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House Folds: Harper Lip-Syncing Canada to War PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Wednesday, 17 May 2006 12:58
House Folds: Harper Lip-Syncing Canada to War

PEJ News
- C. L. Cook - It's fair to say, the honeymoon phase of Stephen Harper's minority government is over, and the bride's none too happy with his less than upright performance. Undeterred, Harper has urged his party rise again to make of Afghanistan the stick to assert his mastery of the House of Commons. Tonight Harper risked his party's newborn power, putting the Afghan Question in the crucible, making of it a test of confidence.


House Folds:
Harper Lip-Syncing Canada to War

C. L. Cook

PEJ News
May 17, 2006

With scant notice given his partners in the Parliament, Harper has put forward a motion to the House proposing legislation to ensure an extension of Canada's commitment to the United States, and a continued supply of troops and treasure for Afghanistan through 2008. He's betting the opposition fears forcing another federal election, the third, should his gambit fail and the government fall, in just more than two years; he's betting Canadian voters would punish such a move, and he thinks the Liberals think so too.

Stephen Harper's short tenure at Sussex Drive has some who supported the Conservative/Reform party union wondering today if they chose their man wisely. From the start, Harper displayed an arrogant willingness to set procedural precedents in a manner more suiting a president than prime minister; that is, if George W. Bush is to be considered the exemplar of presidential behaviour. He's made an enemy of the Ottawa press corp., and now refuses to consider anything, or anyone that falls outside his "stay the course" mantra.

The Harper Doctrine

"We cannot walk away quickly. If we need further efforts or further mandate to go ahead into the future, we will go so alone and go to the Canadian people to get that mandate.'' - PM Stephen Harper tells Parliament

Enjoying a mandate slimmer than the debatable 50% plus one granted Bush in 2004, Harper has shown, in the early days of his government (has it been only four months!), a dogged determination to make of Canada a perfect emulation of his philosophical hero, George W. Bush's America. Today in Canada's Parliament, Harper held forth, accusing any who would oppose his pledge, a blank cheque of blood and money, to commit the nation to Bush's disaster in Afghanistan. 

Buoyed following the faux debate on the Afghanistan debacle that brought not a single party's censure, Harper's inherited military muscularity must seem to he and his ruling tyros a bullet-proof shield they can hide all manner of "adjustments" to the country behind, and employ as cudgel to wield against the opposition. In his now revealed secret identity, Stephen 'Hawk' Harper is on the offensive, attacking any who would challenge "The Mission," charging they don't "support the troops." 

NDP leader, Jack Layton reacted to the prime minister's innuendo, saying:

"This Prime Minister has refused to answer these questions and has said in no uncertain terms that if you question the mission you're against our troops. Well, let me be very clear, Canadians will not be lured into this false trap of the prime minister's borrowed sloganeering." 

Layton, who was slow to wade into an Afghanistan debate while the Liberals, the initiators of Canada's calamitous policy there, were in power, has finally found voice, and an easy target in the person of Bush impersonator Harper. But, I doubt Harper's "sloganeering" was borrowed; the kind of spin coming out of Ottawa these days costs.

Stephen has been given a professional make-over by the same idealogical flackery practiced south of the 49th that has served George, Tony, and Howard of Oz so well for so long. One only hopes Harper didn't pay full fare for the over-worn rhetoric and practiced outrage he's currently inflicting upon the country. Or, for that matter, full price for his newly elevated head flack, former corporate lobbyist, Sandra Buckler, whose political imagination seems limited to FOX News reruns of the base propaganda that has sustained the war against Iraq, while denying yet the proven fictions that led to it. 

Ms. Buckler's resume includes service to De Beers Canada, Coca Cola, and Power Corp. She endeared herself further to the aforementioned miffed Ottawa press gang Monday, coyly insinuating the Harper administration would follow the George W. Bush template not only in its treatment of returned dead and wounded soldiers from foreign adventures, but ape too its methods of managing press access, blithely saying:

"[the Tories are] getting to know the press corp, [discovering] what we like, and what we don't like."

For their part, the press is complaining about lack of access to the government, and an insulated PMO, reticent to inform the press, or the people of what they're getting up to.  

The core of the administrations in the United States, Britain, Australia, and now Canada is the refutation of the popular will by those in power. The majority of Canadians polled on the Afghanistan issue have consistently rejected the country's involvement. Turning the democractic paradigm on its head, the few pulling the levers of public policy deny the will of the majority, deny in fact such a majority exists. As George W. Bush would say, (doubtless to be soon echoed by an increasingly embattled Harper)

"I don't do focus groups."

Blair can blunder along, keeping the course charted for him by the certifiable Maggie Thatcher, heedless of the hundreds of thousands marching in the streets as his party bleeds white; while John Howard is free to harumph in antipodal agreement, regardless of his fellow citizens. 

Democracy it seems is meant only for the Iraqi's and Afghans. 

And Stephen's schtick? 

From the House of Commons today, Harper offers this to Parliament:

"Canadians accept risks when those risks are in the service of a greater good, and we honour those who take risks and make the ultimate sacrifice by staying the course and supporting their mission. The events of September 11, 2001 was a wake up call, not just to Americans but to people in all free and democratic nations. Two dozen Canadians were killed as result of the attacks on the twin towers . . . Canada is not safe from such attack and we will never be safe from such attacks as long as we're a society that defends freedom and democracy."

Harper's hypocrisy is as transparent within the House as without. The prime minister continues to insist Canada's involvement in the occupation of Afghanistan is a United Nations supported, and NATO-run mission, though 'Operation Enduring Freedom' is explicitly and solely an American operation. As does his defence minister, Gordon O'Connor, Stephen Harper must believe Canadians too dim to know the truth of the matter; too stupid to recognize his Charlie McCarthy act on the Rideau.

And maybe he's right in that.

The House voted tonight on Harper's "two year extension" to Canada's commitment to the American-led occupation, winning their effort 149-145. With this landslide mandate, Harper promises to reshape the country, one confidence vote at a time, until molded into a tiny replica of his Republican ideal. 

Step One: Ensuring an open-ended, illegal war abroad.


Two: Get Tough on stuff.



Fix the laws; create private prison industry at home. 


With this endorsement, Harper needn't worry for at least another two years about "debating" Afghanistan; it's a done deal. How many Canadians will kill and die in those two years is something he will also fail to debate.

As if marking this dark passage, tonight, as the House sat, another Canadian soldier died in an offensive against "Taliban elements" west of Kandahar.

Capt. Nichola Goddard has now the distinction of being the first Canadian woman in uniform to die in combat since WWII, and the seventeenth Canadian killed in Afghanistan.

Speaking of the fallen woman, Brig. Gen. David Fraser told the cameras, she died:

"Doing a job she liked; she loved." 

Chris Cook is a contributing editor to PEJ News, and hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. You can check out the GR Blog here.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 May 2006 12:58

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