Tuesday, February 04, 2014

What Then Must We Do?

One of the great failures of progressive bloggers is our obsession with telling each other, over and over and over ad infinitum, that Stephen Harper is a shit.   It's not that there's any reason to give Harper & Co. a pass on their perfidy but surely we have more important fish to fry.

Turfing the Harper government won't mean all that much unless the incoming firm, be that Mulcair or Trudeau's outfit, is prepared to right Canada's political keel and rectify Harper's excesses. 

Our progressive cousins in the States hoped for so much when Obama succeeded the truly imperial presidency of Bush/Cheney and they're bitterly disappointed by the results so far.  Oh sure there's been a small victory on health care but there's also been the drone war campaign and the "all of the above" rudderless policy on fossil fuels.  Guantanamo remains in business and America's domestic spy apparatus has never been so uncontrollably powerful.  Obama should have and could have renounced the imperial powers built up by Bush and Cheney but he didn't.

What if our next prime minister finds Harper's excesses to his liking?  What if he doesn't dismantle the walls of secrecy that offer so much cover and control?  What if he finds our democratic deficit worth continuing?  What if he chooses to continue the corporatist state?  What if he can't be bothered to restore a free press to Canada by breaking up the corporate media cartel?   What if our next leader won't move effectively to reverse inequality and rehabilitate Canada's middle class?

Yes, of course Harper's a shit.  I know that.  What I don't know is how we're going to ensure his successor isn't just another shit in a slightly better wrapper.  'I promise I'll be better than Harper' isn't enough.  We need change we can believe in, real change long overdue,  and not merely window dressing.

Time is not on our side and Canada can't endure another, slightly less offensive iteration of Harper. 


Richard said...

This is my biggest complaint with the progressive bloggers: Harper this and Harper that. "The Con Regime".

I personally barely even cover Harper anymore, it's a given, he's screwing you over and there's no reason to focus on it. There's no reason to doubt it. Sure as the sky is blue Harper is selling Canadian sovereignty and chanting "2015" over and over isn't going to restore what we've already lost nor the coming losses.

Rural said...

You have a very good point, one that I myself have fallen into despite my focus upon blogging about democracy, which in my view is in need of protection / enhancement in order that ANY government is held in check!
That said its hard to not bitch about the Harper Regimes actions when just about everything they do diminish said democracy and the ability of the public to know what is going on and have some influence upon the outcome.

The Mound of Sound said...

I find Harper an unhealthy distraction, Richard. Why should we focus on a leader and party we cannot hope to change instead of putting our efforts into ensuring that a party we have some expectation of meeting our country's needs does just that?

@ Rural. I have wondered whether Obama's modest achievements reflect a new reality of the 21st century, ungovernable states?

There was a time when we had a reasonable expectation that political leadership would heed the challenges of the day and respond to them in a way that served the population.

You might have thought that the ominous reality of climate change would trump energy policy but in Canada we're doing just the opposite. We're talking about massive expansion of Tar Sands projects and a race to get huge volumes of coal and LNG sailing to China. Why? Because we can and because it's the easiest form of money government can find.

It took tens of millions of years for the organic matter that created our fossil fuels to be laid down and yet we're intent on depleting that in under three centuries?

And what do Trudeau and Mulcair plan to do about it? Not much, really.

Anonymous said...

I have come to the conclusion that the best way to affect change is to join the grassroots groups for each particular issue. Just as the oil companies have lobby groups, we must become our own lobby group, because our MP's no longer take the concerns of the citizens into consideration unless met with fierce lobbying. Get out and support Idle No More; get involved with the Dogwood Initiative, follow what the Council of Canadians is doing. Parties are no longer responsive in any meaningful way.

gingercat said...

There are 2 Progressive Bloggers that I know of, Impolitical and Progressive Right, that have taken the next step beyond and have run for positions on their respective EDAs. It takes getting involved and trying to impart change from within party structures.
If you want your voice to be heard it means getting involved. Part with the 10 bucks that's required to become a member and run for a spot on your EDA. With the new electoral boundaries changing, now is the time that most EDAs are having their founding meetings. Even as a lowly Director I can have far more impact on policy than the average blogger.
It doesn't mean that you can change everything but at least I can say that I am doing something.

CK said...

Harper is the worst and the most evil of the lot we've had. No question and many have been brainwashed into thinking he's the next best thing since sliced bread.

With all their faults, I don't believe Mulcair and Trudeau are evil. They're only trying to somehow gain in a country that is increasingly right leaning.

Yup, I would prefer PM Trudeau or Mulcair over another Harper majority any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

I remember my father telling me he voted for Rene Levesque and the PQ in 1976 because there was a common front strike, including teachers which he was. The strike had gone on for too long and then Premier Bourassa was not showing good faith and not even making an effort at serious negotiation. Hence, my father, like so many public servants of the day, figured they were never going to get a deal from Bourassa, so they voted for Levesque in the hopes of getting ahead in the negotiations.

The point of my little story is we know what Harper is about and how intractable he is. We know that Harper will continue on that path of destruction should he win even a minority next time. How about giving either Mulcair or Trudeau a chance? They can't possibly do any worse than Trudeau or Mulcair.

