PMO, PPP, PNC, WTF?

This evening I attended a house party hosted by individuals who work in the Prime Minister’s office. Of course, you can probably guess that I would largely not fit in, but that’s irrelevant. I do, however, wish to share three observations:

  • Not surprisingly, many individuals who were once part of the National Post are now involved in the daily activities of the ruling Conservative Party machine. The paper’s right-leaning tendencies have always been obvious, but it has never been so clear to me that it is, for all intents and purposes, essentially an arm of the Conservative Party.
  • Having attended similar parties in Washington, DC, hosted by Republican White House staffers, I have come to the conclusion that those of the Right in both countries bear remarkably similar physical, fashion and social characteristics. I won’t specify what those characteristics are; you can make your own guesses.
  • The Prime Minister’s Office produces simply the cheapest and least impressive business cards I’ve ever seen. The things remind me of the home-made variety I used to churn out of my ink-jet printer in the early 90s. I suppose the case might be similar to that of paper degrees produced by impressive universities, like Cambridge, which are bland and decidedly unimpressive: the message is that, hey, it’s the Prime Minister’s Office, isn’t that impressive enough? Can’t argue with that.

Meanwhile, news from Guyana is that the Agriculture Minister of Guyana, Mr. Satyadeo Sawh, and some members of his family were murdered in a home invasion this weekend. The event makes news here because Sawh was in fact a Canadian citizen, which in itself is a fascinating detail, one that is very telling about both the embracing policies of Canada’s immigration system and the emigrative patterns experienced by Guyanese. Beyond that, of course, is the tragedy of the event, which is indicative of the hyper-violent nature of Guyanese city life. In one bit of travel literature I read once, travellers to Georgetown were advised to, “never go out at night, and, if you can avoid it, don’t go out in daytime, either.”

In Guyana, we call such violent robberies “Choke ‘n’ Rob”, almost like a fast food chain. Robberies there often end in murder, or at least physical assault. One of the problems is that those Guyanese emigrants to the USA who get into trouble with the law are incarcerated with hardened US criminals for years, then, upon release, are immediately deported back to Guyana. And the Guyanese police system is just not set up to deal with sophisticated, organized and hyper-violent American criminals. The problem is so bad that the Guyanese papers regularly print the names of incoming criminal deportees to give locals some advance warning. As a result, I’m told that these days, Guyanese crime is run pretty much by L.A. street gangs.

The name Sawh is a common one in Guyana. I certainly have Indo-Guyanese friends in Toronto with that surname, and indeed a paternal ancestor of mine was named Kobe Sawh. So there’s a fair chance that the murdered Minister was somehow related to me. In Guyana, a land of fewer than 800,000 people, all the Indians are descended from the few hundred indentured servants who arrived in a handful of boats less than 200 years ago. So pretty much all of us are related.

The last dimension to this story that will not be explored in Canadian newspapers is the racial one. I mention it in this space very delicately, since this is the sort of thing that can be misquoted or misrepresented. Guyana is a nation torn down the middle by tensions between its two dominant races, the East Indians and the Blacks. Due to the former’s slight advantage in population, fair elections tend to consistently produce majority victories for the PPP party, which is thought these days to have more pro-Indian sentiments than its foe, the PNC party. Certainly, PPP Ministers tend to be Indian. I know that there will be strong speculation by Indo-Guyanese reading of Sawh’s death that his murderers were Black. I don’t know if they were or not, but I do know that that will be the first assumption made by many; and the question thus of both a political and racial motivation for the murder arises. If I were to hope for one thing and one thing alone for the nation of my birth, it would be that the strife between the races would evaporate into nothingness.

I will leave you with two last items. First, let’s not forget my long standing prediction that Al Gore will return to US federal politics in a big way very soon. Ayme S. lets us know that Mr. Gore has in fact produced a documentary called An Inconvenient Truth, which played at the Sundance Film Festival; it’s about global warming and a clip can be seen here. Perhaps this is how Mr. Gore will sneak back into the public consciousness?

And finally, my good friend Andrew Currie sends us this story about how having a blog might actually be a useful tool in securing employment. Andrew summarizes the article here, but the thesis is essentially this: that blogging is a great tool for accessing employers and marketing oneself to them, but also is reflective of having certain skills and passions relevant to 21st century employment. I agree heartily, but of course I’m biased.