Canada creeps toward becoming a closed society

Nick Fillmore asks a question the regina mom has been grappling with for years: “Is Stephen Harper displaying fascist-like tendencies?” Ever since Naomi Wolf published “Ten Steps To Close Down an Open Society” at the Huffington Post in April, 2007, an essay has been brewing on trm‘s computer.  (Yes, trm admits to being a slow writer.)

Wolf’s research for that article became the book, The End of America, which documents “how open societies become closed societies.” Her family’s friends, Holocaust survivors, urged her to explore a few texts and the result was what she called a “blueprint” that has been adapted by several societies when making a shift from an open to a closed society.  In the HuffPo piece she named ten significant pieces of the blueprint and showed how they were at work in the USA at that time.

To complement Nick Fillmore’s work, trm thought she’d finally share, in point form, what she discovered by placing Wolf’s blueprint on Canada.

1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy

  • What’s more terrifying to a parent than ‘child pornographers’?  According to Vic Toews, the regina mom’s opposition to Bill C-30 — the Snoop and Spy bill — means that she stands with “the child pornographers”.  How does that make a mother feel?
  • Women should be used to it, perhaps.  Years ago, the Prime Minister suggested women’s groups are of the “left-wing fringe.”
  • More recently, as trm has noted, on the eve of the Joint Energy Board’s hearings on the Northern Gateway Pipeline, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver had choice words to describe those in opposition to the proposed pipeline.  He painted “environmental and other radical groups” as those wanting to “block this opportunity to diversify our trade” regardless “the cost to Canadian families in lost jobs and economic growth.” The groups have a “radical ideological agenda” and will “exploit any loophole they can find” to “kill good projects” with “funding from foreign special interest groups to undermine Canada’s national economic interest.”

2. Create a gulag

3. Develop a thug caste

  • The Fifth Estate‘s documentary, Out of Control, about the suicide of Ashley Smith when she was improperly incarcerated in a penitentiary and allowed to die. [Warning: It is difficult to watch.]

4. Set up an internal surveillance system

  • Since 9/11 Canadians have witnessed an alarming increase in surveillance measures.  Are the new airport scanners and procedures are part of the scheme?

5. Harass citizens’ groups

  • Forest Ethics supports its former employee in his allegations that the PMO is trying to “to silence and intimidate non profit organizations like ForestEthics, and the thousands of citizens and civil groups who, like us, are concerned about the direction this country is taking and are speaking out.

6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release

  • G20 protests were an exercise in arbitrary detention and release and suspension of civil rights, as pieced together by CBC’s The Fifth Estate.
  • Saskatoon’s “Starlight Tours” as highlighted in the NFB film Two Worlds Colliding, about the freezing death of Neil Stonechild at the hands of Saskatoon police officers.

7. Target key individuals

  • Franke James is a visual artist with a strong ecological leaning whose federal government funding for a show in Croatia was “suddenly cancelled by Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa, with the words, ‘Who was the idiot who approved an art show by that woman, Franke James?‘”  She has asked and is currently awaiting a meeting with her MP, Joe Oliver, who announced he would meet with environmentalists if asked.

8. Control the press

  • Early on in the Conservatives’ mandate the PMO set in motion new ways of co-ordinating and disseminating of news and information by the government of Canada.

9. Dissent equals treason

  • Item #5 above identifies ForestEthics as a harassed citizens’ group. It’s former employee Andrew Frank maintains that he and other employees were told the PMO considered them to be enemies of the state.
  • Recently, Canadians were advised that they may be placed on counter-terrorism watch lists if they are involved in “the promotion of various causes such as animal rights, white supremacy, environmentalism and anti-capitalism” activities.

10. Suspend the rule of law

  • The conservative government has twice prorogued Parliament while critical debates and actions were underway that may have toppled the Minority government.

 

 

As you can clearly see, dear Reader, Canada is active in every area of the blueprint Wolf found.  And, up against Nick Fillmore’s piece, there is definitely overlap.  Canada is creeping towards closing down as a society, to becoming a fascist state.

Our democracy is very fragile.  Hold onto her tightly.

