Of Charlie Hebdo & The Great Lady

DigitalGritRaid-563

The tragic events of the past couple of days have led me to think about my favourite old world city.  Paris – with her many charms – has long been a beacon of progressive thought in her myriad alleys, side-streets, and cafes.

Great minds – Voltaire, Rousseau, Comte, and Bergson, among many others – helped shaped our last couple of centuries with their liberal, progressive visions of what the world should be.  Many of their thoughts would have been formulated sitting in unnamed cafes in quiet side streets in one of the great arrondissements.

Free speech was what the foundation of much of these great mens’ thoughts rested on.  The freedom to gather (or the desire to be free and gather) fuelled true revolutions and revolutions of thought.  Many publishing houses and ‘free’ bookstores still thrive in the City of Lights, sharing bold vision and thought with perhaps the most cosmopolitan centre in our world.  The cafe culture is still strong – although you will not likely find Hemingway or Picasso, you will meet equally unique and engaging patrons.

A bold, progressive, liberal centre, Paris has always attracted the ire of the right wing and  extremists:  Childish jokes by an American right with no understanding of the city (or the fact that most of America’s early political mythology – right down to the buildings and physical and political structure of DC itself – is built on a vague copy of post-revolution France).  Criticisms of Parisienne culture from French Nationalists and EU Neo-Nazis have been growing over the past decade.  Religious extremists and fundamentalists have also made Parisian culture and her exports targets of their derision.

Through all the attacks, criticism, and even occupations this great city has thrived, and within her walls progressive culture has lived on.  One only needs to walk about an area such as the 9th Arrondissement and duck into the centuries-old ‘Passages’ to see what I mean.  Ancient bookshops flaunt controversial books and images, while locals stand and discuss their charms.  Shop owners openly discuss politics – and welcome you to the conversation.

Critics and attackers of Paris and Parisienne culture have always missed the key point:  You can’t kill an idea.  The City of Light still shines brightly, and her great ideas continue to shed intellectual ‘light’ on some of the darkest corners of humanity.

Herman Thind, BSc., OOST, Certified Social Media Strategist.

https://www.facebook.com/DigitalGrit

www.DigitalGrit.ca

Herman is a community advocate, consultant, and a student of all things political. He was born and raised in Saskatchewan, and grew up across Western Canada.

Taking Their Toys & Going Home – Canada’s Conservatives

Our organization – the Indus Global Policy Institute – has long advocated Canada’s engagement with the World. We firmly believe in the power of positive, productive, diplomatic engagement.  Canada’s foreign policy should be one that builds respect among World leaders and nations, and enables the swift growth of bilateral trade and cooperation.

What we have been seeing since the “Harper Government” took office in 2006 is a rash of incidents creating tensions with old friends and trading partners, and ruffling feathers with potential new ones.  The Conservatives’ open attacks on China created ripples in the international community, and ensured Canada was sealed out of China in a broad range of affairs.  Harper’s unclear messaging on India has embarrassed Canada in foreign quarters.  You simply do not affront the government of the World’s largest democracy, then bathe in the photo-ops.  It’s no wonder the Indian PM refused to do a joint news conference with Harper.

We’ve all observed the antics of the Harper Conservatives as they alienated 90% of the planet with their unscientific approach to climate change and global warming.  Recently, we’ve seen what appears to be another oil lobby-driven decision:  the withdrawal of Canada from the UN Desert Convention.  

Canada is the ONLY nation withdrawing from this agreement (Harper Ministers attempted to ignore the fact that this is indeed an international agreement or ‘convention’, and not simply some commitment to funding).  The immediate UN reaction is one of shock and dismay, but member nations have already painted Canada as an “outlier” nation on the science of climate change.  

What’s behind Canada’s decision?  As with any decision the Harper Government takes, it is agenda and ideology-driven.  They claim it is because they feel a large part of the $300,000-some-odd dollars Canada was contributing was being spent on “administration” and “bureaucratic” costs.  Before we go any further, let’s address the 70% number for ‘administration’ which they claim could be spent better.  Compare that number with other charities in Canada, and the numbers are similar.  Compare to other GLOBAL organizations, with the added impediments of distance, travel, lobbying of foreign governments, security costs, etc., and you can quickly see that ANY such organization will have large administrative costs.  

