A World United in Discontent

On October the 26th, what began as a student-led rebellion against a rise in metro fares culminated in more than a million Chileans across the country hitting the streets in a more general protest of rising wealth inequality — already the worst in Latin America — in addition to low wages, increased costs of living, poor public health care and what they see as a massively outdated and ineffective pension system. [1] Further north, in Ecuador, widespread civil unrest erupted earlier that month, following the government’s decision to end a long-standing fuel subsidy and the subsequent, dramatic rise in pump prices rocking the oil-producing nation. [2] Across the Atlantic, meanwhile, the Netherlands has played host to considerably less-violent, yet no less disruptive, traffic-blocking protests by farmers in rejection of a recent government proposal to slash Dutch agricultural production by some 50%. [3] And then, of course, there’s the French, who will celebrate a full year’s worth of weekly demonstrations against various government policies, not least including their own eco-tax on fossil fuels, this upcoming Saturday.

In all four cases, what we are witnessing is a clash between two worlds, and between the vastly differing sets of expectations that accompany them each. In the blue corner, we have the pseudo-Nirvana of Unlimited Progress and the transnational elites whom champion it; in the red corner, we see the great masses of humanity whom have become keenly aware that this vision of the Anointed Ones has been tailor-made to exclude the common folk. Caught in the middle of the conflict we find the national and sub-national contractors tasked with the dirty work of our enforced enlightenment: the politicians, the civil servants, mainstream media and the cultural industry; all eager to play the part of the dodgy referee.

And while so many remain captivated by the action in the ring, a number of fist-fights have broken out in the stands. Of particular interest to us is the ongoing scrap between the two ‘halves’ of Canada, East and West, the more vocal members of each having accused the other of rooting for the wrong contender. Insults are tossed two-and-fro at a breathtaking pace; it has become something of a chore by this stage to keep up with who has called whom what, and why. The minute it appears that tensions between the two factions may begin to thaw, someone is sure to remember some thing or another that someone else might have said, or done, or even suggested, at any point between 20 minutes and 20 years prior to now, and to lob this painful memory like a grenade in the direction of the opposing side. And just like that, the fighting resumes before the smoke has had time to clear.

At some point, however, we’ll need to ask ourselves if this brawl is not itself a mere imitation of the main event we’re ostensibly spectating. Are these regional fractures of ours deepening solely as a result of the numerous, longstanding grievances between us emerging from the shadows once more, or is this simply the mask that we, as Canadians, have decided to don before we, too, step into the arena below? Of course, it is more than likely to be a mixture of the two — surely, many of the students in Chile who first began hopping turnstiles at train stations might have been happy to leave the protests there, and none of them could have predicted that this relatively mild act of opposition would later explode into the much more intense, much more generalized rage against the state machinery now wrestling the country into a choke-hold. But no matter how exactly the fighting might have kicked off, it has now taken on a life and character of its own — there’s no going back now.

Perhaps we Canadians share much the same fate: considering that the rise in Chilean metro fares was, among other factors, instigated by fuel prices [4], and that highly similar concerns have been behind the concurrent unrest in France and Ecuador (the Dutch farmers, meanwhile, can look to the same source behind their woes as can those waging war against high fuel prices — the alleged ‘climate crisis’), it seems only natural that the particular region of Canada dependent on a functioning fossil fuel industry would make the most noise in the face of an administration seemingly hell-bent on following the example set by its French and Ecuadorian counterparts.

But with violent demonstrations, looting, and rampant civil disorder not quite being our thing in Canada, and with the country itself being tens of times larger than all of the aforementioned nations put together, it is perhaps just as natural that our own brand of discontent would manifest itself in a spatially grandiose manner — that is to say, in the form of a burgeoning separatist movement. More to the point, however, one does not have to necessarily agree with the notion of a ‘Western Exit’ to be capable of recognizing the genuine reasons behind its very existence: simply put, it is about pipelines in Alberta — but it doesn’t stop there. Likewise, it is about metro fares in Chile, about fuel taxes in France, about fuel subsidies in Ecuador and about farming quotas in the Netherlands — but in none of these cases do things stop ‘there’, either.

Because as deeply personal as this spat between East and West may feel to us as Canadians, these present hostilities do not exist, nor were created, in a vacuum. Yes, the arguments we use, the names we call each other, and the historical grievances we point to, will all be adorned with our own unique, contextual flair. But we’d be fools to believe that we are the only nation presently tearing itself apart at the seams, and nor should we believe it possible to somehow turn back the clock on all of this and go back to the way things were ‘before’ — whenever we wish that to be.

Much the same can be said for the rest of the world: the cat, as it were, is no longer anywhere near the bag. It has become starkly visible to the citizens of these countries, as well as many others, that the powers that be do not truly have their subjects’ best interests in mind; not only that, these millions of people have realized, in their own ways, the futility behind attempting to root out this problem at the ballot box. The culpable actors cannot be voted out, for so many of them are complicit in these plans that there will always be another around to fill any vacancies. They cannot be held accountable for any of their crimes, no matter the degree of evidence available, because they have given themselves the power to be accountable to no one other than themselves. Thus the people have turned to perhaps the last available and viable method of voicing their opposition: protesting, be it peacefully or otherwise. For many of us in Western Canada, surfing the tide of separatist sentiment — regardless of how realistic the thought may or may not be in practice — appears to be the only meaningful form of protest left at our disposal.

