Many years ago, when I was a director of the Association of Canadian Advertisers, we had an item on our agenda about the right of advertisers to create commercial communication for their products and services. There was much self-rightious posturing about the right of any legal product or service to advertise what they had to sell, and that included tobacco and alcohol. Then, I had the temerity to suggest that any policy statement about our right to advertise had to be balanced by a statement outlining our responsibilities as advertisers. I’m gratified to say that my colleagues at ACA in the 70s and 80s quickly recognized that they would have much more success with government regulators by developing policy that was a balance of rights and responsibilities.
Now, wouldn’t it be wonderful if the current legislation being proposed by our federal government took the same approach? Fear-boosting speeches by PM Harper and war-mongering on the coat-tails of the US put us in the precarious position of enhancing the recruiting process of the Islamists. To continuously cry “Jihadist Menace” does a disservice to all Canadians of thoughtful and pragmatic sensibility. To be sure, the dozen or so anarchistic individuals who have made plans or have carried out acts of violence here are despicable and misguided villains. But why is there no outcry against the ongoing gunplay by the gangs of hoodlums who persist in feeding the illicit drug trade to those stupid or weak enough to indulge in their addictions? There is more death, damage and destruction carried out by this group than any berserk jihadist in Canada.
No, digging out the root causes of high youth unemployment, indifference to mental health issues that plague our prison population, the PTSD-damaged veterans and the misdiagnosed masses of those who struggle with FASD are not politically sexy enough for the Conservatives — and probably for the other parties as well. Radicalization of any group in society will take place as long as the general public and our so-called leaders are indifferent to their problems.
Which brings us back to Harper, who is no real leader. He is more of a manager who micro-manages his cabinet, their portfolios and, indirectly, Parliament itself. He appears to have no difficulty creating new powers for our spy and police agencies but neglects to balance those powers with appropriate oversight. He callously abrogates agreements made in good faith with others as in the case of the European Trade Agreement and the compensatory Transition Fund for the Newfoundland & Labrador fisheries. And in the case of making war in the Middle East, he has misled Parliament by pretending that sending soldiers and airmen into a battle zone to fight does not constitute combat.
It’s true that war evolves, but it’s equally obvious that reactionary politicians don’t. One-man rule in any country has a name and we have come perilously close to the tyranny of dictatorship. It is time for honest, thoughtful citizens to speak out against the deceitful rhetoric of a party that grasps at power at any cost, detrimental to the environment, quality of science and a gullible public. If we don’t, we are as much to blame for our mediocrity as they are.