Is Canada really that different from Greece? (Limitations on Democracy)

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Pondering
Is Canada really that different from Greece? (Limitations on Democracy)

TBC

Slumberjack

To be confirmed?

Pondering

We already know that all the premiers signed on to CETA although Newfoundland has since withdrawn support I'm not sure it makes any difference.  Not even parliament is consulted on trade deals, not even when the governing party has a minority.

Canada’s premiers are poised to sign an agreement to fast-track new oil sands pipelines while watering down commitments to fight climate change. The Canadian Energy Strategy will be finalized and unveiled at a premiers’ conference in St. John’s beginning Wednesday. But The Globe and Mail has obtained a draft of the plan that reveals the key points and stumbling blocks.

The confidential 37-page document lays out 10 goals and dozens of action items as part of a sweeping vision for the future of oil, gas and electricity across the country.

The creation of the energy strategy has been a long and belaboured process. The brainchild of former Alberta premier Alison Redford, it was first conceived in 2012 as a way to plan future oil-sands expansion and address climate-change concerns. The premiers have been crafting it for the past three years. The provincial leaders couldn’t have imagined that the agreement would come at a time of low crude prices, oil sands production cuts and economic angst in Alberta and the rest of the country.

Two sections of the plan commit the provinces and territories to help get more pipelines built, in part by cutting down on red tape to speed up regulatory decisions.

Pasted from <http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/pan-canada-energy-strategy-contains-little-action-on-climate-change/article25477300/>

Also consider this:

Liberals and NDP are the same but don't know it: Salutin

They're not even very different from the Conservatives.

It’s as if Canada already has one main opposition party, the LibDp, but the two components haven’t quite realized it. To the degree the NDP has slipped ahead of the Liberals it’s largely because they’ve Liberalized themselves. This has a justice: for years NDPers moaned that Liberals stole their ideas and votes. If neither side admits it, that’s because many Liberals remain under the illusion that the NDP is a left-wing party, and many NDPers share the delusion….

What the phony war between sleeping beauties (or in her bosom) also does is gloss over how much both share with the Tories. That’s the way the system works and it allows for regular, smooth transitions of power. In mid-20th century, the main parties shared a welfare statism (Tories created the CBC). More recently they share an obsession with deficits or what’s called in Europe, the austerity paradigm. The Mulroney Tories (1984-92) began deficit hysteria here. They handed it off to the Chretien-Martin Liberals (1993-2006) who slashed social programs so zealously in order to balance budgets that when Stephen Harper arrived in power, he didn’t look like a radical departure. There’s no reason to expect any serious changes. Thomas Mulcair’s NDP, for instance, insists on balanced budgets except in “a severe economic downturn,” which was exactly Stephen Harper’s position in the 2008-9 crisis….

Meanwhile, it’s interesting to ponder if it’s possible to create a serious opposition party without buying — like the LibDP — into the dominant consensus. Can you distinguish yourself from it without marginalizing yourself? The relevant examples are Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain. Both arose — suddenly and almost from nowhere — in societies shattered by austerity policies, which the main parties, left and right, rolled over for. Now Syriza is in power and Podemos contends. You can see what a fine, treacherous line they’re trying to walk.

Podemos’s leader, Pablo Iglesias, says they avoid the language of socialism and capitalism not because they’re afraid of the concepts but because those concepts are abstract to most people. You need a “high level of political and theoretical imagination” to call capitalism the problem. But people can relate to attacking the 1 per cent because it’s a concrete “personification.”

Pasted from <http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2015/07/09/liberals-and-ndp-are-the-same-but-dont-know-it-salutin.html>

All the contenders for power are basically status quo parties but that is not necessarily undemocratic because most Canadians are more or less satisfied with the status quo. That's why Harper has kept power for so long.  For the most part Canadians may not like him but they felt he was doing an adequate job including those who didn't vote for him.  Even if they grumbled, it wasn't enough to take to the streets, or to support the first coalition attempt. The public is now more open to coalitions but they aren't demanding one.

If forced into it political parties will bow to the people because it's the only way to get elected but only if the public feels exceptionally strongly on one issue, especially if it is non-economic. We have three "balanced budgets" parties because the public has been convinced that balanced budgets are best and it seems like common sense.

I agree with Iglesias, the concepts of socialism and capitalism are abstract to most people. Even in Greece, after all the torture they have been put through over the past 5 years, they are still willing to accept austerity in exchange for remaining in Europe. It's perfectly clear to anyone paying attention that  Germany runs the EU. 

The Oligarchs are achieving their goals through incremental changes and through making everything so complicated people don't understand therefore don't feel qualified to judge or to object. Neoliberals have credibility because they are the ones running the developed economies of the world and creating the complex financial products. To a large extent people feel they have no choice but to trust them, even when they have proof that they are all crooks.

Syriza has proven that some people will rise up and object, but only once things have gone too far and the oligarchs have full control.  It's unlikely Canada will get that far but if they did it would mean that we too would be at the mercy of creditors. We already are to some extent as they set the interest rates that can punish governments that get too far out of line.  There is no need for warfare in the developed countries. All the conquering is done financially.

Canada is still rich enough that we could revolt, but because it is rich enough to revolt, it won't. 

The question is, how do progressives motivate people to demand change before the situation gets so  dire that the financiers have all the power?  Doing more of the same isn't working, at least not nearly fast enough.

Pondering

Slumberjack wrote:

To be confirmed?

LOL, To be Continued.

 

Mr. Magoo

Quote:
The question is, how do progressives motivate people to demand change before the situation gets so  dire that the financiers have all the power?  Doing more of the same isn't working, at least not nearly fast enough.

"Change" is pretty nebulous.

In the interest of discussion, let's borrow from the original "Occupy" and ask "What is our one demand?"

I think it's a given that there will always be more demands, but suppose that instead of the usual hodgepodge of everyone's wishes, from treaty rights to free transit to legalized weed, what if we were to choose one thing and put our collective shoulders to it and push for it?  What thing should we push for first?  What "change" would bring the greatest benefit?

Slumberjack

Mr. Magoo wrote:
"Change" is pretty nebulous.

Yes it does seem rather nebulous from here.

