Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Scandals — A Guest Post By John Fioravanti

Today is a good day to step away from the Trump circus here in the U.S. and see what’s happening in the rest of the world.  A few days ago, I asked if any of my friends in the UK or Canada would be interested in writing a guest post about the situation in their own country, perhaps help us all understand a bit better.  John jumped right in and provided his take on the issues that have injected a bit of chaos into Canada’s upcoming elections (21 October).  His post led me to ask some questions, which he happily answered, so there is a Q&A at the end of the post.   Thank you, John, for taking the time to do this for us! 


john fioravantiI will preface my remarks with the admission of bias. I have been a supporter of the Liberal Party of Canada my entire adult life. While I do not think that the party or its leaders have always been right in their decisions, I do believe that this party has done more to advance the interests of all Canadians than the other major party, the Conservatives. As well, I do not present myself as a legal expert.

The SNC Lavalin affair was an internal Liberal Party squabble that the Conservatives twisted into a full-blown scandal. Jody Wilson-Raybould was Trudeau’s Justice Minister and she was asked to intervene in a criminal case involving the Quebec engineering giant, SNC Lavalin. Trudeau and his office repeatedly asked her to use a new legal tool to reduce the impact of the criminal outcome of the case to protect 10,000 jobs in Canada. She refused to budge. When Trudeau made Cabinet changes, she lost her plum position and was moved to a less prestigious portfolio. As far as I’m concerned, this was a huge mistake on Trudeau’s part. She then, quit the Cabinet in a huff. Another senior Cabinet minister, Jane Philpott, supported Wilson-Raybould and resigned her portfolio as President of the Treasury Board.

Both women went to the press citing wrongdoing on the part of Trudeau and his office. The Conservatives jumped all over the squabble claiming it was a terrible scandal. Trudeau tried to keep things civil within the party, but both women kept criticizing him and his office in the press. Their behaviour was a total violation of party solidarity, so the Liberal Caucus (elected Liberals in the Commons) voted to expel both women from the party. In the upcoming election they are both running for re-election as Independents.

In August, the Ethics Commissioner filed a report claiming that Trudeau actions were a violation of ethics in government. Believing he did nothing wrong, Trudeau refused to submit his resignation.

A couple of weeks ago, someone (a Conservative muck raker no doubt) found pictures of Trudeau taken in 2001. He had attended a masquerade party and wore black face as part of his costume. For this he has been branded a racist. Good grief! It may have been a stupid thing to do, but racist? He’s not done anything like that since, and he has worked hard to advance the cause of refugees in this country (most are people of colour). The charges of racism are the opposition parties’ pathetic attempt to bring him down in this election.

I don’t buy any of it. And it looks like most people here in Canada don’t either. Recent polls are showing the Liberals and Conservatives in a virtual tie with the Conservatives ahead by 1%. It will be a very interesting evening on election night as we watch the results pour in from across the country on Monday, October 21st.


Q&A:

  1. In this country, politicians (including the president) are often bought and paid for by large corporations, notably the fossil fuel and firearms industries. Do you think that Trudeau’s motivation in asking Ms. Wilson-Raybould was at the behest of SNC Lavalin, or was it genuinely, as Trudeau said, in order to save jobs?
    • Yes, large corporations and interest groups donate to politicians and political parties up here too. The Conservatives always have the biggest war chest at election time because their policies align best with Big Business. In the SNC Lavalin affair, Trudeau asked then Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to offer the engineering giant a type of plea deal. Trudeau told the press that SNC Lavalin communicated that if they were successfully prosecuted, they would move up to 10,000 jobs out of Canada. The CEO of the company subsequently denied this on national TV. His denial was later repudiated by written proof provided to the news media of his letter to the Trudeau government. According to my research, SNC-Lavalin employees donated $110,000 to the Liberals between 2004 and 2009. The company later reimbursed these individual contributions – in violation of Canadian election laws. The company also donated to the Conservatives on a smaller scale.

  2. Your system, being somewhat different than our own, leaves me with another question: You say that both Philpot and Wilson-Raybould are running for re-election as independents this month.  Would that be re-election to the Cabinet positions they previously held, but left?  What do you think their chances are?
    • Our system is very different from yours, Jill. Your president selects cabinet members from a pool of experts belonging to his/her own party and then the Senate confirms most of those appointments. Our Prime Minister selects his/her cabinet from the elected members of his own party in the House of Commons. Often, the PM doesn’t have the expertise among these people, so each government department has an expert civil servant, the Deputy Minister, who will instruct and advise the actual cabinet minister – who makes the final decisions. Jody Wilson-Raybault and Jane Philpott are running for re-election to their seats in the House of Commons – as is Trudeau and the other party leaders. Cabinet ministers are not elected to Cabinet. If your party wins the most seats in the general election, that leader is appointed Prime Minister by the Governor General (represents the Queen) and the PM, in turn, will select the Cabinet from his own elected members. So our Executive Branch is not separated from our Legislative Branch. Cabinet Ministers are answerable to the entire House of Commons during the daily Question Period. Most often, Independent candidates are not elected. However, these are different circumstances, so the Media is watching their ridings closely. Will they get back into Cabinet? Not a chance! It is interesting to note that Conservative leader Andrew Scheer invited both women to join his party. They turned him down flat.

  3. I’m torn on the blackface issue.  Recently, similar pictures surfaced showing Virginia Governor Ralph Northam in blackface back in his college days.  For me, that was a deal-breaker, and I did see it as racism.  Still do.  But yet, I find that I would not wish Trudeau to be replaced, or voted out because of it.  Which, of course, leaves me questioning my own values.  I think the reason I am more tolerant in Trudeau’s case is because he has taken a very accepting and welcoming stance regarding Middle-Eastern immigrants that puts the U.S. to shame, so I really don’t see Trudeau as a racist.  How has he responded to this … has he explained or apologized?  Do you think there is any way he could negate the effects of this?
    • Trudeau has apologized many times for the blackface pictures. Although people may take offence, by itself, it does not constitute racism. If you combine that instance with racist, anti-immigration remarks since then perhaps the moniker fits. As you point out, Trudeau has done more to help Middle Eastern refugees get into Canada than the US has done. He also met the first planeload of refugees when it landed at Pearson Airport in Toronto and helped in the distribution of winter coats and other winter clothing. He shook their hands and welcomed them warmly. I saw that on TV. That’s a racist? I think not! He apologized saying that it was a big mistake on his part and there is no excuse. So he has not tried to justify it in any way. Sometimes, I think we have become hyper-sensitive about racism. It is ugly and it exists here in Canada – always has – but this man is not a racist.

