Thursday, April 18, 2013


There is one thing that sets a democracy apart from all other worlds, that makes it ‘better’. It is the thing that keeps public officials accountable, citizens informed. It is the one institution to which anyone should be able to turn for information, for guidance, for knowledge that is not shackled, that is unbiased and untainted. It is an institution that has caused corrupt governments to crumble and that has lifted hope for hundreds for generations. It is the institution that carries the most intense, civically-responsible load, and is vital to the health and growth of society.

Sadly, this responsibility falls on the press pool, and apparently this is a pool no one else would want to swim in, because it has been thoroughly pissed in. Yes, yellow journalism lives, abounds, and is not a small concern.

Ironically, journalism was my first calling. I wanted to help break the stories of corruption, to bring the stories of hope and strength, of human perseverance. I wanted to be the vessel that carries information – verified, accurate, true, unbiased information – to the people who needed to know facts in order to make the decisions that impact their daily lives. I wanted to make a difference, in an arena where no one could spin their own agenda, because the integrity of the press was sacred – no politician could buy us, no business could control our words, no thug intimidate us or keep us from printing reporting the truth.

Most people don’t know of my dream to become a reporter. It’s something I definitely don’t brag about, because I am completely ashamed to want to associate with an institution that now feeds off misery for a headline, who reports inane celebrity crap as a breaking news story that impacts my life, that ignores all precepts and practices of being a voice for the people by selling out to political agendas. There should be NO political agenda with any journalist. The individual’s political leaning should not enter into their reporting at all, just as a teacher’s religious leanings should not color the lessons they offer to their students. If they want to participate in religious or political agendas, they are more than welcome to when they are not wearing their professional hats. If they feel they want to lean more towards supporting a candidate, they are welcome to, but they should then make that their profession.

At what point did it become okay for news channels to ‘take sides’, reporting only what they want, that supports their agenda, only in a light that benefits that agenda? When did it become okay to sell out to politicians, to the political agenda, leaving principles and morals in the ditch? The media plays a critical role in our society, tending to everyone’s needs, impartially, because in order for democracy to work, that is required. Balance for all sides of a story are required, and in fact are the sole responsibility of the press. It is what they signed on it do. If they want to beat a particular drum, they should do it at their own expense, not presenting it as truth when it is tainted fruit from a twisted tree. The press should have the balls, and does have the responsibility, to not sell out to political pandering. I am absolutely unable to name any one media outlet who can today, right now, say they are not touting a biased agenda based on ratings, ad sales, corporate sponsorship or political affiliation, and in some cases, all these biases combined.

When did it become okay to celebrate the grief of a community or a nation in order to sell ad space? How can it ever be justified when a microphone is shoved into the face of a grieving family to ask absolutely asinine questions like ‘will you miss him’ or ‘was he a nice boy?’ Is that what we are now reduced to? A society where truth doesn’t matter, because lies and spin are what sell ad space? Let the damned politicians do the spinning – it’s what they are good at, but YOU, the journalists have a fiduciary responsibility, an inherent bond based on unconditional trust, to rise above that spin and report the truth. When did it become okay to report the childish behavior of a pseudo-star as a headline while the starving of a child or the killing of a person is relegated to the middle of the paper, below the fold – the placement a clear indication of their position in society?

Is there no source for verified, unbiased, unspun news anymore? The political climate has become incredibly polarized – because the truth had a price and the media could be bought. News channels and newspapers no longer inform. They instead fan the flames of hatred and fear, promoting the agenda of their puppet masters.

In the last week, we have seen tragedy in Boston, and we have seen reporters offering unverified information as breaking news, choosing the chance of a big scoop over the need to verify with more than one source. (Yes, CNN, I am talking about you, buying into the feeding frenzy of people changing to you as the twitterverse explodes with repeated chirps that you are reporting an arrest). In one case, the report was definitely based on an agenda of promoting fear and hatred (Yes, FOX news, I am talking about you, taking the easy road within hours to point the finger at a Saudi national, while having absolutely no fucking clue what you were talking about. Damn, those pesky fucking details about truth.) Last night, in the wake of a horrific explosion in Texas, even as authorities on site are pleading with media outlets to not speculate on the number of fatalities, the reporters STILL did, actually having the gall to preface it with the acknowledgement that they should not be saying this. Does that make it okay? Not only was it speculated on, it was built on, with absolutely NO foundation, and yes, it was sickening to watch as the speculation grew. (Yes, Rosemary at CNN, this one is directly intended for you!) Last night as the news broke about a fertilizer plant exploding and houses being destroyed in the blast, the media again speculated on why there would be a factory near homes. How frigging ignorant can you possibly be? It has nothing to do with the incident, was totally inappropriate and showed the narrow-mindedness of reporters (Yes, Erin Burnett of CNN) to ask a question that implies publicly that there was some irresponsibility on the part of the town planners, without even knowing the size or layout of the damned town or considering the magnitude of the explosion. It was again an opportunity to look for an angle that didn’t exist, someone to blame, some way to exploit people who are suffering, all for a non-story.

