Why NDP?

  1. Because Harper’s neo-liberal policies have driven us to the edge of a social, ecological and financial abyss. And when the damn thing is to your right, you pull left as hard as you can. The New Democratic Party is Canada’s modern socialist alternative and the only party equipped to undo the damage of the Harper Revolution. How hard is that to understand?
  2. Because the Liberals have flubbed the last 3 elections in grand and ridiculous style and give no indication of having abandoned their worship of a 1970s political zeitgeist. They have proven themselves to be an ineffective, incompetent and spent force in Canadian politics. Goodbye, Columbus …
  3. BECAUSE JUSTIN GOT NO GAME. Weeks before the most important election in Canadian history, he is being eaten alive by attack ads and offering nothing more compelling than “Harper hates burqas” and “here’s an economic plan”. He’s PIERRE ELLIOT TRUDEAU’S son, for God sake! He should be grabbing the country by the balls and making it listen! But he isn’t. How well do you imagine he would fare in negotiations against a guy like Putin?
  4. Because the NDP swept Quebec and Alberta and we have an army of a quarter of a million people natonwide knocking on doors, gaining Canadians’ confidence and trust the old fashioned way: by talking face to face. This is an election that will be won by word of mouth and heart to heart. It’s time to expand the engagement of responsible, working-class Canadians – people with a real stake in our country’s future. It’s time to undo the fiscal and environmental excesses of Harper’s Canada. It’s time to re-examine our treaty process and commit to serious, meaningful reconciliation with our First Nations people. It is time to take our country back and distance ourselves from the militarism and monopolism of Catastrophe Capitalism and join with the more progressive nations of the non-aligned and anti-austerity movements.

I am an old school New Democrat. I joined this party back in 1982 when the great Ed Broadbent led us. The vision then, as now, is a fair, secure and stable Canada founded on humanitarian, ecological and social justice principles. We’ve had enough of the tedious back and forth between Grits and Tories, chasing an unattainable, moving target of free market mayhem while our environment, our people and our democracy suffer. Time for a third way. Time for a real socialist revolution in Canada.

Stand with us. Stand for Canada. Vote NDP.

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Harper 3.0

It occurred to me during a discussion on a friend’s Facebook wall that I have some perspective to offer on the Harper Revolution in light of what I experienced living in the States. Here’s a view of what’s probably in store if we get Harper 3.0.

You can count on healthcare becoming privatized. Completely. No more free doctor, hospital visits and low-cost/insurance matched surgeries.  You’ll struggle to pay your biggest monthly bill – health insurance (those of you who can afford it, which will be the minority of Canadians) because if not, a catastrophic illness or chronic medical condition will lead to automatic bankruptcy. (“Economically unsustainable!” you cry. Until you consider how the social financial loss will be off-set by property and asset seizures by the private sector. Because that’s how these guys roll. Repossessed houses are big business in the States!)

E.I. benefits will be slashed. Max time on E.I. will drop to 6 months at a stretch, and you’ll get a total of maybe 5 such periods. For life. That’s right. In an entire working career, you will be entitled to 2.5 years on unemployment, tops. (Don’t believe me? It’s what happened in the States under Clinton. Clinton. Think about that for a second.)

‘Right-to-work’ legislation will likely be enacted. This means employers will be allowed to hire and fire at will, without cause and without due process. This will be implemented along with foreign worker programs to ensure Canadians are replaceable with low cost alternatives for a fraction of the wages. (This is how the economies of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona function right now.)

You can also count on privatized prisons. In the Neo-Con world, prison labor is fair game as a revenue generator. For-profit prisons are big business in the States. Think there’s nothing wrong with prisoners’ labor being sold for profit? Hey, you’re in good company because neither did the Nazis. Privatized law enforcement is also on the table … and has already been implemented in some jurisdictions here in Canada. Anything to keep that virtuous circle of men, money and material flowing between the military, law enforcement and private security.

It’s a good bet all this will happen if Harper gets back in because it’s the same program being enacted in all the major western democracies right now. It’s called Globalization.

Canada has a choice. Join the neo-con revolution or become more like Denmark, Norway and other progressive countries that prioritize health and human services over militarism and economic exploitation. It’s our choice. Up to us. But if Harper gets in one more time, his revolution will be complete and there’ll be no going back. This is the most important election in Canadian history.