  4. I don’t know much about Scheer, other than I do not like his opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion. What’s your take on him?
    • Andrew Scheer is an acolyte of the previous Conservative leader, Stephen Harper. I despised Harper because he was an autocrat within his own party. No elected Conservative in the House of Commons was allowed to make ANY statements in public without approval from his office. That Conservative caucus was muzzled the entire time Harper was Prime Minister. As well, like Donald Trump, Harper would never appear at an open Town Hall Meeting to field questions from We the People. He appeared only at Conservative rallies that could be controlled. I have no doubt that Scheer will behave similarly. He talks about putting more money in the pockets of the middle class, but I don’t believe it. The Conservatives have ALWAYS cow-towed to the rich 1% and why would that change by this Harper acolyte? Yesterday, Scheer announced that he would reduce Canadian foreign aid by 25% in order to fund his promises to the middle class. That is not playing well in the Media. Canada has only 33 million people – 10% of your population and we have never been able to afford a large foreign aid package or a large military budget, but Canadians are sensitive to their reputation in the UN and the world. Scheer is slapping that sentiment in the face. Like Doug “the Thug” Ford elected Premier in Ontario a year ago, we have no idea exactly what Scheer would do if he was elected. I don’t trust him and he is not an impressive speaker.

Thanks again, John, for this enlightening post and conversation!  

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A Call To … Write? Opine? Enlighten?

I frequently like to feature guest posts from my readers on a given topic.  Here in the U.S., we have had so much chaos in our lives these last few months that it sucks all the energy out of the room, and leaves us with little energy to look past our own troubles.  But, the UK is facing a possible “no-deal” Brexit which could be devastating for them, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been throwing his weight and his rhetoric around, making things even worse.  And our neighbors to the north have also had their share of troubles in the form of a couple of scandals surrounding their Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, that has cast a shadow on his chances for re-election next month.

I would love to have some of my UK and Canadian friends contribute a guest post helping us here in the U.S. better understand your situation, and also giving us your perspective, as opposed to just what we read in the news.  Any takers?  If you’re interested, shoot me an email, or leave a comment here.

Thanks guys!

VOTE!!! – Part II — A Guest Post By Roger Jacob

This is Part II of a guest post on voting in the 2020 election, by our friend, Roger Jacob … Roger has a clear view from across the big pond of what is happening in the U.S. today, and has some words of wisdom, from a historical context, that we all need to hear.  Many thanks, Roger, for your wise words, and for taking the time out of your own writing schedule to write this post for us.

USA Not Voting Is No Longer A Luxury You Can Indulge

Part II

The Unhappy but Unavoidable Basics

“Democracy is a very bad form of government. But I ask you never to forget: All the others are so much worse.”

This stirring and wise little statement is from the opening credits of each episode of the brief CBS drama 1963-1964 Slattery’s People. The outline being the local politics and a state legislator James Slattery.

Churchill’s earlier version was, one of his less erudite and not so stirring “Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”, which it is argued was not one of his own and probably explains why it lacks a Churchillian ‘something’

Thus when you objectively compare the other forms of government (or antics masquerading as government) the ask yourself this ‘Would I like to live there for the rest of my life?’. For make no mistake, in this current era of Human history of large aggressive states and huge corporations central government of a nation by a small group of people is the only alternative, unless you can find a very small piece of isolated land that no one wants and survive on it…while hoping no one finds valuable resources thereupon. You are dealing with a 7.7 billion sized very flawed but inventive species here, hiding out and surviving can be difficult.

On Democracy and more Unavoidables

Having to accept the fact that someone is going to run the place wherever you live and thus have an impact on your life, having a say in who gets there is an attractive option. As you are going to vote in people and not saintly beings there will be mistakes, flaws, compromise, disappointments and all the other baggage humans drag around with them. This is also unavoidable. This is the Current Reality. If you are looking for perfection in government. Sorry that era has not arrived yet…hopefully it will, if we survive that long.

Another facet of democracy is that folk who have very strong opinions will make sure they can get out there and vote. Now you may not care for the folk with the Strong Opinions, but if you don’t vote then they will have a disproportionate say in your life. Again you don’t get to avoid this. Yes you can protest, yes you can organise campaigns and you might win a few, but ‘they’ the elected of the ‘Strong Opinions’ will still be there and the only chance you will get to remove them will be at the next election.

This is how the flawed process of Democracy works. Participation is the only stable, civic way you can ensure it remains Stable and Civic.

Narrowing in. The USA in 2020

I address this portion to the citizens of voting age in the USA.

You will not need me to list, report or otherwise enumerate the controversial decisions, statements and persons who have appeared upon the political stage since the election of 2016. You have them burned into your memory and possibly your hearts. You know full well that the temperature of the political atmosphere has risen and thus increased the level of toxicity. You know, as I suggested before Consensus is a very endangered species, in some regions it is extinct.

Now it may be, it is possible that many of the folk associated with the current administration are not racists, homophobic, anti-minority, narrow-minded reactionaries or religious zealots. It maybe. However by the actions and statements coming out of the administration these views have been given an air of respectability, they can be howled out under the guise of the much-abused term ‘Free Speech’. There are people striding about the public domain who back in the 1960s & 1970s would have labelled ‘wackos’ and generally laughed at. Now they have far too many followers.

In this situation I will ask those of you who do not vote this very hard question. Are you content with that situation? Are you not bothered about what is happening along the US Mexican border? Are you at ease with the mass shooting? Are you at ease with the Hate-Crime and unprovoked attacks on minority peoples? Are you? Now be careful with your reply as you might feel inclined to reply to me, because whatever you write however you argue, I will be replying too … with those questions. For there is no option if you choose to stay in the USA. Are you content with this administration and its followers? Are you?  Are you willing to stand by and do naught but simply write an impassioned piece in Social Media in the belief that somehow that will change things? For ‘they’ write impassioned pieces too.

