Saturday, November 7, 2009

Under Stephen Harper we are No Longer the People we Think we Are

Canadian author, publisher and political activist, Mel Hurtig, has written a book The Truth About Canada, in which he outlines how the neo-conservative movement has pushed us to the right, and we don't even know it. The rest of the world knows it and they are just shaking their heads in disbelief. How did we let this happen?

"We are no longer the country we think we are, and no longer the people we think we are."

There are a series of lectures available on YouTube, entitled 'Who Killed Canada', which chronicle this movement, from it's beginning to the crisis stage under Stephen Harper.

The video above is part one, and gives an introduction to the infrastructure of the extreme right-wing movement, beginning with the hi-jacking of our media, to the many so-called think-tanks, that provide the 'facts' to that hi-jacked media.

Tasha Kheiriddin, co-author of Canada’s Right: Blueprint for a Conservative Revolution, discusses at length this infrastructure. Kheiriddin was a member of Jason Kenney's Canadian Taxpayers Foundation, and writes for the Fraser Institute and several right-wing newspapers; including the National Post.

Media Ownership and the Radical Right in Canada

Controlling the Spin

Mr. Hurtig begins by discussing the Canadian media and how we now have the greatest concentration of media in the western world. In fact, he states that this would simply not be allowed in any other western democracy.

And since these same media outlets control newspaper, television and radio news; we are essentially only being given one voice. There are few or no alternative views. As stated in the video, a healthy democracy should foster a healthy and independent news media.

I had discussed this back in August, in a posting Conrad Black, Stephen Harper and Media Manipulation, where I provided several commentaries on this phenomenon.

One of my favourite journalists, Lawrence Martin spoke of this. The video quotes him as saying "... the press versus the people - that runs right to the heart of the debate over the future of our country and to the heart of politics."

In an article for the Winnipeg Free Press by Frances Russell, under the heading 'Right-Wing Media covering up political scandal', he also discusses Mr. Martin:

"Lawrence Martin has written several articles about the Canadian media's rightward migration. In a January 2003 column headlined It's not Canadians who've gone to the right, just their media, he quoted an unnamed European diplomat saying "You have a bit of a problem here. Your media are not representative of your people, your values." Too many political commentators are right of centre while the public is in the middle, the diplomat continued. There is a disconnect."

"Martin believes the disconnect began when Conrad Black converted the Financial Post into the National Post, hired a stable of conservative commentators like Mark Steyn, David Frum and George Jonas, bought the centrist Southam chain and turned the entire package into a vehicle to unite Canada's right and retool the country's values to U.S.-style conservatism."

Donald Gutstein , author of a new book called; Not a Conspiracy Theory: How Business Propaganda Hijacks Democracy, also wrote an article in 2005 on the subject, discussing talk shows: Fox News Format Infiltrates Canada

"CanWest's 'Global Sunday' bills itself as "Canada's number one current affairs talk show." But a lot of Canadians won't find their views reflected in the talk.

"Take the show that aired on February 20, featuring a panel discussion on equalization.

"The purpose of equalization is to ensure provincial governments have sufficient revenues to provide "reasonably comparable levels of public services at reasonably comparable levels of taxation."

"The left-wing perspective on equalization is that it helps fund programs that define who we are as Canadians, such as education, health care and social services. Canadians in every province should have roughly equal access to these programs, the left says.

"This perspective was not raised by the panel. Instead, all three panellists offered right-wing perspectives.

"The program's rightward tilt is not accidental. Indeed, Global Sunday's wider purpose may be to shift political discourse to the right. The model for this mission can be found on the Fox News channel and, in particular, the falsely balanced Hannity and Colmes debate show.

"This show pits the aggressive conservative Sean Hannity against the mildly liberal, often conciliatory Alan Colmes in a format "where conservatives outnumber, out-talk and out-interrupt their liberal opponents," as Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting explains the strategy.

