Sunday, June 24, 2012

What The Extreme Right Doesn't Want Us To Think About

Although it hardly qualifies as a startling or original insight, something occurred to me this morning as I was reading my Sunday Star. Two front page items, one about the bullied bus monitor, Karen Klein, the other about five-year-old Lovely Avelus a Haitian girl rescued from the ruble of the earthquake two years ago, reminded me of a truth that is regarded as inconvenient in some quarters: we are a communal species.

While the hard right tries to get us to think only of ourselves, the better to promote its agenda of selfish isolation and rampant consumerism, the two aforementioned stories strongly help us to realize that when a face is put on human suffering, we respond with the magnanimity of a species that cares about each other.

It is a realization that our current 'government' does not want us to dwell upon as it promotes programs that largely depersonalize and objectify our fellow human beings. And it is always easier to ignore those people if they are not fully human in our minds.

Take, for example, some recent changes, either pending or already enacted:

Bill C-31, championed by Immigration Minister Jason Kennedy and coming into effect June 30, will see massive reductions in health care to refugee claimants.

SUBTEXT: Many of 'those people' are bogus claimants who are just trying to scam the system.

One of the more pernicious elements of Bill C-38, Harper's budget omnibus bill, is the change in Employment Insurance eligibility. This link from Sun News exemplifies why the government feels it can get away with these changes.

SUBTEXT: Jim Flaherty has said there are no bad jobs. Clearly, those who disagree with this program change are layabouts swilling beer and watching tv when they should be out 'pounding the pavement' like hardworking Canadians.

The changes In OAS age eligibility, far enough in the future not to affect anyone over the current age of 54, divides and conquers dissent. A sizable proportion of people will be unaffected, playing to their more selfish sides.

SUBTEXT: The government has repeatedly justified this change by saying that younger people should not be burdened with higher taxation to pay for the benefits of 'those people,' the older demographic.

So, by cultivating a mentality that thinks only in stereotypes, the Harper government is slowly but inexorably trying to convince us to abandon our traditional concern for the collective, one of the foundational values of Canada that makes it different from so many other countries.

Whether or not this agenda succeeds is really up to all of us, isn't it?


  1. I'd be hesitant to claim the Harpies carry any brief for younger Canadians, particularly those as yet unborn. The Cons are actually writing a future for those generations, today, that will be handing them the shit end of the stick and it's being written indelibly.

    Most of us - right, centre and left - try not to see it but the seeds of intergenerational strife, probably not more than two generations hence, are growing. It's not our seed corn we're eating, it's theirs.

  2. The younger generation that leans to the right are buying into the idea that they can invest their savings in the stock market and self-finance their retirement. That is well and fine for the few that don't have massive student debts and actually land decent jobs (the latter of which will become an increasing rarity with all those other Harper measures designed to drive down wages).