How he sees Canada’s role in the world and where he wants to take the country -

How he sees Canada’s role in the world and where he wants to take the country

Prime minister Stephen Harper in conversation with Kenneth Whyte

How he sees Canada’s role in the world and where he wants to take the country

Photographs by Blair Gable

Q: Let’s start with election night. Was it fun?

A: It’s always fun when you win.

Q: Did you take a moment to enjoy it?

A: Yeah. Look, as I think you know, we were pretty confident we were going to win, frankly, from the outset—the question was the margin—and we were feeling pretty good in the days leading up to it. I suppose, yeah, it was exciting that night. But you’re also coming off the end of a long, gruelling campaign, so there’s also a sense of relief and a sense of exhaustion all wrapped up together.

Q: If you’re not going to stop and enjoy that one, what are you going to stop for?

A: I did enjoy it. We have to enjoy things. These guys—my staff—probably enjoyed it more than I did. I’m always thinking. The next task is almost immediately on my mind.

Q: I saw you give an interview after the election in which you alluded to the next task: you want to establish the Conservatives as the natural governing party of Canada. What does that entail?

A: What I want to do, of course, is really entrench, over time, a Conservative-majority coalition in the country. I probably—the more I’ve thought about it—I should probably stay away from the natural governing party terminology, because I think as soon as a party believes it’s the natural governing party it’s in a great deal of trouble. Since coming to office, we’ve grown steadily. We’ve grown from our base out. We haven’t tried to re-engineer the Conservative movement, we’ve built on it by bringing more people into it. We still have more work to do to be as representative of people as we’d like to be, but all the elements are there in terms of the coalition. I think, obviously, it has to be backed up with an agenda, and the agenda has to be successfully implemented, and the country has to buy into it and be happy with the results. So that’s the big thing we have to do, but I think in the end—given the outcomes of the election—we’re greatly helped not just by our own result but by the relative incoherence of the opposition as an alternative for government.

Q: This is a fundamentally different mission from when you started off in politics. The Reform Party, by virtue of its name, was about changing the political landscape, changing the political structure in Canada. When you’re trying to become the natural governing party you want to be where Canadians are, you have to be where Canadians are, so it’s more about managing a consensus than being a catalyst for change.

A: Well, first of all I think you have to remember, I began my serious political involvement in the Progressive Conservative Party way back, so my involvement has always been about conservatism. I began in the traditional Conservative Party and then became involved in the Reform Party, and—I think as you know probably better than anyone—my involvement in the Reform Party was really to re-invigorate conservative principles in Canadian politics. And I think with the eventual merger of the Reform Alliance and Progressive Conservatives, we’ve achieved an organization that embodies conservative principles but is also pragmatic and trying to reach a sufficient number of Canadians to form a government. But it’s also about, in the success of advancing conservative principles, of moving the country toward the values that you represent and that you demonstrate through the policies and the programs you deliver. And I think that both those things are happening. I also think the party and the government have been moving the country toward conservative principles. I think there’s an increasing number of people who vote for us not just because they think we’re the best choice but because they actually believe we [have] the values that are closest to their long-term values. And we’re starting to see in our own polling that at the federal level more people identify themselves as Conservatives and as voting Conservatives than any other party, and that is a huge change, and that never happened even during previous Conservative governments. So I’m optimistic that we’re moving in the right direction, but we have a lot of challenges.

Q: You’ve been running for something for nine years now, and you have had no real job security, you haven’t known from year to year where you’re going to be.

A: Yeah, in nine years I’ve run four national election campaigns, two leadership campaigns, a party referendum merger, and a couple of other convention processes. And of course by-elections. You know, I’ve been elected five times in my riding in nine years. I’ve been literally running non-stop.

Q: In addition to that, you’ve had all the false alarms about elections.

A: Yeah, every three months. Look, it’s been exhausting. I wouldn’t say as much for me as for my senior staff and for, frankly, senior public servants. Every three months we’ve had the plan for the government and every three months we’ve had the plan for the election. The great irony is that only once did I threaten an election, then I actually called it—that was in 2008—but every single three months in between we’ve had a threat of an election, and we’ve always taken it seriously. One of the reasons we won is in spite of the fact the other guys made the threats, we were always the best prepared. But yeah, it’s been two tracks, and it’s been exhausting to everyone involved in it. So it’s very different now planning for a four-year period.

Q: Over that nine years you develop habits of mind. I would imagine that you’re making short-term calculations all the time about how this is going to play, how that’s going to play. You try and look long-term but you have to be constantly aware that you may be going to the polls soon. Now that you’re in this longer-term mandate, how do you stop thinking that way?

A: Well, I’m not sure you completely do. There are some good disciplines this teaches you. Even when we were thinking short-term, you don’t ignore what could be the long-term or mid-term consequences of your actions. I would always point that out to staff: something may be great today, you know—we got a great headline today—and six months later everybody goes, “What were you thinking?” You’ve got a big problem, especially in a minority context. So it does heighten your political instincts, but I think that’s good. The party has to—and the government has to—move the country with it. Now, does that mean the country has to agree with you on every single issue? No, but even in a minority I never took the view that the opposition parties or even the country at large had to agree with every single thing we were doing, but they had to agree with the direction we were taking and that will remain the case. It’s just that we’re less under the gun from day to day.

Q: At the Conservative convention on June 10, you made quite a remarkable speech. The first thing I noticed was how much time you spent thanking people who worked in the parties, and thanking your MPs, your ministers, your staff, in great detail and with great specificity. And having watched you deliver speeches over more than 20 years now, I don’t think I ever recall an occasion where you went so far out of your way to express personal gratitude. Was that deliberate?

A: Well, I’m not sure it is that different. I think I’ve done similar things, maybe not at quite the same length, but on similar occasions. The party convention is unique in that you have, literally in one room, almost every single person who is responsible for whatever success the organization has had, and they also happen to be in the room at the moment where the organization has its greatest success, and so that’s obviously the appropriate thing to do. I’m the first to say, you look over the past nine, 10 years, we’re today a majority government not because we have the best leader but because we have the best team, and we have the best team on every level—and they actually work together as a team far more than any of the other guys.

Q: You don’t think that you operate differently at a human level than you would have 10 or 20 years ago?

