Here are my eight tasks–with my priority
Collaborative, responsive, regional, transparent Politics
This is over-riding. I am appalled to see how difficult it is even to figure out how the CRD works, let alone to have a voice.
2. Voting 2018
Get this up to 50% turnout. A measureable goal.
With a BIG turnout of U-40’s.
3. Sewage
  • Tertiary
  • Collaborative
  • Distributed
  • Gasification
  • No P3
4. Transportation
  • Green–that is more linkages but fewer cars with a single passenger
  • bottom up planning
5. Real Sustainability
  • No more Leonard crap about planting a few trees and buying a few electrics cars getting us anywhere.
  • Municipal purchase and management of island forests as we move Saanich households away from fossil fuels and towards a neutral carbon footprint
  • Huge task–a single tree offsets only 48 lbs of CO2. A Saanich family is responsbile for about 40 tons of CO2 per annum
  • Green Funds for non-fossil power from individuals, investors and municipal tax base
  • rethink of the tree bylaw to make it incentive-driven: tax credits for carbon storage above some minimum requirement
6. Farms and urban containment
  • Just keeping the boundary where it lies now is essential, but inadequate
  • We need that land growing food
  • Which means municipal/trust ownership of land and
  • tax rebates to real farmers rather than low taxes for rich people to ride their horses around
7. Reform of the CRD
  • Which means figuring out how it works and
  • how we can move control to people who believe in CRRTP
8. Active Participation by voters –year round not once every 4 years
  • Support for SCAN and the resident associations
  • real roles for advisory boards
  • video of council meetings
  • town halls–regular and informativ

Tracy Johns. Teacher.

This is a moving, intelligent concise post from the battles lines to preserve educational values in BC. Thank you, Tracy Johns.


Teaching in 2014.   September 3rd, 2014.

I am a teacher in B.C. and I have been quiet (for the most part) about the ongoing conflict and subsequent job action. Quiet even when reading comments online and in the papers attacking me as being selfish, lazy and greedy. Quiet even when the guy in the white SUV drove past me on the picket line yesterday screaming at me to “get back to work #$%^ing lazy…” There are a lot of statistics and ‘facts’ being put forth by the government but these are my facts, my reality.

1. I taught Grade 4 last year with 29 students. 6 students were on an Individual Education Plan and at least 10 more required a lot of support. More than I could give.

2. I had an amazing Education Assistant that worked tirelessly to help as many students as possible but was often required to follow and keep safe, the one student that had such high learning needs and anxiety that he would run from the class, building and even the school grounds.

3. I had students that would hit, punch, kick, swear, yell, cry, throw chairs etc. Students that were in and out of foster care, students that came to school hungry. With all these needs I often did not get to those who were not acting out. Consequently I found out months after it happened that one of my student’s parents had gotten divorced. She certainly could have used some extra attention and support.

4. You would think that this was a very unusual case and that most classes are not like this wouldn’t you? Unfortunately this is becoming the norm.

5. Despite the challenges, I LOVE my job. I genuinely care about all of my students and couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

6. B.C. has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the country, are funded $1000 each per year less than the national average while one of the wealthiest provinces. $1000 less? How is that OK? (This makes me furious as a parent and as a teacher)

I have run the full gamut of emotions about this over the summer. Panic about how to feed my family (despite the stats being put forth- at 7 years of teaching without yet getting a continuing contract I make less as a teacher than I did at Starbucks), fear about the future for all our children, and finally anger. I have had enough. If you still think this is about a pay raise or better benefits then you really need to educate yourself. We will never, not ever, get back the money that we lost since this job action started.

Teachers, and everyone that works in a caring profession, go out of their way to make sure those in their care get what they need. After more than a decade of cuts,we can no longer stretch to cover what is not being funded. I can’t continue to buy supplies for students and the classroom that should be covered, parents should not have to hold bake sales, poinsettia sales, chocolate fundraisers etc., to cover what should be funded by our tax dollars. (Yes, teachers pay those taxes too). Children deserve classrooms that are not overcrowded, with enough support and textbooks- ones that you didn’t use yourself when you were in school.