In the grand scheme of things, that this division of ours would crop up along regional lines is simply a consequence of both our size and the distribution of our comparatively miniature population. Truly, it is not the case that the English-speaking Canadians in the West are inherently, drastically different than those in the East, culturally-speaking or otherwise, and there are surely many on either side who may feel they have more in common with those on the other. Rather, we should not view it as a mere coincidence that the catalyst for this split happens to be very much the same in spirit as that behind many of the other ‘uprisings’ taking place across the globe: the clash between two worlds, as represented by the ongoing war on fossil fuels; between that of the (trans-)national elites and that of, broadly speaking, just about everyone else.

Of course, not everyone will agree with my view of the situation, nor would I expect them to. There are those who will contend that Western separation is far from a novel idea, and that its re-emergence was an inevitability independent of whatever happens in any other country. Others may counter that if our present conflict isn’t really based in what region of the country one happens to live in, then the whole argument for separation becomes something of a moot point. I can only ask that they consider the broader perspective: Canadians in the West may be asking for independence in a literal sense, but they are doing so at a time when so many others worldwide are asking for a more metaphysical form of independence — independence from government interference with their lives — and for many of the same reasons. Put differently, we might say that they are seeking out the latter ‘type’ of independence by means of demanding the former. But more importantly, because the roots of this current round of Western alienation are not, truly, unique to Western Canada, this is not a phenomenon that can be dealt with by any single act of concession. Yes, it is about pipelines — but it doesn’t stop there.

A brief, self-advertisement

I would like to briefly bring to your attention that a Bitchute channel, containing audio readings of the less image-intensive posts here by yours truly, is now live. Three such articles have been done so far, and my intent is to continue to finish these while I struggle to get over a substantial case of writer’s block.

My idea is that this might be a better means of getting my content out to a wider audience, particularly for those who might otherwise be interested but don’t have the time to sit down and dedicate the extra time toward reading it. At any rate, I can’t be the only one who listens to podcasts and videos while doing chores.

Anyway, if this is something you might be interested in (or you know someone who might be), please do check it out and/or pass along a link to the channel as you see fit. I’ll attach a link to it somewhere on this site as well, as soon as I can figure out how.

Cheers,

A. E.

Between Quebec and The Rest of Canada

For many Canadians, the federal leaders’ debate held on October 7 –one of the very few that would see all qualified, federal parties participate — was their first of the campaign, even as close to the Big Day itself that we are now. In fact, this was the only debate that featured every single federal leader and was held in English — despite English being the overwhelmingly more-common native tongue of Canadians from coast to coast, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

In the lead-up to the debate itself, quite a bit of controversy was levied, both in favour of and in opposition to, the inviting of Maxime Bernier, leader of the People’s Party of Canada (PPC). Given Bernier’s tendency to eschew politically-correct hogwash, it is understandable that the censors at CTV would be considered about including him. Quite arguably, however, it was not Bernier whom the political/media establishment should have been worried about — in fact, I will argue that it was the inclusion of Yves-François Blanchet, leader of the Bloc Québécois (BQ), that had the most damning impact upon the political consciousness of the nation.

Considering that the BQ, though a federal party, fields candidates only in the province of Quebec itself, many may have been understandably puzzled by his presence at the English-language debate. The reason, however, is simple: the BQ is effectively in competition with the Liberals over seats in Quebec, which, in tandem with Ontario, are typically considered to be vital to the overall electoral success of a given party. Not only that, the BQ has been rapidly rising to challenge the Liberals in recent polls. As such, Blanchet was likely given a podium for the sole purpose of giving Trudeau the opportunity to debate him. Yes — while the other four leaders were appealing to the country as a whole, Trudeau attempted to advertise himself to Quebec and The Rest of Canada simultaneously; Blanchet, meanwhile, predictably remained focused on securing support in only the former. The near-open acknowledgement of this unbalanced political dynamic — a poorly-healed scar cut across the entire history of Canadian confederation — in combination with the manner in which it played out over the course of the evening, is, in my mind, virtually guaranteed to go down as one of the biggest mistakes made by the Liberal Party over the course of the entire campaign period.

It all comes down to the simple fact of Blanchet’s unswerving allegiance to the interests of Quebeckers, and — as he himself said — only Quebeckers. Blanchet did not shy away from the fact that he considers Quebec to hold something of a superior status to all of the other provinces (as evidenced by his frequent references to “Quebec and the provinces” during the debate, as if to suggest that Quebec itself is not a “province”); moreover, towards the end of the debate he stated that, to the extent that the interests of Quebec and that of The Rest of Canada happen to converge, the province is happy to cooperate — the implication here being that, should those interests conflict with one another, Blanchet will pursue a “Quebec First” style of domestic diplomacy. In other words, Albertans should not hold hopes for the Energy East pipeline project becoming a reality any time soon, so long as Blanchet has anything to say about it. Although we may both list our nationalities as “Canadian”, it is quite clear that Blanchet considers the desires of some Canadians to be more important than others.

Of course, none of this rhetoric comes off as particularly surprising, considering that the flip-flopping issue of Québécois nationalism and/or sovereignty from The Rest of Canada has, as mentioned, been a hotly-contested topic since before confederation in 1867. And, given that the BQ openly admits themselves to be laser-focused on the promotion of Québécois nationalism, interests, and sovereignty, it is no more surprising that the party’s leader would continue to walk the walk at the federal leaders’s debate.

What is likely to have unsettled a number of viewers, however, is just how blunt Blanchet was about his priorities — Quebec, and only Quebec — and, more crucially, the dedicated manner in which he maintained that Quebec, while more ‘special’ than the other provinces, should nevertheless continue to receive equalization payments from those other provinces. In fact, Blanchet all but openly suggested that Quebec ought to receive more federal welfare than it already does, on the basis of its having allegedly done “the most” in the fight against climate change. In other words, his belief appears to be that Quebec does not have to cooperate with the other provinces if it doesn’t want to, but should still be able to take money from them. Aside from the aforementioned quip about climate mitigation, no argument was provided by Blanchet as to why The Rest of Canada ought to be on board with this, other than the fact that Blanchet said so.