Vote.

G20 solidarity protest, Clark Drive, Vancouver. July 4, 2010. (Stephen Hui)

Sober-dialing Elvis

My participating in this sci-fi love-fest kicked off by Alyx Dellamonica is utterly laughable. First of all, because I’m an asshole. But secondly because I barely inhabit the sci-fi community. I visit it now and then but, as usually happens when I visit gated communities, they call the cops on me. Still, I attend its outskirts. Live in the pumphouse. Mow the lawns. Remember Bill Murray’s character from Caddyshack, the slightly deranged maintenance man who became obsessed with killing the gopher? Well, that’s how I see myself.

You heard me. I’m the Carl Spackler of science fiction.

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But fuck it, even Spackler got a chance to pipe up every now and then. So in that spirit, I wish to recognize …

NICK MAMATAS for the way he hides his passionate insistence upon literary quality and basic human decency inside a cynical, dismissive shell. You got us all fooled, pal.

MARGUERITE REED for her passion, her righteous anger, her warrior spirit, her gifts and above all, ARCHANGEL. You have bigger balls than my dad.

DAVID T. WILBANKS for welcoming me into the haunted house, where we both came for the dark, and stayed for the metal. METAL4LIFE.  \m/

AEION SOLAR for relentlessly supporting, cheerleading and encouraging our work as a patron, reader and fan extraordinaire. Sir, you are a great gift to the science fiction community!

CAITLIN REBEKAH KIERNAN for being, quite simply, the first and best among us.

ERIC DEL CARLO for staying hungry.

SEAN SMITH for reasons too numerous to mention, and to whom I owe about a thousand drinks. Meet you in the heart of these Badlands.

WILLIAM VITKA for his never-ending guerilla war against sanity and common sense. SEE YOU ON THE FRONT LINES, COMRADE!

SILVIA MORENO-GARCIA for guarding the well, and giving water to others. (“Look for me Maria, and I’ll show you what I’ve made / It’s a picture for Our Lady of the Well …”)

TEIGHLOR DARR for being the best kept secret in Western literature.

JENN BRISSETT for ELYSIUM. And that damn elk.

JEREMIAH ISRAEL for a thousand glorious acts of intellectual vandalism.

GRAEME DUNLOP for always demanding our best, then helping our work glow in the hard night of cyberspace.

JACK SKILLINGSTEAD for always writing the truth. Beautifully.

CARRIE VAUGHAN for making the NEW YORK TIMES best-seller’s list while remaining steadfastly human, accessible and charming. You are both an inspiration and an encouragement.

CAT RAMBO for sharing bylines, generally being a pal and enduring bullshit above and beyond the call …

GREGORY NORRIS for writing at a white hot heat. (Once this man is done with his career, I swear you’ll be able to build a frigging city out of all the books he’s published …)

PETER WATTS for his unique ability to stay classy whilst confrontational.

and

SAMUEL R. DELANY for that unforgettable night in Bellona ….

Awright! Enough nicey-nice. Back to work, you lot!

Coverage

Just received rejection notices on two pieces of short fiction. While I’m pleased with both stories, I realize the markets were not a fit and so I’m setting the manuscripts aside for later consideration. I have been asked why I continue writing and submitting short stories when I have a multi-book contract with a publisher. Well, one thing I like about writing is how every author, no matter how famous, undergoes some variation of the submission cycle and copes with periodic rejection. It keeps us all humble and serves as a reminder to me of the importance of continuing to develop my craft. Periodicals and publishers may come and go, but the writer remains. It’s up to each one of us to maintain a certain level of relevance and visibility.

I often find writers blogging or Facebooking about current events, inserting their bon mot. This is well and good, and probably a smart move as regards maintaining career visibility and remaining relevant, but I’m not built that way. I should probably blog more, but I’m reluctant to post unless I have something substantive to say. I tend to admire writers like Salinger and Trevanian, recluses who spoke to the public only through their work. Both operated in the typewriter age – one to which I would gladly return. The pace of correspondence on social media can be exhausting, and drains time and energy from a writer. This is something for which I am developing adaptive strategies.

