Synopsis: This 2009 entertaining documentary film explores the history of banking, the selling out of the prosperity of Canada, the clearance sale of Canadian businesses and the political liquidation of public infrastructures to the multi-national corporate oligarchy. How has this led to the biggest economic crash / recession / depression in Canadian history? Could it have something to do with our politicians listening to international bankers and corporations instead of the people Canada? How does the Canadian banking system really work? How does the central Bank of Canada compare with the American Federal Reserve?
This movie presents these issues that affect every Canadian from the perspective of and delivered by concerned youth in a astute and colourful manner. This is a serious journalism piece that asks the tough questions directly to such politicians as Former Prime Minister of Canada Paul Martin, Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, Ontario Gas Man Dan McTeague, NDP Leader Jack Layton, Mayor of Oshawa John Gray, Former Prime Minister of Canada John Turner and many more!
eyelights: its endearing DIY quality. its star interview subjects.
eyesores: its many unsupported claims. its leaps in logic. the abysmal production.
‘Oh, Canada: Our Country Bought and Sold’ is a 2009 low budget documentary about Canada’s economic and sovereignty issues. Written and directed by Dan Matthews, it’s a DIY affair that uses low-grade graphics and animation, news footage and video recordings to state its case.
Frankly, I knew nothing about it when I picked it up. Given its title and subject, it was intriguing to me – especially since it featured quotes by top tier Members of Parliament. Since it only cost 50 cents at my local library used book store, I figured that it would be worth it.
I certainly got my money’s worth: at two hours in length, it was as verbose as it was mind boggling. And fascinating.
It begins with the premise that all that we value in Canada is for sale. Cheap. Matthews interviews people on the street, asking them where money come from. Since all of them (a half dozen, at most) are young adults who appear to be in a mall, it’s not surprising that they don’t know.
I immediately started to wonder about the quality of the film. I can overlook low budgets and production qualities because not everyone has money. But there’s no reason for poor writing or development. That he had so few interviewees and from such a limited pool was a bad sign.
However, he then turned his camera on former Prime Minister and Finance Minister Paul Martin, in an exclusive interview for the film. Wow. What a coup! He also got Jack Layton, Elizabeth May, and a few Liberal and Conservative MPs, including Jim Flaherty, Colin Carrie and Mark Holland.
So I decided that there may be more to it than I initially thought. After all, if all these people agreed to participate in the documentary, there must be some meat on these bones. And I figured that, at worst, it would be interesting to see what all of these people thought of the issues.
Matthews began to break down our country’s economy, showing us how much debt we have versus how much we actually got in return when we borrowed. he showed us the difference between regular interest versus compound interest, and how much debt we’re racking up unnecessarily.
Ouch. It’s not good.
He also went on to tell us that there’s only four billion in banks, worldwide, but that they’d lent about 1.5 trillion (at the time of the film’s making, which is now over 5 years old). Of that amount, 50 billion alone rests in Canada. That so much of it is not “real” money is quite disturbing.
Basically, we’re spending and owing money that doesn’t exist. If all IOUs were called in at once, everyone would be bankrupt – and few people would get their owed money back. Apparently, globally, humanity is 52 trillion in debt. Canada alone pays 60 billion/year to repay debt. That’s 160 million a day!
Think of all that could be achieved with that kind of money!
And this is when the documentary started to devolve again: Matthews made heavy-handed use of the terms “fraud”, “theft”, and “counterfeit” in his assessment of the situation. While that may be so, and who am I to say, he didn’t back it with fact.
Isn’t intention a factor? Are we intentionally being fleeced? He can’t prove that. We could just be mismanaged. Ahem… maybe we just need to change our management. (hint, hint…)
In 2009, Stephen Harper was Prime Minister, and had been for two years. Matthews shows how Harper’s views of the economy changed before and after the 2008 election, how he denied the existence of a recession long enough to be re-elected – as he did again in this election.
Matthews must be gnawing at his knuckles now – especially with our debt load having been racked up dramatically since.
Who claims to be Conservative and a good steward of the economy.
Matthews did make a solid point on sovereignty, though, citing former Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King and former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln on controlling one’s own money, with both saying that no nation can master its own fate if banks and creditors handle the public purse.
