Saturday, May 25, 2013

May 25: Straight As for the columnists

Belliveau, Norbert, Brent Mazerolle and Gwynne Dyer all did themselves proud today. With the exception of the editorial itself, the editorial and op ed page would do proud to any newspaper. Gwynne Dyer has a chilling but important column on rates of rape in Africa, and in the US army. twenty-six thousand women in the American military were raped last year - and the real number is expected to be many times higher. Imagine what its like when American military are turned loose  countries like Iraq and Afghanistan.

(The editorial, as usual, reflects this city's obsession with commercial development and filling hotels, and it's lack of interest in daily living conditions of the people who inhabit it. Nor is there ever the slightest hint of  serious planning for the future.)

The sermonette on the Faith Page is good, too, making the point that that churches should be places of challenging accepted ideas, and of lively debate. The list of church events for the week shows the urgency of that sermonette. The churches are not places of challenge and debate. Take a look at that list of activities - teas, pancake dinners, lobster take-outs.... Boy, if that had been Jesus' idea of religious activity, He would have looked like Mayor Ford of Toronto.

This sermonette, by Reverend Richard Jackson, is far the best one I have seen.

The student columns of the Whatever section are all worth a read. The rest of the paper, over 90% of it, is trivial, at best. So let's talk about Liberals and Conservatives. What are they?

When I was twelve, I called myself a Liberal. It sounded good - liberal, The word suggested generous, open-minded, progressive. In fact, the word doesn't mean any of those things.

In yesterdays TandT, columnist Michael Sullivan made the same mistake. He made up a list of what he liked (free trade, small government, reduced social services, etc.) and called them conservative. In fact, those things have nothing to do with conservatism.

The streets and the news media are full of people who call themselves liberals or conservatives when almost none of them know what those words mean - and most of them have different ideas of what they mean.

But it's really simple.

Conservative - the belief that we are all of us joined togehter in society, just as, in the case of an individual whose hands of feet and head are not separate and independent, but part of a whole body. So, in a conservative view, we are all one, all joined to each other. When one is sick, we are all weakened by that sickness - just as when we break an arm all of us is affected, not just the arm.

You can find conservatism in the Christian Bible. "Love one another as I have loved you."

Conservatism, not liberalism is the concept that lies behind our social programmes - what Mr. Sullivan deprecatingly calls "the nanny state". Medicare is a form of loving one another. So is public education which tries to give equal opportunity to all.

To operate such a society requires a government structure, something to contol people so they do not stray off to do whatever they wish (it could be damaging to others.) That's why we had absolute rule by kings and aristocrats That why the Roman Catholic Church (and the Anglicans) have conservative governing structures.

It can also take  uglier forms. In Russia, people who still believe in communism are called 'conservatives'. And rightly so. In the Soviet Union, power was high centralized, and individual rights scarcely existed. That's conservative. The kingdom (dictatorship) of Saudia Arabia is conservative.

Liberal? Liberal is the opposite. It denies that we are joined together in society or that we have obligations to each other. Liberals demands freedom so that individuals can do whatever they like. It is liberals who reject big government, and, sometimes, any government at all. At their extreme, they are called 'libertarians' who don't believe in governments or taxes at all.

Perhaps the closest thing to a liberal state in this world is Libya which has no functioning government and no services at all.

So, liberal and conservative represent two extremes of how we view society. Conservative - we are all one, and joined together almost as a common body. Liberal - we are quite separate from each other with freedom to do whatever we want.

That's it. And anyone with the brain of a flea will recognize that both pure liberalism and pure conservatism are unworkable. That's why the American constitution has both conservative and liberals elements in it. That's why we have traffic cops (conservative); but they cannot give us tickets unless we break the law (liberal).

The NDP is a very concious mixture of conservative values - heavily influenced by The Bible - and liberal values - particularly  those of individual rights and individual freedoms.

The Greens are very concious of the link between people and the environment they live in. That's an extension of the conservative concept.

Liberals and Conservatives historically have no consistent philosophy. Both parties have always existed to serve various financial interests. In its origins, the philosophy of the Canadian Conservative Party was anti-free trade and loyalty to the British tie. Under Mulroney, it became pro-free trade and loyalty to the US tie.

Both parties will justify their actions by pointing to some philosophy that they claim to be their guide. But that philosophy could vanish in the flash of a cheque book.

And, as Sullivan does, each of these parties will shout its claim to be the only one with brains. And when they do that, both stray into the realm of a form of racism.


  1. On the ongoing media trial of drug cartel leader Mayor Ford of Toronto, this may eventually make the news in the Moncton Times and Transcript.

    I have been exchanging arguments with the minions of the Conservative drug cartel as follows:

    "With the latest news just released by the Globe and Mail on the ongoing Ford drug scandal, and Ford Nation's obstinate defense of the Mayor, when Mayor Ford himself can only offer half-hearted denials, the city of Toronto will soon have an international reputation to rival certain cities in Mexico, portrayed as being under the sway of the Ford drug cartel. For no longer is it simply a matter of the Mayor being accused of consorting with, partying with drug dealers and being videotaped in their presence, but that the Mayor's current administration and inner circle , who ran for political office on an anti-crime, anti-drug platform, is composed of former members of an Etobicoke drug gang, the Royal York Drifters gang. The Ford clan and friends, alleged by the Globe and Mail to have constituted the Royal York Drifters gang in the 1980s , were their own crime wave, involved in crimes ranging from drug-dealing to robbery to kidnapping to homicide involving drug-dealers, on a level altogether not that much different from the crime wave of the Millard and Smich gang currently sitting in a Hamilton jail."

    " Yet while the Ford Nation minions demand torture and the death penalty for one gang, they demand and defend the highest political office for the other, arguing they should continue to exert control over the city of Toronto and its business, including authority over the Toronto Police and its 'war on crime' . Quite an object lesson in political corruption, when leaders of an alleged drug cartel can run for political office on an anti-crime platform, dupe the electorate, win the election and hold that office."


  2. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy.