Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Canadian Manifesto 11: God, Guns and Gays

Throughout the 1990s, especially the early years, the Canadian Reform Party and the American Republican Party were forging ties, that have proven to be lasting.

They share policies, initiatives, staff, and even financing.

One name that comes up often is Morton Blackwell, founder of the Washington based Leadership Institute, where young conservatives are trained in the art of political guerrilla warfare.  Karl Rove, Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed are all graduates of his program.

Blackwell was co-founder of the Moral Majority, and was Ronald Reagan's liaison with the Religious Right.  He once claimed that the Evangelical community was "the greatest tract of virgin timber on the political landscape."

It was Blackwell who invited Stephen Harper to speak at the Montreal conference of the Council for National Policy, an organization where foreign affairs and religion are mixed, and made to fit the Old Testament.  In other words, they promote perpetual war.

Blackwell was also called upon by Preston Manning to help him establish a Canadian branch of the Leadership Institute, giving birth to the Manning Centre For Building Democracy.  A dubious title for a training centre that teaches the art of undermining democracy.

His U.S. counterpart was more than happy to help out, saying that he offers his services for free, to any groups "trying to be conservative in the U.S. sense of the word". (1)

About God's Love of Guns

One of the advisers at the Leadership Institute is James Inhofe, the Republican senator from Oklahoma.  In 1994, the Republicans were determined to sweep the mid-term election, so pulled out all the stops.  Frank Luntz left the Reform Party and helped to draft the Contract With America, while Republican leader Newt Gingrich, studied Preston Manning's anti-government campaigning

The Evangelical army that had put Ronald Reagan on the throne, were once again mobilized for action and every right-wing group in the country was on speed dial.

But perhaps the most important factor in the success of the Republicans then, was when they put a gun in God's hands and changed the profile of a religious activist, from one wanting to do what was right, to one so filled with hatred that it now consumes them.

Because 1994 was the year when the National Rifle Association found a loophole in the election financing laws, and began to interfere in the democratic process.  They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to target Democrats who supported gun control, in particular, the Brady Act.

One campaign that was fought with NRA ammo was that of Inhofe, who was running against the incumbent Dave McCurdy.  With graduates from the Leadership Institute, including our own Rob Anders, McCurdy was shell shocked.
The NRA’s PAC spent more than $150,000 in independent expenditures to run television and newspaper advertisements and put up billboards denouncing McCurdy in addition to the $9,900 it gave directly to Inhofe, just under the maximum $10,000 allowable under FEC regulations. The NRA also spent thousands of dollars more urging its Oklahoma members to turn out for Inhofe. It was an all-out attack that turned the tide against McCurdy. (2)
Inhofe ran on a campaign of 'Gods, Guns and Gays', a slogan later borrowed by the Republican National Committee.  However, most NRA sponsored ads did not mention guns at all.  In one TV spot, they showed McCurdy at a distance and then zoomed in to reveal that he was wearing an Aids ribbon.

The same kind of gunfight took place across the country, as the NRA took up the cause for Republican hopefuls.  Christine Todd Whitman, the woman who loaned out her Common Sense Revolution to Mike Harris in Ontario,  garnered $ 200,000 in free ads.

Recognizing a good thing when they saw it, Harris's team then sent a letter to the Canadian branch of the NRA, the National Firearms Association, promising to do what he could to kill Bill C-68, and the Gun Registry.  The NFA published the letter as an encouragement for their members to get out and vote.

This was not the organization's first foray into conservative politics.  They had been active supporters of the Reform Party, and made a huge impact in 1997, when Reform became the official opposition.  According to the book Rebuilding Canadian Party Politics:

During the campaign, the NFA's political clout was put at the disposal of the Reform Party. In a memo to supporters, NFA president David Tomlinson noted that the only party offering a "trustworthy promise of an immediate turn toward dumping the Liberal game plan, revoking Bill C-68 and bringing in a completely tweeked firearms control system that will ... favor our firearms community is the Reform Party." Using images of war and battle, Tomlinson exhorted any member who was not a political activist to "get off your butt and become one".

During the 1997 election, signs bearing the somewhat ambiguous message "Remember Bill C-68 When You Vote" were a common sight in rural areas where gun ownership is concentrated. Part of the National Firearms Association's (NFA) extensive and ambitious campaign to defeat the Liberal government and the gun-control legislation it had supported. These signs signalled widespread discontent over firearms legislation in parts of the country.

He [Tomlinson]called on NFA supporters to work for, donate money, goods and services to, and promote the Reform Party". Tomlinson himself was president of a Reform Party constituency association in Edmonton. NFA activists apparently heeded Tomlinsons call. Messages posted on the organization's website throughout the election reflected considerable involvement in Reform campaigns,. Activists compared notes about the travails of keeping Reform signs in place, boasted about their campaign activity and contributions, and called for volunteers to help at local Reform offices.
The New Right movement has many "signals" and according to David Kuo, the term "believers' is assigned to anyone believing in three things: the end of abortion, the end of gay rights, and the right to carry a gun. In an oped piece Harper wrote in 1995, he claimed that Reform was about "Gays, Guns and Government Grants".

He was a "believer".

Gun Control is Not a Liberal Issue

In their effort to make everything liberal evil, the New Right has called gun control, besides a feminist plot to destroy their masculinity (honest), a 'liberal folly'.  However, the idea of gun control, was actually a conservative priority.

Richard Nixon once said that "guns are an abomination," and went on to confess that  "Free from fear of gun owners' retaliation at the polls, he favored making handguns illegal and requiring licenses for hunting rifles."

George Bush, Sr. banned the import of "assault weapons" in 1989, and promoted the view that Americans should only be allowed to own weapons suitable for "sporting purposes."

When Ronald Reagan was Governor of California, he signed the Mulford Act in 1967, "prohibiting the carrying of firearms on one's person or in a vehicle, in any public place or on any public street." 

Twenty-four years later, Reagan was still pushing gun control. "I support the Brady Bill," he said in a March 28, 1991 speech, "and I urge the Congress to enact it without further delay." 

After all, the act was put in place because he was shot, and named after the man who died protecting him.

Republican Rudolph Giuliani, former mayor of New York City, actually sued 26 gun manufacturers in June 2000, and his police commissioner, Howard Safir, proposed a nationwide plan for gun licensing, complete with yearly "safety" inspections.

Another Republican, New York State Governor George Pataki, on August 10, 2000, signed into law what The New York Times called "the nation’s strictest gun controls," a radical program mandating trigger locks, background checks at gun shows and "ballistic fingerprinting" of guns sold in the state. It also raised the legal age to buy a handgun to 21 and banned "assault weapons," the sale or possession of which would now be punishable by seven years in prison. (4)

In Canada, the first aggressive gun control, was at the request of then Ontario Conservative Premier William Davis.   After a student opened fire at the school his daughters attended, killing one teacher and injuring 13 students, he sent his attorney general, John Clement, to Ottawa to meet with the Liberal government.
Armed with a petition bearing thousands of names of Brampton residents, demanding better gun control, Clement met with federal Justice Minister Otto Lang and Solicitor General Warren Allmand to review possible amendments to the Criminal code. (5)
Though Clement failed to get re-elected, he is credited with the passing of  Bill C-51 in 1977, that came into affect on January 1, 1978:

The two biggest changes included requirements for Firearms Acquisition Certificates (FACs) and requirements for Firearms and Ammunition Business Permits. Other changes included provisions dealing with new offences, search and seizure powers, increased penalties, and new definitions for prohibited and restricted weapons. Fully automatic weapons became classified as prohibited firearms unless they had been registered as restricted weapons before January 1, 1978. Individuals could no longer carry a restricted weapon to protect property. Mandatory minimum sentences were re-introduced. This time, they were in the form of a 1-14 year consecutive sentence for the actual use (not mere possession) of a firearm to commit an indictable offence. (Wikipedia)
And for the record, John Clement is Tony Clement's stepfather.

Gun control is not a partisan issue.  It is a Canadian issue.

This past election, gun lobbyists were again out in full force.  Mark Holland, former Liberal MP for Ajax-Pickering, was targeted by several groups, including Gun Nutz.  The Conservatives wanted him gone because he had been a vocal supporter of both the Prison Farms and the Gun Registry.

What does it say for the future of our democracy, when those wanting to create a Canadian "Gun Culture", can affect the outcome of an election?  And what does it say for Christianity, when the devout are behind them?

Using Romans 13 that establishes the "boundaries of governments", they are now advocating that we all should be armed.  And they wonder why people are leaving churches in droves.  How is this inspiring to anyone?

The truth of the matter is, that the New Right saw an opportunity for support from gun lobbyists, who are financed by gun manufacturers.  The potential outcome of the end of gun control, is not important.  Only the money and the power.

