Stephen Harper Thinks You’re Stupid

For years, Stephen Harper has, through his words and actions, displayed what could charitably be described as a lack of confidence in anyone other than himself. This extends not only to his MPs and members of the civil service, but also the Canadian public at large. In his memoirs, Preston Manning wrote of the Harper he knew from the Reform party as someone who “had difficulty accepting that there might be a few other people (not many, perhaps, but a few) who were as smart as he was with respect to policy and strategy.” In a June 1997 speech to an American think tank Stephen Harper said, “I was asked to speak about Canadian politics. It may not be true, but it’s legendary that if you’re like all Americans, you know almost nothing except for your own country. Which makes you probably knowledgeable about one more country than most Canadians.”

In short, he doesn’t trust us. He doesn’t think we’re smart enough or knowledgeable enough to make good decisions about the direction of our country.

One of the ways he displays this disrespect is by making completely ridiculous statements that us idiotic citizens couldn’t possibly see through. For example, right after the most recent meeting to advance the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) Harper attempted to diminish the importance of the multilateral talks, describing the SPP as an effort to “standardize the jelly bean.” As if such a thing would require a meeting of three world leaders, massive security (including US Army interference with Canadian rights and disturbing police tactics), and a top secret agenda.

Today, Conservatives turned their guns against the Green Party (again) in an equally insulting attempt at spin. This time, it had to do with our position regarding Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan, and specifically our response to the Manley report. The Green Party believes (quite rightly) that the nature of our military presence in Afghanistan must change. One of the major reasons for this is that we are currently perceived by many people in the region (and not without reason) as being aligned with George Bush’s War On Terror, which in turn is seen by many as a quasi-religious war of West vs. East, or Christianity vs. Islam. As long as that perception exists, danger to our soldiers is increased while our chances for success are decreased.

The Conservative party responded with the following:

Green Party Leader and Stéphane Dion ally Elizabeth May criticized the presence of Canadian and other ISAF forces in Afghanistan as representing a “Christian/Crusader heritage,” that would actually “fuel” the “jihad.”

Elizabeth May’s comparison of the Afghan protection and reconstruction effort as a Christian Crusade is evidence of her shocking ignorance of foreign policy, Afghanistan and the current mission.

The Canadian Forces in Afghanistan are serving at the invitation and with the active encouragement of the Afghan Government. Every day the brave men and women of the Canadian Forces are risking their safety and security to help the people of Afghanistan live peaceful and secure lives. Considering that Canadian soldiers have lost their lives protecting the people of Afghanistan, it is outrageous that a Canadian politician would make such an insult of this sacrifice.

Ms. May’s comments also betrayed a shocking lack of knowledge about Afghanistan’s people and its history. None of the Crusades ever came anywhere close to Afghanistan.

Even people who think the Green press release should have been more clear recognize that the above statement is ridiculous and lowers the level of discourse. Fortunately, Canadians are smart enough to understand the difference between saying that we need to “counter the Islamic militants’ portrayal of the war as a ‘clash of civilizations'” to prevent the Taliban from being able to continue to “frame the Afghanistan conflict as a ‘Jihad'” and saying that Canadian soldiers are actually engaged in a Christian Crusade. Canadians are also smart enough to realize that the real negative perceptions of our involvement have very little to do with the physical locations of the Crusades. (To not grasp that last fact could almost be characterized as, say, a “shocking ignorance of foreign policy, Afghanistan and the current mission.”)

And Canadians are smart enough to realize that if anything is “risking the safety and security” of the brave men and women of the Canadian Forces, it’s overly partisan rhetoric that’s designed to shut down real democratic debate. (It’s also worth noting that this government also continues to place our soldiers at risk of being accused of involvement with war crimes, and has demonstrated through their actions that “supporting the troops” is sometimes little more than a soundbite.)

Details aside, the second most discouraging thing about this is that our prime minister has such little respect for foundational democratic principals that he frequently tries to trick the public into believing partisan distortions of reality. The most discouraging thing (at least for the moment) is that this kind of nonsense moves people like Rick Mercer to write what he did today: “[Liberals and Conservatives] both say they support our troops, but what they really love is using them.”

20 thoughts on “Stephen Harper Thinks You’re Stupid

  1. The NCC has been short of a president since 2001, a hard-right organization with lots of money, it has boast itself as succeeding in installing someone like Harper as leader of the Cons and now PM so it sees no need for a leader. I mean, as the Reform Party’s policy chair in the 90s, Harper did say, “the agenda of the NCC was a guide to me,” while at the time, NCC President David Somerville moaned that the Reform Party “cribbed probably two-thirds of our policy book.”

    Partisan attacks here aren’t as bad as they are in the U.S., what I find shocking about this whole thing is that the Government of Canada, under the direct leadership and instructions of the Prime Minister is putting out full-fledge ads and attacks on the *ELECTED* leader of the Opposition, a work colleague, outright mocking his speech and leadership skills….

