Sunday, August 19, 2007

Montebello is tomorrow

Today I need to revisit the past a little. Does anyone remember the 2000 US elections? I know anyone in close proximity to me remembers it not so much for the outcome, but more because I was screaming at the top of my lungs for most of that week. I bring it up because so many terrible things have taken place since then that the fact that the election was hijacked is no longer a part of the discussion. Bush did not win, the country was taken hostage and instead of rioting in the streets, the american people shook their heads.

The effect this had on the rest of the world was profound. If the first and some say best example of modern democracy living today could so easily be pulled out from under it's own people, why should any other dictator hesitate to pursue their goals through corruption and violence? The validating influence of the united states and it's position on a range of issues became paper thin overnight.

Domestically, the conservatives came out of the closet. I don't mean fiscal conservatives who have always shared a reasonable and centrist attitude with their left leaning neighbors. After all, in order to enact, maintain and upgrade the social services we all enjoy, we'll need a way to pay for it. A substantive and honest discussion between smart people who disagree is the only way to manage such a huge country with a diverse population. The closet-walkers I'm talking about don't seem to know the first thing about money, except how to spend it irresponsibly and then how to plead for a loan for more. The moral conservatives who can in one breath accuse trapped pregnant women as murderers for having abortions and still promote the death penalty, the same people who demand one religion for our country, who insist on a military response to any situation escalated or not, who in fact are convinced that the plight of the First Nations people is "whining", these people are the "conservatives" who have come to the forefront of North American politics.

For some reason, many countries have attempted to kow-tow to a man who was not president of his own country and yet claimed to run it for four years. Canada has a century of experience holding the giant's hand, and as we look for appropriate ways to deal with our neighbor to our mutual benefit, we find ourselves in a constant state of erosion. Our cultures are quite similar, although we do have fundamental differences. As we struggle with our own identity, we must also observe the identities and behaviours of other nations. At the moment, now that GWB's presidential career is politically over, many nations are turning away from him and the US itself. I suspect this will change after next year's election, but again it will depend on who wins.

This week, the SPP summit takes place in Montebello Quebec. No major news agency is covering the meeting. Local news stations are discussing the possibility of a riot due to a massing of protesters, but that discussion is not a springboard to the issue itself. On the agenda is a "harmonization" of pesticide uses and laws, the distribution of water resources according to NAFTA (although I can't see why since in NAFTA we already agreed to sell to the US even if our reserves deplete enough to leave us thirsty), the sale and consumption of energy between all three countries, a matched No-Fly list between Canada and the US because f*^kups like the Maher Arar scandal have to be properly coordinated, a superhighway including rail-lines and pipelines, and of course TILMA, an agreement of port integration and deregulation that could easily turn our country into a Wal-Mart parking lot.

Several states and many in congress have actually been quite upset about this as well, but with the primary election campaigns well underway, whose got time to worry about sovereignty? Not only are we failing to discuss the agenda of the meeting per se, we are failing to discuss the fact that one of the three, in fact the player with the most pull is not the elected representative of the people of his country. I know there's been an election since then, in 2004, and I don't care. If the 2000 election hadn't been rigged, I have huge doubts that GWB would have won or even run in 04 at all.

While our news is held hostage by Paris, Hillary and the Sunday morning prayer hours, people are posting videos on the internet, holding discussion forums and signing petitions. Amnesty International even wrote an open letter on the subject of human rights which is nowhere on the agenda.

Gone are the days of rogue reporters itching to get a story out much to the chagrin of their corporate overlords. We are in a time of entrenchment, embedded reporters figureheads for the embedded corporations who don't wish to make mention of the way their countries are being run. Will it take a riot? I certainly hope not. But it will take volume and Monday is the day to make a voice heard.

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