here i am out on the west coast. i will pull out my west coast rocking chair and watch people coming and going, to-ing and froing.

right now, i can’t even call it the wet coast. not yet.

so during these holidays, i’m spending a few days stepping from back time, stepping out of time. just spending some time.

vancouver is not the city i was born in. i've never lived here (as a citizen) but i've 'lived' the city, so to speak. in some ways i grew up or down here. that all depends on point of view. 

so why come this far? well why go anywhere. i kinda like the city, the diversity despite its flaws.

it’s a lovely place, more than welcoming friends and  acquaintances, smoked salmon, creativity that sparkles and special spirit and culture. particularly in the area most people i know live in - east vancouver, east van, bohemia. it has vibrancy, a uniqueness that i've not felt in the rest of the country

i'll grant that i haven't been everywhere in canada but i've  been from coast-to-coast and find here a strange mystique that no one bothers to hide or boast about or explain. it is what is. for me the chance to soak up some of the creative joue-de-vivre. do the walkabout to virtually everything you need and the roundel, great eatery, is an opportunity to recharge, rejuvenate.
 
if we can agree that canada stands at the front of the bad civic planning and remarkable urban sprawl, east van, this quartier in a city, is the opposite. you hardly need a car as many businesses in and around are footsteps away, with services coming from very locally owned shops. here you can walk where you need to go be - groceries, restaurants, coffee places, drug, clothing, baked goods store. 

in other words it's pretty self-contained and  diverse – in the local culture, the broad array of people who choose this area, in family income, mass transit, land use, ethnicity and mother tongue. kind of like canada what should strive for, particularly if we’re serious about reducing greenhouse gases. 

east van not a model place (but no one calls you a hippie, whatever that label means today, because you could like respond– right back at you slick), but a model of community that urban designers should pay attention. 
 
from Hank and I – peace out

 
 
oh thursday, what shall we do?  

a few random buffalo bloggy thoughts that hank noticed while i was being called a 'fucking leftist.’ not just an everyday leftist, a 'fucking leftist.'

you’d think that you’ve really pissed someone off but probably not. fuck is today’s gosh-darn
it.
 
thinking about being pissed off, young justin trudeau was a bit of a rude bwoy – not at all irie - when he called peter kent a piece of shit in parliament. good on him. maybe the wrong venue, but the right sentiment. all because the harper government wanted to stop opposition mps from attending the conference on the kyoto protocol, presumably, because they might oppose something. 
 
anyone who thinks that using shit in parliament is disrespectful should pay a visit during question period or even run-of-the-mill house business. (quick before the government prevents you) trudeau made his the comment too close to a microphone. his bad luck. 
 
away from the microphones, in the backbenches where the low-level monkeys wallop their desks and hurl feces (that’s shit) across the floor, the language is mighty colourful and the insults fly. and it’s a joke to them. entertainment.

or they could be asleep. the house is a good place to nap when an mp chats for 20 minutes about farmer fred  down the road winning an award for the biggest ass (that’s mule, not peter kent). or they might text one another dirty jokes. surf the net for the next flight home. 

decorum, bullshit. we should be worried about the decisions coming from parliament not a word uttered by a passionate  politician.

and speaking of trudeau. what’s with the hair on  his face? have a look.  
Picture

i don’t think there’s a word for that configuration. it’s
an anti-goatee. first, the guy has a great head of hair, makes 99% of men pray for just a little baldness so they have an excuse to let their scalp shine. now, he one-ups us with this design under his lip. 
 
but it makes me feel better about my porno-stache, a refugee from mo-vember.

today, i tripped through, i emphasize through, one of ottawa’s best-known malls to get to this little shop to do some 'kharm-erce.' i mentioned that people must not consider going to the mall going out in public, because frankly too many dress like shit. when did ratty, too-tight sweat pants become de rigeur in mall fashion? and women don't dress much better.

maybe we see the mall as a really big unfinished basement. or an extension of our houses.
 
i said this while gazing around this eccentric shop and the owner told me that canada is the third worst dressed country in the world. how do we, one of the richest countries in the world  dress as though we roll in dirt before leaving for the day?

except for les quebecois. they dress like they're going to the opera for a trip to the grocery store.
 
so i did a little research. according to msn travel, vancouver is the third worst dressed city in the world. because of yoga pants, which are way too revealing above the hips. particularly when a woman is bending over. i’ve seen too many ass-cracks, too many ‘whale-tails’ and too many pink or leopard skin underwear. and i don’t live in vancouver. 
  
which other canadian city ‘cracked’ the top 10? ottawa. not for the same reason. ottawa ranked eighth, well because it’s ottawa and nobody cares how they dress. bringing me back to my mall walk.
 
it also presents me with a real dilemma – i live in ottawa and i’m going to vancouver over the
holidays. hank thinks i should jump out of the airplane over saskatoon.

 
 
Canada is not led by the  Government of Canada anymore. Old news to some; a shock for others. 
  
The Prime Minister’s Office issued, in early March, a communique to specific departments to use the ‘Harper government’ rather than the Government of Canada.
The Toronto Star was among the first to make this public.
 
