In George Orwell’s novel, 1984, written in 1949, he coined the term ‘newspeak’. It was the language spoken in the dystopian, totalitarian society the novel depicts. A society where plain language had been bent to the point that only the simplistic language remained and complex or critical reasoning had become heretical. Newspeak forced members of society to toe the government line as they were no longer capable of opposition.
Today, in the real world, many governments and institutions use a form of newspeak in varying degrees.The Harper Governmnent’s War on Language at iPolitics is an excellent article reviewing some of the levels the Harper government goes in their use of newspeak. Harper has outdone many with his deceptive level of sloganeering beginning with changing the reference to government from the Government of Canada which has served this country for every government since confederation. Harper had it changed to, the Harper Government and for the last almost ten years that is the government we have had.
He went on to change points of reference so frequently that many become immune to the deceit which he and his government practice. We no longer have government budgets, they are now ‘economic action plans’ contained within omnibus bills which change numerous unrelated laws on a largely unsuspecting public. Notably one of those ‘economic action plans’ gutted environmental protection laws brought in by Mulroney to the point that overnight we went from almost a million protected water ways to less than a thousand. That made life much easier for his friends at the oil companies.
Titles of legislation are grand wishes not reflective of what the bill contains.
In 2012 Bill C-30 was introduced call Protection of Children from Internet Predators Act. The bill never mentioned either children or predators. It mentioned plenty about allowing government sanctioned surveillance of our activities online without our knowledge or consent. When stiff opposition was raised and the government forced to back off, the government line was people were either with the government or with pornographers. No mention of the proposed violations of our personal freedoms.
The Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act was supposed to be saving thousands of farmers from the clutches of the Canadian Wheat Board, a crown corporation setup to help stabilize wheat prices for farmers. The legislation replaced the farmer elected directors with Harper government appointees and placed the assets of the board up for grabs. An offer by Farmers of North American, a group of over 3,000 Canadian farmers who offered in the area of $250 – $300 million was rejected without comment. The government meanwhile provided the board with about $350 million in transitions costs. Then 50.1% of the board was sold to G3 Global Grain Group for $250 million. G3 is a Saudi-owned company. So how does that give Canadian grain farmers freedom?
This is just a couple of examples. I don’t want to repeat the article over here. Go have a look at, The Harper Government’s War on Language.
Is this really the way we want our country governed? We’ve always understood that there is a certain amount of deception at times with what the government tells the public. Harper has taken it to a level that comes dangerously close to closing the gap between a free and democratic country to a totalitarian one.