Occupy Vancouver has lost credibility

Written by Brian Revel on November 5th, 2011

I am really disappointed and angry that I must even have to write this entry.

After a heroin overdose at the Occupy Vancouver site earlier this week, today marks a death, apparently from another overdose. The first turn of events underscored my own tepid support for the OV movement. Defiance of the request of the fire department to clean up the site made my support that much cooler.

This death signals the end.

The Occupy Wall Street, or OWS, movement is one that is firmly based on the economic and political injustices that the current corporate structures and systems are waging on ordinary people.

The OWS is the start of an unstoppable awakening that is taking place across the United States by Americans that their government, their economic system, are at odds with them. Especially in the United States, no matter where you turn, no matter how you try to limit your exposure to big business, corporate interests have either skewed or else completely corrupted the system.

There is not a single sliver of American society and its economy that has not been touched by a corporate agenda, corporate interest, or even corporate largesse.

There has been a withering plaint from Wall Street that these ‘ruffians’ have no cohesive message, that they have no specific demands. The simplistic conclusion is that they are capitalist-hating socialists. While there may be a few dyed-in-the-wool socialists among them, most- if not the overwhelming majority of them- are actually capitalist. What else do they truly know?

My guess is that they want the current corporate structures and systems dismantled so corporate actors have as much sway on public policy as religion, or the environmental movement, or even the ballot box- if you can imagine!

Quite honestly, in principle, they are not asking for much. There was a time when corporate interests were just another piece in the jigsaw puzzle. That time was before Charles Erwin Wilsons infamous 1953 quote, “Whats good for GM is good for America“.

How hard would it be to simply go back to a time when corporations were actually accountable to the society they were created to improve? If you ask me, it is indeed possible to establish Rousseau’s Social Contract between society and the corporations. The OWS is a focal point in the awakening of the American consciousness to achieve that goal.

And from the OWS movement in New York City, came dozens of Occupy movements across the United States and others in foreign lands too. While things arent quite as bad in other places, such as the U.K. or even here in Canada, there is still plenty enough to lament and hence to protest.

Significant protests have grown across the globe. In London, senior clergy have resigned at St. Paul’s Cathedral because of harsh reactions to protestors peaceful actions. Protestors effectively shut down the port in Oakland California during their general strike this past week.

News of physical clashes with police are becoming commonplace- if you know where to find the reports- underscoring that the establishment is getting both weary of these pesky gnats endlessly demonstrating as well as beginning to understand that these same demonstrators are out for long-term and significant change.

The stakes are getting higher with every passing day and with every violent confrontation instigated by security forces, acting in defence of the status quo.

And then there is the protest here in Vancouver.

The Occupy Vancouver version was particularly symbolic, in part, because Vancouver is the birthplace of Greenpeace- the Mother of all Occupy movements. More importantly, it was here in Vancouver that the whole idea was floated. I so wanted the Occupy Vancouver protest to be worthy of Kalle Lasn’s Adbusters call to action.

But on the OV’s first weekend, on a sunny Saturday, when thousands of people came together to stand up and be counted, wanting and wishing this to be the moment for change, I couldnt help but look over the list of speakers and feel a sense of derision. Yes, there were some very credible voices in the line up- among them, an old grad school friend of mine, Seth Klein of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

But almost the rest was a shopping list of pro-drug activists ranging from Marc Emery protégés, to screechy blow-hards like Betty Krawczyk.

Honestly, if that is the best that we can produce in Vancouver as high-profile speakers at a moment when change is in the offing, then clearly, when Mr. Lasn called for 20,000 people to descend on Wall Street, even he knew it was pretty futile to expect that kind of traction here in Vancouver. And sure enough, the thousands who turned out for the OV weekend in October are gone. They’re gone because the protest does not represent them.

I do think that this protest has been different from many we have seen in the past. Yes, homelessness is a long-standing issue here. Yes, there is the question of the permanence of food banks and why they are necessary. Yes, we have seen a significant decline in the quality of life in the region in my lifetime. And Ill even admit that yes, there is a need to do something different regarding the laws around marijuana and services to overcome addictions.

