On paper, Harper has a B.A. in Economics from the University of Calgary, but given his bizarre pronouncements on this and other subjects, it’s clear that his intellectual capital hasn’t earned any interest. In fact, Harper brings no appreciable skills to public office. All he has is a neo-con, Christian parochialism that makes most Canadians recoil.
Yet contrary to all logic, many now believe Harper and his party are a credible governing alternative. Globe and Mail columnist Lawrence Martin has ascribed Harper’s decreased unacceptability to smiling and to a press more interested in pounding the daylights out of Martin than in holding Harper accountable for his, um... inconsistencies.
For those of you still thinking about voting CRAZY, here are two instances of Harper on the record:
• “It’s past time the feds scrapped the Canada Health Act.” (As vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition, 1997.)
• “We also support the exploration of alternative ways to deliver health care. Moving toward alternatives, including those provided by the private sector, is a natural development of our health care system.” (Toronto Star, October 2002)
The NCC was founded in 1967 specifically to oppose public health care, and since the late 1980s has had a cozy relationship with the Reform/CRAZY Party. Harper is a product of this groupthink, so his statements are at least consistent. Yet, on the Party’s website (Dec. 2, 2005) Harper now says:
• “There will be no private, parallel system…We can and will achieve better results for patients and maintain the essentials of our system of public health insurance while maintaining our universal public health care system.”
What could account for such an abdication of principle? Voters might look at this change as a sign of growth, but if Harper can so easily betray a core belief like abolishing public heath care, what does that say about his party’s grasp of government? How many other wacko NCC policy positions will he have to repudiate just to be electable?
• “I don't know all the facts on Iraq, but I think we should work closely with the Americans.” (Report Newsmagazine (defunct), March 25, 2002.)
• “This government's only explanation for not standing behind our allies is that they couldn't get the approval of the Security Council at the United Nations—a body [on] which Canada doesn't even have a seat.” (CTV’s Question Period, March 30, 2003.)
• “It was about putting pressure on Saddam to comply with UN resolutions and I continue to believe if allies had acted in a concerted measure to put that pressure, we could have avoided a war. But we didn't do that,” (CTVNews, June 9, 2004.)
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a Prime Minister to profess ignorance and then tell the world the U.S. will make our military decisions for us. The sad thing is, Harper’s response was honest. The CRAZY party would defer to the U.S. on major matters of national security, even though Washington is run by a gang of warmongering sociopaths.
Regarding the United Nations, it appears Harper hasn’t read the Defence Act, which stipulates that Canada will send troops into combat only under the auspices of the UN or NATO. The less said about his embarrassing attempt to extricate his foot from his mouth the better.
Harper has also said he would put the issue of same-sex marriage to a free vote in the House, oblivious to the fact that equality rights are entrenched in the Constitution. Do I sense another embarrassing about-face coming?
Until this country has a genuine Conservative Party, the best we can hope for is a minority Liberal government kept in check by the NDP. Assuming that Harper and his populist posse did form government, they’d spend so much time in damage control that they’d have no time to govern.
Therefore, dear voter, I ask that you not to subject Canada to such ignominy. Instead, vote for the best candidate of any other party, and hope for the best.