Can't compare partisan politics with the crime of bullying, Harper says -

Can’t compare partisan politics with the crime of bullying, Harper says


OTTAWA – Prime Minister Stephen Harper didn’t seem to see any contradiction Thursday between his government’s fondness for partisan political attacks while at the same time pledging to fight the scourge of online bullying.

Indeed, Harper seemed to bristle at the suggestion of parallels between the political discourse on Parliament Hill and the ever-present perils faced by teenagers online.

“Do not confuse democratic debate in politics with crime,” Harper said during a news conference in Ottawa.

The Conservatives have been on an relentless advertising offensive of late against Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, painting him as a pretty face and famous name who lacks the judgment and gravitas to be prime minister.

That campaign happened to overlap this week with the eighth annual Victims of Crime Week in Ottawa, during which the Conservatives promised to fast-track new laws to help protect young people from cyberbullying.

Some critics and editorial writers, however, have suggested the political tone in Ottawa offers an unsavoury echo of the very online behaviour the government is looking to prevent.

The juxtaposition between the two campaigns is jarring, said an editorial this week in the Halifax Chronicle Herald, a sentiment echoed in letters to the editor from Canadians across the country.

“When teenagers assess role models, they have an unfailing ability to call out adults for telling them not to do something those same adults do,” the newspaper wrote.

“Why should teens believe a political leader who says it’s wrong to gang up on someone and attack him publicly, when that leader and the backroom strategists are rubbing their hands in glee over the next round of attack ads?”

Harper, judging from his reaction Thursday, does not agree. He took particular umbrage at the mention of Rehtaeh Parsons, the 17-year-old Nova Scotia girl who took her own life earlier this month.

Her family alleges Parsons was sexually assaulted by four boys in 2011 and that a digital photograph of the incident was shared around her school.

“What happened with the Parsons family are terrible crimes and this government will be moving forward with measures to address them,” said Harper, who met with the family Wednesday to discuss changes to the Criminal Code that would make it illegal to share intimate images without a person’s consent.

Julie Vaux, Harper’s spokeswoman, went even further.

“This is no time to trivialize what happened in Nova Scotia,” Vaux said in an email. “Using this tragic example and comparing it in such a way is a slap in the face to the family.”

But NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair suggested it’s an issue worth considering.

“It is somewhat ironic that at a time when we’re talking about whether or not this type of highly partisan personal attack is generally a good idea, I think we better start practising what we preach up here.”

The Conservatives have been relentless in targeting Trudeau, who was campaigning Thursday in Labrador in advance of a byelection next month.

“Instead of defending an increasingly indefensible, mediocre record on the economy and on various decisions, they attack,” he said in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

“And they use whatever public resources they can to turn people away from politics and to foster cynicism.”

Harper has sought in the last week to directly contrast some of his own views with those of Trudeau, specifically on the issue of terrorism.

When Trudeau suggested it would be important to consider the “root causes” of last week’s attacks at the Boston Marathon, Harper lashed out, insisting it was a time for manhunts, not soul searching.

On Thursday, four days after police arrested two men accused of plotting to attack a Via Rail train with the help of al-Qaida, Harper was asked when it would be the right time to consider the root causes of terrorism.

“This is not a time to commit sociology, if I can use an expression. It’s time to treat this,” he said.

“These things are serious threats, global terrorist attacks, people who have agendas of violence that are deep and abiding threats to all the values that our society stands for.”

Former Liberal leader Bob Rae said exploring motivations is important.

“There’s never an excuse, there’s never a justification, there’s never a rationalization (of terrorism),” he said.

“What we’re talking about is dealing with causes so we can stop the causes, so we can be tough on terrorism … and also tough on the causes of terrorism.”

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Can’t compare partisan politics with the crime of bullying, Harper says

  1. >> “Do not confuse democratic debate in politics with crime,” Harper said during a news conference in Ottawa. <<

    No one is confusing democratic debate with bullying. But Canadians are right on the money equating Harper's puerile attacks with bullying. While Harper indulges in slander, lies and ad hominem demagoguery — attempting to manipulate voters' emotions — Trudeau and Mulcair will engage Canadians in an adult conversation on how this country should be governed.

