Tuesday, December 14, 2010

FIRST PERSON SHOOTERS

Yes, in West Van. Where the mayor lives. Ten people shot in a gang squabble just like in Mexico. How did so many young men in BC become criminal gang members? And how did they become first person shooters (the real name of some violent video games) in real life instead of living vicariously through the games they received from Christmas’ past like they were supposed to do? Am I blaming the violent video games for gangland behavior?

No. Only as a contributing factor. The main reason for gang violence is the same one that haunts Mexico. That all levels of government and business are still clinging doggedly to the business model of corporations which dictates in times of stress to downsize, computerize, and load off shore. Great. For the companies. But then what do Canadians, especially young people, do for jobs that will enable them to live reasonably?

Provincial and federal governments tell us that is a problem for the individual person even while they up the cost of living and education for all young people. So what can young people do when they can’t find jobs or earn enough to go to school? No answers from heads of banks, university or government economists. That’s because even the ones who recognize that we are all looking into the bowels of an economic upheaval won’t say so. Out loud. It takes a techie economist like Hank Williams (I don’t know if this Hank Williams sings) who works in, and reflects upon, how technology itself is bringing on a great upheaval. And to write about it.

In his article entitled : THE REAL PROBLEM WITH THE ECONOMY IS THAT IT DOESN’T NEED YOU ANYMORE: Williams says that due to technology It takes, and will take, many fewer people to produce goods for consumption, which in turn leaves the benefit of this increased consumption in the hands of fewer and fewer people. In 1995 Jeremy Rifkin (American economist and writer) wrote a book entitled THE END OF WORK. Riftkin said then what Williams is saying now. Work as we know it is being rapidly automated without consideration of the many young people trying to enter the job market. And too many young males are finding their own solutions to the problem.

Friday, December 03, 2010

THIS DANGEROUS PLACE: Where law and justice collide

     The BC Appeals Court has just brought down a decision on my sentence for blockading at Eagleridge Bluffs in 2006. My appeal was denied. And of course I’m disappointed. I’m always disappointed in the decisions of the BC Supreme and Appeals Court decisions concerning people’s struggles over trying to protect public and/or First Nation’s property. However, there were a few interesting comments in this decision.
     Mr. Justice Tysoe, in writing for the majority, with Madam Justice Rowles and Madam Justice Bennett concurring, wrote that the case law submitted by Michael Brundrett (Crown) comparing me to violent pedophiles thus: Page 5, no. 14, “As the Crown indicated at the hearing, those cases are relevant for the legal principles they contain concerning the limits of the scope of appellate review in sentence appeals and not for any other purpose.”
     But I have trouble with this. As I understand it, the scope of appellate review is supposed to compare like cases to like circumstance, not go wildly off the rails as Michael Brundrett (Crown) did by underlining the judge’s opinion in one of these cases suggesting that I could be compared (in his submissions for appellate review) to these cases and should be put away for life. At least Mr. Justice Tysoe, along with Madam Justice Rowles and Madam Justice Bennett, refused that option and mentioned that even my ten month sentence was high. And they did throw me another little crumb.
     The Appeal Judges did not seem convinced that Madam Justice Brown was right in refusing me credit for the month I spent in prison waiting for Cameron Ward to return from vacation at the beginning of my trial. I felt I was being unfairly criminalized without my lawyer being present and in a fit of pique rescinded my undertaking. Mr. Justice Tysoe wrote: Page 9, no. 29, “The rationale (for refusing me credit that could have been applied to my ten month sentence) was that it was Mrs. Krawczyk’s decision to remain in custody. I have reservations whether this approach is correct in principle…I think the point should be left to another occasion when the court has the benefit of full submissions.”
     I’m not sure at the moment what full submissions on this point might consist of but I will find out. Because there will be more of this governing by injunction as the Attorney General is apparently too lazy and morally lax to do his job while many First Nations and other environmentalists are gearing up for protest. And I will go with what the Justices of the BC Appeals Court have given me, meager it might be. I will apply to be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada. In other words, I will appeal this appeal. And I want to thank all of you who stood by me, who came to court, who spoke out, who wrote to the Attorney General’s office because you also love this land, the waters, the wild animals and forests of British Columbia as I do. And you love justice. How can we possibly lose?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Polygamy? Polyandry? Ha, ha!

BC Liberties Association, what are you thinking? I want to laugh at your application to the court to consider (more or less) legalizing Polygamy. But I can’t. The matter is too serious. Especially for young women born into fundamentalist religions. And for the rest of us, too. The very idea of young women being legally married off as second, third ,or fourth wives to old men or middle aged men, because their religion demands it, is sob story material. How can parents do this to their young daughters? No young girl wants to be married off in these circumstances. It’s unnatural. Youth calls to youth. Sadly, mothers don’t have much to say about this unnatural reversal of biological order. Their religion binds them to male rule. Fathers in Bountiful and polygamous inclined Muslim communities more or less trade their daughters or other young female relatives off in marriage as multiple wives to other favored men and in return, receive, or their other male relatives receive, a like compliment. Tit for tat. However, I think CBC Radio (On the Island) inadvertently (or perhaps by design) pointed out a flaw in this practice of extreme male privilege.

Yesterday (Nov. 23) the producers of CBC On the Island interviewed a woman who said she lived with two men. She favors the legalization of polygamy because that would open the door to polyandry (one woman with two or more husbands) and she would like to be legally married to both of her men. Well, again, tit for tat. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Or vice versa. Surely a Charter Challenge would also rule in favor of allowing equal opportunity for ever younger legal partners for women, too. And in these dire economic times a well-heeled older woman could easily attract a couple of younger men for husbands. And she could legally list them both as dependents on her income tax returns. Polygamist would also benefit hugely through income tax. Many Canadian Muslims are very wealthy. They would save huge amounts of money if they could claim their multiple wives legally. Ditto for the Bountiful men.

My research tells me that Polygamy is practiced where there is a desire for more children (besides the sex part) and as a result populations expand. Polyandry is usually practiced where there are scarce resources. Polyandry restricts the expansion of the population. It’s a math thing. One woman can only have so many children regardless how many husbands she has while one male theoretically can have a hundred or more with multiple wives. Now, it’s true Canada needs a bump up in population. But is Muslim polygamy the answer? Give me break. I could be wrong, but I don’t think the burden of populating Canada more densely should rest almost entirely on the shoulders of Muslim men (and Muslim women, too, of course) even if we pay them in generous income tax exemptions and other economic goodies.

