Lists bring a sense of order to the world.
More importantly, I look at lists like filters. They help me (and hopefully others that read this list and my Heroes list) identify what I think the most relevant activities / people / events in 2009 were. They help separate all of the noise that’s going on around us and get us right down to the fundamentals of who was naughty and who was nice during the last year.
Anyways, here goes (and apologies for the growing list):
#22: Scouts Canada
2009 was the first year that my son could enroll with Scouts Canada as a Beaver.
Having grown up with Scouts myself, I couldn’t wait. I was looking forward to reliving my own youth through my son’s eyes.
This was not going to happen.
Scouts Canada has failed to adapt with the times.
At the very basic level of the Beavers, they decided to ‘teach’ the young kids about soldiers, marching, using guns and even encouraging them to engage in gun play (with fake guns, of course) where they would chase each other and ‘shoot’ at each other in mock games.
To top it all off, it was on the night before Rememberance Day. I was disgusted and complained to the local leader, only to get a response that it was OK and that gun play is fun and harmless when done right.
I was furious and took my complaint to a local administrator, but was shut down and told to take it up with my local leader, even though I had forwarded the email from the local leader.
Scouts Canada faces extinction if it cannot adapt with the times. In the grand scheme of things, this was a small issue, but what happens when religion and the Queen enter the weekly running dialogue and series of chants that my son ‘must’ learn in order to ‘get the most’ from this institution?
What also bothers me is the constant ‘tithing’ or requests for donations that we receive every week. We already paid $150 for the year so that my son could run around a church basement. Yes, there are things that they provide without asking for more money, but we’re donating a loonie or toonie with every session, bumping up the annual commitment to something more like $250. There are also the endless fundraisers (Apple Day, Popcorn sales), all of which make me wonder why Scouts Canada needs so much damn money. I’d rather give this money to charity.
I now attend every meeting, but will not renew my son’s membership in 2010.
Also, I’m looking for a new group that my whole family can participate with. I’d like to join something that acknowledges and explores world cultures without being religious, but more importantly, something that we can join where we learn some basic outdoors skills while also learning how to be responsible about them.
#21: Darlington Spill
The tritium spill at Darlingon in December 2009 was glossed over by the OPG, Ontario’s government and the general media in an unbelievable wave of simplicity.
We have been told that there’s nothing wrong, but should we believe this?
This story was a small glimpse into the hazards related to the nuclear industry.
Please never install another nuke again. To be honest, I don’t care, but the future of our planet depends on not being so stupid.
#20: Religious Zealots (especially as Political Advisors)
The Toronto Star finally did a tell-all about how people like Charles McVety are effectively controlling policy direction in the Prime Minister’s office. We need more exploration of a similar and more intense nature. We need all Canadians to understand how these people are shaping policy for their own profit and gain, with little regard for the population at large.
These issues have reawakened the desire of all Canadians to separate Church and State.
#19: Don Cherry
Canada’s hockey ‘Don’ is a frustrating ‘tour de force’ that perpetuates two things in this country:
I support our troops just as much as I support our doctors, public policy analysts, our nurses, road workers, and the millions of other people in Canada that provide public services to all of us all the while having deficit cuts and public inquiries hanging over their heads.
And hockey violence? I will never enlist my son with hockey so long as nothing is done to curtail hockey violence in Canada. Don Cherry could do something about given his stature as a Canadian commentator with Hockey Night in Canada, but he doesn’t.
#18: The Nobel Peace Prize Committee
Barack Obama deserves the Nobel Peace Prize like I deserve an award for being the first male to give birth. Giving someone an award for something that they promise to do or might do is not the same as rewarding action. The likelihood of this happening, however, is marginal. I think even Obama knows this.
Therefore, the decision to give him the Peace Prize in 2009 is one made in error. Until the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are actually ended and the hundreds of US military installations around the world are untangled from the rubric of local affairs, I’ll insist that the man get the award.
Until then, find someone who is actually doing peaceful things.
#17: Asian Carp
Asian carp – a voracious and destructive breed of fish – threaten to invade the Great Lakes within the next few months to few years and this will spell disaster for the natural environment of these water systems.
Asian carp were first brought to Arkansas in 1963 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which wanted a natural way to control aquatic weeds, reducing the need for chemicals. Fish farms brought more carp to function as pond cleaners.
