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Editor's note: This piece contains explicit descriptions which may be upsetting for some readers.
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Anyone who really wants to get the country back from the grim reaper now in charge of Canada -- and who knows our political history -- would look to the NDP as their best hope. They are the only party that is not completely in the pocket of big business and the political elite and that also has a chance of making a difference in Parliament. A lot of people want to believe the NDP can actually make a difference.
If you are searching for significant anniversaries for 2015 one that you might find illuminating is the publication of a book published 40 years ago entitled The Crisis of Democracy. The title would seem fitting today but that's not the crisis its authors had in mind. It was commissioned by a new international boys' club of finance capitalists, CEOs, senior political figures (retired and active) and academics from Europe, North America and Japan.
Imagine for a moment two societies living side by side. One has discovered and uses the wheel effectively -- a technology that makes life easier for workers and boosts the economy for everyone. Prosperity reigns. The society next door is well aware of the wheel and watches as its neighbours move inexorably ahead -- wealthier, more efficient, healthier and with more leisure time for cultural activities. But it is not those who do the work in this society who reject the wheel -- it is the governing elite, the priests, the official advisers and scribes who have incorporated a moral objection to the wheel into the state religion. Use of the wheel is thus proscribed by faith, not reason. All practical arguments in its favour are rendered useless.
However you see it -- as separate from society or integral to it -- Canada's "economy" is increasingly at the mercy of a risk-averse, inept corporate elite addicted to government tax breaks, and an ideologically addled government which more than anything else is simply incompetent. It is a deadly combination -- a sort of dumb and dumber team slowly dragging us backwards at a time when the world is just hoping there won't be another economic collapse.
In this there is little that is really new. It just keeps getting worse, and seems that few in positions to challenge the situation or even expose it are willing to do so. It stems from both moral decay in academia, and political cowardice on the part of opposition parties afraid to seriously challenge the status quo.
Two weeks after the senseless murder of a soldier on Parliament Hill (and another earlier in Montreal) there are several things we know and many we don't. Obvious questions have been asked and inconvenient ones have been left aside. We know -- and indeed could predict one second after the shooting -- that Stephen Harper would use it as an excuse to expand the security and surveillance state he has been constructing. We know that the shooting was not a terrorist act, but a criminal one, regardless of what the RCMP and CSIS, eager to enhance their political role and resources, are saying. (Within an hour of the shooting, an over-eager CSIS official was declaring, hopefully, "this will change everything.")
Questions of root causes
It's getting difficult to remember a time when the Canadian Parliament actually tried to make principled decisions regarding foreign policy and our place in the community of nations. But we should try. Perhaps a first step in returning to such a time was the decision of the NDP and Liberal Party to oppose Stephen Harper's most recent ill-considered and cynical march to war with his decision to join the bombing of Iraq.
By sheer coincidence, the media has recently been filled with stories that reflect the parallel universes we seem to be living in. The first were the stories about the international climate summit and the huge climate march (and hundreds of smaller ones) that preceded it -- punctuated by the launch of Naomi Klein's powerful call-to-action book This Changes Everything: Capitalism versus the Climate adding to the power of the moment.