Yesterday I caused quite a stir. As one can imagine, I'm used to that.
My suggestion that ordinary citizens must demand answers from their government drew the considerable ire of government supporters. Amidst the hundreds of childish names I was called (yes, I shot back, because you dickwads can't bully me, two can play that sandbox game), among the many times these fools posted tweets saying absolutely stupid things and trying to make it appear as though I had said them (this is a normal tactic of Harpertrolls), were a few challenges. Actually, a single challenge, repeated by a few of them.
Anyone who knows me will also know I don't back down from anyone. On any level. If you can actually prove me wrong on something I say, I am big enough to acknowledge if I'm wrong and if the situation calls for it, I'll actually apologize. Unfamiliar concepts for a lot of internet folks, but I have my own standards.
Back to the challenge. Since I am fond of referring to the tactics of the Harper government as exhibiting fascist leanings, some of his fanboys & fangirls thought I should be the one to prove it.
With the help of a good research background, here ya go fuckers. By the way, you'll have to do a little work on your own, because I'm going to link to examples, not rewrite everything for you.
First, how is fascism defined?
In very long form, and of course, subject to discussion, here is the Wikipedia version
This, in shorter form, is the definition from the Merriam-Webster dictionary
For the purposes of this blog, I intend to compare the Harper government to the fourteen defining characteristics of fascism as assembled by Lawrence Britt. There is much debate as to the validity of such definitions, and interesting discussion of which you could read here and if you are a fan of reading, history, political science, or just plain expanding your mind, this is a pretty decent starter list of reading materials.
Now let me say this before I continue. Don't be an idiot I am not saying Stephen Harper is Adolph Hiltler so don't even go there.
I am comparing the actions of our current government to a list of characteristics shared by numerous governments in several countries at various points of history.
The importance of what I am writing is not because I think the conservative party of Canada is about to start rounding people up and slaughtering them en masse, because that is patently ridiculous. I don't think that, even though I am sure some people will scan this blog and accuse me of that. Wrong.
The importance is I do fear many conditions are being put in place by our current government that can be used in more dangerous manners than any of us care to believe.
I don't think Harper has evil intentions, more personal ambitions. By fulfilling his own personal ambitions, he is setting the table for someone who really does have evil intentions to use and abuse the system that is being put in place right now. In Canada (and other western nations I will add).
If you think I am going to give you exact matches to every characteristic on the list, stop reading. This isn't my doctoral thesis, it's a blog post. An opinion you can consider or discard. I am, however, going to provide examples for each of the fourteen characteristics and you can freely look for others on your own. I'm not your mommy, you either do your homework or stay as uninformed as you wish. You have the right to agree, disagree, or not care. Just because I believe you should care doesn't mean you will. I pose this post only as a cautionary tale for those who think I am not wrong.
To be 100% clear, NO I do not believe we currently live in a fascist country. YES I do believe more and more laws are being put in place that are sending us down that road. Not a road I have any desire to go down, but we still have personal choice.
Let us take it from the top.
#1 (Powerful & Continuing) NATIONALISM
The government of Stephen Harper continually sends messages about the superiority of Canada. Some of these are delivered to a national audience. The idea we are somehow superior because we don't appear to be in as desperate shape as some of the world's other economies. The government wants to portray Canada as an energy superpower, somehow extrapolating this into giving Canada status as a world superpower. For some people, this may play well, seeing their Prime Minister Lecturing those "socialist" Europeans about how they must fix their economies and how he expects them to do it. While this may play well to a domestic audience, the recipients of such lectures don't intend to bow to Stephen Harper or any foreign know-it-all. This government has an agenda of building a nationalism based not on actual fact, but public relations twisting of events to try to create a Canada of their own making. While many Canadians hoped to celebrate the 30th anniversary of our own Charter of Rights and Freedoms, this government snubbed the occasion in favour of spending big dollars celebrating the war of 1812, essentially a war between British Troops, Aboriginals, and Americans, fought and over with 55 years before Canada became a country. In fact, the attempt to elevate this odd border skirmish into some kind of revisionist beginning of the nation of Canada, extended to this year's Canada Day celebrations on parliament hill, even according to the conservative leaning National Post, was not well received.
Do some research on your own. Tell me you can't find instances of this government beating a drum of Canadian pride, which unfortunately, is not matched by the actions and legislation of this government.
#2 Disdain for Human Rights
Where this one begins and ends is hard to measure. I don't mind beginning with the Harper Government's apparent total disdain for its own citizens the moment they go outside our own borders. It's difficult to ignore the case of Maher Arar who our government allowed to be taken off a plane in the United States, taken to Syria, tortured, was completely innocent of any crime and the taxpayers had to pick up the 10.5 million dollars in damages rightly awarded to him. How about this gem. Remember the woman stranded in Kenya because the Canadian government accused her of not being who she said she was? Is this how we defend the rights of Canadians? Having them wrongfully imprisoned in a foreign country and actually leaving them there until a DNA test proved she was exactly who she said she was. I don't remember an apology and I'm unsure how much we will pay for the Harper Government's disdain for human rights in this case. Locally, we've had the Harper government actively fighting to get Potato Farmer Henk Tepper sent to Algeria to be tried there. Add stories like this to fiascoes like the G20 which has spawned thousands of stories of disdain for human rights, including this one, or this one, or even this one.
Again, do some of your own research on the Harper human rights record, including endorsement of using information obtained by torture, ignoring a plea bargain with the US over the Omer Khadr situation, even the treatment of our own Aboriginal Nations.
#3 Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats (as a unifying cause)
I don't even need links for this one. Muslims. We must always be in fear of Muslim terrorists, Islamists, criminal refugees, criminal illegal immigrants and anyone who looks different. There are also the domestic terrorists like environmentalists, and of course, the most evil, worst enemy Canadians could ever have, Liberals, lefties, dippers, commies, socialists and the like. Count women in there too, in a subtle way. In fact, this government would have ordinary Canadians believe that anyone who disagrees with anything this government says or does is an enemy of the state.
Don't try to tell me you haven't noticed.
#4 Supremacy of the Military
Canada was once a respected nation of peacekeepers. Other countries didn't hate us. Then came the Harper government, who beat the drums or war wherever and whenever they can. They don't really care much for veterans or taking care of them, unless they are useful for a photo op. Canada is frequently seen as sabre rattling, Lybia, Iran, denouncing Palestinians, who knows who could be next, so this government plans to spend a lot of money on military projects, many of which I hadn't even heard of before reading them. We all know about the F35 fiasco. Nobody can really seem to explain how we need stealth and first-strike capability fighter bombers to defend Canada. Who are we attacking? Do we defend ourselves by bombing our own cities? Meanwhile the lies roll on, and on, and on! This doesn't even get into why the Harper government has kept silent about a deal signed that allows the US military to operate inside Canada. In a country that has never been directly attacked by anyone, why such a sudden requirement for a military that looks far more offensive than defensive.
Again, you can find many instances of this government having no coherent plan other than beefing up the military without explanation as to why the taxpaying citizens need it. Doesn't look like the "peace dividend" ever pays in a Harper Canada.
#5 Rampant Sexism
I'm the first to admit I'm not a woman. It's hard to speak for women when you aren't one, but this government appears to have taken dead aim at women. They've taken a samurai sword to women's programs especially, as noted in this posting, as well as women's health cuts revealed in the omnibus bill C38. This doesn't get to a discussion of M312 which is really nothing more than a trial balloon to see if they can take away women's rights over their own reproductive choices. This is clearly a government who believe women should be shut up, knocked up, and in the kitchen where they belong. It's interesting to note the now internationally famous Slutwalk woman's rights protests began in Canada, because a police officer said women who dressed a certain way were "asking for it", a central sexist theme used to excuse men for rape.
#6 Controlled Mass Media
The greatest threat to free society is a biased media. It is much easier to manage media bias when you have a greater degree of concentration of ownership. When you allow ownership of mass media into fewer hands, those fewer hands are grateful and easier to manipulate. Then we have the CBC, favorite target of the Harper government and their rabid fans, yet, you either didn't know, or like me, cannot explain or come to terms with this fact: CBC/Radio-Canada adopted a new code of ethics on April 2, 2012 to introduce guidelines for standards of integrity and professional conduct for its staff. This new code is a serious threat to the independence of the public broadcaster and its staff. Section 1.2 of the code states that CBC/Radio-Canada staff must loyally carry out the decisions of their leaders and support ministers in their accountability to Parliament and Canadians. There is no exception for the opposition.
#7 Obsession with National Security
How much more evidence does one require? This government intends to pass legislation allowing itself to spy, warrantlessly, upon anyone, anytime, anywhere and never have to tell you about it. Have you tried taking a flight in the last decade? They pretty much want to rape you to let you on board, and don't carry nail clippers or you could end up on a no fly list. It's undisputed we are living under the most secretive government in our history, and we are so obsessed with security, we have agreed to let America operate within and around our borders with impunity. What could we possibly be so frightened of we cannot take care of ourselves? Why, in Canada, am I reading more and more news stories containing the phrase "heavily armoured police"? Police. Not military. Not reserves. Heavily. Armoured. Police. What, exactly, are they so afraid of? Environmentalists? I don't get it, if you do, please explain.
#8 Religion & Government are Intertwined
I don't think it's much of a secret the Conservative Party of Canada has more than a small share of MP's who come carrying ties to rather fundamental religious groups/organizations and churches. I have always been a firm believer there should always bee a clear separation of church and state. I really need someone to explain what governmental purpose an Office of Religious Freedoms would serve. Religions belong in their churches, and politics belongs in our parliament. Why have the twain met under the Harper government.
