Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Harper

26
Apr
09

Canada’s Failure in Afghanistan and its War at Home

See:

NATO and Afghanistan’s Shia Marriage Law: The Collapse of a Master Narrative

04
Jan
09

Canada, Beacon of Democracy, Enlightenment, and Justice: In Canada, Western Civilization Has a Hope

Yes, the title is not meant to be taken at face value. Yet the article below does carry a lot of punch that is well deserved, and well aimed.

•••••••

Canada’s tarnished international image

By Kate Harries
Indian Country Today Story Published: Dec 31, 2008

TORONTO – Canada was once viewed as a beacon of enlightenment on the world stage – a leader in the field of human rights and peacekeeping.

That’s an image that has become severely tarnished since a Conservative government was elected two years ago.

Its rejection of indigenous rights, its spoiler role at global warming talks, its failure to investigate the killing or disappearance of hundreds of aboriginal women, its indifference to the plight of a small Cree nation whose unceded territory is overrun by gas and oil development – these are all issues that point to a sea-change in the way Canada conducts its affairs.

“It’s sometimes surprising. … to realize how bad Canada is playing at these international talks,” said Ben Powless, a Mohawk from Six Nations in Ontario who attended the recent UN climate conference in Poznan, Poland as an Indigenous Environmental Network youth representative

“A number of our youth reps met with the Canadian officials, and left in tears, after hearing them joke about the negotiations and showing how lightly they took them,” he said in an interview last month from Europe.

The Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper does get credit for one historic initiative: the June 11 apology to survivors of the residential school system

“It was an apology heard around the world,” said National Chief Phil Fontaine of the Assembly of First Nations, for whom the current economic crisis is an opportunity to translate the words of the apology into action by addressing the appalling poverty of indigenous people in Canada.

“We hope the government will look to our First Nations communities as the appropriate starting point for any stimulus package,” Fontaine said in an interview.

Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl told a recent chiefs’ assembly that he had heard their call. But, he warned, “We must remember to be pragmatic in our approach and realistic in our goals.”

“There are great examples out there of First Nations who have not waited for the wheels of government to turn,” he added, pointing to Membertou First Nation in Nova Scotia and Whitecap Dakota First Nation in Saskatchewan as examples of entrepreneurial success.

First Nations leaders told him they face an impossible task in meeting the needs of the fastest growing segment of the Canadian population with a two percent cap on federal spending increases, imposed 12 years ago.

Strahl also came under fire for Canada’s role in leading the fight to delete references to indigenous rights from the text of an agreement on Reduced Emissions from Deforestation in Developing countries (REDD).

“The best way of protecting our environment is to ensure that the rights of our people on the land are recognized and are respected,” Fontaine said, adding that Canada’s refusal to honor the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is “a black mark on this country’s international reputation.”

Strahl reiterated the Harper government’s position that recognition of indigenous rights contradicts existing Canadian laws and treaties.

The REDD initiative is seen by indigenous groups as a bid by developed nations to commodify forests in the developing world and provide a pretext for forcing indigenous peoples off their lands.

“We tried to get indigenous rights put centrally in (the) initiative,” Powless said, “but there was strong opposition from a number of countries, like Canada and the U.S., who claimed they didn’t recognize collective rights.

“Canadian officials claimed indigenous rights had nothing to do with climate change, which makes them either very stupid, disgraceful liars, or both.”

Indigenous people, who have done nothing to contribute to climate change, will pay the price, he noted. “Entire ecosystems are threatened, along with the people who depend upon them, from the Arctic to the Amazon.”

In other matters, a UN committee on the elimination of discrimination against women has called upon Canada to urgently carry out a thorough investigation of missing or murdered aboriginal women. (Over 500 cases in two decades have been documented, with many more likely to have gone unrecorded because of faulty data.)

Canada should determine “whether there is a racialized pattern to the disappearances and take measures to address the problem if that is the case,” the committee report said.

Gladys Radek helped organize the cross-Canada Walk4Justice on the issue this summer. She said she’s optimistic there will be an inquiry. “We have a whole nation of support.”

Sadly, disappearances continue. Maisy Odjick, 16, and her friend Shannon Alexander, 17, vanished without a trace Sept. 5 from Kitigan Zimi Anishinabeg First Nation in Quebec. Police Chief Gordon McGregor said there are no clues to whether they left of their own volition or if there has been foul play.

