Reading between the lines of Harper’s fifth anniversary speech

Scott Feschuk on what the prime minister was really thinking


Friends, today we celebrate our fifth anniversary!

The traditional gift to mark a fifth anniversary is wood, so I brought along my natural disposition. Enjoy!

So, it’s been five years! What a day. What a time. And what a journey it has been, my friends, since the people of Canada gave us their trust!

Throughout this speech, I’m going to persist in referring to you as “my friends,” even though we all know I would sooner stab myself in the face with a fork than have a 20-minute conversation with any of you. I therefore say in conclusion: My friends, please do not attempt to make eye contact.

It’s almost hard to remember what Canada looked like that winter.

Was it triangular? Paisley? Only historians can be certain.

Back then, back in the winter of 2006, the sponsorship scandal hung heavily in the air! Lobbyists ran Ottawa! People had lost faith in the ability – and in the integrity – of their national government!

There was blood in the streets! The only clothing at our disposal was burlap and wet newspaper! Cats and dogs were living together, and it wasn’t nearly as adorable as you might at first imagine!

You could almost say that it really seemed like a Canadian winter!

Our budget was in surplus! Our unemployment rate was low! Our debt was declining! SWEET MERCY IT WAS A VERITABLE HELLSCAPE!

Let’s spend a moment – just a moment – not on the what, but upon the why. For ours is not a party of entitlement. We’re not in Ottawa because we think we’re owed or for what we can get.

We’re in Ottawa because the vast majority of my caucus is otherwise unemployable.

For Conservatives, it is about public service and public service means private sacrifice. As it must, my friends, as it must.

For instance, I once hurt my pinky finger jamming with Barenaked Ladies at my taxpayer-funded rural retreat! Also, I must make do with a single hair stylist despite having, at last count, many hairs.

So why do we do it? I think you know.

Unchecked God complex?

We are here because we love Canada!


We’re proud of Canada.

Except for anything it did, accomplished, succeeded at or aspired to prior to January 23, 2006.

But, when we say we love Canada, what is it that we love? The snow? The ice?

The easy stereotypes?

The 49th Parallel? The programs? The agencies?

The excessive use of rhetorical questions?

No, of course not. Those are all important things….

The 49th parallel is particularly important. If Michael Ignatieff has his way, he’d surely turn it into the 49th perpendicular. And then where would we be? Sideways, my friends. Sideways.

You cannot tax your way to prosperity. You cannot regulate your way to efficiency. You cannot earn respect by projecting weakness.

You cannot stop believin’! You cannot fear the reaper! You must not pay the ferryman! DON’T EVEN FIX A PRICE!

Canadians are a fair people. They want Canadian values to mean honesty, integrity and opportunity for all. And that – not rewards or payoffs, not power for its own sake – is what we, as Conservatives, strive for in our national government.

In fact, I eschew power in all its forms, preferring instead to operate my government as an anarcho-syndicalist commune. I believe Rona is in charge today.

So, for five years, we have been making good decisions, not perfect decisions but good decisions, and for the right reasons, for Canadians.

Frankly, I was going to say they were perfect decisions but then I remembered, oh yeah, the Mike Duffy thing.

We started with the Federal Accountability Act. After the sponsorship scandal, the HRDC boondoggle and all the rest, how much we needed to restore trust in government! Typically, these changes were fought all the way.

The Federal Accountability Act swiftly passed the House and was described by New Democrat MP Pat Martin – Pat Martin – as “an accomplishment we can be quite proud of.”

But, in the end, we got them passed.

Somehow we managed to get it done with the support of only everyone.

Canadians have been deeply concerned about crime, especially about gun, gang and drug violence. So we have taken action to make our streets and communities safer.

We have taken action. And then, after I prorogued Parliament and rendered that action moot, we have taken that exact same action again. And then, after I prorogued Parliament yet again, we have once more taken that very same action. It’s all part of my commitment to protecting the safety of my own political career.

Sometimes [fighting crime] means taking the bad guys out of circulation for a while. So that’s what we’re doing. Does it cost money? Yes. Is it worth it? Just ask a victim!