The Internet v. Vic Toews: Score one for The Tweeps [Amended]

[Correction: Thanks to an observant commenter who noted that Hitler was misquoted in an earlier version of this post the regina mom posts this version with proper attribution.]

That the HarperCons might in any way be surprised by the public response to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews’ introduction of the “Snoop and Spy” Bill C-30 made the regina mom laugh! . The public responses to the HarperCons over the past while have been strong:

to name a few.  And, when placed against a backdrop of Canada as a Collossal Fossil at international climate talks, job loss such as that created by the Caterpillar plant closure in London, Ontario and the general outrage as evidenced in the unparliamentary language Liberal MP Justin Trudeau hurled across the aisle at Environment Minister Peter Kent, to name a few — how can anyone really be surprised?

Minister Toews must have felt significant pressure to ensure passage of the bill when he framed opposition to it as standing with the child pornographers.  Oh, my yes, think of the children, a tactic recommended by another fascist:

The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. —Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation. –Rabbi Daniel Lapin, Hitler Writes from the Grave

Oops!  Was that a failure of impression managers in the Minister’s office?  Did someone really fail to see the tipping point approaching?

From where trm sits, on the once-cold Canadian Prairies, something’s surely tipped.  In the middle of February on the northern Great Plains the temperature hovers around 0 degrees Celsius and have for a while now.  It’s a very early spring and the recently-revised digital revolution arrived in Canada, thanks to the Minister of Public Safety, Vic Toews.

Three digital phenomena, the Twitter user @vikileaks30 (mirrored here), the hashtags #TellVicEverything and #DontToewsMeBro and the “hacktivist” group, Anonymous, brought international attention to the Snoop and Spy bill.  @vikileaks30 sent tweets (140-character messages) excerpted from public documents about Vic Toews rather seedy divorce proceedings, his spending habits as an MP and Cabinet Minister and challenged the Minister to open his browser history for all the world to see.

The hashtagging (assigning a label to a message) by Twitter users received notice world-wide for a moment and remained one of the most discussed topics on Twitter in Canada for several hours.  In the Twitterverse (world of Twitter) that’s a long time.  The Minister has asked the Speaker to investigate the vikileaks account, based on very bad computer sleuthing by the Ottawa Citizen.

Follow that up with Anonymous demanding the withdraw of B-30 and the resignation of Minister Toews with the promise to release additional information about him if he doesn’t has led to an interesting point.  The Minister now hides between a real (imagined?) cloak as a victim of public attack, and apparently, the recipient of threats on his family and his life after admitting he did not read Bill C-30 before presenting it to Parliament.

Yes, trm might go into hiding, too, if she’d presumed such arrogance, made a huge fool of herself and yet again muddied the idea of democracy.  It seems, though, that the PMO is trying to clean up the mess.  Good luck with that!  Canadians found Twitter and, apparently, know how to use it.

Together, we make a difference

Thank you, dear Readers, for the rapid response to yesterday’s call. Aaron Wherry’s coverage of the excellent elocutions by NDP Member of Parliament, Charlie Angus, in the House of Commons regarding the Snoop and Spy Bill C-30, suggests we’ve made a difference. Here’s Charlie.

 

And after Charlie’s lambasting of the Minister here’s what went down according to Wherry,

 

The Public Safety Minister turned to his script, finishing with a concession of sorts. “We will send this legislation directly to committee,” he said, “for a full and wide-ranging examination of the best way to do what is right for our children.”

 

It didn’t end there.  The 3rd-party Liberals rose in the House, first Bob Rae and then Ralph Goodale and they rammed it home.

 

Standing next, Bob Rae pressed the advantage. “Mr. Speaker, I am sure that the people who come forward with amendments will not be called Adolf Hitler,” he scolded from the far end of the room, “will not be called terrorists and will not be called friends of pedophilia by the minister when they come forward with reasoned amendments.”

 

Then Ralph Goodale stood to make clear the extent of the retreat. “The Prime Minister implied a few moments ago that he will entertain amendments to Bill C-30,” he lectured. “Do we have his guarantee that amendments will in fact be welcomed in the parliamentary committee?”