"Global Sunday follows the same formula, tilting sharply to the right. Progressive and left-wing perspectives on public policy issues are blanked out – they don't seem to exist in Global Sunday's world. (Conservative MP Peter Kent once worked for Global (I believe he is still on their board) and his father Parker Kent, was a long-time employee of the Southam Newspaper Group (Conrad Black), and associate editor of the Calgary Herald (another Conservative rag)) Host Danielle Smith has a long history of advocating for the libertarian right.

"She started her career as an intern at the Fraser Institute, then launched the Canadian Property Rights Research Institute. This short-lived organization was sponsored largely by Alberta ranchers and its goal was to promote private property rights, opposing endangered species legislation and bans on smoking in indoor publicly accessible places.Smith was a natural for this job, having written a turgid essay for the Fraser Institute titled "The Environment: More Markets, Less Government."

(Danielle Smith is now the leader of the Wildrose provincial party in Alberta, and has the backing of the same 'Calgary School' that brought Stephen Harper to power. Is this another Death by Decentralization move?)

The Neanderthal Right-Wing Think Tanks

In the next segment of the video, Mr. Hurtig discusses the so-called think tanks that now provide most of the dubious 'facts' to the media. But as Donald Gutstein , explains in his book called; Not a Conspiracy Theory: How Business Propaganda Hijacks Democracy; these so-called think-tanks are nothing more than PR firms. He suggests that we follow the money.

The Fraser Institute's largest donors come from the oil and gas sector. C.D. Howe is mostly financed by Bay Street and the Council for Chief Executives is pretty much self explanatory. (report prepared for the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, entitled: From Correct to Inspired: A Blueprint for Canada U.S. Engagement calls for annexation of Canada, with regard to the economy, energy resources and the military; and recommends "an integrated, whole of government approach that recognizes shared interests and the reality of deep integration.")

These groups send a press release to the media, that usually ends up on the front page the next day. And of course their priorities are always an end or reduction to social programs like health care, education and the environment; while promoting increased spending for the military and law and order; two areas where they can cash in, rather than spend out.

And of course, while some media reports will offer an alternative viewpoint, by providing sources from more democratic institutes; they will usually precede their name with 'left-leaning', while never using 'right-leaning' with the groups that in Hurtig's view "are so right-wing they are falling off the edge of the globe."

A Harper Majority and Death by Decentralization

In the final brief segment of this video, the lecturer discusses what a Harper majority would like. His statement are not hyperbole, but based on the many articles and interviews with Stephen Harper, before he decided it was prudent to stop revealing his agenda.

In a piece authored with Tom Flanagan, he discusses the fact that the federal government should not handle social programs. All social programs should be privatized, including health care and education; while the federal government should be responsible only for defense and foreign policy.

He has also stated that "Whether Canada ends up with one national government or two governments or 10 governments, the Canadian people will require less government no matter what the constitutional status or arrangement of any future country may be."'. Both of his groups; the National Citizens Coalition and the Northern Foundation, used the motto 'More Freedom Through Less Government'.

Harper has also promoted the Belgian model of decentralization, which is not even working in Belgium.

There was no secret agenda, at least in the fact that it was not really that secret. He wants to dismantle this country and divide the spoils. However, will a dissected country be so willing to go to war for his 'super power wannabe' nation, if they no longer feel they belong? Maybe he didn't think it through.


  1. Think? They don't pay Steve Harper to think. Useful Idiots say what they're paid to say and that is that..

  2. I do agree that the media have an huge influence on people's thinking in Canada.

    People can buy Liberal Newspapers like the Toronto Star but there are very few Liberal TV outlets. The CBC denies the science of Global Warming.

    But in spite of the trend toward right wing media, less than 40% of the people voted Conservative in the last Federal Election.

    The same 40% will vote Conservative in the next election because 1) they are rich 2) they are related to the oil industry or 3) they like guns.

    So even though the media has shifted to the right, we can have a centrist government by getting the Liberal and NDP parties to join forces. Or failing that, given the absence of any good candidates in the Liberal Leadership race, the Liberal Party may simply implode eliminating division on the Left.

  3. I get 90% of my news from sources on the internet and I am not alone. Television and print media are nothing but a source of amusement to me these days, not fact.

  4. Harper wants to wear a crown