MY FINAL, REJECTED COLUMN FOR THE VANCOUVER COURIER

by Geoff Olson

“Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are dead.” – Aldous Huxley

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Disappointment!

A while back someone asked if I ever thought of running for office. I responded with laughter. For one, I’m chronically allergic to office politics and paperwork. I’d probably go into anaphylactic shock during Question Period.

If I did run at the federal level, it would be as an independent for a new party. Of course, given Trudeau’s broken promise on electoral reform, the “The Canadian Disappointment Party” may not get much traction. However, I’m not using this space this week to face facts, but to dispense alternative ones.

My pitch would go something like this:

“My fellow citizens, as leader of The Canadian Disappointment Party, running for a seat in Yet To Be Determined, I am asking for your support.

Politics has been described as the art of compromise. Stuff happens, circumstances change, people change. I will change too. So will other members of my party. Embrace the uncertainty.

I am right for the job. I have disappointed a wide range of people over time, from employers to friends to family. Again, not consistently and not completely –  just enough to raise niggling doubts about my intentions, my memory, and my character.

I will never promise to repeal the Law of Gravity or legislate against the Law of Large numbers. I will not attempt to flout universal truths that extend outside the political sphere  – and that’s a promise. My back-pedalled oaths will be more mundane.

So why should you vote for Geoff Olson? Because I am sparing you later disappointment. I will not raise your hopes only to dash them into the ground. I will not raise them at all. This is the age of diminished expectations, and I am its bendable action figure.

I already have The Canadian Disappointment Party’s campaign motto figured out: “Halfway Making It, Halfway Faking It.”

Expect surprises! If the only consistent people are the dead, I will prove to be wonderfully vibrant as party leader. Until I’m pushing up daisies or wheeled into the Senate, I promise bipolar levels of unpredictability.
 
When lobbyists descend like flying monkeys onto Ottawa, you can be sure they will find me as rubbery on my commitments as you do. When the monkeys attempt to lean on me because I have questioned trade deals that favour transnationals over the nation, they may find me either compliant or uncooperative. It’s impossible to say. I will drift in the wind in a manner impossible to predict.

As the poet G.K. Chesterton once observed, “angels fly because they take themselves lightly.”

As a spawn of Pierre Trudeau’s federalism, my leanings are soft socialist. I believe government should limit the worst excesses of the so-called free market, which is dominated by a handful of monopolies. Yet what passes now for Liberalism is an effete, gutless masquerade for principled opposition to the corporate dismantling of the state.

In other words, you simply cannot get into office without genuflecting before the Almighty Buck. So I will just say this: jobs, jobs, jobs. Make no mistake: at the end of the day, moving forward at this point in time, I promise a lot of them – great jobs for great people of this great country. Just don’t hold me to that.

I will flip pancakes, kiss babies, listen sagely to seniors, and display a giant, shite-eating grin before rented crowds. I will pledge to be all things to all people all the time, with a platform wider than USS Nimitz.”

Speaking of disappointment, this is my last column for the paper. Seriously. Found out after I wrote the above. It’s been a good run but I’ve been told the Courier is making room for new voices.

Following this news, someone asked something I’ve heard before: “why don’t you get into politics?” So I’ve given the above political pitch a rethink: perhaps there is a place for me in Ottawa, as a fly in the ointment, spanner in the works, and general annoyance. I’d be fronting for party that represents the disappointed, the disaffected, the laid-off and the pissed-off.

It may sound hilarious, but I’m not kidding. So if you think The Canadian Disappointment Party has real-world possibilities, or just want to drop a line about past articles, you can reach me below. Adios, amigos!

mwiseguise@yahoo.com


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UPDATE 

As noted above, I’ve been terminated as a columnist to The Vancouver Courier. The May 18 piece above, noting the news, was also rejected.

It appears my May 5 article, “Clark Government’s Record Dismal”, didn’t go down well with the owners, Glacier Media. In fact, the article was scrubbed from the Courier’s online edition days before the election.

The official story communicated to me – which I believe is trivially true  – is that the paper is making way for new voices.

Budgetary considerations were also likely in play. A month earlier, Alan Garr, a longtime contributor to the paper, had his column reduced from weekly to biweekly. My column was already running on a biweekly basis (reduced from weekly over a year ago) and I suppose the next print stop after biweekly is never.

It’s customary for long-time newspaper columnists to offer a farewell column to readers. Not in my case. The column  was nixed.

I will be continuing to contribute editorial cartoons to the paper until such time I’m replaced with Garfield or Nancy.

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CARTER’S HERESY

I recall how Jimmy Carter’s “Crisis of Confidence” speech of 1979, in which he argued for America’s need to develop alternative energy sources, was dismissed and lampooned at the time as a failure, with media commentators joking about putting on wooly sweaters and turning down the heat.  The overall message promptly went down the memory hole. (With the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, the solar panels came off the White House. They’re not likely to go up again under the current occupant, but even he can’t hold back solar power’s inexorable growth, and increasing take of the energy market share.)

I heard an extract of the speech in the recent Hollywood film, 20th Century Women, and was surprised at its power and prescience for a Presidential address.  Some of the transcript below…

“In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We’ve learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.


The symptoms of this crisis of the American spirit are all around us. For the first time in the history of our country a majority of our people believe that the next 5 years will be worse than the past 5 years. Two-thirds of our people do not even vote. The productivity of American workers is actually dropping, and the willingness of Americans to save for the future has fallen below that of all other people in the Western world.


