FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Harper is Finally Right: the Canadian Election is About Security Versus Risk

Powell River, British Columbia.

Stephen Harper chose the Calgary Stampede Rodeo (now Rachel Notley country) to launch the theme of the now full-blown election campaign. Harper proclaimed he was confident that “…this October Canadians will choose security over risk.”  Let’s hope so. The question is, of course, what kind of security and risk are we talking about? Political language is never simple or straight forward. It is subject to sophisticated manipulation by professional word-smiths and public relations experts. The choice of what language to use is subject to hundreds of hours of deliberation and enormous resources because if you get it right, you usually win. If you get it wrong, well, it’s a lot harder. Getting it right means no one even suspects you of manipulating them.

Experts in the art of issue framing will tell you that those who frame an issue first have a huge advantage because they force their opponents to reframe it  – in other words get you to take the time to reconsider what the words actually mean. Maybe that is why neither the Liberals nor the NDP have taken the trouble to challenge Harper’s framing of the security issue as exclusively a foreign policy and military issue: security against terrorism.

That’s unfortunate because not only is Harper vulnerable on his own limited anti-terror grounds he is extremely vulnerable when it comes to the kind of security that actually affects millions of Canadians. When it comes to economic and social security the vast majority of Canadians haven’t been this insecure since the Great Depression.

It’s not as if we don’t know the numbers – 60 percent of  Canadians just two weeks away from financial crisis if they lose their job; record high personal indebtedness; real wages virtually flat for the past twenty-five years; a terrible work-life balance situation for most working people (and getting worse); labour standard protections that now exist only on paper; the second highest percentage of low-paying jobs in the OECD; young people forced into working for nothing on phony  apprenticeships; levels of economic (both income and wealth) inequality not seen since 1928. Throw in the diminishing “social wage” (Medicare, education, home care, child care, etc.) and the situation is truly grim.

Most of these insecurity statistics are rooted either directly or indirectly in twenty-five years of deliberate government policy designed by and for corporations. Governments have gradually jettisoned their responsibility for economic security, slowly but surely handing this critical feature of every Canadian’s life over to the “market“ for determination. Economic policy has been surgically excised from government responsibility to citizens and is now in the singular category of “facilitating investment” – a euphemism for clearing the way for corporations to engage in whatever activity enhances their bottom line.

From corporate rights agreements (which constitutionalize corporate power), to the decades old “independence” of the Bank of Canada (independent of democracy); from irresponsibly low corporate income tax rates to punitively low social assistance; from EI that only 30% ever quality for to taxes grossly skewed in favour of the wealthy and a Charter of Rights and Freedoms that has bestowed citizenship status on the most powerful and ruthless economic entities on the planet, Canadian governments have abandoned their citizens to the vagaries of an increasingly unregulated capitalism. This is not even a complete list but it demonstrates just how corporate globalization and its promoters like Stephen Harper have created the greatest insecurity for Canadians virtually in living memory.

The brilliance of the project hiving economic security off from democratic governance is that it has been so gradual and systematic that we have all come to accept it as if it were ordained by nature. There are no angry anti-austerity marches here and as a result there is no political party basing its platform on such a sentiment (the NDP seems desperate to mimic the Conservatives’ and Liberals’ dedication to balanced-budget idiocy). We have never been so fearful of our economic future but we have been convinced that we (even those of us with full time, low-paying jobs headed for the food banks to make ends meet) are somehow to blame.

As for the kind of security Harper likes to talk about we are in fact less secure now under the Conservatives’ policies than we have ever been. Harper’s foreign policy could easily make us targets for the very “jihadists” that Harper rails on about. His eager involvement in the destruction of Libya, his aggressive stance in Afghanistan, the carte balnche he provides Israel in its brutal oppression of Palestinians in Gaza and the illegal occupation of the West Bank and his comically ineffective “engagement” in the war on ISIL all contribute to terrorists identifying Canada as a reasonable target for retribution. If we actually had some smattering of national interests in the Middle East it could be argued that the risk is worth it. But we don’t. The net result is not only increased national insecurity but the trampling of our rights to privacy and our civil liberties with Bill C51  – legislation that does nothing to enhance our defence against terror but dramatically undermines our personal security as citizens.

