Good Sunday Morning!
What a week!!
Before diving into the events south of the border, I do not want to ignore the week’s events here.
In some parts of the country more than others, but everywhere, we face very worrying trends in COVID19. Ontario Premier Doug Ford called the projections “scary” but left the people of Ontario to wait until next week to see what additional measures are planned. To state the obvious, we do not have COVID under control.
I feel I must share this one story. It reveals the layering of injustice, economic disparity, and the scandalous treatment of our seniors (which Green leader Annamie Paul has highlighted repeatedly) in one news item. https://www.greenparty.ca/en/media-release/2021-01-05/green-party-leader-annamie-paul-calls-prime-minister-convene-emergency.
It is the story of an outbreak of COVID in an Ottawa homeless shelter. The outbreak was caused by long term care workers, paid so poorly that they were homeless. They brought COVID from their workplace in Long Term Care to the shelter.
“It turns out that they live in a shelter, but they work outside of the shelter. They just can’t earn enough money to afford Ottawa’s rental circumstances,” Dr. Jeff Turnbull, the medical director of Inner City Health, told Ontario’s Long Term Care Commission last month.
Just think about that and let it sink in. Annamie is right. We have a humanitarian crisis in LTC and it impacts the seniors who live there and the people who care for them.
But what a week this has been. Was it only a week ago I wrote you: “Some things are as near certain as they can be. Things are going to get better. Trump will leave the White House (still worried he’ll try to start a war with Iran on his way out…)”?
Got to say, didn’t see inciting a riot and an attempted coup on the horizon. But I did know Trump is dangerous.
I called out Trump for inciting violence. I called out Trump as a racist and I called for an inquiry into the increase in white supremacist groups here in Canada. I called for them to be treated as domestic terrorists:
“If we’re looking for real action, things that we can do… I call on us to have an inquiry and an examination, to root out white supremacist groups in Canada, and identify them for what they are: a terrorist threat in our midst. And make sure they’re not in our police forces. Because if there’s one thing scarier than a white supremacist with a gun, it’s a white supremacist with a gun, in uniform.”
But I did so seven months ago in this speech in parliament:
It is good to see that the NDP now agrees with Greens that we need to take white nationalist groups in Canada seriously as a threat.
Even with my warning about Trump as a danger, I did not imagine that he would incite a mob of white supremacists, gun rights enthusiasts, believers in crackpot conspiracy theories aligned with something called Q, and Holocaust denying lunatics to attack the US Capitol building itself. But some people did.
An amazingly prescient U.S. journalist – or maybe just someone paying attention – wrote this on December 21, 2020:
“On January 6, armed Trumpist militias will be rallying in DC, at Trump’s orders. It’s highly likely that they’ll try to storm the Capitol after it certifies Joe Biden’s win.”
That journalist is someone I had never heard of -- Arieh Kovler. (ariehkovler.com) The only element of his prediction that was wrong was that the Capitol was violated while the vote count was underway and the win not yet certified. It was moving and inspiring to see the congressmen and women return to the Capitol and complete the certification of the vote – working until 4:30 AM.
But if a journalist could see it coming, how did the security forces, FBI and Capitol police miss the warning signs? It is hard to imagine some of that was not deliberate and even tied to Trump’s post-election replacement of key people at the Pentagon.
Others continue to warn that the danger of Trump fomenting violence is not over. Twitter and other social media predators say so. The weirdness of digital giants taking Trump’s toys away while the levers of the power of the presidency (nuclear codes?) remain in his hands is mind-boggling. It does raise issues of freedom of speech – as such tools become an indispensable part of democratic discourse. The American Civil Liberties Union, no fans of Trump, raised concerns about Twitter’s actions.
Another warning should be noted by authorities. Chris Krebs was Trump’s head of cybersecurity until he was fired in November for saying the election was fair. Krebs warns of more bloodshed from Trump supporters leading up to the inauguration January 20th. https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/chris-krebs-warning-donald-trump-violence_n_5ff95f5dc5b6c77d85e6e8a1?ri18n=true
We hold our collective breath and pray for stability south of the border. For sanity. Thank heavens two Democrats were elected in the Georgia run off for Senate seats. As we all know that takes away the Republican majority in the Senate and clears the way for more speedy approval of Biden’s proposed Cabinet members, including the next Attorney General. The next AG will be Merrick Garland. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jan/07/merrick-garland-joe-biden-attorney-general
Garland was proposed by Barak Obama for the U.S. Supreme Court seat, but denied by Republicans who claimed it was too close to an election to fill a court vacancy – those same Republicans who rushed to confirm Amy Coney Barrett – Trump’s pick to replace the great Ruth Bader-Ginsburg. Garland will – no doubt – investigate the lack of security around the Capitol among other crimes.
In closing, I want to share part of an email from a friend and constituent, mulling over the way the events of this week have rocked her. I love her imagery and her sense of hope. This I share as well:
“The analysis and reporting has been so instructive, thought provoking. The actions so breathtaking! (I watched a video of the surging mob, screams, glass shattering, tables breaking, casual vandalism.) I cried.
…. My thoughts have been on Shakespeare - King Lear, the various other Roman numeraled Kings.
The madness and then the catastrophe. Raw power, no capacity for a moral structure.
Eerily fascinating, the mental picture of Trump rattling around in the White House, the plague roaring up and down the streets of the kingdom attacking the citizenry, all in masks except him and his minions. This will be fodder for endless plays and operas! Reruns!
I have faith. The country will turn out stronger and more vital. We have gotten off course with corporations being unaccountable and casually criminal, not teaching civics and civil behaviour any more. We can do this!”
We will be riveted by what we hope will be the final chapter on Trump – the mad King, the raving and raging kleptocrat, on his way down. And we focus on what we learn about police, white privilege, creeping (galloping?) fascism. And how to inoculate our own society. Remember, in July a member of Canada’s military crashed through the gates of Rideau Hall, heavily armed and looking for our Prime Minister. These are not small events. We need to take seriously the threats in Canada.
January 20th cannot come soon enough
Love and blessings for 2021
And my postscript includes four important activist requests. I am really excited about FOUR!:
1) Stop the Grassy Mountain Coal Mine proposal.
The link to the federal page is here: https://iaac-aeic.gc.ca/050/evaluations/proj/80101?wbdisable=true"
2) The Royal Commonwealth Society Vancouver Island is advocating with its Centennial program -- "Trees for Life" --- and the upcoming ZOOM conversation "trees in the city" with key panelist David George Haskell
To register for the ZOOM conversation about "Tree in the City".......Sunday, 17th January 2021 @ 1400 hrs (2:00p.m.) PST
3) A Vancouver-based company, ReconAfrica, is threatening to destroy critical habitat in Botswana and Namibia in search for oil. The Okavango Delta is an inland delta that floods seasonally, attracting one of Africa’s greatest concentrations of wildlife, including large numbers of elephants and lions. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-unesco-raises-concerns-over-vancouver-company-reconafricas-oil-project/
I do not see any petitions yet on this project. I will probably have something by next week.
4) PLEASE join me tomorrow!!
David Suzuki and Annamie Paul and I invite you to discuss the twinned emergencies of Climate and Biodiversity loss.
When: Jan 11, 2021 06:00 PM Eastern Time 3 pm in BC.
Register in advance for this meeting: