Canadian PM Harper Drives a Wedge Between Freedom-Loving Canadians and Terrorist Sympathizers

In a powerful speech before a very supportive crowd of Canadian Muslims,  Persians, Asians, South Asians and Russians, in the multicultural Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill,  Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper threw down the gauntlet against homegrown jihadi terrorism.

In doing so, Harper has driven a wedge between Canadians who look to the government to protect their freedoms and their democratic Canadian way of life and the federal Liberals on the left who are clearly blind to the threat of jihadi terrorism in Canada.

In his speech, Harper pulled no punches: “Over the last few years a great evil has been descending over our world…Jihadi terrorism is one of the most dangerous enemies our world has ever faced….  Jihadist terrorism is not a future possibility, it is a present reality…Violent jihadism is not just a danger somewhere else, it seeks to harm us here in Canada, in our cities and in our neighbourhoods.”

On this occasion as in other previous occasions, Harper has cited several examples of very real and disturbing jihadist terrorist actions that have occurred in Canada;

  1. The Toronto 18, a Muslim terrorist cell in which its members planned blowing up Toronto landmarks ( the CN Tower), the Parliamentary buildings in Ottawa and capturing Prime Minister Harper and publicly beheading him. This group was infiltrated and stopped. Some of its members have been successfully charged and convicted with terrorist offences;
  2. The proposed blowing up of Via Rail trains by two Canadian Islamic militants;
  3. The tragic murder of a Quebec soldier in Quebec, run down by a car driven by a local Muslim terrorist; and
  4. The equally tragic shooting of a unarmed Canadian soldier on Parliament Hill in Ottawa by another home-grown radical Muslim terrorist.
Stephen Harper SpeechAccordingly, Harper and his majority government has introduced sweeping anti-terrorist legislation which would in effect,  grant Canada’s spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, (CSIS) the power to intervene and disrupt threats to national security.  This proposed legislation would also make it legally easier for CSIS to use these additional powers effectively and expeditiously.  This new legislation is a major change from CSIS merely collecting intelligence and handing off the matter to Canada’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police ( RCMP).

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Specifically, this proposed legislation is in direct response to the above third incident, whereby the Canadian authorities had sought a court action to monitor or restrict the actions of the alleged Muslim terrorist and murderer, but was denied because of the then legal barriers in place under the current anti-terrorist legislation.

The rationale is that if this proposed legislation had been in place, that murder may have been prevented.

Certain measures in the proposed anti-terrorist legislation are as follows:

  • Giving courts the power to order the removal of “terrorist propaganda” from websites using Canadian Internet service providers.
  • Making it easier for authorities to restrict the movements of suspected jihadis, meaning they can apply to a court if they only believe terrorist activity “may be carried out.” The previous threshold called on law-enforcement authorities to state they believed an act “will be carried out.”
  • Extending the length of time authorities can detain suspected terrorists for up to seven days from three.
  • Relaxing the threshold needed to prevent suspected jihadis from boarding a plane, allowing Ottawa to bar those whom the government believes are heading abroad to take part in terrorist activities.
  • Granting government departments explicit authority to share private information, including passport applications, or confidential commercial data, with law-enforcement agencies.

To Harper, his Conservative government and a majority of Canadians, jihadi terrorism is a very real threat to Canadians’ security, Canadian values, and to Canadian freedoms.  And the fundamental role of government is to protect Canadians, their values and their freedoms.

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To Justin Trudeau, the leader of the Liberals, his party and to many Canadians on the left, their position is markedly different .

Fundamentally, Trudeau and his Liberals believe that these young men are not Islamic terrorists,  but mentally ill young men. Alternatively, if they are not mentally ill, they are at least misunderstood men who have been alienated from society. Or these men are angry at Canada due to Canada’s foreign policies in Muslim countries. ( Recall Trudeau’s comments about the “root causes” of terrorism after the horrific Boston Marathon bombing.)

In other words, the blame lays with western societies ( or more particularly Canadian society) and Canada’s militaristic foreign policies.

Note the recent comments of Judy Sgro, long time Liberal MP, who blamed the threat of ISIS coming to terrorize Canada, primarily upon PM Harper, for his support of Canadian forces in Iraq, assisting the American-led coalition in fighting the brutal ISIS group.

In a very real sense, Trudeau, his Liberal party and many Canadians on the left who support Trudeau, are somewhat sensitive and sympathetic to these jihadi terrorists because they blame Harper, the Conservatives,  and their anti-ISIS foreign policies on the existence of these terrorists on Canadian lands.

Trudeau’s prescription is to stop all Canadian foreign adventures in Arab and Muslim countries. And that any criticism of radical Muslim terrorists, both locally or foreign or their activities is racist and Islamaphobic, because Islam is a peaceful religion.

Also any additional efforts to combat home-grown terrorism, both legally and militarily should be constrained out of political correctness and an undue concern for violating Charter rights and freedoms.
So herein lies the fundamental divide between these two federal leaders and their parties.

Harper and his party believe it is the fundamental duty of the federal government to fight home-grown jihadis, protect Canadians’ security and their freedoms and values.

Trudeau and his party believe that there is no jihadi problem in Canada. And if there is such a problem, the best way to protect Canadians is through isolationism, non-militaristic peace-keeping and being more sensitive and sympathetic to the radical Muslims in our midst and in our neighborhoods.

