Saturday, April 30, 2011


The Bible says many things. Among them, Jesus said there would always be poor people (the inference is that we mustn’t get too excited about them). The Bible also says that servants must obey their masters. And that wives must obey their husbands. Sweet. Rich Christian fundamentalists, who literally believe this, get to be kings on earth before they even get to the Rapture part, the point in the final Biblical blood baths (Book of Revelations) where they rise up into the sky with Jesus. Having finally escaped this convoluted thinking that saturated my early life in the US, (my father was an fundamentalist preacher) I now find myself living under the guidance of a Canadian prime minister who also is a member of this fundamentalist Christian club, one who believes literally in the Bible, particularly the Book of Revelation that gave us the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Revelations: 6:1-8).

These Four Horsemen have always made my head ache. The horsemen each ride different colored horses; white, red, black and ashen. And it is Jesus himself who sends these horsemen out to wreck terrible havoc upon the world, especially the ashen horsemen who has death written over him and is given authority to kill (by Jesus) with sword and pestilence and famine and wild beast. Fancy that. Whatever happened to the notion of “gentle savior?” Isn’t this a tad contradictory?

Nevertheless, the story of the Four Horsemen in the Book of Revelations is what fundamentalists believe literally, including Prime Minister Harper. And to buttress up Harper’s belief in these futurist horsemen, he has his own literal four horsemen waiting in the wings. These are the four judges of the Supreme Court of Canada he will appoint in the next four years to replace four retiring judges.

These new judges may be in many respects seem much like any other appointed judges except they will share one mind set because Stephen Harper will only appoint judges who believe as he does. They will perhaps belong to different churches, but will essentially hold very similar beliefs. They will believe abortion to be wrong and will rule against it. They will believe same sex marriage to be wrong and will rule against that too, along with most other rulings on Charter Rights. These are the four horsemen we must fear, not Biblical ones. Stephen Harper’s judicial four horsemen must not be allowed to ride. We must send out our own horsemen of hope and change, and not be dismayed by Harper’s Four Horsemen of death and destruction. And it is our vote on Monday that will halt Harper’s ride. Please let’s do this. Anybody but Harper.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Stephen Harper reminds me of the Cholla cactus in the Arizona desert. Cholla needles are fiendish. They seem to literally jump into one’s flesh. The needles have little barbs at their points containing tiny hinges. Once embedded in one’s flesh the tiny hinges open out. This prevents an easy removal and causes much pain. But desert creatures can also hide behind Cholla, potentially more dangerous things. Once when walking I stumbled upon a nest of rattlesnakes, half a dozen or more, behind a large patch of Cholla. The Cholla was readily visible, I could easily walk around. But when you are surprised by a partially hidden nest of rattlesnakes, and even if only one is coiled, you daren’t walk around. Or walk at all. If you are lucky and keep your calm you can slowly, very slowly, back away without harm. Which I managed to do in spite of fear and trembling and lived to tell about the adventure.

Only we (especially women) don’t have time now to slowly back away from a potential nest of rattlesnakes we may be facing, and soon. We must brave the Cholla and swiftly take the rattlesnake nest by surprise. I’m talking about the federal election, of course. But what’s so different about this federal election? Because if Stephen Harper gets a majority, and maybe even just re-elected, we can kiss good bye many of the most important gains women (and men) have made in the last twenty year in human rights. How so? Because Stephen Harper has access to a nest of his own private rattlesnakes. When he says he will not open the abortion debate, or allow a private member’s bill to even come forward it’s because he doesn’t have to do these things in order to knock down women’s right to safe abortion. In fact, he hardly has to do anything to re-criminalize abortion.

How? Only by carefully and selectively appointing four new judges to the Supreme Court of Canada. It was a group of thoughtful and fair minded Supreme Court of Canada judges that knocked down the criminalization of abortion in the first place. But there could be a huge shake up in the next few years in the make-up of this court. Four Supreme Court Judges must retire within the next four years because of age requirements. And who will appoint the new Supreme Court judges of Canada? The Prime Minister. And if reelected, that will be Stephen Harper.

