“No one felt any obligation to anyone on the outside.”
American maverick journalist Lowell Bergman, speaking to Canadian counterparts in Toronto, was talking about the time CBS refused to air his now-famous expose of American tobacco companies and their relentless drive to hook smokers with new and improved forms of nicotine. He and whistle-blower/chemist Jeffrey Wigand later saw their unwelcome story offered to the public on the big screen in The Insider, featuring Al Pacino as Bergman and Russell Crowe as Wigand.
Until CBS and the tobacco lobby were forced to defend their actions, none of the big players in media or business cared about their impact on anyone on the outside of the power game. That would presumably include the five million people who die worldwide from tobacco-related illnesses every year.
That impossibly rich industrialists didn’t care is no surprise. That journalists and decision makers at 60 Minutes, probably the world’s most admired and influential current-affairs television show, didn’t care what happened to those they pretended to serve was a painful revelation, and one that should never be forgotten.
When it comes to the Star Wars debate currently reaching a reluctant boil in Canada, once again no one in the halls of power, whether in Parliament or the publishing business, seems to feel any obligation to anyone on the outside to tell the truth.
Given that various blundering American authorities have openly admitted that the idea of Star Wars is to weaponize and control space and eventually use it to enforce America’s status as global superpower, it’s amazing how little investigative attention has been paid to Canada’s participation in the plan.
Instead, although almost 70 per cent of Canadians consistently say they oppose Star Wars, our coalition government and its hangers-on proceed with classic strategies of overriding the public will: denial, misinformation, disinformation, stealth and confusion.
The radical-right elite who run both the Liberal and Conservative parties, while preferring, as in the Free Trade Debate, to say as little as possible, have agreed on two arguments. Simply put, if Canadians refuse to support the U.S. war plan, trade will suffer, and Canada will have no input into future continental defence.
Corporate media have recycled these arguments in endless headlines and editorials heedless of the fact that trade is a two-way street, and that there is no historic evidence Canada has ever had meaningful influence with the U.S. military. That was certainly the case during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1964, when President John F. Kennedy informed Prime Minister John Diefenbaker of his decision to threaten Soviet forces with nuclear weapons just two hours before he announced it to the world on television.
Apart from those disingenuous arguments, the government and its media followers have refused to acknowledge what Canada has to lose by signing on to Star Wars, notably control over our own defence and foreign policies, and the moral authority this country has earned as peacekeeper.
These points are missing in action, along with the international scientific consensus that the stated purpose of the Star Wars scheme – missile deterrence – won’t work.
Nevertheless, Minister of Defence Bill Graham tells Canadians it would be “extremely dangerous” to withhold support from the Bush Administration, and his colleagues quietly issue a report (only recently declassified), which estimates that Canadian aerospace industries stand to earn about $180 million annually in U.S. contracts. The 71-page report, which surfaced in Ottawa’s Space News, concluded that we “need to get on board or be locked out for this decade.”
Looks like Canada needs a Bergman and a Wigand, or possibly an entire team of whistle-blowers from government, the aerospace industry and the military, as well as an honest national newspaper or television network to document their unbiased information for mainstream readers and viewers, all of whom are now being massaged into supporting and paying for Canada’s little piece of the U.S. Death Star. But the odds of that happening are about the same as Fox News telling Americans that their Emperor is wearing no clothes.
This article appeared in the January/February 2005 issue of Canadian Dimension .