It occurs to me that we live in an age of manufactured culture, of celebrity for its own sake. There is something very hollow about an artistic environment in which someone can become famous by association, wherein big film studios prefer funding high-concept remakes of known quantities and where “hit” albums are manufactured by committee. I’m often hard-pressed to find substance among this glut of American Idol music releases, big-budget superhero movies and eye-catching paperbacks churned out as part of the wholesale entertainment machine. Yes, fame and success are wonderful things, but art that achieves resonance from being rooted in personal experience is far preferable to me than something dredged from the mass media slush. So while I wish the Chef Ramseys and Justin Trudeaus and Ronda Rouseys of the world luck with their latest ghost-written tomes, I’ll happily file away my rejection e-mails and get back to work trying to write something that will hit people where they live. Because that’s my job. Not being famous.

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Gavin’s War

GAVIN’S WAR has been green-lighted to become part of Steve Konkoly’s Perseid Collapse Kindleworlds universe. I am very excited to join Steve, Bobby Akart, Sean T. Smith and the other writers who have contributed to Steve’s ambitious, collaborative multi-volume post-apocalyptic project. I look forward to sharing my work with new readers and introducing some of mine to Steve’s world. Look for a release some time this autumn.

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He was an old man who lived by himself on an island in the channel, working as a game-keeper. After the Event, when the Foundation – along with everything else – was destroyed, he just stayed on, his life more or less unchanged. Lu and Steve, a refugee couple expecting their first child, have learned that a Chinese naval force is prowling the strait, preparing to invade. Gavin knows an armada’s passage will jeopardize the ecosystem and leave his beloved wild creatures vulnerable. Reluctantly, he must set aside his hermit’s ways and join Steve and Lu on their journey from island to island to spread the news and convince the paranoid, fractious communities of Canadian survivalists to unite and make a stand.

15 & 51

I’ve been thinking a lot about the numbers 15 and 51 lately. They’re important numbers in Canada these days. 15 is the number of dollars per hour the NDP proposes as the national minimum wage – about $30,000 per year – a no frills income, but certainly a livable one. 51 is the number of the bill the Parliament just approved (with the vote of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau), pitched to us as a national security initiative but which, in practice, is providing a legal framework for criminalizing dissent against the Keystone-XL/Enbridge pipeline complex, a legitimate exercise of our Charter rights of free speech and assembly dismissed as the “anti-petroleum movement” in this internal RCMP memo.

RCMP Memo

I was very upset to recently overhear a friend telling someone else why raising the minimum wage to $15 wasn’t a good idea. I don’t normally eavesdrop but as I sat there in my booth in the restaurant, I couldn’t help but overhear him go on about tax rates, about possible consequences to non-minimum wage earners. He didn’t know I was there. I wanted to tell him that $15 an hour wasn’t about abstractions like interest rates or actuarial tables but about poor people buying groceries for their families. It wasn’t an argument that would make sense to him, however. Because he exists in a world with enough money for it to be something of an abstraction for him. Money is only truly real to those who have too little of it.

Money can purchase freedom, for example by allowing people to afford the best justice money can buy. The coincidence of a widened scope of domestic surveillance with opposition to a livable minimum wage is not random. These increased incursions into our civil rights serve to enforce a social order wherein political power of the wealthy exists at the expense of the middle and working classes. C-51 comes at a time when the pipeline initiatives face growing civil opposition. And so the Conservative government has deployed the apparatus of State to criminalize dissent, and in so doing enforced a Politics of the Rich. Those who protest the pipeline once C-51 is in place will become, de facto, terrorists. And who earning less than $15 an hour can afford a lawyer?

The RCMP and the government of Canada have decided that exercising our Charter rights is not good for us because we might use them to promote an anti-petroleum ideology (whatever the fuck that is). They probably didn’t ever think any of us would get to read that memo when they wrote it, but we did. I want to tell the guys who wrote it that this isn’t about national security or pushing a revolutionary ideology. It’s about people demanding to have a say in what happens in the country where they live. But this isn’t an argument that would make sense to them. They exist in a world with so much power that it’s something of an abstraction for them. Freedom only really matters to those who have too little of it.

Sanctuary

One thing that becomes really clear when you start a vacation is how too much exposure to a rigid schedule affects the way you conceptualize your own leisure time. ‘Unwinding’ is such an appropriate term for what happens whenever I stop looking at the clock and start living.

We were never meant to be slaves to a schedule. It’s antithetical to the organic currents of existence.

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