Now, that’s what Blanchet said at the debate — the reaction to what he said, on the other hand, may prove itself to be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

To my admitted surprise, Trudeau was the only party leader to push back against Blanchet’s flagrant Franco supremacy during the debate itself, countering that (to paraphrase) “Quebeckers can do whatever Canadians can do, as Quebeckers are Canadians by definition.” Of course, to anyone in the audience that had been paying attention, this was clearly not the case — if any other province had attempted to assert itself and advocate exclusively for the interests of its citizens in the manner that Blanchet had just done for Quebec, they would have been dragged across the coals and denounced as ‘sewing division’ by the mainstream press, rightly or wrongly. If nothing else, the debate served to make it quite obvious to The Rest of Canada that there are, in fact, a multitude of things that Quebec can do and say that the other provinces cannot. I believe that this factor alone — a glaring spotlight cast upon the unspoken agreement that a stringent, highly-effective social hierarchy exists here in Canada — ought to be enough to strike serious doubts regarding the unity of our nation into the hearts of Canadians across the country.

For Alberta, having seemingly taken on the role of the “red-headed stepchild” of the provinces and, beyond being named-and-shamed for its fossil fuel activities by both Blanchet and Green Party leader Elizabeth May, received effectively no attention from any of the party leaders regarding any of the multiple problems it is currently grappling with, the damage inflicted on its increasingly-tenuous relationship with the federal government by being so blatantly degraded as Quebec’s Piggy Bank ought to be fairly obvious. The Rest of The Rest of Canada, meanwhile, ought to be asking themselves, if they haven’t already begun to do so, the very same question that Albertans — and other Western Canadians, for that matter — have been asking for some time, now: Why isn’t there anyone at the federal level who cares as much about the people in my province as Blanchet and the BQ seem to care about those in Quebec? If we really are all equal partners in this national project of ours, why are the concerns of some of us seen to be more worthy of discussion than that of the rest of us?

Some of the other, very important issues featuring in this election which were either glossed-over or ignored entirely over the course of the debate include, but are not limited to, the rising rates of crime, and violent crime in particular; the opioid epidemic; the perilously overwhelmed immigration system; the ever-worrying state of the national economy; our disputes with China, no less their continued detention of Canadian citizens; and our country-wide shortage of health care professionals. These are all issues that affect Canadians in B.C. as much as they do Canadians in Nova Scotia — but these, for whatever reason, were not considered to be topics worthy of much attention.

The province of Quebec, meanwhile, was given its very own seat at the table, purely by virtue of Trudeau really, really needing to win some seats there. Not only that, its very name was invoked almost twice the amount of the next-most popular term, “climate”. Quebec, and all things Quebec, was quite well represented in the discussion, indeed — if only The Rest of Canada could have said the same. But as much as the political class may ultimately aim to win-over all Canadians, they especially need to win over the ones in Quebec.

Meanwhile, as the hands of the clock strike ever closer towards midnight, Trudeau has since switched tactics on the Quebec campaign trail: rather than appealing to Quebeckers to choose the Liberals over the BQ, he has begun to ask them to vote Liberal in order to stop the Conservatives from winning too many seats overall. That’s right — by means of a gruesomely hypocritical about-face, Trudeau now wants Quebec to be the deciding factor in how The Rest of Canada will be governed. Of course, owing to the present distribution of parliamentary seats, this has always been the case to some extent, as Ontario and Quebec hold the highest numbers of them — 121 and 78, respectively — over all the other provinces. What is different this time, however, is that Quebec is now being made to choose explicitly between two, possible positions within the confederation: Quebec as Part-of-Canada; or Quebec as Part-of-But-Separate-From-The-Rest-of-Canada.

Certainly, they have a difficult choice to make. Unfortunately, neither option offers any hope of repairing the damage that has been wrought upon the country by a century and a half of selective, provincial favoritism. It should be said, however, that we shouldn’t really fault the people of Quebec for wanting to vote for the guy who will stand up for their interests — surely, if The Rest of Canada had the option, they might very well do the same. Time will tell, but perhaps this catastrophe of a leadership debate (and election campaign, more generally) will help to provide the impetus for the right parties and leaders — provincially, if not federally — to rise to the challenge of giving their respective constituents precisely that privilege. At any rate, the possibility no longer appears to be as far-fetched as has previously been assumed.

Organic Energy, The Rich Man’s ‘Idiot Tax’

Just last night, a considerable amount of controversy erupted over the revelation that the Liberal campaign has used not one plane to transport their staff from sea to shining sea, but two — one for people; the other, allegedly, for their luggage. Not to fear, however, as the LPC swiftly issued a press release stating that they had “purchased carbon offsets” to cover their air travel emissions; the Conservatives, meanwhile, they were quick to point out, had not. I’m not entirely sure how this explanation has worked out for them thus far, considering the vast majority of the responses I have seen on social media have been very much along the lines of, “What the f**k is a ‘carbon offset’?”

And, in all fairness, it’s a pretty good question.

In order to find an answer, I had a browse through the website for the company the LPC is alleged to have purchased these “carbon offsets” from: Bullfrog Power Inc., which bills itself as “Canada’s leading green energy provider.” As it turns out, however, Bullfrog does not itself provide energy of any sort — rather, they take your money and use it to pay actual green energy producers to generate it. So, more like green energy retailers, right?

Nope, not even that.

Bullfrog does not change anything about the energy consumption practices of its clients: it will not somehow make your home run entirely on green energy, nor will it even have any effect on how much “dirty” energy you’re currently using. Starting at just $11 a month, you can simply pay Bullfrog to pay for green energy to be sent to the electrical grid, “on your behalf”.