But what good will, whatever kind of message, or messages, the protesters were trying to advance here in Vancouver, they were all undermined by the heroin overdose. They were utterly wiped from the consciousness of the city by the death.

I do not presume to be able to pronounce exactly what the protests are aiming to achieve but I can say this: Whatever the point of Occupy Vancouver, anarchy is certainly not it. Personal self-destruction, or the enabling of such action, is most definitely not one of its goals. That the Occupy Vancouver movement has not distanced itself from drug abuse is a serious flaw.

Then enabling the behaviour by saying that it was good the first overdose took place at the OV site rather than in the DTES, is so wrong on so many levels.

In reports following the first overdose, the medic who saved the persons life apparently had the gaul to say that the person was safer in the camp than in the DTES because help was at hand. This kind of justification-after-the-fact is appalling.

It turns out that the INSITE clinic is in the heart of the DTES.

Taxpayers have paid millions both fighting and defending the clinic. To the consternation of conservatives everywhere, the burgers of this fair city overwhelmingly support its existence and its goals. It is there, in all its glory, in the DTES, so that people dont overdose and if they do, there is someone there to get them to safety.

So to that medic: Do not even try to guilt Vancouverites over the overdose… and you’d do best by keeping your mouth shut over this death.

That one overdose not only undermined the OV movement, the person responsible for the overdose, and that would be the addict- nobody else-singularly destroyed the credibility of the occupation. The medic merely added yet another layer of guilt onto the addict’s emtional pain, and managed to insult everyone else in the process.

And now the death. After some petulant adolescent temper-tantrum defiance over the fire department’s request to remove tarps for their own safety, after the enabling drug use in the camp we now learn of someone else dying, by her own hands, of yet another overdose.

And because of this, the Occupy Vancouver movement is dead. Anybody with a brain will move on. There will be other times.

Meanwhile, Occupy Wall Street, with its high goals and aspirations, with its focus of purpose and its presence of mind, will prevail. It has already made the financial world stop and watch it play out in Liberty Square Park and it will inspire successes worldwide.It will achieve a change in the dialogue between world leaders at the very least. But sadly, it will go on without the Occupy Vancouver movement.

I desperately wanted this not to be just another quasi-loser-anarchist squatter-fest on the steps of the Art Gallery manifested by a bunch of misguided idealists suffering from Stockholm Syndrome and fighting for the wrong side of humanity. But despite the efforts of a few focused activists whose intentions were right, that is what it has become. That is all this is, here in Vancouver.

And by the way, where are those focused activists now?  And where are the thousands who came out on that sunny October weekend to make change happen?

We can’t even get our protests right.

This is no time to score political points, Suzanne Anton. The less you say, the better.

By the same token, we dont need the police to clean this up: juse shut off the power, Gregor Robertson.

By next Friday, except for a few die-hard stragglers, they’ll have simply packed up and left.


Occupying Wall Street

Written by Brian Revel on October 12th, 2011

I honestly don’t know how many people read this blog and quite honestly, given how infrequently I post, I’m not all that surprised. But I do want to say this:

The Occupy Wall Street movement that is slowly gaining steam in New York City is the change that I have been anticipating for much of my lifetime.

I have warned that a ‘revolution’ is coming. But on the other hand, I have called for change. I admit I have vacillated between embracing a world where the corporate agenda has lost its influence and ‘selling out’ to secure my economic future.

The revolution is upon us. It won’t be a Storming of the Bastille sort of revolution- or so I still hope. It’s going to be organic and more peaceful a la Gandhi; it will be in the numbers of participants, rather than in any violence that the change will take place.

Indeed, it will gain moral strength with every act of violence committed by those defending the status quo. Sadly, the defenders of the status quo is the role the New York Police Department is fated to play out.