    I believe in any ‘regular’ workplace, that would be called illegal, abuse and discrimination ….
    too bad the federal government don’t have to be held accountable for it…

  2. The reaction is not surprising whatsoever. When you have been slinging mud, unchecked, as E May has done for the past two years at least at Harper, it’ll eventually come back.

    Lot’s more to come I predict, once the media that has given her a free ride catches on.

    “Non-partisan and always telling the truth”. Yeah, right.

  3. “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” – Mahatma Gandhi

    Hmmm. “Considering that Canadian soldiers have lost their lives protecting the people of Afghanistan…” perhaps we should take every opportunity to ensure that our sacrifice is providing the highest order of assistance and moving the situation towards peace in the most effective possible way.

    I suppose that since Canadian drivers generously sacrifice themselves on the roads on a regular basis, we should avoid reviews of road safety and provision of alternatives such as transit and cycling as another terribly unCanadian activity.

  4. It doesn’t surprise me. If I recall correctly, Harper is a fan of capitalist prophet Ludwig von Mises, who held the view that people don’t really know what is best for them, and a lie is perfectly justifiable to bring about the change that the peasant boobs will never understand.

  5. Prophetic words from a Macleans article “Could the queen of green be mean”

    May’s praise of Dion rankles many Greens. As does her constant vilification of Harper. Her comment last March that Harper’s stance on the environment is “a grievance worse than Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of the Nazis” created a furor. May said she was just paraphrasing a British journalist. A party insider sees the incident as telling of May’s intransigence. “She threw gas on it. She could have smoothed it over as any professional politician would have, but she prefers to fight. She turned a three- or four-day story into a three-week story by not finding her graceful exit and moving on.”
    May’s constant criticism of Harper is “a blind spot,” says Chernushenko, one that’s problematic for the party in Alberta where polls show Greens running second to the Conservatives. “When you demonize Harper you demonize everyone who voted for him. But really, in what way is Harper more evil than the Liberals, who promised they’d do something on the environment and climate change for 12 years and didn’t, than someone who says, ‘I don’t believe the science and it’s not worth doing’ and then says ‘I kind of believe the science and we’re going to do something’?” A former party organizer laughs at May’s talk of fostering dialogue rooted in respect: “For somebody who professes not to like to talk about herself she’s very good at it, and for somebody who refuses not to mudsling, she’s perfected it to a level Karl Rove would envy.”

    Today’s Calgary Herald editorial:

    Looks like your blog also attempts to add fuel to the fire.

  6. Thanks for posting that link, Dot. The editorial is full of errors and misconceptions that beg for responses.

    Truly, it boggles belief that someone aspiring to be prime minister [Dion] doesn’t instinctively know a senior politician who thoughtfully suggests invading another country, even in the context of professorial meanderings in response to a hypothetical question, is on thin ice.

    Right. Except that he didn’t.

    Then, Green Leader Elizabeth May — with whom Dion has a strategic alliance, and who self-evidently was not in the least thoughtful — calls Canadian troops “Christian crusaders,” whose presence there is likely to “fuel jihad.”

    No, she didn’t, as this post has pointed out. While I’ve conceded that the release could have been better written to avoid confusion, it’s clear to all reasonable people that she and Foreign Affairs Critic Eric Walton continued to point out the obvious: that that is how we’re perceived by many in the region, and that that’s both a threat to our soldiers and an obstacle to success.

    Such talk shows ignorance. This jihad started years before Canadian troops went to Kandahar — remember 9/11?

    Um….yes. And I remember the weeks afterwards, when there was so much goodwill for America from all countries of the globe. And I remember when bad foreign policy, led by George Bush, squandered that good will and yes, helped to pour fuel on the fire of hatred. And I remember when Canadian troops started to get lumped in with the Americans in the eyes of Afghans and other Middle Easterners. I remember the first time I heard people chanting “Death to Canada” on the radio several months ago.

    And their purpose is not conquest, but security for those trying to build schools and clinics — at the invitation of the country’s popularly elected government.

    The topic of discussion is not their purpose (surely we all agree that peace, security, schools and clinics are noble goals), but rather the perception of their purpose, and what the best route to success is.

    It is also dangerous. To Muslim fundamentalists, “crusader” is the ultimate metaphor for everything in western society they seek to destroy.

    Exactly. Which is why we must do everything we can to distance ourselves from this image. Ironically, this was May’s point.

    In confirming their radical suspicions with her own hapless choice of words, May’s attempt to embarrass the government lends aid and comfort to those who hate the schools, despise the clinics, and seek only the oppression of Afghan people. And she insults brave, young Canadians.

