And I’m back!


by Roxanne Tellier

… with your Sunday political sermon, though it’s a day late. Time to catch up on what you may have missed over the last couple of weeks, and to get a sense of the direction we seem to be heading towards as Canadian election fever sets in.

In other words… where are we going and why am I in this hand basket?

Looking specifically to Canada, I’m getting very nervous about how Canadians feel about the parties from which they’ll choose their next leader. And one of those reasons is because of a lack of charismatic leadership.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m a lifelong Liberal, and will vote for Trudeau again, because I agree with most of his stated policies. However, I’m unhappy about some election promises that were either not kept, or kept very badly … looking at YOU, new cannabis legislation… what a mess that is!

I wanted electoral reform, incontestably part of the Liberal platform in 2015, and that was off the table after the first year.

“The Special Committee on Electoral Reform was created in the spring of 2016, and it delivered its report in December. It proposed two things. The first was that Canada replace its traditional system of voting (the ­single-member plurality system known widely as the first-past-the-post model) with a proportional system of representation (where seats in the House of Commons would be allocated according to the proportion of votes each party received). Second, it recommended that the idea be put to a referendum.”  (reviewcanada.ca)

However …. On February 1, 2017, the newly appointed Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould announced that the government was no longer pursuing electoral reform and it was not listed as a priority in her mandate letter from Justin Trudeau  In the letter, Trudeau wrote that “a clear preference for a new electoral system, let alone a consensus, has not emerged” and that “without a clear preference or a clear question, a referendum would not be in Canada’s interest. ”  (Wikipedia)

The Liberals never wanted proportional representation, so it’s not surprising that an excuse was found not to pursue it with the people. But I’m still angry that it was taken off the table.

Still, even the National Post, notoriously right leaning, had to report that “The Universite Laval’s Centre for Public Policy Analysis’s latest reading — updated since March — shows the Liberals have entirely fulfilled 53.5 per cent of their 2015 vows, partially lived up to 38.5 per cent and broken eight per cent.”

92% of promises kept. Unfortunately, the 8% not kept are the ones I was hoping to see fulfilled. Still – I’m just one Canadian, out of 37 million. Got to be a lot of people who did have their wishlist met.

I still say, when I”m looking to the other parties that are in the race, it’s the lack of a strong, compelling leader that stands out. At least to me. Your mileage may vary.

Andrew Scheer has the look of a Howdy Doody puppet, and the wooden emotions to go along with the image. He’s 3 parts Harper and 1 part the preacher from Footloose. The dimples and simper can’t hide his lack of connection to the actual citizens, that is, those of us who haven’t been living off the taxpayer dollar for the last 15 years, which is most of his life to date. This is a guy who has not paid for his own housing or meals in so long, he couldn’t tell you the price of a kilo of sugar if you stuck a gun to his head. His idea of transportation costs entails having the taxpayer fund over $2,035,886 of luxury travel, just in the time since he became an MP. This is your guy if a Conservative plutocracy is what you want for your government.

I voted NDP in the last provincial election, but I can’t say that I’m sold on Jagmeet Singh asPrime Minister. Remember when Margaret Wente gushed over his ascension to leadership? 

Those turbans! That beard! He was just the kind of figure to make progressive folks feel good about themselves, their party and their prospects. GQ, the men’s fashion magazine, profiled him in rapturous terms, calling him “the incredibly well-dressed rising star in Canadian politics.””

Ah, but we were all so much older then – we’re younger and more racist than that now.

Elizabeth May, bless her heart, remains our Green Queen, and with climate change such an important issue top of mind right now, there are many who will put their X beside her name, just because there’s Green in the party’s title. Google the party’s platform to see what else the party has in mind for the country.

As to Maxime Bernier and his People’s Party -well, on the bright side, it’s looking like his main contribution to the election will be drawing support away from Scheer’s Conservatives.

Regardless of your preference, please remember that, unless you are a white male, someone fought for your right to vote. Someone may well have died, fighting for your right to vote, and it is important that you exercise that right. Because – your vote does count. If it didn’t, the bad guys wouldn’t be constantly trying to suppress that right.

