Tag Archives: afghanistan

A Dissenting Voice Against Stephen Harper

I never thought I could feel my reputation as a Canadian in the world was sullied, but then Stephen Harper came to town.

Under Stephen Harper, since 2006, Canada has enjoyed George W. Bush-quality leadership.

Rejecting climate change, encouraging destructive environmental practices like the tar sand oil refineries, creating division and hate between right and left, the Harper Government is anything but about bringing Canada together.

They practice active misinformation, enjoy peppering the news with stories aimed at distracting Canadians hot-button issues (by way of talking about changing Oh Canada lyrics, and other foolishishness), and use scary rhetoric on issues of catastrophic importance, like Iran (because, hey, war is good!).

Stephen Harper, like George Bush, seems to have a “divine right” sense of rule, like old-time monarchs who believed they came to power with their bloodline because the gods deemed it so.

The latest issues in Canada?

Harper wants to build more prisons. He wants to impose mandatory sentencing on crimes.

And he wants to give the government and law enforcement the right to invade personal privacy in email, on cellular transmissions, and more.

And, with a majority government, the odds are in his favour.

Oh, Canada… indeed.

I’m not the only one who’s concerned that the government is looking to expand the books on law, push for tougher sentencing, and increase incarceration capacities at the same time that they want to invade a nation’s privacy.

Hey, baby — incarceration is good for business when you’re trying to appease the big business that got you elected, like Stevie is. Here’s to self-incrimination and the web! Now, about those emails…

Aw, who’s kidding who? Nothing’s REALLY private on the web. Want private? Stay off the web. But that doesn’t mean I’m gonna sit by and watch more and more of my privacy erode with a great, big government-approved snooping stamp on a new law, thanks.

You can’t assume an entire country’s in on crime and throw open the doors to electronic monitoring. It didn’t work well under McCarthy or Hoover, and it won’t work here. Creating more paranoia and suspicion isn’t what Canadians need, Harper.

When I grew up, I’m sorry, but I grew up believing Canada was more free than the United States.

Pierre Trudeau said government had no business in the bedrooms of Canadians in 1969. We allowed free speech, but not hate speech. When slaves fled the US back in the day, they came here. My dad gave me a book on the Underground Railway when I was 10, so I had this pretty noble view of Canada in the world.

We had so much pristine nature, so many parks. We had so much to be proud of, and my parents raised me to believe that.

It wasn’t till I got to travel, see the north and the prairies, that I realised the immensity of how little a population we were in such a great, big land. Like a 5-year-old wearing his father’s clothing, there are wide expanses of beautiful nothing where population has yet to grow, even now.

These days, those naively innocent feelings on how great Canada is are a thing of the past, as much as I still love what being Canadian means to ME. I only dream we can bounce back after Harper with a leader who inspires people on the world stage, like Obama, who didn’t turn out to be the second coming, but he’s certainly sitting pretty now.

Under Harper, the erosion of privacy, the divisiveness, the refusal to work with — let alone not LEAD — the world on the issue of climate change and the Kyoto Treaty, elimination of arts and equality funding, our declining stance on human rights around the globe, and so many other issues make me cringe when I think of how far Canada has fallen in the eyes of the world.

Because it’s our fault. We haven’t allowed Stephen Harper to get into office ONCE. We’ve elected him THREE TIMES.

No leader of Canada has ever disgusted me as much as Harper does, and it’s the apathy of the voting public and the lack of turnout at polls that’s to blame.

Now, Harper and his henchpeople want to stomp all over your privacy.

Are you gonna let them do that? Or are you gonna take 30 seconds out of your life to sign this petition, to tell Harper, Toews, and co. to go fuck themselves when it comes to reading your emails and snooping on your phone calls?

Join OpenMedia.ca and fight the invasion of privacy that will tie up cops’ time and raise your utility costs. Sign here.

And start speaking up.

This is OUR Canada. Harper has a MAJORITY MANDATE until October, 2015. We need to stand together to keep the Canadian pendulum swinging too far left. I’m in. Are you?

