Where the heck is Kenosha and why does it matter?

 

Hardly anyone outside of Wisconsin had ever heard of Kenosha before a Black man, Jacob Blake, was shot by a policeman two weeks ago. The policeman, Rusten Sheskey, a seven-year veteran of the Kenosha Police Department, held Blake’s shirt as he shot Blake in the back seven times while Blake’s children waited in the car.

image: politico.com

I had heard of Kenosha only because I had just finished reading a feature-length article in Harper’s magazine about how Kenosha county where, after having supported Democrats in almost every election for almost every office for forty-four straight years, voters had swung to President Trump in 2016.

Kenosha is critical in the upcoming U.S. presidential elections. As Kenosha goes, so does the country. Democrats have to take back Kenosha and nearby Racine to take Wisconsin. And they have to win Wisconsin to beat Trump nationally. No wonder it’s called “the tipping-point state.”

Wisconsin, before voting Trump, would have seemed familiar to Canadians. In his article for Harper’s, James Pogue says: “Wisconsin had a homegrown tradition of political congeniality and soft egalitarianism that traced its origins to the days of Robert La Follette and the Progressives.”

Similar to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, which the continent’s oldest community-owned professional sports franchise outside baseball, Wisconsin’s Green Bay Packers are the only publicly-owned, not-for-profit, major league professional team in the United States.

Why would a state, so seemingly familiar to Canadians, vote for someone that Canadians generally despise?

The answer is multi-faceted: dwindling union solidarity led to less involvement in the community and a diminished sense of pulling together; betrayal on the part of the Democratic Party; and a fading vision of the American Dream that promised opportunity.

Wisconsinites became disillusioned when both major parties agreed that what was good for the boardroom was good for America. The union jobs of Wisconsin, with the highest wages in America and therefore in the world, went south to states with right-to-work laws and weak unions.

In 1993, President Bill Clinton ratified the North American Free Trade Agreement over the desperate opposition of labour groups and Midwestern Democrats. House majority leader Dick Gephardt called the treaty “a threat to our wages and our standard of living.”

President Obama, who had won industrial counties in Wisconsin by margins that Democrats hadn’t achieved in a generation, promised to expand labour’s organizing power with the Employee Free Choice Act. It was never passed.

Disillusioned, Wisconsinites looked for anyone outside the mainstream. Congressman Mark Pocan told James Pogue: “People thought at first, ‘Oh he’s going to fight China, this’ll help.’  Folks are realizing that no matter how much they thought that Trump was going to support them, it hasn’t turned out better.”

Now Kenosha is the focus of racial tension. Parts of the state are harshly segregated. According to one analysis of recent census data, the quality of life for black residents in Milwaukee and Racine is among the worst in the country.

Supporters of Black Lives Matter and armed young men descended on Kenosha on August 25 in what Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth described a “chaotic, high-stress scene, with lots of radio traffic and people screaming, chanting and running.”

In the mayhem, a Trump supporter, a white 17-year-old with an assault rifle from Illinois, killed two protesters and wounded a third.

President Trump defended the young killer on Monday, illogically claiming that he was acting in self-defense when unarmed protesters confronted the shooter.

Kenosha, a small city the size of Kamloops, will loom large in the upcoming presidential elections on November 3.

 

Russian COVID misinformation part of pre-election strategy

Just as in the last U.S. presidential election, the Russians are stirring up the electorate in advance of November’s presidential election.

image: Dictionary.com

It’s all part Prime Minister Putin’s plan to unhinge the U.S.; to sow as much unrest, division, discontent, misinformation, mayhem, and civil disorder as possible in hopes that the U.S. will fall apart under the weight of the chaos.

The Russians couldn’t hope for a better ally than the Disrupter-in-Chief President Trump.

Before Trump was elected, the notion of a U.S. president cooperating with the Russians seemed so improbable that it would have only occurred in the movies.

