What’s it worth to you?

I am reallyreally angry that I’m having to write this. Really.

As of this afternoon I am officially on ‘staycation’- some time off work that was booked ages ago, before the Canadian dollar started its slide downdowndown and made us re-think a US holiday, at this time. Even though I’ll be taking some work home with me, it’s the first more-than-an-extra-long weekend I’ve had off since last years’ trip to the UK (which included my meet-up with the incomparable Anne-Marie, who lovingly and poetically remembered our pub night last week).

I’m okay with the ‘stay’ part. Especially since at 3:37 this afternoon my home team began its ‘Hunt for Blue October’ (whatever ad company came up with that little gem deserves a round of applause) and 3rd run at becoming World Series Champs. Some might think I’m jumping the gun, since they still have to win the AL, but if the atmosphere in this town has any effect on the Boys in Blue then they’re going all the way. All. The. Way.

It’s electric around here. You can feel it in the streets. And, apparently all across the country, as even those who purport to hate Toronto (obviously people who have never spent any time here. Obviously.) rally behind our one Canadian Major League ball team.

It was a rough and scary Game 1- Josh Donaldson (soon to be known as ‘MVP Josh Donaldson’) got knocked in the noggin on his way into second, and Joey B- after a lovely home run- left the game with a strained hamstring- but we will rally and come back in full force tomorrow (Josh WILL be medically cleared and good to go- keeping the faith).

Baseball angst notwithstanding, here I was, looking forward to a bit of a break from dealing with the day-to-day, serious stuff, while watching my Jays and getting some things done ’round the house and ’round the town. It’s Thanksgiving weekend, so there will be time with family, and one of my favourite musical dudes is paying us a visit on Sunday night at Lee’s (unfortunately conflicting with a Jays game, but I’ll miss that one to hang with Jesse – interesting that I first wrote about him in the context of some concerns I had with the federal bureaucracy), some spa time, a little wandering around and enjoying the change of the season (and storing up memories of relative warmth before the horrors of winter set in. I don’t like the cold, have I mentioned that before?).

I talked a bit about our federal election last week – and emphasized the importance of everyone getting out there to cast a vote. Preferably a vote against our incumbent government and its leader. I thought I was done with yelling about the dangers of maintaining this particular status quo.

Yeah no. Evidently not.

In the realm of dirty politics- a place that is a second home to our current PM- he is hitting new and ever-more egregious lows. I’m not being rhetorical or alarmist when I use that word- or any of its synonyms. Words like shocking, appalling, abhorrent, terrible… All of the above are applicable.

His always-borderline misogyny, racism and xenophobia has crossed the border. He is vocally demonstrating that he lives in the heartland of overt racism and elitism, now. He can’t even see the border any more. And I say that as someone who is pretty ‘old stock’ (4th generation Torontonian, on Dad‘s side).

I’m not even talking about C-51, or his unwillingness to investigate the disappearances and deaths of scores of indigenous women in this country (and I certainly won’t mention the former Tory MP who said that they had it coming), or his inexplicable hesitancy reevaluate his policies about refugees – even in light of the humanitarian crisis that is happening in Europe (that is a whole other rant in itself- one that sits, temporarily languishing, in the drafts folder until I can achieve some level of relative coherence about it all).

With indicators that his ‘popularity’ is sliding (hard to measure the true popular vote in our outrageously out-dated ‘first past the post’ electoral process- THAT’S something that needs to be overhauled by our next government… but I digress), Harper is looking to reiterate and maximize his politics of division- especially in parts of Quebec, which, as we have seen, has its own issues with xenophobic and racist policies.

He is focusing his attentions on an issue that affects such a small proportion of the population that I’m amazed (and, frankly, dismayed) that it is being given any airtime at all. Yet, for some reason, his ongoing emphasis on wearing the niqab is dominating discussions and has escalated to the extent that he has declared that, if he is re-elected (avert!), choosing to do so would not be permissible for federal employees. Even though it has never been raised as an issue in the public service. Ever.

