Monday, 20 October 2014

Canadians Need to Complain Louder and More Often

If there's one thing that I can't stand about Canada, it's the "shut up and take it" mentality that many of us seem to have.  What do I mean by this?  I mean that whenever a government or private interest in this country tries to screw us, we usually take it lying down.  This is especially true when it comes to how often we get dinged in the wallet because a government or private company sees fit to make another cash grab.  But I'm not too surprised that we behave like this.  After all, Canada was created on the basis of not rising up in revolt like our American neighbours, who did so in part because they refused to pay taxes without representation in the British government.  "No taxation without representation!" was one of the slogans that America's founding fathers used to justify their revolt against the British.  Here in Canada, however, we're used to governments and private interests reaching for our wallets, no matter how unjust it may be.

Is it any wonder, for example, that Canadians pay some of the highest rates in the world for wireless services?  How about those ridiculous fees that the banks charge for you to get access to your own money?  Perhaps I should also mention the ludicrous charges that we have to pay whenever we need to fly somewhere - you know, the kind of fees that send thousands of would-be travellers in Toronto running to the airport in Buffalo so that they can avoid being gouged at Pearson Airport?  I could go on about how many dumb charges Canadians swallow every day, but I don't think I have to because those of you who are reading this and live in Canada know exactly what I'm talking about.  In fact, CBC's Marketplace has recently done a program on what Canadians believe to be Canada's Dumbest Charges.

Unfortunately, it is very likely that Canadians will continue to get dinged with dumb charges because most of us just grin and bear it.  But it doesn't have to be this way if we would simply start standing up for ourselves.

The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease

The truth is that some Canadians do complain louder and more often than others.  And it is these Canadians who ultimately pay less.  It often depends on the province you happen to live in.  In British Columbia, for example, when the government there tried to harmonize the GST and PST taxes to create a Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), residents of the province rose up in revolt because they didn't want extra taxes put on nearly everything.  Eventually, a referendum was held.  The people of the province resoundingly rejected the new tax and forced the government not to implement it.  Contrast this with what I like to call Status Quo Ontario, the province in which I reside.  Ontario's provincial government introduced the same HST tax that its counterpart in British Columbia tried to implement.  But there were no mass demonstrations, nor was there any referendum on the matter.  Instead, people in Ontario just shrugged, "oh well" and accepted the new tax.  As a result, nearly everything in this province is more expensive, including necessities like electricity and gas.  Yes, anyone who lives in Ontario knows how expensive powering their homes has become after the HST was smacked onto their hydro bills.  
Indeed, Ontario is the worst example of Canadian complacency when it comes to another important expense: university and college tuition.  Paying for post-secondary education has gotten a lot more expensive in most of Canada over the years, but especially in Ontario, where students pay the highest tuition fees in the country.  So what do students in Ontario do about it?  Well, almost nothing.  Maybe a demonstration at the provincial legislature once or twice a year that's so quite and orderly that you can still hear the birds chirping over the chants of heavily indebted students.  But don't expect the same lackluster response to tuition increases in Quebec.  Back in 2012, when Quebec's provincial government proposed allowing tuition fees in the province to rise to levels at which they would still be the lowest in Canada, Quebec's students poured onto the streets in loud and sometimes violent protests.  The efforts of these students not only delayed the planned tuition increase, but were also instrumental in the fall of then Premier Jean Charest's government.  If only Ontario's students would put in half the effort of their Quebec counterparts, then perhaps they wouldn't be paying the highest tuition fees in the country.

If anything, the British Columbians' revolt against the HST and the Quebec students' uprising against tuition fee increases should teach Canadians that they don't have to be sheep; they can be wolves.  So my message to all of my fellow Canadians, especially those living in Status Quo Ontario, where "shut up and take it" seems to be the provincial motto, is essentially this: Complain more often and louder than you ever have before, until you see the change you want to see. 


Sunday, 19 October 2014

End the Arab Occupation

Ever since Israel became a state in 1948 and the Jews regained their independence after two thousand years, the Arabs and their allies have been crying about the so-called occupation of what they think is their land.  How hypocritical can people be!?  If there's any occupation that needs to end, it's the Arab occupation of all lands outside of the Arabian Peninsula, which as its name implies, is the original homeland of the Arab people.  Every piece of land outside of the Arabian Peninsula that is now controlled by Arabs is controlled by them, not as a result of gradual migration, but as a result of conquest - conquest that was often brutal and led to the destruction of many different cultural and religious communities throughout the Middle East and North Africa.  In fact, I shouldn't even be talking about this conquest in the past tense, because as many of my readers will know, non-Arab and non-Muslim cultures in what is now called the "Arab World" are still under siege and some are facing extinction.  The current campaign by the Islamic State to wipe out all non-Muslim populations in its midst is a prime example of this, but of course, there are other lesser-known examples.  For instance, the Coptic Christians of Egypt - the direct descendants of the pre-Arab Egyptian population - are now a minority in their own country; consistently and relentlessly persecuted by the Muslim Arab majority.  Similar persecutions are also taking place in other Arab majority states, such as Lebanon, Iraq and in territories now under the control of the Muslim-dominated Palestinian Authority and the terrorist group, Hamas.  Some of these non-Muslim populations are actually considered Arabs because their native tongue is Arabic.  But this assumption could not be further from the truth.  Just as the Coptic Christians of Egypt are direct descendants of the original Egyptian population before the Muslim Arab conquests, so to are the Christian populations of other Middle Eastern and North African states.  The Lebanese Christians are the descendants of the ancient Phoenicians, the Iraqi Christians are descendants of the ancient Assyrians and Babylonians, and so forth.  In fact, some of these populations, though speaking Arabic as their native language, reject being called Arabs.  Even amongst the Christian population in Israel, there is a growing movement to throw off the shackles of Arab occupation.  See, for example: Israeli-Arab Christians take to the streets of Haifa for an unusual protest.  Indeed, with the emergence of extremist groups like the Islamic State, who want to reinforce the Muslim Arab occupation and destroy the cultures of the remaining original inhabitants of the Middle East and North Africa, more and more members of the communities that preceded the Arab conquests of centuries past are seeing the need to fight back.  To date, Israel is the brightest example of a pre-Arab population fighting against the Arab occupation and winning.  Unfortunately, however, much of the world would rather support the Arab occupation instead of helping the persecuted original populations of North Africa and the Middle East fight to free themselves from it.

Aiding and Abetting in Arab Occupation and Conquest

Recently, the British House of Commons took a symbolic vote to recognize a Palestinian state.  At the same time, the European Union is working to de-legitimize the Jewish re-population of Judea and Samaria.  By recognizing a Palestinian state and attempting to prevent Jews from re-settling in their ancestral lands, the Europeans are basically aiding and abetting in the continued Arab occupation of lands outside of the Arabian Peninsula.  They are saying yes to continued Arab occupation, because  a Palestinian state would no doubt be just another country where Muslim Arab dominance reigns supreme and non-Muslims are relentlessly persecuted.  Coincidentally, the refusal on the part of leaders in the West and elsewhere to recognize the Kurds' right to an independent nation-state also perpetuates the Arab occupation.  To make a long story short, the continued Arab occupation of land belonging to Jews, Kurds and various other minorities is legitimized, while attempts by Jews, Kurds and other groups to regain their lands and their independence from the Arab conquerors is scorned.  How does this make sense?  Well, it doesn't, and for those of you who would rather support the Arab occupation instead of the people who are fighting against it, you do so at your own peril, because if the Arab conquerors can get away with wiping Jews, Kurds, Assyrians, Egyptian Copts, or any other non-Arab, non-Muslim population off the map, what's to stop them from wiping you off the map, too? 

