Sometimes absurdity can lead to a brilliant moment, when everything becomes simple and clear. At that instant your inner voice shouts, "yes that"s it!"
Strangely, that moment came to me when Toronto"s Ford brothers compared their family dynasty to that of the Kennedy clan. Once again Doug Ford served as the sober and enabling spokesperson for his out of control brother. Later, the Toronto Sun confirmed the boast. Now that"s real journalism.
Responding to a chapter of the book, Crazy Town, written by Toronto Star journalist Robin Doolittle, big brother Doug chimed, "well they were two brothers in politics, like us and they killed them like they are trying to kill us." Huh? He couldn"t be more wrong.
History reminds us that there were actually three Kennedy brothers who made a mark on American politics: John, Bobby and Ted. Assassination is very different from the train-wreck behavior of the Ford clan. In the case of the Fords they have only themselves to blame.
Their link to Kennedy is an attempt to paint the Fords as a Canadian dynasty. But, like all right wing claims, it is nonsense.
How can the Fords ever imagine matching the Kennedy years, a time filled with big ideas? Back then, humankind was in a race to the moon. It was a time of growing civil rights. It was when the US made an attempt to address poverty. People looked forward towards limitless boundaries, expansion and above all, progress.
The Kennedy period was about hope, change and achieving full potential. It was a time some described as Camelot.
One cannot say the same about Ontario and Canada in 2014. Today, Conservatives like the Fords, Hudak and Harper are tapping into something very different. They employ the paralysis of fear; the politics of scarcity.
Look around. We have some of the lowest tax corporate tax rates found anywhere in the world yet they want them to boot them even lower. Why?
The reason in their minds is because lower taxes cause government revenues to dry up. That gives politicians more reason to cut public services and the jobs of the women and men who provide them. Right wingers see all taxes as bad and all public sector workers as the enemy.
Encouraged by Harper et al, they also delight in attacking the labour movement. To them, unions are villains because they dare call for livable wages that are essential to a consumer driven economy.
The right seeks wage scarcity and high unemployment. That causes working people to fear a precarious and uncertain job market. This fear has dramatic effects. It lowers expectations. Instead of reaching for the best, workers fear the worst.
Remember the 1990"s when the right wing mantra was all about Canadian workers and their relative lack of productivity? Back then we were accused of having too many benefits, too many rights and union wages that were unreasonably high. Canadians took this to heart and put their nose to the grindstone. Now, despite record productivity, worker"s wages continue to sink lower as corporate and investor profits soar.
With that, the income gap widens between us and them.
Today"s conservatives also reject options, alternatives and new ideas. They want us to hold to the same old script: we must be tough on crime; have even lower taxes; ensure balanced budgets at all costs and screen and limit immigration. These measures keep us afraid and apart from the big ideas that could create a freer, fairer and more democratic society.
Nowhere is this thinking more evident than the recent federal budget. It had little for most Canadians, just a sprinkling of money spread over many years. Its theme was austerity, job loss and a heavy emphasis on a balanced budget.
The budget was consistent with what the Tories have been serving Canadians since they took power eight years ago. Trouble is, the Canada of 2006 is not our country today. In 2014 our land is less fair, less equal, more regional and increasingly divided politically. More than ever we are now a country of winners and losers; haves and have nots.
Harper sees Ontario as an enemy; Quebec as an afterthought and the Maritimes as a forgotten wasteland. The "good old days" are a fading memory. Someday we will recall stories of a time when youth could move out and get on with their lives before they reached middle age.
John Kennedy is forever immortalized by his words: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but rather what you can do for your country."
He didn"t say, "what you can do for the small minority of the country that supports you." Yet this is the statement red meat right wingers like the Fords, Hudak and Harper believe in and act on.
Scarcity is their friend. It"s what they rely on to push their agenda and us towards that goal. It"s what they purposely create for us while hanging onto the best for themselves and their friends. This is why, slowly but surely, illuminated light bulbs are appearing over heads across the country.
Just ask workers, veterans and seniors. They see cuts to Old Age Security, closures of offices that support veterans and a spotlight on a child porn bill while the Prime Minister jams in a band with an alleged child sex offender.
My mom sometimes observed we are judged by the company we keep. Disgraced senators, a crack smoking mayor, a deposed former chief of staff and accused sex offenders. That amounts to moral scarcity. That"s scarcity in all the wrong places.
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
1st Vice President / Treasurer