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LOEWEN: The good ship Christy Clark and Co. and the icebergs to come

Image Credit: Contributed/Jeffrey Loewen
September 17, 2014 - 7:34 AM

As I write today’s column, I am grateful that the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation and the Province have come to a tentative agreement that may result in our kids returning to their respective schools fairly soon now.

It would seem that the good ship Christy Clark and Co. has averted the proverbial iceberg and will live to continue navigating the increasingly unnavigable waters of the provincial political scene.

Now before you collectively exhale, folks, take another deep breath because it’s not over. And when I say “it” I don’t mean only the most recent imbroglio that threatened to keep teachers and students locked out in perpetuity.

You see, the recent labour dispute was not a one-off. It was symptomatic of what can only be accurately described as a clash of ideologies; and this clash is happening not only provincially at this time, it’s happening nationally, and, you guessed it, globally.

The question remains to be answered: How well prepared are Joe and Joanne Citizen for the crises that lie ahead? How engaged is the electorate on the increasingly complex issues that face us?

Over the course of the last several months, I have been so gobsmacked (although, thankfully, not at a loss for words) at the bald-faced ignorance of so many opinion-holders regarding the public education debate itself, that I shudder to think where their heads are at regarding so many other issues before us.

It would seem at times that the collective unconscious thinks that — regarding economic, environmental, and foreign policy — the way things are is somehow second nature, the way things should be. That Canada, by virtue of not taking quite the same drubbing that other countries did during the financial meltdown, is somehow inoculated against the winds that are shaking the rest of the planet to its knees.

Of course, there is nothing less natural than the earthly planes occupied by economics and politics. We have arrived at the present age through democratic elections, putting into positions of consequence those that have brokered a panoply of trade-agreements (with more to come), all with the sworn intentions of benefitting those that put the deal-brokers into power.

Read the last sentence with a double-edged meaning because the question remains for some: Who put the deal-brokers into power? Was it the electorate (that dwindling mass of disengaged choosers), or was it the companies that financed the campaigns of the winners?

For a few decades now, it would seem that the deal-brokers have been having a gay old time shifting wealth to the very richest, and undermining the opportunities for personal wealth-growth of the majority who pay the taxes. And the wealth-shift, as everyone has witnessed, has continued at an alarming rate to the point that even wealth-management gurus are looking a little embarrassed.

Christy Clark and her cadre, along with Prime Minister Harper and his conservative cadre, are emblematic of one side of the battle that continues to be waged everyday. Theirs is an ideology that focusses on economic principles that promise a trickle-down effect to the rest of us. But lightening the tax load for the very largest of companies with global reach and influence hasn’t exactly produced the promised benefits of more sustainable jobs and increased wages.

We have seen, however, what the shift to a globalized economy has visited upon us: wage stagnation, the decimation of the North American manufacturing sector, the destruction of small businesses unable to compete with the largest of the retail giants, and the disenfranchisement of public institutions like health care and, yes, public education. And all the while, the powers-that-be grow increasingly fat on the public purse. It’s depressing to say the least.

So rest awhile, dear reader. You will need your energy and fully-focussed attention attuned to the other icebergs that are just around the corner. Because, believe you me, Christy Clark and her ilk have the money and the think tanks (the Fraser Institute, Trinity Western University, to name but a couple); and they have the PR firms lined up to sell you their agenda at your expense.

What will you bring to the table? Do you have the insight to see through the immoral bafflegab and the corporate-media massaging of their message? Are you educated on the issues?

Better start boning up, friends, because school is looking like it will be back in session not just for our young scholars, but for each and every one of us.

—  Having lost his 2,500 volume library in the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire, Jeffrey is beginning to fill the void by writing his own. Reach him at jeff.loewen(at)gmail.com

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