Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Do terrorists need special treatment?

Do terrorists need special treatment?
In January, 2015, Shawn Rehn murdered an RCMP constable and injured his partner.
In October, 2014, Michael Zehaff-Bibeau murdered an army corporal and injured a Parliament Hill security guard.
Also in October, 2014, Martin Couture-Rouleau murdered an army Warrant Officer and injured another soldier.
In August, 2013, Justin Bourque murdered three RCMP officers and injured two others.
In March, 2005, James Roszko murdered four RCMP officers.

Zehaff-Bibeau and Couture-Rouleau were instantly vilified as terrorists, the other murderers were not.  What’s the difference?  All were horrific crimes.  What makes two of these crimes deserve different treatment from the others?
Later this week, the Government of Canada will introduce more anti-terror legislation. I don't know what will be in the proposed legislation.  They'll talk about Michael Zehaff-Bibeau and how his actions with a stolen museum piece (a Winchester Model 94) spread terror, and how more terror was spread by Martin Couture-Rouleau, whose weapon of choice was an automobile.  I doubt there will be any mention of Justin Bourque and how he shut down all of Moncton with his arsenal of a Norinco M305 (legally purchased with a valid FAC), a Mossberg 500 shotgun and a crossbow.

we'll never get proportional representation

In the above article, Eric Grénier has crunched the numbers and estimated the results for a federal election to be held now, based on current polling.  The results of his analysis indicate that the Liberals would get the most votes, but the Conservatives would get the most seats.  Basically, the Tories are in position to turn 32% of the vote into 40% of the seats. 
Further, the Greens would get 50% more votes than the Bloc Québecois, but both would get the same number of seats (with a potential for more BQ seats than Green).  There are further disparities:  the Greens are polling roughly 4-6% consistently across Canada, but are likely to get only 2 seats (if they are lucky), which represents around ½ % of the seats in the House of Commons.
For me, this analysis presents more justification for tossing out “First past the post” (FPTP) voting in favour of some form of proportional representation. Unfortunately, that is not going to happen:  we have a system that benefits the top two parties, and without the support of at least one of those two parties no change will be possible.  The Liberals and the Conservatives are interested in getting and keeping power, and have no particular interest in sharing:  both are quite happy to play an all or nothing game.  When in opposition, you may hear a Conservative or Liberal speak about the need for PR (for example,http://www.macleans.ca/politics/ottawa/what-stephen-harper-was-writing-in-1997/ , http://stephanedion.liberal.ca/en/articles-en/p3-voting-system-canada-2/ ) but you can be confident that once they get their hands on power those earlier words will be forgotten.

So I will continue to waste my vote.  I am now back in Tory territory (North Shore of Vancouver), and come the next election, I’ll boldly cast my vote for yet another candidate who speaks for my interests, and will curse again the day after as I learn that I’ll be, yet again, represented by one of Stephen Harper’s puppets.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

What sins will compel us to disregard someone's achievements?

Bill Cosby is a significant figure in the media history.  His character in the 1960s "I Spy" was one of the first mainstream African-American characters in American entertainment in a leading role, where he was the equal to his European-American partner, played by Robert Culp.  His career in standup comedy was even more successful - I never watched "I Spy" but I enjoyed listening to his routines on LP and cassette.  His "Fat Albert" stories (and the animated Saturday morning feature) kept me entertained and also presented African-American children in a positive way.  "The Cosby Show" was one of the first mainstream presentations of a family of African-American professionals (he played a doctor, his TV wife was a successful lawyer).  He earned a PhD in education based on his work to combine entertainment with education for children.  And since he has been accused of sexual assault, he has been vilified, bloggers have been demanding justice, and CBS pretends that they have never heard of him.

Can I still enjoy listening to his standup routine, or would that make me complicit in his alleged crimes?

Woody Allen has directed more than 40 films (and he also has a great history as a standup comedian).  He has been accused of sexual abuse of children.  Can I enjoy his films and comedy routines, or would that make me complicit in his alleged crimes?

Sir John A MacDonald, as every Canadian knows, was our first prime minister.  He was one of the "Fathers of Confederation", having worked with leaders from Upper and Lower Canada, from the Maritimes and the West to create the Dominion of Canada.  He then went on to be one of the longest serving PMs in history (19 years, plus a term as leader of the opposition).  He was certainly flawed - even in his own day he was caricatured for his fondness of alcohol, and he was involved in multiple scandals, especially with his much-favoured CPR project.  To celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth, Huffington Post ran a series of articles laying out MacDonald's crimes for all to see:  a virtual campaign of genocide against First Nations (appropriating First Nations lands, starving First Nations peoples unless (and even when) they moved to reserves, implementing the residential schools to destroy First Nations culture), racist policies against immigrants from China and other parts of Asia (head tax, and denying citizenship to non-European immigrants), persecution of Métis and First Nations who rose in armed rebellion against the government (he has been made personally responsible for the execution of Louis Riel).

Can I live in and celebrate this country that MacDonald worked so hard to create?

In my opinion, people are complicated.  We can continue to celebrate peoples' achievements while holding them responsible for their mistakes.  Steve Fonyo completed Terry Fox's run - let's celebrate that, and find support for Steve rather than punish him for his troubles.

Baby's waking, gotta go!