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Remembering the Dead we Betrayed

Every November I listen to The Green Fields of France, but I rarely sing along because I can’t even listen to it without weeping. I weep because we have broken faith with the unquiet dead who lie under Flanders fields. Not just because we’re still sending our sons and now daughters to die in foreign lands, but because so many have died in vain. We told them they were spreading democracy, but we have failed to protect and preserve democracy here at home.

Every time a Canadian dies in battle, we have a chance to make sure he or she is the last to die in a pointless foreign entanglement to ‘increase shareholder value’ for transnational fossil fuel corporations. However, we cannot accomplish this unless and until we reclaim the power to do so, and electoral reform is the best solution to the erosion of our democracy.

To us they threw the torch from failing hands and we dropped it.  Its time to pick it up again and hold it high the next time the government tells us Electoral Reform is not a priority.





Previous Remembrance Day blog post:

Red Poppy, White Poppy. Different Colours, Same Flower


Trudeau is Not the Problem

The problem is that you don’t live in a functioning democracy. People criticize Justin Trudeau for all kinds of reasons that are useless distractions from the most serious problem this country faces: the loss of democracy. The fact that Canadians fail to comprehend how badly democracy has been damaged makes it harder to solve the problem. Electoral Reform is the most fundamental issue facing Canadians because we cannot hope to solve any of the other serious problems we face unless and until we reclaim the power to do so.

“First past the post” (FPTP) electoral systems are fundamentally unfair because they can give parties 100% of the power with support from less than 50% of the voters. In addition to unfair elections, Canadians really don’t understand the corrosive effect ‘party discipline’ has on democracy. Party discipline means you don’t have to buy a boatload of MPs if you want to shape legislation. All the billionaire plutocrats need to do is use the access that wealth affords and exert their considerable influence over the handful of people at the top of the party in power who tell our MPs how they must vote. These people are friends, neighbours and colleagues who rub shoulders at social events.

In 2014, Gilens & Page published the Princeton Study which proved the U.S. is an oligarchy, not a democracy. If you replicated that study here, you’d get the same results. If you want a solid example of Canadian politicians ignoring the will of their constituents, look at 1988’s single-issue election where the majority of Canadians voted against NAFTA, but one party 57% of the seats with only 43% of the vote. If you think only the Tories break promises to their voters, look at the GST.

Noam Chomsky said this about the U.S. political system:

In the US, there is basically one party – the business party. It has two factions, called Democrats and Republicans, which are somewhat different but carry out variations on the same policies. By and large, I am opposed to those policies. As is most of the population.

When flawed electoral system gives people more power than they deserve, bad things will happen. Power can make ‘good’ men go bad and bad men much worse. I don’t think most people understand what power does to people.  In 1870 there was a debate about a proposed new doctrine in the Catholic Church. Implementing the doctrine of papal infallibility was one of the worst decisions the Catholic Church ever made. In opposition to this travesty, here is what one it’s sharpest critics wrote:

” I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it. ” -Lord Acton

This fundamental property of power explains most of what is wrong with the world, from Harvey Weinstein to income inequality to war and genocide. If you think Canadians can relax because we aren’t ruled by Donald Trump (yet) you need to wake up because we’re headed down the same path.


TPP is only Mostly Dead


You may have been under the mistaken impression that the wolf in sheep’s clothing known as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) was dead. Unfortunately, the TPP isn’t all dead, its only mostly dead, and mostly dead is slightly alive. The TPP is not a lone wolf, there are others in the pack.  The TTIP and TISA are still lurking in the dark, waiting to pounce on what little is left of democracy and tear out its throat.

This video, made by Wikileaks in 2015, is only 8 minutes long, but what it says is terrifying and so difficult to digest that I had watch it more than once in order to comprehend the massive scope of the danger we face. The information it contains is so important it should have 7 billion views, and yet it hasn’t cracked a million yet.

World War Three is underway right now and we can’t even see the weapons used against us in boardrooms we have no access to. Einstein had no idea how hard he nailed it when he said:

“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”


Destroy the “One Ring” of Corporate Greed



I stand with Standing Rock because I recognize they are at the front line in the war to save the biosphere from greedy   corporations. People need to learn the truth about who really has the power today, and why the truth is hidden.  That is why I’m building AWAKEupedia, to build a collection of  IMPORTANT LINKS WORTH SHARING. #ILWS is a hashtag people can use to spread awareness about any issue, including DAPL.

