Archive for the ‘current-events’ Tag

Okay, Toronto. It’s up to you   Leave a comment

There are times in life when I need a bit of inspiration.

The recent provincial election in Ontario brought me to one such time. However, the antidote arrived unexpectedly in the form of a blog posting by Joy Connelly. Chicago in April 2011Joy Connelly began with the following words:

“As I watched last Thursday’s election results, I was reminded of the motto printed on housing hero Steve Pomeroy’s letterhead: focus on what you can do, not what you cannot.”

Joy then proceeds to illustrate the powers that are available to the City of Toronto to deal with our housing crisis. Yes, there are things that can be done! To read an inspirational posting about what we can focus on doing, read Joy Connelly’s blog at:

https://openingthewindow.com/2018/06/11/okay-toronto-its-up-to-you/?

 

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Posted June 13, 2018 by allanbaker in Canadian society

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A Tale of Two Narratives   Leave a comment

Challenges await Venezuela’s Maduro as he wins a second term

Closing of a voting table at about 7 pm Sunday in the teacher’ college in Ali Primera park, Caracas. Photo: Jim Hodgson

To no one’s surprise, Nicolas Maduro has won a second term as president of Venezuela. And again (not a surprise) we see two narratives developing about what happened here on Sunday.

Our Canadian labour observer delegation saw an election that was expertly run, had good participation, and which had no fraud that was evident to us. Granted, we were mostly in the poorer neighbourhoods where support for Maduro is highest — the neighbourhoods where the majority of Venezuelans live.

Meanwhile, even by mid-afternoon, the international media were reporting a low turnout and complaints of fraud.

“Polls close as opposition cries foul,” said the BBC. Such reports cited opposition candidate Henri Falcon who by mid-day had registered 350 complaints about the process. By the time the polls closed, he registered more than 900.

Around mid-day, the United States declared it would not recognize the result. Other countries, including Canada, are expected to follow suit.

In the end, the vote was not close. Maduro won with 5.8 million votes. His principal opponent, Henri Falcon, had about 1.8 million. Voter turnout was 48 per cent.

“We are the force of history turned into popular victory,” Maduro told supporters gathered outside the Miraflores presidential palace after results were announced. Promising to be a president for all Venezuelans, he renewed his call for dialogue. “Permanent dialogue is what Venezuela needs,” he said.

For Maduro, the negative international reaction, while predictable, will be a problem. Existing sanctions already hurt the country’s ability to make purchases abroad. Companies and banks are now reluctant to engage with any Venezuelan purchaser, making access to food and medicine imports ever more difficult — and provoking shortages that have a direct impact the lives of ordinary people. To make matters worse, U.S. administration officials have warned of new sanctions that could reduce Venezuela’s oil exports.

Some problems are home-made. Despite concerted efforts, corruption is still an issue. I spoke with a young doctor who supports the government and deplores the diversion of medicine from Venezuela to Colombia. “People who do that are traitors,” he said.

Venezuela also suffers from hyperinflation and some of the world’s highest crime rates.

Maduro has promised a new national dialogue to achieve some way of living with the opposition. The problem is that at least since their failed coup attempt in 2002, most opposition forces have shown little or no interest in any solution other than complete capitulation or regime change through force: another coup or foreign military intervention.

The most concerted effort to bring opponents into the present electoral process collapsed in early February after months of international mediation led by the Dominican Republic. A previous Vatican-led effort also failed.

The challenges are immense, and there will be no honeymoon for this president as he begins a second term.

Yet Venezuelans merit attention and solidarity as they try to find a way forward. Democracy is supposed to be about the people ruling. Venezuela is one of a handful of countries remaining where the poorest people have wrested control away from the rich who used political structures to maintain economic privileges.

This column originally appeared on Rabble.ca

 

 

Toronto – still Toronto “the good”   Leave a comment

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan DenetteFirst responders close down Yonge Street in Toronto after a van mounted a sidewalk, crashing into a number of pedestrians on April 23, 2018. The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette

 

Following the horrific event, and tragedy, that happened in Toronto, Canada on Monday, April 23, 2018, there has been plenty of commentary. Ten people are dead; fifteen were injured, thousands are traumatized. How could this happen in Toronto?

