Archive for the ‘leadership’ Tag

Leadership Qualities

What makes a good leader for any organization?

Wesley Wes Granberg-Michaelson approaches this question in a reflection on the resignations of two prominent “leaders”.

“My experience in the worlds of both religion and politics convinces me that one of three issues is at the heart of the catastrophic demise of any leader — money, sex, or power. Sometimes it’s a trifecta of all three together, like the case of John Edwards, the former Democratic presidential candidate. But in virtually every case, a leader’s personal inability to exercise appropriate constraint and control over one or more of these three dimensions of life can lead to careers that crumble and reputations that become shattered.”


However, there is a positive aspect to Grandberg-Michaelson’s response as well.

At the end of the day, the inner qualities of a potential leader — and especially a president — can end up having huge external consequences. No, we can’t expect them to be saints. It’s a start, in fact, if they can at least recognize that they are sinners. And then we can hope and expect that they are living well-examined lives, that they have dealt with their inner demons, and that they are living by habits and practices that can integrate their deeper selves. From such leaders one can expect wisdom, courage, and discernment. Their internal work can externally affect millions for the good.”

Read the full reflection on qualities of a leader at:

Posted June 5, 2015 by allanbaker in Canadian society, Politics

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Suzuki comments on latest IPCC report – choices?

IPCC report is clear: We must clean up our act

Wind Farm in Germany
Germany, the world’s fourth-largest economy, now gets a third of its energy from renewable sources, and has reduced carbon emissions 23 per cent from 1990 levels and created 370,000 jobs. (Credit: David via Flickr)

It’s become a cliché to say that out of crisis comes opportunity. But there’s no denying that when faced with crises, we have choices. The opportunity depends on what we decide to do.

What choices will we make when confronted with the fact that 2014 will likely be the hottest year on record? According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, global land and sea temperatures up to September’s end tie this year with 1998 as the warmest since record keeping began in 1880. “If 2014 maintains this temperature departure from average for the remainder of the year, it will be the warmest year on record,” a NOAA statement says.

The world’s warmest 10 years have all been since 1998, and last year carbon dioxide levels rose by the highest amount in 30 years.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Synthesis Report, released November 2, summarizes three reports released over the past year on the physical science; impacts, adaptation and vulnerability; and mitigation. It offers a stark choice: Unless we quickly curtail our fossil fuel dependence, we face “further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.

As a broadcaster, I’ve interviewed hundreds of scientists over the years, but I’ve never heard so many speak so forcefully and urgently as climatologists today. It’s a measure of the seriousness of the crisis.

What choices will we make? Will politicians close their eyes while fossil fuel industry executives shovel money at them and enlist propagandists to spread misinformation and lies? Will we listen to those who, in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence, continue to say the global warming they once claimed never existed stopped 18 years ago, or that human activity doesn’t contribute to climate change?

Or will we heed scientists from around the world who offer evidence that we still have time to do something about this very real crisis — and that confronting the challenge presents more opportunities than pitfalls?

Believing our only choice is between a strong economy and a healthy environment is absurd. Yet that’s the false option many political leaders and fossil fuel industry proponents present. Never mind the insanity of thinking we can survive and be healthy if we destroy the natural systems on which we depend; research shows taking measured steps to address global warming would have few negative economic effects and would offer numerous benefits. Failing to act would be disastrous for the economy and environment.

Energy conservation and clean fuels offer the greatest opportunities. Conserving energy makes precious, non-renewable resources last longer, reduces pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, saves consumers money and offers many economic benefits. More than 100,000 Canadians are directly employed in improving energy efficiency, with total wages estimated at $8.27 billion for 2014.

The fast-growing clean-energy and clean-technology sectors offer similar benefits. Improved performance and cost reductions make large-scale deployment for many clean-energy technologies increasingly feasible. By focusing on fossil fuels, Canada is clearly missing out. Worldwide spending on clean energy last year was $207 billion. Canada spent $6.5 billion — a start, but we could do much better.

Germany, the world’s fourth-largest economy, now gets a third of its energy from renewable sources, and has reduced carbon emissions 23 per cent from 1990 levels and created 370,000 jobs.