 

The Minister assured the House that amendments to C-30 would be entertained. Unable to let it go and, quite possibly to ram it home for Quebeckers,

 

…the NDP’s Francoise Boivin stood across the aisle from Mr. Toews and pronounced shame on the minister and the legislation. 

 

trm must say, Thank you, Parliamentarians, friends and colleagues.  Together we make a difference!

This is my SOS to the world

A tiny community called out to world.  And the world answered.  Foreign aid arrived in Canada courtesy environmental organizations which, if you’ll remember, dear Reader, are “radical groups” with “radical agendas” trying to “derail” the Northern Gateway Pipeline project. Our radical agenda, backed by independent science, demands acknowledgement that the continued expansion of the tarsands is killing the environment, people, creatures.  Our audacity to challenge the continued expansion to the tarsands, including the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline.  It’s likely the HarperCon governments’ condemnation of the earth-based movement was a way of side-railing or discrediting the documentary, Tipping Point: The Age of the Oil Sands.  The documentary is billed as

a two-hour visual tour de force, taking viewers inside the David and Goliath struggle playing out within one of the most compelling environmental issues of our time.  

In an oil-scarce world, we know there are sacrifices to be made in the pursuit of energy.  What no one expected was that a tiny Native community downriver from Canada’s oil sands would reach out to the world, and be heard.

Tipping Point follows the people of Fort Chipewyan as they take their case to the world.  They live downstream from the tarsands.  And they are dying.  The world heard their plea.  Science spoke.  The world heard the science.  And acted. The HarperCon government silenced its own scientists, defended climate change denial science, gutted environmental programs and greenbaited those who, like the regina mom, stand up to this abuse of power. And now the government proposes to silence citizens.

On Valentine’s Day, 2012, the HarperCon Government introduced An Act to enact the Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act and to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts aka the Spy Bill in the House of Commons. Their framing of Bill C-30 draws on G. W. Bush-era “with us or against us” politics, saying that Canadians have a choice to either “stand with us or with the child pornographers.

 

NDP Opposition Critic, Charlie Angus, does not like it, says it is “an unprecedented bill that undermines the privacy rights of Canadians” and that it will turn a cell phone into an “electronic prisoners’ bracelet.” Watch this extended coverage of the NDP’s response to Bill C-30.

The citizen group Open Media doesn’t like it, either.

The government has just tabled an online spying plan that will allow authorities to access the private information of any Canadian at any time, without a warrant.If they are successful your personal information could be caught up in a digital dragnet and entered into a giant unsecure registry of private data.

By forcing digital service providers to install costly online surveillance infrastructure, this scheme will create red tape for online innovators and businesses. It takes Canada in the wrong direction—a dangerous move when families are already falling behind during unstable economic times.

This warrantless online spying plan will invade your privacy and cost you money. If we care about privacy, the open Internet, our economy and our basic democratic rights, it’s time to tell Ottawa to stop this irresponsible plan NOW.

Dear Reader, the regina mom fears that Canada is heading down the road to becoming a closed society.  Please watch Tipping Point and stand with us to stop the Canadian government.  Email Charlie Angus and NDP Leader Nycole Turmel.  Email the Prime Minister, and the minister responsible for this legislation, Vic Toews, too, if you like.  Be creative.  Do whatever you can think of to do.  But please do something.  Please help Canadians save their country.

Please consider this my message in a bottle.

Performance Tonight!

Vertigo Reading Series Posterthe regina mom is pumped for a performance at the Vertigo Reading Series tonight in Regina.  She’s edited this poem and will slip it into the mix because she has to try out the change and thinks it will fit into her love-themed, genre-hopping set list.

 

trm‘s favourite guitar guy will be on hand to accompany her on a performance piece, “Love Song for Emma Lake,” an earlier version of which you may have caught at the Regina Folk Festival or a Briarpatch Magazine fundraiser a few years ago.

 

It’ll be an eclectic mix of kidlit, poetry, performance and song.  See you there! 7:30 pm Crave Kitchen & Wine Bar, 1925 Victoria Ave.

A political poetry break

the regina mom participated in the Saskatchewan Council for International Co-operation (SCIC) Global Justice Poetry Slam last week. This poem got her into the second round where a false start netted her a wicked time count violation that knocked her out of the competition.

