Swans Commentary » swans.com February 14, 2005  



Canadian "Alternative" Media As Fifth Column?


by Dave Patterson





[Author's Note: For American or other readers not familiar with things Canadian, "Bay St." is the financial district in Toronto, akin perhaps to Wall St in New York. In this area are the head offices of the major banks, investment and law firms and corporations of Canada, and all decisions of any importance to the running of Canada are made in Bay St. boardrooms and offices high over downtown Toronto, not in Ottawa where the House of Commons is. You aren't taught this in high school civics. Tom d'Aquino is the head of the CCCE, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (formerly the Business Council on National Issues), the Canadian version of the US Business Roundtable, the powerful lobby group for business interests. Tom is frequently referred to (in places other than the Canadian corporate media) as the de facto Prime Minister of Canada. The Fraser and C.D. Howe Institutes are Canadian "think tanks," insofar as you can call any of this right wing stuff "thought," along the lines of the American Enterprise Institute or Heritage Foundation in the US. Jack Layton is the leader of the Canadian New Democratic Party, the "socialists" as the right wingers refer to them, although they are pretty middle-of-road anymore -- the perennial 3rd - or lately, with the rise of the Quebec nationalist party, 4th -- voice in the Canadian House of Commons. Sir John A MacDonald, Canada's first Prime Minister, many think still the greatest; John Diefenbaker, PM from 1957-1963, very disliked by President John Kennedy for his refusal to allow nuclear missiles into Canada; Brian Mulroney, PM who negotiated and signed the Free Trade Agreement, great buddy/poodle of Ronald Reagan and the Bush family, will go down in history (assuming We the People eventually win this war with the corps and thus have some say in the writing of the "true" history books) as the Benedict Arnold of Canada. David Orchard, Maude Barlow, David Suzuki, Linda McQuaig, Mel Hurtig and Connie Fogal are well-known Canadian "progressives" -- all outspoken against corporate government in Canada and around the world.]


(Swans - February 14, 2005)  An open letter to anyone who says they speak for, or provide a forum for, "progressives" in Canada (that is to say, those whose allegiance lies somewhere besides the "PC"-Lib Tweedledee-dum corporate governments we have been living under for the last 20 years in this country):

Well, we've recently had ANOTHER disastrous election in Canada (as defined by a renewed "mandate" for corporate government with the support of maybe 20% of Canadians...) -- that's five in the last 20 years just federally -- and what are you all doing, what are you recommending, to try and improve our chances in the next election, which is going to be coming up fairly quickly, probably within a year, almost certainly no more than two?

Diddly-squat, as far as I can see -- which makes me question your actual commitment to change in this country, which is NOT going to happen spontaneously like some act of god or because the Bay St Boys wake up some morning after a Scrooge experience of some sort, realize the error of their ways and give us our country back. We the People will get control of our country when we TAKE control of it -- and we will not EVER do so by sitting around between elections twiddling our thumbs or whatever and hoping for something better the next time by doing the same stuff we did last year, and the election before that, and the election before that, etc and etc. (I hardly need point out that is one workable definition of "being out of touch with reality" to put it politely -- continually doing the same thing while hoping for a different outcome...)

If I was a fifth columnist of some sort in Canada, working for Tom d'Aquino and the CCCE and the Bay St bankers etc, what you folks are doing is about exactly what I would want done -- don't actually suppress anything -- the mainstream media is tightly controlled, but in a "democracy" we must not be seen actively shutting people up too much -- so give the people who are unhappy about things, who have some understanding of what is going on, a few places to bitch to one another (this is also helpful in identifying those the corps need to be most worried about, in case roundup day ever comes as well), but most importantly make sure they don't organize in any way that might actually threaten us in the next election. Nobody even TALKS about organising effectively here -- for some reason I had the metaphor of a bunch of bad guys that we want to get rid of living on the moon -- and through various wiles they've got us all talking about the best kind of submarine to build -- or whether or not we even need a submarine -- if we just wish and hope hard enough, maybe the bad guys will go away -- and look at this interesting article on bad guys in Antarctica dear! hahahaha -- I'd be a great fifth columnist!

