Opinion by Darren Clarke, September 21, 2021
Another Canadian election come and gone and for all the contentiousness of the past month we end up in pretty much the same spot- a Liberal minority government. In an election where Prime Minister Trudeau maintained, “Canadians have to decide,” a definitive governing party, we once again hedged our bets. This leaves us with the always tenuous minority government setup, akin to a game of chicken with the added twist of having a third car in the mix. Thus increasing the chances that somebody isn’t going to swerve at the last second, a crash will happen and another election will be called.
On the surface then there doesn’t appear much to be happy about- A fragile government setup following an election campaign that indicated the depths of the corruption of our news sources, a corresponding diminishing of good faith public discourse and increasingly rigid regional voting bases.
But there is good news. A majority of Canadians engaged in meaningful exploration of what was at stake in this election and participated in genuine political discussion with their friends and family on the topics at hand. A majority of Canadians voted to put the best interests of average Canadians ahead of the interests of transnational corporations. And most remarkably, a majority of Canadians, despite being flooded with calculated misinformation and propaganda designed to steer us to a Conservative government- declined the invitation. Canadians declined to elect a party that threatened so much of what makes Canada exceptional. So, let’s start there- with Canadians withstanding the influence of a corrupted media.
Good News– Seeing the Con in the Conservative Media Sources
Damn I’m impressed with Canada this morning. Canadians faced an unprecedented amount of propaganda this election. Via print media, via traditional TV sources, via right-wing funded, hate mongering social media sources. Imagine the United States if its’ only sources of information were a slightly gentler version of Fox News and then a whole whack of other regular Fox News types. Imagine the Republicans losing an election in that context. That’s what happened here.
The last two weeks of the Federal election was an onslaught of pro-Conservative, anti-Liberal, propaganda looking to skew Canadians perspectives as the international corporate interests that run the Conservative party got more and more nervous they might not get access to pillaging Canada for the next term. So, for example, the Globe and Mail, the National Post, the Toronto Sun, every damned news source, trotted out Jody Wilson-Raybould’s tired, non-scandal, expressed via her vanity project, a book timed for a week before the election. In the last two weeks of the election the desperate attempts by Canadian media to smear the Liberal campaign made it almost impossible to differentiate transparently partisan, Conservative funded, bonkers outlets like Rebel News and Ontario Proud/Canada Proud from traditional news sources like the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and Global TV.
Consider that, on the day before the election Global TV and many of its’ affiliates (i.e. the Food Network), aired a, “mini documentary,” on Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole.
Now, this was a documentary in much the same way a donut is a carrot but the pretence was there. On the day before the election a major Canadian network floated out a puff piece, an exercise in PR, as if it was an actual documentary.
This is unprecedented- a supposedly independent news station transparently doling out exercises in propoganda for a specific party. This is Vladimir Putin scoring 10 goals in a hockey exhibition kind of stuff and it shows just how close we are to a North American equivalent to Russia’s rule by a despotic government on behalf of the interests of oligarchs.
Again though, enough Canadians, despite and absence of objective news and an abundance of pro-Conservative partisan news, saw the truth.
Take a moment Canada to savour this small victory for the truth over propaganda in Canada. We may have barely passed but most countries fail this test. Consider even in the tight Democrat victory in the last U.S. election Americans at least had significant counterpoints for right wing propaganda. Canadians did not have this luxury. What we were left with was a vastly diminished CBC.
The Bad News- The Problem Hasn’t Gone Away
Yes, enough Canadians saw the truth to avoid having the Conservatives gut Canada but it the victory was a slight one. That onslaught of misinformation downplaying the Liberal governments abundant successes, particularly during the pandemic, while 24/7 shouting real and imagined Liberal shortcomings from the rooftops, it did have an impact.
You can further see the impact of biased media sources in how emboldened the fringes of our society have become- the angry, the ignorant, the rock throwing, aspects of our society. The racists, the base, the brutal. They are being emboldened by a disingenuous, lopsided, narrative created by corrupted media. In the wake of this we are gradually struggling to talk with, and listen to, each other,.
Let’s talk about why Canada is having to deal with a largely corrupted media. In simplest terms it’s because corporations, domestic and international, have one mandate- to always increase profit. That’s it, that all. In a world of finite resources the desire for infinite profit isn’t just a dangerous mandate, it’s a self-destructive one. The logical flaw in the machine though is very much talking to the rich man about poetry- they don’t care. They’ve fully invested in a full gallop and provide no more thought to the consequences of their narrow viewpoint than lemmings approaching a cliff.
Bottom line is Canada has stuff to increase corporations profits (a lot) and the Conservative party of Canada, provincially and federally, offers easy access to said stuff without those corporations having worry about things like equitable distribution of profits, environmental regulations, employee rights. Canada’s resources, Canada’s people and institutions (particularly Universal Healthcare) offer massive profit making opportunities for predatory businesses. Those businesses have infiltrated our news sources, most pointedly, Canada’s print media, to the point they are overwhelmingly in control of the messaging there.
Let’s look quickly at Postmedia to understand the threat here.
