Category Archives: BASH

Electioneering and the Upcoming Media War on the Opposition

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Speculation has it that Stephen Harper with have tea with Guv’na tomorrow (interrupting everyone’s long weekend) pleading for an election.

My basic prediction is that Slippery Steve has a card up his sleeve and we will find out tomorrow what it is.

Until then, let me share my theory as to what it is.  I think he will call an early election, with a date that will likely fall shortly after Labour Day weekend.

First, think of the context.  It will be yet another twist in the endless media war that Stephen Harper is waging against Canadians and their non-Conservative, political parties.

Prone to cheesy tactics, breaking the rules, cheating, lying, stealing democratic rights and various other Machiavellian schemes that would make the Prince proud, but this time, even the UN is watching him and we can expect international inspection as the date approaches.

As I say, I believe that Stephen Harper and the Conservatives will request that the writ be dropped tomorrow, but that they will also stick to the ‘standard’ election time-frame of 30-35 days.

I believe that he will use the following arguments for breaking his own rule concerning a fixed election date:

  1. It will save money.  Right now, an 11-week campaign is projected to cost Canadians an extra $125 million (minimum).  Not the ‘sound financial management’ that Steve repeatedly promises.
  2. They would like to ‘respect tradition’ and would like to ensure that the election is not the longest in Canadian history.
  3. An earlier election eliminates any possibility of ‘confusion’ concerning third-party attack ads that are crushing Stephen Harper in the polls.
  4. He wants to avoid the accusation of draining the coffers of opposition parties ‘unfairly’, masking what I believe to be the real truth:  the Conservatives don’t have as much money as everyone thinks.

Being the cynic and despot that he is, he’ll call an election just after Labour Day because no one will be around or they’re dropping off kids for first day of school.

It might even play into the hands of pissed off parents who could potentially be in the middle of a teacher’s strike in Ontario in September.  The Liberals AND NDP will not look good if this happens, resulting in advantage Steve.

It’ll help him avoid a new wave of questioning with the Senate scandal, dodging tricky questions about Nigel Wright, Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and others that would otherwise stall the Conservative campaign.

Finally – and most importantly in my view – Stephen Harper will act on long cooked plans to screw the opposition in the upcoming media war.  Yes, I said Steve may be the only one who knows the actual date, but it’s likely that his media buyers have been aware of the actual date for some time, booking TV, print, radio and magazine ads in the middle of summer … when no one else is buying them.

Cheap, available, prime spots.  Nothing the opposition will get.

All of the other parties – thinking the ‘fixed’ election date was genuine – would have walked into contracts securing media for the latter half of September and October, but guess what?  They’ve bought nothing because they’ll have missed the election date by more than a month.

The outcry will be deafening, but there will be nothing Canadians can do.

Steve will have stolen the election.  Again.

Understanding the Current Canadian Political Situation

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The Canadian political landscape has a number of “elements” in play right now, all designed to confuse the hell out of the average Canadian voter.

I want to try to use this piece to dissect a couple of contentious activities.  That’s your cue to grab a cup of coffee and snuggle in for a few minutes because this does not merit a quick glance.

Robo-calls, Voter Suppression, Voter Lists & Marketing

Many in the media are asking really stupid questions right now about the depth and breadth of capabilities with respect to tracking individuals, their voter preferences and so on.  Others are asking equally naive questions about the range of marketing activities that are NOT organized in Canada.

Obviously, none of them have ever worked in the loyalty marketing business.  Or direct marketing business.  Or telemarketing businesses.  Or the advertising agency world.  Or online advertising.  Or politics.

They all seem to have this ‘Gee whiz’ kind of mindset that reinforces that they are clearly locked in the ‘Madmen’ era of when advertisers and communications experts didn’t have a clue about what they were doing, but still took all the credit when they sold a car or two because of a sexy car ad or funny catch phrase with toilet paper.

Guess what.  Things have changed.  A long ago, actually.

I don’t know if it’s intentional on behalf of the media pundits and journalists to seem stupid or if they just are stupid, but they are definitely missing the point that any organization can collect pretty much anything they want on me, my buying habits, my nose-picking habits, how many times I have a bowel movement and so on.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that one of the few exceptions to unsolicited calls – political parties – probably have the most complex databases concerning the activities of every single Canadian.