Such a movie was The Manchurian Candidate. In the movie, an American sergeant is captured during the Korean War of 1952 and taken to Manchuria where he is brainwashed and unconsciously controlled by the Russians on his return to the U.S.  The sergeant’s mother, a Russian agent, tries to have him installed as president so that that Russians can control the American government.

It would take the wildest conspiracy to suggest that the Russians have brainwashed Trump but his actions are very much aligned with the Russians. Both Trump and the Russians take to social media like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to spread division.

I have no doubt that the Russians stir up far-right groups like the Boogaloo Bois, characterized by their Hawaiian shirts and a philosophy that predicts an impending race war called the “boogaloo.” They would be comical if they didn’t carry assault weapons and spew hate.

Then there is the ideologically-twisted antifa movement which is lauded and reviled; lauded because they are anti-fascist but reviled because they are blindly driven by the same violence they abhor in fascists.

The antifa movement has a zombie-like control of otherwise rational people. In New York in late May, two young lawyers were charged in connection with a Molotov cocktail attack on a vandalized police car. They had recently participated in a Zoom solidarity meeting with antifa extremists.

The current pandemic provides an opportunity for the Russians to fuel the spread of conspiracies, hoaxes, myths and fake cures that undermine public-health efforts to control COVID-19.

The apparent Manchurian Candidate Donald Trump recently re-tweeted a video about an anti-malaria drug being a cure. Russian intelligence is behind the spread of disinformation about the drug.

Another one that has Russian fingerprints all over it is the hoax that claims new 5G towers are spreading the virus through microwaves. Yet another is that Microsoft founder Bill Gates plans to use COVID-19 vaccines to implant microchips in all seven billion humans on the planet.

Social media amplify these false claims and helps believers find each other. The flood of misinformation has posed a challenge for Facebook, Twitter and other platforms, which find themselves in a game of whack-a-mole. As soon as one fake site is wacked down, another pops up.

It’s no coincidence that the three worst months for hate crime are around election time. Those months also see a rise in violent extremist plots and fatal attacks.

Look for more hate and misinformation to spew forth as the election draws near. We may be able to contain the spread of Cov2 by closing our border with the U.S. but we can’t stop the spread of lies, many originating from Russia.

 

COVID-19 is more costly to humanity than climate-change

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way I regard climate change. Don’t get me wrong: climate change is real and it’s man-made. But it not the “the greatest threat to humanity” that I once characterized it.

image: Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute

The greatest threats to humanity are the pandemics caused by our violation of the natural world of animals. As we recklessly tear nature apart, we reap the whirlwind of its viral bounty.

World leaders have exploited our fears of climate change. The World Health Organization famously called climate change the “greatest threat to global health in the 21st century.” Leaders of the richest nations gathered in Davos this January and declared that climate accounted for all the long-term biggest risks to the world.

Persistent scare stories have convinced us that the climatic end-of the-world is nigh. One survey of 28 countries shows that almost half of all people believe climate change will likely lead to the extinction of the human race.

The world’s poor don’t see it that way -they rank climate change quite differently. When the UN asked 10 million people, mostly those in the majority world who are poor, what they regarded as the world’s top priorities, they emphasized better education, health care, jobs, government and nutrition. Climate change ranked 16th out of 16 priorities – right after phone and internet access.

Bjorn Leonhard, President of the Copenhagen Consensus and author of False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet, says:

“Global warming is a real challenge and a problem we need to tackle. But the alarmism makes it difficult for us to think smartly about climate solutions and it diverts our attention away from the many other important global issues (Globe and Mail, July 19, 2020).”

Sea level rise is very real problem but it’s often portrayed in apocalyptic terms. We are told by the UN climate change panel that 187 million people will be displaced. Bloomberg News declared that coastal cities such as Miami may “drown in 80 years.”

But that number assumes that we do nothing in the meantime. In fact, people don’t just sit around while the water laps at their feet. The same UN climate change panel shows that with adaptation, such as protection with dikes or seawalls, the number of people in the world who have to move by the end of the century is just 305,000. For comparison, four times that number of immigrants now live in B.C. according to the 2016 census. B.C. could accommodate all the world’s water refugees.

