Dear Canada, I challenge you.
The Conservative election fraud scandal is the topic du jour, and people are starting to make themselves heard. 31,000 complaints to Elections Canada. Oh, and in Vancouver, literally hundreds of people took to the streets last weekend.
So by Canadian standards, this election fraud protest isn’t a big one.
But Canadian standards, honestly, are pathetic. I don’t know if we’re lazy, uninformed, uneducated, apathetic, unsympathetic, or what, but if you want to make the government listen, you’re going to need more than a few hundred people.
Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions had protests of hundreds of thousands of people demanding new governments. Rome’s Iraq war protest drew 3 million people. Canada, to its credit, actually had people show up for some of its own, but in comparison, Chile had protests just as large just to reform their education system. Not for people being killed, or fear for safety, or unjust government (though that is not unrelated), but just so middle- and lower-class people get fair access to education.
So rise up, Canada, show that election integrity needs to be protected, and that we won’t settle for anything less than the democratic best. The Conservative government has done a few protest-worthy acts since it was granted a majority; we have to actually let them know that we won’t stand for it.
This goes for other issues as well. Canadians need to show they care*, and in large enough numbers to make a difference. 300 is nothing. Thirty thousand is something.
*Care was the first word that came to mind, and shows me that either my English is poor, or that it was the Canadian in me using a friendly- and nurturing-sounding word. “Care about it” should be replaced with “Bloody well fucking demand it, because we wouldn’t want to live in a Canada without it”
That’s more like it.
This post inspired by me travelling, and trying to take photographs without radio towers or utility wires ruining the shot.
In Toronto, the view of the provincial parliament building, Queen’s Park, from the south on University Avenue, is meant to be protected. Sadly, a proposal to build condominiums to the north was approved.
Toronto already suffers from a lack of great buildings, and subpar aesthetic appeal. We’ve been tearing down historic buildings, rather than preserve them, to make room for condos and office buildings, which could be integrated into those older buildings. This was like the nail in the coffin. We really do not care enough about the little history we have.
The best example of preservation I know of is in Paris, where the need for office development wasn’t ignored, but placed outside the historic city centre. Wikipedia tells me that the same is true for Canary Wharf in London. I also like the name, which sounds like they’ve defended their culture and history without sacrificing commercial growth.
Ugh, it was even worse to read that part of the reason the Ontario Liberals did nothing was because of Rob Ford’s then popularity and their own upcoming election. Can’t people take the politics out of government now and then?
I have a suspicion that the CRTC’s timing on certain issues is following at least one political agenda…
One issue, the one that has received significant media attention, is about usage-based billing*. Bell essentially wanted to take cell phone pricing and penalties and apply it to their DSL services. What a nasty, underhanded way of treating your customers. A new company comes along and offers a good deal that threatens your customer base, and rather than offering competitive prices or services, Bell decides that it’ll make up for lost revenue by increasing their prices. Oh, and they want to penalize the start-up company.
The CRTC’s role in this was to propose to allow this new pricing scheme in law.
Thankfully, our docile little nation voiced enough outrage over this issue to get the government to notice us. They told the CRTC, in no uncertain terms, to go to hell**.
Great, and the day is saved! Oh, but there was another CRTC issue…
Yeah, the one about legalizing deliberately misleading news.
The law currently states that it’s illegal to broadcast/publish “any false or misleading news.”
The proposed change (slated to take effect September 2011) is that it would be illegal to broadcast/publish “any news that the licensee knows is false or misleading and that endangers or is likely to endanger the lives, health or safety of the public.”
So if someone wanted to contest a certain news piece in court, the onus would be on the prosecution to prove that the “news” endangers or is likely to endanger lives, health, or safety. If that was not proven, there would be no case. This would make it excruciatingly difficult to contest any news article, even if it was obviously false or misleading.
Such is the hope of Sun TV, which is launching its news network, nicknamed “Fox News North”, after the demonstratedly biased and misleading news network.
Unfortunately, the uproar over usage-based billing was so great, that everyone forgot about the “fair and balanced” news law. From what I can tell, the UBB announcement came in October 2010, and the news law in January 2011, when most of the objection to UBB flared up.
Who wins here? The right-wing media, when they take advantage of the ruling that seems tailored to their purposes. Consequently, the political conservatives, whose ideologies would be promoted in the media. Also note that the government tried a little to look like the “heroes” for saving the public from UBB, so that’s another reason to suspect the timing – there will likely be an election within a year, and possibly soon.
I’m scared for this country.
* Two parts: a) if an Internet user exceeds their ‘cap’ – say, 25GB/month – they pay huge penalties; b) Internet companies that use Bell’s DSL lines (such as those which offer unlimited service) must also pay for extra usage
** Tony Clement said, “Reverse this decision or we’ll flex government muscle to do it anyway”
Other than the people renting their downtown condos at lucrative prices (that work out to $50/HOUR and up), I don’t know of anyone who’s happy about the G20 being hosted in Toronto. The inconvenience of the security, plus the social outrage at the nearly $1B cost of it all (the media have reminded us that the economy is still struggling its way up) – it’s just fuel to the fire of protest.
But I think given the circumstances, spending truckloads of money on security is money well spent. As bad as it is, I’m sure everyone would agree that the absolute worst thing that could happen would be a serious security breach. And even one problem would be embarrassing for Canada. (side note: I’m very curious as to what that would mean for our various levels of government, and even how the public would react, etc)
No, spending $1 billion is fine, given the circumstances.
But the circumstances should be different. For one, it’s all nice and well that they chose Toronto to host the G20, but they could have been a lot smarter than choosing the downtown core. I won’t be the first to suggest here that Exhibition Place would have been a lot easier to fence off, not to mention at significantly less disruption (fewer major streets closed) and less cost (fewer checkpoints).
And weren’t they just going to host both summits in Huntsville anyway?
And are the world leaders really going to go out and enjoy the city? No, they’ll be shepherded from hotels to meetings and barely see the light of day.
So because of the government’s tremendous lack of foresight that led them to choose the convention centre, spending $1 billion on security is (sadly) a good move. Now if only two wrongs made a right…