I recently received the following disturbing communication via email from someone named R.R. Climenhaga under the heading "Hon. Jason Kenney, PC, MP."
"Your friend has shared an important message with you," it said. "Click the link below to read it."
I clicked. I read. I sighed.
This is the Important Message I received about Hon. Jason Kenney, PC, MP: "We, the undersigned, thank Jason Kenney for his efforts to streamline benefits afforded to refugees claimants under the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) and bring them in line with the benefits received by tax-paying Canadians…"
So it turns out that this R.R. Climenhaga -- we'll get to who he is in just a moment -- didn't even write this note about Hon. Jason Kenney, PC, MP, who is Canada's minister of immigration and citizenship in the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Hon. Jason Kenney, PC, MP, wrote it! Or, leastways, one of the little spear-carriers in Hon. Jason Kenney, PC, MP's office did.
OK. Now, about this R.R. Climenhaga. I know him quite well. He's a pretty nice fellow, actually. Very quiet. (But then, they always seem say that about people, and I use that term advisedly, who suddenly go all anti-social and turn on their own best friends, teeth bared, don't they?) I know him as Riley, his given name. Riley Climenhaga.
Riley gets on the computer and signs up for all kinds of things. Last time it was the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. Then he sends their stuff around to me. He seems to have a thing for right-wing causes that work against the interests of ordinary Canadians that like to brag about how many ordinary Canadians support them.
The CTF, for example, says it has more than 70,000 supporters -- not members, mind, because that would require filling out a form, which is beyond someone like Riley. And not donors either, for heaven's sake, because, to be blunt about it, Riley Climenhaga, as nice a guy as he is, is not someone who is legally entitled to manage his own money.
In fact, Riley Climenhaga isn't really legally entitled to sign anything, even if he could, but in the case of the CTF you don’t actually have to sign anything. You just click. Et voila! Another Canadian who supports an end to the pension menace! (Not that Riley Climenhaga can speak French, either, or has a pension.)
OK, here's the deal. Riley Climenhaga is … my dog. His fundamental problem isn't that he's dumb. Actually, he's quite bright compared to a lot of the people supporting the latest changes to Canada's refugee policy on Twitter. It’s just that he hasn't got an opposable thumb.
So, I wonder… How many of the CTF's other supporters are dogs too?
More important, how many of Hon. Jason Kenney, PC, MP's legion of supporters are dogs? Or cats. (Mind you, you'd expect that sort of thing from a cat! They're very cold. Unempathetic.) Or hamsters? We know that a heck of a lot of them are parrots -- if you doubt that, just subscribe to Twitter! "Awwwk! Polly want a handgun! Awwwk!!"
So, getting back to my email, who writes up a petition supporting himself and then puts it up on a Website paid for by the taxpayers of Canada and asks us all to sign it? I mean, jeeze! Talk about tacky! That's like organizing your own goodbye party and selling drinks! (Wait! I know a guy who did that! Nobody came and he was stuck with the beer bill.)
And that letter about Hon. Jason Kenney, PC, MP, which was actually by Hon. Jason Kenney, PC, MP, went on … "We don't think that smuggled migrants and bogus asylum claimants should be getting better health care benefits than Canadian seniors and taxpayers." So think about it, people -- and you too, dogs -- isn't this really saying that if Hon. Jason Kenney, PC, MP gets his way that we'll all be getting far less in the health care department?
"We do not think it is right for refugees to get better health benefits than Canadians receive," said Hon. Jason Kenney, PC, MP. "We don't think that smuggled migrants and bogus asylum claimants should be getting better health care benefits than Canadian seniors and taxpayers" -- and since we’re planning to give those seniors a two-year pay cut to the pensions they’ve been paying into for decades, well, you get the picture!
"That is why we support Jason Kenney," Hon. Jason Kenney, PC, MP, concluded, "and his efforts to cut down on this abuse and to make sure that it is Canadian taxpayers that are the primary people benefiting from Canadian healthcare."
Actually, in Hon. Jason Kenney, PC, MP's ideal Canada, the primary people benefiting the most from Canadian health care won't be Canadian taxpayers at all. They'll be the operators of private, for-profit medical facilities, like the tax-dodging corporate nursing home operators who are doing their level best to ensure their clients pay through the nose and their hard-working employees are unable to earn a living wage. After all, they're the folks who donate the big bucks to Hon. Jason Kenney, PC, MP's so-called Conservative Party of Canada.
But he's got a point after a fashion, I guess. I mean, how can you give decent minimal health benefits to refugees -- the poorest and most vulnerable of the world's people who make it to our shores -- when you’re running an ongoing effort to take decent and minimal health, EI and pension benefits away from your own citizens?
That is the Tory plan for the country's flagging economy isn’t it? In the words of a factual little blue video I saw recently: "What's Stephen Harper's solution? Attack the most vulnerable Canadians when they are most in need. With cuts to Employment Insurance, and cuts to your pension …"
Nothing like stirring up a little resentment against the auslanders to get Canadians to forget who's really getting screwed, blued and tattooed around here! Plus, it saves us each 59 cents a year! Pretty soon we’ll have all saved up enough to buy another F-35!
Think about this stuff when Hon. Jason Kenney, PC, MP, puts out the inevitable press release saying how many supporters he has for his campaign to kick the crap out of a group of people who can't defend themselves so that he and his caucus-mates can pick up a few wedge votes in parts of Canada where Riley Climenhaga would likely get kicked if he went for a walk.
Indeed, just as a spokethingy in Hon. Jason Kenney, PC, MP's office told the Toronto Star the other day: "Thousands of people have signed the petition since it was posted weeks ago."
Remember, people: Arf! Arf!
While you're thinking about that stuff, you might also think about this makes the rest of us Canadians look in the eyes of the rest of the world. As Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel recently said in a statement about this unworthy and profoundly un-Canadian policy, "Today, as yesterday, a nation is judged by its attitude towards refugees."
So if you're tempted to sign a self-referential petition like the one Riley Climenhaga sent to me, think about what you're really saying.
And take your dog for a walk, for crying out loud! Dogs get up to mischief if they don't get enough exercise. And if you leave your dog at home alone, for heaven's sake, put chewable shoes in the closet and turn off the computer!
This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.