Friday, January 14, 2011



Hollow Hills / S. Shawcross / 24 x 18 / Oil on masonite / $120
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CURRENT COMMENTARY: The thing about humour is that sometimes it comes from dark places. It seems like every introduction I make to these columns on this website is deadly serious. Call it my dark side. If you simply want to smile, skip the commentary. I won't mind really... :)

Now somewhere along the line in the 80s some advertising executive in some fancy office in some place probably New York came up with a novel concept. One which could have been the direct result of the backlash against the Super Corporations or in imitation of the ever-popular and successful sports sponsorship programs. He and/or she thought of corporate sponsorship of charitable events. And it was a success beyond measure. In order to placate the masses and make them believe they were good, the corporations began sponsoring significant do-gooder events. Any charity worth its weight had a corporate sponsor and if they didn't they were looking.

In the 90s I was involved in the set-up of a foundation. I needed volunteers in my region. And being a problem-solver type person I went to an organization in Ottawa that provided volunteers. In order to get those volunteers I had to take a two day course in how to be nice to volunteers. With that under my belt I phoned for my volunteers.

Except they were busy.

The Corporations, in this case I believe specifically Bank of America, were in need of a charitable event to highlight how nice they were and to sell their latest credit card idea to exploit the masses. The Volunteer agency scrambled to find some event that week that Bank of America could have. It had to be big and it had to be media friendly. Such things happened regularly by large corporations I was told by a source at the Volunteer agency.

I often wonder if such efforts by Bank of America were not just to exploit the masses but also to "ease into Ottawa" the concept of an American ethos of running a corporation... It's a whole different world believe me. Certainly its not just an American phenomenon but in this particular case let's just say that for some organizations the slave-owner mentality has not quite been eradicated. Behind closed doors there are shocking stories to be told. (I have my sources) Again, let's just say it's amazing what money can buy. But that's an entirely different story which one day I just might write. But not today. Along with these reasons of course there may have been the need to cover up the fact that as with other banksters they were in the process of, at that time, fuc***ing up the entire world financial system for which we will all pay heavily. I do so wonder how those prosecutions of Bank of America's Ken Lewis and his ilk are going. Nothing makes me happier really.

Now I'm not saying charity by corporations is a bad thing. Charities need money and corporations need the tax write off. Nobody can argue with that. But that's the crux of the matter. I always figure that if something is non-arguable then its very suspect and demands argument! So let's not kid ourselves shall we as to what that money means. At what price charity? Take the money but with eyes wide open is always my advice. If anybody asked me. Which they don't. Of course. Take the money but weigh the balance carefully. If you're saving people from a horrible disease in Toronto are you doing it at the expense of a foreclosed homeowner in Nebraska or a slave-labourer in China or a frightened employee in some ruthless corporation? Simple questions. Simple answers which require not just answers but ownership.

However. Times changed and governments started running out of money. That's when they found corporate sponsorship. And hence my story below. This piece was written in December of 2004 when the Canadian Mint in it's wisdom came out with the looney, the first "coloured" coin with a red poppy on it. You could buy it at Tim Hortons. At least it was a Canadian company. There's always that.


This column is no longer available on the website. It is contained in the new book available for a mere pittance from

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