Unfortunately, I actually care about Canada and the dream this country once represented, and my dream is to get rid of the bad guys here, and get this country back on track to what it could and should be, for We the People -- and not only for Canada, but for other countries around the world who are not as advanced as we once were -- we could and should be a leader for such places -- but first we have to get our own boat back in our own hands. And I know that dreaming and complaining is not going to do the trick -- it's going to take a lot of work and effort and commitment and time from a lot of people -- and I do not see that effort happening, and I do not see anyone AT ALL pushing for this work to get underway. Which makes me wonder...

What we need to do if we ever want to dethrone the corporate elite who are currently ruling our country in their best interests and quite contrary to the best interests of We the People will not be easy -- indeed, it may well be impossible, the Titanic may already be fatally holed and we just don't realise it, although I am not ready to give up just yet -- but one thing is for sure -- as they say, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and that first step must be taken if we are to have any hope of completing the journey -- and that first step is in the direction of working together to get rid of the bad guys -- not EVER in history has a well-organised power been brought to its knees by a herd of small, relatively weak and unorganised bands acting independently of one another, even competing with one another for followers and scarce resources -- an organised and concerted effort is the only way. And if I might add my own caveat to that -- that first step must be taken while there is still enough life left in the old body to complete the journey. We are getting perilously close to fascism in this country, as our "leaders" push for ever closer alliance to the point of complete subservience with the great fascist power to the south of us, at which time it may well be too late to even start let alone finish the journey we need -- it is far, far easier to sink/be thrust into barbarism through apathy ("Politics is so boring!") or stupidity ("Oh pshaw that could never happen here!") or complacence ("What're ya talkin' about? We're doin' fine!") than to crawl back out of the barbarous pit. Ask the people, for instance, who lived in Hitler's Germany -- sad we should forget that so quickly, even as we celebrate from the other side the people who put an end to that horror. The Germans in the 1930s never thought such a thing could happen either.

But what have "We the People" -- the Canadian "left" or "progressives" -- been doing in the seven months now since the last election, when every day is precious with the minority government open to falling any time, to try and see that after the next election we have something to cheer about, some sign of progress on this journey? Nothing! Same old same old!!! -- writing thoughtful little articles about what we might like to see, or little outraged commentaries on the latest proposed idiocy or atrocity "they" are getting up to, always speaking to the converted, as it were, through emags or discussion lists of like-minded people, sharing our little smug superiorities -- same as last year, and the year before, and the year before. And next year, or the year after, when the next election rolls around -- once again we'll field a whole herd of disorganized, unprepared, underfunded, largely unknown small groups saying why we should not vote for Party A or Party B -- but who have nothing at all to offer the Canadian voter as a coordinated, widespread viable option with a solid vision to vote for instead (it's become very obvious over the last couple of decades that Canadians don't put much store in fringe parties that spring up like daisies around election time, and fade into the woodwork between elections, regardless of how good their ideas might be to the thinking observer of things here) -- so Canadian voters will once again either stay home in disgust or despair or, if sufficiently scared of something like current opposition leader Stephen Harper becoming governor of the 51st American US-North state, vote for the lesser of evils available to them. What a way to be governed -- the lesser of evils -- wouldn't it be a great change to have a government most of us actually liked????

And once again the corps -- very well organised, always, with their political strategies continually revised and improved (think for instance the Fraser and C.D. Howe Institutes in Canada) and bags of money and media control to push those strategies daily on the Canadian people -- will win, and We the People will lose. Once again. We don't have many strikes left in this old ball game before it's called for lack of opposition and/or hope. When they come for the good Rev Neimuller (Canadian version), and he calls for help -- there won't be anyone left to help anymore -- getting pretty thin on the ground already -- when was the last time Jack Layton mentioned PR or getting control of our financial system away from the predatory corporate bankers -- things absolutely crucial to retaking our country?