At this point we need to ask ourselves what kind of society we want to live in. Are we so afraid of not being able to afford the latest gadgets and fancy cars/clothes/houses that we buy into the fear that the government is putting forth about affordability? I want to live in a society where children are well educated and taught to think critically, have empathy and learn to care about each other and our environment. I don’t want to see B.C. sold off to the highest bidder at the expense of our environment and our children. School is not a business to produce mindless masses ready for the workforce. Everyone should be standing up together and saying that this is not right. This is not just the teachers’ fight, this is a fight for everyone who values an educated society.

Inaction is no longer an option. If you aren’t standing up for what is right in this world you are just as guilty as those in power who are making the wrong decisions. Instead of clucking your tongue at the madness or burying your head in the sand hoping it will all sort itself out (or worse blaming the teachers) I challenge you to look at what is really going on and take a stand. I am fighting for your children and mine. If you aren’t standing up and doing the same, why aren’t you?

STEVES. The Dean of the ALR

harold steves

Harold Steves’ unwavering passion for the land

Rod Mickleburgh

VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail

Forty-five years after Harold Steves’s first election to Richmond council, the legendary, perennial politician still relishes the whiff of the barn, the lure of the land.

Along with his wife, Kathy, he continues to farm what’s left of his family’s historic Steveston property, growing heirloom vegetables for the seeds and raising a dozen purebred Belted Galloway beef cattle.

Mr. Steves cleans out the barn every morning, and lately, for the first time in half a century or so, he’s been milking, too, forced to “empty” one of the cows that suddenly began producing too much milk.

“It’s fine,” he says, of his new daily chore, “as long as you’re agile enough to avoid the kicks, and you don’t get stuff on your shoes. We’ve come to enjoy having raw milk again for breakfast. I grew up on it.”

It’s all in a day’s work for the remarkable Mr. Steves. A fixture on council since 1968, broken only by a brief win-loss foray into provincial politics, he says he’s as busy now, at the age of 76, as he was back in his heady, activist days of the 1960s.

That’s when his greatest legacy took root. Without Harold Steves and a surreptitious municipal decision to zone his father’s dairy farm for housing, British Columbia might not have its cherished Agricultural Land Reserve, which has protected provincial farmland from development for the past 40 years.

It’s a story Mr. Steves never tires of telling. The residential rezoning meant his father could not get a permit to build the modernized barn he needed, and that was the end of the dairy farm. “It seems like yesterday. I’d just milked the cows and come in for breakfast. That’s when dad gave us the news.”

The calamity galvanized the young Steves. With houses already rising on rich farmland throughout the region, he began pressing his party, the NDP, to endorse the then radical idea of an agricultural land bank. It took three conventions. When the NDP took office in 1972, the basic thrust of Mr. Steves’s farmland preservation policy was implemented.

“I don’t think it would have happened without me getting angry when my dad was turned down for his barn,” he says.

All these years later, Mr. Steves’s passion for the land, for farming, and the environment is undiminished.

“I’m like Rip Van Winkle. I was an activist in the early days. Then, I had a very nice long nap. Now, I’ve woken up. I’ve become a re-activist.”

Mr. Steves keeps on chugging.

Besides his regular council duties, he is organizing an anti-Monsanto protest in October, he is in the forefront of the drive to restrict coal shipments along the Fraser River, he remains involved with the first university-based urban farm school in North America, centred in Richmond, and, for the past six years, he has spearheaded a regional food security strategy as chair of Metro Vancouver’s agricultural committee. “There’s still so much to do,” Mr. Steves says.

He is also forging new paths on the home front.

The Steves’s seed business began when they decided to recreate vegetables grown on their land 100 years earlier. Over time, however, many heritage seeds have disappeared. “Suddenly, what we’ve been doing for 30 years is in demand,” Mr. Steves says.

Their prize is a rare variety of tomato called Alpha. “We’ve got the only seed I know of on the entire planet.”

As for beef, the Steves have been raising grass-fed animals on their own patch of land and their son’s spread near Cache Creek for some time. They sell it directly from their home in Steveston. Orders are booked up until December, 2014. Their success is changing the marketing of produce in B.C., exults Mr. Steves.

His council tenure, meanwhile, is so lengthy, he’s one of the few municipal politicians to be bestowed not one, but two long service awards, as his career goes on and on. When Mr. Steves received his second notation, Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie marvelled that Mr. Steves’s electoral victories have now touched six separate decades.