We dial back to the previous post. And that that 60,000,000+ folk voted from this administration and rest assured they will vote again, and again, and again. This 25%-30% of the numbers. But they are not the majority…they were not the majority in 2016 … thanks to a narrow margin and a freak of your system they ‘won’. So do they truly represent anyone other than themselves. Are you content with these people telling you how the nation is going to be run. Are you?

For the non-voter by principal here is your paradox which in this case has to be answered. You might well have very strong views on government, which is why you do not vote. I will again  come back to the earlier point. Someone is going to run the nation. Are you content with this administration running it, or would you rather chance another, and yes risk those disappointment? Some might say ‘better the devil you know’… Let me say from a study of American political history ‘Well folks, if you are content with a devil …’

This I will hammer home again, and again. Are you content? Are you willing to let things go on the way they are? Do you truly think that an alternative will be The Same? Do you? Are you willing to risk the lives and well-being of minorities to satisfy your own views? Are you content for them to lay there upon some allegorical petri dish while you muse over your own political philosophies hoping to gain some ephemeral moral high-ground. Sorry, but that is not the real world you are living in. Oh yes you can talk about change and I would not challenge that but in this climate you do not get the chance to make that change because it comes by steady, slow evolution and right now we are looking at a possible political extinct event.

Polemic? Yes of course. Because currently American politics is a place of polemics from both sides and in that toxic environment your way does not have a hope. Civil War does. But not yours. Not at this time. The atmosphere is too toxic.

Your only option to change is to get out there and vote.

Defeatism

This is something of fall-back cop-out which comes in many forms. Let us leave the lazy ‘What’s the point’ excuse, I’ve put up enough arguments against that in the above words. NO need to repeat. There are others worries. These needed to be address by activism

Gerrymandering- Yes, they will do that. You need a rather dull and stodgy UK style Boundaries Commission to guard against that and even then there is huffing and puffing. However you are in pre-war situation here and propaganda  plays a part. Imagine the result when Trump’s dream gerrymandering has worked. For Trump 65,000,000. Against Trump 90,000,000. Imagine what the media and world media would make of that. It would be quite comic, and the streets would be clogged with protestors. And where is Trump’s mandate? Also that would have many a congress or senate member worrying about the next election.

Not Eligible – This is an old trick which was used in the South to keep ‘those people’ out of the booths when the local politicians were queasy about ‘good ol’ boys’ with clubs. This takes finesse as what would be required would be a strongly created website were folk denied the vote could register their names and the reason. Imagine millions of  names turning up? Of course that does need, as I said a very good site.

The Russians – Yeah. That’s another old one from the European book of tricks. Influence the nation, or make you think they are influencing the nation and thus erode the feeling a vote will count. Get out there and vote and make a noise about it. As with the other two problems it is all about raising the opposition profile.

Summary

Your nation is on tracks for an extremist disaster. Trump is only a small part of it. The main issue is the polarisation. The only way that can be defeated is by The Active Moderate, who demands their voice be heard. The one who will not be silent, and the only way they will listen by is the counting of the votes and the voice of those who voted.

Anything else is quite frankly fluff the current administration will blow away with its own propaganda.

The administration’s supporters will vote you can be sure of that. By not voting you are simply supporting them and stoking the fires.

Are you content with that?

Are you comfortable with the persecution of minorities?

Are you at ease with the erosion of the environment?

Are you glad the rich are getting richer?

If you don’t vote out of choice, then you must be.

Stands to reason.

Note to readers:  I will be re-running these two posts, as well as others, in the days leading up to election day.  Meanwhile, feel free to use these to help try to convince people you may know who claim it is too much bother to vote, or have other excuses. 

VOTE!!! – Part I — A Guest Post By Roger Jacob

A week or so ago, our friend Roger and I were chatting about how crucial next year’s election will be in the U.S., how it is likely to be the single most important election in the history of the nation, and how critical it is that every eligible person uses the power of his vote on 03 November 2020.  Roger is a gifted writer with a strong sense of history, and when he offered to write a guest post on this subject, I jumped at the offer!  Roger lives in Wales (UK) and I find that often, those outside the U.S. see our situation with more clarity than we who live in this muck every day do. What follows is the first of a two-part guest post titled:

USA Not Voting Is No Longer A Luxury You Can Indulge

Part I-

Motivations, Histories, Circumstances

Preface, Emotions and History

Firstly, I would not be writing this were I not for many years pro-American. I do not subscribe to the tired old ‘USA is the root of all evils’ jag. If you are going to be critical of the USA then you had better include sentences on Russia and China in your comments, they do not get a free-ride. The Three Big Powers. Big Powers are ugly in their dealings with the world. A brief read of the histories of Empires or Very Large Nations anywhere anywhen should convince you of that.

That said back to my relationship with the USA. The music, the humour, the variety, the enthusiasm, the can-do. I thought them wonderful, exhilarating. Dare I use the shallow phrase ‘I love(d) The USA!’. I still value its freedom of art, this vast sprawling inventive nation not shackled by clichés of faux-rebellion and cliques of the self-aggrandised and their followers smaller nations can suffer with.

This opening paragraph is essential to my argument. Because I care about the USA and I see its potential about to be ruined. Torn apart by the negative parts of the Human, those which History warns us have always been there and despite the myriad of examples still lurk, with dread patience. You, The USA is at one of the turning points many nations have encountered. You can journey on. Or you can implode. 2020’s Presidential election beckons.

2016 Election

Being a retired Civil Servant I promptly started checking stats and quite frankly became very side-lined. I will spare my fascination with numbers and give you some simple facts: Clinton = 65,853,514 Trump = 62,984,828. Whereas Trump is legally and constitutionally the USA president more people voted for Clinton. 245,500,000 Americans are 18 & over. Therefore, Trump was voted in by 25.6 % of the adult population. This in itself is not unusual, other than the fact that there is a minority president. Combined these show hardly a stunning mandate.  

