Stephen Harper recently launched the longest election campaign in 143 years, meaning millions of Canadians will have the delight of witnessing campaign signs on every lawn and highway for the next two months. Although many have critiqued the Prime Minister’s decision to launch such a lengthy campaign period, there are some positive aspects: it supplies Canadians with sufficient time to become informed and educated on the parties running, and supplies political commentators and journalists with more time to expose the dirt. And, to be completely fair and honest, Mr. Harper’s political career is buried in dirt.
This article will specifically focus on Stephen Harper and reveal some important facts – as well as trivial and peculiar ones – that many Canadians may not know about his administration. Furthermore, I must clarify that this article is not intended to demonize Harper, rather it’s to expose sourced facts that Canadians deserve to know about their government.
15. Renamed ‘The Government of Canada’ to ‘The Harper Government.’
Stephen Harper is the only prime minister in Canadian history to rename the government to include his name. In 2010, public servants from various departments confirmed that “The Government of Canada” had indeed been renamed to “The Harper Government.” As narcissistic as changing the title of government to your name is, compared to the other things Harper has done, it doesn’t come off as that harmful or surprising.
14. Wasteful Spending at the 2010 G20 Summit
At the 2010 G20 summit in Toronto, Harper caused outcries across the country as he spent over a billion dollars of tax payers’ money bolstering security and building an artificial lake. The three day event also saw the largest mass arrest in Canadian history. However, despite the 1,100 arrests that were made, only 99 of them resulted in actual criminal charges.
13. Doesn’t Consider Clean Water a Human Right
In 2010, the Harper government refused to sign the UN declaration which designated clean water as a human right. Also, in Canada’s 2011 budget, the Harper Administration failed to allocate sufficient funds for drinking water on First Nations reserves, leaving over 100 Aboriginal communities at risk. Also, new measures under The Navigable Waters Protection Act introduced in 2011 no longer protect the majority of Canadian Lakes and Rivers.
12. Broke his Promise on Cutting Subsidies to Oil Companies
Harper first ran for election on a platform to cut $1.4 billion in federal subsidies to oil companies. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, it appears Harper confused oil companies with childcare, as his administration cut $1.2 billion from the establishment of national childcare and failed to cut any significant subsidies to oil companies – which to this day continue to see record profits.
11. Found in Contempt of Parliament
In 2011, the Harper government became the first in Canadian history to be found in contempt of Parliament for refusing to disclose sufficient information concerning the estimated costs of several items, including stealth fighter jets and new crime legislation.
10. Denied a Canadian Citizen Basic Rights
Omar Khadr was only 15 years old when he was captured by American forces in Afghanistan and sent to Guantanamo Bay. Khadr is unique in that he’s the only Canadian citizen that Canada’s refused to seek extradition or repatriation for – despite the urgings of Amnesty International and the Canadian Bar Association. This decision to ignore Khadr and leave him in Guantanamo Bay resulted in condemnation from all of the opposition parties, The Liberals, NDP, Green and Bloc Bloc Québécois. Furthermore, in a move that defied court ruling, the Harper Administration also refused to accord Khadr the most basic of rights, such as access to media.
9. Scrapped the long Form Census
In 2010, the Harper Administration scrapped the mandatory long form census, a decision that was condemned by everyone who needs and uses data and which many feared would make it more difficult to determine income-inequality trends, housing needs and whether low-income families are receiving adequate services. The scrapping of the long form census also prompted the chief of Statistics Canada to resign in protest. 5 years on and it’s been revealed that the cancellation of the census has already severely damaged research in key areas, in particular how well immigrants are doing in the labour market and how well the middle class is faring. To summarize in the words of Sara Mayo, a social planner at the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton, Canadians are paying more money for less reliable data.
8. Shut Down Parliament Twice.
The Harper Administration has shut down Parliament twice: the first time was to block an inquiry into Afghan detainees and the second time was to avoid a vote of non-confidence – which Harper was expected to lose. On both these occasions, Harper’s decision to shut down the Parliament received criticisms from all four opposition parties who accused him and his Administration of undermining Canada’s democracy.
7. Wasted Billions on Buying Fighter Jets.
In 2010, the Harper government spent $18 billion on new F-35 jets from the giant American military contractor, Lockheed Martin, without inviting a single competing bid. Now, whether you support the Conservatives or not, one thing everyone can agree on is that it’s not very conservative to ignore strategies that could reduce unnecessary government spending.
6. Shut Down Women’s and Minority Advocacy Groups.
Since coming into power, Harper has cut funding for women’s advocacy by 43 percent, shut down 12 out of 16 Status of Women offices in Canada and eliminated funding of legal voices for women and minority groups, including the National Association of Women and the Law and the Courts Challenges Program.
5. Used to be a Member of The Reform Party
Stephen Harper used to be the Policy Chief of the Reform Party during a time when it had numerous members who were also part of Heritage Front, a white supremacist group. The Reform Party would evolve into the Alliance Party of Canada, which later merged with the Progressive Conservative Party in 2003 to form the modern-day Conservative Party of Canada. Some argue there are still elements of Heritage Front evident in the Harper government today, taking into consideration his decision to shut down women’s and minority advocacy groups among other things.
4. Tarnished Canada’s International Reputation as Peacekeepers.
It’s not much of a secret that Stephen Harper has tarnished Canada’s reputation as peacekeepers. In 2013, the Harper government made the biggest monetary cut to foreign aid out of any other country, and in 2014, launched and later expanded Operation Impact, which involves active military strikes in Iraq and Syria to take on ISIS.
3. Overspent in the 2006 Federal Election.
During a federal court hearing in the spring of 2011, it was exposed that Harper’s Conservatives deliberately violated the $18.3 million election spending limit. This revelation struck the bedrock of democratic governance, as it revealed the troubling truth that the Conservatives cheated in the campaign that brought them to power in 2006. Undoubtedly, if the Conservatives hadn’t cheated, there’s the possibility another party may have won the election.
2. Proposed and Passed Bill C51.
Bill C51 is the new anti-terrorism act which the Harper government passed into law just a few months ago. The omnibus bill faced heavy criticism, largely because of how it amends the criminal code, grants more power to Canadian spy agencies and law enforcement, and infringes on basic rights to privacy and speech. Accumulatively, the bill has been condemned by the UN, constitutional law experts, former prime ministers, former Supreme Court justice members, First Nations, community organizations, business leaders, newspaper editors, academics, and many others.
1. Was a Member of The Northern Foundation
In 1989, Stephen Harper was a member of the radical-right-wing Northern Foundation. Mr. Harrison documents that the Northern Foundation had close ties with the Reform party and had numerous Neo-Nazi skinheads as organizers. Overall, the Northern Foundation of which Mr. Harper was a member, is a male-dominated and self-anointed “white brotherhood.”
Bibliography: theglobeandmail.com, thestar.com, agoracosmopolitan.com, rabble.ca, thetyee.com