In December 2012, the Indigenous protests known as Idle No More exploded onto the Canadian political scene, with huge round dances taking place in shopping malls, busy intersections, and public spaces across North America, as well as solidarity actions as far away as New Zealand and Gaza. Though sparked by a series of legislative attacks on indigenous sovereignty and environmental protections by the Conservative government of Stephen Harper, the movement quickly became about much more: Canada's ongoing colonial policies, a transformative vision of decolonization, and the possibilities for a genuine alliance between natives and non-natives, one capable of re-imagining nationhood.
John Kenneth Galbraith identified "the conventional wisdom." Gore Vidal talked about "received opinion (henceforth RO)." Noam Chomsky wrote about how the media "manufactured consent." George Lakoff showed how "framing" is used to structure debate.
None of these commendable efforts to open our eyes to what high-placed people want us to believe (for their benefit, not ours) captures adequately the current attempts by the Harper government to mislead and fool Canadians about issues that matter to their well-being: resource exploitation and environmental protection.
Budget time is approaching in Nova Scotia, as elsewhere. Not just any budget time, but that special variety that precedes an election (this fall, I'd guess). You can usually tell by the tension in the media/political complex. The government is preparing for the buckets of vitriol that will fall on its head when it announces that it can't balance the budget this year as promised, and there's a howl over a $27-million accounting error in last year's budget.
There are many reasons to doubt a national economic strategy premised centrally on digging out non-renewable resources, and selling them off to foreigners as quickly as possible. But one of the most irrational aspects of the recent energy boom has been its perverse impact on export revenues. In essence, the faster we extract bitumen and export it, the cheaper it gets. Our regulatory system gives each individual company free reign to export as much as possible, as fast as possible. But the resulting export surge drives down the overall price. That perversely undermines each producer's revenue, and squanders the public interest in maximizing the value of non-renewable resources.