Why Harper wants to take on the world - Macleans.ca

Why Harper wants to take on the world

Why is the PM preoccupied with external threats?

Stephen Harper


“When I have something to say, I’ll tell you,” Stephen Harper said at one of his first news conferences as Prime Minister in 2006. Very well then. What has he been telling us since he won a majority on May 2?

In two important speeches and an interview with my boss at this magazine, Harper has given important hints, and left open important questions, about his plans for the country. A surprising amount of what he’s said has to do with foreign policy.

I don’t want to overstate this. In two speeches to Conservative partisans, at the party’s Ottawa convention on June 10, and again at the Calgary Stampede on July 9, Harper spoke first about more familiar subjects: his party’s electoral success and the economy. But Canada’s place in the world has grown as a theme until these days foreign policy is one of Harper’s big applause lines. He clearly sees it as a way to sharpen the contrast between his party and its opponents, to Conservatives’ advantage.

That hasn’t always been the case. Before the 2006 election, foreign diplomats in Ottawa couldn’t get a meeting with Harper or any trusted lieutenant. He didn’t travel much.

This is common enough among political leaders. Very soon the realities of the job caught up. Here’s how Harper described it a couple of weeks ago in his interview with Ken Whyte: “Since coming to office—in fact since becoming Prime Minister—the thing that’s probably struck me the most in terms of my previous expectations—I don’t even know what my expectations were—is not just how important foreign affairs/foreign relations is, but in fact that it’s become almost everything.” Canada’s economy is obviously strapped into the global roller coaster, but our prosperity depends on trade, our security starts far from our shores, and so on.

At first Harper turned to international tasks from a sense of duty. What’s new is the enthusiasm. “Re-equipping the military is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to making Canada a meaningful contributor in the world,” he told the Conservative convention in Ottawa. “We also have a purpose. And that purpose is no longer just to go along and get along with everyone else’s agenda. It is no longer to please every dictator with a vote at the United Nations. And I confess that I don’t know why past attempts to do so were ever thought to be in Canada’s national interest.”

Hooray, a chance to caricature the Liberal record. Indeed, if you’re looking for an explanation for Harper’s increasing rhetorical reliance on foreign affairs, it may lie in this extract from earlier in the Ottawa convention speech. “Within 100 sitting days of this majority Parliament, as promised, we shall combine our outstanding criminal justice bills—measures the opposition has been blocking in some cases for years. We will put them into comprehensive legislation and we will pass them.”

If that happens, it won’t be an unalloyed triumph for the Conservatives. Politicians like to have something to fight against. Harper got a lot of mileage out of his frequent displays of frustration at the opposition for blocking his crime bills. Even when the opposition parties weren’t blocking his crime bills. Often Harper’s own decisions to prorogue Parliament killed his bills before they could be passed. But the opposition was handy to blame.

If he gets that omnibus bill passed, Harper will need something else to fight against. The opposition is a bit of a toothless foe these days. The world will make an excellent substitute enemy. “We are living in a world in which, after decades of stable, sometimes stagnant international relationships, change is the new constant,” he told the Ottawa convention. “New forces are coming to the fore. Some we will be pleased to work with. Some we must resist.”

This is, more or less, the “sea of troubles” speech Harper repeated at every stop in the spring election campaign. The argument contributed mightily to building voter support for a stronger Conservative government. Might as well keep making it.

In his Maclean’s interview, Harper discussed “the kind of values we have in the world: freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law.” As a rule of thumb, he added, “those societies that promote those values tend to share our interests, and those that do not tend to, on occasion, if not frequently, become threats to us.”

He seems preoccupied with threats. In Ottawa and again in Calgary there was an odd passage about Canada’s future. “Friends, in a few short years, we will celebrate our 150th anniversary as a united country. If, in 50 more years, we wish our descendants to celebrate Canada’s 200th anniversary, then we must be all we can be in the world today.”

“If?” What’s the 50-year challenge to Canada’s very survival?

“We know there are challenges to us,” he told Maclean’s. “The most obvious is terrorism, Islamic extremist terrorism. We know that’s a big one globally. We also know, though, the world is becoming more complex, and the ability of our most important allies, and most importantly the United States, to single-handedly shape outcomes and protect our interests, has been diminishing, and so I’m saying we have to be prepared to contribute more.”

This is, to say the least, a bold bunch of claims. Canada’s survival is not assured; our allies, including even the United States, are less able to defend it; Canada has to do more. Just talk? Harper rarely says the same thing three times in a month unless he’s been thinking about it a lot. But he still has a lot of explaining to do.


Why Harper wants to take on the world

  1. As I noted elsewhere here, foreign policy seems to the main area
    where Harper feels at liberty to throw red meat to his two most
    important personal constituencies — his base in Canada, and the US right-wing
    bloggers who provide him with most of his ideas — without, he surmises, most
    Canadians caring much about it.

    By the time of the next
    election, he will have done much to reassert the
    U.S right-wing global agenda that all-but-disappeared from serious international discussion after Bush was defeated, no doubt to great cheers from his tea party fans in the U.S.

