Sunday, September 21, 2008

Prime Minister Harper's Office Email Hacked..?

It seems that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is not the only conservative being attacked by hackers seeking email addresses... it appears that up here in Canada, our Prime Minister Stephen Harper is suffering the same fate.

I'm signed up to be on the Prime Minister's Office email subscription service. For months now, I've been receiving the same official press releases, statements, transcripts of speeches and notifications of future appearances that journalists and media institutions are sent. It's not a closely guarded secret; just go here if you'd like to do the same. Every other day or so there's a new message, stating that it's from the "PMO".

Today, September 21, 2008, at 12:51:20 PM I received the following email, claiming to be from "Stephen Harper" this time, not the usual "PMO" label, with the subject heading "Why you shouldn't fear me", issued from the exact same address as the regular PMO official messages:

Hi The Average Canadian,

Stephen Harper wanted to tell you... My name is Stephen Harper. I am an ALBERTAN, here me roar! My goal is to make Canada America's 51st state and destroy health care that all Canadians cherish by infusing my propaganda with hard core ad hominem attacks. Please vote for me, because if you do, I promise you'll be able to vote for McCain 2012!

We are a tar sands level party, not a grass roots party. We consider anything with the word \"Green\" offensive, except for the almighty American dollar, which we hope to be able to implement in the coming months! We shall first have to make sure that American and Canadian jelly beans have the same standards, and then we shall proceed.

I hope everyone has a great weekend,

Take care,

Stephen \"I can lead you to Hell but not back\" Harper

The bottom of the message links to a site called "willyoubetricked". Who knows what damage visiting that site will do to computers, so visit at your peril. (there's ".ca" tag to add to the end to the above address, to reach it.)

What juvenile delinquency, coming from "patriots" whose idea of patriotism is not so much love of country, or love of much of anything, so much as it is envy of something else.

UPDATE: A second junk email has now been sent through the Prime Minister's email address:

Serbia's Southern province of Kosovo declared independence in February 2008. Harper's government recognized it's independence. Does this lead to slowly accepting sovereignty for Quebec? Here's why Canada must follow International Law, the UN Chart, UNSC Resolution 1244 and the Final Helsinki Act of 1975.

concerned citizen
Stephen Taylor explains what seems to have happened:

Somebody emailed the PMO listserve address sending this email to whoever signed
up on the Prime Minister’s government website for the email mailing list. ...
Also more at Kate O'Malley's blog at Macleans, and Steve Janke, who adds:

The email is absurd in its content, but the goal is to embarrass the Prime Minister by suggesting a major breach in security.

UPDATE II: At 9:48:19 PM, another email, this time seemingly from the government.

Subject: Unauthorized Messages Purporting to be from Prime Minister Stephen Harper
This message is being sent to you on behalf of the Office of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Government of Canada.

As a subscriber to the Prime Minister's website (, you may have received what appear to be two emails from Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Please be advised that these were unauthorized uses of the Prime Minister's email listserv and do not represent the views of the Prime Minister or his Office. We regret these unauthorized communications.

The circumstances surrounding this unauthorized use of the Prime Minister's listserv are under investigation.


Eowyn said...

You know, Charles Henry -- I've talked to quite a few friends and co-workers about the upcoming election.

A good many say (and may actually) vote for Obama. But I'm willing to bet that when it comes time to put the actual finger to the button, McCain -- maverick though he may be, he's a much better-known quantity -- will be the candidate of choice.

I think what people don't like is actually having to THINK about whom they choose as a leader. This time around, there are no templates dictating their choice.

Heretofore, most ordinary Americans have relied on TV and word-of-mouth to make up their minds. This time around, neither candidate fits that, nor any other template. And Americans don't like it.

Will this be an election where the electorate actually researches their prospective leaders? No. But I think it will be an election where they may finally see that active participation just might be a factor in choosing the best leader. Will they participate more fully?

That they need to is beyond question. We are facing very, very serious challenges ahead. It's my belief that our very operating system -- the way we've always done things -- is in danger. We have been asleep at the wheel.

I think Mr. Harper is doing the very best he can, given the political climate. That is, I'm guessing Canadian voters are similar to ours in their complacency and willingness to believe in a template. He can no more control global events than fly to the moon -- but he is doing his best, as far as I can tell.

