10/2/12

CAMA? Say it isn’t so Stevie Harper.

Why does the Prime Minister of Canada, Steven Harper hate science so much? I pondered.

Over the past year I’ve written many articles of my opinion or rather confoundedness, over the decisions made by the Harper government of Canada. Besides the ever quickening pace of trying to sell and export our limited natural resources as fast as possible, our government is also picking up the pace as to selling the companies that extract said resources, mostly to China. The government openly panders to the energy corporations, yet hinders working Canadians, all the while chiseling away at our basic human rights and civil liberties, especially women’s and children’s, and specifically dismantling most environmental protections and controls. At the same time our government gets rid of the jobs, shuts down the work and tapes shut the mouths of a world renowned, respected science community, especially in natural resources and environmental science and technologies. From constant barrages of omnibus bills to funding cuts to nearly every government agency that deals with the environment and people or the safety and care of both.

We pull out of the Kyoto agreement yet have no national plan to battle climate change and carbon pollution. Local environmentalists and First Nations are branded foreign radicals, with Greenpeace called a “Multi-issue extremist group.” The charitable status of any group that dares to criticize the governments environmental performance or its subsidies for fossil fuels are threatened to be revoked, while journalists follow the lead of their corporate controlled employers by way of the Prime Minister’s office. Anything to do with safeguarding our streams, rivers, lakes and oceans has been gutted or dismantled, such as the Navigable Waters protection Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the Fisheries Act.

The incredulous concepts that are entering government policy making should be scaring the bejesus out of you, it does me. Each new decision the federal government makes gives an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. It has all seemed so confusing. But if you know history it is yet another remake of the chapter we’ve all seen before and which I will name at the end of this article.

We are already degrading our land and creating ever more inequality amongst people, what’s suddenly the big rush? What is taking prestige over reason? Why the desperate maddening pace and disregard for the earth? Why has reform become a dirty word to politicians? Why is the Harper government so adverse to science and rational debate?

But then a couple of weeks ago a friend asked me if I had heard of CAMA, the Christian and Missionary Alliance, no I answered, having no clue. “Check it out”, he replied. And so I did. And the confusion I once felt is gone, now I’m seriously afraid.

The Christian and Missionary Alliance, was formed in 1887 by the Canadian evangelical pastor Albert Benjamin Simpson. Simpson, born on Prince Edward Island in 1843, was raised in a strict Calvinistic Scottish Presbyterian and Puritan tradition, though later he converted to Evangelicalism and was ordained as a Presbyterian pastor. He served churches in Canada and the United States and by 1880 arrived at the Thirteenth Street Presbyterian Church, in New York City, where he began to put together doctrine which emphasized global evangelism. Moving to what is known as the New York Tabernacle he began to preach his word and eventually his and others words would transform over the decades to become the Christian and Missionary Alliance. CAMA is based out of New York with a strong base of operations in Alberta. There are about 500,000 members in the States, mostly all Republicans and about 130,000 in Canada, mostly all Conservatives and mostly all living in Alberta. They have about three million members worldwide.

The tenets of CAMA’s gospel are; Jesus our savior, sanctifier, healer and coming king, as well as the “pursuit and promotion of the Higher Christian Life.” Their commitment is to promote a biblically-based world view centered on Jesus Christ.

Their values  include developing their pastoral and lay leadership; where women are strictly not allowed, nurturing the pastoral staff and their families, belief in Biblical conflict resolution, encouraging creativity and innovation in submission of spirit, empowering churches and strategic building of churches in all communities of the world. They also have an Environmental Transformational Plan, which describes their “life zones” or spiritual realities, but the plan has taken ecology completely out of context.

CAMA’s Church Planting Life Zone for instance believes in an environment perpetually growing, where “church planters and church congregations pregnant with new church planting ideas would be welcomed, encouraged and assisted in giving birth”, which means building a new church and finding new members is encouraged and would be supported by CAMA, and of course, “sources of funding would be accessed in order to provide a steady stream of resources for church planting opportunities.”  Further, in each Church Planting Zone, “multiplication-minded leaders are motivated and encouraged by catalytic events designed to expand their thinking and accelerate their passion.” Other life zones include the Global Seamless-Link Life Zone, Leadership Life Zone and Pastoral Health Life Zone, all placing much importance upon the church, its executive and the Second Coming of Christ.

Their core values begin with the authority of the bible, literately every word of it as it is written, and leadership, where they state that they intentionally identify and train “godly” leaders. They uphold biblical justice, minister to the poor and oppressed of only their communities, and encourage and strengthen marriages and families. Divorce is frowned upon and if caught as an adulterer one loses their right to ever remarry.

