Stephen Harper heads to the Arctic

Canada looks at its northern communities for a few days

by Nick Taylor-Vaisey

Sean Kilpatrick/CP

Every summer, for a few days, Prime Minister Stephen Harper spends a few days in Canada’s northern territories (and the Arctic tip of Quebec, too). The prime minister’s annual trip, now in its seventh year, is a tradition. He tends to score a photo op where he looks super cool—riding an all-terrain vehicle, or wearing a cool pair of shades, or sitting in a fighter jet—and, after checking in with assembled dignitaries, military folks and crowds of supporters, waxes optimistic about why the north is so integral to Canada’s future as a prosperous nation. Indeed, Goin’ Up North Week is an annual reminder to all us southern folks that the north still exists.

Harper’s sojourn, this time around, is turning into something notable. The Toronto Star‘s Tonda MacCharles and Postmedia’s Michael Den Tandt both reveal just how little this trip is dressed up in overt patriotism and talk of Arctic sovereignty and the “true north, strong and free.” This year, economic development is the name of the game. MacCharles recalls that plans for a deep-sea Arctic port, powerful icebreakers and a military training centre have all been delayed or massaged into less ambitious projects. That leaves the jobs and skills themes, which the government already rhymes off in every other Canadian region without blinking.

Harper’s goal, argues Den Tandt, is to push skills training in the north, exploit the natural resources that can create jobs and prosperity, and “argue that his model of economic development can work—not just for the country as a whole, but for its most disadvantaged citizens.” All of which is a fair play for votes, but it assumes that, after Goin’ Up North Week wraps up for another year, any voters outside of Whitehorse or Yellowknife or Iqaluit actually watch what’s happening to those disadvantaged citizens in those potential-filled northern communities. Outside of the prime minister’s annual trip, few people look in that direction.


What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s focus on jobs for northerners as he launches his annual summer trip to Canada’s north. The National Post (online) fronts Harper’s search for a legacy in Canada’s north. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with continued standoffs between the Egyptian government and pro-Morsi supporters. The Ottawa Citizen leads with Canada’s tenuous participation in a computer programming facility for the F-35 fighter jet, which the country’s air force may not purchase. iPolitics fronts a Senate committee’s pending report on safe transport of hydrocarbons in Canada. CBC.ca leads with Harper’s attack on opposition parties at a Yukon stop on his northern tour. CTV News leads with former South African track star Oscar Pistorius’ indictment for murder. National Newswatch showcases a Hill Times story about Prime Minister’s Office chief of staff Ray Novak, who’s apparently attempting to repair frayed relations with the Conservative caucus.


Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Seniors. Most Canadians want a national plan for seniors care, including a plan to keep older Canadians in their own homes as long as possible, says an Ipsos Reid survey. 2. Justice. Canada’s correctional ombudsman recommends that Omar Khadr, the former Guantanamo Bay detainee, should be held at a facility with a lower security level.
3. Rapist. Selva Kumar Subbiah, a serial rapist who was serving time at a maximum-security facility in Kingston, Ont., was transferred to a lower level prison—for reasons that are unclear. 4. Target. A survey of consumers suggests that retailer Target, which entered the Canadian market in March, has fallen behind Wal-Mart and Costco thanks to lack of inventory and high prices.
5. Egypt. Two Canadians, an ER doctor and a York University professor, were apparently arrested in Egypt without cause. They were on the way to a hospital in the Gaza Strip. 6. Kashmir. An eight-year-old attempt at promoting trade between Pakistanis and Indians across disputed Kashmir lands has stalled amid concerns that the area will again be militarized.




