Monthly Archives: May 2015

Harper’s Monument to Ignorance

Soon, somewhere on the streets of Ottawa, our nation’s capital,  a monument to ignorance will be erected.

The Stephen Harper Government has put up a website advertising its new Memorial to Victims of Communism.

A memorial to victims of communism is a wrong-headed memorial from the start. It is really a monument to propaganda.

Whether one subscribes to communism or not, it is merely an idea about a way to live. And at its heart, it is not an egregious idea. The failure of communism is not due to any evil embedded in the idea itself, but rather it is due to human beings’ inability to sustain its laudable humanistic goals. Any intellectual knows this to be true.

If ideas could kill, we should be building memorials to mercantilism or to Christianity, which have most certainly been used as justifications for violence. In fact, wasn’t it supporters of Christianity who brought such horror on Canada’s indigenous people through the creation of colonialist policy and the creation of residential schools?

Yet as we all know, it would be absurd to create a memorial to victims of Christianity: absurd, and offensive to the good people who worship a Christian god.

Aside from the fact that Harper’s memorial will cost us many millions of dollars, it is sure to stand as a means to galvanize people in a spirit of ignorance – the very ignorance that supplies the rationale for atrocities against other people. It will become a rallying point for a crusade against a political ideology, leading us to wander mindlessly into conflict with good people who dare to imagine a world differently than we do.

And in the light of the the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recent revelations of the atrocities Canada has inflicted on her own First Peoples, are we not obligated create a memorial to victims of residential schools? Such a memorial will serve as a reminder for generations to come of the horror we ourselves are capable once we lose our moral compass and forget the humanity of others.

It will be a sober reminder of the need for us to regard our fellow human beings with love and respect in a spirit of decency and cooperation.This is the memorial that Canada needs, and one that has been recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.




In case you’ve never thought about this, here’s proof of how the government strategizes for interviews. Always deflect the question by stating something positive about your past record. Don’t actually answer a question.

Sean Holman's Unknowable Country

Is the advice government communications staff provide serve the public interest or a political interest? (Graphic by Government of British Columbia) Does the advice government communications staff provide serve the public interest or a political interest? (Graphic by Government of British Columbia)

What started out as a British Columbia government attempt to defend the job its communication staff do has, ironically, ended up demonstrating the weakness of the province’s freedom of information law, as well as how those officials can work against the public’s right to know.

Earlier this year, I wrote an open letter about how such staffers often don’t respond or give non-responses to the questions reporters ask. They also advise elected officials to do the same thing, as well as restrict access to bureaucrats who actually have answers.

That cross-Canada issue was then covered by three radio shows, including Daybreak South. The Kelowna, B.C.-based CBC program succeeded in getting Andrew Wilkinson, the minister responsible for British Columbia’s spin doctors, to agree to an interview.

Following that interview, on…

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NDP: the only party that understands the economy

Alberta’s Wildrose Party leader, Brian Jean is quoted in a CBC article as saying, “You can’t trust the New Democrats with the economy — we’ve seen that right across the country, whether it be in Ontario or otherwise …They destroy the economy.”

I want to point out a fallacy in this article: I’m surprised that reporters just stand there and nod knowingly while party leaders repeatedly spout this nonsense about the NDP. They could at least ask for an example, but they never do. It has become the slam dunk approach for other parties to win elections. Simply write off the NDP by saying that they can’t be trusted with the economy, and you’ll scare voters away. And somehow, news reporters just lap it all up.

In fact, the opposite is true about the NDP. Just as one example. in BC, the economy did far, far better with the NDP in the 1990s than it has done since with the Liberals. There were more jobs, there were more services to people, including health, education, and road maintenance. Hospitals and schools were in better repair and cleaner. There were fewer antibiotic resistant bacterial infection like C-difficile, there were far fewer homeless people.

But of course, the rich don’t care about these things, because these are issues they can afford to avoid. Who would drive across the province when you can fly. Who would send their kids to a public school when you can afford private?

The preferred economic model of the most recent governments, including the BC Liberals, and certainly the Harper Conservatives, has been trickle-down economics, which supposes that if you lighten the tax burden on big corporations, they will have more profit to reinvest, resulting in more jobs. This theory has proven to fail over and over in a global economy because profit gets squirrelled away in divestment outside the country, in capital investment, in savings plans for shareholders, and in huge bonuses for the C-suite crowd. Very little goes to produce more jobs or better wages. After all, what do a bunch of executive officers in say… Germany or the U.S. care about Canada’s health care or our roads or parks?

The NDP recognizes that the secret to securing jobs and services that benefit the public at home is to demand that multinationals, and wealthy individuals pay a reasonable amount of taxes.

Ever notice that the employment statistics are “stuck”? That’s because current governments have cut off their own revenue stream at the behest of the big corporations as they try to avoid paying taxes. These corporations get to live here at half the rent of citizens, so that they can secure massive profits that the middle and lower income Canadians will never see.

We need a little more NDP thinking. We need to ensure that the rich (including big corporations), who have enjoyed so much success in this country, are required to give back to the economy by paying their taxes. That’s what stimulates the real economy.

And I’ve yet to see a rich person suffer in such a system. Maybe he’d have to settle for a Volkswagen for his daughter’s grad gift, rather than an Audi. But this is hardly suffering.