    As an example, just today I see that
    Canada is actively mucking up an international treaty on small arms trade so Harper can carry water for the NRA and U.S gun lobby in a policy area few Canadians care about.

    It’s going to be a long 4 years for Canadians, the majority of whom don’t at all support Harper’s international agenda.

    • “the majority of whom don’t at all support Harper’s international agenda” – Really? So how did the NDP vote on the Libya extension? How did the Libs vote on the Afghan extension?

      • Polls show that all three parties voted against the views of the majority of Canadians, who do not support either our military involvement in the Afghanistan war or in the bombing of Libya.

    • The majority don’t support any other single option either.  In other words, more Canadians support the Cons than any other single party. 

  2. Shorter version: Having discovered fearful Canadians will elect him, Harper seeks to make all Canadians fearful.

    • Or at least make more Canadians fearfuller.

    • I think you’re on the right track there Thwim. He may be trying to imitate the US’s propoganda that built up the Cold War – Russia/communism being the exaggerated enemy, that in many senses became a self-fulfilling prophesy. GWB did something similar with the war on terror.

      • Except there was an immediate threat in the Cold War Era – it may have been exaggerated by some, and used for their own purposes, but there was a real threat. The USSR had killed 20 million of its own citizens in Gulags; they had expanded their power over dozens of countries in Eastern Europe and elsewhere

        George Bush reacted (argue the reaction for sure) to a direct attack on the WTC        ( i.e. people running frantically away from the world’s largest buildings in the the largest city in the US, because Muslim extremists had just slammed two hijacked airliners into them).

        So, nuance your opinion slightly

        • Right on, TSYM

        • But the USSR’s power WAS greatly exaggerated–it was no threat compared to the US, Canada, the UK, except the stalemate of nuclear weapons pointed at each other, enough to sterilize the planet several times over. The USSR was stretched to the limit just to maintain itself, it turned out.

          In the Cold War Era, Communism was under every bed; they were in every Labour Union, every civil and human rights organization of every type, the RCMP and the FBI were on the lookout for them everywhere!!! This kind of paranoia is just what enabled GW Bush to use a wonderful (for him) terrorist attack which he might have prevented had he heeded the security reports of the previous administration that warned about al Quaida in the US. Terror enabled him to take away privacy and civil rights from Americans they may never get back, and enrich his friends by making expensive wars in an oil-rich country while bankrupting his own. 

          Harper’s enemies at home seem to be criminals and drug addicts, and perhaps those shiftless poor people as well. The outmoded “war on drugs” strategy that filled US prisons, and is costing them so much in cash and lives wasted, seems to be Mr. Harper’s choice for Canada. A fear-based foreign policy, now that the headless al-Qaida is, for all intents and purposes, gone, is also a foregone failure for Canada.

          • I don’t know what book you are reading but I was there and spent a good deal of my life involved. The Soviets were a serious threat as they changed from being friendly “Uncle Joe” of wartime to a ruthless monster eating up Eastern Europe and threatening western Europe, into which they undoubtedly would have moved if it hadn’t been for NATO forces, including 4 wings of RCAF fighters and the Canadian Army.  We were a small part of the total. The US was in the middle of a radical disarmament when Truman became aware of what was happening. The North Korean communist surge into South Korea was the example in the East. This logic did not extend to Viet Nam whose people simply wanted their country back. When the Viet Namese leadership  offered to Gen. Stillwell at the end of the war to go into the US sphere of influence, the US was unable to act because wartime ingredients had all those colonies going back to the pre-war hegemony. Thus the  Viet Namese in the person of Ho Chi Min turned to the Soviets.  The US made a drastic error in goiong into Viet Nam and aiding the South as they were rotten and corrupt – and Roman Catholic in part. My point is that we have to look ahead to see who the reasonable opponents might be. While terrorists are a momentary irritant on a 50 year scale, and provided we can keep the ninnies from going up against Islam, my bet IN THE LONG RUN is China because of the probability of a growing demand on resources, space and food.    

          • It’s good, then that Western Europe became so secular post WWII, and was less Roman Catholic anyway, or NATO couldn’t have saved it. President Eisenhower warned about the “Military-Industrial Complex” taking over the leadership of the United States when he left office, and that seems to have been what has usurped the power of the people (and their economy), since they have neither the government nor the earning power that they want, but the Complex does.

            The USSR was able to make foreign conquests to some extent, and support wars to kill farmers and overthrow governments in small third world countries, sometimes with improved results, as in Cuba. However, their economy was nothing like the military “Great Bear” portrayed by the Western “Hawks”. They had no power to conquer Afghanistan, let alone Europe. Look at Finland. There was a nuclear missile stand-off which had the imminent prospect of sterilizing the planet. And lest you mention the Cuban missile crisis, lets point out Kennedy already had missiles in Turkey closer to the USSR, and never moved them.