Conservative insider, Tom Flanagan, said that Stephen Harper wrote the Reform Party gun policy, only stopping short at calling it a right to bear arms.  This has nothing to do with long guns, or farmers, but is to appease those who want bigger and more lethal handguns, and want the right to carry them anywhere.

They claim that the streets will be safer.

If that were the case than the United States would be the safest country in the world.

It's not.


1. The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada, By: Marci McDonald, Random House Canada, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-307-35646-8 3, p. 104-105

2. Political Snipers, By Robert Dreyfuss, American Prospect, September 21, 1995

3. Rebuilding Canadian Party Politics, By R. Kenneth Carty, William Paul Cross, Lisa Young, UBC Press, 2000, ISBN: 978 0774 807784, p. 99-100

4. Don't Blame the Liberals for Gun Controlby Richard Poe, Studies in Reformed Theology, Volume 11, 2001

5.  Another School Shooting, Thoughts From up Here, March 22, 2005

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Canadian Manifesto 10: The Exploitation of Religion Has Many Victims

David Kuo was a foot soldier in the Evangelical army that stormed the White House for George W. Bush. He eventually came to realize that his role was purely political, and that the Bush administration had no intention of honouring their promises.

At a particularly bad time, when his spirits were at their lowest, Kuo was asked by a senior official what they could do to fix things.

"For starters", Kuo said, "you could stop calling us the f...ing faith-based group". They had been reduced to an annoyance and diminished through profanity.

Kuo, like many others, had been led into politics by people like Ralph Reed and Karl Rove, believing that he could make a difference.  His "faith-based" priority was to end abortion, but he also wanted to eradicate poverty, improve education and set higher moral standards for politicians.

Instead he spent his time polishing Bush's halo and fundraising for the Republicans.  So he resigned and wrote a book of his experiences; Tempting Faith: An inside Story of Political Seduction.

Kuo advises that Evangelicals need to take a time-out from political activism, and re-connect with their faith. 
I have seen what happens when well-meaning Christians are seduced into thinking deliverance can come from the Oval Office, a Supreme Court chamber, or the floor of the United States Congress. They are easily manipulated by politicians who use them for their votes, seduced by trinkets of power, and tempted to turn a mission field (politics) into a battlefield, leaving the impression Jesus' main goal was advancing a particular policy agenda. I know: I've seen it, I've done it, I've lived it, and I've learned from it. (1)
"Little Platoons" of Soldiers for Christ
“To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of public affections. It is the first link in the series by which we proceed toward a love to our country and to mankind."  Edmund Burke (1729-1797)
One of Kuo's bosses and mentors was Chuck Colson, who rallied his troops under the battle cry:  "Storm the battlements for Christ!" 

Using Edmund Burke as inspiration, an army of political Evangelists would have to create "little platoons" that could be easily mobilized to bring down the enemy.

Of course, this meant different things to different people, and for David Kuo, an enemy he was inspired to destroy was poverty.  What he found instead was that he had been inducted into an army trained to attack the poor.  He referred to them as "little platoons against the welfare state".

Using terms not unlike those used by Harrisites (Mike Harris) and Harperites, he had allowed himself to be convinced that only "tough love" would heal the nation, and that the only way to get people off welfare was to make them work.  (2)

When Mike Harris first ran in Ontario, he promoted the same thing, prompting many on social assistance to vote for him, believing that he would help them find a job.  Instead they had their benefits slashed by 22% and were left to their own devises, looking for jobs that never existed, and would never exist.

More "tough love" was aimed at single mothers, especially those who had children out of wedlock.  "Welfare needed to stop paying people to have illegitimate children and needed to be a much tougher way of life". (2)  Spoken by someone who has never had to live as a single mom on the meagre welfare "hand out".  It doesn't get much tougher than that.

In Ontario under Harris, John Baird became so ruthless that it resulted in the death of a singe mom, who was trying desperately to claw her way out from under the welfare system.  His reaction:  Oops!

The "faith-based" crew saw the government undermining God, by providing services that ought to be left to the Church and their "little platoons".  Yet churches and poverty have co-existed for centuries, so clearly that strategy wasn't working.

Conservative activists love to quote Edmund Burke as inspiration, often citing:  "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing".  However, that quote cannot be found in any of Burke's writings.  The closest attribution comes from Tolstoy's War and Peace.

An actual quote of Burke's, is the one they should be paying attention to:
"The interest of that portion of social arrangement is a trust in the hands of all those who compose it; and as none but bad men would justify it in abuse, none but traitors would barter it away for their own personal advantage.”
"Faith-based" Organized Crime

One area in which George Bush's "faith-based" group hoped to have an impact, was in the allocation of government grants.
Conservative Republicans were in the midst of derailing carefully laid plans. One thing they wanted was more Charitable Choice—that is, a broader range of religious charities eligible government grants ...  Now, with a conservative evangelical president in the Oval Office, with Republicans controlling the House and nearly the Senate, some conservatives thought it time to allow "real" faith-based groups to receive federal funding. In short, they wanted to allow groups that aimed to convert people [my emphasis] to a particular faith to be able to receive direct federal grants which was far beyond what Charitable Choice was actually intended to do.

They also wanted numerous large federal grant programs converted to vouchers so that grant recipients could have access to plainly religious groups. Finally, they wanted to give religious groups receiving public funds an unfettered right to hire and fire people based not only on their professed religion but on whether they lived according to the "rules" of their religion ( no gay Catholics, pork-eating Orthodox Jews, bug-killing Jainists, leather-wearing Buddhists, or drinking Christian fundamentalists). They wove these objectives together into a single, highly partisan bill. It wasn't exactly the legislation-free bipartisanship that Brother John had hoped for. (3)
This was not charity, but proselytizing, and taxpayers were being asked to fund it, despite the fact that unless they adhered to the stringent requirements, they would see no benefits.  Only the corporate sector and the "God for the creation of personal wealth" elite few, would cash in.  A perfect example of this, is one I already provided, that is taking place in private (for-profit) corporate prisons.

Hundreds of millions of dollars to "save" instead of rehabilitate prisoners.*  Cha ching, cha ching.

Another priority for "faith-based" was a change in the tax laws that would make it more appealing to donate to charities.  That too got lost in the shuffle.
In my third day on the job, President Bush signed the tax cut that had been one of his top priorities .... There were cuts in capital gains taxes (p: from the sale of stocks and land). The inheritance tax was with the exemption slowly increasing to $3.5 million ($7 million for couples) .... But something was missing: the president's promised $6 billion per year in tax credits for groups helping the poor. Those tax credits had been the centerpiece of compassionate-conservative efforts for years and the centerpiece of the president's own compassion agenda during the campaign. The best estimates projected that the proposal would create more than 11.7 million new givers throughout the country, stimulate an additional $14.6 billion in charitable giving in the first year and more than $160 billion over ten years, and increase current giving levels by 11 percent.  Unfortunately, those charity tax credits weren't listed by the White House as must-haves, so the House skipped over them. (3)
Bush's changes only benefited the already wealthy, or soon to be wealthy, as couples could now inherit up to seven million dollars without paying a dime.  This hurt charities, because it meant that there would be no incentive to give some of it away, as a means to avoid paying tax.  The wealthy recipients could just keep it all, and usually did.

The National Council of Churches spoke out against the 2001 Bush tax cuts, that favoured the rich as a means to "balance the budget".  Their General Secretary Rev. Dr. Bob Edgarru, said that "There’s no budget surplus if there are still people living in poverty."

As millions of people – parents and children, the elderly, people with disabilities and the working poor – are driven to seek charity to meet their most basic needs, we are appalled that the focus of attention in this Congressional session is not on meeting their needs; rather, it is on tax cuts that will mostly benefit the affluent."  (4)
The tax cuts and changes to tax laws, actually hurt legitimate charities, because the corporate sector only found a new way to not only avoid paying taxes, but also to obtain government grants.  What I like to call "Faith-based organized crime".

And those "little platoons" were demobilized, only to be called to action again, when they were needed to fight another election.

So Again, What Does This Have to do With Us?

Kuo tells us that prominent Republican pollsters like Frank Luntz and John MacLaughlin, advised that issues should be framed in such a way as to appeal to "religious conservative voters".