But the potentially stickiest flaw in this scenario? Children get born. While Muslim men are smug sure of their paternity (the punishment for women straying is severe) the women in Polyandry marriages (even older women have babies these days) in case of divorce, would have to resort to medical tests to determine which of her husbands is the biological father. And if she is legally married to both, would this even matter? And you think visitation privileges are a nightmare now? Can you even imagine?

It’s true the Muslim community is rapidly gaining power and prestige in Canada, but in spite of the near passage of Sharia Law in Ontario last year (it was the work of Muslim women themselves who defeated it) the Muslim community cannot dictate to Canadians what our laws should be. Too bad when immigrating to Canada some of the men have such trouble trying to bring multiple wives into a country that allows only one. Too bad these men feel they are discriminated against in this county because they can’t legally have multiple wives. We are Canadians here. For God’s sake let’s stand up and act like it. Shame on you, BC Civil Liberties Association.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Is He Hitting the Bottle Again?


Just pondering. But Gordon Campbell actions are similar to those who are either just going into, or trying to climb out of, a drunk. And at 81 I’ve seen a few drunks in my life. How else to explain our premier’s reeling, radical political moves in the last few months? Of course just the fact of setting a provincial record for low approval ratings is enough to drive a body to drink. But if this isn’t the case (that our premier is drinking unduly and I have no proof that it is) then as citizens of this province we must try to make sense of Mr. Campbell’s actions.

But this is difficult. He’s going, he says, but he will be the one to say when. Perhaps as premier Mr. Campbell has other things to do before he goes besides just shuffling people and posts. He may even create more new posts. His latest new post is breath taking…the one that brings mining, forestry, river power, and of all things…First Nation Peoples into one big portfolio. And given his stated expectations that his people will follow his dictates even when he is no longer premier, it seems that Mr. Campbell plans to manage this portfolio, even from afar if need be.

This is scary beyond measure. Especially when Mr. Campbell doesn’t seem to realize that First Nation Peoples are people, not trees or rivers or minerals. To me Campbell resembles a drunken driver careening down a freeway with a bunch of unbuckled kids in the back seat. And we’re the unbuckled kids. We’re scared, but we need to ask the premier something. Like while he is taking back his rash promise that if we would be good kids and stop screaming he would buy us some ice cream cones (15% tax) but he didn’t have the money for cones anyway, having spent it at the Olympics Pub, dare we ask that he take back the HST before we hit that logging truck also careening down the road? And get thrown into that run-of- the- river dam? And be met at the hospital with the news there is no room for treatment for our massive injuries because the emergency was shut down last year and anyway there isn’t a doctor in the vicinity anymore?





Monday, November 08, 2010

Is He Outta Here? Really? For Good?


Is He Outta Here? Really? For Good?
No, not really. Well, his physical presence may be soon gone, but Gordon Campbell’s will to privatize and impoverish his corner of the world will live on for many years regardless of who runs in or wins the next provincial election. The generous tax breaks our premier gave before his early retirement will allow the HST to live simply because the provincial government will need the HST to keep from going bankrupt.
Gordon Campbell hates unions and adequate social services and taught others to hate them, too. Why? Because they take money from the private sector. He thinks the private sector is the ultimate in human development. Those at the top of the private sector make all the rules for everybody else including the government. Because they’re the smartest, Campbell thinks, therefor the best. They deserve more of what they already have. For them democracy is an unrestrained market where they can plunder at will. The result?
Now one child in three in provincial care goes to bed hungry at night. Private food providers who serve the elderly also serve the prisons. Mushy everything, scarce protein, heavy carbs. Slashed public schools, ferries, services to anything that helps women, children, the poor, homeless; we have the lowest minimum wage in Canada and the highest child poverty rate. And now just by an order in cabinet (laws put in place by Campbell) the provincial government has the power to take public lands out of Tree Farm Licenses, make them private, clear cut, export the raw logs and then sell the land to developers, minus consent of First Nations, or the rest of us, or even the legislature.
Gordon Campbell has lied and bribed. But there are corrupt politicians all over the world and Campbell is unusual only in one aspect. He has maneuvered to bring all of the natural resources of this province under one big controlling umbrella without even the knowledge, much less the consent, of his own cabinet.
And who is now holding this huge umbrella? Gordon Campbell. At least for the next few months. Time enough to make some really big deals with resource hungry foreigners. And who will stop him?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Violent Pedophiles and the Attorney General



Robert W.G. Gillen

Assistant Deputy Attorney General

Criminal Justice Branch


Dear Mr. Gillen,

Re: your letter to Mel Galea:

You assure Mr. Galea and others that the way in which Mr. Brundrett advised the Court on my sentence appeal was right and proper. You insist that by Mr. Brundrett's use of the cases of two violent pedophile sex offenders in comparison to my sentence for blockading at Eagleridge Bluffs was not at all meant to equate me with these two debased men with diseased minds.


I take umbrage with your protestations of innocent intent, but first, I am sure you will agree there are two kinds of law; statute law (Criminal Code) and case law (what other judges have decided on like cases). We also need to explain to others who may not know that on sentence appeal, the Appeal Court can adjust a sentence up or down, so there is always a risk of a greater sentence when appealing an original sentence.


And as you know very well, Mr. Gillen, but others might not, materials that are to be considered by the judges (three judges) on appeal are submitted in advance in writing before the actual court hearing. And because I brought the appeal I had to submit a Factum, that is, my reason for appealing, and it was per court rules; in writing. Again Mr. Gillen, as I am sure you know, but others might not, This Factum is extremely important as it is the primary information submitted by me upon which the judges will make a decision. After receiving a copy of my Factum, Mr. Brundrett then submitted to the Court his Responses to my Factum and his recommendations that the Court should follow in case the Court decides to give me additional time. And of course, Mr. Brundrett's written response to my Factum was the most important material the Court would see from the Crown's side.


And while it is true that Mr. Brundrett did not verbally say in Court that he thought I should be sentenced to life imprisonment or given a twenty-five year sentence like the violent pedophile cases he brought forth for comparison, he said it through Case Law. That is, in his written submissions to the Court which carries most weight ,Mr. Brundrett, by his submissions and comparisons, signalled to the Appeals Court that the Attorney General's office thought I should be given life imprisonment.


And the case that Mr. Brundrett emphasized in his submissions is as follows: In Regina v. M. (C.A.) , J.A. Jessup expressing the sentencing principal in Hill, at p. 147: " When an accused has been convicted of a serious crime in itself calling for a substantial sentence and when he suffers from some mental or personality disorder rendering him a danger to the community but not subject to confinement in a mental institution and when it is uncertain when, if ever, the accused will be cured of his affliction, in my opinion the appropriate sentence is one of life." And Mr. Brundrett emphasized the words "the appropriate sentence is one of life" by underlining them.