This gets so frustrating, to see it year after year after year, election after election after election -- doesn't anybody out there actually CARE about this country enough to DO something to save it? Something more than sitting in front of the computer writing clever little diatribes about this or that thing that the corps are getting up to?

Why oh why can't all the Canadians who want to create a decent country here start working TOGETHER to achieve that goal -- which, I suspect, would be very achievable if we could just do this working together thing for awhile to chase that vision, that dream, in a serious fashion?? It seems that most Canadians are not very enamored with the New World Order cum Corporate Globalisation as promoted in Canada by the media and the Frasers and the financial lobby groups and their political voices, the Libs or the New Republicans (I will not call them any sort of Conservative Party -- that once-honorable title belongs to people ranging from MacDonald to Diefenbaker to Stanfield, any of whom would be happy, I have little doubt, to shoot traitors like Mulroney and Harper and the rest or at least banish them south where they belong) -- and would jump to any kind of organised, truly Pro-Canada and Canadians party -- but they have shown over and over again that they will not jump in any useful numbers to the ragtag bunch of fringe options they hear bits and pieces of during the election campaigns dominated by the Bay St parties (and their media of course gatekeeping the info Canadians get) -- they would have to see a coordinated opposition in place for a long period of time before the election, learn to know and trust the people in that movement, and learn about the policies it would put before them -- it would take quite a long time, because obviously the mainstream media will NOT give such a movement any publicity at all, so we would have to work through slower channels, in communities all around the country. Which means starting NOW! -- not when the election is called.

And that is what all you people should be doing -- telling your readers, the progressives, to GET ORGANISING! -- and helping them do this, in villages and towns and cities all across Canada, get information available that exposes the Bay St globalists, exposes their lies and hidden agendas, talks about the things they do NOT talk about that we SHOULD be talking about -- have small meetings in kitchens or church basements, talk to people, explain to them why voting for either the Libs or Harper is a BAD idea, and start to build some local support for independent alternatives -- talk about this, discuss how having a whole lot of independents in the House of Commons could work FOR Canadians -- it couldn't be much worse, with the Libs and Harper people working AGAINST Canadians and for the corps. This kind of thing takes time -- Canadians have been brainwashed for a long time NOT to think about some things, and not to question many other things -- but I think now they are seeing a lot of discrepancies in what they have been trained to believe and the reality they are living, and are ready for some alternative views -- but it takes time to discard long-held beliefs -- FAR more time than the few weeks of an election campaign.

You and others like you should be providing all kinds of information for this kind of process, information people could copy and print to distribute -- well-sourced info as well as opinion -- people are not stupid, they just need to be exposed to new ideas and given time to think about them and talk about them with others, rather than expected to change their beliefs overnight in the few weeks of a frantic election campaign, when their BS detection meters are turned quite high to begin with. The people get the corporate propaganda every day from multiple sources -- that has to be counteracted. People hear a thousand times a year about how wonderful "free trade" is, in many diverse ways -- if they only hear once a year that there might be problems with "free trade" -- there's no question which "meme" is going to dominate their thinking. To counteract that process takes time.

We need to be out there, now and every day, in every community -- NOT preaching to the converted on email lists and reading friendly websites, but talking to people who are not that happy with the current state of affairs, but don't use the internet for alternative info, and don't have any regular sources of alternative info -- if we want to change things in Canada, we have to be that alternative source of info -- hundreds and then thousands of us, all across the country, every day, every day doing some little thing to reach out to people, to bring them aboard this journey for a truly better, truly free Canada.

Instead of telling them how bad things are today -- we need to have a fully prepared alternative future that we present to them -- a believable scenario -- a scenario that they will all help to create and realise through their own rejection of what has gone before, and their participation in the creation of the new.

