Tag Archives: State propaganda

RCMP chief’s illogical, incoherent arguments for eroding online privacy printed unchallenged by Canadian Press

RCMP chief Bob Paulson wants your private information (Image credit: RCMP)

RCMP chief Bob Paulson wants your private information (Image credit: RCMP)

RCMP Chief Bob Paulson (no, not that Robert Paulson!), apparently unsatisfied with the massive increase in powers the Mounties received under C-51, spoke Wednesday on the force’s “need” to access people’s Internet subscriber information without a warrant, despite a recent Supreme Court ruling barring the police from doing exactly that.

I wrote in September about the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs’ identical demand, issued in conjunction with demands to allow them to search the mail and seize people’s phone numbers without warrants, part of a troubling trend among law enforcement agencies of ceaselessly asking for more and more powers.

Paulson, speaking before a panel at Securetech, a trade show put on by the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries, put on a master-class in fallacious argumentation, which the Canadian Press was only too happy to stenographically regurgitate into newspapers across the country.

I’d like to take a look at some of Paulson’s more preposterous points, starting with this little gem of a false analogy:

“I’m all for warrantless access to subscriber info,” Paulson told a security conference in Ottawa, comparing the process to his beat-cop days of entering licence-plate data into a computer and coming up with a vehicle owner’s name.

“If I had to get a judge on the phone every time I wanted to run a licence plate when I was doing my policing, there wouldn’t have been much policing getting done.”

The level of sheer stupidity which forms the foundation of this argument is unbelievable.  Continue Reading

ICYMI: Information is a weapon, says the Department of Defence

One of the first casualties of increasingly dictatorial governments is plain, honest language. Everything becomes wrapped in euphemism. Illegal bombing campaigns become non-combat operations. Rights-violating laws become safety-enhancement measures. Shooting wars become kinetic operations. Recessions become merely technical and are better left unmentioned.

So it’s refreshing, in some senses, that Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. John Vance eschewed euphemism in describing his plans for his department’s plans vis-a-vis public information – he intends to “weaponize” it.

That’s about the only encouraging aspect of this story, which David Pugliese at the Ottawa Citizen broke last week and which didn’t get nearly as much attention as it deserved.

Some key quotes:

There will be more strategic leaks by the Canadian Forces/DND to journalists who are deemed “friendly” to the military. Such leaks will consist mainly of “good news” stories or positive initiatives and the journalists will be required to heavily promote those.

Equally important, is the flip-side of this “weaponization” strategy. That is the targeting of journalists who are writing or broadcasting the stories that the CF/DND don’t want out in the public domain.

Journalists seen as “trouble-makers” are those producing stories about failed equipment purchases or uncovering details about severely injured soldiers not being treated properly or individuals being sexually harassed, etc., public affairs officers tell Defence Watch.  In other words, reporters who are producing what the CF/DND views as negative or embarrassing news stories.

The “weaponization” aspect will come into play with phone calls to media bosses, letters to the editor, etc. – anything to undercut the credibility of such journalists in the eyes of readers and their employers, NDHQ public affairs sources say. Other tactics aimed at these journalists could also be developed.

In other words: journalists who do their jobs by uncovering newsworthy information and sharing it with the public will be treated as pesky “trouble-makers” by the Department of National Defence, which will do anything in their power to “undercut their credibility” in the eyes of the public.  Continue Reading

Justin Trudeau: He didn’t come back for you, either

Imagine, if you will, somebody who only gets their news from Conservative Party attack ads.

It’s not as far-fetched as it might sound – it’s perilously easy to avoid paying any attention to what goes on in the world, but political advertising penetrates the farthest reaches of classic rock radio and sports highlight reels.

Such a person as we’ve imagined would be quite justified in wondering why, exactly, anybody in their right mind would vote for Justin Trudeau or his party.