That’s it. Moreover, this appears to be their entire business model.

Now, you might be asking yourself, “Why on Earth would I pay extra for energy that I will not personally be consuming?” Great question! Using the analogy of a sink being filled with two taps of water — one “dirty”, the other “clean” — they say that, as you are adding the dirty water from the one tap and draining it through the sink (consumption), you can pay to also have the other tap turned on; this will fill the “sink” (grid) with a higher ratio of clean:dirty water than it had held before. Supposedly, the idea is to get to a point where we don’t need as much water from the dirty tap, because the clean tap has enough to fill the entire sink.

The analogy works, but perhaps not for the reason they think — they leave out the part where the sink, much like an electrical grid, has a limited capacity to hold water/energy and will hit capacity much faster if there is more water (of any sort) flowing into it than before, and it is not accordingly being drained at a higher rate. In other words, increasing supply without increasing demand. This is a bit of a problem, as the entire premise rests on the idea that there will be an increase in demand for green/renewable electricity — but once the water is in the same sink, it’s not possible to scoop out a portion and determine how much of it came from either tap, and exactly the same holds true for electricity in the grid. If you’re on the grid to start with, you don’t get a choice as to how the energy you draw from it was produced. Thus, in order to ensure that it was all produced in a “clean” manner, you would have to prevent the dirty water from getting into the sink in the first place — i.e., stop using fossil fuels entirely. But until we are in a position where we can feel safe shutting down all of our “unclean” energy sources without really throwing a wrench into the works — and we’re not — the entire exercise is pretty much pointless.

In the meantime, you’re basically sending Bullfrog money to help subsidize the massively inefficient and unreliable production of energy by renewable means, and in return you’ll receive a monthly bill that maybe makes you feel better after having been relentlessly shamed by the media for the fact that you exist. Crucially, your actual electrical bills are not going to be impacted in any way that benefits you: again, since you don’t get to choose where the energy you use comes from, it’s not as if you’ll get to pay less carbon taxes in exchange for having also payed for low-carbon energy production. If anything, your bills will probably increase as time goes on, considering that renewable energy is much more expensive to produce than it is via fossil fuels — after all, if it were cheaper to produce, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. All in all, you’re paying more money now for the opportunity to pay even more money later.

But don’t take my word for it — even a representative of Greenpeace has spoken out against the use of carbon offsets as a “get out of jail free card”, owing to the obvious fact that you cannot justify increasing (or maintaining) your emissions simply by paying extra to do so, any more than you can justify beating your wife because you donate money to a battered women’s shelter. If the theory behind reducing CO2 emissions holds that a build-up of the stuff in the atmosphere is bad, it follows that you would actually have to reduce the amount being emitted in order to keep it from building up. Regrettably, it is not yet possible to cut a cheque fat enough to stop the first law of thermodynamics in its tracks.

Essentially, this is the same marketing tactic used by companies who offer to donate X amount of proceeds from a given product for each item that is sold: the ‘donation’ is contingent upon your purchase. They don’t just donate the money outright because they want you to buy the product so they can make a profit — even if they donate 5% of the proceeds to charity, they get to keep the other 95% of profit that they wouldn’t otherwise have. Carbon offsets/credits appear to function in much the same way: Bullfrog isn’t going to just invest in clean energy and tech with their own money (and given the non-profitability of the sector, I can’t say that I blame them); they want you to give them money so that they can invest X amount of it on your behalf, while keeping some undisclosed amount for themselves. The only product that they’re really selling here is, by all appearances, the opportunity to “feel good” about doing something for the climate, while not actually doing anything for the climate.

My mother used to refer to lottery cards and scratch tickets as the “idiot tax” — a non-mandatory tax paid by people dumb enough to think they have a reasonable chance of winning more money than what they’d paid for the tickets in the first place. Now, with all due respect to lottery players (I’ll grab a card or two myself sometimes), what I’m sensing from this whole carbon credit scheme is very much along the same lines: it’s an extra carbon tax paid by people dumb enough to believe that it’s OK to drink a cup of cyanide if you chase it with a cup of water. At the very least, I can understand why people play the lottery: there is a chance, however infinitely small, that one may receive a tangible reward for doing so. With carbon offsets, you are only compensated insofar as you believe that you’re doing something to help.

The whole thing sounds so unbelievably stupid, it’s hard to believe the fact that carbon credits/offsets have managed to become an industry at least profitable enough to have won the favour of the leader of a G7 country, who is perfectly willing to donate what is probably taxpayer money to companies like Bullfrog “on our behalf.” Until, that is, you remember that said leader has a higher net worth than he does functional intelligence; perhaps the same can be said for every other person buying into this scheme. At any rate, I’ve become increasingly convinced that, given a well-written and convincing enough proposal, I could probably get the federal government to send me money to find a way to transmute nickel into gold — only one way to find out!

From the Inside, Looking Out

So, here’s the thing.

I, like many Canadians, had for many years bought into the widespread misconception of democratic governance constituting some kind of political ‘end-state’; some pinnacle of societal achievement, in no need of further perfection and essentially impervious to most threats, such that it could be brought down only by a sudden disaster of an exceptional character and/or foreign occupation by a non-democratic state. Without even knowing his name or his record, I had nevertheless managed to fully imbibe Francis Fukuyama’s theory of “the end of history”, wherein governance by liberal democracy appears virtually synonymous with the attainment of a society-wide state of nirvana. Fukuyama has long since walked back this claim in a variety of ways, but this particular myth appears to pervade ostensibly liberal, democratic societies to this day, and perhaps has even been doing so since long before Fukuyama first put the phenomenon into writing.

