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The Editor of this blog invites other contributors of lead articles, art and poetry etc. Photos welcome. Subject to approval of content etc. While editorially this is a left wing blog with a radical perspective, other opinion is of course welcome to the comments section. Everything being subject to moderator approval of approptiateness to this site.
Friday, November 24, 2006
THESE ARE THE TIMES AND
WE ARE THE PEOPLE!
Peter Dimitrov, email@example.com
Great news --I applaud this action by the Chiefs and the non-indigenous community to travel to Calgary and directly confront the corporate powers that are planning coalbed methane exploration and production in the Bulkley Valley areas. But we (in the rural and urban parts of this province) must, ally together, and go beyond these actions. These are the times, and we are the people.
It is plain to see that democracy is faltering badly in this province, power to make decisions affecting the economy and ecolology of this province, on a region by region basis, are made primarily out of the Premier's office or by a small group of powerful Ministers. Much of our 'common property' has been privatized by the pirates in Victoria..who act on the behest of the large corporate community.
There are struggles going on over future resource use in the energy & mining sectors all over the province, and at this point, the activist communities have not yet come together in unity. Is it not time for a "meeting" between the folks up in the Squamish area struggling against the IPP project on the Ashlu; between the folks in the Princeton area facing the prospects of coal-fired electrical generation, between the folks in the Smithers and other areas facing the prospects of coal-bed methane production, the folks in Kitimat staring down the Alcan debacle, and last the folks (indigenous and otherwise), facing the prospects of large pipeline project transiting to their territories, and eventually, to those folks on the coast, who may see oil tankers connecting with those pipelines - and hence more oil tanker traffic down the coast?
In the past the people of BC have put together the Tin-Wis Coalition, the Coalition to Stop Uranium Mining & Exploration in this Province, we have had at the Village of Hazelton, the agreement known as the "Framework for Watershed STewardship" --all of which have been community movements to confront the centralization of decision making power by Victoria and its alliance with corporate power. Now, more then ever, under the regieme of the Fiberals, we need a coming together, of urban and rural peoples, to non-violently OPPOSE the centralized decision making over our lives and lands, and to PROPOSE, a province-wide alliance (of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples, dedicated to decentralizing political and fiscal power to localities where people live, in their villages, regions, city-neighbourhoods, We need to reclaim the power of community, we need a draft constitution of localized power and soverignty. Global warming is facing us all...it will not be remedied by the same colluding forces that created it, namely, big centralized governments and big, centralized corporations, and centralized urban political parties. Region by region, territory by territory, from the ground-up, grass-roots, then a confederacy, similar to the Iroquois Confederacy. That is my take on it anyway.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
The British and Canadians Burn Washington, DC, 1814
August of 1814 was one of the hottest in the memory of the approximately 8,000 residents of America's new capital. The sweltering, humid heat turned the stagnate marshes surrounding the city into thriving hatcheries for disease-carrying mosquitoes. To make matters worse, the city found itself the target of an invading British army slowly making its way from the Chesapeake Bay.
America had been at war with the British Empire since 1812, but the action so far had consisted of a series of indeterminate skirmishes along the Great Lakes region. With the defeat of Napoleon, the Empire turned its full attention to its former colony sending its battle-hardened troops to squash the up-start Americans. Washington had little strategic value - the thriving port of Baltimore was much more important. However, as capital of the nation, the British hoped that its burning would have a psychological impact on the will of the Americans to continue the conflict.
As the British army of approximately 4,000 approached, the majority of Washington residents fled the city. On August 24th American defenders, with President James Madison in attendance, were quickly routed by the invaders in a battle at Blandesburg a few miles from the city. A messenger was dispatched to the White House to warn First Lady Dolly Madison of the impeding arrival of the British. She and her staff fled by carriage across the Potomac - taking with her the full-length portrait of George Washington that had been torn from a White House wall.
That evening, the vanguard of the British army reached Capitol Hill and began its systematic destruction of all public buildings in the city. (reprinted from Eyewitness to History.com)
And though this Manifest Destiny concept of the US Empire that has since grown up to replace the old British Empire is still very much with us, and now extended itself to the entire world, and grown even much more dangerous, and poses its danger still to this country along many fronts. economic and political as well as military, it is important that we remember that it is far from infallible and unbeatable. The Veterans of this war of 1812 to 1814 defeated them once, and now come down to us as a legacy worth remembering and taking pride in. It is part of the history of this country, and the continent.
It is important that we honour the memory of the veterans of this war. For it is a primary historical event, probably most important in the history of this country, which still speaks to us today-, if we are paying attention.
The War in Outline (From Wikipedia)
At the time, Washington was a minor port with only about 8,000 inhabitants — about 1,300 of whom were slaves. What it lacked in strategic value, however, it made up in symbolic value. The British and Canadians sought revenge on the United States for the destruction they had caused on the capital of Upper Canada (now Ontario) at York (now Toronto) after the Battle of York in 1813. Naval commander George Cockburn wrote that he hoped the destruction of the new republic's capital might demoralize the enemy as well.
On Wednesday, August 24, 1814, British General Robert Ross defeated the American forces at the Battle of Bladensburg, laying open the path to the capital. Ross had landed in Maryland after the Peninsular War had ended, as part of a three-way invasion scheme by the British aimed at Baltimore, New Orleans, and New York.
