Not a day goes by during which Stephen Harper hasn’t destroyed yet another program or activity that is vital to the Canadian public. Near the end of the election campaign, Catch-22, the anti-Harper site, published a list of 100 reasons why people should not vote for the Conservatives, highlighting some of their most atrocious actions.
Frankly, the situation is desperate. If we are to recognize our country 10 years from now, we must get off our butts and work harder than ever before.
* * *FYI: At this stage, this is a “one-man” campaign aimed at sparking discussion among people in the progressive community. In two other recent blogs I have written about the need for progressive groups to follow the example set by the Occupy Movement in its early days, and why the Progressive Community needs to be stronger in Canada.
I am not a member of any public interest group, not do I seek to benefit personally from the discussion I hope to see take place. I would appreciate your feedback. Discussions will continue in January.
Unfortunately, our hundreds of public interest and labour groups, working either on their own or through various alliances, are unable to stop the Harper rout or have any impact in challenging the form of greed-ridden capitalism we are plagued with in the 21st century.
The progressive community in Canada has the potential to become big and powerful. We have more than 20,000 public interest organizations with 4.3-million Canadians belonging to unions alone, most of which support public interest activities.
To become an effective force, thousands of these groups and hundreds-of-thousands of their members need to come together to form a non-binding, volunteer cooperative structure or coalition.
Care needs to be taken to see that a new cooperative movement would not infringe on the territory of any member group. Hopefully, decisions would be made by consensus, and a group would be able to opt out of any action they did not agree with.
The formation and anticipated progress of such a super body can be the inspiration that hundreds-of-thousands of distraught Canadians need, to feel that they are part of an action movement to improve life in their country.
A wake-up call!
We need to be totally honest with ourselves about the kind of people we are up against at the federal government level. Ottawa Citizen journalist Dan Gardner, writing an article in November where he is trying to understand Stephen Harper, says:
"Stephen Harper doesn’t want to beat the other side; he wants to destroy them. They’re not opponents; they’re the enemy. As for the depth of his ideological feelings, the prime minister’s colleagues use the word ‘hatred’ to describe his antipathy to liberalism.”
Harper and his crowd are not honourable people. I recently wrote in detail about their illegal funding activities that helped Harper gain power for the first time in 2006. They are a gang of lawless, disrespectful liars.
The only way to deal with such people is through organizing, becoming powerful and employing smart strategies and tactics.
The elephant in the room
Some parts of this new movement – perhaps union organizations – would have to deal with the proverbial elephant in the room: the way corporate power is being used. The early popularity of the Occupy Movement’s slogan about “the 99 per cent vs. the 1 per cent” is proof that vast numbers of people are ready to talk about bringing the powers of corporations back under control.
A first action for a new movement could be income disparity, which was pointed out in a new report. How is it that there are billions of dollars sitting in the vaults of Canadian corporations when the real unemployment rate is about 13 per cent and many people are working at two and three jobs?
We must `take back` the media
The progressive community needs to take back the media – or, take it back as much as possible! This can be done only through a huge cooperative effort by dozens of organizations.
Firstly, partner groups could help raise funds to strengthen independent media organizations in the country. Internet news sites and magazines need funding to be able to do both analytical and investigative journalism. Then we need to find ways so that the general public, including tens-of-thousands of people who tend not to follow media, begin following independent and alternative media.
In addition, we cannot afford to ignore the right-wing, corporate-owned mainstream media because this is where Canadians get most of their news. Content analysis of media outlets could be carried out and publicized. If a particular media company persisted in carrying unbalanced news, it would be easy enough to identify their top two advertisers and call for a boycott of their products. No, it wouldn’t be fair to the advertisers, but it would get the job done.
We need to organize for the publication of thoughtful, progressive articles in mainstream media as well as the appearance of progressive speakers on radio and television. We also must respond to right-wing articles, columns and opinion pieces that appear in mainstream media.
Hedging our bets in Ottawa
The strong showing of the NDP in the May election made people hopeful that the party will do ever better next time. However, the NDP is going through fundamental changes. While it is not a strong indication of what may happen in the months ahead, the NDP now trail the Liberals 28.1 to 27.3 per cent in a late November poll by Nanos Research.
The progressive community dare not take a chance that either the NDP or the Liberals will win next time, or that the two will come together in some way to defeat the Conservatives. Moreover, when almost any stripe of party wins an election these days it seems it does not live up to peoples’ expectations. Progressive Canadians would be best advised to build their own power base just as strong as possible and, if any favors come our way from political parties, we should view it as a bonus.