Will he run for another three-year term? “Oh yeah,” Mr. Steves replies, in a flash. “If I just sat at home on the couch, I’d probably start to deteriorate.”

What makes jobs in BC?


From a great group: CRED:

Fuelling BC’s economy: where does our wealth come from?

Why does this conversation matter?

In order to decide whether energy development projects should go forward, it’s essential to have a good understanding of where the sector fits into the bigger economic picture. Of course we know that energy is important to Canada, but how important? In what ways? And is it more or less important than other sectors?

Where does our wealth come from?

It’s often said that British Columbia is a resource-based province. In actual fact, the reality is a lot more complex. While it’s true that much of BC was built on natural resources, and that even today sectors like technology and construction have a certain amount of inter-relationships with the resource sector, the basis of our economy has overwhelmingly shifted to service-based industries. More than 4/5 of us work in services and over 76% of our GDP comes from those sectors.

It’s also important to note that a significant part of our economy is based on small businesses. Small businesses make up 98% of all businesses here in BC, more than any other province.

Although economics can be complex and numbers can tell different stories depending on how they’re interpreted, some data speaks for itself. Here’s a chart breaking down the main sources of GDP in British Columbia:

BC GDP by industrySource: The 2012 British Columbia Economic Accounts, BC Stats

Oil, gas and support services make up just 3% of our GDP, compared to 15% for manufacturing and construction and over 23% for financial and real estate services. When secondary energy services are added into the equation, the total contribution to GDP is still only 11%. While this number is significant, it’s certainly not where most provincial economic activity is coming from.

Federally, the numbers are similar. The oil sands make up just 2% of Canada’s GDP. When you add in conventional oil & gas extraction, the total is still only 6% of our wealth.

Oil contribution to Canadian GDP
Source: Statistics Canada (CANSIM table 379-0031)  

Where’s the economic growth?

This graph from KMPG’s recent tech sector report card gives an overview of which industries are growing and which are shrinking in BC. The sectors to the right of the middle line are contributing more each year to provincial GDP, and those to the left are contributing less each year – in other words, they’re shrinking.

The sectors showing the most growth are construction, high tech, finance and real estate, retail trade, and professional, scientific and technical services. A recent survey of small businesses had similar findings.

Tech sector report card

Where are the jobs? 

In BC, the mining, oil and gas sector combined employs just 1% of the workforce.

BC energy jobs
Source: 2012 British Columbia Financial and Economic Review

Instead, the biggest employers in the province are:

  • Construction – 205,000 jobs
  • Manufacturing – 164,000 jobs
  • Tourism – 127,000 jobs
  • Real estate and property development – 121,000 jobs

The film sector adds an additional 36,000 jobs and the technology sector employs 84,000 people – more than oil, mining, gas and forestry combined.

Across Canada, the numbers are similar. In fact, more people in work in the beer economy than in the oil sands:Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 2.00.58 PM

Who funds social programs?

Although BC Stats doesn’t gather data on the tax contributions of different sectors, StatsCan makes this information available on a national level. In total, the oil and gas sector (oil sands plus conventional oil and gas) contributes 4.2% of corporate GDP. Compared to financial services (25%) and manufacturing (13%) this number is unimpressive. Particularly considering that the manufacturing sector is widely reported to be struggling and has decreased in size significantly over the past decade, manufacturing businesses contribute much more towards social spending for big ticket items like schools and hospitals.

Tax revenues by sectorSource: Statistics Canada (CANSIM table 180-0003)  

On the whole, the sectors most responsible for creating jobs, funding social programs and contributing to the wealth of British Columbians are finance, real estate, manufacturing, construction, retail trade and tourism. Any big development project should take into consideration its impact on these sectors – positive or negative – before it gets approved.

Thank you, Prime Minister.

And what have you done for authoritarian regimes today??

Election bill sends ‘very poor message’ to budding democracies

Proposed election changes set bad example for authoritarian countries trying to go democratic, expert says

By Laura Payton, CBC News Posted: Mar 21, 2014 7:45 PM ET Last Updated: Mar 21, 2014 7:54 PM ET

Proposed Fair Elections Act rebuked globally

Proposed Fair Elections Act rebuked globally 7:50

The Conservative government is trying to change Canadian election law in a way that is “deeply disturbing” and “sends a very poor message” to countries trying to become democracies, an international democracy expert says.