Quote:
I think it's a given that there will always be more demands, but suppose that instead of the usual hodgepodge of everyone's wishes, from treaty rights to free transit to legalized weed, what if we were to choose one thing and put our collective shoulders to it and push for it?  What thing should we push for first?  What "change" would bring the greatest benefit?In the interest of discussion, let's borrow from the original "Occupy" and ask "What is our one demand?"

Well if I'm given just the one:

1.  Lets cease demanding things of a system that doesn't respond to them.

Mr. Magoo

I'd join your demand, but I lost my faith in nihilism.

Slumberjack

You've given it a try?  Have you been holding out?

Mr. Magoo

We're all nihilists when we're 17.

Anyhoo, here's my thinking.  "The system" (whatever that is) "doesn't respond" to demands because nobody ever makes a demand -- they make a huge laundry list of them.  They make a Manifesto Of Demands that requires a table of contents, and appendices.  Our demands are like asking someone to put on their underwear, socks, pants and shirt all at the same time.

So... what if we started with ONE thing.  For now.  One thing that could start untangling the knot of everything else.

NDPP

I don't think 'one thing' is realistic or advisable. However, I would suggest any short list includes NO to big 'Trade' treaties such as CETA, TPP, by any means necessary.  If these pass, we're dead meat. Corporate rule will be complete.

Canada's embrace of a belligerent and dangerous geopolitical US anti-Russia agenda in Ukraine must also end. Related to this is the Call For Sanity on 60th Anniversary of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto, including the looming threat of climate change.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article42348.html

I would also suggest that the big take-away from Greece, is that social democratic parties assumed to be people's 'allies' need to be closely watched for deception and treachery. Assuming we see an NDP government in power we will have to confront these tendencies with realism not wishful thinking or denial.

Finally, Canada's invasion, occupation, despoilation and usurpation of Indigneous sovereignty, lands and resources cannot continue. It was, is, and continues to be GENOCIDE and must be stopped.

Those are my own priorities, others will have their own.

 

wage zombie

Mr. Magoo wrote:

So... what if we started with ONE thing.  For now.  One thing that could start untangling the knot of everything else.

I'd say full network rights--but I know you like to criticize the Pirate Party as a single issue party.

Slumberjack

Mr. Magoo wrote:
Anyhoo, here's my thinking.  "The system" (whatever that is) "doesn't respond" to demands because nobody ever makes a demand -- they make a huge laundry list of them.  They make a Manifesto Of Demands that requires a table of contents, and appendices.  Our demands are like asking someone to put on their underwear, socks, pants and shirt all at the same time.

My take is that if communities of people weren't as neglected as they are, such demands that ensue from all of that would more closely align with the minimalist approach you are looking for.

Quote:
So... what if we started with ONE thing.  For now.  One thing that could start untangling the knot of everything else.

I'm content to stick with the first entry.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

We Are All Greeks Now

The poor and the working class in the United States know what it is to be Greek. They know underemployment and unemployment. They know life without a pension. They know existence on a few dollars a day. They know gas and electricity being turned off because of unpaid bills. They know the crippling weight of debt. They know being sick and unable to afford medical care. They know the state seizing their meager assets, a process known in the United States as “civil asset forfeiture,” which has permitted American police agencies to confiscate more than $3 billion in cash and property. They know the profound despair and abandonment that come when schools, libraries, neighborhood health clinics, day care services, roads, bridges, public buildings and assistance programs are neglected or closed. They know the financial elites’ hijacking of democratic institutions to impose widespread misery in the name of austerity. They, like the Greeks, know what it is to be abandoned....

 

Mr. Magoo

Quote:
I don't think 'one thing' is realistic or advisable.

If one is neither realistic nor advisable, how could 30 be more realistic or advisable?

Or do you mean there cannot be one thing that would bring the greatest benefit to the greatest number?  Such that anything we could demand would be no better nor worse than any other thing?

Sean in Ottawa

Is Canada like Greece? No, absolutely not.

The Austerity we are seeing is nothing like Greece. The risk not either. The economic decisions of the country are not being driven almost exclusively by other countries. The Canadian government still has options and is responsible for those.

The decisions that are being made hae political accountability here and the voters here are responsible for those making the decisions. While there is a lot of power in prvate hands exerting influence on the government the people are not as powerless.

However, a comparosin to Europe may not be completely unfair. There are parts of Canada with economies different from the central economy. These parts use the same currency and live with the same economic decisions. And they may even vote differently than other parts of the country. One part of the country until recently was making a great deal of profit and policies were designed to make that part of the country make even more profit, ignoring the misery that existed elsewhere. The driving force is a hard-nosed right of centre government that cares littlefor many of the people. Decisions are made for the whole country by an eleite who want to take care of themselves.

I could be talking about regions, provinces, Aboriginal communities. You can see we do not all share the same economy. So, we may not be like Greece but we are like Europe in some comparable ways.

And parts of Canada are like Greece too. The level of need and desperation does not exist in any province, but Aboriginal communities could be compared to Greece. They struggle with the greed of the centre, being forced into concessions when the centre wants something of them, having austerity forced on them even as it damages communities and the lives of their people. And they are demonized and blamed for their misfortune. Past wrongs are forgotten as those who abused them in the past insist that they pay in austerity for the profit of others. In Aboriginal communities education and health services are threatened, housing is substandard and unemployment is at Greek levels.

So, no, Canada is different than Greece, but parts of this country are comparable. Most of us are well of Southerners. Most of us are comparable to the Germans in this story and the Harper government is comparable to the Merkel government. some of the provinces might be comparable to France, somewhat sympathetic but not doing enough.

NDPP

If someone trying to live on the $600 a month welfare provides here in Toronto, were to talk to somone living in Athens, I'll bet they'd have more in common than you think Sean, including no confidence at all, based on experience, in either Syriza or the NDP. This is a class war and some of us know very well where the lines are and who is on our side and who is on the other. The problem with the middle class, is that they don't seem to know what they're in the middle of...

Rokossovsky

Good question.

Apparently Ontarians don't even have to be forced to privatize its infrastructure.

takeitslowly

i am not german,  i am definitely a Greek interms of my finances..

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..there is an article that i posted in the 2nd greek thread. and i quote:

"Unfortunately, recent developments tend to confirm the views of those who claimed that, given the extreme delegitimation and fragility of the previous government, a new memorandum was only possible through a new and popular ‘progressive’ government. This is probably the role that Syriza unwillingly ended up playing, using its ample reserves of political capital."