During the American retreat, President James Madison sought out Secretary of War John Armstrong to see what the plan was for the defense of the capital. Armstrong reported that there was none; he had expected the British to turn next to Baltimore. The President, his cabinet and many other government officials fled to the mountains of Virginia. Most residents of Washington had already abandoned the city; preservation of the government's documents and records had been largely left to clerks and slaves.
Occupation and burning
On August 25, the advance guard of British troops marched to Capitol Hill; they were too few in number to occupy the city, so Ross intended to destroy as much of it as possible. He sent a party under a flag of truce to agree to terms, but they were attacked by partisans from a house at the corner of Maryland Avenue, Constitution Avenue, and Second Street NE. This was to be the only resistance the soldiers met. The house was burned, but the soldiers were infuriated, and the Union Flag was raised above Washington.
The buildings housing the Senate and House of Representatives — construction on the trademark central rotunda of the Capitol had not yet begun — were set ablaze not long after. The interiors of both buildings, including the Library of Congress, were destroyed, although the thick walls and a torrential rainfall preserved their exteriors. (Thomas Jefferson later sold his library to the government to restock the Library of Congress, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair apologized for the burning of the Library of Congress 189 years later on July 17, 2003). The next day Admiral Cockburn entered the building of the D.C newpaper, National Intelligencer, intending to burn it down; however, a group of neighborhood women persuaded him not to because they were afraid the fire would spread to their neighboring houses. Cockburn wanted to destroy the newspaper because they had written so many negative items about him, branding him as "The Ruffian." Instead he ordered his troops to tear the building down brick by brick making sure that they destroyed all the "C" type so that no more pieces mentioning his name could be printed.
The troops then turned north down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the President's House. First Lady Dolley Madison remained there after many of the government officials — and her own bodyguard — had already left, gathering valuables, documents and other items of importance, notably the Lansdowne Portrait, a full-length painting of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart. She was finally persuaded to leave moments before British soldiers entered the building. Once inside, the soldiers found the dining hall set for a dinner for 40 people. After eating all the food they took souvenirs then set the building on fire.
Fuel was added to the fires that night to ensure they would continue burning into the next day; the flames were reportedly visible as far away as Baltimore and the Patuxent River.
The British also burned the United States Treasury building and other public buildings. The historic Washington Navy Yard, founded by Thomas Jefferson and the first federal installation in the United States, was burned by the Americans to prevent capture of stores and ammunition, as well as the 44-gun frigate Columbia which was then being built. The United States Patent Office building was saved by the efforts of William Thornton—architect of the Capitol and then superintendent of patents—who convinced the British of the importance of its preservation.
During the occupation, a hurricane which included a tornado passed through, damaging both the invaders and the city, but it quickly dissipated and helped put out the fires. The occupation of Washington lasted about 26 hours, and within a week the British troops were dispatched to their next target, Baltimore. President Madison and the rest of the government returned to the city but were in such disarray that they were unable to prosecute the war effectively.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Anyway, I 'm following things as much as possible , and keeping up with the chatter.
I've been around "The Cause" too long now to abandon it for long.
"I shall return". , as that old reactionary "imperialist" US General MacArthur said upon his retreat from the Phillipines. Back when the US Empire was still in its ascendancy, rather than already upon its downhill skids.
Peace 'n flowers. :-)
Thursday, November 09, 2006
By Robin Mathews
Nothing can excuse B.C. Attorney General Wally Oppal. His comments about evidence in the Legislature Raids process (presently before the courts) are, quite simply, outrageous. Chatting "casually" (?) to reporters at the beginning of November, Oppal called into question wire-tapping procedures used before the raids. They were, as he spoke, being argued before a judge in Chambers.
The tide of corruption upon which the David Basi, Bob Virk, and Aneal Basi legal procedure floats is highlighted by Oppal's unacceptable intervention. In a legal hotchpotch such as this one, in which cabinet employees are under charge - one from the office of a former Attorney General - prudence should dictate silence on the part of Wally Oppal. The position he holds is always a highly sensitive one whatever the situation, for "the highest law officer of the Crown" is also an elected politician sitting in cabinet meetings in which many participants - in this government especially - may be working to defeat the ideals of justice.
We mustn't forget that the Attorney General of the day, in 2003, Gary Collins, employed one of the men charged following the legislature raids. Nor should we forget that Collins - apparently approaching the height of his political career - chose to drop out of politics shortly afterwards. We do not seem to be fortunate in the Attorneys General we get with Gordon Campbell as premier.
It may be fair to say that no one in the present government is happy to see the trial going ahead. For even if elected officials escape untouched, public opinion will wonder at the miracle. It may be fair to say, too, that the men charged are not likely to be happy to see the trial going ahead, for obvious reasons. In this trial, the government of the day and the members of cabinet connected to legal functions cannot be objective or eager to see justice done.
That makes Wally Oppal's comments doubly offensive. And they point toward the argument that may destroy the case. Is Oppal preparing the ground innocently?
Why, then, is the trial being conducted? Because the Crown and the people want the process of legal action to work for the sake of democracy, justice, and the rule of law in British Columbia. But who, we have to ask, is the Crown in British Columbia?