This week, she gets to try again. SCIC recorded the performances in Regina and the ones in Saskatoon, too. You can see them at YouTube and vote for your favourites. Vote for trm by clicking the thumbs-up under her piece at YouTube.

 

Another Northern Gateway Pipeline Update

Sometimes, the regina mom wonders why she bothers to write her long blogposts, when others do it excellently with a short quote and video or are capable of piecing together a few headlines about the HarperCons’ visit to China, the trade trip on which the Enbridge CEO has accompanied the Prime Minister presumably to tout the pipeline projected to forever change the BC coastline, coastal communities and eco-system when the first tanker spill happens.

Meanwhile, back on the Canadian ranch, the HarperCon MPs spew slick rhetoric. Kady O’Malley’s citations from the Hansard regarding MP Larry Brown’s statements about Sharon Carstairs, Allan Rock and Hitler proves to be a very interesting, if frightening read.  It makes trm believe the PMO is using the Karl Rove’s playbook (PDF).

Open file has a bit of a who’s who on the Northern Gateway issue but forgot to mention one of Canada’s treasures, Franke James, who is still awaiting confirmation for a meeting with her MP, Joe Oliver.  Remember him?  He’s the oily MP who offered to meet with environmentalists, the one whose whose slippery words really got the ball rolling on this campaign.

 

Pipelines: Which side are you on, planet or profit?

Since the Northern Gateway pipeline hit the news, the regina mom has read more posts about science than ever before.  And it’s not because science claims a place in her higher reading order.  Rather, it’s because the HarperCon response to public outrage about the pipeline has forced her to know wtf she’s talking about.  Or try to, anyway.

 

David Suzuki says that’s a good thing, that “science literacy is good for society.”  So there.  trm is doing it for the good of society!  Suzuki also says,

 

In an open society, leaders who have nothing to hide and who base their decisions on the best available evidence should have no reason to muzzle scientists, or anyone else. Just as parents should help children find relevant facts and encourage exploration, governments have a responsibility to make sure we have access to good information.

 

Having answers to our children’s questions is not enough. If we want societies that provide the maximum benefit for the most people over the longest time, and if we want to find solutions to the challenges and problems we’ve created, we must teach our children and ourselves how to find and evaluate answers objectively. Making science education a priority is an important part of that.

 

Did the HarperCons have poor science education?  Because it’s clear they’re not responding to science or the very real dangers this project would create, unless to twist it for political points.  What interest, then, does it serve the HarperCon government in ignoring all this?  That question was answered when trm read US environmentalist and Distinguished Scholar, Bill McKibbon’s dispatch:

 

The open question is why the industry persists in denial in the face of an endless body of fact showing climate change is the greatest danger we’ve ever faced.

 

Why doesn’t it fold the way the tobacco industry eventually did? Why doesn’t it invest its riches in things like solar panels and so profit handsomely from the next generation of energy? As it happens, the answer is more interesting than you might think.

 

Part of it’s simple enough: the giant energy companies are making so much money right now that they can’t stop gorging themselves. ExxonMobil, year after year, pulls in more money than any company in history. Chevron’s not far behind. Everyone in the business is swimming in money.

 

Still, they could theoretically invest all that cash in new clean technology or research and development for the same. As it happens, though, they’ve got a deeper problem, one that’s become clear only in the last few years. Put briefly: their value is largely based on fossil-fuel reserves that won’t be burned if we ever take global warming seriously.

 

And that’s it, isn’t it?  The HarperCons are the party of big business, of the corporate sect that lined the Conservative Party coffers for the last election and they now have the ear of government.  Why, the CEO of Enbridge accompanied the PM on the trip to China!  That certainly doesn’t make the HarperCons look impartial to the pipeline now, does it?  Enbridge’s big  boss seems emboldened by the gesture, asserting that he has already offered enough to First Nations who would be impacted by his pipeline. “We think the financial package we’re offering is very, very strong, so we don’t have any intent (or) consideration on changing that,” is what he told the Reuters news agency.

