As I write this, it's late on Wednesday night. I don't know whether this will be my Sept. 29 blog. It has opinions that are hard, even brutal, and maybe insulting to some people. But I think they're true. I think I have to say them.
(I've decided that this will be my blog. I've just read the Thrusday edition. As is often the case, only Alec Bruce and Jody Dallaire are worth reading. For those with a morbid sense of humour, check out the stunningly ignorant letter by Vic Toews, our federal Public Safety Minister. The letter is signed, Vic Toews, Public Safter Minister, GREEN PARTY NB.)
I'll start with a story of a twelve year old walking through an alleyway with a friend. It was in the very poor and very tough district of Montreal that I grew up in. A strange boy was coming toward us. As he passed, I felt his fist hit the side of my head.
"Hit him," said my friend. "Hit him or he'll keep ploughing you."
Half-dazed, I turned to seem him already closing in on me. I raised a knee, hard. It didn't take him out. But he backed up, then turned and headed on his way. If you don't hit them, they keep ploughing you.
When I first moved to New Brunswick, I was struck by the courtesy and friendliness of the people. I also noticed that the men like to look tough, with arms crossed and fists under the biceps to show them off. I also noticed the people were politically passive - to a degree I had never seen before. There is almost no public discussion of political matters.
Even in China, people would discuss politics openly. (They would be very careful in what they said. But they would talk about it.) New Brunswickers don't do even that.
In the last provincial election, neither Liberals nor Conservatives had anything resembliing a platform. A local candidate told me she felt a major effort had to be made to prepare students for globalization. So I asked her what globalization meant. She didn't know.
Public meetings were few.There were really only two issues. People wanted to get rid of the Liberals. Mr. Alward said he would listen to people. (And I'm sure he does. But he only listens to certain people.)
In no Canadian province, with the possible exception of PEI, have I seen politicians so ignorant of public affairs, and so spineless as the politicians of New Brunswick. I don't believe I have ever seen a population that knew less about the polirical issues facing it. They don't know; and they don't want to know.
Newspapers in general across Canada are pretty poor stuff. (It was once my job to study all of them pretty closely.) But I have never seen, in any part of Canada, a newspaper that approaches the depths of ignorance, propaganda, dishonesty and lack of ethics that is the everyday standard for Brunswick Media.
The greatest shock came a couple of years ago as the Times and Transcript mounted a vicious campaign against the public schools. In the US, big business began moving in to privatize the schools decades ago. It was part of the same greed for profit that has given the US one of the worst medical systems in the developed wsorld. The damage of privatiziing has been enormous as shown by the UN agency which follows education all over the world. It now ranks the American education system in the toilet of the western world - and well below much of the eastern world. (Canada ranks in the top ten.).
I could see the Canadian corporate world eyeing the profits to be made by ruining our children, too. It was obvious in the "studies" put out by their propaganda machines like Atlantic Institute of Marketing Studies, and The Fraser Insistute. Both of them, as had been done in the US, put out pseudo-scientific studies which ranked schools and teachers.The tests had two purposes, to alarm the public, and to put IAMS effectively in charge of administering such tests - thus giviing AIKMS effective control of most of the school curriculum.
Then I saw the theme picked up in Brunswick media with editorials and articles about the public schools that were vicious, ignorant, and coarse. They were smearing one of the best school systems in the world so that a handful of billionaires could make more money by destroying our children's educations, just like their buddies in the US had done..
But if I raised any question about it in public, the men would just fold their arms with fists under their biceps. The women would look prim - as if I were telling dirty jokes. When I suggested my local home and school should discuss this, the president responded as though I were an arab terrorist.
In the face of this vicious attacks and the obvious greed that lay behind it, nobody - nobody at all - said a word. Where, I wondered - (actually, it was where the hell I wondered) - were the home and schools, the parent associations, the district commissions, the parents? The universities? The Deans of Education at UNB and U de Moncton? Where were the churches? Have I completely misunderstood those sections of The Bible that deal with greed and abuse? I still don't know where all those people are because to this day not one of them has said a word.
Most of all, where were the parents? These are our children. The Atlantic Institute of Market Studies already has a high degree of control over both curriculum and teaching methods. It's the same greed and the same methods that have destroyed education in the US.
These are your children. Where the hell are you? You have been ripped off by the corporate world all your lives, lied to by your poliricians, and propagandized by your newspapers. It has done enormous damage to this province and to you. Now you want to give them a head start on sucking the blood out of your children?
The experience over fracking has been much the same. This is a practice that is banned or in the pocess of suspensions for its dangers in at least two provinces, in France, in Switzerland, in Australia, in some American states - and over much of the world. The government and the Brunswick Media have been, to say the least, secretive, have allowed it to go on with no regulation at all for some time, and now with regulations still being prepared, and with no evident enforcement.
A demonstration in Moncton brought out some 600 people. That's pretty good for a public issue in Moncton, I guess. But shortly after, 20,000 went to a football game. In one edition, the Times and Transcript gave more space to that football game that the total is has gtiven over the years to the issue of fracking.
As I looked through yesterday's issue of the paper, I could only wonder why I was wasting my time on such a wretched publication. And, I admit, I got mad at the passive people of this province who accept this crap, and don't seem to give a damn what happens to them and their children.
Then, I though of those men with their arms folded, fists under biceps - and I thought of the disapproving home and school president - and I realized the problem.
They're scared. Decades of abuse, and of governments obviously no more that the tools of corporate interests have created a fear that runs down through every level of New Brunswick society.
People are so scared and humiliated, they won't even recognize it in themselves - thus the tough-look folded arms and the disapproving looks.; They're so scared they can't even let themselves see how scared they are.
I'm sorry for those people. But time is short. Democracy is pretty much a myth in this province already. The government of New Brunswick is not the one you elected. You all know that as well as I do. You are on the edge of severe dangers both physical and economic. The damage that has been inflictted on you all your lives is about to be inflicted to an even greater degree on your children.
Be scared. You have reason to be scared. But for your own sake amd the sake of your children, you have to overcome your fear. Now. Men, unfold your arms. Women, instead of frowning in disapproval of anything "different", start asking questions. You have to take control of your own province and your own lives.
If you keep acting like this, they'll just keep ploughing you.
A footnote - the current events group meets on Tuesday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. in the Moncton Library.. The opening topic is fracking - feel free to bring your onw concerns on any current events topic that interests you.