What we need to be ready to offer in the next election is a loose coalition of Independents, whose only uniting principle is that they do NOT take orders from Bay St or any of the corporate lobby groups -- but are committed to truly representing the wishes of the people in their riding who vote for them, wishes they have learned over a long period of time and discussion with the people in the riding -- as the organising process I talked about above proceeds, natural candidates will emerge, people without a lot of money, but who could and would do a good job of representing We the People, instead of the corps. But a coalition informed by a wide-ranging Independent organisation, so that they were promoting national policies that most Canadians could also support -- such things would have to come from the people in the riding, gathering together under a LOOSE national organisation -- but not an organisation controlled from the top down, but one truly controlled from the bottom up. It could be done - but not overnight, which is why this lack of activity during this relatively short time we have to organize is so frustrating -- as I said at the first -- does anyone REALLY want to get rid of corporate government, or not????? Because if you do -- you have to work at it. They are NOT going to give it to you. Santa Claus is NOT alive and well and living in Bay St.

If people like David Orchard and Maude Barlow, David Suzuki and Linda McQuaig, Mel Hurtig and Connie Fogal, and many, many others -- with websites like Canadian Dimension and Vive le Canada and Rabble and Straightgoods and others as an information portal, a rallying place, a place where ideas for organising could be shared and refined -- could start working together on something, under some common banner, with the aim of influencing policy the only way it can be influenced in this country -- by having enough non-corporate-controlled people elected to the Canadian House of Commons to MAKE policy -- then Canadians might well be persuaded to get behind such a coordinated effort -- and THEN we would have a chance to save the country.

(The old excuse of "Oh, we're just neutral -- we present info and the people make their choice" -- just doesn't cut it these days -- the "people" have been brainwashed for decades by the constant influx of the corporate media propaganda, and as we have been seeing, have NOT been making good choices, as least from the perspective of those of us who seriously want to get rid of corporate government in this country -- they need to hear long and loudly from committed, credible people about why the corporate parties are NOT good choices, and why Independents WOULD be good choices, and that the independents have the support of well-known, knowledgeable people. Anything else, in this time of crisis, is just a copout).

I do not suggest all of these people would have to become politicians, although it would be helpful if a number of them would run -- but they need to come together under a common anti-corporate-government banner, show support for those who DO show the courage and commitment to become non-corporate-controlled politicians striving for a New Canada -- and use the trust Canadians have in them to draw votes for the movement, whatever it is -- but one, united movement, with the primary objective of replacing Canadian Corporate Government with a government of, by and for -- and answerable to much more so than the current corporate governments ever are or will be -- We the People -- and with the power of their voices as a sort of guarantee that the new people's representatives WILL be held accountable, by these people who supported them. The ONLY common policy we need to support is TRUE democracy -- no more of these 20% "majority mandates" for five years -- but for any and all issues, the representatives of We the People, when they get to Ottawa, do what We the People -- in our many ridings -- TELL them to do! (What a radical concept, eh? Representatives speaking FOR the people who elected them, instead of for the corps who financed their "party"?) -- for myself, I would trust We the People to do the right thing FAR more than I trust the corporate government, whose primary loyalty is to THEIR bank accounts, and little else.

Should such a wild radical dream of replacing corporate government in Canada with a government truly of, by and for We the People ever actually happen, it would not be the end of the thousand-mile journey at all, but only the first step -- even if such a gathering were ever able to form, and fight an election, and win an election -- we would still face massive opposition from the Bay St Boys & Bankers who have run the country for so long, and the corporate media they control -- and very probably from the American Imperialists, who would, I expect, start treating us very much like they treat Cuba now, if not worse (Iraq) considering how much they depend on our resources (especially oil) -- but that would be Chapter 2 of the struggle.

But if a whole lot of people don't start working together real soon, we won't ever have to worry about Chapter 2 -- Chapter 1 will never be written. And the dream for a peaceful, prosperous world for all people -- or at least that part of it once known as Canada -- will indeed end, not with a bang but a whimper. So sad.

Good luck Canada -- but more important -- if you really want to save our country -- get the hell to work.

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Internal Resources

Patterns which Connect on Swans

Activism under the Radar Screen on Swans


About the Author

Dave Patterson is a Canadian writer and teacher currently living and working in Thailand.



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URL for this work: http://www.swans.com/library/art11/dpatt01.html
Published February 14, 2005