Archive | January, 2012

The rot of our political culture – Daniel D. Veniez

16 Jan

Published first in


On Saturday the Globe and Mail published a column by Bruce Anderson, a pollster with National Public Relations and a regular guest on CBC’s “At Issue”. Under the headline “Van Loan’s defense of dirty tricks debases Tories and degrades democracy” Anderson said there are certain “moments of great clarity” that answer the question as to why people don’t vote and are so detached from the political process.

Anderson was referring to the fact that the Conservative Party has been phoning Montreal Liberal MP Irwin Cotler’s constituents, falsely suggesting that he is leaving politics. And this, a mere six months after they won a majority mandate, albeit with the support of only 30% of eligible voters in Canada.

Government House Leader Peter Van Loan admitted that the Conservatives are behind this political hit job. Anderson called it “A sad, cynical moment in Canadian politics. This is wrong. Not clever, not amusing, not evidence of a more sophisticated political machine that works all the angles while others are asleep at the switch. Just wrong on every level.”

Indeed it is. But it scratches the surface of what goes on and how far we have descended.

Examples abound and there are far too many to mention here. Is it a coincidence that a few days before the last federal election (when it could do the most damage) we found out that many years before Jack Layton had visited a massage parlour that offered a few more specialized services? Or that former backbench Liberal MP, Blair Wilson, finds his life story splashed in a Vancouver Province “investigation” that subsequent court testimony reveals is largely false, and the work of political operatives?

A great many Conservative “black-ops” are currently under investigation by Elections Canada. In some cases, they are before the courts. The point is that none of this should come as a shock to any observer of politics and governance. And it is not limited to the federal realm. Just look at recent municipal and

provincial campaigns in British Columbia and elsewhere in Canada. What truly puzzles me is how elected office seems to have fundamentally transformed in the past thirty years. And what truly troubles me is how the Canadian public has thrown up their hands and given Mr. Harper a free pass on these flagrantly sleazy tactics.

Bruce Anderson refers to them as “grime”. Political practitioners tell you that “this is the game of politics” and all is fair in love and war. These are the people that look you straight in the face, and without a hint of regret or guilt, spin implausible stories that fit their narrative. Never mind that these mind-numbing and stomach-turning contortions are profoundly destructive to our democracy. For them, of course, that’s not the point. Political power and survival is. As Stephen Harper advisor has famously said: “It doesn’t have to be true, it just has to be plausible”.

We blame the structure of our institutions for the state of our politics and government. Wrong. The problem is the people in them, and for that there is plenty of blame to go around. Peter Van Loan is a symptom of a much larger – and deeper – problem. The Jean Chretien and Paul Martin regimes were no better. Neither was the NDP under Jack Layton. But in the case of this parliament and this government, the rot extends from the head down. And the head is Stephen Harper.


If there is no freedom in your workplace, there can be no freedom outside your workplace – Aaron Doncaster

15 Jan
Tyranny, oppression and exploitation are the antitheses of democracy. The amount of tyranny, oppression and exploitation in a society, depends upon the society that you have and the society you have depends upon what model you use to organize production.
In todays late stage capitalism the dominant work place is the fascist dictatorship known as the multinational corporation. There may be some choice involved when it comes to working at a state controlled company, a worker run co-op or a collective, but these choices are made with strings attached. The dominant workplaces, the multinational corporations will allow you to make these choices so long as your modus operandi is the continuation of the status quo(working within capitalism). If the modus operandi of building differently structured workplaces is to create a qualitative break with the status quo, then the state and capital will take that choice away from you. Anything like cooperation, collectivism and non-hierarchal organizing in the workplace that bites into the profitability of capitalism will be met with brutal suppression by capital and the state.

An example of this is when the physical workplaces of the Occupy movement (the tent villages) were destroyed by agents of the state while the agents of capital,(the media) assisted them. The initial stage of the occupy movement(the tent village) is not only a strategic tactic and a crucible,but is a workplace without bosses, where workers organize themselves in a non-hierarchal fashion and produce collectively. The workers produce, information,governing structures based on the consensus decision making process and most importantly a process of engagement with your fellow citizen whereby the myth that the individual exists separate from there environment, is smashed.

Not only is the surplus labor of workers stolen in a work place based on the corporate model, also stolen is the workers ability to build their collective moral compass. Once stolen from the workers, this ability to build a moral compass then is sold back to the workers in the form of ignorance. This ignorance breeds more oppression than was originally created by the capitalist mode of production. From what has been stated above, I think it can be clearly deduced by most readers that we cannot have freedom outside work if we do not have freedom inside work! Workers of the world unite! The only thing we have to lose are our chains!