As far as stewardship of the earth they view “all our resources and possessions as God-owned and we use them with integrity, accountability and maximum effectiveness.” The world was created for them to use as they will, that God is sovereign over creation and therefore humans can do no permanent damage.

As to prayer they believe, “We do nothing until we pray”. The Canadian members pray for Canada and its government and that “Godly agendas are required through minority rule.” They pray for those “utterly unreached people group-those under the domination of Islam, closed Hindu and Buddhist nations, etc.” All non-believers of their doctrine are considered the “lost people’. They also pray for their church leaders, pastors and executive to receive the spirit of their God in “remarkable new ways” and for them to be “strategic in service.”

CAMA members truly believe the Second Coming is “imminent and will be personal and visible”. Much like the evangelical Jehovah Witnesses have believed that every year is going to be the last one, since 1870; where Jesus Christ will physically appear on earth and will reign for one thousand years and then there will be the Final Judgment. After which time, the universe, including the microscopic parts of heaven and earth, will be renewed to become a new and fresh heaven and earth. They also believe the world to be only 6,000 years old.

To survive the second coming they pray that their churches have the “budgets, decisions and staffing that reflect their kingdoms values.”  Only those who repent and believe in Jesus Christ will be born again and “justified, sanctified and granted the gift of eternal life as adopted children of God.”

Fields of flowers, blue clear skies, cold crystal clean water and natural resources will be renewed and the chosen one’s will live on, to use the world to their will and a vicious cycle would seemingly begin anew. I know the Bible well, and unfortunately nowhere does one find a story about a Third Coming.

Other  beliefs of CAMA include that the free market is divinely inspired, with libertarian economics being God’s will and that God is opposed to government regulation or taxation for he created government for limited purposes only and whom should never intervene in the workings of a free market economy. They also oddly enough, though I am sure Charles Darwin isn’t their kind of scientist, seem to believe in the new social Darwinism, where the adage has been changed to the survival of the richest, not the fittest, will somehow benefit society and everyone else are simply lacking the motivation and ambition to help themselves.

Besides not having any regard for the environment and not putting any belief in science, they have utter contempt for homosexual relationships, abortion, stem-cell research, euthanasia and the use of marijuana. They demand the complete loyalty of their members to their organization, possess extreme disdain for mainstream media, but then don’t we all in its current state, and believe wholeheartedly in the Dominion Theory, where humans were made to subdue and rule over all of creation. Because when it all collapses, no worries, God will fix it.

Because the Christian and Missionary Alliance do not put any faith in the notion of climate change due to human contribution and don’t think much of science in general, they are closely affiliated to another appendage of themselves in the Cornwall Alliance, a right wing coalition of scholars, evangelicals and economists, many who are Christian Alliance members, and formed in 2000 with the introduction of the Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship. Their motto is Dominion, Stewardship and Conservation; they “aspire to a world in which liberty as a condition of moral action is preferred over government-initiated management of the environment as a means to common goals.” Their main threats are science and anything to do with monitoring the environment.  They indeed have a very evangelical biblical view of the planet, but then as do so many other faiths and organizations. It’s why they all despise each other so much, would like very much to rid each other off the planet and to be just left alone, to be the only one left when human endeavor drives off the edge of the cliff. While extremists at both ends of the spectrum seem to have no qualms on creating an Armageddon themselves if they have to, just to prove their points.

Within the Cornwall Declaration are statements that were surreal to read, seemingly out of this world, time and place. I kept looking around, thinking someone was playing a joke on me or perhaps I was even being punk’d. The statements within the declaration include that policies to combat climate change would and are, destroying jobs. Besides, they say the trillions of dollars it would take to combat our affect on the planet would bring “no net benefits.” They also assert that any impediment on economic development such as raising energy prices, would take away the ability of the worlds poor to rise out of poverty, thus “so condemn millions to premature death.” They believe one of the worst things to do would be to continue trying to reduce carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions, because it will only increase the price of energy and harm the world’s economies. In fact they flat out deny that carbon dioxide is harmful to the planet because it is “essential to all plant growth.” Believing the energy from their God’s planet must be abundant and affordable until the day he soon arrives, they feel fossil and nuclear fuels as being the perfect sources for this. Policies to control global warming they deem, “fruitless and harmful”, because the earth is “self  regulating and self correcting” and besides the earth was made to be used, so that humanity may flourish and display God’s glory.

As far as alternative and renewable forms of energy, they believe that such things as wind and solar power will only be good enough for either “poor or rural peoples.” Going further into the declaration; they do not feel that humanity is only consumers and polluters but instead we are producers and stewards. One of their main goals is to reduce the need for collective ownership and control of both, the earth’s resources and corporations, and if there is to be any collective action it must be taken at the most local level possible. They also wish everyone would just recognize their proper place in their God’s created order.