By emphasizing this section of Case Law Mr. Brundrett has accomplished two things: (a) he has equated my mens rea (my mind) with those of these debased men and (b) has attempted to anchor in the judge's minds the notion that I have committed like crimes (after all, repeated infractions of the law) and should therefore be similarly sentenced. If this were not so, why would Mr. Brundrett have submitted these two horrible cases as comparable to my own? And according to Madam Justice Brown in sentence of me (Page 2 of Madam Justice Brown's Oral Reason for Sentence [3]; ..."A sentence should be similar to sentences imposed on similar offenders in similar circumstances."


Mr. Gillen, I am not a similar offender nor am I, or was I, in similar circumstances as these two debased violent pedophiles presented to the court by your office and I am highly offended that you and Mr. Brundrett seem to think I am. Protest as you please, the case law that was submitted by your office to guide the Court in considering my appeal case is conniving and cowardly. Perhaps it reflects the attitude of the Attorney General's office only too well. Sincerely yours,Betty Krawczyk

Wednesday, October 13, 2010





The way the Court system works is a mystery to most people including me. It's the language, for one thing. It's in a special code. The biggest problem I have encountered is simply trying to break the code. Even after all these years of being hammered by legal language I am still puzzled by most of it but what I do understand, or think I do, I will pass along to you.

First, I asked the Court in my written factum, which must be submitted to the Court before the day of the hearing, that I be given a new trial with a jury. The Crown (Mike Brundrett who represents the Attorney General of BC) asked in his written response to my factum, by using case law (what other judges have decided in other cases) that the Court should consider that I be declared a dangerous habitual offender and given life. This was evidenced by Mr. Brundrett in his written response by using two cases of violent pedophiles who attacked their own children repeatedly. By this Mr. Brundrett accomplished two things:
(a) he associated my name and person with violent, debased men in the hopes of anchoring this message in the judges' heads
(b) he brought to the court's attention that I had repeatedly broken other judges' orders- which is what an injunctions is and which no judge likes to hear about.

I based my argument on two main things:
(a) that a summary process (which mine was) is defined in the Criminal Code as sentencing that does not exceed six months. I was given ten.
(b) when Madam Justice Brown ruled on my application that she would not allow for a jury trial, she was not considering sentencing me to over five years (which is the time frame for being eligible to apply for a jury trial) and yet the Crown came back on appeal and recommended to the Court, through case law, that I should be sentenced to life in prison. Only in his written words to the judges did Mike Brundrett recommend this and, sneakily, only in his written responses to the Court did he propose that I should be given life. And to make sure the appeal judges didn't miss his message, he emphasized "should be given life".

The appeal judges have reserved their decision. Of course I am hoping for a new trial with a jury, but failing that, it would be heartfelt hopeful if they gave me enough room in their decisions to take it to the Supreme Court of Canada. If they did, I would walk to Ottawa. I think...

In any case, I will be sure to let you know.

In the mean time, you can listen to my interview with the Current on the CBC regarding the appeal arguments:

http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/2010/09/sept-2210---pt-2-betty-krawczyk-case.html

Betty K

Thursday, October 07, 2010

What The Women In Prison Said



What The Women in Prison Said
Having spent a considerable amount of time in British Columbia’s jails and prison over eco-disputes (my objection to the rapid deforestation of this province) I have always listened to any conversation going on around me with the ear of a journalist (that’s what I am, in addition to being an activist). As the women prisoners accepted me as a criminal (after all, that’s what the Attorney General said I was), the inmates spoke freely before me. And I didn’t flinch from these women’s stories of child rape and family abuse, poverty, addictions, pimps, violence, gangs, and the means they employed to survive, as they were truth telling as they had experienced it. And at age 82 I am reasonably shock proof. Except one story I heard over and over from many different women, stories repeated endlessly in the prison compound and prison yard. It was about the Pickton farm and the murdered women.
At first I didn’t believe these stories, stories that went above and beyond the fact that an insane man had killed sex trade workers and fed them to his pigs. But the reasons behind this as described by the women, were simply too ghastly to be true. I dismissed the stories completely. The police, the RCMP, the provincial government just could not allow such things to happen as these stories suggested, the ones circulating in prison, especially in a civilized country and province like British Columbia. There just simply could not be any elevation of degradation beyond killing women and feeding their bodies to pigs. Even when a jury convicted Pickten of second degree murder because, as I understood it, they believed other people must have been involved, I did not want to give credence to these inmate’s stories. But lately, I’m not so sure. And these doubts have been prompted, by of all things, an article in the Times Colonist.
Sept. 29, Pickton inquiry already off track
“Former attorney general Wally Oppal is the wrong choice to head the Pickten inquiry. Its credibility has been dealt a serious blow before the work even begins.”
And the article goes on to point out that Oppal’s appointment creates a perception of bias and conflict of interest. As former attorney general he sat at the cabinet table and discussed policy issues that could well be part of the inquiry’s focus. And he defended the Liberal government’s position on policing and other relevant issues. When he was Attorney General he tried to keep evidence from an inquiry into the death of Frank Paul, a native man dumped in an alleyway and left to die and he was, until he was defeated 16 months ago, a partisan politician. That is, a liberal hack. And Oppal will not, according to The Times Colonist (hardly a left leaning paper) recommend for sweeping change, including a regional police force, and the very terms of reference will prevent the commission from addressing relevant issues like how did it happen that these women’s disappearance was treated so trivially by everybody in charge? The women I heard talk in prison think they know. They think the grisly truth is that criminal gangs were making “snuff” films at Pickton’s farm. Evidently there are men in the world who will pay big money for videos of women being murdered and dismembered. Could it be true? Well, certainly Wally Oppal’s commission won’t find out.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

For Harriet

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For Harriet
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Added on 29/09/2010
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Dylan has left a new comment on your post "BETTY LOCKED UP FOR LIFE?":

Hi Betty I wrote a song inspired by Harriet Nahanee. Check out the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osubQ4FmEeE
From Betty: Readers please watch this video. It's quite beautiful. I believe that Harriet's spirit still lives at Eagleridge Bluffs. And certainly her spirit lives with me.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

CLEAR CUTTING =LANDSLIDES AND FLOODS?


