Category Archives: Christy Clark

What the BC Premier’s Reconciliation Smells Like

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Quite simply, if a politician dangles child welfare money to anyone, but makes it contingent on embracing a sick LNG plant, what does that smell like to you?

I think it smells the same as when she tells a school board to close schools or else they don’t get seismic upgrading money.

I think you know what that smells like too.

We must completely obliterate the BC Liberal Party. Because children aren’t pawns, except to the BC Liberal Party.

First Nation rejects province’s Pacific Trail cheque after child welfare program hitched to pipeline offer

A ham-fisted attempt to win First Nations support for the province’s liquefied natural gas ambitions has backfired, threatening support for the Pacific Trail pipeline needed to bring natural gas to Kitimat for a proposed LNG plant.

The Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have returned a cheque to the province and have backed away from a proposed agreement on the pipeline after the B.C. Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation linked its LNG offer to continued funding for vulnerable children in the northern coastal community.

“When we saw that they had rolled up our child welfare program in the LNG offer, we were dismayed. This is an absolute proof of the sharp dealings across this province to get this LNG initiative,” said Debbie Pierre, executive director for the Office of the Wet’suwet’en.

Source: B.C. child welfare program offer to First Nation backfires over LNG ties – The Globe and Mail

Jokers to the Right

https://images.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=http%3A%2F%2Frecycledsurfboards.com%2Farchie-bunker-quotes-on-race-119.jpg&f=1It’s time we learn more lessons from Archie Bunker. While the right wing continues to become increasingly clownish, we need to go back to Norman Lear’s classic 1970s sitcom, All in the Family, to get re-acquainted with Archie Bunker’s willful embrace of ignorance and bigotry to learn where he’s coming from and how to protect our world.

So let’s look at the threats lurking underneath the clownish behaviour of right wing politicians, and examine how a visionary, progressive, engaged labour movement can confront it. This trip takes us from the new Manitoba government to Brazil, to Donald Trump to Kevin O’Leary to Austria, and ends with Justin Trudeau.

Let’s start with a warning. These clowns and buffoons we are enduring, Trump and O’Leary jump to mind, are not to be underestimated. There is analysis suggesting that the ridiculous behaviour and ignorant policy statements are just an act to get free media coverage and attract votes. But we can’t let this possibility make us complacent.

The increasing prevalence of right wing clowns is designed to normalize these radical and offensive social, economic and political attitudes. We cannot let the evaporation and resignation of Stephen Harper make us content.

So let’s stroll around the world to see what we are up against.

The Manitoba NDP recently lost government, replaced with the Progressive Conservatives, who are not progressive. The new government caucus is 80% men. They appointed an Anglophone woman to be minister responsible for the francophone as well as sports, heritage, women and culture. Hers will be the ministry of “all the things the government doesn’t care about.”

Brazil has stepped back to the right wing privatization of the 1980s and maybe a touch of Chile in 1973. The right wing coup/impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff is class warfare. The new president immediately established a cabinet of only white men, and dissolved progressive ministries dealing with food, women, culture, science, racial equality, and human rights.

Then, the new president contacted the International Monetary Fund and Goldman Sachs to create a neoliberal structural adjustment program for the country, a tool that has decimated rich and poor nations around the world for two generations. This program is about destroying the progressive capacity of governments, in part by privatizing government services and corporations. So we need to monitor Canadian pension funds to make sure they don’t try to buy parts of Brazil’s public infrastructure at low, neoliberal prices.

Donald Trump is no clown. He’s a poster boy for white, male, corporate, 1% entitlement and backlash against recent generations of progressive change in society. He also resonates so well with people who have learned to keep their bigotry to themselves. Trump is popular because he is affirming their ideas and giving them license to revel in them, publicly.

Kevin O’Leary has long annoyed progressive Canadians because of his reactionary opposition to people who are not rich, white and entitled. His spirits have been buoyed recently with Stephen Harper’s resignation as party leader and Trump’s success in channeling anti-social views. Even if he never becomes leader of the Conservative/Reform Party of Canada, we need to be wary of whatever higher profile he may drift into in the near future.