..and i wondered if something similar could happen with the ndp and the tar sand project.

 

Brachina

 I have no use for Salutin, he is dishonest and full of shit,.a Toronto Star lackey of the Liberal Party like most of the hacks that work there. The star is the only paper not to mention that new NDP ads, no.surprise there.

alan smithee alan smithee's picture

NDPP wrote:

If someone trying to live on the $600 a month welfare provides here in Toronto, were to talk to somone living in Athens, I'll bet they'd have more in common than you think Sean, including no confidence at all, based on experience, in either Syriza or the NDP. This is a class war and some of us know very well where the lines are and who is on our side and who is on the other. The problem with the middle class, is that they don't seem to know what they're in the middle of...

This is why I laugh quite hard when people point to welfare for our collective and personal finances. Welfare is peanuts and I can't see anyone being able to realistically exist on a welfare cheque.How does one manage to even pay rent,nevermind utilities and food?

The real 'Welfare Queens' are the corporations.They are to blame for our collective and personal finances -- not the poor.

Time to tax them - heavily and no more 'hand outs'

wage zombie

Mr. Magoo wrote:

So... what if we started with ONE thing.  For now.  One thing that could start untangling the knot of everything else.

Maybe guaranteed minimum income indexed to inflation.

Mr. Magoo

And pissibly indexed to local cost of living.  It's sometimes seemed to me that minimum wage should also be indexed to local cost of living.

Pondering

Slumberjack wrote:

Well if I'm given just the one:

1.  Lets cease demanding things of a system that doesn't respond to them.

epaulo13 wrote:

We Are All Greeks Now

This is the perfect article. It verbalizes what I have been thinking but couldn't articulate.

We have to find a way to generate this and occupy tells me the people are ready. Occupy took a spark, not a specific leader nor a specific demand. The fire just didn't burn hot enough.

The economic and political ideology that convinced us that organized human behavior should be determined by the dictates of the global marketplace was a con game. We were the suckers. The promised prosperity from trickle-down economics and the free market instead concentrated wealth among a few and destroyed the working and the middle classes along with all vestiges of democracy. Corrupt governments, ignoring the common good and the consent of the governed, abetted this pillage. The fossil fuel industry was licensed to ravage the ecosystem, threatening the viability of the human species, while being handed lavish government subsidies. None of this makes sense.

The mandarins that maintain this system cannot respond rationally in our time of crisis. They are trained only to make the system of exploitation work. They are blinded by their insatiable greed and neoliberal ideology, which posits that controlling inflation, privatizing public assets and removing trade barriers are the sole economic priorities. They are steering us over a cliff.

We will not return to a rational economy or restore democracy until these global speculators are stripped of power. This will happen only if the streets of major cities in Europe and the United States are convulsed with mass protests. The tyranny of these financial elites knows no limits. They will impose ever greater suffering and repression until we submit or revolt. I prefer the latter. But we don’t have much time.

Do you agree with Chris Hedges? I do.  We have to find a way to generate mass protests that will make Occupy look small. I don't exactly how but I do know that it can't happen if we don't think about it and reject fatalism.

Focusing on one demand at a time won't do it. We can't demand what we want. We have to take what we want and that will only happen with massive public support.

Slumberjack

Pondering wrote:

We Are All Greeks Now

Do you agree with Chris Hedges? I do.

If those are actually his words, sure.

Quote:
We have to find a way to generate mass protests that will make Occupy look small. I don't exactly how but I do know that it can't happen if we don't think about it and reject fatalism.

My idea of starting with not-voting is already out there.  That shouldn't be considered a fatalist approach, but potentially a start in a different direction.

Quote:
Focusing on one demand at a time won't do it. We can't demand what we want. We have to take what we want and that will only happen with massive public support.

As I was saying about submitting demands, we shouldn't require demands at all if we had actual representatives.  Needs would have been determined through dialogue, assembly, consent.  The problem is that we have nothing resembling that.  The politicks we're given has gotten itself into a quandry.  When it listens, mostly it's the business community/corporations doing the squawking, because over time regular citizens have learned to tune it out because it keeps saying nothing of importance.  If it does say anything it's usually in conjunction with vote buying around election time.  Every other time the population is provided with dictates.

Mr. Magoo

Quote:
Focusing on one demand at a time won't do it. We can't demand what we want. We have to take what we want and that will only happen with massive public support.

What do you plan to "take" then?  A mailbox?  A police car?  An office building?

If you want a change to the financial system you can't just "take" it -- there's nothing to take.  Want more social spending, a different electoral system, a cap on CEO salaries, more action on climate change, gender parity, treaty rights?  Better bring a bag big enough to hold them all when you "take" them.

Slumberjack

Mr. Magoo wrote:
What do you plan to "take" then?  A mailbox?  A police car?  An office building?

One of them souped up Dodge chargers would be nice.

Pondering

Slumberjack wrote:
If those are actually his words, sure.

Follow the link: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/we_are_all_greeks_now_20150712

Slumberjack wrote:
My idea of starting with not-voting is already out there.  That shouldn't be considered a fatalist approach, but potentially a start in a different direction.

I'm really big on voting, and I still will federally, but provincially I am coming around. I will most likely spoil my next ballot. I have always voted Quebec Solidaire as a true party of the left until they endorsed PKP as leader of the PQ. I don't think not voting will send people into the streets in the millions. The demonstrations have to be as big as they were in 95 over separation. Occupy on steroids in countries like Canada that haven't reached a state of collapse.

Slumberjack wrote:
When it listens, mostly it's the business community/corporations doing the squawking, because over time regular citizens have learned to tune it out because it keeps saying nothing of importance.  If it does say anything it's usually in conjunction with vote buying around election time.  Every other time the population is provided with dictates.

Agreed, but the population accepts the dictates because it is the norm and for most it's not that bad. People are relatively satisfied with what we have, or busy trying to survive within the system, and don't see any other realistic option. Even in Quebec, with all the corruption, there has been no revolt strong enough to create significant change. There is discontent but it isn't strong enough to generate revolt especially as we live in a democracy so what is there to revolt against? Anyone can start a political party and if they get enough support be elected. That isn't happening therefore the existing political leaders and systems must be what the majority of people want. As Salutin pointed out, the three major parties all basically support neoliberal priorities. It is a catch 22, that is what the public supports therefore that is what the parties must support to get elected.