Partly owing to this blessed ignorance of mine, for many years I had no reason to feel as if anything bad was happening in my own, liberal democracy. I went on to spend five years in university learning from, and speaking to, people who were experts on the subject of tyranny — if not because they had studied the topic for years, then because they themselves had lived through the experience. Even before this, I have always been drawn to literature, fictional or otherwise, first- or second-hand, dealing with the stories of those people unfortunate enough to have to try living under an oppressive and hostile state regime. I always wanted to know how things could ever get to that point — surely, one does not simply wake up one day and suddenly realize that something has gone horribly wrong. There must be warning signs; events and circumstances that might indicate the devious direction one’s country is headed towards.

All the while, my interest in such things had something of a voyeuristic aspect to it. As much as I shuddered to think of what I would have — or could have — have done in a similar situation, my musings on the matter were only slightly less ignorant than those that could be offered by someone with decidedly less interest on the topic. One way or the other, all of the first-hand tales in the world could not change the fact that I, myself, had never been in such circumstances. Crucially, this allowed me to retain a degree of separation from the horrible realities that others had endured; it did not, I believed, ever have to enter my reality. After all, it was not my brother who was dragged, kicking and screaming, out of his apartment building at three in the morning, never to be seen again. It was not my father who was shot in front of his family for refusing to hand over his farming equipment. And above all, it was not me who had to live with the memory of these things; who could vividly re-tell the events contained within, as if they had happened yesterday; who would never be able to forget them, even if I wished to do so. Though the empathy I felt for their suffering may have been genuine, their sorrow was not truly my burden to bear: I could leave this re-constructed world of terror at any point, and return to the one that did not scare me quite so much. Ultimately, I had the choice not to think about those things.

A lot of things have changed, since then. I’m no longer sure when it first was that I realized there was something rotten about the state of Canada. Certainly, it was some time around the Indian Voyage fiasco early last year that I knew for sure the country was not being led by our best and brightest. By then, the trans-Atlantic network of suspiciously well-dressed and well-fed “refugees” flowing between New York state and the Quebec border had been quite well established; this had made me angry at the time, so perhaps the end of my optimism had come even sooner than the India trip. I don’t really remember, but it doesn’t matter either way.

Fast forward to this past week. On Wednesday, a journalist, who is by no means a stranger to his seasoned colleagues whom hail from other news outlets, was repeatedly denied access to the Liberal Party campaign bus, on the alleged basis of not having the proper accreditation as a member of the media. This rationale works well as a cover-story to the public ear, because most members of the general public are not aware that accreditation is nothing like a process of “certification” or even “licencing”; rather, it is the simple act of demonstrating that one has contributed content to the news media in some manner (i.e., is a journalist), and receiving a slip of paper meant to serve as recognition of that fact. That’s it. For someone such as this particular journalist, accreditation is only a Google search away.

Of course, that’s not what happened. Effectively, this journalist was denied accreditation to board the bus, on the basis of not having accreditation to board the bus. As his colleague explains, “This is the equivalent of showing up at the DMV to get a driver’s license and them telling you that they can’t give a license because you’re not a licensed driver” — a perfect Catch-22. As the story goes, this journalist was later detained by police for following behind the bus by car; he says he had no choice but to do this, as none of the journalists who were on the bus, much less the campaign war room, were willing to tell him or his outlet where it would be pulling over next. This, in a country where, provided you meet the appropriate racial description, you can shove your hand down the pants of a 14 year-old girl and get away with it — don’t try to follow the Liberal campaign bus, though, because the police will get right on that! Later, on the other side of the country, he was denied entry (again, by local police) into a public building where a Liberal campaign event was taking place — not as a member of the media, mind you, but as an ordinary, curious member of the electorate. Just like you and me.

One of the other things I have always wondered about tyrannies of the past is whether or not a substantial part of the population was ever on board with it. Surely, one would expect that many would be made to go along with the narrative; but were there any among them who genuinely bought into the lies they were peddling? Depending on the particular regime, the answer to this varies considerably — sometimes, yes; other times, no. At any rate, most are not permitted the space to openly voice any disagreement, and the general public is left only to wonder.

Well, as it turns out, there is something to be said for the power of denial. Witnessing the passionate creativity with which any and all concerns regarding the legality, credibility, or indeed the necessity of the events outlined above have been effortlessly cast-aside by multiple members of the public, is truly a sight to behold. It’s the kind of mental run-around that could only be successfully orchestrated by those who really ought to know better — which is why I call it denial, rather than pure ignorance.

In all fairness, I can understand where they’re coming from: this land, our land, is not supposed to be a place where those things happen. Thus, there has to be some legitimate reason to refuse a journalist — conspicuously, one belonging to one of the few genuinely right-wing media outlets that remain in this country — entry to Liberal campaign events — right? There simply must be some kind of explanation for this. Because, if it turns out that there isn’t one, then that means that we live in a country where the ruling party can prevent a credible member of this press from covering their campaign events during an election, simply because there is a high chance that said journalist will disagree with the party’s position; maybe even in written form. Which, if it were true, would imply that we really, really don’t have such a thing as a free press in Canada. And that just can’t be the case — right?

Right?

No — you know what? That journalist can’t be a “real” journalist if he wasn’t allowed to cover the Liberal campaign. Maybe that’s it. Maybe, he was a journalist at some point, but he isn’t now. I’m not really sure how that would be determined beyond the aforementioned accreditation system, but surely the sitting party has a reliable way of doing it — this is their job, after all; who are we to question their performance? And, you know, even if the NDP thought his credentials were good enough to cover their campaign events, that doesn’t mean that the Liberals didn’t make the right decision — different party, different policy. What do we really know about any of this? We didn’t see how he was driving — maybe they were worried about being followed by a car. That’s reasonable, isn’t it? After all, some very important people were on board that bus; their safety really ought to come first. Maybe, then, they figured the guy was trouble when he tried to enter a different event as a member of the public, and they denied him entry just to be on the safe side. I mean, we really should be asking why this “journalist” was so persistent in the first place: do you really have to ask the Prime Minister questions, like, that badly? Like, come on, man; just do what you’re told and stop causing problems.

