Monday, December 15, 2008

Harper's Ace In The Hole - Canadian Ignorance

Stephen Harper and his cronies have been waging a war of deception on the Canadian people. Steve, ever the sly hustler, knows full well that the public is vulnerable to his tactics. He knows he can feed them lies and they'll believe him because he knows they're haplessly ignorant about their nation and their government.

Why did this miscreant have so much success when he and his thugs parroted the line about an opposition coalition being a coup attempt? Because, as he well knew, the Canadian people would accept his lie, would take it as truth. They would believe that Steve was telling them the truth so there was no reason for him to tell them the truth.

Why did Steve tell them that the Bloc was part of the coalition? Because he knew they would swallow that lie and, having taken the bait, he could appeal to their base prejudices.

Stephen Harper is the Dick Cheney of the True North. There is no lie he's not prepared to tell, no crass manipulation that's beneath him. These are merely his tools of the trade, the hammer and anvil that Steve uses to dupe an unaware and gullible public, to forge them to his will.

Steve learned what Cheney taught - that ignorant people are not only gullible but also very susceptible to fear. They can be exploited at will.

At the onset of our latest constitutional tiff an Alberta paper noted that Steve's best weapon against the opposition was public ignorance for that was the key that allowed Harper to frame and win the debate in the public's mind.

Just how ignorant are we Canadians? Astonishingly ignorant, something borne out by the Dominion Institute's survey conducted by Ipsos Reid. From the Toronto Star:

The prime minister is not our head of state. We are not a representative republic. We do not elect our prime minister directly.

results of the Ipsos Reid survey show 75 per cent of Canadians asked believe the prime minister, or the Governor General, is head of state. Bzzzz – wrong.
It's actually the Queen. Only 24 per cent answered correctly.
Marc Chalifoux, president of the Dominion Institute, said he decided to commission the survey after an opposition coalition threatened to topple Prime Minister Stephen Harper's minority Conservative government, and Harper responded by asking Governor General Michaƫlle Jean to shut down Parliament until late January. Chalifoux wanted to gauge people's understanding of what had transpired.

"Canadians certainly were interested by what was going on in Ottawa, but lacked in many cases the basic knowledge to form informed opinions," Chalifoux said.

The four questions asked "aren't just trivia," he said. "These are part of the basic tool kit of knowledge that citizens need to function in a democracy."
A question 90 per cent did answer correctly was about the Governor General's power to refuse to call an election at the request of a prime minister who no longer has majority support. She has the power.

At a time when our prime monster waxes eloquently about sending young Canadians to Afghanistan to fight, and die, for democracy, his contempt for that very institution at home in our Canada speaks volumes.


Larry Gambone said...

This is one example of why having your media - or at least TV programs - dominated by a foreign country. Most Canadians are influenced by US TV and the political views there rub off.

Any future non-Cons government should go all out educating the people about the realities of our system.

The Mound of Sound said...

I think it's worse than that Larry, much worse. Our media were genuinely complicit in disseminating this propaganda. They would absolve themselves by running a quick story quoting some professor as saying the Tory claims were BS and then smother that in stories that gave free airtime to Harpies so they could mislead the public. CBC stood up to them but that was about it. CTV was so bad you would've thought they were being paid by the PMO.

Hishighness said...

Maybe I should print off pamphlets called "Know your Government" and hand them out at street corners...

Anonymous said...

Hishighness: I've had a hard copy of this since grade seven.

Senator Eugene Forsey wanted us to know how government works in Canada for one very simple reason — there is nothing Canadians do in any given day that is not affected by how we govern ourselves. As he says inside this booklet: “We cannot work or eat or drink; we cannot buy or sell or own anything; we cannot go to a ball game or a hockey game or watch TV without feeling the effects of government. We cannot marry or educate our children, cannot be sick, born or buried without the hand of government somewhere intervening.”

Through this lively and readable document, Senator Forsey has helped tens of thousands of students, teachers, legislators and ordinary citizens in Canada and around the world understand the Canadian system of government.

Anonymous said...

Of course the public were all MENSA members when they kept voting in the Liberals.
How quickly they have 'dumbed down".

The Mound of Sound said...

Tom, here's something I'd like you to consider instead of the usual dodge of changing the subject.

I would like to think that supporters of any party would put Canada first. I think the country belongs to all of its citizens and the government, including its institutions, have a primary duty to those citizens.

Now, I want to know how a Canadian who considers himself patriotic, who puts Canada first, can support a leader who manipulates the public with complete lies and, worse, who gags the public and armed services and prevents them from communicating with the Canadian public?

Who doese that sort of thing? Dick Cheney, Joe Stalin and oh yeah, that other guy, Stephen Harper.

When you support a man who does this you support a man who places himself and his interests above your country and in direct opposition to it.

I can forgive the ignorant, they don't know any better. Those who understand what he's doing and still support him, I really have to question their loyalty to our country.

Anonymous said...

Are you saying that Conservatives are traitors? That seems to be the direction of your argument.
Instead of beating up on Harper, maybe you should look at the whole picture. currently all parties "twist" for power. How do we stop thewm ALL from 'business as usual"?
Also, I'm sure all liberals supported a man like Dion.
there's no room for naivity in power.

Anonymous said...

Candians might not understand the parlimentary system and it's microscopic details, but I don't think it would make a difference. Even if everyone knew that what the coalition was trying was perfectly constitutional we have a pretty deep-seeded understanding of fair-play and common sense.

