People are funny; they want their lives to be interesting and noteworthy, but most of us are good for about 24 hours of novelty before we’re pining for ‘the good old days.’
What’s ‘normal’ anyway? Normal is whatever you believe it is, in your mind, in your life, and in your world. Normal is ‘the usual,” “my regular,” the commonplace, the typical thing that you like to do or say or eat or whatever it is you do in your spare time; I’m not judging.
What it isn’t, is exciting. It’s waking up at the usual time, having my regular breakfast, and then going to work or play in the way I do on a typical day. It’s going to the same places over and over, because you like what they serve, and it’s where “everybody knows your name.”
Before we moved in January, normal for me would have been reaching out to touch the odds and ends that used to live in and on my missing bedside table. Where it’s gone, nobody knows.
But in the bigger picture, on a scale of one to earthquake, my life, and the life of many others, has been less than normal for some time.
We have just celebrated the second anniversary of the onset of COVID-19 regulations, worldwide. Though I’m not sure that ‘celebrating’ is how most of us felt when we thought about two years of fear, discomfort, and hand sanitizer.
Brides Magazine says that “The traditional second-anniversary gift is cotton, making this the prime time to splurge on upgraded bedding or a cozy throw you can use when snuggled up together on the couch.”
Sounds about right. That was pretty much all that anyone did for at least the first twelve months of the plague: overeat and binge watch Netflix. Remember those heady first days, when we all masked up, avoided each other, sterilized anything that didn’t wiggle away from the Lysol spray, and prayed for a vaccine?
In those first few months, that was normal. It was also normal for us to bang pots and pans every night around dinner time, to encourage those health care workers that were (and still are) literally sacrificing their own health to take care of us.
In January 2022, a load of frustrated truckers formed a convoy and honked their horns 24/7 to protest for what they believed to be their rights – which included their right to NOT receive a vaccine – and THAT became normal, for the poor souls in Ottawa who had to deal with what the Convoy wrought, bouncy castles and all.
Over the last half decade, we’ve normalized things which we could never have dreamed of having to deal with. In this I include the disastrous tenure of Trump; a poor beginning to the handling of a once in a century pandemic, and the subsequent whining once a life-saving vaccine became available; an attempted overthrow of the American government in January 2021, followed by something quite similar, if veiled under a web of candy flossed hot tubs, masquerading as ‘freedom’ while demanding a parallel overthrow of the Canadian government in January 2022; and then topped with a drizzle of a Russian attack on Ukraine, completely with threats of nuclear war, that sent many Boomers scurrying to find a school desk to cower under.
So what’s normal, exactly?
Many of life’s aspects, that we would have considered normal pre-COVID, have shown themselves to work for some, but not for others. For a while, it seemed like people realized the importance of community and mutual aid. When we were all pulling together, it did seem like we might be working towards a better normal.
But then, one day, that spirit of working for the common good began to splinter; some leaned into science, embracing vaccines, eager to see a world where everyone could be protected from a virus, while others opted to refuse the serum approved for use by every governmental and health agency in favour of quack cures and unproven placebos.
That was a normal that I really didn’t see coming.
For the majority of North Americans, normal is a world in which we’ve normalized one set of laws for the rich and powerful, and another set of far more extreme laws and punishments for those who are not white, cis, males.
All over the planet, normal is women knowing that they have to dress and behave in approved manners, if they want to avoid being attacked for the crime of being female. And normal is knowing that, if they are beaten, or raped, they cannot be assured that their story will be believed, or that their attacker will face any consequences. Normal is police stations filled with rape kit tests that pile up in storerooms, but are never prioritized for analysis.
Normal is people of colour knowing that there is nowhere that they are completely safe from assault, even in their own beds, in their own homes. Even if they are fleeing from a war, normal is knowing that white citizens will be prioritized in the rush to safety.
Normal is a complete lack of action or attention to the future of a planet where the Arctic temperatures are now routinely higher than the temperature in downtown Toronto.
Normal is watching the world’s richest individuals get richer during the pandemic, while the world’s poorest individuals fell further behind.
What we call ‘normal’ today is what we have decided to call normal. It wouldn’t be normal in any other space or time, but it’s what we’ve become used to living in and with, in order to be part of our society.
The unemployment rate in the United States, at 3.8%, is the lowest it’s been in history. Canada’s rate is 4.2%, and has traditionally been higher than in the U.S. or Europe, mainly because we have a higher proportion of seasonal industries, as well as a higher proportion of population in smaller, more isolated communities.
No matter where we live, there are many who are very nervous about returning to life, as it was defined, pre-COVID. The pandemic and our isolation revealed that our routines of commutes, office work, water cooler small talk, and the like weren’t necessarily conducive to a better quality of life. We discovered that many of us – mostly white collar workers – could work from home, in less rigid conditions that allowed those with physical or mental issues the space to thrive.
This year, 47 million people, mostly millennials, have joined the “Great Resignation” in search of better careers, with higher wages, remote options, and greater flexibility. It must be noted that they are privileged to be in higher end careers; these options are not available for the bulk of those who labour in minimum wage positions.
But for those that have this option, they’ve discovered that time is too precious to spend commuting, and that they want to work for a company that is as committed to finding a work-life balance as they are.
We have collectively learned that the ‘normal’ we are returning to, may not be so normal after all. Some things we can change, but many broad social problems are simply beyond our grasp at this time. For social change to happen, we will have to find a communal force of will in which we all refuse to return to the harmful systems that were highlighted by the pandemic.
To do that, we will need to re-learn the art of working together for a common good.
If we don’t or won’t demand change, we will have wasted what might be our last great opportunity for a societal re-set.
As a child, my sister was often the target of bullies. Bullies sniff out the weak, the vulnerable, those who have already experienced the wrath of others. I spent a lot of my own childhood trying to protect Jodi from those who had nothing better to do with their time than to torment a shy, fragile, little girl.
While I didn’t have much truck with bullies in school, once I was out in the work world, I quickly learned the Golden Rule; he that has the gold, makes the rules. Which meant that those who had better jobs, or more power in their position, could choose to use or abuse their underlings. I found it very hard to kowtow to people who were often not nearly as clever or capable as I was. Being a woman in the workplace last century was often an onerous, frustrating position. I’m sure for many women that it still is, in this century.
Eventually I chose to be an entrepreneur, to work for myself, rather than to work for others. It was just easier, being the boss.
Generally, decent people are always trying to make situations work for everyone in a group. But whether you’re in the established business world, academia, the trades, or the arts, at some point, most of us will encounter grown up bullies who seem to thrive on making life miserable for others. Put a group of people together, and, sooner or later, someone decides they deserve a better, more special treatment than the rest of the gang.
Some kids are just more aggressive by nature, but usually, bullies are made, not born. The behavior is usually learned very young, from an adult role model – a parent, a teacher, or a coach, for example – that is unable to handle anger well. A bully may have older siblings, who were bullied themselves, and so will bully a younger sibling to make themselves feel empowered. As a rule, a child learns to be a bully because he/she is not getting enough good parental attention, leading the bully to lash out at others for attention they need.
Grown up social bullies have poor self-esteem, although they’ll usually come across as narcissists with God complexes. They see the weak as contemptuous, and crave power and attention. They are unable to understand how their behavior makes other people feel, and simply don’t care about the feelings of others. They’ll dominate, play the victim, blame others, and never accept the consequences of their actions.
And that, in a nutshell, describes the political bullies that pull the world’s strings.
I first became interested in the stories behind the political news during the Stephen Harper Decade – he who was so convinced of his own infallibility and right to lead Canada that he literally rebranded the federal government the “Harper Government.” An excessively partisan break with tradition, and a slap in the face to the other parties that have helped shape Canada, taxpayers spent more than $85,000 in the first year alone of helping the Cons solidify their Golden Calf’s place in shredder history.
During Harper’s prime ministerial career, his bullying style attracted a lot of notice. The nature of his political discourse was belittling, contemptuous of the value of other political groups and ideas. By devaluing other parties, and brooking no collaboration with leaders with other input, he oppressed democracy in Canada, but so subtly that his enablers could paint Harper’s derision as simply ‘fighting back’ against his detractors.