“Once a nation parts with the control of its currency and credit, it matters not who makes the nations laws. Usury, once in control, will wreck any nation. Until the control of the issue of currency and credit is restored to government and recognized as its most sacred responsibility, all talk of the sovereignty of parliament and of democracy is idle and futile.” – Mackenzie King
Amusingly, Matthews then asks former Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and former Prime Minister and Finance Minister John Turner where money is printed. Neither of them knew. Surprisingly, it’s not done by the mint anymore; it appears that the Bank of Canada outsources this to a German firm.
‘Oh Canada!’ switches gears at about the midway point, going from economy to power. It begins to illustrate how it’s concentrated in a very tight circle, mostly around billionaire Paul Desmarais and his company, Power Corp – many of its employees having become politicians.
Including former Prime Minister Paul Martin. And many others.
He then talks about the secretive Bilderburger Group, a group of a handful of politicians and executives who influence global policy, and their yearly meetings. In an interview, Elizabeth May is especially suspicious about this: “Democracy thrives in the light”, she says. John Turner is also concerned.
“We are grateful to the Washington Post, the New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost 40 years……It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years. But, the world is more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supernational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national autodetermination practiced in past centuries.” ― David Rockefeller
“For more than a century ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents such as my encounter with Castro to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure–one world, if you will. If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.” ― David Rockefeller
To support his theory that a world government is being formed by these people, Matthews quotes David Rockefeller, one of their members. Both quotes seem to suggest that he claims they are working towards that aim and that they have been for 40 years. But they’re taken at face value, and are not contextualized.
That’s when the documentary truly devolves. While, so far, Matthews tenuously supported his claims, here he began to spew off opinions more than facts. He has plenty of theories, but no proof. All he has are allegations and conspiracy theories. They may very well prove true. But he doesn’t do the proving.
One of the biggest unfounded theories is that he claims that the legal system is gamed to facilitate all of the above, something which he doesn’t in any way substantiate. His arguments against globalization and his list of everything we’ve sold off are the only things anchoring him by then.
In Canada, we own precious little anymore. Scary. And we’re now selling what little is left. How can we claim to be a nation, to be sovereign, if we own nothing, if everything has been bought out by corporations and/or other nations, when we make laws that allow them to take our resources from under us?
In the end, Matthew closes by arguing that people shouldn’t vote because it doesn’t matter. It’s all fixed, he says. Instead, he tells people to phone in and demand change, giving the phone number and email for Canada’s Parliament. He adds that it’s best not to protest publicly, as it engenders violence.
Hmmm… not sure about any of this. Seems to me that visible protest is a cornerstone of change. People can’t be swayed if they aren’t aware of the issues, or of the extent of the discontent. Being invisible doesn’t bring change. Personally, I think people should protest more, be more active.
And, yes, they should vote. I’m not even against making it mandatory. Sure, some of the voting would be uninformed, in such a case. But it already is. Hopefully, by being forced to vote, people would make a point to pay attention a little bit. Maybe we’d have a more informed electorate.
In any event, the film ends with what, for me, must be the low point:
Matthews gets (presumably) some of his friends to sing a bastardized version of “Oh Canada” that addresses much that was discussed in the documentary. It’s a poorly-sung pastiche of the various performances cut together into a mess. It looks and sounds horrible and is totally unwatchable.
Ugh. Cringe-worthy stuff. It was meant to be amusing, but it was embarrasingly bad. That the whole DVD has abominably compressed audio, a crap dynamic range, didn’t help, because even interviews sounded terrible – so you imagine what songs sounded like; it really hurt my ears.
Finally, I thought ‘Oh Canada: Our Country Bought and Sold’ had some interesting points to make and much of it should be discussed. People should reflect on these issues and ponder them. But it’s more than a mere two-hour documentary can cover; it should at least be a four-part mini-series.
Matthews did his best to discuss these matters concisely, to provide a bullet-point overview of the state that Canada is in. But it needs to be backed by way more solid facts. A research paper or a book would require references to prove its points. But that’s the film’s biggest lack, it’s fatal flaw.
In its current form, it’ll catch your ear, but not open your eyes.
Dates of viewings: September 1+5, 2015