Feschuk: The Stephen Harper fear index

An A-Z guide of everything the PM tells us to be petrified of

Photo illustration by Sarah Mackinnon and Richard Redditt

Photo illustration by Sarah Mackinnon and Richard Redditt

Stephen Harper’s leadership philosophy is clear: In troubled times, it is the duty of the Prime Minister to rally the people of Canada, bring us all together—and provide us with many, many reasons to freak the hell out. In such matters, Harper takes inspiration from Franklin Roosevelt: The only thing we have to fear is this exhaustive list of terrifying things to fear.

Related: The Conservatives, the party of manly men no more

Alas, it can be hard to keep track of everything we’re supposed to be petrified of. So here is an alphabetical reminder of the threats to our country, according to the PM. Tape it to the fridge and consult it, should you ever begin to feel that things in Canada are going semi-okay.

Coalitions. The Conservative leader has been consistent on this one: Nothing represents a greater menace to the future of the country we love than the chilling prospect of our elected representatives cooperating.

Deficits. As Harper tells it, a budget shortfall will instantly “wreck” the Canadian economy. Sure, Harper ran deficits himself—but his were different. Think of it in terms of a soap opera, where the good guy is invariably revealed to have an evil twin. The bad egg is usually distinguished by a menacing facial characteristic of some kind. And look, whaddaya know: Trudeau’s proposed deficits are totally rocking a goatee.

Elites. What a tragedy it would be for Canadians to heed the words of those who, through education, effort and accomplishment, have at least some clue of what they’re talking about.

Enemies of Israel. This subset includes both genuine and imagined enemies of Israel, up to, and including, people who have tweeted something snarky about Seth Rogen.

Europe. Once a lovely continent known for its tourist attractions and abundant berets, Europe has been reduced by Harper to a threatening symbol of economic turmoil—a contagion that must be quarantined. Do not visit Europe the continent. Do not listen to Europe the band. DO NOT PRONOUNCE EUROPE THE WORD. It’s like Beetlejuice: Say it out loud three times and—poof!—the Greek finance minister will appear in your kitchen and max out your credit card.

Immigrants. The Conservatives are vowing to create a tip line so Canadians can rat out their neighbours to the RCMP for “barbaric cultural practices.” I say it’s about time: My neighbour Brian is of Asian descent and, one afternoon, I saw him barbecuing with his shirt off. Not in my Canada, señor.

Harper’s message is clear: People who come here from other countries are to be welcomed and accepted, unless they say, do or cook anything that seems—and I’m paraphrasing here—“kinda weird.” If nothing else, this campaign has proved that Harper would have made a great dad in the 1950s. Now, now, Beaver. Your school chum says she’s a grateful immigrant following her cultural traditions. But wouldn’t it be doing everyone a favour to have her detained by police, just in case?

Marijuana. Harper tells us weed is “infinitely worse” than tobacco. And he’s right. Smoking kills 40,000 Canadians a year—but that’s nothing compared to the staggering cost of potheads sitting quietly on the couch for three hours.

Niqab. As a Conservative, the PM is a reliable defender of individual freedom, except when confronted by a clear and present threat to national security, such as a couple of women choosing to cover their faces. The veil is terrifying, because there could be anything under there. You might find a person. You might find a different person. Or maybe three young boys stacked on top of each other, trying to order a beer at a strip club. It is therefore in Canada’s best interest to rely on Stephen Harper to set out a national dress code: Ill-fitting blazers for all! Also, remember the haircut you got as a seven-year-old? You now have to keep it for life.

In Harper’s world, we should be suspicious of everyone—except, apparently, political leaders who spent the past decade telling us to focus only on the economy, but who are now suddenly telling us to wet our pants over veiled ladies.

And let’s remember: Harper has a perfect track record at identifying cultural threats. He warned that same-sex weddings would gravely undermine the institution of marriage. Had we listened to him, we wouldn’t today be watching helplessly as millions of Canadians lobby for the right to marry their appliances.

Related: This or that? Find out where you stand this election with the Maclean’s Policy Face-Off Machine

Rival political leaders. According to Harper, Canada is the “greatest country in the world”— but not so great that it could survive a routine change in government without being transformed overnight into a nightmare dystopia defined by economic chaos, civil strife and stoned, veiled toddlers.

Science. Friends, don’t listen to all those lab-coated nerdlingers out there: The environment is totally, 100 per cent fine. * North pole explodes *

Terrorists. For Harper, it’s not enough to be afraid of the few who actually commit acts of terror. We must also be fearful of potential terrorists. And the beauty is: Anyone could be a potential terrorist! Your neighbour. Your veterinarian. Did your barista just give you a weird look? There, there – let Uncle Steve comfort you by pointing out that your cab driver also seems suspicious.

