Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Canadians Were Played by their Prime Minister

Isn’t it ironic that during Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harpers thrown speech, sparking another session of Parliament, that he chose that moment to re-ignite an on-going debate to change the lyrics to the Canadian national anthem Oh Canada?

It is ironic if you take note that his thrown speech was delivered amidst all the hoopla surrounding International Women’s Day – which is today.

Last week, many private and government organizations made announcements about events and programs to coincide with the annual day promoting the economic, political and social achievements of the women’s movement.

Canada’s Governor-General, Michaelle Jean, said herself that she’s timed her visit to her homeland of Haiti to coincide with International Women’s Day, because wants to send a positive message to the women of her earthquake battered land, to empower them on their rebuilding efforts.

Many workplaces are also having special seminars, cultural, and social events, as part of International Women’s Day.

So why were we Canadians so blind-sided by the prime minister’s announcement last week by his government’s intent to investigate whether or not parts of the national anthem are sexist?

Maybe we were still in awe from the just concluded Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games which rapped up a mere days before the prime minister’s controversial announcement.

Or maybe that was the whole point?

Perhaps the media-savvy public relations handlers for Prime Minister Stephen Harper saw no harm in tossing a proverbial bone to the Women’s Movement, as they could bury it within the Thrown Speech, at a time when most of us were still being blinded by the numerous gold, silver and bronze medals our Canadian Team took in this year?

Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper has never really been very progressive when it comes to catering to special interest groups. He’s talked the good talk about reducing carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases, even setting realistically achievable targets and deadlines – but so far they are nothing more than words on a page, as his government has failed to implement these policies into action.

It appears the Canadian Prime Minister is acting much like an American president known as “the Great Communicator” for his ability to spin messages.

During the 1980’s American President Ronald Reagan – AKA “the Great Communicator” – spun his way through his administration’s major changes to American economic spending, militarization (the Cold War was still going strong), foreign policy, and education. Had he not been so slick and media savvy, instead of being one of the most respected American leaders of all time, he may have gone down in history as being one of the most controversial.

His economic policies were so radical at the time, opponents to his policies nicknamed them “Reaganomics” which the Reagan administration then turned on its head, spinning the negative out of the term so that “Reaganomics” actually made the American leader’s economic policies more palatable to those against it.

Just as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has used the cloak of a thrown speech, on the heels of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, President Reagan used distractionary tactics to diffuse attention away from the real agenda of his government.

The image of American President Ronald Reagan standing along the Berlin Wall, in his silky smooth broadcast-movie-announcer-type voice saying: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” was one of the most memorable moments of his administration. Yet, around the same time as President Reagan was asking the then Soviet President Mikael Gorbachev to end the Cold War, the American leader was working on his “Star Wars” plan, which was an automated system of satellites and nuclear weapons which would be used to protect America from a nuclear attack by Russia.

Oh Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is nowhere near as slick as the former actor, turned American President. But make no mistake about it; Prime Minister Harper knows how to play us.

He certainly played us for a fool last week when he announced his intentions to investigate sexist lyrics in Oh Canada – just in time for International Women’s Day.

Prime Minister Harper has a habit of making such broad sweeping announcements around very public events, only to have done something completely different later on. He’s using the women’s movement to distract us from his real intents and purposes.

So the natural question to ask now is: so what is Canada’s Prime Minister going to do this session of Parliament?

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