Journalism and the media are the cornerstone of democracy. They are the conduit to the public of what is happening, what they need to know. They have absolutely no business cherry-picking what aspect or angle, and they have no right to exploit the truth for their own agendas, be they political or monetary. Yellow Journalism – the reporting of information that is biased, unverified, or blatantly untrue for the sole purpose of selling the news. Yes, that is ALL we seem to have now. It is why our political system is crumbling, it is why our social structure is now sitting on a fault line. It is why I want nothing to do with the industry. It is an embarrassment, and unless and until they stop selling their scruples for the sake of money, democracy is doomed.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Stephen Harper: A Litany of Sins

Well, it certainly didn’t take Stephen Harper long to start the mud slinging... barely hours, and we’re still two years away from an election. It’s going to be a long damned two years. The interesting thing is what the mud-slinging is about; personal records, trust, experience, qualifications...

Well, Dear Stephen, perhaps you might want to cool your jets a minute, because in the great swamp of life, you are the toad that sits on the rock of deceit. Let us, perhaps, take a stroll through St Stephen’s litany of sins. Better pull on your hip-waders for this one, because it might just blow your socks off.

Let’s start with some of those wonderful little promises and observations you've made over the years.
- "When a government starts trying to cancel dissent or avoid dissent is frankly when it's rapidly losing its moral authority to govern."
- “We don't think as a party that patronage has any place in the Parliament of Canada." (Calgary Herald, March 22, 1995)
- "We don't support any Senate appointments." (Winnipeg Free Press, January 29, 1996)
- "Stephen Harper will cease patronage appointments to the Senate. Only candidates elected by the people will be named to the Upper House." (Stephen Harper Leadership Website, January 15, 2004 – I especially love when he refers to himself in the third person. It’s hawt.)
- "… the Upper House remains a dumping ground for the favoured cronies of the Prime Minister." (Stephen Harper Leadership Website, January 15, 2004)
- "I don't plan to appoint senators; that's not my intention." (Cornwall Standard-Freeholder, January 14, 2006)
- “You've got to remember that west of Winnipeg the ridings the Liberals hold are dominated by people who are either recent Asian immigrants or recent migrants from eastern Canada: people who live in ghettoes and who are not integrated into western Canadian society.” (Report Newsmagazine, January 2001)

