I leave Canada with mixed emotions. Hopeful for the defeat of Mr. Harper’s jackboot politics and deeply conscious of how difficult it will be for any real change to occur, no matter who or how he is replaced. The failure of the Obama government is not far away. Remember Obama’s motto, ‘The Change We Need’.
So many people were ecstatic about this possibility. The environmentalists thought America would made a change towards a less toxic economy. More coal and more tars sands oil is the change we got. Social Justice supporters thought Guantanamo would end and torture has continued. National Health Care has turned into big pharma/big insurance version of the bank bail that benefits no one but the same corporations that benefit from the private systems.
North of the border, we have the only government in the history of the Commonwealth to be found in contempt of Parliament (i.e. the Canadian people) for lying repeatedly over a wide range of issues. The response of Mr. Harper is ‘this isn’t true’. This is the politics of the schoolyard, not nations.
Corporate control of the media is deeper and stronger than it was in the days of the surprise win by Bob Rae and the Ontario NDP. Does anyone remember how in the midst of the deepest recession Canada has suffered in 30 years, Prime Minister Mulroney advised Japanese investors, publicly not to invest in Ontario because of the NDP government. If you don’t remember, you can bet Jack Layton does.
To get some small idea of how the corporate hegemony running the T.V., Radio and Print media controls the message locally (Ottawa), Noam Chomsky and Chris Hedges recently accepted invitations to speak here. (Hedges on Thursday evening at the Ottawa Writers Festival.) These two men represent the two most important voices of dissent America has. Chomsky at 82 remains the most quoted American in the world. Hedges is the former mid-east Bureau Chief for the New York Times and his books, The Empire of Illusion and The Death of the Liberal Class are North American and World best sellers.
In Thursdays speech, he didn’t sugar coat the message. Government for the people by the people no longer exists in the United States. It’s government for the corporations by the corporations. The two examples that he gave which stick most strongly in my mind were suppression of the public sector employees in Wisconsin back to 19th century bargaining conditions and the Bank bail-out where constituents a 100 to one asked their representatives to vote against it…and the President, Senate and Congress voted for it.
The bail-out accomplish nothing more but guarantee the next American bank crash is inevitable, because nothing much has changed. It’s business as usual and ordinary people will suffer more in the next crash and the bankers will be better protected because of it, because they have used bail-out funds to increase their savings against the next rainy day, not invest in the country.
As expected, the evening at the Writers Festival was electric. Mr. Hedges extraordinary. He was one of the very, very few public figures in America to say ‘no’ to the invasion of Iraq. For this he was fired by the Times. Yet, there were no interviews, no reports on either visit by the T.V. outlets, the radio or the Ottawa print media of these two brave and distinguished gentlemen. Not surprisingly, 99.9 per cent of Ottawas were unaware of the speeches by either Chomsky or Hedges.
There is always hope as long as single person stands up against the tyrannies of our time, not the least of which is the tyranny of despair – that was his final message. And there are many reasons to hope, the internet is one of them. If on May 2nd Mr. Harper fails to get 40 per cent of the vote and if Mr. Layton does much better than anyone expected, it will be largely due to the Internet. It is there you can find the cry for change expressed clearly and strongly.
Just as the revolutions in North Africa have been made possible by the internet, the 2011 election will be remembered as the first Canadian election where ordinary people found a way to circumvent the corporate messaging from the paid media.
On May 2nd, Good luck Canada….Love You.