Frank Luntz has worked with the Reform-Alliance-Conservative Party for many years, and was the one who told Stephen Harper to talk about hockey as much as possible, to sell himself as a man of the people. (5)

John McLaughlin is the ad man who handled campaigns for the National Citizens Coalition (where Harper was president) and according to his 2004 bio:
John McLaughlin has worked professionally as a strategic consultant and pollster for twenty years. During this time he has earned a reputation for helping to guide underdog Republicans and conservative challengers to victory. He has worked across America and internationally in hundreds of campaigns.  Within the past year, John McLaughlin has helped elect Iain Duncan Smith, the leader of the Conservative Party (United Kingdom); Stephen Harper, the leader of the Canadian Alliance Party (Canada); Virginia Attorney General Jerry Kilgore; and a historic 30-seat Republican majority in the Virginia House of Delegates. (6)
Stephen Harper digested the "Bible according to Republican strategists", and has tapped into the vote-rich and cash-rich, Religious Right.

He has also tapped into the Bush Doctrine, not only when it comes to an aggressive foreign policy, but also in the creation of tax measures designed for the well-to-do.

However, there may be something else on the horizon, when it comes to corporate run and taxpayer funded charities.

Well known Reform-Alliance-Conservative insider, Gerry Chipeur, (also a Republican insider), wrote an op-ed piece for the National Post, soon after the Harper government announced that they would be taking their lead from George Bush's "cutting red tape" initiative (massive de-regulation), and resurrecting Mike Harris's "Red Tape Commission".

Without mentioning that the sweat on his brow came from a backroom meeting with the Harperites, hammering out their plan of attack, he outlined ten ways that Harper could cut the public out of public policy.

Targeted was Health Canada, Agriculture Canada, the CRTC, The Canadian Wheat Board (already gone), Canada Border Services (being handed over to the Americans), Fisheries and Oceans, Parks Canada ....

But one mentioned by Chipeur was removing Revenue Canada's oversight from charitable organizations.  This no doubt comes from complaints by people like Faytene Grasseschi Kryskow, who was turned down for charitable status because prayer gatherings are not classed as charity.   Apparently there have been many quasi-religious groups with the same complaints.

What Chipeaur suggested was that only CIDA should be involved with charities.  We all know how that works, when Bev Oda altered a contract AFTER it was duly signed. 

However, I see this as being a major problem.  Without Revenue Canada being involved, how do we know what are legitimate charities and what aren't?  Corporations could set up their own charities, with the money going right back into the corporation.

They could also donate to AstroTurf groups, and receive a charitable donation, despite the fact that that AstroTurf group was created be them to promote their own interests.

The National Citizens Coalition could not only apply for charitable status, but receive CIDA grants for questionable activities.

And all of this could be funnelled to the Conservative Party.

The media and the Opposition have to stay on top on this before we end up a one party/one religion state.

And the public have to separate the legitimate charities and community churches, from the Religious Right money machine. Many Christians who got involved in the associated political activism, may not yet realize as  David Kuo did, that they are being used.

According to Lloyd Mackey, in The Pilgrimage of Stephen Harper, our PM was "saved" after being introduced to the writings of C.S. Lewis.  This claim is made by many in the New Right movement.  However, Kuo found a passage in a Lewis book, that frightened him, and helped to make him realize that what he was doing was sinful.

If the Tea Partiers could read, they might learn something here to.

The passage is from the Screwtape Letters, near the end when Screwtape advises his cousin:   
Let him begin by treating patriotism ... as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely a part of the "cause," in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce ... Once he's made the world an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing. (7)

 *I was told recently that an old cell block at Collins Bay Pen/Frontenac Institute, that was destroyed during a riot years ago, is being renovated to possibly be used as a "repent or regret for profit" rehabilitation centre, to replace the Prison Farms.  I hope not.


1. Tempting Faith: An inside Story of Political Seduction, By David Kuo, Free Press, 2006, ISBN: 13: 978-0 7432-8712-8, p. xii

2. Kuo, 2006, p. 59

3. Kuo, 2006, p. 160-165


5. American Strategist teaches Tories tips on keeping power, Canwest News Service, May 7, 2006

6. Catholic Citizen Announcement, February 10, 2004

7. Kuo, 2006, p.57

Monday, September 19, 2011

Chapter Seventeen: The Campus Leadership Roles of Morton Blackwell and Preston Manning

The Canadian Manifesto: How the American Neoconservatives Stole my Country

In 2006, Cliff Fryers, Chair of the Conservative Party’s 2005 policy conference, and Preston Manning, former leader of the Reform Party, sat down with Morton Blackwell, founder of the American Leadership Institute.  Blackwell, a former Special Assistant to President Reagan, and longtime activist for the Conservative Movement, was eager to assist his Canadian colleagues, who had also been involved with the movement for decades.

Fryers and Manning were interested in starting their own Leadership Institute in Canada, based on the strategies and techniques of Blackwell's successful school of instruction in the art of dirty tricks.  Grover Norquist, Ralph Reed and Karl Rove, are all former graduates, and according to Marci MacDonald, 700 Canadian graduates of Blackwell's school, are working for the movement in Canada. (2)

Manning won't say who provided the $10 million single donation that was the seed money for his Manning Centre for Building Democracy, but when it was established, Cliff Fryer was named its director (3).  Fryer has worked with the Reform-Alliance party from its inception and knows how the game is played.

Until recently, Fryer was the chairman of the Enmax Corporation's board of directors, the Calgary owned utilities company.  However, he was forced to resign for backing former CEO Gary Holden, who was fired  following the discovery that he took a trip to the French Riviera, courtesy of a company that does business with Enmax.  According to other board members, Fryer’s resignation was "for the best".  Said one: “Well there's a few of us that weren't all that enthused about some of the comments that he made back when we were having some issues with Enmax and some of the things that had transpired over the years so we kind of were advocating for his resignation ... " (4)

According to Rick Bell, columnist for the Calgary Sun, Holden's parting shots were typical.
He insists he's done nothing wrong while speaking of "intrigue," the "motives" of "business and political forces," the attacks on Enmax, the biased media reports not telling the true story, his self-styled high-minded decision to depart and his possible future career as a politician.

When all is said, Holden does what he does best and what Enmax board chairman Cliff Fryers also does best.  He doesn't tell us anything of substance when asked but then uses one-way e-mails or a bully pulpit to play victim, casting other supposed sinister sorts as the source of what is the ongoing soap opera over at Enmax. (5)
This is what most neoconservatives do.  Blame someone else.

Another High-Profile Visitor

While Morton Blackwell was discussing the nuts and bolts of his operation to Preston Manning and company, Ralph Reed of the Christian Coalition, was the featured speaker at an election training program hosted by the Charles McVety's Canada Family Action Coalition.  (6)

Reed counsels social conservatives to practice “stealth politics” and “fool voters” by “hiding their religious agenda and instead promoting popular issues such as tax reform.” (7) The merging of neoconservatism with misguided Evangelism, to create what Noam Chomsky calls. "The religion of market knows best".  At least part of it is based on deceit.

In attendance at Reed’s strategy session, were Tim Dobson, Conservative Candidate for Pickering-Scarborough East, John Carmichael, Conservative Candidate for Don Valley West (won in 2011), Michael Mostyn, Conservative Candidate for York Centre, Rhondo Thomas, from McVety's Christian College, and Jim Flaherty, now our finance minister.

Reed told the assembled activists and candidates about the philosophical approach that should motivate their activities: “We're not trying to change a church into a political party, and we're not trying to change a political party into a church, but if the people of the church don't get involved, somebody else will.” (6)

Reminds me of an old Irish proverb that my father told me "If God doesn't change you, the devil will", his loose interpretation of religion.  Clearly, the devil is at work here.

What They Teach at Manning's Campus Leadership Training Program

In March of 2009, a Conservative Party workshop was held at the University of Waterloo. A student who attended was clever enough to take a tape recorder and what was revealed from the meeting was a clandestine attempt to take over student unions, by setting up a series of front groups.

This operation is one of the strategies taught at the Manning Centre's Campus Leadership Training program.  From their website:
Has your student government been overrun by extreme left-wing students?

Is freedom of speech being infringed upon on your campus? Are groups on campus using student money to further a left-wing agenda? Do you want to get organized and fight back?

Then the Manning Centre’s Campus Leadership Training is for you. Campus Leadership Seminars introduce aspiring political leaders on campus to the principles and practices of effective political involvement. Topics for these seminars include:

»The Fundamentals of Campaigning
» Political Communications
» How to run an effective Campus Club
» How to win campaigns on campus
» How to build effective coalitions
What they teach, however, is something a little different.
Audio recordings, photographs and documents that were leaked from a recent Conservative Party student workshop in Waterloo expose a partisan attempt to take over student unions and undermine Ontario Public Interest Research Groups (OPIRGs) on campuses across Ontario. 
At a session held in early February by the Ontario Progressive Conservative Campus Association (OPCCA) and the Manning Centre for Building Democracy, campus Conservatives, party campaigners, and a Member of Parliament discussed strategies to gain funding from student unions for the Conservative Party and ways to run for—and win—positions within student unions. (8)
What Manning had instructed the students to do was to set up "front" groups, all linked to a central organization.  In this way they could get funding for each group, despite the fact that they were not independent.  The Member of Parliament they speak of was Peter Braid, Conservative MP for Kitchener-Waterloo.