In contrast, Canada subsidizes the fossil fuel industry to the tune of $1.3 billion a year, despite a 2009 G20 agreement to phase out subsidies. The federal Environment and Sustainable Development Commissioner’s recent audit found Canada has no detailed plan to shrink carbon pollution and meet its international commitment, and has failed to release or enforce oil and gas sector emission regulations for our fastest-growing source of emissions, the oil sands, promised since 2006. Expanding oil sands and liquefied natural gas development will only make matters worse.

People around the world want leadership from elected representatives on climate change and pollution. Business leaders are getting on board. Will we take advantage of the numerous benefits of energy conservation and clean energy or remain stuck in the old way of just blindly burning our way through? The choice is clear.

By David Suzuki with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Senior Editor Ian Hanington.

Reflections on a violent day in Ottawa (7)

Four Prime Questions about Harper’s Response to Ottawa Shooting

PM’s moves at home and abroad demand closer scrutiny.

By Murray Dobbin, November 3, 2014,


Cartoon by Greg Perry.

Two weeks after the senseless murder of a soldier on Parliament Hill (and another earlier in Montreal) there are several things we know and many we don’t. Obvious questions have been asked and inconvenient ones have been left aside.

We know — and indeed could predict one second after the shooting — that Stephen Harper would use it as an excuse to expand the security and surveillance state he has been constructing.

We know that the shooting was not a terrorist act, but a criminal one, regardless of what the RCMP and CSIS, eager to enhance their political role and resources, are saying. (Within an hour of the shooting an over-eager CSIS official was declaring hopefully, “this will change everything.”)

We know that the enhanced security measures and police powers will do nothing to help us understand, let alone deal with, the root causes of what the Harper government claims is an existential threat to Canada and the West (but is content to deal with symptoms).

We know that there will be no additional resources from governments to deal with mental illness as Mr. Harper plans to cut billions from medicare. There will be no revisiting of the issue of gun registration in spite of its obvious importance in dealing with such incidents. And there will be no effort on the part of our Christian fundamentalist PM to counter the anti-Muslim backlash he knows he is contributing to by hyping the terrorist threat.

The bigger questions remain to be asked and so they won’t likely be answered. They include:

1. What freedoms must we now erode and why? Mr. Harper, who eagerly adheres to the (simplistic) idea that jihadists “hate our freedoms,” might reasonably be asked to explain why he is so eager to destroy those freedoms in response to the jihadists’ “war” against the West. Isn’t that exactly what they want — or does Harper want to rid us of freedoms so the jihadists won’t hate us so much? Wouldn’t a genuine response be to celebrate and enhance our freedoms even more (perhaps by ending the auditing of groups critical of the government)?

2. What is producing Canada’s homegrown jihadists? This is another question the government seems decidedly uninterested in: what is it about our Western societies — supposedly the model for the entire world, morally, culturally and socially superior — that alienates some young people so much that they can suddenly decide it’s all right to kill innocents and it’s worth dying for a cause so remote and alien to their lived experience that it is scarcely possible to believe they can understand it let alone truly embrace it? Could it possibly have anything to do with 35 years of neoliberal assault on community and consumer capitalism’s failure to provide meaning to their lives beyond purchasing the next electronic gadget?

3. What is the most effective response to Islamists? Yet one more question not being asked is what would a rational, enlightened (we are enlightened, right?), effective response to so-called “radical” Islam look like? The “this changes everything” gang certainly don’t intend to change Canada’s foreign policy or recommend a change to its allies. Yet it is key to any long-term solution.

There are countless experts and historians who are eager to address the issue. And we know what they would say about Stephen Harper’s efforts to transform Canada from a moderate, middle power with a history of virtually inventing UN peacekeeping, into a shrill, warmongering nation ever ready to rattle its (insignificant) sabre at any opportunity.

The fact that these two unconnected killings were not terrorist acts doesn’t mean such acts cannot or will not happen. And while Mr. Harper puts on his warrior’s armour and militarizes the government’s response, he ignores the impact of his reckless Middle East foreign policy on escalating such threats. Canada’s ham-handed policies actually do put us at risk.

