No 747 Posted by fw, May 15, 2013
Here’s the 4-minute video ad SHD.ca wants you to help get aired on the NHL playoffs
Help ShitHarperDid.ca kick the Harper Government Right in the TV
To make a contribution to this worthy cause, click here.
No 733 Posted by fw, May 01, 2013
“Alas… it seems as though our government’s use of evidence and facts as the basis of policy is declining, and in their place, dogma, whim and political expediency are on the rise…. Even more troubling, especially from the perspective of a public opinion researcher, is that Canadians seem to be, if not buying it, certainly accepting it.” —Allan Gregg
In a 39-minute speech at the annual convention of the Alberta Federation of Labour on April 27, 2013, “Long-time Tory pollster and strategist Allan Gregg ripped into the Harper Government … for what he termed its ‘systematic attack on evidence-based research.’” Below is journalist David Climenhaga’s selected highlights of the speech. Click on the linked title to read David’s original account. Or read the following reprint with added subheadings. In addition, there are SEE ALSO links to an embedded video of the complete speech at the end of this post along with a link to a transcript of a 2012 version of Gregg’s speech.
Gregg’s “eye-popping” attack on Harper ignored by Alberta’s mainstream media
Long-time Tory pollster and strategist Allan Gregg ripped into the Harper Government on Saturday for what he termed its “systematic attack on evidence-based research.”
But since Mr. Gregg was speaking to the annual convention of the Alberta Federation of Labour, his startling comments went completely unremarked by Alberta’s mainstream media – notwithstanding the readily available “local angle” of an Edmonton native who did well in the big cities down east returning to his old stomping ground for a few hours.
Back in the day, Mr. Gregg was an influential pollster for the then-still-Progressive Conservatives under prime ministers Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney, and a proponent of negative political advertising. He is credited with having devised the cruel images of Liberal Jean Chretien that went so badly awry for the Conservatives in the 1993 federal election. Perhaps that is why by 2001 Mr. Gregg had undergone a much-publicized change of heart on that topic.
Nevertheless, Mr. Gregg’s harsh view of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, given his history of service to Canada’s Conservatives, was eye-popping – although it is perhaps less so when one considers the fellow has made his money for decades toiling in the field of public opinion research, which inevitably encourages a certain respect for measurable facts.
Harper replaces evidence and reason with “dogma, whim and political expediency”
Indeed, that background no doubt informed his view that “effective solutions can only be generated when they correspond with accurate understanding of the problems they are designed to solve. Evidence, facts and reason, therefore, form the sine qua non not just of good public policy, but of good value.”
Alas, as Mr. Gregg told the 500 or so trade unionists at the AFL conference, “it seems as though our government’s use of evidence and facts as the basis of policy is declining, and in their place, dogma, whim and political expediency are on the rise.”
It’s even more troubling that accepting Canadians are allowing Harper to get away with it
He added: “Even more troubling, especially from the perspective of a public opinion researcher, is that Canadians seem to be, if not buying it, certainly accepting it.”
Harper’s track record in gutting evidence-based government
Mr. Gregg cited a long list of evidence-based government activities that have been gutted by the Harper Government – often saving only insignificant amounts of money – since 2010.
It was pretty quickly clear to Mr. Gregg – as it was to many of the rest of us – that there was indeed something larger going on.
Harper offers no evidentiary basis for multi-billion-dollar spending boondoggles
At the same time, the government proposed multi-billion-dollar spending where the evidence didn’t support it – as in its penitentiary-building spree. “This flew directly in the face of a mountain of evidence that suggested that crime, far from being on the rise, was on the decline,” noted Mr. Gregg. “This struck me as costly, unnecessary. But knowing the government’s intention to define itself as tough on crime before all else, once can see, at least ideologically, why they did it.”
Harper deliberately attempting to obliterate legitimate government programs and eliminate opposing voices
However, he said, “when the specific cuts started to roll out, it became clear that something else was starting to take shape” – something that went beyond mere ideology.
“This was no random act of downsizing, but a deliberate attempt to obliterate certain activities that were previously viewed as a legitimate part of government decision making,” Mr. Gregg stated. “Namely, using research, science and evidence as the basis to make public policy decisions.
“It also amounted to an attempt to eliminate anyone who would use science, facts and evidence to challenge government policies,” he added.