Blackwell's Leadership Institute is running the same kind of clandestine operations as Manning, under their Campus Leadership Program.  Journalist Jeff Horowitz went under cover at one of their summer seminars, where they taught their students how to manipulate elections.  One tactic was to volunteer to help run the election, and then place the ballot box in an obscure location, with little foot traffic.  Conservatives would know well in advance where it was. (9)

They also provide funds for a campus newspaper espousing conservative theories, and "front" groups for the Young Republicans.
The structure of Blackwell's Campus Leadership Program is simple. The Leadership Institute trains promising conservative college graduates over the summer and dispatches them to campuses in the fall with a mandate to start conservative student organizations.

Need $500 and some ideas to start a combative right-wing campus publication? The institute would love to help you. Unlike chapter-based political organizations, CLP clubs are unaffiliated with either the Leadership Institute or each other. According to Blackwell,this trait offers a serious advantage: "No purges." The clubs' independence also comes with the benefit of plausible deniability. "You can get away with stuff that you would take a lot of flak for doing in the College Republicans." (9)
Creating mini-me Ralph Reeds and Karl Roves on both sides of the border.


1. Bloodshed on the floor was inevitable, By Siri Agrell, National Post, March 21, 2005

2. The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada, By: Marci McDonald, Random House Canada, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-307-35646-8

3. Manning Centre for Building Democracy, http://www.manningcentre.ca/

4. Enmax chairman Cliff Fryers resigns, CBC News, September 8, 2011

5. Watt is this guy thinking? By Rick Bell, Calgary Herald, January 22, 2011

6. US Political Wiz Ralph Reed Urges Canadian Social Conservatives to ‘Make History’ This Election,”, LifeSiteNews.com, December 2, 2005

7. Secrets and Ties, By Bill Berkowitz, Media Transparency, April 17, 2005

8. Conservative Party strategy to take over student unions exposed, By Rebecca Granovsky-Larsen, Editor-in-Chief and Nora Loreto, News Editor, Ryerson Free Press, March 16, 2009

9. My Right-wing Degree, By Jeff Horwitz, May 24, 2005

The Canadian Manifesto 9: Retribution and the Bottom Line

William Wilberforce (1759-1833) was a British politician, best known for his work to abolish the slave trade. He helped to pass legislation that imposed fines of £100 on shipowners, for each slave found on board.

It backfired, because when these men saw authorities approaching, they simply threw the slaves overboard.

However, he is said to have been a hero of Abraham Lincoln's, and instrumental in putting an end to slavery in both the United States and across the pond.

Wilberforce is now a favourite of the American Religious Right for several reasons. One being the fact that he was a conservative, the second that he had devoted his life to prayer, and of course the whole anti-slavery thing suggesting that prayer and conservatism are positive influences on society.

However, much of the success of this New Right movement, has been based on their ability to rewrite history.

Wilberforce was involved in the anti-slave movement, but not because of his Christian charity, but rather that it was politically expedient. Prime Minister William Pitt was under a lot of pressure by the abolitionists, and needed a cover.
Interestingly imperialism’s ‘great saviour and hero’ Wilberforce was not amongst the original grouping. Nor did he end up joining the society of his own volition or as a matter of conscience. Instead he was ‘recruited’ and sent into the abolition movement by the then Prime Minister William Pitt. The fake cover story about his moral and religious conviction compelling him to work for the abolition of slavery was made up later. (1)
In fact, in 2010 the historian Stephen Tomkins discovered documents that suggested Wilberforce actually permitted the buying and selling of slaves, despite new regulations he helped to pass.
"After abolition, the British navy patrolled the Atlantic seizing slave ships. The crew were arrested, but what to do with the African captives? With the knowledge and consent of Wilberforce and friends, they were taken to Sierra Leone and put to slave labour in Freetown." (2)
Wilberforce really had little to do with the end of slavery in the British colonies. Most slaves freed themselves in a series of revolts.

However, there is another reason why the Republicans like Wilberforce so much. He was one of them, profiting off the misfortune of others. The Wilberforce family made their money in the wool and cotton business, so raising the possibility of slavery coming to an end, drove up the price of their commodities. (3)

Today he would be a Wall Street banker.

Chuck Colson: From Watergate to "Faith Based" Justice

Charles "Chuck" Colson, was a former member of the Nixon Administration, and one of the "plumbers" of the Watergate break-in.  For his role in the crime, he was sent to prison, serving just seven months.  For a man who had earned the reputation as Nixon's "hatchet man", and was known to keep "enemy lists" as a Washington power broker, this was a devastating blow.

Not only was he pushed out of the inner circle, but he was reduced to playing the role of a common criminal.

The story goes that a corporate buddy of his gave him a copy of C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity, and after reading it, Colson gave his life over to Jesus.  The media was not convinced, seeing it as a ploy to garner a lighter sentence.

I'll tell you his story and you can be the judge.

Using William Wilberforce as his guiding light, Colson created the Wilberforce Forum, a conservative Christian think tank, promoting the teaching of Intelligent Design (Creationism as opposed to Evolution), and established the Evangelical Prison Fellowship, to "save" his fellow man.  Or so we are told.

Please read on.

Stephen Harper and Corrections Corporation of America

After taking an interest in the Save the Prison Farm movement, I began to attend lectures and information seminars, dealing with the rise of corporate, for-profit prisons.  There is a consensus that the Harper government's new "law and order" strategy is geared toward the privatization of our prison system.

The way it works is that taxpayers fund the construction and/or expansion of jails and penitentiaries, which when completed, are then turned over to the corporate sector to operate.

One name that comes up regularly, is the Corrections Corporation of America, the largest stakeholder in the business of Penance for Profit.

In 2007, Craig Jones of the John Howard Society, said in an interview, that he feared that Stephen Harper was moving in that direction.  He had hired Robert Sampson, former correctional minister under Mike Harris in Ontario, who opened the door to the privatization of the province's jails.  The experiment was a disaster.  His Penetanguishene "super jail" was closed after revelations of flawed security, inadequate prisoner health care, and higher re offending rates. (4)

And the money taxpayers were supposed to save?  It cost us $80 million to build and the promised jobs were all low paying, minimum wage, that did nothing to "pay for itself", from accelerated income tax revenue. (5)

But this won't stop Stephen Harper.  Once he makes a decision, he sticks with it, come hell or high water.  He was elected to promote corporate interests and corporate interests he will promote, especially if they are  those of American corporations.

But let's take a closer look at Corrections Corporation of America, to decide whether or not we want to replicate their business here.

In June of 2000, Ken Silverstein wrote in Prison Legal News. 

What is the most profitable industry in America? Weapons, oil and computer technology all offer high rates of return, but there is probably no sector of the economy so abloom with money as the privately run prison industry.

Consider the growth of the Corrections Corporation of America, the industry leader whose stock price has climbed from $8 a share in 1992 to about $30 today and whose revenue rose by 81 per cent in 1995 alone. Investors in Wackenhut Corrections Corp. have enjoyed an average return of 18 per cent during the past five years and the company is rated by Forbes as one of the top 200 small businesses in the country. At Esmor, another big private prison contractor, revenues have soared from $4.6 million in 1990 to more than $25 million in 1995. (6)
And what of the product they are offering?
Roughly half of the industry is controlled by the Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America, which runs 46 penal institutions in 11 states. It took ten years for the company to reach 10,000 beds; it is now growing by that same number every year ....

To be profitable, private prison firms must ensure that prisons are not only built but also filled. Industry experts say a 90-95 per cent capacity rate is needed to guarantee the hefty rates of return needed to lure investors. Prudential Securities issued a wildly bullish report on CCA a few years ago but cautioned, "It takes time to bring inmate population levels up to where they cover costs. Low occupancy is a drag on profits." Still, said the report, company earnings would be strong if CCA succeeded in ramp(ing) up population levels in its new facilities at an acceptable rate". (6)
This explains the Harper government's horrendous crime bills, that will put people behind bars for the slightest of offenses, and keep them there.    According to the ACLU's National Prison Project:  "Private prison companies have also begun to push, even if discreetly, for the type of get-tough policies needed to ensure their continued growth. All the major firms in the field have hired big-time lobbyists."