Together, Occupy Love – Steve Loo

15 Jan

Dispelling the “Naive, Uneducated” Red Herring :: Reverb – Patrick Bick

10 Jan

I’ve helped run a few businesses, and that’s not a lot, but I can tell you that, for Occupy Calgary, running General Assembly at 3pm is a colossal administrative oversightColossal.

That engenders a demographic problem. The only people who can show up to say their piece are:

  • self-employed
  • under- or un-employed
  • homeless (which Calgary long ago disregarded as “transient citizens”)
  • those collecting a government dime (EI, disability, etc)

These are an important chunk of the voices that stand at the microphone.

You cannot reasonably expect the majority of those speakers to be highly-educated, articulate, and well-informed. Most people are not, and that’s not a character flaw. That is normal. Normal people have a place in government; they have a place in decisions that affect their well-being.

In large part (especially now), education is a function of economic prosperity. Thing is, we live in a society where money is a social necessity, such that we have more trouble seeing the value in people who have less of it. Occupy has shown that it’s willing to work with that sad problem, even if it can’t solve it.

This takes me to another, highly relevant point: most of the actual campers were homeless, and were, without question, in need. This is not surprising.

Let me repeat that.

This is not surprising.

We offered free company, food, water, shelter and amenities to passers by.Those in need will heed that call, particularly those that are not welcomed, elsewhere. It’s certainly not that they don’t have something to complain about (regardless of whether you view them as deserving or not).

To the idea that Occupiers are naive, uneducated, or just plain dumb

If the counter-arguments and disputes my educated, intelligent colleagues have had is anything to go by, we all are, because, as “smart” people, we’re expected to know better – to see these patterns for what they obviously are. I expect (however unfairly) that people who attack Occupy this way to recognize the blatant classism, hypocrisy, condescension, and fallacious, self-attributional thinking that pervades this kind of statement.

The people most likely to show for GA to be heard are also likely to have less education because they’re more likely to have a lower economic standing, and, ergo, a lot of shit to complain about. That, in some considerable part, we owe to the timing of GA. The reason more people aren’t showing up is because most of us are too busy trying to survive within the economic climate that fueled the Occupy movement in the first place.

And for those of you that might complain that all these people need to do is get jobs, I can reply simply: it’s not that easy. Everyone is scared; there’s a lot less of that surge of neurotransmitters that makes people go “this is a good decision!”.

Or, to put it another way, Republicans spent the first half of the year slamming Obama for high unemployment, and how the people don’t have any jobs. In the latter half of the year, they’ve talked a lot about how Occupiers need to get off of their asses and get jobs.

If you’ve seen those postings of people on Facebook, with their faces obscured by some piece of paper talking down “the 99%”, about how they’re just lazy, not working hard enough, and that they deserve whatever they’ve got, I’ve got a cautionary tale for you.

That’s it, in a nutshell, folks. Moving on.

What Is The Idea Whose Time Has Come? – Stephen Collis

5 Jan

Cross posted from OccupyVancouverVoice Dec 22, 2011

One of the most powerful slogans to come out of OWS is “You cannot evict an idea whose time has come.” I love this powerful conceptual meme (the phrase apparently comes from Victor Hugo).

It points, for one thing, to the fact that this movement is more than tenting in public parks—it’s about a conceptual shift in the underpinning ideas of our society—a shift that has caught on, and will survive the eviction of the physical encampments. But it does beg the question—what is this idea whose time has come? Answering this question goes some distance towards answering the common criticism of the Occupy Movement: “we don’t understand what you want!”

This is to some extent understandable, as the idea whose time has come is a very big idea, with many facets and consequences. This idea signifies such a fundamental shift in thinking that it is no wonder people might scratch their heads a bit. We have the meme. Let’s start the process of filling in its meaning. As we do so, we will find this idea keeps unfolding deeper and deeper layers.

The idea whose time has come is …

the idea that we can and should CARE for each other and the planet (I’m playing off something Vancouver occupier Tosh Hyodo has said); CARE is at the meeting place of LOVE and RESPONSIBILITY, and as a poet once said, responsibility is the exercise of our ability to respond; when we do so out of love, we are “caring” (as a verb: “to feel concern, be concerned; to take thought for, provide for, look after; to guard and preserve”)—what a different political and economic system it would be if we would truly work from and through this idea! Capitalism is built on self-interest, competition, and a seemingly “valueless” bottom line (profit and growth above all else)—the intersecting economic, ecological, and political crises now shaking capitalism have the same root: greed, the pathological idea of unlimited growth, and the tendency not to see someone else’s problem as our own—the idea whose time has come holds first and foremost that the days of apathy and not caring are over—