The economic effects of climate change are serious but not fatal. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that the economic effect of climate change would reduce the average person’s income in the 2070s by 0.2 per cent to 2 per cent. The reduction means that we will “only” be 356 per cent richer today instead of 363 per cent richer without the impact of climate change. That’s a sombre finding but not as bad as the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic from which we may never fully recover.

The impact of climate change is real but it pales in the light of the economic impact of this global pandemic.

 

 

Should B.C. bubble-up with neighbours?

Canada’s four Atlantic Provinces have agreed to open their borders to each other on July 3, creating a regional pandemic bubble. What are the opportunities for B.C.?

image: Britannica

The Atlantic bubble means that travellers within the region will not be required to self-isolate after crossing the borders. Travellers will have show proof of residency with a driver’s licence or health card.

As we know from creating bubble families, picking who you want to bubble up with is tricky -a bit like asking someone to dance. Who is desirable? Are they available? Do they practice safe social intercourse?

For the Atlantic Provinces, it was easy. Not only are they attractive because they form a natural geographic area but also there are no active COVID-19 cases, with the exception of New Brunswick and that was caused by a doctor who was infected upon returning from Quebec. They form a natural regional bubble that’s desirable, available, and safe.

Countries can bubble up with neighbours as well. While not quite bubbles, the European Union has loosened border restrictions this week to 15 countries including Canada but not the U.S. Russia, or Brazil. The loosening includes countries that have controlled the spread of COVID-19.

But while some countries are desirable, they are not available. New Zealand makes an appealing partner because they have largely contained the virus. But they want nothing to do with bubbling after three new travel-related cases were reported.

Canada’s travel and tourism industries want to bring more countries to the dance floor. In an open letter to Prime Minister Trudeau in the Globe and Mail, they say 14-day quarantines and travel restrictions are “no longer necessary” and are “out of step with other countries across the globe,”

Trudeau objects, saying that lifting travel restrictions now “would lead to a resurgence that might well force us to go back into lockdown.”

Epidemiologists agree with Trudeau. Lauren Lapointe-Shaw, general internist and clinical epidemiologist says: “Travel is the one segment of the economy that probably has the greatest potential to derail our ability to stay out of lockdown.”

The problem is not just being in a metal tube hurtling through the sky with dozens of other passengers, it’s the dangers that await you on landing. “When people travel, they don’t travel to stay indoors with their close travel companion at their arrival destination,” Dr. Lapointe-Shaw said. “Travel does have an outsized effect on the ability of outbreaks to grow quickly.”

When B.C. is stares across the dance floor at potential partners to bubble with, there are Alberta and Washington State.

B.C.’s relations with Alberta are a bit prickly. Last month, travelers with Alberta plates have received nasty notes and had tires slashed. One Alberta traveler had a note attached to his windshield reading: “F-ck off back to Alberta! Supposed to be not doing non-essential travel.” Soon after, he also noticed a large scratch on the side of his car.

The love with Alberta just isn’t there.

Washington State forms a natural geographic area with B.C. It’s part of Cascadia, a loose association of bioregions along the West Coast. While appealing, Washington is off limits as the U.S. spirals into an every-growing deadly pandemic.

It looks like B.C. will have to sit out this dance.

Pandemic exposes failings of long-term care facilities in B.C.

In 2002, the BC Liberals had a grand plan to provide seniors with home-like settings. Added to that, they promised that the new residences would cost the government about half as much. Who wouldn’t want that?

image: WebStockReview

Home-like residences would be financed through public-private partnerships (P3s). Reduced costs to the government would result by attracting private-sector investors to finance new residences.

However, the plan hasn’t worked out that well.

Sure, the government reduced their costs but it was by shutting down existing facilities. Between 2001 and 2004, the government closed 26 long-term care facilities, resulting in the loss of 2,529 long-term care beds according to a report prepared for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives called Assisted Living in British Columbia, Trends in access, affordability and ownership.

