Denial Is Not Just a River in Egypt


by Roxanne Tellier

People are utterly fascinating, if you have the luxury of standing back and simply observing the way they think. Mesmerising, but oftentimes, head-shakingly and misguidedly, arrogant. Best to avoid them in groups.

Take this week’s Supreme Court decision on carbon taxes; in his decision, Chief Justice Richard Wagner wrote that “Climate change is real. It is caused by greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activities, and it poses a grave threat to humanity’s future.” 

He added,”The evidence clearly shows that establishing minimum national standards of GHG price stringency to reduce GHG emissions is of concern for Canada as a whole. This matter is critical to our response to an existential threat to human life.” 

Supreme Court or Santas in training? Your mileage may vary.

Under the Constitution’s “peace, order and good government” clause, aka, POGG the federal government has the authority to enact laws to deal with issues that concern the entire country.

Despite complaints from the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario, who argued that natural resources are the provinces’ jurisdictions, he ruled that it’s constitutionally permissible for the Feds to impose minimum pricing standards, based on the reality of climate change crossing provincial boundaries, and of being so great a threat that it demands a co-ordinated national approach. 

(I’m left wondering if he couldn’t have appended, “just like controlling this pandemic should be.” But that didn’t happen.)

Three of the Court’s Justices dissented, but not on the subject of climate change – that is simply accepted as fact. Rather, their concern was that the decision opened the door to further matters moving out from under provincial control, and into federalist control. In other words, the destruction of the planet by willful, but corporately profitable abuse, was, to their minds, of lesser concern than the provinces being allowed to maintain an exploitative control of power.

Flippin’ pancakes, hangin’ with the guys …

Minutes after his decision, the backlash began, not just from the provincial premiers who had launched the appeal, but from climate change deniers across the land. Although 97% of scientists believe that climate change is real and human-caused, one of our friends, who is on the side of the 3% who don’t, expressed outrage at the Court’s acceptance of human activities being responsible for the changes we’re seeing in our climate. He said he could produce at least ten articles from ‘learned professionals’ that disproved that fact. Hey – tell it to the Judge.

Well, tell it to the CANADIAN Supreme Court judges. In the States, newly confirmed Justice Amy Coney Barrett isn’t sold – she called climate change ‘politically controversial,’ at her confirmation hearing. She then added, “You know, I’m certainly not a scientist. I’ve read things about climate change. I would not say I have firm views on it.”   

In 2020, The majority of Canadians believe in climate change, but still debate how much of the damage has been created by humans.73 percent of Americans say that global warming is happening, and 62 percent of Americans accept that it is human caused.  

A lot of the blame for scepticism about the role humans play in environmental damage comes from people listening to politicians and thought leaders who downplay or outright deny eco-friendly issues. In 2019, after the leader of the People’s Party of Canada, Maxime Bernier, expressed doubts about the legitimacy of climate change, Elections Canada warned that discussing climate change during the upcoming federal election could be deemed partisan activity.

And of course, in the U.S. – trump. He believed climate change was a “Chinese hoax” and pulled the U.S from the Paris Climate Agreement. Getting America back in to it was literally one of the first things Biden did post inauguration.

Sure, Bernier and trump are not exactly MENSA members, but beyond that, it’s best to ‘follow the money, honey,’ because politicians tend to take environmental stances based on what the big donors to the party want done. In both Canada and the U.S., the corporations that most depend on producing carbon pollution for their profits never stop lobbying in their own interests. Damn the environment – full speed ahead!

Horrific natural events that were once limited to once a century frequency, are now yearly events. Whether it’s fires, flooding, or drought, the reality and impact of climate change cannot be denied if you’re impacted by the consequences.  

If the current situation at the U.S. southern border appears to be serious now, get ready for things to get a lot worse – and soon.

According to The Brookings Blum Roundtable of 2020, “the world is looking towards a future where these “unprecedented” storms are commonplace. This global challenge has and will continue to create a multitude of critical issues that the international community must confront, including:

Large-scale human migration due to resource scarcity, increased frequency of extreme weather events, and other factors, particularly in the developing countries in the earth’s low latitudinal band

Intensifying intra- and inter-state competition for food, water, and other resources, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa

Increased frequency and severity of disease outbreaks

Increased U.S. border stress due to the severe effects of climate change in parts of Central America

Climate change deniers will find the waters closing over their heads, like it or not, and whether they believe in it or not.  And if they’re Canadian, they might want to heed a recent scientific report from Environment and Climate Change Canada that reported that Canada is warming up twice as fast as the rest of the world and that this warming is “effectively irreversible.”   (climate change deniers underwater.jpg)

The only hope left for deniers is to print out their ‘evidence’ and stand on it. Maybe that will keep their heads above water for a little longer.

After the last decade of arguing with those who will gladly buy what conmen are selling, there are still times when I reel at how gullible even ‘book smart’ people can be at times.

Take the latest ‘former guy’ trump appearance on FOX on Thursday night. Trump had an interesting revision of the attack on the Capitol on January 6th. Despite every channel, including FOX, having aired live, unedited footage on that day, trump assured Laura Ingraham that his people posed ‘zero threat,’ even as he basically admitted to having sent them there, all hyped up from his speech earlier in the day. 

“Right from the start, it was zero threat,” he said. “Look, they went in — they shouldn’t have done it — some of them went in, and they’re hugging and kissing the police and the guards, you know? They had great relationships. A lot of the people were waved in, and then they walked in, and they walked out.”

140 injured police officers would beg to differ. One died after being assaulted, two others suicided days later, and yet another officer had an eye literally gouged out of his face. One officer suffered two cracked ribs and two smashed spinal discs after being beaten by flagpoles. Others suffered concussions, were punched, trampled, and sprayed with bear spray.

“I’ve talked to officers who have done two tours in Iraq who said this was scarier to them than their time in combat.”  Acting D.C. police chief Robert J. Contee III

No, trump, and Sen. Ron Johnson. These people were not cuddly patriots. They were seditionist rioters, intent on mayhem, and possibly murder, who could be heard chanting death threats against Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and several lawmakers as they rampaged. Had they been able to use the gallows they’d set up in the Mall to hang Pence, they’d have done so. And if they’d caught Ron Johnson instead, they’d likely have hung him in Pence’s place without a qualm. But whatever it takes for ol’ Johnson to sleep at night, I guess. 

“my life for you!”

Little lies and deceptions. Little twists in truth, the whispering of conspiracies about political enemies leading to bigger lies, and eventually the Big Lie, that simmers beneath Biden’s presidency.  America is on the brink of a Civil War, all because one man’s ego was unable to handle the loss of an election. Potential chaos is being catapulted forward by his cultist hordes who, like TrashCan Man in The Stand, whisper, ‘My life for you,’ as they torch their own families, jobs, and lives.

The Canadian Supreme Court’s decision on carbon taxes should be the definitive and final world on our country’s acceptance of the reality of mankind’s impact on the survival of this beautiful planet. Rightly or wrongly, that’s how democracy works; we appoint people who are deemed to be wise enough, and intelligent enough, to decide definitively what the country will stand for. Just as the information America received post-election should have put the stamp of respectability upon the Biden election win. But apparently there are still those who prefer their own interpretation of current events, no matter how skewed.

What scares me more than anything else about those that deny truth and reality, who refuse to take responsibility for the physical, emotional, or political future of their planet, is that I am just not capable of understanding that level of arrogant egoism. That kind of self-love is just so far beyond common narcissism, so mind-blowingly selfish and entitled, that it verges on an almost apocalyptic abuse of power. There is no defense.

When there are those that would condemn their own children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to the possibility of a planet dying by their own hands, or a future in which their children are stripped of all rights, simply to prevent their own inconvenience in the present, I fear that it will take something even more dire than a once in a century global pandemic to put humanity back on the right side of history.   

I’ll Take White Fragility for $300 Alex


by Roxanne Tellier

Earlier this month a meme starting going around that made a lot of people feel uncomfortable. The meme asked people to acknowledge that overcoming inherent bias, prejudice, and all the ‘isms’ was an ongoing thing, and that we are all ‘works in progress.’

I’m so tired of those that virtue signal, with various #NotAllWhatever hashtags. To hear these paragons of wounded nobility talk, they are the ‘exception that proves the rule,‘ because they’ve always treated women well, and never failed to give anyone of any creed or colour whom they’ve encountered, the same pure and unadulterated dignity, respect and opportunities as those that look just like them.

I rather think that anyone who COULD claim such innocence, is unlikely to ever do so.

As quickly as the meme travelled thru the internet webs, it just as quickly disappeared, which is an interesting commentary on how society is struggling with what those on the political right are calling ‘cancel culture.’ 

Times change. People change. All of this foofaraw over Pepe le Pew and six Dr Seuss books going out of print is an acknowledgment that what was acceptable in the past is now, upon reflection, not the sort of inherent prejudices we want our kids to accept with their juice and Goldfish crackers. The images that march from books and TV screens to parade across the blank slate of children’s minds form the basis of how they will think of the world when they are adults.

Being of French descent, Pepe’s presence in the cartoons we watched was a pleasant surprise. The kids programs available in the fifties were overall white and bland, so hearing someone who had an accent like my family’s was comforting. But upon reflection, while being included allowed me to feel part of a larger culture, the image of a scheming, lascivious, old lounge lizard who refused to take ‘No’ for an answer wasn’t really a positive symbol of what it meant to have a French heritage.

It’s not ‘inclusive’ if the only time you see your families in a drawing or story is when they are being portrayed in a negative or stereotypical fashion. Asians don’t have bright yellow skin; people of colour don’t belong in zoos with monkeys. But there was a time when it was acceptable to say and portray minorities in that fashion.

Inclusion is critical in making children feel safe and respected. It was only fairly recently that children of colour could easily find pretty dolls that reflected their skin tones. Although there had been some European doll companies that manufactured black dolls, most were caricatures based on the perception of those who might never see a person of colour in their entire life.