            In any case, I suppose, against my religious beliefs, I must admit there is a prudent case for a well-prepared Canadian military. What this consists of is controversial. Whether this includes fighting half a world away for the US’s foreign policy decisions, with nothing to do with the North Atlantic, does not. Our domestic economy needs higher priority, or we may find ourselves in the situation of the US, after GW Bush’s “War on Terror”–bankrupt, with fat, rich corporations.

      • More garbage, Rose.

    • Garbage

      • Which part, exactly?

        • All. We are not fearful. Left wingers who haven’t learned that socialism does not work, Greenies who are really the former. survivors of the rotten Liberal; Party  are the ones who are fearful of man who has done a good job overall since 2006.   The majority of the country as expressed in a majority vote have confidence in him. 

          • Really? So you had no fear about the economic troubles lapping at our shore? No fear of what would happen under “teh evul coalition!” Pardon me if I call BS.

            The majority of the country does not vote in the House of Commons. The majority of the elected do. The majority of the elected do not, in fact, represent the majority of the country, they represent the plurality of it.

            Also, kindly explain to me what constitutes a “good job” in your book? Passing fixed election date legislation to break the spirit of it not two months later? Promising not to appoint unelected people as senators and then appointing a political crony who has never even come in second in any election he ever ran in? Promising not to tax income trusts and then.. uh.. taxing income trusts?  Destroying the usefulness of the Canadian census and charging Canadian tax-payers more to do it?  Nearly bringing the country to a constitutional crisis by proroguing the House of Parliament to prevent opposition motions from being brought to the floor?

            Go on, describe the good job he’s done.  Budget? Wasn’t his, remember? He was “forced” to do the budget by the opposition.  Crime legislation? Never passed, remember? He prorogued parliament and killed it himself.. twice.

            So.. I’m actually quite curious. What’s the good job he’s done?  Hint: If the only answers you can provide are what the Liberals would have done instead, you’ve proven my initial point of him working based on fear.

          • More garbage. The voting system is what it always has been, not what you would like it to be.

            Harper isn’t the first to deal with issues as he does. When in majority the Liberal governments did all sorts of  distasteful bullying. King, the second father of the liberal party had all sorts of tricks, lies and deceits.

             If you read the election date legislation, you will see it applies to a majority government, not a minority.

            The things he didn’t do to which you refer were also because of a minority situation.

            Good job? Despite a minority situation he got us through a dicey economic crisis so far. Despite being against stimulus as most economists are, he finally went with what the international community of finance. It worked somewhat in Canada because it was mostly public works whereas in others as the US stimulus spending merely moved more jobs offshore.
            Most of the media, tweeters and posters to this page are left wing.  The ones who really fear are those who are upset by four years a  Conservative majority government where the left-wing harping and crying will have no effect. Did you catch the ridiculous speech by Layton where he promised to fight the big bad Conservatives? All his bleating in the postal filibuster was just useless blather. He had more power in the minority situation.

            As for the census, why should taxpayers provide an invasive  freebie for commercial targeting and left wing analysts such as the left-wing Centre for Public Alternatives. Let them pay for their own research. 

            Tho, think or thwim for 4 years.

          • Try actually reading the fixed election date legislation yourself instead of swallowing the lies they parrot to you. Point out a single place in that legislation where it mentions a majority government.

            Then, when you’re done failing that task, go back to the Hansard records of the CPC MPs talking about how it would prevent any Prime Minister from ever calling an election when it suited his/her convenience. Kindly point out in there where they mention this is confined to a majority government only.

            Then when you’ve similarly failed in THAT, try explaining why the legislation itself points out that the date of the “next” election, barring a failed confidence vote, would be 4 years after Harper had been elected with his minority government. It mentions a specific date that his minority government would go to an election, so how the hell is that supposed to apply to only to majority governments?

            They lied to you. Those right-wing blogs and crap you count on as presenting the truth.. they flat out lied to you. You seem like you’re reasonably intelligent. Start applying the same doubt to the right-wing crap that you currently reserve only for “left-wing” publications. If you do, you’ll note something interesting.. right-wing magazines are forced to “correct” stories for incorrect facts a lot more often than the “left-wing” ones. Why might that be? Because they LIE, and they know that a lot of folks don’t have the time or inclination to double check them, and they can lie a hell of a lot faster than people can dig up the stats and the facts to disprove them.

            Moving on to the budget, most economists were not against stimulus. Economists were generally pretty evenly split, with a larger number of the US trained economists saying no stimulus, and most everywhere else saying we need to do this. He didn’t go with the international community of finance, he specifically stated that they’d made changes to the budget in order to get Canada working and avoid non-confidence. That’s why he prorogued as well, remember? To avoid non-confidence during those “troubled” times. The budget that got us through those troubled times was at best a compromise affair with the opposition, as if you’ll remember, the first presentation had ZERO stimulus whatsoever. No renovation tax credit, no EA!P, nothing. It was only when threatened with losing power that he changed it. Or are you saying now that Harper kow-tows to the interantional community?

            Most of the media, tweeters, and posters are all over the map. There’s as many right wing loonies as there are left wing ones, and a fair number of non-specifics who don’t believe in ideology, but instead believe in truth, accountability, and transparency.

