The Bitter Angels of our Nature

I hate bullies. Always have. My problems with them began in nursery school when a group of older kids smashed me around enough to open a cut the length of my bicep (you can still see the scar). A few years later a gang of teenagers happened upon me playing alone at the park and battered me to a pulp. Those early lessons motivated me to conduct a study of the species. I learned that bullies are easy to spot. When you’re in a  group, they’re always the first to point out when someone else trips over their feet or their words or expresses an unpopular opinion and they do so loudly and clearly, soliciting agreement. It’s their social go-to: bullies are quick to create and claim space by excluding and ridiculing others.

Examining Donald Trump’s behavior during the primary debates and comparing them to his first days as President-elect yields interesting parallels. In the debates, he distinguished himself among a large field of competitors by ridiculing and hurling insults at his opponents. The strategy must have worked, because he successfully adapted it to an election campaign unparalleled in modern memory for its invocation of nativist and xenophobic themes. And in the four days since he has become president, Trump has shown every indication of bringing this style of management into the Oval Office. He has stated his intention to immediately deport 3 million people and made two key administration appointments, Mike Pence and Stephen Bannon, both notable for their anti-gay and anti-minority views. This is the politics of humiliation writ large: Trump has created and claimed space by excluding and ridiculing the concerns of others, specifically those of women, GLBT folk, ethnic and religious minorities.

Meanwhile, incidents of racial and sexual harassment have proliferated nation-wide, documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center and chronicled in such news sources as The Guardian and the Globe and Mail. Similar reports have emerged on social media. Perhaps most troubling has been the outcry (mostly ignored by the mainstream) from teachers witnessing a terrible upswing in racial bullying among students. As a former teacher I’m convinced these kids are probably mimicking the behavior of their parents, who are themselves mimicking the Bully-in-Chief.  The Left has responded mostly with horror and hand-wringing: protest marches, indignant social media posts and the well-intended but vaguely ridiculous Safety Pin Campaign, which has left most targeted minorities shaking their heads in frustrated incredulity.

I learned, as a kid who spent a tortured adolescence fending off attacks right and left, that bullies don’t listen to reason. They are immune from persuasion by argument or emotional appeal. That’s because they don’t care: about you or morality or the opinion of people other than those they hold in thrall. All they care about is hurting you, over and over again, until you are reduced to nothing, whereupon they wander off in search of their next victim.

Anybody seeking to counter this new trend of social authoritarianism (a bully’s favorite form of government) must be prepared to get their hands dirty. Useful guides are popping up on the internet on how to confront and stop racist attacks. But it’s going to take more than good intentions – both in America and elsewhere – to halt this wave of xenophobia breaking out across the western democracies.

Opposing bullies comes at a risk. Specifically, you might get your ass kicked (or worse). But here’s a secret: refusing to give up, refusing to back down and refusing to accept the abuse is the only sure cure to bullying. Wearing safety pins is nice and all (and probably makes you feel better about yourself) but it won’t be enough to counter the vicious, primitive energy of the herd that has been unleashed. It took me nearly putting a kid in the hospital for my bullies to stop. I’ll never forget being dragged into the Dean of Student’s office, bloody and missing chunks of hair, to answer for my actions. I just stood there, bruised and grinning, not caring that I faced detention. I served it happily, reflecting on my new lesson. To survive, I would have to be that one kid who rises again and again, no matter how many times I got struck down.

Nothing terrifies a bully more.

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Last Call at la Belle Aurore

It’s easy to imagine the panic that gripped Paris as the Nazis approached during the summer of 1940. In a perverse gesture of cultural sensitivity, the German high command signalled its reluctance to destroy the grand architecture and priceless artworks of the City of Light and so reached an agreement with defenders: French troops would withdraw and allow Paris to be taken without a shot fired. Unfortunately, the German sense of aesthetic decorum didn’t extend to the 72,000 French Jews they later deported and slaughtered in death camps between then and 1944.  I was always puzzled by the logic that prioritized saving buildings and pretty paintings above the lives of actual human beings.

 

Until today.

