Thursday, 12 April 2012

policy & poetry



On the wall in my living room i have a number of framed prints, including this one of Alastair and i, with the Sydney Bridge arcing it's way behind us. There are people climbing the curve of the bridge, long gone now but forever on the upward climb, as captured in the photograph. (Scale being what it is, you cannot hope to see them.) This fellow slumped to our right, and the blue shoulder of another, complete the scene. Not a sunny day, nonetheless, memorable.

So, this is my favourite policy wonk, muse to many poems published and unpublished, and about to be published. First reader. Receiver of stories both trivial and deep.

I think a lot about what people mean to one another, in an abstract sense, and also, what making meaning means, how it all works. I like the idea of the guru, the unexpected teacher, and from that perspective, no one can ever say who is teaching who, because the process of learning is an escalation of sense, not a hierarchic handing off of packages in a one-way direction. I like to give him my stories, because i come to understand myself, my stories, him, and the world of stories generally, the world of people generally, a little better, each time that i do so.

There are things in the news, always, that disturb-- a Canadian minister announcing that he has re-instituted the need for visas to visit Canada specifically to prevent the flow of Roma, Gypsy people, humans of Roma descent, to our shores. Weeks later, another Canadian minister, shockingly, cynically, or perhaps just unconsciously, quoting a man killed by a sniper in order to celebrate the end of Canada's gun registry, a program that provinces and police forces want to keep in place, but the American rifle association no doubt pays to have removed, probably in cash and most certainly in "foreign influences." Last but not least, the talking heads, in response to the budget, saying that all those who predicted a fundamental change in Canadian social policy were wrong and alarmist, and must now eat their words....

The fact that so much change can be effectively mounted, all of it sliding under the radar of people who keep their eye on the middle class dollar, and can no longer respond to the deeper, wider, most fundamental flags of "human rights in Canada," "human rights under fire," "fundamental process of change underway," "social engineering: you are here," allows any who prefer despair to optimism to toss their hats aside and pick up the drink of choice for a deeper immersion. The focus in Canadian media is all on the hockey, or Olympics, or other mega-dollar distractions, or "American interests," and none of the gutting of the country that we all once knew.

Perhaps every policy wonk should have a poet to talk to. Certainly, this poet has profited through comparing world-views with a person who has been working all sides of the land claims and indigenous rights issues, for a number of decades. Poetry is about immediacy, with a long view, and policy is about the long view, and immediacy.

The trick is not to say, "this is how it is, i give up," but, "this is how it is so far."




Notes:
It is clear that Canada is a "gated community," and that the gatekeepers are the Americans, with their southern wall to keep out the central and south american humans, who nevertheless need to eat and earn: the visa changes as impacts the people of Mexico are simply supplemental. Canadians though also have the back of America: meet Tom Horne.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-biggers/arizonas-witch-hunt-of-me_b_839159.html 
 
Czech visa requirements & the Roma: http://www.radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/visa-rumours-spark-fears-as-canada-threatens-measures-on-roma-asylum-seekers
Baird + the Roma, context & resistance: http://rabble.ca/news/2012/04/new-film-tells-about-roma-or-gypsies-canada-wants-keep-out
Baird supportive of criminal class: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2009/07/14/czech-visas-mexico.html
Baird + the occupied territories: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/baird-lobbied-hard-against-palestinian-bid-for-statehood/article2396654/
Baird + how he represents "us": http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2012/02/13/Zip_Bairds_Lips/

Carolyn Bennett, MP, blog:
"After Question Period today, Elizabeth May pointed out the inappropriateness of Conservative MP John Williamson using a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. to express his triumphalism in killing the long gun registry.
@ElizabethMay: OK. Hearing Martin Luther King quoted by CPC about freedom fm the Long-gun registry is a low point. Was he killed by a long gun? #cdnpoli
"Indeed Martin Luther King was killed by a long gun, a Remington Gamemaster Model 760."
http://carolynbennett.liberal.ca/blog/conservatives-must-stop-quoting-from-martin-luther-king-jr-in-their-statements-on-killing-the-long-gun-registry/

Courts vs conservatives: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/11th-hour-battle-is-on-between-quebec-and-feds-over-destruction-of-gun-registry-146267505.html

Canadian recordkeeping: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/inside-politics-blog/2012/04/john-williamson-and-the-mystery-of-the-missing-martin-luther-king-quote.html

Budget, quality of analysis: "The media responds with a collective shrug. And the mainly centrist, moderately conservative populace, especially in vote-rich Ontario, is reassured that, far from having a dastardly hidden agenda, the Stephen Harper Conservatives are reasonable fellows."
http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/04/01/michael-den-tandt-stephen-harper-is-starting-to-look-a-lot-like-jean-chretien-policy-wise/

Budget, more: http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/03/30/aboriginals-blast-new-federal-budget-atleo-says-theres-room-for-hope-105593

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