Thursday, November 13, 2014

Insight into Harper that All Canadians Need To Know

Inky Mark Interview on Stephen Harper

Mr. Stephen Garvey, Executive Director of the Foundation for Democratic Advancement, interviews Mr. Inky Mark, who is the former mayor of Dauphin, Manitoba, and five-time Canadian Member of Parliament. Inky, who has vast knowledge and experience of Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party, shares his perspective and insights on this government and Canada's current Prime Minister. Inky raises a number of troubling issues about Harper, which will make most Canadians rethink their view of him and the future of Canada under Harper. This podcast will likely wake Canadians up to the reality of the current federal government and its impact on Canadian democracy and freedoms. For non-mainstream, insightful, and provocative discussion from people working in the field of national and international politics, listen in or download the FDA podcasts.

Inky Mark Interview on itunes

Inky Mark Interview on FDA RSS Feed

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Open Letter on Why the Conservative Party and Harper are Harming Canadians and World Stability

Photo of recent bombing in Iraq
The Foundation for Democratic Advancement (FDA) received this anonymous letter in response to the start of the current Canadian federal government's bombing adventure in Iraq and Syria. Due to the political climate in Canada, in which for examples the federal government has silenced Canadian scientists on climate change, labeled environmentalists terrorists, and is seeking reduction in Canadian freedoms, the FDA encourages freedom of expression of Canadians even if anonymous. Without criticism of the current federal government, which is suppose to represent the people, Canadians will be left with tyranny.

"1) The recent divisive vote to deploy warplanes, reconnaissance aircraft, support personnel, and special forces on a combat mission to Iraq – carried only by the Conservative government’s slim majority in the Parliament – was a bad decision for Canadians. It will make things worse, not better, for the people of the Middle East, and it will pull Canada deeper into another long quagmire of a war, just six months after the failed 12 year mission in Afghanistan. Moreover, this instance of mission creep is being conducted without United Nations Security Council approval, and it is therefore illegal under international law.

2) According to NDP Foreign Affairs Critic, Paul Dewar, who was part of the recent Canadian mission to Iraq, the Iraqi government asked that Canada send humanitarian, rather than military assistance. The Iraqi government also did not request that Canada become involved in Syria. Rather, it appears that it was completely at the initiative of the Harper Conservative government that Canadian troops have joined the latest U.S.-led "coalition of the willing" in Iraq. Also, former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, who, in 2003, wisely bowed to the wishes of hundreds of thousands of protesters in the streets – organized by the Canadian Peace Alliance and Collectif Échec à la Guerre – and refused to send Canadian troops to join Bush and Blair’s previous “coalition of the willing”, has recently spoken out against the present combat mission and urged a massive humanitarian mission instead.

3) The U.S. government and its allies have no right under international law to bomb targets inside Syria, without the approval and cooperation of the legitimate government of Syria.

It seems that the true purpose of the U.S. campaign against ISIL is not to destroy terrorism. In fact, since at least 2011, the US government and other countries involved with the “Friends of Syria” Group (FSG), including the current Canadian federal government, financed, armed, and organized a deadly covert war of aggression using jihadi mercenaries against Syria. ISIL grew out of this explicitly terrorist operation against the people of Syria, which so far resulted in about 200,000 deaths, millions of refugees, and the laying waste to much of Syria. In other words, the USA, Canada, and their FSG partners created this terrorist ISIL Frankenstein. In my opinion, the ISIL crisis is being used by the USA and some countries neighboring Syria as a pretext for bombing for regime change in Syria and perhaps, eventually, other countries such as Lebanon and Iran. The Turkish government’s recent call for a “no fly zone” over Syria is a case in point and reminiscent of NATO’s abuse of UN Resolution 1973 for the illegal overthrow of the government of Libya.

4) The U.S. government has "dirty hands." Its 2003 attack on Iraq was also without UN approval and left that country in ruins, with at least half a million dead, millions of refugees, and effectively split into three parts. The US government should not be entrusted to play any role in Iraq. In fact, the result of the U.S. and NATO-led "humanitarian" interventions in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Haiti, and Syria has uniformly been to make things much worse for civilians and to destroy the territorial integrity of those countries."