According to a report in the National Post, on Sept. 21, ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani “urged ISIS supporters to kill Canadians, Americans, Australians, French and other Europeans…. Rely upon Allah…. Do not ask for anyone’s advice and do not seek anyone’s verdict.”

This threat is clearly connected directly to Canada’s policies and its determination to join the war against ISIS. Harper, in what has become his standard adolescent response to events in the Middle East, bravely declared he would not be “cowed by threats while innocent children, women, men and religious minorities live in fear of these terrorists.” Yet Canada’s contribution is laughably minuscule — but just big enough, perhaps, to put us at risk of a future attack. And all, as usual, for domestic political consumption as evidenced by the total inability of the government to explain its mission.

To their credit the opposition parties in Parliament, the NDP and the Liberals, voted against the ISIS mission for most of the right reasons: what exactly was the mission, what were the government’s expectations, how was success being defined, what Canadian interests are being served and why six months? Not one of these questions was answered and instead the questioners were treated to the usual contempt from the prime minister.

4. Can we learn from how we got here? We are supposed to learn as children that actions have consequences so I suppose we are left to conclude that current leaders of the Anglo-industrialized countries (in particular) were badly neglected by their parents. A catastrophic failure of imagination on the part of the West has led us to this point. It’s worth tracing back to its origins. The first failure belonged to Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor, and the key architect of the mujahedeen war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Before the U.S. began arming, financing and training the original handful of religious zealots opposed to the godless Soviets, they were a threat to no one.

In an interview that appeared in 1998, Brzezinski revealed his impoverished imagination when asked if he regretted creating Islamic terrorists: “What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?”

ISIS would not exist had the U.S. not created its predecessors. And this failure of imagination is replicated year after year in the White House, in the Strangelovian world of NATO and now in Ottawa. Imperial hubris, wilful ignorance, political opportunism and sheer incompetence still determine Middle East policy. Harper enthusiastically bombed Libya, with the unintended but predictable consequence of handing over thousands of tonnes of sophisticated weapons to another branch of radical Islamists. He gives Israel absolute carte blanche in its savaging of Palestinians, alienating even moderate Arabs throughout the region, and now he pointlessly tweaks the tail of the ISIS tiger.

His every act in the name of Canada creates more jihadists. We are just lucky that an attack on Canada initiated by ISIS is extremely unlikely.  [Tyee]


Canada and climate change

Canada has the worst climate change record in the industrialized world

This is embarrassing.

Canada is dead last among industrialized nations in a new climate change performance index.

“Canada still shows no intention on moving forward with climate policy and therefore remains the worst performer of all industrialized countries,” says the report released by Germanwatch, a sustainable development advocacy group.

The index takes into account a variety of indicators related to greenhouse gas emissions, development of emissions, climate policy, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Canada particularly stands out when comparing its low scores on emissions, renewable energy investments and climate policies.


This shouldn’t come as much surprise to Canadians.

Back in June, when U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced plans for historic reductions in carbon emissions, Stephen Harper reversed his long-standing wait-and-see what the Americans do position on emissions, shifting to a new line that he had actually solved the problem two years ago.

That, of course, isn’t true. Earlier this month, an audit conducted by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development found the federal government’s policies to reduce emissions has only gotten us 7% of the way to meeting Canada’s Copenhagen Accord targets.

On the other hand, we’re dealing with a government that believes increased fossil fuel use has a correlation with improved air and water quality.

Photo: ojbryne.

Reflections on a violent day in Ottawa (6)

Harper tries to intimidate us into perpetual war

Photo: pmwebphotos/flickr

Stephen Harper insisted last week that we will not be intimidated by terrorism. He then did everything he could to ensure we will be intimidated by terrorism.

I’ve always been confused by the assertion that we won’t be intimidated by terrorism. Has anyone ever suggested that we should be intimidated by terrorism, that because a man ran into the Parliament buildings brandishing a rifle, we should abandon parliamentary democracy?

Obviously not.

But Harper wants us to be sufficiently intimidated that we will allow the fight against “terrorism” to take centre-stage and suck up all our energy — unlike, say, threats that are just as likely or more likely to kill us, like Ebola or climate change. (These threats don’t much interest Harper. He’s made only made a small contribution to fighting the Ebola epidemic; and he’s actively obstructed attempts to organize global action against climate change.)