A: Well, I think as you spend more time at any occupation you get better at everything you do—I hope—and so I think I’m better at a lot of things than I was 10 years ago. But do I think there’s a sudden change at the convention this year? No, no, no.

Q: Another striking thing, to me, was some of the language around foreign affairs, and you said that, essentially, Canada needs to redefine its national purpose, and that its national purpose is no longer just to go along with everyone else’s agendas. How would you describe Canada’s definition of its national interest in the past?

A: Well, I’m not going to belabour analyzing previous governments, I’ll just say this: since coming to office—in fact since becoming prime minister—the thing that’s probably struck me the most in terms of my previous expectations—I don’t even know what my expectations were—is not just how important foreign affairs/foreign relations is, but in fact that it’s become almost everything. There’s hardly anything today of any significance that doesn’t have a huge international dimension to it, beginning first and foremost with the economy. Yeah, we have a strong economy, but really we have a stronger Canadian economy within a world economy. When we had a world recession it didn’t matter that there wasn’t a single thing that had caused the recession anywhere else that was present in Canada, we were still in a recession, and we didn’t go down as far as the others, and now that it’s recovering, we’re recovering ahead of the others. But nevertheless, we’re just a piece of the global economy. That’s the first thing, and whether you go to security matters or pandemics, it’s all international. I’m not saying it is not necessary to have good relations with a lot of people; in fact, having good relations, first and foremost, with our most critical ally, the United States, is essential to Canada’s well-being, as are our good relations or good dimensions of relations with a large number of other players. But it isn’t enough, in this day and age, to say we get along with people. We have to have a clear sense of where we want to be and where we would like our partners to go in the various challenges that are in front of them. Whether they’re economic challenges or security challenges or anything else, we better know what we’re trying to get out of this and where we’re going to align ourselves, and it’s not just good enough to say, “everybody likes us.” That is not a sufficient way to protect your interests when your interests are so deeply enmeshed with everybody else’s.

Q: So what do we do differently?

A: First and foremost I think you see the differences in this government in terms of how we approach foreign relations. First of all, we take pretty clear stands. We take stands that we think reflect our own interests but our own interests in a way that reflects the interests of the wider community of nations, or particularly the wider interests of those nations with whom we share values and interests. Whether it’s taking strong and clear positions, for instance, at the G20 on something like a global financial regulation and a banking tax, we don’t just say, “Well, a consensus is developing for that. We’ll go along with it.” It was not in our interest. It actually happens to be bad policy as well. So we worked to oppose that particular agenda. I won’t get into specifics, but in some issues of foreign affairs or conflicts, what are the Canadian values or interests at stake? We think it’s pretty important that our long-run interests are tied somewhat to our trade, but that they’re more fundamentally tied to the kind of values we have in the world: freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law. We see over time—it’s not an ironclad rule—but those societies that promote those values tend to share our interests, and those that do not tend to, on occasion, if not frequently, become threats to us. We also make sure as well—and this is important—that we have the capacities. I know we’ve received some criticism for re-investing in our military, but when you’re in a dangerous world and countries are from time to time called upon to do things to deal with those dangers, if you don’t have the capacity to act you are not taken seriously. Nobody takes your views seriously unless you can contribute to solutions, and it’s very difficult to contribute to solutions unless you can contribute across the range of capabilities, up to and including military capabilities. I think if you look back—I think Hugh Segal’s written quite eloquently on this recently—Canada’s been at its most influential when it’s actually had a range of capabilities, so we’ve made sure we have capabilities.

Q: And when it’s actually been using them.

A: And when it’s been using them. If capabilities are just in the freezer all the time then they’re not really capabilities, right?

Q: You think Canadians are prepared?

A: We’re trying to make our foreign aid more effective. We don’t fund talk shops anymore, we fund aid that actually makes a difference. On the economy, if there’s a banking crisis and a debate over banking we make sure we’ve got a good record on that, but we also make sure we have good people who understand the subject matter who are able to be at the table and drive discussion. So that’s what we do across a range of issues. I say it’s a very different shift from simply every country likes us and would raise its glass to us at a cocktail party. That’s not the issue.

Q: It’s one thing to say you want a strong-in-principle foreign policy, and another thing to carry through. I admired a lot of things the government initially said on China and human rights violations, but when we had a negative response from China on the trade front, your government’s line shifted. We’ve also seen different policies with regard to Afghanistan, some based on principle, some buffeted by what our allies would want, or the public wants.

A: I think on China we’ve been clear from the beginning that we’re anxious to have good relations and to pursue vigorous economic relations, but we are going to continue to speak out on democracy and human rights issues, and we have. I think it took the Chinese government some time to get used to the fact we had shifted the approach from one of utter silence on those issues, but the shift was made and I think it’s a productive relationship. On Afghanistan, look, the issue is complex and obviously the government’s been trying to decide as it goes forward each step of the way what’s the next best thing to do. I’ve said from the beginning we’ve needed to be engaged there on all levels to try and affect outcomes, but that the goal cannot be the permanent military occupation and kind of de facto governance of the country. This is a position not only that we’re pursuing but that I’ve argued with our allies. I think if you look at what’s happened, the positions we’ve been arguing have, over the past two or three years, become the positions of our allies, after we’d already been clear which direction we were going.

Q: Do you think you can wield the same influence on Israel? You’ve been a strong supporter of Israel for some time, but you’re now more or less isolated in the G8.

A: The Middle East question is more difficult in terms of the opinion of others. I wouldn’t go so far as to say isolated, but it is a difficult position. That said, in my mind, the stakes are very clear, the issue is very clear and the stakes are very important. We all recognize there has to be a two-state solution, but we have in Israel essentially a Western democratic country that is an ally of ours, who’s the only state in the United Nations whose very existence is significantly questioned internationally and opposed by many, including by the other side of that particular conflict—still, to a large degree—and when I look around the world at those who most oppose the existence of Israel and seek its extinction, they are the very people who, in a security sense, are immediate—long-term but also immediate—threats to our own country. So I think that’s a very clear choice. That doesn’t mean there aren’t individual issues that become quite complicated and nuanced, but I think it is important and I will continue to be very clear with other leaders the way I think we should see this problem.

Q: You’re confident that Canadians are prepared to accept a more muscular foreign policy? I noticed that when you talked at the convention about Canada’s founding principles, you mentioned first the phrase “courageous warrior.”