What can Canadians do to stop the current federal government's military aggression in the Middle East?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Insight into the Challenges Facing the U.S. Bombing Coalitition of Iraq and Syria

U.S. temporary memorial of Americans lost in Iraq (Photo source:
This open, anonymous letter was submitted to the Foundation for Democratic Advancement. The letter raises a main point about hypocrisy of expressed values, and armed conflict and its encouragement.

"If someone invades my country, I will join resistance, and I will fight back until I make the invader leave. Also, I will encourage my people to provoke a popular revolution against it to defeat the oppression and the aggression. Not only that, I will accept and welcome any help from abroad whether military or financial. I believe that people were born to live freely and to practice their rights in a democratic way without interference from any side and to enjoy their lives peacefully. In fact, many countries in this world especially the ones who consider themselves democratic are totally a far cry from this expression because they are supporting terrorist groups and encourage fights, deaths, and devastation. Actually, the UN Security Council should get involved and take decisive actions to stop the disputes, disagreements, and wars that are occurring in this world."  


Is the Security Council the answer to preventing further conflict? What about the permanent members veto?

How can countries be made accountable for their hypocrisy and inconsistency between their expressed values and actions? What is causing this lack of accountability?

Open Letter on Canada's Indian Residential Schools

Battleford Industrial School (Battleford, Saskatchewan) (Photo by D. Cadzow)
This open, anonymous letter was submitted to the Foundation for Democratic Advancement. The letter raises a number important questions about human rights and democracy in Canada.

“Schools, by definition, are places of learning; where the minds of young children can flourish in a safe and psychologically constructive environment. Yet some of Canada’s earliest schools were in fact aggressive assimilation camps where Aboriginal children were forcibly placed into, with or without the consent of their parents. Little was truly taught in the schools other than menial work skills and academia sufficient for grade 3 curriculum. Mostly these schools were intended to eradicate the Aboriginal culture and languages of the children and set them on a path of brutal assimilation into a society that did not particular care whether they assimilated or were merely culturally destroyed. The schools teachings were constructed around Christian values and beliefs. Thus much of the lessons taught were in praise of religious doctrine, and the “civilized” ethics and morals of the time. Children who attempted to conduct their indigenous beliefs in the residential schools were punished. So extreme were these restrictions that, even those caught talking in a native language were penalized by having needles stuck in their tongues. These forms of barbarism may seem a horrid and dead ignorance. Yet, many are often surprised to find that the last residential school was shut down in 1996, a mere 18 years ago, and the first residential school, Mohawk Indian Residential School, opened in 1831 in Brantford, Ontario.

The children would hardly see their parents, since the school year lasted 10 months. The schools operated on a half-a-day structure whereby half the day would be spent in the classroom and the other half working. This work was in reality meant more so for the maintenance of the school itself, rather than any legitimate educational value. However, the full horrors of the school were only recently uncovered, thanks to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, whose goal was to raise awareness of the atrocities of the residential schools, through eye-witness and written testimonies. The testimonies spoke of children who were, physically, psychologically and sexually abused. Others died either from disease or infections, or practical murder. Cecile Ketlo, who attended Lejac Indian Residential School was one of the many to speak of such events:

"We had chores to do. Like you go into the bakery. You go to work as a cook, or work in the egg room. I tried cooking and they kicked me out because I fainted on them. So I didn’t really learn how to cook. I didn’t know how to bake. I never worked in the bakery."

Others painted an even grimmer picture of the untold dealings, such as Grant Severight who attended St. Philips Indian Residential School, stating:

"I was sexually molested by a school teacher, I mean not a school teacher, but the music teacher. He used to take me into piano practice during study sessions. He would come and get me from the classroom and take me to the room and do funny things. He used to pay me. He used to give me money for it. I didn’t really like it. For a while I thought I was the only one that he was doing that to, so I kept it kind of to myself. I never told anybody because of the shame and maybe the boys would make fun of me. But then I started noticing he was taking other boys and one day I kind of followed, just kind of sneaking behind. I was peaking through the curtains to see if that boy was actually having piano practice but he wasn’t. That man was sexually fondling him and kissing him."

Countless others have told their story, many of which can be read or heard on The original number of the victims that died was 4,000 but in light of recent testimonies, the numbers may be higher.