It’s a fair question, to be sure. I think it’s safe to say that if Trudeau ever had a brain, at this point it’s been surgically removed and replaced by a committee of pollsters, focus group analysts, cigar-smoking backroom party strategists, and ordinary middle-class soccer moms. His every utterance is calculated for maximum political effect on swing voters, his party’s platform a hodgepodge collage of popular ideas cadged from any source he could get his hands on. (See this brilliant takedown of his recently announced electoral strategy.) If the man’s had an original thought in the last decade, he’s kept it to himself.

But this line of argument would be foreign to our hypothetical attack-ad-saturated individual. No, they would have a somewhat different view of Trudeau; he would seem to them to be dangerous, a man unhinged, bent on power at all costs, lacking in any basic human decency, a friend to our enemies and a menace to the nation. Just look at what the Conservative Party has paid advertising firms to say about him (CW: graphic violence against prisoners): Continue Reading

Stephen Harper wants YOU to be terrified

Another deep dive into a Stephen Harper speech designed to provoke fear in your hearts
harper protecting canadians

Good ol’ Steve, keeping us safe! (Image credit: pm.gc.ca)

As the Conservatives continue to slip in the polls going into the summer, Harper and his strategists seem to have seized upon the George-W-Bush-circa-2004 strategy for trying to get a not-so-popular government reelected – wrap yourselves in the flag and hype the so-called “terror threat” for all it’s worth. (We’ll have to wait and see whether the HarperCons employ the same kinds of dirty tricks and low-blow character assassinations that the Bush/Cheney ’04 campaign ran, although given the deep institutional links between the Conservative and Republican Parties, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.)

Harper’s terror fixation has been on full display for the past few weeks. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen him posing in front of the same podium, which vaguely claims he is “Protecting Canadians” from unspecified threats.

First there was his super-secret-undercover-agent trip to Iraq for photo opportunities and fear-mongering, with a bleary-eyed press in tow. (I wrote up his trip here  and his speech to the troops here.)

Then there was the overhyped RCMP raid on a Montreal airport, in which they detained (but didn’t arrest or charge) ten young people allegedly attempting to travel abroad to join ISIS. (Link is to the Toronto Sun purely for the totally unrelated but provocative photo.) These highly-publicized but mostly insubstantial detainments were closely followed by a major Prime Ministerial announcement at that same airport that the Government of Canada was going to give the Mounties and the Canadian Border Services Agency even more money to keep doin’ what they’re doin’.

And most recently, right here in Toronto, Steve announced that we haven’t surrendered enough dollars or enough liberty quite yet to keep the terrorists at bay – we need to also give more money to CSIS so they can collect biometric information on pretty much everybody who enters Canada.

As I did with his fear-mongering hate speech in Iraq, I’d like to take a close look at Harper’s statement in Toronto, examining it both for its truth-value (low) and its propaganda value (high). I think it’s a useful indicator of what we can expect from the HarperCons in the election campaign this fall, and I hope that the more his rhetoric gets exposed and picked apart, the less effective it’ll be. Continue Reading

Bill C-51, Jenni Byrne, and the “reality-based community”

Reading the Globe’s best attempt at a profile of Jenni Byrne today, I was struck by how resolutely on-message the woman is.

Byrne, for those who don’t know – and she’s done her best to make sure that most people don’t – is the Karl Rove to Stephen Harper’s George “Dubya” Bush, the secret strategist behind the throne, the master of messaging and spinning and damage controlling.

In stark contrast to Rove, however, Byrne’s name is unfamiliar to all but the most die-hard politicos. She declined repeated requests for an interview with the Globe (although she did dispatch people loyal to her to provide quotes for the story and to rebut specific criticisms on her behalf). Her Twitter feed is a mix of anodyne hockey-related posts and retweets of government propaganda.

Rove, by contrast, was quite public about his influence, and become a fixture on Fox News. On Election Night in 2012, he very publicly (and somewhat suspiciously, given the history) tried to cast doubt on Fox’s projection that Obama had won Ohio and the presidency. He even went on Colbert.

Karl Ham Rove and Stephen Colbert talking some serious policy

But their methods are strikingly similar. Continue Reading

HypocrISISy and the House of Saud – The Canadian Government’s Double Standard on Radical Islam

There is a group currently terrorizing large sections of the Middle East.