The proposed changes, contained in Bill C-23, include limiting the topics on which Canada’s chief electoral officer could speak, and eliminating vouching, a process that lets a voter vouch for another person in his or her riding to prove that person’s identity.

Question Period 20140207Pierre Poilievre, minister of state for democratic reform, is trying to change Canadian election law in a way that is ‘deeply disturbing’ and ‘sends a very poor message’ to countries trying to become democracies, an international democracy expert says. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)


Andrew Reynolds, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was one of 18 professors from around the world who earlier this week signed an open letter about their concerns. Their letter came the week after an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper by 159 Canadian political science and law professors.


Reynolds calls Elections Canada “the pre-eminent example of an elections administration body.”

“Its autonomy, its independence, its capacity to enforce free and fair elections is something that is transported around the world,” he told Rosemary Barton in an interview on CBC News Network’s Power & Politics.

“Now, this legislation would severely do damage to the autonomy, to the independence, to the capacity of Elections Canada to manage good elections.”

‘Partisan mechanism?’

Reynolds said democracy advisers face a challenge in trying to persuade new governments to set up independent, autonomous election authorities.

“When a democratic, established democracy in the west like Canada seems to be curtailing its own ability to do that, it sends a very poor message to new countries in the Arab world, in Africa, in Asia, who are attempting to move from authoritarianism to democracy,” he said.

Reynolds said many of the bill’s measures would weaken Elections Canada in its ability to “enforce legitimate elections.”

Pierre Poilievre, the minister of state for democratic reform and the MP who tabled the bill, says Elections Canada’s numbers show “irregularities” in 25 per cent of vouching cases from the 2011 election. But Harry Neufeld, the election expert on whose report Poilievre bases his claims, says Poilievre is “selectively” reading the report.

Reynolds says there’s almost no evidence that vouching “is a window to voter fraud.”

“There’s huge evidence to show that vouching would, if it was taken away, curtail the rights and accessibility of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Canadians to vote,” Reynolds said, adding that the question is what is driving the proposal.

“Is it really fear of fraud and malfeasance? Or is it in fact a partisan mechanism to try and preclude some people from voting who should be legitimately voting?”

“In every case that we’ve seen a similar type of proposal, it has been about tilting the balance in favour of a given party,” he added.

Fascism Today: Britt

Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each:. This should be compared to Umberto Ecco’ s earlier piece on Ur-Fascism.  ECCO: 

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights – Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military – Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism – The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

6. Controlled Mass Media – Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security – Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined – Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.  

9. Corporate Power is Protected – The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

  10. Labor Power is Suppressed – Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts – Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment – Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption – Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections – Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

Fascism and Ur-Fascism

Dr.  Lawrence Britt has described Fascism in 14 points. And this has been a useful summary. It was recently applied to Canada’s own Steven Harper and that process does turn on some warning lights. Britt:

Earlier, Umberto Ecco used the same number to talk about Fascism in Italy and Europe and this is something all intellectuals should read at least once a year. His original was addressed to an American audience and was written in 1995, but it still has validity.

In spite of some fuzziness regarding the difference between various historical forms of fascism, I think it is possible to outline a list of features that are typical of what I would like to call Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism. These features cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it.

1. The first feature of Ur-Fascism is the cult of tradition.

Traditionalism is of course much older than fascism. Not only was it typical of counterrevolutionary Catholic thought after the French revolution, but is was born in the late Hellenistic era, as a reaction to classical Greek rationalism. In the Mediterranean basin, people of different religions (most of the faiths indulgently accepted by the Roman pantheon) started dreaming of a revelation received at the dawn of human history. This revelation, according to the traditionalist mystique, had remained for a long time concealed under the veil of forgotten languages — in Egyptian hieroglyphs, in the Celtic runes, in the scrolls of the little-known religions of Asia.

This new culture had to be syncretistic. Syncretism is not only, as the dictionary says, “the combination of different forms of belief or practice;” such a combination must tolerate contradictions. Each of the original messages contains a sliver of wisdom, and although they seem to say different or incompatible things, they all are nevertheless alluding, allegorically, to the same primeval truth.