 

Watching the fallout from Donald Trump’s election reverberate across the media, within my social circle and even here in my small town on Vancouver Island, I am beginning to understand the mentality of those German officers a little better. I imagine them gathering in a railway car to study their maps, drink sherry and congratulate each other on their enlightened humanity. Here they were on the brink of conquering a nation, yet determined to spare the enemy destruction of their capital. No stronger argument for German superiority existed … so long as each kept his gaze averted.

 

In the twenty-four hours since Donald Trump’s victory I have witnessed the averted gaze on many occasions, chiefly in the form of repeated denials that a Trump presidency will negatively affect specific groups within the United States. There have been demonstrations in a number of major cities, often met with counter-demonstrations, one of which led to a friend’s son being assaulted and detained by the US Secret Service. Another friend in California was planning to attend a gathering that was canceled due to threats of violence against participants. Meanwhile, a wave of Brexit-like hate-crimes against Muslims, GLBT folks, Hispanics and Latinos is being reported in both mainstream and social media. The discrediting of “political correctness,” it seems, is being taken as a go-ahead to blow the lid on of some spring-loaded storehouse of resentment. The gloves are off and the imperative “punish the Other” rises to a fever pitch.

 

And yet some continue to insist this is all just so much exaggeration and melodrama. Calls for calm and acceptance abound, as do attempts to normalize the election of a candidate who ran on a platform of naked xenophobia and nativism – the same candidate who has promised to reverse civil rights legislation, bar Muslims from entering the country, overturn Roe v. Wade and who now calls for nationwide concealed carry legislation. At best, this points to a future that is somewhat less than rosy for anyone who isn’t visibly straight, white and male. At worst, we’re headed for the imposition of a kind of weaponized fundamentalist dystopia. But hey it’s all just politics as usual, right?

 

The averted gaze, in a nutshell.

 

It will be easy for “good,” straight, white, Christian people to get along in this brave new world. Trump is taking the messy bazaar of American multiculturalism and stuffing it back into the handy, Ward’n June Cleaver duality of an earlier age: Christian and not, white and black, us and them. You’re either on his side of the fence, or you’re shit out of luck. All Trump’s followers have to do is refuse to acknowledge the danger he poses to their fellow countrymen and -women, ignore the fears and grievances of other races, other religions, other sexualities and all of society’s problems (those that bother WASPS, anyway) will take care of themselves. All they have to do is look away.

 

Which brings us to the last call at la Belle Aurore: that great scene in CASABLANCA wherein Rick, Sam and Ilsa meet at the bar to drink up the last of the champagne before the Germans arrive. At one point, they step outdoors to listen to instructions from a Gestapo envoy on how to behave when the Germans march into Paris. The Wehrmacht’s arrival is not shown in the movie, but I’ve met people who were actually there. They tell me that most Parisians stood in shocked silence. Some wept. And a few applauded because the Germans were coming to reimpose the duality of an earlier age, one where all you had to do was look away and society’s problems sorted themselves out.

 

That is where we are right now, folks. Last call at la Belle Aurore. And the Nazis are coming.

 

Will you look away?

 

Will you?

 

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Alfred’s Way

I spent a lot of time with my grandparents as a kid. My mother’s father raised a family of five during the Great Depression by working as a door-to-door salesman – Fuller Brushes mostly, but they say Alfred could sell anything. Perhaps it was this experience of traveling far and wide and meeting so many different people that gave Alfred his unique perspective. Like most men in our family, Alfred was pretty circumspect. At family gatherings you wouldn’t even know he was in the room. But he could surprise you. Alfred was very firm in his belief about certain things. Like how you should treat people.

Montreal in the 1920s and 30s was a multicultural stew, particularly in the neighborhood where my mother grew up. Immigrants were pouring in – mostly Italians and Eastern Europeans. Newcomers to Canada who choose Quebec get a double dose of xenophobia – first, the generic white people kind, then the specialized and excruciating French form. Alfred would have none of it.

“Never make fun of a man who’s willing to work,” he would say. “You ask a Frenchman or an Englishman to dig a ditch and he’ll say it’s below him. But give the job to an Italian or a Polish man and he’ll dig the best ditch you’ve ever seen and be glad for the opportunity.”