In the 1890s, Carl Bergner of Germany made a three-faced doll “with one face a crying Black child and the other two, happier white faces.” The National Negro Doll Company was founded in 1911 by American entrepreneur Richard Henry Body “after he tried to purchase dolls for his children but could find none that were not gross caricatures of African Americans.”

Prejudices, stereotypes, caricatures. With very few people of colour around me in my early years, I saw nothing wrong with having a Golliwog doll, and reading books like Little Black Sambo.

Mattel released “Christie,” the first Black Barbie, in 1969, but didn’t officially release an “African-American Barbie” or  “Latina Barbie,” until 1980.  

Fitting in, being accepted, looking and acting like everyone else, enjoying the same kind of foods – when I was growing up, minority children didn’t often get to feel automatically included, just as they were.

But times change, and people change, hopefully in a positive evolution. The discrimination of the past, the things that ‘everyone says’ or ‘everyone did’ may now look offensive, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you were a bigot when you said or did those things at the time. But it does if you continue to use terms that are cruel and offensive after society evolves and develops new language and terminology to reflect more inclusive views.

Much of the confusion over changes to our established culture is due to the Overton Window, also known as the window of discourse.  The Overton window is the range of policies politically acceptable to the mainstream population at a given time.

“The Overton Window is a model for understanding how ideas in society change over time and influence politics. The core concept is that politicians are limited in what policy ideas they can support — they generally only pursue policies that are widely accepted throughout society as legitimate policy options. These policies lie inside the Overton Window. Other policy ideas exist, but politicians risk losing popular support if they champion these ideas. These policies lie outside the Overton Window.

But the Overton Window can both shift and expand, either increasing or shrinking the number of ideas politicians can support without unduly risking their electoral support. Sometimes politicians can move the Overton Window themselves by courageously endorsing a policy lying outside the window, but this is rare. More often, the window moves based on a much more complex and dynamic phenomenon, one that is not easily controlled from on high: the slow evolution of societal values and norms.” Mackinac Center for Public Policy, mackinac.org

As what is deemed acceptable changes in our society, we may find that views we held previously are no longer appropriate. This means we have to rethink our own attitudes, and question how we came to those conclusions in the first place. Explanations – not excuses – for why we thought the way we did, when we didn’t know what we know now.   

People are tribal, at heart. We want our children to do well, our family to succeed, our ‘team’ to win. In a world where there are nearly 8 billion souls looking to get thru the day, it’s just easier if you know who is on your side, when the chips are down, and we like our clues to be shorthand.

My team must be the ‘good’ team, while the other side is, in our minds, framed as the competitors, and an impediment to our team getting what we feel it deserves. By definition, they are the ‘bad’ team.

Tribalism is at the core of every prejudice and bias known to man. Couple that with our brain’s need to categorize all the information thrown at it, and you’ll see how prejudicial attitudes tend to harden as we get older – with more contact with people that we feel confirm our initial gut dislike of the ways of the ‘other,’ we build a wall that keeps ‘our kind’ in, and ‘their kind’ out.  

Have you ever heard someone rail against the actions of another person who was preventing them from getting what they desired? Rather than realize that everyone works their own agenda, the righteously outraged loser of the situation will tend to categorize their opponents acts as archetypal of all people who are of the same race/colour/creed. They’ll come up with ‘facts’ supporting their right to denigrate ALL people from different geographic regions/ people of colour/Muslims because they’ve been thwarted from something they want, by one ‘representative’ of the group

When I was a young woman, there was an explicit bias against women in the work force. Older women had it especially bad, as they were often deemed of least value, and paid accordingly.

Good women didn’t ‘work,’ we were told, even when we could see with our own eyes that women never stopped working, whether it was in the home, in the field, or at a job, or sometimes, in all three. In many societies, it was ‘women’s work’ that literally kept the family unit alive.

And since women were not making the rules, or dictating policies, women who worked, willingly or unwillingly, had a long, slow stretch of years in which to slowly become a valued part of the workforce – as long as they would work for less than a man.

Times change. People change. There are now slightly more women on the planet than men. New statistics project that the United States will become ‘minority white’ in 2045, but only by a tiny percentage, since whites will continue to comprise 49.7% of the population. But the majority 51.3% is split up amongst Hispanics (24.6%,) blacks (13.1%,) Asians (7.9%,) and multiracial populations (3.8%.)

In other words, even the minorities are likely to be jockeying for position, while the previous white majority is already seething at ‘only’ comprising .3 per cent points less than half. And that is still 24 years away.

It almost seems to prove that those who, through a miracle of birth, were born exactly to the specifications their country demanded, have no intention of ever being treated …

… the way they’ve treated those born without those same gifts.

                     xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

A friend sent this link to me last week – lots of interesting ideas to mull over!

The Joy of Research


by Roxanne Tellier

Since the end of last year, I’ve been working on a mammoth project that I hope – fingers crossed! – to be ready to launch by the summer. Why is it taking so long, you ask? Why, because it is a multi-pronged, multi-media venture, and I want to get it right before anyone sees the finished product! 

I’m not going to go into the nitty gritty of my venture, but suffice it to say that I’ve really had fun working that three-year certificate that I took in technical writing and editing. It is standing me in very good stead, since having a firm grounding in research and how to explain things to people who want to learn about things, was the foundation of the course.

Writing courses, teaching people how to use technology or how to work with different media, is harder than you’d think. Most of us have taught someone how to do something; parents teach kids how to cook, make their beds, drive. Artists show students tips and techniques. Musicians have taught learners how to tune their instruments. And it’s great, when you’re one on one, and have a firm grounding in information that you want to pass on to a questing newbie, especially if they’re eager to learn.

But it can be a little more difficult if you’re trying to explain to someone how to use machinery, or how to understand computer code, or how to manipulate a complicated computer program. Especially difficult if you’re trying to explain something completely new and unknown, by writing down every single step necessary to get from A to Z, while bearing in mind that the tyro you’re training is quite likely to find some way to make a mistake that can potentially harm them, the machinery, or the program. That’s the essence of tech writing.

But the fun thing about this kind of writing, once you’ve become skilled at it, is that you can use it to explain how to do just about anything. If you can wrap your head around it, then you can potentially master a subject, and then pass on the knowledge by teaching someone else how to comprehend and utilize that information as well.

Learning how to learn

I’ve always had an ability to grasp the essence of how things work. I find it easy to learn how to do things that interest me. What I found difficult, prior to my course, was how to walk someone else through all the necessary steps. If you are a quick learner, you tend to glide over the tiny steps that are necessary to complete a project successfully. It’s the reason why so many memes (and columns!) have misspellings, bad grammar, or missing words – our brains charge ahead when we’re eagerly creating, and we see the end product, instead of the nitty gritty that makes up the whole.

Creation is one skill. Editing is another. It’s impossible to do both simultaneously, without sacrificing the niceties of one or the other.

What I’ve found the most interesting about this project, much of which I’ve researched on YouTube and on websites, is how open and giving enthusiastic amateurs can be about sharing information, tips and techniques. Granted, many of the people who are visible on video networks, or who have cobbled together a website that rises to the top of search engines, are people that are not just enthusiastic, and relatively proficient at what they do, but are savvy about self-promotion in the brave new world of the interwebs. I’m not saying that they’re all young and born writing computer code, I’m saying that those who are not, have had the good sense or good fortune to connect with people who can help them frame their work in a way that’s pleasing to people browsing the internet. 

As someone who just loves to lose themselves in research, the hardest thing for me is knowing when to stop. Like potato chips, it’s hard to eat just one! Each subject I chose to delve into is fascinating to me. I’m transfixed by those who are artistic and able to create beautiful things from next to nothing. And each time I find someone who takes a basic craft or tool and elevates the project to another level, it’s like Christmas for me. Such a gift they are giving to anyone interested in their métier!

Marketing product in today’s internet world is a complicated thing. While the gatekeepers of the past, those sentries who kept so many from getting product to market, are largely no longer at their posts, the flood of art and craft that flowed into the wide-open web spaces can be overwhelming in scope. Getting your product to the front of the line is nearly impossible. However, there are a few ways that may help in getting your work seen and/or heard by those interested in your particular niche.

Search Engine Optimizer

To create the skeleton of the project I’ve been working on, I began by internet searches. That led to websites, and videos showcasing a subject. While you can use an SEO (search engine optimizer) to parse the data that shows which sites and video links get the highest amount of hits, I looked for enthusiastic comments and subscriber figures to see which creators best made the casual or dedicated viewer excited and salivating for the next time their idol launched an email or video. 

I also spent a lot of time cruising the library data base to find books on the subjects that interested me. Some days I’d be ordering, and then picking up, 15 to 20 books at a time, only to quickly scan the tome, capture any images that inspired, and then return the book to the library, within a few days. Having access to the Toronto Public Library system, whether in person or virtually, is a boon to a researcher.

Once I had the framework for the books and PDFs I wanted to write, I began a deeper dive into branding. That led to another dozen books on creating interest on video sites, and of course, how to tie and cross-merchandise the information on multiple sites. (And don’t even get me started on merchandising! That’s another whole science unto itself!)

In the last few weeks, I’ve been deep diving into books on how to create and market product for the internet, which is where so many now reside. E-books, PDFs, audio books, websites, mailing lists, autoresponders, lead magnets – for me, I’d rather delay launch by getting all of my ducks in a row pre-show, then run aground from a lack of good marketing, losing potential fans and buyers after the fact.

It’s all been a wondrous deep dive into creativity, and my adventures down the rabbit hole would make Alice jealous. Every day I wake eager to learn more, and ready to tackle yet another program that will help me reach my goals. When you’re riding out a global pandemic, having something that keeps you interested without having to deal with other humans, is a very good thing indeed.

