8 Dec 2011

'Taking back the media',
effective campaigning required to empower
Progressive Movement

Progressive groups in Canada need to become even more determined, better organized and prepared to develop new effective strategies if they are to stop the Harper Conservatives and their corporate allies from tearing apart what we have built up over the past 50 years. 
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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  1. I think rather than talk about demonstrations, marches, social media, blogs etc. I think we should come up with proposals that could be reduced to bumper sticker statements.

    We are mad at the corporations because they have money in the bank. Well we need our corporations to look at opportunities for exporting to China, India and the other emerging economies. I am not talking about selling more coal, oil, wheat and lumber. I am talking about infrastructure projects like high speed trains, wind turbines, airports etc. This type of work takes educated people working in Canada and in the foreign country doing engineering and project management. These countries will be spending trillions on infrastructure in the next 10-15 years and we need out businesses to get interested in this sort of work. We have Acres Engineering, SNC Lavalin, Bombardier and others doing this type of work, we just need more companies doing this.

    If we are going to give tax cuts to the corporations it should be for hiring people, not for laying people off. The NDP are proposing this and I think this should become part of the "Occupy" platform.

    Kids are graduating with huge debt because the cost of education has been inflating at twice the general inflation rate. The education costs must be supported by the government to make education more affordable. And the grants should be only given in courses that lead to jobs i.e. mathematics, science, engineering, medical, business, accounting etc. No support for history, literature, political science that don't lead to jobs.

    We need a safety net for people below the poverty line. I don't agree with multi-generation poverty, we need to have a program to get people out of poverty through job training, job placement, free day care etc.

    We must get serious about Global Warming. We have a Green Energy Policy, totally ruled by the Oil Companies. We need to support Kyoto before we hit the tipping point when we can no longer stop Global Warming and will put our grand children into a hostile world with violent weather, food shortages, forest fires, flooding and sea level rise.

  2. I strongly agree with your thoughts and your efforts, but a movement, no matter how strong, will not defeat the "regressive Conservatives". That must be done by a political party. With our fragmented voting system, that is not likely to happen soon, and with the other parties busy with their own issues, certainly not at the next election. The Liberals have a long way to go to gain the confidence of voters, and only if they find a leader that can win votes. The NDP showing was a Quebec moment, and could reverse just as quickly. Unless there is a unification of the left that translates into votes, I think we are in for more of the same with Harper & Co. That being said, Canadians don't vote a party in; they look for an alternative when they are fed up with the status quo. Perhaps the work of you and others will shed enough light on the Conservatives to help make that happen. I wish you complete success.

  3. I agree that the political system and ALL parties ought to be given a secondary status when it comes to planning strategies.

    The only thing the liberals ever came up with for working people was welfare goodies but financed by DEFICITS, NOT by progressive taxation. Un fortunately the NDP went along with the swidle and often was left holding the bag defending the goodies when the wiley hypocritical liberals sensed the public had enough of Deficit financing. IT is just a sellout to the banksters who are happy for the ursurious opportunity; governments living beyond their means it is called. Of course government have the means to tax the rich in fair amounts< not what the rich want to pay, but lets see them do it?

    To date Canada compared to most of the world has been hit lightly by the banksters but we are fools if we think our turn to be swindled out of our LABOUR in exchange for phoney "ficticious capital" is not in the cards.

    The TOTAL world GDP is estimated at $70TRILLION per annum while the amount of phoney debts generated by Bankster frauds and swindles is $700Trillion.

    Right today sanctioned by the International Monetary Fascists (IMF) and the mafor central banks they are dong a number on Greece in the form of a "bailout". Italy and Spain are next in line to have their economies shredded by financial vultures; all social services, pensions tuition, medical will suffer cuts to below poverty levels while ordinary people are taxed to below subsistence to pay these fraudulent debts, which they had no hand in creating. The same in due time will hit EVERYWHERE

    So if the universe unfolds according to the international banking objectives we will see $700 TRILLIONin frauds liened against $70Trillion of LABOUR (SURPLUS)VALUE.

    Or for a crude but realistic analogy there will be an attempt to load 700 tonnes of shit on to a 70 tonne lorry. I rather doubt that even Grande Dame Christine LaGarde can get that one on the road.

    Is there apoint to this comment? I would suggest that PROGRESSIVES make aPOINT to be ready to opoose these bastards evey step of the way. If we don not, there are others I.E. Fascists who will do as Hitler did in the 1920s. Further insite if the reader is inclined can be had from reading Mein Kampf and some of the follow up hate speexhs.