The fish started to escape as early as 1966, according to a Fish and Wildlife Service history. The Asian carp were spread by Mississippi River floods in the 1990s.
Once released, the insatiable fish quickly conquered local rivers and headed north to spawn and eat. Asian carp now dominate many parts of major rivers, including the Mississippi, Tennessee, Missouri, Ohio, Columbia and Platte rivers. A survey in an offshoot of the Mississippi River near St. Louis found 97% of the fish were Asian carp.
The other sad part of this story: the Asian Carp represent just one of the more than 150 invasive species to occupy the Great Lakes since the beginning of the 20th century.
#16: The CBC
Yes, the CBC most certainly deserves a unique mention in this year’s list, mainly because the management has done everything it can to grind ‘the mother ship’ into the ground, buy American programming, and regurgitate all of the PR and spin that comes from various spin doctors.
I think they also deserve to be singled out since they made the exceptionally poor decision to join the hordes of corporate shills behind the ‘LocalTVMatters’ campaign. Not only is CBC extremely lacking in local content, but their support gives a level of authenticity to the campaign that it otherwise lacks.
To top it all off, they (through CBC Radio) continue to produce the most abhorrent piece of propaghanda known as Afghanada. It is the bottom of the content barrel and even Goebbels would be proud.
#15: IOC / VANOC
When I was a kid, the Olympics meant a lot to me. It was a brief moment in time when all of the world stopped to cheer on the youngest, strongest, fastest and most talented athletes that we could offer to amateur competition.
Today, the Olympics represent nothing more than a big drain on public coffers, a massive never-ending advertisement, support for repressive regimes (has anyone seen reforms from China yet?) and, worst yet, near-Fascist in the control of information that will come from the Games as they’re played out in February of 2010. And I haven’t even begun to touch the issues related to native land claims.
The latest casualty of censorship and control was the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, which refuses to ‘mime’ their performance for the grand opening. Good for them.
I, for one, will not spend a minute watching the Games.
#14: Rupert Murdoch
In 2009, Mr. Murdoch of News Corp and Fox News fame essentially told Google to go screw itself and that all content produced by his companies would be hidden from search engines.
While thinking ‘hey, that would be a good thing, right?’ I also wondered if Mr. Murdoch had read the stock pages recently of his own Wall Street Journal for the list price of Google?
#13: The IMF and World Bank
2008 ended in near-complete financial anarchy. The economies of the world were barely pulled together only because the world’s largest economies and treasuries responded to the clarion call of a number of international institutions, particularly the World Bank and IMF, to generate a massive and unprecedented level of spend from public coffers.
I believe the action taken to encourage economic stability was misdirected in the form of incredibly large bailouts for companies and activities that needed them least of all (the banks and car manufacturers).
The short-term result was unprecedented deficits of all western governments.
The longer-term result: we will see 2010 and beyond be years of incredible slashing and burning of all public institutions.
I predict that anything that we hold dear in Canada – health care, the CBC, a legal system, etc – will be put on the block by Jim Flaherty. The entire array of government-owned property will be sold off at fire-sale prices to finance a fraction of the inappropriate spending on home renovations and tax-free savings accounts for the rich and roads for the mob. In fact, this story will prove to be a scandal of much larger proportion in 2010 than the Ad Scam was, assuming someone has the stones to do something about it.
#12: Dalton McGuinty and Gleb Campbell
The HST will sow the seeds of ruin for both Dalton McGuinty and Glen Campbell. It is Harris downloading at its best and will help the Cons shine while the rest of the country gets mired in political wrangling and the perception that it’s the provincial leaders brining about a tax increase.
Both of these men got screwed by the Cons, but we’re all going to get screwed by downloading.
Thanks for nothing, gents!
#11: Elizabeth May
“Where’s my home?”
Elizabeth May has run in 4 jurisdictions (London North-Centre, Central Nova, possibly Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, and in the next election, the Saanich-Gulf Islands in BC) since being elected leader of the Green Party and she needs to settle down.
Of course, I like Elizabeth. I like her broad knowledge base and ability to cite specific details in relation to environmental issues, legislative challenges and other elements related to her party’s platform. I like her the fact that she seems approachable.
In fact, I think that the Greens should still consider some way to partner with the NDP (despite vast political and ideological viewpoints) and find a way to minimize the destruction that both parties bring to each other at the benefit of the Cons. If they do, it will guarantee that either May or Layton will be top-ranked as Heroes in 2010.