The fallout of the grand experiment is fewer, unaffordable housing units.

According to Statistics Canada and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the cost of Private-Pay assisted living exceeds the financial resources of seniors with average or low income.

Affordable housing is defined as rent less than 30 per cent of income. While wealthy B.C. senior couples can almost afford rent according to that definition (39 per cent), seniors living alone in a bachelor suite require over 80 per cent of their income for rent, which is clearly unaffordable. At rents that high, seniors will be doing without basic sundries, medications, transportation, and entertainment.

Seniors who can’t find lower cost Publicly Subsidized residences are turning to Private-Pay residences as a last resort, even though they can’t really afford them.

And while the number of Private-Pay and Publicly Subsidized units has increased marginally, it hasn’t kept up with demand. The net new Private-Pay units have only increased by 1,130 in all of B.C. from 2010 to 2017. In the Interior Health region, the net new Private-Pay units only increased by 243.

The number of Publicly Subsidized assisted living units added in the same period is even more dismal -only by 105 for all of B.C. and by 26 for the Interior Health region.

The labels “Private-Pay” and “Publicly Subsidized” are misleading.

Private-Pay suggests that these residences are built independently and rented at market prices, like a hotel. However, the government pays the operator of these facilities a daily resident rate and BC Housing, a crown corporation, pays for housing costs.

Publicly Subsidized is equally misleading. It suggests that the residences are owned and operated by the government. They are not: 63 per cent are owned by a non-profit organization, 33 per cent are owned by a for-profit business, and only 4 per cent are owned by a public health authority. Unlike Private-Pay facilities, renters are subsidized according to their ability to pay.

As the pandemic unfolded, it became apparent that some Private-Pay residences did not meet the legislated standards of care for residents. As a result, health authorities seized control of a number of residences owned by Retirement Concepts, British Columbia’s largest chain of for-profit care homes.

Long-term care facilities in B.C. didn’t meet the needs of most seniors before the COVID-19 pandemic and now the outbreak has focussed a spotlight on those failings.

More Publicly Subsidized residences need to be financed by BC Housing and operated by non-profits and for-profit businesses. The housing may not be grand but when well-designed, they can be comfortable, affordable, safe, and profitable.

China’s response to COVID-19 cover-ups should be to speak softly and carry a big wallet.

China has been accused of covering up the start of the COVID-19 pandemic for months, giving the virus time to spread globally.

Lu Shaye. Image: National Post

China’s response has been to come out swinging, angrily reacting in a manner not fitting a superpower. While irrational outbursts have been characteristic of the leader that other superpower, China should take the higher rhetorical ground.

China has lashed out at a number of countries critical of its handling of the crisis, including Australia. After Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an independent review of the spread of the virus, China’s ambassador to Australia questioned whether a country that is so “hostile” to China is the best place to send Chinese students for education, or whether Chinese consumers would want to buy Australian wine and beef, (Globe and Mail, May 1, 2020).

Canada has felt similar peevishness from China after the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies after the U.S. had requested her extradition. The shrill tone of China’s ambassador in Canada was followed by the blockage of our exports of pork and canola to China. Lu Shaye, China’s ambassador to Canada was decidedly undiplomatic last May in Toronto when he harangued Canadians and said that we have a “psychological imbalance towards China’s economic and technological development” caused by “West-egotism.”

Lu Shaye is now spouting familiar rhetoric in France. He has released a series of attacks on the “malevolence” of the French media, calling them lapdogs of the U.S.: suggesting that Le Figaro was trafficking in “lies,” and “Some Westerners are starting to have no confidence in liberal democracy,” with one of his favourite themes that the French were “psychologically fragile.”

It’s all so unnecessary. To call us psychologically imbalanced is an obvious insult.  There is no need to mimic Trump’s childish outbursts to demonstrate your status as a superpower.