REAL, deep and profound change doesn’t happen with a convenient sound bite or even a speech.

It happens because people vote with their feet. It may seem that what they are doing is unfocused right now. But as people slowly realize that their economic interests are being compromised by forces beyond their control and that all they have to do is stop what they’re doing and assemble to be counted, the momentum for change will accelerate.

We are not yet anywhere near a critical mass for spontaneous ‘revolution’ but I cannot help but keep my eye on this movement. Hell, I might even get on a plane and fly to New York to go see what is happening for myself. Seriously. This is the real thing.

Are we at all surprised it’s happening now? The largest demographic in the American population is the kids of baby boomers. They are unemployed, endebted and mad as hell. They see their parents retirement dreams vaporized. Their futures appear condemned to a losing battle against organizations that get rights but bear no responsibility for their actions. They see injustice everywhere and they have the time on their hands to affect the change they need to rebalance the wrongs.

And they make their flower-power parents look like kids making daisy chains in their sophistication and connectedness. To the establishment, they are truly dangerous and the first management tool to diffuse their frustration is extinguishment: to simply ignore them.

Clearly that is not working.

I have said many a time to people that I don’t believe that the China we are seeing right now is going to last: China has a history of being a very insular society- and the disparity between the rich and the poor is going to unleash a revolution that will inevitably turn China in on itself.

However, despite wishing for change on our shores, I did not see this coming- and I must say I am relieved to see it happening: The People of the United States are starting to wake up. They are starting to realize that no matter what they do, they lose in any equation that involves the government and corporate interests; that the economic disparity has become untenable, that they ARE the government so they can do something about it.

They are starting to foment and beginning to recognize the wisdom of the revolutionary values that made the United States the democratic and economic shining light for the rest of the world. There is hope for all of us after all.

For decades, I have not been able to reconcile two very different futures with the present reality: Is it going to be a socialist revolution or an Orwellian corporate agenda? Neither seemed possible as Americans are absolutely anathema to the former and yet the latter is completely unsustainable.

Today I realized there is a third way: The de-corporatization of capitalism in the United States: the return of the small-town shop-keeper. It is the kind of capitalism that actually employs people. It is small and it is humanist. It is simple and it is a more modest form of economic well-being that made the United States a great and prosperous country. And that modest strain of capitalism is about to begin anew.

The ‘Great Burnt Souffle‘ of American Corporate Capitalism is collapsing as the inflated paper value of the American economy slowly diminishes to the actual value of the destroyed assets that exist there today.

To get to that real value, it is going to take ten years. Using the words of the outgoing regime, we are going to experience ten years of “stagnant growth” while inflation eats up debt and the market absorbs trillions of dollars in paper losses.

But swing the pendulum will and out of the ashes of this gargantuan collapse is going to be America’s “new economy”: small, local, very hands-on but one that is above all, solid and tangible. Hard work will reap rewards; a person’s word is as good as a contract. Where “stagnant growth” will be seen to be an anachronism, if it is not viewed actually as a good thing.

Derivatives will be a long-forgotten term as economics will once again become a simple equation of supply and demand. Suppliers will have personal relationships with their customers. They will ask after their families because they will actually care. They will have to if they want their customers’ business.

And consumers will be careful with their money because they will have to be. There won’t be a lot to spare. But what money there is, will be hard currency- the foundation of a renewed, stable, and durable economy.

It is an economy and civil society where the middle class once again reigns and the corporate elite is shuttled off to Nantucket to live out their days reminiscing of personal business jets and far-flung beach-front resorts they can no longer afford.

If you believe my prediction to be naive and romantic, hold up a mirror: your belief reflects just how jaded you too have become in a world that is corrupted beyond recognition. Believe that this change is possible and this change will become possible.

Change is coming. Finally. And once again, the United States will be the democratic and economic shining light for the rest of the world.

If you are in the United States of America, will you be ready?

If you are on the outside as I am, how far are you willing to go to follow their lead?


