Thursday, February 21, 2008

Propaganda? Here in Canada?

There was an interesting opinion piece in the Globe today. It laid bare something frankly even I hadn't expected from the Conservatives.

The story lays out how a group, the Conference of Defence Associations, receives money from DND.

...a think tank that got $500,000 from DND last year. That money comes not with strings, but with an entire leash. A current DND policy reads that to receive money, CDA must "support activities that give evidence of contributing to Canada's national policies." Apparently, if CDA's activities were neutral and unbiased, or even-handedly supported and questioned government policy, DND would refuse to pay!

Maybe some of you are shrugging your shoulders and perhaps you aren't surprised that a think tank would receive money from the government. After all, it's well known that some are very partisan, but this group specifically claims that they are non-partisan and independant. Nowhere do they tell the public that they are receiving funds from the government.

Nonetheless, Maclean's got CDA's executive director, Colonel Alain Pellerin, to admit that the contract obliges it "to write a number of op-eds to the press" -- propaganda paid for by you and me.

So members of this group are mandated by the government to affect the public dialogue by appearing to be non-partisan when in reality they are being paid to be just that. That my friends, is propaganda!

It doesn't stop there though. Nope, it gets worse.

More disturbing still is the manner in which DND spends money to elicit friendly comment by Canadian scholars.

Most people would find it strange that DND sponsors the salaries, research, travel and tuition of dozens of professors, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students. But DND's Security and Defence Forum does exactly this. The list of Canadian universities getting over half a million dollars of SDF money is extensive: York University ($580,000), UQAM ($630,000), Wilfrid Laurier University ($630,000), Université Laval ($655,000), McGill ($680,000), UBC ($680,000), University of Manitoba ($680,000), UNB ($680,000), Carleton University ($780,000), Dalhousie University ($780,000), University of Calgary ($780,000) and Queen's University ($1,480,000).


What's the money for? It's not for the technical work that militaries obviously require -- building better airplanes, for example. Instead, it sponsors policy scholars, who create the ideas, news and views that shape Canadians' perception of the military and the war. And the evidence suggests that the military and government have politicized some SDF grants.

The same bureaucrat who administers SDF grants to scholars also manages DND's liaison with cabinet and Parliament. When DND needs a kind word in Parliament or the media -- presto! -- an SDF-sponsored scholar often appears, without disclosing his or her financial link.

One such Professor testified to a committee before Parliament that Afghanistan was the right mission for Canada and described that bumbling idiot O'Connor as and incredible success. He went on of course to speak to the years of neglect by the Liberals pertaining to the military. Fair enough, he's entitled to an opinion, but he didn't disclose that he was being paid by the government he was defending, nor that he was required to hold that opinion in order to receive these funds. Don't you think that makes a difference in how you receive his evidence? Of course it does.

These payments are deemed secret by the government. Why? Because they have been reviewed by the Cabinet, so they now they fall under Cabinet secrecy guidelines. Think about that for a minute. Why would funding to a non-partisan group be considered secret? It wouldn't be of course, but with clear directives to be partisan of course would.

This is more than disturbing to me. We watch polls, we see bias in the media, we see public opinion not rejecting this government and I've been asking myself why for a very long time. The Conservative base holds only 1/3 of the country's view. 2/3'rds of the country is left of their thinking, yet they do not seem to reject Harper and his governance.

I keep asking the question, how can this be? Well, this article by Amir Attaran tells us quite a bit doesn't it? When you control what the public receives as conventional wisdom, you control the people. This particular subject is Attaran's bailiwick, but it has me wondering where else this is going on.

Sadly, I haven't seen this article picked up on anywhere. Blog's and political talk shows seemed to ignore it. That in itself says something. Have we become so inured that we are now complicit in this disgusting practice? I hope not, but the evidence doesn't lean in my favour.

Propaganda in Canada. A catchy phrase and sadly perhaps a catchy practice. Harper has stooped lower than even I thought he could and Canadians seem to be buying. What a tragedy.

For the record, I heard Attaran interviewed today and he said this did not happen under the Liberals.

25 comments:

The Right is Where its At said...

It shows that its a slow news day right? Anything to try and create some sort of scandal against this government. So this think tank receives $$$ from the government. So what!! The last time I checked they don't have a vote in parliament do they? Now you say that they get $$$ from the government with an entire leash attached to it. What is your solution here? Should the government just give the $$$ no question asked?

What about the millions $$$ that we send each and every year to the UN.Why don't you demand what happens to our tax dollars there when it reaches the UN? Why don't you demand a debate in the house how our tax dollars is spent by the UN? Why should anyone demand a debate in the house? Its only our tax dollars. But hey a think tank that gets 500 grand from the government with conditions is much more important than the millions that we to the UN. Right knb?

