Monday, February 2, 2015

UPDATE-1: "Anti-Terror": The art of misdirection and manufacturing consent

The Globe & Mail released a poll a few days ago titled "Stephen Harper's Canada: Better, worse or unchanged?". I really wish I had taken a screenshot of the results of this poll as they were Friday. Suffice to say they were dismal for Stephen Harper with the majority of the respondents answering "worse" for every question. As the poll was conducted through Google docs there are no previous versions or caches of how it appeared prior to today however there is internet conversation that references the results such as on Reddit. Reading these conversations you can get a clear impression of what the results said and they certainly were not in favour of "Stephen Harper's Canada", until today that is.

While on Friday and throughout the weekend the poll had a measly 5% or a few thousand responses under every category for 'improved' and 30000-40000 responses for "worse" now today the poll has seen a rapid jump up and beyond 'worse' in favour of 'improved'. In fact the number of respondents choosing "improved" closely matches the jump in respondents active today. Even the category of "the government's relations with first nations" has a majority of responses indicating "improved" as of today. Highly suspect.

It's very strange isn't it? Either Harper supporters don't read the Globe & Mail on Fridays or on the weekend or a poll titled 'How do you feel about Stephen Harper's Canada?' isn't a true poll at all but rather a piece of propaganda used to manufacture consent. Perhaps it should more accurately be titled "Here's how you should feel about living in Stephen Harper's Canada".

Here is a little secret of mine, a lesson in social manipulation for you all. Often when I write a controversial post, something that I really feel people who agree with me will be reluctant to admit as they may feel alone in their support, I will encourage a friend or known reader to go and cast the first vote on the only aggregator this blog disseminates through: I do this not because I care about popularity or the number of votes I get (though I am happy to see when my work is well received), no, rather I do it so that other people know that it's "ok" to agree, so that those who do agree do not feel alone in their agreement. The feeling of acceptance amongst people is vital to having your message, or in the case of the government: your agenda, resonate.

Polls are powerful tools of propaganda which is why I don't put any stock in them. The polls on my own blog exist for no other reason than for me to get a reading on how those reading my blog think, and so that thinking can be shared with other readers. It's a form of anonymous feedback, and in this sense they can be very useful. Polls however can be used not just to gather information, but to plant information and influence decision making or control dissent.

It should be no surprise the Globe & Mail has this poll running now to demonstrate "support" for the Harper government as they try and convince the Canadian public that these new fascist "anti-terror" laws are in their best interest. I have thus far only read one opinion piece questioning the validity and need of the laws themselves and going as far as to say we are creating a secret police force. We are, and this fact should be the main topic of discussion, along with other provisions such as making the entire "terrorist trials" secret (if we don't just kill them first) - you know because "national security" and the other tired clichés.

However the need and validity of the laws themselves are not the main topic of discussion regarding them, are they? No, in fact the narrative being pushed by all parties and practically all media is that the scale of the new powers is fitting of the invisible "threat" we all face and that rather the contention is on whether there will be "enough oversight" to "protect Canadians" from these new laws.
The anti-terrorism legislation, which was unveiled Friday, would give CSIS the right to disrupt terrorist activity, such as by pulling suspected terrorists off planes or messing with their bank accounts. A judge would have to sign off on such actions ahead of time. The legislation would also make it easier to arrest people for promoting terrorism.

Critics say there are not enough checks on these new powers. They are calling on the government to mandate direct scrutiny from the House of Commons by, for example, having a committee of MPs oversee CSIS.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper did not address these concerns at a public appearance Sunday. In a short speech at a Vietnamese New Year celebration in Mississauga, he said his government will “always stand with you in support of human dignity and freedom for all people,” but made no direct references to the anti-terrorism bill. He did not take questions.

His caucus members, however, went toe-to-toe with opposition critics on the airwaves.

“What is absolutely missing in this legislation is oversight, oversight, oversight,” Liberal MP Wayne Easter, a former solicitor-general, said on Question Period. “That’s what’s needed for two things. One: to ensure that the new powers in this new legislation that agencies will be granted will not infringe on the privacy rights of Canadians. Two: to ensure that the agencies are using their powers within the law.”
If you are a Canadian that opposes the very contents of the laws, sorry but you're shit outta luck in terms of representation. "Critics say". Do you see how the criticism is being framed for you? As we discussed in my last post both the Conservatives and the Liberals have expressed interest in bringing Toronto Police Chief Bill BLiar into their ranks. Do you see how the illusion of opposition is being created? This is controlled opposition meant to ensure these laws pass and to frame the debate in such a way that even if the "opposition" gets what they want nothing has actually been opposed.

Meanwhile as polls are manipulated and the opposition to this law is manufactured, consent is also being built in biased reporting of the public's response. Take this article from Sun News Network for instance:
That said, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney told the Toronto Sun Sunday what he is hearing at the street level is different than what's in the media.
"People are telling me it's about time," said Blaney. "They were saying, ‘Why was some of this not already happening?'"

He attended an event in his Lévis-Bellechasse riding Saturday where "150 people at the town hall were all applauding and shouting out ‘Here, here.'"

Blaney said "the mayor leaned over and whispered to me ‘Did you hear that reaction?'"