Purple library guy said...

Arguably one thing we should try to emphasize more is policy rather than politics.

That is, talk about the kinds of things that the next government should be doing, rather than the kinds of things the current fascist bastards are doing or indeed the kinds of things the other parties and their leaders are saying.

If we can put some big policies and issues on the map, get people thinking about major things that government could and should be doing but isn't, then political parties nominally of the left or claiming to be pro-middle-class or whatever the Libs say they are, might be pushed into adopting them or at least watered down versions.
I'm talking about things like social housing, publicly built renewable energy, Keynesian job programs to approach full employment, industrial policy, restoring and increasing infrastructure, pharmacare, things that will make a real difference to whether you can have a decent job, live in an affordable home, afford to be sick. Some of these, like industrial policy, would of course run afoul of "trade" agreements. My response: Chuck the agreements if they don't let us have a prosperous society.

Purple library guy said...

In a less centralizing vein, how about policies for participatory budgeting? How about promotion of co-operatives whether through tax policy, through education (colleges and so on have tons of courses about starting small businesses, none about starting co-ops), through direct public assistance and subsidies (like normal businesses get), or through streamlining regulations? How about promotion of member-controlled credit unions at the expense of big banks?

Rather than saying "I really wish the bad guys would stop doing X" and hoping vainly for the already-bad status quo to be undisturbed, why don't we talk about the good things that could be done but which it seems to be beyond the pale to speak about?

Lorne said...

I'm of two minds here, Mound. On the one hand you have a good point about what can be an unhealthy and ultimately unproductive fixation on Harper, but on the other, it is not in us to simply ignore him. As my wife likes to say, the voice of dissent is something that really annoys the hard right (they want everyone to think like them), and if that is true, each anti-Harper post is worth it.

As well, while we in we progressive sphere are well-acquainted with Harper's tactics and 'crimes,' many others are not. That is one of the reasons I became a contributing member of Newsana; I often pitch news stories that are unreservedly critical of the tyrant, articles that may influence people who aren't as keenly aware as we are. Also, I frequently post links on both Twitter and Facebook to blogs such as yours, Owen's, and LeDaro's, among others. I don't know if my 'friends' read them or not, but again, the possibility of influencing them to vote in the next election with a little more knowledge and insight is too good an opportunity to pass up.

ben burd said...

You and the rest of the progressives are not going to go far in this day and age of votesplitting, and now that Harper the SHIT has gerrymandered the new Ridings there is even less likelihood of shifting him unless there is an electoral coalition agreement and progressives will never agree to that unless of first they put their biases and prejudices aside against each other. Why the Libs don't realise that Dips will never subjugate themselves to them is beyond comprehension and why the Dips don't realise that the majority of Libs will never join them is beyond me. Recognise reality and make an agreement not to run candidates in splitting conditions and let the chips fall where they may.

If the idea is to get rid of Harper the Status Quo will never achieve it.

Richard said...

To gingercat and the rest of the commenters of the mind "change the system from within the system"

The problem is that "policy" works within a paradigm that can not be challenged. It is an infinite growth paradigm of which policy can not address and every day we lose more and more of our ability to set our own direction.

"Policy" isn't going to help when your policies infringe on corporate rights and violate NAFTA or the TPP. Policy isn't going to change that we borrow from private banks in a global Ponzi-scheme. Policy works within these confines and thus can not change them.

The ONLY way for the people to change the system is to opt-out of the system. As I've pointed to many times the biggest threat that has faced the system was the occupy movement, not because of what it tried to be, but because of what it became: smaller independent communities where-in the residents sacrificed their own comforts to live in tents.

"Policy" can't change the fact that overseeing your policy choices are credit rating agencies run by the private banks we borrow from who can yay or nay policy changes by increasing the cost to borrow for carrying those policy changes out.

Our need and reliance on infinite growth can never be changed by working within the rules of infinite growth. Real change is going to come at a real price, but then again, so is the status-quo.

Anonymous said...

Your real problem with Progressive Bloggers is that you can't write every post, or turn it into your own Facebook page. You seem to think that you are the only blogger people
should read..You're not. Mulcair and Trudeau
may not be perfect, but they are infinitely
better than Harper. Your suggestion that they
are not is nothing more than voter
suppression, and plays right into the hsnds
of the Cons. Please stop driving humbler
bloggers off the front page with your fifteen
posts a day,, stop collaborating with the
enemy , and for fuck sake get a life.

Ryan Spinney said...

Mulcair might not take the most progressive positition on every issue, but he is a man of his word, and has more then enough progress positions that Canada would be massively changed for the progress.

Justin Trudeau on the other hand uses his popularity and preception to hide how regressive and right wing he is. He also flip flops at a drop of a hat. From going from supporting the gun registry to opposing it, supporting that treaty with China (FIPA I think), to his cowardess on constitutional issues, flip flopping on weed, we'd end up with another right winger if he wins.

Mulcair fought Harper and has done more damage to Harper then any opposition leader, we as during the minority years and at times after Trudeau supported Harper on piles of regressive legislation.