Oppal, himself, "chief law officer of the Crown", breached the demands of dignity and prudence when he stepped from the Supreme Court into a Liberal Party candidacy. By doing so, he made a mockery of the absolute need for a clear separation to exist - and be seen to exist - between the politicians and the courts. He is a politician who was very recently a colleague of present Supreme Court judges, allowing no time to lapse between his resignation from the court and his assumption of a political role as a Liberal candidate, and now as Attorney General. Does he telephone his recent Supreme Court colleague, Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett, who is conducting the court processes involving the men charged? Who knows?
Is there, moreover, a Gordon Campbell government agenda to undermine the courts and to cripple - for political reasons - the legal system in the Province? And, if so, is Wally Oppal assisting with that agenda?
Oppal recently attacked the Supreme Court judges about their working hours in words that Chief Justice Donald Brenner said "constitute a deliberate attempt to demean the judges of this court". (Ian Mulgrew, Vanc Sun Nov 1 06). The Campbell government, moreover, is accused - since May of 2002 - of closing courtrooms, consolidating or downgrading others, and laying off court workers and deputy sheriffs around the Province when municipalities are growing in size with the effect that larger and more reasonably accessible courts are, obviously, required. (BCGEU letter, Nanaimo Daily News Oct 13 06). Oppal has to be a supporting part of that agenda as a member of cabinet.
He is also named as one of the parties wanting the water power rights of British Columbians in the Nechako River stripped from them and granted to the foreign Private Corporation, Alcan. Clearly, against the interests of British Columbians, Oppal is working for the sleazy political ends of the government he serves (and of which he is a part).
British Columbians may well ask if they have a dangerous, partisan clown as their present Attorney General. As NDP MLA and lawyer Leonard Krog has said: "High profile prosecutions have failed in the past because politicians felt compelled to make comments in public that were later deemed prejudicial". (Media release, Nov 2)
The Crown in British Columbia does not have a distinguished presence, to say the least. Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett, sitting on the Legislature Raids trial and hearings, was the judge in the long, long Glen Clark case. I have called for a full Royal Commission-level investigation into what I call the fraudulent investigation and trial of Glen Clark.
During the trial his counsel asked that the trial be named, in effect, vexatious, without merit, and ended. Justice Bennett refused, permitted an endless trial, and then declared that, in effect, the 29 volumes of evidentiary material, gathered over months and months by a dubious RCMP investigation, did not contain reason to believe Glen Clark was guilty of anything.
But - to the glee of the Gordon Campbell forces (the complaint against Glen Clark began in Gordon Campbell's constituency office) - Glen Clark was ruined and the NDP was savaged.
Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett did not apologize to Glen Clark and to British Columbians for that. She said Glen Clark was innocent but was imprudent, and she slapped his wrist for his private associations when she should have apologized to him and suggested he seek remedy for the huge damage done to him and to the democratic life of British Columbia. It is almost as if she were working for the Gordon Campbell forces.
The judge who has kept much of the Legislature Raids material locked away from British Columbians is Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm. He issued search warrants in the Glen Clark case from a holiday spot somewhere in a foreign country. When a BCTV crew - in full readiness - arrived with the RCMP officers who had come to exercise a search warrant on Glen Clark's house, Mr. Dohm seemed unperturbed. He permitted the film of that event to be played over and over and over, depicting Glen Clark as if he were a fugitive from justice caught by the cameras.
Perhaps Patrick Dohm could not discipline BCTV for, somehow, finding out about and getting to that RCMP search. But he could have sealed the film footage. And he didn't. It is almost as if he were working for the Gordon Campbell forces.
Persistently, bullishly, and without any attempt to explain carefully and educationally to British Columbians his invasion of their right to know in the present case, Patrick Dohm locked up information "for the protection of the accused". I, for one, don't believe that explanation.
In the hearing, just over, the Application for Disclosure filed in Criminal Registry by the Defence counsel for Dave Basi, Bob Virk, and Aneal Basi, was denied to the public by Mr. Justice Patrick Dohm for, apparently, the protection of the accused. ALL such documents are denied to the public by Justice Dohm. In this case the Application for Disclosure records a fight among lawyers about evidence. That is all.
I went to Criminal Registry with a friend, early in the hearings, to obtain a copy of the Application. We were so rudely dismissed by a man who identified himself as Ian we asked to see the Directive refusing public access. It is, of course, a Directive from Mr. Justice Patrick Dohm and it directs blanket denial of public access to all such documents "to protect the accused" we were told.
I believe, rather, it is a gag order to protect the powerful against legitimate concerns of British Columbians. I say that because, otherwise, the Directive would be much more sensitive, providing a speedy screening mechanism to separate out only those rare and few instances in which information might be kept from the public (for the sake of persons' safety, etc.).
The next day my friend and I went back to Criminal Registry to inform the clerk, this time named Alpha, that Defence counsel had okayed release and was going to ask that I be shown the Application for Disclosure and some other documents. Alpha told us Criminal Registry does not answer to counsel but to Mr. Justice Patrick Dohm and would probably not do as counsel was going to request. Anyway, it would need clearance, she said. I gave my name, which she attached to her note on the matter.