            Yes, there is fear for those of us not in goose-step with Harper’s objectives, we fear that a lot of what makes Canada a great country to be in — fair, democratic, peaceful, calm, open, etc is going to be torn apart by Mr. Harper’s attempts to cling to power.

            And when it comes to the census, you might want to take a look at the list of groups that opposed the change. As many right-wing business oriented ones as left-wing ones. As for the census, what Mr. Harper has done has made the taxpayers provide *more* for something that’s less useful to everyone in Canada.

            And you support that?

  3. There’s a lot more to foreign affairs than Afghanistan and Libya.  There’s the kind of foreign affairs that requires well-trained and experienced diplomats.  Except Harper has decimated the diplomatic corps, and the few that are left get to have Baird as their head.  Not Chris Alexander, but John Baird. 

    I’ve never thought of Harper as an idiot, but this state of affairs–done on purpose!–requires some explanation.  Thanks for providing same.

    • describe how they have been ‘decimated’?

    • Some are great. But if you had been exposed to the left wing of Foreign Affairs you wouldn’t describe them all that way. There is a time to talk and a time when more talk is useless. That is why the UN is useless as it has been taken over by horde of diplomats with selfish and conflicting aims. I refer also to the hordes who have lesser positions and who are there because it is a gravy train. At one time it was different.

  4. “We also have a purpose. And that purpose is no longer just to go along and get along with everyone else’s agenda.”

    So why are we still playing along with what the US and France tell us in NATO? How’s that following our own agenda?

  5. Dear Canadians – Harper may be right. Look at Canada. Stable
    institutions, a strong loonie backed by somewhat  non-insane fiscal and monetary policies, and an increasingly diverse list of international trading partners. Your neighbor(that would be us), while large, is rudderless. Wilfrid Laurier was right, too.. just early. What if the 21st century belongs to Canada? Then Harper is just asking Canadians to think about it now.

    As a sidelight, can you invade Arizona and make us a colony? A full consideration of this opportunity may be seen at http://www.disunderstand.com . Thank you in advance for attacking us.

    • We thought we’d start small with Minnessota.  They already talk like us, and then we’d have the world’s TWO best malls.

      • Make it a double-double. Take both Minnesota and Arizona. You’ll have the two best malls and the two oldest professional football teams in North America (the Argonauts and the Cardinals).

        • It would also be a brilliant way to screw over Gary Bettman to get the Phoenix Coyotes back in Canada. 

          • brilliant!…unlike bettman

          • It’s a deal.  As an act of good faith to our new country, we will even change the Coyotes’ name back to the Jets, and send them to Winnipeg. Winnipeg will then have two Jets teams, and enhance Bettman’s reaction. Arizona is getting by far the best of this deal anyhow.  We get to be ruled by Canadians (when they are not playing golf).

          • Double double …  so who`s the cream & who`s the sugar?

            You have to promise to keep this quiet, but we`ve been slowly annexing Arizona for some time now.  As soon as our seniors reach a certain density, we`re going to have to start sending in our health care system.  It would have had more historic irony if we sent in our idle lawless & followed up with the army, but the idle lawless were busy elsewhere (see articles on Senate reform)

  6. I am of the opinion that in the long haul, our real potential enemy will be China, first of all, economically in its thirst for natural resources and markets. Secondly when it colides with other foreign policies, for example Taiwan.  Unless of course Wal-Mart buys China. 

    • China hasn’t attacked anyone in 5000 years, and there is certainly no reason for them to do so now, so relax.

      Oh, and learn to compete.

      • They attacked Vietnam in 1979

        • Self-defence on their border

          The PRC launched the offensive in response to Vietnam’s 1978 invasion and occupation of Cambodia, which ended the reign of the PRC-backed Khmer Rouge.
          The Chinese invaded Northern Vietnam and captured some of the northernmost cities in Vietnam. On March 6 China declared that the gate to Hanoi was open and that their punitive mission had been achieved and retreated back to China.


          • Yeah, they attacked Vietnam.(more than once over 5000 years, I might add) – also Tibet 1950.

          • Gee, the US attacked us 5 times

            Border security

            And Tibet belongs to China

          • Also, Vietnam invaded Cambodia due to border incursions by the Khmer Rouge

          • Yawn The US invaded both.

      • Emily, you are blind. Fifty years is a long time. 5000 years?  What about Tibet – oh, sure, it used to be theirs. What about their  aspirations for Taiwan, oh sure it used to be theirs. What about Mongolia.  Have you not heard of Kublai Khan and Ghengis Khan? Almost took Vienna. China has massive armed forces and is currently building a 21st century fighter/bomber along the lines of the F-35. There is an old story that nobody ever changes China,  China changes them.  Whether China expands by economics or by slowly edging out, it will. Are you a Maoist if you are, you must be a blind Maoist. you are a blind Maoist.  Its saving grace might be its expanding middle class (bourgoisie to you) might force the ruling elements away from their absolutist tendencies.

        • Yes Tibet is theirs….a lot got taken away from China, and they intend to have it back.  That is restoring and protecting it’s own borders….not just attacking other countries at random.

