Fraser Institute

Unravelling the right, reframing the left

Donald Gutstein, professor in SFU’s School of Communication, writes frequently on the web, often about think tanks and the dogmatic, distorted postures we’ve come to expect from these groups. A piece he wrote a few months ago is still worth attention: CANADA WEST FOUNDATION REWRITE HISTORY: THINK TANK TRACKER

I find the term “think-tank” objectionable. It implies collective intelligence, reason and unprejudiced examinations of subjects that need careful and broad minded consideration. Only a fool imagines most organizations pretending to be think tanks even aspire to meet these standards. They are typically echo chambers for their sponsoring organizations.

Of course, most represent right wing groups of wealthy individuals and businesses. A survey of journalists in Washington DC concluded that influential conservative think tanks outnumbered progressives by 14 to 1. In Canada, right wing advocates may not predominate in the same proportion but they’re close.

The Vancouver Sun publishes material from these groups as if they are adjuncts. Here are a few:

  • The Fraser Institute
  • Canadian Taxpayers Federation, 
  • Canadian Federation of Independent Business
  • Independent Contractors and Businesses Association
  • C.D. Howe Institute
  • Conference Board of Canada
  • Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada

After publication of Gutstein’s Not a Conspiracy Theory, Charlie Smith of The Georgia Straight wrote:

Do you ever wonder why so many of the Fraser Institute’s right-wing commentaries get into Canadian daily newspapers? …Maybe you’re troubled by the constant media attacks on medicare or on the scientific consensus about global warming. …Donald Gutstein explains how Canadians are being duped by a sophisticated, broad-ranging, and reactionary public-relations assault financed by some of North America’s largest corporations.

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7 replies »

  1. Right wing think tanks ostensibly provide neo-right governments with propaganda, talking points and spin using statistics, the third kind of lie, and MSM complicity. They are supposed to be reputable by their association with big business and objective by their reliance on the popular misconception that statistics are a reasonable substitute for science. They pretend to be above politics and completely non-partisan. Yet anybody who recognizes the fallacy of balancing two sides to every scientific “story” and their consistent bias against the political left, also recognizes their

    But it is a politically dangerous presumption that neo-right pseudoscience and anti-left chauvinism is accepted as even-handedness just because MSM is owned by the right and as if people don't get their news and views from anywhere else. Not recognizing the impotence of partisan think tanks in context with the huge and growing new media is just as bad as not recognizing the experts and advisers around you are sycophants who only tell you what you want to hear. Of course, reacting to reasoned refutation of neo-right, partisan cant with personal attacks and puerile name-calling kind of takes the “think” out of “think tank.”

    Any think tank, left or right, worthy of the name, should be able to stand to account.


  2. It is a very sad day to hear that Governor Scott Walker was re-elected today in Wisconsin, after being recalled.
    The facts are that his right wing supporters gave very generously. Total spent on his campaign from inside and outside sources $45million. Tom Barret the democrat spent a total of 9million. America has made the first step to be wholly owned by the Koch brothers.

    Canada is also subject to the same scenario in the not to distant future IMHO.


  3. Truly the enemy from within….nothing but propaganda from the right wing, corporate agendists, to subvert the taxpayers and governments, at all levels. We are being “conned”.


  4. Don Gutstein is one of our best. On Wisconsin, go to their local papers, get their analysis, read their comments. People,35% of union members in Wisconsin voted FOR Walker!!!!! Think it would be any different here? Remember Solidarity?


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