization, falling wages, environmental neglect, eroding democracy, and cuts to public services, it’s time for change. But that will only happen if you go vote for it.

How and where to vote

Be sure to double-check your local voting times – they vary from region to region. By law, if you’re eligible to vote, your employer has to ensure you have enough time on election day to vote.

Remember, because of changes brought in by the “Fair” Elections Act, it’s best to make sure that you have the ID you’ll need to vote.

If you’ve received a Voter Information Card in the mail, you can’t use it as ID to vote, but you can use it to find your local polling station. You can also check with Elections Canada to confirm your polling location.

If you’re not yet registered, you can do so at your polling station. Just bring the same ID you would need to vote.

How to defend your right to vote

Changes brought in by the Fair Elections Act mean it will be more difficult for some people to vote this election. If you’re having problems, be persistent. A friend or neighbour can attest to your address if your ID is inadequate. You can also ask to speak to the Deputy Returning Officer or the Chief Returning Officer.

If you witness anyone being prevented from voting, or if you’re unable to vote yourself, you can report it at our new election monitoring service, VoteWatch. We’ll follow up after the election to discuss your voting experience.

It’s time for change. Be a voter and you can make it happen.

Our democracy is counting on you.

With hope and resolve,

Maude Barlow
Maude Barlow
National Chairperson

P.S. After you vote, take a “voter selfie.” Share a picture of yourself on social media with a sign about why you voted, using the hashtag #ivoted2015.

Election 2015 and Strategic Voting: Madness, or Practical Necessity?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2015 by jtoddring

An economic and political analysis of Canada, neoliberalism, and the world

Get a cup of coffee or tea, or a glass of wine, and settle in – this is not sound-bite commentary. We are going to dig deep.

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

It pains me to say it, but I was wrong. Strategic voting, at least in this election, is simply necessary – loath the practice as I may, and I do, that is the fact that I have been forced to come to.

Actually it doesn’t pain me at all to say that I was wrong – that was simply a figure of speech. Anyone who is pained to admit that they were wrong is engaged in foolish egotism. Everyone is mistaken some of the time. The intelligent thing to do is to admit it, correct the error as best we can, and as soon as we can, if not completely and immediately, if and whenever possible, and move on. The ego is a trivial and trifling illusion. We should not let it bother us, cloud our mind, or hamper us in any way – especially when it comes to the pursuit of truth, the speaking of truth, or the guidance of compassion, justice and love.

But let’s skip the philosophical asides, or end them for now, for the moment at least, and get to the point. Is strategic voting a legitimate, or even, a necessary option, in this particular election? I said, “No,” before, but have since changed my view.

After thinking more about Stephen Harper and his Conservative government, in light of the fast-approaching 2015 Canadian federal election, I have to say that Harper poses too great a threat to democracy in this nation to be permitted to remain in power any longer – and even if we must vote into power a party or a coalition that is far from our ideal, we must do so, because Harper simply has to go.

I am generally averse to strategic voting, although I certainly believe there are times and places, moments, when strategic voting makes perfect sense. My general feeling that is in most cases, strategic voting means voting for the lesser of evils, and that is still voting for evil, and hence, unconscionable, as well as foolishly self-defeating. But the Harper government pushes the boundaries of the normal, even beyond the normal insanity of contemporary politics, and exceptional measures are called for, because this is an exceptional case and time.

Reading further and more deeply about the Harper legacy to date, and the actions of the Harper government over the past nine years, it becomes clearer than ever that the Harper government is not only pro big-oil, pro pipelines, pro free-trade, pro corporate interests, and even, pro corporate rule, as well as neck-deep in an orthodoxy of neoliberal/neoconservative fundamentalism, which is, and has been, disastrous to the country, the economy, the Canadian people and the environment, just as it has been disastrous everywhere it has been adopted (as Naomi Klein vividly pointed out, in her excellent and extremely lucid book, Shock Doctrine). No, there is more than that.

If these were the only problems with the Harper government, they would be appalling, and he should be removed from power immediately. But, and here was my “but” – if these were the only problems with the Harper government, I would have to say, that the other major parties, the Liberals and NDP, seem to me only marginally stronger on all these counts, and have no real strength or vision when it comes to the environment, the economy, or democracy for that matter.

If these grave problems with the Harper regime were the only problems, then I would say, yes, this is an appalling government, and it should be removed from power – but the major opposition parties, the Liberals and NDP, are so weak, so feeble, and offer such little in the way of alternatives, that I would find myself unwilling and unable to support them or vote for them, even if it was only in order to remove Harper from power.

