Canada’s Totalitarian Shift

 By Mark Taliano 

Harper’s Canada slides towards totalitarianism while most Canadians look the other way… 

Naomi Wolf’s The End Of America, Letter Of Warning To A Young Patriot might just as well be named The End of Canada, since the Government of Canada, now re-branded the “Harper Government”, is following many of the steps that governments follow (in varying degrees) to transition away from democracy and into the murky world of totalitarianism. 

These, then, are the ignoble steps that Harper’s Canada is embracing to suppress the flames of liberty: 

 Invoke an External and Internal Threat. 

Harper sees the world outside Canada as a threat, so it follows that he sees the necessity of keeping Canada on a permanent war footing. At the June, 2011 Conservative convention, when asked by Macleans editor Kenneth Whyte whether we were “in a great conflict or heading towards one,” Harper responded, “I think we always are.”  (Yves Engler, Militarism On Rise In Conservative Canada). This world-view is the foundation for war-mongering. Harper’s obsession with purchasing single-sourced, untendered offensive warplanes from MacDonald Douglas aligns itself with this notion that we are surrounded by external threats. Increased military spending is being prioritized while much needed spending on health care, is being reduced. Health transfers to provinces are being significantly reduced.

Harper’s harmonization with the U.S Homeland Security, as it applies to border policing, and thus his alignment with the “War On Terror”, is also part of the external threat manufactured by the government. 

Additionally, there is a growing list of manufactured internal threats in Harper’s world. Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations and Aboriginal Groups, as well as competing industries, are deemed to be “adversaries” and therefore internal threats,  presumably because they oppose poorly regulated tar sands exploitation and the ensuing “externalities” such as environmental devastation and accelerated global warming.   A copy of a federal document detailing adversaries and allies is included here. 

Cast criticism as espionage and dissent as treason

Instead of welcoming dissent and working with citizens, the government frames opposition to corporate policies as espionage and treason.  When NDP’er Megan Leslie opposed the Keystone XL pipeline on a trip to Washington, she was accused of treachery. 

Recasting democratic dissent as unpatriotic is a common totalitarian ploy which enables Surveillance Inc. 

Surveil Ordinary Citizens

The surveillance industrial complex flourishes and is a good friend of totalitarian fear-mongering, but again, it is bad for democracy.  This industry is enabled (and democracy weakened) by less civilian oversight.  Thus, it came as no surprise when the job of Inspector General for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was axed. And, a new low for Canada, Conservative legislation gives the RCMP, the Canadian Border Services Agency, and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the authority to use torture-tainted information. 

Current international negotiations over the Trans Pacific Partnership show that once passed, the TPP will be a boon for Surveillance Inc. and a staggering assault on internet freedom.  It will be yet another form of censorship, and another assault on freedom. It is no surprise, then, that corporations are insisting that the negotiations be secretive.

 Bill 30, part of Surveillance Inc, is a huge infringement on personal privacy, which  enables warrantless access to personal internet activity. It looks like this . 

Arbitrarily Detain And Release Citizens

Another specialty of the Harper Regime is the arbitrary detention and release of citizens.

At the G-20 in Toronto (June, 2010), site of the largest mass arrests in Canadian history,   police detained, and subsequently released over 900 people. Only 99 criminal charges were laid.  More recently, Derek Soberall, founder of the Occupy Canada web page, was the target of “detain and release” tactics.  Fortunately, the courts exonerated him of all charges.

Democratic expressions of dissent are suppressed when citizens fear arbitrary detention, and this of course is what corporate powers want.  Peaceful, well-articulated demonstrators, are a nightmare for oligarchs.

Infiltrate Civilian Groups  

Infiltrating civilian groups creates an atmosphere of distrust within such groups, and so it, too, is another method of suppression.  Likewise, the use of agents provocateurs serves to change the tone of peaceful protest and create violence, which, in turn, provides an opportunity for the regime to criminalize dissent and clamp down on protestors.

The burning police cruiser was the focus of electronic media during the G-20 in Toronto because it “captured” an audience.  However, the fact that the police did not intervene reveals that they were using the violence of Black Bloc (and possibly agents provocateurs) as a tool to rationalize a clamp down on all protestors, the vast majority of whom were peaceful.  This, of course, aligns itself with the Chris Hedge’s observation that the Black Bloc is a cancer to Occupy. 

Subvert The Rule Of Law

Subversion of the rule of law and the introduction of police state laws are the regime’s response to the Maple Spring in Quebec. Anti-protest laws are clearly compatible with totalitarian operations, and completely anathema to the Canadian Charter Of Rights And Freedoms (Canada’s Constitution), which codifies Canadians’ rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of expression.  The Quebec protesters are fighting against the downloading of 1% expenses on the 99%, as manifested by increased tuition fees, but they are also addressing wider issues of neo-liberal repression, and the totalitarian nature of Harper’s Canada and Charest’s Quebec. 

