Green Island Letters

Original article: Tyee Poll: How Would You Suggest Canada Celebrate 150 Years?
July 2, 2014

Was having some thoughts on all the non-stop hoopla on the CBC et al about how great we are!!!! around Canada Day, and then this thing appeared on the Tyee. Thought I'd take a minute to reply - whilst not actively and intentionally 'out of the box' as we are on Green Island, the Tyee is one of the more open internet media sites in Canada, and does not automatically block anti-capitalist ideas, or other things the MS prefers their loyal puppets, excuse me 'citizens', think about, or not, as the case may be. So I sent them some thoughts on what I would think appropriate for their Canada Day on our 150th birthday might be. I was pretty sure they wouldn't allow any long thoughtful answers, as apparently they were looking for no context twitter things like 'legalise grass!' or 'build a skytrain' and stuff like that, so I wrote it all here, and sent a short intro to them. I shall update soon, to see if they allow it. All my 3 sporadic readers need to know this stuff.

- the last bit of the Tyee 'call', above:
'...And that's the key, right? Audacity and vision and the confidence that Canadians are, when challenged, greater than the sum of their parts rather than petty, self-interested consumers to be divided by base, wedge politics... To be honest, we may not get that kind of vision from our leaders. So, instead, how about you tell them, dear reader, what kind of audacious vision would you like to see launched or finished on the 150th anniversary of this country... Is it national free wifi from coast to coast to coast? Is it reinstating full funding to the CBC? Is it a high-speed train? Is it a true shift to nationalized renewable power? Now's your chance. In the week of Canada Day, you tell them...

- and my reply:

My dream for Canada, ~2017, our 150th birthday

Dear Tyee, et al

We can do audacious. My dream for Canada's 150th birthday is - Democracy. Finally realising the dream of people everywhere for hundreds of years. An informed, engaged citizenry taking control of this country, and getting back on the path to the dream we once had for this country - a leader in democracy, freedom, fairness, (good, sustainable) progress and prosperity all around the world, rather than the first sock puppet of the US hegemon, slowly but very surely attacking and destroying everything good and decent in this world in pursuit of the dystopic dreams of a few obscenely wealthy people to rule the world at any cost. I dream of a country where the actual will of the people, as decided after full, informed, all-inclusive discussion, is what gets done in our country, rather than the very undemocratic will of a small group of extremely wealthy, and avaricious and corrupt, people, working behind the scenes to control the country for their own benefit, after no discussion whatsoever beyond a propagandistic one-sided monolog through the mainstream media telling Cdns why whatever the rulers want to do is so great, or if not so great absolutely necessary, with a rigged electoral system to give them a 'plausible affirmation' of 'democracy' which we very much are not, these days, with any meaningful definition of the word and government 'of, by and for' the people.

The Canada Day celebrations were actually quite worrying, to anyone with a broader familiarity with history, which few modern, somewhat 'dumbed down' child-hive-mind citizens seem to have, with their high-schoolish "We're the Best! We're the Best!!" chants. The somewhat over-the-top celebrations brought rather vividly to mind great rallies of earlier years in such places as Hitler's Germany, binding the citizens together in a deafening and mindless 'WE ARE THE GREATEST!!!' hive, ready to follow their leader anywhere. I am sure, even if most people don't remember such rallies, they do recall where Hitler's Germany wound up, after a few years of some of the greatest destruction humanity has ever known. Blind, fervent, thoughtless celebration of whatever your favorite demagog is never a very good idea, particularly when it is so evident to anyone with open eyes and functioning mental processes that there's actually a lot *not* to be celebrating these days. There is also the other side of this coin, a less obvious but perhaps because of that more dangerous thing - once we have joined together in celebrating how GREAT!!!! we all are - it's going to be a bit contradictory to wake up the next day, and start fighting seriously against the great problems we have today - and much easier to avoid attracting the puzzled looks of those who thought you were with them, part of the gang, in believing in our GREAT!!! country.

Because the celebrations of our 'great democracy' are especially troubling in Canada at this period in our history, for we have not been any kind of real 'democracy' for quite a few years now, and although we once aspired legitimately to a certain kind of democratic greatness, we have been going backwards for quite a few years now. Going backwards doesn't seem like such a great thing to be celebrating, especially to the extent where people seem willing to just ignore our many problems, or are even ignorant of them as the media screams HOW GREAT THOU ART!!!! endlessly, and more or less never talks about the many ways we are actually much further away from greatness than we were just a few years ago. And it becomes more than a bit frighteningly ironic, in a 'Big Brother 1984' sort of way, to realise that from one perspective, as we follow the 'HOW GREAT WE ARE!!!!!' exhortations of our leaders in celebrating Canada Day, there is one perspective from which such great celebration is justified - our leaders, not the politicians but those with the money who give the politicians their policy directions behind closed doors with no media present, have indeed much to celebrate, as they continue to very successfully destroy the strides towards democracy our forebears had made some generations past, as they continue to deconstruct the many programs that strengthened the once-almost democracy by giving all citizens economic security and access to education and health care. And it is very worrying, in a quite dispiriting way, to see the drones and slaves, er, excuse me, 'citizens', at their leader's behest, celebrating the triumphs of their masters, the successful emplacement of the chains and servitude, celebrating the success of the masters in creating their new feudal society. Speaking of Jonestown ....