Having been an immigrant myself, I understand the difficulty of trying to fit in where you’re not welcome. On some level, Grandpa did, too, rejecting the heraldry of even the most obvious differences of religion or appearance.

“They’re not n*****s They’re Negroes.” He was firm on this. “That’s the respectful way to refer to those folks. They’re no different from us.”

An antique term by today’s standards – and an objectionable one to some of my African-American friends – but Alfred’s heart was in the right place. He was trying, in his way, to manifest a primitive form of political correctness. He believed that it was up to individuals to take responsibility for making a fairer and more just world and that task begins with each of us.

I’m surprised by some of the attitudes I’m encountering with regards to the Syrian refugees in our midst. Both in live conversations and on-line, I have encountered opinions ranging from reluctant to resistive to downright hostile. Relatively few folks are accepting, and there seems to be real objections to the notion of extending a hand of welcome. Here on Vancouver Island, home to one of the most inhospitable demographics in North America, Middle Easterners will encounter a double dose, like the Italians of yore. This will play out in the dynamic of locals and newcomers interacting and finding – or not finding – a way to get along. Hopefully people will overcome their fear of the unknown and manifest some of the kindness and generosity for which Canadians are – justly, or unjustly – renowned. We will see.

As for me and my house, we will follow Alfred’s way.

 

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Four Eloquent Silences

1.

Night landing: a hard bump and I’m awake, head vibrating with the shudder as the Otter throttles down and touches tarmac. A small airport – one not even large enough to warrant a passenger lounge. My friend’s car is parked in the shadow of a steel shed housing the automated beacon.

“I’ve tried very hard to keep my name off the ‘net.” He smiles apologetically as he stows my luggage in the backseat. “Search for me on Google and you find a guy who runs a grocery store in Minnesota. Nothing about me or my military service.”

“I get it.” I, too, have been living a hard-target lifestyle since the Cold War ended. We have a lot in common although wildly divergant life-paths have led us to roughly the same place thirty years after we graduated high-school together. And so I understand why he drives quickly with the lights dimmed, why he keeps a loaded Browning in the glove box and a drink pre-poured in the fridge which he gulps immediately upon arrival home.

“You were asking about the rape camps.” He leans back against the kitchen counter as I fish out a joint and light up. “Yes, I believe there were rape camps. Sure there were rumors but from everything I saw, yeah. I believe them.”

“So how do you square it with what’s going on in Europe now?”

“I read your piece in that Alt Right webzine. Right On, wasn’t it? Your readers won’t like that, Jamie.”

“My only obligation to my readers is to entertain them.”

“When did you become such a hard-ass?”

“When did you become such an alcoholic?”

“After Rwanda. Which I don’t discuss anymore for mental health reasons.” He slides open the glass door to the porch, steps across and fires up the gas grill. “Bosnia was bad enough. I couldn’t barbecue for a decade.”

I shudder, remembering the letter when it arrived, the cryptic return address of coded letters and numbers signifying his combat rotation. And, inside, scrawled in his spidery handwriting, the description of the charred bodies of children in the ditches lining either side of the highway to Sarajevo.

“The Muslims were the victims.” I take a seat in a worn and slightly moist lawn chair. “The Serbians tried to ethnically cleanse them out of existence. Rape was part of that program.”

“I heard about that movie – the one that famous Hollywood actress made. What’s her name? Brangelina something? Didn’t do too well. Still. Good for her. Most people don’t want to hear that shit.” He loses focus as he stares into the glowing charcoals. “In Villages like Bacovici and Fojnica, these areas where on the line between HVO – Croat Forces – and BIH, Bosnian Muslim troops. As the line moved back and forth, houses and businesses were deliberately targeted. In some areas, houses of fleeing families were deliberately burned to the ground.”

“A neat trick. When they weren’t shelling the marketplace.”

“War is hell.” He pulls the foil back from two prime steaks, liberally seasoned, and forks them onto the grill. “February of 1994. There was no legitimate military target in the area. Resulted in the creation of the TEZ, the total exclusion zone, a 20 km circle around the area. Weapons and artillery became legitimate targets for the UN and NATO. US and British air strikes followed soon after.”

“Did you know that human rights violations might be happening?”

“Yes. It was part of our training.”