Maybe you’ve already made up your mind, and made your choice, and are happy with it. If so, I’m glad to hear it. What worries me, honestly, is the voters who tend to vote ‘against’ rather than for; or those who vote their ‘gut’ without understanding the platforms of the party leaders. The time has long gone when you could just close your eyes and pin the tail on a prime minister, and tell yourself that it didn’t matter, because all parties are the same. They are not.

On the plus side, and whether you are into politics or not, our entire electoral race lasts only a few months, so there isn’t time to get too bogged down in nastiness and slurs. Well – unless you want to. Lots of people love to argue on social media. Have at it, if that turns your crank.

A few short months. Not like in the United States, where Trump officially filed his re-election campaign with the FEC on January 20 , 2017, the day of his inauguration. He didn’t want to miss a penny of the donations he could keep requesting, nor the adulation of his base, who could be relied upon to keep massaging his ego.  

We’re still fourteen months away from the next presidential election, and I’m already over it. Pretty sure Trump is too – after all, he called off his trip to Denmark because they laughed when he wanted to buy Greenland, and sent Pence to visit Poland  (“Congratulations, Poland! on the 80th anniversary of the Nazi invasion!”) so that he could stay at Camp David to ‘oversee’ Hurricane Dorian, and fit in a couple rounds of golf. And then he apparently cancelled a secret meeting that he’d planned to hold at Camp David with some Taliban leaders, to celebrate the anniversary of 9/11.  I’m beginning to think this guy just doesn’t feel like presidenting any more!

It’s a whole new world, isn’t it? I mean.. do you remember when we worried that impeaching Trump would result in a Pence presidency? Now we know that, no matter how low Trump goes, there’s always another abyss he’s programmed into his GPS. Worse =we’re all gonna get tweeted to death on the ride there.

This is the hell in which Americans now find themselves, looking down the barrel of fourteen months in which the average citizen can never really be sure that what they’re being told, by any of their leaders, or the heads of federal services, is true, or just what they’ve been told they have to say, in order not to contradict their Dear Leader.

It’s not even so much a flood of DISinformation as it is a bombardment of MISinformation, the likes of which no society can be expected to deal with gracefully. Like headless chickens, we can only bob and weave, ducking each new onslaught of lies and untruths aimed at what is left of our sanity. And even once the liars are gone, the bully pulpit power of those lies will continue to warp the minds of Americans for generations to come.

I’m hoping that Pelosi finally finds her spine and allows the Dems to begin impeachment proceedings, but I’m not holding my breath. In truth, it’s immaterial if the Senate won’t pass it; the point is to put the spotlight on all of the crimes and misdemeanours that have happened during Trump’s reign of errors and terrors, so that all Americans can see clearly what’s been going on in the halls of power since January 2017.

We have to accept that there is NO savior coming to America. We thought Mueller might be the guy to vanquish the goblin, but he didn’t, or perhaps he couldn’t, under paid lackey AG Barr’s sovereignty.

Right now it seems like the Dems are just crossing their fingers and toes, and praying that everything will be hunky dory if they can make it from here to Nov 2020 without Trump releasing a load of nuclear ejaculate in the direction of whatever country displeased him at breakfast.

I don’t believe that a lack of action is the right course to take, but I’m not running for anything, and I’m not American. I have my own Canadian election to worry about.

My bigger fear, like that of other countries around the world, is that not beginning impeachment proceedings now will lead to a second, third, fourth and for life tenure of his presidency, which, once he’s tired of playing Emperor, he’ll pass down to Ivanka. 

And that’s a fate I wouldn’t wish on my worse enemy.

Legalize It!


charlie-brown-footballI’m sure it wasn’t the Canadian government’s intention to play Lucy snatching the football away before Charlie Brown can kick it. But it’s getting harder and harder to trust that the Trudeau government has any intention of following through on promises to legalize and/or regulate marijuana use, medically or recreationally.

