Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I’m betting that most Canadians are content with Canadian values. Human rights, a charitable spirit, peace, tolerance, compassion. All of the good basic stuff of a civilized society that has evolved here in he last 350 or so years. It makes Canada one of the best. Most Canadians like it. Indeed they love it. And they will protect it. That's my bet.

And the first line of defense of that protection is not against the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is not in Iran, or Iraq. It is right here in Canada. And the battle that determines whether my bet wins will be the next federal election.

Make no mistake, this Harper Conservative party – the Reform Alliance Tory mishmash (the acronym is, fittingly, RAT) - does not believe in Canadian values.

We know where Conservatives stand on human rights. They have been bitching and complaining about the Charter of Rights since then Minister of Justice Pierre Trudeau introduced the idea in 1967. Conservatives have no respect for the Charter (unless, of course, they are under arrest). Neither do they have respect for judges that interpret the Charter. Conservatives have launched cowardly attacks on judges of Charter cases since the cases began coming before the courts.

Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, while Alberta Provincial Treasurer during the dark ages of the Klein years made it very clear about what he thought about human rights. In a statement about Clifford Olson – admittedly not a popular Canadian – Day said: “People like myself say. ‘Fix the problem. Put him in the general (prison) population. The moral prisoner will deal with in a way which we don’t have the nerve to do.’”

Of course, in April 2007, the Harper Conservatives boorishly refused to take part in the commemoration 25th Anniversary of the signing of the Charter of Rights.

The Conservatives believing in charity? That’s some kind of joke. Oh, maybe when Conservative politicians put fellow Conservatives on the payroll. The homeless, the young finding ways to pay for their education, the sick and permanently infirm, or the trucker going broke because of the price of gasoline – Conservatives have no time for them. Tough luck, they say. Live and die by the market.

And peace? Had Harper been Prime Minister when his chicken hawk pal in the states went off to war over Saddam’s WMD’s, Canadian soldiers would have been marching into Baghdad lock-step with their American comrades. He and his pal Stockwell even wrote a letter to the Wall Street Journal lamenting the Chretien government’s decision to take a pass in Iraq.

In Afghanistan, we are bleeding more than any other country. Afghanistan is in a helluva mess. Canada is in a helluva mess in Afghanistan. Our so-called allies do little more than wish us well. Ah, but Conservatives like spilled Canadian blood on the battlefield. It gives Canada a seat at the table with the ‘big boys’ as they and their pals have said so often.

And when it comes to tolerance, think of the record of their Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day (the Conservatives gift to the Liberals that keeps on giving). In the dark ages when he was a Minister for Ralph Klein, Day supported a move to ban John Steinbeck’s classic novel Of Mice and Men from Alberta schools because of profanity. When the Supreme Court said that gays and lesbians are protected under Alberta human rights legislation he argued overruling the case by applying the notwithstanding clause. Day’s record on a host of issues is one to be laughed at – and feared.

Harper, for his part, refused to attend the Toronto's biggest conference of the year in August of 2006. It happened to be an AIDS conference attended by 24,000 delegates from 132 countries, including Bill and Melinda Gates and Bill Clinton.

And then there is Art Hangar, the loud mouth ex-cop, soon to be retiring Calgary MP. A former Jasper, Alberta resident, Stan Faulder had spent years on death row in Texas after being convicted of the 1975 murder of an oil rich 75 year old widow. By the late nineties, many were making representations to Gov. George W. Bush for a commutation of his sentence or at least a delay pending appeals. They included Bishop Desmond Tutu, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and the Government of Canada. The basis of the appeals was that for years Faulder had been denied the right to contact his native government for help, contrary to the Vienna Convention.

During Faulder's appeals process, enter ex-cop Hangar MP. He led a delegation to Texas to tell the authorities that Ottawa should stop interfering in the Faulder case. Said Hangar, “We feel he has, indeed, received due process. More than due process, actually. Now the time has come . . . . that he just be executed.”