Meanwhile, Alberta’s authority to “legitimately approve the construction of a pipeline across Lubicon territory without Lubicon consent” was questioned in a letter to Canadian Ambassador Marius Grinius. Fatimata-Binta Victoire Dah, chair of the UN committee to end racial discrimination, gave Canada a Dec. 31 deadline to respond.

TransCanada Pipelines states that it is abiding by the law in obtaining Alberta approval for the North Central Corridor project. Work began Oct. 15, over the opposition of the 500-member Lubicon Lake Indian Nation. It was left out of Treaty 8 negotiations in 1899 and has been trying to negotiate a deal with Canada for decades.

Lubicon Councillor Dwight Gladhue said TransCanada is building a 600-person camp in an environmentally sensitive hunting area the Lubicon asked them to stay away from.

Sixty organizations signed an open letter Nov. 18 calling for justice for the Lubicon, citing more than two decades of UN decisions regarding the abuse of their human rights and urging Canada to deal with the nation, or suspend the development which is compromising their land until a settlement is reached. There have been no negotiations since 2003.

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21
Dec
08

Firing Shoes at the Faces of Empire: From Baghdad to Montreal

A written commentary will follow in the next post, but for now, two videos that I made pertaining to Saturday’s rally in Montreal (see the announcement on this blog), organized by Block the Empire, in solidarity with imprisoned Iraqi journalist, Muntadar al-Zeidi (yes, the famous shoe thrower). On Saturday, we were all shoe throwers.

First, a video summary of the protests and march through Montreal:

SHOES AGAINST BUSH and HARPER, MONTREAL RALLY, DEC. 20, 2008

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “SHOES AGAINST BUSH and HARPER, MONTRE…“, posted with vodpod

if that does not work for any reason, here it is again…

Second, a remixed compilation, with guest appearances by George W. Bush, produce for some added “context”:

A GLOBAL SHOE FLY ZONE: SHOES AT BUSH, FROM IRAQ TO QUEBEC

Also, see the great photos of the event taken by Anirudh Koul, on his flickr page.

07
Dec
08

Video Audit of Canada’s New Authoritarianism

More videos today charting the course towards the breakdown of parliamentary democracy in Canada, and some of the lies that were officially used to cover for the rise in authoritarian rule.

Nationalist hysteria creates its own “vision”

Prime Minister Harper is a “liar,” pure and simple: Ed Broadbent, former NDP leader, on CBC Newsworld

(thanks again to bastard.logic for advertising this video)

Institutionalizing hypocrisy, hoping we all forget the last “truth” that was replaced by the new “truth”:

(thanks again to The Canadianist for directing attention to this)

Harper’s truths last for as long as they serve his power

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06
Dec
08

Führer of the True North: Stephen Harper, Canada’s Pathological Prime Minister

Is Stephen Harper just like former U.S. President Richard M. Nixon? This is William Neville’s suggestion in The Winnipeg Free Press (“Harper finally gets his comeuppance,” Dec. 5, 2008), and thanks to bastard.logic for pointing me to that piece, where Neville writes:

Like Richard Nixon, Harper seems obsessed not merely with defeating his opponents, but with destroying them. The fact that he could not restrain himself, even in a minority position, bespeaks a kind of sickness better explained by pathology than politics. It is poetic justice that after Harper’s repeatedly goading, taunting and humiliating his opponents, they finally sucked up their guts and kicked him in the privates.

It is the pathological bent, the aim of destroying opposition and brooking no dissent within the ranks, that reminds some of an even more infamous politician. Thanks to Darkly Dreaming David, where I first found the video below from harperdictatorship.ca, later finding it as well on Scintillator, while University Life correctly points out that many commentaries from Canadian citizens clearly indicate their serious lack of knowledge of what is constitutional and democratic in a parliamentary democracy (many wrongly believe that Canadians elect their Prime Minister, or that coalitions are not legal). Thanks to The Canadianist I also retrieved a copy of a speech given by Stephen Harper when he was part of the far right wing “National Citizens’ Coalition” (more below). The Canadian Patriots League, with greater interests in mind than their wallets, advances an urgent call for remaking Canadian politics so that democracy is advanced, and such adventures into open dictatorship are curtailed.

Far fetched? The following quotes are from government insiders, friends, and acquaintances of Harper, as found in today’s The Toronto Star: “PM partisan, passionate and profane,” by Robert Benzie, Dec. 6, 2008:

“There’s always been this concern that Harper believes he’s the smartest guy in the room and that, no matter what, he’s never wrong,” confides the Harper acquaintance….