That’s enough to give you the drift… no point arguing the rock of lies thing, but read on nonetheless. Now we will venture into the realm of those quippy little scandals, something every journalist craves to uncover if only for the opportunity of the word ‘gate’ -- yes, I was going to call this Harpergate, but I just could not do that to the people of this country. These are in no special order… some he slammed the door on quickly, some he is dragging out in parliament and through the court system, so I figures ‘let’s just throw some shit at the wall and see where it sticks’. I give you The Harper Picasso in Poop, the man elected on the platform of promising accountability and transparency in government.
- Prorogation – Part 1 (to avoid contempt of parliament fallout)
- Prorogation – Part 2 (to avoid NDP/Liberal coalition government)
- Shoe Store Project (2007) – plans for a $2M gov’t controlled media center, run by the PMO to replace the National Press Gallery, run by the national press.
- Julie Couillard Scandal (2007) – Maxime Bernier leaves sensitive NATO documents at ex-girlfriend’s house, a woman with known ties to the Hells Angels
- In and Out Scandal (2007) – Circumnavigation of election finance rules in 2006 election. $230,000 in fines issued for violating spending laws
- Robocalls (2012) – issuing fake, misleading calls to actively interfere with voting public
- ETS Scandal – An IT contract was unfairly awarded to CGI, a known association of Michael Fortier, the then PWGSC Minister in a clear conflict of interest. No fairness monitor was appointed to oversee the process, reported scores by evaluators did not coincide with what they had issued, the evaluation team was advised to destroy all records relating to the evaluation, the government refused to debrief companies that had lost the award, the Canadian International Trade Tribunal ruled against the government, and the government’s response was angry denial and to appoint a new federal crown prosecutor (a former Conservative candidate) to charge the unsuccessful companies involved in the bid process with big-rigging – a charge still unproven but the case continues four years after the fact.
- CFIA (2012) – food inspection services cut, listeriosis outbreak, Minister Gerry Ritz’s tasteless jokes about deaths from outbreak.
- Plagiarizing – Part 1 (2007) plagiarizes Australia’s John Howard’s speech about Iraq
- Plagiarizing – Part 2 (2008) from Ontario Mike Harris’speech
- Repatriation scandal – issues orders that military personnel killed in combat would not receive repatriation attention or coverage and no flags would be at half-mast
- Scrums – all media scrums forbidden. Press statements will be issued when the government feels they are necessary
- Chuck Cadman scandal – bribe for the vote in parliament, then lied under oath about it and the tape evidence of the bribe
- Senior Federal Scientists Gagged – not allowed to speak to media without government permission... still in effect in 2012
- Long-form Census stopped, cutting access to valuable statistics
- Canada Action Plan ad campaign -- $26M taxpayer dollars over 3 months for programs already ended in order to promote conservative party
- Suspended Federal civil servants’ right to strike
- Limiting access of press to PM during election – misusing RCMP to restrict access at private events
- Created a program to monitor and respond to online communications on internet bulletin boards, chatrooms and blog posts
- Omnibus bill to pass non-financial bills with budget, making it impossible to reject pieces of the overall bill, thereby circumventing parliamentary process in the passing on individual bills.
- Stopping debate on bills in legislature
- Was responsible for Canada being removed from their UN Security Council seat for first time.
- Afghan Detainees Scandal- if you don't know this one, I am not going to explain it (Yes, that means you should know it!)
- Withheld financial information from parliament and parliamentary committees about costs of military planes
- Neglected the bid process in awarding of a contract on fighter plane procurement.
- Whistleblower scandal – Christiane Ouimet, integrity commissioner, turned down investigations into 227 whistleblower allegations. She was quietly dismissed with a $500,000 exit payment and gag order.
- Rebranding Canadian Government as Harper Government on communications documents
- Temporary Foreign Workers Scandal with Royal Bank and other large corporations for the importing of foreign workers to replace Canadian workers.
- Bail-In Provision snuck through to allow government access to personal savings accounts to settle government debts (2013)
- Long Gun Registry – stopped then reinstated (April 2013) with increased registration fees for restricted weapons and the yearly renewing of licence for long guns
- Interference in the 2008 US Presidential election
- $54,000 taxpayer money spent on 2-day oil lobby retreat in UK (2011)
- Withdrawal from Kyoto Accord after it had been ratified (said others were leaving. We were the only one.)
- G8/G20 Fake Lake Scandal -- again, if you don't know, you probably want to read and find out.
- Ordering striking unions back to work and quashed the collective bargaining procedure for several national unions (Air Canada, Canada Post, etc)
- Broke his own new set election date law
- Over 1700 patronage appointments (see quoted above)
- Pulls Canada out of UN anti-drought initiative
- Contempt of Parliament – refused to turn over documents on Afghan detainee affair and later refused to submit to a parliamentary request regarding costing of his programs. Much more was involved here. Suffice to say that this is the only government in the history of our country to be found in contempt of parliament. He use prorogation to circumvent the issue
- Issued a 200-page handbook to committee heads advising them on how to disrupt their committees.
- Reneged on promise to allow parliamentary committees to select their own chairs.
- Dictated an order that staffers to cabinet ministers do not have to testify before committees
- Ordered all government communications to be vetted by his office or the Privy Council Office
- Impeded access to information systems, including the elimination of data base CAIRS, delaying responses to requests, imposing prohibitive fees on requests, putting pressure on bureaucrats to keep sensitive information hidden.
- Redacted/blacked out excessive amounts of information, even when shown there was no reason for it to be considered classified.
- Putting Conservative party logos on stimulus funding cheques that were paid out of the public purse.
- Had party affiliates write on-line posts, using false names, to attack journalists.
- In Charlottetown in 2007, he had the police remove reporters from a hotel lobby where a party caucus meeting was being held
- Attempted to tar the reputation of diplomat Richard Colvin for contradicting their position on the afghan detainees situation.
- Defence Minister Gordon O’Connor mislead the House regarding the afghan detainees situation, had to apologize and later resigned
- Terminated Peter Tinsley, the Military Police Complaints Commissioner, when he started to investigate the afghan detainee situation.
- He tried to withhold documents requested by Parliament regarding the afghan detainee situation
- Before his leadership, personal attack ads were used, relatively sparingly, only during election season instead of every day regardless of election cycle.
- Fossil of the Day awards (x3) were awards to John Baird, as minister of the environment, at the UN Cancun climate conference (Dec 2010) awarded by more than 400 leading organizations, to the countries that do the most to disrupt or undermine UN climate talks, citing that Baird and the Canadian government were ‘working against progressive legislation to address climate change” by “cancelling support for clean energy and for failing to have any plan to meet its very weak target for reducing Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.”
- Worked against NGOs, independent agencies, watchdog groups, and tribunals who showed signs of differing with his intent by firing directors, stacking the boards with his loyalists, sued them, cut funding, etc.
- Made unfounded accusations against the Rights and Democracy group, Elections Canada, Veterans’ Ombudsman Pat Stogran, Budget Officer Kevin Page, Dalton McGuinty, Liberal MP Navdeep Bains, Michael Behiels and more for taking positions contrary to that of the Conservative Party.