Ramifications

Because of the divisive nature of Trump there is at best a stubborn refusal for one side to see the other’s argument against or for him. At worse there is a loud, vociferous and toxic climate in American politics in which consensus has long since withered and there is naught but conflict. Trump has done nothing to assuage the opposition, in fact he has goaded them and relied upon his own loyal base to stoke up his confidence. Thus, widening the gap. Into such an atmosphere naturally the rabble rousers and extremists will turn up and prosper by feeding the supporters with a diet of anger, mockery of the foe and most of all hate (and rake in the bucks folks…notice how Bannon does not live in a shack or trailer park). This is always the situation prior to a civil or civic strife. A House Divided. You will see this phrase again.

Trump

People talk of Trump as if he was so great political operator with an inane sense of genius. This is not so. As businessmen before him he thought he could run the country like he runs his businesses and by woeful chance he appeared at a time when: (1) a portion of the population were reeling from having one of ‘those’ people in the Whitehouse for two terms (2) The culture wars were entering their fourth decade and getting hotter (3) The antics of ‘The Hill’ were getting on people’s nerves. Thus, Trump is but the manifestations of millions of people’s fears, angers (and in some cases) blind prejudices. As far as they are concerned he is their man and not (as he believes) the other way around. Thus, this vocal and furious approximately 25% now hold sway in the Nation. A multi-cultured, five time zone, 300,000,000 + population, politically polarised with easy access to firearms Nation. A more astute generation of politicians would have picked up on this and would be doing something to damp down the fires. Not Trump, bloated with the adulation of his creators he sees only them and their needs. Woefully ignorant of the forces which are at work. A House Divided. History beckons.

Warning

The entrenchments of both sides indicate those who are currently involved within the political processes, be they politicians, aides, activists or voters have in most cases already made up their minds. The nation has in round terms 123,000,000 voters willing to make their mark, to repeat there is a potential in round terms of of 245,000,000. The questions to ask at this stage are is approximately one-half of the population content to let (1) Their future be fought over by another divided half. (2) Thus, content to be told how Life is going to be by a subsequent victorious quarter. If you didn’t vote last time because ‘why bother’ or ‘my principals’ were your fall back reasons, ask yourself:

Are you really content with a quarter of the population dictating to you?

Do you really think in this toxic situation you or folk close and dear to you will not be affected some day, some how, some when?

In the next part we will discuss this in more detail.

Thank you so much, Roger!  😊  Stay tuned for Part II …

Meanwhile, Up In Canada — A Guest Post By Rawgod

We here in the U.S. are so absorbed in the daily dose of Trumpism that rarely in the past two years have most of us looked outside our own borders.  Oh, sure, we have the most basic knowledge of the Brexit battle, and we make note of such things as the two recent mosque shootings in New Zealand, but for the most part we are so inundated in all things “trump”, that we are almost buried in the detritus.  But, our situation is not unique in this, the year 2019.

Our friend rawgod lives in the western Canadian province of Alberta, and they have problems that are very similar to our own, and in many ways tied directly to our own.  I have long argued that no nation can afford to take an isolationist view, for this is a global world now, and no nation can survive without cooperation in many areas:  technology, trade, national security.  So, when rawgod offered me this guest post, I was happy to be able to present a first-hand, up-close-and-personal view of what is transpiring outside the U.S.  By the way … I always welcome guest posts any time somebody feels so inclined!  Thank you, rawgod, for helping to open my eyes about what is going on up north!Text dividers800px-Alberta_in_Canada.svgIn Alberta I am told that over 100,000 people are out of work because the Oil Sands production has been reduced. This is partly because of Paris Accord commitments to cleaner air, but that partly is too small. The biggest reason is because we are producing more oil than we can move to places whose people are willing to process our oil into usable form. The province’s population is crying for pipelines to move our oil, not caring whose land the pipelines might cross or what ecologies might be damaged. Mostly the land they want to use is owned by First Nations people, and government-protected wildlife areas.

Meanwhile, it is mostly white people who are clamouring for these pipelines to be built without ecological studies. Who cares how the pipelines hurt Mother Nature or First Nations people OR THE ATMOSPHERE WE BREATHE as long as they make their money. Oil Sands wages are extremely high, as wages go these days. The people who want those wages do not want to be retrained to make clean money or clean air, they want to keep on making their dirty money for dirtying the atmosphere. They care nothing about others, they care only about themselves and their wallets.

Alberta has an election coming up in April, and who is making the loudest noise about pipelines–you guessed it, the United Conservative Party, led by a man named Jason Kenney, who cheated to get the party leadership, a man who may have actually broken the law, one who definitely broached political ethics, to make sure he won. Now he wants to become Premier of our province. AND PROBABLY WILL! Alberta has, until the last election, always been a conservative-voting province since its inception.

Yesterday this party did a big flip flop, it went from wanting to expose non-straight children in our school systems to saying it wanted to protect them from exposure, after years of loud politicking that non-straight kids needed to be exposed. Does this sound like a true policy change to anyone? Or does it sound like an insincere political attempt to attract more liberal-minded voters to its march to taking over the province.

After just one day, the leader of the UCP changed his tune about Gay Straight Alliances in schools, which are what I was talking about yesterday regarding exposing those who feel they are not heterosexual. For most of the past three years he has been demanding that schools expose kids who join Gay Straight Alliances, no matter what their reason. He wanted to promote homophobia. Yesterday, he said kids needed to be safe from exposure. We all knew he did not mean that. Today, ONE WHOLE DAY after saying kids needed to be safe, he clarified his policy. IT SHOULD BE UP TO THE TEACHERS TO EXPOSE GSA MEMBERS IF THE TEACHER THOUGHT IT WAS NOT IN THE STUDENTS’ BEST INTERESTS. Who would get to decide that? Religious teachers? Of course. The teachers themselves do not want that responsibility, as a group, but particular teachers do, the ones who believe it is their right to tell parents their children might think they are gay. Or the children may want to just understand their friends who think they might be gay. That is what GSAs are for. To promote healthier relationships. To stop homophobia before it starts.

So much for a new UCP policy. The politicians want to hide behind the teachers. Gutless wonders. Homophobes every one. Suppress healing. Divide. Divide. Divide!

