Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Steve, Neil And The First Nations

Neil Young is now on Stephen Harper's enemies list. Michael Harris writes:

In the thug state Stephen Harper is busily constructing, Young has become Stephane Dion with a guitar, or Michael Ignatieff with a tambourine – just another opponent of the prime minister to be torn down. In Harper’s one-opinion world, to engage is to destroy, never to discuss.

Young’s offence was to express his opinion and to make a donation. In normal democracies, that would be no big deal. You might agree with the rock-star, you might not. Ninety-nine percent of the time, most wouldn’t even notice. 

But Canada is no longer a normal democracy. The evidence is everywhere:

  • Governments in normal democracies don’t introduce legislation seeking the right to ask about your political beliefs when applying for a job;
  • Governments in normal democracies don’t put through 40 per cent of the legislative output of parliament in one bill that effectively prevents scrutiny of its contents;
  • Governments in normal democracies don’t produce endless commercials about themselves paid for by the public they are trying to indoctrinate rather than inform;
  • Governments in normal democracies don’t use the full weight of official wrath against individual citizens who speak out against their policies.

People whose opinions do not jive with the regime's are enemies of the state and must be destroyed. The problem is that Young cannot be destroyed as Dion and Ignatieff were. And the people who Young speaks for cannot be shunted off into oblivion. They know who the prime minister is:

The PM promised to hit the re-set button in the Ottawa/First Nations relationship after his much-ballyhooed public apology to Canada’s Aboriginals for their treatment at residential schools. Then he refused to provide documents to the very Truth and Reconciliation Commission he himself had set up to get to the bottom of it. He went on to slash native funding, ignore the Idle No More leaders, and set the Mounties on native protestors trying to wake up the nation to their plight.

The PM’s idea of consulting with First Nations over resource development was to palm it off on corporate executives and pretend that his constitutional obligation was discharged.

Now the majority of Canadians are onside with the first nations. According to an Abacus poll, 68% of us think  the prime minister is neither honest nor accountable. His personal attacks don't work anymore. Canadians know from whence they come.

And they know they've been had.


Lorne said...

Michael Harris should be made a Member of the Order of Canada for his ongoing stellar contribution to Canadian political journalism, Owen. Oh, wait. I guess his long-standing membership in the Harper Enemies' List precludes that possibility.

Owen Gray said...

Like you, Lorne, I admire Harris' work. As far as his being on Harper's enemies list goes, I suspect he would respond the way Paul Newman did when he discovered he was on Nixon's enemies list. "I consider it," he said, "one of my greatest achievements."

Steve said...

I would have to disagree on one point. The use of goverment funds for self promotion. All governments do it (Harper of course overdoes it). If Trudeau or Mclair were smart they would campaign against this. Any advertising by any goverment even for good purpose has some kind of political payback built in. With the Internet this type of activity should not extend past a Website and a billboard url in each province largest city.

Owen Gray said...

After the sponsorship scandal, Steve, a good case could be made for parties funding such advertising.

If the Harperites were smart, they would make that case. All they have done is continue the old practice -- but they do it on steroids.

The Mound of Sound said...

I think Steve's right. There'll always be some kind of political payback in government advertising. That certainly should be kept to a minimum but part of leadership is government reaching and informing the public so that people can make informed decisions.

Harper has abused his government's outreach and reduced it to raw propaganda and disinformation. It's telling for not just the lies it spews but for essential information that is withheld. Too often our media are complicit in this, content to report what's disseminated by government and overlooking the omissions.

Case in point. Harris refers to the report the Harper government had to submit to the UN detailing projected GHG emissions to 2030. All along the feds have been telling us we're working toward a 20% reduction (from 1990) by 2030 and making real progress. The numbers given the UN point to a 38% increase by 2030, mainly from tarsands expansion. Even then the UN thinks Harper cooked the books to minimize GHG emissions from fracked natural gas.

Did you see any headlines screaming about Harper's perfidy? I didn't. It was reported in The Guardian and, here, by Michael Harris.

Our media are supposed to be the watchdog of government but they've been transformed into its lapdog. Yes, Harper is undermining Canadian democracy in many ways but he's doing it with the acquiescence of our media.

Owen Gray said...

As you are well aware, Mound, skepticism used to be the first requirement for all political journalists.

But that requirement has been ditched. Consider the former journalists who have acted as Harperian courtiers -- Duffy, Wallin, Kent -- not to mention those who still write for the national media.

The price of one's soul comes cheap these days.

the salamander said...

.. a toxic evangelical soup pretending to be an elected government 'representing' Canada and Canadians.. continues to spew ominously out of control in Ottawa.. along with smaller accelerating toxic spews provincially and civically..

They're all stark raving naked crazy of course.. completely full of shite.. deceitful.. and obviously out of control. Neil Young brought the hammer down on the Treaty Violations & the Tar Sands.. indirectly & directly lambasting Harper/Ottawa - Alberta/Redford and Big Oil for exactly what they are currently doing.. selling out the country and its citizens.

The collective gall, the dishonesty, obstruction, secrecy, smugness, distorted and missing values.. are astonishing.. as are the base 30 % that seem to think its all fricken wonderful.. and Stephen Harper, the Manchurian Conservative Reform Alliance Asshat is the kindest warmest most loving human being they have ever not met.. and never will..

Neil Young did what 99.9 % of mainstream media are too cowardly or confused or incapable of doing.. He went right to the very top and called Harper out - point blank .. We need every hand to clean out the disgusting miasma pretending to be a coherent legitimate government in Ottawa.. and we should move on after into the provincial headquarters and clean up there as well... just like Iceland ..

Call them out.. and give the boot to smirking crooked self serving political partisan animals.. powerwash the PMO and name every stinking one of them

Owen Gray said...

I'm told, salamander, that Harper is on record for saying he likes "to see fear in their eyes." What makes Neil Young different is that he simply doesn't scare.

More importantly, he speaks truth to power.

e.a.f. said...

Niel Young comes to perform to raise money for a court challenge by a First Nation group. The Prime Minister isn't happy about it. Like when does the head of a country get all upset about what a rock musician has to say, even if he is very famous? Obviously Neil Young hit a nerve and Harper gave Neil Young a whole lot of free publicity. Like they say in show business. I don't care what you say about me, just spell my name right.
Harper did more for Neil Young's cause, than he can imagine. \

Good for Neil Young for giving the concerts.

At this rate, Harper won't have anyone left on his Christmas card list.

Of course the two WWII Vets said it best. One told the Cons to go to hell and another said not to vote for Harper. perhaps some one will get those comments ready for ads for the election.

Owen Gray said...

You can bet that the vets and Neil will show up in the next election campaign, e.a.f.

Harper still hasn't figured out why people are turning against him.