Harper’s message to voters is clear: On Oct. 19, be guided not by your head or your heart, but by the hairs on the back of your neck.


Feschuk: The Stephen Harper fear index

  1. Boy, that guy Harper just loves to release that ‘Kraken Monster’ from its cage, deep in the bowels of the Conservative party war room, on the citizens of this country. This is a sign your party is going in the tank when we elect a government based on wedge politics and not our countries best interests. If Canadians feel they live in a democracy, than it’s hard to notice that, from the sound of this government. Democracy lets people live in freedom, dictatorships don’t do that, they enforce their own ideology on you, like what’s happening now, it’s starting feel more like a dictatorship to me every day, it’s even gotten more creepier to live in this country when we can start to tell people how to dress.

    • Just to add, a question for everyone, if anyone is reading this, How would Canadians feel if a female politician became a member of parliament, wearing a niqab, I would bet this government would have Canadians in pretzel fits. That is where all of this could lead us, if we continue down this slippery slope.

      • Good point, and I hope it happens. Surely there must be one or two muslim women in parliament currently.

        • Perhaps, it’s even unnecessary to be a Muslim.

    • The issue of women (muslim or not) sporting garb such as in the case of the Niqab is not as ambiguous as portrayed by its proponents or oppposers alike. Personally speaking (from experience), I have previously operated a type of commercial business whereby my being able to identify (by facial recognition) who exactly it was entering to request service was tantamount to negating the risk of not only comprimising my safety but also of not being paid. I can still recall those particular “banned” ex- customers repeatedly donning ever increasingly newer “disguises” just so as to breach my security measures. How affable it was to have some even try to disguise their voices while wearing hoodies and sunglasses only to be founded out and forcibly removed. If I and my female companion were to visit, let us say, some Country whereby “Classical World” religious/non-secularism edicts were in force, then I (we) would be obliged to adhere by purchasing said “niquab” for her to sport……but upon returning to CANADA that particular piece of clothing would, in all likelihood, be deposited into the first “round file” located at Pierson International (…as in Lester B. Pierson!). By the way, what’s with all the ANGLO-PHOBIA?

  2. The bigots, fear-mongers and hate-mongers in our midst are just not ready to be decent people.

    Canadians are bigger than all that.

    Thanks for this amusing reveal of the absurdity of the situation. Witnessing our nation being terrorized by folks who want our votes – it’s not always easy to laugh.

    • For all of my life I have proudly been a proponent of religious freedom and I still am. The niqab is not a religious symbol but a symbol of the oppression of females and 82% of Canadians agree. For this reason I am proud of Stephen Harper for making this an issue. It is an issue of human rights but not the kind that the pro-niqab proponents are espousing. I believe women’s rights supercede religious rights.

      • ” I believe women’s rights supercede religious rights.”

        Sure you do, that’s why you think folks like Stephen Harper and Jason Kenney should tell women what their religious symbols are and what they should wear.

      • And women’s rights are whatever you tell them they are eh?

        There is no ethical difference between telling someone that wearing something is required and telling them it is forbidden. Neither statement is worthy of a country that claims to be free. We put ourselves on the same platform as a repressive dictatorship by even attempting to ban this garment.

        If you don’t like the niqab, don’t wear one. If you don’t agree with people wearing them at citizenship ceremonies then I suggest you quit attending them. I’ll bet that far more than 82% of Canadians have never attended a citizenship ceremony and have no clue what happens at one or could explain what part of the process the oath forms .

        • Please stand and remove your hats as you rise to sing the national anthem!
          Hello, think about that!!!

          • Which would be a relevant statement if there was a squad hired by the government to make damn sure you did take that hat off.

            Since we don’t, and since am free to flip the bird to people telling me to take off my hat, I’m thinking we’ll survive a few Muslim ladies wearing a scarf over their face. LOL

      • So, your remedy for women being forced to were the niqab is to force them not to? Where are the women’s rights you’re talking about? Call me a radical, but I believe in the woman’s right to choose.

      • Before you get too proud of your PM for his stand on human rights, remember he is selling arms to Saudi Arabia, where 63% of women wear the niqab, and a further 11% wear the full-on burka. The Canadian armored vehicles will most likely be used by the Saudi government against its own citizens if they ever stir up any trouble agitating for, you know, human rights.

      • How do you rationalize targeting women who you believe are oppressed? If would be like singling out
        Catholic women who don’t use birth control, because you think they are oppressed by their religion.

        • … and the impact on us by women who don’t use birth control is … what?

