In a recent interview, Justin Trudeau spoke about looking for the root causes of home grown terrorism when asked what he would do if an event like the Boston Marathon bombing happened in Canada. Apparently that was a mistake. So the Canadian right tells us.
They went ballistic after his comments and are now using his response as validation of their previous claim that Trudeau isn’t mature enough to lead the country. What they really mean is Trudeau isn’t violently right wing enough to lead the country. In their eyes, to be right wing enough means to shoot without asking questions because asking questions about root causes precludes the ability to shoot. The PM of Canada, Stephen Harper, went so far as to condemn the act of ‘committing sociology’ when it comes to terrorist attacks.
Why do I call my Prime Minister ‘Our Dear Leader’?
Not long after the Tories won their first minority government Canada’s leading news magazine, which was jerking sharply to the Right, ran an article on Stephen Harper. It was straight out of North Korean propaganda in my opinion. “Our Dear Leader will lead us to a bright future. He is to be worshiped and adored by those of us who are unworthy of his love and leadership. Here’s a picture of Our Dear Leader looking seriously at a modern production line created under his brilliant leadership which was inspired by the most perfect political and economic system that has ever existed.”
I nearly barfed.
As you can tell I don’t think much of Our Dear Leader, and crackhead Pammy’s support just lowered it even more.
There is a place on earth that most Americans never think about—a vast, strange land where the days can be cold, but the people are friendly and the health care is free. We remember this place exists only occasionally: when we find out our favorite comedian was born there, or when someone we know decides to move there for college. For the most part, though, it hardly enters into our conception of the world. Canada is there, and it isn’t.
But there is a new and unfamiliar wind blowing in the North—one of national ambition and passionate, even aggressive, patriotism. Its proponents seek to transform Canada from the polite and accommodating country it’s been for most of its history into a major, muscular force on the world stage. The Canada they envision will be powerful, rich, and influential. It will never again be ignored, or dismissed sneeringly as “America’s hat.”
Adherents of the new Canadian nationalism point to their country’s range of advantages, starting with its massive size and abundance of natural resources like timber, water, gold, and oil. They note the stability of their government and the strength of the Canadian economy—the Canadian loonie is currently worth more than the American dollar, and according to the International Monetary Fund, its gross domestic product outpaced that of the United States by more than $2,000 per capita in 2011. Then there’s global warming, which promises, strangely enough, to benefit Canada by melting the ice in the Arctic Circle, thus opening it up for drilling and lucrative new trade routes to Asia.
“There is a growing consensus in a certain part of the Canadian population that we have been underachievers and boy scouts, internationally, for far too long,” said Matthew Fisher, an international affairs columnist for Postmedia, a Canadian publishing company based in Toronto. When Fisher started his column last January, he argued that Canada, for the first time, “intends to live up to what has until recently been largely a fantasy—that it is an important world player,” and pledged to use his position to trace “Canada’s growing reach and rising stature.”
Led by Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Canadian government has fully embraced this vision, emphasizing the country’s military history and spending millions to promote its image as a nation of uncompromising fighters. Earlier this fall, the country’s foreign affairs minister, John Baird, delivered an unmistakably belligerent speech at the United Nations accusing the organization of “endless, fruitless inward-looking exercises.” And last spring, amid a national debate over the government’s plan to spend billions of dollars on a fleet of F-35 jets, an elaborate ceremony was staged on the Canadian equivalent of Capitol Hill to celebrate the country’s military and its contribution to unseating Libyan dictator Moammar Khadafy.
When thinking of Canada, I strongly doubt that the first thing to pop into most people’s heads would be “bastion of political conservatism”. Yet in this liberal country, prime minister Stephen Harper has carved out an impressive reputation as one of the world’s most successful centre-right leaders.
Through two minority Tory governments (2006 and 2008), and since May 2011 at the head of a majority government, Harper has balanced strong leadership with a confident domestic and foreign policy agenda. Canada may be a middle power, but our prime minister will accept nothing less than a seat at the top table.