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Stephen Harper heads to the Arctic

  1. His 8th trip there. No accomplishments. Lotsa photos.

    • Many skippings out of the House; No accomplishments. Lotsa, lotsa money to stuff in private pockets:

      October 20, 2008 – London Health Sciences Centre. $10,000

      November 5, 2008 – Marketing Magazine – Rogers Media. $20,000

      2009

      January 31, 2009 – Ontario Library Association. $10,000

      November 2, 2009 – The Learning Partnership. $10,000

      November 6, 2009 – Waterloo Catholic District School Board. $15,000

      2010

      March 5, 2010 – Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union. $20,000

      April 23, 2010 – Charity of Hope. $15,000

      May 7, 2010 – Algonquin & Lakeshore Catholic District School Board. $15,000

      September 23, 2010 – REED Construction Data. $20,000

      December 6, 2010 – Certified Management Accountants of Ontario . $20,000

      2011

      January 25, 2011 – Rain 43 (Canada’s National Advertising Week), Toronto, ON. $20,000

      June 9, 2011 – Kincardine District Secondary School, Kincardine, ON. $10,000

      June 15, 2011 – Credit Institute of Canada, Ottawa, ON. $20,000

      2012

      April 25, 2012 – Queen’s University, Kingston, ON. $12,000

      April 30, 2012 – Literacy for Life, Saskatoon, SK. $20,000

      June 26, 2012 – Canadian Mental Health Association – Halton Region, Burlington, ON. $20,000

      June 27, 2012 – Grace Foundation, Saint John, NB. $20,000

    • and now he (harper) is hoodwinking the taxpayers and the media, because where no longer talking about the senate scandal. we are now starting to talk about prorogation. its called throwing the taxpayers and the media off the scent of scandal. wake up people !

      • So you don’t care about the North?

        The media has been so busy trying to find one excuse or another to cover up for Justin’s double dipping practices, that they are too tired now to write some real professional pieces. All that energy spent on trying to find excuses for Justin and so many Canadians love it!

        • you know francien verhoeven, every time harper makes some big announcement that’s going to stick in taxpayers craw, is when he is thousands of miles from Ottawa. if harper had it his way, he would’ve made the announcements in Greenland, just to stay away from the media and the senate scandal in Ottawa. not sure what you really ment by your last post FV. bother way, could you be drinking the Kool Aid or reading too much sun news ?

          • Sounds to me that you are the one not following the news much. Most media pundits (including those working for the NP) have tried tirelessly to tie themselves into a knot, figuring out what best excuse to not give Justin the verdict of double dipping.

            Oh, well, they will say – giving public speeches was his job before becoming an MP.

            But Harper was president of the NCC before being elected an MP. Would it have been acceptable if Harper had kept his job as president of the NCC when he became an elected and paid MP?

            Oh, well, the pundits will argue: it doesn’t matter what Harper did or did not do in THIS case. They will say that so many other MP’s have second jobs, which is not true at all but it is true that many MP’s have extra INCOME besides getting an MP salary. But those extra incomes are not coming out of doing the same job as what an average MP does, namely giving speeches.

            Only Justin managed to split his speaking duties right down the middle: sometimes he delivered a speech as being an MP (for no extra cash) and sometimes he delivered a speech as being a private citizen, for getting extra cash, of course, while still getting his regular MP salary like all other MP’s who deliver all of their speeches for free.

            You want more excuses used by pundits? Read them and you will find it. Not difficult.

        • I live in the north and do not believe one word out of Harpers mouth when he comes up here and speaks to his own supporters behind closed doors and releases a photo.

  2. 1986 called. They want their Conservative leader promising an icebreaker back.

    • Lots of people want their money back:

      “The fundraising event we hired you as a speaker for was a huge disappointment and financial loss for our organization,” Susan Buck, a board member for the charity, wrote in a March 6, 2013, letter to Mr. Trudeau, a copy of which was obtained by The Globe and Mail after the story was first revealed by the Fredericton Daily Gleaner .

      • Didn’t turn out that was just the CPC turning the screws on the board of a charity to try to make it do harper’s dirty work?

        Because that was the slimiest part of the whole mess, and the CPC should be ashamed.

        • Ah, another excuse maker for Justin.

          See, that’s how we enable politicians to get paid by taxdollars twice for doing the same job once!

          Can you blame the politician for trying if some Canadians actually don’t mind when Justin double dips?

  3. I’d like to see the Prime Minister in a photo-op with one a of the local residents in the Arctic. A hungry polar bear.

  4. every trip the expectations decrease so do the promises and the results. Other than the usual attacks on everyone else, claiming horrifying results unless we continue to support the hide and lie Tories instead of voting for other parties who are open and above board, it is just a photo op

    • Better to go with double dipper Justin. A total of $277,000 in extra fees is not too shabby.

