Wednesday, May 30, 2007

On se calme

The strike is over and it seems the anti-union, anti-worker sentiment has died down a little, or at least it's quieter. I had a lot of conversations during this time and some of the debates were very interesting. Most of the people who opposed the strike were annoyed that they were being inconvenienced and didn't want to be the vehicle for the argument. I get that. I don't think CN is a lobbying body to bring the argument of Native protesters to parliament, and they probably felt used too when the trains were stopped.

I noticed something else too: the CSN and the workers themselves were not terribly good at getting their message out. It is a very thin line to walk to get people to continue supporting you even when they are suffering from lack of service. I saw this on two different picket lines when my parents protested wage freezing (I'm a child of public school teachers god help me) and again when bus drivers struck in my second-last year of high-school. You need to get your message to the people as they are the ones who vote and therefore can pressure those in office to behave appropriately. There were a few postings on various websites and some articles for sure, but I wouldn't call it a coherent message carried out directly.

I have also noticed something in the last few years that worries me greatly: blue-collar workers and technical staff are down in it for some reason. These guys get to your house at 2am when a pipe bursts. They work on live electrical wires day in and day out so that power can get to your homes. They breathe in cement dust, pick up glass and crush bricks and the thanks they get is largely being condescended too by people who pay for these services.

I can't begin to count how many times I would act as a translator/negotiator/mediator between office workers who wished to complete a project and the construction workers who would carry it out. The construction workers were consistently people who could and did memorize circuitry, pipes, fire alarm and prevention equipment, roof drains etc. In other words, there's some brain power there and the attitude is generally someone who wants to work for him/herself. As such, why would a manager who answers to a director who answers to a VP who answers to a president who answers to a CFO suspect that a construction worker can't think on his/her feet or needs to be kept in the dark?

When expert opinions are given, this too for some reason is not taken seriously. Apparently when we are told by a doctor that we have a broken leg and must wear a cast and use crutches for six weeks, this is acceptable advice. When a plumber tells us a pipe is cracked and we must replace the join behind drywall to prevent leaks, we want a second opinion, or we want to patch it rather than replace it. Is it reasonable to get a second opinion? Of course! But time and again I have had bosses tell me what they want that opinion to be before I get it. It boils down to, I just want it to work and I don't want to know how or why (no problem) and I want it to be cheap and non-intrusive. (problem)

In the media as well, I have seen very few examples of major characters who hold technical positions. Such shows as Roseanne and Titus were around for a long time, but now it's mostly doctors and forensic workers. Why in shows like Scrubs and CSI is there always a kind-hearted yet bumbling and dunderheaded custodian? Why is the guy who keeps the lights on in a hospital the butt of a joke constantly? This holier than thou, I could do this myself but I don't want to get my hands dirty has to come from somewhere and I bet it's from people who shop at Home Depot and think that because a website showed them "step by step" instructions, they are some kind of expert.

Part of being handy is knowing your limits and understanding where a fun do-it-yourself project gives way to a major renovation that requires skilled technicians and contractor oversight. Knowing this line can not only save dollars, but prevent injury.

We've still got a brain-drain going on. We are missing doctors, nurses, electricians, plumbers, tradesmen, exterminators etc. It seems like a difficult problem to solve that won't happen overnight. We can begin by treating the ones we have a little better. We can accept that everyone has different talents and skills and admit we don't all know how to properly sodder a new join onto an old pipe. We can admit that it is worth it to work together, tradesmen need accountants after all.

We can change our sentiment and instead of tearing each other apart, we can build.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

STMbling

Once more, this time with feeling.

We've been here before. The last STM maintenance strike was for the same reasons given this week. The administrators in charge of the system have still refused to accept that necessary to a functioning system, employees must have some sense of stability and appreciation.

Since I've been working tirelessly for huge, faceless corporations with little in the way of souls for the last five years, since that work has included hiring and firing, contract negotiation and job supervision of technicians, contractors and maintenance workers, I present to you, the world, the mermaid's take on the STM walk-out.