Not so with terrorism, which dominated the political agenda all this week, with lots of hype about Canada and our institutions being under attack — even as there was growing difficulty in explaining the difference between the “terrorist” murders of two soldiers and the non-terrorist murders of three RCMP officers in Moncton. The main difference appeared to be that the Moncton murderer was not a follower of Islam, so didn’t fit into the government’s terrorist category.

The real danger is that we will be intimidated — not by terrorists or mentally ill killers, but by Stephen Harper — into accepting an aggressive “war on terror” agenda. Those who don’t jump on board will soon be reminded: if you’re not fighting terrorism, you’re with the terrorists.

Under this kind of pressure, Canadians may end up accepting an agenda that we’ve wisely resisted in the past, and that most Canadians regard as a failure.

It’s worth recalling that Stephen Harper tried to push Canadians into George W. Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Canadians (and Americans) now overwhelmingly regard that invasion as a disaster, and believe western interventions to fight terrorism have only made the world more dangerous, according to pollster Frank Graves.

Graves points to what Canadians would like to see instead: “Overwhelmingly, Canadians want to see their leaders re-think their reliance on military and security-oriented approaches to the terrorist threat, in favour of approaches more in keeping with our core values as a nation.”

Well, we can pretty much forget about that.

Already, the Harper government has moved to beef up the surveillance and police powers of the state.

This is always worrisome, but particularly so under this government, which has aggressively used state power, including invasive tax audits to harass charities — notably  environmental charities — that have opposed government policies.

In fact, the Harper government has gone so far as to suggest some charities have terrorist links.

As the late Jim Flaherty said, “there are some terrorist organizations, there are some organized crime organizations that launder money through charities, and make donations to charities.”

What new measures then might the Harper government use to spy on or clamp down on allegedly terrorist-connected environmental groups that threaten to derail its pipeline agenda?

In the new anti-terror atmosphere, we can also expect plenty of pressure to fall in line when it’s time to extend the six-month bombing mission in Iraq; curtailing it, after all, would be giving in to terrorists, practically coddling them.

Certainly there will be little tolerance for arguments like the one advanced this week by Ron Paul, the maverick former Republican presidential candidate, who noted that Canada’s past avoidance of U.S. military interventions was wise: “staying out of other people’s wars makes a country more safe.”

Of course, risking our safety can be justified — if the war is justified and worth fighting.

But the danger is that we won’t even have a chance to properly assess our bombing mission in Iraq.

Any attempt at thoughtful evaluation will be pre-empted by the need to show resolve against terror, to remain in lock-step with our anti-terror allies. We’ll end up less safe, not because we’ve concluded that bombing Iraq is a good idea, but because we’ve been attacked by “terrorists” and need to show them we won’t be intimidated.

During the war in Afghanistan, commentators used to say that if there were a lot of casualties, Canadians would turn against the war.

But the government did its best to tar those who did, including “Taliban Jack” Layton, who dared to urge negotiations.

As the government cranked up anthems and paraded coffins down the “Highway of Heroes,” we were urged to believe that each new casualty was a reason for staying — lest the fallen soldier had died in vain.

And so Canada stayed in Afghanistan for more than a decade, even though only 16 per cent of Canadians now regard that intervention as a success.

Hopefully this time we actually won’t be intimidated — by terrorists, the mentally ill, or those trying to push us into perpetual war.

Winner of a National Newspaper Award, Linda McQuaig has been a reporter for the Globe and Mail, a columnist for the National Post and the Toronto Star and author of seven bestsellers, including Shooting the Hippo: Death by Deficit and other Canadian Myths and It’s the Crude, Dude: War, Big Oil and the Fight for the Planet. Her most recent book (co-written with Neil Brooks) is The Trouble with Billionaires: How the Super-Rich Hijacked the World, and How We Can Take It Back.

This article is reprinted (by with permission from iPolitics 

Reflections on a violent day in Ottawa (5)

"to see with the eyes of faith"

“to see with the eyes of faith”

“Fear is so fundamental to the human condition that all the great spiritual traditions originate in an effort to overcome its effects on our lives. With different words, they all proclaim the same core message: Be not afraid.””