Harper’s Orwellian use of misleading titles for legislation and dissemination of misleading information
Mr. Gregg also assailed the Harper Government’s use of intentionally misleading titles for legislation – which often do the opposite of what their names declare, as in the case of the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, which will result in more pot smokers being thrown behind bars.
“In George Orwell’s 1984, the abandonment of reason is twinned not simply with unthinking orthodoxy, but also by the willful dissemination of misinformation,” he said. “Today, more and more, we see the same kind of misdirection and Newspeak in the behaviour of our legislators.”
Harper wants to hide the true purpose of legislation behind Doublespeak
So why does the Harper Government want to disguise the substance of its legislation, Mr. Gregg asked, when a “fulsome and rational debate” would help Canadians make the best decisions? The pretty obvious answer: “By obfuscating the true purpose of laws under the gobbledygook of Doublespeak, governments are admitting that their intentions probably lack both respect and support.”
His explanation in the case of the Harperites: “I do believe that this particular government is pursuing a not-so-hidden agenda that few truly understand. It starts from a premise that the Canadian political spectrum has over-swung in a direction of liberalism.”
Harper is out to “systematically right what they see as this wrong.”
Mr. Harper and his government, the pollster argued, intend to “systematically right what they see as this wrong.”
“Their problem is, notwithstanding the fairly widespread consensus around the orthodoxies of balanced budgets, market economies, open trade which does exist and is embraced by the public today, Canadians by and large still believe in tolerance, compromise and egalitarianism.
“Policy for them should be based on conviction, and not bloodless statistics. Governments should be guided by what they believe is morally right, and not by reason and rational compromise. From this view, science, statistics, reason, and rational compromise are not tools of enlightened public policy, but barriers to the pursuit of swinging that pendulum back to where they believe it belongs.
Devious Harper uses “stealth and circumvention” in place of “transparency and directness”
“So to realize this agenda, given that continued point of view on the part of the public, it becomes necessary to pursue it by stealth and circumvention rather than through transparency and directness. This too explains the apparent obsession with secrecy message control and misdirection we see every day coming out of Ottawa.”
Instead of reason, he said, the Harper Tories encourage “prejudice, fear and wishful thinking.”
Mr. Gregg may be a man who once favoured red shoes, wore a rock ‘n’ roll haircut, and worked for Brian Mulroney, but it’s hard to dispute his scary assessment of the Harper Government.
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No 727 Posted by fw, April 21, 2013
“[Producer] Tope la! clearly have a way with images, and all their videos, conceived as silent to facilitate releasing them bilingually, are expressive, allegorical and tightly wound. This one however, soars above the previous two and seems to connect with the zeitgeist of the moment as it so deftly articulates a feeling we all share at a deep, emotional level. I expect this video to strike a nerve with many Canadians, and I won’t be surprised in the slightest if it goes viral, expressing so deftly as it does the generalized rage felt by all Canadians who care a whit for the survival of our species, and our planet.” —Ethan Cox
Rabble’s Quebec correspondent, Ethan Cox, clearly has a way with words in his excellent review of this, the third in a series of campaign ads commissioned by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (Quebec and National Capital regions). The fourth and final video, Employment Insurance, is scheduled for online release on May 9.
To access the original rabble report, click on the following linked title. Alternatively, watch the embedded 2-minute video and read Ethan’s review (with my added sub-headings) in the post below.
It seems too much to ask Harper Cons to stop their two-faced hypocrisy
It’s no secret that the Harper government holds our natural environment in contempt. In fact, as Rick Mercer so saliently ranted recently, for many people the Conservative’s disdain for our environment is a significant selling point. Now if only, as Mercer put it, the Conservatives would stop insulting our collective intelligence by pretending to give a shit about climate change and sea turtles and the like, we could stop mocking their two-faced hypocrisy.
Sadly, this seems to be too much to ask, and Harper and his ministers persist in professing their love for trees and things, while all the while ravaging our natural environment. Recent cuts to environmental protection, which could reach a staggering 1.5 billion dollars by 2015, amount to slapping an ‘open for business’ sign on our pristine wilderness, and have sent hypocrisy detectors spinning out of control across the country.
PSAC video campaign gives voice to the rage so many of us feel
Thankfully, along comes the latest offering in an ongoing campaign by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (Quebec and National Capital regions), to articulate the screaming meemies of inchoate rage so many of us feel when presented with the words ‘Harper’ and environment’ in the same sentence.