Right, so, there’s nothing really amiss here. This guy is just salty that he wasn’t allowed in, and he’s probably exaggerating the details because of that. That makes sense — much more sense than his version of the story, where he wasn’t allowed on the bus “just because.” None of this really means anything, then. No need to be upset. No need to fan the flames any further; we really ought to just forget about the whole thing. That sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Let’s not worry about it anymore.

We still live in a liberal democracy — this is Canada, after all. The true north, strong and free. There’s no tyranny in Canada, nor should we ever expect it. Anyone who tells you otherwise is just trying to cause trouble, so it’s best to ignore them. Things really aren’t that bad here.

…right?

In truth, I don’t know. I don’t like any of this; I don’t like where we’re heading, and I don’t really like to imagine what could happen further down the road. I would rather not try to speculate as to how it could get that bad here, or what that would mean, or what it might look like. In fact, I would rather not think about those things at all. Now’s about the time that I would really, really like to go back to playing the role of an audience member, to be observing the events of someone else’s world, and not be a part of it myself.

If only I still had the choice.

Sympathy for Climate Barbie

According to an article released today by The Canadian Press, one of our nation’s most ‘beloved’ (hated) politicians — Environment Minister Catherine “Climate Barbie” McKenna — who has long been the target of angry Twitter replies and private messages practically since her election, has more recently been subjected to verbal abuse while out in public; on some occasions, this has happened while she was accompanied by her kids. As the article reports:

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says she was recently walking outside a movie theatre with her children when a car slowly pulled to a stop beside them.

The driver rolled down his window and then he let fly.

“F…… you, Climate Barbie,” he shouted, as she tried to back away from his car and get her kids away from him.

Now, it should be explained for the non-Canadians that McKenna isn’t exactly admired by large swaths of the country: she is, among other things, one of the chief architects of our nation’s controversial carbon tax; she is well-known on Canadian Twitter for her horrendously tone-deaf takes regarding pretty much anything related to the economy, or the environment, for that matter; and on top of all this, her ministry has had a direct hand in the ongoing dismantling of our oil and gas sector, which has cost some hundreds of thousands of jobs over the course of her tenure, primarily in the province of Alberta where most of said jobs were located. So, one can imagine why she doesn’t have the biggest fan club. This much is clearly demonstrated as the article continues:

The incident at the movie theatre is just one of several times her kids have been with her when someone in public began to yell at her. She has been called the C-word, a traitor, an enemy and a “communist piece of garbage.” Her family’s safety has been threatened more than once. Some people have wished she and her children will get fatal diseases. She has received sexualized messages so hateful they could be enough to make even the hardest of hearts skip a beat.

At any rate, McKenna’s been feeling enough of the heat that she now feels it necessary to be escorted by a security detail while out and about, at least in some circumstances. Now, I can understand that this must be a less than ideal situation for her to be in, no less for her kids. However, I can also understand why this is happening — and it’s not, as McKenna appears to believe, simply because she’s a woman in politics.

Before we begin to dissect this, a big, fat disclaimer: I am in no way condoning sending McKenna threats of any sort, nor attacking her children (or even attacking her when she is with them in public). It’s not even about ‘optics’, really; all this kind of thing does is give the political establishment further justification for silencing the voice of the opposition. We should be spending what limited room we still have left to be heard by the greater public in a productive, level-headed manner; not encouraging the already-small window of “acceptable speech” to grow ever smaller.

Having said that — what did she think was going to happen? Did she honestly, seriously expect to be able to ruin the livelihoods of thousands of Canadians, not just in Alberta but across the country, and not have to deal with the predictable anger generated by her actions? Canadians may be an unfortunately passive folk, but we’re far from passive enough to take this kind of abuse lying down — honestly, I’m more surprised that this kind of reaction is only bubbling up now, a month before the election, than I am that it’s happening at all. Again, I ask: did she actually think that she could play such an active, enthusiastic role in destroying the financial security of so many individuals and families without being made to face some form of backlash over it? I mean… really?

Now, I’m not at all sure if McKenna believes her own bullshit: I’m tempted to say that, yes, she does genuinely think that “our planet is burning” and is justifying the disaster she has inflected upon helpless resource industry workers and their families as being necessary for some greater good; on the other hand, her infamous penchant for staged photo-ops leads me to believe that she may be aware, at least to some extent, of the true nature behind this mass hysteria-turned-pyramid scheme we call the “climate crisis” — at the very least, she is clearly no stranger to the art of deception. One way or another, the anger she is currently facing from members of the general public is in no way unique from that faced by any other politician who’s managed to piss off as many people as she has; the only difference here is that she’s trying to defer responsibility for the consequences of her bad decisions by declaring this vitriol to be grounded in her being female, rather than in those bad decisions.

It could be that, as a liberal-minded woman in 2019, McKenna really did expect not to face the same sort of personal attacks and public condemnation for being a corrupt politician as have her male, corrupt counterparts throughout the entire history of democratic government. It’s not a reasonable expectation, but I can see someone like McKenna having it — they don’t call her “Climate Barbie” just because she’s blonde and pretty, after all. But if this is the case, she seems to have forgotten how poorly the “female politicians are beyond criticism” card worked out for her former party colleagues, Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Phillpot; the electorate, on the other hand, has not — maybe McKenna thinks she’s special. Or, she could be entirely aware that no one really gives a damn that she’s female and is simply desperate to curry favour and sympathy from the (hopefully) few remaining members of the public who do care — again, I’m not entirely sure.