Clear Cutting = Landslides and floods?
Yes. Not always, but mostly. From Haiti to Pakistan to Mexico and to Port Alice, Port Hardy, Bella Coola, to…well, wherever there are massive mudslides and flooding the first thing to inquire is how extensive is the clear cutting in the area. Many of Haiti’s largest towns are primarily big mud holes because they have no trees left to hold back the rain from the mountainsides. There is speculation that the recent accelerated clear cutting of the forests in Pakistan is primarily responsible for the massive flooding there. Industrial forestry is swallowing up forests in every part of the globe including British Columbia and yet nothing seems able to stop it. It’s almost as if one giant chain saw is denuding the forests of the earth under various giant forest corporations and their smaller subsidies that contract out to even smaller independent subsidiaries. And usually with government subsidies (the money of all of us private people who together make up the huge public tax contribution to this province.) These subsidies from us is given to the very corporations who besides stealing our trees, are making mud holes.
And it is so unnecessary. Some countries are trying to move toward community owned (leased to a community of forestry workers) forests and forestry workers who know how and are willing to do selective logging. Without this kind of intervention, could British Columbia also become a province of giant mud holes where thriving cities and towns used to be? Of course. We have everything here to make that happen; the practice of clear cutting, dwindling forests due to over cutting, tree diseases, forest fires, and most of all, giant corporations determined to cut it all down even if that requires just shipping out the raw logs. And we have our uncaring provincial government who evidentially loves giant logging corporations, the bigger and more destructive the better, and an attorney general (political appointee) who will try to lock anybody up forever who dares protest. It a perfect storm of converging factors designed to denude British Columbia of what is left of our forests. And first Nations pride. And the beauty, health, and glory of British Columbia and its entire people.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

BETTY LOCKED UP FOR LIFE?


BETTY LOCKED UP FOR LIFE?
That’s what the Attorney General is asking the Appeal Court of BC to consider on Sept. 22 (forgive me, first poste said Nov.22, a terrible error when asking people to come support you, but it is Sept. 22) I appear to appeal my sentence from Madam Justice Brown. Yes, it’s true. They’re asking for life. The Crown (Michael Brundrett) has given the Appeal Court two cases to consider on how the Appeal Court should consider my appeal. Simply lock me up for life by declaring me a repeat offender, a dangerous offender, and re-sentencing me under a sentencing process of “combined offenses”. And the Attorney General uses case law in his requests to the court. Both concern men who are violent pedophiles who attacked their own children. Just look at this:
In appeal of the first case: (R. v. M. (C.A.)
Jessup J.A. (appeal judge) expressed the sentencing principal in Hill, at p. 147:
“ When an accused has been convicted of a serious crime in itself calling for a substantial sentence and when he suffers from some mental or personality disorder rendering him a danger to the community but not subjecting him to confinement in a mental institution and when it is uncertain when, if ever, the accused will be cured of his affliction, in my opinion the appropriate sentence is one of life.” And the Attorney General has emphasized the last seven words in the Crown’s response.
So here we have the Attorney General of BC asking the Appeal Court of B C to give me a life sentence because I had the audacity to appeal my sentence in the first place. But honestly, what annoys me the most is that the Attorney General of BC equates peaceful civil disobedience with the diseased minds of violent pedophiles who repeatedly rape their own children and in the second case, also sell the images. In other words, the Attorney General thinks I am a pervert who is rather the same as these two men and should be locked up for life. My mental or personality disorder that cries out for justice from the Attorney General, for protections of BC forest and streams is equated by the Attorney General with these two cases of men’s violence, incest, rape, and pedophilia. Could it be possible that the Attorney General doesn’t know the difference? My appeal on Wednesday is being ratcheted up by the Attorney General ( a political appointee) to a crazy point of desperation that if successful, would be such a black mark on Canada we would all suffer. Please come. Wed., Nov. 22, 9: 30, for a rally, 10: 00 for court. Supreme Court and Appeals, 800 Smithe ST., back steps corner Howe and Robsen. Love. Betty Krawczyk

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

A HEAD'S UP



Sept. 22, 9:30 am
Criminal and Appeals Court
800 Smithe St.
Rally at 9:30 on the back steps of the courthouse (Howe and Robson Streets)
...Court commences at 10:00 am

Come rally with Betty at the Appeals Court of BC. It’s an important court date for Betty and for all citizens who value the right to free speech and expression in support of our forests, waters, and wildlife.

It is also a date to honour the memory of Harriet Nahanee. Harriet Nahanee also planned to appeal her criminal sentence along with Betty for their actions at Eagleridge Bluffs, but instead, died a few short days after release from prison.

Although Betty has already served her ten month sentence for actions at Eagleridge Bluffs she is appealing the sentence on principal. Betty has been working hard on the appeal process and her day in court is September 22nd. She strongly believes that the BC government holds the specter of long prison sentences over citizens heads in order to keep people from using peaceful civil disobedience, when all else fails, to protect our forests and waters. This appeal is intended to help prevent future protesters from being victimized in the same Betty was.

Be there early, 9:30 am, Wednesday, Sept. 22. Criminal Appeals Court. 800 Smithe Street. Back steps of courthouse, Howe and Robson. Speakers. Bring your banners and drums. The courts hold the key to our being able to protest with dignity as a right of all.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

On Our Way to Mexico


On our way to Mexico?
For a visit to Mexico’s white, sunny beaches? Maybe. But aside from the beaches and colorful night life perhaps we should also look at the rising violence in Mexico that isn’t waiting for the night to fall. Most of us have become increasingly aware of the frightening, ever increasing, ever encroaching violence of the drug cartels in Mexico. That awareness was emphasized this past week by the murder of Rodolfo Torre Cantu. Cantu, a popular Mexican politician, was gunned down on June 26 along with four aids a few miles from Ciudad Victoria in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. Because of his opposition to the drug lords? That’s the story (The Guardian: 6/29/2010)
In my opinion, unless there is some drastic government action not only on the part of Mexico, but also Canada and the US, the entire North American continent could be headed into government of, by, and for, the drug cartels. Certainly as long as the War on Drugs is the order of the day, the murders, social unrest, and egregious corruption will rule along with increasingly compliant governments who work together to keep “The War on Drugs” operating. There are already drug czars in Mexico who pay the salaries of the police along with those of other municipal employees. In these instances the drug cartels have come not only to be stronger than their municipal governments, but to actually be their municipal governments. And they simply kill anybody who protests. And their domination is escalating especially as more segments of Mexican people come to the conclusion that there is little difference between the corruption of the illegal rule by the drug lords and the corrupt rule of their legal governments.
Can’t happen here? As long ago as 2005 there have been warnings of the influence of organized crime in and around Canadian harbours by RCMP (Van. Sun, May 14, 2005 article by J. Fowlie). The RCMP report said that organized crime was well entrenched in Canada’s three largest marine ports which include those of Vancouver and went on to state: “With these criminal elements exerting general control over their work area, law-abiding co-workers often find themselves coerced into cooperating in illegal acts or turning a blind eye. The intimidation tactics can also target customs and police officers.”
What on earth does this mean? That criminal elements have actually been controlling our ports to allow into our country whatever drugs, illegal weapons, even human trafficking as they please? Have Canadian ports become the very property of organized crime? What on earth is wrong with our government? With the RCMP? Too busy protecting the thousand person strong entourage Obama brought into Canada for the G-20? Too busy tear gassing concerned Canadian citizens who protested this outrageous expense (among other things)? Too busy to care? The only intelligent answer is to legalize drugs, all of them. Unless the world’s governments get up the guts to wipe out the black market on drugs organized crime will rule. And more of us will die as Mexican citizens are doing. Mexico is us.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Our very own four Stooges













