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Dear United States: We’re Being Total Hosers, Sorry About That

1:00 pm in Uncategorized by Kevin Grandia

 

It wasn’t too long ago when Canadians were shouting at the top of their lungs about George Bush, the Iraq War, Guantanamo Bay, Gay Rights and a myriad of other “American” issues.

But the tides have turned quickly. Canada is now what the US was in the George W. Bush days. I can’t point to exact moment, but all I can say it happened really fast.

Look no further than a series of over 200 community protests against Canada being organized for this weekend across the US. This is just the latest anti-Canada protest and I for one am getting more embarrassed each time this happens. I used to get no end of pleasure making fun of my American friends and their crazy backwards politics. I mean, come on, Fox News! Need I say more!

I lived in the United States for the last three years and only moved back 8 months ago. When I first moved there, people would snigger and say something like: “Hey, did you move here to run away from the right-wing nuts running your country!” At first it was in jest, but by the time I left folks were saying: “You’re not seriously moving back there are you? Canada is a mess right now.”

I might have missed the exact moment the devil horns were passed from South to the North, but what I do know is who is to blame, and it can be summed up in two simple words: Stephen Harper.

Our Prime Minister, who was elected into office by less than a majority of voters, is running recklessly over Canada’s image. We were once this mighty gem in the crown of the world, with untouched natural wonder. A country who was so polite that it became the butt of jokes! A country that punched way above its weight class when it came to international diplomacy – more than once I have heard it said that America is good at taking over countries, but it is the Canadians that are the best at rebuilding a country.

Now we are being protested. Our country has become a rallying point for people in other countries who want to make things better. Stephen Harper wants to ram regressive policies down the throats of its own people, and down the throats of Americans. He quite literally wants to ram a pipeline through US homesteads in places like Nebraska and pump our dirty crude to waiting offshore oil tankers in the Gulf of Mexico. And the consequences be damned.

You know. That just isn’t the polite thing to do. To my American friends, I hate to say it, but you have every right to be pissed at Canada right now. We’re acting like total hosers. Sorry.

There’s a Storm Brewing in Canada and It’s Called Idle No More

12:04 pm in Uncategorized by Kevin Grandia

So here I thought moving back to Canada from Washington, DC, I would get a little break from politics. That isn’t happening and it’s thanks to an amazing citizens movement that is taking the country by storm.

Portrait of Stephen Harper

Will Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper respect the hunger strike of Chief Theresa Spence?

The movement is called Idle No More, and it is right now centered around an amazingly strong-willed First Nations woman named Chief Theresa Spence who is now more than two weeks into a hunger strike. Spence will continue her hunger strike until Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets with her to discuss her concerns over recent changes to laws concerning aboriginal rights and environmental protection.

Around Spence are tens-of-thousands of everyday people across the country who are standing up on this Christmas eve, supporting her efforts to oppose what is unarguably  a very hard-right ideological turn for the government of Canada.

The government offered for Spence to meet with the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, which Spence rightly refused as she has every right as a First Nations leader to meet with the Prime Minister. And after all, if the government is willing to offer a meeting to Spence with a senior cabinet minister, there is little reason that the Prime Minister cannot meet with her instead.

For Idle No More and Theresa Spence, the new right-wing agenda being passed into law by Prime Minister Harper is seen as a systematic destruction of indigenous rights. There is a lot of changes in the works, for example Harper’s government wants to loosen the process for aboriginals to surrender their land or what little is left anyways.

This is an obvious threat to First Nation’s traditional ways of life, and likely a huge benefit to resource companies looking to exploit that land.  This is a troubling proposal given the power and money that resource companies in Canada have, and their history of a willingness to destroy the Great White North for short term profit. One only needs to look at the vast sludgy, toxic lakes that are now a permanent fixture in the country’s tar sands projects.

For me, one of the most surprising and blatant attacks in Harper’s new agenda is $8 million in new funding to Revenue Canada to audit citizens groups and non-government organizations, with a special eye on environmental groups who oppose the development of Canada’s tar sands.

Audits can kill small NGO’s or at the least scare them into silence. This is an attempt to silence Canadian civil society and the people who have dedicated their lives to protecting Canada’s natural environment for future generations.

As you can see, things are not well in my homeland. While the government that represents me is shameful, I’m at the same time very proud to be Canadian today as I see so many people selflessly standing up and speaking out. But nobody more than Theresa Spence, a woman and a First Nations leader, who is showing the world right now what it is to truly care about the country you call home.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: For more, follow mzchief's dedicated liveblog.]

Photo by Remy Steinegger, World Economic Forum, under Creative Commons license.