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I read the news today, Oy!

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.


I have been disappointed by the mediaʼs coverage about the Idle No More movement. Being an active participant, I feel traditional media fails to capture the true spirit of the movement which, if you have walked in any of the protests from Victoria Island to the Parliament, is palpable.

I rely mostly on the internet to keep myself informed since I refuse to pay exorbitant monthly fees for excessive technology which is imposed upon us only to finance reality and or junk television. I thought today, January 14, 2013, I would turn to print media. At the library the Globe and Mail caught my eye as the front page read:


Protests take aim at oil sands


I read on with enthusiasm. I guess it was a fair article as it did highlight some environmental, social and financial concerns of the Indigenous population of Canada. I was disappointed however as it painted a picture of divisiveness and disparity within the community which I do not experience when I march to show support or attend a conference.

Interacting among the Indigenous population and the Idle No More Movement, the issues are clear; some of them are:

• Respect for the treaties which are enshrined in the Canadian Constitution. I wondered, “If you disrespect the treaties, are you not disrespecting the Canadian Constitution? Does this not affect all Canadians, Settlers, descendants of Settlers and Aboriginals?”

• Outcry against omnibus bills, in particular Bill C45(among others) which removes protection for 99% of Canadian waterways and exposes our waterways to environmental pollution and as such fails to recognize protection for fish habitat which affects Aboriginal commercial fisheries. I pondered, “is clean potable water necessary for all Canadians?”

• Equitable share of the profits earned by resources from Aboriginal reserves; fair and equitable funding for social services.

• Better protection for the environment and natural resources so we may preserve them and the Earth for future generations.

Maybe someone should sensitize John Ibbitson at the Globe and Mail of the issues plaguing the Indigenous community which were so very clearly defined by Richard Wagamese in the same section of the same paper: To be Indian in Canada today...(the Canadian Constitution Act of 1982 recognizes Aboriginals as Indians, Inuit, and Métis).

Ibbitsonʼs article, Harper needs to stay the course, is the polar end of Wagameseʼs. In his article, Ibbitson advises Prime Minister Stephen Harper to continue his insolence of the Indigenous cause as it is peaceful for now and does not present a threat, yet. He also advocates him to employ a ʻwait & seeʼ approach pointing out that surveys show that Indigenous causes do not rate high for Canadians and even though Chief Spenceʼs hunger strike and Idle No More peaceful protests might awaken a curiosity, it is still a fleeting cause as it will be suppressed by the 250,000 immigrants arriving annually in Canada. Eventually, “the militant tendency within the native...” could be silenced by immigrants. I questioned, “is it only me or is that comment doubly ignorant?” Does Ibbitson believe that immigrants are incapable of independent critical thinking? Most immigrants leave their country of origin because they are dissatisfied with social, political and or economic strife caused by government corruption. I think they have been already sensitized to government corruption and would be more apt to notice political wrong doing. “Hmmm, maybe Ibbitson should advise Harper to deny immigrants voting rights.”

Ibbitsonʼs blatant insensitivity to the peaceful plea of a hurting people crying for justice for themselves, their children, others and future generations can be demonstrated by the following statement:

“Thus far, the Conservatives have gotten things right, by ignoring peaceful demonstrations and engaging with responsible leadership in order to marginalize extremists.”

The above statement truly deserves an ʻOYʼ!

I continued reading the paper. There was an article about the Ontario Liberal leadership race to replace Dalton McGuinty; Sandra Pupatello is in the lead and alleges to restore teachersʼ bargaining power and rebuild their relationship with them. “Ok, some hopeful good news for the future maybe,” I consoled myself.

There were protests in Pakistan against government corruption; their very own Idle No More. I say, “power to the people.”

It seems protests continue in northern Ireland between the Catholic republicans and the Protestants; something about the limited use of the Union Jack. I thought this was a settled issue but I guess I donʼt know everything. A spokesperson priest for the protesting Protestants condoned violence. I questioned, “Really? Indigenous populations around the globe are being expelled from their homes; a good portion of the world does not have clean running water so why not bring strife to a region which is already suffering economically?”

