Saturday, May 23, 2015

Is it Critical Thinking Or Political Bias? - Part One



I have written about the virtues of critical thinking many times on this blog, and I have also frequently observed the difficulty of achieving it; without question, I regularly fall short of the ideal. One of the impediments to such thinking is the task of separating one's biases from the process, or at the very least recognizing those biases in assessing people and situations.

Take Stephen Harper, for example. Few would dispute that his propensity for exerting control and influence is massive. His contempt of Parliament, the judiciary, and all those who oppose his views and agenda requires no recounting here. With that context in mind, I offer the following as part of that pattern. Whether the conclusions I draw are a result of critical thinking or my disdain for the prime minister and almost everything he stands for, I leave for the reader to decide.

Exhibit Number One: Today's Star reports that the the renovated Canadian Museum of History (formerly the Canadian Museum of Civilization, which I have visited) will not include a room devoted to the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike:
The exhibit, which opened in 1999, was modelled after a meeting room in the Labour Temple on James St. in Winnipeg, where union members met to debate, organize and vote in the months leading up to, and during, the massive strike.


There have been past accusations that the government is trying to rewrite history in the renovated museum. And of course there is the Conservative anti-union agenda to consider.

In the matter of eliminating this important piece of labour history, the museum adamantly rejects any suggestion of political interference:
“Government is certainly not telling us what to put into the hall. Nor do they know what we are putting into the hall. We are not reporting to them and they are not telling us what to do. There is a very high level of cynicism and paranoia out there,” said David Morrison, the director of research and content for the Canadian History Hall project.
Yet one could cogently argue that this decision is part of a much larger pattern, consistent with Mr. Harper's values and method of governance.

Exhibit Number Two: The elimination of home mail delivery is also part of a neoliberal agenda, which sees the fraying of government programs as an imperative. Despite the fact that Canada Post made a pre-tax profit of $194 million in 2014 and $24 million for the first quarter of 2015, it has no intention of reviewing its service cuts. Says Deepak Chopra, president and CEO of Canada Post:
"What we are trying to do is avoid becoming a burden on taxpayers for hundreds of millions of dollars if we don't act responsibly now."

"We don't want to wait until the problem has become so severe that the initiatives we will be forced to take would be even more difficult."
While the claim is that overall mail volume is down prompted the decision to end home delivery, no public consultations took place, nor were alternative plans, such as alternate day delivery, entertained.

Doesn't the autocratic nature of the move suggest the heavy hand of Harper was involved?

In Part Two, I will examine the curiously close relationship that seems to exist between the RCMP and the Harper cabal.

6 comments:

  1. For awhile, I worked in HR for Purolator Courier, before the Post Office bought its Canadian operations. It was a profitable business then. It''s a profitable business now, Lorne.

    The post office makes money by moving packages. Purolator subsidizes home delivery. And the Post Office still makes s profit.

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    1. The fact that Canada Post is making money should raise red flags about their stated reasons for ending home delivery, Owen.

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  2. I'm curious what Morrison's reasons were for not including the general strike. And even if he wasn't directly advised by Harper, he might have been influenced by the same corporate entities that influence Harper (and likely Trudeau as well).

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    1. Here is Morrison's stated reason, Marie:

      “It got very poor attendance figures and whenever we did surveys of how well it was doing, it tended to rank towards the bottom in terms of visitor appreciation for what was happening,” Morrison said in an interview at the museum Thursday.

      I have been there, and I don't recall there was any way attendance at that particular exhibit could have been determined.

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  3. I think that even without specific involvement or direction from the PMO, there's been a definite drift rightward in the bureaucracy in the last nine+ years Harper's been in power. Bureaucracies have a tendency to embrace the philosophies and priorities of those on top - they're power structures, after all, with all kinds of incentives for pleasing the people above you on the organizational chart!
    (Also really looking forward to what you have to say on the PMO-RCMP nexus - there's something funky going on there.)

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    1. That is a very good point, Matt. Often, those who are leading organizations secured their positions through obsequious prior behaviour rather than real talent. This was certainly something I noticed during my years in education; it seems endemic in institutional structures.

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