#9 Corporate Power is Protected
It has become exceedingly difficult to quickly find stories of how corporations call the shots. What we do know is secretive "trade" talks are going on over several fronts. CETA, deals with China, Latin America, the TPP, it's difficult to keep up and I don't really like to link to other blogs if I can help it. These many trade deals are immensely complex and require a really advanced understanding of how trade rules and changes thereto affect everyday citizens. While citizens are told they have to live with less and less, work harder and longer, corporate taxes are being reduced more and more, even when we already have exceedingly low corporate taxes. With all the benefits afforded corporations at our expense, you would think our standard of living should be going up and unemployment going down but it's exactly the opposite, even though the biggest corporations are earning record profits, CEO and executive pay has accelerated at a record pace while wages for works stay stagnant or move downward while costs continue to increase. To me that says corporations are protected a lot more than citizens are. Even as they bragged Canada didn't "bail out our banks" they quietly used the CMHC to purchase over a hundred billion dollars in questionable mortgages from the banks, you can find stories about it all over your local search engine. Almost every media outlet reported on it.
#10 Labour Power is Suppressed
Air Canada. Canada Post. CP Rail. Back to work legislation when there hasn't even been a labour disruption. Big taxpayer gift of over 19 million to Caterpiller Inc to buy Electromotive in Ontario but no penalty when they tried to bust the union and closed up shop to move to a non-union state in the US. Why should we not have our taxpayer dollars back and a penalty for this company? Constant vilification of labour as some kind of evil force. Muzzling of government employees under threat of elimination. If anyone thinks the Harper government wants to cooperate with the working class in this country they must pay absolutely no attention to reality. Go search news sites. Labour Minister Lisa Raitt has no record of fairness in the exercise of her office. She isn't doing the bidding of Canadian workers, she does the bidding of those who would profit from lowering the standard of living for Canadian workers.
#11 Disdain for Intellectuals & the Arts
If you want to talk disdain for intellectuals, lets talk about muzzling of federal scientists. The key right there is those last 4 highlighted words are separate stories of the Harper Government muzzling federal scientists lest they say something in public that contains facts that don't agree with policy. Doctors are begging this government not to let refugees to this country fall fatally ill by cutting off funding to their care, the government has responded by mean spirited cuts and a Minister (Jason Kenney) who allegedly called refugees "criminal illegal immigrants" (even though he is minister of a department that knows refugees and immigrants are totally separate entities) and attempted to convince provinces to cut health care funding for them as well. Is he telling doctors they are stupid and refugees are better off dead? Don't physicians understand health care better than an ideologue politicial minister who is supposed to be overseeing the integration of all new Canadians? Anything artistic that rubbed the Harper government the wrong way was quickly defunded. The recent budget made major funding cuts to the arts including their favorite target, the CBC/Radio-Canada. if you need any more proof, you need only learn more about environmental artist Franke James, a courageous Canadian who won't be silenced.
#12 Obsession with Crime & Punishment
If you don't know anything about the omnibus crime bill you'd better read a lot, real fast. Here are just some of the mass media stories on this bill. The one Vic Toews said either we support or we're with the child pornographers. you can choose from The Toronto Star, CBC.ca or The National Post and even The Canadian Civil Liberties Association, along with dozens of other stories. We're told we have to spend billions on new prisons because of high rates of supposed unreported crime and when even TEXAS, the rootinest, tootinest, crimebustinest law and order society on the planet tell your country their plan was exactly the same and was a dismal failure which ended up almost bankrupting them, you would think the Harper government would pay attention. but no.
#13 Rampant Cronyism & Corruption
In all honesty, who can't name how often we've heard of commissions and offices set up under Harper who have produced no work for millions of dollars. We have two sitting senators, appointed by Harper, who plead guilty to election fraud. How about Bruce Carson. How is it the RCMP could approve this man, convicted 5 times for fraud, for the top job in the PMO and we have never been told who approved him and no discipline for whoever made this major error. Dean Del Mastro is under investigation for breaking election laws in 2008 and refuses to give a statement after his rights have been read to him. Then there's Pierre Poutine, the many irregularities surrounding the Guelph campaign. Complaints elections Canada considers valid in 200 ridings. 80 million dollars in funds to speed up border crossings diverted to gazebos and signs and outdoor toilets and street beautification in Tony Clement's far from the border riding, rumoured to be spent in a shady method without a paper trail. This is just scratching the surface.
#14 Fraudulent Elections
Convictions in the in and out scandal in the 2006 election. Dean Del Mastro having very questionable paperwork regarding his 2008 expenses and serious concerns alleging his cousin is heavily involved in fraudulently enticing employees and others to make 1000 dollar donations to the campaign of someone in a riding hundreds of miles away in order to be reimbursed an extra 50 dollars and a receipt for a big fat tax deduction. Currently it is alleged some of these peoples are offing copies of the reimbursement cheques in return for immunity from prosecution. Then there's Pierre Poutine. Then there's Etobicoke-Centre. Face call to constituents about Irwin Cotler. Fake calls from elections Canada that match a conservative database. Employees of a call centre filing affadavits they directed people to wrong polling stations. Suddenly replacing the key man in Elections Canada, the man responsible for the robocalls investigation, a man with considerable justice background and experience with a career civil servant who has no such experience.
I could write for a long time about what I feel is the tendency of this particular government to lead us down a legislative road that if it isn't fascism, is a huge step toward clearing the way for worse, more draconian, more frightening legislation.
That's my answer to all of those who said I couldn't provide a single example how this government exhibited any fascist tendencies. There are plenty more. Find them yourself, it's easy.