In 1997, Stephen Joseph Harper, our current, at least current to my writing this, Prime Minister; was asked to give a speech on the Canadian political system, to the Council for National Policy, a secretive American lobby group, who were meeting in Montreal. CNP is an influential right-wing organization founded by Tim LaHaye and James Dobson, and in many ways are the military arm of the Religious Right in the United States.
Tim Lahaye is the co-author, along with Jerry B. Jenkins, of an enormously successful series of books, called Left Behind. These books have formed the foundation of Christians United for Israel, a religious group pushing for the annihilation of Muslims in the Middle East, as a step on their road to Armageddon. CUFI's founder John Hagee, calls it "God's Foreign Policy".
Their Canadian head is Charles McVety, a man who has a lot of clout with our current government and enjoys not only ready access to people like Jason Kenney (Immigration), Stockwell Day (Treasury) and Jim Flaherty (Finance), but also Stephen Harper himself.
James Dobson is the founder of Focus on the Family, an anti-abortion, anti-gay rights, anti-public school, organization; that includes several of Harper's MPs; like Maurice Vellacott, Rob Anders, and Brad Trost. The Canadian founder of Focus on the Family, Darrel Reid, is now Harper's deputy chief of staff.
Dobson assisted in Harper's political success by running a series of radio ads in Canadian cities against same-sex marriage; an issue that Harper then adopted as part of his reaching out to the social conservatives.
When that 1997 speech first surfaced during the 2005-2006 federal election, it raised a lot of red flags, once again adding fuel to the fear of Stephen Harper's "Hidden Agenda".
Many quotes were pulled from it, and the Liberal campaign included bits and pieces. It is believed that it actually cost the Reform-Conservatives a majority government.
But I've read that speech several times, and what I get from it is arrogance. An arrogance that implies that we are all wrong, but we're too ignorant to even know that we are all wrong. That only he can see the error of our ways.
Now, having given you a compliment, let me also give you an insult. I was asked to speak about Canadian politics. It may not be true, but it's legendary that if you're like all Americans, you know almost nothing except for your own country. Which makes you probably knowledgeable about one more country than most Canadians.
What was the point of that remark? He's speaking to Americans, about Canadians.
First, facts about Canada. Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it. Canadians make no connection between the fact that they are a Northern European welfare state and the fact that we have very low economic growth, a standard of living substantially lower than yours, a massive brain drain of young professionals to your country, and double the unemployment rate of the United States.
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. (1)
It's almost like an attack ad. Very much the way he acts in Parliament now against his political opponents, only in this case, it was against the Canadian people.
It wasn't a clever speech. There were no great pearls of wisdom. It was flip and if he was actually trying to educate this group on Canadian politics, it would have only created confusion. He talks about 'Whigs' without explaining who they were. States that most Catholics vote Liberal for 'reasons he didn't want to get into.' Why bring it up at all if he wasn't going to qualify it?
We do get a glimpse into his ideology when he refers to women's rights as 'feminist' rights, and "... including some that would just horrify you, putting universal Medicare in our constitution.." What is so horrifying about universal Medicare?
If I were in the audience, I definitely would never have got the impression that this was a man with political aspirations. If he wrote that speech it was grade eight at best.
"...and a whole bunch of fairly non-conservative economic things."
" ... and a whole bunch of other things"
But I think that it helps to define this movement. It has always been about protest and arrogance and ignorance. They adhere to the Old Testament and have a view of Canada as being in moral decay. They want to return to the "good old days" when women knew their place and there was prayer in school, and a sea of white faces.
In it's seventy-five year history, there have only ever really been five leaders: William Aberhart, Ernest Manning, his son Preston Manning, Stockwell Day and Stephen Harper, and their political views have not progressed but stagnated.
Their arrogance is born of ignorance. And rather than try to raise the level of debate, they want to bring it down to their level. Experts in their field are "elites", well-educated are reduced to "university types", advocates are "fringe-groups".
There is no desire to move Canada forward only dismantle it and strip it down. Isolate us from our former allies with high-handed foreign policy, and a refusal to co-operate. Base our laws on the Bible and our future on Biblical prophesy.
They have made Canadian politics so toxic that our very democracy is at risk. Secrecy is the order of the day and their media control is alarming.
This is a movement that was founded on anti-Semitism, nurtured on racism, and fueled by extremism. And every time a party they create is exposed, they simply re-invent themselves, but using the same old worn out parts. Social Credit - Reform - Alliance - Conservative. The only thing that really changes is the name.
And what will their legacy be? Will we even recognize this country when they're through? Can their damage be repaired?
People who once lived on the fringe, are now in control and they have aligned themselves with the most extreme elements, here and in the United States. It's frightening really, but it shows what happens when you don't pay attention.
Hopefully, you'll pay attention now.
Chapter One: Bold Moves
1. Full text of Stephen Harper's 1997 speech, Canadian Press, December 14, 2005