Devaluing others is a product of insecurity, at best, and often grossly oppressive to the ‘out-group’ that is the target of the bully. When a country broadly paints another country as an ‘enemy,’ because of a warring history, or a current conflict, citizens pull together against a common enemy. But when that same contempt is expressed towards political equals, it becomes a form of bigotry, a marginalization of our own peers by denying or devaluing their abilities, and even their right to citizenship within their own country.
Harper regularly used bullying and open contempt in the attack ads used against opponents, from his slurs against Stephane Dion, then-Liberal leader in 2007, who dared to run against him, using ‘gotcha!’ video, and baritone voice-overs derisively asserting that “Stephane Dion is not a leader,” to his diatribes in 2008 against the sovereigntist Bloc Quebecois, whom he demonized as ‘the separatists.’
And then, of course, there were the attack ads that branded Justin Trudeau as ‘just not ready,’ and a contrived ‘expose’ on young Trudeau’s participation in brownface makeup in an Arabian Nights themed event at the private school where he was a teacher in 2001.
I’m still hearing about that one from the Trudeau haters. There’s a fascinating 2019 article and investigation into that ‘scandal’ that was put together by Free the Press Canada. All signs seem to point to a high-level manipulation of information put together by powerful Conservative operatives.
When Harper was ousted from power in 2015, it felt like Canadians could finally take a deep breath of fresh, non-Harper air. But on June 7, 2018, one bully was exchanged for another when Doug Ford was sworn in as Ontario’s premier.
Brother of bumbling Rob, Doug blew into Queen’s Park with a chip on his shoulder the size of the CN Tower, and a determination to make the city of Toronto pay for what he considered unfair treatment to brother Rob during his mayoralty. First off, and within what seemed like minutes of taking office, he was the first premier in Ontario’s history to use the Notwithstanding Clause to cut the number of Toronto’s city council – then in the middle of an election – in half, an act of bullying so extreme that the City of Toronto appealed the law, arguing that it interfered with the rights to free expression and free and fair elections. (Follow up – the Supreme Court, in a split 5/4 decision, disagreed, on the grounds that the Charter Right applied only to federal and provincial legislatures, not to municipalities.)
Ford proceeded to throw his considerable weight around at Queen’s Park, ensuring that deep cuts to programs for Ontario youth, education, and health were passed, while ensuring that his long-time cronies found a friend in Ontario’s deep pockets and green spaces.
History will paint an interesting picture of Ford’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ford’s bumbling reign came on the heels of Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency, and people often noted their similar natures. Born to privilege, and convinced of their own special ability to lead, Ford’s bullying nature paled, however, in comparison to the vigor of Trump’s.
And if Trump, a master bullier and wannabe dictator, soared to loftier heights of mock victimhood and ‘fake news,’ his gilded First Lady left the world speechless when she announced her “Be Best” anti-bullying campaign, based on her belief that she was ‘the most bullied person in the world.”
Next week: World Class Bullies and where they live
On the surface, what the Canadian truckers hoped to accomplish during their protracted occupation of the Nation’s capital was comprehensible. In the beginning, we, the audience, and they, the truckers and their camp followers, could take as the stated purpose of the convoy and protest a common ennui and a genuine wish to end the most onerous and rigorous of the precautions levied during the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But even before the trucks had neared the rally points, word began to trickle out that the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) prepared by the civilian, not trucker, leaders of this posse had little to do with the effects of the pandemic, and everything to do with a covert, if barely legible, attempt to overthrow Canada’s freely elected democracy.
Most of the truckers and their civilian clingons bought into the broad strokes of the MOU, believing incorrectly that a demand that the Governor General and the Senate unite to dissolve parliament and remove PM Trudeau from power was as simple as having a magical number of people sign a petition.
Had these signees paid attention during a civics class, or even taken an interest in how Canadian government works, they’d have seen that the GG and the Senate are political appointees, not elected, and don’t have the democratic legitimacy to dissolve government. But if the creators of the petition had told the petition signers that simple truth, they would probably not have been able to ask for donations (to the tune of millions) to make this magic a potential outcome.
The premise and promise of forcing all levels of government to end any COVID-19 measures and eliminate vaccine passports, while simultaneously re-instating all workers laid off due to vaccine requirements, appealed to many hard core anti vaxxers. Drunk on the promise of having their delusions legally sanctified, they ignored the poison pills buried within the MOU, which called for the overthrow of the federal government.
The actual bulk of the statement set out a framework to effectively dissolve the government, and replace it with a “Citizens of Canada Committee,” composed of the non-elected Senate, Governor General, and a civilian group selected by the separatist organization, Canada Unity.
This committee would then dissolve and replace 155 years of continuous parliamentary rule, ending the federal system that ranks us as one of the world’s oldest democracies, and replace it with a committee of entirely unelected figures who would then “instruct all levels of the Federal, Provincial, Territorial, and Municipal governments to immediately cease and desist all unconstitutional human rights, discriminatory and segregated actions.”
This gang of noisy truckers had as their explicit intent the overthrowing of a democratically elected government. They maintained this position until the third week of the occupation, raising over $20 million dollars in donations on this premise, much of which came from other countries with a vested interest in seeing Canada’s democracy shattered, as this would then serve as red flags to any citizens of their own countries who might have illusions of seeking independence from autocrats and dictatorships.
In intent, if not in actual practice, this was meant to be a Canadian version of the January 6th American assault on the Capitol in 2021. The MOU was an attempted coup of our government, with the intent of replacing our elected officials with the unelected leaders of their choice, under the pretext of eliminating the constraints put upon the nation to keep us in the enviable position of being one of the safest places in the world during this once every 100-years plague. (The total death toll of the pandemic in the US stands at about 919,000, compared to 35,500 in Canada)
Oh yeah, and there was a lot of stuff in there about “God.” And freedom. And peace. And love. And of how their faith in their own immunity systems trumped all modern science. All they needed were some tonsured Hari Krishnas dancing through the snow drifts to complete the picture – the Right Wing, the Religious Right, and the Tin Foil Hat Brigade finally had their own private Woodstock!
The organizers of the convoy played skillfully upon the battered psyches of their followers. They pushed all the right buttons, empathizing with the loneliness, pain and frustration that so many had felt over the last two years, bathing their shattered illusions in hot tubs, soothing their tension in steamy saunas, and inviting children (and drunken adults) to re-live their childhoods in bouncy castles.
The true puppeteers of the movement, the ex-RCMP, ex-military, ex-police, and political operatives of the separatist party, literally kept the peons at arms length, who were free to freeze in their idling trucks as they peed into juice bottles, while the leaders relaxed in luxury in nearby hotels, descending into the ranks to whip up new fervor, and more donations, donations in the millions, all streaming in from people who had suffered real or imagined deprivations over the last two years.
And when the people seemed to rouse, just a little, from the spell they were under, these leaders would inject new concerns into the original mess of pottage, reminding their minions of all the other promises that had been made and not fulfilled over the last decade or so; why had nothing been done about the water on native reserves that still ran murky? Where was the investigation into the missing and murdered indigenous women? Why did groceries keep going up in price while wages stayed stagnant? Where was their ‘buck a beer’ they’d been promised?
The anger, that had originally focused on mask and vaccine mandates now began to spill out in every direction. Government overreach! Economic inequality! Wealth gaps! No free daycare! And the flags arrived, popping up like crocuses in the spring – Confederate, Nazi, Don’t Tread on Me, and Trump 2024, all waving merrily in the February breeze.
Suddenly it was like the festival of Woodstock had married Festivus, the festivus for the rest of us, with the airing of grievances skipping cheek by jowl with the half naked, drunken, rowdy boys taunting the police like the hippies that once tried to put flower stems into the barrels of guns.
Reminder: that did not end so well.
And neither did this. But, thanks to our being Canadians, at least it did not end in bloodshed. Yet strangely, considering that our protestors were Canadian, it also didn’t end with us apologizing to the citizens and the police for the mess we’d made, and picking up all the litter either.
Despite many feeling that PM Trudeau’s decision to unleash the Emergencies Act (EA) was overreach, the choice did indeed finally allow enough police power to subdue and roust the not so merry caravan that had terrorized the nation’s capital, and its citizens, for nearly a month.
And, once the emergency was under control, the EA was revoked, just nine days after it had been invoked, when it was decided that there was no longer an emergency that could not be controlled by normal means, as the police finally had all the tools they’d need to continue to deal with unlawful protestors.