“And what were you supposed to …? I mean what steps could you ..?”

“Our rules of engagement remain classified.” He is frowning now, staring off into space. “But they were, uh, mostly defensive. There was nothing, really. Nothing. We could …”

He turns and heads back indoors to freshen his drink.

2.

I am re-reading the e-mail in disbelief. The editor is demanding historical citations to the war crimes committed in Bosnia. My collaborator and I are good friends but not above the occasional acidic spat. We fire insults pretty liberally even when we’re getting along, but things get heated pretty quickly this time.

The woman is an idiot, I claim. To which she ripostes: nice attitude to have toward our editor. I tell her about my friend, about the carefully-handwritten letters detailing the events as he witnessed them, about the international outcry, the UN tribunals. She remains firm. Sources, footnotes, proof. I dutifully supply same.

The article is published. Rumors of Bosnian war crimes are mentioned. As if that’s all they ever were.

3.

Rain hammers down as I stumble across the uneven ground toward the farm-house. My feet, boots and pants are soaked by the time she lets me in.

“So what was it you wanted to talk about?” My ex-wife Becky picks up a spoon and begins stirring the cous-cous. The house is more or less unchanged since I vacated three years ago. The spaces I once filled are now crammed with more clutter: bags of wool, the scale and shrink-wrap sealer used during strawberry harvest, the green cardboard flats for produce. And, hanging on the wall beside the wool-carder, a framed portrait of the Berber tribeswoman woman who was Becky’s surrogate mother to her during her difficult years in Tunisia.

“When I was talking about the sexual assaults on Cologne New Years Eve you interrupted and said that, yeah, because you’d been in North Africa, you can imagine what might have happened. Could you expand on that? What do you mean?”

“Well.” She puts down the spoon and stares at the counter-top. “The culture in North Africa is sexually very restricted. No interaction between young men and women is permitted. Any woman who is unaccompanied as she walks around outdoors is considered a ‘sharmuta’, which is Arabic for ‘whore’.”

“Do they have whores in their culture? Prostitutes?”

“Oh god yes. And they do a brisk business. But they’re very careful. Like sex-workers everywhere, they endure a great deal of violence. But we were warned, as idealistic young Peace Corps volunteers, that any woman who walks unaccompanied on the streets can expect to be pinched, grabbed at … It’s just the culture. So you can imagine being some young North African guy turned loose in Europe …”

“It would be like a sexual Disneyland.” I shake my head and continue typing notes into my Android. “It seems there has been a deliberate attempt to downplay the event. Some feminists have been protesting with signs that say ‘I PREFER A RAPIST TO A RACIST’.”

“That’s insane.” Becky stops stirring. “But then again I can understand a victim of rape or harassment choosing not to report a crime because …”

My voice suddenly weakens. “Because … why?”

Becky is looking at me funny. “Sometimes people don’t want to bring public shame down on themselves. Or their family. Jamie, is there -?”

“So how about this? There’s evidence that a series of similar attacks happened elsewhere that same night. Stuttgart, Berlin, Zurich …”

“Not conspiracy bullshit?”

“No, this is from police blotters. Also in Malmo, Sweden. A music festival last fall. A whole whack of sexual assaults got reported but, like in Germany, the police, politicans and the press suppressed reporting of it.”

“Well, I can see why!” Becky picks up her spoon and pokes at the cous-cous again. “Any uproar could imperil the continued influx of immigrants. Which is supposed to provide Europe with a source of cheap labor for decades to come!”

I smile. After all, she had once worked for the State Department.

4.

It is 1990. I am twenty-four years old. It is Friday evening and an older co-worker has invited me to meet him for drinks at an abandoned park a few miles from the office. I am just awakening from the sudden shock of being thrust into the workforce following the financial ruin of my parents. After two years of working 70 hours per week for minimum wage to pay my bills, I am loosening up so I now only work 50 hours per week and manage to enjoy the occasional cocktail hour.

Barry is waiting for me in the ruined playground of the abandoned housing project. Half-built model homes loom all around us and the desolate little patch of greenery with its concrete picnic tables, swings and jungle gym is a sad reminder of the cheery little neighborhood envisaged by the urban planners.

