Harper Doesn’t Speak for Canadians

Harper Doesn't SpeakCanadian minority Prime Minister Harper wigged out yesterday. It had been a bad week for him and his right-wing party. First he again ridiculed the Kyoto Accord, declaring that Canada had no intention of even trying to live up to it, despite the fact a large majority of Canadians support it and Canada is currently chairing the Kyoto implementation talks. International groups called on Canada to resign its chair position rather than continue to undermine the agreement, and Quebec and Manitoba announced they remain committed to Kyoto targets and called on Harper to honour the wishes of Canadians to strive to meet the targets. On Kyoto, global warming and the environment, Harper doesn’t speak for Canada.

Then the right-wing National Post invented and published as front-page “news” an inflammatory anti-Islamic story that Iran planned to force its Jews to wear an identifying coloured ribbon. The Post went on to compare Iran to Nazi Germany. When the story was revealed to be fiction, the Post was forced to retract it. But Harper didn’t wait. Citing the Post story, he issued a tirade against Iran and said Iran “is very capable of this kind of action…It boggles the mind that any regime on the face of the Earth would want to do anything that could remind people of Nazi Germany.” A furious Iran summoned the Canadian ambassador to Iran to explain the remarks. Harper came off looking like an idiot. On Iran and our views of the Islamic people, Harper doesn’t speak for Canada.

Problems in the botched mission in Afghanistan, where Harper has taken over from Bush as the rhetorical spokesman for the myth that that destroyed nation is moving quickly towards peace and democracy, worsened considerably this week. Deaths and injuries from resurgent Taliban and other anti-Western forces are soaring as promises to help Afghanistan rebuild its war-ruined infrastructure go unfulfilled — nowhere near enough money or resources has been committed for the job, which is far too dangerous to do anyway. Opium remains the country’s only functioning industry, and it is flourishing. And then an incompetent US air raid on Afghan insurgents killed 16 civilians and injured 15 others. The ‘peacekeeping’ role that Canadians support in Afghanistan is increasingly untenable, and a majority of Canadians want us out before Afghanistan becomes another Iraq. But Harper buys all the neocon rhetoric about Afghanistan being another front of the ‘global war on terror’ and wants Canada to be front and centre in that war. That’s why he has joined the Bush neocons in refusing to allow flags to fly at half-mast for Canadian war dead, and banning press coverage of their funerals. On Afghanistan and the ‘War on Terror’, and in his disrespect for our war dead, Harper doesn’t speak for Canada.

Harper’s party won a fragile minority of seats in the last Canadian election. He then struck a deal with the morally bankrupt Bloc QuÈbecois that would see the Bloc support Harper, no matter how opposed his legislation is to everything the progressive Bloc ran for in the election, in return for weakening Canada’s federalist system so that the Bloc’s goal of separating QuÈbec from the rest of Canada would be easier to achieve. A deal between two devils designed to subvert the will of the majority, including progressive Bloc and federalist Conservative voters. Harper also signed a secret back-room deal with Bush to extend NORAD, and continues to publicly support their obscenely expensive and demonstrably unworkable missile defence scheme — and refuses to reveal details until he’s ready to present the deal to Parliament. In Harper’s rabid ideological extremism (he was once a Western separatist, and has consistently concealed his true right-wing beliefs from the people of Canada in order to get elected), his ends justify any means. On federalism, on the break-up of Canada, and on getting in bed with the US on defence programs, Harper doesn’t speak for Canada.

And just yesterday Harper abandoned the traditions of open Canadian press conferences, in favour of the US ‘media management’ approach of choosing which reporters he would allow to ask questions (favouring of course those like the National Post who agree with his ideology). When two dozen reporters then walked out of the press conference in protest, Harper went ballistic, declared that the Canadian press, which has been timid in the face of his outrageous behaviour to the point of obsequiousness, had “unfortunately…taken the view they are going to be the opposition to the government…They don’t ask questions at my press conferences now. We’ll just take the message out on the road.”, and declared that he would stop having national press conferences at all. On freedom of the press, Harper doesn’t speak for Canada.

The problem is that he is presuming to speak for Canada, and the American and international press are listening and confusing his rhetoric with the views of the Canadian people. Not only does this misrepresentation hurt our long-standing reputation for humanitarianism and liberal values in the eyes of the rest of the world, it makes Canadians targets for international extremists who may mistakenly believe that we Canadians support Harper’s neocon wingnut ideology.

