STEPHEN HARPER – HOW FAR TO THE RIGHT? #2

Posted: April 7, 2011 in Election, politics

To what degree is it fair to accuse Stephen Harper of an extreme right wing, hidden agenda?  Is it just another opposition scare tactic, or is the uneasiness that many Canadians feel about Harper totally justified?

I’ve already mentioned that Harper’s roots are in the Reform Party.  Here are some Harper quotes from those days:

“It’s past time the feds scrapped the Canada Health Act.”
– Stephen Harper, then Vice-President of the National Citizens Coalition, 1997.

“Kyoto is essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations.”
The Star, January 30, 2007

“Faith teaches that there is a right and wrong beyond mere opinion or desire. Most importantly, it teaches us that freedom is not an end in itself, that how freedom is exercised matters as much as freedom itself.”

March 15th, 2009

“Human rights commissions, as they are evolving, are an attack o­n our fundamental freedoms and the basic existence of a democratic society…It is in fact totalitarianism. I find this is very scary stuff.”
BC Report Newsmagazine, January 11, 1999

“Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it.”
Speech to American Council for National Policy, 1997

And one quote about Harper from national icon, David Suzuki:

“Stephen Harper not only opposes Kyoto, but he refutes the science. He’s back in the dinosaur era. Harper is just totally out of it.”
– David Suzuki on Canadian Alliance leader Stephen Harper, 2003.

One of the first policy statements made by Harper in the current campaign was reiterating his promise to end the Long Gun Registry.  With so many important issues that could be talked about, this one seemed to shine, for Harper and his team, as a top priority.  Why?  Does he think that the kind of people who like guns are the kind of people who will vote for him?  Law and order along with more prisons seem to be more important that social services and rehabilitation.

It is a common failing of those conservatives on the extreme right (not all conservatives) that they have a disrespect for democracy, in spite of the fact that they appeal to it so often as a foundation for their policies.  Freedom and democracy are held high, …as long as you are in agreement with them.  This is, I think, born of a self-righteous belief that they there is a moral foundation and a God-given validity to their beliefs.  Hence, the right want to tell women what to do with regards to abortion, while the right believes in “pro-choice”.  If you think about a lot of the social issues, this pattern holds true.

In the case of the Harper Conservative government, this shows up in two ways.  The first is in their disdain for democracy and accountability.   The current election is the result of the Conservative government being found in contempt of Parliament.  Not only is the government guilty of the deception which resulted in that contempt finding, but they have refused to even acknowledge the issue in the campaign.   The Canadian media is also finding him in contempt.  When the government fell, Harper refused to take any questions in the subsequent press conference, continuing a long practice of non-cooperation with the press.  Harper attacked and threatened the CBC for reviewing a book that was critical of him and his government.  This is something that he has done with many other public service organizations as well.  If you don’t follow his instructions you are publicly humiliated or fired.

Perhaps the most arrogant disregard for democracy was his move to pirogue government in order to avoid a confidence vote and the embarrassing questions which would have followed.  IN 2008 he was accused of trying to bribe Chuck Cadman,an independent MP, to change party affiliation with a 1 million dollar life insurance policy, knowing that Cadman was dying.  Harper then tried to cover it up and deny it in spite of the fact that Cadman’s wife and daughter confirmed the story.

In addition to his disdain for democracy, he also seems to have a disdain for science, for Easterners, for women’s rights, for the right to sexual orientation, for the environment and for the universal health care.  He has a well established record of centralizing government decisions.  He is definitely the top dog, and everything has to go through him.

But one of the most telling facts which allows us to see behind the mask is the appointment of Darrel Reid as his Director of Policy and Research, and later, in 2008, as Deputy Chief of Staff.  Reid is the former leader of the Focus on Family Canada, a fundamentalist Christian organization with a policy agenda which holds no surprises.  Reid is quoted as saying:

Every Christian is under an obligation to change law to reflect biblical values.”

As it stood before the election, almost 25% of the Parliament of Canada is made up of fundamentalist Christians while the Census (which, of course, Harper’s party is trying to scrap) shows that less than 10% of the Canadian population are fundamentalist Christian.  Hmmm….

Personally I am given pause to wonder whether Harper might qualify as a running mate for Sarah Palin, should he tire of Canadian politics.  A party can have any policies that it wants.  But if your agenda is really to slide the country in an ultra-right-wing direction, and is fueled by fundamentalist religious beliefs, the cards need to be on the table in order for the public to know what exactly they are voting for.

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