Unless that person happened to be a victim at any point during the past three years, during which I kept killing my own crime bills.

Canadians expect to live in a country where they don’t have to worry when they turn off the lights at night, where they don’t have to look over their shoulders as they walk down the street; where they can expect to find their car where they parked it.

You heard me – we are going to ELIMINATE ALL CRIME. Turn off your lights, Canadians! Walk boldly through the sketchiest parts of town! Leave your cars unlocked in high-target areas! You shall be protected by eventual legislation!

…today, the Conservative Party of Canada is the first choice among hard-working, law-abiding New Canadian voters!

And once more, a Canadian political party boldly refuses to speak up for the interests of lazy criminals who’ve always been here.

We have delivered strong, stable, economic leadership. It has been a very difficult couple of years in the global economy… It has been an historic, unprecedented challenge.

Sure, during the Depression the jobless rate hit 27%. And sure, the 1970s were pretty tough. And sure, in the early 1980s, inflation was out of control and interest rates were at 20%. And sure, unemployment during the early 1990s was way higher than it ever got during the past couple years. But still – unprecedented!

But, we have met it with unprecedented success. When the worldwide recession came to our door, we took action!

Granted, it stood there for eight or nine months before we noticed it. That’s what the doorbell is for, recession!

Canada’s Economic Action Plan kickstarted activity from coast to coast to coast, through more than 23,000 projects.

22,986 of which were Economic Action Plan signs.

The result is more than 460,000 net new jobs, the soundest financial sector in the world, five consecutive quarters of economic growth the lowest deficit and debt among the G8 in most cases by far.

And “by far” I of course mean “except for Germany.”

Because of all this, the unqualified assessment of the world that, my friends, [is] that if you had to pick one major developed country in which to live, work and invest, Canada would be the place!

Entire world: It is our unqualified assessment that our own nations are fetid poopholes and Canada is the greatest country in the world to live, work and invest in.

Some guy in France: I don’t know – Sweden is pretty cool. And I sure wouldn’t mind living in New York or Paris or London or Berlin or–

Entire world glares at guy in France.

Some guy in France: Fine, Canada.

My friends, I haven’t told you the half of it. For five years, we have been busy, incredibly busy.

You try running a country while prepping for a three-week gig at the Ramada Airport Hotel piano lounge. P.S. Tip your servers.

You know, I think back, to that night, five years ago today. We – Ben and Rachel, Laureen and myself – were with friends at a hotel in Calgary, watching the results come in. And you know, I can see Ben and Rachel and, boy, they were a lot smaller then.

Why, Ben’s fingers were barely big enough to congratulate his father that night with a firm handshake!

In 2006, some [Canadians] voted for our party. Some of them didn’t.

Most of them didn’t.

Anyway, there came a point where, it was clear that we were going to be the next government. You realize that in some ways, the futures of the kids of every Canadian family are partly in your hands.

I am trying to connect with you on a human level. To avoid injury, please remain still and the moment will pass. Let’s get through this together and never speak of it again.

But we have a duty to all of them … to protect them, to serve them, to help them pursue their dreams.

Unless they’ve ever left the country and lived abroad, in which case: traitors!

I said then that Canada’s Conservatives would govern with hope. With hope, and not with fear.

Don’t you see – the media have been wrong about me all along. Those vicious attack ads. The vitriol in Question Period. The vendettas and settling of scores. All along I’ve been hopemongering.

We have made Canada more united, stronger, more prosperous, and a safer country! This party, the Conservative Party of Canada, has walked its talk, and it has earned the trust of the Canadian people.

Sometimes slightly more than one-third of them at a time!

In these five years, I have travelled continuously right across this country to meet the people who are the foundations of Canada. The truck driver. The bank teller. The pensioner. The salesperson. The farmer, the fisherman. The entrepreneur, the autoworker. The tradesperson and the soldier.

“Hello, the salesperson,” I’d say. And then I’d off on my next exciting adventure!

They are the ones we serve. These people love Canada. They love it deeply. And whoever has the honour to lead them must care about them and must love Canada as much as they do!