A quote from Parker Palmer’s book, The Courage to Teach, page 57

Reflections on a violent day in Ottawa (4)

The Enemy Is Neglect of Mental Illness

The Ottawa shooter hardly fits the mould of sleeper cell terrorist.

By Mitchell Anderson, October 25, 2014,


Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was a homeless, mentally ill drug addict and not part of a well-resourced terrorist cell.


Canada and the world were shocked this week by the brazen shooting of a Canadian soldier at our National War Memorial and an armed assault on our seat of government. These tragic events cry out for immediate and drastic action to ensure this never happens again. And based on what we know so far, the most effective intervention would be to invest in support for those dealing with mental illness, addiction and poverty.

The gunman Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was not part of a well-resourced terrorist organization or Islamic sleeper cell. Immediately before the shooting, he was living in an Ottawa homeless shelter. He apparently had a long history of addiction and mental illness. In 2012 he asked a B.C. judge to send him to jail so that he could try and deal with his addiction to crack cocaine.

“I went to see the RCMP, I told them, ‘Just put me in so I could do my time for what I confessed.’ They couldn’t. So, I warned them, ‘If you can’t keep me in, I’m going to do something right now just to be put in.’ So I went to do another robbery just so I could come to jail,” Zehaf-Bibeau said he told the court in 2011.

On Dec. 15, 2011, Zehaf-Bibeau walked into a Burnaby RCMP detachment and asked to be arrested for a robbery he claimed to have committed 10 years earlier. He was briefly detained under B.C.’s Mental Health Act but later released. Hours later he attempted to rob a local McDonalds restaurant with a sharpened stick — an act so bizarre the fast food employee thought he was joking.

His case was swallowed by the yawning cracks in our broken mental health system. The court psychiatrist determined that “although he seems to be making an unusual choice, this is insufficient basis for a diagnosis of mental disorder.” In order to be admitted to a treatment facility under the Act, Zehaf-Bibeau would legally require a condition that “seriously impairs the person’s ability to react appropriately to the person’s environment, or to associate with others.”

Instead, the judge indulged him with a brief jail term over the Christmas holidays. “Perfect,” said Zehaf-Bibeau on hearing of his incarceration. He likely found that Canada’s prison system is woefully under-resourced to deal with addiction and mental health issues.

Warehousing the mentally ill

This year the Correctional Investigator for Canada, Howard Sapers, called prison conditions for the mentally ill “grossly inadequate.” Increasingly these prisoners are being warehoused in solitary confinement due to lack of proper facilities or personnel.

Sapers told The Tyee last February that retention of qualified treatment staff is one of the most pressing concerns. “Many of the psychology positions are currently filled with individuals who do not have the qualifications to be licensed psychologists and this really has a very negative impact on the treatment that offenders with mental health issues have in federal penitentiaries.”

In his most recent report to Parliament, Sapers found, “More offenders are presenting with complex mental health, substance abuse and addictions issues. For example, upon admission, 80 per cent of federally sentenced male offenders have a substance abuse problem and nearly two-thirds reported that they were under the influence of substances during the commission of their offence.”

In spite of HIV and hepatitis C infection being rates 10 and 30 times higher in prisons than in the general population, Canada still does not have a needle exchange program within federal penitentiaries.

Outside of prisons, Canada is faring little better regarding a national commitment to deal with addiction and mental health. The Harper government fought the Insite Safe Injection facility all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada in spite of a decade of evidence showing how much it is needed in Canada’s poorest neighbourhood.

Ten years after this facility opened, Dr. Julio Montaner of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS reported that “More than 30 peer-reviewed studies show that Insite saves lives and health care dollars, reduces disease transmission, and promotes entry into addiction treatment.”

One in five Canadians is coping (or not) with a problem involving mental health or addiction — a situation that is growing worse. Within a generation, 8.9 million Canadians will be living with a mental illness.

There is also a clear link between poverty and mental health. People in Canada’s lowest income group are up to four times as likely to report poor mental health than wealthy Canadians. As many as two thirds of homeless people report also dealing with a mental illness. It remains a national disgrace that in virtually any Canadian city, the neglected and disgorged mentally ill of our society continue to sleep outside for lack of any better alternative.