Crime and punishment is no longer decided by criminologists or the justice system, but by corporate lobbyists, who in the United States are now pushing for "chain gangs".  According to Rev. Edward Pinkney in Michigan:  "In many states there is a move to remove gov. administration of prisons and privatize them for corporate profit. The labor of the prisoners belongs to the state but when the state transfers their interest to a private corporation, the labor of prisoners belong to the corporation. A corporation will run the lives of prisoners and decide how they shall labor and what they shall labor at. Do you see chances for profit here?" (7)

Kind of puts Tim Hudak's meanderings into perspective, doesn't it?

Several videos reveal the way that these private prisons operate.  Many are now being investigated for promoting criminal activity behind bars, inadequate health care, high re offending rates, and lax security.

Fight- Corrections Corporation of America

Sex abuse

Privatization of Punishment

Exposed Prison Big Business

Oh But it Gets Worse.  Back to Chuck Colson

Conditions in these prisons are deplorable, but a new scheme appears to be making an attempt to change that.  Prison Fellowship, started and run by Chuck Colson, advocates for prisoners and their families, with a faith-based alternative.

One experiment in Unit E at the state prison outside Newton, Iowa; gives a country club feel to a facility notorious for horrendous living conditions.

The cells in Unit E had real wooden doors and doorknobs, with locks.  More books and computers were available, and inmates were kept busy with classes, chores, music practice and discussions.  There were occasional movies and events with live bands and real-world food, like pizza or sandwiches from Subway.  Best of all, there were opportunities to see loved ones in an environment quieter and more intimate than the typical visiting rooms. (8)
They even have private baths with porcelain sinks.  Just like home.

But there's a catch.  You have to be "saved".

... the only way an inmate could qualify for this kinder mutation of prison life was to enter an intensely religious rehabilitation program and satisfy the evangelical Christians running it that he was making acceptable spiritual progress. The program — which grew from a project started in 1997 at a Texas prison with the support of George W. Bush, who was governor at the time — says on its Web site that it seeks "to ‘cure’ prisoners by identifying sin as the root of their problems" and showing inmates "how God can heal them permanently, if they turn from their sinful past." (8)
And before you light the lamps and sing Hallelujah, the program appears to be just another way to get taxpayers to pad the pockets of the corporate sector, and the Corrections Corporation of America is ready to elevate Colson to sainthood.
... the Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest prison management company, with 65 facilities and 71,000 inmates under its control, is substantially expanding its religion-based curriculum and now has 22 institutions offering residential programs similar to the one in Iowa. And the federal Bureau of Prisons, which runs at least five multifaith programs at its facilities, is preparing to seek bids for a single-faith prison program as well. (8)
What was revealed in these prison programs, was just another abuse of taxpayers money.  Using government grants to establish the InnerChange, Prison Fellowship was sued by Iowa taxpayers and inmates.
In ruling on that case, Judge Pratt noted that the born-again Christian staff was the sole judge of an inmate’s spiritual transformation. If an inmate did not join in the religious activities that were part of his "treatment," the staff could write up disciplinary reports, generating demerits the inmate’s parole board might see. Or they could expel the inmate.

And while the program was supposedly open to all, in practice its content was "a substantial disincentive" for inmates of other faiths to join, the judge noted. Although the ministry itself does not condone hostility toward Catholics, Roman Catholic inmates heard their faith criticized by staff members and volunteers from local evangelical churches, the judge found. And Jews and Muslims in the program would have been required to participate in Christian worship services even if that deeply offended their own religious beliefs. (8)
These religious organizations, operate with little or no scrutiny, despite the fact that they received hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money.

And What Does This Have to Do With Us

Chuck Colson's Prison Fellowship has gone international, and though operating in Canada for several years, it would appear that their activities are being accelerated.  News from Offenders Aid and Rehabilitation Services (OARS) in South Australia:

Local media has been covering the proposal by Prison Fellowship SA to develop an overtly Christian wing in one of the South Australia prisons.   Whilst this may seem a good idea on the surface of it, OARS SA is not generally supportive of this notion.   Prison Fellowship International has been advocating this approach for many years and a number of such services have been implemented in the United States and Canada.  The evidence about the success of this approach is not strong, and some Governments appear to have used Churches and or their associated NGO's to fund services that should rightly be funded by themselves.   In advocating for such a prison wing in Canada recently, Prison Fellowship Canada, among other things, suggested that "We would not require someone to be a professing Christian to enter but we certainly would expect them to be respecting the values and principles that we would be engaged in." 
This underscores the essential dilemma for me.   It is the clear experience of OARS SA that one needs to be very careful about offering redemption to people who are incarcerated and have very few alternatives or hope.  It can be be potentially very damaging in the long term, and it is possible that false conversions happen simply to get some support.   Another potentially negative factor is the damage caused when an elite or special wing is structured in any prison that provides opportunities not available to everyone. (9)
When the Harper government closed the Prison Farms, they claimed that they had other rehabilitation programs in mind.  Is this what they meant?

In Canada, Prison Fellowship does a lot of good work, but they can't be an alternative to time tested rehabilitation programs.  And they should only be one of several other initiatives.

During the last election campaign, the Conservatives focused on Human Trafficking, even suggesting that Michael Ignatieff was in favour of the horrendous practice.  However, what Ignatieff was opposed to was the part of the bill allowing those 'rescued" to be incarcerated for up to a year, including women and children.

Researching private prisons and Chuck Colson, I discovered that even immigrant detention centres are going corporate.   Immigrants for sale, while reports of wholesale abuse, sexual and physical, in these facilities are on the rise.

And Corrections Corporation of America run several of them

All part of the Prison Industrial Complex.

So is Chuck Colson a saint or a sinner?  He has certainly wormed his way back into the halls of power.

Some have compared him to Francis Schaeffer, the unwitting architect of the Religious Right, but Schaeffer's son disagrees.  He says that Colson is nothing like his father, and is just another opportunist cashing in on religion.

We have to remember that everything Stephen Harper does is motivated by the profit margin, for those who have put him in power.  (He still refuses to tell us who financed his leadership bid to take over the Alliance Party, Now the CPC)  And the majority of his policies are not only motivated by Republican policies, but many are also written in the USA.

It shouldn't be this hard for the Canadian media to keep us informed.  Why do I  have to let my fingers travel around the world, just to try and figure out what Stephen Harper and his Christian Right is up to?

The crime of media silence.  Is there a corporate funded detention centre for those guys?


1. The Story of the Caribbean People, By James Ferguson, Randle Publishers, 1998, ISBN-10: 976812377X, p. 132

2. William Wilberforce was complicit in slavery, Stephen Tomkins, The UK Guardian, August 3, 2010

3, Will the Real William Wilberforce Please Stand Up, Pan-Afrikan Society of London South Bank University, 2007

4. Stephen Harper opens door to prison privatization, By Alex Roslin, Straight Goods,

5. Experiment in private prison, Penetanguishene, By Mirko Petricevic, Kitchener Waterloo Record, September, 13, 2000

6. US: America's Private Gulag, by Ken SilversteinPrison Legal News, June 1st, 2000

7. For profit chain gangs in Michigan? Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, December 17, 2008

8. In God's Name: Religion for Captive Audience, with taxpayers Footing the Bill, By Diana B. Henriques and Andrew Lehren, New York Times, December 10, 2006

9. OARS SA, CEO Blog, December 16, 2009

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Canadian Manifesto 8: Purgatory and the Divine Right of Kings

Rick Perry, the frontfunner in the Republican presidential candidate race, created a bit of a stir during a recent debate, by boasting that as governor of Texas, he had sent 234 inmates to their death.

But while the mediator seemed to be a little shocked by this claim, the Republican audience cheered. He had set a new record in the United States, the previous one held by George W. Bush, who had enacted what Perry called "ultimate justice", on a mere 152.

While clearly this gave Bush and Perry a feeling of power, it was actually something more. European monarchs believed that their powers came directly from God, meaning that they governed by "divine right".

The new Religious Right/Neoconservative/Republicans, feel the same way. God has entrusted them to rule over the people, and they would do that using "God's Law", as appearing in the Old Testament.

However, this is more than just "an eye for an eye", but punishment for creating "mortal sins" that are a "grave violation of God's law" that "turns man away from God", causing his "exclusion from Christ's Kingdom".

They had to be dealt with severely and since God had bestowed the "divine right of kings" on Perry and Bush et al, it was up to them to enact His law in their earthly kingdoms.

George Bush defended his position, by saying “I take every death penalty case seriously and review each case carefully…. Each case is major because each case is life or death.”

Yet when journalist Alan Berlow, used the Public Information Act to gain access to confidential death penalty memos from Bush’s legal counsel, Alberto R. Gonzales, he discovered that there were no such reviews conducted.

The name was presented with a briefing on the crimes they were convicted of, and then rubber stamped "die sinner". Those weren't the words used of course, but it was with that sentiment.