Luke said...

Unbelievable, people complain our soldiers are under equipped and yet DND has the money to spend on propaganda?

The Mound of Sound said...

Great piece KNB. Harpo gags DND and then uses a well-paid shill to spread pro-Tory agitprop. That "the right" sees criticism as a partisan attack on Harpo fully illustrates their hypocrisy. Remember when they were all railing on about how their buttoned-down Freak of Nature would restore "transparency" to government?

knb said...

triwia...you're out to lunch on this one my friend.

Perhaps you do not understand the term propaganda, or perhaps you do because you obviously support it.

Disgusting, in my opinion that anyone would desire this direction for our country.

knb said...

luke, I'm upset that the government is directing this but more distressed that the DND is going along with it.

MB said...

THE LAST PARAGRAPH OF THE CONSERVATIVE MOTION:

"that the government must commit to improved interdepartmental co-ordination to achieve greater cross-government coherence and co-ordination of the government’s domestic management of our commitment to Afghanistan, including the creation of a full-time task force which is responsible directly to the Prime Minister to lead these efforts."

Look out!!!

The official "full-time task force" of Harper's War Propaganda Payola!!

Ditch the ego-maniac!

Sincerely,
MB

knb said...

Thanks MoS. The transparency spiel has been a load of junk from the start in my view. It seems to have been accepted as fact though and this article points out just one reason why.

This is serious stuff and something that should be explored far deeper in my opinion.

Harper is being revealed, but no one seems to be looking.

The Right is Where its At said...

Great piece KNB. Harpo gags DND and then uses a well-paid shill to spread pro-Tory agitprop. That "the right" sees criticism as a partisan attack on Harpo fully illustrates their hypocrisy.

The Mound talk about hypocrisy. Why aren't you upset about the millions of our tax dollars that goes to the UN every single year? Hypocrisy? Ha what a laugh. Why aren't people like your self speaking about this hey? How much control do we have at the UN for the millions of dollars that we send over there every single year? Can anyone answer this?

Let me give you my opinion about governments giving our tax dollars to think tanks. I don't believe that any governments should give any amount of money to think tanks directly or in directly. How about that for a solution. Now does anyone have the courage to say anything about what I said about the UN?

knb said...

Interesting observation mb.

The Right is Where its At said...

Knb I do not support any tax payer dollars to go to think tanks. Yes I do know what propaganda is. Unfortunately all government do this. But why aren't you upset about our tax dollar going to the UN where we do not have control. Because it is controlled by only hand full of countries with veto power.

Sir Isaac Brock said...

Harper has stooped lower than even I thought he could...

Well, I hope you learned something today, KNB: no matter how much Harper seems to have charted the remotest reaches of degeneracy, always assume that he can find a way to plunge even further into the abyssal depths of the Canadian political gutter.

I had heard of the CDA and was aware of its pro-war, pro-Harper and pro-Bush "scholarly" hacks (Jack Granatstein is one, I believe). I had assumed they operated on American funding, but, in Harper's Canada, our own government seems only too happy to burn taxpayer dollars in the service of promoting American priorities to us stupid, Taliban-hugging Leftoids, who clearly cannot be trusted to formulate the right opinions without being subject to expensive publicly-funded indoctrination.

Naturally, we can't expect any horrified comment about this politicisation of DND and of a fraudulent "think-tank" from the CPC drones who cried bloody murder when a CBC staffer was found to be helping the Liberals handle Question Period (and doing so alone--without the slightest managerial consent).

Remember all those parallels I used to draw between Harper and Richard Nixon over at Red Tory's place [RIP]? Once, when asked to explain his actions during Watergate, Nixon said, "When the President does it, it's legal". Similar words could serve admirably as the motto of Harper's CPC.

foottothefire said...

good work here, LAM.
Chickenhawks are so predictable though, aren't they.......not very intelligent but.....predictable. It's been a while since I've heard a chickehawk throw out the "UN" thing.

knb said...

thriwia, But why aren't you upset about our tax dollar going to the UN

I'm not responding because that's not the subject of the post. Like Harper, whenever the ugly truth is revealed about he CPC, you want to change the channel.

knb said...

SIB, well said.

I suppose I have learned because I sincerely wonder just how much we don't know.

knb said...

Thanks foottothefire.

Yes, Con's are very good at dangling shiny objects as diversions. They apparently don't realise that we aren't all as easily distracted from the truth as they seem to be.

The Right is Where its At said...

"I'm not responding because that's not the subject of the post. Like Harper, whenever the ugly truth is revealed about he CPC, you want to change the channel."

