Hi-Jacking Your Head. Eating Your Soul. The Conventional Press and Media in Canada. (Part One)
Written by Robin Mathews
Catch hold of the thread anywhere, and it pulls you into a web of unsavoury power relations. Begin with the large article by Gary Stephen Ross in the latest (April 2015) issue of The Walrus. (That’s the chic, out-of-Toronto mag that - of course - wants to look like The New Yorker and/or The Atlantic Monthly.)
The article is called “TEAM AMERICA”, [not “TEAM U.S.A.”] and it’s about how everything good and exciting and new and dynamic and positive and constructive and solid and forward looking and fine in Vancouver, B.C. is (if we will look carefully) the product of wonderful, gracious, generous, giving, thoughtful, imaginative, productive, grateful, and - especially - selfless U.S. immigrants. The superiority of U.S. persons is assumed throughout.
It is a fantasy… a fantasy offered as the absolutely, completely real.
[The Walrus is richly supported by CAPP, Enbridge, Suncor, The Government of Canada, RBC, etc.]
Catch hold of the thread anywhere …. The editor-in-chief of The Walrus worked, formerly, for the National Post as a member of its editorial board. That paper was created by the person who is probably Canada’s most famous ex-con. The paper was not created (primarily) to make money, I say, but to make the country hospitable to Reactionary, Neo-Liberal, One Per Cent policies and social structure.
The paper lost money for years and years (and may still do so). Any normal capitalist entrepreneurial undertaking would have been shut down. Not the National Post. It wasn’t created to make money, but to propagandize for the anti-social, repressive forces in Canada. Stephen Harper is one sign of its success.
I remember free copies piled up at the doors of Canadian universities; free copies in hotels; free copies…everywhere. In 2000 Black sold the paper to Izzy Asper. Between the two of them (many say) they took the level of journalism in Canada to an abysmal, historic low. Marc Edge, (2007) in Asper Nation, tells almost all one needs to know about Izzy Asper … though there is, doubtless, much more to tell….
The Walrus has ex-National Post officer, Jonathan Kay as editor-in-chief, and “American” Kyle Carsten Wyatt as managing editor. Who else but Jonathan Kay – writing in the same issue containing “TEAM AMERICA” – could have the barefaced, undiluted courage to write that (Stephen Harper in power) “we now have intelligent policy debates - about, say, health care or national defence or taxes…?” Who but an alumnus of the National Post could write “whatever you may think about the way Stephen Harper has changed Canada” (Kay doesn’t say “in spite of him”)… “we have become a richer, more interesting, and less insecure country than we were just a decade ago.” (??)
Jonathan Kay writes two magazine pages of that kind of factually dubious, apparently baseless, “Harper hymn book” nonsense. One can imagine Jonathan Kay – in a former time and place – writing: “We here in the Death Camps have a great deal to be thankful for.”
He writes that two decades ago - for any Canadian wanting “a career in law, real estate, medicine, high tech, or the fine arts - it was a given that you needed to head south.” Pardon? In the time he is referring to thousands of Canadians stayed home and built admirable careers in those fields, without even thinking “south”.
The article by Gary Stephen Ross should be an anti-climax after Jonathan Kay. It isn’t. U.S. immigrants, according to Ross, deeply in love with Canada, are not making a new kind of Canadian city of Vancouver, but “a new kind of North American city”. Of course.
Nowhere … nowhere … does Ross mention that – just perhaps – the U.S. influx into Vancouver (and Canada) has sometimes had negative effect, has sometimes served purposes other than the well-being of the locals.
Nowhere does Ross suggest something was happening before the U.S. arrivals. Before the major twentieth century U.S. influx theatre was flourishing in Vancouver, artists like Bill Reid, Jack Shadbolt, B.C. Binning, (and Emily Carr in Victoria) were hard at work. Ron Thom, Arthur Erickson were creating “West Coast”, suggesting a British Columbian approach to architecture. John Avison directed the renowned CBC Vancouver Chamber Orchestra, and the “Stage” series on CBC radio (out of Vancouver) did nothing but win top North American awards for radio drama (no TV yet), year after year, against all U.S. comers. UBC graduates and Vancouver-trained nurses were sought widely - and in the U.S. especially - because of the superiority of Canadian education.
Only by accident does Ross let slip that a great many of the U.S. arrivers came (and come) with sacks of gold over their shoulders (to buy their way in?). As immigrant David Beers of Tyee admits, the people from the U.S. are mobile “and they come with more financial and social capital than most”. Moreover, one immigrant tech entrepreneur admits “tech workers here earn less than in Silicon Valley” (meaning ‘I can pay them less’). There’s more not mentioned. Some throw their weight around to get special treatment. Some connect to U.S. wealth … and use that connection for advantage. Some play on Canadian Colonial Mindedness, claiming innate U.S. superiority….
And then there’s the history-long attraction that “do-gooder” Imperials feel for Colonial Life – where they can have status, rank, easy living, social prestige, special room made for them always in employment, visits “home”, and the chance to commune with local wogs on a basis chosen of … almost … equality.