1. Brain Drain

Quebec is in a unique situation regarding the loss of skilled personnel to other provinces and other countries. Our education system is such that regular Cegep graduates from Quebec are more educated and/or skilled than high-school graduates in other provinces. Couple that with universities about 1 quarter the price of the rest of Canada, and you are in for a huge influx of people who come here to learn, stay to be certified and leave for the money.

Colleges are advertising all over the place for skilled trade programs and the office of Emploi Quebec will subsidize those who wish to go back to school and learn a trade. Why? We're missing people. There are not enough skilled electricians, mechanics, plumbers, HVAC technicians, specialized door and window technicians and general tradesmen to keep up with the demand in the province. In specific terms, that means that unionized employees for the STM who don't need contractual work and who in fact keep the trains running must still work overtime and swing shifts to keep up with the demands of the now even larger system.

In the face of this, and given it's recent hiring frenzy, how can the administration of the STM refuse to offer new employees a reasonable salary and pension? Would it make more sense to send them to Toronto where the TTC will simply offer more to upkeep their infrastructure? New employees generally get fewer benefits, perks and desirable shifts. In order to recruit talented and dedicated mechanics, a reason must be offered to stay on and the simplicity of offering a proper pension and a salary re-evaluation after a year is not only reasonable, it is standard practice in most industries.

2. Green Dream

Normally Quebec is way ahead of the rest of the country in terms of progressive, environmentally-friendly policies. We now see more people more willing to make different choices to leave a smaller footprint ecologically on this world. Strikes and service interruptions due to disputes between workers and administrators leave a bad impression and can be prohibitive for those people only now beginning to use the Banlieu trains and the new stations in Laval.

3. Green Dream encore

People are less likely now to purchase monthly passes given that the cost continually rises to purchase them, but in the case of this month and any other strike month, the pass is actually of less value than the one previous. If fewer people purchase passes and use the service, the STM will lose not only money but ridership. It can't be about where we are right now, the Montmorency stations are indicative of the huge budget snafus that are becoming commonplace with many city services. It has to be about where we will be in five years when the population of our island will be denser and more commuters will need reasonable ways to get around. Pension governance and employee retention are key factors in any organization that wishes to thrive rather than crumble.

4. Revenue Generation

I wish I knew exactly how much Apple Inc. paid for those gigantic ipod ads in Atwater station. How much the movie posters cost in Berri-uqam. How much the covers of the turnstiles go for when McDonalds wants to come off as eco-friendly. And how much revenue is generated from the ads now seen printed directly on the STM monthly passes? That along with the property rental paid to the STM for the depanneurs and small coffee stations inside the metros, are we really willing to accept that money is just not coming in? Giant video screens advertise to us at major stations (along with giving us helpful information like when the next train is coming). I do not accept that there isn't a cash-flow to support the employees who run the city transit system. Should that money be mismanaged, well, that truly is not the fault or responsibility of the workers who manage and maintain the trains and buses and escalators and station air-flow and lights and clean-ups and pest-control and so on.

The workers of the STM deserve what they are asking for. It is not unreasonable, illegal or unnecessary. For their sake I hope the strike ends soon.

(and for mine too).

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

When Justice Fails

I watched the youtube video on how to stop a train. I strongly recommend anyone go see it if only for the ignorant and poorly spelled comments left by completely oblivious idiots with no idea or respect for the past and current struggle First Nations people's face in North America. They screech and accuse each other of being Hitleresque. One more enlightened person suggested Native reserves are rich and that tax-free collectives such as reserves unnecessarily demand "hard-earned" tax dollars. If by rich this person means so snooty and elitist that even such things as indoor plumbing are shunned, if this person means rich in suicide rates (the single highest in the country) then the First Nations people are rich indeed.

I agree about the taxes though, people work hard for their money (well, most people do, some people just own valuable things and get paid for it, but hey, that could be hard work, I wouldn't know.) I suggest the immediate taxation of every landholding on all religious organizations on this continent. Too long have the churches claimed poverty and righteousness while preaching conversion and humility (HA) with tithe money. Let every church here with any history of abuse of Native Peoples pay proper taxes like all other businesses and people and let that money fund a massive humanitarian aid to all reserves where people in this country in this year will die of tuberculosis or have their children removed due to poverty, an action prohibited by the UN.