A: I think you have to take the triumvirate: the courageous warrior, compassionate neighbour, confident partner.

Q: Yes, but you didn’t choose to say a nation of peacekeepers, nation of immigrants, or hewers of wood or drawers of water, you said a courageous warrior, and that is not a way that Canadians are really accustomed to thinking of themselves.

A: Well, not recently, but in fact Canada has a proud military history, beginning with the War of 1812 that essentially began to establish our sense of national identity. That was really the genesis of the geographically wide and culturally diverse nation we have today. We’ve been consistently involved on the right side of important conflicts that have shaped the world in which we live, that are largely responsible for moving the world in the overall positive direction in which it is moving. Look, let me give you the two big threats of the 20th century. First, fascism. Canada, next to its big-three allies, played one of the largest roles in the world in the defeat of fascism, which purged the world of one evil, and obviously the most robust military engagement anyone’s ever been involved in. And then through a different kind of engagement, the long, sustained state of alert of the Cold War against Communism, the other great threat to the world and to our civilization. In spite of, quite frankly, the ambivalence of some Liberal governments toward that, Canada, in fact, remained engaged in that from the beginning to the very end. I’m not dismissing peacekeeping, and I’m not dismissing foreign aid—they’re all important things that we need to do, and in some cases do better—but the real defining moments for the country and for the world are those big conflicts where everything’s at stake and where you take a side and show you can contribute to the right side.

Q: You suggest that we are in one great conflict, or that we’re heading to one that we need to be prepared for.

A: I think we always are.

Q: What is the nature of that present threat?

A: Well, I think it’s more difficult to define now. We know there are challenges to us. The most obvious is terrorism, Islamic extremist terrorism. We know that’s a big one globally. We also know, though, the world is becoming more complex, and the ability of our most important allies, and most importantly the United States, to single-handedly shape outcomes and protect our interests, has been diminishing, and so I’m saying we have to be prepared to contribute more, and that is what this government’s been doing.

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How he sees Canada’s role in the world and where he wants to take the country

  1. Excellent interview and Harper clearly shows why he won a majority ! I think there are going to be a lot of very frustarted Harper haters out there re-upping their meds the next 4 years and who knows maybe another 4 after that.

  2. I agree with @google-9cee9468b8487223405ea070ebb8a00c:disqus . I think one of the reasons the left attacks Harper so much, is that he is so good at what he does. As Andrew Coyne alluded to, he is playing chess, while the others are playing checkers.

    • All progressives/liberals should read Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland, to understand why Harper is as successful politically as he is.  Personally, I think liberals and progressives would be much better off if they didn’t get so wound up over Harper.  Sometimes, Harper is deliberately winding them up — just as Nixon used to do to American liberals — which feeds right into Harper’s program (as it did with Nixon’s).

      • I don’t know why you want to make this personal all the time….most Canadians have never met the man.

        It’s his policies they don’t like, because they don’t agree on the direction he’s taking the country.

        And you might wanna remember Nixon resigned in disgrace.

        • Way to completely miss the substantive point of my post.   You’re good at that.

          • That’s because your posts never have any ‘substantive points’.

            Mostly you just whine about people ‘hating Harper’.

          • Like I said . . .

          • @OrsonBean:disqus 

            And like *I* said….

        • I back OrsonBean on this one.  The fact that most Canadians have never met the man does not discourage most from forming an opinion.  There are a lot of knee-jerk Harper haters out there and they post regularly. His policies, of course, will also be attacked, but frequently without thought or careful examination of the actual policy. Also the “Nixon resigned in disgrace.” is an utter red herring.  

      • I would like to say that I think he ‘loves’ it, but I am sure it for purely political reasons. :)

    • Harper is one of the worst politicians at playing political chess. He is a crass manipulator the people neither like or trust. He has yet to actually win a victory. In 2006, Ad Scam defeated Paul Martin. In 2008, a weak Dion running on a social “green shaft” defeated the Liberals. In 2011, 40% of right-leaning voters united — against the NDP forming the government. 

      60% of the electorate was fiercely against Harper getting a majority. They are not going to soften up with Harper wasting $240B on the military and derailing international efforts on global warming and asbestos. The resistance to Harper, relative to what its going to become, has only just begun.

      By the time Harper goes over the 8 year hump, which is enough to make the people sick of *any* leader — let alone someone as unlikable and completely devoid of charisma and even personality as Harper clearly is — Canadians are going to be begging for the days of Mike Harris and Brian Mulroney.

      BTW, you want to see a real player at political chess, look no further than Jack Layton. He made a meal of the Bloc and the Liberals while flying in under the radar as someone’s who’s a “regular guy.” Chess is about subtlety and elegance, and Layton played voters like a grandmaster.

      It’s good to see the Cons are overconfident and fooling themselves. When Harper destroys the economy and blows the deficit wide open he will poison the Reform/Conservative brand for a lot longer than Mulroney and Harris ever did.

      • Yeah, you are right. Harper did nothing – his opponents did id for him. (then why should the
        left worry? He will obviously be gone once the left’s shining knight appears).

        Can you sense the sarcasm?

        I am quite sure that you are not able to speak for 60% of the electorate. That you think that they were fiercely against him gaining a majority is something you might have a hard time proving. I would submit that the diehard libs, NDP, Greens, and Bloc voters would have voted the same if someone else were running the CPC, and/or if there was not chance of a majority.

        The resistance that you speak of will become shriller and more pronounced, but I suspect that it will be fewer and fewer people involved in it. I will come on record right now and say that I expect that the CPC will garner a larger % of the vote next election. That will be the result of the people who have been fearmongering in regards to Harper and the CPC having been proven wrong by the gov’t’s actions, and the results. Over time, more Canadians will start to realize that the CPC is more in line with their beliefs than any other party.

        I agree that Layton is a very good politician, and I have said that many times. I don’t, however, think that he alone deserves all of the credit for the Quebec ‘swing’. Quebec has a history of things like this, and the NDP were placed to benefit from it. (He deserves credit for that.  As Orpra says, ‘luck is opportunity being met by preparation’). I don’t, however, expect to see the NDP gain much in the next election. Quebec is still a mystery, but I think that the libs will come back a bit, and it will be at the expense of the NDP. Layton will never form a gov’t.