And I do not forget the many 'new Canadians' featured everywhere during the 'celebrations' as sososoSO!!! happy to be joining the Wonderful!!! life in Canada!!! - kind of laughable in its shallowness, as 'Propaganda 101', no different in substance and purpose than Ms Modern Househusband-wife telling us how ecstatic!! s/he is at her Wonderful New Brand GREAT!! Household Cleaner YEA!!' - now we know Brand X is the Greatest!!!! because we saw an ad on TV - now we know Canada is GREAT FOR EVERYONE!!! because we saw an ad on TV!! No doubt being in Canada is a considerable improvement in the lives of many immigrants to be lucky enough to have escaped the even worse conditions in many war-torn or other disaster or poverty-stricken countries around the world, and one would hardly begrudge them their good fortune and happiness at managing to get to Canada, but let us look at the whole story, and not just a favorable, hardly representative advertisement of what Canada is in 2014. Although we are undoubtedly still a good country, in many ways, especially when compared to many other places facing serious problems, we need to keep this in context. We need to have right there on the table beside the happy young immigrant girl, the fact that we used to be a much better country, and we used to be going forwards in terms of all important social indicators - today, we are much poorer than we once were, and going backwards at an increasing pace in almost every important way - and maybe that is not something we ought to be celebrating, but fighting. And although this may still be a better place than many others in the world, we should be trying to bring those countries up to our former standards, not enthusiastically joining the race to the bottom we have all been engaged in for the last 30 years, racing to join the underprivileged countries in their lives of decreasing security and prosperity.

Troubling though it may be, one really needs, at times like this, to think of other stories to keep everything in proper, non-jingoistic, 'something above mindless MYTEAMRIGHTORWRONG!! sports fan cheering' context. For example, what about some portraits of another young woman - but this time, a native teenager, or poor white-trash woman-girl, of which we still produce way too many, hitting the road drugged up and beaten up and running from her non-caring community to start her short, brutal life of prostitution and pimps and darkness, having given up completely on finding any kind of decent life in this GREAT!!! country - maybe lucky if she's simply abducted and murdered before making it to the nearest big city? How many thousands or tens of thousands of stories do we have like that every year, that we don't seem to want to talk much about, or celebrate as defining our 'great' country? Why is the happy young immigrant girl more definitive of our country than that young native woman? Or what about the many pensioners depressed to the point of considering suicide because they have no pension to live on, have to sell their homes, after a couple of decades of governments 'cutting back' and 'reimagining' things, whose 'new world children' are just pissed at the idea of spending money on mom and dad rather than the latest version of their electronic smartphone, and are probably going to be stuck in some 3rd rate nursing home with deplorable standards of care to die alone and uncared for, as a reward for helping to build this 'great'? country? The many other not-so-happy immigrants living in various gang-infested slums, beatings and killings all around defining their daily lives, no hope at all for the future? And many other terrible stories we hear in various places every day, if not so much the 'How Great We Are!!!' mainstream media - let's have a bit of balance, as we look at where our lives and country are a year later than the last time we had this great celebration. Hmmm - the number of food banks, and the number of people relying on them just for a bit of food, is, once again, greater this year than last year, when it was greater than the year before, and before that, and before that - wouldn't it be more appropriate to hold off on the great celebrations until the year when we have FEWER food banks than the year before, and fewer people relying on them? When we have a democratic government (**truly** democratic) announcing a grand new program to give needy and disadvantaged people MORE rather than less - indeed, to announce that every single person in this country is going to have a basic guaranteed standard of living, an adequate standard of living - and if the richest people and corporations in this country have to pay some small percentage more in taxes to enable that - then by god they are going to pay it, no whining or lobbying allowed. When the entire country is not celebrating some 'feel good!!' ad about some privileged immigrant coming to Canada, but celebrating a year when not one single young woman was forced into prostitution because of poverty and nobody caring what happened to them, not one single young qualified and desirous person could not find a place in university because they had no money or could not face a future of massive student loans, where not one single retired person was forced into some dismal nursing home they hated because nobody cared what happened to them, or lost their homes because they just could not pay the bills, where not one single politician said 'Hey! We'd love to help you, but sorry, we got austerity you know, and we're off to a meeting in Mexico now to talk about free trade so our rich people can get even richer!', when not one single person was told they'd have to wait months and months for some pain-relieving surgery because the wait list was loooong, when not one single child in this country went to school hungry because mom has no money and the politicians are more interested in making sure their pension plans, already gold-plated, have 'cost of living' adjustments each year rather than making sure the poor people on welfare have adequate cost-of-living adjustments - when organisations like the Canadian or Ontario Anti-Poverty 0rganistation close down (!!!!!) because of no work to do, and on and on and on - well, ok, ok -

- now that would have me on the streets celebrating.

And I am going to keep fighting until I can share in that day.

But for now - my dream is democracy. I do not see the loud, jingoistic celebrations I read of the last few days as appropriate to my country, during the very bad times that have fallen on my country at this time in its history. I see no reason to celebrate heavier chains and increasing poverty and a very, very non-democratic government, and much, much else that is wrong with my country that could, and should, be better. But I do keep the faith of my ancestors, those who fought beside the likes of Tommy Douglas and JS Woodsworth, and many, many others, and many, many others who still do have that dream and fight tirelessly for it, who still do fight for a better country, a far, far better vision than the NWO-New Feudalism that our enemies are fighting for, and winning, and celebrating. And at the time we clearly get back on the road to that Douglas dream - then I will be celebrating.

Dave Patterson
Ontario, PEI, Thailand
Green Island

(with a final apology to all that this is not more polished, it could be much better - just a quick response, to get it to Tyee in a 'timely' manner..)

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