Tag Archives: apathy

Stephen Harper Thinks You’re Stupid: Yet Another Reason

Yharperou know it’s a rough day for the prime minister when the Sun News Network demonstrates they aren’t always a Fox News North Conservative Party lapdog by calling them on the Economic Action Plan lunacy.

If you wonder why lots of people don’t vote, it’s in part because they think governments think we’re stupid.

Running Economic Action Plan ads polls poorly. The populace thinks it’s spin. And now Sun News decided to do some simple journalism to assess whether it’s truly a shadow masquerading as an authentic…something…plan, even?

The bottom line is that governments often think we’re just stupid. We will accept these ads. We will express in polls that we think the ads are spin. We will then do nothing when they continue.

In the end, maybe Stephen Harper is right to think we’re stupid.

Here’s a hint for Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Canadians expect their government to have an economic plan.

They don’t need to be reminded of it, ad nauseam, for four years, via a series of commercials that have cost them $113 million so far, with no end in sight.

The latest $29,000 government poll on the government’s Economic Action Plan (EAP), bringing the total cost of polling on it to $330,000, found almost no one is paying attention anymore.

The Harris-Decima survey completed in the spring, found of 2003 Canadians surveyed, three — count ’em, three — visited the government’s Actionplan.gc.ca website.

Only 6% of those who recalled seeing television ads promoting the plan took action because of them, and nine of them said the only action they took was to complain.

According to The Canadian Press, which obtained the poll through an access to information request, that’s the worst response rate for any government advertising campaign.

Indeed, the survey didn’t report on anyone calling the government toll-free number — 1-800-O-Canada — featured in television commercials promoting the EAP.

(When we called that number, a polite receptionist referred us to the ministry of finance website Budget.gc.ca, explaining she didn’t have a direct phone line for the EAP, nor was she aware of the Actionplan.gc.ca website, which we told her about.)

Previous surveys about the EAP — mandatory under government rules intended to ensure, ironically, that taxpayers are getting good value for their money — have found similarly high levels of public apathy and even hostility to the ads.

– from Harper should scrap economic plan ads

There are times that I can’t believe I study politics.

I’m a graduate student in political science at York University.

And there are times – increasingly more times – that I can’t believe that I study politics.

And I’d like to suggest that this is precisely what Stephen Harper wants.

Personally, I think that it’s kind of telling that someone like me – a student who has, thus far, dedicated six years and more than thirty thousand dollars to actually studying politics – might be getting tired of what I used to find so interesting, and what I might have, at one time, been passionate about.

After all, if someone like me, who was so dedicated to studying politics, might tire of it, then what of everyone else in the country? Everyone out there who hasn’t spent countless hours and dollars studying politics, understanding the vagaries of political systems, wondering what votes might mean?

But, again, I’d like to suggest that this is what Stephen Harper wants.  He wants everyone to tire of politics.  And he’s well on his way to doing this.

Using a description written by Javier Auyero, when he was studying oligarchic and undemocratic practices in South America, Stephen Harper probably wants us to think of “politics [as] an activity alien to” the people.  Harper probably wants us to exist in a scenario where politics “is defined as an action that is foreign to everyday life.”

And in such a situation, Harper wants the Conservative Party to appear beyond politics. He wants you to think of the Conservative Party as an apolitical, beneficent organization, that does good in the world.  And that politics is alien, apart, separate from this.

Why would Harper, a politician of all things, want this?

Because politics has become something alien to all of us.  And engaging in politics is then something foreign to us.  So we won’t engage in politics.  But thankfully, the Conservative Party will be there for us, if we need anything… because that’s not political.

In short, Harper is trying to construe politics – the very processes by which we, as a democratic society, ought to have broad discussions on our priorities and how we might live together – as something that we shouldn’t ever want to get involved in, so that he and his Conservative Party have all the control, all the power, and can do whatever they want.

And when I see this happening, I can’t believe that I actually study politics.

Over the past week and a bit, a number of ridiculous political events have taken place that serve to undermine the concept of the political in Canadian discourses.

(continued after the break!)

Continue reading There are times that I can’t believe I study politics.

The Police State Infects An Apathetic Canada

Not to sound too alarmist or impolite, but what do you call a country with governments that do the following:

  1. arrest peaceful protesters and innocent bystanders in/near a designated free speech zone under non-existent laws, then beat, intimidate and abuse them,
  2. declare a panel discussion at a public university to be a demonstration to arrest someone for a probation violation,
  3. define protest to be a mental or personality disorder to lock up an 82-year-old devoted protester for the rest of her life.

I would call this a totalitarian, authoritarian, gulag-loving police state. Welcome to the Canada and BC of Stephen Harper and Gordon Campbell in 2010.

I’m not making up this nonsense.

Number 1 happened to hundreds of people in Toronto during the G20 in June. Numbers 2 and 3 happened in the last 4 days in Toronto to Alex Hundert and in BC to Betty Krawczyk, which you can read about here and here.

What are we supposed to do to get people’s attention to the arbitrary suspension of civil liberties?

  • use all caps?
  • write a sensational editorial title like “The Police State Date Rapes Canada”?
  • spam everyone?
  • scream at people at train stations and bus stops?
  • stop whining, and just join the apathetic masses?

This police state has slipped into Canada without significant criticism from the mainstream corporate media or the governing Conservative-Liberal coalition in Ottawa.

The goal is, of course, for the political leadership in Canada and BC to intimidate and terrorize the population so much that we choose to avoid public dissent, protest or even assembly.

The rule of law is an ass this year in Canada.

Our leaders openly mock it.

My hope is in Don Davies, NDP MP and vice-chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. They will continue meeting soon to discuss the G20 debacle which threatened the fabric and principles of Canada’s democracy, and as of Friday night, is obviously a continuing threat. Contact him by email or here.

My other advice is for all of us to contact all the members of the House of Commons Public Safety Committee and let them know that the police do not have the right to arrest people under fictional laws. Nor are police allowed to arrest someone because they declare a public meeting at a public university to be a protest just to violate that person’s parole.

Charges were never even filed for hundreds of people arrested at the G20. This parole violation arrest Friday night will also not stand up in court.

Here are their email addresses for easy pasting [new members updated 10.11.10]:













We should also contact the BC Liberal premier and attorney-general and let them know that protest is a vital part of a democracy, not a mental or personality disorder.

We should also spread these stories to our people, our networks, our social media existence.

We should also send these stories to the journalists in the country that we respect. It doesn’t matter if they are local, provincial, national, tv, newspaper, online, or magazine.

We must make the bad people stop. Right now, they are counting on the terror of arbitrary arrest and imprisonment to keep more of us from rallying.

So we need to change the climate before we take to the streets. Calling out a bully is a critical tactic. We have to call out our political leaders to keep Canada from becoming more of a gulag that it is already slipping into.