Parties are currently elected to run Canada as it exists and tweak it a bit here and there but basically maintain the system. Take care of the economy. Every few years we elect whichever party we think can do the best job running Canada even if that is merely adequate. A while back I was puzzled over why the NDP wasn't doing better because I read a poll that had a high number of people trusting the NDP on the economy and Mulcair was well-liked so what was holding them back? It turns out, not much. Winning in Alberta seems to have pushed the NDP over the top federally. Harper still has surprisingly high support. Liberals are still in the running. Canadian voters are more fluid than ever even though they pay little attention to politics between elections. Many don't vote because they don't care who wins, they are all the same. Others don't feel qualified to judge. I have had people say to me they don't follow politics. Even during an election some people say they just don't know who to believe, it's too complicated. They would rather leave it to people who are better informed.

I believe the environmental movement holds clues to success. They have not focused on electoral politics. They have focused on winning strong support from the public. They have the truth behind them. They have solutions to promote.

Communities that are directly affected are angry and outraged at attempts to force pipelines through, enough that legal or otherwise people will physically block pipelines with the support of the population and even local officials.

Couillard knows that it would be electoral suicide to allow EE through Quebec. There are limits to what corporations can force governments to do if the people won't accept it because ultimately politicians need votes. A politician might willingly fall on "his" sword to push through legislation but even so EE would be stopped by the people of Quebec. Duceppe has come out against EE. It is of little financial benefit to Quebec and threatens the St Lawrence river. Separatists, nationlists, and student unions will join environmentalists and indigenous peoples to have hundreds of thousands of people willing to demonstrate and a lot of them willing to physically block the work. Quebec has a tradition of rebellion.

If enough citizens are angry enough and determined enough we can force government and corporations to bow to our will, not just on the environment, but on everything. We can force them to open the books. We can force them to end patronage appointments. There are many issues in which we are all on the same side, even Conservatives.

The environmental movement has been careful not to become ensnared in electoral politics. They may support a particular candidate but it is for specific positions on specific issues rather than supporting a particular party. That's important because as soon as you seem to be supporting a particular party everything you say becomes suspect.

So, people have to get really economically desperate like Greece or really threatened, like having their environment irreparably harmed, to "revolt".  Something has to make people angry and determined.I think occupy proved that people are ready.

It is too soon for demands. What is needed is a clear target. Then we can determine the weapons. We have to do no less than the French revolutionaries did, depose the oligarchs, but we don't have to behead anyone or do it by force, at least not in Canada.

Mr. Magoo wrote:

So... what if we started with ONE thing.  For now.  One thing that could start untangling the knot of everything else.

One goal, force political parties to answer to the people instead of to corporations. Neither PR nor AV will do that even if you could convince people to go for it. "Wall/Bay street" would still be in control.

The only way to motivate people is to make them angry enough that they take to the streets to demand genuine accountablity. For that they need human targets and a specific goal, but first, they just need to be angry.

In a way it is a little like what the NDP is doing in the latest ad. Naming all the corrupted officials connected to Harper. No argument is needed. Viewers can come to our own conclusions. When we come to our own conclusions we are less easily swayed by arguments. So step one is just the facts neither favoring nor targeting political parties. Getting people sufficiently riled up is much easier said than done. On the other hand, we have truth on our side and never have revolutionaries had such access to mass media through social media. Occupy basically went viral. 

Once they are riled up the first demands have to be completely non-partisan and very realistic.

Knowledge is power, literally, which is why governments are so tight with it. I see no reason why we can't be aware of all city contracts and hospital budgets and much much more. I'm not a data expert but it seems to me if governments can manage to store and search massive amounts of private data it should be a piece of cake to make government information far more accessible. I wouldn't know what to demand specifically but there are plenty of tech activists who could steer us in the right direction if we ever get that far. One really easy demand is genuine and strong protection for whistleblowers. The ability to recall politicians is another biggie. Unmuzzled scientists of course. Once that information starts flowing out there are experts in every field that will do data mining.

What would happen from there I have no idea. I believe oligarchs are stealing the wealth of the world not just Canada. The only way to stop them is to rip the curtain away. Follow the money.

Sean in Ottawa

NDPP wrote:

If someone trying to live on the $600 a month welfare provides here in Toronto, were to talk to somone living in Athens, I'll bet they'd have more in common than you think Sean, including no confidence at all, based on experience, in either Syriza or the NDP. This is a class war and some of us know very well where the lines are and who is on our side and who is on the other. The problem with the middle class, is that they don't seem to know what they're in the middle of...

I am sorry but this is irrelevant. And it is wrong.

The question is Canada different than Greece. And I gave my answer.

Now you raise a comparison between a person on welfare in Canada and someone in Greece (presumably in the same situation). That is a completely different thing. And it deserves some facts.

First let me say that $600 in Toronto is a crime -- it is indefensible. It is also the choice of a country that can afford to do much, much better and that is one of the huge differences. But since you put out the number let's examine it more closely.

$600 is for an individual. The median income in Ontario for an individual in 2013 (must be a little better now) was 23,900 for persons not in families (your $600 example).

http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/famil108d-eng...

$600 is $7200 per year. Thus a person on social assistance in Ontario gets about 30% of the median income.

In Europe the average looks like it is a bit better -- although I don't have the precise amount: In Germany a person on social assistance gets 53% of the median income; in Ireland over 70%. But we are not talking about Europe we are talking about Greece.

In Greece social assistance provides 3% (one tenth of the Ontario ratio).

http://www.eutopiamagazine.eu/en/alessandro-giovannini/columns/5-facts-a...

Now that 3% is not of the Ontario median income. Now I admit I am not sure if this source is saying median European income for a singel person of Greece -- the difference is huge. Depending on how you define Europe the median income they refer to in the above article could be as high as 16624 Euros or as low as 8400 Euros (Greece only). This means a range of 11,800 to 23,440. 3% of that is 354 to 703. Sounds good so far except these figures are PER YEAR. In monthly terms your $600 is compared to $29.50 to $58.58.