Canadians may not know or particularly care. But they should.
 
We’re in Harper country now.  The  ‘Harper government’ is officially in control. We only live in it, and pay taxes of course. 
 
The 'Harper government' is charmless and crass, but we’re stuck with it. This government is, at times, incredibly vigilant and slippery in not using Government of Canada. They haven’t axed the Government of Canada everywhere, but on important matters, you’ll be hard-pressed to find it.
 
A December 10th statement about
Attawapiskat is a fine demonstration of their linguistic
hopscotch. “Our Government”’ is used repeatedly; not a single reference to the Government of Canada. 
 
The ‘Harper government’ re-branding came to mind as I read a comment calling me a ‘leftist’ – what, that’s a bad thing? You can’t be a Canadian and leftist?
 
Damn Tommy Douglas and his leftist ideas, like universal medical care. 
 
You might ask, what’s wrong with the ‘Harper government?' He’s doing what politicians do, trumpeting their glory. 
  
Why is this any different from the 'Mulroney government' or the 'Chretien government?' For one, both of those partisan names were media creations, not the renaming of the government by the government.
 
The difference is immense and offers fundamental insight into how Harper thinks. What he thinks of the country and us. Conveniently, and like referring to Canadians as taxpayers not citizens, it also leaves those who need the most from government the farthest from  it.
 
The ‘Harper government’ rebranding is disrespectful. To all Canadians. His ego apparently comes before smart decision-making. It belittles Canada and our achievements.
 
It demonstrates the same arrogance the led to pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol. (Try finding that on the government website.) That led to the omnipresent crime bill that went through parliament with astounding speed for such sweeping legislation.
 
The ‘Harper government’ sends unsettling and disturbing messages. 
 
First, he is bigger than the country. He isn’t of the people who elected him. He is above us. (He was already above me because I’m, you know, a lefty) He’s wiser. We’re lucky to have him to guide us by the nose. 
 
He’s not wiser or very thoughtful if he believes the term “Harper government” will earn him respect or power. He’s more likely to find the opposite.  
 
No respect. No loyalty. In the end, no government.
 
Second, Harper’s ego gets in the way of good sense. He blatantly dishonours the country that has given him – I’ll say that again for the ‘rightists’’ out there – given him so much. Opportunities. The freedom of his beliefs, to speak them and become Prime Minister. He should be grateful, but that might be weak or human. 
  
Neither of which he wants. Except in those 250-dollar-per seats on Hockey Night In
Canada.
 
Third, by removing Canada, his disdain for citizens, for prior governments and, even Canadian achievements, is evident. Hasn’t every country had a leader win the Nobel Peace Prize? What about those guys who developed penicillin and gave it to the public free? How about that
woman, that writer – Roy or Atwood?
 
Does Harper believe we have done so little that we should stop referring to Canada? Are we ‘harperians?’ Or is it a foolish ego-driven decision that achieves nothing? 
  
I think Harper is actually a proud Canadian. He should have considered that pride before taking this mis-step. It reflects the opposite. Obviously, his advisors, if he listens to them, all missed the many potentially negative repercussions.
 
The ‘Harper government,’ won’t inspire Canadians. It may just lead them to make an x in a different box when the next election comes.

 
 
Today, Canadians shouldn’t feel shame; they should be angry, betrayed and saddened at the diminishment of Canada, at home and around the world. Every Canadian. Any political affiliation. Any region. Any religion, Any race. Any ability.  

Remember this is the ‘Harper  government,’ not the government of and for Canadians. I am just as happy to be distant from this pack of bullies in suits.
 
I can’t be distant though. These people represent our country, you and me. They  speak for us. They should pay some attention to the values that we share. Equality might be a good start. Or environmental responsibility.
 
They don’t even bother to pretend that average Canadians have opinions worth hearing, their pretension to wisdom is so grandiose.
 
My anger with this ‘government’ has nothing to do with political parties or, for that matter, policies. It has everything to do with actions that are, to be kind, amoral, embarrassing and simply wrong. It has to do with its arrogant, we-know-best attitude and sneaky lies. 
 
Over the past few weeks, you may have heard the sounds of floorboards and foundations cracking. Don't worry, that's only Harper re-aligning the country so when America sits, Canada is left holding the U.S. ass and grateful for the opportunity. 

Anything for a friend.

What we didn’t hear was the heated debate from Durban, South Africa - the unfortunate home to the latest international  meeting (cop 17) to reach agreement on long-term climate change policies and actions. As I began writing, the Kyoto protocol, the heart of these negogiations, was going into rigour mortis. Apparently, a last moment, on-the-floor-consensus was reached. The U.S., China and India, the heaviest polluters, are back. 

Tomorrow, who knows?
 
Is Canada in or out? Probably both. Probably neither. Canada doesn’t have any monetary, moral or good will clout anymore. That happens when you arrive at a conference and declare the issue dead before the first discussion.
 
The world saw behind Canada's good-guy veneer of peacekeepers and consensus builders. The 'Harper government' was exposed, hopefully not average Canadians, as short-term thinkers in-a-box, who value only what can be measured monetarily.

