Winnipeg, March 14, 2015: About a thousand people rallied at Winnipeg City Hall and marched through Winnipeg to share their opposition to Bill C-51, a federal Conservative omnibus bill that will, in the guise of fighting terrorism, undermine constitutionally protected civil liberties in Canada. Similar events took place in more than 40 communities across Canada.
Nation Wide Rallies Against Bill C-51 – Defend Our Freedom
Nazi Terror in Canada
As the Gestapo said in 1933, “As long as the police carries out the will of the leadership, it is acting legally.” Harper’s new anti-terrorist bill C-51 is setting up the secret police of Canada, carrying Canadians into the fast lane onto the road to fascism.
The Nazi system is based on the 1933 all-encompassing Gestapo secret police force that was set up with the Enabling Act throughout Germany, under the operational control of the Fuhrer. Politics and intelligence were combined just like the CSIS-RCMP amalgamation.
The Gestapo investigated treason, espionage, sabotage and criminal attacks on the Fuhrer and the Nazi party. They operated without judicial review. Citizens could not sue the state. “Protective custody” was imprisoning people without judicial proceedings. Those who opposed Nazi rule or were “suspected” of being hostile to the State were monitored and could be placed in ‘protective detention’ without legal defense. Arrests, torture, and executions of state enemies were normal ‘in the eyes of the public’.
Gestapo officers were recruited from the police forces and the civil service. They were trained to carry out radicalized and unrestrained violence. V-Men were undercover agents that infiltrated opposition individuals and groups.
Denunciations proved to be the most powerful, ruthless and effective. The persecution network was well coordinated by the Nazi party. 80% of investigations depended on denunciations by citizens, who were often motivated by personal conflicts or support for the Nazi regime. Investigators used blackmail, threats, extortion, sleep deprivation, harassment, torture and planting evidence to convict their targets.
The Nazi terror focused on political opponents, ideological dissenters, gypsies, handicapped persons, homosexuals and Jews.
This was how Hitler’s star began to rise. Harper is following this same plan. First he had his Reichstag fire [Ottawa shooting]. Then he announced his Bill C-51 [Enabling Act] to announce his CSIS secret police [Getapo]. From 1933 to 1939 Hitler rearmed Germany by putting everyone to work in the factories building bombs, tanks, planes and bullets to create Germany’s economic miracle.
Know your history, or it will repeat itself. The Germans could have stopped Hitler in 1933. Because they acquiesced to one man’s maniacal rule, 50 million died!
Terrorizing Canada With Stephen Harper
Civic Literacy and the Assault on Canadian Democracy
The Harper government’s pursuit of its odious Secret Police Act (C51) is just another chapter in the most through-going, and massive social engineering project in the history of the country. Social engineering used to be one of the favourite phrases of the right in its attack on social programs – accusing both liberal-minded politicians and meddling bureaucrats with manufacturing the welfare state. They conveniently ignored the fact that there was huge popular demand and support for activist government.
That was the so-called golden age of capitalism and it wasn’t just because of expanding government services. It was so-called because of a much broader and well-informed citizen engagement – both through social movements and as individual citizens. The level of trust in government was much higher than it is today. And absent from the picture were the factors that today dominate the political conversation: fear and economic insecurity.
Exactly how historians will describe this period in Canadian history is anyone’s guess but one approach could be to look upon the Harper era as an experiment in revealing how vulnerable democracies are to political sociopaths bold enough and ruthless enough to bend or break every rule and tradition on which democracy’s foundation rests.
It’s not just the institutions that are vulnerable though they certainly are. It’s a familiar list including Harper’s bullying of Governor General Michaelle Jean to force the proroguing of the House, his guide book on how to make parliamentary committees ineffective, the use of robo-calls and other election dirty tricks, his attempt to break the rules in appointing a Supreme Court Judge and his neutering the House of Commons question period through a deliberate strategy of refusing to answer questions – a practice that institutionalizes a contempt for Parliament that spreads outward to the general public. At a certain point it doesn’t matter who is responsible – the institution itself becomes risible and irrelevant to ordinary citizens. Which is, of course, exactly what Harper intends.
And that brings us to the other element of democratic politics – the actual citizens who are supposed to be the raw material of democracy. The whole institutional edifice theoretically rests on the foundation of the voting public. The extent to which the institutions of democracy can be assaulted and eroded with impunity is directly proportional to the level of civic literacy. The lower it is, the easier it is for malevolent autocrats like Harper to abuse his power.
