Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Shoe Stores, Accurate News and Talking to Dead People

In the continuation of the Reform full circle theme, I am once again going to discuss Stephen Harper's control of the media and the message and compare it to the first leader of this movement, Willliam "Bible Bill" Aberhart.

Harper has often been compared to Adolph Hitler for propaganda and message control, which of course is always denounced as fear mongering.

Another common accusation is that he's flirting with fascism, because of his dictatorial style, and governance of fear. And despite the growing number of victims, people again brush it off.

But I have developed a very peculiar talent of late. I can now talk to dead people. Honest.

And no I don't need to be put in Jason Kenney's Home for the Terminally Insane. I have been talking to dead people for days, and they are talking back.

Since Stephen Harper is so secretive about his past, I've been trying to put it together, but I was looking in the wrong place. Instead of turning over stones as I have been doing, I should have been turning over sod.

After stumbling onto the old Time magazine article written when Aberhart's Social Credit Party was first elected, revealing that "Bible Bill" actually fashioned his government's messaging after Hitler's "Ministry of Propaganda & Public Enlightenment, I wanted to learn more. It was just too coincidental to ignore.
Premier Aberhart announced that Alberta Government news will hereafter be "dished out in platters" by a bureau with exclusive monopoly of statements from the Premier & Cabinet so that ''there will be no more scoops." .... According to Alberta reporters they are going to be stuffed with Aberhart press handouts, barred from ferreting out real news. (1)
As I stated before, when Aberhart emulated Hitler, it was while the Fuhrer was still popular. However, I had read that Stephen Harper studied the reasons for the success of Social Credit, the forerunner to his Reform Party. The SoCreds had ruled Alberta for almost four decades; so he definitely has long term plans.

Accurate News and Shoe Stores:

In 1936 William Aberhart created the Accurate News and Information Act, which according to author and journalist Gordon Laird, required the province's skeptical newspapers to be "fairer" to government and to print state-authored articles of equal length to any anti-government items published. It would eventually be overturned by the Supreme Court, but it definitely created a combative atmosphere.

The following year he announced plans to legislate censorship:

"Why shouldn't newspapers be licensed [like doctors or lawyers] and licensed for the protection of the public and be required to live up to a certain standard of truth and honesty in their publications?" asked Aberhart. "I want to show them that, if we can handle their bosses, the financiers, we can handle their henchmen!" (2)

In 2007, Tonda MacCharles in the Ottawa Bureau of the Toronto Star, unearthed secret plans for a special media centre, dubbed the "Shoe Store Project". At the time Harper's staff had been working quietly, to restore an old shoe store into a controlled environment for government messaging.

The Prime Minister's Office, which has long had a rocky relationship with the national media, has been working on a secret project to build a new, government-controlled briefing room at the cost of $2 million, documents obtained by the Star show. ... The result would be a little fancier than the National Press Theatre and, most important, give the PMO a lot more control over who gets in and, quite possibly, what gets filmed and broadcast.

... Since the Conservative government's relationship with national media is already fraught with tension over curtailed access to ministers and Harper, the project was clearly deemed highly sensitive ... A hand-drawn sketch of the PM's renovated shoe store/press theatre indicates a space for "maybe permanently installed cameras with feeds to media."

That could put the news cameras in the hands of government-employed camera operators, not independent photojournalists employed by the television networks.

Once the media got wind of the project it was axed, but now just a few short years later, the PMO staff are taking their own photographs, writing their own copy and creating their own video. Messrs Aberhart and Hitler would be impressed.

Matthew Brett of Global Research is not:

Not surprisingly, the Globe and Mail and other news organizations ran a press release from the PMO's office verbatim, with no critical commentary, analysis or insight. The state of media today is such that copy-pasting a press release from the PMO and slapping it on the front page of a national daily newspaper is accepted practice. Indeed, Conservative strategist Tom Flanagan writes that “compared to most countries with which I have any familiarity, the Conservatives in Canada actually have friendly media to work with.” The ‘Propaganda Model’ is more than alive and well, but sometimes without even bothering to ‘filter’ news content.

I had delved into the history of Social Credit before, but I hadn't really put it in context. However, it's not that difficult and shouldn't really be surprising, given that the five leaders of this movement, are all very closely connected.

William Aberhart's disciple, lieutenant and right hand man was Ernest Manning. These two men ruled Alberta for almost 40 years, and worked to create a National Party.

Ernest had a son Preston (Aberhart was his Godfather). Preston Manning's disciple, lieutenant and right hand man was Stephen Harper. Preston was the only leader that the Reform Party ever had, but when they became the Alliance Party, Harper was approached to run for it's leadership. He declined, so instead Stockwell Day assumed the role. (Stevie came back when Stocky screwed up.)

Stockwell's father was also a member of the Social Credit Party and had in fact ran against Tommy Douglas years ago.

So for more than 75 years this has been a family business, which means that Stephen Harper is just carrying on a family tradition. Control the message and the media, while waiting for 'the Rapture'. Oye!

Back to Previous To Start of Reform Full Circle and William Aberhart.


1. Social Credit Improved, Times Magazine, September 16, 1935

Slumming it at the Rodeo: The Cultural Roots of Canada's Right-Wing Revolution, Gordon Laird, 1998, Douglas & McIntyre, ISBN: 1-55054 627-9, Pg. 47

Harper's new plans for message control may be his own though:

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