Saturday, February 1, 2020

My Log 782: February 1 2020; Chronicles from my Tenth Decade: 218; I discover myself an object of attention: to make sure I don’t fall down; make sure I am eating enough; to guard me against various unpleasant ailments; I am an old man at last

Whoo-ee! I have discovered a whole new world, the world of the aged. I know I have been 91 for almost a year but somehow or other I never realized my position in life has changed. Suddenly, I have realized I am now an object to be carefully guarded, helped in every way possible, and even cherished, like I was some kind of valuable marble statue.    
  Indeed, I have discovered there are whole organizations whose very objective is my comfort. I had a visit the other day from one of these, a beautiful young woman called Maude, from France, an origin that pre-disposes me --- a man who has been a francophile ever  since 1952,when, on holiday from ration-book England,  I first set eyes on the  charcuteries and patisseries in even their small villages --- very much in her favour. Here was a people, their shops showed me, who like to eat well. And pretty soon, as I became accustomed to their language, I loved the sound of it. Any mastery in its use has escaped me, in spite of the ceaseless hours I have spent in its study since my arrival in Canada in 1954, so all I can do is listen to Maude and wish I could understand her in her own language. Of course, that doesn't really matter, because she speaks my language with a delightful French accent. So all this is to announce that I am hopelessly enamoured of her, after only one visit, and that I find it hard to believe that any city or provincial administration, or whichever agency may be responsible, could ever have been thoughtful enough to engage so wonderful a person as Maude, and assigned her to make sure I am always in good spirits.
But it is not only Maude who has enlivened my life. Since I  have been forced to use a walker I find people everywhere are opening and holding doors for me, and on arrival at the coffee shop, they are moving chairs to make way for me, and scurrying around to get me my favourite  newspaper, and otherwise making me feel I am still an object worthy of small attentions.
Not only that, my youngest son, Thom, who has recently very justifiably taken to denouncing me for some of the things I have done in the past, has put all that aside and in a full, and very much appreciated act of devotion, has taken to aiding me in every possible way, accompanying me on my medical visits, wheeling me on wheelchair through the endless corridors of the hospital, listening, and remembering evey detail of what the doctor says, arranging and collecting my medications, and even cooking me some evening meals at the end of his long day at work on his own affairs.  I am struck by how much worse would be my condition without his ceaseless acts of devotion. And how much I owe him for his kindness to me.
He even sits through the endless hours of waiting for appointments: it is the mark of a successful physician, apparently, that he has to keep his patients waiting for hours after the time set for his appointment, a phenomenon that Thom --- less given to outbursts of impatience than am I --- explained to me arises from the fact that every patient poses a different problem, takes an unforeseeable amount of time, and thus causes the doctor’s  timetable to be an inadequate guide to his or her day’s work.
Nowadays the thing I am most marvelling at is the vigour of the young, who zip past me on their strong legs --- so beautiful those strong young legs, I think, as they disappear into rhe distance before me – every one of them, it seems, completely unaware of, or at least taking completely for granted their youthful vigour and what a glorious asset it is to them, and one that will  unfortunately not last, so that they must take full advantage of it while they have got it. I remarked  the other day to a strange young woman in the elevator how lucky she was. She laughed and asked why. :”Because you can walk,”  I said . She looked at me with my walker, smiled at me, and said, as if taken by surprise,  “Oh yes, I must take advantage of it while I have got it.”
So at the moment it is my hip that is bothering me. My eyes, too,  of course. It has been a hell of a job to write this, even slowly. I find it difficult to place the sensor exactly where it is needed if I am to correct the many typos I make in writing these days. For someone who has rattled off millions of words over the years on my favoured little Italian typewriters, which were an inch or two bigger than this keyboard, this is a particular irritation.
Well, I’ll leave it there for the moment. I hope I can take up next time some subject of general interest about which I can at least express some opinion worthy of the name.
Meantime, in the words of the immortal archie (or was that mehetabel?) “wot the hell, wot the hell, toujours gai, toujours gai.”


