I would rather not have Stephen Harper and Peter Mackay making maps on thought until they are themselves good at it.

I don’t usually pay too much attention to the news but last week like many Canadians I was near my radio.

I felt a wave of something when I learned of a soldier’s death. I don’t see regiments and uniforms when I think of a soldier who has fallen. I see families and communities and now a nation. May mercy reign on those nearest to Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and may resilience rule the rest of us. We are all in some sense left to take over Cpl. Cirillo’s duties; we must stand at attention to the unknown.

Those who we trust to know and those who tell us they do are scrambling like rats on a listing ship. My biggest fear is not that any will drown but that the course they steer will be political more than sensible. Will we purchase police and forms of recognizable security for an invisible foe? How do we wage war on beliefs? Soil itself has been turned red by battles of beliefs.

If we want a sense of what goes through a jihadist’s mind we might consider having bombs falling on our own church of thought. It is dangerous to police thought and affiliation. It is a slippery slope we may never find our way back from. The changes we have induced following 9/11 are with us forever and we must consider the same of future reactions to these events. If changes are war measures we may take comfort but Stephen Harper’s conservatives never really mentioned we were going to war. I heard some trifle about a half dozen aged planes but I missed the address to the nation about a declaration of war.

The threat is presently ISIS but any measures taken will be excuse for any threat, real or imagined. Are we prepared for that? The brush we use for ISIS may wander from the conservative paint by numbers and we need to guard against Muslims and mosques being suspect. We will have precedence and momentum to enact measures against any group. What happens if Jewish people are targeted? Will we monitor and mute any who are anti-Semitic? What will be the threshold of anti-Semitism; pro-Palestinian? Who will decide and who will watch those who watch the rest of us? I would rather not have Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay making maps on thought until they are themselves good at it.

I am saddened and angered by these events. These military deaths almost can’t be compared to those who died in the midst of battle at Vimy, Dieppe or Afghanistan but they must. If we recoil with a reworking of fundamental freedoms, two soldiers killed on home soil will make the very ideals and institutions that thousands have died for mute.

Conservative Logic and the Demise of Democracy

My member of parliament (MP) Ed Holder sent me a 16 page booklet in the mail. According to Ed Holder his “office gets a lot of questions about” how the parliamentary system works. Could it be because it currently doesn’t? Now everyone on my street knows about the Queen, the Governor General, and the Senate, the Cabinet, the Secretary of State and even the Parliamentary Secretary. “Frankly, my dear Ed, I don’t give a damn,” it’s you not doing your job that interests me. Pointing to parliamentary procedure serves seventh graders and costs their parents.

Could Mr. Holder provide us with the number of phone calls, emails and letters that led him to purchase this booklet and mail it out? I find “a lot” a little vague when it comes to thousands of dollars pumping through printers. Members of parliament must keep records; let’s see them. Possibly, it is some final favour to the postal system that is being dismantled. Ed is the Minister for Science and Technology so facts and figures should be a familiar concept. If Ed Holder can’t give us specific numbers to “a lot” maybe he can make up an excuse as to why “a lot” of people can’t type three words into Google and find dozens of documents saying the same or more? While we’re at it why did he send this information to each and every constituent in the riding? Am I “a lot”? If a hundred people have a question do you mail the answers to anyone? No wonder not much has been accomplished on Ed Holder’s watch. He’s too busy being illogical.

There are bombs falling on the Conservatives and their degradation of democracy and failed financial finesse so they fill the constituencies with flyer flack. Only in Canada do we put so much brilliance into Blue Boxes. Don’t get me wrong. I like to see several photographs of my member of parliament so I can know he is well fed. I’m with the Conservatives; we should feed children following the flyers. It sets me at ease to see my member of parliament happy and healthy so he and the prime minster can dabble in democracy.

Recently, we have the Conservatives trying to change Canada’s copyright laws so they can exploit any news piece to make themselves look good or another look bad. The only thing that looks bad is the Conservative government. I would like whoever is heading this charge to change course, to fill me in on how many constituents called for it. Which constituency or constituencies are voicing a concern in this area? How many Canadians have questioned or found fault in the way the laws have been protecting and serving us to date? Is it “a lot?” The Conservatives owe Canadians some numbers. If the political impetus is from politicians mainly, my suspicion is “a lot” of elected Conservatives are trying to stack the deck so they can get elected again. Without facts, numbers and evidence it doesn’t have to serve “a lot” if any common Canadians.