An Open Letter to Boston

Written by Brian Revel on June 16th, 2011


Found at the Georgia and Granville corner of The Bay

I am Sorry


The hours following game seven of the Stanley Cup final in Vancouver were sad ones to say the least.

As a bystander- quite honestly, professional sports leave me a bit cold- I went down to Georgia Street adjacent to the Rogers Arena to watch the people, some 100,000 of them, there to watch the game on massive TV screens erected in the middle of the street. It started out to be simply lots of people having a good time on one of the city’s first pleasant, warm, and dry evenings of the year.

I am sorry to say this but win or lose, the anarchy came as no surprise. Despite the almost-bucolic reputation we have here in the Pacific Northwest, sadly there are a few among us who are bound and determined to destroy what good can come out of community spirit and we have seen it here all too often in the past.

By contrast, the 2010 Winter Olympics were a success from a community-building standpoint here in fair VanCity and so some no doubt were hoping, maybe even pretending, that this rogue bunch would simply stay home this time too.

Alas, that was not to be.

And so, instead of celebrating sport, and celebrating a really exciting play-off series between to very closely matched teams and covering your own beloved Bruins and their fans celebrating their win, CNN had to go live to cover the anarchists, the idiots, the jerks, the looters, the drunken losers, and the fifteen-seconds-of-fame seekers (none of them rioters, really), who wreaked meaningless and wonton destruction here, as cars burned and riot police did what they could in the presence of thousands of YouTube and Facebook posting cell phones. It brought shame upon our city and dishonour to our team.

Where they come from I cannot say. But for all of us who live in the Lower Mainland- what we call the region that surrounds and includes the city of Vancouver- we must own this sad fact: these louts come from our communities: they are our relatives, our friends, our neighbours, our classmates and work colleagues- they are known personally by others who do not share their shameful behaviour. These losers represent no-one but themselves and in doing so they do nobody proud.

I honestly hope that those who do recognize them report them to the police so that they may have their day in court. Looking to the future, how we stop this aberrant behaviour before it starts is a gargantuan task- one that starts with education certainly- and is a task that me must pursue.

But that discussion is for another time. And what happened last night, was last night.

Cleaning up the smoke damage at The Bay from cars that had been set on fire.

Canucks fans clean smoke damage from The Bay

Today, I am happy to report, Vancouver is righting its ship. True fans and real citizens came out in the hundreds, maybe even the thousands, to clean up after these losers. It is their actions, their outlook that speaks for this little corner of God’s Green Earth. Their words too, as you can see in the photos I include.

Written on the plywood boards erected to cover the broken windows of several stores, including the Hudson’s Bay Company, Sears, the Future Shop and Chapters (our version of Barnes and Noble), were thousands of notes illuminating the enduring positive spirit that cuts through darkness. There is expressed love of the Canucks, love of this city, appreciation of the Vancouver Police and Fire Departments, and those who were volunteering to clean up. Other notes condemn the actions of those few, while still others plead with the world to see past this embarrassing episode.

But it was one particular note I read, written on the plywood window cover on ‘The Bay’ at the corner of Georgia and Granville Streets that inspired me to write this letter to the Boston Globe. It is the first one in the series of photos I am sending to you.

It is important for Bostonians to know that what they saw on CNN last night, instead of their Bruins celebrating their win, was not the real Vancouver- and that the sentiments written on these boards that would otherwise be seen only in Vancouver, are shared with those who were equally affected by the shameful acts of a despicable few.

The message that inspired me to write this, reads:

I am sorry to you Boston. This should be your time to party and cheer but the world is on Vancouver for the hooligans who did this. Love you all. To hockey fans, God bless you. Boston, good job Boston. We are sorry. – Barnett McIntyre

Signing the Board

Signing the Board

As these boards filled with signatures underscore, Vancouver is a city fuelled by passion- young, brash, and unbridled- not just for the city itself but for its sports teams.