I’m nearing the end of the research, and getting ready to plunge into accessing some programs that I hope will increase my reach on the internet. And all of this comes BEFORE actually beginning the creative process of writing the books, which at this point, are merely outlines, copious notes, and chaptered layouts.

Computers and the internet handed us the keys to a universe of information. Everything you could ever want to know is just a few keystrokes away. It’s a cornucopia of delight to me. The least that I can do in return for these gifts is to try to help others to find the same pleasure in learning and creating that I enjoy.

Fingers crossed that I succeed, if only in some small way, in doing so.

My Fellow Americans


by Roxanne Tellier

It is believed that the first president to use the term “my fellow Americans” was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in his Inaugural Address of 1933. 

That was noteworthy, because, prior to that address, the more common way to refer to the people on Inauguration Day was as ‘my countrymen,’ or ‘my fellow citizens.’  This was the first time a president had opted to include not just all of those present, but to recognize that all gathered there, or around their radios, were one people, “one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Fellow Americans.

Every president since has managed to work the phrase into their speeches. It’s catchy, clickbait, if you will, guaranteed to confer the mantle of respectability to their words, even if their words were suspect or manipulative, as has often been the case.

Most of trump’s speeches, the official, archival version at least, began with the phrase. But, as a rule, those first three words put the lie to everything that came after, because if there was one thing trump specialized in, it was in dividing Americans. By the time he actually left the White House, he’d divided it so completely that there were only a handful of elected Republicans whom he considered the ‘real thing.’ The rest, those who disagreed with him, he dismissed as RINOs. (Republican in Name Only)    

This Saturday, the Democrats were able to pass a $1.9 trillion, comprehensive American Rescue Plan, that will hopefully begin to dig the nation out from under a disastrous year of disease and economic mayhem. The passing was never going to be a ‘done deal’ under any circumstances, but considering that every Democrat had voted to pass a much lighter version of the plan the year before, under Republican leadership, it was hoped that Republicans could show a similar decency in the recognition of the nation’s need, and work to get the funds out to those who needed it, in a timely fashion.

After all, this week marked a full year since most of North America began to shut down, and soon succumbed to the ravages of both a pandemic and an economic downturn.

Do you remember what it was like, in those first few months, when everyone was scared of catching this invisible new virus, and actually considered those working on the ‘front lines’ to be heroes?

Remember how people would come out of their enforced solitude to their porches and balconies around 7 or 7:30 pm every night, and start banging pots and pans to show their appreciation for the hundreds of frontline workers fighting the COVID-19 crisis?

Remember when some companies instituted ‘hazard pay’ for those ‘essential workers’ who had to be at the stores considered essential to our daily lives, masked and gloved, so as to protect themselves and others?

Do you remember when the Canadian government instituted the CERB supplement so that workers who could not work due to COVID had money to pay for food, rent and other essentials?

Remember when people started working from home, and Ontario Hydro actually reduced and capped their rates to give us a break from high costs?

Well, none of that is happening now, either here in Canada or down south in America. We’ve actually had it far better than the US, where more than half a million people have died, and more than 10 million are permanently out of work. In December 2020, 83 million plus Americans were struggling to pay bills or buy food, almost 40 million were facing eviction from their homes, and line ups at food banks around the country stretched for miles.

The American Rescue Plan should bring fresh hope to those suffering the effects of this crisis.

For people who make less than $75K a year, there will be one- time checks of $1400, as well as a supplement of $300 a week to federal unemployment benefits until September 2021.

State, local and tribal governments will share in $350 billion dollars, which means that essential services and workers, like police and firefighters, will be able to avoid job cuts. Schools will receive $130 billion, to allow safe re-entry for students, and to provide help with payments for food and rent for these institutions.

And most importantly for the future of the nation, the Plan could cut child poverty in half by the end of this year with its expansion of child tax credits, childcare subsidies and an expansion of food assistance.

Imagine that! Imagine that a nation’s children could be given a hand up and out of poverty, a true step to making a nation great in the right way – by allowing the next generation to grow up healthy and strong!

And imagine how empty and ugly a soul you’d have to have to decide that you couldn’t vote for that to happen, because it might make the new guy look better than your old guy.

My friend Lauren B. Davis recently put up an excerpt from a new book she’s written that is coming out in the fall, from Dundurn Press, titled Even So. That snippet contained a paragraph that struck me as a perfect allegory for the inexplicable fury that so many trump followers are displaying in reaction to the help that President Biden is trying to give their ‘fellow Americans’ in his Plan.

“Eileen did not tell Caroline about the time she was twelve, babysitting her little two-year-old cousin, and when the child would not stop crying Eileen had slapped him, hard, across the mouth. Oh, that terrible moment when, in shock, he’d stopped crying, his mouth and eyes wide and wild, and then, a wrenching moment later, the screaming had begun. Crying of an entirely different order, a wordless protest to the world’s cruelty and injustice and horror, having been betrayed by love for the first time. She’d done that, destroyed a child’s innocence, just like that, as her own had been destroyed by her mother with a similar slap. “  

(laurenbdavis.com/books/even-so/)

“a wordless protest to the world’s cruelty and injustice and horror, having been betrayed by love for the first time.”

The vehemence and rage exhibited by the trumpCult, every day since the loss of the November election, right up to the violent ransacking of the Capitol on January 6th, fairly reeks of this sort of juvenile trauma. Having pinned every bit of themselves to the Golden Heifer, some cannot and will not accept trump’s loss of the presidency. The loss feels cruel and inhumane, and can only be countered by a furious lashing out at those denying them what they crave, reminiscent of the other-directed violence of the child soldiers of third world dictatorships.

For many, their 2016 vote for trump was a vote for a new America, one where every one could become rich beyond their wildest dreams, just by getting rid of those pesky minorities and laws that limited the wet dreams of venture capitalists and billionaires. The Trumpian future had no limits, no brakes, no guardrails. Everyone gets a pussy to grab, they rejoiced!  

Even as those that pinned their hopes to this glittering star began to notice the glitter falling from the gilt, they kept their spirits buoyed by parroting the slick excuses, lies, and alternate realities that the equally tanned and gilded talking heads of his administration and of FOX News ranted into their ears.

While it might have gotten just a little harder to believe in that red hat, as the years went by, and the country devolved into angry factions, the faithful really hadn’t anywhere else to go, emotionally. They’d pinned it all to a pipe dream, rubbed on the snake oil, drank the metaphorical Kool-Aid. There was nowhere to go but ….

… to the Capitol, on January 6th. Spurred on by the acolytes of the Mango Mussolini and his spawn, egged into violence by Giuliani and the My Pillow Guy, fist pumped into a belief in their own righteousness, certain only that their Lord and Savior had invited them into the hallowed halls, and that little things like laws,  security guards, doors, or windows weren’t gonna keep them from following his injunctions to ‘stop the steal!’ and to heed his admonishments of Pence’s lack of courage in failing to overturn the election by building a gallows on which they could hang the traitor to the cause.   

Dozens of those who heeded trump’s clarion call to sedition are now behind bars. They’re facing stiff penalties, but for many, even worse is the sad truth, that trump didn’t save them from the repercussions of their acts, and doesn’t seem to care that they gladly followed him, right off the cliff, just as he’d hoped they would. They still believe that they are the ‘true patriots,’ since they contend that trump actually won the election, thus making Biden an illegitimate president, to whom they owe no loyalty.

The beliefs of a deluded few would be easy to disregard, were it not for the awful truth; 74 million Americans voted for trump in November 2020. That’s 10 million more votes than he’d received in 2016, an extraordinary jump in just four years, and unprecedented, in a country that doesn’t regard voting as much of a sacred duty at all.

While many of those voters were frightened enough by the events of January 6th to finally become disenchanted and disillusioned by trump’s thirst for power at any price, he’s still a strong force in the Republican party, and shows no sign of going away quietly.

Which leads to the biggest problem facing America today.

The Democrats can create and implement plans and actions to heal the country through vaccines and financial supplements, but there’s no antidote for the horrendous rift created by trump and his cronies, who successfully carved up the country into hostile factions, and continue to sow seeds of outrage and anger against the duly elected government.

There’ll be no real civil relief until trump and his Republican allies renounce and rebuke the Big Lie, that the election was stolen from him, through fraudulent voting and accounting, and that he, not Joe Biden, is the legitimate president.

The country will remain split in half as long as the trump faction continue to insist on their ‘alternative truth.’ Trump’s anti-democratic actions, will inevitably double down on an anti-democratic agenda that can only and inevitably end in a civil war

… and the possibility of no future president being able to truthfully address the American people as his  ‘fellow Americans.’

Eye Saw the Light


by Roxanne Tellier

I’m not a big fan of this ‘aging’ stuff. But unfortunately, dealing with all the things that can go wrong as our bodies mature beats the snot out of the alternative.

Sometimes the drama of politics has to take a number and wait for my attention. This was one of those weeks. I had some routine cataract surgery that didn’t go as well as planned, and it took a lot of strong-arming to get that rectified.

I’ve long had the reputation of being the loudmouthed rebel, who takes no sh*t or prisoners, either for herself, or for those she loves. Not sure if it’s the Irish or the French in me, but that’s just the way I’ve always been. If you come for my people, you’d better come prepared for a fight.   

Trouble is, that kind of white knighting gets a little harder every year. After a while you start to pick your battles more carefully, and less often. It takes a lot of energy to mount a successful attack against authority, and energy isn’t as readily available when you’re already down a quart due to health issues.

I’ve always been aware and concerned about the treatment of seniors. You know, it’s only in my lifetime that Canada has had a social safety net. We didn’t even have a proper pension plan until 1965. Some would say we still don’t, especially if they’re trying to stretch out those few pension dollars to cover living in a modern world.

