Multiple Realities ~ ne Werkjlijchkjeit
|Manitoba MP Vic Toews|
Veteran politician for Canada’s Conservative Party / Parti Conservateur du Canada MP for Provencher, Manitoba, and Federal Minister of Public Safety, Vic Toews, has had a difficult few weeks. Toews has made a number of political and social allies and enemies, but his recent sponsorship of Bill-30 to decrease police dependence on official warrants for obtaining digital subscriber identification information from service providers, and for installing and activating so-called spy applications tracing the movements of Canadian citizens both in Cyberspace and in the real world, has seemingly upped the ante.
Already upset over what he feels was a probable retaliatory invasion of privacy when Liberal Party staffer Adam Carroll of Ottawa apparently twittered embarrassing details from public court files relating to Toews 2008 divorce from Lorraine Kathleen Fehr and his affair with a family member’s nanny, and yet a third simultaneous affair resulting in his having fathered a son with Stacey Meek, Toews has demanded certain changes to the court’s record management policies enabling stakeholders to better track who has had access to that rather sensitive personal information and for what purposes. While the court files are public record, Toews has been upset that the identities of persons accessing the files are not made public. He might actually have a good point.
Carroll’s tweets have been nicknamed Viki-gate (after Vic). The Viki-gate tweets went viral as non-Conservative politicians, such as Grit politician Justin Trudeau, passed them on to their own electronic followers, creating a Postmodern media event wherein truth, fiction, the private, the public, the moral statement and the moral action merged, divorced and recoupled in a digital environment that resists manipulation and control.
Toews’ Postmodern scandal-dilemma becomes even more complex if the most recent Viki-leaks revelations turn out to be credible. With little background justification other than a statement of revenge, the on-line hackers’ group Anonymous published some even more potentially damaging allegations regarding yet another potential affair (number 4, if you are counting) between Toews and Judge A. Catherine Everett of Manitoba, while he was having the affair with Meek (and still married to his wife, if you are having difficulty following). While this would seemingly pose troubling moral questions for “a family values” politician, the possibility that Toews appointed Everett to the Court of Queen’s Bench in Manitoba while carrying on an affair with her, would raise higher breach of ethics concerns beyond Canada’s evangelical and Mennonite religious communities. One could also ask how he was able to justify these affairs within a traditional Mennonite upbringing or how his voting supporters can fail to hold him to account.
For their part, Anonymous often claims to have access to privileged or confidential personal information based on their ability to hack personal email and e-text accounts. While their methodology is troubling, their allegations tend to have some sort of justification.
According to their revenge statement, Anonymous posted the “leak” in retaliation for Toews’ sponsorship of Bill-30 and possibly for his having claimed that the bill’s only real targets where child pornographers, thereby misleading Canadian citizens as to the true scope and breadth of the bill’s provisions. One would not require a great amount of imagination to postulate Anonymous to have been as a much a target of Bill-30 as anyone – especially in the wake of intense international efforts by the United States to shut down such groups in the aftermath of the original Wiki-leaks scandal wherein thousands of sensitive classified documents were released by hackers into the world-wide web, opening the United States State Department to intense and often embarrassing public scrutiny. Timings could also be tied to the recent arrests of 25 members of Anonymous-affiliated hackers in late February around the world. It would seem reasonable from Anonymous' perspective that while child porn has been going on for decades, that there is seemingly a lot of anti-Anonymous coordination internationally at this moment.
The posting as it appears on Occupy Canada’s Facebook.com page is as interesting for its layout as for its content. Carefully, step-by-step, Anonymous lays out an alternative moral history for Toews beginning with the Meek’s affair in 2005. One sees two “realities” emerging on the web page – the official one wherein Toews ascends the ranks of power and authority in Ottawa, and an alternate history presented by Anonymous wherein Toews is not only having an affair with Meeks, but is also sleeping with Judge Everett – with the Harper government’s full, complicit, well, perhaps subsequent, knowledge. (Note: This was long before Newt Gingrich and Dominique Strauss Kahn (DSK), the French Socialist and head of the World Bank made such reputations sexy and socially survivable. Again, if the charges are substantiated, then it might be interesting to more fully compare and contrast these three Postmodern democratic political sex machines.)
