STEPHEN HARPER'S TACTICS:
The following is a reprint from the Harper Index,(by the way, subscribe to this excellent list-Molly) devoted to keeping a close eye on our shifty Prime Minister. What it shows is a pattern of behavior that will undoubtedly be exasperated should sneaky Stevie ever achieve majority government. This pattern is highly authoritarian and anti-democratic. Read on....
INSULTS, DISCOURTESY AND DISRESPECT MARK HARPER TEAM'S BEHAVIOR:
Targets have included AIDS activists, Nobel Prize winners and Road to Avonlea star.
OTTAWA, April 21, 2008:
OTTAWA, April 21, 2008:
A big reason many Canadians are uncomfortable with Stephen Harper may be the vindictiveness with which he and his team snub political adversaries and others with opposing views. Last week it was Elections Commissioner William Corbett. Before that it was multiple Genie and Gemini winner, and Oscar nominee, Sarah Polley.
News reports last week carried excerpts of a Conservative news release which attacked Polley for her advocacy against Bill C-10, which would give the federal government opportunities to censor artists by retroactively withdrawing previously approved tax credits. "... During the 2004 Federal Election, Sarah Polley was an active member of the 'Stop Harper' campaign, even attaching her name to a news release attacking the now Prime Minister." read the release, which quoted Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre as saying, "Individuals with vested personal and political interests should be honest with Canadians on what their true intentions are." These are tough words to choose for a Canadian cultural icon best known as Sarah Stanley in the TV series Road to Avonlea, based on a character in L.M. Montgomery's "The Story Girl".
The personal nature of the attack on Polley brought to mind the Harper team's lengthy record of personal or ad hominem attacks going beyond civil requirements of discussion and debate, some of which are listed, in alphabetical order, below. HarperIndex.ca encourages readers to submit their own examples, with references if possible, to HarperIndex list entries. As more are received, we will add them to the list.
*AIDS activists felt snubbed and embarrassed when Harper refused to go to the International Aids Conference in Toronto.
*Bains, Navdeep [reader-contributed] is the Liberal MP for whom Harper claimed the Liberals voted against the extension of two clauses in the Anti-Terror Act in order to "protect". (His father-in-law is a potential witness at investigative hearings to advance the Air India criminal probe.)
*Bono, the international rock star and AIDS activist, was snubbed by Stephen Harper at the G8 summit, who said he was too busy to discuss the African AIDS crisis with him. "Meeting celebrities isn't my shtick," Harper said. "That was the shtick of the previous guy."
*Black History Breakfast Clubs were snubbed by Harper on a scheduled visit to Ottawa in February, 2007. While students from an inner-city breakfast club in Toronto had the opportunity to tour Parliament, Harper stayed far away from the quick, scheduled hello. He failed even to send an MP in his place to the event, scheduled as part of Black History Month. Every other political party with seats in Parliament sent a representative to greet the visitors. Present were the deputy leader of the Liberal opposition party, Michael Ignatieff, and prominent NDP MP Olivia Chow, who is the wife of NDP leader Jack Layton.
*Calvert, Lorne, at the time premier of Saskatchewan, was not alerted by Harper of a major federal-provincial announcement in that province in 2007, presumably because Harper was miffed about Calvert's strand on equalization, nor was he invited to it. Not inviting Calvert violated well-established protocol in a way clearly intended to humiliate.
*Casey, Bill, is the Conservative MP from Nova Scotia who was dumped from the Conservative caucus over his dispute with Harper over federal equalization payments, and the ownership and taxation of underground oil and gas resources from his province. During the same week in October 2007 that Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay announced the Atlantic Accord would more or less stay in force (details have yet to be provided), Harper said Casey would not be allowed to run for the Conservatives in Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, against the wishes of the local riding association.
*Climate scientists. Nobel Prize-winning scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were snubbed by the Harper government when it boycotted a celebration for them staged in February 2008 on Parliament Hill, hosted by the Swedish ambassador, and featuring speeches from all party leaders except Harper.
*Dion, Stéphane, the current Liberal leader is being routinely subjected to the same sort of graphic mockery (see the Conservative Party website) as Jean Chrétien, the former prime minister - which they only get away with because he isn't disfigured. (Chrétien, turned the tables on the Conservatives, long before Harper, in the 1993 federal election, in part by making the most of a Conservative campaign ad that appeared to exploit his facial disfigurement.)