the idea that it is up to us to make the changes that need to be made(not some supposedly better informed “expert” or supposedly more qualified “leader”)—we can and must all stop now and figure this out together, pooling the common resource of our collective intelligence—and the idea whose time has come is that we can do this (the “Obama factor”—for all the disillusionment and failed promise of Obama’s presidency, his simple mantras—CHANGE—YES WE CAN—have resonated far beyond his ineffectual and in fact damaging administration)—

the idea that we must fundamentally change how and what we are doing—because the how and the what of the current system have led to a completely dysfunctional, unbalanced, and unsustainable relationship between the economic, environmental, and social spheres (see the diagram below)—this idea also includes the concept, very active in the movement today, that another world truly is possible (and so the idea that we must once again take up the project of utopia and activate our imaginations to envision and build that “other world”)—

the idea that we have a right to a future—that the current system is eroding and in fact robbing us of all our tomorrows in the name of excessive profits and unsustainable life-styles today—that we have to act now, with considerable urgency, to ensure that we have a viable, bearable, and equitable future for all human beings, and indeed a world of balance and health for the entire biosphere.

The idea whose time has come? What hurts you hurts me, and what heals you heals me. It’s time to let the healing begin.

—Stephen Collis

I do have a story to tell – Judy Lapointe

4 Jan

Alberta is definitely THE HEART OF THE BEAST.  Great poverty is created by great wealth – follow the money to find out who is mentally ill with their greed.  Alberta has more psychopaths causing more hardships then what is being reported – although it’s in our faces if we choose to face the truth.

The insane have this belief the homeless are lazy, ignorant and just want a free ride – the rich will always project their insane reality onto their victims.  it appears to me that the rich are the truly lazy one’s as they earn their living off the labour of others. It is the rich who are lazy and ignorant – this global collapse was created by very educated people, if you want to get ignorant get an education.

Reality is much different then a sick mind can comprehend.  A sick mind believes our Alberta Police protect victims and prosecute criminals but in reality while I walked into our Calgary police station and described the crimes I was the victim of – but I worded it asking the question “if I did this or that would it be a crime”.  Apparently they told me I couldn’t do the actions of my abusive ex husband as they would be breaking serious laws – which is what I wanted them to admit.  But when I said “Great I’d like to report a crime” the Calgary police told me “i can’t walk into a police station and report a crime, I have to make a phone call”.  Apparently you can’t phone in a police complaint, nor can you walk into a Calgary police station and report a crime.  Once I learned there are no acting police in Alberta I went outside and had myself a little cry only to have two Calgary police tell me – “look at you, nobody is going to belief a word you say”.  So apparently there is a look one must have in order for our police to believe you.  I can go on years worth of stories about our justice system and all it’s flaws but this is not about focusing on the problems but rather the solutions.

  1. Our education needs new content to teach – huge opportunities.
  2. our education needs a completely new system design – one that we all have opportunities in – huge opportunity for change
  3. our justice system admits it’s not perfect – those imperfections allow psychopaths to kill others and get away with it – it’s time we make changes within our Global justice systems – huge opportunity
  4. our media manipulates us all – huge opportunity for change
  5. politically – there is no way our system can solve social problems – they are focused on earning profits for the few and not the whole – huge opportunity for change
  6. economically we have a system designed to fail, things must be throw away in order to consume and keep this insane train running – massive opportunity for change
  7. our medical systems have lost it’s ability to heal – our medical systems is the heart of humanities mental illness.  No longer is the focus on stopping and preventing illness – our medical systems encourages us all to keep doing the wrong thing – live that unhealthy life style but here is a pill a few can get rich off as you die.  Our medical system cannot recognize causes – it cannot point the finger at a CEO and order him a doctor – there is no way of stopping a corporation from polluting and killing thousands of people.  We are getting sick from the types of labour we ware forced to do and no doctor will make that claim because we all have to work to feed ourselves.  We are getting sick from the products we are forced to consume due to our markets being controlled by large monopolies who pay to make laws to say the unsafe is safe.  Our medical system is completely dysfunctional and in need of major changes – huge opportunities.

This occupy movement is not gaining the respect it needs because nobody is talking about solutions – we are way to focused on all the problems – who is talking about what a fixed system looks like? How does the perfect system work for us all Globally?  When we are ready to get down to business and talk solutions then respect will be gained – who can handle that conversation yet?  Einstein said it best ” you cannot solve the problems using the same mind that created it” – we need a completely new mind set to understand our needed solutions.  We all have to admit we are wrong about something – who is willing to admit they are wrong yet?  If you can see all the changes needed and what it would take to create a perfect system – then even all Occupy Wall Street protestors have to admit they are wrong about something.  Only when we are all Globally ready to admit we are wrong can we comprehend what is right.

If anyone is out there willing to talk about solutions, I’d love to share my experiences and research – time to get to work as there are so many opportunities available right now.

much love