My message to Stephen Harper is: Shut up. You do not speak for us. Your ideological blather wasn’t even supported by the minority who voted for you in the last election. You lied to us about your real beliefs and real agenda in the election campaign. Now you are ruiningour international reputation and endangering our lives.

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16 Responses to Harper Doesn’t Speak for Canadians

  1. Martin-Eric says:

    I don’t think that there is such a thing as a politician that truely represents their constituants. Besides, the only people that really beleive what presidents and prime ministers have to say are … other presidents and prime ministers. In a nutshell: politics is a self-compleasant game.

  2. Gary J Moss says:

    I hope you Canadians are more successful with Martin than we Americans have been with Bush, until recently. That your national press corps would walk out is a good sign.

  3. EquallyDisgusted says:

    Dave, Can you get the opposition parties off their fat lazy asses? Last time I checked, Harper had a minority government and therefore is fairly easily removed. Gary, There is effectively no political process to remove Bush. Canada differs significantly in that regard.

  4. CW says:

    I think I heard recently on the Australian media that Mr Harper used some of Australian Prime Minister John Howard’s spin doctors during his election campaign. I shuddered when I heard that.

  5. Andrea says:

    It’s like he has a little checklist of Bush Attributes and he’s checking them off as he goes: “maintain presence in ridiculous war despite lack of support, check. Bash environmental priorities, check. Give the finger to the international community, check. Piss off the press, check.”Mind-boggling.

  6. Sue says:

    Well said, Dave. The only point on which I would disagree with you is Harper’s so-called concealment of his true right wing agenda. I’d say he’s been pretty up front about his neo-con views over the years, and the little pre-election charades about being pro-Canadian and not afraid to stand up to the U.S. were just that: charades.Regarding Andrea’s comment about the checklist of Bush Attributes, I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who noticed that. I didn’t know whether to laugh or roll my eyes in disgust when he got to the “End every speech with ‘God bless Amer–oops I mean Canada” attribute.

  7. Robin Hart says:

    Dave:You have a lot of good things to say. Unfortunately, by your uncharacteristically inane ranting in this post, you have, in my humble opinion, lost a significant amount of credibility.I expect better of you!!

  8. Mike says:

    Mostly nicely done. I’d also add that Harper doesn’t speak for most Canadians when he says he wants mandatory minimum prison sentences for marijuana grow-ops. The whole war on drugs is a perpetual American fiction, an excuse to pick on people who choose to use drugs which have been arbitrarily classified as illegal, and at least the Liberals were taking some baby steps toward saner policies (though they ended up doing nothing, which was typical of them, and part of the reason they’re now the opposition). It’s time for rational, reasonable Canadians to get involved in the political process and get these zealots out of office.

  9. Shawn says:

    Robin Hart : it’s ok that it was a rant. He was very passionate about this topic. His feelings about this are true and he is letting them come out in a way that sometimes happens. I say, Good Blog! Let your true self show! (unlike Harper who can’t answer a question)

  10. mattbg says:

    Of course he doesn’t speak for most Canadians; he has a minority government! On the other hand, polls now suggest that he has majority-level support (though, by the numbers, still not support of the majority of Canadians).I think you’re being unfair on the Iran incident. There is documentation showing that Iran had considered doing what the National Post story said that they had done, which makes them capable and somewhat justifies Harper’s comments. In the end, Iran encouraged a dress code for Muslims but not for non-Muslims with the effect that one group would be identified independently of the other; not badges, but uniforms. There’s a difference, but it’s not that great of a difference. The National Post was clearly wrong to report the way that they did, but it’s not a black-and-white issue from my point-of-view.I think it’s quite easy to make mistakes about Iran, and I don’t think that it’s wrong-headed to EXPECT the worst from them, and perhaps treat them with a bit more disdain than some other countries, if only because of their track record on human rights and religious persecution. As with Canada, of course, in Iran the government probably does not represent the people.As for Kyoto, I think that he should have supported it just for the public relations effect even if, as with his predecessor, he had no intention of actually doing anything about it. The fact that most Canadians support it doesn’t really mean very much when you look at the individual behaviours of most Canadians with respect to the environment. There’s a lot for government to do here, but we also need some personal responsibility to be taken by the citizenry. That, I think, is something that we are more likely to see from a Conservative government.As for Afghanistan, the house, comprised of more than Conservatives, voted to renew the commitment. It seems like some people want to ask other countries to do the killing that is necessary as a precursor to Canada coming in and doing the peacekeeping and reconstruction and looking (at least in Canadians’ eyes; probably not the world’s) as do-gooders with clean hands. Don’t you need stability before you can reconstruct?And, no, Harper doesn’t represent most Canadians, just as Bush doesn’t represent most Americans (any more). But, both represent some; Harper moreso than Bush, based on the recent US presidential approval ratings. And the growing popular support for the Conservatives in Canada suggests that Canadians are perhaps not as liberal as the Liberals would have you believe. “Canadians” (if it’s possible to sum them as a group) like to look liberal on the surface while swiping at things with a conservative hand when nobody’s looking; that’s why red tories — a group of which I consider Harper to be a member — seem to do so well these days.There are plenty of people who seemed scared of Harper before the election who seem to now feel that he’s not doing a bad job or, at worst, indifferent to him.This post came across as being very partisan. It’s almost worthy of outright rejection simply on that basis; it sounded like a tirade of the type that you probably wouldn’t like to see coming from Harper.