          Taiwan is part of China…sorry.  Check US foreign policy on that…Colin Powell

          Kublai Khan?? Ghangis Khan??  Wrong country…They were Mongolian

          Lots of countries are building up their militaries….including the US and us.

          China doesn’t need to go to war

          And stop calling people idiotic names just because they point out something you didn’t know.

          • Your 5000 year claim is vastly erroneous. In recent history, China has gone to war with the US in Korea, attacked Vietnam for toppling a genocidal regime in Cambodia (as a commenter previously mentioned) not to mention cracking down on internal dissidence for wanting religious freedom (falon gong), ethnic rights (tibetans, uighurs) and democratic freedoms (Tiannamen 1989). Also, if you actually looked at Chinese history you’d see the original Chinese proto-state of Chin and later the Han dynasty subjugated a lot of other peoples by force

          • We’ve already been through all that…catch up.

            China is not a war-like nation and never has been

            Do you guys ‘need’ to be afraid of something?  Do you require a boogey-man in your lives?

            China has never done anything to Canada….in fact a Canadian is one of their heroes.  They are not our enemies nor are they going to be.  Trade with them is rising steadily and Baird is over there beating the bushes for more

            If you want to complain about human rights, how about Saudi Arabia?  Or Abu Ghrib?

            If you’re going to be all self-righteous, I suggest you look at the track records of our other current friends and not just cherry-pick countries.

          • Suggesting Tibet is part of China is like suggesting the Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Lithuania, etc are rightfully part of Russia.

          • Tibet has been part of China since the 12th century.

          • I don’t think that’s really accurate.  I’m no fan of what the Chinese have done in Tibet, but to the extent that the China of today is the result of centuries of tribes either conquering and subjugting or peacefully amalgamating one another, Tibet is no different.

          • M_T_B same with Russia (conquer and subjugate), or weaken and lose. However, democracy is always useful – vote (not perfect). A good example when considering China is the democratic nation of Taiwan

          • Ignoring our First Nations population?

            And democracy is a western value, not everyone shares it

          • Don’t get me started on our First Nations: A people controlled by a gov’t bureaucracy, largely without individual property rights, and manipulated by the lefty groups into thinking that they are “close to the earth’ defending some sort of static existence or yearning for some former lifestyle.

            There is an extreme danger that Native-Canadians will become a permanent underclass within our society.

      • OriginalEmily1 is not much of a history student,eh!

        A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

        Lack of any knowledge is  a total disaster.

        Back to school there OE1…start with grade 9

        • Hunny bunny….I’m well versed in the history of China thanks….and I deal with China daily….Chinese is also spoken in my family.

          So take those old images from your grade 9 class, and…..

          • Chinese is spoken in your family? What language are you referring to? I have never heard of Chinese

          • That accounts for it.

          • I’m afraid it doesn’t ‘account’ for anything.

            I’m not Chinese, if that’s what you’re thinking.

      • That is the Chinese party line. The Khans, who were Chinese attacked Japan in the 14t?h Century but were defeated by the sea, not Japan.

        • LOL no it’s not, you numpty.

          The Khans were Mongols, and ruled a Mongolian/Chinese empire

          • Pretty soon you will be saying the only Chinese are the Han.

          • I think you’re nattering just to natter…or you missed the Olympics where they showed all the ethnic groups that make up China

            But If you’re holding up the Mongolian empire of the 13th century as a reason for us to ‘fear’ China today you’re just being silly.

    •  I only see China (& India) being a threat to countries whose political & business leadership are hell-bent on selling their workforce (& domestic markets, since they`re the same people, a fact they seem to miss in business school, but that`s another day`s rant . . .) and assets to the lowest bidder. 

      Oh, that would be Canada.

      • Chinese aren’t just the Han. Emily denies Genghis Khan and Khulbla Khan as not being Chinese but Mongols but then claims that Mongolia is part of China.  China is friendly (sort of) way for the short term reasons you state Shenping but 50 years, which is the period we are talking about  she could conquer just by exporting her people Richmond BC is already a Chinese enclave ethnically if not by politics.  Today Richmond, tomorrow the world! ;>)

        • Mongolia isn’t part of China…I don’t know where you’re getting that from.

          • But Outer Mongolia is. Hmm, I wonder how the Han Chinese managed to get their hands on Outer Mongolia….. OriginalEmily1 is more a dunce than I could’ve imagined…

          • Perhaps because they were a joint empire at one time….as any history book could tell you.

            I don’t know why you’re attacking me instead of just looking this stuff up….it would save you embarrassment.

    • China’s not going to be our enemy. They’re going to be our owners.

      Harper’s ramping up our deficit, after all, guess who’s buying our debt?

      • I don’t know. This is a discussion requiring perspective. China and the Mongols who conquered them have long memories and once they were the rulers of the Orient. Although it is not possible to see accurately into the future, I can’t imagine that China, a proud and once powerful entity that wrote everybody off as barbarians, will not in the next 50 years want to hold sway again. As its economy increases, so will its middle class who will want to vote if they are taxed. The present powerful autocrats will want to reign this in. I expect they will want to eliminate Taiwan as a very sore pain in the ass. That in turn will shift the balance in the Western Pacific Then who knows?  