Oh, did I say many of their party faithful have had to pull out of the race after having their racial hatred and white superiority statements brought to light, or even just threatened to be brought to light. They made statements on social media sites before they decided to run for office, and now those chickens don’t want to be roasted with their own bigoted words. Surprise! Surprise!

These are the people who mainly make up the UCP, including their cheating leader. These are Alberta’s Trump-lovers. And these are the people who are probably going to win the election, because their policies of hatred and greed resonate with a huge portion of Albertans.

Vive Jason Kenney! Vive Donald Trump! Vive the death of humanity! Vive climate change! Barf… Barf… Barf…

America In The Eyes Of The World — A Guest Post By rawgod

Last month I started a project called Coexist, and I asked for guest posts from readers outside the United States to give us their view of the U.S. as it stands today, and also how our recent behaviour has affected their own country.  I received and published several excellent contributions from David, Gary, and Colette in the UK, and John in Canada.  At the time, rawgod expressed an interest in writing a post but needed a bit of time.

His words are sobering and remind us that we are indeed a global community, that we are under the microscope and what we do here in the U.S. has far-reaching consequences.  I suspect that most of us are completely unaware of the incidents rawgod tells of, and I think it is important for us to see.  Thank you, rawgod, for your words, as I know how much you struggled to keep it ‘short, sweet and to the point’.

Anonymous Letters, Surreptitious Visits, and Other Events

Edmonton is a metropolitan city of about 1.8 million citizens, capital of the province of Alberta in the nation of Canada. And quite possibly the most hating city in Canada. In 2018 there were two anonymous letters sent to Aboriginal Canadian families telling them their presence was not wanted by white persons in the areas in which they lived. The first letter was sent on condominium board letterhead to owning residents of one of the condos. It basically said that red-skinned Canadians were not wanted by white residents of the condo, and they should go back to whatever reserve they had come from. They were not worthy of living among civilized people. Violence was threatened. A few months later a similar letter, unsigned, was sent to another Aboriginal Canadian family. This time the family had been living in the same house for over 20 years. Violence was not directly threatened, but is was suggested as a possibility if the family did not go back to the reserve. The police are “still investigating” both letters, but no persons have yet been designated as persons of interest.

A few days before the 2nd anniversary of the shooting in a Montreal mosque in which 6 were killed and 19 wounded, four men were discovered infiltrating Edmonton mosques. All four were members of a white racist group called The Clan. The Clan is an offshoot of The Sons of Odin, a member of which committed the shooting in Montreal. Was it any coincidence these 4 persons were snooping around mosques? One man said he went inside to use the washroom. Yeah, sure. Police were notified, and surveillance was increased. Fortunately, nothing further has happened since, but what if these men’s visits had not been discovered?

Meanwhile, in Edmonton, there have been a number of instances on Edmonton Transit buses where people of non-white appearance were harassed by white passengers, told to go back home, threatened with violence, and basically mistreated while trying to go about their own business–this includes teenage school and university students, most of whom were born in Edmonton. White people seem to forget they were not the original inhabitants of this land. They seem to think it belongs to them by divine right, or some religious sin. How dare they forget they are the invaders here!

These are not all the hate crimes that have occurred in Edmonton, they are only samples. These feelings have no doubt been around for over a century, but mostly they were hidden. No one dared to declare themselves as the outright bigots they are … And then Donald J. Trump came along, and gave them permission to voice their opinions aloud, with force, and with open hatred.

And then this:  J.M.-hate-letter.jpgI’ll let you make up your own minds. By the way, it was written on United Conservative Party letterhead. No one has been fired.

This post shook me … it breaks my heart to know there are people with so much hate in their heart, with such a sense of arrogance and entitlement.  Did it start with Donald Trump?  No, it’s been there all along, but it was the rhetoric of Trump and others who unleashed the storm.

America In The Eyes Of The World — A Guest Post By John Fioravanti

I have been so pleased by the excellent guest posts I have received from friends in the UK — David, Gary and Colette — as a part of Project Coexist, giving us a chance to see how people outside the U.S. view us these days, in light of the changes in our nation.  Today I am happy to share with you another excellent point-of-view from Canadian friend, John Fioravanti!

America Today: A Canadian View

I appreciate Jill Dennison’s generous invitation to be a guest on her blog site. As a retired high school history teacher, I don’t presume to be an expert on this topic or any other – nor do I claim to speak for any Canadians other than myself. Having said that, I believe that many Canadians are profoundly saddened and anxious by developments on our southern border since the Trump Administration took power.

Having taught American history for many years, I have some understanding about the events and ideas that shaped America from its colonial days. Like all nations, the United States has evolved throughout its history in many significant ways. Today, I see America at a crossroad as many of the foundational values are being tossed aside for political expediency.

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a bilateral meeting at the G7 Summit in Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada, June 8, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Diplomacy is a dirty word in the Trump White House and I am horrified that the president resorts to bullying and personal insult in his conduct of relations with Canada and the other Allies. Where is the dignity and respect that normally characterize international relationships – especially with allied nations? These were the tactics used against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau throughout the NAFTA negotiations. The worst part about that episode was that it utterly destroyed the trust that existed between Canada and the United States throughout the 20th Century and into the 21st.

Mulroney and Reagan sing “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” at the 1985 Shamrock Summit.

I never expected Trudeau and Trump to become fast personal friends since they are divided by their political ideologies. Brian Mulroney and Ronald Reagan were both conservative leaders and good friends. Stephen Harper, a conservative, did not become friendly with the liberal-minded Obama. Yet, Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau became good friends with Obama. My point here is that the political leanings of our national leaders often determine the temperature of the relationship. Under Donald Trump, that temperature has become decidedly frigid, and that benefits neither nation.

As I consider Trump’s poor behaviour in Washington and on the world stage, I am most concerned with his complete break with truth and honesty. I am appalled that so many millions of Americans still support him. Do they not value truth and honesty? Or are they just willing to subvert those values as a fitting sacrifice to achieve their political agenda? These are very troubling questions. I fear for my American cousins and for the rest of the free world.