I began this article asking a few questions about the madness that seems to be enveloping Canada. The denying of science’s role in environmental and social decisions; cutbacks to fading social programs such as unemployment, pensions, health and welfare; the attempt to become a militaristic badass in the world;  the ongoing destruction of our basic human rights; the death of our will to vote; and the insane and desperate need for the status quo to continue.

The outcome of the last federal election, where 39% of those who voted elected a majority Conservative government, brought forth once again, the Harper government. It would seem we Canadians have a democracy problem. According to the Harper government’s agenda and policies, especially at the quickened pace as of late one can only surmise what’s behind such asinine decisions. Well surmise no more.

Yes, kept behind Oz’s curtain, glimpsed at only briefly, with nearly no one knowing, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been a member of the Christian and Missionary Alliance for nearly twenty years. He has always been questioned of perhaps having a hidden agenda. He does and it could very well be his God’s agenda, heaven forbid.

Other notable members of CAMA include many TV pastors and healing evangelists such as F.F. Bosworth and Clement Humbard; Billy Graham’s first African-American evangelist, Preston Manning; founder and former leader of the Reform party of Canada, and the now deceased, American Evangelist Billy Graham, who became a member of CAMA in 1933 but who was actually a Democrat and not completely on the religious right, once saying that Jesus did not have a political party.

Another long standing CAMA member is former Canadian Conservative cabinet minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Chuck Strahl, who in June 2012 was proudly given the chairman’s position of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, the lone watchdog which oversees Canada’s Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS), by his close friend Stephen Harper. The sounds you should be hearing are the goose bumps bubbling out of your skin.

Is the Prime Minister of Canada really basing his decisions on what Canadians need and want today and tomorrow or instead on what was written by many and then translated dozens of times, two thousand years ago? His positions on research, statistics, protestors, journalists, First Nation’s people, women, children, pipeline opponents and climate change cannot but make one wonder what is exactly going on here. Though with his buddy Strahl now in charge of Canada’s Secret Service we may never know. Heck I could even disappear or be tagged as a radical dissident after this article is posted.

I am not anti-religious, I do believe in spirituality; the spark of energy every living thing on the planet possesses and that we all share. Most organised religions have made a lot of money and gained much power over the millennia trying to control that spark. Usually by making that spark of energy negative and flawed as it were born and the only way to bring light back into it is by sacrifice, devotion and fear of either one god or many gods. On the flip side, whatever belief system a person has to keep them feeling centered, their lives rewarding, fulfilled and honest is right for them, for the Canadian Charter of Rights protects the freedom of religion, but it also protects our rights of freedom from religion. This is one of the reasons Canada is such a diverse place, where no matter one’s personal religion or race, its live and let live.

But if a Republican evangelical belief system enters the Canadian Prime Minister’s office, we Canadians should know about it, and seriously consider “the virtues of democracy over theocracy.” Remember, everyone not within the republican evangelical tribe are the “lost people” or “the others”, especially if you happen to be disabled, elderly, poor or a veteran.

More frequently, the Harper government’s policies are going against most Canadian’s values, with the words irresponsible, unethical, blatant and arrogant being bandied about more than usual. Any programs for promotion of renewable energy and home-energy efficiency have been thrown to the wayside. Yet in reality, investing in renewable energy will create more jobs than the fossil fuel industry ever could and the investment would be highly likely to pay off, it has to, for survival’s sake. Unfortunately the Harper government is continuing to rely on our economics to grow their way out of the problem of climate change and  haven’t realized yet that it will be too little too late and will not work. The earth does not care about economics. Instead of dealing with the causes of climate change it seems the world’s leaders would rather “watch the ice melt and then divide up the spoils.”

The English writer Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) was often referred to as the “prince of paradox” for his prolific and diverse published works. He was a true radical, meaning he sought the root or origin of an issue, any issue and eventually became a Catholic to boot. Over seventy years ago he would write, “The old hypocrite was a man whose aims were really worldly and practical, while he pretended that they were religious. The new hypocrite is one whose aims are really religious, while he pretends that they are worldly and practical.” He felt government was going to operate in a way where, “The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected”, quite astute that Gilbert, I do say.