Cough...Right knb.Just typical from the Libs.When they are not able to answer the question just accuse the one who is giving the question of trying to change the subject. It is another way of saying that you cannot justify it. You know I'm right my friend.

Let me make myself crystal clear on think tanks one more time if I may. I do not support any tax payer dollars going to these organization. Is it clear enough?

As to the UN there is a clear connection with this story it involves our tax dollars. Clear enough?

Anonymous said...

Right is where its at....if you do not support funding think tanks, why do you support Harper?

Seems like you're a little mixed up.

Sharon

The Right is Where its At said...

"Right is where its at....if you do not support funding think tanks, why do you support Harper?"

First Sharon I do not vote for a government on an one issue basis as you apparently do. If you think that past governments have not supported think tanks including Liberals governments,then I think that your the one who is a little mixed up or at the very least delusional. The former Environment Minister David Anderson also did the same.Just look at the date top left. If it is wrong now,why was it not wrong back then?
Nice try Sharon. Who is mixed up now hey?

Cyberwanderer said...

As expected, Harper supporter is trying to downplay this. Like so what if they pay think tank? or so what if Flaherty awarded contract without bidding?

Think tank, especially those who claim to be non partisan are usually viewed as expert in the field. But if their opinion are influenced and paid for by a political party then they just become a propaganda machine. And to claim they are non-partisan is deceptive and fraudulent.

This reminds me of someone who compared the present U.S. government and Communist. He said, in communist country you know what the government say is just propaganda but in U.S., government propaganda is masked as news.

Anonymous said...

Problem "the right is where its at" is that there are "many" issues with Harper - his lies, patronage appointments (that he said he'd never do), issues on contracts, etc.

So, why do you support Harper? Puzzling.

Sharon

The Right is Where its At said...

"Think tank, especially those who claim to be non partisan are usually viewed as expert in the field. But if their opinion are influenced and paid for by a political party then they just become a propaganda machine. And to claim they are non-partisan is deceptive and fraudulent."

Cyber you are right. But don't you think when the liberals were doing it that the think tanks were not influenced by them also?

The Right is Where its At said...

"So, why do you support Harper? Puzzling."

Sharon I will not give you a whole list,but I will give you only one. He is better suited for PM of our country. I know you disagree with this.

I'll ask you the this question Sharon. Who is best suited for P.M.? Mr.Dion Mr.Layton or E.May from the greens and why?

Anonymous said...

I watched the Conference of Defense Associations on CPAC yesterday. I saw the standing ovation given to Stephen Harper and the audience seemed especially pleased when he mentioned he was going to increase the budget from 1.2% to 2% for defense. Laurie Hawn (CPC M.P.) also got a good ovation. Peter McKay"s was not so much. However, I was disappointed at the reception the head of one of the leading NGO's got. It was almost as though only the military were familiar with the topic at hand.

It made me recall what President Eisenhauer (I think it was he) who said we must be very aware of the place of the suppliers of the military in getting control of our governments because there is lots of money to be made on the military.

The Neo-Conservative governments are obviously great soul-mates of the manufacturers of military equipment as they feed each other's agenda. Look at the Bush-Cheney-Halliburton connection.
This all feeds nicely into the SPP philosophy as well.

Next watch for the attack on our publicly supported broadcaster, the CBC. It is easier to control a private broadcaster, like, say FOX News.

Our justice system is already being subverted. Look at so-called security certificates, the closing down of the Court Challenges Program and the removal of the word equality from the Status of Womens's purpose statement.

Stephen Harper may be strong, but he's so very, very wrong. Stalin was strong. Hitler was strong. Mike Harris was strong, but wrong.
I don't mean to say Harper and Harris were as bad as Stalin and Hitler but their ideology will ruin our great country.

We must be absolutely honest with ourselves.

knb said...

Really well said anon.

The security certificates especially tick me off. I'm angry at the Lib's here too.

Maybe tomorrow.

Thank you for your astute contribution.

Cyberwanderer said...

"Cyber you are right. But don't you think when the liberals were doing it that the think tanks were not influenced by them also?"
- The Right is Where its At said...

"the right", I can't recall specific instance of Liberal paying a think tank. I am not saying it did not happen but I am not aware of any at this time. Harper's government on the other hand have done a lot of things that really tick me off. Bidless contract is just one of them.

Mind you, I was not happy about sponsorship scandal and billions of dollar cost overrun during the previous government. But the previous government is no more and I am not going to hold it against the whole Liberal party for eternity, just as I won't hold it against Conservative if they replace their leader in the future. Like maybe with someone less like Harper and his manipulative ways.