Canadian voters feel betrayed. We all had our own reasons to reject the Harper government, but the Liberal election campaign put the pot issue front and centre as a large part of the Liberal Party policy initiatives, that “breath of fresh air” we were told was coming to Ottawa. A lack of action on this issue betrays the constituency that voted the Liberals into office, and paints the party as no different to the Conservatives, who at least made their rejection of legalization cut and dried.

Health Canada MMAR_CARDOn Wednesday, roughly 500,000 medical cannabis users in Canada over the age of 25 got a small reprieve from the fear of imprisonment for possession, when a Federal Court judge struck down a ban on home growing. The previous government had put that into place when Ottawa moved to a system of large-scale commercial producers, once more putting commerce before citizens’ needs.

Justice Michael Phelan ruled that those new bans were “over broad and arbitrary,” effectively forcing patients to choose between their medicine and prison, and added, “I agree that the plaintiffs have, on a balance of probabilities, demonstrated that cannabis can be produced safely and securely with limited risk to public safety and consistently with the promotion of public health.”

There are around two dozen commercial producers right now, who ship legal, dried marijuana and cannabis oils to about 30,000 patients. Even under the new math, that still means the other 470,000 patients are getting relief elsewhere.

One of the arguments put forward has been that if people are allowed to grow their own, ‘everyone’ will do it. Really? Just like ‘everyone’ brewing their own beer and making wine in their homes has decimated legal trade in alcohol? Neither the Beer Stormarijuana_poll_c_mfe nor the LCBO seem to be hurting for customers.

Having the right to grow your own doesn’t mean every user wants to do so. Not everyone wants to tend to plants, even if they’re looking forward to the harvest. The plants stink, for one thing, which might be a big deterrent to someone with cancer treatment induced nausea. And it’s hard to imagine that someone with a long-term or terminal illness wants to spend much of their precious time worrying that the plants are getting enough light, or that they’ve remembered to water and fertilize regularly.

But more importantly, a large percentage of Canadians admit to using marijuana, whether medically or recreationally, for the same reasons their parents used alcohol – relaxation and pain relief. The Liberals won the last election with a promise to legalize pot. We were told that process could take more than a year. What we didn’t expect was that Bill Blair, parliamentary secretary to the justice minister and Toronto’s former police chief, would be put in charge of the task force to consult and craft new laws around marijuana.

Blair, a by-the-books hard ass who famously oversaw the utilization of violent repression against protesters at G8/20, has insisted the government will take proper time to consult and proceed with caution — and he wouldn’t even commit to passing legislation before the next federal election.

At the same time, licensed producers have been lobbying the government for a role in recreational production. The big pharmacy chains like Shoppers Drug Mart are drooling over the chance to sell the drug. Municipalities, meanwhile, are dealing with the proliferation of illegal dispensaries.

Clive Weighill, president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, is begging the government to clear up the confusion his officers are facing.

“Right now it’s just a big fog,” he said. “We know it’s going to be legalized, but we don’t know how it’s going to happen, who’s going to be consulted. If they could just come out with a real bare bones action plan, just so the Canadian public can say OK, these are the steps we’re going through.” 

cannabis-flag-crowds-560x420Enforcing a law that the government has declared it will eliminate is not just confusing, it’s unethical. There is no moral basis for enforcing a law that remains on the books, even as the government moves towards repeal. The people spoke to the ethical standards of the community when they elected the Liberal Party with a very strong mandate. I’ll say it again: It is unethical and immoral to continue enforcing a law that is in the process of being repealed.

As Blair fiddles, thousands of users keep getting burned for possession, and the black market continues to thrive.

BillBlairL4LBlair has said that the goal is to strictly regulate the drug, restrict its access to minors, and to take billions of dollars in black market sales away from organized crime groups. He’s just going to need … oh .. about four years … to do that.. Blair, it’s shit or get off the ‘pot’ time, indeed.

The Trudeau government needs to take a long, hard look at Blair, and admit he’s just not the right choice for the job. You’re allowed to make mistakes in hiring, as long as you admit to the mistake and correct it. Blair himself called the number of Canadians charged with possession “shocking,” noting that in 2014 alone there were 22,000 charges laid, and that minority and aboriginal communities are disproportionately affected.

alcohol-vs-marijuanaBlair says his concern is ‘public health.’ That flies in the face of science, as both Canadian and American scientists, amongst others, determined more than thirty years ago that marijuana was not dangerous and in fact had many scientifically-documented, medically beneficial, uses.