Paying in lives and dollars

Mental illness also costs Canada billions. Recent research itemized the economic burden at more than $50 billion per year. In Ontario, the disease burden of mental illness and addiction is one and a half times greater than all cancers put together and seven times more than all infectious diseases.

Poverty affects three million Canadians and one in five children, one of the worst rankings in the OECD. More and more physicians are drawing a direct link between poverty and poor public health outcomes. Health care remains the biggest line item in any provincial budget and collectively costs Canada $211 billion each year. Perhaps the most effective long-term strategy in controlling those costs may involve making sure that Canadians are not getting sick simply because they are poor.

Whether we want to admit it or not, the externalized costs of ignoring addiction, mental health and poverty in Canada will be borne by someone. Increasingly the professionals on the front lines of this battle are not trained psychologists or social workers but police, prison guards and physicians. Last week the gifted young soldier Cpl. Nathan Cirillo tragically lost his life to someone who was mentally ill.

We need to learn what we can from the tragic events on Parliament Hill and not draw conclusions based on mere ideology. It seems doubtful that this senseless act of violence would have been prevented by devoting more powers and funding to the “war on terror” or increased public surveillance — something the Harper government is clearly committed to doing, regardless of the facts we have learned so far about the shooter.

Rather than trying to turn our country into a fortress — a staggeringly expensive strategy with virtually no real world evidence of preventing terrorism — we should instead invest our efforts in making Canada a more humane, healthy (and safe) place to live. That would be a more noble and Canadian response to this ignoble and tragic act.   [Tyee]

Reflections on a violent day in Ottawa (3)


By Jim Taylor – Sunday October 26, 2014

Wednesday morning, a man with a gun killed a soldier on ceremonial duty at the national cenotaph in Ottawa. Minutes later, the man ran into the parliament buildings. Where, in a flurry of gunshots, he died. A recording by a Globe and Mail reporter caught the gunfire. It was over in seconds. But the sounds echoed through parliament’s old stone hallways much longer.

Echoes do that.

A thunderclap actually lasts only as long as the lightning flash; the echoes rumble around the hills for minutes. Echoes reverberate even longer in memory. Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is, basically, an echo that refuses to fade away.

Listening to eight hours of news coverage from Ottawa, I felt that I was hearing more echoes than insight.
Apparently no one saw it coming. Not CSIS, the Canadian security Intelligence Service. Not the police. Not the government.

The government had planned to introduce new anti-terrorist legislation in parliament that same day.
CSIS told a parliamentary committee that it had some 130 “radicalized” young men under surveillance, including the driver who ran down two armed forces personnel on Monday in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. But it lacked funds to track every potential terrorist.

Echoes… after the act….

By some coincidence, the day before the Ottawa attack, I received an e-mail that seemed to anticipate events. It listed 16 violent acts, from the assassination of Bobby Kennedy in 1968, through both bombings of the World Trade Centre, to the bombing at the Boston Marathon last year. All committed by Muslim males.

I suspect that e-mail had circulated on the Internet for some time, because it didn’t include the ritual beheadings in Iraq.

The unidentified writer — like the assassins in the desert, such persons prefer to hide behind the balaclava of anonymity – thought his litany justified racial profiling. To solve the problem; go after young male Muslims.
Statistics can be so easily distorted to suit one’s own prejudices.

One could equally argue that 80 per cent of all U.S. murders, about 12,000 a year, are committed by Christians. That 100 per cent of institutional torture in the U.S. was done by federal employees. That most U.S. neonaticides – killing or abandoning babies during their first 24 hours after birth – come from mothers under the age of 25.

Would those statistics justify surveillance of all Christians? Monitoring all federal employees? Banning pregnancies in women under 25?

The writer of the anti-Muslim e-mail also chose not to mention 190 incidents of violence during the 1990s by right-wing militias like Timothy McVeigh’s. Or that lynch mobs such as the Ku Klux Klan were 100 per cent non-Muslim.

Because that wouldn’t suit his biases.

Essentially, the e-mail invited security services to treat young Muslim males the way many U.S. police forces have treated young black males. And we know how well that has worked to reduce tensions. Even President Obama has told of experiencing harassment simply because he was black and male.