Had they actually reviewed the case of Terry Washington, a mentally challenged man of thirty-three, with the communication skills of a seven-year-old, Bush might have shown mercy. (1)

But there is no mercy for those banished from Christ's Kingdom.

Rick Perry not only refused to weigh evidence before putting people to death, but tried to stop an investigation into the wrongful execution of Cameron Todd Willingham, a father convicted of murdering his children when he "set fire" to his home. Scientific evidence suggested that this was not an arson case and therefore, not a murder case.

The Texas Tribune reports that the Willingham case was not the only one that warranted scrutiny. Perry allows his religion to guide him, ignoring rational thought and common decency.

When questioned he just uses his fall back position. It was what God wanted and his divine duty to carry it through.

In 1998, a survey was conducted in the United States concerning the death penalty.  It revealed a high level of support for it, from Evangelical Christians.  When broken down further, those Evangelicals who believed in a vengeful God were more apt to agree with putting people to death, than those who believed in a loving God.

Not surprisingly, the lowest level of support came from black respondents.

This speaks to the fact that blacks are more likely to be convicted of crime, and less likely to receive justice.  The same can be said for poor people.

In his book, Crazy for God, son of Francis Schaeffer, the architect of the Religious Right, tells us that the movement was as much about race as religion.

In their book, Divided by Faith, Michael Emerson and Christian Smith, argue that "Evangelicals desire to end racial division and inequality, and attempt to think and act accordingly. But, in the process, they likely do more to perpetuate the racial divide than they do to tear it down."  This is because of a "theological world view that makes it difficult for them to perceive systematic injustices in society."

Therefore, when it comes to their penchant for the death penalty, it would stand to reason that they would feel that they would be more likely to receive justice, and less likely to be wrongly accused.

Criminal Justice and Purgatory

American conservative, William F. Buckley Jr., once wrote of punishment for crime, or more specifically community service as a punishment for some crime, as being a kind of purgatory, a place where it is believed that some sinners go to be cleansed before entering heaven.

And since punishment for crime, is a kind of penance, why not treat it as such?  Invoking the views of Irving Kristol, Buckley ponders spiritual punishment.  As an example, he says that if a young man is caught defacing a synagogue, he should be assigned a "half-dozen books of Jewish literature to study". (2)

I was raised Catholic and remember my weekly "confessions" before I could receive Holy Communion.  I'd memorize my little speech before entering the confessional.  "Bless me father for I have sinned.  it has been one week since my last confession, and since then I have lied three times, hit my brother twice and stole a cookie".  Most of this I made up, not because I was without sin, but because I honestly couldn't account for them all.  I would be excited if there was one particular one that stood out.

As contrition, I would then be told to say a number of Hail Marys and Our Fathers, which I dutifully carried out, and the cycle would begin again.

However, it meant nothing.  Just rote and ritual.

If a "sinner" is assigned biblical passages or divine literature as penance, there is less of a chance for true remorse.  Yes, a few might be converted, but on the whole, I think it is a weak strategy for crime prevention.

Besides, clearly Buckley misunderstands the purpose of Purgatory.  It is not merely a resting place.  Those sent there were required to feel the pain of the fires of Hell.  Though temporary, pain is a requirement.  Does he really want pain associated with scripture or divine literature?


No doubt those believing in a vengeful God would.

Necon Tim Hudak wants to bring back chain gangs in Ontario. Repent! Repent! Repent!

In the documentary Memorandum, filmed twenty years after the liberation of prisoners from the death camps in Germany, they speak of a Nazi tormentor, who would break from torturing Jews to recite scripture aloud.  Purgatorial Justice reminds me of that Nazi officer, who obviously believed that he was "cleansing" their immortal souls. 

Stephen Harper's Divine Right

In January of this year, Harper made headlines when he told Peter Mansbridge that he believed in the death penalty.  This wasn't news to those who had followed his career.  He drafted policy for the Reform Party, and reinstating the death penalty was high on the list of priorities.

In fact, they also believed that children as young as ten should be sent to prison.  Fortunately, when they presented a motion to that affect, it was turned down with a resounding "NO".

Another Reform MP, Art Hanger, planned a visit to Singapore to study the art of "caning", to deal with young offenders.  When it was made public, he cancelled his trip. (3)

Harper's Reformers believe in swift and absolute "justice" to enact God's law.

The media is missing his agenda.  While he claims that he won't reopen debate on abortion, roll back women's rights or reinstate the death penalty, he is in fact doing all of those things under their radar.

Facing criticism for his silencing of the press, he held a media event, allowing young people to ask him questions.  Of course, all had to be presented in advance, so his answers could be scripted.

But not only were the answers penned by the boys in the backroom, but the questions were also being tweaked.

Youths who participated in a question-and-answer session with Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Monday say their questions were edited by the Prime Minister’s Office. Other youths had earlier explained that the questions were selected by Vision Internationale, a non-profit Christian group, and then edited by Harper’s office. (4)
And when Anna Fricker, a young ambassador for the group, discovered that her question on maternal health had been edited, to remove the mention of abortion, she spoke out:
Fricker was then interrupted by an organizer who would not identify herself except to say, "I’m supposed to be handling the media." "I would appreciate if you could just work with us so that we can keep this consistent message," she said. "I’m just supposed to keep this under control." (4)
A Christian organization hired to stifle dissent and suppress free speech.

A Manitoba judge appointed by Harper, allowed a rapist to go free because he claimed that the victim had dressed "too sexy".  Another in Ontario contemplated that drunkenness could be used as a defense against some crimes, presumably domestic violence and "date rape".

Stephen Harper doesn't have to get his hands dirty.  All of this is being done behind the scenes, incrementally.
"All lasting change is incremental" - Richard Nixon (from his memoirs Seize the Moment)
 Mark Warner, a former Conservative candidate who was replaced because he refused to remove the fact that he had attended an International Aids Conference from his campaign literature, believes that Harper is using backroom machinations to bring back the death penalty to Canada, by setting precedent.

What would have happened if Harper had been prime minister when David Milgaard or Donald Marshall were falsely convicted of murder? Would he simply do what Bush and Perry did, suggest that he had carefully reviewed their cases before implementing his "divine right"?

When the Harperites speak of Christian government and God's law, it's important that we understand what that means, before we all end up in Purgatory.


1. Death in Texas, By Sister Helen Prejean, The New York Review, January 13, 2005 .

2. Happy Days Were Here Again: Reflections of a Libertarian Journalist, By William F. Buckley, Jr., Adams Publishing, 1993, 1-55850-471-0, p. 262

3. Caning trip cancelled. (Reform Party justice critic Art Hanger cancels trip to Singapore to evaluate the caning of criminals), Maclean's Magazine, April 1, 1996  

4. The Chronicle Herald, May 18, 2010

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Canadian Manifesto 7: From the Book of Genesis

The idea of a "new conservatism" took root after World War II, ignited by the fear of Communism. But it was Irving Kristol, a former Trotskyite, who first promoted the idea of creating a political movement under the banner of Neoconservatism.

A confirmed Straussian, it was Kristol who suggested that they team up with the Religious Right, following Leo Strauss's axiom that religion was necessary to control the masses.

According to Shadia Drury in her book , Leo Strauss and the American Right:
...Kristol shares Strauss's view that a healthy dose of religious enthusiasm is indispensable for transcending the nihilism that is at the root of America's troubles. He is so convinced of the political utility of religion that he is blind to the immoderate nature of groups such as the Moral Majority of Jerry Falwell or the Christian Coalition of Pat Robertson and Ralph Reed. Kristol has encouraged the Republican party to embrace the religious right; and the party has been listening. (1)
Stephen Harper has also been listening, telling his followers to forget the tired wish list of the fiscal conservatives, and embrace the ideology of the social conservatives, or what he calls "theocons", as a route to holding on to power. (2)

It's important to understand that the tenets of religion are immaterial. Both Kristol and Strauss were Jewish, and Strauss himself claimed not to understand Christianity, believing it to be rather foolish.

Says Drury: 'Strauss believes that a healthy society is one that is bound together by a single authoritative truth that provides the citizens with shared values and a common way of life'.

He saw an irresolvable conflict between the interests of the individual and the interests of society, and felt that the conflict could only be resolved,
...by lies and deceptions, and that the greatest among these is religion. The reason is that human beings are selfish and self-centered and will not be willing to sacrifice themselves for others in the absence of belief in a god who punishes the wicked and rewards the just. Further, Strauss believes that the existence of such a god cannot be established by reason or philosophy. The gods of "shuddering awe" are necessary to civilize humanity and to turn natural savages into husbands, fathers, and citizens. What is needed is something grand enough to capture the human imagination, something magnificent and majestic, something splendid and sublime, such as Judaism, Christianity, or Islam.(3)
And yet we are witnessing the results of too much religion that has manifested itself in terrorism, both foreign and domestic.

