CFN– Like last century’s master of propaganda, Josef Goebbels, Sun Media columnist and “Ethical Oil” creator Ezra Levant is no idiot. Goebbels had a Doctorate degree in German literature – Levant graduated from the University of Alberta Law School. Both these gentlemen used the press effectively and to their advantage (Goebbels in Der Angriff and Volkischer Beobachter, Levant in the Toronto Sun and, among others, the Cornwall Standard Freeholder). Both these people were brilliant speakers – Goebbels in front of a live crowd, where he rivalled his Führer in oratorical brilliance, Levant on Fox News North, where he has the brains to argue a point far better than his own leader, Harper.
Both Goebbels and Levant are masters of the art of propaganda, i.e. changing or concealing reality. This manipulation of the truth has always been the main weapon of extremists, whether the Nazi Party in Germany, the Communist Party, the Tea Party/Republicans in the US, or the extreme right in the British and Canadian Conservative Parties.
The Media is the Key
In Nazi Germany, the State (or, more accurately, the Nazi Party) controlled not only the country’s educational system, but also the media. In Canada, the Conservative Party does not have direct ownership of the media as was the case in Germany, but it does have effective control through its big business allies.
Promoting the Canadian State Propaganda Apparatus
Quebecor, owned by Pierre Karl Péladeau, has almost a stranglehold on the popular media in Canada. Among other assets, through Sun Media the company owns 43 paid or free dailies in Canada’s major cities, as well as 200 local papers (including the Cornwall Standard Freeholder). For what it’s worth, they are also the world’s largest commercial printer. In addition, they have a major stake in Canada’s broadcasting industry. They own Videotron (cable TV and Internet Service Provider), Osprey Media (newspapers, especially in Ontario), Quebec’s TVA television network, and Quebec’s largest book and magazine distributors. Most notably for Canada as a whole, they own and control Fox News North (aka Sun News Network, Pravda Canada), one of Levant’s two principal propaganda platforms.
Quebecor, although its home is a province that has proved it wants nothing to do with the Harper Government, is basically run by the Conservative Party. Among its board of directors is former Prime Minister Brian Mulrony, who perhaps bears more responsibility than anyone for the success of the Reform Party. Another concrete link between Sun Media and the Conservative Party is Kory Teneycke, a former Director of Communications for Stephen Harper. After two years running Harper’s official propaganda machine, he worked briefly for Sun Media as a “strategic communications advisor.” Later, in July 2010 he accepted an appointment as Sun Media’s Vice-President for Development.
Although he soon resigned in disgrace, for allegedly spamming an on-line petition against Sun Media, he was rehired about three months later, once the furore had died down.
A good question is why the Harper Government didn’t hire the Master himself to replace Teneycke as the government’s official Propaganda Chief. One possibility is that Harper fears the highly intelligent and wily Levant, and to give him too good a view of the inside workings of the Prime Minister’s Office might eventually come back to haunt him. The other possibility is that Levant was passed over because of his past year working for Phillip Morris International, owners of Rothman’s. Although Levant’s stint as an official tobacco lobbyist is not well known, were it to have become common knowledge, it would have been embarrassing to the government. Among other things, he lobbied (successfully) against Health Canada’s plans to increase and intensify the warning labels on cigarettes, and against smuggling (which costs the tobacco industry money) rather than funding Health Canada’s anti-smoking programs. One of his self-admitted lobbying targets was, in fact, the very Prime Minister’s Office that passed him over.
Another possibility is that he makes more money with his show on Sun News Network and his propaganda columns in the Toronto Sun, along with his royalties from books such as Ethical Oil and “Fight Kyoto – the plan to protect our economy.” Being involved at less than arm’s length with the government might also have put crimps on his latest publishing endeavour – “The Enemy Within – Terror, Lies, and the Whitewashing of Omar Khadr.” Given the general conviction of Canadians towards this Toronto-born terrorist, it seems strange that Levant would bother writing a book about him, unless financial gain were a motive.
The Politics of Fear
The big fear during most of the twentieth century has been the Communists, and to some extent, the Nazis, (although this was relatively short lived). Since the dawn of the 21st century, we ourselves fear the Muslims, and since the start of the current 2008 depression, we fear for our jobs, our homes, our families and our prosperity. All these are reasonable fears – but ultimately, what people fear the most is losing their liberty.
What Big Business and the “one percenters” fear the most is loss of profit and control, and with good reason. If we had infinite resources, and infinite atmosphere and oceans to absorb the unhappy by-products from these resources, there would be no reason to fear. Unfortunately, resources are finite, as is the world’s capacity to absorb the pollution that comes with many of them.
So how does big business, especially Big Oil, fight back to protect its liberty to override the liberties of the other ninety-nine percent? They control the government (especially in the US) through political contributions, and the media through ownership. They use skilled propagandists like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Ezra Levant to persuade the other 99% that what is good for the super-rich, for Wal-Mart and Wall Street, for Péladeau, Murdoch and Black, for CAPP and the American Petroleum Institute, is also what is good for them. Through skillful manipulation of the media, people are persuaded that right is wrong, that black is white, that small “L” liberalism, the complete opposite of extremism, is a diabolical form of communism, and that the environmentalists’ true agenda is to bring us all down into a socialist stone age.
In the end, it comes down to one thing: will lies and half-truths told out of context defeat the reality of our current situation, or will the people of the western democracies wake up in time to prevent a complete meltdown of civilisation?