 

No doubt he’s been crunching numbers.  He couldn’t offer more; it’d cut into his bottom line.  Make no mistake, that’s what this is all about, the bottom line.  Back to McKibbon for a moment.  He reminds trm that oil is a finite resource.  Oil execs and their minions, aka our governments, are racing to beat the pending disaster  inherent in continued GHG production, the distaster science is telling us we must avoid.  But keeping oil reserves in the ground, he says, would impact the oil industry’s bottom line by $20 trillion.  And that, in McKibbon’s words,

 

…would be a disaster, first and foremost for shareholders and executives of companies like ExxonMobil (and people in places like Venezuela). If you run an oil company, this sort of write-off is the disastrous future staring you in the face as soon as climate change is taken as seriously as it should be, and that’s far scarier than drought and flood. It’s why you’ll do anything — including fund an endless campaigns of lies — to avoid coming to terms with its reality.

 

NDP Member of Parliament Megan Leslie gets it.  She is not afraid to look at the reality of the situation and look to a solution.

 

We must recognize our fossil fuel stock as a precious resource that we can use strategically to provide jobs today, but also ensure longer-term job security by using the short-term wealth they create to transition us towards new industries. We need to stop denying the writing on the wall, and develop prudent strategies to find ways to transfer the skills and knowledge that the workers in the oilsands have toward green energy industries.

 

A green jobs strategy would include extending the ecoENERGY home retrofit program, which the Conservatives have just cancelled, because it has created economic spinoffs of $10 for every $1 invested by the government while simultaneously reducing our carbon footprint. Jobs can be created through investing in green infrastructure projects, enhanced public transit and green research and development, all of which will spur economic development in every community in Canada.

But the HarperCons aren’t set on taking us there.  So, what do we do?  McKibbon:

 

 

Telling the truth about climate change would require pulling away the biggest punchbowl in history, right when the party is in full swing. That’s why the fight is so pitched. That’s why those of us battling for the future need to raise our game.

 

We’ve started, that’s for sure.  But we need to pump it up a few notches if we want the attention of the HarperCons.  Make no mistake about it, we can do it!

 

 

Willful Ignorance

As the HarperCon delegation of Ministers and big biz boyz prepared to take off for China, the wise Yinka Dene Nation through whose lands the Northern Gateway pipeline is proposed to go, were busy writing letters.  They sent one to the Government of China loaded with examples describing how

Aboriginal communities in Canada live at the margins of society – in abject poverty with appalling conditions. Recently the community of Attawapiskat was highlighted in the news for the extreme conditions with lack of housing, running water and sewage. Attawapiskat is one of more than 100 First Nations communities in Canada that face this reality. These conditions violate the adequate standard of living guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the rights to adequate housing, education, and other rights guaranteed in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

They sent an open letter to the People of China:

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is visiting China this week to talk about his plans toforce the Enbridge Northern Gateway Oil Pipeline and Tankers through our lands, territories, and watersheds. Harper plans to violate our indigenous human rights to build this 1200 kilometre oil pipeline from the Alberta oil sands to the Pacific Ocean. We will not allow Harperto force this oil pipeline through our lands. Under United Nations international law, we have the right to say no to this pipeline. We will enforce our legal rights to protect our waters from the risk of an oil spill.

While the Prime Minister is in China, the Indigenous Environmental Network has teamed up with the Council of Canadians and the Climate Action Network to lobby various Ottawa-based European Embassies about the realities of the tarsands.  From their news release:

“The Harper Government has failed Canadians and the world by refusing to take the climate crises seriously,” says Hannah McKinnon of Climate Action Network Canada. “Instead of fighting a pollution battle at home, the government has chosen to fight a Public Relations battle abroad –it is pathetic that our government is putting more energy into trying to kill climate change policies in other countries than doing its fair share to fight climate change in Canada.”

The organizations discussed the importance of the policy and directly debunked common industry and government lobby points regarding discrimination, carbon intensity of tar sands, and trade concerns. They made clear the critical importance of pressuring the government to take action on cleaning up the tar sands, both from a climate change and energy perspective as well as the human rights implications on directly impacted First Nation Communities.