This latest video graphically portrays Harper’s vile death by a thousand cuts to public services
The True Nature of the Harper Government is the third video in a series designed to draw attention to the dangerous character of Harper’s cuts to public services. Although it mirrors the slick production values and clever use of visual metaphor of the first two, targeting food safety and aviation security, this latest offering from Quebec production house Tope la! treats the complicated subject of cuts to environmental protection to a satirical send up which is pitch perfect.
The video opens on a woman, alone, drinking a glass of water in her living room. Her front door splinters under the impact of a jack booted foot, and two characters dressed in black suits and gas masks come crashing into her home. Seemingly stunned silent, she watches in disbelief as they kidnap her goldfish, pour dirt into its bowl, and uproot plants willy nilly. Having stolen the plants and animals (a parallel to the disappearance of wild plants and animals in response to rising levels of pollution), they leave behind dirt, destruction and a shattered home (read earth). The coup de grace however, comes as they advance on the terrified homeowner before leaving, lifting their masks and pausing to light a cigar, which one intruder puffs deeply on, before dropping it into the woman’s water glass.
No surprise if this video goes viral
There you have it, summed up in an allegorical silent film which clocks in at under two minutes: the abject contempt with which the Harperites treat those who dare advocate for a healthy environment. Tope la! clearly have a way with images, and all their videos, conceived as silent to facilitate releasing them bilingually, are expressive, allegorical and tightly wound. This one however, soars above the previous two and seems to connect with the zeitgeist of the moment as it so deftly articulates a feeling we all share at a deep, emotional level. I expect this video to strike a nerve with many Canadians, and I won’t be surprised in the slightest if it goes viral, expressing so deftly as it does the generalized rage felt by all Canadians who care a whit for the survival of our species, and our planet.
Harper Regime’s unforgivable sins of commission
In addition to the aforementioned 1.5 billion dollars of cuts to environmental protection, the campaign website points out that the Harper government has slashed laws protecting fisheries, navigable waterways and requiring environmental impact assessments, not to mention seriously soiling the bed when it comes to acting on the foremost challenge facing our generation: climate change.
A bump along the video ad road as invited public comments prove to be predictably crude
It bears mentioning that this campaign has not been free of snafus. Last week an interactive tool which allowed users to make up captions and insert them into thought bubbles over pictures of Stephen Harper was pulled after Canadians were predictably crude in their assessment of the Prime Minister.
PSAC should not be scared off by a few complaints – now is time for boldness, not timidity
The eagle-eyed may also have noticed that the name of the campaign has changed, with the original (and presumably overly provocative) “Harper hates us”, replaced with the inoffensive “No to the cuts.”
I think this gutlessness is unfortunate. PSAC are in nothing less than a battle for the soul of the country, not to mention countless thousands of their members’ jobs. If now is not the time to push the envelope, however slightly, then will such a time ever arrive? Canadians crave bold leadership, and yearn for strong challenges to the destructive ways of our government. If PSAC are scared off by a few complaints, and a hurt feeling or two, then how on earth do they propose to win a battle in which they are already prohibitive underdogs?
I hope that the union finds the steel in their backbone as the campaign rolls to a close, because gawd knows we could use a little fearless leadership. Harper’s goal is no secret, in fact it’s explicitly stated in his Economic Action Plan: “to make Canada the most attractive country in the world for resource investment and development.” Halting the sell-off of our precious natural resources, so that our environment may be preserved for future generations, is our challenge. Let’s get on it.
No goldfish or plants were harmed in the filming of this video :=)
Meanwhile, for those fearful for the poor goldfish, I am pleased to report that no innocent plants or animals were harmed in the production of this video, as a cheeky small print line at the bottom of the website declares. “About the video: After his stunning performance, the goldfish was immediately transferred to a big clean bowl. As for the plants, they have all been re-potted.”
For more information on the campaign, and to watch all the videos, visit the campaign website: notothecuts.ca
Ethan Cox is a 29 year-old journo, pundit and incorrigible rabble rouser from Montreal. A former union organizer and student union executive, Ethan has also worked on a number of successful municipal and federal election campaigns, and was a member of Quebec central office staff for the NDP in the 2011 election. More recently he served as Quebec Director and Senior Communications Advisor on Brian Topp’s NDP leadership campaign. He now spends his time writing for rabble, freelancing for outlets like the National Post, appearing regularly on CJAD radio in Montreal and working on a book about austerity. You can follow him on twitter @EthanCoxMtl