They argue that money was being wasted on ‘meetings’.  Oh my goodness!  Not meetings!  Does Mr. Harper, or any of his band of merry men understand that most all of the UN’s actual work gets accomplished by those horrible ‘meetings’?  It is diplomacy (that’s “meetings” for all who don’t understand) behind highly secured doors which has been the World’s salvation for much of the last 65 years, from Suez, to the East Indies, to the Cold War detente.  The Harper Government is simply using manipulation of facts to attempt to gain the trust of the Canadian public.  Of course the public is going to be concerned if they are told funds are being mismanaged, but the facts all point to a manipulation of the truth by this government.  The fact is that most of the UN’s work IS meetings and administration.  It’s how they make things work!

So what is the real reason for Canada’s withdrawal?  Why can this government spend 10s of $Millions of tax-payer dollars on self-promotion (“Action” Plan ads), but not $300000 on a worthwhile international cause?  

Fracking.  

The Alberta – whoops – Federal Conservative government is being driven by the oil lobby, which wishes to avert any bad PR sent their way by the government’s participation in this international Convention.  They are all too familiar with the black eye the industry has had from the tar sands.  This is simply a pre-emptive strike.  Remove yourselves from a vital international conversation because we really don’t want to do anything for the Canadian environment (even though Alberta environmental groups are crying out).  

This ‘disengagement’ from the World – this act of ‘turning turtle’ – is just the most recent in a long series of Harper government withdrawals from participatory internationalism.  They perhaps don’t even believe some of what they are saying themselves, since they refuse to stand and defend it – rather attempting to subvert and undermine established international norms and conventions.  Since most of the World doesn’t agree with the Harper Government’s alien views on things which are mostly proven scientific facts, he’ll just take his ball and go home.

Canada cannot thrive in a World where we’ve turned our backs on the ideas of most of humanity.  We must engage both our friends AND those who we see as ‘enemies’… We are best served in creating a thoughtful international dialogue, and building a climate of cooperation in which global trade, and human progress flourish.  The cooperation of nations since the end of the cold war has brought great growth and economic success world-wide.  This progress can be measured by the growth of a huge World ‘Middle Class’, which has become the drivers of economic growth.  

Canadians need to seriously consider whether the current resident of 24 Sussex Dr. is on the correct path to create our best formula for success.  Does the Harper Government value the growth of the Canadian – and Global – Middle Class, or is he beholden to the interests of a small few in a particular resource sector in one Province?

Herman Thind, BSc., OOST,
Certified Social Media Strategist.

https://www.facebook.com/DigitalGrit

Herman is a community advocate, consultant, and a student of all things political. He was born and raised in Saskatchewan, and grew up across Western Canada.

References:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/11/09/pol-harper-india.html

 http://www.ipolitics.ca/2012/04/10/kirsty-duncan-the-harper-governments-war-on-the-environment/

http://www.water-matters.org/story/476

 http://business.financialpost.com/2012/06/07/forget-peak-oil-the-global-water-crisis-will-shake-humanity-to-its-core/?__lsa=1f4f-880c

“Swings Like a Butterfly, Stings Like a Bee…”

Liberal Leadership candidate, Justin Trudeau, delivered a tour-de-force speech yesterday at the “Reviving the Islamic Spirit Convention”. There’s actually no need to mention the event at all, as Justin’s detractors in Ottawa, and in the Mainstream Media pretty much ensured all of Canada knew.

This is an historic speech. Once again Mr. Trudeau used a classic “rope-a-dope” to get all his critics buzzing and conjecturing about his attendence and what he would do next. What was a routine campaign stop stole national headlines.

JT followed up with perhaps one of the greatest speeches given by any PM-in-waiting. The media Built up the moment with a LOT of help from his detractors. They yelled, and jumped up and down, and raged. They said unmentionable things about Justin’s loyalties – as if his loyalties were ever questionable.

The fiery passion Justin Trudeau holds for the Canada he LOVES was quite evident yesterday. A passion cultivated in his early ears hearing the stories of Canada’s trials and triumphs on his famous father’s lap. A passion which grew with this amazing young man as he shared the Canadian experience from coast to coast. A passion which he shared with countless young Canadians as a teacher and in his many voluntary endeavors.

Justin showed Canada yesterday just how ready he is to be leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, and how ready he is to be Prime Minister of Canada. Those of us familiar with Justin knew this was something to watch for. Now the shot has been fired (yet again) across the collective bows of his opponents: This contender IS a “heavyweight”, and he can “sting like a bee”.