Our societies idolize youth and youth culture. When we’re young, we cannot imagine what it would be like to be old. Those ideas carry their own seeds of dissatisfaction; realizing that we’re aging means that we have become what we once disdained. This can lead to depression and poor self-esteem.

I’ve always been attuned to how our society can unwittingly ignore the needs of seniors, especially those without a significant income. If you’re not a productive member in a capitalist society, then you are often perceived as less worthy, since you are no longer part of the work force, nor likely to be putting a lot of your income into the economy, beyond your own basic needs.

We make a lot of assumptions as well, about what seniors are entitled to receive. That cataract surgery I mentioned? You better have a couple of thousand put aside if you’re hoping to see through those aging eyes; neither the surgery nor the expensive eye drops are covered by OHIP or the senior drug plan.

Seniors often feel invisible when they have to interact with others. Is it apathy or discrimination that leaves some to be unattended in stores, or has cashiers failing to realize that old hands can’t bag their own groceries as quickly as the hands of younger people?

Public transportation, with its unpredictability, and often with lurching movements, can be dangerous for old bones.  Interactions with people in governmental or health offices can be authoritarian hell holes, when bored or disinterested employees fail to hear or respond to the queries of those who are already a little confused by how these entities work.  

I’ve also seen some alarming prejudice against seniors, when even the slightest bit of advantage is accorded them. The TTC had to resort to handing out special buttons that said, “Please offer me a seat” to remind the able bodied riders of simple courtesy on transit.  And at my local Loblaws and Metro, I’ve seen white haired seniors on walkers who dared to shop outside of senior hours be told to ‘get to the back of the line.’

The effect of the pandemic and ensuing yearlong lockdown has exposed a lot of anger in those who believe that things could get back to normal, if only the able bodied didn’t have to ‘coddle’ the old and vulnerable.

When Sweden (and the trump administration) talked about relying on ‘herd immunity’ to combat COVID-19’s damage to the economy, they were twisting a scientific concept to fit an unspoken prejudice against the elderly and the vulnerable. True ‘herd immunity’ happens when about 70 to 90% of the population have either had a disease, or have been vaccinated against that disease.

While proponents of this theory always hastened to say that vulnerable citizens would be isolated and protected, that was belied by the proportion of victims who succumbed to the virus while in long term homes, ostensibly as isolated and protected as could be.  What Sweden, and White House coronavirus advisor Scott Atlas were proposing was to simply let the virus run free, effectively sacrificing those whom they considered a drain on society, in order to keep their economies running smoothly.

And that’s all too reminiscent of the dystopic 1973 film, “Soylent Green,” in which the protein that kept the citizens alive came from the bodies of those making a final sacrifice, in lieu of being a functioning cog in their society.

Ageism is now thought to be the most common form of prejudice. You can’t discriminate against people of other colours or creeds, but too often, older people are fair game.

We boomers now live in a world where the population aged 60 or over is growing faster than all younger age groups.  In a study conducted at the University of Alberta in 2019, researchers found that discrimination against older people is a growing problem that will require a social awakening, akin to the gay rights movement. It was recommended that Canada enact anti-ageism legislation, as Britain did several years ago with its Equality Act.

There’s a big personal impact. Children see older people being disrespected and grow up thinking they’re useless and then they find themselves turning 60 or 65. We don’t expect or encourage healthy aging; everybody who hits 65 thinks it’s all downhill from here.

“If they think they’re useless and boring, how negative is that for them and their family? They don’t exercise, they don’t volunteer, they don’t keep working if they want to, because they feel this discrimination. They don’t go out and find a new mate if their spouse dies because they think ‘I’m next.’ There’s both a societal and personal impact to internalized ageism.”

In reviewing all existing studies on the topic, Wilson discovered that 48 to 91 per cent of all older people surveyed experienced ageism, and 50 to 98 per cent of all younger people admitted to having discriminatory thoughts or behaviours toward older people.

“We have a rapidly aging population in Canada that will jump from 19 per cent of the current population to 26 per cent in 11 years, but we’re afraid of that fact. Based on ageism, we think they’re a drain on society, and that’s where a lot of the myths and long-standing prejudices arise.”

Yeah, yeah.  #NotAllOlderPeople. Everyone’s mileage may vary, based on a number of factors, including our personal circumstances, health, and finances.

Life’s funny – things can turn on a dime. The person enjoying good health, emotional support, and a healthy bank balance today can suffer misadventures that turn their reality on its head, tomorrow. That’s the thing about life – no one gets out alive.

While much of how we see the world has to do with our own attitude, it really does help when we feel like we’re equal and respected within our communities.  

In truth, getting old is mandatory, but feeling old is optional. I hope to keep my sh*tkickers polished and ready to go when needed, whether it’s to stand up to discrimination against me, or against you.

Just .. take it easy on those ‘little old lady’ jokes, mmmkay?

Coming Down from the Sugar High


In the last weeks of January, and into the first two weeks of February, I was floating. I would wake each day, nearly bounding out of bed, and ready to take on the world. We were counting down the days to Biden’s inauguration, and even the horrific attack on the Capitol on the 6th was but a speed bump, easily acknowledged by both Democrats and Republicans as an obvious and seditious attack on the Constitutionally mandated work of the Congress.

The Dems impeached trump AGAIN. Biden was inaugurated without incident. And with trump silenced by Twitter, life was sweet.

Sadly, however, a few weeks sans trump had left the GOP with a bad case of amnesia, and, just last week, they yawned like teenagers through video evidence of trump’s guilt, and voted to acquit. 

I think it was then that the bubble burst, the sugar wore off, and I succumbed to serious lunch bag letdown.

My mania was entirely predictable; the end of the madness was in sight. For nearly five years I’d been banging the drum about the dangers of an unstable American president. I had spent nearly five years constantly on high alert, and I wasn’t even American.

I am not alone. Many in the media have mentioned that they’re still adjusting to their ‘new normal,’ of being able to set their phones down for the night without waiting for that ‘ding’ that used to shake them from an uneasy sleep with the news that there’d been a new tweet, a new horrific proclamation, a new addition to the litany of lies and fears and bullying. 

And yet. And yet. Some will admit to feeling a little – dare I say – bored? After four years of a constant, IV level epinephrine injection being propelled through their veins, life can seem a little dull, when the sounds of battle dim.

It’s withdrawal. Those who touched the live wire of American politics became hard core adrenaline junkies, as dependent on the ‘what has trump done NOW?’ news hit as any junkie who is frantic for a fix.

The dings and beeps and boops of cellphones and iPads were background noises that covered up the breathtaking realization of how close America was coming to losing her democracy. 

Seriously, even I could not have imagined some of the horrors that ensued during his reign of error and terror.

Worse still, there were times when I doubted my own thoughts, wondered if perhaps, I was the one that was deluded in my abhorrence of all things trump. After all, so many people, across all spectrums, (save minorities, immigrants, DREAMers and LGBTQ et al) seemed to truly believe that he was their Chosen One, the genius leading America to economic nirvana. Could it be that I was the one who was exaggerating, who saw parallels to Hitler’s worst followers and ‘solutions’ where none existed? That I might be, indeed, suffering from ‘Trump Delusion Syndrome?’

Could a stock market that absorbed every new presidential abomination by soaring to ever more unprecedented heights, be wrong?

Could I truly trust my own eyes and ears? Should I be ignoring all evidence of cruelty and rampant bigotry as figments of my imagination? After all, over 74 million American voters wanted him to continue what he’d started.

Was I the one that was wrong? Was I the one out of step with the crowd, out of touch with the times? 

I wondered if I could be somehow mistaken in my reasoning, even as Trump refused to accept the results of an election that his own officials had proclaimed ‘the most secure in American electoral history,” incited his followers to attack the Capitol, urged them to wreak their anger against his own vice president, then flounced off in a huff, refusing to acknowledge Biden’s inauguration.

And I second guessed myself, despite it being quite obvious that trump was treading on fascist territory, while his supporters created an imaginary foe they called ‘antifa,’ apparently unable to see that they were labelling deniers of trump’s governance as ‘anti fascists’ thus admitting that his governance was indeed fascism.

If what is true, if what is right, relies upon a majority, relies upon the victor writing history – what did that terrifyingly small (figuratively) Biden majority say about the future of America?

Anti-Semitism, weapons-grade misogyny, white supremacism, homophobia and quite horrible attempts to frame all Muslim people as complicit in the actions of any Muslim terrorist or criminal have moved squarely into the mainstream media. I believe this has happened precisely because divisive sloganeering and rancid rhetoric have gone unchecked. In short, people are not being challenged to justify their views, or to explain WHY they think what they do…

Fascism prevails when anti-fascists persuade themselves that what’s happening in their own country isn’t actually fascism after all, because “this isn’t 1930s Germany – this is 21st century America!” …

Trump’s legacy is clear: Fascism can happen here. And people that hate fascism, to give it a 21st century flavour, are currently called “woke.” James O’Brien, LBC commentator

It was a rough ride.

And then, on a bright day in January, this happened.

“I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy. I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real. But I also know they are not new.

Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we are all created equal and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, and demonization have long torn us apart. The battle is perennial. Victory is never assured.“  Joseph R. Biden, January 20, 2021

Biden’s stirring inaugural speech told America – told the world – that it HAD been as bad as it seemed, that America HAD come very close to losing it all, and that there still was a battle to be fought. He admitted that the heartbreaking fight between those who watched the horror with glee and did nothing to stop it, and those who believed in the ‘better angels’ who had always prevailed through all the struggles, sacrifice and setbacks the nation had faced thru the years, was real.

He assured us that the attack on January 6th was on democracy and on the truth. Objective truth. And that we were done with lies and cruelty.

Sometimes courage is just speaking up, calling out what you see, even when it’s not blindingly apparent, even when others try to tell you it’s not as bad as you think it is. It’s speaking out even when many you know and love cling to a would-be dictator, pretending to see his actions as those of an all-knowing, infallible quasi-God, because his voracious appetites allow their own greed and selfishness to seem ‘normal.’

