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by Mark Taliano
Naomi Wolf’s The End Of America, Letter Of Warning To A Young Patriot might just as well be named The End of Canada, since the Government of Canada, now re-branded the “Harper Government”, is following many of the steps that governments follow (in varying degrees) to transition away from democracy and into the murky world of totalitarianism.
These, then, are the ignoble steps that Harper’s Canada is embracing to suppress the flames of liberty:
Invoke an External and Internal Threat.
Harper sees the world outside Canada as a threat, so it follows that he sees the necessity of keeping Canada on a permanent war footing. At the June, 2011 Conservative convention, when asked by Macleans editor Kenneth Whyte whether we were “in a great conflict or heading towards one,” Harper responded, “I think we always are.” (Yves Engler, Militarism On Rise In Conservative Canada). This world-view is the foundation for war-mongering.
Harper’s obsession with purchasing single-sourced, untendered offensive warplanes from MacDonald Douglas aligns itself with this notion that we are surrounded by external threats. Increased military spending is being prioritized while much needed spending on health care, is being reduced. Health transfers to provinces are being significantly reduced.
Harper’s harmonization with the U.S Homeland Security, as it applies to border policing, and thus his alignment with the “War On Terror”, is also part of the external threat manufactured by the government.
Additionally, there is a growing list of manufactured internal threats in Harper’s world. Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations and Aboriginal Groups, as well as competing industries, are deemed to be “adversaries” and therefore internal threats, presumably because they oppose poorly regulated tar sands exploitation and the ensuing “externalities” such as environmental devastation and accelerated global warming. A copy of a federal document detailing adversaries and allies is included here.
Cast criticism as espionage and dissent as treason
Instead of welcoming dissent and working with citizens, the government frames opposition to corporate policies as espionage and treason. When NDP’er Megan Leslie opposed the Keystone XL pipeline on a trip to Washington, she was accused of treachery.
Recasting democratic dissent as unpatriotic is a common totalitarian ploy which enables Surveillance Inc.
Surveil Ordinary Citizens
The surveillance industrial complex flourishes and is a good friend of totalitarian fear-mongering, but again, it is bad for democracy. This industry is enabled (and democracy weakened) by less civilian oversight. Thus, it came as no surprise when the job of Inspector General for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was axed. And, a new low for Canada, Conservative legislation gives the RCMP, the Canadian Border Services Agency, and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the authority to use torture-tainted information.
Current international negotiations over the Trans Pacific Partnership show that once passed, the TPP will be a boon for Surveillance Inc. and a staggering assault on internet freedom. It will be yet another form of censorship, and another assault on freedom. It is no surprise, then, that corporations are insisting that the negotiations be secretive.
Bill 30, part of Surveillance Inc, is a huge infringement on personal privacy, which enables warrantless access to personal internet activity. It looks like this:
Arbitrarily Detain And Release Citizens
Another specialty of the Harper Regime is the arbitrary detention and release of citizens.
At the G-20 in Toronto (June, 2010), site of the largest mass arrests in Canadian history, police detained, and subsequently released over 900 people. Only 99 criminal charges were laid. More recently, Derek Soberall, founder of the Occupy Canada web page, was the target of “detain and release” tactics. Fortunately, the courts exonerated him of all charges. Democratic expressions of dissent are suppressed when citizens fear arbitrary detention, and this of course is what corporate powers want. Peaceful, well-articulated demonstrators, are a nightmare for oligarchs.
Infiltrate Civilian Groups
Infiltrating civilian groups creates an atmosphere of distrust within such groups, and so it, too, is another method of suppression. Likewise, the use of agents provocateurs serves to change the tone of peaceful protest and create violence, which, in turn, provides an opportunity for the regime to criminalize dissent and clamp down on protestors.
The burning police cruiser was the focus of electronic media during the G-20 in Toronto because it “captured” an audience. However, the fact that the police did not intervene reveals that they were using the violence of Black Bloc (and possibly agents provocateurs) as a tool to rationalize a clamp down on all protestors, the vast majority of whom were peaceful. This, of course, aligns itself with the Chris Hedge’s observation that the Black Bloc is a cancer to Occupy.
Subvert The Rule Of Law
Subversion of the rule of law and the introduction of police state laws are the regime’s response to the Maple Spring in Quebec. Anti-protest laws are clearly compatible with totalitarian operations, and completely anathema to the Canadian Charter Of Rights And Freedoms (Canada’s Constitution), which codifies Canadians’ rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of expression. The Quebec protesters are fighting against the downloading of 1% expenses on the 99%, as manifested by increased tuition fees, but they are also addressing wider issues of neo-liberal repression, and the totalitarian nature of Harper’s Canada and Charest’s Quebec.
More recently, after six months of Canada’s longest running student demonstrations, Jean Charest lost the provincial election, and will be replaced by Pauline Marois, premier-elect and leader of the Parti Québécois. She has promised to cancel tuition hikes, and to repeal Bill 78, known as Law 12.
Electoral Fraud is a staple of totalitarian regimes. Every totalitarian government likes to rig elections and commit electoral fraud, and the Harper regime is no different. Despite substantive and growing evidence of electoral fraud in the 2011 election, and the ensuing public outcry for an Independent Inquiry, Canadians are left with a submissive Elections Canada lapdog which is uncooperative with investigators, and which is limiting its “investigation” to one riding. Fortunately, the “radical”: non-governmental agency Council Of Canadians is pursuing legal actions despite the roadblocks presented to it by the regime.
Restrict The Press
The “Canadian” press is self-restricting in the sense that most of Canada’s media is owned by huge conglomerates that benefit from neoliberal corporate tax cuts and the rush of wealth upwards to the 1%. Careerist writers know when to self-censor, which topics to broach, and which to ignore. Essentially, they are their own gatekeepers. The term neoliberalism is rarely broached, nor is the phrase “man-made global warming.” Why? Because the corporate owners support the insular Ignorance Industry of man-made climate change denial and unfettered capitalism, despite the known risks to the planet and the already withering world economy.
The breakdown of media ownership in Canada looks like this.
Considering the accumulating evidence that aligns itself with the modus operandi of totalitarian regimes, the Harper Government, enthralled as it is by corporate influences and the neoliberal agenda, is clearly shifting away from democracy, and into totalitarianism. Democracy lost its voice when the Harper majority chose to prioritize corporate interests over democratic governance.
The brilliance of this totalitarian shift, though, is that many Canadians remain unaware that their government, and its corporate agenda, is turning Canada and its workforce into a commodified zone, where products and people are to be used and exploited.
:: photo courtesy of rubenerd, via Creative Commons license ::
Mark Taliano is a former high school teacher. Currently he spends much of his time as an activist and citizen's journalist.