The Harper Conservative could still eke out a minority government in the October 19th election. If they do it unchallenged on their fraudulent promotion of enhanced security for Canadians the NDP and Liberals will have no one to blame but themselves.

More articles by:

MURRAY DOBBIN, now living in Powell River, BC has been a journalist, broadcaster, author and social activist for over forty years.  He can be reached at murraydobbin@shaw.ca

November 20, 2018
John Davis
Geographies of Violence in Southern California
Anthony Pahnke
Abolishing ICE Means Defunding it
Maximilian Werner
Why (Mostly) Men Trophy Hunt: a Biocultural Explanation
Masturah Alatas
Undercutting Female Circumcision
Jack Rasmus
Global Oil Price Deflation 2018 and Beyond
Geoff Dutton
Why High Technology’s Double-Edged Sword is So Hard to Swallow
Binoy Kampmark
Charges Under Seal: US Prosecutors Get Busy With Julian Assange
Rev. William Alberts
America Fiddles While California Burns
Forrest Hylton, Aaron Tauss and Juan Felipe Duque Agudelo
Remaking the Common Good: the Crisis of Public Higher Education in Colombia
Patrick Cockburn
What Can We Learn From a Headmaster Who Refused to Allow His Students to Celebrate Armistice Day?
Clark T. Scott
Our Most Stalwart Company
Tom H. Hastings
Look to the Right for Corruption
Edward Hunt
With Nearly 400,000 Dead in South Sudan, Will the US Finally Change Its Policy?
Thomas Knapp
Hypocrisy Alert: Republicans Agreed with Ocasio-Cortez Until About One Minute Ago
November 19, 2018
David Rosen
Amazon Deal: New York Taxpayers Fund World Biggest Sex-Toy Retailer
Sheldon Richman
Art of the Smear: the Israel Lobby Busted
Chad Hanson
Why Trump is Wrong About the California Wildfires
Dean Baker
Will Progressives Ever Think About How We Structure Markets, Instead of Accepting them as Given?
Robert Fisk
We Remember the Great War, While Palestinians Live It
Dave Lindorff
Pelosi’s Deceptive Plan: Blocking any Tax Rise Could Rule Out Medicare-for-All and Bolstering Social Security
Rick Baum
What Can We Expect From the Democrat “Alternative” Given Their Record in California?
Thomas Scott Tucker
Trump, World War I and the Lessons of Poetry
John W. Whitehead
Red Flag Gun Laws
Newton Finn
On Earth, as in Heaven: the Utopianism of Edward Bellamy
Robert Fantina
Shithole Countries: Made in the USA
René Voss
Have Your Say about Ranching in Our Point Reyes National Seashore
Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s New President, Other European Fools and the Abyss 
Pete Dolack
“Winners” in Amazon Sweepstakes Sure to be the Losers
Richard Eskow
Amazon, Go Home! Billions for Working People, But Not One Cent For Tribute
Ramzy Baroud
In Breach of Human Rights, Netanyahu Supports the Death Penalty against Palestinians
Brian Terrell
Ending the War in Yemen- Congressional Resolution is Not Enough!
John Laforge
Woolsey Fire Burns Toxic Santa Susana Reactor Site
Ralph Nader
The War Over Words: Republicans Easily Defeat the Democrats
M. G. Piety
Reading Plato in the Time of the Oligarchs
Rafael Correa
Ecuador’s Soft Coup and Political Persecution
Brian Cloughley
Aid Projects Can Work, But Not “Head-Smacking Stupid Ones”
David Swanson
A Tale of Two Marines
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail