Welcome to Harper v. Canada, a new column that digs deep to understand Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s current war against our democratic institutions, freedoms and dissent. The column uses two approaches to unravel Harper’s phony commitment to making Canada “the best country in the world: a) exhaustive excavation of Harper’s controversial past to reveal teachable milestones and b) opinion and analysis that tries to understand Harper’s current and future motivations.
Some of the teachable moments to look forward to:
- During a meeting in Montreal in 1997, Harper declared his unequivocal support for US conservatives, whom he told: “… your country, and particularly your conservative movement, is a light and an inspiration to people in this country and across the world.”
- Before becoming prime minister, Harper suggested that “although we like to think of ourselves as living in a mature democracy, we live, instead, in something little better than a benign dictatorship.”
- Harper once bemoaned our faulty democracy and suggested: “For Canadian democracy to mature, Canadian citizens must face these facts, as citizens in other countries have, and update our political structures to reflect the diverse political aspirations of our diverse communities.”
- As President of the National Citizens Coalition (NCC), Harper spent years mired in a court case titled “Harper v. Canada”, which challenged Elections Canada and our election regulations.
- Groups Harper associated with in the past. For example, the National Citizens Coalition, a conservative lobby group that has campaigned against public services, the Canadian Wheat Board, the Canada Health Act, the Canadian Labour Congress and the admittance of Vietnamese refugees (“boat people”) to Canada, and a host of progressive issues.
- The things Harper said or did.
- Since assuming power in 2006, Harper has turned Canada into a “suicidal state” relentlessly sniping at its own democratic institutions. For example, he prorogued parliament twice, in 2008 and 2009. Now he’s unashamedly dismantling the progressive state Canadians built since World War II, mostly through Liberal Party leadership, and the contributions of individual Canadian leaders such as Tommy Douglas, the late NDP leader Jack Layton and John Diefenbaker.
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