Didn’t work so well in Quebec, but hey, I’m the last person to suggest that he not shoot himself in the foot by alienating more members of the public. His proposed ‘rat on your neighbours‘ policy? THAT should go over well…

As Justin Trudeau said in the preamble to the Current, women are being attacked in this country for wearing the hijab and niqab. ‘This is not Canada,’ he said. You know I’ve had my issues with Mr. Trudeau, at times, but that point is indisputable.

Especially since women don’t have to be wearing an outward manifestation of their faith in order to come under attack, apparently. This reality became personal to me this week, as my dear friend, Farah, was subjected to an Islamophobic verbal attack in our city’s main downtown mall. In, irony of ironies, that most-quintessential of Canadian stores, Roots.

In addition to being a brilliant and caring friend, Farah is an inspirational social activist with an impressive history of using her powerful voice in support and effective aid of those who are, often, voiceless. She also has a pretty big Twitter following. That social media presence- active since her quest to have the Iranian government release her friends from illegal captivity – and her fearlessness, shine a light on the disturbing effects of Harper’s policies and rhetoric- including the ‘uptick in anti-Islam sentiment since the niqab became an election buzzword.’

Ya’ll know I love Stevie Stills. I write about him a fair bit. Back when he was with a band called Buffalo Springfield he penned a little ditty.

The title is taken from an idiomatic statement that is, generally, used to moderate an opinion that may differ from the opinion of its audience, and to emphasize humility while prompting the audience to provide their judgement of worth against the statement being made (my thanks to Wikiwords for helping to parse the phrase and its origins).

A whole lot of people- myself included, once upon a time- thought that the song was sourced in anti-war sentiments. It was certainly adopted by those who protested American involvement in Vietnam, and it became inextricably linked with the events at Kent State in 1970 (odd, since the song was written and recorded in 1966. I’d be the last to argue that Stephen isn’t prescient, but I don’t think he’s quite that good).

It was about civil disobedience in the face of prejudicial lobbying and ordinances against a portion of the population. Young people, who regularly gathered on the Sunset Strip (where Buffalo Springfield were the house band at the Whisky a Go Go) protested the actions of local residents and business groups who successfully worked to have curfew laws imposed, in what began as a series of peaceful rallies. As is too often the case, the unrest became violent as clashes between the protesters and police escalated.

It’s an assessment of a lack of social justice.

There’s something happening here
But what it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware

I think it’s time we stop
Children, what’s that sound?
Everybody look – what’s going down?

There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong
Young people speaking’ their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind

Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
Step out of line, the men come and take you away

Perhaps Stephen (Stills, not that other guy) is more prescient than I credited, earlier. His song transcends time and is as applicable now (sadly) as it was in 1966. Harper’s Conservatives are drawing battle lines, inciting paranoia and repeatedly telling us we need to beware. Of our fellow citizens.

None of that has a place in MY Canada.

So. In the midst of celebrating- Thanksgiving AND Blue Jay wins (I’ve got your backs, lads)- we need to take the time to stop, listen and look at what’s going down.

Rick Mercer came back from his summer holidays this week and, unsurprisingly, had a few things to say about this election campaign. The words of the immortal Sam Gamgee stand true, and, as Rick said, the main job we have, as Canadians, is to show up and vote for those good things we want to see enacted.

Which doesn’t include men coming to take us away if we step out of line. Especially since that line, as they draw it and cross it, is becoming increasingly un-Canadian, in the way in which I measure such things.

It certainly doesn’t include a PM whose leadership example encourages racist and xenophobic behaviours that destroy safe spaces for all Canadians. Instead, I will follow the example of one I’m privileged to call friend and use my voice to shout, without breaking for ‘vacation’ if necessary, in order to ensure that we preserve and enhance that which is good.

For what it’s worth.

19 comments on “What’s it worth to you?

