Stephen Harper gets a prize:
Stephen Harper will go to New York this month to accept an award for statesmanship – but will snub the United Nations while he’s there.
The Appeal of Conscience Foundation, an international organization founded by New York rabbi Arthur Schneier, has picked Mr. Harper as its World Statesman of the Year for 2012. He joins a list of past recipients – also deemed promoters of human rights and freedom – that includes Jean Chrétien, Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel and, most recently, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.
I would question the value of any award that was once given to Papa Jean. Still this award, whatever its intrinsic worth, has given us some very fine examples of Harper Derangement Syndrome. HDS affects 9 out of every 10 Toronto Star employees, the tenth employee being part of the maintenance staff. In the fallout from Harper's trophy we must give full credit to Bob Hepburn for being the most ridiculous:
Clearly, though, the foundation either blatantly ignored or didn’t know that Harper is arguably the worst prime minister in history when it comes to defending democracy and human rights in Canada.
As has been established, Mr Hepburn's grasp of Canadian history is at best tenuous. Those who fail to study history do more than repeat it, they lose all perspective. Stephen Harper is hardly the worst anything in Canadian history, with the possible exception of his hockey helmet haircut. To say that so moderate a figure as Stephen Harper is egregious in Canadian history trivializes our past. Discredit where it is due. For all his faults, the current PM is no grand villain.
Worse at defending democracy? Let's take a little historical stroll, shall we? John A Macdonald believed that in order to vote you had to own a certain amount of property, or pay a certain amount in taxes. That meant that the founder of the country didn't want poor people to vote. Indeed he was such an elitist that he created an appointed Senate and imposed a steep property qualification to, again, keep out the poor. What was the point of the Senate? To protect the rich and middle class from the democratic excesses of the poor. John A was not a fan of mass democracy.
I'm not even going into the Pacific Scandal.
Then there was Robert Borden who, along with his able lieutenant Arthur Meighen, suspended most civil liberties in Canada under the aegis of the War Measures Act, locked up various Slavic immigrants for being enemy aliens and blatantly rigged the 1917 election. That's a wee bit more consequential than proroguing parliament a few times, a parliamentary procedure that has been routinely used for centuries by governments of various political stripes.
Then, of course, there was Canada's longest serving and most eccentric Prime Minister, Mackenzie King. When not cancelling war-time cabinet meetings to sing to his dying dog, or discussing policy alternatives with his dead mother (I'm not joking, both of those events are documented in his diaries), King thought nothing of reimposing the War Measures Act in 1939. While he didn't blatantly rig any national elections, he did engineer the King-Byng Affair. During that little temper tantrum he called the Governor-General undemocratic for handing over power to the Meighen Tories who had, ahem, won more seats than the King Liberals in the preceding election. He also had the Japanese locked up, but in fairness everyone was doing that back then, it was kind of a fashion statement.
Did we mention that King and Toronto Star impresario Joseph Atkinson were great pals?
Last, but never least, is Canada's "Greatest Prime Minister," Pierre Trudeau. It was Trudeau who bequeath to us the Charter of Blessed Righteousness. This sacred document, written we are told in the blood of Our Father Pierre, has allowed the Supreme Court over the last three decades to toss out acts passed by various duly elected parliaments. Something rather more undemocratic than cutting funding for a few obscure government agencies, which seems to be Mr Hepburn's main charge against the Prime Minister.
The real beef here is that anyone outside of Canada should think that Stephen Harper is anything but an aberration. Having lived so long in 24 Sussex Drive he has done something worse than get under the skin of the Trudeaupian elite, he is slowly supplanting them. For decades Canada's foreign policy, under both Tory and Grit governments, walked a very narrow Pearsonian plank. Now in six years he has junked it all.
Other Prime Ministers have deployed our forces overseas, none has sought to glorify the military in such a way as Mr Harper. Mulroney, over Apartheid, and Trudeau in doing his peacenik jaunt in 1983, cut dramatic figures. Both, however, stayed within the norms of respectable Leftist opinion. That crazy ol' Stephen isn't being somewhat less hostile to Israel, he's downright chummy with Benjamin Netanyahu, the closest thing the liberal democratic world has to a pariah. And we all know how hard it is for the PM to be chummy to anyone.
Bob Hepburn isn't outraged at the Prime Minister picking up an award. He's outraged that no one but him and his friends care.