The Conservatives ignore the premise of democracy which is “by the people.” Democracy is for the benefit of all and in the interest of the common people not the House of Commons. An MP’s job is not to keep it. Rest in peace sense, science and statistics. Conservatism is basically asexual reproduction in that an individual can reproduce without involvement with another individual. Hopefully that makes sense to Ed Holder our illustrious Minister for Science.

“Let them drink Scotch”

I read with fascination about the prime minister’s visit to the arctic. I have read about John Franklin’s expedition that disappeared while searching for the Northwest Passage in 1845. I’m happy the prime minister has a history hobby but as a Canadian it raises some serious questions. One headline read “Scotch tumblers were raised last month on the bridge of HMCS Kingston to the search for Erebus and Terror.” Many Canadians are interested in Franklin’s ships but outside of the prime ministers personal obsession, I fail to see the national significance.

Stephen Harper and the conservatives should be paying attention to the terror of the 21st century not the ‘Terror’ of the 19th century. Someone should point the prime minister to a newspaper and highlight a few current concerns. We have a war in Syria, the Ukraine-Russia crisis, conflict in Israel and Palestine, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Ebola, global warming and closer to home the economy, murdered and missing indigenous women, prostitution laws, marijuana laws, the tar sands, the torture of mentally ill offenders and poverty, homelessness and hunger.

It is time the prime minister pulled himself away from the pages of history to take a glance at the misery faced by many Canadians and their children. I’m not sure I could raise a tumbler of Scotch to a dead explorer being the leader of one of the few developed countries without a national meal program for children. It is not liberal or in any way political to ensure all children have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food.

Fifteen percent or almost 4 million Canadians are considered “food insecure.” While the prime minister is drunk on his hobby many Canadians are unsure of where their next meal is coming from. These people can be sure that next meal will not come from this prime minister. Stephen didn’t say it out loud but his actions and attentions scream, “Let them drink Scotch.”

The conservatives are drunk on perpetuating their power. Stephen Harper is politically shrewd and has clearly calculated a balanced budget is his only key to re-election. He has also calculated that 4 million hungry people don’t stand in line to vote because they are across town in a food line. The prime minister would rather drink Scotch on the bridge of a ship with his conscienceless cronies and imagine an explorer who risked it all for the benefit of a nation. “You sir are no John Franklin. Nice mittens by the way. Take them off and roll up your sleeves. Your nation needs a builder not a bookworm.”

It is not frivolous to feed people and it is fiscally responsible. Hungry children are sick more often and struggle academically. The medical and social costs are future expenses but you were elected to look ahead not look back. Children under 18 represent over 40% of food bank clients in Canada. If the prime minster wants to look back he should travel back to 1989 when Canada made an all-party resolution to end child poverty. I am not geographically gifted but the answers are not in the arctic.

The search for Franklin is a joint public-private partnership. I’m not sure what the unemployed or hungry think but I feel this historical hunt could and should be entirely privately funded. This government can’t find food for families but they dredge dimes from Canadians to find Franklin. With respect to the dead the man and his mission are beyond saving. The voices of the past are important but meaningless in comparison to the voices of hungry children. This prime minister needs to toss the tumbler and drink in some empathy and social responsibility.

We have two Canadian Coast Guard ships propelling past the permafrost on government gas. What exactly are we giving Canadians? I usually save my swear words for when I’m through the drive thru but Canadian school children don’t give a FROSTY about Franklin when they can’t find food.

Sucking back Scotch with the prime minister were Industry Minister James Moore, Environment Minister Leona Aqlukkaq, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt and billionaire and Blackberry profiteer Jim Balsille was there to represent common Canadians. The Inuit on shore who pay $8.99 for a head of lettuce and the rest of Canadians were too ashamed to participate, or, a shameful reminder. Billionare Balsille “was very proud. It was a nation-building moment.” Anyone familiar with Jim Balsille or Blackberry might question his perception of building.

There’s nothing wrong with being a geography geek, a history hound, a billionaire or a bureaucrat but when your interests are at the expense of taxpayers and citizens without work or food, you become a “figurehead” of folly. The ass end of a ship is the best place for such individuals. Presently we can’t do much about many of these idiots but when the conservative ship capsizes we won’t have to yell “man overboard” as there weren’t any to begin with.

Canadians will no doubt sleep better when we find splinters of these historic hulls. Too bad the prime minister and his cronies will be the few who have food in their teeth to make use of the toothpicks.