  1. quiall says:

    Very well said! I am hopeful the election results will be positive. Oh, I do hope …

    • colemining says:

      Hope- with tempered action- is what we need to cling to right now. The lies and inflammatory language are out of control. Fingers crossed there are a whole lot of people who feel as we do. Strength to us all!

      Thank you, as always, for your visit and comment! Have a lovely Thanksgiving- and may we soon have even more for which we can be thankful. xo

  2. LindaGHill says:

    I wondered if you’d seen Rick Mercer’s rant. It was a good one, wasn’t it? ..and that’s about all I have to say on that.
    Go Jays!!

    • colemining says:

      Hi Linda! Yes, happy to have Rick back after the summer. I’m sure the rants to come in the next while will be stellar.

      Still reeling a little from the game today, but I’m shaking it off, and hoping the neighbour lads are getting a good night’s sleep and that they’ll come out ready to kick some Texan butt tomorrow.

      Have a lovely Thanksgiving!

  3. bethbyrnes says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, first and foremost, Cole. Go Jays!

    Now, what, is Harper taking lessons from our GOP? From Donald Trump? I am actually surprised Trump hasn’t started in on Muslims yet. He is happy to take away women’s health care and to ban anyone who isn’t blond and blue-eyed from coming into our country but he forgot the hijab and niquab! Quick, someone should get him up to speed.

    Paranoia is now our stock in trade, here. Our daily bread, fueled by dozens upon dozens or raving radio hosts. Science, my SIL Heidi informed me recently, are paid to lie and therefore must now be defunded and ignored. No, instead we need to listen to fanatics who get their information and shape policy from dreams and magical thinking.

    I hate to imagine that Canada is becoming America. Where will we Progressives flee when every man, woman and child here is armed with AK47s?

    • colemining says:

      Wow. Your SIL would love Harper. He has defunded more scientists and scholarly institutions than I can even count anymore.

      As to the niqab/hijab ‘issue’- that interview on the Current (with the woman who ‘started’ Harper’s crusade) is really illuminating. As is the interview with the federal public employees union. It. Is. Not. A. Problem. Or it wasn’t until Harper and his Cons made it into one. I’d say it’s hard to believe that he’s tapping into Quebec’s recent unsavoury venturing into legislated racism (although that didn’t work out well for the government that suggested it, so well done mes Quebecois!), but nothing this guy does surprises me any more.

      We will all have nowhere to run if we don’t smarten the hell up. And soon. We have about 10 days left to ensure that we are setting ourselves on a different track. I have no idea what to tell you guys. The sitch in the US is more and more insane by the day. Although I am enjoying Trevor Noah’s take on it all, immensely.

      Have a lovely weekend- and the Jays thank you for your support (I feel I can speak on their behalf- we are neighbours, after all 😉 ). Have to beat those Texans but good! xo

      • bethbyrnes says:

        Oh yes, please beat the Texans. Not a fan. I mean ‘scientists’, not ‘science’ — my fingers aren’t speaking too well this morning, apparently. Where shall we go, um, Sweden? Sigh. Waiting to see the outcome, holding my breath.

      • colemining says:

        I could do Sweden- although the winters might kill me.

        Hoping we’ll have the chance to beat both Texan teams (rather face the Astros than KC, THB). Neither of them are my faves, but I certainly wasn’t unhappy to see the Yanks take a hike… 😉

  4. I’m not going to be so bold as to speak for the good folks of Toronto, but down in my neck of the woods there is a continual hue and cry each and every state and local election over the need to elect individuals who have the well-being of the populace at heart, individuals willing to put their constituents’ needs before their own political aspirations. Nearly always, however, incumbents who have shown themselves diametrically opposed to changing the status quo or those with connections to the status quo are elected or re-elected to office and nothing changes. It doesn’t seem to matter what the variety of scandal is or how compromised a candidate’s integrity is, as long as they are a member of the appropriate political party – Republican in my state, Democrat in others – their election is all but assured once they make it onto the ballot. Until the electorate decides it wants to take the time and make the effort to find out what’s really in the best interest of their state, district, etc., rather than voting for whomever makes the most grandiose promises or whomever comes up with the best strawman arguments regarding immigrants, abortion, welfare, etc. we will be stuck in this endless loop of politicians feathering their own nests at the public’s expense while real needs go unresolved.

