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  November 18, 2007 | Pyramid Scheme « Previous | Current | Next » Comments (0) | Archives | About Email lind at

This week, I continue to explore Prime Minister Stephen Harper's attempt to transform himself into an all-positive, all-decisive self-help guru, in the tradition of The Secret (check out this cartoon to see his argument for reducing carbon emissions through positive thinking, Feng Shui and mandatory oil worker meditation).

Why am I satirizing Harper's one percent cut to GST, when I and many others on the left were against the tax when brought in by Mulroney in the late 80s? True, sales tax is regressive, since it makes up a larger proportion of low income expenses (while the GST credit tends to alleviate this for the poorest). But in the context of deteriorating city services, with infrastructures decaying and user fees abounding, we desperately need a substantial reinvestment. Cities don't have the tax power to manage that. And user fees and poor municipal services affect the poor more than the rich. (For a left defense of Harper's GST cut, see The Star's Thomas Walkom's take, Attacks on GST Cut Baffling.

Of course, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty should have used the golden opportunity to do just what he had often criticized Harper for not doing: Add a one percent sales tax to go directly to cities. Not doing is hypocritical. But the Tories so successfully painted him as a promise-breaker and tax-hiker, he must have felt he'd be digging his political grave to do so.

What irks me on about Harper's tax cuts as a whole -- and especially the corporate tax cuts -- is that he's using them as Mike Harris did in Ontario: To reduce government. Once in place, they will tend to stay, since being a tax-hiker is like being a pedophile these days. Say goodbye to any hopes or dreams of expanded health care programs (like pharmacare) or aggressive funding of anti-global warming initiatives. The time will come when times get tough, and governments will be powerless to step in, having been gutted by the likes of Harris and Harper.

I changed the last panel at the last minute. Below are my pencils for the punchline that would have appeared. While that would have been more logical, I just didn't think it was as funny. And the new one felt more ideologically correct, more in line with where Harper is from and where the country is going. "The real money is in oil." That fact has caused wars, destroyed ecosystems, skewed economies, bolstered dictatorships. And, sadly, it will continue to do so in the future -- with $100-a-barrel impact.



You can see a more extensive portfolio of my work at the blog, including This Bright Future, a distilled and partial continuation of Weltschmerz, Turtle Creek, a daily comic about a turtle and a computer, and Footprint in Mouth, a quarterly cartoon I draw for Alternatives.

Weltschmerz in Print

Weltschmerz ran in Toronto's Eye Weekly from 1997 to 2007. It ran in weekly papers in southwestern Ontario, Ottawa and Edmonton between 1995 and 2008.

Notes on Writing a Comic Strip

I wrote this 17-page, 4 MB PDF document for my workshop at the 2006 Eden Mills Writers' Festival. It details the creation of one strip and gives tips on writing comics.

Politics and Environment

Monbiot | Guardian columnist and Heat author George Monbiot's blog. Not only about global warming, but expect plenty of refutations of the flat-earthers. His writing is witty, incisive and bang-on.

Desmog Blog | An indispensible (and Canadian) resource that "clears the PR pollution that clouds climate science."


Weltschmerz playlist at CBC Radio 3 | Some of the music I listen to while drawing this comic -- independent and Canadian.

This American Life | Radio documentaries that hit the heart, brain and funny bone.

CBC Podcasts | I don't listen to much live radio. Now, podcasts allow me to catch a lot of what I miss. I listen to The Current, Ideas, Spark and Search Engine while inking.


Diesel Sweeties by R Stevens | Witty repartee between guys, girls and robots drawn in a pixelated yet surprisingly versatile style.

Scott Pilgrim Manga-style indie-rock romance by Canadian Bryan Lee O'Malley | The most fun I've had in a comic book in recent memory. Highly recommended.

Dykes to Watch Out For | Alison Bechdel's brilliant weekly strip has been ghettoized because of its gay themes but deserves a wider readership.

Doonesbury | Garry Trudeau is still great after all these years.

Kevin Heuzenga | Enviable drawing style and dry wit. Start with Time Travelling.

Graeme MacKay | The editorial cartoonist for the Hamilton Spectator has a distinctive, addictive drawing style. And he makes me chortle.

Friends and Neighbours

Blog Guelph | Hometown photos and events.

The Narrative | Riveting photoblog. Matt O'Sullivan is at the right place at the right shutter speed.

Breast of Canada | A calendar promoting women's health.

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