The legend grows.

http://justin.ca/speech-delivered-at-the-reviving-the-islamic-spirit-convention/

Herman Thind, BSc., OOST,
Certified Social Media Strategist.
https://www.facebook.com/DigitalGrit

Herman is a community advocate, consultant, and a student of all things political. He was born and raised in Saskatchewan, and grew up across Western Canada.

Harper Conservatives Create Another Roadblock For New Canadians & Minorities

Cutting Family class immigration for "temps"
Cutting the family class for "temps"

Call it an ‘Immigration Action Plan’.

Many people had warned us about the Conservative Party’s so-called “hidden agenda”.  A lot of us simply shrugged it off – buying into the Conservatives’ (and Harper’s) claims that it was “just politics”.  Seldom did we analyze the facts, or carefully look at past statements and voting records of Conservative (formerly Reform Party) MPs, staffers, and key organizers and supporters.  We ignored what the actual Reform/Conservative “base” was saying.  Instead, we were “impressed” by Jason Kenney’s visits to cultural events, and his “hot pursuit” of “very ethnic” (quote from the Conservative Party’s Minister) voters.

While visible minority community leaders rejoiced in their “access” to (and ridiculous photo-ops with) MPs who really did NOT have our best interests at heart, the Conservatives appeared to be putting their “base’s” wishes into motion.  Sure they used all the ‘right words’ – those key phrases that made it look like they were acting in our best interest.  They talked about the “need” for workers in Canada’s (re: Alberta’s) oil industry.  They talked about Canadian employers finding it hard to obtain ‘skilled labour’ in various areas – which included: nannies, cleaning staff, restaurant help, and farm workers.  They basically mouthed the old US Bush regime’s very clever anti-immigrant immigration policy.

The ‘deal’ was fairly simple:  The Conservatives would help out their friends in the oil patch with cost-effective and asquiicent foreign labour AND they would appease a big core of their base which is quite anti-immigrant, by forcing these labourers back to their home lands after a maximum of 4 years.

In 2011 the ‘Temporary Foreign Worker’ program’s ‘immigration’ numbers exceeded those of the ‘standard’ immigration stream.  This is a significant decrease in actual immigrants to Canada.  The Harper Government and Minister Kenney cleverly attribute these ‘temporary’ workers to the ‘standard’ immigration stream – counting them into the ‘real’ immigration numbers.  ‘The Current’ (CBC Radio) program on October 9th of this year outlined one example of a horror story that is all too common:  Workers working for next to nothing – and quite definitely below the minimum wage defined by law – in substandard, often ‘indenture-like’ conditions… with the constant threat of deportment hanging over their heads.  It is a tribute to many of these workers’ desire to succeed that more did not succumb to ‘dead ends’ this anti-immigration program creates.

What has Canada lost in the process?

Financially, the fact remains that many (or most) of the temporary workers spend very little in Canada.  Most earnings go back to families abroad.  They certainly don’t purchase homes, cloth and feed families, and spend on much entertainment in their ‘temporary’ workplace.  Real immigrants – one’s who are immigrated naturally – have a net economy that is multiplied by the number of family members they bring with them.  An mid-1990s study by Stats Canada showed the net impact of every immigrant coming to Canada – on the day they land – is roughly $35000.  This is an average of all the new arrivals, and includes children (Perhaps this is one reason the Harper Conservatives made massive cuts to Stats Can?).

Canadians have lost the opportunity to learn and grow with new Canadians bringing with them stories of success and hardship… stories of appreciation for what Canada has to offer.  We have lost the daily interaction with people from all parts of the World – who teach us how to succeed economically and socially in the new World.  Many opponents of immigration may shrug at this chance to learn, BUT when your local Canadian company needs to build key markets in places like India, China, Brazil, and Nigeria, every shred of information and familiarity with those cultures is not only a gift, but a necessity.

What else are we losing out on?  As a First World nation with one of the most abysmal birth rates in the West, we Canadians are losing a future.  How will the Boomers of today fund their pensions (that they have rightly earned)?  We’ve already seen the Harper Conservatives making cuts to the Canada Pension Plan (a delay is a cut when you’re officially retired).  The pending housing crisis (fueled by the Conservative’s weakening of lending rules, 30, 35, and even 40 year mortgages, and goosing of home purchases with prominent election ads goading young couples to buy) will impact the massive Boomer group hard.  An infusion of new permanent immigration would help establish the tax base required to continue to build and grow the Canada we know and love.  The Canada with working pension plans, universal medicare, and a ‘hand up’ for those who need it.