The Prime Minister said that the sweeping powers of the Emergencies Act were meant to be proportional, time-limited, and only put in place to deal with an ‘acute’ emergency. He added that the small pockets of protestors that remain across the country would continue to be monitored.
“Let’s be very clear: The threat continues. We do see, whether it’s social media activity or people who continue to be focused on protesting, and perhaps illegally protesting, that we need to be monitoring,” he said.
PMTrudeau speaks Feb 23 2022
On February 20th, Bob Rae, the best Prime Minister Canada never had, and current Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations, tweeted:
“A truck is not a speech. A horn is not a voice. An occupation is not a protest. A blockade is not freedom, it blocks the liberty of all. A demand to overthrow a government is not a dialogue. The expression of hatred is not a difference of opinion. A lie is not the truth.”
In September of 2021, voters had the option of voting for several parties, including the People’s Party of Canada, which, most notably, promised an immediate end to federal vaccine mandates, but said only that they would “oppose” such measures at the provincial level. The party scored just 4.94 per cent of the popular vote. Over 95% of Canadian voters backed the parties that supported some form of vaccine passport. The majority favours tightening the screws on the unvaccinated, not throwing open the doors to any new variant that crosses our borders, and fills our hospitals.
And yet … in this ‘woke’ moment in history, there are still some who remain on the fence about the fates of those that attempted a political coup, and held Ottawa and her citizens hostage for three weeks. Just the other day, I saw a comment on social media that asked if the situation could have been avoided, had PM Trudeau just ‘spoken to the truckers and explained that the vaccine mandates would be lifted by a certain time.”
And perhaps, in some ersatz, BizarroWorld, Woodstock of the Right, there might be a democratic nation of politicians that would bow to the bullying and intimidation of large, gas belching, horn blasting, machines, draped in posters that alternated between calling for the death of, or the f*cking of, their duly elected leader, driven by owners of the same attributes as their machines …
But I really doubt it. No one’s that woke.
The situation might have been avoided had the drivers and camp followers of the convoy taken the time to inform themselves on the real motives behind the demands of the ‘spokespeople,’ who conned them into showing up with ultimatums that were not only impossible to grant, but that opened said drivers and followers to severe financial and legal peril, post convoy.
No, the opening up of discussions with intimidators using strong-arm tactics, who wish to re-write our constitution to cover their idiocy, was simply never going to be an option. You don’t negotiate with terrorists. As the U.S. discovered during their four years of diplomatic hell under trump, you don’t even say their names, never mind visit them and exchange pleasantries, unless you wish to elevate the actions of bullies to the level of actual world leaders. These kinds of creatures must never be seen to be the equivalent of elected officials, because they are not; they are wannabe dictators and autocrats.
The rich countries where people want to live, like Canada, are places where people can believe in the rules of law, standards of behavior, institutions, and the social and cultural conventions that make us feel that we are safe and secure. Rich countries are rich because the people AND the money are seen to be safe and secure.
These standards must be seen to be honoured, and those that seek to overturn them, must be seen to be punished, as a deterrent to others that might consider similar actions.
And yet, good, kind Canadians that we are, there are many who watched the sacking of Ottawa, and who are now having a hard time seeing those who were responsible for the havoc, receiving the consequences of their actions.
It’s possible that some of us watched the revellers enjoying themselves, and thought about all of the events that they missed during the last two years – the weddings, the funerals, the birthday parties and the dances that they didn’t get to attend. There may well have been a twinge of envy for some, who felt that they’d suffered all of the deprivations, but who now were watching what seemed to be the hedonistic event of the decade, enjoyed by some but not all. It’s only human to feel that way.
And it’s not wrong to be sympathetic to the plights of those who are now being held accountable for their actions. It’s very hard to see people – Canadians, just like us, who’ve had a rough time over the last two years – being penalized for doing things that they may not have thought were criminal at the time.
But these people were told, repeatedly, that their actions were harmful, and probably illegal. Those people that used their children as human shields, to prevent the police from advancing, or from entering their vehicles, did so willingly, even though these are actions that are considered ‘war crimes’ in most countries.
Some of the protestors left their homes and their jobs behind, in order to join what they chose to believe was a righteous cause, although their own holy books clearly told them that was not the case.
Many of these people were duped into giving of their time, their money, and potentially, their actual legal freedom. But they were adults, who had a choice to make, and chose wrongly. Yes, they were lied to. Yes, they chose to believe unreliable sources. But ignorance of the law is no excuse, and ignorance of the impact of your actions on others does not remove your responsibility for the consequences faced when your actions are finally judged, and found to be criminal.
It’s hard to see people losing their jobs, their businesses, and in some cases, their freedom, when they are arrested and imprisoned for terrorizing so many people and animals during their three-week ‘rumspringa.’
But, if we’re honest, this is exactly what we wanted to see happen, during those hellish weeks in February, when we were all glued to our tv screens, watching our police forces stand back, unable to move on the occupiers, with apparent impotence, and sometimes, even seeming to be giving aid and succor to these barbarians. We wanted to see the revellers held accountable. We needed there to be serious consequences. We wanted those consequences to serve as a deterrent to any people or parties that might consider a similar onslaught in the future. We didn’t want this occupation to happen then, and we never want it to happen again.
Yet now that many of these people will lose their jobs, be charged, arrested, and in some cases, have their lives ruined for what they’ve done, there’s a kindness inside most Canadians that will still feel sympathy, and even hold out a hand to help those that need it.
That’s what being a Canadian is about. We are good, kind, decent citizens of a country that is struggling right now, in a fight to defeat a novel enemy. And for the most part, we have come together to do what is right for ALL of us, not just an entitled few.
We spent most of February glued to our screens, hoping for the best, fearing for the worst, spending our time and energy on one minority’s idea of “freedom,” only to end the month watching Ukraine’s people fleeing from an evil war criminal seeking to shatter their democracy and steal their real freedoms.
I hope that we, as a country, are wise enough to recognize the difference.
“The “Freedom Convoy” that converged in Ottawa on Jan. 28 began in response to the federal government’s move to require Canadian truck drivers crossing the U.S. border be fully vaccinated to avoid testing and quarantine requirements, but has evolved into a protest of all public health measures aimed at fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers say they will not end their protest until all measures are dropped.”
Ottawa Citizen, Feb 13, 2022
A Canadian February is generally pretty ‘meh.’ Kids are starting to look forward to Easter holidays. Singles consider chancing a bit of skating or skiing in hopes of some ‘apres ski’ fun. Writers write articles about seasonal affective disorder, and string out a definition of the Danish word ‘hygge’ for 1500 words.
“When the government shuts you down, you get a warning and some financial assistance. They do express a degree of discomfort and regret. When Freedom Convoy shuts you down there is no notice, no financial assistance and you are supposed to shut the f up and support not working for the people who couldn’t work, which is you in the first place.” Georgia Herring, owner, Old School Mechanic Shop
It was around this time, two years ago, that the world turned upside down. My daughter had celebrated her Valentine’s Day birthday, and I was picking out some presents for my husband’s March birthday, which included a couple of live shows we’d never get to attend.
When the first lockdown went into place, it didn’t have a lot of effect on my life. I’m retired. I don’t get out of the house as much as I’d like, though I did used to really enjoy my long lunches with friends.
About a month into that first lockdown, after we’d heard that an old friend had contracted COVID 19 and died, I asked Shawn if he’d have done anything differently, before the pandemic, had he known what was coming. He didn’t think so.
See, most of us believe that whatever is going on now, in our lives, will go on always. We have our comfort zones, our friends and family, our routines, and, unless something drastic happens, we just keep on keeping on. We think that if things are going well for us, things will always be in our favour.
“Abusing the freedom to protest government overreach to the point of ensuring more government overreach.”Russ Boswell
The last two years taught us that everything we find familiar can all change in an instant.
And very few of us are happy with the changes that have come.
“Not going to lie folks. I would have taken 2 months more of the mandates if required for
our healthcare system, rather than over two weeks of this “occupation”.
Kayla Burgess, Stop the Ottawa Occupation 2022
There are some very bad people involved in what was billed as a “Freedom Convoy.” Very bad people indeed.