        Speaking of debt, China holds 3 trillion of US treasuries. Interesting in the light of the US debt ceiling crisis.

         Harper is ramping down our deficit, not the reverse. 

        • Why not take this thread to the next logical descent & start up with quotes like “Imagine a person, tall, lean and feline, high-shouldered, with a brow like Shakespeare and a face like Satan,
          … one giant intellect, with all the resources of science past and
          present … Imagine that awful being, and you have a mental picture of
          Dr. Fu-Manchu, the yellow peril incarnate in one man.”

          I`m also not Chinese either, despite my online name.  I do speak & read what generally gets called Mandarin.

      • Thwim, you’re flat-out wrong there.  Our deficit is headed downwards.  A cursory check on google would show you that.  That’s a different matter from our debt, but as I (hope) you know, deficit and debt are two different, albeit related, things.

  7. another article pandering to the left… I thought for a moment this was CBC or CP. reporting. .Hard to believe that so many Canadians voted for a PM who is characterized, by 95% of the left educated media, as being a sociopath.  While the whoremaster Layton, Canada’s number one hypocrite gets a free pass.

    • Oh good. I was worried people might miss the sociopath part.

      • LOL

    • whoremaster ???

      Nice turn of phrase. What is your dominant hand doing right now? I ask without really wanting to know.

  8. Wells is on to something here, but Harper needs a more solid external threat.   He won’t manufacture one, but he’ll get one anyway.  The world is becoming increasingly unstable, and it won’t be long before a larger war starts.  Harper will just needs to pick a side. 

    Still, even with our recent military rebuild, our ability to project force beyond our borders is pretty pathetic.  And when we started bombing Libya, everybody yawned.  

    Plus, how will Harper convince Canadians to care or get involved in a foreign war?  We can only benefit from foreign wars, and that’s by staying out of them and selling goods and resources to both sides.  What’s the argument for fear?  Where’s the hook?  Who’s the bogeyman? 
    If Harper needs an enemy, he will need something else.

    • Hasn’t anyone been watching the world press?  The external threat is Voldemort!!

      Although up to two weeks before the election, it seemed like the Canadian media thought Laytoy was He Who Must Not Be Named!!

  9. By the time Stephen Harper is done George Bush will look like Mother Teresa!

  10. Yep. Well, whether it be red meat or not, I am going to do my utmost to see that we’re in a posture that can respond to threats, and make some threats of our own. I am tired of the simpering little “educated” twits with their sloped foreheads thinking that they and only they with their Socratic method or whatever the f***k can presume to impinge upon foreign policies. Harper is absolutely correct to de-nut DFAIT. What a bunch of cocktail sucking sponges. THey belong to a world of cocktail sucking sponges so who is to tell them different? We need bayonets on the ends of rifles. Boots on the ground. And the ability to seriously fork with those who would get in our way, and that is going to happen. There is a not a single thing anyone in here can do. There shall be a stronger military. Thankfully Stephen harper is not me. If he were he’d be constructing camps already for those dissenters who are dangerous enough to warrant treatment. It is hard to say more strongly how much I hate leftist sympathizers, Castro lovers, Hugo Chavez affecionados. I would come for you in the night. Harper? probably not. You’re safe. Despite my wishes no returnees from Afghanistan moulded into a new RCMP/CSIS/JTF2 fighting force to handle Mexican drug lords and fellow travelers at home I tried.

    • I would come for you in the night.

      Shouldn’t you be lining up for the latest Harry Potter then?

    • Harper’s fearmongering certainly seems to have worked with you.  Where is your fortification located?  Any volunteers for your militia and thought police? 

  11. Not quite sure on how most would interpret this,
       but when the Conservatives accepted a bribe to follow the instructions of another Country one can hardly believe that his interests are the same as the citizens of Canada.

  12. 1) “Canada’s survival is not assured … ” 

    Fist claim can be philosophical – agree that I would bet this month’s mortgage payment on Canada being here in fifty years but we don’t actually know for certain. Future is unknown and all that.

    2) “our allies, including even the United States, are less able to defend it”

    President Obama:

    Above all, we are a nation whose strength abroad has been anchored in opportunity for our citizens here at home …… America, it is time to focus on nation building here at home.


    Writing in the July 23 issue of The Diplomat, an international current-affairs magazine, China specialists Paul Giarra and Patrick Cronin maintain that “an increasingly assertive China is creating its own Monroe Doctrine for Asia’s seas – and threatening longstanding freedoms.”


    3)” … Canada has to do more. Just talk? …. ”

    Canadian Military Spending 2009 shows that Canada’s rising National Defence spending is $21.185 billion in 2009-2010, making Canada’s rank 13th highest in the world, and 6th highest among NATO’s 28 members, dollar for dollar.


    “Canada is looking to become a money lender to Libya’s rebel movement in addition to one of its prime military backers.”