To exaggerate the Patrick Dohm absurdity of Criminal Registry, a man materializes silently when people appear at Criminal registry who are as darkly suspicious and obviously lawless as my friend and me. The man sidles up to the counter, and he eavesdrops. For all I know he may then send a secret report - kept, of course, from the public - to Mr. Justice Patrick Dohm so the Associate Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of B.C. may use it. In the pursuit of justice, of course.
The next morning when I telephoned Criminal Registry, Ruth, who identified herself as in charge of the section, claimed to have seen no documents left for me (and they would have come to her, she said). She claimed to know nothing whatever. Alpha had told her nothing. Ruth had obviously not seen the note Alpha wrote. A total blank. So much for service to the people of British Columbia.
In my last column I called the event "Kafka'esque", "irrational". It is worse than that. For Mr. Justice Patrick Dohm scatters what I see as his capricious power without reason or logic. A member of the public or press may not get documents from the point of public access, the Criminal Registry of the Supreme Court. He or she is told that only active counsel may give documents. That means if counsel wishes to deny the public access to key information, it may. It means the public must leave the point of public access, search for counsel involved, and depend upon counsel's good will. It means counsel, which has definite interest in cases and their status, can provide documents - or deny them - to whomsoever it pleases. There is no objective agent which can provide, without bias or questions, materials that every Canadian has the right to receive.
It means, in short, that Mr. Justice Patrick Dohm presides over a system which is irrational, capricious, discriminatory, elitist, and unjust. It is almost as if he is working against the pursuit of justice in British Columbia and against the goals of a democratic society.
The "Crown" in the actions which have brought the Legislature Raids trial this far is a very weak reed. The question that must be before British Columbians is whether that weak reed is strong enough to stage the trial to completion and to see that justice is truly done.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
I'm going to be busy, "takin' care of business" for a couple days. I shall, however, as I always do, return. When I will work on a piece about this "guest worker"/global corp issue being discussed on Tyee, aound the tunnel project for the RAV line to Richmond from downtown Vancouver, criticism of which by folks on the left and in labour, is being touted as racism by the US Empire Loyalist extreme right there.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
This was taken 80 klicks or so north of Revelstoke, near the same place where I got that black bear photo.
Now, had it been a female with calf, I'd have been in a whole lot more dangerous predicament. She would have been a whole bunch more aggressive, which I've had happen to me. Out of my tractor while doing field work , squated with my drawers down, doing my business in a tree edge. Barely made it back to my tractor in time, which was fortunately only a few steps away, pulling up and holding up my trousers as I fled, with the sound of snapping twigs, and the swishing of leaves and branches behind me. Even swallowed my chew of snoose.
We male critters, on the other hand, just want a little lovin'. :-)
Tricked and Treated: The Case of Modern Day Piracy involving British Columbia hydroelectricity and water
© Peter Dimitrov, October 27, 2006/ bcpolitics.ca
Folks, this is an article I would rather not write. Indeed I would rather enjoy Halloween, the trick-n’ treating, attending parties, the joking around, and watching the fireworks that accompanies this time of year. But it is not to be. The story that unfolds herein ought to be sufficient to ‘scare your socks off’, to cause you to demand answers, leap in to action. If you have any concern for the welfare of your children and grandchildren – please read this, pass it around, get very active.
Here then, in short, is the ‘skinny’ on what is happening with our rivers and your electricity!
1. Campbell soup & company (hereinafter the “Pirates”) have split up what was once an integrated BC Hydro company, a company that produced electricity, transported it over its own power transmission lines, and then sold it to us residential, business and industrial consumers at the fairest price in the land.
2. A good part of BC Hydro was sold by the Pirates to Accenture (enough said about that which you can Google yourself), which now operates in British Columbia, although strangely you won’t see their names on the hydro service trucks.
3. The Transmission resources were ‘split away’ from the Crown corporation to form a separate Transmission Company, the BC Transmission Corporation.
4. Under the BC Energy Plan, BC Hydro is no longer permitted to build/construct new hydro-electric generating facilities, it has been compelled to purchase our future electrical supply from “Independent Power Producers” (IPPs)
5. According to the BC Hydro web site there are presently 14 different IPP hydro projects on various river/creek systems in British Columbia, still under construction, some near completion.
6. The price which these IPPs pay government for a “small” water license is $5,000, for a term of 40 years, renewable for another 40 years, but likely renewable in perpetuity. In addition to the water license to have water reserved to produce hydroelectricity, they get some land along the site to build the powerhouse,etc.
7. Once an Energy Purchase agreement is signed between BC Hydro and an IPP, the IPP then waltzes to the bank and with that secure contract is able to negotiate very favourable lending rates from the bank to build the project.
8. Unlike oil & gas, where royalty rates are established relative to the market price of those commodities, the royalty rates to be received by the Province from the water licenses granted are not tied into the potential market price that will be paid to the IPP from the sales of the hydroelectricity.
9. A $5, 000 water license (for a small hydro project) will potentially generate between $10- $15 million/year in revenue for the IPP, and while there are some minor fees to be paid annually ($200/year ) by the IPP, the province will see a return of only 4-5% of the $10-$15 million. For a water license costing $10,000, much larger IPP projects can be built, where the payoff per year for the IPP could be $100 million plus/year, and yet due to low royalty rates the Province will only see 4-5% of that $100 plus million.
10. Up until now, the average price per megawatt (million watts) that BC Hydro pays for electricity is about $1.08 per Megawatt hour, which cost is passed on to you the consumer.