Of course, he is a man who surrounds himself with only the best, the brightest… those of his same ilk. I give you a peek at some of his swamp-rats:
- Bev Oda – misleading Parliament, mishandled CIDA requests for KAIROS group, overspending (has paid back $4,025.26 to taxpayers)
- Maxime Bernier – 2 ethics investigations for conflict of interest
- Peter Penashue – election overspending, ineligible donations
- John Duncan – improperly lobbied a tax judge
- Bruce Carson – violating lobbying regulations/influence peddling
- Dimitri Soudas – Communications Director for PM questioned over kickback scandal involving Montreal Port Authority
- Jim Flaherty – Finance Minister improperly interfered with CRTC regarding the issuing of a broadcast licence
- Dean Del Mastro – Elections Canada investigation of overspending, etc.
- Arthur Porter – Harper appointee as Canada spy agency watchdog wanted for $1.3B fraud
- Lisa Raitt – left sensitive documents in public AND made the‘cancer is sexy’ comment
- Jason Kenney – used MP stationery for party fundraising
- Rahim Jaffer and Helene Guergis – aids writing letters to papers pretending to be citizens, influence peddling (him), letting her husband use her office, mortgage transgressions, and the Charlottetown Airport meltdown
- Peter MacKay – using military transportation for personal use
- Vic Towes – abusive language and ‘you’re either with us or against us with child pornography’ statement
- Sebastien Togneri, Agop Evereklian, Giulio Maturi, Dale Saip and Kasra Nejatian all involved in ethics transgressions
- Rona Ambrose – told a parliamentary committee that Canada had paid its debt under the Kyoto Protocol but it was later pointed out that it was still unpaid. She refused to add spotted owls, of which there were only 17, needed no special protection. As Minister responsible for the Status of Women, voted for a motion to revisit the Canadian Criminal Code regarding abortion.
- John Baird – Used his cabinet post to interfere with the 2006 Ottawa city mayoral election and the light rail transit system in that city.

…And let’s not forget the old, over-privileged swamp-rats:
- Mike Duffy – improperly collecting housing allowances
- Patrick Brazeau – improperly collecting housing allowances and facing assault and sexual assault charges
- Pamela Wallin – travel and other expenses being audited for irregularities

In all, during the reign thus far of Stephen Harper, he has made 58 senate appointments, 100% from the conservative party. That sort of blows that whole no patronage/no senate promise thingy totally to hell in a handbag, don’t it. "Some of these things are just little mistakes" you say? Well, think of them as a whole, and think of them in terms of 'these are just the ones we know about'; you KNOW there are many more still hidden in the reeds and under rocks in Stephen Harper's swamp. You don’t need me to point out the obvious though – Stephen Harper and his conservative government has a record that speaks for itself, and that is more than worthy of as much mud as we can sling at it. The thing is, do we really want to crawl down in that gutter with him to use the same tactics he does? Perhaps we are better off to let his record, and this Bog of Bullshit, speak (loudly) for itself.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Dear Gordo

A RESPONSE TO GORD NIXON, CEO ROYAL BANK OF CANADA -- So your kitchen has gotten a bit hot? That’s a damned shame. Too bad some of the $100,000,000.00 (ballparked based on published figures) you have personally made in the last five years didn’t allow for a cooling system in such situations. Obviously you were overpaid in relation to conscience or ethics.

I love how you refer to this situation as a ‘debate’. It is absolutely clear you have not yet learned that you are attempting to defend the indefensible. Instead you choose to insult us, treat us like we are totally ignorant of the games that you play, yet deny. You apparently have been taking some coaching from that uber-spin-meister Zabeen Hirji.
For starters, there is no evidence that you ARE in compliance with the regulations. Show us that proof. You said you have no foreign workers there. Then you said there was one. We have seen interviews with people who are working with many, and we have seen news interviews with people who actually are/were foreign workers employed in Royal Banks... so who the hell are we supposed to be believe? You? Lemme think... if anyone has reason to skew the details and split hairs, it would be you, so quite honestly you have absolutely zero credibility at this point in time.

‘Despite our best efforts, we don’t meet everyone’s expectations...’ Well, that might be true in all situations, but here is why this is the first of many insulting, obnoxious statement in your pitiful attempt to justify what you are doing – you are making NO attempt to meet anyone’s expectations other than your arrogant elitist Board of Directors... and of course tending to your own personal needs. You are making NO effort to meet the expectations of your employees, your customers, your communities or your country’s economy, but you know that.

