The readable Harper

An unofficial collection of the PM’s freely available writings, for all your educational or objectionable purposes

by Aaron Wherry

090828_harperInterestingly enough, Stephen Harper’s Parliamentary bio does not list him as minivan-driving middle class hockey dad, but as an “author, economist, lecturer.” Unfortunately, the Prime Minister lacks the easily accessible paper trail of his primary rival. Though there are a few good reads to be found.

There is, for instance, Our Benign Dictatorship, a meditation on Canadian democracy co-written with Tom Flanagan in the 90s. There is also the Alberta Agenda proposal (the so-called “Firewall letter”), an open letter sent to Ralph Klein in 2001. Not to mention the famous (infamous?) speech to the National Council on Policy in 1997.

His Parliamentary page lists two books—his 1991 Master’s thesis and his 2003 agreement with Peter MacKay to establish the Conservative Party of Canada. Two articles for Time magazine are mentioned, but neither seem to be accessible through Time’s website. His writing for Report magazine appears to be available, if you have a subscription to High Beam. Reprints of various speeches published in Policy Options are available by searching that archive. His essay for William Gairdner’s After Liberalism is available if you buy the book. Copies of his speeches while with the National Citizens Coalition are not available. Copies of his speeches as Prime Minister are here.

Before becoming Prime Minister, Mr. Harper penned numerous letters, op-eds and the like for the National Post and Globe, but those pieces don’t appear to be online (unless, say, you work for a national magazine and have an account with Infomart). The Post, in particular, has a large stash of the Prime Minister’s writing and would likely stand to generate significant web traffic by making such stuff available (just saying).

Otherwise, you can fiddle around with the Internet Archive in search of whatever remains from oneconservativevoice.ca and stephenharper.ca. Or sacrifice hours to reviewing old copies of Hansard.




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The readable Harper

  1. Why care about anything he wrote when you can't believe a word he says?

  2. Yeah unfortunately the current prime minister isn't really much of a philosopher/writer/thinker kind of guy. But our next prime minister is respected around the world for his contributions to the global think tank that is the world of ideas and policy.

  3. According to Proquest, Stephen Harper has authored more than 250 essays, articles, and letters that have appeared in Canadian newspapers and periodicals over the last 23 years.

    • I think the actual number of those by the PM is South of 200 (there's a literary scholar by the name of Stephen C. Harper, and another author named Stephen T Harper) however your point still totally stands. I wouldn't quibble at all with calling him an "author".

      Now, "economist"…

    • That's not exactly true, many of those articles were written by other Stephen Harpers out there, and many of the articles are listed twice in the search results.

  4. Not to mention the famous (infamous?) speech to the National Council on Policy in 1997.

    Yeah, but did he write it himself, or did he crib John Howard?

    • He wrote it himself. Unless you found something in it that could get him in trouble, in which case a sacrifical staffer will be along shortly to fall on his pen.

  5. Ten years before he recognized Quebec as a "nation", Stephen Harper wrote this:

    Federal Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Stephane Dion recently asserted that he entered politics “to challenge myths and false ideas.'' At certain times he has done so and quite forcefully. Other times he has demonstrated a capacity for myth-making of his own. For example, it is asserted that the distinct-society concept could not possibly mean special status for Quebec. Yet, when Reformers attempted to amend the distinct-society resolution in Parliament to specify that it could not grant special powers, limit individual rights or weaken Canadian sovereignty, Liberals and Conservatives quickly joined the Bloc Quebecois in opposition.

    Much more serious are two myths habitually repeated by distinct-society federalists – the most critical myths of the separatist cause. They reinforce the ethnic nationalism of the sovereignty movement and undermine federalism in Quebec.

    Myth No. 1: Quebec's distinctiveness is not recognized in Canada. During the heyday of the Brian Mulroney-Lucien Bouchard partnership, Quebec's federal politicians began to assert that the refusal to entrench a distinct-society clause constitutionally represents a rejection of Quebec and Quebecers. Specifically, it represents a rejection of anything that makes Quebec distinct, including its French language, culture and civil-code tradition. Dion continued, describing concern about special status as “the sole concrete argument . . . advanced against recognizing Quebec's distinctiveness.''

    History students know that legal recognition of Quebec's character dates back at least as far as the Quebec Act of 1774. Its civil-code powers and other jurisdictions are specified in the Constitution Act of 1867. Successive Quebec governments have created cultural institutions and adopted comprehensive French-language laws.

    Genuine federalists in Quebec should assert the reality that Canada has long embraced it. They should attack the Parti Quebecois's xenophobic fringe, with its language police and its desire to drive more non-francophones out of the province.