Tuesday, January 21, 2020

My Log 781, January 21 2020: Chronicles from my Tenth Decade: 217: Once again the indigenous people have to face militarized poliee violence as they try to defend their lands from developments wanted by the European invaders, and the government that represents them

Well, all I can say, looking back 52 years to when I first looked into the lives of Canada’s indigenous people, is that although the publicity accorded them today is immensely greater than then (when they were hardly ever mentioned in the press) but that in many essential ways things have not changed that much.
In 1968 they were just emerging from many decades of deterioration. A few were going to high schools, a tiny handful made it to university: Their leaders, who had maintained a stubborn, heroic resistance during many decades of shabby treatment,  needed education so that they could confront the huge organized power of the federal government. One of their problems was that  their need for the Euro-eentred education clashed with their primary need, which was to re-discover pride in their indigenous heritage.
They have been working on that ever since, and that aim is largely achieved. But unfortunately their treatment by the Euro law administered by the Canadian government has not moved exponentially. Take a gander at this situation, described  today by the Defenders of the Land, the Truth Campaign and the Idle No More networks:
In December 1997, the Supreme Court of Canada issued the Delgamuukw-Gisday’way decision, which recognized the authority of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs over Wet’suwet’en Territory. Despite that Supreme Court court decision the federal and B.C. governments have approved  the Coastal Gaslink pipeline, a 670 km pipeline from Dawson Creek to the LNG Canada export terminal near Kitimat. It is a project of TC Energy based in Calgary…..As a consequence, today the Unist’ot’en face the possibility that the full violence of the Canadian state will be brought to bear against them.

Get that:  “…the full violence of the Canadian state will be brought to bear against them.” .And they ain’t kiddin’.Later in their document the .Defenders write:

 When they (the Wet’suwet’en people) enforced their own laws and required that industry seek Free, Prior, and Informed Consent for development on their lands, they faced a brutal display of militaristic police violence and an ongoing police occupation of their territories. We have all learned ….that RCMP… are prepared to kill unarmed Wet’suwet’en people if they continue to uphold their laws.

Already, our newly militarized police are being mobilized to uphold developments that ignore ancient rights and enforce injunctions airily granted by various courts.     Already, bulldozers have smashed into unceded Wet’suwet’en lands, making an unholy mess of them.

The defenders, in their document issued today, say that people all over Turtle Island have begun to hold rallies in defense of the hereditary rights of people who have occupied these unceded lands since time immemorial, by protesting Canada’s illegal encroachment on Wet’suwet’en land.  The message of the rally organizers is clear:
“Indigenous law is the law of the land on unceded territories, and traditional title-holders have the right to refuse access to their lands. Disregarding this ancient law in order to further expand fossil fuel production during a time of extreme climate crisis is irresponsible and unacceptable. Agents of the corporate state will face resistance if they continue to pursue resource colonialism during this climate emergency”.
I hope everyone in Canada takes notice of this warning from people who are unfortunately facing the full militarized might of the Canadian government violence machine. Let’s just repeat that warning:
Disregarding this ancient law in order to further expand fossil fuel production during a time of extreme climate crisis is irresponsible and unacceptable.
Somewhere or other our society seems to have got itself screwed up. Here we are with our many universities  and civilized agencies, threatening, and not only threatening, but actually unleashing violence against unarmed people who are defending land that our Supreme Court has recognized as belonging to them, while our agents of destruction smash through their lands in bulldozers, to make way for pipelines to carry energy needed by our society for something or other. In this case, it appears it is needed beeause the owners want to sell it for a huge profit abroad.
Unfortunately the British Columbia government, having not long ago officially recognized the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and declared it part of the law of the land, a declaration that provides that industry must have “free, prior, and informed consent” for any development being proposed for indigenous lands, has nevertheless collaborated in the invasion of the Wet’suwet’en lands by the builders of the pipeline, and of the use of governmental violence used against the peaceful protesters.
This is an argument that is likely to be played out across Canada in future years: the need for “free, prior and informed consent” given by indigenous people who lie in the path of any development, seems likely to clash with the Euro laws under which most projects are built. Indigenous leaders have said that they do not take from the UNDRIP formula that it gives them a veto over all development. At best though, it does give them the right to be consulted in advance, and to have arrived at a conclusion, hopefully a conclusion agreed with the developers, as to he conditions on which any work is done, or on where such work may be done.
And remember this: even if it does mean that they have the right to refuse projects, this would be no more than a mild form of payback for the indignities that were imposed on their people as the Europeans invaded Canada, and pushed the native people aside brutally, because they stood in the way of cutting down their forests, digging up their lands, robbing them of their heritage, and finally gathering most of them into small plots of land known as reserves, most of them on land so poor that thousands of them starved for want of any meaningful way to make a living.
Anyone wishing to support the Wet’suwet’en fight can contact the following:
E-Mail Communications Contact:
Sylvia McAdam, Idle No More Organizer, Cell: (306) 281-8158
Kanahus Manuel, Defenders of the Land, Spokesperson, Cell: (250) 852-3924
Russ Diabo, Truth Campaign, Spokesperson, Cell: (613) 296-0110  

