The Fight for Democracy in Canada
This piece was submitted by Robin Mathews and seems very appropriate so soon after my post of this April Fool's Day concerning the meeting of the Mussolini Fan Club in beautiful Fort McMurray.
So let Professor Mathews take it from here:
It may not be ‘poetic license’ or science fiction to say the core group in the Stephen Harper cabinet is made up of psychopaths.
Lisa Raitt can argue with passion that destroying the democratic bargaining rights of employees in Canada is an act of virtue. She seems to have convinced herself that by making it possible for twenty-year olds to fly to a Florida beach in Spring Break she is up-holding the most basic freedom of Canadians – which must come before all else. She seems to be showing us, also, that the lies of psychopaths know no limits.
And she is showing, as well, that the Harper Conservatives will appeal to the sleaziest self-interest of Canadians in order to erode the rule of law in the country ... and move it towards the condition of a police state.
Whatever else, we must realize the total strategy of the Harper government is a strategy of lies ... as I shall attempt to show. Members of cabinet don’t just use a lie here and there to cover a blunder here and there. Rather, the goals sought are governed by an over-arching policy of lies – planned, prepared, and executed. Policy is followed to invalidate Canadian freedom, to see it as obstructive of efficiency, and, ultimately, to repress any Canadian resistance to what is in fact a growing fascist state. Such a state unites private corporations and a governing elite into a ruling class supported by police and military forces ready and eager to erase violently any public resistance to elite policy.
Increasingly that kind of structure is multi-national. The sell-out of the democracy of Canadians is pursued on behalf of so-called “global” interests. The Harper forces assist in the destruction of Canadian industrial operations like Stelco and Electro Motive Diesel to serve U.S. masters. And the Conservative Party employs – more and more – U.S. masters of deceit to assist in its determination to win elections by any kind of dishonesty, fraud, or malpractice.
The Conservative Party strategy of lies is supported with depressing consistency by the Mainstream Press and Media which actively supports it or overlooks it as a silly fault of a government trying to do its best for Canadians.
Conservative policy is not confined, by any means, to the inner cabinet. There is a democracy-destroying culture of the government (illegitimately) in power, a strategy of lies. In a recent conversation with an aide to a Conservative senator on the Energy and Environment committee, I witnessed that fact. We had a spirited conversation about the attack on environmental organizations by the Harper government. Did I know, she asked, that (charitable status organization) Tides Canada has many, many more employees than (charitable status organization) the Fraser Institute? (She gave me the exact numbers.)
I replied that Tides Canada lists all its donors. I reported to her that I have written to the Fraser Institute and asked for a list of its financial donors. The Fraser Institute refuses to reveal who pays for its operation – but the federal government continues to grant it charitable status. The aide with whom I was speaking expressed sudden surprise to hear my news. She can tell me the exact number of people employed by the Fraser Institute. But she doesn’t know it keeps a tight lid on the names of its financial supporters, refusing to reveal to the public who donates. Quite simply, I didn’t believe her.
The two poster boys for Psychopaths in Power are Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay – the two ends of the spectrum, one might say. They both have a basic characteristic of the psychopath. Truth, for them, is a tactic to be used sparingly. Lies usually sound better. Both men will say anything to cover embarrassing truth … at the drop of a hat, as we say.
Peter Mackay is the Mulroney’esque end of the spectrum. He’s expansive. He likes luxury. He’s important (?). He deserves the best (he thinks). He will say anything – whether he’s explaining his luxurious hotel accommodations, his rich use of the Royal Canadian Air Force as a taxi service, his commandeering of a search and rescue helicopter to deliver him from a fishing vacation, or the endlessly elastic costs of the non-existent F-35 warplane. On that subject he’ll use anybody’s figures he deems useful at the time. He’s a “fibber” who runs off at the mouth. But he’s “fun”. He’s “likeable”. So was ‘Lyin Brian’ Mulroney.
His siamese twin is Stephen Harper. He, too, appears to believe lies sound better than the truth. So he avoids the truth when he can … which is frequently. But he is not “fun”. Many believe the depths of his will to deceive are almost bottomless.
Karlheinz Schreiber, lobbyist, arms-dealer, (now a convict in Germany) and much more, who was tangled with Brian Mulroney’s destiny over decades, filed an affidavit in Ontario Supreme Court in the week of November 5, 2007. In it he made allegations which involved his relations with Mulroney as prime minister. And he claimed he had written to Stephen Harper about extradition attempts and that he had asked Mulroney to intercede with Harper on his behalf.
