Brown Study

Brown study

9 November 2019

9:00 AM

9 November 2019

9:00 AM

I had just settled down in Air Canada’s luxury airliner that would whisk me across the Pacific to Vancouver and opened the Globe and Mail to find that Greta Thunberg had beaten me to it. There she was, up on the dais outside the town hall, leading another school strike and praising the ‘brave young plaintiffs’ who have launched a court case against the Canadian government for its alleged inaction on climate change. I wonder if the government will file a counterclaim for all the benefits of industrial progress and civilisation it has conferred on Greta and her ilk and which come directly from the much-maligned fossil fuels like coal. It’s time we got some return from these parasites who take everything they can get and give nothing back. But somehow I don’t think Greta would be worried by a trifle like that when she has such a full program of demonstrations, strikes and opportunities to scare everyone with a selection from her range of scowls and grimaces. I also think she put on a special scowl just for me, more severe than the usual Mach 2 and well into Mach 3 territory. In fact, by the time we reached Vancouver, it was Halloween and I can tell you that if the kids were not scared witless by the ghouls and headless bodies, they would be petrified by Greta’s scowls.

Now there is some news I can give you. Greta is 16 and getting a bit long in the tooth for this sort of caper and there is an even younger activist coming up to take over from her. I say this because the media, as well as covering Greta’s menacing screams, gave some prominence to Lyra Blaze ( you heard it first here), a new activist who was at her rally in Vancouver and who, believe it or not, is all of five years- old and clearly ready to mount the barricades. She is a great fan of Greta because she ‘talks about the orcas (aka killer whales) and she tries to save the planet from all the bad guys’. Now if that is not an effective and compact climate change message, I don’t know what is. I would say young Lyra is the new Greta waiting in the wings.

Then of course there is Justin Trudeau, still reeling from his near-death experience in the recent federal elections. He lost his majority but will cling on to minority government. He is really damaged goods now and will never redeem his lost prestige. I have conducted some highly unscientific public opinion polls to assess what Canadians think of him and, frankly, it is not much. Putting my interviewees together as a composite person, Canadians have shattered the general image they had of Justin, of all-round handsome, woke, film star and heir to the sainted lefty darling Pierre Trudeau and replaced it with one of a slightly dubious operator on the fringes of propriety. Moreover, there is nothing quite so ridiculous as the punctured ego of a left-wing do-gooder, especially a cossetted and over-privileged one like Trudeau. His problem is that he is now seen as a fool and that is the worst image for anyone in politics. Part of being the fool comes from dressing himself and his family up in Indian clothes during a state visit and doing the dreaded blackface a couple of times. Yet it was not even such antics that undid him. It was more his craven capitulation and the creepy apologies, when he would have been better off to say it was all a product of a bygone era and that everyone should grow up. At least he would have won a few points for backbone.

Finally, I cannot get away from politics even when I am overseas. I agree with some of the claims being made in the Right to Know campaign. I agree with the claim that there should be faster, better and more willing compliance with the Freedom of Information Act. Having been a victim of half-hearted compliance and downright defiance of my requests under the Act, I wish the campaign luck in generating a more constructive attitude from the government. Indeed, I would make the FOI Act broader and I would require ministers not only to produce documents, but to give answers to specific questions on what they have been up to, whether there are documents involved or not. By itself, the result of my suggestion would make it easy for ministers to give an account of their doings, which they should support, as it would lead to better government. But I disagree with the proposal to give the media an exemption from national security and related legislation just because they are journalists. It is nonsense and will put lives and national security at risk. The other proposal with which I disagree intensely is the demand for so-called ‘reform’ of the defamation law. First, any proposal put up as a reform is a swindle, as reforms never improve anything; they make everything far more complicated and cost us all much more than was the case before the ‘reform’. My message: beware of politicians bearing reforms. You will lose your reputation. Secondly, media owners are motivated by self-interest. They are afraid it is too hard to win a defamation case and the damages are too high. They want the government to make it easier for them to destroy your reputation and get off scot-free. Ordinary citizens have only two assets to sell, their labour and their good reputation.

The industrial relations mafia prevents workers from free bargaining with their employers on a fair price for their labour. Now, the media mafia wants to prevent workers and everyone else from winning a fair price for their reputations. Demand an undertaking from your MP that they will vote against any change to the defamation law. It is there to protect you! ​

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