More recently, after six months of Canada’s longest running student demonstrations, Jean Charest lost the provincial election, and will be replaced by Pauline Marois, premier-elect and leader of the Parti Québécois. She has promised to cancel tuition hikes, and to repeal

Bill 78, known as Law 12.

Electoral Fraud is a staple of totalitarian regimes.  Every totalitarian government likes to rig elections and commit electoral fraud, and the Harper regime is no different.  Despite substantive and growing evidence of electoral fraud in the 2011 election, and the ensuing public outcry for an Independent Inquiry, Canadians are left with a submissive Elections Canada lapdog which is uncooperative with investigators, and which is limiting its “investigation” to one riding.  Fortunately, the “radical”: non-governmental agency Council Of Canadians is pursuing legal actions despite the roadblocks presented to it by the regime.

Restrict The Press

The “Canadian” press is self-restricting in the sense that most of Canada’s media is owned by huge conglomerates that benefit from neoliberal corporate tax cuts and the rush of wealth upwards to the 1%.  Careerist writers know when to self-censor, which topics to broach, and which to ignore.  Essentially, they are their own gatekeepers.  The term neoliberalism is rarely broached, nor is the phrase “man-made global warming.”  Why?  Because the corporate owners support the insular Ignorance Industry of man-made climate change denial and unfettered capitalism, despite the known risks to the planet and the already withering world economy.

The breakdown of media ownership in Canada looks like this:

Considering the accumulating evidence that aligns itself with the modus operandi of  totalitarian regimes,  the Harper Government,  enthralled as it is by corporate influences and the neoliberal agenda, is clearly shifting away from democracy, and into totalitarianism.  Democracy lost its voice when the Harper majority chose to prioritize corporate interests over democratic governance.

The brilliance of this totalitarian shift, though, is that many Canadians remain unaware that their government, and its corporate agenda, is turning Canada and its workforce into a commodified zone, where products and people are to be used and exploited.

Mark Taliano is a Niagara resident and a regular contributor of news and commentary to Niagara At Large.

(Niagara At Large invites everyone to comment on this post just so long as they do what Mark Taliano and others who post commentary on this site do, and share their first and last names with their comments.)


18 responses to “Canada’s Totalitarian Shift

  1. Love the picture, great job!


  2. The Canada envisioned by the 1960s Prime Minister Lester Pearson is practically dead, the idea that Canada would stand as a beacon of peace and an arbitrator in conflicts, no longer resonates in todays world, some of that could be attributed to the make up of the Agencies within the United Nations, when they add despotic leaders, to human rights posts, they the third world, have appointed thugs and murderers of citizens to elevated status,We are no longer a voice in the world,and shrinking back from taking a stand for humanity. We have embraced the principles of the Corporations that have more in common with the robber barons of a century ago.Canada’s citizens many of whom are very unhappy with this new direction we are taking , are protesting and verbal in their condemnation of our place in the New World Order.


  3. Canada’s last 3 fraud elections:

    Harper cheated in 2006 with in-and-out fraudulent transactions to get around spending limits.

    Harper cheated in 2008 by calling an illegal election.

    Harper cheated in 2011 with misleading and deceptive phone calls.

    Stephen Harper is not our Prime Minister. Harper stole all 3 last elections. It’s much worse than we’ll ever know.


  4. Constantine Tsantis

    Thank you very much indeed for this piece. Great work!


  5. … I think that the only way we can obtain a respectfull democracy is if the entire world agree with it. Not a damn country-governement will be good if he find himself at the middle of political chaos. A world-wide governement, just like in somes sci-fi movies, where they get very far on the road of progress. We are stuck at the kind of unaware situation like the present ”Harper’s Governement”. It’s complete nonsense. When will we be braves enought to admit it?


  6. Gerry Chamberland

    A well researched and articulated article. Now if only the rest of Canada could read it and understand the massive changes occurring in Canada. My Canada is quickly disappearing.


  7. Alan Gregg’s speech at Carleton last week “1984 in 2012-The Assault on Reason” is a barnburner. Whether you like this man or not, find it, and I believe most will agree with much of what he says. The list is long. A friend who has no partisan table to pound, was most impressed.

    And now we can look forward to a second Omnibus Bill from Harper, which only the budget or finance committee gets to vet. Wait for the next shoe to drop.


  8. How anybody can still continue to support Harper today … I don’t know. I don’t understand. Fortunately, even some Conservatives are starting to question various issues. We need to spread the word, tell the truth about what is happening, and get people to get their faces out of the Sun Media and get them to at least look at alternative media and other media groups.


  9. This is a critical assault on Canadian democracy. The NDP, Liberals and Green Party need to cooperate and co-sponser a program of democratic and electoral reform and to cooperate fully on a riding by riding basis to defeat the conservatives in 2015. All three parties’ support is in excess of 60% (the conservative support lies somewhere between 40% and 30% and yet they won enough seats to form a majority government. The first past the post system is a total failure and Canadian democracy is broken. All non conservative progressive forces are going to have to work together in some fashion to reform and save our Constitutional democracy. Only we can do it. Get involved in electoral reform and building a united center left for the next federal election!


