Illustration by Victor Juhasz for National Observer
I was born in 1947, part of the first wave of post-war baby boomers. The Prime Minister of Canada at the time was William Lyon MacKenzie. There have been another twelve Prime Ministers since then with Pierre Trudeau having served in the office on two separate occasions.
My interest in politics started at an early age. I recall family discussions/arguments about who would be the best Prime Minister, why I should support the Liberal party and the importance of casting your vote. When I got older and started to make up my own mind about politics, I voted for every federal political party, whichever one I thought would be the best to represent Canada domestically and internationally at the time. My only foray into political office has been at the school board level and running as a Green candidate in the Ontario provincial election in 2007.
Under Stephen Harper, Canada has taken a turn for the worse. I and thousands of others like me have vowed to do everything in our power to bring him down. Harper is arguably the most dangerous and the most hated man to ever occupy the office of Prime Minister of Canada.
The Worst Prime Minister in Canadian History
Michael Harris, the author of Party of One, certainly believes Harper is the worst prime minister in Canadian history. “There is something very Stalinesque about Harper,” observes Harris. “My bottom line on this guy is, he hates democracy. He doesn’t care about truth and cares only about the perception of what benefits him. In that way he’s way worse [than his predecessors].”
Published on Dec 19, 2014
Michael Harris, investigative journalist and author of “Party of One”, addressed delegates of Unifor’s Ontario Regional Council, sharing some of his startling findings about the Harper government and their conservative agenda.
More than any other media source, the National Observer has skillfully documented Stephen Harper’s lusterless and uninspired tenure as Prime Minister in its two-part question: Is Harper the worst prime minister in history? Following are excerpts from the National Observer analysis.
The Erosion of Democracy
- Proroguing Parliament four times, shutting it down for a total of 181 days
- Omnibus bills – to circumvent debate and implement sweeping changes to laws and regulations
- Election spending fraud
- Robocalling during the 2011 election
- Fair Elections Act – became known as the ‘Unfair Elections Act’ for its interference in the electoral process
- Muzzling public officials and scientists preventing them from speaking freely about their research
- Spying on environmental and aboriginal activists
- Auditing environmental and civil society groups
- Taxpayer-funded political ads
- Stretching the current election to 11 weeks from the usual 5 to disadvantage the opposition at a cost of dozens of millions to taxpayers
- Refusing to meet with provincial Premiers
- Neutering of cabinet ministers and Conservative Members of Parliament forcing them to stick to talking points and avoid candidates meetings during the election
Dismal Environmental Performance
- Canada’s environmental record under Stephen Harper has become the joke of the international climate and science community
- Canada pulled out of the Kyoto Accord which Harper called ” job-killing economy-destroying”
- The worst performer of all industrialized countries on climate change action – ranked 58th out of 61 ahead of Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan and Australia
- Refusal to sign any binding agreement on greenhouse emissions reductions
- Gutting of environmental laws and regulations under omnibus Bill C-38
- Refusing to attend the climate change summit attended by 120 world leaders in New York in September 2014
- Neutering The National Energy Board by appointing board members who are Conservative cronies
- Champion of corporate sector and the development of the Tar Sands at the expense of the environment, public health and First Nations rights
- Federal scientists are prevented from speaking to the news media resulting in a 70 percent drop in climate change and environmental information
Economic Health of the Country
- Canada has the one of the most vulnerable large economies in the world because of its focus on oil production from the Tar Sands
- Canada has had deficits since 2008 and the federal debt continues to rise, having now reached $615 billion
- Loss of over 400,000 manufacturing sector jobs
- Return to a commodity-based economy – exporting oil and minerals
- Canada has not developed an alternative renewable energy sector while other countries have
- Consumer debt has risen has almost doubled since 2006