In terms of civic literacy we are somewhere between Europe where it is relatively high and the US where it is frighteningly low. While the question is obviously more complicated than this, it’s not far-fetched to suggest that there is a continuum – with consumerism at one end and highly engaged citizenship at the other. We live in a hyper-consumer society – not a citizen-society characterized by the oft-repeated disclaimer “I’m not interested in politics.” The growing basis for our culture is not community or cooperation but conspicuous consumption and possessive individualism.
So long as the political elite accepted the basic premises of modern democracy and activist government, so long as the institutions they controlled functioned more or less within their defined mandates (that is, they were only occasionally abused) society could function with a minimal level of civic literacy. We could all go shopping more or less assured that the stuff of government (in substance and process) would continue undisturbed. If all political parties accepted the precepts of civil liberties, for example, it didn’t matter that much if there was a low degree of public awareness of the importance of civil liberties to our daily lives.
But when a politician suddenly their appears on the scene willing to systematically violate democratic principles as if they simply don’t apply to him then the demand for increased civic literacy is just as suddenly urgent and critical. Yet it is not something can be accomplished easily or quickly. Three sources come to mind: schools, the media and civil society organizations and activity.
Despite the best efforts of teachers and their unions over the decades civic literacy is extremely low on the curriculum totem pole in Canadian schools. Provincial governments have resisted such pressures which should hardly come as a surprise. There is a built in bias in a hierarchical, capitalist society against critical thinking – precisely because in liberal democracies the over-arching role of government is to manage capitalism with a view to maintaining it along with all its inherent inequalities. Too many critical thinkers is not helpful.
The media, of course, are largely responsible for helping put Stephen Harper in power. Ever since the Machiavellian Conrad Black bought up most of Canada’s dailies they have been used (by him and his successors) as an explicit propaganda tool for the dismantling of the post-war democratic consensus. While there are some tentative signs that they now recognize they’ve created a monster (Globe editorials criticizing the PM on a number of issues like C51) it’s a little late. Twenty-five years of telling people there is no alternative to unfettered capitalism has had a pernicious effect on both democracy and civic literacy.
That leaves voluntary (for the most part) civil society organizations. Yet, despite their objective of informing people about the myriad issues we face, here, too, the model falls short of significantly expanding the base of engaged, informed citizens. Ironically, much of the defensive politics of the left are the mirror image of Harper’s reliance on fear (of Muslims, criminals, niqabs, terrorists, environmentalists, unions, the CBC) to energize his base. We peddle more mundane but substantive fears – of losing Medicare, of climate change, of higher tuition fees, of unprotected rivers and streams and dirty oil.
If Canadians are scared silly, it’s no wonder given the mode of politics directed at them.
Regrettably there is no model from Canadian history that points us in the direction of serious commitment to civic literacy. We have to look to the Scandinavian countries. According to Canadian author Henry Milner “Swedish prime minister Olof Palme once said that he preferred to think of Sweden not as a social democracy but as a ‘study-circle democracy.’ The idea …is associated most of all with the efforts of the ABF (the Workers’ Educational Association). …The ABF offers courses in organizing groups and co-operatives, understanding media, and a broad range of contemporary issues, as well as languages, computers, art, music, and nature appreciation.” There were ten other groups doing study circles – many of them subsidized by the government. Half of all Swedish adults were involved in them
Even in Sweden the model is no longer as robust as it was when Milner wrote this assessment (2002). But even after the defeat of Social Democratic governments, no party has dared undermine Swedish social programs or run roughshod over its democracy. That’s because informed citizens are not easily manipulated by fear and their level of trust in government remains high.
Given our shamefully biased media Canadians still manage to resist Harper’s continued assault on our political sensibility. The first polls on the Secret Police Act (don’t call it by any other name) were alarming with upwards of 80% agreeing with the need for tougher anti-terror laws. But things are changing very quickly as the result of a determined fight-back by civil society groups, a phalanx of heavy-hitting experts and the NDP. A Form Research poll this week showed support for the Act was down to 38% with those disapproving at 51% – an amazing turn around. The highest levels of disapproval were amongst “…the youngest (64%), New Democrats (77%), the best educated (65%) and the non-religious (70%).”
Yet the Forum results are decidedly mixed and demonstrate how much work there is yet to be done to neutralize the fear campaign. When respondents were presented with specific parts of the bill the percentage disapproving actually decreased and supporters increased.
