B.C. Election May 14, 2013


Sometimes democracy fills me with despair. How can a party like the B.C. Liberals (who are not, in any sense of the word, liberal) come from twenty points behind based on a campaign that struck a single note many times a day for a month: the economy.

Christie Clark attacked the NDP based on its performance more than ten years ago. She blithely ignored her own party’s performance: its dismal failure to create jobs, its lack of concern about the environment, her own wavering on oil pipelines and tankers (in which she has more or less agreed to countenance their presence if she gets enough money), the scandals, the flip-flopping on the HST. (Unfortunately the NDP ignored it too. They were trying to run a positive campaign based on issues.) Clark ran around the province in her hard hat, posed with bewildered children, grinned manically into every camera and sowed fear around the NDP.

And the province bought it.

We’ll never see a positive campaign based on issues again.

The Rocky Road To Compassion


On Wednesday night this week I went with a friend to hear Karen Armstrong talk about her latest book, Twelve Steps To A Compassionate Life. I was inspired, not only because she spoke well and I believe compassion is essential, but because she was like me in some ways: impatient, judgmental, a perfectionist and sometimes overwhelmed by the stupidity and sadness and stuckness of the people and politicians of the world. Nonetheless she works daily to become more compassionate. I bought the book as I left, read the preface on the bus on the way home and decided I, too, would work to become a compassionate person.

On Thursday the Federal Government brought down its budget. Less draconian than the pre-budget whispers predicted, it nonetheless, in the words of Judy Rebick, “throws young people and the environment under the bus, with the CBC not far behind.” My resolution to be compassionate person hit the wall with an almighty bang.

In speeches, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has compared environmentalists to terrorists, particularly those environmentalists who oppose his planned pipeline to bring oil from the Tar Sands in Alberta to Kitimat, B.C., where it can be shipped by tanker through some of the most dangerous waters and pristine environment in the world, to China. In the budget, he arranged to short-circuit the environmental review process for all such projects.

(Self-disclosure: I oppose the planned pipeline from the Tar Sands to Kitimat.)

Despite his government’s pledge to maintain funding for the CBC, Stephen Harper has been systematically eroding their budget ever since he came to be Prime Minister. In this budget, the funds have been cut by 10% and no one believes or even pretends to believe that this is the last cut. Stephen Harper has always made it clear he despises the press in general and CBC in particular. After all, their reports examine his policies critically (although not nearly enough, in my opinion).

(I listen to CBC Radio daily.)

By delaying the Old Age Security payments by two years, to begin down the road, Stephen Harper encourages the elderly to continue to work. If you live longer, you need to work longer. It sounds reasonable, except for the high number of graduates from universities who cannot get jobs because older people are postponing retirement. It is simply wrong, as well as far more costly, to penalize the young in order to delay giving OAS payments to the elderly.

(I am sixty-two now, so my OAS will begin at sixty-five.)

I think this budget, like our Prime Minister, is mean-minded, small-souled and vindictive.

So I really have to dig to find some compassion. All I’ve managed so far, is an attempt to feel grateful that the Prime Minister makes no attempt to be hypocritical.

I’ll read Chapter One of Twelve Steps To A Compassionate Life today, remembering that Karen Armstrong did say it was a lifetime project.

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