  10. Lorne Edward Bishop

    I could not agree more with the majority comments although the alternatives are much scarier and believe it or not Harper is the best choice we have at least right now.
    Definately the Canada most of my relatives died fighting for is lost but i can’t really blame that on government as they are merely a reflection of the people they serve. I find it interesting that a lot of Canadians like to pass off responsibility on governments but do little on a personal basis to enhance or reflect what they vote for and in that regard are generaly hipocrites.
    Until every single Canadian who enjoys rights pays the price for murdering and effectively causing the gencide of the Lubicon people (and thats just for starters) they will have zero credibility on any other issue. You can all hang Harper for it but it won’t change the fact your a bunch of murderers who are reaping the benifits of things that never belonged to you in the first place. If governments suck, the people suck more. You all need to get your shit together and take direct responibility for this country. Governments can’t do it alone.


  11. I do not recognize harphole as our PM. He is nothing more than a fraud, he should be behind bars not running this country. He gave himself a pension of $230,000.00 per year. He must know his political career is toast after his term is up. My question is why did we as the citizens of this country have no say in how much he should receive, our political system does not work. Majority or not this a- hole should be OUT, and the only alternative is the Green Party, because the other parties are just as corrupt. NDP and Libreal, I prefer clean air, fresh water over an oil soaked lake or river.


  12. Your right Rob,Green is really the only choice,the other two can’t stop bickering long enough to take any real action to try and stop Heir Harper,and he must be stopped.Your also right about Harper seeing the writing on the wall,he going to take as much as his greedy hands can grab before he booted out of office. The big problem, when he finally is gone is,it’s gonna take quite awhile to undo all the destruction he’s done to Canada.Too bad we just couldn’t get rid of him right now,like a rabid dog.


  13. Xander Dellaverdi

    My my my, no choices? These persons are elected to represent the people, it is our duty as citizens to take up the streets and put pressure on the govt if the persons we elected are working against the interests of the same people who put them there at first! We do have choices, thing is, we are scared. Scared to lose our job, get our income reduced, leave for a while the reassuring comfort of our little routine. We put these people on pedestals like they are our masters and we all have to endure… Thing is, they work for us and when we have an employee who doesnt do what he got hired for and makes the company look bad we dismiss him!!! dont we? wouldnt you? that’s what happen to all of us if we dont do what we are hired for, why would it be different for our first representative? As one of Canada ”shareholder” i would dismiss him since bill C-38 but too many other owners doesnt care or know anything about what is going on. Let’s stick to our little routine, let’s forget about all the corruption, our loss of liberty, the corpocracy, the destruction of our beautiful country in the name of our new god the Economy!!!! Let’s anesthetize our ability to think and act like REAL FREE CITIZENS with consumerism,… because we don’t care what happens next, we don’t have time to take a day off to protest on the streets, let alone go on national strike…. damn i wouldn’t wish to let go a tidbit of that purchase power, i need to buy that 60inch flat screen so i can watch the news at breakfast and eat the mass medias propaganda with a big table spoon of gmo cereals with gmo milk…. sounds like a plan aint it!? Ooooh what a sweet future for subsequent generations… what a lineage we offer them!!


    • Dear Xander, A long time ago I studied for the Ministry, and was a preacher for a little while, I got married and providing for a young family my dreams of serving as a minister were put on hold., my knowledge of the Jewish,Moslem and Christian religions,and what is considered Kosher or Halal and allowed for Christians to eat,has lot to do with foods that can become very toxic and kill whomever eats them, pork, shell fish, and strangled meats can wipe whole villages of people, This has happened among cannibalistic society’s These GM crops that carry toxic genes are not allowed as foods for people, who adhere to religious edicts. My maternal grandfather was a preacher who died of the Spanish flu., he was a travelling preacher who spoke the Welsh I wanted to carry on a family tradition, I. think that all 3 religious communities should get involved in fighting GM foods, as the Stephen Harper government is ramming these toxic and banned substances down our throats literally.


  14. Patricia Forbes

    Thank you very much for writing and publishing this article. As an ex-pat Canadian, it has been and continues to be very painful to watch the destruction of Canadian democracy from abroad.
    One alarming fact for those of us who live abroad is that Harper changed the voting regulations: unless you work as a diplomat or for a multi-national corporation, you can no longer vote in Canadian elections if you have lived longer than 5 years abroad.
    Oh, Canada……….


  15. As the US and Canada move surely into fascism, some of us continue to “shop until we drop,” while our freedoms disappear. It really is time to rise!!


  16. I’m definitely not happy with harper. He takes an unbalanced and obviously biased approach to his foreign policy…


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