/ reveals flag lapel pin… pierced through left nipple.

Since we took office our government has, with the exception of the Navy, re-equipped the Armed Forces – and the Navy is next.

John Baird has offered to help design new sailor outfits.

My friends, fellow Conservatives, we have travelled a long road to reach this place. And just as I thank Laureen, and Ben and Rachel, for all that they have had to put up with over the years …

/ glares at Peter MacKay

Just remember, this is not our destination. This is not our journey’s end. We are not people who, as the poet puts it, “Travel for the sake of trafficking alone.”

Nor are we the people who, as the poet puts it, are “from Nantucket.”

Truly in our hearts we have a greater purpose. A greater purpose, than to hold power only for the sake of holding power.

For power must not merely be held – but vigorously exercised and ideally used as a truncheon upon one’s critics, foes and subordinates. Otherwise it goes stale. That’s just science.

[Canada] must be a country of hope, and an example to the world. Only when it is these things, when Canada is all that it can be, only then can we say that our work is done!

But wait, I already said Canada was a country of hope and the unqualified greatest country in world. Guess my work here is done. Harper awaaaaaaaaay!

I thank all of you for how far you’ve brought us.

I thank all of you for how far you’ve brought me.

Filed under:

Reading between the lines of Harper’s fifth anniversary speech

  1. Ohhhh this is PRICELESS! Thank you!

    My favourite line….

    "Granted, it stood there for eight or nine months before we noticed it. That's what the doorbell is for, recession!"

    Now my ribs hurt I laughed so much!!

  2. The sad part is that I initially thought you'd made up all of it, not just the comments in bold.

  3. I laughed so hard I woke up my (finally) napping baby. SO THANKS A LOT, FESCHUK, WHY DO YOU HATE BABIES??!?

  4. Must say, I was rather saddened to see you left out any mockery of the "beer and popcorn" reference. Mockery of mockery of mockery. Very meta.

    Poor Scott. He was in our office a while back. I refrained.

  5. Typo in the headline. No "n" in Lies.

  6. I did the same double takes when I watched it. It is just one lie after another with this dismal Government. As I already said at CBC.ca:

    "He did not dissappoint!

    He used all the same tired talking points that he has used for the last five years. He exaggerated every accomplishment and seemed to forget to mention all of the many ridiculous Un-Canadian, politically motivated, vote buying, divisive, tactics that he has used to remain in Power these five years.

    I will not bother to mention them either. I am sure others will. The list does not fit within the allowable length of a post here.

    Let the games begin!

  7. Stephen Harper: "I've never met a lie I'm not willing to tell while thumping my chest!"

    Anyone else get the impression our Prime Mismanager (and the Ice Tea Party he leads) is just a male, less pretty, but more petty version of Sarah Palin? He doesn't shoot moose, he writes about hockey. He doesn't show up on Dancing with the Stars, but he sings and plays the piano — and in those instances, even I want to cut funding to the arts… just a little bit.

    But like Sarah Palin discussing Tucson, he wildly complains of being persecuted by what others say or do while at the same time doing the EXACT thing about which he is complaining to the VERY PEOPLE about whom he is complaining…

    He is ALWAYS the "Victim"…

    And NOBODY in the media EVER calls him out on this hypocrisy!

    Think about it.

    • The big difference between Harper and Palin is that while both wrap themselves in "real" American/Canadian stereotypes – Palin can actually fire a gun to hit a moose standing a stones throw away, but Harper apparently can't skate worth a sh**.

  8. You nailed it calmecam!!!!!!! Booooooooooooom.

  9. I can hardly wait until the media and the Opposition get their act together! And they will. It is coming! This is a good start , Macleans!Then it is Soooooolong Harper!!!!!!! Wooden anniversary is your last! How appropriate, wooden face!

  10. Excellent entertainment for all the Harper-Haters Scott!!!!

  11. We're proud of Canada.

    Except for anything it did, accomplished, succeeded at or aspired to prior to January 23, 2006

    And shall henceforth be referred to as BSH – before Stephen Harper.

