Archive for the ‘society’ Tag

2018 as a movie   Leave a comment

Yes, it is that time of year when observers of many aspects of life create their personal list of the “Ten Best …..”, etc..

In 2018 I had the privilege of watching quite a few movies, but only one was unique in the manner in which it affected my emotions AND my thinking. It is a film that I would recommend to anyone who is interested in current events, ethics, and theology – or any one of those.

This film has been reviewed in The Tyee by Dorothy Woodend.

Two of the paragraphs of Woodend’s review are:

The temptation to look for an overarching idea or umbrella under which an entire year of films can be collected is something of a fool’s errand. But I am just that fool, and if there was one film that summed up the current moral moment, it was Paul Schrader’s First Reformed.

Schrader, to put it mildly, is an uneven filmmaker. Raised as a strict Calvinist he came late to movies, but went on to pen Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and The Last Temptation of Christ, and directed American Gigolo. Sure, he has also made a number of horrendous films, but the man has something to say, and his latest, First Reformed, charges full force at religion, corporate malfeasance, environmental collapse and the agonized search for meaning. And I do mean agonized. This isn’t the most fun thing to watch over the holidays, but it is riveting in ways that I did not expect. Made with rigour and purpose, it is also possessed of a seriousness and mystery that’s rare in contemporary cinema.

The whole, excellent review can be accessed at:

https://thetyee.ca/Culture/2018/12/12/Year-In-Film-First-Reformed/?utm_source=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=121218

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Harry Leslie Smith – adieu   Leave a comment

Smith’s writing drew parallels between his own brushes with global crises of the past, and the current turmoil that affects marginalized groups. (Toronto Star – Submitted by the Smith family)

Harry Leslie Smith became a hero of the Millennial Generation in Canada and the United Kingdom because the youth of these nations recognize that neoliberal economics is simply a way to re-institute the feudal economic and social system of the past – a past that Harry describes in his book, “Harry’s Last Stand: How the world my generation built is falling down and what we can do about it”. This book contains many teachings about the exploitation of workers in the past, and what, collectively, working and middle class people did to improve life for all people.

Harry was interviewed by the CBC a year before his death, and that conversation can be found at: Senior podcaster Harry Leslie Smith says he’ll ‘drop dead’ before he stops fighting for equality

A short reprise of Harry’s life can be accessed at:

https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2018/11/24/refugee-advocate-worlds-oldest-rebel-harry-leslie-smith-passes-away-in-belleville-family-says.html

In the concluding paragraph of  “Harry’s Last Stand”, Harry wrote:

“While I am here I will keep doing all I can to fight against inequality and make my little patch of the earth a better place. Right now, however, it is very late, and I am very old, so I shall bid you goodnight, and a better tomorrow.”

The baton has now been passed to us. God bless you Harry!

Acting on Climate Change   Leave a comment

The release of the most recent report by the IPCC (October 6, 2018) has motivated me to abandon my passivity and write a letter to the Premier of Ontario concerning the price of carbon emissions in Ontario. I hope that, for the sake of our common environment, and life on Earth as we have known it, many others will also be taking similar actions.

If we believe in democracy, we have to believe that the political class will hear what we have to say.

 

My letter of October 22, 2018 is as follows:

October 22, 2018

Dear Premier Ford;

What will a 1.5 degree Celsius rise in global temperature mean for the “the people” of Ontario?

On October 6, 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) spelled it out in plain, damning details. The question now is: who listened?

Will the leadership in our Province of Ontario pay attention to these urgent warnings and start facilitating and implementing solutions at the pace required to forestall climate disaster? How do you suggest that we respond when our children, and grandchildren, ask us in 20 years time about what we did to prevent the type of climate catastrophes that were predicted in 2009 when James Hansen published, “Storms Of My Grandchildren”?

A week after the publication of the IPCC report, the Globe and Mail, a conservative voice in Canada, editorialized on this issue. The conservative Globe and Mail advocates a policy of taking immediate and effective action to deal with the rise in the temperature of our Earth’s atmosphere. As their editorial states; “every bit of warming hurts”.

The policy advocated by the Globe and Mail is also a policy that has been thoroughly researched by the person who was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics, William Nordhaus. As the Globe editorial states; “Mr. Nordhaus is not some lefty. His work shows that a carbon tax is the most efficient way to lower emissions, because it depends on market forces rather than on direct regulation.”

In the 2018 election campaign I heard that a Ford government would promote “efficiency”. A carbon tax, Mr. Nordhaus says, is “efficient”.

As you know, the Province of British Columbia has demonstrated that a carbon tax has been good for its economy, AND good for the environment. They have ten years of experience in this. You might ask their Premier if you wish to have additional information on how the economy of British Columbia has actually grown with a carbon tax in place.

