Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April17: The debate that ran off the rails....

It was bound to happen. The letters to the editor section has a letter that not only jumps the rails on the lanugage of signs train, but fizzes off into a swamp.

We are told in the letter that the language of signs law is an attack on the freedom that our forefathers (but presumably not foremothers) built - and that our young men (but not women) gave their lives for. The letter also demands that a mayor who supports such a law should stay away from Remembrance Day services which commememorate those who died for freedomm of expression.

Some days, I despair of Canadian's lack of knowledge of the history of this country, and of its wars.

Canada, since 1867, has fought in some half-dozen wars - depending on what you count as a war. Our freedom of expression was not at stake in any of them. In fact, Canadian freedom of expression has suffered more from Canadian leaders than it has from any external enemy this country has encountered. The War Measures Act was not imposed on us by Germany. It was done by our elected government (elected by our forefathers since our foremothers didn't have the vote at the time.) Harper is doing more damage to freedom of expression than Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito could even imagine doing.

We fought in the Boer War because British millionaires wanted us to help them plunder South Africa. We fought in World Wars One and Two because Britain wanted us to (ever wonder why it took the US so long to get into both of those wars? Does that mean Americans were opposed to freedom of expression?)

We fought in the Russian revolution - for reasons that had nothing to do with freedom of expression. Ditto for Korea and Afghanistan. (I taught military history - if anybody cares to debate these points).

I also taught Canadian history. Our forefathers were pretty lax in demanding freeedom of expression. In fact, our foremothers did better than their mates did when they won the vote for women.)

Cool the rhetoric. This is a good example of how things can go haywire, and illustrates how anglo businessmen in Dieppe with brains should have acted more sensibly.

The editorial, "New life for an old school" is the usual, mindless stuff.
It advocates that MHS be preserved as a centre for the performing arts because we can make a lot of money out of it. Do the editorial writers know what a plan for the future is?

In a future that looks like one of continued American decline and increased cost of travel, does it make sense to invest tens of millions (at least) in a tourist draw which may not be in for good days?

And it will be a cultural icon? What culture? This is a city that doesn't think it's culture unless beer is served in plastic cups. What will the city and province do to encoourage culture other than (what Alan Cochrane, in his column) refers to as a kitchen party.

This editorial is an idea for the future that comes right out of the blue, has no reference to any plan, and no sense of what the future might be like. Planning in this city means coming up with almost any idea, then looking for a justification for it.

Most of the rest of the paper just has nothing. Stephen Harper has been in South America on a visit which has illustrated how steeply our influence (and, even more so, US influence) is going down the toilet in this important market. And what is the TandT report? A picture and story about Harper walking on the beach with his pants rolled up.

A full page is given over to speeches by the Liberal leadership contenders, neither of whom have anything of substance to say. They're almost down to the the Alward level when that worthy was blathering about how the real issue to have a government that would listen to us.

These aren't news reports. They're press release, campaign ads. What about other parties besides the conservative liberals and the liberal conservatives? What are their views? Aren't we allowed to know? Doesn't Mr. Irving want the other parties to get public attention? Boy! Talk about freedom of speech...

Meanwhile, there's little to say about this paper because so little of substance is in it. For example, as a result of pressure from corporations and Atlantic Insitute for Market Studies, we have forced on us an education system made expensive by excessive testing, made damaging to the students by all the testing, damaging to teachers and schools because of an absurdly unscientific system of ranking schools - but demanded by corporate bosses who know nothing whatever about education (but everything about arrogance). And who want to get more control over it so they can line their pockets with tax dollars.

The best public school system in the world is Finland's which has only one, standardized test - in grade eleven - and few exams of any sort. It has little in the way of national curriculum, leaving teachers free to do what they are trained to do.

Finns are probably the best educated people in the world. So New Brunswick would be - if we could get the corporate bosses and their political flunkies out of the way. But we're never seen a word about it.

More missing news? Well, they could have carried the story about the phenomenal rates of cancer, leukemia, birth defects (children with no arms or legs, divided brains, etc.) and infant mortality in Iraq as the result of American use of "sophisticated" weapons. Some, like depleted uranium, will be toxic for as long as the planet will last.

There are two items worth reading. Alec Bruce asks questions about the Titanic foofaraw. Richard Gwynne has a very sensible column about the Falklands. (Of course, to understand it, you'll have to get a real newspaper with the story of what's going on in the Falklands.)


  1. the t&t had a story about harper walking on yhe beach? that's more than i heard about the big meeting. all i heard was that the secret service went to a whorhouse, and hilary clinton drank a beer. cudo's to the t&t for a new angle!

  2. It turned out to be an historic meeting. The US, after more than a century of dominance in Latin America, got told off - along with Canada. That's a major blow to both of us. More than few Canadian mining companies are going to be feeling suicidal - and US control of that market - and its cheap labour - is in serious trouble. The US is already using special ops against some Latin American countries. They may well decide they have to step it up to open war. That is the heartland of the American Empire. And Harper has chosen our side for us.
    Uglier still is AFghanistan. We now know - and should have known long ago - the war is unwinnable. We have thrown lives away. Now, we risk losing more - simply to save face for the politicians so they can pretend something positive is happening. I suspect I will find this Nov. 11 even more distasteful than usual.