I’m Not Sure How You Screw Up 140 Characters But It Seems The Best Way Is To Elect Them

I’m trying to lose weight and have tried numerous diets as I am allergic to activity. Recently, I have been having some success by viewing various Conservative Party of Canada candidate, MP and ministerial communications. I can’t keep down most of what I eat as a result if and when I even have an appetite. Stupidity is for me at least mildly nauseating.

Today I had a hankering for a double cheeseburger and a milkshake so I visited Minister for Public Safety Steve Blaney’s Twitter account. Fighting what seems like the flu I will forward a few words.

If compassion had anything to do with conservatism minister Blaney would be all over the twitterverse with photo’s of himself towering over individuals with mental illness in a healthcare setting. Instead Minister Blaney allows individuals under his charge with serious and persistent mental illness to linger in solitary confinement. It seems with this government security and healthcare is like oil and water.

As contrast we have the Conservative Party of Canada tweeting “We are the only party who will protect gun owners. Retweet if you’re with us.” I was ignorant of the fact that gun owners were a marginalized and vulnerable population. Minister Blaney’s twisted tweet includes an image of a semi-automatic rifle and his own quote: “Owners of the CZ-858 and Swiss Arms rifles that were ‘impacted’ can now use their private property once again, as should have always been the case.” I don’t know about my readers but I feel safer knowing this government is protecting gun owners. Guns don’t kill, governments do. If gun ownership is proximal to safety or security we are a nation of idiots.

When the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) issued the prohibition of these semi-automatic firearms, gun rights advocates were up in ‘arms.’ According to them 10 000 Canadians became criminals overnight because they now possessed prohibited firearms. Apparently they had difficulty looking up amnesty in the dictionary. Considering ammunition is the word preceding it I can see the problem. They may not even have come that close as they fixated on Americanize.

Firearms lawyer Ed Burlew filed class action suits against the federal government and RCMP. Burlew’s lawsuit was seeking $10 million in punitive damages and $20 000 for each owner of the firearms in question for mental distress and anxiety. While ignoring the mental distress and anxiety of people with serious and persistent mental illness the conservatives capitulated. The only time this government is capable with mathematics is in measuring votes. Gun owners are organized and vote, people with serious and persistent mental illness don’t. Polls trump human decency and social justice every time. I was aware of the fact that this government doesn’t give a damn about mental illness but when their compassion is placed on pistol possessors the double cheeseburger becomes a distant thought.

I know what you’re thinking. “Brett, you have no empathy or compassion for people who wield weapons. What about their distress and anxiety?”

In fact I may be the only citizen in this country who has experienced serious and persistent mental illness in solitary confinement and was once a gun owner. Following one of my hospitalizations I was advised to surrender my shotguns. Possibly it was too traumatic and I have blocked it out but I have no recollection of mental distress or anxiety from the experience. Burlew’s lawsuit was both superfluous and humourous. This government takes on legal battles which they should submit to but capitulate for 10 000 votes.

I wanted a sense of who these gun owners are. Google guided me to the Alberta Magazine Outdoorsmen, Alberta’s only hunting, fishing and trapping magazine. The forum I found was full of indignation. None of these outdoorsmen seemed to have names but are clearly nincompoops.

‘recce43’ said “do not turn anything in. laws only work if the public complies.” These words seem to fly in the oft repeated mantra that gun owners are law abiding citizens. ‘recce43’ did in fact know how to use capital letters as he explained at the bottom of the post “LIFE IS TOUGH…TOUGHER IF YOU’RE STUPID” He should know as he followed with “women have the right to work whenever they want, as long as they have the dinner ready when you get home” Minister Blaney and the prime minister must be proud to be able to accommodate and cooperate with such citizens.

‘Mistagin’ explains the reason the prohibition was repealed while solitary confinement remains a solution for mental illness. “I just sent off a letter to MP Blaney and PM Harper.” I can’t be the only one to get a chill thinking these individuals actually influence conservative policy. You are who votes for you.

I understand that a minister responsible for public safety would be involved in firearm policy but how is it that Canadians are kept safe by allowing more semi-automatic firearms? Children who don’t own BB guns are proportionately less likely to have their eye penetrated by a pellet. It’s not science, it’s sensibility and common sense but that revolution has died.

