When I first contemplated penning a regular missive to your right honourable self, I thought perhaps it might be both cathartic (for me) and an incentive to at least consider looking at the decisions you and your government are making in a different light.
As I began to ponder more deeply the ineffable mysteries of minds determined to make decisions from an ideological bent rather than a “sense of the people,” I actually began to look a tad more seriously at how this ideology permeates not just the corporate attitude of your government but that of our neighbours, and indeed beyond.
Now I realize that next door to us lives King Ralph, monarch of the dominion of Alberta. It would appear that this has had some impact on your decision-making, particularly considering how, under his reign, Alberta has become self-sufficient and boasts a budget surplus – a real one because all their debts have been paid off thanks to the geological lottery that left the tar sands within their borders and the current insatiable world hunger for oil at any price. (I must give you credit though Gord, you haven’t thrown any books at 16 year old pages in the Legislative Assembly.) However, even with their financial achievements, I’ll wager that their social safety net, their affordable housing starts, their environmental achievements and their social programs are, well, not notable.
Not only is Ralph a presence, but further east in the magical land of Aw-ta-wah, lives the newly ensconced President, er sorry, Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. It seems that although he claims to be Conservative and your government claims to be Liberal, you both would likely benefit from a couple of courses in etymology. My cursory review of both of your corporate approaches seems to suggest that neither moniker - Liberal nor Conservative - applies, but rather “corporatism” is actually more germane. The interesting thing about corporations is that they are responsible only to their shareholders. Their shareholders demand a return on their investment, basically regardless of the means. One only has to look around at a few big corporations to get a clear sense that ethics and values don’t play a very significant role in their motivation. Check out Monsanto, Pfizer, Weyerhauser, Wal-Mart, Nestle, Coca-Cola, Phillip Morris, ExxonMobil or IBM. Were you aware Gord that the Top 200 corporations' combined sales are bigger than the combined economies of all countries minus the biggest 10? The entire budget for the government of BC for 2006 is approximately $35,484,000,000.00.(Your figures.) Hmm, guess which holds more sway and influence – the government of BC or the multi-national corporations with which your and your government are so excited about doing business? Interesting isn’t it Gord, when it gets looked at through this lens? I wonder if you knew that of the 100 largest economies in the world, 51 are corporations; only 49 are countries (based on a comparison of corporate sales and country GDPs). It does provide some food for thought when pondering whether elected governments or appointed boards of global corporations actually hold “the balance of power.”
So when you ponder public-private partnerships for things like health care and railways and education and transportation, I hope you’re aware that making deals with guys who are way bigger than you and your government, may actually mean that they get to call the shots. (Just think softwood lumber.) And when you consider selling off even more of BC’s resources (remember BC Gas and BC Rail and think BC Ferries and our water and NAFTA and…), I hope you are clear that the ultimate goal of any corporation is to make a profit, not necessarily to provide a service. And I thought that governments were created to serve the people who dutifully elected them, not to partner with profit-making corporations to achieve goals that are not necessarily for the good of the people but rather meet the needs of some corporate agenda. And Gord, while we at it, I’m thinking it would actually be a good idea for your government to hand over the list of top corporate polluters to the Sierra Legal Defense Fund for free, seeing as how charging them over $170,000 to access this information under the Freedom of Information act just makes me think that only the very rich can get access to these kind of facts – especially since it was taxpayers dollars that actually funded the collection of this data.
You know Gord, the current state of affairs does remind me of Tommy Douglas’ famous speech about the mice electing the cats. Only now, it may be actually at a new level. Through you and elected officials like you, it seems our governments may be the new mice and the corporations, who are working hard to influence and partner with governments all over the planet, may be the new cats! There might actually be a new market for hairball remover!
Til next time.
Dear Gord is a satirical attempt to promote a serious and in-depth re-consideration of how we, our societies and our governments make decisions in light of the increasingly enormous influence that corporate lobbying, power, influence and seduction are having on our way of life. It is also a request to ask for thoughtful and serious reflection on what the role of government is and how it is becoming increasingly invasive in our lives and dependent on corporations. I hold that changing the world begins with changing our attitudes and becoming involved first in our own communities.
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