As you know, there is a growing disrespect for government and for churches and for schools, the news media, and other institutions. This is not a message of happiness or reassurance, but it is the truth and it is a warning.


These changes did not happen overnight. They’ve come upon us gradually over the last generation, years that were filled with shocks and tragedy.


We were sure that ours was a nation of the ballot, not the bullet, until the murders of John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. We were taught that our armies were always invincible and our causes were always just, only to suffer the agony of Vietnam. We respected the Presidency as a place of honor until the shock of Watergate.


We remember when the phrase “sound as a dollar” was an expression of absolute dependability, until 10 years of inflation began to shrink our dollar and our savings. We believed that our Nation’s resources were limitless until 1973, when we had to face a growing dependence on foreign oil.


These wounds are still very deep. They have never been healed.


Looking for a way out of this crisis, our people have turned to the Federal Government and found it isolated from the mainstream of our Nation’s life. Washington, D.C., has become an island. The gap between our citizens and our Government has never been so wide. The people are looking for honest answers, not easy answers; clear leadership, not false claims and evasiveness and politics as usual.


What you see too often in Washington and elsewhere around the country is a system of government that seems incapable of action. You see a Congress twisted and pulled in every direction by hundreds of well-financed and powerful special interests. You see every extreme position defended to the last vote, almost to the last breath by one unyielding group or another. You often see a balanced and a fair approach that demands sacrifice, a little sacrifice from everyone, abandoned like an orphan without support and without friends.

…..…

We are at a turning point in our history. There are two paths to choose. One is a path I’ve warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self-interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others. That path would be one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility. It is a certain route to failure.”

https://www.cartercenter.org/news/editorials_speeches/crisis_of_confidence.html

CLARK GOVERNMENT’S RECORD DISMAL

by Geoff Olson

Does British Columbia premier Clark deserve a second chance from voters?

Considering her personal record of alternative facts and flimflam, along with her government’s serial scandals and scams (some inherited from her Liberal predecessor Gordon Campbell) the answer has to be a resounding no.

For starters, there was Clark’s $50,000 annual stipend for attending BC Liberal fundraisers, a perk she dropped only after it became a “distraction.” Integrity BC’s Dermod Travis discovered that over 12 years, 177 companies donated more than $100,000 each to the BC Liberal party, for a total of $54 million. These companies netted $15 billon dollars worth of contracts from the government, Travis revealed in his recent e-book, May I Take Your Order?

Gifts from corporations, unions, and even foreign governments, illegal in jurisdictions across the world, is just business as usual in BC: a “cash for access” free-for-all that rebrands representative democracy as a high-end shopping spree.

The real estate sector has been responsible for the largest net donations the BC Liberals, to the tune of  $12 million dollars over 10 years. That  might explain the presence of real estate reps on Clark’s May 2016 junket to Asia, along with her government’s failure to adequately address BC’s housing affordability crisis.

The extraordinary cynicism of the Clark government was revealed prior to the last provincial election, with the leak of a memo sent from the email account of Clark’s good friend and then-deputy chief of staff Kim Haakstad. The Liberal campaign strategy involved “quick wins” by targeting ethnic voters with public apologies for various “historical wrongs.” Nothing to see here folks, no independent investigation to follow – as in the 2015 case of a Liberal staffer triple-deleting emails concerning BC’s Highway of Tears.

Then there’s the premier’s nonstop posturing about “100,000 jobs” created by the vapourous LNG economy, with zero plants completed. Clark not only projected a Bizarro World $100 billion windfall from LNG, she has painted it as a green energy alternative, which is only possible by dismissing pesky externalities, like the massive energy inputs and environmental degradation involved in LNG extraction, processing and transportation.

On it goes: Clark’s false accusations of hacking attacks by the NDP, the firing of seven health care researchers under mysterious circumstances, nixing the disability bus pass annual fee, and the child deaths in foster care. Oh, and her farcical promise to run “the most open and transparent government in Canada.” Can’t forget that one.

But for my money – and yours as well, in the literal sense of the word –  the single biggest scandal is now underway, with construction of the Site C Dam in the Peace River region. Taxpayers will be shelling out $8.8 billion dollars for one of the largest infrastructure developments in Canadian history: a fiscal Rube Goldberg device pegged to supply energy to the fantasized LNG industry.

“You don’t even have to think very much about the environmental and aboriginal costs of Site C because the economics are so awful, ”Harry Swain told The New York Times. He should know, as a former federal deputy minister and chairman of a government environmental panel appointed to review the project.

In 2015, Christy promised to get Site C “past the point of no return” before this year’s election. Yet three researchers, including Karen Bakker, head of UBC’s program on water governance estimate, recently concluded that suspending or cancelling the project would save taxpayers between $500 million and $1.65 billion.

The BC Utilities Commission has rejected Site C once before; no doubt this is why the premier hasn’t submitted it for review by the public utility regulator. NDP Leader John Horgan, while dithering on a decision on Site C, has said he will put it before the commission if elected. No guarantee, but it’s better than what our debt-friendly Liberal leader is offering: a tide of red ink that will make the NDP’s infamous fast ferries from the late nineties seem like a child’s fleet of paper boats.

A second chance for Christy? Perhaps as an AM rage-radio host, but not as premier. We’ve had six years of her government attacking the commons while dispensing corporate welfare to big-money benefactors. Reelection will only encourage the Libs to go medieval on our assets.

The Vancouver Courier, May 4