I believe that this is a defining moment in our country’s history. The next federal election will be fought on these two conflicting visions and belief systems.

Canadian PM Stephen Harper Courageously Slams Hamas’ Terrorism

Canadian Prime Minister Harper dominates all western political leaders, in terms of his courageous advocacy of Israel’s right to defend itself with all necessary and justifiable force.

In this area, no western leader can match Harper’s eloquence, tough-mindedness and principled and articulate vocal opposition to Hamas’ terrorism.
And that unfortunately includes the hapless and sadly” missing in action” US President Obama.In the wake of Israel’s bombing of Gazan missile installations, in reaction to hundreds of missiles being launched by Hamas at Israeli citizens, Harper recently publicly remarked that “self defense is not merely an Israeli right to be exercised in the abstract, but an Israeli obligation that must be defended by all Western nations.”

Harper further stated that “failure by the international community to condemn these reprehensible actions will encourage these terrorists to continue their appalling actions.’’

Harper, on behalf of Canada, called on its allies and partners to recognize that these terrorist acts [by Hamas] were unacceptable and that solidarity with Israel was the best way of stopping the conflict.

Contrast Harper’s full-throated support for Israel’s right to defend itself by attacking Hamas’ missile sites and Hamas’ military leaders, with Obama’s embarrassingly weak response.Obama paid mere lip service to Israel’s right to defend itself,  when he stated that, “Israel has a right to defend itself from rocket attacks that terrorize the Israeli people.

But then Obama called upon Prime Minister Netanyahu and demanded that Israel show restraint and press for a truce.

To which Harper called out the weak-kneed Obama and publicly rebuked him when Harper stated to the effect that ending the war does not require Israeli “restraint”.

Harper publicly scolded the feckless Obama, the UN and the “international community” for calling for Israeli restraint in the face of escalating rocket fire aimed at murdering and maiming Israeli civilians.

Harper called a spade and spade. He demanded that the world declare the sole responsibility for the violence belonged to the Hamas terrorists.

Harper argued that Hamas and Hamas alone was fully responsible for the current Israel-Hamas war.

Harper further asserted, “that Hamas was deliberately using human shields to further terror in the region.’’

Harper rejected outright calls coming from both the White House and the UN that Israel agree to a negotiated ceasefire with Hamas.

Harper insisted that not only should Israel not agree to a ceasefire, but Harper, said Israel should continue her offensive until the Iranian-backed terror group was “massively degraded,” if not eliminated entirely—once again arguing that “indiscriminate rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel are terrorist acts, for which there is no justification.”

Contrast those clear eyed and strong comments with the Obama Administration’s pathetic plea that both parties (Israel and Hamas) do all they can to protect civilians and mealy-mouthed observation that the US was heartbroken by the civilian death toll in Gaza.

In effect treating the Hamas action and Israel’s defensive military counter action as morally equivalent.

How disgraceful and shameful!

With Obama and the international community in mind, Canadian Foreign Minister Baird drove home the point and said what Obama should have said.

“There is no moral equivalency between a democratic state and a terrorist organization” and  that “Hamas militants hiding within its civilian population is abominable.”

How the mighty have fallen. The United States used to be front and centre in the Middle East—leading from the front.

Harper’s principled and courageous defense of Israel, in contrast to Obama’s characteristically disengaged feeble approach, has demonstrated that the US under Obama is no longer even leading from behind (which logically makes no sense). But is pathetically cowering in the corner, hoping all the troubles in the Mideast will magically blow over all by themselves.

The Duffy Scandal: Harper Will Emerge Stronger Than Ever

After news that Harper intervened in Mike Duffy’s expense scandal, I watched CBC’sThe National with Peter Mansbridge. Mansbridge was positively gleeful. He was practically wetting himself with excitement as he reported how Duffy had implicated Harper.

Finally Mansbridge and the CBC had Harper, the bane of CBC’s existence, on the proverbial ropes.

But if you look at the facts objectively, rather than through a visceral anti-Harper prism, it becomes clear that Harper is blameless. I predict the prime minister will ride out this Ottawa-centric media blip. And emerge stronger and more politically powerful than ever.

Mike Duffy was appointed by Harper in 2009 as a Senator representing the province of Prince Edward Island. Duffy was a resident of P.E.I., in the limited sense that he owned a cottage in that province which he visited there infrequently.

Duffy’s primary residence was in Ottawa, where he spent the majority of his time prior to his senate appointment.

Typically, with respect to a senator’s primary residence in his home province, he is responsible for paying his own personal housing expenses from his salary. So as to avoid the burden of supporting two residences, the senator is permitted to claim reasonable housing expenses for the limited time he occupies a secondary premise in Ottawa when he is on senate business.

However, once Duffy was appointed a Senator in 2009, he apparently breached the spirit, if not the actual senate rules, pertaining to claiming housing expenses.

Because notwithstanding Duffy’s appointment, there was no change in his personal living circumstances. The only change was that since 2009, Duffy started improperly claiming his Ottawa housing costs that he had previously paid from his own pocket prior to his senate appointment. In effect, Duffy was improperly sticking the Canadian taxpayer with the bill.

Fiction upon fiction upon fiction.

Simply, the Canadian taxpayer was getting screwed by this puffed-up pontificator.