The editorial to which I have been referring concludes with a call to action:

the UN and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences have shown that fighting climate (change) is the world’s most important collective endeavour, and that carbon taxes are the best way to join that fight. Canada must do its bit.”

We are part of a global village Mr. Ford.

  • The science says we must act now.

  • We have a means of acting effectively.

  • British Columbia has shown that it can be done.

Let’s have a meaningful carbon tax here in Ontario as soon as possible. We can do our part.

Yours truly;

Allan Baker

Cc Rod Phillips, Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks

Cc Andrea Horwath, NDP Leader

Cc Mike Schreiner, Green Party Leader

Cc Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

 

 

The Human Planet: How We Created the Anthropocene   Leave a comment

There is a review by Crawford Kilian of a newly published book about The Anthropocene. The review was published on October 12 Oct 2018 in TheTyee.ca

The book is called: The Human Planet: How We Created the Anthropocene by Simon Lewis and Mark A. Maslin, Pelican (2018)

Crawford Kilian begins his review with these words:

“Given the grim prospects offered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its recent Special Report, this book might offer a way out. But it won’t be an easy way, and it won’t be the status quo.”

Is “progress” a trap for humanity? The whole review is accessible at:

https://thetyee.ca/Culture/2018/10/12/Humanity-Progress-Trap/?utm_source=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=121018

Farm-BW-Illustration.jpgWas farming one of humanity’s biggest mistakes? This and other big questions explored in ‘The Human Planet.’ Photo illustration from Magasin Pittoresque, 1857 (Shutterstock).

We are the salmon   Leave a comment

Salmon and the circle of life

By Jim Taylor – September 26, 2018

The conference hall was packed full. Five hundred people leaned forward to watch as an elder from a First Nations community along the B.C. coast moved down the aisle towards the microphones on stage. His red-and-black blanket cloak swished as he walked; the mother-of-pearl buttons adorning it flashed back at the spotlights following him.

            This happened long before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called for better relationships with Canada’s indigenous peoples. But the church, my church, was making its first tentative moves towards that goal.

            The old man – he may not actually have been old, but he was older than I was, and he had a deeply weathered face – climbed the stairs onto the stage. He took the microphone from its stand. He held it to his mouth.

            We waited, breathlessly, for his words of wisdom.

            “We are the salmon,” he said.

            Then he put the microphone back, and left the stage.

 DSC01012           Well, that may not have been exactly how it happened. But that’s how I remember it. Because anything else, after that opening statement, was padding.

            “We are the salmon” said it all.

            The annual salmon run up B.C. rivers defined the circle of his people’s lives. The food that fed them. The culture that sustained them. The myths and legends that shaped them.

            They and the salmon were one body, indivisible.

All are one

            We who live in an industrial cocoon are slowly learning that truth. Life has no individual components. You can’t treat the salmon, the forest, or bears and wolves, in isolation. They are one integrated whole.

            Botanists wondered why the spruce and firs along spawning rivers grew taller, stronger, than forests a mere hundred metres further back. They found it’s because of the salmon. Bears catch the salmon, drag their catch back into the woods, leave the remains under the trees.

            The rotting fish fertilize the trees. The forest, in turn, controls water flow into the stream. Provide shade to control the stream temperature. Shelter the bears who catch the salmon.

            It is a single interlocking circle of life, and death, and new life.

            This year is supposed to be a dominant sockeye run for the Adams River, possibly the finest display of spawning salmon in the entire province. At its peak, 10 million deep red salmon look like a solid mass filling the river’s pools.

            But only about two out of every 100 fertilized eggs will survive a winter in the river gravels, a year in fresh water, the long migration down to the ocean, two years roaming wild in the Pacific, and then 500 kilometres back up the rushing Fraser, Thompson, and Adams river to spawn and start the cycle again.

            The river flow, the forests along the river banks, the sediment runoff, even the smells in the water that the salmon follow to their home ground – all can be affected by as little as a slight change in temperature.

            Tinkering with one variable in the great equation of life affects the total outcome.

            Including the lives of the People of the Salmon.

            It took me more than 500 words to express that concept. It took the elder in his buttoned blanket only four.

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Copyright © 2018 by Jim Taylor. Non-profit use in congregations and study groups, and links from other blogs, welcomed; all other rights reserved.