  13. “Might as well keep making it.

    In his Maclean’s interview, Harper discussed “the kind of values we have in the world: freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law.”

    Harper is talking to Anglo Alliance people. 

    National Review – An Anglo-Alliance:

    I had recently been reading a Heritage Foundation study by the American writer (and a friend), James C. Bennett, in which he argued that such forms of developing cooperation were especially characteristic of English-speaking, Common-Law countries such as, well, Britain, Australia, and the U.S. There was, he argued, a definite pattern to them.

    Citizens, voluntary bodies, companies, lower levels of government form their own networks of useful cooperation for practical purposes across national boundaries. Over time these networks become denser, more complementary, more useful, and more self-conscious, creating what Bennett calls a “network civilization.” 


  14. I believe Harper when he says he is surprised by the responsibility of international relations, and that as Prime Minister he does not want us blind-sided by some shift in the international military dynamic. I suspect that is the usual experience of people who have to shift from leading an election campaign to taking responsibility for the fate of a nation. 

    On the other hand,  I see a man who is accustomed to being in charge. A man for whom the idea of a foreign power imposing its will is anathema. Anyone who opposes him must be crushed. This makes him a dangerous man. 

    Whatever the reconciliation of these views, we have nothing to do but watch.

  15. Harper is your quint essential american politician from the flag pin on his suit he ALWAYS has, to his “god bless Canada” that he has let slip at a few speeches, his strong military stance, his constant  and now his political fear-mongering about foreign “enemies” that wish us harm unless we take decisive (and yet to be named I might ad) action.

    Just look back at our last election and the commercials they had out, take this one for example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6bpi0YcZns

    as a side note can someone please help me understand how Canada being the only country to block the UN’s latest anti-asbestos act is in some way defending our values abroad? 
    That has to have been one of the more internationally shameful moments of harpers reign 

    • God Bless Canada

      • I think the UN is a seriously flawed organization, but not without hope. A significant part of the UN can be described as gold-rimmed marble soapbox for NGO fanatics and dictators.

        For instance, how does a non-expert, never democratically elected, self-serving individual like Maude Barlow become a senior adviser on water? or how does a North Korean diplomat become head of the 65-nation Conference on Disarmament?

        It is unfortunate that the UN has not, or cannot address these concerns, because it taints the entire organization, and, I feel, forces governments such as Canada, who must represent the will of their people, to question the UN’s legitimacy on almost any matter (including their concerns with asbestos)

        Our government is forced to proceed with caution given the confused state of the organization

  16. It’s nice to see Canada’s military getting a little bit of an upgrade, but I’m not certain why it’s focused on external threats. I’d be more inclined to be supportive if it was mainly to boost our defence capabilities and our peace keeping forces. Adrian

  17. Like some demon from the deep, fear is what Harper feeds off. Core Conservative voters are in the grip of it.

    • Thank God for Maclean’s — it allows us to go on the internet and read about what Liberals say motivates conservatives.   And if some anonymous liberal on the internet says something, it must be true.

  18. “People can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked …” – Hermann Goring. 

  19. ‘Politicians like to have something to fight against.’

    I’m not sure if it’s any more complicated than that. “The world is scary. I can protect you from The Scary. Vote for me… or better yet, send me another $50.” The coalition is no longer a threat to the future of the country, the Bloc is no longer a threat to the future of the country, the tough-on-crime garbage, er, strategy is a fait accompli, the gun registry is dead… gotta come up with a new ‘trouble is lapping at our shores’ rallying cry to drum up donations and scare up votes.

  20. Harper wants to create a distraction, it’s that simple.

  21. Interesting analysis in its echos of physiology… and pedagogy.

    “It is important to reiterate that it is the buildup of carbon dioxide making the blood acidic that elicits the desperation for a breath much more than lack of oxygen.”

    “Too much American teaching is by encouragement, too little by provocation.”

  22. “Re-equipping the military is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to making Canada a meaningful contributor in the world”

    My, things have changed in this country.  I remember a time when no sane politician would have gone around saying, in effect, “people, count on a lot more foreign military entanglements in future, as we assume our new role as junior world-cop”.  Mr Harper must be feeling his oats after finally gaining his majority.  Either that, or he has such contempt for his political opponents at this pont he believes he can stand in place, drop his guard, stick out his chin…and not get hit.     

    • His political opponents are worthy of contempt.

      • By “political opponents” I really meant the leaderships of the other parties.  Is that who you are referring to as well? 

    • Or he believes he has the media bought and paid for and they won’t bothering reporting on it; present company excluded of course.

  23. kim lle the second…the guy luvs the attention and continually embarrasses the countrymen and (women) and himself…there will be another flubb….the other leaders are waiting for it!

  24. “…the kind of values we have in the world: freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law….”
    Stephen Harper has violated each one of those, “values”, denying access to information, democracy to critics, human rights to would be visitors and as for the rule of law…how many times has he defied the Supreme Court?  Does Omar Khadr resonate anywhere in here?

