#178 – #RealChange Goes to War

Remember the Harper years? To ask the average caker the Harper years were an eon of unbridled terror visited on the Canadian people. Images of Nineteen-Eighty Four bounce about the caker’s crippled braincage; they can practically see the 50-foot tall posters bearing Harper’s ugly mug and the words “Big Harper is Watching You” in their mind’s eye as secret police break kneecaps in the street. The reason I’m pissed with this revisionistic bullshit is that there’s plenty of actual real bullshit that Harper actually did. Don’t need to make shit up, guys – we’ve already got plenty of ammo.

One of these shitty activities that Harper actually did was to instigate a long-running fight against veterans culminating in a shameful fight against paying injured troopers a lifelong pension for their troubles. This was called the New Veterans Charter, a hellish proposal that would see 30 to 90% of a wounded trooper’s entitlements lost because reasons. Veterans’ Affairs devolved into an insurance-agency mentality, denying coverage on spurrious grounds. The Tories went so far as to argue that they have no social obligation to help wounded troops, a position which baffles me given that the MPs and lawyers who make these claims live in a country where at least the concept of disability pay exists to repudiate them.

Obviously the troops fought back and won at least some sort of detente in the BC Supreme Court back in June of 2015. The lawsuit looming over the government was to wait until after the election. And when #RealChange promised to reinstate the old pension-for-injury system it sounded like the end of a shitty era in the field of Veterans’ Affairs. Troops who felt like the government no longer had their backs had, at least in theory, reason to hope that the election would present a chance for, you know, real change to a shitty system. Amateur Kent Hehr took over the file from Julian Fantino and proceeded to restart Canada’s relationship with its employees.

Oh wait. He did the exact opposite of that.

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(s) Turns out that the real change was the color of the Minister’s tie

Remember that detente we talked about earlier? Yeah, that’s not happening because the Liberals are throwing more bad money after good in a legal case that defies not only their stated goals but also a motion passed unanimously by Parliament which expressly deflates the government’s talking point. This can’t be good for the military’s chronic morale and suicide problem; shockingly merely shouting the word reform into a vapid CBC reporter doesn’t make traumatized people feel any better. Who knew?

The issue obviously wasn’t important enough to be implemented in Morneau’s budget and now apparently is worth fighting in court to prevent. I remind you that Parliament previously declared that it absolutely has an obligation to vets and that #RealChange himself expressly promised action on the file. It also just wasn’t worth trying to peel back the mountains of paperwork incumbent to the aforementioned insurance-agency mentality that apparently still permeates the Ministry. Don Sorochan, the lawyer for the vets, was wise enough to demand that the Liberals put their promises in writing because it’s clear to anyone that their word meant nothing.

So what was worth Justin’s time besides actually making the system work? Why, posing of course! Posing for the Invictus Games, a Olympic-like thing that in no way does anything related to helping wounded vets deal with paperwork and get what they’re actually owed by the government. Obviously Justin’s push-ups at the event is the same thing as doing what he promised! His imaginary mic drop was perfect meme material but sadly does nothing to stop the lawsuit that Justin’s Minister just restarted.

Actually, it’s kind of a solid metaphor for the guy. He’s barely capable of playing make-believe and pretending to resolve problems, far less actually doing the things he promised. But here he is gearning at a photo op so it’s all good you guys!

 

 

 

#172 – Prime Memeister, Part Three: Seeking AdVICE

Question: when visiting a storied reservation whose tragic tale should rightly inspire indignation and disgust towards Ottawa in any right-thinking person, how many news organizations should be there? I can think of a few candidates. There’s APTN, the Aboriginal Peoples’ Television Network. It’s a go-to for my own research and thinking because they tend to cover stories that the CBC and Postmedia juuuuuust didn’t around to because destroying historical artifacts is obviously less newsworthy than the daily slather of revisionism and feels. The CBC as a national broadcaster would probably be a good choice, seeing as how the miserable plight of the Indigenous is a national issue.

No, of course not. Those reasonable options should go fuck themselves because this story, a potentially-important moment, is not here to inform Canadians. It is here for memes and photo-ops. And if it’s the Prime Memeister we’re talking about, there’s no “news” site more meme-tastic than VICE. For the unaware, VICE is a cripplingly-stupid and exploitative “progressive” news source which alternates between talking about totally-wild-kinky-weird-sex (which is in fact rather tame), talking about marijuana and how much/little fun recreational drug use is, and generally being sensationalist little schmucks. It’s as transparently constructed-cool as MUCH was, except that MUCH never pretended that it had anything clever to say. It certainly didn’t run hard-hitting pieces about blowing a load through the night.