According to a Montreal Gazette article, Duffy’s questionable behaviour first outlined an Ottawa Citizen article on December 4, 2012, in which Duffy claimed $33,413 in living expenses for a “secondary home” in Ottawa.

Duffy’s position was that he immediately contacted Nigel Wright, the prime minister’s chief of staff, and explained that he had done nothing improper. According to Duffy, Wright e-mailed him back to say the senator’s expenses checked out and that all his spending was in compliance with senate rules.

Wright’s position was that Duffy was concerned that he would lose his senate position over the question of his residency in P.E.I. Wright assured him that there was no risk since the definition of “residency” is not defined in the Constitution.

Regardless of which version is correct, Duffy knew that senators could not claim a living allowance if their primary residence was within 100 kilometres of Ottawa. Duffy knew or should have known that his claims for living expenses on his Ottawa residence was improper and in breach of the rules, if not the spirit of the senate rules.

Furthermore, just because Wright may or may not have given Duffy questionable advice, this in no way makes Harper culpable in this matter. Clearly, Harper was not party to these conversations and cannot be held responsible for Wright’s actions.

Duffy’s expense claims were sent to senate auditors and by February, 2013, the senate had demanded that Duffy pay back all improper housing expenses including interest.

On February 13, Duffy met with Harper in Ottawa and he was told by Harper that he must repay all improper housing expense claims.

Recall Tom Mulcair’s reaction in Parliament upon learning that Duffy stated in the senate a few days ago, that in February, Duffy discussed his expense claims with Harper. And Harper told him in very direct terms to repay them.

Mulcair, like a modern day Émile Zola, accused Harper of being directly implicated in this Duffy Scandal, when it was already public knowledge that Harper had known of these improper expense claims and that he had wanted them repaid by Duffy, without delay.

On February 22, Duffy publicly stated he would repay his living expenses, confessing that he had made a mistake in declaring P.E.I. his primary residence.

On March 25, the senate was reimbursed for $90,172.24 of Duffy’s housing expenses, though at the time, this news was not made public.

On April 19, the senate publicly confirmed the repayment of Duffy’s expenses.

On May 15, Harper’s office confirmed that chief of staff and millionaire Nigel Wrightwrote Duffy a personal cheque of more than $90,000 to cover the repayment of expenses.

On May 19, Nigel Wright resigned as Harper’s chief of staff. Wright stated: “I did not advise the Prime Minister of the means by which Sen. Duffy’s expenses were repaid, either before or after the fact.”

Harper has confirmed Wright’s position that his chief of staff acted without Harper’s knowledge. To date there has been no proof to the contrary, despite the efforts of Mulcair and Trudeau to directly implicate Harper with Wright.

Accordingly, Harper cannot and should not be held accountable for the actions of Wright in giving Duffy a $90,000 cheque from which to pay back Duffy’s improper living expense claims. And the related media and political scheme designed to make the Duffy matter go away.

Bottom line.

When a Conservative senator improperly used taxpayers’ money, Harper and his people demanded that those public monies be repaid. The actual loss to taxpayers in the Duffy case — nil, nada, zero.

When the Federal Liberals were caught lining the pockets of Liberal ad agencies with millions of dollars of public money (the infamous sponsorship scandal), those funds were gone for good.

When the Ontario Liberals wasted millions of dollars on two unpopular gas plants, they didn’t aggressively sue the non-compliant power plant developers to recover the public’s money. Instead they tripled down and paid over $1.1 billion in public money to make this problem go away.

As for the NDP, remember tax-and-spend Ontario NDP Premier Bob Rae. And the failed campaigns of NDP Dix and Dexter. Positive proof that Canadians still do not want the NDP anywhere near their money.

Don’t forget the Mulcair/McQuaig team who would tax everything in sight.

The Canadian people may not personally like Stephen Harper. But more importantly, Harper’s base, the Canadian heartland, outside of Old Toronto, in rural Ontario and in the west, still trust that Harper and his party would better manage the economy and not waste or blow their hard-earned tax dollars.

After nine years of Harper rule, is this the best the Liberals and NDP can do? This liberal media-inspired Duffy mini-scandal. Where the public actually got its money back.

“Dirty Harry” Harper Stands Up To Befuddled Obama

In a clear warning shot across President Obama’s bow, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper voiced the strongly-held view of millions of Canadians.

If Obama rejects the Keystone XL pipeline from the Alberta oilfields to the US Gulf Coast, Harper clearly stated, “My view is that you don’t take no, for an answer.”

In other words, Harper pulled a “Dirty Harry,” and challenged Obama, by saying in effect, “President Obama, go ahead, cancel Canada’s Keystone pipeline, and make our day!”

Harper conveyed these strong comments recently in New York at a Canadian American Business Council meeting.

When referring to a possible negative response from Obama, Harper said. “We haven’t had that, but if we were to get that, it won’t be final. This won’t be final until it’s approved and we will keep pushing forward…The logic behind this project is simply overwhelming.”

Harper added that politics has cast doubt on whether the pipeline will be approved, but Harper is optimistic it will be approved.

“Ultimately, over time, bad politics make bad policy,” he added. “The president has always assured me that he will a make decision that’s in what he believes is in the best interests of the United States based on the facts. I think the facts are clear.”

Predictably, Harper was criticized in Huffington Post, by former Liberal leader Bob Rae.