The mature reaction of a superpower to accusations is to calmly carry on with global dominance and be diplomatic in areas of dispute.

China’s global influence needs no psychoanalysis of critics. That rising superpower is spreading its influence globally with the Belt and Road Initiative with projected spending on infrastructure of $1 trillion in 71 countries. The initiative involves one-half the world’s population and one-quarter the global GDP.

Sure, China’s worry is that its soft power being eroded by accusations of a cover-up. But that will pass, especially if China can clean up the breeding grounds of pandemics, the disgusting “wet markets” of slaughtered wild and domestic animals.

The U.S. superpower’s foreign policy hasn’t always been characterized by a whiney leader. Theodore Roosevelt’s foreign policy in 1900 was: “speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.” The components of the policy were the possession of a strong military, never to bluff, and to strike only when prepared to strike hard.

China’s foreign policy should be “speak softly and carry a big wallet.” China has chosen to dominate the world through the investment in infrastructure.  That policy will deliver the resources needed to keep their industrial machine rolling out the world’s goods in a peaceful, albeit colonial, way.

China should resist the inclination to feel grieved at perceived historical humiliations over the past century. Lashing out is unbecoming of a rising superpower.

 

Ageism contributes to poor care in long-term facilities

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear the disparity of care for residents in long-term care compared to that in hospitals. An indicator of that disparity is the fact that 80 per cent of COVID-19 deaths have been in long-term care homes so far.

image: mybetternursinghome.com

I’m avoiding the label of “the elderly” for these residents for reasons I’ll explain later.

The reduced long-term care is not for lack of dedication by workers but for political reasons. Barb Nederpel, President of Hospital Employees’ Union, told me:

“The pandemic has brought the problems in how we treat seniors and those who care for them into sharp focus. Twenty years ago, workers in long-term care earned the same wages and benefits regardless of their employer. Through privatization and contracting out, the BC Liberals forced thousands of these workers into lower paid jobs. Many took second or third jobs to make ends meet. To keep seniors and workers safe during the pandemic, public health officials are limiting workers to single sites and we’ve secured agreement from government to increase those wages back to the industry standard.”

For ideological motives, the BC Liberals argued that private care facilities could operate more efficiently. Privatization created a multi-tiered system where those who could pay more got better treatment.

The trouble with this model is that in this market where there is a labour shortage, workers will go to where they are paid more -leaving places that pay less short-staffed. The residents who call those places home suffer.

Ageism is at the heart of deaths in long-term care homes. The reduction in worker wages reflects the degree that we care about the residents of those facilities. The death of “the elderly” is seen as no big deal. People get old and die. The meme “Boomer Remover” that has been circulating reflects the dark humour of ageism.

To dismiss residents as “the elderly” robs them of their dignity as fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, brothers and sisters. Let’s call them persons; persons who love and are loved, who laugh and cry, and make a difference in the world. Age should be just one aspect of anyone’s life, not a defining attribute.

Hospitals are relatively well-prepared for the pandemic in contrast to long-term care homes says Rona Ambrose, former Conservative minister of health and minister during the Ebola crisis in 2014:

“Our hospitals are ready. Doctors and nurses have been properly trained and are waiting to be called in for COVID-19 duty. Personal protective equipment is available, and, if not, it’s on its way.

“Meanwhile, caregivers in many long-term care homes are underpaid, lack training and don’t have PPE. How could this have happened when we knew from day one that long-term care homes would be centres of COVID-19 infection? How could we have failed our care-home residents so badly? There are hundreds of these facilities dealing with outbreaks across Canada (Globe and Mail, April 13, 2020).”

Post-pandemic, we will need to reset our values so that workers’ wages coincide with the value that we place on them. It’s too bad that it takes a pandemic for that disconnect to sink in. There has been an outpouring of appreciation for workers who have put their lives on the line to serve us. Let’s back up that appreciation for long-term care workers with a living wage.