Much has been written about the divisions within America. Donald Trump did not create those divisions, but he has single-mindedly exploited them to appease his base. In like manner, he has driven a wedge of distrust between the United States and her traditional allies. At the same time, Trump pays public homage to authoritarian leaders around the globe. His chaotic foreign policy has resulted in trade wars with allies and foes alike and the result is the isolation of America on the world stage.

I live a short two-hour drive from our southern border at Niagara but I have not driven across to visit friends in New York State since Trump took power – nor will I until America votes him out of power. That makes me sad. His mercurial policies cause me to be anxious and fearful about travelling in the States. Perhaps that is silly but it is my truth.

As a youngster, I remember being glued to the TV news as America’s cities burned during the race riots of the 1960s. As I listen to the white supremacist rhetoric and watch news reports of children and minority groups being targeted in mass shootings in America today, the old horror of those bygone days rears its ugly head.

Canada has its fair share of problems too. We have racial divisions of our own. There are people in Canada who think Donald Trump is a great example to follow. As a liberal, I’ve always done my best to accept that others have differing political and social views to my own, but I fear that American conservatism characterized by dishonesty and a total lack of integrity has made inroads among Canada’s conservatives.

Today, America is writhing in the midst of a political stalemate that has caused a partial shutdown of the federal government. Neither Trump nor the Democrat leaders in Congress are willing to blink. Meanwhile, thousands of federal workers find themselves used as political hostages who may lose their savings, their homes, and their peace of mind as a result. This is morally reprehensible!

Presupposing America can emerge from the next two years in one piece, will American voters elect leaders who will take steps to heal the nation and heal the broken relationships with the allies? Who can be certain? The divided house called America is frightening to behold. The fate of the free world hangs in the balance.

Thank  you so much for your perspective as one of our two closest neighbors, John!  I’m wondering if there are plans in the works in your own government to take steps, such as building a big, beautiful wall, to protect your southern border, for under our current circumstances, many of us may be fleeing to the north to escape political persecution here!

America In The Eyes Of The World — A Guest Post By Colette

Today I have another guest post in response to my plea for readers around the globe to share with us their views of the U.S. in today’s world.  Colette has generously taken the time to write a thoughtful analysis of how the U.S. fits … or doesn’t fit … with the rest of the world today, and how our policies and leadership have affected the rest of the world.  Thank you so much, Colette, for this excellent and sobering analysis!


How did America Lose its Way in the World?

The USA, for many decades, maintained leadership in the world of economics, politics and living standards.

In 2008, that all changed when a poor economy, during the end of the Bush administration, triggered job losses and foreclosures on newly purchased real estate. The Prime Rate Mortgage scheme unravelled spectacularly, as people walked away from their homes. Financial Institutions holding the debt load across the world, fell like dominoes, crippling the world economy. The Bush administration had allowed for a scandalous mortgage scheme to exist. Outrageously, Senator John McCain exonerated Republicans by falsely pinning the blame for the financial fallout on the Democrats. Trust was lost in America.

Then, the rise of Chinese, Russian, Brazilian, and Indian (BRIC) economies created the global financial growth once enjoyed by the USA. They, and the fifth member, South Africa, have developed enormously. These nations are forming stronger inter-development alliances with interested parties and no longer depend on the EU and the US economies for survival.

America, despite the best efforts of Barack Obama to rebuild confidence, has lost the respect of other nations. With the loss of trust in America, came the loss of safety for political allies. America was no longer a major player in the World. Barack Obama was unable to adequately rebuild those fractured relationships. There were no viable Democrats waiting in the ‘wings’ who had a definitive strategy for bringing back jobs and rebuilding the economic status that the American public wanted. A political void existed.

I don’t like Donald Trump. I read his ‘Art of the Deal’ when it was first published in 1987. It didn’t take me long to realise that the man could use spin to sell any abhorrent idea to anyone. I also noticed how he manipulated officials to win planning permission for constructing his ostentatious buildings.

I thought Donald Trump to be the perfect TV host of the American version of ‘The Apprentice.’ His bullying, bellow of ‘You’re Fired!’ to contestants was an accurate personification of his real self. Donald Trump is not the perfect man for the position of President of the United States.

Trump, fresh from his instant TV stardom, rode in like a cowboy with guns blazing. Mowing down friends and foes alike, he boasted to his TV audience, “We’re gonna Make America Great Again!” It was a terrible ‘John Wayne’ imitation, but it was enough to mobilise poor-town Americans into lifting their heads up from dusty bars across the Nation. They recognised Trump from his appearances on their living room screens as someone who knew business and how to make money. As a collective, they put their fists in the air and said, “Yeah, we’re gonna make America great again! They were not seemingly aware of the debts that Trump had incurred in his own dealings, nor of his use of tax avoidance and double dealing tactics.

My husband, a financial man for much of his working life, saw a visionary Donald Trump providing hope for a better economy. His view, was to give the man a chance! He tells me that Donald Trump, whether you like him or not, has made progress on his pre-election promises.

I don’t really think my husband knows Trump’s full history, nor do I think that he cares, so that may also be true of Trump’s many supporters.

Unfortunately, Donald Trump is full of old ideas, old philosophies, and old tricks. And he believes that he, ‘The Donald,’ is above the law, above the Constitution, and above any need to be diplomatic with other nations. He plays the Presidency as he did his own empire. He believes that his only hindrances are the Democrats and a few million Hispanics on his southern border. He does not personally like or feel any compassion for economic migrants because he is a covert racist and doesn’t want them in ‘his’ America.

The lack of trust in America has extended into the very real issue of world climate change. There is hesitation on global action as America, under Donald Trump’s instruction, has now left the bargaining ‘table.’ Other nations mumble verbal commitments, but their trust in American leadership has been abused yet again. Suspicion and hostility about how the Paris Agreement might work without US involvement has ground proceedings to a halt.

I watched a May 2018 interview with ‘Stephen Fry,’ a British actor. How did he see America today? He dropped his head saying, “Oh it’s terribly unfortunate! ” He also went on to say that Donald Trump used gangster and criminal tactics to force his agenda. He says Trump’s popularity is driven by ‘clickbait’ issues posted on social media, that is then reiterated over and over again, in televised news.

