What would bring you to enact true change in your country?

I’m sitting in the comfort of my armchair switching between CBC, BBC, Al Jazeera and CNN, watching the developments in Egypt.  Like Tunisia in the recent weeks, the citizens of Egypt have chosen to rise up and take on the ruling President Hosni Mubarak’s government.  It is clear to me that the citizens of both countries desperately want, in their words, “the brutal regimes to end.”

This is an example of a suppressed people fed up, especially as many sources state, that Mubarak’s reign has directly led to nearly half of Egypt’s population living on less than two dollars a day.  It was also noted that Mubarak lives in a bountiful bubble lined with his elite police force.  How he’s always been at arm’s-length from and on the shoulders of the down trodden citizen of Egypt.  Like many such brutal governments in history, people who opposed them either disappeared, were tortured or killed outright.  All this, again as history has shown, has let too many such revolutions of the people.

Then my mind wonders to my country, Canada.  Yes we here are, in the large part, safe in our homes… those who have homes.  Read the following from the CBC site “Homelessness ‘chronic’ in Canada: study” that states: “…between 200,000 and 300,000 people, while another 1.7 million residents struggle with “housing affordability issues…” and this is a first world country.  I live in downtown Vancouver and every single day I see many men and women on the street begging for money.  Many have mental issues, many addiction issues; but still, they are human beings treated as animals, thrown scraps in the form of coins, empty bottles… breaks the heart.

Then the growing gap between the rich and poor.  See Statistics Canada’s “Study: Inequality in wealth” report makes the following point: “Between 1999 and 2005, the median net worth of families in the top fifth of the wealth distribution increased by 19%, while the net worth of their counterparts in the bottom fifth remained virtually unchanged.”  Again, living downtown I see this disparity every day.  From the people lined up at McDeath’s (yes, McDonald’s) to the person dropping $5,000 for a new outfit and complaining it doesn’t fit right.  All on the same block!

Yesterday I watched the documentary The Refugees of the Blue Planet .  As noted on this site: “…sheds light on the little-known plight of a category of individuals who are suffering the repercussions of this reality: environmental refugees. They are constantly growing in number and often have no legal status, even though their right to a clean and sustainable environment has been violated.”  This documentary isn’t just about the more common victim in the form of third world countries, but also touches on families in Alberta forced off their land due to far too close and far too dangerous sour gas wells.  How it is so clear that the Alberta government’s oil profits have more weight than the families living in Alberta.

Read this article of “James Cameron in Alberta’s oil sands”from Macleans.ca.  I love the sub-title: “How the oil sands industry tried to convince him it’s not all bad”.  Indeed the oil sands are a “black eye” in Canada’s environmental record.  Especially noted in the oil sands watch site, tarsandswatch.org: “In Fort Chipewyan, Aboriginal people have reported large increases in cancer rates since the production of the tar sands upstream from their home has been increasing.”

Currently in Canada we have a minority government who is acting like a majority government.  And how already all three major political parties are ramping up for another election and how, for example, the 2008 election cost $300 million and I can’t imagine two years on how much more it will be.  Oh how my tax dollars are being wasted.  Not to say that it is entirely the fault of the politicians.  I truly wish more people would vote and that they not simply vote out the last government for a better evil, but think about why and who they are voting for!

Which brings me full circle to the citizens of Egypt and how they have to pay, many with their lives, to have the right to a good, safe, free life.  And here we are, getting fat in our armchairs, bitching about our government, and doing nothing else… what will you do?

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