11. BC Hydro has signed ‘energy purchase agreements’ with the IPPs listed on its website, which require BC Hydro to pay them approximately, $16 billion dollars for that electricity. The average cost to BC Hydro for that power will be $87.00 per Megawatt hour. These contracts will kick in during the 2009/2010 and are payable each year to 2051. Guess who will be paying for that? From $1.08/Megawatt hour to $87/Megawatt hour is an astronomical increase –guess who will reap the profits from those energy purchase agreements – if you guess IPP’s and the banks (the pigs at the trough) you guessed right.
12. It gets worse, the scenario exists, that several, if not all of the IPP’s will ‘flip’ their water license and hydro project to a larger energy company, likely American, (the “mega pigs”) and voila, us, lambs for the slaughter will have lost control of our new ‘green’ energy, and the ‘water’ in our rivers/creeks to Uncle Sam forever – under NAFTA.
13. The IPP’s, or their new American owners, will want to export as much as that power to USA, as likely the market price is higher, and if we can’t pony up the cash or refuse to, well we can just sit coldly in the dark like mushrooms.
14. Then there is Bill 30. Once upon a time municipalities, and regional districts in rural BC, had the zoning authority over rivers/creeks in their territory. They had the power to deny an IPPs application to build a hydro project. Well folks that is gone. Witness, the Ashlu Creek IPP project in the Squamish area now being constructed by Ledcor Power Inc.
15. Prior to Bill 30, passed by the Pirates (soup & co.), the duly elected folks up in the Squamish area, which included the mayor of Whistler, twice denied Ledcor Power’s zoning application. What happened next, is speculative, but “words must have gotten back to El Pirates that the ‘lambs for the slaughter’ where acting uppity out in the country and the lambs needed to be herded in, hence – dutifully, we have Bill 30.
16. Indeed, Bill 30 takes away all powers that municipalities and regional districts had to decide zoning matters respecting IPP hydropower products.
There you have it, a true to life Halloween story of how El Pirates ‘treated’ their pigs at the Victoria animal farm, and once again ‘tricked’ the ‘lambs for the slaughter’.
In the meantime Cinderella and her urbane democratic friends were reputedly funning it up quietly at a nice Victoria tea party, ruffling no feathers in case El Pirates and the pigs would notice. As for the journalistas, they seemed too taken up with El Pirates and the dazzling fire works to report these happenings in the propaganda fed to the lambs for the slaughter.
Indeed, it could have been another Halloween. Imagine, BC Hydro, a co-operative owned by the people of BC, building green hydro and wind projects, owned, controlled and for the public benefit of the people of British Columbia. The profits from the sale of that power flow not to the majority shareholders of the IPPs or the banks, but to the people of BC, who democratically decide how to use that money to develop this province, their communities, their regions, so as to reduce inequality, and improve services to the people of this province, and commence the long road to regain our dignity, our sovereignty, indeed, the long road to build a civilized economy, a democratized economy, with new rules.
As for Cinderella, El Pirates, and the pigs, one has to wonder for how long the ‘lambs” will put up with that tea party?
Friday, October 27, 2006
But which took me away from Liberation Voice.
Good discussion going on in the "Vanguard" thread. Must get in there meself.
That said, I'll get some fresh material in here between now and tomorrow. Ideas anyone?
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Here's meself and the other Coyote half. She's
ticked 'cause I put up a picture from one of
her bad hair days, and won't be persuaded by
my saying she is beautiful anyway. :-) She's
got cap head hair.
This is from a trip back to the part of the
Douglas Lake Cattle Co. Ranch we worked, oh hell, back in the early 80s. This picture is taken near one of the pre-Douglas Lake ranches, Norfolk. Isolated but beautiful.
Worked me like a slave they did though-, for the rich man, Chunky Woodwards, of the old Woodward's Dept. Stores.
In case you're not familiar with Douglas Lake, It's between Merrit and Kamloops.
So, if Peter and I are right, that the most important issue right now is not who The Left backs in the next Federal or Provincial election, what then is the proverbial most important issue right now? Are we not merely advocating that we cut off our nose to spite one's face?
First, I'd let the parties convince who they can on that one and everyone pick their choice of the party likely to do the least amount of harm right now. If you really are persuaded that it is even important to vote at all at this time. And I, for one, am not. All of the most likely current successful contenders right now, in my view, are more alike as peas in the pod than they are substantially different, and about to produce negligible change in the current neoconservative course upon which capitalism world wide and in this country is embarked.
Better, and more likely to produce a positive result in the final analysis, I think, is simply for masses of people to just stay at home on voting day, and vote with their feet, like between 30-40 % of the population already do at election time, against the currently inadequate and failed status quo Big Money, ruling class controlled so-called "democratic" system. Such a behaviour, in fact, is far more likely to lead to this electoral and party representation system's collapse and meaningful reformation than the religious mantra pursuit of voting at all costs for "the lesser evil". (The generally accepted folk wisdom on any given subject is likely, at least, as often not true as true anyway.)
But then, I agree that this in and of itself is likely not enough either, for as well as the negative there must also be the positive to walk hand in hand with it.