APTN also isn’t guilty of running click-bait bullshit whose titles are written with a smitten eye to “the youths”. But they got kicked out alongside any other of those square media outlets run by The Man. Fears of a media circus are rather hyperbolic considering that there isn’t any road access to Shoal Lake. But that’s hardly explaining why a profit-hungry media company playing at edginess got access to the story over an Indigenous-run news organization or the fucking CBC. When others are barred from entry it suggests that Indigenous suffering is only worth talking about if it makes one shithead caker rich and another shithead caker look good. In other words, the Indigenous are being used as props. Again.

Why is it that the suffering of Shoal Lake can only be experienced through the lens of a sadsack collective of Hunter S. Thompson wannabes? Do you think Hunter, the master of Gonzo journalism himself would be an appropriate choice to cover Indigenous issues in the first place? I will concede that VICE sometimes does have useful stories and even more rarely can run good television. But the image that VICE projects and the image that’s used to sell shitty labor conditions to journalists is utterly inappropriate for the issue at hand unless the goal is to render the thing so edgy as to be meaningless. At the very least it should not be the only voice present…but exclusivity is what they, and by extension we got.

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(s) Next up, Marilyn Manson’s in-depth investigation of Newfoundland’s poverty

We leave the world of edgy brand management and marketing real, raw journalism now to comment on something more than a little bit insidious lurking in the wings. Go back to the link I posted under the words ‘kicked out’ in the third paragraph – do you notice all those Mounties hanging out there? This wasn’t merely a closed event. Access to the Prime Memeister and the community as a whole was completely cut by the RCMP even as Justin was out on what is undoubtedly national business. This wasn’t a top-secret meeting at the Pentagon. This was a trip specifically with a stated mind to uncovering and understanding problems on reserves and it didn’t allow the kind of media that people who aren’t attracted to milennial edge a chance to report another angle. Closing the trip down tells me that there’s something to hide; using the RCMP to do it is even fishier; giving exclusive access to an entertainment company over relevant broadcasters is profoundly dodgy.

We have plenty of aww-worthy pictures of #RealChange playing with children, hugging and smiling people – the usual tripe. But the story of Shoal Lake itself, the one that VICE got? Totally sublimated by talking points. There might have been some darkness to the trip, some evidence of frustration and resentment or even condemnation of the Liberal Party itself. But we’ll never know because the only people allowed to report gave fawning praise for Justin and the others were shut out by police action and a flimsy excuse.

VICE and the PMO are made for each other. Both are pale facsimiles of the institutions they are supposed to represent, leaning on marketing and branding to mask shitty ideas and shitty conditions. Both are under the thumb of egoistic maniacs. And neither should be able to consider the stunt they pulled at Shoal Lake anything more than a photo shoot.

 

#163 – Prime Memeister, Part Two: Dear Leader Visits Much Science Center for Make Good

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(s) The equation is a desperate try to prove that Canada doesn’t mathematically exist.

Dear Lead-I mean #RealChange took to his usual gloating form in Waterloo, being fawned over like a North Korean dictator after providing an explanation for quantum mechanics that I could do after reading a relevant piece in Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader. There are so many shitty angles to take this – as a random example, there is the obvious fact that rote memory skills aren’t the same as intelligence even if the words memorized seem big and scary. But because this is a Prime Memeister piece we’re going to look at this scene in its entirety. And therein we discover something deeply alarming – the media working with the Prime Minister for the sake of dropping some dank new memes. This is, of course, exactly what Kim Jong-Un does to take heat off of his brutal regime and to demonstrate “progress”.

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(s) “Oh, please ask me what I put down as my Facebook status!”

Let’s take a look at the transcript, shall we? I actually went right to YouTube and wrote this down – the mush-mouth flaps his gums to this tune at 13:46 on the YouTube link provided. If you’d rather not feel an unterminating desire to punch your monitor I’ll give you the skinny:

You don’t have to be a geek like me to appreciate how important this work is. Although I have to tell you, when we get to the media questions later I’m really hoping people ask me how quantum computing works because I was excited to deepen my knowledge of that this morning.