“Don’t think that the triad of Bulford, Quiggen and Marazzo won’t win this. They have the intelligence, the ruthlessness and probably endless funding and weapons. “
The group Police on Guard, formed during the pandemic, has endorsed the truck convoy. On its website, it publicly identifies more than 150 mostly retired police officers who are against government-imposed public health measures, such as vaccine mandates. More than 50 former Canadian Forces soldiers are also named on its site.
The organization says it has “boots on the ground” in Ottawa and has linked to YouTube videos of its members participating in the protest.
Furthermore, the leadership team for the protesters calling themselves the Freedom Convoy includes:
Daniel Bulford, a former RCMP officer who was on the prime minister’s security detail. He quit last year after refusing to get the vaccine and is the convoy’s head of security.
Tom Quiggin, a former military intelligence officer who also worked with the RCMP and was considered one of the country’s top counter-terrorism experts.
Tom Marazzo, an ex-military officer who, according to his LinkedIn profile, served in the Canadian Forces for 25 years and now works as a freelance software developer.“ (CBC.ca, Feb 9, 2022)
“This movement didn’t start on January 15th, 2022 when the Canadian Government imposed mandates on cross-border transportation drivers. It didn’t start on December 15th, 2021 when the Canadian Government announced these mandates. It started in February 2019, when James Bauder created the “Canada Unity” Facebook page. It had absolutely nothing to do with “mandates.” It had everything to do with trying to dissolve the Canadian Government. “
February 19, 2019 – James Bauder created the “Canada Unity” Facebook page
February 27, 2021 – Bauder made a Facebook status that said, “I’m creating a Canadian Federal Grass Roots Political Party.”
March 13, 2021 – Bauder created the Canada Unity website
August 23, 2021 – Bauder posted on his personal Facebook page that he would start a “Federal Unity Party” that would break from the monarchy, and make Canada a free and independent nation. He hoped to collect 350 signatures (out of a required 1000) to form a party. His goal was for a Spring 2022 start.
August 20, 2021 – Bauder posted on his personal Facebook page that he would start a “Convoy for Freedom”
October 1, 2021 – Bauder, his wife Sandra, and fellow Canada Unity member, Martin Broadmann, penned the “Memorandum of Understanding.” (M.O.U.) This is a document that called for the removal of the current government unless mandates regarding COVID protocols were removed. The M.O.U. states that if the current government does not meet their requests, they must be replaced, and that Canada Unity will have a say in who is elected. The M.O.U. is the grounds for their protest.
December 16, 2021 – Pat King, who is a founder of the movement, made a statement in a live stream that, “The only way this is going to be solved is with bullets.”
January 14, 2022 – Tamara Lich set up the “GoFundMe” account for the Freedom Convoy
January 15, 2022 – Lich invites B.J. Dietcher to ‘come on board.’
January 18, 2022 – Bauder goes on a live stream with Pat King to promote the Canada Unity website and to announce it as the official page for “Bearhug,” or “Freedom Convoy”
But, although a state of emergency has been called, the police must tread carefully. The protestors are desperately hoping to shift this crisis into a second phase, in which they can claim police brutality, a government overreach, a police state. To give their leaders these images, increasing disinformation and whipping up sympathy, would be irresponsible. The world is watching.
Dealing with a well-organized group with a plan to overthrow democracy takes time and strategy, not brute force. But Canada doesn’t have much time, now that the Ambassador Bridge siege in Windsor brought American attention to what the protestors are doing to the Canadian/American vehicle trade and economy.
The problem lies in how many of their most vocal supporters and followers are pawns, enticed into joining the ‘party’ by the idea that COVID, the hated mandates, nasty vaccines, and ugly masks would simply disappear, if we all just wanted it enough. To that end, the group has been given free food, hugs and money, parties with live music, hot tubs, saunas, even bouncy castles!
Bouncy castles? Why yes, for the enjoyment of the kids that have been brought into the occupation, to be used, sadly, as human shields. The cops can’t use tear gas or tear down shelters for fear of hurting the kids that might be inside. The presence of the children, who are often seen frolicking with their pets, is meant to soften the image of the occupiers. While some worry about child endangerment, especially as weeks drag on without comfy beds and baths for the little ones, other get a warm and fuzzy feeling at the image of these little displaced families.
In Windsor on Saturday, veterans formed a line between the police and the truckers at the Bridge. But on closer inspection, the uniforms, badges, and medals didn’t appear to be of Canadian military.
Still, imagine the headlines and the social media frenzy if the police had employed violent tactics, like the use of tear gas, against the veterans and children.
The last few days have seen a seesawing of public opinion, with harsh divides between friends and families as mini civil wars began over which side was really on the side of right.
Two years of real and perceived deprivations, combined with long-held grievances against local, provincial and federal inaction over matters held dear, have provoked many into a frenzied response against their country.
It must be remembered, however, that the same people who claim that they are not free, have driven across the country unimpeded, camped illegally in their nation’s capital, and are still free this morning to set up mass breakfasts and entertainment, despite their insurrection and the unlawful occupation of these locales.
I love my country, but I fear for this country. A vocal minority has bullied a democracy, demanding the overthrow of their elected government, in order to replace it with themselves.
They are little fascist dictators in training, eager to burn down all that they could never begin to understand. Putin would be so proud of them.
With apologies to Al Franken, I am utterly sick of Lies and the Lying Liars That Tell Them. Sick to death of the posturing, the gaslighting, the sneaky grins that escape their mouths when they think we can’t see them.
I am exhausted from having to watch the machinations of old men pretending to be young and strong, for an audience of increasingly ill-informed or misinformed citizens. And I am stunned that America, for all it’s claims of might and right, is apparently unable to find a man under the age of 70, of either party, with the integrity, honesty, and moral vision to run in the 2024 election to lead a nation of 332 million citizens.
I am disgusted that Donald Trump appears to be getting away with committing, if not treason, then most certainly sedition, while his reprehensible party pearl-clutch and fail to hold him accountable for any of his heinous misdeeds.
I’m sick to death of watching a straight-faced Mitch McConnell utter his bazillionth BS-ery as he makes up twisted tales meant to frustrate the actual ruling party and to ensure that his ugly minority trumps America’s actual majority, and of watching Chuck Grassley stammer thru his false teeth about some arcane decision of 1866, of which apparently he was party to, that would disallow any Democratic president of ever installing a liberal Supreme Court Justice.
I blaze with anger when I see the po-faced liars in the GOP who were privy to information about the January 6th insurrection, who may well have been instrumental in perpetrating the incursion, and who yet daily continue to mouth platitudes about the outcome of the 2020 election, who perpetrate the Big Lie, while they lie to themselves and their constituents that they are upholding their party, it’s former conservative mandate, and the Constitution.
And every single one of those liars is running again for another term. And may well win.
I cringe at the failure of nearly all social and terrestrial media, that regularly allows ‘both sides’ of any given event to be argued, rather than use their journalistic talents to investigate and make a proper pronouncement on the society they claim to be defining with their presence. They have failed to learn the most important aspect of journalism, which is that, if one party says it’s raining, and the other says it’s sunny, it’s not the reporter’s job to give both options equal time, but rather to get out the bloody door and see for themselves if it’s dry or wet outside.
I am still reeling at the twisted mis- and disinformation that has poured from nearly every nation as the deadly COVID pandemic pulsed out from wherever it originated, and insinuated itself into every square inch of our planet, twisting itself into permutations that have cruelly taken the lives of nearly six million humans. From its onset, those meant to be giving us the truth have been politically manipulated in an effort to make a virus do their bidding. Instead, the virus showed us that we are mere mortals, and it would do as it wished, regardless of our pleas.
And, that lying from the people on high allowed this current climate of distrust and anger to form, preventing nations from truly dealing with the crisis properly, and ensuring that, in the end, man may propose, but God (and virii) will dispose.
I cannot bear that we are constantly being manipulated, used, and lied to by every social media app that we dutifully use to the point of addiction, and that there is little to no recourse when the apps turn against us.
“Everyone bitches about Facebook. But where else are its users supposed to go? Ditto re Instagram. And TikTok. And YouTube. Of course, there’s some crossover between all these platforms, but in many ways they’re unique. Whereas the similarities between Amazon, Apple and Spotify far outweigh the differences. You can switch platforms and not lose that much. Hell, Apple is now pushing that you can hear Neil on its music service. You don’t see some social media company doing the same, competing with Facebook.
