Democratic Totalitarianism: Is this Canada’s Last Summer?

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

— Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana

The best way to illustrate the assault of democratic totalitarianism on Canada is by way of historical analogy, but therein lies a problem. Learning from this particular history is a dangerous undertaking because our governments and media actively sabotage it.

Instead of being a living, instructive record of our culture, this history has become an ossified relic that we are allowed to look at but not touch. People and events are sealed in a discrete temporal “box” trapped in the morality of its time. The historical consequences of this box, the “WWII box”, are what make up our political culture, and give historical continuity and legitimacy to our government.

Cultures define themselves by what they are not, and Canada, like all the victorious allies from WWII, still thinks of itself as a country that defeated fascism. In other words, fascism defines Western democracy, albeit in a negative image. This fact makes the defeat of fascism not only a historical event but also our creation myth.

Even our language reflects the non-rational understanding of the period: “Nazi,” “Hitler,” and “fascist” are stripped of intrinsic historical meaning to become quasi-religious expletives that not only reinforce this myth but serve to delegitimize “heretical” scholars. Any historical investigation that might lessen our moral hatred of Hitler and the Third Reich would by extension undermine our founding myth which gave rise to our modern ideals as democratic justice, individual rights and international law.

We desperately need the Hitler/Devil image to define our sense of moral superiority. But even though our founding conceits of good/evil, ally/enemy, democracy/fascism are still assumed to be true, our politics clearly prove that they aren’t. Under Stephen Harper, democracy and fascism have fused into democratic totalitarianism, so at some point the great moral divide broke down. The following table describes the general characteristics of fascism, which today clearly define the regime of Stephen Harper.

Professor Lawrence Britt’s 14 Points of Fascism

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism

2. Suppressed Labor Power

3. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights

4. Protected Corporate Power

5. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause

6. Intertwined Religion and Government

7. Supremacy of the Military

8. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts

9. Rampant Sexism

10. Obsession with Crime and Punishment

11. Controlled Mass Media

12. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption

13. Obsession with National Security

14. Fraudulent Elections

I’ve previously exposed Harper’s totalitarian propaganda apparat, so Canada’s embrace of fascism has already been been discussed to some degree, but it is his omnibus “budget” bill, Bill C-38, that most clearly proves that our democracy is not the opposite of fascism but a product of it. The specific analog is Adolf Hitler’s March 23, 1933, Law to Remedy the Distress of the People and the Nation, better known as the Enabling Act. A brief discussion of its scope and evolution will prepare the reader to see Bill C-38 in its proper historical perspective, but to appreciate it, I must ask the reader to ignore ingrained WWII stereotypes, and to suppress the Hitler gag reflex to appreciate the true state of Canada’s political culture.

The Enabling Act

In five short articles, Hitler’s Enabling Act usurped the German Republic’s legitimate democratic government to create the Nazi dictatorship. Thanks to Germany’s feeble-minded president Paul von Hindenburg, all financial and political power was now under the absolute control of Hitler’s cabinet; that is, Hitler himself. The Reichstag (the German House of Commons) was rendered impotent, although the façade of democratic continuity was preserved. The Act reads, in part:

Article 2

Laws enacted by the government of the Reich may deviate from the Constitution as long as they do not affect the institutions of the Reichstag and the Reichsrat. The rights of the President remain undisturbed.

Article 3

…Laws enacted by the Reich government shall be issued by the Chancellor and announced in the Reich Gazette. …Articles 68 to 77 of the Constitution do not apply to laws enacted by the Reich government.

The aforementioned repealed articles concerned the legislative and oversight authority of the Reichstag and the Reichsrat (Senate). You see the disconnect between democratic appearance and fascist reality.

With the passage of The Enabling Act, Hitler proceeded to attack all political opposition by suspending civil liberties and the right of peaceable assembly, and revoking private property rights, among other things. He did so by using the Act to make permanent the February 28, 1933, Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of the People and State (Reichstag Fire Decree). It was cobbled together quickly to blame communists for the burning of the Reichstag the day previous, but the act was committed largely by Nazis themselves to traumatize the nation and stampede it into accepting the suspension of democracy. (Sound familiar?) For example:

Articles 114, 115, 117, 118, 123, 124 and 153 of the Constitution of the German Empire are suspended until further notice. It is therefore permissible to restrict the rights to personal freedom [habeas corpus], freedom of speech, including the freedom of the press, the freedom to organize and assemble, the privacy of letters, mail, telegraphs and telephones, order searches and confiscations and restrict property, even if this is not otherwise provided for by present law.

Bill C-38

Whereas Hitler was surgical and open in his fascist destruction of German democracy, Stephen Harper used ham-fisted subversion. Bill C-38 is a 425-page monstrosity that is not a budget in any honest sense of the word; it’s declaration of war on the authority of Parliament and the rights of Canadians. Virtually without debate, more than 70 pieces of legislation are being repealed or watered down to the point of impotence. No Parliament can seriously debate a tome like this in seven days, yet that is how much time Harper has allotted for debate before he invokes closure.

Hitler came to power when Germany’s democracy was feeble and vulnerable to takeover, but he never won a majority of seats in the Reichstag. He needed the doddering president Paul von Hindenburg to appoint him chancellor and help him kill democracy, Harper does have a majority, but had been amassing personal power during successive minority governments since 2006. Unlike Hitler, Harper didn’t need help to usurp a democracy; the stupid Canadian electorate surrendered willingly.

The thoroughly fascist design of Bill C-38 can be seen in the following examples:

• Repealing the Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act, designed to undercut union wage rates and lessen corporate labour costs. (Britt 2);

• Removing federal contractors from protection under the Employment Equity Act (2)

• Requiring most unemployed Employment Insurance claimants to accept McJobs at levels significantly lower than their professional employment. (4, 8)

• Amending the Food and Drugs Act to give the Minister of Health more personal power to approve the classifications of foods and drugs in the name of “efficiency” (4)

• Amending the Seeds Act and Plant Breeder Rights, and eliminating enforcement of the Product of Canada label; favouring multinational GMO corporations over local farmers. (4, 8)

• Repealing the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act; removing habitat protection from the Fisheries Act, the Species at Risk Act, and the Navigable Waters Protection Act to make resource exploitation more profitable; (4, 8)

• Cutting funding to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, thus putting us at greater risk for diseases like listeria, mad cow, rabies and toxic poisoning.

• Attacking environmental groups and charities by forcing them to endure constant audits on foreign funding, even though little of their funding is foreign. (5)

• Prohibiting scientists from speaking to the media, especially about global warming (4, 8, 11)

• Serving a foreign power by asserting that a threat to Israel is a threat to Canada. (7, 12, 13)

Canada may not have goose-stepping soldiers parading in its major cities, but the fascism is just as real. Parliamentary democracy is dead. We are in the era of democratic totalitarianism. No continuum of democratic government from 1945 can explain this mutation.

History tells us that the corporatism, anti-labour extremism, militarism, political scapegoating, and censorship under fascist Italy and fascist Germany is alive today in fascist Canada and the fascist U.S.

• For elaboration of these points see The Host and the Parasite: How Israel’s Fifth Column Consumed America, p. 16-17.

Greg Felton is an investigative journalist specializing in the Middle East, Canadian politics, the media, and language. He holds a Master's Degree in political science from the University of British Columbia and speaks French, Russian, and Mandarin. He is author of The Host and The Parasite: How Israel's Fifth Column Consumed America. Read other articles by Greg, or visit Greg's website.