Schreiber was alleged, in the words of Wikipedia, (relating to the purchase of Airbus planes for Air Canada) “to have arranged secret commissions to be paid to Brian Mulroney…. There has never been any evidence produced to substantiate the allegation”.
Very clearly, the Schreiber allegations of 2007 focussed the relation of Brian Mulroney and Stephen Harper. Closer examination might prove embarrassing. Stephen Harper quickly announced a Public Inquiry into the relation of Brian Mulroney and Karlheinz Schreiber. Harper chose Conservative university president David Johnston to set the terms of the Inquiry. Johnston, in effect, ruled out any serious approach to the subject of the purchase of Airbus planes for Air Canada. Johnston was appointed Governor General of Canada shortly after.
Mr. Justice Jeffrey Oliphant, appointed Inquirer, observed the limits of the Inquiry, judged the testimony of Brian Mulroney not believable, and was unable (as he saw the matter) to investigate the most serious allegations in the whole long and expensive affair. By deft manipulation – which some Canadians might believe desecrated Canadian justice and fairness – Stephen Harper disposed of the Karlheinz Schreiber/Brian Mulroney/Stephen Harper problem without ever permitting the key allegations against Brian Mulroney to be fully and fairly examined.
On the election-spending fraud of the 2006 election, Stephen Harper knew nothing (?). Funds flowed through 68 Conservative constituency offices, and he knew nothing about it. Though the Conservative Party admitted guilt and paid a fine for enormous fraud in the democratic process, the leader of the Conservative Party knew nothing about the fraud. The Robocall Scandal of the 2011 election – which was nationwide, planned, organized, all-out – happened without his knowledge. He went so far as to state publicly that it had nothing to do with Conservative Party headquarters. How did he know? If the Robocall Scandal happened without his knowledge, how does he know Conservative Party Headquarters knew nothing about it?
On the matter of the F-35 warplane anticipated purchase, he had to know the difference between the estimates of all government-related authorities in the matter of the F-35 and what he told Canadians in the 2011 campaign, giving a different figure that was flatly untrue. Those who allege he purposefully lied to Canadians during that campaign cannot be convincingly contradicted.
He juxtaposes his “truths” in ways which are often offensive. Relations with China and the Harper government get closer and closer. China is a despotism. Its industrial capacity is supported by near slave-labour conditions. China’s response to dissent is jail without trial when it isn’t outright violence and slaughter. The decent mind boggles when it thinks of the ordinary lives of tens of millions of Chinese people. To Stephen Harper, China is fine.
But “Socialist” Cuba must be ostracized, cast out, kept from the Summit of the Americas even though all countries but the U.S. want Cuba included. Cuba offends Stephen Harper’s democratic principles, according to Harper himself. Democratic principles? No. As with the Kyoto Accord and almost every other policy of importance, Harper’s Cuba policy is made in Washington and in the offices of Goldman Sachs. The only time in recent history that Cuba could be placed in the same category as present China on the matter of human rights was in the period of Cuban despotism and terror fully supported by the U.S.A. before the arrival of the Castro government.
Stephen Harper’s apparent lying process is very different from that of Peter MacKay. Stephen Harper gives every indication of preparing lies. He appears to many to know he is uttering them. They don’t flood from him the way Peter MacKay’s lies do. That is why Harper is an “um” speaker. He ‘ums’, it may be argued, to pretend he doesn’t know what he is going to say next. Harper pushes an “um” along his sentences. He doesn’t want his lies, an analyst might say, to sound glib. He wants them to sound thoughtful, shaped as he goes, and so he “ums’ and “ums” his way through sentences.
He might be said by experts to be the other end of the psychopath spectrum from Peter MacKay. He wants to look solid, dependable, measured. He wants to use his power effectively in his service of the big corporations. He wants the lie to become the truth – because he speaks it. He wants to look kind as he removes human rights and democratic protections from Canadians. But his long term lying is beginning to be evident.
Consider CBC. Consider the attack on environmental safety and groups advocating preservation of the environment.
James Moore, Heritage Minister, led what I believe is a long trajectory of lying about the CBC. If true, his behaviour supports the idea that lying is a significant strategy in long-term Harperite policy. Mr. Moore first showed great enthusiasm for the CBC, suggesting it would not face a cut in budget. Immediately after the (illegitimate) election of 2011 he remarked that the government “would maintain or increase support for the CBC”. Then, months later, he admitted that in the overall 5% cut in the federal budget the CBC would have to carry its share of cost. Months later when the budget was finally presented – and examined, cuts to the CBC came, superficially, to more than 10%, and, arguably, when all losses are figured in, to nearly 20%. The Harper private corporate forces want to destroy public broadcasting in Canada. The process has long been worked out I believe, and a trail of lying – already begun - will lead to achievement of the goal.