Despite the horrid atrocities the biggest issue of the residential schools, lies in the here and now. It lies in an Aboriginal culture forever scarred by the travesties forced upon them. Many Canadians don’t fully grasp the generational impact such systematic brutality has on the later generations. Even today's Aboriginal youth still suffers from the aftereffects of the residential schools in forms such as grief and hopelessness and loss of self-esteem. No one can change the past, yet we all have a responsibility as Canadians to change the present. We all have a responsibility to realize what truly went on within Canada’s residential schools and consider how it impacts the contemporary Aboriginal society of Canada. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission and others like it are an important branch of education in this manner, and should continue to be supported by Canadians, coast to coast."


How can a similar tragedy be prevented in Canada again?

What are the flaws in the Canadian federal system that allowed the residential school system to exist for 177 years?

Further reading

Truth and Reconciliation Commission

The Indigenous Foundation of the University of B.C.

Where are the Children 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Open Letter on Cause of Western Bombing Campaign Against ISIS

Below is an excerpt from an open, anonymous letter to the Foundation for Democratic Advancement on the cause of the western bombing campaign against ISIS:

 "Oil and Israel. That is what modern Middle Eastern geopolitics are usually about. Given the vast energy resources required for western economies, influence and involvement in the Middle East has been of paramount importance for many countries. World oil and gas companies have major investments not just in northern Iraq and Syria, but everywhere in the Middle East (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Oman, Yemen, Iran). ISIS may threaten the stability of these rich oil countries. Also, Suez Canal and Bab-el-Mandeb are considered two of the world’s oil transit chokepoints. If these chokepoints become under the control of ISIS, you can imagine what would happen. As you know Jordan is close to Syria, and I think it is easy for ISIS to invade it if they take over Syria, then you have the Sinai Peninsula (Suez Canal there) and armed tribes and groups who hate the current Egyptian government and may support ISIS."

Oil Transit Points

ISIS Influence in Egypt

ISIS Influence in Egypt1


Given the excerpt above, why so far are no countries willing to battle ISIS on the ground with troops? 

Is democracy possible in the Middle East when geopolitics trumps everything?

If there was no oil involved with ISIS, how much interest would there be in the organization?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Open Letters on ISIS and Canada's Military Involvement

Below are excerpts from open, anonymous letters to the Foundation for Democratic Advancement on the current Canadian federal government's decision to partake in a bombing campaign against ISIS:

"The coalition military campaign is in the interest of the Syrian regime and against the Syrian people. Even the bombing strikes that they are going to do are unproductive because they will hit empty buildings or kill civilians. Also, the main reason that pushed the current Canadian federal government (Conservative Party of Canada led by Harper) to get involved in this conflict is that ISIS now has control over a vast territory and its oil resources, from which it intends to launch a terrorist jihad, not only against targets in the region, but on a global basis. Actually, ISIS has specifically targeted Canada and Canadians. What I mean is by controlling oil resources, ISIS will compete with oil producing countries such as Canada through selling oil in the black market, and this situation is unsuitable for the current federal government and its special interest partners."

"The coalition airstrikes won’t work to stop ISIS. More and more people around the globe are joining ISIS everyday for the reasons mentioned in this article. Even non-Muslims are converting to Islam to join ISIS to get the incentives (salary, house etc.). Instead of wasting billions of dollars on these airstrikes, the US and its allies ought to give aid to impoverished people in the region in order to help them have a better future. Poor people think it’s better to join ISIS instead of living a helpless and painful life. Also, western governments need to have programs that will help improve the integration of Muslim immigrants. The western media and some politicians play a role in fueling hatred against Muslims and consider Muslims terrorists."


What are the democratic implications of the current Canadian federal government participating in a bombing campaign that will kill civilians and likely increase new recruits into ISIS?

Should the current Canadian federal government be accountable for any resulting domestic terrorism linked to ISIS?

Should oil interests come before the well-being and safety of Canadians?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

2014 FDA Process Review of the Alberta Municipal Levies

Executive Summary

The Foundation for Democratic Advancement (FDA) asserts that municipalities like any other government department and agency, corporation, and non-profit/charity organization are expected to operate efficiently and effectively in order to provide adequate services at reasonable cost. In this report, the FDA is not promoting and will never promote the idea that municipalities have the right to impose their own levies in order to create more revenue. The reader knows that extra revenue and abundance of cash and resources may lead to complacency, inefficiency, waste, and corruption. However, the FDA supports and advocates that municipalities have the right, when needed and warranted, to supplement their revenue in order to provide services and develop and maintain safe and reliable communities.