“Profound human rights violations are being perpetuated by the Canadian governments ongoing tar sands bonanza. First Nations in the region are living with 30% elevated rates of cancer compared to the rest of Alberta,” says Clayton Thomas-Muller, Tar Sands Campaign Director for the Indigenous Environmental Network. “First Nations peoples have been leading an international campaign to stop the Canadian tar sands, this policy will help cut off Prime Minister Harpers ability to peddle this dirty oil to the European market.”

The blog, Trapped in a Whirlpool, raises the question of water quality in First Nations communities, noting that Alberta has the biggest increase of boil-water orders in the country rising to 38 in 2011 from 8 in 2006.  [begin sarcasm] Of course, we don’t know why, do we? [end sarcasm]  But the HarperCons are doing nothing to fix this.  Apparently, they’d rather the First Nations people drink bitumen, I guess.  Of course, we are not surprised, are we?

The tarsands are also taking habitat away from wild animals. In a twisted scheme to save caribou herds, the HarperCon government will reduce the wolf population by poisoning bait with strychnine.  In a report on the impact of tarsands development the US National Wildlife Federation says,

Canada’s Minister of Environment Peter Kent said in September that thousands of Alberta wolves will need to be killed to rescue caribou impacted by tar sands development. “Culling is an accepted if regrettable scientific practice and means of controlling populations and attempting to balance what civilization has developed. I’ve got to admit, it troubles me that that’s what is necessary to protect this species,” Kent commented. Simon Dyer of the Pembina Institute estimates that many thousands of wolves could be destroyed over five years under Canada’s proposed plan.

The minister has it backwards. Rather than killing wolves, he should be stopping the habitat destruction and restoring habitat associated with tar sands production. Without healthy habitat, the decline of caribou is inevitable, no matter how wolves are managed. If Canada wants to protect caribou herds, the first priority should be protection and restoration of caribou habitat.

The Minister and his cohorts get a lot of things wrong, particularly when it comes to science, according to Metaman.  He basically suggests we turn on our bullshit detectors.

Check your science carefully folks: Give it the sniff test! Is the next phase of “CPC Agnotology” fake peer reviewed “bullshit”? The GOP republicans and CPC conservatives know that they are failing to succeed with ideology, so, is the next step is to put on the “SunTV lab coats (brought to you by FoxNews)” and do some “dog and pony science” for the masses? Perhaps Ezra will finally exchange his “heavy carbon footprint chainsaw for a more efficient and intelligent pen”? Watch for more the new “science parrot” to replace CPC “bullshit“?

It is 2012; Science, in the past 20 years has cleared out a lot of “Kenty” science, but there is much to be done. By eliminating government based science, seems our government expects us to trust corporate science: Tobacco science? Ethical science? FDA Science?

 

350 or bust shared a 26-second video created by NASA scientists.  It shows, very clearly, that global climate change is real.  Have a look yourself:

 

A child could easily understand that.  But our government refuses to.  Willful ignorance is so unbecoming a government.  But that’s willful too, isn’t it?

 

Monday Night Movies: Pipeline Edition

With the Superbowl over and done with and football fans looking for something to watch the regina mom thought she’d share some great short vids for your viewing pleasure .

The first is actually a series of clips from the documentary, On the Line, an award-winning film that shows what, exactly, is on the line with the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline. (These are not embedded here, but rather linked out to their site.)

In the summer of 2010, filmmaker Frank Wolf and his friend Todd McGowan biked, hiked, rafted and kayaked the GPS track of the pipeline in order to uncover the truth about the proposal. Through the voices of people they meet along the way, their rough and tumble journey reveals the severe risks and consequences associated with this 5.5 billion dollar mega-project.

The scheduled screenings are listed on their website as is contact info for broadcast and distribution.  [With gratitude to 350 or bust for the heads' up!]  Here’s hoping that trm hasn’t missed the Regina run.

Next up is also an outside link, this time to a hilarious “public service announcement” from Natural Resources Minister Joe (McCarthy) Oilver, courtesy of Dan Murphy, the editorial cartoonist at The Province newspaper. [With gratitude to the Twitterverse.]

Finally, Rethink Alberta, (below) a shorty edited to contrast what is with what’s happening in Alberta. [trm hasn't a clue how she found it!]

 

Pop some popcorn and enjoy!

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