- The average Canadian’s wages have risen by 6 percent between 1998 and 2012 whereas the average compensation of Canada’s top 100 CEOs increased by 73 percent
- Productivity growth and R&D record are among the worst of any other industrialized country
Rampant and Repeated Corruption
- The Senate scandal has embroiled the Prime Minister’s Office in a scheme to hide the truth from Canadians
- Other Conservatives charged with illegal activities include Michael Sona, Bruce Carson, Arthur Porter, Devinder Shory, Peter Penashue, Saulie Zajdel, Rahim Jaffer, Dean Del Mastro, James Bezan and Nathan Jacobson
- The F-35 jet fighter contract
- The in and out scandal – getting around election spending limits by $1.3 million
- The Bruce Carson influence-peddling scandal
- Harper’s enemies list includes environmentalists, scientists, opposition MPs, everything Trudeau, First Nations, NGOs, journalists, artists, in short anyone who opposes his views
Foreign Policy and Diplomacy
- Poor relations with US President Barack Obama
- World leaders are appalled at Canada’s foreign policy which is seen as practitioner of bully-boy diplomacy
- Refusal to give aid to Africa
- In 2010 Canada (for the first time in our history) lost its attempt to get a seat the Security Council to Portugal
- Canada now ranks 67th on the United Nations peacekeeping list
- Harper secretly signed the FIPA agreement with China – a one-sided deal lasting until 2045
- In 2012, Canada was only one of nine countries in the UN voting against Palestinians statehood
- Sending fighter jets to Iraq to fight ISIS has proven to be an ineffective way to fight terrorism
Contempt for Culture
- Harper government has cut $45-million of funding for arts and culture programs
- Determined to destroy the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) – “first we bring them to their knees and then we restructure them” has said Harper about the CBC
- 9 of 11 CBC board members are Tory donors – an attempt to bring about an ideological shift to pro-business broadcasting
- Canada is 16th out of 18 countries in per-capita funding of public broadcasters
- Historical institutions have almost been destroyed with massive cuts in funding and the elimination of entire programs except those focused on military history
- Has made all-out war on the knowledge industry
- In the name of fighting terrorism and national security, Harper has fanned the flames of anti-Muslim racism
Heather Mallick, columnist for Harper’s Magazine (no link to Stephen Harper) has labelled our Prime Minister “the Nixon of the North”. She reflects on Canada’s fall from grace:
What a long, strange slide it has been for Canada since 2006, when Stephen Harper became prime minister….Harper is Nixon without the charm, he’s Nixon without the progressive social and environmental programs, he’s Nixon but he worships at a fundamentalist church. If he wins re-election in October, Americans might want to consider a northern wall.
Tom Flanagan is a former political adviser and mentor to Stephen Harper in earlier days at the University of Calgary. “There is a huge streak of paranoia in Stephen,” he says. “He can be suspicious, secretive, and vindictive, prone to sudden eruptions of white-hot rage over meaningless trivia, at other times falling into week-long depressions in which he is incapable of making decisions.” Needless to say the two are no longer on speaking terms.
A recent Toronto Star OpEd remarks that Stephen Harper has governed rigidly as a right-wing idealogue [which has run counter to traditional Canadian values].
Of the nearly one-third among Canadians he has courted assiduously, most support him passionately. Of the two-thirds who don’t like him, most despise him. This level of polarization is a damning indictment of a prime minister who has shown himself to be too small a man to be big enough to be the leader for all Canadians. Most of the nearly 70 per cent of Canadians who want Harper gone have this heartfelt grievance: he has changed their Canada for the worse.
Stephen Harper – Legacy of a Tyrant
Ian McKay, a professor of History at Queen’s University, says it best about Harper’s overall legacy:
I would say it has been an unmitigated disaster. I don’t think we’ve ever had a prime minister who’s failed to articulate, to the extent this one has, a vision of the country. He’s essentially ruled the country as a CEO and given Canadians zero inspiration. I would be hard-pressed to find one moment where Harper has made us feel proud of Canada.
Rolly Montpellier is the Founder and Managing Editor of BoomerWarrior.Org. He’s a Climate Reality leader, a Blogger and a Climate Activist. He’s a member of Climate Reality Canada, Citizens’ Climate Lobby (Ottawa) and 350.Org (Ottawa), the Ethical Team (as an influencer) and Global Population Speakout.