Harper government – Biggest peddler of hype now claims to be victim of it
By Peter Ewart
Bob Zimmer, Conservative MP for Prince George – Peace River, complains in a recent 250 News article that most of the criticism of the anti-terror Bill C-51 is just “hype.”
That is a most interesting statement to make considering that some of the fiercest critics include former Supreme Court justices, 4 former Prime Ministers, the Canadian Bar Association (with over 30,000 members), leading constitutional law experts, the editorial boards of major establishment newspapers, the federal government’s own Privacy Commissioner, and many other prominent Canadians from all walks of life.
Conservatives don’t like to admit it, but they are also getting lots of flak from their own supporters regarding Bill C-51.
All that aside, what does the word “hype” mean? Perhaps, after defining it, we can determine who is most guilty of peddling it. According to the dictionary, it means: the marketing or promotion of a product “using exaggerated or intensive publicity.” By that definition, however, couldn’t the Conservative government itself be considered the biggest trumpeter and promoter of hype?
For example, how about Steven Blaney, Conservative Public Safety minister, invoking the Nazi threat in a statement and claiming that Bill C-51 is necessary to prevent another “Holocaust” in Canada (1)? Really, Mr. Blaney?
Or how about the Conservative government and RCMP publications justifying anti-terror legislation by equating environmental and First Nations protests with “extremism” (2) and labelling them as “anti-Canadian” (3)?
And then there are the statements of MP Bob Zimmer himself. In a recent op-ed that he claims to have written, he argues that “jihadi terrorism is one of the most dangerous enemies our world has ever faced,” and ominously warns that it threatens us in “our cities” and “our neighborhoods” (4).
But Zimmer’s statements contradict other Canadian and U.S. government sources. For example, a Statistics Canada report quite clearly states that “according to police-reported data, terrorism-related incidents remain extremely rare in Canada” (5). Indeed, in recent years, the U.S government itself calculates that the number of terrorist-related incidents in the U.S. (and in North America) have actually been in sharp decline since the 1960s and 70s (6).
Yet, by way of comparison, could jihadi terrorism still be, as Zimmer claims, “one of the most dangerous enemies our world has ever faced”? Let’s compare it to the threat of Nazism and fascism in the Second World War which would certainly meet that definition. An estimated 65 million people died in that terrible conflict, along with 45,000 Canadian soldiers.
How do those massive figures rack up to Jihadi terrorism? As Globe & Mail columnist Lawrence Martin notes, “In the last decade or two [in Canada], you can count on the fingers of one hand the number of deaths from terrorism”(7). Yes, there were the tragic deaths of a Canadian soldier and a reservist in the Fall of 2014, but in most years, no one is killed or even injured.
Indeed, far more people die in North America from lightning strikes, or slipping in the bathtub, or having their television sets fall on them than from terrorism. In the ten years between 2001-10 in the U.S., over 100,000 people have been killed in gun homicides alone and more than 400,000 in motor vehicle accidents (8)(9).
No, Mr. Zimmer, despite all your government’s rhetoric, it is not 1939, and Stephen Harper is definitely not Winston Churchill.
Quit using hype and playing the fear card to undermine the fundamental rights and freedoms of Canadians. Then, just maybe, you wouldn’t be getting so many complaints from your constituents.
Peter Ewart is a columnist and writer based in Prince George, British Columbia. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
- “’Holocaust did not begin in the gas chamber, it began with words’: Minister in defence of new anti-terrorism bill.” National Post. March 10, 2015.
- McCarthy, Shawn. “Ottawa’s new anti-terror strategy lists eco-extremists as threats.” Globe & Mail. Feb. 20, 2012.
- “Critical infrastructure intelligence assessment: Criminal threats to the petroleum industry.” Report. Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Jan. 24, 2014.
- Zimmer, Bob. “Bob Zimmer addresses Bill C-51 concerns.” Energetic City.ca. May 13, 2015.
- Perreault, Samuel. “Police-reported crime statistics in Canada, 2012.” Statistics Canada.
- Report. National consortium for the study of terrorism and responses to terrorism. Department of Homeland Security. December 2012.
- Martin, Lawrence. “Mulcair is right to question the politics of terror.” Globe & Mail. Jan. 20, 2015.
- Washington’s Blog. “The terrorism statistics every American needs to hear.” Global research. Feb. 21, 2015.
- Bailey, Ronald. “How scared of terrorism should you be?” Reason.com. Sept. 6, 2011.