        If Harper destroys the economy, and blows the deficit, I will be proven wrong. I doubt that will happen.

    • When you’re the only one playing chess while everybody else plays checkers, it doesn’t matter how good at the game you are, because you’re just playing with yourself.

  3. Everything he’s said here could have been said by any PM…in 1956

    Harper has no idea of the reality he’s dealing with today.

    • And of course you do.

      • MmmHmm…it’s what I do.  I’m just surprised so few political people are aware of what’s happening in the world.  It’s supposed to be what THEY do, after all.

    • Has anyone got a single word out of him yet on what his domestic policy might be?  If so, I haven’t heard it, in the election, or since.  The substantive part of their policy appears to be ‘dont trust anyone who has spent time outside Canada’.

      This ‘interview’ sounds like the ‘interviewer’ is reading from a script.

  4. The U.S. is diminishing in its ability to shape we have to bulk up our military..hmm. not sure I like the idea of becoming a mini-me at all. The U.S. is currently bombing 6 countries and is broke, do we want that?

    • Under Liberal governments, we hitch-hiked all around the Globe via the U.S. or the Russians and it is time to be independent of all.  We must look after CANADIAN interests and that is why we have to equip our military.  Which 6 countries is the U.S. bombing?

      • We are now in an era of globalization….you missed ‘nationalism’ by eons.

        The US is currently bombing Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.

        • And Iran or Syria soon enough…in the next couple years, I’ll venture to guess.

          • Oh very likely….the US seems to pick names out of a hat.

            Countries that aren’t the slightest danger to them…..but the US has to have an ‘enemy’ all the time….keeps the bucks coming 

      • please stop dreaming Canada will never be a military power, however we must invest in the best equipment for the troops

  5. I find Harper’s views to be somewhat chilling. There is no problem with investing in the military, but I would rather embark into the future with a little more optimism then Harper and his conservatives have. How does he think he has the right to try and change Canadian’s views of themselves? I personally revelled in being loved worldwide. I would take a toast at the worlds cocktail party any day over being feared and having the illusion of respect. To say we have been involved in a national conflict since WW2 is rediculous.

    • So rather than be feared by Islamic dictators and terrorists, you’d rather they raise their glasses to us on the Canape tour…  

      • The west supports those dictators, keeps them in power, has done for a century or so.

        The people in those countries want to be free….of both those dictators….and us.

        • Exactly how is “the west” or more to the point, Canada, supporting these dictators?  Last time I looked we were bombing the crap out of Gawdawful, making a pariah out of Iran, Syria, North Korea and Zimbabwae, Myanmar and a host of others….  

          • The Shah of Iran was put in place, and kept there by the west….until Iranians tossed him out.  He was a butcher. The current Iranian mess is entirely our fault. Most places in the ME would long since have become democracies if we hadn’t kept other dictators in power.  Saddam was our buddy until he moved to the Euro.  Same with others in the ME…Mubarak Assad etc.  We wanted ‘stability’ there in the oil fields….and paid to have it.  The people of the ME suffered  for it.

            The other countries aren’t in the ME, and are another topic

      • Yes, because a raised glass is a much better thing to hold in your hand when opening dialogue and trying to foster understanding and humanity in your fellow man than a freaking atomic bomb, you ass.

        • So I say something you don’t agree with and I get a “you ass”.  Way to make your point… you obviously don’t practice what you preach.

          • oops

  6. Good interview. Although I have to admit, after the first 8 questions on elections, I rolled my eyes and wondered if (after years of election speculation and election coverage by the media) journalists had simply forgotten how to talk about anything other than elections. But thankfully, the rest of the interview was very insightful.

  7. Good interview. Also interesting that the PM, again, mentioned the War of 1812 as a fundamental event in Canada’s history. It bodes well for the bicentennal commemoration that he understands the importance of remembering our history.
    As someone who came from the Progressive Conservative side of the merger it is always heartening to observe what a traditional Canadian conservative the PM is at heart.

    • Well it wasn’t his idea. People have been working on this for 30 years or more….he’s just recently climbed on the bandwagon

      • What time he climbed on to the bandwagon isn’t really relevant if he is not only on said wagon but also showing an understanding of why the wagon needed to be built in the first place

        • He doesn’t….it’s just a neat touristy thing handily coming along during the queen’s diamond jublilee. He’s big on royalty this year, having given up praising the US repubs.

        • I think he does generally show an appreciation of both history and the power of symbolism, particularly as they can be used to assist in fostering national unity.  His embrace of history and his enthusiasm for institutions such as the Monarchy is a welcom change from governments of the past, even conservative ones, that seemed embarassed by both.

          • ‘I think he does generally show an appreciation of both history and the power of symbolism, particularly as they can be used to assist in’ …getting votes.

    • You are either ignorant of Harper or traditional Canadian conservatism. Harper identified himself with American Republicanism and it’s clear from his agenda he is importing all of their policies verbatim: from the war on drugs and crime, to absurd military spending ($240B,) to blind support for Israel, to unilateral and obnoxious foreign policy decisions, to doling out huge free-money tax cuts to the rich. Next comes the massive neo-con “debt bombs” like ones that bankrupted America, and the economy falling apart because of ham-fisted free-market ideology.

      Harper is extreme in his actions, unlike Diefenbaker or Mulroney who were actually able to muster popular support. He has the soul of a neo-con.

      “Your country (America,) and particularly your conservative movement, is a light and an inspiration to people in this country and across the world.” 

      “The Reform (Conservative) party is much closer to what you would call conservative Republican.” 

      “The Reform (Conservative) party is very much a modern manifestation of the Republican movement in Western Canada; the U.S. Republicans started in the western United States.”  

      — Stephen Harper

      • Wow,  What an incredibly original observation.

      • What are your solutions for these seemingly simple issues? Are you interested in eradicating Israel entirely? Or maybe you don’t support economic policies that are proven to work in boosting economies and efficiency? Harper may support or agree with the Republicans on some points, but it’s clear that he doesn’t express the same extreme views as the select few ‘neo-cons’ you refer to.

        IF Harper starts eradicating laws that are in place to hinge the Canadian economy (I have no reason to believe this will ever happen) I’ll eat my words, but until then you’ll have to accept Harper and his team as the best economists in any party in Canada, and now leaders of a country with the goal of establishing a stronger foreign presence. 