  11. brad says:

    Deja Vu.. i’m a liberal American and this is Bush’s power playbook your Harper is using.. taken originally from the fascists. Scary. Bush has RUINED and BANKRUPTED our country.. Keep speaking out and protest before it’s too late, and these strongarm corporate tactics ruins yours.

  12. Pearl says:

    I still don’t know what to make of the man. He hasn’t had much time in office yet. Lord knows I can understand how he would want to avoid a media-roast. When they act responsible they can earn the privilege of reporting news in a balanced fashion. The media crying foul claiming he is muzzling the media doesn’t seem exactly just. A lot seniors seem to back him. Quebec seems to back him. Ladies seem to spontaneously say they are head-turned by his pretty face. He could unite the Christian right, as frightening as that possibility is to me, since I don’t trust the intolerant fringe there. That he would move away from not only same-sex marriage but also Kyoto is alarming. The whole armbands in Iran seemed fishy and I’m glad to hear it was retracted. I find Harper’s body language an obstacle for me. I’m used to the central modesty curved shoulder, self-consciousness, not the young swagger that is so from the prairies. He seems to have integrity even if I disagree with his political bent.

  13. pdc says:

    Harper may not represent your interest’s however, he is the Prime Minister of the country. You do not speak for me when you state to the Prime Minister to “Shut up, You do not speak for us.”So I suggest that you apply for citizenship in Iran as quick as you can. Becuase I will continue to vot for Harper as he is the best.

  14. Jon Husband says:

    Integrity shmintegrity … best example so far of Harper’s integrity is his encouragement David Emerson to double-cross the constituency that elected him. Or is it his complete reneging on a commission for appointments ?Harper potentially will ruin years of canadian reputation even more quickly than Bush ruined the US’s … mainly, tho’, because much of the US’s reputation was a charade.Harper needs to be booted, not punted … and quickly. The problem is the Bloc, of course, who represent in their minds another nation and are completely selfish about it .. and of course Harper is playing up to that.Unfortunately too much damage will be created before a majority of Canadians wake up. One more reason to relinquish “hope”, as you eloquently described in a subsequent post.

  15. Jon Husband says:

    From the blog Firedoglake:The reason America stands on the brink of an epic election is that this President, his party, and his apologist[s] have let loose dark forces of division and dishonor that have divided our country, alienated much of decent opinion around the world, hurt our military, abused our freedoms in the name of a politics of fear and let loose in the land a kind of politics that violates the cardinal rules of two hundred years of the American family.Anyone care to venture what the Canadian version of this will read like in oh about 24 to 36 months if we don’t somehow begin to challenge Harper ?Please remember that many of the things Harper intends to do address Canadian values, the Canadian “infrastructure” of policy and economics, and the perceptions of Canada and Canadians around the world.

  16. Glavniru says:

    Моя история из жизни: мы как-то с мамой ехали в маршрутке,( мама спец по всем видам мяса на глаз определяет что это), на остановке залазит подвипывший мужик с куском свежака в одноразовом пакете. Едем. Маршрутка резко тормозит,мужик по инерции бежит вперед и пакет рвется ,оттуда выпадет свежак ,дальше мамины слова- ” Мужчина,у вас вымя выпало!” я медленно сползаю под сиденье , пассажиры ржут, мужик красный – выбегает на следующей остановке :)))

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