  6. Ten years before he recognized Quebec as a "nation", Stephen Harper wrote this:

    Federal Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Stephane Dion recently asserted that he entered politics “to challenge myths and false ideas.'' At certain times he has done so and quite forcefully. Other times he has demonstrated a capacity for myth-making of his own. For example, it is asserted that the distinct-society concept could not possibly mean special status for Quebec. Yet, when Reformers attempted to amend the distinct-society resolution in Parliament to specify that it could not grant special powers, limit individual rights or weaken Canadian sovereignty, Liberals and Conservatives quickly joined the Bloc Quebecois in opposition.

    Much more serious are two myths habitually repeated by distinct-society federalists – the most critical myths of the separatist cause. They reinforce the ethnic nationalism of the sovereignty movement and undermine federalism in Quebec.

    Myth No. 1: Quebec's distinctiveness is not recognized in Canada. During the heyday of the Brian Mulroney-Lucien Bouchard partnership, Quebec's federal politicians began to assert that the refusal to entrench a distinct-society clause constitutionally represents a rejection of Quebec and Quebecers. Specifically, it represents a rejection of anything that makes Quebec distinct, including its French language, culture and civil-code tradition. Dion continued, describing concern about special status as “the sole concrete argument . . . advanced against recognizing Quebec's distinctiveness.''

    History students know that legal recognition of Quebec's character dates back at least as far as the Quebec Act of 1774. Its civil-code powers and other jurisdictions are specified in the Constitution Act of 1867. Successive Quebec governments have created cultural institutions and adopted comprehensive French-language laws.

    Genuine federalists in Quebec should assert the reality that Canada has long embraced it. They should attack the Parti Quebecois's xenophobic fringe, with its language police and its desire to drive more non-francophones out of the province.

  7. Can we clear up the "economist" bit? When, and in what precise capacity did Stephen Harper ever work as an economist?

    • It's more a lifestyle choice thing, I think, like my time as a U-boat captain.

    • He gives his kids an allowance every week, doesn't he?

    • One can be an economist by training.

  8. Correction Aaron he has 3 books, he counts the MacKay thing twice (english and french)… total 15 pages.
    Question: Would
    Agreement-in-principle on the establishment of the Conservative Party of Canada or even
    Entente de principe sur l'établissement du Parti conservateur du Canada
    be considered published books?

    • Would Harper even have written the agreement-in-principle thingy himself? Usually, these things are written by staff for the boss's approval.

      • Everything is written by underlings. If you don't have underlings and you're trying to influence many thoughts and minds, you're probably too smalltime to make a difference.

        Next you'll tell me JFK actually wrote Profiles in Courage.

        • "Everything is written by underlings."

          Would you include his thesis, since he appears to have lumped it in with the pamphlet under books he has written? To claim authorship to something written by your staff is dishonest. Harper went to university, he should know this.

  9. Now who's spamming?

    • Quiet, dear.

    • It's not spamming, it's a filibuster.

      • If I could have linked to those, I would have. Unfortunately, they're not available for free online.

        • they are now… thanks for breaking the law.

          • It's fair use. These are mere excerpts of much longer published works. 100% legal.

  10. O my Jesus, one of his books is seven pages long – and he had a co-author, Peter Mackay. That is seven? as in 7? ???

    • But the french version is 8

    • Peter helped with the punctuation and grammar.

    • Take out the bibliography and the dedication page "To JH; my blessings and unwavering gratitude in faux liberalism" and I think you're down to 5 pages and a bookmark.

  11. I think it's innerestin that Iggy's opus is so readily available even though the sources/publishers are mostly or all outside of Canada. Harper's ouvre, on the other hand, if you want it, you have to have memberships, subscriptions, etc to the orgs associated. When I was in school, I was always ticked off by the fact that I couldn't get scholarly articles readily from CD Howe, CTF, etc. It's a tribute to those countries in general, and the US in particular, that public access to that calibre of scholarship is so readily available. Try it. Go on the Hoover Institute, Manhattan Institute, Cato Institute website and you'll find all sorts of interesting things that you won't see. Knowledge is king and the US is rightly the centre of the universe.

  12. If you're really curious, you could always visit a public library and most of Harper's oeuvre will be available to you for free.

    • Damn those socialistic book-sharing dens of iniquity!

  13. If I had an employee who wrote stuff like this I'd call it "padding the resume". I would like to have a database of all these writings so that we could see how many times he has reversed himself. Harper is not an economist – he is a politician with an economics degree. He might have some standing if he had ever had a real job. He is probably dizzy from spinning around and can't make the distinction.

  14. Did Stephen Harper spank his children?

    ""Finally, while my six-year-old may have a different opinion, I think that criminalizing spanking…makes a mockery of common sense." ('Now is the time for social conservatives to move forward, not retrench', Alberta Report, Jan 21 2002)

  15. Just curious how many articles and books have been published by all of you guys who are bashing Harper with your comments?

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