The polling will no doubt continue to demonstrate confusion, a desire to deal with the real problem of terrorism and condemnation of the attempt to at the idea of labelling environmentalists and First Nations as terror suspects.
Yet a huge effort will be needed to completely immunize Canadians against the next wave of Harper fear-mongering. Imagine if all these efforts and similar warning campaigns had instead been put into creating something similar to the Swedish “study circle democracy.” That’s the only lasting solution to voter manipulation and a healthy democracy. Until we realize that, progressive politics will remain crisis management and we will continue to pin our desperate hopes on coalitions and proportional representation. But without a high degree of civic literacy these institutional fixes will be ultimately dissatisfying.
Harper Wants To Sign Canadians Up For More War
By Eva Shield
Unsurprisingly, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made it clear that his administration plans to extend Canada’s presence and current involvement in conflicts overseas. As the ghost-chase against ISIS continues, Harper has now confirmed that Canada is looking at an extension and expansion of its current mission in Iraq. Also, Harper says that he hasn’t ruled out committing Canadian lives to combat in Syria either. Currently, the Canadian military is involved with training, funding, and other collective efforts that are organized to battle the Islamic State in Iraq, and that mission comes with a six-month expiry date that will end on April 7th of this year. It is looking now like the Canadian government is going to prolong that mission, as part of an international effort against ISIS in the region.
Thus far, Harper has committed roughly a dozen special forces troops to the Iraq area, along with several fighter jets, surveillance aircraft, a refueling plane, and more. Harper stated this week that his administration was prepared to request another mandate from Parliament that will afford further military combat overseas. “The current mission was authorized in the fall and that authority comes due fairly shortly. Next week, it is the government’s plan to move forward with a request from Parliament for extension and expansion of the mission. And I will obviously give more details when we do that,” said Harper.
To date, Canada has spent over $122 million on its efforts combating ISIS overseas, and this figure doesn’t include salaries and other fixed costs. The final cost, if the mission gets extended in a few weeks, is of course going to end up becoming a lot more. Canada is fighting along with forces from the United States, Australia, and others. The U.S. government has admitted in the recent past that their daily cost for the continued war with ISIS is running them upwards of $8.3 million every single day. Australia has also stated that it plans to allocate at least $500 million dollars to the joint mission. Clearly, they are going to continue throwing money at this problem, regardless if they get any results from their investment or not. It is sad to see Canada be taken down this road that the US has paved of trying to police the world, because this nation has traditionally been known for its peace-keeping missions and not for its offensive involvement overseas.
Aside from the issues of cost, and the problem of conflict being initiated when many Canadians do not support it, there still remains another issue. The West has clearly declared war against the threat of ISIS overseas, however they haven’t been entirely honest with the public about their questionable involvement with its creation, funding, and perpetuation of this group. Also, it recently came to light that Canadian authorities might be playing some role in helping to recruit and transfer people overseas who show an interest to join with this group; according to the allegations of one human-trafficker who was arrested in Turkey trying to help three young girls join ISIS. It is well-known that US occupation in Iraq and other countries overseas has only made matters extremely worse, with many innocent people being killed (to only be qualified as “collateral damage”).
Overall, their actions have even been working against them in that they inspire more people to join the rebel cause and ongoing conflict. If your family member was killed by a Chinese drone, might that make you a little upset? Of course, for many of us such a circumstance would not lead us to commit a crime against another person, but it is understandable to see how such an emotionally-driven event might play a part in causing someone to respond irrationally because of the pain that they feel. Taking into account these unpleasant and counter-productive realities, the ongoing war on terror seems rather meaningless in that it has no clear set goals, what would a victory against terror even look like? What the West has done, along with the support of other nations, it has in essence declared war against a tactic (terror) and unfortunately such a goal cannot ever be accomplished so long as the people possess free-will. Despite over a decade of warfare, thousands of lives lost, and billions of dollars spent, there still remains a dominant threat of terror in the world (according to various mainstream media outlets), and if this be the case then that seems like a pretty bad investment. It isn’t clear how more of the same is going to result in anything different.
Bill C-51: Winning The Front On Government Sponsored Terrorism
Communication Security Establishment’s Cyberwarfare Toolbox Revealed
Imam and Scholar Zafar Bangash: Staging the “Revolution”
Canadian Terror Wave a Modern-Day Gladio
Canadian Government and Media Creating a Moral Panic as ISIL Attacks Ottawa
CSIS Agent Helped British Girls Join ISIS in Syria