Do U.S. immigrants in Canada get sweeter treatment from immigrant U.S. philanthropists than Canadians do? Ross tells us that when David Beers came to B.C. and set about creating thetyee.ca, he got $190,000 from the B.C. Federation of Labour. Did he not – as well – (not mentioned by Ross) get significant support from a “local” U.S. immigrant philanthropist? If so, why aren’t we told?
U.S. people who came to Vancouver are not always what Ross wants them to seem. Stan Persky (“essayist and teacher”) was among the U.S. group that blithely decided to wipe out B.C. and Canada in calling for a “Pacific Nation” – from Alaska through California. Jim Green befriended ‘knowing’ people and “wrote a history of the Canadian Seamen’s Union”. Ross doesn’t report it is one of the most unreadable books written in Canadian history (and certainly deserved an Order of Merit from the CIA for that).
Warren and Ellen Tallman did NOT “open wide the stuffy, cloistered rooms of mid-century CanLit”. They did their best to wipe out CanLit and replace it with U.S. Lit. The 1963 Vancouver Poetry Conference (Warren’s baby) featured ten U.S. poets … and one Canadian. The Tallmans were central to an anti-U.S. imperialism battle that hasn’t ended, engaging the energies of many resisting Canadians, one of the most colourful being top Canadian poet, (the late) Milton Acorn.
The flat-out errors of Gary Stephen Ross are extraordinary. One of the biggest laughs is his quotation from a U.S. immigrant Anglican who tells him that “many of the most successful business guys in this city vote Liberal. Can you imagine an oil billionaire in Texas voting Democrat?” That little story is told to show how progressive ‘business guys in this city’ are. But since Gordon Campbell became premier of B.C. (2001) (and followed by Christie Clark) B.C. has been known nationally as Far Right, Neo-Liberal, sell-out, and deeply friendly to Stephen Harper … who appointed Campbell Canadian High Commissioner in London.
The province of B.C. is, perhaps, moreover, the most corrupt in all Canada. If real investigations were done into the corruption of the last fourteen years in B.C., the jail system (I argue) would need major expansion to accommodate people from B.C. corporate boardrooms, major political offices, and RCMP top echelons. U.S. immigrant entrepreneurs in “Liberal” Vancouver have quietly cheered or held their noses while (I insist) B.C. Gas, BC Rail, part of BC Hydro, and almost all the river systems of B.C. have been placed mostly corruptly into private hands in B.C. or delivered mostly corruptly into the hands of U.S. Imperial interests. Meanwhile U.S. immigrants in Vancouver, apparently, have been happily “voting (progressively!) Liberal”!
Finally, a reader may notice Ross repeatedly mentions how this or that U.S. immigrant moves easily into UBC or SFU. Not a word from Ross about the fact that a major fifteen-plus year battle was conducted to force hiring of qualified Canadians in their own universities, often against vicious U.S. professorial resistance. The largest foreign group taking for granted jobs in Canada are theirs is from the U.S.A.
Canadian Sociologists fought a bitter battle for ten years to get well-qualified Canadians hired in Canada instead of (largely) people from the U.S. It took years to see Canadian students in a majority admitted to graduate school Sociology classes – in the place of U.S. students! In Canada! In the early 1970s I sat in the office of the Chairman of English at UBC, a U.S. immigrant. We were meeting because he had refused to see me, and the UBC Alma Mater Society executive told him things would get very hot for him if he didn’t talk to me about hiring at UBC.
Robert Jordan spoke Imperiously (down) to me, treating me, a Canadian wog, curtly, suggesting that, some years hence, the English Department at UBC might get to the point of hiring fifty per cent Canadians.
In 1985-86 (fifteen years later) The Canadian Association of University Teachers declared SFU in Violation of Academic Freedom for militantly attempting (with presidential support) to keep out a qualified Canadian (who had been passed by the SFU Qualifications Committee and the Dean of Arts). The U.S. group at SFU didn’t like the Canadian’s concern with “literary and cultural nationalism” in Canada, and spent organized months, loudly and publicly, trying to prevent his arrival.
Among that group of U.S. immigrants were those who’d describe themselves as one of the following: Left, progressive, philosophically open, socially responsible, intellectually superior, and/or morally incorruptible. But – true U.S. imperialists all – they were willing to ignore all decency, legality, and due process in order to deal brutally with one upstart colonial possessing Canadian expertise (alien to them).
The eight page article about Vancouver and its U.S. immigrant population by Gary Stephen Ross in the April The Walrus (to my mind) is wild, irresponsible fantasy. If that article and the fantasy editorial (“Editor’s Note”) by Jonathan Kay are the kinds of things readers will see in future, my advice is ‘go somewhere else’… or choose to have your head hi-jacked, and your soul eaten, as in the April issue.
Your head is hi-jacked because you get propaganda that is a wild fabrication of history presented as real history. Your soul is eaten because the propaganda elevates U.S. immigrants falsely, paints them as superior, diminishes Canadians, falsifies present reality and shapes history to make it a fabrication. The uncritical reader is rudely thrust into the mock-world of the conventional Canadian press and media where fact and truth are the last things valued, and grovelling before (in this case, foreign) power is the order of the day.
Written by Robin Mathews
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