Greg Rickford in Stephen Harper's Ministry of Truth

In George Orwell's "1984", the main character, Winston Smith, works in the Ministry of Truth, where he “alters historical records to fit the needs of the ruling Party”. The Party is headed by an invisible personage known only as Big Brother.

In Orwell’s novel, the Party promotes an invented language called Newspeak, designed to prevent political rebellion by eliminating all words related to it. Even thinking rebellious thoughts is declared illegal.

In Canada today, we are seeing a revival variant of Newspeak, as well as a government headed by a shadowy figure.

Of course there are differences. Our "shadowy figure" has a name, and is visible as a physical person. He is the opaque and inscrutable Stephen Harper, who publicly reveals little about his inner workings and motivations, preferring to shape his appearance and his pronouncements around a carefully groomed "persona".

That carefully constructed persona manifests as a calm, emotionally neutral individual, who uses carefully modulated speech and makes constant reference to caring for "ordinary Canadians". No sudden or brusque movements, no intemperate language, no emotional intensity, no revelatory asides.

But it is in use of language that Stephen Harper, and the conservative government in general, have become the proponents of 21st century "Newspeak". In a burst of linguistic creativity, designed to cloak his hard-line, rigid and sometimes obviously ideological goals, the Prime Minister and his representatives have taken language manipulation to unusual lengths.

The first step in this transformation has been to perfect the art of avoiding giving answers. Phrases like "I won't get into the reasons for…" or "I cannot comment on that…" occur routinely in presentations by conservative leaders. When such pronouncements are challenged, the response is always to simply repeat them over and over – never to explain why an answer is being withheld.

The next step has been to simply avoid using certain words. Searching high and low through pronouncements by Stephen Harper and his associates, the word "environment", or it's even more pernicious cousin, "ecosystem", can almost never be found. In its place, words like "the economy", "jobs" or "prosperity" are used as mantras for all future developments on planet Earth. The planet itself? Well, it's not actually there – at least not in so many words.

Then there's the true Newspeak approach. This is where the real creativity comes into play. This means, for example, stating that when in a position of aggressive political conflict, the government is nevertheless a "willing partner". This means addressing intense controversies associated with the two recent Omnibus bills (C-38 and C-45) by stating that "we are proud of our achievements". The Harper administration is making politically-flavoured mincemeat out of the rules of normal discourse.

But there’s one problem. Unlike George Orwell's Oceania, the mythical nation headed by Big Brother and controlling the entire world, the Harper Conservatives control only a small area of the Earth's surface. Dissent and criticism can occur in parallel with pronouncements made by the government. Winston Smith, in Orwell’s work, is tortured into blank submission; no such thing is likely in Canada.

But that doesn't stop Harper and the pundits within the Conservative Party's inner circle from brutalizing the rules of language, and trying vainly to make black (or brown, or more specifically red) turn into white.

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Warren Bell 's Greg Rickford article

As a constituent from Mr. Rickford's riding, I was delighted to read Warren Bell's article about "Winston" Rickford. If anyone listened to Evan Solomon's "The House" interview with my MP, or other interviews he has given, they will realize he spews the party line and never answers the question put to him. It is all newspeak. He is as "teflon" as his leader. In this area he has refused to discuss the closure of the Experimental Lakes Area- a world-renowned site is his own riding! Despite rallies, members from his own party questioning him, and a large media blitz, he refuses to speak, instead calling those who oppose this decision as "mean-spirited". Environmental policy for the Conservatives is non-existent. Instead they revert to "the economy" jingoism. Well, Mr. Rickford, we care about the economy. Give back the jobs of world-class scientists and fund the ELA!

Failures in government

SO if I get this right, people still expect good things to come from a corrupt, lying, contempt of parliament, sending citizens to guantanamo or any foreign prison for that matter, no plan but to steal as much as they can from the people kind of government. Why do you expect anything good from them. For one government to reverse over 20 years of debt repayment and put us back years in development when the Ontario infrastructure is behind 160 billion... yes you read that right, BILLION dollars. Our water pipes are full of lead, arsenic, and multitudes of other contaminents because they have not spent the money they taxed us for, on water treatment or the renewel of the pipes, valves and gears for over 60 years. Instead it went to things like the g20 which was a big show to tell Canadians, you dont have rights anymore and that Lord Harper is going to take and pilage anything he wants to get rcognition as being such a great leader by the other scum bags that do the same crap in other nations. Funny enough, even they turned around and told him he was pathetic. That is why the last day of negotiations, they just watched soccer because they had no intentions of dealing with us anymore. We have been asked to leave the commonwealth. Our closest neighbours do not like us anymore (specifically Harper and his group of gang bangers) He has signed ridciulous copyright laws that litterally state the album or dvd you just bought isnt yours, and you have no right to do anything with it but play it. EVEN IF YOU CREATED IT! lol  brilliant.  Artists have to now sign their work over to copyright holders which are the publishers. He signed an accord with Europe which is similar to NAFTA and we all know how well that worked out for us. Oh he also hired a guy to his team that had been charged with fraud four times. He then lied and said he had no idea when his security adviser that handled the hiring told him directly face to face and Harper signed it anyways. He has raised taxes and created new ones during a recession. Smart. Clearly this list can go on. He superceded his own treasury secretary to announce to the world while on a plane, that he was the reason Canada was doing so well during the recession even though he inherited the new rules and regulations to the financial market that were implemented by the liberals. What a great guy...

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has stolen 3 elections now


Politics of Language:  George Lakoff

Why do conservatives appear to be so much better at framing?


Because they've put billions of dollars into it.  Over the last 30 years their think tanks have made a heavy investment in ideas and in language.  In 1970, [Supreme Court Justice] Lewis Powell wrote a fateful memo to the National Chamber of Commerce saying all of our best students are becoming anti-business because of the Vietnam War, and we needed to do something about it.


Powell's agenda included getting wealthy conservatives to set up professorships, setting up institutes on and off campus where intellectuals would write books from a conservative business perspective, and setting up think tanks.  He outlined the whole thing in 1970.  They set up the Heritage Foundation in 1973, and the Manhattan Institute after that.  [There are many others, including the American Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Institute at Stanford, which date from the 1940s.]


I have recently decided to rally the Anishenabe nations to support the Liberal party on every level. One of the first tasks be to have the Conservative government ACKNOWLEDGE THE TREATIES PUBLICLY.