        Your crass observation of other comments as ‘ignorant’ followed by comments about economic policy leads me to believe that you have a very low understanding of economics and economic policies, where the NDPs, Liberals, and even the Democrats in the USA have made promises they can’t support. The promises of your omniprescent leader Jack Layton were unachievable spending policies and empty words. Playing political chess by lying is much worse than any Conservative policy you could rhyme off.

      • Well, if all you have is some words from a decade-old speech in which he was being polite to an American audience you don’t have much to go on – rather less than Michael Ignatieff’s habit of saying “we” when referring to Americans.  But the PM’s actual behaviour in office – which is far more centrist and traditionally conservative than you appear to give him credit for – is what he should be measured by.  He is hardly an extremist by any measure.

  8. This is a tough, intelligent, and articulate man.  Refreshing.

    But I would have liked some probing into his understanding of Freedom and Democracy and The Rule of Law. 

    So I’m saying Bad Interview. 

  9. What a crappy, feeble interview with puffball questions eliciting pompous pontification.

    And “courageous warriors” do not prance around wearing military uniforms and insignia which they have not earned the right to wear, as Harper does. What a poseur.

    • When has the PM ever worn a uniform or “insignia”?

      • “Note the wings on the breast of Stephen Harper’s bomber jacket as he visits Slave Lake with Ed Stelmach. A badge with two wings is worn by a member of the Canadian Forces who has completed a course of training qualifying them as aircrew (non-aircrew like engine or airframe techs wear a half-wing badge). These full-winged trades include pilots, navigators, and loadmasters.”

        Harper has never earned the right to wear such wings.

        • I don’t see those photos on the linked website anymore, but there are plenty of them you can find by googling ‘stephen harper slave lake’ images, including these:

          Funny how Stelmach didn’t feel the need to change his jacket.

          Harper is a poseur, dressing up like a toy soldier. No civilian politician should EVER pretend he is in the military. It is a very unhealthy sign.

          • Since the photos only show him wearin the jacket on the tarmac, and not around town, it appears he was simply loaned it as something to wear during the flight.  Hardly the sign of pretending to anything.

          • So why is he wearing a suit jacket in some of the photos? Nope, he used it as a costume for a photo op and so it was insulting and offensive to real military people.

          • And note that he wore it long enough to have lots and lots of photos taken of him. I bet those went up on his wall of self-adoration.

          • It is a flight jacket – likely fireproof – why don’t you google it???? The flight crews and passengers have to wear them – including Stelmach when they ride on military jets & helicopters.  Stelmach likely changed his faster.  You are an idiot!

  10. Harper neglects to say he started out in the young Liberals – he goes straight to being a member of the old PC party.
    He also rambles when he hasn’t a clue about what he’s talking about.  The entire answer on foreign affairs for example.  And he doesn’t want to use the term “natural governing party” for the Harper party but has no problem talking about his party as a “coalition”.The more Harper talks the more obvious it is he’s ideological and not rational.He’s also confirmed here that he has committed our military to the endless war set up by the Project for a New American Century.  War all the time against the convenient “terrorists” that we can never win a war with.  Complete idiocy will only believer that.Also interesting how he talks about fascism being one of the great evils yet cannot recognize that that is what we are living in right here and now.  Look up the 14 steps to Fascism and we’re taking every one of them to one degree or another.

    • Hey, I agree in

    • Sry, edit doesn’t work for some reason.

      Hey, I agree about some of the fascist stuff.  Harper and co. have very ideological Calvinist approaches to crime and punishment with mandatory minimums, the coming “lawful access” bill, that’s all very freedom-restricting, and I don’t agree with it.  Not to mention our new culture of military worship.
      But Harper isn’t saying anything remotely about being signed up for a Project for a New American Century.  Look:”We also know, though, the world is becoming more complex, and the ability of our most important allies, and most importantly the United States, to single-handedly shape outcomes and protect our interests, has been diminishing, and so I’m saying we have to be prepared to contribute more”
      What he’s dancing around is that the greatest threat to Canada in this century is the coming depolarization of world affairs.  As the US heads towards bankrupcy, its’ ability to maintain the world order will be reduced.  He doesn’t believe in any Project.  He believes that the Project is a failure.  Canada needs to be prepared for a future multipolar world of regional wars and empires. 
      Similarly, Harper is alluding to the coming financial crisis hitting the U.S. when he says: “We have to have a clear sense of where we want to be and where we would like our partners to go in the various challenges that are in front of them. “.  That’s why Flaherty was cautioning the U.S. to balance its budget recently.  The destabilization of the U.S. is a threat to Canada in that way as well. 

      • We are joining every US adventure in the Middle East under Harper and that is the PNAC’s plan.  Never ending war with the west behind them.  NO MORE WARS.  With the amount of money we spend and NATO is spending on war we could buy peace over and over again.  All it would take is for corporations to pay a fair price for resources that do not belong to them.

        • Ah jeez, here we go. 

          Let’s assume that the reason for the war in Libya is oil.  (it’s not, it’s actually a left-wing humanitarian intervention to prevent another Rwanda, care of an Obama advisor named Samantha Power who wrote a book that’s a manual for this current war). But let’s assume it is.
          Currently, the world price for oil is $100 a barrel, give or take.  What would the fair price for oil be in order to have prevented this war? 

          The reason Gaddhafi and the rest of the middle east are facing crises is because of the high price of oil, not a low price.  A high oil price causes inflation, incentive for biofuels, and higher food prices, so poor hungry people riot. 

          If there’s anything I dislike more than an ideological right winger, it’s a hardcore leftie.

    • …and Trudeau started out in the communist party.  What does it matter?  Politicians change their allegiances just as voters do when a political party does not fulfill their expectations.
      As for our current political reality being fascism…take a history lesson.  Obviously you need to look up Mussolini.  You have no idea what you are talking about.

  11. The great challenge of our time is climate change and the way it is already affecting Canada and the world, and Harper lacks the courage and the honesty to face up to this challenge. Instead he pretends it is not happening and in fact he is working hard to make it worse. Fool!

    • You are the fool my friend. If we end up in a world war because we don’t adequately deal with the international threats you won’t have to worry about the environment. By the way talk to your buddies around the world and get them to agree on global targets for greenhouse emissions. Only then can effective environmental change take place. You guys and your one issue need to get the blinders off.