Both passions were disgraced last night and so in the spirit of reconciliation- and I hope I speak for all Vancouverites when I write this to all Bostonians- it is our hope that good can come of this; that those who came out to condemn and clean up after the actions of a pathetic few can translate this spirit into something positive and long-lasting…

… so that next year, should the Boston Bruins and the Vancouver Canucks play in the Stanley Cup playoff finals again, the end result will be a celebration of sport: no matter who wins the cup.

Congratulations on your win, Boston Bruins. You are this year’s champions of the National Hockey League.

Now let’s celebrate what was a successful season for both our teams.


Some thoughts on the the 2011 Election

Written by Brian Revel on May 3rd, 2011

This is an historic night. Everybody says so but… “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose“. Here are a few observations I’ll put out there for perpetuity.

In the short term:
Conservative Majority, NDP Official Opposition, Liberal rump, Bloc evisceration, Green breakthrough.

Party breakdown:
Conservative Party
With a majority, the Conservatives are going to be able to implement their agenda, whatever that truly is. With 5 years of minority rule, the Tories have seen their agenda moulded- gnarled- by the pressures of the other parties.

We will see the budget passed. We will see the new fighter jets. We will see the new prisons. We will see their economic and social agenda unfold.

In truth, in all honesty, nobody except Jason Kenny, Stephen Harper and a few others really know what that is.

Liberal Party
It had to take a virtually total collapse of the party to finally get to work to clean out the rot and corruption that has accumulated over the decades. There has been for a very, very long time a sense of entitlement, a sense of glorification of the pinnacle in Canadian government- the tenure of Sussex Drive but the membership has long been ignored by the party elites.

With the rise to power of “Mr. Dithers” Paul Martin and the unprecedented McCarthy-like witch hunts to push out those who were not in agreement (lock-step) with Martin- and there are thousands of them- heavyweights all- on the sidelines making the party a mere shadow of its former self.

Ignatieff will be gone in the next six weeks while the tiny caucus scrambles around trying to figure out what the hell they can do with no money and no resources. It is going to be a very painful and quiet caucus room while they try to get their feet under themselves.

Bloc Québécois
Gilles Duceppe is gone. The BQ is in serious trouble. While the Parti Québécois just re-affirmed the leadership of Pauline Marois, I would expect that Duceppe will be shadowing her, making her life quite a challenge.

Don’t count out the separatists though…. things are calm on the separatist front for now. But the moment that the Conservatives, based in the West and Toronto start to do things that piss off Quebeckers and the NDP stumbles or fails to speak wholeheartedly for the traditional Quebec-first view, separatism will be back stronger than ever.

Green Party
The beach head has been established. The Green Party now has exactly half of the seats the Conservative Party had in 1993.

Finally, Canadians might have an opportunity to see exactly how a Green Party might look like and how it might operate. It is full to the brim of passionate but incredibly naive volunteers. Their campaign in my riding where former leader Adrienne Carr ran was hokey and completely out of synch with the electorate: Driving around on Davie Street in a glorified golf cart just doesn’t cut it with us.

The Greens sound very left-wing but I am under the understanding that elsewhere they are quite right-wing. The traditional ‘green’ and ‘labour’ vote are tied in Canada through the coalition that is the NDP- more on that in a moment. Consequently it will be very interesting to see Elizabeth May, their now sole MP and party leader begin the tightrope walk toward growth.

New Democratic Party
Declaration of Full Disclosure: I am a former provincial BC NDP candidate who ran against the now-premier of British Columbia, former federal riding association president and one who fell heavily out of the NDP when I ran and lost in the nomination race to represent the party in the 2004 election. I am not yet aligned with any political party but my stale inside view of the NDP will no doubt show itself in this commentary.

The NDP made massive, massive gains tonight in Quebec. Outsiders will view that as a huge gain for Canada and a diminishment of the sovereignty movement in Quebec. Do not fool yourselves.