Bob Rae had the gall to publicly criticize Harper for saying out loud, what has been patently obvious even to the most uninformed voter on both sides of the American/Canadian border.

That the decision of whether to approve or reject the Keystone XL pipeline, is first, last and foremost, all about politics!

Like Harper, Rae is a career politician. He eats, sleeps and breathes politics 24/7.

Rae should know politics when he sees it.

But as a partisan Liberal politician, Rae could not help but take a cheap political shot at Harper, for standing up to the most powerful political leader in the world in New York and speaking truth to power.

And for Harper essentially exposing Obama as a weak, dithering and befuddled leader of the once great United States.

Rae wrote:

“Mr. Harper’s outburst in New York about Keystone is particularly strange. Former Ambassador Jacobson used to talk publicly about a U.S. ‘process.’ But now Mr. Harper has declared that it’s all politics. One can only guess what the administration thinks of a prime minister who saunters into New York and effectively bad mouths the American administration and environmental process. Lester Pearson was picked up by the lapels by LBJ for less.”

I would like to see the slight Obama pick up the portly Harper by his lapels. That would be “must-see TV” for me on CNN.

As to the whether this endless ongoing review of the Keystone pipeline is a non partisan, scientific, fact-based, apolitical environmental process, that ship sailed way back in 2010.

At that time, the then Secretary of State Hilary Clinton stated that although the State Department had not completed its full analysis, Clinton was ready to sign off on approving the Keystone pipeline, way back in 2010!

But as the CNN article argues, pro-environment donors and organizations warned Obama in 2011, over 12 months prior to the 2012 Presidential election, that unless Obama rejected the Keystone pipeline, he would not be able to count on the donations of large pro environment donors and the organizational strength of large pro environment groups, for his re-election efforts.

So for largely political reasons, and in order to retain his pro-environment base, Obama punted the Keystone decision to after the 2012 Presidential election.

In early March, 2013, I wrote in the Huffington Post that the US State Department released a draft environment impact statement on the Keystone pipeline project.

This report concluded “the approval or denial of the proposed Project is unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development in the oil sands, or in the amount of heavy crude oil refined in the Gulf Coast area.”

This State Department report concluded that the oil-sands producers would eventually find new routes to markets, including the growing use of rail cars to transport crude oil around North America.

Since the issuance of that report, that is what has happened in the last six months.

In short, the pipeline will have minimal impact on the global emissions of greenhouse gases, because the oil will alternatively be transported by rail and other pipelines east and west to market. In addition, in the absence of Canadian oil, the US would still have to rely on imported Venezuelan oil, which also produces greenhouse gases.

Notwithstanding the clear conclusions of this State Department report, Obama’s wealthy eco-supporters in Hollywood, California and New York, and many Democratic environmental groups continued to oppose Keystone.

As a result, Obama has become immobilized by indecision, much like Obama’s “on again, off again” befuddled non-military response to Syria numerously crossing Obama’s chemical weapons’ red line.

There have been over five years of determined and diplomatic lobbying by Canadian oil companies, TransCanada Corporation, the Canadian pipeline company, the governments of Alberta and Canada. And despite the support of many Democratic labor unions and Democratic and Republican representatives, Obama still dithers, afraid to make a decision.

Harper has concluded that Obama cannot be trusted. If he rejects Keystone, so be it.

Harper should be commended for speaking truthfully to Obama and the US, that Canada’s oil and gas industry is critical to Canada’s future prosperity. And that Harper will continue to fight to transport Alberta oil to the US regardless whether Obama rejects Keystone.

In a few years, Harper will still be prime minister. Obama will have faded into history.

Harper correctly concludes that the next American President will have the cojones and smarts to approve Keystone for the sake of retaining a reliable and critical source of American energy, for American national security and for growing the American economy.

Toronto’s New Hot Power Couple: Steve and Rob

I have not seen the leftist/liberal Toronto press in such a tizzy since the Biebs was caught on Yorkville smooching with his main squeeze, Selena Gomez.

Or when Brad and Angelina graced the red carpet at TIFF.

Because folks, we have a new hot couple in town.

Move over Brangelina!

Say hello to our latest power couple, Steve Harper and Rob Ford. Or “Reeve”. That has a nice political ring to it.

(Note, the Hollywood and Toronto press like to brand starlet combos by mashing together their first names. We all remember the ill-fated “Bennnifer”- Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. Actually, my two favorite TV couplings were Gossip Girl’s “Dair”, Dan and Blair and “Chair”, Chuck and Blair. But I digress.)

In a recent Toronto Star column, the normally staid columnist Tim Harper, was squealing like a starry-eyed political groupie. He breathlessly reported that Prime Minister Harper and Toronto Mayor Ford were spotted in Toronto. Together in public, embracing, for the first time, in a long time. OMG!

Apparently, this past weekend Prime Minister Harper was in Toronto.
And Harper threw political caution to the winds, by appearing in a photo shoot with the roguish Mayor Ford to announce that he will be kicking in $660 million to help fund Ford’s new Scarborough Subway.

In the past, Ford, due to the alleged “crack video”, was considered “persona not grata” by both federal and provincial Conservatives.

But apparently no longer.

The political bromance between Steve and Rob has gone public.

The Star’s Tim Harper obviously, auditioning for a gig at “People” or “US” magazines, accurately described the physical and stylistic differences of this odd couple.