  12. By far, unprecedented ,some, all, most, hope…

    It's almost as if Mr Harper never actually learned that words have consequences and meaning.

  13. SH could also have said

    "Let ye go forth into the shops and streets now and spend, for verily the recession hath passed away and – oops. Ye must now tighten your belts (but not mine) for a great plague of debt cometh forthwith and woe be unto ye who have bowed to the plastic god and not to me.

  14. Such a large, generous country. Such a small, petty man.

  15. You can really see some spots where Harper is trying to be a populist like Barack and he just doesn't cut it.

  16. Honestly, I think an anarcho-syndicalist commune would be an improvement at this point.

  17. p.s. Great piece, Scott! Bang-on.

    When Kady O'Malley was liveblogging the speech she commented that it could have used some editing. Some people have been wondering if Harper wrote it himself. "We are not people who, as the poet puts it, “Travel for the sake of trafficking alone.”" WTF???

    • Sure, we do some trafficking on the side, but we mostly travel because it's educational.

      • Oops, I thought he was quoting Cheech and Chong, but apparently he was misquoting James Elroy Fletcher:

        We travel not for trafficking alone;
        By hotter winds our hearts are fanned:
        For lust of knowing what should not be known
        We take the Golden Road to Samarkand.

        Good to see he's conceded the fact of anthropogenic global warming…

        • Oops, James Elroy Flecker.


      We are the Sheeple, master; we shall go
      Always a little further: it may be
      Beyond that last blue mountain barred with votes,
      Across that angry or glowering Harper,

      …Whilst on my throne or guarded in a cave
      There lives a puppetteer who understands
      Why men were born: but surely we are brave,
      Who take the Tarnished Road to HarperLand.

      Sweet to ride forth at evening from Mr. Baird
      When shadows pass gigantic on the Duff,
      And softly through the weave beat hairgel
      Along the Tarnished Road to HarperLand.

      We travel not for trafficking alone;
      By mighty winds our fiery mouths are fanned:
      For lust of knowing what should not be known
      We make the Tarnished Journey to HarperLand.

  18. He stole that "my friends" thing from John McCain.

    • Yes Dubh, and it is as pathetic as ever.

    • Biblical references if you ask me. 13 times he said "my friends" – apostles, or tribes of Israel? And pointing people out at the same time. Evangelism. Code for believers. What a bland, commonplace, boring, inane, stupid speech. Unbelievable that we have such a horribly smarmy PM; talks like he's speaking to a Sunday School group – seriously.

      Second career – Preacher. Mark my words.

      • No, I think it was 14 times. So 12 Apostles, plus Jesus, plus Harper – pointing like Jesus in the Caravaggio painting of Matthew in the pub — OR 13 Tribes of Israel, plus Harper. Friends.

        That's why the speeches are so awful. He is unconcerned with politics or leading the country any more, if he ever was. Lost his marbles.

        • Maybe McVety is his new speech writer.

  19. I consider it his Black Swan speech, now he's about to throw himself off the mountain onto the mattress. Hey, remember that pirate speech?

    Headline writers across the country cast the speech as a declaration of war or fear-mongering, while columnists and reporters covering the event referred to the speech as a diatribe and…

    … noted the “stony silence” of the lunch-time crowd.

    Deputy Liberal leader Ralph Goodale, a former finance minister himself, lambasted the Flaherty speech as a “sad spectacle.” “It was pathetic to see a Minister of Finance reduced to such a degrading spectacle,” Goodale told reporters Wednesday.

    Goodale said he's convinced the speech was written by the Prime Minister's Office and that it will damage Flaherty's reputation in economic circles. “That text was not written by any serious person within the department of Finance,” Goodale said, suggesting that when Flaherty speaks in future on economic matters, observers may assume he's delivering partisan spin. Flaherty has “degraded the currency,” Goodale said.

  20. "Sure, during the Depression the jobless rate hit 27%. And sure, the 1970s were pretty tough. And sure, in the early 1980s, inflation was out of control and interest rates were at 20%. And sure, unemployment during the early 1990s was way higher than it ever got during the past couple years. But still – unprecedented!"