If Stephen Harper gets re-elected, especially with a majority, we can expect him to appoint new judges who are ideologically and/or religiously opposed to abortion just as he is. By achieving his objective this way, he can say he didn’t personally bring in the legislation to make abortion illegal again, that it was done by the Supreme Court of Canada. I believe most judges try to be. impartial. However, judges are people like everybody else and bring to their work their own belief systems just as everybody else does. I have experienced many times how the belief systems of too many judges in BC (most are former corporate lawyers) enables them to rule to the right (in favor of the logging corporations) in their judgments on environmental issues because that’s where their beliefs are. And Stephen Harper will certainly seek out the judges who share his views on abortion and homosexuality.

Stephen Harper belongs to a fundamentalist church (Christian and Missionary Alliance Church) that strongly opposes abortion (note: Harper wouldn’t allow abortion to be part of the overseas maternal health program). This church also strongly opposes divorce, condemns homosexuality, opposes universal day care centres, won’t ordain women and believes that Jesus Christ’s return to earth is immanent and that those who aren’t “born again” will be lost in a lake of fire. I think it fairly safe to assume that Stephen Harper will seek to appoint judges that reflect his own personal and/or religious beliefs especially if he is reelected.
But there are enough women in this country to stop Stephen Harper cold at the voting booth. Let’s do it. Just think of four new judges on the Supreme Court of Canada bench with Stephen Harper’s religious/ ideological mind set and how they will rule on issues concerning abortion and same sex marriage. Sort of like a nest of rattlesnakes all coiled to strike? Metaphorically speaking? Isn’t that enough to stoke up your much maligned latent (or overtly) feminist heart, men and women alike? And make us all decisive in the voting booth.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Courting the Ethnic Vote

It’s disgusting. And truly frightening the way our politicians, particularly the Conservatives, are courting the ethnic vote. Listening to the spinners on CBC on the Michael Enright talk show this morning (April 17) about how politicians must get close to, and sympathize with, the value systems of ethnic communities gave me painful pause. Especially when Michael and his guests started talking about how politicians should be courting the Sikh community. And then I remembered, oh, yes, the Vaisaki parade in Vancouver on Saturday.

Everybody was there, including Prime Minister Harper. Mr. Harper even shouted the Sikh religious slogan “Wahegurujji Ka Khalsa, Waheguruji Fateh” amid applause (IANS). And also in attendance was our provincial premier Christy Clark and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and even Ujjal Dosanjh. Ujjal Dosanjh, what were you doing there? I wondered. Some Sikhs are threatening to kill you because you oppose their separatist ways. However, this Vaisakhi parade was in Vancouver. The real parade, the one our politicians wish would drop off the face of the earth, will take place on April 23 in Surrey.

And who or what do the separatists Sikhs want to separate from? Canada? Yes, but first, they have to separate from India. Their hearts are still back in the Punjab State of India. This is what they are fighting for, a country of their own in India. And our politicians who in previous years have been troubled by the Vaisaki parades because they raise banners and photos of their fallen heroes in their separatist cause, including the assassins of Indira Gandhi (she was shot by her Sikh bodyguards), and the Air India Bombers, have recently turned to jelly.

Even though Canadian courts have established that a Sikh (Talwinder Parmar) was the worst mass murderer in Canadian history, as he was the master mind of the bombing of Air India, our politicians haven’t had a lot to say about it. Parmar’s organization (Babbar Khalsa) is officially condemned as a terrorist organization by the European Union, India, the US and Canada. Which raises the question:. how can a mass murderer, condemned by Canadian courts, be openly honoured as a hero in this country in a public parade (see picture, Parmar is featured third from right) without our political leaders, both provincially and federally, including the Attorney Generals, making any serious complaint? And seeking to forbid such a thing, along with threat of prison? Any other group, if publicly celebrating mass murder and political assassination, would promptly be treated to the inside of a courtroom and then prison cells.