“There’s our buttoned-down prime minister, the risk averse, purveyor of the bland, Stephen Harper. And there’s Toronto’s dishevelled, risk-happy, erratic mayor, Rob Ford. Stylistically, they are polar opposites.

Harper would treat a meeting with a voter in an unscripted moment as a crisis. Ford ditches his aides and wanders into crowds at a Saturday night street festival on the Danforth.

Harper works hard to avoid over exposure. Ford has his own open line show.

The prime minister seeks political advantage in a squeaky clean image, proudly denying marijuana use in his younger years while Ford laughs, and, without missing a beat, agrees he smoked “a lot.”

But underneath these superficial differences, these two amigos, share a lot more than a mutual love of bass fishing.

Since Ottawa and Toronto political life, is like high school, except with money and bigger stakes, let me explain the mutual attraction of these two political bedfellows.

Stephen Harper is your typical very brainy, intense, serious, straight “A” High School Student Council President. He is not very well-liked personally. But the students respect him and they believe he can get stuff done.

Rob Ford, on the other hand, is your beer-drinking, pot smoking, happy go lucky “C” student who is Captain of the Varsity Football team. Rob throws the best parties at the school. He is literally and figuratively a “big man on campus.” Most everybody loves Rob. Rob has a big heart. He has his own unique type of charisma and an intense following of friends and supporters who will stick by Rob, no matter how many times he screws up.

Stephen is a cold calculating political strategist. By his own admission, he is not very strong in the charisma department. In his next re-election campaign, he will be facing his most formidable opponent.

The best-looking and, hottest guy at the school. And the most popular student, at least with the female students and the elite, intellectual “in” crowd. We are referring of course, to the hip, pot-toking Justin, with the great wavy hair and tight jeans. The problem with Justin, is that though he is great-looking, he is a bit of an airhead.

Stephen needs Rob and his own band of friends and supporters. Stephen also hopes that some of Rob’s natural charisma and personal popularity may rub off on Stephen, making him looser, more interesting, and more approachable. Steve is hoping Rob will complete him.

On the other hand, Stephen’s friendship and support, brings Rob a lot of credibility and respect, and significant financial and organizational resources, that Rob will need when he runs for elected office himself.

Stephen also believes that with Rob, the two of them can go after the vast silent majority of the students, (the geeks, the freaks, the studious new immigrant students, the ESL types and the Goths).

Who are neither the establishment, the intellectual elite or the jocks and their girlfriends. But who will determine the difference between winning and losing, on election day.

The Steve and Rob Bromance. It looks like a match made in political heaven.

Harper’s Huge Political Blunder

Prime Minister Harper is often viewed by his many supporters and critics as a calculating political strategist with great political instincts. But here is a case, where Harper’s acute political instincts have failed him badly.

Harper has permitted his Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to revive Flaherty’s all-consuming goal of creating a single federal securities regulator.

Accordingly, Harper has committed an enormous political blunder.

This huge political blunder will not only revive the fortunes of Marois’ Pequiste government, but will wipe out the Federal Conservatives in vote-rich Quebec, (their remaining six federal seats). In addition, this blunder will reduce Federal Conservative support throughout Canada, especially in its western base and inevitably lead to a devastating Conservative defeat in the next federal election.

Since we have all seen this film before, Flaherty and his spinmeisters will have a harder time pulling the wool over our eyes. At least for some of us.

Flaherty clearly seems to have hoodwinked the Ontario Finance Minister Sousa, into jumping on board the single “national co-operative” securities regulator.

Sousa, Premier Wynne and the whole Liberal Government do not appreciate that Flaherty’s scheme is clearly contrary to Ontario’s own economic and fiscal interests, but will clearly benefit the Federal government at the expense of Ontario.

As I will elaborate in a subsequent article, Sousa, by purportedly signing the province of Ontario onto the Flaherty “co-operative” scheme, will in effect hand over the levers of Ontario’s economy to Flaherty and Harper.

Flaherty’s “co-operative” scheme will also restrict Ontario’s ability to access the capital markets, in order for Ontario to fund its annual deficits and its rapidly growing provincial debt. Thus forcing Ontario to drastically raise corporate and personal taxes and drastically cut its annual social welfare, health care and educational government expenditures.

Minister Flaherty, let us try to cut out all this hooey.

Your single “co-operative national securities regulator” is in reality, an Ottawa-dominated single federal securities regulator bent on the federal government intruding into and substantially influencing the economies of each of the provinces.

You and you alone, have been the driving force behind this federal initiative. Not the provinces of B.C. and Ontario. There is nothing voluntary or co-operative about your single federal securities regulator scheme.

Last time around, (pre 2011) Flaherty tried to dress this scheme up and market it to the Canadian people and the Supreme Court as a “single national” securities regulator, with a voluntary opt-in provision.

The only province that supported Flaherty’s regulator model and reference to the Supreme Court of Canada, was Ontario. The participation of one province, even the great Ontario, does not confer national status on such a regulator.

Also the voluntary opt-in feature. Not so voluntary. Because once a province like Ontario opted in, it was like a bear trap. Once in, the province had to renounce its existing securities law and regulations and hand over to the feds its securities regulatory infrastructure. Practically speaking, the province could not then choose to opt back out, because it had no laws, regulations or securities regulatory infrastructure, with which to start afresh.