The up and coming days, weeks and months will be very telling. Will the NDP be able to grow up? The heartland of the NDP lies on the Prairies where there is a natural antipathy to Quebec and its own aspirations. As a federal NDPer years ago, I long advocated that the NDP work to increase its french content in its printed materials and work to be more inclusive of the few precious francophone members we had in the party. My exhortations fell essentially on deaf ears. My sense is that not much has changed since then.

Today, there is now a huge divide in the party. The long-term base of the party resides in Ontario and the West while the overwhelming majority of the caucus now comes from Quebec. The party is now stretched literally a mile-wide and an inch-deep with its real depth in the wrong places. Kinda like having a pear-shaped body but an hourglass-shaped shadow. Somehow, this strange coalition isn’t going to work out very well.

The federal party is often considered to be the runt-child of the provincial parties and so it will be interesting to see how Jack Layton and his new team are able to muscle up and command a place at the party’s ‘grown-up’ table.

Recently in the province of British Columbia the provincial leader was pushed aside and there were a lot of hard feelings over that move. The 13 MLAs (Members of the Legislative Assembly) who forced her to step down were vilified and that reflects the naiveté that exists within the party as well. NDPers see themselves as different. They think they are better than regular politicians but in fact they are just as bad.

Dirty politics exist in the NDP too and as the federal party grows up and becomes more vulnerable to scrutiny, as it starts to make compromises in the drive to form government, self-riteous self-impressions won’t stand up to reality and there are going to be a lot of disappointed run-of-the-mill party members. The base will be shaken.

In all, I think the NDP will have peaked in this election and will drop to third-party status in the next election: there is just too much that could go wrong. It’s either, let go of the rush to be the government or else implode from the centre. The latter is unthinkable in a political movement like the NDP.

Medium to Long Term
Give Parliament nine months to two years to settle into a more predictable pattern…. where messages get rehashed over and over again… when track records start to build up and the pressures of monotony and limitations start to pen the new dynamics in.

You’ll start to see then how things will start to shake down leading up to the next election in 2015.

Here are a couple of longer-term scenarios I’ll predict now.

1. The Conservatives will entrench themselves and will become the ‘governing party’ for at least the next 15 years. It is going to take that long for the various opposition parties to either fizzle out or merge to create a behemoth large enough to take on the Conservative machine.

2. The BQ will fizzle out. No big bang… just nothing. The three BQ voices in the House of Commons will be whispers in the wilderness while the NDPs massive voice in Quebec drowns them out. But again take note: they’ll fizzle but while the flame is out, the wick… or fuse… is still there. It will take something very small to ignite that flame again. Considering Quebeckers are generally socially progressive and the new Conservative government is generally socially conservative, I expect that the sovereignty question will once again arise except this time over social values. I expect Quebec nationalism to be an issue perhaps not in the next federal election but most definitely in the subsequent one.

3. The Conservatives will start to show their Reform Party roots by about year two. Just as the Mike Harris Government showed in Ontario its “Common Sense Revolution” loses direction, the Jacobites will be at play and common sense will become ideological, rather than practical. Backbenchers will be flexing their frustrated muscle and Harper will be expending a lot of political capital to keep his wayward ducks in a row. This will feed quite naturally into the opposition parties.

Despite this, the Conservatives will win a second majority although ‘democracy’ in Ottawa will be in severely short supply. To keep all his wayward ducks in a row, Harper will have had to clamp down heavily on all aspects of government and Parliament will be on the verge of exploding.

This is not going to be a pleasant 41st Parliament. It is going to be divisive and mean spirited. Mostly because Harper will have to tightly control all information that flows through all of Parliament. The Auditor General will even have a hard time to get information needed to do audits by year three.

The $2.00 per vote subsidy to all the political parties will be discontinued, causing the opposition parties, especially the underfunded Liberals to howl and scream blood murder. But this will be the one measure that will eventually be the downfall of the Conservative run as government at about the time I retire in old age.