The recent decision by the Harper Conservatives, to cut all but Christian clerics’ presence in our nation’s prisons is an outright attack on minority rights.  Even if we feel cutting costs at the expense of ‘those nasty criminals’ is worth every penny, we can’t help but be outraged at the targets of those meager savings:  minorities.  Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and other faith groups have been attacked alone.  Instead of maintaining some minority religion clerics in larger urban centers, the Conservatives have axed them all.  Let’s go one step further here:  Suppose you not only feel stripping prisoners of any human rights is acceptable, but you also really don’t care about those minorities who can no longer worship.  Perhaps you care about the safety of your family?  Studies show the outreach of religion in prison not only creates ‘penance’, but also helps lower recidivism rates.  How can one argue with that?

The fact is, access to some form of spirituality helps lower crime.  If the Harper Conservatives were really for lowering crime – and not just talking a good game – they may just practice this.  If they really were looking to help immigrants, perhaps they would heed countless studies, and the Government’s own body – Stats Can – which all point out the benefits of a multi-faith prison ministry.

The problem is, this government is not at all concerned about pesky facts, or any sort of evidence-based policy.  They are more concerned with appearances and their extreme ideology.  The net result is a government that is rift with empty platitudes, blank slogans, and ‘catch phrases’, rather than sound policy and a just society.

Meanwhile, Canadian minority groups are beginning to say, “We don’t need your ‘action’ plans, Mr. Harper”.  We want REAL action… honest action… now!

Herman Thind, BSc., OOST(post-Grad), Certified Social Media Strategist.  

Herman is a community advocate, consultant, and a student of all things political.  He was born and raised in Saskatchewan, and grew up across Western Canada.

Serious Concerns in South Asian Community As Conservatives Launch 2-Tier Labor Laws

Temporary Foreign workers are often treated as second class citizens:  Come to our land, work hard, and leave – without any benefits or the ability to put down roots.  Today, the Harper Conservative government has made it official…  Temporary foreign workers – often members of minority communities (including the South Asian diaspora) – can now be paid less for work of equal value than Canadian citizens.

The Indus Global Policy Institute will be front-and-center in the battle to repeal this discriminatory law that ignores human rights guidelines.

The Toronto Star has a very good write-up about this new law – a link is available via this blog:

http://themaplethree.blogspot.ca/2012/04/walkom-ottawas-low-wage-immigration.html

Celebrate Canada’s Charter of Rights Today – With Indus Global Policy Institute

To all affiliated news agencies:

The Indus Global Policy Institute (http://www.indusglobalpolicy.com/ – THE political voice of the South Asian Community) would like to issue the following news release:

For immediate release:

In lieu of the complete lack of any sort of official celebration of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms by the gov’t of Canada, The Liberal Party of Canada in BC would like to welcome any and all to the national celebration of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Charter is perhaps the most important part of Canada’s democratic puzzle, and is a key reason for the growth, success, and freedoms of our strong and proud mosaic of communities. It is a cornerstone of our national psyche.

Please join us at one of the following locations to celebrate this monumental page in Canada’s history:

In Vancouver:

Please join us for a special 30th anniversary celebration of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms at

1181 Lounge (1181 Davie Street, Vancouver BC).

Tickets are only $20 and includes cover and a complimentary drink!

Spread the word! We look forward to seeing you at the event!

For tickets, contact Justin at justin.kaiser@me.com

https://www.facebook.com/events/283516935051270/
https://www.facebook.com/events/283516935051270/

In Abbotsford/Mission (this is a free event):

Join the Hon. John McCallum in Mission, along with The Right Hon. Jean Chrétien and the Hon. Bob Rae from Toronto – and Canadians from across the Country – as we celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms!

Where: Heritage Park Centre – Cafetorium, 33700 Prentis Ave., Mission, BC
When: April 17th, 2012. Doors Open at 3:30pm, Celebration starts at 4pm
RSVP: http://events.liberal.ca/Event/watch-the-charter-of-rights-and-freedoms-celebration-rally—mission.aspx

IGPI to co-Host 2012 LED Talks

IGPI will co-host the 2012 LED Talks (Liberal Engagement Discussions) at a local university (location to be announced).  The discussions will focus on how Eastern (particularly South Asian) philosophies are tied to modern progressive and liberal thought.  Subject matter experts will include top Civil Rights and Immigration attorneys, researchers in the field of multiculturalism, and religious leaders.

Please contact us to reserve seating.