I will admit to being quite biased in this regard however, sitting here, as I am, actively suffering from the holy decrees issued by High Priestess McKenna — and I don’t even work in oil and gas. Among those who don’t like to think about much of anything for terribly long, it appears relatively common to assume that the only people who’re really affected by the devastation of our natural resource sector are the sector workers themselves; moreover, the fact that some of those people once made a comfortable living for themselves leads the lazy-thinkers to demonstrate little to no sympathy for the entirely manufactured crisis that they now have to endure. Of course, the matter is much more complicated: as it turns out, if a large chunk of the population in a given region derives their primary income from a particular sector of the economy, and that sector is then actively undermined at every possible twist and turn, such that those people start losing their jobs due to large-scale capital flight toward safer operational waters, we can expect the following sequence of events to unfold:

  • The people who lost their jobs will have to either find a different, likely lower-paying job, or they will have to move out of the region to find work — either way, they will be putting less money back into the economy than they were before, if any at all;
  • If there’s not as much money flowing back into the local economy, there is less ability and incentive for businesses in the service sector to have as many staff on hand and/or provide the same level of service as before. Accordingly, workers in that sector are subject to pay cuts and layoffs of their own;
  • Quite obviously, making less money tends to lead toward having less disposable income, which means — again — less money flowing back into the local economy. As people, businesses, and investors continue to flee the region, and there is no substitute employment available for the displaced workers to turn to, this cycle perpetuates itself near-infinitely. The casualties will continue mount up over time, and will come to include not only the original victims and the service industry, but as well those professional sectors that require having clients around in order to make a living — doctors, lawyers, real estate, the public sector, you name it;
  • Ultimately, by the time you get to a situation akin to the one currently faced by Albertans, thousands of individuals and families, with incomes ranging from between $0 to over $100,000 annually, end up getting screwed over; irrespective of whether or not those individuals and families were directly employed by the sector targeted for destruction.

So you see, it’s not just the knuckle-dragging F150 drivers so despised by yuppy urbanites that are feeling the pain — it’s also all those people who effectively depend upon those “uneducated hillbillies” having money to spend in order to keep their own employers afloat, many of whom happen to be on the lower end of the pay scale. As such, while McKenna and her cronies rail against the Big Oil execs for supposedly destroying the climate, they fail to realize — or care — that the reckless decimation of this particular industry ultimately affects those executives at an absolutely miniscule level, in comparison to how it affects virtually everyone working beneath them. Rather than “fighting on behalf” of the working and middle class, she and her party have played an active part in destroying them both.

Adding insult to injury is how much McKenna, along with virtually the entire roster of the Liberal party, actively demean and look down upon anyone who complains about the consequences outlined above. Anyone familiar with her Twitter feed will be aware of how frequently she chastises any and all criticism of the government’s “climate action” as pushing “divisive” and “partisan” rhetoric, before turning around and sewing further division and partisanship with claims that a Conservative government will somehow destroy the economy even more so than she has. McKenna parrots her latest mantra — “It’s good for the environment, and it’s good for the economy” — ad nauseum, while at the same time turning her back on the thousands of citizens who have very genuine, very pressing concerns regarding being made to pay greater taxes while having less disposable income with which to do so. “We’ve got a real climate plan that reduces pollution and puts more money in your pockets,” declares Her Holiness from the pulpit, while households across Alberta and beyond wonder if they’ll ever see a dime.

So — is it unfortunate that Catherine McKenna has been accosted in public while her children were present? Yes. Is it perhaps a bit scary for her to have to deal with justifiably angry people, be it on social media or in real life? Sure. Have some of the things said by those people been a bit over-the-top, or even uncalled for? I suppose I could agree to that, too.

But do I feel bad for her? Not in the slightest. I do feel bad for her kids, who are being intimidated through no fault of their own; but as for their mother, I couldn’t care less. To a certain extent, I wish I could “be the better person” here and muster up some degree of sympathy for her, however minute, despite our “differing views” — but it’s really not about different views anymore, is it? After all, these views of hers have been translated into policies that have had a direct, unilaterally negative effect on thousands of households like mine, and I find it extremely difficult to care about McKenna’s troubles when she has never even once acknowledged the far more serious troubles she has inflicted upon so many of her fellow Canadians as a result of her decisions. Some people have even lost their homes, all on account of having had the misfortune to have been employed in a sector that became a target for politically-motivated interference; this, too, McKenna has actively encouraged. With that being the case, all I have to say to McKenna is this: I’m sorry to hear that you’re being yelled at on the street, but look on the bright side — at least you don’t have to sleep there.

COMMENTARY: “Uh-oh: Silicon Valley is building a Chinese-style social credit system” by Mike Elgan

At long last, someone in the (relatively) mainstream media is talking about what I’ve been warning of on this blog for the last couple of months — China’s social credit system, coming to a smartphone application near you. Elgan’s article does not cover the totalitarian coup de gras, however — this being the addition of “carbon conscious” behavioral nudges, in between all the ‘regular’ ones — but in all fairness, it may be a little too early in the “normie sphere” of understanding the world to introduce the concept just yet. Wouldn’t want to freak people out, right?

Just for review, Elgan describes the current Chinese model off helicopter-governing as follows:

In place since 2014, the social credit system is a work in progress that could evolve by next year into a single, nationwide point system for all Chinese citizens, akin to a financial credit score. It aims to punish for transgressions that can include membership in or support for the Falun Gong or Tibetan Buddhism, failure to pay debts, excessive video gaming, criticizing the government, late payments, failing to sweep the sidewalk in front of your store or house, smoking or playing loud music on trains, jaywalking, and other actions deemed illegal or unacceptable by the Chinese government [emphasis added].

