The Good

Admittedly setting a pretty low standard for what constitutes the good news from 2007, let’s start by noting that Stephen Harper did not get himself a majority government this year. Here is a somewhat random round-up of other bright spots from the past year:

    âe¢ Michael Ignatieff was forced to reverse himself on the Iraq war, even if his “apology” managed to be unapologetic and just plain obnoxious.

    âe¢ The federal NDP made a breakthrough when Thomas Mulcair won the Outremont by-election, which many saw as at least in part a reflection of strong anti-war sentiment in Quebec.

    âe¢ The Globe and Mail did some good journalism, and helped expose the Conservative government’s shameful role in the torture scandal in Afghanistan.

    âe¢ The “pink tide” kept rising across Latin America, adding a new country to what some have called the “axis of good,” with a radical constitutional process underway in Ecuador.

    âe¢ While vibrant indigenous movements made up a key component of the ‘New Left’ in South America, in this country indigenous resistance took to the streets for a day of action on June 29.

    âe¢ Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine âe” a sweeping and devastating indictment of the theory and practice of neo-liberal economics âe” topped bestsellers lists around the world.

    âe¢ Climate change activism in Canada started to catch up to movements in places like the UK, with the December 8 day of action in cities across the country. Meanwhile, in Bali, this country’s youth delegation made waves, keeping the heat on John Baird and the rest of the obstructionists in attendance.

    âe¢ A couple of courageous activists repelled down the Great Wall of China to unveil a Free Tibet banner during a ceremony one year before the opening of the Beijing Olympics.

    âe¢ Across the Pacific, meanwhile, anonymous indigenous activists “liberated” the giant Olympic flag outside City Hall in Vancouver, host of the 2010 Winter Olympics on unceded native land.

    âe¢ Just when you thought the global Harry Potter fever couldn’t get any higher, Hairy Pothead was published on babble!

    âe¢ We previewed rabbletv on Human Rights Day in support of Amnesty International’s Write-a-thon âe” look for the exciting launch of rabbletv early in 2008!

    âe¢ Facebook brought people together (at least on-line), and provided yet another way for progressives to promote their cause(s).

    âe¢ The iPhone and Kindle were introduced, which could change the future of phones and books, respectively. The really good thing is that our readers will be kept up to speed on these and other technological developments by Wayne MacPhail’s regular columns.

    The Bad

    âe¢ In Quebec, an unreasonable accommodation of racism took place in conjunction with the hearings around “reasonable accommodation.”

    âe¢ Jumping on the scapegoating bandwagon, federal politicians got in on the non-issue “veil issue.”

    âe¢ Hampton’s Ontario NDP got hammered in the provincial election. Meanwhile, in a painful and ironic result, the referendum on electoral reform was never given a real chance to succeed.

    âe¢ With coverage that prompted one Russian veteran now living in Canada to compare its coverage of the war in Afghanistan to Pravda’s in the 1980s, Peter Mansbridge, Rex Murphy and the CBC in general, with precious few exceptions, continued to pander to Harper’s hawkish foreign policy.

    âe¢ The Supreme Court turned down an appeal by U.S. war resisters seeking to stay in Canada.

    âe¢ The Harper government continued its attack on Status of Women Canada.

    âe¢ The radical process in Bolivia and the elected government of Evo Morales remained threatened by a manufactured secessionist movement, and Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution suffered what most view as a setback, as Hugo Chavez lost a vote for the first time on a referendum on constitutional amendments.

    âe¢ The disaster resulting from the Iraq war and occupation grew, while the world ignored yet another Middle East refugee crisis.

    âe¢ Pakistan languished in the eye of the “war on terror” storm, as its increasingly erratic and unpopular ruler Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency. Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, the culmination of a tragic year for her country.

    âe¢ Facebook more or less threatened to take over the world, and infringe on everyone’s privacy and time management.

    The Mulroney

    It was an ugly scandal, but in many ways it was beautiful to see “lyin’ Brian” on the hot seat. The timing of the return of the “Airbus affair” (surely one of the most poorly named scandals in memory) helped to take some of the wind out of the sails of Stephen Harper’s government, which had seemingly been setting a straight course to a majority over the floundering Stephane Dion-led Liberals.

    A couple of other scandals were, in their own ways, Mulroney-esque in 2007:

    âe¢ Conrad Black was convicted and sentenced to 78 months in jail for his role in swindling the shareholders of Hollinger International newspaper group. The impact of his crimes against Canadian journalism and public policy, of course, is still being felt. Like Mulroney, Black also published a book this year âe” a biography of Richard Nixon, in fact. The feeling of kinship is not hard to understand. “I am not a crook,” indeed.

    âe¢ The sports world merged with the real world of scandal more than ever. Baseball’s most hallowed record was broken by Barry Bonds, a man whose skull made like Pinocchio’s nose in recent years: while adding dozens of pounds of muscle in his late 30s and early 40s and denying persistent rumours of steroid use, his home run count grew along with his hat size. Bonds has now been charged with perjury for saying under oath he didn’t knowingly take steroids. A number of other baseball stars were named in the Mitchell Report on performance enhancing drugs, including former Blue Jays pitcher Roger Clemens and Canadian closer Eric Gagne.

    Bonds, like Black, shared with Mulroney an uncanny ability to remain – despite all the evidence of his skulduggery – equal parts pompous, indignant, and arrogant. Black, Mulroney, and their running mates/bag men, if nothing else, have helped in 2007 to make a very strong case for one plank of a “law and order” platform with a twist: it’s high time someone brought in mandatory minimum sentences for corporate criminals.