You should have been more helpful to those being outsourced? Seriously? You actually said this? Shame on you! Here is what you are not getting; you should not be outsourcing any of the damned jobs that Canadians can do. Who the hell are you helping by doing this? Actually, that’s a rhetorical question. We already know (see previous paragraph).

Reviewing supplier arrangements? We are talking about PEOPLE here, Drill-head; not a god damned stapler or paperclip. This is probably the biggest offense, and this alone explains a whole lot of why this is happening. Unless you are one of the ‘beautiful people’ – aka so rich that loonies fall out your ass – you are not really a ‘people’ at all. When did it become okay to list employees as nothing more than furniture? This dehumanizing makes it possible to have people train their replacements, to have jobs go overseas leaving loyal employees with nothing and forcing many into early, unplanned retirement. This is what aids your ilk in getting a good night’s sleep – you don’t need to worry about how ‘supplies’ are treated in India, or how foreign workers here are treated, or who is being exploited just to line your pockets with another thirty pieces of silver.

Your call centers are located in Canada? Well, whoop-de-frigging-do. For how long? Why don’t you address that issue? What departments are next to be shipped away? How do I know that my account information is secure now that it has been spread over several continents? When I got my financing, why wasn’t I told that it would be handled and all the information would be maintained in a third world country where blackmail, exploitation and criminal elements, including within the governments and certainly within those corporate entities, abound? How can you guarantee that my money and my personal information there is safe? Trying to gain brownie points by telling us of ONE aspect of your business that is still in Canada is pitiful, and again, insulting as all holy hell. As for your new initiative for young people? Well, that might have been nice to have presented before you sent the jobs away. Why train them if you are planning, three years into their employment, to make them nothing more than a redundant supply? My god, Mr. Nixon, you really are a piece of work, and I do not mean that in the good sense.

You employ over 57,000 people in Canada. Well, thank you for that. How many are contracted out in other countries? How many have been let go because there weren’t jobs for them in the latest round of ‘transitions’ and how many had no choice but to take early retirement? (and don’t you DARE say or even imply, like Ms Hirji did, that they all wanted that. Don’t you dare try to spin that like she did, because, Sir, that will remove even the slightest hope that you are not a complete and total douche) Why do you cherry pick the numbers you want to share with us? If you were honest, if you really gave the furry crack of a rat’s butt, you would acknowledge the number of people contracted through iGATE and every other ‘supplier’ (there – I closed that loophole for you – the buck now stops with you*) over the last ten years. You would acknowledge the number of TFW’s brought in during the same time – both by RBC and by every other supplier. You would acknowledge the amount of money that was made just by this practice alone and perhaps you might even feel a twinge of shame at ruining so many Canadian lives with absolute indifference.

As for your community record, well... you can shove that too. The only community record that exists at this moment is the amount of profit you made, personally and as a bank, and the number of people who paid for it with their employment, their homes, their savings, their livelihoods and their health. There is a huge human toll for what you do, that far outweighs your value.

Riddle me this while you’re doing your plate spinning routine: When you have sent every possible job oversees, when you have trimmed your need for Canadian ‘supplies’ as much as possible with either exploited workers in other countries or machines here, and every other big company has done likewise, who the hell is left to support the economy? How do you and your greedy shareholders make money then? Who buys the crap they bring in, or takes out a mortgage or puts purchases on their credit card so you can charge us absolutely unjustifiable interest rates? Who is going to need a car loan because no one will be able to afford a damned car? Who is going to be buying all that gas and oil that is going to keep us filthy rich? What about the countless small businesses, the backbone of every community, who are being totally screwed over by this practice, as they close their businesses because no one can afford to support them? It is well past time that you, and corporate Canada, woke the hell up and realized that you are cutting off your noses to spite your faces. You, with the government’s more than willing help, have made it impossible for Canadians to find work, to get work that comes with benefits (because it saves you so much to have only part-time help) and have crippled as many unions as possible, again reinforcing the fact that employees – PEOPLE – no longer enter into the equation at all. RBC might not be doing all of this themselves, but they certainly support... no, they lead a culture that does, and that is more than evident by the revelations of the last week. As you work to widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots, you are destroying your own future, and that of your children, just like you are destroying ours.