                  To comment on this column, write jimt@quixotic.ca

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Posted September 26, 2018 by allanbaker in Canadian society, econotheism, Environment

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One Face of resistance in Ontario   Leave a comment

Sally McLean was arrested after she refused to leave the Ontario legislature’s public gallery in an act of protest. This courageous 73 year-old woman explains why she thinks she is obligated to stand up for democracy, and against injustice.

https://ucobserver.org/society/2018/09/sally_mclean_queens_park_arrest/

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Take Responsibility

 

Posted September 21, 2018 by allanbaker in Canadian society, Politics

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I’ve (finally) finished reading the book; Could It Happen Here? Canada in the Age of Trump and BREXIT by Michael Adams. I enjoyed it, and I learned about some of the differences between Canada and the U.S.A. from reading the statistics and the commentary within it.

The title raises an interesting question, that I heard Michael Adams address in an interview with Daniel Dale of the Toronto Star. “What do you mean by “It?”. In the book, Adams doesn’t directly answer the question, but there is plenty of evidence that he believes the answer is “NO!”.

I say that because Adams writes about Kellie Leitch at both the beginning and the conclusion to this book. In the concluding chapter he wrote:

“Throughout the Conservative leadership campaign, polls consistently showed support for Kelly Leitch’s notion of a Canadian values test, a signal that there are political dividends to harvest by appealing to the more fearful angels of our nature. That she was also ridiculed and ultimately unsuccessful revealed something about the location of the boundaries of acceptable political discourse in Canada and offers a precise answer to the question of whether “it” could happen here.”[1]

HOWEVER;

During the second of three leaders debates during the Ontario 2018 election campaign, the three political party leaders ( Liberal, NDP and Progressive Conservative ) were asked whether they would support a program to bring new immigrants to northern Ontario to fill job vacancies. Doug Ford, now Premier of Ontario, responded:

“I’d be more than happy to sit down and talk to the folks and look at a pilot project. But number one, I’m a pretty generous guy — I’m taking care of our own first. Once we take care of our own, once we exhaust every single avenue and don’t have anyone that can fill a job, then I’d be open to that.[2]”

Since his election, Premier Ford has withdrawn financial support for asylum seekers who come to Ontario.[3]

All through the book Adams compares and contrasts the U.S.A. and Canada as societies. His analysis of socio-economic data; polling, and academic papers provides plenty of detail on the similarities and differences of our two countries. One of the key differences between the neighbouring countries though lies in the responses to a simple question: “Must the father of the family be the master in his own house?[4]”

From 1992 to 2016 the “YES” responses in the U.S.A. have gone from 42 per cent of those polled to 50 per cent. The figure is 69 per cent in the “deep south”, and lowest in New England (42%). In Canada during the same time period the “YES” response has declined from 25 per cent to 23 per cent (reaching a low of 18% in the year 2000). In Canada the highest is 26 per cent in Alberta and the lowest is 19 per cent in Atlantic Canada.

Another important difference is in response to a question about the style of decision making that politicians have. 54 per cent of Americans like elected officials who “stick to their positions”, while only 38 per cent of Canadians do. Similarly, 58 per cent of Canadians like elected officials who “make compromises with people they disagree with”, versus 40 per cent of Americans.[5]

Could “it” happen here? I think that “it” already has.

The new government in Ontario seems to be dedicated to the kind of “shock and awe” program that Naomi Klein described in her book, The Shock Doctrine”.[6]Someof their decisions in the first few days of being “in power” are outlined below:

President Trump                                            Premier Ford

Environment

Withdrew from the Paris                          Withdrew from the “Cap

Paris Accord                                              and Trade” program with

                                                                      California and Quebec

                                                                      Cancelled 758 “green” energy

                                                                      Projects

Mandate

Drain the swamp                                     Clean up the “mess”

Immigration

Build the wall                                          Ceased support for asylum

Send migrants home                             seekers – “a federal matter”

Social conservativism

Withdrew from United Nations          Cancelled new sex ed curric.

progr. on breast feeding                        Not at 2018 Pride parade

Role of science[7]

Office of the President’s                         Fired Chief Scientist in ON

Science Advisor is still vacant

Of course, there’s populism and other topics that could be dealt with in this note, and both Ford and Trump have an ego that needs to be massaged.

Could it happen here?

I think that “It” has already happened here in Ontario.

[1]Could It Happen Here, page 152

[2]https://tvo.org/article/current-affairs/doug-fords-odd-take-on-immigration-in-the-north

[3]https://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/2018/07/16/ottawa-says-it-will-support-toronto-with-asylum-seekers-notwithstanding-snub-by-doug-ford.html

[4]Could It Happen Here, page 146

[5]Could It Happen Here, page 151.

[6]Naomi Klein has continued her analysis in a new book, “The Battle for Paradise”; a story of what happened after Hurricanes Irma and Maria passed through Puerto Rico.

[7]Just like in the days of the “Harper Government” in Ottawa, who needs unbiased, scientific evidence when we have ideology, eh?