There is no joy in being ‘right’ about trump. There’s no schadenfreude in watching his supporters in tears. There’s relief – but no joy.

And what is left?

The entire world watched a rigged impeachment trial and saw trump acquitted of inciting insurrection against his own country. Can any rational leader of any other country truly believe that the United States can be trusted again, when the votes of 74 million Americans showed their disdain for democracy?

What the world has seen is the tsunami of change that can happen overnight, brought about by the will of the voters. Are they to trust that, four years from now, the treaties and agreements they’ve signed under one administration, will be honoured by the next?

America has been divided into two camps. One camp believes that Joe Biden is not the legitimate president. Armed and dangerous, they lurk in the shadows, and plan for the next time they are called to do battle in the service of their savior.

“On Thursday evening, CNN reported that the close to 5,000 National Guard troops who have been stationed around the Capitol since shortly after the Jan. 6 insurgency will stay in place until March 12. If it seems odd that the Guard is still in place weeks after President Biden was sworn in on Jan. 21, the reason they’re sticking around is because of another inauguration date. That would be the Mar. 4 date when many QAnon followers expect Donald Trump to emerge from hiding to be sworn in as the 19th president of the United States. (Daily Kos, Feb 2021.) 

The deluded portion of the American population that does not believe or care about democratic principles, civil rights, or the rule of law, will ‘march forth’ on March 4th. They will obey what they believe is the will of their racist demagogue, unable to conceive that overturning the rights of the more than 81 million Americans who voted for Biden can never be justified by the demanding of their own rights.

And if they are not rewarded with the sight of their enemies hung for their sins, and the elevation of their leader to what they believe is his rightful place in American government, they will bide their time, but they will try again. And again.

In Biden’s first month in office, he has accomplished much to turn the ship of state around and to right many of the wrongs committed in the last four years. Every day, his policies and actions have chipped away at the assault against democracy perpetrated by the trump administration.

And it is good. It is a throwing open of the window and the letting in of fresh, clean air.

But those who would prefer the not so tender ministrations of the Republican party under trump continue to hamper these efforts.

“Our choice of leaders matters. Our respect for institutions matters. Trust in the democratic process matters. Freedom of the press matters. An independent judiciary matters. And it matters that America continues to believe itself a country that welcomes “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”  (Jake Cusak, Marine Corps office, in 2016)

America is learning that democracy is a fragile thing, and that the price to maintain it is constant vigilance.

And we who look on will continue to seesaw between hope and despair, placing our bets on the ‘better angels’ odds of winning over those who would bedevil the nation.

Doomed to Repeat


by Roxanne Tellier

When I was a kid in Montreal, most of the dads (and some of the moms) were veterans of World War II, and the Korean War, which had ended just a few short months before I was born.

People were more news oriented then, probably because so many of them had been newsmakers in their own small ways, whether as combatants abroad, or as part of the vast armies of civilians aiding in war efforts. Gathering to hear or watch the evening news was a sacred part of most family’s day.

When John Cameron Swayze, Walter Cronkite, or Huntley and Brinkley informed viewers of the day’s events, their words were accepted truth. A shared reality.

And nearly everyone knew of someone that had escaped the horrors of the Holocaust. The tattoos that signalled those who had been spared the Final Solution were commonplace; no one questioned that a horrible war had wreaked havoc on the lives of millions.

And yet, in 1959, 14 years after the end of World War Two, in an antisemitic publication called Cross and the Flag, Gerald L.K. Smith, an American clergyman, began to claim that six million Jews were not killed during the Holocaust, but had instead immigrated to the United States during that time.  In 1964, a French Communist who had actually been interned by the Nazis, published The Drama of European Jewry, in which he claimed that it was not Hitler’s scientists that had invented gas chambers; it was an invention of a “Zionist establishment.”

In 1966, the Libertarian periodical Rampart Journal began publishing articles which claimed that the Allies overstated the extent of Nazi atrocities in order to justify warring against Axis power, and by 1969, an American far right group that became know as the Liberty Lobby began to publish Holocaust denial literature.

In 1976, The Hoax of the Twentieth Century: The Case Against the Presumed Extermination of European Jewry was published by an engineering professor of Northwestern University, claiming academia bolstered his claims, and in 1977, Ernst Zundel, a German-Canadian, established Samisdat Publishers, in order to disseminate neo-Nazi literature which included the denial of the Holocaust.

At that point, the floodgates opened, and those who sought to deny history carved out a place so large in society that their gatherings and protests are barely even commented upon today. 

All of that went through my mind when I read that Michigan’s highest-ranking Republican, their Senate Majority Leader, Mike Shirkey, was caught on video calling the January 6th attack at the U.S. Capitol a ‘hoax,’ saying of the Capitol insurrection in which five people died, that “It was all staged.”

Shirkey was caught on video at a meeting he attended with Hillsdale Country Republican Party officials. At that same meeting, he used degrading and violent language towards Governor Gretchen Whitmore, asserting that “[Republicans] spanked her hard on the budget. Spanked her hard on appointments, ” and inviting the governor to a fistfight over her executive orders.  

“About half an hour into the video Shirkey can also be heard asking, “Why wasn’t there more security there?” (at the Capitol)  He accused Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of being involved, saying McConnell “is part of the decision-making how much security they have on stand. I think they wanted to have a mess.”

Shirkey made these comments just one month and a few days after the sack of the Capitol.

In 2021, we live in a very different world than that of 1945, when bits and pieces of information about the devastation in Europe came to us slowly, and usually in black and white newsreels.

For those interested in current politics, the January 6th revolt happened live and in colour, and over a period of many hours.  In some ways, it was like September 11th, 2001, in that these shocking events played out for us in real time, with no one knowing exactly what would happen next. As the marauders flooded into the Capitol building, the world held its breath, wondering if they were about to see the most horrific political assassinations in decades happen right before their eyes.

I will grant that my husband and I are both political junkies, and that we will often have CNN playing in one room, and MS-NBC in another. But about an hour into the events of Jan 6th, pretty much all of the civilized world was not just aware of what was happening, they were witnesses to American history being written.

And I’m going to hazard a guest that Mr. Shirkey was one of those who viewed the riots in real time.

And yet. Here we are. It has started. One month after such a traumatic event, Mr. Shirkey has begun what will likely become a flood of misinformation and lies, as actual history is contorted into ‘fake news.’    

“Fake News” … perhaps the most truly sinister of trump’s invectives, forever to be bundled with KellyAnne Conway’s further tortured manipulation of the truth – ‘alternative facts’

Yesterday, at the impeachment trial of the former president, who was charged with  “incitement of insurrection,” 43 Republican senators, who had actually been present at the riot, just one month before; who had had to run for their lives against a howling mob, thirsty for blood; who had joined in a partisan decision to allow U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, the officer killed during that riot, to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda; and who, along with other Congressional leaders, had promised his family and his fellow officers that they will never forget his sacrifice – forgot his sacrifice, and pronounced trump “not guilty” of the crime that murdered Sicknick.

For the last five days, the Democrats impeachment managers had built a case against the former president, showing that he had undertaken an effort to overturn the election, long before the election, and continued to sell his Big Lie for months after, before provoking the assault on the Capitol.

“If that is not ground for conviction, if that is not a high crime and misdemeanor against the Republic and the United States of America, then nothing is. President Trump must be convicted, for the safety and democracy of our people.”

Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and the lead manager

But the 43 Republicans who voted ‘not guilty’ were uninterested in reliving that traumatic experience. Some texted. Rand Paul doodled. Josh Hawley made himself comfortable, feet up on a chair, in the Gallery while he read a newspaper. 

For them, the entire impeachment trial was a sham. A fraud. “Fake news.”

And when Mitch McConnell, minutes after casting his own ‘not guilty’ vote, railed to the media that what had happened was a “disgraceful dereliction of duty,” and said that the former president had shouted “wild myths” about election fraud into “the largest megaphone on planet earth,” he seemed to have forgotten that it was he, Mitch McConnell himself, who had created the conundrum that stopped him from convicting such a dangerous creature.

McConnell called impeachment a “narrow tool” meant to remove an official from office, not pursue them afterward. This was based on his reading of the Constitution, not the vote in Senate that had indeed determined that this was Constitutionally correct. And it completely ignored the further truth, that it was McConnell who refused to call the Senate back into session to start the impeachment trial before trump left office. “Not enough time,” he claimed, although he had had no problem squeezing in the nomination and confirmation of a new Supreme Court justice just days after Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, in a time of plague, and days before a presidential election.

I guess he forgot that too. Must have been fake news.

Far too many of us have been conditioned to believe what men in high places tell us, even when it is patently observable that telling the truth would not serve their venal purposes. That’s partly how Western Civilization got into the state it’s in.

The impeachment trial showed, over and over, that trump was the perpetrator of the Big Lie, that trump had continually claimed that the election was rigged, and that he, not Biden, had actually won. And the Republican party stood with him and that lie, over and over, as the months dragged on, and as trump’s legal team lost 60 legal kicks at the can.

McConnell himself, then Senate Majority Leader, only admitted that trump had lost the election on December 15th, nearly a month and a half after Biden had won. And for that month and a half, McConnell was Team Trump, encouraging trump’s lies and delusions.

Lies and Fake News.

I’ve written before of how there’s been a sea change since trump’s banning from Twitter, and the inauguration of Joe Biden. We’re all breathing easier, sleeping better. It’s like the world has woken from a nightmare that 8-billion-people shared. 

And because of that, many are gradually beginning to doubt what they lived through, in these past four years. Could it really be possible that trump threw the world into chaos with his Muslim ban, just a few weeks into 2017? That he caged children, and separated them from their parents, without so much as keeping a record of which child belonged to which parent? That he launched a trade war that nearly cratered the economy, and threw thousand of family farms into bankruptcy, and then ignored a pandemic that has killed nearly half a million people in just ten months?

