Friday, July 31, 2015

The Most Powerful Symbol You Will See This Election

I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind. John Diefenbaker
On January 6, 1941, Franklin Roosevelt, in his State of the Union Address; put forward four tenets of freedom that every citizen should enjoy:

Freedom of Speech
Freedom of Worship
Freedom from Want
Freedom from Fear

I watched a short Canadian newsreel recently, that would have been shown in movie theatres as propaganda.  It was made in 1943, at a time when Canadians were growing weary of war.

Lorne Greene of Bonanza fame, narrated, and started out by showing victorious battle scenes in an attempt to convince the movie goers that we were winning.  They just had to hold on a bit longer.

He then repeated those four tenets of freedom, one at a time, with all the passion he could muster.

It was very moving, and they were not just empty promises.  On behalf of the Government of Canada, Social Scientist, Leonard Marsh, prepared a report that was presented to a House of Commons committee that year:  Report on Social Services for Canada; as part of the plan for post-war reconstruction.

It wasn't enough to just bring soldiers home, They had to come home to a country committed to making that country, not only worth coming home to, but with visible signs of the things they had fought for. Their sacrifices were not in vain and the welfare state was born.

Initially, the term was used to describe an industrial capitalist society, in which the state manipulated the market, but in 1967, British historian Asa Briggs, in The Welfare State, laid out revised provisions of what the welfare state should look like:

- Provision of minimum income
- Provision for the reduction of economic insecurity, resulting from sickness, old age and unemployment
- Provision to all members of society a range of social services

Not just the freedom from want but the freedom from need.  If we were expected to make sacrifices during wartime, we needed to be taken care of at times of peace.

Then in the 1980s, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, turned the whole thing upside down.  Forget all that.  There was no such thing as society and no need for social services.  Give more money to the wealthy and the resulting economic boost would trickle down to everyone.

The corporate welfare state was reborn.

Conservatives will take every opportunity to use the word "freedom",  but clearly have no idea what it means.  Chest thumping and carnivorous nationalism is not freedom.  

Instead of freedom from want, they leave society wanting, and use fear, attacks on religious groups and stifling of free speech, so they can have us participate in perpetual war.

Photo-ops with soldiers, first responders, or anyone in uniform, might make you look good, but you can't remove them from the picture once the cameras are turned off.

Those who risk their lives for us, deserve better.  Indeed, all Canadians do.
Our hopes are high. Our faith in the people is great. Our courage is strong. And our dreams for this beautiful country will never die.  Pierre Trudeau
This election campaign, we're hearing a lot about the middle class.  There's no denying that a strong middle class is tantamount to economic security.  However, even with a strong middle class, there was still poverty. 

There was still want.

Instead of a higher minimum wage, that will only force small businesses out, we need a living wage guarantee for everyone. We need a strong social safety net, that includes a housing strategy, so terms like "homelessness" and "food banks" are removed from everyday conversation.

Courage, my friends; 'tis not too late to build a better world. Tommy Douglas

George Bush referring to corporations as "job creators" is a myth.  Corporations only create jobs when it's convenient to do so, and will shed jobs anytime they threaten their bottom line (as we're seeing now in Alberta).  And despite the fact that the public has subsidized these corporations for years, shareholders take priority over stakeholders.

Enough is enough.

A recent Nanos poll indicates that 2/3 of Canadians are ready for a change.  It's up to us to make sure that that change, is not simply more of the same.

If a picture speaks to us, the image of the crest above is speaking volumes.  It's not only a reminder of what freedom was supposed to look like, but also a reminder that we are failing our heroes and heroines.
Patriotism is not dying for one's country, it is living for one's country, and for humanity. Perhaps that is not as romantic, but it's better. Agnes MacPhail

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