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Harper at Davos: Of swaggering and sweater vests

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So, here we languish in Harperstan, watching our fearless leader off in Switzerland alternately boasting and smacking those Europeans around for their silly attachment to "entitlements" such as workers' rights. Don't worry, he's coming home soon to spank us too. Gone are the sweater vest, the fireplace chat, and the kitten; here's Economic Rambo. I suppose we can console ourselves by noting how much Harper sticks out like a sore thumb amid a growing consensus that the system is broken. Even the founder and chairman of the World Economic Forum has just wondered aloud if capitalism is really working (yes, he really did say that, you weren't reading The Onion. Yeah, Occupy!).

Predictably, Stevie's swaggering excites some as he struts and frets upon the world stage. "Canada: no longer just friendly and harmless" drools an Ottawa Citizen headline. I'm not sure if what's under this disturbing title is an op-ed or a locker-room ritual of hairy-chested fistbumps and guttural roars of "BOOYAH." After describing the one-percenters milling around at piano bars in Davos, Peace Dividend Trust CEO Scott Gilmore reels off a list of names of Big Boys following Harper around and exults that the presence of all these men means we are now "cool" (BOOYAH). No longer do we have a "squishy foreign policy… and a notable lack of 'edge,'" whatever that means. Gilmore goes on to prescribe yet more macho posturing because "our brand is rising" (Austerity = Viagra for these guys?). We Harperstanis need to exhibit "less modesty, more brashness and a cocky stride" as well as a "muscular handshake" (fist bump).

Sigh. Time to write a letter to the Citizen:

Mr. Gilmore, put the cocky away for a minute and look around you. Let's talk reality, not boardroom-speak. Our rich are getting exponentially richer while basic living is getting less affordable for the vast majority. Our government refuses to help set up and fund decent child care for working parents who desperately need it, but wants to spend billions of our hard-earned dollars on jets and jails while the crime rate is decreasing. Now Harper is threatening to kick more supports out from under us -- pensions that low-income and marginalized elderly people are particularly dependent for survival on. That's no cause for celebration.

As somebody who's feeling so patriotic, you might notice that Canadians are walking picket lines because multinational corporations raking in the profits want them to take a 50 per cent pay cut. I guess it would be too "sissy" to care about those workers, their families and the fact that if Caterpillar gets away with this, any of us could lose half our incomes instantly Because The Boss Says So. "If you're not constantly looking at what it takes to be competitive," says Big Boy Caterpillar CFO Ed Rapp, "you're not going to sustain yourself over the long haul." Rapp undoubtedly never has to worry about how he might sustain himself over the long haul should his wages suddenly be slashed in half. Neither, I suspect, do you.

You know, if you're so stoked by all this chest beating at Davos, you might ask Harper if he's actually "got the stones" to stand up to Caterpillar and demand: "Stop kicking our workers around." But Harper, no matter how much he swaggers, isn't really working for the people who elected him, is he now?

--- end of letter ---  

They didn't print it. Booyah...

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