Wonder why Stephen Harper seems joined at the hip to Israel? There are several reasons, but in my opinion the main one is religious. Which may sound strange as Harper is not of the Jewish faith. However Mr. Harper is a man of faith. He is an Evangelical Christian of the fundamentalist variety who literally believes the Bible prophesy predicting Armageddon. In her new book “The Armageddon Factor” by Marci McDonald, Ms McDonald describes how The Battle of Armageddon is described in the Bible (Revelations) as the final battle on earth between “good” and “evil.” The righteous is predicted to win, of course, even though the earth will be destroyed. But shortly before the final destruction the “rapture” will begin with Jesus Christ descending once again to earth. But none of this can come to pass, according to Biblical prophesy, until the Jews have gathered and have complete control over Jerusalem and environs. Harper is a quiet, literal believer in this biblical prophecy and is mindful of Genesis 12.3 “He who blesses Israel will be blessed, and He who curses Israel will be cursed”.
Sounds weird? Yes, because it is weird. We have a prime minister who most people don’t even realize is a fundamental evangelical Christian and that his religious beliefs are affecting Canadian policy in profound ways. Look at Stephen Harper’s record on women’s rights, environmental destruction, global warming, freedom of speech, drastic downsizing of funds for the public while handouts to private wealth goes on unabated and the slashing of democratic procedures in general that are making us look like smucks internationally. It is Mr. Harper’s private religious beliefs that are guiding public policies both at home and abroad. This is why Mr. Harper has not strongly condemned, or condemned at all, Israel’s deadly attack on foreign nationals in international waters.
The other three party leaders? Why are they are afraid to move on the matter? Fear of saying the wrong thing? Of alienating Canada’s Jewish population? But by not voicing disapproval of Israel’s actions are they alienating the Muslims? These three are paralyzed. None of them (Liberal, NDP, Green Party) are strong enough to actually voice disapproval of Israel. Is it possible they don’t know that it is wrong for Israel to attack unarmed foreign nationals in international waters? What is wrong with these three? Has the possibility of losing votes so paralyzed their consciences’ they truly don’t know right from wrong when it jumps up and hollers in their faces? So we have a fundamentalist Evangelical Christian at the helm who is rooting for the Armageddon and three wanabees in the wings who are afraid to voice disapproval. God and Goddess help Canada. She is going to need all the help she can get from her people as her leaders are without sense or moral compass.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

WOMEN IN THE WOODS AND RICK JEFFERY


WOMEN IN THE WOODS AND RICK JEFFERY
WOMEN IN THE WOODS originated around my kitchen table in Victoria back in 1999. I first met Rick Jeffery in 2003 during our blockade in the Walbran Valley on Vancouver Island when Jeffery was spokesperson for Hayes Logging. There was a series of meetings on the blockade line. I talk about these meetings in my recent book: “OPEN LIVING CONFIDENTIAL: from inside the joint “which resulted in a ten month prison stay (try the library or Goggle schiverrhodespublishing.com) for me. Jeffery got promoted.
Jeffery is now CEO for Coast Forest Products Association. And he thinks the HST will just be wonderful for corporate logging. Remember THE BAND and their recording of TAKE THE LOAD OFF FANNY AND PUT THE LOAD RIGHT ON ME? Well, the corporate world Jeffery represents is “Fanny” and we are the “me”. HST means the corporate logging world pays less tax now and we pay more. And the Corporate logging companies can continue to make stupid, uncaring mistakes in their methods of logging that have devastated the integrity of the public forests in this province with impunity. Like the banks, corporate logging companies are considered too big to fail and will continue to get hand outs from government, especially the Gordon Campbell government, no matter how corrupt. This province has been riddled with corruption in the forests since Honest Bob Summers, as he was called, was jailed for accepting bribes in return for a huge Tree Farm License. Sommers was the first forestry minister of BC. He got five years. But the corporate logging company who bribed Sommers was not indicted and even got to keep the Tree Farm License they secured through bribe money.
And the corruption continues in the corporate logging world. We see this in the way the First Nations are swindled out of their land rights and how thoroughly the old growth trees have been wiped out. We see corruption in the dubious swaps that allow forestry giants to take what they claim is their private land out of Tree Farm Licenses. And they neglect to mention that the corporations were granted access to most of the old growth on Crown lands in return for the initial inclusion. Now that corporate logging has sucked up all of the valuable timber the corporate owners want to swap back again. And the Camp bell government agrees. The forests are gone but the ruined and clear cut land can now be sold for development. To Campbell’s rich friends. And corporate logging was granted these vast tree farm licenses in the first place on the condition they must have mills attached. That stipulation no longer applies. Workers jobs are now hitching a ride with the raw logs that are being increasingly shipped out. I believe that the corporate logging in BC is so corrupt that there is no hope for it either morally or financially. The logging corporations are imploding by their own greed and lack of care for the workers and lack of respect for First Nations. We need to nationalize our forests along with our water and banking systems. If we don’t our country will eventually be as denuded as Tahiti and as broke as Greece.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