No – surely, that has GOT to be Fake News!

But he did those things, and so much more, and for dessert, he concocted a Big Lie that nearly overturned democracy in America. Even more, his clinging to that Big Lie may still succeed, since he’s convinced his motley cultists of that truth, and they are nothing if not loyal – to the death, or your death, if necessary.

Trump has still not conceded that he lost the election, and this refusal to abandon the Big Lie keeps it potent, keeps it as virulent at COVID-19, and enables him to continue to rally his supporters, and suck the last of their dollars from their pockets and into his own, all in a deadly inversion of reality.

“Finally, the managers warned that, unless Trump is stopped, he will absolutely do such a thing again. They pointed out that the riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, after which the president condoned the white supremacists who killed Heather Heyer, was a rehearsal for the attack on the Michigan state house this summer. That, in turn, was a rehearsal for the attack on the Capitol. As manager Diana DeGette (D-CO) said: “In 2017, it was unfathomable to most of us to think that Charlottesville could happen, just as it was unfathomable to most of us that the Capitol could have been breached on January 6…. Frankly, what unfathomable horrors await us if we do not stand up now and say, no, this is not America.”

Heather Cox Richardson, February 11, 2021

Trump continues to tell his Big Lie, and the ‘not guilty’ vote from the Senate has given that lie new life. In his post trial letter, he wrote, “Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun. In the months ahead I have much to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people. There has never been anything like it!

“We have so much work ahead of us, and soon we will emerge with a vision for a bright, radiant, and limitless American future. Together there is nothing we cannot accomplish.”

This signals his intent to return. He’ll give it another shot, and if you let him, this time, he’ll get that insurrection right. After all, he’s had all the practice shots already.

As attorney Glenn Kirschner put it, “follow the bouncing corruption. This injustice was a Mitch McConnell production. Mitch McConnell is where Justice goes to die.”

AFTER his ‘not guilty’ vote, McConnell said, that “trump’s actions were a disgraceful dereliction of duty. He is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.” And that “President trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office. As an ordinary citizen, unless the statute of limitations is run, still liable for everything he did while he was in office.”

But the ‘not guilty’ vote in the Senate created a new precedent. It has determined that a president can do all the things that trump did in office, and still not be convicted. A president can provoke an armed insurrection against the Capitol, and still be found not guilty.

Imagine the Republicans finding a younger, smarter, cannier, less incompetent candidate – perhaps a Josh Hawley – to elevate to president. There will be nothing to stop that candidate from doing exactly what trump attempted to do – overthrow the government – and to succeed, without penalty.

After just a little over a month, the denials have begun. The people are already beginning to forget some of the worst of the events they lived through during the trump administration. Soon, we’ll begin hearing some Americans saying that they can’t be 100% sure that the attacks on the Capitol even happened – even if they themselves were there that day. 

The Big Lie. Fake News. And somewhere in Florida, in a tinseled mansion fancifully called Mar A Lago, an old man is puttering around the omelette bar, sans wig or makeup, in golf tweeds, while the next ‘rough beast” “slouches towards Bethlehem to be born.”

Or perhaps that’s only in an ‘alternative reality.’

The Great Reset


by Roxanne Tellier

I’m still marvelling at how much more relaxed the world has become since January 20th. Feels like a luxury, not being on high alert every minute of every day, and I’m loving it.

As the fog of negativity lifts, there’s time to look around and marvel at how much our lives have changed, and will be forever changed, by our experiences. There’s no discounting that the very framework of our lives has been reworked by the ravages of COVID-19. Nearly everyone has lost someone dear to them to the virus, and many who became ill with the disease may have healthcare issues impacting them for the rest of their lives.  

We’ve often felt scared and alone, dealing with our concerns. Studies have shown that feeling happy and enjoying life have been associated with longer lifespans, and a reduced incidence of serious illness. Our attitudes define how we treat ourselves and others. COVID-19 greatly impacted our quality of life, and shut a lot of the doors that allowed nearly everyone, regardless of mental or physical health, to seek out healthy encounters and to be part of the cultural mosaic.  

The isolation can literally kill us. While some of us are missing our coffees at Starbucks, or our lunches with friends, others are suffering alone in silence, contemplating their own mortality. I worry about those at both ends of the age spectrum, since the very young and the very old are often at the mercy of caretakers who are under great strain themselves.   

The times, they are a changing, and more than just our lives have been upheaved; our economy has taken a brutal beating. Many have not been able to work. Tens of thousands of stores have closed. Our major cities will be reshaped as the bone structure created by small business and entrepreneurs fractures due to the loss of investments and opportunity, and is replaced with franchises. Our hospitality industry has been decimated. People in the arts, or those who work in fields that support the arts, have been either unemployed, or underemployed, for nearly a year.     

And strangely, the majority of people that continue to work during this time, often against their own better judgment, our ‘essential workers’ who toil in menial jobs that allow the rest of us to continue in relative comfort, are some of the lowest paid workers in the country. Meanwhile, their bosses, some enjoying six and seven figure salaries and bonuses, haven’t left the house in 12 months, and never missed a single paycheck.

Is it time for The Great Reset? That term came from the 50th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, held in June 2020.  They were originally more focused on initiating entrepreneurial solutions to handle the problems of climate change and achieve sustainable global development, but as the pandemic has dragged on, and dragged down global economy, the more imperative question has become how to move forward in sectors that have been devastated by the pandemic’s effects. 

“The Covid-19 crisis, and the political, economic and social disruptions it has caused, is fundamentally changing the traditional context for decision-making. The inconsistencies, inadequacies and contradictions of multiple systems –from health and financial to energy and education – are more exposed than ever amidst a global context of concern for lives, livelihoods and the planet. Leaders find themselves at a historic crossroads, managing short-term pressures against medium- and long-term uncertainties.

As we enter a unique window of opportunity to shape the recovery, this initiative will offer insights to help inform all those determining the future state of global relations, the direction of national economies, the priorities of societies, the nature of business models and the management of a global commons. Drawing from the vision and vast expertise of the leaders engaged across the Forum’s communities, the Great Reset initiative has a set of dimensions to build a new social contract that honours the dignity of every human being.” (weforum.org/great-reset/)

This has a lot of people quite concerned, especially those with a vested interest in squashing the idea of a better, brighter, more sustainable future. Within 72 hours of the announcement, a petition to stop it gained 80,000 signatures. A lot of people are very much afraid of not having the status quo to kick around any more – even if that status wasn’t all that quo to begin with.

Those who rail against Big Government, Big Pharma, and the Big Corporations are certain that these ideas are being put into place to either take away people’s money, guns and freedom, or, even more bizarrely, some conspiracy theorists believe that this would signal the beginning of humanity’s enslavement to the Lizard People. (Hard to believe they’d be any worse than trump and his cultists)

So, what does the Great Reset propose we do? Is this the best way forward for the planet, and all of the people who inhabit it? And who are the people that want to design and control the implementation of the plan?

Those that deny that a global pandemic is a cause for alarm are the same cadre who were the climate change deniers of the last decade, who subscribe to the age-old idea that we should just keep on talking about inequality, climate change, and the pandemic, without ever actually doing anything about these problems.

The Great Reset has been championed by global celebrities, like Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, cellist Yo Yo Ma,  andmodel Lily Cole, leading some to believe that these idealists are more interested in their own wish lists of progressive ideas, including a return to an independent media, support for the arts, sustainable architecture and demilitarisation.   

But at the core of the Great Reset is the request that every recovery stimulus, fiscal and monetary, ensures an inclusion of Green conditions. The reasoning behind that thinking is that any money tossed at the economy will likely help, at least a little, but why not invest in the planet’s future, rather than simply patch up its current wounds?   

If there are to be economic recoveries, the key lies in joining the need to create jobs with the need of most countries to sink more dollars into infrastructure, education, and health care. Creating jobs to further those endeavours puts money into the hands of the workers, who in turn, spend that money on their community and country’s businesses, ultimately making the economy stronger. Everyone’s quality of life thus improves.

The key is ensuring that the jobs being created contribute to the long-term health of the planet, rather than the depletion of scarcening resources.

It’s not surprising that some of the wealthiest people fear losing their ability to plunder the planet, and  are calling this agenda, “another example of wealthy, powerful elites salving their consciences with faux efforts to help the masses, and in the process make themselves even wealthier and more powerful.” (Forbes.com)

In Canada, Conservative member of Parliament Pierre Poilievre described his idea of what he believes is Justin Trudeau’s approval of the plan.   

“Last week, the presumptive finance minister in Erin O’Toole‘s “government-in-waiting” warned that “global financial elites” are attempting to “re-engineer economies and societies” in order to “empower the elites at the expense of the people.” Canadians, he said, “must fight back against global elites” and “their power grab.” He invited those who share his concerns to sign a petition calling on the government to “protect our freedom” and “end plans to impose the ‘Great Reset’.”

That certainly does sound like a frightening scenario. But there are some holes in the plot.

The item that so alarmed the Conservative frontbencher was a clip that circulated online last week of the prime minister speaking at a United Nations conference in September. “This pandemic has provided an opportunity for a reset,” Justin Trudeau told the conference. “This is our chance to accelerate our pre-pandemic efforts, to re-imagine economic systems that actually address global challenges like extreme poverty, inequality and climate change.”  (CBC.ca/politics/ Nov 27, 2020, Aaron Wherry, CBC News)

 Oh my yes! How very terrifying it would be to actually address such challenges! There are profits to be made, and profiteers to feed!

Those unable to contemplate change have seized upon a rallying cry attributed to Davos attendees. “You will own nothing, and you will be happy.” Were that the end of the quote, I might find it disturbing as well. But what it actually refers to are changes that are already upon us, and to come, based on actual changes to our needs and priorities. 