Meanwhile we Canadians have another three years with PM Stephen Harper as our country’s leader. The question of where does his ideas come from, whether from fellow Canadians or from God, needs to be asked. Is policy, especially towards the environment, really being motivated by religious faith over reason? But then whether religion is a factor in government policies or just plain old greed, they are both of the same cloth. It is being proven daily that the diffusion of aggressive social conservatism based on evangelical beliefs is impossible to keep out of politics here or in the States. The difference is in the States they are oblivious to how ignorant they are to their ignorance and in Canada we just don’t hear about it and simply don’t ask. As far as the media and Stephen Harper’s religious affiliation goes it’s been mum’s the word.

The vision of a conservative society, where the privileged few would rule but understand the responsibility that came with such power, of being accountable to all citizens, whether they be poor or not, and who would act only for the common good, was held by many great leaders over the past century. Since killing off some of these great leaders in the late 60’s, the new religion that has become termed “conservatism” has arose, widening even further the inequality of our society, ignorant to any responsibility to the people or the public good, and is ego maniacal, quasi-psychopathic and greedy.

What will our environment and society look like in three years? Will we have sold off most of our resources by then and continue to ignore extreme weather and a ravaged oil soaked land and sea, as our infrastructure crumbles around us, with too high food prices, more starvation and ill health?  Will most social programs once supplied by the government be gone and communities will be more on their own and somehow funding themselves instead? Will homosexuality once again become stigmatized, forbidden and eventually against the law like abortion, stem cell research, euthanasia and protest of any kind could very well be?  Will a new private prison corporation build more prisons to house people who were either caught or even suspected of smoking a joint? Perhaps more fines, impoundments, licence removal and in many cases, jobs lost, because there will be zero tolerance for drinking and driving, with the limit point oh oh. How far shall I go here? Switch over and start reading George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, all over again to verify how much truth and foresight both authors spoke? Especially Orwell’s notion of “doublethink”, which means holding two contradictory beliefs simultaneously, which could be the Harper government’s problem believing in greed and God at the same time.

The Conservative right, on both sides of the border, may have abandoned truth and fact but we must not. The facts are the obligations to the things that matter in our lives, such as our health, meaningful work, family and our environment. One of the reasons our cultures are fracturing apart and decaying is because of our use of disengagement and distraction as an excuse for our ignorance; it is eating away at our souls. We continue to buy what corporate governments sell and lose value in the simple truth. While empathy, which has been taught over the past few decades as being “soft” and which is nearly extinct in many places, is actually as powerful as intelligence and knowing the facts in being a force with which to act. But we have been disengaged for so long we’ve forgotten how to drive standard.

First gear definitely has to be asking if indeed our future is being planned by ourselves and those who represent us or being dictated upon corporate ideology and make believe. Switching gears should be easier after that especially when more and more people realize that they are not alone. There are so many good things being done to better the planet and our lives, by many people, companies and yes, even a few corporations, the world over. Unfortunately the richest corporation’s ravenous quickening pace is leaving a diseased, spoiled wasteland behind.

I’d love to ask Stephen Harper; What if we destroy the ecosystems and non-human species of the planet, change the climate, melt the polar ice caps, acidify the oceans and rivers, use up all the earth’s resources and Jesus Christ does not arrive? No sign at all, no phone call, nothing, what then?

Ending this article as if I had included a drawing I did of Muhammad, I ask what of humanity in the scenario above? Would the laws that would have been put in place by then, which is not so far off as many think, be similar to the laws that became the Nuremberg Laws of Citizenship and Race, released in Germany in 1935, by the degenerate psychopathic Adolf Hitler? The first law of this doctrine is similar to many documents worldwide, though in this case “kindred blood” sort of curls one’s nose hairs. But say the word “Reich”, was replaced with the Harper Conservatives of Canada, if indeed influenced by the Christian and Missionary Alliance, and the word “German” perhaps replaced with Evangelical. This could be the new Charter of Rights they desperately seek. The Republicans in the States would fit the bill as well and we know what carrot they are blindly following.

“A citizen of the Reich may be only one who is of German or kindred blood, and who through his behaviour, shows that he is both desirous and personally fit to serve loyally the German people and the Reich.”

And so it began. More laws were to be added, starting with the simple banning of homosexuals, Jews and most all religions, foreigners, undesirables, the homeless and poor and elderly, writers, dissidents, thinkers, artists and many other “lost people”, whether man, woman or child. The banning would then become incarceration in work camps, with the final step being the Jewish issue, which was taken care of a few years later when Hitler attached another law, a Conservative Harper, omnibus type bill, which was called the “Final Solution” and after the smoke cleared, more than14 million people, 6 million of them Jews, had faced their Final Judgment and would die, because they were not members of his tribe.