There were gang rapes and guilty parties arrested in India; letʼs hope and pray that justice is rendered for the victims. Activists spoke out about misogyny inherent in their culture which needs to be addressed. “Right on sisters!”, I exclaimed. The same can be said about our end of the globe.

There were air strikes by the French government in Mali, supported by the Americans and the British; not sure about Canadaʼs role yet although the person sitting across from me holding The Ottawa Citizen was reading a different headline. This military action had not yet received final sanction from the United Nations.

I skipped over an article about the memorial for the victims of the Costa Concordia as it is just another example of the damage the current corporate bravado can cause. Articles about the Ikea Monkey or the Golden Globes failed to peak my interest.

So sad to read about a “hactavist” in Washington committing suicide weeks before his trial. I could not help thinking, “was it suicide or murdercide? Will we ever find out? Is Julian Assange considered a hactavist?”

I was discouraged to read about Hosni Mubarakʼs conviction for failing to prevent the slaughter of 900 protesters was overturned by an appeals court in Egypt. “Shucks! So much for democracy and the Arab Spring!”

A sigh of relief; Canada and Ontario agree to recognize same gender marriages which took place outside of Canada, after much public protest. I was glad to read that gleams of democracy are still alive.

I read a refreshing article by Todd Hirsch: Economic lessons about the tar sands from van Gogh. Hirsch enlightens us that van Gogh could have taught us about corporate social responsibility. Plausible.

The Life and Arts section told us that One is the Unhealthiest Number. There were other helpful suggestions about health improvements from diet, cleanses, and exercise to glowing skin. I skipped over articles about, idol shows and their divas, and horoscopes; neither are reliable. I was highly disturbed by learning that a womanʼs fashion designer in China was gaining popularity by using her 72 year old retired grandfather as her model; I canʼt explain why. There was an interesting article about an upstart recording company making waves which should have been in the Business section. I guess building a business based on vision and creativity does not belong in the business section. Maybe if the business was built on hedge funds, fraudulent financing and pyramid schemes... .

Speaking of Business, the front page informed us that the automobile industry is experiencing increased demand; operating at peak capacity; increasing employment and building new factories.

Alongside the same article was somewhat conflicting news at least for Canada, Canada has become a bit player in the game of auto subsidies. Barrie Mckenna informed us of Harperʼs commitment to the automotive sector even when faced with possibility of decreased market share. I guess Harperʼs commitment to the tar sands goes hand in hand with his commitment to cars; he renewed the $250 million innovation fund. Eventhough Canada and Ontario have invested approximately $1.4 billion and plan to increase another $4 million, Canada is still falling behind countries like Russia, Turkey and Thailand. Canada is now at half of its 1990ʼs peak of 5.4% global auto production market share and possibly declining. Mckenna believes the strong dollar is to blame. I recalled from my sales career, “should we not establish customer loyalty based on technology and innovation and not price alone?” Ford requests an additional $1.2 billion to renovate their factories from the Ontarian and Federal governments. More money for cars means less money for others like the $15 million fund cut for the successful Centre for the Commercialization for Research. United Statesʼ funding is higher for the big three car manufacturers but they are still shutting down factories in face of increased competition from China. Even though China does not export to the U.S., it competes with the U.S. in other markets, which motivated President Obama to launch a case with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against China. Most of this automative industry news defies much of my business education and experience. For one thing, once upon a time the ʻbig threeʼ car manufacturers were watched as an economic indicator; since then it seems we have failed to change the formula to include manufacturers which are not the ʻbig threeʼ. It all seems very stagnant and regressive to me.