In its research, the Foundation for Democratic Advancement uncovers the bias of section 648 of the Alberta Municipal Government Act (MGA, 2000) and the section’s inconsistent application throughout Alberta. As it stands, section 648 only allows Alberta municipalities to charge hard infrastructure levies (such as charges for sewer or water infrastructure) on new off-site developments as opposed to municipalities having the discretionary capacity to charge for both hard and soft levies which includes police and fire services, parks, and community infrastructure. Currently, several Alberta cities (most notably the City of Calgary) bypass this restriction on levies by signing private negotiated agreements (standard development agreements) with development community stakeholders. These agreements allow the City of Calgary, for instance, to charge also for soft infrastructure levies because the development industry agreed to them, and therefore it cannot sue on grounds of violation of the MGA. All other Alberta municipalities are restricted to charging only hard infrastructure levies unless they too can negotiate private agreements with developers and/or developer associations. Moreover, the Government of Alberta ignores the bypass of section 648 by Alberta municipalities.

In the FDA’s view, section 648 is a process shortcoming by allowing developers to either avoid soft infrastructure levies or negotiate low levies from a strong negotiating position. In either scenario, Alberta municipal taxpayers likely pay more for the capital costs of new off-site developments, while developers, which are the principle profit beneficiaries of new developments, pay less. This issue resolves around who pays for soft infrastructure which is critical to new off-site infrastructure and the ability of municipalities to maintain safe and viable communities (MGA, Part 1, Section 3).

An off-site levy is one financing source to both pay for growth-related infrastructure and pass on infrastructure costs to those individuals and organizations who are the primary beneficiaries of the growth, and thereby ensure “growth pays for growth” (Baumeister, 2012; Slack, 2012; Corvus, 2014). If developers assume full cost of growth-related infrastructure, then their profits will be less, or the additional development charges will be passed onto the consumer which will increase the cost of new developments. If the municipal taxpayers absorb the cost of growth then their tax rates will be higher, and the consumer cost of new off-site developments may be lower, unless developers set higher profit margins and keep the difference.

Currently under section 648, Alberta taxpayers likely have higher municipal tax rates and/or deferred tax in the form of municipal debt from unfair soft infrastructure costs. Also, FDA financial analysis shows that Alberta small and medium municipalities may be facing unfunded liability and/or debt from their limited ability to charge for growth-related soft infrastructure. In contrast, developers have greater profits from new off-site developments through low soft infrastructure levies or no soft levies at all. Related to this issue, both rural and urban Alberta municipal associations (AAMD&C and AUMA) have passed repeated resolutions requesting that the Government of Alberta amend section 648 in order to give municipalities the legislative authority and discretionary capacity to charge for both hard and soft infrastructure in regard to off-site developments and in response to new and additional service requirements and demands (AAMD&C, Resolution 6-07F, 2007 and Resolution 4-11S, 2011; AUMA, Resolution C.ii.3, 2008 and Resolution C.ii.3, 2011).

Through its analysis and professional experience, the FDA believes the process limitation of section 648 is a political decision because the Government of Alberta has authority over the contents of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) including amendments. How could this limitation be accepted and even passed by elected officials who ought to represent the interests of all Albertans? Why are most Albertans uninformed about this issue, especially when it affects how much municipal tax they pay and impacts all Alberta municipalities? How can the Government of Alberta ignore the repeated resolutions of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties, and the Alberta Urban Municipal Association? These resolutions in essence mean every Alberta municipality wants to be granted the ability to charge for growth-related soft infrastructure in order to meet the service demands of new growth.

The FDA believes that section 648 is rooted in democratic and electoral issues. In particular, the FDA believes that Alberta lacks guiding fundamental democratic principles for its provincial and municipal democracies (as compared for instance to the State of California) and that provincial elected officials have substantive political say in the Alberta Legislature, while Albertans have given substantive political say only on Election Day, barring government initiated referendums. To illustrate, Alberta has no mechanisms for citizen-initiated referendum or recall, or citizen-initiated legislation. Compounding this inherent political bias to elected officials over the voice of Albertans, and lack of concrete democratic principles of Alberta democracy such as "all political power is inherent in the people" (CSC, 1879, Article 2, Section 1), the fairness of the Alberta provincial electoral system is compromised by a number of legislative biases to large, established parties (FDA Electoral Fairness Report on Alberta, 2012).

