Democracy at its Worst


“Camp, did you follow the elections in Venezuela last Sunday? What a sham and disaster for the people of that country. ‘Maduro would beat Jesus’is how Venezuelans lament the rigged system.”

“I’ve come across a few articles but Venezuela is not exactly hot news here in the Great White North. We have floods in BC, the ongoing NAFTA theatre and Lord Stanley’s cup to keep us distracted. The Gaza-Israeli border war, the Venezuelan election or the ongoing refugee crises in Europe are too far away and too depressing to affect our day-to-day lives.”

Not to be deterred I said: “According to the UN, last year alone Venezuelan’s economy shrank by 13% and the hyperinflation is at 13’000%. Imagine that. Maduro’s brilliant solution: strike three zeros. Still, today a dozen eggs cost an equivalent of $ 150 and some 5’000 citizens leave their country every day.”

“Vote for Maduro if you want food, starve if you vote for somebody else, he proclaimed without shame,” Camp pointed out.

“You could be Major of this town Camp if you handed out free beer,” I suggested.

“That’s been done before. It was called the Beer Hall putsch.”

“What about our own pipeline wars between Alberta, British Columbia and the federal government.  Who is right there?” I asked. “Premier Notley claims that thousands of jobs in her province depend on it.  Horgen shouts that the B.C. coastline is in danger from increased tanker traffic and Trudeau yammers on about national interest and energy security,” I said.

“All three seem to have a point,” Camp said.

“Let me ask you this Camp, how many tanker accidents have occurred on the B.C, waterways? I tell you: none. A quick overview on the B.C. government site lists all the oil and gas accidents  have occurred on land involving trucks, trains, and processing plants and one pipeline. No tanker accidents, no spills at sea, not from any double hulled tankers, not even in Strait of Hormuz. So what is Horgan talking about?”

“He has to pander to the Green’s, his coalition partners who secured him a tenuous hold on government. It’s first and foremost a political position.”

“An April Angus Reidpoll has 58% of British Columbians in favour of twinning the Kinder Morgan pipe line and 34% against. What happened to democracy?” I asked, playing the devil’s advocate, “are interest groups and stalling tactics through the courts the new way to determine our policies and actions?”

“Imagine, two NDP governments fighting each other like the Hatfields and McCoys, Camp said. “Makes for a mighty thirst, all this shouting and finger pointing,” he mused, holding up two fingers of his own for Vicky to see who was already on her way with two new pints.

“And did you know that on two days this past February it was actually warmer at the North Pole than it was in Zurich, Switzerland,” I said, trying to change the subject.”

“Yes, and the Gulf Stream is slowing down, the Greenland ice is receding, the oceans are rising and Kilauewa, like Trump, keeps belching lava and toxic gases. I’m not worried about the planet,” Camp said, “It will survive. I’m concerned about the 8 billion people trying to live on it.”

“On a lighter side, did you see the Royal Wedding?” I said, desperately trying to steer our stormy conversation into some calmer waters.

“No, but Muriel told me all about the hats or head sculptors which are called fascinators. Some looked like birds nests while others could have come off the Vatican’s Christmas tree.”

“Fascinating,” I said, while Vicky set down the refills. “Did you watch the Royal wedding?” I asked her.

“No but I wish them well. I wouldn’t want their lives of endless protocol and permanent smiles. Gives me a face cramp just thinking about it.”

“You know Maghan Markle was a waitress once,” I pointed out.

“You telling me I could be a princess?” Vicky laughed, “and maybe Camp here could be  Pope while you could be an astronaut, shooting for the stars with your flights of fancy.”

“Leave the running of the world to us,” Camp said, “and we would make a mighty scrambled mess of it.”

“Depends how many of these you had,” Vicky said, pointing at the two foamy golden pints in front of us.

 

War or Peace


“I can’t wait  for some warmer weather,” I sad to Camp who was already seated, staring into his smart phone which he quickly put away when he saw me. We have an unspoken rule that no electronic devices are allowed at our Thirsty Thursday chinwag. We both have fancy phones but we’re also two of the five people on this planet who don’t subscribe to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any other social platforms. I admit to this blog, which is my way to let the universe know what the two of us blab on about every Thursday at ‘Gramma’s Pub’ on the serene Gibsons harbour. It’s amazing that we never run out of topics but part of this we blame on the instant news flashes that bombard us at a dizzying pace from all over the world. Sadly, most of it is about disasters, crimes and wars.

“I’m also ready for a spring thaw, in the weather and in international relations,” Camp said rather cryptically. “All this sabre rattling between the west and east is very worrying and reminds me of a schoolyard where the bullies rule and everybody else huddles in a corner crying out for common sense.”

“Teresa May is looking to bolster her flagging political career, Trump thinks he’s still in a reality TV show, Putin wants to be the smartest guy in the room, Trudeau doesn’t seem to know whose team he is playing on which leaves Angela Merkel who, although the chancellor again, now has to make decisions with her eyes closed and holding her nose,” I pontificated.

Camp gave me disapproving look over top of his spectacles, which he forgot to take off. He doesn’t like to wear them in public. “I don’t want to spoil my eyes,” is his vain excuse. “You’re ranting,” he said. “Let’s take it one at a time. The airstrikes last weekend for the alleged chemical attack on Douma did nothing towards ending the civil war in Syria. Nobody will win this war with weapons, chemical or otherwise, and the people of Syria suffer the consequences of this nasty conflict.”

“Well, who do you believe Camp? The white helmets, Amnesty International, the UNCR or Trump or Putin.”

“Nobody has the whole truth but the fact is that the butcher of Damascus is slaughtering his own people. There is no doubt about that.”

“Will there ever be peace as long as Assad remains in power?”

“Doubtful, not as long as both Iran and Russia support him, albeit for different reasons.”

“And there is Yemen whose war is no less disastrous for it’s people, caught between entrenched Islamist groups and blockaded by Saudi Arabia. It’s a big mess, considering Yemen is an impoverished country living next to some very rich neighbours. “

“No peace then in the middle east but thousands of refugees washing up on Europe’s shores, a crisis which will only get worse before it gets better I’m afraid.”

“A lot of doom and gloom for one beer don’t you think?” I said.

“In the end it’s always about resources and  energy like oil, gas or water. Mix in ideology and religion and you have a deadly cocktail of misery,” Camp said.

“We have our own war of words here in Canada over this Kinder Morgan pipe line. What do you think of that?” I asked Camp.

“It’s the twinning of an existing pipeline, a no brainer really if you want to get the oil to a different market than the USA and off the rail to make room for the prairie farmers to ship their grain. The Tarsands Campaign wants to land-lock Alberta oil and prevent it from reaching international markets to fetch international prices. The protesters are backed by the US based Tides and Rockefeller Foundation.  Just go to 350.org. to find the culprits,” Camp pointed out. “They coordinated a laudatory press release after the BC NDP government announced its plans to restrict bitumen coming into B.C. I call that dirty politics.”

“It’s a war of interest groups fighting the majority of Canadian, B.C. and Alberta citizens. So much for democracy,” I said.

“Sweden has Lego and IKEA, Norway has oil and gas just like Canada, which is also a resource based economy,” I said. “ No getting away from lumber, fish, water and minerals.”

“We’re also the bread basket of the world and then there is the film industry and tourism,” Camp said, “we have everything.”

Just at that point Vicky appeared with a couple of sorely needed fresh pints.

“What do you think Canada’s biggest resource is?” I asked her.

She cocked her pretty head to the side and gave us an amused look. “It’s the people of course and maybe the beer?”

“I’ll drink to that,” both Camp and I responded in stereo.