Saturday, November 17, 2007

Without Our Permission

This past week had me reflecting on many things. Some were limited to our current government, others were broader in scope, still though, with ramifications at home.

There seemed to be so much bad news. The war in Afghanistan brought us further allegations of torture, then Pte. Frederic Couture's suicide and of course the deaths of Cpl. Nicolas Raymond Beauchamp, 28 and Pte. Michel Levesque, 25 and their translator yesterday.

There was also both tragic and disturbing news about the RCMP. The recent deaths of Const. Douglas Scott and Const. Christopher Worden and of course the horrible tasering of Robert Dziekanski. I have not and will not see the video, but I have heard and read all I can bear about the incident. (For the record I cannot tell you how sad it makes me to see another damaging story about the RCMP. More about that tomorrow if I can.)

I was finding the tragedy of all these events a bit overwhelming and in thinking about them, I tried to find something to put them in perspective.

On the surface there seems to be no correlation between all of these events. I believe there is one though, and that is the militia mentality that now seems to permeate our society and others. It affects both the law abiding and the lawbreakers. (I would remove Pte Couture from this equation, except to say it must be incredibly difficult to ask for help when you've been taught to be the tough guy.)

The militia mentality is one that has been on the rise in general for the past 5 years for obvious reasons, though not justified in my opinion. We've seen it rise in many cultures playing out to varying degrees. Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, Burma, Pakistan are some literal manifestations of this of course, but those images are sent around the world so we too, in our own way have a sense of them.

In this country, the current government is all over this stuff. From their ridiculous terminology that most of us remember from childhood, "bad guys", etc., to far more dangerous actions. The all crime, all the time gang continue to push the "tough guy" mentality at the expense of any other reasonable approach to difficult situations. Calling those who are concerned with human rights and our obligations under the Geneva Conventions, Taliban sympathisers or worse, is but one example. They have no qualms in painting all who call them to account something akin to terrorists, or defenders of same.

Their initial cavalier response toward torture was unbelievable and considering what they apparently hid, it still is. The reversal of the practice of pleading for a Canadian on Death Row was another stunning development. I suppose you could go back to the Maher Arar case to really understand the mentality of many who now lead this country. It's frightening really.
That message has to trickle down to the few who are inclined and in a position to embrace it, especially when we see no counter balance to that mentality in the government. I think we may just be seeing some of the results of that posturing.

It's beyond misguided, it's dangerous. Their way is the only way. That in itself is not so unusual, most of us feel that, but most of us are balanced. They see no merit in providing balance on the other side. Programs, preventative measures and an understanding of anyone who may not think like them are irrelevant. No, there is only the side of what they perceive as good that is worth considering. Nuance, tact, diplomacy, social structures designed to assist the disenfranchised are not on the radar and yet that kind of thinking had brought this country so far. No longer, sadly.

By stealth and through ignorance, the government is slowing dismantling this country in my opinion. They are changing institutions but more importantly, they are changing the mood, pride and values that most Canadians hold and most non-Canadians have come to identify with us.

(I will say here that they outpouring of support for Robert Dziekanski at various memorials today, told me that overall, we still hold those values. The question is, how many are aware of how they are being eroded?)

Laws pass and that changes the face of things of course. Some that have been proposed recently are all about show with no substance. Senate Reform, Voting Regulations, dismantling of the Gun Registry, seat allocation in the Senate, Crime Bills, all of these bills demonstrate their narrow, vacuous view...but it's not restricted to what is put into law is it?

No. It's how the Government positions Canada at home and in the world.

From the change re' the Death Penalty abroad, torture and Human Rights, Kelowna, Kyoto, the Environment in general, our word vis a vis International Treaties, our well respected role of Honest Broker in the World, Poverty at home and abroad...all of this has changed dramatically.

Sadly, all of it was changed, without our permission.
Other changes: As they come up daily, (as they do), I'm going to link to them here. They have varying degrees of importance but they all eat away at the fabric of the country.
Hiding xenophobia behind whatever excuse is handy, here and here.
Discarding useful programs/projects for ideology, here and here.


The Mound of Sound said...

We have to start demanding our country back. Part of that is acknowledging what is truly great about Canada, stating that clearly and as often as we can. If not, we risk getting a Liberal party as tepid and bowed as the Democrats in the US. Bush and the neocons shifted the political centre in the US and the Dems lack the courage to reverse that and so seem content to be centre-right. The Dems are yesterday's Republicans. We can't let the Liberals do the same.

Anonymous said...

there are a lot of scary changes going on and I think it is time to try and boot these jerks out of Ottawa ...even if we lose ...we should keep canada as it is before unreversible changes are made.

Scotian said...


Here is a link regarding media ownership and the relationship between CanWest/Asper family and the Harper CPC. Thought you might find it of interest.

Just put the bottom half at the end of the top half with no spaces between them into the URL bar at the top of your browser to make it work. Sorry, I have yet to master the ability of creating links in comments.

knb said...

MoS, good point. I agree we cannot allow that to happen. I don't think Dion would let that occur, but if this goes on too long, who knows what might happen in the future.

knb said...

anon, I know how you feel, but I'm not convinced the timing is right quite yet.