New strategies, skilled campaigns needed
Canada has hundreds of wonderfully skilled and dedicated organizations that work tirelessly on many issues of vital importance to the country’s well being and they have had many successes when it comes to campaigning.
Even so, with all due respect, many Canadian groups could do better if part of a huge campaign movement. In addition, most groups are not using hard-nosed tactics available to them – perhaps because some of the tactics might be seen as not being “nice.”
Well, we need to literally fight for the lives of Canadians and the well-being of the rest of us, so I think the gloves have to come off.
Strategies need to be developed that identify a serious problem and the “culprit”. There has to be a clear idea as to what would be considered to be “success” as the result of a campaign. Then campaign tactics are chosen that identify a serious vulnerability of the “culprit.” After that we need to work as hard as hell, perhaps adjusting tactics as required.
Here are some suggestions of mostly aggressive tactics that a new coordinated network could consider using:
- Marches and protests can get media attention – not always good – and make people feel like they are doing something valuable. However, on their own, most marches and protests do not result in change. Now, if you can put 250,000 people on Parliament Hill and shut the place down for a day or two, it might indicate to a responsible government – something we don’t have – that it might want to re-think its actions.
- If the collective decided it wanted to see greater income sharing, we could protest and lobby the government. However, we might be more successful if we identified one corporation and its top executives that have received massive tax cuts. We could develop a full strategy based on the slogan “x company = 1 per cent.” The public will get it, and so will the media. Tactics could escalate from demonstrations, to hit-and-run office occupations, to calling for a full boycott, and suggesting that people move their accounts to credit unions, as is happening to some extent in the U.S. because of greedy banks. After a few weeks of action, if the bank’s image is suffering and if it has been hurt a little financially, the federal government would announce that it was planning all along to change tax rates to assist low-income Canadians.
- Canadian organizations could use the courts more often to challenge both governments and corporations in many different areas. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms can be used to protect the rights of First Nations, the rights of workers and in support of people against illegal police activities. In addition, while there are dozens of class action lawsuits in some stage or other at any one time, more cases could be launched.
- Progressive groups spend weeks preparing thoughtful presentations for the Harper government on a variety of issues, often having the reports tossed in the waste basket. If this were to persist, the collective could go the comedy route and hire a troupe to create a clown character of some sort to appear in public and in media – perhaps a character representing the government, but with no eyes and no ears.
- Because of the nature of our community, we have a huge advantage over the right in using social media as an organizing tool and protest vehicle. However, only a handful of groups are using social media effectively as a campaigning tool. Both legal and marginally legal activities such as a boycott or overloading a website can easily be spread virally through social media.
- Some groups may not want to embrace the concept, but there also needs to be a place for on-the-ground civil disobedience. Groups such as the Occupation Movement, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, could be called upon to perform tactical occupations and carry out various forms of protest as part of a broader campaign
- Finally, I believe that we need to hold people accountable for what they do as individuals or in their jobs in corporations and governments. If our Defence Minister is caught lying about ‘what-he-knew-when’ concerning the torture of Afghans or about using a helicopter, I think that it is fair game that he be embarrassed in any way possible – from refusing to acknowledge his presence at events to the old pie-in-the-face routine.
* * *If a new cooperative movement really captured the country’s imagination and hundreds of groups and hundreds-of-thousands of people became involved, this new entity could become a significant force in the country.
The formation of such a cooperative venture will not happen unless groups and individuals have the determination to fight for the kind of Canada they believe in. But if we do not take action, we surely will lose our country as we know it!
Let the discussion begin – I look forward to your comments.
JABS AND LEFT HOOKS: Is Don Cherry losing his punch? The CBC pays this fight-loving egomaniac more than $700,000 a season because his Coach’s Corner spot has attracted millions of viewers over the years, bringing the CBC extra ad revenue. But newspaper columnist Bruce Dowbiggin has looked at the Hockey Night in Canada numbers, and it seems that, lately at least, Cherry is not pulling the numbers.
Reports Dowbiggin: “Ratings during the first period of [a recent] Saturday’s HNIC peaked at about 2.2 million viewers at 7:45 p.m. ET. But ratings show that by 7:58, that figure had plummeted by almost 800,000 to about 1.4 million during the first intermission of the show, precisely when Cherry is in mid-jeremiad. The week before, first-period numbers peaked around 2.5 million viewers. By the time Cherry was on, almost a million people had found something else to do, as the number dipped to around 1.5 million.”
Hmmm . . . . if this is true, is Cherry worth all that money? I wonder if someone could get the numbers on Kevin O’Leary? Maybe we could rid the airwaves of two embarrassments at one time!
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