Now onto the people who actually made the video. Guys, seriously, ..okay. I know you want to help, but earlier this year, Natives were included in an anti-terror manual and they were only removed as a group because the awesome journalists at the Globe and Mail reported it and made it public. Videos like this are not going to aid law enforcement overcome prejudices about "dangerous" First Nations protesters. Cool it.

On another note, in the text next to the video, you mention some difficult moments, some very tense protests. Then you go on to suggest showing solidarity in a "discreet non-traceable way". Why? The whole basis of the problem (notwithstanding the historical basis of the problem) is that most people are unwilling to say something out loud and on camera. Discreet and non-traceable? CN is not the enemy of the people of Canada, whatever their historical background. If regular people were more willing to speak openly and loudly about the disgusting, inhuman conditions on reservations, there would be no need to shut down an essential service from a crown corporation. It is not up to CN to bring the argument to parliament, it is simply that they are the gatekeepers between each end of our nation in a physical way and stopping the trains gets attention.

Show some real solidarity. I know you already have a camera, get some footage of what it's really like on a reserve. Speak to some Chiefs and Medicine women (if they will speak to you). Demand that any tax money collected from landowners be used to bring living conditions in Canada to an acceptable minimum standard for all people.

Go live on a reserve for a time.

The argument is difficult because it is longstanding. There are broken agreements that litter the years of this world. It is not possible to repair all damage done. It is possible to admit that basic human rights are values of Canadians and that we will not accept the abhorrent conditions currently the standard in our reservations. It is possible to insist that our government, whom we pay for directly, be accountable for real timelines to manage land claims. It is possible to insist that law enforcement learn about Native arguments and current conditions and approach protests with more respect for the history of the argument rather than immediately viewing protesters as internal terrorists. It is possible to insist that tax-free religious organizations pay into a First Nations re-construction fund or lose their tax-free status.

I can see what you are trying to do. There are better, more attention-getting ways of getting attention.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bring it Bitch

a better place

Jerry Falwell left us without ceremony today, his rapture didn't come as he constantly predicted it would. He lived his life as though it was happening already, looking downwards from his grand perspective on the feminists and faggots and heathens who ignorantly walked this world oblivious to the wrath and pain our almighty father, the creator, the infinite forgiver had in mind for us.

Shall I wax poetic on the blustery and impotent libel case brought against the wheelchaired pornographer? Should I recall the beautiful, inspiring words brought forth from him after the attack of September 11th? These were the public squalls of a spoiled child too sure that the other kids and most of the teachers were already on his side. Before that he was more inside, more insidious than that.

My argument with him goes back to my childhood when Reagan was running the states and Mulroney was coming to power up here. I followed the elections avidly at that age, though I admit I didn't understand most of the jargon used to pose arguments. It seemed strange to me that our conservatives were talking free-trade and fiscal responsibility and these other people, whoever they were, sounded like gospel preachers on the street corners who kept assuring me I was only going to heaven by taking their pamphlets and attending their dim sermons. The only regular type church I was ever exposed to was the anglican one my grandmother always made us go to around christmas time. I didn't ever hear much about politics there and to me they always seemed like separate types of organizations. You went to church at christmas and you yelled about the government for the rest of the year.

Falwell changed all that. I say changed, naturally the pulpit was a huge centre for political posturing right up until the industrial revolution, before that the pocket of history known as the Renaissance, before that the first Greek democracies, etc. There have always been ebbs and tides in the power of the church (of any denomination) mostly because the main centre of communication was the church and then the people. And then the church again. and then the people. then the church, I think, then after, the people were probably next...