This time around, Flaherty is calling his latest scheme, a “national co-operative” securities regulator, with the emphasis on the “co-operative.” But it is still a federal bear trap.

As the Globe and Mail‘s Sophie Cousineau astutely notes,

“Finance Minister Jim Flaherty calls it the ‘co-operative’ regulator. That is false advertising. The initiative was concocted behind the backs of Quebec and Alberta, two provinces that have long fought Ottawa’s attempts to encroach upon their jurisdiction over securities regulation, and that have won their case all the way to the Supreme Court.”

The provinces of B.C. and Ontario (the latter, not officially) have been voluntarily co-operating in a provincial regulatory securities system known as the passport system with all the other provinces, including Alberta and Quebec, for many years.

Accordingly, it was not very “co-operative” for B.C. and Ontario, to secretly, without the knowledge of its fellow provincial passport partners, to enter into a back room deal with the feds, in an attempt to isolate Alberta and Quebec. Both provinces,Quebec and Alberta, as expected, have come out against Flaherty’s new scheme.

Prime Minister Harper, what in the name of Brian Mulroney and Meech Lake were you thinking?

Canadian history has shown that back room deals, without proper knowledge of the parties affected, usually lead to failure and sometimes disastrous political consequences for the participants.

Mulroney begat Meech Lake which begat The Bloc and Reform and the end of the Progressive Conservative Party.

As for Quebec…

Marois’ Charter of Values has failed to unite Quebec society behind her party against the rest of Canada. Her party was heading to a possible defeat in the next provincial election.

For the first time in a long time, Harper’s Conservatives’ defense of Quebec’s religious minorities, and opposition to Marois’ Charter, were gaining some traction in Quebec and there was a potential for political growth for the Conservatives in Quebec.

Flaherty’s revival of the single federal securities regulator and his clumsy attempt to once again isolate Quebec on this file, will have the effect of reviving Marois’ party.

As the Globe‘s Cousineau notes:

“The Quebec government has already indicated it will challenge the co-operative national regulator every step of the way. And in that fight it has the full backing of the province’s political and business elite, from the National Bank of Canada to the Desjardins financial group. Keeping the province’s securities regulator in Quebec is as unifying an issue as the Charter of Quebec Values is divisive.”

Accordingly, every Quebec provincial party will be supporting the Marois government in its political and constitutional fight against Flaherty trying to impose a single federal securities regulator on Quebec and the rest of Canada. All of Quebec will oppose Flaherty’s attempt to interfere in Quebec’s regulation of derivatives and by extension, the Quebec economy.

Since Quebec is an important political base for Mulcair’s NDP and Trudeau sees great potential in Quebec as well, Mr. Harper, you have just handed your opponents a great Quebec issue with which to attack your remaining six Federal Conservative members in Quebec.

Because of this one decision, you will have wiped out your entire Quebec caucus. But the political devastation won’t be restricted to Quebec.

I predict your Alberta, Saskatchewan, B.C. and Manitoba conservative base will oppose Flaherty’s unconstitutional and unwarranted federal intrusion into their provincial economies. And apparent federal grab of their western oil and gas and resource industries.

Because Mr. Prime Minister, as you seemed to have forgotten, your western base can imagine what a Trudeau or Mulcair government would do with an intrusive single federal securities regulator in western Canada.

Say hello to the return of the dreaded National Energy Program.

Mr. Prime Minister, shelve this Flaherty Folly for good. Keep Flaherty’s eye on the ball of reducing deficits and reducing taxes. Otherwise Flaherty will pull a “Balsillie” (who chased NHL dreams, while Blackberry burned).

And the Conservative Party and brand will go the way of the once invincible Blackberry.

What Harper Should Say to Marois and Quebecers about Marois’ Charter of Anti-Canadian Values

Conventional wisdom suggests Prime Minister Harper should tread lightly on Quebec Premier Marois’ proposed Charter of Quebec values.

However, my unsolicited advice to Harper is more creative and out of the box. Perhaps, a bit outrageous.

But potentially more effective. And may even be a political game changer.

However, firstly, by way of background.

Marois’ proposed Charter is more akin to a provocative Charter of Anti-Canadian Values, in which Quebec proposes to legislate against the wearing of religious symbols, i.e. Jewish kippas, Sikh turbans and Muslim head coverings by all civil servants, employees and professionals in Quebec public institutions. Such a Charter would broadly apply to daycare workers, teachers, professors, doctors, nurses, police, firemen and even liquor store retail clerks.

The effect of such aCharter would be to not only remove such religious symbols from Quebec public life, but may also deter Quebec residents who wear such religious symbols from working in such public institutions. Causing also many such religiously observant Quebec residents to avoid using such public services. And ultimately, discouraging such people from coming to or staying in Quebec itself.

Now that is very draconian and short-sighted on Marois’ part.

A new Quebec QMI Agency poll suggests 67 per cent of all Quebec respondents — 77 per cent of francophones — say there is already “too much” religious accommodation. Two-thirds of francophones say a Charter of Quebec Values is a “good idea.”

John Ivison astutely points out in a recent National Post article that,

Harper has spent the summer overhauling his Quebec team, making Denis Lebel, the infrastructure minister, his regional lieutenant, and bringing in a new top adviser, former staffer Catherine Loubier. The intent is to be more sensitive to francophone Quebeckers. This renewed effort has led to a bump in the polls — up to 38 per cent in the Quebec City region where the party lost all its seats in 2011.