Whether the charges demonstrate themselves to be true or not, one would predict a growing sense of hyper-reality surrounding Viki-leaks and sparking a lot of different Postmodern concepts such as the escalating spiral of information as attempts to construct and/or control Reality (or its perception) feed on themselves. Anonymous seemingly depends on Baudrillard’s concept of the ecstasy of information, whereby we begin to follow the story and then start to want more and more information, increasingly finding the quality of the information to be difficult to determine or to be increasingly managed and less unbiased (Miller, p 5-6). At the end of the spiral, it matters not what is true or false. As DSK found out, the various realities will have established themselves and must then be owned and lived in order to overcome them.
Similar to DSK, Toews might be existing within his own rational libidinal economy, pursuing a de-pressed or a re-pressed path to fulfillment, what Martin identifies as the pleasure principal (Martin, 5-6). Interestingly, Robert Miller paraphrases the Buddha in his explanation of the rational libidinal economy and its pre-destined failure, “For desire cannot seem to find its secure satisfaction: its hopes are frequently dashed and suffering results. Thus, one can see a principle of Seduction operating in and around the production of desire, i.e., leading it astray from its promised path and thwarting its aim of personal happiness,” (Miller, p 5).
At the very least, Canadian observers are likely to be treated to a three-ring reality show with at least three competing realities struggling to establish and maintain themselves – the defensive reality of the Harper Government, the personal reality of Toews and the aggressive, self-justified reality of Anonymous’ digital universe. One would expect that all three realities will avail themselves of the Postmodern-era media and adapted authority structures to impose or champion their own subjective universe on the others. Interestingly, it is rather likely that each “sponsor” will either believe or come to believe their respective realities – at least over the real merits of competing realities, though possibly still ending in an ultimate sense of existential despair as all three realities eventually falter. A fourth reality, that of Toews’ supporters in his home riding in Provencher, Manitoba, possibly a pre-Modern reality based in Low Church sectarianism, might also come into play and be forced to interact with the others.
According to the principles inherent in Postmodernism, the likelihood is that all 3 (or 4) posited realities will prove themselves to be both true and false, creating a reality of their own wherein the differences between conflicting realities are less important than their self-insertion into the realm of the real.
Toews, Bill-30 and Viki-leaks are a lesson in Postmodern governance and public morality in, for our purposes, the context of Russian Mennonite ethnic biography. How Toews and the Harper government extricate themselves from these issues will probably greatly illustrate the way in which truth, morality, accountability, reality, authority and privilege are perceived and revealed in Canadian society in this new era, and the lengths to which institutions and individuals will go to protect those realities or even to attempt to manipulate them, and the greater reality or truth of their ultimate failure. The ramifications of this illustration on the assumedly pre-Modern world view and fideism of Toews’ home ethnic Mennonite culture will also be illuminating and worthy of observational study. Still, I am glad that I am not in his shoes.
1. CBC News, “Online Surveillance bill targets child porn: Toews,” 14 Feb 2012, http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2012/02/14/technology-online-surveillance-bill.html, 08 March 2012.
2. CBC News, “Vic Toews to find out who saw his divorce,” 07 Mar 2012, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/story/2012/03/07/mb-vikileaks-divorce-files.html, 08 March 2012.
3. Conners, Douglas, Occupy Canada Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/OccupyCanada/posts/309751665745400, accessed 08 Mar 2012.
4. Miller, Dr. Robert, “Baudrillard’s Philosophy of Seduction: An Overview,” Existentialism Society Lecture, Dec 2004.
5. OpenMedia.ca, “Government Begins to Backpeddle on Online Spying as StopSpying.ca Petition reaches 93K,” 15 Feb 2012, http://openmedia.ca/news/government-begins-backpeddle-online-spying-stopspyingca-petition-reaches-93k, 08 March 2012.
6. www.wikipedia.com, “Vic Toews.”
added 25 Apr 2012:
Adam Carroll Appears before Parliamentary Committee