Josef Goebbels and Climate Change

The Globe & Mail’s editorial pages featured comments by Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, Joe Oliver, in which he extolled the success of his recent trip to the U.S. selling the tar sands. Oliver used that platform to attack the NDP leader, Tom Mulcair, who is Washington-bound this week.

“A responsible politician would not travel to a foreign capital to score cheap political points”, Oliver stated.  “I call on Mr. Mulcair to make Americans aware of the reality – that Canadian measures to combat global warming are as good as, or better, than those taken in the United States.”

Oliver used this privileged platform in the Globe & Mail to repeat the Conservative Government’s dubious claim that Canada is already halfway to its target of a 17 per cent reduction of GHG’s from 2005 levels by 2020.

Josef Goebbels, the wartime Nazi information minister, was a master of propaganda.  One of the principles of propaganda that he identified was:

Credibility alone must determine whether propaganda output should be true or false.*

So Goebbels considered that a lie could be as effective as the truth, provided the lie could be repeated without risk of exposure. Disagreement was to be expected, but propaganda can still be effective even when opponents issue a rebuttal. 

One important element is the source of the propaganda.  Is the source generally respected?  For instance, shouldn’t we be able to rely upon statements by Oliver, a Cabinet Minister?  If the Globe & Mail publishes Oliver’s comments without any suggestion of criticism,  isn’t that a confirmation of their credibility?

Another important element: did the target audience have a stake in the propaganda being true?  If so,  environmentalists, dubbed  “radicals” by the Federal Government,  who dispute Oliver’s “good as, or better” claim will carry little weight with Globe readers.

Another of Goebbel’s principles was:

Propaganda must reinforce anxiety concerning the consequences of defeat.*

So it is that the Oliver’s comments emphasized that “tens of thousands of Canadian jobs are at stake” if the Keystone Pipeline is rejected. That emotional appeal will be remembered long after any argument over the percentage progress to Canada’s 2020 target is no longer an issue foremost in our political sphere.

Still 4RG has confidence in the good sense of Canadian voters.  They are independent and truth seeking, far from being the diehard Nazis of World War II.  In due time they will recognize the folly of Canada’s fossil fuel favouritism.

We recommend reading an article written by Clare Demerse of the Pembina Institute that exposes exaggeration and unreliability in Oliver’s commentary.  Go to “Fact-Checking Canada’s record on climate change and the Oil Sands.”

*Source: Goebbels’ Principles of Propaganda by Leonard W. Doob.



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