Harper and his team appreciate that if Harper publicly comes down too hard on Marois and her PQ Party and accuse them of being intolerant, xenophobic, and racist,- in addition to Harper potentially losing critical French Quebec votes, Marois and her ministers would also use Harper’s intervention to their Party’s advantage.

Already Quebec’s Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Alexandre Cloutier, who is also the minister of “sovereigntist governance,” has used Twitter to take a swipe at critical articles in the Calgary Herald and National Post.

“Being called a xenophobe by the Calgary Herald,” Cloutier said, in remarks he repeated about the other newspaper. “Once again, a lack of perspective and understanding from the ROC.”

Accordingly, if Harper criticized Marois and the PQ using the same language, Marois and his ministers would in turn claim that Harper and the rest of Anglo Canada do not understand French Quebec and its need to protect its identity and culture. Marois would then try to use this proposed Charter as a wedge issue, to: (1) unify French Quebecers against the rest of Canada and proponents of multiculturalism both within and without Quebec; (2) gain an electoral majority in the next Quebec election; and (3) provide a basis for winning conditions for another referendum on Quebec sovereignty.

On the other hand, if Harper does very little, he and his party risk ceding the high moral and political ground to Justin Trudeau on this issue. Harper also risks losing many potential Anglophone, Allophone, ethnic, and federalist francophone Quebec votes to Trudeau and his Liberals. And Harper also risks losing many ethnic voters outside of Quebec.

To Trudeau’s credit, Trudeau has publicly criticized the Marois government and has expressed serious concerns about the limits that would be imposed upon Quebec people in terms of their freedom of religion and freedom of expression by this proposed Charter of Quebec Values.

So Harper may be damned if he does or damned, if he doesn’t.

Unless Harper tries something completely different.

I propose that Harper go right into Marois’ backyard.

Quebec City. Ground Zero for Quebec nationalism.

And be totally uncharacteristic for Stephen Harper.

He should give a rousing, humorous and passionate speech mostly in French, (with a smattering of English, Yiddish and Italian), predominantly directed at French Quebecers.

He should go to Quebec City not to bury Marois, but to praise French Quebec.

Instead of hectoring, lecturing and criticizing Marois and her party over this proposed Charter, (as has been already done by many Canadian and French Canadiancommentators), Harper should appeal to the best qualities of French Quebecers.

Not to their base instincts or their prejudices or their insecurities, as Marois has done.

But to French Quebecers’ passion for life in all its complexities. Their openness and generous spirit.
Their very un Waspish imagination and creativity. French Quebec gave us Cirque de Soleil. Mon Dieu!

(Could you imagine stuffy Toronto Wasps willing to fling themselves in the air and do death-defying somersaults, without a net?)

And let us not forget the enormous drive, will to win and entrepreneurial spirit of French Quebecers as exemplified by the great Rocket Richard and the folks at Bombardier, who developed the ski-doo, sea- doo, and fancy private jets for international rock stars and Latin American drug lords!

And of course, Quebec humour. Caline de bine.

Quebec is the home of the “Just for Laughs Festival,” the largest comedy festival in the world.

And for good reason. Quebec is a pretty wild, crazy, absurd and funny place to live.

I know this from personal experience. I have a female lesbian cousin who is a very popular Quebec stand-up comic. And whose best material is in French about her raunchy relationship with her Muslim comic girlfriend.

Her show, “Kosher Jokes for the Halaladays” just kills. But I digress.

Believe it or not, our very own Stephen Harper is, deep down, one wild and crazy guy.
He has a terrific sense of humour.

When asked if he ever smoked pot, Harper replied that he was offered a joint once, but he was too drunk to smoke it.

Check out Harper on You Tube for his devastatingly funny impressions of Tory leaders Preston Manning, Diefenbaker, and the pompous and puffed up Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney.

My point is that Harper has the ability to deliver a very passionate, funny and pro French Quebec speech. Which would resonate with French Quebecers. Who are looking for an alternate vision of French Quebec.

I have Franco-Ontarian friends whose families in Quebec go back centuries. One such friend, her family settled in Quebec 11 generations ago. You can’t be more “pure laine” than that.

This wonderful, warm, smart, and tight family seems to be a typical French Quebec family.

Interestingly, at an early age, my friend and all her siblings attended English public schools in Quebec City.

They are still dyed in the wool Quebecois, mostly Quebec City residents, but who are all perfectly bilingual. As are their children. Their children are also all strong French Quebecois, but in some cases, with English, Italian, or Jewish partners. Some are Quebec nationalists. Some are Canadian federalists. But everyone in this family opposes the direction that Marois is taking Quebec.

That is, a Quebec that is afraid of itself. A Quebec that is intolerant, too insular, too homogeneous, anti-multicultural and too close-minded and small-minded.

I am convinced that there are many French Quebec families like this family. Which is open, caring and accepting of diversity and differences. Harper should take on Marois and her Pequistes by reaching out and appealing to these French Quebecers. To their very best natures.

Who knows? Such an effort may be a cultural and political game changer. It is certainly worth a shot.