My argument was, and is, that the Conservatives, the Liberals, and the (tragically flacid and embarrassingly spineless) NDP, are all parties that have surrendered to the agenda of the big corporations. The Harper Conservatives are simply the most blatant and gleeful about it.

The Harper Conservatives, as with the Conservative Party ever since Mulroney, have completely abandoned the Conservative tradition in Canada, and have become a neoconservative party – a party defined above all, by a ruthless and blinkered defence toward, and service to, the agenda set by the largest domestic and foreign corporations.

Austerity, loss of rights and freedoms and political franchise and power for the people, with subsidies and tax breaks, an above-the-law status and full enthronement for the large corporations and the international business elite who control them: that is the core of neoconservatism. The racism, sexism, xenophobia and militarism are outgrowths of this central policy of putting corporate interests above the people, or retrograde ideological appendages to this central objective.

Neoconservatives pose as conscientious populists and fiscal conservatives, who’s central goals are to limit the powers of government, curtail excessive spending, balance the budget, eliminate deficits and debt, and restore and maintain accountability and sound government. But their real agenda is to enhance state powers in the service of the corporate elite, to transfer ever further powers to a supra-national elite who are above the government and above the law, and to further the entrenchment and expansion of a welfare state for the corporations and the rich, with austerity for everyone else. It is stark class warfare, in the name of corporate powers and corporate profits. The rest is window dressing, spin, or crass manipulation of the people by way of exploiting their fears and their baser impulses.

This explains why Harper campaigned on sound economic management, but has had a worse economic record than any other government or Prime Minister since WWII. The “sound economic management” sound-bite is a ruse. Only 25% of Canadians voted him into power, so the indication is that the majority of people do not buy into the hollow, and frankly Orwellian PR. But in a nation with an archaic first-past-the-post electoral system, such charlatans and posers can and do get elected, as we have seen, and may see again.

What is neoconservatism? Margaret Thatcher was the first to introduce it in the Western world, followed by Ronald Reagan. Brian Mulroney, Canada’s most loathed Prime Minister, first introduced it to Canada. And the Bush I and Bush II regimes, along with the infamous and most heinous Cheny, Rumsfeld, Woflowitz/PNAC cabal, cemented it in US politics.

(Bernie Sanders represents a firm rejection of both neoconservatism and neoliberalism – which is, in short, the agenda of the billionaire class, the corporate elite; and he may well win the US election, and begin to turn the country around, and rebuild an economy and a nation in tatters which now faces economic as well as social implosion. Let us hope so. Hilary Clinton represents Wall Street, as she herself admitted in the Democratic debate, on October 13 – she is committed to the neoliberal agenda, as her actions have repeatedly shown.)

Scholar, journalist, author, and former Wall Street Journal editor and US Treasury Assistant Secretary, Paul Craig Roberts argues, quite convincingly, and with abundant, undeniable evidence, that Obama embraced the neoconservative agenda of the Bush/Cheney/PNAC regime, and accelerated its two-fold key policy objectives, which were, and are, expanded wars of empire abroad, and a war on democracy at home – both serving to increase and expand, and to safeguard and consolidate the powers, the wealth, and the dominance and hegemony of the corporate elite who effectively rule the United States, along with most of the world.

This is Harper’s heritage, his ideology and his agenda. Harper is not a traditional Conservative. He is a neoconservative. It is a war on the people, in the name of corporate profits and corporate power. It is crass, and stark, class warfare, as Chomsky has described the general patterns of neoconservatism and neoliberalism (which are two sides of the same coin) globally. The business elite want it all, and Harper is eager to assist and serve them.

Neoconservatism, like its mirror image of neoliberalism, means “free trade” aggreements, such as the FTA, NAFTA, CETA, FIPA and the TPP, which are in truth corporate rights agreements, which grant powers to corporations that supersede and over-ride the powers of parliament.

It means other things, like tax cuts for the rich and the large corporations, privatization, attacks on unions and labour, austerity measures for the 99% who are not among the economic elite, cuts to social programs such as health care, pensions and education, and the evisceration and dismantling of such programs, deregulation, the gutting of environmental, labour and health regulations, and on the list goes. But the core objective is to open the economy to the free flow of corporate capital, making it easier for corporations to enter a country and extract wealth, and to move the profits to offshore accounts, or to move jobs and manufacturing to low wage, low regulation regions, and to generally do as they please in all regards; and it means granting the large corporations the right to sue democratically elected governments for any legislation which negatively affects their profits, thereby gutting and over-riding democracy, and creating a de facto corporate rule. This is neoconservatism. This is Harper’s ideology and agenda. It is, “Power to the corporations – and the people and the environment be damned.”

