Can’tada

Canadians have a longstanding tradition of complaining passionately but privately about the country we love. We will suffer the future with the same grace that has weathered us through economic downturns of the past. Our polite acceptance is not necessary before our water, soil and air are contaminated with the results of European industry.

The Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is a trade agreement currently in development intending to encourage European development of Canada’s natural resources. It would make the challenging of corporations by environmentalists very difficult ― perhaps impossible until the damage had been done and the money had been made. Yawn inducing? Of course it is. Could be that’s a corporatist conservative tactic, or simply the hoped-for outcome. Who knows.

The gist of this proposed agreement is LOTS MORE INDUSTRY. Lots more money, right? There is a perfectly legitimate upside to having lots more money. Lots more money is never a bad thing. Infrastructure! Roads! Health care! Police! Education! All very expensive things we like a lot and would like to see more of.

It could be a necessary step toward a functional, healthy world economy or a flying leap at an overly ambitious goal. Will Canadians see the disappearance of our natural resources the same way they watched the manufacturing sector shrink? Our government refuses to admit there even is an environment before it will commit to protecting it or not. The phrase “letting the fox guard the chickens” jumps to mind, quickly vanishes, and is replaced by a string of vehement, exhausted profanities.

We’re so desensitized now to any news about environmental degradation that the prevailing emotion is helpless apathy and total loss of confidence. Why get angry when there’s nothing we can do? Why grieve for the cancer victims of poisoned groundwater when they could have lived somewhere else in the first place? They knew there was drilling or a mine close by, they could have moved. Right?

Sure seems like in this country we look not at what someone could do or is doing, or has done or will do, but see only what they have not, can’t or won’t do. “You’re a farmer? Well, you’re only a farmer. Don’t bring us your concerns over soggy earth, contaminated soil, sickly yields. You failed. You understand that word don’t you.” “You’re an artist? So you’re a bum, right? If it isn’t mommies and daddies money-tit you’re sucking on it’s the government’s. Our taxes fund your gallery acquisition or that grant you’ve been told you need to win in order to have a career? Fuck you. That’s our blood our sweat our sacrifice. Never mind your own.” I’ve got one of these for every profession, I wish I didn’t.

Our government has written Canadians off because we have written each other off. We have been made to feel that we should not participate because we are ignorant. We have censored ourselves for fear of making the problem worse, and what have our politicians done with the peace so graciously bestowed on them by the Canadian public? They have moved backwards if they have moved at all.

Canadians aren’t without volition, intelligence or drive Mr. Prime Minister. We’ve been waiting for you to do your job properly and stop your self-satisfied smirking at our census and our bilingualism and our human rights commissions and all the other work Canada has done over the past century. You aren’t a King and are far from a fascist but the opportunity to show us that there are different solutions to Canada’s unique problems has been all but squandered in your pursuit of majority and projected inferiority complex. Is conservatism only as ethical as its strategists? Our memories might be longer than bargained for.

Here’s something. If I’m too stupid for you to care whether I support this plan or not, maybe you’re too smart for my money. I’m not going to be heading any governmental advisory programs any time soon, but as a Canadian I can argue whether you should listen to any of them before making these wide spread changes to our entire country and how it functions in the world.

I believe that a deal such as this trade agreement with Europe could be potentially mutually beneficial. Couldn’t we extract the materials we need from the Earth without trampling the rights of First Nations, killing all the wildlife in the area, irreparably affecting sites so they will sustain no agriculture, aquaculture or ecosystems whose bounty we haven’t even counted yet. Is that really impossible or is the question whether we care enough about our country to ensure that any foreign entity will clean up after itself. How accommodating do we have to be, do we have any self respect at all?

I want to know what is being done right now, in the present, and exactly how that will help my family and every family move into the future with a reasonable expectation of breathing air rather than smog, drinking tap water that hasn’t been poisoned, and eating food whose chemical content is low.

You know what our taxes fund? Politicians’ executive lifestyles and exorbitant pensions. Why don’t we take a look at those expenditures before turning on each other like starving dogs. Better yet, why don’t we stop whining about money. We have better things to do. Like, for instance, insist that this deal include stringent controls placed to protect future Canadians health, livelihood and our natural heritage.

Leanne Roed is the Grrrrrrraphics Editor at the Manitoban and would love to hear your thoughts on CETA.

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