Further to this basic idea that enormous masses of data are being collected about every single one of our habits is the seeming surprise about the extent to which this is organized by American and generally non-Canadian companies.

The Airmiles program is owned by an American company.  Nearly every large agency in Canada is just a tiny cog in the enormous machinery of the top-5 global agencies and very few real decisions are actually made in Canada.

Hell, even StatsCan data now lies with Lockheed-Martin, a very not-Canadian company and one of the world’s largest manufacturers of military equipment.

That said, there continues to be a sense of surprise when we hear about American parent companies being involved with marketing decisions.  Sadly, many Canadians don’t realize that this is just routine.

The Solution?

The solution to the issue with robo-calls and resulting voter suppression is simple:  allow Canadians to add their names to the same Do Not Call Lists that the CRTC maintains when you get annoying calls about credit card offers, instant vacation awards, police balls and other crap.

More importantly, we need more control over our personal and private information.  If a political party wants to contact me, they need my permission first.  Email works that way.  Why can’t phone calls?

On the note about the agency world and most decisions being made outside Canada, that topic is beyond the scope of what is already a very long rant about our Canadian corporate and political environment.

Demographics, Dummygraphics and Datagraphics

I think we’ve all heard the term ‘demographics’ before.  It basically applies to groups of people, their behaviours and the impact of those behaviours.  ‘Baby Boomers’, ‘Generation X’ and ‘Digital Natives’ are all terms that relate to demographics.

Of course, marketers have stepped things up substantially and have designed and developed hundreds of categories related to individuals and their buying, political interests, love activities, drinking habits and so on and continue to collect this information so long as you use a credit card, bank card, cell phone, Gmail account, search and pretty much do anything else.

Dummygraphics is a new term that I will use here to describe a group of people that believe what the media and politicians tell them.  My first instincts with this word is that Boomers fit nicely into this category, but they don’t.  Dummygraphics apply to people that simply don’t get the idea that someone out there is lying to them so that they can gain at your expense.

People that receive phone calls on their land lines telling them repeatedly that they’re Liberals and that they want to piss you off even if you’re a card-carrying Liberal because we’re going to keep calling are locked into two issues:  they don’t know how to ignore the phone and they can’t get their name removed from voter calling lists.

Political cynics (and I won’t say Conservatives because I don’t want to fall victim to a $5 million lawsuit) leverage this stupidity to their advantage and win elections.  It sounds harsh, but it’s that simple.

If you believe that it’s all just one great big coincidence, you fit neatly into the Dummygraphic category.

Datagraphics is almost the opposite of Dummygraphics.  I don’t want to pretend that this group of people is smarter than the first, but there are hints that they too are cynics and will at least seek out alternatives when someone tells them a lie about simple things like polling stations.  They’ll double check their voter registration card.  They’ll call Elections Canada.  They’ll check with their local MP.

People in the Datagraphic category will find themselves reading alternatives to the mainstream media.  Not everything the Globe and Mail or Toronto Star says is paved with good intentions.  That’s (nearly) impossible when the party in power also pulls the strings with advertising budgets for Defense recruiting, Action Plans, CRA awareness and so on to the tune of $300-$500 million per year.

If you don’t believe, take a gander at the May 2011 election list of newspaper endorsements where nearly ALL of the mainstream media voices endorsed the very people that the majority of Canadians are working very hard to eliminate.  Not much of a challenge given that the mainstream media in Canada is really just 4-5 mega-conglomerates, including Bell, Rogers, Quebecor, Shaw, Telus, Transcontinental and Astral Communications.

The Solution?

Obviously, I have a bias to the Datagraphic category, but want to ensure that they get the right information.  We need to defeat Canada’s media conglomerates by shutting off our cell phones, signing up with Internet companies like TekSavvy and starving them of our attention.

Only when we boycott the major perpetrators of these crimes – our media conglomerates – will we see a little more balance in Canadian politics.

The other more actionable solution is to CHECK INFORMATION WHEN SOMEONE TELLS YOU SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR VOTING STATION.  Don’t take everything for granted and don’t believe some jack-ass who calls you in the middle of the night to tell you have to go to another county to vote.

The Merging of Business and Politics

The current array of scandals we’re enduring in Canada are, in my opinion, what happens when you merge business and politics.  More importantly, it’s a glimpse of what will happen as public policy becomes more commercial as opposed to public.

