Prime Minister Stephen Harper
When you add up all of his screw ups, backtracking, gaffes, stupid moves, ignorance, stupidly blind ideology, excesses, self destructive meanness, vulgarity – and this is by no means a comprehensive list – it is hard to believe he was ever elected, let alone be the Prime Minister of Canada for more than three years. His record is atrocious. His incompetence alone is staggering.
Foreign policy wise, his administration has seen only failure. Consider this:
- On Afghanistan, it took him years to figure out that our sacrifices of blood and money were for naught. He had read no history on the region and blindly followed a course dictated to him by his arch-rightist American friends. With no more weaponry than jingoism and bravado – that is almost literally true – he led the Canadian people into the hopeless quicksand of one of the most inhospitable regions on earth where failure was inevitable. Only recently did he get it through his head the futility of it all - after 117 and counting deaths of young Canadians, and costs to the Canadian taxpayer of 15 billion – and counting.
- On China, he makes nice with the Dalai Lama, insults or ignores the leadership of one of the most economically dynamic countries on earth, and harps (excuse the pun) at them on human rights for most of his three years in office. In addition, he fails to see or learn that if there is one thing that unites most Chinese people it is that Tibet is part of China and none of anybody else’s business. Finally, it dawns on him – hey, my China policy may not be wise - perhaps it would be better to cozy up to one of the strongest economies in the world. And so he sends – don’t laugh – one of his best and brightest to make amends - the redoubtable creationist and jet ski operator, Stockwell Day.
- Within the last week or so, he stumbled into the bad blood of the almost 100 year-old Turkish - Armenian nastiness. Turkey and Armenia are still at odds over the nature of that dispute and their borders are closed. No doubt there will be a reconciliation of a kind in the years ahead, but such is not yet the case. Harper decided to get into the fray by terming Turkey’s actions against the Armenians as genocide, which prompted Turkey to immediately recall its Ambassador to Canada. Turkey is one of the two or three most important Islamic nations in the world and has been friendly to the West. It is also pivotal in the search for international security and has a population of seventy-one million people. Yet, Harper pissed Turkey off!
As to the treatment of newcomers to Canada, Harper and his ideological soul-mate and spear carrier Jason Kenney continue to tell new Canadians that the Conservatives welcome them to join their party and that they understand them and want them to feel at home in the party and the country. They say this at the same time as beating the drum for Citizenship Act changes requiring new Canadians to be knowledgable in English or French before they acquire citizenship. They also throw every conceivable roadblock in front of an innocent Sudanese Canadian who has spent the better part of a decade being jailed and tortured in his former homeland and who wishes to return to his daughters in Montreal. This is not the treatment that new Canadians have in mind from a party that expects to recruit them.
As to the human rights that for years he seems to have cherished only when within earshot of the Chinese, Harper’s government has been notorious for having a deaf ear when it comes to Canadian citizens incarcerated in foreign jurisdictions. At the moment, the most notorious case is that of Omar Khadr, who has spent the last several years in Bush’s concentration camp in Guantanamo. Soon to be 23, Khadr was captured by the Americans in Afghanistan at the age of 15. Charges against him have been dropped three times and currently are suspended. Khadr is the only western citizen still incarcerated in that hellhole. The Federal Court recently ruled that international law required the Canadian government to demand Khadr’s return to Canada. Harper wants to appeal.
Also in the area of human rights, there is the case of former Red Deer, Alberta resident and Canadian citizen, 51 year-old Ronald Smith. Granted, Smith is no prize. He has been on death row in Montana since 1983 for shooting two young men to death in cold blood. But Canada does not have the death penalty and the tradition – indeed the legal duty - has been that the Canadian government make representations to the foreign authority to help its citizen avoid the death penalty. Harper abandoned that practice. The Federal Court has told Harper to do his job and help save Smith from execution. So far, Harper says no dice. So much for Harper and human rights.
On the economy, during the election campaign when all hell was breaking loose, Harper was encouraging Canadians to buy stocks. In December when he made his economic statement, he did not see the need for stimulus spending because everything was hunky-dory. His view changed drastically in a few days time. Who did he take his economics courses from? Herbert Hoover? R. B. Bennett? Jim Cramer?
Politically, Harper’s judgment may be charitably described to be dismally and obviously, hopeless. Consider this:
- Harper had a speechwriter in his employ who plagiarized one of the most important speeches he ever gave in his career. It was the speech Harper gave to Parliament when he argued for Canada to join the United States in the invasion of Iraq, no less! Smart dude! as his pal Bush would say.
- He and his jolly band of neocons organized attack ads on Stephane Dion that probably gave the Liberals a couple of points in the last election – particularly the one that had the puffin defecating on Dion’s shoulder. Real Classy!
- Fighting for some seats in Quebec, he forgot or, more likely didn’t know the importance of culture to Quebecers and took a shot at the province’s struggling artists during the election campaign. He thereby destroyed any chance of a breakthrough for his party in La Belle Province and succeeded in sealing his political coffin there for all time. Brilliant!
- And then there is his on-again, off-again relationship with former Prime Minister Mulroney. Mulroney as we all know is going through his winter of discontent. At the moment, he is under a cloud and how long that lasts is anybody’s guess. But he did win two successive majorities for the Tories, and rewarded countless of their numbers. Does he really deserve to be a pariah amongst the Conservatives? Does Harper’s PMO really have to provide snippets of information to the press that makes the life of Brian even more miserable than need be? Even when the actions have the inevitable result of starting a war within the Conservative Party and the caucus itself? Harper and his minions must think so. Good move!
- And then there is the coalition. There was only one thing that Harper could have done to unite the opposition enough to threaten his position and destroy his equilibrium. And he did it. In the tradition of the giants of totalitarians he tried to get rid of – literally – the parliamentary opposition parties by depriving them of money. They fought back and bloody near threw him out. This near-death experience for both the opposition and Harper as it turned out, changed the dynamics and led to a quick leadership change in the Liberal Party. It also united the Grits for the first time in almost a generation. All of this makes Harper’s life miserable until he either leaves or is defeated, one of which will be sure to happen within the next 6 or so months. Clever indeed!
Does it get worse? Indeed it is. Harper’s favorite media instrument for communicating to the public is Fox News.