So this is a test case. This is where the war is being fought.
It should be fought at Facebook. But because of the lack of competition and the hubris of Mark Zuckerberg, along with the duplicity and misinformation of Sheryl Sandberg and the rest of the execs, the company evades accountability and ultimately doesn’t change. As for change…it’s all algorithms, a secret sauce no one who doesn’t work at the company is privy to. And after the whistleblower, Facebook has been siloed, you can work there and have no idea what is going on at the company other than in your own vertical.
But we’ve got to push back against technology. We have to recapture truth from the techies who have taken it from us, knowingly or unknowingly.“
Bob Lefsetz, lefsetz.com
I’m revolted at the sight of Putin pushing his bare chest into the faces of Ukraine, NATO, and the world, capering like an over aged, over the hill, wannabe satyr who denies he’s about to plunge his saber into the maiden, even as his troops gather along the skirts of her nether regions. His motives are completely self-serving, an attempt to cement his place in Russian history, when in truth, his legacy will be one of terror, murder, grand theft larceny, and a terrifying lack of self-knowledge. Indeed, his foolish attempt to reunite Mother Russia will most likely only succeed in destabilizing his country, and to make Russians poorer, angrier and, ultimately, more eager for the change that another leader – ANY other leader – will bring.
I’m angry. I want change, but I don’t want change. I want things to be like they used to be, but I also want those things to be better, and I don’t know how to achieve that.
We are all reeling from not just the last two years of COVID, but from decades of lies, that have increased and compounded and torn our nations apart, pushing us all to the edge of civil war.
But the answer is not an insurrection, or a Trucker Convoy that brings the disgruntled, violent, and divisive into our nations’ capitals, drunk on social media attention and the millions pouring into a GoFundMe enriched by the dollars of the bored, the riled up, and the Canadian far right, American militants, and Russian nihilists who would love to see our country fail.
The answer is within each of us. We have to stop allowing ourselves to believe convenient (and inconvenient) lies, and start respecting ourselves, our fellow citizens, and the people that we have elected to lead us in tough times.
No more desecrating of the statues of our heroes. No more dancing on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, or peeing on the Cenotaph. No more bullying and theft from homeless shelters, or aiding and abetting those who willingly create violence or commit crimes just because the group presence allows them to do so.
Start with yourself. Stop lying to yourself. Then let it spread outward.
I guarantee you, there will come a day when you’ll once again be proud to look at your own face in the mirror.
I know that because our real heroes have always been those who have at least tried to tell you the truth. And that’s why they are our heroes.
“This isn’t some grand, far-reaching cultural movement. It’s a handful of people who want to claim victimhood to recast their personal gripes into a heroic narrative.”
Passage: RoundUp January 28, 2022
I haven’t put up a column in a while … moving and all that … but I have been compiling some thoughts on this truck convoy, and, with the help and inspiration of other people’s thoughts, would like to comment on the event.
I find it very interesting that the organizers of this rally – which is similar in tone to the ill-fated American attempt to overthrow the government on January 6, 2021 – do not seem to have attempted to contact any high-ranking governmental official in the proper manner. This is a democracy, which means that there are procedures that are followed, one of which is formally requesting meetings with elected officials. Instead, there seems to have been some sort of quasi manifesto posted on social media, which has more in common with the creaky old westerns of the fifties, in which the new gunslinger taunted the old gunslinger to a gunfight at High Noon.
In any case, they planned a rally for a Saturday (get real; the House doesn’t meet on the weekend, not even if you’ve dragged your butt all the way from BC on your own dime.)
Prior to their frenzied demands, there were already plans in the works ages ago for the PM and his family to visit BC. Takes a bit to organize the flight plans of a high ranking-official; more than once, my daughter has accompanied them, in her role as an RCMP officer. It’s a Big Deal.
So they’ve planned to show up on a day when Ottawa is typically closed for business, in a month when Ottawa is totally closed for dining and entertainment of any kind, due to COVID restrictions. That’s not very clever planning.
They also seemed to believe that, after weeks of saber rattling, horrible threats and screeds on social media, and a plethora of signs saying “F*CK TRUDEAU,” that he would be delighted to walk down and greet them, and usher them into the Parliament Building for a nice cup of tea. An uninvited rally of angry, swearing, yelling, possibly weapons-wielding protestors, who have amassed a caravan of trucks, RVs, and cars WITHOUT a parade permit, actually expected that outcome?
“Aside from denouncing the vaccine mandate, it was unclear what form the protests would take. One group affiliated with the convoy intends to try, for a second time, to convince the governor general, Canada’s official (if ceremonial) head of state as Queen Elizabeth’s representative, and the appointed members of the Senate to strike down all pandemic laws and rules imposed by all levels of government — something well beyond their constitutional powers.
Others have called for protests outside politicians’ homes. But since the House of Commons is currently not in session — it resumes sitting on Monday — many lawmakers are not in town.”
The New York Times, Jan 29, 2022
Set aside the delusional aspect of their proposed ‘meeting’ for a moment, and let’s consider who is involved in this convoy.
90% of the Canadian Trucking Industry are fully vaccinated, and have condemned this rally. The two main organizers are well-known, anti-Canadian/anti-government protestors, one of whom has long been active in the “WEXit” movement, wishing to separate Alberta from Canada, and the other, a ‘yellow jacket’ who is against government of any kind.
They have managed to raise nearly $8 million dollars in a GoFundMe that has been frozen by GoFundMe, as it requires, “documentation […] about how funds will be properly distributed.”)
*GoFundMe has now released $1 million to the organizers.*
At the onset, there were lofty claims that the truckers would be reimbursed for their travel, but as time wore on, it became apparent that greed was setting in on the organizer’s part, and it now says that the funds raised, “ will be dispersed to our Truckers to aid them with the cost of the journey. Funds will be spent to help cover the cost of fuel for our Truckers first and foremost, will be used to assist with food if needed and contribute to shelter if needed. Any left over donations will be donated to a credible Veterans organization which will be chosen by the donors.”
But in truth, the bulk of the cash will go to the two organizers, and most likely into their own pockets, and into their political coffers, in aid of dismantling our current government. Sadly, there’s always room for corruption when the money total gets high.
To sum up, a group of people, some of whom are genuinely unsettled truckers (less than 200, at last count) and many people who are always ready to get out the pitchforks and torches, especially when there’s nothing else to do in winter anyway, are going to converge on Ottawa’s capital, which is essentially ‘closed for business,’ for a meeting with a PM who isn’t even in town.
There they will attempt to recreate a Canadian version of the US’s January 6 assault on the Capital. Many will be arrested, many more will likely be wounded in some manner, either by their own companions, or by the people trying to keep the peace in the Capital.
All in aid of attempting to get one half of a border equation, which is 50/50 controlled by the US/Canada, changed to suit their needs. In other words, even if they succeeded in forcing the PM to change the law, and allow them to re-enter Canada, unvaxxed, after an American run, they would not be allowed into the US to begin that run in the first place.
Most of these truckers will be out a lot of money at the end of this unpaid vacation, and if they think the rules and regs around getting money out of the gov’t are tricky, wait until they try and pry that money out of the hands of the organizers.
There’s no logic here, just ennui at a pandemic and rules that have infringed on what lazy, entitled Canadians think are their ‘rights.’
Sadly, I remember when Canadians gathered along roads and highways to cheer on the REAL Canadian heroes; … Terry Fox, who ran across Canada ON ONE LEG to raise money for cancer research. Or Rick Hansen, who did the same in a wheelchair to follow his dream of creating an accessible and inclusive world and finding a cure for spinal cord injury.
Remember how we lined the 401, the Highway of Heroes, to honour our dead soldiers? It seems we’ve changed whom we honour, in 2022. Now, we honour a small group of unvaxxed truckers and their supporters, who have been hijacked by a bunch of wobbly minded conspiracy theory idiots, and who are being funded by political disrupters, the likes of Trump, Tucker Carlson, and Elon Musk – the very man who intends to end all truckers’ livelihoods with his automated delivery systems. Suckers!