A Green Party-supported independent candidate narrowly won Austria’s presidency in May in a run-off against and anti-immigration far right candidate with—take a deep breath—massive support from blue collar workers. Trump also has massive blue collar support.

Back in Canada, Trudeau has been in office for half a year and is already living up to the Liberal cliché of campaigning from the left and governing from the right. You can track how he is rapidly breaking election promises at Trudeaumetre.ca as he is framing himself as the new Harper with regressive trade, environmental and social policies.

So how do we confront these increasingly desperate right wing tactics and behaviours?

Archie Bunker taught us that providing a voice of ignorance and bigotry in a sitcom character keeps it from festering in back alleys. It also lets society see what debating controversial issues looks like.

And while it also seemed useful to mock Archie Bunker, that kind of mockery seems to have helped drive people with bigoted sentiments underground, until they began emerging recently, like with the “election” of George W. Bush.

So how should the labour movement contend with this new right?

1.       We need to start with our values: dignity, respect, equity, responsibility and accountability. These should frame how we engage with right wing issues. So let’s make sure we stop referring to Trump and O’Leary as clowns and buffoons.

2.       Since ignorance and bigotry are based in fear, we need to leverage our particular skills and insight as a labour movement to address what makes people afraid: insecure and precarious work, underemployment, vulnerable housing, social insecurity, inability to feel confident about being able to raise our families, equity, dignity, human rights.

3.       Since working people are resonating well with both Trump and Bernie Sanders, we can see they’re desperate for change, however it gets expressed. Our movement must more effectively engage with our members to help them see how progressive changes address their fears as well as improve society. Part of how we do this is to leave the political rhetoric and statistics aside and champion people in the labour movement to tell their stories about how progressive change has helped them.

 

No, BC Actually Mentored Saskatchewan’s Poor-Bashing

https://images.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=http%3A%2F%2Foxfamblogs.org%2Ffp2p%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2014%2F10%2FClass_War-2_250px.jpg&f=1Despite being Metro News, Emily Jackson’s great piece yesterday [below] about how brutally cruel the Saskatchewan government is should make us mindful of a number of issues.

Not the least of which is that the neoliberal Saskatchewan Party has been photocopying many of the worst of BC’s regressive and anti-social policies.

That makes the BC Liberal government Saskatchewan’s poor-bashing mentor.

Let’s re-spin this piece and explore some key context, then work up some solutions!

  1. In Saskatchewan there’s a lot of racism and classism and discrimination against the poor and those with mental health issues. BC too.
  2. 1 in 7 people in Saskatchewan is aboriginal.
  3. In Saskatchewan, the police have been known to drive aboriginals out of town to dump them on the outskirts of town. In the winter. There are even jovial nicknames for that little jaunt.
  4. Saskatchewan has cut funding to shelters. So has BC. It’s called poorbashing. People, after all, should pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Because, after all, we are all born with equal opportunity to succeed in life! [Myth, as you know.]
  5. The BC premier is an opportunistic liar when it comes to the 2 men the Saskatchewan Party put on a bus with a one-way ticket to BC: “Wherever they are in Canada, we should be supporting them… if they decide to come to British Columbia, we’re going to support them in that.” There are hundreds of thousands of stories of people in BC who are being degraded, de-funded, insulted and left to dangle in the wind from almost 15 years of cuts to social programs. Perhaps she thinks these men from the bus can work in LNG because that’s mythical as the BC Liberal Party social conscience.
  6. A Vancouver city councillor is deluded if he really believes his own words, that he “hopes Saskatchewan will look to British Columbia and Vancouver for how to properly treat people who need low barrier shelters.” Vancouver has a dismal record of actually contending with homelessness and inadequate housing. And if he really believes that anyone should look to the BC government for how to deal with the poor, he’s at best disingenuous. But then he shows his weakening credibility: “We’re a humane and just society here in Vancouver, and certainly our province is as well,” Jang said. “You just don’t treat people that way.” BC treats its vulnerable populations hideously. Our province is a train wreck.