And those are the only reasons why she didn’t get graduated to the Top 10 list of curmudgeons in 2009.
#10: Michaelle Jean
In 2009, Canada’s Governor General proved that the office was redundant and an insult to Canadians. Stephen Harper leveraged the office of the Governor General to prorogue, or effectively cancel the notion of democracy in Canada.
The situation proved that Canada is nothing more than a blob on a map for monarchists to do with as they please.
Thanks for another year of Conservative dictatorship, Michaelle! Thanks.
#9: Alberta’s Tar Sands
I don’t think I’m going to say much about the Tar Sands with the exception of this: Ed Stelmach is right in that we all have Tar Sands muck on our hands. As long as we accept transfers from the Wild Rose state province, we all have to accept responsibility.
#8: 10 Percenters
It used to be that Parliamentarians tried to communicate the wonderful things that they did in the House of Commons using what are called ‘10 Percenters‘. These mass mailings could go to households in other ridings – at no cost to the politician sending them – so long as the distribution did not exceed 10 percent of the households in their own constituency.
This ‘perk’ has proven to be a complete sham and is being abused by every single federal political party in Canada to spread malicious BS about anyone else that is a Parliamentarian.
Will 2010 be the end of the 10 Percenter? Let’s hope so.
#7: The CRTC
During 2009, the CRTC proved to Canadians that it doesn’t have a purpose.
Whether it was rules and regs about Net Neutrality, licensing and copyright issues or policies related to broadcast television, they clearly demonstrated that they are not connected with Canadians, but with the monopoly institutions that lobby the CRTC day and night.
Canadians are being lead to believe that we need things like CanCon or rules related to content programming for our broadcasters. Unfortunately, neither of these or other rules have done little to benefit Canadian artists.
#6: H1N1 ‘Hysteriosis’
The insanity that surrounded H1N1 vaccinations, the clinics, the media and people that were threatening violence if they didn’t get their shots was beyond obscene. All of the actors involved did nothing less than depreciate the human experience in 2009 and they should be ashamed.
2009’s H1N1 mania exceeded the insanity we saw with 2000’s Y2K. It was a mess that was compounded by the media’s inability to apply scrutiny to an awful situation. Moreover, several company did their best to act in their own interest and not with that of the public. It opens up the likelihood that any federal party that promises a public medical research institution will gain credibility with a wide array of Canadians that don’t believe companies should profit from hysteria.
The hidden story with the H1N1 fiasco: it highlighted the ways in which certain privatization zealots would attack Canada’s revered health system. Because private institutions were given medication ahead of public flu shot clinics, many wealthy and powerful Canadians will do their best to continue to get front-of-the-line access like they might at a Lexus dealership.
#5: Canadian Broadcasters
The dark side to the whole Canadian broadcast story the past decade or so has been the limitless, reckless overspending – especially by CTV – in order to attain total dominance in the marketplace. CTV has owned the Canadian Top-20 nationally the past decade with its deep line-up of American hits – American Idol, the CSIs, The Amazing Race, Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, the list goes on and on.
During – and, really, because of – that drive to dominance, the cost of importing American shows skyrocketed. Still, it seemed, no price was too high to keep a potential hit away from arch rival Canwest Global.
Now CTV wants you to cover their losses after recklessly overspending on the rights to the Olympic Games. The CTV-Rogers consortium paid a record $153 million U.S. when you include the rights to 2012. It was, some estimate, about $50 million more than CBC was prepared to bid at the time.
Times have changed. The companies that used to race to sponsor Olympic TV – mainly car companies and banks – got in ahead of the broadcasters for bailouts. The grand plan by CTV and Rogers to charge the highest ad rates in Olympic history ran smack into a stiff recession.
So now they’re going for the gold by asking Canadians – also hard-hit by the recession – to reach into their pockets and help them cover their losses.
If overspending was an Olympic event, CTV would win the gold, Global the silver, City the bronze. Don’t get taken for another ride in the KITT car, Canada. Let the buyers beware.
Along with the need to abolish the CRTC, we all need to send a signal to our politicians and broadcasters that we’re really not interested in watered-down pablum from the US.
Canadians can produce good content, but you have to let us go.
#4: Jim Flaherty
When this man talks, I have to turn off the radio or TV (although I have to admit that I don’t watch TV much anymore).
I’m left with a single question: did the people in Oshawa not learn their lesson when Flaherty was Michael Harris’ axe-man in the 1990s?
Shortly after Parliament was dissolved for the holidays, ‘Diamond Jim’ crouched over the collective fire pits of millions of Canadians and took a dump on their Christmas by threatening unprecedented cutbacks in public programs in order to finance the growing deficit. This was most likely a tactic done to appease the Conservative base but also avoid any real public scrutiny in the House of Commons. Bold move, Jim. Bold move.
What’s next? Stealing presents from under the tree and ‘taking burned out lightbulbs to repair them there and bring them back here’? When’s the moment when you and Max ride to the top of Mount Crumpet to discover that your heart is three sizes too small? Is there anything that will make your heart grow to normal proportions?
#3: Christie Blatchford
I’ll give her this: blogging in Canada wouldn’t have taken on the relevance that it has in just the last few weeks if Christie Blatchford hadn’t trashed Richard Colvin the way she did.
Her unfortunate acts against Colvin have not only ruined his character, but they’ve damaged the reputation of the Globe and Mail to a point where I believe there will be an internal riot that will ultimately destroy one of Canada’s most influential media institutions.
In fact, I would argue that her acts of bias have pushed the Globe into irrelevance, much like Rupert Murdoch has pushed Fox into a world of ‘Faux News’.
#2: Stephen Harper
I’m honestly not sure where to start.
Stephen Harper spent 2009 being at the centre of Canada’s rapid descent into last place with pretty much everything on this planet unless, of course, you’re talking about the world’s worst and we’re at the top.
The great thing about Steve is that he’s helped the world of bloggers develop a broad new lexicon to describe him and the Conservatives:
- “Harpooned” – anything that gets in Steve’s way gets Harpooned (democracy, Parliament, environment, etc).
- “Slippery Steve” – to date, nothing has stuck to Steve, but give it time. You can’t be mired in so much shit and not stink.
- “Harpocrisy” – the constant state of saying one thing and doing another (example: destroying the Liberals for their efforts to bring a carbon tax to Canada and then suggesting it might happen here simply because the US might want us to).
#1: Jack Layton
That’s right. I’ve saved Jack Layton for the very end. We all know that Stephen Harper is the most manipulative politician since Macchiavelli himself, and that Michael Ignatieff will continue to lead his party sideways for the rest of 2010 and beyond.
However, Jack Layton deserves the #1 spot for zeroes in 2009 for one simple reason: he helped the Conservatives retain their hold on power in Canada. I think Jack is the ‘friend’ that Stephen is singing about here.
I love the man, but the NDP made a single bad choice in the fall of 2009 by not stepping in to defeat the Conservatives when they could have.
Of course, an election wouldn’t have helped us collectively avoid our shameful disgrace in Copenhagen. However, we could have opened up the books on the Afghanistan detainee issue. We might have even been able to get what Jack wanted (EI reforms) if we simply pushed the Cons over the edge and brought on a new election in Canada.
That’s right: I would have welcomed an election in Canada again so that I could celebrate the fact that I live in a democracy and not in a tempestuous brine of political swill that swallows my sense of pride and dignity when I say I’m Canadian.
Maybe you’ll be reading this Jack and you’ll get the message that if you don’t want to lead, please step out of the way because there are lots of Canadians who believe our country is more than just about political aggrandizement and power grabs.
And if you’re reading this Jack, please take a note from your ‘friend’ and start thinking ahead 4 or 5 steps like Stephen Harper does. I don’t like the man, but I’ll give him this: he and the rest of the Cons are exceptional strategists. If you’re ever going to bring the NDP to power, you have to start thinking ahead instead of having knee-jerk reactions to various ‘turdblossoms’ that the Cons hurl at you because it’s exactly what they want you to do while they work behind the scenes on dismantling this country.
Another consideration (which I mentioned above) is that Jack needs to talk with the Greens. Together, they could come to rule this country if they work out some way to cast aside differences and stop chipping away at each other’s base. If they do, it will surely be an exceptional action worth noting in 2010.
In fact, I believe the future of our depends on it.
I’m sorry about writing such a massive list. However, after several days of effort and a lot of thought, I’m happy with my list, but I know that I missed a thousand examples of people being small, petty and miserable in 2009.
Please share your thoughts about who deserves the crown as a zero in 2009. I look forward to it!
P.S. I expect to have my list of ‘2009 Heroes’ polished and published within the next few days.