In 1999 the Texans executed Faulder by lethal injection.

For years it was the practice of the federal government to lobby foreign governments on humanitarian grounds not to impose the death penalty on Canadians convicted within their jurisdictions. Equally, if a Canadian was convicted and sentenced in a foreign court the federal government’s practice was to lobby the foreign government so that the sentence would be served in Canada.

Ronald Allen Smith of Red Deer has been on death row in Montana for more than twenty years. In November, after considering Smith's plight, Stockwell Day announced that henceforth the feds would not lobby on behalf of murderers “who have been tried in a democratic country that supports the rule of law,” adding that “it would send a wrong message.” Mr. Smith awaits his fate.

The smart money says that should Harper win the next election, capital punishment will be back on the table in Canada. The names of wrongfully convicted murder susupects Donald Marshall, Guy Paul Morin, David Milgaard, Thomas Sophonow, yada, yada, yada, be damned!

The case of Brenda Martin was little different from the Smith case. It mattered not a whit to Harper and Day that Martin had been convicted in a largely outlaw state ridden by corruption at all levels. The state had no evidence against Martin. She was a maid/cook for a fraud artist. Harper's government did nothing to help her, until she started to scream at the top of her lungs from her Guadalajara jail. It was a high risk action on her part, because the noise she made undoubtedly angered her hosts. However, as a result of her pleas enough Canadians became outraged so that the Harperites finally did something about it. They brought her home on a private jet – after she spent two years in a Mexican slammer for a crime she didn’t commit.

Harper's Conservatives continue their mayhem on Canadian values. Canadians rotting in foreign prisons, many of them for crimes they did not commit, have been advised that before they can be transferred back to Canada to serve out their sentences, they must go though a CSIS terrorism check. The process will take months and perhaps years. One of those affected is a 57 year old former fireman who had voluntarily given himself up to the authorities in respect of some drug offenses. Since Day took office prison transfers back to Canada have been reduced by almost 50%.

The foregoing examples are just tips of the iceberg. Harper's attack on Canadian values continues unabated with daily examples. An increasing number of Canadians recognize what is happening. And they are becoming afraid. If not, they better be. If given a free rein, a Conservative government will change this country to some unrecognizable, mean-spirited neocon replica of Bush’s United States. It will be a country of Harper's values.

Yes, be very afraid.


Johnathon said...

Nice essay, but totally a bunch of bullshit.

I for one share most of Harper;s values and I think that most people in Canada do, outside of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

Liberals , for some strange reason, think that they own the definition of "values". Well, Liberals don't have any monopoly on "values".

Harper had 1 million more votes than the Liberals last election and one could argue that those one million people favor Harper's values over Dion's and the Libranos.

You gotta get off your high chair and realize that not everyone in Canada thinks like you. Are you so naive to think the whole country shares your "values'?

Your post was childish, partisan and doesn't represnet Canadians. (the majority anyway).

50 percent of Canada favors the death penalty.

i wonder why.

Darryl Raymaker said...


If most people in Canada shared Bush's pal Steve Harper's values, he would have been far ahead in the polls. Particularly, given the difficulties the Liberals have had in the wake of the Paul Martin debacle. But no, your guys under Harper are running just neck and neck with the Grits.

Look, the women don't like your values. Immigrants don't like your values. The Maritimes don't like your values. Indians don't like your values (notwithstanding Harper's 'heartfelt' apology. Jesus, Harper has a heart????). Most Ontarians and Quebecers don't like your values. Large swaths of the prairies and British Columbia have little time for you.

All of this is for obvious reasons. Harperites are crude and intolerant extremists. They are also neocons in a time when the neocons have been thoroughly discredited through the actions of Steve's pal Bush.

And, by the way, I know that a lot of Canadians don't think like me. I mean, after all, there are idiots like you running around. But most Canadians think like me, and you'll figure that out when you check the results of the next election!