In Canada by Chris Hadfield


Oh man, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield kicks astronaut ass. Hadfield officially catapulted himself to a place alongside Tommy Douglas, Romeo Dallaire, Neil Young and Stompin Tom Connors as one great Canadian. Ponder “In Canada” performed by Chris Hadfield and his brother Dave – you don’t have to be Canadian to realize Canada’s astronaut is cooler than any astronaut in the world.

Ponder This


Boycott Sun News Network's photo.

Every last one of us should read these words by Tommy Douglas – then ponder long and hard. While no secret I have a soft spot for this great Canadian, I want to make it clear – my admiration has nothing to do with political affiliation. Decades later, truth resonates and deserves a moment of reflection.

 

Understanding America


Every so often I play a little game called “try to understand America”. Not so much a game as my attempt to put headline American issues into perspective. The “game” demands I remain undaunted by logical dead ends. Rookie game play led to bouts of snippy remarks, indignant preaching and knee jerk tirades. Age has mellowed this opinionated Canadian – thankfully allowing objectivity be heard – even for the briefest of moments. Reaching a point where temperance dictates a “I understand why it’s like that” rather than ” are you out of your freakin’ mind”  – a game move I hope leads to higher levels of understanding.

Take Obamacare for example. I can’t possibly know all the ins and outs – I’m Canadian. My understanding is limited to these observations – Hospitals and insurance is “for profit” in America – “big medicine” likes things just the way they are. Big medicine, big insurance, big pharmaceutical companies have big money at stake. The Koch brothers backed Americans for Prosperity has spent upwards of 30 million dollars on anti Obamacare ads. In July of last year Kantar Media reported ad campaigns for and against were on track to reach a billion dollars by 2015. No surprise is lop-sided distribution at five to one spending by “anti” medicare interests.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/wp/2014/04/04/billions-spent-on-attacking-obamacare/

America has a deep seated fear of Communism – any idea deemed remotely socialist sends propaganda mills into overdrive. Ad campaigns worthy of cold war hysteria warn of “socialized” government run health care. Perish the thought – a nation where each and every citizen received equal treatment! The horror unleashed if medical care was available to all, regardless of income – followed by laughable comparison to the Veteran’s Administration – Americans asked if they wanted to be treated like the soldiers fighting for their country. Holy crap.

Media stories warn of social medicine catastrophes in Canada and the UK. Dire tales of government bureaucrats dictating when and where citizens receive treatment, long waiting times for scare or limited treatment – absolute hogwash. Sure, we might have to wait a while for non life threatening surgery. That said, cancer treatments, chemotherapy, heart specialist – no problem. Canadians can even register on line to receive results from blood or urine lab tests  at the same time as your doctor. Socialized medicine isn’t perfect, nor is it a detriment to anyone other than profit driven egg heads – there’s a reason why busloads of Americans cross the border to fill prescriptions – costs are controlled.

Attempting to understand health care in America is depressing – money spent on advertising, lobbying and mud slinging alone could finance a small nation. Fear mongering plays directly to the heart of American psyche – I get it. I get it and understand “profit” is king. The Obama administration never stood a chance, the American political structure binds the hands of change as fear, spin doctoring and misinformation muddy the waters.

This Canadian understands. This Canadian is proud to list Tommy Douglas – the founder of Canadian social medicine as one of her heroes. Douglas, a Baptist minister who left the church over their troubling obsession with “life after death”, in favor of politics – a place where he could help people before death.

https://notestoponder.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/tommy-douglas/

economicpopulist.org

 

ProFunc


Warm, fuzzy, proud to be Canadian citizens likely haven’t heard the term “ProFunc”.  Prominent Functionaries of the Communist Party was a top secret program of the Canadian government and RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) to identify, monitor and plan for internment of Communists, Communist sympathizers and their families. In 1950, RCMP Commissioner Stuart Taylor Wood spear headed ProFunc, complete with arrest document C-215; a form filled out with information on 16,000 “Communists” and an estimated 50,000 “sympathizers”. These citizens were often under surveillance – form C-215 included details far beyond name and last known address. Details like “possible escape routes from residence” were required on each and every arrest document. Regularly updated and kept on file in RCMP headquarters across the country – citizens were oblivious to the consequences of a ProFunc crack-down.