And for the record the median income monthly in Greece for all single people is not that much higher than the social assitance amounts in Toronto in raw terms -- median monthly income is only $983 in Greece. So the median Greek income is a bit better than the person on social assistance in Ontario. But I doubt that was your point.

I know you say Cost of living is high in Toronto. Let's compare to Athens. Prices are 28% higher in Toronto than Athens but the difference is greater for food and rent. So let's just take those. Prices for rent are 61% higher in Toronto than Athens and for food 51% higher.

http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_cities.jsp?country1=Greece&...

So now let's factor this into the different incomes. In fact let's just go with the rental difference of 61%. And let's go with the higher median income in case that is what they meant so we multiply $58.58 times 161% = 94.31

So now we have a figure to compare with your $600 figure for Toronto and it is $94.31 -- having taken every variable we can to bring up the Greek number.

That is what a Greek person gets compared to a Toronto person on social assistance -- after accounting for higher rent in Toronto.

Yes it is body and mind-destroying poverty to live on $600 a month in Toronto. But you cannot say that a person on social assistance in Greece is in the same situation. They have less than 1/6 of that. They would eat free scraps where they can if they find shelter it may be in rooms with several people in each. In Toronto perhaps a couple in each bad room and a horrible unhealthy diet. But do you really want to compare to Greece?

As for hope if you are unemployed in Greece you are like 25% of the country. In Ontario we consider 7% to be very bad.

But the point I was comparing was Greece to Canada as the OP asked. Not a social assistant recipient in either country.

When it comes to social assistance -- Greek social policy is now being dictated by Europe and the country is broke. Really broke as in cannot make payments to pensions broke. Ontario is not in that position. Ontario decided what welfare rates are. Ontario could quadruple them and still be nowhere near the position Greece is in.

Greece is in an economic crisis. Ontario is not. You can appeal to the Ontario government to raise social assistance rates which are in our context are criminal. The government of Ontario, if it wanted to, could improve things dramatically. Greece does not have the option to bring their rates up to where Ontario's are now.

So please-- I know how bad things are here. But there is still no comparison to Greece and I am sorry to say it is rather silly to suggest there is.

I understand why though -- $600 a month in Toronto sounds like it could not be worse but the answer is -- it can be -- like it is in Greece. But the Greeks can say (for now) that they cannot afford much more and here we can't say that.

 

Sean in Ottawa

BTW Greek unemployment insurance replaces 49% of income if you have it -- in Canada it repalces 64% of income and the Canadian median income is double the Greek median income.

Sean in Ottawa

BTW the welfare rates in Greece are one-time payments it seems. In fact there is no general welfare scheme in Greece. So when you use up your one time payment and any unemployment benefits you are screwed.

And the Greek unemployment benefits are lower than ours.

Yes, things are that bad.

Consider this when you look at what Europe is doing to the country.

Pondering

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

NDPP wrote:

If someone trying to live on the $600 a month welfare provides here in Toronto, were to talk to somone living in Athens, I'll bet they'd have more in common than you think Sean, including no confidence at all, based on experience, in either Syriza or the NDP. This is a class war and some of us know very well where the lines are and who is on our side and who is on the other. The problem with the middle class, is that they don't seem to know what they're in the middle of...

I am sorry but this is irrelevant. And it is wrong.

The question is Canada different than Greece. And I gave my answer.

Now you raise a comparison between a person on welfare in Canada and someone in Greece (presumably in the same situation). That is a completely different thing. And it deserves some facts.

No that isn't the question. Of course Canada is different from Greece in a multitude of ways. Our country isn't being taken over by the EU, we aren't bankrupt.  This is the question:

Is Canada really that different from Greece? (Limitations on Democracy)

If you read the opening post it was about how similar the parties are to one another on policy while acknowledging they have to be that way to get elected. We don't have a Syriza but even if we did they probably wouldn't win. How much money a party can raise makes a huge difference. Changing the way we elect our representatives would still leave the financial elites ruling the roost. That is who governments answer to, in Greece, and in Canada. As long as that is true we can only tweak the existing system.

NDPP's comment:

NDPP wrote:
If someone trying to live on the $600 a month welfare provides here in Toronto, were to talk to somone living in Athens, I'll bet they'd have more in common than you think Sean, including no confidence at all, based on experience, in either Syriza or the NDP. This is a class war and some of us know very well where the lines are and who is on our side and who is on the other. The problem with the middle class, is that they don't seem to know what they're in the middle of...

Sure the NDP, or the Liberals, or a coalition of the two might improve things, we might get a minimum income which would be a huge improvement for improverished people, but it would still leave the oligarchs in charge. NDPP is right. This is class warfare. As long as the oligarchs are in charge we can't win.

The similarity lies in who controls our government. It isn't us, we just think it is. I'm trying to have a non-partisan discussion about how to foment a revolution in a relatively wealthy democratic country. How to get millions of people into the streets demanding change from whichever party happens to be in power in the moment.

It's because we are a wealthy country that we could succeed where Greece has failed in taking control of our country.

One think Syriza did right was to ignore left/right politics in building support. They were a one issue party. Anti-austerity. Because conditions are so dreadful in Greece he was able to unite people against it.

The environmental movement has also crossed the boundries of left and right by focusing on an issue everyone can get behind.

Syriza tapped into the anger against austerity to rouse people to action. The environmental movement tapped into the anger of people along pipelines that would not benefit economically and would be placed at risk.

Occupy got a lot of support because of the notion of the 99%. They didn't literally mean the 99%, they just rounded it to that. Why did it appeal so much? Because most people think they are part of the 99%. The movement wasn't about just fighting poverty, it had a positive target, Wall street, where anger could be directed. It floundered when it had no initial demands and then became about people losing their homes etc. People may be sympathetic to that cause but most don't feel personally impacted. 99% of people are not losing their homes.

We need to occupy the oligarchy. To do that we must tap into the discontent that Occupy revealed, turn it into deep seated anger and resentment, then offer demands that everyone can support regardless of where they sit on the political spectrum because they finally understand that we are all being screwed over.

 

Sean in Ottawa

No Pondering you are ignoring the essential difference.

And you are not alone in ignoring it -- and this is all the more bizarre since we have hundreds of posts all wandering around the same issue.