Mulcair wants Pharamacare, Cap and Trade, increased funding for universities, increased corporate taxes, a fincial transaction tax, Universal Daycare, a national transit plan, restoring the naviable waters leasilation, restoring proper safety regulations on industries like food, airlines, trains, using the CMTC (I may have the acoyomn wrong) to build affordable housing instead of bailing out rich banks, an end to subsidies to the Bank and Oil sector, making Native Americans a top priority, getting Quebec to sign the constitution , amoung many other ideas.

Justin Trudeau on the other hand has promised to legalize weed, a promise that is doubtful given his actual voting record, and he stole an NDP idea on the Senate for which is being applauded (I don't get why he gets the credit, it was Mulcair his teams idea, shouldn't Mulcair be the one getting the kudos?)

Its should be clear there really is only one progress choice (unless one wishes to vote Elizabeth May, ignoring her support for dumping raw sewage into the Pacific), and that is Tom Mulcair, not Harper's Protege Justin Trudeau.

Its time for people to wake up to the reality of Justin Trudeau and how unfit to be Prime Minister he is.

Richard said...

Only in the twisted partisan sports arena is voicing critical questions about the foundation of the system "collaborating with the enemy".

Keep at it Mound.

Dana said...

Whoever this "anonymous" is, this is a person too stupid to own a computer.

Okiw said...

Hear you and think what you are trying to convey is being a shade less neo con than Harper and his Corporate / Banker bosses doesn't inspire a great number of people to get off their ass and decisively vote the manipulating CPC Corporate machine out.

That and prog blogger's group think and fear of writing something controversial doesn't sway a great number of people either.

If so, I concur

the salamander said...

Harper is the head of the snake ..

Anonymous said...

Why can't the Federal Government be SUED for Lying to the Populace and Sued for not putting in action Promises made to the Voting People during Elections, by all people in Canada who feel the Government is not operating with Democracy in mind, and, why can't we as a collective group of people such as we, replying to bloggers such MOS Sue as well? Good Question! Posted by me, Anyong

deb Scott said...

I cant analyze this through as well as most of you, lol.

But I can say that I believe that Mulcair and Trudeau have alot more integrity than Harper. Neither of them are sociopaths, for one, or if they are they have their charisma trait turned up much higher then harper.
So in that alone it would make a difference.
In terms of the upcoming election, since we know Stevie will cheat, lie and kill his mother to get voted again...what this country really needs is a high voter turn out.
Most of the hardcore conservatives know what Harper is about and they either support it or they dont, nothing can be done, as they probably will opt not to vote if they turn on Steve.
But what would be great is if the progressives could access that group that dont vote, it drives me wild, as the whole country is at stake and there still are people who cant be bothered.
We need to convince those folks to be engaged and to vote. I dont have the answers for that, its too bad some wiley IT guy at CSEC couldnt be convinced to create a list that has the nonvoters on it(and sell it to trudeau or mulcair or even Elizabeth May(my fave)).
Target them, convince them the country needs them to VOTE! presumably they will pick Trudeau or Mulcair as surely they have read the news and saw Harper and his trainwreck of a party. And how bad they have corrupted the process and poisoned the land, with their vileness

The Mound of Sound said...

I attended a Green Party function in Pt. Alberni last night, Deb, to hear the latest from Dr. Andrew Weaver, Canada's first Green MLA and a leading climate scientist.

Weaver addressed youth disaffection with politics and said he didn't blame them. Our political leaders really don't give them much of a voice in policy as a result of which our parties are dominated by old geezers driving the agenda with short-term issues and ignoring the reality of what we're bequeathing to our youth. Young people, in turn, see nothing for them in politics and turn cynical, staying away in droves.

We don't speak their language and we don't understand what they have to say either. You and I seem to fault them for failing to embrace the politics we accept. Why on Earth should they?

It's our policies - Harper's policies but also Trudeau's and Mulcair's petro-policies - that endanger our young peoples' future. Why would they want to sit at the table when we leave nothing for them?

I can't think of any time in Canada's history when one generation so controlled the fate of its successors and yet acted so selfishly.

deb Scott said...

I get that, that the youth dont want to engage with such crap! I missed Dr Weaver, but really do like his style. I heard him speak a few years back in Nanaimo at Port Place. I think its not just the youth that dont vote though, I think there are plenty of 30plus that dont bother either. I suppose it all seems like the same ol'schtick.
but Harper certainly has changed it from the same regardless ...to OMFG I cannot believe he just did that "party politics"
and so the folks that want to follow Russelbrandism and say im not bothering with politics as it is... Better then try something else. As it stands, they arent engaged and they arent trying for change, and none of them are trying for action.
Neil Young took the political fight to a good place, we need more of that energy and then maybe more folks would pay attn.
and too true that the politicians dont want the public to wake up, so sure all parties( except the greens) are ruled by corporate donations and the same power structure.
Lets hope Elizabeth may and Andrew Weaver can give the youth something to vote for. But honestly Mound, I have been a green party supporter since the 80's where the heck are the rest of those voters. I have been watching the environment fall into ruin since I was in HS, why have the others been soo blind?