Some think COVID19 is a hoax

The inconvenient truth of COVID-19 is that it’s going to infect millions and hundreds of thousands will die. That reality is slowing dawning on a majority of Canadian as the virus moves closer to home. However a small minority see it as a hoax, a government plot to invade our daily lives. I’ll call this group the “Illuminati faction.”

A larger minority have politicized what is a health crisis. This group votes for the Conservative Party but I’m reluctant to label them as such. Let’s call them the “political partisans.”

Four million Canadians say the whole crisis is overblown, extrapolating from a poll conducted by Angus Reid on March 30. Twelve per cent of respondents agreed that “the threat of a coronavirus outbreak in Canada is overblown.”

Two-thirds of them voted Conservative in the 2019 federal election.

Other than politics, I can think of no other reason why Conservative voters would regard a health crisis differently than anyone else. The coronavirus does not select victims based on how they vote. Regardless of what they tell pollsters, I suspect that this group is as worried as anyone else.

The official stance Conservation Party is sensible. Conservative leader Andrew Scheer said: “There really isn’t much philosophical difference when it comes to fighting a virus or keeping Canadians healthy and safe (CP, March 22, 2020).”

The motive of the political partisans seems obvious. They are reluctant to give the prime minister any kind of advantage. During a health crisis the prime minister appears statesman-like.

That bump in popularity has certainly worked for Prime Minister Trudeau and to slightly lesser extent for U.S. President Trump. Two-thirds of Canadians think Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is doing a good job handling the COVID-19 crisis. Some provincial leaders have seen even more of a bump. The highest score came for Premier François Legault of Quebec with an approval rating of 93 per cent.

However, the Illuminati faction has more of a populist inclination. They distrust anything that the Mainstream Media (MSM) has to offer which they regard as fake news. The truth is revealed through the blogosphere.

I found two examples of the Illuminati faction on the Facebook page of a Kamloops user.

Henry Makow is the author of Illuminati: The Cult that Hijacked the World. On his website he proposes that governments are part of a sinister plot. His April 3 post warns:

“Flu Psyop — Pretext to Impose Orwellian Dictatorship?” ‘The Depression [resulting from the pandemic] will deepen and an oppressive political regime will be instituted.” “Their goal is take away our freedoms. Then if we want them back, we’ll be forced to receive vaccines to gain a digital certificate of movement which allows us to be tracked on 5G control grids.”

And a YouTube video with 508,068 views as of March 31, 2020, is titled “CoronaHoax Pandemic Proven Fake… Yet The Lockdowns Continue… Here’s Why.”

Like climate change deniers, COVID-19 deniers would prefer to believe some guy blogging from his basement. Unlike climate change, the effects of the virus are not glacial –they are immediate and deadly. And when not deadly, it’s extremely painful with possible permanent damage to the lungs.

Who says irony is dead?

Coronavirus as news

The coronavirus pandemic is a fact. It is also news.

The difference between facts and “the news” is that facts don’t always become news, not because those facts aren’t consequential but because the news is by its very nature entertaining.

Image: Daily Express

We demand a steady feed of novelty and stimulation from the news.

There are facts that are significant but not necessarily reported. For example, look at all the news that was reported before COVID-19 replaced it. Where did it go?

While COVID-19 rightfully overrides everything else, it puts consumers who see “the news” as entertainment in the position of comparing the life-threatening fact of COVID-19 with all the news that has gone before. Is it more of the same?

On slow-news days, inconsequential facts make the news. Politicians cut ribbons and produce news releases. Reporters and pundits create another layer of news further removed from the facts by analyzing what the politicians say and do. The news is a business that must be produced every day, hour and minute. It’s about the careers of politicians, journalists and columnists.

The news industry offers a sensational diet of unsettling events because we demand it. Media theorist and cultural critic Neil Postman says:

“That is why even on news shows which provide us daily with fragments of tragedy and barbarism, we are urged by the newscasters to ‘join them tomorrow.’ What for? One would think that several minutes of murder and mayhem would suffice as material for a month of sleepless nights. We accept the newscasters’ invitation because we know that the ‘news’ is not to be taken seriously, that it is all in fun, so to say.”