The opening post asks us to compare not the people -- not the parties but the countries "is Canada different from Greece"

Not "are the political parties in Canada different than Greece"

And there you have to consider what is the huge newsworthy point about Greece. Is it their poverty? No, not really. Is it to do with democracy? Yes but the issue is not lousy choices between political parties but lousy chocies that any party would face -- becuase they are no longer an independent country. And the people no longer elect the entity that makes the central governing decisions.

The news story we are seeing over and over - is the issue of sovereignty -- and of course this has a direct and virtually total impact on democratic process. And this is the point of comparison (the situation of two nations). And so I addressed how comparable Canada is to the situation Greece finds itself in. Greece is being dictated to because it is on its knees economically to an outside entity that is calling the shots and effectively destroying what it is that makes Greece an independent country. It is destroying the social and economic fabric of Greece.

I did make the point that there are parts of Canada where decisions are imposed on them -- in our case not without a vote but certainly without a veto. And there are parts of the country that if independent would have a different policy with respect to currency -- a different banking, fiscal and economic policy. And so I acknowledged that could be the case -- that in a small way there are provinces who may feel imposed upon like Greece. But Canada as a whole is not in that situation and the government we elect does have the power to decide.

And when it comes to democracy, the Greek government is irrelevant because the decisions are being made outside Greece. Greek democracy is limited because the decisions are not being made in Athens. The limit is that the Greeks are faced with non choices.

This is not happening here.

The question you are asking is so far behind this essential question. Canada may have a lot of political power in the hands of a few. But we have what is widely defined as responsible government -- the government we elect has the power to make the decisions. In Greece they elect a government. That government does not believe in the legislative agenda but its opinion is not relevant as the decision was made in Berlin. This is a more fundamental difference than what you are trying to define as the question.

When we ask to compare the democratic limitations on specific countries we should not expect to exclude the elephant in one room that is not in another in search of the mice that live in all of them. That makes mockery of the question.

The essential point is this: what ever comparison you might make to the issues with the political process in either country -- the difference I am pointing to make the question irrelevant. The reason I can say this is simple: if you were to fix Greece and give it the perfect process and the perfect result in terms of its internal democratic process you would be faced with the reality that it does not make a difference. The people are split over an impossible decision with all the significant choices made in Berlin.

You could also make the case that even if you fixed the situation -- the relevant choices that would have provided democratic choice and options if they ever existed in Greece, they existed in the past.

None of this is true in Canada. The problems we have right now with inappropriate austerity come from an elected government -- one that we have the opportunity to get rid of. And a new country, without asking permission from a foreign country, can chart a different choice.

You may hate the decision that Tsipras has made -- but it is fair to say that most people would consider the only other option he had to be devastating. There is no real choice for their government and that is why there is no choicefor their people.

Tsipras is not trying to screw Greece. He is not a right winger. He is making a decision based on his assessment of what is the least bad option where there are almost no options available. This is the real difference. The democratically elected government of Greece has almost no options and it is a global debate as to which bad option would screw them more. And they are looking at a huge loss of sovereignty.

Canada has a screwed up democracy in some respects but at least we vote for the government that actually makes the decisions. And that government actually has full choices and can go in more than one ideological direction. Through our system our people in an election can choose very different paths for our country's future.

NDPP

Thanks for this Sean. It is useful information much of which was new to me.

Pondering

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
 

And when it comes to democracy, the Greek government is irrelevant because the decisions are being made outside Greece. Greek democracy is limited because the decisions are not being made in Athens. The limit is that the Greeks are faced with non choices.

This is not happening here.

Exactly. That is why in Canada we still have the opportunity to take control away from the oligarchs.

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
The question you are asking is so far behind this essential question. Canada may have a lot of political power in the hands of a few. But we have what is widely defined as responsible government -- the government we elect has the power to make the decisions. 

I beg to differ. We have had governments dedicated to neoliberal policies for decades. Canadians have consistently priorized medicare but the governments have continued to chip away at it. Our government is not responsive to the people's needs and has not been looking to the best interests of Canada and Canadians. Trade deals are written for the primary benefit of oligarchs acting through corporations.

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
In Greece they elect a government. That government does not believe in the legislative agenda but its opinion is not relevant as the decision was made in Berlin. This is a more fundamental difference than what you are trying to define as the question.

That's right, as I have pointed out multiple times, Canada can still revolt because unlike Greece we are in a much better economic situation. Canada has far more natural resources so I don't think we could ever be as bad off. Nevertheless, our government is still more responsive to corporations than to the people.

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
The essential point is this: what ever comparison you might make to the issues with the political process in either country -- the difference I am pointing to make the question irrelevant. The reason I can say this is simple: if you were to fix Greece and give it the perfect process and the perfect result in terms of its internal democratic process you would be faced with the reality that it does not make a difference. The people are split over an impossible decision with all the significant choices made in Berlin. 

Exactly. The oligarchs have Greece in a stranglehold. They do not have Canada in a stranglehold. Therefore, unlike Greece, Canadians can regain control.

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
None of this is true in Canada. The problems we have right now with inappropriate austerity come from an elected government -- one that we have the opportunity to get rid of. And a new country, without asking permission from a foreign country, can chart a different choice. 

Elephant in the room being that they all still support the neoliberal model and promise balanced budgets and pipelines even though both are bad for Canada.

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
Canada has a screwed up democracy in some respects but at least we vote for the government that actually makes the decisions. And that government actually has full choices and can go in more than one ideological direction. Through our system our people in an election can choose very different paths for our country's future.

Yes, that is my point, in Canada, all that is possible, but it is not happening. There is no Canadian Syriza and it is unlikely one will rise because Canadians are too complacent and it is incredibly expensive to start up a political party and raise enough funds to compete on an even playing field with the established parties.

We will not return to a rational economy or restore democracy until these global speculators are stripped of power. This will happen only if the streets of major cities in Europe and the United States are convulsed with mass protests. The tyranny of these financial elites knows no limits. They will impose ever greater suffering and repression until we submit or revolt. I prefer the latter. But we don’t have much time.

http://www.truthdig.com/report/page3/we_are_all_greeks_now_20150712

Do you agree with the above? If so, it will not happen through electoral politics. It will only happen through people getting angry enough to exert the power we have to deny consent to whichever government is in power when they are not acting in our best interests. An example is how we are denying consent for pipelines and that denial is preventing pipelines from being built. That illustrates that we do still have people power in Canada.

