Tag Archives: Harper

Harper’s speech after the Parliament shootings

After gunman, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, shot and killed a Canadian honour guard at our National War Memorial, and went on a rampage into the Parliament Building, Prime Minister Harper addressed the nation in a most predictable way.

In his speech he carefully framed the events of the day as an act of war. He reminded us that “attacks on our security personnel and on our institutions of governance are by their very nature attacks on our country…”. He made sure to use the word “terrorist” (four times) and he managed to include “ISIL-inspired” in his oratory –this despite the fact that no organized group had claimed any responsibility for the “attack” (a word he used seven times) at the time of his reading of the speech.

Clearly, Harper wants to define this issue as a justification for his combat policy in going after ISIL.

Most telling was the following paragraph from the very short speech:

“In fact, this will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts and those of our national security agencies to take all necessary steps to identify and counter threats and keep Canada safe here at home, just as it will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts to work with our allies around the world and fight against the terrorist organizations who brutalize those in other countries with the hope of bringing their savagery to our shores. They will have no safe haven.”

Harper would like us to see this event as part of a broader world conspiracy of  “terrorist organizations who brutalize those in other countries with the hope of bringing their savagery to our shores” against “free and democratic people who embrace human dignity for all”. In case you missed it, we Canadians are the latter group. Apparently those savages whom Harper alleges to be our enemies don’t embrace human dignity.

Surely the gunman at the parliament building today was a radical, much as Marc Lépine (the École Polytechnique shooter) was a radical. Surely Canada should protect its citizens from violent offences and radicalism, but Harper would like us to perceive ourselves to be at war. He would like Canadians to sanction a combat role in a war against an idea –a war that can’t be won, but a war in which people will die from the “savagery” of Canadian F-18 sorties nonetheless.

As the leader of a nation, his attitude, which plunges us into a world of “us” and “them” thinking, should also be thought of as radicalism, misguided and dangerous.

Comparing Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Adolf Hitler

It’s a big-time taboo to compare any leader in a democracy to the notorious Adolf Hitler. People are justifiably loathe to ascribe to anyone the pathology that would lead Hitler to commit such terrible atrocities. I suggest that by NOT making comparisons, we are putting ourselves more at risk for some version of the same thing happening in our own place and time.

When we think of Hitler, we think mainly of the ultimate atrocity that he committed: genocide against the Jews. The horror of it is how coldly systematic and how terrible it was. Compared to this atrocity, the other transgressions of Hitler are diminished. But we mustn’t forget those other transgressions. We mustn’t forget that Hitler’s ability to create a totalitarian dictatorship depended on a lot of initial groundwork.

I don’t actually believe that the prime minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, is a deranged psychopath of the order of Adolph Hitler. Nonetheless, he is the leader of a nation, and as such, wields power that has the potential to cause much harm, as well as much good. Therefore, we are fools NOT to compare his proclivities to those of world leaders throughout history – including Adolf Hitler.

Here is a laundry list of things that Harper has done that scare me:

1. He has used the media extensively to advertise his initiatives, and to discredit his adversaries. This is called propaganda.

2. He has allowed the surveillance of his own people, including using a state-sponsored spy agency.

3. He has demonstrated extremely right of centre policy attitudes.

4. He has identified a religion as the biggest threat to Canadian security (“Islamicism”).

5. He has used legislation to attack trade unions.

6. He has tried to politicize and discredit the judiciary.

7. He has espoused extremely unorthodox science in order to squelch environmental issues.

8. He has suppressed intellectuals, especially those who might stand in the way of his policies.

9. He has an almost pathological obsession with controlling the dissemination of information.

10. He has increased penalties for crimes.

11. He has covered up manipulations of elections.

12. He is currently creating policy that will give him an electoral advantage.

13. He has increased the militarization of the country.

14. He has, through an advertising campaign, and through funding (and de-funding) initiatives, tried to re-create the history of Canada as a militaristic history.

These are but a few observations. As I have already said, I don’t believe that Harper is a mad dictator like Adolf Hitler, but I DO compare his behaviours to Hitler’s. Why shouldn’t I? And I DO think that in many ways, he is taking Canada down a very unhealthy path.

I haven’t bothered to substantiate my claims with links or references. I would appreciate measured comments that take issue with my concerns, as much as I’d appreciate comments supporting them.

 

Does PMO lawyer, Benjamin Perrin understand ethics ?

It seems the $90 000 “gift” to Senator, Mike Duffy, that was supposed to make his expense scandal go away, was brokered by PMO lawyer Benjamin Perrin. I was curious to know what kind of lawyer would get involved in something like this, so I did a little Google searching to find out what I could about Perrin.

I found an op-ed that Perrin authored in the National Post. The article defends the much debated Omnibus Crime Bill. The article reveals Perrin’s disposition when it comes to ethics. Perrin defends the bill by citing 9 examples of how the it introduces “eminently reasonable” reforms. Notwithstanding the his perceived reasonableness of the the Omnibus Crime Bill, what Perrin doesn’t seem to understand is that the problem with an omnibus bill is its overarching coverage of many things at once, that limits debate and therefore handcuffs the democratic process. Perrin’s article focuses on what he perceives to be a desirable end, when it is the means that are in question. Any first year philosophy student is able to tell you that using the end to justify corrupt means is a breach logic and ethics. Such obtuseness says much about the disposition of the lawyer who holds one of the most trusted legal positions in the country.

You may want to take a look at an old Conservative campaign ad, in which a prime-ministerial hopeful Stephen Harper laments about the government of the time, saying “these guys don’t even know the difference between right and wrong”. The inability (or refusal) to embrace ethics shows something about Harper’s own people, and is quickly becoming the hallmark of a party whose very election platform was accountability.

PS. The original CTV report about Perrin’s involvement in the Duffy deal seemed to disappear amid Perrin’s denials that he had any involvement in the deal. I’m unconvinced that Perrin was uninvolved in the deal, but my suspicion can’t be considered to be anything but speculation based on the original report, and based on recent police revelations.

PPS. The most recent news reports suggest that Perrin’s own law society is considering investigating his conduct.

PPPS. There is now a criminal investigation as “lost” emails connected to Benjamin Perrin have resurfaced.