Tommy Douglas' grandson -- Kiefer Sutherland -- has his own television show, 24. Stephen Harper also has his own show, 24/7. Jeffrey Simpson writes:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper stars in every episode, although other cabinet ministers occasionally make cameo appearances, as do Canadians with something positive, even glowing, to say about the performance of Mr. Harper and his government.
A team of half a dozen people put together this weekly thriller, at a cost we do not know in detail. They film all week, following the Prime Minister where he wants to be followed and ostensibly giving Canadians insight into how their government operates. Of course, that isn’t what 24 Seven really does. Instead, it offers a weekly propagandistic view of a few things the government wants you to see, paid for with your tax dollars.
The show is the ultimate exercise in navel gazing, produced by people who believe that the Canadian media establishment has lined up against them:
Since the Conservatives consider most of the country’s news media outlets (Sun TV and right-wing hot-line hosts excepted) irredeemably hostile (despite much evidence to the contrary), the government’s aim is to bypass and frustrate them as much as possible.
The prime directive in the Harper government is that image trumps substance. It is a 21st century version of Goebbels' Big Lie. The people will believe whatever they see -- provided they see it often enough. So, Stephen Harper has become obsessed with own image -- and control of all images:
All the world’s a stage, Shakespeare once wrote, and for the Harper government, this remains a focus principle of daily activity, hence 24 Seven. They create the stage, cut the images, write the script, package bits of staged reality and present it to whomever can be enticed to watch.
What is slightly unique about this government’s staging is the elimination of the possibility of spontaneity. Nothing is unscripted, which is as things are in a theatrical presentation but slightly odd for public events, where something unexpected might occur. Government presentations are designed less as events where the public might participate – as in asking unscripted questions – but as theatrical events with set and script fixed in advance and executed with an impressive dedication.
It makes one wonder if Mr. Harper himself is a automaton.