And the quote came from a series of predictions for what the world might look like in 2030, that was published in November 2016. It accurately noted that for many, especially in cities that ‘work’, there is no need to own a car, a house, or any appliances. All of these are rented, and you can leave them behind when you move on to another location. Products thus become services, not something to own, but to use and discard when their use is no longer necessary.

The other eight predictions include global carbon pricing, a lessening of U.S. dominance, a change in how we interact with health care providers, a move to a diet less reliant on meat, the testing of Western values, and the opening up of practical applications for space technology in order to move humans off Earth, and onto other planets. Much of this has indeed come to pass, just in the five years since the predictions were written.

(https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/11/8-predictions-for-the-world-in-2030/)

We often falsely believe that those who have become wealthy through commerce have society’s best interests at heart. But then again, we also used to believe that of our politicians, and certainly we can agree that that is no longer always true.

The Great Reset is merely a proposal; however, it seems more in keeping with the progressive direction that the planet needs to take, post pandemic, in order to ensure not just humanity’s survival, but the survival of our planet. We could do worse than listen to what is in the proposal. We already have.

Post Trump Traumatic Stress Disorder


by Roxanne Tellier

Eleven days post the Biden Inauguration, and I’m still on a high. It’s not about Joe Biden per se, nor even the wonder of the first black, South Asian-American female vice-president in history in the form of Kamala Harris. It’s not even about the days starting to get a little longer, with the sun coming up a little earlier every day.

No, it’s so much more than that.      

This high started when trump was unceremoniously and ignominiously booted off Twitter on January 8th, two days after the riot of January 6th.

“After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence…

Our public interest framework exists to enable the public to hear from elected officials and world leaders directly. It is built on a principle that the people have a right to hold power to account in the open.

However, we made it clear going back years that these accounts are not above our rules entirely and cannot use Twitter to incite violence, among other things. We will continue to be transparent around our policies and their enforcement. “   

Twitter Inc.

It was astounding how quickly the temperature of social unrest dropped. Within hours, the silence was deafening. And oh, so very, very welcome, after more than four years of increasingly manic, psychotic, delusional and authoritarian tweets designed to condition his cult followers into demanding trump’s elevation to dictator of the nation.

Still, so many of us waited with held breath, unable to believe that the nation had actually escaped the hostage situation it had been held in since January 20th 2017.

Post Trump Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s a thing. For the last four years, America and those who watch her, have been gripped in the paw of a giant, insatiable ego of a man-child, whose gift of creating constant chaos prevented any agency, whistleblower, or potential traffic cop from stopping his reign of error and terror.

Every day was an exercise in a retreat from decades of progress in civil rights, and an assault on how best to suppress votes, allow nauseating police misconduct, defy hard won protections against discrimination against minorities, and to strip from citizens what was left of their health care and social safety net.  

We watched social and mass media, along with trump’s administration, and his devoted base, indulge in a shared psychosis, where the ability to perceive right from wrong became moot, and the only alternative to a trump defence was to confess to a castrating admission of being wrong.

Those who cried out for justice received none. There was no cavalry coming to save the day.            

And so, like the victims of domestic abusers, we happily anticipated the Inauguration and its beautiful and touching celebrations, while we also feared and dreaded what might occur, based on the wrath of trump’s delusional supporters.

That is actually what his followers believed, and still wish to happen, even as January changes to February, and March 4th approaches.

“Social media users have been sharing posts that make various claims related to the QAnon conspiracy theory, including that Martial Law and the Insurrection Act have been invoked; power has been transferred from outgoing President Trump to the military, not President Joe Biden; there have been mass arrests; Biden is not President; and Trump will come back to power on March 4th. There is no evidence to support any of these claims, linked to the widely debunked QAnon conspiracy theory.”

January 22, 2021, Reuters.com

Like hostage victims, like prisoners in war camps, like those who tremble under horrific domestic abuse, Americans have been made fearful and emotionally damaged by the abuse of trump’s followers.

Trumpism is a death cult. Trumpists are willing to die for him, be it by failure to protect themselves against the disease he proclaimed a ‘hoax,’ or in interactions with authorities. Trumpists are willing to kill, whether it be anyone on social media or in real life who disagrees with their contentions, or in storming the Capitol in order to hang Vice-President Pence for failing to block the vote certifying Biden’s electoral win, or, as in the case of one man’s fantasy, to “put a bullet in Nancy Pelosi’s noggin on live TV.”   

All to keep trump in power.   

The images we saw of the insurrectionists storming, sacking, defiling, and searching for elected representatives that they wanted to murder, were disturbing, to put it mildly. As the days go by, and we are privy to more information that confirms that the attack was, in fact, plotted and planned in advance, it’s only natural that Americans, and those that care about the nation and it’s people, are suffering from a PTSD similar to what any person who served in a war zone might experience. We are in recovery.

Under the circumstances, it shouldn’t be surprising that many people continue to look over their shoulders, unable to believe that the Trump Error is really over; we are in a collective mourning.

After four years of watching America’s democratic framework be worked over like Fury pummelled Wilder, it’s no surprise that many continue to feel unsafe and vulnerable. Trump’s behavior towards the American people looks very much like that of a domestic abuser. He was further abetted in his sadistic efforts by the people he chose to head up important cabinets controlling the nation’s emergency and safety nets. These machinations left no escape route for those most damaged by his decisions.

Even before the horrendous incompetence the trump admin showed in handling COVID-19, which has led to over 440,000 American deaths in less than one year, (and still counting), research was showing a large increase in emotional and mental health problems that were brought about, or exacerbated, by trump’s time in office.  

Contrary to the presidential oath of office, trump never cared about, or intended, to protect the safety, health or well -being of the nation he’d been elected to lead. Leading, in fact, was not why he’d sought out the position; it was always intended to simply raise the profile of the Trump brand.   

So the four years of trumpocracy somehow managed to encompass racism, misogyny, a very public embrace of white supremacy, an increase in domestic terrorism, a disastrous trade war that led to a flailing economy, and was topped off by, arguably, sabotage and willful negligence in the handling of the pandemic – a de facto crime against humanity – and an attempt to overthrow the votes of millions of black and brown Americans.

Donald Trump is the most successful bio-terrorist in human history. This is not an accident.”

John Gartner, Psychologist and former Johns Hopkins professor

From 2015, when trump began his run for the presidency, until January 8th, 2021, when Twitter finally silenced his nonstop IV drip of ugliness and bile, trump and his regime emotionally and psychically abused the American people, whether they were in the minorities he systematically targeted, the people he’d elevated in his party, or his slavishly devoted base.

It will fall to Biden, Harris, their team, and the Congress to attempt to salve the emotional wounds of the trump error. For the good of the nation, this PTTSD needs to be treated immediately.

A failed coup, a failed attempt to overthrow and take over governments, must never be ignored, or treated as anything but what it clearly is – an attempt to force the will of one group of unelected malcontents, over the wishes of those who voted for the leaders of the party currently in power.  

Allowing seditionists and traitors to continue to spread false information amongst their supporters cannot be tolerated. Those that contend that trump had a victory stolen from him are provably wrong. Even as the Republican party tears itself apart, in a deathmatch struggle over whether their allegiance is to trump or to the nation, it’s elected representatives must either accept that Biden holds the legitimate power in their constitutional democracy, and spread that message to their base, or they must leave their posts. Their personal beliefs cannot be allowed to poison the ‘one nation, indivisible’ to which they pledged their oaths at the start of their elected terms.   

History has shown us that the failure of President Andrew Johnson, who assumed the presidency after President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, to hold Confederate traitors to task for insurrection, and who instead allowed those who had ‘engaged in insurrection against,’ or gave ‘aid or comfort to the enemies’ of the United States to hold public office, is a mistake that resonates in America to this very day.

Similarly, the first insurrection attempt by Hitler and his followers, in the 1923 Beer Hall Pusch, was a failure. But the second one was successful, as his followers had now learned how to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

George Santayana is credited with the famous quote, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes,” said Mark Twain  

America is at a crossroads. Will she choose the ‘red pill’ of reality, of life-changing truth, or remain in blissful ignorance, lulled into the comforting ignorance of the ‘blue pill’ of Trumpism?  

I believe that it will take gut-wrenching courage on the part of the Biden administration, backed by their justice departments, to use the Fourteenth Amendment, Section Three, that carries the penalty of barring from holding public office anyone who took an oath to support the Constitution, and then ‘engaged in insurrection against,” or “gave aid or comfort to the enemies” of the United States, to punish those in current or past office who had any role in instigating the attack on the Capitol of January 6th. Their actions were treasonous.

Furthermore, I believe that anyone arrested for their part in the attack should be subject to the executive order trump himself signed into being on June of 2020, which he intended to use against sanctuary cities, and Black Lives Matter protestors, which directed the Department of Justice to “prosecute to the fullest extent permitted under Federal Law” people who damage government monuments, participate in “efforts to incite violence,” or damage religious property, with a punishment of up to 10 years in prison for the damaging of federal property.

Trump supporters gather outside the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

As harsh as these measures may seem, they are necessary to prevent a future America in which trump flags, murals, statues, and re-enactments of the January 6th attack celebrate his presidency and its denouement, rather than censure his lies and incitement. That would be the fate of an America that DOESN’T prosecute trump, and all of his violent, and criminal followers.   

An America that prosecutes, fines, and jails those that attempted to overturn the results of a fair and legal election would be taking the first and most important step in healing the nation, and all of those suffering from Post Trump Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The Wisdom of Our Elders


by Roxanne Tellier

What a difference a week makes! Since the inauguration, I haven’t had a single communication with another person that didn’t involve a distanced high five, and a recounting of how much better we’re all sleeping and eating since we saw the backend and ignominious departure of the previous resident of the White House.