Harper’s International Victory

As reported in the Huffington Post, the oil-rich country of Qatar has recently withdrawn its bid to move the UN agency, the International Civil Aviation Organization (“ICAO”) from its headquarters in Montreal, to Doha, the capital of Qatar.

Apparently, Qatar had been lobbying hard and quietly for many months, (if not years) dozens of UN nations, in expectation of a vote on this matter, to be held in September of this year. Qatar needed the votes of 60 per cent (115 member states) of the 191 UN members to effect the move of the ICAO headquarters from Montreal to Qatar.

Qatar would not have instituted this very public and ballsy diplomatic challenge to Canada if Qatar did not believe that it had already the required UN votes “in the bag.”

There was no public explanation from the Qatar sheikdom as to why it had withdrawn its offer to relocate the ICAO headquarters and all its staff.

Probably because Qatar had grossly underestimated the tenacity, determination and fight of the Canadian side led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Foreign Affairs Minister Baird, Quebec Separatist Premier Pauline Marois, and her lieutenant, International Relations Minister Jean-Francois Lisee and Mayor Applebaum of Montreal.

The insular oil potentates of Qatar also probably grossly underestimated how well Canada and the tough Harper Administration are regarded internationally.

We know that if the feckless Justin Trudeau were Prime Minister, upon learning of Qatar’s attack on Montreal’s ICAO headquarter, he would have spent the summer navel gazing, shaking his manly hair, at potential voters and blaming the Harper Administration for not playing nice with Arab dictators. And then searching for the “root causes” why Qatar, other Arab nations and the UN do not like Canada any more. Basically, all hot air. Content-free policies. No concrete strategy or action. Much like his leadership campaign.

Instead of navel gazing, Team Montreal, led by the very effective tag team of Harper and Baird, immediately secured the support of the Separatist Marois government and the support of Mayor Applebaum of Montreal. Baird then reached out to the Obama Administration and very quickly obtained its support and especially the vocal and public support of US Ambassador to Canada Jacobson.

Then according to the above Huffington Post article, Baird and his people together with the Quebec contingent contacted and lobbied hard over one hundred UN nations and secured widespread international support from countries in Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe.

Foreign Afairs Minister Baird admitted that he personally contacted 60 foreign ministers to seek their support and many such foreign ministers appeared to be persuaded by Baird and his people. According to Baird, Canada received great support, not unanimous support, but great support nonetheless.

Even such long-time Harper critics as the Marois Pequistes believed that the federal government’s efforts were very impressive and decisive.

The above-noted Lisee, a separatist minister, referring to the successful partnership between Baird and Lisee, praised each other’s commitments and ability to leave politics aside to work for a common purpose.

Lisee also praised the ability of Canada and Quebec to work together in jointly lobbying France on this matter. Specifically, Lisée noted that a good example of the unity they showed was in Paris, where Canadian Ambassador Lawrence Cannon and Quebec’s delegate general, Michel Robitaille, went together to the Quai d’Orsay — France’s foreign office — to press their case for Montreal.

As I wrote in my Huffington Postblogon this matter, the loss of the ICAO headquarters in Montreal would have been a huge financial and political blow for Canada, Montreal and Quebec.

Montreal is the centre of Canada’s aviation industry, and its international reputation as a major player is partly based on ICAO’s longtime residency and the fact that the third largest airplane manufacturer in the world is Quebec-based Bombardier.

The organization also feeds the city’s economy; it employs 534 staff and it generates some $119 million annually and 1,200 direct and indirect jobs.

Over a 20-year period, the term of the lease now being renewed by ICAO and Quebec/Canada, ICAO will generate several billion dollars of revenue for the city of Montreal.

This is not chump change. These are very real and substantial funds that would have been lost for good.

Also Canada would have lost enormous international prestige if Harper and Baird had not stood up and effectively fought back against Qatar’s ongoing attempts at buying international recognition (note Qatar won the right to host the 2022 World Soccer Cup) for itself by deploying its vast natural gas and oil riches.

This is a fight that Harper had to win. And he, Baird and the whole Team Montreal, won decisively. A huge international victory.

Harper not only won the vigorous support of the US, Britain and France, it won the majority support of the 27 European nations and many nations in South America, Africa and Asia. Even the powerful China, backed Canada.

Harper’s international support was so widespread and strong, that Qatar had no choice but to beat a hasty retreat to its oil-rich sheikdom, with its “pathetic tail between its legs.” Utterly and decisively humiliated.

The other big loser in this affair is of course the trust fund dilettante from Outremont, Justin Trudeau. Recall Trudeau took a typical partisan cheap shot at Harper and his government when the Qatar bid for the ICAO headquarters was made public.

Speaking to reporters after question period in early May, regarding the Qatar bid,Trudeau superficially pontificated, “I am concerned about the level of disengagement from multilateral organizations that this government is pushing forward,” Trudeau said, noting Canada’s “traditionally and historically” strong international role. “There is something going very wrong with this government’s approach to international affairs,” he said. “That’s why the move by Qatar to steal or to woo away the important UN regulatory body that’s established in Montreal on aviation is for me another example of the fact that this government is not serious about leadership in the world, which is something that is very important to many Canadians.”

Au contraire, you little pompous pontificator.

The deep and widespread international support for Canada, over the ICAO affair, indicates that Canada’s international standing and influence internationally, when it really counts, have never been stronger.