Do we not bring up such past evils and horror; so that we can make sure they never happen again? This time though, the earth will soon be incapable of handling the human drama of our egos, the way we live, think and treat each other and it. We must not continue on being dismissive any longer or go “quietly into the night”. The Second Coming is nearing, but it’s got nothing to do with God and everything to do with us and our actions as a species today.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Martin Luther King Jr.

 

 

Further reading;

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/religions-fair-game-if-it-motivates-politics/article4450326/

http://www.macleans.ca/culture/lifestyle/article.jsp?content=20060220_121848_121848

 

06/27/12

3rd period of Oh Canada, where art thou going ?

In between periods our dressing room was pretty quiet, a pretty frustrated bunch. The fans meanwhile, though they had multiple things around them to keep them distracted, were becoming board, but as the 2nd period had run down, more of them began to notice that there was a game being played on the ice. And as more watched more became frustrated at what they were seeing.

Especially how Harper arrogantly skated around calling all the shots and he and his team had no intentions of playing by the rules or with any sort of integrity. Though his team had been selected by the fans to represent them, they didn’t seem to represent anybody other than their leader. Regulated by obscene pension packages, pay and perks to follow his lead and under no circumstances were they to speak out against any of his decisions and policies or heaven forbid vote against anything he says.

By the end of the second intermission, all around the arena, cellphones began to be turned off. The concourse began to empty, as people went back to their seats, now interested in the outcome of the game. They knew who we were, for we were them and because of that they were unwilling to ignore the unfairness anymore.

This period, the final period, we have collectively decided to put aside anything to do with our egos and play for each other, our loved ones and all Canadians. And if our best is not good enough we will lose and go home to dry out our sweaty gear and make what is really important to us, important again; our lives, families, relationships and communities. Because after watching and playing against the Harper government we have seen the blatant disregard of their responsibilities to the people of Canada, and how they operate with no worry of being held accountable. It is very obvious in the arrogant way they play and move their lips that they cannot be relied upon anymore to fulfill our needs at the provincial and community level. While in many cases the teams that represent the provinces are unable and unwilling to meet our needs either. So it all comes down to community. Where we don’t need to have a team, we just need each other.

Drafting another government team, to simply operate in the same broken system, isn’t really much of an option, considering Liberal or Conservative policies on the whole are very similar. The battle between them is waged by pointing out the few differences each have and throwing everything they got at that. The system is what’s broken.

The only power we have over our government is voting. Federally, the majority of Canadians forfeit this right and people get elected who become a member of parliament and cease to represent their constituents and who instead represent only their leader of their party and the policies that come out of his office. In between elections, we the people have no say at all in what the government is doing. As a matter of fact MP’s obviously don’t either, throwing their consciences and what’s good for the country easily aside as they do.

If one was to be looking at selecting a team amongst the most developed and richest countries in the world, one would want to look at their performance and competitive nature.

The French based, international economic organization, the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), formed in 1961, compares policies, economic progress and world trade of the 34 most developed and richest countries on the planet. They try to co-ordinate the domestic and international policies of its members and keep track of the world’s countries’ GDP (gross domestic product). Though the GDP does not fully define social and economic well being and how we are doing as a society because it defines only the total market value of goods and services produced by a country in one year, and really has nothing to do with if one is happy in their life or not, it is interesting to look over the OECD’s global competitiveness rankings of 2011 and see how Harper’s Canada is doing.

Of the G7 countries, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom and United States, Canada is 2nd worst after Japan in global competitiveness. As to the GDP performance of all OECD countries, Canada’s GDP growth is projected to be equaled or surpassed by Chile, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Israel, South Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden and Turkey. Our unemployment rate is just below the OECD average. Countries whose deficits are smaller, as a percentage of GDP than Canada’s, include Australia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Korea, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.

OECD also rates Canada 22nd in poverty, and 25th in social spending, Though Canada prides itself as having the 9th largest GDP in the world, it is rated as such; 22nd in poverty, 25th in social spending and research and development, 21st in tax load, with the 4th highest in personal taxation amount. Meanwhile, in 2006, Canadian banks made a profit of $89 billion and paid only 15% income tax. Canada is 54th in the world as to doctors per 100,000 patients. Cuba has been under a blockade for over forty years and has twice as many doctors per 100,000 patients. As far as spending on education as a % of GDP Canada is ranked 91st in the world.

The horn goes to start the third period; we throw our legs over the boards and are off to the races.

Feb. 2012. Harper Government abandons, the $1 billion to establish, Long Gun registry because it claims it is an invasion of privacy. All gathered information pertaining to non-restrictive firearms to be destroyed. Same month, they introduce legislation to allow police to read e-mails and view surfing habits of any individual. Bill C-30 would require telecommunication companies to hand over customers’ personal info to police without a court order. Supreme Court of Canada ruled such a thing is unconstitutional. Bill was passed after being tweaked to make it indeed mandatory for police to let you know you’ve been wiretapped, but only after it is concluded, and which could go on for years. Supreme Court of Canada was happy with that.