It just doesn't make good sense to the normal Canadian that the guy who won the recent election by a margin of 2:1 to the next guy doesn't get to be Prime Minister. Even if you don't like Harper, it just doesn't make sense. It's like the Chewbacca defence.

The Mound of Sound said...

Tom, I'm sure you won't believe this but Liberals aren't as defensive of our leaders as Tories are of Harper. Gagging the civil and armed services and interdicting their access to the Canadian public is both undemocratic and unpatriotic and I wouldn't brook that sort of thing from any leader, Liberal included. I don't think any Canadian ought to abide that sort of abuse of our open society. This goes beyond routine, partisan spin - this is locked-down message control. You need to work that one through, really consider the implications of it - a people who are able to communicate with their government solely through an individual who filters what they can hear to benefit his personal political ambitions. I have been in that sort of country, Tom. I just never imagined it would be tolerated in Canada. This isn't some nuanced, abstract point. It goes right to the core of our democracy. You don't want to hear this but it's despotic and it's wrong.

Stephen Harper doesn't pay the public service. We do. He doesn't pay the armed services, we do that too. There's nothing in our constitution that empowers him to muzzle them or provides for the establishment of political commissars in the PMO to filter and shape what we need to hear, to learn from these people.

Harper didn't invent this tactic. It's common to a certain genre of political authoritarianism. History books are full of this sort of figure.

To some, obviously, this is just dandy. I find it loathsome and demeaning of my country, its democracy and the Canadian people.

As for calling people traitors, I'll leave that sort of smear to Mr. Harper's caucus members, they're pretty comfortable with that.

Anonymous said...

This has to be the worst blog you have ever written. There hasn't been a descent government in Canada since the eighties neither Liberal nor Conservetive....that's the problem. Senator Eugene Forsey.....he's a many of you know that one? I don't think all Canadians are ignorant of how the Parlimentary System works in Canada. They just down right don't care. Why? They are too busy worrying about their jobs..A. Morris

Beijing York said...

Harper's attack, after he was cornered with the fact that the opposition parties had lost confidence and were willing to form a coalition government, was deliberately based on misinformation and spin. He basically played on whatever knowledge deficits there might be among many Canadians when it came to understanding our political system. Sadly, the corporate media did little to correct those misconceptions and outright lies.

This criticism has nothing to do with partisan politics. Constitutional issues were presented thoroughly and fairly by Liberal and Conservative governments alike in the past, whether it was with the repatriation of the constitution, the Meech Lake Accord, or Charlottetown Agreement. In all those instances, the government of the day went to great efforts to explain how our system worked and provided the public with ample information.

Harper is beyond traditional Conservative and Liberal styles of governing. He doesn't seek informed consent. He prefers manipulation to further his goals. He has purposely muddied the waters in terms of public perception of the role of PM in this country. He and his cabinet act like they are the Canadian equivalent of the Oval Office. His own caucus has been rendered useless.

In the last election campaign, he framed it as a vote for leadership. Few MPs were allowed to campaign as individuals and functioned as delegates garnering votes for their Republican presidential candidate.

His contempt for the day to day business of the House is well documented. He has stalled or completely usurped committee work (the bread and butter legwork of Parliament), has failed to disclose relevant public documents such as budgetary reports and auditor general's report, has stacked crown agency board and governmental advisory panels with his henchmen, and has prorogued government at a time of global economic crisis.

I believe Harper will be relegated the dishonour of being the worst PM in Canadian history.

The Mound of Sound said...

A. Morris, get a grip. You're way off base. No one suggested that "all Canadians are ignorant of how the Parlimentary (sic) System works in Canada." The point is that far too many are. And the late, great Eugene Forsey is not a Newfoundlander. He was, until he passed on in 1991, and his shoes have never been filled. However I'm grateful that you brought up this fine gentleman. In his day he had an ability to thwart democratic abuses of the sort so attractive to our Furious Leader.

Were Forsey still with us, Harper never would have dared to gag the civil and armed services. He would have been utterly denounced by the learned Senator. Likewise, scurrilous Tory claims that the opposition attempted a "coup" would have been dismissed out of hand by Forsey which would have made them look petty, arrogant and duplicitous (as they are).

I remember fondly the time when Canadians didn't need a thorough understanding of Canadian parliamentary democracy and procedure. They could just turn to Forsey and he was always there to explain the issues.

Of course Canadians are worried about their jobs as you suggest but to imply that they're indifferent to parliamentary democracy because of that is going to take something more than your say so to establish. Have you got anything to back that up?

BY, you wrote, "Constitutional issues were presented thoroughly and fairly by Liberal and Conservative governments alike in the past." I won't quibble because I wholeheartedly agree that we have never seen, on either side of the aisle, a government as cravenly partisan and duplicitous as the one that now besets our people and our democracy.

Anonymous said...

I have more grip than you....The Honourable Eugene A. Forsey was widely regarded as one of Canada’s foremost expert on the country’s constitution.

Born in Grand Bank, Newfoundland, he attended McGill University in Montreal and studied at Britain’s Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. He also received numerous honorary degrees.

Don't lecture me about don't have any idea what I know about him.
A. Morris

Anonymous said...

As for Canadians and their complacency about voting.....look back on your blogs. You've said enough about it yourself. A. Morris