    This was not an attempt to “embarrass the government,” this was an attempt to raise the level of debate in this country about the nature of our mission in Afghanistan and how we can best achieve success. The real insult to our brave young Canadians is that we’re unable to have that discussion like adults without some political party (fueled by some media outlets) trying to score political points of the backs of our military.

    Finally, the accusation that I’m somehow attempting to throw fuel on some fire would have more weight coming from someone who doesn’t troll this blog posting antagonistic comments and looking for a fight.

  7. Chris,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond to my now screened and “approved” comments. I guess that’s what happens when you are not labelled as “someone who doesn’t troll this blog posting antagonistic comments and looking for a fight” (note the double negative). But you miss my point that others withing the GPC have made elsewhere (see Macleans article).

    The pont being that the GPC has to be more cognizant and careful of what is written in their press releases. I believe I raised this issue in some of your earlier blogs, where I apparently earned my troll stautus.

    It should be noted that the CPC press release on the Christian/Crusader issue shortly followed a blog entry of Ms May’s you proudly linked to on “Scott’s Diatribe” where May gratuitously accused Harper of being a “sexist”.

    It should be also noted that the CPC commentary on Ms. May’s Neville Chamberlain comments came shortly after she had issued a press release where she called Harper a liar. How do I know? Because I had written to her and the communications officer of the GPC requesting them to clean up the press release, which they did SOMEWHAT, but by that time, it had already been long sent out.

    The reason I included the Calgary Herald editorial is because this paralleled exactly what ex Deputy Leader David Chernushenko had said about antagonizing Albertans. I was not claiming I agreed with the editorial, or thought it has merit – but this is what happens politically when you serve up a softball to the CPC after you’ve been making inflammatory comments all across the media.

    Btw, I could have also linked to a column in the more liberal Edmonton Journal

    or the righter leaning National Post:

    As far as using Garth Turner’s blog as authoritative on what Dion meant, I think any reasonable person discounts anything he writes.

    Speaking of a “sexist”, do you recall his earlier blog last Fall entitled “Screwy in Skeena” where he provided a partially cropped picture of a nude politician in BC, and a link in the comments section to the fully frontal nude picture he refused to take down for two days? Ms. May was aware of this blog, but refused to comment publicly on it. I believe she considered it “despicable”.

    Why the double standard? Could it be she feels indebted to Garth for his campaigning with her in London, and his plans to do the same thing in N.S.?

  8. I haven’t changed the moderation of comments. WordPress is configured so that “Comment author must fill out name and e-mail” and “Comment author must have a previously approved comment.” Sometimes it recognizes you and puts your posts straight through, other times I have to approve them manually. Not sure why. Might be your invalid email address and occasionally changing IP.

  9. Why is it Bush’s war on terror? As I recall there were a number of Canadian citizens murdered in the 9/11 attacks…or don’t they count? And yes, the U.S. policy in the middle east is short sighted and imperialistic, but does that give these thugs the right to blow up trains in Spain. Does it justify the bomb makers in Germany and France. Or how about the ones who set off bombs in countries such as Algeria and Lebanon? Are these countries also part of some anti Muslim crusade? Or could it just be that these degenerates believe it is their duty to blow up innocent civilians in any country that refuses to let their goofy philosophy take control. I wonder what Ms. May’s response will be when the first bomb goes off in a Toronto subway. Perhaps she is one of those who believes it could never happen here and that the bomb makers who have been apprehended in this country are only a few schoolboys on a lark. Every time she opens her mouth she does a disservice to a movement that has a worthwhile message. Best she move on to join the other ju-jubes in the NDP. I’m looking for a place to park my vote, but with wingnuts like Elizabeth May at the helm, it certainly won’t be with the Green Party.

  10. The handling of the Beverley Woodfield affair was clumsy in the extreme which has typified the leadership of Elizabeth May. The Green Party has good people and could occupy a constructive part of the political arena, but has failed to elevate the level of discussion under ELIZABETH MAY. The stench of failure surrounds our Green leader.

  11. “As I recall there were a number of Canadian citizens murdered in the 9/11 attacks…or don’t they count?”

    The answer is yes, they count. However, the attack on the world trade centre was done by terrorists of Saudi origin. The war in Afghanistan is not about subduing terrorists, it’s about subduing Afghan insurgents, most of which have no idea that we’re the “good guys.” They mostly want to see the people occupying their country leave and have no ideological connections to the omnipresent Al Queda. Do you really think the people there have So really, are we fighting the war for the people who died in the World Trade Centre, or are we fighting it for, as you acknowledged, American imperialism?

    “I wonder what Ms. May’s response will be when the first bomb goes off in a Toronto subway.”

    I’m sure Ms. May would simply call your statement what it is. Pure fearmongering, something that conservatives are incredibly adept at.