Canada’s continuing disconnect between the Safe Streets and Communities Act (Bill C-10), which is expected to increase population of Canada’s prisons with its priority being “tough on crime” and reality. Bill C-10 is a prison promotion strategy not a crime prevention or rehabilitation bill. Yet expected cuts to federal Corrections will be more than $295 million, $85 million in 2012 alone. Though there is more overcrowding in prisons with less staff, the Harper government has no intention of building prisons. Responsibility of warehousing any prisoners has been simply passed onto each province.

Bill C-10’s amendments include more mandatory sentencing. Thus judges are to ignore specific circumstances of the offender and the offence. These new laws (passed on March 12, 2012 by a vote of 154 for, 129 against) have created such things as; if found growing 6-200 marijuana plants will give you a mandatory minimum of 6 months, but not more than 2 years, with a maximum of 14 years. While someone sexually assaults a child or forces a child to have sex with an animal will only get a minimum of 1 year and not more than 10 and if a person admits guilt of such an offence, upon summary conviction will be given, not more than 18 months and a minimum of 90 days.

And because that great pendulum of life never stops swinging to both ends of its arc and never slows in the middle, Bill C-10 dictates that if you are growing five marijuana plants in your garden as an herbal medicine, whether sick or not, will put you in jail for a minimum of 6 months with a maximum of 2 years less a day, the same sentence for being found guilty of publishing child porn and distribution of. While any sexual interference, invitation to sexual touch and sexually exploit any child will give you a mandatory sentence of only 90 days on summary conviction, 1 year on indictment.

March 2012.  Major reductions of environmental oversight, including closing of BC’s Command centre for emergency oil spills. In all, $3.78 million is cut from the Environmental Emergency Program. Environmental emergencies will now be nationally co-ordinated. How emergencies will now be handled is, if in need of assistance in a disaster, any advice or assistance the Harper government can give us will now be by telephone. Across Canada emergency response personnel are being slashed in half, the rest are being relocated to Quebec. Environment Minister Peter Kent says the program will function just fine with a reduced staff and without six of its regional offices, including ones in Vancouver and St. John’s. The Harper government’s response to questions pertaining to oil response plans, usually end with conceding that “successful” spill cleanups, recover 10 to 15 per cent of the oil.

Internationally respected Nova Scotia-based scientist, oil spill expert and the executive director of the Centre for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Dartmouth, Kenneth Lee, is informed his position will be terminated.

Overall and across the country, more than one thousand workers with Fisheries and Oceans Canada have received the same notices. “I’m no longer surprised but I’m increasingly angry and I’m also extremely wary of what the future means for Canada,” said Jeff Hutchings, a biology professor at Dalhousie University. “The government’s decisions lately are reducing our governmental scientific capacity and what that means is that it’s reducing or seriously compromising the ability of science to contribute effectively to those decisions that affect the well being, the safety and the health of Canadians and their environment.”

April 2012. Five and a half thousand Federal services jobs cut, predominately in Health Canada, Canada Border Services Agency, Agriculture Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada, Canadian Investment Development Agency, Citizenship and Immigration, Canada Heritage, Veteran Affairs and anything to do with monitoring the environment.

Also in April, Vancouver and the Lower Mainland’s population of over 2 million people lose the domestic and international, Emergency Disaster Response Team, due to budget cuts. The Response Team had been setup and trained, with the tools and skills needed to respond to an earthquake or such disaster and quickly act to save lives. But was not able to show any profit I suppose.

Back in the game, we are all sitting on the bench or leaning over the boards, waiting through yet another delay. One of Harper’s players, the Public Safety minister, had been playing an atypical stay at home defenseman’s role all game, but in the third period he and the goalie, a senator, had built up a brick wall in front of their net, with only a couple of holes where you could see twine showing through. Once again winning another one-on-one battle, we had managed to get the puck out of our zone, crossed center ice and dumped the puck deep into their end. The Public Safety minister was caught unawares as he was shooing the goalie to the bench, for they didn’t need him anymore since the brick wall in front of their net was now completed. Anyways, the puck came rifling into his zone and with a brick in one hand and his stick, upside down, in the other; he quickly got up and skated hard for the corner to retrieve the puck but lost an edge and crashes into the end boards. We swore he was out cold. The officials huddled around him and medical personnel were soon scurrying across the ice to his prone body. Put on a stretcher, he was wheeled off the ice, one arm slowing rising with a thumbs- up. The crowd cheered, without malice, only in support and hope that it was not too bad an injury and for a healthy recovery, because well, we’re Canadian.