  4. This is a Fox "commodified" story
    FOX News, LIES And Wrong Videotape: What’s Not Happening In Moscow – OpEd

    Written by: RT
    December 8, 2011

    By Katerina Azarova

    With so much going on in the world today, one can see how easy it would be to get confused. Are those pictures of the war in Iraq or Afghanistan? Poverty in Somalia or Congo? And what’s a news program to do if there aren’t any good pictures?

    So producers all over the world search, and talk to their own crews or news agencies who provide feeds for everyone, and find the best shots to grace their air time.

    Or – in some cases – ANY shots that look more or less similar to the covered topic. Case in point: protests in Russia and the ever-blundering FOX News.

    Yes, there are mass protests in Russia. Have been, since election day on Sunday. Thousands have been gathering to speak their mind and protest the election results. Yes, hundreds have been arrested. For two days in a row, and for various violations. Yes, there are reports of police brutality and no; right now it’s not possible to say whether they are true. It really does depend on the cops – much as it does anywhere else in the world. In New York, for example, some police officers will look the other way when you are filming somewhere you technically shouldn’t be; and others will detain you outside the United Nations building for no reason and refuse you your rights (and yes, all this did happen). Cops in Moscow are the same – some are nicer than others, while some appear to be almost looking for a fight.

    Regardless of all this – yes, there are protests. But this, my friends, is NOT them.

    Now, even though FOX news has kindly told us that this is, in fact, Moscow – as a Muscovite, one glance is enough to tell me it’s NOT. First of all, the phone box – ours are a greyish-blue, and are few and between. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I saw a public phone box, let alone anyone using it.

    Secondly, the people in the background – the young couple pressed against the building? They’re dressed in jeans and long-sleeved tees.

    It’s December. In RUSSIA. No one in their right mind would go to a rally (where most of the time, a lot of standing around is involved) in a tee shirt. People here wear thermals, ski jackets, hats and gloves – the works. Stereotypes are based on fact, you know – and Moscow is very cold in December.

    But even if all of this isn’t enough to convince you – and believe me, I do not want you to just take my word for it, here is my final argument.

    You may say ‘Hey, that looks Greek to me” – and you know what, you’ll be spot on. Greek it is – literally. And that sign? Says “National Bank of Greece” in those big, pretty, gold letters. FOX, it appears, isn’t satisfied with the REAL Russian rallies. They wanted a BANG! But there were no bangs, so I figure they thought “hey, it’s police running after people and fires and chaos – who on earth will be able to tell the difference?!” So they took videos from Athens, put a ‘’Russia” comment on screen – and voila, stick a fork in ‘em, they’re done.

    How unfortunate that their broadcasts can be seen by pretty much anyone, anywhere.

    I don’t harbor any hopes that the FOX people will see this and suddenly change their “errant ways”. But for the viewers – there are no palm trees in the streets of Moscow, the Prime Minister is spelled ‘PuTin’, not ‘PuTTin’ and the plural for ‘protester’ is ‘protesterS’. For future references.

  5. Jeff Sakula - Treasurer - Canadian Action Party12 December 2011 at 17:57

    Since you have been in broadcasting for a long time, you must be aware of the Brainwashing and misinformation by the Mainstream Media and the hiding of the real news. Like they say, Its what they don't tell you! So you must know what we are up against

    I checked out your info and looked at Catch 22. Very logical and enlightening,but strategic voting in my opinion is the wrong approach. We won't get rid of the corruption. We will just get variations of the same old, same old. Believe me the Liberals are every bit as corrupt as the Harper gov't and the NDP are open to any co-opting just to gain power.

    Actually I don't think it is possible to educate the public to what you and these informed groups are saying. In fact, it's impossible to keep their attention long enough to transfer a message. Politics is all about herding cats. One must find the can opener to get their attention. We are still looking for that can opener. I have talked to a lot of intelligent people only to find their thinking flawed by the brainwashing they are under.

    Canada is disappearing before our eyes and most Canadians are totally unaware. Unbelievable !!

    We need to focus the progressive movement you talk about and all these other organizations to get them behind one political force that can oust the status quo. As we have found out with our parliamentary system, you can not get rid of corruption or change what is within the system.

    We at CAP don't believe in strategic voting. Voting must come from the heart. What you believe in.

    You must replace existing government with something totally new and make drastic changes. The people need to vote in a new party like CAP that truly represents their views. That's what CAP is all about. We are the breath of fresh air that will change the corrupt system and give the power back to the people. If the people wont allow us to do that,then we are all done.

    Have you looked at our website? Maybe you can join our party and help convince others to do the same? We are convinced we have the right policies to be the main challenger in the Federal Political arena. We welcome support from all organizations. We need people like you and funds to make this happen.

    Help us to turn Canada around and get us back on track to the Worlds best country to live in.

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