    We would not be a target for terrorists if we were not involved in their political affairs. If that isn’t true, why hasn’t Sweden been hit with any terrorist attacks? I mean, shouldn’t the terrorists hate the freedom of the Swedes as much as ours?

    I think it’s clear who the real “ju-jube” is, here.

  12. Chris, thank you for this well thought out blog. I thought the media release could have been written better, and I am not surprised by the twisting of the message by Harper for political gain.

    To DOT: You are a very difficult anonymous blogger to make happy. Your ‘comment moderation’ attack against Chris is the same accusation you used over and over against me on my blog. I imagine you are either afraid that you are being censured, or you are just trying to seed doubt in peoples minds. Seeing you try the same line here at this blog makes me think it’s the latter.

    When proven wrong you fail to acknowledge that event, and instead avoid it by making a new attack, which is inevitably later proven to be nothing more than anti GPC angst.

    Your persistence perhaps comes from a desire to see the Green Party succeed, or it could be a partisan attack that is intended to dishearten greens and keep them from their continued rise in polls.

    I do hope you find a way to open your mind and your heart up to the Green Party and its efforts and values.

  13. Actually Cameron, funny you should bring up censoring in this blog as the passage that I quoted above from Macleans was from the same article that you deleted and censored on your blog. It was because it was critical of the GP, and at the time you were a member of Council. You claimed it was due to the fact that it violated your copyright policy (even though it was only a very small portion of the whole article).

    Then you subsequently published full articles that were clearly copyright infringements, and posted CBC copyrighted clips toYouTube. When I brought this apparent discrepency to your attention, you thanked me and advised me you would clean up your YouTube account, which you didn’t do.

    This had followed a series of events where you had moderation off, then when you didn’t like the way the debate was heading, you would turn the moderation back on. On Blogger, this is quite apparent when you go to post, unlike what Chris suggests happens on WordPress.

    The final straw came after, for some reason, you inexplicably moved the post that contained my legitimate criticisms further down your blog postings where visitors could no longer readily read them. You once again gave some lame excuse which I did not accept due to your long track record on these types of dubious efforts.

    This involved one of your ever obsessive posting of your pro-nuclear cut and paste jobs. I suggested you request an engineer who posts on the GPC site to review your “work” as I could see you were a hopeless idealogue. I believe he discounted much of what you had written on the GPC site. I did not bother checking what criticisms he made on your site as I no longer go there.

  14. Sorry, I forgot you were from naturally blessed BC. It should have read “your ever obsessive posting of your anti-nuclear cut and paste jobs.”

  15. To DOT: Could you please create or cite your own blog, you seem very well researched, regardless of your negativity.

    Next, the news release remains unchanged on the green party blog, it should be given a explanatory footnote as I expect it will is still being pointed to and will continue to be pointed to to “smear” the green party. Regret for poor wording is great, but why not do something about it.

    The misinterpretation is obviously deliberate, “ISAF forces from a “Christian/Crusader” heritage will continue to fuel an insurgency that has been framed as a ‘Jihad’.” Is already extremely clear to me but it should be elaborated that :

    *because the forces would be able to be painted this way by the insurgency it will be able to justify its actions as being a ‘Jihad’.

  16. To: Ben

    Could you please use e-mail. You seem to only want to discuss things with like minded people in a “group think” type of way.

  17. … which is appropriate for the comments on an article on how Harper is trying to spin green party comments. In contrast, an attack against the censorship of an article on another blog should be confined to an e-mail to the offender as opposed to sarcastically whined about where it is irrelevant.

    I was not commenting that you have views opposite to mine but that you choose to attack people instead of their arguments. Your first post was very good and useful but you have become progressively more bitter and off-topic

  18. Ben,

    I was merely responding to Cameron Wigmore’s comment, whom I presume you know. Perhaps you should address your comments to him. We had a discusion on his blog. Why he wanted to bring it here you’d be best to ask him.

    Am I not allowed to respond to this comment:?

    To DOT: You are a very difficult anonymous blogger to make happy. Your ‘comment moderation’ attack against Chris is the same accusation you used over and over against me on my blog. I imagine you are either afraid that you are being censured, or you are just trying to seed doubt in peoples minds. Seeing you try the same line here at this blog makes me think it’s the latter.

    If Chris wants to delete his post, I’ll happily request to have mine deleted.

  19. Just popped in to wish you good luck in the byelection Chris!

    – – –

    To DOT: Please let me know if you do decide to create your own blog. I’d love to know your background and I’d gladly support your blog with my own comments.

    My previous comment that you quoted still stands, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t discuss the issues in a civilized and respectful way.

    A tip to DOT: If you stay on topic, you’ll find that there will be less derailing of threads and probably less negative exchanges. By commenting and linking to off topic hostile articles, you either purposefully or accidentally make yourself look like an internet troll looking for a fight. Either way, I hope you benefit from my advice.

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