“I am a proponent of a revolution in Canada.”
I am a proponent of a revolution in Canada.
I believe that Canada has the potential to become a leading force for good in the world, to inspire freedom and prosperity for people around the globe.
With recent events though, this belief has begun to erode. My once strong, hopeful resolve has begun to decompose with the filth I have seen not only in the political spectrum but in the social spectrum as well. Within the past year we Canadians have seen so many repugnant acts by our political elite. Harper – our near dictatorial prime minister – has stepped beyond the bounds of his political mandate far too many times.
The most internationally known disgrace for Canadian people has been our nation’s December exit from the Kyoto Protocol. This was a defeat not only to all those who have been fighting the Alberta oil tar sands development but also to any Canadian who once believed we were leaders in the world. No, instead our government boldly spoke for us, stating that we are nothing but puppets, selling our souls to international corporations at the expense of our health and environment.
In the process, Canada proved once more that we are nothing but a sidekick of our neighbors to the south – that unless our master, the United States of America, acts, neither will we.
Now we are heading into talks with Israel and the US to walk into yet another disastrous conflict, this time against Iran. Our soldiers have fought for more than ten years in a US-provoked war in Afghanistan. They have killed and been killed. They have shed blood and been part of the inevitable horrible acts of any war. Yet again we are willing to follow the imperialist United States into another bloody war, and for what?
Iran has no weapons of mass destruction. The only country which does have nuclear weapons in the region is the very country we are siding with. But still we are blindly following our puppet master into war – a war with much more profound implications; a war that could escalate into a major global conflict if Russia and China side with Iran (as they currently seem to be doing).
These two issues alone should be enough for mass protests, right? But wait, there is more.
Here in Canada our democratic process is being questioned. Not only because of the inherent problems with not having a proportional voting system, but also because the Harper Government willingly manipulated that very voting system. The Conservative party hired a company to call registered voters. This on its own is not unusual, but the problem is that the company aimed to find out who the voter was actually planning to vote for.
If people were planning to vote for the Conservatives, they would be pressed to vote – if not, then they often would be given false information on where they needed to vote (referring to it as a “change of venues”). This annulled opposition votes, as voters ended up in a voting area where they weren’t registered. Thousands of voters were called around our country – the most organized effort to obstruct democracy in our nation since its inception.
Beyond voter fraud, many laws and decisions have been made without any prior public debate – completely negating the idea of representative democracy. Some laws that are heading to our (predominantly Conservative) senate are the following:
Bill C-10: This omnibus crime bill will make mandatory minimum sentences the norm in our country. This has been widely denounced as not only a waste of taxpayer money, considering we will have to build super-prisons to house all the newly defined criminals, but also as a failed policing practice. Mandatory minimum sentences have never led to a drop in the crime rate. Some say they only ensure that petty criminals are imprisoned alongside the dangerous ones, encouraging further crime. The bill has even been denounced by the governor of Texas – who has been telling our government that preventative measures are far more effective in lowering crime.
Bill C-30: This is the Canadian version of SOPA/PIPA – with an added twist. It will give our police force the authority to monitor our emails, web history and private activity without warrants. It will allow the police to monitor our IP addresses and trace any activity back to our locations.
NDAA, the National Defense Authorization Act: This, many people will know, exists in the United States. What NDAA does is allow the military to indefinitely detain American citizens considered threats to the system. But wait, the recent integration of security between Canada and the US now makes it possible for the US to charge any Canadian as well (most notably in the case of Mark Emery, the marijuana legalization activist). This fact has now been underlined by the Beyond the Borders: Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness Act.
These three laws have either passed or are likely to pass in the coming months. Our freedoms are slowly being taken away to ensure that any future attempts at democratic revolt will be suppressed with harsh measures not only from our own government but from the US government as well.
As if that weren’t enough, we are currently awaiting the presentation of our federal and provincial government budgets for this fiscal year. Much of this is being hidden from the people until the budgets are actually put up (and with majority governments across the board, it is unlikely that they will not be passed). These budgets bring austerity measures that will rock our country’s social foundation. Many are expecting billions of dollars to be taken away from our universal healthcare, our Old Age Pension (OAP), Employment Insurance (EI) and other social security nets we have been so used to.
All of this has been discussed as a means to balance the budget. But this is not truly the case. To add insult to injury, our federal government will be spending hundreds of billions of dollars on fighter jets, battleships, super-prisons around the country and even a glass dome retrofitted to the Parliamentary Buildings. All the while, economists across the country are warning of an impending second recession.
Our economy is stalling. Many people believe we will be the first country in the Western Hemisphere to fall back into recession. No jobs have been created, even though the Harper Government introduced the Canadian Action Plan, which has in reality done nothing but spend billions of dollars on new infrastructure projects that created no lasting change nor any lasting jobs. When you consider population growth, our economy is not growing, it is contracting.
Finally, our economy is largely based on natural resource extraction – considered the most volatile market because it is entirely dependent on the conjuncture of the global economy and the market-based prices of these goods. Commodity speculation and a worldwide recession can cause these prices to drop at any moment, crippling our economy. To top this all off, our economic dependence on the US may just be the reason our recession could turn into a depression.
But while all of that has transpired – and with all the information out there about the degradation of our nation, our economy, our social welfare system and our environment – the people have not stood up. Rather, they are just as lethargic as ever. Worse yet, they know the problems, they see the issues, and choose not to do anything about it.
Popular inaction in the face of injustice is worse than any governmental action that creates it. It is the people’s inability to say “No!” to the destruction of our freedoms that gives our government the ability to destroy those freedoms to begin with. It is because of the inaction of well-educated people that we will soon see the worst of all imaginable worlds.
To paraphrase Edmund Burke: All it takes for evil to win is for good people to do nothing.
So while our government allows outside military forces to arrest our people on the basis of vague claims, it is we who are to blame for any person indefinitely detained without trial. While our government will go to war with yet another country, potentially costing billions of dollars and an unconscionable number of lives, it is we the people who have allowed these deaths to occur by refusing to rise up in the face of such blatant injustice. While our government passes laws giving unprecedented powers to the police, it is we who unwittingly gave up our rights, freedoms and security. While our government (happily aided by multinational corporations) leads us into ecological and financial catastrophe, it is we who blindly follow our leaders towards economic doom.
I am sick and tired of my peers using scapegoats to avoid the truth. It is not immigration that is the problem. It is not the euro crisis. It is not the criminals. And it is most definitely not the government. When looking for the problem in our country, why our future looks so bleak, why there are no jobs, why corporations are taking over, why police brutality is going up, why education is going down and why our healthcare system is ailing, we need only look in the mirror.
If we all face this very simple fact, then maybe, just maybe, we can stop our downward spiral. If we all accept that the onus is on the people for not standing up for their rights, this spring and summer may just be our saving grace.
If not, our future will be exactly like Prime Minister Stephen Harper has decreed it to be: “You won’t recognize Canada when I get through with it.”
Nadim Fetaih is a Canadian-Egyptian filmmaker. His first documentary, A Tale of Two Revolutions, is scheduled to be released later this year. This article originally appeared in Reflections on a Revolution, roarmag.org