It is important to understand that solving any of the life-or-death problems we face requires us to ACT to take our power back. Americans will not enjoy democracy again until they dismantle the corrupt two party system controlled by Oligarchs. If you are sick seeing no progress while greedy billionaires continue raping the planet to death, consider sharing and discussing these ideas with your friends and family:

  1. Giving the Senate to democrats means Bernie Sanders becomes chair of the Budget Committee.
  2. If you think climate change is a big deal, even Ron Paul thinks you should vote for the Green party
  3. Don’t buy the narrative of ‘inevitability’ the media promotes. It is a lie.
  4. Don’t get important information from corporate media sources, they spew propaganda.
  5. Don’t lose sleep about who ends up in the white house this time around, the secret government is real.
  6. The way to take democracy back is to by-pass the whole corrupt political system using ANTI-CORRUPTION ballot initiatives, starting at the municipal and state level.
  7. The way to save the biosphere is to establish ANTI-ECOCIDE laws at the local, federal and international level.





I attended the town hall meeting on the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Toronto on June 15, 2016, along with hundreds of other concerned citizens, despite a lack of publicity. I recall only two people standing up to say anything in favour of the TPP and they both represented ‘industry groups’ which is a nice way of saying they were corporate shills. Everyone else was vehemently opposed, citing a variety of serious problems with the deal, particularly the odious Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism, which would allow even more transnational corporations to sue Canada than they already do under NAFTA.  This 6000-page agreement was negotiated by corporate lobbyists in secret  and isn’t about trade so much as consolidating even more money and power in the hands of the billionaires who hide behind opaque, undemocratic, unaccountable transnational corporations while they rape the planet to death, destroy democracy and shove more and more people into poverty. The TPP is NOT the ‘New Deal’ we’re looking for, and it is so clearly contrary to the interests of our nation that ratification should be considered an act of treason.

The Honourable Minister Chrystia Freeland wrote a book about Plutocrats, so she understands as well as anyone how the ultra-rich control public policy. Although we pride ourselves on being ‘better off’ than Americans whose government has been so corrupted by money they don’t even have a democracy anymore the truth is Canadians should be worried about the state of our democracy too. In our Westminster system we have this odd feature called ‘party discipline‘ which means elected representatives, with rare exceptions, have to vote the way the leader of the party says, no matter what their constituents want. This means plutocrats don’t have to bribe loads of MPs, just use the access money affords in order to influence the handful of people at the top of the party in power.

The billionaires behind the corporations that are trying to shove the TPP down our throats travel in the same circles as the Prime Minister, his cabinet and other influential advisers who are not elected. These people often have connections that are not transparent. They may have gone to school together, their spouses may be friends, they play golf together. Plutocrats have access to power and opportunities to exert influence that the rest of us cannot even see. This is the reason that our politicians don’t keep their promises.

In her 2013 TED talk about plutocrats,  Chrystia Freeland placed blame for rising income inequality on abstract factors like technology and globalization, exonerating the “new global super-rich.” No wonder her Rosedale neighbours elected her to parliament. Although she calls for a “new New Deal” Freeland fails to recognize that the gains in working conditions and living standards were not gifts from politicians or generous plutocrats.

Workers fought for decades in the struggle for dignity and justice. Thousands were beaten and jailed, well over a thousand died in America, including some striker’s wives, as well as 62 children murdered in the Italian Hall disaster.  The 1919 Winnipeg General Strike, resulted in 2 deaths, over 30 injuries and a virtual city-wide military occupation, in which the striker’s newspaper was shut down and it’s editors arrested. History makes it clear that the ultra-rich are not going to give up their ill-gotten gains voluntarily.

American billionaire venture capitalist Nick Hanauer issued a warning in his 2014 TED talk:

“I have a message for my fellow plutocrats and zillionaires and for anyone who lives in a gated bubble world: Wake up. Wake up. It cannot last. Because if we do not do something to fix the glaring economic inequities in our society, the pitchforks will come for us, for no free and open society can long sustain this kind of rising economic inequality. It has never happened. There are no examples. You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state or an uprising. The pitchforks will come for us if we do not address this. It’s not a matter of if, it’s when.”

Reports out of North Dakota suggest America is morphing into a dystopian Police State, not unlike Toronto’s experience during the G20. Canadians are notoriously tolerant and polite and we really don’t want to light torches or raise pitchforks, but we do need to teach plutocrats the meaning of the word “ENOUGH.” We have to take back our power so we can solve income inequality, the climate crisis and a host of other problems.

If the landmark study “Testing Theories of American Politics” by Gilens and Page was replicated in Canada, I believe the results would be the same. Canadian voters have no hope of having our voices heeded unless and until we reclaim democracy through meaningful electoral reform. I am sick and tired of my vote being wasted in a first-past-the-post system and sick to death of having my trust betrayed by elected representatives who serve the interests of plutocrats. I know I’m not alone in this, as evidenced by the volume of applause and cheering at the TPP town hall for the many speakers who trashed the TPP in no uncertain terms.

