You are currently browsing the daily archive for May 3, 2011.

Meandering though the Canadian progressive blogosphere I was struck by the amount of gloom and general disgust with our current electoral system.  This response from a commenter Thinking Man Neil on Dawg’s Blawg that  I’m cut and pasting summarizes things quite nicely.

A resounding hurrah for the return to Feudalism.

A very dark day for Canada. Stephen Harper’s antipathy for democracy is legendary: shutting down Parliament twice to avoid public accountability, being found in contempt of Parliament twice for refusing to release information to the House of Commons, covering the lies and scandals of his MP’s, staff, and advisers, giving his MP’s instructions to disrupt parliamentary committees to render them unworkable, violating campaign laws, eliminating funding for a program that allows ordinary Canadians to challenge unjust laws, legislation, and government policies at the Supreme Court level (now only the wealthy and corporations get heard) and equating dissent of his policies with a lack of patriotism and treason. Those are just a few I can think of off the top of my head.

Sixty years of social progress was lost last night. Harper wants to re-instate the death penalty, scrap universal health care for a for-profit system, eliminate public funding for political parties, curtail women’s rights to abortion, enact draconian “law and order” crime bills and engage in internet surveillance of the populace, give corporations and the wealthy while increasing military spending dramatically and pouring countless, precious Canadian kids into pointless meatgrinder wars just so he can thump his flabby, neocon chest.

Stephen Harper and Preston Manning — his former boss in the Reform Party — set out 25 years ago to polarize Canadian politics and destroy the centrist Liberal Party; they achieved that goal last night. Jack Layton’s 102-seat opposition NDP have been neutered even before they get through the door of the House of Commons by Harper’s overwhelming 167-seat majority. Fundamentalist evangelical Christians and Christian Dominionists and Reconstructionists who are strong Harper supporters and have been gaining considerable access and influence in the PMO and Privy Council will demand the advancement of a very socially conservative agenda, expecting the elimination of abortion rights, elimination of same-sex marriage rights and possible criminalization of gays, lesbians, and transgendereds, censorship control over media and culture and the possible re-instatement of anti-blasphemy laws, the teaching of creationism in science classes, elimination of funding for stem cell research, and the re-establishment of the preeminence of religion in society. Corporate interests will get massive tax cuts, an across the board roll back of environmental and consumer protection laws, reduced competition and acquisition regulations, elimination of worker’s rights to organize unions and collective bargaining, privatization of private and public pension plans, and increased foreign takeovers of Canadian natural resources including freshwater. And there won’t be thing one that the NDP opposition will be able to do to stop it.

Harper has worked tirelessly and ruthlessly for many years for this; he won’t allow it to be overturned by an “unwanted election” in four years. He has a tough, disciplined group of MP’s that he micro-manages with an iron fist, and his goal is to keep that in perpetuity in the form of a one-party system. His plans to eliminate the per-vote and election reimbursement public subsidies that will drastically reduce funds available for election campaigns for some parties while his party will reap enormous corporate donations. What we’ll be left with in the end is a situation akin to Saddam-era Iraq: token elections and token opposition with only one possible outcome.

My Canada, the Canada of tolerance, openness, freedom, and respect of and love for democracy, died last night. It’s been handed over to a group that values bigotry, misogyny, power, fear and ignorance over the better aspirations of our species.

I’m hoping it is not all as bad as Neil prognosticates.   The idea though that we have to count on Harper to moderate his policies in order to be reelected in four years seems to be a very weak check on the sort of destructive policies he champions.  It is May 3, 2011 – We’ll revisit this post and see where we are in a couple of months.

It is nice when you can find some who speaks so clearly on a topic.  I recommend you read the entire article by Greta Christina, but these are her concluding words.  Her post is a response to William Lane Craig an educated religious apologist who in his writing and debates defends the christian religion against rationality and reality.

“It’s funny. One of the most common pieces of bigotry aimed at atheism is that it doesn’t provide any basis for morality. It’s widely assumed that without religion — without moral teachings from religious traditions, and without fear of eternal punishment and desire for eternal reward — people would behave entirely selfishly, with no concern for others. And atheists are commonly accused of moral relativism: of thinking that there are no fundamental moral principles, and that all morality can be adapted to suit the needs of the moment.

But it isn’t atheists who are saying, “Well, sure, genocide seems wrong… but under some circumstances, it actually makes a certain amount of sense.” It isn’t atheists who are saying, “Well, sure, infanticide seems wrong… but looked at in a certain light, it really isn’t all that bad.” It isn’t atheists who are prioritizing an attachment to an ancient ideology over the clearest moral principles one can imagine: the principle that entire races ought not to be systematically exterminated, and the principle that children ought not to be slaughtered.

Human beings have intrinsic compassion. We have a sense of justice. We have feelings of revulsion and rage when we see others harmed. We have a desire to help create a livable world. We have a willingness to make personal sacrifices — sometimes great sacrifices — to help others in need. And contrary to what Craig and many other Christians think, these moral emotions don’t derive from the Bible, and don’t require belief in God. They’re taught by virtually every religion and every society, and atheists feel them every bit as much as believers. Humans are a social species, and these emotions and principles evolved because they help members of a social species survive and reproduce. (Other social species seem to have some or all of these moral emotions as well.)

But our compassion and justice, our altruism and moral revulsion, can be twisted. They can be stunted. They can be denied, ignored, shoved to the back burner, rationalized away. They can be contorted to the point where we’re saying that black is white, war is peace, and the most blatant evil is actually goodness if you squint your eyes just right. They can be contorted to the point where we’re saying that genocide is okay because everyone gets what they deserve in the afterlife, and that infanticide is morally necessary to teach a lesson about the evils of murdering children.

And religion is Exhibit A in how this can happen.”

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