      • There aren’t any ‘international threats’.

        • Then all is right with the world. Emily has pronounced it so.

          • I’m sorry hollinm, but the Cold War is over.

            We aren’t facing any military threats….we have two massive threats/challenges going on….but Harp isn’t dealing with either of them

            Doesn’t seem to know they exist in fact.

      • The wars are going to be over water and diminishing resources. Learn some history. And I am not your friend.

      • The environment will likely be the reason for world war.  Water, drought, flooding, tornados, hurricanes, lack of food.

    • When you get down to the cold calculating facts, climate change is probably a net opportunity for Canada.  Climate change up north frees up natural resources for exploration and exploitation, and also allows for increased trade with Asia through the Northern Passage.  We could also possibly see longer growing seasons and a greater variety of crops planted.

      The net threat to Canada’s economic well-being is actually in symbolic actions to prevent climate change.  I say symbolic because throttling the oil sands would cripple our budget while China as a “developing” country builds a new coal plant every week.


      • Crops do not do well in extreme weather which includes drought, fires, flooding and violent storms, most of which are exacerbated by global warming. We are more likely to see our main source of crops change from prairie to desert than to gain much viable crop land further north. There are a lot of rocks up there.

        And with the glaciers melting away, we are looking at water shortages in parts of Canada.

        We are well suited to develop all sorts of clean energy: solar, wind, geothermal, etc. but the stupid shortsighted politicians will not face reality.

        • While climate change itself is a general scientific consensus, the effects of climate change are still controversial.  Will it cause extreme weather events?  After the 2005 hurricane season, it seemed like it, except the years afterwards were pretty calm.  Climate change could very well cause steady warming. 

          As for the glaciers causing drought, yeah, it’s possible.  However, our weather patterns could change to include periods of monsoon-like rains, for example.

          As for your clean energy solutions, try telling Dalton McGuinty about shortsighted politicians.  he’s the one who imposed ridiculous energy rate hikes on Ontarians to pay for wind power, and he’s about to lose power. 

          Everything costs money.  We either pay for your hippie wind power, or we pay for grandma’s hip replacement.  Your move.

          • We already know what it’s causing, and it’s only going to get worse. There is nothing ‘controversial’ about it

            McGuinty is moving to wind power and other alternative energy because of the dependence on unreliable oil. He is also putting in nuclear plants…it’s an attempt to diversify.

            Canada is a very wealthy country….there is no ‘either/or’ involved.

          • Only a fool would expect “steady warming”. That is not how climate or weather work. Even in Canada we get good weather in some parts and bad in others.

            You Conservatives who pretend to care about the military should listen to them:

            Critical energy and water shortages combined with climate change could provoke wars within the next 15 years, warns a newly-released analysis by the Department of National Defence.Read more:


          • @google-7d855120c8acb287559445cefdd616ab:disqus 

            I don’t know what the right-wing was thinking when it decided to make climate change a political issue

            They’ve sounded like kooks ever since.

          • If there was no either/or involved there would be no need for a government to make decisions or for economic policies at all…

          • @facebook-507353865:disqus 

            The ‘either-or’ referred to was either granny’s hip replacement OR wind power.

            We can do both, we don’t have to choose.

      • You can’t say this. This goes against the ‘accepted wisdom’ of the left.

        • And recorded weather patterns as well.  It wasn’t “pretty calm” after 2005.. it was “pretty calm” around here. Unfortunately, the problem isn’t called “North America Warming.”

          • huh?

  12. PM Stephen Harper is now recognized by most Canadians as a capable and distinguished political leader in whom they can trust.  Those few who oppose him are the fearmongering rabble who will never be satisfied.

    Layton is ailing and may not be the NDP leader by the 2015 election, and the Liberals have inexplicably postponed their leadership decision for a long 2 years.  Together with the NDP trying to cover up their doctrinaire “socialist” label in their sacred constitution, one must suspect that the Liberals and NDP are now conducting covert merger discussions.

    It must be apparent to all that stand-alone Liberal and NDP parties cannot hope to challenge the mighty Conservatives even in the next election in 2015.  A merger is mandatory now, and I’m betting by September merger talks will be out in the open.

    BobRae is currently touring Canada most likely to hold on to the 2.7 million Liberal voters so that the damaged Liberal brand will have something to offer the NDP in a merger.  They will have to act quickly otherwise the dubious 2.7 million Liberal voters will abandon ship and drift to the Conservatives. 

    It’s merger or bust for both the Liberals and Dippers …. believe it.

    • Still peddling malarky I see.

      • Did our tax dollars pay for it, I wonder?

        • Probably…didn’t get value for money though.  LOL

        • Oh God, Emily found an ally

          • Emily has lots of allies…’reality has a liberal bent’

          • get real.


          • @modster99:disqus 

            You even advertise that you spout nonsense….although it’s not a revelation to anyone.

    • The “few” who opposed him were still a majority in this country.. they just couldn’t decide on which of the alternatives they preferred.

  13. Canada’s foreign policy is inadequate at best.
    yes Canada must support Israel but that is not where the foreign policy begins and ends. France, UK and United States also support Israel yet they are engaged at many levels and therefore have influence and benefiting from international trade.
    why is there not a Canadian foreign intelligence service? why does Canada not have an embassy in Iraq? why is Canada not engaged in any serious diplomatic initiatives.
    Canada is almost irrelevant in the world.

    • Harper’s epiphany on foreign affairs is actually a recent event.  I think it dates back to no later than the G20 summit, and his realization he could play the other world leaders as skillfully as he can Canadians.  It’s clearly recent, otherwise why would he have let an incompetent boob like McKay have the portfolio for even a second. 

      Anyway, I’m hoping that Harper’s foreign affairs epiphany produces a foreign charter for CSIS along with other initiatives.

  14. it is time to stop the finger pointing and blame game of left or right wing and have a mature  productive debate for the good of Canada. election is over. 

    • For Emily, the campaign never ends . . .

      • Um….it’s not me that carries on this campaign nonsense…I don’t like any of the parties, as you well know.

        And do stop sulking, you always sound like a whiney kid.

        • You may not like any party but you do come across as very biased/angry about the Conservatives.