Stephen Fry also predicts that Donald Trump will run a second term, and so does my husband. Why? Because Donald Trump commands attention. He keeps his fingers working on his Twitter account so that he makes world news every day! A certain percentage of Americans see Donald Trump’s constant barrage of media blustering as ‘the real thing.’ They are fooled into believing that ‘America IS Great Again! ” So, they will vote him in again because Trump’s fake news fiasco is working!

Donald Trump tosses out outrageous propaganda which the media just gobbles up and feeds to us wholesale. Stephen Fry said that if nobody listened, and nobody clicked on the social media links, all the propaganda would disappear, and so would Donald Trump’s success.

Brits in general, feel that they hear far too much about American politics, especially during elections. And in truth, not many ordinary people on this side of the pond care what Donald Trump does, but those same people lap up the articles written about Trump because they reinforce some parallel issues that arise with Brexit.

Trump’s firings of his staff, the withdrawal of troops, the detention and degradation of migrants, the threat to keep the government in lock down, and his never-ending tirade about the ‘wall,’ all invoke fear. Trump hopes to trigger a state of emergency in a paralysed nation fearful of attack. These are the ‘plays’ of a man desperate to have the rest of the world take notice of America and see her power. Trump wants to build the economy using the steel industry to build the ‘wall’ and to create an arsenal of new weapons (in the event of a war that he will likely instigate). It is so unfortunate for the American people who must endure the consequences of the lies churned out by Trump. They may see the economy build, but it is not building for them.

The sinister side to all of this, is that Trump may eventually use his bullying tactics one too many times with China. It could backfire spectacularly in 2019 as a China/Russia alliance becomes a mega joint strategy against the perceived US threats. Donald Trump is playing with fire. His military commanders know it, and so do his allies. Other countries are quickly backing away from Trump’s influence as he drags the good citizens of America down a very dark black hole whilst chasing his own empire.

 ‘Trust’ and ‘Safety’ no longer exist in my vocabulary for describing Donald J. Trump’s America. And the consequences of Donald Trump’s flawed plans could herald a change of leadership on the political world stage. If so, it will not be the United States of America in that lead role.

America In The Eyes Of The World – A Guest Post by Gary Metcalfe

Today I am happy to present the second guest post in response to my plea for friends outside the U.S. to give us their insight about how they view the U.S. today.  This one is by Gary Metcalfe, who blogs as bereavedandbeingasingleparent, or as I call him, Bereaved Dad.  Thank you, Gary, for taking the time and effort to write this illuminating piece!


IS YORKSHIRE CLOSER TO WASHINGTON OR PARIS

Geography doesn’t really come easily to a simple Yorkshire chap like myself. I’m lucky to find my way round the house never mind circumnavigate the globe.  But distance wise I am pretty sure we are closer to France than America. It has always puzzled me if I should call America – America or is it the USA? Let’s go for America. So, although we are physically closer to France, in terms of relationships are we closer to Washington or Paris?

This is such a difficult question given the fact that my own country has clearly gone barking mad. So badly divided over Brexit. Increasingly violent and seeing the worrying rise of extremism. Less tolerant. Without any effective leadership. Obsessed with the cult of personality over substance. A country with ever widening inequalities. Happy to criticise others yet reluctant to cooperate or make any meaningful international contribution.  Occasionally sending a few war planes into the Middle East does not really count as a constructive policy.

To be fair if Washington and Paris had any sense they would distance themselves from the UK. I suspect the leaders in Europe secretly can’t wait to get rid of us. When I worked for the NHS I went to a conference and the Secretary of State for Health started slagging off our European partners. He held up a European Competition Framework and complained that it was 300 pages long and was a clear sign of European bureaucracy gone mad. Unfortunately, he failed to mention that the vast majority of the bureaucracy in that document had been inserted at the request of the U.K. to protect our own interests. That document will be much slimmer when we have left.

Although we talk as if we are European we have historically seen our closest ally as America. America is often portrayed as vibrant, modern, yes a bit brash but also so very inclusive. Yes, we have seen things which make us shake our heads. The obsession with guns … what is all that about. Wouldn’t an obsession with something like Tea or Old Car Restoration be an awful lot safer for your kids. But still we could trust America. Then Obama came along and suddenly our closest ally became a real beacon of hope.

In 2011 the American President said a few simple words that resonated (he had a brilliant talent for that):

“We should do everything we can to ensure this country lives up to our children’s expectations”

 The words came at such a tragic time for the American People, but Obama was the leader we all wished we had. Intelligent, caring, passionate and someone who understood he had obligations to the upcoming generations. That’s a great look for country and certainly a friend we can work with.  Then the hope appeared to fade, stagnated by a divided country. Principles had to be compromised.  But still America was a trusted partner. Someone we could turn to when we fell out with Europe.

 Then we all got trumped.

 When Trump received his nomination it never really sunk in. We knew of him. A billionaire, a golfer, luxury hotel owner, someone who appeared in Home Alone 2 and the winner of the WWE Battle of the Billionaires with Vince McMahon – didn’t get his head shaved. That was it.

We didn’t focus on him too much as obviously Hillary would win, as obviously the UK would vote to stay in Europe. Then even after he won he wasn’t taken that seriously. He won’t last long, people started placing bets on how long he would be President. Most people seemed to think anywhere between 6 months to 1 week. But he stayed.

For the first period of his presidency it appeared from the U.K. that if you just ignored his frequent twitter rants then things would be ok. He hadn’t blown anything up. Apart from the noise nothing seemed to be happening. Yes, the revolving door approach to presidential appointments seemed vaguely amusing. Moving the White House engine room to a golf course (as clearly a golf course is where a President can do his best work) was not really a surprise. In fact, all we really heard was how much time he spent playing golf.  But slowly the news of the what trumping really meant started to filter across the pond.

  • Apparently dangerous links with Russia and certain Middle East tyrannies existed. But we couldn’t lecture on this as we have equally close links with Saudi Arabia.

  • The Paul Manafort saga (too confusing to really follow as we only heard about snippets of the story) but it clearly implied incompetence or something more sinister. Whatever the underlying cause it’s not a great example to the world of American Ethics.

  • The handling of the Puerto Rico natural disaster was just really insensitive, self-centred and despicable.