Great care was taken; not only to maintain secrecy, but to practice for that day when the hammer fell. Any unsuspecting citizen with the unfortunate luck of a C-215 on file, faced a possibility of arrest and detention without formal charges,  separation from family members, solitary confinement, strict rations of food, and standing orders to shoot if they tried to escape. This was Canada, from 1950 until 1983 – a matter taken most seriously by bureaucrats on a secret mission, unencumbered by matters of human rights or legality – I doubt they grasped the irony of their actions.

On Oct. 16, 1970 Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau put Canada under Marshall Law by evoking the War Measures Act – a response to the kidnapping of British trade commissioner James Cross and Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte by the FLQ (A radical Quebec separatist group). In a recent interview by CBC, retired Lt. Julien Giguere who headed the Montreal anti-terrorism unit at the time of the October Crisis, admitted they only had 60 or so names on their list of FLQ members or sympathisers; given the severity of Trudeau ordering marshall law – they thought it best to pad the suspect list. Over 500 arrests were made; most with absolutely no affiliation, widely assumed to have been taken from the established ProFunc lists

Canada’s Solicitor General, Robert Kaplan put an end to ProFunc in 1983. It wasn’t until January of 2000, when Canadian Press reporter Dean Beeby broke the story of ProFunc’s existence, that those listed finally understood why they always felt  they were being followed. Profunc cared little for details such as duly elected representatives or status – Tommy Douglas, leader of Canada’s New Democrat Party, had a fat C-215 file – the slightest hint of “civil unrest” could have put the father of Canadian social medicine behind bars.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/secret-cold-war-plan-included-mass-detentions-1.962421

Understanding Cold War hysteria isn’t difficult – grasping the scope of “big brother” in terms of modern technology, is a sobering thought. Pondering the reality of ProFunc, a nasty piece of business conducted within the back rooms of my nice little country, serves as a wake up call. If any government decides the “end justifies the means”, we are powerless – human rights, code of law, due process – chuck them out the window. Holy crap indeed.

http://listverse.com/2013/03/20/10-ridiculous-cold-war-government-projects/

Justin Trudeau


Far from being a list maker, stuff rattles about  my head – coming to the surface for no reason I can discern. Such was the case as I vacuumed the living room tonight and this ponder drifted to the surface. More accurately, my thoughts progressed from mild annoyance at the Republican vendetta against Obama, to a few minutes hard thinking on how “the people” could take back our political systems, and finally – Canadians I admire. Go figure; it doesn’t have to be a logical progression to get me fired up. By the time the room was clean – I had a serious ponder on the tip of my tongue.

Off the top of my head, three men came to mind. Romeo Dallaire, Tommy Douglas, and John Ware. Far from being “listed” because of political, religious or moral grounds – these men stood out among many, as people who genuinely cared. People who lived by a code of ethics, sense of national pride or duty and acted not out of self interest but a far greater purpose. People who put others before themselves, people who stood for something.

https://notestoponder.wordpress.com/2013/06/26/romeo-who/

https://notestoponder.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/tommy-douglas/

https://notestoponder.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/ponder-john-ware/

I can’t shake the feeling that our world needs a few more people willing to stand for something; people who can’t be “bought”, swayed or manipulated. We need people willing to go out on a limb – people tenacious enough to bring about change. I’d just about given up on the concept of a Canadian politician possessing these qualities – then I heard Justin Trudeau’s speech after being elected as leader of the Liberal party earlier this year. I can honestly say – I haven’t felt excitement like this in decades – maybe never. Justin Trudeau is a breath of fresh air; a man who just might be able to clear the dust out of Canadian politics. Trudeau, despite his political father’s legacy – doesn’t reside in the “old boy’s” club. He loves Canada, believes in restoring all of what makes Canada a special nation and doesn’t give a rat’s ass what stuffy Conservatives think. I suspect that someday, somewhere, some Canadian will write about what a “great Canadian” Justin Trudeau is.

