Monday, March 11, 2013
Hugo to Harper
Harper's less than inspirational comments about death
Submitted by Betty Krawczyk, Cumberland
Chavez is dead. Long live Hugo Chavez! May his policies that have lifted
millions of Venezuelans out of poverty prevail into the future. And let’s
take a moment to contrast Hugo Chavez’s regard for his people with that of
our own Prime Minister.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a Prime Minister who actually loved the people
of Canada, who worried about our welfare, especially the poor, the working
poor, the children of the poor, the increasing poor as well as the business
and middle class of Canada, as Chavez loved his people? But the message
Stephen Harper sent to a grieving Venezuela along with many other South
American peoples was a short, curt, unbelievably arrogant slap in the face.
Harper’s message in part read:
“At this key juncture, I hope the people of Venezuela can now build for
themselves a better, brighter future based on the principals of freedom,
democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights.”
In the first place, this message is hypocritical beyond belief. Hugo Chavez
was elected with a 54 per cent majority in a democratic election. And Chavez
used the country’s oil money to lift millions of his people out of dire
poverty. Harper is striving to push as many of us in Canada into poverty as
quickly as he can. In spite of everything the US and global finance did to
crush him, Chavez stuck to his mandate to improve the lives of his people,
from the bottom economic tier up, and to inspire all people to work to
improve themselves. Who and what does Harper inspire? The answer is so
discouraging it makes one feel sick.
Aside from rancid hypocrisy, Harper’s message carried clues to what he sees
ahead for us. Just more of the same. Harper is not urging us on to more
workers’ councils and the creation of democratic community learning centers
as Chavez did, but the opposite. Harper is taking away our rights, along
with First Nation’s rights, to be stewards of the lands and water of Canada.
He is doing all he can to crowd our overflowing jails with asinine pot
charges against young people while cutting to the bone the people programs
that help, protect, and prepare for the future. Worker’s tax money that used
to go into building a caring, modern, just nation has taken a sharp turn to
the right that simply makes the rich richer while our life sustaining
When I first came to Canada in 1966 I was thrilled to be in a county that
recognized and practiced all of the concepts that Stephen Harper, in his
message to the Venezuela people tries to pretend we Canadians still
have…freedom, democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights. But now?
For us? Not so much. But where did all these concepts and programs to
improve ordinary people’s lives go if they were still here when I immigrated
They didn’t go anywhere until 1974. That was the year then Prime Minister
Elliot Trudeau and Paul Martin made the decision to stop borrowing money
from the Bank of Canada at no interest for public works and started
borrowing from private banks at compound interest. This set the stage for
Canada’s thirty- nine year slide from a diverse, strong, just, sovereign
country into one of an internationalism so pervasive Canadians and First
Nations can no longer independently manage our own soil and waters, much
less the resources contained within. And jobs?
Our job market has been internationalized, too. Manufacturing has largely
been gutted out of Canada. Oil and the search for oil and gas will be about
all we have to depend on for big money makers, but even these are rife with
problems such as First Nations claims, environmental protests and falling
market demand. But how did we lose control over work? Over our environment?
Why did worker’s wages start going down as banks profits soared? How did we
as a people start getting poorer as private bank profits soared? Did our
deteriorating social and economic health of Canada have everything to do
with the decision of Pierre Trudeau and Paul Martin to start borrowing
needed public money from private banks? And if so, did Pierre Trudeau and
Paul Martin deliberately conspire to try to drag Canada down into the dust
bin of failed states?
Yes and no. I don’t think either Pierre Trudeau or Paul Martin had at the
time any particular desire to see Canada go down the tube. They were just
privileged men, conceited in their supposed intellectual superiority, and
dedicated first, to their own class. So they listened to other privileged
men (private bankers) who had an idea about of how to siphon huge chunks of
money out of public tax dollars.
Tax dollars, of course, pay for public programs and public debt. At the
time, the government was borrowing what money it needed from the Bank of
Canada. The Bank of Canada is our bank, the Canadian people’s bank. The
Constitution says so. And it specifically mandates that our bank is there
for us, for our government to borrow what it needs to run the government,
and at no interest.
Well, the private banks prevailed. They persuaded Trudeau and Paul Martin to
borrow the money that the government needed from them instead of from the
Bank of Canada. And the private banks not only charge interest, they charge
compound interest. This practice doubles and triples the amount of money to
be paid back from the government (us) to the private banks. And this is how
our national debt has become so large. Two thirds of the money Canadians pay
on the National Debt each year is interest on interest (compound interest).
If we just remember that the government is us, and we are different from the
politicians we elect. Some of the politicians we elect will be okay, some
will be terrible, but they are not the government. We are the government. We
have the Canadian Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the Criminal Code.
We also have Case Law (the history of Canadian judge’s decisions concerning
specific cases that went to trial) First Nations legal agreements and we
have the Bank of Canada. All of these together constitute a major component,
but of course not all, of the tools of government. Our tools.
It has only been 39 years since Trudeau and Paul Martin changed the banking
rules. These rules aren’t written in any stone that I know of. But even if
some vague documents are unearthed detailing the supposed reasons for
plunging Canadians into massive debt somewhere, they wouldn’t stand up to
the Canadian Constitution. The Bank of Canada provisions are written in
stone. The rules and rights of the people to the Bank of Canada are anchored
in the Constitution. Can we go somewhere with this?
Stephen Harper knows he isn’t loved much by Canadians. He doesn’t care,
because in spite of his cruelties (or perhaps because of them) he thinks he
is right with God and the Rapture is approaching. How did we get a crazy man
for Prime minister? Oh, for a sane, earnest man like Hugo Chavez, one who
united people, fought injustice and believed profoundly in sharing. Hugo
Chavez was a comfort to me as are many others who are on the world stage
including Vandana Shiva, Mohamed Nasheed (The Island President) Naomi Klein,
Amy Goodman (Democracy now) and the entire government of Iceland. But I will
deeply miss you, Hugo.
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