Falwell changed how it was done in modern democracy. The evangelical christian movement stayed largely out of the political arena for most of it's existence. There were always deals to be made and done with landowners like the Catholic and Protestant church, the largest unions, the democratic and republican parties. Born-agains tended to stay out of it and left the world to it's own devices until Falwell activated a huge untapped base for Ronald Reagan. All of a sudden, the people most convinced that the End of Days will happen in their lifetime, most convinced that Pro-life means bomb a clinic or batter a doctor, the people who see the death penalty as reasonable all voted together in a spectacular bid to take the white house and the senate in one fell swoop. It seemed to come out of nowhere, but in fact it had been nascent for many years.

Falwell began his ministry in a small-time abandoned warehouse and used the medium of television for the first time to preach to many people at once across the country. Without him as a unifying force, evangelicals would likely have remained convinced of their own isolation and never come together in the political arena as they did under his leadership.

And here we are thirty years later. The FBI actually takes advice from abortion groups because they are so used to dealing with bomb threats and actual bombs. The climate crisis is a debate taking place instead of an action being undertaken because "god" has a plan. The world is supposed to be prepared for the final moments of humanity when all those who are righteous will be taken up into the sky and given popcorn and easy-chairs to sit in while they watch the slow burning and death of hundreds of millions of those who didn't know better. Will it remind them of Fox? Is perhaps Rupert Murdoch's true calling the desensitization of millions to violence so they will be able to stomach God's wrath taken out on their brothers? I don't know.

Falwell left a legacy, an uncertified university, a huge ministry, many lieutenants and Newt Gingrich. Can Ted Haggart take his place as a reformed gay meth-user? Hardly. Will James Dobson of Focus on the Family reign in the headless church under his own? Perhaps. Dobson is the most likely candidate, though Falwell's sons are certainly not immune to speculation about their current roles. (Daughters don't play well in these circles)

Today an unraptured man rejoins (hopefully) a loving maker who he genuinely thought was looking out for him and guiding him his entire life. I can't help but smile, certain that the angel relieving St. Peter at the gates bears a striking resemblance to Freddie Mercury, and that god is the single most compassionate, exhalted woman he has ever met.

Who shall it be to sail the christian ship towards the censorious and violent apex it so desires? We soon will see. The king is dead, long live the king.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Blue Skies

It's overcast today, warm and humid. There are any number of things to comment on. Magna lost the bid for Chrysler, overall job rates are stalled. Duceppe was in the bid for only 24hrs for the PQ leadership race, and the new leader says that sovereignty will have to be put on hold. The most vicious, frothing at the mouth, passionate, dedicated party in the history of our country is now focusing on team building and damage control. How long Lord, oh how long?

Our boys arrested an american sex offender here in Dorval and we're discussing whether or not he will be deported or extradited (in other words, will we kick him out or will they ask for him). Our Boreal forests are now on a watchlist facing extinction and 57 fish hatcheries have been supplied with tainted food. Don't worry though, the omega-3 you get from fish is only produced by their bodies if they eat algae, so they didn't have it anyway. We begin our no-fly list this June. In one more daring move to make air-travel even more spectacularly dismal, there is now a list in Canada of who can and cannot fly. Bets on who it'll target and don't tell me from racial profiling. If there's one white guy, just one banker I'll hand in my fins.

Doctors are beginning to interview potential patients before accepting them. The argument from the physicians themselves is that they wish to fully asses their patients' needs before accepting them. Colleges of Physicians across the country are issueing reports and guidelines specifying that discrimination is intolerable. The consulting firm that came up with the idea is framing it in terms of exceptions, ie: doctors who don't wish to deliver babies as part of their practice can recommend other doctors to pregnant patients. The firm was hired to increase profitability for doctors. My brother already sees kids in his pre-med classes who intend to be dermatologists and podiatrists. Why? Who wants to get called at 2am to do emergency surgery? Who wants those kind of hours and hassle? What kind of doctor, honestly, wants to have to deal with sick people? Cosmetic surgery makes more money anyway, so if you're going to get dirty, you may as well get paid. If I've ever seen a bid to convince doctors to endorse privatization, this is it. Couple this with the drug companies who pay premiums to doctors who prescribe their new products right off the bat and you've got yourself a system that works.