The gist of this message was originally sent to the parliamentary committee charged with ‘consulting Canadians’ about the TPP. I’ve lived long enough to have seen so many broken promises that I do NOT trust the government to heed the clearly expressed wishes of the electorate. Although the official consultations have now closed, I REFUSE to shut up about this. The more you learn about the potential impacts of the TPP on your life, the more horrified you will be. We need to tell our elected representatives LOUDLY AND OFTEN that ratification of the TPP would be considered an act of TREASON and that party discipline is no excuse. You can help by sharing this, emailing your own MP and encouraging your friends and family to do the same.

(Updated Nov 7, 2016)


Cognitive Dissonance is a Killer

Middle-aged white guys are killing themselves at alarming rates and the experts don’t know why. The suicide rate for men in their 50s increased 49% in the decade ending 2010. According to the CBC;

A recent study, co-authored by this year’s winner of the Nobel Prize for economics, Angus Deaton, found that a long-term decline in death rates changed direction in 1999 for middle-aged, non-Hispanic white Americans, especially for the segment of that population with only a high school degree or less.

I don’t think the trend is surprising nor the reasons mysterious and, despite what the “men’s rights” windbags contend, it is not the fault of women or feminism. These men who are failing to thrive were brought up in a kinder, gentler world, where income inequality was considerably less. When they were growing up, the middle class was booming and every generation seemed to be better off than the one before. That is clearly no longer the case. Working class Joe did what society expected him to do, but the rewards that were promised have not been not forthcoming.

The new reality of low economic mobility coupled with extreme income inequality grinds against the deeply entrenched, but now mostly false, belief that the “American Dream” is possible. Millions of Americans have been shoved out of the middle class into poverty, and the depth of that poverty is getting worse. In short, the working class white guy has finally figured out that he’s been lied to, and he feels duped and powerless. He didn’t see it coming, so he feels he’s failed to protect and provide for his family. That is a heavy burden to carry alone, and traditionally, men have been socialized to be stoic and not reach out for help, so they suffer in silence until it becomes too much for some of them to bear.

In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values. – Wikipedia

If we’ve been lied to all these years about the American Dream, what other core beliefs are just delusions? Here’s a hard one to swallow: America is no longer a democracy. Let that sink in. The ideal that Lincoln put forth in the Gettysburg Address of government of the people, by the people, for the people has indeed perished in the United States of America. The government is now more accurately described as a corporate-controlled Oligarchy. An academic study done by experts at Princeton and Northwestern concluded in September 2014 that policy decisions are driven by the economic elite and the average voter has a level of influence on public policy that is “near zero.” That’s right, the average voter has no power, no influence on the legislative process. Let. that. sink. in. This is a really tough truth to absorb. That uncomfortable feeling – a painful sense of betrayal – is called cognitive dissonance.

It not news that money is power and power is money. What many failed to notice is that there has been a massive transfer of wealth into the pockets of the 1% from the rest of us.  The ultra-rich are hoarding vast amounts of capital and passing it down to their children, so the oligarchs at the top of the pyramid are using and abusing inherited wealth to buy influence and control politicians and policy. The game is rigged. The concentration of media ownership means that mainstream media does not distribute truth, but propaganda that shapes public opinion to keep people distracted from the fundamental shift of power into the hands of the economic elite. We could solve the energy crisis by hooking up a generator to George Orwell spinning in his grave.

Middle-aged, working class white guys are now on a level playing field for the first time with millions of others from marginalized groups who can’t help but think “karma’s a bitch, ain’t it?” The powers that be have always used our differences to divide us with the political weapons of fear and anger. Even the poorest white people considered themselves better off (or just ‘better’) than their black neighbours. There is certainly a tradition of dis-empowered men building up their own egos at their wives’ expense. If even the formerly privileged white guy finally realizes he’s just as screwed as everyone else, what is left to divide us with? Many men still cling to the idea that competition is better than cooperation. When a critical mass of people understand that compassion is more likely to lead to happiness, we may see a shift in consciousness that leads to greater social justice, reduced inequality, and greater prosperity for the 99%. However, that isn’t going to happen in an Oligarchy.

The way out of this mess isn’t rocket science. The same forces at play in the U.S. have been at work in Canada, where we finally kicked out a right-wing Prime Minister in favour of one who promises to reform the electoral system to make it more fair to voters. Electoral reform is the key to taking democracy back. In Canada it means getting rid of first-past-the-post so our votes aren’t wasted. In the U.S. the biggest issue is campaign finance.  Now that Americans are learning that they don’t live in a democracy anymore, what are they going to do about it?

Edit: Bernie Sanders could have done amazing things.  Perhaps people will wake up by 2018.