This has been aided in large part by well-received political and economic policies. Harper’s unwavering stance in support of Israel, passionate defence of democracy and fierce opposition to global terrorism has won international praise. He has no fear of gradually reducing the size of government and the bureaucracy, cutting bloated social programmes and bringing down income tax rates. Meanwhile, the Canadian economy is in relatively good shape as compared to the US and Europe.
So, what is Harper’s secret of conservative success in a liberal society? What lessons can he teach David Cameron, the US Republicans and other centre-right Western leaders about maintaining their convictions and still winning elections?
Maybe I can shed some light. I’ve known Harper since 1996. Although we weren’t close friends, we met every so often and used to keep in fairly regular contact. We discussed everything from Canadian politics to, believe it or not, traditional Christmas music. I also worked in the Prime Minister’s Office as one of his speechwriters during the first minority government.
Harper is a highly intelligent, well-read, and astute political thinker. He’s a great admirer of past conservative leaders like Ronald Reagan, Sir Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher. He holds a master’s degree in economics from the University of Calgary, and is always engaged when it comes to Canada’s financial health and future success. Harper understands campaigning, having first won a federal seat in 1993, and enjoys the subtle art of strategic warfare during an election. He’s also a conviction politician: doing what he feels is right, no matter the personal cost in terms of popular opinion and support.
Hundreds of Iranian expatriates travelled from as far away as Canada and California to protest Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presence here Wednesday.
And many of them praised Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government for its decision to sever diplomatic ties with Iran, saying such action weakens the regime in Iran while strengthening Ahmadinejad’s domestic opposition.
But the protesters also cautioned Western countries against using military action to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb, saying increasing diplomatic and economic pressure can accomplish the same goal.
“We don’t need any military action against Iran,” said Khosrow Ziav, a Kurdish Iranian who now lives in Toronto. Ziav, who moved to Canada from Iran 10 years ago, was one of several hundred who joined a noisy anti-Ahmadinejad protest outside the United Nations building here Wednesday and also spent part of the week protesting outside the five-star hotel near Central Park where Ahmadinejad stayed while in New York City.
“We have everything we need to destroy the regime. All the people in Iran - 90% of the people - are against the regime,” said Ziaev. “We don’t want war in our country.”
he thin-haired, middle-aged man delivered a speech to the United Nations that undoubtedly left many in the international body fuming. He criticized Libya, Iran, and North Korea by name: “Just as fascism and communism were the great struggles of previous generations,” he said, “terrorism is the great struggle of ours.” He cited Winston Churchill and defended Israel. And he criticized the UN on its own turf. “The greatest enemies of the United Nations are those who quietly undermine its principles and, even worse, by those who sit idly, watching its slow decline.”
George W. Bush in 2002? Nope. John Bolton in 2006? Wrong. This anti-UN lecture was delivered in September 2011 by the foreign minister of Canada. Yes, Canada.
Since 2006, when Conservative Stephen Harper became Canada’s prime minister, America’s typically quiet and modest neighbor to the north has been much more assertive in pursuing its foreign policy. It has been forceful in advocating what it sees as both its interests and its values. And it has done so in language unlike that of any other Canadian government that has preceded it. It seems that Canada has become, well, un-Canadian.
Consider for a moment some context. In Canada’s parliamentary system, the PM wields enormous power. He can often coerce legislators into supporting his proposals. Unlike the American system, with its separation of powers, the Canadian government almost always allows its leader to ratify his chosen policies. As a result, the PM’s words carry especially great weight—they signify the legislative direction the country is likely to take.
Canada’s new foreign policy can therefore be said to have begun with Harper’s very first address to Parliament as head of government, in April 2006. In that speech, Harper chose to acknowledge first “our head of state, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, whose lifelong dedication to duty and self-sacrifice have been a source of inspiration and encouragement to the many countries that make up the commonwealth and to the people of Canada.”
Though Canada is indeed a member of the British Commonwealth, those ties are rarely celebrated as forthrightly as in this statement. Harper has rehung a portrait of the queen on a wall of the prime minister’s office, linked the monarchist rhetoric to an appeal to traditional conservatism, and even publicly scolded the governor general for referring to herself, not the queen, as the Canadian head of state. A journalist called Harper “one of the most monarchist” prime ministers since John Diefenbaker, who was in power when General Eisenhower was the US president.