Ah, but it’s not that simple, says Blair. Why yes. Yes it is. It’s as simple as buying a can of beer or a pack of cigarettes. Alcohol and tobacco are 100% legal and have risks for ALL users, and often, those around them. But they’re legal.

It is that simple. This was a hot button, contentious, election promise and it needs to be kept. Sell cannabis at liquor stores or pharmacies or dispensaries, tax it, and require government issued ID to purchase it. weedmarket_29001We already have an existing legal framework for the regulation of alcohol and tobacco. States in the U.S. have hammered out regulations, and are reaping the tax benefits and new employment from the sales.

It took Colorado 34 days, from November 6th, 2012 when the citizens voted to legalize, until December 10th, 2012 when it became legal. This is not a four year process unless you make it one.

Crocodile tears don’t cut it, Blair. What’s the real reason you’re dragging your feet on this, beyond your own bias? What’s your basis for continuing to prosecute and persecute people who use a substance less dangerous than alcohol, tobacco, or even over the counter aspirin? pot-law-300

Cannabis activist Jodie Emery may have nailed the problem. “We need a moratorium on arrests and we need amnesty for two million Canadians since 1965 who have been given criminal records,” she told CBC News Network’s Power & Politics.

Well, that just flies in the face of our bloated, inefficient prison system, doesn’t it! Continued arrests and prosecution of cannabis are a waste of taxpayer money, but they sure do keep the police and prisons busy! Why aren’t the police instead focused on pursuing hard drugs like meth, and cracking down on large importers and its producers? Is it because the low hanging fruit just looks so much juicier? cannibis charges

And devising complicated new laws and regulations covering every possible misuse or abuse of marijuana is nothing but a ‘make work’ project. There are already laws in place that cover every possible scenario. Some kid creeps into your backyard and steals your plants? That’s trespass and theft. Charge the kid. Some guy has 100 stinky plants growing in his house, or gawd forbid, his rented apartment? That’s a commercial business, not allowed on personal property. And destruction of rental property carries some hefty fines, if not jail time. Step away from the grownup blowing a joint, and go bust the real criminals.

pot smoking mountieThis is not rocket science. Every nitpicking argument has been discussed and discarded, to the satisfaction of everyone but the most self-righteous and sanctimonious pearl clutchers. There will always be those who are against the legalization of anything, be it booze, pot, or completely naked strippers. Get over it. This is supposed to be a democratic nation, where adults make choices at their own considered risk. Continuing to ‘police’ the consumption of a drug less harmful than most of the ‘prescribed’ drugs on the market is outrageous and condescending.

Legalizing it should be done arbitrarily and without debate, the same way that it was originally criminalized in 1923, when it was added to the list of dangerous narcotics. High handed prohibition based primarily on a need to control and on personal bias, disregards the people’s right to self-determination and denies them the right to make personal choices in their own lives.

charlie brown Oh no not againSimply taking what was once illegal and rendering it legal by government proclamation has been done throughout Canada’s history. Dragging out decriminalization/legalization as a policy point necessary for re-election will ensure the Liberals lose the ground they won in the last election. Just another promise not kept, the voters manipulated for political gain. The current government ignores that reality at their own peril.

***

Speaking of ignoring the voice of the people, the ‘unelectable’ Bernie Sanders continues to pick up momentum in the United States, despite a media that focuses on an increasingly bombastic and power mad Donald Trump, who very much seems to be in the grip of a psychotic break.

Sanders’ followers are as desperate to get out from under their current government as we Canadians were during the last election. His latest campaign ad captures the excitement and creativity inherent in his promises. Is asking for transparency in government, and real equality for all, doomed to failure? I guess we’ll find out in November.

Bernie’s new campaign ad rocks!