“You’ve been very cool to me, Jamie, since I came on board and I want you to know I really appreciate it.” Barry reaches into a bag by his feet, produces a beer can and offers it. I shake my head. He opens it and continues. “I’m surprised you didn’t apply for the manufacturing manager’s job yourself. You could have had it.”

“Not interested. Mind if I?” I fish a joint from my sock and hold it up.

“Grass, eh? Huh. Go ahead.” Barry slurps beer. “I figured you were kind of a bad boy, Jamie. Verity said you were good friends. I asked her about that conversation you two were having last week. About how you ..?”

“How I what?” I light up. Verity and I discuss a lot of things. We’re kindred Gen-X’ers with displaced expectations and an increasingly bleak economic outlook. It just seems to us that the Boomers had raided and run with all the good stuff long before we arrived, leaving us to work Walmart wages for middle management jobs. But we strive to have a good attitude about it. Given that my dad had gone to jail for being a con, I get hip to the whole game fast.

“How you’re … bisexual.”

I fiddle with my joint. Blink. Pretend not to be too interested. “What about it?” I ask boredly.

“I got into trouble for being bisexual when I was in the Army. That’s why I transferred out and re-enlisted into the Navy.” He is watching me carefully now. “I told my wife and she just started to laugh. How would she possibly understand? Anyway. Yeah. I’ve been kind of lonely about it. And then I overheard you and Verity and -”

“Well, hey. I’m flattered, man. But -”

“And I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you since. Like I watch you walk through the office with your shirt and tie. And your nipples poking out against your shirt front. And I can’t help myself.”

“Ah -”

“I just spend a lot of time imagining how I would eat your ass. You know? How I would just dive into it like a watermelon half. And mmm – good.”

Barry keeps this up for the next hour. Then the next week. After a month, I find a reason to resign by mail, and receive an angry voice message from the owner of the company demanding to know why.

I don’t answer.

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Tuareg tribesman.

 

Of refugees and Christmas

While teaching at a school run by Mexican nuns, I learned about a Spanish Christmas tradition unknown to most Canadians. It is called Las Posadas.

In Spanish-speaking countries around the world, Catholics commemorate the pilgrimage of Mary and Joseph (the term ‘posadas’ means ‘lodgings’ in English). We all know the story: the couple are repeatedly turned away before finding shelter in a stable, wherein the Prince of Peace is born. In imitation of this for Las Posadas, a young male and female are chosen to play the roles of Mary and Joseph and, dressed in costume, lead a procession of singing celebrants from door to door. In some countries the party is invited inside to pray at a nativity shrine. In others, the homeowner is required to sing a song in response to the procession. Regardless of how each of the Posadas is enacted, the observance itself is a combination Christmas pageant, caroling session and block party.

In the US/Mexico border city of Nogales where I lived and worked, the ceremony is conducted with a deep awareness of its political resonance. Nogales, a crossing for migrant workers and refugees, is a flashpoint where those leaving the Third World encounter the threshing machinery of the First: Homeland Security, state and local police and the armed goons of the Minuteman militia. In contrast to those visiting Mexico, my students faced a phalanx of armed security crossing the border to attend school each morning. Assuming they made it past the machine-guns and drug-sniffing dogs, there was always a chance they could be detained and searched. (“La migra,” was a common excuse I heard from late-comers to first period.) I learned, and quickly, that the wall we dismissed with an indifferent shrug is viewed as a towering insult by the Mexicans who dwell in its shadow.

And so each Christmas in Nogales Las Posadas is enacted. Because Nogales is a desert town, suitable costumes and a burro for the couple are easily procured. And, given the deeply-veined Catholicism that runs through the place, there is never any lack of participants. The pilgrimage lasts many hours, swelling as it progresses and ending, by tradition, at the US/Mexico border crossing. There, the songs are played and the ritual question is asked: “Do you have any room for the night?” The US border guards, of course, say nothing. And in a small act of protest, a crowd of candle-bearing Mexican Catholics stands and awaits an answer, staring at the border guards for a while before dispersing. The symbolism is unmistakable. No room at the inn.

