Here we go again -- the Red Book 3.0, yet another build-up of Liberal election promises just like the ones we've seen before (though I admit the one about changing the voting system might be hard to dodge). The most infamous, of course, was Jean Chretien's, which he held high and waved at every opportunity in the 1993 election. Co-authored by Paul Martin, it promised the world as we would like it: strong communities, enhanced medicare, equality, increased funding for education, an end to child poverty. You could almost hear the violins playing. But what turned out to be the most remarkable thing about the book of promises was the record number that was ultimately broken: all of them.
There's been lots of attention paid recently to the Canada Pension Plan and how to extend it, alongside news stories and commentary about how adequate or otherwise Canadians' retirement situation will be. The sunshine boys over at the C.D. Howe Institute (a.k.a. the Isn't Capitalism Wonderful Institute -- ICWI) reassure us that everything is just fine and we should just shut up and ignore all the warnings. The author of an ICWI study, one Malcolm Hamilton, observes: "Canadians frequently read that they borrow too much, spend too much, save too little, retire too early and live too long."
Opponents of so-called free trade deals have always struggled with the question of why these international treaties don't generate more alarm and vocal opposition from Canadians. These treaties, after all, trump all other Canadian authority to make laws -- provincial legislatures, Parliament, the courts and even the Constitution. If, instead of being bored by news of another ho-hum "trade deal," Canadians were told that a panel of three international trade lawyers would be reviewing all new laws and determining, in secret, which ones passed muster by meeting with the approval of their giant corporate clients, would they react differently?
The CBC's recent revelation that Conservative Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney has called for "zero tolerance" of criticism of Israel and that Canadian hate laws could be applied to those campaigning for BDS -- Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions -- against Israel is repugnant enough. But the truly disturbing irony in this outrageous declaration is that the more extreme the Israeli government becomes, the more illegal settlements it builds, the more explicit its open contempt for world opinion and the more outrageous Netanyahu's statements, the stronger is the support from the Harper government. It raises the question: is there any action, including the actual expulsion of Palestinians from Israel and the Occupied Territories that Harper would not support?
Poor Justin Trudeau. During his infamous coalition flip-flop he looked like a deer caught in the proverbial headlights. He just didn't know which way to run. He's still in the spotlight and will be until he tries again to navigate the most vexing issue he is likely to face in the next six months of electioneering. He and his brain trust know that this question is not going to go away.
It's going to hang over his head right up until the election. The civil society groups and others who cannot bear to even imagine another Harper government will continue to up the ante, and his dodging and bobbing will wear thinner and thinner.
Once a nation parts with the control of its currency and credit, it matters not who makes the nation's laws. Usury, once in control, will wreck any nation.
-- William Lyon Mackenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada, 1935
You know the old aphorism, "If a tree falls in the forest…?" Well, how about this one: if citizens win a significant victory in court against an autocratic government involving the fleecing of Canadians of billions of their hard-earned tax dollars and no one in the media actually covers it, did it really happen?
A news story this week blandly described the perverse reality that is the current state of the Canadian economy. The headline read "Corporate profit margins at 27-year high and likely to stay there." Pretty heady stuff if you took it out of context. But the context is everything: pathetic growth projections, record high personal debt, stagnating wages, hundreds of billions in idle corporate cash, a multi-billion-dollar infrastructure deficit, a growing real estate bubble and a Bank of Canada chief who has no idea how to fix things. And, of course, a prime minister who thinks fixing things is heretical.
The Harper government's pursuit of its odious Secret Police Act (C-51) is just another chapter in the most through-going and massive social engineering project in the history of the country. Social engineering used to be one of the favourite phrases of the right in its attack on social programs -- accusing both liberal-minded politicians and meddling bureaucrats with manufacturing the welfare state. They conveniently ignored the fact that there was huge popular demand and support for activist government.
What are the consequences when elected governments make policy based on faith and imperial hubris instead of science and expertise? It's a question that is forcing itself on the world as we watch the U.S., Britain, NATO and the Harper government continue to up the ante in the confrontation with Russia over Ukraine. There are real enough geopolitical dangers in the world without actually creating them out of arrogance and ignorance but that is where we are right now, and the consequences could be catastrophic.