An excerpt from his speech after winning the Liberal leadership. Following – a link to the entire speech.

“We are fed up with leaders who pit Canadians against Canadians. West against East, rich against poor, Quebec against the rest of the country, urban against rural.

Canadians are looking to us, my friends. They are giving us a chance, hopeful that the party of Wilfrid Laurier can rediscover its sunny ways.

Hopeful that positive politics has a fighting chance against the steady barrage of negativity that you and I both know is coming soon to TV screens across Canada. The phone messages, our volunteers tell us, have already started.

To adapt a sentiment from the great American President Franklin D. Roosevelt: never before in this country have the forces of negativity, cynicism and fear been so united in their hostility toward one candidate.

The Conservative Party will now do what it does. It will try to spread fear. It will sow cynicism. It will attempt to convince Canadians that we should be satisfied with what we have now.

For at the heart of their unambitious agenda is the idea that “better” is just not possible.

That to hope for something more from our politics and our leaders, more humanity, more transparency, more compassion, is naive and inevitably, will lead to disappointment.

And they will promote that divisive and destructive idea with passionate intensity. They will do so for a simple reason…
They are afraid. But… And I want to make this perfectly clear… My fellow Canadians, it is not my leadership that Mr. Harper and his party fear.

It’s yours.

There is nothing that these Conservatives fear more than an engaged and informed Canadian citizen.

My friends, if I have learned one thing in this life, it’s that our country is blessed with countless numbers of activist citizens, from all walks of life, and of all political views. They have come out by the thousands over the course of this campaign.

They’ve gathered by the hundreds in places like Ponoka Alberta and Oliver BC, Prince Albert Saskatchewan and Île-des-Chênes Manitoba. Canadians who thought they were sending community leaders to be their voice in Ottawa, but instead got only Mr. Harper’s voice back in their communities.

We’ve seen their hopeful faces in crowds of Canadians gathered in Windsor and Whitby, Mississauga and Markham. Middle class Canadians who are putting much into the economy and getting too little in return.

We’ve seen hard-working Atlantic Canadians from Edmunston to Halifax, from Summerside to St John’s, who have decided that this is a government that does not share their values.

To my friends in Labrador, I look forward to seeing you very soon.

We’ve met young Aboriginal leaders from all across this country, from Tk’emlups to Whapmagoostui, who are simply tired of being forced to the margins of this country. With the courage to walk 1600 kilometres through a Canadian winter to make the point that they will be Idle no More.

Francophones who live in Shediac, Sudbury, St Boniface and all across this country who want their children to live and thrive in French, your determination inspires me, it must inspire the entire country.

Quebecers, from Gatineau to Gaspé, who want to re-engage with this country. With their country. Who have no time for the divisive issues of their parents’ past, but want to work with Canadians who share their values to build a better country for all our kids.

I want to take a moment to speak directly to my fellow Quebecers. Your engagement and your support in recent months has been deeply moving. I have learned so much from our conversations and our meetings I take nothing for granted. I understand that trust can only be earned. And my plan is to earn yours.

I feel confident about the future. I want to share with you why

Quebecers have always been builders. From Champlain and Laurier to today, they have actively participated in shaping our country, together with so many other Canadians. Our work is not complete. We face enormous challenges

Helping the middle-class make ends meet. Reconciling economic growth and environmental stewardship. Playing a positive and meaningful role in the world.

To rise above these challenges we must demonstrate our audacity and ambition, my friends.

Audacity and ambition, always.

Lets be honest. We will not convince everyone. There will always be skeptics. People who say that our country is too big and too full of differences to be effectively managed, or for everyone to be represented. They are wrong my friends.

I am not claiming that it will always be easy. That there will not be any obstacles along the way. That we will not have to make some compromises.

Canada is a grand, yet unfinished project. And it is up to us, together with all Canadians, to build the country that we want.

The time has come for us to write a new chapter in the history of our country.