The Liberals and NDP, by contrast, have become the leading parties in the nation for the advancement of an orthodoxy of neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is the mirror image of neoconservatism, its political-economic and ideological twin. Neoliberalism is simply neoconservativism, with a kinder, prettier, gentler face.

The neoliberal agenda may lack the social conservatism, the racism, sexism, xenophobia and religious fundamentalism which tend to accompany neoconservatism, but it shares every other element – and every major, or central element.

Neoliberalism means, in effect, corporate rule, and a corporate agenda, but with a liberal face. As neoconservatism is the path to full neo-feudal corporate rule by way of the iron fist, neoliberalism is the path to the very same neo-feudal, anti-democratic, corporate agenda and corporate rule, with a velvet glove, and a generally better, and more slick, PR machine.

The Liberals and NDP, from all indications, are now the Canadian parties of neoliberalism: which means, in short, that the corporations make the rules – and the neoliberal parties put a pretty face on it, and make the poison more palatable, by covering it with sugar.

It does not matter whether the Liberals pretend to be centre-left or the NDP pretends to be social democrat – neoliberalism means catering to a corporate agenda, and the rest is either rhetoric, or PR gestures, designed to pacify the people. Of course, most people in these parties and most people who support these parties do not want corporate rule, or a corporate agenda, but the party leadership has caved into these dark trends, whether the party members and party supporters like it or not, or even realize it, as most clearly do not.

The majority of Canadians seem to act like this is 1975, and the three big parties still have their traditional roots, and some degree of remaining integrity – but it’s not 1975, and they don’t.

That was my analysis of the three major political parties in Canada, the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP, and I stand by it. What I do believe I was wrong about, however, was my response to this situation, in regards to this particular election.

I now believe this election forces us to vote for the lesser evil – something that I have never been willing to do before. The stakes are too high to do otherwise. But, and this is a very important qualification, we must be very clear as to what we are doing, and realize, that even if we do defeat Harper, this is only the beginning of the fight.

The acid test for any government, whether a coalition or a single party government, and the acid test for the Liberals, NDP, and also the Greens, is where they stand, or fall, on the corporate rights agreements now being pushed through, as well as those already implemented – the TPP, CETA and FIPA, along with NAFTA, all of which must be firmly rejected. Trade is good. Promoting trade is good. But we must be intelligent about what kind of trade, and what terms of trade, it is.

If we want trade – and trade is, or can be, a very good thing – we should, naturally, have something to trade, and not just trade away and sell off our natural resources. That means we need to make things, we need a manufacturing base, so that we have something to trade and to export. Selling off our resources, through an economic policy that is focused on resource extraction – such as the current Harper focus on the tar sands and oil exports – is economically foolish and short-sighted. Selling off our natural resources, rather than using them conservatively to foster the development of industry and manufacturing, is like selling off the family jewels.

A resource-extraction model for the economy is essentially a drawing down and a depletion of our capital assets. This is foolish, as I say. We need to use our capital and our assets more wisely – more conservatively, in fact – and invest them in the country so that we can, essentially, live off the interest, and not the capital. Business people and economists should understand this immediately. But we are pursuing the opposite agenda: we are liquidating our capital, and depleting it rapidly. And we will only make ourselves the poorer for it.

All Third World nations, as they were formerly called, or “under-developed” nations, when they have succeeded in building up their economies and raising living standards, have invested heavily in value-added industry, and shifted consciously and deliberately, and with great passion and determination, away from a resource-extraction economy.

South Korea did exactly this, and raised the average income from $82 a year in 1962, to $30,000 a year by the 1980’s, by precisely these methods, along with tariff protections for developing industries, and subsidies and investments in domestic industries – as every economically successful nation has done since the time of the Roman empire and the ancient Greeks, as Chomsky has pointed out, as as every honest or sane economist knows, or should know, ideology aside.

The “Washington Consensus” of neoconservative/neoliberal, “free market”, Friedmanite, Chicago School of Economics hogwash, is an economic theory, orthodoxy or ideology which works only for the corporate giants and the rich – but is disaster for the economy, as well as the vast majority of the people. Naomi Klein, Greg Palast, Noam Chomsky and many others have pointed this out, and made it clear. If we still refuse to listen, it is at our peril, and it is deeply unwise.

