September 28, 2017

Moving past doubts about Canada’s self-image

Moving past doubts about Canada’s self-image

With the kids back to school, for Canadian households the fall season brings a few things back into sharp focus. We all have bills to pay, careers to foster, aging parents and extended family (sometimes on the other side of the world) to support.

And now there’s one more thing to add to the list of serious concerns. Canada’s future independence and success as a nation is facing some big challenges. We’re all familiar with the trials and tribulations of globalization. Love it or hate it, globalization means fierce competition for things that were once taken for granted.

An emerging challenge is the role of foreign groups in dampening a nation’s economic success. In Canada’s case, our trusting nature is leaving us vulnerable even in our democratic processes. According to a recent account in the Globe and Mail, a number of pressure groups out in force during the 2015 federal election campaign – the Dogwood Initiative, Leadnow, and Greenpeace among them – receive substantial funding from a U.S. advocacy group called Tides.

The flood of Tides cash is fueling subtle propaganda campaigns in hundreds of ways. Usually it starts out by defining some issue in highly polarized terms – like a pipeline proposal. There will be a suggestion that there is a government cover-up or some kind of high-level conspiracy between elected officials and the bureaucracy to get it done. A familiar cast of experts will be trotted out to provide elaborate but hollow explanations of why industry is lying about how many jobs are to be had from a contested project. Or why there is no demand for Canadian crude oil and liquefied natural gas even as global demand is rising.