The Sikhs are gaining power. They now number around four hundred thousand in Canada and half of them live in BC, mostly Surrey. They are the fifth largest religion in the world and fastest growing religious group in Canada. And they are perceived by politicians, to be a single voting bloc, extremist and all. Which may be why our politicians are fluttering like the sweetest butterflies around these Sikh leaders who applaud violence and who seem to care mostly for gaining enough power on these shores to convince India they should have their own state. And is this the reason why Mr. Harper was shouting Sikh religious slogans at Saturday’s parade (IANS April 16) when he should be pressing for investigations into the extremist religious community leaders who are willing to kill our own politicians who oppose them? Well, in my opinion Harper would do just about anything for that block of Sikh votes…sing, walk on his hands, bark like a dog. He may even be willing to ape Gregor Robertson and don a Canuck jersey. Although I’m not sure what that Canuck jersey had to do with the Sikh religious parade and celebration but it did suggest that the Vancouver Vaisakhi parade was probably a white bread version of the real thing.

So this was probably safe enough for the politicians, far from the troublesome banners and placards that will be raised in the real parade on April 23 in Surrey. And how will our law and order prime minister (tough on small crime, soft on the big stuff) and survivalist Christy Clark (BC Rail? No, thank you, reporter, we won’t be having a public investigation into BC Rail) both will simply ignore the whole other parade and pretend those banners and placards on the 23rd that celebrate assassins, mass murderers, and criminal threats (the very definition of terrorism) just aren’t happening. But the show will go on. It may eventually come back to haunt these same politicians. And when it does I think both of the Vaisakhi parades may have some mighty sharp teeth.

- Betty K

Monday, April 11, 2011

Where is the Voice of the Environment?

Where is the voice of the environment in the National Debates? Locked out, that’s where. The major broadcast media, including our very own CBC, has elected not to include Elizabeth May in the debates. I am shocked by the decision of CBC. This is our own public media. We pay for CBC with our taxes. Stephen Harper has been trying to shut down the CBC ever since he’s been in office. He doesn’t like all those nature programs that point to the very global warming he doesn’t believe in. The End Times he believes in (the book of Revelation) will come primarily through wars and not through global warming. So it follows that Harper will happily send us into wars but not into environmental protection. And it appears that CBC has caved under Harper’s influence. The CBC, Canada’s very own public radio and television has decided that Stephen Harper is right after all and Elizabeth May should not be heard across Canada.

I’m embarrassed by and for the CBC. They ain’t what they used to be. When I first came to Canada, forty odd years ago, I clung to CBC for the straight and fair goods. I don’t have tv on general principals but I still listen to CBC radio. However, I am increasingly finding that if I really want to know what is going on in the world I go to my computer and click on Al Jazeera English, BBC, and Seattle Public radio. I have come to social media hesitantly but am beginning to think that in the final analysis, as our country becomes more Fascist under Stephen Harper (the definition of Fascism is a situation where state government, along with corporations and banks, and the police and military merge to the point where they become a single entity) social media may be all we can depend on in the future. This is happening nationally and provincially.

Before Gordon Campbell left office he made sure of one thing. That he would leave a new ministry structure that would expedite the sell-off of our public forests, streams and lands to multinationals, some through Public, Private Partnerships, others through outright sale. This new ministry is called The Ministry of Natural Resource Operations and besides the management of lands, water and forests, it includes the management of First Nations. A strange mix, right? Can’t the BC Liberals tell the difference between trees and rocks and human beings? To them it doesn’t matter, First Nations are to be managed just as the trees and rocks and streams are so they must be included in and managed by “The One Land Manager” program described in the service plan (Ministry of Natural Resource Operations).