          • ….and the impact on us by women who wear a niqab is…what?

    • Tell us why does Turkey, Tunisia and Azerbaijan have a ban on wearing niqab/burka? Do your homework!
      And finally we are becoming knowledgeable that is not a religious symbol. Finally, that didn’t take too long, did it? My gosh….

      • I don’t know Jsay… maybe they hate freedom?

        Good job trying to make Turkey, Tunisia and Azerbaijan out as paragons of western democratic values BTW. LOL

        • So, let’s simply wait for the first niqab-wearing suicide bomber to enter the public gallery of our parliament … and introduce a ban.

          • Similar to posting armed guards at the national war memorial without ammunition.

  3. William Blackmore, a polygamist, in Bountiful BC has
    fathered 141 children with 21 wives, some underaged.
    But no outrage. I guess white privilege and advantage
    may be in play here, meaning leniency and indifference.
    We just shrug our shoulders and essentially ignore it.

    But if Blackmore was yellow, brown or black, Canadians
    would be ‘lighting their hair on fire’, fuming and red-faced
    with ‘desk pounding’ anger.

    • Or maybe, it isn’t those cis white male evil-doer canucks that are the problem but it is a failure of the media to inform aforementioned evil Canadians of the situation that is the problem. I am actually quite appalled that someone can be allowed to do that with impunity. However, to vindicate your position that Canadians (only the whites, of course) are all racist, I will admit that I am more appalled that self-confessed paedophiles are also considered prophets for a major religion that has currently corrupted some 2 billion people, most of them brown and therefore blameless…

  4. Of course all the news about terror, that our MSM feeds us 24/7, has nothing to do with our fear levels right? And those ISIS dudes and their beheading videos–hilarious. Look, the fact is that the global economy did take a downturn in 2008, or did Feschuk just miss that? I had friends in the UK, Europe and the US who got kicked in the teeth financially. We’re talking lost retirement funds and homes with negative equity. They are also dealing with heightened levels of racism and violence, the likes of which we are just not seeing here in Canada. But in order to have a global picture, you need to not live in a closet with people who think just like you. Our insularity is just as big a problem.

    • The world economy was in a severe recession when the NDP came to power in Ontario, too, but right-wingers still specifically blame that party for the financial mess and have claimed since then that social democrats can’t be trusted with government or public finances.

      Well, maybe it’s just the Conservatives’ turn to be blamed, or maybe it’s time for the right-wing to either shut up or be branded as hypocrites.

  5. Feschuk has a whole list of nonsense foisted on us by this government. Why have all the comments above, save two, been about something that has come about because of one idiosyncratic woman? Get with the program!! The niqab is the least of the reasons why the man needs to be dumped. One woman’s choice of clothing has turned into a giant red herring that is deflecting attention from far worse threats to Canada. For Pete’s sake, let’s pay attention to the rest of the list if you are looking at government performance for the past four years and not get sidetracked by our would-be dictator’s least important wedge issue.

    • I think this gets so much airtime because of the absolute absurdity of the whole thing, and because it gives racists a chance to feel normal for change.

      I agree it’s a distraction, but then again it does give us a real good look into the values that Harper thinks are most important… too bad rights and freedoms don’t rank eh?

      Voting ABC.

  6. It’s Lynton Crosby’s “dead cat” strategy. http://www.thetyee.ca/Opinion/2015/10/05/Fear-Hijacked-Campaign-2015/ Unfortunately, even when it is pointed out, people persist in talking about the dead cats, rather than how despicable the strategy is. (Which really shows how effective this strategy is.) The Liberals and NDP really need to get on top of this, start calling the Cons on this strategy and get back to the reason WHY the Cons are using it – to divert attention from themselves and their abusive behaviour.

  7. You left out … activists, Canadian-owned Wheat Marketing Boards, clean air, clean water, environmentalists, First Nations Peoples, any form of transportation that doesn’t run on fossil fuels, money-grubbing charities, veterans, youth voters …

  8. even former President Clinton has stated Europe is a disaster and a shadow of its former self. Majority of Canadians disagree with the covering of faces during the swearing in ceremony, is everyone wrong. Interestingly this is a woman’s rights issue and the Conservatives get nailed for supporting a woman’s right not to be covered and being shamed into a non-person; yet the left who are a beacon think its ok.

    • “… the Conservatives get nailed for supporting a woman’s right not to be covered… ”

      So sorry, but you’ve entirely misapprehended the issue you’re commenting on.

    • Nice Orwellian speak there LDAWG… banning the right to self-determination is NOT a defense of self-determination, no matter what you tell yourself.

      No one has a right to tell anyone else what they must believe, what their faith says or means or what their culture is or isn’t.

