Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Why I Love Rob Ford

Political Allies:  Rob and Stephen    
Some years ago we moved to Saskatchewan. There was the appeal of the wide open spaces. But I was primarily attracted to the province because of its reputation for progressive democracy. The farmers and their organizations, who had dominated the political system, pushed for policies benefiting the community as a whole. They supported Crown Corporations that provided good public utility services to everyone. They backed the co-operatives, credit unions, the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, marketing boards where the majority of producers made the decisions, and the Canadian Wheat Board, which had been strengthened at the end of World War II with the support of all the major farm organizations across Canada.

There was also the CCF-NDP government headed by T. C. Douglas. They implemented the first progressive trade union act in Canada and encouraged government workers and teachers to form unions and bargain collectively. A broad range of social programs had been implemented, including a social assistance program that provided recipients with an income above the basic needs level, the highest in Canada. They were the first to implement free hospitalization and then public medicare. The prevailing view of the mainstream churches was the Social Gospel, that of the Sermon on the Mount: I am my brother’s keeper.

But all that has changed. Saskatchewan is now known for the strong support we give to Stephen Harper’s new right wing liberal movement. Our provincial government, a group of Harper supporters, has an approval rating in the polls that reaches 70%. With this change we now have a new set of outspoken political activists who make us cringe.

We have the strongest support across Canada for the right not to register guns and for everyone to own an assault rifle. We have vocal political activists who hate gays and lesbians. There is a strong movement to oppose feminism and presses to deny women the right to control their own bodies. We are the home of Real Women, one of the last remaining women’s organizations, one which is opposed to day care and wants women to stay home and take care of the kids. It is reported that half of their members are from our province.

The mainstream religious organizations are in decline, and those of the Christian fundamentalists are on the rise. The provincial government and local school boards are now using public funds to support “faith based” private schools, where they can teach creationism. They are all in solidarity with our Prime Minister, who chose Calgary as his home, and who is an active member of the Alliance and Missionary Church, which shares their patriarchal values and believes in Armageddon and The Rapture. That is true, believe it or not.

Saskatchewan can now claim to have the strongest group of climate change deniers. Our politicians support any foreign-owned transnational corporation that wants our natural resources, which we give away for virtually nothing. The oil and mining executives who report to the Fraser Institute rank Saskatchewan at the top of the list of the best places to invest. The NDP and the trade union movement are dead in the water. This is The New Saskatchewan.

So I am overjoyed to see Rob Ford in action. He too is a strong supporter of Stephen Harper and his new version of the Conservative government. But Canadians now know that it is not only backwater Saskatchewan that produces crazy right wing politicians. There are some prominent wackos in office in Toronto, home of Bay Street and the TSX.