Harper’s pro-monarchy stance is only one of his many endeavors to define Canada as part of the Anglosphere. The effort is strikingly in contrast to other recent approaches that situate Canada more “progressively,” as part of an amorphous, UN-led “international community.”
Harper also consistently stakes out hawkish ground on international matters. In that same first speech, he said: “This was the hard lesson that this country learned in two world wars—we learned it before the United States—and it was driven home to us again with great force on 9/11.” He followed with praise for Canadian troops in Afghanistan, who were “standing up for Canadian values abroad.” This, too, has been a theme Harper has continually stressed in his time in office—that Canada has a strong role to play in the world, a role primarily defined by building a powerful military and supporting fellow democracies.
WHEN the Canadian government announced a year ago that China had agreed to open its market to Canadian seal products, participants in the beleaguered industry thought it would be their salvation. The United States had long since banned such imports, the European Union did so in 2010 and there were rumours, since confirmed, that Russia would follow suit. As Denis Longuépée of the Magdalen Islands Sealers’ Association put it at the time: “The population is so high in China that if everybody buys some pelt or product from seal, we won’t have to trade anymore with Europe.”
Yet despite Canada’s fanfare in announcing the agreement, as well as some prodding from the country’s fishing minister during a visit to Beijing in November, the deal has yet to come into effect. It is unclear whether protests by animal rights groups in China, which began as soon as the pact was announced in January 2011, persuaded Chinese authorities to delay implementation, or whether they had other reasons for conducting what has been described as a technical review. Regardless, on February 6th Stephen Harper, Canada’s Conservative prime minister, headed to China, where he will try again to get exports started. “Our government will continue to vigorously defend this humane and highly regulated industry and seek new international markets for Canadian seal products, including China,” he said on the eve of his departure.
The sealing industry, a target of animal-welfare groups for decades, is in decline, with 37,000 harp seals killed last year, down from 67,000 the previous year and almost 75,000 in 2009. (A small number of grey and hooded seals are also killed each year.) Although clubbing the white-coated pups of harp seals has been illegal since 1987, the industry has not been able to counter negative publicity from advocacy groups, or persuade foreign governments that they way adult seals are killed is humane or sustainable. Everyone from Brigitte Bardot (when she was in her prime) to Sir Paul McCartney has had a go at the sealers.
“To boost support for a US pipeline for its oil sands crude, Canada claims it’s more ethical than the Middle East. Is there such a thing as ethical oil?”
In a word, no:
“There are ways to make oil production more ethical, but it will never be an ethical industry,” Ms. Alpern says. “It’s an inherently dirty way of making money.”
Critics say the ethical oil campaign is simplistic and disingenuous. “Canadians are good people, therefore we make good oil? It’s a kindergarten argument,” says Andrew Nikiforuk, an environmental journalist based in Calgary, Alberta, and author of “Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent.”
The heavy crude from the Alberta oil sands got its “dirty” environmental reputation because of the massive amounts of toxic waste water and carbon emissions produced during mining and the process to separate the crude from the sand, not to mention the clear-cutting of vast swaths of boreal forest necessary to extract the oil sands. Oil sands production has been estimated to create up to 20 percent more carbon dioxide emissions than conventional drilling, prompting a group of US mayors in 2008 to pass a resolution urging American cities to stop using fuel from oil sands.
In two words, hell no:
The whole notion of ethical oil sets up a false dilemma because the very viscous Canadian crude needs to be cut with lighter oils from places like Saudi Arabia in order to be transported down a pipeline, says Chris MacDonald, a visiting scholar for the Clarkson Centre for Business Ethics at the University of Toronto. “So what’s the point of having ethical oil if you are mixing it with this ‘conflict oil’?”
Response from Stephen Harper and ever-faithful shills?
It’s now ‘Harper’s Government’.
There’s a reason I call our Prime Minister ‘Dear Leader’. He and Kim Jong-il bear a remarkable resemblance.