Here are some links to some other interesting ideas;


GMO Apologist Funding and the End of Democracy

I’ve been poking around for information on how the money flows from the GMO Lobby to the relatively small cadre of apologists who defend them. When clicking through links about genetic engineering (GE), the same names keep popping up. If you follow the pro-GMO money it tends to lead back to the very corporations who stand to rake in massive profits by keeping people ignorant about what goes into their food supply.


As a starting point, let’s look at Kellogg’s funding of a recent study suggesting that 100 billion cows were healthy right before they were slaughtered for food after ingesting GE feed for only 90-120 days. The study came out of the University of California at Davis, which gets lots of research funding  from ‘industry partners’ .

When I started clicking links to the Kellogg Foundation I found some rather odd data. The branding on their website is all about helping children. Nothing in the mission statement about the quality of cow feed. So I searched their grants page for UC Davis and found a number of awards adding up to over six million dollars, only a pittance of which went to grants that had anything to do with children. I fail to see how grants to livestock feed studies mesh with the stated mission of the Kellogg fund.


This sort of inconsistency leads to accusations of corruption and money laundering akin to what the Grocery Manufacturers Association did during GMO labeling campaigns in California and Washington state. Kellogg’s funnelled money into both of those campaigns due to concerns that GMO labeling will eat further into their profits, down 16% in the 2nd quarter. This setback was attributed to changes in eating habits rather than the boycott of Kellogs products to protest their opposition to labeling their GE foods.


I’m not attacking the scientists involved in pro-GE studies. They probably believe that they’re doing good work for the benefit of mankind. Noam Chomsky explained in Manufacturing Consent how the systemic filters ensure that the people who get ahead in the media are the ones whose outlook meshes with that of their corporate masters. There are similar filters operating in academia.


Let’s turn our attention to the cozy group of GMO cheerleaders who jumped on that feeding study like a duck on a junebug and started sharing the shit out of it. I first found it on a Facebook page and followed the links to an article in Forbes by Jon Entine. He’s head of an outfit called the Genetic Literacy Project. Sourcewatch follows the funding through front groups and networked organizations that are funded by right-wing think tanks and ultimately the Koch Brothers, who also support anti-labeling laws.

When I started sharing my views on Twitter, I got into a lengthy exchange with Kevin Folta at the University of Florida. I didn’t find any links to Kellogg’s there, but I did stumble onto some fascinating reports on how the Koch Brothers bought a department and tried to buy the presidency of another of Florida’s state universities. Of the 12 institutions in Florida’s state system, UFlorida has the largest endowment and enrollment and also appears on the list of recipients of Koch brothers’ largesse. Unfortunately, a lack of transparency makes it impossible to determine how much Koch influence might be exerted at UF.  Regardless, it is clear that Folta has solid connections to the Genetic Literacy Project and other GMO cheerleaders who present at the same conferences.


Why should you care who funds whom? It’s not just that a handful of corporations are trying to get a stranglehold on the world’s food supply. You should care that YOU DON’T LIVE IN A DEMOCRACY ANYMORE. Let that sink in. This is not just my opinion. Princeton academics have documented this fundamental shift to oligarchy. Predictably, this story received almost no coverage in the mainstream mediaChris Hedges  describes what has happened as a corporate coup d’etat. The same kind of stealth tactics that Big Ag pursues have also been used with great success by Big Pharma, Big Oil and Big Tobacco and Wall Street took it to a whole new level.  Naomi Klein‘s new book, does a great job of explaining how capitalism is destroying the biosphere.

let that sink in

If the corporations have already won, as Hedges and a great deal of evidence suggests, what are the people to do?  Citizens in the U.S. and Canada will have to take back democracy from the ground up, starting at the municipal level. (Take a look at what they’re doing in Seattle if you need some inspiration.) In every election at the provincial/state or federal level the number one issue we need to demand accountability on in Canada is ELECTORAL REFORM. In the U.S., campaign finance needs reform to address the corruption and legal bribery that has quietly robbed the people of their power.


Expect the bullshit machine try to scare you with all manner of reasons to keep the status quo. Don’t drink their kool-aid. An estimated 400,000 people who hit the streets of New York on September 21st to demand action on climate change were just the tip of the iceberg.  As more North Americans realize their country has been stolen by the .001%, I predict we will see even larger crowds in the street. The police state cannot prevail against a populist uprising.


Billionaire venture capitalist Nick Hanauer points out that when economic inequality reaches the record levels we are seeing, the result tends to be an uprising or a police state. Then Ferguson happened and showed America the police state had already arrived. Peace is a good thing. Nobody wants a violent revolution, but maintaining the status quo is not an acceptable option to anyone who values their civil rights or the biosphere we depend on for survival. If you don’t get off your arse and demand your democracy back, you will condemn your children to live as serfs on a poisoned planet, who think they are ‘free’ because the media told them so.


ps; If you found this enlightening, please consider sharing it with others.