The greatest pattern of lies and denials of fact by Harper and his brood relate to the environment. They are completely complicit with what might be called the Goldman Sachs/large corporation denial of climate change, of Fukashima dangers, and of present ravages by industrial and military pollution of the environment.
From the time when the Liberals were in majority power, the Harper Conservatives have carried the torch for what is – despite cosmetic policies of “sustainability” - a general, North American, wealthy elite denial of present and future dangers to human life on the planet. The lying that has been unrelieved is now united with an open attack upon democratic freedoms and legal behaviour.
The slander against environmental groups with charitable status and the millions of dollars to be spent to investigate whether those organizations have been violating the ‘no political action’ clause is a hoax. For the Harper government is not consistent enough to attack reactionary organizations with charitable status. There has been no mention of investigation of the Fraser Institute, Preston Manning’s organization, or others of the kind that visibly advocate on behalf of Conservative government policies and philosophy.
The same may be said for the new environmental review legislation. Huge corporations involved in the activities – whether in direct exploitation of the environment or in “sustainability” and community concern groups – are treated as solemn, objective, publicly responsible organizations faced with rabid, undemocratic, secretly financed, near terrorist organizations called environmental concern groups.
The lies about the status of participants in the argument over environmental protection are not only supported by the Harper government but created and circulated by it. The lies are intended to create a long-term Orwellian false reality. As the public comes to accept it, military and police forces can be used to destroy violently any attempt at democratic expression.
And where are the Mainstream Press and Media editorial writers and columnists in all this sordid history? (A) Saying nothing. (B) Avoiding the subject. (C) Occasionally slightly perturbed – but almost never doing in-depth coverage in order to inform Canadians of the truth. (D) Or … as is the case with Globe and Mail columnist Gary Mason, they reveal what seems to be a parroting of the arguments made by the Harper Reactionaries and their corporate friends. Doing the job? Covering up as directed? Producing more media sleaze to bamboozle readers?
In his Globe column (April 19, 2012, A17) – “A burden lifted but opposition remains”, Gary Mason wakens the questions about himself that were asked by Marc Garneau of Peter MacKay. Can Gary Mason read? Can he understand the world he is in? Approving of the new, narrowed Harper environmental review policy that cuts out the provinces, Mason pretends that the people of the provinces may not have distinctly different concerns than the Harper government in Ottawa and may want a provincial platform to express them.
Democracy demands the participation of people concerned with policy measures taken on their behalf. In a democracy, governments must balance the power of large private corporations with wide open space for members of the population to be heard. Mason believes that “dozens and dozens of environmental groups … making essentially the same point …. Merely drags out the process….”
But dragging out the process is an important democratic activity. It happens in Parliament all the time in order to focus the attention of the population. It is a democratic political activity intended to inform a large public. It must be protected. Gary Mason opts for fascist efficiency – which is not efficiency at all but destructive policy to serve wealthy interests over the needs of the democratic population.
Since the reviews (in Mason’s mind) are undertaken merely to find if environmental damage, narrowly defined, may happen, Mason cheer-leads for Stephen Harper. There is no reason “why so many projects need to go though a two-step procedure”, Mason avers. That is a way of saying there is no reason why democracy should be in place to serve the population when destroying democracy would be much more efficient for private, wealth- gathering corporations.
Cutting out environmental groups unless “they can prove they are directly affected … isn’t entirely evil”, Mason instructs us. But a tanker accident near Alaska can affect the lives of Ontarians. A pipeline accident harming rivers may affect fish and the fishing industry in a huge area. Environmental disasters in one place can affect the whole world – which may be why Gary Mason never mentions the Fukashima disaster and its growing threat. If he did, he could never again talk the nonsense he does about those “directly affected”. To suggest that environmental reviews are only concerned with those “directly affected”, those living near proposed activity, is simply fraudulent. Gary Mason pushes the fraudulent claim. It is the new Orwellian position of the Harper government, cheered and urged on by Gary Mason in “Canada’s national newspaper”. God help us.
To read columns like the Mason column in the Globe and Mail is to invite feelings of nausea and revulsion … and anger.
Those must be the feelings of as many Canadians as possible. They must find a way to organize and to confront, effectively – and to turn back – the long-term policy of the Harper government – “the lying policy” – the policy that is intended to make lies the truth in Canada.
Cross-posted to The Legislature Raids
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