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The Regina Mom

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Bernadette Wagner is an award-winning writer, a community activist and a singer. Her work has been published in newspapers, magazines, chapbooks and anthologies, on radio, television, CD and film, as well as online. Her first collection of poetry is available from Thistledown Press. This summer, she participated in an international women's recording project, A Widening Embrace, a collection of love songs for Earth and all its beings.

Canada creeps towards becoming a closed society

| February 22, 2012

Nick Fillmore asks a question The Regina Mom has been grappling with for years: "Is Stephen Harper displaying fascist-like tendencies?" Ever since Naomi Wolf published "Ten Steps To Close Down an Open Society" at the Huffington Post in April, 2007, an essay has been brewing on TRM's computer. (Yes, TRM admits to being a slow writer.)

Wolf's research for that article became the book, The End of America, which documents "how open societies become closed societies." Her family's friends, Holocaust survivors, urged her to explore a few texts and the result was what she called a "blueprint" that has been adapted by several societies when making a shift from an open to a closed society. In the HuffPo piece she named 10 significant pieces of the blueprint and showed how they were at work in the USA at that time. To complement Nick Fillmore's work, TRM thought she'd finally share, in point form, what she discovered by placing Wolf's blueprint on Canada.

1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy

-  What's more terrifying to a parent than "child pornographers"? According to Vic Toews, The Regina Mom's opposition to Bill C-30 -- the Snoop and Spy bill -- means that she stands with "the child pornographers". How does that make a mother feel?

-  Women should be used to it, perhaps. Years ago, the Prime Minister suggested women's groups are of the "left-wing fringe."

-  More recently, as TRM has noted, on the eve of the Joint Energy Board's hearings on the Northern Gateway Pipeline, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver had choice words to describe those in opposition to the proposed pipeline. He painted "environmental and other radical groups" as those wanting to "block this opportunity to diversify our trade" regardless of "the cost to Canadian families in lost jobs and economic growth." The groups have a "radical ideological agenda" and will "exploit any loophole they can find" to "kill good projects" with "funding from foreign special interest groups to undermine Canada’s national economic interest."

2. Create a gulag

-  What is the purpose of new prisons when Canada's crime rate is falling? National Chief Sean Atleo understands.

-  Canadians can also rot in Guantanamo.

3. Develop a thug caste

-  The RCMP have proven to be thugs and are watched by the public. The taser attack on Robert Dzeikanski is but one instance of their thuggery. [Warning: It is difficult to watch.]

-  The Fifth Estate's documentary, Out of Control, about the suicide of Ashley Smith when she was improperly incarcerated in a penitentiary and allowed to die. [Warning: It is difficult to watch.]

-  The Canadian Race Relations Foundation has found reason to comment on policing in Canada.

-  Extreme violence attributed to white supremacist youth. A "dump" by the "hacktivist" group, Anonymous, confirmed that some of the accused are associated with neo-Nazi groups in the USA.

4. Set up an internal surveillance system

-  Since 9/11 Canadians have witnessed an alarming increase in surveillance measures. Are the new airport scanners and procedures are part of the scheme?

-  It looks as though Vancouver's making use of public cameras to invade privacy. So is Victoria.

What is Bill C-30 really about, anyway?

-  B.C.'s Civil Liberties Association reports on how we're moving towards a surveillance society.

5. Harass citizens' groups

-  Dennis Greunding has a list of citizens' groups which have faced funding cuts courtesy the current regime. TRM previously mentioned some, specifically those impacting women. Certainly these, when combined with more recent cuts to organizations such as the Mennonite Central Committee, constitute harassment.

Forest Ethics supports its former employee in his allegations that the PMO is trying to "to silence and intimidate non profit organizations like ForestEthics, and the thousands of citizens and civil groups who, like us, are concerned about the direction this country is taking and are speaking out."

-  The criminalization of dissent came as a creeping assault until the most noteable at the G20 demonstrations last year.

6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release

-  G20 protests were an exercise in arbitrary detention and release and suspension of civil rights, as pieced together by CBC's The Fifth Estate.

-  Saskatoon's "Starlight Tours" as highlighted in the NFB film Two Worlds Colliding, about the freezing death of Neil Stonechild at the hands of Saskatoon police officers.

7. Target key individuals

-  There have been pointed attacks on several individuals. The former head of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, Linda Keen, was harassed and fired over the shutdown of an aging nuclear reactor.

Richard Colvin, a diplomat, repeatedly raised concerns about Canada's practice of turning prisoners over to be tortured in Afghanistan. His character was repeatedly attacked by the government and he experiences continued harassment in his attempts to seek justice.

Franke James is a visual artist with a strong ecological leaning whose federal government funding for a show in Croatia was "suddenly cancelled by Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa, with the words, 'Who was the idiot who approved an art show by that woman, Franke James?'" She has asked and is currently awaiting a meeting with her MP, Joe Oliver, who announced he would meet with environmentalists if asked.

8. Control the press

-  The current government's propaganda machine is in full swing. Government secrecy is rampant.

-  Early on in the Conservatives' mandate the PMO set in motion new ways of co-ordinating and disseminating of news and information by the government of Canada.

The head of the RCMP must seek approval for publicity and access from the PMO or Minister Vic Toews' office.

-  The so-called "ethical oil" debate brought to light the interconnectedness of the PMO, Sun News and the oil industry spokespeople.

9. Dissent equals treason

-  Item #5 above identifies ForestEthics as a harassed citizens' group. It's former employee Andrew Frank maintains that he and other employees were told the PMO considered them to be enemies of the state.

-  Canada has a long history in naming enemies of the state.

-  Recently, Canadians were advised that they may be placed on counter-terrorism watch lists if they are involved in "the promotion of various causes such as animal rights, white supremacy, environmentalism and anti-capitalism" activities.

10. Suspend the rule of law

-  The conservative government has twice prorogued Parliament while critical debates and actions were underway that may have toppled the minority government.

-  The government appears to flout the rule of law in the case of Omar Khadr and the closure of the Canadian Wheat Board.

As you can clearly see, dear Reader, Canada is active in every area of the blueprint Wolf found. And, up against Nick Fillmore's piece, there is definitely overlap. Canada is creeping towards closing down as a society, to becoming a fascist state.

Our democracy is very fragile. Hold onto her tightly.

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