Let’s leave to others the old quarrels and old debates that lead nowhere. Let’s leave to others the ultra-partisan rhetoric and the old ways of doing politics. Let’s leave the personal attacks to them.

Quebecers, let us be, together, once again, builders of Canada.

So that our country can match the height of the dreams and ambitions that are shared across this country. So that we can leave our children a better world than the one that we inherited from our parents.

My friends, the Liberal Party will regain the confidence of Canadians when it proves that it is here to serve them. This is the task at hand. This is what will guide me as Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

To the new generation of Canadians and to all the young people who are not engaged by politics, I have a very simple message for you.

Your country needs you

It needs your energy and your passion

It needs your idealism and your ideas

The movement we are have been building over the past 6 months, it is yours. It belongs to you.

It is the movement with which we will change politics.

It is the movement that will allow us to reform our political institutions, to make reconciling the environment and our economy a real priority, and to play a positive and constructive role in the world.

My fellow Liberals, Canadians are looking to us. This campaign has been their campaign, more than just ours.

They want something better. They refuse to believe that better is not possible. They see the country their parents and grandparents worked so hard to build, and want to hand an even better country to their children.

Canadians share deep values that cannot be shaken, no matter how hard the Conservative Party may try. Optimism. Openness. Compassion. Service to community.

Generosity of spirit.

We want to believe that change can happen. We want leadership that will shape our best instincts into an even better country.

But Canadians will not suffer fools gladly. Canadians turned away from us because we turned away from them. Because Liberals became more focused on fighting with each other, than fighting for Canadians.

Well, I don’t care if you thought my father was a great or arrogant. It doesn’t matter to me if you were a Chretien-Liberal, a Turner-Liberal, a Martin-Liberal or any other kind of Liberal. The era of hyphenated Liberals ends right here, tonight”

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/04/14/justin-trudeau-speech-full-liberal-win_n_3082219.html

Ted Cruz – Please Stay Away From Canada


Our world is a weird and wonderful place – I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.

Ted Cruz is a Texas Republican elected to the U.S. senate; he’s also holding dual Canadian/American citizenship. Born 1970 in Calgary, Alberta to a Cuban father and American mother – he left Canada at age four, America has been his home ever since. He has served as the Texas Solicitor General, Director of Policy at the Federal Trade Commission, Associate Deputy Attorney General for the federal Dept. of Justice, Domestic Policy Advisor to George W. Bush in the 2000 Bush/Cheney campaign, taught U.S. Supreme Court litigation as a Law Professor at the University of Texas, and is endorsed by the Tea Party and Republican Liberty Caucus.

His father – Rafael Cruz – left Cuba as a teenager, finding his way to Texas where he attended school. Prior to leaving Cuba he supported Fidel Castro in the revolution aimed at dictator Fulgencio Batista.  During his run for the senate,Ted Cruz made a point of publicly explaining –  his father had no idea Castro was a Communist. Today, Pastor Rafael  Cruz seems to “know a socialist” when he sees one. Speaking recently at the Family Leadership Conference in Iowa, Rafael Cruz likened Obama to Castro, telling the evangelical conservative crowd that Obama policies mirrored those of Castro. His statements backed by his assertion – life in Cuba allowed him to recognize socialism when he saw it. He claimed policy changes such as same sex marriage were part of a socialist agenda.

“Socialism requires that government becomes your God,” he said. “That’s why they have to destroy the concept of God. They have to destroy all loyalties except loyalty to the government. That’s what’s behind homosexual marriage. It’s really more about the destruction of the traditional family than about exalting homosexuality.” – Rafael Cruz

Ted Cruz opposed banning high capacity gun cartridges with more than ten bullets; likewise any further restrictions on background checks or meddling with the “right to bear arms”. Obviously against gay rights, and voted “NO” to reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. Cruz believes insurance companies should deny women coverage for birth control and wants to ban any state funding of abortions. Cruz is fighting tooth and nail to halt any attempts by the Obama administration to introduce universal health care.