    • colemining says:

      It’s the same here, CBC, the very same. Even in my own riding, we are having to chose between a candidate who has always worked for the best results for this riding (before she temporarily left her federal seat to run, unsuccessfully, against that idiot we had for a mayor until recently) and the incumbent (who won when Olivia gave up her seat)- a former city councillor- who is a self-serving party faithful dude who seems to blindly follow his leader’s soundbites on important issues like C-51- without thought of how they might impact his constituents (he’s also not good about responding to letters- another reason to be unimpressed).

      This conundrum- part of the shift in the way in which the left is being divided- across the country, but here in Toronto, especially- means that I have to choose between the candidate I know will work for us as a community, and ensuring that the Cons don’t benefit from the splitting of left by voting for that other guy.

      This is something that should be an election issue- doing away with the first-past-the-post nonsense (to be fair, the NDP candidate has repeatedly spoken about overhauling the system- it’s a message that has been drowned out in discussions about women’s clothing and ‘national security’ and the like). ‘Strategic voting’ is the buzzword right now- as the race has become too close to call between the Liberals and the Cons (round about 33% give-or-take)- and the NDP trailing with something like 25%. Those who don’t want the current government re-elected are clearly the majority, but the three-party system means that that guy could manage to creep back into power.

      So frustrating. Ugh.

      Well, as I said to A-M, I’m off to enjoy some sunshine and cast my advance ballot, so I’ll try to put these anxieties away, for a time at least, and enjoy the day.

      Thanks, as always, for your visit and your insights. We’re in a heap of trouble- in both our countries- and I’m not sure what we do about it all.

  5. You’ve got this, Cole. I hope you can stop for. rest and enjoy your Thanksgiving but you’re right to fight. Reading through your links I find myself wondering just what exactly are the reasons behind the reluctance to investigate missing women, the preoccupation with headgear and the use of inflammatory language. My only conclusion is that it is to instil fear and divert attention from real issues by finding scapegoats.
    Your friend sounds like one brave lady. I remember reading about this case. Right stands together and you are right to take a stand with her and restate the case for the charter of your country.
    I wish you all the best in whatever action you need to take but really hope you also get to enjoy some rejuvenating down time with your loved ones – including the Blue Jays. 🙂
    Go them! Go you! x

    • colemining says:

      Sorry for the delay in response, A-M- crazy day yesterday. That game went to 14 (!) innings- and didn’t end well (largely due to inconsistency in the umping, but there were mistakes made in the field- and they are better than that). Clinging to the optimism, but the lads need to get it together tomorrow in Texas (ugh- so many reasons to dislike that team- yesterday added a few more…).

      As to our current-but-soon-to-be-former PM, I can only imagine that his hesitancy to investigate the deaths and fixation on the ‘subjugation of women’, as exemplified solely by the headgear a particular woman chooses to wear (she was sworn in as one of our newest Canadians the other day- red and white niqab in place), comes from the same place that suggests that closing Status of Women offices across the country and refusing to address the inequity, through generations, visited upon our First Nations. All while doing deal with countries like Saudi Arabia. That the hypocrisy isn’t universally recognized… that bit eludes me.

      I read a number of letters to editors this morning about the niqab issue- some referencing Farah’s experience this week- and could do little more than sigh in despondency at the number of them that attempted to couch the argument ‘against’ in some version of either Xian or feminist apologetic. Neither of these things come into play. Nor do straw man discussions about symbols of extremist, terrorist ideologies.