It's Monday. I'm about to submerge in a dry, dull, boring, frustrating office that offers no potential for growth, challenge or enjoyment. How do I bother on days like this? Why do I not just shut my eyes and go back to bed? It is difficult in some moments, but there is a silver lining just this morning. The playoffs continue and we're forced to root for Ottawa to bring the cup home, but once again, Canada has won the world hockey championships!

Blue skies....blueeee skieees....

Thursday, May 10, 2007

separatist shuffle

We're hard on our politicians in this province and Boisclair will be missed.

Now if the Silver Fox steps down to the provincial level to take over for him, whoever runs in this riding wouldn't have to go up against someone with a stronghold.....

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Et tu Warner?

What can I say? When it comes to promoting ourselves and creating global communications networks, Montreal cannot be beat. Quebec has it's own brand of celebrity, it's own identity on the cultural world stage, and is very willing to promote local artists within itself. My complaints with Ontario and Western Canada are often that they have not embraced the publicity machine available to them, but rather have clamped onto what already exists in the US and then blame the CRTC when we are culturally threatened.

Culture is not only lifestyle and way of being, it affects industry. How the businesses will be run and with whom as partners. Under these circumstances, I couldn't help but shed a tear of pride when I learned that as a city, we rival China, the Phillipines and Lebanon for illegal video-piracy. Ah les francofolies....

In a bold move to get the current Heritage Minister to say anything on the subject of anything, Warner Bros. Canada refused to pre-screen any upcoming blockbusters such as the new Harry Potter due to the extreme likelyhood that the movies will be pirated and distributed on the internet. I read and re-read it unable to believe that this is the best way Hollywood can come up with to deal with the piracy issue. Videotaping in a theater is not currently part of our criminal code, likely (I feel) because our law-enforcers actually have things to do, criminals and terrorists to find and arrest, families to serve and protect, etc. That likely will change soon, but I can't help but feel that such behaviour does not deal with the overlying issue.

I will remind visitors to my pond that British studies found that the highest volume downloaders were at once the highest volume purchasers. I will say anecdotally that I far prefer to see a film in the theater than at home because of the huge screen and the ear-shattering thx surround sound that captivates me every time. You've got to make better movies though. There was no way in hell I was going to pay 13.50$ for the Garfield movie, I don't care who the voice of the cat was. I see streaming video on the internet, which if harnessed correctly can advertise just as much as tv, but in a different way. I also purchase the high-end dvd releases. I'm not just about the movie, I want the special features, the booklets, the interviews, all the gravy. Though I do want it as soon as possible and for that reason the internet is my friend, I also want it all. I am willing to pay for the experience or the full-release when it is ready. I am like many others.

Companies like Warner Bros. have to swim difficult waters. On the one hand, they have intellectual/creative property that they wish to be paid for if distributed. Fair enough, but are they somehow not being paid? Is it because movie theatres now resemble an extra-large tv with enough seats for most of your friends? Is it because a lot of the movies out there are simply put, crap? Yes. They are selling a product and the trappings of the product are an inherent part of the experience. I'm going to pay full price to see Spiderman 3. I want to see the effects and hear the music in huge gigantic surround. I noticed as well that it busted box-office records for most money brought in on opening weekend, even though it was widely available on the internet for several weeks before.

I'm interested in the art, and artists be they directors, actors, musicians, writers etc never suffer and never will suffer from having an audience. Distribution companies sell plastic. In either reels or discs, they offer us a medium on which to experience the art they have a stake in. It is these people who are threatened by audiences who can specifically choose how they consume their products. They could make better theaters with more reasonable snack prices and make deals with Joost and Apple to make their products available for purchase over the internet, but I doubt such reasonable measures will be embraced by film and art distributors. As such, downloaders will pay the price for uptight, culturally unaware exectives, much like pot-smokers bear the brunt of unprosecuted bankers who launder drug money and never see prosecution.

For now, I'm patiently waiting for the end of the day so that I can come back home and watch Season 2 of Twin Peaks, now available on DVD that I purchased at full price over the weekend. C'est la vie!