    • Harper indulges in slander, lies and ad hominem demagoguery — attempting to manipulate voters’ emotions

      Exactly! And don’t forget the attempt to embarrass and denigrate with images (Trudeau removing shirt). The exact same tactics outside the political arena are bullying; changing the setting does not alter the core definition of the behaviour.

      But it does not surprise me that Harper does not see this; he is a master of cognitive dissonance and “Do as I say not as I do.”

      • Con men are blind to their own hypocrisy because they are incapable of feeling shame…

      • Lets see some ads of Justin pounding out Harpers MP (the guy facing sexual assault charges … er … the most recent Harper MP to face sexual assault charges … not the first one …)

  2. A young girl is bullied into suicide in Nova Scotia and the RCMP can’t see past the
    donuts to look at the pictures that would seem to say something serious was going on.

    Stephen Harper wants to address online bullying and so he should.

    He is also suggesting Justine Trudeau is not ready for prime time.

    Trudeau the elder and Trudeau the younger have been great at collecting subsidies for Quebec at the expense of the rest of Canada.

    Why should we the rest of Canada subsidize Quebec daycare?
    Why do the rest of us have to pay more so Quebec students can pay less for education?
    When is it fair that the rest of Canada pays more for dairy products to subsidize producers mostly in Quebec?
    English is almost outlawed in the only province that truly needs bilingualism.

    Trudeau’s work for Quebec and Mr. Harper is pointing out his flaws.

    • I wouldn’t put it past the Cons to use ignorant and divisive anti-Quebec rhetoric against Trudeau, but as far as I know, they haven’t sunk that low yet.

      • Then you haven’t watched the ads.

        • I only saw the one where he takes off his shirt, for a Kidney Foundation ad, and apparently they complained about it being used that way. They snipped out the “Quebecers are better” bit from some comments he made about things his father told them as kids. He was probably trying to inoculate them against anti-Quebec hatred. Trudeau’s ad in response to that one was good, the way he shuts it off, ignores it, but creates a contrast to it.

          • That is the one. The intent of the out-of-context clip is to make people think those are JT’s views. Many viewers won’t take the time to investigate the source or context. They are therefore trying to paint JT as a Quebec-first leader, stirring the anti-Quebec sentiment that exists in certain quarters in hopes that people with those sentiments will become anti-Liberal.

    • Sinclairs work for British Columbia and the former Ms Sinclair (his mother) is still alive. Your assertion that either Trudeau has collected for Quebec is unsupported. When was Justin even an influential member of a Liberal Government? Does he have Jedi powers to control simple-minded back-benchers?

  3. The PM seems to confuse political debate with personal attacks, tricks like quoting someone out of context and twisting their meaning and relentless, meaningless talking points. But I wouldn’t call it bullying. It’s just cheap politics, in lieu of political debate.

    • No; it is bullying. Exactly the same tactics schoolyard and online bullies use. The fact that he does it in a different setting does not make it a different behaviour.

      • It doesn’t set a good example, especially when the PM does it himself. I might be forgetting what he did before but it surprised me he got personally involved in sniping at Trudeau from the funeral in London.

        I wonder if the Cons pay people to post comments about Trudeau on-line. They sound repetitive, always follow the same themes, always stupid in the same way. They sound like on-line bullies.

        • There are some on here that I think may be paid to post.

          As to the PM’s sniping – doesn’t surprise me in the least. But then my own opinion of Harper is pretty low; it would take a lot to surprise me.

  4. And I am also certain the 14 MPs on the conservative backbench that spoke up about free speech and then voted against the motion were simply enlightened by Harper prior to the vote, there would have been NO bullying their either. Nothing to see here… move along…

  5. I’d love to see Mr Harper engage in some democratic debate: it’d be a refreshing change.