Canada is now doing exactly the opposite of what it takes to develop a nation economically, or even maintain its current wealth and standard of living. We are de-industrializing, and returning to the status of hewers of wood and haulers of water (except that now the emphasis is on oil), with a resource-extraction economy that is setting us back 100 years or more. The economic foolishness of this cannot be overstated. We are following a Third World model of economics, and the result is that we will become a Third World nation if we keep this up.

The IMF, WTO, World Bank, ECB, EU, Washington, WEF and the big corporations love this model, and are forcing it on the world, including Canada, the US, UK and Europe, because it benefits the global corporate elite. But if we have any remaining sense at all, we will reject this neoliberal/neoconservative economic model entirely, and now.

We need a manufacturing base if we want intelligent trade, and the promotion of exports in an intelligent way, and not deplete our assets, our working capital, by focusing on resource extraction. But NAFTA destroyed our manufacturing base, as it did for the US, and the majority of our manufacturing was sent to low-wage, low-regulation countries, such as Mexico and China. If we want trade, and we are intelligent about it, we will, therefore, need to rebuild our manufacturing base, through serious private and public investment.

What we surely do not want to do is to sign trade deals that are modelled after NAFTA, and which will further demolish what little remains of our manufacturing base and our export capacities. CETA, the TPP and FIPA are exactly the kind of “trade deals” that we don’t want. They benefit the rich and the large corporations, while further eviscerating the economy and wiping out jobs. They represent a foolish and utterly failed economic model, the model of neoconservatism, or neoliberalism. Or more accurately, they represent shrewdly designed agreements which benefit the large corporations and the financial elite, and are intelligently designed for that purpose, while severely harming everyone else.

More over, and more critically, signing “trade deals” which undermine public health, labour and environmental standards, which threaten and undermine health care, education, pensions and other social programs, and above all, which effectively over-ride and undermine democracy, and which give corporations powers over and above parliament, can in no way be supported, or tolerated. This is the line in the sand. This will be the central battle line.

The political parties which have surrendered to the utterly failed, yet still reigning orthodoxy, or better said, the ideological hegemony, of neoliberalism, such as the Liberals and NDP in Canada, are the slow boat to full corporate rule and the destruction of democracy – albeit, a boat bedecked with a big brass band and festooned with ribbons and bows. Harper wants to take us in exactly the same direction, and to the same destination (which, possibly, the Liberal and NDP party leadership fails to see is precisely where they are heading). He simply wants to take us there at light speed.

So no, from all we have witnessed, the Liberals and NDP present no genuine alternative to Harper. They are neoliberals, whether they realize it or want to admit it, or not. The destination is the same in the end. If they succeed in toppling Harper, that is good, but we will still have to fight them, in order to get them on a saner track, or they will erode and slowly dissolve the nation, but simply at a slower speed, and with a hollow pretence of righteousness.

But to return to the element which divides the Harper Conservatives from the other major political parties in Canada…

The other element that the Harper regime has brought in, along with a corporate-driven neoconservative agenda, is something that can only be called crypto-fascism. I know, that is a very strong term, but when you look at Harper’s sustained and viscous attack on democracy in Canada, there truly is no milder term for it that is appropriate.

I won’t speak of other nations here, but there are clear parallels in other nations and regions. The thing that divides Harper from the Liberals and NDP is the level of Harper’s attack on democracy.

The Liberals and NDP plead the case that they are the parties of the middle class, the parties of the centre-left, or what have you. But they are the parties of neoliberalism, and neoliberalism represents disastrous policies, in terms of the economy, the environment, in terms of social programs across the board, labour standards, wages and benefits, pensions, health care, education….and the list, again, goes on. Neoliberalism, like neoconservatism, puts corporations, not the people, in the driver’s seat, and shapes the nation’s agenda around corporate, not public interests. As I say, disastrous is the only word for it.

The Liberals, and even more so, the NDP, will adamantly assert that they are not parties of neoliberalism – or rather, the few people in those parties who know what the word means, will assert it – but their defence rings hollow.

Every Liberal government that has come after the government of Pierre Elliot Trudeau – who was the last of the traditional Liberals – was a neoliberal government, just as every Conservative government beginning with Brian Mulroney, has been a neoconservative government. Plead your case until the people are deaf, and sick of it, but your actions have spoken more loudly than your words ever can.