The FDA concludes that Alberta requires reform in its election law and governance practices. Simply amending section 648 of the MGA by allowing municipalities to charge developers soft infrastructure levies ignores deficiencies in Alberta democracy and its corresponding reduction in the rights and political power of its citizens. The FDA recommends that all Albertans within their means get involved with the Alberta legislative process and implementation if they want to protect and advance their democratic voice, and create a society of their choosing.

"If liberty and equality, as is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in government to the utmost."
- Aristotle

2014 FDA Process Review of Alberta Municipal Levies

Friday, February 28, 2014

March 8 FDA Public Forum on Alberta Municipal Processes

On March 8, 2014, the FDA will be hosting a public forum on Alberta municipal processes. There will be a number of guest speaks and youth jury which will weigh in on the ideas discussed. Let your voice be heard!

Rocky View Weekly Article on the FDA Forum

Various Links Related to March 8 Forum

Sunday, February 9, 2014

CPC Bill C-23 "Fair Elections Act" Shortcomings of Canadian Federal Democracy

Photo of Bill C-23, Amendment to Canada Elections Act, First Reading before the Canadian House of Commons
The Conservative Party of Canada's Bill C-23 "Fair Elections Act" showcases significant shortcomings of Canadian federal democracy. The FDA and DAPC believes these shortcomings can only be overcome by a united Canadian people.

Since its confederation in 1867, Canada has been stuck in a representative democracy mode, in which the Canadian people are merely consulted, at best, on profound issues which affect all Canadians, and they are given one vote each in federal elections every four years or so, and the opportunity to run as candidates in these elections.

The FDA and DAPC believes that the current Canadian federal government is a top-down elitist system of governance. Bill-C-23 "Fair Election Act" showcases this top-down approach and a number of flaws with the Canadian federal system:
  1. The majority ruling party, with the support of its caucus, has final say over legislation before the House of Commons subject to consistency with the Canadian Constitution.
  2. The majority ruling party determines the laws of federal elections despite the conflict of interest of being a participant in them.
  3. There is no legal mandate on the majority ruling party to empower Canadians via referendums on decisions which affect all Canadians, such as which take places in countries like Switzerland and even Venezuela.
  4. There are no federal recall mechanisms to allow Canadians to remove Members of Parliament and Senators, including the Prime Minister.
  5. Due to the First-Past-the-Post system, a minority government like the Conservative Party of Canada can form a majority ruling party although it does not really represent a majority of Canadians. 

Bill C-23 "Fair Elections Act" illustrates the undemocratic impact of Canada's federal system of governance.

I am not going into all the details of this 244 page document. Instead I will focus on what is not in the document, and some significant items that are in the document.

First off, I believe the notion "Fair Elections Act" is a form of Orwellian doublespeak with the likely intent to deceive Canadians as to the true intent of this Act. Case in point, if the amended Elections Act was truly fair to all registered parties and Canadians as a whole, there would be no reason to call it "Fair".

Bill C-23 "Fair Elections Act"

What is not in the Act
  1. There is no section which promotes a fair and equal playing field of registered parties.
  2. There is no section which encourages broad and balanced media campaign coverage during the election period.
  3. There is no section which encourages and supports new registered political parties such as the 1 percent public subsidy rule in France. 
  4. There is no section which encourages fair and equal campaign finances between registered parties.
  5. There is no section which allows all registered parties to participate in the two national debates such as in New Zealand. There is no mention of the national debates.
  6. There is no section which establishes a fair distribution of public funds to all registered parties. The 2 percent and 5 percent rule favours large established parties over new and small parties.
  7. There is no section which deals with the significant shortcomings of the first-past-the-post system of valuing votes.
  8. There is no section which bans the use of "robo-calls" or at least sets usage limits on them during the election period.  
For more information of the shortcoming of the Canadian federal electoral system see the 2013 FDA Report on Canadian Federal Electoral System

