Did you know that Stephen Harper’s hair and makeup artist is also a psychic? Did you know that there are thousands of people dying and millions being displaced in developing nations as a result of climate change? The link between those facts may not be obvious now, but watch the documentary Whoa Canada and you’ll see the connections.

The film, produced by the team behind the Shit Harper Did website, was released this week. In one hour, viewers meet various Canadians who have been under surveillance by the Communications Securities Establishment and other government agencies.

“It’s really about the incredible public relations operation that Canada has,” said Nicky Young, a direct action coordinator with Shit Harper Did and a jack-of-all-trades in the production of Whoa Canada.

“The reputation that Canada has nationally and internationally as a peacekeeping country and the Mounties [portrayed] as these kind of benign park rangers,” Young said is not the reality of our country. The film also touches on the portrayal of residential schools and reserves as “free” education and land for First Nations peoples.

The story starts in the Philippines. Sean Devlin, the film’s writer and director, has family there who have had their homes and lives devastated by typhoons.

The warming of the oceans has led to more extreme weather, which has devastated countless communities in developing countries. Ultimately, the people and places most affected by climate change are the ones having the least impact. Canada does not fall in that category.

Our industry and dependence on fossil fuels means we’re contributing to the climate change that is affecting the world’s most vulnerable. Meanwhile our government is spending millions on monitoring people like Cindy Blackstock, who has been under surveillance by 189 different government officials for her involvement in advocating for aboriginal children’s rights. Hasan Alam was monitored for his involvement with the University of British Columbia’s Muslim Students Association. The list goes on, and is likely to keep growing. Activist and political refugee Obert Madondo is featured heavily in the film, telling his story of oppression while living in Canada.

“Canada is at a point on the world stage where we’re really going backwards on a lot of really important areas like online security. We’re also one of the countries doing the most climate change damage,” Young said. He said a big motivator behind Shit Harper Did and the film is to show Canadians and those outside Canada that our country isn’t exactly living up to its reputation.

A major part of the film and Shit Harper Did’s mandate is rallying young people to be engaged with our government.

“There seems to be a bit of a sense of political apathy among the youth in Canada,” Young said. The goal is to engage youth though opposition to Stephen Harper and channel that energy into fighting the systemic oppression that is widespread in Canada. They want to motivate youth through creative, non-violent action.

The thought likely on the mind of many Shit Harper Did supporters is, what happens if the man himself is ousted from office October 19?

“The goal of Shit Harper Did has always been for the organization to die,” Young said. “I think if we were sued out of existence by the federal government, that would be a success.”

But the movement is about more than just politicians.

“My hope is to maintain some of this momentum,” Young said. The organization works on indigenous solidarity projects, organizing direct action around industry, and they’ve even delivering to food banks (after using the food to blockade the Minister of Industry’s office). They are more than just an anti-Harper team.

Watch Whoa Canada online here

Megan is A\J's editorial manager, a lover of journalism, and graduate of the University of Waterloo's Faculty of Environment. 


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