On Monday, I was prepared to say that you were a whipping boy for the whole issue of outsourcing, and admittedly for the gross incompetence and unmitigated greed of the government of the day, but your response has earned you special wrath in my world. I see people suffering, losing homes, working three part-time jobs to make ends meet in this current economy. I see them unable to afford food, clothing or anything else – hard to take while RBC executives bomb around on private planes to shop in the US with their wives. I really don’t care if that seems unfair to you, that everyone else is doing it, that the government created a loophole large enough to drive a rig through. YOU made the choice to exploit that loophole and your employees, and in the process have definitely earned the distrust and disgust of the people. YOU are the one who is national, who has received taxpayer backing, who we trust implicitly with our money and our savings, our hopes and dreams and plans. Yes, every other corporation needs to be taken to task for doing this, but YOU, as a bank, make an intimate personal bond with your customers, a promise, a pact to protect us, our money, and our hopes for tomorrow, and YOU, sir, betrayed all of that. This is not as simple as a cell-phone plan or who provides my television cable service. This is personal and your insincere, pandering, insulting half-contrition only makes it worse.

You do, however, have something to give thanks about. You are not an elected government official. The fact that you have been allowed to do this, unchecked and with impunity for years now, means that the Harper government has been complicit, and for this reason, there should be calls and there are definite grounds, for the Governor General to dissolve our current parliament and demand an election. You should be glad that you won’t be put through that sort of scrutiny (you should be, but you won’t).

*Pun intended

Sunday, April 7, 2013


DATELINE: FINANCIALLY RAVENOUS AND MORALLY BANKRUPT– Today, I am ashamed – for Canada. I am ashamed of a government that touts itself as transparent (unless you consider that robocalls thing, and the contempt of parliament thing, and the... oh, hell, we don't have time for all the things) and caring about the people, when really all it is concerned about is back-room deals and bankable dollars. Yes, once more, he sells out Canadians and Canadian ideals for the sake of the almighty dollar.

You see, the Harper government has been running around to all these third-world countries, cooking up deals and brokering agreements to ‘grow the economy’. I am not sure who exactly is supposed to be experiencing this growth, but what the hell. It’s what Stephen Harper says, and he wouldn’t lie to us, would he? (other than that robocalls thing, and the contempt of parliament thing...) From this backroom bullshit emerges another lovely tidbit – the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (which ironically enough has links on the Canadian Government website, but no page at the end of that link tonight. If you can't stand the heat, shut the kitchen down?). This bill allows companies to import workers from other countries to fill jobs in Canada. I mean, it’s not like we have a job shortage or people living here looking for work, right?

Enter the Royal Bank of Canada – that esteemed bastion of Canadian society since the dawn of time, at least by Canadian standards. Thanks to Harper and his need to pander to large corporations who want cheap slave labour, the bank has found yet another way to play the game. RBC brought in employees from India on the TFW program. They then had the unmitigated gall to ask their current staff to help train the new guys. Once that training was complete, the trainers (aka loyal Canadian RBC employees) were given the boot. Oh, wait... hang on... RBC didn’t do THAT! They instead hired iGate to do that, an American subsidiary of an Indian company that excels in outsourcing jobs to India. That one degree of separation, apparently, is all it takes to make this okay, at least according to RBC spokespeople. I mean, we're talking suppliers here; not people, right?

The new employees on the FTW program, when their visas to work here run out in 2015, will then go back to India... and take the rest of the RBC IT jobs with them. They will train people in India to do the jobs, and the IT staff here? Well, let’s just say that, luckily for them, people have been brought in to ‘help them brush up their resumes’ and to help them discover their real, true, deep ‘skills and aspirations,’ at least according to RBC’s HR kingpin and uber spin-meister Zabeen Hirji. She also said that some ‘choose to retire early; of course, we support them through that.’ I guess that would be the over-50 group, who will have no choice because they are considered corporately too old to retrain. How nice of the bank to be so considerate of their employees.

Well, you ask, what could really be wrong with this? Why get all worked up about 40 employees? Today, it’s 40. For them, it is one hell of a big deal, because you might not have noticed, but there are not a lot of jobs out there. When they move the entire IT department to India, it will be one hell of a lot more than 40 jobs. More than that, though, is the fact that it is just plain wrong. When we have unemployed people in Canada, our whole economy suffers. Big companies, instead of supporting the Canadian economy and doing something for those wonderful huge damned tax breaks Harper has given them as incentives to create jobs, pocket more money, while employing people at greatly reduced cost. When people don’t work, they don’t buy houses, they don’t buy cars, they don’t take trips, they don’t build new homes, they don’t send their kids to university... No one can afford these things if they don’t have work. If we don’t have people purchasing items, small stores and manufacturers have to shut down, adding to the growing list of unemployed people. It's been already hard enough as the cost of living -- housing, vehicles, gas, food, clothing -- has gone up exponentially, while wages have been stale or on the decline for years. To find a full-time job is close to impossible now, because no employer wants to have to pay benefits at all, so they play the game, work the employee for as many hours as they possibly can without allowing them to be technically full-time, because, well, as you can see, the poor big corporations with their multi-million dollar executive bonuses simply cannot bear the burden of offering paid holidays or healthcare.

