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Bankers Hall in Calgary (Bernard Spragg, NZ / Flickr CC Licence)

Bankers Hall in Calgary (Bernard Spragg, NZ / Flickr CC Licence)

Something strange was happening in the world and until a social event in November, 2011, I was having trouble putting my finger on it. That was the night some friends held a roast for me to celebrate my 80th birthday. It was held at the Wise Hall in East Vancouver, a traditional left-wing gathering spot.

I was seen by many of the left as little short of fascist, yet, lately I’d come to the viewed by the right as what my father would have called  “parlour pink”.  It would be interesting to see who would come.

Well, they jammed the hall. Guests included captains of industry, right-wing the politicians, left-wing politicians, union leaders, First Nations leaders, and countless friends from the environmental movement. It was a lovely evening and at the end, when I had a chance to speak, I observed that there were a lot of folks in the old Wise Hall who not long ago would rather have been caught in a house of ill-fame.

Things had changed; the political sands were shifting. It was puzzling, for the new contest wasn’t left v. right anymore but “them” and “us”, with “them” being the elite and “us” being the rest. A look at “us” in a picket line shows very strange bedfellows, any of whom, not long ago, hurled insults and worse at each other.

The Brexit Syndrome

As I watched this situation mature, it seem to come to a head with the Brexit issue, the UK possibly leaving the UK,  voting in June of this year.

I saw it coming and said so. There were lots of issues, but the deep, underlying feeling was that when the UK voted by referendum to join Europe in 1975, the elite assured the “us” folks that it was a Common Market they were getting into, no more.

It turned out very differently and “us” weren’t consulted and were just expected to follow, in that marvellous phrase of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, “those set in authority over us”. The elite couldn’t understand what had happened. They should have known.

A quick glance around showed that unrest was everywhere yet no one was really writing about it.

That’s changed dramatically as well-known Canadian writer of the left, Joyce Nelson, has written a damned good history of events leading up to what I call the Brexit Syndrome. Her new book, Beyond Banksters: Resisting the New Feudalism, shows that it’s scarcely new in Canada and provides a dramatis personae of the epic Canadian drama unfolding.

A pivotal case

Have you wondered what it is that former Liberal cabinet minister Paul Hellyer, at 93, is doing still raising hell about the Bank of Canada and how it could clean up the National Debt virtually overnight if there were the political will, that hair-brained left loony scheme of bygone days?

Judging by recent converts to this view, it doesn’t seem quite so loony anymore!

And how about COMER and the immense lawsuit the Trudeau government won’t talk about?

Here’s how Joyce Nelson describes it:

One of the most important legal cases in Canadian history is slowly inching its way towards trial. Launched in 2011 by the Toronto-based Committee on Monetary and Economic Reform (COMER), the lawsuit would require the publicly-owned Bank of Canada to return to its pre-1974 mandate and practice of lending nearly interest-free money to federal, provincial and (potentially) municipal governments for infrastructure and healthcare spending.

This case, one of federal government coverup and worse, is now looking like a winner. Now that will have financial consequences that neither the Liberals nor Tories care to discuss – and don’t. Of course, out of sight, out of mind has always guided their actions.

This, combined with a tame, authority-loving media have kept us all in the dark – dare I guess you, like me, don’t know much about this story that Paul Hellyer, with the zest and energy of the saint by the same name, evangelizes across the land. That will change dramatically with this book.

Changing governments, not overthrowing them

I am arithmetically challenged and when writing on the most elementary fiscal matters, must have them explained in terms of a kindergarten “number work” class. I confidently tell you that I now understood this shocking tale without difficulty. In fact this is one of Joyce Nelson’s strengths – and she has a lot of them: she can explain complex matters without talking down to you and without sounding like a know-it-all.

Nelson gives an excellent portrayal of where the opposition now is. The violent street demonstrations accompanied by pepper spray and the police batons won’t likely disappear but they’ve been largely replaced by peaceful protests such as occupy Wall Street and several others.

The great question,  not yet answered, is how this will materialize in political terms.

Traditionally, the discontented have avoided the political system like the plague. They considered voting being the same as honouring the system, which was the last thing they wanted to do. Stephane Hessel remarked in an interview given in 2012 (a year before he died), “The global protest movement does not resemble the Communist movement, which declared that the world had to be overturned according to its viewpoint.” Instead, he said, “This is not an ideological revolution. It is driven by an authentic desire to get what you need. From this point of view, the present generation is not asking governments to disappear but change the way they deal with people’s needs.”

Clear terms

The change is happening. Joyce Nelson walks us through the process and makes it understandable to people who haven’t thought about it very much, if at all,  until now.

This is a most unusual book for political junkies. It makes no attempt to settle scores or slant the historical perspective. I have the impression that Joyce Nelson has looked at the unfolding scene with a bewilderment that suits a keen, inquiring mind rather than that of a judge. Let the judging begin as the case becomes clearer.

But as this old baseball nut can confirm, you can’t tell the players without a scorecard and this one is a dandy.

Beyond Banksters can be ordered online at: www.watershedsentinel.ca/banksters

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