So, you see, the system already goes far beyond the level of suppressing political dissent and/or enforcing the law, however draconian: “unacceptable” behaviors are now deemed to include excessive video gaming (how this is defined is, of course, for the government to know and the citizens to find out) and being rude in public. Again — it is really not that far of a leap between these current standards and the incoming, “green behavior” standards as are to be set by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). “Failing to properly sort recyclables” would not look out of place on the above list in the slightest.

And what are the punishments to be bestowed upon those who transgress the credit system?

Punishments can be harsh, including bans on leaving the country, using public transportation, checking into hotels, hiring for high-visibility jobs, or acceptance of children to private schools. It can also result in slower internet connections and social stigmatization in the form of registration on a public blacklist [emphasis added].

I find the potential restrictions on movement to be of the most concern, here: the Chinese public may very well be used to it, at this point; but imagine if such a system were to come into place over here, in the West? You could be slowly wasting away in an economic dumpster-fire of a state — California, perhaps — and yet be unable to move residence owing to your failure to pick up enough litter to satisfy some arbitrarily-set quota. You would be, in essence, held captive in your present location until you were able to ‘absolve’ yourself of your ‘crimes’ — even if you no longer had any form of employment there, or a roof under your head.

Before brushing off this thought as unnecessarily alarmist, consider for a moment just how quickly things could spiral under control: you could be barred from public transit because you spent too much of your free time gaming. If you happen to rely on public transit to get to and from work, you’re in trouble: you’ll need to either find some longer or more expensive way to get to work, which could then leave you with too little time left over to complete your other, Good Citizen duties or, failing that, too little money left over at the end of the month to sustain yourself as before. Even if you can find work closer to home, you may have to accept lower pay or poorer benefits — one way or another, the point is that the system is set up to make it harder to attempt to clear one’s credit score the more infractions that are committed. As such, you have quite a bit of incentive to avoid gaming “too much” in the first place, lest you end up in a life-ruining spiral of trying to redeem yourself with even less ability to do so than you started off with — and this is just regarding freedom of movement; never mind all of the other punishments that are sure to exist.

The above scenario may be speculative for now, but we might not have to speculate for much longer — the article goes on to list a number of social credit-esque programs currently in use in the United States and elsewhere. I suppose not even the “free market economy” can save us from mass surveillance. The examples provided here deal with life insurance (companies monitoring your social media content to determine your premiums); scanning IDs at bars to check the individual against a blacklist of those who have been barred by other, participating businesses in the past — but, as the article says, “Judgment about what kind of behavior qualifies for inclusion on a PatronScan list is up to the bar owners and managers,” meaning that the system could be used abusively, in theory; in addition to those of Uber, AirBnB, and Whatsapp, all of which reserve the right to ban users for any reason they see fit to (or, in the case of Whatsapp, if “too many” users block you). When it comes to Uber and AirBnB, I’m not as concerned with the capacity for arbitrary bans only because neither company holds a monopoly over their respective markets — it may be more expensive to take a regular tax or to rent a regular hotel room, but it is not the same as being barred outright from doing either. That said, we should be worried by the potential for targeted mass-blocking campaigns (which would be similar to targeted mass-reporting campaigns currently in use on Twitter) to get someone kicked off of Whatsapp: as noted in the article the app is “small potatoes” in the United States, but the main form of electronic communication in many, many other countries worldwide.

Wrapping things up, the author does a great job of explaining what, if anything, people need to be concerned about when it comes to this form of social engineering:

The most disturbing attribute of a social credit system is not that it’s invasive, but that it’s extralegal. Crimes are punished outside the legal system, which means no presumption of innocence, no legal representation, no judge, no jury, and often no appeal. In other words, it’s an alternative legal system where the accused have fewer rights.

Precisely: carrying on with the example of excess video gaming, perhaps it won’t ever become illegal, technically speaking, for one to do so; but if people are being actively and effectively punished for their actions, it won’t have to be. And if it’s not illegal, the public has very few options available for getting things to change — we don’t get to elect board CEOs or hold referendums on changes to terms of services, after all.

Elgan continues:

If current trends hold, it’s possible that in the future a majority of misdemeanors and even some felonies will be punished not by Washington, D.C., but by Silicon Valley. It’s a slippery slope away from democracy and toward corporatocracy.

In other words, in the future, law enforcement may be determined less by the Constitution and legal code, and more by end-user license agreements.

Considering the now well-known biases and tendencies of American tech companies, the frightening possibilities are endless. If Google’s search engine can hide certain search results or prioritize some links over others, according to the company’s internal, politically-set mandate, could they hide businesses owned by people with poor social credit scores from Google Maps? Could Facebook find a way to penalize users in real-time for having the ‘wrong’ people on their friends list? To repeat: none of the above discussion even touches upon what the UNEP wants to do to encourage “green behavior,” and given the aforementioned biases in the tech industry, it’s hard to imagine that they wouldn’t willingly comply with requests to monitor users’ “carbon footprints.”

So, if you’re worried about the prospects now, I’m sorry to say that there’s only going to be even more to worry about in the near future. Sadly, there’s not much that can be done about it at this stage, aside from delaying the inevitable: basically, my advice would be to boycott businesses that use the aforementioned monitoring tactics to the greatest extent that you can. In this game of behavioral control, the only way to win is to not play.

Full article at: https://www.fastcompany.com/90394048/uh-oh-silicon-valley-is-building-a-chinese-style-social-credit-system