Reading between the lines of Harper’s fifth anniversary speech - Macleans.ca

Reading between the lines of Harper’s fifth anniversary speech

Scott Feschuk on what the prime minister was really thinking

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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!

Oh.

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.

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