Like Chris Hedges, I agree that we need mass protests to take power back from financial elites. Do you disagree with that conclusion?

mark_alfred

Why would anyone want a Canadian Syriza?  Greek bailout deal highlights monumental scale of Syriza’s betrayal

Quote:

Syriza, elected just six months ago on the basis of a pledge to end austerity, is set to endorse by a large majority of its parliamentary deputies measures that go far beyond those agreed by the New Democracy and PASOK government it replaced.

I'm guessing they would have been better off with either PASOK or at least the PASOK/New Democracy coalition.  In Canada, people would be better off with the NDP or at least an NDP/Liberal coalition rather than the Conservatives or Liberals or some left-right "radical" mish mash. 

But anyway, as Sean pointed out, Greece and Canada are two different ballgames regarding the severity of the situation.  Also, democratically speaking, we still have our own currency and are not relying on bailouts from external sources (to my knowledge, anyway).  Government here is still capable of providing stimulus when needed to assist important sectors of employment for working Canadians (IE, the auto industry, as both the Ontario Libs and federal Cons did a few years back). 

We have valuable resources and government has the means to impose greater control over those.  Likewise we have the ability to elect a government that has the means to require corporations to pay a fairer share of the country's taxes.  Alberta is an example of this as the citizens there elected the NDP to conduct a royalty review of their resources and to increase corporate taxes (the federal NDP will do likewise with corporate taxes if elected). 

Right wingers like to encourage hyper-criticality and apathy within those (youth, women, working class) who are more likely to elect social democratic parties that will provide better policies via bizarre declarations that it's all hopeless ("If so, it will not happen through electoral politics").  Thus, right-wing parties receive a greater proportion of their supporters showing up at the polling station, and slowly but surely (IE, the last 30 years in Canada) many egalitarian programs are weakened.  However, Alberta is the first glimmer that this can change.  Next stop, Canada.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Poem by Agnes Török on the news of a new Conservative budget. Based on experiences of living in Britain under austerity as a young, queer, unemployed, female immigrant student - and not taking it any more

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kiaxHUFAWew

mark_alfred

Not saying that.  Both electoral politics and activism are important.  Apathy in either is not good.

Pondering

epaulo13 wrote:

Poem by Agnes Török on the news of a new Conservative budget. Based on experiences of living in Britain under austerity as a young, queer, unemployed, female immigrant student - and not taking it any more

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kiaxHUFAWew

Thank you, very impressive, powerful.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Pondering wrote:

epaulo13 wrote:

Poem by Agnes Török on the news of a new Conservative budget. Based on experiences of living in Britain under austerity as a young, queer, unemployed, female immigrant student - and not taking it any more

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kiaxHUFAWew

Thank you, very impressive, powerful.

Wow, I agree with Pondering. And it's had over 140K views. We need more of this.

Sean in Ottawa

Pondering do not paraphrase me. Your statements about your own opinions are confused enough.

I will say that your last paragraph is a mischaracterization and I'd like you to take my name out of the paragraph.

I am not going to engage in your questions here becuase you are all over the road with what seem to me to be endless contradictions.

For the record -- the fact that I think electoral politics are not only useful but essential, does not negate my interest in other forms of expression and action or my feeling that these are also important. Indeed, I participate in some.

You have enough trouble speaking for yourself -- do not speak for me.

Mr. Magoo

Quote:
Why would anyone want a Canadian Syriza?

They want a "January" Syriza, not a "July" Syriza.

Pondering

mark_alfred wrote:

Not saying that.  Both electoral politics and activism are important.  Apathy in either is not good.

I'm not promoting the Liberals or telling anyone not to vote NDP, or not to vote at all. I'm saying regardless of who we elect we will still have a neoliberal system because that is what most people support not just rich people. The NDP is not going to go against the majority of Canadians.

I am trying to have a thread about how we can create a movement to take the power oligarchs have over Canadian politics away from them regardless of who wins the election. I'm trying to talk about issues that cross the left/right divide and partisanship, issues that can unite Canadians across the divides and eventually take hold in other countries just as Occupy did, call it reviving and growing the leaderless Occupy movement. In a movement with no official leaders we are all leaders.

A handful of us on this site could change the world. All it takes is one straw to break the camel's back. One of us here could be that straw, or create the fuse that gets lit with a match, if we could focus on brainstorming how to foment a peaceful revolution.

That will not be achieved by voting for any political party. The NDP is not planning a revolution against the oligarchs, peaceful or otherwise.

How do you foment a revolution in a country like Canada in which most people are relatively content with their lot in life and don't pay much attention to politics between elections?

My approach is to begin by thinking about what motivates people to desire revolt and what prompts them to act on that desire.

We will not achieve this:

We will not return to a rational economy or restore democracy until these global speculators are stripped of power. This will happen only if the streets of major cities in Europe and the United States are convulsed with mass protests. The tyranny of these financial elites knows no limits. They will impose ever greater suffering and repression until we submit or revolt. I prefer the latter. But we don’t have much time.

http://www.truthdig.com/report/page3/we_are_all_greeks_now_20150712

by electing the NDP.

So could we maybe discuss how to achieve the above in Canada?

Mr. Magoo

Quote:
A handful of us on this site could change the world. All it takes is one straw to break the camel's back.

Actually, it takes a lot of them.  "The straw that breaks the camel's back" simply refers to the last of those many.

Quote:
How do you foment a revolution in a country like Canada in which most people are relatively content with their lot in life and don't pay much attention to politics between elections?

A fair question might be "why do you want to, if Canadians are content?"

It's like saying "how can I fix my friends' happy marriage?"

That said, you could do as I think some do and start to take a secret satisfaction in government screw-ups.  Cross your fingers that the PanAm games turn out to be a huge loss, or some government-endorsed pipeline ruptures or whatever.  Maybe we can make things worse so they can get better.

mark_alfred

Pondering wrote:

A handful of us on this site could change the world. All it takes is one straw to break the camel's back. One of us here could be that straw, or create the fuse that gets lit with a match, if we could focus on brainstorming how to foment a peaceful revolution.