Monday, January 20, 2020

My Log 781:  Jan 20,2020: Chronicles from my Tenth Decade: 216:

Canada caught in the middle; tomorrow’s extradition trial of Meng Wanzhou will challenge concepts of law and order, and is being watched closely by authorities everywhere

Tomorrow the extradition trial of Meng Wanzhou, the  senior executive in the Chinese telecommunications company, Huawei --- incidentally, the largest company in the world in its field of electronics --- opens in a Vancouver courtroom, apparently to the interest of people around the world who regard it as an opportunity to deliver a  lesson to the Chinese Communist leadership of how the rule of law should work.
I have written several times that Ms. Meng should have been released, because it appears that the request from the United States for her extradition was politically motivated, and there is nothing to compel Canada to follow US political direction, especially now under the bizarre influence of Donald Trump. To arguments that Canada is a country that follows the rule of law, I have hitherto argued that since no one except the Minister of Justice can order an extradition, our government’s argument is hollow to the extent that the final decision is a matter for political, and not necessarily legal,  decision.
But in what seems to have been a wide-ranging debate on this subject, that is viewed as reaching far beyond the borders of Canada, some powerful arguments have emerged, especially from some people who have been personally affected by the admittedly brutal Communist concept of and conduct of, law.
I do not underestimate this: in 1978, when China      was in full Communist mode, I remember as we were driven around the town of Shijazhuang,  coming upon what was called a struggle session, in which a line of hapless accused were standing on the back of a big truck, their hands behind their backs, their eyes penitentially cast towards the ground, in an atmosphere of complete subjection as  they were  ]being harangued by some authority figure in the name of justice. The fact was, and apparently still is, that in China under Communist rule, once you are accused of anything, you are almost automatically declared to be guilty, and there is no countervailing concept of impartial justice to protect you. When I put this idea to my lawyer son he replied that the system in Canada was not much different since accused persons have to wait in custody so long for their trial that it could be said of our system, as of theirs, that once you are accused you are in for the high jump.
An important revelation is made in today’s Globe and Mail in an article by their correspondent Nathan Vanderklippe, and it is followed by an article by two North American based, Montreal educated, Chinese lawyers, Times Wang and his sister Ti-ana Wang, who speak of recently meeting their father, Dr Wang Bingzhang, himself a lawyer,  who has been imprisoned in China since 2003 for his advocacy of human rights, and appears to be in for life. Their father made a surprising suggestion to his son, that he should try to be signed on to the legal team defending Ms. Meng. As the two children explained in n op ed article, their father said, “You’re both lawyers …Let’s show them what human rights really means.” That is not likely to happen but one can see Dr Wang’s point: teach and illustrate by showing how a decent legal system works.
There appear to be two routes by which Ms. Meng could be released rather than handed over to the erratic US legal system, which appears more and more to be coming under the influence of this nightmare  President. The first is what will be considered first in this week’s trial, and it is the question of whether the crime with which Ms Meng is charged can be considered also to be a crime  in Canada. The crime  concerns an alleged attempt to dodge sanctions imposed against Iran after the withdrawal of the United States from the five-power agreement with Iran engineered by Barack Obama.  Prima facie, as a lawyer might say, that seems like a closed and shut situation from the start. It cannot be said to have violated any Canadian law, so the case is closed.
The second route to freedom for Ms.Meng could be that our Minister of justice whoever he or she may be, might come to a decision that there is no case for her to answer, once the matter comes into his hands, and cancel the whole proceeding.  There is an assumption that in such a case, China would release the two Michaels who have been held in poor conditions in China for more than a  year, and that normal commercial relations  would be resumed, which would be a relief for many Canadian farmers.
What has happened is that Canada has been caught, not through any action of its own, between the two economic giants, China and the United States. Sine Canada has ben operating as a sort of American vassal in this case, it would appear to have every reason to get out of it by whatever means is available.
It will be interesting to watch the progress of this trial and to see how (and if) Canada can emerge from it with credit.