These organizers, and the truckers, are just out for the ‘likes’ and the grift. The truckers are pawns being played by fools, to line the organizers pockets.
The convoy is not a protest, it’s a grift. Each of the truckers and their followers are only out for themselves, and would burn down the world to get what THEY want. It’s not about helping anyone … but themselves.
90% of truckers are vaxxed and out there moving the goods. 10% – a minority by any calculation – are whining about the cross border mandate .. which is effective on BOTH sides of the border.
“ The Freedom Convoy isn’t some benign oddity that deserves uncritical media attention. As with so many things that seem to germinate online, the convoy has obvious and deep links to the far right. While Mike Millian, president of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, told CBC Radio that the movement has “morphed into a kind of protest against all vaccine and COVID-related shutdowns,” this ignores the fact that the convoy has been associated with the far right from the beginning. Global News even reported that some supporters saw the convoy as a “January 6 event,” hoping to piggyback off the protest’s media success to stage a violent insurrection. “ Passage: Roundup, January 28, 2022
Can you still call it democracy when the minority believe their rights overrule the majority, and the lunatics have well and truly taken over the asylum?
May 1, 2020: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today announced a ban, effectively immediately, on some 1,500 makes and models of military-grade “assault-style” weapons in Canada, including the popular AR-15 rifle and the Ruger Mini-14 used to kill 14 women at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique in 1989.
“These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time,” Trudeau said. “There is no use and no place for such weapons in Canada.”
May 2, 2020: Right Wing Provincial Premiers open their hymnals and raise their voices in WhatAboutIsm Psalms
“We know that the overwhelming majority of firearms used criminally in Canada are smuggled in illegally from the United States. Instead of addressing this, Ottawa will instead spend vast sums of money to criminalize law-abiding Canadians. That money would be far better used to pursue the smugglers and drug gangs that plague our society,” said beleaguered Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford added, “As law enforcement experts have highlighted time and time again, the only way to truly tackle gun violence is to crack down on the illegal guns being smuggled in daily at our borders.”
Borders, schmorders. The new law lets us actually arrest those morons at Jane and Finch who think it’s not a party until somebody lets off a gunfire volley. Now we can arrest them for possession of an illegal firearm – wherever it came from. And communities, like that of Jane and Finch, will finally have the law on their side against idiots who like to intimidate others with their illegal toys.
As I’ve mentioned before, I spent the first decade plus of my life in Alberta, and EVERYONE in my family had a little gun in the 50s. Even my mum, a woman who abhorred guns and violence, was gifted a sexy little garter sized pistol one Christmas. She thought it was ‘cute.’
But that was then, before mass murderers of all stripes, and in all parts of the world, began to use assault style weapons to terrorize and to force their will on others. On April 18 and 19, a disturbed denturist picked up his own assault weapon, and killed 22 people in five rural communities, beginning in Portapique, N.S., and ending roughly 100 kilometres away outside a gas station in Enfield, N.S., where the shooter was finally killed.
When is enough, enough? When do we finally stop making excuses for keeping deadly weapons within the reach of those who can so easily ‘snap’ and take away the lives of so many innocents?
I’ll bet there were hundreds of happy denture customers who would have gladly sworn an affidavit to the fact that our murdering denturist was mentally fit as a fiddle, and certainly qualified to have as many guns in his possession as he could reasonably purchase. In fact, just this morning I was reading a thread on this subject, and several commentators were incensed at the very idea that the murdering denturist might have had a mental issue. The average person is not a very good judge of another average person’s mental health.
These days, I often think Canadians have lost their sense of National Identity. So many on the right ally themselves more firmly with America than Canada. Some even believe that their right to bear arms in guaranteed in our own Charter Rights. It is not.
Stephen Lautens, self described “Grudging lawyer, passionate moderate, smartass, occasional columnist, velvet jacket enthusiast. Troll magnet,” had a few interesting tidbits of information for his readers today.
One: “Just a reminder that The Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that there is no right to possess firearms in Canada. R. v Hasselwander  2 S.C.R. 398. In R. v Wiles  it said it’s not a right under the Charter, but a privilege.’
He added a further, and extremely apt analogy:
“At one point, there was no law in Canada against owning a bear. (Honestly, there wasn’t.) Then governments passed laws against private citizens keeping wild animals like bears.
“But I own the bear legally.” “But I paid for the bear.” “My bear has never killed anyone.” “Things other than bears kill people too.” “I keep my bear safely locked inside.” “I need my bear to protect my house.” “What are you going to do about the bears that are coming in over the border?” “Why are you coming after my bear when there are bad and irresponsible bear owners out there?”
Lesson: there is no right to own a bear in Canada.
Your mileage may vary ……………………………………………………………
I’m so tired of playing Pandemic. I need another game, please. This one is boring and half the players cheat, break my favorite playing pieces, and then kick over the table. I haven’t played with such poor losers since I was 10.
There’s been a slew of quarantine protestors, both in the States and in Canada. You can generally tell which country the protester is from by which side is better armed, and which side’s signs have the most words misspelt.
(my new fave, badly spelt, barely legible, epithet is ‘you are egg nerds.’ Apparently this is brain dead speak for ‘ignorant.’ You can’t make this stuff up!)
Waaaay back in March, most people were pretty much on board with staying home, locked down, in a cozy home equipped with lots of junk food, and endless Netflix for chilling purposes. But by mid-April, without the promised miracle, the natives started getting restless.
Unfortunately for many, that American ‘right to bear arms’ translated to armed militias, whipped up by NRA supporters, marching on statehouses last week.
America has a funny relationship with protesting and protestors; if you’re a person of colour, a woman, or a native seeking climate change justice, they’re pretty much against it.
If, on the other hand, you are male, white, armed, and carrying guns… please, do have at it. Let us open the doors to the Michigan statehouse so that you might better present your case.
Thursday’s “American Patriot Rally” included members of the Michigan Liberty Militia, who stood guard with weapons and tactical gear, with their faces partially covered – although not with medical masks that might be of any use. They, along with several hundred protestors, later moved inside the Capital, demanding to be let onto the House floor, which is prohibited. Some of the armed men went to the Senate gallery, and shouted at the sitting senators, many of whom wore bulletproof vests.
Armed men in tactical gear storming a state Capital. Yeah, looks like they’ve got things under control down there, all right. As long as you consider using armed intimidation and the threat of physical harm to stir up fear and to bully others into doing things YOUR way – and avoiding democracy – is the sign of a nation ‘under control.’
Maybe they should have a listen to what we’re saying about guns up here, eh?
The Canadian relationship with winter and snow is a lot like marriage; some love it, and look forward to their time together. Others tolerate winter, but spend a lot of time apart during cold spells. Still others grumble, but it’s a loving martyrdom that takes the good (skiing) right along with the bad (shovelling.)
But one thing is certain – this winter, so mild and light on snow, is having an effect on the Canadian psyche. It’s as though we’re all a little off-kilter, a little crankier, testier, because we know something’s missing, but we’re not sure what it is.
The media’s always more than happy to give us something to talk about, but this year, even the media is freezing over. After Postmedia gobbled up all but four of the daily papers across Canada, it found it had actually bitten off more than it could chew. With advertising and circulation plummeting, there was only time to quickly give CEO Paul Godfrey his salary of $1.6 million (which included a special $400,000 bonus for being so … special?) before it started hacking away at those menial, blood suckers (like journalists) who were destroying the company. Still, Postmedia’s annual net loss for the financial year more than doubled to $263.4 million. Who knew journalists got paid so much!
Journalism is one of our primary democratic institutions, playing a major role in how Canadians learn about each other, and how to do stuff … like vote. During the Harper years, Godfrey worked a sweetheart deal that allowed him to bend regulations and sell 35% of Postmedia to the New York hedge fund , Golden Tree Asset Management.
“For generations, Canadian law has forbidden foreign ownership or control of Canadian cultural assets. But after permitting the sale to non-Canadians of practically the entire Canadian-owned steel and mining industries, then PM Stephen Harper’s government signed off on Postmedia’s creation as well. The Americans put a Canadian face on the deal by selecting Paul Godfrey, 77, as Postmedia’s CEO. Not by coincidence, Harper and Godfrey, a diehard Tory, are kindred spirits.