And the positive is, in my view, the overwhelming need to re-focus instead on rebuilding and invigorating the mass social movements of the people, including the labour movement, and movements amongst the poor, as the real source of all power, which too many years of social democratic (NDP) reliance and control over the left, joined with their effective control over the leadership of the trade union movement have been allowed to languish and fall into virtual irrelevance. Without such vibrant social movements of "the people", these co-opted NDP and Trade Union leaders have themselves been eunuchized, lost their power base, and been party to their own decline, and possibly impending demise. The very social environment such movements create, and upon which they depended to sustain them, they destroyed with their opportunist insistence upon the overweening importance of "electoral success" within the status quo system of so-called "democracy" itself.
All of which has led, post the collapse of "liberal" postwar "prosperity capitalism" to the sorry state in which the people, society, and the natural environment are increasingly coming to exist. For the NDP, the Trade Unions and the left generally were really functioning all along, once "the people" were disengaged, at the discretion and tolerance of the ruling class system-, which all came to collectively forget, over-believing in their own natural power assumptions.
Which is certainly not a desirable position for any of us on The Left to be in, for sure. Indeed, life would be much simpler at least, if they were right, and all we really had to worry about is, alongside whom to park our X, once every four years, and then just lean back and party hardy thereafter.
Because it means now that we actually have to do something. We have to figure out how we are going to create these social movements again, and then engage them and move them towards some kind of a United Front against "the system", as had to be done by earlier generations. Well fortunately, this is in part being made easier for us by some folks themselves, (who are ahead of the Left very much actually, doing to much yada yada, as we are too often prone), such as those folks right now who are occupying those buildings in downtown Vancouver, demanding increased housing units to be made available to the poor. (Which I think is an outstanding action by these folks which can and needs to lead to the creation of a massive movement of the "engaged poor" everywhere.) "The Left" needs to get in there, work with and assist these folks, and all such movements like it, from whatever social direction they emerge. (Food Banks are much in need of radicalization as well, in my view.)
Likewise, if there is not one currently, inside or outside the trade union movement, there is a need for a major reformation and change of leadership direction within the House of Labour itself. And there needs to emerge there, a social movement as well, to achieve this.
Unorganized workers need to begin to search out ways as well, that they can begin to come together, initially secretly if need be, to organize themselves and build up a power across society that serves their interest as well. And Left folks amongst unorganized workers need to take the lead in that.
And the "social movement need list" goes on, into the environment, the special conditions of women and children, and even students and academics need to be brought to see the commonality of their interests and opportunities, with those of the mass of the citizenry. They have education and leadership roles that they can play in assisting this entire "social movement" creation process.
Not easy. Not formulaic like getting out for this or that party candidate, or even putting your own X on a ballot, but necessary. And more important in the end, in my view. And necessity is the mother of all invention.
And something tells me that Peter may have something additional and cogent to say on this subject as well.
Monday, October 23, 2006
A black bear I came across on one of my outings
He, presumably from his size and without a cub,
was up a big cedar tearing apart the bark. I think
looking for bug larvae or such.
Anyway, upon hearing the camera shutter and
thereafter spotting me below him, he started down,
moving quite quickly. I snapped off a few quick shots
and retreated as he descended.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
But I decided, especially with The Peoples Voice, it was just too widely used out there, and already taken by folks I would not wish to offend, so I settled on Liberation Voice. It gets at that "democracy" issue which I think is so important, is not so widely claimed near to home upon doing a Google, and yet "Liberation", in my view, defines much of what folks such as us are really about, beneath all the layers of differences we can also have.
Maybe pass the name change on, would be seen as a favour by yours truly.
And I know, confusion is never good. I should have done a Google back at the beginning.
BC HYDRO AND THE MISALLOCATION OF POLITICAL POWER WITHIN BRITISH COLUMBIA
Peter Dimitrov, firstname.lastname@example.org; October 20, 2006
Presently the Crown owns it all, and grants most of the coal, timber, minerals, oil, gas, hydro licenses to major Corporations whose Boards of Directors really don't give two cents worth for local workers, families, and communities. Their focus is the bottom financial line and value to shareholders - especially majority shareholders. This is not new "news", this is the colonial way it has always been in BC., the municipalities and cities, and the people that reside within them, have little political power within the province vis a vis the Premier and the elite class of big business powers. This dysfunctional allocation of political power is the root cause of why the problem of BC Hydro’s sale, restructuring, and the privatizing of our river’s water to independent power producers exists.
- Is it equitable and democratic that the Crown should own it all?
- Is it right that the Executive Branch, primarily the Premier's office, should have all the power to say what goes down, and sold in BC?
- Is it equitable that cities and municipalities be ‘creatures’ of the province?
- Do we not as people residing within them, have an inalienable right to demand that ‘political power and wealth’ within the provincial political system be re-allocated in an equitable way, with checks and balances, with competing rights and jurisdictional competencies – instead of the Premier and Victoria deciding it all?
- Is it equitable that the Provincial Crown should have virtually all the power and municipalities & cities have zip power except what petty amount is granted to them by the province?
- Is it equitable that First Nations are cut out, as they watch their traditional lands being ravaged, while others take the jobs and benefits, and they reap the social, environmental, economic costs?
- Why could there not be an internal constitution within BC that allocates rights and responsibilities between the capital region and other regions/cities, and First Nations?