Solutions Time!

  1. The same Vancouver councillor is right in calling for a national homelessness strategy, and far far more robust than this insult.
  2. We also need a poverty reduction plan in BC.
  3. We also need living wage legislation in BC.
  4. We need a housing authority in Vancouver, like Whistler has.
  5. We also need a national poverty strategy.
  6. And a national housing strategy.
  7. This isn’t really all that difficult. #1-6 indicate some intentional planning, based on sincerity and integrity and actual concern to ensure that people in a rich country like Canada don’t have to live in squalor.
  8. Which brings us to #8. Welcome, #8! Canadians are ignorant or oblivious or criminally indifferent to the squalor we have created over generations on reserves and for off-reserve first peoples. We are content with their inadequate housing, untreated mental health disorders and addictions, pathetic healthcare and education, insufficient physical and social infrastructure, and a myriad of other socio-economic problems reminiscent of 21st century failed states. And you won’t see any comments on this piece about how they just need to pull themselves up by their…bootstraps. I’ll just delete them upon submission. So there’s that.
  9. Oh, and we also need the post-carbon energy infrastructure transition to ramp up to 11 now because delaying will create climate chaos that will exacerbate all the socio-economic problems above, and many more.

Ultimately, we can simply coordinate our ample brain power, increasing tax base and will to create a just and equitable Canada for everyone.

And if that isn’t compelling enough for you because it’s the right thing to do, imagine if you weren’t born who you were. Imagine you were born lacking the socio-economic entitlements you have and you lived in communities like I mentioned in #8. Bad luck, eh.

If you have the neurons to even just imagine that, then ask yourself, shouldn’t you be advocating for public policy that would provide people with the best shot at a good life on the off chance that you would have been born into a vulnerable community? After all, all humans deserve an equal chance to have a good life, and not be born into deprivation, right?

And if the answer is no, it’s probably because you weren’t and you’re ok enjoying your entitlements while others born into vulnerability can just rot.

There’s a word for that kind of person. Many words, even.

B.C. will help two homeless men sent west by Saskatchewan government: Premier Christy Clark

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark said the province should and will help the two homeless men en route to the west coast after the Saskatchewan government bought them one-way bus tickets to B.C., where neither had social services lined up.

Saskatchewan’s ministry of social services spent $500 on B.C.-bound bus tickets for the two First Nations men instead of helping them at home, where their local shelter recently faced funding cuts, the Saskatoon Star Phoenix reported Wednesday.

According to the newspaper, one man has family in Victoria and one, a 21-year-old who struggles with mental health problems, doesn’t know a soul in Vancouver, his final destination. The men embarked from North Battleford, Sask. Tuesday night, but it’s not clear whether they arrived in B.C.

Regardless, Clark said the province stands ready to help, adding that B.C.’s strong economy is attracting a variety of people.

“I think everybody in British Columbia would say we want to support people with serious mental illness and we want to make sure they get the care that they need,” Clark told reporters. “Wherever they are in Canada, we should be supporting them… if they decide to come to British Columbia, we’re going to support them in that.”

Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang, who is also a psychiatry professor at UBC who researches mental illness, said this story shows homelessness is a problem across Canada, not just in major centres, and called for a national homelessness strategy. Meanwhile, he hopes Saskatchewan will look to British Columbia and Vancouver for how to properly treat people who need low barrier shelters.

“To treat two human beings that way, slapping them on the bus, one reportedly with mental health issues, to send them off into the night, is absolutely disgusting,” Jang said.

“I hope Saskatchewan learns from this and says we’ve got to invest in our social services and get people the best care to get them on their feet again, not push it off and hope fate will take care of them.”

The Star Phoenix reported that Saskatchewan social workers have the discretion to buy people bus tickets, usually to join family, but it is not typical. The government announced Wednesday it will review the case.

Vancouver’s annual homeless count takes place Wednesday night to Thursday morning. If volunteers meet either man, they will offer help.

“We’re a humane and just society here in Vancouver, and certainly our province is as well,” Jang said. “You just don’t treat people that way.”