I think more noise from the Lib's is needed at the moment however. When you watch panels of MP's, the cons get away with the most outrageous things. The media doesn't correct them. The Lib's try, but they have to be more forceful, imo.

knb said...

Scotian, thank you. Veerrry interesting as Don Newman would say.

I was shaking my head as I went through the article, not because it was unbelievable, but because it was.

What is tragic though, is the game that is being played at our expense. Something occured to me while reading.

Consider how Harper is still so peevish with and about the media. The media whine about it, but that too would seem to be part of the game as evidenced how they all flock like lemmings whenever he speaks. I know you have to cover the PM if you're in media, but when is the last time you heard a tough question put to the man?

I look forward to Edge's next installment.

I wonder where this is in terms of priorities for the Lib's?

Thanks again.

Scotian said...


Given what you have stated are your primary interests I figured this was something you would be quite interested in, and clearly from your response I was correct in that belief. As to the quesiton you point out, once CanWest broke ranks with the rest of the PPG boycott they effectively killed it and left the rest of the media in the uncomfortable position of either sticking to it's guns and letting one competitor get all the access from this government (which would not motivate the government to change its positions to suit the PPG) or they would have to acquiesce to the new reality and cover Harper and company despite his clearly unprecedented media controls and eerily similar to the old USSR style manner of disseminating information about what the government and especially the leader are doing. So what else could they do?

This is one of the reasons I thought this Tyree article was important enough to raise to your attention, it explains why the PPG has been unable to stand by their principles because a major component of that PPG is controlled by Asper who clearly was willing to bend to the desire of Harper and to hell with integrity in news reporting and not allowing the government to dictate such terms of coverage so as to maximize their media message control and turn media outlets into de facto propaganda tools of that government.

Like you I will be most interested in reading the remaining installments. BTW, Don Newman had an author on who wrote a book I have on hold from the Library that I think you might find of interest. The title was Unlikely Utopia: The surprising triumph of Canadian pluralism. I found the interview most interesting and it sounds like the writings clearly support my own views in this area, as my wife who was also listening to the interview said at the end of it that it was like listening to what she has heard me say for years and a little eerie feeling hearing it with such close similarity from someone like the author. Alas while I am the first hold on the book the library still has it on order and not actually obtained a copy yet. So in the meantime I get to read Fair Game, Valerie Plame's autobiography, also from the library and certainly a read I have been awaiting with baited breath for many weeks/months now.

knb said...

Scotian: it explains why the PPG has been unable to stand by their principles because a major component of that PPG is controlled by Asper who clearly was willing to bend to the desire of Harper and to hell with integrity in news reporting and not allowing the government to dictate such terms of coverage so as to maximize their media message control and turn media outlets into de facto propaganda tools of that government.

While I absolutely agree with you, this tells us what we are dealing with and experiencing. I'll deviate a little bit with this portion of you statement:

it explains why the PPG has been unable to stand by their principles

It does not tell me why they have been unable, it tells me why they have been unwilling. I'm not playing semantics here of course, I guess I'm just showing my dismay, disgust?, toward those who cannot find the courage of their character to oppose such measures from the top.

Is the risk of losing their job in the mix? Of course, but call me old fashioned, integrity still means something and I didn't care what kind of cushy job I had or what kind of promotion I was looking at, I have in my life paid the price for speaking out. I confess I have difficulty understanding those who don't. (Save of course those who are living hand to mouth in a temporary situation. Even those people tend to speak once out of the situation.)

Well, that's a whole other rant I suppose, but I do take your point and I will continue to look at this.

I'm not sure what this means, but I pass it along. I looked for Mark Edge's book on the Indigo's not there, though it is available on Amazon. That could be US/CDA timing so I won't go on, but it made me go, Hmmm?

About Unlikely Utopia, thank you so much for jogging my failing memory. I did not see the full interview, I caught only the close and meant to write down the name of the book. Michael Adams right? I'm going to go back to Newman's site because I think you can catch past programs there and I'd like to see the full interview.

Well off to the bookstore tomorrow, lol. Some women like shoes and I cannot say I'm opposed to that kind of shopping, but put me in a bookstore and you lose me for hours. Libraries are the same of course, but sometimes I simply do not have the patience.

Thanks again Scotian. As always, your contribution here is so appreciated.

btw, I had said I would write about the RCMP today, but I'm still too emotional I think and the subject deserves more reflection than that.

Scotian said...


Yes, Micheal Adams is the author's name. As for you and bookstores, well you, me, and my mother are all cut from the same cloth in that respect.

Dame said...

You are so right about assessing the BIGGER picture what is emerging and it is The taste of an Ultimate and absolute RULER some kind of totalitarian System with armed to the teeth and ruthlessly sweeps out of its way .
I am old lived through and vividly remember The German then the Russian Military occupation and the paralyzed life what people had for decades in my old Country ....
It may sounds a bit of stretch but remember Hitler came to arrive to absolute Power through democratic ways
he won gradually in elections.. and at some point there was no returning ...
we Liberals have to be far more forceful to prevent the dreaded Conservative Agenda