Language Wars Update: Bias and Neutrality

In the Language Wars post, I wondered why think tanks had not yet been subjected to the Canada Revenue Agency audits that many see as targeted harassment of organizations that do work in contradiction to various Conservative doctrines that usually contain some version of "you're with me or you're with the pedophiles/anti-semites/communists..."

It seemed that I might have been mixing up categories of organizations that are eligible for charitable status and that think tanks are in a category that do not have to help the poor in order to retain their status.

Last week the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives was singled out for a CRA audit because
"A review of the Organization's website, as well as the previous audit findings, suggests that the Organization may be carrying out prohibited partisan political activities, and that much of its research/educational materials may be biased/one-sided."

That led to questions about whether right-wing think tanks are also undergoing audits and having their activities questioned.
Among right-leaning or pro-business think-tanks in Canada, two — the C.D. Howe Institute in Toronto and the Macdonald-Laurier Institute in Ottawa — have confirmed to The Canadian Press they are not currently under audit for political activities. Two others — the Fraser Institute in Vancouver and the Montreal Economic Institute — have declined to comment on the matter.
On Friday, the Fraser Institute president, Niels Veldhuis, claimed that the work of his think tank is not biased but data based.

Hee hee.
Press Progress published an article today that deftly disputes the claim that the Fraser Institute is unbiased.

Neo-liberalism has taken a strong hold over policy debates in Canada and other G20 countries - we cannot talk about anything from education to health care to the environment to transportation to foreign policy with out including discussions of the positive impacts of privatization, free trade, open markets, deregulation, and reductions in government spending in order to enhance the role of the private sector in the economy. Neo-liberalism has become our political lingua franca. Perhaps the Fraser Institute people do not see the bias in their work because of this.

I wonder what Brazilian adult educator Paulo Friere would say to Niels Veldhuis. Perhaps he would say this:
“The educator has the duty of not being neutral.”
 From We Make the Road by Walking: Conversations on Education and Social Change (1990)
Or perhaps:
“Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and powerless means to side with the powerful, not to remain neutral."
Or he might speak to us instead:
Our advanced technological society is rapidly making objects of us and subtly programming us into conformity to the logic of its system - to the degree that this happens, we are also becoming submerged in a new "Culture of Silence".”

Hang in there CCPA - we need your kind of bias as we foster a Culture of Noise!


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