Opinion is becoming the nature of the news as opposed to facts. This gives the impression that all news is opinion. If we are told to stay home to stop the pandemic, that’s just one opinion. In balanced reporting, the opposite opinion is valid: go out and enjoy the lovely spring weather.

Opinions shouldn’t be confused with facts. What I write is part of the news industry but I don’t pretend that it’s a balanced presentation of the facts. I’m trying to make a point.

What makes news about the coronavirus so jarring is that it is not the murder and mayhem of the usual variety but an existential threat. I could catch it and die.

And what about those who see the news as opinion, interpretation of facts, or infotainment?  What are they to make of the news? Possibly this:

Like all news it’s meant for my amusement, of no consequence. I’m not sick and no one I know is. I’ll carry on as usual because everyone knows that the news is sensational and overblown.

As for me, I’ll hunker down in self isolation after arriving back from Mexico. After that I’ll socially distance myself. I’ll go for an occasional walk in the hills of Westsyde where I won’t encounter anyone.

As for you, I suggest the same. But that’s just my opinion. For the facts, turn to reliable news sources. Your life could depend on it.

The language of Indigenous protest infiltrators

Infiltrators of the pipeline protest intend to shut down dialogue and perpetuate the divisions between us.

image: Al Jazeera

What was once the sole grievance of hereditary chiefs is now a basket in which agitators can throw anything. They have no other agenda other than to stick it to Canadians and take great pleasure in creating an angry reaction, seeing us squirm.

The activist groups that have infiltrated the movement have high-jacked media coverage; groups such as Extinction Rebellion whose cause is climate change and the Marxist Red Braid Alliance. The Red Braid say that they stand for de-colonialism, a socialist revolution and anti-imperialism. According to their website:

“We prepare to take the power away from capitalists and colonizers by increasing the autonomous power of communities where we are, as part of the insurgent working class and Indigenous people’s movements of the world.”

As long as these agitators have the chiefs as a shield, they can run around shutting down traffic or blocking rail lines, spouting their rhetoric of colonial oppression, with little repercussion.

The goal of the infiltrators is to shut down dialogue. They do so by use of labelling opponents as “colonialists” for which there is no defence. While it’s true that North America was colonized and that much of B.C. is unceded territory, the colonialist label is meant to shut me up. It makes me a representative of something I can’t possibly defend.

What’s needed is the opposite. Rather than posturing, dialogue is needed says Abel Bosum, Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees of Northern Quebec:

“The only way to bring down the barricades that separate us is by truly listening to one another. The solution can only come from the individuals that face each other across barricades or negotiating tables.”

The dispute that the Chief Bosum had with the Quebec government was over development on their land. “The Cree Nation is no longer relegated to the sidelines as just protesters or agitators. We have become a nation of deciders,” says Bosum (Globe and Mail, February 27, 2020).

Another word used that is intended to leave me dumbstruck is “privilege.” I was once told to “check my privilege” because I am a white, middle-class male. The message to me is to “Shut the F**k up,” STFU in text-speak.

Privilege has actual meaning. It is a right earned by merit. When I’m told to “check my privilege,” my supposed privilege is not a result of merit but by simply being born.

Colonialist has actual meaning and I am not one. As I argued in another column, colonialism has long since been replaced by globalism as a means of subjugation.

Reconciliation has actual meaning. It opens dialogue but the agitators want none of that with signs reading “reconciliation is dead.” They prefer to accuse and belittle.

Thank goodness the agitators were not part of the discussions between government leaders and Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in Smithers, B.C. last weekend. The parties issued a joint statement saying they had reached an arrangement to implement Wet’suwet’en rights and title, pending ratification by Wet’suwet’en clan members.

Settlement of the pipeline issue is the last thing agitators want. They would prefer to silence well-meaning Canadians with labels of colonialist and let grievances fester.