And golly, what a punchable paragraph that is. If that paragraph were a person it would be making macaroni art at daycare and asking for icey-creams after dinner in an annoying voice. Just look at it! “Tee hee, I’m such a geek how novel and unique” is exactly the kind of thing a marketing department tells someone to say. It’s very clear that he’s basically asking the media to ask him what he learned today, which is totally not something an 8-year old does.

And the media obliged, putting the ball on the tee and lining Justin and his wiffle-brain up so they could get a picture of the big boy taking a swing at the ball. The Toronto Star delivers a spectacularly fawning piece that speaks to “astonished” physicists and scholars. Hey, that’s what Kim Jong Un apparently did! And everyone knows how reliable and steady North Korea’s media is. Here’s the National Post, a meanie-poopieheaded right-wing Harper-loving buttfaced news institution calling Trudeau out. But they Literally Harper you guys so don’t listen to them.

Time to change gears. Right now a Canadian is being held hostage in the Philippines. A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian, #RealChange – where’s the talk about helping this guy out? Not even a peep from #RealChange, but that’s okay he’s cute and he can stand in front of a chalkboard and call himself a nerd. Tee hee! The Liberals also lied to us about the Saudi arms deal by claiming that it was a “done deal” despite $11B in approvals having been signed by Stephane Dion. Lying about sending death machines to a hellish, brutal regime governed by subhuman filth? Never mind that Trudeau lied to us when he said that we’re exporting “jeeps” and that we’re actually sending better equipment than the stuff Canada uses to people even less interested in the preservation of life and liberty than Canada – memes and hashtags hooray!

The wanton blindness of the Canadian media to obvious failures in the Trudeau regime is one thing, but it’s even worse that they’re willing to play wiffle-ball with Justin in exchange for producing dank memes and clicks on webpages. Justin has long and righly been accused of being an intellectual lightweight; his ability to recite fewer lines than I did when I was assigned the role of Polonius for an English assignment in high school proves nothing and wouldn’t be touted as such if it wasn’t about a topic that can easily go over the average Canadian’s head. The whole thing is a combination of the clickbait tactics used by shitty groups like “I Fucking Love Science” and a Canadian public too stupid to read into this nonsense and see it for the fluff that it is.

 

 

 

#159 – Beckta Luck Next Time

The restaurant called Beckta is one of Ottawa’s higher-end restaurants. With a $68 three-course meal offering and a wallet-slaying wine list, I have no doubt that Beckta offers a dinner to remember. Or at least they do until Canadian food prices leave them offering Goat a’la Parking Lot, but that’s beside the point. Why am I talking about the kind of restaurant I clearly don’t get invited to?

It’s because of an event on Tuesday night. It was an emergency discussion about youth suicides on reserves. The issue is a particularly nasty one in a distant community called Attawapiskat, where police had to break up a suicide pact that included a 9-year old. Shootings are becoming a growing concern on reserves and 1/20th of Attawapiskat has opted to try to kill itself in less than a year. It was Attawapiskat, which falls into the riding of a rare MP with a soul that forced the government to hold an emergency debate on the issue.

And an emergency it is. Nine-year olds should be worried about things like whether or not the other gender gave them cooties, getting one of the good computers in the tech lab, the shifting alliances of childhood friendship, and what’s in their lunch pail. They should not have a suicide pact hanging over their heads. Angus was right to pull the alarm. The Liberals, knowing that refusing would be politically suicidal got a whole third of their party’s MPs to deign to pay attention for the debate.

Some of Canada’s most significant figures on an intergovernmental Indigenous health crisis involving youth were there. The Minister for Indigenous Affairs Carolyn Bennett, the Health Minister Jane Philpott, and the Youth and Intergovernmental Affairs Mi…wait. Where did that one go? That’s funny – you’d think a Youth Minister would want to get involved on this one. He must have had something very important to do to-

Oh, there he is. He was at a function with Bill Graham, a Chretianite fossil (incidentally, Jean Cretin also got himself in hot water over this issue) who is launching a book. The book, which is no doubt substantially less relevant to Indigenous suicide than the debate on Parliament Hill, was obviously more important. Our Prime Minister/Youth Minister, acting like neither/nor while hiding in opulent splendor, decided that hobnobbing with Gerald Butts, the guy who thinks being a secretary means farting 140 characters into digital air when someone rightly calls him and his policies out for being stupid was clearly the better use of time.