  • The apparent haste to fall out with your historic partners like Canada, France and Germany. But you have found a new buddy in North Korea.

  • He bizarrely started to openly condemn his own Intelligence Agencies and the FBI. Yet he didn’t seem as willing to condemn the Extreme Right operating in his own country.

  • The Complete disregard for international climate change commitments. It really felt like he was saying ‘stuff you’ to the world and future generations. Maybe he thinks it’s not my problem as I will be gone by the time the world burns. Contrast that with Obama’s approach. Monumentally stupid or colossally selfish.

  • Favouring the interest of the NRA over child safety. Seriously arming teachers….

  • Attacks on the Free Press and attempts to stifle debate. These are particularly worrying as some of our politicians are clearly starting to copy Trumps strategy. What happened to the Leader of the Free World role.

  • That Wall. That Magic Wall which will solve all of America’s problems. The Wall which is so precious that it’s worth freezing Government for. That must be some Wall. But the sight of a modern Leader seemingly taking personal delight at the shutdown. Probably thinks it makes him look like a big man. We are talking about people’s lives here being sacrificed for a few bricks.  Kids are dying on the border. Oh, I forgot they are just migrants. Are the golf courses still open?

To the vast majority in our country your President appears to be at best a misguided clown at worst a dangerously unbalanced self-obsessed bully. Either are not a good look for a leader and certainly not as a leader who we are trying to forge a partnership with. Many in our country feel that Trump has gone too far. That we should be distancing ourselves from him. But our PM is desperate, she sees an American trade deal (regardless of how bad it is) as a way of saving her job. So, unless we get a new government it’s going to happen.

Where does that leave us across the pond. Rapidly burning our bridges with Europe. Yet looking on at America with increasing consternation and alarm. At a time when we should be embracing closer links with Washington we see a dangerous superpower. Potentially a threat. Yes, a threat. And yet. And yet. As our country careens out of control into a world with few friends, our government views Trump as someone we might be able to quickly do business with. He clearly hates Europe as much as our Brexiteers. But at what cost. Is an unbalanced trade deal really worth further opening up our beloved National Health Service to Trump’s golfing buddies. Are we really that tainted as a country that we are prepared to sacrifice our moral principles for the price of a document which Trump could declare void at any stage.

So back to the big question. Are we closer to Washington or Paris? The answer is sadly neither.Text dividers

A Guest Post by David M. Prosser …

Yesterday, I put out a plea for some of my friends and readers who live outside the U.S. to write a guest post for this blog about how they view the United States as it stands today.  I’m calling my project simply ‘Coexist’, for despite thousands of miles and oceans between us, we really are neighbors in todays global world, and as such, we need to find a way to understand, to coexist.  We rely on each other for trade, for security, and perhaps most importantly, for cultural understanding.  The U.S. has not been a very good neighbor of late, and most of us are well aware that our standing in the world is greatly diminished.  We know from the media how the leaders of other nations view us, but I want to know how the people of those nations, our friends and neighbors, view us, both as a nation and as people.  The first person to respond to my plea was my dear friend, David Prosser of North Wales in the UK, and today I am publishing his guest post.  Thank you so very much, David, for your time and effort, and for sharing your thoughts.


In answer to my friend Jill Dennison’s call, I am writing to give an opinion from abroad as to how Trump, and more importantly America are viewed these days.

It’s important to note that back in 2016 the American elections were the cause of more interest than usual because a woman was attempting to get to the White House and this time in her own right and not as the wife of a candidate. Would we see the President and her First Man? To be honest most of us gave little or no credence to Donald Trump as the nomination of the Republicans. This was the man who started the rumour that President Obama was not American born. Probably the vilest man in America. As the campaign wore on he started with a chant of ‘Lock her up’ against Hilary Clinton which seemed to overshadow any of her policies, but even so, he couldn’t win. When he had neo Nazis at his events, or KKK and could describe them in glowing terms you knew he couldn’t win. The American people had more sense.

He won, after the electoral college gave him their votes. The popular vote was for Hilary Clinton showing that Americans could vote for both a black man and now a woman to be President. But the electoral College votes were enough to overturn expectations. The worrying thing is that here was a man who had waffled his way through an election on an  unwarranted chant against an opponent and a call for a wall to be built between Mexico and the United States which Mexico would be funding. Most of us never took that as a promise made and thought Mexico would be surprised at Trump’s cheek. It appears they were and they quickly made it clear that no funding for a wall would be coming from Mexico. Trump is a fanaticist who just opens his mouth and lets any stray thought slip out.

We’ve all been following Mr Mueller’s efforts to find the truth behind the election and some of Trump’s mutterings. Within my own little group expectations are that we’ll find that Trump is heavily in hock to Russian banks and that he’s accepted a degree of help from his friend President Putin at manipulating the election. Certainly Russia spent an awful lot of money on the Social sites to bolster Trump’s campaign.

In the two years since he was elected Trump seems to have emasculated the US and turned it into either a laughing stock or a nonentity on the world stage. Trump has single-handedly removed America away from Europe and has canceled America’s promises from the Paris Accord regarding global warming. It amazes us that Trump seems to have declared friendship for the World’s greatest Dictators and have OK’d it for the States to become racist again. It appears the last 50 years have been wiped out and he black people are to be treated as inferior beings again. The worst thing is it looks like this was a feeling kept in the background just waiting to come out again. It’s also OK to want to deny immigration. A country built on immigrants now says ‘No More’ and attempts to block any Moslems from entering the country except Saudi Arabia which though it funds terrorism including the planes hitting the twin towers can do no wrong in Trump’s eyes. It’s still a major surprise here that despite the rubbish that Trump spouts, much of it deliberate lies, that approx 40% of the US continue to support him. At this rate he’ll sell America to the highest bidder before his term ends and retire to some isolated island where he and all his money can happily retire. The family can stay behind and face Mueller’s findings.

Know this, that most of the UK feels for you and wishes you were Trump free. The best we can say for now is Good Luck.Text dividers

Thank you again, David!  And thank you for the Good Luck wishes … after tomorrow night we may need them more than ever!  Now come on, dear friends!  I need a few more volunteers!  I promise it’ll be fun!