Postmedia, the company that owns outlets like The Toronto Sun, The National Post, The Toronto Star, and scores of local newspapers across the country is owned by American hedge funds. You know hedge funds right? They were a significant contributor to the 2007-08 financial crisis in America. In the wake of the financial crisis regulations were created to try and prevent the kind of reckless behaviour that drove the collapse from happening again. Regulations that were largely undone when Donald Trump’s took power in 2016. I mention this, first to show how corrupt governments enable corrupt businesses (and vice versa) and to illustrate how the Trump government’s actions mirror what a hedge fund seeks in a ruling party- a willingness to allow business to prey upon the countries resources and people, to allow access for pillaging the country with little to no expectation to giving anything of value back to the population at large in return.
Hedge funds, right wing governments, crime syndicates- it’s the exact same blueprint.
In Canada’s case hedge funds and other financial pirates have recognized that a significant tool to achieving a takeover is in controlling political messaging via owning the media. The scary thing is while the hostile takeover of Canadian media has yet to lead to a recent Federal election victory it has been very effective in provincial elections across Canada. The even scarier thing is that the lack of objective media problem only accelerated in this latest election with Postmedia’s latest acquisition, The Toronto Star, proving itself to be another compromised news source.
Another one bites the dust.
It’s no coincidence that a major Conservative desire is to defund Canada’s public broadcaster, the CBC, once it attains power at the federal level.
Corporate interests will continue to work hard to ensure Canadians do not get important information about the world around them, that when we do it is in the form most advantageous to their interests, and most especially, to try and make it so their news sources are the only ones people will listen to. And they’re winning here. Large.
Good News- Significant Parts of Canada Are Open to Political Change
The political health of a nation can often be best measured by how open it is to political discourse and voter’s flexibility in terms of who they support. Parties change, countries change, realities change so it’s important people should be open to changing party affiliation. In large swaths of Canada we can see people willing to consider the current sensibilities/platforms of political parties and vote for whoever matches their own priorities.
People becoming rigidly attached to a party despite changes to platforms or behaviours while in power allows for electorates to be taken advantage of. The relationship between a voter and a political party, like any healthy relationship really, should always be conditional.
Bad News– Alberta is Bonkers
While many parts of Canada may have healthy, conditional, party affiliations- Alberta does not. Indeed, Alberta’s unconditional love for the Conservative party has lead to an unhealthy, abusive, relationship.
That unhealthy relationship between Albertans and its’ Conservative leaders has further created confused and angry fallout being inflicted on the nation at large.
Consider that the Conservatives owned Alberta last night. Owned it. Indicating again, that in terms of being open to political discourse, a free exchange of ideas and being flexible to altering their support in the wake of it- Alberta is a cult.
The Conservatives owned Alberta in the wake of their Conservative Premier Jason Kenney having to declare a Covid State of Emergency just days before the Federal election. Consider every Conservative Premier has been dead quiet in the run-up to the election, delaying acting on even important things like anti-vaccine type protesting outside of hospitals. Do you know how badly broken Alberta’s health system had to be in order for Kenney to make this announcement?
And make no mistake the issue here was created by Kenney, once again ignoring experts and fully opening up the province just a few months before. The incompetence, the complete disregard for the health and welfare of the average person doesn’t stop there.
The Kenney government has failed Alberta economically in its’ unwillingness to adjust to a world trying to ween itself off of fossil fuels. It has failed Albertans by its profound unwillingness to try and create economic opportunities for its’ constituents outside something based firmly in fossil fuels. It has failed Albertans and Canadians environmentally by failing to regulate its industries properly in general but especially during the pandemic where it removed many regulations straight away. It has failed healthcare workers and the best interests of Albertans by looking to cut nurses salaries this summer in order to save money. Think about that- A year and a half into a pandemic and they wanted to cut nurses salaries and cut thousand of jobs in the healthcare field.
Alberta has always been a bit bonkers. Always a bit inclined to being manipulated by unexplored devotions like low taxes. Alberta is almost a U.S. state stereotype in their knee jerk dismissal of the importance of tax revenue. But too often low tax revenue lowers the quality of public services available and/or doesn’t provide important services at all. The vacuum created in the wake of that dynamic provides an opportunity for predatory private businesses to take a bigger chunk of change out of your wallet.
It’s a shell game, a simple, slowly played out one but one too many Albertans keep falling for.
That the Conservative party in Alberta is concerned about people who own oil companies and absolutely nobody else is abundantly clear. That this model is essentially the Conservative model across Canada both federally and provincially- Profit before people is likewise obvious. Making Alberta’s devotion to the party a kind of tragic form of Stockholm syndrome.
The concern here has to be two-fold, 1) Alberta will continue to refuse to enter into honest discourse with the rest of the country, continuing to try and inflate the idea of Western Alienation to cover their abject unwillingness to honestly converse with fellow Canadians, 2) What’s happening in Alberta will happen elsewhere.
In Conclusion– The Sort of Good Guys, Kind of Won
Hey, the Liberals aren’t perfect. They can be lethargic and unimaginative but they have proven that in tough times they will look out for vulnerable Canadians. They have show they are not fully in the pocket of short sighted, corporate, interests. The Liberals have shown an awareness for the challenges in the media and the need for change.
We, Canadians, we also aren’t perfect. We can be lethargic and unimaginative but we have proven that in tough times we will look out for vulnerable Canadians.
There’s a lot to be said of that. It wasn’t the majority win we might have hoped for but given how well financed and coordinated the forces warring against a kinder, gentler, Canada were, we have a lot to be proud of this morning.
And a lot to work on tomorrow and the days ahead.