I was not interested in reading Wall Street warmed up to General Motorsʼ bullish outlook as I donʼt trust everything I read and I didnʼt know if it is truth or propaganda to artificially inflate GMʼs stock price. The same is true for any other articles about stocks and bonds and other guessing games which can be influenced by the click of the send button on our smart technology. Here is where we could have maintained our axioms. I remember learning as part of Bachelor of Commerce degree that a companyʼs stock would double between ten to fifteen years; now we expect it to do the same in 10-15 weeks if not days. I had also learnt that a companyʼs stock should be evaluated based on their history of research and development investment, new product innovation, employee retention and quality of their employees. All of the above seem to have been erased by spur of the moment unchecked tweets and posts.

Another article informed us that there is conflict within Toyotaʼs management in Japan since their design expert wants to give Toyota a slick image. Being a Toyota owner myself, I say to Mr. Design Guru, “Nooooo! Please leave its image alone and keep the focus on providing reliable, innovative cars at a reasonable cost.” In other words, please focus on value and environmental responsibility. I do not need a car whose advertisements show Paris Hilton pseudo naked sprawled across its hood.

Canadaʼs Competition Commissioner left the Competition Bureau before her term ended to join the very people against whom she protected us from. I couldnʼt help but think, “did she just take the job to make contacts at the tax payersʼ expense?”

There was the Weekly Appointment Review which showed the newly appointed CEOʼs and CFOʼs. Since I recently read that most of the worldʼs C?Oʼs have shown a positive correlation to psychopathic characteristics, I perused their perfectly coiffed pictures to see if I could spot the psychopath(s). “Not all of them look psychopathic to me,” I decided.

There was an article about JP Morgan considering releasing a fraud report on its officers. Again, I found this to be rhetoric since a more practical approach would be to punish the fraudulent officers and return the money back to the investors. On the same thought, “how about returning some of that money from the big bank bailout of 2008 back to the American people?”

Nortelʼs court cases of fraud charges against its officers ensues as its ex-employees await to see if their pensions are salvageable. “Another fine example of the perils of modern business techniques,” I griped.

I gave my skepticism a break by reading Harvey Schachterʼs Complex World demands broader mindset, helpful information about how to evolve with Life by having an expansive mind. He recommended to use the SPINE technique: Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual and Emotional. “I always find his articles logical; practical information we can apply to everyday life,” I recalled.

Natural gas producer Encana is keeping the status quo until a new CEO is chosen amidst its collusion allegations in the U.S.. “Maybe they should employ the same headhunter as the WTO and get a 2 for 1 deal,” I murmured.

Facebook mystery announcement looms, read another headline. The article was something about their own smart technology although the article failed to intrigue or inform. I quipped to myself, “truth or propaganda to help their languishing stock?”

Gordon Pittsʼs interview of Leonard Waverman, ex Dean at University of Calgary and new dean of DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University in Hamilton, discouraged me. I was disappointed that an educated person could be so insensitive to environmental concerns. I shuddered at the thought at how callous he is to the environmental damage the tar sands have wreaked. Waverman also condones foreign private takeovers of Canadian public resources. He even criticized elected Member of Parliament David McGuinty, ex-environmental critic for the Liberals, for asking Albertans to go home. I have read David McGuintyʼs comments, I did not see any divisiveness; just concern for the economy and environment. I attempted to justify his reasoning, “maybe Waverman is also a spin doctor.”

I read some more gleams of hope. The forestry industry, one of Canadaʼs largest industries, is expanding through diversification and will be increasing its labour force. When I was working in this industry, Canada faced tough competition from products made in emerging markets who could sell the same product cheaper because they employed less safe and antiquated technology and provided unsafe conditions to their labour. Canada was always criticized for its protective labour practices. Someone had once complained to me that it was wrong for a high school graduate working in a pulp and paper mill to earn close to $100,000 annually. I remember thinking, “good! Working long hours under physically and mentally strenuous conditions where any minute one could loose a limb or life and still work in an uncertain economic climate, they should make that much and why not more.”

Last section, Sports. Although I enjoy participating in sports myself, I believe the deifying of sports figures is meant to divert our focus from the important issues like taxes, unemployment, corporate social responsibility, election fraud, etc., “so I think Iʼll pass,” I concluded.

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We R the People (Shahrukh Ashraf)
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