MOTHER EARTH AND MORALES THE DEFENDER


Mother Earth and Morales the Defender
Democracy Now reports how Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, addressed a world referendum in his country on the effects of global warming (April 21, 2010) and Morales’ words stunned me with their truth and purity. And just in time. For me, too many pieces of the puzzle were missing. Like why, oh why, do our own leaders highjack any real effective climate policies? And President Morales, an indigenous man of the people formulates a simple answer; it’s because the only free thing our western leaders believe in is the free market. And in this free market so beloved by our government leaders and corporations lurks the vehicle which stupefies the body politic. And what is this major vehicle? It is the stun gun of capitalism which dictates that the personhood of corporations tops the personhood of real persons.
The superior personhood of corporations is truly a remarkable concept. It’s why Stephen Harper can treat us like idiots. Why he can act like a god with no superior on earth or in heaven. Why Gordon Campbell can preach family values while living a double life; why these men feel protected by all of the forces of the universe. It’s because they consider themselves part of the clique of the superior personhood of the corporations and furthermore, they revel in it. These men also know that the mother of all corporate personhoods, the private banks of Canada, at least in practice, trumps Mother Earth and all of nature. How? By drowning us in compound interest. Compound interest charged by private banks keep the rich shrieking in glee and the rest of us scratching. But it has always been this way, hasn’t it?
No. We actually have a public bank. It’s called the Bank of Canada. It has the power to loan money to the Canadian government for all public expenditures. Without interest. Instead, at corporate insistence, the Bank of Canada loans the money (taxpayer’s money) it takes to keep our country going, directly to the private banks first, who then loans it back to the government. And not with simple interest, but with compound interest. So instead of taxpayers just paying directly for the government expenditures (transportation, infrastructure, and federal programs) we must also pay this original loan with compound interest. And all this compound interest money (taxpayers money again) of course now belongs to the private banks. This is why the private banks are so very rich and getting richer. And it’s a global phenomenon. In order to pay back monstrous debts of compound interest governments have no choice but to give way to the bank corporations on all levels, environmentally, socially, and financially, just as at the moment, Greece is in the process of capitulating unless the people find the guts to revolt. Bolivian President Evo Morales says the real enemy of Mother Earth is capitalism. I agree.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

HOW TO JUDGE A MAN'S METTLE?


True Indication of a Man’s Mettle?
How to judge a man’s mettle? Like the mettle of our premier, Gordon Campbell? In several ways. Take our west coast old growth rainforests. Where have they all gone? It seems to the logging corporations. These forests were at one time public rainforests. Now they are mostly corporate logged out lands just ripe for private development. But how do public lands become private developments? By orders in council. With just a few swishes of the pen by Gordon Campbell along with whomever is wearing the hats of forest or environmental minister at the time, men mostly ignorant of and disinterested in nature, as Gordon Campbell himself is. Another way to judge a man’s mettle?
By the way he treats women. Remember how Mr. Campbell dragged his wife out to front for him when he was convicted of drunken driving? What woman can forget that look on Mrs. Campbell’s face as she stood by her husband’s side, staring blankly into the cameras? And as far as I can determine, Mrs. Campbell hasn’t been seen publicly with her husband since. And it’s been years. Nobody talks about this. I wonder why? Isn’t a premier’s martial status a subject for public discussion? It is everywhere else in the world among politicians. This isn’t just lust for gossip, it’s because there is some sense among the general body politic that the way a man treats women, whether they are wives or current or past mistresses, indicates in some measure his very capacity for love and tenderness and fairness.
Okay, so maybe I am reaching here, but if the premier of this province doesn’t love or treat his wife fairly but pushes her out on the stage when he is in trouble, how can he be expected to love and protect our trees? Or our water? Our grizzly bears? Our wild salmon? Our children of whom one in five is below the poverty line? Our democracy? Our jobs? I wish Mrs. Campbell would come out on the public stage and speak to us. After all she is still, as far as any of us are aware, the First Lady of this Province. Maybe she could give us some insight into why her husband, who is supposed to be a businessman, is literally giving away our province for practically nothing.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A PERFECT STORM OF CORRUPTION


A Perfect Storm of Corruption
Well, corruption has been with us all along, right? Government, corporations, organized crime; we eat their life systems every morning for breakfast, so what? The “what” is that these systems are now converging to the point where nothing much can function except the corruption. And all these different branches of corruption sit atop the rotten carcass of our banking system.
Okay, talk of banking systems make people’s heads ache. It makes mine ache, too. Who the hell can understand the banking system? It’s like lawyer’s talk, or mathematicians talk, or physicist talk…it’s a whole different language. And that’s why we have to labour so hard to understand it. But understand it we must or we will shrivel and die as a people. Literally. Exaggeration? I stand accused. But I tell what I see and write what I think. And I, as well as others, can see the perfect storm gathering on the horizon.

The private banking system, domestically and globally, is the eye of the storm. Yes, we all know this at some level, and many are getting a real hate on for the banks because of the huge bonuses paid to the executives. But those bonuses are small winds compared to threatening tsunamis roaring over our oceans and lands because of The Royal Bank, Scotiabank, CIBC, Toronto Dominion and others. What’s so bad about these banks? The way they lend money. Money they don’t actually have. If they don’t actually have the money, you may ask, how do they give loans?
When any of us go in into a private bank ( 95 per cent of loans in Canada are given by private banks) to apply for a house loan (mortgage, or whatever) we are under the impression the bank has the money to lend to us. But they don’t. The tiny fraction of reserve they hold compared to what they have loaned out (four billion held in reserves nationally compared to the one point five trillion they have loaned out) they can’t possibly have the actual money to loan. So what do the banks do? They counterfeit some new money. Their own printing presses? Sort of. They write up official pieces of paper that says in the future you will pay real money back to them along with compound interest on your loan of their private bank bogus money.
Can we as a people comprehend that our banks are private Ponzi-like schemes that are threatening to implode and that we, as innocents, are collateral damage? And that it doesn’t have to be? The federal government is allowed by law to borrow from the Bank of Canada, the people’s bank. Without interest. Certainly not compound interest. Then why aren’t we doing business with our own bank instead of private banks that charge compound interest? Because our heads of governments and heads of private banks do business together, profit together, and are, with few exceptions, crooks together. If we can recognize this, as a people, then we can do something about it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

