“The Canadian media really dropped the ball on this one,” says Kalle Lasn, referring to the Occupy coverage. “Instead of seeing it as a movement of young people fighting for a different kind of future, which is so beautiful and so valid, they basically saw it as a pesky irritation.” Lasn is co-founder of Adbusters, the magazine that helped initiate the Occupy Movement.
We need a movement powerful enough to pressure corporate media owners into providing equal coverage, and with access to enough financing to support the development of alternative, independent media.
If the progressive movement is to be successful in improving society, it is hugely important for it to be able to reach the general public with its information creating a balanced view of important issues in Canada.
The kind of large cooperative body I discussed last week would have a much greater chance of being treated fairly by the mainstream media because of the tremendous pressure it could bring to bear on the corporate owners. I plan to discuss possible tactics that could be used in such situations in a future blog.
Last week I pointed out that we must come to grips with the realization that neither the mainstream media nor Stephen Harper is paying much attention to what we have to say.
Journalists such as Murray Dobbin, Linda McQuaig, and Naomi Klein write excellent, thoughtful articles about the problems we face and, while their stories keep us well informed, they have very little – if any – impact on the right-wing ideologues.
If we are to have the kind of Canada we want, we need to look at the possibility of building a huge nation-wide cooperative of hundreds of progressive groups representing different areas of interest that would develop powerful ways of tackling the right-wingers.
But first I think it is necessary for dozens of key progressive groups to do a little self-analysis.
Inside our organizations, Board members, staff and volunteers need to discuss and respond to the fact that the progressive movement is losing ground to the forces of neoliberalism at a tremendous rate. Every day, the Harper Conservatives destroy another part of the fabric and values of our country.
Unfortunately, many people deeply involved for years in the Canadian progressive community are tired and discouraged. Evidence of this is the failure of leading NGOs, public interest groups and labour organizations to come together to establish a major social/political initiative in response to the devastating election of the Harper majority in May.
The huge public response to the emergence of the radical Occupy Movement indicates that there is a wide gap between the concerns of quite a large segment of the general population and the ability of organized groups to lead and channel those frustrations.
In a number of organizations, young, energetic people with different goals and strategies more reflective of the times, need to be given an opportunity to lead on some important issues. Old tactics need to give way to new tactics.
This is not to say that many organizations are not doing fine work in their chosen areas – but many groups tend to focus on their own issues and fail to see the forest for the trees when it comes to identifying the kind of action that is needed in this political environment.
Some organizations, in particular some segments of the labour movement, have lost their way and are often just going through the motions when it comes to supporting progressive social and political issues. This may be due to the fact that many union members do not actively support progressive social and political issues the way an earlier generation did.
The problems we face as a nation requires that all leaders and would-be leaders in our communities come forward and start working together harder than they have ever worked before.
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I launched this discussion on my blog last week with the hope that people would respond to my ideas. Many did. Here are a few of the comments:
“To see what we can achieve by working together, see www.citizensuk.org”, Bruce Edwards wrote regarding a British activist group. “Political and corporate leaders often don’t embrace change, unless they’re pressured by the people they serve. But too many people don’t realise they have potential to join forces and create change in their neighbourhoods and across the country.”
Anonymous # 1 wrote: “There have been calls for broad progressive/left- wing movements for decades. In 1919 farmers and workers came together to form a provincial government in Ontario. In the 1930s there was the popular front against fascism. In the 1960s there were anti-war coalitions. The CCF and NDP were each formed to be the political expressions of these broad based movements. However, those parties have not yet lived up to their full potential. With the current social upheaval I see the possibility for this to change. You've laid great groundwork here.”
“Great article and analysis,” wrote John Stockton. “Yes, you are absolutely right, Canadians can no longer afford to denounce the situation and then leave it to others to rectify the problem. The problem being that the Conservatives are nothing of the sort. They are quasi-fascists who believe that what they don’t know isn’t worth knowing, hence putting a creationist in charge of the ministry of Science and Technology. . . . The arrogance of the Harper government is breathtaking and it is only by the marshalling of those socially progressive forces in Canada that we can get back on the path of using our mutual strengths to confront the very real problems facing our country.”
And finally, blogger Emily Dee (Pushed to the Left and Loving It), says, “I'm in. How can I help? I have two dogs that can lick envelopes and a genuine concern for the direction that our country is headed in.”
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I would like to ask readers to bring their ideas forward concerning how we evaluate the need for a progressive coalition. First and foremost, information about the basic concept needs to be distributed more widely. I can prepare a condensed version of the basic idea for anyone who has access to email-lists or who would like to circulate it among groups. Contact me at: email@example.com
A project like this – which would become massive – needs to proceed slowly. But based on the number of people who have shown interest, it would not be difficult, even at this early stage, to enlist the support of at least 20 volunteers. More important, two excellent organizations – one an NGO with developmental skills and the other a major research organization – have indicated their interest in supporting the building such a project.
Please add your comments to my blog. If there is enough interest, we will move the project discussion to a website in the New Year.
JABS AND LEFT HOOKS: Who can tell me why the Canadian mainstream media provides so much coverage of the practically meaningless goings-on (at this early stage) of the selection of the U.S. presidential candidates? All that space and journalists’ time wasted! Think of all the good stories they could be doing.
For example, CBC Reporter Margo McDiarmid says ... that Canada is being seen as the Darth Vader of the climate conference in South Africa. . . .
I’m announcing this a little late, but I have a solution to the dispute among the countries about who should pay for cleaning up carbon. My idea is to break this into three categories: rich nations pay a lot; emerging economies pay a reasonable amount that would escalate over 10 years; and poor countries pay nothing.
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