Robo-calls, tele-marketing, consumer lists, phone lists and so on all have nothing to do with public policy.  They have everything to do with coercion and the dying days of broadcasting.

You see, broadcast is nearly extinct.  It’s breathing its last breath.  TV, print and radio were once the “three legs that help up the table of marketing success”, but they no longer reach the audiences that they used to.  There’s too much fragmentation in the marketplace.  Therefore, we see a last desperate scramble to to control these last few modes of communication before they become completely pointless in the realm of politics.  And everything else, for that matter.

We’re already seeing the cracks in the strategy.  Anyone that does robo-calls has to do them to land lines.  Cell phone lines are too risky because histories are traced more effectively, messages can be recorded and easily shared and we return to the demographic discussion.  Most elderly people have land lines and most elderly people are prone to trust or believe someone when they get called by someone out of the blue telling them that they have to go to another polling station to vote.

My prediction is that the 2011 election will be the last effective use of this shameful and disgusting tactic because a growing percentage of the population – even those in the Dummygraphic category – will be using Internet connections for their land-lines and cell phone more frequently as their primary mode of communication.

Anyways, the key point here is that we – Earthlings, to be exact, but I’ll be happy if we start as Canadians – have been remiss in demanding a very simple idea:  the separation of State and Corporation.  In the Revolution Years, we demanded separation of Church and State and now we have to go the next step or we will LOSE ALL FREEDOMS in the interest of letting others making money of our personal information.

Especially political cynics and crooks.

The Solution?

Let’s be clear that I’m not anti-corporate or even anti-capitalist.

I just don’t think the merging of business and public policies are good ideas.  It’s impossible to build railroads, national digital strategies and other long-term investments when stockholders demand gains in the next quarter.

I’m not sure how it will be done, but we have to at least start sharing ideas about how to keep corporations out of our lives.

Bill C-30 and Anonymous

Rumour has it that ‘Anonymous’ is nothing but a tool of the CIA.  I doubt it’s true, but if it is, we see how Anonymous continues to fuck things up for your average Joe by dragging personal information about Vic Toews or anyone else out into the public domain.

It’s just not right.

Their actions, therefore, help reinforce the rumours and actually help to steel the resolve of ‘tough on crime’ morons by giving them all the excuses they need to remove the wonderful and powerful thing known as anonymity.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the pressure continues to mount, media morons chime in with the idea that we should have better capabilities when it comes to tracking and ultimately, robo-calling may even fall into this category as justification for better scrutiny to protect Canadians from those who would steer us wrong.

Imagine that:  Anonymous responsible for Bill C-30 so that we can get to the bottom of what’s happening with robo-calls and voter suppression.

How bizarre.

All of a sudden, the robo-call situation becomes Canada’s very own version of a digital equivalent to the Reichstag Fire.

Another issue in all of this?  I believe the whole thing is a sham because if the government or law enforcers want to collect information about me, they can and without a warrant.  Child pornographers are arrested every day as a result of following the law.

What’s critical in all of this is that we are starting to see that none of our politicians with any party want Canadians to know just how much THEY know about US.  If you knew, you’d be pissed and outraged and this very idea threatens politics in Canada substantially more than phone-call hijinks.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if investigations actually found that one or many of our politicians were in breach of Canadian privacy laws.

A Final Plea

If you’re one of the many people that worked on political campaigns through the spring of 2011 and you witnessed or were privy to some questionable tactics, please contact Elections Canada.

Our democracy desperately needs a handful of people who will make things right.

You’ve probably had non-disclosure agreements and threats of lawsuits thrown at you if you open your mouth about anything that you witnessed, but WE NEED YOU.  We need your courage.  We need your strength.  We need your knowledge.

When you come forward, Canadians will protect you because you’ll be doing the right thing.

And if you don’t?  Be prepared for a big-ass warrant to come your way and get your sphincter lubed up for some fun times in the joint because you will not be treated kindly by anyone that knocks on your door looking for information.

And the Conservatives will NOT have your back.

There Should Be No Statute of Limitations On Democracy

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Apparently, we are running out of time to run the Conservatives out of office.

According to this blog, we have 20 days to make our case.

