68 posts categorized "truth or fiction?"

December 03, 2008

The D Word

Do any of these techniques of persuasion sound familiar to you?

Comparing apples to oranges. For example, "Our government has spent more on culture and heritage (and sports and recreation) than the previous government spent on the arts.

Demonizing the enemy. For example, identifying political opponents as a threat to democracy or the country's future (e.g., describing a perfectly legal course of action under a parliamentary democracy as "undemocratic" or describing the proposed coalition government as Liberals and "socialists" supported by "separatists").

Straw man. For example, distorting an opposing position and then arguing against that distortion (e.g., the attack ads on Stephane Dion, which literally turned the Leader of the Opposition into a cartoon representation of himself; the gross misrepresentations of what the Green Shift and other Opposition policies and platforms were all about during the last election).

Loaded question or loaded statement. For example, posing a question -- or making a statement -- with an implied position that the opponent does not have. (For example, during the Federal leaders' debate, Harper made this statement which totally misrepresented Dion's position and thinking: "Last night, Stephane, you panicked. You came on the set and announced a whole new economic plan in the middle of a national debate. I know why you did that because you look at your platform. Your platform says we will spend billions of dollars we don't have and go into deficit. (You) will raise taxes that will kill jobs.")

And, of course, there are other similar techniques that have become all-too-familiar to political observers -- like telling half-truths, omitting key facts, and attempting to rewrite history by way of selective amnesia.

They have a name for a political leader who has mastered this political modus operandi: who holds on to political power by capitalizing on popular prejudices; preying on people's emotions and fears; resorting to propaganda campaigns to sway the electorate; and who encourages his followers to "Rally for Canada" by showing their support for him and his party.

Demagogue.

"Demagoguery invites the externalization of hatred and anxiety, it is an institutional aid to projection; it justifies tabloid thinking, stereotyping, and the conviction that the world is made up of swindlers...There is no middle ground...the ultimate objective is vague, still the need for definiteness is met by the rule, `Follow the Leader.'"
- Gordon Allport, The Nature of Prejudice

Deceivin' Stephen, Honest Ed, the GG, and the CBC

Askme CBC.ca is asking

If you were the Governor General, what would you do?

Here's my response:

I would give the coalition government an opportunity to have the chance to govern. It is the best alternative, given the other choices. And our system of parliamentary democracy provides for this option. (Any Canadian who is not clear about how parliamentary democracy differs from the US system of government should tune into The National every night to get the facts from the country's top constitutional experts.) [ Subscribe to podcast feed of relevant segments here. ]

Here's something else to consider. We Canadians pride ourselves on resolving things through mediation and cooperation in our daily lives. It only seems fitting that we carry this spirit right to Parliament Hill.

We need a government that understands this and that is willing to work in the best interests of all Canadians during a time of economic crisis. Prime Minister Harper has lost the faith of 62 percent of Canadians because of his insistence on putting partisan politics ahead of policy. If he had been willing to govern responsibly, we would not be in the situation where we find ourselves today. What's unfortunate is that his current campaign of political half-truths and misinformation is causing great anxiety amongst Canadians when there is no need for such anxiety.

If Harper would, for once, act like a statesman and a gentleman, this situation could be resolved quickly and painlessly and our leaders could move beyond the political crisis and start dealing with the economic crisis.

Now click through and offer your opinion, too.

One final thing, while I've got your attention.

How will history remember Harper?

Brian Mulroney got stuck with the not-very-nice moniker "Lyin' Brian." (And we'll be hearing more about him this week on The Fifth Estate. It's no wonder Harper & Company don't like the CBC much, with timing like that. Ouch.)

Do you think Harper is doomed to be stuck with a nickname like Deceivin' Stephen?

Ed Broadbent thinks so. Broadbent accused the Prime Minister of lying during an interview on CBC Radio's The Current this morning. And what an informative interview it was. Honest and straight to the point.

December 02, 2008

That Was Then, This is Now?

Stephen Harper has a lot of explaining to do to Canadians.

If this type of arrangement was democratic for him to enter into in 2004, surely it's democratic today.

And yet he's just launched a national campaign to try to convince Canadians of the contrary.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Thankfully, Harper only has a minority government.

Sign Spotted at Political Rally in Peterborough, Ontario -- Quote from THE NATIONAL on CBC

Political Sign Spotted at Pro-Coalition Rally in Peterborough, Ontario

First in a series of photo posts from a noon rally in Peterborough.

Related: CBC.ca coverage about Harper government and public reaction to coalition government.

