My Canada includes ...
THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED:
You can tell by the comments on The Star's main web page. But you should see my email. Everything from high praise to low blows. I'm sure you can figure out why.
Collective Bargaining: Yes, I know the strike by Toronto city workers means kids can't cool off in public pools, parents' best-laid summer child-care plans have gone awry and garbage bins are overflowing.
I feel your pain.
I also know that, without unions, many of us would be working in Dickensian conditions.
How would you like to be a miner without a union ensuring that the company meets safety standards? Or a sweatshop worker without proper ventilation, light or even fire escapes?
Collective bargaining floats all our boats. Without it, there would be no minimum wage, no paid sick leave, no health and pension benefits, no vacations. Do you honestly believe workers would still get a fair break if the bottom liners had nothing to keep them in check?
It's not workers who drove us into this economic mess. Workers weren't paying themselves multi-million-dollar bonuses for running companies into the ground. In fact, as executive salaries were rising, workers' wages were falling.
This isn't the time to get rid of unions. This is the time to be strengthening them.
I am amazed by how many people resent unions. I wonder how many people realize, for example, that if it weren't for unions negotiating health benefits for their members, nobody would have health insurance today? Thank Tommy Douglas.
Public Broadcasting: Fully funded public broadcasting is good for Canadian culture, which includes tens of thousands of workers who perform and produce programming.
It is also crucial in an era when private broadcasters fail to live up to their licence requirements to provide local news and other domestic content.
Greedy private broadcasters, who squat on the public airwaves, who benefit from tens of millions of cable subscription fees viewers are forced to pay, who buy US programming and shelve it just so their competition can't have it and who went on corporate shopping sprees while accumulating crushing debt loads are now crying the blues because they are having a few relatively lean years. This after decades of rolling in huge profits.
Well, boo-hoo-hoo. That's no excuse for not living up to the commitments they made for winning their licences.
Even more important, as much as I adore the Internet, it is no substitute for rigorous Canadian eyes and ears on all levels of government – as well as on Canadian corporations, which might otherwise rip off consumers while raping the environment.
CanWest Global and CTV give so much uncritical coverage to the Harper government that it is stunning complains aren't storming their signal towers. CTV might well have changed the course of history when it ran outtakes from an interview with former Liberal leader Stephan Dion, which made him seem like he couldn't understand English. The industry own standards council rapped the network for that.
Forget CTV and Global. They are beyond redemption, as they demonstrated during their campaign to make viewers pay for what they are now getting free – i.e. cable fees for local over-the-air stations.
I'm talking CBC.
I'm talking excellent original and thought-provoking programming on CBC Radio's Ideas.
I'm also talking The National, which is now riddled with commercials and no longer has the weight or authority it used to have.
That's because, to sell ads, it has to produce eyeballs. That means more Michael Jackson, less Stephen Harper.
And that's not good for Canada.
I hate to say it but The National is too often pre-occupied with trivia. And CBC no longer has the resources to do consistent hard-hitting investigative journalism that answers to no advertisers.
Freedom of Expression: Excuse me but since when did the interests of Zionist lobby groups determine who or what Canadians can see and hear?
In recent months, to list just three examples, there have been concerted campaigns against the staging of Caryl Churchill's controversial Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza and an academic conference at York University where the so-called "one-state solution'' was to be discussed. We also saw British MP George Galloway be denied entry to the country for a speaking tour, just because he brought aid to bombed-out Gaza.
Now comes word that the only way the respected Al-Jazeera English news service, currently applying for TV distribution in Canada, can win the support of these same Jewish groups is to have them become consultants.
Journalistically speaking, that is hardly kosher.
Hoo-boy, did I hear about this one. The usual slurs of anti-Semitism, etc.
My answer? What part of this isn't true?
U.S. War Resisters: Canada's proudest moment this century was when it refused to join George W. Bush in his attack on Iraq.
Those kids were hoodwinked, both by their government and its lapdog media, into thinking they were joining up to protect their country from terrorism and Saddam Hussein's non-existent weapons of mass destruction.
Rather than welcome them, we send them back over the border and to certain prison sentences.
That's not my Canada.
Is it yours?
So, here's the thing.
When former Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, the man who won the Nobel prize for inventing UN peacekeeping, came up with the red and white maple leaf flag, he envisioned it as the sort of flag that would not be associated with war.
Kind of like the way the Norwegian flag is today.
It no longer is the case.
Here's the other thing.
When John Lennon and Yoko Ono chose Canada as the venue for their Give Peace a Chance bed-in in 1969, they did it in part because they considered this country as the embodiment of anti-war values.
It no longer is the case.
As I wrote on the wall at the Imagine exhibit at Montreal's Musee des Beaux-Arts, ''John Lennon would not recognize Stephen Harper's Canada.''
UPPITY WOMAN DATE (July 7/09): Marky Mark, with whom I used to spar on my old blog Azerbic during the Israel-Lebanon conflagration in 2006, has put up a blog post that says it all on the Zionist lobby question, which has exploded in the comments.
Here's an excerpt:
While I think Jewish community advocacy groups have the right to
advocate for Israel, it has gotten to the point where it almost seems
as if a response to a report from a human rights organization
concerning Israel comes from B'nai Brith Canada before there is an
official response from the Government of Israel. This makes no sense to
me. Organizations created to serve the needs of Jewish Canadians should
focus, first and foremost, on that mission.
Sure, most Jewish Canadians feel an affinity to Israel, consistent with connections felt by other "hyphenated" Canadians. All you have to do is watch a post-soccer tournament street party in Toronto to see that Jewish Canadians are not alone in that respect.
But Ms Zerbisias is correct in identifying that what local groups have been doing vis a vis Israel is clear-namely, endeavouring to shut down debate. I think this is wrong, as it is a debate in which Israel can more than hold its own, and I think it is catastrophic for Jewish Canadians because it puts "official" Jewish organizations at war (and one that is unnecessary) with leading progressive figures. And most important, it is morally wrong when it involves accusations of anti-Semitism where (as is almost always the case) that are unwarranted.
Thanks Mark. Who'da thunk, back in 2006, we'd have peace between you and me?