- Is it equitable that all resource rents, taxes, fees, etc. flow directly to a central provincial treasury with minimal flow-back to the region from whence the resource was extracted?
Then rural BC would not be a colony, more monies and jobs would stay in those regions, and rather than a huge settlement & transportation problem on the coast, urban migration might slow down, perhaps reverse itself over decades.
But such alternatives are not to be under the BC Liberals or the NDP. They both want to carry on within the same dysfunctional system, change the actors, but keep the dysfunctional, inequitable framework of power in place- of that I am 100% certain.
What a Kafkaesque joke this political set-up is, but who will join me in speaking for these other possibilities?
It is my firm belief that only by changing the allocation of political power and wealth in this province by the formation of an internal people’s constitution, can democracy, which is seriously off the rails, be hoped to be revitalized and re-tracked in this province.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
I mean, I'm really too lazy and fond of playing outside, to want to do nothing but write for a blog. I'm retired. I'm here for a good time, not a long time.
I received this press release, at least I presume it to be such, through an old friend. It comes from the Communist Party of Canada. And while I certainly do not think it replaces a more overwhelming need for a change to a more truly Proportional Electoral System, over the current First Past the Post system, which facilitates Big Party, and big "pro-business" party dominance of the Canadian democratic system, this is nonetheless a politically more "useful" and allows for a more relatively democratic situation overall, than has been the norm within our still limited concept of democracy within Canadian capitalism.
For everyones information.
Date: Fri Oct 13, 2006 5:08:11 PM Canada/Eastern
To: "Strong Communities/Coalitions"
The Communist Party of Canada is pleased to report that another important legal victory has been won for smaller registered parties at the federal level. Justice Matlow of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has just released his judgment on the joint challenge of the Party Financing Act which imposes a 2% threshold of the vote which federally-registered political parties must achieve in order to receive party financing. The challenge was brought by representatives of the Marijuana Party, the Canadian Action Party, the Communist Party of Canada, and the Green Party.
The Court has ruled convincingly that this legislation is unconstitutional in that it unfairly discriminates against smaller parties, and has therefore struck down the provision and directed the federal government to compensate all smaller parties retroactively dating back to the 2004 general election. In practical terms, this means that parties which received less than 2% of the total vote in the 2004 and 2006 federal elections must be paid $1.75 per vote received by their candidates in those elections, just as the larger parties receive this funding.
It remains to be seen if the Attorney-General’s office will seek to appeal this decision. The ruling however appears unassailable on legal grounds, and is completely consistent with the Figueroa decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in 2003. Therefore, any move by the Harper government to appeal this decision would constitute a transparent, mean-spirited attack on the smaller parties.
Our thanks go out to all those who have expressed their opposition over the past number of years against unfair, undemocratic and discriminatory election rules in this country. Your support has been an important factor in this latest victory, and in the Figueroa decision of 2003 which laid the groundwork for Justice Matlow's ruling
Kimball Cariou, Communist Party candidate in Vancouver Kingsway in the January 2006
Electoral-law edict boosts small parties Funding rules stunted growth, judge finds.
An Ontario judge has struck down an electoral law that permitted large federal political parties to fill their coffers with public money at the expense of smaller parties.
Superior Court Judge Ted Matlow ruled yesterday that the law is undemocratic, unequal and stunts the growth of small parties for no valid reason.
The money will be awarded retroactively to 2003 and, including interest charges, brings the total the parties will share to approximately $500,000.
"We're thrilled," said Tracy Parsons, leader of the Progressive Canadian Party. "Another piece of democracy has been served. I can't say that I'm 100-per-cent in favour of tax dollars being used to fund political parties, but I'm certainly not in favour of them funding only select parties."
The judgment was a major victory for a coalition of seven small political parties that argued that the law -- which took effect in 2004 -- violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by unfairly giving $1.75 for each vote cast only to federal parties with more than 2 per cent of the national popular vote.
"I consider that the existence of the threshold diminishes public confidence in the electoral process and encourages a public perception that the threshold exists only to benefit the major political parties, who alternate, from time to time, in forming the government and are in a position to maintain it," Judge Matlow said yesterday.
He said that having an eligibility threshold "perverts" democracy by forcing small parties to make a tactical decision whether to target certain ridings in order to reach the percentage of the total vote they need to trigger the payments.
It was the British Empire, of course, who in 1916 first partitioned off and created the current state of what we have come to call Iraq, out of the old Ottoman Empire of the Turks.
1916.05.16 secret Sykes-Picot Agreement anticipated the partition of the Ottoman empire into British and French spheres of influence with the villayets of Basra and Baghdad going to Britain, and Mosul and Syria to France, but Britain did the fighting and came away with the spoils, taking over Mosul as well as Basra and Baghdad
1919.01.10 Britain formed state of Iraq from aMesopotamian villayets of Basra, Baghdad and Mosul.
1920.04.25 League of Nations established British Mandate over Iraq.
Check out the following link, for a review of some of the major elements of this aspect of Iraqi history:
The point being, toying with the lives and territories of other peoples in this way, as a method of carving out and fulfilling imperial ambitions, and nowhere more so than in the Middle East, has a long history. And from the beginning of this current US Empire invasion of Iraq, I can recall back to some of the discussions occurring in the blogosphere here and in the US at that time, amongst neoconservative opinion writers certainly, but also many so-called liberals who as well supported the war, the idea of partitioning Iraq was already then put forward as one of the ways of controlling the situation and territory there for the "liberating" US forces.