Blaney was buoyed by the reaction. Since Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced tough new measures to combat terrorists or another terror attack on Canadian soil, he has noticed the luke warm media response.

However, Blaney says "people (are) saying, ‘Do what you have got to do.'"

Harper, as well as Justice Minister Peter MacKay and Associate Defence Minister Julian Fantino - who were also in Richmond Hill for the announcement - understand the worry about privacy and civil liberties. Thanks to sweeping new tools, authorities will be able to detain suspects without a charge or place people of interest on a no-fly list. There will also be more sharing of personal information between law enforcement agencies.
The article then goes on to compliment the opposition! A bit strange for Sun News, don't ya think?
Such heavy security is just the way of the changing technological world. There will always be criticism but people realize law enforcement personnel are the good guys. Terrorists don't play by the rules that governments must.

Even the opposition has been fair in its criticism. All sides understand Canadians have seen extended powers abused before and want that concern to be heard.

Blaney insists the government is listening.
"People realize law enforcement personal are the good guys". Do you see how all coverage of these laws take the liberty to speak for you? Oh! A townhall of "150 people" (how many hand-chosen by Harper's staff based on their views to be allowed attendance?) were shouting "here, here!" well I guess the consensus amongst Canadians is we don't need that freedom anyway so I better just go along to get along. Everyone else seems to like them just fine, eh?

The arguments against and approval for these new laws are all being manufactured for you. The argument we don't need these laws is no longer even on the table and is being purposefully avoided by all involved parties.

But.. But.. Terrorism!!!!

Isn't it interesting how the "safety and security" of Canadians from the "perceived threat" of terrorism defies all typical logic in terms of the scale of laws passed as a result? A couple of incidents happen (which are both highly questionable as to the involvement of the government) which causes a couple people to die and it's anti-terror legislation after anti-terror legislation and a complete revamp of the very definition of the CSIS organization. But blow up a town in the name of industry that kills more people than most of Canada's history with "terrorism" combined and what happens?

Since the disaster of Lac-Megantic there has been numerous derailments of trains. I pretty well read about them every other week and many had the potential to be a Lac-Megantic 2.0 and it's only dumb luck they weren't. The Dot-111 "oil bombs" while being "phased-out" continue to endanger the lives of people all over North America. However, to demand any more than what is already happening to change their ways would infringe on business. Your safety and security is the top concern of this government? Of the elites in power? I don't think so. The status-quo is.

Which might explain this...
Nor will CSIS be limited to cutting out the RCMP middleman in cases of terrorism. This is not an “anti-terrorism act.” The bill is about “threats to the security of Canada,” which include but are not limited to: interfering with the ability of the Canadian government to maintain economic or fiscal stability; espionage; interference with critical infrastructure; terrorism; and doing anything in Canada that undermines the security of another state.

(“Lawful advocacy, protest, dissent and artistic expression” are exempted from being threats to the security of Canada. But how well do governments define those things in times of “great evil”?)

Under the proposed law, CSIS agents will be allowed to take measures to reduce any perceived “threat to the security of Canada.” Agents will only need a warrant for activities that might contravene Charter rights or the law. If there is any doubt that the agents will be on the front lines of Mr. Harper’s war, you only have to read the part of the bill that says that, in taking measures to reduce a threat, CSIS can’t kill or harm anyone, or “violate the sexual integrity of an individual.”
 I wonder if CSIS sees thousands of Dot-111 train cars roaming through Canadian towns as a "perceived threat to the security of Canada?". Is the safety of the citizens even part of the "security" of Canada? Or are the citizens just sacrificial lambs being lead to the slaughter to protect the lives and standard of living of the Canadian elite?

The fact that there is a provision included "interfering with the ability of the Canadian government to maintain economic or fiscal stability" and "interference with critical infrastructure" should tell you everything you need to know. "Interference": what's that?

For instance, would a pipeline blockade now constitute "interfering with the ability of the Canadian government to maintain economic or fiscal stability and interfering with critical infrastructure"? I would imagine so given that the government has made numerous cases about how the pipelines are "critical" to maintaining "economic and fiscal stability".

This is a very dark time in Canada, don't fall for the propaganda traps. The rapid moves to finalize and legalize the Canadian police state indicate big things are on the horizon.

Futher reading: The morphing of “terrorism” and “domestic dissent” into an all encompassing and convenient category known as “domestic terrorists” or “domestic extremists”


‘Anti-petroleum’ movement a growing security threat to Canada, RCMP say

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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for CenturyLink

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Richard. Sorry to go off topic but I noticed the scrap you're having with Kinsella over the fascism business. He begins by reeling off the names of certain extremists he's met - mainly white supremacists - and uses them to define fascism. In a Kinsella-centric world that's the way things are and the real world need not intrude.

    I got a handle on Kinsella when he ran for the Liberals in North Van against a garden gnome Reformer. His behaviour made even Liberals sympathetic to the Reform candidate and Kinsella was run out on a rail.

    Of late he's been associated with a string of losers, most notably Ignatieff but also Pupatello (Ontario Liberal leadership candidate) and Olivia Chow. He's openly sore at having been given the cold shoulder by the Trudeau camp but, given his track record, that's understandable. He turned on Ignatieff when Iggy started going down and did the same to Chow as her campaign collapsed. I don't think loyalty is his strong suit.