For a Prime Minister to not attend a debate is one thing. If Justin were in Washington negotiating something or otherwise away, I wouldn’t be writing this. But #RealChange was actually less than 1km away and he also styles himself the Minister for Youth and Intergovernmental Affairs, both of which happen to be fairly important points for a conversation about youth suicide in a distinct jurisdiction. And he claims that Indigenous affairs are a crucial part of his platform and “ideology” (I won’t disgrace the word by stacking it next to #RealChange).

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A walk too far after a ritzy wine-and-dine. I’m sure the Indigenous understand the struggle.

But not as important as high-flying Party functions and fancy dinners that could well cost less than what’s on offer in the North of the country. Interestingly enough, kids that eat shit food are more wan to commit suicide. But governing is hard and Canada is amazing so ahh it’s okay the party for the Party a click down the road is more important.

Beckta luck next time, poor hungry Indigenous kids. One day maybe you too can be noticed and cuddled by the Prime Minister like the Syrian kids were during those insufferable photo shoots. I suggest working on your selfie poses, because clearly that’s the only way to reach this rockheaded tool of a Prime Memeister.

#54 – The Quadriptych of Death, Part Three: On Suicide

I first encountered the great French sociologist Émile Durkheim in my second year of undergrad. I was immediately gripped by his explanation of industrial society and the sense of loneliness it creates in man. But it is another of Durkheim’s intellectual triumphs, the categorization of types of suicidal impulse that we’re going to be working with today. The reason for this is simple: comparison of suicide rates across countries, as my research has found, is practically impossible. Indeed, it’s one of those meaningless numbers that this series is supposed to be combatting. So instead of trying to compare Canada’s dispositions to end it all, let’s instead try to look into why Canadians and which Canadians tend to off themselves. The data on this one is…yeah, you probably already know the drill.

In terms of where Canadians commit suicide, we need only look North. Nunavut is the capital of suicide in Canada, with the issue getting to a point that in 2007 40% of coroner investigations in the territory pointed to suicide as a cause of death. The issue is so extreme that even Pravda has felt the need to call for a state of emergency over the matter. It’s not like Nunavut has a bevy of coroners; bearing witness to children as young as 13 deciding that life isn’t worth living can’t be good for the mental health of the coroner. And it’s not like people have stopped trying since 2007 – attempts are up as recently as 2016, with the victims largely being under 30 years old.

While Nunavut is the worst of the worst (literally) there are other instances of high rates of suicide that we can look at. There is of course the legendary Attawapiskat, where a state of emergency was declared after waves of attempted suicide cases would swamp local medical infrastructure. Prince Selfie, in one of his most egregious acts of inhumanity to date, promised help and has yet to deliver a timetable for the deployment of that help. This co-opting of Indigenous issues for political profit was probably the greatest collective national gaslighting to ever transpire. This place is literally crazy-making, and cakers have been in the business for decades now.

Back to Durkheim now. Émile found that he could explain the rationale behind suicide attempts with one of four schema. The first is egoistic suicide, which stems from a lack of sense of community. Without the social ties that keep us grounded, we develop a depression and a sense of hopelessness that eventually claims us. The second is altruistic suicide, where the suicide is the result of being so overwhelmed by social demands that we kill ourselves in the name of the greater social good. Think martyrdom in the Christian sense and you’ve got the right idea. The third is anomic suicide, which I think the Wikipedia article does a better job explaining that I can.

“It is the product of moral deregulation and a lack of definition of legitimate aspirations through a restraining social ethic, which could impose meaning and order on the individual conscience. This is symptomatic of a failure of economic development and division of labour…People do not know where they fit in within their societies. Durkheim explains that this is a state of moral disorder where people do not know the limits on their desires and are constantly in a state of disappointment.”

Thanks, Wikibro.

Finally, we come to fatalistic suicide, where life is so restrictive and brutal that death is a better option. Prison camps, oppressive dictatorships, slave labor – that’s the kind of “restrictive” we’re on about here.

Looking at these and evaluating the economic and social condition of areas known for high suicide rates in Canada, we can argue a strong case for the very real consequences of the feelings of detachment, disappointment, economic failure, and stagnation that Canada pretends to do anything about before going back to staring at socks and being smug about bullshit.

I’d be lying if I said living in Canada hasn’t gotten me down some bad paths in my life. If you’re struggling here too, know that you aren’t alone. Work on making yourself the best you can be and make an escape plan. You don’t have to stay here. You deserve better.

(S) Pictured: a place you could be in that is not Canada