*Hawkes, Jim, was the Conservative MP who was Harper's first political boss and the person Harper defeated to first win a seat for the Reform Party in 1993 in Calgary Southwest.
*Ipsos-Reid, the polling firm, was blasted by Harper in 2002 for having Liberal leanings, an accusation he was forced to retract.
*Johnson-Sirleaf, Ellen, the Liberian president and the first woman elected as a head of state in Africa, and who Time Magazine named as one of the top 100 people shaping the world today, got passed over for an official welcome from Harper when she visited Ottawa earlier this month. She met with foreign affairs minister Peter MacKay, but was overlooked by Harper, who met with Russian goalie Vladislav Tretiak the same day.
*Keen, Linda, chair of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, was attacked personally in terms of partisanship and competence in the House of Commons by Stephen Harper and natural resources minister Gary Lunn, producing a chill in the civil service.
*Leadbeater, Alan, second in command at the Canada Information Commissioner's Office, was quietly let go in May 2007, only months after he criticized the Conservative government for reneging on promises to strengthen Access to Information laws. Robert Marleau, a former Clerk of the House of Commons, had recently been hired to replace John Reid, the outspoken former commissioner. Marleau claimed he needed a "flatter organization" and did not need a second in command. Leadbeater, who had worked in the office for more than 15 years, was told he was no longer needed and was immediately escorted from the building.
*MacDonald, Rodney, Nova Scotia's premier, was snubbed in July 2007 when Harper went to Halifax for a funding announcement without informing him. The scheduling "problem" occurred a few weeks after the two engaged in a public feud over offshore resources and the distribution of transfer payments handed out to have-not provinces like Nova Scotia. Harper was eventually forced to feign agreement to Nova Scotia's terms, largely because of pressure led by Bill Casey (see above).
*Manning, Preston, founding leader of the Reform Party, was criticized as being unable to attract a national majority by former ally Harper, leading to Harper's giving up his House of Commons seat in 1997 and taking a job at the National Citizens Coalition.
*McGuinty, Dalton, the Ontario premier, came under unprecedented attack this year, with Conservative house leader Peter Van Loan calling McGuinty the "small man of Confederation", and finance minister Jim Flaherty taking the extreme step of holding a news conference to attack the 2008 Ontario budget the day before it was read.
*Measner, Adam, president of the Canadian Wheat Board and a Board employee for 20+ years, was forced to resign when Harper's government fulfilled the dreams of early Reform members by stripping the Canadian Wheat Board of responsibilities and putting people in charge who want to destroy it.
*Okulitch, Andrew, a scientist emeritus with the Geological Survey of Canada, was relieved of his duties in 2006 after refusing a directive to refer to the federal government as "Canada's New Government". Later he was reinstated after the controversy attracted international attention.
*Ontario, Province of. [reader-contributed] Never has a prime minister unilaterally declared ideological jihad against an entire province, yet this is essentially what Harper has done. When finance minister Jim Flaherty blatantly called into question the intelligence of any company or business considering investment in Ontario, it was more than a partisan attack on a provincial liberal leader recently rewarded with another majority government; he was also calling into question the intelligence of Ontario voters as a whole (who had summarily dismissed his government from running Ontario in October 2003).
*Opposition parties [reader-contributed] were labelled Taliban supporters for asking questions about Afghan prisoners.
*Parliamentary Press Gallery. Stephen Harper has always seen the national media corps as the enemy. His mentor Tom Flanagan clearly instructs that reporters are left-leaning and eager to punish Conservatives for small errors. As a result, Harper never lets down his guard with veteran national reporters, preferring staged photo ops with local media, and internally-produced video and news releases. Stephen Harper refuses to do scrums unless he can control who asks questions. He has security officials escort journalists and camera people away from the hallway outside cabinet meetings and refuses to attend Press Gallery dinners.
*Polley, Sarah. See above.
*Riddell, Alan, a lifelong Conservative, was bullied out of his long-nurtured candidacy in Ottawa South in favour of the whistleblower Alan Cutler. His libel suit against Harper - whose public denial of a deal with Riddell was contradicted by court documents - was settled out of court.
*Williams, Danny, Newfoundland's premier, was an attempted victim of snubbing who turned the tables on Harper, whom he has battled over equalization payments and oil revenues. In a news conference, Williams repeatedly called Harper "Steve" and won an overwhelming victory in the subsequent provincial election as a result of his confrontations with the Prime Minister.
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