And who is to be the “One Land Manager” in charge of all of our natural resources that bizarrely includes First Nations people? One man. Steve Thomson. He is listed as the head of this Monster Ministry that will make any and all decisions concerning our public properties with the click of one button. But is Steve Thomson a head or a tail of this Monster Ministry? I suspect he is a tail, as is Christy Clark, both of whom will do the bidding in important matters of the same old crew, the ones who hold true influence in BC, the ones who really head the Monster Ministry. The ones who brought us the Olympics, expanding gambling and compromised health care and the unbelievable acceleration of clear cutting of our forests. And meanwhile, Elizabeth May isn’t even allowed to debate on National TV. And who else among the party leaders will forcibly proclaim that there will be no jobs on a dead planet and we must stop the destruction? Don’t hold your breath.

- Betty K

Monday, April 04, 2011


Yes, the New Prisons are for us.

Else why would Harper be building so many? Especially when statistics show that violent crimes have actually gone down in Canada? I believe Harper’s big investments in prisons (up to ten new prisons, expanding old ones; billions of dollars) are to alley his worst fears of the Canadian people. Fears? Yes, in my opinion, I think that Harper fears public reaction to his future economic plans and that the prisons will be primarily to accommodate a wave of public protest against the joblessness and finale cuts in social programs he will make if reelected. And Harper’s uncompromising political agenda is buttressed by his religious ones.
Stephen Harper is a fundamentalist evangelical Christian of the Dispensationalist variety, that is, one who holds a literal belief in the Bible, particularly the Book of Revelations. This book describes the Armageddon, a name given to the events prophesied to occur when the earth’s people will be in total chaos and Jesus will return and create the “Rapture” for believers. And non- believers? Well, they get to perish in a river of fire. And I believe that Stephen Harper’s brothers in faith, Stockwell Day and Chuck Strahl (and supported by Jimmy Pattison who is rumored to be the richest man in BC) are returning to British Columbia to prepare for the Second Coming.

It can be argued that Mr. Strahl’s return to BC is connected with his asbestos related cancer, but this did not diminish his enthusiasm for Canadian asbestos mines and the perceived need to export it to poor third world countries whose people, in turn, will sicken and die from asbestos. I think this a rather peculiar, uncaring position to take, and until his decision to return to BC with Stockwell Day, Mr. Strahl insisted that he would run again. In my opinion, Harper called an election (by refusing input of the other parties) because he foresees another Armageddon, a financial one this time, perhaps to proceed his expectation of the Biblical one, when (if) he is reelected.

The financial Armageddon has to do with the high Canadian dollar. As of today (April 4th) the Canadian dollar is worth one dollar and three cents US (and climbing). But that’s good, right? To have a strong Canadian dollar? Yes, if we’re shopping in the US, but no, if our jobs and very livelihoods depend on exports. As everyone knows we Canadians live primarily by exporting our natural resources…wood, water, oil, and minerals. But when the Canadian dollar is so high then our exports are not as competitive in the world market and then many of our commodities just sit, waiting for the market to change. The market seems loath to change at the moment but it must be made to do so fairly soon or Canada will go broke. How to make our dollar go down?

Two ways...the Bank of Canada (or in reality our domestic banks) can print more money which would gradually devalue our dollar until it gets pushed down below par with the US. However, this would cause hyper-inflation. Or there could be some sort of readjustment at the Bank of Canada that would be the equivalent of an immediate devaluation. And that would be that. No more great American shopping and anything imported would cost lots more. However, some jobs might pick up immediately as more commodities would be shipped out. But, as always, the CEO’s and stock holders of our great international resource sucking corporations will take the money and run.

Perhaps those of us Canadians, who can, should go ahead and shop south of the border while our dollar is high. My guess is that if Stephen Harper is reelected the Canadian dollar will immediately plummet as he will not resist the demand from the corporations who own us to devalue the dollar (in cooperation with the banks, of course, and their obscene profits) and cut more corporate taxes (like they pay a lot now).

And the Stephen Harper, Stockwell Day, Chuck Strahl, Jimmy Pattison fundamentalist brand of religion will flourish in British Columbia. The condition of the majority of us will resemble the condition of First Nations on contact…the exploiters take the land and resources and give us the Bible. Particularly the Book of Revelation. And if we vehemently object then yes, Harper’s new and expanded prisons will be waiting.