Though it was a thinly disguised foreign takeover, Ottawa didn’t object that Postmedia’s advent showed no sign of complying with Investment Canada’s one basic demand of foreign takeovers — that they be of “net benefit” to Canada.
Five years later, no one can credibly argue that Postmedia has been of net benefit to Canada. The most Godfrey can do, as he did recently, is insist that Canada is lucky that someone plucked the National Post, the Edmonton Journal and the Regina Leader-Post from the Canwest ruins, since no Canadian bidders stepped forward to do so.
That is a lie. There were at least two credible bids by Canadian interests, as Godfrey well knows. And the Canwest papers would not have perished in any case. They would have been auctioned, individually and as regional groups. That would have served readers better than the monstrosity of Postmedia. It’s Postmedia that is in financial extremis, not Postmedia’s papers…..
Postmedia is said to be lobbying Ottawa for a relaxation of Canadian ownership rules on cultural assets, since some of the deepest-pocketed bidders on a bankrupt Postmedia’s assets are likely to be foreigners.”
As it stands, industry insiders say that it looks like Postmedia will be forced to seek creditor protection, which means the company could be broken up and sold off to U.S. hedge fund creditors in a debt- for- equity swap. That would open bidding to the U.S. and other foreign interests.
And that move would put all but four of Canada`s daily newspapers, the supposed cultural and democratic voice of Canada, under foreign ownership. Writers, get ready to jettison your keyboard’s ‘u’ key, and learn the words to “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Just to give you some idea of how damaging losing control over our daily papers would be, think back to October 2015, when Godfrey imposed support for Stephen Harper on all of the major papers in the chain. Wasn’t the first time … Postmedia did the same thing during Alberta’s provincial election, forcing its papers there to back Jim Prentice’s Tories.
But this time they also permitted the Conservative Party to buy yellow ads that covered the entire front pages of most of the company’s major daily newspapers. The ads were designed to appear as official electoral information, and gave ranting warnings about the folly of voting Liberal.
While not technically illegal, the endorsement was a shocking insight into who really controls a newspaper’s editorial voice, as staff across the country hurried to distance their own views from the ‘yellow journalism.’
Godfrey’s support of the Conservatives has been unwavering since before his days at the Toronto Sun, where he allowed only favourable stories or photos about then mayoral candidate, Mel Lastman to be printed. Reporter Don Wanagas was removed as a municipal columnist for the sin of writing unflattering pieces about Lastman.
Newly minted Mayor Lastman went on to preside over one of the most corrupt regimes in Toronto’s history. And as David Miller, elected mayor in 2003 on a platform of cleaning up Toronto’s city hall after Lastman, has said “There’s no question he was very influential with Mayor Lastman. I certainly knew as a city councillor that Lastman’s office was in touch with Mr. Godfrey all the time.”
Godfrey’s political machinations aside, his business reputation was cemented on iron-fist management and slash-and-burn job cutting practices. Prior to the purchase of Sun Media, Postmedia’s workforce had shrunk to 2,500 employees – from 5,400 five years before. Today, 2,826 people do all the heavy lifting cross Canada, from sales, to writing, to printing.
“NDP industry critic Brian Masse noted that the easing of ownership rules designed to guard cultural industries is a “fair discussion to have” in light of the emergence of digital news alternatives, but warned that foreign control could lead to an infiltration of offshore biases into Canadian editorial content.”
No shit, Sherlock.
Godfrey’s control of the press is by no means novel in these times of corporate greed gone mad. In the United States, 94% of the media is controlled by just 5 companies; Disney, ViaCom, CBS, News Corp, Time-Warner and Comcast. And that’s what they call the ‘liberal’ media; 94% of all your information and entertainment, owned and controlled by the 1%.
Can someone tell me when and how the voice of the people will be heard? It certainly has been, and will continue to be, drowned out by the voices of those with the money and power to impose their own visions onto an unsuspecting nation.
Democracy begins with freedom of speech in and of the press. It ends with corporate monopoly, and foreign ownership.
Bits and Pieces ….
I’ve mentioned this soul-jazz duo from Ottawa before. leMeow, comprised of Gin Bourgeois and James Rooke, and filled out withJansen Richard on drums, Brent Hultquist on keys and Karolyne LaFortune on fiddle. released this YouTube delight recently. That’s My Man is the debut single from leMeow’s upcoming album, due in June 2016.
leMeow new single ….
Sam Taylor has the musical honesty and enthusiasm of a young Jeff Healey, with a band (The East End Love ) that kicks out a bottom end reminiscent of Cream and the stop-on-a- dime dynamics of early Who. These up and comers are not to be missed.
And so it was that on Friday night, I found myself at the Only Café with Pat Blythe, meeting Sam and enjoying some hot blues on a cold night. Pat’s written at length about the band, which consists of drummer Jace Traz, bass player David MacMichael, and rhythm guitarist Will Meadows.
I found this fan video on YouTube that captures some of their ‘live’ excitement. From last spring, at a gig at Relish, on the Danforth.
Funny … back in the 80’s, Jeff Healey would occasionally play a Sunday night gig at Quinns, the old bar on the Danforth bar, where I then bartended. He’d often ask me up to join him for a tune or two. History repeated itself on Friday, when I got to share the stage with Sam and the band. Thanks, guys!
(first published Feb/2016-https://bobsegarini.wordpress.com/2016/02/07/roxanne-tellier-last-one-out-turn-off-the-lights/)
One week ends and another begins. It’s been a tough couple of weeks for many, even more so than other weeks. After a bitterly cold and seemingly unending winter, Toronto’s spring has yet to settle in, as it jumps from sweltering daytime highs to overnight lows that wreak havoc on wardrobe choices and spark terror in the hearts of gardeners. Yesterday’s cold rain came and went in great sweeps and gusts, ripped my umbrella inside out, and left me soaked and miserable as I waited for that most elusive of creatures – the dreaded Lawrence Bus. It’s a hard rain, baby.
I had intended to join the thousands protesting Bill C-51 at Queen’s Park, but the downpour, a lack of bus fare, and a husband increasingly concerned by possible repercussions due to my outspoken opposition to our government, kept me home.
For those who think that opposition to the Bill is melodramatic and all conspiracy theorish, ask yourselves; is your concern that the protesters will be beset by terrorists? Or that the protesters will be stealthily added to a police file, arrested for attending a rally, audited mercilessly, or simply have their characters assassinated, and their passports taken away?
Think I’m exaggerating? A new law became effective on Friday. “The Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration says it would revoke citizenship for anyone found guilty of terrorism, treason and high treason, and spying for a foreign government.” And bear in mind, terrorism as defined by the bill includes “activity that undermines the sovereignty, security or territorial integrity of Canada” that includes “terrorism,” “interference with critical infrastructure” and “interference with the capability of the Government in relation to … the economic or financial stability of Canada.”
Which means that protesting the Pipeline, or even Monsanto, is loosely covered under the bill, as terrorist acts interfering with Canadian economics.
“There will, if this law is not blocked, be no checks left on state power. State Security will operate outside the law. Citizens will be convicted on secret evidence in secret courts. Citizens will be subject to arbitrary searches and arrests. Due process will be eradicated. Internal security organs will serve as judge, jury and executioner. The outward forms of democratic participation — voting, competing political parties, judicial oversight and legislation — will remain, but become meaningless forms of political theater.” Chris Hedges on Bill C-51.
The Canadian arm of Amnesty International indicated that the anti-terrorism bill could be used to target environmental activists and aboriginal protesters, or any other form of protest without an official permit or court order.
Bill C-51 “opens the door to collecting, analyzing and potentially keeping forever the personal information of all Canadians,” including every instant of “a person’s tax information and details about a person’s business and vacation travel.”
It’s pretty ironic that Canada is set to ramp up security, just as America’s NSA has been told to stop collecting citizens’ private information.
“So basically it all boils down to a Senate debate between those who say we must give up some liberty to keep us safe, even though it doesn’t, and those who believe we must protect our liberties, even though they won’t.” — Jon Stewart
Yep. And same thing here. In a matter of days, the Senate will vote on whether to accept the Bill or not. Ergo the protests across Canada, as 67% of Canadians do NOT want the bill passed. At this stage, official word is that “A Senate committee is offering to conduct a review of Canada’s new anti-terrorism powers five years after Parliament adopts Bill C-51, and is calling on the government to quickly adopt new measures to fight terrorism and improve its existing counter-terrorism operations.”