      I wonder if Justin, the double dipper, understands that schools and libraries are mostly funded by tax dollars. Perhaps he was confused. Or perhaps he was not so confused: he may have known all along that a lot of Canadians won’t mind if he double dipped! He was right. By golly, he was right: A lot of Canadians don’t care that Justin double dipped!

  5. Well, thank goodness for that. Now maybe we can finally have some decent gover… wait.. he’s coming back?

    Oh.

    Well, never mind then.

  6. Harper had done nothing for this Country….. well, except that whole avoidance of complete global economic collapse thing. Imagine the mess we would be in if the NDP or Liberals had been running this ship for the last 5 years – Greece would look like a fortune 500. When all that the opposition has to complain about is some mis used expense accounts that cost about 1/10000000th of the countries GDP then people need to take a serious look at where Canada is in comparison to 99 percent of the other countries in the world.

    • The Libs left Harper a massive surplus…..which he promptly blew.

      And he was left a solid banking system…..which he tried to change

      Then he cut the GST and gave us the largest deficit in our history….and it’s structural as well

      Canada isn’t doing as well as a lot of countries in the world….you need to get out more….or at least read financial news.

      • Justin should never have ended his private speaking tour gig. If he would have kept up his double dipping he could have earned enough to pay off all that which Harper has spent!

        • That is pretty stupid, even for you.

    • “Imagine the mess we would be in if the NDP or Liberals had been running this ship for the last 5 years”

      You mean the Liberal Party that brought the budget from deficit into surplus for the first time in decades? Sure would love to be back in that “mess.”

    • But Justin, well, Justin has done soooooo much!

      “On April 20, 2012, for example, Trudeau earned
      $20,000 for a speech he gave to Literacy for Life in Saskatoon. In the House of Commons, other MPs were debating and voting on a pension reform initiative.”

      “On Jan. 31, 2009, MPs debated and voted on changes to employment insurance benefits. There is no record Trudeau voted on that initiative or participated in the day’s proceedings. But he did give a speech that day to the Toronto-based group, The Learning Partnership, for which he was paid $10,000″

  7. You can keep him, no one down here wants him back,… I’m sure he’ll make a fine Inukshuk.

    • “We want Justin! We want Justin!”

      “When Justin is PM he wants ALL MP’s to skip the House to go and deliver speeches for a fee, cause schools and universities and libraries and charitable organizations have sooooo much money that supplementing an MP’s salary is the right thing to do!”

  8. He’s coming to my northern town ( today I believe) and as far as i know its the Usual bs- no unscripted sit downs with real people, excessive security ( they wouldn’t let anyone into the local arena in order to look for I don’t know what – terrorists in the locker rooms). Apparently the only event they’ll hold is a CPC fundraiser at the golf club. He’s been accused of this before in the north – using the trips almost exclusively for partisan party purposes. Guess the only way i’ll get to ask him a question is if I join and cough up for the cause, or dig out a megaphone, which would probably get me carted away. This has to be about the least approachable PM we’ve ever produced, notwithstanding heightened terrorist risks. Hell, last year we had the GG here without half the security fuss, completely approachable and got to carry rifles around him without too much fuss, even if they were just 22s.

    • Part of his constant campaigning….disguised as a visit to the Arctic. He knows it will get his speech some attention because of the setting.

      Although mind you when he talks about what he calls ‘dangerous ideas’…..the remark certainly should get attention.

      A PM who calls ideas dangerous…is a dangerous PM

      • Hey every man has his price… now I could use one of those.

        Seriously! What an utterly stupid waste of half a million bucks. Stealthy for what reason for gods sake! Once you’re outside a community there’s no one but the bloody caribou to hear you.

        • I’ve been in Norman Wells, and Fort Norman and flying over the terrain I realized why inukshuks were needed as it was all flat land and looked the same. You could SEE somebody coming for miles, so ‘stealth’ would be pointless.

          Is it like that where you live?