4. The Green Party is going to go one of two ways: it will either grow exponentially à la Barack Obama’s “We Can” campaign and radically shake the fringes of Parliament in the next election or else it will prove itself incapable of waging what will essentially be a war against the Conservatives, the NDP and the Liberals. The Conservatives with their majority are going to do things that are completely anathema to the Greens. The NDP already has a significant stake in the environmental movement in Canada and the Liberals, famous for usurping other party’s platforms, will be jockeying for any attention it can get. Elizabeth May certainly has her work cut out for her!

5. The NDP, as I mentioned, will be stretched very thin and very quickly. Tensions within the party will start to fester as the momentum near the top of the party will pull the party toward the centre while its base, tantalizingly close to power will start to demand its historic platform be brought forward. Canadians have no appetite for things like nationalized banks or having free transportation a right. Furthermore, Manitoba and Saskatchewan are the exceptions to this rule: the NDP governments in BC and in Ontario have both been thrown out for mismanagement of the economy.

Shell games are what the NDP are known for and as much as they strive to achieve gains, I have a small nagging feeling that the party will implode over these strains. The commentators are wondering if this is going to be the beginning of a long run as official opposition for the NDP…. my gut thinks not. Two Parliaments and that’s about all the electorate are going to be able to take.

The age-old question of “the Greenies” versus “the Brownies” will pull the party into horrible contortions. This debate within the party is over which takes precedence: the environment with the cost of natural resource-based jobs or employment in the forests and mines to the detriment of the environment.

It is THE question that hangs heavily over the party. With the emergence of the Green Party as a potentially real force in Canadian politics, will the environmentalists abandon the NDP and set up shop with Elizabeth May and the Greens?

Also, on a very sober note, ALL of the electoral success of the NDP tonight is as a result of the leader, Jack Layton. Unfortunately, he is not the healthiest of leaders, undergoing treatment for cancer… I expect he will either have to retire or else he will not survive more than one more election. Of course, I hope he does survive but reality is reality. Should the unthinkable happen, what then? On this point, the crystal ball goes completely dark and because of that shadow, I cannot give a completely positive prognosis of the party’s gains tonight- if nothing else but because of Mr Layton’s health.

6. The Liberals are on life support as of tonight. No question. However, the heart of the Liberal Party lies in Quebec and Quebec politics is anything but stale. As much as the base of the NDP out West will be dissatisfied with the efforts of its elected officials based in Quebec, so too will the riding associations in Quebec be at odds with the long-time traditions of the CCF-NDP. Tommy Douglas, a demi-god on the Prairies in certain quarters is simply not known in Quebec. These soft-federalist/nationalists, but resoundingly socially progressive folks will be searching out yet a new vehicle to advance their cause in Ottawa and the Liberal Party, les Rouges, will be there, with their deep history in the province ready to represent them.

As Stephen Harper continues to clamp down on information, on MPs on Parliament, there is going to be a clear desire for change leading up to the next election. But the party won’t be ready to capture that sentiment. It will regain Official Opposition status as of the next election and probably retake government in about 2020.

But let’s be honest: it’s money that talks. When the ‘coalition’ that supported Harper and the Conservatives begin to shut out all the other monied folk in the country, a country where pork-barrelling is a way of life for capitalists and industrialists, there will be a need for the Liberal Party once again. For all their moving to the centre, the NDP certainly won’t be looking to bring big-business into its bosom and so big business will be looking for someone else.

Additionally, I mentioned above that the $2.00 subsidy to political parties will be the long-term undoing of the Conservative run in government. Right now, donations to political parties are limited to very small amounts as the parties are essentially funded by the number of votes they receive in an election. This is a very serious fetter for those who could go out and get more donations.

Because the Liberals are in such a mess, there are not very many donors who are willing to give to the party so it is living off that $2.00 subsidy. The subsidy will end just as the party becomes a credible, viable force again and donations by capitalists / industrialists eager to have their moment of glory at the feeding trough and eager to keep the socialists out of government will start emptying their wallets into the Liberal party coffers….. but again that will take time.