OhCanadamovie.ca And Me

OhCanadaMovie.ca and Me
This film by Dan Matthews of Mathewsmedia.ca is, for me, like a comet blazing across the sky of my understanding of our banking system. I started wondering about the banking system years ago when some renegade economic guy (Harry Browne, recently deceased) wrote a book in 1970 entitled “How to Profit from the Coming Devaluation”). I wasn’t impressed with the man’s libertarian attitudes, but I was impressed with his simple explanations of the banking system.
Harry Browne told me (so to speak) that whenever I put a hundred dollars in the bank, that this hundred would be loaned out and then when I spent the hundred myself there were now two parties spending the same hundred. Browne also clued me in on how going off the gold standard meant that the only thing backing the US banking system was faith in US production. Well, that seemed kind of iffy to me, even then. But now, with Dan Matthews telling me in this film OhCanadamovie.ca that the reason Canada is now in a debt position is because of the compound interest the private Canadian Banks charge on all loans. And then he goes on to tell me that these money loans that we think the banks actually have when any of us make a bank loan for anything is something the banks actually have on hand. It isn’t so. When any of us make a private bank loan (of which ninety five per cent of all loans in Canada are from private banks) they don’t actually have that money. Well, how can they say they’re giving you a loan of actual money when they don’t have it and then demand that you pay back compound interest on money they didn’t have in the first place, that they just generated out of thin air?
Well, it’s legal. According to an interview with Paul Martin on OhCanadamovie.ca the Bank of Canada Act (1934) was modified in early 1991-92 and then modified some more by Paul Martin a few years later until the private banks now don’t have to have any money in reserve when they make loans. Absolutely none. The outcome of this is that the banks have out in loans one point five trillion dollars while only keeping four billions of real money in the bank vaults. And the banks are collecting one hundred and sixty million dollars a day, including provincial and federal debts, or sixty billion a year. And this is real hard earned money from Canadian workers, not the fake money the banks created out of nothing in order to suck up real tax payer money. And the government doesn’t have to make loans from these private banks there is the Bank of Canada that belongs to the people and doesn’t charge interest at all to the government. Please watch this movie. It’s on YouTube. And an aside…I’m reading from my books at The Laughing Oyster Book Store in Courtenay on Vancouver Island Saturday afternoon at one o’clock. Anybody in the neighbourhood at that time, do drop in.

Friday, March 05, 2010

STEPHEN HARPER, LEO STRAUSS AND WHY PARLIAMENT GOT PROROGUED

Stephen Harper, Leo Strauss, and Why Parliament got Prorogued

Who was Leo Strauss? No, not a classical musical composer or some famous German politician. He was a political philosopher. He died in 1973. I know this because Donald Gustein told me so in an article published in the Tyee in August 2008. I kept this Tyee article because it seemed to offer clues to Stephen Harper’s thinking. In what way, you may ask?
The most important question, at least to me, is why does Stephen Harper think we’re all so dumb? The man has to have an extremely low opinion of public intelligence in general, and of citizens who try to take part in the political process in particular. But where did he get such a low opinion of us? How could Mr. Harper prorogue parliament not once, but twice without adequate explanation? The second time he used the budget as an excuse. He had to give the budget unusually weighty thoughts, he claimed. About how to keep everything essentially the same, it turned out, except more tax cuts for the banks and corporations. What is it that contributes to this Prime Minister’s thinking that allows him to do whatever he likes in whatever undemocratic ways he pleases because he assumes we, the body politic, are essentially stupid?
Enter Leo Strauss and his philosophy. Stephen Harper is a follower of Strauss, who according to Gutstein, believed in the inherent inequality of humanity: “Most people, he (Strauss) famously taught, are too stupid to make informed decisions about their political affairs. Elite philosophers must decide on affairs of state for us.) And that is certainly how Stephen Harper acts. He’s the elite philosopher and we’re the stupids. And he has friends in other followers of Strauss both in his own party and in the US: Paul Wolfowitz, head of the World Bank, ex-deputy secretary of defense under George W. Bush; Allan Bloom and Walter Berns who taught Wolfowitz all about Leo Strauss’ utter contempt for democracy at the University of Toronto during the 1970’s. In turn two of their students, Ted Morton and Rainer Knopff went on to the University of Calgary where they specialized in attacking the Charter of Rights and Freedom. The list goes on and gets entwined with “The Family” which is a Christian political organization in the US which believes that the elite win power by the will of God who uses them for His Own Purposes. This is also a powerful political group that loves dictators and loathes democracy. How is it that we as citizens allow men (and women) who work to bring down democracy in our own countries to come to such political prominence? Are the neo-cons right after all? Are we really so stupid that we can celebrate circuses (Olympic Games) while our democracy is burning? While our own life support systems, both economically and environmentally, are being shredded to the bone by dreamers of Christian “rapture” and Straussian elitist dictators? I personally do not agree that we are stupid. But I do think we are asleep and we have to wake up. Soon.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Schooling in the 3Ps?

Yes, that’s what the so called independent schools actually are, private schools that use public funds, which is characteristic of all public private partnerships (or 3 P’s). 3 P’s are designed to suck up public money for private gain. And private schools do just that in BC to the tune of over 200 million dollars a year (Vancouver Sun Feb. 17, 2010). Candace Spilsbury, Board chair of Cowichan Valley trustees is challenging the public funding of private schools (private schools like to be called independent schools because that suggests they are solely privately funded) and wants the over 200 million public dollars diverted to public schools instead. And indeed, why do we, as taxpayers, as citizens, put up with paying for private schools that are in the main, religious schools? Or private schools that are essentially college prep schools for an elite bunch of kids? Religious people who want their children to be schooled in a particular religion, or any religion for that matter, if fine as long as they pay for it. But they have no right to ask that tax dollars be taken away from the public schools that are hurting for just pencils and paper and are increasingly doing without physical education, art, music, and health programs including mental health programs. Why should the working poor and middle classes be forced to pay for Catholic schools? Why should we pay for Protestant schools, or any kind of religious schools? Or why should we pay for private schools that are essentially college prep programs with enriched programs of music, math, the arts or sports for a certain class of kids, to the determent of everybody else’s kids who are getting the shaft from the Gordon Campbell government’s total obsession with privatizing public assets… like our public school systems?

What has happened to the notion of excellent universal education with opportunities for advanced math, music, and art for all kids? Or are these now only for kids from richer families to exclusion of kids from ordinary income families? In other words, why are some kids in this province favored above others? Why are rich kids better than poor kids? Because that is, in essence, what public, private partnership schooling is about: that richer kids are better than poorer kids because their families are richer. I say this has gone on long enough. It’s time to even the playing field for all children and their families and for the provincial government to stop deliberately trying to create an upper class of elite people sucked from the struggles and scarifies of the working poor and middle classes. All kids are special. All kids need physical education, music, art, special attention to math, small classrooms and mental and physical health programs and counselors. Where is the money going to come from? From where it always has, from us. That over 200 million dollars of tax payers money going to private schools for the elite would go a long way to alleviating some of the deliberately created stress on the public school systems. This is something we can change. And I thank the Cowichan Valley trustees for bringing it to public attention.