Monday, May 07, 2007

It's the little things

Starbucks never intended to pay for the coffee it sells to the public. That's just good business: get a low price from your supplier and charge a high price to your client. All businesses work on these grounds. What becomes disturbing about them is the human rights nightmare that begins to come true in countries where the coffee comes from. Because the subsistence farmers can't produce enough to sustain themselves, they are forced to over farm the land they have and cut down forests to farm even more land. Is Starbucks directly responsible for this? Surely they are not the only company to blame for taking advantage of an already extant situation, even if it is abominable.

Such situations seem overwhelming. After all, I can personally choose to avoid Starbucks (full disclosure: I already do, their coffee tastes burnt) and shop elsewhere, but millions of people go into millions of Starbucks every day. Moreover, Starbucks has an agreement with Chapters here, and after much soul-searching, I can't abandon my bookstore. (more on the effect of high-end book retail on public libraries later) Should I be writing emails to the CEO of Chapters/Indigo to get them to pressure Starbucks? Do I give up since they went with the American giant instead of Tim Horton's or the Second Cup and aren't worried about the effect these companies have on their clients and suppliers?

Indigo on the corner of Ste. Catherine and McGill College sells fair-trade coffee. It's not a huge advertising platform (though it should be) as they are the only location without a Starbucks in it. If you come in with a reusable cup, the coffee is 1$. It's downtown, it's huge, it's unionized, it sells fair-trade coffee at a discount to those who don't wish to carry around a paper cup for a while and then throw it away. Why is this better for me than a rabid email campaign? Notwithstanding the fact that Chapters will likely send my mail straight to Junk, it's busy there all the time. I see people going in and out, the lines are just as long as they are around the corner. These choices don't have to be disruptive or expensive to our lives. We are often told that it will cost more to go green, to choose humanitarian products and services. I inherently disagree with that argument given the current expense of most crap, and I doubt that making something simpler and cleaner should by definition cost more for me to consume it.

Drop by with a cup you already have. It's not Starbucks, it's better.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Our rolling boxes

The debate has only just begun about our deployment in Afghanistan. It was a talking point in the last election, and a bill was recently tabled to specify a 2009 withdrawal. The Conservatives opposed it as they wish to leave the "mission" open-ended. The NDP opposed it because we should be out of Afghanistan right now.

There is little talk of what we are doing in Afghanistan. It is not the more Canadian approach of supporting and rebuilding that we are undertaking at this time. Our helmets are green and brown in this case, not blue. We are going into citizen's houses. We are accountable for the torture of detainees we hand over. Our senior officers defer to American generals on the ground and we don't complain of friendly fire.

This frustrates me. We have a news organization, we have interested people, but we don't have a conversation. We don't have pressure on our leaders to explain what further deployment will accomplish or indeed what our mission is supposed to be. Is it simply to augment the American troop force without increasing the American bodycount? If so, I think we should be paid handsomely like the Blackwater employees in Iraq are.

Our government just purchased 10 new armoured vehicles from our closest neighbor. The deal was quiet, easy. The armoured cars are to be deployed straight into action, as though we have already accepted that more of us will be dropped face first into the sand. The cars are heavy and well-equipped. They carry more troops and can handle more powerful electronics.

They roll past like the mission passes before us unexplained. The cars are heavy and have no windows.

six double agents

There was a message from the prophet last night. I called her back through a haze of drunken indecision. I mostly questioned myself and how weak I was, and why no was such an unacceptable answer so often and so repeatedly. My favourite marmalade got hold of me later and we together fished for answers. The mermaid said it's okay girls. We'll get there. We'll be who we are at some future point. We need to survive this and forgive ourselves for those trespasses we subject ourselves to. I am the lord my god. And I will have no one above me.