…”there’s no question the Prime Minister rules by fear,” which is not always productive.

“At some point, you know, you get up every day and you get kicked in the balls and, you know what, you get tired of it. So when people stop fighting back, I’m telling you, that’s a most dangerous, dangerous, dangerous day,” he says….

…”Why let a good crisis go to waste when you can use it to hobble your opposition?” says a party insider….

Sources say Harper was visibly shaken earlier in the week, angrily flouncing around his Langevin Block office, eyes reddened and battling a bad cold exacerbated by a lack of sleep….

He has displayed that almost adolescent blend of petulance and stubbornness before in his political life.

During the 2004 election campaign, the Conservative war room issued a news release suggesting then Liberal prime minister Paul Martin “supports child pornography.”

Instead of immediately retracting and apologizing for the over-the-top attack, Harper stuck to his guns.

The controversy contributed to his defeat and Harper descended into a summer-long “funk,” sulking about the outcome even though he had propelled the fledgling united Conservatives to the brink of government by reducing an 11-year Liberal majority to a minority.

…”he’s also pathologically partisan. So he just can’t help himself. It’s a deadly combination. You know that you’re a smart guy and you’re pretty sure you can outsmart everybody and you never miss an opportunity to poke an opponent in the eye,” says an insider….

…”He cannot abide by the Liberals. He finds them indecisive, he finds them pandering, he wants to destroy them. He can’t help himself – he just can’t help himself.”….

He is a yeller and certainly longshoremen could take language lessons from him. The backrooms are blue but it’s not cigar smoke; it’s four-letter words,” says a Tory.

In light of these revelations, none of which are surprising, then the seemingly playful analogies shown in the video above begin to look a little less playful, and a little more reflective of a deeper truth.

In terms of more insight into Harper’s ideology, let’s look at some quotes from the text from a speech made by Stephen Harper, then vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition, to a June 1997 Montreal meeting of the Council for National Policy, a right-wing U.S. think tank, and taken from the council’s website:

your country [the U.S.], and particularly your conservative movement, is a light and an inspiration to people in this country and across the world….

…Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term….

In terms 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….

…our executive is the Queen, who doesn’t live here. Her representative is the Governor General, who is an appointed buddy of the Prime Minister….

…the Senate, our upper house, is appointed, also by the Prime Minister, where he puts buddies, fundraisers and the like….

…the NDP [New Democratic Party] is kind of proof that the Devil lives and interferes in the affairs of men….

While Harper said he made some of the comments in jest, the context of the remarks, and his audience, suggests that his jesting is very thin and the ideology behind them is grimly serious.

Canadians love humour, and many of the interventions above have humorous elements to them. I hope that we do not distract ourselves so much with our own comedy-making talents that we lose sight of the kind of regime we are now living under.

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06
Dec
08

Welcome to “Zimbabwe North” and the “Pro-Rogue” State: Stalling Regime Change

What is the name of this country… (first, try answering without clicking on the links)…

Did someone say “a country in Africa”, like Zimbabwe for example? A country in the Caribbean? A country in Asia? How about Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, who has won numerous popular elections, this story can’t be about him, can it? Are these not the usual suspects when the Western mass media speak of anti-democratic regimes, so different from anything in the West?

No, instead, it cannot be a story about Venezuela. No, the name of the country is not Zimbabwe, but rather one I am code naming “Zimbabwe North,” also known as CANADA.

As I have “joked” with friends, I live(d) in a parliamentary democracy — only without parliament, and, without democracy for that matter. Canada, in the minds of some of its deluded citizens, is “beacon to the rest of the world” when it comes to democracy. Some of its other deluded citizens believe that, no matter what, our politics are superior to those of the United States. I believe that one of the benefits of this long brewing crisis is that some of this conceit has finally been trashed.

For those with an anarchist perspective on these events, they are all good. The state is faltering. The centre is falling apart. Those with most to benefit from the dominant way of doing politics are at each other’s throats. Institutions are losing legitimacy, and a federalist empire is renewing its internal fractures. Megalomania, deceit, and corruption, previously existing only as allegations, now reach the light of day as truths. This is wonderful. Indeed, I am not sad.

However, this is also a moment that people at the grass roots can seize and try to make a difference, to make their presence felt in public politics.

I am therefore recommending that Canadian readers visit the Coalition for Change website, and make plans to attend local rallies. See also SmartVote2008.ca. In addition, I warmly recommend one of Canada’s very few answers to the U.S.’ “Democracy Now!” and that is the rabble.ca website.

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