Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Transparency: The Dirty Window needs cleaning.

             The RCMP is investigating "G8 summit legacy fund" spending, citing a troubling lack of transparency in the administration of $50 million allotted to the riding of federal cabinet minister Tony Clement. Once again, the Harper government - elected on a platform of "law 'n order, transparency and responsible governance"- has left many with a bitter taste in the mouth through its blatant failure to live up to either the spirit or the word of its electoral commitments.

               Acting federal auditor John Wiersema recently decried the virtual total absence of a papertrail in the allocation of  G8 summit legacy fund monies: 

"Wiersema called the complete absence of documentation “very unusual and troubling” and said he’d never encountered anything like it during his lengthy career as an auditor."

               "Never encountered anything like it during his lengthy career as an auditor". That statement alone deserves a moment of quiet reflection. Just think who preceeded the Harperites: the Chrétien government and its procurement scandal! 

               LOL! You come off smellin' like s--t in comparison with THOSE guys! That ain't good. That definitely ain't good. Just think! It was exactly the public's disgust with the antics of THOSE guys which helped elect Harper and his crew in the first place! 

             And now.. and now, we find out that the Harperites are even creepier than the Chrétien crew: "never encountered anything like it during his lengthy career as an auditor"..

             Jeez! Are we being taken for another ride by another wing of the Old Boys Club?  

              And such transparency issues are a recurring problem with this government: this is not so much a glitch as a trend. Going back to March, accusations of attempting to hide the true costs of its budget policies flared, setting the stage for the last election. Guess we just like being whipped by these guys..

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Crysotile Asbestos: transparency or the lack thereof

          Asbestos, the insulating fiber, is a known carcinogen. The crysotile variant is less so but requires special handling to prevent inhalation of the carcinogenic fibers. Canada exports the fiber to third world countries like India from mines in Québec. The trade has been denounced because the "special handling to prevent inhalation" is rarely, if ever, achieved in the third world. See, for example:

           Why then does the Harper government continue to support the international trade in crysotile fiber when it is well known that lives in third world countries are being lost to lung cancer and other respiratory illnesses as a result of exposure to the fibers in unsafe working conditions? It is like a man profiting from selling hypodermic needles to junkies with the argument, "well, I don't know what they use them for". Out of sight, out of mind: it's a crappy morality..

           Less we be accused of Left wing bias - US?? - it should be noted that Canadian unions don't come out smellin' like roses either. As a group they have been internally paralyzed by Québec unions in the industry who have placed local job security over 3rd world health and lives. Short term logic of course: we save our jobs in Québec and to hell with Asian workers. Did no one tell them of "Divide and conquer!"

Friday, June 10, 2011

Tacky, tacky, tacky..: the face of populism in Canada

           Magnificent example of populist rabble rousing! Krista Erickson stands up for the "little man" - the eternal Taxpayer - against that nasty liberal / artist Margie Gillis. Gillis manages to come off with some dignity despite the ambush - good thinking Margie!

          Students of Authoritarianism (or aspiring führers), study the video carefully! Observe how Gillis' past statements are ripped out of context - "Canada not a compassionate society" - and then used to beat up Gillis. The internal dialogue of the viewer is being artfully programmed here by spinmeister Erickson: Oh! what a naughty, arrogant woman! how unpatriotic! and how terribly, terribly ungrateful, taking a million dollars from the Taxpayers in grants (over 39 years and for salaries for many aspiring artists, admittedly) and then claiming Canada is "not compassionate", tsk, tsk, tsk.. Oh, yes, it's all there, all the tools of the demagog's trade, masterfully - and yet apparently instinctively - deployed: the misquoting, the baiting, the rabble rousing followed by pandering to the baser instincts roused. Beautiful Krista, beautiful, you are a master..

           Aside from the tactics employed, the video is also a showroom of the populist psychology on many different levels (astute observers could list more):

- reduction of life to the purely quantitative: how much is it worth?

- behind the rhetoric of  hairy chested "individualism" and the incessant cant of "freedom" (or "democracy" in foreign affairs), the desire to suppress the natural diversity of opinion found in modern societies, the constant pressure to conform to rigid normes and to force others to adopt herd normes of conduct, belief, life-style, occupation..

             Presently reading "The Authoritarians", a free access online text by an American prof of psychology teaching at the University of Manitoba, another recommended window into the populist / authoritarian mentality:

(One wonders why he chose to do his research on authoritarianism from a base in Canada given that he is American and the US seems to be the major current source of authoritarian thinking on the continent. Did his topic of research put him in the way of too many stray bullets.. )

Internal blog link: later article on Krista's bullying populist attack on the arts