The girls all had a rough night. All of us are products of insanity, fuckedupedness that spans provinces and lifetimes. The end result is something I come back to when my pond gets drained and smelly: the fuckedupedness reproduces itself to make you an agent of your own ruination. The people around you who are supposed to teach you how to be and who to be and what a person is can easily ruin you themselves. But the healing can't begin until you leave them and realize that as a result of the extensive nonsense education you got from the ones who hit you or abandoned you or used you as entertainment is in fact action. You become the most reliable cause of ruining your own life. Bad decisions are made and even when you see it happen it seems perfectly normal, if a little sad. And any attempt to correct it feels twisted and shameful. We jog on our fault lines and stumble often, but it doesn't appear reasonable to run down another road because this craggy pit is so familiar and so sane. The dean of Virginia Tech said to go where you get the best hugs, to be with the people who love you and want you. When those are the people who will destroy you, when it's safer under the gunfire, we call each other.

Why is it so reasonable to not save ourselves? Why is this world so in love with the helpless and tuburcural woman? Why do I need to need to be saved? And why isn't no understood?

I have hope that things will be better with them. An orange can be replanted in this safer grove, the prophet will go full circle to her dusty family, on her terms, and in her own way. I'll keep swimming in circles until I figure things out. If it makes a whirlpool, well, I have gills and I'm no stranger to a downward spiral.

The soothsayer, the citrus, the city-dwelling mermaid. My girls and I were on the grill last night. It's morning now and time to forgive ourselves.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

avast ye torturers and arts hounds

How could they do this to us? We've done everything right! First, we totally folded on softwood at a huge cost not only to us but to an entire industry that is ingrained in the historical bedrock of this continent. Then we slashed and burned arts funding including foreign office arts funding because obviously promoting canadian arts and culture, despite the program's long-term success, serves only to more fully and interestingly educate our neighbors and partners about us as well as providing exposure to Canadians of international audiences. Who needs that? We completely ignore the human rights nightmare that is the First Nations reservation system, for god's sake, we even included Indian protesters in a military anti-terror handbook! What more do they want? We never once mentioned the reconstruction or lack thereof after Katrina, why pressure our neighbors with things they already know? We all but eliminated the office of the Status of Women in Canada and Kyoto will not now or ever be upheld while this government is in power.

We have done everything we could possibly do short of privatizing healthcare and offering government issue military-surplus bombs to plant at abortion clinics to appease the burning-bush administration and how are we repaid for all of this shameless toadying? We narrowly avoid getting put on a watchlist for internet piracy. Now I know we seem like a huge behemoth, a great, threatening cultural giant with a frozen heart and teeth carved from the bedrock of the Canadian Shield. Long has it stood that Canada was poised to take over the US and time and again America barely escaped with it's identity. I can see where the historical precedent might incite the american government to arms against the electronic subverter of it's industry, having for the most part taken over one by one. Not to mention the creation of the CRTC and the CBC, ostensibly to promote Canadian culture within it's own borders given the influx of american television. But it's not like these offices actually work at all. I mean come on, they barely have enough funding to keep their acronyms!

I know internet communications can seem threatening. Disney needs some reassurance that it's government is willing to prevent copies of the Lion King being overtaken and redistributed like they did to the Asian white lion cub movie. Makers of The Ring and The Grudge need to know that their government will protect their intellectual property which they rightfully copied down and translated into English from Vietnamese. Not only that, it's important too to remember that even though downloaders are as a demographic the highest volume buyers, and that even though no artist has ever or will ever suffer from having an audience, people who work for sony marketing work really really hard. Their chairs deserve to be stuffed to the fullest capacity so their creative minds don't get distracted by an uncomfortable ass-ache. Remember people, we're not out to sell music and movies, we're selling round pieces of plastic with music and movies printed on them. It's a hot commodity, and it MUST be regulated.

We are in the middle of a torture debate. Afghan human rights workers and prisoners are being tortured and we are the people who knowingly handed them over. We are not rebuilding in their country or ours. The PM has been given reading material by local artists who wonder what type of country we will be without artists or art. I think there might be a book about that somewhere...

So how do we convince the priority-centred and clear-thinking american office of homeland security? Arts funding! Send our writers and actors and painters and singers and graphic designers and newscasters to america to better promote our culture and way of life into....oh, wait, oh yeah. Trebek and Dr. Evil and Celine are exports from up here. Alright well perhaps an apology is in order, but just this time.