Using a radical interpretation of Islam as their pretext, they treat women and minorities horrifically. They are internationally renowned for their beheadings and public floggings of “heretics” and “witches”. The United Nations and major human rights organizations have accused them of war crimes and of violating international law. In their most recent offensive, hundreds of innocent civilians have died, and access to medical care has been cut off for millions.

They are the House of Saud, rulers of Saudi Arabia and one of Canada’s partners in the war against ISIS and the bombing campaign in Syria. And the Canadian government confirmed today that it is proceeding with a $15-billion sale of weaponry, notwithstanding the kingdom’s atrocious human rights record.

In fact, the government insists that it doesn’t need to justify the purchase to the public.

From the Globe:

The Department of Foreign Affairs argues it must keep deliberations secret regarding this deal – by far the largest export contract ever brokered by Ottawa – citing the need to protect the “commercial confidentiality” of General Dynamics Land Systems Canada, which makes the light armoured vehicles.

Ottawa maintains this despite the fact that Foreign Affairs, by its own stated rules, is required to screen requests to export military goods to countries “whose governments have a persistent record of serious violations of the human rights of their citizens.” Among other things, it must obtain assurances “there is no reasonable risk that the goods might be used against the civilian population.” [my emphasis]

When it comes to persistently violating the human rights of its citizens, few countries can rival Saudi Arabia. Indeed, its record of human rights violations is well-known, although few Western nations are willing to call it out on the virtual enslavement of its women or its incredibly harsh treatment of dissidents. Human Rights Watch summed up the situation in this commentary from shortly after the recent death of Saudi King Abdullah: Continue Reading

The ISIS racket

The fall of Ramadi to the Islamic State over a pretty-much-done-with-this-shit Iraqi army earlier this week has helped to clarify a few aspects of this latest twist in the ongoing, never-ending, self-perpetuating “Global War on Terror”.

Before we dive in, let’s let b over at Moon of Alabama bring us up to speed on this conquest:

The Islamic State took Ramadi with the help of armored bulldozers and some 10 suicide vehicles. That many of the nominal defenders of the city had no real will to fight also helped. But there is another important actor that allowed it to happen. In the critical 24 hours the U.S. coalition which had promised to defend Iraq and to defeat the Islamic State launched just seven air strikes and all only against minor ISIS targets around the city. That’s like nothing.

Pretty much. Which kinda puts the lie to US Secretary of Defence Ashton Kutcher Carter’s furious denunciation of the Iraqi army on the Sunday morning political love-in yesterday: Continue Reading

News from the frontlines of Canada’s glorious non-combat operation

The release of the federal budget two weeks ago unofficialy ushered in Campaign Season 2015, marking the beginning of posturing and jockeying for headlines and advantage.

The HarperCons did their damndest to hammer home the notion that they’re strong stewards of the economy, despite the fact that the economy has pretty much been shit the whole time they’ve been in power and they had to essentially cook the books to get to a surplus.

Pundits responded to the government’s surplus triumphalism with a pretty big “meh.”

Trudeau’s Liberals countered by announcing the Very Exciting News that barely-out-of-office ex-chief of police Bill Blair was going to run for Parliament.

The announcement didn’t go over quite as well as the Libs had hoped, what with all the awkward questions about the G20 (and Trudeau declaring that it wasn’t his place to judge the arbitrary detaining of 1100 people, the atrocious conditions in which they were held, the horrific violence visited upon peaceful protestors and innocent bystanders, or really any of the TPS’ questionable conduct during the 2010 summit).

Then there was the spotlight that it shone on Trudeau’s repeatedly broken promise to allow open nominations in every riding, with even the hapless National Post poking fun at the Liberaleader.

Which is to say that so far, Campaign 2015 has been going pretty poorly for the two heavyweight parties so far. And with a near-tie in the most recent polls, both were looking for some kind of action.

Continue Reading

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