Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Contempt AND Control: two Cons for the price of one

The transformation of Canada into a banana republic continues apace. The Canadian Wheat Board? Gone.

John Doyle on reformaTory MPty suits attacking the CBC:
In 2008, both the minority Conservative government and the Conservative Party itself were hell-bent on introducing what was essentially a morals clause to the regulations for funding Canadian film and television. A portion of an omnibus bill amending the Income Tax Act sought to allow the Heritage Minister to withdraw tax credits from productions determined to be “contrary to public policy.” The clause was so broad it meant TV and film productions deemed morally offensive by a government ministry could have their tax credits reversed. [...]

This government’s focus of attack on the CBC is bizarre enough as it is. For a start, it follows the corporate agenda of Quebecor, a competitor to the CBC. It’s also a witch hunt that in the case of Brent Rathgeber and Sun News Network is priggishly focused on what CBC personalities earn and what CBC spends on cars, hotels and liquor. It seems as plain as a poke in your eye that the CBC is being bludgeoned because the Conservative Party finds its reporting suspect, but the angle of attack is a ugly prurience about salaries and perks.

The justification for the attacks and the demand for information is that CBC is taxpayer-funded. However, the real reason seems to be that CBC is perceived as not reflecting small “c” conservative values. A lot of what emanates from the arts in Canada does not reflect those values, and those artists and institutions receive taxpayer money. Remember that. Think about who’s next on the attack list. That morals clause in the 2008 bill may have died, but it’s a fair bet the urge to assert such control over government-funded arts has not.
The Con bullies claim they're representing the dozens of people who have signed their petition - which has a scant 4000 signatures - yet disparaged the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who expressed their opposition to Stevie Spiteful's continued prorogation of Parliament.

Lawrence Martin deconstructs his Politburo tactics.
The blending of sport and the military, with the government as the marching band, is part of the new nationalism the Conservatives are trying to instill. It is another example of how the state, under Stephen Harper’s governance, is becoming all-intrusive.

Conservatism, as defined by Ronald Reagan, was about getting government off the backs of the people. Conservatism, as practised by team Harper, is more akin to an Orwellian opposite. State controls are now at a highpoint in our modern history. There is every indication they will extend further.

The propaganda machine has become mammoth and unrelenting. The parliamentary newspaper The Hill Times recently found there are now no fewer than 1,500 communications staffers on the governing payroll. In the days of the King and St. Laurent governments, there were hardly any. In recent decades, the numbers shot up, but Mr. Harper is outdoing all others, a primary example being his institution and maintenance of a master control system wherein virtually every government communication is filtered through central command.

In his minority governments, the rationale was that tight controls were necessary for survival. With a majority, it was thought that the controls that brought on parliamentary shutdowns and contempt of Parliament rulings would ease up. Those who thought that way didn’t know Stephen Harper.

In recent weeks, the government has invoked closure or time limits on debate at a record-breaking clip. [...]

On the propaganda ledger, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney put on a show in committee last week. In what may have been a first, his spinners set up a billboard behind him replete with bright Conservative blue colours and flags. Everything except a marching band.

In the message-massaging department, news has arrived that the government is imposing new communications controls on the RCMP. The same is being done with the Defence Department. Secrecy surrounds the government’s plans to spend a whopping $477-million on a U.S. military satellite.

State surveillance, the rationale being security, is being taken to new levels. The Conservatives are bringing in legislation that will compel Internet service-providers to disclose customer information. A Canada-U.S. agreement is on the way that will contain an entry-exit system that will track everyone.

In Parliament, more and more ministers are showing up for Question Period with prewritten answers. If the scripted stuff is far afield of the questions posed, it doesn’t matter. In our shining democracy, they use it anyway.

Research that contradicts the government line is discarded. Civil liberties fade, new jails proliferate. Those who speak out better watch out. When the NDP’s Megan Leslie stated an opposing view on the Keystone XL Pipeline, she was accused by the government of treachery.

The Rovian tactics are deliberate and classic; they've been used successfully by centuries of tyrants who foster a climate of division: those who get the boot in the face and those who cheer it on. Guess where Stevie's acolytes and sycophants are found.
Dan Gardner nails it.
[...]why do the Conservatives continue to act like the elbows-up, stick-swinging, trash-talking goons who bullied their way through five years of minority government?

Public safety minister Vic Toews has repeatedly accused those who oppose the government's omnibus crime bill of being "pro-crime." Environment minister Peter Kent said NDP MPs who went to the United States to voice opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline had behaved "treacherously." Dean Del Mastro, parliamentary secretary to the minister of heritage, publicly suggested Liberal MP Justin Trudeau isn't a good Catholic and shouldn't be invited to speak at Catholic schools.[...]

Harper is more than a political obsessive. He's a passionate obsessive. Almost frighteningly so.

As Conservative strategist Rod Love told author Lawrence Martin, Harper and other Reformers seethed - and rightly so - at the way the Chrétien-era Liberals framed them as the lunatic fringe. "Others got over it," Love observes in Martin's book Harperland.

"Harper? It was just burned in his psyche. So when he came to power it was payback time. This wasn't just about going after someone in the Commons in the day, then going out for a beer at night. This was about destruction."

The same description surfaces over and over. Stephen Harper doesn't want to beat the other side; he wants to destroy them. They're not opponents; they're the enemy. As for the depth of his ideological feelings, the prime minister's colleagues use the word "hatred" to describe his antipathy to liberalism.

When politics is everything, when opponents are enemies, when there's hatred in your belly, certain things follow. Ruthlessness, for one. Personal attacks. A refusal to accept the legitimacy of different views and to work with those who hold them.

Stephen Harper is only one man, of course, but unlike every Liberal prime minister his dominance of his party is total. He effectively built it from the ground up. It is his party. And its personality mirrors that of its creator and master.

The Conservatives did not behave the way they did in the past because they had a minority of the seats in the House of Commons. They behaved that way because they are the party of Stephen Harper. They still are. And so they still behave that way.
David Frum wrote about the organisational psychosis that has collectively seized Republicans in the US. Read it and reflect upon the eerie ressemblance with the lock-step mind-set talking points that supporters of Stevie's Contempt Party use to defend their tenuous grasp on reality.


Beijing York said...

It hasn't even been one year yet since the last election. We have one hell of a ride ahead of us.

Anonymous said...

The "organizational psychosis that has collectively seized Republicans in the US" is <A HREF="http://driftglass.blogspot.com/2011/11/revisionism-never-sleeps.html>hardly anything new</A>, pious handwringing or backpedalling by Mr. Frum and others notwithstanding.

deBeauxOs said...

You have to use lower case letters in the comments when you insert code, I think.

Link from above.

Dr.Dawg said...

Missed the close-quote after the URL.

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