If not, Canadians will have to continue to suffer at the hands of the Conservative Party of Canada.

FoneFraud: Stephen Harper vs Erin Brockovich

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Yes, I’m introducing this line of thought, but bear with me.

As a sheer coincidence, I was watching the movie Erin Brockovich last night and a number of comparisons and situations struck me as they relate to the Conservative Party of Canada ‘Fone Fraud Fiasco’.

In the movie, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) was the company being sued by hundreds of citizens of a little town called Hinkley.  They almost seemed to be daring the public to prove them wrong.  Is Stephen Harper basically daring anyone to challenge his authority on the situation at hand and is he defying all culpability and accountability in this situation?  It sounded that way in the House of Commons yesterday.

Like PG&E, Stephen Harper seems to represent the ‘corporate head office’ that is limited in any kind of liability because the subsidiary being sued didn’t have direct and routine contact with the head office (despite the obvious control, demand for paperwork, dividends, benefits, profits, etc).  According to Stephen Harper, there’s no knowledge of what happened, nor is there any history or documentation related to the Fone Fraud Fiasco.

Worse for Canada is the prospect that the organization responsible for investigating this fraud – Elections Canada – simply doesn’t have the resources available, possibly due to budget cuts, but realistically because they could never have imagined a crime so well organized, so well rehearsed and so immense to face Canadian voters.

Even worse still (yes!) is the prospect that if Elections Canada is not able to prosecute and jail the offenders in this case, politicians will likely expand their abuses of power and continue to exhibit their cynicism towards Canadian democracy as we wallow and weep in piles of paper and blogs.

Like PG&E victims, Canadians don’t know what to do, don’t know how to organize themselves and don’t really have a clue about how to approach the situation.  We certainly can’t expect our media to act in our best interests, as they clearly don’t support Canada, but they do support the CPC.

Result:  Our democracy will simply die from the cancer inflicted on us by our most cynical and teflon-coated politicians.

Is there hope?

Going back to the PG&E situation: the case was nearly a ruin.  They couldn’t connect the head office with the local company, so it was doomed to go sideways in courts and appeals until the resources of the plaintiffs would be exhausted.  Is Stephen Harper counting on the same situation to save himself from fraud charges?  Without evidence, there is no case.  Bits are trickling in, but they don’t seem to be enough to tip the scales against the Conservatives.

Until … Charles Embry, an ex-PG&E employee comes along and saves the massive class action lawsuit by confiding that he kept some of the files that execs with PG&E were so desperate to shred.

A hero by any account because he decided to do the right thing, Charles Embry took the high road and helped hundreds of people restore their faith in ‘the system’.

Will a Canadian version of Charles Embry step up to the plate and help blow this case wide open?  Who will be the one person who will restore the faith of millions of Canadian voters who got robbed on May 2, 2011?

And who will Canada’s Erin Brockovich be if things finally start to heat up (as they should)?  Can we trust Elections Canada and the RCMP to handle this case, knowing that so many of the senior managers have been placed by Stephen Harper?

Canada deserves better.  Let’s demand it now.

“Fone Fraud Fiasco” Finalizes Federal Fate

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Canada’s Fone Fraud Fiasco threatens to be the biggest corruption scandal uncovered.  Ever.

I’m mad.  I’m excited.  I’m frustrated.  I’m nervous.

The lines are finally buzzing with all kinds of demands from Canadian voters:

  • Fire them
  • Catch Harper in his own web
  • Recount, recall, by-elections
  • Restore Canadian democracy

This shit is hitting the fan.  Big.

It’s about time the nooks and crannies of the Conservative Party of Canada’s fraudulent activities pissed off enough Canadians to demand that Stephen Harper step down, but will he?

We know he’s good at blaming junior staffers and others for the mid-deeds and cheating of his party, but will he let go of his clench on power?

Will he continue to cower in his office, avoiding any responsibility, or will Stephen Harper finally own up to the mess that he’s created or at least enabled?

What will Canadians do to get justice in our democracy?  Will we demand recall?  Can we?  Will we organize a massive one-day strike against the Conservatives and their threats of austerity, fiscal waste and bloated military expenditures?

More than 30 ridings are in question now following the Fone Fraud Fiasco, more than enough to eliminate Stephen Harper’s majority.

How soon before we have our country back?