A final thought ... funny, how, if it were Mr. Dion's e-mail being hacked, the outcry would shake the heavens, but if it's Mr. Harper or Gov. Palin ....

Dag said...

I reread last week for the first time in nearly 40 years The Hobbit. I wa thinking of you, Eowyn, and of the forces of evil that never go away without taking with them too much that should have remained.

Life is tough. Literature makes it beautiful sometimes, even in the bitterest moments.

Charles Henry said...

Eowyn, I don't think Canadians are all that different than Americans when it comes to voting patterns... one thing that both our countries' citizens definitely have in common is the tendency to conflate politics with religion.

Going to the polls involves refelexive action no different than heading to the same pew in the same neighborhood church the voter attended for years.

I've talked with people who just would not vote conservative under any circumstances. Yet, their values are no longer represented by their other, usual, choices. They just have a cartoon stereotype in their minds about what a conservative majority would mean, and no factual argument can dissuade them from that.

Same with my American acquaintances or family, about Republicans....

I feel much more comfortable talking politics with voters who are frustrated with who they feel they have to vote for. I much prefer a disgruntled voter than a happy one, I see a disgruntled state of mind as a sign that the person has weighed all the candidates, and has settled for whom they think would be the lesser of evils.

Charles Henry said...

Oops, that should read, reflexive action...

Anonymous said...

I think that would be someone like me Charles ;)

Although to be fair, I find myself more in doubt of the government system that we have in place, rather than any particular candidate.

But I'd probably be inclined toward a libertarian or conservative vote, given the chance ( in two years, oh joy ).

Anonymous said...

I think a frustrated voter ( in theory ) would be someone like me.

Not reflexive. Heh.

Eowyn said...

Ah, dag, good on ya viz: The Hobbit -- I encourage you to revisit The Lord of the Rings also, knowing full well how addictive it will be ;)

Dag said...

I go through the trilogy every few years or so. I start on Friday afternoon so I can pile through it by late Sunday night with luck. I can't recall how many times now over the years I've done that. Always a joy.

Eowyn said...

dag, Lord, yes.

Confession: I may spend the better part of a day simply re-reading a passage, or a chapter, to feast on the music of Tolkien's prose.

J.R.R. was a linguistic master, bar none. I spent a good block of time -- months, at least -- savoring his examination of "The Elvish" languages. An absolute symphony. Still do, when I get the chance.

So very, many, places in the Trilogy fill me with so much -- but I think the very best is after the fall of Sauron, when Frodo and Sam have recovered from the violence of the Crack of Doom, and are presented to the gathered hosts to be recognized by Aragorn.

Too impatient to find the exact words, but Tolkien describes the moment as those gathered feeling joy like swords, and they passed into the realm where tears are the very wine of blessedness.


Truly ... when something like an election of idiots to succeed idiots tries to demand my attention, I can't help but hear that, and be lifted past stupid stuff.

(Does that make sense?)


Dag said...

Literature does it for me, elates me, moves me in ways people can be moved inside themselves to a plane of nobility and goodness, if only for the moment. But there is the linger effect, too. The dramas of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Shakespeare, to the novels of Dostoyevsky and Graham Greene and Anthony Burgess, for the religiously minded, these things make life beautiful and worth the effort of living it. I think of Sonya and Rogozhin, for example, going with Raskolnikov to the prison camp in Siberia where the the nasty and egotistical Raskolnikov can find what his mature double, Svidrigylov cannot: redemption.

Recently I sent the last lines of the Hobbit to a friend for cheering up some:

"Then the prophesies of the old songs have turned out to be true, after a fashion!" said Bilbo.

"Of course," said Gandalf. "And why shouldn't they prove true? Surely you do not disbelieve the prophecies, because you had a hand in bringing them about yourself? You don't really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit? You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very found of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!"

"Thank goodness!" said Bilbo laughing, and handed him the tobacco-jar."

There's so much worthwhile that comes to us if we look for it. I read the lines from Tolkien and I recall this from Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling:

'Even though the result may give joy to the whole world, it cannot help the hero, for he would get to know the result only when the whole thing was over, and it was not by this he became a hero, but he was such for the fact that he began."

Who can tell? Not us. Wonderful, isn't it, to go out and into with faith and joy. And sometimes it's the going out and into a piece of literature that provides us with what we couldn't have if not for it. In all, I feel blessed that we are so blessed. All of us, if only we could see it, hard as things can be.