Thursday, January 20, 2011

Canada's Story as Viewed by La La Land Could be a Science Fiction

I watched the season opener of Bill Maher last night and it was almost surreal, especially when the talks became about Canada.

But early on he quoted from American economist Robert Reich, who broke down the neoconservative philosophy quite succinctly. "The public is being sold a big lie, that our problems are due to unions and the size of government and not to deregulation and the vast concentration of wealth."

This is especially compelling, given that the Harper government has been driving a deregulation agenda, even going so far as making it legal for corporations to commit fraud.

Reich also said that Obama must frame the narrative. It's tough because he's facing the same corporate sponsored AstroTurfing, as Canada's opposition. Every argument they make gets twisted into "not supporting the troops", being "tax and spend liberals", "careless". And before long some "grassroots" group starts up, which more often than not gets traced back to a Corporate Party of Canada staffer. This creates the same toxic political climate as the Republicans have in the U.S.

But Americans may actually be waking up. Sarah Palin is at her lowest point in popularity and the Tea Party is being debunked. I think the tide may be turning.

James Travers had a very good column this week discussing how Stephen Harper and his right-wing echo chamber, has been able to control the conversation, taking us away from important issues like healthcare, an aging population and a record debt. Instead we debate war, crime, guns, and now Harper is even tossing around the idea of bringing back the death penalty. (a defelection from his support for corporate greed?)

When I first read this as part of his Reform Party policy back in the day, I thought that Canadians would never ever bring it back. Now I have no idea how much Canadians will bear of this man's regressive agenda. It's seems like pretty much anything.

But as many in the media, including Travers, like to lay the blame at the Opposition's doorstep, they need to also look at themselves. I like Travers and he is certainly one of the more progressive thinkers, but he has constantly belittled the opposition and then wondered why they are not stronger. And he has resorted to that this time around, despite the fact that both Layton and Ignatieff are trying to frame a different message.

Layton is discussing our role in Afghanistan and Ignatieff the preservation of healthcare and relief for families caring for an aging family member. He even went so far as to tell the business community that we can't afford more corporate tax cuts. Not just using rhetoric for headlines, but going to the source of the problem.

Because as Maher stated last night, these are not "tax cuts". They are an enormous transfer of funds from those who need it to those who don't. And it has been going on for far too long.

Martin Short: Long on Memory, Short on Awareness

One of the guests last night, was Canadian actor Martin Short. Maher asked him how Canada got it so right. We had public healthcare, gun control and a stable economy. Short and others on the panel said that it was because we were more cautious, which is why our banks didn't need to be bailed out.

Flaherty and Harper have taken the approach that if they said it enough times, people would start to believe it. But we very much did bail out our banks, to the tune of 125 billion dollars. And Canadian economist Ellen Russel believes that since it was done so swiftly and apparently secretly, this will make our banks more careless in the future.

So I would ask our media, why they are blaming the Opposition, when they are the ones who allowed this to go unreported. Because it is now not only part of the Canadian psyche, but apparently the American one as well.

And not only did our banks get 125 billion dollars of OUR money, but they also got another 111 billion from the American taxpayers, through their U.S. branches. Quite a haul for our "good banks".

Short also stated that he was a conservative, to which most on the panel and Maher himself, stated that yes, but a Canadian conservative was much different from an American conservative. In Canada they were more like a social democrat. Short has clearly been away from Canada too long, because our current right-wing party is more toxic Republican than traditional Tory.

There was one man on the panel who could have corrected them, however. A little blast from the past. Republican strategist Mike Murphy, who engineered Mike Harris's Common Sense Revolution. But he stayed quiet, not getting involved in that part of the argument. A good neocon knows that you never challenge a lie that is working in your favour.

But with so much misinformation out there, and a media unable or unwilling to get to the root of it all, maybe the only ones who can really change the narrative is us.


  1. In this country we get all excited when Bill Maher even mentions our poor little country to the north. Now even I have been amused when Bill talks about us because he does have an insight and certain twinge of canadian humour. Canadians do, or used to have a very unique almost "pythonesque"viewpoint and humour about America. My biggest problem, Bill being a celebrity himself, is that he would feel compelled to ask martin Short a political opinion. What does M. Short possibly know about anything? I would be embarrassed to go on National U.S. television and admit to being a conservative anything. Artists aren't conservative. Hell you might as well call up Macarthy's ghost and admit to being a commie.
    Short should be ashamed of himself and shut the **** up. He's not even a Canadian anymore I bet. I wonder if he and Tony Clement get together with Goldie and Kurt up in the Muskokas and share a few laughs?

  2. Agreed Emily. And I have noticed that about the revered Jim Travers. We take what small crumbs are available in the media void of today. I read his column this morning and he tries to tell us that Canada would be in exactly the same position whether the Conservatives or Liberals had been running the show. And there is some truth to his argument, but he doesn't dig deep enough to tell the whole story. He neglects to mention that the Conservatives had already spent the 16 billion in surplus money before the recession and that because of the Conservative move to loosen mortgage downpayment requirements we had to bail out our banks (as you have pointed out and the press continuously ignores)and we are going ahead with corporate tax cuts. A hugely disappointing column from Travers.

  3. You'll never get news from MSM.


    Aspers and Harper, A Toried Love
    Ties that bind CanWest to the Conservatives.
    By Marc Edge, 13 Nov 2007,

    Steve Harper and Leonard Asper: Mutually assured ambition

    The likelihood of any limits on media ownership being enacted by the new ruling party in Ottawa also grew scant for another reason. The Asper heirs had moved almost as close to the Conservatives as their father had been to the Liberal party.

    [Editor's note: This is the first of four excerpts from Marc Edge's new book Asper Nation: Canada's Most Dangerous Media Company.]

    One senior editor at Global Television even ran in the 2006 election as a Conservative candidate in Toronto with Asper blessing. A new chairman of CanWest's corporate board came directly from Tory ranks and aligned the Aspers uncomfortably close for some with the new party in power. A CanWest executive was discovered helping to fundraise for the Conservative cabinet minister in charge of broadcasting. Parliament Hill reporters for CanWest News proved more co-operative than most with the media management tactics of the new Tory government.

    "Big media is in the driver's seat of big politics,"

    said Peter Murdoch of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada. "It's clear who the government is listening to. It's not just outrageous or appalling. It's scary."

    CanWest must quit referring to themselves as a newspaper and call themselves what they really are: an advertising brochure.

  4. I was very disappointed with Martin Short's comments. He clearly hasn't been keeping up.