Pin the Minority on the Donkey Rally in Peterborough at Noon TODAY

Tothesquare

From Emily Berrigan of The Green Party:

"TODAY (Dec. 2nd) at noon the Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro is holding a "Rally for Canada" across from Peterborough City Hall to show [his] disgust for a possible coalition government.

Please join me at the same rally in showing disgust for an unrepresentative government and support for cooperation in Canadian politics! (no matter what your stripe!)

We'll be playing 'Pin the Minority on the Donkey!'"

RSVP on the Facebook group

Related:

Peterborough Examiner story

November 10, 2008

Building Bridges and Delivering Trains: Can Del Mastro Do It All?

"The Kelowna Accord...there is no such thing. It was nothing but a press release."
-
Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro,
newly appointed Parliamentary Secretary
to Heritage Minister James Moore


Figurineandclock It will be interesting to see how other members of the Peterborough community respond to Dean Del Mastro's appointment as Parliamentary Secretary to Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore.

We've already heard from the arts community, but cultural workers aren't the only ones who will be affected by Del Mastro's appointment.

Canadian Heritage is responsible for arts and culture, citizenship and identity, international activity (international events, international expositions, trade and investment), diversity and multiculturalism, sport, and youth. See this comprehensive A to Z index for an overview of everything this Ministry oversees. 

The Peterborough business community will no doubt be enthusiastic, looking for opportunities to benefit from trade and investment opportunities abroad.

And the sports community will be delighted to have sports being overseen by someone based in Peterborough. (Peterborough has long claimed ownership to anything related to the world of hockey, as any local can attest.)

But as for those parts of our community affected by government decisions related to diversity and multiculturalism; citizenship and identity; and youth -- they may not be quite as enthused.  Along with arts and culture, there are many parts of the Canadian Heritage file where Del Mastro has more learning and much bridge-building to do.

It sounds as if Del Mastro is going to be busy. Very busy. And yet he told the Peterborough Examiner that he won't be too busy to deliver the goods as an MP: "Ultimately I won't allow it take away the focus away from delivering the many things I have been working on for our riding."

Good thing. On top of all his new responsibilities, he still has to follow through on his promises to deliver the train, the battery plant, the Little Lake resort, and the legislation guaranteeing property rights. Etc.

No MP Left Behind

Radar Dean Del Mastro's big news wasn't the talk of Toronto, and because that's where I was this past weekend, it wasn't until this morning that I got the scoop on the second biggest news story in Peterborough: that Dean Del Mastro has been named Parliamentary Secretary to Heritage Minister James Moore. (The really big news in Peterborough these days is that Serena Ryder's second album is due out tomorrow.)

Harper certainly works in mysterious ways. It wasn't that long ago that Dean Del Mastro was at the bottom of the learning curve on this file. And now he'll be one of the key influencers.

No MP left behind.

The response from the Peterborough arts community has been less than enthusiastic, as you might expect. It seems that the only one around town who is gushing about this appointment is Del Mastro himself. Surely Del Mastro wasn't expecting much more. This is the same community, after all, that

The Peterborough Examiner's coverage of Del Mastro's appointment included these comments from ARTSPACE Executive Director Iga Janik, who generally acts as a spokesperson for the broader Peterborough arts community:

Artspace director Iga Janik expressed concern that Del Mastro is too inexperienced and not involved enough in the local artistic scene to handle the file: "I don't know how qualified he is considering I don't see him at any of the cultural institutions or events in Peterborough," Janik said. "In light of all the cuts to the arts that the Conservative government have made, Del Mastro and Mr. Harper have a big job ahead to rectify the situation."

Janik made reference to the $34 million dollars in arts funding cuts. That's how much the Conservative government cut to cultural and heritage granting programs such as the Heritage Sustainability Program, Canadian Independent Film and Video Fund and the National Training Program in the Film and Video Sector on the eve of the election. Moore has since announced the Harper government has no plans to reverse those cuts. What's more, the spin-cycle of carefully crafted political messaging about arts funding has started up again.

The strategy is consistent with what we saw before the election -- attempt to confuse Canadians by talking about the entire Canadian Heritage budget, which includes arts, culture, sports, and recreation funding -- rather than sticking to the arts funding portion of that budget when arts funding is being discussed.

Here's Del Mastro quoted in the Peterborough Examiner (November 8, 2008):

"I'm proud to say that no government in the history of Canada has put more money into the Department of Canadian Heritage than ours has, that includes direct funding of arts and culture and promotion of arts and culture in Canada."