          • That’s because they have stupid policies that are taking us backwards.

            I generally don’t like parties that damage the country

          • Many Canadians (simply going by the current make up of the House) would disagree. What in particular is so damning about the Conservative policies that can’t be erased or imporved upon by future goverments?

          • @monkey_batman:disqus 

            Well you see, once places like Nortel have gone….they’re gone.

            Once we’ve given up the lead in so many fields, once our reputation is ruined….once we’ve tossed science and education aside to take up being hewers of wood and drawers of water ….it’s very hard to correct.

            We had Avro Arrow once upon a time…and a Con govt obliterated it….now another Con govt has done the same thing

            It took us nearly half a century to recover from the Arrow…this could kill us off altogether.

          • This is in reply to the post that starts: “Well you see…”
            I’m sorry but that just comes across as rhetoric. How are they abandoning
            education or science? and are we now blaming the Conservatives for every
            business that goes under due to that business own incompetence? And while the loss
            of the Arrow was a tragedy for our aerospace engineering it was certainly no
            were close to being drastically damaging to the point where it would take the
            country half a century to recover. Like I said what you’ve posted just sounds
            like rhetoric, do you have anything to back it up?

          • @monkey_batman:disqus 

            You don’t know our ‘science’ minister is a creationist?

            You are unaware we are losing the places like Nortel, and AECL, nearly lost radarsat, and RIM is having problems….. while retaining auto workers, and taking up ship building?

            You are unaware we are falling way behind in science and technology and innovation?  And that the govt is cutting funding for those things. GM and Chrysler got the bucks though. So does the military, and forestry.

            I’m sorry….I assumed anyone on a political chatsite would know these things.

            Arrow devastated our tech ability for half a century….we’ve had a slow comeback….and now it’s happening again.

            Con govt both times.

          •  How does propping up failing companies promote innovation?
            Innovation is often at its greatest and most frequent when one is without a
            safety net. Choosing not to bail out non economically critical companies (whose
            failures are internal and thus cannot be blamed on the Conservatives) is a far
            cry from directly terminating a government project (like the Arrow).

          • @monkey_batman:disqus 

            We propped up GM and Chrysler, we propped up the fisheries and forestry, we even propped up creaky old Sydney Steel…..but let it be something innovative and high tech….and suddenly our govt is nowhere to be found.

            And yet those things…aerospace, satellites, cellphones, advanced patents and so on…are all critical to our economy

  15. Harper will turn out to be the greatest Canadian Prime Minister. He doesn’t run on emotion, but on realism and he’s a thinker. He doesn’t do much without knowing all the consequences. That is what Canada needs to be recognized on the world scene. And I believe all the lefties who hate him, do so because they know he’s better than any of their guys and that he will be around for a long time.

    • You know nothing.  I have no guys and I have no Harper.


      • That’s rude

        • When I hear a joke, I laugh

          Only a Con could be offended by laughter.

          • You know perfectly well that Youknowwhat wasn’t joking, that is simply his opinion, and laughin at it doesn’t change it or make yours superior

          • I found it to be a joke….I laughed at it…and btw all opinions are not equal.

        • Don’t worry – Emily has a reputation, and we all take her comments with a grain of salt.

          • That’s putting it very politely.

          • I thought so, but to be truthful, she makes this site a bit more interesting. She can get under your skin, and she loves that. She might not make sense half the time, but she is interesting.

  16. I love Stephen Harper!

    Nicely done Ken and get used to many, many more years of A Harper Government!

    • Well, 3 years and 10 months of it, anyhow. However, all bad things do come to an end. The US got rid of Bush and the Repubs… we’ll eventually get rid of Harper, hopefully before he does too much damage.

      • Oh I agree all things come to an end. But it will be a lot longer than 3 years 10 months for Stephen Harper to go away.

        And are you suggesting Harper and Bush are alike somehow? Because that’s not accurate in any way. I’d like to hear how is that you think that.

        And what is the damage? 

        You won’t be able to get rid of Harper, he will go when he is done with politics.

        Next election unfortunately for the LPC and lack of judgement by letting Rae stay as their interim leader for such a long time, won’t be in any shape to rebuild the party and Layton, well he is a one hit wonder, he is not going to be as lucky again!

        You might not like SH for whatever reason and that’s fai,r this is a free country, but to dismiss him just because of that is a mistake, to truly appreciate and give an unbiased opinion on the government you have to be open minded, IMO.

    • I agree, and apparently it is driving some people crazy.

      • Oh Modster99, isn’t that the truth? I am starting the margaritas early, haha

  17. I love listening to the Lefty whine – even if it doesn’t age well. Emily and gang do you really think this kind of kick you are on is a game changer.  The majority of Candidans (41%) aren’t even paying attention to all your drivel.
    They’re satisfied with their decision – check back in 4 years.

    • Um.. since when was 41 % (and it wasn’t even that – it was 39.9%) considered a ‘majority’ of Canadians? In seats yes, but certainly not in percentage.

    • Since most Canadians didn’t vote for Harper….and since nobody I know is a ‘leftie’…you might want to rethink your plans.

      • Most of Harper’s constituents did vote for him, which is why
        he is now a sitting MP. Similarly, more ridings voted in conservative representatives
        in the last election. If this was a presidential race you would have a strong
        point when remarking on the total popular vote the Tories received, (and in
        assuming the entire nation voted for Harper) but instead we operate under a parliamentary
        system, and in that system the many tory MPs got their majority mandate.

        • Yes, his base ….who would vote for him even if he ate live puppies on TV

          It’s not the ‘parliamentary system’….it’s the ‘first past the post’ system

          • I was comparing a presidential system to our own
            parliamentary system (including its first past the post aspects) due to your
            own emphasis on Canadians voting for Harper rather than the MPs in the party he
            represents, but thank you for the critique. While the Conservative base may
            have gotten them to a minority position, they owe their majority to more than
            partisans, unless you’re suggesting close to half the nation are Conservative

          • And any way you slice it, the majority of Canadians didn’t vote for Harper

          • No of course not, because the majority of Canadians do not get to vote for Harper. Which is also why judging the majority of Canadians by the percentages of over all votes doesn’t work as an accurate analysis.