As a Canadian, How I Remember

I remember waking inexplicably with a jolt at 5:45am PST.

As a child of the ’70s, in hindsight I’d now describe the jolt as “a disturbance in the Force.”

Something seemed wrong, deeply and pervasively wrong, but I didn’t know what.

I shrugged and got out of bed. I brewed the coffee, amazed at the deceptively silent and beautiful dawn rising outside. At about 6, I sat on the balcony, enjoying my coffee, taking in the warm, gorgeous September morning.

At the time, I had no cable TV. In 2001, the web wasn’t as accessibly streaming news like it does today, and I wasn’t tethered to things like I am these days.

Then, I had no idea our lives had all been altered in the preceding moments.

I showered and headed to work.

There, coworkers told me what happened:

Two planes, two towers, untold thousands of civilians, utter chaos.

The second tower had only collapsed about 30 minutes before I got in.

The significance hit me squarely. “This changes everything,” I muttered.

My coworker Leslie nodded, saying that, in less than an hour, the world her 5-year-old son would grow up in had changed forever.

***

I often forget that morning now, when the words “9/11” flash past in conversation or print.

I forget the fear, the uncertain future, the heartbreak. I often forget it all.

Now, “9/11” is not so much a tragedy that changed my perspective on the world as it seems to be a code for the politicization of ideals that polarize the Right & Left.

“You’re with us or you’re against us” were the words that soon would divide us all, months down the line, as 9/11 became a vehicle for political divide at home in America, and also became an ethnocentric push of the “American way” versus the world’s.

***

But, on September 12th, 2001, I considered myself not Canadian, but “small-N north AMERICAN.”

I wanted to get The Fuckers. I wanted bloodshed for my American friends.

I wanted to help, I wanted to pray, I wanted a million things — I wanted anything but to ever again see the image of people jumping from burning buildings to a certain but faster and simpler death, or that horrible mushrooming cloud covering city streets in dust and decay.

***

Somehow, in the months that followed 9/11, we lost the brief  closeness it brought us.

We lost the “we’re in this together” feeling that came immediately with the attack. We lost the reminder of how important community and camaraderie were.

***

I remember those early days, though.

There was a moment on the evening of September 11th when I was just stunned to hear laughter trickling down the street as young children jumped rope and rode donuts on their bikes. It seemed odd to me that happiness could be found anywhere in the world on a day like that.

I thought, in children’s laughter, innocence lives on. Maybe it could come back.

We still thought there were maybe 40,000 or more casualties that day. How could there not be? Well, the simple matter of the attack happening before 9, that’s how there could be less.

And thank the powers that be, too, that the terrorists didn’t time it “better” for the arrival of workers. After all, “maximum casualties” is their credo.

Still, as I fell into the endless loop of videos on the news, it seemed like happiness and hope died that day.

I remember going to bed on September 11th, at a loss for where my place in the world was.

Who was this evil, where would they strike, when would this end, why did they hate us, what did they pray for —  all these questions raced through me.

I felt like a zombie for days — listening to the radio, waiting to see how America would really respond, what the global fallout was going to be.

Like most Canadians, I knew already:

“We’re in it with you, wherever you go, if it’s to get the fuckers who did this, we’re in — lock and fuckin’ load, motherfucker.”

***

And Canada’s always been in it against Bad Fuckers with our buddies, the Yanks.

We’ve really stuck it out in Afghanistan. We’ve had a strong troop presence since Day One. We’re still there. It’s our way of life that was attacked that day, too. Canada had a lot of Canadians in those towers.

But, down south, with our good friends, the post-9/11 stance got murky and somehow the parties decided it was time to use 9/11’s attack for political means.

Somewhere, the message got lost — the people jumping from those buildings, the aghast onlookers on the street, the chaos and fear, that ALL got lost.

Wrong choices were made.

Wrong alliances formed.