What is in the Act
  1. The Canadian-Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission, rather than Elections Canada, is responsible for administration and enforcement of robo call legislation. (This amendment weakens the authority of Elections Canada over federal elections, and it allows a potentially partisan government body to oversee an aspect of federal elections.)
  2. Contributions by candidates to their own campaigns have increased from $1, 000.00 to $5,000 for candidates and $1,000 to $25,000 for leadership candidates. (This amendment allows leadership candidates to have a potential distinct electoral finance advantage, and the amendment overall favours wealthy candidates over less wealthy candidates.)
  3. The current campaign expenditure limits of $2.07 for each of the first 15,000 electors, $1.04 for each of the next 10,000 electors, and $0.52 for each of the remaining electors is replaced by $0.735 for each of the electors. Although this amendment simplifies the calculation, it does not account for the difference in number of electors per square kilometers between rural and urban areas, and the increased cost of campaigning in rural areas. If there are 100,000 electors in an electoral district, under current legislation that would results in $84,500 campaign expenditure limit; under the amendment, it would result in $73,500.
  4. As in the current Act, the Canadian public subsidizes registered parties 50 percent of their campaign expenses subject to the 2 percent and 5 percent rule. This rule favours large established parties over new and small parties. There are no provisions to phase out the public subsidies, instead the legislation stops at a quarterly allowance of $0.1275 multiplied by number valid votes cast in election as of April 1, 2014.
  5. The Receiver General shall reimbursement 60 percent (less partial installment) of election and personal expenses of candidates who are elected and/or received at least 10 percent of the electoral district vote. This provision favours candidates of large, established parties over candidates of new and small parties.
  6. Commissioner of Canada Elections oversees election complaints and enforcement. The Commissioner is appointed by the Director of Public Prosecutions, and the Chief Electoral Officer has no say as to who the Commissioner is. The Director of Public Prosecutions is overseen by the Attorney General of Canada who is appointed by the Prime Minister. (The provision weakens significantly the role of Elections Canada in administering elections and enforcing the Elections Act, and allows potentially a partisan individual to oversee election complaints and enforcement.)

What do you think?

Mr. Stephen Garvey, Founder and Executive Director Foundation for Democratic Advancement and Elected Interim Leader of the Democratic Advancement Party of Canada (DAPC)

CPC Bill C-23 "Fair Elections Act, First Reading of Full Document

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Dangers of Disengagement and Complacency in Democracy

What If We Reached Out?
One Woman’s Answer to Terrorism

By Grete Roland

Questions continue to nag at me regarding the Oslo terrorist of 2011: How could a person raised in a democracy, a Norwegian with privileges not enjoyed by the vast majority worldwide, commit such callous acts of murder? How has this lone man’s terrorism affected the society and the nation? Also, how can such a murderous rampage be prevented from happening again in Norway and other democratic nations? Just as one person was capable of murdering 77 people in Norway, one woman found the answer to theses nagging questions.

Acts of terrorism have reverberated across the planet and resulted in many tragedies. In the western world, we readily conclude that a suicide bomber in the Middle East is a religious fanatic brainwashed at an early age to be a martyr for a cause. The woven pattern varies, but the Oslo terrorist is cut from the same cloth: he believes he’s a hero and a martyr. He bragged recently that his intention was to kill all the unsuspecting, unarmed people, mostly youth, on the Utoeya fjord island near Oslo.

No doubt, every society has someone with a screw loose, some societies more than others. Therefore, it was inevitable that even Oslo, the icon of peace in the world, would have one lurking in the shadows just waiting for an opportunity to gain world notoriety for the age-old notion of superiority over those who are different. Although predators exist everywhere, some have a more grandiose, ego-inflating political agenda. Commentators have said the tragedy could have been averted: if only the Norwegian authorities had paid more attention to terrorism in neighboring Sweden, the United Kingdom, and other European countries; if only it hadn’t been so easy for the predator to go unnoticed while making bombs and acquiring weapons; if only the security on the island had been present for such a prominent political gathering; and if only a rescue mission had been on alert; then fewer deaths may have occurred or maybe none at all. These all have validity and security has been tightened in Norway 'Hindsight is one hundred percent,' the saying goes. And there is another 'if only' to consider.

