Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Fallen Soldiers

Canadian soldiers who were killed overseas and whose bodies are now coming back to Canada deserve the respect of Canadians and our gratitude. The media, however, have turned being respectful into a sideshow about the media's right to broadcast the return on live t.v. for their own media purposes.

The media has never been barred by the government from attending funerals or burials based on the wishes of the soldiers' families. In this case the government has banned the media from only broadcasting or attending when the soliders' remains arrive in Canada. There's nothing wrong with that. No one in government is saying that the media shouldn't report their return. But the fact is that in a war, and in this case a mission to create a stable "post-war" Afghanistan, there are going to be casualties and there has to be some protocol established. The former government didn't follow any set protocol and acted differently on different occasions. This government has said that it wants to follow a protocol that bars the media from the return ceremony. This is something that most soldiers in fact agree with based on, you guessed it, media reports.

My own take is that the media wants to blow this whole scenario out of proportion. Why make it a big issue and try and turn it into a controversy? To discredit the government? Maybe it's a slow news week? I think it's because the media is generally unsupportive of the Canadian effort in Afghanistan and is displaying is antipathy for the current government. I'm not suggesting the media not report the facts. They should do that, however, there is a diffence between reporting the facts and creating an issue where one doesnt' exist. Or what's worse is framing the issue in terms that reflect their own biases and not the reality of, in this case, the soldiers who are actually serving overseas.

Whatever the issue of the day, whether it is gang violence, gun crime, abortion, etc... the MSM seems to want to steer debate towards its own desired outcome. That's a sad scenario when really we should be expressing empathy with the families of the slain soldiers and expressing our best wishes and thanks to their families for the sacrifice they've made on our behalf.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Happy Baisakhi

Baisakhi signifies the birth of the Khalsa. The Sikh order that ideally signifies the highest virtues of man. Guru Gobind Singhji the tenth master of the Sikhs rallied the weak and made them Spiritual and Physical warriors through the high ideals exemplified by the Khalsa. There will be Khalsa Day parades throughout Canada in various cities. Tens of thousands will gather in varoius locales to express their beliefs.

On the birthday of the Khalsa I think we should reflect on our roots and where we are today and where we expect to go in the future. We came from a time when just being a Sikh was enough to warrant a death sentence from the ruling government of the day in South Asia. This was pretty much the case several times in Sikh history. So much for the myth of South Asian religious tolerance/ acceptance. Even today religious politics in South Asia can get you killed or at the least discriminated against.

Today, Sikhs have the right to freely practice their faith in many countries. We shouldn't take this lightly or expect that this will always be the case. Sikhs need to regularly drink from the well of inspiration provided by the Gurus and provided by the 11th Master - Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji today. Most of us don't take the time often enough. Our shared history and the examples of Spiritual and Physical bravery need to be learned and understood in context of today's world. We are facing the threat of terrorism and hardline beliefs that don't allow any space for opposition or free worship of belief systems other than those espoused by the would-be tyrants.

We only need look at the Taliban regime that ruled Afghanistan to see a glimpse of the master plan of hardline fascists. IF we want to avoid this future we need to align ourselves with those who believe as we do. In a free society where all can worship according his/her own desire. Legitimate expressions of faith on the part of leaders in this country and many others are frequently alluded to as being dangerous. How many times do you have to read in the newsprint or see on t.v. that someone is "scared" of George Bush or Stephen Harper because one or the other happens to mention God. It's ridiculous and a red herring. The Taliban didn't just have their own belief system, they expected everyone else to abide by it as well. Often, people were killed for not believing the same as them (see all of the executions in Kabul's soccer stadium for offences against Islam often related to adultery or immorality). Sikhs don't believe in torturing or killing anyone for their belief system. Guru Ji advised us to respect the fact that people believe in different faiths.

At the end of the day he advised us to be strong in our own faith system. If someone lives life as a Sikh and projects the confidence which the Guru showed us in life, then others will naturally see the beauty of Sikhi in action and be drawn towards it. We should strive towards the ideal exemplified by the 10th Guru and taught to us by the 11th. Even if we can't live all of the Sikh ideals, we should at least be moving in the direction of being better Sikhs and ipso facto, better human beings for the benefit of all people.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

And So It Begins...

The new session of Parliament is just gearing up and it promises to be interesting. Just how fast can the Conservatives deliver on their platform? The key is to get as much in as possible before the Libs, NDP and Bloc decide to pull the plug or the Conservatives decide they've done as much as they can and dissolve parliament on their own.

The following is what Conservative House Leader Rob Nicholson said to the CTV about the priorities of the Government:

He said it will focus on the five main priorities outlined by the Conservative party -- a GST cut, a child-care allowance, a new federal Accountability Act, a crackdown on crime and a health-care wait times guarantee.

Pretty simple. The sooner they get that done the better. They'll no doubt call an election as soon as they implement or pass these measures. IF the opposition thwarts their plans, they'll take it to the Canadian people and blame the opposition for forcing an election so soon after the last one. The last time no one wanted to take the heat for having an election. It will only be more difficult this time to do so for the opposition. Canadians will rightly feel the Libs, Bloc or NDP are only playing pure petty politics if they press the issue and bring the government down over something not seen to be "make or break" for the average Canadian.

Most people want to remove the GST (something the Libs promised, but never delivered and Sheila Copps had to resign over), help on child-care (money, plus corp. tax breaks for daycare spaces), real penalties for politicians who rip off Canadians (see the Liberal insiders in Quebec and Liberal party), tough on crime policies (esp. in Toronto due to the idiots shooting it up on the streets), and a health care wait time reduction (forced onto the national agenda by the Supremes).

Something I'd like to see get done asap is funding for the military in terms of new equipment. The troops in Afghanistan need better equipment and we also need some new naval power to patrol and exert our sovereignty over our northern waterways ie: the northwest passage.

Personally, I agree on one point with the opposition, the income tax cuts should stay (and increase) along with the GST cut. This will no doubt result in the Feds giving up tax revenue and force a reduction in services or, better yet, efficiency in the Public Sector delivery of services. Here's my vote for automating half the stuff the Feds do and reducing the size of the bureaucrat workforce and ministries to cover the revenue shortfall. I think they can do a more efficient job delivering the services we get at a lower cost. How about outsourcing all of the delivery or the back end processing to the private sector? Corporations do it, why not the Feds?

That however, is another topic for another day. Today is about the Throne speech and the start of a new parliament. I for one am looking forward to some needed reforms and the Conservatives keeping it simple and delivering on their five point plan.