There has not been a political period in my lifetime when the government of Canada was not in bed with the government – and corporate interests – of the United States. Understandably we’re afraid of losing our biggest trading partner, and also understandably they have a much larger mass entertainment industry in a language that 80% of us speak. Culturally and economically we are closely tied, but there are still places and opportunities when we should strive to be different from them as an example, as their closest ally to keep them from fucking it up and going too far.
The NSA’s exposed surveillance tactics would be a good opportunity to play that role.
But we’re not in a position to do that. We can still lecture them on universal health care and same sex marriage (multiculturalism and bilingualism are officially other places we’re more progressive but they’re thin shells hiding toxic gases of colonial hatred), but we don’t seem to be setting an example in attitudes towards privacy. At this pivotal moment (jesus christ, did I just use the phrase “pivotal moment”?) we have, unfortunately, a Conservative government that is corrupt as fuck and much like Washington wants to keep everything they do secret from the citizens they have to speak to, but want the privilege of snooping into the private lives of people without any legal justification for it.
How unbelievably absurd is it that out of all places where Edward Snowden would seek refuge knowing he would get in deep shit from exposing the international snooping he believes the global public deserves to know he chose China. Granted, he chose Hong Kong – being a recent handover to China from Britain it developed a far more open culture towards political freedom. But if he’s to get protection from the country he’s fled to, it’s going to be from the Chinese national government in Beijing. 24 years and some-odd days after the infamously anti-democratic event at Tiananmen Square, Beijing is protecting someone fighting for democracy out of being a stubborn contrarian to American demands.
Twenty, fifty, one hundred years from now when people look back on this era and its erosion of privacy rights in “free” “democratic” “like, totally awesome” first world countries – assuming we recover from this debacle and get some level of respect for individual lives back into our governing – I hope it is going to be mocked and ridiculed for its irony. I hope plays are going to be written using it as an allegory whenever something similar starts to trend upwards and that social commentary is part of a movement that stops this from escalating as such again. The United States and all of the other countries complicit with or quick to legitimize what it’s doing are the ones that claim to LOVE FREEDOM, YEEEEHAW! But they are having their asses kicked in protecting whistleblowers by a country that has a renowned history for oppression and exclusion that goes back thousands of years. The English language needs to come up with new terminology so “the Right” doesn’t closely resemble “the right”. Conservatives are showing no concern over maintaining freedoms unless they harm others. But let’s not get into guns today.