According to Canada’s National Firearms Association (NFA) prohibiting firearms has nothing to do with preventing bad behaviour. Possibly not but it minimizes the damage done in many of those instances. You can’t control the criminal but it’s tough to pull a trigger when the gun is with the government. The NFA is lobbying the government to eliminate prohibited categories of firearms, rescind clauses on barrel length and caliber that classify firearms and regulations affecting magazine capacity. They also want to eliminate ‘punitive’ safe storage and transport requirements, the Chief Firearms Officers and remove the administration of the Firearms Act from control of the RCMP.

Basically the NFA would like to see shotguns next to six-packs at convenience stores. We need to ask ourselves if we want ‘recce43’ running around with rifles without rules.

I complied with the recommendation to relinquish my rifles because as crazy as I was I was also insightful, responsible and conscientious.

It is criminals who carry out offences using firearms but many of these illegal weapons were and are obtained legally initially. Minister Blaney and Prime Minister Harper need to pull themselves from the polls and decide if the freedoms of gun owners should trump true public safety.

Just because you can lobby, write letters and make phone calls doesn’t make your influence or interests just. In this case it just makes for poor policy. I don’t believe I am the only Canadian who finds comfort in being different from America. Two important differences worth protecting are healthcare and gun control. This government is too busy aiming for votes to adjudicate ethically to either.

Commercials Don’t Cure

Times have been tough for many Canadians but thankfully we have Prime Minister Harper to keep us afloat or is it aloof? All I see is a scripted tight lipped dance of deception. The Prime Minister keeps his ministers on leash with such consistency they can only foul where they walk. Parliament is becoming putrid.

Minister of Veteran Affairs Julian Fantino according to Wikipedia was a security guard, serves with Criminal Intelligence and is currently preoccupied with ministerial moronity.

With one in six full-time members of the Canadian Forces experiencing symptoms of mental health or alcohol related disorders, propaganda has become a prescription. Veterans and their calls to Fantino are often not returned and even individuals who show up in person are sidestepped. Accountability In Action; all we need is a sign on the road. Fantino closed 8 regional Veteran Affairs offices and pumped it into propaganda. The conservatives have increased their advertising to veterans by about $4 million. TV therapy.

One would assume a minister responsible for veteran affairs would be slightly familiar with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) but what is the political gain in that? PTSD includes a disturbance of day-to-day activities and avoidance yet we have the conservatives dishing out information during the most expensive periods of Stanley Cup playoff hockey. Individuals with PTSD are unlikely to be dialed in to Don Cherry.

Many who are experiencing PTSD and other symptoms are uninterested in hockey let alone the commercials. It makes about as much sense as printing this propaganda on Cheerios cereal boxes. Not everyone eats Cheerios and fewer still read the box.

Canadians are not stupid. It is not difficult to see that this government is more interested in promoting itself than assisting veterans. Who benefits from increasing advertising by $4 million while cutting veterans programs themselves? It’s basically a going out of business advertisement without the bargains.

Fantino defended the spending increase in advertisements as an attempt to communicate directly with veterans. I’m not one to sidestep stupidity but that one seems best left as it was uttered.

I don’t know much about the military but from what I can glean from this government’s actions, veterans are issued TV’s for communication and are without telephones or mail service. I’m a simple man but when I want someone to know something I often use our precarious postal service or pick up the phone. But then Canadians wouldn’t see what a great job the conservatives are actually not doing. If this government was doing a fair job they wouldn’t have to figure out ways of confusing Canadians.

Spending $ 103,649.00 on promoting Tweets does little good to veterans who haven’t a Twitter account. This government is more interested in reaching out to those who haven’t yet been betrayed. You’re an idiot if you need 144 characters to message a hero. It is unfortunate for all Canadians that we are lead to believe by this government more than we are led.

We just passed a huge tribute to World War 1. The same heart that took Vimy, stormed Dieppe and battled Afghanistan. We mustn’t pay tribute only to one conflict or simply the fallen. It is a slap in the face to others who withstood and endured. The conservative answer to selflessness is self promotion and pitiful politics. We must support these brave men and women whenever and wherever they need a hand. We do not leave these men and women injured in the field of battle but we are doing just that at home. It is the epitome of disrespect and I am ashamed that the conservative government thinks more of self promotion than the sacrifices these individuals have made. The blind can see and they can also vote.

For further reading search my blog for “A Disservice To Common Sense.”

This Is What Stigma Looks Like

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Manitoba’s senior federal cabinet minister Shelly Glover seems to think her expertise extends to and should influence decisions made by a Review Board. I Googled Shelly Glover and noticed discriminatory dimples but no association, affiliation or education regarding mental health let alone forensic mental health. She doesn’t appear to be a lawyer, a psychiatrist or anyone who might be informed enough to comment on a decision made by a Review Board. Like the other politicians who have jumped on the decision her only qualification appears to be ignorance and stigma. Stigma is everywhere but when it becomes entrenched in a political party its effects shift from being individual to being systemic and collective.