Friday, January 29, 2010

LEGAL BROTHELS?

Legal brothels? Here? In BC? Well, Jody Patersen, Victoria Times-Colonist columnist thinks so (Comox Valley Echo Extra 1/29/10). And along with documentary filmmaker April Butler-Parry , she is urging citizens to consider the message of legalizing or decriminalizing prostitution. And they certainly have their supporters in Vancouver including the Civil Liberties Association. Patersen points out that escort agencies do sex work under a different name so why not just be up front about prostitution? After all, prostitution only affects consenting adults.
I submit, as mother and grandmother of young women, that all women, young and old, and even girls not yet born, are all affected by the fact of prostitution. Because it is always there, waiting for mothers who can’t make their pathetic welfare checks stretch far enough, waiting for na├»ve young girls with brutal home lives, waiting for poverty stricken women from foreign countries, along with women deliberately addicted to drugs by pimps and can’t cut loose. The fact of prostitution is awaiting all women when they look at empty cupboards. Some also hear hungry, crying, ill kept children when they come to a bitter truth…their romantic dreams of being cherished and respected by a particular man (most will have been deserted by their particular men) were lying dreams. The same male culture of the church, the media, the military, the corporations, books, music, movies, videos…all sing love songs touting male cultural devotion to women but then when cupboards are bare and children hungry and dreams smashed a different tune emerges…the same male culture dangles an alternative to women and children’s utter destitution…which is prostitution. But what about free choice, the brothel advocates asks. Shouldn’t women have free choice in the matter if they want to be sex workers?
No. Because it’s not a free choice. It’s a false choice. And women who understand the dynamics of prostitution should stop giving lip service to this concept in order to please other men. Most of the time females are pushed into prostitution and this is problematical on many fronts, including simply physical health. Even when the utmost precautions are taken there is always a certain amount of body fluids exchanged during sex consisting of semen, salvia, perspiration, blood, and even minute traces of urine and feces during intercourse, or other sex acts. Even if sex workers escape disease and the ever present threat of violence from sadistic customers, they run the increased risk of severe gynecological problems as they age.
Women are not physically constructed for daily, repeated, numerous sex acts with strange men and this sexual degrading of women, of any woman, degrades our entire society. My daughter, in her work for Save the Children authored a government report (Sacred Lives) on the age of females entering prostitution. The average age was fourteen. And one sees these children on the kiddie strolls in Vancouver as well as any major city. In my opinion women should be coming together to abolish poverty, not legalize it in its most visible, degraded form, which is prostitution. But how do we abolish poverty? Well, maybe we need a women’s revolution, not a women’s cheering section for meeting men’s increasingly hyped sexual need. Revolution is past due. Betty Krawczyk

Thursday, January 21, 2010

HARRIET NAHANEE HAUNTING SUPREME COURT OF CANADA?

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Sounds crazy, but this was the first thing I thought of when I read the Canadian Supreme Court’s ruling on the Red Chris mine in northern BC today. What does this mining ruling have to do with Harriet Nahanee, the elder Squamish woman who blockaded at Eagleridge and was sent to prison? Lots. If this ruling had been in place when the Eagleridge Bluffs Coalition tried to stop the destruction at Eagleridge by applying for a judicial stay, Harriet Nahanee may never have been sent to prison where she caught pneumonia and would probably be alive today.
On what do I base my assumptions? The Supreme Court has ruled that any environmental assessment done prior to any kind of development must be done comprehensively by both the province and the federal government, that it can not be done “in bits and pieces” as Lara Tessaro of Ecojustice Canada said today. Which was exactly how the environmental assessment at Eagleridge Bluffs was done, in bits and pieces. By this I mean the company (Kiewitt Sons Co) and the Gordon Campbell government in a public private partnership, only submitted one third of the area to be assessed before starting the job of dismantling Eagleridge. When the Eagleridge Bluffs Coalition asked for a stay until the entire assessment could be done on the whole project Mr. Justice Grist said no, one third was good enough. And that’s what happened to Eagleridge Bluffs. This new ruling is not all sweet song, as the horrific damage planned for the Red Chris mine operation in northern BC will go ahead. But at least this one, if we are reading the ruling correctly, will be the last push through by corporations and public private partnerships in BC ( hopefully other provinces as well) without any real, whole, comprehensive environmental assessments. What has come over the Supreme Court of Canada? Are they smoking something, or are they truly becoming a Supreme Court of the people? This is two rulings in roughly two weeks that smacks of sensitivity to citizens and the environment. Harriet, what do you make of this?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

HAITI, LET US LEARN!

HAITI, LET US LEARN!
As we have all been told over and over again by the media, Haiti is the poorest nation in the Americas. But what the media doesn’t usually tell us is that this poverty is, and was, deeper than corrupt leadership and a lack of financial and social structures. Haiti’s poverty, aside from lack of industrialization and competent government, is also the product of almost complete deforestation. Only one percent of Haiti’s former forests are still standing while on the same island right next door, 32 per cent of the Dominican Republic’s land area is in parks or reserves. And Haiti’s one percent is constantly under siege from people taking what few trees are left to make charcoal to cook food with. As a result of all of the deforestation in Haiti (re: COLLAPSE by Jared Diamond) the island nation also suffers , aside from the loss of the trees for food and building materials, soil erosion, loss of soil fertility, sediment loads in the rivers , loss of watershed protection and hence of potential hydroelectric power, and decreased rainfall. Environmentally speaking, the island nation was a wreck before the earthquake. As Tracy Kidder (recognized expert on Haiti) said this morning on CBC, with the massive deforestation in Haiti one big rainstorm can kill hundreds if not thousands of people in the flooding as has happened during hurricanes.
I am not implying Haiti’s deforestation caused, or had anything to do, with the earthquake. But again, Haiti’s people were in heartbreaking serious trouble before the earthquake hit. And this trouble was, and is, intimately entwined with the devastated physical environment. In addition to the money and supplies being sent to Haiti which is so very sorely needed, environmental agencies worldwide must, absolutely must, start a massive reforesting program in Haiti. Otherwise the forces of nature will continue to pound Haiti and make of it a very large mud hole which it was in the process of becoming from the hurricanes before the earthquake. International logging companies will happily log to devastation any country they can get access to, and work to promote this same mentality in the citizens. No country is safe from this mentality, certainly not Canada, as we look to our own mudslides and denuded landscapes in BC and the tar sands in Alberta. We can learn from the unfolding horrors in Haiti. Let us learn good and hard. Betty Krawczyk