Monday, 13 October 2014

Why I Will Support John Tory for Mayor of Toronto

In two weeks, Toronto will vote for a new mayor and council.  It's been a tumultuous four years in Toronto's municipal politics, to say the least.  Four years ago, Rob Ford coasted to victory on a platform of respect for taxpayers' dollars, using the slogan, "stop the gravy train".  I was one of the many people who voted for Ford because I was tired of the reckless spending, the pandering to unions and special interest groups, and the general inability of city politicians to solve the city's problems.  I continued to support him well into his mandate because he seemed to be doing good things for the city.  He contracted out garbage west of Yonge St.; he persuaded the province to declare the TTC an essential service so that riders would never again have to go through another transit strike; and perhaps most importantly, he didn't cave in to the relentless opposition of left-wing councillors, public sector unions and the myriad of special interest groups - you know, the folks that have been leading Toronto to ruin.  But then of course came the videos - clips of our mayor smoking crack, being drunk, spewing racist and homophobic comments, and basically acting like a complete idiot - not something we want in a mayor.  Eventually, Fords antics were too much for me and I decided that I would no longer support him.  At the end of the day, Rob Ford had simply replaced the leftists' gravy train with a giant circus tent that enveloped the whole of Toronto, making it a laughingstock both here in Canada and around the world.  Fortunately, the upcoming election gives us the chance to change this.

Olivia Chow and Doug Ford: Polar Opposites Who Will Both Steer Toronto in the Wrong Direction

Early on in the campaign, it seemed that leftist candidate Olivia Chow would win by a landslide.  Thank goodness Torontonians have been thinking differently lately.  Voting in Chow as mayor would basically mean a return to the gravy train - the train that Toronto voters sought to derail by voting in Rob Ford.  Chow represents the culture of reckless spending and pandering to unions and other special interest groups that prevailed during the dark days of David Miller's mayoralty.  Electing her would mean a return to those dark days, because the only thing Chow is good at is spending taxpayers' dollars.  How would she spend them, you might ask?  She would spend them on her friends of course - the unions, the starving artists, the unemployable professional protestors that frequent City Hall, and so forth.

In contrast, Doug Ford, who has recently taken Rob's place in the campaign after Rob was diagnosed with cancer, represents a continuation of the circus that has become Toronto politics.  Yes, I understand that it wasn't him in those clips smoking crack or being drunk, but he has been the mayor's staunchest defender.  He is the mayor's brother, after all.  Still, if your own flesh and blood can't tell you that the way you're behaving is wrong, then who can?  Moreover, Doug shares the same problem as his brother in being a very divisive politician who can't work with anyone who thinks differently than him.

John Tory - For Those Who Don't Want to Choose Between the Circus Tent or the Gravy Train

Photo: Tomorrow, October 1st, at 10:30 pm we will be gathering across the city in preparation for our midnight sign blitz. 

We need your help! Sign up to be part of the John Tory sign crew:  

Once you sign up someone from the team will contact you with details! Let's get Toronto back on track! #onetoronto #topoli

Toronto does not need a return to the gravy train, nor does it need to continue hosting the Ford brothers' circus act.  What Toronto needs is a mayor that is going to unite the city; someone who doesn't just serve downtown or the suburbs; someone who is not a die-hard leftist or a hardcore conservative; and someone who can work with the city's other politicians, left, right and centre.  I believe that John Tory is that someone - or at least, he's the closest person there is that has any chance of winning this election.

During the campaign, Tory has been the only candidate to win the support of politicians on both the right and the left, whereas only left-wing politicians have endorsed Chow and no major politicians that I can think of have publicly endorsed Ford.  More importantly, polls show that John Tory has strong support from voters in all parts of Toronto, as opposed to Chow and Ford whose support comes mainly from downtown and the suburbs respectively.  As Tory's campaign has gained momentum, so has criticism of him and his platform.  His two main rivals have pointed out, for example, that Tory has no experience in municipal office.  But I honestly think that's a good thing because many of the folks who do have experience in municipal office, like Chow and Ford, are not part of the solution; they're part of the problem.

My point is that Toronto needs someone new at the helm.  Someone who will move Toronto forward rather than to the right or to the left (I believe Tory himself used similar words to describe his platform).  I just hope that Tory can keep the momentum going for the last two weeks of the campaign.  Unfortunately, he has a history of losing.  He could have been our mayor in 2003, but Toronto voters rejected him in favour of David Miller.  He could have been Ontario's premier in 2007, but lost that election as well.  Poor John Tory has never been given a chance to lead.  Too bad, because I think if he were given that chance, he would do a decent job.  Fortunately, two weeks from now, we can give him that chance.  Let's make up for the mistakes of 2003 and 2007 and give John Tory the opportunity to move Toronto forward.