After the initial shock and repeated 'if only' laments spanning the news media, I thought about my aunt and what she had said and done some years ago while I was living with her in Oslo. After World War II, women had joined the workforce and became more educated. A few were stepping up to leadership positions. This situation resulted in a lot of necessary and available jobs in cleaning, maintenance, constructing, and other work not requiring a high level of education and responsibility. Pakistan, on the other hand, was brimming over with unskilled workers. When Pakistanis were invited by the government, they came willingly to Norway with aspirations for a better life, if not for themselves, for their children.

My Aunt felt sorry for the newcomers. We had long talks about the Pakistanis and the sometimes positive and sometimes negative news coverage of native Norwegian reactions. She had discussions and arguments with her colleagues, friends, and neighbors. Most of them accepted the new immigrants, yet felt they should keep to their side of the city or return to their own country after a specified time. As long as they didn’t have to be with THEM, it was all right that they stuck to the menial tasks no one else wanted anyway.

Aunt G. felt differently: The Pakistanis must be suffering to have come from such a warm climate to snowy, icy Norway. They must miss the many bright, sunny days in their home country. They must be lonely amidst the cool, reserved Norwegians. They must be gagging at the strange food. Their children were definitely caught in the twilight zone. Already, 'mobbing' or bullying was taking place. The darker-skinned, black-haired children, whose parents barely spoke Norwegian and could hardly protect them, were either tormented or ignored, and all the while the schools were teaching them to be good Norwegians. "Those poor children..." she sighed. So, she decided to join them She found the place where Pakistanis met to socialize A cooking group was formed in the 'foreign area,' and she drove all the way to the other side of town to reach out to them, actually to cook with them My dear aunt was an excellent cook, able to whip up French éclairs, Argentine empanadas, and Brazilian stews besides our well-loved Norwegian dishes. She was eager to share her recipes and to learn Pakistani cuisine.

We used to sit in the living room after dinner for coffee and a smoke She told me about the Pakistani women, their stories, and the spices they used in their cooking She didn’t discuss religion with them. Her ideas were diverse and developed over many years of reading and experience living in several countries Who cares about religion when there's a delicious meal to prepare and savor! She had crossed the ethnic divide to make friends with people who were different from a distance yet pretty much the same up close with feelings of loneliness, anger, frustration, and the strong desire to belong to their new country. Not the least to mention, they were all enjoying themselves Aunt G. was her very own welcome-to-Norway committee.

There are potential angels and devils among us, our religious friends often say. How can we know which is which or who is who? I believe we really should try harder, as she did, not only to know our neighbors but also to know the others, those different and marginalized in our society. We should take heart and talk openly about our feelings and encourage others to do the same. We should have compassion for the lonely and alone, for the different ones, whether by ability, by origin, or by distorted thinking. For the latter, we should be vigilant, especially by attention to those whose anger or obsessions appear abnormal. As a country increasingly diversifies, isolation will only undermine a healthy and safe, democratic society.

It also struck me that just as Christians believe there is an Antichrist, there is an 'Anti-democratist' or Fascist whose goal it is to destroy democracy in every-which way. Clearly, they are polar opposites: fascism vs. democracy, slavery to the State vs. individual freedom of choice For democracy to survive, education is crucial, for example, knowledge of history, sociology, psychology, and anthropology. Along with these disciplines, the humanities are equally important to nurture creative, critical, and logical thinking. Education includes the media, newspapers and magazines along with television, the internet and iPhone Without knowing how to interpret information discerningly and truthfully, any information tool is useless or dangerous.

Two broad personality types require your watchfulness: the unintentional type who is apolitical and indifferent and the 'anti-democratists', who intentionally undermine democracy. The first one shuts out different views by refusing to listen and discuss them. This kind of person, metaphorically 'blind-deaf-dumb,' has lost the point of democratic process. Such people practice avoidance out of fear The second one is the disempowered person who has a deeply ingrained anger directed toward a scapegoat. Such people have developed 'blaming the other' as their life's purpose. Terrorist fanatics fall into this category, whether brainwashed or born susceptible to its creed They are so volatile that inaction, that is, not contributing to democracy (typical of Personality Type 1) will bring them to the fore. Inaction will let democracy crumble, particularly in economic crises and after natural and human disasters, as history has shown.