And by the by, this notion and claim of imperialism arriving in Baghdad as liberators is not new either. I haven't really even looked for an Ottoman Empire claim about "liberating" the people of Mesopotamia. but certainly it is readily there out of the mouths of the later British Empire.
This is the Proclamation to the People of the Wilayat of Baghdad that British General Maude of their Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force issued when his forces took Baghdad.
People of Baghdad, remember the 26 generations you have suffered under strange tyrants who have ever endeavoured to set one Arab house against another in order that they might profit by your dissensions. This policy is abhorrent to Great Britain and her Allies for there can be neither peace nor prosperity where there is enmity or misgovernment. Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors, but as liberators.
Certainly many echoes of the present in there as well, of the current US Empire "liberation" of Iraq, with an eye to self "profit" from their dissensions, when they gaze covetously upon those self-same oil fields that the British did.
But the real question being, of course, is the current US Empire desire to partition Iraq as a control means, which lurks beneath the surface of current imperial and patriot insurgent conflict reality, likely to serve the new and rising Empire from the West, and its "allies", any better than it did the older and now sun set Empire of the British?
And there is some indicator of the answer to that in recent history as well actually, I think, in the outcome history of the partitioning of old Palestine.
Did that solve Europe's "Jewish" problem in the end, and secure that area of the Middle East for the post WW2 ambitions of western imperialism, culminating after the collapse of the old British Empire, which was one of the eventual consequences of the last war, and the rise of the new US Empire.?
In a word, "No."
The consequence problems of that partitioning exercise are still with us. And in my view of it, looking at that and the relatively long history of Iraq since the demise of the old British Empire, where there are not only lingering regional tribal divisions but also now a fairly extensive shared "national experience" of intermingled blood, relations, and economic shared history and interests which are also there, and have been the primary driving element of the insurgency against the US thus far.
No doubt there have been the religious nutters as well, but hell there are those in the US no less, except called "Christians" there. And even the leading force of the majority Shia, the cleric Muqtada el Sadr, who poses the greatest armed threat to the US Empire, is a self-proclaimed nationalist, sworn to the defence of the entire territorial integrity of Iraq, and of whom it has long been rumoured in US intelligence reports even, that he has negotiated alliances with the Sunni part of the insurgency. And even not all Kurds stand with the partitioning of Iraq, many of whom have long come to live and work across the whole of Iraq, and are known in some numbers at least, to be a part of the insurgency against the US.
So it is not a simple question this matter of partitioning Iraq, for the US Empire ambition, as even is it for Canada, with our internal stressors between Anglo-Canadians, Quebecois and Aboriginal Natives. There are significant elements which work to drive us apart, no doubt, but there has also time and again been demonstrated a long shared history, evolved shared interests, blood lines and economic interests (which the dominance of trade with the US works against), and a fear, certainly at the level of "the people" of being "absorbed" into the US Empire. And of which similar elements there are also in Iraq.
All modern nations contain all the contradictory and fractious elements of the complex and often violent histories which brought them finally into being.
Though there is likely a price that Kurdistan is going to have to pay at the end of this conflict, for its "official" collaboration with the US Empire, I fear. But even there, it has other enemies as well. Turkey has stated that it will not tolerate an independent Kurdistan if the US is compelled to withdraw from Iraq. So for them it is not simple either, and Iraq may come to again be looked upon as a whole lot less threatening to it, in a choice of lesser evils, at least as some kind of loose "federal or confederal" survival means, as Saddam had at least already provided them.
Clearly, any attempt to partition Iraq by the US Empire, in my view, however much it is tempted to try it, is likely destined to fail, on the basis of the available objective evidence. For the modern day Iraqis certainly, outside of the religious nutters, and Iraq under Saddam was a modern secular dominant society, looking out upon the modern world, smaller is not better. In the end it only makes a state more, not less vulnerable, to Big Power interferences.
Which is, of course, precisely the US Empire interest in the concept of partitioning Iraq. But for which still, the risk is no less great, nay perhaps even more, than their present difficulties. Which is all that stays their hand from that course, which was again apparently rejected just today ,in the top level White House meetings going on between the US President, his advisers and military Generals from Iraq.. That fear.
Friday, October 20, 2006
To which we come from many differing development directions, with subtle and not so subtle differences in attitudes and political perspectives, and yet, again, with that certain common thread of agreement, which stands against the Neoconsevative dominant direction of development, starting out from the US Empire, and spreading north like a malignancy of recent years into our own, hereto more socially and politically progressive Canada.
That is fundamentally the foundation and starting point from which this Blog site establishes itself and seeks to exert an influence, within Canada and outward to the world. We are and welcome Anglo-Canadians, Quebecois and the Indigenous peoples of our country, and all recent and established different immigrant communities into our shared country. Likewise we welcome similiar like-minded people of the world.
We are in search of our commonality, our individual nationhoods, within a single country and a sustaining natural environment, and against those outside and internal continental economic and political forces that threaten all of us.
Which is the way I see it anyway. We don't mix our messages here. We speak frankly to each other and our visitors. We are tolerant, but we are not given to being treated as fools and objects of abuse by anyone so tempted.