Here's a posting that should bring back some bad memories for Canadians. While I realize that these comments from Stephen Harper aren't particularly new, they bear repeating. It always shocks me how many people are unaware of Mr. Harper's speech given to the Council for National Policy.
I always watch with interest and, I must admit more than a little discomfort, when the Harper Conservatives use every opportunity to consistently remind Canadians that the leader of the Official Opposition, Mr. Michael Ignatieff, is an American wolf in Canadian sheep's clothing. After doing a bit of reading this past month, I was reminded of a speech that Mr. Harper gave before he was Prime Minister. I recalled that he referred to Canada as a Northern European welfare state but was unclear about the entire content of the speech or the context in which it was given.
Well, thank goodness for the internet. A quick search turned up the entire speech here. In my mind, this speech is highly significant to Canadians. Because he gave the speech after his tenure as a Reform MP in Ottawa but before he became leader of the Alliance and well before he became Prime Minister, it gives Canadians a glimpse of the "real" Stephen Harper; not the man that Canadians see today who is a creation of the PMO, his political handlers and his public relations personnel.
Mr. Harper gave this speech in Montreal back in 1997 as Vice President of the National Citizen's Coalition. His audience was the Council for National Policy, a right-wing American think tank. I'll briefly explain just what the CNP is and what their agenda consists of at the end of this posting to put the speech and the occasion into context.
In this speech, Mr. Harper makes some very interesting and candid observations about Canada and Canadians that I will quote verbatim followed by a brief comment.
"...Now, having given you a compliment, let me also give you an insult. I was asked to speak about Canadian politics. It may not be true, but it's legendary that if you're like all Americans, you know almost nothing except for your own country. Which makes you probably knowledgeable about one more country that most Canadians."
It would appear that Mr. Harper thinks Canadians are uneducated idiots and buffoons. In fact, we may even be more ignorant than uneducated Americans.
"...First, facts about Canada. Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it. Canadians make no connection between the fact that they are a Northern European welfare state and the fact that we have very low economic growth, a standard of living substantially lower than yours, a massive brain drain of your professionals to your country (I assume he included Mr. Ignatieff in this group) and double the unemployment rate of the Unite States. In term of the unemployed, of which we have over a million-and-a-half, don't feel particularly bad for many of these people. They don't feel bad about it themselves, as long as they're receiving generous social assistance and unemployment insurance."
Could it be possible that Mr. Harper thinks that Canadians are a bunch of socialists with an entitlement problem? Apparently, we'd rather sit on our butts and collect EI than actually work. All of Canada's smart people (at least the ones that are motivated enough to work for a living) would rather move to the United States to get away from Canada's loser, sit at home and wait for the government cheques to roll in mentality.
"...Of our two Legislative houses, the Senate, our upper house, is appointed, also by the Prime Minister, where he puts buddies, fundraisers and the like. So the Senate is also not very important in our political system."
I guess that means that the 33 Senators that Mr. Harper has appointed in the past 4 years are not buddies, fundraisers and the like. That makes me feel much better so, I'd like to volunteer my name for one of the coveted appointments. I guess the unimportant nature of the Senate also explains Mr. Harper's appointment of one of the recent Senators for Prince Edward Island.
"...If any member of these political parties votes differently from his party on a particular issue, well, that will be national headline news. It's really hard to believe. If any one member votes differently, it will be national headline news. I voted differently at least once from my party, and it was headline news. It's a very different system..."
It surprises me that Mr. Harper really believes in free votes in the House. Does this mean that he will no longer whip his members when they vote and he will no longer harass the members of the Opposition and their leaders when some members vote against their party?
"...Canada is, however, a troubled country politically, not socially. This is a country that we like to say works in practice but not in theory..."
Again, it seems that Mr. Harper is really sorry that we're a bunch of hoser losers. Not to worry though, he'll take care of things for us.
One thing I completely fail to understand is why the media and the Opposition Parties in the House of Commons don't take every opportunity available to them to remind all Canadians who their Prime Minister really is, what he stands for and what he really believes. It is like the battle in the House of Commons is fought with the Conservatives armed with verbal nuclear weapons and the fighters on the Opposition side of House have a few verbal stones to hurl amongst the whole lot of them and they're reluctant to throw them because someone on the other side could get their feelings hurt.
As I stated at the beginning of this posting, I wanted to put everything that Mr. Harper said in his speech into perspective by giving you a little bit of information about his audience that night back in 1997.
The Council for National Policy (CNP) is an umbrella organization for conservative Christians that was founded in 1981; one of its founding members is Timothy LaHaye, author of the "Left Behind" end times series of novels, who was the head of the Moral Majority at the time. Its membership list was once public but is now confidential. Membership is by invitation only as is attendance at meetings. Even the Christian media is not invited to meetings because the members do not wish to risk public exposure of their policy making. Their website links you to another website called Policy Counsel which contains speeches made to CNP by the elite of the right, for example, James Dobson, John Ashcroft and Steve Forbes are just some of the names that appear on the Policy Counsel website. Funny thing is, Stephen Harper's speech seems to be absent! It's well worth skimming over some of the speeches just to get a sense of the leaning of the organization.
Here is a screen capture of their website:
You have to give Mr. Harper credit for one thing, he sure seems to know how to play to his audience. You've got to give them what they came for.
Since Mr. Harper's government has actually achieved relatively little toward accomplishing their true political goals during their 4 year tenure as a hamstrung minority, in his eyes, I'm sure Canada has changed or improved only incrementally. One question: have his feelings towards Canada and Canadians changed or is he just biding his time until he gets a majority government so he can really put the conservative stamp of improvement and approval on all of us?
As a proud Canadian who loves the country I have grown up in, I find it particularly scary that this same man who, in the past, has presented such vitriolic criticism against Canada, may one day be granted a majority government by an increasingly disengaged electorate and have the unfettered ability to foist his real agenda on Canadians.
Now, I ask you, who is the sheep and who is the wolf?