Fascism in a democracy is considered a mental illness whereas in a fascist society, it is considered normal. Budding fascists are the disempowered children, the abused, the neglected, the silenced and the vainglorious. Fascist Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia have revealed infamous examples, and, sadly, we still can find many of this ilk around the world. Wilhelm Reich explained the fascist-psychosis in pre-World War II Germany, Italy, and Japan, et al. with its roots in authoritarian (fascist) upbringing and political passivity. Fascist-psychotics are in the minority in free, educated societies. However, as soon as basic needs become threatened, they rise like the phoenix out of ashes, in this case, ‘obscurity’ and appear boldly at the surface.

A lone fascist, like the Oslo Youth Assassin cannot single-handedly destroy a democratic government; nevertheless, he can shake it up and even cause other quasi-or like-minded individuals to steer us away from democracy. He can create an uneasy feeling and above all fear, upsetting our basic human need to feel secure in our environment. When a person thinks she’s drowning, as an African tale illustrates, she will jump onto the venomous snake swimming By Who would risk her own safety? Who would risk the safety of her own child, mother, or father? So many children were murdered in Norway, 2011. What can be more frightening than that? This fear is the springboard for fascists, vainglorious as they are, to gain control of people - by assuring safety and stability.

To give a personal example, while studying in Germany, I ran out of money and had to work for a trucking company I sat in a large office with all the desks pointed in the direction of our boss. She would harangue about how safe it was under Hitler and how she missed those days. Totalitarian or fascist governments are all the same; they give the appearance of total safety while, clandestinely, they root out and murder the opposing voices and undesirables, according to their perceptions We must conquer our complacency and fear If we don’t, the fascists will seize power, and then we are all doomed - unless we practice vigilance and above all practice democracy. We can keep asking questions about terrorist acts, or we can rally around to protect our democracy. At the top of my list for alleviating the misery brought on by fascists, for eons now, is the one-on-one level of human communication, best in person and second best via phones and the internet Democracy demands open communication through dialogue, discussion, and free journalism. At the basic level of interpersonal communication, at the grassroots, democracy is strengthened.

Those who were murdered have died the hero's death and the survivors are likewise heroes. The dead are true martyrs of democracy and it is fitting that statues are erected, books written, and music composed to commemorate them We should be reading their names often and not those of the terrorists and assassins. We should keep the following 'what if's' in mind: What if we have frequent small gatherings and invite our neighbors? What if we engage them in dialogue? What if we give each other a safe haven of kindness and compassion? What if we discuss the common good and our freedoms? What if we show respect for the other person and truly listen to what he or she has to say? What if we make the effort to befriend people who are different? What if we sincerely take a huge step further and reach out to the other side – just as one brave woman did in my family?

Grete Roland has a PhD in Foundations of Curriculum & Instruction, Comparative International Education, with a minor in History and Minority Groups. She spent five years among U.S. Native Americans and Norwegian Sami in North Cape for her dissertation research. Grete continues to research cross-cultural education and majority-minority dynamics. Grete has taken on a role of advising FDA and DAPC First Nations policy.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Challenges Facing Mars One and Colonalization of Mars

Zac Trolley was shortlisted for the Mars One Project. He is an engineer from Canada who has a passion for space and space travel.

In this FDA World Democracy Discussion podcast, Mr. Stephen Garvey, Executive Director of the Foundation for Democratic Advancement, interviews Mr. Zac Trolley, who has been shortlisted by the Mars One Project for the first mission to Mars in 2024. Zac is an engineer, and he has a passion for space and space travel. In the podcast, he discusses the challenges facing the Mars One Project and colonization of Mars, including governance and democracy-related issues. In addition, Zac shares his expertise and perspective on the overall mission to Mars. This podcast sheds light on the human condition and issues facing democracy here on Earth, and provides an avenue for hope in a better existence for all. Sit back and enjoy this interesting and at times fascinating interview. For non-mainstream, insightful, and provocative discussion from people working in the field of international politics, listen in or download the FDA podcasts.

Self-introduction of Zac Trolley (Source:

I am an engineer, technician, futurist, policy critic, video game enthusiast, athlete and future mars colonist. The Mars One mission is a perfect fit to my goal of furthering the human race. I want to put humans on Mars because it is a stepping stone to catapult humans to other solar systems and unimaginable heights. I am hard working, technically competent, emotionally intelligent, physically fit and 100% ready to live my life on Mars.


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