The other problem with this whole scenario is that RBC gets even richer off the backs of even more destitute people, while putting people here out of work. As they deal through iGate, they know damned well that no one will give a shit about the working conditions for the people in India. It isn't technically RBC's problem; remember that one degree of separation that allows them to justify all of this? We have laws here against slave labor for a reason. Over there, who cares. They will pay them chicken shit wages, no benefits, offer no safe place to work, take advantage of people who should not be taken advantage of, and now you have even more people being screwed by the bank. But those people welcome a job, you argue! True, they probably do, but how do you morally, ethically, humanely use that to justify the use of ‘slave labor’. I am sure that children in sweathouses are thankful to be there too, because it’s a roof and perhaps some scraps of food at the end of the day; who cares if they have to work 16 hour days at the age of 10 in order to get that scrap, as long as the product rolls out and the money rolls in.

Yes, we should be helping people globally. Helping! Not knowingly, wilfully taking advantage of them while also happily screwing the people who have been loyal to you for years. I am fully aware that other companies do it, that other banks do it, that it’s the ‘in thing’ to do, but it is playing with fire on a national economic level, and it is morally reprehensible. If we don’t stand up now and say this has to stop, at what point do we?

Yes, Zabeen Hirji should be fired. She should be on the top of the list (but not the only name on the list) if for no other reason than that insultingly laughable excuse of an interview she gave to CBC. Thank you, CBC, for calling her on the crappola she was spinning. That she would think we would shrug and say ‘oh, okay then’ is truly unbelievable. The problem with shit-canning her arse is that she will still get at least a 7-digit bonus – I can guarantee you that no one who has their job outsourced will receive even a fragment of that sort of bonus, although God knows they probably have put the time and the passion worthy of it into their jobs. Of course, those employees won't be adding those big bucks to the Conservative party coffers come election time, will they -- at least not like bank executives will be.

Even if you don’t have accounts at RBC, you should be paying attention to this, before your job is also outsourced. This is not just a blip that will disappear or correct itself in a day or two. This is part of a pattern that will, in short order, kill the North American economy, something that is fragile enough already. It is time to contact your local politicians, your federal politicians, Stephen Harper’s office, the Royal Bank and anyone else who is doing this through the gaping loopholes conveniently placed in the TFW Program, and say ‘Enough!’ Someone has to start standing up for what is right. Why not us? Why not now?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

BOILING IN OIL -- Pipelines and Politicians, If You Please

DATELINE: BOILING IN OIL -- As we wait for that great leader President Obama (aka Spineless Willie) to decide on the Keystone Pipeline, I thought it might be fun to throw some numbers at you. In the past twelve years, in the United States, there have been at least 82 known pipeline leaks. Now, that doesn’t seem like a lot, I suppose, but these are the ones where there was no human involvement to cause them, and these are just the pipelines that carried those elixirs of life – crude, diesel, gasoline and, in two cases, jet fuel. This does not include the ones that were hit by construction workers because the pipeline was plotted wrong on maps or by human error. These are just the suckers that woke up one morning and decided to let that precious lifeblood of a nation land on the ground.

82 leaks – little (or in some cases big) holes that sprung out of nowhere. Just 82, you are saying. Well, yes, but let me clarify this some more. For 11 of those 82, there are no estimates for how much product was lost, so when I say that considerably more than 209,024 barrels were spilled, it is based on only 71 of those leaks. This part you’ll love... I just KNOW it. Oil company talk is 209,024 barrels, but do you know why? Well, it’s because it is a whole lot less scary when they say that than when they say more than 8,778,997 gallons. Yes, that is almost 9 Million gallons of crap spilled, in just 12 years, from just little leaks that happen.

Now, I should be clear about this. These numbers are based on researching the leaks that are made known and are recorded in information on the internet. If anything, they are low-balled, perhaps a lot. Nonetheless, here is more information for you to chew on. Of those 82 leaks, at least 40 of them, so half, resulted in severe environmental damage and contamination, almost always of water sources, many times killing animals, sometimes resulting in evacuations, and sometimes, because that shit is incredibly flammable, causing fires when it ignites. In at least one case, the spill was so bad in the water, the oil company had to burn it off – yes, they set the damned lake on fire. I bet fish and fowl were totally thrilled with that.

Funnily enough, the name Enbridge, as owners of the pipeline, came up 9 times, and Kinder Morgan owned the pipeline 6 times. Even more surprising, while these leaks were spread out over 26 US states, 8 of them happened in Illinois. I bet a lot of oilmen don’t drink the water in that state. While Illinois takes the prize for the most pipeline leaks, it is followed closely by Texas, Oklahoma then California.