Following Francis Schaeffer's belief in the necessity of a Northern European* (which includes Canada, Australia and New Zealand) revolution to turn this cabal of states into a Christian theocracy, the Neocons have selected that particular religion, while bringing Judaism along for the ride, with both fighting the forces of Islam, in what they call "a clash of civilizations".

Recently, Stephen Harper claimed that 'Islamicism' is the biggest threat to Canada. The religion. And he promises to bring back tough Patriot Act style legislation, no doubt targeting all who practice the faith.

In Canada.

It breaks my heart.

So What's Wrong With a Christian Nation?

Nothing. Many former leaders have been guided by faith. Tommy Douglas was Evangelical and gave us universal healthcare. J.S. Woodsworth was Evangelical and gave us prison reform. Lester Pearson was Evangelical and gave us the peacemakers.

Harry Stevens, a cabinet minister in the government of R.B. Bennett, followed what he referred to as "Christian economics". (4)  He fought against corporations who were destroying small business, and headed a Parliamentary Committee and Royal Commission, investigating the practices of chains like Simpsons and Eatons, referring to them as "big shots".

William "Bible Bill" Aberhart, also embraced the war on "big shots", lamenting so much "poverty in the midst of plenty", during the Great Depression.

But today's Christian Right movement is different.  It is embraced by "big shots" and defined by corporate greed, war profiteering and righteous indignation.  They hate any form of liberalism, socialism and even democracy, which they believe is over rated.  Instead, it is being replaced with what they call "authoritarian democracy", where you must not demand, but obey.

The National Citizens Coalition, that Stephen Harper left to run for the leadership of the Alliance Party, not only promote a free market (with no pesky regulations or need to pay taxes), but endorse the notion that government should only be responsible for foreign policy and defense. (5)  The religious side of our government, led by men like Ted Byfield, feel that the only thing government should regulate is morality.

I can't imagine living in a country like that, though I suppose we might have to get used to it, if the left can't get their act together.

But What if We Don't Go to Church

There are many radicals in the movement, who would like nothing better than for "Northern Europe" to become a church-going nation (?), led by the United States.  Jeffrey A. Eisenach, formerly with the now defunct,  Progress and Freedom Foundation, takes it even further, as they must reclaim the world for Christianity.
Should the world fail to understand this messianic role of the USA, there will be need of recourse to “compelle intrare,” based on which Saint Augustine approved forcible joining of heretics to the Church.
However, Strauss suggested that political leaders didn't really need to go to church or practice any faith, so long as they understood the importance of using it to manipulate.

When researching his book, Stephen Harper and the Future of Canada, William Johnson interviewed Harper's former fiancee, Cynthia Williams.   When asked about his faith she became embarrassed and said that they never went to church or anything.  (6)  Harper's VP at the National Citizens Coalition, Gerry Nicholls, confirmed this, but said that Harper did have strong "spiritual" ideas. (7)

Ezra Levant has denied that Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, was a Christian fundamentalist, because he never went to church.  But you don't have to go to church to believe in something, and the manifesto he created made it clear that Europe must return to it's Christian roots.

The New York Times referred to this new doctrine as a "civilizational war that represents the closest thing yet to a Christian version of Al Qaeda." 

I suspect that Harper's Evangelism is more political than ecclesiastical.  He is one of The Chosen.

OK.  So Whose Version of Christianity Do We Obey?

Ronald Reagan moved Evangelicals into his government at an alarming rate.  Stephen Harper has done the same.  The idea is to restructure our laws to fit with The Old Testament.  I get it.

But Christian sects are often at odds with each other, in how they interpret the Bible.

In his book, Faith in the Halls of Power, D. Michael Lindsay discusses this, using as an example, the Aids crisis.  Gary Bauer, Reagan's family values czar, felt that Aids was God's punishment for homosexuality.  However, C. Evertt Koop, partner of Francis Schaeffer and Reagan's Surgeon General, disagreed.  He thought it his Christian duty to help, and the Koop Report promoted safe sex, including the use of condoms, anathema to many in the movement.

Harper appears to have painted himself into a corner on this issue.  He refused to attend an International Aids Conference and scrapped plans to build an Aids vaccine plant, in favour of bullet factory, though he cashed in on a photo-op with Bill Gates, who was willing to help finance the former.

Part of this neocon/Religious Right mandate, is to remove the teaching of evolution from classrooms, and replace it with Creationism.  But again, whose version?

According to John Baldock (Women in the Bible), there are at least two versions. 
In weaving together two accounts of the creation of the universe from different traditions, the opening chapters of Genesis offer us contrasting images of the nature of the relationship between man and woman. In the first account, which dates from C-400BC and is the more recent of the two, the relationship is seen as one of equals for we are told that God 'created humankind asleep he removed one of his ribs and made it into a woman. Whet the man saw her, he said, 'she shall be called Woman [Hebrew] in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them'. ... However, in the second account, which is dated to I000-900BC, we are told that God first created 'the man', then the plants, animals and birds. He then caused the man to fall into a deep sleep, and while he was asleep he removed one of his ribs and made it into a woman.
This is why we need the separation of Church and State.  It's that simple.  And we need the truths of science, not "noble lies".  Everyone should be allowed to practice their religion freely without being put on a list.

The neocons tell us that they are doing "God's work".  But looking at the Tea Party and the new right's addiction to war and greed, have they ever considered that this might just be the devil's handiwork?

Just a thought.


*The idea of a 'Northern European' Christian movement, comes from the Reformation when Northern Europe, with the exception of Ireland and pockets of Britain, turned Protestant, and southern Europe remained Catholic, while Central Europe fought holy wars for the remainder.  The belief is that the "colonies" were won by the Protestants.


1. Leo Strauss and the American Right, By Shadia B. Drury, St. Martin's Press, 1999, ISBN: 0-312-12689-1, p. 19

2. Stephen Harper and the Theo-cons: The rising clout of Canada's religious right, By Marci McDonald, The Walrus, October 2006

3. Drury, p. 11-12

4. Reaction and Reform: The Politics of the Conservative Party Under R.B. Bennett 1927-1938, By Larry A. Glassford, University of Toronto Press, 1992, ISBN: 0-8020-7673-4, p. 139

5. The Myth of the Good Corporate Citizen: Canada and Democracy in the Age of Globalization, By Murray Dobbin, James Lorimer & Company, 2003, ISBN: 1-55028-785-0, Pg. 200-203 2

6. Stephen Harper and the Future of Canada, by William Johnson, McClelland & Stewart, 2005, ISBN 0-7710 4350-3

7. Loyal to the Core: Stephen Harper Me and the NCC, By: Gerry Nicholls, Freedom Press, 2009, ISBN: 978-0-9732757-8-0

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Canadian Manifesto 6: To Every Action There is a Reaction. Cough, Cough!

Isaac Newton may not have had neoconservatism in mind when he wrote his laws of motion, but it seems fitting when discussing the multitude of think tanks and AstroTurf groups that back up the movement.

Most were created in reaction to an action that went against their ideology, or to bolster a policy being implemented by a neocon government. They are also important to industry lobbyists, since all are financed by large corporations hoping to dictate public policy.

If you want to follow the money I suggest you read Donald Gutstein's Not a Conspiracy Theory: How Business Propaganda Hijacks Democracy. Well researched and informative.

Beginning in the 1980s and throughout the 1990s, many books and papers were published detailing Canada's neoconservative movement, courtesy of the Chicago School and Uncle Sam.

This was back in the day when we were allowed to call Stephen Harper and his entourage neocons, without having to face a verbal firing squad.

I've began rereading several of my books from that time, now that we've had a federal neocon government for five years, and in Ontario Tim Hudak's neoconservatives have a good chance of retaking Ontario. (Mike Harris was the first to advance the interests of the American Neoconservatives)

The authors, journalists and pundits who were sounding the alarm back then, may take little comfort in knowing how right they were, but their words can still be used to educate Canadians today, especially the media.

The late Dalton Camp, former president of the now defunct federal Progressive Conservative Party (folded in 2003), wrote many columns on Preston Manning's* cozy relationship with the American neocons, including Mr Manning Goes to Washington ((did his then lieutenant, Stephen Harper, carry the luggage?), that was reprinted in his book, Whose Country is This Anyway?

However, another column he wrote, helps to reveal how these think tanks/AstroTurf groups work: Luntz of Luch With Newt (first appeared on March 17, 1995).

In it he discusses Manning's appearance with Newt Gingrich on National Empowerment Television in the U.S.. The Newt was rewarding Manning for helping him to storm Washington in 1994.