The debate over his partial Canadian citizenship is nothing short of lunacy. Round the clock coverage on American news stations only reinforces my belief that America has lost its way. Quibbling over this Tea Party poster boy’s eligibility to run for president, rather than stopping to ask themselves how they could live with his nonsense speaks volumes for an America headed towards a train wreck.

Once upon a time a great Canadian named Tommy Douglas had an idea. A Baptist preacher who believed in “social religion” – taking care of people in life rather than dwelling on the afterlife – entered politics. Douglas is responsible for universal health care in Canada – a country where most people don’t sleep with a gun under their pillows. A place where gay marriage is old news, and religion has no business in politics.

Please America; believe me when I say Ted Cruz is not a Canadian. He belongs to you now – good luck with that.

Romeo Who?


I’ve written posts about Canadians I admire; Tommy Douglas, Neil Young, even Stompin Tom Connors. It’s much easier to write about those we admire than someone we consider a hero. Admiration is subjective, open to opinion, unfettered by titles or designation. Once admiration is surpassed by “hero” there is some explaining to do; with hero comes responsibility.

Unfazed, I’ll ponder on – Romeo Dallaire is a Canadian hero. Romeo who?

General Romeo Dallaire headed the United Nations peacekeeping efforts in Rwanda from 1993 – 94. His meagre peacekeeping force of 3000 soldiers where forbidden under terms of the UN peacekeeping mandate to take up arms, or be anything other than a presence. Desperate for help, Dallaire begged the UN to send 2000 more soldiers. Instead the UN cut his force to 500 soldiers following the murder of 10 Belgian peacekeepers assigned to protect the president.In the days that followed Dallaire’s forces witnessed the extermination of 800,000 Rwandan men, women, and children in the most horrific genocide in modern history.

Dallaire wrote of the horror he witnessed in a 2004 book called Shake Hands With the Devil. I’ve tried to read it two or three times; I have to put it down – I find myself weeping uncontrollably, his story too much to take. Despite odds stacked against him, Dallaire managed to save thousands of Rwandans; he will go to his grave despairing over those he couldn’t help.

“I had one person come in to my headquarters during the genocide asking statistics on how many people were killed last week and how many yesterday and how many do you expect to be killed today and how many weeks of this killing you think is going to go on. And my staff officers brought him to me and I said, “Why these statistics?”

He said, “Oh, you know my country is assessing whether it will come in and the government believes that the people, the public opinion, could handle for every soldier killed or injured an equivalent of 85,000 dead Rwandans.”

Think about that response for a moment – collateral damage deemed acceptable at 85,000 Rwandans for every UN soldier.

Romeo Dallaire was a soldier; a man of conscience who followed orders despite the toll it would take on himself and his men.

“The impact of the trauma of Rwanda had physically affected my brain and had put me in a state where there was no capability left of any desire for life, any desire to even consider life. I was even debating whether I should exist as I held on my shoulders, and still today, the belief that as commander of the mission in Rwanda I had failed the Rwandans. I had failed in my duty as the UN mission commander to assist the Rwandans to be able to move to a peaceful application of democracy in a rather short period of time.

Dallaire suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and attempted suicide in 2004. That same year he testified at an international human rights tribunal against Rwandan Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, who was convicted of genocide. Has worked as an advisor to the Canadian government on War Affected Children, and prohibiting small arms distribution. In 2005 he was appointed to the Senate. 2006 saw Concordia University name him a Senior Fellow at the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies. An advocate for soldiers mental health issues, Dallaire is open and outspoken about PTSS. Dallaire researches and lectures on conflict resolution and child soldiers.

“Are all humans human or some more human than others?” – Romeo Dallaire

Romeo Dallaire is a Canadian hero. A man few have even heard of who personifies decency and strength. Nick Noltes portrayal of Dallaire in the movie Hotel Rwanda barely scratches the surface of Dallaire’s bungled Rwandan nightmare. Dallaire and his 500 UN soldiers couldn’t have prevented the genocide -we’ll never know another outcome if the UN had responded to his pleas, or the world had bothered to notice.Romeo Dallaire is a hero because he never gave up, overcame his demons, and strives to make a difference in this mixed up world.