    • I agree that there is a certain ironic justice to the situation some anti-tories find themselves in, but kicking them when they’re down or simply reveling in their discomfort can only last for so long until it gets counter productive. It’s like the response to the Vancouver riots, after a while it just becomes Canadians mocking or being mocked by fellow Canadians, and who wins from that? (Besides Emily)

      • Kindly keep me out of your nonsensical political posts

        • Your inclusion was more of a tongue in check refrence to the original commentors post and your own infamous reputation on these comment boards. Though the fact you think that Canadians no longer kicking other Canadians when they’re down to be nonsensical does prove my half joking point.

          • I don’t have a ‘reputation’ thanks, much less an infamous one

            It’s a chatsite fertheluvofgawd.

            And you can stop larking about as well.

          • I see it less of a chat site and more of a debate site, and I think its at its best when it operates as such, though having said that I think you’re taking the wrong parts of my comments to seriously. And I’m sorry to say I don’t know what larking is, would you care to explain?

          • Nobody debates on here….in fact there is little to debate about

            Larking about…arsing about…horsing around….sorry, an Englishism

  18. Every in-depth interview with Stephen Harper I’ve ever come across
    has been such a fascinating read. I can’t recall a single other political
    leader in history that balances such paradoxical extremes in his approach to thinking.
    On one hand, Harper displays such remarkable intellectual ability in his enormous
    breadth of understanding on issues (and a magnificent memory!). Yet on the
    other hand, in the same breath, in the same analysis and in those conclusions
    he draws, you see his thought process so jarringly chained to absolutes, black-and-whites,
    and a great difficulty—if not inability—to navigate the complexities of issues.
    A great breadth of understanding but with an oddly low level of depth on any of
    those issues. And no perceivable desire to go deeper.

    I can’t decide if one should admire Harper for the heights
    he has taken his thinking or bemoan how much more he could have been had he not
    been constrained by extremes.

     But it’s hard not to
    consider his understanding of, and commentary on, major issues to be a
    significant underperformance of potential. Especially when his understanding is
    clouded with so many false dichotomies, either-or fallacies, and catch-22s.

  19. I think this is a great interview, a keeper.

    It starts with puffball questions, the kind that had me rolling my eyes. But a skilled interviewer does that to put the client at ease; to gain their trust. It increases the odds of an honest answer.

    I kept waiting, reading, and hoping for the Israel question.

    Nicely done.  That answer; along with the questions and answers that follow; will be remembered and quoted for a long time.

    Harper goes on about how our most important ally is the US and then alludes to the war of 1812. 

    He dislikes the term “natural governing party” but then talks about a “conservative coalition”.  Aren’t coalitions evil? Wasn’t that your message for the last 4 years?

    Then he speaks about facism.  Oh, the humanity! Oh, the irony!

    But he never addresses the “isolated in the G8” inference, when Canada stood alone in its insistence that there be no mention of the ’67 borders in the joint G8 statement. The Harper Government™ brags about this as being principled.

    “We know there are challenges to us. The most obvious is terrorism, Islamic extremist terrorism.”

    Hey Mr. Prime Minister! Can you name one Canadian who has been harmed by Islamic terrorists in the last 10 years? Note: those you sent to Afghanistan do not count.

    • How is that flotilla working out for you?

    • Bunch of nonsense!!

  20.  It is an unfortunate reality that yes, Harper is good at what he does. He is good at manipulating the press, misleading the people of this country, lying to the government, keeping his oil buddies happy, shall I go on? He is a driven man for sure, for the last 9 years he has slowly built a conservative base out of fragments, and bided his time. By using American style politics he has caught not only his opponents but the population off guard. He is seeing the decline in the US’s power as our time to shine, with guns. We don’t do that, we cherish debate and reason (and yes that that cheers to us is for a reason). And I am not a hippy/lefty/socialist, so don’t even go there. What I am is appalled that at this time in the world people are so cynical and and bored by politics that they can’t be bothered to actually look into the issues and make an informed decision about how they will be represented in the world. He gives them a song and dance and they take it, it’s easier than thinking. Your values are my values. Right.
     It was an excellent interview, if you want empty words that sound good. Perhaps the “Harper haters” hate him because they don’t want to dance with him to destruction.  

    • Yeah, that’s right Liz, everybody is being fooled except you and your friends

    • Yes, please go on. I found this post to be enlightening. (not really – you lose credibility in the second sentence).

      Obviously, you have a different opinion, but to assume that Harper ‘caught the population off guard’ is not fair to us. We have always known what he stood for, and a lot of people agree.

      The image of Canada as a peacekeeper is a nice one, but not totally based in fact. It was more the result of our relationship with the US, and a weak foreign policy. I don’t think that he sees this as our time to ‘shine with guns’, but a dangerous time in the history of the world, where Canada can play an important role.

      Lots of ‘thinking’ people agree.

      • Salud, margaritas are on me, haha (oh man, the absurdity of this posters)

        • Yup.

          When I move to Calgary – you owe me a drink. lol

          (although, truth be told, I have tequila, even the good stuff.)

          • Anytime : )

            I am of much of drinker by the way, but my grandmother used to say that when she heard nonsense!

          • Oops – that should have been:

            ‘I hate tequila, even the good stuff.’

            Had to correct that – tequila makes my stomach do not good things. :)

            Can I assume by your statement that your grandmother drank a lot when she talked politics. :)

  21. the end of the world- the extremists are the big threat we are a warroior country!not to say that peacekeeping we couldn’t do better–nice quotes from the mind set of what harper says here -but frankly nothing nobody didnt know already- he willtake the steps to make canada as conservative as conservative can be-what a sham- i mean a shame.sorry but pretty big words whilest a monarch stands near by-bow to the people mr harper-you only got 30percent of the country- everyone else is left wing.checkmate

  22. wonder if he even knows that the rebels/terrorists that Canada are supporting in Libya and bombing are massacre the black civilians ..thought we were there for a Humanitarian mission..
    To Save civilians with Bombs !
    Bombs cause Destruction and Death …
    Stop Bombing LIbya !

  23. Harper is a manipulative, vindictive, shallow, 19th century throwback, Likudnic, Islamophobic con- artist whose key constituency is disgruntled middle-aged white men with big bellies.  Fortunately, for the majority of Canadians, he is his own worst enemy.
    Let Harper be Harper.

  24. keep Canada free!!!!!!