      It comes to personal choice within the bounds of the law- as it is currently written (and we need to get them out of office before they start including more like C-51)- and, as the Supreme Court verified, no law was broken. So why the PM- and an unfortunate percentage of the population- feels the need to weigh in on what a woman, about to become a citizen of Canada, decides to wear to the ceremony that celebrates that fact… it is all about divisive politics and playing to a lowest common denominator that places fear of the other above those rights and freedoms they claim to love.

      I try not to use the word ‘hate’- it’s dramatic and it’s extreme- but this guy’s politics and pandering to his base? Yeah- I hate it.

      Hope you’re having a lovely break! I’m heading out into the sunshine and unseasonably warm temperatures to run some errands and get things together for my part of Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. Enjoy the day! xo

      • Like you, I hate when I’m driven to hate something/someone. My only recollection of feeling that strongly, about a person, was when Maggie dismantled the country and did so blithely, stamping on all opposition from public voices and fixated on, what I believed then, to be her own brand of Toryism. Now, I’m not so sure that she was unique. Anti-social policies wrapped up in the rhetoric of pretence and paranoia apparently appeals to some sections of the populace if the Tory Party Conference was anything to go by. I really fear how far they’re prepared to go here to divide and conquer. Your guy/his party sound just as bad. I’m trying to keep personalities out of it nowadays and focus what I hate about their policies and points of views. Bit difficult, given some of the characters. :/
        So, hate, yeah, I hate what they stand for and hate that I feel like that too. Then I take a deep breath and wonder what I can do. Sometimes effective, sometimes not so much so.
        We surely need distractions from their shenanigans. I don’t do football here. 😉 Jeez, maybe that’s why I write! Lost in a little world of my own. 🙂
        Happy Thanksgiving, Cole. I hope you have a fabulous day with your family and get to talk a little treason(!)
        Reading over your post again about your dad and your sisters brought a lump to my throat the other day. He’d be so proud of you and the stand you take in supporting justice and equality. Please pass on my congratulations and admiration to your friend.
        Enjoy your day. Battle hats tomorrow. 😉 x

      • colemining says:

        I hate hating. And I hate that I hate this guy. But whenever he is in the television my blood boils. Even setting aside his (lack of) personality, his constant double-speak enrages me to such a degree…

        I’m planning some distractions, today. And then tomorrow I’ll hit the advance poll to cast my vote. Since we’re all on the same page, I doubt there’ll be much chat about the election today. We tend to get a little silly when the three of us are together.
        Thanks for re-reading that one. When I was up at the cottage a few weeks back, I was having a convo with one of my oldest and dearests- who is also my financial adviser and was the one who helped with lawyers and all when Dad was in hospital- about how I’m not living up to my parents’ example as far as involvement and action are concerned, and how I need to step it up. It’s something I’m reexamining right now- how best to use my time- now that the election is almost over. Farah is an inspiration- have to follow her lead a little more. I will certainly relay your words to her.

        Have a great day! xo

  6. ChgoJohn says:

    So much of what you’ve written applies here. Toronto has Blue Fever? Imagine how things are here in Wrigleyville with our Cubs coming home for Game 3 on Monday. 107 years is a long time to wait for a World Series win. Politically, I sit dumbfounded by the xenophobic, misogynistic, and racist comments made by some who are, unbelievably, leading in the polls. And still, people do not and will not get out and vote.

    • colemining says:

      Oh John- this place is crazy. Especially since that little come-back last night. And yes, you win. 107 years beats 22 😉

      I do have to say that people seem to be getting out to vote. Apparently people are showing up to the advance polls in record numbers (I’ll be doing that today), so it appears that we are more engaged than usual. Either that or we just so tired after the insanely long campaign we want it over and done with as soon as possible. And the numbers seem to indicate a trend toward change- although that may be wishful thinking as it’s too close to call right now.

      Thank you for stopping by- and for the comment. Go Jays! And go Cubs – at least until the next round 😉 xo

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