One of our coaches returned from checking out the extent of the injuries to tell us that the injured Public Safety minister was in his dressing room, awake now and obviously concussed by his screaming that tomorrow he will table changes to the rules of hockey to include yield signs embedded along the blue lines at three foot intervals, stop signs to be plastered across the glass at both ends and there was going to be a speed limit as to how hard one can skate and shoot the puck. At least we hoped he was concussed. We guffawed; yeah right we pretended to say.

Their injured player was then replaced by an elderly Chinese fellow, who strangely enough had skates on but never took a shift and wore an impeccable black business suit. Whenever Harper went to the bench to take a breather, the elderly Chinese fellow would lean into him, whispering into his ear.

In 2005, as a lowly Member of Parliament, Harper opposed an omnibus bill the ruling Liberals were trying to shove through. “In the interests of democracy, I ask how members can represent their constituents on these various areas when they are forced to vote on a block of such legislation”, he raged.

May 2012 Changes to 70 different laws are put forth by Harper government, of which there will be minimal debate, all under the “Jobs, Growth and Long Term Prosperity Act”, Bill C-38 (Omnibus bill). Passing omnibus bills are speedy and efficient because there is no discussion or research or considerations of the evidence and impact. Right up a government’s alley. Bill C-38 is passed 157-135 on June 19th, 2012 and contains over 400 pages. Many in the press and even Cabinet doubt many members of parliament know what they even voted for or what is actually included in the bill, but all do know enough to admit that most of the changes have nothing whatsoever to do with economic performance.

Environment Canada which protects Canada’s environment through conservation, including providing weather and meteorological information has its Ozone monitoring division shut down. Environment Canada’s total budget is $1 billion per year but will be cut down to $854 million with 11% of their staff to be terminated. Comparatively in the US, the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget is $10.3 billion, their National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration agency’s budget is $5.5 billion. Funding for any programs that inform Canadians about state of environment, including monitoring of heavy metals and toxic contaminants are slashed. Public funding for environmental sciences for Canadian universities has run out of money and expected to end in 2012.

The smokestack pollution monitoring specialist team of Environment Canada is also being dismantled, compromising the department’s enforcement capability and credibility of environmental reports on greenhouse gas emissions and indicators of environmental sustainability in Canada. Harper government feels they can save $718,000 per year and instead rely on sources of information such as the U.S. In June 2012, Environment Canada’s top bureaucrat, deputy minister Paul Boothe, announces he his taking early retirement and stepping down after what he describes as a “very challenging” past couple of years.

The non-partisan, Canadian Environmental Network, which was the best two-way communication channel between public and federal government on all matters environmental is shutdown, yet only needed $536,000 in funding. Were muzzled because what they are proposing goes against present Harper government policy.

And the puck keeps getting whacked about; Canada repeals Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, the global agreement on greenhouse gas emissions; Harper’s federal cabinet will now have the authority to approve any new pipeline projects as well as the ability to set limits for regulatory reviews. If the National Energy Board, which oversees such projects, disapproves any of them, cabinet can now force it to reconsider; changes to how permits under the Species at Rick Act are authorized; changes to Fisheries Act include that they will now only focus on major waterways and not every single body of water, such as streams and small-river fish spawning grounds; to offset less enforcement capabilities, stiffer fines for industry players who break environmental regulations and laws. Not that they can’t afford it.

In a hockey player’s head, where the game is 70% mental and the rest in his head, it’s real easy to figure out that if an industry makes a mess on the planet, they pay to clean it up, get fined millions and the CEO goes to jail. No raises in salary, bonuses, bailouts or subsidies to be paid.

May 2012. Cuts to the Canadian Coast Guard, especially on the West coast, includes shutting down Kitsilano Search and Rescue center, as well as three Marine Communications Centers in Vancouver, Comox, and Tofino. The Kitsilano Rescue center has saved over 55 lives so far this year. Last year they responded to over 285 emergencies. The area they cover is one of the most congested marine areas in Canada, year-round. The area includes Howe Sound, English Bay, Vancouver Harbour, Indian Arm and parts of the entrance of the North arm of the Fraser River, with over two and a half million active people surrounding their area of responsibility. On a daily basis, night and day, they are there for everything from swimmers to stand up paddlers, kayakers, sailors, power boats and sail, jet skis, cruise ships, freighters and soon to be, twice as many oil tankers. It is estimated that there will be 50% cut to response ability to all emergencies, often times instances where every second counts.

