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Stephen Harper might not have studied the society in George Orwell’s classic, 1984. He prefers to read just about politics – or hockey – we're told.
So it may simply be a coincidence that since the Conservatives won their majority, Harper has been acting a lot like Big Brother.
Titles like “The Fair Elections Act” and the “Jobs, Growth and Long Term Prosperity Act” reek of “newspeak”, the manufactured language in Orwell’s dark and pessimistic novel.
Orwell laid out a dystopian world of endless and invasive propaganda, and rigid control of all personal behaviours by a central government which distracts its citizens from their dreary lives of subjugation with fabricated news of conflicts with two other far-away world powers.
Stephen Harper is relentlessly – he likes to say "incrementally" – trying to move Canadian society towards a pattern of 1984-like dreariness, in which nation states are reported to be in constant far-away conflict with one another, and the actions of ordinary citizens at home are shaped by a central authority, which strictly regulates the flow of information – who gets to learn about what.
Our current prime minister – let’s just call him that – is trying to persuade us that ISIS, far away in northeastern Iraq and Syria, is a big threat to Canada’s security, and that Vladimir Putin, whose national economy is in serious trouble, is somehow going to destabilize world politics – that is unless he, Stephen Harper, protects Canada. This can only be believable in a nation thrust into an information bubble created by the central government itself, a nation suffocating under a barrage of carefully crafted communications, stripped of contrary facts furnished by reporters or independent experts.
Renowned military historian and author Gwynne Dyer, who knows a hell of a lot more about terrorism than Stephen Harper does, has clearly shown that the threats to Canada from either of these sources is simply made up. But in a world where state-generated news reports form the ubiquitous background noise of daily existence, this sort of hard truth fails.
Climate denial is the key element in Stephen Harper’s manufactured vision
The prime minister of the world’s 9th largest economy has created a special place for himself in history as the arch-dinosaur, among so-called developed countries, of global climate change deniers, creating a surreal scenario for Canada's citizens, far removed from scientific consensus.
Along with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Canada’s political leader has become the bottom feeder in the world of addressing the urgent problem of climate change.
Recently an independent “Climate Change Performance Index” placed the regimes of Tony Abbott and Stephen Harper at #57 and #58 respectively out of 61 countries claiming to address climate change, with worse records held only by Iran, Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia.
Canada has 0.5% of the world’s population but produces 1.58% of the world’s CO2; in other words, we’re producing more than 3 times our share of the planet’s main greenhouse gas.
Since he's bending the truth into the shape he wants us to see, Harper, unsurprisingly, praises his own policies as 'green' and his decisions to block environmental oversight as some kind of laudable 'progress'.
"Reading the Harper government's claims about its climate efforts is like reading one of Orwell's books," Mark Jaccard, professor at Simon Fraser University's School of Resource and Environment Management, told Carol Linnett of DeSmogblog.
"Eliminating policy is to implement policy. Blocking and abandoning global negotiations is to lead global negotiations. Muzzling scientists is to have science inform decision-making. Working hard to increase carbon pollution is to decrease it. Black is white. Dishonesty is truth."
Not everyone wants to live in Stephen Harper's world
Times are a’changin’, and the world is catching up to Stephen Harper’s Orwellian aspirations and his resultant behaviour.
A recent attempt to control the campaign process by forcing every person attending a Harper election campaign event to agree not to share “any description, account, picture or reproduction of the event” has been dropped because of widespread outrage, although those attending will still be pre-screened for ‘suitability’ by Conservative party staffers.
The fact that he tried to put a gag on the public is entirely consistent with the general pattern of his rules of engagement with Canadian citizens. To maintain his carefully crafted Conservative illusion, Big Brother Stephen Harper's modus operandi has been: Repress, Suppress -- Success.
A dystopia -- a "not-good-place" in the original Greek -- is an imaginary community or society that is undesirable or frightening. It's the opposite of "utopia".
Canada is still a democracy, despite Stephen Harper's machinations. It's not yet a dystopia.
On voting day, on October 19th, in Canada's 2015 federal election, Canadians should vote for something other than Stephen Harper's dismal vision.