    • Commonsense outranks the Supreme Court.  They fail to see that it is not a matter of the Charter, but commonsense, a situation that Trudeau led us into. The Supreme Court has had to much to say in the past that, while technically a response to the Charter is political in nature.  It is the result of the political nature of selecting those who sit there.

      • This reply amounts to saying the Constitution and Charter are whatever Mr Harper – after consulting his “commonsense” – chooses to make of them, that he is entitled to ignore any Supreme Court decision with which he disagrees.  Astonishing.   

  25. Stephen Jong-il

    • Harper’s a dictator.  What an incredibly original observation.

  26. Why does Harper believe Canada needs an army?  If a foreign country wants to take over Canada, it can just tell its soldiers to join the 280,000 immigrants that Harper is bringing in every year. Why is Harper worried about Islamic terrorists overseas? In ten years many of them will probably be living here. What will Canada be like in 50 years? Take a look at Nigeria or Guatemala today.

  27. Why does Harper believe Canada needs a military?  If a foreign country wants to take over Canada, it can just tell its soldiers to join the 280,000 immigrants that Harper is bringing in every year. Much easier than an invasion.  Why is Harper worried about Islamic terrorists overseas? In ten years many of them will probably be living here. What will Canada be like in 50 years? Take a look at Nigeria or Guatemala today.

  28. The Canadian people are peaceful, the politicians in Ottawa less so.  They love war, in fact.  Check out some other tid bits at  http://macleaners.blogspot.com/.

  29. Like Ralph Klein defying Ottawa. Much to Harper’s chagrin, that’s one Klein trick he can’t pull. Or else he did, but only by making Ottawa public servants the villains.

  30. Paul is peeved because he is no longer the fly on the wall as he was in Liberal days.

  31. “… Why is the PM preoccupied with external threats? …”

    Because he can’t pile on the opposition anymore without seeming like an idiot.

    Any other stupid questions? LOL

  32. The megalomania is  showing..he even dresses like Stalin… 

  33. Paul Wells is the one who doesn’t get it.  This is shown in the last paragraph of the article, in particular, where Well sums up what he calls, “bold claims”.  You have to be pretty naive if you think a relatively weak country (militarily and economically) like Canada’s  survival is assured.  The US will not continue to be the global power it has been, and its power is already visibly diminishing, and has been for years, and they’re giving us no reason to believe the decline won’t continue.  They’ve also never really made any guaranties they would help us, it’s just been assumed.  Concerns along these lines, and a stronger military, and strengthening and widening of alliances is actually very prudent.  Sovereignty is about being seen to be strong, and security comes at least as much from diplomacy and trade as military might.  We do need to stand on our own much more.  I think Harper is on the right track.

  34. It appears that even the great Paul Wells has now been duped by this PM’s subtle brainwashing and misleading rhetoric.  Notice how he (the PM) states that “We also have a purpose. And that purpose is no longer just to go along
    and get along with everyone else’s agenda. It is no longer to please
    every dictator with a vote at the United Nations. And I confess that I
    don’t know why past attempts to do so were ever thought to be in
    Canada’s national interest.”

    And therein lies the great lie and the brainwashing.  What he’s actually suggesting (and this is the scary part) is that the use of diplomacy, something that all previous governments, Conservative and Liberal alike, equals weakness, giving in to other people’s agendas, and conspiring with evil dictators.  The implication is that confrontational foreign policy, with sabre-rattling, demonization of other nations and their people, and even threat of military action, is the only way to do foreign policy effectively.

    I’m not sure where the PM gets his delusions of grandeur.  Canada’s military force, while among the world’s best in terms of competence, dedication, and professionalism, simply does not have anywhere near the size or strength to even defend our own northern borders without heavy US involvement.  That hardly constitutes serious, credible foreign policy.  I don’t think too many dictatorships, like the North Koreans or the Iranians, to name just two, would seriously be quaking in their military boots at the prospect of military action by Canada.  But what confrontational foreign policy can do, however, is to create a lot of enemies and threats, and isolate Canada in international circles, thereby undermining our own interests; something this PM has already made great strides in accomplishing.  A case in point: what has Mr. Harper or Canada gained with 4 years of confrontational foreign policy with the Chinese?

    Even more insulting to our national heritage is that the PM, with his statement, has just flushed down the toilet the significant achievements of our international diplomacy and of the diplomats who tirelessly pursue Canada’s interests abroad with relative anonymity and almost no domestic recognition.  Examples, of course, include our leadership in the establishment of the UN, the International Criminal Court at the Hague, the establishment of the G20, and the land mines treaty.  Even military actions, such as the leadership role we took in the Balkans and in Rwanda, were all achieved through international diplomacy.

    In short, the premise the PM makes is completely false, and dangerous.  Canada never went along or got along with everyone else’s agenda, and it has never tried to please dictators.  Canada is not, and never will be, an international superpower, either militarily or economically.  But what we have always had, and what we have used effectively to the advantage of ourselves and the rest of the world in the past, is our diplomacy, our good will, our respect, and our ability to bring people together in common cause.  In short, our leadership!

    And it’s this, that our PM, is now threatening to throw away!