Yesterday night, the first planeload of Syrian refugees arrived in Canada. Our Prime Minister was on hand to personally greet them. Upon arrival, each refugee received an immigrant visa, appropriate government ID, a health insurance card, winter clothing and a place to stay. The children in the group received toys. Translators, social workers, counselors and volunteers were on hand to help these new Canadians take the first steps of what will be a lengthy and frustrating transition. They will face difficulties. Our customs and traditions will seem strange to them. Winter will be an unfamiliar force to be reckoned with. And not everyone will welcome them. But they made it safely. And more are coming.

We would do well to remember what these people have endured. Their land was occupied by an oppressive military force which imposed its rule over the citizens before terrorizing, murdering and crucifying its way across the region. Treated as conquered subjects, these refugees were forced to flee across the desert where, after days and nights of walking, they were rejected by city after city. When their trek brought them to border walls, they asked the ritual question and were turned away. No doubt, many remain on the road tonight, sleeping outdoors or in barns and stables. Perhaps a few have even placed their infant children in mangers.

In doffing his coat and tie and handing out winter clothing along with the rest of the volunteers at Pearson Airport yesterday, Prime Minister Trudeau did more than just lead by example. With his resolve on this issue, he has returned something to Canada that was conspicuously absent during the Harper years. It is something difficult to characterize, but terms like ‘heart’ or ‘compassion’ – a sense of being connected to a broader humanity or simply a beacon of light – apply. But whatever you call it,  it’s shining tonight as an example to the rest of the world.

In Canada, we have room at the inn.

Happy holidays and welcome, my fellow Canadians.

 

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Letter

Dear Syrian refugee:

I imagine you reading this on a borrowed laptop or Smartphone hunched in a bunk in some uncomfortable refugee center in Germany or Holland. Maybe you’re one of those still wandering the roads of Eastern Europe or shivering, wet and storm-tossed on the Mediterranean. I dearly hope you are not still trapped in Syria, struggling to reach the border. Wherever you are, please know that you are in my prayers. I have been thinking about you a lot lately.

I can’t imagine the fear and uncertainty you have been experiencing. I’m sure you feel worn out, angry and perhaps even a little bit ashamed. You have lost your homes, and many of you have lost family members in the carnage you left behind. Perhaps there are those back in Syria who claim you’ve let them down, or even called you a coward opting to run. Please know: I do not think of you that way. I think you’re very brave and resilient. Faced with those who worship death, you chose life. That in itself is an act of great moral courage. By your continued existence, therefore, you shame Da’esh. You are a true hero. And now you are on your way here.

Listen, I think I should warn you that there are some people who are not very happy that you’re coming. Despite our many advancements in science and technology (and comparative social stability) there are still some among us who choose to live in fear and ignorance. There are people in Canada who don’t want you to come here because you are Middle Eastern and they dislike Arabs. Others know very little about Islam except what they read in the news and it frightens them. Still others insist that you are agents of Da’esh, coming to destroy us. These people have been thinking about you, too – mostly about ways to block your coming here. A few have even made threats.

But it doesn’t matter. You’re coming.

You’re coming because in Canada most of us believe we are stronger because of our differences, not in spite of them. We have welcomed refugees from all over the world into our multi-cultural society and many have gone on to become distinguished contributors to Canadian culture – doctors and scientists, artists, lawyers and teachers. One, Michelle Jean, emigrated here from Jamaica to become the Governor General – the Queen’s envoy to Canada, the highest office in the land. Who knows what your contribution will be? Only you can determine that. Here in Canada, there is a place waiting for you – a place that only you can fill.

I hope your journey to us is a safe one. I hope you experience kindness from strangers along the way. And once you arrive, I hope you are welcomed. Ignore any on our shores who greet you unkindly or with disrespect. They do not reflect the true soul of Canada. Because I’ll tell you a secret. Even if Da’esh has hidden its members among you, we still want you to come. Because most Canadians are willing to risk their own lives in order to save someone else’s. This willingness, ingrained in so many by circumstance and great sacrifices in the cause of human freedom, have become part of the national character. And now that the government has promised to settle you among us, you are no less a part of Canada than we, who put a light in the window, and lay an extra plate on the table. We are waiting to welcome you home.

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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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