Canada ratified the accord in 2004 and was one of the first signatories six years previous. Now, we want out of this international agreement, when Harper is signing economic and border agreements in his sleep. 
  
When does Canada worm out of good faith international agreements? We’ve kept peacekeepers in places of hell like Rwanda because our commitment to the United Nations is so deep. Ahem, the Kyoto protocol is a United Nations effort. 
 
The urgency to rid our country of Kyoto’s burden is about dollars and cents. 
  
This agreement and curbing climate change are economically illogical but environmentally vital. The economy will undoubtedly be hurt. The oil patch won’t become the oil parch, but it and its many lobbyists will be hurt.
 
We have questions we need to answer. Do we need tar sands development? It’s wildly expensive, creates immense pollution and uses tremendous amounts of fresh water. The Americans obviously want it and believe they need a secure oil supply from a supine producer.
 
These absurd politics aside, meeting emission reductions targets will change our lifestyles and this change is a money-losing  proposition. This government knows the bottom line, and everything they do has one. Everything is an economic equation. 
  
Hey, wake up! It’s not like walking your garbage to the curb and someone else does the rest. 
  
If this is how Canada is going to behave, I say, let’s really do it – take a great leap backward from a fossil-fuel run rampant economy to a fossilised country. 
 
We already have fossils steering us through these fast rising waters.
 
Tomorrow – issues I meant to write about today  but…


 
 
today, i was in a monty python mood. now, that’s not unusual – hank and i like to stretch out on a sunday afternoon and watch the  cheese shop or the argument (ok only python fans will get those references but that’s life). nor is at all newsworthy.
 
however, today on my way to a spiritual massage, i found myself singing – softly – ‘always look on the bright side of life.’ a song. certainly. funny. definitely. an attitude. why not?

a philosophy. maybe that’s pushing things a bit. 

however, in the monty python world, it's become a philosophy as much as it’s funny, especially in the context of the movie, life of brian, sung just before brian (umm, a stand-in for jesus, ) was doomed to death ultimately by being crucified. and he found in that bleak moment, this tune lifted his spirits – a clue for those not in the loop – brian has the misfortune of being born on the same day as jesus, lived next to him and then is mistaken for him.

‘life’s a piece of shit, when you think of it.’ everyone sing along.

why do we think this important? i had a conversation with a long-time friend out in calgary, alberta and we got to talking about the state of the world. his profound pessimism was not only quite shocking but very surprising. negative and not how i remembered him.
 
he saw nothing, essentially, that inspired a glimmer of sunshine amid the gloom. i pestered him with various questions about his job, now being outsourced – another great euphemism for you’re out of a job – to a foreign, cheaper country, the banking system. health care. alberta politics – admittedly an odd thing. his young adult kids. occupy. the canadian, oh excuse me, the harper government.

and he could find nothing, very literally, that  he saw as a positive trend or change that the future could hold. nothing he mentioned, maybe in his dreams the world is a utopia. when he wakes up, all he sees is wrong and dystopian. 
 
i can relate. a lot of us can relate. but hope is out there. hiding in nooks and crannies. hiding in independent shops that support local or international handcrafted shoes, clothes or jewelry. people who are moving forward in small ways, perhaps, installing solar panels or a  roof garden. 

you might have to look, peer around the media, but hope and positive ideas are out there.

my friend. i didn’t change his outlook, even with hank advising me at times.

i ended the conversation with him with this short thought.

“if you have children, you have to have hope.”

 
 
sometimes you need to pause, to reflect. to look around, outside of the maelstrom, ask questions that you don’t need to answer.

but events happen that push you back toward the tumult of life. so it is that some ill-advised, a mild description, and mean-spirited comments in one of the many streams that course through my computer each day have drawn me back. the comment was aimed the many 12 step programs, and in particular people with an addiction to alcohol. alcoholics. boozers.

drunks was the term actually used.

used in a derogatory and condescending manner, though couched as a wry, sarcastic remark, it went unchallenged. no one taking part in this discussion or watching from the sidelines called the person out or made comment.

that made me wonder – about stereotypes, about words we use to describe people under our breath but not aloud, about a stepladder system of ‘isms.’ racism, sexism. classism. ableism. other words – homophobia, xenophobia – all issues or people that we need to better understand and ensure there’s greater equality in society.

when i saw this remark made and then passed over as though trivial – it certainly wasn’t the issue at hand - i was perplexed and later angry. are some ‘isms’ or people who need some help more important than others? is the movement to end racism more valued than ending addictions?

because of the nature of this group in which this comment was made and dismissed, i shouldn’t need to ask. one of the core values of this group is to create a safe, inclusive environment.

apparently, a limit exists though. people with addictions need not apply. or maybe some addictions are better than an other. heroin chic versus the filthy, piss-smelling drunk. one is not better than the other, one is not hip, both are difficult to conquer. both are stereotypes that, in a time when we are careful about stereotypes, are still, sort of, okay.

even among people, who would say they are very aware of discrimination, actively work to end it and level the ground.

unfortunately, a stereotype is a stereotype. flippant, cruel remarks hurt just as much if you’re a visible minority, are differently abled or a person with an addiction.