Stephen Marche has reflected on all of this, and whether it will “change Toronto” in a posting on Walrus Magazine’s website. Some of what March wrote is:

“Because the people of Toronto, at their best anyway, know that any time you put people into pre-established categories, you’re most likely being an idiot. That’s the reason to move here after all: to live in a place where they won’t put you in a box. The city doesn’t always live up to this ideal of inclusion. It fails often, even. But I believe, in a very serious way, that the aspiration towards openness and tolerance remains real. Multiculturalism works here. Everybody knows it. The ceos of the banks know it. The kids scrounging WiFi outside the libraries after hours know it. The convenience store owners know it. Drake knows it. The old wasps in the upscale Rosedale neighbourhood know it. No random act of violence is going to shake that knowledge.”

The whole article that Marche created is available at: The Walrus

 

Posted April 25, 2018 by allanbaker in Canadian society

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10,000 Trees Makes a Difference!   Leave a comment

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On Earth Day, 2018, 10,000 Trees organized the planting of 1,200 native wildflowers and 4,600 trees and shrubs along the Rouge River in Markham, Ontario. All of the planting was done by volunteers who came out for the day and gave willingly of their time and energy.

Since 1989, 10,000 Trees volunteers have helped to restore over 180 acres of fragile watershed land. Our plantings protect creeks and streams in the Rouge River watershed from soil erosion, helping to link existing islands of forest and extending wildlife corridors.

Formed in 1989 as an offshoot of Save the Rouge Valley and the Rouge Valley Foundation, 10,000 Trees now runs as an independent all-volunteer group, with Charitable Organization status. Our group is constantly growing and is recognized as one of the best tree-planting groups in Canada.

Our legacy is hands-on education and stewardship. Through our work, we hope a legacy of preservation will continue to grow for years to come. We are very proud to have introduced thousands of people to the joys of restoring wildlife habitat. Our volunteer groups learn practical skills – and people of all ages dig right in and realize they can do something for the land, wildlife and people in our city. Together we’re making a difference!

For more information on 10,000 Trees go to: www.10000trees.com

 

Canada has yet to begin the process of reconciliation   Leave a comment

 

Tina Fontaine (left) and Colten Boushie (right).

We now have a responsibility to Tina Fontaine and Colten Boushie to face our structural racism and work toward decolonization together. So says columnist Stephanie Strachan in her column in the UC Observer.

http://www.ucobserver.org/society/2018/02/tina-fontaine-colten-boushie/

 

We have been grieving a long time   Leave a comment

There were several vigils across Canada last week following the acquittal of Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley. He had been charged with the murder of Colten Boushie, a First Nations man.

Senator Murray Sinclair wrote the following reflection, and posted it on his Facebook page. These are words, I believe, that apply in many of  our current situations in Canada.

 

Today I grieve for my country.
I grieve for a family
that has seen only injustice
from the moment a farmer with a handgun
(why does a farmer need a handgun?)
killed their son.
I grieve for a mother
who saw the police raid her house
and treat her like a criminal
and not the victim she was.
I grieve for other mothers
with empty arms
who are reminded of their own loss
at the hands of others.
and the lack of answers that haunt them still
I grieve for the youth
who now see no hope,
and whose hunger for justice
gives rise to anger.
I grieve for the children
whose lives now have
one more jeopardy.
I grieve for the elders
who have seen this before.
And whose wisdom holds no means
to get through this evenly.
I may grieve for some time.
But then again…
we have been grieving a long time.
This is why
we can’t “just get over it and move on”.
My country won’t let me.

Make Babylon Great Again   Leave a comment

I first encountered the Rev. Dr. William Barber on TV when he was making a political speech. His Christian faith shone brightly through his words.

Now, Barber’s words have reached me through a short article that he wrote for Sojourner’s magazine, “Make Babylon Great Again”. It interprets the actions and words of the current President of the United States of America through the lens of the Book of Daniel in the Bible. It is interesting to read how Rev. Barber draws parallels between Nebuchadnezzar and the President.

https://sojo.net/magazine/march-2018/we-will-not-bow-down