Joint Emergency Preparedness Program established in 1980, which helped cover the costs of emergency preparedness, such as developing municipal emergency plans, conduct local exercises and purchasing of generators and rescue vehicles is cancelled, along with shutting down all operations at the Canadian Emergency Management College, which offered training to emergency responders since 1954. Provinces, municipalities and fire departments across Canada are now expressing their concerns for public safety.

Also in Bill C-38; forty departments and agencies, including the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, which does environmental reviews, is cut back to three, as in 3. “To speed up approvals for projects that will bolster Canada’s economy.”  Included in these cuts are the job losses of Canada’s only marine-mammal toxicologist, Peter Ross and his team, almost all employees who monitor ocean pollution across Canada and the entire Department of Fisheries and Oceans contaminants program, which will be shut down in Apr 2013. Overall, the Fisheries and Oceans Department will be slashing about 400 positions from its 11,000-strong workforce. The Harper government’s chest is puffed out on this one, proud that the cuts between Fisheries and Canadian Coast Guard will produce about $79 million in savings for Canadians.

Once again thinking like a hockey player, does this mean that each one of us, nearly 35 million Canadians, gets a cheque from the government for two dollars and twenty-five cents? After all these cuts, job losses, responsibilities to our environment taken away, where no one is personally accountable and our health and welfare thoroughly compromised, it just doesn’t seem like a good deal. That’s not even the price of two litres of gas for gosh sakes.

Crazy period, the third: after play had resumed, the Harper team wasn’t even trying to score anymore. But then considering they were up 16-6 and their net was bricked over, why bother? We did. We’re Canadian.

With ten minutes to go, the Harper team just either sat on the boards with legs dangling over or sat on the bench, having conversations with a surprisingly large number of men in business suits who had crowded around their bench. They watched and laughed at us at first but soon grew bored. You see, once we realized they were not going to even attempt to score again, we being Canadians, thought fine we’ll keep trying. We wasted precious moments all lined up in front of the bricked over net and with slap-shots from ten feet out tried to break that wall down. But then one of our best players, a two-tours in Iraq and two-tours in Afghanistan combat veteran had simply had enough. With a blood curdling scream he smashed his stick to pieces on the ice and charged the brick wall. He skated full out and hit the wall with the best shoulder check I had ever seen, and the wall moved. Three of Harper’s minsters were watching and in unison, raising their arms, pointed at us and yelled, “Hey, look at what they do”.

With one more shoulder check into the wall it began to give. We all dropped our sticks and raced in as one and literally threw ourselves at the wall. It was ugly. We didn’t realize that the brick wall was actually really weak and not built very well and it gave pretty easily, with nearly all of us receiving some sort of injury. Skate blades were thrashed from stepping on the bricks, arms and bodies cut and bruised from the posts and crossbar, with seven players actually entangled in the net, took forever to extract them.

By the time the eight officials could pull us off the pile and get things sorted out. Harper was proposing an end to the game, clearly perturbed. But before any actual decision was made, the crowd began to boo. The decibel level was incredible; we were startled when it started. After five minutes of this immense, uninterrupted and passionate sound, the game was allowed to resume.

Our team, now bleeding, sore, covered in brick and mortar dust and rolled up gauze sticking out of our noses and seriously looking like true Canadian hockey players, were ready. Each player was very aware and focused on the job at hand. We scored right off the face-off to make it 16 to 7.

Hardly noticeable at first, but as we lined up for the face-off after the goal, a rumble began. It wasn’t necessarily loud but it had a deep mid-range resonance to it and was passion felt. We could feel it on our bums when sitting on the bench, and in the diaphragm in our throats. The crowd, all Canadians and of many colors and representing all three coasts, were repeatedly chanting one simple word, “We”. It felt and sounded like a pulse to us and it made each one of us a little bigger, faster and better. The Harper team acted like the classic deer in the headlights or very similar to how one looks watching TV with a remote in one’s hand.

We scored, on average, one goal every 37 seconds to tie it up. This was pretty good no matter what level of hockey, but considering various sorts of gas had been rained down on us from the rafters and from whence came clubs, spikes and rubber bullets, we were pretty proud of ourselves, an effort for the ages. Harper’s team had finally been called on a few infractions and for the final 30 seconds anyways, actually seemed to care what they were doing. No one scored and the game ended a tie.

As we headed for our dressing rooms, we noticed that police in riot gear had moved in and were amongst the crowd, forcing everyone, under the threat of being pepper sprayed and fined thousands of dollars, out of the arena. We made sure our loved ones and friends were safely leaving before anything got ugly, and headed to the dressing room to prepare for overtime.

The adage is, in overtime anything can happen. But our team had a bad feeling about this one.