The last traditional Liberal government in Canada was that of Pierre Trudeau, and the last traditional Conservative government, with Joe Clark. Since then, for the past thirty years, we have had a succession of neoconservative and neoliberal governments, as corporate power laid siege to the major political parties and the political process, and the corporate take-over of Canada began in earnest.

Harper is simply the last in line in a succession of neoconservative and neoliberal governments that have placed their loyalties to corporate powers above the people. Harper represents the highest ascent to date of corporate powers, and the lowest ebb of Canadian democracy. But the other two major parties have followed close behind, in the race to the bottom, and in the service to trans-national corporate rule.

The NDP has slid so far to the right, along with the Liberals and the Conservatives, and the entire political establishment in the nation, since 1980, that they have essentially positioned themselves as the New Labour party of Canada. The new NDP wreaks of New Labour. And I am sad to say it, and I most definitely hope I am wrong, but Mulcair strikes me as the new Tony Blair – the corporate lapdog and the poodle of Washington.

I have near zero faith left in the NDP. They have sold their souls to corporate powers, from all that I can see, and pay only lip service to working people, social democracy, or anything that might serve the people of Canada in more than meagre piece-meal ways, while the country is dismantled by the very corporate powers to whom they have bowed down. Tommy Douglas would be appalled, and ashamed, I must say. The NDP has come a long way – down.

But as abysmal as neoliberalism is, and as abysmal as our options may be, and as abysmal as the Liberal and New Democratic Parties have become, a starkly anti-democratic and authoritarian crypto-fascist, such as Harper, who has shown nothing but contempt for the public, for public input or political engagement, for transparency, parliamentary process, science, public disclosure, free and open discussion and debate, and for democracy, is decidedly worse. The neoliberals are better.

So, as much as it sickens me to say it, I believe that, at least in swing ridings, where the Conservatives may or may not win, we should vote Liberal or NDP, or Green – depending on which party and which candidate has the best chance of defeating the Harper minion in that riding.

In ridings where the race is not remotely close, and where either a defeat or a win for the Harper Conservatives is virtually assured, then of course, vote your conscience. But in swing ridings, I do believe it is important to tip the balance, and, hopefully, remove Harper from power, or at least limit him to a minority government.

As I say, my analysis of the major parties in Canada, I stand by as generally correct – though I would love to see the Liberals and NDP find their spine, and become loyal defenders of the people and the land, instead of loyal pawns to Bay Street and corporate powers. But my refusal to vote strategically, which I still feel is generally best, in this case, should be set aside. Neoliberals are better than fascists. Harper has to go.

We will deal with the neoliberals next – and either force the Liberals or NDP, or both, to reject the neoliberal agenda of ceding vastly excessive powers and privileges to large, and typically foreign, corporations; or, if we fail to shift the alliances of one or both of these two major Canadian political parties, then we must abandon them, and seek other means of positive social change.

But first, let’s remove Harper from power. This man is more than a bad Prime Minister. This man is a menace, and a very serious threat to democracy in Canada.

My basic view is this. There has been a corporate coup in this country, and around the world, in the US, in Europe, and in most nations world-wide, and that corporate take-over of the political process and the governments of the world is on-going, and it is escalating. There is a full-scale corporate assault on democracy which is world-wide. Harper is gleefully in support of the rising corporate powers and the corporate oligarchy, and is eager, by all indications, to accelerate the demolition of democracy. The Liberals and NDP have shown no indication that they will seriously oppose or halt the corporate assault on democracy, or the corporate take-over of the nation – they lack either the integrity, the presence of mind, or the courage, at least to date. There is no reason to have any confidence in them whatsoever. The only reason to vote for them, is to remove Harper from power. And the best that we can hope to come from that, is that the Liberals or NDP, or a coalition of the two, would take a slightly slower path to full corporate rule. And that may be critical. That buys us time to build a pro-democracy movement in Canada to reclaim our democracy.

That we need such a movement, and urgently so, is not in question. And that added time that we gain by defeating Harper and removing him from power, may make a very big difference. This is why I now think, in this election, strategic voting is a practical necessity.

We have to slow the destruction of democracy, and slow down the corporate take-over of the nation, so that we have time to build a movement to stop it completely, and to restore democracy in more fundamental ways.

Vote Harper out. Then, we must prepare for the fight of our lives – for the fight will have just begun.

J. Todd Ring,
October 18, 2015

%d bloggers like this: