A Message From Hedy Fry

In the midst of all the recent BC Liberal cuts and the federal budget, I received a Christmas update from my local MP, Hedy Fry.

Oh. My. God.

What are the things that piss me off? Let me count the ways.

1) Communication from a representative that doesn’t actually communicate anything of importance: the entire booklet consists of a Christmas greeting from Hedy, a Christmas greeting from the Prime Minister, and a half dozen or so pages consisting of a calender for the year (annotated not with political events, just ordinary holidays), and trivia factoids (again, little or no useful information).

What I want to know is what specific issues is Hedy addressing? What are the upcoming votes/bills/etc I should know about? I don’t need my MP to hold my hand on the political issues of the day, but if they’re going to send out mail under the guise of “connecting with the constituents” it better have some meat to it.

2) Paying for it: Does Hedy Fry, or any of the other MPs who send out these things, pay for the cost of printing, and distribution? Anyone know for sure? I’m guessing no. How many people out there got something similar from their own MP?? Anyone care to do the math? I’d like to think that the government is spending money wisely, but they keep proving me wrong. Sure, these kind of things are only small expenditures, but with 301 representatives for 10 million households, the costs add up quickly. If every MP sends one of these, and it costs fifty cents (probably closer to a dollar, really), that’s 5 million dollars! And for what it is, that isn’t really much value for the money.

3) Wasted paper: I hate junkmail in general…it’s a waste of paper, and again, I end up paying for it. My tax dollars are spent on recycling and waste disposal programs by the city. The more junk mail I get, the more tax money has to be spent on picking it up and disposing of it. Grrr. Oh, and of course, there are the added environmental repercussions. Double grrr.

Meanwhile, Hedy’s web site (www.hedyfry.com) is still under construction (“should be fully operational by the end of September”) and provides no information on what my representative is doing these days. Does anyone in government know the meaning of the word blog? I’m guessing no.

With all the money being spent on “connecting everyone”, you’d hope they be focusing some money on some real applications of the technology to lower costs and improve government. Nope. Welcome to Canada! You can’t e-mail your representative and expect a response, or conduct business with the government online, but at least you can surf for porn real quick. Yippee!

Too Thirsty To Fight

I’ve been seeing more and more of the future, and it scares the shit out of me. Last night, Ashley and I attended a screening of ‘This Is What Democracy Looks Like‘ put on by the local IndyMedia chapter. The film depicts the famous protest in Seattle during the World Trade Organization (WTO) conference. Like anyone who saw the media coverage, I thought I knew the large part of the story; I was wrong. People who did nothing more than dust off their often-unused right to free, peaceful assembly were being brutally gassed, pepper-sprayed, and even beaten.

One of the most dramatic moments is when a Seattle police officer warns the crowd that they are authorized to move the crowd using ‘pain enforcement’, and that if the crowd doesn’t move, then they will be the subject of that pain. This scene is shown just after a scene of the same officer talking to the protesters, stating that he’s never had to hurt anyone in 30 years, and as long as the protesters remain peaceful, he doesn’t intend to start now. So what happened?

The part that disturbs me is how eerily similar this is to the APEC incidents in Vancouver; similar peaceful protesters, similar abuses of basic rights. It’s four years since APEC, and the police inquiry just wrapped up with minimal public interest; the suspected involvement of the Prime Minister’s Office didn’t even make an appearance during the federal elections.

It’s all of the events, coupled with the numerous brutal applications of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) in the US, that should be serving as a wake up call for us all. Here I am in Chapters, a national book chain, ordering a drink from Starbucks even though they’re “the enemy”, global corporations bending governments to their will. During the WTO riots the CEO of Starbucks described the destruction of a few Starbucks windows as a travesty of justice; this is ironic, seeing as the riots only started because peaceful protesters were denied their constitutional rights. And yet here I am ordering coffee from this jerk. Why? Because I have no choice; if it’s not Starbucks, it’s Blendz, or Cuppa Java, or 7-Eleven.

So much choice, yet none at all at the same time.