As a consequence, there can be no advancement of learning. Truth already has been spelled out once and for all, and we can only keep interpreting its obscure message.

If you browse in the shelves that, in American bookstores, are labeled New Age, you can find there even Saint Augustine, who, as far as I know, was not a fascist. But combining Saint Augustine and Stonehenge — that is a symptom of Ur-Fascism.

2. Traditionalism implies the rejection of modernism.

Both Fascists and Nazis worshipped technology, while traditionalist thinkers usually reject it as a negation of traditional spiritual values. However, even though Nazism was proud of its industrial achievements, its praise of modernism was only the surface of an ideology based upon blood and earth (Blut und Boden). The rejection of the modern world was disguised as a rebuttal of the capitalistic way of life. The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity. In this sense Ur-Fascism can be defined as irrationalism.

3. Irrationalism also depends on the cult of action for action’s sake.

Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation. Therefore culture is suspect insofar as it is identified with critical attitudes. Distrust of the intellectual world has always been a symptom of Ur-Fascism, from Hermann Goering’s fondness for a phrase from a Hanns Johst play (“When I hear the word ‘culture’ I reach for my gun”) to the frequent use of such expressions as “degenerate intellectuals,” “eggheads,” “effete snobs,” and “universities are nests of reds.” The official Fascist intellectuals were mainly engaged in attacking modern culture and the liberal intelligentsia for having betrayed traditional values.

4. The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism.

In modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge. For Ur-Fascism, disagreement is treason.

5. Besides, disagreement is a sign of diversity.

Ur-Fascism grows up and seeks consensus by exploiting and exacerbating the natural fear of difference. The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders. Thus Ur-Fascism is racist by definition.

6. Ur-Fascism derives from individual or social frustration.

That is why one of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups. In our time, when the old “proletarians” are becoming petty bourgeois (and the lumpen are largely excluded from the political scene), the fascism of tomorrow will find its audience in this new majority.

7. To people who feel deprived of a clear social identity, Ur-Fascism says that their only privilege is the most common one, to be born in the same country.

This is the origin of nationalism. Besides, the only ones who can provide an identity to the nation are its enemies. Thus at the root of the Ur-Fascist psychology there is the obsession with a plot, possibly an international one. The followers must feel besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia. But the plot must also come from the inside: Jews are usually the best target because they have the advantage of being at the same time inside and outside. In the United States, a prominent instance of the plot obsession is to be found in Pat Robertson’s The New World Order, but, as we have recently seen, there are many others.

8. The followers must feel humiliated by the ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies.

When I was a boy I was taught to think of Englishmen as the five-meal people. They ate more frequently than the poor but sober Italians. Jews are rich and help each other through a secret web of mutual assistance. However, the followers of Ur-Fascism must also be convinced that they can overwhelm the enemies. Thus, by a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak. Fascist governments are condemned to lose wars because they are constitutionally incapable of objectively evaluating the force of the enemy.

9. For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle.

Thus pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. It is bad because life is permanent warfare. This, however, brings about an Armageddon complex. Since enemies have to be defeated, there must be a final battle, after which the movement will have control of the world. But such “final solutions” implies a further era of peace, a Golden Age, which contradicts the principle of permanent war. No fascist leader has ever succeeded in solving this predicament.

10. Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology, insofar as it is fundamentally aristocratic, and aristocratic and militaristic elitism cruelly implies contempt for the weak.

Ur-Fascism can only advocate a popular elitism. Every citizen belongs to the best people in the world, the members or the party are the best among the citizens, every citizen can (or ought to) become a member of the party. But there cannot be patricians without plebeians. In fact, the Leader, knowing that his power was not delegated to him democratically but was conquered by force, also knows that his force is based upon the weakness of the masses; they are so weak as to need and deserve a ruler.

11. In such a perspective everybody is educated to become a hero.

In every mythology the hero is an exceptional being, but in Ur-Fascist ideology heroism is the norm. This cult of heroism is strictly linked with the cult of death. It is not by chance that a motto of the Spanish Falangists was Viva la Muerte (“Long Live Death!”). In nonfascist societies, the lay public is told that death is unpleasant but must be faced with dignity; believers are told that it is the painful way to reach a supernatural happiness. By contrast, the Ur-Fascist hero craves heroic death, advertised as the best reward for a heroic life. The Ur-Fascist hero is impatient to die. In his impatience, he more frequently sends other people to death.

12. Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters.

This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality). Since even sex is a difficult game to play, the Ur-Fascist hero tends to play with weapons — doing so becomes an ersatz phallic exercise.

13. Ur-Fascism is based upon a selective populism, a qualitative populism, one might say.

In a democracy, the citizens have individual rights, but the citizens in their entirety have a political impact only from a quantitative point of view — one follows the decisions of the majority. For Ur-Fascism, however, individuals as individuals have no rights, and the People is conceived as a quality, a monolithic entity expressing the Common Will. Since no large quantity of human beings can have a common will, the Leader pretends to be their interpreter. Having lost their power of delegation, citizens do not act; they are only called on to play the role of the People. Thus the People is only a theatrical fiction. There is in our future a TV or Internet populism, in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People.

Because of its qualitative populism, Ur-Fascism must be against “rotten” parliamentary governments. Wherever a politician casts doubt on the legitimacy of a parliament because it no longer represents the Voice of the People, we can smell Ur-Fascism.

14. Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak.

Newspeak was invented by Orwell, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, as the official language of what he called Ingsoc, English Socialism. But elements of Ur-Fascism are common to different forms of dictatorship. All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning. But we must be ready to identify other kinds of Newspeak, even if they take the apparently innocent form of a popular talk show.

* * *

Ur-Fascism is still around us, sometimes in plainclothes. It would be so much easier for us if there appeared on the world scene somebody saying, “I want to reopen Auschwitz, I want the Blackshirts to parade again in the Italian squares.” Life is not that simple. Ur-Fascism can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances — every day, in every part of the world. Franklin Roosevelt’s words of November 4, 1938, are worth recalling: “If American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking day and night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, fascism will grow in strength in our land.” Freedom and liberation are an unending task.

Feschuk’s Harpoon

You think Stephen Harper likes this whole power thing?

Everything the Prime Minister does, he does for you. Especially winning elections.


Photo Illustration by Sarah MacKinnon

Photo Illustration by Sarah MacKinnon

The Conservative party has launched a new fundraising campaign as part of a strategy to win next year’s federal election. Let’s read between the lines of the online appeal from its executive director, Dimitri Soudas. His words are in bold.

We need to win another majority government.

Whoa! Easy, tiger. Where’s the romance, the sweet talk? As strategies go, this is a bit like getting all dressed up, going out to a nightclub and loudly announcing to the first girl you see at the bar: “I NEED A WIFE!”

It won’t be easy; the road to 2015 will be difficult. But this isn’t about Stephen Harper or the Conservative party—it’s about our future.

You heard him right, people: This fundraising campaign—explicitly devised and executed to directly benefit Stephen Harper and the Conservative party—is NOT about Stephen Harper or the Conservative party. Not at all.

It’s not like Stephen Harper is doing this “PM thing” for himself. It’s not as though heenjoys it. Why, if he had his way, he’d be livin’ a simpler life down Pincher Creek way, sittin’ on a porch and a-whittlin’ away alongside his old dog Zeke. He wouldn’t have much use for politickin’, nor, evidently, for the letter g.

But for you—for you, Canada, and for your future—Stephen Harper is willing to selflessly take on the burden of absolute power. Furthermore, he is willing to selflessly exercise that power, to the point of selflessly kind of being a jerk about it at times. For you.

For you, he is willing to abandon his fundamental principles and stack institutions, agencies and court benches with his loyal supporters and flunkies.

For you, he is willing to change the Elections Act to make it harder for you to vote and easier for you to give him money.

For you, he is willing to spend tens of millions of your dollars on ads to tell you what a good job he’s doing managing your money.

It’s about you. Your family. Your kids. Your grandkids.

It’s about your nephew. Your nephew’s cat. That cat’s grandkittens. It’s about ensuring that your own futuristic clone does not emerge from its slime pod into a dystopian hellscape wrought by an epidemic of post-Trudeau shirtlessness and doobie-smoking.

The choices we make today will impact Canada’s future. The global economy remains fragile.

If you think about it, no one has gotten more domestic political mileage out of the stagnant global economy than Stephen Harper. He should send Europe a fruit basket.

