Three Strikes and Stephen Harper is Out

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Outside Alberta’s Calgary School, scholars of Canadian history are well aware of Washington’s repeated attempts to consolidate control of the North American continent, fulfilling the original intent of the (in)famous Monroe Doctrine. Canadian prairie farmer, two-time contender for the leadership of the pre-Harper Conservatives, and author of a book chronicling those expansionist efforts, David Orchard records four military invasions of the country, and the constant machinations against all spheres of Canadian life emanating from south of the 49th. This is not the stuff of fantasy, but historical fact.

Orchard was painfully aware of Harper’s Yankee tendencies in matters of economy and social engineering, and made as a condition of ceding his Tory leadership challenge Peter MacKay’s promise he would not allow political congress between Canada’s founding Conservatives and Harper’s hard right Alliance party. Orchard warned all who would listen, but ultimately, his was a voice left largely in the wilderness by an over-concentrated, and disinterested Canadian media. Of course, MacKay broke his promise immediately, enjoining Harper’s Alliance in exchange for a cabinet post and the nebulous illusion Britain’s Mr. Brown knows well; a tacit promise of eventually proving heir apparent to the party’s leadership.

What worried David Orchard’s sleep was soon made real by Harper following his January minority assumption to Sussex Drive; in the scant months since, Stephen Harper has managed to make Canada wholly unrecognizable to many of its citizens; eviscerating vital societal determinants that distinguish the country’s independence, Harper has accepted whole cloth the Republic philosophy ruling, and ruining, the United States these half-dozen horrible years past. In foreign policy, law and order, and on the environment, Ottawa now mirrors Washington perfectly. Like an echo, Harper has, on the strength of an immensely unpopular minority administration, taken it upon himself to “harmonize” the country’s judiciary, military and environmental ethos with the U.S., ostensibly determining an end to Canada’s social democratic experiment.

Striking at the very pillars of the nation, Harper has accelerated efforts begun by his Liberal predecessors to redefine Canada’s foreign policy, not only making it a more conspicuous actor within George W. Bush’s so-named Global War on Terror, but also maintaining a muscular approach in Haitian affairs. Worse, Harper shamelessly sallied forth, pre-empting our good neighbour south, to the front of the line of those nations that would support Israel’s siege and destroy campaign against the civilian inmates of Prison Camp Palestine. He followed that disgrace with equal disdain for justice and human rights, chiming his support for the rogue Jewish State’s obliteration of its neighbour Lebanon this summer. In that instance, Ottawa disregards entirely the criminality of Israel and its masters in Washington, even if it means, as was witnessed in Lebanon, leaving the wanton murder of Canadian citizens unchallenged.

With Afghanistan coming daily to look more and more like Canada’s “Iraq,” combined with Canadian’s long wariness of American imperial aims on this continent and abroad, Stephen Harper is set to inherit the collective backlash of more than a half-decade of wars and occupations just gone by and still going nowhere. Should there be another election, an early winter election, a second winter election in a row, Stephen Harper will find he and his band of diminutive Bushist Republicans vying for re-election on a war and security platform, hoping to sell Canadians on the American prescription that to any but the most determinedly uninformed is clearly a recipe for disaster. And this for Harper, already a little short of originality in his public pronouncements, means standing in front of the Canadian public, as the flagged-coffin ceremonies carry on in the background, repeating word for word George W. Bush’s worn scripts, carefully including all the right “stay the course” platitudes and other too-familiar banalities.

Despite this, Harper seems intent on forcing an early December election, perhaps hoping to shelter the campaign in the shadows of the looming U.S. mid-term elections. The tool to bring this about is a little piece of legislation,  introduced in the house, that is so odious the opposition can’t allow it to pass into law. Should Harper take his Clean Air Act to the floor for a vote he and his neophyte colleagues will be finished.

Admitting the political course charted from the Potomac is a proven disaster being something yet beyond imagining in Harper’s Ottawa circles (that obvious and inevitable acceptance pending at some future time) Stephen “Steve” Harper’s enthusiasm for Canada’s engagement in more wars and occupations as directed remains exuberant. As does his ardour for other made in America policies.

Perhaps reflecting his political initiation in Alberta, Harper’s Conservatives are proving as environmentally regressive as their Texan brethren. Under Harper, the new government of Canada has dithered on the old government’s Kyoto commitments, and now seems ready to ditch it entirely. This week, Harper’s presentation of the Clean Air Act confirms it, as with its namesake legislation in the United States, does nothing to address Canada’s contribution to global climate heating, or diminish our massive, and growing levels of CO2 gas emissions. Environmental critics, most notable the prestigious David Suzuki Foundation, blast the act as being, at best, little more than a stalling tactic meant to keep meaningful environmental action on the backburner for another five years. It is in fact legislation so blatantly hypocritical, and ineffectual, parties hoping to bolster their green credentials cannot afford to hold their collective nose and allow it passage.

This is Harper’s gamble: Ram through an energy sector-friendly, anti-environmental package now, while the rival Liberal’s are consumed in a leadership contest that’s becoming nastier by the day, daring them to force an environmental election. But, there’s more smelling about Stephen Harper’s project than just a bad air act.

While Canadians face the prospect of being treated to scientific side-show of an election, the third strike against the nation’s integrity is unfolding in the background. The transformation of Canada’s judiciary has carried on, with little comment from either the press, or the opposition. Most worrisome is the Conservative’s proposed adoption of a “three strike” provision, as in America, that allows endless incarceration for crimes that would otherwise not merit a life sentence. The enactment of three strike laws in the United States has proven a large contributor to that incarceration-crazy country’s burgeoning prison/slave population.


Stephen Harper will argue from the stump that Canada needs to import the more draconian American penal measures, precepts and practice to keep us safe. This despite crime trends turning in the opposite direction. It’s  an approach guaranteed to balloon the prison system, filling the jails with B.C. potheads, and indigent panhandlers. The subsequently overburdened system will doubtless require privatization.

Just this week past, George W. Bush signed into law the Military Commissions Act, (HR 6616) putting the finishing touch on the disintegration of the rule of law that led the West out of the dark age, birthing first the Enlightenment, then the modern democratic state. The Act legalizes everything done contrary to both U.S. and international law by this administration going back to September 11, 2001, and O.K.’s all it may yet do. It is, in effect the final flourish, a stroking into law the lawlessness practiced by this administration from its beginnings.

Stephen Harper will this winter be made to defend his decisions to repeat America’s crime and punishment failures, ally with the torturers of Maher Arar (and uncounted others), and further enjoin the slaughter of innocents in Afghanistan, while turning a blind eye to the atrocities practiced by his friends in Israel, Britain, Australia, and of course, America. And, should Canada’s supine pressmen find more nerve than so far demonstrated, Stephen, the enthusiastic defender of the abandonment of the ancient right of Habeas Corpus, and all else undone by Washington, must too answer for his determination to abandon the environment in favour of corporate oligarchs.

Should Harper's fatally flawed "Clean Air Act" bill be presented for a vote in the house, Mr. Harper will certainly follow the short-lived administration of Joe Clark, while gaining a degree of contempt it took Brian Mulroney a decade to nurture.


additional source materials:

Globe re: negroponte in Canada:

Globe re: bad air

Torstar Chantal 3


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