    Wow…. this coming from the same media that has been running in circles for two years declaring that the sky is falling. It's hard to criticize Harper for stating the same things that you've been ranting on about for years.

  21. I would never vote for this man, regardless of what party he ran for. I have never in my entire life seen a politician that I dislike as much as him, except maybe for Bush. It is probably a tie between the two.

    One more thing. If The Harp's recent attack ad against Iggy has truth in its contents, then the Libs had better get Iggy out of the picture. As disgusting as the ad is, so are the things that Iggy supposedly said. And I have yet to hear or read something from Iggy that indicates that he did not say those things. Even the media has not investigated to see if the ad is true to form. Why not, McLeans?

  22. Hmm……I wonder if John above, is the same commentor who indicatded that terrorism is the fault of US foreign Policy?

    If so….my bad. I accused you of being a Liberal, when in fact you are undoubtedly an NDP'er from the LIbby davies side of the house.

    IF you come back and say you believe 9/11 was an inside job, then I'll have to correct my comments and accuse you of supporting the Greens.

  23. Oh I'm sure I'll get a blast from him at tonight's shill meeting.

    • Will there be Tim Horton's coffee and timbits? Remember, lattées are the dangerous energy elixirs of the liberal elite. Drink one of those, and you will become perpetually out of touch.

      • Wanna know how many elite coffee places there are in Harper's Calgary riding?

    • Great……while you're there, tell Aaron and Paul I said hi.

  24. This Feschuk commentary was total waste of press space. Humour is a writing category the author has very little talent for. Please Maclean's hire writers who know how to research and produce an informational article or editorial that assists us readers to personally analyze the political landscape. Our press is one of only a few black marks in our Canadian way of life
    Its inability to research is puzzling..

    • The internet! Total waste of ink!

      • Sorry O humourless Harper Toady — it was hysterically funny. Still is – I'm framing it.

    • I suppose you forgot to read the category tags because if you did, you would notice that this is a blog entry, which as Helga noted, is not going occupy any space in the magazine.

      • Too bad, it might shake a few staid conservative readers up.

  25. I would say that this column is brilliant – except that it merely points out the obvious to everyone who has brains enough to realize that Harper is making THE most ridiculous political speech I have ever heard in my entire life. We were in tears laughing at it. Scott is really good, but it isn't rocket science to pick enormous holes in this farce of a Prime Minister.

    This is not a Prime Minister; this is a parasite! He's as weird as it gets – have you seen the amount of makeup this man wears? How much "sculpting" is done to his face? Spray in his hair? How obsessed he is with his appearance? Has he lost it completely?

    Ignatieff looks like a normal, hardworking politician – messed up hair, no makeup. Harper looks like he'd be at home in Madame Tussaud's wax museum. Next to the Beatles, of course – because they always wanted him in the group.

  26. Jim Grant points out the obvious with:
    "This Feschuk commentary was total waste of press space. Humour is a writing category the author has very little talent for"

    To be fair, Jim……even Scott knows that.

    He doesn't write to be funny……he writes in the hopes of lucrative business arrangements if the Liberals ever take power.

    Failing that…..I'm sure he's saved his cabbies' license.

    • He's funny – more than can be said for you. Jellus? The guy has had people in tears of laughter reading this – but you'd have to be a humourless, grey, grim, boring Harper supporter not to get that.

  27. Margaret wrote:
    “He’s funny ”

    obviously, Margaret……you are easy to please when you agree with the premise.

    Good thing complexity doesn’t appear to be your strong point.

  28. Good thing complexity doesn't appear to be your strong point.

    Yes, because nothing speaks more to a nuanced and complex mind than regurgitating inanities about "liberal shills" when Feschuk posts on his blog poking fun at Harper. I suppose it never occurred to you how predictable you can be when you reflexively react to anything that is critical of Harper, especially when it is nothing more a humourous post. I can imagine the emotional roller coaster you must have experienced when Air Farce was on the air.

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