I am very much afraid that anti-Muslim sentiments will flourish in the aftermath of last week’s attacks. Both men were described as recent converts to Islam, and therefore suspect. I think Crawford Killian described them more accurately, in The Tyee, as “nutcases, choosing Islam as a flag of convenience for their internal demons…alienated for whatever reason from their society, with no more political significance than the thugs who shoot each other for control of the B.C. drug trade.”

Indeed, these deaths appear to be just as targeted as gangland killings. The St-Jean-sur-Richelieu driver waited two hours for his victims to come out. The Ottawa gunman picked a reservist at a symbolic site, the War Memorial.

Perhaps there’s a reason soldiers were picked. As international journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote, “If you want to be a country that spends more than a decade proclaiming itself at war and bringing violence to others, then you should expect that violence will sometimes be directed at you as well.”

I’m afraid Stephen Harper will toughen his proposed anti-terrorist legislation to permit, even encourage, intelligence forces to set up databases and sting operations to trap “radicalized” Muslims. Police will start shooting Muslims on sight, as they have young blacks. CSIS agents will lurk in grocery stores to observe who buys Halal foods – an actual suggestion from a “radicalization” conference a few years ago.

And we, the citizens of Canada, will find ourselves giving up more and more of our rights and freedoms – of speech, of religion, of movement – as we chase the U.S. into the Homeland Security quagmire.

As Green party leader Elizabeth May wrote, while still locked-down in the parliament buildings, “We must ensure that this appalling act of violence is not used to justify a disproportionate response. … These kinds of events open the door to a loss of democracy. … Once we surrender rights it is very difficult to restore them.”
Copyright © 2014 by Jim Taylor. Non-profit use in congregations and study groups encouraged; links from other blogs welcomed; all other rights reserved.
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Reflections on a violent day in Ottawa

 The following post was created by Matthew Behrens, a freelance writer and social justice advocate who co-ordinates the Homes not Bombs non-violent direct action network. He has worked closely with the targets of Canadian and U.S. ‘national security’ profiling for many years.

Photo: Ashwin Kumar/flickr

I often find it hard to feel empathy for Prime Minister Stephen Harper. But when I saw the grim picture of him talking on the phone following the end of his confinement in the locked down House of Commons yesterday, I sensed in him a vulnerability he rarely exhibits. Harper, like his fellow MPs, Parliamentary staff, media, visitors and children in the downstairs daycare, had likely hunkered down behind locked doors, no doubt traumatized by uncertainty when an armed gunman entered the building. Because no one knew who the gunman was after, all were potential targets. For half a day, everyone on lockdown no doubt felt the fear, despair, sadness and fragile sense of mortality that people in Iraq and Syria have experienced daily for decades, an extra punch of which they will soon receive at the hands of Canadian CF-18 bombers.

It’s the kind of trauma not to be wished upon anyone, and I hope all affected will get the kind of counselling and therapeutic support necessary to deal with what may emerge as multiple cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), otherwise known as the condition that you get denied proper treatment for when you are a returning Canadian military veteran.


The full column concludes with these words:

By day’s end, Harper addressed the nation, his discourse unchanged from the bellicose rumblings of last week as he rammed through a Parliamentary vote to bomb Iraq and Syria: “Canada will never be intimidated…redouble our efforts…savagery…no safe haven…”

After a long day focused on these gripping events in the nation’s capital, I have to wonder if this direct experience of fear and trauma will force us to examine our own addiction to violence as the solution to conflict. Yesterday provides us with an opportunity to reflect on our insidious contribution to the climate of hate, and the chance to disengage from our increasingly militarized culture.


It can be accessed at:

Water for people in Detroit

Emma Lui tells her story of bringing water to people in Detroit

NaEmma Lui and Maude Barlowtional Water Campaigner Emma Lui joined Maude Barlow and members of the Windsor chapter of the Council of Canadians to bring 1,000 litres of water – in an act of solidarity – across the Canada-U.S. border into Detroit where thousands of people have had their water shut off. The Council’s Blue Planet Project has been working with several U.S.-based groups to draw international attention to the ongoing violations to the human right to water that are happening in the city.

Read Emma’s story about the water convoy. It is a story that will warm your heart.