Trump was that creepy uncle that you only saw once or twice a year, and learned at a young age to step lively around, lest he pinch you cruelly, and in a ‘private’ place.  His words were lies, his ‘truth’ nothing but narcissism and tales of his own greatness, believed only by the gullible.

Predictably the QCrazies are bereft, inconsolable, losing their minds, because, it seems the Kraken didn’t awake, the Storm didn’t break, and all the money they spent on champagne to toast a forever trump presidency is gonna have to paid for, so it’s back to the proverbial chain gang, trumpless.

There’ll be no pardons for those that opted to follow their leader’s words, and attempted to overthrow the government, just arrests, fines, and imprisonments to remind them that black out drunks and highs have consequences.

A new Biden administration toddles into place, just a few days old, and already under siege from a Republican party that believes their bluster will protect them from the wrath of not just the Democrats, now in a majority, but the millions of Americans who watched trump and his lackeys attempt a coup in broad daylight.

Gone, but not forgotten, America must now sift through the rubble left behind by a corrupt and criminally incompetent administration whose response to crises was to throw blame and shade on everyone around them, before taking off for some R & R on the golf course. There’s a lot of work – a mindboggling amount of work – to be done before America is back on track.

Yes, Creepy Uncle is gone. In his place, we have ‘No Malarkey’ Joe Biden, a man whose backstory would make an amazing made for TV movie. A dog lover, and a lover of trains, he’s a man who has spent the best part of his life in and around D.C., in public service.

It’s an interesting moment in time. The 74-year-old contender was beaten by a 78-year-old retiree. While the new vice-president, Kamala Harris, is just 56, Nancy Pelosi, who is third in the line of succession, will be 81 in March. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is 70.   Mitch McConnell will be 79 in February. The incumbent Secretary of State, Daniel Bennett Smith, is 64. Many of the most prominent members of both parties are in their seventies and eighties, including Dianne Feinstein, 87, whose mental capabilities have been questioned in recent months, and Chuck Grassley, who is also 87, and who recently won yet another six years in office. Prior to last week, Wilbur Ross, 83, was the US Secretary of Commerce, when he wasn’t busy on his side hustle, as Jeff Dunham’s puppet, Walter. (Wilbur Ross Walter Puppet.jpg)

South Carolina’s Senator Strom Thurmond left office at the age of 100, after having served almost fifty years in power. West Virginia’s Robert Byrd died in office at the age of 93, as did Georgia’s John Lewis, at 80. Prior to the most recent elections, it was virtually unheard of that a Senator be under the age of 40.

The United States has, thus, for some time been effectively a gerontocracy.

“A gerontocracy is a form of oligarchical rule in which an entity is ruled by leaders who are significantly older than most of the adult population. In many political structures, power within the ruling class accumulates with age, making the oldest the holders of the most power. Those holding the most power may not be in formal leadership positions, but often dominate those who are. In a simplified definition, a gerontocracy is a society where leadership is reserved for elders. “ (wiki)

Under trump, that gerontocracy was in full bloom, as he placed into positions of power septuagenarians and octogenarians willy nilly. By contrast, the majority of Biden’s nominations look more like the average American than in any previous administration, with the exception of a few, like Janet Yellen, 74, who has been nominated to serve as Treasury Secretary.

And this, a younger, more diverse cabinet, is deeply needed, since the aging of the three branches of government has been repeatedly connected to the broader themes of American decline. 

How weird is it that, in a country where, clearly, we treasure the ‘wisdom’ of our elders, based on our electoral choices, where we only feel safe and in good hands with those as old as our grandparents and great-grandparents in the highest elected positions – that we also treat the poorer, less powerful, and frailest of our elderly with such dismissive contempt?

If we believe, as has been said, that the weight of years and experience is responsible for the wisdom, gravitas, and good-hearted balance brought about by decades of living, how is that so few of those opining on the ‘common sense’ approach of ‘herd immunity’ in dealing with COVID-19 feel absolutely no shame in expressing no regrets, publicly, that the first and most voluminous group of martyrs in such a program would be our elders? 

In Canada, COVID-19 has wreaked most of its wrath upon seniors, disproportionately affecting the elderly. In November, StatsCan reported that more than 52 per cent of those who had died from the virus were individuals aged 85, and older, while 36 per cent were aged 65-84. 88 per cents of our deaths have been in people over the age of 65. Only 12 per cent of the victims were younger than 65. 77 per cent of those deaths can be traced to long-term care, and senior homes.

95 per cent of deaths in the US were of people over the age of 50.

That we have failed so dramatically at protecting and prioritizing the health and care of our elders is a colossal moral failure. It appears that we only value people who are deemed economically productive. Once that time has passed, and regardless of how much we may have contributed to society throughout our younger years, people who are no longer economically productive are essentially perceived as worthless, and without further value.

In Ontario, twenty-five years ago, and under the Mike Harris government, hospitals were closed, and the jobs of thousands of nurses were eliminated, while the public role in long-term care was reduced, allowing corporate players such as Sienna Senior Living, Revera, Extendicare and Chartwell Homes to enter the game. Regulations were relaxed, and public oversight was reduced. Seniors would now have a range of options for assisted living and long-term-care housing, but at a significantly higher price.

In May of 2020, the Toronto Star reported that “three of the largest for-profit nursing home operators in Ontario, which have had disproportionately high numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths, have together paid out more than $1.5 billion in dividends to shareholders over the last decade.”

The article added:

This massive sum does not include $138 million paid in executive compensation and $20 million in stock buybacks (a technique that can boost share prices), according to the financial reports of the province’s three biggest publicly traded long-term-care home companies, Extendicare, Sienna Senior Living and Chartwell Retirement Residences.”

A decent society resists the temptation to take the easy way out, no matter how profitable it may be. The elderly deserve more than warehousing, secured away from their loved ones, while they wait to see if they’re next to die. It shows a horrifying disrespect that we are not making more effort to protect them. 

Ontario may be the guiltiest province in Canada for hypocrisy. In April 2020, when the province wanted to appear ‘caring,’ they brought in the military to help with the abject neglect and chaos in long term care homes, brought about by those lax regulations, and poor staffing choices.

And yet, in June, and despite record-setting profits, the CBC reported that the majority of Ontario’s LTCs were still operating at 1972 structural safety standards.

Ontario changed its structural safety standards back in 1998 — mandating, among other things, that nursing home bedrooms should house no more than two residents.

Homes that didn’t meet the new standard were allowed to keep running as-is, with an expectation they would upgrade eventually. The vast majority of homes that haven’t yet upgraded are run by for-profit companies.

While non-profit and for-profit homes have been equally likely to experience outbreaks, those outbreaks have proven deadlier in for-profit homes. (CBC Canada, June 2020)

In January 2021, Mike Harris, who spent the last 25 years raking in profits from the long-term care system he helped create, and who is the chair of Chartwell Home’s board of directors, was nominated for the Order of Ontario, despite protests from numerous minority groups, most vocal of which have been the Indigenous communities of Ontario.

(“Between 1995 and 2002, Harris was premier during some of the province’s most notorious scandals in recent history, including the shooting death of Indigenous protester Dudley George in 1995 and the Walkerton water crisis five years after.”) from CTV News, January 2021

We believe that we live in lush capitalism, but that’s not true of all of society. In fact, we are in end-stage capitalism, where even the lions turn upon each other. There are homeless living in our parks, but millions in dollars in pandemic aid is going to corporations making healthy profits, who are paying out dividends with one hand, while receiving federal wage subsidies in the other.

In Canada, 53 public companies disclosed receiving more than $10 million under the Canada emergency wage subsidy program (CEWS). CEWS will have cost ALL Canadians more than $100 billion by the time it wraps up in 2021. But only a small segment – the wealthiest – will have received the most benefits from that and similar protection programs.  

While far right Republican and Conservative pundits clamour that the Democrats will ruin their economy with socialism, their parties actually preach and platform something more akin to dog eat dog, where people are only valued for what they produce. These groups advocate the removal of any sort of social safety net, in the form of Social Security or Medicare. What these politicians never acknowledge is that the removal of those nets will doom the elderly, the frail, the ill and the disadvantaged to spending their days in situations akin to that of the worst horrors of the 19th centuries poorhouses and workhouses, where society placed stigma and shame on those unable to support themselves.

The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the truth in the social safety net, that it was never adequate protection in times of major risks like pandemic illnesses, because of the massive inequality of resources in capitalistic societies. If not addressed and amended, the worse is still to come.

I’ve long contended that the gerontocracy of the United States government is a negative factor, in terms of governance, primarily because those making the rules and regulations for the future have no stake in that future; they won’t be around to reap the rewards or punishments of their decisions. That’s on top of the fact that the majority of those in power are long term seat holders, who have amassed significant wealth and fulsome pensions and benefits, and so are unaffected by the ebb and flow of the average citizen’s lifetime.

They don’t look, act, behave, or earn like the hundreds of millions of Americans they represent. Yet they define the parameters for everything those hundreds of millions must do, from birth to death, and everywhere in between.  

Some have called me ‘ageist’ for this position, which is almost laughable, in that there is no ‘ist’ or ‘ism’ that takes away one iota of wealth or power from that most blessed group of elected fortunates.

But what do we call those who look at the opposite end of the age spectrum, at the people who are poor, sick, frail, and without any of those benefits, and deem them of no value to society?  Nothing that can be repeated in polite society, that’s for sure.

These last few years have been hard on all of us, in Canada, and in the United States, as we’ve struggled under circumstances made all the harder in the last year with a global pandemic. I want desperately to believe that there are better days ahead. I sincerely hope that Biden has begun as he means to go on, and that his successes inspire Canada and other countries to look in the same direction of progress, healing, and more equal opportunities for all, not just the privileged.

BONUS .. everybody sing along! 😉