Canada needs strong, stable leadership—or we risk losing everything we’ve accomplished together.

Think about that. Think about how traumatic it would be to lose everything we’ve accomplished together over the past eight years. Stephen Harper appointed to the Senate a man who is now the daytime manager of an Ottawa strip club. And you want to just turn your back on that kind of progress?

Not convinced? Think of everything else we’ve accomplished together: The public servants we’ve muzzled together. The forced smiles we’ve tolerated together. The unconvincing rhetorical use of “together” we’ve endured together.

Voters are faced with a choice between Stephen Harper’s strong stable leadership and Justin Trudeau’s lack of judgment and experience.

Way to go, Dimitri. You just made Thomas Mulcair sad.

The stakes have never been higher. That’s why I’m asking you to take part in our “Road to 2015” campaign.

That’s correct—the stakes have never been higher. Never. Not during the Great Depression. Not during either world war. Not during the free trade debate or either Quebec referendum. Stephen Harper’s electoral success in 2015 is literally the highest the stakes have ever been. The stakes are so high that we’ve lost sight of them. Please donate now so we can buy new stakes!

Will you add your name to our list of supporters and join the fight in 2015?

Andrew Coyne recently described our approach to government as being grounded in “secrecy, deception and brute force.” He left out pettiness, vengeance, patronage, yelling and gazebos, but the point is nevertheless clear: When you donate to the Conservative party, you get what you pay for.

POSTED ON:  March 15th, 2014. Maclean’s.

Unfair Elections Act

Is this this tipping point for Harper’s Regime? Andrew Coyne on Marc Mayrand’s testimony and recommended modifications to the Act.

Andrew Coyne: The Tories were right to be nervous.

Marc Mayrand shredded their ‘Fair Elections Act’ almost line by line

Andrew Coyne | March 7, 2014 9:29 PM ET More from Andrew Coyne | @acoyne

Chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand almost wasn't allowed to speak.

Adrian WyldChief electoral officer Marc Mayrand almost wasn’t allowed to speak in Committee. No wonder the Tories were so nervous. The government had been noticeably skittish about what Marc Mayrand would say before the Commons Procedure and House Affairs committee Thursday: not only had it kept the chief electoral officer largely out of the loop in the months before it introduced its landmark Fair Elections Act, but there was doubt whether he would even be allowed to testify about it afterwards. A promise to that effect had been made to the NDP’s David Christopherson the night before to persuade him to end his filibuster of the Act in committee. Yet on the day Mr. Mayrand’s testimony was interrupted by the calling of not one but two votes in the Commons just as he was scheduled to speak.

At any rate, at length he was allowed to give his testimony, at the end of which very little of the Act was left standing. The chief electoral officer, in his quiet, workmanlike way, simply shredded it, almost line for line, proposing more than two dozen amendments that would effectively rewrite the bill.

The provision banning “vouching” came in for particularly heavy fire: while the government insists the practice, by which voters who lack proper identification can have another voter vouch for them, has given rise to widespread voter fraud, Mr. Mayrand observed there was no evidence for this. It did not help the government’s position that the authority it cited in response, Harry Neufeld, author of a report on electoral irregularities in the 2011 election, later backed up Mr. Mayrand’s stance. (“I never said there was voter fraud,” he told Canadian Press.)

The treatment of Mr. Mayrand, like the misrepresentation of Mr. Neufeld’s report, is unfortunately of a piece with this government’s approach generally, in which secrecy, deception, and brute force are very much the watch words. But what is objectionable in ordinary legislation is intolerable in a bill such as this, one that touches upon the very heart of the democratic process. Of all bills, you would think, this is the one that should invite the most transparency, the most public input, the most reaching out to opposition parties, so as to leave no room for doubt that the fairness of elections had been preserved. Yet from the start, the very opposite course has been pursued.

Entrusting the matter to Pierre Poilievre, among the most ruthlessly partisan ministers in a government filled with ruthless partisans, was an early warning sign. Sure enough, not content with blindsiding the chief electoral officer, the minister — for Democratic Reform! — gave media and opposition members the merest sniff of the mammoth bill before thrusting it upon Parliament, where, after the usual curtailing of debate, it was packed off to committee, whose hearings will be likewise restricted (hence Mr. Christopherson’s filibuster). This is not how a government interested in fairness conducts itself.

