Howard’s way: Stephen Harper’s twisted walk back on Iraq


From our issue of Jan. 29, 2007 this is my best attempt to trace Stephen Harper’s evolution on the Iraq war, a trajectory that would break a snake’s back. Nut graf:

I belabour these points because, as soon as the Iraq adventure went sour, Harper put as much distance as he could between himself and his erstwhile allies, Bush, Tony Blair and Australia’s John Howard. Say what you will about their wisdom; at least they stuck with their policy after it became unpopular. Harper cut and ran.


Howard’s way: Stephen Harper’s twisted walk back on Iraq

  1. Paul, an excerpt of Harper’s apology to the Americans for Canada’s refusal to follow them into the war would be even better. I’ve been looking for that “speech” for some time to no avail.

  2. The “silent majority” one? More Foreign talking points!

    I’d really like to know how the media could do so much on the Howard/Harper lovefest and miss this.

    I guess I can’t be too upset though – it’s not like he’s ever been to the land down under or spoken there.

  3. Apology to the Americans? When was that?

  4. And that Khan report? Them’s good readings eh?


    Not public?

    I highly doubt that, Mr. Harper promised… what?

    Oh. I see.

  5. Apology to the Americans? When was that?

    Harper and Day’s letter in The Wall Street Journal, March 2003.

  6. March 28, 2003, to be precise.

    Anyone wanting to read it should just do a search for “Canadians Stand With You” — the text is easy to find online.

  7. (Reposting of link I posted on other thread)

    My guess as to why Harper has gotten a (relatively) free pass on Iraq over the last 3-4 years —

    It was a pretty decisive factor in the 2004 re-think of him — used in the Liberal ad which made such a difference.

    It’s a card that can be played once with major effect. It’s been played.

  8. Would that “other thread” of which you speak be in…Australia, by any chance, Ben?

  9. This one.

    Will the Howard thing mean that this gets new life? Maybe.

    But — as stated in that other comment — I expect the PM and his spokespeople will greet this with silence and/or evasion.

    Will it work? Beats me. Seems to have, till this week…

  10. Oh, here’s a (slightly off-topic) question for you, Wells —

    How would you compare Harper’s evasions on his Iraq position with, say, Ignatieff’s public agonizing & retraction in the New York Times during the 2006 Liberal leadership race?

    Is the rather Stalinistic memory hole of PM SH preferable to the moralizing of Ignatieff, or should we applaud Ignatieff’s honesty and condemn Harper’s political expedience? [Or should we string them both up?]

    (Mind you, Harper hasn’t retracted his 2003 words — he just says that he wouldn’t put troops in Iraq now, and he really would prefer just not to talk about March ’03. :p)

  11. Ben, I find Ignatieff’s retraction unpersuasive — and if I had a functioning blog archive I’d show you where I wrote that — but at least he tried to square his former position with his change of heart. Harper simply rules entire periods of his life inoperative. Mind you, that’s admirably cheeky….I call it a draw.

  12. I remember reading something like that at the time.

    Was just interested in how you might compare the two.


    But this is of a piece with other aspects of the PM’s political persona, isn’t it? The very libertarian opposition leader now comes out against flavoured pipe tobacco. The NCC head who fought (justly) for the right of third party advertisers to participate in election campaigns now gleefully uses spending limit and donation limit laws to smother the Liberals. The guy who penned “The Quebec Contingency Act” now stands against the man who wrote the Clarity Act in Quebec as defender of the Quebecois nation.

    It’s really quite breathtaking in its audacity, isn’t it?

  13. (I’m guessing there’s an article waiting to be written about Harper and all that stuff, and Disraeli and the Corn Laws.)

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