These leaks, it should be noted, have occurred many times in areas where they then contaminated major waterways. In several instances, huge numbers of fish and wildlife, including endangered wildlife, were killed – and it is a slow painful death for them. In many cases, these leaks happened in very environmentally sensitive areas, where there never should have been a pipeline in the first place.

Yes, we need cars. No one is so fucking dumb as to say otherwise. We need oil and gas, but we need the oil companies to be responsible. Up to now, they haven’t been. The only guide of any significance to them has a damned dollar sign in front of it. Some of these leaks went on for considerable time because they were small, but their damage was huge. Some of these leaks went unreported for a long time, so the oil companies could ‘hide’ it. There was absolutely NO consideration given to the fact that this contamination could kill more than environments or wildlife; it could kill people. We are gonna look a right asinine lot when we have cars to drive but not one drop of water to drink. Of course, Sarah ‘Blowhole’ Palin, Mitt ‘Who’ Romney, Newt ‘No Funny Nickname Required’ Gingrich, Michelle ‘Harpies Really Were Insane’ Bachman, et all, would have given any oil company the keys to a kingdom and a ticker tape parade – without one moment of consideration for the farmland, wetlands, water tables or homes that the pipeline would casually crash over with no regard for any form of organic life, including the fucking farmers. You see, oil companies are bullies at heart, because their only concern is the money. As for the jobs, take it from someone who knows – they will be there, for a year, maybe, but not as many as they say. Then they will suddenly disappear, and the oil company won’t give a flying fuck about anyone who was promised anything, including a job and great pay. We’re talking politicians and oil companies here. Never ever forget that.

But Mz Palin and friends bring me to another point – it’s not just the oil companies who cannot be trusted. The governments have made it more than clear they would sell out their own fucking children for one vote or a few campaign dollars. The pipeline going through the US now could well mean enough money for the Democrats to purchase the White House deed for decades to come. We are supposed to trust the very same organization that slipped the god damned Monsanto Protection Act through the process to become a law without anyone knowing it? Oh, wait... that happened ‘anonymously’*. The politicians sold out our entire farming community AND our entire food supply to one company, and now they say they have no idea how that happened? I can tell you how. Monsanto is run by bullies with money – the worst sort of human excrement on the planet. They made it legal for Monsanto to do whatever it bloody well wants with our food, genetically modify it and genetically engineer it using sheep crap to make beef steaks, and there is absolutely NO recourse for anyone. They have been given a permanent golden Get Out Of Jail free card and our entire food supply was the cost. We want to sell out the water supply to the oil companies? I suppose at this point in time, why the hell not.

Yes, we need oil and gas. We also need to find ways to NOT need oil and gas. We need that oil and gas to be transported safely. That doesn’t mean that they just bulldoze homes from people who don’t want the pipeline over their pristine land. It doesn’t mean that it goes over sensitive aquifers or through national wildlife reserves or national parks. The fact is, no matter what they fucking do to make it ‘totally safe,’ it is still made by humans and therefore is capable of accidental yet catastrophic failure. There needs to be strict guidelines for how they get their land and where they run their pipelines. There needs to be HUGE penalties for every god damned drop of product that lands in the air or on the ground – not some bullshit slap on the wrist. There needs to be absolute vigilance – not the relying on their state of the art computerized doodads that will protect us, because quite honestly, they fail as well, and when they do, with no human checks and balances, we are totally fucked.

So, Mister President, while you consider the pipeline – and the successful election of your democratic successor, because we KNOW that’s all the party is thinking about – give some thought to how the people have already been sold down the river – the grossly contaminated, undrinkable river. There will be oil for everyone, but there will be no one left to drive a damned car. While you’re at it, passing crap like the Monsanto Protection Act, perhaps you could come up with some new law that involves duct tape and Michelle Bachman’s gaping, stupid, idiotic maw. Now THAT would be a law worth some heavy campaign dollars.

It’s a time for responsible thinking, balance, logic and compromise. It is for this reason, I fear, that perhaps there is no hope, because these are words that don’t exist anymore in the power houses, ivory towers and hallowed halls of the United States of America. More’s the pity; it has become a living, breathing historical display of how empires crumble.

* The whole bullshit that is the anonymous inclusion of something in a bill being considered for legislation is probably the most lame-ass ignorant slap in the face to the voting public I have ever heard of, because there is no way in hell they don’t know how it got in there, but it’s just a whole lot more convenient to blame no one than be responsible and wear your convictions yourself. Shame on the entire political system for allowing this mountain of crappola to exist at all.