This kind of political double-speak does not bode well for Del Mastro's relationship with members of the arts community, local or national. Why not just talk about what you've actually spent on the arts -- and just the arts -- when that's the issue on the table?

Here's the thing. Artists are a tell-it-like-it-is kind of crowd with very finely tuned spin radar. They don't have a lot of respect for double-speak and carefully crafted political messages that dance around the truth

That's why musicians, artists, writers, filmmakers, dancers, singers, songwriters,  and every other kind of cultural worker you can think of rallied behind Obama in the US election.

That's why musicians, artists, writers, filmmakers, dancers, singers, songwriters, and every other kind of cultural worker you can think of rallied against Harper in our election.

Oh yeah. One more thing. The anything-but-Conservative election strategy wasn't just about the funding cuts.

It was also about the lack of respect for Canadian artists and what we do; and Harper's inability to appreciate what Canadian culture is and what it means to Canadians. 

The good news is that artists are the cultural canaries. We're good at reading cultural, political, and social trends; and finding compelling ways to let people know that the canary is sick, dying, or in danger of being murdered by its keeper.

The canary has been being plucked of its feathers for quite some time. The canary can't go on like this much longer. Hopefully, it will only be a matter of time until the rest of Canadians decide they want something better for their country; that they can feel that sense of hope and renewal our neighbors to the south experienced last Tuesday night.

Until that happens, the artists will continue to paint, dance, film, write, and storyboard the visions of what was, what is, and what could be. Stay tuned.

Related:
Dean Del Mastro on public vs. private funding for Canadian broadcasters: Canadian Heritage Committee Meeting in June

October 30, 2008

Election Chickens. Hatched.

Stepfordwife Don't count your chickens before they're hatched -- particularly if you have your eyes on a cabinet position.

Related:

Peterborough Examiner, October 15: "Del Mastro has heard the rumours that he's being considered for the agriculture minister portfolio, but he said he'd happily serve in any role. 'I'd certainly love to have a more enhanced role,'  he said. 'The prime minister has put me in positions where he's shown an awful lot of trust and belief in my abilities. I expect my responsibilities in Ottawa will continue to grow. It helps me with respect to influence, and ultimately what I can deliver for my constituents.'

October 21, 2008

She's Keeping a List, Checking It Twice....

Bb Betsy McGregor is going to keep on fighting the good fight. Here's what she told The Peterborough Examiner when they asked her if she was going to be seeking the Federal nomination for the Liberal Party the next time around:

"There is a lot of work to be done but I'm energized to help rebuild, reform and return the party to power.

"I look forward to the arrival of the train to Peterborough, the entrenchment of property rights in the constitution, the elimination of the gun registry and the battery plant," McGregor said, [listing election promises made by Conservative MP Dean] Del Mastro.

"I will continue to lead in Peterborough and help keep our MP accountable."

And speaking of The Peterborough Examiner, they ran the (second) worst possible picture of St├ęphane Dion on the front page of today's newspaper and -- to add insult to injury -- they ran it under the headline: "Dion's Day is Done." Tacky.

October 15, 2008

Peterborough: Possibility City

"I'm so disappointed in Peterborough. Now I remember why I ran away when I was 16."
- A Peterborough voter commenting on the election results, quoted in today's Peterborough Examiner.

I believe in Peterborough and its potential to become something more. This is what I think about when I think about Peterborough and its potential.

Peterborough, the ethical city; Peterborough, the just city; Peterborough, the visionary city; Peterborough, the creative city; Peterborough, the innovative city; Peterborough, the eco-city; Peterborough, the multicultural city; Peterborough, the all-ages city; Peterborough, the hate-free city; Peterborough, the bullying-free city; Peterborough, the no-one-goes-hungry city; Peterborough, the barrier-free city; Peterborough, the entrepreneurial city; Peterborough, the healthy city; Peterborough, the active city; Peterborough, the sustainable city; Peterborough, the local foodbasket city; Peterborough, the welcoming city; Peterborough, the politically engaged city; Peterborough, the public spaces city; Peterborough, the indie media city, Peterborough, possibility city.

A lot of people are working towards these various ends.

And not all progress has to come through political channels.

We can take a two-tiered approach to working for change in our communities:

1. Add your voice to the loud chorus of Canadians insisting on democratic reform now;
2. Work for change through all channels available to you as a citizen.

Don't give in to cynicism or apathy. Let frustration fuel your resolve to work for change.