MP Shelly Glover is a patrol sergeant with the Winnipeg Police Service on leave to promote conservative rhetoric. I’m assuming when she was working she left the application of justice to experts. She seems to have not been involved in the arrest of Vincent Li and I can see no formal footing to involve herself now. It is politically advantageous to stick her nose where it doesn’t belong but it is a public disservice. Her words are stigma. I rather doubt Shelly Glover had much to say to crown attorneys, judges and psychiatrists when she knew her job. Her influence as a police officer was to gather and present evidence. As a police officer she served everyone not her specific ideas, interpretations and in this case miscalculations.

The Manitoba government, specifically Premier Greg Selinger said he is opposed to the decisions made by the Review Board. Mr. Selinger made his comments from Toronto where he was attending an energy conference. We need experts like Greg Selinger here in Ontario. We need politicians with enough knowledge and expertise in energy matters that we can also call on to question complicated medical and legal proceedings.

These politicians are tripping over themselves to denounce a single extraordinary case not because of any failings in the rehabilitation of Mr. Li but to garner votes. Unfortunately, many Canadians are as informed as Stephen Harper, Peter McKay, Shelly Glover, and Greg Selinger. One day politicians will do what is useful for Canadians rather than their political aspirations. If these individuals cared about stigma, mental health or even justice, they would calm constituents rather than rally their misconceptions and ignorance into political gain.

Discrimination can be policies, ideas, practices and laws. Mr. Li has a mental disability. He has schizophrenia. How we view and adjudicate to Mr. Li is not only an act towards him but an act towards his illness. Mr. Li’s crime was disturbing but we must step to the side of our reactions and separate the individual from the illness. We can see the crime but we must recognize what is a symptom. A symptom is not a choice and guilt is not the act but the act of knowing. It has been proven Mr. Li could not appreciate the nature of the act. When we can recognize the symptom it enables us to see the person.

Mr. Li has been receiving comprehensive and intense treatment from a multidisciplinary team for 6 years. It is possible that he has improved to the point where small privileges and freedoms do not present a risk to the public. Hundreds of others have progressed in the same way. The circumstances of a crime have no bearing on the effects of rehabilitation. If the disturbing circumstances influence or interfere with rehabilitation it must also hold true that the non-disturbing circumstances also influence and interfere with rehabilitation. The time, location or even what a person was wearing must also influence rehabilitation.

Justice Minister Peter MacKay is quick to point out his involvement with victim groups. Has he ever met with anyone found Not Criminally Responsible? Has he ever sat down with their families? When a government is making laws around any issue it is our right as citizens that the entire situation is considered. There are few votes among the individuals and families who are linked to the accused. The Conservative government must recognize that justice is not politics. Justice is not a vote.

Desiderantes meliorem patriam

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I understand the attraction to re-election but I’m growing tired of the Conservative government advertising to me.

I sometimes skip the news so you could even be doing a good job Mr. Prime Minister but I find it astonishing that everything you do wrong can’t be uncovered by the fourth estate whereas when a job surfaces all I can see is some pension prone Conservative grinning in front of flags and microphones. The words I hear from this government remind me of tuna. They’re both out of a can.

Why should a government advertise to its citizens that they’re doing a good job? Shouldn’t we know that without being influenced by propaganda? Forty-two thousand seven hundred and eighty nine military personnel died fighting to end a system that advertised to its citizens. Outside of that insult to all Canadians, it simply appears stupid. If anyone else spent as much time and energy telling their employer that they’re doing their job they would be fired. I’m surprised we don’t have road construction crews carrying signs with the prime minister’s picture on them. Without those “Action Plan” signs I never would have figured the government was working on highway 401. I would have just assumed it was Communist China. They do that don’t they?

I’d like to roll over and just let you and your cronies figure out what’s best for you but that’s what the Senate is for…please Stephen, not on the green carpet. If you worried less about the next election and just did your job you would have more signs to put up and you could use the money you saved cutting low-income co-operative housing to purchase more TV commercials to tell us about the Conservative Action Plan.

If you don’t know what to do with yourself when you stop covering your ass, try reading the Latin on the Canadian Coat of Arms. Desiderantes meliorem patriam; they desire a better country.