From the sublime to the ridiculous

First, the sublime: Talk about your true Canadians! As if it weren’t impressive enough that we still have three surviving veterans of the Great War among us, now their unselfishness and dedication to democratic ideals is truly beyond compare. From the Beeb, a little item that will leave you misty-eyed:

It all seemed to have been settled.

Towards the end of last year Canada’s parliament responded to a huge public petition for a state funeral to be held for the last of the country’s World War I veterans.

The parliamentary vote in favour of the idea seemed to decide the matter.

But there is a snag. None of the surviving veterans wants a state funeral.

The eldest, Lloyd Clemett, is 107. His niece and guardian, Merle Kaczanowski, says he just wants a simple funeral.

“He himself feels that there should not be attention to the last person but the attention should be given to all of them,” said Ms Kaczanowski.

“There is always a possibility that people change but I don’t really see that for Lloyd,” she added.

This is the kind of solidarity that marks our country, folks. They fought not for anyone’s individual privilege, but for the rights of all–and that is why they want a collective remembrance for all their comrades, rather than special treatment just for being the last to fall.

It is this one-for-all, all-for-one spirit that undergirded the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (later the New Democratic Party), whose hymn goes:

A call goes out to Canada

It comes from out the soil—

Come and join the ranks through all the land

To fight for those who toil!

Come on farmer, soldier, labourer,

From the mine and factory,

And side by side we’ll swell the tide—

C.C.F. to Victory!

As you can see, the early socialist movement that eventually changed the face of Canada had a definite military flavor, albeit a peaceful one. The soldier was on an equal footing with the civilians, the farmers and workers. His ties were not to the crown, but to the land and his brothers and sisters. Co-operation, not conquest, was the order of the day.

This same spirit later found its echoes in the modern Canadian tradition of sending our soldiers–not to fight someone’s wars for selfish gain, but to make and keep peace in troubled countries all over the world.

It is no coincidence that Canada rose to full stature even as the British Empire was crumbling under its own weight. And it is also no coincidence that the first stirrings of this triumph came during the Great War, when Canadians did England’s scut work and took Vimy Ridge–a feat impossible for the “superior” British troops. England was quick to claim that victory, but Canada never forgot, and today the credit goes where it is due: not to Empire, but to the Canadian troops, working together for a common good.

Perhaps this is why the last three Great War vets don’t want a state funeral or any special recognition. The Canada they fought to build–egalitarian, democratic and yes, socialist–would be tainted by the Orwellian notion that some animals are more equal than others.

Now, keep bearing that sublime thing in mind, because here comes the ridiculous.

First, my friend Dave has blogged an absolutely mind-blowing fact he found at CTV’s website:

By the time most Canadians drag themselves into work on Tuesday after the holidays, the country’s highest-paid CEOs will already have earned the average employee’s annual salary.

By 9:46 a.m. Tuesday, the 100 highest-paid private-sector executives will have earned an average Canadian’s salary of $38,010, says a new study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

For minimum-wage workers, the country’s top earners made their entire salary average of $15,931 by New Year’s Day.

“When you say that the average CEO made $9 million in 2005 and the average Canadian made ($38,000), the comparison between those things is so far into the stratosphere that I think people have trouble just coming to terms with what the comparison means,” Hugh Mackenzie, an economist with the independent research institute that focuses on issues of social and economic justice, told The Canadian Press.

Yes, that’s right–the New Year was barely a day old, and already the top 100 capitalists have sucked as much slop from the trough as you little piggies are apt to see all year. This is what our three remaining Great War vets have lived to see, folks.

And, on a related note, Bill Tieleman at Straight Goods delivers a kicker:

Here’s what kind of a year in politics 2006 has been: No one wanted to be caught dead in federal Conservative International Trade Minister David Emerson’s shoes — except maybe BC Liberal Finance Minister Carole Taylor.

That’s because while Emerson entered the Guinness Book of World Records for the fastest political defection ever, Taylor caught heat for introducing the provincial budget in a $600 pair of Gucci pumps.

But one thing is clear — they both stepped in it!

After January’s minority Conservative election victory, Liberal Vancouver-Kingsway Member of Parliament Emerson took all of 48 hours to become a card-carrying Tory.

And Emerson, who swore to voters he would be Stephen Harper’s “worst nightmare,” instead sucker punched his constituents and joined the Conservative cabinet. De-elect Emerson signs will last longer than Rona “Clean Air Act” Ambrose will as environment minister.

Meanwhile, in February Taylor took the tradition of finance ministers wearing a new pair of shoes on budget day to unheard-of extremes. The $600-Guccis, plus $84 in tax, cost far more than a month’s worth of social assistance for the poor. Marie Antoinette, eat your heart out!

If such political cynicism makes you sick, go to a medical clinic — a private one. 2006 was year of the for-profit physician, with controversial private healthcare booster Dr. Brian Day becoming the president-elect of the Canadian Medical Association and BC doctors Mark Godley and Don Copeman opening new private facilities.

Day, who actually said before his election that Medicare was a “health monopoly that Bozo the Clown could run” and that a “Berlin Wall” stops patients from getting medical treatment, will become the voice of all Canadian doctors.

Now let’s remove that lump from the area around your wallet!

Notice a common theme here? These people, or rather these beasts, are actively doing their best to unravel the victories our veterans of war and peace fought for. They haven’t the courage to put on a uniform and dig a rat-infested trench to do it, though; they are doing it stealthily, in true cowardly predator fashion. One might even say they are doing it collectively, although I’m sure their souls (rendered cirrhotic by too much of Ayn Rand’s meretricious drivel) would shrink from that word. No doubt all of them preen themselves on the false notion that they are fine, innovative, freethinking individuals. They are not–they are collectively and to a one, DELUDED. And they are as un-Canadian as the “farmer, soldier, labourer” CCF are arch-Canadian.

And they make me feel as mortified that I’ve lived to see this day as those last three vets must be at the notion of being singled out for special treatment after death.

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