But then, the speed and secrecy are understandable, in a way, since the closer one reads the bill, the worse it looks. It is not that the bill is all bad: some provisions, such as the limits on bequests to political parties or the stiffer penalties for election fraud, are quite welcome. But good or bad, what is true of every part of the bill is that it furthers the interests of the parties in general, and of the Conservative party in particular.

The bill would raise the limits on both contributions and spending. All parties would benefit from this — needlessly: there’s never been so much money in our politics — but the Conservatives, as the most successful fundraisers, would plainly benefit most. It would exempt from those limits expenses incurred to raise funds from previous donors: again, without justification, but again to the benefit of the party with the longest donor list — or the greatest willingness to abuse it, the distinction between a fundraising call and an advertisement being self-evidently hard to enforce.

It would allow incumbent parties, rather than Elections Canada, to choose important officers at polling stations: yet again, without offering any justification, and with the same potential for abuse. It would allow the parties to collect and assemble the so-called “bingo cards,” lists of who voted and who did not in each riding — information currently given out only to individual candidates — without any of the usual privacy safeguards, the parties not being subject to federal privacy legislation.

Elections Canada would be hamstrung in all sorts of ways. It would be forbidden from communicating with the public in anything but the most rudimentary terms — not even to encourage people to vote. It cannot be entirely coincidental that, as with the ban on vouching, the people most likely to be affected — the young, the poor, the marginalized — are the ones least likely to vote Conservative.

Likewise, the office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections, charged with enforcing the elections laws, has not only been denied the power to compel evidence, as it had requested — federal parties do not even have to provide receipts for expenses — but has been hived off to a different section of the bureaucracy altogether, though it will be under much the same gag order: it is not even clear whether it will be allowed to communicate with Elections Canada. I leave it to the reader to judge who benefits from that.

The thing is just riddled with this sort of stuff. Perhaps each measure would not seem so troubling on its own; nor even would the whole if the government did not seem so intent on smuggling it into law. But as it is I think some alarm bells should really be going off.


Is the tipping point for Harper’s regime? Or was that the Senate Scandals?  Or will it be the combination?


Krugman on Mobility and Inequality.


The chart is bigger here, (still hard to read), but it shows that the greater the degree of inequality the lower the potential of class mobility for an individual.

BY Paul Krugman, March 4th, 2014. Category: WORTHY,

The Real Poverty Trap

Earlier I noted that the new Ryan poverty report makes some big claims about the poverty trap, and cites a lot of research — but the research doesn’t actually support the claims. It occurs to me, however, that the whole Ryan approach is false in a deeper sense as well.

How so? Well, Ryan et al — conservatives in general — claim to care deeply about opportunity, about giving those not born into affluence the ability to rise. And they claim that their hostility to welfare-state programs reflects their assessment that these programs actually reduce opportunity, creating a poverty trap. As Ryan once put it,

we don’t want to turn the safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency, that drains them of their will and their incentive to make the most of their lives.

OK, do you notice the assumption here? It is that reduced incentives to work mean reduced social mobility. Is there any reason to believe this as a general proposition?

Now, as it happens the best available research suggests that the programs Ryan most wants to slash — Medicaid and food stamps — don’t even have large negative effects on work effort. There is, however, some international evidence that generous welfare states have an incentive effect: America has by far the weakest safety net in the advanced world, and sure enough, the American poor work much more than their counterparts abroad:

Great! So poor Americans aren’t condemned to lives of complacency that drain their wills — or at least not nearly as much as the poor in other countries. So we must have much more upward social mobility than they do, as our poor make the most of their lives, right?

Um, no.:

In fact, the evidence suggests that welfare-state programs enhance social mobility, thanks to little things like children of the poor having adequate nutrition and medical care. And conversely,of course, when such programs are absent or inadequate, the poor find themselves in a trap they often can’t escape, not because they lack the incentive, but because they lack the resources.

I mean, think about it: Do you really believe that making conditions harsh enough that poor women must work while pregnant or while they still have young children actually makes it more likely that those children will succeed in life?

So the whole poverty trap line is a falsehood wrapped in a fallacy; the alleged facts about incentive effects are mostly wrong, and in any case the entire premise that work effort = social mobility is wrong.