And that’s very daunting. And a real blow to Freedom of Speech and Canadian democracy.
But don’t take my word for it … ask the Raging Grannies of Ottawa.
They’re game, these Grannies, if a little distracted. And brave.
Or ask Cathy Cook, who wrote and performed this blues, empathizing with victims of Stephen Harper’s contempt of aboriginals, women, environmentalists, and veterans.
Or the Ontario based singer/songwriter Terry Tufts, who’s written several songs on our messed up government, and lack of choice in the upcoming election.
Dirty Little War – Written And Performed By Terry Tufts
If nothing else, it seems like we’re finally getting new Canadian protest songs. What is concerning, however, is that the new protesters all seem to skew to the higher end of the age spectrum. Like Dennis Jones, a musician and songwriter based in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, who’s been playing guitar and singing for 48 years.
Or Ian Patton, a 5-string banjo player/composer from Edmonton.
Or Halifax based Mike Chandler and Margaret Anne McHugh of SolidariGLEE
I find it interesting that the songwriters protesting this Bill are middle-aged and older. People of all ages are attending rallies for this and other protests, so there are certainly younger voices available. I’m not sure if the lack of participation is due to apathy, a dread of the folk music scene, or a lack of information. Maybe it’s a mix of all three.
Let’s close out with Stevie and the ConserviCats singing the praises of the new Secret Police Bill C-51.
Right then, enough with the politics … How’s about some new music?
This moody ballad is from Vintage Trouble’s first album. Their next release, 1 Hopeful Rd., is due to drop August 14th. Currently, the band is opening for AC/DC in Europe. Live, these guys are monsters, as several of us here at DBAWIS can attest.
Quirky singer/songwriter David Celia has a record release party set for June 4 at the Great Hall. Here’s a taste of the new CD.
Rats! I missed Food Revolution Day, Jamie Oliver’s global campaign to put compulsory practical food education on the school curriculum, on May 15th!
At least we can watch the video. Here’s Jamie with Ed Sheeran, Paul McCartney, Jazzie B, Professor Green, Alesha Dixon, Jamie Cullum, Mr Hudson, Hugh Jackman, Us the Duo, George The Poet, Che’nelle, DJ MK and The London Youth Choir
And of course, don’t forget that Xprime will be playing their new album at their CD release party at the Rivoli on June 4th. See you there!
(originally published at bobsegarini.wordpress.com/2015/05/31/roxanne-tellier-fighting-for-the-right-to-protest/)
A few years ago I was walking down Coxwell Avenue, below Gerrard, and saw an amazing house. Snuggled between two very ordinary residences, 157 Coxwell was a jewel shining amidst trash, an exotic bird in four story flight. I stopped dead in my tracks to contemplate how this beauty came about in a city more known for uniformity than individuality.
And of course, I had neither my camera nor my phone with me to capture the sight. So I carried on my way, but often found myself thinking about the house. Mondrian with a hint of Mandelbrot, I thought.
I’m not one of those who search out architecture. The grandeur of most contemporary mansions featured in glossy magazines only prompts a sigh for the waste of money and the egotism of those who build shrines to their own wealth and positions. But I do appreciate individualism, and that’s something we sorely lack in Ontario.
Our older homes tend to reflect our British backgrounds. Our colour palettes generally run to beiges and greys with the occasional red brick. On the plus side, that same craving for “over ‘ome” means that we rely heavily on gardens, trees and legally protected parklands, often the only bit of colour to be found for miles.
Cut to yesterday, when I once again found myself at the corner of Coxwell and Gerrard. The bus was taking forever, it was a lovely day, and I was wearing my favourite sneakers. So I decided to walk towards Queen, and once again have a look at that extraordinary house.
As I approached, I saw two men excitedly talking and gesturing towards the structure, which seemed to have undergone some reconstructuring. The back of the house had been extended, and there were eight new foundational supports visible. Plywood covered some of the colour blocks.
This time, I had my camera ready. I snapped a shot of the side addition, and then moved to get a full shot of the front, smiling and nodding at the two men. They asked me why I wanted photos of the construction, and I told them of my interest in the house’s appearance.
As I explained, one of the men laughed, and introduced himself as Rohan Walters, the original architect. His friend was another prominent architect, Daniel Karpinski. They were there to see what changes were being made to the structure, as it had been sold, and the new owner wanted to put her own stamp on her residence. Changes included an elevator installation, and of course, a great deal of additional floor space.
I asked Rohan if it was hard for him to see changes made to his design. He admitted that he was worried about changes to the overall composition of the building. He’d spent a great deal of time in first imagining how the original structure would look. Here’s some of his thought process:
“Then it happened. I’m sitting amongst ‘The Group of Seven’ paintings. Being amongst paintings, particularly these paintings are healing for me. With my face in my hands, I looked broken. I raised my eyes to the paintings and then it hit me: the colours of the sky, the flora and fauna. The various hues, depths, tones, intensities and responses over the day and seasons. That is what I had been missing. True colour is never alone; it is a tapestry of ever changing and yet knowable themes.”
Daniel, Rohan and I continued to chat about the importance of colour in residential construction. We agreed that Toronto tended to conform to neutral palettes, with rare exceptions, and that other cities, like those in St. John’s, Newfoundland had a more joyous and welcoming appearance. In fact, St. John’s is amongst the eight most colourful cities in the world.
We continued to talk about the importance of an infusion of colour into cities. Daniel told me that the citizens of the Soviet held East Berlin were so depressed by the grey, bleak architecture of the time that they would covertly throw hollowed eggs filled with paint at the buildings. A colourless city is a joyless place.
I was sorry to have to leave the conversation, but Rohan gave me his contact info, (SpacesBy Rohan.com) and sent me a package of interior and exterior photos of his creation.
At home, I researched the history of the project, and found several informative articles, including a four part blog Rohan wrote for “Reading Toronto,” in 2005. Some of the innovations Rohan brought to the construction, begun in 2002, seem tremendously rational, but had not been previously considered in construction codes.
“This Coxwell house is, arguably, the first house built since the 1997 edition of the OBC not requiring a heat recovery ventilation system. I pitched the head mechanical engineer at the city. I showed him my calculations for the house’s natural air infiltration and ex-filtration in concordance with non-combusting appliances such as the ‘direct vent’ furnace, condensing dryer, warm floors and single air volume that did not combust any internal air. As such the air exchange rate met the facts and intent of the code. “
His own home, “Triangle House,” possibly the smallest triangular building lot in the city of Toronto at the time, was built in 2005 for himself and his children, and carried on the colour blocking theme, and utilized such nuances as
“A combined heating and domestic hot water system, orchestrated electrical and plumbing designed with baseboard and pilasters, comparing the vibrations and sound of this frame home with that of a masonry home because of the concrete topping on top of the joists and limiting the building footprint with pier construction, the concrete positioned to act as a ‘thermo mass’ assisting in heating and cooling depending on season, and so on…. a teaching tool for myself: the possible from the improbable.”
I thought about our unlikely and stimulating conversation as I continued to walk towards Queen Street, cutting through parks and side streets. The Beaches has always been a desirable area, not only for the beach access, but for the sense of community and family nurtured by the residents.
In pursuit of well-heeled buyers who want to piggyback on that charm, a lot of the older homes and buildings are being torn down, and replaced with cookie-cutter townhouses and condos. Where once a three or four story building was considered an eyesore and impedance to lake views, new constructions feature heights that will effectively distance the long-time residents from the nouveau.
Cities have a life of their own, which derives from the cultures they encompass. Consider the square greyness of the uptight and politically choke-held Ottawa, the slightly askew streets and impractical outside staircases of Montreal, or the exuberance of Calgary’s newest buildings, which appear overnight from the ashes of the Cowtown’s foundations.
Toronto, once so proudly W.A.S.P., now teems with diversity. The areas where new immigrants congregate to create ethnic enclaves may not be to your taste, but display individuality in the face of the conformity seemingly endlessly churned out in bland suburbia.
We need more visionaries re-imagining urban Toronto. Duly and safely freshening your beige home exterior is a bore. This year, try pink. Or turquoise. Or emerald green. You never liked your neighbours anyway.