riots and pipelines

David Cameron speaks on the riots and the need to mend a broken society. He states emphatically that "This is not about poverty, it is about culture." Nicely spun – because poverty would be his fault, while culture isn’t. Neglecting, of course, the fact that "gang culture" is adopted by disaffected youth who live in poverty of spirit and poverty of hope, which, at least partially, are fed by economic poverty. Anyway, I get the feeling that he was looking frantically around for something – some concept, some societal failure – on which to pin the riots, and locked onto gang culture. It could just as easily have been ‘poverty’, ‘failure of multiculturalism’, or any host of ideas.

Mr. Cameron mentions institutions that are indeed relevant to the riots – families, schools – and calls for "more discipline in our schools," not realising that teachers who inspire are so much more effective than teachers who punish. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, which means underlying issues need to be addressed. Cuts to social services and programs – schools, community centres, youth programs – are at least partly to blame, I feel. Increasing police presence and power is definitely not the answer, and I can at least support his decision not to reverse police cuts. But civil liberties will continually be chipped away at, "phoney human rights concerns" not withstanding. An increase in police power does not, contrary to popular belief, ease the "culture of fear" on the streets, but rather feeds it. Stop-and-search + racial profiling = recipe for "gang culture."

Slightly OT, but recalling again the Toronto G20 weekend: riot police scare me way more than rioters ever could.

Lastly, there is absolutely no "clear and heavy line between right and wrong." But I’ll humour you for a second and pretend there is: How about those at the top of the food chain – politicians, police, bankers, CEOs – set a good example and toe that line?

It’s comforting to know Canadians aren’t alone in fighting the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would run from the Albertan tar sands south to the US border. But even if our neighbouring Americans manage to convince Mr. Obama to block the pipeline, Enbridge would build the Northern Gateway pipeline westward to BC’s coast to feed China.

I hate the tar sands and everything it stands for and relates to so much it makes me slightly ill sometimes. Which is where Stephen Leahy comes in. No, he’s not running for PM; rather, he wants to do some investigative journalism over the question many of us are asking: What the hell is going on in Canada?


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