 

(first published Fe 28/2016 -bobsegarini.wordpress.com/2016/02/28/roxanne-tellier-legalize-it/)

But Does CANADA Have Freedom of Expression?


On Thursday, while discussing the world’s response to the Charlie Hebdo massacre, I said, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, however, did not focus on freedom of expression, instead taking a militant stance on the terrorist aspect.”

Canada freedom of Expression3I need to correct that, as in fact, Mr. Harper did later add, When a trio of hooded men struck at some of our most cherished democratic principles – freedom of expression, freedom of the press – they assaulted democracy everywhere.”

His original official statement released Wednesday morning, however, lacked those sentiments.

Which is why I was not at all surprised to hear that the Conservatives immediately doubled down on the macho, creating a web page that asked for Canadian support, i.e. a continued dependence upon the Conservative Party in general, and Stephen Harper specifically.

Cons web pageAgainst a background of sepia toned armed men, and headed “Standing Up Against Terrorism,” the message reads, in part, “Canadians can count on Prime Minister Harper and our Conservative Government to ensure the safety of Canadians while protecting their rights. Add your name to support strong leadership:”

Until Liberal foreign affairs critic Marc Garneau took to Twitter to complain that “Conservatives fundraising off an ongoing terrorist act is offensive and totally crass,” the page also included a large “Donate Now” button.

When interviewed, NDP MP Charlie Angus added, “They are using for their own political advantage the deaths of innocent people in other countries.”

The button has since been removed, “to avoid confusion,” according to Cory Hann, the Tories director of communications. “This was not, and is not, a fundraising campaign,” he added. “This was to inform Canadians about the Prime Minister’s strong remarks yesterday against the despicable terrorism in Paris.”

To be fair, both the Liberal and NDP main pages also featured donation request buttons above their leaders’ words on the tragedy, although those were quickly removed after the outcry. Yes, all three parties took the opportunity to beg for support and donations for their own cause as the world mourned the dead, and Canadian politicians pumped up their mailing lists for the next election.

But lost in all of the rhetoric over the tempest in a Twitter cup is the hypocrisy of the government in rushing to be seen to protect the rights of people anywhere in the world while denying those same rights to their own citizens.

Harper You Won't Recognize CanadaHarper has consistently used the court system to silence his foes and critics, while implementing funding cuts to groups that would allow ordinary Canadians to have access to legal representation. The national press corps have been controlled and managed, and any dissenters that might shed light on opposing views silenced and arrested. His own cabinet know that to disagree with the Party is to court reprisal.

In 2013, under Harper, Canada removed Section 13(1), the anti-hate provision of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA), which prohibited hate speech on grounds of race, religion, ethnicity, etc., in the name of Freedom of Expression. Canada has stood by while the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) ruled that Al-Jazeera Arabic TV could not be shown in Canada without a censorship mechanism to censor unacceptable or anti-Semitic speech, despite the fact that the service is broadcast in 50 nations, including Israel, without such restrictions.

In 2014, Harper addressed the Israeli Knesset, and equated criticisms of the Israeli state and its policies with anti-Semitism, which raises serious concerns about his government’s commitment to protecting political speech in Canada.

Under the Harper government, Canada freedom of expression2media policies were introduced to tightly control access to Canada’s federal scientists. Once allowed to openly discuss their work with the media and public, interviews must now be approved ahead of time, the scientists’ responses monitored, and in several documented cases, researchers have been prevented from giving interviews on the order of ministers office’s.

The Canadian Science Writers Association (CSWA) and the Association des communicateurs scientifiques won the 14th annual Press Freedom Award in 2012 for their work in exposing how the government has silenced scientists.

PQ Quebec CharterIn Quebec, free speech is a joke under the guise of the Charter of Quebec Values. It’s the Canadian French as decided by the Parti Québécois Way or the highway.

For Harper to declare, as Canada’s representative, Canada freedom of expressionthat he will fight for freedom of speech and freedom of expression, while denying Canadians such rights, is hypocritical and self-serving.

And ultimately, what is happening in Canada and around the world proves that it is the rich and the powerful that have true freedoms. Those vulnerable groups who need it the most just can’t afford it.