          • No, we’re on the lake and a bit swampy, lots of bush. But as you point out someone can see you coming for 3 days in much of the Arctic. Stealth! It’s a joke! Besides which anything that’s battery dependent up here is doubly stupid. Surely it’s the job of a responsible govt to nix dumb ideas like this one?

          • Ahhhh. Okay.

            I dunno …’stealth snowmobiles’ sound like the punchline of a joke to me

            Hey aren’t the F-35s single engine….for the Arctic??

            You’d think the govt could nix dumb ideas, but for all we know it was Harp’s idea in the first place. He likes snowmobiles after all….and he said he was the one who makes the rules.

          • Need I remind you of the F 35 purchase? :-)

          • Please don’t.

          • While standing on the ground, the best you can do ANYWHERE on the Earth is 3 miles!

          • Heh…like on the prairies where you can see your dog run away for miles eh?

          • Yes, 3 MILES!

          • That’s the distance of the earth’s curvature, not human eyesight.

        • I thought the caribou had disappeared in the Canadian North. Good to hear that the caribou are still alive and well, then. Good news indeed.

          • Yeah, I go out and count them everyday if I have time.

          • That’s good news. We had caribou shipped over from Alaska and kept a herd of a hundred right on our land next to our house. Was a pleasure to see them daily, specially at calving time, when all the pure black critters on four wobbly legs would hop around in the green pasture. A beautiful sight to behold, for sure.

    • Has Justin delivered a speech at your community? How much did your community pay Justin? $20,000 he charged to the Canadian Mental Health Association. Just saying.

      Come on, tell us, how much did he charge your town and was it worth it?

      • Pretty close. JT came to Fort Smith for a water quality conference, you know something we also care about as well as jobs. Don’t think he charged anyone and wouldn’t surprise me if he didn’t couch surf with friends there.

        • So what made Justin decide to not charge for giving a speech there? Was he suddenly deciding that THERE he should be appearing as an MP?

          How exactly did Justin decide when to speak as an MP and when to speak as a private citizen while still drawing his MP salary?

          Would it be difficult to make the distinction? I wish Justin would explain that to us.

        • Oh, and thank you for reading and responding to my post.

    • Schools have lots of money. Libraries have lots of money. Justin just took a small bite out of their budgets. Justin has a family to feed and an MP salary is just not enough these days for men like Justin. Justin needs more tax payer’s money to line his pockets with.

      And the clock keeps ticking.

      • Francien Verhoeven is a paid con bot

        • Even worse, she does it for free.

          • Thank you for being honest about me. I appreciate it.

        • So what about them schools and libraries and charitable foundations? You think they have enough cash on hand to pay ALL MP’s (if they so wished) for speaking to them while being paid an MP salary to boot?

          What do you think about Justin instead of using all of your energy worrying about me?

          • I’m voting for Justin in 2015.

  9. Dear Macleans, you really ought to invest in an FV spam filter. Sigh… there’s always the scroll feature.

    • You don’t have to read anything I post. I’m sure the Macleans staff understands that much. I doubt if they read any of it. But if they do, well, that’s their choice, eh!

  10. Russian shipping through the north is going full blast aided by 2 dozen ice breakers and a string of up-to- date search and rescue centers. Ports have been upgraded and the route has been mapped and agreements with countries like Norway have been made. Harper ran through all our money and didn’t accomplish anything.

    • Not true. The Canadian government deputized a number of Innuit hunters a few years ago that the Conservatives still provide funding for. Their official titles are Arctic Rangers, have been supplied with some snowmobiles and rifles, and been instructing the Canadian military on survival training. We can all sleep better knowing that a contingent of thirty or so Eskimo’s are on call 24/7 to protect us from an armed invasion. Those no good Russkies wouldn’t stand a snowballs chance in hell of ever setting a foot on sovereign Canadian soil in the Great White North.

      • I know you’re being facetious, but im pretty sure the largely Innuit Arctic Rangers long pre dated Harper’s boys.

      • But at least the Eskimos are happy. Being a PM is not easy. Many people demand whatever and something needs to be delivered, eh. Isn’t that how voters want their politicians to act?

    • And what did Justin accomplish when he charged charitable foundations, schools and libraries some hefty fees while being on an MP salary?

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