Posts Tagged With: Big Oil

The Blame Game

Disclaimer: I’m no political pundit by any stretch of the imagination.  But I’ve got eyes and a fairly decent brain.  So bear with me.

For those of you unfamiliar with Canadian or Albertan politics, the current government in Alberta is the New Democratic Party, or NDP for short.  They were elected in last year by a majority vote of unprecedented and some would say, epic proportions and their election meant that the Progressive Conservative (PC) Party had been ousted after 40-plus years of power over Alberta.

Like any establishment after such a long reign, it could easily be argued that the PC’s were far too comfortable in Alberta having been able to maintain their political position more than four decades.  Some might even venture to say that they became complacent.  Lackadaisical, even.  I have lived in Alberta for nearly three of those four decades and in that time I have seen the ups and downs of their government.  Some good, a lot of bad, and mostly a lot of in-between.  Like any political party, they relied heavily on contributions from Big Business supporters, in Alberta’s case this is largely oil companies with a lot of clout and financial ability to buy the party which fits their agenda the best.

The trouble is that with such a long-standing relationship between a political party and its Big Oil backers, you lose sight of the ones who are in reality backing both.  The middle class not only votes in the people they feel are best suited to lead their provincial or federal governments, but also consumes the goods produced by Big Business and Big Oil.

Yes, it’s true that the PC Party was great at bringing in business and creating jobs, much of those jobs with the oil companies backing the party.  But ask yourselves this: at what cost?  We were all blinded at the prospect of a booming economy that we lost sight of the fact that the middle class was being stretched far too thin by their support of ridiculously large corporate tax breaks.  Much like an aging elastic band stretched beyond its capacity, it will start to show cracks and eventually break altogether.  Relying on one segment of the voting and tax-paying public to support not only the over-privileged rich and corporations, but also to support the social programs necessary to assist and raise up the lower income classes proved to be too much for most of us.

I believe this collapse primarily among the middle class was the impetus for such a landslide vote for a different party to have their kick at the political can.  After more than four decades ruling this province, the breaks promised to the middle class were rarely, if ever, delivered.  And many of us were far too jaded by then to think much of the small pittances promised regardless.

Worse, when then-premier Jim Prentice realised he’d lost the vote to continue, his outgoing speech was nothing less than childish and immature.  He pouted and walked off stage without so much as the grace to wish the incoming premier, NDP Rachel Notley, luck in her new endeavour in leading our province.

To many, this was classic Progressive Conservatism – they didn’t get their way and like any bully, they were unaccustomed to being shot down.

Now, this is not to say that I am naïve enough to think that the NDP (or Liberal, or any other) Party would have behaved any differently had the same thing happened to them had they been privileged enough to have retained power for that length of time.  What I am saying is that the game has changed and if you want to stay in it, you have to adapt to new rules and parameters.  The Old Boys who voted you in four decades ago are now dying off, figuratively and literally.  Your voters are younger but not necessarily less informed.  What’s more, they want different things than their parents and grandparents.

Further, regardless of who won the election, there would still be the same messes to clean up after having the same party in for the last four decades.  If we are, as we all claim to be, open-minded and progressive, should we not then by definition have the grace to allow the current government some time to get their footing and to deliver on their promises which got them elected?  Isn’t that the democratic process?  And yet, as soon as the NDP gained the provincial seat, the naysayers were already at it – claiming that things were better when the PC’s were running the show.

Remember, the older we are, the faster we used to run.  Sometimes you have to embrace change, if you want actual change to occur.

Besides, if you wanted so badly for the PC’s to stay in power, why didn’t you vote them back in when you had the chance?

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Rock Stars Standing Up

Credit www.chathamdailynews.ca

Bono meeting with Canadian NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair – Photo credit to http://www.chathamdailynews.ca

The job or mission of Rock n’ Roll from its inception has been to shake things up; to make people think; reconsider; and make the established rules and norms of society wholly uncomfortable.

As a band, U2 has long been at the forefront of this crusade – their music is rebellious, provocative and compelling.  In the band’s early days, they received a lot of criticism for their lyrics being too preachy, too political.  More notably, their critics often complained that while the band’s lyrics were preachy and political, the band, said the critics, should take a more active role in ending the stories of injustice which were being referred to in their songs and at their concerts.

So, taking this to heart, Bono as well as other members of the band, have in fact taken a much more active role in not just singing about their charitable causes, but also becoming members of those causes and forming organizations to help their causes along.

In that sense, they are not unlike any other special interest group on the planet, whether a charitable organization or a multi-trillion dollar corporation, all of which beg at the chance of bending a politician’s ear in an effort to gain support for their respective causes.

While no one bats an eye when a corporation or charity gains an audience with political leaders, the same is not true when it is a celebrity.  People often say that the celebrities should stick to their platforms of choice when it comes to political maneuvering, that they ought to restrict those beliefs and causes to the stage or screen from whence they came.  And yet, if they did – as critics of U2 in the past have proven – when they don’t become more involved, they are also maligned for their inactivity and supposed lack of conviction.

But, how is one to gain support for causes if not to gain the support of those who can effect real change and enact policies to promote that change?

I suggest that it is not the fact that it is Bono bending the ears of Canadian political leaders Stephen Harper, Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau which makes people uncomfortable.  What makes people uncomfortable is you have a rock star who can hold his own with politicians and who can speak informatively and candidly on the subjects compelling him to request their audience in the first place.  Moreover, it makes people even more uncomfortable that someone like Bono has evolved far beyond the white flag-wielding lad he was in the early to mid-1980s and has grown into not only a musical but cultural icon with a noble agenda – making the world a better place for all of us.

In other words, Bono is shaking things up, making people think, making us reconsider our priorities and forcing us to grow far past the confines of our comfortable little lives, which makes most of us very uncomfortable indeed.

And yet the people who SAY they want to eradicate social injustices and end world poverty and obtain peace in our time seem content to leave things up to politicians who are largely in the pockets of special interest groups like Big Oil and Big Business who have no one’s interest or welfare in mind other than their greedy own.

Our planet continues to suffer, our children continue to starve and die and wars continue with no visible end.

So, to Bono I would say, “Thanks, man and keep up the great work!”

To the rest of the doubters, haters and critics, I would ask, “So, what’s YOUR idea?”

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