      Let her wear the damn scarf at a public ceremony. What’s it to you anyways?

    • Men have been telling women what they should or should not wear forever. This is not standing up for women’s rights.

  9. Great text, but let’s be clear: Canada became the greatest country in the world when Harper became PM. Before that, it was a failed socialst experiment.

  10. Well I, for one, can’t wait for Harper to establish his tip line so Canadians can rat out their neighbours to the RCMP for “barbaric cultural practices.” We all can call and tell the RCMP about how, pursuant to an ancient religious practice, our Jewish neighbours circumcise newborn baby boys without their consent! In fact, this is a long-standing practice generally in North American culture. Check out http://www.jewsagainstcircumcision.org, which opens with the statement, “We are a group of educated and enlightened Jews who realize that the barbaric, primitive, torturous, and mutilating practice of circumcision has no place in modern Judaism.” Why rip a niqab off a self-determining, self-actualizing adult female when you can peek into the little guy’s Huggies and then call the RCMP and turn in your neighbours?

  11. This article is nonsense and political folly. It presumes that PM Harper is politically motivated and not genuinely concerned. No one is saying that every refugee is a potential terrorist, but who can disagree that adequate screens ought be in place where ISIS has promised to send its jihadists into the Western countries exactly by the process of emigration? Canada’s culture is honoured the world over. It is worth protecting. For those who are skeptical, please look at the European experience, particularly Sweden, which prides itself on being culturally diverse.

    About “wedge” politics and the accusations of the left that this is divisive politicking, what nonsense. This presumes that if one is concerned about national security, one must be conservative. Only two party leaders in this election have been documented as attending closed-door (non-public) meetings in mosques. Are these agenda forming meetings with select religious and cultural minorities not divisive? How about this for divisive politics: Trudeau’s comments that Canada is not looking good internationally because the government is controlled from the West, or that all of the best PMs come from the East!

    • If you’re getting your information from Ezra Levant your opinions have little credibility.

  12. What about Winston Blackmore in Bountiful BC who
    fathered 141 children with 21 wives, some apparently
    underaged at the time. Polygamy practiced under the
    Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
    Where is the outrage, Canada? Are we indifferent because
    Blackmore is white?

  13. For conservatives, it’s always been about the “monster under the bed”. Right now the monster du jour is those “dirty Muslims” (except for the Saudis; for some inexplicable reason they LOVE those Saudis and their money). Before that the monster was the “dirty queers”, and before that the “dirty commies” (basically anyone to the left of them). And 80 years ago it was the “dirty Jews”.

    Well, come to think of it, deep in the shrunken, black heart of their shrunken, black hearts, they still don’t really like any of the old monsters, but their hatred is merely simmering on the back burners, while their hatred of the new monster is at a rolling boil.

    Canada cannot survive as a noble nation with such bigots in office. If we keep them, we lose our soul. If we keep them marginalized, however, we may stand a chance.

  14. It is true that Stephen Harper has taught me to fear. What I fear most is another Conservative Party of Canada government led by Stephen Harper. Why? It would take a book to list the ill advised policies, ill advised actions taken by, ill advised trade deals signed by and ill advised legislation introduced by the federal government over the last 10 years… and then there are the multiple convictions for contempt of parliament and criminal activity on the part of various government members and associates – with likely more to come. The bottom line is that under Harper’s leadership Canada isn’t Canada any more. What a mess!

    I wonder how many people are fooled into voting “Conservative” not realizing that the current “Conservative” party is a merger of the Reform and Alliance parties and has only the slightest of connections to the Progressive Conservative party of Canada that was dissolved in 2003

    Already Voted – ABC.

  15. I think that all the people who want to invite a fascist race to live in Canada should be financially and socially responsible for them. I think said people should house them in their homes while paying and feeding them. That way you have your freedom to do this. Now my freedom is not to have my money go towards housing and feeding a people I believe , not from Harpers views but from watching world news and history, that practices Sharia Law, . will cause , is causing major insults to our social system, , are dangerous . That is my freedom, my opinion and when my freedoms are taken away as a Canadian in Canada by non Canadians then you are violating my rights which is something Trudeau does very well.

    • When you say ‘fascist race’ – who exactly are you referring to?

  16. I did not here him state we should be petrified .

    • No, it’s a little more subtle – but it’s obvious you’ve heard the dog whistle.

  17. Try as I might, I fail to see anything funny coming from Feschuk’s pen.

    • I think he typed this.

      His pen is probably sitting in an old coffee mug on his desk though. And if you checked, I’m sure it is one of those pens where funny stuff comes out.
      … If you think ink’s funny.

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