Wrong goals set.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Did what happened in the coming years disrespect those who died that day? Did the politicizing of the horrors take America’s integrity out of those attacks? Did the day itself fall out of relevance in the stupidity that followed?

I used to think so.

I sort of forgot just how deeply 9/11 cut into my soul, how much it hurt me that anyone could have that kind of hatred for a lifestyle that they’d just blindly kill anyone they could.

I sort of forgot how much I learned about life in those days — how kind strangers could be to one another, how alike we all are when we cry and grieve, how strong we could be for those around us, how pivotal being a friend in a time of need could be.

The lessons I learned from 9/11 about the GOOD in each of us are what I want to remember for the rest of my life.

And, to do that, I need to remember how horrible it was for a little while.

***

This morning, I’ve been watching some of a History Channel documentary from 2008, 102 Minutes that Changed The World (aka “…Changed America“, its original USA title).

It’s 9/11 “as it happened” — unnarrated, unadulterated. Just amateur recordings from people on the street in Manhattan when the Towers began coming down, shown minute-for-minute as it happened, from hundreds of perspectives.

My heart’s been in my throat a lot.

Now I remember.

I remember how “tragedy” became redefined for me, and how now I think of heartbreak on a scale of Zero to 10, with 10 being “the big fireman in the street, staring in horror at the World Trade Centre, screaming and crying”.

Definitions of some words were forever altered that day for me, and when I think of some emotions, like “horror” and “fear” and “loss” and “terror”, I flash back to  faces from the news, of people on Manhattan streets, from the coverage that played for weeks following.

***

I don’t know where we are now… whether we’re a better people than we were before 9/11. I’ve disliked so much of what I’ve seen of people’s values in the years since — the forcing of prescribed morality by the Religious Right, the sanctimony of the “true patriot” ultra-conservatives, the horribly bungled military actions, the loss of rights for immigrants, the prejudism, the erosion of the economy.

9/11 transformed so much for us, even in Canada, but the almost-a-decade since has led to dark, dark times in America.

So… where are we now?

With the economy shape-shifting daily, people re-examining their values and material mindsets with an almost-Depression-era austerity, and everything else that’s come in the last decade, I’m hoping we’re in the process of finding who we are, much like Americans did in the late ’40s and ’50s.

I’d like to think what we’re undergoing societally is like spring-cleaning a house. First you got to get it really dirty, tear shit apart, find all yer crap, get rid of it, and then reinvent things from the ground up. Then, you have awesomeness.

If it takes me weeks to do that on the homefront, I can imagine it taking more than a decade for a superpower like the USA to get their shit done. It’s year nine, post-September 11th.

So where are we now? Where is America’s soul today?

I dunno. Somewhere between there and here… and There.

I think that if everyone looked back at the three weeks that followed 9/11, they might start remembering that, somehow, this worst-thing-to-ever-happen-on-American-soil horror managed to, for a very short time, bring out everything that the world sees as being the BEST of what America is.

As September 11th looms, I’d like to remind my American friends that, when the Towers came down, we were with you. When you went to Afghanistan, we were with you.

And when you really need us again, we’ll very likely be with you once again.

But the America we’re with is the America you are when it seems like there’s no hope, the America you are when you rail against evil.

The America we’re with is the one that celebrated the end of whites-only club the night Obama was elected.

The America we’re with is the one that rallied to help its fellow man in the days following Katrina, when the government didn’t even have its act together. It’s also the America that didn’t hesitate to show up first for East Asia’s Tsunami and Haiti’s earthquake, because its people expect nothing less of its government.

The America we’re with is the one that lets all people speak for what they believe in, that celebrates freedom of speech and equality for all, and who stands up for international human rights.

Luckily, most of the time, that’s the America we know & see, too.

Maybe, this week, with 9/11’s anniversary returning, Americans can remember who they were on September 12th, 13th, and the days that followed.

Because the world stood with America for a reason.

The terrorists never won that day, and if we remember who we are, they never will.