So the Liberal Party will have to do a complete house cleaning. Much of the rot is recent: less than 10 years old. The party is going to have to renew itself genuinely and work to attract its traditional base back.

* * *

One caveat to much of this: I do not have a strong read on the ‘youth’ and its direction. The next generation of voters, is even larger than the baby-boomers and are just coming of age to get active and to vote. They will have a significant impact on the future elections- impact that my generation didn’t have because we simply weren’t big enough (I’m part of the “bust” that followed the “boom”) so I don’t even have a good grasp on their potential. They are much more ecologically sensitive on the one hand but much less ideological about how to achieve those goals on the other.

Is there such thing as an eco-Conservative? I doubt it. But then again, will they vote Green, NDP, a pro-business greenish Liberal Party, a merged NDP and Liberal parties, or a mixture of all three? Or will they go Conservative by in large to ensure economic growth and jobs for all?

Only time will tell.

For me personally, I am very disappointed in the results tonight. I am not a Conservative / conservative. I am wary of the this brand of Conservatism and would not trust Stephen Harper with my iPhone and wallet- not because he’d take the money but because he’d take the phone, have a subroutine programmed into it to monitor my absolutely everything- and use it against me for the slightest transgression…. like jaywalking… and have me thrown into the new prison he’d just built.

I am a former NDPer… but I am also a former federal Liberal. In a very strange sort of way, I take comfort in knowing that I am exactly in the NDP and Liberal divide. I am a right-leaning NDPer and a left-leaning Liberal. It is going to be a very interesting time for people like me. Will I finally have a political home or will the sands shift such that I am completely left out of either?

But the election is done. We have a majority and Stephen Harper will finally be able to shape this country with his palate of colours. Our democracy is amazing and the voters have proven once again that the pundits are just goofs most of the time. As a pundit of sorts myself, I am humbled by what I saw tonight.

Fortunately, tomorrow the cows will still produce milk.

And life goes on.


Party Memberahip Fraud

Written by Brian Revel on February 9th, 2011

When will partisans of all stripes learn that signing other people up without their consent or worse, their knowledge, is wrong? What about pets?

Membership brokering sounds perfectly fine and normal but what it really is, is pimping hapless bystanders as a commodity.  It is a perversion and corruption of the democratic process. And it is wrong.

Full stop.

But what has piqued me enough to add my two cents worth is about Craig Bonner, the WHL Kamloops Blazers junior hockey team general manager who, as a result of a ‘communication error’ signs up the team to the Liberal Party of British Columbia.

Justifying such fraud by saying that it’s an “opportunity” for people aged 14 and up to participate in electing the next premier is unacceptable. If my hockey coach had signed me up for a membership in anything, much less a political party, without my consent I’d have his derrière in court.

And to call it a “communication error”, is disingenuous to say the least. Kevin Falcon’s spin-meisters toiled long into the night to come up with that one. There was no “error”. Mr. Bonner deliberately, and knowingly, penned his players’ names to specific forms that state that they are membership forms to the BC Liberal Party. He presumably signed their signatures and appended the $10.00 in their name to have them added as members. Yup, it wasn’t an “error”. Looks like “fraud” to me.

Now, having been caught out, he’s asked that all the names be withdrawn. But what if one of the players actually wants to be a member now. Are they blacklisted?

If the Chief Electoral Officer doesn’t investigate, then the RCMP should.

Kevin Falcon was not aware of the misdeed. I am certain that Christy Clark wasn’t aware that someone’s cat had signed on to her team. But Adrian Dix and Mike De Jong actively negotiated mass memberships with “brokers” from ethnic communities. While all of it is bad politics, the latter two are guilty of completely crossing the line.

Call it “mistakes” by overzealous campaigners. It doesn’t matter. I don’t hold the candidates themselves responsible but it certainly underscores the depths to which partisans will go to put their preferred candidate to the fore. Sadly, the relative moral ground upon which these leaders operate has its foundations in the membership who, as it turns out is no better than them.