As a bit of background (I have a lot more on this which will appear in another element of the Canadian Manifesto), NET was the brainchild of Paul Weyrich, the man who helped Stephen Harper in 2006, by demanding that his flock stay silent on Harper's involvement with the American Neoconservative/Religious Right.

The late Weyrich was also a key strategist for the paleoconservative movement (white nationalism), that includes early Reform Party inspiration and Harper's favourite author, Peter Brimelow; and founder of The Christian Coalition**,  Pat Robertson.

That's Why he Makes the Big Bucks

According to Camp:
Most of the questions addressed to the Reform leader came from Newt's co-host on the show, Heather Higgins ***, a woman with a ful­some, incandescent smile sufficient to melt the polar ice cap. Also present as interlocutor, and lending a little verisimilitude, was Frank Luntz, president of Luntz Research, who, according to Higgins, was "very much involved" in helping the Reform Party in its recent Canadian electoral success in 1993. Luntz is something of an over­achiever in the polling and consulting business; his clients have included not only Gingrich and Manning, but also Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan.
A little cross border back scratching.

It was Frank Luntz who advised Stephen Harper to talk about hockey every chance he got, tapping into a national symbol.
"If there is some way to link hockey to what you all do, I would try to do it."
Luntz also inspired several of Harper's counterparts, like William Kristol, son of the late Irving Kristol. Back to Camp's column:
As made clear in a recent magazine piece, Luntz is a neo-conserv­ative of Gingrichian proportions. He favours the immediate elimina­tion of public funding for the arts, the humanities, and the Public Broadcasting Service. Before eliminating farm subsidies, Luntz would prefer them to be included in a wider range of cuts. "If every­one is giving up something at the same time, it's okay," he is quoted saying. "But if we make the farmers go first, we're going to get killed in the farm community. We've all got to go together."

This sort of pragmatic counselling excites Luntz's colleagues, such as William Kristol, who explains, "That's why Frank gets the big bucks."
If you can make a fortune with that drivel, perhaps we could all be rich.

Instead of stealing one woman's purse, steal the purses of all women. Instead of kicking one man in the shin, kick the shins of all those around him. How can anyone demand sympathy, when so many are squealing with the same pain or loss?

Yet that is why "he gets the big bucks"? Frightening.

Now to My Point.  Cough, Cough!

The above may seem irrelevant, but in fact it is enlightening, for other reasons than a simple blast from the past, since it helps to explain how organizations like Canada's Fraser Institute function.  When Stephen Harper was  helping to create the Reform Party, he visited the Fraser, to see what they could do to help.  When named prime minister,  he rewarded them with new beneficial tax polices.

To give some idea of how the Fraser works, we can compare them to the group who sponsored the Manning/Luntz comedy hour on Weyrich's National Empowerment Television.  Back to Dalton Camp:
I had been witness to a television production involving the second most powerful politician in America and the leader of the third most populous party in the Canadian Parliament and ... ? Well, it was a little hard to say—until the last words appeared on the tube, inviting viewers with questions or comments to write "The Progress and Freedom Foundation."

Every totalitarian or authoritarian movement in history co-opts the language of democracy in order to conceal its purpose. The Soviet commissars could scarcely draw a breath without invoking peace or liberty or freedom**** or progress. Even as the gulags were filling up with their victims, the regime celebrated its legitimacy by claiming itself to be the one true instrument of all the people.
The true instrument of the people wielded by big business.  From the New York Times, February 11, 1995:
"One source of financing of Mr. Gingrich's college video courses is the Progress and Freedom Foundation, a conservative advocacy group in Washington. Among the foundation's donors are half a dozen companies that do business with the agency, including two for which Mr. Gingrich has personally written letters urging approval of their products, [FDA] documents show."
The list of supporters in 1998, included tobacco giants Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds.  In a letter to PFF from then VP of Public Affairs for  Philip Morris:  "…Philip Morris is pleased with the exciting work you have done, especially in the area of deregulation, and are glad to continue working with you."

The Fraser Institute, which was established in reaction to the election of  NDP  Dave Barrett  as premier of B.C., also receives a great deal of funding from the American tobacco industry.

In fact, when they were establishing their Social Affairs Centre, according to Fraser Institute sources, money could not initially be found to start it, "so the staff went to New York and secured funding from Philip Morris."

As reward, the institute then released papers, suggesting that second hand smoke was not harmful, using crack medical teams from local bars opposing anti-smoking legislation.

I don't know if they copied their work from the American think tanks, but if you peruse them, you'll find many that challenge anti-smoking laws by again suggesting that second hand smoke is not harmful, including Paul Weyrich's Heritage Foundation.  (he was a busy man)

With NET now defunct, they used Fox News to sell it.  However, all of this was in reaction to the action of anti-smoking laws, that ban lighting up in public places.  (You should hear them huff and puff over the new ads on cigarette packages).

A Perfect Example

All of these right-wing think tanks and AstroTurf groups have several things in common, not limited to their funding.  One of them, is the easy movement of staff from their offices to the government offices, and vise versa.

The directors of The Progress and Freedom Foundation, included not only heavyweights like Kenneth Starr, the man who worked to impeach Bill Clinton, but also people like Jeffrey Eisenach, who worked as a senior policy advisor for the Federal Trade Commission under Reagan and Bush, senior and junior.  Kenneth Ferree, who spent time with the Federal Communications Commission under G.W. and several others who worked directly for Dick Cheney.

One of the best tests for Newton's Theory in Canada, relates to Ridley Terminals in B.C.

The first action was to clean up the books of the federally owned terminals, and determine whether or not they could be made profitable.  The first reaction was the hiring of Dan Veniez, to do a bit of house cleaning.

The next action was Veniez' s recommendation that they sell the terminals, since they would always be a cash cow.  The reaction was John Baird's, who immediately flapped his way to Vancouver, to fire the highly competent Veniez.  This was in response to the American Coal industry, who needed those terminals to remain subsidized.

When Veniez went public with the reasons why taxpayers were being bilked, the AstroTurf groups started kicking up divots.  Said Terrance Corcoran in the Financial Post:
In the great scheme of Canada’s economy, Ridley Terminals Inc. is no big deal. With annual revenue of just under $25-million, the Crown corporation operates a bulk-commodity handling facility off Ridley Island in Prince Rupert, B.C., 1,000 kilometres north of Vancouver. FP Comment’s editorial team has never been to Ridley Terminals, and wouldn’t know a bulk handling facility from the Coney Island Cyclone Ride. What we do know, when we see it, is big time corporate subsidy seeking, backroom politics, scheming lobbyists and cabinet ministers throwing their weight around to satisfy the big time corporate interests.
He nailed it. 

One of the AstroTurf groups working for corporate interests, was the Ridley Terminals Users Group, funded by Houston based  Global Public Affairs, lobbying reactionarieswho have worked with  George W. Bush.

With slight of hand, Stephen Harper removed Erin Wall as administrative assistant to his MP Brian Jean, then Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities (aka John Baird) and sent her to work for Global Public Affairs as a registered lobbyist for thier afiliate, International Commodity Export Corporation, the largest beneficiary of government subsidies to the Ridley terminals.

On the same day, June 19, 2009, just before the firing of Dan Veniez, ICEC underwent a name change  to give it the appearance of a Canadian company.  You'll notice that they altered the date of this name change in June of 2011, but I believe I still have a screen shot of the original in my files.

Regardless, you get an idea of how this works, resulting in the Canadian taxpayers subsidizing the American coal industry.

And that is not the only example.  There are many, including Josh McJannet who was the contact person for the AstroTurf group The Canadians For Afghanistan.  McJannet was a former staffer of both Conservative Jay Hill and Rahim Jaffer, who registered as a lobbyist for Summa Strategies, an Ottawa government-relations firm that counts some defence contractors, including U.S. aircraft manufacturer Boeing, among its clients.

For every action there is a reaction, with the motion being the flow of our tax dollars to corporate interests, on both sides of the border.

And you wonder why Paul Weyrich wanted to protect Stephen Harper.  He is pure gold to the American neoconservatives.


* Manning was the first leader of the Reform Party which became the Alliance Party, which became the Conservative party of Canada

**The same year that Manning went to Washington, Jason Kenney and others from Canada's Critian Right attended a conference there, importing Robertson's 'Coaltiion', thus creating the Canadian Christian Coaltiion.

*** Higgins would also write for the godfather of the Neoconservatism, Irving Kristol's The Public Interest, and become involved in the Independent Women's Forum, and anti-feminsit organization that dispute the notion of a gender gap. Similar to our REAL Women of Canada.

**** The National Citizens Coalition, that Harper once headed up, hand out a Medal of Freedom every year.  Both Stephen Harper and Preston Manning are past recipients of this prestigious (?) honour.