That will not be achieved by voting for any political party.

If the thread is about creating a movement rather than about Canadian politics, then it likely should be in the Activism category rather than the Canadian-Politics category.

Sean in Ottawa

mark_alfred wrote:

Pondering wrote:

A handful of us on this site could change the world. All it takes is one straw to break the camel's back. One of us here could be that straw, or create the fuse that gets lit with a match, if we could focus on brainstorming how to foment a peaceful revolution.

That will not be achieved by voting for any political party.

If the thread is about creating a movement rather than about Canadian politics, then it likely should be in the Activism category rather than the Canadian-Politics category.

This is a thread drift not the purpose of the thread. I would not move threads to accomodate drift when people have participated and might want to come back.

Much as I appreciate the link between voting Liberal and giving up on political change from within the system. I have to agree voting Liberal is a very pessimistic outlook on our electoral system -- perhaps one step above not voting at all.

mark_alfred

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
A handful of us on this site could change the world. All it takes is one straw to break the camel's back.

Actually, it takes a lot of them.  "The straw that breaks the camel's back" simply refers to the last of those many.

Quote:
How do you foment a revolution in a country like Canada in which most people are relatively content with their lot in life and don't pay much attention to politics between elections?

A fair question might be "why do you want to, if Canadians are content?"

It's like saying "how can I fix my friends' happy marriage?"

That said, you could do as I think some do and start to take a secret satisfaction in government screw-ups.  Cross your fingers that the PanAm games turn out to be a huge loss, or some government-endorsed pipeline ruptures or whatever.  Maybe we can make things worse so they can get better.

Yeah.  A friend of mine spouts such drivel.  He often goes on about how it would be best for unions to be illegal and to allow for a laissez-faire society so that things get so bad that the people will rebel and create utopia.  An idiotic premise.  Hard fought rights should be protected.  People should continue to struggle to both protect and enhance such rights (both electorally and otherwise).  The idea of seeing rights as a barrier to progress (via "revolution" or whatever) is absurd. 

Pondering

It is about creating a movement to defeat the control oligarchs have over government decisions regardless of who wins power.

I'm not arguing that people shouldn't vote. Lets just agree, in this thread, for the sake of argument, that everyone should vote NDP and that the NDP will win the next election. Can we move on now?

epaulo13 wrote:

..there is an article that i posted in the 2nd greek thread. and i quote:

"Unfortunately, recent developments tend to confirm the views of those who claimed that, given the extreme delegitimation and fragility of the previous government, a new memorandum was only possible through a new and popular ‘progressive’ government. This is probably the role that Syriza unwillingly ended up playing, using its ample reserves of political capital."

..and i wondered if something similar could happen with the ndp and the tar sand project.

Yes, for sure Mulcair will support the development of the tar sands and Energy East abeit with more environmental safeguards. He will also support free trade deals if not the provisions for investor protections.

This is because big money exerts enormous influence on the decisions of the Canadian Government regardless of which party is in power. To some extent the parties have no choice. Credit agencies threaten governments with higher interest rates if they stray too far from neoliberal practice. Some leftist tweaking is tolerated as long as the basic neoliberal framework isn't threatened which includes no deficits, unless they are created by lowering taxes for the wealthy which is why the Harper deficits didn't worry them.

To gain compliance from children you limit their choices to those you approve of. You can hold my hand or you can ride in the stroller. Limiting choices gives them control, but only between the options you have decided are acceptable to you. You may prefer that they would ride but you will accept hand holding.

Likewise, oligarchs limit our choices while allowing us to believe we have control through electoral politics. Electoral politics is the means through which we can regain control of government, but not through supporting a particular political party. We can still do that, it can still be better than the alternatives, but it will not give us primary control over our government.

We have a forum for the 2015 election. To some extent all activism is political so creating a movement to regain control over the Canadian government and parties is activism, but not the kind that is about a special interest issue, like the oil sands or abortion. In this case the issue is political control of Canada so using the Canadian politics forum is I think defensible.

Who controls the Canadian political system beyond which party happens to be in power? In my opinion, that would be oligarchs.

The people aquiesce to control by oligarchs while believing we live in a democracy.

So, how do we overthrow the oligarchs?

Sean in Ottawa

I find this thread incredibly insulting to what the Greeks are facing. It minimizes their plight through comparison to ours. Happy to engage in a discussion about Canada elsewhere but I find this context offensive.

Mr. Magoo

OK, I'm playing the "Pondering drinking game" where everytime you say "oligarchs" I have to take a shot, and I've just finished my second 40 of Grey Goose.

Pondering

Mr. Magoo wrote:
Actually, it takes a lot of them.  "The straw that breaks the camel's back" simply refers to the last of those many.

Then perhaps the better analogy is finding the right thread to pull that unravels the entire curtain the wizards are hiding behind.

Mr. Magoo wrote:
A fair question might be "why do you want to, if Canadians are content?"

Because the only reason they are content is because there is a lot they don't know about the people who coerce governments to their will and exploit their labor and Canada's wealth.

Mr. Magoo wrote:
That said, you could do as I think some do and start to take a secret satisfaction in government screw-ups.  Cross your fingers that the PanAm games turn out to be a huge loss, or some government-endorsed pipeline ruptures or whatever.  Maybe we can make things worse so they can get better. 

Things have to get really really really bad, like Greece bad, before people will revolt on that basis. By then it is too late for a peaceful revolution. They would have had to revolt in 2010.

It's not suffering that causes revolt. It is believing that specific people are causing you sufficient harm, and they will be replaced by something better, so that it is worth the cost of revolt. In 2010 the Greeks still trusted governments enough to believe that the bigshots would work it out so that Greece would eventually recover. Revolting would have just made it more difficult to get through the inevitable process.

The neoliberal philosophy has won and we are only beginning to feel the pain. The longer oligarchs have control the more painful it will become and the harder it will become to revolt.

Revolt now wouldn't be painful for very long. Things would start improving very quickly because even under capitalism there is plenty of wealth to go around, especially in Canada. There is no reason for a single Canadian child to grow up in poverty or for anyone to be homeless. It's actually less expensive to house addicts and the mentally ill than it is to leave them on the street. It is philosophy and public ignorance not economics that keeps them there.

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